Browsing Old Newspapers for Ancestors

The British Newspaper Archive onlineI’ve been browsing old newspapers online for ancestors this week with some success and some disappointments.

In previous posts, here, I have mentioned my luck in finding useful leads from articles written about the death of an ancestor of mine who, on sailing to Alderney from Weymouth aboard his yacht, went ashore for a social visit to the Garrison there, and fell to his death on the way back to the breakwater.

The British Newspaper Archive presented me with access to details from various newspapers reporting the “melancholy death” of my ancestor and revealed facts about his family that I was not previously aware of. For example, by the mentioning of his late father as being “of Hay, Merricks and Company” I was then able to find out something of the nature of that ancestor’s business in making gunpowder.

This week I was searching for a completely different line and regretfully I have had no luck with finding any newspaper articles related to this research. As the project, to add newspapers to the archive website, is ongoing I shall simply keep on returning and running the same search again and again. This is in the hope that new titles, that have been scanned in the intervening period, will become available with a relevant article to my research.

So, having not got a hit on the current project, I then started browsing for other ancestors, before leaving the site.

Members of my maternal line spent some of the 1850s in Cheltenham and would seem to have been comfortably well off. It was with some amusement, then, that I came across their names in the Cheltenham Looker-On featuring mainly in the Arrivals and Departures page.

I can not imagine that today the wealthy residents of Cheltenham, or any other town for that matter, would wish all and sundry to be made aware of when they were not in residence, or to where they have “removed” themselves to, but in those days it was socially acceptable.

The Looker-On mixed social news and literary contributions and was known for expressing Conservative opinions in its writings, though I am not sure that these were the views of my Cheltenham resident ancestors from other research I have done!


The British Newspaper Archive is a partner of the British Library and set up to digitise their collection of over 300 years of newspapers. Now accessible to the public, with market leading search functionality, it offers access to over 4 million pages of historical newspapers. A great source for hobby historians, students, reporters and editors – what will you discover?

Now you can also access pages from The British Newspaper Archives via their sister site findmypast.co.uk when you take out membership of Find My Past.


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 British Newspaper Archive.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

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My Ancestor’s Polite Advertisement From

I was researching one Thomas Westlake, an ancestor of mine from Plymouth in the mid 1800s.

I’d found this enterprising forebear, of mine, who had been a Victualler and Brass founder, on the 1861 census. He employed one woman, six men and some boys in this Devon City at this time and so I guess I would find him listed in the trades section.

This had lead me on to use the University of Leicester site, Historical Directories at www.historicaldirectories.org to find him and his advertisement in a Plymouth Trade Directory!

Its great fun to see how polite were the requests of a Victorian era businessman, asking for trade, in an advertisement from this time. My ancestor, Thomas Westlake paid for a half page advertisement in the 1852 edition of the Plymouth directory, whose full title was:

“A Directory of Plymouth, Stonehouse, Devonport, Stoke, and Moricetown, compiled from actual survey.”

Trade advertisement from 1852 Plymouth

Trade advertisement from 1852 Plymouth

 

Thomas Westlake,

Brass Founder, & Manufacturer of Gas Fittings, Beer Engines, Water Closets, Lift Pumps, etc…

 

Begs respectfully to acquaint his Friends and the Public generally that he has, in his Establishment, men of experience in the above branches, from London and Birmingham; and assures them that all orders entrusted to his care, will be executed in first rate style, under his immediate superintendence, and on moderate terms.

 

Now who could resist an advertisement like that, but what would we think of it today?

 

I have also had some luck with other ancestors finding their advertisements in the newspapers of the day. It is worth a look at the British Library Newspapers collection.

Click the ad box below to go to The British Newspaper Archive.


 

The British Newspaper Archive is a joint venture with brightsolid, the company behind findmypast.co.uk and recent developments there are that they have just published millions of pages of local newspapers on their site for the period 1710-1950. More than 200 titles are included and they say they will be adding more all the time.

ÂDisclosure: 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 British Newspaper Archive should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

 

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Family History Sites Mark Rememberence Day


ancestor, ancestry, family tree, family history, r

To coincide with Remembrance Day, UK family history site, www.GenesReunited.co.uk
has released a variety of military records taking its collection to 8.5 million.

The British Army Service Records are just one of the latest records added to the site and they include the Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service records from 1760-1913. These records are an important resource for family historians as they provide rich information on the soldier’s name, place of birth, regiment and the dates of service within the British Army.

New WW1 and WW11 Prisoner of War records have also been added to Genes Reunited. These records hold vital information; the Prisoner of War 1939 – 1945 records detail the prisoner’s name, rank, regiment, camp number, camp type and camp location.

Rhoda Breakell, Head of Genes Reunited, comments: “From the Harold Gillies Archive to the Military Nurses 1856 – 1940 we’ve released a huge variety of records. These new records will be an invaluable resource for people wanting an insight into the lives of their ancestors. ”

From today people interested in tracking down their ancestors can visit www.genesreunited.co.uk and search the latest records listed below:

· WWII Escapers and Evaders

· Military Nurses 1856 – 1940

· Army Reserve of England and Wales 1803

· 1st Foot Guards attestations 1775-1817

· Regimental Indexes 1806

· Manchester Roll of Honour 1914-1916

· Manchester City Battalions 1914-1916

· Royal Artillery Military Medals 1916-1991

· Royal Artillery Honours & Awards 1939-1946

· Harold Gillies Archive

· Royal Red Cross Register

· British Officers taken Prisoner of War between August 1914 and November 1918

· Prisoners of War – Naval & Air Forces of Great Britain & Empire – 1939-1945

· Prisoners of War – Armies and land Forces of the British Empire 1939-1945

· Oldham Pals 1914-1916

· Oldham Roll of Honour 1914-1916

· Prison Hulk Registers 1811-1843

· Ted Beard – RAF Nominal Roll 1918

· British Army Service Records 1760-1915 [WO 96 and WO 97]

WO 96 – Militia

WO 97 – Pensions 1760-1913

WO 119 – Kilmainham Pensions

WO 121 – CHEPS discharges

WO 122 – CHEPS discharges (foreign regiments)

WO 128 – Imperial Yeomanry

WO 131 – CHEPS deferred pensions 1838-1896

The newly added military records can be viewed on a pay-per-view basis or Platinum members can choose to add on the record set to their package for a low cost. The military records have been added to the existing military additional features package.

