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Archive for January, 2009

Royal Marines records available online and free at SoG Library

Tuesday, 27th January, 2009

Royal Marines records available online and free at SoG Library. TNA announced on 8 January 2009 that the service registers of some 110,000 seamen who joined the Royal Marines between 1842 and 1936 are now available to search and download from Documents Online which can be searched and downloaded free at the SOG. You can search under surname, forename, register number and date of enlistment, and may uncover the names of ships and shore stations served on, details of conduct, medal entitlement and much more.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Monday, 26th January, 2009

The new series of Who Do You Think You Are? will now begin at 9pm on BBC One on Monday 2 February, the BBC has announced. The series was originally reported to start on Wednesday 4 February, but the BBC has since announced changes to the schedule. The impressionist Rory Bremner will kick-off the much-anticipated new series by delving into his family’s fascinating military past. Newsreader Fiona Bruce will trace her Scottish roots a week later. The series will also feature chef Rick Stein, actress Zoë Wanamaker, and actor Kevin Whately.

Ireland Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958 online

Monday, 26th January, 2009

If you’ve got Irish ancestors, you might be interested in knowing that the Irish Civil Registration Indexes from 1845-1958 are now online at Family Search.

New Online Course: Introduction to One-Name Studies

Friday, 16th January, 2009

The following announcement was written by the Guild of One-Name Studies:

The Guild of One-Name Studies and Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd are pleased to announce a brand new five week introductory course on One-Name Studies, starting 27th April 2009.  This is the first course of its kind, either online or in the classroom. The new online course will be a guide and introduction to One-Name Studies, run by online genealogy specialists Pharos Tutors assisted by the considerable experience of the Guild of One-Name Studies, probably the most dedicated group of genealogists in the world. 

The course covers surnames and their history; core records needed for one-name studies; the analyses of one-name data and all the practical aspects of running a one-name study.

Prospective students can pay and enroll via the Pharos website – at a price of £42.99. The Guild of One-Name Studies will also be offering free membership to the Guild for the remainder of the financial year for all non-Guild members who sign up for this course.

The course is suitable for all genealogists who have an interesting or unusual surname, or who wish to research their surname in greater depth.  It will also be of significant interest to existing one-namers.  

Helen Osborn, Managing Director of Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd, said today

“We were delighted to be approached by the Guild who share our vision for genealogy education and we look forward to working with them on this and future projects.”                                                          

Cliff Kemball, Guild Treasurer & project mentor for Pharos courses, said today: 

“The availability of this introductory course on One-Name Studies is a significant development in the Guild’s aim to increase the facilities available to its members and in its charitable aim of advancing the education of the public in one-name studies”

Family Pursuit Announces the Release of Private Family Trees

Thursday, 15th January, 2009

Family Pursuit announced the following yesterday:

Provo, Utah, Jan. 14 – Family Pursuit, a leader in online collaborative genealogy research tools, today announced the release of Private Family Trees. Designed specifically for collaboration, this unique wiki-based website is now available for private use for the genealogist who is looking for a better way to work with others. Family Pursuit’s private family trees allow researchers to share not only conclusions, but their ongoing research, sources, extractions and theories with those invited to join the trees. They are the perfect solution for sharing research with the entire family, interacting with other family genealogists, or working within a family organization or one-name study.

Some of the collaborative tools available for private family trees include:

  • Inviting an unlimited number of family members to join a private tree
  • Organizing and sharing ongoing genealogy research
  • Creating and assigning tasks
  • Sharing research logs and extractions
  • Adding living individuals
  • Keeping all information about living and deceased individuals private
  • Involving and mentoring family members
  • Participating in family discussions
  • Receiving notifications of changes made by tree users
  • Rolling back and forth any change made by any user
  • Advanced merging and unmerging

Along with these new private trees, Family Pursuit continues to offer its Community Tree which has been created for genealogists to share research with the genealogy community to reduce duplicate efforts, accelerate research, and network and connect with distant relatives.

