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Tuesday, 7 April 2015


 A-Z of Family History Sources & Stories 
Join me on this A-Z journey to explore the fascinating records 
that can  enhance your family history research and writing.

EPITAPHS recorded in Monumental Inscriptions can often be moving or witty.  Ones relating to my family follow the traditional pattern, and are not particularly striking, but this one appealed to me in paying tribute to  young Alice Cookson who died 9 May 1815 aged 22, with the touching poetic thought   "She lived respected and died lamented".   

EMIGRATION - where would we be without the Internet when it comes to finding emigration records?  Ancestry provided me with the details on my great great aunt Alice Mason, nee Rawcliffe aged 33  who set sail   on board the Aurania from Liverpool to Brooklyn, New York with 6 children aged 10 months to 11 years old, plus two pieces of baggage - can you imagine how she had to cope with the living conditions on board?  She joined her husband who had sailed a year earlier and they went onto have five more children in New York - so plenty material here to enliven a family history tale.  

ELECTION ROLLS are useful adjuncts to census  returns in  confirming that an individual  lived at a specific address at a specific  time and was eligible to vote. But it is important to remember,  when looking for your female ancestors,  that women in Britain  only gained the vote on the same basis as men in 1928, with limited suffrage given ten years earlier to women aged 30 and over who met the minimum property qualification.

EPHEMERA Time to trawl your loft, cupboards, drawers and boxes for interesting pieces of paper that can often get thrown out - handbills, leaflets, letter headed receipts, business cards  etc.   Yet they can be so full of interest for family historians.  I found an eclectic mix of papers  when clearing my parents and my grandfather's house.    They recall a birth, marriage and death, letters - and also some shopping. 

My grandmother Alice English married William Danson in April 1907.  In a shoebox of family photographs and memorabilia was this receipt  paid by Alice on February 26th 1907 for:  Two yards of bodice lining, hooks, silk sundries and bodice making.  Was this her wedding outfit?  It surely must have had sentimental value for it to be kept? 

The letter below is the only item I have in my grandmother's writing, so is particularly wonderful to find, written to her sister -in-law Jennie on the birth of her baby  daughter in 1930.  I wonder why this was kept at my grandparents, rather than with Jennie.

From a birth and marriage to the end of a life, with a document showing the purchase of a burial plot by my grandfather William Danson at a charge of one pound and 14 shillings.  The date of 31st January 1911 is significant, as his baby son George Frederick  died that month  at just a few weeks old.

Goodness only knows why this butcher's bill of 1925 was kept, but the design of the letterhead  appealed to me.  I did  a Google search and believe the crest is that of the Master Butchers. I must admit that the prospect of eating "pickled tongues" does not appeal to me;  the other items could be pork and liver.  Take note of the date - 14th February, Valentine's Day. 

From the same year (1925) the purchase of a pair of children's one  bar shoes. These must have been for my aunt Peggy - very much the "baby" of the family,  born in 1921.  But it was three months later before the bill was paid!

Both businesses are listed  under  of Trades and Professions in an 1934 Directory of Poulton, Lancashire -  W. Bennet under Butchers and Arthur Clegg, under Boots & Shoe Dealers  and Cloggers.

And finally a business card I had never seen before, marking my mother's working life before her marriage.   She was apprenticed as a tailoress at the age of 14, and later ran a business from her home. 

A thought!  What are you collecting in ephemera which might interest future generations of family historians?
Onto F for Funerals, Farming & FamilySearch 



  1. I have a passing interest in family history. I have enjoyed the articles you have written so far in the blogging challenge. I would love to come back after the challenge has finished to read more of your interesting articles. Carolyn from Pastimes-Passions-Paraphernalia.org.

    1. Many thanks for your kind message, Carolyn. Do please keep in touch, as I am happy to help with any family history enquiry.


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