Happy St David’s Day to my Welsh friends

 

Welsh Flag

 

A Happy St David’s day to all my Welsh friends and readers of this blog.

While many of the records for doing Welsh family history are the same as those for neighbouring England, there are some differences when it comes to researching in Wales, or Cymru as it is known in its own language.

For those of us used to finding our family records in the County Record Offices in England will discover that much is the same in Wales. Researchers will find that records of registration of births, deaths and marriages are exactly the same in Wales as in England, and that the Registrar General’s indexes cover both England and Wales.

The census is the same, except for an extra question from 1891 when all those aged 3 and over were asked whether they spoke English only, Welsh only, or both languages.

Anglican parish records are the same as those for England, and are kept in local authority archives in the same way.

Some of the differences, however, that can cause us to stumble are Common names, the favouring of Patronymics, the Welsh language, and that many families were not members of the Established Church.

Nonconformity, being more important in Wales than in some parts of England, may mean that you find that your ancestors didn’t go to the local parish church. In many chapels the language used was Welsh, and some of the records may also be in Welsh.

Because the country has its own language English speakers may find the place names to be unfamiliar to them.

Another difference, from the English system, is that in England the County Record Offices are (in most cases) the diocesan record offices and therefore hold all the records of the diocese, such as Wills, bishop’s transcripts and marriage bonds and licences, as well as parish records. In Wales, the National Library of Wales is the diocesan record office for the whole of Wales, and therefore holds all the bishop’s transcripts, marriage bonds and licences, and Wills proved in Welsh church courts.

The National Library of Wales or Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru is very important for our research as it acts as the main repository for family history research in Wales holding a vast number of records useful to the family historian – census returns, probate records, nonconformist records and tithe maps, to name but a few, will help at some point during research.

Learn more about English and Welsh family history resources to use to find elusive ancestors with the Family History Researcher Course,

————————

 

 

Learn more about English and Welsh family history resources which can be used to find your elusive ancestors with the Family History Researcher Course,

CLICK the image below:

Family History Researcher English/Welsh course

 

Send to Kindle

Wolf Hall and family history

Thomas Cromwell

You may have been watching the BBC’s dramatization of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” on television. The lead character in the book and television series, is Thomas Cromwell a man born into a working class family who rises to be the right hand man of Cardinal Wolsey, at one time King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor. Cromwell managed to survive the fall from grace of Wolsey and went on to become the King’s Chief Minister until his own downfall.

The connection between this man and we family historians, with ancestors in England and Wales, is that Thomas Cromwell is responsible for the fact that we are able to trace many of our ancestors back in the documents created by the parish churches across the land.

The Parish registers for baptisms, marriages and burials, were first introduced into the Church of England in 1538 by Cromwell as Henry VIII’s Vicar General and Vice regent, a position that gave him power to supervise the church.

Cromwell required that every parish church was to acquire a sure coffer (that is, a parish chest) within which their records could be securely stored. While the parish chest was not a new idea, they could have been found in churches up and down the land all the way back to medieval times, what was new, in Tudor times, was the notion that Cromwell dictated that accurate records were to be kept and the responsibility to do so was placed on the parish officials to keep these records safe.

The parish chest were often no more than a hollowed out tree trunk that was secured with three locks. The keys were to be kept by the Bishop, the Priest and by a religious layman.

By the mid-1500’s the parishioners in every parish of the land were instructed by law to provide a strong chest with a hole in the upper part thereof, and having three keys, for holding the alms for the poor. Another chest may have been used to keep safe the church’s plate and this or the first chest would also double up as a place where the parish registers and other parish documents could be kept safe. In some places only one chest would have sufficed for both purposes, while in other parishes two or more may have been used.

So the debt we owe to Thomas Cromwell is that he introduced parish registers, some of which have survived pests, fire and flood back through the generations and provide us today with names of ancestors stretching back generations.

If you want to know more about what documents to use to find your elusive ancestors then join the Family History Researcher Academy to learn where to look and what resources to use.

 

If you are new to English/Welsh family history research then I’ve got a FREE quick read tip sheet for you.

Fill in your email and name and I’ll send you this pdf called 6 Professional Genealogist’s Tips that is distilled from interviews done with several professional genealogists.

6 Professional Genealogist's tips

                 Enter your Name in the first box and

                 your email in the second box below:

 

Send to Kindle

Revist Your Family Tree Brick Walls!

Devon County Record Office
Devon County Record Office

This week I have been musing upon one of my to-do-lists! I am keen to get back a generation of Thorn’s from Devon, but as yet I do not have enough information to make the break through as to who were my 5x great-grandparents and when and where were my 3x great-grandparents, John and Sara, born?