“We have found that many genealogists feel more comfortable working privately with those they already know. A Private Family Tree offers this security,” said Mike Martineau, founder of Family Pursuit. “When genealogists feel confident in their research conclusions, they will be able to easily copy their conclusions to the Community Tree for others to view and add to. A Private Family Tree also allows the inexperienced genealogist to be privately mentored by more knowledgeable relatives. We are excited to offer a bridge between those who are overwhelmed by the amount of research and those who want to help but don’t know how. We look forward to continuing our progress in developing these important tools, and being a part of bringing more people into the work.”

About Family Pursuit

Started in 2004, Family Pursuit, a Provo, Utah company, provides web-based applications to accelerate family history work by providing a framework for genealogy researchers to work together in their efforts and to easily share their ideas, theories, research and conclusions. Family Pursuit enables genealogy enthusiasts to involve family members who have never engaged in family history work, bringing families together in sharing the rewarding experience of researching, exploring, and creating a personal understanding of their heritage. Visit for more information.

1911 Census UK launches today

Tuesday, 13th January, 2009

For a few days over the Christmas period, in association with The National Archives made parts of the UK 1911 census available to its customers on its website  This was a teasing introduction to the official launch on 13th January 2009.  

It is exciting for genealogists that this census has been made available earlier than usual but not all of the scanning of the census returns has been completed yet.  They hope it will be by the summer.

It is expected that the website will be very busy at first, and FindMyPast have taken a number of measures to make sure that as many people as possible can get their searches completed successfully including restricting some search functions and only allowing census pages to be downloaded rather than viewed directly on the site.  You will need to purchase credits to view the results of your census searches.

Counties available at launch:

Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Middlesex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutlandshire, Shropshire, Somersetshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire West Riding

Counties not available for launch but coming soon:

Yorkshire – East Riding and North Riding


Isle of Man
Channel Islands
Royal Navy
Overseas Military Establishments

About the 1911 census

The 1911 census for England and Wales was taken on the night of Sunday 2 April, 1911. The count included all individual households, plus institutions such as prisons, workhouses, naval vessels and merchant vessels, and it also attempted to make an approximate count of the homeless.

What is in the 1911 census?

In common with the censuses that preceded it, it recorded the following information:

  • Where an individual lived
  • Their age at the time of the census
  • Who (what relatives) they were living with
  • Their place of birth
  • Occupation

Also, depending on an individual’s circumstances, additional information could include:

  • Who their guests were on the night of the census
  • The number of servants they had (if any)
  • Whether they were an employee or employer
  • Details of nationality
  • Duration of current marriage

In response to government concerns the 1911 census also asked additional, more specific questions to each household, about fertility in marriage and occupational data.

Prior to 1911, the household schedules were destroyed once the details had been transferred into the enumerators’ summary books. But for the 1911 census both sets of records have been preserved, which means you can see the census documents filled out in your ancestor’s own hand (complete with mistakes and additional comments), in addition to the edited version in the enumerators’ summary.

At launch the household schedules (original household pages), plus their transcriptions are available. The enumerators’ summary books will go online six to eight weeks after launch.

The 1911 census and the suffragettes

Frustrated with the government’s refusal to grant women the vote, a large number of women boycotted the 1911 census by refusing to be counted.

There were two forms of protest. In the first, the women (or their husband) refused to fill in the form, often recording their protest to the enumerator. In the second, women evaded the census by staying away from their home for the whole night.

In both cases, any details relating to individual women in the households will be missing from the census.

For the family historian the active refusal to fill in the form (accompanied by a protest statement) at least registers the presence of a woman/women in the household, whereas the women who evaded the count are simply untraceable via the census.

The exact number of women who boycotted the census is not known, though some people have estimated that it may be as many as several thousand.

UK Medical Registers, 1859-1959

Friday, 9th January, 2009

Ancestry UK has published The UK Medical Registers provided in association with the General Medical Council. This database contains annually published books listing all of the names of doctors who were licensed to practise in the United Kingdom and abroad from 1859-1959. Also included are foreign doctors who qualified in Britain. Although these books were published annually, registers have only been digitised on 4 year intervals.  This database contains images of original records.

Ye Olde Yellowe Payges: trade directories 1677-1946 online

Wednesday, 7th January, 2009 has digitised the trade directories from 1677 to 1946 and from tonight will be available online. 

