Family History Books for Kindle

So this week, in the British Isles, saw Waterstones Booksellers launch the Kindle readers in their shops across the country. In my branch in St Helier, Jersey there is a great new display point and I was drawn immediately towards the Kindle Fire HD. I love the way it looks and the way it works! So much so that I got my debit card out and bought one there and then.

With these devices making more of an inroad into the way that people shop for books and read them I thought that it was timely for me to take a look at what family history titles are available from the Amazon Kindle store.

First off  I found that Peter Christian’s The Genealogist’s Internet is available. I’d seen it reviewed in Your Family Tree magazine in only the last month with a recommend that every family historian should have a copy either in Kindle form or in physical book.

It is a practical guide which that  is great for both beginners and more experienced researchers to use as it explores the most useful online sources and aids its readers to navigate each one. The Genealogist’s Internet features fully updated URLs and all of the recent developments in online genealogy.

This is the fully updated fifth edition and it carries the endorsed by the National Archives. Covering

·Online census records and wills, including the 1911 Census

·Civil registration indexes

·Information on occupations and professions

·DNA matching

·New genealogy websites and search engines

·Surname studies

·Passenger lists and migration records

·Information on digitised historical maps and photographs

Peter Christian’s book also includes the impact of blogging, podcasting and social networking on family history research, that allows the family historian to seek out others with similar research interests and so to share their results. Whether you want to put your family tree online, find distant relatives or access the numerous online genealogical forums, discussion groups and mailing lists, this book is a must-have.

For a selection of other Kindle books, including my own, head over to amazon.co.uk and take a look at these: Must Have Family History Books for your Kindle.

Send to Kindle

Welsh Family History Research

I’ve been lost in the north of Wales this week doing a bit of family history. Well not physically…I’ve been seeing how much I could do remotely, with only the resources that are at my disposal online.

I started with the 1911 census collections on TheGenealogist.co.uk, ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk. As I have written before in this blog, I often use more than one subscription site to look up ancestors because the search engines on theses sites rely on their own transcriptions, created by volunteer transcribers and very often a mistake in the transcription can mean that your search misses the entry for your ancestor. By using more than one look-up site I can often find the missing census entry from one by looking on another. This strategy paid dividends this week with the Welsh research as Welsh names of parishes very often seem to have variations in spelling and I assume that some of the transcribers were not local and so were mystified by what they were reading from the images.

I used the old trick of putting the parish name into Google, which I had open in another browser window while my subscription sites occupied their own windows. Often I was able to find a handy article that revealed the different ways of spelling a parish, along with the name of the old county that it was part of. To deal with the mis-transcriptions I had to use my common sense to match the spelling offered with the most likely parish that I could find in the county in question.

One of the brick walls that I ran up against, with this welsh family, was that they had a very common set of names for their children, in the particular counties that I was searching within. So as not to waste time I had to tackle the problem by approaching from a different angle and using a different data set.

On TheGenealogist.co.uk site I was also able to search their nonconformist records, also available at www.bmdregister.co.uk and was thus able to download an image that pertained to a baptism in the parish of Myfod, Montgomeryshire. Further research revealed that it was also known as Miefod and soon I found the correct entry in the census collection for the character that I was following.

I was also able to make use of the Hugh Wallis site that allows a researcher to search within the batch numbers on the familysearch.org website. With the aid of his useful tool, that is once more functioning after a period of not following the revamp of the LDS’ familysearch site, I was able to look for those with a particular first and surname baptised in a particular Methodist Chapel.

One last brick wall, that I discovered while doing this research in Wales, is that the further back in time that I went I came up against the custom of parent’s giving their offspring Patronymic surnames. This is where a child took the father’s first name as a surname. I found out that this practice, while no longer being held to in the towns and among the wealthier, still continued up until the early 19th century in some of the rural areas of Wales.

By the end of my time on this quest I had put a reasonable amount of branches on to this particular Welsh Family Tree but the conclusion that I reached is that it really would benefit from a visit to the County Record Offices in question in order to see the physical records for the various churches and chapels in the area. Not everything is online but it is a jolly good place to start!

 

Take your family history further by considering a subscription to these websites:

 

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 Findmypast.co.uk or The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

Send to Kindle

When A Name Can Be A Brick Wall In Family Tree Research

Ancestors in Thorne Family tree
My family tree research has thrown up the occasional brick wall when I have excluded the possibility of spelling an ancestor’s name in a different way from what was to be expected.

