Tuesday 3 May 2022

Geeking Out - Tree Analysis, evaluating, and 'What's Your Number?'

In 2016, there was a brief social media craze in the genealogy community around the question: "What's Your Number".

It was a lot of fun as I recall, and the origin point for finding some of my favourite online genealogy friends (though some have later proved to also be extended family).

Naturally, as I'm a human researcher, and given to bouts of being human, my notes from the first round of taking part in this exist only in the hard drive of a dead computer that's living in our spare room, as dead computers are wont to between death, and that point where you skin your shins tripping over it enough to admit defeat and let go of whatever was on there 'now that all these years have passed' with as much grace as you can muster, so unfortunately, I don't have my original notes anymore to make for a handy comparison piece.

However, I did, very recently, identify my last remaining mysterious 3rd Great-Grandmother (GGM) Elizabeth Collicott, to fill out a whole generation, and that tripped the memory for me.
Meanwhile, for those among us who just love a good comparison series to read, I can highly recommend Julie Tarr's blog series, which starts here. She had a go in a first post published 17 Aug 2012, then revisited again in 2015 and 2017 ...and you'll get no spoilers from me.

In looking back, I was reminded of Christa Cowan's episode of 'The Barefoot Genealogist' from 15 Mar of 2016, which built on her Ancestry blogpost of the same name, from 16 Aug 2012.
At time of writing, this video has received 30,420 views (including my re-watching of it in preparation for this), 470 likes (no dislikes), & 66 comments.
This episode delves into all the how and why of this particular method of analysis of your research way better than I ever could, so though I'll touch on a few bits here, that's mostly where I learnt from (with a few additions), so I would still highly recommend giving it a watch when you have time.

In celebration of having filled out that 5th generation (I don't personally count my generation for purposes of this one), especially as last time I did this, there was a whole 1st Great-Grandparents (GGPs) branch who were essentially 'lost' to us, so the landscape is very different now (to say nothing of the advances in DNA for genealogy since), I thought I might revisit this analysis game and bring you along for the fun. Who knows, maybe between us, we might be able to chip a little at each others' brick walls slightly?

Since I don't start with 'me' as a base for this type of analysis, my numbers will vary slightly from what you might see elsewhere. I'm still a big advocate for do whatever works for you in your research.

First of all, let's start with what we know:

In analysing my master tree I want to also incorporate genetic genealogy (more on my recent experiments with Leeds Method et al in the next while). To do that, I need to get typically to 9th cousins at the outside (so 8th GGPs)  which gives me a nice, tidy, 10 generations to play with. Your mileage may vary.

For those 10 generations, theoretically, I should have 2046 'slots' for an ancestor (to borrow verbage from various gaming systems), as follows:

Next, for the slightly daunting bit: How many have I collected so far?
One thing I do know, courtesy of GedMatch, is that so far as currently able to be read, my parents are genetically unrelated, so we're not expecting to find anything in the way of endogamy, so that's the full 2046 individuals I'm chasing. ...sounds about right for this family to be honest. Never do things by halves!

Another thing I know is going to come up, some of the women of these higher up generations, I only have a first name to go on so far, so I'm going to be strict with myself and only include relatives I know a first and last name for.
Well, here goes nothing...

Top Tip: Ancestry shows 5 gens comfortably, so the way I did my counting was, I made a list of all 32 of my 2GGPs (working on the basis of 'an ounce of preparation...'), and made each of them the person whose ancestors were showing, and then for the few who had someone in that last generation, I just used one unfold of the wee arrows by turns.

Okay, so overall, pleasantly surprised. At least something into double figures at every level.
I was expecting the odd one, as I have one line leading from each parent that goes ALL the way back into oral history*. I had no idea that I had quite so much of those upper generations filled out though. Especially the 4GGPs. To have nearly 3/4 of those slots full is fantastic!

However, there's that sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop, so let's look into it further.

To make it easier to manage, I went back and split the table into my maternal and paternal sides, and colour coded it:

The first thing that's quite interesting, is how close it is. It's really close at first: 25 found Mum's side, for 21 Dad's side for 4GGPs, and thereafter it falls away with Dad's side trailing.

Part of that is that for a range of reasons, in the last couple of generations, there hasn't been an abundance of contact, to the point where, until recently, there were a couple of lines that were looking like they might have been 'lost'.
On the plus side though, some of Dad's lines have been extensively researched by a team of family genealogists, headed by the epic cousin Russell in Indiana. Other lines though, there's some interesting situations, and in some cases, records are somewhat thin on the ground. Still, we persist. 