 

Meanwhile, over at TheGenealogist.co.uk

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

As we remember those who fought and fell in the Great War, TheGenealogist website is adding new military records to help you discover the role your ancestor played in the conflict. For example…

Hart’s Army List, 1908

Army List, July 1910

Army List, February 1917

 

Navy Lists

Navy List, December 1914

Navy List, February 1938

 

 

and at Ancestry.co.uk

More than 67,000 British military POW records published online – Ancestry.co.uk

Records contain details of British military personnel imprisoned during WWI and WWII

Famous pilot POWs Douglas Bader and William Ash are listed in the records

More than 14 million war records available to view free online at Ancestry.co.uk this Remembrance Day

Ancestry.co.uk, the family history website, recently launched online the UK Prisoner of War Records, 1914-1945, a collection spanning both World Wars and detailing the names of more than 67,000 British military POWs.

During WWI and WWII, thousands of servicemen were taken prisoner and forced to endure the harsh conditions of POW camps. These records detail the name, rank and regiment of these British military personnel as well their camp location, date of capture and release date.

Most of these newly digitalised records (59,000) pertain to WWII and pilot POWs are included for the very first time. The RAF and its pilots played a vital role in WWII both protecting UK airspace and attacking enemy ships, airbases and other industries key to the German war effort.

 

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My Ancestors Lived In A Road That Is No Longer There!

The Mouth of the River Dart.
The River Dart with Dartmouth in the distance.

My 3 times great grandparents, John and Elizabeth can be found in the 1861 census at Mill Pond, Dartmouth in Devon.

Great, I thought, I’ll take a look on my next visit to Dartmouth. Ah, but where exactly is Mill Pond today? A search of the current map shows nothing and so a little bit of investigative work was all I needed. At least that was what I thought!

By checking back through the census returns on TheGenealogist, Ancestry and findmypast  we can see that immediately prior to walking Mill Pond, the enumerator recorded entries for North Ford Lane and immediately after Mill Pond he had enumerated the residents of Charles Street followed by Mariner’s Place, then North Ford Lane again and New Road.

A fantastically helpful document on the Dartmouth Archives website ( http://www.dartmouth-history.org.uk/view_doc.html?Id=140&Hrow=0 ) has given me the current names of some of the roads in the town that have changed names over the years. While Mill Pond is not mentioned, North Ford Lane is. It is now split into North Ford Road and Newport Street. Mariner’s Place is now called Roseville Street and backs on to North Ford Lane. New Road was renamed Victoria Road after Queen Victoria’s Diamond jubilee in 1897 and so on.

I also gleaned from a document on this website that the Dartmouth mill pond was where the market place is today and westward from here – “The Butterwalk was the covered market before the mill pond was filled in and a new market was built in 1828.”

By opening the census record for my ancestor I could find that it was in district 6d in 1861 and by navigating to the Description of the Enumeration District I found that it gave me a list of the streets in the part of the parish of Townstal that were included in that district enumerated by one Mr John Pound. It comprised of Clarence Hill, Mount Pleasant, Mount Galpin, Clarence Street, Silver Street, Bake Lane Hill, Cox’s Steps, Hardress, Broadstone, Slippery Hill, North Ford Lane, New Road, Albert Place, Charles Street, Mariner’s Place, Mill Pond, Market Square and Foss Street.

Then consulting a map, not from the 1860s I regret, but from twenty eight years later, I wondered if the 6 households counted in Mill Pond are the properties to the north of Market Square next to the Methodist Chapel around the market square at the bottom of a hill called Broadstone. In other census, however, the number of dwellings change up and down and the neighbours are not the same meaning it is hard to tie Mill Pond down. In fact in the 1851 census I found no Mill Pond, Dartmouth, at all.

Returning to the document charting the development of the Mill Pond I now understand that Mill Pond refers to the development that occurred west from Charles street as well as the market place.

“In 1816… the building of a new Wesleyan Chapel on a site on the north side of the Millpond at a point just to the west of the entry to the old mill race. It replaced an earlier meeting house situated  elsewhere in the town”  This gives weight to my first theory about it being the north side of the market place.

While the next two quotes give weight to my second thought that it was an area along New Road to the west.

“Until the filling in 1828 of the market site the water continued to flow through the gullet, albeit, into the boat dock only. In 1831 the gullet and the boat dock were filled and the Millpond became land locked. By this time houses had been built both along the New Road and in Charles Street.

“The Corporation plan was to develop the Millpond area systematically beginning from Charles Street and moving westward as the prime sites were leased. The primary requirement was for houses and not for commercial premises.”

In most cases, by looking at the enumerator’s description and a contemporary map it is easy to find where your ancestors once lived, so why not give it a try?

One of the great features on TheGenealogist.co.uk and findmypast is the ability to search for an address.

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.

 

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