Having studied History and now doing further studies in Genealogy, I am obviously fascinated by reading or watching anything historical. Having listened to Hilary Mantel’s three books in the Wolf Hall series, I gained a new fascination for Thomas Cromwell and with that the Tudor period. It was while scanning through YouTube looking for Tudor related material, I came across the Absolute History channel and thought I’d found historian heaven.
Talk about a feast for all the senses; I didn’t know where to start but as I had been looking for Tudor material, made the decision to go with the Tudor Monastery Farm and was enthralled from the first viewing moment. It was a six-part living history series filmed in 2013 where Historian Ruth Goodman and Archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold turned back the clock to the year 1500 and worked as lay-folk during the reign of the first Tudor King Henry VII. They lived and breathed Tudor life over the period of one year in a real-life account doing tasks such as sheep farming and harvesting to fashioning a printing press and building a Tudor clock. Other programs in the living history series include Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm which followed the same structure of living and breathing the historical period over a year. These three series also featured Ruth Goodman and Peter Ginn along with Archaeologist and Historian Alex Langlands.
Once I started watching all these wonderful series, I had to source the books for my collection and took to researching all the second-hand bookshops online. Sadly, a reasonably priced hard copy of the Tudor Monastery Farm book seemed to be as rare as Henry VIII producing a male heir, so I had to succumb to buying a Kindle copy. The others however I was able to source, along with a selection of other books on the Tudors, Victorians, and Edwardians. I look forward to them adorning the new space I have made on my bookshelf once they make the journey from the UK to Australia.
Although from 1801-1831 census data was collected every ten years from residents in the United Kingdom, it was of the statistical kind and it was not until 1841 that a more modern census was introduced where some personal information was asked for.
According to the Enumeration Abstract, England and Wales was divided into Enumeration Districts, the boundaries of which were strictly defined so that it should contain not more than 200, and not less than 25 inhabited houses. In that respect, an active man could travel over between morning and sunset on a summer’s day, and obtain from each person dwelling therein all the particulars required by the Act. Further, to the office of Enumerator, was appointed by the Registrars, one individual for each of these sub-divisions, selected from the neighbourhood, with reference to his particular fitness for the office. In consequence of the small size to which these districts were necessarily limited, no less than 35,000 such persons were required for England and Wales.
Although the information to be gained from the census would help the government in dealing with trends such as rising population and overcrowding, some people may have been suspicious and felt the government were unnecessarily snooping into their affairs and therefore were not honest in their answers. For those, especially the elderly, who had lived under the old poor law act whereby they thought they would be removed back to where they were born if they could not prove a right to settlement, may when asked on the 1841 census if they were born in the county, have said yes. Ten years later when asked for a specific place of birth they may have stated where they currently lived especially if their living conditions were better off than where they were born. Others listed themselves as widowed especially if they had been abandoned by a spouse for another woman, as was the case with an ancestor of mine, or indeed as married if they were living with someone even if they were not legally married.
The 1841 census only allowed people to list one occupation even if they had more than one. On the 1841 census my 4th great grandfather was listed simply as a Labourer however in the census of 1851 he was a Farmer of 33 acres and Labourer. This information appears to make a difference in how the family may have been perceived in socio economic terms. The other aspect of the 1841 census was that no relationships were added so assumptions could be made by family historians that Joe and Mary Bloggs were married but they were actually brother and sister. Unless later documentation is available to prove otherwise these types of assumptions can lead to further errors in family trees. There can also be some ambiguity in information that was listed for relationship in the later censuses where terms were mixed up or plain incorrect. I have one instance where the sister of my 2nd great grandmother was living with her and my 2nd great grandfather but instead of sister or sister-in-law she is listed as servant. It was only through searching other records that the servant was discovered to be the sister who was 13 years younger.
The 1841 census occurred in Summer on Sunday 6 June and was a harvest night therefore there were potentially many people involved in agricultural work that were missing from the census including farming servants and labourers in husbandry. A count of seaman working offshore was given but no individual details and members of the armed forces outside of the UK were also not included. This in effect means that for many family historians details of people as close as 2nd or 3rd great grandparents are not going to be found in census records which in some cases means any further research in a family line may be halted.
With the first new census householders were meant to receive written instructions on how to complete the form. This in itself would not be helpful if the householders were illiterate and apparently in practice not many guidelines were given to households. For those that required help either through being confused regarding aspects such as whether lodgers, servants and boarders should be included or where they were illiterate, when the enumerator returned to collect the form they would help to fill it in. This did not mean that all information written down by the enumerator was correct either as householders may have been unsure on how old they really were or the enumerator may have rounded up or down the age for anyone over 15, they may have used derivatives of names, nicknames or middle names and surnames may have been written phonetically if an unusual name. My surname Haigh could have been miswritten by an enumerator as Haig, Hague or Hay for example. I have an ancestor named Henry who was listed on the census as Hal, a great grandparent who was called John Thomas and his wife Mary Jane yet he was listed as Thomas John and she correct as Mary Jane. My 2nd great grandparent, Mary Jane Sharp was aged 2 in the 1851 census, 28 in 1881, 39 in 1891, 44 in 1901, 57 in 1911 and died in 1922 aged 73. In the later censuses Mary Jane was therefore +11 years, +5 years, +13 years. The various census records also had her name as Mary Jane, Jane and Mary Ann.
In the 1841 census the Y or N question for whether born in the district could also be incorrect if people were living close to a border or the handwriting of the enumerator could be interpreted incorrectly as the Y and N look similar. For the 1851 census where place of birth was asked for sometimes a main place might have been listed such as Yorkshire as opposed to drilling down to Wakefield or just a house or farm name was given. There have been instances where place names that don’t even exist have been written on early census records as the birth place of an ancestor and it is only through establishing families in later censuses that a potentially true birth place be established. If an enumerator from London was sent to a district like Newcastle or Liverpool where residents had very broad accents this could account for misinterpretation of names and place names. Unfamiliarity of districts could also account for whole streets being missed by the enumerator.
