I love looking at maps, when it comes to thinking about my ancestors and working out where they lived.
I know that I am not alone in this, but that other people just don’t seem to get it.
What is it that we, who find maps interesting, see in them?
For me it is seeing the layout of places compared to how they have developed today, for one.
I also love the ability to sometimes be able to work out why an ancestor lived where they did – perhaps it is the nearness of an industry, or some other place of work, that becomes blindingly obvious when you find that their street was a five minute walk from the factory or the dockyard where your rope-maker ancestor was employed.
I find it exciting to see how, in 1731, people who lived in Birmingham would have had a five minute walk from the centre of their town to see countryside. That there were fields on the other side of the road to St Philips’ Church (now the Cathedral) and there was no Victoria Square, Town hall or the Council House at the top of New Street and that Colmore Row was then called New Hill Lane!
Maps can be very useful for the researcher, looking into their family tree and so I have put together my personal list of the top five resources that I would recommend.
In reverse order…
Number 5: The Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers. The maps in this book can help you identify contiguous parishes to your ancestors’ parish. Useful when you have a brick wall finding christenings, marriages and burials of your kin in their original parish, consider looking at the surrounding area and researching in the neighbouring parish records to see if you can find them.
Number 4: The Interactive Bomb Map of London online at bombsight.org.
The Bomb Sight Project has scanned original 1940s bomb census maps, geo-referenced the maps and digitally captured the geographical locations of all the falling bombs recorded and made it available online. You can use their interactive map to explore and search for different bomb locations all over London. I have used it to find where an ancestor’s shop was on the street. As a post war building now stands on the site I wondered if it had been destroyed in the blitz. Using this application I was able to discover that it had indeed been destroyed by a German bomb.
You can click on individual bombs on the map and find out information relating to the neighbouring area by reviewing contextual images and also read memories from the Blitz.
Number 3: FamilySearch’s maps at http://maps.familysearch.org
When I am trying to find out which other Church of England parishes exist in an area, as an online alternative to the Phillimores (mentioned above), I often use the maps.familysearch.org resource. It can be useful if you want to discover which county a parish is in, which diocese it is part of, or which civil registration region it was in. You can also use the drop down menu to find its rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, C of E province (Canterbury or York) or division.
Number 2: National Library of Scotland NLS Maps
This website gives you access to over 160,000 maps from all the countries of the United Kingdom and not just Scotland! With maps dating from between 1560 and 1964 this is one of my ‘go to’ websites when I want to see a map of a place that my ancestors lived. I often turn to a map over laid on a modern map or satellite view or chose to view an old map side by side with a modern version.
Number 1: National Tithe Maps online via TheGenealogist.co.uk
My top map resource is that of the collection of surviving tithe maps that have been digitised by TheGenealogist for the ability to often find ancestors actual plots of land and houses from the time of the tithe survey (1837 to the mid 1850s and sometimes later when an altered apportionment map was drawn up). While the accompanying Tithe Apportionment books detail the land that they either owned or occupied, these records can be so revealing as to where our forbears lived and whether they had some land to grow produce or keep animals. All levels of society are included and surprisingly some streets in major cities were included. The collection covers approximately 75% of England & Wales – as a minority of land was not subject to tithes by this time.
Disclosure – I do have a business relationship with TheGenealogist as I write articles on using their records and resources that can be found in family history magazines such as Discover Your Ancestors, Your Family History and Family Tree for which I receive remuneration. Not withstanding this fact I stand by my selection of the tithe maps as my personal number one map resource for the ability to use them to discover the plot where an ancestor lived and what they may have grown there.
In addition some, but not all, of the links in this post are compensated affiliate links.
I found myself at The National Archives this week renewing my reader’s ticket which had expired.
The process requires researchers to fill out a form online at a computer terminal and then watch a 5 minute video about how to handle TNA’s documents. I was surprised that, even to someone who thought that they knew all that stuff, the presentation taught me something!
It was how to examine a document with a seal attached that stopped me in my tracks. It was pointed out that the process for looking at the other side of the seal required the reader to deftly turn the entire document over, while turning the seal at the same time. The video suggested asking a member of staff for help, if the process was to daunting for the researcher to carry out themselves.
There were many other tips on how to unpack, look at and repack documents without damaging them – including how to deal with those tagged together with, what I recall from my days in stationery retailing, as ‘Treasury tags’.
