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Why You Shouldn’t Be Fooled In To Thinking Everyone Has A Family Coat-of-Arms or Crest.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Fooled In To Thinking Everyone Has A Family Coat-of-Arms or Crest.

The majority of people, when they first get in to Genealogy or Family History often (And me included) want to find out their “Family Crest” or “Coat-of-Arms”. If you google your last name followed by one of the two you’ll find countless sites which all want to sell you merchandise with “your” particular crest on.

Having a Coat-of-Arms is a particularly rare thing to have and even if a branch of your family does happen to have one, being able to use it legally is a completely different story. The majority of the companies that offer to show you your Family crest are not engaged in any legitimate genealogical research and will often completely make up or plagiarise/copy another companies work.

If you think you are entitled to use a Coat-of-Arms you first need to understand how they work and how they are issued in the first place.

United Kingdom Coat of Arms

The Motto

The Motto is a line of text or short message which the owner has chosen to represent them and their family/group. It will be set at the very top of the Coat-of-Arms.

The Crest

The Crest is the part of a Coat-of-Arms which sits upon the helm/helmet. This can often be a simplified version of the Coat-of-Arms which can be substituted in when a simple version is needed such as on cutlery. On the Coat-of-Arms it sits just under the Motto and will usually represent a characteristic or trait of the original owner. It could be the head of a Lion to represent bravery or something more delicate that represents success in a particular field or profession.

The Shield

The Shield can have many elements. The shield part of a Coat-of-Arms comes from when they would have originally been painted on to the shields of the bearer and has now become a part of the Coat-of-Arms itself. The elements on the shield can be different colours and have many different designs. The placement of these helps paint a picture of the story that the bearer wanted to tell.

Supporters

There will also be supporters which are usually two animals or figures that stand either side of the shield, supporting it. The animals or figures used as supporters will also tell part of the story of the origin of the arms when used in conjunction with the other elements of the shield.

Heritability 

Inheritance

The right to bear arms is heritable, this means the sons, and in special circumstances, the daughters of a bearer. However, and this is the most important thing about Coat-of-Arms, Only one person can have a particular Coat-of-Arms so every descendant that inherits will have a slightly different one. This can be in the form of something being added or modified as well as colours being changed. The crest will almost always stay the same and will only change in very particular circumstances.



Laws regarding the use of Coat-of-Arms

Whilst long ago the right to bear a Coat-of-Arms was custom and not heavily regulated, during the 1400s in England it became law that only certain families and groups could bear certain Coat-of-Arms. A lot of Coats-of-Arms have been trademarked these days which means the owners have the last say on how their Coat-of-Arms are allowed to be used. They are not limited to people and can be used by corporations and businesses as long as they have a legal right to bear them.

Storing And Preserving Old Photos And Documents

Storing And Preserving Old Photos And Documents

One of the most important things in family history is preserving old photos and documents for future generations. Especially old black and white photos taken over a hundred years ago. The best approach in my opinion is to put them anywhere you can online and buy some decent archival storage for the originals. The steps I have taken to preserve my family photos are listed below.

Archive scanner

Step 1 –  Digitize them to a high standard.

The very first thing you’ll want to do is scan EVERYTHING at a high resolution. I’ve written another post outlining exactly how to do this which can be found here, but the general jist is that you should scan at 600DPI using the TIFF File format as it does not compress photos which other formats do (This causes minor details to be lost).

If you don’t have a scanner there will be somewhere locally that will be able to scan them for you to  professional standard.

Online

Step 2 – Save Them Online

External Hard Drive

Scanning at this size will take up quite a bit of memory on your PC so ideally you want to buy an External Hardrive. These have become very affordable in the last decade for the amount of storage you get. A cheap 500MB Hardrive can easily hold tens of thousands of high resolution photos.

HDD1
Seagate Expansion 2TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
HDD2
Toshiba 500GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive -Black
HDD3
Toshiba 1 TB Portable External Hard Drive – Black

 

 

 

 

Clouds

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is where you keep all of your files on servers through either a website or other host. This is an extremely reliable way of storing data, providing you put it in more than one place. Personally I use a combination of Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.

Dropbox offer free accounts with 2GB of storage with the options to increase by inviting friends and doing other things. As well as a flat 1000GB plan for £7.99 which is what I have as I use my Dropbox for all of my files too.

OneDrive is Microsoft’s free cloud service. Currently they offer 5GB Free, 50GB for £5.99 and 1TB for £7.99 it’s also linked to your Microsoft account. A combination of these two will be enough to keep all of your data safe and secure.

Photo Storage

Online Photo Storage

There are other sites which are dedicated to photo storage and sharing. Adding photos to these as well as sharing them with family members will increase the likelihood of saving them for future generations on different branches of the tree.

Flickr offers 1TB of photo storage for free. Its also really easy to add different albums and invite friends and family to comment on individual photos. I use this by making one large album with everything in then sub-albums for each Surname I have photos of.

Photobucket is another site that offers a free 2GB plan as well as quite a few tiered plans ranging from 22GB to 502GB. I don’t personally use this option but it’s definitely worth looking at.

