Archive for the ‘Great-grandparents’ Category

My week on World War Two rations

February 20, 2015

This week I’ve taken part in an experiment with the team at Findmypast, to live on a British ration allowance from the 1940s.

While it’s not what I’d usually describe as family history research, it definitely helped me understand what my grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents would have experienced during World War Two.

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What I’ve learned from WW2 ration week

I’ve actually really enjoyed the week – it’s been very achievable, even if the food did get a bit repetitive. I found that the key was to invest a bit of time at the start, making soups and casseroles that could last for a few days.

I tried my hardest to ‘waste not, want not’. One evening, I used the zest from my one orange to create scones based on a recipe I’d found in The British Newspaper Archive. The recipe had been printed in the Lichfield Mercury on 25 February 1944.

 

Recipe for orange zest scones from 1944

 

I would most certainly have thrown the peel away before, but the scones were lovely and really simple to make. I’ll definitely be using that recipe again.

 

Orange zest scones from WW2

 

The meat, milk and fat allowances were pretty high, but I did struggle with the limited amount of cheese and fish. I’m a bit of a cheese addict, so 60g a week just wasn’t enough.

It was also hard to live without tinned goods and out-of-season or imported fruit and vegetables. I’m very much looking forward to my first post-war banana on Monday!

What could you eat during World War Two?

Meat, cheese, eggs, milk, fat and sweets were all rationed during World War Two. These were the rules the Findmypast team followed, based on the weekly ration allowance for an adult in the early 1940s:

Weekly ration

  • Bacon or Ham (150g)
  • Meat (400g)
  • Fish (1 fish meal per week)
  • Cheese (60g)
  • Milk (3 pints / 1¾ litres)
  • Egg (1)
  • Butter (60g)
  • Margarine (110g)
  • Lard or dripping (110g)
  • Sugar (225g)
  • Jam (50g)
  • Sweets (75g)
  • Tea bags (16)
  • No proper coffee – instant only
  • No tinned food, except Spam

 

The points system

4 points per week to spend on the following options:

  • Dried pulses, oats, rice or barley (1 point per 225g of each)
  • Dried pasta (1 point per 110g)
  • Olive oil (1 point per 25ml)
  • Dried fruit (1 point per 225g)

 

Fruit and vegetables

  • Limit of one orange per week
  • Limit of one apple per day
  • No tropical or exotic items, like bananas
  • Make the most of root vegetables, plums and pears
  • Try to use fruits and vegetables currently in season

 

Other items that weren’t rationed

  • Wholemeal bread (slightly stale)
  • Sausages and offal, but the sausages should be mostly ‘bulk’ instead of meat
  • Cigarettes and alcohol, but availability varied

 

An amazing photo of the Jones family

February 16, 2014

I just had to share this fantastic photo from my nan’s collection. It shows my great-grandfather John William Jones, his seven siblings and parents in about 1916.

The Jones family in about 1916

 

My nan tells me that from left to right, the photo captures:

  • Tom Jones
  • George Jones, my great-great-grandfather
  • George Jones (nicknamed Bead)
  • John Jones, my great-grandfather
  • Maria Jones nee Taylor (known as Ria), my great-great-grandmother with baby Ann Jones
  • Maria Jones (known as Doll) with Edward Jones (known as Ted)
  • Harry Jones
  • Lilie Jones (who went on to marry Olympic athlete, Ernest Johnson)

 

I’ve found the family in the 1911 census, minus Lilie, Harry and Ann who were not yet born. The family of seven were living in three rooms at 29 Pearman Street in Lambeth – quite a squeeze!

George Jones was employed as a House Painter and it seems Maria had given birth to one other child who had sadly died before the census was taken.

The Jones family in the 1911 census

The Jones family in the 1911 census – please click to enlarge

 

There’s a bit of a family rumour surrounding my great-great-grandmother’s family – Maria Taylor’s father is thought to have won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race, a rowing race along the River Thames. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can prove this for my nan.

Researching the Howard family

October 29, 2010

A couple of posts ago, I found my great-grandmother Ada Howard and her parents in the 1911 census. I thought I’d return to this particular line of my family history and concentrate on tracking it back a bit further.

Ada was seven in the 1911 census, suggesting that she was born in around 1903/1904. The census form also states that my great-grandmother was born in Buntingford, Hertfordshire. By searching the birth indexes at findmypast.co.uk, I found the following entry for an Ada Maria Howard born in Royston in 1903.

Ada Maria Howard's birth record

 

I gave Royston a quick google and it seems it’s only about eight miles away from Buntingford. It therefore looked likely that this was the record of my great-grandmother’s birth, so I used the reference details provided to order Ada’s birth certificate from the General Register Office.

Ada Maria Howard's birth certificate

 

The birth certificate tells me that Ada was born on 11th June 1903 in Layston, Buntingford. It informs me that her father, Ernest Howard, was a Chimney Sweeper Master and that her mother’s name was Mercy. Interestingly, Mercy’s maiden name was Howard – perhaps a sign that my great-great-grandparents were cousins?