When I finally got to the reading room, to collect my bundles of documents and start making my exciting discoveries from within the records that have not made it online at any of the subscription sites, I was fascinated to see that not everyone heeds the advice. In a display cabinet, by the service point, was a set of horrifying photographs of how some documents had been returned. It made me wonder at how unthinking some people can be. Having, presumably, extracted the benefit for them selves from viewing the papers, they had little concern as to the preservation of these records for anyone else.
In my recent video for my YouTube Channel I looked at three brick walls a researcher may have finding their ancestors birth certificates in England and Wales.
Mistake number one that people make is to believe that their ancestor would have been registered with the name that they went by for the rest of their life; but this is not always the case.
What if, in between registration and baptism, the parents decided to change the name of the child? It would have been possible, under the law, for them to amend the birth registry by going back to their local registrar to give them the new name – but very few of our ancestors would have actually bothered.
Another thing to look out for is that some people prefer to be known, when they have grow up, by their middle names. Now I know of a family where the father, the mother and all the children all go by their middle names making them impossible to find in the official documentation of census and poll books.
Here is another scenario: let’s say there are two brothers who have two sons roughly about the same time and they both decide to call their sons John, in memory of their grandfather John Snr. Well the two cousins, as they grow up, may want to adopt different names in order to differentiate themselves from their cousin.
Mistake number two I like to call ‘Surnames Surprise’.
Where parents are not married then in most cases the birth is recorded under the mother’s surname and usually that’s going to be her maiden name. But consider a case where she is a widow and so her legal surname is that of another man; so that the child will have been registered with that surname because its mother still has that name!
A slight variation to this is where somebody takes their stepfathers name. Maybe you found them in the censuses using the stepfathers name and because when you come to look for the registration you’ll find them registered under the name of their father, who perhaps has now passed away.
The third mistake that people make I will call ‘Who’s the father?’
So what if your ancestor never knew their father and then, when they come to their wedding day, what is the name that they are they going to enter (or give to the vicar or the registrar to enter) in the marriage registry? If they don’t know what their father was called then they may well make it up.
Also people can make their fathers names up and their occupations to make themselves more important. I had a case researching a client’s family where we found a soldier marrying in a garrison town. He gave his father as being Colonel Hamish Brown. It turned out, through my research, that his father was actually Reg Brown, a policeman.
Or watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHWXehAelp0
So if you’d like to find out more about how to tease out your elusive English or Welsh ancestors then go to
Its starting to feel a bit like Christmas, as I wrap the presents for some of my family today. Once I had finished doing this I thought that I’d better get in the festive mood on the blog as well and so I did a trawl of Wikipedia to find a picture of what is thought to be the first Christmas card produced.
The image above is of that very first in the line of seasonal greetings cards that we all now send. Commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, in 1843, he sold them for a shilling each. Sir Henry is best known as the man who had helped introduce the Uniform Penny Post, in 1840, to Britain and his Christmas card, illustrated by John Callcott Horsley, would have encouraged people to make use of the postal service.
The picture in the middle is meant to depict three generations of a family who are toasting the person to whom the card has been sent, while the other panels show scenes of charitable giving of food and clothing to the poor.
As it is the time of year to give gifts I decided that I should drop the price of my best selling English/Welsh family history course – at least from now until New Year’s day – as my Christmas present to you.
If you are struggling to find your English or Welsh ancestors and break down your brick walls, then you would do well to take a look. With this course you will quickly learn where to research on and offline, what resources to use and gain some useful tips and techniques.
To read more click one of the links here and make a seasonal saving:
For U.S. readers
For Canadian readers
A very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
Just in time for Christmas comes the release of TreeView 2.
Check out the press release from the team at S&N:
Leading family history publisher S&N Genealogy Supplies have just released TreeView 2, the next version of their popular family history software package specially designed for U.K. family historians.
TreeView stores your family tree on your PC or Mac with the option to easily sync your tree with TreeView.co.uk and its free iOS and Android app, allowing you to keep your family history at your fingertips. Privacy options for your online tree allow you to retain complete control over your research.
TreeView has many powerful features including:
● Sync your tree between the software and all of your mobile devices.
● Display your tree in a variety of different ways including pedigree, family, ancestors, descendants, hourglass, fan and even a full tree view.
● Create beautiful charts and detailed reports in seconds.
● Attach facts, notes, images, addresses, sources and citations to your ancestors.
● View your entire tree on screen, or zoom in to a single ancestor.
