A historical visit to Oxford

From town to gown, Oxford has a history both of artistic and academic merit, and of surprising turbulence, as Nell Darby explores. The city of dreaming spires, Oxford is a beautiful yet compact city. From the circular architecture of the Radcliffe Camera and the Sheldonian theatre, to the pastel-coloured houses on the High Street, there … Read more

The history of penmaking around Britain

Colin Waters explores Britain’s penmaking industry, particularly associate with Birmingham. Vast fortunes were once made from manufacturing the humble pen nib. For example, Josiah Mason and Joseph Gilliot, from Sheffield, came from poor uneducated backgrounds but went on to make their fortunes in the trade. Mason used his fortune for philanthropic purposes, including founding Birmingham … Read more

How to get the best from The National Archives

Do you find TNA’s online resources sometimes complex to use? Simon Fowler offers reassurance and guidance on where to find the records you need. If you are going to use the records held by The National Archives (TNA) – and this is almost inevitable if your ancestor are English and Welsh, and quite possible if … Read more

A historical trip to Swansea

Nell Darby looks at the maritime and inland history of Dylan Thomas’s ‘ugly, lovely town’. Swansea has often had to fight off negative comparisons to its big brother, Cardiff, which benefits from its status as the Welsh capital city. Even its most famous son, poet and playwright Dylan Thomas, had mixed emotions about his birthplace, describing … Read more

Researching the Swing Rioters

Angela Buckley shares how to find out if your rural ancestors took part in the Swing Riots. Life was tough at the turn of the 19th century and many working families struggled to survive, especially in the countryside. Most of us have ‘ag labs’ in our family tree and in 1830, their increasingly difficult living … Read more

The miners of Mostyn

The Gittins family were well established in Mostyn, north Wales, where they mined coal. But what would they do when their mine closed? By Rick Kitson.  Mining in Mostyn has taken place since 1261, and it has always been a dangerous occupation. As well as the risk of the underground workings collapsing, throughout the last … Read more

Trace your Isles of Scilly ancestors

By Anne Corlett. These islands just off the coast of Cornwall are part of England, but they do have their own genealogical challenges. The census and civil registration records are part of the England and Wales data sets, and can be viewed online at any site that holds these sources. The island’s parish registers are … Read more

Exploring the heritage of Stirlingshire

From Roman walls to battlefields, this central part of Scotland has a wealth of history to explore. By Nell Darby. Stirlingshire, in the west midlands of Scotland, borders Perthshire to the north and Lanarkshire to the south. The county town of Stirling was one of the principal royal strongholds of the Scottish kingdom, and was … Read more

Dark tourism, darker history: exploring museums of crime

If you want to know more about your criminal ancestors, there are an increasing number of museums catering to your needs, as Nell Darby explores. Dark tourism is the act of travelling to sites that are associated with death, tragedy or crime. As such, dark tourism has been increasingly analysed by academics, drawing parallels between … Read more

Tracing your Isle of Man ancestors

The Isle of Man has many useful sources, and both online and traditional research techniques have their place in tracking down Manx forebears, writes Anne Corlett. Manx family history research is a relatively straightforward undertaking when compared with other regions. The island’s small population (fewer than 30,000 residents in the early 1800s) means that there are … Read more