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Recent Book Reviews

If you would like to submit a new publication for review on the New Books page, or are interested in joining the Book & CD Review Club please email Debbie Bradley, Administrator


The “Price” shown for each book reviewed may be the list price. Readers may be able to find lower prices by shopping around. For instance, the Bookprice24 site compares prices for a range of new and used books,  drawn from a number of online suppliers.

• • • • Don't forget to read our reviews of recent CD Publications • • • •

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Tracing Your Oxfordshire Ancestors by Nicola Lisle

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-15267-239-56
Price £14.99

An initial conundrum for anyone with research interests in the county of Oxfordshire is to define what is actually meant by “Oxfordshire”. The post-1974 administrative county of Oxfordshire is roughly one-third larger than the old historic county, as the modern county includes the area formerly known as North Berkshire and its towns such as Abingdon, Didcot, Wantage and Wallingford.

This volume primarily deals with the historic county, although reference is made to the former North Berkshire and to the records held at the Berkshire Record Office. In considering the historic county, Ms Lisle notes its agricultural heritage, and looks at some of the other activities that have contributed to its prosperity - education and Oxford University, car manufacture and Morris Motors, and blanket-making in Witney. In the context of this introductory material, it is probably fair to say that a map would have been a useful addition to the text.

The author then goes on to consider life in Oxfordshire and the records generated by such topics as religion, occupations, education, law and order, transport and health services. In the context of education, the holdings of the Oxford University Archives and of the Bodleian Library are considered in detail ; the fascinating holdings of the archives of the individual Oxford colleges could probably have been given greater prominence. The records of leisure pursuits as diverse as theatre, morris dancing and amateur football are described, as is the documentation created as a result of armed conflict. For the family historian who has hit the proverbial “brick wall” or is otherwise trying to resuscitate their research, Ms Lisle suggests an eclectic range of sources to consider, and details how to use them via a number of case studies.

This volume comprises of some 200 pages and is presented in a laminated soft cover. Navigation is facilitated by both a detailed Table of Contents and by an index. The author’s words are illustrated by the use of monochrome photographs and facsimile documents. Ms Lisle has chosen not to include a bibliography, but suggested further reading is mentioned throughout the text. The final Chapter, which is entitled ““Directory of Archives, Libraries and Other Useful Resources”, provides many constructive suggestions as to how to take forward Oxfordshire ancestral research.

Reviewed by Paul Gaskell, Hon General Secretary, Oxfordshire Record Society (associate member society of FFHS)

March 2019

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Childhoods are forever by Tony Muddimer

Published by: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd
ISBN 9781528901785 paperback
ISBN 9781528901765 e book

Price £8.99

This is a short, easily read book. The writing style is good and the book is well arranged.

It is a very personal account of one boy’s life as he grows up through the years just prior to WW2 until the war finishes. His father signed up with the Royal marines.

The author lived in Leicester for most of the period with a short stay in Tenby. The family was evacuated because their home was requisitioned for use as a site office during the building of an airfield. They went to Tenby because the author’s father was stationed there.

Each chapter covers one of the years from 1936 to 1945 and tells many personal anecdotes such as holidays, as well as giving some background of the war events and tells a lot of what his father was doing.

The stories provide an interesting memoir to life in WW2 seen through a boy’s eyes

Reviewed by

March 2019

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A Fleet Street in Every Town: The Provincial Press in England, 1855-1900 by Andrew Hobbs

Published by: Open Book Publishers
Price: hardback £34.95; Paperback £23.95; Kindle £5.99 - see Open Book Publishers website for other cheaper options

This is not a family history book, if there is such a thing. In narrow terms this is an academic work about local newspapers of Preston, Lancashire, but the book is so much more. Andrew Hobbs has given a survey of the social history of Preston through newspapers and placed his detailed work in the national context. The implied readership of newspapers like the Preston Guardian and Preston Herald are described through literacy, editorials, articles, adverts pricing of the papers. This and much more can be applied to any town to give a view of Victorian society and your ancestors. Where newspapers were read give more detail about the social structure of a town with pubs, beer-houses, clubs, reading rooms and institutes playing an important role.

The chapters presenting the working week of an editor also shows the social and business structure where every village had a correspondent who sent reports and how information was circulated around the country. This information is useful to anybody wanting to get the best out of the British Newspaper Archive. While the use of reading rooms and public houses gives yet another aspect to the social structure of a town or village. Sections on who read what, and a sense of place continue the investigation, the methods can be used in any local history research or village study.