Step 3 – Archival Storage For Originals

Most people end up putting old photos in a shoe box or standard photo album and then putting it somewhere in an attic/loft or basement and leaving it for years undisturbed. Or so you would think, these places are often damp and the temperature fluctuates a lot which encourages spores to grow and glues and plastics to erode which can be detrimental to old photos. The best place to store archival boxes is in a cool dry place like a cupboard in a damp free room of the house.

Everything that you have that comes in to contact with your photos should be acid free and of archival quality. You can get binders and archival boxes for all sizes. For photos I have one binder which has acid free plastic sleeves of varying types, different sleeves can hold different sized photos. These should also be backed using archival acid free backing paper.

Binders & Sleeves

A4 Deluxe Portrait Binder in Cedar Green
A4 Deluxe Portrait Binder in Cedar Green
A4 Clear Acid Free Archival Postcard Sleeves for Ring Binder Albums - 4 pocket per page (10 pack)
A4 Clear Acid Free Archival Postcard Sleeves for Ring Binder Albums – 4 pocket per page (10 pack)
Enigma Xtra Acid Free HD A4 Portrait E12 Photo Sleeves for Ring Binder Albums - 12 pocket per page (10 pack)
Enigma Xtra Acid Free HD A4 Portrait E12 Photo Sleeves for Ring Binder Albums – 12 pocket per page (10 pack)
Enigma Xtra Acid Free HD A4 Portrait E9 Photo Sleeves for Ring Binder Albums - 9 pocket per page (10 pack)
Enigma Xtra Acid Free HD A4 Portrait E9 Photo Sleeves for Ring Binder Albums – 9 pocket per page (10 pack)
Family History Deluxe Long Foolscap Certificate Binder Starter Package - Green
Family History Deluxe Long Foolscap Certificate Binder Starter Package – Green
An Easy Guide to Commercial Genealogical DNA Tests

An Easy Guide to Commercial Genealogical DNA Tests

DNA Tests have become a staple of Genealogy in recent years and as they are getting cheaper and cheaper a lot more amateur genealogists are becoming much more interested in unlocking the secrets kept within their DNA. The main question is which one to get.

DNA Tests can help in a number of ways including:

  • Verifying research – For example if you think someone is your great grandfather but aren’t 100% sure and you match with people who have him in their tree too you use this to confirm that he is related to you.
  • Surname Variants – Surnames are not always passed down exactly as they were originally so using Y-DNA to match with other people with the same and similar surnames can prove that surnames are related. For example in my tree I have the Pynn surname written as: Pynn, Pymm, Pin and Pinn.
  • Locations – You might end up matching with lots of people that all live in the same area. This could open up new avenues of research.
  • Ancestral Homeland – Some people like the fact that samples can be compared to “Ancient” samples. This can often show where some portion of your DNA likely originated. Most tests also give you a breakdown of this.
  • Discover Living Relatives – One of the most important features for people that take a DNA test is the fact that you are matched with people within the same database.
  • Confirm or Disprove Family Secrets – Take for example someone who does not know their grandfather but has been told he was in the army during the war and had a fling with the grandmother. This might be broken down by having living descendants of the real grandfather who might turn out to live right around the corner.





There are three main types of DNA Tests used within Family history.

  • Y-DNA, which is used to find out more about direct paternal lines.
  • mitochondrial DNA, is used for direct maternal lines.
  • Autosomal DNA is all the nuclear DNA in your cells that is not on a sex chromosome (X or Y chromosome). This is used in matching all lines.

The most popular of these test are the autosomal tests. These are usually the cheapest and offer the most information.


Autosome

Autosomal Tests

Autosomal DNA tests look at the numbered chromosomes. We have 22 (numbered 1-22) Pairs of Chromosomes and two sex chromosomes (X and Y). An autosomal test can be used to estimate relationships between two people, this is the reason that it is the most common type of genealogical test.


23andme banner

1 – 23andMe

Price: £125.

Method: Saliva Sample (About 1 cc).

Contacting others: Contact may be made after seeing your list of matches in DNA Relatives or Ancestry Finder; the matches must be willing to share genomes with you if you are to see what segments you share with your matches.

Number of People in the Database: 1,200,000.

Medical Data: Yes.

Online Community: Yes.

Extra Tools: Ancestry Composition, Ancestry Finder, Neanderthal Ancestry, Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry tool, Y and mtDNA haplogroups provided for people you are sharing with.


ancestrydna logo

2. Ancestry DNA

Price: £79.

Method: Saliva Sample (About 1/2 cc).

Contacting others: Contact can be made through Ancestry.com’s messaging system.

Number of People in the Database: 2,000,000.

Medical Data: Yes.

Online Community: Yes.

Extra Tools: Comparison of overlap of ancestral origins between matches and automatic identification of common ancestors, surnames and birth places between matches’ family trees.


ftdna family finder

3 – Family Tree DNA (Family Finder Test)

Price: £65.

Method: Cheek Swab.

Contacting others: Email Addresses of all matches are available.

Number of People in the Database: 250,000.

