Favourite Book(s) #24 – The Surnames Handbook by Debbie Kennett

Surname HandbookFirstly, a disclaimer – I know the author. Debbie Kennett is a fellow member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and has no idea that her book has made by favourite book list!

This is a great book (published 2012) whether you are new to surnames research or have been focusing on it for decades. The foreward is written by the President, Derek Palgrave.

As someone who is researching a European surname there is not much in this book to guide you, but I urge you to not let that discourage you from reading it! It has a distinct British focus, but that is not to exclude other regions, but it gives a clear foundation for studies whose surname originate from the British Isles.

Let’s go back a bit – Britain, whether that is prior to the formation of the Union with Scotland or not, desperately sought to claim lands in other parts of the world. In doing so, surnames whose origins are in the British Isles are found across the globe, including Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, parts of the pacific and many other places. There is a huge population in Patagonia of those with Welsh heritage and surnames for example.

For a researcher who resides outside of the UK, but researching a surname with ancestors whose roots are British, this gives a great foundation to that research and does focus on some data that is not found elsewhere, for example Hearth Tax which is explained with a link to the National Archives. This data gives insight into the financial status of your 17th Century ancestor, for the simple reason the more windows your house had, the more money you had and therefore the Hearth Tax you paid! Another example is the Protestation Returns, this dates back to 1641 where men over the age of 18 had to swear an oath to King James the First (James I).

At the back of the book is a wealth of information – links to other sites (some have since publication been folded into other genealogical organisations), organisations and journals, surname websites, Linguistic resources, Surname distribution maps, place name resources, populations studies and there is a substantial notes section as well as a chapter on DNA and surnames.

This book is also one of the two key text for the Advanced course in One-Name Studies course for which it is recommended that students have previously completed the Introduction course in One-Name Studies (next course runs 16 October 2018). The second key text for the advance course I wrote about here.

Posted in Books, Favourite Book(s), Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course | Leave a comment

Favourite Book(s) #23 – First Class by Chris West

First ClassI was about three when my Grandfather gave me a penny stamp in an old matchbox. As time progressed I joined the millions of children across the globe who collected stamps and found myself fascinated by the person who might have licked the back of the stamp to affix it to the envelope. What did the envelope contain, a love letter,a recipe, a note? The list is endless.

I no longer collect stamps, but do still have my childhood collection that began from a simple stamp in an empty matchbox.

I spotted this book in the window of a bookseller and knew that I had to buy it. It came home with me that day and the book takes us on a journey from the first stamp, a penny black in 1840 up until the last stamp in 2007.

The book contains information on 36 stamps and not just the stamps, but also social history and other snippets of information that show the history of Britain in just 36 stamps.

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Surname Fascination

A few days ago, there was a fascinating discussion on the Family Tree Magazine (UK)  Academy Facebook group about surnames and asked the question, how many different surnames had readers come across?

Anyone who has been reading this site for a while will know I have a bit of a “thing” about surnames, after all we all have one!

Like the folk at Family Tree I devised a graphic, but I opted to create two, this first one representing some of my maternal & British side.

Maternal Line

Designed by Julie Goucher using Wordclouds.com

and this second one representing my paternal and Sicilian side.

Paternal Line

Designed by Julie Goucher using Wordclouds.com

Do we share any surnames? If we do please leave a comment below.

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Book of Me Prompts – June 2018

Book of Me2018

© 2017 Julie Goucher

Welcome to the sixth set of prompts for the 2018 Series of the Book of Me. You can read when the prompts are published and about the few changes at my earlier post HERE

There are five prompts each month and you can undertake as many or as few as you wish to.

  • What do you share?
  • How do you relax and unwind?
  • How do you keep emotionally strong?
  • What is your coping mechanism when things get tough?
  • What is your favourite colour?

If you have any questions or want to share thoughts or a blog link, if you decide to share via a blog (remember to, that you don’t have to share to take part in the series) then please leave a comment. Further discussion is also happening in the closed Facebook Group.

Posted in Book of Me, Book of Me - Series 3 Getting to Know You (2018) | Tagged | 2 Comments

Favourite Book(s) #22 – And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer

51Eu6xToXdL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_This was a book that was selected to be a book club read. I bought the hard backed version because it was the only one available online at a reasonable price – the book comprises of 1176 pages and is an ideal door stop should you not like the book! Given this series is about my favourite books it sits on my bookshelves and has survived many book culls!

The book is set in Ohio between 1868 and 1932 and reviews the town’s changes through the political sphere, culture and social changes through the eyes of the women of the literary club.

Given that I had opted for the hardback it was way too heavy to read on my various commutes and was reserved for bed reading, I managed to read the book in two months and even that was quicker that most people in the group.

I have one more book by the same author, Herbs and Apples which I picked up about a decade ago from Hay on Wye, alas that book has sat on my to be read pile for the whole of that time!

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Favourite Book(s) #21 – The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

51A6ITgX5lL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This was one of those books that I bought because the cover appealed. It sat on my growing pile of books to be read and when a long standing friend mentioned it to me in an email, asking where would I keep it – on my regular bookshelf or with my cook books? I commented that I already had the book and it was a to be read book and I had not made that decision yet.

We agreed we would read together and discuss by email. I struggled with the first few pages and could not get into the structure of the book, but after beginning again I absolutely loved it.

Written between two friends by email when they reconnect for a short time in 2000, the book then turns back to the early 1960’s when they shared a friendship and recipes until the 1970’s when something happens that tears their friendship apart. In 2002 the friends reconnect again when one receives a letter from the lawyer of the father of the other friend, that letter contains an emotional grenade and forces the friends to communicate again. After an hiatus the communications, friendship and relationship begins again.

