I was so very pleased to meet up again with Anne Reid from SpeakingLives as I have done at several Who Do You Think You Are? Live shows in the past.
Some memories deserve to be remembered forever…
By recording spoken memories from the person who experienced them SpeakingLives offers us all the chance to secure a very special and personal legacy – one that can be enjoyed for years to come.
And that is especially true if the memories belong to your parents or grandparents and represent part of your family history. After all, as Anne says, “How often do you hear the words “I wish I’d known about…”, or “I wish I’d asked…” ?
“Whether what they recall is happy, sad, humorous, meaningful or triumphant, these special memories should be treasured. Because if they’re not preserved carefully they can be lost. Forgotten, forever.”
With SpeakingLives®, one of their specially trained Life Interview Consultants meets people in their own home, or a place of their choice, to record their unique memories and reminiscences using discrete digital audio recording equipment. The voice recordings are then professionally edited and delivered to them as a beautifully packaged CD or MP3 file.
It’s literally the gift of a lifetime.
Learn more about English and Welsh family history resources which can be used to find your elusive ancestors with the Family History Researcher Course,
I wrote an article for TheGenealogist website about some of the fascinating things that I learnt from taking a camera and recording for posterity the sometimes decaying headstones in my local area before they become even more unreadable.
I am not kidding, when I say that it opened my eyes to the life and death of our ancestors. To find out what I discovered take a look here: The Hidden Treasures of Gravestones
You will see that I get a bit of a thrill when I come across a churchyard or cemetery. If you read my piece, then you’ll understand just why to me it is a fabulous repository of genealogical information and all of which is just waiting to be revealed.
Armed with a camera, a bottle of water and a soft paint brush (I explain about these in the article), I recently set off to record as much as was still legible on stones in my home and beyond.
One of my clients has family from Staffordshire and he was bemoaning the lack of records he could find online.
Well now the UK family history website findmypast.co.uk has published online for the first time over 2.8 million parish records in partnership with Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service as the final instalment of Findmypast’s 100in100 promise to release 100 record sets in 100 days.
Spanning 1538 to 1900, the parish records launched today mark the start of an exciting project to create the Staffordshire Collection on Findmypast – a rich source, which on completion will comprise around 6 million fully searchable transcripts and scanned images of handwritten parish records.
The Collection covers all Staffordshire Anglican parish registers up to 1900 deposited with the Archive Service and includes over 3,400 registers recording the baptisms, marriages and burials carried out in the ancient county. This will include the City of Stoke on Trent and parishes now within the City of Wolverhampton, as well as the Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.
The lives of many notable Potteries folk are recorded in the Collection. Captain of industry and prominent abolitionist, Josiah Wedgwood, the man who established the Wedgwood company in 1754, industrialised the manufacture of pottery for the first time and created the famous “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” anti-slavery medallion, appears in a baptism register. Born on 12 July 1730, Josiah was baptised the same day at St John’s church in Burslem. His grand-daughter Emma Wedgwood, the future wife of Charles Darwin, also appears in the Collection.
These church records also provide some unexpected insights into significant events in Staffordshire’s colourful history. In a late 18th century register of baptisms from the parish of Alrewas, curate John Edmonds took it upon himself to record a narrative of local happenings, and this too can now be read online for the first time. Edmonds recounts details of a flood that swept two bridges away, an earthquake that rocked the parish in 1795, a series of local riots over food shortages and even a lightning strike that killed 3 cows and 2 horses. He also recorded events of national significance, such as King George III being fired upon with an air gun on his way to parliament.
The Potteries proud manufacturing history is well represented in the Collection. Other important potters in the records include William Moorcroft, Potter to the Queen by Royal Warrant, and founder of the Moorcroft pottery that supplied stores such as Liberty & Co and Tiffany New York. There’s also Thomas William Twyford, inventor of the single piece ceramic flush toilet and co-founder of Twyford Bathrooms, and John Aynsley, the founder of Aynsley China, one of the last remaining producers of bone china in Stoke on Trent.
Manufacturers are not the only famous Staffordians to be found in the records. Admiral of the Fleet and 1st Earl of St Vincent John Jervis, best remembered for his defeat of the Spanish fleet at the 1797 Battle of Cape Saint Vincent and his patronage of Horatio Nelson, was born at Meaford Hall in 1735.
