May edition of Discover Your Ancestors Periodical out!

The May issue of this great online family history magazine is now available!

This month, in the Discover Your Ancestors Periodical, they have articles on:

150 years of the Salvation Army and how to trace Salvationist ancestors entitled The front line of faith written by Nicola Lisle
All the fun of the fair: a preview of the Yorkshire Family History Fair
Before the census: Chris Paton looks at Scottish census and census substitute records before 1841
One-stop shops: Jayne Shrimpton explores the history of department stores and their impact on shoppers and staff
Saving what they could carry: Canada’s Great Fire of 1922
A May to remember: Keith Gregson tells the story of Britain’s worst railway disaster, sidelined by its occurrence during WW1
States of growth: Jill Morris on booming 19th century America
History in the details: Jayne Shrimpton on parasols
Regulars: events / Books / Place in focus: Warwickshire / Classifieds
Visit their website to buy your copy today:

Discover Your Ancestors Periodical

On this day 1st May 1840, the Penny Black Stamp went on sale.

On the first of May 1840 the first British Penny Black stamp went on sale. Invented by Sir Rowland Hill, it was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp and it became valid for postage on 6th May.

The idea of an adhesive stamp, which would indicate pre-payment of postage, was part of Sir Rowland Hill’s proposals in 1837 to reform the British postal system.
Until then our ancestors would pay postage on delivery of their mail.

Another idea that Sir Rowland suggested at a government enquiry on February 13, 1837 was for customers of the service to use a separate sheet that folded to form an enclosure or envelope for carrying letters. At that time postage was charged by the sheet and on the distance travelled.

Penny Black Stamp


New TV series: 24 Hours in the Past

There is a new series on Tuesday night on BBC TV  and on the iPlayer that gives all of us a great insight into a bit of social history. These types of programmes can give us family historians a better understanding of our ancestor’s times and so make more sense of their lives.

24 Hours in the Past is a living reality documentary in which six celebrities travel back in time to the 19th century, spending four full days experiencing the relentless graft of the working poor in Victorian Britain.

Impressionist Alistair McGowan, former minister Ann Widdecombe, actress Zoe Lucker, world champion hurdler Colin Jackson, actor Tyger Drew-Honey and presenter Miquita Oliver are the volunteers, whose first 24 hours lands them in the dustyard, where they have to sift through mountains of dirt, rotting veg and old bones. Presented by Fi Glover, with historian Ruth Goodman.

Godhelmians have their own ancestor website

At last week’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live in among the talks, family history societies, genealogy suppliers and data providers were a delegation from a town council from Surrey that obviously values its history and genealogy.

It would seem that the town of Godalming has launched its own ancestry website at and representatives of the town spoke to our writer and handed us a leaflet that interested us so much that we have decided to mention it here.

Perhaps other towns may like to take a leaf from their book and do something similar? website


Godalming Ancestry seeks to help you find the right path back to your ancestors, to walk where they walked and see the sights they may have seen. It features a surname check where you can find a selection of common Godhelmian names (our favourite at Family History Social is most definitely: Enticknapp).

If you have Godhelmian ancestry then it is worth a look.

With a records search request form online and a downloadable burial records, this Town Council is to be applauded for drawing together this portal that also links to the Godalming Museum, the Library, parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Surrey History Centre, Exploring Surrey’s Past and the West Surrey Family History Society.

Well done Godalming!

Godalming Ancestry
Godalming Ancestry Website at



This video has just gone up online after the fantastic Who Do You Think You Are? Live show last week at the NEC.

It gives a great flavour of the event from vendors of genealogy supplies, the talks that took place, new records from data sites and includes Mark Bayley, from TheGenealogist, talking about the new releases that his research site had launched for the event.

For more see

Who Do You Think You Are? Live show 2015

Three days of brilliant family history talks, expert advice, new records and resources to explore have just finished for this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Held at the new venue for the show at the NEC, Birmingham  there was so much more space with wider aisles and the airiness of a more modern venue compared to its old home of Olympia in London.


Many of the visitors to the show seemed happy with the mixture of Genealogical Supplies vendors and Family History Societies on hand, though a few were disappointed to find some FHS from the south-east and also Scotland hadn’t managed to make it to the show this year.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

The main data subscription sites, however, were there to showcase their various online offerings as was the National Archives, GRO and many more.

Feedback from those visiting seemed to be very positive overall and next year’s dates have now been announced as April 7th-9th 2016 back at the NEC.

Free Sample Article from Discover Your Ancestors Periodical

If you want to unearth those difficult to find ancestors and break down your brick walls, then one way to become more skilled is to read around the subject and learn where to look for your past family and how to use the records that they may be hidden within.

