I was trying to explain, over the phone to a friend this weekend, what parish records were.
My friend’s understanding of family history was more or less at the beginners stage and so I found myself explaining how the parish is the smallest local administrative area in England and Wales even today.
In modern times a parish council looks after a civil parish that can range in size from a large town with a population of around 80,000 to a single village with fewer than a hundred inhabitants and is not connected to the church parish at all.
As confusion between this civil administration and the church parish had, by now, crept into our conversation I had to point there was a difference. The modern parish council was distinct from a parochial church council, which is the executive committee of a Church of England parish. This parochial church council had come out of the old parish vestry committee, which it had replaced in 1921.
Having got those two clear in his mind I then muddied the waters when I explained that this hasn’t always been the case and that at one time the church parish was also the arm of local government!
It is believed that parishes have been in existence from Saxon times (9th century) when they grew up around the Minsters.
For family historians the three most important records, at a parish level, are normally referred to collectively as the Parish Registers. They contain the names of our ancestors’ Baptismal records, Marriage records and their Burials. In England and Wales the parish register system, administered by the Church of England, had been in operation since 1538 and the reign of Henry VIII.
Older registers will have been written in Latin and so we may need to be able to translate that language. There are various tools on the internet that may help, not the least of which is Google’s translation tool.
Even those later records, which are written in English, can vary tremendously in their readability and the amount, or lack of, information that they provide.
Sadly for family historians, many older parish records have not survived through time and so we cant expect to find full records for each parish that we are researching back to 1538.
With that proviso in place – a surprising number of parish records have endured.
Once a parish register is full it will normally find its way to be housed at the local Diocesan Office (often the County Record Office, but beware when a diocese covers more than one county). To avoid too much wear and tear, on these valuable old books, most have been microfilmed and can be viewed in the record office on microfilm readers and some have made it online at the large subscription sites.
If you want to learn more then I explain more about parish records in a lesson within the Family History Researcher course.
Many people will be aware of the Parish Registers and how useful they are, but not so many of us would be able to name all of the lesser used Parish records that would have found a place within the parish chest in our ancient parish churches.
Here are some other records that could be in the parish chest records for your ancestor’s parish and which I regaled my friend with in our telephone call:
The Churchwardens Accounts
Glebe Terriers and Tithe Records
Charity Accounts (possibly not of a great deal of use to family historians!)
Petty Constables Accounts
Various other miscellaneous records
I had to stress to my friend that it is by no means certain that these documents will have survived the ravages of time, but that if they have then the originals should now be stored away safely at the relevant County Record Office for the church in question.
Cheekily, I suggested that he take out a subscription to my 52 weekly tutorial Family History Researcher Course to learn more – especially as he could have the first month for £1 (normal monthly subscription is £9.95 thereafter for the next 11 months. Cancel at any time, no questions asked and no hoops to jump through).
To pay in sterling: http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/trialoffer/
I think he thought this was me offering “mates rates”, but actually it is my current offer to everyone. If you wish to pay in US dollars then I am currently offering a $1 trail for a month, consisting of four lessons, and then $14 a month for as long as you wish to remain, or until I’ve sent you lesson 52 which ever is the sooner.
To pay in U.S. Dollars: http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/specialoffer/
I don’t know if you have seen this? The National Archives have added a new tool onto their Discovery search.
As they say on their blog, since February 2014, they’ve been investigating methods for linking people who appear in their records, to start revealing the connections that tell the real stories of people’s lives.
Two years later the project that they have called, Traces through Time, is at the point where users of the Discovery catalogue can benefit from these efforts.
The blog goes on to say: “If, in the last few days, you’ve been researching a person who served in the First World War there’s a chance you’ve noticed our new feature: a section reading ‘other possible matches’. This feature went live just a few days ago at the end of March. If you have already come across it, we hope you liked it.”
