20 amazing finds you'd never expect to see in historical records
From the quirky to the crazy to the moving, our resident records guru, Myko Clelland shares his favourite family history finds.
When you think of historical family records, you probably envisage delicate old documents with elaborate handwriting from olden times, full of names and dates to populate your family tree? In most cases that's exactly what these genealogical gems offer but every so often you'll also uncover a little extra.
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I've been researching my family history for years and have stumbled upon all sorts as I've scoured through records. When I find something interesting, disturbing or downright bizarre, I share it on my Twitter profile for others to enjoy. These are just some of the weird and wonderful discoveries I've made.
Curious census records
My Favourite 1911 UK Census entry, a farmer who claimed being "short of cash" as a disability (angrily crossed out by the government). pic.twitter.com/T9KHaI7cnm— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) April 25, 2019
"No vote, no census". This suffragette wife decided to sleep in the shed to avoid being included in the 1911 one! pic.twitter.com/UEs0sXbn0q— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) January 15, 2018
Two interesting occupations In one 1881 UK census household, a 3 year old "eating, sleeping & taking" & a 1 year old "getting into mischief" pic.twitter.com/aetZrnBAYz— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) September 10, 2018
The 1891 British census. The Benney family know who runs the house, their 1yr old son has his occupation listed as "the boss". pic.twitter.com/U9mTULRhFl— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) May 29, 2018
The most adorable UK census entry of 1881, 3 year old Mary who's occupation is 'eating, sleeping & talking', and her 1 year old brother who does 'the same and getting into mischief'. pic.twitter.com/7x2AZlYFQA— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) February 9, 2018
A wonderful household found in the British 1911 census... 46 year old Francis and her two housemates, Timothy the cat and Jack the dog! pic.twitter.com/rS7RKGznOu— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) September 25, 2018
In this 1901 UK Census page, a bored enumerator filled space on the page with a well dressed couple and stick acrobats! pic.twitter.com/ICLbowt26s— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) January 10, 2018
52 year old Robert Goodman in the 1881 British Census. Occupation given as "International Playboy", noted by the enumerator as "lunatic"... pic.twitter.com/GyUFEYoDHU— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) June 23, 2018
Old newspaper oddities
Good manners cost nothing. In 1898, forgetting them may cost you your life! pic.twitter.com/ls53XET1Ia— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) October 17, 2018
The first top hat, worn in 1797, supposedly caused quite a stir. A design "calculated to frighten timid people" that made children scream & women faint! pic.twitter.com/9ChMyjKovm— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) August 19, 2018
The 1890 rules of postage stamp flirtation... pic.twitter.com/FjxxsydF7a— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) July 16, 2018
Bored in 1902? Why not try "the latest novelty for whiling away the time in a country house"? Some new thing called "Facebook"! pic.twitter.com/0xFDh5vZVX— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) February 19, 2018
Peculiarities in parish records
Hundreds of years ago, a bored English priest left their own mark in history with this rather fetching portrait in a local church register! pic.twitter.com/aWRQQaVD8A— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) October 24, 2018
Love triumphant at any age - The 1776 marriage of 105 year old George Harding and 75 year old Jane Darlington. pic.twitter.com/9YChmPpEVj— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) July 25, 2019
A heartwarming early 1700s burial record to find - 'This old man had lived 49 years in a little cottage near the seaside, he was 78 years old and when he was happy, always sung.' pic.twitter.com/0yb4DTWeBU— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) September 16, 2018
A rather vivid description in the 1734 Marriage of "Old Tom Taylor, the great smoker of Whitstable and a deaf old woman"... pic.twitter.com/5ISw3xh48r— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) January 4, 2018
"Jacob Wittet and Sarah Kemp were shackled at Seasalter Church" - Such a positive outlook on marriage from 1734... pic.twitter.com/RyfK7vJTRa— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) April 14, 2018
The 1812 baptism of Hannah, starting as she means to go on and already listed as the "headache" of Philip and Sarah Tabor... pic.twitter.com/ViSiU4HyYi— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) January 31, 2018
And finally…a marvellous military record
Regimental Goat Taffy IV, the only British animal awarded medals in World War One. Here's his Army index card, just like any other soldier! pic.twitter.com/Nkdx2i2yl9— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) June 26, 2018
So, as you're delving into your family's past, keep on the lookout for special records like these that give us an even greater glimpse into history.
About the author
Myko Clelland is a genealogist, spokesperson & regional licensing manager for Findmypast, regularly discussing family history on television, radio, online & in print. He holds a Masters degree in genealogy (distinction) and is a qualified adult education teacher with over 200 worldwide speaking appearances, from Oxford University to The National Archives (UK), National Library of Wales, RootsTech, The Society of Genealogists, Who Do You Think You Are? Live & many regional archives & local family history groups.