This week I was reading Chris Paton’s blog: The GENES Blog and it neatly drew my attention to a great resource for those researching their Welsh ancestors (http://britishgenes.blogspot.com/2017/05/historic-welsh-boundary-maps-go-online.html ).
It seems that The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (https://rcahmw.gov.uk) has created two digital geospatial layered maps using late-medieval sources and historic parish boundaries to recreate the boundaries of the commotes (cymydau) and cantrefs (cantrefi) of medieval Wales.
They go on to say that ‘future developments will examine how these boundaries have changed over time and map them in further detail.’
What is great is that it is a free resource that they have made available to the public as an aid to encouraging research.
To view the maps visit https://rcahmw.gov.uk/mapping-the-historic-boundaries-of-wales-commotes-and-cantrefs/.
Earlier this month The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales also recently launched the The List of Historic Place Names of Wales. This is, as they say ‘a ground-breaking website that provides a fascinating insight into the land use, archaeology and history of Wales. Over 300,000 place names are included in the List, reflecting the various forms and spellings used historically, and revealing the often forgotten or overlooked legacies of buildings, people, archaeological or topographical features in our landscapes.’
For more on this visit https://rcahmw.gov.uk/list-of-historic-place-names-now-live/.
TheGenealogist has expanded its Newspaper and Magazine collection with the release of The Sphere that cover August 1914 to June 1919.
Using the Historical newspapers and magazines resource on TheGenealogist enables researchers to follow current affairs that may have affected or concerned our ancestors at the time. Because the articles were written as events were occurring, they provide contemporary accounts of the world that our ancestors lived in and can furnish us with great insights into opinions of the time. In the case of the First World War years, covered by this release of The Sphere, we can gain information about individuals or read about situations that are similar to ones that our ancestors may have found themselves in.
The Sphere was an illustrated paper founded by Clement Shorter (1857-1926) who was also responsible for establishing the Tatler and it covered general news stories from the UK and around the world.
War Memorials collection
Also being released at this time by TheGenealogist are another 116 War Memorials containing 10,795 names. Included in this batch are a number of Boer War memorials as well as those for the First World War. With this addition the total figure for memorials on
TheGenealogist has now reached 1,540 with 363,838 names.
To search these and many other records on TheGenealogist, go to: www.thegenealogist.co.uk
The Sphere, providing insights into your ancestor’s lives.
I wrote this piece for TheGenealogist to show how I used the Newspaper and Magazines collection to better understand conditions in World War I.
The Sphere December 12 1914
I have been looking a little closer into the war exploits of my step-grandfather. I knew that he had joined the Royal Engineers Special Reserve Motor Cyclist Division as a despatch rider but, like many of his generation that fought in the First World War, he didn’t talk much about his experiences. What I did know was that he had found it ‘quite exciting’ to ride his despatches from headquarters to the front and back on a motorbike. He never expanded on this and certainly didn’t tell us stories about his escapades, nor what it was like to be a soldier on two wheels.
With the recent release of copies of The Sphere, on TheGenealogist, I was thus fascinated to come across the December 12 1914 edition of the publication. Here was an article about motorcycle despatch riders from the early part of the war. This day’s publication featured a double page evocative image of a motor-cycle despatch rider on his machine fleeing with the enemy on his tail. As I knew that my step-grandfather was in his late twenties at the time and a keen motorcycle rider I could imagine him reading pieces such as this and wanting to join up to the R.E. Motor Cyclists to ‘do his bit’.
I know that Grandpa also served in the western theatre of war and so this image and the report that followed, resonated with me. I could now imagine him in similar situations as had been described and pictured in the newspaper. In this particular article from the newly released records, the rider telling his story suffers a whole lot of problems: ‘On returning I take the wrong road and my machine gives trouble, and whilst repairing same I suddenly find myself surrounded by Uhlans.’ This narrator is captured, has his hands bound behind his back and he feigns illness. When his guard goes to fetch a doctor the British Tommy escapes by rolling into a ditch. This episode makes me realise that when my step-grandfather said it was ‘quite exciting’ this was probably a bit of an understatement. Their duties were certainly not a simple ride in the countryside.
