Non-Conformist Family History and Bunhill Fields

 

Bunhill Fields

I’ve just been on a visit to the City of London and while on my way to a meeting I realised I was passing the famous nonconformist burial ground of Bunhill Fields!

It was back in 1665 that the City of London Corporation hit on the idea of making use of some of the fen in this area as a common burial ground for the interment of bodies of the City’s inhabitants who had died of the plague and could not be accommodated in the churchyards.

The burial ground then went on to attract those people who were mainly Protestant but who dissented from the Established Church. The reason for this was the predominance of such citizens in the City of London over others who did not conform to the Church of England’s ways, such as the Catholics or Jews. Not withstanding this, Bunhills burial ground was open for interment to anyone who could afford to pay the fees.
Bunhill Fields Burial ground
The end of this burial ground was to come after the 1852 Burial Act was passed. This piece of  legislation enabled places such as Bunhill Fields to be closed, once they had become full. For Bunhills, its Order for closure was made in December 1853. The records show that the final burial  was for Elizabeth Howell Oliver and this took place on January 5 1854. By that date approximately 120,000 interments had taken place.

Nearby can be found the Quaker Burial ground, known as Quaker Gardens. These are on the other side of Bunhill Row to the main nonconformist grounds and contains the burial plot of George Fox, who founded the Quakers.

In many other parts of the country nonconformists would simply have made use of the Parish church yard until public cemeteries became the norm for internment. True that there are a few nonconformist burial grounds in other parts of the country but many were miles away from where the deceased lived and so it was more practical to be buried in the church yard along with their Church of England neighbours.

 

 

For those of you researching Parish Records and Non-Conformist Records my advice is to go and look at what TheGenealogist has to offer:

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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.

 

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Records of Mechanical and Civil Engineers published online

 

Ancestry.co.uk

 

I’ve just had an email from Ancestry and have immediately checked out their new records of Civil and Mechanical Engineers to see if I could find any of my engineer ancestors. If you have any that followed this career path then I’d recommend you too have a look now!

Just before I jump back to the data, that I have open in another window, here is their press release…

 

 

 

Today Ancestry.co.uk, has launched online for the first time the Civil and Mechanical Engineer Records, 1820-1930, detailing almost 100,000 of Britain’s brightest inventors and innovators from the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

The digitised records were collated from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and reveal fascinating details about the institutions’ members, including pioneers of automobiles, bicycles and even hydropower.

 

Many were behind some of the notable inventions of the age, including one of the foremost designers of the internal combustion engine (Ricardo) and even an early sniper rifle (Whitworth). Others created some weird and wonderful designs, including a cucumber straightener (Stephenson), an elaborate mousetrap, and early forms of amusement rides (both Maxim).

 

The collection comprises membership records and photographs of engineers who were members of both institutions between 1820 and 1930, and provides a unique insight into their careers and accomplishments.

 

Before the 1700s, engineers in Europe had been almost all military men. Although civil engineering work had been carried out before then, it had not been recognised as an identifiable profession. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) was formed in 1818 with a mission to ‘foster and promote the art of civil engineering’.

 

Founded in 1847, IMechE was formed for the growing number of mechanical engineers who were employed in the flourishing railway and manufacturing industries. The institution’s first president, rail pioneer George Stephenson is known for designing the ‘Geordie lamp’ used by miners. A record of Stephenson’s membership appears in the collection, along with a photograph.

 

Other famous engineers who appear in the collection include:

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel – Brunel was known for building dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering. Brunel’s membership form for the Civil Engineers isincluded in the collection, dated 27 January 1829.
  • Sir John Rennie – In 1815 Rennie assisted his father, who was another famous engineer, in the erection of Southwark Bridge, and later undertook the construction of London Bridge in 1824, which was opened in 1831, the same year he was knighted. His membership was passed by the council of the Mechanical Engineers in 1844 after ‘many years in the profession’.
  • Christopher Hinton – Hinton was a British nuclear engineer and supervisor of the construction of Calder Hall, the world’s first large-scale commercial nuclear power station. Born in 1901, Hinton’s application to join the Mechanical Engineers is in the records, dated 1921.  

