More than 100,000 Parish Records and thousands of voter records released by TheGenealogist.co.uk

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.

 

To coincide with the announcement of a UK general election in June, TheGenealogist has released over 100,000 Parish Records and thousands of voter records on its website.

The People’s Will, Voting by Ballot at a Parliamentary Election from TheGenealogist Image archive
The People’s Will, Voting by Ballot at a Parliamentary Election from TheGenealogist Image archive

 

In time for the snap general election, TheGenealogist is adding to its Polls and Electoral records by publishing online a new collection of Poll books ranging from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.

 

These new records released today offer a tantalising snapshot of our ancestors interaction with the Church and the State of the past.

 

  • Find the names of people and their ‘place of abode’ in the electoral registers
  • Discover the nature of their qualification to vote, such as possessing a Corn Warehouse, a Workshop, a House, or owning a Brewhouse
  • Some of the earliest records in this release reach as far back as 1209 when the king who was known as Johan sanz Terre (John Lackland) ruled the country
  • The Parish Records are one of the most useful of all resources for family historians as they can be used to find the baptism, marriage or death of an ancestor at a time before the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths

 

The records cover 35 different registers of people who were entitled to vote in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and other constituencies situated in Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and New Westminster in Canada. These have been added to our Poll and Electoral Roll collection covering millions of records.

Historical Register of Voters
Historical Register of Voters

At the same time TheGenealogist continues to expand its vast Parish Record collections with the addition of 100,000 new individuals added for the County of Worcestershire and additionally the Registers of the Parish Church of Rochdale in Lancashire that covers the period between 1642 and 1700.

 

Also being released at this time are some records that will take the researcher all the way back to ancient times!

 

The Roll of Mayors of the Borough and Lord Mayors of the City of Leicester records the names of men holding that office from between the 10th year of the reign of King John in 1209 and all through history to 1935.

Roll of Mayors of the Borough and Lord Mayors of the City of Leicester
The first Mayor listed in the Roll of Mayors of the Borough and Lord Mayors of the City of Leicester

The first Mayor listed in the Roll of Mayors of the Borough and Lord Mayors of the City of Leicester

 

The Worcestershire Parish Records were added through a partnership with Malvern FHS while the electoral records are taken from the official lists produced to record who was entitled to vote in the various parliamentary elections.

 

To search these and many other records on TheGenealogist, go to: www.thegenealogist.co.uk

 

Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used in this news item

 

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Ancestors that changed their names!

 

The Nosey Genealogist at Birmingham Archives

 

I received a request to break down a brick wall this week from Pre-World War II Birmingham in Warwickshire – though it is now in the county of West Midlands.

The challenge was, essentially, how to identify someone’s birth and family when that person had changed their name, having got married.

As it was a ‘brick wall’ that was entirely surmountable, by applying some easily available records, I thought it might make a good blog post that others may benefit from.

 

All I had to go by was that Mrs Smith (not her real name) had lived in a particular road in a suburb of Birmingham in the late 1930s and shared a house with another couple (whom I will call Mr & Mrs H Jones). I was only given the lady’s married surname, as her first name was not known. Other facts I had were that she had been widowed young, when she lost her husband in the First World War and that he may have been an officer.

So this is how I approached the problem.

 

I was on a visit to The Library of Birmingham and so I took the escalators to the fourth floor where the Archives and Heritage centre is now situated. Many of the records, however, are accessible online and so even if you are on the other side of the world you would be able to duplicate these steps.

I took a look at the Electoral Registers for Birmingham and found Mr H Jones, Nell his wife and Mrs Annie Alice Smith listed as eligible to vote. Their address was in the Mosley area of Birmingham.

 

Now I checked the GRO indexes online for the marriage of lady called Annie A (leaving the surname blank as it was unknown) and a man with unknown first names, but a surname of Smith. I assumed that they married between 1905 and 1918, as the information I had was that he had died in WWI.

Frustratingly I could not find such a match.

 

Next I consulted the run of Trades and Street Directories to find the names of people living in the road where we knew that she had resided in 1938. Some directories can be found online on various websites now, so it is possible to have done this step from the comfort of my own home, should I have chosen to do so.

Find your ancestors in Trades Directories
Trades Directories at The Library of Birmingham

The first hurdle was that as she was one of four people living in the house and only the name of the main householder was listed for each property. I could see Mr Jones listed but not Mrs Smith. I had been told that Mr and Mrs Jones left Birmingham, as the war began, so that they could join the war effort. I wondered if Mrs Smith left too, or was there a possibility that she remained in Birmingham?

