Changes on Genes Reunited

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Genes Reunited website

I see that some important changes that have taken place on Genes Reunited over the last few weeks.  They have added another two key record sets namely: the 1911 and the 1881 census. The 1911 census is the most recent census set to be released and provides in depth details including the following:

  • Your ancestor’s names and addresses
  • How long they have been married
  • How many children they have had
  • How many rooms there were in their house

Some other records that they’ve added include the overseas and military birth, marriage and death records. This is good for those of us that use this website as we are now able to discover information regarding the births, marriages and deaths of British relations that have taken place abroad since the late 18th century on this site.

See  for your self at: Genes Reunited. Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Clandestine Marriages

Today I wanted to look at Clandestine marriages!

Well what are they you cry?

The answer is that “Clandestine” marriages were weddings that perhaps had an element of secrecy attached to them.

They may have taken place in another part of the country away from a home parish, and probably without either banns being read or a marriage licence obtained. The secrecy could have been for all sorts of reasons for example lack of parental consent; or more salaciously where bigamy was involved.

The facts that fees were paid to the clergymen meant that some were willing to conduct such marriage ceremonies. What is more the number of such unions were quite enormous, particularly in London.

You will find that certain churches were important centres for such “trade”and in the 1740s, over half of all London weddings were taking place in the environs of the Fleet Prison and not all the brides and grooms would have been from the capital city.

“Fleet Marriages” were performed by bogus priests and disgraced ordained clergy. Although there were most probably earlier ones, the earliest Fleet Marriage on record is 1613, while the earliest recorded in a Fleet Register took place in 1674.

The Fleet was a jail and so, as such, claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the church. The prison warders took a share of the profit, even though a statute of 1711 imposed fines upon them for doing so. What this did was move the clandestine marriage trade outside of the prison. It was in the lawless environs of the Fleet that many debtors lived and some of them may well have been disgraced clergymen. Marriage houses or taverns now carried on the trade, encouraged by local hostelry keepers who sought out business by employing touts to actively solicit custom for them.

If you wish to search for these Clandestine marriages on line then you are in luck as you can find them at: www.ancestry.co.uk (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.)Ancestry.co.uk on a computer screenTheir London Marriage Licences data set allows you access to the details of more than 25,000 marriages in London spanning four centuries.

This collection is not just about “Fleet marriages” but is for unions made outside church approval – those away from the spouses’ normal parish and often you will be able to find the names of brides and grooms, parents and witnesses as well as residence, age of spouses and the occupation of the groom. This collection has marriage licences granted in the dioceses of London by the Bishop’s office from 1521 to 1828, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster’s office from 1599 to 1699 and two offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1543 to 1869 and 1660 to 1679 and so is an important resource for the family historian.

Take a look at Ancestry.co.uk.

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Vive La Différence! Revealed: Brits Love to Hate the French

Research reveals Brits think the French are arrogant, unhelpful and rude – but wouldn’t change a thing about them!

Research published to celebrate an archive of 16.3 million Parisian births, marriages and deaths launched online by Ancestry.co.uk in April 2010 (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.)

Records detail 200 years of French history

Three million Brits have French ancestry

In a world first, one of the UK’s top family history websites, Ancestry.co.uk has launched online 16.3 million historic French birth, marriage and death records – a collection of huge significance to the estimated three million Britons with French ancestry.

After Irish blood, French ancestry is the most common in the UK with 1 in 20 Brits having French ancestors, including TV presenters Davina McCall and Louis Theroux, comedian Noel Fielding and Harry Potter star Emma Watson and myself!Ancestry.co.uk

I found that my Scottish line surnamed Hay were actually descended from a Norman called De la Haye. I also have a grandfather, on my mother’s side, whose surname is Renaux and so is assumed to be from French stock.

Yet despite these close links with France, we’re unlikely to be donning berets on this side of the channel just yet. According to an online survey of 9,357 adults, conducted in October 2009 by Zoomerang research, and covering tourists from the UK, Germany, Canada, the USA and France, nearly half of Brits think Parisians are arrogant, aloof and unhelpful (45 per cent), whilst 41 per cent suspect Parisians avoided helping tourists by pretending not to speak English on their last visit to the city.

Other unappealing experiences include extortionate food and drink prices, appalling driving and excessive dog excrement on the streets.

