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

DNA Testing becomes accessible as TheGenealogist slashes prices!

 

TheGenealogist DNADNA Testing is now accessible to everyone as TheGenealogist offers DNA tests from under £50 and slashes prices by up to £150 on other tests!

Due to the increase in popularity of DNA testing and advances in technology, TheGenealogist is now able to offer DNA testing for genealogical research at significantly reduced prices. It’s never been more affordable to add your DNA to the world’s largest genealogical DNA database and start finding matches. You can see the prices and compare the various tests at www.thegenealogist.co.uk/dna

As family historians, DNA testing can really assist our family history research and help us break down those brick walls. Many researchers find the maternal line difficult to trace using traditional methods such as census and parish records. However, an mtDNA test could prove invaluable to your research and help you discover missing ancestors or add a new line to your research. The test can be taken by both males and females and helps you trace that maternal line.

It’s straightforward and can all be done online with the minimum of effort. A kit is sent out to you and you simply post it back to get added to the DNA database and discover your results!

Mark Bayley from TheGenealogist comments: ”With prices from under £50, DNA testing is now finally affordable to the vast majority of family historians. DNA matches are provided against the largest database in the world.”

The Range of DNA Tests on offer

TheGenealogist offers 3 types of testing- the ‘Mitochondrial’ mtDNA (maternal line) testing, the’ Y-Chromosome’ Y-DNA test (for paternal lines) and the Family Finder test, which tests both male and female lines and also tells you your ethnic percentages. With prices starting from under £50, it’s become more affordable than ever.

It’s amazing to discover how far DNA testing can help us trace our ancestry. A skeleton of a twenty three year old hunter who died 9,000 years ago was discovered in a cave in Cheddar, Somerset and Mitochondrial DNA testing was able to identify a local school teacher as a direct descendant. The same principles are being applied to the discovery of at least twenty eight early human skeletons found recently in the mountains of Northern Spain, the ‘Sima de los Huesos’ tribe, who are undergoing Mitochondrial DNA tests. This DNA is passed down through the maternal line and is easier to recover from ancient bones.

More information and the new price offers are available from www.thegenealogist.co.uk/dna

 

The Genealogist – UK census, BMDs and more online

Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used above.

Send to Kindle

Map tool at FamilySearch.org is great for family historians.

maps.familysearch.orgI’ve been using a great map tool at the LDS site, familysearch.org, this weekend and I have to say it has proved to be really useful so far. My attention was drawn to it by an article in this month’s Who Do You Think Tou Are? Magazine (Issue 59, April 2012) dealing with 50 Ways to get more from FamilySearch.org.

Tip number 7 is Explore Maps of English Jurisdictions. The idea is to see several types of jurisdictional boundaries, such as parish boundaries, poor law unions, counties, diocese and more on a map tool on your screen. By using different layers you are able to see the borders of each superimposed on to a Google map, or click to see Satellite or an 1851 Ordnance Survey Map instead.

I found using the “Radius Place Search” one of the most useful features in my quest this week. It is interesting to find out how far away from the parish, where my ancestors lived at one time, were the other Parishes in the area. I could specify 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1, 5, 10 miles, or 20 miles radius to plot those within walking, or perhaps horse riding distance from the first.

I was using this tool to look at a line of forebears who suddenly turn up in one town and feature for a few generations, in the registers of the parish. My investigation is now to find out whether they moved in from the surrounding countryside and so I can specify a start parish and then, using the information box that appears on the map, then select the tab called “Options”.

Next I selected “Radius Place Search”. I was then able to select, from a drop-down menu, the various distances from between 1/4 mile to 20 miles and be provided with a list of parishes that fitted the criteria. I also made sure that I had selected the Parish and County options from the “Layers” tab on the left hand side. This, so that I could see the jurisdiction’s borders marked on the map.

By now selecting the tab “List” I could hover my cursor over the named parish and a pin would appear on the map at the place marking the parish. By changing the map from a modern Google map to the 1851 Ordnance Survey I was able to find a hamlet or area name that was of interest to my family and then go on to find the nearest parish to it that was within walking distance.

This is a really useful tool and the best thing is that it is FREE!

Go to http://maps.familysearch.org and try it yourself.

