Use more than one ancestor look up site!

I really need to remember my own advice to use more than one ancestor look up site!Ancestors in Thorne Family tree
On the occasions when I find myself talking to someone new to this family history pastime, about doing ancestor research, I often find myself going back to the advice that I have been given by a professional genealogists. Now I do not consider myself to be anything like a Genealogical Guru, I am simply someone who has gained a little experience over the years and now am happy to pass on two of my tips here. Both are about stepping back from the research results and introducing some careful thought into the proceedings.
  • Think logically about a person’s time-line.
  • Listen to family stories, but then step back and try to corroborate them with hard evidence to confirm what you have been told.

A person’s date of birth is obviously going to dictate an approximate time for when they could have got married and when you should reasonably expect them to have died. A little thought will tell you that rarely will a person be getting married in their hundredth year! Likewise, they are not going to be getting wed aged 6 or 7 either. Beware of entries in databases that just happen to have the same name as your ancestor, but are just plain and simply the wrong people. But even then we can go wrong if  we are not careful.

One weekend, when doing some family tree research,  I got myself stuck in a hole and wasted oh so much time digging it deeper and deeper! What was it I was doing wrong and how did I finally get out of it? Well I was trying to find the details of an ancestor’s death so that I could purchase a death certificate from the GRO site.

I am fairly wedded to www.ancestry.co.uk for most of my research. I like what they have on offer and I have become use to the way the site works. I also have a subscription to other sites such as www.thegenealogist.co.uk which I find good for many searches and then there is another favourite of mine:  www.findmypast.com.  (Disclosure re these links: Compensated Affiliate.)

The research I was doing had been initiated by reading some “thoughts” put down on paper by a relative before he died. I had been shown this family history because, as a cousin, I had an ancestor in common with them and I wanted to enter this forbear into my family tree as well. The handwritten notes indicated that our ancestor had died aged 66 and from this I was able to work out that as they were born in 1865. From this I then worked out that they probably died in 1930.

I went on to ancestry.co.uk and searched by name for the ancestor in all four quarters of 1930 but to no avail. I then broadened my research for ten years either side and spent hours looking for them without any luck. I then thought I’d try misspellings of the ancestor’s name as this, I thought, is surely why they are missing. Result: A big fat nothing!

Eventually, after much wasted time, I thought about using one of the other websites that offers Birth marriage and death details, something I should have done early on. And what did I find? There he was, on the other BMD site spelt correctly and dying in the district where I expected him too, but aged 70 not 66 and in the year 1935 not 1930!
The lessons for me to relearn and hopefully for you to benefit from are as follows:
  1. Remember that all websites are fallible and omissions happen.
  2. Family stories can sometimes be wrong as humans are not blessed with 100 percent recall and we can get things wrong, as it would seem this relative did in his writings for his children!

I have made myself a note to remember my own advice in future: Use more than one ancestor look up site and remember that stories can be wrong!

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Family Search and the Family Historian

I have been on my own family search quest for several years now. Some of the foremost websites that I have used in this time include the world famous familysearch.org, run by the Latter Day Saints and often referred to as LDS; Ancestry, operated by the Generations Network;  The Genealogist.co.uk;  Genes Reunited and   Findmypast.com. (Disclosure re these links: Compensated Affiliate.)

FamilySesarch, however, is one of the biggest genealogy organizations in the world and as such is an important on-line tool for any family historian. Countless millions of us will search the records, resources, and services of this website to learn more about our family history each year. For more than a century the people behind it have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide. Today, the users of the site are able to freely access the database, including the International Genealogical Index as well as church member contributed material, on-line at FamilySearch.org, or through over 4,500 family history centres in 70 countries.

The Internet resource is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whom you may be more familiar with as the Mormon Church. Their commitment to helping people make a connection with their ancestors comes from their belief that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue into the after life. From this they therefore believe that all family members including those living, past, and those from the future, share an enduring bond which stretches across the generations.

