Anita Rani

Anita Rani is the next celebrity to appear in the current BBC series of Who Do You Think You Are?

Countryfile presenter and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Anita Rani was born in Yorkshire to Indian parents. But it is her maternal grandfather’s story in the turbulent period of Partition that takes Anita to the Punjab to see if she can find out more.

Ahita Rahi Nazran, better known as Anita Rani (born 25th October 1977) is an English radio and television broadcaster born in Bradford.

Her mother Lakhbir (Lucky) Kaur, works at the Bradford Royal Infirmary as a liaison officer and is of Sikh descent. Anita’s father, on the other hand, is Balvinder Singh Nazran and he is a Hindu. Both her parents were born in India, although her father came to Britain when he was four, so Anita says he’s a Yorkshireman through and through.

There is a featured article about Anita on the family history website TheGenealogist.

Another free to read article from Discover Your Ancestors

A day at the museum.

In this month’s Discover Your Ancestors Periodical Margaret Powling explores 400 years of museums.  If you want to read more about museums then take advantage of Discover Your Ancestors’ FREE sample article from this month’s Online Periodical, on their website.

Launched in May 2013 Discover Your Ancestors Periodical is a high quality monthly digital magazine delivered to your own personalised online account every month. This beautifully designed 30+ page online magazine is packed full of stories, case studies, social history articles and research advice. This regular and affordable service is a must have for anyone starting out in family history research or for those with more experience but who have reached brick walls.


To read the FREE sample article on museums pop over to the web page here:

DYA a day at the museum

Family History Abbreviations


Just a little confused by family history abbreviations?

John Smith,  bach;  MS. 

b: 1847   d: 1889


If you find an ancestor was “b 1847″ does this mean they were born or baptised in 1847?

What is the agreed abbreviation for buried, or if you find an ancestor in the records with the shortened word “bach” what does this indicate?

Or what does “do” mean?

If these and many other abbreviations are taxing you then take a look at this website here:

English Family Tree Association

Answers: “b” means born, “bur” is used for buried, “bach” is bachelor and “do” is Ditto.

Frank Gardner’s Family History explored on Who Do You Think You Are

On Thursday night the BBC  aired the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

It fascinatingly explored the maternal line of the BBC’s Security correspondent, Frank Gardner. His mother’s family turn out to have been descended from William the Conqueror in a direct line that went through a Tudor knight who, having picked the wrong side in the power struggle between the Duke of Somerset and Warwick, ended losing his head at the Tower of London.

Frank was seen in the broadcast to be incensed by the unfair treatment of his ancestor Sir Michael Stanhope, who was beheaded on being found guilty on circumstantial evidence.

The programme traced the journalist’s maternal line through 28 generations back to William I.

A slightly different angle on Frank’s family history has been discovered in this article published on TheGenealogist website. A diplomatic incident involving Frank Gardner’s father!

Frank Gardner featured article on TheGenealogist


Was your ancestor a Chelsea Pensioner?


The Royal Hospital Chelsea often get requests from people researching their family history, wanting to know whether anybody in their family was ever a Chelsea Pensioner.

Looking on their website there is a dedicated page that you can visit on Tracing Ancestors who were Chelsea Pensioners:

All of us in Britain are aware of the scarlet uniformed ex-servicemen and women who are known as Chelsea Pensioners, but do we know how far back in history their ranks go?

Perusing the website we can learn that from 1692 until 1955, all Army pensions were administered and paid from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is why all Army pensioners tended to be known as Chelsea Pensioners.

It seems that there are two categories of Chelsea Pensioner:

The In-Pensioner:   refers to those who surrendered their Army Pension and were admitted as residents of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The Out-Pensioner: those who lived ‘Out’, in the UK or abroad and received their pension in cash from agents around the country.  All records for Out-Pensioners are held by the National Archives at Kew. The Royal Hospital Chelsea website suggests that If you find details of an ancestor in a Census other than the institution one for the Royal Hospital Chelsea it is a definite indication that he was an Out-Pensioner.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea has an archive that includes some but not all records of In-Pensioners from 1871 to the present date. Records that are pre-1871 are held at the National Archives at Kew.

If you think your ancestor may have been a Chelsea Pensioner then for advice on how to use the Royal Hospital Chelsea Museum Archive services and for more detailed information on what materials that they hold, you can download their advice sheet here.   If you have any further enquiries about a Chelsea Pensioner that think appears in your family tree then you can contact them on:

Several Chelsea Pensioners gathered around, one of whom is Wellcome V0012951

Anne Reid’s family history reveals ancestor Transported to Tasmania


For many  of us Anne Reid is a familiar face on our TV screens. Perhaps we remember her as  Valerie Barlow from Coronation Street, or Jean in Dinner ladies? Or it may be from the more recent series of programmes in which she stars along side Derek Jacobi as Celia Dawson in Last Tango in Halifax.

