Your Family Tree Magazine is a favourite of mine

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.
Your Family Tree is considered, by many family historians, to be one of the most respected genealogy magazines around. I love the way that they not only feature articles on the various traditional means of researching our family trees but also give advice on using personal computers or Apple Macs to do ancestor research. Their aim is “to make tracing family history accessible and rewarding for everyone” according to their website. Your Family Tree offers practical advice, written by experts, on all areas of family history research and is known as Your Family History outside of the UK. The content, however, is the same in both magazines so don’t feel you will lose out if you are based abroad. The Editor, Russell James, is quoted as saying this: “Each issue covers an array of old documents, answers readers questions, and puts family historians in touch with one another. You’ll also receive a covermounted CD-ROM for Mac and PC containing an array of genealogy resources, as well as a pull-out region research card (contacts, map, plus key local resources and historical facts) and four collectable surname index cards every issue.” I personally can’t wait each month for my copy to arrive. I used to buy it from the newsstand until I realised the convienince and the special price that is offered when taking out a subscription. Take a look at whats on offer by clicking one of the banners on this page and you will be able to try before you buy by looking inside a magazine. Recently I’ve enjoyed reading articles such as these below. Want to join me? 100 vital websites – Bumper online special How To guides including: Research Scottish clans, find old maps online, date wedding photos and organise your records Pass down your family’s story – Make sure your findings are never forgotten Migration records – Discover the best websites to help you trace your ancestors’ movement Royal Mail workers – The stories of your postal ancestors Now I know this looks like I am simply acting as a salesman for them; but I really do read this magazine and I have personally got a lot out of my subscription and so I do not apologise for recommending them! A good genealogist never stops learning. We are all somewhere between Beginner and Advanced Beginner! Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Am I really sure about that ancestor?

Family Tree on a computer

In my ancestor research I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of narrow thinking sometimes. Have you?

What I’m talking about here is the occasions when I’ve focused too strictly on what I am sure are the correct facts about a forebear.  I may have been sure that I knew that his or her name had been spelt in a particular way, or that they came from a particular place. Now here is the warning I am guilty of ignoring: Am I really so sure I know the facts?

When we, as family historians, ignore this question then we can so easily cause ourselves unnecessary grief and so much wasted time. Perhaps we were searching in the right place, but were we guilty of searching in the wrong way? What we need to do is to open up our minds to researching in a smarter fashion and often we will be rewarded by finding that record that we were looking for.

Just think how your on-line research could possibly improve if you were always to:

  • keep handy a list of the known surname variants for your ancestor’s name. For example in my family I have names that could be spelt as Thorn, Thorne, Stephens, Stevens and all manner of spelling of Sissill.
  • think about what common first-name nicknames may apply and also any regularly used shortened forms of names. For example Thomas may be written as Thos. Elizabeth as Eliz. or Eliza. and I have found a John as Jono.
  • have written down some of the capital letters that can easily be confused like J and I, for example
  • remember that place names can be confused – in my Devon branch there are two Galmptons very near each other and I jumped to the conclusion that my great grandmother came from the one near to where they lived. Wrong!
  • think about the length of normal life-spans and don’t chase someone with a similar name thinking they are one and the same. What about the date ranges for their marriages, deaths and births of their children?
  • keep notes, or research logs for your family searches so that you keep track of what you have already done.
  • remain aware of the gaps that there are in any particular record collections. If you are searching a particular period and can’t find an ancestor and this time frame also matches a known gap in the data, then this will stop you wasting more time than necessary looking.

So just remember these seven ways to avoid family research pitfalls and don’t make the mistakes that I did in the past!

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Changes on Genes Reunited

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

Genes Reunited website

I see that some important changes that have taken place on Genes Reunited over the last few weeks.  They have added another two key record sets namely: the 1911 and the 1881 census. The 1911 census is the most recent census set to be released and provides in depth details including the following:

  • Your ancestor’s names and addresses
  • How long they have been married
  • How many children they have had
  • How many rooms there were in their house

Some other records that they’ve added include the overseas and military birth, marriage and death records. This is good for those of us that use this website as we are now able to discover information regarding the births, marriages and deaths of British relations that have taken place abroad since the late 18th century on this site.

See  for your self at: Genes Reunited. Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Use more than one ancestor look up site!

