Last Thursday night, on BBC TV, saw what many people on my facebook page are saying was the best programme in the 12th UK series of Who Do You Think You Are so far. The subject was Frank Gardner, the BBC’s Security Correspondent who made the news himself in June 2004 when he was shot six times and seriously wounded by al-Qaeda sympathisers in Saudi Arabia.
It was his maternal family tree, that was the subject of the one hour show. It would seem to have delighted those viewers that have commented on social media because, while it did pick out certain key ancestors to look at in more detail, the episode went on to trace Frank’s line as far back as the research would take them. This happened to be to William the Conqueror himself and so it more than validated the family story, that Frank had heard as a child from his mother, that they were descended from the Normans.
You certainly couldn’t have wanted to find a better ancestor than the Norman King, if you were trying to prove that your family came over with the Normans! Without any shadow of a doubt William, Duke of Normandy, is one Norman that no one can dispute arrived in England at that time.
The satisfaction of being able to trace one generation back to another and then back to another, and so on for 31 generations, is something that very few of us can have the gratification of being able to do. Yet I was asked by a contact this weekend if I had noticed that it was often a pretty zig-zag line that was taken. The lineage, they had spotted from the pedigree shown on the screen, would meander back though the mother of an ancestor and then her mother. The next generation back was again via the female line and then, perhaps, the male branch for a couple of generations before going up the female line again.
“How could the Herald at the College of Arms have told Frank that he was directly descended from William the Conqueror?”
“Because he is!” I replied, nonplussed. “A direct line does not mean everyone has to have the same surname and be descended from the male. Women are just as important as ancestors to us all.”
I believe that this is a mistake that many may make in their family tree research. Unintentionally concentrating on charging back up one line following the father, the grandfather to trace the surname back. This can even happen if our quest started with a woman.
It takes two to create an offspring and the child, we know now, receives half their DNA from each parent. So take time to investigate some of your female lines and see where they take you. You too may be as lucky as Frank Gardner in your discoveries.
TheGenealogist website’s researchers have also turned up an interesting fact about the journalist’s dad.
I’ve got some advice for you to break down a brick wall.
Have you been stuck trying to find an ancestor?
Thought you might have been!
Maybe what I relate below will help you too.
The thing was that some while back, I was getting quite frustrated by being unable to trace a person in the records.
I was completely stuck finding this person’s birth, marriage or death and I had tried looking online and off without any luck.
Maybe you are in this position too?
What broke the problem for me?
Well it was avisit to a Family History websitewhile surfing forkeywordsto do with the ancestor and then a little bit of time spentbrowsing the transcripts featured on the platform.
There were some other factors, such as trying different spelling variations of first and second names, as advised by my family history teacher at the time and a visit to an archive.
What it boils down to is using a bit of lateral thinking in our family tree research and most importantly finding out about alternative records to the ones that we might have already used.
The family branch that has presented me with the most frustrating problems has been that from Devon. I was fine going back through the census years, 1911, 1901 and so on back to 1841 but then it became more of a problem.
Perhaps this story resonates with some of you to?
I had figured out that my 3x great-grandfather was called John Thorn. This was provided in the information he had given to the census enumerators over the years, along with the fact that he had been born in about 1795. His wife, Elizabeth, had been born about 1798.
As I belong to The Society of Genealogists I took a trip to their headquarters in Goswell Road, London knowing that they have the largest collection of Parish Records in the country on microfiche. They’ve also got some transcripts of parish registers in their library, which I thought may be worth looking at.
If you are in the area I highly recommend you visit the Society of Genealogists.
Unfortunately for me, at the time of my research, the Dartmouth parish records were not on microfilm at the SoG. But I was over the moon to find a great selection of Devon Family History Society booklets for marriages taking place in the churches of the town, including St. Saviour’s, Dartmouth. Browsing one book for any likely ancestors I spotted that on 13 April 1817 one person called John Thorn got married to an Elizabeth Sissell.
