Wolf Hall and family history

Thomas Cromwell

You may have been watching the BBC’s dramatization of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” on television. The lead character in the book and television series, is Thomas Cromwell a man born into a working class family who rises to be the right hand man of Cardinal Wolsey, at one time King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor. Cromwell managed to survive the fall from grace of Wolsey and went on to become the King’s Chief Minister until his own downfall.

The connection between this man and we family historians, with ancestors in England and Wales, is that Thomas Cromwell is responsible for the fact that we are able to trace many of our ancestors back in the documents created by the parish churches across the land.

The Parish registers for baptisms, marriages and burials, were first introduced into the Church of England in 1538 by Cromwell as Henry VIII’s Vicar General and Vice regent, a position that gave him power to supervise the church.

Cromwell required that every parish church was to acquire a sure coffer (that is, a parish chest) within which their records could be securely stored. While the parish chest was not a new idea, they could have been found in churches up and down the land all the way back to medieval times, what was new, in Tudor times, was the notion that Cromwell dictated that accurate records were to be kept and the responsibility to do so was placed on the parish officials to keep these records safe.

The parish chest were often no more than a hollowed out tree trunk that was secured with three locks. The keys were to be kept by the Bishop, the Priest and by a religious layman.

By the mid-1500’s the parishioners in every parish of the land were instructed by law to provide a strong chest with a hole in the upper part thereof, and having three keys, for holding the alms for the poor. Another chest may have been used to keep safe the church’s plate and this or the first chest would also double up as a place where the parish registers and other parish documents could be kept safe. In some places only one chest would have sufficed for both purposes, while in other parishes two or more may have been used.

So the debt we owe to Thomas Cromwell is that he introduced parish registers, some of which have survived pests, fire and flood back through the generations and provide us today with names of ancestors stretching back generations.

If you want to know more about what documents to use to find your elusive ancestors then join the Family History Researcher Academy to learn where to look and what resources to use.

 

If you are new to English/Welsh family history research then I’ve got a FREE quick read tip sheet for you.

Fill in your email and name and I’ll send you this pdf called 6 Professional Genealogist’s Tips that is distilled from interviews done with several professional genealogists.

6 Professional Genealogist's tips

                 Enter your Name in the first box and

                 your email in the second box below:

 

Send to Kindle

A Newly digitised, navigable atlas collection details 500 years of British history

 

County map courtsey of Ancestry.co.ukAtlas shows us how Britain’s landscape has changed over the last 500 years

Looking at this collection of 57 maps and you will be able to find England’s lost counties of Westmorland and Huntingdonshire

Find Parish borders that hark back to when people associated more with their Parish church than town hall

There is a newly published historic atlas of Great Britain online at Ancestry.co.uk that gives the family historian something of a unique view of the countries of England, Scotland and Wales stretching back over 500 years.

Digitised by the family history site Ancestry.co.uk, the Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, consists of fifty seven different maps of the counties of the U.K. What is interesting to me about this is it shows how Britain’s ancient parish and county boundaries have changed shape over the centuries.

We have all been there in our research. You may have lost someone from the records of a
particular county and thus you become stuck unless you can see the boundaries as they stood at the time that your ancestor was alive.
I was doing some research for a client whose ancestors came from Northfield. Today that is a suburb of Birmingham and so is in the West Midlands. At the time of their ancestor Northfield was in Worcestershire.

The subject of the research got married about ten miles away in Dudley, which was in Staffordshire at the time and today has its own archive service as it is a Metropolitan Borough. Thus to find the records of a family that lived in quite a small radius needs careful thought as to where to look.

This newly digitised Atlas is navigable online, users are able to scroll over whole counties and then use a zoom tool to go in and out. Useful if you need to identify the various local parishes, towns and the churches.

The original documents used in the atlas are from the resources of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.

Browsing the maps open up quite an insight into how England’s historical county maps didn’t change much for centuries, before many of the ancient counties were split up to make more governable areas.

In this atlas the county of Middlesex is shown as it was in the 19th century. At that time it consisted of what are today large swathes of modern London and so included the likes of Islington and Chelsea. London itself is a much smaller settlement that is barely more than one mile wide.

The Home Counties appear in their original form before the legislation of the London Government Act 1965  created Greater London. You will also be able to see the original boundary of the counties of Essex and Surrey when viewing the maps.

