Wednesday, 28 September 2011

My theatrical grandmother Dulcie Dalmar

Having watched Emilia Fox discover her fantastic theatrical heritage in the latest UK series of Who Do You Think You Are?  and inspired by Debra's A Pocketful of Family Memories blog, I decided it was time to blog about my own maternal grandmother's theatrical background.  

My grandmother has inspired me throughout my life and I remember her very fondly.  In my teenage years she lived around the corner from my family and would visit frequently.  In the years before I was “always out” on a Saturday night, we would stay in and watch Saturday night at the London Palladium, or similar shows, together.  I share her love of dancing and have recently taken up singing  (with Rock Choir), although both activities are, for me, very definitely "amateur".  

The rest of this blog is taken from a promotional leaflet about her work, published c. 1916, created with the help of my grandfather (her second “husband”), which has been in my possession for some years.  While some of the commentary is possibly “exaggerated” (by my grandfather), I do believe that that the basic facts are true:

Miss Dulcie Dalmar, the brilliant "star" artiste, who was awarded the third prize in the Best Girl Competition promoted by "The Man in the Moon" is a young lady of exceptional merit and outstanding gifts, who would be bound to succeed in anything she had the inclination to undertake.

Born in Upper Norwood, she was educated at St Joseph's Convent, where she spent some very happy years, eventually leaving at the age of eighteen.  Being very fond of singing and dancing, she was advised to take up the stage as a profession, and made her debut with Mr. George Dance's Company in "The Merveilleuse."

Miss Dalmar was next engaged by Mr. George Edwardes to take the part of "Frou-frou" in "The Merry Widow", which was touring the principal towns in the Provinces, and her success was so complete that at the end of the tour she was engaged at the Gaiety Theatre, London.
About that time revues were first introduced into the theatrical world.  Miss Dalmar had already been regarded as an exceptional exponent of the art of Terpsichore, attracting everyone concerned by her grace, charm, and animation, so that there was no surprise occasioned when she was selected by the management to understudy Miss Shirley Kellogg, at the London Hippodrome.

At the end of the revue she went on tour, taking a leading part in "Arms and the Girl," "What Ho! Ragtime," "I've seen the Arem," "Get Away you Boys," etc.  Recently she has been engaged to take the leading part in the "Follow the Frill" Revue at the Poplar Hippodrome.

Miss Dalmar has a highly cultivated mezzo-soprano voice, which she knows how to use to advantage. She has had many successes on the Continent as well as throughout the British Isles, and is looking forward to a tour in India.

Extract from The "Era," Wednesday September 1st, 1915


We have seen revues of all kinds at this popular East End house, some good and some bad, but “Follow the Frill,” which was produced for the first time on Monday evening, was well worthy of the generous patronage accorded it.  It was heartily appreciated, and evoked abundant applause that testified to the thorough enjoyment of the audience.  As is usual, there is just a flimsy plot.  It concerns a Billie Hargreaves, who falls in love with a beautiful dancer, and determines to “follow the frill.”  Mr. Herbert Grover has indeed been very fortunate with his selection of the female principals.  In Miss Violet Denzil, of the Russian and classical school, he has secured a dancer of first-rate quality.  She has an admirable stage presence, and greatly enhanced her reputation as a classical dancer, and her two excellent dances were recognized with generous applause.

Miss Dulcie Dalmar is delightfully pleasing as Babs; her charms and manner receive ready and well-merited recognition. She has three excellent songs, “Sailor’s roll,” “I might let you get bolder,” and “Riverside at night-time,” which she renders excellently, and altogether contributes no small part in the success of the revue.

Miss Adrienne Sordini got home well as Cissie, and enters into the spirit of the part in a manner that makes for success.  She has a very pleasing voice, which was heard to great advantage in her song, “My boy’s got his best clothes on,” and also in her duet with Tommy, “Let me take you once more on the river.”  All those ladies were the recipients of beautiful bouquets.