 

Sir F Henry Royce is another famous engineer listed in the records; he is known globally as the co-founder of the quintessentially British Rolls-Royce manufacturing company where his engineering legacy lives on today. Frederick W. Lanchester, another of the so-called ‘big three’ English car engineers, celebrated for his innovative work on gas and petrol engines as well as his later research into aeronautics and flight theory, is also featured.

 

Aside from cars, prolific railway engineer Thomas Brassey appears in the records. Upon his death in 1870, Brassey was responsible for one in every 20 miles of railway in the world. Irishman Thomas Andrews is also listed as the chief naval architect of the ill-fated Titanic and he lost his life on its maiden voyage in 1912.

 

ICE received a royal charter in 1828 and by the end of the 19th century had become both an educational and qualifying body when it introduced examinations for civil engineers.

 

IMechE started graduate examinations in 1913 and elected its first female member, Verena Holmes, in 1924. She got her first job building wooden propellers at the Integral Propeller Company in Hendon and went on to patent many of her own inventions including medical headlamps, poppet valves and apparatus for treating patients with tuberculosis. ICE’s first female member, Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan, is also included in the records, becoming a member in 1927.

 

Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “Included within this collection are some of the brightest brains Britain has ever produced, who were responsible for some of the country’s most iconic landmarks and feats of innovative design. Today, as it was then, engineering is a vital part of the country’s economy and it is fascinating to be able to learn more about the men and women who established this legacy.

 

“Not only do these records provide a unique insight into engineering during the 19th and 20th centuries but they will provide a valuable resource for anybody trying to trace an ancestor within the collection.”

 

The new database comprises three collections; the Mechanical Engineer Records, 1870-1930, the Civil Engineer Records, 1820-1930 and the Civil Engineer Photographs, 1829-1923, each of which is available to view from today online at Ancestry.co.uk.

 

 

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Lives of the First World War

IWM & brightsolid partner to create digital platform:

Lives of the First World War

Just heard this news from brightsolid…

IWM (Imperial War Museums) and brightsolid, the online publishing and technology arm of publishing group DC Thomson, are working in partnership to create Lives of the First World War – an innovative and interactive digital platform to mark the First World War Centenary.

 

Lives of the First World War will hold the stories of over 8 million men and women who served in uniform and worked on the home front. It will be the official place for communities across the world to connect, explore, reveal and share even more about these people’s lives.

 

This innovative platform will bring fascinating records from museums, libraries, archives and family collections across the globe together in one place. The team behind Lives of the First World War are working with national and international institutions and archives to make this happen.

 

Over the course of the centenary, Lives of the First World War will become the permanent digital memorial to more than 8 million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth – a significant digital legacy for future generations.

 

The platform will go live later this year, in time for the start of centenary commemorations from summer 2014. Further information, including a short film about Lives of the First World War can now be found at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org.

 

Diane Lees, Director-General of IWM said: “The Imperial War Museum was established while the First World War was still being fought to ensure that future generations would understand the causes and consequences of the war and to remember the men and women who played their role.

 

“Now that the First World War is outside living memory, we are the voice of those veterans and the custodians of their stories – which we can now tell through Lives of the First World War. We will be encouraging people of all ages, in all communities to join us in this project to actively remember these men and women.

 

“I am delighted that IWM will be working with brightsolid. Their focus on innovation, their specialism in telling stories and making history accessible along with their international reach makes them our perfect partner on Lives of the First World War.”

 

Chris van der Kuyl, Chief Executive of brightsolid, said: “We are proud to be working with IWM to create a digital memorial that will be an enduring and fitting tribute to the men and women of the First World War. I am sure that as the centenary approaches, members of the public will deepen these stories by uploading their own content in order to create a rich narrative tapestry for every man or woman whose life was shaped by the War.

 

“The UK has an incalculable wealth of historical archives. Institutions like IWM are world leaders in making those records available online to millions of people worldwide. We are only beginning to realise the cultural potential of these archives.”

 

brightsolid’s partnership with IWM consolidates its position as a private sector partner for leading public institutions digitising historical archives. The Group recently launched the British Newspaper Archive in partnership with the British Library, embarking on a project to digitise, and make fully-searchable, up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection over the next 10 years and has previously delivered the highly successful 1911census.co.uk project in partnership with The National Archives (TNA). In addition, brightsolid is the private sector provider for ScotlandsPeople, a partnership with National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon that serves an integrated online portal for Scottish genealogy records dating back to 1538.

