Family History Sites Mark Rememberence Day


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To coincide with Remembrance Day, UK family history site, www.GenesReunited.co.uk
has released a variety of military records taking its collection to 8.5 million.

The British Army Service Records are just one of the latest records added to the site and they include the Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service records from 1760-1913. These records are an important resource for family historians as they provide rich information on the soldier’s name, place of birth, regiment and the dates of service within the British Army.

New WW1 and WW11 Prisoner of War records have also been added to Genes Reunited. These records hold vital information; the Prisoner of War 1939 – 1945 records detail the prisoner’s name, rank, regiment, camp number, camp type and camp location.

Rhoda Breakell, Head of Genes Reunited, comments: “From the Harold Gillies Archive to the Military Nurses 1856 – 1940 we’ve released a huge variety of records. These new records will be an invaluable resource for people wanting an insight into the lives of their ancestors. ”

From today people interested in tracking down their ancestors can visit www.genesreunited.co.uk and search the latest records listed below:

· WWII Escapers and Evaders

· Military Nurses 1856 – 1940

· Army Reserve of England and Wales 1803

· 1st Foot Guards attestations 1775-1817

· Regimental Indexes 1806

· Manchester Roll of Honour 1914-1916

· Manchester City Battalions 1914-1916

· Royal Artillery Military Medals 1916-1991

· Royal Artillery Honours & Awards 1939-1946

· Harold Gillies Archive

· Royal Red Cross Register

· British Officers taken Prisoner of War between August 1914 and November 1918

· Prisoners of War – Naval & Air Forces of Great Britain & Empire – 1939-1945

· Prisoners of War – Armies and land Forces of the British Empire 1939-1945

· Oldham Pals 1914-1916

· Oldham Roll of Honour 1914-1916

· Prison Hulk Registers 1811-1843

· Ted Beard – RAF Nominal Roll 1918

· British Army Service Records 1760-1915 [WO 96 and WO 97]

WO 96 – Militia

WO 97 – Pensions 1760-1913

WO 119 – Kilmainham Pensions

WO 121 – CHEPS discharges

WO 122 – CHEPS discharges (foreign regiments)

WO 128 – Imperial Yeomanry

WO 131 – CHEPS deferred pensions 1838-1896

The newly added military records can be viewed on a pay-per-view basis or Platinum members can choose to add on the record set to their package for a low cost. The military records have been added to the existing military additional features package.

 

Meanwhile, over at TheGenealogist.co.uk

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

As we remember those who fought and fell in the Great War, TheGenealogist website is adding new military records to help you discover the role your ancestor played in the conflict. For example…

Hart’s Army List, 1908

Army List, July 1910

Army List, February 1917

 

Navy Lists

Navy List, December 1914

Navy List, February 1938

 

 

and at Ancestry.co.uk

More than 67,000 British military POW records published online – Ancestry.co.uk

Records contain details of British military personnel imprisoned during WWI and WWII

Famous pilot POWs Douglas Bader and William Ash are listed in the records

More than 14 million war records available to view free online at Ancestry.co.uk this Remembrance Day

Ancestry.co.uk, the family history website, recently launched online the UK Prisoner of War Records, 1914-1945, a collection spanning both World Wars and detailing the names of more than 67,000 British military POWs.

During WWI and WWII, thousands of servicemen were taken prisoner and forced to endure the harsh conditions of POW camps. These records detail the name, rank and regiment of these British military personnel as well their camp location, date of capture and release date.

Most of these newly digitalised records (59,000) pertain to WWII and pilot POWs are included for the very first time. The RAF and its pilots played a vital role in WWII both protecting UK airspace and attacking enemy ships, airbases and other industries key to the German war effort.

 

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Family History Books for Kindle

So this week, in the British Isles, saw Waterstones Booksellers launch the Kindle readers in their shops across the country. In my branch in St Helier, Jersey there is a great new display point and I was drawn immediately towards the Kindle Fire HD. I love the way it looks and the way it works! So much so that I got my debit card out and bought one there and then.

With these devices making more of an inroad into the way that people shop for books and read them I thought that it was timely for me to take a look at what family history titles are available from the Amazon Kindle store.

First off  I found that Peter Christian’s The Genealogist’s Internet is available. I’d seen it reviewed in Your Family Tree magazine in only the last month with a recommend that every family historian should have a copy either in Kindle form or in physical book.

It is a practical guide which that  is great for both beginners and more experienced researchers to use as it explores the most useful online sources and aids its readers to navigate each one. The Genealogist’s Internet features fully updated URLs and all of the recent developments in online genealogy.

This is the fully updated fifth edition and it carries the endorsed by the National Archives. Covering

·Online census records and wills, including the 1911 Census

·Civil registration indexes

·Information on occupations and professions

·DNA matching

·New genealogy websites and search engines

·Surname studies

·Passenger lists and migration records

·Information on digitised historical maps and photographs

Peter Christian’s book also includes the impact of blogging, podcasting and social networking on family history research, that allows the family historian to seek out others with similar research interests and so to share their results. Whether you want to put your family tree online, find distant relatives or access the numerous online genealogical forums, discussion groups and mailing lists, this book is a must-have.

