Building Great Wharton | The National Archives blog


I found this very interesting after having spent a week with my parents who could remember stories that their own parents told about the time.


Exploring how TNA designed and built a resource uncovering experiences of British life on the Home Front during the First World War…

Source: Building Great Wharton | The National Archives blog

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Don’t just use the major records – ancestors may be found in smaller collections as well


Visit to Wolverhampton City Archives
Visit to Wolverhampton City Archives


I’ve been looking into a collateral line ancestor this week and that took me up to Wolverhampton City Archives.

In initial research, that I had carried out previously, I had found my great-grand uncle had left the army and moved to Wolverhampton to take up the position of Chief Constable in the Borough Police.

Making a return trip to the archive, in order to do some research for another tutorial that will eventually go in my English/Welsh family history course, I decided to take a further look into Major R D D Hay.

If you are new to family history then you may be a little unsure of using the facilities of an archive. Perhaps you worry about what sort of reception you may get. From my experience, of visiting these establishments over the years, I always get wonderful help and service from the staff on the desks up and down the country.

Ah but you are somewhat experienced at doing research, you may say.

I really don’t think that that is really a factor to consider. When I am looking to find someone, in the many small collections that the local archive or county record office has, I am in the same position as a newbie may be. I approach them and ask for their advice as to where they think I should look in their collections.


So it was this week when in the reading room at Wolverhampton. I gave them the name of the person I hoped to trace and the dates I was interested in. The staff looked on their computerised catalogue and were able to offer me the Watch Committee reports that covered both the start and the finish of Robert Hay’s tenure.

From my point of view this was fascinating as I could read the names and some details about the 106 candidates for the Chief Constable’s job. I could also see the selection process and even read who it was, on the Borough Council, who voted for my ancestor to be given the job. As it was Robert David Dewar Hay had a landslide victory over other short-listed candidate.


For other researchers, with Wolverhampton ancestors from around this time, the records may reveal your ancestor if they had any dealing with the Police, Fire brigade, or even the Weights and Measures in the borough – as all of these activities fell under the jurisdiction of the Police and the Watch Committee.

If you have a policeman ancestor he may well be mentioned if he did well or needed reprimanding. Alternatively if he was to fall ill and so required to resign, or if he died and the committee felt an obligation to his widow, again he may be mentioned by name.

I saw names of those suppliers of goods and products, such as uniforms for the police officers and firemen contained in the records. As you would expect names of local criminals appeared in the lists of warrants executed on felons, which gave a description of what they had done to deserve a visit from the boys in blue and even the report on the lady owner of a brothel that the police were trying to close down.


I do commend these types of interesting small record collections to you. As I say in my English/Welsh family history course: don’t just collect names and dates from the vital records and the census sets – try to flesh out your family tree research with some colour to add to your family history story.

Wolverhampton City Archives reading room

The reading room at Wolverhampton City Archives





If you would like to learn more about English and Welsh ancestor research then take a look at my family history course. Or to pay in US dollars check this page out for more information:

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Submariner ancestors

HM Submarine at



I’ve been visiting the Submarine Museum at Gosport and it is a fascinating experience especially if you have an ancestor that may have served in these boats.

Three submarines – HMS Alliance, Holland I and X24 – form the core of this Museum’s unique collection. There are also many other items to view including many photographs, various documents, ship plans and artefacts to supplement these vessels and also tell the broader story of the service.
The Submarine Museum is also part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) whose wider collections include items relating to the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Marines, Surface Fleet and naval firepower among many other things. For more information please see their main NMRN collections page.

I found it helpful, when going onboard the HMS Alliance submarine that the two guides on the boat were ex-submariners themselves – you get a very personal viewpoint of what it was like to serve with 64 other men on patrol during the cold war period and I take me hat of to them.

On board HMS Alliance



Living quarters on board HMS Alliance


The ‘Submarine Service Movement Record Index Cards’ can be used to give the researcher some background information, which can include the movements of submarine personnel during World War II. These records had previously been kept by the submarine drafting office at HMS Centurion in Gosport, but with the opening of the Submarine museum they were transferred there.

A word of warning for those researching their submariner ancestors, the card records are not a complete record of everybody who served in submarines, but they are the best place to start covering the period 1918-1969 for naval ratings and 1935-1969 for the officers.

These records can be searched using simply by name. If a card is located on file at the museum archive then you may be able to find out such information as where your submariner relative served during his time in the submarine service. You must be aware, however, that they are not indexed nor are they digitised.

