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Family Tree Researcher News Archive 2011

Have done some more housekeeping on the site, and archived family tree news updates for 2011 into this archive. (Follow this link for the latest family tree news.)

Family Tree News 10 December 2011

Two more website updates this week. Many thanks to Andy for providing useful info about his family member Alfred Kershaw who worked at a Jewellers in Spon End and was killed during the Blitz. Also, I would like to thank Megan for sharing her memories of war-torn Coventry. Follow the link to read her story.

On a different note, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the latest issue of the Coventry Family History Society which is just out. Head on over to if you are interested in joining up.

Family Tree News 03 December 2011

Have you considered purchasing one of my family tree gift certificates as a splendid Christmas gift for a loved one? These can be cashed in after Christmas Day to commence research into the family history of the lucky recipient. Contact me for details.

Between now and Christmas I am working hard completing existing research projects for Christmas presents, so if you wish to place an order now I will be happy to start work for you in January.

Thanks to Barbara B from Austrailia who got in touch regarding the old occupation of Tripe Boiler. My husband has now added it to the Dictionary of Old Occupations.

Thanks also to the various people who sent me info this week regarding the Coventry Blitz. I will add these to the site shortly.

Family Tree News 27 November 2011

You may have heard me on BBC local radio earlier this week. I was on Bob Brolly’s show discussing the importance of learning about history and whether it should be taught in schools with the same prominence and English and Maths. I had a nice time, Bob is friendly, cheery sort of chap though I am not sure he was convinced to change his opinion! Thanks for having me on the show Bob, it was a pleasure.

Family Tree News 20 November 2011

Have been very busy researching family tree projects for everyone over the last couple of months. In the run up to Christmas I am focussed on making sure that all the family tree gifts are ready, and 2011 certainly has been a busy year! To make this happen less time has been available for updates to the various resources on my website, in case you are wondering why my updates have been slower recently.

Author Trevor Harkin has been in touch regarding recent resurfacing work at the site of the Coventry Blitz memorial at London Road Cemetery, which is the location of the mass grave of blitz victims.

An article in the local newspaper bore a headline about the resurfacing work "Mass grave for Coventry blitz victims turned into 'car park'". From what I read and from the photo it appears the site has been tarmaced over. The article goes on to say that the new surface is already crumbling with chunks breaking away at the edges. This all seems out of keeping with the location and significance of the memorial, where we honour the memory and sacrifice of the fallen.

Family Tree News 25 October 2011

Whilst trawling through census records this week I came across an old occupation called Bullion Pearler. Seems to be a misspelling of Bullion Purler, referring to the sort of decorative trim we see today at the bottom of sofas. An unusual specialist occupation which I have added to my Dictionary.

The new 2012 version of Family Tree Maker is out. This year’s update builds upon the enhancements found in the 2011 version with improved reports and the new Tree Sync feature for synchronising your family tree data with Ancestry.

Family Tree Maker is excellent software, and while the 2012 version seems like a minor update compared to last year I would heartily recommend it to anyone using an old version, and especially to anyone just getting started in their family tree research project and looking to buy the best software at a fair price.

Family Tree News 16 October 2011

The annual Blitz Remembrance Service is fast approaching. It will take place at 3pm on Sunday 13th November at London Road Cemetery, Coventry. I would like to thank Coventry Bereavement Services for letting us know the details.

The busy season is upon me once again, and I am now working on family tree projects as Christmas gifts for loved ones. We did, however, find time this week to update the website in response to a couple of queries from people who looked me up in Yellow Pages or similar because they had difficulty using the email links on my site. I now have a new web page on the site which provides two different ways of getting in touch with me online regarding family tree research.

Family Tree News 09 October 2011

Looks like a new 2012 version of the excellent Family Tree Maker will be available on or around October 14th. Early information indicates there may be three versions: Deluxe, Platinum and World editions. More info about these soon.

Family Tree News 25 September 2011

Hope you are enjoying series 8 of Who Do You Think You Are? This week we have UK daytime TV celebrity Richard Madeley finding out about the part his great grandfather played in fighting between New England colonists and Native Americans in Rhode Island.

I should like to thank Peter who got in touch last week with a correction in the data about his half sister Gretna Edwina Elliot on my Coventry Blitz Victims pages. As is often the case families have more accurate historical information than official records, so many thanks Peter for the update.

Also, author Jayne Shrimpton has been in touch this week with news about her new website. Jayne is an expert at dating old family photos and has written two great books on the subject.