Marriage registers from 1835 contain Burton upon Trent brewer and politician Michael Thomas Bass Jr, whose clever leadership saw Bass become the best known brand in Britain and the largest brewery in the world. Other famous figures include Francis Barber, a freed Jamaican slave, who became the manservant and beneficiary of Dr Johnson; William Thomas Astbury, the pioneering X-ray scientist; and legendary classical composer Havergal Brian.
The Staffordshire Collection adds to Findmypast’s already extensive cache of parish records, the largest available online. These records allow family historians to research as far back as the 1500s, and with more Staffordshire records still to be added to Findmypast, family historians from all over the world can now explore their more distant roots more easily than ever before, and uncover their Staffordshire, Black Country and Potteries ancestors.
The records were launched at an event at the Staffordshire Record Office by Findmypast, Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service and Staffordshire County Council Cabinet member for Children, Communities and Localism, Mike Lawrence.
Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “From today, anyone, wherever they are in the world, will be able to go online and discover whether they have Staffordshire roots. These really are fascinating parish records, full of colourful insights, and you might even be able to get your family tree as far back as 1538, when Henry VIII was on the throne!“
Mike Lawrence, Cabinet member for Community at Staffordshire County Council said: “We are very proud of our heritage here in Staffordshire and this is the start of an exciting partnership with Findmypast to bring 6 million names online for people to search through. The project will give family historians from across the world an opportunity to delve into our rich past and learn more about our great county.
“We also want to encourage more people from the county to explore their own family history, and access to the Staffordshire Parish Registers on Findmypast will be free in Archive Service offices and libraries across Staffordshire.”
Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used in this post
These knowledgeable interviewees include practising professional genealogists, with years and years of experience to offer.
Yet others are from the very highest levels of the online data provider companies, like Ancestry and TheGenealogist.
Listen to the download and learn some plain tips that will simplify the often confusing business of researching English/Welsh ancestors. I am going to give you access to these eight professionals so that you can use their advice to break down several brick walls that you may have.
3. The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) Member. What would the advice be from a professional genealogist practitioner?
Well as many serious professional genealogists belong to this association, I headed over to the AGRA stand and asked a member for his research tips. Points he brought up included the information on documents being only as good as that given by the informant and what to do about conflicting data. There is more to hear in the full interview that you can download here .
4. Families in British India Society (FIBIS) Expert. In family history we often have to think a bit outside the box. Well have you considered that your missing ancestor had moved abroad? With 3 million Brits having gone out to India then if we have a missing forbear it could certainly pay us to take a look at the records from this part of the British Empire. Its not just soldiers, the list of people who went out to work there is long as we hear from this FIBIS expert.
5. Celia Heritage – Professional Genealogist, Author and Family History Teacher introduces us to an often under used set of resources in her piece: Death Records. She explains how to use these records to flesh out the bones of our ancestors lives.
Celia is an excellent and knowledgeable speaker and you can just hear the passion that she has for her subject as she dispenses some gems of advice in the free downloadable audio presentation. Its not just death certificates that Celia brings to our attention in this part of the recording!
6. Dr Ian Galbraith – The National Wills Index explains about one of the best single major sources for family historians when I asked him to talk about Wills and Administrations for this audio.
Ian explains why wills can be an important resource with an average of 10 names per will and with half of them being different from that of the testator. Many people are surprised by the fact that all sorts of people left wills, but you won’t be when you have heard the full interview.
7. Brad Argent – Content Director for Ancestry advises family historians to drill down for the information in the online databases in his contribution to the recording. Brad suggests we use the card catalogue to seek out data sets and then use the advance search facility of “exact”, “soundex” and “wildcards” when we are on this large data provider’s site. His advice is compelling.
8. Mark Bayley – Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist, a site that gives really fantastic value and a very wide range of data, introduces us to a great name-rich resource recently published by TheGenealogist, in association with The National Archives.
What is this important resource for England and Wales?
It is, of course, the Tithe collection.
I have been using this set recently to great effect with my own rural ancestors and so I have included a module in my Family History Researcher Guides about the tithes.
