Maps, maps, glorious maps

I'm delighted to say that after spending a rainy weekend on a graphics programme I have drawn and labelled up some useful Suffolk maps. I've just uploaded two to my new 'resources' page - one indicating the state of Norfolk parishes c1850 with plenty of notes about changes to civil parishes, and the second showing these along with the 1837 Registration District boundaries and notes about those districts that were not just confined to Suffolk.

Hopefully these will be useful to others. Any mistakes are mine and if you let me know of any corrections - providing I can verify them - I will update the maps.

Next on the agenda is to produce later district maps and Poor Law Union maps which I'll upload as time allows.

The Moated Grange

A post today to congratulate Elaine Murphy on the launch of The Moated Grange this morning at Diss Publishing Bookshop.


(with thanks to Diss Publishing Bookshop for allowing use of the above photograph)

I am completely biased as I was a behind-the-scenes researcher on the book, but I think it's a cracking read, telling the story not just of the house, but the people who lived within it, and the context they found themselves in. Not only is it a history of south Norfolk through the history of one house (in between Diss and Harleston), but the story takes us as far as Cambridge, the Fens, and the Inns of London.

The book has been an ongoing project for several years now - in that time I've completed a Masters, had my own work published, got married, moved house and held three different full-time jobs (not necessarily in that order!). It is wonderful to see the research in print: you can purchase it from several Norfolk bookshops - and online - and will shortly be able to borrow it through your Norfolk library.

I originally heard of the house as a child. My Great Great Grandfather was born there, and it had been in the Walne family for just under a century, although not always occupied by them. I grew up with tales of the Grove and the Grange in Brockdish which "had 'W's on the downpipes".

It was a surprise to receive an email from Elaine, not long after this website first appeared online. She didn't know at the time that us Walnes were still 'about' in the county. The research has come a long way since then.

I found the journey through the archives absolutely fascinating, and will never forget finding a key phrase in a Brockdish manorial volume which connected three families to the exact same piece of land. It was a great moment, linking together what was previously suspected, to something that could be satisfactorily proved. (At the same time, I found a reference to a Walne cousin, at the Grove, ploughing up the lane to the church and being repremanded. That sounded like something they would do...but that's another story)

The acknowledgements (below) are very kind, as all the hard work taking research further and visiting archives up and down the country, not to mention all the writing up, story telling and editing, have been done by Elaine herself.

There will be an author talk, question and answer session and book signing at Norfolk Heritage Centre (upstairs at Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library) on Thursday at 2.30pm. All are welcome and it's a free event.

To finish, I thought I'd post some pictures - I love the drawing of the Grange on the bookshop chalkboard, and here's me with my copy, so you know what to look out for (the book, not me!) 

My grateful thanks to Elaine for the opportunity not only to visit a former family home, but to contribute to her project.

Hope you enjoy it!  

First names inspired by the First World War

I once researched a family tree that included three sons by the unusual names of Foch, Joffre and Petain. Some of you will know at once that these were Marshals of France either during or immediately after the First World War. 

Last night I got to thinking which other names might have been relatively common during and after the Great War specifically because of the War, so I've just spent a little time on FreeBMD to get some figures.

I've generally used the time period 1914-1920 in all districts in England and Wales, and first names only as birth indexes during the Great War do not list middle names. Figures are correct at the time of writing but as sites are constantly being updated they may be wrong tomorrow! I should also say that I have only searched for correctly transcribed names (the Foch above is wrongly listed as 'Fock' for instance so is not part of the count below) and have not checked every single entry to make sure it has not been double keyed - this is an interest post, not a scientific experiment.

Meet the Fochs - and other well known people

Going back to the original trio, searching all transcribed records, there are three Fochs, all registered in June Quarter, 1919. Five Petains were registered between June Quarter 1916 and December Quarter 1938, three of them in 1916. Finally, Joffre proved particularly popular with 295 registrations, especially in 1915 and 1916 which saw 234 of those registrations. Numbers tailed off quickly from 1917. All three of these names were unknown in the registers prior to the Great War. [Since Game of Thrones, the similarly spelt name 'Joffrey' may represent too much of a baddie to have a similar impact!]

Other well known individuals and their impact on later birth registers is sometimes more difficult to monitor as they may well have had names that were already popular. The number of Ediths registered in Norfolk actually fell from 144 registrations in 1914 to 114 in 1916 and was still lower - at 126 - in 1920. However, across the Country, 27 'Cavells' were registered, the highest number in a quarter being six in December 1915 - the same quarter in which she died. I was surprised to find none of these were registered in Norfolk though.  

So how about battles and famous places associated with the First World War?

As expected, 'Somme' appears in 1916 with 14 registered births between 1914-20. 