 

Lives of the First World War will be a part of IWM’s extensive programme to mark the First World War Centenary. IWM’s programme includes new First World War Galleries at IWM London (opening summer 2014) and a major temporary exhibition at IWM North. IWM is also leading the First World War Centenary Partnership, a growing network of over 1,000 local, national and international cultural and educational organisations spanning 25 countries. The Centenary Partnership will present a four-year vibrant programme of cultural events and activities engaging millions of people across the world.

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So My Ancestor Raced a Sailing Cutter Yacht

British Newspaper ArchiveI have been having a nose around the British Newspaper Archive Collection again this week on its stand alone website as well as its home within the findmypast site.

I was looking for information on a great-great-uncle who died young (30) after a fall from a cliff. While I didn’t come up with a family notice of his death I found an article in the Isle of Wight Observer for May 19th, 1866 under the notices for the Royal Victoria Yacht Club that I found interesting.

After detailing that the Commodore’s splendid yacht had arrived at the station on Tuesday and then listing the twelve yachts on station, having got the important notices out of the way they then add a line or two about the man I was researching.

“It is with great regret that we hear that W.W.F.Hay esq., fell overboard from his cutter yacht the Surge, at Alderney, and lost his life. His remains will be interned tomorrow (Saturday). On receipt of the melancholy intelligence, the flag at the club was hoisted half-mast high.”

Well, their information was not quite correct, as reported elsewhere. William Wemyss Frewen Hay died when he went ashore at Alderney to have dinner with the officers at the garrison there and lost his footing while returning to the breakwater and where his yacht was anchored.

This, however, got me looking for information on the clipper yacht called the Surge and the first article I turned up made me think that she was not such a good racing boat at all. She retired from a race around the Solent having no chance of gaining the lead in August 1865.

Further articles, however, have her mentioned in a good light.. “Some dozen clippers have already been entered including the celebrated Surge (W.W.F.Hay Esq), the Water Lilly, yawl, (Commodore Lord A Paget, MP.) etc” which does not sound like she was an also ran.

I wonder what the yacht looked like and how many crew she required to sail her?

There are also other questions I have about Willaim, who at the time of his death in the May, according to another article, was due to be married in July of that same year. I would like to find out who his bride to be was, but so far no mention of the lady has appeared in my trawl of the newspapers.

As more titles are added all the time this situation may indeed change. I keep coming back to this resource as it is so useful to family historians.


Disclosure: The above are compensated affiliate links.

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Don’t Rely Only On The Internet.

Devon County Record Office
Devon County Record Office

Don’t rely on the Internet only, I was once advised, go and look in the County Record Office for the actual records, you may find something else interesting there that you won’t be able to see online.

Since that day I have become a fan of our various archives and I believe that we need to support them by visiting when possible.

Usually a Record Office will also preserve a great deal of other archival material such as the records from independent local organizations, churches and schools. There may be papers donated by prominent people from the community, leading families, estates, companies, lawyers and more.

Some County Record Offices are also the Diocesan Record Office for the area and hold the ecclesiastical historic records as well. In some of the larger cities the local government may run its own City Record Office on the same principles as a County Record Office.

Archives may have been acquired by the record office either through donation from the original owner, or the documents may be deposited for safe keeping on long-term loan.

All of which may, or may not, be useful to you in finding out the story of your ancestors. But if you don’t go and look you will never know!

From the family historian’s point of view, the record office is a goldmine of original research documents which are valued as primary sources in the tracing of our ancestors.

The staff can offer direct access to documents or microfilmed copies in their public search rooms and provide a secure and supervised comfortable environment for research on these treasured documents.

So don’t just rely on the Internet, good as it is, but get out there and plan a visit to a record office or other archive this spring!

 

Family History Researcher Academy
CLICK IMAGE above for FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

I am putting together an email course that teaches beginners about English and Welsh Family history. The tutorials are downloaded from a link that I send members weekly and one of the lessons will be on the subject of archives and repositories that I have written about above.

