Tag Archives: genealogy

Yvonne Richards holding John Allan's Freedom of the City of London

Did I steal this? Should I give it back?

Yvonne Richards holding John Allan's Freedom of the City of London

Yvonne Richards holding John Allan’s Freedom of the City of London

Did I steal this? Should I give it back?

Over 25 years ago, my husband and myself were avid antique collectors, we already had an impressive collection of coins and stamps and other bits of memoribilia, mainly family tree that had picqued our interest in all things old. We didn’t have children, seemingly had no intention of having any and were happy working and living our own lives. We regularly attended antiques fairs and began collecting pearl handled cutlery, Mah Jong tiles, land deeds and wooden items, which we both loved. On one such occasion at an antique fair in Stafford, we spotted a beautiful picture frame. We both spotted it at the same time, and both fell in love with it, the added bonus was what it contained.

The Freedom of the City of London, granted to one John Allan, a Spectacle maker in 1898.

This ticked both boxes for us, history and wood and the deal was done. The said picture was brought home and has sat on the same bit of wall on our hall, stairs and landing since then and has been lovingly dusted each week.

Recently, however, we felt the need to re-organise and re-structure all of the family memorabilia that we had and to clean our existing RootsMagic databases. During that process, we have wished many times that relatives had not given things away or sold them or even dumped them in skips or landfills.

And so, our attention turned to our Spectacle maker and his Freedom of the City.

“Many people assume that the Freedom of the City of London is purely an honorary award, presented only to the great and the good, or for particular bravery, for example. However, this is true of only a very small number of City Freemen. The Honorary Freedom of the City of London is indeed the highest honour that the City can bestow, but it is granted very rarely. The vast majority of City Freemen were, and are, admitted by other means, and represent a very broad cross-section of the population. Over the last 300 years, about 300,000 ordinary people have been made Free of the City of London. Even today, many men and women continue to be admitted to the City Freedom, although most of the privileges and practical reasons for doing so have now disappeared.Before the mid-19th century, the Freedom of the City of London was a practical necessity for those who plied a trade or made their living in the City of London. Indeed, certain groups of people were compelled, on pain of prosecution, to be Free of the City, including:” To read the rest of this article, originally published by London Metropolitan Archives go HERE

To put your mind at rest, no I didn’t actually steal it, I bought it quite legimately for about £30, if I recall. However, I feel like I’ve stolen a piece of this family’s history. Both of us were astonished that a family could actually put this on the market for sale, but then you never know people’s circumstances. Still, we would ultimately like it to be returned to its rightful family. We have done some research on it so we have a fair idea of its provenance but are drawing a blank on finding a family connection on Ancestry as none of the family names seem to tie up.

So we are appealing to the social media network and hoping that this post will go viral in the hopes that we will be able to reunite such a fabulous piece of family history with John Allan’s rightful descendents. There is no doubt that we should give it back, though it will be with a very heavy heart and its long-held place on our wall will never be quite the same without it. Suffice to say, that should we not find its rightful owner, we will continue to keep it as safe as anyone can keep their possessions in this day and age until such time as it can hang on the wall of his proud family once more.


Transcript: John Allan, Citizen and Spectacle Maker of London was admitted into the Freedom aforesaid and made the Declaration required by Law in the Mayoralty of Sir John Voce Moore, Mayor and Sir William James Richmond Cotton, Knt Chamberlain and is entered in the book signed with the Letter K1 relating to the Purchasing of Freedoms and the Admission of Freedom (to wit) the 22nd Day of December in the 62nd Year of the reign of Queen VICTORIA and in the Year of our Lord 1898. In Witness whereof the Seal of the Office of Chamberlain of the said City is hereunto affixed. Dated in the Chamber of the Guildhall of the same City the day and Year abovesaid.

What do you think?  Should I be trying to reunite this with its rightful owners or am I just wasting my time?  The family sold it once, do they really want it back?  Let me know what you think on our Facebook page.

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Getting the family under control…

Do you have a handle on where every piece of paper is that belongs to your family?

After 40+ years of digging and delving into my ancestral line, my paperwork was in complete and utter disarray.  I have used a software program, RootsMagic for over 10 years and not even that was cleaned and cited correctly.  I was drowning in a sea of papers, not to mention a plethora of old photographs and memorabilia and I could weep at the 20+ years-worth of photographs and video clips that were neither catergorised or filed, just copied into numerous locations so that we eventually ended up with four copies of most things we owned.

