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Although my great grandmother was not on the stage, our family knew that she had always worked in the theatre world. Her daughter, my grandmother, grew up around the theatre, and Lily’’s grandchildren were treated to notable performances at the London Palladium.

Emma Jolly, in the article The Obituary of Miss Lily Knight: 29 May 1952

Emma Jolly writer, historian, genealogist
  1. Gender & the Great War – The myth of the ‘superfluous woman’

    Thank you to writer and researcher, Suzie Grogan, for contributing this guest post on the myth of the ‘superflous woman’ which followed the Great War of 1914-18. Suzie’s latest book, Shell Shocked Britain: The First World War’s legacy for Britain’s mental health, which is published by Pen & Sword History in October 2014, considers the concept in more detail.

    Wedding injuredmancard

    Historians have written widely on the roles of women during and after the First World War. From their vital war work to their role as mother of the Empire there has been much discussion around the true nature of the change to the society that emerged after the Armistice was signed in 1918. Pre-war views of women as wife and home maker had to change, but by how much, and how widely, offers room for debate. Previous assumptions about the liberating effects of the war, the wages available to women for the first time and the jobs they could secure have been challenged and misogyny in the establishment and the press of the time exposed. My research for Shell Shocked Britain: The First World War’s legacy for Britain’s mental health helped me understand that despite the changes wrought by war, there was much work still to be done.

    However, one myth that simply won’t be laid to rest is that of the ‘superfluous woman’ – an army of spinsters left on the shelf following the deaths of more than 700,000 of the nation’s finest in the four years of fighting. I am still asked to comment on the subject at talks, and certainly some people who lived through that period perceived this to be a real issue. The press referred to ‘millions’ for whom marriage had become an impossibility. Surely there were not enough men to go round?

    Virginia Nicholson in her marvellous book Singled Out focusses on the two million unmarried British women across all ages and classes as indicated by the 1921 Census. Her figures were rounded up from a number closer to 1.75 million and although the largest gap is in the 25-35 year old age group, where 1.1 million are unmarried as opposed to 919,000 men, it is clear that the figure of 2 million single, desperate women is way off the mark. Women have always outnumbered men in census records. In the 1870s there were 1,054 women to 1,000 men; in 1911 the figure had risen to 1,068 to every 1,000. So for it to have reached 1,095 to 1,000 by 1921, it is clear the war simply amplified a continuing trend. Further analysis indicates that it was women born between 1894 and 1902 of the middle and upper classes who had their chances of marriage to the ‘right sort’ reduced. This is the generation of young, public school educated men who took junior officer posts and were in relative terms much more likely to be killed or seriously wounded than the men who served under them.

    I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Professor Jay Winter, author of Sites of Memory Sites of Mourning, a key text in the debate about the emotional impact of the war. He maintains that the war made marriage more popular than ever. In 1919 and 1920 the marriage rate was 30% higher than the pre-war figure and re-marriage was up by 50%. But those marrying were more likely to be working class, often driven by economic necessity. For the middle and upper class girl or woman post war, things were more complex. Agony columns in the press saw letters from melancholy women who could not attract one of the ‘few men’ available. ‘Competition is keen and my chances do not seem very bright’. Dr Murray Leslie, the Daily Mail reported, berated the ‘jazzing flappers’ who tempted away young men with their provocative ways and revealing outfits. Like others, often supporters of the Eugenics movement, he was concerned that only women of the ‘lower orders’ were left to repopulate the Empire.

    However, the post-war period and a seemingly restricted marriage market supported the ambitions of many women who sought fulfilment outside home and family. Unlike Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, they did not want to be ‘always giving parties to cover the silence’ or be one of the women criticised in the press for living on tea and aspirin and complaining about their nerves. For some, their war work did open doors into the professions, but these were still largely closed off to women and some careers, such as teaching and nursing, were only available to unmarried women in any event.

    In Shell Shocked Britain I examine this issue in relation to the emotional impact of the war, and of post-war attitudes that made dealing with mental health issues challenging for all classes and both genders. Like the shell shocked soldier, women had to face life in a changed society. They were not, in numerical terms anyway, ‘superfluous’ but like some war veterans, many did wonder whether they had a useful place in the Britain of the 1920s and 1930s.

    Suzie Suzie Grogan is a London-born professional writer and researcher in the fields of social and family history and mental health. Suzie’s first book Dandelions and Bad Hair Days: Untangling Lives Affected by Depression and Anxiety was published in 2012 and she also writes for a wide variety of national magazines. Suzie also runs a popular blog, ‘No wriggling out of writing’, and presents a local radio show on literature, called ‘Talking Books’.

  2. The Best Websites for British India Research

    I have been on the British Library‘s list of approved researchers for the Asian and African Studies Reading Room, for some years. In 2012, my introductory guide to the British in India for family historians, Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors, was published by Pen and Sword. Since then there have been some major developments in this area of research. One of the most notable is the digitization of large sections of the India Office Records collection by Find My Past.

    Fort William, Calcutta 1735

    Fort William, Calcutta 1735

    Descendants of Europeans and Anglo-Indians who lived in the sub-continent under British rule are now spread widely across the globe. Happily, there are several free and good value online resources that researchers can use to investigate British, European and Anglo-Indian family history in India, Burma, Pakistan or Bangladesh before, and just after, Indian Independence in 1947.

    As some ancestors who lived in the subcontinent also travelled more widely in the British Empire and beyond, a number of related resources from outside the boundaries of India may also be useful.

    Here follows a list of my favourite websites for researching the British in India online. Some of them will lead you to further research in archives, especially at the British Library or The National Archives. If you cannot access archives in the London area, please contact me to obtain copies of documents.