The British Army in World War I would often used Douglas or Triumph Motorcycles for despatch riding duties which only had between 2 and 5 hp engines. Some riders, however, brought their own machines along when they joined up. These motorbikes would have to be inspected by the military to make sure that they were suitable for the purpose; but in the early days, when many of the men were volunteers, this would have meant that this section of the Royal Engineers Signals would have been up and running quickly. In my step-grandfather’s case, however, looking at his attestation papers I can see that this part had been scored through – indicating that he would have had to be issued with an army bike.
Later in the First World War Grandpa was wounded and by reading other articles, such as that published on the 9th January 1915 about the RAMC work at the front, I got an understanding for how injured men were transferred in motorised omnibuses and ambulances that were also subject to breakdowns of their own.
Resources such as The Sphere, The War Illustrated, The Great War, The Illustrated London News, plus the other historical newspapers and magazines already found on TheGenealogist are great for building a picture of situations that our ancestors may have found themselves in. In some cases we may be lucky enough to find an ancestor actually named in a report – but even when that doesn’t happen we can find write-ups that provide us with an understanding of the wider conditions in which our ancestors worked, played or went to war in.
Another use that we can make of this resource is where we have an ancestor who was unfortunate enough to have lost their lives, while serving as an officer in the First World War. In many editions of The Sphere Rolls of Honour were published. In these we are able to find a picture along with a few lines recording their loss. The Newspaper and Magazine collection is available to all Diamond subscribers of TheGenealogist.
Click here to find out more:
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used in this post.
I am going to miss the annual genealogy-fest that was the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show but it doesn’t come as a surprise. This year’s show was enjoyable but, as I and many other commentators across the web had noticed, the number of on-topic stands were down while the number of charity booths and other stands were now very noticeable in the hall.
Where do we go to now? Well…we could always check out the smaller family history fairs up and down the country and I am already looking forward to attending the Yorkshire Family History Fair at the York racecourse on June the 24th. See: www.yorkshirefamilyhistoryfair.com
This one is new, but like the York event which has been a regular in the calendar for some years, it is being run by my old friends Discover Your Ancestors Magazine, for whom I am a regular contributor of articles. Both shows are sponsored by TheGenealogist
Hope to see you there. Oh, and by the way, I’ve just seen that they have a special offer on the tickets at the moment: Early Bird offer: Buy your tickets early and when you buy one ticket, they will give you another ticket FREE!
Yorkshire Family History Fair
Saturday 24th June 2017
10am to 4.30pm
The Knavesmire Exhibition Centre, The Racecourse, York, YO23 1EX
Admission: Adults £4.80, Children under 14 FREE
Family History Show – London Event
Sunday 24th September 2017
10am to 4.30pm
Sandown Park Racecourse, Portsmouth Road, Esher, KT10 9AJ
Admission: Adults £4.80, Children under 14 FREE
Disclosure: As an article writer I have a commercial relationship with Discover Your Ancestors and TheGenealogist. Also, affiliate links to Discover Your Ancestors and TheGenealogist are used above.
It was a pleasure, while gathering new ideas from the stands at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at the NEC, to come across Wladimir Carlos Ledochowski and his Genealogy Art stand. I like to find new ways to display my research into my ancestors and this exhibitor certainly demonstrated how he can take a person’s research and turn it into really beautiful family tree.
Wladimir was promoting his work to the visiting family historians at the show and I got him to explain a bit more about the number of products that he offers that can help you display your family tree in such an attractive way. Watch the video here or contact him via his website at www.genealogy-art.com.
If you are still completing your research into your English or Welsh ancestors then before creating your family tree do make sure that you have got the most details gathered that you can.
Nick, The Nosey Genealogist, who carried out this interview, has an extremely well received family history course that can quickly give you the tools to track down your ancestors. Check out the links in the sidebar to the right of this page to pay in US, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand Dollars or buy in sterling with this link: www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/trialoffer
To coincide with the announcement of a UK general election in June, TheGenealogist has released over 100,000 Parish Records and thousands of voter records on its website.