The most recently found 3GGM, Elizabeth Collicott, is on Dad's side too, and part of me is leaning towards that 'shiny object syndrome' of having a nice, new (to me) relative to get to know.

Mum's side, it's interesting. Mum's family have always been extremely close, and it's only in the last generation or so that the family has really started to spread out to any great degree. The stories are still told and there are more photos, which definitely helps to keep them 'alive' somehow. That side are also keen users of a variety of communications methods to keep up with each other that bit more regularly.

So, there's this odd equilibrium: Dad's side are heavier (with a couple of exceptions) on genealogical record, but light on the DNA side of things (other than me, only one relative that side within the immediate family has chosen to test so far).

On Mum's side, there are more situations where the genealogical records are more spotty, but we do have the benefit of not only more relatives who have chosen to test, but also, the identical twin factor is very close in to the people who are testing, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The good thing however is, of all the female born offspring of the twins, we have tests for a daughter of each twin and a grand-daughter of each twin, so we cover three out of 4 of the twins' downlines currently.

Interestingly enough, most of our cousin matches are 3rd cousins (4GGPs) or further though, so it's probably worth trying to plug those 7 missing 4GGPs, so as to be able to narrow it down, though in the meantime, given the twin factor, I'm hoping some recent experiments in adapting the Leeds Method may pay off soon (more on that at some stage in the coming months).

* I include it. I'm a huge history nerd and my main job deals in telling stories. I like it. I'm annotating it as far as I can at every turn. I am comfortable, pre-mass literacy, to include oral only sources as tertiary sources. If that doesn't work for you, that doesn't work for you. We're all going to come at this slightly differently, even within the lingua franca.

Friday 22 April 2022

Wait, How Are We Related Again? (How to Work Out Different Types of Cousins)

 Back in the spring of 1997, our family held the 'Great Laity Gathering' (GLG) in Marazion, Cornwall. It was organised by some of the American cousins, and was tons of fun!

One of the most useful tips I picked up from that event, was how to work out how any two people are related.

It's stood me in good stead all these years, and it's extremely helpful now that more and more people are doing genetic genealogy too, as it's a good way to take a fantastic resource like Blaine Bettinger's tool and simplify down to a nice, clean, 'If X is your ..... and my ..... we must be ???cousins'.

We can all grasp pretty easily what a cousin is (or a 'first cousin' to give it the proper name).

First cousins are two people who share one set of grandparents (or at least one single grandparent). 

Simple, straightforward, fairly easy to look on a family tree and trace a little triangle that shows 'these to people come from this one couple/person'. 

What happens when it gets more complex though? When more generations are involved, or when the two people we're comparing relate differently to the common ancestor?

The tip I learned from relatives at the GLG was:

Think of the family tree as though it was a map: Imagine it has a North (going up the tree as you go back in history), South (as you come down the tree and forward in time), East and West as the family spreads out sideways into bigger and bigger triangles (or lozenges).

For every 1 generation step up from grandparents, that's another degree of cousinship, so for example:
Two people share one set of great-grandparents, then they're second cousins, because we've gone up one more step from grandparents to great-grandparents.

Suppose two people share 4th great grandparents (three steps higher up from second cousins), they're fifth cousins.

There's also a quick cheat to this one as well if you're in a real hurry:
Add on 1 to the number of grandparents to know how many degrees of cousinship, i.e.

Great-Grandparents          2nd cousins

2nd Great-Grandparents   3rd cousins

3rd Great-Grandparents    4th cousins

4th Great-Grandparents    5th cousins

5th Great-Grandparents    6th cousins

...and so on.

That works just fine for comparing any two people who have the same relationship to the common person. If you and I happen to share Thomas Spencer from Coventry as a 2nd great grandparent, 
...well, first off, have we compared notes yet? - and if not, when are you free for a chat?
...but that aside, we would be 3rd cousins.

Suppose though that my 2nd Great-Grandad Thomas Spencer, is your 3rd Great-Grandad, but you aren't my nibling (there's currently only one on that side of the family, who is naturally the most amazing kid in the world, but 8mts IS pushing it a little for these purposes just now), then we know that there's an East or a West move somewhere in the trail between us, to account for why we're out of step with each other.

When this happens, what we do is look for the lower number of the two. In this example, that's the relationship between Thomas and me, which tells us that we're some kind of 3rd cousin.

