British Merchant Navy – 1915 Crew Lists

I came across this while browsing The Brickwall Club‘s Facebook page and I thought it was worthy of sharing with my own blog readers who may be researching their British family tree. The resource is great for any of you out there who had ancestors that served in the British Merchant Navy (MN) in 1915, at the time of the First World War.

The database is provided online for FREE by the National Maritime Museum at their website here: http://1915crewlists.rmg.co.uk

The site explains that this is the first time ever that the Crew Lists of the British Merchant Navy from the year 1915 have been digitised and made available to search for free. It suggests that using their search box you can find relatives and loved ones via their database of over 39,000 crew lists and featuring over 750,000 names.

 

The National Maritime Museum says that as there are no records for individual merchant seafarers from this period, that the records that they are making available are of international significance in highlighting the vital contribution made by the Merchant Navy during the First World War. They go on to state that these records are also of great value to family historians, as one of the few sources of information about seafaring ancestors active in 1915.

 

RMS Lusitania

 

There is a good short description on the website that explains what the Merchant Navy is as well as what crew lists are. So if you have discovered in your family tree a merchant seaman (or woman, as there were some female crew members) then it is worth a look even if you don’t have a mariner from 1915 as an ancestor.

 

The1915 crew list database is online for FREE at the National Maritime Museum’s website here: http://1915crewlists.rmg.co.uk

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Finding Women Who Served in WWI and II

A WRNS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A WWI WRNS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
On my recent visit to my father I got to talking to him about his mother, my grandmother, and her service in both of the World Wars.

What I gathered from his recollection of her was that in WWII she had been a Leading Petty Officer Wren (WRNS) stationed at Devonport while he was a teen-aged schoolboy. She was living in a flat off the Hoe until the blast from a bomb in one of the raids on Plymouth forced her to find a safer flat on the fringe of Dartmoor. Moving to an ex-nursing home within fifty yards of the Railway station at Bickleigh, with a line into Plymouth, she saw service with the Women’s Royal Naval Service throughout the conflict.

 

It also transpires that in the First World War, as well, she had served in the dockyard before her marriage to my grandfather in 1918. This opened up my mind to the possibility of doing some research into her time in Devenport.

 

With this information about her First World War service I was fascinated to find that The National Archives (TNA) have an on-demand webinar (first put online in 2015) that can help researchers understand what records survive at TNA for women who served in the First World War.

Take a look here:

http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/webinar-women-first-world-war/

While not all the records survive from WWI it is worth a look to see if your ancestor’s records are there.

Second World War records, however, are more difficult as they still remain with the Ministry of Defence. More on this subject in another post.

 

 

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Meritorious Service Medals can be searched online

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.*

 

TheGenealogist has released the records of 29,000 individuals who were decorated with the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM). The roll of names for those who were awarded this British honour in the First World War have been released by TheGenealogist. Researchers can now look for holders of this medal up to 1920 from within their ever growing military records collection.

  • See a copy of the image of the Medal Card with the theatre of war where the medal was won
  • Details the name, rank, regiment and service number
  • Unique “SmartSearch” links to the comprehensive military records on TheGenealogist.co.uk
  • These new records cover British servicemen from The First World War

The medal was first awarded in 1845 to non-commissioned officers in the British Army who had a record of long service in the forces. Given originally for long service of at least 20 years to servicemen who were of irreproachable character and already held the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal of their service, the First World War saw it awarded to those who performed acts of non-combatant gallantry in the performance of their military duty. In the second case the bravery was not necessarily while the serviceman was on active service and may have been in the saving or attempted saving of the life of an officer or an enlisted soldier.

Family history researchers searching for ancestors who had been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in the First World War will be able to find their forebears in this new addition to the military collection of records on TheGenealogist.

 

 

 

Read TheGenealogist’s article on a First World War NCO awarded his medal ‘For exceptionally good work’ operating night and day to keep the RFC’s aeroplanes at El Hammam flying:

https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/featuredarticles/2018/finding-ancestors-awarded-the-meritorious-service-medal-768/

 

 

*Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links. This does not mean that you pay more just that I make a percentage on the sales from my links. The payments help me pay for the cost of running the site. You may like to read this explanation here:

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All at Sea – WWI naval database launched

http://www.royalnavyrecordsww1.rmg.co.uk/

With the sea all around us it is no surprise that so many of our ancestors became sailors.

With the anniversary of the First World War has seen the launch online of a new database offering free access to thousands of service records for the Royal Navy.

