A few years back and it was impossible to find any English Church Registers online, but gradually more and more are appearing now and I take my hat off to the various family history websites that are entering partnerships with County Record Offices to bring us more and more of these very special records. Well done Findmypast and Ancestry to name two!
This week it was findmypast.co.uk that made available online records showing the life and times of some of the most famous figures in the largest county in east England, Lincolnshire, following a new project with Lincolnshire Archives to create the Lincolnshire Collection.
The handwritten registers date back to 1538 and span more than 300 years; they provide insight into baptisms, marriages and burials from 103 parishes across Lincolnshire, from Laughton to Gedney Hill.
Some of the incredible details include information on the baptisms of scientist Isaac Newton and poet Lord Tennyson, famous for the Lincoln inspired Victorian ballad, “The Lady of Shallot”. The records also include information on the burial of famous hangman William Marwood, renowned for inventing the “long drop” technique that ensured the prisoner’s neck was broken instantly at the end of the drop, considered to be a kinder way to be executed.
Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “The Lincolnshire parish records include fascinating information about some of our most noteworthy and infamous figures, not just from Lincolnshire’s history, but the whole of British history.
“Publishing them online so that people can find their ancestors and see whether they are related to Sir Isaac Newton or one of the other celebrities we’ve uncovered, such as poet Lord Tennyson, polar explorer John Franklin, or mathematician George Boole, is really exciting.”
Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for libraries and culture, said: “Lincolnshire has a rich cultural heritage, and the county council has long sought to celebrate and enhance this through digital access. The partnership with findmypast.co.uk is a very positive development that will help bring these records to a wider, global audience, and hopefully encourage people to explore more of the county’s vibrant history.”
At present I am yet to find any of my own ancestors came from Lincolnshire, but as I go on researching I am always surprised when someone from outside of the county marries into my family tree and sets me off researching a new line in a part of the country that I never knew I had kin from. Perhaps one day I will find a forebear from Lincolnshire, but in the meantime I recommend this data collection to any of you that have ancestors from there.
The records are now part of the UK’s largest online parish record collection at findmypast.co.uk and 1.6 billion family history records including censuses, military, newspaper and crime records and can be browsed at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/
Many resources available on findmypast.co.uk can be accessed for free in Lincolnshire’s libraries.
Disclosure: The links in this post are compensated affiliate links that may mean I am rewarded by Findmypast should you sign up for their services or products.
It is a well known fact that you should never import another persons research into your own tree until you have checked it. This weekend I have been looking at a Pedigree chart that was sent to me that, at first glance, seemed to give me some great leads on a branch of my family that I have not got further back than 1805 with.
The kind person who had sent it to me seemed to have identified the parents of the ancestor that I had myself got as far back as, and so I went to check the details myself.
At first I thought that it really did look like they had saved me a lot of work and had helped me with my family tree – until I noticed that there were two sons of the family with the same first name and one was my forbear, while the other purported to be his brother.
With the terrible instances of infant and child mortality, in times past, it is often possible to come across parents giving the names of dead siblings to the children born after the death of the older and now deceased child. In this pedigree, however, both of the supposed brothers lived long lives into adulthood!
Having been alerted by this error I now looked with closer interest at the purported father of my confirmed ancestor and noted that in the parish records collection there were two men baptised in the same city around the time I would have expected and that they had different parents and so were different families. So now I needed proof that the one chosen by my correspondent to be my forebear was indeed the father of my ancestor I had already researched and confirmed in the prime sources of the parish register.
Two siblings of the same name and two possible sets of parents!
This is a lesson for those that are new to family research to take on board when they start to search back before the civil records were taken over by the GRO from the parish church records.
It is equally a lesson for me. I was doing a little family research while feeling tired from a heavy week and the temptation was there to cut corners and import wholesale this enticing bit of research into my own tree. Luckily my sense kicked in and I started to check the details as I have been taught to do.
