Genealogy Chat

Top tip - using the Genes Reunited community

Welcome to the Genes Reunited community boards!

  • The Genes Reunited community is made up of millions of people with similar interests. Discover your family history and make life long friends along the way.
  • You will find a close knit but welcoming group of keen genealogists all prepared to offer advice and help to new members.
  • And it's not all serious business. The boards are often a place to relax and be entertained by all kinds of subjects.
  • The Genes community will go out of their way to help you, so don’t be shy about asking for help.

Quick Search

Single word search

New Scottish Census

New Scottish census records

Do you have Scottish ancestors?

Perhaps you do and you just didn't know! Search our brand new Scottish census records today and discover if you have Scottish roots.

Search Scottish Census


  • New posts
  • No new posts
  • Thread closed
  • Stickied, new posts
  • Stickied, no new posts

Historical context offers valuable clues

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date

Paul Barton, Special Agent

Paul Barton, Special Agent Report 6 May 2013 09:50

For a long time I had wondered why my ancestor Richard Wilmshurst had returned to London around 1808 after living in New York for about 14 years. He had even become a naturalised US citizen in 1802. What had so disaffected him?

Yesterday I decided to explore the history of New York at the time he was there. I discovered that in 1807 the US government brought in the Embargo Act, which banned the import of foreign goods into American ports. The act had little effect on the British and French who simply found trade elsewhere, but it had a severe effect on American merchants who no longer had access to stock. High on this list were textiles. The US textile industry was in its infancy, so there had been a heavy reliance on foreign imports.

Richard was a tailor and without cloth he would have been unable to trade. Although the legislation only lasted a couple of years, it's quite obvious to me that Richard's decision to return home must have been prompted by this ill-considered law.

To me this is a perfect example of the value of historical context to understand our ancestors' actions.