● Quickly discover how people in your tree are related using the relationship calculator.
● Identify anomalies in your data with the problem finder.
● Map out your ancestors lives with map view.
● Import or export your family tree using the GEDCOM standard.
Powerful New Features in Version 2
● Linked charting
● Click to focus
● Extra charting features
● 5 new customisable reports types
● Enhanced individual report
● Drag and drop mapping
● Improved search
The new linked charting feature is a great time saver – when you reopen a chart you will be given the option to update it to include any new changes that you have made, such as date or place changes to events.
Whilst using the Tree Views you can click to focus on any person to shift the emphasis on the tree displayed. The person chosen will then become the main focal point of the page.
As well as customising the types of charts, text size, background colours and images, extra charting features have been added so you can now customise the font and colour of the text, along with the colour of the boxes, borders and connections.
Adding to the original report facilities (Individual, Family & Narrative reports), TreeView now comes with a range of new customisable report types, including Address List, Birthday/Anniversary List, Missing Information Report, Descendant Report, printer-friendly Pedigree Chart and a handy blank Pedigree Chart to fill in when out and about researching. All of these reports can be exported in PDF or RTF formats.
The individual report (Which outputs all the details about a person) now supports multiple individuals, so you can select one person and add ancestors, descendants, both or even select your own list of people to include.
The new drag and drop mapping feature allows you to pinpoint an exact place on a map where an event occurred. Co-ordinates for the places you tag are saved and can be exported in GEDCOM files.
The improved search enables you to look for common attributes among your ancestors. You can now search your entire database using keywords, for example “Baker” would find the word in a name, fact, note, etc.
TreeView 2 is a powerful and easy to use family tree program. You can sync to the cloud and your mobile devices. TreeView’s privacy options allow you to keep full control of your data when storing your tree in the cloud.
TreeView 2 Premium Edition (£39.95) – Includes:
○ Full TreeView 2 program
○ Quick Start Guide
○ 4 Month Diamond Subscription to TheGenealogist.co.uk (Worth £59.95!)
○ Cassell’s Gazetteer of Great Britain & Ireland 1893 (Worth £16.95!)
○ Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography (Worth £16.95!)
○ English, Welsh & Scottish Landowners 1873 (Worth £36.90!)
○ Irish Landowners 1876 (Worth £12.95!)
Upgrade to TreeView 2 today for only £14.95
Go to TreeView.co.uk to find out more.
TheGenealogist has made millions of new Hampshire Parish Records available on its site.
- Released in partnership with the Hampshire Genealogical Society there are over 2.1 million new fully searchable records of individuals released online for the first time
- With these records those searching for ancestors from Hampshire can discover almost 1.8 million people recorded within the baptisms from this area in the south of England as far back as 1538 up to 1751
- Family researchers can also discover the details of over 212,000 individuals from marriages between 1538 and 1753 and nearly 143,800 people listed in the burials of Hampshire from 1838 to 1865
Hampshire Genealogical Society worked with TheGenealogist to publish their records online, making 2,135,878 individuals from baptism, marriage and burial records fully searchable. Dolina Clarke, Chairman of Hampshire Genealogical Society said:
“The Hampshire Genealogical Society have decided to put the remaining data from their parish register indexes for Hampshire, which are not already on line, with FHS-Online and TheGenealogist (S & N). We looked at various different online sites and felt that S & N were able to offer us a very fair deal. Furthermore they are a British company with whom we have had a very good relationship for over 20 years.”
Dolina Clarke, Chairman HGS www.hgs-familyhistory.com
Mark Bayley, Head of Online Development at TheGenealogist, welcomed Hampshire Genealogical Society to the growing number family history societies on both TheGenealogist and FHS-Online saying: “We’re delighted that HGS chose to publish their records through TheGenealogist and FHS-Online. This release adds to the ever expanding collection of parish records on both websites. These partnerships help societies boost their funds whilst bringing their records to a much wider audience, through online publication.”
This release joins TheGenealogist’s already published Hampshire parish records, sourced from the Phillimore Registers, and soon we will also be adding further transcriptions that will fill in any gaps to provide an even more comprehensive coverage of this important county.
If your society is interested in publishing records online, please contact Mark Bayley on 01722 717002 or see fhs-online.co.uk/about.php
Example: The last Briton to die in a duel on English soil.
James Alexander Seton was the last British person to be killed in a duel on English soil and he is buried in his family’s vault at St Mary’s Fordingbridge, Hampshire.