In time for the snap general election, TheGenealogist is adding to its Polls and Electoral records by publishing online a new collection of Poll books ranging from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.
These new records released today offer a tantalising snapshot of our ancestors interaction with the Church and the State of the past.
- Find the names of people and their ‘place of abode’ in the electoral registers
- Discover the nature of their qualification to vote, such as possessing a Corn Warehouse, a Workshop, a House, or owning a Brewhouse
- Some of the earliest records in this release reach as far back as 1209 when the king who was known as Johan sanz Terre (John Lackland) ruled the country
- The Parish Records are one of the most useful of all resources for family historians as they can be used to find the baptism, marriage or death of an ancestor at a time before the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths
The records cover 35 different registers of people who were entitled to vote in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and other constituencies situated in Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and New Westminster in Canada. These have been added to our Poll and Electoral Roll collection covering millions of records.
At the same time TheGenealogist continues to expand its vast Parish Record collections with the addition of 100,000 new individuals added for the County of Worcestershire and additionally the Registers of the Parish Church of Rochdale in Lancashire that covers the period between 1642 and 1700.
Also being released at this time are some records that will take the researcher all the way back to ancient times!
The Roll of Mayors of the Borough and Lord Mayors of the City of Leicester records the names of men holding that office from between the 10th year of the reign of King John in 1209 and all through history to 1935.
The first Mayor listed in the Roll of Mayors of the Borough and Lord Mayors of the City of Leicester
The Worcestershire Parish Records were added through a partnership with Malvern FHS while the electoral records are taken from the official lists produced to record who was entitled to vote in the various parliamentary elections.
To search these and many other records on TheGenealogist, go to: www.thegenealogist.co.uk
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used in this news item
At the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show recently I got to talk to the MD of Living DNA, David Nicholson.
This video is a great way of finding out more about the DNA test for ancestry offered by this new entry into the market. This company offers a three in one test that is causing a great deal of interest for its ability to give a sub-regional breakdown of results and so show the regions within a country that our ancestors came from.
Their product provides us with an opportunity to really get to learn about where our ancestors came from using the latest advance in genomic research. A Living DNA Test is perfect for advancing your knowledge on your own personal DNA, while offering the most detailed DNA test to look at your ancestry through history. A Living DNA Test takes you on a journey back through your family history which has never been possible before.
Click here to Check out Living DNA
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used above.
Tracing Theatrical Ancestors
I love finding new resources to look for my ancestors and working out where they may have worked and lived. It was thus a pleasure, while gathering new ideas from the stands at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at the NEC, to come across Professor Katharine Cockin of the University of Hull.
Professor Katherine Cockin was on a stand that was introducing family historians to the AHRC Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Database. From talking to her I learnt of the project to make available the database to those who may be searching for their theatrical ancestors and thought that this was worth publicising.
Databases such as these can be a very useful resource for the researcher looking into their family tree. I hope you find this video of use.
Or watch now on YouTube: https://youtu.be/3QDDuefYk-0
Having returned from my trip to Birmingham and this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live, it is only now that I can look back and consider what I thought of the show.
Overall it was a very enjoyable event, even if I was a bit disappointed by the lack of certain family history societies that had not made it to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) this year.
Full marks go to those who did lay their stalls out. I think that FHS stands are an important component of a family history show and I would hate it if more stayed away.
Looking back to the years at Olympia, there always seemed to be more societies there than currently exhibiting in Birmingham. I also got the impression that several small genealogical businesses had bowed out this year and was equally disappointed that even The National Archives were not present at the show!
While all the big family history companies were there as usual, I couldn’t help notice the number of charity stands in the shell-scheme section of the hall and the small number of exhibitors that were unrelated to family history – I can only assume that their presence was as a result of canny businesspeople believing that the profile of the visitor to WDYTYA? LIVE would be a match to their own potential customer. I didn’t photograph any of these stands, so I am not referring to any that appear below!
Among some of the other interesting family history stands that got my attention were…
Writing the Past, run by Michael Sharpe, a genealogist, researcher and writer. As well as providing research services he also offers to create a book or a website to present your family history. I hope to look at Writing the Past in a bit more detail in a later post.