The census images that are available to view were written by enumerators into books therefore are transcripts of the original household census forms collected and consequently also provide opportunity for errors to be created particularly if deciphering handwriting by those barely literate. The accuracy of the answers to questions could also be queried depending on the householders level of literacy. Unfortunately the 1841 census was also recorded in pencil and thus parts of it have faded however through digital technology this has been somewhat abated with the ability to zoom into scanned documents.
Not all of the 1841 census records have survived and some of the 1851 records are also missing. The records of 14 parishes in Fife, Scotland were lost when the ferryboat carrying them sank enroute to Edinburgh. A handful of original 1841 census returns in London have also lost. Websites such as Ancestry and Find My Past have long lists of missing parishes from the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Surrey, Wiltshire and Yorkshire.
It would be very rare for census records to ever be fully complete or accurate particularly with the 1841 census being something completely new for the people of England and Wales. The fact that this census was taken in Summer meant that there is no inkling as to how many people were actually missing due to employment or those who had no fixed address for example but it was something the Government were concerned with. A significant change for the 1851 and future censuses was to bring the census date forward to Spring with the 1851 census taking place on Sunday 30 March. The other consideration regarding accuracy is that not only were errors potentially made initially by enumerators but modern transcribers do not always get the information correct either. I recall searching for an ancestor that has been eluding me for years and thought I’d struck gold when I found a transcription for the exact unusual name I had put in only to open the document and find the transcriber had used two peoples names within the document that formed the exact name I was looking for. It is always worth checking transcriptions from various websites but also the original document in order to gain some sort of clarity surrounding records. Finally never take for granted information that other people may have placed in their trees from census records without verifying it actually belongs to your ancestor or is indeed transcribed correctly, it is not only people in the past that can misinterpret information.
In this high tech age we are used to multitasking especially since smart phones came into our lives. I have had a smart phone since 2012 and I wonder how I coped without it and my Tablet before and yet it has also meant I am a little more prone to multitasking especially when watching tv. Instead of fully engaging with the screen a little voice says ooh check your social media or I wonder if Amazon has such and such in stock. Although in saying that I do have lots of down time from my devices but just this small example shows that even watching tv has become less of a mindful experience and more in a series of things that we can do at the same time such as conversing with people, shopping, checking Instagram etc. But this type of multitasking is not what I want to write about, I wish to discuss multitasking in our work lives.
In a previous blog I had written about living in or out of alignment with your true values and how having given up my role in Local Government I was finally living in alignment with my values and had started back on my paths of coaching and genealogy. I was then approached to do my role once more for a few weeks which turned into five months but is about to finish up at the end of October. I took on the role for 25 hours a week so that I still had time in my life to pursue my other activities and as I had already decided that I would have a portfolio career of different streams, it seemed it would all work out. What I didn’t take into consideration was that also during this period I would relocate and have to organise a move into an apartment that I did not physically see until I arrived with all my belongings, due to being in the world’s longest city in lockdown, Melbourne. So between the stressors of meeting Local Government legislative deadlines and packing up and organising a move, it left little brain space for my own businesses. I kept up one session a week coaching with my own life coach to ensure I was somewhat engaged in that role and when I could I did small amounts of genealogical research for people but predominantly I struggled to engage to multitask in three different streams of work.
Within my Local Government role I was at times multitasking between important documents and in business that seems to be the norm but equally from a mindfulness perspective, juggling numerous tasks at once can mean none are getting the proper attention they deserve and mistakes can occur if swapping and changing too often. There is an inordinate amount of pressure put on people to achieve many results within a timeframe and this means work/life balance becomes work/work instead of what it should be, life/work balance. I truly enjoyed working remotely with my former colleagues and the work I produced was interesting and I’m proud of my achievements but it is time once more to re find my zen and my true paths.
My life coach stated last week that if we steer from our path we are not starting again from scratch we are coming from a point in the middle. She must have read my mind as I was feeling I had steered so far from my path that I was back at zero but then I reminded myself that I am never at zero as I have 18 years of experience in genealogy, I trained as a life coach 13 years ago and have been using various other therapies for just as long. I might have veered off my path for a while but soon I will start to steer myself back on track. Working within my two different fields might take some doing and it may be at times that I am more invested in one field than the other but having different options means I can keep refreshed in my work. It is like writing blogs. Some days I have an idea for a coaching blog like today and other days the call for genealogy or history is strong. Working for yourself gives you flexibility to essentially being able to embrace what you feel like doing on any given day.
Doing the work to find what I truly valued meant I discovered multitasking wasn’t something I wished to keep as a constant in my life. Although I wish to have different businesses, I would not work on them both on the same day. To separate them is to work mindfully. This means I can nurture them both by giving each the time and love they deserve.
The beauty of genealogical research is not just adding names to a tree but considering the social history of the people being added and formulating a picture of what life might have been like for them. Before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 whereby “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth…without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion…”. It wasn’t always easy for our ancestors to live life as their true authentic selves without fear of ridicule or imprisonment for example, but some more spirited people took what life had given them and used that as a way to make a decent living.
It was while looking through one of the genealogical Facebook groups I belong to, Who Do You Think You Are Magazine, that I came across a request for help from a member in regard to her potential Great Aunt, Maud Temple – Britain’s bearded beauty! I was immediately intrigued.
Maud Eliza Cobb was born 1877 in Southwark, London, to parents Annie and Noel Cobb. In historical records Noel was listed as an actor and Annie as a singer and sometime in the early 1890s they adopted the stage name Temple. This photo of Maud Temple was for a promotion at Pickard’s Museum and Waxworks in Glasgow. Albert Ernest Pickard was a showman, publicist and eccentric who became a millionaire and philanthropist and on purchasing Fell’s American Museum and Waxworks, he introduced cine-variety, with four shows a day comprising of waxworks, side shows, a zoo and freak shows.