The book is illustrated and uses graphs and tables to support the discussion and research. The footnotes and references allow further research by the reader. Although little is required after reading Andrew Hobbs' work. More aimed at the academic researcher, it has much to offer any historian of the Victorian period and has given me a much better understanding of how local newspapers played a large part in society and informed our ancestors. I recommend this book to anybody with more than a passing interest in local history research.

Reviewed by Tony Sargeant, Bucks FHS

March 2019

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Tracing Your Roman Catholic Ancestors - by Stuart A. Raymond

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-15267-166-82
Price £14.99

Stuart Raymond is a prolific writer on local and family history subjects. Given that Pen and Sword Books have previously published his "Tracing Your Church of England Ancestors" and his "Tracing Your Nonconformist Ancestors", it was absolutely no surprise when “Tracing Your Roman Catholic Ancestors” came to my attention !

The author opens with a brief historical account of Roman Catholicism from the sixteenth century onwards, before considering the various sources that are available for the researcher to utilise. He helpfully guides the reader through the use of both records of the sacraments - baptisms, first communicants, confirmations and marriages - and burials. Equally, Mr Raymond considers what we can learn about our Catholic ancestors from the records of central government, from Quarter Sessions’ records and from the records of the Church of England, with parish registers and ecclesiastical courts’ records both being considered at some length.

In the chapter on “Schools, Colleges and Seminaries”, the archives of the Continental seminaries in locations such as Lisbon, Madrid, Paris and Rome are analysed. However, this is exceptional. The author’s focus is on Roman Catholics - both parishioners and clergy - who were resident in England. This might disappoint those readers with extensive Irish ancestry, but it is a pragmatic approach that keeps the text to a reasonable size.

This volume comprises of some 240 pages and is presented in a laminated soft cover. The text is indexed both by subject and separately by personal names, whilst the author fully documents his sources in an appendix. The author’s words are illustrated using monochrome photographs. Mr Raymond has chosen not to include a bibliography, but suggested further reading is mentioned throughout the text, and is particularly scheduled in a chapter entitled “Preliminaries to Research”. This details a wide range of relevant books, websites, archives and institutions for the convenience of the family historian.

Meanwhile, the title is also available in electronic - “Kindle” and “ePub” - formats, via its publisher’s website.

Reviewed by Paul Gaskell, Oxfordshire Record Society

January 2019

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Criminal Children, Researching Juvenile Offenders 1820 – 1920 by Emma Watkins and Barry Godfrey

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52673-808-0
Price £14.99

This book will be of interest to anyone researching crime and punishment in the period as well as life in Australia at the end of the transportation period

It is split into 6 sections starting with a short introduction explaining the aims of the book.

Part 2 investigates the concept of Criminal Children and the many ways that phrase can be defined. It discusses how boys and girls were treated differently and how the definition changed over the years.

Part 3 tells how the State dealt with wayward children and the many varying options open to the Courts. These ranged from Execution (rarely used) through Transportation (until 1853 to Van Diemen’s Land quite common) to the use of reformatories Industrial Schools and Borstal in the subsequent period.

Part 4 deals with research tools and gives a good guide to the various sources of information.
More information about websites and the addresses would be helpful

Part 5 is the greater part of the book and the most interesting. It tells the life stories of 26 children. Each one is from a different times period and a different punishment. Most fell into the description of criminal children because of abject poverty.

The book is well illustrated and has a useful bibliography but the list of websites is restricted. The list of books is much more extensive. There is a comprehensive index.

Reviewed by John Treby

January 2019

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A  MUSEUM AT  WAR;  Snapshots of life at the Natural History Museum during World War One;  by Karolyn Shindler

Published by: The Natural History Museum
ISBN: 978  0 565  09461  4
Price £16.99

The author, a Scientific Associate at the Museum, has compiled a day-by-day diary of the Museum’s life during WW1.  At that time it formed part of the British Museum.  The diary is arranged in twelve chapters, each introduced by a brief summary. The chapters run chronologically from August 1914 through to November 1918.     They cover three dimensions of the war and its impact;

  • The effect on the Museum of the wartime measures introduced across the country, eg, blackout, rationing, conscription, employment of women and safety of the public ( opening hours ).
  • The experience and, in some cases, death of Museum staff on active service. There is detailed information on individuals in this context and pictures of the men.
  • The Museum’s contribution to the war effort through its resources  and the expertise of its staff.   Numerous enquiries were received asking for advice in the context of the conflict, eg, camouflage, danger to soldiers from pests in foreign climates ( lice, flies and leeches ), use of pigeons, sonic detection and propaganda.