I opened up the internet and began searching using my new lead. My mission was to hunt down any evidence that this was the marriage of my ancestors.
Doing a search-engine query for Dartmouth + family history steered me towards the Dartmouth-history.org.uk website belonging to The Dartmouth Archives. I discovered that this voluntary organisation had a really broad family history section and included a number of transcribed baptisms, burials, marriages and census records.
I could read the very same information, as I had seen at the SoG in London, on this niche site. The data began in 1586 and ran to 1850 and there was the marriage of John Thorn to Elizabeth and this time I noticed that the witness were given as John Adams and Sunass (sic) Sissell.
At the time I made an assumption that this last person was more than likely some member of the bride’s family. Could it perhaps be the father of the bride?
But that name “Sunass” just didn’t seem likely to me. Now I know that it was the best guess by the transcriber as it couldn’t be read properly in the original record.
From the information I knew that they had signed with a mark, thus they were illiterate and so the first name and the second had not been written down by the ancestors themselves.
When you are doing your own research you should bear in mind that our ancestors may not have had the ability to read or write and the minister may have interpreted the name as he had heard it said to him. In my ancestor’s case the surname “Sissell” could possibly have been “Cecil” or something entirely different. Consider saying the name with the regional accent and seeing what you come up with.
As for Sunass – at this point I was clueless!
The Dartmouth Archives website had not got any early enough christening records for John and Elizabeth and so I went over to the Latter Day Saints (LDS) website or FamilySearch.org and here I did a search for Elizabeth’s christening.
I was rewarded by a lead to a baptism in one of the other churches in Dartmouth, St Petrox, on the 16 September 1878. This child was the daughter of James and Sarah Sissill and she was christened Elizabeth Gardener Sissill.
You may notice that the spelling had changed to Sissill with an “i” and not an “e” again pointing to the vicar writing it down the way that he heard it.
I now jumped to a conclusion that the witness to Elizabeth’s marriage could have been her father “James” and this has been interpreted as “Sunnas” because a flowing “J” for James had looked like an “S” to the transcriber and the other letters had been misread as a “u” for an “a” and the double “n” as an “m”. All easily done.
So what I am emphasising here and I continue to do so in modules from my Family History Researcher Course, is to be wary of names and the way they were spelt. If you keep this in mind then some of the logjams we find in our research can be got past.
This breakthrough I had was down to finding that Dartmouth has an active family history website and then using their indexes in conjunction with other internet resources, such as the LDS site.
The first learning point is that you should always find out what other research may have been done, for the area your ancestors came from.
If you find a family history society, or local interest group with a website, can any of their publications or website pages help you with your quest?
Secondly, always keep in mind that names were misspelled in many records. In my own family research I have had to think of other spellings for the Sissells, and indeed names that may have sounded like Sissell in order that I may trace this line back further and break down the brick wall.
I have made some fantastic strides in my family tree research and it is mostly down to learning as much as I can from other’s experiences and finding out as much as I can about what records and resources are available.
Last year I put together some modules for a course of 52 guides, aiming at passing on my experience. Perhaps they can help you become a more knowledgeable researcher?
I had some professional genealogists and data providers also contribute to the project to make it well rounded.
As you have come to this page I am sure that you must have an interest in family history and I am betting that you to have some brick walls to knock down as well. So take a look at the report below that is based on some of the material from the Family History Researcher course…
Atlas shows us how Britain’s landscape has changed over the last 500 years
Looking at this collection of 57 maps and you will be able to find England’s lost counties of Westmorland and Huntingdonshire
Find Parish borders that hark back to when people associated more with their Parish church than town hall
There is a newly published historic atlas of Great Britain online at Ancestry.co.uk that gives the family historian something of a unique view of the countries of England, Scotland and Wales stretching back over 500 years.