I really need to remember my own advice to use more than one ancestor look up site!Ancestors in Thorne Family tree
On the occasions when I find myself talking to someone new to this family history pastime, about doing ancestor research, I often find myself going back to the advice that I have been given by a professional genealogists. Now I do not consider myself to be anything like a Genealogical Guru, I am simply someone who has gained a little experience over the years and now am happy to pass on two of my tips here. Both are about stepping back from the research results and introducing some careful thought into the proceedings.
  • Think logically about a person’s time-line.
  • Listen to family stories, but then step back and try to corroborate them with hard evidence to confirm what you have been told.

A person’s date of birth is obviously going to dictate an approximate time for when they could have got married and when you should reasonably expect them to have died. A little thought will tell you that rarely will a person be getting married in their hundredth year! Likewise, they are not going to be getting wed aged 6 or 7 either. Beware of entries in databases that just happen to have the same name as your ancestor, but are just plain and simply the wrong people. But even then we can go wrong if  we are not careful.

One weekend, when doing some family tree research,  I got myself stuck in a hole and wasted oh so much time digging it deeper and deeper! What was it I was doing wrong and how did I finally get out of it? Well I was trying to find the details of an ancestor’s death so that I could purchase a death certificate from the GRO site.

I am fairly wedded to www.ancestry.co.uk for most of my research. I like what they have on offer and I have become use to the way the site works. I also have a subscription to other sites such as www.thegenealogist.co.uk which I find good for many searches and then there is another favourite of mine:  www.findmypast.com.  (Disclosure re these links: Compensated Affiliate.)

The research I was doing had been initiated by reading some “thoughts” put down on paper by a relative before he died. I had been shown this family history because, as a cousin, I had an ancestor in common with them and I wanted to enter this forbear into my family tree as well. The handwritten notes indicated that our ancestor had died aged 66 and from this I was able to work out that as they were born in 1865. From this I then worked out that they probably died in 1930.

I went on to ancestry.co.uk and searched by name for the ancestor in all four quarters of 1930 but to no avail. I then broadened my research for ten years either side and spent hours looking for them without any luck. I then thought I’d try misspellings of the ancestor’s name as this, I thought, is surely why they are missing. Result: A big fat nothing!

Eventually, after much wasted time, I thought about using one of the other websites that offers Birth marriage and death details, something I should have done early on. And what did I find? There he was, on the other BMD site spelt correctly and dying in the district where I expected him too, but aged 70 not 66 and in the year 1935 not 1930!
The lessons for me to relearn and hopefully for you to benefit from are as follows:
  1. Remember that all websites are fallible and omissions happen.
  2. Family stories can sometimes be wrong as humans are not blessed with 100 percent recall and we can get things wrong, as it would seem this relative did in his writings for his children!

I have made myself a note to remember my own advice in future: Use more than one ancestor look up site and remember that stories can be wrong!

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Clandestine Marriages

Today I wanted to look at Clandestine marriages!

Well what are they you cry?

The answer is that “Clandestine” marriages were weddings that perhaps had an element of secrecy attached to them.

They may have taken place in another part of the country away from a home parish, and probably without either banns being read or a marriage licence obtained. The secrecy could have been for all sorts of reasons for example lack of parental consent; or more salaciously where bigamy was involved.

The facts that fees were paid to the clergymen meant that some were willing to conduct such marriage ceremonies. What is more the number of such unions were quite enormous, particularly in London.

You will find that certain churches were important centres for such “trade”and in the 1740s, over half of all London weddings were taking place in the environs of the Fleet Prison and not all the brides and grooms would have been from the capital city.

“Fleet Marriages” were performed by bogus priests and disgraced ordained clergy. Although there were most probably earlier ones, the earliest Fleet Marriage on record is 1613, while the earliest recorded in a Fleet Register took place in 1674.

The Fleet was a jail and so, as such, claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the church. The prison warders took a share of the profit, even though a statute of 1711 imposed fines upon them for doing so. What this did was move the clandestine marriage trade outside of the prison. It was in the lawless environs of the Fleet that many debtors lived and some of them may well have been disgraced clergymen. Marriage houses or taverns now carried on the trade, encouraged by local hostelry keepers who sought out business by employing touts to actively solicit custom for them.