Looking at the volumes for 1939 and 1940 I could find two householders that were possible contenders – a Mrs Annie Smith in Selly Oak and a Mrs Alice Annie Smith in Edgbaston. This last one, with her first and middle names the other way round from her listing in the Electoral registers, made me wonder if this was the reason why I had not found her marriage.

Returning to the marriage indexes online I now entered the new details and was rewarded with the marriage of an Alice Ann Evans (surname changed to protect privacy) marrying a William Samuel Smith in Devon during the year 1916. Seeking corroboration I searched the military records online and found a Corporal W. S. Smith MM who had then been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and who had died of his wounds at the Somme. This seemed to echo the information that I had been given about the widow’s husband, so I was now confident that I had found the lady’s name.

Trades Directory
1938 Kelly’s Trades Directory

When carrying out your own research it is always worth keeping in mind that some of our ancestors may swap their first and middle names. They may also even modify one of the names, as in this case, with the lengthening of Ann to become Annie. If you are new to family history research then you could be thrown off the scent when you are looking for your own ancestors, if they too changed their names like Alice Ann did!

Armed with the quarter of Alice Ann’s marriage, I was now able to find her in the church register for the parish church at Paignton. I could equally have bought a copy of her marriage certificate from the GRO. Both would have furnished me with her father’s name, which was Thomas and that his occupation was a School Master.

I then turned to the 1911 census to find Thomas Evans, school master, in a town in Worcestershire and one of his daughters was the elusive Alice A Evans. The census also provided me with her age, last birthday, and where she was born.

Armed with this I could search now for her birth, finding that she was registered with the names Alice Ann and I could also go on to find her death registered in 1983 at Portsmouth.

The brick wall had been overcome.


 

If you’d like to find out more about how to tease out your elusive English or Welsh ancestors then CLICK this link:
www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

 

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Rate Books for Family History Research

Ancestors in Thorne Family treeFollowing on from the last article here I got a comment posted by James McLaren of the Channel Island Family History Society regarding using Rate books both in his specialist area of Jersey family history research and also for London by using the Land Tax assessments and the Electoral Registers on Ancestry.co.uk.

As my interest was piqued I have done a bit more research on the subject and share some of my findings here.

A rate book is a document that was used to record the payment of property taxes that was applied to both residential and business properties in the U.K. until its replacement with the council tax during the 1990s.

As a resident of Jersey I am well aware that, in our island, Rates are still levied by our civil Parish administration along with a recent addition of an island wide rate collected at the same time. Some part of that rate pays for the upkeep of roads, lighting, bins emptied while a small part of it is still used to upkeep the ancient Parish Church in each of the twelve parishes of Jersey.

I was, therefore, interested to find that rates in England and Wales were originally a levy for the parish church that, by the time of Henry VIII’s Reformation, were also being used for non ecclesiastical purposes such as repairs to bridges and local goals. Many rates collections were to support the Poor Law to maintain the workhouses and provide money for the elderly or incapacitated parishioners.

The theory of rates was that a property would be assessed at what its annual rental value was and each year I am intrigued to see what my house in St.Helier has been deemed to be worth in rent – if I didn’t need to live in it, that is!

Returning to my look at rates collected in bygone England and Wales, some householders will no doubt have objected to the level of assessment of their property. Appeals were then heard by the Justices of the Peace.

The collection, of these land taxes, would have been the responsibility of the parish constable, until the establishment of professional police forces when a full or part-time rate collector would have done the job. It was up to the constable to record the payments, and any arrears, in rate books which were then perused by the parish officials.

My investigation revealed that the earliest rate books stretch back as far as the 16th century, but you would be very lucky to find one from then. Most seem to begin in 1744, which was the year when ratepayers were given the right in law to inspect the rate records. Needless to say not all will have survived the passing of time and so gaps will occur.

So where does one look for rate books? The answer is in the County or City Record Offices and also at local history studies libraries.

The websites that I use the most at the moment are Find My Past and The Genealogist.co.uk. To Take your family history further I recommend that you too 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.

 

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Census Substitutes

Directories1869 at TheGenealogist.co.uk

I am sure that, like me, you have found an ancestor that doesn’t appear in the census collection for some reason or another.

The case, that I’ve been looking at this week, seems to have been absent from the country on more than one occasion when the census was being taken. In fact I only found him as a schoolboy, when he was enumerated in his parent’s home at the time. From other documents (in my ancestor’s case it was Hart’s Army Lists) you may be able to find a reason why your person is absent from the country and indeed I was able to pick mine up on findmypast’s passport applications, even though a passport was not a required document for people to travel with, as it has become today.