The beauty of this data is that it includes both sides of society, with landowners and tenants being recorded and giving names and addresses. As a pre-census data set it is hugely valuable to us! Listen to Mark explain about these exciting records in the free recording you can download now by clicking the link below.
Now you may be asking why I am doing this for free?
Its because I want to introduce you to a set of guides that I have put together. A series of pdf modules that takes the information I gleaned at Who Do You Think You Are? Live and incorporated it, along with much more content into a year’s worth of weekly written guides.
There are extra contributions from various other professional experts who have penned some of the reports, as well as those modules written from my own extensive experience.
I am guessing that, if you have read this far, you are interested in English/Welsh family history and that you have hit at least one of the inevitable brick walls. The solution is to understand more ways to find your ancestors.
So if you would like to dramatically increase your knowledge then I think you will enjoy being a member of my Family History Researcher Guides. This is a 52 weekly series of guides written in an easily accessible form and you can take a two week trial for just £1 by going here:
I’ve been going to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show for a few years now and except for one, where the weather conspired to keep me away with thick fog marooning me in Jersey for days, I have seen the show go from strength to strength.
I love the mix of experts to consult, the varying subjects of the talks in the different theatres, the the range of family history exhibitors and the whole buzz of the show.
Tickets have gone on sale at their website and they have announced a number of exciting exhibitors new to the show, giving the visitor even more ways to explore their family history. Perhaps I could just draw your attention to the one at the bottom of this list, as the name may seem familiar?
New Exhibitors at the 2014 show Olympia, 20-22nd February:
Unlock the Past – this company combines hobbies and holidays by offering history and genealogy cruises, as well as genealogy e-books.
BRD Associates – preserve your story through theirÂ professional video life story recording, story books and old image restoration.
Borders Ancestry – if you have ancestors living throughout the Scottish Borders and Northumberland, then consider thisÂ professional research service.
QI Wellness Centre – a company who specialise inÂ the healing of your family’s inherited patterns.
Calico Pie – try their family historian deluxe genealogy software for size
Open University – is it time for you to take a course toÂ study family or local history?
Imperial War Museum – contribute to the museum’s ambitious WWI centenary project by uploading the life story of your ancestor’s role in WWI
RAF Museum – last at the show in 2011,Â get the very best advice in tracing your RAF ancestors
Fast Track Engraving – watch their demonstration of engraving and purchase your own memorial medallion to commemorate family members in WWI
Dr Williams Library – find out more about library research
Brythonium – create a tangible family history using their family legacy cards
The Book Alchemist – why not consider a virtual boot camp on how to turnÂ your family history into a written legacy?
The Nosey Genealogist – take a family history course using downloadable tutorials and audio CDs’
Of course you don’t have to wait until the show to take advantage of my Family History Researcher Academy course on English and Welsh Family history as there is a banner ad on the right hand side of this very blog!
As for WDYTYA?LIVE, New exhibitors will continually be added in the run up to the show so don’t forget to keep checking to see who is going to be there at: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com
As I walked around the exhibition hall at Olympia, taking in all the different stands for family history societies and suppliers, I came across four different companies at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE offering to record your loved ones as they recall their oral family history, or recount different tales passed down to them from relatives thatÂ no longer are with us.
The first one I came across was that of SpeakingLives. This company records people’s life stories and memories and offers to beautifully present these personalised recordings of loved ones so that the client and their friends and family can enjoy them for generations to come. The recording is made available on audio CD and MP3.
I was attracted to the variety of memorabilia on their table, items that I assume could have been used to spark off memories in the subjects.
SpeakingLives prices start from Â£195, but they sometimes have special offers to take advantage of.
Gift vouchers are also available.
Next I found My Viography who specialised in professionally filmed “viographies” (video biographies) and family history documentaries. From what I gathered by talking to them on the stand they use the latest high-definition video and professional film-making techniques with a professional presenter.
They can use your family photographs, video clips, mementos and favourite music in your viography or family history documentary to really bring your story and personality to life. Also on offer is to scan in your old photographs and convert older film and video footage in a range of formats (Mini DV, Video 8, VHS, Betamax, Super 8 or 16mm film) to help you tell your story.
