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Start Your Family Tree Week is back from  26 Dec 2012 – 1 Jan 2013 with special offers on accessing some search sites!

Hope you had a lovely Christmas day yesterday. At this time of year, when we are visiting or calling family, that we can often make a break through in our family tree research by simply talking to our relatives.

But now some of the family tree research websites are also making it easier for some of us to participate with special Christmas holiday offers. For example Find My Past has 50 free credits available to use for a short time.

Due to the past success of the Start Your Family Tree Week it is back for its third year.  From today, the 26th December to the 1st January, Genes Reunited and findmypast.co.uk will be helping members start their family trees with special offers, free getting started guides, discounts and competitions for the chance to win fantastic prizes!

Genes Reunited has some great prizes on offer during the week, competitions will be posted on the message boards and Facebook page.  To see the Genes Reunited getting started guides, visit www.genesreunited.co.uk/static.page/syftw

Findmypast.co.uk will be offering 50 free credits to get involved with the fun and to start searching records, coupled with quiz questions, guides and templates that make getting started as simple as can be! Experts are by no means left out in the cold either, with more advanced questions alongside beginners’ tasks and a “brick wall challenge day” will be held on Facebook and Twitter on the 31st December! The entire week’s calendar of activities can be found at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/start-your-family-tree-week/index

 

And here is another little present for you!The British Newspaper Archive online

For a limited time there is an offer of an exclusive 10% off the 12 Month Package to the British Newspaper Archive!

You will need to use this link to the British Newspaper Archive.
And then use the voucher code: fHmTenYtR (to be entered at the point of checkout, stage 1)

You then get:
o A 12 Month package
o Validity: 26 Dec 2012 – 31 Jan 2013
o Available in the UK Only

What do customers get with a 12 Month Package to the British Newspaper Archive?

o Unlimited credits / page views
o Access to all digitised newspaper pages dating back 300+ years
o Access to ‘My Research’ – a personal area to keep track of searches, add notes and bookmark viewed items into folders

 

So happy holidays and good luck with your research!



British Newspaper Archive


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My Ancestors and The Great Western Railway

I believe myself lucky to have ancestors that hail from very different backgrounds as it makes my research all the more interesting.

On the one hand I have the ubiquitous Ag Labs, some small business men, dressmakers, mariners, landed gentry,  the odd Victorian Army officers of various ranks and if I go back far enough down one branch, Scots Aristocrats who trace their lineage back to Normandy.

Looking at the records of The Great Western Railway, sometimes affectionately refereed to as “God’s Wonderful Railway”, I find that one of my great-great grandfathers was an employee of the company at the end of its Dartmouth link. Henry Thomas Thorne was the Captain of the paddle steam ferry that ran across the Dart from Kingswear, serving the GWR and its predecessor companies for more than 40 years. In today’s world of  job uncertainty this seems like a very long time!

Captain Henry Thomas Thorne on the GWR Dolphin, Dartmouth, Devon.
Captain Henry Thomas Thorne on the GWR Dolphin, Dartmouth, Devon.

I found him in the Ancestry.co.uk records for UK Railway Employment earning 5 shillings and tuppence in 1897 up from 4/8d in previous years.

In my maternal branch I have discovered one of my other great-great grandfather’s in the list of shareholders of the GWR at findmypast.co.uk as one of the owner’s of the gilt-edged stock.

The Society of Genealogists produced its GWR Shareholders Index from ledgers created by the Great Western Railway and now in the Society’s possession. The Great Western Railway’s original ledgers were compiled by the company for transactions relating to all shareholdings which changed hands other than by simple sale.

The GWR called the ledgers Probate Books, which reflects the fact that the great majority of such share transfers (approximately 95%) were as a result of the death of a shareholder and their shares changing hands during the administration of the deceased’s estate. The proportion of the GWR’s total number of shareholders included in the Society of Genealogists’ GWR Shareholders Index is not known but is estimated to be between 50% and 75%; this is because the railway shares were regarded as gilt-edged stock to be held for the long term. Source:Find My Past

To search the records of shareholders you have to either belong to the Society of Genealogists or they can be viewed at Find My Past website where you can get a 14 day free trial!

 

Click  below for a 14 day free trial..

Disclosure: The Link above is a Compensated Affiliate link. If you click on it then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk should you sign up for one of their subscriptions.

 

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Family Tree Stories

I don’t know about you, but I have had lots of people telling me today that it is the 12th day of the 12th month of the 12th year and this is not going to come around for another hundred years.

As always, I like to think back to my ancestors and so this got me wondering if in 1912, 1812, 1712 or way back in 1612 my forebears were similarly stopping to think about the fact that this date sequence was not going to be repeated for another hundred years!

I wonder about my great-grandfather working as a ship’s carpenter in Devon in 1912. Were his work mates discussing the next time the phenomena would occur in 2012?

 

Family history is all about wrapping some human stories to the bland facts and figures that such and such an ancestor was born on this particular day; that they were married here and died in this particular place on this date.