To learn how to trace your English and Welsh family tree properly take a look at my new course by clicking the image below…
I’ve just had an email from Ancestry and have immediately checked out their new records of Civil and Mechanical Engineers to see if I could find any of my engineer ancestors. If you have any that followed this career path then I’d recommend you too have a look now!
Just before I jump back to the data, that I have open in another window, here is their press release…
Today Ancestry.co.uk, has launched online for the first time the Civil and Mechanical Engineer Records, 1820-1930, detailing almost 100,000 of Britain’s brightest inventors and innovators from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The digitised records were collated from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and reveal fascinating details about the institutions’ members, including pioneers of automobiles, bicycles and even hydropower.
Many were behind some of the notable inventions of the age, including one of the foremost designers of the internal combustion engine (Ricardo) and even an early sniper rifle (Whitworth). Others created some weird and wonderful designs, including a cucumber straightener (Stephenson), an elaborate mousetrap, and early forms of amusement rides (both Maxim).
The collection comprises membership records and photographs of engineers who were members of both institutions between 1820 and 1930, and provides a unique insight into their careers and accomplishments.
Before the 1700s, engineers in Europe had been almost all military men. Although civil engineering work had been carried out before then, it had not been recognised as an identifiable profession. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) was formed in 1818 with a mission to ‘foster and promote the art of civil engineering’.
Founded in 1847, IMechE was formed for the growing number of mechanical engineers who were employed in the flourishing railway and manufacturing industries. The institution’s first president, rail pioneer George Stephenson is known for designing the ‘Geordie lamp’ used by miners. A record of Stephenson’s membership appears in the collection, along with a photograph.
Other famous engineers who appear in the collection include:
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel – Brunel was known for building dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering. Brunel’s membership form for the Civil Engineers isincluded in the collection, dated 27 January 1829.
- Sir John Rennie – In 1815 Rennie assisted his father, who was another famous engineer, in the erection of Southwark Bridge, and later undertook the construction of London Bridge in 1824, which was opened in 1831, the same year he was knighted. His membership was passed by the council of the Mechanical Engineers in 1844 after ‘many years in the profession’.
- Christopher Hinton – Hinton was a British nuclear engineer and supervisor of the construction of Calder Hall, the world’s first large-scale commercial nuclear power station. Born in 1901, Hinton’s application to join the Mechanical Engineers is in the records, dated 1921.
Sir F Henry Royce is another famous engineer listed in the records; he is known globally as the co-founder of the quintessentially British Rolls-Royce manufacturing company where his engineering legacy lives on today. Frederick W. Lanchester, another of the so-called ‘big three’ English car engineers, celebrated for his innovative work on gas and petrol engines as well as his later research into aeronautics and flight theory, is also featured.
Aside from cars, prolific railway engineer Thomas Brassey appears in the records. Upon his death in 1870, Brassey was responsible for one in every 20 miles of railway in the world. Irishman Thomas Andrews is also listed as the chief naval architect of the ill-fated Titanic and he lost his life on its maiden voyage in 1912.
ICE received a royal charter in 1828 and by the end of the 19th century had become both an educational and qualifying body when it introduced examinations for civil engineers.
IMechE started graduate examinations in 1913 and elected its first female member, Verena Holmes, in 1924. She got her first job building wooden propellers at the Integral Propeller Company in Hendon and went on to patent many of her own inventions including medical headlamps, poppet valves and apparatus for treating patients with tuberculosis. ICE’s first female member, Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan, is also included in the records, becoming a member in 1927.
Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “Included within this collection are some of the brightest brains Britain has ever produced, who were responsible for some of the country’s most iconic landmarks and feats of innovative design. Today, as it was then, engineering is a vital part of the country’s economy and it is fascinating to be able to learn more about the men and women who established this legacy.
“Not only do these records provide a unique insight into engineering during the 19th and 20th centuries but they will provide a valuable resource for anybody trying to trace an ancestor within the collection.”