I’ve updated the Howard side of my family tree with the details I’ve gleaned from both the 1911 census and Ada’s birth certificate. I think I’ll continue tracing this particular branch of my family tree for the time being – I’d love to find out a bit more about Ernest’s occupation and also whether there really was a bit of inter-family marriage in the Howard line.

The Howard branch of my family tree

Trace your family tree in 10 steps

July 23, 2010

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a project to show family history newbies exactly how you can start researching your family tree with findmypast.co.uk. I’ve used an example from my own ancestry – my paternal Silk line – and have actually managed to trace my tree back to about 1794 using these 10 steps.

To take a look at my progress, simply click on the image below and a powerpoint presentation will start downloading.

If you then select ‘notes page’ in the ‘view’ section of the tool bar at the top of the screen, you’ll be able to see my notes along with the images on the presentation itself. Alternatively, if you wanted to print the presentation, simply select ‘notes pages’ in the drop down box under ‘print what’ and it will print both my notes and the images.

I hope you find it interesting – let me know what you think!

Searching the 1911 census for Ada Maria Howard

March 15, 2010

Now that I know my great-grandparents were alive, I can search to see if I can find them in the recently released 1911 census. I’ll take my great-grandmother Ada Maria Howard as an example to demonstrate how to find an ancestor.

I’ve selected the 1911 person search from findmypast’s census collection and have entered basic information to begin with, following the findmypast rule of thumb of ‘less is more’. I’ve entered Ada in the first name field (leaving the variants box ticked so that the search includes nicknames, middle names and initials) and Howard in the surname field.

Initial search - please click to enlarge

This search returned 314 results, meaning there were 314 Ada Howards living in England and Wales in 1911. Fortunately, I have a bit more information about my great-grandmother courtesy of her marriage certificate (featured in the post below) so was able to narrow these results down a bit.

I selected ‘redefine current search’ and added a birth year to the search terms. Ada was recorded as being 23 years old at the time of her marriage in 1926, so I’ve entered 1903 as the birth year. The search defaults to include births two years either side of 1903, a really handy tactic to avoid any age inaccuracies in the census. It’s not unusual to see a year or two shaved off of or added to ancestors’ ages in census returns – be it down to vanity, an attempt to conceal an illegitimate child or even simply that the head of household couldn’t recall the exact ages of his/her children.

Redefined search - please click to enlarge

By adding this rough date of birth, I managed to narrow the list of results down to just 27 possibilities. However, Ada’s marriage certificate had provided me with another handy bit of information – her father’s name, Ernest. So I selected ‘redefine current search’ again and then switched to ‘advanced search’ via the tabs at the top of the search screen (see below). Here I entered ‘Ernest Howard’ in the ‘other persons living in the same household’ search field.

Advanced search - please click to enlarge

This time, my search returned just three results. One of these, the top result in the image below, looked like a clear winner as this Ada Howard was living in Hertfordshire in 1911 – the same county my great-grandmother was married in 15 years later. In addition, the marriage certificate had informed me that Ada’s middle name was Maria – not matching the middle names of either of the other two search results.

Search results - please click to enlarge

To confirm that this was indeed the right Ada, I viewed the transcript – a typewritten version of the original census page.

1911 census transcript - please click to enlarge

You can see that the transcript showed me exactly what I had hoped it would; Ada Howard living as the daughter of Ernest Howard, a Chimney Sweep. If you look at the bottom of the transcript, you can also see that the address the family were living at in 1911 exactly matches that recorded on my great-grandmother’s marriage certificate – Chapel End, Buntingford. I then decided to view the original census image.

Original 1911 census image - please click to enlarge

The 1911 census is the first from which original householder schedules have survived – the other surviving censuses from 1841 to 1901 consist of the census enumerators’ summary books. This means that the 1911 census return you can see above was actually completed by my great-great-grandfather Ernest Howard – you can see his signature at the bottom right of the page. Next to Ernest’s signature, we are also told exactly how many rooms (rooms, not bedrooms!) their home had. In the Howard family’s case, there were seven people living in just four rooms.

The 1911 census return has also provided me with brand new information about Ada’s mother, my great-great-grandmother. Her name is a bit tricky to read on the census return, however it has been recorded as ‘Merey’ in the transcript. The census form also informs me that she was 40 years old in 1911 and had been married to 45-year-old Ernest for 22 years. These handy bits of information will enable me to search the BMD indexes once again, this time for my great-great-grandparents’ marriage and births. In addition, if I look over to the right of the census form, I can actually see where Ernest and Merey were both born.

My 1911 search has provided one final bit of rather shocking information. In 1911, my great-great-grandmother had given birth to an impressive 12 children but sadly only half of these had survived. The number six has been listed in the census form’s ninth column, recording the number of ‘children who have died’. The 1911 census return has provided me with a lot of new information about my family, however the most striking point is just how precarious my great-grandmother’s existence must have been!

Marriage certificates explained

January 21, 2010

The marriage certificates I ordered from the General Register Office have provided me with lots of juicy new information about my great-grandparents. Below you’ll find a quick overview of the details that marriage certificates can give you.