If you wish to search for these Clandestine marriages on line then you are in luck as you can find them at: www.ancestry.co.uk (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.)Ancestry.co.uk on a computer screenTheir London Marriage Licences data set allows you access to the details of more than 25,000 marriages in London spanning four centuries.

This collection is not just about “Fleet marriages” but is for unions made outside church approval – those away from the spouses’ normal parish and often you will be able to find the names of brides and grooms, parents and witnesses as well as residence, age of spouses and the occupation of the groom. This collection has marriage licences granted in the dioceses of London by the Bishop’s office from 1521 to 1828, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster’s office from 1599 to 1699 and two offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1543 to 1869 and 1660 to 1679 and so is an important resource for the family historian.

Take a look at Ancestry.co.uk.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Chelsea Pensioners at findmypast.co.uk

Recently I’ve been researching my family tree using the resources of findmypast.co.uk more than ever. For any one serious about family history this site has a lot to offer. Their recent release in May 2010 of Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1873–1882, is a case in question.

It is possible for you to search 97,515 records for men that had been pensioned out of the British Army in between 1873 and 1882. They and FamilySerach are working in association with The National Archives in a partnership to provide us with these new records. The breakdown of the records data you can find on findmypast.co.uk, together with those which are still to come are the following:

Table taken form http://www.findmypast.co.uk/media/news/news-item.jsp?doc=CHEPmay.html

The point about these is that whilst many other military documents provide details about officer-class soldiers, these records refer to normal, non-officer class soldiers. This makes it more probable that you will be capable of finding details about your ancestors. The connection with ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ is the fact that the pensions had been administered through The Royal Hospital at Chelsea. Typically the large majority of pensioned soldiers were out-pensioners and did not reside at the Hospital itself.

Just what makes these records so special?

The records provide vibrant detail as well as colour to our ancestors’ lives to a level that is difficult to discover elsewhere. There are usually six or seven records per soldier, whilst a man might only get a single line within, for instance, a 19th century census record. Most of the service records note each of the regiments in which a soldier served, with both start and end dates, ranks attained, and the total service rendered, once again in years as well as days, in each rank and regiment. Service within either the East or West Indies will be noted separately.

The reason for the soldier’s discharge (sickness or injuries) is offered, as are remarks upon general conduct whilst in the service, and notations regarding height, complexion, eye as well as hair colour, and civilian occupation. The document is dated and signed by both the soldier and commanding officer. In the absence of pictures, these documents are an indispensable resource in furnishing a good insight into what your own forefathers actually might look like. These records are among the most popular at The National Archives as family historians and genealogists have awakened to the fact exactly how valuable they are. You’ll find much more information about these records in their knowledge base on the site.

The Chelsea Pensioner Service Records are made up of soldiers from all over the British Empire. Beneath is a percentage break down of where the servicemen were born:

England = 68.9%

Ireland = 17.6%

Scotland = 8.3%

Wales = 2.2%

West Indies = .6%

India = .4%

Sark = .00073%

Start searching for your Chelsea Pensioner ancestors now at findmypast.co.uk.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

Source:

http://www.findmypast.co.uk/media/news/news-item.jsp?doc=CHEPmay.html

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Parish Records | Some Helpful Videos

I’ve seen some YouTube videos made by Find My Past (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate).  One of which has John Hanson from the Society of Genealogists talking about Parish Records. I heard him give a talk at the WDYTYA Live, at Olympia in February and really liked the content that he gave.  Some of which is repeated here in the first video.

I’ve also posted a second video that deals with more specialist databases on Find My Past.

If these interests you then take a look at my page on this blog called Useful Family History Videos.



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Vive La Différence! Revealed: Brits Love to Hate the French

Research reveals Brits think the French are arrogant, unhelpful and rude – but wouldn’t change a thing about them!

Research published to celebrate an archive of 16.3 million Parisian births, marriages and deaths launched online by Ancestry.co.uk in April 2010 (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.)

Records detail 200 years of French history

Three million Brits have French ancestry

In a world first, one of the UK’s top family history websites, Ancestry.co.uk has launched online 16.3 million historic French birth, marriage and death records – a collection of huge significance to the estimated three million Britons with French ancestry.