Family Tree News 11 September 2011

Thanks this week to Sally M, who got in touch regarding details about her Great Uncle in a page on First World War burials in the 'Coventry At War' section of my site. It is great when people share more accurate family history info than provided by public records. I am more than happy to update data, or include related anecdotes or photos that family members wish to share.

The Dictionary Of Old Occupations had a significant update this week. About 20 census occupation definitions have been added to the site, and some existing definitions updated. We are very grateful to Richard W who sent me a list of occupational titles and descriptions from the Barnsley area (many of which were mining related) which he researched for publication in his local Family History Society journal. After checking into all these my husband and I were delighted to write up some dictionary definitions and share all this additional info with you via my site.

Last reminder - For those living nearby there are still a few hours left to head into Coventry and enjoy the Heritage Weekend events!

All the best

Family Tree News 03 September 2011

Ingrid B sent me some information about the old occupation of Pitcher, and Spike M emailed with info about the old occupation of Tisserand. Having checked these out both have been added to the free online Dictionary of Old Occupations. Many thanks to both of you for getting in touch.

Ingrid was initially prompted to get in touch after hearing the term Pitcher on a TV show, where it was used to describe a type of porter who carried meat goods into market overnight. If anyone has evidence to confirm this then it would be great if you got in touch so we can expand the definition.

Also of note this week is that Colin Water’s excellent reference book 'A Dictionary of Old Trades, Titles and Occupations' has just been released as a Kindle ebook. It makes a great alternative to my own work – it is bigger but somewhat pricier. As I have mentioned before, the only reason I do not own a copy myself is so that it did not influence my own work.

Family Tree News 31 August 2011

The Coventry Family History Society website has had a facelift. I am biased of course (I helped a bit) but I think the new look and feel are great! Check it out here:

We currently have a small backlog of old occupations to process. Am aiming to review these shortly (i.e. in the next week or two) and confirm their accuracy before adding them to the site. Thanks to everyone who sent me info to expand the old occupations definitions.

Family Tree News 21 August 2011

In response to a query from Liz I am looking for evidence regarding the old occupation of Plod Weaver, possibly spelt as Plodweaver. My current thinking is that this is a textile industry occupation (obviously), but the query is whether 'plod' refers to a person operating a loom via their feet, or whether it is a spelling variation on ‘plaid’, describing the fabric.

This occupational title may be a regional term. Liz found it in parish registers for Gt Harwood, LAN near Blackburn. Please get in touch with me if you have any information to share regarding Plod Weavers. If we can crack this one it will help Liz out, and can also be added to my Dictionary of Old Occupations to assist fellow family tree enthusiasts.

Secondly, many thanks to Anita for the lovely flowers she sent me after we researched her husband's family tree as a present for his birthday. The flowers were a wonderful surprise and look beautiful.

Family Tree News 19 August 2011

Just a short note to aplogise to a person who shares the same name as the author of a book removed by for infringing my copyright works. To avoid causing grief for an innocent chap who happens to share the same name as that person I have removed all references to the person's name from my site / blog. The nine emails received on this subject today seemed a bit OTT though - a polite request would have sufficed :-)

Family Tree News 14 August 2011

Phew! Having returned from a summer holiday I am now back at work and busily researching a variety of family trees. Of specific interest this week I have been going through late 19th century workhouse records for one particular family. Even though a couple of registers were missing I was able to fill in the missing information by looking at the Indoor Relief books.

I would like to thank Ingrid B for supplying me with a couple of suggested additions to the Dictionary of Old Occupations. Whilst doing some volunteer work for FamilySearch, Ingrid came across occupational titles Schoolmistress and Furnace Tender in census records. These have been added to the site, along with Schoolmarm and Schoolmaster.

I have also performed a lengthy spell-checking exercise across Some classic typos from my original family researcher site back in 1995 had somehow been carried forwards, but have finally been sorted. Not an easy task when there are thousands of names and archaic job titles being incorrectly flagged up as errors!

For those interested in local history, Coventry Heritage Weekend is not far off. There will be lots of interesting and educational things to see. On Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September. Heritage Weekend provides a rare opportunity for the general public to visit some of the historic buildings in the city free of charge and is well worth checking out. The Old Grammar School will be open for the first time since 1995, and on Sunday there will be a re-enactment of Mary Ball’s trial. She was a convicted poisoner and became famous (or should that be notorious?) for being the last woman in Coventry to be hanged.

Family Tree News 17 July 2011

It has been a while since I last updated the website because I have been very busy researching family trees for people. I notice an increasing number of Wikipedia entries are citing my website as references within their encyclopaedia articles; these are very welcome as it is nice to be helping people in this way.