As more and more datasets are released on the various online subscription sites, however, I periodically revisit this brick wall of mine.

 

John Thorn married Sarah Branton on the 12th January 1794 at Charles Church in Plymouth. The bride was of that parish and the groom was a “mariner” with no mention of which parish he was from. I have wondered if this meant that both bride and groom were of the same parish, or did the vicar simply omit to record where John Thorn sailed in from in a busy maritime city such as Plymouth. I have no evidence either way, all I know is that they married after banns had been called and in the Parish Register for Charles Plymouth in the year 1794 and their marriage entry is No: 60.

On the 28 September 1794, however, their first born son John Branton Thorn was baptised at St.Saviours Dartmouth (IGI C050791) which suggests that they moved to this Devon coastal town just after they got married. Was this a case of returning to the groom’s town to live? Or was it where his job took him?

Working back a generation I would now like to identify John’s baptism and then his parents marriage and baptisms. First I need to know John’s age as this information is not given in the marriage register. That is a typical state of affairs for an English Parish Register where very sparse amounts of detail are given. The exception is for the entries to be found in a Dade or Barrington style Church Records, which are named after the clergymen who tried to introduce more fulsome registers, having some success in Yorkshire for a period.

 

Back to the subject of  John and Sarah Thorn in Devon. By searching in the microfiche records of church registers for Dartmouth, at the Devon County Record Office at Moor Hall in Exeter, I have now discovered the burial of one Sarah Thorn of Townstal (the name given to the Parish of St Clement in Dartmouth and the mother church of St Saviours) on June the 21st in 1818 at the age of 50 in the St Saviours register for 1818, entry No:190.

I went back through the registers and the Bishop’s Transcripts for 1811 for Townstal and I then found one John Thorne buried on May the 19th 1811.

I also found a John Thorn buried in St Saviours in 1810 (page 19) who was born in 1769. Could any of these be my ancestors?

Looking at baptisms for any John Thorn around the time of 1768/9 or so I see that Find My Past has some Devon Church Records that can be usefully accessed on line. There is none for the date in question at Dartmouth, but one in Dorset may be a possibility.

My next thought is to check to see if I can find the banns book for Charles in Plymouth and also the one for Dartmouth to see if this provides me with any more clues about where John and Sarah came from and to also check now for baptisms using the microfiche at the County Record office in Exeter.

 

It is a good idea that you periodically revisit any brick walls that you have as new data may have become available and your skills in family history may have improved since the last time you dusted off the problem. In the next few weeks I am planning a visit the County Record Office to see if I am able to push my tree back another generation.

Watch this space!

 

The family history websites that I find really useful are Find My Past and The Genealogist.co.uk. To take your family history further I recommend that you to consider a subscription to these websites. Take a look now and see what great data sets they have to offer

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 


Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

Send to Kindle

Find Ancestors in Old Newspapers!

British Newspaper Archive

It looks like it has been a pretty busy month for The British Newspaper Archive website. They have introduced lots of new titles to expand their database and have also broadened the year ranges of their existing titles. The website is a wonderful source for family tree research to flesh out the story of your ancestors.

So even if you have used The British Newspaper Archive website in the past, you may still want to re-vist them to see if you can track down your ancestors in the extra pages and titles that have been recently added.

To check which new titles and issues have been added to the site in the past 30 days you only need to visit the ‘Newspaper Titles’ page at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk !

Here are a few of the many new titles and issues that have just been added to the site.

New Title – ‘The Staffordshire Advertiser’
The latest newspaper to be added to the website for the Midlands is ‘The Staffordshire Advertiser’, from 1801 to 1839. While I haven’t found any of my ancestors came from this region I have found adverts placed by some of my forebears who were in business in many regional titles. This paper was established by Joshua Drewry (c.1773-1841) in Stafford in 1795, the paper went on to become the main county newspaper for Staffordshire.

New Title – ‘The Shoreditch Observer’
For those of us with ancestors that went up to the London area, the addition of ‘The Shoreditch Observer’ for 1863 to the website is to be welcomed. It rejoiced in the strapline of: ‘A journal of local intelligence for Bishopsgate, St. Luke, Hackney, Kingsland, Bethnal-Green, and the Tower Hamlets’, ‘The Shoreditch Observer’ contains an excellent round-up of local news, adverts and notices so worth a trawl.