To find out what kind of 3rd cousin we are, we need to work out how many generations the gap between Thomas and my relationship is, compared to yours and Thomas'. If Thomas is your 3rd Great-Grandad, then there's only one step of difference between us, meaning that we are 3rd cousins once removed.
If we were comparing me and your child, that would be 3rd cousins twice removed, and so on.

Sounds a lot, right? For visual thinkers, here's this particular example drawn out:

Pretty neat, eh? If nothing else, a fun party trick that you can use at your next family event to entertain Aunty Meg and her 4th cousin twice removed, your cousin Bailey*.

* In case of cousin fishers:
1) Hi! Let's compare notes;
2) You didn't loose your mind, Aunty Meg and Bailey don't belong to us. They're entirely fictional.


Sunday 20 March 2022

An awesome resource (not sponsored), Tudor Taxation, and some of the intricacies and frustrations of chasing Cornish Ancestors.

 Back in Cornwall this month, and scrambling about in one of my most favourite eras: the high medieval and Tudor periods.

While this is not a sponsored post, I do also want to touch on the fabulous resource that is Westcountry Books, because I genuinely like their work.

I first came across Westcountry Books (and bought the resource we'll be looking into today) back in ...I want to say 2016 (which, if you've been here any length of time, was right before our world went crazy, and that's really only starting to settle down now), but life conspired, so I'm only truly managing to slow down and take some proper time to start dabbling with it now.

Westcountry Books is owned by Bernard D Welchman, who is a professional Genealogist and Lecturer, specialising primarily in Somerset, Devon, and Dorset. Among other places, you will find him online at Cyndi's List.

Westcountry Books covers a number of topics (including genealogy, heraldry, and some elements of social history), for Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Hereford, Monmouthshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, and the Westcountry in general.
For our primary area of interest, Cornwall, there are approximately 30 titles at time of writing (and yes, there is an entry on my bucket list to gradually add to my collection of their publications).

Let me introduce you to their product, the 'Cornwall Subsidies in the Reign of Henry VIII 1524, 1543 and the Benevolence of 1545', edited by T.L. Stoate:

First thing to note:
In the time since I bought this one, I notice that they now have a download option and a thumb drive option. 
This is going to be an interesting and helpful pair of options for some. 

In all honesty, I would say that the postage rates quoted are very fair (especially in the worldwide situation, which, while the pandemic continues, is the applicable one for us, because there's no hope of being over to Devon and the family home any time soon unfortunately, thus our 'purchase locally and send to the family home' strategy just isn't functioning for now), but I can see how a download version saves that little bit, and does mean you get your file 'now' if that's your thing.

Personally though, genealogy is one of five self-employed jobs I work (and I'm still studying for my full license too - though hopefully this is the year!), so there's never going to necessarily be a time for me, when the stars align (as in I have the money, the requisite time, a computer that's not about to die, something to store it on, and the state of health to be able to sit and study all at the same time), so I shall satisfy myself with good, old-fashioned, 'happy post', one title at a time, when the opportunities gradually present themselves. Maybe a thumb-drive at some point, if I'm pushing the boat out and purchasing two!

Always good to have options though and it's great to see them offering lots of different solutions instead of just one thing. Always a mark of a good store I find.

The CD itself comes in a soft pocket, and came in a reinforced envelope to keep it nice and safe in the post. We do already have Adobe on the computer, so in our case, it's pretty much ready to rock.

The PDF is a pretty good scan of an earlier record (presumably the TL Stoate original).

Accessibility note:
For those who use screenreader technology, or who are working with a visual field issue, it's worth knowing that the font is a typewriter font. The nearest matches I've managed to find are 'Thesis' & 'Courier'.
Very occasionally there are very slightly heavier touches in the type, but these are few and far between.
There are also some tables and quite a lot of columns throughout.
Overall, I find (mine's a visual field issue from an ABI), if it's a high energy day, with plenty of time to take over it, and a notebook to hand, I can usually blow the print size up enough and edge my way through it slowly, a little at a time.
There is permission to also print one copy for your own use in with the purchase. 
I haven't tried this as yet, but I think I will at some point. With a lens, I'd manage the type and I'm thinking physically annotating, maybe colour-coding it will help.

TL Stoate themselves, so far as I can tell, is something of an enigma. 
A shame because they're a writer, for me, who feels very companionable on the page and I'd love to know more.
There is an entry for them in the OCLC World Catalogue. From there, it seems they have some 39 works, spanning a period from 1973-2002.