TNA point out that many of us will have made links like this on Discovery while researching our family history. As they say it is relatively easy for us humans to make a decision whether two records relate to the same individual that we have found in the returns from a search on Discovery. People can make a judgement based on the information presented to them. For example if the date of birth is very close for an individual, or if we are lucky enough to be searching for someone with an unusual middle name and spot this in the mix of results.
Naturally the blog raises the question that many of the readers will be asking. Just how can TNA ‘teach’ a computer to make these very human judgements?
Their answer is that their data scientists and statistical experts have identified ways of linking names across records, with the added value of a confidence rating.
Take a look at their blog post Making Connections: tracing people through our collection here.
Or watch on YouTube here.
At the recent Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016 Nick Thorne spoke to the professional genealogist, author and teacher, Celia Heritage about tithe records for England and Wales and how useful they are for finding your mid-nineteenth century ancestors. If you are trying to flesh out your family tree with forebears from all levels of society at this time then these records are a wonderful resource. While you can see the maps and schedules in record offices up and down the country there is an easier way. It is to search the schedules and maps in the only online national collection at TheGenealogist (requires a Diamond subscription).
Celia Heritage is the author of a number of family history books including Researching and Locating your Ancestors published by Discover Your Ancestors Publishing. £9.95 ISBN 978 1 911166 00 9
Compensated affiliate links used above: http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/
At the recent family history show, Who Do You Think You Are? Live, I was fortunate enough to be able to catch some of the presentation that Laura Berry gave. As a leading television genealogy researcher she had some great insights to give her audience from her experience with celebrity family trees and how you could use the techniques to find your own ancestors.
Later that day I caught up with Laura on the Discover Your Ancestors stand where she was signing her book:
Discover Your Ancestors’ Occupations.
The publication is aimed at family historians who are intrigued about their ancestor’s work life. It is often among the first details that we learn about an individual from the civil registration certificates and census records and from it we may make assumptions about a person’s social standing, community, financial situation and even their health.
Laura Berry’s book is well written with lots of examples and links to websites. Chapters cover agricultural forebears, Craftsmen, Tradesmen & Merchants; Industry; Professionals; Profit & Loss; Entertainers and going further.
What is the chapter on Profit & Loss about? In that chapter Laura casts her expert eye over collections of records that chart the peaks and troughs in an ancestor’s career whether they were tradespeople, craftsmen and women, in business, mariners, military or labourers.
Discover Your Ancestors’ Occupations by Laura Berry
published by Discover Your Ancestors Publishing. ISBN 978 1 911166 02 3 £9.95
Available from www.discoveryourancestors.co.uk
Laura Berry’s website is: http://www.lauraberry.co.uk/
Check out my video interview with Laura Berry:
Compensated affiliate links used above: http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/
At the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show last week I was introduced to a great service from Story Terrace for people who are researching their family history. Story Terrace will take your family story and match you with a writer who will then work with you to make a fabulous hard back book. If you want to add to your family tree a book that includes the stories that you have found in your research, then this may be for you!
As they explained, life is worth writing down as we all have moments that we don’t want to forget. Perhaps it is our childhood memories, our ancestors lives or simply those stories that our parents and grandparents have to tell. Story terrace offers a complete service that allows you to preserve your stories in a beautiful book. They offer to pair you with one of their professional ghost-writers so that together you can create a one-of-a-kind biography.
Check out their website at: www.StoryTerrace.com
While at the NEC for the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show I managed to catch up with Andrew Chapman the editor of the Discover Your Ancestors Bookazines and online periodicals.
Some readers of the publications may have noticed that I am now a regular writer for Discover Your Ancestors, so I make no apology for this being the first of my video interviews from a great three days in Brum!
Read my article in this month’s Discover Your Ancestors periodical on the highest ranking British ofﬁcer held by the Germans and found in the new online German prisoner of war records released by TheGenealogist .
Purchase a subscription here:
Compensated affiliate links used above: http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/
TheGenealogist launched 4 unique record sets at the recent Who Do You Think you Are? Live
TheGenealogist team have added some new records to their site that will be of interest to those doing family tree research in Essex, Worcestershire, Surrey and Westmorland.