    India Office Family History Search http://indiafamily.bl.uk/UI/

    Discovery (from The National Archives; includes material from The British Library that was formerly indexed on Access to Archives www.a2a.org.uk) http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

    Families in British India Society (FIBIS; essential database and Wiki resources) http://www.fibis.org/

    Family Search https://familysearch.org/

    British Association for Cemeteries in South India (BACSA) http://indian-cemeteries.org/bacsa/html/cemetery_records.html

    Index to HEIC [Honourable East India Company] Cadets
    http://www.ans.com.au/~rampais/genelogy/india/indexes/cadfram.htm

    Index to Original Papers, Letters, Photographs, and Manuscripts at the British Library
    http://searcharchives.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?dscnt=1&dstmp=1410528032513&vid=IAMS_VU2&fromLogin=true&fromLogin=true

    Historical maps of India  http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~poyntz/India/maps.html

    Untold Lives http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/

    Kabristan Archives (Ireland, Ceylon & India Genealogy) http://kabristan.org.uk/

    For ancestors in Burma, see http://www.angloburmeselibrary.com/index.html

    European genealogies for those who lived in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) can be found at the Dutch Burgher Reunion website: http://www.dutchburgherunion.org/genealogy.html

    A useful blog on India and Anglo-Indian family history is at http://geneblanchette.wordpress.com/

    The Colonial Film Catalogue holds many films of Empire families and of events that took place in British India http://www.colonialfilm.org.uk/

    Other colonial records, include Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), can be found in the Records of Former Colonial Administrations from The National Archives (TNA).

    Gibraltar Archives http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/gibraltar-archives

    Malta Family History http://website.lineone.net/~stephaniebidmead/other%20sites.htm

    Ionian Islands Index http://website.lineone.net/~remosliema/Ionian1.htm

    East Africa records from TNA ref. RG36 www.thegenealogist.co.uk

    Mauritius – Association Maurice Archives http://www.amamu.org/

    East India Company at Home 1757-1857 http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/eicah/

    NewspapersSG has a digital archives of historic newspapers from Singapore and Malaya published between 1831-2009. This resource can be searched at http://newspapers.nl.sg/

    Sarah Speedy, Mrs Livingstone, I Presume? Memoirs of Mrs S.M. Speedy, wife of Major James Speedy 1815-1859 (Allan Speedy, 1996) – see www,speedy.co.nz/recollections/

    Emma Jolly, ‘Open Access Microfilms in the Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections of the British
    Library in the September 2008 edition of The Genealogists’ Magazine – www.sog.org.uk

    I regularly post news on this area of research to the Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors Facebook page. Please ‘like’ the page to receive regular updates.

    And do read the blogpost on my client Evelyn Nelson’s experiences in India, searching for the church registers of St Stephen’s, Ootacamund (Ooty).

  3. Writers’ Blog Tour

    Last month I received an email from fellow Pen and Sword author, Sue Wilkes, inviting me to participate in a writers’ blog tour. The aim of the tour is to showcase the work of bloggers from across the world. So far, the tour has introduced excellent writers and historians, such as Gill Mawson, Angela Buckley, Michelle Higgs and, of course, Sue.

    Sue also invited Jane Odiwe to take part. Jane’s work is inspired by the novels of Jane Austen and her website is http://www.austeneffusions.com

    As this week’s host of the tour, it is my turn to answer the four questions about my work and writing.

    Taken by Di Bouglas

    What am I working on?

    I have recently completed an MA in History: Imperialism and Culture. For my final dissertation I explored cultural imperialism in Britain through the international friendship work of Mary Trevelyan and Student Movement House, 1932-1946. This has encouraged me to work more on women’s history. Inspired by the lives of my female ancestors in the Black Country, I am researching the history of women’s work and shall be blogging on that soon. Outside of research and writing, I am promoting my latest family history research guide, My Ancestor was a Woman at War (SOG, 2013) and have a number of related events lined up over the summer.

    Woman at War cover

    How does my work differ from others of its genre?

    Family history is a fascinating genre and approaches the past at a different angle from traditional historical research. My books so far have been introductions to different topics within the subject of family history. Although they are comprehensive and include thorough lists of resources, I also aim to make them easy to read and full of interesting social history.

    Why do ‘I write what I do?

    I am passionate about history and encouraging as many people as possible to learn about their family’s pasts. If just one person is encouraged to begin family history research as a result of one of my articles or books, I’ll be very pleased.

    How does my writing process work?

    I write at home in London, on a tiny desk in the corner of a room. I research in archives, online and using books from my ever-increasing collection. Research and planning are key. All my articles and books are tightly planned around sectioned word counts before I begin to write. Ideally, I would write with a fountain pen on paper at a vast desk overlooking a lush valley, but most deadlines usually demand that I type at the computer keyboard. Eye strain is an unfortunate hazard of the job!

    Finally, I am delighted to be able to introduce two exciting new writers from opposite sides of the world:

    Debra Watkins is the author of Symphony of War (Amazon eBook) and is also a complete family history buff. She divides her time between writing novels, and researching her family’s local and social history. Born in Beccles, England she has a deep emotional connection to the town, even though she lives permanently in Australia, and most of her work has a distinct Becclesian flavour. Debra blogs at http://debrawatkinswriter.com. Also http://pocketfulloffamilymemories.blogspot.com and http://relicsofbeccleshistory.blogspot.com

    Liz Loveland, an American living in Massachusetts, is a writer and researcher who sometimes wishes she could be paid to read old newspapers all day and didn’t know her family’s local roots when she relocated. She writes about family history and social history for magazines as a freelancer and is working on a non-fiction book. She blogs at My Adventures in Genealogy and is putting her ancestor’s diary of Victorian Paris online at Addie’s Sojourn.

  4. St Stephen’s Church, Ootacamund

    Recently, I received a fascinating email from a client, Evelyn Nelson, who had followed up on my research by visiting her family’’s former hometowns of Chennai/Madras and Udhagamandalam/Ootacamund.

    Her first stop was Chennai, where she found the family vault of her ancestor, Richard St Leger Mitchell. She also visited churches of event for more recent members of the family, and the location of the school where Richard was master, in the former ‘Black Town’ area of the city. In 1906, this area was formally re-named ‘George Town’.