Royal Navy First World War – Lives at Sea can be found at: http://www.royalnavyrecordsww1.rmg.co.uk/

With more than three and a half thousand naval officers and ratings who served in the Great War, this fully searchable collection represents a small percentage of the total number of service records to be found at The National Archives in ADM 188 and ADM 196. The work of transcribing and then uploading them to the site is an ongoing project.

Scanned copies of the naval service records are available online by going to dicsovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

From their website we can see the argument for the importance of this project…

“This project will create the most significant online data resource for the study of the Royal Navy during the First World War. This unique resource also marks and commemorates the Royal Navy’s contribution to the First World War effort through the lives of those officers and ratings who served.

Our hope is that it will allow and promote a wide and diverse variety of research into the composition and operations of the Royal Navy during the War. This could be specifically in relation to individual officers and ratings through their personal and service histories, to wider studies, for instance, where men were recruited from, from which trades and to enable the creation of crew lists for ships and submarines for given dates.

Such lists do not survive for the First World War and so for the first time researchers will be able to place officers and ratings in naval battles of the War and study topics such as mortality rates, invalidity and its causes.

In addition the information derived from the database can be used as a platform for accessing other Royal Navy records including ships’ logs (ADM 53), ships’ photographs (ADM 176) and wider naval First World War operational records in (ADM 1, ADM 116, ADM 137) all at TNA, and First World War logs and journals (JOD), ship plans (SP) and photographs (HP) all at NMM.”

About the database  – what information is being captured

Personal and service details for every officer and rating who served in the First World War including:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Next of Kin
  • Service Number
  • Town/City of birth
  • County of birth
  • Country of birth
  • Occupation
  • Name of every ship/submarine/shore establishment served in (including from and to dates)
  • Rank or rating held on every ship/submarine/shore establishment served in
  • Which battle served in during the First World War, for example, (Heligoland Bight, Coronel, Falkland Islands 1914; Dogger Bank 1915; Jutland 1916; Otranto Straits, 1917).
  • Cause and date of discharge (for example, with regards to death, invalidity demobilisation).
  • Where buried or commemorated.
  • Medals awarded.

For some officers and ratings there may be more than one service record, sometimes with overlapping, duplicate and conflicting data. In such instances recourse will be made to published works, such as the Navy List, to verify information.

Read more at http://www.royalnavyrecordsww1.rmg.co.uk/#SXxpj6tKOQg8HUum.99

 


 

 

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Sinking of the Lusitania

RMS LusitaniaI don’t know if you caught the Channel 5 programme on the sinking of the Cunard ocean liner RMS Lusitania? If not it is available online until May 2016 here:

http://www.channel5.com/shows/lusitania-18-minutes-that-changed-ww1/episodes/lusitania-18-minutes-that-changed-ww1

The loss of 1119 lives occurred on 7 May 1915 during the First World War, as Germany waged submarine warfare against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Recently I was approached by a client, whose family oral stories included one that claimed that several of his great-uncles had gone down in the ship. Understanding that family tales can get elaborated upon, he asked me to do some research to see if I could confirm or disprove the reports.

Luckily, for all family historians who think that they may have ancestors who sailed on the Lusitania, there is a great website which carries the passenger and crew lists for the fatal voyage on 7th May 1915 and it can be found here:

http://www.rmslusitania.info/

rmslusitania.info

 

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Chris Baker from The Long, Long Trail talks to me at Who Do You Think You Are? Live

Chris Baker from The Long Long Trail Last week in Birmingham I caught up with Chris Baker, from The Long, Long Trail website and FouteenEighteen.co.uk after he had just given one of his very popular talks to a group of enthusiastic family historians on the subject of Military records.

Chris had discovered the rich military records set on TheGenealogist and was thus able to tell his audience about some of what he found useful on that website.

He particularly drew our attention to the Casualty records sourced from the War Office and told us how well done and useful TheGenealogist website was for Military researchers of the First World War with some interesting niche record sets.

 

 

Transcript of the video:

Hi I’m Nick Thorne from the Nosey Genealogist blog
and I’m here on TheGenealogist website’s stand
with Chris Baker a military expert
from Fourteen Eighteen website and he’s just been doing a talk
on military records.

Hi Chris.    Hello Nick.
How did it go?
Great, thank you! Great audience,
tremendous buzz, very nice to be here to give the
talk.

The subject of the talk was the very
fast changing world of
military records and how digitization has really changed
the way people can access information,
understand military records and
work out what happened to their soldier.
And yes it’s a it’s good to run
through what’s going on, but also
to highlight TheGenealogist and the various
unique sets of records. Which is actually how I came to
meet TheGenealogist myself. I found
they’ve got some casualty lists that were newly digitized
from the War Office originals. I personally found it extremely
well done and very helpful and I contacted the
company to say so.
And it just led to us being here and me being invited to give the talk.
That’s really interesting, so you’d recommend TheGenealogist for military research?

