Off again!

Well, I’m off again.

A conversation with a friend, making a time to meet with her and her mother to help some more with their family history,  took me back to FindMyPast where I discovered a new (to me) feature which helps you to identify potential family members.  I say potential, because there is also the potential to get carried away with all the hints and claim people who aren’t really your relations (and also, I found, to create duplicate entries with no way of merging them).

But that’s got me off looking again.  I’m creating a new family tree on FindMyPast – hopefully without all the errors I included originally.  I’m once again on the trail of James “Treacle” Sanderson and hope to get up to Cowm Reservoir for a walk to see the memorial to Treacle.

It’s the first time in over ten years that I’ve felt any enthusiasm for this.  I lost my way a bit when my mum passed away.  It’s good to get going again, and to feel the tug of all those “possibles”.

Getting (re)started …


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So, a workshop at a recent UCCN (Unitarian Communication Co-ordinators Conference) at The Nightingale Centre in Great Hucklow, Derbyshire, prompted me to re-visit this blog.  I haven’t made a great deal of progress with my family history over the past year – “life” seems to have got in the way.  But I do think it’s time I reviewed where I’m up to and what I need to do next.

My first job should be to update my family history software … which may mean updating my computer … so what I will do instead is get out the paper files and remind myself of what I know and what I want to find out.

Another task will be to get out the three boxes of old photos passed on to my dad by his late cousin, and write down the names of the people in the photos whilst my dad still stands some chance of remembering who they are, or more to the point remembering their names.

Whilst I haven’t done a great deal on my own family history, I have been helping out a friend with her family history, and have come across some online resources which are new since I last researched some of my ancestors.  There is now access to databases, and a much more helpful search format, for ex-servicemen (those killed in battle and those who returned).  I don’t know of many military people in my family, but there is the odd one and it would be good to follow up to see if there are any clues in the online databases. The BBC History site has some useful information about Researching Military Records.

One ancestor (also my dad’s godmother) emigrated to Australia to marry – and I think we will now be past the (?) 70 year limit on requesting copies of records.  So another very practical task to get on with.  The National Library of Australia and the Australian Government websites are useful starting points.  I’ve also found Trove, an Australian national newspaper archive, a treasure trove of useful articles.

And to finish, it would perhaps be helpful to post a reminder of the main family names I’m researching: Bennett (CON/LAN); Bottomley (WRY/LAN); Sanderson (LAN/originally Scotland); Titterington (WRY/LAN).  (See for keys to the Chapman county code abbreviations, ie CON, LAN, WRY, for England).


“Treacle” in the news (archive)


I decided to use the relatively new facility on to search British Newspapers (1710-1950).  There is one particular ancestor about whom I knew I’d be certain to find an entry.  James “Treacle” Sanderson was a runner – and apparently had quite some success.  According to an article in the Rochdale Observer (13 May 2006), Sanderson was “one of the greatest distance runners the country has ever known”[1].  He was apparently “champion of England over one-and-a-quarter and one-and-a-half miles by the time he was 25”[1].

Looking at newspaper articles I found about “Treacle”, I noticed that in 1869 (age 32) he won the sum of £2 as first prize in a “Foot Race (professional), two miles”[2].

I wondered what that equated to in today’s terms.  I found a website called, which offers “Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.K. Pound Amount, 1830 to Present”.

I asked it to calculate the value of £2, comparing the value in 1869 to that in 2010 (the latest comparison figures available).  The results[3] were:

£144.00 using the retail price index
£195.00 using the GDP deflator
£1,020.00 using the average earnings
£1,440.00 using the per capita GDP
£2,900.00 using the share of GDP

The site also offers information about the various measurements.  You can see that, from the value of average earnings, the sum of £2 would probably have been a significant prize.

In an online version of an entry for 1863, Annals of Rochdale, Sanderson is quoted as winning the “1 J mile championship and £100 at Sheffield”.  In 1864 he won £50 in a one-mile race[4].  In 1875, as part of the Lowerhouse Athletic Festival and Gala, he won the “One Mile and a Half Handicap Flat Race for Professionals”, in a time of “7 min. 35 sec”[5].

There’s much more to discover, but I like the fact that – because of Treacle’s relative “fame” – there is a lot written about him,  including a physical description of him which adds some context to what tends to be quite dry, paper-based research.

[1] From an article in the Rochdale Observer, 13 May 2006, “Athletics: Treacle sets pace for future generations” accessed 28 Nov 2012

[2] From an article in the Burnley Gazette, Saturday 31 July 1869, “Bacup Athletic and Field Sports” accessed via 28 Nov 2012

[4] From an article in the Burnley Gazette, Saturday 23 April 1864, “Local and district new” access 28 Nov 2012

[5] From an article in the Burnley Advertiser, Saturday 18 June 1875, “Lowerhouse.  Athletic Festival and Gala” accessed 28 Nov 2012

Other online references to “Treacle”: accessed 28 Nov 2012 accessed 28 Nov 2012

Annals of Rochdale by Robert Dawson Mattley available online accessed 28 Nov 2012

Hello world!

I had a spare few minutes today, and – not unusually – decided to spend them investigating a bit of family history.  It’s addictive, you know!

I’ll tell you a bit more about what I discovered in my next post.  But it’s the process of recording some of these mini-discoveries that got me thinking about starting this blog.  So often you want to just tell someone – oh, look at that, how interesting.  And always you need to record that snippet of data for future reference.

Like many, I use a combination of paper records, electronic notes, online systems, and family history packages.  This blog is another way of “making notes” – perhaps when I’m not at my own computer … or simply want to share what, to me, is a gem of a find.

For those fellow family historians, the main names I’m researching are:

  • BENNETT (Cornwall and Lancashire);
  • SANDERSON (Scotland and Lancashire – mainly Lancashire so far)
  • BOTTOMLEY (Yorkshire/Lancashire – sometimes depending where the border happens to be at any given time)
  • TITTERINGTON (Yorkshire/Lancashire – another ‘border issue’)

So here goes.  Let’s see what we find.  I’m sure it will continue to be a most interesting and intriguing journey.