Oct 212014

…..the signal sent from Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory before the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, the most significant naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars, establishing British supremacy at sea for many years thereafter. The British fleet, led by Lord Nelson (1758-1805), attacked an allied fleet of Spanish and French ships off Cape Trafalgar (east of Cádiz) with the intention of preventing them from passing through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Nelson’s tactics outwitted the commander of the Spanish and French fleet, Villeneuve (1763-1806), and the British won the day.HMSVic

At the height of the battle, a musket shot fatally wounded Lord Nelson and his illustrious career was brought to an untimely end. As he lay dying in the cockpit of the HMS Victory, frequent reports on the progress of the battle were brought to him by Captain Thomas Hardy. His last request was said to be ‘Kiss me Hardy’ before he died with the words, ‘Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty.’ I think perhaps these words did not relate directly to kissing Captain Hardy but who knows….

Trafalgar Square in London, dominated by Nelson’s Column, commemorates the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and today is celebrated as Trafalgar Day with parades and other ceremonies.

There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of plaques around the United Kingdom (and further afield) commemorating Lord Nelson in various ways from his birthplace to where he lived in 1798!



Oct 202014

Guildford FourThe Guildford pub bombings occurred on 5 October 1974. Two pubs in Guildford, Surrey were targeted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who detonated a six-pound gelignite bomb in each location. The pubs were selected as they were popular with British Army personnel stationed at the barracks in Pirbright. Sixty-five people were wounded and five people died in the bombing (four soldiers and one civilian).

At 20:30, the bomb in The Horse and Groom detonated, killing a 22-year-old local plasterer, Paul Craig, as well as two members of the Women’s Royal Army Corps and two Scots Guards. The other pub – The Seven Stars – was evacuated after the first blast and therefore, there were no serious injuries when the second bomb detonated at 21:00.

The bombings contributed to the speedy and unchallenged passing of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in November 1974, which were used by the Metropolitan Police to draw false confessions from the ‘Guildford Four’.

The bombings took place at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland. The Metropolitan Police were under enormous pressure to apprehend the IRA bombers responsible for the attacks in England. In December 1974, the police arrested three men and a woman, later known as the Guildford Four (pictured right). These were: Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Patrick Armstrong and Carole Richardson.

The Guildford Four were falsely convicted of the bombings in October 1975 and sentenced to life in prison. All the convictions were overturned on 20 October 1989 in the appeal courts after it was proven that the Guildford Four’s convictions had been based on confessions obtained by torture – as were some of the Maguire Seven’s convictions, which included Gerry Conlon’s father, Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon, who sadly died in his third year of imprisonment.

Oct 192014

William Day is currently at the top of my Day tree. I was very lucky to have a ‘Day tree’ c/o my Day grandfather back in the 1980s, which took me back to the mid-1800s. During my visits to the Family Records Centre – back in the day! – I managed to develop the information, locating the Day family in Cheshunt in 1851, before the censuses were digitised. Oh heavens, I remember that visit vividly…. page-by-page of the microfilm for Cheshunt…. Ugh! Now, I can just put the name into Ancestry and up it pops (HO107/1704/257/9):


William was recorded as ‘widowed’ having lost his first wife just prior to the 1851 census, perhaps in child birth. But it is not this William who heads up my tree – guess what? His father was called William too!

This William was William Henry Day, son of William and Grace Day, baptised 11 July 1815 Margaretting, Essex (Source ref: D/P 235/1/12):

Bp1815 S William Day cropped

William (senior) married Grace Penny on 29 October 1814 in Margaretting (Source ref: D/P 235/1/15):

M1814 D DAY William PENNY Grace

Neither William nor Grace had been married prior to 1814 – or so this record implies – but the 1841 census makes interesting reading for the ages of William and Grace! He was 65 and she was 43 (HO107/326/1/14/21):


Thomas and Grace Stubbing(s) were son-in-law and daughter of William and Grace, Grace Day having been their second eldest child (after William). William and Grace had seven known children: William Henry, Grace, James, Sarah, Charles, Charlotte and Elizabeth. Some of these names may help in tracing the Day/Penny lines further back in time…..

So, a few questions remain regarding this William Day:

  • Where in Essex was he born? [He died in 1848, so is not found on any census detailing a more precise birth place.]
  • Was Grace actually his first wife, or was he married before?
  • Who were his parents?

Is anyone connected to this Day line from Margaretting, Essex? I’d love to hear from you!

Oct 182014

StLukeLogoThis is the feast day of St Luke, a doctor by profession and the writer of the third gospel of the New Testament (and quite possibly, the Acts of the Apostles). He is the patron saint of many professions – physicians and surgeons (for obvious reasons), as well as artists and butchers. His symbol is a horned ox or bull. In art, Luke is represented by a winged ox because he begins his gospel with an account of the priest, Zachary (Zechariah), sacrificing in the temple. The ox represents Christ’s sacrifice.

St Luke’s Day is supposed to be a good time to choose a spouse and various rituals are prescribed for young women who wish to dream of their future husband. It is also formerly the date of the Charlton Horn Fair, held in London until 1872. On sale at the fair were horns of every description, merchandise made of horn and figures bearing horns. All the visitors to the fair wore or carried horns and all the stalls were decorated with horns. The link with horns is of uncertain origin – they may be the horns of the cuckold (according to a popular legend concerning King John and a miller’s wife) or the horns of St Luke’s ox.

So, don’t hold back on St Luke’s Day ladies – get out there and choose your spouse. Choose wisely though, won’t you?!

[Did you know, that there are three birth references on FreeBMD to people with the name St Luke? Born in JQ1845 in Stepney RD is St Luke Dixon, St Luke Salinger in SQ1851 in St Giles RD and St Luke Spencer in DQ1900 in Mile End RD, but only the latter could actually have been born on St Luke's Day of course!]

Oct 172014

Do you ever get that feeling that your task list will just never end? Do you feel like you spend your whole life writing lists? We feel your pain! NeverEnding

The problem with our work here at FWL is that – more often than not – we can’t just do a job in one go, send it off, invoice for it and it’s done. I doubt many professions are like that, but some do lend themselves more readily to at least getting the task done in one sitting.

So, we start a client’s family history research and come to a point where we have to order a certificate or two to confirm the next generation with certainty. Put the file down. Wait seven days to receive the certificate. Pick up the case again….

We contact potential beneficiaries in an intestate estate case. We send the claim and documentation off to the Treasury and wait for four to eight weeks to receive a reply. They then ask who is administering the estate, despite the fact our contract states the facts very clearly….

You get the idea. Now, we are very organised here at FWL. We have to be as we have case files coming out of our ears (as well as the more commonly used orifice, the filing cabinet). But, we are really interested to know how others manage projects to make sure that jobs don’t ‘fall down the cracks’. We have our ways, but we are convinced that there are much better systems! Anyone care to share? How do you do yours?

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