Who Do You Think You Are? Live: the world largest family history show.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live: the world’s largest family history show is only a few weeks away!

MPU2It is back! The annual genealogy event, sponsored by Ancestry.co.uk, returns to London’s Olympia on 20-22 February, 2014.

I’m getting ready for my first ever time exhibiting there and as the weeks roll on I’m getting more and more excited about it. Come and see me at Table 56 where I shall be promoting my Family History Researcher course in English and Welsh Family History.

Piecing together your family history is a deeply rewarding experience. Nothing can beat the excitement of making new discoveries and identifying lost relatives. However, if you’ve recently hit a brick wall with your research, or you are daunted by all the options available for those starting their family tree, then help is at hand at Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Every year, hundreds of genealogy experts from the major subscription sites, museums, archives and family history societies descend on Olympia for the world’s largest family history show. If you need a helping hand to uncover your family secrets, there’s no better place to go.

They’ll be new features at the 2014 show including commemorating the centenary of WWI and a new celebrity line-up to add to the usual popular features. You can:

  • Attend over 100 workshops in the Society of Genealogists’ Workshop Programme
  • Investigate family photographs with their experts
  • Spend one-to-one time with an expert in a subject of your choice,
  • Learn how DNA can help with research
  • Visit family history societies from all over the UK
  • Hear how celebrities from the television show felt about their discoveries, starting with Natasha Kaplinsky on the Thursday.
  • Explore over 120 exhibitors all specialising in family history

Don’t miss your chance to extend your research and share in the passion and enthusiasm of thousands of fellow family historians!

 

For more information and the very latest in show news, please visit www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk.

 

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My Ancestors and The Great Western Railway

I believe myself lucky to have ancestors that hail from very different backgrounds as it makes my research all the more interesting.

On the one hand I have the ubiquitous Ag Labs, some small business men, dressmakers, mariners, landed gentry,  the odd Victorian Army officers of various ranks and if I go back far enough down one branch, Scots Aristocrats who trace their lineage back to Normandy.

Looking at the records of The Great Western Railway, sometimes affectionately refereed to as “God’s Wonderful Railway”, I find that one of my great-great grandfathers was an employee of the company at the end of its Dartmouth link. Henry Thomas Thorne was the Captain of the paddle steam ferry that ran across the Dart from Kingswear, serving the GWR and its predecessor companies for more than 40 years. In today’s world of  job uncertainty this seems like a very long time!

Captain Henry Thomas Thorne on the GWR Dolphin, Dartmouth, Devon.
Captain Henry Thomas Thorne on the GWR Dolphin, Dartmouth, Devon.

I found him in the Ancestry.co.uk records for UK Railway Employment earning 5 shillings and tuppence in 1897 up from 4/8d in previous years.

In my maternal branch I have discovered one of my other great-great grandfather’s in the list of shareholders of the GWR at findmypast.co.uk as one of the owner’s of the gilt-edged stock.

The Society of Genealogists produced its GWR Shareholders Index from ledgers created by the Great Western Railway and now in the Society’s possession. The Great Western Railway’s original ledgers were compiled by the company for transactions relating to all shareholdings which changed hands other than by simple sale.

The GWR called the ledgers Probate Books, which reflects the fact that the great majority of such share transfers (approximately 95%) were as a result of the death of a shareholder and their shares changing hands during the administration of the deceased’s estate. The proportion of the GWR’s total number of shareholders included in the Society of Genealogists’ GWR Shareholders Index is not known but is estimated to be between 50% and 75%; this is because the railway shares were regarded as gilt-edged stock to be held for the long term. Source:Find My Past

To search the records of shareholders you have to either belong to the Society of Genealogists or they can be viewed at Find My Past website where you can get a 14 day free trial!

 

Click  below for a 14 day free trial..

Disclosure: The Link above is a Compensated Affiliate link. If you click on it then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk should you sign up for one of their subscriptions.

 

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What Did Your Ancestors Do?

