Friday, 24 May 2019

The Victorian Era

On the 24th May 1819 a baby girl was born who would live through one of the most developing periods in our country’s history. That little girl was Alexandrina Victoria the daughter of the Duke of Kent and the granddaughter of King George III. She was of course Queen Victoria.

It wasn’t such a great period of change for the Queen but also to a greater extent for our ancestor.
Can you imagine how life changed for our ancestors? In 1837 most of our ancestors will have lead very simple lives where their sole priority would have been the survival of them and their family. They literally worked to live. By the end of the Victorian era this would have started to change.

So what did change? I suppose what didn’t.

The Victorian era saw the introduction of the bicycle, trains became much more common and planes were not too far off. Then there was the steam ship and faster journey times.

The first post boxes arrived on the streets of Britain in 1859. They were green in colour and spread through the land. This meant you could post your letters easily and without anyone else knowing who you’re writing to. This was a great invention as before you would have had to go into the post office and hand over your letter. The first stamp appeared in 1840 with the penny black.
Victorian Post Box
Victorian Post Box

Easter eggs appeared in 1873 made by Fry’s chocolate and look how well they took off. Also jelly babies. They started in Lancashire in the 1860’s but then they were made in Sheffield by Bassets. They still exist today. Do you bite of the head or the feet first?

Close to my families heart comes and invention from 1846, the sewing machine. I have a lot of dressmakers and seamstresses in my ancestry. How much did life change for them. No longer did they have to sew garments by hand. The sewing machine would mean hems could be sewn in record time. This would have meant they could make garments faster and thus make more so more income. This did mean that anyone could buy a sewing machine after Signer perfected the design but you had to have the skill to use it.
Singer Sewing Machine
Singer Sewing Machine
The Bessemer converter. A big invention for my home town of Sheffield. This lead to the development of strong light steel. It also lead to people flocking to the city to live for the jobs the steel works provided. A big change if you’ve lived in the countryside all your life.

Not exactly but electric lighting was introduced and lightbulbs. Admittedly not many of our ancestors will have used them due to the cost, but it gave hope that one day they wouldn’t have to use candles and smelly oil lamps anymore. Then with the development of hydroelectric it became even cheaper to produce.

The Victorian ear saw the invention of the phonograph and the gramophone. So things could be recorded on the phonograph and played back on the gramophone. No more musically evenings round the piano forte! Also by the end of the era the radio was newly developed.

Now our ancestors, if they could afford it, could take to family and friends throughout the land.

So as the period developed so too did what our ancestors had access to. Some would have been dreams they could only wish for whereas others other would have revolutionised their lives. So know if someone asks what the Victorian era did for our ancestors you have some facts to offer them.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Monarch award, Consort category

Last week I hosted the monarch awards based around the statistics of the monarch of England/Great Britain. This week the focus turns to their royal consorts.

Consorts whose children didn’t become monarch:
Well it might surprise you that in total 17 (or 18) consorts did not have children who became monarch of these fair lands. The first could have been Queen Matilda of Scotland the wife of Henry I. Her daughter of the Empress Maude or Lady of the English. So if you believe she was queen then it was Matilda of Scotland. If you don’t believe this then the first monarch to not have a child become monarch was Queen Matilda of Boulogne the wife of King Stephen. They did have a son William, but to keep the peace in England Stephen made Maude’s son Henry his heir. The last consort not to have children become monarch was Queen Adelaide the consort of William IV. They had 4 children all of which died when they were young.
Matilda of Scotland and Matilda of Boulogne
Matilda of Scotland and Matilda of Boulogne

Consorts who had more than on monarch/consort as children:
In this category the winner is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine the wife of King Henry II. The couple had 8 children together and of these 3 were monarchs and 2 were consorts. There was Henry the Young King who reigned alongside his father, Richard I and John. Her daughter Eleanor was consort of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Joan was consort of King William II of Sicily.

Consorts who had no children:
In this category there were 7 consorts. Admittedly 3 were the wives of Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr. The others were Berengaria of Navarre the wife of Richard I, Anne of Bohemia the wife of Richard II, Lord Guildford Dudley the wife of Queen Jane and Catherine of Braganza the wife of Charles II.