My Viography’s price for a video starts at Â£594, but this can be made in three payments of Â£198. They also have other packages that offer extras to the basic at higher price points in the thousands and an audio only one at Â£495.
Then there wasÂ Splendid ReflectionsÂ whose owner offered a life interview consultancy. Which she explains is your opportunity, from the comfort of your own home, to reminisce, reflect and record your life story and memoirs for the enjoyment of your children and grandchildren for years to come. The result would be made available to you on DVD in a mini-documentary style combining any of your own videos or photographs.
I was very taken by the empty chair and recording equipment on the next stand together with large professional microphone on the next stand that I found in this market.
Life Stories say that they can help you create a unique recording of your story; a carefully constructed audio autobiography to leave for family, friends, or simply for posterity.
They can also help you store it securely for future generations to access, enjoy and even expand; a digital family vault of recorded memories saved for ever.
Life Stories package was Â£600 that would include preparatory conversations with you and/or your family about what you want to cover.Â Planning the conversation and discussing how best to retrieve and organise memories before recording. Lengthy recording over the course of one day and several days editing and production to produce the finished product. Longer recordings could be done at a slightly higher cost.
These companies are providing an interesting service that adds a professional polish to the job of recording the family’s oral history and as all good family historians know, our family’s oral history stories are of very great importance to us. Though we should always remember to check the facts with primary sources before we add them to our family trees!
That said, how great will it be for your children’s children to be able to look back, in years to come, and hear or see their relatives talking?
Ever since I attended a lecture by John Hanson at the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show, a few years back, I have been aware that, just because we family historians are able to use the births marriages and death records from the General Register Office to find our ancestor’s vital events, we should not ignore the Parish Records for the years following 1837.
Convention has us researching back in the GRO details until 1837 the year that the state in England & Wales took over the responsibility of recording our ancestors BMD’s. Before that date we rely heavily on the church records to find our forebears. But what is often disregarded is that the church has gone on keeping registers of these events and sometimes they can give us little extra bits of information that we have not got from elsewhere.
For example, this week I was looking at my paternal grandmother’s family who hail from Plymouth. I was fleshing out my family tree by concentrating on my grandmother’s brother’s and sisters. Working laterally can often be a useful technique to understanding the family and sometimes can be used to break down a brick wall or two.
I had done a broad stroke tree many years before including six siblings to the chart; but at a recent family get together I became aware that one of her brothers was missing from my tree.
As luck will have it Find My Past has recently added more than three and a half million Plymouth and West Devon parish records to their website with entries that span from 1538 to 1911. The data comes from the Plymouth City Council’s Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.
On Find My Past’s website I have now been able to see that he was christened George Edgar Colwill Stephens at Christ Church Plymouth in 1888. The name Colwill being his mother’s maiden name. I had not expected to have found this entry in an established church in Plymouth as the child’s parents had married at the Plymouth Register Office the year before.
At the time of writing this piece, however, I have yet to find any of their other children, including my grandmother, in the parish registers that are on line. I wonder what the story is here?
The websites that I use the most at the moment are Find My Past and The Genealogist.co.uk. To take your family history further I recommend that you to consider a subscription to these websites. Take a look now and see what great data sets they have to offer:
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 Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.
I recently got this Press Release from TheGenealogist.co.uk. It seems they have made their TreeView even better..
TreeView Gets Radical New Features:
The highly respected TreeView, a favorite of reviewers has launched unique new features and â€œviewsâ€.
TreeView is free to all. You can access it at TheGenealogist.co.uk and TreeView.co.uk
Five Brand New Views
For the first time ever online, TreeView has made it possible to draw your own custom family tree. The custom family tree option lets you pick between pedigree, hourglass or full tree view, you can pick the number of generations you want and then the fun begins. Drag and drop anyone you wish around the tree, remove people from the tree by simply clicking the X on them. If you make a mistake, no problem, just click â€œundoâ€. You can also upload a picture to include as a background to your tree. This quickly and easily gives you a fully custom layout of your family tree. When youâ€™re happy with the result, you can save your design for later or print it out.
