New Passenger lists now online with unique search facilities

Departure of the RMS Campania from Liverpool

RMS Campania, one of the ships included in the passenger lists.

This is an interesting press release from TheGenealogist

TheGenealogist has just released five million Emigration BT27 records as part of their growing immigration and emigration record set. Uniquely TheGenealogist allows you to track transmigration of people across countries routing through British ports on their way to America. TheGenealogist is the only website with the facility to discover families travelling together on the same voyage using our SmartSearch technology.

The new records contain the historical records of passengers who departed by sea from Britain in the years between 1896 and 1909. These new records significantly boosts the already strong Immigration, Emigration, Naturalisation and passenger list resources on TheGenealogist.

TheGenealogist has further revealed that these records will be shortly followed by the release of many more unique migration records.

The searchable records released today will allow researchers to

  • Find people using British shipping lines and travelling to places such as America, Canada, India, New Zealand and Australia in the Passenger lists of people leaving from, or passing through the United Kingdom, by sea which were kept by the Board of Trade’s Commercial and Statistical Department and its successors.

  • The Homestead Act of 1862 in America gave free land to settlers who developed it for at least five years, and became a particular magnet for Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes, who arrived in their millions. To reach America, it was necessary to travel initially to England in order to then board one of the large transatlantic passenger ships and this preliminary journey has been recorded for many transmigrant passengers within the BT27 records. For the first time these can be easily found using the unique transmigration button.

  • SmartSearch identifies potential family members travelling together. When our system recognises groups of people on the same voyage as a potential family it displays a family icon. This then allows you to easily view the family.Family SmartSearch

  • These fully indexed records enable family historians to search by name, port of embarkation, port of destination, country of departure, country arrival and nationality.

This release adds to TheGenealogist’s Immigration and Emigration records that already include the useful Naturalisation and Denization records.

Those with ancestors who travelled out of Britain will welcome this fascinating new release from TheGenealogist that reveal the details of the coming and going of passengers and is a precursor of a set of unique records joining the collection shortly.

Nigel Bayley, MD of TheGenealogist said: “We intend to make researching migrating ancestors easier with our new smarter interfaces and adding more records covering a growing range of countries.”

An example from the passenger list records:

Within the passenger lists, on TheGenealogist, we can find the passage of the Dunottar Castle from Southampton to Cape Town in South Africa on the 14th October 1899. One of the passengers was the young Winston Churchill who, at that time, was a member of the Press and was going out to report on the start of the Second Boer War.

Two days before his ship’s departure the war had broken out between Britain and the Boer Republic. At the news of this conflict Mr Churchill had obtained a commission to act as a war correspondent for The Morning Post newspaper. In return he was to be paid £250 a month for his services.

After spending a number of weeks in the Colony he managed to get himself onto an armoured train, loaded with British soldiers, performing a reconnoitre between Frere and Chieveley in the British Natal Colony during November 1899. A Boer commando force, however, had placed a big boulder on the track and the train crashed into it. The Boers, having succeeded in stopping the train, then opened up with their field guns and rifle fire from a vantage position.

After a fight a number of the British were taken prisoner, but the locomotive, decoupled from the carriages and ladened with men, managed to escape. Churchill, unfortunately for him, was not one of those on-board the loco. Without his sidearm, which he had left on the train, he had no option but to surrender to the Boers. Churchill was then imprisoned in a POW camp in Pretoria. After being held captive for about four weeks Churchill escaped on the evening of 12th December 1899. He did this by vaulting over the wall to the neighbouring property and taking flight.

Chuchill in Passenger Lists on TheGenealogist

If we look at Churchill’s travelling companions on the ship out to Cape Town, scheduled to take 65 days, we can see that he was sailing with a mixture of merchants, a jeweller, an actor, a Peer of the Realm (Lord Gerard), an optician and a couple of lawyers. The Hon A. Campbell was also listed, he was another member of the press corps who had made it on to that particular Castle Line sailing to the war zone with Churchill.

I like the unique search facilities for these records which makes this release fascinating.

Take a look at TheGenealogist now.

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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First World War Medal Records go online

TG War
 
Following on from my blog post last Sunday, I have just heard from TheGenealogist to tell me about another set of First World War records.
 
Press Release
For immediate release:
 
Newly released for the first time are First World War Medal Records that crossed the great social class divide.
Over 117,000 ‘Military Medals’ were awarded in the First World War for ‘acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire’. These records are now available to view online complete with an image of the actual Medal Card and a link to the official government publication of the time. It’s a unique, comprehensive set of records available only on TheGenealogist.co.uk
 
The Military Medal was awarded to ‘Non Commissioned Officers and Ordinary Ranks’ and covers exceptional courage as a soldier in battle. It also was awarded for those that risked their lives trying to save others, often in extreme danger. The Medal Records on TheGenealogist show people from a wide range of backgrounds and social classes, including a number of young women from very privileged families who chose to drive ambulances and rescue the wounded in the mud of battle.
 
