Family History Research in England & Wales: The 1939 Register is coming!

 

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News out today from the British-owned online family history company DC Thomson Family History (the people behind findmypast amongst other websites) and The National Archives that they are entering into a joint project to make the records of 40 million civilians held in the 1939 register available online.

When they have got this data digitised, it is estimated by the company that the collection will comprise of near enough 1.2 million scanned full-colour images of documents. As the records cover the entire civilian population of England & Wales at the outbreak of WWII, this is quite a significant release for those of us researching our English or Welsh family tree.

What was the 1939 register?

It was taken on 29 September 1939 by the British Government and recorded personal details of individuals in order to issue identity cards and ration books. In later years it became the basis of the National Health Service’s records.

Findmypast say that , when complete, the 1939 register will be fully searchable online for the first time, opening up the past to a new generation of family and social historians, just as the 1911 census did on its release in 2009.

So what can we expect to find once this set becomes available to us?

The records contain the address, full name, date of birth, sex, marital status and occupation of individuals, as well as changes of name. Although the Register is literally within living memory for many people, information about living individuals will be kept closed for 100 years from their year of birth, or until proof of death has been authenticated.

From today, anybody interested in being kept informed about the project can register at www.1939register.co.uk.

Annelies Van Den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History said: “This announcement is great news not just for British family historians and those with British relatives, but for anyone with an interest in history itself; providing a fascinating snapshot of the country as it stood on the edge of the most widespread conflict in human history.

“This significant project will bring these records to a global audience for the first time, and combined with the 1.8 billion records already available on our websites will make it easier than ever to begin your family history journey and uncover the powerful stories that lie within and that make us who we are.”

Mary Gledhill, Commercial Director, at The National Archives, added: “The National Archives is delighted to be working with DC Thomson Family History to open up this unique record collection to the world, allowing history enthusiasts to discover more about the people at the outbreak of the Second World War. In the absence of a 1931 and 1941 census, this collection is all the more valuable to family historians trying to trace their ancestors.”

The 1939 register project is the latest contract to be awarded to DC Thomson Family History by The National Archives. Record sets previously digitised by the company in association with The National Archives include Crime, Prisons and Punishment; outbound passenger lists; British Army Service records; Merchant Navy Seamen’s records; Maritime Birth, Marriage and Death indexes and the 1911 census.

Great news for those of us researching our recent ancestors from England & Wales. One of the most anticipated family history projects since the 1911 census.


Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used in this post.

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Black Sheep in the Family Tree

 

Hangman's noose

Hangman’s noose

Finding a criminal in our past family can embarrass some of us, while others are simply tickled pink to think they are descended from a rogue or two. This is especially true when the criminal ancestors are a few generations back and so not too frighteningly near.

One of the problems, for the family historian, is that any black sheep in our family were probably not too keen on giving their true name when apprehended. So when searching for them on census night they may be frustratingly missing, unless they are locked up by courtesy of His or Her Majesty in one of the crown’s prisons.

Census records for Wormwood Scrubs, Parkhurst, Pentonville, Strangeways and Dartmoor are available in the normal census collections at Ancestry,   Findmypast   and  TheGenealogist.

You may also come across the census records for the county gaol, such as the one in Exeter for the County of Devon.

I was looking this week at some of the online resources for criminal records such as the England and Wales Criminal Registers 1791-1892 at Ancestry.co.uk. These register books include a brief bit of information from the Quarter Session Trials.

I didn’t manage to identify an ancestor but I got drawn into wondering about the story of a person with my surname from my ancestor’s county who in 1834 at the age of 43 was sentenced to be transported for 7 years for larceny.

 

And then there was one Janus Majaval, aged 22 and sentenced to death along with several others at the Devon County Assizes on the 19th July 1845. All the condemned men carried Iberian sounding names and their crime was Murder on the High Seas.

 

Find your ancestors today with a FREE 14 day trial to Ancestry.co.uk – Click here!

Disclosure: All links are compensated affiliate links which may mean I will be rewarded by the websites should you buy a subscription.

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TheGenealogist adds 90,000 Criminal Records to their site

 

Criminal Records

I see that TheGenealogist.co.uk has released a whole batch of records that are great for finding any ancestors of yours who may have fallen foul of the law!

Its a set of 90,000 Criminal records, which cover indictable offences in England and Wales between 1782 and 1892, that they have added to their website  for Diamond members and these records also uniquely cover prisoners ‘pardoned’, criminal charges and those classed as ‘criminal lunatics’.