Maud Temple, a bearded woman at Pickard’s Waxwork exhibition, Glasgow. Process print, ca. 1910.
Description: Maud Temple displaying a beard with styled hair and wearing a robe. She was a popular ‘bearded lady’ who made appearances in England and Australia.[i]
This rather lovely display advertising Maud as being ‘Alive’ from Pickard’s Museum, Glasgow is a far cry from a newspaper advertisement stating: Miss Maud Temple, genuine Bearded Lady, most attractive Freak, seeks re-engagement. I found two further articles on Trove promoting Maud appearing in Australia in 1911 but sadly that is the extent of information surrounding her life
But Maud was not the only celebrity within the family. Her Father’s brother was Richard Barker Cobb Temple who was an English opera singer, actor and stage director, best known for his performances in the bass-baritone roles in the famous series of Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas.
Equally as famous is the woman who is believed to be Maud’s sister, Alice Coleman, aka Alice Stevens/Temple/Cobb, born c1874, the first female pavement artist. A book written by Philip Battle on Alice Coleman shows just what a force she was and how she forged an amazing career at a time when social change for women was in its infancy.
“At the end of the 19th century Alice endured inclement weather, overzealous policing, sexism, physical threats and marriage proposals to support her family by illustrating the streets of London.
As her work captured the public imagination, she became something of a celebrity – not just in London, but around the world. Her work covered the politics of the time, satire and popular culture, and influenced the burgeoning suffragette movement. Bold, distinctive and romantic, Alice was part of a ’screever’ movement that led to the street art we see today; an instinctive, accessible cultural movement that has shifted from subversive to celebrated, and become an accepted part of the established art world”.[i]
We know what became of Alice Coleman and of Richard Cobb as their lives are documented but what became of Britain’s Bearded Beauty Maud Temple? There was some talk in a news article of Maud going to America to work but so far no records have been discovered. Did she move there, get married and live a life of anonymity instead? Hopefully one day Maud’s story post 1911 will be discovered.
Self-care is something that I have always invested in and yet at times it is something that can become a distant memory when faced with all that life throws at us. What is enlightening though is that through the pandemic I have seen more resources, whether it be for online courses, wellbeing articles or workshops via an online platform to help people discover a little more self-care.
Alongside my various business ventures, I am currently working in my previous role in Local Government and yesterday received an email inviting staff to attend a choice of online webinars promoting ‘Coronacare’. Each session runs for one hour and staff have been given the option of attending two sessions within work hours. A sample of the sessions include Mindfulness, Healthy Brain Healthy Body, Sleep and our Health plus Working from home effectively, Maintaining motivation and Parenting whilst working from home. This type of initiative is fantastic in numerous ways. It allows people who under normal circumstances wouldn’t seek out or know where to seek out help, it offers information from professionals on a variety of topics, it offers a break from the work day and it shows the staff they are supported in self-care.
I have numerous self-care practices, some of which I try to do daily, others weekly and some when I feel the need for more me time to clear my brain of clutter. Every morning I start the day with Reflexology on my feet. Although a full treatment can take up to an hour, even working on particular pressure points, such as those that correspond to the neck, shoulders, back, brain or sinuses for five minutes with some oil, can help to get the day started in a positive way.
Also daily (work and weather permitting), I walk for 20 minutes around the beautiful pathways of the garden where I currently live whilst listening to something uplifting from audible or a coaching podcast. On Tuesdays being my day off I have a particularly favourite podcast I listen to from the British Life Coach, Selina Barker. Selina’s style is fantastic, she’s down to earth and is real in her approach. It’s not all sunshine and flowers in the world not only right now but generally, so it’s been refreshing to listen to Selina weekly since I discovered her podcast in November 2020. Each podcast is between 10 and 20 minutes so doesn’t take a heap of time and might give you something inspiring to consider. https://www.selinabarker.com/themondaycrew.
When I really need some focused self-care I turn to EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which is an emotional healing process that involves tapping with the fingertips on acupoints that stimulate the energy meridian system, and release unwanted negative emotions as well as physical pain and discomfort. According to foundational EFT theory, “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.” When you focus your thoughts on an emotional issue while tapping on the acupoints, you calm your body’s energy meridian system. As a result, the impact of the negative emotional issue tends to lessen – or disappear completely.
EFT was developed by Gary Craig in the 1990s based on his study of work done by Roger Callahan in Thought Field Therapy (TFT), being one of the first methods in what is now called Energy Psychology. In turn Gary Craig trained only 29 EFT Founding Masters worldwide and I was privileged to be trained in London as an EFT Practitioner in 2008 by one of those Founding Masters so have been using it for over 13 years.
Also recognise, your self-care doesn’t have to be therapeutic in nature, it may involve playing sport, reading, having a massage, talking to friends or family, going to the theatre or a film, indulging in afternoon tea or a museum, anything that gives you time away from everyday pressures to be in the moment, be kind to yourself and wind down.
