Thank you for 7 years of reading

Today marks the 7th birthday of the History Repeating blog!

It’s 7 years ago today that I published my first History Repeating blog entry. 

birthday cake with candles
Birthday Cake time! Photo: Will Clayton via Creative Commons.

I picked out a photograph of my Great Grandmother Clara Gilbert, with her siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, and Grandmother, standing outside the family home from about 1911, and decided to blog about it in my first post.

I’d like to thank you all for sticking with me to read my posts, and for all the comments, and sharing of my articles.

In those moments of doubt in December 2007, as to whether anyone would find my posts even the slightest bit interesting, I’m glad I thought ‘oh, sod it’ and clicked ‘Publish’. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog, and have found that it’s been a great way of connecting with more relatives, and helping to get opinions on areas of research that I am unsure of.

If you’re toying with the idea of blogging – do it! Start your blog in 2015.

Thank you.

Famberry offering a larger ‘pot’ for your family tree

Famberry logo

I’ve just had news from Steve Bardouille, the co-founder over at Famberry – they’ve just upgraded their package for users.

They’re now offering a massive one terabyte of space to users who sign up (it’s for a limited time – sorry folks, I don’t know how long that means!), but that is a LOT of space to store photographs and memories. Steve estimates that’s about 300,000 photos!

The difference with Famberry, is that it’s a safe and secure environment in which you can build a tree and keep those family memories.

Okay, so the wisdom of crowds is quite a powerful thing, and often opens up avenues of new research, or reaches out to ‘new’ distant relatives, or, if you get as frustrated as me – opens up the possibilities to introduce ridiculous errors courtesy of other less-careful researchers. But, if you’re wanting to collaborate with your relatives in private, then it’s got that box ticked perfectly.

I took a look at online data security in my Privacy and the Genealogist post a few months ago.

Royal couple welcome a new Prince

Royal Baby fever – what might the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge decide to call their young Prince?

After much speculation over the gender of the latest Royal baby, the Duke and Duchess have become the proud parents of a son, a Prince.

Back in November 1948, the young Princess Elizabeth delivered her son, and heir. Apparently it was some time before he was named – Charles – a historical name, last bore by King Charles II whose own father (Charles I) was executed at Whitehall in 1649. Charles II had a large number of illegitimate children, but died without an heir – with the throne passing to his brother, James II and VII.

Princess Elizabeth’s choice may have been one that represented a new, fresh, start for the post-war monarchy.

Daily Graphic - Son born to the Princess

Prince William’s own name had not seen use since for a King since William IV, who died in 1837 without a surviving legitimate heir, and so his throne went to his niece, Princess Victoria of Kent.

So who will our Prince be?

By the time the Prince ascends the throne, we may have already had a Charles III (or as suspected, George VII), and a William V.

Will the new Prince become Edward IX? Henry IX? George VIII? Or will he tread the path of his earlier ancestry?

  • Prince Richard? – embracing the current popularity and interest seen for Richard III?
  • Prince Albert? – an affectionate reference to Queen Victoria’s consort?
  • Prince Leopold? – Victoria’s youngest son?
  • Prince Arthur? – a name steeped in myths, but also used in both Princes William and Charles’ names.

Further back – Saxon, Scottish, and French Kings

  • Prince Duncan? – Scottish King Duncan II died in 1094.
  • Prince Athelstan? – there has only been one King Athelstan, and he died in 939.
  • Prince Cnut? – King Cnut died in 1035
  • Prince David? – King David II was the last, dying in 1371.
  • Prince Edmund? – King Edmund II (Ironside) was the last, dying in 1016, reigning for just 7 months. This name would perhaps be blighted too, by Prince Edmund, the Blackadder – a popularly unpopular TV character.

    Actor Rowan Atkinson as the weasley Prince Edmund, the Black Adder.
    Actor Rowan Atkinson as the weasley Prince Edmund, the Black Adder.
  • Prince Robert? – the last King Robert was Robert III who died in 1406
  • Prince Louis? – whilst Louis features in William name, the last King Louis was the French King Louis, who spent a period ruling over about half of England, but he conceded the throne in 1217.
  • Prince John? – there has only been one King John.

I’m guessing that we’ll see a Prince Frederick or ‘Freddie’, or perhaps Prince Arthur.

We’ve already seen signs that Prince William likes to tread new ground, so we might even get a brand new name. According to James Brighton at, the top 5 boys names in the UK in 2013 are (in order): Noah, Oscar, Oliver, Isaac, and Jacob.

We’ll have to wait and see…. boosts Suffolk baptism records by 141,500 has added 450,000 more parish register entries to its collection – including 141,500 Suffolk baptisms.

