Old Newspapers

I was supposed to be writing Christmas cards last night, but the British Library launched a a huge collection of online Newspapers and frankly it seemed more fun trawling through them!  You can search for free or pay £6.95 to actually access and read the papers for two days.  I’ve done that, because  if I did a whole month Christmas would be cancelled in our house and I’d just be on my laptop.

I was mostly searching for family tree information, but the search is a bit clunky you can’t just search for a name you have to put AND in all the time and then it’ll bring up 30 pages with the two words you’ve searched for.  So it took be a while but I came up with an absolute gem, the previously unknown to us story of how Paul’s x3 great grandfather died!

It’s a really beautiful little window into the past and how they lived. The story is titled ‘A Melancholy and Fatal Accident’ – which is such a great description! In 1868 George was 39, and married with five children. He’d gone to Bury St Edmunds on the train from Newmarket to do a cattle sale, he’d come back to Newmarket. Gone out with a few friends for a drink in the pub in Newmarket (we’ve drunk in there!) and then onto another village to look at some lambs for sale.

About 9pm he left to make the six mile journey home in his horse and gig – which as we have both said was a bit mad as it’s dark in the lanes there now, let alone pre-street lights – sadly at some point he either fell asleep or lost control of the gig and was thrown onto the road where he died. He wasn’t found until the next morning and there was an inquest done in the morning at the local pub and then he was buried later that day.

It was so bizarre reading it, I knew he’d died young and his wife lived into her 90’s but we didn’t know anything of the circumstances of his death. It was at the same time totally fascinating to hear so much detail about his day and really, really sad, that Paul’s great grandmother was widowed so young.

I’m off now to search out some more relatives, really hoping I don’t find any murderers!  If you’re into family history check out the archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

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  1. Wow, that’s fascinating – I must remember that for future reference – definitely don’t have the time for it at the moment though 🙁

  2. Anything to do with family history i find fascinating, old newspapers are a treasure chest of families gone by. Although nothing replaces the old fashioned photos, and a little tip always always write on the back. I have many albums but photos will always end up in a pretty box , ready to be looked at another year………years & generations pass and the names ad details are lost. Help your future family to remember you !
    Will be up in my loft now Liz looking through mine, thanks for this great article and the Gallery !