Soldiers Who Died in the First World War added to TheGenealogist
As the anniversary of the beginning of World War I took place recently many new databases have made it online to help us search for our brave ancestors. One such release is from TheGenealogist and is the Soldiers Who Died in this war.
This detailed record set covers over 650,000 individuals who died in the First World War. Details include name, rank, regiment, place of birth, place of residence, place of enlistment, service number and the cause, date and place of death. These records are uniquely linked to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to show you where your ancestor is commemorated.
Soldiers Who Died in the Great War has been added to the huge military collection on TheGenealogist, encompassing many unique record sets from Casualty Lists and War Memorials, to Rolls of Honour and more.
This site is family owned and seems to have a very friendly feel to it. At a time when others are being accused of not listening I have found that the team at TheGenealogist responded rapidly to any glitches I have had with the interface in the past. Indeed one such problem I had a few months back was fixed in minutes!
These knowledgeable interviewees include practising professional genealogists, with years and years of experience to offer.
Yet others are from the very highest levels of the online data provider companies, like Ancestry and TheGenealogist.
Listen to the download and learn some plain tips that will simplify the often confusing business of researching English/Welsh ancestors. I am going to give you access to these eight professionals so that you can use their advice to break down several brick walls that you may have.
3. The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) Member. What would the advice be from a professional genealogist practitioner?
Well as many serious professional genealogists belong to this association, I headed over to the AGRA stand and asked a member for his research tips. Points he brought up included the information on documents being only as good as that given by the informant and what to do about conflicting data. There is more to hear in the full interview that you can download here .
4. Families in British India Society (FIBIS) Expert. In family history we often have to think a bit outside the box. Well have you considered that your missing ancestor had moved abroad? With 3 million Brits having gone out to India then if we have a missing forbear it could certainly pay us to take a look at the records from this part of the British Empire. Its not just soldiers, the list of people who went out to work there is long as we hear from this FIBIS expert.
5. Celia Heritage – Professional Genealogist, Author and Family History Teacher introduces us to an often under used set of resources in her piece: Death Records. She explains how to use these records to flesh out the bones of our ancestors lives.
Celia is an excellent and knowledgeable speaker and you can just hear the passion that she has for her subject as she dispenses some gems of advice in the free downloadable audio presentation. Its not just death certificates that Celia brings to our attention in this part of the recording!
6. Dr Ian Galbraith – The National Wills Index explains about one of the best single major sources for family historians when I asked him to talk about Wills and Administrations for this audio.
Ian explains why wills can be an important resource with an average of 10 names per will and with half of them being different from that of the testator. Many people are surprised by the fact that all sorts of people left wills, but you won’t be when you have heard the full interview.
7. Brad Argent – Content Director for Ancestry advises family historians to drill down for the information in the online databases in his contribution to the recording. Brad suggests we use the card catalogue to seek out data sets and then use the advance search facility of “exact”, “soundex” and “wildcards” when we are on this large data provider’s site. His advice is compelling.
8. Mark Bayley – Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist, a site that gives really fantastic value and a very wide range of data, introduces us to a great name-rich resource recently published by TheGenealogist, in association with The National Archives.
What is this important resource for England and Wales?
It is, of course, the Tithe collection.
I have been using this set recently to great effect with my own rural ancestors and so I have included a module in my Family History Researcher Guides about the tithes.
The beauty of this data is that it includes both sides of society, with landowners and tenants being recorded and giving names and addresses. As a pre-census data set it is hugely valuable to us! Listen to Mark explain about these exciting records in the free recording you can download now by clicking the link below.
Now you may be asking why I am doing this for free?
Its because I want to introduce you to a set of guides that I have put together. A series of pdf modules that takes the information I gleaned at Who Do You Think You Are? Live and incorporated it, along with much more content into a year’s worth of weekly written guides.
There are extra contributions from various other professional experts who have penned some of the reports, as well as those modules written from my own extensive experience.
I am guessing that, if you have read this far, you are interested in English/Welsh family history and that you have hit at least one of the inevitable brick walls. The solution is to understand more ways to find your ancestors.