A growing number of in-the-know family historians are turning to the online magazine: Discover Your Ancestors Periodical and this month there is so much packed inside its digital pages:

Horatio’s last words: Explore Nelson’s last will and testament
The Welsh at Work: Emma Jolly follows occupational migrations in and out of Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries
Ancient roots: New DNA research sheds light on our origins
Lost in the war, found in the records: WW1 case study
The jester vs Jerry: How cartoonist Heath Robinson helped with the propaganda war against Germany in WW1
Message to the masses: Jill Morris follows the many journeys of John Wesley as he took Methodism to the people
History in the details: Jayne Shrimpton on umbrellas
Toughs in cuffs: Angela Buckley reveals how you can track down your criminal ancestors – assuming they were caught
Regulars: news + events / Books / Place in focus: Bristol / Classifieds

Even the most “respectable” families may have skeletons in the closet. Finding criminals in your family tree can be exciting and certainly add some colour so if you would like to read a full length Free Sample Article “Toughs in cuffs” taken from this month’s Discover Your Ancestors Periodical head over to their website here:

Discover your Ancestors Periodical 24

Discover Your Ancestors Magazine Issue 4 – Free UK Postage

Discover Your Ancestors Magazine Issue 4 – Free UK Postage

The “print edition” magazine from the Discover Your Ancestors stable is out and there is so much packed between the pages that I’m still reading it!

This is a really high quality 196 page bookazine that contains many new in-depth articles, research advice, social history, ‘how to’ features, case studies, places in focus, and much more.

In my view it really is ideal for both experienced researchers and those just starting out. Here is what you get:


  • 35 fascinating features about life in the past
  • 50+ types of records explored
  • The Georgians & beyond: Explore your family history back to medieval times
  • Celebrities: Daniel Craig’s French forebear
  • and much more!

Also included is a FREE Cover DVD with over £130 worth of resources! Including:

  • 3 Month Gold Subscription to TheGenealogist (worth £24.95!)
  • 3 Month Subscription to Discover Your Ancestors Online Periodical
  • Gazetteer of Great Britain & Ireland 1893
  • Bartholomew’s Atlas of England & Wales 1898
  • Topographical Dictionary of England 1849
  • Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1839
  • RootsMagic Essentials family tree software
  • Printable A4 Charts

To get your copy check out your local newsagent, or go now to:

I would also recommend to you the digital-only periodical that comes out monthly. There is one due very soon indeed, so do keep a look out for that as well!

In a new study from Oxford University and published in Nature, researchers have found genetic signatures among  people from Britain that give away their historical roots in particular areas of the UK. It has enabled them to create the finest-scale map of genetic variation yet.

The analysis gives us a snapshot of clusters of genetic variation in the late 1800s, when people were less likely to migrate far from their region of birth and so they believe this reflects  the historical waves of migration by different populations into the island that is Britain.

“The patterns we see are extraordinary,” says Peter Donnelly, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, UK, who co-led the study published 18 March in Nature. “The genetic effects we’re looking at are the result of, probably, thousands of years of history.”

Few people from the British Isles would today have ancestors from just one region of the country, but the researchers were able to find 2,039 Britons of European ancestry who lived in rural areas and also knew that their four grandparents were all born within a short distance of each other.

Their findings are that

  • Modern Britain can be divided into 17 distinct genetic groupings
  • The English genomes are 40 percent French, about 26 per cent shared with the Germans, 11 per cent with the Danes and in the region of nine per cent with the Belgians
  • The Northern Welsh have the most DNA from the the original settlers of Briton and differ from the Southern Welsh
  • A clear genetic division between the people of Cornwall and Devon that still persists along the county boundary of the River Tamar which shows for the first time what had been thought for a long time
  • Notwithstanding the long held belief that the Vikings raped as they conquered they have left very little of their DNA behind

Leslie, S. et al. Nature (18 March 2015).


The Real “Banished” Character found in TheGenealogist Records

I was intrigued to read on TheGenelaogist’s website, that their researchers have discovered the real story of James Freeman, as played by Russell Tovey in the BBC TV series Banished. As they say in their article “Freeman’s real story is fascinating, if a bit gruesome.”

I won’t  spoil it for you, as you can read it all by heading over to their featured articles on their website here:

What I can tell you is that the Transportation records to be found on TheGenealogist website is a fabulous resource for discovering convict ancestors that this country wanted to send away “to parts beyond the seas”.

Programme Name: Banished - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  James Freeman (RUSSELL TOVEY) - (C) RSJ Films - Photographer: Matt Squire