When we consciously decide to do Family history, as opposed to Genealogy, we set out to flesh out our ancestors lives a bit. We do this by seeking to understand what they did for a living, what the environment in which they lived and worked in was like and the social conditions that prevailed on them at the time.

My Devon ancestors are a mixture of Agricultural Labourers, Mariners, Small Businessmen and the like. Their work is very often dictated by where they lived. The countryside dwellers in and around Bigbury and South Huish worked on the land. Those that inhabited Dartmouth made a living on the river and at sea while those from Plymouth ran shops and small businesses. Not surprisingly none of them were coal miners or textile mill workers.

At the Society of Genealogists (SoG), in London, there is a good amount of material to help family historians research ancestors occupations and much of it is to be found in the Upper library at 14 Charterhouse Buildings. Although not all the material is exclusively on that floor, it is a good place to start as Else Churchill, the Genealogist at The Society of Genealogists pointed out in a talk I attended there last year.

With the “Ag Labs”, as we have come to call our Agricultural Labourers after the 1841 census introduced this shorthand way of describing them, there is a book that can be purchased from the SoG shop called My Ancestor Was an An Agricultural Labourer which explains what their lives were like and points the reader towards some source material that could be used apart from the census data.

Returning to the question in the headline of this article: What Did Your Ancestors Do? Finding the answer to this question will probably depend on what status they were and what and when they carried out their trade, profession or calling.

As some professions and crafts became more regulated then lists of those qualified to make a living from the activity will have thrown up records. Family historians can have recourse to Trade Directories, Apprenticeship lists and so on to try and find their forebears. Professional men, such as Medical men and Lawyers are going to be better documented than others. The SoG have extremely good runs of lists for these professions as well as those, such as Chemists and Apothecaries, who modelled their professional standards on the former class of practitioners, with the sanction of being struck off from the register to practice.

The Law list’s at the SoG include Barristers, London Attorneys and Provincial Attorneys back into the eighteenth century. The medical directories only really start in the 1850’s with the formal registration of these professions but I did find in their catalogue A directory of English country physicians 1603-43.

Men who were Officers in the Army or Navy can be found in the run of military lists on the upper library floor along with a great collection of Regimental Histories and Medal Rolls.

Some enlisted men can be located by using the Findmypast Chelsea Pensioner 1760 to 1913 data set and the Militia Service Records 1806-1915. Look in the county record office for the Ballot Lists of those men eligible to serve in the local militia from the 1750’s to Napoleonic times (1799 to 1815).

What if your ancestor went into trade by serving an apprenticeship? Else Churchill, explained that apprenticeship records are better documented before 1800 than after. A tax levied in the 18th century caused records to be kept and they are to be found today at the National Archives IR1 series and they are indexed by the SoG and can be found in books in the upper library. Another database is on Ancestry. The SoG has another excellent book called My Ancestor was an Apprentice which may help.

If your ancestors served an apprenticeship in one of the larger towns, or boroughs, in order to become a freeman and gain the entitlement to vote, then look for the records for the town/borough at the county record office. Ms Churchill pointed out that the more likely scenario would be that your ancestor would have served their apprenticeship within a family and there would be no record as the tax was not applicable within a family apprenticeship.

A possible record that may be found is where a child is apprenticed by the parish to make them less of a burden on the parish. Typically the age of the apprentice is much younger (7 or 8yrs old) and husbandry or housewifery. If the records survive they will be in the Parish Chest material.

This is only a short look at this subject and I will return to it in a further article here.

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.

 

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WDYTYA? LIVE is nearly here!

Who Do You Think You Are? Live is now just a few days away, and I am looking forward to seeing what the organisers promises to be “the biggest family history event the country has ever seen”.

The show takes place this weekend (24-26 February) in Olympia, London, and as ever will bring together exhibitors and organisations from the world of genealogy.

