”Are poorer an­ces­tors more in­ter­est­ing than wealth­ier ones?”

Your Family History - - News -

Wel­come to our Au­gust is­sue, and this month, I’m par­tic­u­larly pleased to have the Uni­ver­sity of Le­ices­ter’s Carol Beard­shaw and Steven King write for us about pauper let­ters. This is a sub­ject they have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence with, and I hope you en­joy learn­ing more about where to find these fas­ci­nat­ing let­ters, and what they can tell you about your poorer an­ces­tors. I am par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the lives of the poor, and the strate­gies they had to un­der­take in or­der to sur­vive in the past. Are they more in­ter­est­ing to find in a fam­ily tree than wealth­ier an­ces­tors? I’m not sure about that, as ev­ery­one has some­thing of in­ter­est about them, but per­haps the chal­lenge of find­ing out about the lives of the poor makes re­search­ing them more sat­is­fy­ing, ul­ti­mately.

If you’ve found your ances­tor in a pauper letter, or men­tioned else­where in Poor Law records, I’d love to hear from you about what you found out. Mean­while, I’m still try­ing to break down my own brick wall in­volv­ing a poor il­le­git­i­mate ances­tor in ru­ral Hamp­shire at the end of the 18th cen­tury…

Else­where this month, we look at the chang­ing na­ture of the fam­ily over the past few cen­turies, as Doreen Hop­wood ex­plores changes in house­hold struc­ture and the ter­mi­nol­ogy used to de­scribe fam­ily mem­bers. We’ve also ar­ti­cles look­ing at a va­ri­ety of sub­jects, from war and pol­i­tics to bizarre crimes and veg­e­tar­i­an­ism! In one of my favourite se­ries of books, EF Ben­son’s Lu­cia nov­els, from the 1920s and 1930s, veg­e­tar­i­an­ism is still writ­ten about as a pe­cu­liar fad, and it’s in­ter­est­ing to see how some of our pre­de­ces­sors ig­nored such views and stuck to their be­liefs de­spite these at­ti­tudes, as Michelle Higgs writes.

As al­ways, do let us know if there’s any­thing you’d par­tic­u­larly like to see in a fu­ture is­sue of the mag­a­zine, and tell us about any brick walls you’re strug­gling to break down, so that we can see if other read­ers can help. Mean­while, en­joy YFH, and we’ll be back in the au­tumn!

Per­haps the chal­lenge of find­ing out about the lives of the poor makes them more sat­is­fy­ing, ul­ti­mately

Nell Darby Ed­i­tor yfh@his­to­ry­mags.co.uk Cover im­age: World His­tory Ar­chive/ Alamy

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