Distant family…or not so distant?

A recent visitor to the Record Office reminded me of a really important point when researching your family tree – distance! It’s important to remember how people travelled and why, in the past, which can help when searching nearby parishes and areas for those ‘lost’ ancestors.

The example in question was of a relative who had been born in Hucknall, but had possibly travelled ‘over the border’ for work.  The visitor initially thought that Heanor parish would have been too far away, having used a satnav to calculate the distance.  They obviously realised that this was giving them the distance by modern road, which we all take for granted so much these days (the distance was around 15 miles). However, as the crow flies, the distance was around 7 miles, a not unfeasible mileage for someone in the early 1800s to have walked to find work (particularly as the ancestor in question was an agricultural labourer).

It’s easy to assume that ‘in the old days’ our ancestors simply stayed in one place and worked wherever there was labour available locally. However, like the present day, people did travel long distances to a place of work, or perhaps where more lucrative work was available.

Capture

Of course many people also emigrated from the UK to try and increase their opportunities. If you think a relative may have emigrated, passenger lists for ships heading overseas can be found on family history websites such as Find my Past and Ancestry To get an idea of how many people emigrated from the UK between 1890 and 1960, I entered my name into the passenger lists, and it came up with 386 entries during those years!

Parish Map

Old maps can be a really useful source of information about the conditions, providing information about distance, terrain and settlements. Knowing the occupation of the person you are trying to trace is also useful (these can be found on census returns, or in trade directories). Additionally, knowing the main employment centres of the time can help e.g. mills, farms, manor houses.

Learning about the historical background as to how, why and where people travelled in the time period you are looking at can really help narrow down a tricky search (even though family members might convince you that your relatives never moved from one area!)

We have plenty of resources at the Record Office to help you with this: in addition to the online local studies and archive resources our Local Studies Library has county parish maps, trade directories and guides to ancestors’ occupations.  The other resource we have of course, are our helpful staff!

Let us know if you have ever been ‘led up the garden path’ by a relative you were sure never could have strayed far…

Progress and Travelling thoughts

Its now mid-June and we’ve already had two Bank Holidays in the last month. The weather is getting warmer (hopefully!) and the days are getting longer. Can you guess where I’m going with this? Yes, the holiday season will soon be upon us and for many of us that means we will be dusting off a very important document which enables us to travel abroad – the passport.

In 1846, Sir William FitzHerbert, 4th Baronet of Tissington, travelled briefly abroad and the images below are of his passport which was issued to him for doing so. You can see what it looks like as well as the fold out page that is the offical document. It is notable that it is more ‘low-tech’ than the passports we have today! You can read more about the history of passports on Wikipedia. Some brief notes mention that he went to Hamburg, now a city in Germany, but which was then a fully independent state.

I’m making steady progress with the catalogue. Now everything in each box has been listed I have entered all the information into an excel spreadsheet, which should be completed shortly. I am doing this in accordance with ISAD(G), the international standard for cataloguing archive collections which ensures consistency. The next step is to go through the data again and give each item a reference number, before expanding on some of the descriptions.

I’ll let you know how I’m getting on in the next post.

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English Heritage publish statement of historical significance about the Midland Mainline

English Heritage publish statement of historical significance about the Midland Mainline

English Heritage have just published this statement about one of our local railway lines, drawing in part on material held here in the Strutt collection (viz., sub-series D3772/E52).  It is available as a download for a limited time, although I have saved a copy to add to the record office CD collection in future.

On This Day: ‘Death of a Distinguished Derbyshire Woman’

From the Derby Mercury, 4th October 1893:

Death of a Distinguished Derbyshire Woman

The death is announced from New York of Mrs. Mary Monroe, on the 15th September, in her 98th year.  Born in Derbyshire, England, February 1, 1795, she early in life developed a passion for travel, and was counted at the time of her death the most travelled woman in America.  In 1830 she passed Easter week in the city of Rome as a guest of the Pope.  She was a friend of Lafayette, and was twice a guest of Sir Walter Scott, and she counted among her friends the Duchess of Kent.  When 70 years of age she travelled for 20 weeks alone, visiting every part of Great Britain and Ireland in order to investigate the condition of the working classes.  Her husband was an officer of the Customs service of the United States.

The County Local Studies Library holds the Derby Mercury – just ring to book a microfilm reader.  If you have a Derbyshire library card you can also view 19th century issues of the newspaper online at the libraries area of the council website.

Letter from Ethiopia

[2018: images from the “Thank You For Your Letter” project have been deleted to make space for new posts.  The images have been retained within Derbyshire County Council’s internal records system so that we may re-use them in the future.]

D5430/65/1/25 (To G.E. Cockrem, Dewsbury, Yorkshire) DESEM 24, 1973 MEHARI LEAKE ABRAHA ATSBAHA school P.O. BOX 12 AXUM-ETH— My Dear Mother Firest of all Hapy Christmas, Hapy New Year I am very pleased to see your letter of Desember 23, 1973 I have got your book too. And it is very important Continue reading

Swiss Cottage

The Porden letter (see the William Porden/Henrietta post) is a joint one.  This picture of a Swiss cottage comes from Eleanor Porden’s letter to Mary Anne.

[2018: images from the “Thank You For Your Letter” project have been deleted to make space for new posts.  The images have been retained within Derbyshire County Council’s internal records system so that we may re-use them in the future.]

William Porden’s letter to his daughter Henrietta

[2018: images from the “Thank You For Your Letter” project have been deleted to make space for new posts.  The images have been retained within Derbyshire County Council’s internal records system so that we may re-use them in the future.]

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Berne, Oct 8, 1818

My dear Henrietta,

As you doubtless see the letters we send for Mama’s amusement little apology is necessary for not writing to you more frequently; but be assured that you are not forgotten, you are well acquainted with our route and the principal circumstances of our journey Continue reading

Isabella Thornhill’s letter home from Nice, 1838

[2018: images from the “Thank You For Your Letter” project have been deleted to make space for new posts.  The images have been retained within Derbyshire County Council’s internal records system so that we may re-use them in the future.]

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Nice, March 1st 1838

My dear Father, I wrote to you from Pisa a short time since, and after my letter was gone, it occured to me, that though I had given you a sketch of our plans for the journey we were then pausing upon. Continue reading