So if you would like to dramatically increase your knowledge then I think you will enjoy being a member of my Family History Researcher Guides. This is a 52 weekly series of guides written in an easily accessible form and you can take a two week trial for just £1 by going here:
Parish Registers are one of my great favourites among all the records available to family historians. They record something about ancestors of ours that may not have managed to get themselves recorded elsewhere in their lives, or at least in records that have survived through to today.
Every time I hear about more data, making it onto the Internet, I am thankful. My reason is that it may allow someone, somewhere, to make the right connection to their past family members that they may not have done without these databases.
I’ve been a bit busy theses last couple of weeks and missed this announcement when it first came out 9 days ago, but the Family history website findmypast.co.uk has added over 450,000 new parish baptisms, marriages and burials covering the period 1538-2009 from areas as diverse as Northumberland, Durham, Ryedale, Sheffield, Wiltshire and Suffolk to make it easier than ever to trace your ancestors further back through history and further expanding what has now become the most comprehensive collection of England and Wales parish records online. Paul Nixon, Content Licensing Manager for findmypast.co.uk commented on the new release â€œThis is a tremendous step for those trying to uncover their UK ancestors, and a great resource for family historians with British roots worldwideâ€.
Full details of what this exciting record release contains are as follows:
141,525 Suffolk Baptisms 1753-1911
244,309 Wiltshire Baptisms 1538-1867
27,420 Northumberland & Durham Burials 1587-2009
22,687 Sheffield Baptisms 1837-1968
8,181 Sheffield Marriages 1824-1991
7,113 Ryedale Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1754-1999
These records are brought to you by Suffolk family history society, Wiltshire family history society, Northumberland and Durham family history society, Sheffield family history society and Ryedale family history society as a result of the ongoing partnership of findmypast.co.uk and the Federation of Family History Societies. They are available to search online now and can be viewed with PayAsYouGo credits, a Britain Full or a World subscription.
The records are available on all findmypast sites as part of a World subscription.
Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.
This weekend I decided to revisit a line in Plymouth that I had only barely scratched the surface of in my research into the family.
My paternal grandmother’s father was called Edgar Stephens. His mother was Mary Ann Stephens nee Westlake and her mother was also called Mary Ann. Thus, in the 1851 census I was able to find my 3 x great-grandmother Mary Ann Westlake nee Legg married to Thomas Westlake the Brass Founder and Plumber that I have written about before in relation to his advertisement in the 1852 Plymouth Trades Directory.
I was looking at the 1851census records for Thomas and Mary Ann and noticed that they were both the same age, having been born in 1818.
I then went to find them in the 1861 census and noted that the transcript on TheGenealogist had Thomas’ wife listed as “Clara M Westlake” but as her date of birth was still 1818 I just put this down to an error. Opening the image I could see that the writing was none too clear, giving the transcriber a bit of a job to work out. What it certainly didn’t look like was the Mary Ann, as I had expected it to read.
Popping over to Ancestry.co.uk and the transcription for their 1851 census was given as “Chrisk W “.
Searching the same 1851 census on Findmypast and I got the transcription returned as “Catherine W”. The writing on the census page had challenged the transcribers at all three sites and I can not blame them for their differing attempts to make sense of the entry as I certainly couldn’t.
So what had happened to Mary Ann? Had she tired of her name and changed it to something more exotic? Or had she died and Thomas had taken a new wife, who also happened to have been born in the same year as he and the former Mrs Westlake?
I decided to do some detective work and search for a death of Mary Ann Westlake from after the 1851 census and before the 1861. What I found was a number of candidates that could have been my great-great-great-grandmother.
So now I approached the problem by seeing if I could find a second marriage for Thomas and here I can testify to the usefulness of the advice, given by many experienced family historians, to “always kill off your ancestors”.
You see, by having done just this for Thomas, having found his death in the records and then the listing for his probate, I was able to discover that he had an unusual middle name of “Scoble”.
Now I could look for a marriage of Thomas Scoble Westlake and I found just the two in the databases. One was in 1841 to Mary Ann Legg in Stoke Damerel, which is in the Devonport area. The other was to Christian Upcott Harwood in the last quarter of 1859 in Falmouth, Cornwall.
I had the name of the second wife!