The role of ‘stretcher bearer’ was one of the most dangerous jobs of the time and surprisingly, the records show many women bridged social constraints of the time to risk life and limb to help rescue and bring in soldiers wounded in battle.
 
Details now available on TheGenealogist range from the most highly decorated Military Medal recipient, stretcher bearer Private Ernest Corey of the 55th Australian Infantry, to Lady Dorothie May Evelyn Feilding-Moore, the daughter of the Earl of Denbigh (the first female recipient of the Medal), to Mairi Lambert Gooden-Chisholm who rescued a German pilot from no-man’s land. Both men and women, crossing the social divide and class customs of pre-1914 to demonstrate outstanding bravery.
 
The new Military Medal records provide:
Full details of the person winning the medal – their rank, regiment, date of medal citation and the details of their heroism in battle
Sophisticated search techniques to find the medal recipient with just one mouse click. A further addition to the comprehensive medal and First World War records now available on TheGenealogist.co.uk
 
Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content comments: “With our military record releases in 2014, we are aiming to cover all aspects of The First World War. Every new record set unearths surprises and the Military Medal collection is no different as we discover the female front line heroes listed alongside those who fought to protect our freedom. These unique records consistently provide fascinating tales behind them.”
 
More details on the records of the First World War ‘Military Medals’ can be found at www.TheGenealogist.co.uk/military-medal
 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Poets, Crime Writers, Soldiers, Sailors and Explorers – the lives and deaths of historic Devonians revealed online

 

Charles Babbage - Baptism
Charles Babbage – Baptism from Findmypast

MILLONS OF NEW DEVON BAPTISM, MARRIAGE AND BURIAL RECORDS PUBLISHED ONLINE

RECORDS REVEAL OVER 375 YEARS OF DEVONSHIRE HISTORY

 

 

 

 

As someone with a paternal line that is almost all from Devon I am really pleased to see that findmypast.co.uk has published online for the first time parish records in partnership with Devon Heritage Services, as the latest instalment of their 100in100 promise to launch 100 record sets in 100 days.

Spanning 1538 to 1915, the Devon Collection is a rich source comprising over 4 million fully searchable transcripts and scanned colour images of the handwritten parish registers held by the record offices in Barnstaple and Exeter. With Plymouth and West Devon Record Office’s records already available on findmypast, these new additions mean that findmypast’s Devon Collection is the best possible place to find Devonshire ancestors.

The baptism, marriage and burial records of many notable Devonians are stored within the collection. The baptism of literary icon Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ and founder of the Romantic Movement, can be viewed in records from the parish of Ottery St Mary.

Bad boy satirist John Gay, member of the Scriblerus club and author of ‘The Beggars Opera’, was born in Barnstaple in 1685 and records of his baptism in 1686 can be found from the Parish of Black Torrington.

Crime writer Agatha Christie’s baptism record appears in the parish register of Tormohun in 1890 under her maiden name Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller.

Legendary explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who was famous for completing the Hajj to Mecca disguised as a pilgrim, translating the Karma Sutra into English and becoming the first European to visit the great lakes of Africa amongst other exploits, was born in Torquay in 1821 and is recorded in the collection.

The records also include the polymath Charles Babbage, who is widely considered to be the father of the computer. Records of his 1814 marriage were kept by the parish of East Teignmouth.

Sir John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and ancestor of Winston Churchill was born in the parish of Musbury at the height of the Civil War. He was a legendary soldier who revolutionised the British army in the late 17th century and was, for a time, one of the richest men in England. Details of his baptism can also be viewed in the archives.

VC winner and hero of the Zulu wars, Sir Redvers Henry Buller, is yet another famous military man from the county. Sir Redvers was widely celebrated before his disastrous leadership during the Second Boer War saw him sacked by the Minister for War, St. John Brodrick. He was born in Crediton in 1839 and died there in 1908, with both events being recorded by the parish.

Devon is one of the largest counties and therefore highly significant for family historians. As Maureen Selley, Chairman of Devon Family History Society www.devonfhs.org.uk, whose records are also available on findmypast, put it; “We all have Devonshire ancestors, it’s just that some of us haven’t found them yet.” Findmypast’s existing Devon records are already the most popular parish record set on the website.

The records are also of international significance as many historic Devonians emigrated to Canada, the US and Australia to work in the booming mining, fishing and agricultural industries. Devon’s position on the west coast meant that it was often used as a jumping off point for those headed to the United Sates. The Mayflower, the ship that carried the first pilgrims across the Atlantic, departed from Plymouth and the Devon Collection houses records that predate this famous voyage. These new records will help people from all over the world to trace their ancestral roots back to the county.

