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Welcome to the Christmas 2012 Edition of the FFHS Ezine                                                        No 36


Start your Family Tree Week

Some of our Favourite Websites

Special Christmas Giveaways

Christmas Book Giveaways

Gift Ideas

NBI3 for Apple Macs

MyHeritage and Geni.com

Could you be the Person we are Looking for?

Family History Day, Cheshire

Wassailing the Apple Trees

Carol Singing

The Yule Log

Twelfth Night

Book Reviews

Diary Dates

Advertise with us

Competition Winners

Holly Sprig

We would like to wish our readers a Happy Christmas and New Year

Holly SprigWelcome to this special Christmas edition of the FFHS Ezine.  There is no spotlight feature in this issue however this will return as usual in the January Ezine.  Christmas is not too far away and if you are looking for some great websites or some ideas for presents (for yourself or someone else), this issue should hopefully inspire you.  Why not enter for one of our fantastic giveaways – you might win something special for Christmas but hurry as the closing date is 16 December 2012 for all of our giveaways!

Holly SprigStart Your Family Tree WeekStart your Family Tree week

Start Your Family Tree Week is nearly here again! Boxing Day marks the start of this annual event and from 19 December onwards you can visit findmypast.co.uk to find out more about the activities happening on their site this year between Christmas and New Year. As usual, there’ll be lots of free resources to help people research their family history, including downloadable guides on how to interview your relatives and charts to help you record your findings. This year, for the first time, you’ll also have the opportunity to watch online past episodes of the hit television show Find My Past and there’ll be a fun family history quiz each day for you to pit your wits against. Follow findmypast UK on Facebook and Twitter to join in with their Brick Wall Breakdown Challenge and sign up to their newsletter at findmypast.co.uk for details of special offers. See below for a special giveaway from findmypast.co.uk.

Holly SprigSome of our Favourite Websites FFHSLogo

We would like to share some of our favourite websites with you and hope you enjoy the variety and looking at them over the festive season:

David Holman, Chairman - A site that I use a lot is IMDb - Internet Movie Database. IMDb allows you to search for films (movies), TV programs and series as well as actors, actresses and much more. If you have an iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android or similar web-enabled handheld device you can pop into the page whilst watching TV or even at the cinema and see who is who as well as filming locations, trivia and goofs.

Malcolm Austen – There are two websites I have found useful both for windows users.  Give-away of the Day has daily give-away editions of useful software - of course not everyone will find every day useful but I have acquired some useful stuff, and some not-so-useful that has been quickly uninstalled!  Another is PortableApps, a system for running lots of good (free) software from a memory stick so you can carry a 'personal working environment' around with you and run it on any available windows machine. Software available includes Firefox, Thunderbird, Libre Office, and many others.

Steve Benson - I recommend the Lancashire Online Parish Clerk's website. The website uses the old Lancashire boundaries so includes the Greater Manchester area. Volunteers have (and still are) transcribing the parish records for the county of Lancashire.  It is steadily growing and it is free to use.

Francis Howcutt – I recommend Burton Latimer – A Sense of Place (Burton Latimer Heritage Society). This is not specifically a "family history” website, but its contents are of interest even if your family do not come from the vicinity of this small town in Northamptonshire. It is a model of how to arrange a local history website and stock it with a wide range of material.

Marian French Roll of Honour is dedicated to those men and women who fell fighting for their country. Recorded here are various war memorials within a variety of counties.

David Lambert – I have chosen two websites. Kirkby Malham is a site with links to the Malhamdale Local History Group.  It is full of useful information about the area, with maps and pictures plus projects by the society.  Another website is the Black Country Living Museum which is very useful for searching the Dudley, Tipton and Sedgeley areas.

Philippa McCray -My choice is the Charles Booth Online Archive. This website allows access to archive material from The Booth collection at the London School of Economics which includes original records from Booth's survey into life and labour in London (1886-1903). Digitised images of pages from the original survey notebooks can give a fascinating insight into what the streets were like, the state of the properties, and even the folk who lived there with general comment as to whether they were considered trouble or not!! A great resource for anyone with London ancestors.

Elizabeth Owen - My website for 2012 is Ashtead Residents.  Whilst being in existence for some time, over the last year the website has transformed into a very informative website of local information with something for everyone. The site is clear, easily navigated and regularly updated.

David Smetham- I would recommend UKBMD/CHESHIRE BMD.  This is a free website with information delivered by volunteers, correcting errors in the civil registration indexes. You may find some entries whch are missing from the GRO indexes. The UK BMD website has links to other counties in England and Wales.