During the early 1840s James Seton, and his wife Susannah, rented some rooms in Southsea on the outskirts of Portsmouth, Hampshire. Seton was a man of means, inheriting wealth, and so had no need to work. The son of a Colonel, he had spent a brief spell in the Army as a junior cavalry officer though his short career never found him being promoted any higher than the rank of cornet. The Setons were of Scottish ancestry, their forebears being descended from the Earls of Dunfermline and Seton’s grandfather was Vice-Admiral James Seton, governor of St Vincent in the Caribbean.
In May 1845 James Seton met Isabella Hawkey, whom he set about pursuing even though he was a married man. She was the wife of Lieutenant Henry Hawkey, an officer in the Royal Marines. When the coast was clear, and her husband was away, Seton began paying visits to Isabella at her lodgings bearing gifts. Lt. Hawkey began to hear the rumours of this and forbade his wife from seeing Seton again. On 19 May 1845, however, there was a ball held in the King’s Rooms, Southsea, which the Hawkeys as well as James Seton attended. When Isabella danced with Seton this caused a quarrel in which Lt. Hawkey called Seton a “blaggard and a scoundrel”. Having been insulted by this, Seton decided to challenge the Royal Marine Officer to a duel. The next evening, on the beach at Browndown near Gosport and after the seconds had measured out fifteen paces, the duelists took their pistols and fired. James Seton’s shot missed his opponent; Henry Hawkey’s pistol was half-cocked and failed to fire. Under the rules of dueling, that could have been an honourable end to it but Lieutenant Hawkey insisted on a second exchange of shots and this time Seton fell when he was struck by a bullet entering his lower abdomen.
Suffering from his wounds, the wounded man was taken by boat to Portsmouth where he was operated on by the eminent London surgeon Robert Liston. The surgery at first appeared to go well, but then infection set in and Seton quickly went downhill. He died of his injuries on 2nd June 1845 and was buried eight days later. His funeral procession through the town saw most of the shops closing in respect and he was laid to rest in a tomb outside the east front of the church next to his father. A search finds his burial on the 10th June 1845 in the Hampshire records on TheGenealogist.
I watched the first programme in the new BBC series of Who Do You Think You Are? with a certain amount of extra interest this week. As the show revealed that the cockney actor, who plays the landlord of the Queen Vic in East Enders, was descended from Albert Buttivant I became a bit concerned when Danny Dyer started talking about French ancestry.
You see, I was involved in putting together the article for TheGenealogist website, which you can read here.
Our research had not traced Albert Buttivant, the one time inmate of the Old Town Workhouse, back to France and so I wondered where the show was going! Imagine my relief, as our article had already been published on TheGenealogist’s website, that the programme quickly got back on course and identified the line to be the same as the one that we had found back to East Anglia.
I watched nervously as they made the same connection as we had to the landowning ancestor named Robert Gosnold (1587-1633), a member of the landed gentry with a coat of arms. It is the Gosnold family connection that gives Danny a gateway ancestor into blue blooded forebears via Thomas Cromwell. The self taught lawyer who had risen from being the son of a blacksmith to be the Chief Minister to Henry VIII only to lose the king’s favour and end in execution on Tower Hill.
As we had guessed correctly – the marriage of Thomas Cromwell’s son Gregory to Elizabeth Seymour, sister of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII’s third wife, was Danny Dyer’s link to royalty. We knew that this was where the programme would be heading, as it had been widely trailed in the press in the days before; but it just goes to show how many of us mere common people could possibly find a drop of diluted royal blood in our own ancestry if we looked far enough back and had a spot of luck.
What the programme didn’t tackle, however, is the strength of the Seymour’s claim to royal blood and with it Danny Dyer’s claim. It is through Jane and Elizabeth’s mother, Margaret Wentworth, that a descent from the blood-royal of England was maintained by the family. The assertion is that it flows in their veins from an intermarriage between a Wentworth and a supposed daughter of Sir Henry Percy (1364–1403), known as Harry Hotspur, who was the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland. Hotspur had married Elizabeth Mortimer, grand-daughter to Lionel Duke of Clarence the third son of King Edward III of England.
At the time of Jane Seymour’s marriage to Henry VIII few people would have dared to dispute a pedigree with the king and he was convinced that his bride was a royal cousin. In the TV episode Danny’s pedigree was presented on a beautiful scroll by a Herald from the College of Arms, who is an expert in the oldest families of the realm. So it does make me wonder, is that a line drawn under that particular dispute then?