If you are starting out in tracing your English and Welsh ancestors and are finding that your forebears are hiding from you, behind those brick walls that we all encounter, then why not join me to learn how to get around those problems in Family Tree research?

Read all about my new site at www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

Nick

 

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Yorkshire Ancestors? findmypast.co.uk Announce Major Collection

If you have been following me this week you will know that I’ve been at the Who Do You Think you Are? LIVE show at Olympia.

It was there that Debra Chatfield of findmypast.co.uk gave me the news that they have just released a huge number of Yorkshire Parish Records onto their site having tied up with the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium.

 

 

This project will increase access to millions of Yorkshire’s baptism, marriage and burial records dating back to 1538 and for the first time images of the original parish records from six Yorkshire Archives will appear online

Findmypast made the announcement at the Who Do You Think You Are Live Show at London’s Olympia. This significant new project will lead to the publication online for the very first time of millions of historic records from archives across the whole of Yorkshire.

So who are the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium?

Well it comprises of the East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service, the Borthwick Institute for Archives (University of York), the North Yorkshire County Record Office, Teesside Archives, Sheffield Archives and Local Studies, and Doncaster Archives and Local Studies.

Together these services hold the parish registers for a large proportion of Yorkshire, England’s largest historic county.

Paul Nixon, Content Licensing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, said: “The addition of these historic records from Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium to findmypast.co.uk will be keenly anticipated by family and local historians alike, and will undoubtedly reinforce the website’s position as the place to go for UK parish records.”

Keith Sweetmore, Archives Development Manager at North Yorkshire County Record Office, added: “This is a tremendously exciting new development which will transform the way that parish registers are consulted in the future, and will open up Yorkshire’s Archives to a new and growing worldwide audience.”

The joint announcement by findmypast.co.uk and Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium was one of a number made by the rapidly expanding family history website at the 3 day Who Do You Think You Are? Live Show, where it has a major presence.

The brightsolid company was showcasing the many record collections on their site, including parish records from Manchester Archives, Cheshire Archives and over 40 million parish records from family history societies throughout the UK, in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.

 

Anyone wishing to be notified when the Yorkshire Collection becomes available can register online at findmypast.co.uk to receive a newsletter.

 


Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used throughout this piece.

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Browsing Old Newspapers for Ancestors

The British Newspaper Archive onlineI’ve been browsing old newspapers online for ancestors this week with some success and some disappointments.

In previous posts, here, I have mentioned my luck in finding useful leads from articles written about the death of an ancestor of mine who, on sailing to Alderney from Weymouth aboard his yacht, went ashore for a social visit to the Garrison there, and fell to his death on the way back to the breakwater.

The British Newspaper Archive presented me with access to details from various newspapers reporting the “melancholy death” of my ancestor and revealed facts about his family that I was not previously aware of. For example, by the mentioning of his late father as being “of Hay, Merricks and Company” I was then able to find out something of the nature of that ancestor’s business in making gunpowder.

This week I was searching for a completely different line and regretfully I have had no luck with finding any newspaper articles related to this research. As the project, to add newspapers to the archive website, is ongoing I shall simply keep on returning and running the same search again and again. This is in the hope that new titles, that have been scanned in the intervening period, will become available with a relevant article to my research.

So, having not got a hit on the current project, I then started browsing for other ancestors, before leaving the site.

Members of my maternal line spent some of the 1850s in Cheltenham and would seem to have been comfortably well off. It was with some amusement, then, that I came across their names in the Cheltenham Looker-On featuring mainly in the Arrivals and Departures page.

I can not imagine that today the wealthy residents of Cheltenham, or any other town for that matter, would wish all and sundry to be made aware of when they were not in residence, or to where they have “removed” themselves to, but in those days it was socially acceptable.

The Looker-On mixed social news and literary contributions and was known for expressing Conservative opinions in its writings, though I am not sure that these were the views of my Cheltenham resident ancestors from other research I have done!


The British Newspaper Archive is a partner of the British Library and set up to digitise their collection of over 300 years of newspapers. Now accessible to the public, with market leading search functionality, it offers access to over 4 million pages of historical newspapers. A great source for hobby historians, students, reporters and editors – what will you discover?