Their website does not require you to share their beliefs at all, but is open to all of us to use what ever our creed, or culture is. It is a very useful resource for anyone engaged in the detective work involved in tracing one’s family tree.

The International Genealogical Index and Hugh Wallis.

Once you have keyed in your ancestor’s name into the search box you will be accessing a compilation of entries from baptism and marriage registers drawn from parishes and their equivalent from all over the world. Although it is a site run from the USA, for those of us with UK roots it still very relevant as it represents us well with index records. Some English counties in particular having excellent coverage.

The site, however, has certain issues in the way that you can search it. One of which is it is not always simple to find your ancestors even when they are there to be found in the IGI – which, of course, is not always the case. The reason why you may not find them is because to search by last name only is not permitted by the site’s search engine, unless you search within a single batch of records at a time or, across the entire country! You will probably understand that a search for a last name across the whole of England is a very tall order indeed. Remember it is not even a search of a single county, let alone a town that we are talking about here. If you have a rare name then perhaps it might be OK to do, but if you are looking for a Smith or a Jones then you are asking the impossible.

I have learnt that there is a way around this problem. It is to use a really handy website set up by an enthusiast to aid the family history researcher find their way around the FamilySearch site. What is more, it helps us know what registers are available on the IGI. The secret weapon to crack open the Family Search site is the website maintained by Hugh Wallis: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~hughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers.htm

The possible ranges he allows you to access are the Births/Christenings and Marriages for the British Isles, Canada and the USA. I really cannot recommend this tool highly enough to you. With it you may select a geographic location, see the churches and chapels for that area and then, by typing in the last name of your ancestor, it will use the search engine on FamilySearch to allow you to easily examine all the batches for that surname in the town or area that you are concentrating on.

Some Issues With the IGI.

Please remember, when doing your research, that the International Genealogical Index:

is incomplete – and this applies not only on a parish by parish basis, but to within parishes as well where gaps may also be found to confound you

– is compiled from several different types of record including information submitted by members of the LDS church supplying information that can sometimes be plain inaccurate and not having come from the original parish register

– has countless mistakes caused by problems associated with interpreting handwriting and also the previously noted member submitted entries

– does not, except for a few cases, cover burials;

– is only an index and so you really should not ever considered it to be a substitute for looking at the original record.

A short while ago, as I tried to get back a generation from where the census records on line had stopped in 1841, I found I was having to turn to the Parish Records. For my Scottish line I was able to use the easily accessed old parish records (OPR) on Scotlandspeople.gov.uk website, but for my English line the lack of scanned records meant the challenge of learning how to break into this area of family history research was a fascinating test for me.

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Clandestine Marriages

Today I wanted to look at Clandestine marriages!

Well what are they you cry?

The answer is that “Clandestine” marriages were weddings that perhaps had an element of secrecy attached to them.

They may have taken place in another part of the country away from a home parish, and probably without either banns being read or a marriage licence obtained. The secrecy could have been for all sorts of reasons for example lack of parental consent; or more salaciously where bigamy was involved.

The facts that fees were paid to the clergymen meant that some were willing to conduct such marriage ceremonies. What is more the number of such unions were quite enormous, particularly in London.

You will find that certain churches were important centres for such “trade”and in the 1740s, over half of all London weddings were taking place in the environs of the Fleet Prison and not all the brides and grooms would have been from the capital city.

“Fleet Marriages” were performed by bogus priests and disgraced ordained clergy. Although there were most probably earlier ones, the earliest Fleet Marriage on record is 1613, while the earliest recorded in a Fleet Register took place in 1674.

The Fleet was a jail and so, as such, claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the church. The prison warders took a share of the profit, even though a statute of 1711 imposed fines upon them for doing so. What this did was move the clandestine marriage trade outside of the prison. It was in the lawless environs of the Fleet that many debtors lived and some of them may well have been disgraced clergymen. Marriage houses or taverns now carried on the trade, encouraged by local hostelry keepers who sought out business by employing touts to actively solicit custom for them.