There is a homefront hero in this story; Charles Fagan, Deputy Director throughout the War.  With the Director suffering from ill health, Fagan was the man who saw the institution through the duration, from one challenge to the next.  But he was never appointed Director because he wasn’t a scientist by training.

This an interesting and well presented narrative depicting the war years from a different angle.  A worthwhile record attractively offered.

Reviewed by Charles Kaye

November 2018

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The Gypsy Countess by Anne-Marie Ford

Published by: Romany & Traveller Family History Society
ISBN:  978-1-900660-50-1
Price: £18
Available through the Romany & Traveller Family History Society website rtfhs.org.uk

Anne-Marie Ford’s book tells the story of Catherine Cox from her poor upbringing in Dorset through marriage to George Henry Grey, Earl of Stamford and Warrington to life as a Countess. Georgian and Victorian society is shown as Catherine and her sisters move up the social scale by moving to London and becoming artistes at Astley’s Amphitheatre as the Fleming sisters before the marriage. This episode caused some notoriety in some social circles.

During her married life links to Catherine’s immediate and extended family play an important part as the less well off are supported. In the late Victorian and Edwardian periods associations with royalty and racing is discussed where a love of horses form a bond between the aristocracy and Romany & Traveller communities.

This book is a perfect piece of research and is a must read for being a well written family history in narrative form. As in all family histories the cast of characters can be overwhelming but Ford’s use of chapters covering different subjects and time periods gets over this problem. The research is of high standard and able to cope with conflicting evidence from other works while supporting the narrative. The author is not afraid to indicate where the lack of recorded evidence appears. The text is supported by a well organised family tree spread over seven pages and an index of the individuals.

Reviewed by Tony Sargeant, Bucks FHS

November 2018

Fallen Felons by Jonathan Livitt

Book available directly from the author Jon Livitt, 8 Woodberry Lane, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire, PO9 6DP email: jonlivitt@btinternet.com   Tel: 02392 412304

It took ten years to research the 283 lives of men listed in The Police Gazette Roll of Honour and registered in the Criminal Record Office. They were killed or died of wounds during World War One 1914-1919.

The entries in alphabetical order give a glimpse of life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Their ages ranged from 18 to 58 but most were aged between 19 and 35. We learn about the character of individuals, the crimes committed and the range of punishments they received. The latter included birching, detention, fines and hard labour.

More than 40% had been detained in a Borstal institute. These men and boys came from all over Britain but I was struck by the number who came from Yorkshire with over 20 from Leeds! I was bemused by a number of entries but one in particular, William Hague from Barnsley, son of a miner, born 1876 was found guilty of a number of offences over a period stretching from 1900 to 1911. These included cruelty to a pony, stealing three ducks, drunk and disorderly, stealing a Canada goose and four other fowls! He spent time in and out of HM Prison Wakefield. He served in The York and Lancaster regiment [Barnsley Pals]. William was killed in action 1916 aged 40 years and buried in Tilloy British Cemetery, France. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Many of the entries are dealt with in great detail others only briefly. The regiments in which they served, manner of death and where buried are described. Although seen as criminals in society, they have a story to tell and with each name representing a life cut short.

The author provides a long list of Primary Sources, Publications and National Archive References along with many websites which researchers may not have been aware.

Reviewed by Ron Pullan

October 2018

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Tracing Your Ancestors Through the Equity Courts
by Susan Moore

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 9781473891661
Price £14.99

One of many family history books by Publisher “Pen & Sword”, printed clearly. The author is experienced in researching such historical records via The National Archives (TNA).  She states the subject “Equity Courts” is one that many overlook when tracing ancestors.  The period that she has researched (with the generous help of her students visiting TNA on her behalf) is 1500 – 1876.  The book has six chapters including one on sample cases and one case study on a Jane Austen connection.  At the back of the book there are the usual Glossary, Index and Bibliography for this subject.  Although Wales Equity Courts are not kept at the TNA it is useful that all other Equity records are there (together with the map room records).  She notes that the records recite history and relationships of many generations which can clarify many queries and also add spice to the characters.