Though this asked the question, if Thomas and Christian were wed in 1859, then what had happened to Mary Ann? The records show that in the second quarter of 1859 a death was registered in Plymouth for her, allowing Thomas to take a new wife in the fourth quarter! I will need to order a copy of the death certificate to find out what she died of.
So who was Christian Upcott Harwood? I had looked for her birth or christening without any luck. Then it struck me that perhaps she too was a widow. I now looked for the marriage of a Christian Upcott, leaving the bride’s maiden name blank,Â to someone called Harwood and I found one to Samuel Peter Harwood in 1841 in Lewisham. Christian was from Plymouth and he was from Plumstead in Kent. A death occurred in East Stonehouse, Devon in the year 1858 to one Samuel Harwood and I assume it was his widow who married Thomas Scoble Westlake.
If you would like more tips on researching your English or Welsh Family History then why not sign up for my tips and a special FREE report using the box below…
Most users of the main genealogical subscription sites will probably use the census data sets and birth marriage and death records and pretty much nothing else.
This is a real waste of their subscriptions as there is so much else to be plumbed from these treasure troves.
I was looking at the amazing full colour pdf images of wills on TheGenealogist.co.uk this week and also at the Register of Landowners, completed in 1873, that is something like the Griffith’s Valuation lists for Ireland, but for Britain instead. In this database you can find the names of owners of, or those that rented more than an acre of land in England, Wales and Scotland.
TheGenealogist.co.uk also has a set of poll books for various counties of England and Wales, and, for those of you that wish to delve back further than the 17th century and who have landed gentry in your line, there is the heraldic Visitations.
The Poll books give names, addresses, occupations and show how people voted in the election. The Poll Books that are available on TheGenealogist pre-date the census records and go back as far as the 1700s, making them a valuable resource for family historians.
Heraldic Visitations began in 1530 and were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms in order to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry, and to record pedigrees. By the fifteenth century many families were adopting coats of arms as symbols of wealth and power but not all had a legitimate claim to them. As surviving visitation records include pedigrees and often the evidence that was used to prove these, including family details, background and ages, their records provide important source material for genealogists.
Visitation Records are currently available for individual counties and the whole of England and Wales, with years ranging from 1530 â€“ 1921.
Another specialist set is the List of Bankrupts with Their Dividends 1786-1806.
This is just an example of a few of the data resources that can so easily be missed by the family historian, and we are talking of one example of a subscription website here!
The hundreds of other databases to be explored within the other sites such as Ancestry, findmypast, the Origins.net and so on that so many do not use, is staggering.
Take a look today!
Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for any of their subscriptions.
Sometimes genealogy can be very frustrating! You can use all the correct procedures to find your ancestors in the data bases and yet they still stubbornly remain hidden from you. A vital document has been destroyed or lost sometime long ago and this vital link in the chain is broken and you are left floundering around wondering where to turn next.
This weekend, 24th to 26th February, I had hoped to be able to visit the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at Olympia and to report back to my readers on the latest in techniques for carrying forward our research, advice from some of the experts that I would have interviewed on video, new databases to search and news from the subscription sites. Regretfully I have been foiled by a bank of fog in the English Channel that has cancelled flights from my home in Jersey to London since Thursday!
A huge disappointment for me that my travel plans were scuppered, but this got me thinking about just how easy we modern travellers normally have it. So what if I have been hanging around for three fruitless days waiting for my half-an-hour flight to the capital, that never materialised? In the past our ancestors travel was often long, sometimes dangerous and undertaken with some trepidation. I am hugely impressed by some of my seafaring ancestors that braved storms, disease and long periods separated from home and family. What this does is bring into context the pitifully small inconvenience to me that I have lost the chance to do something that I had been so looking forward to. Yes I am fed up, but I believe that I am so lucky to be living today, with all the conveniences I have, even when sometimes they just don’t or can’t operate.
Having said that, however, this still doesn’t detract from the deep fascination that I have with my forebears and their past.
So what has been happening at the WDYTYA? LIVE show?
I noticed that Ancestry.co.uk has been streaming live from their theatre in the show this year. Unfortunately the download speed has given me some problems, so that I couldn’t watch the reports properly.
Findmypast.co.uk announced that we are now able to search 359,000 records of Merchant Navy Seamen for the period 1835-1857 on their site. These 19th century Merchant Navy records become available online for the first time with this brightsolid company’s work in association with The National Archives.