Other counties that are defunct today but can be traced in the atlas include Westmorland (today a part of Cumbria), and Huntingdonshire, which disappeared into Cambridgeshire following a Government Act in 1971. Lancashire is also to be found here in its original form, comprising of modern day Manchester and Liverpool and also various parts of Cumbria and Cheshire. It was subsequently reorganised and downsized, losing nearly a third of its area in the process.

Before the population of the country grew over the centuries and along with this regional administration developed, people were inclined to identify themselves more with their local parish when considering where they came from. As time moved on and these parish borders changed to such an extent that now it is almost impossible to determine the exact location of some parishes and their records using modern maps.

I have an interest in a small village that sits today in North west Leicestershire, but in years past was divided between Leicestershire but with pockets residing in Derbyshire and completely surrounded by Leicestershire on all sides!

The Atlas is thus an authoritative guide to the drastic changes in Britain’s county and parish borders over the last 500 years and a valuable way of adding geographical context to family history research.

The maps were the brainchild of Cecil Humphery-Smith, a genealogist and heraldist who founded the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, based in Canterbury, which promotes family history both through courses and its extensive library. He is, of course, the author of Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers.

At Ancestry.co.uk, the maps can now be searched and browsed by county.   For family historians using Ancestry’s Lancashire Parish records as well as the 1851 Censuses and Free Birth, Marriage and Death Index will discover that every record in these collections links to a relevant map.

In addition, almost eight million new records have been added to the Lancashire Parish records currently available on Ancestry’s site.

Ancestry.co.uk Senior Content Manager Miriam Silverman comments: “The borders of the UK parishes and counties have changed so much over the last 500 years and that really makes these maps the key to navigating the past and progressing with your family history journey.”

To search the Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, as well as millions of additional birth, marriage and death records, visit www.Ancestry.co.uk.


Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used in this post.

Send to Kindle

Poets, Crime Writers, Soldiers, Sailors and Explorers – the lives and deaths of historic Devonians revealed online

 

Charles Babbage - Baptism
Charles Babbage – Baptism from Findmypast

MILLONS OF NEW DEVON BAPTISM, MARRIAGE AND BURIAL RECORDS PUBLISHED ONLINE

RECORDS REVEAL OVER 375 YEARS OF DEVONSHIRE HISTORY

 

 

 

 

As someone with a paternal line that is almost all from Devon I am really pleased to see that findmypast.co.uk has published online for the first time parish records in partnership with Devon Heritage Services, as the latest instalment of their 100in100 promise to launch 100 record sets in 100 days.

Spanning 1538 to 1915, the Devon Collection is a rich source comprising over 4 million fully searchable transcripts and scanned colour images of the handwritten parish registers held by the record offices in Barnstaple and Exeter. With Plymouth and West Devon Record Office’s records already available on findmypast, these new additions mean that findmypast’s Devon Collection is the best possible place to find Devonshire ancestors.

The baptism, marriage and burial records of many notable Devonians are stored within the collection. The baptism of literary icon Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ and founder of the Romantic Movement, can be viewed in records from the parish of Ottery St Mary.

Bad boy satirist John Gay, member of the Scriblerus club and author of ‘The Beggars Opera’, was born in Barnstaple in 1685 and records of his baptism in 1686 can be found from the Parish of Black Torrington.

Crime writer Agatha Christie’s baptism record appears in the parish register of Tormohun in 1890 under her maiden name Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller.

Legendary explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who was famous for completing the Hajj to Mecca disguised as a pilgrim, translating the Karma Sutra into English and becoming the first European to visit the great lakes of Africa amongst other exploits, was born in Torquay in 1821 and is recorded in the collection.

The records also include the polymath Charles Babbage, who is widely considered to be the father of the computer. Records of his 1814 marriage were kept by the parish of East Teignmouth.

Sir John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and ancestor of Winston Churchill was born in the parish of Musbury at the height of the Civil War. He was a legendary soldier who revolutionised the British army in the late 17th century and was, for a time, one of the richest men in England. Details of his baptism can also be viewed in the archives.

VC winner and hero of the Zulu wars, Sir Redvers Henry Buller, is yet another famous military man from the county. Sir Redvers was widely celebrated before his disastrous leadership during the Second Boer War saw him sacked by the Minister for War, St. John Brodrick. He was born in Crediton in 1839 and died there in 1908, with both events being recorded by the parish.

Devon is one of the largest counties and therefore highly significant for family historians. As Maureen Selley, Chairman of Devon Family History Society www.devonfhs.org.uk, whose records are also available on findmypast, put it; “We all have Devonshire ancestors, it’s just that some of us haven’t found them yet.” Findmypast’s existing Devon records are already the most popular parish record set on the website.