Does this sound like you?

Twelve months ago, I made myself a promise, that I would not renew my Ancestry subscription until I had cleaned my RootsMagic database and my paperwork and memorabilia had been subjected to a radical overhaul.  I still don’t have that subscription, I make myself visit the local Archives and use their subscription purely and simply because it focuses me on simply getting the citations I need for the information I already hold.

How did I get in this mess?  Easy, I never did it properly in the first place.

Now, I have a super-duper new filing system where every generational family have their own file, it’s colour-coded and so simple to use.  It instantly highlights the important citable documents that I am missing, such as birth, marriage and death certificates and instantly provides me with copies of the census pertaining to the family’s residences.

Within the famiy files are separate pockets for each family member where I can add their certificates, if I have them, and easily keep all of my working papers for them together.  I could even extend the system to include an inventory of that person’s photographs or memorabilia if I decide to.

You can create a colour-coded filing system too in eight easy steps.

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Want a step-b-step video of how to do this, head over and watch the first Module of our Creating Your Legacy course for free.

What’s your biggest challenge in taming your family tree?  Let us know in the comments.

Here’s this week’s Tweetable:



Is Your Family Tree really a Magic Porridge Pot?

Are you drowning under a sea of birth certificates, bits of research, photographs, memorabilia, war records, the list goes on and on. If you’ve been a genealogist for any length of time, you have probably amassed a huge amount of data and paperwork. Would you like to turn that around and be the proud owner of a shiny new organised system? Here are four easy ways to start that process tonight but first; how do I know anything about organising your family tree?

Well, I’ve been researching my family tree for over 40 years and together with a husband who also researches his tree, our genealogy records have grown and grown and grown, a bit like the Magic Porridge Pot. Both of us have researched both sides of our families and so we have a potential 32 slots to fill with stuff, and boy are we making a good fist of it. The stuff that is. We were completely and utterly overwhelmed by it all. We organised it into boxes, of a kind, but even that didn’t go the full way to having anything like I would personally call an organised system. And having been a Personal Assistant and spent my days organising others, that really irked me. The PA in me couldn’t do it for myself!

I knew I had to do something. Hubby was way too busy to organise his paperwork, which left me to organise both families. So I decided to use the principle of just finding a few easy ways to begin the process. I began by going back to basics. Did I have everything in the same place? And if I didn’t, why not? Was everything segregated, digitised and recorded? The answer was a resounding no to all of those questions. Not everything was in the same place. With good reason, I hasten to add though. I kept all my books downstairs because there were only a few of them and to be fair, they were listed on an app I use on my phone so I did know where they were. The rest of the paperwork was upstairs in the office. And yes, I know, it’s a converted loft and I shouldn’t be storing things in a place where the temperature fluctuates, but to be fair, most rooms in our 1930’s semi fluctuate in terms of temperature. And some things were segregated, digitised and recorded but not all. So, to say I was fragmented was an understatement.

So here’s what I did about it and how you can easily do this too.

Make sure you bring everything together in one place, even if it is for different families or different branches of different families. To the best of your ability, just put it all in the same place physically and if you can’t – like I couldn’t with my books, keep a note of where things are. Use an inventory app such as InventoryDroid for Android – excellent and best one I’ve found.

Segregate everything into families with the exception of photographs, but organise papers and memorabilia into family piles.

Photograph, digitise and record every piece of memorabilia, each heirloom, all your priceless photographs and keep those records in your paper filing system.

  1. Bring everything together in one place
  2. Organise and segregate information into families, except photographs
  3. Photograph everything you own and make digital copies of papers and photographs
  4. Record where all your information is stored and who it belongs to

Finally, you can begin to really get your mind clear on what you have and know where everything is instead of stumbling around in the dark just adding more and more research to an ever-burgeoning pile. Wouldn’t that feel good? And if you want to take your organisation to the next level, be sure to check out our courses here at PerpatuaTree, where we teach you how to organise, preserve and protect your family documents and how to pass them on to your family.

Will you be able to finally tame your porridge pot, finally get to the bottom of it, scrape it clean and wash it up? Start today and make a pact with yourself to dedicate just 60 minutes of your day, each day for a month, to organising your family tree. Let me know how you are getting on and if you have any comments on questions on this post, be sure to post them below.