London Family Tree? Westminster Parish Records Go Online.

WESTMINSTER PARISH RECORDS PUBLISHED ONLINE BY FINDMYPAST.CO.UK

.       Over a million baptism, marriage and burial records that date back as far as 1538 are now available
.       For the first time you are able to see images of the original parish records from the City of Westminster online

Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk has published online for the very first time today 27th March 2012 the parish records that are held by the City of Westminster Archives Centre.  What they have dubbed “The Westminster Collection” is to be found on the net at findmypast.co.uk and comprises of fully searchable transcripts together with scanned images of the parish registers of this part of London. What is great for people searching for their ancestors in this area is that some of the records are over 400 years old!

Coming from over 50 of the churches from Westminster and including St Anne, Soho, St Clement Danes, St George Hanover Square, St James Westminster, St Margaret Westminster, St Martin-in-the-Fields, St Mary-le-Strand, St Paul Covent Garden, these 1,365,731 records, that are launched today, extend over the various years between 1538-1945.

Debra Chatfield, the family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said today: “The Westminster Collection is one of the largest regional parish record collections we have ever published online and contains some truly wonderful gems. Family historians, wherever they are in the world, can now search this historical goldmine and uncover the fascinating stories of their London ancestors.”

Today’s launch is only the beginning of this exciting project, whose aim is to digitally preserve the City of Westminster Archives Centre’s collection. It is the first tranche of  Westminster records containing the city’s baptisms, marriages and burials. The remaining records are scheduled to go live on the site over the coming months, along with other records such as cemetery registers, wills, rate books, settlement examinations, workhouse admission and discharge books, bastardy, orphan and apprentice records, charity documents, and militia and watch records.

Adrian Autton, Archives Manager at Westminster Archives commented: “The launch of the Westminster Collection is of huge significance making Westminster records fully accessible to a global audience. This resource will be of immense value to anyone whose ancestors lived in Westminster and to anyone wishing to study the rich heritage of this truly great city.”

If you are interested in this part of London then the records can be searched free of charge by visiting the Life Events (BMDs) section at findmypast.co.uk. From there you should select parish baptisms, or marriages, or burials. Transcripts and images can then be viewed with either PayAsYouGo credits, vouchers or a full subscription to findmypast.co.uk.

The new Westminster Collection at findmypast.co.uk joins a growing resource of official parish records from local archives, including Cheshire Archives & Local Studies, Manchester City Council and Plymouth and West Devon Records Office, with many more in the pipeline and due to go live in the coming months. In addition over 40 million parish records from family history societies can be found at findmypast.co.uk in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.



Send to Kindle

Map tool at FamilySearch.org is great for family historians.

maps.familysearch.orgI’ve been using a great map tool at the LDS site, familysearch.org, this weekend and I have to say it has proved to be really useful so far. My attention was drawn to it by an article in this month’s Who Do You Think Tou Are? Magazine (Issue 59, April 2012) dealing with 50 Ways to get more from FamilySearch.org.

Tip number 7 is Explore Maps of English Jurisdictions. The idea is to see several types of jurisdictional boundaries, such as parish boundaries, poor law unions, counties, diocese and more on a map tool on your screen. By using different layers you are able to see the borders of each superimposed on to a Google map, or click to see Satellite or an 1851 Ordnance Survey Map instead.

I found using the “Radius Place Search” one of the most useful features in my quest this week. It is interesting to find out how far away from the parish, where my ancestors lived at one time, were the other Parishes in the area. I could specify 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1, 5, 10 miles, or 20 miles radius to plot those within walking, or perhaps horse riding distance from the first.

I was using this tool to look at a line of forebears who suddenly turn up in one town and feature for a few generations, in the registers of the parish. My investigation is now to find out whether they moved in from the surrounding countryside and so I can specify a start parish and then, using the information box that appears on the map, then select the tab called “Options”.

Next I selected “Radius Place Search”. I was then able to select, from a drop-down menu, the various distances from between 1/4 mile to 20 miles and be provided with a list of parishes that fitted the criteria. I also made sure that I had selected the Parish and County options from the “Layers” tab on the left hand side. This, so that I could see the jurisdiction’s borders marked on the map.

By now selecting the tab “List” I could hover my cursor over the named parish and a pin would appear on the map at the place marking the parish. By changing the map from a modern Google map to the 1851 Ordnance Survey I was able to find a hamlet or area name that was of interest to my family and then go on to find the nearest parish to it that was within walking distance.

This is a really useful tool and the best thing is that it is FREE!

Go to http://maps.familysearch.org and try it yourself.

Send to Kindle

NonConformist in my English Family Tree

Like me you may have gone back up the branches of your English Family Tree to find that some of your ancestors became nonconformists, that is they didn’t worship in the Established Church of England or have their children baptised within it and when it came to being buried they chose to have a ceremony conducted in a different Christian tradition.