Sometimes in life we are ticking along nicely then out of the blue something new is thrown into the mix and even though we thought we already had quite a full life, we have to make adjustments to make room for the new. I had left my corporate life behind at the start of 2020 to concentrate on my many other pursuits namely coaching, therapy and genealogy and was currently in the midst of pulling together a program for group coaching when I received a call asking if I could possibly fit in time to go back to Local Government to work on some legislative projects. As it was not something completely new I felt I could manage it but that little voice inside said, “but how are you going to work on your own business as well as working close to fulltime”? Not to mention during the first two weeks I had fasting blood tests and my second Covid vaccination booked, I celebrated my birthday, had my own group coaching sessions to attend, write some final exam papers for two of the therapy courses I was doing and that was without taking into account everyday life. In such a short time, I had neglected to finish writing my webinar, do my own coaching sessions, do any posting in my private Facebook group ’It’s never too late to…’ https://www.facebook.com/groups/823389491900991, my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lindyhaighlifecoach and my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lindyhaigh/ not to mention speaking in my cat’s voice to manage all her feline friends https://www.instagram.com/minxyhaigh_cat/ lol. I realised very quickly that I was moving out of alignment with my values and that I had to stop and take stock of what was important to me personally and factor in how to do the things that make my soul sing whilst still taking on outside projects.
I’ve made it a habit to walk at least 20 minutes a day with a podcast, it refreshes my mind and releases tension from sitting at a desk and it was during one of these walks that I realised I just needed to let go and go with the flow. I was not to put any pressure on myself to fit everything in at once and just do what felt right in the time I had. In taking that approach I looked at my To Do app and removed all allocated dates on tasks and just added one or two things for the week that work towards my own personal goals. On Monday after working a full day, I sat for a further two hours and finished answering exam questions for a Diploma in Professional Relaxation Therapy and emailed it off. Another course completed! I then took some time to look at some amazing photos that a friend (https://www.instagram.com/drereek/) had given me access to months ago via some online albums and it was so lovely to be able to flick through and see the amazing scenes of not only human life, but animals and plant life that were captured in places such as Nepal, Canada, New Zealand, Patagonia and Japan. I finished the evening with a Sherlock Holmes mystery via Audible and in all felt a sense of achievement at doing a combination of work and things that nourish me. The lesson is, never put pressure on yourself to get everything done at once. The world is not going to end because you didn’t do everything on your list and it is better to just go with your gut on what you wish to do and when, and in the end you will chip away and feel a sense of satisfaction.
Have you ever wondered what living a life in alignment with your values actually means? To break it down, values are the guiding principles that influence how you live and how you behave. Values are inherent in everybody, though not everybody shares the same values.
For some periods of my life, I was the perfect example of not living in alignment with my values but I had no idea I wasn’t doing so and yet I am qualified as a Life Coach, a Health and Wellbeing Coach, an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner and in various other therapies, many of which use values as part of their core teachings. In my defence, our core values do not always stay the same and although some values will remain with us, others can change as we age or life circumstances alter. For each part of my journey I am sharing, I am listing the outcome values from the small sample list here, where I felt I was aligned and unaligned.
From the age of 18 I had a passion to travel to London and Europe. I would listen to British music, cut weather reports out and stick them in my diary (yes really…), devour travel brochures and made a book of the perfect itinerary of tours that would take me everywhere. This was the age before the internet was in every home, so it was a very early version of Pinterest or scrapbooking. It took me another 11 years to realise my dream but at age 29, I resigned from my well-paying job in Australia and took off for three months to the UK and Europe on my own. Although I had always thought of myself as quite shy, my values of adventure and a commitment to my goal of seeing London, were ones I held dear and that first trip set me up for a lifetime of exploring new opportunities. I came back to Australia, took another high paying job but underneath I had struggles with the work I was doing, the people in the team, loneliness in my life, lack of excitement etc. Two years later I went to Europe again and then five months after that I flew to London for just one week. Being a dual citizen of the UK and Australia I had the luxury of choice and at that point my heart had decided that even though I would be leaving my immediate family, London was the place for me, so I sold off my belongings and at age 32 started again in London. One of my first..’it’s never too late…’ moments.
Unaligned Values: Immediate Family (not on this list but only thing out of alignment)
Fast forward five years and I am in a wonderful relationship, live in a terrace house owned by my partner, European travel, lots of culture and have been working in London as a Mentoring Co-ordinator for two years within a Pupil Referral Unit (a school for pupils expelled from mainstream education). My role was to recruit, train, coach and manage volunteers from within the community to work either 1-1 or within groups with the students. My role further expanded to working with some of the more vulnerable children teaching them therapeutic tools to encourage life skills and self-esteem as well as coaching parents in a Positive Parenting scheme. It was whilst working within this role that in 2004, I started my journey in therapy and coaching that I have continued to this day. I also started a Degree in English Literature and found a passion for Genealogy.
In 2010 I had returned to Melbourne (relationship over and a very sick Mum) and having applied for over 100 jobs I found myself in a job that didn’t align well but with rent to pay it was needs must. With the job market the way it was I restarted my Degree and at age 44 was once more a fulltime student, living off a student allowance. My sister had been running a country pub and had met a new man and on checking out the location where her partner had been born, I decided to move there and they both eventually followed. My Degree major was in Professional Writing and Publishing with minors in Internet Communications and Visual Arts. This suited my love of writing, researching, arts and creativity. When my Degree was almost completed I applied for a role that was very much suited to my qualifications and for a few years I was happy. The role had some creative elements and for the most part had great autonomy and only working three days a week I had a great work life balance. I met a new partner who I was with for a few years, purchased two properties, and in my spare time, renovated my properties, travelled back to the UK three times, continued my Genealogy, studied more therapy and did a Masters in Scottish Heritage. It was also during this time I had a heart attack, fractured my spine, went through menopause and had a mini breakdown and took stress leave. I was seriously living out of alignment with my values and I was swinging all over the place. Even though I was only working part time and the role was not over taxing, I would get home and be utterly exhausted. On days off if I was doing therapy work, genealogy or renovating, I had all the energy in the world. I knew it was something to do with my job but I could not work out the issues even though I used all my therapeutic tools. It is only now that I can recognise although I was living true to my values of learning and achieving, the rest of my life was completely unbalanced.
