The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) has revamped part of its online certificate ordering services.
The government department responsible for providing copies of birth, marriages and death certificates has released two searchable indexes via its website, but only for those births and deaths registered in the years 1837-1915 and 1837-1957 respectively.
We have all been accustomed to using the GRO indexes via third party websites such as FreeBMD, Ancestry, Findmypast and TheGenealogist, noting down the volume and page number of our ancestors’ entries before paying a visit to the GRO website to order hard copies of the certificates by post. But now, the new GRO indexes will allow family history researchers to click through from their findings on its site and buy the copy certificates all from the same website. You will still need to use the third party sites for marriages and for more recent dates, however.
As an added bonus, the GRO birth index also gives us the mothers’ maiden names for the full range of entries. Up to now using the online indexes at the other sites has meant that it is only possible for family history researchers to view these details for births registered from July 1911 onwards. This extra resource could be very useful to those who want to identify children who had died in between the census years, and for whom no other documentary evidence can be found.
Secondly, the new GRO death index on their site will allow a user to search for a likely ancestor by entering the age at death from the beginning of their records in 1837.
This new GRO indexes have been launched online following several weeks of beta testing with members of the genealogy community.
The news first came to my attention in the newsletter sent out by Peter Calver, founder of the popular website LostCousins, who has been one of those involved in several weeks of beta testing with others and in his latest email newsletter, Mr Calver has revealed that the GRO is planning another twist to the service by trialling the option to have digital copies of certificates available for the first time in the form of uncertified PDF versions of birth certificates for the years 1837-1934 and death certificates from 1837-1957.
The cost will be £6 each, saving money and the wait for the postal delivery (a paper certificate costs £9.25). But the bad news is that the trial starting on the 9th of November and will last for three weeks, or until 45,000 PDFs have been purchased.
So will you be heading over to the GRO website on Wednesday?
I’ve been a bit busy today putting together some short videos for my students and haven’t thought about a blog post.
Then it struck me that perhaps I should share one of the videos from the series here as well… so this is a raw video that I have just done on ‘3 mistakes people make when they begin researching in the BMD records collections of England and Wales‘.
The University of Southampton sent out this press release and I decided to take a look for a couple of branches of my family.
Names from my direct paternal line feature as archers, many in the naval service. I have no way of knowing if I am descended from any of these as my research has not got the Thorne family that far back. Still it is interesting to see that there is a possibility there!
The Thorn/Thornes that I have identified as definitely being in my family tree, from much later in history, were from maritime towns in Devon. If I were able to trace the line back further I wonder if any of them were descendants of one of these names in this fascinating list?
While searching, I also found a number of cases of Hays and De La Hays (from my maternal line). These Norman descendants were mostly fighting for the English side against their French “cousins” and they ranged in rank and social class from Knights to Archers.
Wonder which, if any, are my ancestors?
Here is the announcement written by the University of Southampton on newswise
If you’ve ever wondered whether your ancestors served as a medieval soldier in the Hundred Years War, a newly launched website from historians at the universities of Southampton and Reading, UK, may have the answer.
The names of over 3,500 French soldiers linked to the Battle of Agincourt (1415) have been added to www.medievalsoldier.org. They join the quarter of a million names already available for English armies who fought in a number of campaigns, including Agincourt– forming what’s believed to be the largest database of medieval people in the world. This latest stage of the Soldier in Later Medieval England project has been supported by the charity Agincourt 600 and by both universities.
Professor Anne Curry, project Director and Dean of Humanities at the University of Southampton, says: “It is fitting that this new resource has been made available following the major 600th anniversary commemorations of Agincourt in 2015, in which our university played a key role. The Medieval Soldier website has already proved an invaluable resource for genealogists and people interested in social, political and military history. This new data will help us to reach out to new users and shed fresh light on the Hundred Years War.”
Of the thousands of French soldiers added to the new website, 550 were killed on the battlefield. Research by Southampton’s Dr Rémy Ambühl has also shown that over 300 were taken prisoner and held for ransom.
Professor Adrian Bell, fellow project Director and Head of the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School at the University of Reading, comments: “Our newly developed interface interrogates sources found in many different archive repositories in England and France. Without our site, searching for this information would require many visits to the National Archives of both England and France, the British Library and Bibliothèque nationale and all of the Archives Départementales in Normandy.”
The Medieval Solider website was first launched in 2009, resulting from a three year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Names of soldiers were sourced from archive collections of muster rolls used to audit pay during military campaigns and from evidence of letters of protection, which soldiers bought from the Chancery to prevent legal actions while they were absent from home.
