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Thursday 6 September 2012

R is for Regret, Receipts, Reconnecting, Railways & Regional Names: A-Z Challenge .

 I am enjoying participating in this series from Aona at http://www.gouldgenealogy.com/2012/05/take-the-family-history-through-the-alphabet-

R is for:

Research, Records,
Resources, References and Registrars  - at the heart of our family history activities.

Regret in not asking the right questions of the right people at the right time. 

Reconnecting with Relatives  - family history has given me the push  to get in touch with relatives e.g. my mother's cousins, who  I knew about from my childhood,  but had had no contact  particularly when  they had moved to another part of the country. I prevaricated about this for ages,  but what  a resource I had been missing out on!  I have had a marvellous reception from them  to hearing  a family voice from the past - "I remember a little girl with pig tails".  We have exchanged memories and paid visits.

The daughter of my Great Aunt Jennie had a box of memorabilia in her loft, which she  wondered what to do with - and I was the benefactor of photographs, used heavily in my blog, including the only photograph of my great grandfather James Danson and two unknown photographs of my great grandmother Maria Rawcliffe - plus much much more.   I was also able to see and photograph Maria's teaset and jewellery (below).  I was touching personal possessions used by Maria who lived 1859-1919. 

A brooch and necklace brought back from Malta by Maria's son Frank,
 after he was in hospital on the island  during the First World War.

Receipts  - those bits of paper which tend to get thrown out. Yet they are a  piece of ephemera  that can be so full of interest for family historians. 


This receipt was paid by my grandmother Alice English on February 26th 1907 for: two yards of bodice lining, hooks, silk sundries and bodice making. Two months later Alice married William Danson.  Was this her wedding outfit? It surely must have had sentimental value for it to be kept.

Regional Names  -  my main areas of interest are my mother's Danson and Rawcliffe families - both prominent names in Lancashire.  My father John Weston came from the English Midlands, where that surname is prevalent.

I live now in the Scottish Borders, which has many distinctive surnames associated with the region. If  you are researching the surname of Scott, Turnbull, Elliot, or Armstrong you have a challenge ahead of you to ensure you are looking at the right branch - there are so many. 

I recently helped a friend trace her Spowart miner ancestors  in Fife, Scotland.  The surname to me was unusual, but look at Fife records, and Spowarts abound.

Railways - I find railway history fascinating and I think we tend to forget what an outstanding development railways were. You have only to read old newspaper accounts on the coming of a railway to a community to realise the impact it had and what a difference it could make to the lives of ordinary people now able to travel other than on foot or by horse and cart.

Peebles Station in the Scottish Borders - since demolished and now a car park. .
From the postcard collection of the Heritage Hub, Hawick
 Rich and Rewarding Research


  1. I can relate to every one of those R words.

    You mentioned that Elliot's in Scotland are prevalent ... now you have me worried, as I have Elliott's (2 T's) in my own family, and Elliot's (1 T) in my hubby's - neither of which I've researched beyond Australia as yet. But thanks to your warning I shall brace myself for a plethora of Elliot's when I do.

  2. Thr Rs have it. Thanks for another fab reflective post.

  3. There is so much here i can relate to. I'm particularly taken with regret which is an attribute that never occurred to me for my own post. I too have railway "blood" and I'm convinced that old receipts and family finances could tell us much about our ancestors' lives. Well done on being given that inheritance of photos etc.

  4. I love this post, Susan. How wonderful that reaching out has brought relatives back to you. Reminded me of how it was when I did the same thing. Just amazing... :-)
    What a joy for you to become the recipient of Great Aunt Jennie's memorabilia. I imagine that, if no-one had shown any interest, these precious objects would have been chucked.
    Thanks so much for sharing. Cheers,Catherine PS... that is a BEAUTIFUL teaset!!!


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