The new database comprises three collections; the Mechanical Engineer Records, 1870-1930, the Civil Engineer Records, 1820-1930 and the Civil Engineer Photographs, 1829-1923, each of which is available to view from today online at Ancestry.co.uk.
Parish Registers are one of my great favourites among all the records available to family historians. They record something about ancestors of ours that may not have managed to get themselves recorded elsewhere in their lives, or at least in records that have survived through to today.
Every time I hear about more data, making it onto the Internet, I am thankful. My reason is that it may allow someone, somewhere, to make the right connection to their past family members that they may not have done without these databases.
I’ve been a bit busy theses last couple of weeks and missed this announcement when it first came out 9 days ago, but the Family history website findmypast.co.uk has added over 450,000 new parish baptisms, marriages and burials covering the period 1538-2009 from areas as diverse as Northumberland, Durham, Ryedale, Sheffield, Wiltshire and Suffolk to make it easier than ever to trace your ancestors further back through history and further expanding what has now become the most comprehensive collection of England and Wales parish records online. Paul Nixon, Content Licensing Manager for findmypast.co.uk commented on the new release “This is a tremendous step for those trying to uncover their UK ancestors, and a great resource for family historians with British roots worldwide”.
Full details of what this exciting record release contains are as follows:
- 141,525 Suffolk Baptisms 1753-1911
- 244,309 Wiltshire Baptisms 1538-1867
- 27,420 Northumberland & Durham Burials 1587-2009
- 22,687 Sheffield Baptisms 1837-1968
- 8,181 Sheffield Marriages 1824-1991
- 7,113 Ryedale Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1754-1999
These records are brought to you by Suffolk family history society, Wiltshire family history society, Northumberland and Durham family history society, Sheffield family history society and Ryedale family history society as a result of the ongoing partnership of findmypast.co.uk and the Federation of Family History Societies. They are available to search online now and can be viewed with PayAsYouGo credits, a Britain Full or a World subscription.
The records are available on all findmypast sites as part of a World subscription.
Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.
I see that Ancestry.co.uk has launched online Surrey Parish Records, 1538-1987, featuring more than two and a half million historic Surrey parish records in the most comprehensive collection of its type available online.
The records, the originals of which are held at Surrey County Council’s Surrey History Centre, detail baptisms, marriages and burials contained in Anglican parish registers, dating from 1538 to 1987.
Crucially many records in the collection pre-date civil registration, the government system established in 1837 to keep accurate accounts of citizens’ births, marriages and deaths, making this collection a valuable resource for anybody looking to trace an ancestor living before the 19th century.
Analysis of these records reveals fascinating historical trends, for example that the number of marriages increased by almost 1,000 in 1915 compared to the previous year, as couples rushed to the altar following the declaration of the First World War. (The number of marriages was 2,727 in 1914, increasing to 3,710 in 1915.)
Included in the records are a number of famous Surrey residents, such as:
- Lewis Carroll – The burial of the famed author of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ - real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, is recorded in the collection as taking place on 19th January 1898
- P. G. Wodehouse – The baptism of the writer Wodehouse, who was born prematurely whilst his mother was visiting Guildford, is listed as taking place on the 17th November 1881
- John Derrick – Historical sources reveal Derrick is probably the first named person known to have played cricket, while a pupil at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford in the mid 16th century. Derrick’s burial in Holy Trinity Guildford on 27th October 1613 features in the collection
- William Bray – The baptism of Bray, whose 1755 diary was revealed to be the earliest known manuscript to reference baseball, is included in the records as taking place on 7th November, 1736
Other names of note who feature in the records include Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy, who captained Darwin’s famous voyage around the world on HMS Beagle, Sir Barnes Nevill Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb used in the Dambusters Raid, and Jerome David Kern, one of America’s most successful composers of musical theatre, who met and married his wife Eva Leale in Walton on Thames.