- The latest release adds over one million new parish records.
- New Colour Tithe Maps for Surrey in partnership with Surrey History Center
- New Colour Tithe Maps for Westmorland in partnership with The National Archives
With over 2.5 million Essex Parish Records their latest release makes TheGenealogist the place to go for Essex Research.
The launch of 900,000 new Essex Parish Records transcripts brings the total coverage for that county to over 2.5 million individuals. Spanning the period from 1512 to 2005
These records with our BMDs and Census allow family historians to research ancestors from this eastern part of England with ease.
Also released are over 158,000 Worcestershire Parish Records, bringing Worcestershire’s coverage to over 2 million individuals
Colour Tithe Maps
Westmorland Colour Tithe Maps are published in partnership with The National Archives and is just one of the many counties to be conserved and digitised by TheGenealogist.
Many more will be published in the forthcoming months.
These releases bring the addition of wonderfully detailed colour tithe maps to complement the online collection of tithe schedules and greyscale maps that have already been so well received by family historians researching where their ancestors lived.
This rich store of land occupation and usage records were created in a massive survey of England and Wales from between 1836 and the early 1850s.
In these early years of the Victorian period, at a time when people were moving from the countryside to the towns, many of the urban areas that we see today as part of cities and towns can be found mapped out as tithable plots. This includes some parts of London and other big cities where cottages and gardens are plotted in the same way as fields and woods are in the countryside.
These records are made available online by TheGenealogist in a partnership with The National Archives and several County Record Offices.
Brief History of Tithes
Tithes were an amount of produce given to the church, originally a tenth, then finally it became a tax on the income from the land. This was paid to the Church of England and to some lay people who owned the rights that had previously been due to the dissolved monasteries. In 1866 the majority of England and Wales was still paying what the government recognised was a discredited tax. Before they could legislate, however, they first had to collect details of what people paid – and so all the owners and occupiers of land subject to tithes were recorded and thus this fantastic resource was created.
To check out these new records head over to www.thegenealogist.co.uk
To search for your ancestor’s wills and countless other useful records take a look at TheGenealogist now.
Compensated affiliate links used in the post above http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/
I’m just back home after my trip away to dear old ‘Brum’ to see the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show (some of my own family history relates to this city).
In its second year at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham it certainly continues to meet expectations as being the world’s largest family history show. There were all levels of researchers attending over the three day event. From talking with many of them I could quickly see that some were quite clearly just starting out in tracing their family trees and looking for some help with where to find their forebears.
There were also those more experienced researchers wanting to see if any of the new records and tools, that the major sites were offering, would help them discover more about their elusive ancestors. A number of professional genealogists were at the event to network and give lecture talks, or work on the many stands that packed the hall.
I really enjoyed mixing with my fellow minded family historians at the show and catching some of the really interesting talks such as those by leading genealogists Laura Berry and Celia Heritage, plus the Breaking down brick walls talk by Mark Bayley on TheGenealogist stand.
I also got to talk to some old and new friends and catch up with some of my fellow bloggers in the family history blogosphere. Dick Eastman, from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and I shared commiserations about how tired our feet felt by the Saturday and it was really good to meet up in person with John D. Reid from Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections blog.
I shall be posting some videos from the event shortly, but in the mean time here are a few photo’s to give a flavour of the show.
For all of us that enjoy finding out about our ancestors and what they did, then the annual treat of the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show is coming next week to the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.
I’m looking forward to being there to see what new tips I can pick up, catch up with like minded folk – who are not embarrassed about talking about family history – and seeing what new records have been made available.
If you like the idea then why not come along to ‘Who Do You Think You Are? Live’ – the world’s largest family history show – on from the 7th to the 9th April? This year there is also the ‘Antiques for Everyone’ show in one of the other halls at the NEC between 7th and the 10th April so you can really immerse yourself in celebrating the past.
