Happy St David’s Day to my Welsh friends

 

Welsh Flag

 

A Happy St David’s day to all my Welsh friends and readers of this blog.

While many of the records for doing Welsh family history are the same as those for neighbouring England, there are some differences when it comes to researching in Wales, or Cymru as it is known in its own language.

For those of us used to finding our family records in the County Record Offices in England will discover that much is the same in Wales. Researchers will find that records of registration of births, deaths and marriages are exactly the same in Wales as in England, and that the Registrar General’s indexes cover both England and Wales.

The census is the same, except for an extra question from 1891 when all those aged 3 and over were asked whether they spoke English only, Welsh only, or both languages.

Anglican parish records are the same as those for England, and are kept in local authority archives in the same way.

Some of the differences, however, that can cause us to stumble are Common names, the favouring of Patronymics, the Welsh language, and that many families were not members of the Established Church.

Nonconformity, being more important in Wales than in some parts of England, may mean that you find that your ancestors didn’t go to the local parish church. In many chapels the language used was Welsh, and some of the records may also be in Welsh.

Because the country has its own language English speakers may find the place names to be unfamiliar to them.

Another difference, from the English system, is that in England the County Record Offices are (in most cases) the diocesan record offices and therefore hold all the records of the diocese, such as Wills, bishop’s transcripts and marriage bonds and licences, as well as parish records. In Wales, the National Library of Wales is the diocesan record office for the whole of Wales, and therefore holds all the bishop’s transcripts, marriage bonds and licences, and Wills proved in Welsh church courts.

The National Library of Wales or Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru is very important for our research as it acts as the main repository for family history research in Wales holding a vast number of records useful to the family historian – census returns, probate records, nonconformist records and tithe maps, to name but a few, will help at some point during research.

Learn more about English and Welsh family history resources to use to find elusive ancestors with the Family History Researcher Course,

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Learn more about English and Welsh family history resources which can be used to find your elusive ancestors with the Family History Researcher Course,

CLICK the image below:

Family History Researcher English/Welsh course

 

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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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Family History sent me round the houses today!

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I was back in the area of Jersey where I grew up today.

It was not my family history that I was researching, but ancestors belonging to someone else.

I had received a request to take a photograph of the house in which my contact’s forebears had lived and so I went to my computer and opened TheGenealogist.co.uk and looked up the head of the household in their Channel Island records.

This site has some “Jersey Almanacs” which are very useful trade directories for the islands and soon I was on the trail.

The Genealogist also has the full run of census data and images, which I next used to quickly find the person in question.

Unless you are new, to family history research, then you will be aware that the census collections are also available on Ancestry and Findmypast as well. I tend to use all three sites, as sometimes the transcription on one may help me better locate a person with a difficult name spelling.

 

In the 1901 and 1911 census it was quite plain that the family in question lived around the harbour at St Aubin, in the parish of St Brelade. The census in each case clearly gave the name of the house, though it was different in 1911 from 1901 so there was the possibility that the family had moved a very short distance. Either that or they had changed the name of their house.

So a simple task, you may think. All I had to do was pop along to the road in question and snap a building. Even if the house name was no longer visible, or had changed, there was bound to be a property in the road that had retained its name and I could use as a reference point. All I would need to do is count down the houses from that one.

Oh that it was so easy! You see the harbour front has some alleyways off it and these had different road names today from the ones used in the census. It seems to me that the parish has gone back to using the older French names for these roads from the Anglicised ones used in 1901 and 1911.

Another problem was that off these alleys were some semi-detached cottages, some of which are reached via foot paths. Also there were a set of steps, leading up to the steep Market Hill that rises behind the harbour, on which three more un-named cottages perched.

Both of the census records ignored the Methodist Church, that sat in the middle of the harbour frontage between one of my reference properties, as is to be expected if it had no residents to be counted. But it was also obvious that, in times past, some of the other buildings would have been warehousing, or other uninhabited commercial buildings and so these too were not enumerated. This made my task of counting down the houses to the ones for which I was searching, difficult.

I consulted the “Description of the Enumeration District” as in some cases this can give you a good idea of the enumerator’s walk. In this case it mentioned the names of the roads, in general, but did not explain how he had dealt with buildings set behind each other or to the side.

By finding some more reference buildings, that is those that have retained their names through to today, I was able to tie down the house in the 1901 to being on one plot. I am not certain that it is the actual building as it may well have been built later, it not having many of the period features of its neighbours to give away its age.

