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Genealogical Mystery: The Vanished Child by M J Lee

Here is a novel that could keep you enthralled as the evenings draw in. Although it is a work of fiction it contains some useful tips about tracing ancestors who were part of the child migrant programme.

The Vanished Child by M J Lee is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series and sees the ex-police detective and Genealogist investigator search for a long lost man. The researcher must find the older half-brother that her elderly step-mother never knew she had until her own mother confessed on her death bed to having had an illegitimate first child.

The boy had been placed in a children's home while his mother attempted to get back on her feet, only for him to be shipped off to Australia before she and her new husband could claim him back.

Background to the novel

In the 1920s to 1970s more than 130,000 children were sent to a “better life” in Australia and Canada, under the child migrant programme.

The children ranged in age between three and 14 and mostly came from deprived backgrounds and were already in some form of social or charitable care, such as the boys' home in the fictional story. At the time, it was believed that the children would lead happier lives in their new countries and charities such as Barnardo’s and the Fairbridge Society, the Anglican and Catholic churches and local authorities helped with the organisation of their emigration.

The truth is that many ended up being abused or suffering hardship.


Well worth a read:

The Vanished Child by M J Lee

Here is the blurb on the author's website:

What would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children's home. She returned later but he had vanished. 

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go? 

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sincalir Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a stand alone novel.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.



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Latest reading - Ancestors in the Attic

An interesting book we've recently read which is a good practical read and full of interesting historical points,  is the Karen Foy book - 'Ancestors in the Attic- Making family memorabilia into history'. With the main emphasis these days on the convenience of finding family history records quickly online, Karen looks instead at the valuable treasures we can find in lofts and cupboards or heirlooms left by our ancestors which can throw significant light on how they lived and what life was like. Karen carefully examines many aspects from journals kept, old tickets, the newspapers they read, mementoes kept, military medals , ration books and fashions that were popular at that time. The book advises what to look for and the clues we can find from many different types of memorabilia and the history behind many of the artifacts we come across. It's well worth a read, currently available at the sale price of £11.95 from the S&N Genealogy Supplies website.

Ancestors in the Attic

Ancestors in the Attic- new book available from Karen Foy

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Weekly book review- the Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames

Family History Social will be taking a weekly look at some of the popular books available for family historians which I hope are of interest to you. This week we've taken a look at the 'Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames' by John Titford. The book describes itself as 'the definitive guide to surnames and their meanings' and is certainly very comprehensive. The author looks at the history of British surnames, regional variations and offers in one section, a humourous take on surnames from various parts of the British Isles.

British Surnames

The Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames

The book is very meticulous, analysing the history and thought-processes behind the use of surnames. There's also a section devoted to how genealogists can approach the whole surname issue and its significance in our research. The book also gives a comprehensive list of further sources of research (both offline and online) to discover more about surnames. Finally, the majority of the book (as per the title) gives an A to Z of surnames and their origin and meaning. The book contains over 10,000 surnames and includes how names have developed and varied over the years. It's available from S&N Genealogy Supplies priced £14.99. There's more details on their website.
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