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Did you see Ruth Jones on Who Do You Think You Are?


The episode of the popular family history programme, Who Do You Think You Are? that was shown last night in the U.K. on BBC One went down really well with a lot of people if you look at the comments on social media.

It was a real lesson in using records to trace ancestors and ranged from the family bible (written in Welsh of course) to census, parish records, shipping lists and newspaper reports to name just a few.

Ruth goes to New Quay where she is able to meet local historian Sue Passmore to find out about her ancestors that became ships' captains. Then it was the turn of Maritime expert Dr Elin Jones to help Ruth in the programme research into her mariner ancestors. This showed clearly what a fascinating subject area this is when we find seafarers in our family tree. If you have ancestors of your own that sailed the seas some of the records that we like are the Merchant Navy Apprenticeship records and Ship Crew Lists.

We particularly enjoyed seeing, in Ruth Jones' story, the photograph of the siblings set against a harbour wall. The techniques that Jayne Shrimpton, the fashion and photo dating expert, used to identify what period the photo was taken was very interesting to see... and what a simple, but great tip, she gave us to check for the photographer in two censuses to discover a time for when he had been operating.

Ruth hears in the show that one of her great uncles drowned at sea with a funeral service held in a nonconformist chapel. If you too have nonconformist ancestors, have you tried searching the official records from The National Archives? They are available online here https://www.thegenealogist.com/non-conformist-records/

But the family plot was not at the Chapel but at the Parish Church in Llanarth. Now that all the Anglican Parish Records for Wales have gone online we at Family History Social couldn't resist looking for Ruth's ancestors ourselves and were fascinated to see just how young some of them were when they were buried. You can check for your own Welsh ancestors at this website: http://thegenealogist.co.uk/welsh-parish-records

The parental line examined the life of her grandfather who had been a leading figure in the Medical Aid Societies in Wales before the birth of the NHS. We saw how from being a chemist's assistant, through wartime service as a Sick Berth Attendant in the Navy, he rose to be Secretary of the Alliance of South Wales & Monmouthshire Medical Aid Societies and attempted to persuade Aneurin Bevan that they should have a part in the new National Health Service. Sadly the societies were kept at arms length by the government and there was no place for Ruth's grandfather in the new NHS. Moving to Porthcawl he helped to run a convalescent home as his last job – proving that his entire life had been in the service of his fellow men and women.

If you missed the episode then for a short while it will be available on the BBC iPlayer or you can read a resume of what was in the programme here

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