Coming from  The National Archives the records cover the following:

  • HO27 – Criminal Registers, England and Wales
    Registers of all persons in England and Wales charged with indictable offences showing the results of the trials, the sentences in case of conviction, and dates of execution of persons sentence to death.
  • HO13 – Criminal Entry Books
    Lists of pardons.
  • HO20/13 – Prisons Correspondence and Papers
    Including Bethlehem Hospital criminal lunatics and other asylums.
  • CRIM1 – Central Criminal Court Depositions
    Statements on oath used in evidence in trials at the Old Bailey and pardons if granted.

As TheGenealogist says in its newsletter this month, “the 1800s in England and Wales was a place where it was not difficult to get into trouble and end up facing a severe punishment, perhaps even the death penalty. These new records may help shed light on a family relative who broke the Law and paid the consequences.”

Some of us love to unearth the odd black-sheep in the family. So take a look here and join their Diamond level membership to take advantage of this data:

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

Disclosure: The links above are compensated affiliate links and may result in me being compensated by TheGenealogist.co.uk should you buy their products.

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Find Any Villains Or Victims Lurking In Your Family History

I got a Press Release today from Find My Past that I find really interesting.

Its about a new set of criminal records they are publishing on their site and I wanted to share this with you as soon as possible!

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2.5 MILLION CRIMINAL RECORDS TO BE PUBLISHED ONLINE FOR FIRST TIME

FIND ANY VILLAINS OR VICTIMS LURKING IN YOUR FAMILY HISTORY

The biggest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales is being published online for the first time by leading family history site www.findmypast.co.uk in association with The National Archives.

Over 2.5 million records dating from 1770-1934 will be easily searchable and provide a wide variety of colour, detail and fascinating social history, chronicling the fate of criminals ranging from fraudsters, counterfeiters, thieves and murderers and their victims.

They contain mugshots, court documents, appeal letters, examples of early Edwardian ‘ASBOs’- where habitual drunks were banned from pubs and entertainment venues –and registers from the prison ‘hulk’ ships, which were used when mainland prisons were overcrowded. One such hulk, the ‘Dolphin’, housed 6,000 prisoners between 1829 and 1835.

There are details of Victorian serial killers including Amelia Dyer, who, between 1880 and 1896, is believed to have murdered 400 babies by strangling them with ribbon and dumping them in the Thames. She was hanged at Newgate Prison in 1896 aged 57.

Another particularly gruesome murderer who appears in the Crime, Prisons and Punishment records is Catherine Webster, who killed widow Julia Martha Thomas, 55. She pushed her down the stairs, then strangled her, chopped up her body and boiled it. Julia’s head was found in David Attenborough’s garden in 2010.

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk , said: “We have been eagerly anticipating the launch of these records that provide an amazing opportunity to trace any villains and victims in your own family.

“We have painstakingly published online entire registers containing mugshots of habitual drunks that feature incredible descriptions of criminals’ appearances, demeanour and identifying marks.

“The newspaper articles that are available on findmypast.co.uk provide unparalleled detail and show how the crimes were reported when they were committed. This supplements the new criminal records and makes searching through as enjoyable as it is easy, whether you are researching your own family history or are interested in social history.”

Paul Carter, Principle Modern Domestic records specialist at The National Archives added: “These records span several government series and show the evolution of the criminal justice system in the nineteenth century as the country dealt with the impact of industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth.

“They record the intimate details of hundreds of thousands of people, beginning with judges’ recommendations for or against pardons, to petitions through which criminals and their families could offer mitigating circumstances and grounds for mercy, and later, licences containing everything from previous convictions to the state of a prisoner’s health.

“As well as the Georgian highway robber, the Victorian murderer and the Edwardian thief, the courts often dealt with the rural poacher, the unemployed petty food thief or the early trade unionist or Chartist. The records are a fascinating source for family, local and social historians.”

 

The information in the records comes from a variety of Government departments including the Home Office, Prison Commission, Metropolitan Police, Central Criminal Court and the Admiralty. The records from 1817-1931 will be published first followed by the period 1770-1934 in the coming months.

The Crime, Prisons and Punishment records will also be available online at findmypast.ie, findmypast.com and findmypast.com.au as part of a World subscription.

Take a look now at this link:

Find My Past


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