Find Your Naval Ancestors

Portsmouth Royal Navy dockyard

Having very recently visited the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth my interest in my seafaring ancestors has been revived.

As an island nation I am sure that many of the readers of this blog will have ancestors that have gone to sea, if only for a short time. Many of us will have family who have served in the Royal Navy and so have discovered just how intimidating it is to research a Royal Naval ancestor, especially if we compare it to looking for those of our kin who were in the British Army or the Royal Air Force.

Tracing Your Naval Ancestors – A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Fowler gives the reader a clear guide on how to use and, importantly, how to access the Naval records which are scattered among numerous repositories around the British Isles with the majority housed at The National Archives in Kew.

The book begins by giving the reader a short introduction on how to get started in their research. Simon Fowler assumes the reader has little prior knowledge of the navy and its history. His book shows you how to trace an officer, petty officer or rating from the seventeenth century up to the 1960s using records at the National Archives and elsewhere.

The reader will discover that the records of RN officers and ratings can be located back to 1660, often with more success than if you were looking for similar records in the army. As holdings for officers and ratings up to 1914 are different Simon Fowler has separated the two into their own chapters. A separate chapter then addresses the records from 1914 which covers all ranks.

There are additional chapters for the various auxiliary services; the coastguard; the Royal Marines; the WRNS; HM Dockyards; the sick and wounded and researching ships.

Depending on the era in question there are many naval records that the reader can use to discover more about the Royal Navy and its personnel. This well illustrated book shows the reader where to find the records, explains well what they contain and is an excellent addition to anyone’s library if they are interested in Royal Naval ancestors.

Tracing Your Naval Ancestors Paperback Editions available to buy from the following links:

Paperback £12.99

 

Kindle edition £ 4.99

 

ePub edition £ 4.99

 

 

Buy Tracing Your Naval Ancestors

and many other great family history books now from Pen & Sword.

Compensated affiliate links used in the post above http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/

Send to Kindle

8 million newspaper pages online at The British Newspaper Archive

 

British Newspaper ArchiveI noticed this week that The British Newspaper Archive has expanded the number of pages that we family historians can view on their site. I do like old newspapers as a family history resource!

It seems that you can now explore 8 million newspaper pages at The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) after the website reached a major milestone this week.

While adding editions of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Cheshire Observer and The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, the counter on the homepage ticked over to display 8,000,000 pages.

 

The amount online has doubled since the website launched with 4 million pages in November 2011. The time period covered now stretches from 1710 – 1954 too, much broader than at launch.

If you tried searching for a person, event or place before without success, its well worth trying again now. Visit www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk to try a search for free.

Thousands of pages are added every week, so your chance of finding something amazing increases all the time. 825,000 new pages have already been added so far this year.

 

You can see a list of the newspaper titles that have been added or updated in the last 30 days at
www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/home/LatestAdditions.


Disclosure: Links are compensated affiliate links.

 

Send to Kindle

Dead Art? Then & Now.

 Memorial national photo competition £1000 prize winner!

The Memorial Awareness Board (MAB) runs the annual competition that challenges the public to take two photos, one representing the ‘then’ and one representing the ‘now’. It’s an opportunity to showcase memorials ‘unsung beauty’.

Robin Bath. Now
Robin Bath. NOW

 

Robin Bath. Then
Robin Bath. Then

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The competition, sponsored by Funeral Directors Lodge Brothers (www.lodgebrothers.co.uk) was a huge success and with such a high standard of entries choosing the ten shortlisted proved a challenging task! Then ten were then published on the website and put to a public vote.

Winner Robin Bath from Fulham was delighted with the £1000 prize. Robin said “Thank you so much to MAB for the great opportunity. I am a keen photographer and found the subject matter of stone memorials most fascinating. Visiting cemeteries is a beautiful and peaceful pass time. Organisation’s like MAB are vitally important”. Robin also received a gold award certificate signed by the MAB chairman.

Competition sponsor Chris Lodge, (Managing Director of Lodge Brothers) presented Robin with the cheque by the Thames at Tower Bridge.

Earlier this month Robin Bath from London won the £1000 prize for a national photo competition designed to capture the beauty of stone memorials.
Earlier this month Robin Bath from London won the £1000 prize for a national photo competition designed to capture the beauty of stone memorials.