For a selection of other Kindle books, including my own, head over to amazon.co.uk and take a look at these: Must Have Family History Books for your Kindle.

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Family History Can Be Frustrating Looking For A Breakthrough

I’ve hit many brick walls with the research into my Great Uncle and then today a little breakthrough gives me the confidence to go on.

I am sure that there are many of you that have had the same experience. You open up a genealogy search site and enter your ancestor’s name and some details into the search fields. You hit the Search button and hope that the next page will reveal your kin. Back come the results and depressingly none of them seem to be your man or woman.

Well this has been what I have been experiencing recently, after the initial decision to explore more about Harold Perring Matthews, who married my Great Aunt Winnie. He joined the RAF and gained rapid promotion and honours in WWII. To find out more I will probably have to send off for his service record, but at present I just want to establish the main vital records for him.

 

I had already found Harold’s birth registered in the GRO indexes for 1901 and he appeared in the 1901 census as being 1 month old on census night. I’d also found his marriage in the indexes in the 4th quarter of 1936, but could I find his death or anything else? No I could not!

I use a variety of genealogical subscription sites when doing my research and two of the main ones were not giving me any details of his death. I was wondering whether to just put him on the back burner and turn to someone else, when I fired up findmypast and noticed that there was one record for an Overseas Death reported to the GRO.

Eureka! Great Uncle Harold died in 1969 in Palma, Mallorca aged 68, and his death was reported by the consular authorities to the GRO in England. So it is that he appears in their Deaths Abroad Indices and not in the normal GRO index.

Think laterally and try more than one search site!

Find My Past has Overseas Death Records 1818-2005 amongst many other data sets.


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.

 

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Even after 1837 Parish Records Can Be Useful

Baptismal font St. Saviours, Dartmouth, Devon, UK.
Baptismal font St. Saviours, Dartmouth, Devon, UK.

Ever since I attended a lecture by John Hanson at the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show, a few years back, I have been aware that, just because we family historians are able to use the births marriages and death records from the General Register Office to find our ancestor’s vital events, we should not ignore the Parish Records for the years following 1837.

Convention has us researching back in the GRO details until 1837 the year that the state in England & Wales took over the responsibility of recording our ancestors BMD’s. Before that date we rely heavily on the church records to find our forebears. But what is often disregarded is that the church has gone on keeping registers of these events and sometimes they can give us little extra bits of information that we have not got from elsewhere.

For example, this week I was looking at my paternal grandmother’s family who hail from Plymouth. I was fleshing out my family tree by concentrating on my grandmother’s brother’s and sisters. Working laterally can often be a useful technique to understanding the family and sometimes can be used to break down a brick wall or two.

I had done a broad stroke tree many years before including six siblings to the chart; but at a recent family get together I became aware that one of her brothers was missing from my tree.

As luck will have it Find My Past has recently added more than three and a half million Plymouth and West Devon parish records to their website with entries that span from 1538 to 1911. The data comes from the Plymouth City Council’s Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.

On my family tree I had George Stephens born December quarter 1888 as the eldest child of Edgar Stephens and Ellen née Colwill. I had found his birth details in the birth indexes for As I had been saving money I had not ordered his birth certificate from the GRO but noted the page and volume number.

On Find My Past’s website I have now been able to see that he was christened George Edgar Colwill Stephens at Christ Church Plymouth in 1888. The name Colwill being his mother’s maiden name. I had not expected to have found this entry in an established church in Plymouth as the child’s parents had married at the Plymouth Register Office the year before.

At the time of writing this piece, however, I have yet to find any of their other children, including my grandmother, in the parish registers that are on line. I wonder what the story is here?

 

 

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 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.

 

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Ancestor’s Marriage Certificate Throws Up Questions.

Copy wedding certificate arrives in postI have been looking more closely at an ancestor’s marriage certificate and have notice some interesting anomalies. When I had first come across the marriage of  my 2x great-grandparents, Henry Thorn and Ellen Malser, on the familysearch.org website I had noted that the marriage was recorded in the register of St.Mary’s Portsea, a parish in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England. The wedding took place on the 5th of February 1859 while Henry was employed in the Naval Dockyard as a ropemaker.

I had assumed that the church, in which they married, was St.Marys and so this is what I recorded in my family tree at the time, but now I am not so sure. As you know, good practice for family historians teaches us to always seek out the original document. Looking at the online indexes I found the information that I would need to order their marriage certificate from the General Register Office.

When I had it in my possession I noticed that it did not say the Parish Church in St Marys Portsea. Instead it reads: Marriage solemnized at “the church” in the Parish of… followed by an indecipherable set of scratches!

