World War One: when War Reunited a Family

In Killed by Enemy Action: a Family Tragedy I wrote about my uncle Joseph Boyland, who was machine-gunned walking along Scotland Road, Liverpool, in September 1940. That was a story about a family devastated by the consequences of war, yet a generation earlier war had brought the Boyland family together.  John Boyland, Joseph’s father, fought for the King’s 5th Regiment during World War One. He … Continue reading World War One: when War Reunited a Family

Killed by Enemy Action: A Family Tragedy

On Tuesday 17 September 1940, Joseph Boyland, Joey to his brothers, was machine-gunned walking down Scotland Road, Liverpool. He died the following day at the city’s Royal Infirmary. Aged fourteen, he had left school and was about to ‘go to sea’. The Merchant Navy was a common occupation for young men in Liverpool at the time. The Liverpool Evening News briefly reported on 18 September … Continue reading Killed by Enemy Action: A Family Tragedy

Emma Clarke, Born 1875: Britain’s First Black Female Footballer

As I noted in The ‘Black Boy’ of the Philanthropic Society, much of Britain’s black history is hidden from the historical record, not least because histories were generally recorded of rich, white men;  women and minorities are hard to locate unless they married into the aristocracy, did something extraordinary or found themselves in trouble with the law. It also relies on the person recording any … Continue reading Emma Clarke, Born 1875: Britain’s First Black Female Footballer

Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 1 OR a Little Bit of Family History

 I began my family tree research in my late teens.  I sat down with my father and listed all family members past and present that he could remember.  Still only eighteen, I moved from Merseyside to Wimbledon and bought a copy of Tracing Your Family Tree, by Jean Cole and Michael Armstrong.  I was ideally placed to visit the capital’s repositories, but then hit a … Continue reading Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 1 OR a Little Bit of Family History

Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?

Originally posted on HistorianRuby: An Historian's Miscellany:
Thirty-two years after being built, Walton Prison in Liverpool witnessed its first execution. On 14 March 1887, Elizabeth Berry suffered the ignominy of being the first prisoner and one of only two women to be executed there. The execution chamber was hastily built. It appears that a reprieve for the prisoner was expected and when this was… Continue reading Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?

Titanic Captain Edward John Smith Lived Here

On the night of 15 April 1912, Captain Edward John Smith died along with 1500 other people when RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic. Edward John Smith was born on 27 January 1850. In 1875 he earned his master’s certificate, a qualification necessary for him to serve as a ship’s captain. In 1880 he became a junior officer with the … Continue reading Titanic Captain Edward John Smith Lived Here

Guest Blog: a Post-War Childhood in Liverpool

A guest post from George Boyland. George is a regular contributor to The Guardian’s Readers’ Recommend music blog. During World War Two, frightened Luftwaffe pilots, seeing the flak over Manchester and Liverpool, would turn back and drop their bombs over the last city before the North Sea – Hull. That city had it bad. But, apart from the East End of London, nowhere had it … Continue reading Guest Blog: a Post-War Childhood in Liverpool

Tracing my Boyland and Gray Ancestors

I started this blog to share fascinating stories from history. Not least of those, are my family history posts. I have researched my family’s history on and off for three decades, with more off than on, and usually with an intense burst of activity after travelling to a specific archive or record office.  This blog is now two-years-old and this is its 94th article! So I … Continue reading Tracing my Boyland and Gray Ancestors

Using Postcards for Family History

In my article The Many Ways to Consume History, I gave examples of ways that I consume history, most examples were of public history and from a non-academic source. One of the ways I stated I consume history is by collecting antique postcards. This Easter Monday I visited a Postcard and Collectable Paper Fair that is scheduled for my local recreation centre once or twice a … Continue reading Using Postcards for Family History

1881: When the River Mersey Froze

Britain shivers and many people who have it much tougher over the winter months mock our unpreparedness and histrionics regarding late winter – and very early spring – snowfall. However, we’ve just had our coldest March day on record. It’s an unusual start to spring with the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma affecting our weather for several days. It might be an unusual … Continue reading 1881: When the River Mersey Froze

Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?

Thirty-two years after being built, Walton Prison in Liverpool witnessed its first execution. On 14 March 1887, Elizabeth Berry suffered the ignominy of being the first prisoner and one of only two women to be executed there. The execution chamber was hastily built. It appears that a reprieve for the prisoner was expected and when this was not granted, the Coach House, an outbuilding where … Continue reading Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?

A Recognition Long Due

The French Government has awarded several thousand World War II veterans who took part in the liberation of France the rank of Chevalier (knight) of the Legion d’Honneur and its accompanying medal. The Legion d’Honneur is France’s highest military honour and is in recognition of the selfless heroism that was displayed during the Normandy landings and the wider campaign in liberating France. French President, Francoise … Continue reading A Recognition Long Due

Snapshot of Family History

My maternal grandparents, William and Anne Gray, had eight children, three born in Drogheda, Ireland and five in Liverpool, England.  My grandfather died in 1941, leaving my grandmother a widow for 54 years.  One by one, all their children left home and started their own families.  My uncles Johnny, Harry and Eddie and my auntie Mary, all settled in Australia.  Of the remaining four, two … Continue reading Snapshot of Family History