    To find out more about her mother’s family, Evelyn and five of her cousins then headed for Udhagamandalam, or Ootacamund. This hill station in the Nilgiri Hills, known as Snooty Ooty in the days of the British Raj, was a popular escape from the heat of Madras below. Evelyn visited St Stephen’s Church, where her mother’s was first married. I had been unable to find any records for Evelyn’s family relating to this church in the India Office Records or on Family Search. Evelyn thus took the opportunity of meeting the priest to ask if any records were held at the church itself. Amazingly, the priest replied by inviting Evelyn to visit his house the following day.

    When Evelyn arrived at the priest’s house, she was shown the church register on a shelf in his study. The priest kindly allowed Evelyn to consult the register, in which she was delighted to find not only the marriage record but all the baptism records of her mother’s siblings.

    I am often asked by clients where they should search if they cannot find a record in the British Library or The National Archives, or online at sites such as the FIBIS database, Family Search, Find My Past, Ancestry, or India Office Family History Search. The answer I have to give is, “Contact the church in India.” This is not always possible for some, and not everyone is in a position to visit. However, Evelyn’s experience shows what successes can be made and that with family history, you should never give up!

    evelynnelson.jpg

    As a postscript to this, the memorials inside St Stephen’s Church have been transcribed by Kae Lewis and can be found on the website: http://www.kaelewis.com/database/ooty/searchpage.htm

  5. Review: Tracing Your Black Country Ancestors by Michael Pearson

    The Black Country, black by day and red by night, cannot be matched for vast and varied production, by any other space of equal radius on the surface of the globe.” Elihu Burritt, American Consul in Birmingham 1868

    As roughly half my family is from the Black Country, I was very pleased to receive a copy of Tracing Your Black Country Ancestors by Michael Pearson. The latest in Pen and Sword’s Tracing Your . . . series, this book fills a gap in family history bibliography. The Black Country is a relatively small area, but its unique heritage, culture and dialect warrant further attention from historians. The region is geographical rather than administrative, which can prove nightmarish for the family historian with BC ancestors. We have to move around between four archives, three counties and four metropolitan boroughs, encompassing Wednesbury, Darlaston, Wednesfield, Bilston, Coseley, Tipton, Dudley, Brierley Hill, Halesowen. West Bromwich, Olbury and Smethwick. It must be noted, though, that the Black Country never includes Birmingham. Furthermore, the BC is within, but does not fully cover, the counties of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. Confused? Thankfully, this new book benefits from a clear layout, with its chapter on archives and resources, and a detailed appendix on local government providing a comprehensive overview for researchers.

    Although Black Country people know where they’re from, as Pearson notes, there are no “officially defined borders” of the region, with its four archives lying in the boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. The origins of its name lie in the rich black coal seam of its lands. The book dedicates a full chapter to mining, including a useful list of mines in the region, clearly tabulated. In fact, the use of tables and charts throughout is one of the reasons for the book’s clarity. Other helpful details in this chapter are the definitions of jobs such as hewer, butty and bellman, and the dates of local mining accidents.

    edward-billingham-1930s

    My great grandfather, Edward Billingham (1874-1950), worked as a miner and lived in Coseley.

    The Black Country is renowned for its contribution to the Industrial Revolution. Pearson observes that “the wealth generated by industry meant people did not leave the region to work elsewhere”. My family lived in the area for centuries. Like many of them, most Black Country inhabitants worked in industrial jobs. My ancestors worked as miners, steel workers, iron puddlers, nail makers, hand loom weavers and brick makers. All of these areas are covered in detail, with the chapters on iron and steel, and industrial diversity. The latter is particularly useful, with details like the 21 out of 43 brickworks in the region being in Sedgley/Kingswinford. As my brick-making ancestors were women, I’m pleased that Pearson recognizes women’s contribution to the industrial revolution and to the growth and culture of the Black Country. He reveals, for example, that in 1883, 16,000 of the 20,000 area’s nail makers were women.

    1-noah-hingley-at-earl-st-wallbrook-home

    My great great grandfather, Noah Hingley (1848-1926), lived in Coseley and worked as an iron puddler.

    Other chapters examine transport, BC off-duty (an assessment of leisure, shops and so on), religion (non-conformism was very popular in the region) and Black Country life. This last chapter covers the remarkable local dialect. I have a particular interest in this as my great uncle Harry Harrison wrote fluently in the dialect, and kept the words and humour alive in regular talks and performances. He was one of the founders of the Black Country Nite Out Show. I can remember as a child finding one of his poetry books on my grandparents’ shelves. I couldn’t understand a word! Thankfully, Pearson provides a guide to some of the most commonly heard words and expressions. Some of them, like “yo’m” (“you’re”), recall the way my grandfather used to speak. To try and get an ear for the dialect, say aloud this line from my great uncle, still proudly displayed on the website of a Droitwich butcher, “Dunn’s mate is really great!”

    As a retired West Midlands Police Inspector, Michael Pearson is unsurprisingly strong in the Crime & Punishment chapter. Despite his non-genealogy background, Pearson’s extensive knowledge of the area is evident. He demonstrates personal insight and local knowledge throughout, from local foods like faggots and “greay pays” (maple peas simmered with bacon and served with bread) to the BC sense of identity (“those born and bred here . . .still see themselves as coming from their village”).

    The book is also well-illustrated, not least by the many images of the Black Country Living Museum, near Dudley, a must-visit for those with ancestors from the region. This open air museum, which opened thirty-four years ago, is spread over a twenty-six acre site with over sixty separate exhibits, such as a chainmaker’s forge and a school. All the historic buildings in the ‘living’ village have been moved brick by brick to be rebuilt exactly as they once stood.

    Racecourse Colliery at the Black Country Living Museum

    racecourse-colliery-at-the-black-country-living-museum

    Summary: this is a book that cannot fail to aid those researching ancestors from the Black Country.

  6. Historic Newspapers

    Anyone who has spent hours poring over fragile, yellowing sheets in local archives or at Colindale knows how engrossing old newspapers can be. The popularity of the British Newspaper Archive, which recently celebrated its first year online, proves how keen many of us are to explore the past through the contemporary press. For family historians, enjoyment comes not just from seeing our ancestors’ names in print or learning about the worlds they inhabited, but in reading the very words they read. Depending on the nature of the publication, this can give us insight into popular opinion or into the mind of the establishment.

