Aug 012014

make a difference motivational phrase handwritten with white chalk on blackboardGo on…. Why don’t you? It’s not that difficult! Or is it? Some people are so good at it. You could be too.

What we do here at Family Wise – every day – is make a difference. Because that’s our job! We are lucky to be able to call people up, out of the blue, and tell them they are potential beneficiaries in an intestate case…. Or that there is a Will with their name in it …. Or that they can move on with their life when we have tracked down a lost individual from yesteryear….



Lose the negativity in life. Be positive. Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!

Be positive and make other people smile…. it makes a difference, believe me.

Jul 312014

In Stanton Harcourt churchyard stands a stone with the following epitaph, telling a very sad story of this day in 1718:


Near this place lie the bodies
An industrious young man
And virtuous young maiden of this parish;
Who, being at harvest work (with several others),
Were in one instant killed by lightning,
The last day of July, 1718.
Think not by rigorous judgment seized
A pair so faithful could expire;
Victims so pure, Heaven saw well pleased.
And snatched them in eternal fire.
Live well, and fear no sudden fate;
When God calls victims to the grave,
Alike ’tis justice soon or late,
Mercy alike to kill or save.
Virtue unmoved can hear the call,
And face the flash that melts the ball.

Two young lovers - having, that very morning, obtained the consent of Sarah’s parents to marry – were killed by lightning as they worked in an Oxfordshire field at harvest time. According to an account of the incident written by John Gay (1685-1732), Sarah collapsed in fright as the storm broke. Her fiancé remained at her side in an attempt to comfort and protect her. There was a flash of lightning and an ear-splitting crash of thunder, and the other workers ran to where John and Sarah lay, to find them dead in each other’s arms amid the smoking barley. What a sad story….


Jul 302014

wcup66Sadly, I was not around when England’s football team last won the World Cup. Since the inaugural tournament in 1930, the World Cup has been awarded every four years – except in 1942 and 1946 – and the England fans are used to the constant media attention for the squad and the disappointment when we don’t win…. ever (in my lifetime)!

But once, just once, we did! On this day in 1966, captained by Bobby Moore, England beat West Germany by four goals to two at London’s Wembley Stadium. At half-time, the score was 1-1, thanks to a goal from Geoff Hurst. Martin Peters scored a second goal but 15 seconds from full-time, West Germany drew level from a free kick. Geoff Hurst scored two goals in extra-time to secure the victory…. even though one of his goals was a little dubious but allowed when a Russian linesman confirmed that the ball had crossed the line. Geoff Hurst was the first player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.

The current champions are Germany who recently won their fourth title at the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Brazil are the most successful team, having won the World Cup five times. The 2018 World Cup will be the 21st event and is scheduled to take place in Russia. Maybe the Russian connection might be a good omen for the England team….? Hm…. doubtful.

Jul 292014

Brownsea-IslandOn 29 July 1907, Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941) took a group of boys to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, for what was basically the first Scout camp. The aim of the venture was to try out some of the ideas that were to become the basic principles and activities of the Scout movement which included fostering a sense of humour, loyalty and good citizenship as well as achieving physical fitness through exercise and developing practical skills from woodwork and crafts to first aid.

The boys who attended the camp were drawn from different social classes and were divided into four patrols, each assigned a tent to sleep in. After morning prayers came drills, games and instruction, interspersed with quiet rest periods and of course, the day ended with stories and singing around the campfire. The ‘experiment’ was deemed to be a great success and Scouting was born.

Now managed by The National Trust, Brownsea Island is famous for its red squirrels and wildlife (as well as Scouting) and has spectacular views across to the Purbeck Hills. Thriving natural habitats – including woodland, heathland and a lagoon – create a unique haven for wildlife, such as the rare red squirrel and a wide variety of birds, including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns and oystercatchers.

The Outdoor Centre invites visitors to follow in the footsteps of Lord Baden-Powell and the very first Scouts who camped there in 1907, and groups of Scouts and Guides camp on Brownsea Island in the summer months.

Jul 282014

Since the release of the 1911 census, many articles and blogs have been written about the eccentric entries made by our ancestors. From Beauty Lafayette, the beloved pet dog of The Great Fayette (aged 16) to Biddy, the “faithful Irish Terrier Bitch, Magnificent Watch, a demon on Cats and Vermin, age 11 years” of Mr and Mrs Arthur John Delve in Smethwick, there have been dozens in between. But I haven’t seen any mention of Timothy the Cat, Jack the Dog, Jack Cat or ‘Lark’ who I have discovered today….

Frances Catherine Stone, a 46-year-old church worker, living at 45 Claremont Road, Langley, Heanor, recorded her two animals, Timothy and Jack, aged 7 and 8 respectively (RG14/20398):


And, Tom Brooks recorded their ‘domestic animal’ Jack Cat – a mouse shifter - and Lark - a singer – at 37 Gaythorne Road, Bradford (RG14/26701):


Can any other genies add to the animal kingdom in 1911 – or indeed any other year? Is there a ‘definitive’ list of the ‘interesting finds’ to date? How about we start one here!

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