To read our article on Danny Dyer’s ancestors go to TheGenealogist.co.uk
Or to read another account about Danny Dyer see: http://www.timedetectives.wordpress.co
Compensated affiliate links used in the post above http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/
If you’ve got English or Welsh ancestors, then I’d like to give you my three top tips for using parish records to find them. Perhaps you can’t find your ancestor in the parish records for the village or the town where all the rest of the family are recorded and so this is where you expected to find them also?
- Have you thought that people did move, even in the olden days? They would go where the jobs are; or maybe they stayed put, but had fallen out with the vicar and have simply found a church which is more appealing to them. So the first tip on my list is to check the surrounding churches.
How are you going to find the surrounding parishes whose records you want to investigate? You could turn to this fantastic book that’s called the Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. It’s in its third edition, available from various booksellers and genealogy supplies. It has some fantastic maps which show you the different parishes in and around the area that you’re looking at.
2. Another way for you to check for the contiguous parishes to yours, that is the parishes surrounding, is to go over to maps.familysearch.org and then put in the parish or the county that you wish to search for. As an example I’ve decided to Centre on a parish called Ravenstone in the county of Leicestershire. By default it’s gone to give me the parishes within a five-mile radius and it lists them all down the left side. If I just highlight Huggleston and Donington or maybe these ancestors went to Coalville, Woodville, Heather (spelt ‘Heather’ but it is pronounced Heether) and then there is Normanton le Heath.
So that is maps.familysearch.org and it covers the parishes for all of England and Wales.
3. My third tip is to use a website like TheGenealogist. Why am I using TheGenealogist? Well it has some very cunning little tools that allow you to search for the parents of somebody that is in the baptismal records.
Now here we’re looking for Mary Ann Evans in Chilvers Coton.
Who is Mary on Evans? Well if you are literary minded then you might know George Eliot the English novelist, poet, journalists, and translator. She used a male pen name because it meant that her works will be taken more seriously.
Returning to TheGenealogist records, we have the parish records baptism here for Mary Ann and we’re going to click on the icon which gives us the detail that her father’s name is Robert Evans and that her mother’s name is Cristiana Evans. Well I’m going to use this useful SmartSearch tool here that TheGenealogist have to discover: ‘The parents potential marriage’
With a single click it returns to us the records for any Robert Evans marrying a Christiana and in this case we discover that they didn’t get married in Chilvers Coton, where Mary Ann Evans was baptised. They got married in Astley, Saint Mary the Virgin – which actually is about nine miles down the road. So, there you are, a very very useful facility on this website TheGenealogist.
So if you’d like to find out more about how to tease out your elusive English or Welsh ancestors then take a look at
Here is a Press Release written by the team at TheGenealogist this week:
What TheGenealogist has in store for 2017
2017 is going to see millions of new records added to TheGenealogist across a wide variety of collections.
New Data Sets
We are adding millions of new and unique Parish Records and Bishops’ Transcripts are being added for many more counties.
A new and unique record set covering detailed records of our ancestors houses, which will be searchable by name, address and area, with high resolution maps showing the property.
Our ongoing project with The National Archives is set to release yet more detailed Colour County and Tithe Maps with tags to show where your ancestors lived.
We are releasing a 1921 census substitute, using a wide variety of records including Trade and Residential Directories of the time.
New decades of BT27 Passenger Lists and Emigration Records will become available.
Our International Headstone Project will be expanded with more Commonwealth Cemeteries added.
More worldwide War Memorials added to our comprehensive database.
Following on from our release of over 230 million U.S. records in 2016, we will be launching more U.S. records in 2017.
New & Improved Census Images
Thanks to new technology and new Silver Halide Film provided by The National Archives, we have now been able to re-scan the 1891 census with improved resolution and quality. This combination of improved readability and new transcripts will help locate your ancestors and view the relevant images with a superior grayscale format. Our “Deep Zoom” images have over 5 times the resolution of previous images. They will be lightening fast to view thanks to the technology used in our new image interface. We will launch these new images in early 2017.
Look out for these exciting new developments and more in 2017 at TheGenealogist.co.uk
“We are releasing a 1921 census substitute, using a wide variety of records including Trade and Residential Directories of the time.” This looks very interesting indeed!
To search these and countless other useful family history records take a look at TheGenealogist now!
Compensated affiliate links used in the post above http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/