I left my job and relocated back to Melbourne at the start of 2020 just as the global pandemic hit and Melbourne went into lockdown. I finished my Master’s Degree then started further postgraduate studies in Genealogy. I was still feeling out of alignment and thought the solution was to move back to the UK to pursue more meaningful work. I was granted exemption to leave the country by the Australian Home Office but held off due to the enormity of the crisis overseas. During this time of change in our world I finally took the time to really look and listen to myself and for the first time have truly heard myself. I worked on thought patterns, on my health and fitness, have so far lost 7 out of 8kgs put on after injury and menopause and have created businesses doing all the things I love. One of my beliefs (thoughts) was you had to do one job or one form of study but my love of change and diversity meant my occupation was always out of alignment. I have a genealogy website which covers my values regarding research, learning, helping people, knowledge, kindness etc, a Coaching business I am working to expand which is giving me alignment in most of the values I find important and a blog on genealogical and coaching which keeps me writing and enjoying that creativity.
At this time I am very much living in alignment with my values and wish to help others live in alignment with theirs so am sharing my path as an example of how values can change or you can become unaligned. This may give you an ‘aha!’ moment to explore yours either on your own or by seeking a Life Coach like myself to work with.
I have created a Private Facebook group for women who want something more but mindset prevents change. Time to embrace “it’s never too late to…” and explore life’s possibilities. Please request membership at the following link. https://www.facebook.com/groups/823389491900991
It is not until an ancestor cannot be found in the online indexes of the census records that it starts to raise questions as to why this might be the case. According to Dave Annal in a podcast recorded for the National Archives in 2008, “if your ancestors were living in England and Wales at the time of the Census they were almost certainly recorded and you should be able to find them; the odds are firmly stacked in your favour.” This statement from a Genealogist with 40 years’ experience gives hope that those elusive ancestors may just be hiding in the indexes behind an incorrect name or birthplace but knowing how to look takes practice and stepping outside what you think you know to try new ways of searching.
An example of where it can easy to come unstuck is if a search is being done with too much information and not always because it has been entered by the searcher. If I had my 2nd Great Grandmother’s profile page open on Ancestry and I clicked ‘search’ it would populate the search area with every single item listed in her profile giving 186,727 potential records in the indexes if the search areas were left broad. If the items were moved to exact, the result would be no items at all listed in the index. Databases on websites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast, can get confused if too much information is being asked to search for. As humans we like to have as much information as possible to search for something however a database takes information too literal and attempts to find every single word, therefore a less is more approach is required in order to start to see results.
The indexes created for the various censuses have also gone through quite a journey before being put on microfilm and now in electronic version. The original householder schedules may have been written by the householder or an enumerator but incorrect information may have been entered. The enumerator then transcribed that information into the Census books and they may have made further errors, the census records have then been transcribed and during that process handwriting or damaged records may mean the indexes now have a completely different name or place listed. Different websites also have different transcribers so a name may not be found on one but perhaps on another. This was not something I was initially aware of even though I have been involved in researching family history for twenty years. Due to the cost of ancestry websites not everybody has the luxury though of subscriptions to more than one yet it is worth viewing the free indexes of various websites as they each also hold different records. Having exhausted Ancestry.co.uk for many years looking for one of my 2nd great grandfathers I put a search string into Google and it led me to the indexes on FindMyPast and eventually to my relative.
One way of overcoming the various transcribing errors can be to do a wild card search in the indexes using either a ? for a single letter or an * for any amount of letters or both combinations. Ancestry also allows for an * to be placed at the start or end which can be helpful if the first letter of a name may be incorrect or a last name potentially ends in and e for example as in Sharp(e). A wild card search in the 1851 census for my 2nd great grandmother Mary Jane Sharp using Mary * Sharp* and her birthplace of Hull produced the following results both of which are the same person and yet details on both indexes are incorrect. The first one I would have discounted as I knew that there was no sibling that had a name anything like Niel so the one listing the name Sarah Tharp with a sibling Grace was more promising. Some of the names listed on the household were correct however there were four other names that I didn’t know. On opening the record HO107/2363/97/40 it took me to a different district and record HO107/2363/69/41 with no sign of the Sharp/Tharp family.
The second index also listed as record HO107/2363/97/40, at first glance was a little odd and on viewing the individual names it became even stranger. Sarah Sharp is 28 and is listed as the mother of Niel O Donnel aged 25 and Mary O Donnel aged 23 is listed as the daughter-in-law of Sarah. Upon opening the actual record neither of the O Donnel’s appear on the schedule.
The other inconsistency with this record in the 1851 census is the age of Naomi Sharp who is listed as 11 (birth year 1840) yet I have her birth record in 1846 so she should be have listed as 4 or 5, therefore had I searched for her and used a birth year of 1846 + or – 2 years she would not have been picked up in the 1851 census in the index. The 1841 census would have been full of inconsistencies in ages with the enumerators having been asked to round down the ages of anybody over 15. Some wrote the correct age however others rounded up or down so it is always worth looking for records in the 1841 census with no birth year or choosing a date in between and using + or – 5 years.
For the above record I knew that the family were in the census as Hull therefore using it in the search facility was fine but the indexes do not always list what is expected. It may have been that the county only was used such as Yorkshire, so if Wakefield or Hull are placed in the search criteria it may not find a record. Some counties have the same place names and therefore errors or assumptions may have made on initial transcription or index transcription. Examples are Stamford Bridge, London and Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire, St. Ives, Cornwall and St. Ives, Cambridge or Gillingham, Kent and Gillingham, Dorset. On census night an ancestor may also not have been at their usual place of residence so it is worth searching neighbouring areas or counties or in the case of one of my 2nd great grandfathers using the word ‘Vessels’ in the index search which brings up anybody involved in the fishing/trawling industry who may have been out at sea on census night.