Karin Thompson - Am Baile, is an amazing website covering the culture and history of the Scottish Highlands in both Gaelic and English. Even for those with no family interests in the area there is such a wealth of material that I feel sure everyone can find something entertaining.

Rob White - My favourite website of 2012 is a reminder of what can be achieved by a disparate group of people working together with a common purpose: - Lloyd George Domesday Survey of Land Values: Gloucestershire. This website contains the results to date of a county-wide project in Gloucestershire being undertaken by volunteers, led by Anthea Jones.  It includes a wealth of detail and contains invaluable information useful for family, local & community historians alike. LGDS source material is also available for many other English counties, some at the TNA and some at County Record Offices.

Holly Sprig


Special Christmas Giveaways


3 x A 3 month world subscription to findmypast.co.uk



We have a special Christmas giveaway from findmypast.co.uk. This is not available on the website so the winners will have the only 3 month world subscription in existence.  To enter answer the following question, “When does ‘Start your Family Tree Week’ begin?” Send an email with your answer in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 16 December 2012.

Holly SprigWe have 10 pairs of tickets generously donated by Trident Shows which can be used at one of their spring shows. The Creative Craft Shows make a perfect day out. Visit their website to find a show near you. To enter this draw send an email with'Trident' in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 16 December 2012

Creative Crafts Show

Holly Sprig

Christmas Book Giveaways

Our first book is “The Victorian Christmas” by Anna Selby, kindly donated by Pen and Sword who have a wide range of books. Please visit their website to find an ideal Christmas present or stocking filler. If you are stuck for ideas, visit our New Books Review page to read reviews on recent publications.

To enter the draw for this book, send an email with “Victorian” in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 16 December 2012.

The Victorian Christmas
Christmas Collectibles


We have “Christmas Collectibles” by Tracy Martin, kindly donated by Pen and Sword. To enter the draw for this book, send an email to competitions@ffhs.org.uk with “collectible” in the subject line to before 16 December 2012.


The next book is “The History of Christmas Food & Feasts” by Claire Hopley, kindly donated by Pen and Sword.  To enter the draw for this book, send an email with “feasts” in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 16 December 2012.



The History of Christmas Food and Feasts


Holly SprigFinally we have a copy of "The Genealogist's Internet" by Peter Christian to giveaway. To enter this draw send an email with 'genealogists' in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 16 December 2012. This book was kindly donated by Bloomsbury Publishing. Please visit their website to find a wide range of books.


Genealogist's Internet

Holly SprigSome Gift Ideas

Looking for inspiration for a last minute Christmas gift or stocking filler? Can’t face the shops? A voucher to findmypast.co.uk could be the answer. Visit their website for further details.

If you are stuck for ideas, visit our New Books Review page to read reviews on recent publications.

If you are interested in purchasing books to assist in your family history or genealogical research a good selection is available on the FFHS Services Company website.

Pharos Teaching and Tutoring offer a range of family history courses which could make an ideal Christmas present. Visit their website to view the courses they offer.

Holly SprigNBI3 for Apple Macs

FFHS Services Ltd is pleased to announce the National Burial Index, Edition 3 (NBI3) can now be run on Apple Mac computers.  You will need to load software, such as Apples Bootcamp, Microsoft Parallels or Vmware’s Fusion 4  to enable the Apple Mac Operating System  to emulate Windows.  It also requires a licensed copy of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 to be mounted on the computer prior to loading up the NBI3 program. . However, it was felt vitally important that the NBI3 should not be excluded from operating in any environment.The NBI3 CD features more than 18.4 million burial records covering 1538-2008, taken from Anglican, Nonconformist, Quaker, Roman Catholic and cemetary burial registers throughout England and Wales.  The database is not complete and remains a work in progress.  For further details, coverage and how to order, please visit the website.



Holly SprigMyHeritage

MyHeritage has bought Geni.com taking their global network to 72 million registered users; and 27 million family trees containing 1.5 billion profiles. As a larger community, the users of MyHeritage and Geni.com will now receive matches with the family trees of the other website, and MyHeritage’s Smart Matching and Record Matching technologies will benefit the Geni.com users, who will get access to historical records never available before on Geni.com. The services of MyHeritage and Geni.com will initially run independently. MyHeritage plans to give respective users the option to collaborate on family history research by enabling two-way information flows between the sites that will facilitate new family discoveries and provide greater value to the users of both services.



