Who Do You Think You Are – With Billy Connolly

Who Do You Think You Are – With Billy Connolly

For someone who is extremely interested in Family History and well, history in general, I haven’t really watched much of the BBC TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?”. I used to find myself beginning to watch an episode and feeling frustrated with just how easy it can make family history appear to be, to search for your ancestors and obtain quick results, as this is not always the case and can also be very time consuming if the records are nowhere to be found! Plus I couldn’t “contain myself,” I struggled to sit through an entire episode without getting an itch to delve back into my own family tree instead of watching someone else do the same!

I was pleasantly surprised this week, after watching a couple of random episodes on BBC iplayer I have started to appreciate the program and educational benefits a little bit more, so much so that I decided to watch an old episode from 2014 featuring Billy Connolly a Scottish comedian.

While I appreciate Billy Connolly’s sense of humor and do find some of his stand up shows funny, I am not his worlds biggest fan, therefore my opinion of him does not massively impact my overall interest in the episode, however he is very like-able and down to earth as opposed to other celebrities that have appeared on the program, which does make the episode more appealing.


Connolly believed his ancestors originated from Ireland; however the discoveries left him a little dumbfounded. He had no idea that some of his direct ancestors had been in the military and were also based in India.  His great grandmother from his mother’s maternal lineage had been born in Bangalore and subsequently we are transported with Connolly to India to delve deeper into his roots.  As the program progressed we discovered more of his relatives and we were also provided with a quick historical background by a historian as to what life was like at this time in India, the uprising and how living in the South and being in the Military was a completely different kettle of fish to the North. This was extremely interesting to me as I have direct ancestors who lived in Bangalore and Madras over a period of many decades. I think by this stage my eyes were glued to the television, eager to learn more.

We also followed in the footsteps of Connolly’s Great, Great, Great grandfather Daniel Doyle who had fought in the Royal Horse Artillery in India, in the 19th century. He was reported to have had good conduct and a promotion, to later discover he had been court martialed therefore leading an end to his budding military career, despite not seeing much action in terms of military conflict where he was based. Connolly predicted part of the reason for this court-martial could possibly be alcoholism,   “It is a family tradition,” he openly admitted. Connolly was partially correct, after a local historian revealed an intriguing set of hospital records which detailed Daniel Doyle’s personal struggles such as alcoholism to his health woes, syphilis.

We were also then informed that syphilis was quite common at that time in the army in India, I believe estimated at 1 in 3 men having an STD. According to the historian, (I apologize her name escapes me) prostitutes were seen as an “evil necessity” and sometimes there would be as little as 20 women for over a 1000 men. These women if suspected of having a sexually transmitted disease would be locked in a separate location for months until it was believed they were cured, and then offered back to the soldiers. These were usually local women.  I felt like I was connecting to Connolly’s discoveries, as if it were my ancestors. I was  happy when Daniel Doyle had appeared to settle down and sort out his life, he married and moved back to Scotland, only to be saddened to discover he and his wife applied for poor relief on a couple of occasions because they were in poverty. The emotional reaction Connolly produced was real and extremely disappointing, he had hoped Doyle would have had a happier ending and was deeply saddened by the end of his ancestors life. It was endearing and also quite touching to see the compassionate side to Connolly and has made me respect and admire this individual more, he seems like such a genuine person.

Towards the end of the documentary we discover that Connolly had an Indian ancestor which left him feeling exhilarated and in high spirits and ended the episode with a nice vibe. I would recommend to watch this if you like genealogy and also if you have any relatives that were based in India in between 1800 and 1900, it is very interesting and informative.

Billy Connolly health



The 1939 Register – Find My Pasts Ultimate Rip Off or Genealogists Dream?

The 1939 Register release date has finally been released after much speculation and anticipation, these new records will be released on Monday the 2nd November 2015…(Next Monday!!). So I will admit, after reading this my week was already made, I have waited so long for these records and I am so excited to be able to see my grandfather alive with his family and expand and complete more of my family tree.

If you are not entirely au fait with the Register please see an excerpt from Genes Reunited:

Why is the 1939 Register so significant?

The 1931 census was destroyed and the 1941 census was never taken, making the 1939 Register the only surviving record of the people of England and Wales in the 30 years1921-1951, and the closest likeness to a census from that period.

Previously only available physically and at great expense, the information in this 1939 Register, including names, addresses, occupations, marital statuses and more, will be available for you to explore on Findmypast in just a few days’ time.

This release is the result of over a year’s work carried out by a team of hundreds who – in association with The National Archives – have conserved, scanned, transcribed and digitised over 1.2 million pages from 7,000 volumes.

My Concerns:

So why am I miffed? After months and months, for what feels like an eternity Find My Past have been sending us little snippets of information and updating their blog to keep us all excited. I had an email a while ago and I subscribed ready to ensure I could be straight on the records as soon as they became available. Now what do we all find out, a little surprise announced on Facebook…It will not be included in the subscription. Not to worry, how much will they be charging …

1 household costs 60 credits and is £6.95 or

A bundle of 5 households costs 300 credits and is £24.95.