One of the biggest attractions that they promise at this year’s show will be the Irish section. So any of you out there with roots from the Emerald Isle should pop along to Olympia and discover some creative techniques to uncover new connections in that country that has always been just a little bit difficult to do research in before.

I’m also very much looking forward to the popular Celebrity Theatre which will see talks from the likes of actors Larry Lamb and Emilia Fox, and presenter Richard Madeley.

For those of us that are interested in our ancestor’s occupations the new section called Our Walking Past reveals ancestors’ trades to visitors. In the press release that I saw it promises that whether our forebears worked down a mine or owned it, built ships or sailed on them, we’re sure to find invaluable information from the experts on hand.

On Saturday there is the chance to book oneself a seat for the new Keynote Workshop which is due to start at 1pm. This informative talk will focus on recent issues in the world of genealogy, specifically the advancement of social media and how it can help you with your research.

Also to look out for are the Military Pavilion and the Society of Genealogists’ Workshop Programme of  experts advice and demonstrations and you can find a complete schedule at www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com. Make sure you book yourself a place on the one you want as they tend to fill up quickly. The website and show Facebook page also have all the latest news, as well as great competitions and offers.

Who Do you Think You Are? LIVE 2011
Who Do you Think You Are? LIVE 2011

 

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Brick Walls in Family Tree Research

I was reading a newsletter, from someone I respect, in a completely different field of interest from family history this weekend. In it he was talking about obstacles in the paths of people that are trying to achieve something, whether it was in sports, business or any other pursuit.

Nick James runs a membership site that caters for people that want to run an internet marketing business and in this week’s tip he recalled advice that a life coach had given him to physically write down your stumbling block in a paragraph or two and then to draw a little picture next to it. The picture could be a fence, a brick wall or whatever you chose to depict the problem that you face.

The idea behind this is that by so doing the brick wall no longer exists as a theoretical problem. It now takes on a concrete form that you can now deal with. I have a special note book into which I enter my problem ancestors and this acts in very much the same way for me.

In my family tree I have various lines that seem blocked and so I decided to tackle one of them this week end by seeking the help of an expert and talking through the problem with them. Now I did this by making use of the excellent facility of a telephone consultation provided by the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Advice Line on 020 7490 8911. It is available on Saturdays: 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm and also on Thursdays: 6pm-7.45pm. I came away with ideas for further investigation that just might help me unlock the problem that I have of an ancestor whose occupation in the marriage register was a mariner. He turned up in a maritime city and married a local girl (of this parish) but did not provide posterity with any clue as to his parish or where he had sailed in from!

Society of Genealogists

At the end of this month Who Do You Think You Are? Live returns to Olympia from the 24th to 26th February and one of the popular benefits of attending this event is the the Society of Genealogists Family History Show will be part of the weekend. Apart from the talks given there is a fantastic chance to book some time with an expert who can help you look at ways to tackle your obstinate brick wall. A chance to speak one-to-one with a local, regional or specialist expert may be what is needed to allow you to get through your brick wall.

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

 

Disclosure: The links in this post are Compensated Affiliate links. If you decide to buy the product I may receive a commission.

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Fantastic Society of Genealogist Course!

Society of GenealogistsI’ve been to London this weekend and, on Saturday, I attended a great course at the Society of Genealogists on My Ancestor Came From Devon given by the society’s Genealogist Else Churchill.

Over the afternoon we were introduced to what we would be able to find in the library at the SoG in Charterhouse Buildings and where to look on the internet for Devon sources.

The talk encompassed sources for beginners to beyond and if you can’t make it down to Devon itself and find getting to London easier, then what is available at the SoG really is a good alternative for anyone who, like me, have Devonian ancestors.

I shall be returning to this lecture in a future post, but today I’d just like to mention some of the resources that were highlighted by Else Churchill.

The Society of Genealogists has registers for about 10,000 parishes. It houses published indexes and finding aids including the Devon FHS publications and also has many transcripts and indexes in microfilm and CDs.  There are various trade directories spanning from 1783 to the 1930s in the library and poll books particularly from Exeter and Plymouth.