So only a partial victory for family history research this week, but the Description of the Enumeration District can be a useful tool elsewhere and browsing through a road on the census can often be illuminating in other ways. Sometimes you may find more members of the family living close by and a child missing from one house in its grandparent’s or Aunt and Uncles. I remember finding this in my own family in Plymouth.

 

Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used above when discusssing the resources of:

The Genealogist

Findmypast

Ancestry

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650,000 World War One Military Records

All in one search for family historyI got a piece from the team at TheGenealogist today.

It tells of their most recent release of World War I records and the unique nature of the launch that links records of Soldiers who died in the First World War to their war graves.

These War Office records give full details about a soldier and are linked to where they are buried or commemorated on a memorial.

 

For the first time it is now possible to find the death record of an ancestor who fought and died in the First World War and with one further mouse-click, discover where they are buried or commemorated through a unique link to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website which provides colour images and details on the War Cemetery including exact location, brief history of the regiments involved and the battles fought.

 

In a matter of seconds it is possible to trace an ancestor and gain an idea of the history of the battle or military importance of the location of where they fell. It really helps speed up your military research.

 

From 16 year old Private John Parr, who was the first British soldier to be killed in action on the 21st August 1914 on a patrol north east of Mons, to the last British soldier to die, Private George Edwin Ellison, who fought in most of the major World War One battles only to be killed an hour and a half before the Armistice on 11 November 1918 on patrol on the outskirts of Mons. Both John Parr and George Ellison are buried facing each other at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery having fought and died in ironically the same area of the Western Front, only four years apart emphasising the stalemate of the First World War.

 

The records link through to TheGenealogist’s other unique military records such as Prisoner of War records, casualty lists and war memorials. For instance you can find the record of Harry Topliffe within this new record set, showing us he enlisted with the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment) and was living in Stamford Brook, Middlesex.

 

Harry was posted to Mesopotamia to fight the Turkish Army. A Prisoner of War record shows that he was imprisoned in Kut-El-Amara and a casualty list record shows that he died there, as a Prisoner. Harry is also listed in TheGenealogist’s War Memorial records, on a memorial within the Harrod’s store in London (he was an employee within the removals department). TheGenealogist then uniquely links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to show that he was buried in the Baghdad North Gate War Cemetery.

 

The 650,000 records of the soldiers who died in the First World War provide full details of the serviceman, including full name, where they were born, place of residence, place of enlistment, their rank and service number, cause and date of death and the regiment they served with.

 

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist.co.uk, comments: “This latest release adds to our unique military collection. These records are great for those looking into what happened to their ancestor in the First World War. With the direct link from the soldiers who died on to the various other collections we hold, along with a link to where they are commemorated, one click gives you the story behind your ancestor’s military history.”

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Free military records at Ancestry UK!

 

Just got this through from Ancestry

 

In honour of Remembrance Day, Ancestry is opening up millions of military records to give everyone the chance to journey back in time and discover the war heroes in their family.

Between 08 and 12 November 2013, 3.6 million records will be freely available from four important military collections:

  • WWI Service Records (1914 – 1920)
  • WWII Army Roll of Honour (1939 – 1945)
  • Navy Medal and Roll Awards (1793 – 1972)
  • Victoria Cross Medals (1857 – 2007)

Almost every family in the country will have relatives who once served their country, so these records are an excellent source of discovery.

Travel back through 100 years of military history to find physical descriptions, next of kin, medals awarded, places served, disciplinary procedures, photos, dates and places of death ? and much more.

New WWII collection

Ancestry has added new Civilian War Dead records from WWII, which hold the names of 60,000 civilians who perished during the Second World War. People died in their homes, offices, factories, schools and public vehicles during the terrifying bombings and air raids.
London was hardest hit so the London Boroughs have lengthy casualty lists, but the collection also covers many other cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and York.

Take a look here: Ancestry.co.uk

 

 

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Online Newspaper Archive Passes the 7 Million Page Mark

 

British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) passed a giant milestone today, as page number 7,000,000 was added to the site at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.

 

Since its launch in November 2011, the BNA has been committed to transcribing thousands of pages a day. With a target of 40 million pages by 2021, this 10-year project is the biggest digitisation of newspapers to take place in the UK.

 

Ian Tester, The British Newspaper Archive’s Brand Director, said: “We are ecstatic to reach the 7 millionth page. Newspapers are one of the richest resources available to historians, and historical newspapers packed a lot more into a page than modern papers. The Archive holds newspapers that date back to the early 18th Century, and with the 7 million mark passed, we now provide access to comfortably over 100 million stories and articles online  a unique perspective on more than 200 years of historical events.”