Other holdings at the museum include photographs, ship plans and artefacts. You will, however, need to provide at least two weeks’ notice for an archive visit, having first submitted a research request form. See the information on their website:

Reading Simon Fowler’s book “Tracinging your Naval Ancestors’, tells us that information on ancestors who may have served in this branch can be found in similar places to other Royal Navy records, as sometimes they don’t have a special category. However, it is worth looking at the surviving log books of submarines from 1914 to 1987 which can be found in ADM 173– “Admiralty and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Submarine Logs” at The National Archives in Kew. This is the only open access set of records you will find there, as most other relevant records they hold are classified at present.

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Tudor sailors and the Mary Rose


The hull of the Mary Rose
The hull of the Mary Rose


I am just back from a visit to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

I was there last summer and went around the Mary Rose museum when the wreckage of this Tudor ship was still completely encased in a hot box chamber and slightly obscured by the ducts being used to dry her out after preservation.

As someone with a deep love of history, and a great respect for artefacts that can make a connection for us back to our ancestors, to get this close to a 506 year old ship that served in King Henry VIII’s navy and which was sunk 470 years ago, was a very special experience.

I have no idea if any of my ancestors had any connection to her. I know that many of my paternal line were sailors, some from Devon and others from Hampshire (on both sides of the inlet that makes up Portsmouth Harbour).

It is just possible, therefore, that my ancestors may have served on her. If not then they would surely have been aware of her terrible loss in July 1545 as she sank just off their shore in the Battle of the Solent.

Hundreds of men aboard the Mary Rose drowned as she went down, with only around 34 survivors. Little is known of who served on this ship, apart from the only positively identified person who went down with the ship, Vice-Admiral George Carew.

From the personal effects that have been recovered, however, the museum reveals so much information about the crew that is fascinating in the details.

Take the Master Carpenter, for example…

One cabin in the ship contained a range of tools for carpentry, including a mallet, brace, planes, rulers and a mortise gauge. It seems that the ship’s carpenter also had his prized pewter safely stored away in his sea-chest, along with some valuables such as silver coins, jewellery and an embroidered leather pouch.

Pointing to him being an educated man was the fact he had a book and a sundial in an embossed leather case.

All of this suggests that the carpenter was wealthy. The Mary Rose website states that “Only someone with wealth and status would have owned such items, and have been able to justify having a personal chest which would have taken up precious room on the crowded ship.”

Mary Rose Master Carpenter Master Carpenter's Chest

The Mary Rose website also tells us more about the ship:

“When Henry VIII became king in 1509 he only had a handful of warships at his disposal – usually, in times of war, merchant vessels would be loaded with guns and used. However, with threats both from the Scots to the north and the French to the south, Henry knew he needed a standing navy, available at a moment’s notice. Thus, he got to work building his ‘Army by Sea’, starting with two carracks, the Peter Pomegranate and her larger sister ship, the Mary Rose.


and this about the crew:


The first recorded crew list for the Mary Rose dates back to 1513 and consists of mariners, soldiers and gunners, although their names were not given. Servants also appear on some of the later pay rolls. The artefacts found on board give us a unique insight into what their life was like.

There were 415 crew members listed in 1513, but during wartime operations there would have been more soldiers on board, with numbers perhaps swelling to around 700 men in total. Even with the normal crew size of around 400, conditions would have been very crowded.


The Mary Rose was the crew’s home and their workspace. As the ship was rapidly buried in very fine silt, a lot of their possessions are very well preserved, including wood, leather, human and animal bones.

We were able to recover a number of chests from the site, so we could study collections of objects and ascertain which crew members might own which possessions. There were a number of professional objects, such as the tools owned by onboard carpenters, or the ointments and medicine flasks used by the surgeon.

One other unique aspect of the objects found on board is the huge numbers of identical objects, such as 6,600 arrow bits, or the large number of wooden dishes. Having so many similar artefacts enables historians to study the standards of production and the quality of goods manufactured at a specific time.

Find out more about the Men of the Mary Rose here”



I thoroughly enjoyed my second visit to the Mary Rose, coming away much more enthused than before. I was impressed by the special effects of the crew carrying out their daily tasks being projected onto the timbers of the hull before the lights came up to reveal the wreck in all her glory. I was mesmerised by the artefacts recovered from the sea floor that gave huge insight into the lives of these men. And to be able to look down on her from the top floor of the galleries, without any obstruction was amazing.

10 out of 10 from me…

I would highly recommend a visit.


The Mary Rose in 2016
The Mary Rose in 2016
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Early Military records online at TheGenealogist


News from TheGenealogist this weekend tells of new Military record releases. I am particularly interested to see if I can trace a man in the Waterloo Roll, so off to take a look!