At Who Do You Think You Are? Live, Antiques Roadshow experts and heirloom detectives, Eric Knowles and Marc Allum, will be on hand to help date any family treasures and place them in their social context. Or pop along to the photograph daters who will be looking at the styling, dress and background of your old photographs to unlock the secrets that they contain. The Society of Genealogists will be offering one-to-one guidance on your family history research and there are many talks to listen to both on the stands and in the theatres around the hall. You can listen to TV presenter and Strictly star Anita Rani whose WDYTYA? TV episode was so emotionally interesting. There are a whole host of seminars, presentations and workshops about DNA and tracing your family tree and breaking down your brick walls. Plus there will even be a full-size replica Spitfire at the show complete with its own ground crew and WW2 props.
While at Antiques for Everyone more than 230 specialist dealers will be in attendance offering a huge variety of desirable and unusual items. The fair is known for its ceramics, glass, paintings and British and continental furniture, jewellery and vintage clothing, art deco items, silver, decorative collectables, to 20th century design and contemporary pieces.
Antiques for Everyone will be at the NEC, Halls 18-19. from April 7 to 10. Admission costs from £12. For further information and to book advance ticket visit www.antiquesforeveryone.co.uk
Who Do You Think You Are? Live is also at the NEC, hall 2. from April 7 to 9. Admission costs from £16. All workshops must be booked in advance. For further information visit: www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com
If you want to discover your elusive English/Welsh ancestors then learn more about how to research and where to find the records and resources.
Join the many satisfied subscribers to the Family History Researcher Academy now!
Hit a brick wall with your English/Welsh ancestors?
Learn how to discover where to find the many records and resources that will help you to find your forebears.
Join the Family History Researcher Course online.
Those of you who have followed me for some time may realise that I have a number of seafaring ancestors in my family tree. As the wind this Easter blows up around Force 7 to 8, with the prospect of it reaching Sever Gale 9 as Storm Katie crashes her way into our lives tonight, my thoughts naturally turn to those who make their living at sea and those of my ancestors who made theirs on ships big and small.
Perhaps it was happenstance that this weekend I should get a press release from a publisher notifying me about a new book from Simon Wills that came out in February. This volume is a comprehensive guide to interpreting photographs of seafaring ancestors from 1850 to 1950. It is aimed at helping you identify your ancestor’s roles at sea. and it explains their ranks and medals and will provide the researcher with tips for investigating careers. The book is a fascinating insight into Britain’s maritime history so if you, like me, have sea salt in your blood then it is worth taking a look.
TRACING YOUR SEAFARING ANCESTORS by Simon Wills is published by Pen & Sword RRP: £14.99
172 PAGES • PAPERBACK
Photographs of your seafaring ancestors may tell you more about their lives
than you realise, and Simon Wills’ helpful and practical guide shows you how to
identify and interpret the evidence caught on camera. Since maritime roles have
been so vital to Britain’s prosperity and military might, they are among the
commonest professions depicted in photographs of our ancestors, and this
handbook is the ideal introduction to them.
Maybe your ancestor was a seaman in the Royal Navy, a ship’s captain, a
steward on an ocean liner, or an officer in the naval reserves? This book shows
you how to spot photographic clues to an individual’s career. Whether your
ancestor served in the merchant navy or the Royal Navy or in another seagoing
role such as a fisherman, a Royal Marine, or even a ship’s passenger, Simon
Wills’ book will be your guide.
About the Author
Dr Simon Wills is a genealogist and journalist and a regular contributor to
Family Tree, BBC Who Do You Think You Are? and other magazines. He writes
mainly about maritime history and genealogy, but he also has a special interest
in health and disease in the past. He works as an information specialist, writer
and advisor to the National Heath Service and other healthcare organisations. His
most recent publications are his history of British passengers at sea, Voyages
from the Past, and a well-received novel Lifeboatmen.