The revue is admirably staged and charmingly dressed.  The music is bright and crisp, and such as will doubtless be enthusiastically received anywhere.  The songs are all original, and the lyrics are commendable.  The chorus generally is efficient. On the whole the production is excellent, and Mr. Herbert Grover and his assistants are to be heartily congratulated on the successful debut of “Follow the Frill.”  A word of commendation is due to the efficient work of the orchestra, whilst a word of thanks is due to the genial new manager of the house, Mr. Kessich, for his courtesy.

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

London Probate Records on Ancestry - coming soon?

In a recent article in Your Family Tree (July 2011) about Probate Records on Ancestry, the main content of the article was all about the special offer of Free Access to the National Probate Calendar (and Andrews Newspaper Cards), which will be running from 30 June to 8 July 2011. 

However, they slipped in a little gem:

" has a number of pre-1861 probate collections taken at both a national and a local level.  It's recently added a brand new set of records for Dorset, plus on 30 June, the team will be adding a similar collection of wills and other probate records for London...."

As it happens, although I specialise in London and the Home Counties research, I also have Dorset ancestors.  So when the Dorset wills were launched recently on Ancestry, I had a field day.  It really does help enormously to be able to read a Will and put all the different members of family into place.  In my case, with Dorset, theWills simply confirmed what I had already found out, because the online Dorset parish records are pretty good anyway. 

But for London, I reckon that the new online Wills collection could provide a bit of a breakthrough in certain family histories. I will be blogging again once this dataset is online, but I just thought I'd let you know.

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Spotlight On: The Parish of St George The Martyr, Southwark

I recently wrote a piece on this parish for my PG Diploma, so I thought I'd summarise it here on the anniversary of Charles Dickens’ death, and also start a new "Spotlight On" feature, which I hope to add to in the future.  Of course I won't be covering all of the London Parishes, as that would be too great a task. But I may invite others to write a Guest Post on a parish they know well. 

St George the Martyr parish lies just south of the Thames, quite close to London Bridge.  It is adjacent to the other large Southwark parish, St Saviour's, and has a rather strange "boomerang" shape to it.  Until 1900 the parish was technically part of Surrey, although there have always been very close links to the City of London. Indeed the parish grew substantially in the 18th century when the population of the City "overflowed" south of the river, encouraged by the arrival of new bridges over the river Thames.

The map below shows the very unusual shape of the St George the Martyr parish, as well as the names and locations of neighbouring parishes, all of which form part of what was previously Metropolitan Surrey.

(Original map sourced from

The church of St George the Martyr (pictured below) is often referred to as "Little Dorritt's church", on account of the reference in Charles Dickens' Little Dorritt to her being  baptised there.  This parish is in fact full of Dickens references.  In Victorian times, there were two famous prisons, the King's Bench and the Marshalsea, both located in the parish. Dickens' own father was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea, when Charles was just twelve year's old, an experience he retold in his book, Little Dorritt.

 © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence

The history of the parish goes back to early medieval times, with one of the earliest mentions being when the church was given to the Bermondsey Priory in 1122.  The location of the church of St George the Martyr has not changed - it was originally near the start of the pilgrimage route to Canterbury and was used by pilgrims for prayers before setting off.  The church has been rebuilt a few times, most recently in 1734, although subsequent repairs were carried out following damage in both the world wars.

By the first half of the 19th century the population of the St George the Martyr parish more or less doubled and the parish became one of the most densely populated areas of the country.   According to a report in 1855-1889 by the Metropolitan Board of Works, in the second half of the same century, the population growth was noticeably slower and the type of resident was not necessarily the most desirable, either:

 St George’s maintained a flourishing population of thieves, cheap swindlers and prostitutes.” 

Today the parish of St George the Martyr is merely an ecclesiastical parish; the civil parish was abandoned in 1930, having already become part of the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark in 1899.

For those with ancestors who originate in this Parish, family history records are held primarily at the London Metropolitan Archives, with just a few local records held in the Southwark Local History Library.