The records are also of international significance as many historic Devonians emigrated to Canada, the US and Australia to work in the booming mining, fishing and agricultural industries. Devon’s position on the west coast meant that it was often used as a jumping off point for those headed to the United Sates. The Mayflower, the ship that carried the first pilgrims across the Atlantic, departed from Plymouth and the Devon Collection houses records that predate this famous voyage. These new records will help people from all over the world to trace their ancestral roots back to the county.

The Devon Collection adds to findmypast’s already extensive cache of parish records, the largest available online. These records allow family historians to go as far back as the 1500s, and with more parish records still to come as part of the 100in100 promise, family historians can now explore their more distant roots more easily than ever before.

You can view these exciting new records here: http://100in100.findmypast.co.uk/.

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “The Devon Collection is one of the largest regional parish record collections available anywhere online and contains some truly wonderful gems. This is the first time that parish records for the whole county have been available to search in one place, enabling people all around the world to discover fascinating details of Devonshire ancestors they didn’t know they had in this historical goldmine.”

Tim Wormleighton, of Devon Heritage Services said: “ We are delighted that, after a lengthy process of preparation involving a lot of hard work by a large team, people will now be able to access high quality images of the majority of Devon’s parish register entries online for the first time ever through findmypast”.

To learn more about the records visit www.findmypast.co.uk. For further information about Devon Heritage Service call 01392 384 253, email devrec@devon.gov.uk, or visit the website http://www.devon.gov.uk/record_office.htm



Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links are used in this post.

Send to Kindle

Looking for ancestors in the Archives

 

Dudley Archives and local history centreI’ve been to the Midlands this week and while I was there I took the opportunity to do some research in the Dudley Archives & local history centre.

No matter what gets put online, and believe me I am a  keen user of online content, when I get the chance I still love to go to an actual archive and do some research in the reading room of one or other of these local authority depositories.

I spent my time in the one run by Dudley Metropolitan Council looking back at parish records in Halesowen and was fascinated, as always, by the extras that are to be found written in the margin of the parish records, or as notes in the front or back.

One note that I saw this week referred to a number of burials on the page and it mentioned that all of the above died of smallpox putting some context onto the conditions at the time. In other records down at the Devon record office I have seen a whole brood of children being baptised together after the family had returned to England after many years in the fishing fields of Newfoundland and a helpful side note by the vicar explaining this.

Another great benefit of a visit to a record office is that they often have books on their shelves that can be helpful finding aids. I was able to make use this week of a set of indexes to the parish records, published many years ago, but with them I could narrow down the dates that I wanted to look at on the microfilm reader.

In my Family History Researcher Academy course on English/Welsh ancestors I have a module specifically about the treasures that can be found in a County/City Record Office. The course can be done at your own pace and comes in 52 weekly downloads that build into a great resource for busting those brick walls in family history.

 

In England and Wales the Record Office is where the records of the local government administrative area are kept. In many cases they also house the ecclesiastical diocese records and, from a family historian’s point of view, they are the keepers of the old Parish Registers collected from the churches of the area, which was my reason for visiting Dudley Archives this week.

A Record Office:

– collects and preserves historical records of all kinds relating to its county,

– makes these records available for research of all kinds by all interested individuals and groups, and

– encourages and promotes awareness of the value and importance of its documentary heritage.

Usually a Record Office will also preserve a great deal of other archival material such as the records from independent local organizations, churches and schools.

There may be papers donated by prominent people from the community, leading families, estates, companies, lawyers and more. If you are in the area where your ancestors lived then go on an pay them a visit. The staff are usually very knowledgeable about their records and the district and so they can be a huge help to the family historian.

Join Family History Researcher

 

 

 

 

Send to Kindle

National Wills expert gives us some great family history tips


At Olympia I caught up with Dr Ian Galbraith from the National Wills project and asked him to give us a few tips about what people should do if they are searching for will records.

“Well the big problem with wills is you can not always tell where the will might have been proved.” he said.

“If you know your ancestors came from a certain place you’ve gotta fix on where their birth records might be, marriage records maybe where they died. With a will although in most cases you probably have an idea where it is. Wills did get proved all over the place, maybe very far from  where you think.

“So when you’re trying to find a will you might go for the obvious places and find there’s nothing there. That doesn’t mean to say that there isn’t a will that’s been proved somewhere else. So it means that if you want to unlock the value of information which is in wills.