In addition, the Surrey roots of Academy Award-winning actors Sir Laurence Olivier and Kate Winslet can be traced in the collection. The baptism of Olivier’s father Anglican Priest Gerard Kerr Olivier is recorded as taking place on 30th May 1869, 38 years before he welcomed young Laurence into the world in 1907, and the marriage of Winslet’s third great grandparents Thomas Winslet and Priscilla Tasker on 7th December 1824 features in the records.
Also included are a number of interesting entries, such as a baptism record revealing one John William Hoakes’ job as the ‘Inspector of a Royal Lavatory’, and records of the marriages of the humorously named George East and Ellen West in 1895, and of Luke Sex and Sarah Eager in 1743.
The collection can be searched by name, spouse’s name, father’s name, mother’s name, birth date, baptism date, marriage date, burial date, and by parish.
Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “Spanning half a millennium, these records are an invaluable resource for anyone looking to research the history of Surrey and its people – including some of the county’s most famous literary and sporting residents.”
“These records have been added to our comprehensive collection of Parish records, featuring millions of records from the length and breadth of England”
Julian Pooley, from Surrey Council’s Surrey History Centre adds:
“We are delighted that Ancestry.co.uk is helping us to make Surrey’s records so widely accessible for research. Thousands of people contact us each year seeking Surrey ancestors because they feel a need to understand their history, their family heritage, their place in their community. The discovery of these roots is more than simple genealogical number-crunching; it teaches new research skills, it brings scattered families together and makes new friends and it increases knowledge and awareness of the communities we live in.”
A free launch event for the digitised Surrey Parish Records 1538-1987 collection will be held on Saturday 6th July (10.30am – 3:30pm) at Surrey History Centre in Woking, with Ancestry.co.uk staff on hand to answer any questions about the records and help people search the collection, and experts from Surrey History Centre, East Surrey Family History Society and West Surrey Family History Society available to answer your family history questions. To book places on the presentations please phone 01483 518737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To coincide with recent commemorations on the RAF raid on the industrialised areas of the German heartland, TheGenealogist has announced the availability of full online records of one of the most daring bomber raids of World War Two.
Prior to the start of the war, the British Air Ministry identified Germany’s heavily industrialised Ruhr Valley and especially the dams as important strategic targets. Repeated air strikes with large bombs could be effective but Bomber Command had struggled for accuracy in the face of heavy enemy fire.
Finally ‘Operation Chastise’ was devised using a specially designed ‘bouncing bomb’ invented and developed by Barnes Wallis.
The operation was tasked to No 5 Group RAF, which formed a new squadron to undertake the mission. Led by 24 year-old Wing Commander Guy Gibson, a veteran of over 170 bombing and night-fighter missions, twenty-one bomber crews were selected from existing squadrons in 5 Group. These crews included RAF personnel of several different nationalities, as well as members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). The squadron was based at RAF Scampton, about 5 miles north of Lincoln.
Full details of the Operation Record Book are now online
The new records on TheGenealogist provide an in-depth analysis of the mission which went on to achieve legendary recognition. The fascinating information includes an account of each aircraft’s flight, including full crew list and details of the awards made to each of the crew members after the mission.
Operation Chastise was a success: two dams were breached and one was damaged, severely impacting German resources in the summer of 1943. However this success came at a high price. Of the 19 Lancaster Bombers that took part in the operation, 8 were shot down, with 53 aircrew killed and 3 taken prisoner. With the new records added to TheGenealogist, it is now possible to look at every airman involved in the raid, including all the brave aircrews and how they fared in this unique bombing raid.
The factual story of the brave men involved in the Dambuster raids
Flying very low in ever worsening weather conditions, the Operations Record Book of 617 Squadron provides us with an in-depth account of Operation Chastise. Commencing the story with their last training flight, to the operation itself, to the visit by the King and Queen to congratulate the surviving aircrews, all the details on the famous ‘Dambuster raids’ are now online. This new resource is ideal if you had a relative involved with 617 Squadron, or if you are interested in one of the most iconic RAF missions of World War Two.