Now refreshed and given a new search interface by Russian postdoctoral fellow Dr Aleksandr Lobanov, the website brings together three separate databases to make them searchable as a single resource. In addition to the names of the French soldiers recently added, the database now also contains details of geographical origins of soldiers and locations of their service – enabling the local life of the medieval soldier to be illuminated more fully. People can search by surname, rank, or year of service.
For example, Professor Bell was pleased to find 58 ‘Bells’ on the database, including a John Bell from Chatham serving in Calais in 1414 and again with the royal household on the Agincourt campaign.
The site provides biographies of all English captains of 1415 and further insights into the Battle of Agincourt, which was commemorated extensively in the UK and France last year.
Pen & Sword Books you may be interested in:
This week saw the relaunch of ScotlandsPeople website under its new operators, CACI. For years it had been run for the Scottish Government by the people behind FindMyPast, but they relinquished their franchise and this week saw the new site appear, albeit a little later than expected.
The top genealogy website for tracing your Scottish ancestors because it contains millions of documents held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) – now boasts an enhanced search facility and new user interface that is designed from the start to be accessible on a range of devices.
There has been a slight increase in the price of purchasing pay-per-view credits from £7 to £7.50 for 30 credits, but users are no longer charged for accessing statutory index entries to birth, marriage, death, Old Parish Register and Open Census records.
If, like me you had been a previous user then, all credits, saved images and searches from the old version of the website are still be available to users once you log into the new platform.
I have spent a profitable time this weekend searching out some of my Scots forebears in the Old Parish Records, finding a number of my ancestors in 18th century Fife. I was particularly pleased to find a marriage in 1719 in the parish of Wemyss that looks like it could be relevant for my maternal family tree.
If you have any Scottish ancestry then now is a good time to take a look at the records on this website: www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk
The ScotlandsPeople website is the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives and is used by hundreds of thousands of people each year to apply for copies of official certificates and to research family history, biography, local history and social history.
You may also be interested in this book…
This fully revised second edition of Ian Maxwell’s Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors is a lively and accessible introduction to Scotland’s long, complex and fascinating story. It is aimed primarily at family historians who are eager to explore and understand the world in which their ancestors lived.
He guides readers through the wealth of material available to researchers in Scotland and abroad. He looks at every aspect of Scottish history and at all the relevant resources. As well as covering records held at the National Archives of Scotland, he examines closely the information held at local archives throughout the country. He also describes the extensive Scottish records that are now available on line.
His expert and up-to-date survey is a valuable handbook for anyone who is researching Scottish history because he explains how the archive material can be used and where it can be found. For family historians, it is essential reading as it puts their research into a historical perspective, giving them a better insight into the part their ancestors played in the past.
Read more about this book here:
Compensated affiliate link to Pen & Sword Books used in this recommendation
If you have Welsh ancestors then the chances are that you already know that up until the 19th century in a number of the more rural areas the Welsh tended to use the ancient Patronymic naming system.
This is where the offspring from a marriage would mostly take their Father’s forename as their surname. I have added the word ‘mostly’ in the last statement as on occasions there have been cases where it was the mother’s name that had been passed on as a second name. Matronymic surnames, however, are far less common than patronymic last names.
Because of this tradition of using the Patronymic, or Matronymic for one’s child, surnames were not fixed and would change from generation to generation. For example, if Thomas JONES had three sons, Thomas, William and David.
The three sons may have gone by the names of:
Thomas ap Thomas or Thomas Thomas Jones;
William ab Thomas or William Thomas Jones;
David ab Thomas or David Thomas Jones;
And if Thomas ap Thomas had a son, David, he could be known as David Thomas while if William ab Thomas also had a son called David, he would be known as David William.
As a general rule an ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ was added between the child’s name and the father’s name. In the example, David ab Thomas is David “son of” Thomas. For a woman’s name, the word ferch or verch (often abbreviated to vch), meaning “daughter of”, was used.
As with any rule, you may not be surprised to learn that there were many exceptions to it. Your Welsh ancestors could well have dropped the ‘ab’ or ‘ap’ altogether. In the case of a David, son of Owen Thomas, his name may well have used the simple name of David Owen. Other exceptions are where your ancestors decided to drop the ‘a’ from ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ and just attach the remaining ‘p’ or ‘b’ to the father’s name. For example, ‘David ab Owen’ could have been known as ‘David Bowen’.
In dealing with patronymic names, the researcher needs to bear in mind that the absence of ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ does not mean the family adopted a permanent surname. In south Wales particularly, patronymic surnames appeared without the ‘ap’ or ‘ab’.
By the later years of the Middle Ages the patronymic system was gradually being replaced by fixed surnames. Although the use of patronymic names would continue to be used by some right up until the early 19th century in some rural areas.