This month TheGenealogist is pleased to announce it has added several new early military records. Joining the ever growing and fully searchable Military collection is:

  • The Waterloo Roll Call 1815

  • Battery Records of the Royal Artillery, 1716-1859

  • The Manchester Regiment, 63rd and 96th 1758-1883 Vol I and 1883-1922 Vol II

  • Certificate of Musters in the County of Somerset 1569

  • Four more Army Lists, from 1838 to 1886


The Waterloo Roll Call of 1815 enables researchers to find ancestors within a list of nearly 4,000 men, most of whom were officers present at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium on June 18th 1815 under the Duke of Wellington – whose record we can find in this collection. You can search for your ancestors in ‘The Waterloo Roll Call’ using Title, Forename, Surname, Regiment, Rank, Decoration and Staff position.

MilitiaMany of our forefathers would have served in the British Army, and with the military known for their record keeping these can provide researchers with valuable information on ancestors. The earliest records in this new release are 16th century Militia Musters for Somerset. The Certificate of Musters in the County of Somerset 1569 contain names of Militiamen (soldiers raised from the civil population) and what role they carried out including archer, pikeman and light-horseman.

The Battery Records of the Royal Artillery 1716-1859 is a prime reference record containing tabulated Battery records, numerous useful historical notes, lists of various officers and more.

Manchester regFor Mancunian military forebears The Manchester Regiment 63rd and 96th 1758-1922 includes the succession of Colonels and an alphabetical roll of regimental officers from 1758 to 1923 showing dates of service with the Regiment, dates of promotion and date and reason for being struck off. With the centenary of the First World War these records can be used to find casualties of all ranks from “The Manchesters” in the Great War. With a list of Honours and Awards, including foreign, these digitised books also provide an interesting in-depth history of the regiment so that researchers can follow the postings of The Manchester Regiment and the action in which it took part.

Those researching Victorian soldiers will welcome the inclusion of several early Army Lists in this release for January 1838, December 1838, April 1886 and The Annual Army and Militia List 1855.

Image sources:



To search these and countless other useful family history records take a look at TheGenealogist now!


The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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We All Have Royal Ancestry

A guest article this week: We All Have Royal Ancestry – so are you on the Royals’ Christmas card list as a distant releative?


We All Have Royal Ancestry
By Christopher Tisch

One of the greatest thrills as we research our genealogy is discovering we are descended from royal bloodlines. The idea that some distant uncle was a king or noble is exciting and can make anyone feel special. The whole allure of royalty, besides the obvious money and power, is belonging to a small group of people having a high place in society. For some, being a distant part of this group means we’re finally one of the “in crowd.”

But before you go wearing a crown to work tomorrow, you should know that science has shown that royalty in your bloodlines really isn’t all that special. It turns out that more people have royal blood than you would think. Statistician Joseph Chang discovered that the bloodlines of prominent royal figures like Emperor Charlemagne have crossed over into literally every present-day European’s ancestry.

This doesn’t mean that Charlemagne had thousands of kids, but instead is an observation that, if you go back far enough, almost all bloodlines within a given megapopulation will come together around a common ancestor. The further back you go, the wider your family tree spreads, to the point that at some point about 1,000 years ago, “all individuals who have any descendants among the present-day individuals are actually ancestors of all present-day individuals,” Chang determined.

Translating that into plain English, what he’s saying is that the population of Europe 1,000 years ago was so much smaller than it is today that, statistically, every person that was alive then and had children will somehow fit into the family tree of any given European alive today. What that means to us is that if you’re European, then you are definitely descended from Charlemagne. Taadaa! We’re all royal.

So, is it just the Europeans who are guaranteed royal lines? Not even close. By expanding his mathematical model from covering only living Europeans to everyone else on the planet today, Chang discovered that every single person on earth today is related to the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Yet another study found that all living Europeans can be traced back to the same pair of people going back only 1,000 years. When you look at how long people have been on Earth, 1,000 years isn’t very long at all. This study also found that people living as far away from each other as Britain and Turkey (at their closest points, more than 1,300 miles and 8 countries apart) share enough DNA to prove they are direct relatives around 20% of the time.

“It underlines the commonality of all of our histories,” said UC Davis evolutionary biologist Graham Coop. “You don’t have to go back many generations to find that we’re all related to each other.”

To learn more, go to

Article Source:





Find your elusive ancestors in the online and offline records. Discover where to look and what records sets to use in the English/Welsh family history course from The Family History Researcher Academy.

You can take advantage of a Special Offer Trial of just £1 for a month!