The background of Equity Courts began with the monarchs centuries ago who were responsible for disputes, which then evolved into the Kings deferring responsibility to a Lord Chancellor, Admiral, Marshalls.  Inns of Court were set up through the country – they have many names such as “Star Chamber” which dealt more with violent disputes.  Before 1733 records are likely to be written in Latin.  The reader would need to study the book before attempting a visit to the TNA for such records for their ancestors as it gives many examples and advice on the process.

Reviewed by Valerie A Taylor on behalf of Malvern Family History Society

October 2018

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The Watford Knight's Fee: The Medieval Manors of Watford, Northamptonshire by Murray Johnston

Published by: Mill City Press
Price £12.87 paperback or £6.45 eBook on www.amazon.co.uk (correct at time of publication)

Watford is a small village in the north west of the county, adjoining the A5 Watling Street so on a strategic route through route in medieval times.

The book is a comprehensive record of the manors of which made up the village and commences after the Norman Conquest when it was awarded as a knight’s fee to the de Clare family and in the 12th century to the Arderns of Watford.

It was later split into three separate manors for the deceased lord’s daughters. These became the de Burneby manor, the de Parles & Cumberford manor and thirdly, the de Watford and Catesby manor.
Some 350 years later, the manors were recombined by a wealthy London merchant. 

The author has meticulously researched all the holdings and the families using a variety of sources such as patent rolls, inquisitions post mortem, charter rolls and fines and later deeds and other property records.  

The book is a narrative of the owners of these lands and follows the descent through marriages, wills, acquisitions and leases.  It is a mammoth work and is well illustrated throughout.

It will be of particular interest to those researching that particular area of Northamptonshire.  The reference list of documents used to research the book would also help others to undertake a similar work for their own parish.

Reviewed by Angela Malin

September 2018

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Barrow-in-Furness in 50 Buildings by Gill Jepson

Published by: Amberley Publishing
Price £16.99

Barrow-in Furness has a proud and distinctive identity, embodied in the many fine buildings that have shaped this Cumbrian town. At first glance, it appears to be seated firmly in the nineteenth century but a closer inspection reveals an architectural heritage that reaches back much further than the Victorian era. Prior to 1845 it was a significant coastal hamlet with little to its fame. Barrai, as it was first known was always secondary to the ‘ancient capital’, as Dalton-in Furness is now termed. The Furness railway was the springboard for the complete industrialisation of the Furness Peninsula where the iron speculators discovered rich seems of hematite and the railway means of transportation to the processing plants soon opened up.

Barrow-in Furness in 50 Buildings explores the history of this rich and vibrant community through a selection of its greatest architectural treasures. From the perpendicular style of Furness Abbey to the Gothic Town Hall, and from the Beaux Arts of the Public Library to newer building that have attracted disdain from the local residents, this unique study celebrates Barrow’s architectural heritage in a new and accessible way. Local historian Gill Jepson guides the reader on a tour of the town’s fine old buildings and modern architectural developments.

Gill Jepson is a well-known author from South Cumbria and a founder member of ‘Furness Abbey Fellowship’ a voluntary group who work alongside English Heritage to support the abbey. She likes nothing better than exploring the beautiful Furness peninsula and this is a great inspiration for her stories. She is a keen local historian and teacher and has researched the history of Barrow-in-Furness extensively.

Published by Amberley Publishing and priced at £14.99

Reviewed by Ian White of Cumbria FHS

September 2018

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Cumbria in Photographs by Steve Pipe

Published by: Amberley Publishing
Price £16.99

Here is a beautiful pictorial book that will fulfil the ‘homely desires’ of the many expatriate Cumbrian’s as well as the home based folk who live and work in this magnificent county and its environs. The county of Cumbria (I am greatly inclined to still refer to it as Cumberland) has an amazing diversity of beautiful landscapes. Photographer Steve Pipe has captured the counties essence in this collection of stunning images. From timeless fishing villages to the glorious Lake District National Park, famed for its lakes, fells and forests, from the majestic vistas of Scafell Pike to the beautiful expanse of Windermere and the other lakes, this book has it all covered. For its proud inhabitants and many visitors, Cumbria in Photographs is a must. Scan through these photographs and you’ll quickly see why this part of England has such appeal.

Steve Pipe returned to his roots in Cumbria in January 2011 and what started out as an enthusiastic and popular blog developed into a strong following across social media and led to writing and photographic commissions for a variety of magazines and websites. He is currently working with a range of organisations and publications including Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Lancashire Walks and Wildlife Magazine and the Camping and Caravanning Club. As an experienced hiker he tackles the outdoors in all weathers to find the spectacular and the dramatic be that a far reaching panorama or a tiny ecosystem hidden away within the limestone crags. He also has taken a keen interest in the history of the region.