    Much as I enjoy using online newspaper databases, which I do at least once a week, I was delighted to receive a couple of old newspapers from Historic Newspapers at http://www.historic-newspapers.co.uk/

    The pleasures of holding a full-size paper, feeling the thickness of the pages, and being able to judge just how tightly my ancestors had to squint to read the fine details of Mr. William Shadforth’s “Special” Heart and Nerve Tonic are rare, and something I miss in the digital experience.

    Although companies like Historic Newspapers market their papers for special occasions, such as anniversaries or significant birthdays, the possibility of choosing a specific title from a specific date can be useful for family historians. I have collections from local archives of photocopied newspaper columns featuring my ancestors: my great grandmother’s obituary in The Stage, the inquest into my great great grandfather’s death, and more recent cuttings of the achievements of close family members.

    Sometimes I’d like to keep the entire newspaper, to see my ancestors’ activities in the context of what was happening around them. This is possible with companies like Historic Newspapers, although it can be more expensive than visiting a local history centre and copying from a microfilm or scanner. Occasionally, the cost may be weighed against the issue that dedicates an entire page to an ancestor’s military bravery or a detailed obituary, and that features a death announcement and a letter on the event elsewhere. Given how easy it is for researchers and library users to find an article in The Times Digital Archive or the Daily Mirror online, it is not surprising that these titles are the most popular with Historic Newspapers’ customers.

    One of the papers I was sent was the Sunday Pictorial of 25 April 1926. With smallish, thick pages and heavily illustrated, this is markedly different from other newspapers of 1926. I chose this particular edition as I was keen to see how contemporary newspapers reported the F.A. Cup victory of Bolton Football Club – captained to a 1-0 victory by my great grandfather’s cousin, Joe Smith. As mentioned in the post on the National Football Museum, my grandmother claimed to have drunk out of the F.A. Cup when she was 15. On the back page of the Sunday Pictorial was a large picture of the Bolton player, David Jack, draining a draught from the very cup. And at the bottom of the page was a smiling Joe Smith, surrounded by helmeted police officers, carrying the cup to the Bolton dressing-room at Wembley Stadium.

    The FA Cup final took place on a Saturday and was reported the following day. Copies of Sunday newspapers are harder to find. Historic Newspapers holds fewer newspapers for Sunday than for the rest of the week, and they are consequently more expensive. There are lesser-known titles among the Sundays, however, like the Sunday Pictorial.

    My favourite article in this issue is titled, “Is Dancing Overdone To-day?” This feature by Clifford K. Wright on the dance craze of the period begins:

    Has dancing to-day become an obsession?

    Do we dance too much? One would

    imagine so from the frequent attacks to which

    this form of enjoyment is subjected.

    When at the conclusion of the Great War

    people welcomed dancing as one of the easiest

    avenues to forgetfulness it was pointed out

    that wars and social cataclysms like the French

    Revolution were frequently followed by some

    similar craze. It was though that this out-

    burst also would prove a mere craze and be

    short-lived. yet in 1926 we find that the cult

    of the dance is pursued by everyone with un-

    abated zest and enthusiasm,

    Wright ends with the defence:

    But most important of all are the mental re-

    actions produced by dancing. It is the ideal

    cure for a fit of the blues. Through it we can

    find an escape from the usual groove of our

    lives into a secret and magical world of our

    own.

    Sources:

    Historic Newspapers has the largest private archive of British newspapers in the world. The archive has been built over many years from various sources: initially from the newspaper group’s original archives as they moved out of Fleet Street in the 80s, and continues today, as virtually all the national Scottish and English newspaper titles send us their daily editions. Papers are also continually being sourced from libraries and other collections from all over the world. The newspapers are stored in leather binding, from which they are carefully removed when sold, and sent out in presentation boxes. The company will sell the last paper for a date, but have scanned leading titles in order that an original archive remains.

    Historic Newspapers is offering readers of this blog an exclusive 15% discount on anything on the site by using the code: 15TODAY.

  7. Naming for Empire

    In the course of studying for an MA in Imperialism and Culture, I have been examining how enthusiastic working class Britons were about the Empire in the period 1870-1914. This debate has long exercised historians, such as John Mackenzie, Bernard Porter, and Antoinette Burton.

    Mackenzie, a pioneer of cultural imperialism argues that the working classes were enthusiastic about empire and that they were particularly influenced by propagandist media, such as music hall songs, popular newspapers and juvenile literature. He highlights the adventure stories and heroes of empire, and the fervour with which many working class people greeted them. He quotes Mafeking night, 18 May 1900 (when impromptu parties took place across Britain to celebrate the relief of besieged British forces), as a striking example of this imperialistic passion.

    In contrast, Bernard Porter writes dourly, “For the working classes who participated in Mafeking night the whole occasion was probably little more than a celebration of the safety of their comrades in uniform.”1 Richard Price challenges them both by arguing that the enthusiasm emanated more from the lower middle classes and that this was evident in the voting patterns of the ‘khaki’ election of 1900. The boundary between the upper working classes and the lower middle classes can be difficult to distinguish but at the time of the war in South Africa, four fifths of British society is believed to have been working class.2

    Wherever the balance of the argument falls, there is no denying that a passion amongst the British people for the heroes, military successes and adventures of empire grew hugely up to the turn of the century. In the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, this enthusiasm reached its peak. And it was in this period that an interest in current affairs spilled over into the naming of children.

    In my Naming Napoleon blogpost, I look at the popularity of the name Napoleon during the nineteenth century and why this was so. In assessing these, I came across siblings or middle names of the Napoleons which indicated an interest in heroes or military adventure. Napoleon’s British foes, such as Horatio, Nelson, Wellington and Wellesley were all in evidence, as were as the names of mythical heroes such as King Arthur. In the 1899-1902 period, names such as Arthur and Horatio, as well as those of Saxon kings, Alfred and Harold, were common.

