Genealogy achievements in 2017 and goals for 2018

The dying days of the year are when people usually look back on the 12 months which have just passed, and set resolutions or goals for the next dozen. Me? I was too busy, racing against the clock to achieve one of my targets for 2017, to give much thought to 2018! But the new year is here now, the clock is reset, another trip around the sun has begun. It’s time to look both backwards and forwards, taking stock of what I have (and haven’t) done and making plans for the next phase of my genealogical journey through the family history of the Atcherleys.

Goals achieved in 2017

The Genealogy Goal for 2017 that I was working on right up to the wire was the addition of 30 new posts to this website. Thanks to a slow start in the early part of the year, I had it all to do in the later part. Counting my opening Genealogy Goals 2016 – 2017 as post number 1, and my rewrite of The Misses Atcherley and their seaside holidays from 2014 as another I got there by the skin of my teeth – with two stories posted on New Year’s Eve!

My rewrite of the story of the Misses Atcherley of Shrewsbury came about because of the sheer volume of additional information on the sisters which I had gathered, mainly from the British Newspaper Archive’s outstanding collection of historic newspapers (also available at Findmypast). I was able to add five new stories relating to these Atcherley sisters (The Misses Atcherley and the Salop Penitentiary, in two parts, was fascinating to research) and there are further instalments waiting to be written.

Another Atcherley who I enjoyed writing about in 2017 was Roger Acheley, an Alderman, Sheriff, and Lord Mayor of London and a Freeman of the Drapers’ Company whose life spanned the late 1400s and early 1500s. Challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and there’s more to come!

A story which I had not planned to research and write, but which I really enjoyed when an email prompted me to do so, was that of Oliver and Atcherley: The men, the firm and its history (in two parts). This focussed on a company rather than on the Atcherley who was involved in it for part of its history, and it has a great postscript – I was able to buy the Oliver and Atcherley dress (pictured above, photos courtesy of Simon Howard) which had sparked the email that led to the story.

I was also really pleased to be able to document The life of John Atcherley, waggoner of Kinnersley, my great granduncle (or 2x great uncle). He led an ordinary life carrying out a job which was the lot of many other labouring men in rural England, but thanks to Google Books and British Newspaper Archive I was able to shine some light on waggoners in general, and John in particular.

One final highlight of my writing year is one of the posts I added yesterday: Caroline Frances Amherst Atcherley and an opera by Donizetti. A picture may paint a thousand words – and the photograph I acquired this year of the Atcherleys of Marton Hall with their amateur opera company is a real treasure – but it’s great to finally showcase it with words explaining what was going on!

Do check out the full list of posts added to this website in 2017.

Digitised newspapers – not only at the British Newspaper Archive but also at and to some extent Welsh Newspapers Online – were a vital resource for most of the stories added to the Atcherley family history website in 2017. I regularly check for newly-added notices and news stories featuring Atcherleys, so another of my goals for last year, “to continue finding and transcribing historic newspaper reports and notices featuring members of the Atcherley family, to build up more detailed pictures of their lives”, was easily achieved. I think of this as ‘business as usual’ now.

Another goal was easily achieved thanks to the General Register Office of England & Wales repeating its PDF trial. In fact I think it’s fair to say I overachieved! The aim was to repeat my 2016 goal, “Order more BMD certificates to ‘fill in gaps’ and add to my knowledge about how the Atcherleys lived – and died”, “but maybe order a smaller number!” Hah! I ordered more than I did in 2016, and went beyond the terms of the goal by adding my collection of Atcherley BMD records online, with transcripts, at Flickr.

The success of one of my goals for 2017 – “Continue working with existing DNA results and new ones as they became available to see what they can tell us about the genealogy of the Atcherleys” – was to a large extent dependent on cooperation from others, and I’m pleased to say that this was forthcoming. For details of developments in Atcherley DNA research, see Putting the genes into genealogy – Part 3.

