Guide Tracing Your East Anglian Ancestors: A Guide For Family Historians

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They are brought together in a Resource Directory at the end that includes contact details for the archives, websites and places of interest mentioned. I'd not hesitate to recommend this book to someone starting to search their East Anglian family history, and even the experienced researcher will find it a useful reference.

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No comments:. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Since , Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections has been an independent view of family history resources and developments seen from an Ottawa perspective. They tilled their strips in the communal open field systems. They grazed their meagre livestock on the commons. They also worked the lord's land, supplied him with sheep fencing, ale, fuel, and grains.

Tracing Your Family History

When called on, the men would have served the lord in wars against the Scottish, French or other houses. Life was hard, brutal, and often too short.


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However, the abundance of medieval churches across the region testify to the wealth that their labour actually created. Not all East Anglians worked the soil. There were skilled crafts people such as the cordwainers, potters, smiths, and weavers. Some based in villages, others in the towns. Protestant beliefs and practices spread across Eastern England following the Reformation, particularly in urban areas.


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This was re-enforced during the late 16th century AD, when protestant refugees from the Roman-Catholic crown, in the Netherlands, were invited to settle in Norwich, Ipswich, and elsewhere across East Anglia and south east England. One poll of Norwich at this time suggested that as much as one third of the City population consisted of these Dutch and French protestants. They were invited not only as allies against Roman Catholic Europe, but to bring their valuable crafts and skills to East Anglia. Their protestant vigour was infectious. East Anglia became a hot bed of Protestantism.

As the Crown and Establishment turned down the Reformation, opting for keeping Conservative values in their Anglican Church, so the Protestants Some hopped back over the North Sea to the Netherlands, which had for the time being, repelled the Catholic powers. Permission was readily granted. The Puritans left Eastern England en mass. Norfolk saw little bloodshed during the 17th century English Civil War, as it was safely Parliamentarian. Except for a riot and explosion in Norwich when the Puritans tried banning Christmas.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries AD, the descendants of the old East Anglian peasantry had to adapt to a number of economic changes that were not in their interest. Some fields were enclosed, and the peasants found themselves replaced by more profitable sheep. Even the commons were enclosed and privatised. They became farm hands, the great army of " ag labs " agricultural labourers of the 19th century censuses.

The more fortunate, loyal, and skilled might find themselves almost in full employment, with a regular wage and a tied cottage. The less fortunate were the paupers. Seasonal workers that had to constantly look for work, or beg for parish relief. The rural poor didn't always accept these changes without resistance.

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In , Norfolk peasants rose into an army that captured the City of Norwich. In , East Anglia was a centre of the Swing Riots. Many agricultural labourers and their families still married and baptised as Anglican at the Church of England, but although much of the puritanical fervour had by now swept away from East Anglia, many were increasingly turning to non-conformist chapels of the Baptists, Congregationalists, and Methodists.

If you had rural working class East Anglian ancestors during the 16th to 19th centuries, imagine them very poor.

How to trace your family history

Following the Agricultural Revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, new machines and technologies replaced much seasonal and manual labour on the fields. The commons, where the poor had grazed their animals had been taken away. Poor relief was ceased, and the desperate were forced to enter prison-like workhouses, in order to be fed - families split into separate dormitories, the poor harshly penalised, and discouraged from asking for relief.

They were encouraged to leave. Some to far away colonies - Australia and Canada. Others to feed the factories and mills of the Industrial Revolution in places like Newcastle, Yorkshire, or London. For many - the railways arrived just in time to escort them away. Manage Edit Post Logout Login. Two men threshing sheaf - Luttrell Psalter c. Except for brief mentions in manorial records, tithes, and polls, most don't even enter the records until , when parish registers were introduced with the English Reformation.

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So unless you tie into an aristocratic line - you are not going to trace your East Anglian ancestry much further back than Indeed, many parish registers are damaged, lost, or destroyed. Many records are illegible. Posters Gift Tags.

John D Reid

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