Popular genealogy research site has announced another tranche of 450,000 online parish records. logo

In a Press Release this morning, it was revealed that 141,525 ‘new’ parish baptisms from 1753-1911 have been added to the website via a collaboration with the Suffolk Family History Society.

This is a fantastic boost for researchers of Suffolk ancestors, as well as for the FindMyPast site.

Amongst other records added at the same time were:

  • 244,309 Wiltshire Baptisms 1538-1867
  • 27,420 Northumberland & Durham Burials 1587-2009
  • 22,687 Sheffield Baptisms 1837-1968
  • 8,181 Sheffield Marriages 1824-1991
  • 7,113 Ryedale Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1754-1999

The records are available to view online now for users with PayAsYouGo, Britain Full, or Worldwide subscription.

This is perfect timing for me, as I’ve been waiting for Suffolk parish records to help me solve some research hurdles.

Tombstone Tuesday: Anne Brontë and her grave error

Author Anne Brontë’s headstone has been given an erratum plaque by the Brontë Society. Should headstones be corrected or left as a historical object?

Have you ever seen a headstone that carries incorrect information? Should it be corrected? Left as a historical object? Or should a correction be added?

I have just read this BBC article relating to the correction of an error on author Anne Brontë’s grave in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

The error, her age at death, which should have been 29 rather than 28 years, has stood in the churchyard since 1849, but now the Brontë Society has made the corrections by adding a plaque alongside the original standing stone.

This is not the first time her headstone has been corrected – her sister Charlotte arranged the correction of five earlier errors.

Elizabeth Yarrow’s headstone doesn’t match burial records on several counts.

This reminds me of my own Great x 5 Grandmother, Elizabeth Yarrow (née Wright), whose own age, date, and year of death differs by two years depending on whether you’re reading the headstone, or one of the two parish registers that record her burial.

Dates range from 1837 to 1839, and her death seems to not to be covered by certification.

What do you think? Is it right to correct a headstone, preserve it with its error, or add an ‘erratum’?

How a QR code could give you that family history research breakthrough

Creepy or a lovely sentimental touch? How a QR (quick response) code could help you break through that research brickwall by providing you with extra information at the grave side.

Small black and white squares and a handheld device could be the key to that long-awaited research breakthrough.

QR codeQR codes (‘quick response codes’) are a kind of square barcode that can be scanned by mobile and tablet device cameras and then link you through to a webpage. You may have seen some on bus stop or underground posters, or food packaging, or even on the tags found on the end of a teabag string.

Whilst those examples might not help you discover what happened to your Great Great Aunt Emily after surviving the sinking of the Titanic, or reveal a photo of your mysterious lost Uncle Freddie, QR codes could become a genealogist’s friend in the future.


Companies are finding ways to use these codes to expand on the information that can be obtained from gravestones. I quite like this idea, although several non-genealogist friends I’ve talked about this with, find the idea to be unsettling.

So will it catch on here in the UK? I guess it’s down to the delivery – if a memorial web page had to carry advertising, or was poorly designed, i’m sure that it would be unpopular.

poll carried out by The Guardian newspaper in September 2012, found that 62% of respondents answered ‘No’ to the question ‘Would you have a QR code on your gravestone?’. Is the QR code a fad? Deemed ‘too gimmicky’ and disrespectful to appear on a gravestone?

To explain how a QR code may work on a gravestone, here’s a video from Quiring Monuments – just one of many organisations who offer this service in the USA.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has already started a similar project to bring QR codes in to Botley Cemetery, Oxfordshire, England, which they hope to complete in time for the centenary of the beginning of the First World War in 2014.

Heritage and Education

In May 2012, Monmouth in Wales, became the world’s first ‘Wikipedia town’, with buildings receiving QR codes that would lead tourists to find out more about the history when scanned, under the moniker of ‘Monmouthpedia’.

Gibraltar and Brazil followed suit with similar ideas.

QR codes are generally free to create. I created the code at the top of this article at

Have you ever seen,or used a QR code on a headstone? Are headstone QR codes a creepy or a lovely sentimental touch? Would love to know what you think.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2013

The dates for the seventh Who Do You Think You Are? Live genealogy show in London Olympia have been announced for 2013.

Once again, Olympia London plays host to the 7th Who Do You Think You Are? Live genealogy and history show.

I’m excited about the 2013 WDYTYA? Live show which runs from 22nd to 24th February. The event website – which will be properly updated soon – is now counting down to the 3 day genealogy feast. Tickets go on sale on the 7th of November, and in a nod to these tough financial times – the ticket prices are remaining the same price as in 2012!

