Victorian History and Forenames

Napoleon’s Bodyguards at Waterloo 2010

A recent trip to the battlefield of Waterloo in Belgium reminded me of a friend who had found a Napoleon Bonaparte JASPER/JESPER (1854–1918) in her family tree. As I explored the relics of Napoleon in the Waterloo Visitor’s Centre and watched films of his defeat by the Duke of Wellington, I began to wonder why any British parents of the 19th century would wish to name their son after this great enemy of Britain and Europe. As Napoleon Jasper’s siblings had traditional English forenames like John and Mary, there seemed no obvious answer. …

1960s Fashion Culture

As a teenager stored away in the country, I became obsessed with Sixties London. Listening repeatedly to my Dad’s records of Georgie Fame, the Spencer Davies Group, Manfred Mann, The Beatles, Françoise Hardy (who recorded in the city throughout the decade), I discovered a world of youthful excitement, urbanity, coffee shops, night clubs, and vibrant fashion. I listened hard to lyrics of The Kinks and devoured Marianne Faithfull’s (now knowingly unreliable) autobiography.

When I came to live in London, the first place I visited was Cheyne Walk in Chelsea where Faithfull had lived and entertained with Mick Jagger. One of…

Hiding the Past by Nathan Dylan Goodwin (2013), the first title in the Forensic Genealogist Series

Nathan Dylan Goodwin has pioneered the forensic genealogy mystery series. His protagonist, Morton Farrier, combines old-fashioned detective skills with the latest genealogical methods and technology, to solve obscure family history mysteries for his client. He works in the what turns out to be the surprisingly dangerous environment of 21st century archives in small market towns and cities in southeast England. As a lifelong fan of detective mysteries as well as a professional genealogist, this series is perfect for me. …

Christian History in London

The exterior of Southwark Cathedral

If you have south London ancestors, you may have come across baptism or marriage records for them from the busy parish of Southwark St Saviour. This parish church became Southwark Cathedral in 1905. It stands at the oldest crossing point of the River Thames. For hundreds of years, this was the only entrance to the City of London from south of the river. Even today, it is an exciting place to cross the river (across London Bridge), with magnificent views on both sides.

Coercive Control

Gaslighting has been in the news again recently. Bloggers, podcasters, and wellness experts regularly use the term in their work and on social media. But how many of us fully understand what it means to be gaslighted? And when did the expression came into being?

By Source, Fair use,

The term is less than 100 years old, originating immediately prior to the Second World War with Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play, Gas Light. Although the work premiered just under a year before the onset of the Second World War, the story was a Victorian melodrama, set in 1880 in the imaginary ‘Angel Street’, central London.

Love Peanuts

This heart-warming exhibition, hosted in London’s historic Somerset House, features the history of Charles M. Schulz’s original Peanuts cartoons alongside work he has inspired by contemporary artists and designers.

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 26 November 1922, Charles ‘Sparky’ Schulz died on 12 February 2000 in Santa Rosa, California. Over that time, he drew 17,897 comic strips, Peanuts was syndicated to 75 countries, and translated into 21 languages. The exhibition succeeds in covering key themes of Sparky’s life and work, from throughout his long career.

Football History

Joe Smith during his time as a player

My great grandfather’s cousin, Joe Smith (1889–1971), was one of the best professional footballers of his generation. He is number 11 on the list of England’s top-flight goal scorers, with 243 league goals. In the 1914/15 season alone, he scored 36 goals in 45 games as a forward for Bolton Wanderers. Despite having died more than 40 years ago, Joe Smith remains second only to the legendary Nat Lofthouse as Bolton’s top goalscorer. His 38 goals in 1920/21 season are still a club record.

In contrast, his brother Phil Smith (1885–1918), is long forgotten. He’s remembered chiefly (thanks to official…

Criminal ancestors may have been a source of shame for our families in the past, but for today’s family historians their antics have created many useful and well-archived documents. Court records and newspaper crime reports are particularly rich seams of material for researchers. Searching online, I was delighted to discover my great great grandfather’s appearance in an Old Bailey court proceeding from 1911.

Thankfully, my ancestor Henry Joseph Barnes (known to his family as “Nen”) wasn’t in the dock. Instead, he had a small part in the misappropriation of a large collection of sweets by 37 year old clerk, John…

This evening (Tuesday 23 October), I listened to Dr Michael Passmore of the University of Greenwich giving an informative, illustrated talk on how the modern borough of Camden was affected by the 1919 Housing Act and the consequent Homes fit for Heroes programme.

Dr Michael Passmore

Dr Passmore was speaking at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre in Holborn. Although Holborn is part of the modern borough of Camden and was bombed during the First World War, its post-war council did not participate in building homes for heroes. …

Dylan’s Drawings

Stairwell in the Halcyon Gallery covered in images from Bob Dylan’s records and magazine covers

The Halcyon Gallery in London’s New Bond Street is not a place I would usually visit. Located in the heart of Mayfair, it is surrounded by luxury brand shops and its kerbsides are home to Maseratis. Happily, its latest exhibition, Mondo Scripto, is free to explore until 30 November 2018. The gallery has two premises, one (144–146 New Bond Street) containing Bob Dylan’s original sketches, and the other (across the road at 29) selling the limited-edition, signed prints. The gallery of sketches is larger inside than it at first seems, with the exhibition far bigger than I expected.

Emma Jolly

Professional genealogist | Writer | Author | Londoner | Mum | Yoga novice | Walker | Reader

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