I made a little time this weekend to add two occupational definitions to the site. Firstly, in response to a query from Jessica I researched and added a lengthy definition of Zinc Worker, and secondly, I would like to thank Geoff J-Brett for the information he supplied regarding the use of Datallers in coal mining. This has been added to the Dictionary of Old Occupations.

All the best,

Family Tree News 26 June 2011

Found a lovely review of my Family Researcher website this week. Head on over to Illiana Ancestors to see what Joan Griffis has to say about some of my free family tree and blitz research resources.

Thanks for your kind words Joan. And I know what you mean about the spellchecker – mine just could not cope either!

Went to the Coventry Archives this week. As I have said previously, it is great to see them open again, and really helpful as I needed to look up historical Workhouse records. Not everything is back to normal yet, in that some shelves are still bare but the records are safe in the vault and available on request. I suspect they are being cautious due to recent vandalism which resulted in broken windows.

Family Tree News 20 June 2011

Finally, there was a good piece in the Coventry Telegraph this week regarding the reopening of the history centre, and a list of some of the valuable and fascinating old documents they hold – such as a charter from King Henry III, King Edward III and a letter from Anne Boleyn. Great to see things are back to normal, I will be popping in any day now.

Family Tree News 12 June 2011

Good news! The Coventry Archives, aka the Coventry History Centre re-opened on June 9th after having been closed for repairs since before last Christmas. Opening hours for the Archives are 10:30 to 3:30 Tuesday to Saturday.

This week I have been working on a variety of photo family trees for people. It is interesting to see what the ancestors you are researching actually look like. Compared to a traditional family tree document, I often find that a photo family tree has that bit of extra magic, particularly when I unearth old photographs from 70+ years ago. Do remember to ask about photo family trees if you wish to commission me to research your family tree.

Family Tree News 5 June 2011

I have been focussing on researching more details about victims of the Coventry Blitz recently, and publishing the findings on my family tree website this week. If you have the surnames Gaskine, Gibbons, Gillespie or Golder in family trees you are researching then these may be of help.

Family Tree News 29 May 2011

Family tree research has certainly been keeping me busy this week! I found time to add details about members of the Copeland, Cotton and Coulter families to the Coventry Blitz Resource Centre. I was also able to add another photo of a Blitz victim – Alan Hiscocks – kindly supplied by Trevor Harkin.

I had some good news this week; Barnes and Noble are now selling my Dictionary of Old Occupations too. So, if you are a family tree researcher with a Nook then this may interest you. You can find my ebook by searching for either for 'old occupations' or 'Jane Hewitt' on their site, or from this link

Family Tree News 15 May 2011

Author and historian Trevor Harking kindly donated some photographs of victims of the Coventry Blitz who went to Bablake School. If you are researching Farren, Fraser or Worrod family trees then these may be relevant to you.

Trevor has a new book out about the April 1941 air raids on Coventry. I have always been impressed with Trevor's work, and would encourage anyone interested in WW2 or local history to seek out a copy.

Family Tree News 08 May 2011

This week sees some promising news about the possible restoration of Coventry Old Grammar School, a magnificent building and part of Coventry’s heritage which is currently suffering from years of neglect. The Church of England has announced the setting up of a trust fund for this purpose. You can read more about this historical building in my Disappearing Coventry section.

I stopped by the Coventry History Centre (a.k.a. Coventry Archives) this week to check on progress. Busy workmen were to be seen, and the floor looked better than last time. Still no definite opening date though.

I have added new research data to my website regarding the Coventry Blitz. If you are tracing local Hockton, Singer, Shaw, Sims, Sharrocks, Scannell or Sharratt family trees then you may find useful data in the Blitz Victims section of my Coventry Blitz Resource Centre.

Family Tree News 01 May 2011

I would like to give a big thank you to everyone for the supportive comments and nice feedback about our new ebook, the Dictionary of Old Occupations. The kindle version has been most popular so far, but that may change now that Smashwords, who provide the eBook in all other digital formats, have reviewed / quality assessed the book and accepted it into their premium catalogue. This means that it will soon be more widely distributed by organisations such as Barnes and Noble.

Recent family tree research has had me tracing Scottish ancestors back to the early to the early 1800s so far in the Lanarkshire and Ross and Cromarty areas. I have also been tracing English family trees, including one focussing on the Lancashire area which I have managed to research back to 1745. Whilst I have uncovered lots of agricultural workers, my favourite occupation discovered this week was a chap born in 1823 who according to a series of census records spent decades working as a travelling wine and spirit merchant before settling down as a distiller when he got older. You never know what you will uncover when you trace your family tree!