 

Congratulations to runner up Peter Heaton from York who won a digital camera. Peter is most inspired by photography and visiting cemeteries. He says “I was delighted to hear that I had won the Silver Award in the MAB photographic competition, I came across the competition online a couple of years ago and thought then that its subject would suit my style of work and interests. I began to look at the fascinating variety of memorials in my local cemetery.

Peter Heaton. THEN
Peter Heaton. THEN

 

It is reassuring to know that there is a body such as the MAB which contributes to the continuing interest and development of ourcountry’s memorials”.

 

 

 

New to this year were certificates signed by the MAB chairman who awarded a Gold, Silver and a selection of Bronze.

Peter Heaton. NOW
Peter Heaton. NOW

The Memorial Awareness Board is a non-profit organisation, representing memorial stonemasons and campaigning for sympathetic memorialisation in the UK. Its brand new website, www.rememberforever.org.uk, aims to inform the public and the press alike about their options regardingmemorialisation. Whether a loved one is buried or cremated they deserve to be remembered forever and a stone memorial is the best way to accomplish this. The website gives details of all types of stone memorial available from UK memorial masons.

Each year, the ‘Dead Art? Then and Now’ photography competition attracts entries from across the country. The purpose of the competition is to encourage the public to venture to their local cemeteries to discover the beauty of stone memorials, while helping them to understand the importance of stone memorials as a focus for grief in the short term, and agenealogy tool in the long term. The competition  is sponsored by Funeral Directors Lodge Brothers. Lodgebrothers.co.uk

Christopher Lodge, Director of Masonry at Lodge Brothers (Funerals) Ltd says, “ As a family business established over 200 years, we are really pleased to sponsor this unique photographic competition. Memorials play a part in our social history through both personal and public memorials. They are a lasting tribute to loved ones and those who have lost their lives for our country. We sincerely hopethat this competition shows the changes within our industry and society through the theme “Then and Now” and raises the awareness and importance of commemorating in stone.”

Send to Kindle

Finding Ships That my Merchant Navy Ancestors Sailed

 

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

I have a bit of salt in my blood, especially on my paternal side. This week I’ve been using the Crew List Index Project (CLIP) website to find out a bit more about some of them.

CLIP was set up to improve access to the records of British merchant seafarers of the late 19th century and has gathered the largest database of entries from crew lists.

While I was not successful in tracking down a crew list for the particular ship I was looking at this week I did manage to use their finding aids to flesh out a bit more information on a couple of vessels that my family have sailed.

 

On CLIP’s website they have a useful finding aid tool http://www.crewlist.org.uk/data/data.html

Selecting the Vessels by Name I was able to find the Official number for the  S.S. Dolphin and then I could  find her in a list that gave me her date and place where she was built and the address of her owners.

You need to tie a ship down to its official number as there may be several vessels of the same name, as is the case with the Dolphin. Also a ship may change its name in its lifetime but the official number is unique to it and never changes.

I found a reference to the Dolphin in a document in The National Archives which I will take a look at the next time I visit Kew and the TNA.

Using Google Books I was able to call up a Lloyd’s Register of Shipping but this time I could find no entry for this particular Dolphin. I have to say that I am only just starting out on this research and it is turning out to be fascinating. I will put what I learn about the process into a forthcoming lesson within my Family History Researcher course, which can be accessed by clicking the image below.

Join Family History Researcher

Send to Kindle

The Idle Poor and the Deserving

 

Southwell WorkhouseI have just been to Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire to look over an actual workhouse that is now run by the National Trust as a museum.

By doing this and seeing the layout of the accommodation, with its day rooms and exercise yards, my understanding of how these institutions worked has become clear.

 

In past times, before Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, the care of the poor members of the community fell to the monks in the various religious houses throughout England and Wales. With the reorganisation that the dissolution brought, those poor ancestors of ours who had the misfortune to fall on hard times, would then have become the responsibility of their parish.

Under this parish system, the old poor law had coped well enough until around the year 1800 when, under increasing demands being made on the system the authorities were forced to review the process for supporting the poor.

The situation was that unemployment had risen to new heights, as a result of the burgeoning industrialisation of the country. Britain now required less men to make the goods that had previously been manufactured by workers in the cottage industries.

On top of this the disaster of a succession of bad harvests that meant those who subsisted in rural areas found it difficult to feed themselves, added to the demand placed on the poor law system as it had been constituted.