Certainly
Military records cover a very wide span of subjects,
as you know, TheGenealogist
has got for itself a very interesting
collection of what you might call niche records,
but they’re the ones that can really
help you unlock the story sometimes, particularly if a man’s
service record is missing or you can’t find him in medal records

These things will help you unlock it and
for that purpose, yes TheGenealogist, for me is a
very important provider now in in the
field of Military History.

Okay, so if our viewers want to contact you
they look for FourteenEighteen on the Internet?

Yes, they can find me, in terms of the professional services at www.14-18.co.uk
but they will also find my free of charge website which has existed for a long
time and is very popular
on the subject of the British Army in
the first world war, it’s called The Long, Long trial
it’s at www.1914-1918.net

And it contains lots of information about
regiments, how to research soldiers
and all that sort of stuff.

Great, thanks very much Chris.

You are very welcome.

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New WW1 Records Released

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New avenues of research are opened up by the latest release of unique Great War records.

During the First World War many servicemen were reported as ‘Missing’ or ‘Killed in Action’ and for the first time you can now search a comprehensive list of these online. Usefully this includes the changing status of soldiers as the facts became clearer over time, as many assumed dead were found alive and those reported missing had their status updated.

This new release from TheGenealogist contains over 800,000 records. Included are 575,000 Killed in Action records, over 226,000 unique Missing-in-Action records and 14,000 Status Updates.

Over 100,000 people previously reported as missing had further status updates:
59,500 were later reported as killed
47,400 were later reported as PoW
2,000 were later reported as rejoined
4,200 were later reported as “not missing”
8,400 were later reported as wounded
Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments:

“The telegrams and published lists of Dead and Missing must have had a huge impact on the lives of our ancestors. These records give an insight into what must have been an emotional roller coaster. They also give new avenues of research into what some researchers may have assumed were dead ends.”

These are now available to Diamond subscribers of TheGenealogist.

Example 1 Thought to be dead
Some people initially reported to be dead may turn out to be alive, the change in status is usually reported in the War Lists. If it had been assumed that an ancestor was dead, from the initial report, it could reopen a closed off branch of a family tree for further research.

An example of this type of positive record status change is Flight Sub Lieutenant Trechmann who was first reported as “Died As A Prisoner” in the Daily Lists of 6th June 1917.

Example on TheGenealogist.co.uk of soldier previously reported Died as a Prisoner

By the end of July 1917 his status changed to Previously Reported Died As A Prisoner, Now Reported Alive and Still a Prisoner.
Finally, in December 1918, his records show that he was Repatriated.

PoW camp from TheGenealogist image archive
Example 2 Thought to be wounded
5th Earl of LongfordA different illustration, on many levels, is that of the 5th Earl of Longford. Within the Daily Casualty List on TheGenealogist for the 6th September 1915, we can find Lord Longford who had previously been reported as “Wounded”.

WWI Soldiers: Earl of Longford reported as wounded

His status was then changed to be “Now Reported Wounded and Missing” and this alteration appeared in the daily list of the 27th September 1915:

Earl Longford now Missing in Action

During the First World War, Brigadier-General Lord Longford was in command of a division sent from their base in Egypt to Suvla on the Gallipoli peninsula as reinforcements during the Battle of Sari Bair.

The initial attack by other Divisions on Scimitar Hill had failed. With his men waiting in reserve, the 5th Earl and his troops were then ordered to advance in the open across a dry salt lake. Under fire, most of the brigades had taken shelter, but Lord Longford led his men in a charge to capture the summit of Scimitar Hill. Unfortunately, during the advance, he was killed.

Earl Longford’s body was never recovered and so, in the confusion of war, he was first recorded as “Wounded”, and then “Wounded and Missing”. Eventually, in 1916, he would be assumed to be dead.

Posterity tells us that the peer’s last words were recorded as: “Don’t bother ducking, the men don’t like it and it doesn’t do any good”.

To read more about these records and to read a featured article on TheGenalogist see this article: Was your ancestor killed or missing in action?

‘First World War Collection’ visit www.TheGenealogist.co.uk

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Soldiers Mentioned in Despatches now online at TheGenealogist

MiD
Soldiers Mentioned in Despatches are now available online

For the first time online, leading British genealogy research website TheGenealogist has released over 81,000 records of records of Mentioned in Despatches from the First World War, linked to citations from the London Gazette.

