Family History goes Bananas!

I’ve had a lovely find today in the British Newspaper Archive. There has long been a family story that my great-grandfather William H Richardson (who started me down my genealogical path) grew one of the first bananas in Ireland. Many versions of this tale existed, and as he had worked on estates across Ireland, a good number of dates and locations had been attached to it. It was something I’d been looking for for some time.

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Online Genealogy: Church of Ireland Records

If your family history research is mostly based around what you can find online (and for many of us it will be), how far you get with your family tree will be down to how much information is available for the areas you need to look at.

Luckily for me, part of my family lived on the border between Co Carlow and Co Wexford, an area which is covered by two extremely good, and free-to-access, sets of Church of Ireland records.

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Notable Ancestors: James Wilson

James Wilson (1783-1857) was a surgeon and lecturer in Midwifery. In 1834, he helped found the Glasgow Lying-In Hospital, the first permanent maternity hospital in the city (located at that time in Greyfriars Wynd). The hospital was intended to help poor and homeless women, and took in the unmarried as well as married mothers. It was funded entirely through donations, subscriptions and bequests, and the stigma attached to its policy of accepting unmarried women meant that fundraising could be difficult.

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Getting the most out of records: the bigger picture

When I’m working through records, particularly for births, deaths and marriages, I like to have a look at the other records on the page alongside the one I’m there for. Not only can they provide answers to questions that would otherwise meet a dead end (who are those witnesses at the family wedding? – they’re another couple who were also getting married that day), but they can be a great source for social history and of other people’s stories.

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Search Tips: Surname / maiden name death record searches on ScotlandsPeople

I have mixed feelings about the recent revamp of the ScotlandsPeople website. On one hand, it’s great that the search results are now free to view, and the addition of some Non-Conformist records is really useful (I now have copies of the baptismal registers for two children that I knew about from the FamilySearch website, and one for a third child FamilySearch had missed). On the other hand, several of the most effective search features have been removed (though possibly not for good). The ability on the old site to search for civil death registers with an approximate year of birth was so useful I wondered why other sites didn’t adopt it.

Having played about with the site quite a bit over the past two weeks, I’m starting to get more of a feel for how it works, and how to work round some of lost search features.

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My family abroad

One of the things I find hardest to imagine about my ancestors’ lives is what it must have been like to emigrate. I’m sure some of them were leaving behind real hardship for the promise of better opportunities, but what must it have been like, boarding a small ship to the other side of the ocean, or the other side of the world, knowing that you would probably never see your home or your family again?

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