Many of us subscribe to one or other of the subscription sites, but very few of us can afford to belong to more than one or two. Well that is where a visit to the SoG  can be useful as they have free access to a number of the pay per view websites so allowing us to do searches on the sites that we don’t subscribe to ourselves. This is an important resource for the family historian, as often the way the database has been transcribed can have a bearing on what you are able to find on one over another. So if you have hit a brick wall and can’t find a forbear on one site then it is worth looking on another. Also one may be stronger for the counties that you are interested in. Findmypast turns out to be particularly good for Devon.

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Tracing my Great-Grandfather in Trade Directories

Directories1869 at TheGenealogist.co.uk

I’ve used trade directories before, when I was tracing my tradesmen ancestors down in Plymouth. At that time I’d found one enterprising forebear, of mine, who had been a Victualler and Brass founder on the 1861 census employing  one woman, six men and some boys in this Devon City. This had lead me on to use the University of Leicester’s 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.

This week I had turned my attention to my maternal great-grandfather. In a book, complied on the family, that I was lucky enough to have found on the shelves of the Society of Genealogists, in Goswell Road, London, my ancestor was given a brief mention in between his more illustrious brother’s, cousin’s and forefather’s. What I was able to glean, from this book, was that Edward Massy Hay had been a merchant in London for a period in the 1860’s, after a short spell in the army.

The book had been complied by his Father, Charles Crosland Hay and completed by his cousin on the death of the former. It gave me a clue that all was not well in the business world of Edward, as a line simply said: “Partner in the firm of Stevens & Hay, Merchants in London; on its failure he became a tea-planter in Ceylon.”

My first reaction was to see if the business went bankrupt and was mentioned in the London Gazette. I checked the website at www.london-gazette.co.uk, where it is possible to search back through the archives for free, but I found nothing on the business. I’d read a tip that it was always worth checking the Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes, in case the bankruptcy had been hidden in one of these publications. The results came back negative and so it looks as if the business was wound up without going bankrupt.

Recently, on taking a look around TheGenealogist.co.uk‘s data sets, I came across the 1869 Kelly’s Post Office Directory for London on their site. By entering “Stevens and Hay” I was eventually able to locate their business to an office at 65 Fenchurch Street, London. EC3

Moving on, to a Kelly’s Directory for 1880 London, I found my great-grandfather listed as living in Princes Square, Bayswater, London. Also at that address was his sister, Mrs Mary Ann Webster, whose husband was in the Madras Civil Service. But I had already begun investigating the move to Ceylon (today known as Sri Lanka), by my ancestor. By 1880 he was appearing in a directory for that island, as well as at Bayswater!

From a website, dedicated to the history of Ceylon Tea (www.historyofceylontea.com), I found there are links to many years of the Ferguson’s Ceylon Directory. In 1880 Edward M. Hay was an Assistant for R.Books & Co of London, in the British Colony. He appears in several of the directories, one of which has him as Chairman of his local area’s planters association and in 1905 he was listed as the owner of a tea estate called Denmark in Dolosbage, Ceylon.

This little peep into my great-grandfather’s life was made possible by the use of various trade directories and the fact that they have been scanned and uploaded to websites on the internet. But before I turned off my computer, on a whim I decided to enter the address that he had shared with his sister in London into Google street view. I was rewarded with the Georgian fronts of Princes Square and easily found the house where he lived. It is now a small hotel and so its address is on the internet.

A search for 65 Fenchurch Street, and the offices, shows that they have been replaced by a modern vista. Lastly, I did a Google search for the Denmark Tea Estate in Sri Lanka and by chance it still exists! Using Google Earth I was able to use the satellite view to see, from the air, the hillside estate that once was where my great-grandfather cultivated tea.

It seems to me to be well worth using some of these alternative tools, available to us, when doing family history research. They may add just a little bit of flesh to the bones of facts gained from the census data or the birth, marriage and death records for our ancestors.