Holly SprigCould you be the person we are looking for?FFHS Logo

The FFHS is managed by a small group of trustees with part-time administrative assistance provided by contractors. The trustees meet five times per year, usually in London and in addition are expected to attend two further meetings one of which is the Annual General Meeting. The trustees are ‘working’ trustees and are expected to take an active ‘hands on’ role within the organisation. Trustees are unpaid but reasonable travel and subsistence expenses are paid where appropriate. The Board is seeking additional trustees and welcomes enquiries from individuals who would be interested in taking on the role of Treasurer following the retirement of our current Treasurer at our AGM in 2013 and the role of Communications Officer. In both cases it is expected that applicants will have an interest in family history. Deadline for expressions of interest and to request further information by 31st December 2012, to: David Lambert, Company Secretary or by post to FFHS Registered Office, Artillery House, 15 Byrom Street, Manchester M3 4PF.

Holly SprigThe Family History Society of Cheshire is holding a Family History Day on Saturday 16 February 2013 10am to 4pm, at the Memorial Hall, Northwich Cheshire.  There will be plenty of stalls and displays with family history societies and help desks.   Refreshments will be available and ample free parking.    


 Wassailing the Apple Trees

The South West of England is renowned for its cider apples and in many parts the tradition of wassailing the apple trees on Twelfth Night continues.  It can vary from place to place but it is usually carried out at dusk when a toast is sung to the trees. The drink used for the toast was usually Lambswool - an old type of hot punch. Then a lot of noise is made either by firing guns or bashing drums or pots and pans to drive away any evil spirits and awaken the trees to ensure a good harvest in the coming year.  It isn’t certain how far back this tradition goes but it was certainly performed in Anglo Saxon times.  It is also performed in some parts of the USA.

Carol Singing has some roots in wassailing.  Songs were sung at feasts and celebrations and it wasn’t until around the 14th century carols were sung in churches.  The wassailers went from door to door singing carols and carrying the wassail bowl. In medieval times it was an exchange between the lord of the manor and the peasants where the lord would give food and drink in return for their goodwill.  Some of our best known carols are much older than we think.  The First Noel is thought to have originated in the 13th century but the earliest published carol is the Boars Head Carol in 1521.

The Yule Log
Not many of us have a fireplace big enough to accommodate a yule log these days.  A large log would be chosen and decorated before being lit on Christmas Eve.  The log then had to stay burning throughout the whole twelve days of Christmas otherwise bad luck would fall on the household.  The tradition is thought to have Viking origins.  The Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, still has a ceremony where the Yule log is sprinkled with wine and oil and lit with a cinder from the previous year.

Twelfth Night was known for its revelry and until around the 1850s in England was considered to be the Wassailing GH Edwards 1885most entertaining night of the festive season.  Shakespeare’s play of the same title was written for this night.  On Twelfth Night a Lord of Misrule was chosen to supervise the celebration and everything was turned upside down – a peasant ruled and the Lord of the Manor would become a peasant.  It lasted until midnight when normal order resumed and this marked the end of the winter festival.  The tradition of the Lord of Misrule goes back to the Roman festival of Saturnalia.

If you have family members around over the festive season, this is an ideal time to ask about their memories. Perhaps begin by asking how they used to spend their Christmas and New Year celebrations. One of my elderly relatives remembers how the family would all gather in one of their houses, someone would play the piano and they would all sing along. This is from a lady whose grandfather was born in 1836 so with her memories, I have reached far back into my family’s traditions.

Traditions have to begin somewhere so why not introduce something of your own this year?  A tradition which could only have begun in modern times is listening to the carol service from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve which was first broadcasted in 1930.  Perhaps make some gingerbread tree decorations with your children or grandchildren and decorate them with icing. Or wrap up warm and go for a walk and blow away the cobwebs.  The National Trust website has a list of its gardens which are open over the festive season.

Holly Sprig"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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The FFHS Ezine has a current readership of over 14,500 worldwide. To discuss sponsorship or advertising, please email
Ezine Editor Samantha Bourne

Book Reviews

To read reviews of recently published books of interest to family historians

visit our Book Review Page

Ezine Competition Winners

A full list of Ezine competition winners can be seen on the FFHS website.

Results from the November issue no.35 will appear in the January Ezine

view competition winners

Diary Dates

The Bracknell Family History Fair, Bracknell, Berks, 27 January 2013
The Creative Crafts Show, Five Lakes Resort, Nr. Tiptree, Essex 14-16 February 2013
Family History Society of Cheshire Annual Fair, Northwich, Cheshire 16 February 2013
WDYTYA?LIVE, Olympia, London 22-24 February 2013
The Creative Crafts Show, Malvern, Three Counties Showground 28 Feb-2 March 2013

For a list of events visit our Events Page on our website and GENEVA