Rosemary Morgan 
London Roots Research

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Place in the Sun - using Fire Insurance Records for London Genealogy Research

If you have managed to trace your London ancestors back to the 1841 census and / or the start of civil registration in 1837, you have done well.  But what can you do next?

You can of course search the London Parish Records - but there are rather a large number of London Parishes and you may not find your ancestors where you expect them to be, as mobility was high around that time.  The addition of many (but not all) London Baptism, Marriage and Burial records to Ancestry UK's Premium subscription in the last few years has made this task much easier.  But the problem with using just the Parish Registers in London is that an address was not always given and if you are looking for a common name, this can sometimes lead to the wrong conclusions.  Also, if you can' find someone it doesn't mean they weren't there, as not all the London Parish Registers are on Ancestry! (See my earlier posts on London Parish Records -  Part 1 and London Parish Records Part 2 ).

There are other record sources which can be helpful at this stage - and one of those which is often overlooked is Fire Insurance records.  These typically give the date, the name of the insured, the address and often an occupation.  The Place in the Sun project, which started in 2003, has now indexed the Sun Fire Insurance registers from 1792 to 1839 (a useful period for searching pre-civil registration).  These can be searched online via The TNA's  Access to Archives website (I have already entered the terms Sun and Guildhall Library ihn this link to make things a bit easier) along with a name or an address. 

This is how I found my great great grandfather, who is listed as follows:

Charles Clifford 26 Parkers Place Dock Head saddler and harness maker (17 May 1820)

I was then able to trace the exact place he was either living or working at around the time of the record, and to map this location using old London maps, such as Greenwood's Map of London 1827.

An update on how the Place in the Sun project is progressing can be viewed here.
These Sun Fire Insurance records are just one collection among the many original Fire Insurance records which were previously held at the Guildhall library, but have recently moved to the London Metropolitan Archives.  Some of these records will actually cover properties outside London as well London itself.  A leaflet which describes the background and the variety of Fire Insurance records and where they are located can be downloaded here.

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Ancestor Approved Award

Ancestor Approved Award

Ancestor Approved AwardI was recently nominated for an Ancestor Approved Award by three of my fellow  genealogists, Annie Barnes at Hibbitt Family History Blog, Kerry Farmer at Family History Research and Judy Webster at Genie Leftovers.  I was very honoured to have been nominated for this award, by three separate individuals, especially as I am a relative newcomer to the world of genealogy blogging.

This award was created by Leslie Ann Ballou of the Ancestors Live Here blog. Recipients are asked to list ten surprising, humbling or enlightening aspects of their research and to then pass the award on to ten other genealogy researchers or bloggers.

I'm afraid it has taken me a little while to get around to this, but here goes!

