New records on line: Police Letter Books from Hampshire & Northumberland Colour Tithe maps

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This piece of news was released by the team at TheGenealogist.

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The data subscription site has just launched a new collection of Police Letter Books for Hampshire. This is an intriguing mixture of promotions, retirements, movements, and other observations about Police officers in this county from 1891 to 1911. In amongst its pages you will be able to trace the career of your Hampshire police ancestors as they rise or fall.

Image from TheGenealogist's Image Archive
These records reveal names and collar numbers of officers promoted, reduced in rank or dismissed from the force for committing various acts of misconduct. The misdemeanors often seem to involve alcohol, ranging from accepting a glass of beer to being drunk on duty. For those more competent officers who were commended for their actions in the pages of these documents, you can read the actions that had been seen as deserving of inclusion in the Letter Books.

In addition, TheGenealogist has released the Colour Tithe Maps for Northumberland. These maps join the previously released greyscale maps for the majority of the country that are already published on TheGenealogist.

  • Contains over 600 colour maps, linking to over 62,000 tithe records for this county
  • These maps are a fantastic resource that enable you to see where your ancestors owned or occupied land in Northumberland
  • The only online National collection of tithe records and maps

 

Northumberland Tithe Map
Bilton Tithe Map from Northumberland

 

Newcastle Upon Tyne Tithe Map
Tithe map of All Saints, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland on TheGenealogist

The searchable schedules, or apportionment books, contain detailed information on land use and these are linked to the maps on TheGenealogist. Clicking through from the transcript to a map will jump straight to the plot for an individual and can reveal buildings, fields, houses, rivers, lakes, woods and also cover villages, towns and cities.

 


A case study using one of the new record sets

The Ups and Down of a life on the beat

The latest release of Police Letter Books for Hampshire is an eclectic mix of details of promotions and removals of officers (postings from one place to another), as well as recording such things as additional pay and a number of disciplinary matters that were handed out to the policemen of the Hampshire County Constabulary.

If we search for one late Victorian police officer in the records, named John William Walsh, we can see that P.C. 82 J W Walsh had set out on his employment in the force around 1893. On the 12th June of that year, our 3rd class Police Constable appears first in the Letter Books when he was being sent from headquarters to serve at Kingsclere Police station. As this officer appears no less than nineteen times in the records between 1893 and 1911, we can see that he was a career policeman having probably set his sights on progressing through the ranks. By the end of that same year, on the 8th November 1893, he had been transferred to Totton and promoted to 2nd Class Constable.

So far so good for John Walsh. In 1898 he had made 1st Class Constable and then the job took him to Brockenhurst.

January 1900 sees a blip in his job prospects when he failed his Sergeant’s exam, which is duly recorded in the records – but he bounces back a few months later. By the 18th June 1900, when he gets his coveted promotion to Sergeant and is ‘removed’ to Petersfield the same day, we now see that he has been allocated collar number 14. He crops up in the Police Letter Books in a note of an entitlement to extra pay for 13 days in 1905 and then in 1906 saw him reach the pinnacle of his career as he is promoted to Inspector!

What could possibly go wrong?

These new records on TheGenealogist show that, conversely, 1906 was also the worst year for John Walsh’s path up the ranks of the Hampshire County Constabulary. Promoted to Inspector in January 1906; in October he was on the way back down!

Police Letter Books on TheGenealogist

The Police Letter book for the 18th October 1906 sadly reveals that our Inspector, of nine months, was to be reduced in ranks to that of a 1st Class Constable. This must have been devastating for him and his family as he was not just going down one rank, to Sergeant, but back to where he had been eight years before. His offence: being drunk while on duty in Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth.

A lesser man may have considered his position in the police, but not John Walsh. From the records we find the newly numbered P.C.165 removed from Bournemouth to Farringdon on the same day that he had been busted down in rank. A year later, in 1907, and he has been promoted to Sergeant for the second time in his police career. He is posted to Basingstoke with this rank with yet another change in collar number to 35. It was on the 22nd November 1911 that we see he had climbed further still. It was not quite to the rank that he had lost in 1906, but J Walsh was now a Sergeant Major in the force and was removed to Winchester.

Using these new records on TheGenealogist has enabled us to follow the ups and downs of one particular police officer who, like many of his colleagues, came a cropper through partiality to a drink. If you have Policeman ancestors from Hampshire then search this collection to find interesting mentions of them as they are removed to new stations across the county, are commended for catching thieves, receive promotions, or are sometimes disciplined for their actions.

See more at: TheGenealogist

 

 

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Hilarious mistakes in a family tree!

Family Tree on a computer

I was looking for some clues this week about which branch of a family to pursue, while researching someone’s family tree for them.