Digitised by the family history site Ancestry.co.uk, the Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, consists of fifty seven different maps of the counties of the U.K. What is interesting to me about this is it shows how Britain’s ancient parish and county boundaries have changed shape over the centuries.
We have all been there in our research. You may have lost someone from the records of a
particular county and thus you become stuck unless you can see the boundaries as they stood at the time that your ancestor was alive.
I was doing some research for a client whose ancestors came from Northfield. Today that is a suburb of Birmingham and so is in the West Midlands. At the time of their ancestor Northfield was in Worcestershire.
The subject of the research got married about ten miles away in Dudley, which was in Staffordshire at the time and today has its own archive service as it is a Metropolitan Borough. Thus to find the records of a family that lived in quite a small radius needs careful thought as to where to look.
This newly digitised Atlas is navigable online, users are able to scroll over whole counties and then use a zoom tool to go in and out. Useful if you need to identify the various local parishes, towns and the churches.
The original documents used in the atlas are from the resources of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.
Browsing the maps open up quite an insight into how England’s historical county maps didn’t change much for centuries, before many of the ancient counties were split up to make more governable areas.
In this atlas the county of Middlesex is shown as it was in the 19th century. At that time it consisted of what are today large swathes of modern London and so included the likes of Islington and Chelsea. London itself is a much smaller settlement that is barely more than one mile wide.
The Home Counties appear in their original form before the legislation of the London Government Act 1965 created Greater London. You will also be able to see the original boundary of the counties of Essex and Surrey when viewing the maps.
Other counties that are defunct today but can be traced in the atlas include Westmorland (today a part of Cumbria), and Huntingdonshire, which disappeared into Cambridgeshire following a Government Act in 1971. Lancashire is also to be found here in its original form, comprising of modern day Manchester and Liverpool and also various parts of Cumbria and Cheshire. It was subsequently reorganised and downsized, losing nearly a third of its area in the process.
Before the population of the country grew over the centuries and along with this regional administration developed, people were inclined to identify themselves more with their local parish when considering where they came from. As time moved on and these parish borders changed to such an extent that now it is almost impossible to determine the exact location of some parishes and their records using modern maps.
I have an interest in a small village that sits today in North west Leicestershire, but in years past was divided between Leicestershire but with pockets residing in Derbyshire and completely surrounded by Leicestershire on all sides!
The Atlas is thus an authoritative guide to the drastic changes in Britain’s county and parish borders over the last 500 years and a valuable way of adding geographical context to family history research.
The maps were the brainchild of Cecil Humphery-Smith, a genealogist and heraldist who founded the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, based in Canterbury, which promotes family history both through courses and its extensive library. He is, of course, the author of Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers.
At Ancestry.co.uk, the maps can now be searched and browsed by county. For family historians using Ancestry’s Lancashire Parish records as well as the 1851 Censuses and Free Birth, Marriage and Death Index will discover that every record in these collections links to a relevant map.
In addition, almost eight million new records have been added to the Lancashire Parish records currently available on Ancestry’s site.
Ancestry.co.uk Senior Content Manager Miriam Silverman comments: “The borders of the UK parishes and counties have changed so much over the last 500 years and that really makes these maps the key to navigating the past and progressing with your family history journey.”
To search the Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, as well as millions of additional birth, marriage and death records, visit www.Ancestry.co.uk.
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used in this post.
Sign up for a Diamond Annual Subscription for only £69.45 for the first year, with their cashback offer
When I took a look at my in-box this evening I discovered this generous offer from the team over at TheGenealogist.
As I know many of you are looking for alternative genealogical research sites, at the moment, then maybe now is the time to take advantage of this offer!
With the release of over 11 million Tithe Records, millions of parish records, the Image Archive, military records, occupational records and the International Headstone project, TheGenealogist is now offering family historians the opportunity to take a look at the useful resources now available on TheGenealogist at a special one-time reduced price.