The 7 millionth page to be added to the online archive was page seven of the Burnley Express for Saturday 30th June 1945. The main headlines of the day include a visit from Winston Churchill, images of servicemen, and an article on the cost of living and pensions.

 

The website is free to search, with a range of credit and subscription packages available to suit the different needs of researchers who wish to view the paid-for content. Access to the resource is free to users of the British Library’s Reading Rooms.

 




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Middle Names in Family Tree Research

 

Thorne family from Dartmouth, Devon. I’ve been helping an old friend starting out in researching their family history in this week and he had noted that some of his family all had the same middle name.

The question, that he had, was would it be likely that it was a family surname from one of the female lines and being passed down to honour that family connection.

From what research I have done, by reading around, it would seem that  it was quite common for children to be baptised with a second name taken from a family surname that was, perhaps, the mother’s or grandmother’s maiden surname.

Mark Herber, in Ancestral Trials, The History Press; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2005) makes this point when introducing genealogical research in chapter 1 of this comprehensive book. But hold on a minute, before you jump to the conclusion that the name you have found must be attributable to another branch of your family.

In the picture, that I have included here, from a Thorne family bible  just one of that generation were given names that honoured their forebears surnames and that was Ellen Florence Malzer Thorne, the Malzer name being her mother’s maiden name.

The generation before (Henry Thomas Thorne’s siblings)  were given a variety of conventional second names until the family broke with the C of E and became members of the Flavel Memorial (Presbyterian/Independent/Congregational) church.

At this stage several of Henry’s brothers and sisters were baptised with the middle name of Lemon. I am yet to understand who they were being named after so if any of my readers can put me on the right path then post a comment below or on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/NoseGenealogist

Certainly the parents of these children, John Brandon Thorn and Elizabeth Gardiner Thorn, were usefully named after their mothers and so made the search for them in the parish records all the easier.

So the conclusion is that an unusual middle name may point you to the maiden name of your ancestor or, regretfully, it may not!

 

Another point, that I have noticed, is that people may adopt a middle name and later generations begin passing it on as they assume it to be an ancestral name. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, or perhaps it was indeed a family name.

For someone I was researching this week I discovered that they were not given a middle name in the church register when they were baptised and yet they begin to use this middle name and so do the generations that followed. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, but it was certainly not noted in the parish register at the time of their baptism!

My research this week has been greatly helped by the fact that more parish records have made it online. My friend’s family were from the Birmingham area of Northfields. Now very much a suburb of Birmingham but in the years I was researching between 1769 and 1820 part of the county of Worcestershire.

Ancestry.co.uk have many records available for this area including the images of parish records from a partnership with the Library of Birmingham.



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Tithe Records for Family Tree Researchers

 

Tithe MapI’ve been looking at some of my rural ancestors from Devon this weekend.

I found that they mostly had long lives, provided they survived through their childhood.

For example, one agricultural labourer (ubiquitous Ag.Lab in the census) reached his 91st birthday. Others died well into their late 80s.

By tracing the baptisms, of my direct ancestors in the parish records, I noticed that in the year 1830, before the census officials introduced the term Ag.Lab into general use, that my ancestor John Jarvis of South Huish, was recorded in the register for his son’s baptism as: Husbandman.

A husbandman is, according to the Oxford dictionary online: a person who cultivates the land; a farmer.

Origin: Middle English (originally in northern English use denoting the holder of a husbandland, i.e. manorial tenancy): from husband in the obsolete sense ‘farmer’ + man. Oxford English Dictionary Online.

So then I wondered how much, if any, land he may have had as a tenant and how could I find this out. The answer was the tithe maps, of course.

A quick online search and I discovered that Devon has a project to put the tithe apportionment documents and eventually the maps on the web.

http://www.devon.gov.uk/tithemaps.htm

 

Virtually every parish, from the beginning to the middle of the 1800s would have had tithe maps drawn up for their area. Accompanied by the apportionment records, which is the key to the tithe map. It tells the researcher who owned what pieces of land, what it was used for and the amount of payment due. The schedule is divided into columns:
1.    Landowners
2.    Occupiers – if the landowner, this is shown as ‘himself’, otherwise the tenant’s name is given
3.    The plot number referring to the tithe map
4.    Name or description of the land, premises or field
5.    State of cultivation e.g. arable, meadow, pasture, wood, garden, plantation
6.    The size – in acres, roods and perches
7.    The money due to the Vicar
8.    The money due to Impropriators
9.    Any further remarks.
So what is a tithe?
The word literally means one-tenth. For centuries past the people were required to pay annual tithes, to their local parish church, to support it and its clergy.  To begin with tithes were paid “in kind” which meant parishioners handing over one-tenth of their produce (corn, hay, vegetables, eggs, wool, animals, fish, flour etc.) As you would expect this made tithes unpopular.
In the 16th century the monasteries were dissolved and a great deal of former church property, including the rights to tithe, now passed into the hands of private individuals (‘Lay Impropriators’).