Find thousands of soldiers and army nurses who had come to the notice of superior officers for an act of gallantry, or meritorious action, in the face of the enemy in these records. The records created, when the recipient’s name appeared in an official report sent to the high command, can now be searched online only at TheGenealogist.

Some soldiers were mentioned in despatches (MiD), but do not receive a medal for their action, they are nevertheless listed in the records as they were entitled to receive a certificate and wear the Oak Leaf decoration on their dress uniform.

Only one such decoration is ever worn, even when a soldier is mentioned in despatches more than once, as was the case in the example of one Captain B.L. Montgomery.

Bernard Law Montgomery served in WWI in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was mentioned in despatches on several occasion so that we can find him no less than four times in the MiD records on TheGenealogist, the first of which is in 1915.

With one mouse click on the link to a transcript we can see the date the citation appeared in The London Gazette and note the date and page number for our research.

Another click of a link takes us straight to the website of the London Gazette so that we can then read the various pages that cover our soldier. By using the information from the transcript we can narrow our research right down to the correct page.

Following a third link on TheGenealogist results page gives us an image of the handwritten card record, showing even the military clerks corrections and crossing outs!

MiD2

Awarded many medals in his time, including the DSO to which his oak leaf is pinned, this officer served between 1915 and 1918 ending the First World War as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was, as history tells us, to go on to become Field Marshall Montgomery and the 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, one of this country’s important Second World War generals.

As a junior officer serving at Méteren near to the Border of France with Belgium he had been shot by a sniper through the right lung in October 1914. With the rich number of military records on TheGenealogist site we can also find him in the casualty lists. One click will then take us to an image of a page from the Times newspaper of October 20th 1914 in which he is listed.

MiD3

Montgomery was hit once more through the knee and was awarded the DSO for his gallant leadership when he turned the enemy out of their trenches with the bayonet.

Once Captain Montgomery had recovered he went back to the Western Front in 1916 as a general staff officer, taking part in the Battle of Arras in spring 1917 and also the Battle of Passchendaele in the autumn of that year and ending his war as chief of staff of the 47th (2nd London) Division.

In World War II he assumed command of the Eight Army from 1942 in the Western Desert and went up against Romeril’s forces in Africa. This time was to include the Battle of El Alamein which was a turning point of the Western Desert Campaign. “Monty” went on to command the Eight Army in its part in the Allied invasion of Sicily and subsequently Italy.

As the war wound on to its close, during Operation Overlord he was in charge of all Allied ground forces and on the 4th May 1945 he took the German surrender at Lüneburg Heath in north Germany. After the war was over Field Marshal Montgomery became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff. From 1948 until 1951 he was chairman of the permanent defence organisation of the Western European Union and in 1951 deputy commander of the Supreme Headquarters of NATO.

Known for his lack of tact, he had upset the American generals Paton and Bradley during WWII and after the hostilities he criticised many of his war-time colleagues, including General Eisenhower who was by now the President of the United States. Monty was, it is safe to say, a complex but brave man who served in the British Army for 50 years. He died on 24 March 1976.

MiD4

Mark Bayley, head of Content at TheGenealogist said “For those people searching for ancestors who had served in World War I, Mentioned in Despatches provide a unique addition to the already strong collection of military records that are offered at TheGenealogist”

 

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Found an Met Police Officer Outside London in Your Family Tree?

 

MetPoliceHeritage2

I had identified in the Indexes, to Births Marriages and Deaths for 1919, an entry in Devonport, Devon, for the birth of twins.

The problem was that the family were from London and, as I blogged last week, the head of the family was a Metropolitan Policeman. I had found from the The Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre the stations to which he had been attached and it would seem he had a continuous service until illness forced his retirement in 1928.

A quite big question had worried me about why these children would have been born in the West Country to a couple, only married a year before in London. From my research I had discovered that the father was attached to Marylebone and then Clapham districts; but nothing had been said of any other service in the First World War.

As most of us know in England there is not a national police force. The County and Borough Police Act was passed in 1856 which made policing compulsory throughout England and Wales and made provision for H.M. Treasury to give assistance to local authorities to establish territorial police forces. By 1900, the number of police in England, Wales and Scotland totalled 46,800 working in 243 separate forces.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_law_enforcement_in_the_United_Kingdom#cite_note-UKPMet-6

 
Many amalgamations of police forces have taken place since then and today policing of England & Wales is mostly run on County lines. Scotland, has in 2013, merged all 8 territorial forces into a single service called Police Scotland, but England has not. The Met, I had always assumed, was only a London force and Devon had its own Police.

