Your Family Tree Magazine Features Channel Islands

 

Your Family Tree Magazine

 

Hooray! This month’s Your Family Tree Magazine ( May 2013 Issue 129) has a feature on uncovering your Channel Island kin and it is very good.

Naturally, as a local – I am a Jersey-born resident of this most southerly point in the British Isles – I was immediately attracted to this article. I flicked through to page 34, as soon as I opened my copy.

You may have noticed that I say above “I am Jersey-born” and not that “I am a Jerseyman”. This is because, when you live here, you become aware of certain linguistic conventions that we islanders abide by.

To be regarded as a proper Jerseyman I would need to have not only been born here, but to have come from a line of Jerseymen and women that have roots here stretching back several generations. It is also best that those roots can be traced to nearby Normandy and that your name has a French origin to it. My roots and name just do not qualify!

I am the son of incomers, my father is English, and my Norman blood is courtesy of an ancestor called de la Haye who emigrated to Scotland from Normandy, around the 12th century, established the Clan Hay and has filtered down to me here.

I can, however, and do claim to be a local.

 

Within this blog I have several pages written by guest contributor James McLaren of the Channel Islands Family History Society that will complement the YFT magazine’s feature. Take a look at Jersey Family History for tips on researching in Jersey.

For the record, here in Jersey is how we refer to what goes on within our island. Locals may wince if you refer to “researching  your family history on Jersey”. We are, after all, a separate legislative jurisdiction.

We do owe allegiance to the English Crown – the successor to the Dukedom of Normandy and are British. We do not owe allegiance to England, nor are we part of the United Kingdom. We are a Crown Peculiar. So to avoid annoying Channel Islanders, do not insinuate that we are loyal to England, and then you will find that we are a friendly and welcoming bunch.

When I was a schoolboy, here in Jersey, I learnt  a splendid repost to someone from the Mainland asking: “So how long have the islands belonged to England?”

The answer always was: “I think you will find that we conquered you in 1066.”

The logic behind this is that the Channel Islands are the last remaining part of the Duchy of Normandy that remains loyal to our Duke, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. That as Normans we conquered the English with Duke William. Simple!

 

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Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE

I was due to meet Anthony Adolph at the Who Do You Think you Are? LIVE show where he was signing copies of his book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, available now by clicking the link.

 

As he began signing the books on the Pen & Sword stand he was joined by the Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski, a Russian Princess who had grown up in straiten circumstances and now lives in London.

She has now traced her family history back and finds that her family had once had possession of Mir Castle in Belarus. Her success in finding her aristocratic ancestry is one that many family historians would like to replicate!

Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski and Anthony Adolph
Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski and Author Anthony Adolph
Anthony Adolph and Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski
Anthony Adolph and Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski on the Pen & Sword stand at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE.
Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski
Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski
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Would you like some free credits at Find My Past?

Start Your Family Tree Week is back from  26 Dec 2012 – 1 Jan 2013 with special offers on accessing some search sites!

Hope you had a lovely Christmas day yesterday. At this time of year, when we are visiting or calling family, that we can often make a break through in our family tree research by simply talking to our relatives.

But now some of the family tree research websites are also making it easier for some of us to participate with special Christmas holiday offers. For example Find My Past has 50 free credits available to use for a short time.

Due to the past success of the Start Your Family Tree Week it is back for its third year.  From today, the 26th December to the 1st January, Genes Reunited and findmypast.co.uk will be helping members start their family trees with special offers, free getting started guides, discounts and competitions for the chance to win fantastic prizes!

Genes Reunited has some great prizes on offer during the week, competitions will be posted on the message boards and Facebook page.  To see the Genes Reunited getting started guides, visit www.genesreunited.co.uk/static.page/syftw

Findmypast.co.uk will be offering 50 free credits to get involved with the fun and to start searching records, coupled with quiz questions, guides and templates that make getting started as simple as can be! Experts are by no means left out in the cold either, with more advanced questions alongside beginners’ tasks and a “brick wall challenge day” will be held on Facebook and Twitter on the 31st December! The entire week’s calendar of activities can be found at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/start-your-family-tree-week/index

 

And here is another little present for you!The British Newspaper Archive online

For a limited time there is an offer of an exclusive 10% off the 12 Month Package to the British Newspaper Archive!