Many of us will find that we have a male ancestor who has served in the British Army at some point during their lives. A smaller percentage of our women forebears will also have served the country but before 1949 women are found primarily as nurses, or in the auxiliary corps, and not in the Army as they could be today.
I recently set out to look for one of my ancestors and where I began searching for him depended on whether he had been an officer or a regular soldier as the records of ‘Officers’ are generally quite separate from the sources for those soldiers of the ‘Other Ranks’.
A second consideration, to take into account, was his dates of service.
In a lesson that I am including in my Family History Researcher course I will be covering some of the key resources that a person may want to use in their research. Some of these records are available online, while for others you will have to visit the National Archives (TNA) in person at their address in Kew.
TNA have an ongoing project to make scanned copies of their documents available via their online catalogue and so it’s well worth checking whether the information that you are looking for has been digitised before making a special visit.
I read some time back that it is recommended by various military historians that once an individual’s regiment or corps has been identified a researcher’s initial approach should then be to the appropriate regimental or corps museum.
I found my ancestor served in the 17th foot Leicestershire Regiment joining in 1864 as an Ensign, or junior officer and so I paid a visit to Leicester.
You can find details of these regimental and corps museums on the Army Museums Ogilby Trust’s website at:
On another visit to The National Archives I took the opportunity to take a look at their copies of Hart’s Army Lists, while there, and in the 1866 edition on the pages to the 17th Foot, The Leicestershire Regiment I found the entry for my great-great grandfather Ensign Edward A Massy Hay, 31 May 64.
For those who want to search the Army lists online then TheGenealogist has made this possible at their website having added a useful range from 1661 to 1940.
I have decided to reopen the membership to a second tranche of students now. So if you want to join my Family History Researcher course – aimed at beginners to intermediate researchers of English and Welsh family history – then click the image below.
IWM & brightsolid partner to create digital platform:
Lives of the First World War
Just heard this news from brightsolid…
IWM (Imperial War Museums) and brightsolid, the online publishing and technology arm of publishing group DC Thomson, are working in partnership to create Lives of the First World War – an innovative and interactive digital platform to mark the First World War Centenary.
Lives of the First World War will hold the stories of over 8 million men and women who served in uniform and worked on the home front. It will be the official place for communities across the world to connect, explore, reveal and share even more about these people’s lives.
This innovative platform will bring fascinating records from museums, libraries, archives and family collections across the globe together in one place. The team behind Lives of the First World War are working with national and international institutions and archives to make this happen.
Over the course of the centenary, Lives of the First World War will become the permanent digital memorial to more than 8 million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth – a significant digital legacy for future generations.
The platform will go live later this year, in time for the start of centenary commemorations from summer 2014. Further information, including a short film about Lives of the First World War can now be found at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.
Diane Lees, Director-General of IWM said: “The Imperial War Museum was established while the First World War was still being fought to ensure that future generations would understand the causes and consequences of the war and to remember the men and women who played their role.
“Now that the First World War is outside living memory, we are the voice of those veterans and the custodians of their stories – which we can now tell through Lives of the First World War. We will be encouraging people of all ages, in all communities to join us in this project to actively remember these men and women.
“I am delighted that IWM will be working with brightsolid. Their focus on innovation, their specialism in telling stories and making history accessible along with their international reach makes them our perfect partner on Lives of the First World War.”
Chris van der Kuyl, Chief Executive of brightsolid, said: “We are proud to be working with IWM to create a digital memorial that will be an enduring and fitting tribute to the men and women of the First World War. I am sure that as the centenary approaches, members of the public will deepen these stories by uploading their own content in order to create a rich narrative tapestry for every man or woman whose life was shaped by the War.