Send to Kindle

How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History

Many of us have a desire to know more about the generations that preceded us and about our roots. We may have become fascinated about where our family originated from; what it was that they did for a living and in what conditions they lived. If your forebears came from England & Wales, then you will want to know what records you can access and where to look for them.

I am Nick Thorne, The Nosey Genealogist, and I have just published an amazon Kindle book called: How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History. In it I lead the reader through some of the research work that you will probably need to undertake to pursue these goals. Assuming that you have a yearning to find out more about your British roots, this is a concise introduction to English & Welsh family history which can help you in your quest.

I include a look at online and offline records,starting with the census collections and the civil registration data. Different types of Parish Records are dealt with in one chapter including the Dade and Barrington registers. If your ancestor is missing from the church records, then I explain where to find the Bishop’s transcripts and what these copies are.

Baptismal, marriage and burial records are not the only records that were locked away in the Parish Chest and so I look at some of the other documents that may have survived.

Researching records of a marriage and what a Clandestine marriage was are included in this short book as is an explanation of why your ancestor may have had a double baptism. Nonconformist, those of a Christian denomination other than the Church of England, and parish graves are investigated, as is researching records of a marriage, illegitimacy and stumbling blocks in the parish records.

If you don’t have a Kindle then you can download Kindle for PC from amazon and read Kindle books directly on your PC!

If you want a concise book on English an Welsh Family history then click the button to Buy from Amazon in the box below.

Send to Kindle

How Can I Find Parish Records In My Family Tree Research?

Online-Old-Parish-RecordsMost people researching their family tree in the British Isles will eventually get past the census collections and the civil registrations and must now turn to the Parish records to proceed further. While, recently, there has been a great many more parish register collections being made available through the subscription sites, it is still not the case that a family historian will definitely find their ancestors parish has been uploaded online. Getting back before 1837 in England & Wales needs researchers to know where to look for the relevant details

Even if, however, we accept that we may need to make a visit to a physical archive, in order to push our research on, then we can certainly turn to the internet in order to locate where the parish records are. As well as this the web can undoubtedly save our selves time, when we do make the visit to the particular County Record Office or other archive, by being able to gain information provided by their website beforehand. In some cases they may even have their catalogue online which would allow us to do essential homework such as finding call numbers for the documents that we wish to look at and perhaps even ordering them up before we arrive.

In most cases, probably as much as ninety-nine percent of the time, we will find that the Parish Records for our ancestors have by now been deposited at the County Record Office, while a rare few will still be at the church in the care of the incumbent minister.

So where should we look first online?

A good starting point is to head over to the ARCHON page that is to be found in the website of The National Archives at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk and is a list of all sorts of archives in the country. The lists include diocesan archives, regimental and many other depositories that have a bearing on social history and genealogy.

From the National Achives home page navigate to the Records page and then to Catalogues and Online Records scroll down until you see the link for Archon. you will now be given a list of areas in Britain to search each with its own link so we see North East, North West etc. Selecting the area that you wish to look up will take you to an A-Z of repositories and if you were looking for a county record office this will be listed there.

Click on the relevant list and you will now be shown the information that ARCHON has on the archive in question giving you opening times etc and a very useful link to the actual archive’s website. I say useful because this is where you are likely to find the most up-to-date information about when they are open, if they have any late nights or Saturday opening times and how to get to them by road, rail, or air.

The actual repository’s website will give you such information as to what types of ID they accept, whether they are a member of the CARN ticket scheme where with one card you can gain access to many Record Offices across the country. Also the low down on whether you need to book a microfiche reader in advance of your arrival etc.

Some archive’s even include their catalogue online, this being a very useful tool as you can find out, in advance of your visit, if they hold the documents that you are looking for and also it allows you to take a note of the “call numbers” for the documents. This will cut down on wasting valuable research time, when you first arrive at the record office and indeed you may be able to order up, in advance, the documents to be waiting for you.

ARCHON is a most useful internet tool for those of us who are thinking about heading to an archive to do some research offline and is one of the ways to go about finding parish records.

I will be looking at others in a future post.