New Issues – ‘The Western Gazette’ (1950)
With some of my family tree being in the west of England this latest addition to the website now meas that I can search the ‘The Western Gazette’ from 1863 right through to 1950 for family members. If, like me, you’re carrying out historical research in any of Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Berkshire, then this weekly newspaper will certainly help you with your searches.

New Issues – ‘The Evening Telegraph’ of Dundee (1904)
I have some Scots roots as well and so I am pleased to see that north of the border is not being left out. Still in publication, The Evening Telegraph is affectionately known by Dundonians as ‘The Tully’. With the addition of the 1904 issues, it’s now possible to read this Dundee institution from 1877 to 1904.

 

We have just had the Olympic torch go by today where I live. With a little bit of history being made makes me think about the games in years gone by. The Archive contains a terrific collection of stories about past Olympics, spanning the years 1894 to 1948.

Why ‘1894’?

Because there are also dozens of stories about the planning for the first Modern Games in 1896. From the lost luggage (and wine!) of the French Team in 1948 to worries about the Greek government’s finances for the 1896 Games – all Olympian life is there to be found.

What ever it is that you are researching, why not look at what can be found in The British Newspaper Archive website. Take a look today!

The British Newspaper Archive is a partner of the British Library and set up to digitise their collection of over 300 years of newspapers. Now accessible to the public, with market leading search functionality, it offers access to over 4 million pages of historical newspapers. A great source for hobby historians, students, reporters and editors – what will you discover?




Disclosure:Compensated Affiliate Links used above

Send to Kindle

More Questions than Answers when researching the Family Tree!

Do you ever feel that there are more questions than answers, when researching your family tree?

It seems to me that the more answers we seek, to questions about our ancestors, often trigger more queries about them. This is a bit how I feel this weekend, after I’ve returned home from a visit to Devon this week.

I called in at the Devon Family History Society’s “Tree House” in Exeter where I was able to spend a profitable few hours reading the files that they have on families with the surnames I am researching. I was also able to look at what they had on the parishes I was interested in, so giving me some added background to the places where my ancestors lived and worshiped. I came away with a set of useful printouts, for 30 pence each, from a search of their database for records of the persons I was seeking information on. This would save me much time at my next stop, the Devon County Record Offices in Exeter when looking in the parish register microfiches.

 

Devon County Record Office
Devon County Record Office

I have visited the County Record offices before and had find it was easy to go off on side tracks, so this time I had come prepared with a set of answers that I was seeking from the records held there.  As always, however, simply by searching the documents and the microfiche of baptisms, weddings and burials, together with the microfilms of Bishop’s Transcripts gave me new lines of inquiries to make. In the course of looking for one ancestor I would spot instances of the family names cropping up in the documents and make a note of the details on my pad of paper.

While I was looking at parish records, for Dartmouth’s three C of E churches, in the hope of finding the burial of one ancestor, then I came across burials of the children of another. I saw a rapid succession of children of my three times great grandparents being baptized and buried by the established church and I wondered if this may explain why the next six are all baptized in the Presbyterian chapel in the town. But this doesn’t explain why one child, who died in 1827 aged 4 years old, is buried by the Church of England in January of that year, while his brother was christened by the minister of the Flavel Presbyterian Church in April 1826, in the year before the death of the first. From a search of BMDregisters.co.uk I have found that all further siblings are christened in that nonconformist church.

While at the Devon County Record Office I was able to examine the books deposited from that Presbyterian church, but could find no mention of my ancestors remaining members in this chapel in later years. The books, that I was able to see, did not go back as far as the time of the christenings in my family, but they did contain lists of members of the church which could be very useful to others researching Presbyterian forebears in Dartmouth.

One of the questions that I had wanted to answer, from my visit to the County Record Office, was did my four time great grandparents stay in Dartmouth? They can not be found in the 1841 census. Now that, I assumed, was because they had died before it was taken. I did indeed find, by working back in years through the burial registers of the parish church, the entry for a likely pair of candidates with the right names and ages that would have made them 25 and 26 on their wedding date in 1794. Yes, this is only supposition that I have found the right Thorn’s in Dartmouth as rather frustratingly there are others with the same Christian and surname as my male ancestor in the town. But these two are the closest matches for the facts that I have.

So the lesson is to embrace the discovery of the new questions, that will need answers to in due course. Yes, I went to Devon seeking the answer to one thing and came away with semi-answers and more family history questions to explore. But this is a good thing as it gives me more avenues to research and more information to seek out. It may seem like the jigsaw puzzle is becoming more complicated, as more pieces are being placed on the table in front of me, but in the end a better picture is emerging of my family history. And for that I am excited!