Consorts to have the most children:
Well the winner here is Prince George of Denmark the consort of Queen Anne who had 17 children no of which survived childhood. The female consort who had the most children was Eleanor of Castile with 16 by her husband Edward I. Coming in a close second was Charlotte of Mecklenberg, the consort of George III who had 15 children.

Reign length:
Queen Charlotte the consort of King George III holds the record for the longest tenure of consort, she held the post for 57 years and 65 days.
The shortest reign was Lord Guildford Dudley at just 9 days or if you doubt the credibility of Queen Jane then it was Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of Henry VIII at 186 days.

Age at accession:
The oldest consort to take up the post was Princess Alexandria, the wife of King Edward VII at 56 years and 53 days.
The youngest woman to hold the position was the wife of Richard II, Isabella of Valois. She was just 6 years, 11 months and 24 days. So I suppose she was the youngest girl to hold the post. Her new husband was 29 and it is believed the marriage was never consummated.
Queen Alexandria of Denmark and Queen Isabella of Valois
Queen Alexandria of Denmark and Queen Isabella of Valois
Number of Marriages:

Many consorts were either married before or after the monarch. The record does go to Katherine Parr who was married 4 times with King Henry VIII being her third husband. Her first 3 husband died and she finally married Thomas Seymour the uncle of her step son King Edward VI. She died in childbirth aged 36.

Some other facts:
Margaret of France the consort of Henry the Young King was a consort in 2 countries. After the death of Henry she went on to marry Bela III of Hungary.

The consort of King Richard II and Henry V were sisters. They were Isabella of Valois and Catherine of Valois. They were the daughters of King Charles VI of France. After their monarch husbands died Isabella married Charles Duke of Orleans and died in childbirth aged 19. Catherine went on to marry Owen Tudor and have around 6 children including Edmund Tudor the father of King Henry VII.

England/Great Britain has had 6 male consorts. The first was Geoffrey of Anjou in 1141 if you believe Maude was Queen, if not if was Lord Guildford Dudley the husband of Queen Jane in 1553 or if not it was Phillip of Spain who was known as Phillip of England and was monarch by right of his wife from 1554 to 1558. The other are Prince George of Denmark the consort of Queen Anne, Prince Albert the consort of Queen Victoria and our current consort Prince Philip the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

15 of the consorts of England/Great Britain were the children of European monarchs.

Now as in the previous blog on the monarchy awards ( ) I will answer the questions which were asked on pointless:

The names of the British monarchs consorts since 1707 are:
George, Caroline, Charlotte, Adelaide, Albert, Alexandria, Mary, Elizabeth and Philip.

The decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 are:
1050’s, 1060’s, 1070’s, 1080’s, 1110’s, 1150’s, 1190’s, 1200’s, 1230’s, 1240’s, 1290’s, 1310’s, 1350’s, 1360’s, 1390’s, 1410’s, 1430’s, 1480’s, 1490’s, 1500’s, 1530’s (3 this decade all Henry VIII wives), 1540’s, 1550’s, 1590’s, 1610’s, 1660’s, 1700’s, 1720’s, 1730’s, 1810’s, 1820’s, 1840’s, 1860’s, 1920’s, 1950’s, 2000’s. 

The consorts whose children (if they had any some of these listed didn’t) were never Monarch since 1154 are:
Berengaria of Navarre wife of Richard I. Margaret of France wife of Edward I. Philippa of Hainualt wife of Edward III. Richard II 2 wives Anne of Bohemia and Isabella of Valois. Joan of Navarre wife of Henry IV. Margaret of Anjou wife of Henry VI. Anne Neville wife of Richard III. Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr the wives of Henry VIII. Guildford Dudley the husband of Queen Jane. Phillip of Spain the husband of Mary I. Catherine of Braganza the wife of Charles II. Mary of Modena the wife of James VII (II). Prince George of Denmark the husband of Queen Anne. Caroline of Brunswick the wife of George II. Caroline of Brandenburg the wife of George IV and finally Adelaide Saxe-Meiningen the wife of William IV.