Wait…what? So it isn’t included in the subscription we already pay for. Okay, I can live with that, a lot of incredible work has gone into getting these records live and I will not dispute this for a moment but seriously..5 household records for £24.95? How many hundreds of pounds is that if I completely go all out with my tree? It seems the average person will have to feel this cost, and no doubt we will all end up paying it as we are so desperate for this information. But I guess I will have to hold back and stick to my main ancestors until the price comes down or I have more money spare after pay day.

I think the sting is more evident on our purse strings as we were not made aware of this before. Sure Find My Past can do and charge whatever they want, but it would have been nice to know this from the beginning, at least then everyone would know what costs to expect, but 6 days before the release? Feels a little sneaky.

Original Costs:

One argument from a Facebooker did produce a fairly good point, however I do still feel that with the added cost of purchasing death certificates to have records released for loved ones that have passed is going to increase the costs some more, especially in combination with any other subscriptions people have to try and connect the dots…

I am very surprised that people are moaning about the cost of the 1939 National Registration from Findmypast.
Have they forgotten that the NHS were charging £49 for the same information
If you want the same information in Scotland the National Records of Scotland will charge £15 for a search for a single person (not a household) and keep £5 if they cannot find what you are looking for.

When faced with those charges Findmypast’s charges are very cheap.

Family history has never been cheaper than it is today and companies like Findmypast lead the way in reducing costs for genealogists.

Take it or leave it

I guess the ultimate lesson I have learnt here is to not count my chickens before they have all been hatched. I’ll feel fine tomorrow, a little peeved to be spending £24.95 on Monday for just five records however it is my choice. It has altered my view somewhat on Find My Past, especially as they are not offering an unlimited 1939 search and record viewing facility. In retrospect the certificates I have purchased over the years have amounted to more in cost, however these have been staggered amounts.

We’ll see, as soon as I see my ancestors I am sure my negativity will have passed. Family History research is so much easier than years ago with the digitization of so many records, so yes we are spoilt compared to these times, but companies do seem to hike up their costs to take advantage of this.

I’d love to hear other views? Are you bothered, do you feel it is reasonable and wish everyone would stop overreacting or are you holding back on completing as much research as you may have planned based on the announced charges?

Writing your Family History…my dilemma!

After countless hours of research, writing up my family history feels like quite a daunting prospect, especially with the amount of information I have to collate on this particular genealogy line. Also, where does it end? For instance if I were to write up on my maternal, maternal side as planned, would I include all my great aunts family and great great uncles family being as I know so much! Or is that just going to complicate it for any future generations?

The plan was to share all my findings and collate the dates, names, places with the evidence, to show how I had come to the conclusion that my great grandfather was named such and such etc. I would also include stories, images, newspaper clippings…whatever I have found, to ensure the information is clearly stored somewhere and not lost or forgotten. It is there if it is ever needed.

Family history for me will always be an ongoing project, when is it best to get a book made, as I’ll undoubtably find more information as the years go on?

I’d love to hear from anyone who has researched their family tree and has put the information into a book, or toyed with the idea. Anyone have any advice?


Free Downloadable Template Questionnaires for Beginners to Family History Research

When I first started researching my family tree I jumped right in at full speed! I gathered information as I went along but I did not collate it into an organised manner. I have paper in various different locations, certificates, military records and pictures scattered all over the place.As I am beginning to run a fine tooth comb through my family tree and gather all my information together, I decided to create questionnaire forms to help others who are starting on their own journey.

These can easily be opened, downloaded and printed if you have a PDF viewer, any problems let me know! I would recommend taking extra paper and marking the questions which are most applicable to the relative you will be speaking with. Some questions may not be appropriate or they may not wish to answer / go into detail as it is important to remember not all history is good history! Sometimes people like to forget certain things from their past! I’d also remind anyone that a lot of information given may not be fact and will need to be backed up later by use of certificates (for example birth, death dates etc.) Your uncle Bill may have actually be called William and so forth!

Please see below an overview for what each document contains. To download click into the link and click again once the page loads. Feedback welcome! If you find this helpful please do like and comment. 🙂

Document One:Family History Research Interview Page 1

  1. What is your full name and do you have any nicknames? (Include Maiden name if a woman.) Were you named after anyone?When and Where were you born?
  2. How did your family come to live there?
  3. Were there any other family members in the area and if so who?
  4. What was your childhood home like?
  5. What are your earliest childhood memories?

Document Two:Family History Research Interview Page 2

  1. What were your parents names and birthdays? What were/are they like?
  2. What were your grandparents names and when were they born? What do you remember about them?(Maternal Side)
  3. What were your grandparents names and when were they born? What do you remember about them? (Paternal Side)

Document Three:Family History Research Interview Page 3

  1. Who were your aunties and uncles, what did you know about them?
  2. Are there any other older relatives you would like to mention?
  3. Where did you go to school and what was it like? What jobs have you worked at?