    By 1898, however, Horatio was becoming associated with another Horatio Herbert: the hero of the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan, then Lord Kitchener of Khartoum. Although Kitchener preferred to use his middle name, both forenames saw a surge in popularity in the birth registrations3 from this date. From 1900 (as he progressed to Chief of Staff during the Boer War, eventually being appointed Secretary of State for War in 1914), the hero worship of Horatio Herbert continued along with the popularity of his forenames. In 1892, a Horatio Herbert Bryant was registered in Bradford West, with several more following in subsequent years. Even ‘Kitchener’ was used as a forename; first appearing in the GRO birth registrations of December quarter 1898: Kitchener Sladden of West Ashford. There was a marked increase in Kitchener related names in 1902, but no Kitcheners4 were registered between 1905 and September quarter 1914 – the onset of the Great War. The imperial link also seems clear with Horatio Kitchener (Goole, 1898) and Horatio Baden (Hendon, 1900).

    The connection of Kitchener with the then Colonel Baden Powell continues with Kitchener Baden P R Coleman, who was registered in Ipswich in September 1900 (4a, 973). Baby boys with the names Baden, Baden Powell and Baden Mafeking appear regularly in GRO records between 1899 and 1920, when post war socio-cultural values began to turn against overt references to military imperialism. The GRO birth indexes for England and Wales5 show that between 1837 and the beginning of the Siege of Mafeking in October 1899, only ten children were registered with the first name Baden. In contrast, from the December quarter 1899 and the outbreak of war in 1914 there are hundreds of Badens, several of whom were given the middle names Powell or Mafeking to emphasize homage to the hero of the siege.

    Checking some of these Badens on the 1911 census6 shows many of them were from working class families, with fathers who were miners, labourers and factory workers. There is a sense that by making a lasting public statement of their enthusiasm for Baden Powell, and possibly support for his military and imperial activities, that the parents of these children wanted to show the wider world that they were part of the empire-supporting community.

    Besides Kitchener and Baden-Powell, other heroes celebrated through babies’ names include Field Marshal Fredrick Sleigh Roberts (1832-1914), commander of the field army in the Boer Wars, who was nicknamed “Bobs”. Kitchener Bobs Thornton in Headington (1902), Bobs Baden P Ellis from St Saviour (Sep 1900) and Bobs Baden Jones of Fulham in the same quarter are all clear examples. The forename “Bobs” appears in the GRO birth registrations from March quarter 1900 through to September 1901, and then reappears in March quarter 1915. This posthumous reappearance may show respect for Roberts’ death7 in France, three months into the Great War, when visiting troops from his birthplace of India.

    The registration of a Bobs Germiston V Sargeant in Lexden, 1900, highlights an enthusiasm for naming children after imperial places or scenes of military adventure. This phenomenom appears to have been particularly prominent during the Boer War specifically. Previous wars do not seem to have had the same effect: between 1854 and 1901, for example, only five births were registered in the name of the Crimea (Tayler, Ebers, Evans, Boswell and Price) and another five after Balaclava (Tucker, Gibbins, Lofthouse, Smith and Smith).

    Germiston is a city in the East Rand. Roberts commanded forces to attack there on the 29th August 1900, enabling the capture of Johannesburg two days later. Master Sargeant’s parents may have been influenced in their name choice by the overtly biased reporting of the time, as evinced in Winston Churchill’s The Boer War: London to Ladysmith Via Pretoria and Ian Hamilton’s March (Longmans Green, 1900):

    Advancing with great speed and suddenness through Elandsfontein, Lord Roberts surprised the Boers at Germiston, and after a brief skirmish drove them in disorder from the town, which he then occupied. So precipitate was the flight of the enemy, or so rapid the British advance, that nine locomotives and much other rolling stock was captured . . .

    Although the macho exploits of Roberts, Kitchener, and Baden-Powell were feted in newspapers and boys’ own literature across the Empire, there was one woman whose name became celebrated in this period. This was the war correspondent, Sarah Wilson8. Lady Sarah Isabella Augusta Wilson (1856-1929), to give her her full title, was the aunt of Winston Churchill (at the time, he was a war correspondent for the Morning Post). ‘Sarah Wilson’ was a common name, even when used as forenames, but in the period from June quarter 1900 to March quarter 1901 there was a marked rise in the number of female children registered thus with the GRO. More evident are the births of “Lady Sarah Wilson” (June 1900: West Bromwich and Hastings) and “Lady Sarah W Hunter” (Sep 1900, Middlesbro). Significantly,

    Sarah Wilson wrote for The Daily Mail, which was even then known for its sensationalist coverage and large working class readership. Its influence in 1900 is difficult to over-estimate. One history of the paper states: “By the start of the Boer War its circulation had risen above a million, far higher than any newspaper in the world.”9. When Sarah Wilson wrote in gushing terms about the heroic adventures of Baden-Powell, therefore, thousands of working class people would have either read or heard about them. It is probably no exaggeration to suggest that her writing10 influenced the naming of some of the “Baden”s mentioned above.

    “Sarah Wilson” aside, parents tended to stretch their imaginations when choosing to name girls after imperial themes. Several opted for place names, like Ladysmith and Pretoria. The reasons behind giving children these names are less obvious than in the case of naming for adventurous heroes. These parents may have wanted to celebrate the relief of sieges or British successes in the War, but in some cases (e.g. “Colenso Peace”) middle names suggest a less enthusiastic attitude to military activity. Some of the parents may have wanted to demonstrate their Britishness or to mark celebrations that they associated with the events of war. In the case of Pretoria, it may just be that they thought it sounded pretty as a name.

    From census returns and middle names, we know that most Pretorias were female, but there were exceptions: Pretoria Fredrick Adams from Devon, Pretoria Harold Banting from Gloucestershire, and Pretoria Mafeking Robert Randall from Berkshire. The most common combination for girls was Pretoria May – according to FreeBMD there were two hundred and nineteen registered between March quarter 1900 and September quarter 1908. British troops, under the command of Roberts, took Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, on 5 June 1900, but preparations had begun in the previous month. Other interesting, and obviously imperial combinations were Pretoria Mafeking Blomfom11 Ellis in Lancashire, Pretoria Anna Ladysmith Sexton from Erpingham in Norfolk, Pretoria Victress Spencer from North Yorkshire, and Pretoria Baden Wiseman in Bury St Edmunds.