Family Tree News 17 April 2011

Some great news this week. My Dictionary of Old Occupations is now available to purchase for your ebook reader!

Don’t worry, you can still access the full dictionary online free of charge, only from However, for those of you who want to be able to download the dictionary onto your ebook reader to access offline you can now do so legally and cheaply.

You can buy a low cost my Dictionary of Old Occupations from Amazon to use on your Kindle, and it is also available DRM-free from Smashwords in a variety of ebook formats . Enjoy!

Family Tree News 12 April 2011

Been busy working on my Dictionary of Old Occupations this week. Am delighted to announce that I have added in occupational definitions for trades etc. beginning with M and J. That means that the whole alphabet is covered, finally. A huge amount of time and effort has gone into making this free resource, hope you find it useful! I would like to recognise and thank my husband Paul for all his unpaid work on this project too.

The Dictionary of Old Occupations is not finished though. We have hopes and plans to enhance it further. Check in later to see how this progresses!

Stopped by the Coventry Archives yesterday to see how work is progressing on the repairs. It was good to see work actually taking place. We also took the opportunity to visit the Egypt exhibition at the Herbert gallery, well worth stopping by if you are in the area.

All the best, and have a great Easter.

Family Tree News 3 April 2011

I have some good news about the Coventry History Centre. It looks as though, after a lot of waiting, repairs may be about to commence! The good staff at the Herbert told us that building repair work is due to start any day this week.

While there is no definitive timescale, the building work is anticipated to take 3-4 weeks. After that is complete the furniture and equipment will need to be installed, this will take another week or two. Fingers crossed we might have access to our local archives in a couple more months.

Special thanks to Ami at the Herbert for updating us on the state of play.

Family Tree News 27 March 2011

Today is Census Day, so we all have to fill out huge census forms. Some people have valid concerns about the intrusiveness of some questions this time around. As a genealogy enthusiast I hope you can see the value in recording all this personal information which will benefit our descendents when they are researching their own ancestral roots.

The 1911 Scottish Census will be made available to us the public on April 5th this year. Not long to go now, great news for anyone with Scottish ancestry.

Family tree research continues at full pace as always. My spare time this week was spent performing a long overdue housekeeping exercise on the earliest pages I wrote for old occupations beginning with A and B. I am pleased to have updated all 12 of these web pages with additional information to existing definitions, some amendments and clarifications, and to have added several more old occupational titles and their definitions to the dictionary.

The Herbert website still says that the Coventry History Centre (a.k.a. the archives) will reopen in April, but says that the opening date is still unknown. We contacted them for an update, and I will try to stop by to the centre itself to check for notices on the premises. Given the council cutbacks in Coventry we can only hope that they will reopen the archives soon to give us access to records about our heritage. We have been without this facility for several months now.

If you have been trying to contact the Herbert to query the Coventry History Centre reopening then watch out for the broken link on their web page. When you click on the email address it chops off the last few letters so they will not receive your email. You can get around it by copying and pasting the address into an email instead. My husband reported the problem to them today, so hopefully the good people at the Herbert will be able to fix it soon.

Family Tree News 13 March 2011

Have just completed one of my Silver Family Tree packages for a particularly interesting family with a member in the British army serving in India in the late 1860s (a little after the mutiny), and I was able to unravel the mystery of their family legend linking ancestors to a major player in the old cotton trade.

I would like to thank the person who sent me information about blitz victim W T Upham, I have checked the details and added the information to the website.

This week my husband stumbled upon a website belonging to a genealogist elsewhere in the UK who appears to have outrageously copied 90% or more of his website content directly from my Family Researcher site, pasted it into his own website page after page, then replaced my name and other details with his own. The site appears to have been running since 2009 and the content looked so much like my site that one independent person commented he thought the sites were related.

One can only speculate as to the quality and originality of family tree research one might receive. My husband was in the early stages of initiating legal proceedings as recommended by the US hosting company when the person in question took down their site. He did so after his hosting company contacted him. For this reason I will not ‘name and shame’ him or the site.

Finally this week, I am delighted to report that I have completed another major update to the Dictionary of Old Occupations. Approx 160 old occupations, trades, professions etc. beginning with the letter T have been added to my site, bringing the dictionary total close to 2000 definitions. This project has taken me years of work in my spare time, so it is great to see how near completion it is.

Family Tree News 27 February 2011

My professional family tree research work has certainly been keeping me busy, but I have made time in the evenings over the last week or so to work on the Dictionary of Old Occupations.

Years ago, when I started typing up my notes on old occupation definitions, there were lots more jobs beginning with the letter C than other letters. I recall starting on these, getting as far as publishing three pages of C prefixed them on my website, before deciding to move on to other letters of the alphabet in order to speed up the overall process.