You will need to use this link to the British Newspaper Archive.
And then use the voucher code: fHmTenYtR (to be entered at the point of checkout, stage 1)

You then get:
o A 12 Month package
o Validity: 26 Dec 2012 – 31 Jan 2013
o Available in the UK Only

What do customers get with a 12 Month Package to the British Newspaper Archive?

o Unlimited credits / page views
o Access to all digitised newspaper pages dating back 300+ years
o Access to ‘My Research’ – a personal area to keep track of searches, add notes and bookmark viewed items into folders

 

So happy holidays and good luck with your research!



British Newspaper Archive


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Browsing Old Newspapers for Ancestors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

 

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New Speedier Search for Family History Research

All in one search for family history

I’ve been away for the last three weeks, some of which was spent on tracking down my ancestors and some of which was spent talking to living relatives and gathering more family history stories together.

While I was away my scheduled updates of this blog seemed to have gone awry. Here is one that should have gone out last weekend!

One of subscription sites that I use personally is TheGenealogist.co.uk and I see it has launched a brand new all-in-one search feature. This allows users to do a single search across the entire website, which is a valuable extra dimension in my opinion.

The all-in-one interface now also incorporates their keyword search, and they are pretty excited about this being the first time that these two features have been brought together to aid family history research.

With this great feature you are now able to instantly display all the records for a particular ancestor, whilst filtering out all the other irrelevant results from the search.

The press release tells us that.. No other genealogical website currently produces such quick and relevant results for your ancestor search and has the flexibility to produce results for a number of different generations saving an enormous amount of time for researchers. Instead of offering search results that cast the net wide, like most genealogy websites, TheGenealogist segments the data down offering more accurate and relevant results – no more wasted time sifting through lots of irrelevant records to find the person you need.

The Genealogist claims Accurate and reliable results in a fraction of the time explaining that for the first time you are able to enter an ancestor’s name into a search along with an approximate year for their birth and the option of keywords that can then trace an ancestors life through the records, from birth to census, marriage and more.

What is more is that Address Lists are also included, thus allowing the family history researcher to view other residents and view any other potential family links.

Mark Bayley, Head of the Online Division at TheGenealogist, feels the new search facility is an exciting new development in the world of online research:

‘Customers will get a much deeper insight into their ancestors in a fraction of the time. They’ll be able to find everything we know about someone almost instantly with a single linked master search.

‘This is a powerful tool not currently available elsewhere. TheGenealogist is all about user-friendly searches, not just records and this new feature further enhances what we offer. We aim to make searches as useful as possible, we have our unique keywords searches that can scan our records quickly and it is now quicker and easier than ever with our new All-In-One Search.’

With its new search tool and using just the basic information, TheGenealogist, can narrow searches down to the specific and allow the researcher the ability to generate successful accurate results. Ideal for all professional and amateur family historians. To take a look go to TheGenealogist.co.uk

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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

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Revist Your Family Tree Brick Walls!

Devon County Record Office
Devon County Record Office

This week I have been musing upon one of my to-do-lists! I am keen to get back a generation of Thorn’s from Devon, but as yet I do not have enough information to make the break through as to who were my 5x great-grandparents and when and where were my 3x great-grandparents, John and Sara, born?

As more and more datasets are released on the various online subscription sites, however, I periodically revisit this brick wall of mine.

 

John Thorn married Sarah Branton on the 12th January 1794 at Charles Church in Plymouth. The bride was of that parish and the groom was a “mariner” with no mention of which parish he was from. I have wondered if this meant that both bride and groom were of the same parish, or did the vicar simply omit to record where John Thorn sailed in from in a busy maritime city such as Plymouth. I have no evidence either way, all I know is that they married after banns had been called and in the Parish Register for Charles Plymouth in the year 1794 and their marriage entry is No: 60.

On the 28 September 1794, however, their first born son John Branton Thorn was baptised at St.Saviours Dartmouth (IGI C050791) which suggests that they moved to this Devon coastal town just after they got married. Was this a case of returning to the groom’s town to live? Or was it where his job took him?