    Some of the imperially named children had parents with a military connection. They may have wished to express support for British troops or demonstrate their association with their former regiments. Pretoria May Pritchard, for example, was the daughter of army pensioner, James Thomas Pritchard, and another was the child of a drill instructor. There are examples, too, of parents who had lived in various corners of the empire, such as the family of Pretoria Madge Taylor, whose brother, George A, was born in Dalhousie, India.

    Other parents seemed keener to give their children grand or distinctive names, not necessarily linked to the Empire: viz Pretoria Maud South (b1900), the daughter of Cartridge Foreman in Kensal Rise and her brother, Lord Algernon South.

    Before 1900 no child was registered in England and Wales with the name Mafeking. In May 1900-September 1901 forty-nine children (boys and girls) were registered in England and Wales with Mafeking as their first name. There was also a Mafeking Henry J Jones in Edmonton June 1905 and a Mafeking V Diskett in Dorchester June 1921. This Mafeking’s mother’s maiden name was Cawley; her mother may have been the Mafeking Cawley who was born June 1900 in Sherborne, making her naming less imperial and more familial. Middle names for earlier Mafekings, however, included Baden, May, Victor, Herbert, and Roberts.

    Between March quarter 1900 (when the Britains besieged in Ladysmith were relieved by troops under command of Lord Dundonald12) and Sep 1900, the births of twenty-four Ladysmiths were registered. There was also Ladysmith Winifred R Taylor, June 1902, in Islington, Ladysmith May Lambert, Sep 1903 in Sheffield, and Ladysmith J Lynas in Leyburn, 1931. This last may have been the daughter of Ladysmith Iceton (b. 1900), who died in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. Of the other Ladysmiths, the only middle name that stands out is that of Ladysmith Shamrock and Thistles Dujon of Peterbro’. As the shamrock and thistle were the national flowers of Ireland and Scotland respectively, this may suggest support for these nations or specific regiments. Miss Dujon appears to be of imaginative parents with a brother named Prince George Alexander Dujon (1910-1988) and a sister named Princess Edna A(E)lvizea Dujon. The name choice may indicate eccentricity, but also an emphatic patriotism from her father who was born outside Britain but within the Empire. John (later Julyan John) Dujon was from the West Indies but settled in Peterborough, where he was working as a labourer in an iron foundry in 1901. By 1911 he was working there as a greengrocer hawker.

    Not all families were keen to name every one of their children after imperial themes. However, it was amongst the working classes that these unusual naming practices most commonly appear. Plumber’s daughter, Ladysmith Lack, for example, had a younger brother named Buller – named after Victoria Cross hero, Major-General Redvers Buller. The name Redvers was extremely popular between 1900 and 1902, both on its own and in combination with the imperially-associated Bullers, Gordon, Victor, Baden, Stanley, Kitchener, Nelson, Cecil, Roberts, Hector, Macdonald13 and Colenso14.

    Kimberley is first recorded as a first name in June quarter 1896 with Kimberley George Foster of Totnes. The next set of Kimberleys were boys and girls registered after the relief of its siege, between March 1900 and June 1901. The name re-emerged in June 1915, but only regained popularity in the 1950s.

    Naming children for empire was more common than the examples here may suggest. Although names in this post are distinctive and show an obvious connection to the Anglo-Boer War and the Empire, many more children were named after imperial heroes with common names. Thus, children born in this period who are named Cecil after Cecil Rhodes can be difficult to distinguish from those named for non-imperial reasons. Where middle names are checked, the link appears stronger. “Cecil Rhodes” appears fairly regularly between 1882 and 1897 when larger numbers appear. 1900 saw thirty-five Cecil Rhodes, whilst the June quarter of 1902 saw the registration of twenty-two. The numbers of boys registered as “Charles Gordon”, for example, saw a marked increase in numbers from February 1884 when General Charles Gordon, Royal Engineer and Christian zealot was sent to the Sudan to ‘rescue’ Egyptian forces from the Mahdi, but soon became besieged in Khartoum. After his death, or popularly perceived martyrdom, in January 1885 to December 1910, hundreds of boys were registered with his name.

    Peace came to South Africa on 31st May 1902. After this, the obvious naming after imperial heroes faded away. Evidence suggests that this explicit imperial fervour reached its peak during this war. However, some of the overt support for militaristic imperialism was reinvigorated in the Great War and names such as Kitchener made a limited return after 1914. Naming for empire may have been short-lived, but it was significant. Unlike Winston Churchill and other establishment figures mentioned here, most of those who named their children after imperial themes never contributed consciously to history books. Through their children’s names, however, these parents were able to indicate to future generations how they felt about the War, and of the impact it, and its representation in the popular newspapers of the time, had on their lives.

    1Bernard Porter, The Lion’s Share: a short history of British Imperialism 1850-2004 (Harlow: Pearson, 2004)

    2 Michael Blanch in Warwick, Peter (ed), The South African War. The Anglo-Boer war 1899-1902 (1980), p210

    3 Birth registrations in this post are based mainly on the records of the General Register of England and Wales (GRO). The indexes of these records can be accessed via a number of online sites, including www.ancestry.co.uk (Ancestry), www.findmypast.co.uk (FindMyPast), www.FreeBMD.org.uk (FreeBMD) and www.thegenealogist.co.uk (TheGenealogist).

    4 As a forename

    5 Accessed via www.freebmd.org.uk

    6 Accessed via www.findmypast.co.uk

    7 Field Marshal Lord Roberts died 14 November 1914 of pneumonia in St Omer, France.

    8Wilson’s South African Memories can be read online at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14466

    9http://www.dmgt.co.uk/uploads/files/The-Story-of-the-Daily-Mail.pdf

    10For an example of her support of Baden-Powell, see Wilson’s article: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/9542340

    11Presumably a reference to Bloemfontein

    12The Relief of Ladysmith took place on 1 March 1900. Winston Churchill entered Ladysmith at the side of Lord Dundonald.