Now you can also access pages from The British Newspaper Archives via their sister site findmypast.co.uk when you take out membership of Find My Past.


Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The British Newspaper Archive.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

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My Ancestor’s Polite Advertisement From

I was researching one Thomas Westlake, an ancestor of mine from Plymouth in the mid 1800s.

I’d found this enterprising forebear, of mine, who had been a Victualler and Brass founder, on the 1861 census. He employed one woman, six men and some boys in this Devon City at this time and so I guess I would find him listed in the trades section.

This had lead me on to use the University of Leicester site, Historical Directories at www.historicaldirectories.org to find him and his advertisement in a Plymouth Trade Directory!

Its great fun to see how polite were the requests of a Victorian era businessman, asking for trade, in an advertisement from this time. My ancestor, Thomas Westlake paid for a half page advertisement in the 1852 edition of the Plymouth directory, whose full title was:

“A Directory of Plymouth, Stonehouse, Devonport, Stoke, and Moricetown, compiled from actual survey.”

Trade advertisement from 1852 Plymouth

Trade advertisement from 1852 Plymouth

 

Thomas Westlake,

Brass Founder, & Manufacturer of Gas Fittings, Beer Engines, Water Closets, Lift Pumps, etc…

 

Begs respectfully to acquaint his Friends and the Public generally that he has, in his Establishment, men of experience in the above branches, from London and Birmingham; and assures them that all orders entrusted to his care, will be executed in first rate style, under his immediate superintendence, and on moderate terms.

 

Now who could resist an advertisement like that, but what would we think of it today?

 

I have also had some luck with other ancestors finding their advertisements in the newspapers of the day. It is worth a look at the British Library Newspapers collection.

Click the ad box below to go to The British Newspaper Archive.


 

The British Newspaper Archive is a joint venture with brightsolid, the company behind findmypast.co.uk and recent developments there are that they have just published millions of pages of local newspapers on their site for the period 1710-1950. More than 200 titles are included and they say they will be adding more all the time.

ÂDisclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk or The British Newspaper Archive should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

 

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Genes Reunited Launches Unique KEEPSAFE


ancestor, ancestry, family tree, family history, r

This week the family history website Genes Reunited: www.GenesReunited.co.uk have added some interesting new and innovative features to their website.

One that has particularly interested me is what they term a Keepsafe. It’s purpose is for digitally storing all of your family records, photos and memories and Relation Profiles, where you can view and edit details about each individual in your tree. This latest addition comes after genesreunited.co.uk recently refreshed its appearance with a new, and easy to navigate redesign.

The Keepsafe, they tell us, is a unique and organised way for us to collate our family history and is a place for their members to safely store and share documents, from photos and certificates to maps and letters. Being made available to all levels of membership at www.GenesReunited.co.uk, who’ll be given the option to open their images to the public, keep them private or to share them with other members, their family and their friends. They’ll even be able to share their Keepsafe on facebook. At launch today there are over 2.7 million private images already uploaded to Keepsafe.

 

Relation Profiles are automatically created for each relation Genes Reunited members add to their family trees. It includes a clear timeline, notes section and immediate family tree. There’s also a section that prompts their members on what they can do next to take their research on to the next stage. Users are able to edit the details and then these changes will be reflected in their tree on the site. It is possible to also view any photos or records that are attached to the person too. Genesreunited allows members to print out the profile, so they can share their discoveries with their families.

The Genes Reunited site automatically creates ‘Hot Matches’ where members who have the same relations in their family tree are matched with each other. It is said that many of their members have collected rich data on their relatives and having the option to share this with other members can be very beneficial to their research. At launch there will be over 260 million profiles already created, that’s equivalent to over 4 records for every man, woman and child in the UK .

Rhoda Breakell, Head of Genes Reunited, comments: “Imagine being able to find out more information about your ancestors than you could have ever hoped for. Stories, timelines and more besides….Relation Profiles are a place where our members can store all of this information and then share it with each other. Who knows what anecdotes someone else might have written about your ancestors?”

 

Interesting!

 

The Keepsafe and Relation Profile pages are available online at www.GenesReunited.co.uk for all members.


Discover your ancestors at Genes Reunited.co.uk

Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Genes Reunited should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

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