It would appear that Stoate was, in this instance, making, a typewritten transcription of an original Crown Copyrighted manuscript, which makes it a secondary source at the point of interacting with this PDF, but certainly a secondary source that can be held as extremely trustworthy, due to the clarity, and the nature of its production.
Since we cannot reproduce any of the contents, citing the source (for instance in an online tree), becomes a tertiary source, as we're reporting what we saw in a secondary source.

The PDF itself consists of an introduction that gives a lot of strong context information, then an analysis of the returns. There are also various tables, including a reckoner for rate of taxation, followed by the various items in sense order, not necessarily chronological.
Very occasionally a certain year may not be available for a certain area, but these instances are few and far between.
Towards the back there is map information and an index of Parishes, as well as an index of surnames.

Why is this all so interesting? Beyond the obvious cool nature of this document and everything it entails?

Our Laity/Layty/Laytye relations (and it looks as though there'll be plenty of sideways relations too, given names that crop up so-far too).

If you share Laity family, or have spent any amount of time around some, then you'll know several things to be true:

* There is a saying that: "Anything that happened to Cornwall in its time, there was at least one Laity involved in there somewhere".
* The family origins are 'Poor dairy farmers' (Lay-tye being at its root an occupational name for 'dairyman').
* There are currently around about 60 years worth of group family history and genealogy research, headed by cousin Russell out in Indiana, USA (who is an exceptionally cool individual. Shout me if you're not already in touch with him, I'll put you in touch. The guy's encyclopedic!).
- That research has resulted in a number of editions of 'The Book' (a collated official genealogy of the family that everyone's research has contributed), which is updated every time there's a new significant update. Currently, we're on the 2022 edition.
* The family research, collectively, resulted in 7 branches initially (Sections A - G), with additional, as yet unplaced folks, eventually developing into section H.
- To date, we're working on the theory (which so far is bearing out) that all Laity relations all over the world connect together somewhere in one of those sections. This is an incredibly cool thing to have in one family, and we're super-lucky that it's the case.

For many years (I think it was already a known thing back around the GLG '97 - Great Laity Gathering 1997), the wisdom we had, led back to a group of brothers. In the case of the side I'm part of (Section B), our earliest was Richard Laytye ( my 10th GGF) whose eldest son was baptised around 1562-3. In the 2013 edition of the family tree, he was still our earliest known and placed relative.

Back around 2016 flitting about online and reading something (I honestly can't even remember where now), I came across a footnote somewhere that mentioned a possible father for him called John, who was referred to in "The Land Grants of Henry VIII in Cornwall".
I took it to Russell, he worked his magic, and bam! we managed to tie all the branches together at the top of the tree (as reflected in the 2016 edition).

As a result of Russell's uncanny ability to jigsaw everyone's research together, the top of the family tree currently (as at time of writing) looks a little like this:

The hope is, that we may find someone to match one of these men (and it would most of the time be men at this point in Cornwall. Approx 1/3 of the population of Cornwall isn't even paying tax at this point, and the few women who do appear are nearly always widows).

First up, the standard disclaimer: 
We have to keep coming back to the fact that if a name happens to match, it doesn't necessarily mean its our one. The chances of our 'poor farmers' being in here is still relatively remote.
The fact we have one in the Land Grants, raises the odds slightly, but we don't know the full story there, so we have to proceed with caution so as not to attach the wrong people.

Onwards, to the surname index.
From this, we find that there are 10 entries for any variant of Laity (we tend to always just use the modern variant for the plural, because people and feelings often run high and it's just the easiest way to handle things - families are tricky things).
Two variants re-occur twice in there, and then there are also two new-to-us variants (I checked with Russell) that haven't cropped up before.

Alphabetically, we find:

Taken from my notes
* = new-to-us variant spellings

It is also worth noting that there is a place name of 'Laity (Ilogan)' given, which matches with a current theory we are chasing, that the family name derives from a place
...if we're very lucky, because at this point in Cornwall, there are some taking the surname from a place name (and some variation between keeping the one you were born in, and changing it up if you move somewhere else), or some taking the name of father or grandfather as either a last name, or a middle and last name (and of course in a variety of orders ...because that's fun for your genealogist descendants... le sigh...)

There are also a large number of related surnames, sometimes in the same area at the same time (looking at you Polkinghornes, Pentreaths, Penroses, and Nicholls for a start). More on them in the coming months hopefully.

Bearing in mind our golden rule, that even if there are name matches in here, they don't necessarily correspond with known and placed relatives as yet, what we're able to extrapolate is that a number of men who possibly match appear in the various rounds of taxation, meaning they're: 
    1) ALIVE - on the basis it helps to                 be alive to pay your tax.
     2) Likely to be 'of age'.