    13 Major General Hector “Fighting Mac” Macdonald (1853-1903) – Hector a very popular name: in Scotland in 1900 it was the 25th most registered boy’s name, but from September quarter 1899 there are hundreds of ‘Hector Macdonald’ forenames.

    14 The Battle of Colenso (in Natal, on the Tugela River) took place on 15 December 1899. It was one of the worst defeats of the war for the British, and thus may seem an unusual choice of name for British parents. Colenso appears in the GRO records in 1894. Up to March quarter 1904 there are four recorded. In 1902 a male child, Colenso Peace E Chipping was recorded in December quarter in Chertsey. His father, James Chipping, was a bricklayer.

  8. The National Football Museum

    Next month heralds the long-awaited launch of the English National Football Museum in Manchester. Opening on 6th July 2012, the Museum describes itself as a “world-class cultural attraction” in the perfect location, with football already bringing thousands of visitors to the city each year and being “very much part of Manchester’s DNA”.

    There will be plenty for current football fans to admire, from the shirt that referee Howard Webb wore in the 2010 World Cup final, to recent photographs in Stuart Roy Clarke’s Homes of Football exhibition. But it is the varied historical collections and extensive archive that give this Museum its significance. Amongst these are the collections of the UEFA Library, the Football Association, the Football League, the Littlewood Pools and the FIFA Collection. The last is apparently the finest single collection of football memorabilia, assembled by the late journalist and football fan, Harry Langton (1929-2000). There are also trophies, medals, caps and other memorabilia from two of the founders of the Football League, Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End.

    Perhaps the most interesting items for social and family historians are those of the People’s Collection. Comprised of over 6000 objects and ephemera donated by members of the public, the collection features magazines, trophies, player contracts, programmes, song sheets, cigarette cards, scarves, autograph books and tickets. The Museum welcomes enquiries from family historians and has a dedicated web page for genealogy research: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/collections/family-history/ I was particularly excited to note that the Museum is digitising some of the FA and Football League records in their collections and look forward to hearing more on this over the next year.

    I have a personal interest in football history as my great grandfather’s cousin, Joe Smith (1889-1971), was one of the best professional footballers of his generation. He is second only to the legendary Nat Lofthouse as Bolton’’s top goalscorer, and his 38 goals in season 1920/21 remain a club record. I first heard about him as a child when my grandmother claimed that she drank out of the FA Cup after one Joe’s FA Cup wins in the 1920s (Bolton won in both 1923 and 1926). Grandma always swore that this was true, but I’d love to have proof. Perhaps it’s hiding somewhere in the Museum’s archive . . .

    emmie-gertrude-billingham-1920s.thumbnail

    Grandma in the 1920s

    Joe Smith signed for Bolton in 1908 when he was just 18, having begun his career as an amateur at his local team of Newcastle St Lukes. He was capped for England five times. After retiring as a player, he managed Blackpool FC, guiding them to a tight 4-3 win over his old club, Bolton, in the celebrated FA Cup final of 1953. This final is also known as the Matthews Final, in tribute to the outstanding performance of Stanley Matthews.

    150px-joe_smith_football_manager

    Joe Smith

    Today, in this age of astronomical wages and accusations of clubs buying titles, my favourite Joe Smith anecdote centres on his early years. Joe’s father, Joseph (1856-1914) and his sister (my great great grandmother), Sarah, grew up in the industrial Black Country. Joseph went on to work in the hot and dangerous iron industry as a puddler, whilst his wife, Rosina, raised their three sons in a four-roomed house in Newcastle under Lyme. When my sons pester me to buy them aero dynamic balls or the latest kit, I remind them that their ancestor became a footballing legend by practising in the local streets, kicking rag balls made by his mother:

    I used to volley balls into the net from a few feet off the floor. I was deadly with them. And do you know how I developed that? When I was a junior, my mother used to make rag balls for my brother [Phillip Smith, also a professional footballer] and I. We couldn’t afford a real ball.
    We used to play against a wall, and kick from the street, about twenty yards out. Quite a few people used to watch us every time we went there. My mother could make a decent ‘ball’ with stockings, and fill it up with rags. We’d chuck it out of the hand, and you’d have to volley it before it dropped to the floor. We didn’t dribble with it. It was just for chucking out, just for shooting. That’s how I developed my goal-scoring.

    (as told the Blackpool FC’s chronicler, Robin Daniels).

    With thanks to my (and Joe Smith’s) cousins, Adrian Sherlock and Lynn Smith.

    The official website of the National Football Museum is http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com and you can take part in the countdown to the opening at http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/join-in/the-countdown/

    Other useful websites for researching football ancestors are:

    Scottish Football Museum http://www.scottishfootballmuseum.org.uk/

    Homes of Football: http://www.homesoffootball.co.uk/

    Scottish National Team Archive http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scotland_fixture_archive.cfm?page=823

    Scottish Football Historical Archive http://scottish-football-historical-archive.com/

    Post War English & Scottish Footballers Careers http://www.neilbrown.newcastlefans.com/

    Find historical football reports at at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

    Sources

    Robin Day, Blackpool Football, The Official Club History (1972)

    Brian Belton, The Lads of 23- 1923 FA Cup Final, (2006)
    Stanley Mortensen, Football is my Game (1949)
    Stanley Matthews, The Way It Was (2000)

    Ann Langton (ed.), Saved: A Rare Anthology of Football from Homer to Gazza (2006)

  9. Streets of Dickens

    For fans of Charles Dickens and those who would like to know more about him, this  bicentenary exhibition is not to be missed. Streets of Dickens: Holborn, Hampstead, St Pancras is the latest celebration of the author to open in London, and can be seen at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, on the second floor of Holborn Library. The Archives are situated conveniently around the corner from the Charles Dickens Museum in Doughty Street (due to close from 10 April-December 2012).

    As described in my article for London Historians, ‘Charles Dickens in Camden’, the novelist had many associations with the area. Further links have been discovered by historian Ruth Richardson and are explored in her new book, Dickens and the Workhouse (OUP, 2012).