Please click to enlarge

Please click to enlarge

I’ve added this new information to my family tree, extending it back a generation to include my four newly discovered great-great-grandfathers. I really feel like I’m making some progress! Now that I have an idea of my great-grandparents’ ages at marriage, I can have a root around for the records of their births in the BMD indexes. In addition, because all four seem to have been born before 1911 and because I now know their fathers’ names and occupations, I could attempt to search for my ancestors in the recently released 1911 census – currently the closest census to the modern day available.

Aside from this, I’d really like to find out a bit more about what my great-grandparents’ and great-great-grandfathers’ occupations entailed. In particular, I’d love to find out more about Jack Cooke’s employment as a Chauffeur, Ada Howard’s life as a Domestic Servant and what her father’s day would have been like working as a Chimney Sweep. If anyone has any suggestions as to how I might be able to find out a little more, please do point me in the right direction.

Searching the BMDs

November 9, 2009

I’ve decided to start filling in the blanks in the maternal side of my family tree – namely the dates of birth, marriage and death for all four maternal great-grandparents – by locating the marriages in the indexes on findmypast.co.uk. I’m starting with my great-grandparents’ marriages because while she was unable to provide me with these dates, my mum did tell me when my grandparents were born and also roughly when their elder siblings were. By using this information, I can make a couple of educated guesses as to the likely years of marriage, making my search a lot easier.

I know that George and Lucy Mead’s eldest child was born at the end of 1925 and that Lucy’s maiden name was Wright. I therefore decided to search the marriage indexes (accessible via the ‘births, marriages & deaths’ tab at the top of the findmypast.co.uk homepage) for a marriage between 1920 and 1930. Despite knowing Lucy’s maiden name, I decided to search for George Mead as I felt his name was the more unique and that this would help me sift through the records more effectively. This search brought up a screen of telephone directory-esque pages as follows,

BMD results

BMD results - click to enlarge

While my search covered 10 years, I decided to start viewing the records from the year I would initially expect to see George and Lucy getting married, namely the year preceding their eldest’s birth (the end of 1924 – the end of 1925). This turned out to be a masterstroke as I quickly spotted a likely looking marriage in the first quarter of 1925; the index shows that a George W. Mead was married to a woman with the surname Wright in West Ham.

George Mead JFM 1925

George Mead in the marriage indexes

Feeling like a detective, I returned to the marriage index search screen to check that the Ms Wright was indeed a Lucy. This second search, for Lucy Wright in the first quarter of 1925, resulted in further success as I spotted a Lucy M. Wright marrying a Mead – also in West Ham! The GRO reference (the code at the right of the record) for both George and Lucy’s entries also matched, reassuring me that the entries relate to the same marriage.

JFM1925 zoom on Lucy Wright

Lucy Wright in the marriage indexes

Now confident that these records refer to my great-grandparents’ marriage, I have ordered my first ever certificate from the General Register Office. This was surprisingly simple to do as you can now order BMD certificates online through the GRO website, www.gro.gov.uk. One tip: make sure you record the GRO reference provided in the indexes at findmypast.co.uk as you’ll need these numbers when ordering the certificate. The first part of the reference provided refers to the volume number (in George and Lucy’s case, this is 4a), while the second section is the page number (175 in this example).

Using the same tactics, I’ve also managed to locate the marriage of my other set of maternal great-grandparents and have ordered their marriage certificate too. The certificates cost me £7 each and should be with me in about a week – I can’t wait!

Embracing my maternal side

October 16, 2009

Good news! I’ve managed to fill in a bit more of my tree after a chat with the mother. Oddly, it seems that the lack of knowledge about my maternal family extends back another generation for while my mum could furnish me with information about her own parents, what she knew about her grandparents (my great-grandparents) was quite limited. What she was able to tell me, however, has revealed that both of my maternal grandparents had rather unsettled childhoods.

My great-grandmother Ada died early on in my grandfather’s life, when he was only about 10 years old. Subsequently, it seems that my great-grandfather Jack found it difficult to cope and eventually handed responsibility of his children over to their uncle and aunt, disappearing from their lives. According to my grandfather’s reports, he and his sister effectively lived as cheap labour for his uncle’s bakery business. He escaped from this as soon as he could, signing up with the RAF as a mechanic when the Second World War started and serving in the Far East.

My grandmother also lost a parent prematurely as my great-grandfather George sadly died when she was around two years old, leaving his widow Lucy to bring up their two young daughters alone. The family apparently believed that George’s death was a long-term result of being gassed in the First World War, an event that had left him with a persistent cough for the remainder of his life. Prior to speaking to my mum, I had always believed that my maternal ancestry was rooted in Hertfordshire. However, it seems that my great-grandmother Lucy and her family originally lived around West Ham, being evacuated out to Ware in Hertfordshire to work as land girls at the beginning of the Second World War.

It’s quite shocking to think that my great-grandmother Lucy would have been the only grandparent my mum knew when she was growing up. Indeed, my mum has actually never even seen a photograph of her paternal grandparents, Jack and Ada. Quite incredible, really. As a result of this, she was unable to fill in much of the factual information about my great-grandparents (such as dates of birth, marriage and death) that are needed to start tracing my lineage back further. To confirm these, I will need to dive into the birth, marriage and death indexes available at findmypast.co.uk .