At this time (1919) Plymouth was policed by the Plymouth Borough Police force, as I found from a history on the Devon & Cornwall Police website
http://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/AboutUs/Pages/Ourhistory.aspx

“In the 1850s, the Devon County Constabulary and Cornwall County Constabulary were formed, bringing a new professionalism to the policing of the peninsula. These constabularies, along with the Exeter City Police and the Plymouth Borough Police, finally came to together following a series of mergers, which resulted in the formation of the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in 1967.”

This birth of twins, to my Met Police Constable and his wife, was in World War I and so I wondered if war service may have accounted for the move of the family. Devonport was a large Royal Navy port in the City of Plymouth, County of Devon and I thought that, perhaps, the Constable had left the Police and joined the navy. Now it seems that he served his country, in the war, by staying in the Police force.

The resulting birth certificates, for the twins, confirmed that I had the right couple and the occupation of the father is given as: “Metropolitan Police Constable of 14a Auckland Road, Devonport.”

So that raised the question of what was a London policeman doing in Devon, in WWI?

The simple answer to this question came from the Friends of the Metropolitan Police website http://www.metpolicehistory.co.uk/met-police-family-history.html

“The Metropolitan Police also had responsibility for the policing of the Royal Dockyards and other military establishments, Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, Pembroke and Woolwich from 1860 until 1934, and Rosyth in Scotland from 1914 until 1926.”

Today, the responsibility on forces bases is with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Police; but back then it was with the Metropolitan Police. So this Met Police Officer was enforcing the law at the Royal Navy Dockyard at Plymouth, when his twins were born.

As a general rule a British “Bobbie” is unarmed, even today. True we have Firearms Officers, who attend incidents where weapons are used, and we have police officers on guard at airports, military establishments and the like who carry guns, but the unarmed civilian policeman is part of British psyche. We refer to this as “Policing with the consent of the public.”

From some reading I have done, however, I have discovered that all Met Policeman of the Dockyard divisions were in fact armed. It is most likely that this P.C. carried a .455 calibre Webley & Scott self-loading pistol Mark I Navy. The dockyard police being normally issued with what ever the current side arm of the Royal Navy was at the time, rather than what the Met used on odd occasions in London.
http://www.pfoa.co.uk/uploads/asset_file/The%20Met%27s%20Dockyard%20Divisions%20v3.pdf

The thing about family history is that, along with many others, I find I am continuously learning. No matter how much I think I know I am always reminded that we are all advanced beginners. There is always more to learn!

 

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Injured Services Men Records From First World War Go Online

 

TG Wounded

Great news from the team at TheGenealogist. You can now find records of injured First World War servicemen online for the first time.

Over 1.3 million records from daily and weekly First World War casualty lists have been released online by TheGenealogist. This vast collection of unique records cover all ranks to help you discover more about your injured ancestor’s wartime service.

The new records include career soldiers, volunteer Pals battalions, war poets and even a future Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. The collection covers both those who died of their wounds and those who recovered and returned to the front.
The records are a great resource for finding out what happened to an ancestor during The First World War. Details include:- the name of the injured serviceman, his regiment and rank, the date he was registered as a ‘casualty’ and often his home town or place of enlistment.

These records also work with TheGenealogist’s unique ‘SmartSearch’ feature, which allows you to link to the comprehensive range of other military records available on TheGenealogist. Many of the wounded servicemen received medals for their actions and with a few mouse clicks you can discover whether your ancestor received any commendations, such as in the Military Medals records available online on TheGenealogist.

The First World War affected people from all backgrounds who were bravely wounded in the line of duty. Daniel Laidlaw, a career soldier from Little Swinton in Berwickshire, re-joined the army aged 40 as a Piper in the 7th Battalion, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers , 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division.

At the Battle of Loos, troops of his battalion were ordered by General Douglas Haig to attack the heavily fortified German positions in their sector. The Scottish troops, facing a thick cloud of chlorine gas, were hesitating but Piper Laidlaw climbed out of the trench and under fire began playing his pipes to inspire the troops and they successfully resumed the attack. He was wounded in both legs but had carried on playing for as long as he could, his Casualty Record can be found on The Genealogist along with a SmartSearch link showing that Laidlaw was awarded a Victoria Cross for his bravery.TG Laidlaw

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: ”The sheer number of records in this latest release show how brutal The First World War was. Record keeping at the time must have been a real challenge, but thanks to TheGenealogist’s SmartSearch technology, when you find a casualty record, you can instantly see if other records, such as medals, appear on the site.”

The new 1.3 million records of the wounded are available as part of a Diamond Subscription.
To find out more about the ‘First World War Wounded Collection’ see the dedicated page on TheGenealogist.co.uk/ww1-wounded. There you will find photographs, stories, statistics and a free search facility.

 

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