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Monday, 20 February 2017

Lancashire Archives: Red Rose Collections

Lancashire Archives, Preston has just launched its new online digital resource, the Red Rose Collections. (It replaces the old Lancashire Lantern website). This wonderful resource includes: over 30,000 historic photos, an index to old Lancashire newspapers, an index to historical documents including Whittingham Asylum records, an index to the Preston Guild Rolls 1397-1992, an index of officers who served in Lancashire Constabulary, and the Fleetwood Online Archive of Trawlers.
If you find a record relating to the ancestor you are interested in, then you can contact Lancashire Archives and order a copy (but sadly an ordering facility is not currently available for the photos of Fleetwood trawlers).
There is also an ongoing project to index people and places named in the local history book collection, these indexes will appear on the Lancashire Libraries catalogue.
I did a 'quick search' for 'Manchester', and 'Salford' in the online search box and there were over 2000 results for Manchester and nearly 800 for Salford, so if your ancestors came from those cities or any other towns in historic Lancashire, it's well worth your time exploring the site.

It's worrying, however, that Lancashire County Council is thinking of making more changes to services like libraries owing to the unprecedented squeeze on local authority funding by the government - this is on top of the recent closures of five Lancashire's museums.
To think when I was growing up, I took it for granted that amenities like libraries and museums and social housing were an immutable part of the landscape. By the Tories' austerity ideology has run its full course we will have nothing left. There would be plenty of money for all these facilities if the big corporations and businesses paid a meaningful amount of tax instead of parking it offshore. In my humble opinion, anyway.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Austen Authors Guest Post

Plas Newydd, home of the Ladies of Llangollen. 
This week I'm a guest on the fabulous Austen Authors website! You can check out my blog post on the Ladies of Llangollen here, and there are lots more interesting articles for Janeites to explore on Austen Authors.
If you happen to be visiting North Wales, do take time to visit Plas Newydd - it reopens in April.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Back To Work!

I hope you all had a fantastic break! I have got lots of work to do over the next few weeks, so there may be radio silence for a while. In the meantime, for the bicentenary of Jane Austen's death, I have a feature on Austen's life coming up in the Discover Your Ancestors 2017 bookazine.
On the family history front, the January issue of Your Family History has my article on researching small businesses. Sometime in April, my new book, Tracing Your Manchester and Salford Ancestors will be published by Pen & Sword.
Events are also being planned for the bicentenary of the Pentrich Rebellion this June, and you can read the story of the rebels and their fate in Regency Spies.
Image: ‘The late E.W. Roylance’. At least four generations of the Roylance family, grocers and importers, were engaged in the Irish and foreign butter trade in the Manchester area. H.B. Wilkinson, Old Hanging Ditch, Sherratt & Hughes, 1910.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas to all my readers! And 'peace and goodwill' to everyone, all over the world.
Image: 'The lieutenant skating', Hugh Thomson illustration for Mary Russell Mitford, Our Village, Macmillan & Co., 1893.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Crystal Palace

My latest feature for Discover Your Ancestors magazine tells the story of the Crystal Palace. The first Palace was the brainchild of Joseph Paxton, designed for the Great Exhibition of 1851, and was later re-erected at Sydenham. The Palace, with its wonderful gardens, sculptures, concerts and entertainments, was a great favourite with the public for many years. 
Then on the night of 30 November 1936, horrified onlookers watched as the Palace suffered a catastrophic fire, with flames reaching over 100ft high. The Palace's glory days were over.

Image: The Crystal Palace at Sydenham. Old and New London Vol. VI, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, c.1893.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Roman Catholic Ancestors

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.
My latest feature for Your Family History magazine (November issue) is on tracing Roman Catholic ancestors.

In 1534 Henry VIII severed the country’s links with Rome and the Pope, and the Anglican Church was born. Elizabeth I confirmed the Anglican Church’s status with the Act of Supremacy (1559), and the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer. 

 Although there were penalties for ‘recusancy’, Roman Catholics wished to be baptized and married according to the rites of their church. Lancashire families in particular clung on stubbornly to the ‘old religion’. So your Catholic ancestors may have been baptized, or married, once in an Anglican church, and again in a Catholic church in secret.
Things improved for Catholics following the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829.

Furness Abbey.
I’ll be exploring this subject further in Tracing Your Manchester and Salford Ancestors, which will be published by Pen and Sword in the spring of next year. In the meantime, the MLFHS website has a free list of RC churches in Manchester and Salford, with addresses and dates of their opening and closure, and name changes.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, consecrated in 1967. © Sue Wilkes.
Elizabeth I. Pictorial Record of Remarkable Events, (Frederick Warne & Co., 1896).
Chapter House, Furness Abbey. Engraved by R. Sands from a drawing by T. Allom. People’s Gallery of Engravings Vol.2 (Fisher, Son & Co., 1845).