A review: Who do you think you are

Now that the latest series of who do you think you are has finished, ten more celebrities let us into their historical lives. For me it is a factual series I look forward to because as someone who does their own genealogy, it inspires me to look into areas I would not normally in my own tree. I find that some of the stories resonate in my own tree and I think this is the similar situation for others that do their own genealogy.

The celebrities for this season were in the order of appearance:

  1. Danny Dyer
  2. Amanda Holden
  3. Liz Bonnin
  4. Cheryl
  5. Ricky Tomlinson
  6. Sir Ian McKellen
  7. Greg Davies
  8. Warwick Davis
  9. Sunetra Sarker
  10. Sophie Raworth

I did find most of the stories fascinating. Especially Amanda Holden, Liz Bonnin and Sunetra Sarker because of their ancestors having their stories that took them to other countries. I loved Amanda’s enthusiasm for the vineyard. What really stood out was Liz’s journey to the Caribbean and the links and history I personally learnt about life in the Caribbean at that time. Former series have had celebrities trace their ancestry to India, but it is always a story I love to hear and that was the case with Sunetra. I loved the story of how she was the first to return to a village where her ancestors lived.

I think those that stood out was the enthusiasm and passion they had which for home-grown stories, I adored Sir Ian McKellen, mainly because it was based in Manchester and the North West of England which is where I am from. It was nice to see a piece of my own local history that I was not fully aware of.

One that did have twists and turns was Greg Davies’ episode. For me he is a comedian who I have never really watched or taken to. However I thought I would give it a go and I was not disappointed. With the twists of village life in rural north Wales and how everyone talks and it showed the social importance of life back then. It showed how reputation mattered and the taboo’s that were not accepted that are now. I found Greg’s immersion of getting to know these ancestors of his, really brought the story of his ancestors to life.

I had the same impression for Danny Dyer as I did with Greg Davies. Again I was not disappointed. His humour and shock was value enough for me. When finding out his connections to royalty and his facial and verbal reactions were great. As I have had those moments myself where you have an OH MY WORD!!! gasp of excitement and unbelievable shock. That is what I really caught my attention with this episode.

As an aspiring journalist and a fan of Sophie Raworth was someone I was looking forward to. I loved that she was already going in with a lot of knowledge already and those photographs were beautiful. Like many of us we have gone down the wrong route, as did she but found out they were a relation to her but not directly. Which for us who research lines it can happen a few times. As it has with me when I thought I had relations in Australia. I do, just from a completely different family unit and side of the family.

Although there were some that did disappoint me. I found that the Cheryl episode was okay in looking at mariners as an occupation as well as looking at World War One (which are stories I always love to hear). But personally I could not take to her as I felt she lacked something, whether it was the enthusiasm or that I had been spoilt beforehand with previous episodes, unfortunately I tried but I could not get into it.

Ricky Tomlinson for me came across as rather aggressive and I was angry at him for being so angry. Then again we all act in different ways to history especially when it is personal. I loved the social history to Liverpool and how life was with it being a busy port outside of London.

Warwick Davis I don’t know, I enjoyed it in a way with the musical aspects as I have a theatre musician in my family tree. But it was Warwick’s humour that really came into it all. For me I did not enjoy it compared to the others. Although for others they could have been their favourite.

One thing I did learn to go forward in my research is how I undervalued newspaper articles and how they give valuable information, especially with obituaries. I have used them a little before, but in the future more of newspapers will be used.

It was a series I thoroughly enjoyed and it is the names that attract the numbers to watch the programme. For me I find is useful for inspiration to look in new places for information.






What is in a name?

Our name is never our own. It is something that was decided for us at birth. Unless you change your name by deed poll. More often than not we keep out first names. But when it comes to our surnames it is something that is centuries old. The interesting question is where did surnames come from?

Surnames really became prominent when people started to move geographically from the small village a family had been for generations to a new town or area. This was where surnames really came into use.

Surnames are a sign of identification, even more so back then. They originate from an occupation, the son of their father, a specific place they lived as well.

Names like Smith, Cooper, Miller originate from the job they did of blacksmith, cooper and a miller.

Names like Williamson, Johnson, Harrison are sons of William, John and Harry.

Names like Markham and Leatherbarrow are based on where someone lived. Markham is meaning a boundary + ham as a homestead. Leatherbarrow is lair by the wood, that is done by breaking down the word from Old English and Norse combined.

Like a lot of surnames they originate from Old English, Norse. Welsh, Irish, Scottish and Gaelic have their own translations and variations. Other languages may have different reasons for surnames in translation.

For example my surname is Parry, which originates from North Wales and means son of Harry (Henry). Similar to the Harris and Harrison in English.

For all the reasons mentioned above, it is why two people could have the surname Smith and not ever be related due to the centuries ancestral reasons of having a blacksmith in a particular village way back in history.

Always essential in researching family trees is to double-check the location.

Solving the riddle of Sarah

On my last post about trying to find the missing pieces I discussed on trying to figure out who Sarah Pritchard was on an 1871 census I had found.

Well I finally figured out who she was. Whilst looking on a family research website of Find My Past, I was browsing newspaper articles to see if there were any references to a Frederick Pritchard, or any Pritchard in the Stalybridge/Dukinfield area where the Pritchard family resided. With a bit of luck I noticed a Frederick Pritchard mentioned as part of a marriage announcement with a Sarah Clayton. The article had a date of 23rd March 1876.

I decided to double-check the information date wise through another research website I use looking at Cheshire’s birth, marriages and deaths. As Ashton, Stalybridge and Dukinfield come under Tameside, the records for this area are on the Cheshire website.

Furthermore I looked into the dates of 1876 with Frederick Pritchard without putting Sarah’s name into the search box. Once pressing search there was a result of Frederick Pritchard marrying Sarah Clayton in 1876. Just like the article had said!

I was happy! The reason was that this information fitted into the 1871 census, as well as his second wife my twice great-grandmother died the same year. So therefore all the pieces seemed to fit into place.

Through a bit of luck and double checking I found out where the pieces fitted into this big jigsaw of my family tree.