Published by Amberley Publishing and priced at £16.99, the book is a worthy addition to any bookshelf.

Reviewed by Ian White of Cumbria FHS

September 2018

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My Scottish Common People - The History of a Scottish Family by George Smith

Published by: YouCaxton Publications
ISBN: 978 1912419234
Price £9.00

This is a story of the author’s research into his family history that spans more than four hundred years. His ancestors have lived in Angus, Perthshire, Inverness, Fife, Orkney and Dundee.

The story begins with a detailed examination of the Trade Union movement from 1945 to the 1980s in which the author’s father rose through the movement from union leader to president of the TUC. However it is a story of common working men and women and the pursuit of their livelihoods  and interests.

There are detailed descriptions of the jute industry in Dundee and family connections with India.  There are the many references to agricultural labourers and the effects on them by ‘the clearances,’ agrarian revolution and political changes that occurred.

Many of George’s ancestors worked in textiles as handloom weavers, plate layers on the railways, quarrymen, clickers in the boot and shoe industry and in the tanneries.  Each occupation is described in great detail. Then there was service in the militia and ‘fencibles’ during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars including a soldier who was involved in the mutiny of 1794.

There were dissenters from the Church of Scotland ,radicals, trade union members  and involvement with the growth of the Independent Labour Party as well as the Labour Party.

The research carried out meant many trips to Archive services in Angus, Dundee, Edinburgh and London.  An extensive bibliography is testament to the author’s quest for knowledge and to fascinating insights revealed among many members of George Smith’s family tree.

Reviewed by Ron Pullan – Wakefield & District Family History Society

August 2018

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Directory of Suffolk Millers 1086-1986 by Eileen Blythe

£6 50 and Cheques to Eileen Blythe,
Kismet, Stombers Lane, Hawkinge, Kent CT18 7AP
Please allow 10 days for delivery.

This is a handy little 56 page guide if you have discovered you have ancestors who were Millers in Suffolk and is incredibly well researched.  The book includes details of the water and wind mills of Suffolk which were primarily cloth and corn mills.

There are some beautiful pictures included and details the names of the mills and some that are included in the book were around as far back as the Domesday Book.

The book is made up of 5 Sections and Section 1 and 2 gives details of all the Mills in Suffolk and details of the Mill Owners wherever possible.

Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the books include Burial Records and also names of millers who are mentioned in Wills and Burial Indexes and there has been a variety of sources used to obtain the information in this book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is researching a Miller in Suffolk.

Reviewed by Debbie Bradley, FFHS Administrator

August 2018

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Lady of the House by Charlotte Furness

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 781526 702746
Price £12.99 (£10.39 from P&S at time of writing)

Charlotte Furness tells the stories of three aristocratic ladies and their families to illustrate their roles as ladies of the house. This is accomplished well after a hesitant start where editorial choices are discussed. Furness provides a view of late Georgian society where the upper classes have roles in both London and county, and the opportunities for marriage fit into the social season. The case of Lady Harriet Gower is interesting in illustrating the diplomatic roles and the patronage involved.

Furness really gets into her stride with the chapter on producing a family to extend the dynasty and provide continuity of ownership of many manors and estates. The letters and research in both public and private archives show the social pressures within families for the newly wed woman to succeed. At the same time usurping of another as the new wife takes over running an unfamiliar house is also discussed. Both Elizabeth Manners, Duchess of Rutland and Mary Isham provide illustrations of both roles as new wives and handing on to the next generation. Through estate papers and journals their work can be seen both in running estates and remodelling ancestral homes where history and architecture go hand in hand.

Death and mourning inevitably play a role in any family and contribute to the stories of these ladies. Here Charlotte Furness uses newspapers and letters to understand the families. Although she may have been frustrated by the lack of surviving records.

I recommend this book to anybody who wishes to know more about the role of women in late Georgian and early Victorian society. It makes a good start for further study. Also great background reading for those visiting Belvoir Castle & Lamport Hall.

Reviewed by Tony Sargent, Secretary, Bucks FHS

August 2018

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John Jonas, Victorian Policeman by Paul B Davies

Published by: Altiorapeto
ISBN: 978-1-5262-0593-3
Price £9.99

This book is a biography of John Jonas born in Lavenham in Suffolk in 1818. His early life is covered in 8 pages and the remainder of the book deals with his life as a police officer against the background of the development of Policing in the UK.