If you wish to search for these Clandestine marriages on line then you are in luck as you can find them at: www.ancestry.co.uk (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.)Ancestry.co.uk on a computer screenTheir London Marriage Licences data set allows you access to the details of more than 25,000 marriages in London spanning four centuries.

This collection is not just about “Fleet marriages” but is for unions made outside church approval – those away from the spouses’ normal parish and often you will be able to find the names of brides and grooms, parents and witnesses as well as residence, age of spouses and the occupation of the groom. This collection has marriage licences granted in the dioceses of London by the Bishop’s office from 1521 to 1828, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster’s office from 1599 to 1699 and two offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1543 to 1869 and 1660 to 1679 and so is an important resource for the family historian.

Take a look at Ancestry.co.uk.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Chelsea Pensioners at findmypast.co.uk

Recently I’ve been researching my family tree using the resources of findmypast.co.uk more than ever. For any one serious about family history this site has a lot to offer. Their recent release in May 2010 of Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1873–1882, is a case in question.

It is possible for you to search 97,515 records for men that had been pensioned out of the British Army in between 1873 and 1882. They and FamilySerach are working in association with The National Archives in a partnership to provide us with these new records. The breakdown of the records data you can find on findmypast.co.uk, together with those which are still to come are the following:

Table taken form http://www.findmypast.co.uk/media/news/news-item.jsp?doc=CHEPmay.html

The point about these is that whilst many other military documents provide details about officer-class soldiers, these records refer to normal, non-officer class soldiers. This makes it more probable that you will be capable of finding details about your ancestors. The connection with ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ is the fact that the pensions had been administered through The Royal Hospital at Chelsea. Typically the large majority of pensioned soldiers were out-pensioners and did not reside at the Hospital itself.

Just what makes these records so special?

The records provide vibrant detail as well as colour to our ancestors’ lives to a level that is difficult to discover elsewhere. There are usually six or seven records per soldier, whilst a man might only get a single line within, for instance, a 19th century census record. Most of the service records note each of the regiments in which a soldier served, with both start and end dates, ranks attained, and the total service rendered, once again in years as well as days, in each rank and regiment. Service within either the East or West Indies will be noted separately.

The reason for the soldier’s discharge (sickness or injuries) is offered, as are remarks upon general conduct whilst in the service, and notations regarding height, complexion, eye as well as hair colour, and civilian occupation. The document is dated and signed by both the soldier and commanding officer. In the absence of pictures, these documents are an indispensable resource in furnishing a good insight into what your own forefathers actually might look like. These records are among the most popular at The National Archives as family historians and genealogists have awakened to the fact exactly how valuable they are. You’ll find much more information about these records in their knowledge base on the site.

The Chelsea Pensioner Service Records are made up of soldiers from all over the British Empire. Beneath is a percentage break down of where the servicemen were born:

England = 68.9%

Ireland = 17.6%

Scotland = 8.3%

Wales = 2.2%

West Indies = .6%

India = .4%

Sark = .00073%

Start searching for your Chelsea Pensioner ancestors now at findmypast.co.uk.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

Source:

http://www.findmypast.co.uk/media/news/news-item.jsp?doc=CHEPmay.html

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Search Lost Relatives! How To Easily And Effortlessly Look For Someone You Lost Contact With

Lately my wife’s sister got curious about what
had happened to her first husband after they broken up. That marriage had
finished badly and they hadn’t been in touch for almost
thirty years. She tried hunting for her ex-husband’s name on Google and
Yahoo but didn’t get any hits. Knowing I do research online in my work as a
qualified writer, she asked if I might discover
anything.

I write for business and technical magazines, so I
use numerous high-priced databases for in-
depth research. However I suggested she
try an easier alternative- a way out I use myself when I want to
search for somebody quickly and without difficulty. I
recommended she try one of the people search database services. Even the
better ones cost so little, they’re practically free. Most offer a trial
period. I gave her the name of one to try.

