Are you related to President Lincoln?

I’ve had an email from genealogist and author Anthony Adolph this week. For long term readers of this blog you may remember that he provided me with a fantastic interview at the Who Do Yo Think You Are? LIVE back in 2011 which you can revisit here if you so wish.

Genealogist Anthony Adolph
Genealogist Anthony Adolph

Well Anthony wanted to draw my readers attention to a project that he is involved with to find people who may be related to President Lincoln.

It is to help celebrate the British launch of Steven Spielberg’s movie ‘Lincoln’ and the 204th anniversary of the president’s birth on 12 February, that he is working with the Illinois Office of Tourism to find British relatives of America’s most famous president.
In 1637, Samuel Lincoln, an apprentice weaver in Norwich, left his home in the obscure Norfolk village of Hingham to brave a voyage across the Atlantic. Samuel had no idea he would survive to raise a family in the new colonies of America, let alone that his great great great grandson Abraham would become one of the greatest figures in American history.
This means that if you have ancestors from Hingham or have Lincoln ancestors from the Norwich area, you could have President Lincoln in your family tree!
Illinois, the home state of Abraham Lincoln, hosts many Lincoln attractions and is a great place to visit for a truly adventurous holiday, where you can visit the house Lincoln shared with Mary Todd, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Springfield cemetery where he is buried.
If you know of a family connection with the Lincolns of Hingham, Norfolk, please contact Anthony Adolph via www.anthonyadolph.co.uk. You could be in for a trip to Illinois!

——————-

 

Send to Kindle

Merchant Navy Records for WWII have arrived!

Those of you with merchant seamen in the family are probably aware that only some records have been kept by the National Archives. Luckily for me the ones that I needed to access, for my father who had been a WWII merchant seaman, were kept there.

I was asked by my father, over Christmas, if I could find out for him exactly when it was that he went to sea, back in the second world war. He was a very young man and can remember having his first birthday, in the service, at sea one May in the 1940s.

With the passing of the years he has a sketchy recollection of his training period and can not remember exactly how long it was before he joined a merchant ship on the convoys across the Atlantic and also sailing in the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand.

The ship he joined acted as a troop ship in the war, armed with a single gun manned by an army contingent. It had been built as a passenger liner in peacetime and was fast having four screws.

 Merchant Seaman's Records

In my last article I referred to my trip down to The National Archives at Kew in search of his service records where I had to wait for the staff to view the documents and blank out any personal details  before I could view a copy. The process took longer than the time I had and so they had promised to post me the copies when it had been completed.

Well the documents from TNA arrived this week and I now have my father’s merchant seaman’s’ pouch and his wartime service records as he sailed the oceans!

At Kew I had been advised to look at the series BT 382/1799 which was the Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Fifth Register of Merchant Seaman’s Service (CRS 10 forms). Part 1: European origin mainly. Series 1, mainly of European origin, mainly 1942-c1965. Thon Hans Christopher to Thorne N B. for his records.

And also to request a search for him in BT 382/2981 being Part 2: European origin mainly. Series 2, mainly of European origin, 1946-1972. Thorburn A to Thorougood J G.

 

This has indeed given me the dates of his engagements and discharges for each voyage and so I can now tell him the first date that he went to sea in his war service.

As to the most interesting document from my point of view? This would be his British Seaman’s Identity Card, complete with a contemporary photograph of him aged 19, from his seaman’s pouch as held by TNA.

 

 

Sign up for my free Tip of the Week and get a weekly email from me with helpful tips for English and Welsh family history research.

 

Send to Kindle

My Dad is in The National Archives!

The National Archives

I was doing a search on the National Archives new Discovery search engine to see what I could find on my dad’s time in the Merchant Navy during World War II.

One hit was for his seaman’s pouch, R271022 THORNE J B 20/05/1925 PAIGNTON DEVON and it indicated that I could see the document for free at The National Archives. Now it did say that I would need a Reader’s Ticket to do this and as it has been quite some years, since I last went to Kew, my old one had expired.

So I figured that I would take a trip to Kew in Richmond, get registered for a new Reader’s Ticket and see what the document revealed.

The process of registering for a reader’s ticket requires you to bring two forms of ID one to prove your address and another to prove your name. You also have to do a short tutorial on the computer that educates you about the correct handling of their documents and a multiple choice questionnaire. It certainly isn’t something to worry about and if you get the answers wrong the computer shows you the correct answer before you move on.

Once I was registered, had my photo taken and issued with my shiny new card I went to order the documents and some others that may refer to his service record.

While the TNA website says that with a reader’s ticket you can order the record to be available for when you arrive or you can just order the record when you arrive there is a slight problem.

With these sort of records if it is not your own then it has to be looked at by a member of staff and national insurance numbers and other “data” have to be redacted in a copy that would be made of the document and this process would take some time as there were not enough staff to do it immediately.

As it turned out by the time I had to leave Kew the copies had not been brought up and so I left The National Archives without seeing them and providing my postal address for the staff to post it on to me.

So just a warning that this is the policy of TNA and I may post again when I get the photocopies in the post should there be anything of interest to family historians in them.

 

Sign up for my free Tip of the Week and get a weekly email from me with helpful tips for English and Welsh family history research.

Send to Kindle

My Ancestor was a Tide Waiter!

Last week I was writing about my findings from a search for one of my ancestors who married in South Devon in 1866. I had taken a look at the Church Register for The New Parish of Christ Church Plymouth and found my ancestor Samuel Stephens marrying Mary Ann Westlake on the 16th December.

What took my interest was that his father, Robert Stephens, was noted under Rank or Profession as being a Tide Waiter. He also lived in Plymouth being born in1805 and to his death.

Tide Waiter Ancestor at www.NoseyGenealogist.comAs many of us pursuing our family history have no doubt found, some of our ancestors had jobs that have disappeared or are now known by different names today.

I immediately wondered what type of occupation this Tide Waiter was, as previously I had seen him mentioned in the census as an “Extra Gent”.

What an ancestor’s occupation was can often give us a greater insight into their life. It is also a useful way of distinguishing between two people who happen to have the same name and between whom you are trying to work out which one belongs to your family tree and which one does not.

We can be interested in a forebear’s occupation for the reason that it may have some relevance in determining a person’s social status, political affiliation, or migration pattern.

Skilled trades were often passed down from father to son and so having regard to an ancestor’s occupation may also be a useful tool in identifying a family relationship with others of the same name. Now Samuel and his father Robert did not seem to share a trade here, but it is important to remember that people could change their occupation over their life.

One of these gentlemen’s descendants changed from being a gunsmith to working in a pawn brokers and another who changed from being a cordwainer (shoemaker) to being a boatman on the river over their working life.

Names for old or unfamiliar local occupations have the potential to cause us to stumble if they are poorly legible in the record we are consulting. I can think of the example of the similarity between the words ostler (a keeper of horses) and a hostler (an innkeeper) that is easily confused.

If you are ever in this position then remember that you too can look for occupational data in several places. It may be found in the records of occupational licenses, tax assessments, the membership records of professional organisations to which our ancestors belonged, trade, city and town directories, census returns, and civil registration vital records.

There are a number of websites available that explain many of the obscure and archaic
trades, here are two that I have found:

http://www.rmhh.co.uk/occup/index.html

or

http://www.occupationalinfo.org/dot_index.html#MENU

So what was my Tide Waiter forebear? He was a Customs Officer who went aboard ships to search them for the revenue. This is made plain on the birth certificate for Samuel as his occupation is simply recorded as Customs Officer.

I found the scanned image of the marriage record in the Parish Records from Plymouth and West Devon at Find My Past.


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

 

Send to Kindle