Who Do You Think You Are? Live website screenshot

I first attended in 2011 – a late starter on this front – but having also visited in 2012, I recommend going along. On my first visit, I found myself wandering around, tweeting, and browsing the plateau of stands from societies and those large commercial organisation stands. This can be quite tiring, and whilst there are lots of great stands, not everything will be relevant to you and your research.

Attend Workshops

In 2012 I booked myself onto a couple of workshops, and found this to be a much better approach to the day – giving me great advice from experts, and also some structure to my day.

Else Churchill introduces the panel
Else Churchill introduces the panel of experts at the ‘Breaking the barriers of Social Networking – Strategies and tricks’ workshop

I attended the workshops ‘Google Search Strategies for the Family Historian’ by the brilliant genealogist, author and Genealogy Gems podcaster – Lisa Louise Cooke, and “Breaking the barriers of Social Networking – Strategies and Tricks” with the fantastic Else Churchill (of the Society of Genealogists) keeping an expert panel in order.


If you’re like me, and can’t peel yourself away from social media for any more than five minutes, then I recommend using twitter whilst at the event. In the past, the event has had its own hashtag (a # symbol followed immediately by a word or initialism relating to that specific event).

These hashtags are great for keeping up to date with conversation and inside information about the event whilst at the event! It’s like tuning into the grapevine.

If you are a twitter user, you can get free apps for your smartphone and tablet device that will let you keep track and contribute to the real-time event conversation.

I found this particularly useful and fun, as it enabled me to have conversations with other genealogists at the event. It is even common for people to tweet quotes and advice in real-time from the very workshop they are sitting in!

Look out for the event hashtag in 2013!

You can even take this further by using this conversation to meet up with other tweeting genealogists on the day. This is something that I will be trying to do more at 2013’s event.

Follow me on twitter at @FamilyTreeUK and let’s tweet up!

My three top tips for visiting Who Do You Think You Are? Live

  • Leave yourself plenty of time if you’re traveling via London Underground – Earls Court station gets very busy and isn’t the easiest to navigate.
  • Be prepared for lots of walking and standing….. and talking!
  • Book tickets for the ‘big’ workshops and talks online as early as you can – many of these were sold out weeks in advance.

Heir Hunters series goes prime-time

Heir Hunters is now prime-time on BBC 2 in the UK with presenter Lisa Faulkner.

Probate research show Heir Hunters arrives on prime-time BBC tv.

Lisa Faulkner with Neil Fraser
Presenter Lisa Faulkner with Probate Researcher Neil Fraser from Fraser & Fraser. Photo:@lisafaulkner1

For quite some time now, I’ve been addicted to the daytime television series Heir Hunters, which has screened in the UK for several series.

The premise of the show is to use genealogical research methods to uncover the relatives of people who have died intestate (ie without a Will or any known legally recognised family), leading them to making a claim of the deceased’s estate which would otherwise be absorbed by the government.

The show follows a handful of the companies (mainly Fraser & Fraser, and often Celtic Research) that work against the clock to beat rival companies, to work out family trees and connect real people to their legal entitlement.

This often unearths long-lost and incredible stories about the deceased, or brings memories flooding back to living relatives who lost touch, and in several cases, comes as a complete shock to receive notification that the deceased person even existed.

The series has now been given a prime-time 7pm slot over on BBC 2, where it is now given a much longer programme, and this gives it the chance to add a much more educational and genealogical context – with investigations into the society that the deceased lived in.

Actress and the show’s former narrator since 2008, Lisa Faulkner, now takes to the screen as presenter, bringing interesting and educational interviews with experts and even the to-camera pleas for information on individuals who have been languishing on the government Bona Vacantia list.

The current run of episodes essentially contain the stories used in the last series, but with  extra footage and interviews edited in. According to the Heir Hunters twitter feed, a brand new series is complete and ready for transmission.

What do you make of the show? Is the new format better? Did you prefer the shorter programme, or the time of day that it was on? Let me know in the comments below!

FREE: Family History guide and cd-rom with The Telegraph

Free Family History step-by-step guide and CD-rom inside every copy of The Telegraph on 19th and 20th February 2011.

In association with Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, The Telegraph are giving away a step-by-step Family Tree guide and CD-rom, that will help you to trace your ancestors in only 14 days. Find out more about these great gifts at The Telegraph website.

Free Family History guide with The Telegraph

If that’s not enough, the fifth Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE event takes place at London’s Olympia between 25th and 27th February. I’m going to be going along on Friday 25th in a bid to catch talks by Monty Don and Tony Robinson.