I adopted the theme on what we experience our family history journey and must admit as we have reached N it is becoming more of a challenge without becoming repetitive. So this week with the Letter N I am highlighting two sidelines which family historians can experience with their research - Names and Newspapers.
Names - I have always been fascinated by the fashion of Christian names, and have come across in the past few weeks some unusual examples:
- Alice Repentance ________. This sounds as if it stemmed from 17th century Puritan times but I came across it in Lancashire Old Parish Records online - and the date 1878. What could be the background to this choice of middle name?
- Isabella Verdun Ypres_____, born in the First World War. Again what sad story was behind these choice of battle names for a baby?
- Zeppelina_________ celebrated her 21st birthday with a newspaper report that she was named after a German Zepplin which crashed near her her home in Essex on the day she was born in 1916.
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 newspapers, 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.
Names and Newspapers - just two of the directions you can experience on your family story journey.