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Tracing Your Insolvent Ancestors (Paperback)

A Guide for Family Historians

Family History True Crime P&S History Social History

By Paul Blake
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 223
Illustrations: 30
ISBN: 9781526738653
Published: 23rd April 2019

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Debtors’ prisons are infamous but very little has been written about the records of those confined within them in London or elsewhere in the country. Even less has been written about the trials of those who were often incarcerated following misfortune or mismanagement rather than criminal intent. That is why Paul Blake’s handbook will be so useful for researchers who want to find out about forebears who may have been caught up in the insolvency system.

In a series of information-filled chapters he covers the historical background to the handling of debt and debtors, and bankruptcy and bankrupts. In addition he describes the courts and procedures faced by both creditors and debtors, and the prisons where so many debtors were confined.

Throughout the book details are given of the records that researchers can turn to in order to explore the subject for themselves. Many are held at The National Archives, but others are to be found at local record offices around the country.

Paul Blake’s book will be appreciated by local, social and family historians, as well as those with an interest in debtor crime and punishment, and bankrupts in general.

As featured in

Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society

Paul Blake's book will be appreciated by local, social and family historians, as well as those with an interest in debtor crime and punishment, and bankrupts in general.

West Surrey FHS

This is an excellent, very detailed deep dive into a voluminous set of records about which little has been written... If you have found an ancestor, probably in a newspaper, who is identified as an insolvent debtor or bankrupt then this is the book to which you must turn. This is the only book available that guides the reader step-by-step through these voluminous sets of records to find the details of misfortune that family historians so love to find. This book is highly recommended.

Read the full review here

Milner Genealogy

So much work must have gone into this book to collate such a wealth of material and searching tips. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in social history.

Read the full review here

London Historians' Blog

As featured by

Family Tree, October 2019

As referenced in author article 'The Gazette'

WDYTYA? Magazine, August 2019

A practical and expert guide to researching insolvent debtor and bankrupt ancestors, explaining the court system, the punishments available and the arrangements for the imprisonment of debtors and their release.

Cumbria FHS

"Whether you are looking at this historical system in terms of local, social or family history this is a book which will help you with your research project."

East Yorkshire Family History Society

Experienced genealogist Paul Blake provides here a practical guide to researching insolvents, debtors and bankrupt ancestors and it is packed with details.

Bristol & Avon FHS

As featured on The Lost Cousins Newsletter

Lost Cousins

While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.38), "Tracing Your Insolvent Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians" is a unique, impressively informative, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Genealogy instructional reference and resource collections.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

Paul Blake’s book will be appreciated by local, social and family historians, as well as those with an interest in debtor crime and punishment, and bankrupts in general.

Read the full review here

Rosie Amber, Blogger

The author suggests that the complexity of legislation and the fragmented organisation and disparate nature of surviving documents, may account for the relatively limited use of insolvency records by family historians. However, this wonderfully compiled volume may just open up a path to new research opportunities.

Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

I am fascinated by the subkect of genealogy, and found this new book from Pen and Sword miost entertaining and informative. We found ancestors in our search who went from being quite wealthy to having nothing, and would have made much use of Paul Blake’s excellent book had it been available to us at the time we were doing our own research.

Books Monthly

About Paul Blake

Paul Blake is a full-time researcher and lecturer. His interest in naval records stems from his own ancestors who served in the Royal Navy for many generations. Paul lectures widely on a variety of family history and related subjects, in England and overseas. He writes regularly for genealogy magazines and is joint author of the books The Complete Guide to Creating Your Own Family Tree and Discover Your Past. He is a fellow and former chairman of the Society of Genealogists, and he is president of the East Surrey FHS. He lives in southwest London.

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