After Irish blood, French ancestry is the most common in the UK with 1 in 20 Brits having French ancestors, including TV presenters Davina McCall and Louis Theroux, comedian Noel Fielding and Harry Potter star Emma Watson and myself!Ancestry.co.uk

I found that my Scottish line surnamed Hay were actually descended from a Norman called De la Haye. I also have a grandfather, on my mother’s side, whose surname is Renaux and so is assumed to be from French stock.

Yet despite these close links with France, we’re unlikely to be donning berets on this side of the channel just yet. According to an online survey of 9,357 adults, conducted in October 2009 by Zoomerang research, and covering tourists from the UK, Germany, Canada, the USA and France, nearly half of Brits think Parisians are arrogant, aloof and unhelpful (45 per cent), whilst 41 per cent suspect Parisians avoided helping tourists by pretending not to speak English on their last visit to the city.

Other unappealing experiences include extortionate food and drink prices, appalling driving and excessive dog excrement on the streets.

Yet, this negative view doesn’t stop us from loving ‘belle Paris’ and in particular the French culture, with 7 in 10 visitors saying would recommend the city to a friend and a third (33 per cent) saying the rude behaviour of residents is all part of the experience.

This research has been released to celebrate the online launch of over 200 years of Parisian history in the Paris, France & Vicinity Vitals, 1700-1907 on Ancestry.co.uk, which features 16.3 million records of births, marriages and deaths from the dawn of the 18th century.

The collection contains in-depth information about the individuals featured; including their name, details of their spouse and parents, birth place, occupation, residence, age, details of marriage and date and place of death.

These ‘vital records’, so called because of their immense genealogical value, will provide the building blocks for Brits to discover their French roots, enabling them to trace the birth, marriage or death of an ancestor living in Paris and the capital’s vicinity, from the 18th to 20th centuries.

Among these historic Parisians are some of the city’s greatest artists and famous historical figures listed, including:

Edgar Degas – the French artist, regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, appears in the birth records on the 19th July 1834

Baron Gaspard Gourgaud – the burial of the Napoleonic general Gourgaud, who once saved the life of the emperor from a gunpowder plot, is listed on the 25th July 1852

Gustave Moreau – the birth of the Symbolist painter, known for his works depicting biblical and mythological figures, is recorded on the 6th April 1826

Many of these records were compiled by the prominent genealogist Maurice Coutot in 1924. He used parish church records to fill the void that was left by the destruction of all of the pre-1860 civil registration records for Paris, which were burnt in a fire during the French Revolution.

Ancestry.co.uk International Content Director Dan Jones comments: “Paris is an enchanting city with a rich history that Brits have been drawn to for centuries, so for many it will be a thrill to discover that they may have close ancestral ties to France.

“Making these Parisian records available will help many British people out there with French heritage trace their continental roots.”

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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My Family Tree is Powered by Others Descended From Common Ancestors

One of the great things about this Family Tree thing is being contacted by others who are descended from common ancestors.

Once I published my first website www.nicholasthorne.info I started to get hits from all over and some of them were ‘cousins’ many times removed who were independently researching our forebears.

From my Devon ancestors I exchanged photographs of Captain Henry Thomas Thorne and got to read a typescript of a newspaper article.

From my Scottish ones I have had emails that disputed some of the lines and others that were supportive of the research. But the most fun were the ones that, with a proviso that the further back we went that some error may have crept in, seem to show that we were descended from various European royals and back to Adam and Eve!

Recently I have had pedigrees and photographs of Castles in the Hay Clan all of which is thrilling for somone who lives modestly in a cottage by the sea!

To anyone who is just thinking about setting out on this journey I would echo what Mark Herber in his book ‘Ancestral Trails’ says, don’t be put off by the fact that you think your family may be modest, you just never know what you are going to find.

Mark Herber’s book is available from all good bookshops: http://www.jerseybookshop.co.uk/promotions.htm

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

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Boosting Your Family History Research with the Web

As my search for ancestors to put into my family tree progressed, my research has been really boosted by my distant “cousins” who were also investigating the same or collateral lines of my family. These “cousins” input has propelled my research to heights and sent me much further forward in the quest to build my tree. I can’t tell you the pleasure I get to open my emails and there to find a subject line that includes a last name, from one of the various family branches that I’m researching.

I’ve linked up with these people by getting my family tree out there on the Internet.

You may be wondering how you could start to get your own fellow researchers to contact you? Well listen to this podcast!

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