Every life story is extraordinary.
Browse my family history blog …
A Tale of Five Camillas
Tracing the lives of the first five Camillas whose births were registered in Great Britain highlights class differences and women’s experiences in Victorian Britain.
William Gunton Saword: Part 2 — Butler of Greenwich Hospital
William Saword was the Butler of Greenwich Hospital for naval pensioners from 1772 to 1812. He faced two government enquiries into corruption, a devastating fire and the loss of two wives, and he experienced royal visits and the lying-in-state of Lord Nelson.
Field Punishment Number 1
At the outbreak of WW1, English seaman Richard Maultby was nearly 43 when he volunteered with the CEF. His service record reveals that he was disciplined twice with Field Punishment Number 1.
The Artist and the Pacifist — Two brothers’ WW1 stories
Brothers Sidney and Algy Saword were newly settled in Canada in 1914 when war was declared. One volunteered to fight, while the other refused to be a combatant. Both served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
William Gunton Saword: Part 1 — Clerk of the Royal Yacht Augusta
From 1764-1772, William Saword was the Clerk of the Royal Yacht Augusta, which conveyed the royal family of George III around Britain and to and from Europe.
Who Was Harriet Horlock? Part 3: Harriet’s Secret Is Revealed!
According to family lore a mysterious relation called Harriet had a royal lovechild, Violet, who became a silent movie star. In 2021, I received a startling message from someone who could finally reveal the true identity of Violet’s father …
A Sense of Duty: 1907 triple drowning in San Francisco Bay
This is a true California story of heroism, murder, and tragedy — with a Hollywood ending.
EXTRAORDINARY ACTION FOR SEDUCTION
When 19-year-old Hannah Maultby became an unmarried mother in 1866, her fiancé promised to marry her. But two years later, he had failed to keep his word, and Hannah’s mother Martha took him to court for Seduction.
The brother who never came home
Brothers Harold and Neville Underwood fought in WW1. One received a gallantry medal; the other was a POW. Only one of them came home.
Five reasons why ancestors used surnames as middle names
Why did our ancestors sometimes give their children surnames as middle names? Here are five reasons I’ve found in my family tree.
My strangest (and spookiest) heirloom
I don’t have any valuable heirlooms but I have a very unusual one: a set of psychic portraits that belonged to my great grand aunt Marjorie.
Polly Smith & ‘the Gosling’ (Servants & Employers Part 1)
My great grandmother Polly Smith worked as a domestic servant for Nicholas Gosselin aka ‘The Gosling’ — head of the Irish Special Branch.
Millicent Gifford & D’Arcy de Ferrars (Servants & Employers Part 2)
Millicent Gifford left a mining family in the Forest of Dean to work as a cook for a singer, composer and organiser of grand Elizabethan style pageants.
Deodatus Eaton: A Life of Scandal
Deodatus Eaton IV of Oxford (1819-1879) was an army surgeon, notorious bankrupt, scandalous divorcé, and Australian emigrant.
‘Peculiar’ & ‘Unnatural’ Crimes (Part 1)
‘Wilfully murdered by his mother’: In 1851 Fanny Talmer was accused of murdering her nine week old son Henry in Amersham workhouse.
‘Peculiar’ & ‘Unnatural’ Crimes (Part 2)
In 1867 Richard Talmer was charged with an ‘unnatural crime’ along with fellow workhouse inmate William Jennings.
Blazing Dresses (Part 1)
A look at the dangers that fire presented to 19th century women, such as my ancestor Anne Benwell, whose dress caught fire in 1818.
Blazing Dresses (Part 2)
In the 19th century, numerous women were injured and killed when their dresses caught fire, like my ancestor Eliza Maultby.
Alfred Munday: ‘an expert orchid grower’
Alfred Munday led Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s orchid collection for 36 years.
My Bucks Posse
The 1798 Buckinghamshire posse comitatus gave me a valuable window into my deep Bucks ancestry.
More blog posts to explore …
- A double murder attempt in Drayton
- The lightning rod of Esculapius Wood
- One wedding, one fake marriage and no funeral
- I’m a British Library reader, and you can be one too!
- Queen Alexandra and a progressive police orphanage
- Christmas cheer in the workhouse
- Wot no German DNA?
- Crowdfunding, Georgian style
- Geagle Badcock sniffs out a criminal
- Raised by an aunt and uncle; part 1: The mysterious locket
- Raised by an aunt and uncle; part 2: A transatlantic record
- A person unknown drowned in the Thames
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