The background to the records is that from 1835, the central government started to monitor a potential reserve of sailors for the Royal Navy, which resulted in the creation of thousands of records that identify individual seamen. The information that these records hold about any of your potential ancestors will obviously vary. Normally, however, they include the name, age, place of birth, a physical description, the name of ship and dates of voyages that the mariner served on. This release adds to the 20th century Merchant Navy Seamen records, which were already published on findmypast.co.uk in September 2011. This means you can now search two centuries of records for your Merchant Navy Seamen ancestors, making it possible for you to trace their service over time.
Nigel Bayley Managing Director of The Genealogist.co.uk talking to me at WDYTYA?LIVE last year.
TheGenealogist.co.uk have now released full transcripts for the final eight counties in the 1911 census.
The release of these counties brings the total number of records to over 36 million on their site and completes the 1911 census project. These census records, only available to Diamond subscribers, have been integrated into their existing search tools, so that you are now able to access the transcripts using their very useful House and Street search tool, their Keyword Master search and also their Family Forename search. This can help enormously to track down ancestors in this set.
Take your family history further by considering a subscription to these websites:
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.
I was doing a bit of research, this week, on a person who had been part of an Army family that moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands, at the end of the 19th century from England.
From the 1891 census I could see that this young girl, aged 14, was listed as a Daughter and was living in the household of a Colour Sergeant and his wife in the Parish of St Saviour. By the time of the next census, in 1901, they had moved a few miles further east, within the island, to the Arsenal in the Parish of Grouville. The head of the household would seem to be listed as a Quarter Master Sergeant, on the permanent staff for the Royal Jersey Militia Infantry and his daughter as a Music Teacher.
Using the various online databases at The Genealogist.co.uk, Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk, the next time that the daughter appears, in any of their records, was in the probate records for her mother back in England in the 1930s. From this we see that the daughter has married, revealing her new surname. But there seems to be no record for the marriage in any of the countries that make up the United Kingdom. Jersey and the rest of the Channel Islands are British Islands that are not, of course, part of the U.K. and they have their own administrations and their own marriage registers.
None of the Jersey marriage records are online and so on one of my visits to the Lord Coutanche Library at La Societe Jersiaise, in St Helier, I took the time to consult their copies of the indexes to the island’s marriages. If you have read the guest post by James McLaren on this blog on Jersey BMD records after 1842 as part of the Jersey Family History Section, you will know that this is a somewhat lengthy affair as they are not kept quarterly, like in England, but are simply run until they are filled up. Indexing is alphabetical by the first letter of the surname only, being added to the list in the order that the marriages take place. Each parish runs indexes for Anglican and non-Anglican marriages and in St Helier, the town parish, each C of E church has its own index.
I was faced with the prospect of going through thirty or so indexes, looking for the chance marriage of this couple at some unknown date after the 1901 census. My best guess was to start with the Parish of Grouville, where she had been resident in 1901. Sadly, I had no luck and so I began the trawl through the different parish indexes until I hit St Helier.
There, in 1902, at the main Parish Church of St Helier, married by the Dean of Jersey, G.O.Balleine, was my research targets! It had taken me hours of persistence to find them and, with quite some satisfaction, I now noted down the details on my pad. I would need the Parish, the dates between which the index ran, the Page number and the bride and grooms names to obtain a certified extract from the Superintendent Registrar’s Office in the island, on payment of the required £20. The time it had taken me to find them, however, meant that this office was now closed for the day. They are only open to the public on weekday mornings and then only when no civil weddings are taking place at the office.
The next day, however, I was able to request the certificate and collect it the day after. A speculative search had revealed the Jersey marriage of this couple in September 1902. A good result and another piece in the puzzle of this family’s research.
There seems to be a trait among many family historians who all seem to want information to be available to them at the drop of a hat, for free and provided instantaneously as well.
Now, I’d like to raise an argument that this would seem toÂ defeat the object of much family history research. Is it not the thrill of carrying out a piece of detective work, in order to find an ancestor after ploughing through the databases online and then visiting the County Record Offices in person to read page after page of parish registers on the microfilm machine, that makes this pastime of ours fun?