The Scottish Monarchs and Consorts will be coming soon.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Monarchy awards

I was watching a repeat of Pointless Celebrities the other week and in the final the actor’s Neil Dudgeon and Annette Badland had questions in the final relating to the monarchy. The 3 questions were the names of the British monarchs since 1707, the decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 and the monarchs who were never succeeded by their offspring since 1154. Well I happy to say I got 3 pointless answers and the celebrities won the jackpot. It also got me thinking again about the statistics of the English/British monarch. So let me share them with you.

Monarch who were not succeeded by their children:
There have been 17 monarchs since 1066 that were not succeeded by their children. The first was the son of King William the Conqueror, King William II. He died under mysterious circumstances when he was shot by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest in 1100. He was unmarried and thus succeeded by his brother King Henry I. The most recent monarch to be succeeded by someone other than a child was King Edward VIII in 1936 when he abdicated and was succeeded by his brother King George VI.
King William II, Image courtesy of
King William II, Image courtesy of
Monarchs succeeded by more than one child:

It surprised me when I got looking that 7 monarchs have had more than one child become monarch. The first was King William the Conqueror. He was succeeded by 2 of his sons, William II and Henry I. Not surprisingly Henry VIII wins with 3 of his children becoming monarchs, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. The most recent monarch to have more than one child become king was King George V with Edward VIII and George VI.

Monarchs with no children:
Again this came as something of a surprise. 11 monarchs since 1066 have not had any issues. Of these 5 were married but just had no children for various reasons. Charles II was married but had no children with his wife. She suffered several miscarriages. He did have 12 acknowledged illegitimate children though. When you think about it 3 of the 11 of the monarch who didn’t have children were the children of Henry VIII.

Monarchs with most children:
The record is held by James VII (II) who had 20 children by his 2 wives. Coming a close second was Edward I who had 19 children by his 2 wives. Edward’s first wife was Eleanor of Castile and she gave birth to 16 children. George III and his wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz came in second place with her giving birth to 15 children.

Reign length:
Our current Queen Elizabeth II holds the record for the longest reigning monarch. Before her it was Queen Victoria at 63 years and 216 days and King George III at 59 years and 97 days.
The shortest reign was Queen Jane at just 9 days. For those who don’t believe Jane was Queen (I do) then it was King Edward V at 78 days. Neither monarch was ever crowned. The shortest reign of a crowned monarch was King Edward VII at 326 days.
Age at Accession:

The oldest person to become monarch was William VI. When he became King in 1830 he was 64 years old. The youngest to become monarch was King Henry VI who was just 8 years old.
King William IV, Image courtesy of
King William IV, Image courtesy of
Number of marriages:
Well of the winner in this category has to be Henry VIII at 6 marriages. That man either loved wedding cake or just wanted to collect lots of Mother’s in laws. He needed to take up knitting or something. Several other monarchs were married more than once but 2 is the most number of marriages besides Henry. It’s no wonder his 3 kids never got married. Nor did 3 other monarch.

So to fully answer the pointless questions:

The names of the British monarchs since 1707 are: Anne, George, William, Victoria, Edward and Elizabeth.

The decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 are: 1010’s, 1030’s, 1040’s, 1060’s, 1080’s, 1100’s, 1130’s, 1150’s, 1160’s, 1180’s, 1190’s, 1210’s, 1270’s, 1300’s, 1320’s, 1370’s, 1400’s, 1410’s, 1420’s, 1470’s, 1480’s (3 this decade), 1510’s, 1540’s, 1550’s (3 this decade), 1600’s, 1620’s, 1640’s, 1680’s, 1690’s, 1700’s, 1710’s, 1720’s, 1760’s, 1820’s, 1830’s, 1900’s, 1910’s, 1930’s, 1950’s, 1970’s.

The monarchs who were never succeeded by their offspring since 1154 are:
Edward III (grandson), Richard II (cousin), Henry VI (usurped), Edward V (uncle), Richard III (usurped), Edward VI (cousin and half-sister), Mary I (half-sister), Elizabeth I (cousin), Charles II (brother), Anne (cousin), George II (grandson), George VI (brother), William IV (niece), Edward VIII (brother).

Friday, 3 May 2019

Act of Union

On the 1st May 1707 Great Britain was born. Up until this point England (and Wales) and Scotland were separate entities sort of. England (and Wales) had a parliament in London and Scotland’s was in Edinburgh. We each had a separate monarch, sort of. It was the same person from 1603 they just had 2 crowns.