An early 'Arras' was registered in 1842, but the name appears relatively freqently from 1915, with 43 registrations during the war years. Interestingly there are also a couple of registrations which may be female variations - an Arrasina and an Arrasy both registered in 1918.

Only four 'Flanders' were registered during the war years, and other entries appear now and again both before and after the war - perhaps family surnames recycled as first names.

No one was registered with the first name Gallipoli but four 'Dardanelles' were registered in 1915 only.

There are no Marnes or Passchendaeles at all, but a staggering 923 Verduns between 1914 and 1920 alone. Two in 1914, three in 1915, 668 in 1916, 145 in 1917, 51 in 1918, 31 in 1919 and 22 in 1920. Unlike the other names there were then a few Verduns registered most years until the 1960s. 

As for Jutland, there are four in currently transcribed indexes on the site, three of them during the war years. 

Ending with Ypres, there were 75 indexed in total, 65 of them during the war years. The name first appears in December Quarter 1914, and was most popular in March Quarter 1915.  

I suspect most of these children were boys, but the registers do not distinguish - do you have any female Arras' or Sommes in your family tree?

I'm sure these figures are dwarfed by the number of children with middle names related to battles and places. Perhaps these children were 'battleborn' or perhaps their fathers were involved or died there. Did the name itself have an impact? Perhaps 'Verdun' was similar enough to 'Vernon' that it was easier to use day to day than 'Passchendaele'? I'm sure there are family stories out there, but I'm sure the outcome of the battle and where it appeared on a scale of Allied success/failure also had an impact.


And what of the symbol of the poppy? Is the graph below coincidence, with the name rising in popularity from the end of 1921, the same year that Anna Guerin's idea was adopted by Field Marshal Douglas Haig, one of the founders of the Royal British Legion? Consistently, December Quarter seems to have a higher number of registrations, perhaps children born on, or close to, Armistice Day, the phenomenon appearing from 1921 onwards.


Your turn!

I'm sure this is just a start - there must be lots of other First World War names out there, whether connected to people, places or battles. I'll leave that searching up to you...


Registers of seamen's services (1900-1928) now on Ancestry (from ADM 188)

Navy in the family?

Last week, Ancestry added 'UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1900-1928' to their military databases.

The source data tells us these come from ADM 188 at The National Archives. The collection at TNA covers a larger selection of dates (1873 to 1923) in ADM 188 than those already at Ancestry, all of which can be searched there and downloaded for £3.30. Some of the records are noted to cover periods up to 1928 - hence Ancestry's database title.

These records are for ratings (ie not officers) who joined between 1873 and 1923.

The records may include dates and places of birth (not necessarily exact), names of ships served on, service numbers, badges, character, appearance, date of death in service, wounds, and cross references to the 'new register'. Importantly for First World War researchers, ADM 188 records may include records of men who served in RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) - look for a service number prefixed with an 'F'.

Details about how (after January 1894) service numbers were issued in relation to the branch of service (eg stokers or ship's police) can be found at the ADM 188 link above.

These records can be used together with others to piece together more details about a career - for instance warrant officers' service records (ADM 196) or continuous service engagement books (ADM 139). Records after 1923 are still held by the Ministry of Defence.

To look at a couple of examples, I found my Great Great Uncle, Leonard Walne (F14715). His record tells us his date and place of birth, and his occupation - Motor Mechanic. We know that he was engaged on 20 May 1916 during the hostilities and that he was 5' 10 1/4, with light brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion and that he served with a 'Very Good' character. He had already completed a year and 254 days of army service (from other records we know he was sent to Gallipoli with the Suffolks earlier in the war). He served in a number of places as an air mechanic including accounting base President II and airfield HMS Daedalus before being engaged in the newly formed RAF - an example of a pre-war occupation influencing later service. (UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1900-1928; Leonard Nesling Walne; F14715; Piece 589:1916; 14501-15000; Page 217 of 502; accessed 22 February 2015)

I also found an Outerbridge with Bermudan connections (one of my research interests) who served prior to the First World War. Arthur James Outerbridge was born in 1881 and had a scar on the right side of his chest. He was 5 feet 4 inches and described as a 'man of color'. He served on the HMS Comus and later the HMS Charybdis (I suspect the fourth one) between January 1900 and February 1901. (UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1900-1928; Arthur James Outerbridge; 358143; Piece 543:1900; 358001-358500; Page 143 of 549; accessed 22 February 2015) Arthur may perhaps reappear later in Merchant Navy record sets.

I wonder if the earlier records will become available later? For the time being, search for earlier records in the ADM 188 series on the National Archives website, and download them for £3.30 each.