You’ll receive 4 modules plus bonus content by going to:


OR to pay in US dollars simply Click this link:

(Normal monthly subscription: £9.95 per month(or $14.00). Course length: 52 weekly downloadable tutorials to do at your own pace. You are free to cancel at any time.)

One month trial of the Family History Researcher Academy English/Welsh course
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Mark Herber’s collection of war memorial photos online


This announcement came out this week about a new website for family historians. One of the people behind it is Mark Herber, best known in the genealogy field for his very comprehensive book Ancestral Trails that was published, I think, in 1997 when I was still managing a bookshop., is the brand new website dedicated to Photographing, Transcribing and preserving war memorial records for the future, has just launched online providing a unique service that allows the researcher to find their ancestor using the largest collection of combined War Memorial records and images currently available anywhere.


This project is based on Mark Herber’s growing collection of war memorial photographs and personally checked transcriptions. It honours those men and women, who died or served our country in military conflict over the years and it already features over 20,000 detailed photographs of more than 1,200 memorials, commemorating over 270,000 people, with their names (and the memorial’s information about them) transcribed and indexed.

With regular additions of photographs, names and information to expected as the months go by, is the place to find your ancestors immortalised on the country’s war memorials.

Details that can be found in these memorial records include:

  • Name
  • Regiment, unit or ship
  • War or date of death
  • Rank and medals
  • Photograph of the War Memorial from multiple angles and zooms’s collection includes a very large number of records from the Boer War of 1899-1902 and WW1 and WW2, but it also includes memorials from as early as the 17th century up to very recent conflicts such as Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Soldiers, sailors, aircrew and civilians are all featured – and not just those who died. Many men and women who served but survived also appear in the records.

Using the sophisticated search technology and just basic details you can locate full information on War Memorials on which men and women are commemorated, find more details about them (such as their regiments, ships, ranks and medals), discover the location of the War Memorial and see images of the memorial itself and a close up view of the name of your ancestor! is offering some great value options to suit every pocket starting at £5 for a month’s access, £9.95 quarterly, or take out a great value annual subscription at only £29.95.

With regular additions of photographs, names and information to expected as the months go by. is the place to find your ancestors immortalised on the country’s war memorials.

Example of finding your ancestor in the records

Here we find the unusual records of a Thomas Ambrose, who was killed in 1916 by a bomb from a German airship flying over Sudbury. The transcribed record details how he died and where he is commemorated, as shown below:


Each transcript brings up details of the memorial with overview images of the entire memorial so you can find your ancestor using just their name, locate their memorial and add the images and information to your family history records, or even plan your visit!


Click here to find out more:




Find your elusive ancestors in the online and offline records. Discover where to look and what records sets to use in the English/Welsh family history course from The Family History Researcher Academy.

You can take advantage of a Special Offer Trial of just £1 for a month!

You’ll receive 4 modules plus bonus content by going to:


OR to pay in US dollars simply Click this link:

(Normal monthly subscription: £9.95 per month(or $14.00). Course length: 52 weekly downloadable tutorials to do at your own pace. You are free to cancel at any time.)

One month trial of the Family History Researcher Academy English/Welsh course
Click the Image to take a trial for only £1
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Our English Ancestors pronounced English very differently


Imaginary view of an Elizabethan stage

By C. Walter Hodges [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


I came across this interesting video by David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal. In it they look at the differences between English pronunciation as we would speak it today and compare it with how it was spoken 400 years ago.

As family historians we are often told how English spelling was a lot more fluid in past times and that not all our ancestors would have known how to spell their surnames, thus they seem to disappear from the records. We are also warned that the clergy and local registrars may have written our ancestor’s names into the registers etc. spelling these as they had thought that they had heard them, especially when so many of our forebears couldn’t read or write. In my Family History Researcher Course I explain how to consider how a name may have sounded in the local accent.

Now in this video we are told that in Elizabethan and Jacobean times the pronunciation of the language written by Shakespeare was quite different from modern English. Watch this video below to see and hear how it sounded back then and how it makes more sense of some of his pieces.  It is truly fascinating how language evolves!



Find your elusive ancestors in the online and offline records. Discover where to look and what records sets to use in the English/Welsh family history course from The Family History Researcher Academy.

You can take advantage of a Special Offer Trial of just £1 for a month!

You’ll receive 4 modules plus bonus content by going to:


OR to pay in US dollars simply Click this link:

(Normal monthly subscription: £9.95 per month(or $14.00). Course length: 52 weekly downloadable tutorials to do at your own pace. You are free to cancel at any time.)