The Mouth of the River Dart.
The Mouth of the River Dart.

Take your family history further by considering a subscription to these websites:

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online



Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

Send to Kindle

Researching Scottish and Irish Ancestors

 

I’ve notice in my post bag a few of my correspondents asking for help with Scottish and Irish Ancestor research. For some it would seem that all the advice is very English centric and so today I thought I’d write a short piece for those beginning to look in Scotland and Ireland.

Scotland, in comparison to England, can be a simpler place to look for vital records because of the long established Scotlandspeople website that allows us to browse for records for free and then download the image on a pay as you go basis. You can, therefore, get access to not only the Scottish census records, but also Scottish wills, birth certificates and death certificates.

The Statutory Index, on this site, has entries from the indexes to the civil registers of births, deaths and marriages for all of Scotland, as far back as 1855 up until 2009.

The Old Parish Register Index, on the other hand, contains the entries of births & baptisms, banns & marriages and deaths/burials from the church  registers of some 900 parishes of the Church of Scotland from between 1553  and up to 1854.

The Census Indexes are name indexes to the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901and 1911 censuses for all of Scotland. You will be able to find that each index entry will list the surname, forename, sex, age, registration district and county of the people of this part of the U.K. while the 1881 census index entries additionally contain the address.

The wills and testaments index, that can also be accessed here, contain over 611,000 index entries to Scottish wills and testaments dating from 1513 to 1901. Each index entry lists the surname, forename, title, occupation and place of residence (at least where they have been given) of the deceased person, with the additional information of the court in which the testament was recorded, along with the date.

The Coats of Arms Index, is another database on the Scotlandspeople website and this contains entries from the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland from 1672 to 1907. Each index entry lists the full name, date on which the arms were granted, and the volume and page number in the register.

A point to remember, when researching in Scottish old parish records, is that the Established Church north of the border is the Church of Scotland. As a Presbyterian denomination they do not have Bishops and hence, unlike in England, there are no Bishop’s transcripts to act as a back up should you not find the record you are looking for in the parish register.

Kirk Session Records are the equilavent of the Parish Vestry records south of the border and these are all digitised and made available in Scotland at county record offices with the plan to have them online in the future at Scotlandspeople.

Scottish marriages can be of interest to English families whose ancestors ran away to partake in an irregular border marriage when Lord Hardwicks Marriage Act of 1753 compelled English marriages to be in Church of England churches unless it was a Quaker or Jewish marriage. In Scotland a couple could declare themselves to be married and to find a pdf on the extent of irregular marriages and where the current location of the records are, visit www.gro-scotland.gov.uk.

 

For Irish ancestors www.rootsireland.ie is a good place to start your research, while www.irishgenealogy.ie has coverage of other counties.

It is often said that Irish Family Tree research is very difficult and time-consuming and one of the main reasons is that there are a lack of records. One major missing plank is the lack of any complete Census records before 1901.

For this reason any records that have data within them which had been taken from the Irish Census are obviously of vital importance in Irish ancestral research.  One such source of this data is the Old Age Pension Claim Forms held in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (P.R.O.N.I). These give researchers absolutely essential information from the 1841 & 1851 censuses for Northern Ireland & Co. Donegal. Similar records are held by the National Archives in Dublin. These here are referred to as Census Search Forms and they contain the same essential information as the Northern Irish ones but cover the whole of Ireland, including some additional records for Northern Ireland

Researchers from www.ireland-genealogy.com have spent two decades transcribing these hand-written pension claim/census search forms. In some cases they are difficult to read and are in no particular order while the records held by P.R.O.N.I. are not indexed.

Their database allows a researcher online to search these records easily and so will save you both time and money. All you need to do is enter the surname you are researching and from the list provided decide which records you think relate to your family and then just click the order button.

As they point out on their site, these  records were hand written, and so in many cases the handwriting is very difficult to decipher; this coupled with the fact that much if it was written in pencil resulting in some words or letters having faded before the transfer to microfilm, has made the job of transcribing particularly difficult. Ireland-Genealogy.com  have not corrected spelling mistakes nor have their transcribers tried to amend anything that may not make sense. They have simply transcribed all of the information contained on each form. When they were in any doubt about whether or not they were reading a particularly untidy or faded record correctly they have put a question mark. A question mark has also been used when it was impossible to read.