With many genealogy sites in the UK struggling with implementing new features and layouts, TheGenealogist has maintained its popular user-friendly search tools that have helped enhance its growing reputation.
For those people that have never used TheGenealogist, the popular tools such as the keyword search, family forename search and address search are well worth taking a look at to help discover your ancestors. The new special offer gives you this opportunity with a £50 cashback when you purchase a Diamond subscription, making it just £69.45for a year!
This will give you unlimited access to unique record sets and powerful tools, to help you with your research. You’ll also get 12 free issues of Discover Your Ancestors Online Periodical worth £12!
Mark Bayley, Head of the Online Division comments: “There have been many reports recently in the news and social media, of users struggling with changes to genealogy websites. We’d like to reassure you that we are customer led. We listen, respond and react quickly to our users. Our site design is based on keeping things simple and developed through customer feedback.”
If you’re struggling with your current family history subscription, why not give TheGenealogist a try?
Get access to the widest range of records including unique resources, such as Tithe Records, Non-Conformist & Non-Parochial Records, Parish Records, Will Records with images, Military collections, and more by going for a Diamond subscription.
The cash back offer is open to all new customers, world wide.
With a little time on my hands this week I’ve been researching my late Godmother’s family, the Kerdals who ran a very successful shop in St Helier that went under the name of Maison Kerdal from at least the year 1893.
Monsieur and Madame Kerdal were French nationals who moved to Jersey, met and married in St Thomas’ church and set up a general grocer’s shop in St Helier. They then had several children including my godmother, whose nickname throughout her life was “Mimi”, though it bore no relation to her given names of Julia Marie Felicite.
Mimi, I can remember, had many tales to tell of her family and its business and at the time she was living I paid only a passing interest. It is so often the lament, of family historians, to claim that they wished they had taken more notice of these stories told by their seniors when alive, and in this case I can confirm that I again fall into this category.
So starting from my hazy recollections of Mimi’s remembrances I thought it was time to take a look at what records survive.
One of Mimi’s stories, that I recall, was of her saying that as a girl she was not at all interested in working in the shop and was once left in charge of it, in her parent’s absence, and simply threw the money given by the customers onto the shelf under the counter for her parents to account for on their return! This was recounted with a wicked grin on her elderly face as she felt sorry for the trouble she caused her parents.
Another memory was that her father moved the business, in the late 1800s, to a corner opposite the General Post Office in Grove Place, St Helier and then, when the GPO moved to Broad Street, he moved the family to live above a grander shop on the King Street/New Cut corner so as again to be close to the footfall that the Post Office provided.
My investigation, this week, began online at TheGeneoligist.co.uk to use their master search and found Julien Kerdal in the 1889 Kelly’s Directory of the Channel Isles at 7 Burrard Street in the trade of Wine and Spirit Merchant and in the 1911 Kellys listed as a Grocer at 45 King Street and again in 1939 as Wine and Spirit Merchant.
In the 1901 census, on TheGeneoligist, M.Kerdal has been listed as a Potato and Butter Merchant and in the 1911 in his own handwriting he has stated that he is simply a Grocer.
Mimi, meanwhile, was a boarder in 1911 in a convent school in Wales run by a group of French Nuns.
I then took a walk to the Jersey Archive. Here I looked at the parent’s Aliens Registration Cards (the children, being born in Jersey, were British and had no need for cards), the rates books to determine when each move was made, the death indexes – provided by the Channel Island Family History Society – to find when they died and where they were buried and the actual will testaments.
Armed with the information, I had gleaned, I was able to visit the sites of their various shops as they moved from Bath Street, to Burrard Street and then to King Street – the main high street of St Helier. I was able to pay a visit to the Almorah Cemetery, above St Helier, to find their graves and notice how so many are unloved and damaged by the years of rain and growth of holly and ivy.
Family history is an absorbing pastime when you mix together the dates, names and information that you obtain from a data collection, with a visit to the actual places where your forebears tread. It is then that it comes to life.