Acclaimed British actress Anne Reid MBE, is the next of the celebrities to feature in the Who Do You Think You Are? programmes. In her episode she discovers that her family tree features ancestors who were employed as solicitor’s clerks in Liverpool, but who came originally from Scotland. Tracing this respectable line further back in the records she comes across a Scots schoolmaster and becomes upset to find out that he ended up marooned on the other side of the world having served a sentence for fraud that saw him transported to Australia from Scotland.

Read TheGenealogist’s full article here…

On this day in 1752 the Gregorian Calendar introduced to England

On this day in 1752 the 3rd of September became the 14th as part of the changes caused by the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar into England and Wales and crowds of people rioted on the streets demanding, ‘Give us back our 11 days.’


The Gregorian reform had started in 1582, in Pope Gregory XIII’s time but took some time to be adopted by Europe.

The first day of the year, or Supputation of the Year became the 1st of January under the new calendar system. Prior to this the year began on Lady Day, or the 25th March.  The Calendar Act 1750 had changed this situation, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was the 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a very short year – it ran only from 25 March to 31 December!

The year had previously been broken up into quarters, still in use for some legal practices, Lady Day (25th March), Midsummers Day (24th June), Michaelmas Day (29th September) and Christmas day (25th December).

To throw even more confusion into this situation, Scotland had already changed the first day of the year to 1 January in 1600 and so 1599 was a short year there ( remember that in 1600, Scotland was a completely separate kingdom). What has to be recognised is that when King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England in 1603, the possibilities of date confusion must have been very large indeed. Today it confuses many a family historian.

The loss of the 11 days was required to balance the calendar with the solar year, as it had gone out of sequence over the span of the centuries.

Gregorain Calendar

Gareth Malone’s Famliy History reveals that music runs in the blood

Choirmaster, Gareth Malone, is not the first in his family to perform to an audience. Music and drama is in his blood. From an ancestor that appeared at King George V’s Coronation Gala to a Dublin impresario.

Tracing back the family to Gareth’s great-great-grandfather, researchers have found that he was an English actor, comedian and singer named Edmund James Payne.  Gareth’s forebear begun on the stage in the 1880s playing more than 300 roles including parts in The Shop Girl and The Messenger Boy. A critic from the time described him as a “little man with a very funny face with which he could work wonders” while another report says that Payne was a “universal favourite and a very great comedian”.

Research in Dublin has also unearthed that Gareth’s four times great grandfather Daniel Lowery was in the theatre. Family legends, passed down to Gareth, were that Daniel had been a theatre impresario in Dublin. It has been discovered that there had actually been two Daniel Lowerys, father and son – the latter having been the manager and impresario while the father had the talent and had created the theatrical legacy.

Read full article about Gareth Malone’s ancestry on TheGenealogist’s website.

Discover Your Ancestors Periodical for September now released


As September rolled in and autumn replaces summer, family history research returns to many people’s mind. What better time, then to read about this fascinating subject of researching your family tree in an online periodical designed and written by a team of best in class journalists to support and guide you through your genealogical journey?

In this month’s edition of Discover Your Ancestors Periodical you can read the following articles:

‘A true and perfect inventory’: Melvyn Jones describes the domestic comforts of a late 17th century farming family
Picturing the past: Nick Thorne explores how a free online image archive adds atmosphere to family history research
A day at the museum: For the last 400 years, museums have helped people to experience the world’s treasures
WDYTYA? is back: The popular genealogy TV show returns looking at  various celebrity trees
Are benefactors in the frame: Unique research into the lives of people who donated paintings to Glasgow’s museums
The legacies of history: Jill Morris explores wills from the 14th to 19th centuries, available online
History in the details: Jayne Shrimpton on clogs
Regulars: News & Events / Books / Place in focus: Northumberland / Classifieds

Discover Your Ancestors Periodical - September


Jerry Hall traces her ancestors from Blackburn to Texas

Model and former wife of Sir Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall is a Texan who moved to Europe in her teens. Her father’s family, however, emigrated to the USA from Lancashire in the 1880s. Jerry’s mother’s side were from pioneering roots, trailing west across America at the time of the Frontier.

Hall’s investigations into her family history take her all over the USA as she traces the movements of her pioneer ancestors, who at various times owned large chunks of farmland, often fighting native Americans in order to hang on to their newly acquired property. “I can’t believe such important information was lost all these years!” she gasps.

Read a full article here…and find out more about Jerry Hall’s ancestors.