Findmypast.ie

Recently we have had the very welcome addition of Findmypast.ie to the family history fold. This site collects together birth, marriage and death records and so features details of over 400,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials from Ireland covering the whole island of Ireland and include over 150,000 newspaper obituaries and four indexes to wills, dating back as far as the 13th century. Many of these records are particularly interesting as they include more than just names, they also feature addresses and occupations. Vital records often make the best starting point for researching your Irish family history.

At findmypast.ie they have almost 150,000 names in census substitutes to help you fill in those missing gaps from the destruction of the census. You’ll find fragments dating from 1749 to 1901, as well as 19th century electoral registers. Anyone researching their 19th century Dublin ancestors will find a wealth of information in the 1851 Dublin City Census, which includes names and address of approximately 59,000 heads of households. We can also access the 1749 Census of Elphin, which lists all households, names of household heads, their addresses, occupations, numbers of children, adults and servants, by age and religious denomination – a remarkable document for such an early date. The Dublin City Census 1901: Rotunda Ward details 13,556 people residing in 1,334 properties across a 67-street space of the Rotunda Ward area of the city.

There are many other data sets including Land and Estate, Court and Legal, Military and Rebellion, Travel and Migration along with Directories dating back to 1814.

Take a look at this great website now by clicking the image below. (This is a compensated affiliate link.)



Send to Kindle

How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History

Many of us have a desire to know more about the generations that preceded us and about our roots. We may have become fascinated about where our family originated from; what it was that they did for a living and in what conditions they lived. If your forebears came from England & Wales, then you will want to know what records you can access and where to look for them.

I am Nick Thorne, The Nosey Genealogist, and I have just published an amazon Kindle book called: How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History. In it I lead the reader through some of the research work that you will probably need to undertake to pursue these goals. Assuming that you have a yearning to find out more about your British roots, this is a concise introduction to English & Welsh family history which can help you in your quest.

I include a look at online and offline records,starting with the census collections and the civil registration data. Different types of Parish Records are dealt with in one chapter including the Dade and Barrington registers. If your ancestor is missing from the church records, then I explain where to find the Bishop’s transcripts and what these copies are.

Baptismal, marriage and burial records are not the only records that were locked away in the Parish Chest and so I look at some of the other documents that may have survived.

Researching records of a marriage and what a Clandestine marriage was are included in this short book as is an explanation of why your ancestor may have had a double baptism. Nonconformist, those of a Christian denomination other than the Church of England, and parish graves are investigated, as is researching records of a marriage, illegitimacy and stumbling blocks in the parish records.

If you don’t have a Kindle then you can download Kindle for PC from amazon and read Kindle books directly on your PC!

If you want a concise book on English an Welsh Family history then click the button to Buy from Amazon in the box below.

Send to Kindle

Administrations in England & Wales up to 1858

If one of your ancestors, in your family tree, died without making a will, then their next-of-kin could apply
to the church courts for Letters of Administration to be granted to them. What would happen is that they
would then be bound in law by entering into a bond to administer the goods of the deceased. As well as family it is sometimes possible to find that a creditor is granted the letters of administration, but in all cases they are referred to as an Administrator, if they are male, whilst a female is known as an Administratrix.

A will and testament from the 19th century
A Will from the 19th century, online

You may well notice that administrations, or sometimes admons,are generally less informative for the family historian than wills are. That said, however, If you have found that one of your ancestors left no will, but their effects were dealt with by and administration, then at least the document will include: the name of the administrator(s) and bondsman, as well as the the relationship of the administrator(s) to the deceased. This could indeed be valuable to someone tracing their family tree. In addition to which, the administration may often include a date of death and the value of the deceased’s estate, that could help you fill in some gaps.

As in the case of wills, until 1858 it fell to the church courts  to be responsible for granting administrations. So for that reason you will need to use the same system to find administrations as you would do for finding wills of the same period. The main point to remember was that it is the same two provinces – the Prerogative Courts of York and of Canterbury – each controlled by an archbishop, that England was divided into.

A subdivision then occurs into several archdeaconries, and then further divisions again into rural deaneries. What all this means to the researcher is that there are over 250 church courts who were responsible in some way for the granting of letters of administration.

So where do we make a start? One answer is to take a look at the A2A website (Access 2 Archives) on the National Archives website:
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a

It is a fantastic database covering a myriad of records from over 400 record offices across not just England, but the whole of the UK.  Some of their records go back as far as the eighth century, while some come right up to date.

It is possible to search it by name, or a place and also by a topic and while it may not cover every single record office, by the very nature of its substantial coverage it can be used to search for probate material by using the key words ‘wills, administrations or inventories’ plus the region of the country that your ancestor died within.

Send to Kindle