“I mean wills are one of the best single sources for the family historian.

“To find it you really need to have access to an index which covers the whole country not just individual counties and that’s what we’ve been trying to do and we’ve got coverage of virtually every county in England.

“Its not complete yet for every county but its the single biggest set of indexes for English probate records.

“That’s complimented also by an increasing collection of digitized images of wills. For example for Oxfordshire, Cheshire, York and a lot of abstracts of wills. Now abstracts make it a lot easier sometimes to find out what’s in a will because somebody else has done the hard work of reading it and transcribing it. They may not put all the text in there but there’s an awful lot of legalese and what they left to the church for candles and so on, masses to be said. But the salient stuff…what they left and to whom they left things that’s in the wills and they are enormously rich things.

“They give you a huge access to the families and the friends of the people who died because they will name them as beneficiaries; so a typical will will contain an average of ten names of other people besides the testator and probably at least half of these people will have different surnames
from the testator.

“So once you get into a will you can suddenly find you’ve got an awful lot more information than you started with. Other leads to follow up. It comes back to the issue of finding them in the first place.”

“Great!” I said, feeling that we had got an enormous amount of useful information from the interview. “And so your website is part of the origins.net?”

“Yes.” he replied. “Yes, Origins.net has been around now for oh, the best part of fifteen years but, erm, we started to concentrate on probate records about five years ago. We already had a reasonable collection but we realized that this is something that we really wanted to look at seriously, because it was one of the big problem areas.

“Births marriages and deaths, parish registers; yeah, there are lots of sites you can go and get really good collections of these. Census records, yeah. Now these are the primary places you’re going to look. You’re going to look at census, you’re going to look at Births, Marriages and Deaths. But where do you go next?

“And one of the major places, perhaps the most important single place to go next is wills; if you can find them.  And bear in mind also even if your ancestor didn’t leave a will there’s a pretty high chance they’ll be mentioned in the will left by somebody else.

“So so don’t worry, oh my ancestors didn’t leave wills. Not true! All kinds of people left wills. They can be very poor and very rich. It is not just the rich who left wills. Some wills you wonder why. This guy’s got nothing but he’d still make a will and leave it to his relations or to his friends mentioned by name.

“So it really is well worth looking into wills.”

“Great; thank you very much. That is very useful.” I said. “Thank you.”

 

 

One of the modules in my popular course in English/Welsh Family History looks at will records. Want to unravel the tangled roots and branches of your family tree?

Become a more knowledgeable researcher with this course.

Join Family History Researcher

Send to Kindle

Will I see you at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE in February?

 

Welcome to Olympia's Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show
Welcome to Olympia’s Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show

I’ve been going to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show for a few years now and except for one, where the weather conspired to keep me away with thick fog marooning me in Jersey for days, I have seen the show go from strength to strength.

I love the mix of experts to consult, the varying subjects of the talks in the different theatres, the the range of family history exhibitors and the whole buzz of the show.

Tickets have gone on sale at their website and they have announced a number of exciting exhibitors new to the show, giving the visitor even more ways to explore their family history. Perhaps I could just draw your attention to the one at the bottom of this list, as the name may seem familiar?

New Exhibitors at the 2014 show Olympia, 20-22nd February:

  • Unlock the Past – this company combines hobbies and holidays by offering history and genealogy cruises, as well as genealogy e-books.
  • BRD Associates – preserve your story through their professional video life story recording, story books and old image restoration.
  • Borders Ancestry – if you have ancestors living throughout the Scottish Borders and Northumberland, then consider this professional research service.
  • QI Wellness Centre – a company who specialise in the healing of your family’s inherited patterns.
  • Calico Pie – try their family historian deluxe genealogy software for size
  • Open University – is it time for you to take a course to study family or local history?
  • Imperial War Museum – contribute to the museum’s ambitious WWI centenary project by uploading the life story of your ancestor’s role in WWI
  • RAF Museum – last at the show in 2011, get the very best advice in tracing your RAF ancestors
  • Fast Track Engraving – watch their demonstration of engraving and purchase your own memorial medallion to commemorate family members in WWI
  • Dr Williams Library – find out more about library research
  • Brythonium – create a tangible family history using their family legacy cards
  • The Book Alchemist – why not consider a virtual boot camp on how to turn your family history into a written legacy?
  • The Nosey Genealogist – take a family history course using downloadable tutorials and audio CDs’

Of course you don’t have to wait until the show to take advantage of my Family History Researcher Academy course on English and Welsh Family history as there is a banner ad on the right hand side of this very blog!