Firstly, here is my list of surprising, humbling or enlightening aspects of my research:
  1. A continual surprise to me is how many of my ancestors ended up living "in sin", whereas in my generation we were brought up to believe that the Victorians were all so straight laced!
  2. I was very surprised to discover that my gg grandfather, Edward Clifford (see separate blog post) had been a Professor of Mathematics, and suspect this is where my interest in Mathematics came from.
  3. When I talk to friends and acquaitances about my interest in genealogy, I am surprised  at how many of them would like to know more about their own family history and yet have done nothing about it.
  4. One of my earliest genealogy discoveries was that a recent family of five sisters were all illegitimate.  The biggest surprise was that the girls themselves didn't appear to know they had several half-siblings!
  5. At the start of my research, I was very humbled to meet other, more experienced researchers who were more than happy to share the fruits of their hard labour.  I immediately warmed to the generosity shown by the family history community.
  6. On the flip side of this generosity was my experience of a certain genealogy networking site (no points for guessing which), where, for some reason, many of the users seem more concerned with growing the size of their trees, rather than checking the data they add in.
  7. I have also found it rather humbling to discover just how many of my ancestors struggled with their daily existence, losing many of their children to death and disease and often living in humble abodes.
  8. My own family history research took a huge leap forward once I tapped into the valuable parish register indices on what was previously called the IGI.  The enlightenment came when I  learnt to distinguish between the user-added records and the references to transcribed records - obvious when you know!
  9. Another enlighhtenment has been discovering the wide range of trades and professions undertaken by my ancestors, many of which no longer exist.  Trades such as bookbinders, sail makers, tanners, boot makers and even cattle drovers, were, I guess, all respectable occupations in their day.
  10. Finally, I have been pleasantly surprised to find so many of my ancestors originating in London.  This is one of the reasons behind me setting up this blog, to share my experience of researching this sometimes tricky area!
In return I would like to present this award to the following genealogy and history researchers and bloggers:
  1. Luke at Kith and Kin Research and Dorset Heritage
  2. Chris at Scottish GENES (GEnealogy News and EventS)
  3. Kirsty at The Professional Descendant
  4. Emma at Diary of an Urban Genealogist
  5. Rosamunde at Tracing Ancestors in the UK
  6. Melanie at The House Historian
  7. Mike at Genealogy Gazette
  8. Audrey at The Family Recorder 
  9. Elyse at Elyse's Genealogy Blog 
  10. Paul at Out of Battle 
Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Sunday, 16 January 2011

New FamilySearch - Some tips for UK genealogists

This post is not especially aimed at Londoners or those researching their London ancestry, although they may well find it helpful.  I am writing it instead in response to quite a bit of feedback, via Twitter and elsewhere, among Genealogists, who do not like the new FamilySearch website.

In an effort to try and understand for myself what was going on, I went along last Thursday to Sharon Hintze's talk at The National Archives called "What's happened to the FamilySearch website?" Sharon Hintze is a Director of Family History Centers worldwide and is currently based at the main London Centre in Exhibition Road.  She gave a most informative talk.

I am not going to summarise the whole talk here - this will probably be done by the National Archives in due course. Instead I shall just summarise the key points that I took away from the talk, together with a few tips from having played around with the site in the last couple of days:

1)  Firstly, all experienced genealogists should not be using the main search on the new Family Search website, but they should instead go straight to the Advanced Search page

2) Secondly, there is now a much clearer button that will take you back to old Family Search site.  (But if you want a direct link to the old site - e.g. for your bookmarks - try using this link:

3) If you are looking for Historical Records, it is important to make sure you have selected this tab.  The Family Trees tab at present contains records from Ancestral files, but in the future, users will have the option of submitting or adding to their own family trees (a bit like Ancestry trees I suspect). 

4) If you are looking for the old English, Scottish or Irish records, it is important to realise that these records are all now included as a subset of "Europe" rather than the "British Isles" - yes times change! So after going to Advanced Search, try selecting Europe (from the bottom of the page) and then United Kingdom. (from the list on the left). You should then find a long list of about 30 different UK Historical Collections.

5) At the top of this list is the largest UK collection, called "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975".  It is within this collection that can be found the old IGI baptisms which many of us genealogists have found so useful in the past.  Similarly, the old IGI marriages are found in "England Marriages, 1538-1973".

6)  If you only want to search collections with actual images, you will see that quite a few of these UK collections have a small camera icon to the left-hand side.  But don't deceived, if you search for a record in these collections, you will be directed towards the subscription site FindMyPast in order to view the actual images concerned. However, even with a subscription to FindMyPast, the link simply directed me to the FMP search page, so I would have to search all over again, which seems pretty pointless.

7)  You will notice if you try to use them, that these Collections are not very easy to use, due to a lack of more detailed geographical breakdowns than, say, Middlesex. Londoners, in particular, will know how frustrating that is.  I searched for my Edward Clifford, Mathematician,  in the 1841 census (as I know he is there, in West Brompton), but could not easily find him!

8)  If you do manage to find your ancestors' records in one of the three main UK Births and Baptisms, Deaths and Burials, or Marriage Collections, you will notice that there is an entry called  "Source Film Number" which is the same as the source film number in the old IGI.  