Working back a generation I would now like to identify John’s baptism and then his parents marriage and baptisms. First I need to know John’s age as this information is not given in the marriage register. That is a typical state of affairs for an English Parish Register where very sparse amounts of detail are given. The exception is for the entries to be found in a Dade or Barrington style Church Records, which are named after the clergymen who tried to introduce more fulsome registers, having some success in Yorkshire for a period.

 

Back to the subject of  John and Sarah Thorn in Devon. By searching in the microfiche records of church registers for Dartmouth, at the Devon County Record Office at Moor Hall in Exeter, I have now discovered the burial of one Sarah Thorn of Townstal (the name given to the Parish of St Clement in Dartmouth and the mother church of St Saviours) on June the 21st in 1818 at the age of 50 in the St Saviours register for 1818, entry No:190.

I went back through the registers and the Bishop’s Transcripts for 1811 for Townstal and I then found one John Thorne buried on May the 19th 1811.

I also found a John Thorn buried in St Saviours in 1810 (page 19) who was born in 1769. Could any of these be my ancestors?

Looking at baptisms for any John Thorn around the time of 1768/9 or so I see that Find My Past has some Devon Church Records that can be usefully accessed on line. There is none for the date in question at Dartmouth, but one in Dorset may be a possibility.

My next thought is to check to see if I can find the banns book for Charles in Plymouth and also the one for Dartmouth to see if this provides me with any more clues about where John and Sarah came from and to also check now for baptisms using the microfiche at the County Record office in Exeter.

 

It is a good idea that you periodically revisit any brick walls that you have as new data may have become available and your skills in family history may have improved since the last time you dusted off the problem. In the next few weeks I am planning a visit the County Record Office to see if I am able to push my tree back another generation.

Watch this space!

 

The family history websites that I find really useful 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

 

 

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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More Questions than Answers when researching the Family Tree!

Do you ever feel that there are more questions than answers, when researching your family tree?

It seems to me that the more answers we seek, to questions about our ancestors, often trigger more queries about them. This is a bit how I feel this weekend, after I’ve returned home from a visit to Devon this week.

I called in at the Devon Family History Society’s “Tree House” in Exeter where I was able to spend a profitable few hours reading the files that they have on families with the surnames I am researching. I was also able to look at what they had on the parishes I was interested in, so giving me some added background to the places where my ancestors lived and worshiped. I came away with a set of useful printouts, for 30 pence each, from a search of their database for records of the persons I was seeking information on. This would save me much time at my next stop, the Devon County Record Offices in Exeter when looking in the parish register microfiches.

 

Devon County Record Office
Devon County Record Office

I have visited the County Record offices before and had find it was easy to go off on side tracks, so this time I had come prepared with a set of answers that I was seeking from the records held there.  As always, however, simply by searching the documents and the microfiche of baptisms, weddings and burials, together with the microfilms of Bishop’s Transcripts gave me new lines of inquiries to make. In the course of looking for one ancestor I would spot instances of the family names cropping up in the documents and make a note of the details on my pad of paper.

While I was looking at parish records, for Dartmouth’s three C of E churches, in the hope of finding the burial of one ancestor, then I came across burials of the children of another. I saw a rapid succession of children of my three times great grandparents being baptized and buried by the established church and I wondered if this may explain why the next six are all baptized in the Presbyterian chapel in the town. But this doesn’t explain why one child, who died in 1827 aged 4 years old, is buried by the Church of England in January of that year, while his brother was christened by the minister of the Flavel Presbyterian Church in April 1826, in the year before the death of the first. From a search of BMDregisters.co.uk I have found that all further siblings are christened in that nonconformist church.

While at the Devon County Record Office I was able to examine the books deposited from that Presbyterian church, but could find no mention of my ancestors remaining members in this chapel in later years. The books, that I was able to see, did not go back as far as the time of the christenings in my family, but they did contain lists of members of the church which could be very useful to others researching Presbyterian forebears in Dartmouth.