She was dubious. She’s not very comfortable using her computer for much
more than email. Her stab at the search engines had already left her
upset. Now she was going to have to “sign up for something and
learn something completely new… oh my goodness,” was the way
she put it.

Yet, later the same day I suggested it, she emailed back excitedly.
In a few minutes, she’d discovered all kinds of information
regarding her ex. It turned out that he’d done something of a turnaround after they’d
broken up. Their divorce resulted from
clashes over his severe drinking problem. After they got separated,
though, he’d ultimately gone back to med school, gotten his MD and become an
orthopaedic surgeon. He’d even been instrumental in
developing some kind of device used by other
physicians in his field.

Regrettably, the poor fellow had passed, but at least my sister-
in-law discovered reassure in knowing that things had
worked out for him in spite of everything. She remarked that even if their relationship ended in the most awful imaginable way,
it had began from a good point. She said she hadn’t actually wanted to contact
him. She just wanted to know what had happened to him.
At times all we want is only to satisfy our  inquisitiveness about what happened to someone we’ve lost
track of. Many of us have an old pal or associate we still think about.
A Better Way to Find People

I suspect that’s what makes people searching so hot. As many as half a million
times a month, somebody searches on Google alone, hunting for
a way to find a lost person. Whether it’s someone from the past with
whom we’ve lost touch, or somebody we met last weekend and
desire to see again, were always hunting for others.

Unluckily, many general searches fail. Just like Googling
failed for my sister-in-law. The information is out there, somewhere. But being
forced to sift through so many unrelated results makes it nearly
impossible.

By the way – majority of searchers don’t know this –
search engine results don’t really extend beyond about a thousand entries. Even
when the search engine results page says they found millions and millions of hits, they don’t
really bother to expose it and give you access to all of it. They’re
actually only estimating from their own database tables. Even they
understand it’s a waste of time.

When You Choose a Personal Search Service, Here’s What to Seek

If you choose to try out a personal search database, here are the things I’ve
found essential to mull over during a review

Free versus Paid

I’ve been dissatisfied by the free services. Their main concern
seems to be to try and get you to click on some of the pay-per-click ads
they’re presenting.

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Parish Records | Some Helpful Videos

I’ve seen some YouTube videos made by Find My Past (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate).  One of which has John Hanson from the Society of Genealogists talking about Parish Records. I heard him give a talk at the WDYTYA Live, at Olympia in February and really liked the content that he gave.  Some of which is repeated here in the first video.

I’ve also posted a second video that deals with more specialist databases on Find My Past.

If these interests you then take a look at my page on this blog called Useful Family History Videos.



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Vive La Différence! Revealed: Brits Love to Hate the French

Research reveals Brits think the French are arrogant, unhelpful and rude – but wouldn’t change a thing about them!

Research published to celebrate an archive of 16.3 million Parisian births, marriages and deaths launched online by Ancestry.co.uk in April 2010 (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.)

Records detail 200 years of French history

Three million Brits have French ancestry

In a world first, one of the UK’s top family history websites, Ancestry.co.uk has launched online 16.3 million historic French birth, marriage and death records – a collection of huge significance to the estimated three million Britons with French ancestry.

After Irish blood, French ancestry is the most common in the UK with 1 in 20 Brits having French ancestors, including TV presenters Davina McCall and Louis Theroux, comedian Noel Fielding and Harry Potter star Emma Watson and myself!Ancestry.co.uk

I found that my Scottish line surnamed Hay were actually descended from a Norman called De la Haye. I also have a grandfather, on my mother’s side, whose surname is Renaux and so is assumed to be from French stock.

Yet despite these close links with France, we’re unlikely to be donning berets on this side of the channel just yet. According to an online survey of 9,357 adults, conducted in October 2009 by Zoomerang research, and covering tourists from the UK, Germany, Canada, the USA and France, nearly half of Brits think Parisians are arrogant, aloof and unhelpful (45 per cent), whilst 41 per cent suspect Parisians avoided helping tourists by pretending not to speak English on their last visit to the city.