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Another Good Reason for Joining the Society of Genealogists

I got an email today as I’m a member of the Society of Genealogists. It gave me the good news about some of the new records that have recently been added to SoG Data Online and which can be accessed free of charge from home by members of the Society.

The first is: “The Apprentices of Great Britain records” which list apprentices from all over the country between 1710 and 1773, and even some from 1773-1811.

If you have London ancestry back in the 17th and 18th centuries then the next data set that is available via this site and could be of great use top you is the “Boyds London Inhabitants”.

Thirdly the “Teachers Registration Council registers” will be of use to those with teachers in their family tree. Although the latter commence in 1914, they include teachers who started their careers from 1870-1948. Over 100,000 people are listed, more than half of them being women.

Next is “The Trinity House Calendars” which gives details of a number of merchant seamen and their families. The petitions for assistance from the wives/widows of seamen who have either been injured or have died are full of biographical detail.

There are now nearly 10 million records on SoG Data Online. To access them you need to be a member of the Society of Genealogists and then you can login via the MySoG link.

www.sog.org.uk

Society of Genealogists.

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Society of Genealogist Put More Online For Members.

Society of Genealogists

I’ve recently received my copy of the Society of Genealogists’ magazine Vol 30 No 5 and read in the Library Update section that in 2010 they added a total of 1,800 new items. Now for anyone that knows the building at 14 Charterhouse Buildings in the City of London, you probably wonder how they manage to keep on fitting it all in.

In the past quarter the SoG has  acquired, for those members with North American ancestors, the latest supplement to the Passenger & Immigration Lists Index. If you have forebears from Cheltenham, then you will probably be pleased to consult the Court Books of the Manor of Cheltenham, that covers from 1692-1803. While the parish of Burnley in Lancashire’s registers have been purchased with sponsorship from The Halsted Trust and a quantity of Somerset registers have also been added to the shelves.

When ever I am in London I really look forward to a visit to EC1 to do a bit of research at the SoG among the books, manuscripts, collections and microfiche readers. But belonging to the Society also allows members to have access to some of the data from within a special Members Area of the SoG website. Recently this section has been renamed SoG Data Online and newly uploaded are the Vicar-General and Faculty Office marriage licence indexes, the PCC will index for 1750 to 1800, the Shoreditch St Leonard burials and the St Andrew Holborn marriages.

More records are promised online, including those data collections that were previously hosted by the British Origins websites and have now become available on FindMyPast.com website in a new deal with this operator who, it would seem are sponsoring the SoG as it celebrates its Centenary year.

I can not recommend more highly this organisation and wish it a happy hundredth!



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Interesting Approach from Devon Family History Society

I commend people, who are researching their family trees, to go and join the Family History Societies for the areas where their ancestors came from. Not the least for the help you can get from these knowledgeable folk.

One of my own areas of interest is Devon and so it was, with much pleasure, that I bumped into the party manning the Devon Family History Society’s stall at the recent Who do You Think You Are? LIVE show.

When I say, bumped into them, it was more like they bumped into me; or at least their visitors did and I do mean this quite literally!

You see, I was volunteering for a few hours each day on the Society of Genealogists book stand at the show. Our area backed on to the Devon FHS stall and as a busy group of people, armed with their computers loaded with data to search for show goers, they had many visitors wanting to sit down with them. This meant that the chairs sometimes strayed into Society of Genealogist’s territory and hence the bumps to the back of mine, and others on the SoG bookstall’s legs and rears!

Now, to show that I certainly took it with good grace, I decided to interview the Chairman of Devon Family History Society, Maureen Selley about a certain interesting aspect to our FHS (yes, I declare an interest, I am a member!) and that is the Acorn Club.

Apart from the fantastic data that the society has, some of which it is now licensed to findmypast.co.uk a rare facility is its pages for young family historians.

Watch the Chairman, Maureen Selley, explain here…

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