 

Just this week I was helping a contact find the death record for one of their forebears and the official death records had listed the deceased using an alternative spelling of the person’s middle name and so throwing some doubt on whether we had got our man or not. In the event the decease’s home address matched the information known about the family home and so it could be confirmed that this was the correct death certificate for my correspondent’s ancestor.

 

In my own tree I have come up against stumbling blocks provided, on the one hand, by poor transcription and, on the other, by variable spelling in newspaper reports that I had been investigating. One of my ancestors had a reasonably common first and second name, for his time, but he had been given the middle name of Crosland that enabled me to distinguish him from his same named contemporaries. Sometimes, however, he would appear as Crossland with two ‘s’s and other times with just the one. Similarly, one of his sons had been baptised with a middle name of Massy but this could be found in records written as Massey or Massy so adding to the chance of missing him.

 

Other problems, found using the search facilities of the main look up sites, were with transcriptions. It needs to be remembered that, when searching for an entry in a census, we are actually making use of the transcription provided by the website and not of the actual data written in the census. This would be impossible to use as it was completed in handwriting and so not open to search engines to interpret.

 

Using the census collections I have had difficulty finding my grandfather, a Hubert Thorne, as he had been transcribed as Herbert. Going back one generation and his father was Sydney, not Sidney and this doesn’t even consider the problems created by the enumerator shortening names such as Thomas to Thos, Elizabeth to Eliza and William to Wm.

 

Other difficulties arise, in my own family tree, when persons are baptised with a first and middle name and then adopt the middle name as a first throughout their life. To compound it all, there middle name is even used on their death certificate as if it was their first. And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that many of us have nick names that we prefer to be called by!

 

The point that I am making here, is to always beware of searching with strict parameters for a person’s name when doing your family tree.

 

For more useful tips to research your Family Tree then download my Kindle book by using the button in the box below.

Send to Kindle

The British Newspaper Archive and Google Books Smash a Family Tree Brick Wall

As many of us find out, when we start to research our family history, our forebears can be a mixture of characters who can come from different walks of life and backgrounds.

In my case I have agricultural labourers, small businessmen, carpenters and brass-founders. There are mariners, soldiers and an intriguing line that “lived on their own means” and are descended from Scottish nobility, albeit in some cases, from the “wrong side of the blanket”.

One of these ancestors, who has always interested me, is a 2 x great-grandfather who appears on the various census as not having an occupation other than owning houses and funds. I had traced Charles Crossland Hay back from Cheltenham in England, where he died in 1858, to his birth in Dunbar in Scotland in 1797 the son of a merchant, who was also called Charles Hay, and his wife Mary Ann Stag. Charles Hay senior then moves his home to Edinburgh and then I pick up the son, Charles Crossland Hay, living at Auchindinny House, near Lasswade, before he marries his bride from Fife in 1832.

Over their life together they have seven children. Two of which are born in Scotland with four born in England and the seventh, my great grandfather, born in France. This last child is registered as a British subject and is christened in Lasswade, back in Scotland, and so his details were to be found on the ScotlandsPeople website.

With the recent launch online of The British Newspaper Archive at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
I have, at last, gained more information that has allowed me to find out more about the business of my 2x great-grandfather, through a report on the tragic death of one of his other sons: William.

William Wemyss Frewen Hay died at the age of 30 from a fall over the cliffs in Alderney on a visit to the garrison there. In the newspaper article it stated that he was the son of the late Charles Crossland Hay of the firm Hay, Merricks & Co of Roslin.
Hay Merricks Gunpowder on a website
Now I could start using the search engines to find out about the company, but first of all I did a search of the newspapers for the business. I was rewarded by finding advertisements for their “Sporting Gunpowder” in papers from all over the country.

I went on to find samples of the gunpowder for sale at Christie’s and books mentioning the products digitised and on Google books.

Looking at a map I could also see that Roslin is but a stones throw away from Auchendinny and from the Lasswade parish church, so explaining the family’s link to the area.

On Google Books, I came across a Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1837-8 dealing with the effect of fictitious votes in Scotland after the Reform Act brought in by the Whigs. There is a list of voters and how they voted included in the document, something that would be unthinkable today. The four business partners of Hay, Merricks & Company of Roslin Powder Mills, which include Charles Crossland Hay, are all recorded as being voters for the Whig party in the years between 1832 to1850 at Roslin.