As if this was not enough for the Government, the ending of the Napoleonic Wars had meant that a great number of soldiers now had come back from France and they had no work waiting for them at home.

The Deserving Poor.

In my family tree I was, at first, surprised that none of my ancestors seemed to have ended up in the workhouse. As I found more and more forebears I had become complacent that all my lot seemed to make it in the world without having to “Go On the Parish” and then I found one.

It was a sad shock for me as the lady in question had been the wife of a Master Mariner, the mother of several children who had all married and were making their way well in the world. But there she was in one of the census spending the end of her life in the workhouse!

Her husband was nowhere to be found in the census and so I speculated that he must have died abroad, not being able to find his death record. She, poor woman, had nowhere to go but into the workhouse.

But the workhouse was also a place where medical care could be given to those with little means in a time before the availability of free hospitals or medical insurance. So perhaps this explains why she was there? The deserving poor were segregated from the idle poor having different quarters and exercise yards.

The Idle Poor.

The number of workhouses had grown after the enactment of the Workhouse Test Act of 1723. The thinking behind this was that this new Act would help to prevent irresponsible claims being made on a parish’s poor rate. Something that concerned those who had to find the money to run the system as the funding of it was paid for by the wealthier members of the parish.

By the 1830s, in England and Wales, most parishes had at least one workhouse to send its poor to.

So what would any of our ancestors, unlucky enough to have found themselves in this position have faced? Those poor unfortunates who had no option but to seek “indoor relief” would have to endure unpalatable conditions inside the institution. It was designed to be thus so as to put people off from entering the workhouse unless they had run out of alternatives for survival outside.

Families were split up. Men and women segregated with children over seven separated from their mothers and forced to live in the children’s section.

On admission they would have to undress, surrender their own clothes until they were discharged, have a thorough wash and then dress in the workhouse uniform which was usually made of rough and shapeless material. This was all aimed at discouraging people from entering the system by stripping away part of their identity.

The belief, at the time, was that the undeserving poor were idle and so they were made to do tedious jobs. Inmates who were not aged or infirm would have to work for their keep. The jobs given to them were deliberately chosen to be monotonous and boring. At Southwell they would grind corn, pick oakum or, for the females, do laundry work.

Workhouse tasks

The picture to the left is of an old rope from the docks that the inmates would pick apart so that the fibres could be sold back to the docks to be used in the caulking boats and ships.

 

 

So what about the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 and how this shook up the system?

There will be more detail about the workhouse inside my course on English and Welsh family history at: http://www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

 

Join Family History Researcher

Send to Kindle

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.

Send to Kindle

Tracing Family Who Moved Abroad

Wedding Singapore 1951This week I have been tracing family who have left the shores of Britain to live and work, before returning here later.

For this I have found the incoming and outgoing passenger shipping records on ancestry.co.uk and the Britain Outbound Passenger lists on findmypast.co.uk useful for this.

I was able to pick up on my father emigrating to Singapore in August 1950 to work in what was then a British Colony.

Recently I have discovered that the National Library of Singapore has put its newspapers on line to search for free. Regular readers of my blog will be aware of how much I enjoy making use of the various newspaper resources in Britain such as the British Newspaper Archive.

The beauty of the Singapore collection is that it is free to search and you do not even have to register to do this. Naturally I was curious to see if my dad got himself into the papers while he was there and it is with some satisfaction that I found an article and photo of him on page 4 of The Straits Times on the occasion of his marriage to my mother at St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in Singapore in the November of 1951.

So sometimes, when searching for your British Family you have to think about looking outside of Britain for them.

What else did I find on the Singapore Newspaper site? Well nothing more on Dad and Mum, but quite a bit on my mother’s step-father who was an architect in Singapore and my Uncle Bill who was Deputy Health Officer of the Singapore City Council.

In my Family History Researcher Academy course, on English and Welsh Family tree research, I have a tutorial devoted to using the newspapers as well as lessons on how to use some of the other lesser known data sets.

The launch of the course at a special trial price was very successfully filled, but I have been asked if there is room for a few more members. I am considering these requests and could decide to open it up again shortly. To be kept informed go to: www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com/trial

Disclosure: Some of the links above are compensated affiliate links that may reward me if you buy their subscriptions.

 

Send to Kindle