Friday, 28 August 2015

WDYTYA? - Derek Jacobi

Derek Jacobi's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was actually very, very interesting. From a working-class East End background, Derek was interested to learn of his links to French ancestors - more specifically, French Huguenots.

Huguenots were Protestant refugees fleeing persecution in Catholic France, where they risked imprisonment, torture, and death. They escaped to England in their droves - creating their own industries and communities centred in London. Derek's ancestor, Joseph De Les Plaines (apologies if I've misspelt that, because it's very possible that I have,) was of a higher class than most of the Huguenots, who were usually poor weavers rather than middle-class clerks. What comes next though is the story of a man who, in his 60s, left an imprisonment that can be fairly be described as inhumane, and travelled to Britain in the hopes of freedom and the ability to practice his religion without fear of persecution.

The time period (the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries) is a very interesting one, and one that we perhaps often neglect in favour of other periods of history - for example, the Tudors, the Victorians, etc. We know still less about the history of other countries - even neglecting learning of the vibrant pasts of some our closest neighbours in Europe.

An interesting and informative episode then, centring on topics not often explored on British TV.

Friday, 21 August 2015

WDYTYA? - Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? aired last night, looking into the English actress' Jewish roots.

This was a truly heartfelt episode as Jane traced her father's aunts through war-torn Poland and Paris. The strength shown by one of these aunts was truly incredible, but in the end the tragedy of the holocaust simply took away the life she had built for herself - a really sad moment.

So, this episode was very much a human story of people simply trying to survive in a time of war and attempted genocide. That anyone could perpetrate some of the senseless acts - such as the shooting of Mr Tesserman in Warsaw - detailed in this episode is truly difficult to comprehend; and its because of this that this dark period of history is so important to remember. There was also some good shining through the dark - Jane's relatives in Marseilles hadn't left France despite obtaining a visa to the United States because they were helping other Jewish refugees. The desperation of those Jews leaving France is all too evident - and shows the real heartbreak and difficulties that have faced refugees for centuries, even to this day.

An important episode then, as well as interesting one.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Exciting News!

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that there's some exciting news about my packages - they will now be printed as standard in A4 paperback book format!

You can still get the old loose-leaf Rapesco (or similar) binder format for an additional £20, or have the book printed in A4 hardback book format for an additional £15.

Images of the new styles of printing can be found here.

I can also offer re-prints (price on request) of previous packages and/or family trees - so feel free to get in touch if this is something you're interested in.

Updated price and order information can be found here.

I hope you're just as happy with the new printing as I am!

Friday, 14 August 2015

WDYTYA? - Paul Hollywood

Last night's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? kicked off series 12 with Bake-off judge Paul Hollywood - who displayed a quirky sense of humour throughout.

image courtesy of dan at
Really, last night's episode was split into two parts. The first part was very much based on the wartime experiences of Paul's grandfather - leading to more understanding on his part of what his grandfather went through. I'm not a military historian, but the WW2 section seemed well-researched, and was presented with tact as well as the spirit of discovery that WDYTYA? thrives on.

It was the second part of the episode that I found the most interesting however - following Paul's Scottish ancestors through the ups-and-downs of their lives. The details of the lives of a policeman and a postman may not sound like the most interesting of things, but it truly was. Not least the postman, whose route - which he walked and ran every week - stretched from one side of the highlands to the other.

Overall then, a really interesting start to this series - with hopefully more interesting stories to come!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Not long now!

Hi everyone - it's nearly here, the new UK series of Who Do You Think We Are? airs on BBC1 at 9pm next Thursday, beginning with British Bake-Off star Paul Hollywood.

As always, I'll be putting up a post about each episode the day after they air - watch this space!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Sherlock Victorian Special

Don't know whether you've heard, but it looks very much like Sherlock's Christmas Special will be set in the Victorian period - good news for any period drama fans amongst you.

Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1880s, a time when policing and detective work was new and novel to the general public, and became arguably the most famous fictional detective of all time. There have been numerous adaptations and re-adaptations of the great detective over the years - not least the recent Robert Downey Junior films, the immensely popular Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock series, and the US-set Elementary which stars Jonny Lee Miller.

We'll have to wait and see if the Christmas Special comes up to the standards of Sherlock fans (who are notoriously passionate,) - should be interesting!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Learn the Lingo - Genealogy

It suddenly occurred to me that a lot of people won't even be familiar with the term genealogy, so...


Genealogy is the study of lines of descent. In practice, this usually means starting with recent history and working backwards through time.

A genealogist studies lines of descent - either their own or other people's - to discover information about ancestors and relatives, and produce family trees. It's the stories that really bring it alive though - everyone's life means something, and it's so interesting to find the stories that make up your heritage.