(You can select a person within custom tree and easily move them around the chart)
Using the Relationship Tree you can select any two members from your tree and generate a chart to show the relationship links between those two ancestors. The chart will appear on screen and from here you can choose to a print a copy.
The ancestor chart shows you the direct line ancestors of a selected individual, with the option to display as many generations as you wish.
Alternatively, the descendant chart shows you the direct descendants of an individual.
An alternative design for your tree is an Hourglass Tree. This chart is a combination of ancestor and descendant charts, including both direct ancestors and descendants of a person for as many generations as you wish.
Brand New Features
Printing Trees – You can now print any tree. When clicking on the Print icon you will be asked to select one of the following print options;
All in One: This option emails you a PDF of the entire tree on one page, enabling you to send the PDF to your local printer, so you can have your family tree printed on one large sheet of paper.
Several Pages: This option will divide your tree over several A4 sheets of paper allowing you to print from a standard printer at home. The A4 sheets are discreetly numbered and come with a guide, making it easier for you to piece them together once they have printed.
Now all trees come with the option to customise your background, from a variety of different colours, patterns or even use one of your own images.
Backup/Restore – Routinely save your tree and restore from previous backups or imported GEDCOM files. So now you can tweak your tree without the worry of making a mistake.
Relationship Calculator – You can calculate the relationship between any two ancestors in your tree. Type the name of the two individuals into the calculator and the relationship between them will be shown in the results box.
If you are looking at your Full Tree or Pedigree view, click any individual and their relationship to the default person will be displayed in the dialog box.
Friends New Features
The ability to invite friends and family to view your tree is now free to everyone.
Friends Options – In addition to the access level you can now set a Role for your friends.
Select either â€˜Guestâ€™ or â€˜Proposerâ€™. A â€˜Guestâ€™ can view a limited or an extended view of your family tree. A â€˜Proposerâ€™ makes proposals for changes or additions to your tree without changing the data. This provides a safe way for your friends and family to help you fill in the blanks to your tree.
Hope you find this useful for recording your family history.
Following on from the series earlier in the year on researching family history in Jersey, we turn our attention south to France.
Over the centuries there has been considerable immigration into Jersey from France. The principal waves of immigrants arrived firstly as a result of Huguenots fleeing around the time that the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685; secondly as a result of political uncertainty during the period after 1789; and thirdly as a result of famine and rural poverty in Brittany and western Normandy from about 1850 onwards. The last wave was the largest of the three, with some thousands of people arriving and settling â€“ and consequently there are a substantial number of Jersey families who have a French connection.
Aliensâ€™ registration cards (those issued under legislation passed in 1920 are in the Archive catalogue in series D/S/B, and the registers that accompany them are in series D/S/C. Those relating to French nationals present during the Occupation are at reference D/S/A/24)
If available, records of public bodies such as the courts, the prison and the hospital (all of whom would want this information for accounting purposes). These could be your best bet if your ancestors arrived in the early part of the third wave
French law set a series of benchmarks in 1803 as to what needed to be recorded to legalise registration of births, marriages and deaths, much as England did in 1837. Part of this was that every commune had to keep a book recording births marriages and deaths. The book would cover ten years: there would be an index to every year and an overall index for the whole ten year book. While the entries are numbered one-up each year and include births, marriages and deaths in a single numbering sequence, the indexes for birth, marriage and death are separate.
We are looking at the book covering 1843 to 1852 so we find it among the 17 books listed and click the image, then we click the image on the right-hand side of the page. This launches the viewer software.
We actually need to start not at the first page but at the last page â€“ the tables decennales covering all ten yearsâ€™ worth of entries are there. Working backwards we start with the deaths, then come to the marriages, then the births.
A more typical entry is that for the marriage of Jean-Pierre Le Gentil in 1844. There is a format to entries: each entry always begins with the date (and indeed the hour of day), and is followed by the name of the official and his credentials (usually the mayor). In the case of a marriage we then have the prospective husband, his date and place of birth, where he is living and the names of his parents. In this case his mother has died and the necessary papers have been presented to prove it. At the end of that you spot the phrase dâ€™une part; this means that what follows is the same details for the prospective wife. The rest of the documentation is the legal wording affirming that the marriage has been notified and legally witnessed, and also gives the names of the witnesses.
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.