When your Welsh ancestors started to fix their surnames then all their descendants used the same surname. In our example, all of David Thomas’s descendants now took the surname THOMAS and all David WILLIAM’s descendants had the surname WILLIAM OR WILLIAMS.
This explains why, when we are researching in Wales, that we may be surprised to find that the number of Welsh surnames is comparatively small. The majority of Welsh surnames have been drawn from a limited number of forenames that were most popular among parents at the time that Welsh surnames became fixed.
If your ancestor held a prominent position in a religious organisation then you may find them in amongst a number of recent releases at TheGenealogist.co.uk. The new records include:
These records compliment an already wide range of religious occupational records such as Cox’s Clergy Lists and Crockford’s Clerical Directories, Jewish Seatholders, Catholic Registers, and Directories already on TheGenealogist.
Diamond subscribers can access these records by going to the Search tab on the home page – scrolling down to Occupational Records and then selecting the type of records that they are interested in.
Head over to TheGenealogist to search these records
Compensated affiliate links used in the post above http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/
This Press Announcement came from the team at TheGenealogist:
TheGenealogist adds to its growing collection of Parish Records with the release of those for Nuneaton & North Warwickshire.
- Released in partnership with the Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Family History Society there are over 454,000 new fully searchable records of individuals
- Allowing the researcher to discover more than 300,000 people recorded within the baptisms from this area in the heart of England
- Family historians can also discover the details of over 90,000 individuals from marriages and nearly 60,0000 people listed in the burials of Nuneaton & North Warwickshire
Nuneaton & North Warwickshire FHS worked with TheGenealogist to publish their records online for the first time, making 454,525 individuals from baptism, marriage and burial records fully searchable.
“The officers of Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Family History Society are delighted to be working with The Genealogist to bring their collection of baptism, marriage and burial transcriptions for north Warwickshire online…” John Parton (Chairman)
With some of the surviving records reaching back into the 1700s this is an excellent resource for family historians to use for discovering Nuneaton & North Warwickshire ancestors.
The records are also available on TheGenealogist’s Society website FHS-Online.co.uk where societies get 100% of the income.
“This new initiative will provide for those researchers preferring online access, while allowing us to continue offering the data on CD. NNWFHS members have opportunity to take out an enhanced subscription which includes access to the data.” John Parton (Chairman)
This is an ongoing project with the society working on transcribing many more records.
“We’re delighted to welcome NNWFHS to both TheGenealogist and FHS-Online. This release adds to the growing collection of parish records on both websites. These partnerships help societies boost their funds whilst bringing their records to a much wider audience, through online publication.” Mark Bayley (Head of Online Development)
If your society is interested in publishing records online, please contact Mark Bayley on 01722 717002 or see fhs-online.co.uk/about.php
Examples from Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Parish records
In these records can be found the famous novelist, poet, journalist and translator George Eliot, under her real name of Mary Anne Evans. She was born in Nuneaton and baptised at Chilvers Coton All Saints church in 1819 – she used the pen name of George Eliot in order to be taken more seriously as a writer.
For the settings of the stories, Mary drew on her Warwickshire childhood. Chilvers Coton became Shepperton. Shepperton Church is described in great detail in The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton, and is recognisably that of Chilvers Coton.
Also to be found in these records are members of her family that she used as inspiration for some of her characters. For example the record for her sister Christiana Evans, baptised in 1814, contains a relevant note by the society that reveals: Sister of George Eliot. Christiana, ‘Chrissie’ as she was known to her family, was the original of: “Celia” in ‘Middlemarch’ & “Lucy Deane” in ‘The Mill on the Floss’.
If we search for Mary Anne’s brother, Isaac Pearson Evans who was born in 1816, there is a note which tells us that he was the brother of George Eliot and that he was the basis of Tom Tulliver in “The Mill on the Floss”.
Another person to be found in these records is a Henry Harper, born 1830, whose mother Anne has the note: Anne Harper – daughter of Rev. Bernard Gilpin and Mrs Ebdell (“Mr Gilfil” and “Caterina”) and was the son of “Mr Farquhar – the secondary squire of the parish” in “Scenes of Clerical Life” by George Eliot.
Additionally there is Isabell Adolphine Gwyther born in 1834 and Edward James Wilson Gwyther born in 1837, who share a mention that reveals: The Rev J Gwyther was Curate of Coton. He and his wife were the originals of “Amos & Milly Barton” in ‘Scenes of Clerical Life’ by George Eliot, “Milly Barton” was the mother of six young children.
Using these records you would also be able to find the death in 1836 of Christiana Evans, the writer’s mother.
Check out the parish records on TheGenealogist
I found this very interesting after having spent a week with my parents who could remember stories that their own parents told about the time.
Exploring how TNA designed and built a resource uncovering experiences of British life on the Home Front during the First World War…