The Devon Collection adds to findmypast’s already extensive cache of parish records, the largest available online. These records allow family historians to go as far back as the 1500s, and with more parish records still to come as part of the 100in100 promise, family historians can now explore their more distant roots more easily than ever before.

You can view these exciting new records here: http://100in100.findmypast.co.uk/.

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “The Devon Collection is one of the largest regional parish record collections available anywhere online and contains some truly wonderful gems. This is the first time that parish records for the whole county have been available to search in one place, enabling people all around the world to discover fascinating details of Devonshire ancestors they didn’t know they had in this historical goldmine.”

Tim Wormleighton, of Devon Heritage Services said: “ We are delighted that, after a lengthy process of preparation involving a lot of hard work by a large team, people will now be able to access high quality images of the majority of Devon’s parish register entries online for the first time ever through findmypast”.

To learn more about the records visit www.findmypast.co.uk. For further information about Devon Heritage Service call 01392 384 253, email devrec@devon.gov.uk, or visit the website http://www.devon.gov.uk/record_office.htm



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More than 13 million records launched today on findmypast.com

Some news that dropped into my inbox today…

DC Thomson Family History and FamilySearch.org to make billions of records available for people to search

More than 13 million records launched today on findmypast.com

LONDON, England and SALT LAKE CITY, Utah–Annelies van den Belt, the new CEO of DC Thomson Family History, the British-based leader in online family history and owner of findmypast and Genes Reunited, has announced a major new partnership with US-based FamilySearch.org that will give family history enthusiasts access to billions of records online and new technology to collaboratively research their family roots.

DC Thomson Family History, formerly known as brightsolid online publishing, is collaborating with FamilySearch, which has the largest collections of genealogical and historical records in the world, to deliver a wide range of projects including digital preservation, records search, technological development and the means to allow family historians to share their discoveries.

More than 13 million records from FamilySearch.org launched today on findmypast, including major collections of births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia, and Ireland. Around 600 additional collections, containing millions of records, will follow.

The two organisations have a long history of working together on historical projects, including indexing 132 million records of the 1940 US census and two hundred years of British Army Service Records (Chelsea Pensioners) in a joint digitisation project with The National Archives.

Van den Belt said: “This is fantastic news for our customers all over the world. As a leader in online family history we will be able to offer access to a much wider variety of records dating back hundreds of years and the first batch are ready to search on findmypast. The convenience of searching many treasures from FamilySearch.org along with our own extensive collections will provide rich new insights for our customers.

“This partnership with FamilySearch will accelerate the momentum of our next phase of global growth into new non-English-speaking markets and give more people more access to more records to uncover their family history. This really cements our position as a market leader. ”

“We are excited to work with DC Thomson Family History on a vision we both share,” said Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch. “Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family’s history.”

DC Thomson Family History is the British-based leader in online family history, which operates major online sites including findmypast, Genes Reunited and the British Newspaper Archive. It launched in America last year with its findmypast brand.

DC Thomson Family History has a strong record of partnerships with non-profit and public sector organisations such as the British Library and The National Archives among many other major archives and organisations around the world.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

Search Now Click This Box.
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The Family History Researcher and Harold P Matthews

Last week I wrote about how a family story had sent me off looking for my great-uncle Harold who served in the RAF during the Second World War and rising from Warrant Officer to Wing Commander in the Technical Branch.

One of my kind readers suggested a lead after they had done a Google search for H.P.Matthews that threw up a person of this name working for the Australian Department of Supply in a document referring to the Blue Streak Missile project. I had also come across something similar in Google Books and so was likewise wondering if there was a connection to Australia.

I set to work doing a trawl of Google search results and found a copy of an article in a 1959 copy of Flight Magazine with a picture of the Australian Government London Representative of the Department of Supply Mr H P Matthews.

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1959/1959%20-%202503.html

Regretfully I came to the conclusion that it didn’t look to me to be the same man. You see I have a picture of my Great-Uncle in my baby photo album! He and my great-aunt Winnie came to visit me in the late 1950’s (I was born in the summer of 1958) and there is one of them with me as a baby.

A further search of Google books have thrown up some snippet views of books that have Wg. Cdr H P Matthews appointed as the managing director of Zwicky Ltd in 1958. This company was a filters, pumps, airport ground equipment, pressure control valves, and hydraulic equipment manufacturer of Slough and Harold Matthews was also the MD of SkyHi Ltd. a hydraulic jack manufacturers also of Slough and possibly related to the first company.

 

I did a search on the website www.forces-war-records.co.uk and here I could see that H.P.Matthews was awarded the MBE, OBE and BEM, 1939-1945 War Medal, 1939-1945 Star and was Mentioned in Despatches, but not a lot else.