My aim of increasing the number of people in the Atcherley Family Tree to 2,000 by the end of last year came with this note: “In addition, I need to explore the possibility of creating a replacement online tree using TNG.” Well, I decided to take the plunge and install TNG (The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding) and it has now taken over as the platform for the online Atcherley Family Tree. It has considerably more than 2,000 people in it, so I’m chalking this one up as another goal achieved!

Other achievements in 2017

Adding about 150 updates to the Facebook Page over the course of the last year is, I think, worthy of a mention here. Unlike my Twitter feed @AtcherleyONS (which is as much a personal account as it is an Atcherley social media channel), the Facebook page is restricted almost exclusively to my Atcherley research and snippets of other genealogy news. Why not give it a Like and Follow?

Last year (particularly the last quarter of it) proved to be an exceptional one for adding to my ‘Atcherley Archive’. You have already seen photos of two 2017 ‘accessions’ to the archive: the Oliver and Atcherley dress and the photograph of the Marton Hall Amateur Opera Company. In addition, I acquired the following objects (links are to posts, with pictures, on my Facebook page) a bookplate featuring the arms of David Francis Atcherley (with those of Topping quartering Robinson); two postcards depicting Marton Hall (first, second); two photographs of Richard ‘Batchy’ Atcherley, one taken in Hong Kong and one taken at the National Air races in Cleveland, USA, in 1930; an order of exchange of lands between Thomas Atcherley Massy Dickin and Loppington parish (document from 1868) (both of these items pictured here); three volumes of the History of England, inscribed by Elizabeth Hester Isabella Atcherley (née Loftie) in 1843, a large photograph of the Royal Military College’s No. 20 Platoon, No. 5 Company, in 1922 featuring David Francis William Atcherley; a copy of The Help-All Kitchen Book compiled by Kathleen M Atcherley, the ‘day book’ of David Francis Atcherley in which his expenses as a circuit judge were recorded from 1835 to 1845, a copy of “An Airman Remembers”, by Air Marshall Zafar A Chaudhry of the Pakistan Air Force, which includes a chapter about ‘Batchy Atcherley’, and finally my most expensive purchase: a painting of Sydney Harbour from South Head, dating from 1885-95, by Henry Mount Langton Atcherley (image below).

Goals not achieved in 2017

The goals I missed out on were, I regret to say, all ones which I had brought forward from 2016. With regard to one of them – “Make greater use of wills written by Atcherleys and members of allied families to reveal, and share, the Atcherley family stories they contain” – I did at least make a start by creating a new section in the Resources section of this website “listing known wills and administrations (over 170 of them) made by or in respect of people bearing the Atcherley surname by birth or marriage.” There are two pages, one for Atcherley men and one for Atcherley women.

Neither of my ‘Giving Back’ goals – “Contribute photos to Billion Graves”, and “Contribute to the journal of the Shropshire Family History Society” – were achieved or even started on however.

Genealogy Goals for 2018

So, having reviewed 2017 here’s my rather daunting ‘to do’ list for the year ahead.

Data collection and research: Add to my collection of Atcherley death register entries from the GRO; analyse and synthesise the information contained in the collection. Identify copies of post-1858 Atcherley wills which are likely to be of particular interest and acquire them; produce abstracts / transcripts of copies of wills and other probate documents held. Acquire digital copies of more Atcherley documents held in archives and produce abstracts / transcripts. Catalogue, photograph and where applicable produce abstracts / transcripts of all objects held in the Atcherley Archive.

Sharing of data and stories via website and by other means: Share images and data from above activities to the greatest extent possible (taking account of copyright restrictions) through this website and its associated Flickr account. Increase the number of website posts (stories and articles) to at least 200 by the end of the year, completing WW1-related Atcherley stories by 11 November. Review and update existing posts to take account of new information, to the fullest extent possible. Add a subject index of posts on the website. Work towards full cross-linking of person profile pages in the Atcherley Family Tree and posts / pages on the main website. Investigate the possibility of exhibiting items from the Atcherley Archive to fellow genealogists and the wider public (e.g. through talks or displays). Contribute to the journal of the Shropshire Family History Society and/or other publications.

Let’s see how I do!