Certainly, a good few newcomers to family history seem to believe that all they will need to is log onto the web, enter a name into a search box and they will instantly find their ancestors going back to Adam and Eve. Many do not think that they should pay anything for this, as if the state has some sort of obligation to give them the information on demand.
I don’t know if you have you ever looked into the searches that are carried out on the likes of Google for keywords? Take “family tree” as an example. I’ve noticed that the number of people typing in a search on how to get their family tree for free, was quite high. It would seem that some people express the idea that as its “their family” that they have some sort of right to be given the research.
When most of the newbies, to family history, find that they need to pay for a subscription to a website, in order to progress, they either descend into rudeness, or give up before they even get properly started. This latter scenario being an absolute shame, in my view.
From my website I offer a tips and tricks email which gives the people, who have signed up to my list, valuable free content. At the bottom of the email I often have an advertisement for my paid for products and it amazes me that I get aggressive emails back saying things such as “I’m not made of money you know”. To these people I would just like to humbly suggest that they enjoy the 98% of the rest of the email, that comprises the free tip, and just try to ignore the advertisement for my products at the bottom.Â Do they have such a problem with commercial television, I wonder?
Expanding the discussion a little bit more, I’d like to bring in the arguments of the Open Genealogy Alliance – http://www.opengenalliance.org/
As I understand it, they are arguing that our public records should be made free to view online. They make the point that, in a large number of cases, many public records have now been licensed to private companies. These business need to make a return on their investment and so the public can only gain access to the data if they pay for it. The OGA are challenging this idea, saying that the digital versions of, what are, public records are effectively being privatised.
In my opinion there certainly needs to be some sort of balance, the record offices and archives are all facing up to the shortage of funds in the present economic climate and perhaps we should all make a bit of an effort to go out there, whenever possible, and visit the various archives more often. A vicious circle where they many have to cut their hours, due to less visitors coming to see them and reacting to spending cuts could see the record offices and archives closed or amalgamated.
Until absolutely every record is available online, a situation that is never likely to happen, then we family historians should stop expecting instant records to be available to us at our finger tips. And, what is more, I do think that we need to get out of depending only on our computer and just go out there into the world to find the information for ourselves. Believe me, it really is much more fun that way!
I have had two requests this week, from different people, asking me how do they trace a “lost” relative.
I am making an assumption that they are both reasonably certain that the person is still alive. They have probably checked the index to death registers to make sure that this is the case and that the person in question hasn’t passed away.
If you are in this position, but haven’t ascertained if your relative has died then the first thing to do is to take a look at the U.K. Death Record Indexes. These can be found online,Â up to 2005, on sites such as Ancestry.co.uk, TheGenealogist.co.uk and GenesReunited.co.uk ,while FindMyPast.co.uk has them up to 2006.
If you don’t find them in these databases then next you need to search between 2006 and the present. The bad news is that these records are not online. Here is some information published on theÂ direct.gov.uk website that I have copied below for its usefulness if you are not confining yourself to web based research:
“Copies of the indexes can no longer be purchased but a complete set, including â€˜Births, Deaths and Marriages from 1837 â€“ 2008â€™, â€˜Overseas from 1761 â€“ 2008â€™, â€˜Civil Partnerships from 2005 â€“ 2009â€™, â€˜Adoptions from 1927 â€“ 2009â€™, and the provisional indexes for â€˜Births and Deaths from 2009 to June 2010′,Â are available at:
Manchester City Library
Birmingham Central Library
Bridgend Reference and Information Library
Plymouth Central Library
City of Westminster Archives Centre
London Metropolitan Archives
The British Library*
These locations get updates for you to view in person. This is expected to continue until free, online access can be provided.
* Please be aware that customers will need to undertake a pre-registration process. Two forms of identification showing a signature and proof of address will beÂ needed to gain entry into this location.”
So, assuming that you have not found a death, then the next thing I would do is to look at using 192.com. It can be a useful start in tracking down someone still living.
A cousin of mine was able to trace another of our cousins using this site with just the lost person’s names and the fact we knew they had lived in Southampton. It does involve you having to contact several people with the same name to try and rule them out.
Finally, a good guide to tracing living peopleÂ is this one from the British Library.