So now I have ascertained that my ancestor voted for the Whig party and was involved in the manufacture of gunpowder and all this has flowed from a newspaper report into the horrific, slow, painful death of his second son William in 1867 on Alderney, and who was actually born in 1836, two years before the report on fictitious votes was published.

What this shows me, is how events that occur at different points in a timeline and which get reported, can so easily unlock brick walls that occur at other times in the timeline.

 


Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate links used above.

Send to Kindle

Family Bibles as a Genealogical Resource

Some of us are fortunate to have a family bible to refer to as a genealogical resource as we build our family trees. My cousin has our great-great grandparents bible for the Thorne family of Dartmouth, in his possession. Knowing my interest in the subject he sent me a photocopy of the back page where the dates and times of the birth of all their children have been entered by hand.

Thorne family from Dartmouth, Devon.

Other families have bibles that also go on to list baptisms, marriages and deaths as well as the births. Anyone with one of these is indeed very lucky as it would be an invaluable asset to a family historian pointing their research in the right direction. As with all secondary sources, however, it is good practice to go to the official records and check that the dates listed for the events in the bible match the dates reported to the authorities. Errors may have crept in to the family bible list by mistake.

Another tip is to take a look at the date of publication of the bible to see if it is before or around the time of the first entry. If it is later then there is the possibility for someones memory to have played tricks on them in the remembering of past events. A contemporaneously listed family is likely to be more accurate than one that has been recalled later on.

While a good many families would have had one it is by no means certain that a family bible will have survived down the years. Many would have been destroyed because antiquarian booksellers can only sell them as bibles and not as a genealogical record and so a tome that has been written in has less chance of being purchased. Many of the family bibles are also in a poor state when they are found and because they are unsellable they are therefore destroyed by the finder or the auction house.

A check of the search engines throws up several websites that are offering family bibles for sale as does ebay. Realistically, however, it is not very likely that you will find that long lost family bible of yours if it has left your family’s keeping.

Send to Kindle

Researching family in Jersey, part 1: where to start

An Old Jersey House

You’ve traced an ancestor to Jersey, and you are wondering what you can find out about them. To your frustration, you rapidly discover that birth marriage and death records for Jersey are not available online. So what can you do?

Well, there are at least some useful Internet resources out there to help you get started. The most obvious one is the Census: Channel Island censuses from 1841 to 1901 are available both through Ancestry and Findmypast, and the 1911 census is on FindMyPast and will soon be fully available on Ancestry too.

A word of caution, though: the transcription is not entirely reliable on either site, and on top of that, some database search engines have problems with “divided” surnames like Le Sueur or Du Feu (not to mention Le Vavasseur dit Durell). So here’s a shameless plug: if you are going to do a lot of searching of censuses, you could do worse than purchase the paper census indexes produced by the CIFHS. They are a lot more accurate (well over 99%), and can (with a bit of fiddling) be cross-referenced back to the census images on the Internet.

There are also military records. If you’re looking at Channel Island relatives who served in the First World War, it’s well worth investigating at greatwarci.net – this is the website of the Channel Island Great War Study Group, and they maintain a very comprehensive list of people who served. The list is rather more complete than Ancestry’s transcript of what’s in the National Archives simply because Jersey residents served not only with the British armed forces but also with the Canadians and Australians. There were also at least a couple of thousand French nationals who joined up with the French military, but records for them are very scanty. If you are looking at other periods (and bear in mind Jersey had a garrison to protect it from the French right up until the 1930s), you may find references to service in Jersey on the military records of Chelsea Pensioners kept on FindMyPast, or on the GRO Regimental Indexes of birth marriage and death.

There are other useful resources too on Ancestry. There are three Channel Island postal directories – covering 1839, 1903 and 1927 – that may help to link a name to an address.

You may also be fortunate enough to find online family trees. Ancestry host them, as do Genesreunited, and there are also numerous independently-produced web sites. The general rule of thumb is to treat these as a guideline: they may be inaccurate, or they may tell the truth as far the researcher knows it – but not the whole story.

Aside from this, there’s a couple of major Internet resources based in the Channel Islands that may help you with your research. More about them next time. À bétôt!

Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society


Send to Kindle

Finding Your Family Roots Using Genealogy Search Engines

Genealogy search engines are an incredible beginning point when trying to trace you family members line and discover who your ancestors were, what they did in the course of their lives and no matter whether they had produced any essential contributions to the world in any way.

Some genealogy search engines link you to internet sites which have large databases of info about folks from as far back as you are able to imagine, whilst other people make use of their own databases to help you discover the family line you’re trying to find. No matter which one you pick, it is possible to be sure that genealogy search engines can offer you an amazingly large push in the correct direction, even if they do not offer you the right outcomes appropriate off the bat. The key would be to keep in mind that you will find billions of records inside the databases you might be searching, and there may very well be hundreds of thousands of records which match you search criteria. This is why several of the genealogy search engines available let you to enter some information that refines the search even further to offer you precisely the results you are looking for.

1 of the great issues about making use of genealogy search engines is that they usually do not merely supply you having a list of sources. They are able to also lead you to other people that may possibly be looking for the exact same individual, or the identical family line that you simply are looking for. You might then locate that these folks have already observed some resources which you have been struggling to come across, while you are able to present them with data and resources that they have not yet come across. In this way, genealogy search engines provide you with genealogy resources which are proper to your search criteria, also as a network of similar people or people seeking comparable things…you might even be connected to lost cousins and household members along the way.

Whatever the reason is for your search, be certain to use genealogy search engines to create tracing your heritage that a lot less difficult.

Send to Kindle

Search Lost Relatives! How To Easily And Effortlessly Look For Someone You Lost Contact With

Lately my wife’s sister got curious about what
had happened to her first husband after they broken up. That marriage had
finished badly and they hadn’t been in touch for almost
thirty years. She tried hunting for her ex-husband’s name on Google and
Yahoo but didn’t get any hits. Knowing I do research online in my work as a
qualified writer, she asked if I might discover
anything.

I write for business and technical magazines, so I
use numerous high-priced databases for in-
depth research. However I suggested she
try an easier alternative- a way out I use myself when I want to
search for somebody quickly and without difficulty. I
recommended she try one of the people search database services. Even the
better ones cost so little, they’re practically free. Most offer a trial
period. I gave her the name of one to try.

She was dubious. She’s not very comfortable using her computer for much
more than email. Her stab at the search engines had already left her
upset. Now she was going to have to “sign up for something and
learn something completely new… oh my goodness,” was the way
she put it.

Yet, later the same day I suggested it, she emailed back excitedly.
In a few minutes, she’d discovered all kinds of information
regarding her ex. It turned out that he’d done something of a turnaround after they’d
broken up. Their divorce resulted from
clashes over his severe drinking problem. After they got separated,
though, he’d ultimately gone back to med school, gotten his MD and become an
orthopaedic surgeon. He’d even been instrumental in
developing some kind of device used by other
physicians in his field.

Regrettably, the poor fellow had passed, but at least my sister-
in-law discovered reassure in knowing that things had
worked out for him in spite of everything. She remarked that even if their relationship ended in the most awful imaginable way,
it had began from a good point. She said she hadn’t actually wanted to contact
him. She just wanted to know what had happened to him.
At times all we want is only to satisfy our  inquisitiveness about what happened to someone we’ve lost
track of. Many of us have an old pal or associate we still think about.
A Better Way to Find People

I suspect that’s what makes people searching so hot. As many as half a million
times a month, somebody searches on Google alone, hunting for
a way to find a lost person. Whether it’s someone from the past with
whom we’ve lost touch, or somebody we met last weekend and
desire to see again, were always hunting for others.

Unluckily, many general searches fail. Just like Googling
failed for my sister-in-law. The information is out there, somewhere. But being
forced to sift through so many unrelated results makes it nearly
impossible.

By the way – majority of searchers don’t know this –
search engine results don’t really extend beyond about a thousand entries. Even
when the search engine results page says they found millions and millions of hits, they don’t
really bother to expose it and give you access to all of it. They’re
actually only estimating from their own database tables. Even they
understand it’s a waste of time.

When You Choose a Personal Search Service, Here’s What to Seek

If you choose to try out a personal search database, here are the things I’ve
found essential to mull over during a review

Free versus Paid

I’ve been dissatisfied by the free services. Their main concern
seems to be to try and get you to click on some of the pay-per-click ads
they’re presenting.

Send to Kindle