Whether you are starting out, or have already got an impressive family tree, do talk to your relatives and find out what the older generations can remember about family that are no longer with us.

Do remember, however, to check the facts as stories can get changed in the telling and also from being passed down from one to another.

This week I have been looking at a story from the second world war – and nothing to do with the 12th of the 12th of the 12th!

A close family member served in the Merchant Navy and reputedly was to join a particular ship called the Coptic. Because he was not fully proficient at his job, when the time came, he was held back to finish his training and then assigned to another ship by his bosses. He spent his war sailing on the convoys across the Atlantic and down to Australia and the Pacific ocean.

His story tells that the M.V. Coptic was sunk three days out of Liverpool and all hands were lost while, serendipitously, he made it through the war without being killed on the M.V. Dominion Monarch.

http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/737.html

On checking the facts I found that the Coptic was not sunk on the stormy night of 17th January 1941 and indeed also saw the war out, so what did this do to his story? Well I think he got the ship’s name muddled up in his head as the Zealandic, another ship of the same merchant line, was indeed attacked by a U-boat on that night and none of the crew survived.

So listen to the older generations and then check the facts before adding the tale to your family tree.

 

Tip: I have found it useful to upload my family tree to Genes Reunited as I have been contacted on many occasions by distant cousins working on other branches of our tree, who are also members of this website.

 

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Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate Link. If you click on the above GenesReunited block and go on to purchase from them I may be compensated by them.

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Ripping Yarn for Family historians!

Its the start of December, Christmas cards to write, presents to buy, parties to go to and work seems to step up a gear as the aim of selling other people stuff as Christmas gifts that they can give becomes important and what happens?

The common cold comes a knocking. And I don’t just mean a sniffle and a weak cough but a real kick in the back ache, fuzzy head and coughing and sneezing until it physically hurts.

The solution is, of course, to retire to the warm of your bed and feel sorry for yourself for a while. When this wears off, but you are still not well enough to venture out and too tired to do any meaningful work, then a good book can pass the time.

Over the last week I have been reading just such an offering from the pen of  Steve Robinson. Its a Genealogical Crime Mystery and I have to say I am finding it riveting.

“Family history was never supposed to be like this… When American genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, accepted his latest assignment, he had no idea it might kill him. But while murder was never part of the curriculum, he is kidding himself if he thinks he can walk away from this one.

Driven by the all-consuming irony of being a genealogist who doesn’t know who his own parents are, Tayte soon finds that the assignment shares a stark similarity to his own struggle. Someone has gone to great lengths to erase an entire family bloodline from recorded history and he’s not going home until he’s found out why. After all, if he’s not good enough to find this family, how can he ever expect to be good enough to someday find his own?

 

Set in Cornwall, England, past and present, Tayte’s research centres around the tragic life of a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and the discovery of a dark family secret that he believes will lead him to the family he is looking for. Trouble is, someone else is looking for the same answers and they will stop at nothing to find them.

I highly recommend this book, even if you are feeling hail and hearty. It is pacey and filled with references that family historians will recognise.

I’m reading mine on my Kindle Fire HD, but physical editions are available as well.

Disclosure: The above links are affiliate links. I may be compensated by Amazon should you decide to purchase these items from them.

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What Family History Data Sets Are You Missing?

Most users of the main genealogical subscription sites will probably use the census data sets and birth marriage and death records and pretty much nothing else.

This is a real waste of their subscriptions as there is so much else to be plumbed from these treasure troves.

TheGenealogist.co.uk
TheGenealogist.co.uk

I was looking at the amazing full colour pdf images of wills on TheGenealogist.co.uk this week and also at the Register of Landowners, completed in 1873, that is something like the Griffith’s Valuation lists for Ireland, but for Britain instead. In this database you can find the names of owners of, or those that rented more than an acre of land in England, Wales and Scotland.

TheGenealogist.co.uk also has a set of poll books for various counties of England and Wales, and, for those of you that wish to delve back further than the 17th century and who have landed gentry in your line, there is the heraldic Visitations.

The Poll books give names, addresses, occupations and show how people voted in the election. The Poll Books that are available on TheGenealogist pre-date the census records and go back as far as the 1700s, making them a valuable resource for family historians.

Heraldic Visitations began in 1530 and were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms in order to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry, and to record pedigrees. By the fifteenth century many families were adopting coats of arms as symbols of wealth and power but not all had a legitimate claim to them. As surviving visitation records include pedigrees and often the evidence that was used to prove these, including family details, background and ages, their records provide important source material for genealogists.

Visitation Records are currently available for individual counties and the whole of England and Wales, with years ranging from 1530 – 1921.

Another specialist set is the List of Bankrupts with Their Dividends 1786-1806.

 

This is just an example of a few of the data resources that can so easily be missed by the family historian, and we are talking of one example of a subscription website here!

The hundreds of other databases to be explored within the other sites such as Ancestry, findmypast, the Origins.net and so on that so many do not use, is staggering.

 

Take a look today!

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 The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for any of their subscriptions.

 

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