Our candidates break down as follows:

You'll note that I've marked two entries with symbols.

My theory is, these two Johns may be one and the same man (or related very closely).
My train of thought so far is:

In 1524, John Leytye of Wenepp (which is Gwennap), appears on the page in a group.
He appears together with a John Nicoll Trevargh, a John Nicoll Jr., and James their servant.

Sadly, no way of knowing James' surname for sure, but there is always an outside chance he's a relation. We're unlikely to know on that one at this point. 
James is paying tax on goods he owns, which is very interesting and says something about this group.
He seems to be paying a similar level of tax to other servants appearing in that area at the same time.

Laying James aside for a moment, this group pays what appears to amount to about 20% of the total tax for Wenepp at this time. They pay the most tax of anyone in the area, and their bill is more than twice that of the next highest paying individual.

Fast forward to 1543 and back in Wenapp (note the ever shifting spelling of English at this time).

This time we find John Leytie appearing next to a John Nicoll (James the servant does not appear). Each of these two men, is paying tax on approximately one third of the amount that the group of three were paying in 1524. 
My thinking is, if John Nicoll Trevargh died off somewhere in the intervening 19 years, then it's possible that the estate was broken up, leaving John Leytie and John Nicoll (a Jr. no more), with their share as individuals?
This will require some further proving/disproving at a later date.

Tantalising, later on, over the page turn, there's a James Laytie we haven't seen before, paying tax on approximately four times the amount that James the servant was 19 years before. Could this be one and the same man? Perhaps he's retired? Another one to follow down at some point, but as a lesser priority (because there's nothing to really link the two for sure at this point).

Very quickly however, we run into a snag:

The key problem is, there's only one possibly overlapping individual for any of those payment dates (though in the case of 1545, with the Benevolence as well, all three of those men could, or could not be one and the same, or more accurately, both the tax-paying Johns could, or could not be the same, and could, or could not be our John).

The only other name match we have in there at all is the Richard paying tax in 1525, but:
a) Every other Laity man down the generations is a Richard, a William, or a Henry. It's kind of our thing.
b) Our Richard (in Section B) isn't born until 1528, so it seems somewhat unfair if it's him being made to pay tax in 1525(!)

Of course, there's also the possibility that our current John's father may also be a John. In which case, he could also perhaps be an earlier appearing John (for instance the earlier Gwennap man) and our existing and placed John may appear later.

The unmatched men have been noted by Russell in section H (as yet unmatched individuals).
Hopefully something will give at some stage and we'll be able to narrow down still further. 

There's some hope here though:
* For a start, we've 2 new variant spellings to look for, which is always handy.
* There there's all manner of other resources we can slowly wade into in search of our men. 
- For instance, regardless of whether he matches our John or not, the John connected to the Nicolls men in 1524 must have left some sort of trace behind (if only in a group with them). 
* Namppean is a new one on us. If that's a patronymic, that might also get us somewhere.

As someone (probably my mother, I suspect) once said: "The thick plottens".

Saturday 5 March 2022

Celtic Nations Day & St. Piran's Day 2022

 Gool Peran Lowen Onen Hag Oll! (Happy St Piran's Day One and All!)

It's Celtic Nations Day on 5th March, and for those of us in the Cornish Diaspora, it's also St Piran's Day. For us at home here, it's also our third consecutive one cocooning (we've been cocooning 2 years and a day today). Last year we went digital. This year we had hoped to maybe get together in a safe way with some friends, but it was not to be, so it's just us. 

We've had most of the afternoon in the garden. Our rescue hens now have their sandpit spruced up and topped up, as well as their swing re-strung ready for the summer, and one of our two potato planters is ready for us to plant up (we'll do that on St Patrick's Day as per). 

This morning, however, was all about the cooking preps.

My flaky pastry is chilling in the fridge, and my saffron buns have been proving most of the day.

Unfortunately I didn't have quite enough of my own saffron this time around, but I'm hoping that, if they do as well this winter as they did last winter, I'll be able to do them with all home grown saffron next year.

Our family Saffron Buns recipe has two modern branches. One here, and one in the States (carefully collected into the family's mixed Cornish and American Cookbook as collected by cousin Dorothy B). I love looking at the two alongside each other because you can really see which bits stayed the same and which evolved slightly and that kind of lends the voices of our ancestors and makes it feel even more like they're right there, despite having been cooking sometimes hundreds of years ago and opposite sides of the Atlantic.