When the indexes were created some of the older records may have been misinterpreted that led to incorrect spelling. In some handwriting styles, the letter L resembles an S therefore the name Little might have become Sittle or a T and an F were mixed up so Tait became Fait. Quite a few letters of the alphabet have similar shapes so it is not impossible if ancestors had names starting with letters such as I or J or P and R, that they may have been misspelt. Once again the wildcard use of the * at the start of the name may produce a result. Although there is the option of searching the indexes for names using, sounds like, soundex or similar, the other option to consider is using spelling variations. An ancestor named Daniel may have been indexed as David or Edward as Edmund. The surname an ancestor is indexed under may not be as expected so it is also worth trying a first name, birth year and place of birth to see if a surname appears that in some way as meaning. It is also worth using just a surname and place as that may show up potential relatives in the index.
Street indexes can be another useful tool for finding elusive ancestors who are not forthcoming in the name indexes. On older birth certificates children may have been born at home therefore the street address listed could be searched in the address index and the names searched through for any relatives. My 2nd Great Grandfather Samuel Haigh who is stubbornly refusing to reveal himself was supposedly born in Wakefield, Yorkshire c.1848 and on the birth certificate for his first son it listed born in Providence St, Wakefield. This has been the only clue to family whereabouts in Wakefield however after trying a street address search on FindMyPast and reading through every resident in the 1861 and 1871 censuses who lived on Providence St (he was already in Hull in 1871) and searched the Ancestry indexes using both the street index and a wildcard search for Haigh using *aig* I am still no closer.
Regardless of how careful people think they are when creating indexes nobody is perfect therefore the indexes will never be perfect yet it is not necessarily the fault of the indexer. As shown, it may have been a fault in one of the many transcriptions before electronic indexing, therefore to overcome indexing issues keep search strings simple.
With the passing of HRH Prince Philip, a witty character who loved his naval career, it seemed fitting to write about three generations of Haigh ancestors who also shared a passion for the sea.
My 2nd great grandfather, Samuel Haigh was born c.1848 in Wakefield, Yorkshire and although records reflect he had various jobs such as Gardener and Butcher, once he relocated to Hull c.1870 where his wife Mary Jane was born, his life at sea seem predestined. For the first part of Samuel’s career he was listed as a Marine Fireman, followed by 1st Engineer, Chief Engineer and Trawler Engineer. In this age we know that working as an Engineer would only come after a four year Bachelor’s Degree but this was far from the case in nineteenth century Britain.
During the early years of steam engines on vessels, Engineers, Firemen and Trimmers, were hired from wherever the ship owner could find them and unlike today, there was no system for evaluating the appropriateness of those hired for the various positions. Being a fireman on a vessel was an arduous job involving judgement, physical vigour and agility. Each fireman supervised several fires at once, working four hours on and eight hours off. They needed to judge the state of the fire from its colour in order to anticipate the fall in boiler pressure and throw on the right amount of fresh coal which involved judgment and dexterity. Finally, they had to remove and dispose of the ash and embers using shovels and buckets, hoisting them above deck and throwing them overboard.
An interview with a former Donkey Man, thus named as they were responsible for the Donkey engine, gave an account of what the role of a fireman would be:
The firemen stuck close to their work position at the boilers, moving in turn between the usual three or four furnaces in their charge. The routine for firemen, as for trimmers, probably varied somewhat from ship to ship, but might have been as follows:
‘When you relieve the watch you’re on what they call a “burn down.” You’ve got two fires already banked up for you and another on a “burn down,” that means it’s ready to be cleaned. The first thing you do is clean your fire. When you clean your fire you get your clinkers out. You’ve got a long bar and you’re pricking between the bars in the fire and then you rake it all out. You put the clinker in a pile on one side and the good stuff in a pile on the other. Then you fill up the fire with some good stuff, some of it perhaps from another fire as well and then fill it up with good hot stuff. When you go off watch you leave things in the same way for the fellow coming down’.
As years went by and Samuel moved into the roles such as 1st Engineer and Chief Engineer he would have had responsibilities such as tending the machinery to ensure it was operating satisfactorily, undertaking repairs, starting, stopping and reversing the engines when arriving or leaving port, and supervising the firing of boilers. A Chief or 1st Engineer would also be responsible for reporting to the owners on the state of the machinery under his control, ensuring they had sufficient coal for a passage, as well as the hiring and dismissing of other personnel.
Samuel’s son, my great grandfather Alfred Fenwick Haigh was born on the 8 December 1882 in Scarborough, Yorkshire. The family were residing in Hull but appeared to be visiting Scarborough at the time of his birth. Alfred started his career as a Fisherman in Hull and it was a prosperous time in the history of fishing to do so with the rapid rise of the industry in places like Hull and Grimsby. This development of trawler fishing was prolific in the late 19th century encouraged by the expansion of shipbuilding and the construction of bigger and more powerful trawlers that could travel longer distances than before. By the 1890s trawlers began to fish in Icelandic seas and by the early 1900s the Arctic seas were being examined for fishing, and Hull’s distant water fleet was established.
On 17 Jul 1900, at age 18, Alfred joined the East Yorkshire Regiment of the British Army. Unfortunately it seems Army life wasn’t for this particular Fisherman and he deserted just 75 days later on 1 October 1900 and went back to life on the seas. In 1914 he enrolled in the Royal Navy, a much better fit, and did his part for the war effort and for his service was awarded the Star Medal, the Victory Medal and British War Medal. Whilst on active service, Alfred sadly lost two family families. In March 1916, his first daughter Florence, aged 8, died of an abscess on her neck and Pneumonia and in August 1917 he lost his wife also named Florence, who was just 37. After the war he relocated from Hull to Fleetwood in Lancashire, where he had siblings, and met and married his second wife Alice and started another family all whilst maintaining a career as a Trawler Fisherman.