Send to Kindle

Manorial Documents in English Family History Research

Ancestral Trails-The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family HistoryI’ve been dipping back into Mark Herber’s book “Ancestral Trails” published by The History Press 2005, looking at the subject of researching back before Parish records started in the mid-16th century. He warns his readers to expect difficulties tracing their ancestors in that time. It seems that before then, you are only likely to come across sporadic references to your ancestors – or perhaps more properly people who could be your ancestors – in wills, tax records or court documents. Herber writes that “… you are unlikely to be able to trace a line of descent in this period (and in particular find documents that evidence that one man was related to another) unless you find your ancestors in property records.”

Now property records can be found for people from various classes, those who were substantial land owners and also yeoman, tenant farmers and labourers. This is why it is said that English manorial documents are perhaps one of the few types of records in which genealogical information about the common man, as opposed to those from the upper classes, is likely to survive from medieval times.

So what was the manorial system?

In the England of the Middle Ages, land was held from the English monarch by a lord and on his land the peasants worked and received his protection in return. Anglo-Saxon society was, as in most of the other European countries, rigidly hierarchical. Social status depended on birth and family relationships. Power was gained through the ownership of land, as this was the principal source of wealth at this time.

After the Norman conquest of England all the land of England was deemed to be owned by the monarch. The king would then grant use of it by means of a transaction known as “enfeoffment”, where land grants or “fiefs” were awarded to the earls, barons, bishops and others, in return for them providing him with some type of service.

There were two sorts of tenure, according to the type of service rendered by the tenant to the lord, free and unfree. Free tenure can then be broken down into different forms again. A tenure in chivalry, for example “tenure of knight service”, would be where the tenant was charged to provide his lord with a number of armed horsemen. Mark Heber in Ancestral Trails points out that this type of tenure was soon commuted to a money payment (or “scutage”). He also explains that among the types of “free tenure” was to be found “spiritual tenure” where divine services, or “frankelmoign” by which a clergyman, holding land from the lord of the manor, would pay his due in prayers said for the lord and his family.”Socage tenures” existed where the tenant provided his lord with agricultural services such as ploughing the lord’s retained land for 20 days a year.

“Villein tenure” or unfree tenure applied to those men known as villeins, serfs or bondmen. This class of tenant was not free to leave the manor without obtaining the permission of the lord. They would be subject to many obligations, some of which were onerous and these individuals held their land in exchange for providing the lord a number of days work in return. This could be, for example, four days work a week -  but the nature of the work could vary depending on what was required.

Manorial Documents are fascinating for family historians, as are will documents that were not the exclusive preserve of the rich. I shall explore this area again in other posts.

Send to Kindle

Surname Research in British Family Trees

I’ve heard tell that there are over 25,000 different surnames in use in the British Isles today!

When you consider that, until the medieval times, most people would not have had a hereditary last name, this does seem quite a variety. And yet, in family history research, there is the perennial problem of how to research a common surname, indicating that for some of us there would perhaps be a preference for even more examples of surnames to have been added to the total.

If we were to go back to the time before the 11th century, then most of the population of these isles were known by a personal name, or nickname and would not have possessed a surname. The church would have baptised them with Christian names, usually those of a saint, as this was of more concern to the ecclesiastic authorities.

It would have been as a result of the arrival of written documents, in the 11th and 12th centuries, that the need for people to be identified more precisely would have led to the gradual adoption of surnames. The problem associated with the use of nicknames was that they were not fixed. A person could be known by several during the course of their lives and so this was not conducive to the operation of a bureaucracy.

Most surnames fall into one of six types.

There are the Place names derived from towns, areas or perhaps a farm. So we assume that the ex-Formula 1 racing driver, Derek Warwick’s name comes from the town in the Midlands.

The second type is taken from a physical feature. So we have such names as Hall, Westlake, Thorn and my parent’s next door neighbours the Underwoods.

Thirdly there are the surnames that owe their origins to a nickname, or physical characteristic. The likes of Large, Long, Short etc. fall into this category.

Johnson and Richardson are example of the fourth type; those that are from family relationships. Mostly these are from “son of…” but I have to say until I started doing a little research I was unaware that there are some derived from the maternal line, thus the son of Matilda is Tillotson.

A fifth type to consider is that of an ancestor’s occupation. so we have Cooper, Smith, Archer and Baker, to name but a few.

Lastly there are the surnames that are derived from forenames. Alan, Stephens

But this is not all, because there are the surnames that have entered common use in this country that are from elsewhere. So in England you have Scottish, Irish, French Huguenot and Jewish surnames all established and quite common. What is more, surnames may have had several different origins and may have evolved over time, so making the precise definition very difficult.

Surnames may be important to our family history research, but it should be remembered that they are an imprecise science. While many of them may be quite local and remain so even to this day, the chances are that your ancestors moved from their place of origin and so making it more difficult for you to tie them down. It is, therefore, very unlikely that a surname will be able to pinpoint a family’s origin, except in the case of a rare name which owes its existence to a particular location, where the name itself is very common.

Names changed over the years for a variety of reasons, some because the holder was illiterate and it was interpreted to be spelt in one way or another by the vicar, some changed because the holder decided to change it. I am fascinated why my surname, Thorne spelt with an “e” only goes back to my 2 times great-grandfather who in the 1861 census is without the “e” and yet in the 1871 census is with!

So while we all have surnames today, it is by no means certain that yours has not changed through time.

Send to Kindle

Tracing An English Family Tree Before 1837

When you are tracing your ancestors in the British Isles there is a rich seam of information on the internet until we get back to 1837. This is the year when civil registration began and the state took over the registration of its citizens vital records.

Online-Old-Parish-Records

Many newcomers to English and Welsh family history are amazed at how easy it is to go to one of several websites, pay a subscription (or buy some credits) and begin finding records of ancestors with relative ease. Lulled into a false sense of security, we begin to think that all the information that we will ever need to find, for our family tree research, is going to be accessible online. But soon you find that quite a small percentage of all the genealogical records, that there are, actually make it on to the net.

So what are the other records that family historian with English or Welsh ancestry need to go hunting for? How about wills; manorial records; the many types of occupational records; various military service records; or, if like me you had a merchant seaman in the family, then the merchant navy’s records? This is just a short list, there are more!

What About Research Before 1837.

Once you have been able to get back as far as you are able to do, using the census entries and Birth Marriages and Death records, you will now need to turn your attention to Parish records – these date back to 1538 and a time when Thomas Cromwell, Chief Minster to Henry VIII, ordered that every wedding, baptism and burial should be recorded. Historically, England and Wales was divided into about 11,000 parishes. Your research will need to be in the Parish Registers relating to the place where your ancestor lived, in order to find out as much information on your forebears line in that parish.

Where should you look for parish registers? The answer is that the original will normally have been microfilmed and stored in the local County Record office. True that there are a few parishes where the registers are still with the incumbent minster; but the majority are now in the safe keeping of the relevant record office. An alternative, to looking at images of the original record is, if you have access to the web to go and look at the websites that offer transcripts of Parish Register for you to search. Remember, however, that a good genealogist will always understand that a transcription is secondary data only. It is an indication of information for you to follow up and so you do need to then go and confirm the details by looking for the original source. The reason is that errors may possibly have been made by the person making the transcription and you don’t want to allow those errors to get into your own family tree, now do you?

While English and Welsh parish records stretch back as far as 1538, not all will have survived the ravages of fire and flood, so don’t expect to be able to sail back as far as this date! The earlier records were recorded on paper, but from 1558 onwards the more durable parchment (made from sheepskin) was used in preference. Even so, very few parish record survive before the 1600s.

From 1598, annual copies were made and sent to the local bishop. Called Bishops’ Transcripts (or Register Bills in East Anglia), these make a good substitute for lost original records, and occasionally contain information omitted from the registers themselves. These Bishop’s Transcripts will often be in a better condition and also more legible than the original parish register and they can be found in the county record offices. While the older records were, in theory, supposed to have had copies made, it is believed that some never managed to be copied and others have been lost over time.

Family tree researchers need to be aware that there can be gaps in Parish Registers between 1553 and 1558 when Henry VII’s daughter Mary Tudor, a Catholic, was on the throne. Also there is the so called “Commonwealth gap” between 1642 and 1660 in the English Civil War and under Oliver Cromwell’s protectorate.

There is so much to learn in this area that I’ll be posting a second article on tracing your English and Welsh family tree before 1837 shortly.

Send to Kindle