One of the questions that I had wanted to answer, from my visit to the County Record Office, was did my four time great grandparents stay in Dartmouth? They can not be found in the 1841 census. Now that, I assumed, was because they had died before it was taken. I did indeed find, by working back in years through the burial registers of the parish church, the entry for a likely pair of candidates with the right names and ages that would have made them 25 and 26 on their wedding date in 1794. Yes, this is only supposition that I have found the right Thorn’s in Dartmouth as rather frustratingly there are others with the same Christian and surname as my male ancestor in the town. But these two are the closest matches for the facts that I have.

So the lesson is to embrace the discovery of the new questions, that will need answers to in due course. Yes, I went to Devon seeking the answer to one thing and came away with semi-answers and more family history questions to explore. But this is a good thing as it gives me more avenues to research and more information to seek out. It may seem like the jigsaw puzzle is becoming more complicated, as more pieces are being placed on the table in front of me, but in the end a better picture is emerging of my family history. And for that I am excited!

The Mouth of the River Dart.
The Mouth of the River Dart.

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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When Ancestors Dissapear from the Records

I was pretty confident of this ancestor search. I thought it was going to be a breeze to find the family history records for this family group. I had located the family in the 1881 census through a combination of knowing the names of the parents and the birth dates of the father and mother.

So next box to tick was to find them in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census for England & Wales, or at least those parties that had survived as there is always the possibility that some may have passed away between censuses.

But straight away the 1891 census proved a problem for me. I search using the head of the household, then his wife and then the children. Nothing!

I wondered if the surname had been poorly transcribed and so I used the option to search on a name that would have been similar, with no result. I then went back to the 1881 and took a look at the street name and town with the intention of seeing if they had stayed put in the ten years between the census being taken but their surname had been incorrectly gathered. This is a top tip that I was given some time back and on www.thegenealogist.co.uk there is a useful tool that allows researchers to search the census by street name. I’ve used this in the past with success, but the whole lane seemed to have been missed out, or had changed its name in the intervening period.

There is also the facility on www.findmypast.co.uk to do an address search and so I tried using that and quickly identified the road as it had been listed slightly differently in the later census. This shows up the beauty of using more than one site to do your research with. If you can’t find a record in one subscription site’s records then remember this tip is to try using another site, because each company will have used different transcribers to produce their indexes and so you may get lucky with your brick wall.

On thegenealogist.co.uk there is another tool called the family forename search that allows researchers to enter a number of the first names from a family.

This is a fantastic way of digging out difficult to find families in the census. With this feature you are able to search for a family that you have not been able to locate using the surname – possibly because of some unexpected spelling variation. You can use the forenames only as a group search and the results can be refined by adding or subtracting a surname or family members.

As many families had a large number of children, the odds of another family in the same county being an exact match is quite remote. It is possible to narrow the search by year and county, if required, and enter up to 6 possible forenames that you would be expecting to find within a family group.

Hope these tips help.

Census on Computer Screen

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Irish Family History Forum Launcehd by findmypast.ie



Findmypast.ie has announced that they have launched one of the first online forums that is solely dedicated to those people researching their Irish family history. This new forum is an online community for all those Irish diaspora who are looking for a place to discuss everything from researching Irish family history and Irish geography, to success stories and what it means to be Irish and its free to all registered users.

This is the findmypast family of websites first foray into community based chat and it seems that they recognised the inherent difficulties involved in looking for Irish ancestors was one of the reasons for setting it up. The forum will enable amateur and professional family historians alike to ask their family history questions to like-minded researchers across the world. The hope is that it will enable members to benefit from the wealth of experience gained from those who have previously hit brick walls in their research and then overcome them.

Brian Donovan of findmypast Ireland and long-time member of the Irish genealogy community commented: “The findmypast.ie forum is another indication of findmypast’s dedication to providing the world’s best platform for researching your Irish family history. I wish there had been an option like this available to me when I first started in genealogy”

The forums are separated into half a dozen different message boards, and once you are a registered user you will be able to start a new discussion on any of the six boards. Users will be able to add responses to topics which have already been posted by others as is normal in a forum. The six message board topics are to include General Discussion, Using the Records, Tracing Specific Ancestors, Places and Geography in Ireland, Your Finds and Success Stories and What Does it Mean to be Irish?

Anything that helps people to break down brick walls, in Ireland, is to be welcomed.


Disclosure: Links in this post are Compensated Affiliate links to findmypast.ie

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