John was sworn in in Essex on 22 April 1842 but moved to North Riding of Yorkshire in 1856 and the book is written as a series of case notes dealing with the incidents in which John was involved. They read like extracts from the local press of the time and show that most of the incidents were petty crime. The book uses the phrases ‘might have, ‘probably’ ’would have’ and similar many times which indicates that a lot of the text is supposition.

The book is 191 pages and John’s life story fills 116, the remainder are notes.   The Author has clearly conducted extensive research but does not say whether this is a part of his family history although there is an implication that it is.

The book is of interest to those researching policing but would also be of interest to those with an interest in the social history of North Yorkshire in Victorian times.

Reviewed by John Treby

August 2018

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London's East End by Dr Jonathan Oates

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-15267-241-13
Price £14.99 (£12.00 from P&S at time of writing)

Buckinghamshire based Dr Jonathan Oates is the Ealing Borough Archivist and Local History Librarian, and is prominent as an author and lecturer on both the history of London and on family history. As such, he was ideally placed to write this guide to the city’s East End.

Of course, the East End does not have a formal boundary, so the author begins by defining the area and communities that are his subject. He considers how several centuries of immigration have shaped the latter, with Huguenots, Jews and settlors from the Indian sub-continent all being considered in detail. The population’s diversity is particularly apparent when Dr Oates analyses religion in the East End.

The East End is known for its deprivation and poverty, and that provides the backdrop to several of the chapters. The author explores the industries in which people were employed, with poorly paid work in the dockyards, factories warehouses, markets and shops being prominent. He also considers the successive attempts to relieve this poverty and describes the education that a child being raised in the East End would receive. Linked to the poverty, Dr Oates explains how the area gained a reputation for vice, prostitution and criminality, with the activities of the likes of Jack the Ripper and the Kray Twins granting them something akin to celebrity status !

This volume comprises some 181 pages and is presented in a laminated soft cover. The text is indexed, whilst the author’s words are illustrated by the use of monochrome photographs. A bibliography of further reading is included for those who want to know more, as is a most interesting chapter on places to see and visit. This details the many archives, churches, cemeteries and other places of interest that an East End researcher might want to explore, as well as the websites that the historian will use to plan his trip.

Reviewed by Paul Gaskell, Hon General Secretary, Oxfordshire Record Society

July 2018

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Criminal Women - 1850-1920
by Lucy Williams and Barry Godfrey

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 9781526718617
Price £14.99 (£11.99 from P&S at time of writing)

As all experienced family historians will tell you, women are much more difficult to trace than their male counterparts are.  They appear to be quite expert at vanishing without trace. Sometimes though marriage and remarriage, abuse, adultery or in their attempt to hide from current or historical criminal activities.  Life for women was particularly hard.  They were rarely treated as anything more than personal slaves in so many working-class families.  They were seen as property and could, quite literally, be bought and sold as such.  Little wonder then that so many ran away, turning to crime and prostitution to feed themselves and their children.  The workhouse was feared and could so easily lead to further abuse or the cruelty of being transferred into an asylum.  After all, they had abandoned their husband – conclusive proof of their insanity. False names would help to hide them from authority – but also hide them from their past life and our research.

Criminal Women is a book consisting of three distinct parts.  It begins by placing the crimes and punishment of women into historical context, comparing their offences with those of men.  I found this section alone to be so informative that I just have to re-visit my personal Victorian family history and great/great-grandmother’s ‘ownership’ of much of Kingston upon Hull’s prostitution classes!  I have always thought that there must be more to her criminality and, reading Criminal Women, I am even more convinced that there is much for me to discover.  Already, this book has paid for itself in my mind.

Moving onwards, Lucy & Barry have included an extremely varied collection of case histories. They reveal the complexity of a range of criminal activities and the diversity of the lifestyle of female offenders, dispelling any suggestion that female offenders is a working-class only club.

For many of us, section three will be the icing on the cake.  It is the result of many years of experience and trawling through the archives.  They reveal many the very best of sources, and how to discover and explore the very best of them.  There is much that will be new to the reader of Criminal Women and I cannot wait to try out some of their shared experience.

Reviewed by Alan Brigham, East Yorkshire Family History Society

July 2018



The FFHS takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any statements, information, opinions, recommendations and views contained in these reviews by any reviewer or any third party.

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