England Auction Catalogues, Awards, and Certificates (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Education,Health and Contemporary Documents  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Miscellaneous Sources[edit | edit source]

Auction Catalogues[edit | edit source]

Printed and online auction catalogues are a wonderful and underused source for the genealogist. The items are fully described thus information can be gleaned without actually purchasing them, although one pertaining to your ancestor may be just what you want for Christmas!

Titford’s quarterly Family Tree Magazine column on Auctioneers’ and Booksellers’ Catalogues of Manuscript Materials has a couple of dozen each time. In February 2004 he listed nine apprenticeship indentures, two marriage settlements, four military commissions, three probate items, a settlement certificate, an approval for an abortion, a certificate of a drowning, a Gretna Green marriage certificate, an 1814 travelling permit for a released prisoner of war, a public apology, and an Admiralty poster regarding a runaway apprentice, together with a list of auctioneer addresses and websites.

Awards and Certificates[edit | edit source]

This is a very wide field, covering not only educational achievement, but any other field of accomplishment or service. Any family trophies, plaques, medals and vellum or paper certificates are probably in your relatives’ attics. You may be lucky to come across them pictured in local Family History Society magazines, described (and looking for homes) in national ones such as Family Tree Magazine or for sale at flea markets or online auctions. A few certificates that my parents gained, giving their descendants an idea of their varied interests. Some of these may lead to accounts of the events in local newspapers and certainly in the club magazine.

Civilian Gallantry Medals[edit | edit source]

A special category of award is medals given nationally usually to civilians for bravery, the main ones are:

  • Albert Medal for merchant seamen, Royal Navy, and later firemen, miners, railwaymen, the army and others.
  • British Empire Medal for meritorious service (from 1922) mainly for civilians.
  • Edward Medal for miners, quarrymen, and later dock workers, railwaymen etc.
  • Empire Gallantry Medal for meritorious service (1922-1940) mainly for civilians.
  • George Cross for meritorious service (from 1940) mainly for civilians.
  • George Medal for meritorious service (from 1940) mainly for civilians.
  • Queen’s Gallantry Medal for meritorious service (from 1974).
    Sea Gallantry Medal for merchant seamen.

There are also special medals for gallantry by police:

  • African Police Medal later called the Colonial Police Medal.
  • Constabulary Medal awarded in Ireland.
  • King’s Police Medal later called theKing’s Police and Fire Services medal, and now the Queen’s Police Medal.

Details on civilian gallantry awards are given in The National Archive research guide D13.

Cycling Club Founding Member

Gallantry Award for Cycling.jpg

(From the personal collection of Dr. Penelope Christensen)

Discharge Certificate from Red Cross.jpg

Photo Competition Award

Photo Competition Award - Certificate.jpg

(From the personal collection of Dr. Penelope Christensen) Horticultural Society Show

Horticultural Society Show Certificates - England.jpg


(From the personal collection of Dr. Penelope Christensen)


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Education,Health and Contemporary Documents offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.