This is a fascinating book about friendship, love, family and deceit, all interspersed with recipes.

The friend I read the book with I have known for 40 years, We often email, anything between several paragraphs to one line emails and I also have every letter she has has ever written to me from the days before email. And to answer the initial question, I keep my copy of the book in the breakfast room along with all my cookery books!

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International Museum Day 2018


image created by Julie Goucher using the International Museum Day Website.

As a child I always enjoyed visiting museums. Looking back, my favourite hobbies were old things, books and listening to my Great Aunts talk about the family. I guess my pathway was set from way back in my childhood.

Today is International Museum Day

As a genealogist, museums add context to the lives of our ancestors, whether we have researched back that far or not.

One of my favourite museums is the Underground Hospital on the Island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. None of my family lived on Jersey, yet there is something about the island that I love. Jersey was occupied by the Germans in the Second World War. Everywhere you go on the island is a reminder of that time in the island’s history and also a reminder of the resilience of the islander’s – it was not just Jersey that was occupied, the other islands were too, but Jersey seems to embrace this part of it’s history in a more obvious manner. All the islands honour the people who died there during this time, the islanders who took huge risks and the prisoners, many from Eastern Europe who were forced to work in dreadful conditions.

I have written previously about our visits to the island and to see some of those posts search Jersey in the search box and if I ever find the time I will finish off setting the posts in their category making them easy to find, and according to my notes there are still a few posts that I never got around to writing, so I might do that in the coming months.


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Favourite Book(s) #20 – Genealogy Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn

51eMK+7U3cLWe hear a great deal about books written by American authors of the not just the best way to proceed with research, but genealogical proof and citing sources, but we hear very little about similar books written by British authors.

This book by Helen Osborn is one of those books that should be a genealogical staple on on any genealogist bookshelf, regardless of what side of the pond you are on.

Although written from a British perspective the basic fundamental structure of successful genealogy is covered and frequently mentions British geography and examples from Helen’s own family.

The book itself covers ten chapters:

  1. Challenges of Genealogy
  2. Effective searching – techniques and belief
  3. Records framework
  4. Find what you need
  5. Has it been done before
  6. Analysing and working with documents
  7. Planning and problem solving
  8. Recording information & citing sources
  9. Organising, store and pass on
  10. Prove your research and meet your challenges.

There is also a recommended short reading list, bibliography, list of other sources and an index.

What I particularly enjoy about this book is the writing style and tone of the book. It is certainly a book I recommend for US and other non-UK based researchers as a staple as you begin your research across the pond and set the foundations of that research.

Posted in Books, Favourite Book(s), Genealogy, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course | 1 Comment

Italian Surname Series – Magro Malosso

Italian Surname SeriesThe enquiry that I received about two weeks ago was the catalyst for this series. The enquiry was about the surname of Magro Malosso.

My Great, Great, Great Grandmother was Maria Giuseppa Magro Malosso. She was born in Sutera, Sicily in 1838, married Pietro Orlando and died in Sutera in 1904, aged just 66.

My correspondent and I descend from two different Magro Malosso families in the same Sicilian town, but these two families were linked, of that I am absolutely sure. It was that message that I relayed in the reply, and I stressed the point that I was working on a hunch. I was so excited by the communication I have done little else, but live and breath the surname of Magro Malosso!

The second catalyst for this series was the results of a search of World Profiler:

Magro Malosso - World Profiler

Magro Malosso 2 - World Profiler

Long term readers of this site will have seen me refer to this site, Gens.info which is a great surname distribution site. Here is the results for Magro Malosso:

Magro Malosso

Those results concur with the World Profiler map.

Variants: Magro Molosso and the dropping of the Malosso name completely and simply being recorded as Magro which I have confirmed by a document from Sutera and a passenger list for one of the Suteresi Magro Malosso’s.

To be completely honest, I am much in the dark about the origins of the surname as I was two weeks ago, although I am more sure than ever that the surname is very specific to Sutera. The surname deserves much more research and if you are indeed researching the surname Magro Malosso whether in Sutera or the United States, I would be very delighted to hear from you.

I wrote an article for the Journal of One-Name Studies in January 2018 and mentioned a Detto, which is not a nickname, it is more than that. A Detto is a name that is used in addition to the main surname, but is not hyphenated. Detto’s are used in official records which is not typical of nicknames and Detto’s are also used across more that one generation.

With that in mind I visited Gens.info again and inserted separately Magro and Malosso into search box, those results are below:

I do have a hunch, but I am going to leave that for another day! but if you do have any thoughts or comments please do leave them below.

Posted in Genealogy, Italian Surname Series, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Orlando, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course, Surnames, Sutera Sicily | 2 Comments

Launch of Italian Surname Series

Italian Surname SeriesI recently had some correspondence about one of my Italian surnames. In addition to responding to the correspondence I did some further research and that sat me thinking about the surnames that appear in my paternal line and what those surnames mean, how they have evolved and their distribution patterns.

As part of my research I visited one particular site and I noticed something in particular that I had not been aware of previously.

I therefore thought that I might commence an Italian Surname Series as I set about examining those surnames further and revisit some of the earlier gathered material. I don’t anticipate these to be daily posts, but perhaps every week or so, as time and research allow. If you are interested in Italian genealogy or Italian surnames then please subscribe.


Posted in Genealogy, Italian Surname Series, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Orlando, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course, Sutera Sicily | Leave a comment