Today is Shakespeare’s birthday as well as St George’s Day so here’s a little quiz about England’s patron saint courtesy of the BBC The guy was actually from Turkey being adopted by England (and other nations) about the time of The Crusades This is also when the myths, stories and legends started about the Holy Grail not to mention the Turin Shroud, which has also been carbon-dated around that time. We all love our myths. Even Shakespeare’s birth date is the day it was recorded in the register of his parish church, so like many ordinary mortals born at that time, his exact birthday is lost in the mists of time. In days when infant mortality was higher than now, it was common to wait a bit before registering a child’s birth.
Your date of Birth please…
Even today in places like Pakistan, passports for people from poorer areas are sometimes issued with only the month given for date of birth and in a case I saw earlier this year, only the year 1926 was stated!
Anyone with an interest in family history and with forebears over here will end up going through microfiche records of handwritten parish and other records at County Record Offices. Allied to these are Bishops’ Transcripts which the Church Warden had to copy to his local bishop annually.
While the parish record might be scrawled untidily, with the same family name sometimes spelled different ways (this was way before universal education) and the occasional sarcastic comment in the margin, the Bishops’ Transcripts were usually much more neatly written in a fine copper plate hand. At this stage, errors sometimes creep in which all adds to the fun of tracing your ancestors. And there is the occasional gap – for example, when a Church Warden took the Parish Register of Births, Marriages & Deaths home to do the above-mentioned trans-scripts and his house burnt down.
One problem that does not arise usually is shortage of information. If anything, there is too much of it, so it is very easy to get side-tracked and if you are not organised, very frustrating. For retired people with the luxury of lots of time, it can be great fun not to mention keep the grey matter active. Good Luck.