Thursday, 22 January 2015

A quick note on a remarkable man

Those of you who saw the One Show last night will know what a remarkable man Freddie Knoller is. If you want to hear his full story of surviving Auschwitz and the Holocaust (surviving the Holocaust - Freddie Knoller's war,) you can see it on BBC2 at 9.30 tonight, and on iPlayer afterwards. Viewers in Scotland can see it on BBC2 at 10pm on Sun 25 Jan, and it will be repeated in all regions except Northern Ireland and Scotland at 23.20 on Monday 26 Jan.

It really is worth a look if you want to know the human story of the Holocaust and encounter this remarkable character.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Transfixing Tudors

Have you ever noticed that we seem utterly transfixed on the Tudor dynasty? There's no end of plays, books, TV shows, and films on the subject - and every couple of years we seem to go Tudor crazy.

At the moment, BBC has a wealth of Tudor programming on offer (not least the adaptation of Wolf Hall starting on BBC2 tonight at 9pm,) but why is it we keep returning to this family's story again and again?

Well, firstly everyone likes a scandal and a gossip - illegitimacy, mistresses, and who-is-chopping-who's-head-off abounds here, which is as compelling as modern celeb gossip (and we all know about that.)

There's also something of the mafia-style family drama to it; the transfer of power, betrayal, and political point-scoring. And there's the compelling nature of Anne Boleyn - perhaps the most talked-about of Tudor women, a lady who 'won' a king and was the mother of one of Britain's greatest queens, but lost her head in the process.

Maybe it's all these things and more; but to fans of Tudor adaptations, there's plenty around to get stuck into at the moment.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Tales of Impropriety

People have always been people - and the Victorians were less shocked by what went on in their towns than you might think. For example, I found this quite casual newspaper report from the Cardiff Times on 4 October 1879:

Image courtesy of dan at
A CASE DISMISSED - At the police-court on
Monday - the Stipendiary on the bench - Mary
Evans, a prostitute, was brought up charged with
stealing a dress, the property of another frail
sister named Elizabeth Jones. As prosecutrix
did not appear, the prisoner was discharged.

'Frail sisters' was a common euphemism, as was 'nightwalker' or 'lady of ill repute.'

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

If your News Year's resolution is to learn more about your family's history, feel free to get in touch with me using the e-mail address on my website

You may be feeling a little overwhelmed with where to start, or got confused by the number of people who share a name with your ancestor - if so help is at hand! My range of services is detailed on my website, and do feel free to get in contact!

So, if genealogy is your New Year's project then I'm here to help!

Friday, 12 December 2014

What's in a name?

Those who read this blog regularly know that musings on names are nothing new to me, but I've been thinking lately of the names of virtues or 'grace names' that were popular first names for girls in particular in much of the western world from about the 17th century onwards. These are names such as Prudence, Patience, Faith, Hope, Joy, etc.

I think it's quite interesting that the names Prudence, Temperance, Constance and Patience were far more common in the 19th century than Faith, Hope, Love, or Joy. So clearly, the Victorians, on the whole, wanted daughters who were well-behaved and sober, rather than happy and hopeful.

Some of the weirder names were found in the Puritan period, both here and in the USA - unfortunately, some people took taking names from words in the Bible a little too literally, leading to children named such bizarre things as Job-raked-out-of-the-ashes and Continent. Slightly more common (but still not in wide use) were names such as Humanity, Silence, Experience, Diligence, and Tribulation.

Names were also not always gender ascribed in the way we would do so today. Hope was a name for both men and women, for example. The name Christian was not usually used for a boy; it was however relatively common as a girl's name until about the mid-nineteenth century.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Welsh family history (Coming Home) and a series from a little further away (WDYTYA? USA)

Thought I'd let you all know that the Welsh family history series Coming Home starts tonight on BBC1 Wales at 7.30pm. Viewers outside the region will be able to see it on iPlayer.

Though the celebrities may not have the razzle-dazzle of a big series like Who Do You Think You Are? the programmes are well presented, interesting, and, at half an hour long, perfect to slip in between other things you want to see.

On a similar note, the digital TV channel Watch has been showing Who Do You Think You Are? USA in the UK (if that makes sense,) to allow us here in Britain to see the US episodes which the BBC may not have decided to screen, or have screened at off-peak times in the middle of the night (they have the habit of putting WDYTYA?USA on at 11.35 or a similar time, with little to no advertising, and choosing a selection of episodes as opposed to purchasing the entire series. Although, the editing the BBC does perhaps makes it more suited to British audiences.) So keep an eye on the schedules, as Watch have been repeating them and are likely to continue to do so.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The WW1 Christmas Ad

I assume you've seen this year's Sainsbury's ad - most people have. It reminds everyone of the Christmas truce of course - that time in 1914 where they were no longer Germans or British (or whatever other nationality - there were, after all, many other countries providing soldiers) but just men. Or, more accurately, boys. So many were under 30, and even under 20.

I'm a little torn about this event being used to publicise a supermarket - millions died, so buy your sparkling wine here, seems a little odd to be honest; on the other hand, many will see it as a lovely tribute - the advert itself was fairly good, after all. What do you think? Do you feel that it's appropriate? Inappropriate? Somewhere in the middle?