The directories were compiled by surveyors who would knock on doors to gather information and it didn’t cost anything to be listed. The directories were initially compiled for London, with the first UK-wide directories published in 1820. The English County Directories contain particularly detailed information, listing amenities such as churches, hospitals and schools as well as information on local history, industry, transport and agriculture.

Individual listings vary from the standard occupations of the day such as chimney sweeps, dress makers and greengrocers to more bizarre roles such as leech importers, weapons dealers and beast preservers.

You will be able to find many of today’s well-known names: the first shops of Charles Henry Harrod (Harrods), John Boot (Boots Chemists), William Henry Smith (WH Smiths) and John Cadbury (Cadburys) are all included as are the first outlets of Marks & Spencer, Dixons and Woolworths.

The UK City and County directories were eventually replaced by other media such as the BT Phone Books.

Olivier Van Calster, Managing Director of said:

‘This collection of directories is unique in that they cover 250 years of the UK’s social and commercial history and include many famous names that can still be found on the High Street today.

‘Because the collection spans most of the UK and just about everyone will be able to discover something of relevance – whether it’s what their ancestors were doing hundreds of years ago or how their hometown has changed across the centuries.’

By Emily Andrews, Daily Mail 7th January 2009

Britishness redefined

Wednesday, 7th January, 2009

Press release from Ancestry UK:

Half of Brits have immigrant ancestry yet few of us know about it – new research from

  • Brits unaware of foreign ancestry as world celebrates International Day of Migrants
  • Most common countries of origin are Ireland, France and Germany
  • Of the 30 million Brits descended from immigrants, 25 million (84 per cent) know nothing of their foreign ancestry

There may be little love lost between us Brits and our neighbours across the channel, but new research from leading family and social history website reveals that we are more closely related than we’d like to think.

One in 10 Brits is of French or German descent and half of us can trace our roots outside of the UK2. Yet as the world celebrates International Day of Migrants (18 December), the majority of Brits (84 per cent) admit knowing nothing of their immigrant ancestry.

And yet despite being unaware of our immigrant ancestry, we practice a variety of foreign traditions every Christmas. For example, the Germans brought us the custom of decorating the Christmas tree, feasting on Christmas Turkey originated in the United States and kissing under the mistletoe started in Scandinavia.

Our religious practices also reflect the diversity of our ancestry. In addition to Christmas, Britons celebrate 12 other holy festivals in December including the Muslim festivals of Eid al-Adha and Waqf-al-Arafa and the Jewish ‘festival of lights’, Hanukkah.

With so many oblivious to their foreign roots, is calling on the public to take advantage of the holiday period to research their own family stories. A wide range of historical records are now online, enabling amateur family historians and experts alike to uncover millions of stories of multi-cultural lineage, as well as fascinating histories of notable British personalities:

  • Camilla Parker-Bowles – the Duchess of Cornwall is descended from a French-Canadian carpenter named Zacharie Cloutier
  • Boris Johnson – the Mayor of London has uncovered a wealth of immigrant blood in his family tree, including ancestors from Turkey, France and America
  • Helen Mirren – the actress famed for role as Queen of England, Helen was born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov. Her father was from a long line of Russian Noblemen
  • Victoria Beckham – the Spice Girl and style icon is descended from German immigrants who came to Britain in the 19th Century
  • Winston Churchill – war hero and past Prime Minister may be the embodiment of British stiff upper lip, but was actually half American (mother’s side)
  • Christopher Carandini Lee – the Lord of the Rings star is of Italian decent from his mother’s side. Managing Director Olivier Van Calster comments: “So much of Britain’s cultural and political history stems from its immigrant heritage, which makes it even more staggering when we learn how few of us are actually aware of our foreign ancestry.

“For many families, Christmas is the one time in the year when they all come together, which explains why it’s one of the most active periods for family history research. If there are rumours in your family of foreign ancestry, this could be the perfect time to find out more about them.”

Britons’ foreign descendents originate from the following countries3:

  1. Ireland – 23 per cent
  2. France – 10 per cent
  3. Germany – 9 per cent
  4. Scandinavia – 6.5 per cent
  5. Canada – 5 per cent
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