9)  Also, if you find a christening and want to search for siblings, it is actually easier with the new site to feed in parents name, place and approximate date, and up come up with all the siblings.  I have only tried this so far on my previously known ancestors, so it will interesting to see how useful this will be for new searches, but it actually looks a bit easier than the old IGI. Hurrah!

10)  Finally, Sharon did stress that the new Family Search site is still under development and that the development team is keen to receive feedback.  There have already been several minor improvements since I started looking at the new site, possibly because of our feedback.  So I urge you all, and Sharon stressed this too,  to please give feedback on the site.  You can do this by clicking on feedback tab on the far right of the homepage, and following "share your ideas" or simply by clicking here.  You will need to register (if you're not already registered) but I would say that, despite this, it is well worthwhile.

Please feel free to comment (below) if you have any further suggestions on this subject.

(Many thanks to Sharon Hintze of the London Family History Centre and Audrey Collins at The National Archives for providing input for this article)

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Sunday, 9 January 2011

My Top 10 New Year Genealogy Resolutions

Yes, I know this is about a week too late, but I thought it was "better late than never" so here we go, with my Top 10 Genealogy Resolutions for 2011:

  1. First of all, I really need to properly archive my own family BMD certificates, original newspaper cuttings, letters etc., using archive material recently purchased from Family Tree Folk.
  2. Secondly, I want to make sure I update my blog at least fortnightly, and preferably weekly. Otherwise I fear that my followers may lose interest in my blog and stop following.
  3. I also need to keep up-to-date with my assignments on my PG Diploma in Genealogy at the University of Strathclyde.  It would be a shame to have invested all this time and money and then fail to deliver.  (Don't worry folks I very rarely fail to deliver, just panic sometimes that I might).
  4. I really must keep in touch with all my own family "cousins".  These include my Clifford cousins who helped me find out about my great grandfather, Edward Clifford, who died in a fatal accident in London on Christmas Eve 1848.  I found these cousins through Lost Cousins, a wonderful genealogy matching service.
  5. I would really like to make the most of my genealogy website subscriptions while I can still afford them.  I have undoubtedly received huge value out of my Ancestry subscription over the years.  Most of my family tree has been built with Ancestry's help.  I have also used Findmypast to search for many of my ancestors in the 1911 census and have also found their passenger records useful.  But unless they come up with some new datasets, I may have to let this one go, come renewal in the spring.  My most recent subscription is with Family Relatives and I hope to be able to gain some value from this site in the coming year.
  6. I think I really need to try and understand the new Family Search website.  It is all too tempting to just fall back into the old way of doing searches using the old Familysearch website to search for the familiar IGI records.  One day this facility will be gone and I will be lost.
  7.  OK so this one is a "biggy" - develop my own genealogy website, together with offers of genealogy research packages etc.  This is important if I want to develop a serious genealogy business.  I have several ideas, I just need to make the time to do it!!  (Well just DO it, Rosemary).
  8. Explore some of the lesser known London archives. This is really important for me, as I aim to continue to specialise in London genealogy.  As the better known sources, such as the London Metropolitan Archives and also the Society of Genealogists, put more of their records online, I'd like to search out some of the more specialist archives, such as the Palace of Westminster Archives.
  9. Continue to find new ways of researching my maternal great grandmother's Mullins family, who reportedly came from Ireland during the Irish famine of the 1840's.  This is the only line in my own family tree where I haven't yet managed to get back to c. 1800 at least.
  10. Finally, I would really like to end the year having written some genealogy-related articles for family history magazines or family history society newsletters.  I know the Clifford Society are waiting for an article from me, and again, I just need to get on with it!  Hopefully I will have an opportunity to write for some others too.
OK so that's it folks.  I've gone public with my Genealogy Resolutions for 2011. It will be interesting (for me at least) to see how I manage in the coming 12 months to keep them up!

    Rosemary Morgan
    London Roots Research