Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Review: Tracing Your Yorkshire Ancestors

I've been doing a lot of research lately on my WILKINSON line, which purportedly originates in Yorkshire, England. That broad location is not exactly helpful; it's the equivalent here in the U.S. of saying one's family comes from Texas. Yorkshire is the largest of the English counties. In fact, it's so large, it was divided into three administrative units called ridings: North, West, and East.

While I have a long way to go before discovering exactly where in Yorkshire my WILKINSONs derived, I came across an advertisement for Tracing Your Yorkshire Ancestors and decided to order it through interlibrary loan to see if it could be of use to my future research. This 162-page paperback book, written by Rachel Bellerby and published by Pen and Sword Family History (Barnsley, South Yorkshire, 2006) contains quite a number of black-and-white photos. In my opinion, it would have been beneficial to include several maps, showing geography and communities, as well as parish and other administrative borders, especially to this American who is unfamiliar with the locations mentioned within. The introduction was extremely useful, with information on Yorkshire's various archives (university, museum, and business), county record offices, the Registry of Deeds at Wakefield, and the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research.

The book is divided into ten chapters. The first three are focused on the occupations and trades that many Yorkshire citizens engaged in, very often due to the regions they lived in. For instance, in Chapter 1, I learned that North Yorkshire is known for its farming and agriculture, while South Yorkshire has a industrial and mining tradition. East Yorkshire--on the coast--is recognized for its fishing and marine industries, and West Yorkshire has a worldwide reputation for producing fine textiles. (Note that the four geographic regions do not coincide exactly to the three Ridings.) From this information, I can estimate that my farming and carpentering WILKINSONs may likely have come from the North. The next six chapters focus on Yorkshire lifestyles which would produce records of genealogical interest, such as urban ancestors, leisure and societies, religion and its records, education and institutions, the military, and migration and poverty. I admit I was disappointed that the chapter on migration had no information whatsoever on emigration to other countries. I had hoped to find some clues as to migration patterns from certain parishes in Yorkshire to certain counties in Ontario, Canada. Instead, it had information on recent immigration into Yorkshire. I did see how its description of The Romany Collection would be of interest to someone with Romany (a.k.a. "Gypsy") heritage.

The last chapter appears to be well detailed and is an excellent reference. Titled "Directory of Archive Repositories and Family History Societies," it is divided into the following sections, most of which are further divided into the four regions: archives, museum archives, libraries, miscellaneous, and Family History Societies in Yorkshire. These contain descriptions of the institutions and their collections, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and websites and/or email addresses, where pertinent.

Despite some of its omissions, I recommend this resource, and will likely purchase a copy for my home genealogical library once I determine exactly from where in Yorkshire my ancestors immigrated. In the U.S., it is available on Amazon for $19.95.


Chapter 1. Making a Living: Land and Sea

Chapter 2. From Serges to Saris: the Textile Trade

Chapter 3. Great Estates: Living and Working on the Land

Chapter 4. Street Life: Urban Ancestors

Chapter 5. From Sport to Shopping: Leisure Time

Chapter 6. Religion: Established Church and Nonconformity

Chapter 7. Education and Institutions

Chapter 8. Uniformed Ancestors

Chapter 9. Migration and Poverty

Chapter 10. Directory of Archive Repositories and Family History Societies



Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price when readers purchase a title through the Amazon link above, although this title is available at other websites and various bookstores.


MHD said...

Yes, this is a great book. I use it regularly and always seem to find something new.

Miriam Robbins said...

Thank you for reading my post and taking the time to leave a comment, MDH! I'm sorry that the comment process was somewhat complicated for you. I have to read and review all comments before publishing, as it seems spam does get through from time to time.