Ros at http://genwestuk.blogspot.com/ has come up with the idea of an A to Z genealogical challenge for the month of April. It soon got me thinking, so here are my contributions.
Names - i have always been fascinated by the fashion of Christian names, from the 17th century Puritan influences that made popular Faith, Hope, Charity and Patience to the current resurgence of Biblical names such as Daniel and Noah. In the 19th century, many a child was named Albert after Queen Victoria's husband, or Florence after Florence Nightingale.
This tradition seemed to die out at the turn of the 19th-20th century when other names appeared that did not survive too long beyond the early decades - Ethel, Doris, Edith, Winifred, Olive, Gertrude, Hilda and Elsie. In my husband's family c.1908-14. three daughters were christened Ivy, Lily and Violet.
Elizabeth and Margaret abounded in my school classroom - royal influence no doubt. In the Scottish Borders, surnames can be adopted as Christian names, so it is not unusual to get a Scott Elliot and an Elliot Scott.
I could go on for ever! I like to keep an eye out for the more unusual names - one being an Amethyst who, despite her opulent sounding name, was unfortunately an inmate in the Jedburgh Poorhouse. A fellow researcher in my local archives made sure we all knew his delight at finding an Horatio in the family in the early 19th century - named after Lord Nelson he liked to think.
Newspapers - I love browsing through old newspapers. They are goldmines, full of snippets of information that give a contemporary eye view. This is not textbook history but it is full of vigour on many varied aspects of life at the time for ordinary people.
My local archive centre holds 25 titles of local newpapers, with the oldest dated 1804. The earlier local newspapers contained little local news, but were full of headlines on “Foreign Intelligence”, “London Intelligence” and “Colonial News” with reports on parliamentary debates, court cases, military campaigns, society events, royal visits etc. Local news usually featured under a heading for the individual town or village.
|Wedding dress - 1879 |
Advertisements, generally on the front page for maximum impact, offer a valuable source of information on all aspects of life. In “The Kelso Mail” of January 1804 the main advert informed readers of the signals that would be made across Berwickshire and Roxburghshire on the “enemy’s fleet appearing off the coast”, with the threat of a Napoleonic invasion.
You can spend many an hour browsing through old editions and are bound to find something quirky to enliven the writing of your family history.