As for WDYTYA?LIVE, New exhibitors will continually be added in the run up to the show so don’t forget to keep checking to see who is going to be there at: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com

Send to Kindle

TheGenealogist Releases Over One Million Apprentice and Master Records.

 

I’m very lucky to get all sorts of information sent to me, regarding family history, and this week I have interesting news about a new Apprentice and Masters database.

TheGenealogist has just released over one million Apprentice and master records for us to search online. This makes over two million searchable records when the apprentices from the census are included. What is more, these can both be searched together by using the keyword “apprentice” in TheGenealogist’s Master Search.

TheG apprenticeship John Sheppard

The site helps you find detailed records relating to the occupation of your ancestor. This is the first time you can find apprentices from a whole range of records between 1710 and 1911.

 

TheGenealogist’s is the largest searchable collection of apprentice records available online, allowing you to view how your ancestors developed their skills and also if they became a master in their profession.

 

These detailed records in IR1 cover the years from 1710 to 1811 giving name, addresses and trades of the masters, the names of the apprentices, along with the sum the master received and the term of the apprenticeship. Until 1752, it was also common to see the names of the apprentices’ parents on the record (often including their occupations).

 

So if you want to take a look for your ancestors then the new records are available to their Diamond subscribers in the Master Search and under the ‘Occupation Records’ section.

 

All in one search for family history

What is great is that you can search for both Apprentices and Masters.

 

TheGenealogist allows you to view the full transcript of an apprenticeship record to see more details of your ancestors apprenticeship – including when they started their training, the ‘Master’ who trained them and how long their apprenticeship was scheduled to be.

 

The Apprenticeship records provide an insight into a method of training that stood the test of time and are today, once again a popular method of training. Many apprentices did their training, worked their way up and then took on apprentices themselves. The Apprenticeship records allow you to trace this with just a few mouse clicks.

 

Then there is the handy keyword option. This also allows you to narrow down your search if you have an idea of the profession, or the area your ancestor worked in saving you even more time.

 

The new records are taken from the ‘IR1 Board of Stamps: Apprenticeship Books’ from The National Archives. As well as the new collection of records, apprentices can also be discovered in the transcribed ‘profession field’ of census records on TheGenealogist from 1841 to 1911.

 

The apprentice training route has for many people set them on their way in their working life or as a way of developing others. From James Hargreaves (inventor of the spinning jenny) to Thomas Yeoman (first President of The Society of Civil Engineers), to Sir Michael Caine who started as an apprentice plumber) to Beatle George Harrison who was an apprentice electrician, they have all experienced the apprenticeship programme.

 

This traditional way of training young people is now regaining popularity as the benefits our ancestors recognised are re-introduced as a way of giving people a start in a career.

 

Head over to TheGenealogist.co.uk now and search for your apprentice or master ancestors.

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 

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

 

 

Send to Kindle

TheGenealogist adds 90,000 Criminal Records to their site

 

Criminal Records

I see that TheGenealogist.co.uk has released a whole batch of records that are great for finding any ancestors of yours who may have fallen foul of the law!

Its a set of 90,000 Criminal records, which cover indictable offences in England and Wales between 1782 and 1892, that they have added to their website  for Diamond members and these records also uniquely cover prisoners ‘pardoned’, criminal charges and those classed as ‘criminal lunatics’.

Coming from  The National Archives the records cover the following:

  • HO27 – Criminal Registers, England and Wales
    Registers of all persons in England and Wales charged with indictable offences showing the results of the trials, the sentences in case of conviction, and dates of execution of persons sentence to death.
  • HO13 – Criminal Entry Books
    Lists of pardons.
  • HO20/13 – Prisons Correspondence and Papers
    Including Bethlehem Hospital criminal lunatics and other asylums.
  • CRIM1 – Central Criminal Court Depositions
    Statements on oath used in evidence in trials at the Old Bailey and pardons if granted.

As TheGenealogist says in its newsletter this month, “the 1800s in England and Wales was a place where it was not difficult to get into trouble and end up facing a severe punishment, perhaps even the death penalty. These new records may help shed light on a family relative who broke the Law and paid the consequences.”

Some of us love to unearth the odd black-sheep in the family. So take a look here and join their Diamond level membership to take advantage of this data:

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

Disclosure: The links above are compensated affiliate links and may result in me being compensated by TheGenealogist.co.uk should you buy their products.

Send to Kindle

£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

Send to Kindle
%d bloggers like this: