The National Archives Event in Kew – Using Migration Records

NEWS:

Talk and document display

Using examples of records and case studies relating to both immigrants and emigrants held in The National Archives at Kew (U.K.) collection, this talk will explain how to search for and interpret records such as passenger lists, passports, registration and naturalisation records.

The National Archives Event – Using Migration Records

This talk will be delivered by Roger Kershaw, Migration Records Specialist at The National Archives in the U.K.

Friday 24 April 2020 14:00 – 15:30

To book: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/using-migration-records-tickets-93922152687

Timings are indicative. Talk expected to last one hour, including 15 mins for audience Q&A.

TNA runs a range of events and exhibitions on a wide variety of topics. For more details, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/whatson.

The National Archives logo

 

 

 

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Finding Women Who Served in WWI and II

A WRNS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A WWI WRNS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
On my recent visit to my father I got to talking to him about his mother, my grandmother, and her service in both of the World Wars.

What I gathered from his recollection of her was that in WWII she had been a Leading Petty Officer Wren (WRNS) stationed at Devonport while he was a teen-aged schoolboy. She was living in a flat off the Hoe until the blast from a bomb in one of the raids on Plymouth forced her to find a safer flat on the fringe of Dartmoor. Moving to an ex-nursing home within fifty yards of the Railway station at Bickleigh, with a line into Plymouth, she saw service with the Women’s Royal Naval Service throughout the conflict.

 

It also transpires that in the First World War, as well, she had served in the dockyard before her marriage to my grandfather in 1918. This opened up my mind to the possibility of doing some research into her time in Devenport.

 

With this information about her First World War service I was fascinated to find that The National Archives (TNA) have an on-demand webinar (first put online in 2015) that can help researchers understand what records survive at TNA for women who served in the First World War.

Take a look here:

http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/webinar-women-first-world-war/

While not all the records survive from WWI it is worth a look to see if your ancestor’s records are there.

Second World War records, however, are more difficult as they still remain with the Ministry of Defence. More on this subject in another post.

 

 

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TheGenealogist adds more Colour Tithe Maps for Buckinghamshire online

 

 

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.

 I was asked to put together an article on Buckinghamshire Tithe Maps this week as TheGenealogist has added more Colour Tithe Maps from The National Archives to their National Tithe Records collection. With this release researchers can see the plots owned or occupied by ancestors that lived in this ‘home county’ at the time of the survey in the 19th century on colour plans.

 

Colour Tithe map of Buckingham 1847
Colour Tithe map of Buckingham 1847

 

The new data includes:

  • Over 40,000 Plots of Land covering the years from 1837 to 1855 with some much later plans of altered apportionments
  • Joining the apportionment record books and the previously published grey-scale maps

These tagged colour maps and their fully searchable tithe schedule records are from those held at The National Archives. The collection gives the family history researcher the ability to search by name and keyword (for example parish or county) to look for all levels of society from large estate owners to occupiers of tiny plots such as a cottage or a cowshed.

 

Why not read my article written for TheGenealogist: Buckinghamshires-colour-tithe-maps-online-

 

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Over 650,000 criminal records added to TheGenealogist

 

 

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.

 

I learnt quite a bit about black sheep ancestors this week while researching a convict who had served some time on a prison hulk anchored off Bermuda. My findings helped me to write the article for TheGenealogist at the end of this post.

The prisoner, that the story is about, had been convicted of his offence in England and then, being fit and healthy, was shipped out to the British territory to do back breaking quarrying and building work. He was housed on a convict-hulk and put to work in the construction of the Royal Navy’s dockyard on the island. After completing his sentence he was then allowed back to England. But he got into trouble again and was sentenced to a further period of Transportation for seven years. (To find out where he ended up you will have to read the article – it is probably not where you may expect him to be sent.)

I learnt from my research that many of our convict ancestors, who were sent to Australia, were never permitted to return – while those sent to the hulks at Bermuda were able to come home as long as they served the full sentence. The convicts on the hulks at Bermuda could, however, opt for a reduced sentence if they chose to go to Australia or South Africa. What they could not do is stay in Bermuda after their sentence and the option for South Africa, it seems, was not really available as when they got there they were refused entry and had to go on to Australia!

 

 

Here is the Press Release from TheGenealogist and the article link:
TheGenealogist logo
TheGenealogist has added 651,369 quarterly returns of convicts from The National Archives’ HO 8 documents to their Court & Criminal Records collection. With this release researchers can find the details of ancestors that broke the law and were incarcerated in convict hulks and prisons in the 19th century.

Prisoners on the hulks from The Illustrated London News on TheGenealogist
Prisoners on the hulks from The Illustrated London News on TheGenealogist

The new data includes:

  • 651,369 Records covering the years 1824 to 1854
  • Quarterly returns from Convict Hulks, Convict Prisons and Criminal Lunatic Asylums

 

These fully searchable records are from the The Home Office: Sworn lists of convicts on board the convict hulks and in the convict prisons (HO 8). They give the family history researcher fascinating facts that include the particulars of age, convictions, sentences, health and behaviour of the convict, as well as which court sentenced them and where they were serving their sentence.

Read TheGenealogist’s article “Criminal records of convicts on the Hulks” at:

https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/featuredarticles/2018/criminal-records-of-convicts-on-the-hulks-739/

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I learn something from every visit to The National Archives

 

The National Archives

I’m just back from a flying visit to The National Archives at Kew.

Every time I visit TNA I get something out of it and today was no exception! I discovered the delights of records that are not available anywhere else to search.

I went along to research several different lines of enquiries, one of which was for an ancestor of mine who had given his profession on his son’s baptism as ‘tide waiter’. This is a type of customs officer who waits for the ships that come in on the tide and then checks them for contraband or goods that are subject to duty. He was in one of the census as a Customs Officer and has appeared as this in some family notes I received from a distant cousin.

My initial research using the Discovery search engine on www.nationalarchives.gov.uk had me confused. A few minutes with the help desk staff on the first floor reading room, however, pointed me towards the microfilms of the CUST 39/3 that are the records for the establishment at the different ports – basically the Staff Lists with details of staff employed by the Board of Customs.

I was able to spool forward to Plymouth, where my man was based and where in the 1851 census he was recorded as a Customs house officer. So if he had been a tidewater then his name would have been entered into the list of the Plymouth establishment. Alas, he was nowhere to be found which backs up my developing theory that he was an ‘Extra Gent’ (not on the establishment) customs officer and that he, or someone else, may have exaggerated a bit on his son’s baptismal record!

 

Ordering up the Customs Books at TNA
Ordering up the Customs Books at TNA

 

I then ordered up some Customs minutes books (CUST 28/199) and looked at any mention of Plymouth and names of Customs officers there. What I came away with was a much better understanding of the records and how,  if you are lucky enough to find your ancestor mentioned you can build a fair bit of colour to your family story. This would especially be true if your Customs Officer got himself into trouble. One of the original 1850s ledgers that I was able to thumb through was the Outport Records: Charges against Officers (CUST 66/217).

 

Customs officers' charge book
Charge Book

 

I didn’t find my ancestor mentioned in the book, but for those researchers who are able to find a forebear then it will be of great interest to them. The thick leather bound books with heavy bluish paper provide a fascinating insight into the discipline proceedings. The various cases are often recorded on the page verbatim. You can thus read the question asked by the Surveyor of the man before him and the answers given by the accused Tide Waiter. At the end you will find the verdict of whether the Customs Officer was to loose his job or not. All of which is written in the neat handwriting of a clerk from 167 years ago.

None of these records are digitized and so it is another example of why a visit to TNA can allow you to get to see records that just aren’t available elsewhere. So while I do a lot of my research online I always enjoy getting out to The National Archives, or a County Record Office, every now and again to delve into those records that are in their safekeeping but not digitized.

 

 

 

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Tracing ancestors as they changed address

 

Find your ancestors in Trades DirectoriesWe all know that we can find our ancestors’ address in the census taken between 1841 and 1911 in the U.K.

But we should remember that, just as we may have moved several times in between the last time that we were enumerated, so did our ancestors.

I was researching a particular forebear of mine and had got hold of his army service records. I was drawn to his address at the time of his attestation and then at the end of the war. The address had changed as a result of he and his wife going through a divorce.

I was recently in The National Archives in Kew and just adjacent to the area where The London Family History Centre has its area, located in the Reading Room of TNA, was a shelf of Trades, Residential and Court directories. While I had some time to wait for some research documents to be delivered, I began browsing these books. What I noticed was that if I looked through the different years, for my ancestor’s county, I could see that my subject moved around his home town a bit more frequently than I had previously supposed.

You don’t need to go to and archive, library or record office to find your ancestors in these directories as they can be easily accessed on many of the data websites as well.

Other records that can be used to map out the movements of an ancestor include the addresses given on civil registration certificates of birth, marriage and death and all sorts of other records that were created when our forebears came up against authority in its many guises.

The National Archives

My visit to The National Archives was to take a look at a court document that referred to my ancestor and there again it revealed yet another address for him.

It was at this stage that I realised that it would be a good idea if I started some notes on my mobile family member and so I began recording the dates and his various abodes in a list.

 

There are modules in my online course that look at the many different records that we are lucky in this country to get access to in more depth. If you are researching your ancestors from England and Wales and have hit a brick wall then my online Family History Researcher Academy course is available here:

www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/course

The course can be started and completed in your own time with 52 weekly tutorials being made available to you over a one year period. Currently I have some tempting offers so take a look before the price increases!

FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

 

 

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An Archive is not a Library

 

Dudley Archives West Midlands
Dudley Archives, West Midlands

Sometimes I am reminded that family historians can make assumptions that others understand what we mean when we refer to records and archives.

 

I was talking to a man at a bar recently and with a drink in hand he asked me to educate him a bit about this genealogy pastime of mine.

It was when I had got to the bit where I was explaining about records and how they are kept in archives and other repositories and he said to me:

“So when you go to one of these libraries, how do you know if they have the records that you are looking for?”

That was when I realised that, in his mind, he saw an archive as just a sort of library, with loads of dusty records sitting on the shelves just waiting for us to go in browse a little and then find our ancestors within the files.

Notwithstanding that some archives share a building with a library (I am thinking of Portsmouth and Birmingham to name just two) I had to explain that they were really very different beasts. It is complicated by some major libraries having collections of records that are relevant to our ancestor research – the likes of universities, the British Library and so on –  but generally a library and an archive are not the same thing.

 

The Nosey Genealogist at Birmingham Archives
The Nosey Genealogist at Birmingham Archives, floor 4 of the Library of Birmingham

This conversation reminded me of something I had read in Chapter 9 of Tracing Your Pre-Victorian Ancestors by John Wintrip. His explanation is that:

‘Archives resemble retail catalogue showrooms, in which customers use a catalogue to identify the items they require, which are then fetched from storage areas by members of staff.’

I so loved the analogy of browsing a sort of genealogical Argos where we select a record collection in which to research our ancestors. Inevitably I used it in my conversation and immediately saw a realisation cross the face of my friend at the bar.

 

TNA selecting a record in the reading room
Reserving a seat at a table in the reading room at TNA

I gave him an example of a recent visit I made to The National Archives. I used the Discovery catalogue to look for a particular person, whom I was researching, and found that TNA held his 1919 divorce papers. I was able to select it from the online catalogue, book myself a seat at a table in the reading room and then wait for the archive staff to bring the file of documents to be collected from the locker.

Collect your document from the locker assigned to your seat in the reading room
Collect your document from the locker assigned to your seat in the reading room

By now examining the bundle of papers I was able to understand that my subject had been divorced by his wife as he would not return home to her after fighting at the Somme in the First World War. Who knows the exact human details of the case, but the court ordered him to return to her or his marriage would be legally ended. The result was that he refused and so they were divorced; but happily they remarried at a much later date.

By also ordering up his service papers I discovered that, as he waited to be demobbed, he was being treated for depression as a result of his experiences in the war.

So my drinking acquaintance now understood that it was not simply a case of browsing down the shelves of a library, where all the books are arranged alphabetically by subject to find what we required, but that records were catalogued by reference in an archive and that we order up what we want from the strong rooms in which they are held.

Inside the strong room at the Jersey Archive
Behind the scenes in the strong room of the Jersey Archive

The subject of how archives reference those records in their catalogue is another matter altogether.  If you want to learn more then you could do a lot worse than reading the chapter on Archives in Tracing Your Pre-Victorian Ancestors by John Wintrip.

Tracing Your Pre-Victorian Ancestor

 

Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used above

 

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How to handle documents at the archive

 

How not to hand back documents at the national archive
Photos of how NOT to return documents at The National Archive taken from a display in one of the reading rooms at TNA.

 

I found myself at The National Archives this week renewing my reader’s ticket which had expired.

The process requires researchers to fill out a form online at a computer terminal and then watch a 5 minute video about how to handle TNA’s documents. I was surprised that, even to someone who thought that they knew all that stuff, the presentation taught me something!

It was how to examine a document with a seal attached that stopped me in my tracks. It was pointed out that the process for looking at the other side of the seal required the reader to deftly turn the entire document over, while turning the seal at the same time. The video suggested asking a member of staff for help, if the process was to daunting for the researcher to carry out themselves.

There were many other tips on how to unpack, look at and repack documents without damaging them – including how to deal with those tagged together with, what I recall from my days in stationery retailing, as ‘Treasury tags’.

When I finally got to the reading room, to collect my bundles of documents and start making my exciting discoveries from within the records that have not made it online at any of the subscription sites, I was fascinated to see that not everyone heeds the advice. In a display cabinet, by the service point, was a set of horrifying photographs of how some documents had been returned. It made me wonder at how unthinking some people can be. Having, presumably, extracted the benefit for them selves from viewing the papers, they had little concern as to the preservation of these records for anyone else.

 

The National Archives


If you’d like to learn more about how to tease out your elusive English or Welsh ancestors then go to:
www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

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Fantastic Addition Of Maps to Tithe Records

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.

 

This Press Release has come from the team at TheGenealogist.

Like so many, I love maps so this is really exciting news!

Detailed Town and Parish Maps go online for the first time

Small Map of Tinwell final

TheGenealogist has added maps to its comprehensive National Tithe Records collection.

All aspects of society were captured by this survey

Identify the land your ancestors owned or occupied in the 19th century

Get an idea of their working lives by the usage made of the plots by your forebears.

Fully linked tithe maps for Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Leicestershire with other counties to follow shortly

Geographically placing where your ancestors worked and lived

In partnership with TNA, TheGenealogist is making it possible to search over 11,000,000 records from across England and Wales and to view theses valuable original apportionment documents with linked maps on one website.

It’s always been a challenge to find where our ancestors lived, but now these records can help you explore the fields and houses in their home villages and towns. Never before have family historians been able search nationwide for these ancestral maps. We plan to have complete coverage in the next few months.

Tithe maps allow you to pinpoint your ancestors from our records. They show the boundaries of fields, woods, roads, rivers and the location and shape of buildings. The detail recorded within the maps and apportionment records will show you how much land they owned or occupied, where exactly in the parish it was, what the land was used for and how much tithe rent there was to pay.

The Tithe Commissioners maps are now housed in The National Archives (TNA). Due to their age and the materials used the original maps are often too fragile to handle. These were microfilmed in 1982 and some of the maps have deteriorated over the last 30 years. The first stage of the project is the release of these as online images.

Sir Robert Peel tithe map

There are over 12,000 main maps plus thousands of update maps as the boundaries of fields changed over time.

The second stage will be the delicate conservation and digitisation of the original colour maps.

“Tithe records are a rich resource for family historians as they cover owners and occupiers of land from all strata of early Victorian society.

These maps can be three to four meters in length by several meters in width and have gone through a multiple levels of digitisation and processing so that the huge maps can load instantly, even on a mobile phone.This fantastic resource was created in the period from 1837 to the early 1850s as a result of one of the largest surveys into the usage, ownership and occupation of land in England and Wales since the Domesday book.”

Mark Bayley – Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist

Diamond subscribers to TheGenealogist are able to view apportionment records for all of England & Wales, with the accompanying maps now being live for Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Leicestershire. The maps for the rest of England and Wales will follow over the coming months.

See their page TheGenealogist.co.uk/Tithe to freely search the records and learn more about them.

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Parish Chests are fascinating; their documents are treasures.

A Parish Chest
A Parish Chest in St Helen’s, Ashby-de-la-Zouche, Leicestershire.

I was reading the National Archives Blog about the exhibition in the Keeper’s Gallery of some ancient Storage Chests.

One of these magnificent chests, although not made specifically for this purpose,  was used to carry the Domesday survey around.

Another is a Muniment Chest, made to hold church documents and money.

I have been fascinated with these exibits from the first time that I spotted them on a visit to the National Archives many years back. I recall vividly peering at them in the low lighting of the museum at TNA and marvelling at their construction.

Of course many of our English and Welsh parish churches have their own version of these caskets, as from the time of the reformation it was decreed that all parishes were to have a chest with three locks for alms to be stored. These evolved to include the records produced by the Parish and thus we have the concept of Parish Chest Records.

On my travels around Leicestershire, I recently came across this example in St Helen’s Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouche.

What were the Parish Chest Records and how can they be of help to the family historian?

I have created a downloadable audio podcast that explains and it is available here: Nosey Genealogist Master Mind Podcast on the Parish Chest.

Parish Chest Audio Podcast
Parish Chest Audio Podcast
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