I did a quick trawl of the online offerings, to see if I could get some pointers as to which direction my research should go and which of two cousins to concentrate on.

We all get taught that we should NEVER take someone else’s research and add it into our own tree without verifying the information in the records.

I may, however, look to see what others may have found before me as a clue to which people I need to research in the primary records. But I always scan to see what sources they have added to their tree, to back up their research. If there are few records cited – or worse still, none at all – then my in built BS meter tends to go off in my brain.

Unfortunately, too many people don’t seem to approach ancestor research with a healthy dose of scepticism for what they have found online and so the web based family trees can be a great example of people’s fantasy being passed off as truth.

Online family history research

I was once bombarded by messages from someone who thought that doing genealogy was simple. They willy nilly grabbed people with the same names as their ancestors and completed their tree in no time at all. When I raised with them the subject of proof they became very annoyed with me. To them “it stands to reason” that X was the father of Y and that there was no need to waste our time proving it.

Sorry, that is so wrong!

I do think that it is acceptable to take a look and see if we can get some clues for our own research from what others have done, but sometimes I am speechless at what I find published in an online tree.

This week I found that someone had made public their family tree with a line going back to the eighteenth century. Supposedly, if you believed their tree, one of their female ancestors had been born in 1779, got married 8 years before she was born, had a son when she was 3 years old and then died in two different places!

Perhaps this was a work in progress and they were entering possible candidates into the tree before checking the records to verify if they had the right person. In this case it must, surely, have been obvious they were barking up the wrong tree. I just wonder how they were not embarrassed to have this nonsense publicly available for all to see?

Lesson from all this, for those new to family history research, don’t make your tree public if it contains daft speculation!

 

Take a look at Genealogical Proof on the Amazon store, some books are very reasonably priced: http://amzn.to/2lVoZYO

 

My own English/Welsh family history course includes a module examining genealogical proof.

Family History Researcher Academy

 

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Millions more UK Parish Records and 350,000 new War Memorial Records

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New records released by TheGenealogist

The Genealogist has added to the millions of its UK Parish Records collection with over 282,000 new records from Essex, Cumberland and Norfolk making it easier to find your ancestors’ baptisms, marriages and burials in these fully searchable records covering ancient parishes. Some of the records go back as far as 1672.

Also released are another 43,000 new war memorial records.

The new release of War Memorial records means there are now over 350,000 searchable records. This latest release includes war memorials from London, along with further English counties including Cumbria, Berkshire, Warwickshire and Suffolk. The collection also stretches across the globe to encompass new War Memorials situated in Perth, Australia and the Province of Saskatchewan in Canada. Fully searchable by name, researchers can read transcriptions and see images of the dedications that commemorate soldiers who have fallen in the Boer War, WW1 and various other conflicts.

War Memorial on TheGenealogist

 

 

In amongst these newly published War Memorial records are those from St John’s Church in Bassenthwaite, Cumbria. This is a fascinating WW1 roll with men who died or served and includes information such as that for Louis Willis Bell who died in Rouen as a result of poison gassing. Another notable entry is that for Isaac Hall. This soldier enlisted in January 1915 in 7th Border Regiment and was discharged on the 21st March 1917, because of wounds resulting in the loss of his left leg.

Isaac Hall in a war memorial in Cumbria

 

 

 

Example of Parish Records on TheGenealogist:

Parish Records can sometimes unearth fascinating stories

We are all aware that parish records give us those all important dates and names for our ancestors – but in some cases they reveal interesting stories as well. When a vicar, or parish clerk, feels the person they are entering in the register needs an extra explanation, over and above the date and name of the person, then some fascinating historical details can emerge for researchers to read.

As an excellent example of this we can look in the parish records for All Saints Church, in Maldon, Essex. Here we find the burial of one Edward Bright in the year 1750. Edward, a Tallow Chandler and Grocer, who died when he was in his late twenties, had an unusual claim to fame.

The entry in the parish register on TheGenealogist reveals that he was an extremely large man, weighing 42 stone (588 pounds) and was in fact believed to be the fattest man in England at the time.

The Fat Man of Maldon

 

Edward Bright by David Ogborne http://www.itsaboutmaldon.co.uk/edwardbright/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The notes for his burial on the 12 November 1750 in the parish register explain that Edward had to be buried in a special coffin as he was so large. To remove the casket from his room above his shop, special provisions were needed requiring structural modifications to the wall and stairs to aid his final journey to All Saints.

Having arrived at church on a carriage, more unusual procedures were used to get the deceased to his final resting place. Edward’s coffin would have been far too heavy to be borne by pallbearers up the aisle to rest before the congregation during the funeral service. Also it would have severely taxed the muscles of those men who would have normally lowered it manually into the grave. The logistics, in this case, needed rollers to be used to slide the coffin up to a brickwork vault and then a triangle and pulleys were used to lower poor Edward into his grave.