Check out the powerful Master Search tool that is a particularly different feature of TheGenealogist.co.uk where all the records on their site are easily accessible at the click of a button.
Allowing you to use one simple form to search across millions of records, including Parish Records, Wills, Newspapers, Census, Non-Conformist Registers, and more, I used this to research the Kerdal family online.
The simple to use interface allows you to search for a person, family, or an address, incorporating the previous searches such as the Family Forename Search, House & Street Search, and Keyword Master Search.
Disclosure: The above links are compensated affiliate links.
Wow, I’ve had a busy weekend, some of it spent looking around an old graveyard.
I couldn’t help but notice the number of military men that had been remembered in the words written on their headstones. Some listed the battles they fought in and some just their regiment, or ship in the case of those who served in the Royal Navy.
I did get to spend an hour, however, on the computer looking up the names of branches in my family in a new set of records just released by TheGenealogist.
In my Devon lines my family tree often gets stuck, when I try to push it back into the 18th century. But this week, using the new Militia Musters, just released online by TheGenealogist, I have found some promising leads. And shock horror…some of my Devon kin, especially the ones from Plymouth, may actually be from Cornwell as I note the names appearing in Musters in that county, while others are more definitely Devonian.
For the first time you can search early militia musters for all of England and Wales. The collection includes over 58,000 rare records of these part-time soldiers for 1781 and 1782. This is the largest number of surviving records available for this era.
This joins the largest collection of Army Lists available online establishing TheGenealogist as a major military research site.
The militia men were offered a bounty to transfer to the regular army and some did decide on a regular military career. If youâ€™re struggling to find out how your ancestor started their military career, the answer could be in the militia records!
In the troubled times of the 1700s, Britain faced a threat from the European powers of France, Spain and Holland at various times. All â€˜able-bodiedâ€™ men were considered for the militia and put on a â€˜militia ballot listâ€™. The chosen men then were required to meet or â€˜musterâ€™ at points for training. Four musters were taken over the time covered by the new records on TheGenealogist.
The records cover people from all walks of life who made up the officers and men, from M.P.â€™s to landowners, from carpenters to labourers, if they were physically up to it, they could be selected for the militia!
Regiments covered all of England and Wales and are represented in the new records. The records are from The National Archives series WO13 and feature the â€˜muster and pay listsâ€™ of all members of the militias. Men received â€˜Marching Moneyâ€™ when the militia was mobilised and were paid expenses for local meetings.
The new militia lists can further help track the movements and lives of our ancestors before census and civil registration times.
In an easy to search format, itâ€™s possible to search for an ancestor to see if they served in any of the militia regiments of England and Wales. Search by name and any relevant keyword, or use the advanced search to narrow it down to â€˜Corpsâ€™ , â€˜Companyâ€™ or the actual â€˜Rankâ€™ of the soldier.
Mark Bayley at TheGenealogist comments: â€œThese unique records really enhance our online military collection. Not all our ancestors served in the regular army and the part-time local militias were an essential part of the national defence, as was seen in the â€˜Battle of Jerseyâ€™ at the time, when the local militia fought admirably against the French and Dutchâ€.
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 their subscriptions.
I’ve been looking at some of my rural ancestors from Devon this weekend.
I found that they mostly had long lives, provided they survived through their childhood.
For example, one agricultural labourer (ubiquitous Ag.Lab in the census) reached his 91st birthday. Others died well into their late 80s.
By tracing the baptisms, of my direct ancestors in the parish records, I noticed that in the year 1830, before the census officials introduced the term Ag.Lab into general use, that my ancestor John Jarvis of South Huish, was recorded in the register for his son’s baptism as: Husbandman.
A husbandman is, according to the Oxford dictionary online: a person who cultivates the land; a farmer.