    The exhibition is one of the largest I’ve attended at the Archives, and is well illustrated with copies of photographs, prints and drawings in the collections. Amongst the original items featured are letters by the novelist from the 1830s and 1855, an 1857 Tavistock House Theatre poster, a 1924 drawing of Mr. Pickwick by Joseph Clayton Clerk, and a Burial Register of Highgate Cemetery showing the April 1851 entry of Dickens’ baby daughter, Dora Annie.

    All Dickens’ local residencies are covered, such as the now-demolished 16 Bayham Street with its views ‘over the dust-heaps and dock-leaves and fields . . . at the cupola of St. Paul’s’ (John Forster). For those unfamiliar with dust-heaps, the exhibition helpfully provides a print of those in Somers Town 1836 and displays Dickens’ description of them in Our Mutual Friend.

    Streets of Dickens is open now until 21 December 2012. Camden LS & Archives, Holborn library, 32-38 Theobalds Road, London is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10-7; Saturday 10-5. Free entry.

  10. Lessons in Nursing Care from the Early Years of the NHS

    The first series of Call The Midwife ended last night on BBC 1. The show was a huge ratings success, with its final episode being watched by 9 million viewers. Much of its appeal lies in the fairly accurate recreation of 1950s Poplar and of its realistic scenes of childbirth.

    Today, with UK healthcare under threat from the NHS bill, this portrayal of the Service’s successful early years may hold some clues as to how it could more simply be reformed. There have already been calls for the NHS to go ‘back to basics’, with the return of matrons and a focus on patients’ essential needs. Could a return to 1950s methods of nursing care, whilst retaining 21st century scientific and technological advancements, be the answer?

    Decades before the NHS was created the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, regarded open windows as the hallmark of a healthy hospital ward. Open windows were much in evidence on Call The Midwife, both in the hospital wards and in houses of the East End.

    This basic policy is supported by an article in today’s Independent, which reports on a microbiologist who believes air conditioning and an ultra-sterile environment are harming patients by contributing to infections. Jack Gilbert of Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago and head of the Earth Microbiome Project, explained the science behind his theory:

    Open windows let bacteria in from outside and you will either dilute out the pathogens, or you are not allowing the pathogens to establish themselves because there is too much competition for the nutrients and energy that the bacteria need to survive. . . There’s a good bacterial community living in hospitals and if you try to wipe out that good bacterial community with sterilisation agents and excessive antibiotic use, you actually lay waste to this green field of protective layer and these bad bacteria can just jump in and start causing hospital-borne infections.”

    Contemporary scientists are not alone in their praise of basic practice, as seen on Call The Midwife. My godmother, a retired chief midwife, was impressed by the authenticity of the breech birth scene in episode two. Mothers on the babycentre.co.uk webchat, agree. They believe that the 1950s method of covering the baby’s head with a towel, in order to keep it warm and prevent it taking a breath in the birth canal, was preferable to their experiences, which had resulted in lung pumps and incubators.

    Having been through childbirth twice, I agree that the birth scenes in this programme are the most realistic I’ve seen on any television drama. Happily, like mine, most of the births shown in the series ended successfully. However, one of the most tragic scenes was that in episode 4 where middle-aged headmaster David loses his beloved wife Margaret after she suffers eclampsia. Eclampsia and pre-eclampsia remain dangerous conditions. As now, good ante-natal care is key to identifying present and prospective complications. Sadly, Margaret was shown to have left her ante-natal appointment before being seen by the midwives.

    In the early 1970s, my mother saved the life of a farmer’s wife from a remote area who was admitted with pre-eclampsia:

    “We had to take her into a single room with the blinds down and keep her sedated. Suddenly she began fitting and her heart stopped. With no second to spare, I had to give heart massage until we felt a pulse. After this, she was given an emergency caesarean section, and both she and her premature baby survived.”

    mumnurse

    My mother, who began her training in 1963, warmly remembers the camaraderie of the early years:

    “There was much more of a family feel than there is in today’s nursing. There were many people aged 18, mostly young women, with very very few men in general nursing. We were all enthusiastic, really loved the patients and all the young ones felt we were in it together.”

    Like the midwives who lived together at Nonnatus House, my mother and her colleagues lived in a nurses’ home where hierarchy was much in evidence:

    “We were awe of the sisters, and the matron could sometimes be quite terrifying! We were issued with so many dresses, so many hats and so many aprons. There were the hospital laundries which did all the laundry and starched your hats. This helped keep infections down. The matron and sisters were very strict about hair being kept back, and absolutely no wearing of jewellery.”

    Community and personal relationships are seen as central to nursing care in the television series, and were very much key values for nurses of my mother’s generation:

    Everything was about caring for people, the care of the person. Especially as young nurses, we got to know the patients and their families. Great emphasis was put on nutrition – also the going out. The fluids in and the fluids out, as it were. Anyone who wasn’t up and about, we had their charts and went around making egg and milk drinks, making sure they were all well-nourished.

    I trained in a big hospital where we rarely saw the matron, but the assistant matrons did daily rounds. We had to make sure that we knew everything about our patients. The senior staff would walk round and ask any question at all. We had to be particularly alert with one, who asked the blood results of each patient, which we had to know without looking. Also, we looked after the whole ward so we knew every patient there.”

    This later changed, with nurses only being assigned a small number of patients on each ward.

    Some viewers have expressed relief that they do not have to give birth, drug-free, in a bug-infested slum in the bomb-shattered East End of post-war London. But many more are attracted to the positive experiences shown on Call The Midwife: the strong community, inexhaustible humour, and, above all, the patient-centred nursing care. On a day when so many are criticizing and heckling the Prime Minister and the Health Minister for their planned reforms, it seems appropriate to remember the value of high quality nursing in those early years of our National Health Service.

    The Guardian’s obituary of Jennifer Worth (Jenny Lee), who died shortly before the series was filmed, can be read at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/06/jennifer-worth-obituary

    For more on the local history aspect of Call The Midwife, see the The Sugar Girls’ blog: http://www.thesugargirls.com/call-the-midwife/ 

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Member of The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in ArchivesGraduate of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies CanterburyMember of the Society of Genealogists