From the act of union onwards that all changed. No more separate coronations for monarchs, although Charles II was the last to really have separate coronations. Queen Anne became the first monarch of Great Britain. Also no more separate parliament. Everything was now done from London as that was where the monarch lived.
Queen Anne, image courtesy of
Queen Anne, image courtesy of
The most changes were probably seen in the border areas of England and Scotland. A lot of grey areas arose. For example the town of Berwick Upon Tweed has changed between England and Scotland loads of time. This meant that before the union they could swap sides to choose which parliament was best for them. After the union that would have changed.

The union was not popular as the Scottish wanted to remain independent but many felt the extra money that Scotland could get from England would be hugely beneficial to the country.

There had been attempts made before this. The Monarchies of England (and Wales) and Scotland had been marrying off their children to one another in order to try and exert some influence over their fellow monarchs as their grandchildren may have become monarch. In 1221 King John of England had married his daughter Joan to King Alexander II of Scotland. In this case no children were born so it didn’t work. John’s son King Henry III of England married his daughter Margaret to King Alexander III of Scotland but none of the couple’s son’s became King. Several other royal marriages between Scotland and England occurred but since 1066 the first union between the 2 royal families to produce a monarch who had an English monarch and a Scottish monarch as grandfathers was King James V of Scotland. He was the son of King James IV of Scotland and Princess Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII of England. This was the connection that allowed James VI to take the English throne in 1603.
Margaret Tudor, image courtesy of
Margaret Tudor, image courtesy of
So what did this mean for our ancestors? Well in reality nothing. Nothing changed other than they became British rather than English, Scottish or Welsh. Although most probably still used them and we still do today. 

Our Scottish ancestors did cling firmly to their Scottishness. They continued to hold on to their clan heritage and their pride in their tartans and customs. They even revolted during the Glorious Revelation in an attempt to keep King James VII (or II) on the throne of both England and Scotland. He was a Catholic and Protestants wanted him gone and replaced with his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. After James was ousted and William III and Mary II took the throne jointly James VII grandson Charles Edward Stuart took up arms along with the Scottish Jacobite’s to put his father James Stuart,or himself on the throne. It failed.

The English hung on to their traditions as well.

So was there any impact on the Act of Union for us genealogists. Well not really when it happened. Birth, marriages and deaths were still only registered in the Church of either Scotland or England (and Wales). It wasn’t until 1837 in England and Wales and 1855 in Scotland that events had to be registered with the state.

So the Act of Union had no impact on our genealogy research or probably our ancestors but it was an important date in the history of our great country.

Friday, 26 April 2019

How art has changed

I was reading an article the other day about Joanna of Castile the sister of our Queen consort Catherine of Aragon. In the article was a picture of her husband Philip the Handsome who reigned as King Philip I of Castile and was also the Duke of Burgandy. Now the photo in my opinion didn’t do the poor man justice.
Philip the Handsome
Philip the Handsome
This portrait was produced around 1500 when Philip was Duke of Burgundy and around 22 years old.

This picture got me thinking how accurate were these portrait of their sitters?

Well in truth we will never know. But is there a reason for the way the pictures look.

Now I know nothing about art, I was useless at it at school and I only exceled at stickmen. But is a picture’s quality just down to the artist or does the tools they used have an influence on how good the picture was.

Let me explain. In 1500 the quality of the canvas the artist used would not be the same as more modern artists would use. In fact the picture of Philip was painted on an oak board. Now surely this influenced how the paint flowed on the wood. There are natural cracks and marks on the wood. Would this mean the paint went to an extent where it wanted and so the picture was less accurate?

The same is true of the quality of the paint. Oil based paints these days will be much better than the oil paints of 1500. With the development of manufacturing processes paints will be more consistent. Back in 1500 the paints would have been of a much lesser quality so did this mean that they didn’t flow as well and thus made a lesser quality painting.

So did the development of the materials account for the increased quality of artwork or did the talent of the artist increase?
King Henry VIII by Hans Holbein
King Henry VIII by Hans Holbein
This picture of King Henry VIII was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger around 1540, just 40 years after the picture of Philip the Handsome. The quality of the picture thought is so much better and it is well documented that this was a true likeness of the King. This is an oil painting but was done on a canvas rather than wood.