Origin: Middle English (originally in northern English use denoting the holder of a husbandland, i.e. manorial tenancy): from husband in the obsolete sense ‘farmer’ + man. Oxford English Dictionary Online.
So then I wondered how much, if any, land he may have had as a tenant and how could I find this out. The answer was the tithe maps, of course.
A quick online search and I discovered that Devon has a project to put the tithe apportionment documents and eventually the maps on the web.
Virtually every parish, from the beginning to the middle of the 1800s would have had tithe maps drawn up for their area. Accompanied by the apportionment records, which is the key to the tithe map. It tells the researcher who owned what pieces of land, what it was used for and the amount of payment due. The schedule is divided into columns:
1.Â Â Â Landowners
2.Â Â Â Occupiers â€“ if the landowner, this is shown as â€˜himselfâ€™, otherwise the tenantâ€™s name is given
3.Â Â Â The plot number referring to the tithe map
4.Â Â Â Name or description of the land, premises or field
5.Â Â Â State of cultivation e.g. arable, meadow, pasture, wood, garden, plantation
6.Â Â Â The size â€“ in acres, roods and perches
7.Â Â Â The money due to the Vicar
8.Â Â Â The money due to Impropriators
9.Â Â Â Any further remarks.
So what is a tithe?
The word literally means one-tenth. For centuries past the people were required to pay annual tithes, to their local parish church, to support it and its clergy.Â To begin with tithes were paid “in kind” which meant parishioners handing over one-tenth of their produce (corn, hay, vegetables, eggs, wool, animals, fish, flour etc.) As you would expect this made tithes unpopular.
In the 16th century the monasteries were dissolved and a great deal of former church property, including the rights to tithe, now passed into the hands of private individuals (‘Lay Impropriators’).
Those tithes that were now due to be paid to the Church of England still caused problems. There were no end of disputes over the values of land, processes and produce. On top of this was a reluctance by members of the other religious denominations to be forced to pay their tithes to the established state church.
To bring an end to these disputes, the Tithe Commutation Act was passed in 1836. Tithes were to be based on land values and converted to an annual money tax known as â€˜corn rentsâ€™ or â€˜tithe rent chargesâ€™. To get rid of the problem of variations from locality to locality the Tithe Commutation Act now fixed the payment based on the average price of wheat, barley and oats.
What did I find about John Jarvis?
Well there is certainly a man of this name listed in the ownership column along with that of the Earl of Devon who appears many times along side the names of others. John Jarvis was not, however, the occupier of the Orchards and arable land. This was a neighbour whose occupation on the census page is denoted as a Farmer.
So assuming that, in this tiny Devon hamlet, I have found the correct John Jarvis, then it would seem that he worked as a farm labourer, while renting out his own land to the farmer.
One of the lessons in my English and Welsh Family History course covers rural ancestors. Read more about this beginners to intermediate course here:
I’m very lucky to get all sorts of information sent to me, regarding family history, and this week I have interesting news about a new Apprentice and Masters database.
TheGenealogist has just released over one million Apprentice and master records for us to search online. This makes over two million searchable records when the apprentices from the census are included. What is more, these can both be searched together by using the keyword â€œapprenticeâ€ in TheGenealogistâ€™s Master Search.
The site helps you find detailed records relating to the occupation of your ancestor. This is the first time you can find apprentices from a whole range of records between 1710 and 1911.
TheGenealogist’s is the largest searchable collection of apprentice records available online, allowing you to view how your ancestors developed their skills and also if they became a master in their profession.
These detailed records in IR1 cover the years from 1710 to 1811 giving name, addresses and trades of the masters, the names of the apprentices, along with the sum the master received and the term of the apprenticeship. Until 1752, it was also common to see the names of the apprenticesâ€™ parents on the record (often including their occupations).
So if you want to take a look for your ancestors then the new records are available to their Diamond subscribers in the Master Search and under the â€˜Occupation Recordsâ€™ section.
What is great is that you can search for both Apprentices and Masters.
