Category Archives: Documents

Whose body? A Plymouth Quaker mystery

Dr. Johnson reading “The Vicar of Wakefield”, from Illustrated Exhibitor & Magazine of Art, 1851. Drawn by Gilbert, engraved by J. Linton

Imagine how annoyed you’d be if the graveyard you were buried in was repurposed as a car park? Everyone else who had laid beside you for over a hundred years was disinterred, but because you had been buried deeper than all the others, your body was missed. The car park was built over you, and still you laid there, silent, uncomplaining and forgotten, as for sixty years cars drove over where you lay.

Now imagine your body is discovered, and you’re misidentified.

This has happened to a lady called Elizabeth Cookworthy, who was buried in the Quaker burial ground in Plymouth in 1833. I was curious about this story partly because my father was an undertaker so I find strange burials interesting, and partly because as a genealogist, I was intrigued by the headlines which said she’d been identified. How had this been done?

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Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2017


News! I’m doing a talk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2017 at the NEC in Birmingham.

In “Turn your family tree surprises into a book”, I’ll explain how I pieced together alarming discoveries from my own research and turned it into a book. I’ll talk about the sorts of historical resources that you might find helpful for your research, and then I’ll take you through different ways to share your writing.

It’s on Saturday 8th April from 11.15am to 12pm. There’s a full list of all the workshops running over the three days, and remember that there’s loads of stalls from all sorts of family history societies, and vendors selling archival storage materials (I can’t be the only person who finds that exciting), and lots of knowledgeable and interesting people to speak to – photograph daters, heirloom detectives, etc etc etc.


Wills – how they’re indexed and where to find them

Snippet from the 1585 will of Margaret Starlinge of Dedham

Snippet from the 1585 will of Margaret Starlinge of Dedham. Image reproduced by courtesy of the Essex Record Office.

What? All that in one blog post? Erm… no… however, there’s been a couple of jumps forward with regards to the availability of wills and will indices recently, especially for Essex but for Suffolk in a way too, so that’s my topic for today. And because I’m a librarian who spends a lot of time trying to extract information from databases and catalogues, I want to share some of my search skills with you.

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