To my knowledge, we don't have any in-family variants for vegan/coeliacs, but it's such a forgiving recipe (yours truly may have been known to use a little extra butter and make up the liquid in water when the milk went off once), I can't imagine it would be hard to adapt.
If you give it a go, shout me (dglaity1 on Instagram) and let me know

On the off-chance you're peckish and want to try your own, here's the Cornish, 'stayed at home' and the American variant recipes:


* 1/2pt (300ml) Milk (Whole Milk)
* About 2tsp (.5g or thereabouts) Saffron strands
* 2oz (50g) butter
* 3¼oz (90g) clotted cream (I can do you a nice line in a clotted cream recipe if you're stuck for one)
* 1lb 4oz (550g) Flour (Bread Flour. We use mainly white if we have it, but wholemeal doesn't hurt it)
* 1 heaped tsp salt
* 2oz/50g sugar (I like brown sugar, but whatever you have to hand is fine)
* 2tsp (or 1 sachet) quick-yeast.
* 3oz (75g) raisins/currants/similar
* 1oz (25g) mixed peel

- I tend to just knock the oven on slightly if it's a really cool day as you'll need a really warm place for it to rise, so a low-lit oven from starting out until you set it to prove usually does the trick.
- Warm your milk through until hot, but not boiling. Stir in the saffron, butter, and cream. Set this aside for 15-20mins until it's hand-hot and properly yellow (should be proper sunshine in a jug)
- Put the dry ingredients (not the fruit) in a bowl. 
TIP: I tend to put the salt in first and the yeast in last. That way the one can't affect the other.
Make a well in the middle and gradually mix the now hand-hot milk mixture into the dry ingredients.
- When it comes together, knead it in the bowl for about 10 mins, adding in the fruit about half way through so that it incorporates.
- Set to rise in a warm place for about an hour (until it doubles).
- Knock back the dough on a floured surface per bread.
- Divide into 8-10 (if you've several children to feed, I sometimes go to 12) pieces and roll into balls.
- Leave to rise again on a baking tray for about half an hour.
- Preheat the oven (I heat it all the way then drop it down) to about 200C (at a guess, high-moderate for gas, but I'm not that experienced with gas).
- Bake for around 20mins until they're golden.
- Make the syrup while the buns bake. For the syrup, I use about 20z (50g) sugar to 3-4 tbsp water. Dissolve the sugar completely, then bring it to a boil for about a minute until it goes glossy
- Set the buns to cool and brush immediately with the syrup.

Serve: Either fresh and still warm (as is, or with clotted cream or butter as desired), or let them go cold and toast and butter them later.


1tsp saffron soaked overnight in 1/2 cup warm water
2 cups lukewarm water
1 yeast cake
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lard or shortening
smidgen salt
1 cup raisins or currants
1/2 cup candied fruit (or more, as desired)
Flour (enough to make a soft dough)

In a bowl, mix together the lukewarm water and yeast. Add sugar, lard, salt, raisins, and candied fruit. Mix well, and then add enough flour to make a soft dough. Let rise until doubled in size. Knead down and fashion buns and place them into a 9 inch square baking dish or pan. Let rise. Bake at 325 degrees until done.



Our Celtic Family Lines we're remembering today for Celtic Nations Day (if any surnames match, do get in touch. I'm always up for comparing notes and DNA!):

CORNWALL (mostly South-Siders)






Saturday 12 February 2022

Cette semaine : Nous allons en France !

Salut !

A few folks have asked lately about the basics of researching French records in France. 

I remembered that back when I was on ravelry, I'd done a post on there to help out a friend in the 'Knitting Genealogists' group (still highly recommend the group if you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't find new Ravelry too inaccessible. Unfortunately I can't use it anymore), so I've done my best to recreate it here. 

Each département (administrative area) in France has its own 'archivesenligne' (online archives) website. The rest of this section takes the Archives Moselle site as a 'for example'

There is a menu option for ‘rechercher’ - that is ‘to research’ …'chercher' is a good word to have. It means ‘to search’. Also 'trouver' is another great one - it means ‘find’.

On the Moselle first page there, the first options you have in boxes are:

Le département de la Moselle propose la consultation en ligne des archives numérisées :


PHOTOGRAPHIES DU DENKMALARCHIV - Photographs of Denmalarchiv who/whatever he is

TABLES DÉCENNALES DE L’ÉTAT CIVIL - Decennial tables of the Civil Service/State

CADASTRE - Cadastre survey map/chart

REGISTRES MATRICULES MILITAIRES - This ought to cover people’s military service completion

FONDS PRIVÉS - Private …funds - likely to cover ‘misc.’ Should be very interesting.