TheGenealogist allows you to view the full transcript of an apprenticeship record to see more details of your ancestors apprenticeship – including when they started their training, the â€˜Masterâ€™ who trained them and how long their apprenticeship was scheduled to be.
The Apprenticeship records provide an insight into a method of training that stood the test of time and are today, once again a popular method of training. Many apprentices did their training, worked their way up and then took on apprentices themselves. The Apprenticeship records allow you to trace this with just a few mouse clicks.
Then there is the handy keyword option. This also allows you to narrow down your search if you have an idea of the profession, or the area your ancestor worked in saving you even more time.
The new records are taken from the â€˜IR1 Board of Stamps: Apprenticeship Booksâ€™ from The National Archives. As well as the new collection of records, apprentices can also be discovered in the transcribed â€˜profession fieldâ€™ of census records on TheGenealogist from 1841 to 1911.
The apprentice training route has for many people set them on their way in their working life or as a way of developing others. From James Hargreaves (inventor of the spinning jenny) to Thomas Yeoman (first President of The Society of Civil Engineers), to Sir Michael Caine who started as an apprentice plumber) to Beatle George Harrison who was an apprentice electrician, they have all experienced the apprenticeship programme.
This traditional way of training young people is now regaining popularity as the benefits our ancestors recognised are re-introduced as a way of giving people a start in a career.
I’ve heard that some of Ancestry’s collections that were previously available as image-only on the site, have been indexed by the Ancestry World Archives Project (AWAP) a collaborative effort involving thousands of people around the world keying digital records to make them free for everyone.
The two in question are:
Middlesex County Records – Calendar of the Sessions Books 1690 â€“ 1709
Oxford â€“ Brasenose College Register 1509 – 1909
Established in 1509, Brasenose College is among the older colleges of Oxford University. The College Register lists thousands of people who passed through Brasenose from 1509 through 1909. The Register has been compiled from a variety of sources, including admission registers, buttery books (lists of payments by students for food and drink), lists of college officers and administrators, inscriptions on college monuments, newspaper clippings, lists of sporting groups, directories, and numerous biographical resources.
The Register is divided into chapters that categorize the college memberâ€™s involvement at the institution (e.g., visitors, principals, fellows, officers, scholars, etc.). Details included vary from chapter to chapter, but typically include the name and years of attendance, admission, or degree. Some death dates will be provided as well. Several pages of name changes appear in the book, and it also includes an index of names contained in the Register at the back.
Within the pages of the register, youâ€™ll find 400 years of Brasenose collegians, from sportsmen to lecturers, including:
Â· Henry Addington (Lord Sidmouth), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom: Henry Addington arrived at Brasenose in January 1774 at the age of sixteen, and took his B.A. degree in 1778.
Â· Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean Museum: Ashmoleâ€™s name appears in the accounts of Brasenose College in 1644. He studied mathematics and physics but did not take a degree.
Â· John Clavell, highwayman and playwright: John Clavell arrived at Brasenose in 1619 but did not take a degree. It appears that his criminal career began here, for in April 1621 he was granted a pardon for stealing plate from the College.
Â· William Webb Ellis, reputed founder of Rugby Football
Â· Arthur Evans, archaeologist: Sir Arthur Evans was the first undergraduate to take archaeology as a special subject in the Modern History School at Oxford. He came up to Brasenose in 1870 and took a first class degree in 1874.
Â· Thomas Traherne, poet: The son of a shoemaker, Thomas Traherne came to Brasenose at the age of fifteen in 1653 and took his B.A. in 1656.
Â· F.E. Weatherly, songwriter: Frederic Edward Weatherly, writer of over 3,000 songs including the famous â€˜Danny Boyâ€™ lyrics from Londonderry Air, came to Brasenose from Hereford Cathedral School in 1867, and was awarded a B.A. in Classics in 1871.
