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Showing posts from December, 2014

Hogmanay, Fireballs and a Happy New Year!

2015 should prove an exciting year for family historians and anyone researching burial and cremation records.

Today, villages, towns and cities across Scotland are gearing up for magnificent Hogmanay celebrations. While the glorious firework displays seen over Edinburgh at New Year are a fairly recent phenomenon, the tradition of welcoming January with bonfires and torchlit processions dates back centuries. Although the word "Hogmanay" only appeared in writing as late as 1604.

My Scottish Jolly ancestors lived in the old county of Kincardineshire on the north east coast - just south of the coastal enclave of Stonehaven. From at least 1908, the people of Stonehaven have celebrated New Year in a 20-30 minute fireball ceremony, intended to ward off evil spirits from the old year in preparation for the next. The ceremony involves a group of local people swinging cages of giant flaming ragballs around their heads. Happily, members of the group are all trained and sober, ensuring …

Christmas Burials and Mary Christmas

For many of us, Christmas is a time of family, feasting and celebration. But for the working classes of the late 18th and early 19th century, Christmas Day was regarded as a rare break from daily toil. Nevertheless, some Georgians and Victorians were obliged to continue working in the holidays. Among them were priests, cemetery staff and gravediggers who oversaw Christmas burials. 

It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, The bird of dawning singeth all night long. And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad. The nights are wholesome. Then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallowed and so gracious is that time. Marcellus speaking about the season of Christmas in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1.
Although our British ancestors were taught to consider Christmas as a holy time, if you have working class relatives, you may have found records of them being married on …

Lincoln's First Cemetery

As the local council officially announces the launch of our Lincoln Collection, I look back at the social changes that led to the opening of the city's first cemetery in 1856.

The Lincoln Collection on Deceased Online incorporates over 140,000 records dating back to the 1850s. Of the five cemeteries in the collection, three - Canwick Road, Eastgate, and Newport - date from 1856. But Lincoln's councillors had identified a need for a cemetery almost decade earlier.
On the 12th November 1846, the Lincolnshire Chronicle reported that the Cemetery Committee worried that:

"it appeared to be an impossibility to form a Cemetery in Lincoln at present, in consequence of the expense and trouble which would arise. Instead the Council proposed to focus on clearing the "nuisances now existing in the town" and to pass a bill for ""sanatory [sic] improvement". 
One of the key difficulties was a problem with the city's drainage system. There were also general …

Manchester & Lancashire FHS

We are delighted to announce a new release of Bolton Monumental Inscription records in partnership with Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society. We believe that, together with our collection of Bolton cemetery and crematoriun records, this forms the most definitive set of burial and cremation records for a single major urban area in the UK. Great news for anyone with Bolton ancestors!
Celebrated as the town with the friendliest population in Britain, Bolton has a fascinating industrial history. The town grew up around textile mills close to the West Pennine Moors. Bolton developed a strong identity with its successful football team, Bolton Wanderers F.C., which I'm pleased to say my great grandfather's cousin, Joe Smith, captained to FA cup victory in 1923!
Together with the 415,000 burial and cremation records shared with us by Bolton Council, we now have nearly 470,000 for the area covering 27 cemeteries and burial sites plus the crematorium. The records in this …