This week I have been using the resources of TheGenealogist.co.uk’s BMD Registers to look at images taken from RG4 at the National Archives. These are registers (authenticated by the Non-Parochial Registers Commissioners) of births, baptisms, deaths, burials and marriages. They cover the period from 1567 to 1858. To find out more about them have a look on TNA’s website, but suffice to say that I have been able to use them effectively to fill in gaps when my forebears didn’t appear in the C of E parish registers.

One way of being alerted to possible non-conformity in a line is where you can only find your ancestor’s marriage in the Parish church. From 1754, and the introduction of Lord Hadwicke’s Marriage Act, most of the people of England & Wales were required to marry in the Church of England. For this reason you may discover that your ancestor’s wedding is in the parish church’s registers, but theirs and their children’s baptisms and burials are not. If this is the case then you should make a search of the non-conformist’s records for the area.

A difficulty can often arise when the chapel in question did not have its own register. This could occur when the chapel was served by an itinerant minister, responsible for a circuit of chapels in the area. In this case you would need to try and find out the name of the minister and the other chapels in his care.

Most of the surviving Congregationalist registers up to 1837, and some for the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Unitarians were surrendered to the government in 1840 or 1857. These are now held at The National Archives in mircofilm series RG 4, 5, & 8, and it was the first of those that I had been looking at on TheGenealogist.co.uk site.

I have written a short book, How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History, that is available as a Kindle download from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, in which I delve further into the subject of nonconformist, in chapter 10.

If you don’t have a Kindle then you can get a free application to read it on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Simply click on the order button in the image below to buy yourself a copy now.

Send to Kindle

Welsh Family History Research

I’ve been lost in the north of Wales this week doing a bit of family history. Well not physically…I’ve been seeing how much I could do remotely, with only the resources that are at my disposal online.

I started with the 1911 census collections on TheGenealogist.co.uk, ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk. As I have written before in this blog, I often use more than one subscription site to look up ancestors because the search engines on theses sites rely on their own transcriptions, created by volunteer transcribers and very often a mistake in the transcription can mean that your search misses the entry for your ancestor. By using more than one look-up site I can often find the missing census entry from one by looking on another. This strategy paid dividends this week with the Welsh research as Welsh names of parishes very often seem to have variations in spelling and I assume that some of the transcribers were not local and so were mystified by what they were reading from the images.

I used the old trick of putting the parish name into Google, which I had open in another browser window while my subscription sites occupied their own windows. Often I was able to find a handy article that revealed the different ways of spelling a parish, along with the name of the old county that it was part of. To deal with the mis-transcriptions I had to use my common sense to match the spelling offered with the most likely parish that I could find in the county in question.

One of the brick walls that I ran up against, with this welsh family, was that they had a very common set of names for their children, in the particular counties that I was searching within. So as not to waste time I had to tackle the problem by approaching from a different angle and using a different data set.

On TheGenealogist.co.uk site I was also able to search their nonconformist records, also available at www.bmdregister.co.uk and was thus able to download an image that pertained to a baptism in the parish of Myfod, Montgomeryshire. Further research revealed that it was also known as Miefod and soon I found the correct entry in the census collection for the character that I was following.

I was also able to make use of the Hugh Wallis site that allows a researcher to search within the batch numbers on the familysearch.org website. With the aid of his useful tool, that is once more functioning after a period of not following the revamp of the LDS’ familysearch site, I was able to look for those with a particular first and surname baptised in a particular Methodist Chapel.

One last brick wall, that I discovered while doing this research in Wales, is that the further back in time that I went I came up against the custom of parent’s giving their offspring Patronymic surnames. This is where a child took the father’s first name as a surname. I found out that this practice, while no longer being held to in the towns and among the wealthier, still continued up until the early 19th century in some of the rural areas of Wales.

By the end of my time on this quest I had put a reasonable amount of branches on to this particular Welsh Family Tree but the conclusion that I reached is that it really would benefit from a visit to the County Record Offices in question in order to see the physical records for the various churches and chapels in the area. Not everything is online but it is a jolly good place to start!

 

Take your family history further by considering a subscription to these websites:

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online



Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

Send to Kindle

Researching Scottish and Irish Ancestors

 

I’ve notice in my post bag a few of my correspondents asking for help with Scottish and Irish Ancestor research. For some it would seem that all the advice is very English centric and so today I thought I’d write a short piece for those beginning to look in Scotland and Ireland.

Scotland, in comparison to England, can be a simpler place to look for vital records because of the long established Scotlandspeople website that allows us to browse for records for free and then download the image on a pay as you go basis. You can, therefore, get access to not only the Scottish census records, but also Scottish wills, birth certificates and death certificates.

The Statutory Index, on this site, has entries from the indexes to the civil registers of births, deaths and marriages for all of Scotland, as far back as 1855 up until 2009.