So comparing the 2 picture you could say that the artist of Philips picture was just not as good as Hans Holbein, but the since they are not on the same canvas then that could make a difference. The only true way to compare whether wood or canvas was best would have been for an artist to paint the same portrait on both wood and canvas.

Also the cost of the painting would probably have an impact on the quality. Henry VIII wasn’t known for scrimping on his spending so the Holbein painting probably cost a great deal. Maybe Philip used a lesser known artist would didn’t charge as much and so you could speculate that he used lesser quality paints and this resulted in the above portrait.

If you think about it the same is true for with the photographs of our ancestors. Early photos are of very stern looking people with absolutely no character to them. This was due to the quality of the camera and the long exposure needed. My camera can take a photo in 1/4000 of a second so I can catch the image instantly and so smiles and movement can be captured.

So was Philip the Handsome portrait a true likeness of him or not, we may never know but we can say that the quality of the artists material may have had an impact on the final picture. Whether it was a true likeness or not his wife Queen Joanna of Castile loved him dearly.  

Friday, 19 April 2019

Something a bit different

This week I bring you some Easter genealogy fun.

I officially have brain freeze and cannot thing what to blog about so I have made for your pleasure a genealogy based word search. So grab a cuppa and a biscuit and settle down and play away.
Genealogy Wordsearch

Hopefully next week I should have my brain in gear and be back with a blog for you.

Friday, 12 April 2019

First Steps

One thing I both love and hate about genealogy is the amount of information you can find out about your ancestor. With time, patience and skills you can find out where they lived, what they did and so much more. But you can’t find out everything as even within the family many things were never noted.

I got thinking about this when on Pinterest I saw a video of a little girl taking her first steps. Can you image being able to capture this momentous event for posterity. But for our ancestors we will never be able to find out this information as to when they took their first steps unless it’s recorded in an old family book or become folk law in the family.
Baby’s first steps. Stock image
Baby’s first steps
So for the record I learnt to walk when I was 7 months old and used the Christmas tree to practice pull myself up and then I eventually toddled out of the sitting room. Needless to say in the practices the tree may have fallen down on me, but a piece of string to tie it to the radiator stopped that. First test flights usually have hiccups. I was tiny and am told I looked like a baby walking. The shoe shop had to specially order shoes for me as my feet were so small and I wanted to use my new skill as much as possible.

We may never know when our ancestors first walk, what their first words were, what they liked and disliked and even what they may have looked like. Now no amount of searching online will ever tell us when our ancestors took their first steps or said their first words. But is there information we think we may never know which may be available.

Well let’s start with the newspaper archive. They are a wonderful source of information. From the old averts for things which you would never get away with selling these days to the articles about sheep sales they are a wealth of information. So how can these help. Well in more local newspapers you may find a mention of one of your ancestors. If you read my blog on musical ancestors you’ll know I found a mention of a piano duet played by my twice great Grandad and his brother. This meant I could google the piece of music and here it being played. So I know the level of musical skill the brothers had. Another way is if they is a description of you ancestor. Maybe they were involved in something shady and a description was circulated so people could be on the lookout for them. Another way I have used the newspaper archive to learn more about my ancestors was when I found a description of a wedding day. The article described what the bride and bridesmaids wore and even what the mother of the both the bride and groom wore. The descriptions were fantastic and gave me a true insight into their special day.
Military attestation
Military records hold a host of information
Another great source for learning about our ancestors is military records. In all records will be a description of the soldier. It usually states their hair and eye colour, how tall they were and their chest measurements. Also if they have any scars or marks on their body this may be noted. So suddenly we can have an image of their build and colourings. Military records can also give you an indication of their character. Where they often on a charge, or did they have an exemplary service. Did they spend long periods in the hospital or even have more mental conditions. I once read a military record of a very distant ancestor in which the medical assessor described him as insane.

So although there are things about our ancestors we definitely will never be able to find out, there are things we can discover with time, skill and a whole lot of patience and sometimes a lot of look.

The Victorian Era

On the 24 th May 1819 a baby girl was born who would live through one of the most developing periods in our country’s history. That littl...