The other collection to now be indexed is:
Middlesex County Records – Calendar of the Sessions Books 1690 â€“ 1709
This book, originally published in 1905, is a calendar of the Sessions books for Middlesex County, 1690â€“1709. â€œSessionsâ€ refers to court sessions, which dealt with a broad range of issues. This calendar serves as an index that notes volumes and pages where items can be found in the Session books at the London Metropolitan Archives.
What You Can Find in the Records
Beginning at the start of the reign of William III and Mary II, this two-decade collection gives unique insights into the times and the day-to-day workings of the county. Many of the entries deal with provisions for the poor, with references to individuals in many cases. Examples include wounded soldiers and sailors, or women who had been deserted by their husbands. There are frequent entries referring to the â€œsettlementâ€ of individuals between parishes. Right of settlement was an important issue in determining which parish was responsible for poor relief for an individual.
The calendar notes punishments for crimes, which may involve sentencing to imprisonment or, more commonly, fines, time in a pillory, or whippings.
The court heard cases on the parentage of illegitimate children and requests for terminating apprenticeships. Appointments to public positions are mentioned, and youâ€™ll find entries regarding payments for work done on roads and other civic improvements.
Nonconformists needed licenses for assemblies of more than five persons, and you can find memorandums regarding these licenses among the records. Some Catholics were listed as â€œsuspected papistsâ€ who had refused to take oaths of allegiance to the king and queen.
Licenses were also required for alehouses, and there are complaints about alehouses and suppression or revocation of licenses where owners had â€œsuffered visits from prostitutesâ€ or otherwise run afoul of the prevailing laws.
References to the military can include soldiers seeking relief, debtors being released from prison to serve in the army or navy, and relief for the spouses of soldiers and sailors.
Beyond the names of individuals, youâ€™ll gain insights into the times through legislation aimed at bettering communities and conditions at institutions such as prisons.
So you may want to head over to Ancestry.co.uk to take a look at these newly indexed records.
Disclosure: The links in this post are compensated affiliate links that may mean I get compensated by Ancestry.co.uk should you purchase a subscription from them.
Many of us will find that we have a male ancestor who has served in the British Army at some point during their lives. A smaller percentage of our women forebears will also have served the country but before 1949 women are found primarily as nurses, or in the auxiliary corps, and not in the Army as they could be today.
I recently set out to look for one of my ancestors and where I began searching for him depended on whether he had been an officer or a regular soldier as the records of ‘Officers’ are generally quite separate from the sources for those soldiers of the ‘Other Ranks’.
A second consideration, to take into account, was his dates of service.
In a lesson that I am including in my Family History Researcher course I will be covering some of the key resources that a person may want to use in their research. Some of these records are available online, while for others you will have to visit the National Archives (TNA) in person at their address in Kew.
TNA have an ongoing project to make scanned copies of their documents available via their online catalogue and so it’s well worth checking whether the information that you are looking for has been digitised before making a special visit.
I read some time back that it is recommended by various military historians that once an individual’s regiment or corps has been identified a researcher’s initial approach should then be to the appropriate regimental or corps museum.
I found my ancestor served in the 17th foot Leicestershire Regiment joining in 1864 as an Ensign, or junior officer and so I paid a visit to Leicester.
You can find details of these regimental and corps museums on the Army Museums Ogilby Trust’s website at:
On another visit to The National Archives I took the opportunity to take a look at their copies of Hartâ€™s Army Lists, while there, and in the 1866 edition on the pages to the 17th Foot, The Leicestershire Regiment I found the entry for my great-great grandfather Ensign Edward A Massy Hay,Â 31 May 64.
For those who want to search the Army lists online then TheGenealogist has made this possible at their website having added a useful range from 1661 to 1940.
I have decided to reopen the membership to a second tranche of students now. So if you want to join my Family History Researcher course – aimed at beginners to intermediate researchers of English and Welsh family history – then click the image below.