I had intended to post a video in the next few days, but I am just battling with a slight technical issue with some of my video files from the show – so fingers crossed that I get this sorted!
Searching for Theatrical Ancestors was yet another stand that caught my eye. Here I spoke to Professor Katherine Cockin from the University of Hull about their Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Datebase at ellenterryarchive.hull.ac.uk
I hope to be able to post a video here shortly, so watch this space!
And then there was the breathtakingly beautiful family trees created by Genealogy Art. I spent some time with Wladimir Carlos Ledochowski and with luck my video with him will be posted here in the near future. In the mean time take a look at his website at: www.genealogy-art.com
More posts to come from this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live show soon…
In the mean time I am already looking forward to York in June and the Yorkshire Family History Fair.
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used in this post to TheGenealogist and Living DNA
TheGenealogist launches millions of new Parish records as well as their New British in India Collection
TheGenealogist has just announced three important releases to coincide with the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show covering Britain and British India.
Over 2.5 Million people in the latest release of Parish records!
Augmenting the substantial Parish Records that are already available on TheGenealogist comes the release of more than 2.5 million people for two major counties:
Hampshire Parish Records (Bishop’s Transcripts) (886,616 individuals)
This brings their total number of records to 3,199,820 with coverage of
Baptisms: 2,379,836 (1538 to 1940)
Marriages: 495,034 (1538 to 1940)
Burials: 324,950 (1538 to 1940)
Durham Parish Records (1,697,206 individuals)
This brings their total number of records to 1,850,068 with coverage of
Baptisms: 1,253,273 (1556 to 1919)
Marriages: 198,845 (1540 to 1896)
Burials: 397,950 (1538 to 1939)
These will be a boon to Family Historians looking for key events in the lives of their ancestors.
The British in India Collection
The TV series ‘Indian Summers’ starring Julie Walters created in many a fascination with India under British rule. This new record set reveals information about those ancestors that lived in the subcontinent, their lifestyle and the communities that they lived in.
Millions of British people went out to India in the past and so many family historians will have an ancestor that made the journey. For some, India would turn out to be their last resting place and among their ranks were merchants, soldiers, sailors, civil servants, missionaries and their families.
To browse the Image Archive for relevant photographs search for the tags ‘India’ and more specifically ‘Hill Station’ for pictures like the one below.
Parish Records of British in India
Headstone Records of British Cemeteries in India
British War Memorials in India
East India Registers
Indian Army and Civil Service Lists
Image Archive – British in India
The release of The British in India Collection on TheGenealogist now allows family historians to search for ancestors who went out to British India in a very broad-ranging set of resources ranging from the early 1800s up to the 1920s.
These records make up part of the Diamond subscription to TheGenealogist
Last weekend to SAVE and BUY tickets to the show
I’m on my way to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in Birmingham, via a detour to trace a bit of history up in Yorkshire this weekend.
Next week I am going to be helping my friends on TheGenealogist stand, as well as going around the show hopefully picking up some news from the other exhibitors that I can share here on this blog.
If you haven’t already got your tickets then remember that now it’s the last weekend to purchase them if you want to get them at a special ticket offer price. You can have 2 tickets for only £26 (SAVING £22!*) valid for this weekend only! Check out the offer at: http://wdytya.seetickets.com/tour/who-do-you-think-you-are-live
This year’s show promises to be the biggest and best yet, with over 130 exhibitors, plenty of great talks such as the free ones offered by various experts in the talks theatre next to TheGenealogist’s stand as well as a timetable full of inspiring expert workshops featuring Sir Tony Robinson courtesy of AncestryDNA, and a guest appearance from Strictly Come Dancing and Casualty star Sunetra Sarker. At the show you will also enjoy rare military vehicles, a 1940s sitting room, Photo Daters, a Military History checkpoint, access to billions of free records and much, much more.
Don’t miss your chance to attend this event – undoubtedly the highlight of the genealogy calendar and a fantastic day out where you’ll be sure to find all the expert advice, tips and guidance you need to enhance your own family history discoveries.
For more information, and to start planning your day click HERE.