G is for:
I’ve been researching my family history for about three years and have been able to work back to around 1800 on a few lines. I’ve mostly used Ancestry.co.uk to find out birth, marriage and death records and census returns, although a subscription is quite expensive. I first joined when I was on maternity leave and was still receiving maternity pay so we had a bit of disposable income, but I did have to let the subscription lapse. I was able to resume recently as I won a subscription on Twitter from National Trust Magazine – so bonus!! There are some good free resources to find BMD records, such as FreeBMD.org, which can make family history more reasonable!
The first ‘meaningful’ discovery I made was that my 2x Great Grandfather, James George Jupp, fought and died in WW1. He was a Farrier with the Royal Field Artillery and was killed in September 1916. I found this information out from my Grandad who remembered that his Grandad had died in WW1, but this was before he was born so I had very little to go on. After searching census returns using my Great GRandmother’s name, I was able to find her listed with her father and from there I was able to find details of his military service and his death in the field. WW1 service records are, for the most part, unavailable as the majority were destroyed during the Blitz in WW2. Some records survive and are known as the Burnt Records, but you are very lucky to find any relating to you family as so few exist. I was lucky enough to find a service record for James Jupp’s son, James Charles Jupp, who also served in WW1, but safely returned home afterwards.
After finding out about James Jupp’s death – and after reading and article in Your Family Tree magazine purely by chance – I became aware of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the organisation that is in charge of recordkeeping for and upkeep of Commonwealth cemeteries and war memorials. With a simple search of his name I was able to find out that he is buried in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery and was even able to find out the plot number. As part of the CWGC’s work they also try to photograph all of the graves, allowing people to search their website and purchase a photo of an ancestor’s grave if they are unable to visit the cemetery themselves.
I was able to get this photo to show my Grandad:
Sadly, as my Great Grandmother’s family was bombed out during WW2 (they lived in Surbiton), there are no surviving photos of James George Jupp and his family would have been given his service medals and a ‘Widow’s Penny’ – a memorial plaque given to each family of deceased servicemen during WW1 – but none of these survived either.
My family tree is quite widespread. It leads to Huddersfield, Hertfordshire, London, Liverpool and – in a recent discovery – to Ireland, but also several generations of my Nan’s family are from the Ringwood area. There are some professional people and business owners, but also agricultural labourers and domestic staff. It’s quite simple to find out names and dates for your tree, but sometimes quite difficult to find out the stories behind the names. With James Jupp I’ve been quite lucky to find information about his life and his place of death, but there is much more to do; I could visit that National Archives to find out if there is a war diary for his company which might have details about him and I could visit his parish and see if he is listed on the war memorial.
Family history is quite addictive and there are so many avenues to explore. I have visited forums where people have been researching for 30 years and they are still nowhere near where they want to be, so I look forward to many more years of research and banging-my-head-against-a-wall when it gets difficult!
Do you know of any interesting relatives that you have? Are there any strands of your family that you’d particularly like to find out about?