I am still at the beginning of cracking this family story and it is a major regret that I didn’t know Uncle Harold better. It would seem he was some sort of an aviation engineer, but I still don’t know what he did in the war that got him such promotion and honours!

http://www.apimages.com/oneup.aspx?rids=b122ed18743d49238762fd28fd2f913b

 

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More Data Released by TheGenealogist.co.uk

I like to keep you informed about new releases in the British Isles family history niche and so today I was looking to see what was new at TheGenealogist.co.uk.

Of interest to me was the fact that they have added over 3,000 individuals to their Parish Transcripts for Devon, expanding their coverage and bringing the total to over 66,000 individuals. The date ranges are different for baptisms, marriages and burials and are:

Baptisms: 1594 – 1944
Marriages: 1538 – 2009
Burials: 1593 – 2009

For those of you researching other parts of the UK, I also noticed that they have recently released hundreds of thousands of other parish record transcripts, for several counties of England, which has got to be good for those of us trying to get back before 1837 in England & Wales.

While for family historians, who are looking to do some research in the opposite direction and trying to find ancestors later than the 1901 census, TheGenealogist.co.uk has now launched the first county of the 1911 Census on their site. They say that their colour images are of a higher quality and higher resolution than those that have been available online before, so this could be interesting when looking at the handwriting of our actual ancestors.

In a recent news update, that I had from them, I see that they are now also making available pre-1841 census records and various Scottish Census records for 1851. The pre-1841 census in question is for Marylebone in London for both 1821 & 1831. The details only include the surname of the head of household and street name, unlike the later census. None the less, this could be of great help to some researchers trying to find their ancestors. To search these new records, simply go to TheGenealogist.co.uk, log in and select the London census from the research view and then change the year to 1821 or 1831. (Disclosure: I am a Compensated Affiliate of The Genealogist.co.uk)

Yet another data set, announced by the site, is the release of the Australian transportation records. These records take the form of transcripts, but with access to images of The Convict Transportation Registers 1787-1867. Covering details of over 123,000 of the estimated 160,000 convicts who were transported to Australia during the 18th and 19th centuries, the records mainly include those convicted in England, Wales and Scotland, but also include a small number of Irish convicts.

The database also includes soldiers who had been court-martialed and sentenced to transportation. These ‘soldier convicts’ may have been convicted in various British colonies, including the West Indies, Canada, India, and Pakistan. You’ll find these records in the British & International section of The Genealogist.co.uk’s research view.

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Researching family in Jersey, part 1: where to start

An Old Jersey House

You’ve traced an ancestor to Jersey, and you are wondering what you can find out about them. To your frustration, you rapidly discover that birth marriage and death records for Jersey are not available online. So what can you do?

Well, there are at least some useful Internet resources out there to help you get started. The most obvious one is the Census: Channel Island censuses from 1841 to 1901 are available both through Ancestry and Findmypast, and the 1911 census is on FindMyPast and will soon be fully available on Ancestry too.

A word of caution, though: the transcription is not entirely reliable on either site, and on top of that, some database search engines have problems with “divided” surnames like Le Sueur or Du Feu (not to mention Le Vavasseur dit Durell). So here’s a shameless plug: if you are going to do a lot of searching of censuses, you could do worse than purchase the paper census indexes produced by the CIFHS. They are a lot more accurate (well over 99%), and can (with a bit of fiddling) be cross-referenced back to the census images on the Internet.

There are also military records. If you’re looking at Channel Island relatives who served in the First World War, it’s well worth investigating at greatwarci.net – this is the website of the Channel Island Great War Study Group, and they maintain a very comprehensive list of people who served. The list is rather more complete than Ancestry’s transcript of what’s in the National Archives simply because Jersey residents served not only with the British armed forces but also with the Canadians and Australians. There were also at least a couple of thousand French nationals who joined up with the French military, but records for them are very scanty. If you are looking at other periods (and bear in mind Jersey had a garrison to protect it from the French right up until the 1930s), you may find references to service in Jersey on the military records of Chelsea Pensioners kept on FindMyPast, or on the GRO Regimental Indexes of birth marriage and death.

There are other useful resources too on Ancestry. There are three Channel Island postal directories – covering 1839, 1903 and 1927 – that may help to link a name to an address.

You may also be fortunate enough to find online family trees. Ancestry host them, as do Genesreunited, and there are also numerous independently-produced web sites. The general rule of thumb is to treat these as a guideline: they may be inaccurate, or they may tell the truth as far the researcher knows it – but not the whole story.

Aside from this, there’s a couple of major Internet resources based in the Channel Islands that may help you with your research. More about them next time. À bétôt!

Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society


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