Medical Data: Yes, not as many as 23andme.

Online Community: Yes.


natgeo

4 – National Geographic Project Geno 2.0

Price: £127.

Method: Cheek Swab.

Contacting others: No, but stories about one’s Y patrilineal and matrilineal ancestry can be posted on the web site for others to view, so add your contact information to them.

Number of People in the Database: 230,000.

Medical Data: Yes, not as many as 23andme.

Online Community: Yes.

Extra Tools: There are approximately 75,000 Ancestry Informative Markers from about 450 populations around the world that are included on the test. About 10,000 of the Y chromosome SNPs included on the test have not previously been tested in large populations. Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestral percentages are provided.


ftdna-ytest

Y-DNA Tests

These tests are primarily used in Surname Studies. i.e Do two or more males with the “Pynn” surname share a common patriarchal ancestor? They also provide you with your Y-Haplogroup which is the branch on the human DNA tree your Y chromosome sits on.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA offers three types of Y-DNA test. Each of these tests for a different number of genetic markers on the Y Chromosome. The 37 Marker test will allow you to confirm close relationships and the 67/111 tests will let you narrow down matches even further. With Y-DNA it’s all about what you can afford. If you can afford the 111 STR test then do that one!

Price: 37 STRs $169, 67 STRs $268, 111 STRs $359.

Method: Cheek Swab.

Contacting Others: Public FTDNA Forums.

Number of People in the Database: 568,000+


ftdnammtDNA Tests

mtDNA Tests look at the mitochondrial DNA that is present in everyone. It is passed from mother to child so Males and Females can be tested for this however males will not pass this on to their children. Much like how the Y-DNA test looks at the fathers direct line, the mtDNA test looks at the mothers direct female line. This also gives the mtDNA Haplogroup which again shows where the mtDNA fits in to the human DNA Tree.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA offers an Entire mtDNA genome (HVR1, HVR2 + coding region = 16569 bases) test. This is the only one worth getting if you want to get in depth information about your mtDNA. It is by far the cheapest of it’s kind. 23andme and some other autosomal tests will tell you about your mtDNA but it will not be anywhere near as informative as an Family Tree DNA test.

Price: $199.

Method: Cheek Swab.

Contacting Others: Public FTDNA Forums.

Number of People in the Database: 200,000.

6 Reasons You Should Join or Start a One Name Study.

6 Reasons You Should Join or Start a One Name Study.

Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS)
Copyright one-name.org

If you’ve ever stumbled across an unusual name in your research and ended up whacking it in to Google then you’ve probably come across The Guild Of One Name Studies (Goons). If not, it’s a Website that offers a different outlook to the conventional Family Tree. Rather than a focus on a particular members own tree, a One Name Study is exactly what it sounds like. All members of a One Name Study contribute to a common goal which involves a particular surname, this goal could be very broad like: “All instances of the Surname Barber and it’s variations wordwide” which would for obvious reasons be a massive project.

While the Guild insists that all studies be global in scope, it is perfectly acceptable to start with a smaller area like a US state or British county and build out from there, like for example the surname Juden in West Sussex. The techniques you learn on a small scale can then be applied similarly as the geographic scope widens. Some Guild members may choose to be global but restrict the time period on which they initially work and then extend backward or forward from there. There are plenty of reasons to join or start a One-Name Study.

Reason 1: A massive community of like minded individuals all contributing to a common goal.

The nature of a One Name Study tends to attract people that are less likely to be selfish in their studies and share any information and knowledge they might have. This could be in the form of sources, local history or general tips and tricks they have learnt themselves. This might in turn break down brick walls in your own family tree, or give you insights in to collections or sources you might otherwise have missed.Two Head sharing knowledge graphic

Reason 2: Guild Marriage Challenges.

A Guild Marriage Challenge is a project in which members will visit local archives in specific registration districts and look up marriages. This helps with eliminating the need to spend as much money on Marriage Certificates. Put in to real terms, if you were to only manage to find two records from these challenges then you’ve already paid for your subscription.Marriage Record For Pierre Louis Oscar Cordier

Reason 3: Discounted DNA Tests.

The Guild also offers discounted DNA Tests for all of its members. These tests are the same ones found on Family Tree DNA which include: YDNA 37 Marker and the Family Finder Autosomal test. Both can offer different insights in to your ancient ancestry.DNA Strand

Reason 4: Breaking down Brick Walls.

With the enormous wealth of knowledge the members of the Guild have you are certain to find someone that is interested in helping you break down a brick wall in a particular area, the solution might come from local knowledge that only a select few members know about or a search tip that leads you to the breakthrough source.Breaking down a Brick Wall

Reason 5: Free Profile Page on the Guild website.

With a free profile page you can get noticed by new and existing members with the same surname interests. Here you can add everything you know about your chosen surname and outline the goals of your project.

One Name Study Profile Page
Copyright one-name.org

Reason 6: Get more in depth knowledge of a surname. 

If for only this reason alone you join The Guild it will be worth it as you’ll actually have some verified history about the surname you choose complete with stats and sources to back your claims up.Juden surname page