It would seem that my great-great uncle returned to the country at various times, resigning from the East India Company’s army, joining the British Army as a junior officer before resigning again after 2 years.

I was able to use the resources of post office directories on www.thegenealogist.co.uk to locate my ancestor and you may be lucky to find yours there, or in one of the ones available at www.historicaldirectories.org.

The outgoing ships passenger lists at Find My Past cover 1890 to 1960 and is another resource I’ve used to pin down my forebears with itchy feet.

A trip to the local county record office can provide you with the opportunity to take a look at Electoral Registers. If your ancestor was in business then you may well find that they had the vote not only in the ward where they lived, but also in the place where they carried out their business! This was the situation up until 1948 and university students could also vote at home as well as at their university address.

Other means of finding ancestors places of abode have been from birth, marriage and death certificates. I have tracked one ancestor’s house from the address he gave when reporting the death of his parent.

So just because a forebear doesn’t appear in the census doesn’t mean you can’t necessarily track them down and pin them on a map.

 

 

The websites that I use the most are Findmypast.co.uk and TheGenealogist.co.uk. 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.

 

 

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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.)



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British Library and findmypast.co.uk to give us 5 million pages of family history records online!

That great institution, The British Library, is joining up with family history website findmypast.co.uk in a project that I find exciting, as some of my Scots ancestors went out to British India to find their fortunes in the 1860s, while others stayed put in the UK.

What has been announced, by these organisations, is their intention to digitise a veritable treasure trove of family history resources held by the British Library and so making them available to us online and fully searchable for the first time.

To be scanned are the United Kingdom electoral registers that span the century which followed on from the Reform Act of 1832, along with records of baptisms, marriages and burials that have been drawn from the archives of the India Office.

These collections are going to allow us the possibility of tracking down details of our forebears from our computers instead of making a trip to London and the British Library’s Reading Rooms.

The British Library houses the national collection of electoral registers covering the whole of the United Kingdom and contain a vast range of names, addresses and other genealogical information, so you can see their importance.

“Digitisation of the electoral registers will transform the work of people wishing to use them for family history research,” said Jennie Grimshaw, the Library’s curator for Social Policy and Official Publications. “Printed electoral registers are arranged by polling district within constituency and names are not indexed, so the process of finding an address to confirm names of residents is currently incredibly laborious. Digitisation represents a huge breakthrough as users will be able to search for names and addresses, thereby pinpointing the individuals and ancestors they’re looking for.”

Also to look forward to, in this large-scale digitisation, are records taken from the archives of the East India Company and the India Office and thus my excitement as so many of my Scottish ancestors were employed in the H.E.I.C.S. The data that we are promised relate to Britons who lived and worked in the Indian sub-continent during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, up to Independence in 1948. Including over 1,000 volumes of births, marriages and burials, together with applications for civil and military service, and details of pension payments to individuals.

Antonia Moon, curator of post-1858 India Office Records said, “These records are an outstanding resource for researchers whose ancestors had connections with British India, whether as servants of the administration or as private inhabitants.”

We can expect to see five million pages of UK electoral registers and India Office records digitised over the next year. The resources will become available via findmypast.co.uk and in the British Library’s Reading Rooms from early 2012; online access will be available to findmypast.co.uk subscribers and pay-as-you-go customers – access to users in the British Library Reading Rooms will be free.

Simon Bell, the British Library’s Head of Licensing and Product Development, said: “We are delighted to announce this exciting new partnership between the British Library and findmypast.co.uk , which will deliver an online and fully searchable resource that will prove immensely valuable to family history researchers in unlocking a treasure trove of content that up to now has only been available either on microfilm or within the pages of bound volumes. The Library will receive copies of the digitised images created for this project, so as well as transforming access for current researchers, we will also retain digital versions of these collections in perpetuity, for the benefit of future researchers.”

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at findmypast.co.uk, said: “We’re very excited to be involved with this fascinating project. The electoral rolls are the great missing link for family historians: after censuses and civil registration indexes, they provide the widest coverage of the whole population. To have Irish and Scottish records alongside England and Wales is also a huge advantage. These records will join the 1911 Census, Chelsea Pensioner Service Records and many more datasets available online at findmypast.co.uk, which enable people to make fantastic discoveries day after day.”

I, for one, can’t wait!

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