Monday, November 7, 2011

Working as a Family History Missionary, Guy Fawkes and News From Home


Dear Family and Friends,

Someone had a question about what exactly we are doing on our mission and I thought I would take this opportunity to answer. We began working in the London Family History Centre which is normally located in the Hyde Park Chapel. When the building closed for refurbishment at the end of August, we were invited to move our Centre out to The British National Archives (TNA) at Kew in Surrey.


We are located on the first floor in a beautiful large area surrounded by computers and shelves of old books.


The other missionary couple working with us are Barbara and John Robertson, who are also from Orem. We very much enjoy working with them. Another missionary couple is scheduled to come in December.

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We have an average of about 50 people a day. The majority are not members of our church. They come mainly to search out their British ancestry on the microfilms of the parish records that we have with us at Kew. We brought over 62,000 microfilms from the Hyde Park Chapel. Our patrons also use our computers to get on premium web sites for which we have subscriptions. We are there to run the Centre, help the patrons with their research and make scans of the images they want from the films. We also have individual responsibilities. I keep the history and do the statistical reports and Ken organizes the scheduling. Some of our patrons are just beginning and others, including some professional genealogists, are quite skilled. Besides researching English and Welch ancestry, have many people doing research in Irish, Scottish, East Indian and Jamaican records. Even Americans, Canadians, and Australians who come to the Archives to do research on their English roots often end up coming to us for help. We sit down at the computer with a patron and help them get started with their research.

We have regular hours that we work, Tuesday through Saturday, so in that way it is much like a 9-5 job. Some evenings we are open until 7. Since The National Archives are closed on Monday, that is our preparation day where we have a chance to clean, shop and go sightseeing. Sunday we are assigned to go to the North London Ward and serve there in any way we can. It’s quite a journey out there- we take 2 buses and 2 tubes to get to the ward- an hour and a half trip.

We love what we are doing! Every day we have wonderful experiences helping people.

A few days ago I was helping an older gentleman find some records. He knew that I was an American and told me about the first Americans he had ever met. It was when he was a child during World War II. He was walking along a road and a group of American soldiers came by. He offered one of them an apple and the soldier took a bite and then threw it away because he said it was rotten. He asked the soldiers why they weren’t marching like the English soldiers and the German soldiers he had seen on news reels. One of the Americans replied that they didn’t march, they only rode in trucks and they were walking slowly until their truck (the gentleman called it a lorry) came along. He was left with an unfortunate impression of Americans. After the war he completed his education and  moved to Norway where he worked as a university professor. A few years later he went with a Norwegian colleague to California on a business trip. He told his colleague that he wanted him to do the talking as he didn’t think Americans liked the British and he had a British accent. He said that he soon found out that Americans were wonderful and friendly people so the impression he had formed as a child was incorrect. He went on to say that he was so impressed that the workers in the Family History Centre would come and sit with people and help them to find their ancestors.

On Saturday, we were invite to help out at a family history fair in Woking, Surrey with Matthew Pridham, our assistant director. It was held in the Woking Leisure Centre and hosted by the West Surrey Family History Society.


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There is a huge interest in family history research in the UK and there were family history societies from all over Surrey who set up booths. Talks given during the day and Matthew gave one on FamilySearch. There’s a great deal of respect here for the work our church has done in the preservation of British records. The other day I overheard a conversation in the cafeteria at TNA. A lady was explaining to a companion that the way to begin researching a family is to start with

Returning home from Woking we got off the tube at Sloan Square. It was dark and the square had been decorated for Christmas.




It was the most magical setting.


Guy Fawkes Day               

When we were returning on the train from the family history fair we could see the fireworks being shot off to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes or Gunpowder Day is celebrated each year in England on November 5th.

After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, the English Catholics hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of Catholics. James’s mother Mary Queen of Scotts had herself been Catholic. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Mary Queen of Scots, was the granddaughter of Henry VIII's elder sister Margaret.


            Queen Elizabeth I              James I and Mary Queen of Scots 

After this tolerance did not occur, 13 young men decided to take drastic action and blow up the Houses of Parliament. They were hoping that the King James might be killed in the explosion.

The young men, including Guy Fawkes, took 36 barrels of gun powder and put them in the cellar of Parliament. Word of the plot reached the King and the King’s forces found Guy Fawkes with the gun powder when they stormed the cellar on November 5, 1605.


Guy Fawkes was tortured and executed. Ever since that time when the monarch of England enters Parliament once a year on the “State Opening of Parliament”, the Yeoman of the Guard searches the cellars of the Palace of Westminster. On the night of November 5th, throughout Britain, Guy Fawkes capture is remembered by fireworks and bonfires.

There’s even a nursery rhyme:image

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...



News From Home

We have one birthday and one birth to celebrate in our family. Carter will be 5 years old November 10. Happy Birthday Carter!


Our sweet little grandson Landon was born October 25.


Landon is our 17th grandchild and 11th grandson. When our children were small they would sometimes ask, “Who do you love the most?” I would always answer that I don’t love anyone ‘the most’. It’s amazing how our hearts swell with love for each new addition to our family, no matter the number. We will be so excited to come home from our mission and be able to hold and get to know Landon and Riley, the two grandsons who have joined our family since we left on our mission.


Our love to all!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)

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