Yet, this negative view doesn’t stop us from loving ‘belle Paris’ and in particular the French culture, with 7 in 10 visitors saying would recommend the city to a friend and a third (33 per cent) saying the rude behaviour of residents is all part of the experience.

This research has been released to celebrate the online launch of over 200 years of Parisian history in the Paris, France & Vicinity Vitals, 1700-1907 on Ancestry.co.uk, which features 16.3 million records of births, marriages and deaths from the dawn of the 18th century.

The collection contains in-depth information about the individuals featured; including their name, details of their spouse and parents, birth place, occupation, residence, age, details of marriage and date and place of death.

These ‘vital records’, so called because of their immense genealogical value, will provide the building blocks for Brits to discover their French roots, enabling them to trace the birth, marriage or death of an ancestor living in Paris and the capital’s vicinity, from the 18th to 20th centuries.

Among these historic Parisians are some of the city’s greatest artists and famous historical figures listed, including:

Edgar Degas – the French artist, regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, appears in the birth records on the 19th July 1834

Baron Gaspard Gourgaud – the burial of the Napoleonic general Gourgaud, who once saved the life of the emperor from a gunpowder plot, is listed on the 25th July 1852

Gustave Moreau – the birth of the Symbolist painter, known for his works depicting biblical and mythological figures, is recorded on the 6th April 1826

Many of these records were compiled by the prominent genealogist Maurice Coutot in 1924. He used parish church records to fill the void that was left by the destruction of all of the pre-1860 civil registration records for Paris, which were burnt in a fire during the French Revolution.

Ancestry.co.uk International Content Director Dan Jones comments: “Paris is an enchanting city with a rich history that Brits have been drawn to for centuries, so for many it will be a thrill to discover that they may have close ancestral ties to France.

“Making these Parisian records available will help many British people out there with French heritage trace their continental roots.”

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Help Me Understand the Census Images

1871 Census on Computer ScreenThe censuses can baffle people beginning family history, when they first encounter them. You go on to a commercial site and pay to download the image of your long lost ancestors and you are presented with an official form covered in sometimes difficult to read handwriting and what looks like lots of lines crossing out some of the data.

Lets start at the top!

The Header.

The Header contains the Location. That is broken down into sub sections, for example: the administrative county; the civil parish, etc. Boundaries were constantly changing and although it may appear that your ancestor has moved between the census, it could just have been a change in administrative division that had taken place. Also beware of house number changes or street name changes. I had one in my tree where 2 Densham Terrace, was 80 North Road and is now 199 North West Road, Plymouth!

Schedule Numbers.

The column on the far left of the document is the Schedule Number and NOT the house number! With the exception of the 1911 census, what we are looking at, when we download a census, is a page from the Enumerator’s book. The far left column, then, lists the number of the original schedule filled in by the head of the household. These schedules are not available any more with the exception of the 1911, which is why you can get to see the handwriting of the person that filled it in!

Names.

Beware that ancestors can vary their names across census! My Great Aunt Winnie appears as Eveline Winnifred and Winnifred Eveline on different census. A middle name may make an appearance after the death of a mother and if someone was know by a pet name, like one of my grandmothers, then this may be put down instead of her actual name. One more thing, north of the border it was usual for Scottish widows to revert to their maiden names.

Professions.

We all like to exaggerate a bit and so did our ancestors. A carpenter may become a Cabinet Maker or a merchant seaman a master mariner. Another thing to think about is where your ancestor had two or more jobs. Which went down on the schedule?

Place of Birth.

This could change depending on your ancestor actually knowing it. But also consider when a county changed its name or its boundaries moved, your ancestor’s place of birth has just changed.

If Deaf and Dumb; Blind, Lunatic, Imbecile or Feeble Minded.

Don’t fear the worst as this covers a variety of medical conditions with little option for degree of ailment. The options offered are a bit stark to the modern politically correct twenty-first century dweller.

Double strokes.

As you scroll down the page you will notice someone has inserted two parallel lines next to the names of some people. What does this mean? This indicates where the next household starts. So between the first // and the second all those names are considered to be part of the same household.

So, the downloadable census collections are a great tool for the family historian, providing us with fantastic insight into our departed family, but the information has the ability to confuse as well as to inform.

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