Other unappealing experiences include extortionate food and drink prices, appalling driving and excessive dog excrement on the streets.

Yet, this negative view doesn’t stop us from loving ‘belle Paris’ and in particular the French culture, with 7 in 10 visitors saying would recommend the city to a friend and a third (33 per cent) saying the rude behaviour of residents is all part of the experience.

This research has been released to celebrate the online launch of over 200 years of Parisian history in the Paris, France & Vicinity Vitals, 1700-1907 on Ancestry.co.uk, which features 16.3 million records of births, marriages and deaths from the dawn of the 18th century.

The collection contains in-depth information about the individuals featured; including their name, details of their spouse and parents, birth place, occupation, residence, age, details of marriage and date and place of death.

These ‘vital records’, so called because of their immense genealogical value, will provide the building blocks for Brits to discover their French roots, enabling them to trace the birth, marriage or death of an ancestor living in Paris and the capital’s vicinity, from the 18th to 20th centuries.

Among these historic Parisians are some of the city’s greatest artists and famous historical figures listed, including:

Edgar Degas – the French artist, regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, appears in the birth records on the 19th July 1834

Baron Gaspard Gourgaud – the burial of the Napoleonic general Gourgaud, who once saved the life of the emperor from a gunpowder plot, is listed on the 25th July 1852

Gustave Moreau – the birth of the Symbolist painter, known for his works depicting biblical and mythological figures, is recorded on the 6th April 1826

Many of these records were compiled by the prominent genealogist Maurice Coutot in 1924. He used parish church records to fill the void that was left by the destruction of all of the pre-1860 civil registration records for Paris, which were burnt in a fire during the French Revolution.

Ancestry.co.uk International Content Director Dan Jones comments: “Paris is an enchanting city with a rich history that Brits have been drawn to for centuries, so for many it will be a thrill to discover that they may have close ancestral ties to France.

“Making these Parisian records available will help many British people out there with French heritage trace their continental roots.”

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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MyHeritage.com Releases Innovative Technologies for Presenting Family Memories

Members of the family network can now enjoy an interactive Timeline and a digital Timebook created automatically from their family photos, videos and family tree content.
London, UK and Tel-Aviv, Israel (PRWEB) April 23, 2010 — MyHeritage.com, the company that connects families with their past and to one another, now offers two new technologies for families to celebrate their history.
The product innovations released today include an interactive Timeline and a unique digital photo album called Timebook. Both the MyHeritage.com Timeline and Timebook visually compile the entirety of any user’s family history chronologically, including life events, photos, videos and documents, and are generated automatically in a single click. MyHeritage.com users have collectively uploaded millions of family trees and media items, which can now be contextualized into these attractive Timelines and Timebooks, offering new insights for families as they trace their historical roots and connect online.

To read more see this link:

MyHeritage.com Releases Innovative Technologies for Presenting Family Memories

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My Family Tree is Powered by Others Descended From Common Ancestors

One of the great things about this Family Tree thing is being contacted by others who are descended from common ancestors.

Once I published my first website www.nicholasthorne.info I started to get hits from all over and some of them were ‘cousins’ many times removed who were independently researching our forebears.

From my Devon ancestors I exchanged photographs of Captain Henry Thomas Thorne and got to read a typescript of a newspaper article.

From my Scottish ones I have had emails that disputed some of the lines and others that were supportive of the research. But the most fun were the ones that, with a proviso that the further back we went that some error may have crept in, seem to show that we were descended from various European royals and back to Adam and Eve!

Recently I have had pedigrees and photographs of Castles in the Hay Clan all of which is thrilling for somone who lives modestly in a cottage by the sea!

To anyone who is just thinking about setting out on this journey I would echo what Mark Herber in his book ‘Ancestral Trails’ says, don’t be put off by the fact that you think your family may be modest, you just never know what you are going to find.

Mark Herber’s book is available from all good bookshops: http://www.jerseybookshop.co.uk/promotions.htm

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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