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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > May 2018 > Books



Review & Q&A

A war hero & showman

You may never heard of Philip Astley but, after 250 years, his name could be about to return to the big time. In April 1768, this remarkably skilled equestrian, a celebrated ex-soldier who had fought in the Seven Years’ War, pegged out a 42ft ring and first invited paying audiences to watch him perform trick riding, essentially founding the modern circus. Astley created the comic character of Billy Buttons and for 30 years brought together all kinds of circus performers to entertain generations of our ancestors. In his new book, genealogist and circus expert Steve Ward investigates the life and times of this extraordinary man, in all his 6ft, larger-than-life glory, bringing his largely forgotten story back in the public arena. With the uncovering of new biographical information, and set in a turbulent time in British history, this book is as educational as it is entertaining, as we step back into the early days of the endlessly magical circus.

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About Family Tree

Where are you going to take your family history this spring? From planning a trip to The National Archives to a meander down memory lane, there are so many choices... I bet there are few among us whose hearts don’t gladden when spring is in the air, and this issue we’ve got all sorts of ideas to help you get out and about and enjoying your family history. Whether you’re going to pay a visit to the archives, or plan a day out or weekend away to the places where your family once came from, it’s sure to add so much to what you know about your ancestors’ lives. It’s definitely true – the more we look, the more we learn. Have fun!