“The UK has an incalculable wealth of historical archives. Institutions like IWM are world leaders in making those records available online to millions of people worldwide. We are only beginning to realise the cultural potential of these archives.”
brightsolid’s partnership with IWM consolidates its position as a private sector partner for leading public institutions digitising historical archives. The Group recently launched the British Newspaper Archive in partnership with the British Library, embarking on a project to digitise, and make fully-searchable, up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection over the next 10 years and has previously delivered the highly successful 1911census.co.uk project in partnership with The National Archives (TNA). In addition, brightsolid is the private sector provider for ScotlandsPeople, a partnership with National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon that serves an integrated online portal for Scottish genealogy records dating back to 1538.
Lives of the First World War will be a part of IWM’s extensive programme to mark the First World War Centenary. IWM’s programme includes new First World War Galleries at IWM London (opening summer 2014) and a major temporary exhibition at IWM North. IWM is also leading the First World War Centenary Partnership, a growing network of over 1,000 local, national and international cultural and educational organisations spanning 25 countries. The Centenary Partnership will present a four-year vibrant programme of cultural events and activities engaging millions of people across the world.
I was able to pick up on my father emigrating to Singapore in August 1950 to work in what was then a British Colony.
Recently I have discovered that the National Library of Singapore has put its newspapers on line to search for free. Regular readers of my blog will be aware of how much I enjoy making use of the various newspaper resources in Britain such as the British Newspaper Archive.
The beauty of the Singapore collection is that it is free to search and you do not even have to register to do this. Naturally I was curious to see if my dad got himself into the papers while he was there and it is with some satisfaction that I found an article and photo of him on page 4 of The Straits Times on the occasion of his marriage to my mother at St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in Singapore in the November of 1951.
So sometimes, when searching for your British Family you have to think about looking outside of Britain for them.
What else did I find on the Singapore Newspaper site? Well nothing more on Dad and Mum, but quite a bit on my mother’s step-father who was an architect in Singapore and my Uncle Bill who was Deputy Health Officer of the Singapore City Council.
In my Family History Researcher Academy course, on English and Welsh Family tree research, I have a tutorial devoted to using the newspapers as well as lessons on how to use some of the other lesser known data sets.
The launch of the course at a special trial price was very successfully filled, but I have been asked if there is room for a few more members. I am considering these requests and could decide to open it up again shortly. To be kept informed go to: www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com/trial
Disclosure: Some of the links above are compensated affiliate links that may reward me if you buy their subscriptions.
Behind War Headlines and Historic Records Are People.
Behind the headlines of war and historic records are people – YOUR relations – and Forces War Records are constantly striving to help you add colour to your ancestor’s past.
I got contacted this week by the Forces War Records website reminding me that the 8th of May is the anniversary of VE Day.
They told me about how their website was evolving and how they are relentlessly adding new records and fresh information to it. It seems around 200,000 records a month! This could mean brand new insight for you – so it could be well worth visiting the site and searching their records regularly for any new information on your relatives that may have served Britain in the Second World War.
If you are short on time and would like some help with your research then you can also visit the site for details on how to conveniently hire a Forces War Records Researcher.
They promise that “As we are growing and developing we will be introducing many more educational features, medals descriptions, tips on genealogy research, and opinion led articles on the website’s blog that you can comment on and get involved with.”
The website has many other features that you may not be aware of, including a growing ‘historic documents’ library where you can view old newspaper cuttings and original periodicals from wartime such as ”The War Illustrated’. There’s really nothing quite like seeing the original material that your relatives might have read.
As you can imagine, Forces War Records are receiving interesting records, wartime books, periodicals, original newspapers, letters, pictures, and real stories all the time.
You can also visit the site for all their latest company news and offers.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the people that run the site: ” Forces War Records is not like other genealogy sites – we offer niche records and a wealth of historic information that you simply wouldn’t find anywhere else.”