Document Four:Family History Research Interview Page 4

  1. Were you baptised and what was your religion? Did you attend church?
  2. What houses have you lived in?
  3. Who are your brothers and sisters and what can you tell me about them?

Document Five:Family History Research Interview Page 5

  1. What did your family do for fun when you were a child?
  2. Was there anything you disliked as a child? (chores etc?)
  3. What kind of life did you have as a family (rich, poor, balanced etc.)

Document Six:Family History Research Interview Page 6

  1. What do you remember about school? (Classmates, Teachers, Subjects you liked/disliked? )
  2. Have you ever had any special awards or been in the paper?
  3. What hobbies have you had over the years?

Document Seven:Family History Research Interview Page 7

  1. If you served in the Military when and where did you serve? Have you any memories you would like to share? What position did you have?
  2. When and where did you meet your spouse / partner? When/where did you get married (if applicable)
  3. Who attended the wedding, who was the best man and who were the bridesmaids?

Document Eight:Family History Research Interview Page 8

Have you ever been abroad and if so where to? What did you enjoy / dislike?

Are there any interesting events you have from your life you’d like to share?

Document Nine:Family History Research Interview Page 9

  1. How did you find out you were going to be a parent for the first time?
  2. Were you married more than once? How would you describe each spouse, how long were you married?
  3.  How many children did you have and what were their names and when were they born? What were they like growing up? (Characteristics, interests, talents etc?)

Document Ten:Family History Research Interview Page 10

  1. What were you like as a parent (Strict, lenient etc?)
  2. What are the most difficult and most rewarding things being a parent?
  3. Do you remember your great grandparents? Or do you know anything about them?

Document Eleven:Family History Research Interview Page 11

  1. Are there any health problems that are hereditary?
  2. Have you got any bad habits?
  3. Have you ever been a victim of a crime?
  4. Has anyone ever saved your life?
  5. How is the world different to when you were a child?

Document Twelve:Family History Research Interview Page 12

  1. What wars were fought during your life time, how did these effect your life?
  2. What are the hardest choices you have had to make?
  3. Do you remember any advice or comments that had a big impact on how you lived your life?
  4. How do you feel about the choices you made in school? Career?

Document Thirteen:Family History Research Interview Page 13

  1. What or who is your favorite:
  • Animal? Artist? Athlete? Author?Board game?Book?Candy?Card game?Color?Cookie?Drink?Flavor of ice cream?Flower?Fruit?Meal?Movie star?Movie?Musical group?Musical instrument?Painting?Poem?Poet?Restaurant?Season?Singer?Song?Sport?Style of music?Tree?TV program?Vegetable?

I would like to link credit to an online article that helped with many of the questions.

Casual Ramblings on my love for Genealogy

I began researching my family tree when I was just 14 years old, my Nan had just passed away and in retrospect I think I found it a therapeutic way of dealing with the grief and loss. When she was alive we used to spend hours talking about her brothers, life growing up and events that were memorable to her. It pains me to think of all the things I have forgotten over time – I wish I could still remember all of those anecdotes. My Nan also loved History which is a subject I have always enjoyed, this may be an influential interest as we always used to watch anything historical on the television together and I remember how proud she was when I was awarded an A in an History essay at school.

I had no idea just what or quite how much I would find out on my journey, I simply remember trying to find out more information on my Nan’s direct relatives, which led to endless trips to the library to use Ancestry and the Microfilms – where most children my age would have been out having fun with friends I was in the library doing research! My tree seemed to grow and grow and any money I had would go towards ordering certificates.

I am in no means an expert in all areas of researching family history, but I have come a long way over the years and I am always looking to learn more. I have dived into and out of my family history research over the years and I have never found myself in the situation where I am bored and want to give up, quite the opposite, especially with the extensive supply of records that are constantly being uploaded onto websites such as –  Ancestry, Family Search, Genes Reunited and many more.

I enjoy the challenge and insightful reward of finding out much more than just names and dates but also digging into the lives that the individuals lived. Where did they work, eat, sleep? Who did they marry? It may be due to this that I seem to have an array of certificates, records, pictures and emails everywhere!

Over the next few months it is my aim to share some of the most interesting stories and information that I have gathered. I may even dig up a few things I have forgotten about! I will be looking at my family tree from scratch and organising my findings into a methodical order. I have always debated how to store my findings, but after much prolonged hesitation I think it is time to stop debating and get on with it!

It’s crazy to think that I have all this information on people who I never had the good fortune to know, but it’s an inspiration to see how so many people have lived their lives and did amazing things.

I hope my documents will be of interest to any other like minded people out there! I’d love to hear stories from anyone who has researched their own family line or who would like to!

My Nan.

My Nan, Doris Rolls Nee Draper