A Recognition Long Due

The French Government has awarded several thousand World War II veterans who took part in the liberation of France the rank of Chevalier (knight) of the Legion d’Honneur and its accompanying medal. The Legion d’Honneur is France’s highest military honor and is in recognition of the selfless heroism that was displayed during the Normandy landings and the wider campaign in liberating France. French President, Francoise … Continue reading A Recognition Long Due

Eliza Fenning – a Nineteenth Century Poisoner?

     The case of Eliza (or Elizabeth) Fenning caused much debate in 1815.  Eliza was a domestic servant, aged twenty, who was accused of poisoning her employer, Robert Turner, and two other members of his family, with arsenic laced dumplings.  She vehemently denied this and claimed that she had eaten the meal and was subsequently sick.  She was arrested and sent for trial at … Continue reading Eliza Fenning – a Nineteenth Century Poisoner?

The ‘Black Boy’of the Philanthropic Society

This article was first published on history@kingston, February 2015 So much of London’s fascinating black history is hidden from the historical record, so when I noticed the phrase ‘Black Boy’ written in the minutes of the Philanthropic Society during research for my recent MA dissertation on juvenile delinquency and philanthropy in the late eighteenth century, I was intrigued.  It was the first time that I … Continue reading The ‘Black Boy’of the Philanthropic Society

The Man-Midwife in the 18th Century

Midwifery in the eighteenth-century was transformed from a female-centric activity, with cultural and ritualistic practices, to an environment which saw the customary hegemonic female midwife relinquish her control of the lying-in chamber to the man-midwife.  With the exception of dire emergencies, childbirth before the eighteenth century traditionally precluded men during the processes of labour, delivery and lying-in. Lying-in lasted a month post-childbirth and was devoted … Continue reading The Man-Midwife in the 18th Century

The Hidden History of British Post Boxes

For 160 years we have been posting our mail into pillar, wall and lamp boxes, but how many of us actually look at the box in which we post our mail?  Do we pay attention to the royal ciphers that denote the age of the box?  Or know the impact of momentous historical events that directly affect the letter boxes on our streets?  Post boxes, … Continue reading The Hidden History of British Post Boxes

Snapshot of Family History

My maternal grandparents, William and Anne Gray, had eight children, three born in Drogheda, Ireland and five in Liverpool, England.  My grandfather died in 1941, leaving my grandmother a widow for 54 years.  One by one, all their children left home and started their own families.  My uncles Johnny, Harry and Eddie and my auntie Mary, all settled in Australia.  Of the remaining four, two … Continue reading Snapshot of Family History

Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 2

In Part 1 I discussed my use of archives while researching my family history, describing how digital archives were the catalyst for my research in various archives in Britain and Ireland spanning several years.  With ten years’ archival research behind me, I decided to study for a history degree.  Those years were invaluable to me, as I headed into the archives within weeks of starting … Continue reading Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 2

Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 1

 I began my family tree research in my late teens.  I sat down with my father and listed all family members past and present that he could remember.  Still only eighteen, I moved from Merseyside to Wimbledon and bought a copy of Tracing Your Family Tree, by Jean Cole and Michael Armstrong.  I was ideally placed to visit the capital’s repositories, but then hit a … Continue reading Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 1

The Dilemma of a Rookie Blogger

What topic should my first blog post explore?  It’s quite a conundrum; do I introduce myself and my rationale for beginning a blog, or post something immediately to grab readers’ attentions?  I’ve decided to start with the former and hope the words will flow.  I studied history at Kingston University as a mature student, and gained a first-class degree, followed by a Master’s.   But do … Continue reading The Dilemma of a Rookie Blogger