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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

From Book to Blog - Writing Up Research

What do you do with all the information you gather on your family history?  Magazines are full of articles on research advice, archive sources and new websites, but it is far more difficult finding guidelines on writing up your research.   The challenge, of course, is when to stop researching and start writing - it is always a case of "I'll wait until I have found out that vital missing bit of information". 

My inspiration came from a book I came across some time ago "William and Christina:  One Woman's Search For Her Ancestors" by Hilary Wallace Forrester.  I was immediately attracted by its format of linking local and family history and giving an emphasis to sources. The author traces the story of her great grandparents - their ancestors and descendants, the background to their lives and the places (Scottish and English Border country) and the times in which they lived.   My own story of "James and Maria - A Fylde Story of their Ancestors and Descendants" owes much to her style.

Progress is slow and I have only completed Part 1- The Rawliffe Story, based around my great grandmother Maria, wife of James Danson. There is something special about seeing my work in a printed and bound format, rather than loose-leaf in a file.

One feature I introduced  in each chapter was a timeline text box  to show what was happening in the  lifetime of my ancestors on the local, national and internationlal scene,  whether it was the opening of the railway, the invention of the sewing machine, the Irish Potato Famine,  or the Crimean War. People seem to like this and I have used it a lot when writing up family histories for friends. 

Now I have become a blogging enthusiast, my "magnum opus" has come to a halt and my deadline for a Christmas finish for "Part 2 - The Danson Story"  looks increasingly unlikely.  Compiling short articles for the blog and using my collection of family photographs has taken over and is giving me huge pleasure.  It is a great, quick and satisfying way of writing up research! 

Look out for my next two articles to commemorate Remembrance Day:
The Danson Family at War
William Danson - Postcards from Flanders.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Danson and Rawcliffe Stories - Recapped

I thought it was time to recap my Danson and Rawcliffe stories.  so if you missed them first time around, have a look now.

August 2010 - MARIA - A SPANISH LOOK IN LANCASHIRE
The character of my great-grandmother, Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (left)  had always appealed to me.   Her name was an evocative mixture of down-to-earth Lancashire grit with echoes of a more flamboyant Latin nature. She looked a formidable lady from the one photograph I had initially of her. To give additional colour there was a, no doubt,  apocryphal story that “granny’s dark looks” came from Spanish descent, after an Armada ship had been wrecked off the Fylde coast of Lancashire............................................



September 2010 - A RAWCLIFFE FAMILY CONUNDRUM - MARIA OR MARTHA?
I  had always been told my great grandmother's name was Maria Rawcliffe of Hambleton, the Fylde, Lancashire.   But there was a puzzle in that many official  records, such as her 1877 marriage certificate, the 1881 census entry and my grandfather's  birth certificate  gave her name as Martha.   I sent away to Garstang Registrar for Maria's  birth certificate c.1859 and outlined my confusion over her Christian name.   To my surprise there were two certificates.............................

 
 September 2010 - ST. CHAD'S CHURCH, POULTON-LE-FYLDE - FAMILY MEMORIES
St. Chad’s Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire is at the heart of my family history, as Dansons were baptised, married and buried there down the generations from John Danson, born 1736, son of Peter......................................


September 2010 - THE DANSON ANCESTRAL HOME - TRAP FARM, CARLETON
My ancestral home (right) in 1998 - but not quite as I imagined it! 
In 1841 and 1851 my great, great grandfather Henry Danson and family were living at Trap Farm, Carleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire in a household of 13...................





September 2010 - JAMES DANSON IN THE STOCKS
The only photograph of my great grandfather James Danson, came from his daughter's shoebox collection.  James, sitting in the stocks in the square at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  is the merry figure on the left, clearly enjoying life........................







September 2010 - JENNIE DANSON - THE CHANGING FACE OF FASHION
My great aunt Jennie was,  by all accounts,  quite a feisty character.  The only daughter after 10 sons..............








September 2010  - THE DANSON SISTERS - ALL DRESSED UP
My mother and aunt, Kathleen and Edith Danson were very close, born 1908 and 1907, separated only by one year and one week, the eldest daughters of William Danson and Alice English of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.....................

Friday, 8 October 2010

Peter Pringle - A Scottish Chelsea Pensioner

A change in this post from my Danson and Rawcliffe stories.  Have you seen online the new records for the Chelsea Pensioners Service Records at www.findmypast.co.uk?    They go back to 1754 and make fascinating reading.

My interest  was in Peter Pringle of Duns, Berwickshire  who in the 1851 census was described as a "Blind Chelsea Pensioner", born Duns.  His wife Arabella was born in Ireland and his son John was born in Chatham, Kent.  The helpful background notes on the website outlined that not all pensioners lived at the  Royal Hospital Chelsea, with others, like Peter receiving “out relief.”

I was keen to find out more about Peter's military career.  An online list of soldiers named a Peter Pringle as serving in the Peninsula War and at Waterloo - though there was nothing to confirm if this was “my” Peter Pringle.  Another online listing of army births, held at the National Archives, confirmed the birth at Chatham in 1824 of John, son of Peter Pringle and also the birth in 1826 in Hobart Town (Tasmania?)  of Arabella, daughter of Peter Pringle.  This surely must be the same family, bringing to light an early Australian connection, with Hobart set up as a penal colony in  1803-4.  Had Peter served on a convict ship?  All this information got more and more absorbing, so I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the pensioner records online.

The record on  Peter Pringle related to his discharge in 1829,   "through physical infirmity of chronic rheumatism".  He had served since 1801 in the 20th Dragoons, 14th Foot and 40th Foot.  Unfortunately the section on service was very difficult to decipher, but the place names look to be Spanish, with a reference to  Peter being twice wounded at the capture of Cuidad Rodrigo (?).   I also found out he was 46 years old , 5 foot 6 inches tall, with blue eyes and fair complexion. His conduct as a soldier had been "extremely good".
I was a wee bit disappointed not to find out anything more on the the possible Australian connection, but it was still great to see this record  and add further colour to the Pringle family story.