The Value of a Visit To an Archive

 

Lloyd's Register of Shipping

I’ve been on a little road trip around the UK recently. Some of you may know that I live in St Helier in the Channel Island of Jersey and so a trip to the mainland with the car on the fast ferry needs some planning.

Although having been born in Jersey ( not “on Jersey” if you are an islander, you’ll understand) my family roots, however, are north a bit in England and Scotland. Although my Scots line turns out to be Norman when you trace it back to the 12th century, but that is another story.

Last week, with the freedom of my own car, I was able to go to the County Record Office in Dorchester, the Guildhall Library in London, the Portsmouth History Centre in the central library there and many other places as well that were not especially connected to family history.

My purpose in the Guildhall library was quite specific. I was there to look at their extensive run of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping. I spent a good few hours going through the old books looking for the details of an iron built paddle steamer to find the name of its Captain.

Now while I could have accessed copies online at the really useful resource of the Crew List Project website www.crewlist.org.uk/

What I gained from handling the actual books was a greater familiarity with their layout and content. I was able to read the rules and regulations that they set out for the construction of vessels and what was very interesting was to find that at the back of each register was a set of alphabetical pages that listed new vessels to the registers that year. If I had been searching online I would never have come across those extra pages of ships and so I could have missed an entry that was in the book after all.

A lesson to us all that not everything is online and also the value of the fantastic resource that an actual archive and a visit to one affords the serious family historian.

As to my other archive visits, I’ll talk about them in another post!

One of the tutorials in my new course the Family History Researcher Academy, is on the Merchant Navy. If you want to get on board, so to speak, its available at www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

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Finding Ships That my Merchant Navy Ancestors Sailed

 

Captain Henry Thomas Thorne on the GWR Dolphin, Dartmouth, Devon.
Captain Henry Thomas Thorne on the GWR Dolphin, Dartmouth, Devon.

I have a bit of salt in my blood, especially on my paternal side. This week I’ve been using the Crew List Index Project (CLIP) website to find out a bit more about some of them.

CLIP was set up to improve access to the records of British merchant seafarers of the late 19th century and has gathered the largest database of entries from crew lists.

While I was not successful in tracking down a crew list for the particular ship I was looking at this week I did manage to use their finding aids to flesh out a bit more information on a couple of vessels that my family have sailed.

 

On CLIP’s website they have a useful finding aid tool http://www.crewlist.org.uk/data/data.html

Selecting the Vessels by Name I was able to find the Official number for the  S.S. Dolphin and then I could  find her in a list that gave me her date and place where she was built and the address of her owners.

You need to tie a ship down to its official number as there may be several vessels of the same name, as is the case with the Dolphin. Also a ship may change its name in its lifetime but the official number is unique to it and never changes.

I found a reference to the Dolphin in a document in The National Archives which I will take a look at the next time I visit Kew and the TNA.

Using Google Books I was able to call up a Lloyd’s Register of Shipping but this time I could find no entry for this particular Dolphin. I have to say that I am only just starting out on this research and it is turning out to be fascinating. I will put what I learn about the process into a forthcoming lesson within my Family History Researcher course, which can be accessed by clicking the image below.

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Average London Property in 1910 Valued at Just £14,000, Compared to £430,500 Today

Recently I have seen that Ancestry.co.uk has launched on-line the Land Tax Valuations from 1910 London. Now we all know that property goes up and down, with most home owners expecting that the long term trend is up. Well this data collection reveals that the historic values of some of the capital’s most famous streets and landmarks from just over a century ago and no surprises that they were lower then than they are today.

Originally the records were compiled in 1910, from across the UK as part of David Lloyd George’s 1910 Finance Act and later refereed to as the ‘Domesday Survey’. The reason behind the government gathering this information was as a means to redistribute wealth through the assessment of land value.

What do the records contain for family historians? There is a listing of the owners and occupiers of the properties and it includes the address, value and annual rental yield for the properties in London in the early 20th century.

The average 1910 property could be purchased for a price tag of just £14,000, it would seem – almost 3,000 per cent less than today.

Of particular interest are the values of famous landmarks included in the collection. The Bank of England; worth a mere £110,000 in 1910, the Old Bailey; worth just £6,600, and Mansion House; which contrastingly was valued at an impressive £992,000. St Paul’s Cathedral also features, but without a valuation as it is listed as ‘exempt’ from tax.

Perhaps more surprising is that the media-hub Fleet Street, was then home to numerous newspapers from outside of London including the Liverpool Courier, Yorkshire Evening News and the Newcastle Chronicle! A property on Fleet Street cost an average of £25,000 in 1910, compared to £1.2 million today.
The records provide us with a valuable snapshot of the ownership of land at the beginning of the 20th century. It may help those with ancestors who appear in the collection to find out more about their forebears respective financial situations and the lives they led a hundred years ago.

Ancestry.co.uk International Content Director Dan Jones, whom I interviewed recently at Who Do You Think You Are? Live about their website, comments: “These records are especially useful as a census substitute for people tracing their London ancestors who may not have been captured in the England and Wales 1911 Census.

“The collection offers a fascinating insight into our capital at the beginning of the 20th century – a time when Britain was on the verge of major social, political and economic change.”

The collection complements the extensive census records, ranging from 1841 to 1901, already online at Ancestry.co.uk.

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