The parish register entry did, however, not just dwell on the problems of burying a man of such large proportions. It went on to also record a number of positive attributes that Edward Bright had – so giving us a picture of the man that he was. We can see that he was well thought of by the vicar and community of this 18th century Essex parish. The register tells us that he was: “… A Very Honest Tradesman. A Facetious Companion, Comely In His Person, Affable In His Temper, A Kind Husband, A Tender Father & Valuable Friend.”

TheGenealogist parish records

 

As we have seen here, sometimes a parish register can give you so much more than just the date that your ancestor was baptised, married or buried.

Find out more at TheGenealogist.co.uk

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Ancestors that changed their names!

 

The Nosey Genealogist at Birmingham Archives

 

I received a request to break down a brick wall this week from Pre-World War II Birmingham in Warwickshire – though it is now in the county of West Midlands.

The challenge was, essentially, how to identify someone’s birth and family when that person had changed their name, having got married.

As it was a ‘brick wall’ that was entirely surmountable, by applying some easily available records, I thought it might make a good blog post that others may benefit from.

 

All I had to go by was that Mrs Smith (not her real name) had lived in a particular road in a suburb of Birmingham in the late 1930s and shared a house with another couple (whom I will call Mr & Mrs H Jones). I was only given the lady’s married surname, as her first name was not known. Other facts I had were that she had been widowed young, when she lost her husband in the First World War and that he may have been an officer.

So this is how I approached the problem.

 

I was on a visit to The Library of Birmingham and so I took the escalators to the fourth floor where the Archives and Heritage centre is now situated. Many of the records, however, are accessible online and so even if you are on the other side of the world you would be able to duplicate these steps.

I took a look at the Electoral Registers for Birmingham and found Mr H Jones, Nell his wife and Mrs Annie Alice Smith listed as eligible to vote. Their address was in the Mosley area of Birmingham.

 

Now I checked the GRO indexes online for the marriage of lady called Annie A (leaving the surname blank as it was unknown) and a man with unknown first names, but a surname of Smith. I assumed that they married between 1905 and 1918, as the information I had was that he had died in WWI.

Frustratingly I could not find such a match.

 

Next I consulted the run of Trades and Street Directories to find the names of people living in the road where we knew that she had resided in 1938. Some directories can be found online on various websites now, so it is possible to have done this step from the comfort of my own home, should I have chosen to do so.

Find your ancestors in Trades Directories
Trades Directories at The Library of Birmingham

The first hurdle was that as she was one of four people living in the house and only the name of the main householder was listed for each property. I could see Mr Jones listed but not Mrs Smith. I had been told that Mr and Mrs Jones left Birmingham, as the war began, so that they could join the war effort. I wondered if Mrs Smith left too, or was there a possibility that she remained in Birmingham?

Looking at the volumes for 1939 and 1940 I could find two householders that were possible contenders – a Mrs Annie Smith in Selly Oak and a Mrs Alice Annie Smith in Edgbaston. This last one, with her first and middle names the other way round from her listing in the Electoral registers, made me wonder if this was the reason why I had not found her marriage.

Returning to the marriage indexes online I now entered the new details and was rewarded with the marriage of an Alice Ann Evans (surname changed to protect privacy) marrying a William Samuel Smith in Devon during the year 1916. Seeking corroboration I searched the military records online and found a Corporal W. S. Smith MM who had then been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and who had died of his wounds at the Somme. This seemed to echo the information that I had been given about the widow’s husband, so I was now confident that I had found the lady’s name.

Trades Directory
1938 Kelly’s Trades Directory

When carrying out your own research it is always worth keeping in mind that some of our ancestors may swap their first and middle names. They may also even modify one of the names, as in this case, with the lengthening of Ann to become Annie. If you are new to family history research then you could be thrown off the scent when you are looking for your own ancestors, if they too changed their names like Alice Ann did!

Armed with the quarter of Alice Ann’s marriage, I was now able to find her in the church register for the parish church at Paignton. I could equally have bought a copy of her marriage certificate from the GRO. Both would have furnished me with her father’s name, which was Thomas and that his occupation was a School Master.

I then turned to the 1911 census to find Thomas Evans, school master, in a town in Worcestershire and one of his daughters was the elusive Alice A Evans. The census also provided me with her age, last birthday, and where she was born.

Armed with this I could search now for her birth, finding that she was registered with the names Alice Ann and I could also go on to find her death registered in 1983 at Portsmouth.

The brick wall had been overcome.


 

If you’d like to find out more about how to tease out your elusive English or Welsh ancestors then CLICK this link:
www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

 

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