Couple tips for Parish records:

Most of them seem to run Jan-Dec Janvier-Décembre in vital order: births, marriages, deaths, with corrections for the year after deaths. Though some are all births for the years covered with corrections at the end, then all marriages etc.

* For most places, you can pretty quickly work out roughly how many pages a year takes, which is handy as you can pretty much predict where to jump to to get in/around where you want to land.

* More recent stuff, since proper records started getting kept via the State, you should usually find entries have marginal notes on the birth registration for later vital events.

* If you can find a ‘livret de famille’ that’s an awesome resource to have, that confirms up to 3 generations
- It would be held by a relation though, and very unlikely found online. The French are very particular on what genealogy documents can/can’t be online by law. Each 'livret de famille' is given to the bride on her marriage and remains her property until her death, when it typically passes to her eldest child (or whoever else has an interest in old family documents).

* French privacy law extends 100-120 years from birth if I recall correctly.

Some handy terms:

naissance - birth
mort - death

décédé/e - is dead/has died. …deceased. Also décès - as in Acte de Décès - Death certificate

inhumé/e - buried. Alternatively enterré/e
testament - a will
livret de famille - family book - a VERY valuable book/document. Usually passes to eldest offspring after death.

vie à - lives at
de cette paroisse - of this parish
père - father
mère - mother
enfant - child. Especially in infancy.
grandpère/pépé - grandfather/grandad respectively
grandmère/mémé - grandmother/grandma respectively
arrière-grandpère/arrière-grandmère - great grandad/great grandma respectively
fils - son …fils de - son of
fille - daughter …fille de - daughter of
petit/s enfant/s - grandchild/ren
petit-fils - grandson
petite-fille - granddaughter
arrière-petits-enfants - great grandchildren
marraine - godmother
parrain - godfather
tante - aunt
oncle - uncle
époux/épouse - spouse male/female
les époux - the spouses
jeune fille - maiden / young woman/girl etc.
mariée - bride
mari - groom
la femme - the wife …sa femme - his wife
le mari - the husband …son mari - her husband
le gendre - son-in-law
la brue - daughter-in-law
ami/e - friend. Also copain/copine is a friend. A ‘compagnon’ relates to the guilds though
prêtre - priest. There is a circumflex accent on the first e typically
maire - mayor
Roi - king
Reine - queen
acte de - the act of …acte de naissance - birth registration
témoins - witnesses. Singular is témoin
signé - signed
travail - work
ère - 1st
2ème 3ème - 2nd, 3rd etc
âge de - of the age of
moins - months
ans - years
jours - days
dans l'année... - in the year...

Months of the year:


Some handy niceties:

S'il vous plaît - please
Merci - Thank you
Salut - Hi
Cher/Chère - Dear …as in for emails and letters.

est-ce que vous pouvez m’aider - could you help me.
Parlez-vous anglais - Do you speak/write/have English
Vous - you …polite form
Tu - you …friends/family that you’re close with, especially if younger.

Friday 4 February 2022

6 Years Blog Anniversary, Looking back and Forward, Back to Early Medieval Europe & Forward Planning


Daffs on our mantlepiece this evening

Well, I'm customarily late in writing this. In fact, our first daffodils of this year are in flower before I got this out. Ah well, I've always loved tradition...

The last while has been a lot, hasn't it?

I confess, 2021 has not been my busiest year for genealogy. I had a couple of commissions in the background, and I'm still pursuing my German descendancy project, which is technically, I think, as finished as it's going to be, but there are just a couple of 'not found' individuals that I'm still pursuing in the hopes I can fill out the set for my lovely client.

At home though, on our side, things have been fairly quiet. Mostly because keeping working, and a family together in body and mind under C-19 while cocooning throughout (this is day 700 cocooning for our family - and we still managed to catch 'Omicron' while we've been here. I became symptomatic on Boxing Day and have been poorly ever since. Spouse felt a bit tired and 'under the weather' for a few days, but is doing much better since) is... well, a lot of things from the relatives who lived 100 years ago is beginning to make more and more sense.

In other 'at-home' and social/family history news, my spouse discovered in April last year that it turns out that he/she (his/her preferred pronoun) is non-binary. This has given us some fairly unique things to think about in the context of our family history and genealogy, not least, we had to work out how to express his/her life in a way that online and computer based genealogy 'understands'.
we also welcomed two new members to the family this year, with the babies of a first cousin, and our nibling (is anyone else always tempted to write 'nibbling' too? ...or is that just me?).