The Old Parish Register Index, on the other hand, contains the entries of births & baptisms, banns & marriages and deaths/burials from the church  registers of some 900 parishes of the Church of Scotland from between 1553  and up to 1854.

The Census Indexes are name indexes to the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901and 1911 censuses for all of Scotland. You will be able to find that each index entry will list the surname, forename, sex, age, registration district and county of the people of this part of the U.K. while the 1881 census index entries additionally contain the address.

The wills and testaments index, that can also be accessed here, contain over 611,000 index entries to Scottish wills and testaments dating from 1513 to 1901. Each index entry lists the surname, forename, title, occupation and place of residence (at least where they have been given) of the deceased person, with the additional information of the court in which the testament was recorded, along with the date.

The Coats of Arms Index, is another database on the Scotlandspeople website and this contains entries from the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland from 1672 to 1907. Each index entry lists the full name, date on which the arms were granted, and the volume and page number in the register.

A point to remember, when researching in Scottish old parish records, is that the Established Church north of the border is the Church of Scotland. As a Presbyterian denomination they do not have Bishops and hence, unlike in England, there are no Bishop’s transcripts to act as a back up should you not find the record you are looking for in the parish register.

Kirk Session Records are the equilavent of the Parish Vestry records south of the border and these are all digitised and made available in Scotland at county record offices with the plan to have them online in the future at Scotlandspeople.

Scottish marriages can be of interest to English families whose ancestors ran away to partake in an irregular border marriage when Lord Hardwicks Marriage Act of 1753 compelled English marriages to be in Church of England churches unless it was a Quaker or Jewish marriage. In Scotland a couple could declare themselves to be married and to find a pdf on the extent of irregular marriages and where the current location of the records are, visit www.gro-scotland.gov.uk.

 

For Irish ancestors www.rootsireland.ie is a good place to start your research, while www.irishgenealogy.ie has coverage of other counties.

It is often said that Irish Family Tree research is very difficult and time-consuming and one of the main reasons is that there are a lack of records. One major missing plank is the lack of any complete Census records before 1901.

For this reason any records that have data within them which had been taken from the Irish Census are obviously of vital importance in Irish ancestral research.  One such source of this data is the Old Age Pension Claim Forms held in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (P.R.O.N.I). These give researchers absolutely essential information from the 1841 & 1851 censuses for Northern Ireland & Co. Donegal. Similar records are held by the National Archives in Dublin. These here are referred to as Census Search Forms and they contain the same essential information as the Northern Irish ones but cover the whole of Ireland, including some additional records for Northern Ireland

Researchers from www.ireland-genealogy.com have spent two decades transcribing these hand-written pension claim/census search forms. In some cases they are difficult to read and are in no particular order while the records held by P.R.O.N.I. are not indexed.

Their database allows a researcher online to search these records easily and so will save you both time and money. All you need to do is enter the surname you are researching and from the list provided decide which records you think relate to your family and then just click the order button.

As they point out on their site, these  records were hand written, and so in many cases the handwriting is very difficult to decipher; this coupled with the fact that much if it was written in pencil resulting in some words or letters having faded before the transfer to microfilm, has made the job of transcribing particularly difficult. Ireland-Genealogy.com  have not corrected spelling mistakes nor have their transcribers tried to amend anything that may not make sense. They have simply transcribed all of the information contained on each form. When they were in any doubt about whether or not they were reading a particularly untidy or faded record correctly they have put a question mark. A question mark has also been used when it was impossible to read.

Findmypast.ie

Recently we have had the very welcome addition of Findmypast.ie to the family history fold. This site collects together birth, marriage and death records and so features details of over 400,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials from Ireland covering the whole island of Ireland and include over 150,000 newspaper obituaries and four indexes to wills, dating back as far as the 13th century. Many of these records are particularly interesting as they include more than just names, they also feature addresses and occupations. Vital records often make the best starting point for researching your Irish family history.

At findmypast.ie they have almost 150,000 names in census substitutes to help you fill in those missing gaps from the destruction of the census. You’ll find fragments dating from 1749 to 1901, as well as 19th century electoral registers. Anyone researching their 19th century Dublin ancestors will find a wealth of information in the 1851 Dublin City Census, which includes names and address of approximately 59,000 heads of households. We can also access the 1749 Census of Elphin, which lists all households, names of household heads, their addresses, occupations, numbers of children, adults and servants, by age and religious denomination – a remarkable document for such an early date. The Dublin City Census 1901: Rotunda Ward details 13,556 people residing in 1,334 properties across a 67-street space of the Rotunda Ward area of the city.

There are many other data sets including Land and Estate, Court and Legal, Military and Rebellion, Travel and Migration along with Directories dating back to 1814.

Take a look at this great website now by clicking the image below. (This is a compensated affiliate link.)



Send to Kindle