I am delighted to have revisited the mountain of jobs beginning with C, organised my notes and published the definitions online yesterday. 190+ jobs beginning with C have been added to those previously published. This takes the estimate number of definitions in the entire dictionary to over 1500!

If you know the definitions of old or archaic jobs titles, trades etc. beginning with C that are not on the list then please get in touch. Lots of people are sharing my free dictionary now, it would be great to expand the dictionary even further to help fellow family tree enthusiasts.

Family Tree News 20 February 2011

The last few weeks have been busy ones where family tree research work has been concerned.

In my spare time I have made several updates to the website:

The Dictionary of Old Occupations has proven popular with fellow family tree researchers. I would like to acknowledge the various people who have been in touch regarding old definitions for occupations such as Hind, Vestry Messenger, Intelligence Office and Bondsmen. Some of these were queries from people asking for help with their own ancestors, other were kindly supplying additional info to share on the site.

I would especially like to thank Ibrahim Leadley for generously providing two photographs related to his ancestor Hannah Harrison Lowe, who is reputed to be descended from royalty. An interesting story, from which I typed up a few research notes of my own and added a new page to the familyresearcher website to share these alongside the photographs.

All the best
Jane Hewitt

Family Tree News 30 January 2011

If you are waiting for the archives at Coventry to reopen so you can research local history then I am afraid I have bad news. Despite the Council website presently estimating that the History Centre will reopen around now ("late January") the Herbert website says that the History Centre is closed until further notice, which seems a bit vague.

I have been along to the premises to find out more. The floor is still stripped right back, and repairs seem to be progressing much slower than we hoped. Signage on the premises indicates that it will be around April before the History Centre reopens. Sadly it looks like we will be without access to our heritage records for twice as long as we originally believed!

I would like to thank Sue B this week, who got in touch to tell me about a book called "The Fateful battle Line" which is full of information about the 1/7th Territorial Battalion and what befell them during the war. The book ties in with the Coventry At War section of the site, particularly the war diary of Sgt Edward Brookes.

I am also grateful to Colin and Carol, who provided me with more old job definitions to add to the Dictionary of Old Occupations. I have updated the site this week, and added them in as promised. Carol – In addition to the other occupations you sent me I have added a paragraph about Day Labourers to the site, and will add Junky to the Dictionary along with all the jobs beginning with J as soon as I am able. I only have a few letters of the alphabet to check and transcribe onto the old occupations A-Z lists, but it’s a time consuming job!

Family Tree News 23 January 2011

This week I have added another 112 old job definitions to the Dictionary of Old Occs. Having spotted too late someone on an online genealogy forum seeking an explanation what a Higgler was, and finding that the answer was in my to-do list, I decided to focus on transcribing my notes about jobs beginning with the letter H and make them available FOC on my familyresearcher website.

So if you discover anything from a Haberdasher to a Huxter in your family tree and are unsure what the job actually was then you may find the answer here.

Family Tree News 16 January 2011

My family tree website has been updated this week. I have added new information about members of the McKnight, Pointer and White families who were killed in the Coventry Blitz. You can find them in the alphabetical lists in the Coventry Blitz Resource Centre. I have also added a new definition to the Dictionary of Old Occupations for a Watch Case Joint Finisher.

Family Tree News 9 January 2011

As pleasant as it was to take a week off over the holiday period, I am thoroughly enjoying getting stuck back into family tree projects. The December post was particularly slow this year, but did not stop me completing all family tree Christmas presents and sending out the presentation packs to arrive on time (despite the postal service having an interesting definition of ‘next day delivery’!)

This month Computer Shopper magazine reviewed the latest version of Family Tree Maker, which came out very well indeed. It really is an excellent package and is surprisingly cheap. It is listed on my family tree software page, along with other good packages.

Over the holidays I found time to go through more of my notes about old job and trade definitions. I picked on jobs beginning with the letter F this time. This week I added these to the website, they amounted to six new web pages containing details of 165 definitions. From Faber to Fuyster, you can find these on my Dictionary of Old Occupations, available free of charge to help you understand census records when you research your family tree.

Sadly Coventry Council has yet to announce the reopening of the Coventry Archives after the pre-Christmas flood. Their website page appears to have not been updated since December. It still says that the History Centre is unlikely to reopen before late January, but it also says this is because of the approaching bank holidays. I still recommend you check if the History Centre is open before planning a visit. The number is 024 7683 4060.

Older news updates can be found in the 2010 family tree news archive and the 2009 family tree news archive.

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