I did also very nearly finish my 4 gen study - twice! First time round, our computer died and took my project with it. When I recreated it, I found that, in my sleepy, late nights approach (when will I learn?!), I did, recreate the project, but completely forgot about the research log, so I'm currently about half way through just re-doing it over again, as guessing on the log feels like cheating, so I'm starting from scratch. I've also changed my focus person from my maternal Great-Grandmother, to my Grandmother (yes, I have been on this assignment so long, that a whole new generation is eligible). With any luck, I will have that finished pretty soon (famous last words) and then it's just that licensing exam to sit. Perhaps this year. If our country ever becomes more realistic and less eugenicist in its outlook, so that it becomes safe to go out.

In recent activity though, we found another genetic cousin through one of the various facebook genealogy & DNA groups. It's looking like he and I are very probably 6th cousins once removed, but that depends on us tying my Catherine (only ever Catherine in her docs so far, and I'm not 100% settled on her parents yet), to his 'Kate', who is similarly always 'Kate' everywhere that he's found. It seems like a sound logical progression, but our DNA holds us closer (around the 4th cousin range), so there is an interesting thing to investigate there, because on our side at least, there's a possible sideways, double-related thing going on in this area of the tree, so that also requires some closer investigation.

There was also the very cool finding of all 4 of my grandparents (for the first possible time) in the 1921 census, and more information on their families (especially one GGF's extremely cool job!).

As with other years, my enthusiasm is high again. What remains to be seen is how much time there will be for genealogy & family history this year among other work. I still would rather be a slow and steady genealogist for the most part, than rush, because I know where that gets me (and we're not one of those families who can dash something off and it just works. Some of us, me especially, are cursed when it comes to anything administrative).

26th January was my 4 year blogiversary. Since I didn't do my customary look forward and back recently, I figured it's best to look cumulatively across the whole lifetime of the blog and see what's still outstanding, plus I have a couple ideas of directions I want to take the research this year if time allows.

Previous & New Targets (Oldest to Newest):

2022 and beyond...

Update the paper tree when all the online ones are fixed
Yeah, that's probably a never-never task, though I did at least design a frame I could keep it in, so that we could wall mount it and still have access to make updates, so that might be somewhere in the next couple years' projects.

Sit Licensing Exam
Still working at that. Fingers crossed!

The 'Bad Billy' Book

Solve the Spencer-side mystery

NEW: I want to aim for at least one post a month this year, but it's a compassionate goal, so I'm totally claiming this one for January (because who's to say we're not part Timelord anyhow?!).

Push forward with the DNA side of things. Try and place some more relatives.
That second draft didn't work out either. I did, with the help of a lovely researcher in Australia, and a very helpful gentleman at 'Trove', plug one or two holes in the story, but really, what's needed at this point is: I either need to come up with an Edition 1 and just get it done, or I need to find some (legitimate!) way to access the Windsor Castle Archive and look over a particular document that exists only there.
It feels like one of these is more achievable than the other, but in all honesty, I'm not sure which just now.

Still no nearer on that one. Hopefully something gives somewhere soon.

I've learnt that despite the best of intentions, I'm not great at follow through on the consistent blog challenges (not least because the platform shouts at me and makes threats at me periodically, and I don't have a clue how to placate it), so compassionate goals are going to have to be the order of business.
That said, claiming this one, I have 1 out of 12, so that's 8.3% success, right? ...Ever an optimist!
I also have a few ideas up my sleeve for future posts, but if anyone has some fabulous 
inspiration they want to share (with credit of course), I'd love to hear them! I've learnt over the lifetime of the blog so far, that coming up with something that would be interesting to anyone outside of our family (and in all honesty, sometimes only the fellow genealogy-nut relations) is the biggest challenge.
I am currently working on a non-traditional version of the Leeds method to try to crack some of spouse's DNA matches, so perhaps there's a post in that, if it won't bore the pants off people?

I currently have all 32 3rd-GGPs identified, so locating relatives up to 4th cousins is doable, and in most cases, there's a fair chance at placing a 5th cousin (though of course, our twin factor on certain lines does create some interesting effects). Out of 64 4th-GGPs though, I currently only have a firm handle on 40, plus 2 halves, so that makes the 6th cousin range a little more spotty, which is a shame when most of my matches coming up are smack-dab in that range. If we're talking 'faerie wand' type year, I'd love to firm up and figure out who the other 22 and 2 halves are.

So, that's about the shape of it at the moment.
How about you? How's your new calendar shaping up for this year's genealogy adventures?