Those tithes that were now due to be paid to the Church of England still caused problems. There were no end of disputes over the values of land, processes and produce. On top of this was a reluctance by members of the other religious denominations to be forced to pay their tithes to the established state church.

 

To bring an end to these disputes, the Tithe Commutation Act was passed in 1836. Tithes were to be based on land values and converted to an annual money tax known as ‘corn rents’ or ‘tithe rent charges’. To get rid of the problem of variations from locality to locality the Tithe Commutation Act now fixed the payment based on the average price of wheat, barley and oats.

 

 

What did I find about John Jarvis?

Well there is certainly a man of this name listed in the ownership column along with that of the Earl of Devon who appears many times along side the names of others. John Jarvis was not, however, the occupier of the Orchards and arable land. This was a neighbour whose occupation on the census page is denoted as a Farmer.

So assuming that, in this tiny Devon hamlet, I have found the correct John Jarvis, then it would seem that he worked as a farm labourer, while renting out his own land to the farmer.

 

One of the lessons in my English and Welsh Family History course covers rural ancestors. Read more about this beginners to intermediate course here:

www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

 

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House History with Census Records

 

5 West Lea I’ve been looking at my house history this week and in particular the people who lived in what has become my home, way back in 1901 and 1911.

To do this I went to TheGenealogist.co.uk and selected that I was looking for an address and then the 1901 census and the palace, in my case Channel Islands as I live on the outskirts of St Helier, Jersey in an area called First Tower.

From my own research I know that the house was only built around 1900 and was near to what use to be a railway station. The railways are long gone from Jersey but around the turn of that century the Jersey Railway ran along the seafront from St Helier to St Aubin.

So it was no surprise to find that the occupants of my house worked for the railways.

In 1911 the head of the household was a 29 year old Ship’s Cook working for the Marine Department of the Railway Company and was born in Portsmouth. His wife was a  24 year old Jersey girl and they had a one year old son. The head’s brother, a single man from Portsmouth, lived with them and worked in a wine and spirit works. To complete the household they also had a boarder as well. Five persons crammed into this small seaside cottage must have been difficult for privacy.

The boarder was another railway worker, a Loco Engineer Foreman from Durham. He was slightly older than the others at 34 and was married, but no sign of his wife in this property. Perhaps he was working away from home to earn a crust?

One of their near neighbours was a Railway Clerk thus indicating to me how the railway was an important employer at this time.

If I look at the 1901 census my house is not yet inhabited, but the neighbours include a Telephone Company worker and a manager of some sort; but no railway workers!

Having found this interesting I may now go and look at some of the other places I have lived in England and Jersey.

Have you looked into your own house history? Why not take a look at what you can find on TheGenealogist by clicking on the image below?

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

Disclosure: The links are compensated affiliate links that may result in me being rewarded by The Genealogist if you buy their subscription.

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£10.95 off a 12 Month membership to The British Newspaper Archive

Its a hot Sunday here and after being out most of the day I have just come indoors to prevent the sun burn taking hoBritish Newspaper Archiveld.

So I’ve turned on my computer and thought about doing a bit of family history research. Idly I browsed over to The British Newspaper Archive and entered one of my ancestors as a search term together with the date and lo and behold since I last visited more papers have been digitised and more results are therefore returned.

I do love this resource!

I’ve also found that they have a deal on at the moment – I believe it is for the whole of August 2013 – so for those of you who haven’t signed up with them yet you may want to try them out.

Here are the details:

For a limited time get £10.95 off a 12 Month membership to The British Newspaper Archive. Enter promotional code BnA82013 at the point of checkout to claim this exclusive offer.

Customers who subscribe to a 12 month package will get unlimited credits / page views, access to digitised newspapers dating back to 1710 and also gain access to My Research a personal area to keep track of searched articles, add notes and bookmark viewed items.

Now here comes the disclosure: The links are compensated affiliate links which means that I may get compensated by The British Newspaper Archive.

Happy researching,
Nick

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