The first resembles a “P” and then follows some strong up and down strokes which do not give us the whole picture of the letters. I tried to match them with legible letters in the rest of the certificate but I can not make them spell St.Marys! It is possible, I think, that the word may have been Portsea, but even of that I can not be sure.

Using the map search tool on familysearch.org (http://maps.familysearch.org/) I researched other churches in Portsea. A tip here is to use the town name and not the church, or parish – if I had entered “St Marys Portsea” it would not have worked. The result returned was a number of C of E churches in the area, all carved out of the ancient parish of Portsea.

From the marriage certificate I could see that both the bride and the groom gave their address as Raglan Street, Portsea. Returning to the familysearch.org map tool I was able to see that this road fell into two parishes, the further along its length you traveled. St Marys Portsea was the Parish Church for those living in the west and St Jude’s Southsea in the east.

The trouble is that neither of these fall happily into the pattern of strokes, that are all that can be seen in this particular wedding certificate. Can I assume that as St Marys was the mother church of Portsea that convention dictated it was the Parish of Portsea?

Wedding in the Parish of...There are more questions about this particular certificate which I will deal with in my next post.

For more great tips to get your family tree back before 1837 in England & Wales  buy my CD:

How To Get Back Before 1837 in England & Wales.

Help Me Get Back Before 1873 in My English Family Tree

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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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When Ancestors Dissapear from the Records

I was pretty confident of this ancestor search. I thought it was going to be a breeze to find the family history records for this family group. I had located the family in the 1881 census through a combination of knowing the names of the parents and the birth dates of the father and mother.

So next box to tick was to find them in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census for England & Wales, or at least those parties that had survived as there is always the possibility that some may have passed away between censuses.

But straight away the 1891 census proved a problem for me. I search using the head of the household, then his wife and then the children. Nothing!

I wondered if the surname had been poorly transcribed and so I used the option to search on a name that would have been similar, with no result. I then went back to the 1881 and took a look at the street name and town with the intention of seeing if they had stayed put in the ten years between the census being taken but their surname had been incorrectly gathered. This is a top tip that I was given some time back and on www.thegenealogist.co.uk there is a useful tool that allows researchers to search the census by street name. I’ve used this in the past with success, but the whole lane seemed to have been missed out, or had changed its name in the intervening period.

There is also the facility on www.findmypast.co.uk to do an address search and so I tried using that and quickly identified the road as it had been listed slightly differently in the later census. This shows up the beauty of using more than one site to do your research with. If you can’t find a record in one subscription site’s records then remember this tip is to try using another site, because each company will have used different transcribers to produce their indexes and so you may get lucky with your brick wall.

On thegenealogist.co.uk there is another tool called the family forename search that allows researchers to enter a number of the first names from a family.

This is a fantastic way of digging out difficult to find families in the census. With this feature you are able to search for a family that you have not been able to locate using the surname – possibly because of some unexpected spelling variation. You can use the forenames only as a group search and the results can be refined by adding or subtracting a surname or family members.

As many families had a large number of children, the odds of another family in the same county being an exact match is quite remote. It is possible to narrow the search by year and county, if required, and enter up to 6 possible forenames that you would be expecting to find within a family group.

Hope these tips help.

Census on Computer Screen

All links in this post are Compensated Affiliate links.
This means that should you click on them and then go on to decide to buy a subscription to that website I may get paid a small commission for referring you. Take a look at what they have to offer you and if you do buy a subscription from my link then …Thank you!

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Fantastic Society of Genealogist Course!

Society of GenealogistsI’ve been to London this weekend and, on Saturday, I attended a great course at the Society of Genealogists on My Ancestor Came From Devon given by the society’s Genealogist Else Churchill.

Over the afternoon we were introduced to what we would be able to find in the library at the SoG in Charterhouse Buildings and where to look on the internet for Devon sources.

The talk encompassed sources for beginners to beyond and if you can’t make it down to Devon itself and find getting to London easier, then what is available at the SoG really is a good alternative for anyone who, like me, have Devonian ancestors.

I shall be returning to this lecture in a future post, but today I’d just like to mention some of the resources that were highlighted by Else Churchill.

The Society of Genealogists has registers for about 10,000 parishes. It houses published indexes and finding aids including the Devon FHS publications and also has many transcripts and indexes in microfilm and CDs.  There are various trade directories spanning from 1783 to the 1930s in the library and poll books particularly from Exeter and Plymouth.

Many of us subscribe to one or other of the subscription sites, but very few of us can afford to belong to more than one or two. Well that is where a visit to the SoG  can be useful as they have free access to a number of the pay per view websites so allowing us to do searches on the sites that we don’t subscribe to ourselves. This is an important resource for the family historian, as often the way the database has been transcribed can have a bearing on what you are able to find on one over another. So if you have hit a brick wall and can’t find a forbear on one site then it is worth looking on another. Also one may be stronger for the counties that you are interested in. Findmypast turns out to be particularly good for Devon.

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Jersey Marriage Records

Jersey FlagI 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.

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