My grandfather Alfred Fenwick Haigh was born in Hull on the 13 January 1910 but with the death of his mother at age 7 and the families subsequent move to Fleetwood, Alfred gained a stepmother at age 16, a half-brother at 23 and a wife at 27. Alfred followed his father into a life at sea and was a Skipper of trawling vessels before becoming a Naval Officer having joined the Royal Navy on 18 May 1939. My grandfather served on several ships and bases during WWII including as First Lieutenant on HMS Southern Spray, an anti-submarine warfare whaler and was Commanding Officer of HM HDML 1013, a harbour defence motor launch. He served with distinction and was awarded several medals including one for service at Narvik in Norway.
After the war, Alfred returned to sea trawler fishing as a Skipper but there was tension starting to be felt in the fishing industry. The Icelandic fisheries grew in importance for the British fishing industry around the end of the 19th century and while data is incomplete for the pre-war period, one historian argues that the Icelandic fishing grounds were very important to the British fishing industry as a whole. Data from 1919 to 1938 showed a significant increase in the British total catches in Icelandic waters which were more than twice the combined catches of all other grounds of the British distant water fleet. This in turn meant Icelanders grew increasingly dismayed at the British presence. Alfred could see the writing on the wall that ultimately led to disputes between the United Kingdom and Iceland over fishery limits and saw no future for him and his three sons in the United Kingdom, so in 1949 the family emigrated to Australia.
It was no surprise that my father, also an Alfred Fenwick, had a great love of the sea and joined the Navy for a short time as an Apprentice Shipwright. Unfortunately after 18 months he decided Navy life was not for him but he retained his love of the sea during his life.
Reflecting on my ancestors I wonder if this pull that I have to the sea is one that I have genetically inherited from the Haigh side of the family. I did grow up by the coast in Melbourne and even when I moved to the UK and was very much a Londoner, I purchased a flat on the Kent Coast in Margate. Having a place by the sea gave me the opportunity to wander along Margate’s long promenade, feel the embrace of the wind and smell that enticing scent of sand and sea that my ancestors clearly loved so much. I’m proud of that inheritence.
‘Do not romanticise poverty…There is no joy in dirt and squalor. Nor in having to slave from dawn to dusk merely to survive. Take a close look at the fishwives who are your age. They are bowed in body, their eyes hard from fighting to survive and they look so old.’ This brief excerpt from a novel is unusual in that it depicts fishwives more as they really were as opposed to the romantic sometimes glamourised versions that have been representative of both fishwives and herring girls. Considering the stigmatisation fisherfolk were subjected to in relation to social status, outsiders became fascinated by the fisherfolk which resulted in them being represented through the arts of literature, poetry, painting and photography. This fascination may in part have been due firstly to a visit by King George the Fourth to Edinburgh, followed by Queen Victoria, both of whom were charmed by the fishwives. ‘Of late our fishwives have been considering themselves of some importance. When the Queen came first to Edinburgh, she happened to take notice of them, and every printshop window is now stuck full of pictures of Newhaven fishwives in their quaint costume of short petticoats of flaming red and yellow colours.’ Whilst some artists or writers may have portrayed fisherfolk in a realistic fashion, others have romanticised or glamourised their lives, particularly the fishwives and herring girls. What is interesting to consider is why fisher women were romanticised and glamourised when the work they were doing was not in any way desirable, but also did these representations help in any way to raise the social status of fisherfolk?
Even though, like crofters, fisherfolk contributed valuable food sources to the market, they were deemed to be of lower status than other working class people. According to Hall, ‘correspondents who sold fish in the 1930s told of people whom they met on public transportation, while carrying their creels, looking askance at them [fishwives] and moving away to another part of the bus or train.’ That kind of reaction supports the notion that fisherfolk were unfairly, by some, relegated to pariah groups such as mass murderers and gypsies. Even though fisherfolk had this low status, the fishermen were hardworking and scrupulously honest. The women however, were described as loud and unfeminine and yet there was a market for capturing the fishwives in painting and photographs albeit quite often in a romanticised way that was far from reality.
The life of a fishwife was hard, dirty and laborious and yet from the new art form of photography came a social history of Newhaven fishwives by Hill and Adamson that gave viewers a different perspective. David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson formed the first photographic studio in Scotland in July 1843 and produced a remarkable body of work that included portraits, landscapes and social documentary, with their photographs of Newhaven being some of their most enduring images.
The Letter was one of approximately 120 calotypes taken by Hill and Adamson in Newhaven and depicts two fishwives intently looking at a letter with the third fishwife close by listening to what is being read out. We know by their names, Marion Finlay, Mrs. Margaret (Dryburgh) Lyall and Mrs. Grace (Finlay) Ramsay that two of them may be related, therefore perhaps it is news about a loved one.
Photographs are very much open to interpretation and this one provokes questions such as, is the letter good or bad news, are the fishwives actually literate or is the photograph staged so that they appear literate, perhaps to increase their social status? The three fishwives all look extremely clean, tidy and respectable, quite demure even, which is a contrast to the terms of loud and unfeminine that fishwives were tarnished with.
The German Jewish philosopher, cultural critic and essayist, Walter Benjamin gave his thoughts on photography in relation to painting and chose to do so through the analysis of Hill and Adamson’s Newhaven Fishwife, Mrs. Elizabeth (Johnstone) Hall.
After two or three generations this interest [in paintings] fades; the pictures, if they last, do so only as a testimony to the art of the painter. With photography, however, we encounter something new and strange: in Hill’s Newhaven fishwife, her eyes cast down in such indolent, seductive modesty, there remains something that goes beyond testimony to the photographer’s art, something that cannot be silenced, that fills you with an unruly desire to know what her name was, the woman who was alive there, who even now is still real and will never consent to be wholly absorbed in “art”.