One month trial of the Family History Researcher Academy English/Welsh course
Click the Image to take a trial for only £1
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Yorkshire Family History Fair – Saturday 2nd July

Yorkshire Family History Fair

Saturday 2nd July 2016Yorkshire Family History Fair

10am to 4.30pm

The Knavesmire Exhibition Centre, The Racecourse, York, YO23 1EX

The second largest Family History Fair in the UK is in its 21st year. With exhibitors from all over the UK and Ireland many family history societies and companies attend each year.


You don’t have to have Yorkshire Ancestors to come to this fair – they can be from anywhere at all. Everyone is very welcome and there is lots to see. There is plenty of parking, refreshments are available all day, with exhibitors on two floors and FREE talks held throughout the day.


This event is organised by family historians for family historians. Do you really know who you are? Come and find out – you may be surprised.


Chose between two great ticket offers on

FREE gift when you pre-book tickets Claim your Discover Your Ancestors Issue 4 and Discover Your Ancestors Compendium (worth £17.94) at the show


Buy One Ticket and Get One Free

(offers valid until Wednesday 29th June at midday BST)

See you at The Knavesmire Exhibition Centre, The Racecourse, York, YO23 1EX.


Admission: Adults £4.80, Children under 14 FREE


For late availability on exhibitor space contact

Queue at York Family History Fair

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Norfolk Parish Records now completed by TheGenealogist

This week the team over at TheGenealogist announced the completion of thier project to release fully searchable Norfolk Parish Records online. For anyone with ancestors from this county this is brilliant news.

  • Over 6.23 million new searchable Norfolk Parish Records released in partnership with the Norfolk Record Office
  • This final tranche includes over 5.95 million records for Norfolk
  • Plus more than 276,000 records relating to the boundary areas of Suffolk
  • Adding to the 3.6 million individuals already released earlier

TheGenealogist has successfully completed a project to release over 9.8 million fully searchable records for the registers of baptisms, marriages, marriage banns and burials for Norfolk with images of the original registers.

It is now easier than ever to research Norfolk ancestors in the parish registers of this Eastern English county. With some of the surviving records reaching back as far as the early 1500s, this is a fantastically rich resource for family historians to use for discovering Norfolk ancestors.

Released in partnership with The Norfolk Record Office, the registers of baptisms, marriages, burials and banns of marriage cover the majority of parishes in the Diocese of Norwich. This also includes a number of Suffolk parishes in and near Lowestoft that make up the deanery of Lothingland. Also covered by this release are the parishes in the deanery of Fincham and Feltwell that were part of the Diocese of Ely in south-west Norfolk.



Examples of famous people to be found in these records include:

Edith Cavell, the First World War Nurse executed by the Germans for treason was born in the South Norfolk village of Swardeston. Her baptism can be found in the register of Swardeston for February 1866 where her father was the vicar and performed the christening ceremony. With a single click family historians can see an image of the actual entry in the parish register.

Edith Cavell baptism on TheGenealogist


Edith Cavell’s baptism record in the Norfolk Parish Register on TheGenealogist


Likewise, Horatio Nelson – who would grow up to become perhaps Britain’s best known naval hero of all time – was also baptised by his clergyman father. In Nelson’s case it was in the the village of Burnham Thorpe on the North Norfolk coast in 1758.

Nelson's birth record from Nelson’s baptism 1758 in the Norfolk Parish Registers on TheGenealogist


Another British seafaring hero, whose baptism can be found in the Norfolk parish records on TheGenealogist, is Henry George Blogg. He would grow up to become known as the “Greatest of the Lifeboatmen” and be highly decorated. In his case, however, it was not his father that baptised him. His entry in the register reveals a less than auspicious entry of this Norfolk hero into the world – the vicar wrote in the parish register of Cromer that Henry was “base born”. Blogg, however, became a skilled seaman and a lifeboatman. For the many rescues, that he took part in as the coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat, he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution no less than three times and also the RNLI silver medal four times. He was also honoured with the George Cross from the King, the British Empire Medal, and a series of other awards.

Henry Blogg in Cromer Parish Record 1876Norfolk Parish Registers on TheGenealogist: Henry Blogg’s baptism 1876

Five years after his birth, Henry’s mother, Ellen Blogg, married a fisherman called John Davies. It was this stepfather that taught Henry how to fish and the skills that he needed to be a highly competent seafarer. The marriage banns for Henry’s mother and stepfather can be found in the Banns book for the parish, within the new records on TheGenealogist. Their actual marriage can also be found recorded in the parish register for Cromer included in this new release. See the records at:

Banns of Marriage 1881 Norfolk Parish Records on TheGenealogistBanns of Marriage records from the Norfolk Parish Registers on TheGenealogist



To search these any countless other useful family history records take a look at TheGenealogist now!


The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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