If you caught the BBC TV programme Who Do You Think You Are? this week then you too were treated to a really interesting story.
It was that of Billy Connolly and in particular his ancestral links back to India.
His maternal great-great-grandfather was a soldier in British India who married the daughter of another British soldier. One who had seen the atrocities of the Indian Mutiny first hand and who himself was married to a young Indian girl at the time.
The Anglo-Indian aspect is another fascinating subject that could be examined in detail, but today I wanted to concentrate on the 1857 Indian Mutiny, as the British called it, or the First War of Indian Independence, as it is known to Indians.
What was good about this episode of the TV series was that it explained a bit about this historical time. There were brutal killings on both sides and it reminded me to go and look in my notes for an inscription that I had once seen on a headstone in one of the old cemeteries here on the other side of the world in Jersey, Channel Islands. There is no connection to Billy Connolly other than it is a person who also witnessed the brutality that his ancestor had in Northern India and the effect that it had on her.
Last year I was looking at some of the old Victorian monuments in Mont A L’Abbe Old Graveyard in Jersey when I came across this one:
Lavinia Fanny Kelly Hicks
Granddaughter of the above Mary Symons and the beloved wife of Captain W.J. Hicks H.M.E.I.S, who died at sea on her homeward voyage on the 28th of April 1858 in the 19th year of her age. Her constitution having been destroyed by the suffering she experienced during the mutiny at Allahabad.
So many other questions spring to mind from this.
This particular headstone can be viewed in its entirety as part of the Diamond subscription of TheGenealogist. This site has published photographs and transcriptions from several churchyards and cemeteries and I am told by my contacts at TheGenealogist that there are more to come in the future months.
Just search for Lavina Hicks and you can see the actual headstone that I was so moved by.
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used above.
As I mentioned last time, there are occasions where you find something in the BMD indexes and you canâ€™t get to Royal Square in time to see the certificates. But there are two sets of data in the Archive that can help you to nail dates of marriages and deaths down.
The first is what is referred to as the â€œthird copyâ€ of the marriage registers. Individual parishes maintain their own registers and then send copies of the certificates to the Superintendent Registrar to compile the full volumes. However, in between the two the Superintendent Registrar maintains draft registers â€“ and it is this that the Archive now possesses.
To access the draft registers, you need to use the Reference search facility on the OPAC. The collection reference you need is D/E: this will get you to the top of the collection. Reference D/E/B covers the third copy, and you will find that itâ€™s divided into individual collections from specific Church of England churches and general collections of nonconformist and civil marriages from 7 parishes. Itâ€™s not quite a complete set, but the vast majority of material is there and you will find that most of the time there is at least some degree of correlation between the indexes and the draft registers.
The Archive also received a major deposit from a local funeral director the other year, containing records of seven of their predecessor companies, some of which go back to about 1820. Again, youâ€™ll need to use the OPACâ€™s Reference Search, and this time the collection reference is L/A/41. Be aware that for any given period you may have to look at two or three different companiesâ€™ books â€“ but feel free to enlist the help of the volunteer from the Channel Islands Family History Society if you need advice. These records are fascinating, because they will tell you not only who was buried when, but how â€“ the relative spends on funerals vary from parsimonious to lavish â€“ and also who paid for it.