Hill and Adamson potentially did something more for the fisher communities than just demonstrate their daily lives. Although their photographs highlighted social class distinction, they may also have helped to raise the social status of fisherfolk in some respect. ‘Rather than just use generic titles, such as “fisherwoman,” Adamson titled some of the Newhaven images by the specific person’s name, such as Mrs. Barbara (Johnstone) Flucker, Opening Oysters or Willie Liston Redding the Line. One image in particular, titled The Beauty of New Haven, could have been a socialite portrait taken in his studio, but for the dress the “Beauty” wore.’ By naming the subjects in the images, it advanced their social standing. They were not just a nameless fisher person, they were someone of note, someone who was deserving of being photographed much like the prosperous town people.
Paintings were another medium where fishwives were portrayed in a more romantic light, as seen in Edward Charles Barnes’ The Fishwife. This painting depicts a striking woman, beautifully dressed, wistfully looking in the distance whilst carrying a small platter of fish. This woman appears to know nothing of hardship, she does not look like she has walked for miles with a creel on her back carrying over one hundred pounds of fish. This fishwife has grace, she would never be judged as uncouth or relegated to a pariah group. This painting, however beautiful, is not only unrealistic but has glamourised the role of the fishwife.
Herring Girls captured through Literature and Photography
The herring girls have been commemorated through song, poems, plays, art, statues and novels and while many have honoured them in a realistic way others have immortalised them in a romanticised fashion. It is known from pictorial and oral testimony that the working conditions in the curing yards were exceptionally hard for the herring girls and yet most of the photographs have them laughing and smiling as if they do not have a care in the world. Although there was a great spirit of camaraderie and good humour, the photographs seem in conflict with the truth as if they were a marketing ploy to entice more young women to come and gut fish.
The image shown in figure 4 is a photograph taken of a herring girl in the 1920s in Great Yarmouth. Although it is a black and white image it is still clear the herring girl is covered in blood and guts past her elbows and her apron appears covered in unsightly matter. If the image was viewed from the torso up, her smile would indicate she is having a wonderful time and that there is no sign of hardship in her life. Bochel (1979) as cited in Nadel-Klein stated ‘”dressing up to be photographed was one of the first things they did after settling in for the season,” suggesting that many of these illustrations were less than candid.’
Sylvia Pankhurst, the English campaigner for the suffrage and suffragette movement, made an interesting observation in her book, The Suffragette Movement – An Intimate Account Of Persons And Ideals. ‘I sped north to Scarborough, to study the conditions of the Scotch fisher lassies working the east coast in the trail of the herring, beautified by their outdoor life, singing and chattering like a shoal of sea birds over the fish they were cleaning and packing.’ Pankhurst later painted her depiction of a herring girl which was in stark contrast to her somewhat romanticised descriptive prose. Instead of a smiling, carefree girl was an old woman with a very pale face hunched over the farlan gutting the herring.
The romantic notion of the herring girl has been represented in contemporary historical romance novels with images on covers of the female herring workers used in very flattering ways to market the novels. According to Liffen, ‘considering the messy nature of herring processing work, it seems unusual that romance novels have employed figures of Scottish female herring workers as main protagonists.’ However, unlike reality, herring girls have adorned the covers of novels with flowing hair, slightly tamed by glamourous scarves and wearing crisp, clean clothes with not a smattering of blood or guts to be seen.
Two novels, The Fisher Lass and The Shimmer of the Herring, were the basis for a research article by Liffen, relating to images of Scottish herring workers on romance novel covers with one aspect of analysis being whether the book covers truthfully represented the role of herring workers.
Former herring girls were interviewed for the article in relation to their thoughts on the depiction of herring girls on the book covers and based on their reactions the covers portrayed highly romanticised versions of fisher girls as can be seen in figures 5 and 6. Indeed, the cover of Shimmer of the Herring is quite reminiscent of Edward Charles Barnes’ painting The Fishwife, (Figure 3).
In response to the cover of The Fisher Lass, a former Scottish herring worker remarked that the main figure’s scarf “would have been hanging in the barrel . . . if she bent over”…and that the scarf draped over the flowing hair of the figure illustrated on the cover of The Shimmer of the Herring looked “too glamorous…you didn’t have all that hair…that would have been all over our eyes before you know where you were.” Further, she remarked ,“looks like someone that has been dressed up.’’ As Liffen indicated, ‘her [former herring worker] terminology suggests that the cover figure is more akin to an actress who might be playing the part of a herring worker rather than an image of a woman familiar with fish processing work.’
The misleading imagery of the herring girls through art and literature is somewhat comparable to what Walter Scott did for Scotland through his novels. To his readers, Scott’s prose in relation to the Highlands came to characterise the whole of Scotland and with it the image that everyone wore tartan kilts. This romanticism of the Highlands and Scotland as a whole remains as does the smiling imagery of the herring girls.
Photographers Hill and Adamson presented the fisherfolk of Newhaven as a community bound by tradition and honest labour and through their photographs helped to propel these ordinary folk into popular culture during the nineteenth century. These same photographs now grace many social media sites and have given the fishwives and herring girls a romanticised status. These glamourised images are now used for the marketing of heritage trails, museums and fishwife collectables along with a new trend to knit the type of shawls worn by fishwives. These idealised images reject the notion that these women worked as hard as they did but by the same token, for the fishwives and herring girls, the interest that artists and photographers showed in them potentially helped raised their status in their own eyes and have ensured their stories continue even though their professions do not.
 Kate Tremayne, The Loveday Fortunes, (Headline Publishing Group, 2000, Google e-book).
 James Glass Bertram, The Harvest of the Sea, Contribution to the Natural and Economic History of the British Food Fishes, (John Murray, London, 1865), p429.
 Valerie G. Hall, Women at Work, 1860-1939: How Different Industries Shaped Women’s Experiences, (The Boydell Press, 2013), p115.