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Posts Tagged ‘Ancestry’

One million new Poor Law records

Tuesday, 23rd June, 2009

More than a million additional records covering the period from 1834-1940 have now been added to the Ancestry UK.  These records were created by the boards of guardians responsible for the care of the poor in their respective Poor Law Unions.

The poorest in society had recourse to some form of relief since Elizabethan times by virtue of the Poor Law. Poor law relief generally applied to the poorest and most vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, orphaned, unemployed, or the sick and afflicted. These individuals were eligible to receive help such as monetary relief and other daily necessities like food, clothing, and work – usually administered via the dreaded workhouses. Children could be appointed to apprenticeships or placed in schools and other institutions. The records also include registers of creed, school, apprentices, servants, children, and inmates among others.

UK Birth Index Update

Tuesday, 10th February, 2009


At the end of January made 134 million General Records Office (GRO) UK birth records for England and Wales dating from 1837 to 2005 available online for the first time, fully searchable by name, registration date and district. This was done as an update to the existing England & Wales Birth Index collection.

Many of you may be familiar with the previous GRO Birth Index that was indexed by surname range only. A search would produce a list of all pages on which the searched name might appear, but referenced by the first and last name on those pages only. Now, every name in the GRO Birth Index is individually searchable. 

The newly updated Birth Index is comprised of only two separate collections instead of the three collections that existed previously. The England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 includes births registered from 1837 to 1915 and was keyed by FreeBMD, a group of independent volunteers dedicated to transcribing civil registration indexes of birth, marriage and death records for England and Wales.

The second, England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005, includes the birth index from 1916 to 1983, which has been transcribed by, and the GRO published index from 1984 to 2005. Images of the index are only available up to 1983.

We are currently working to also fully index the GRO Marriage and Death indexes. When complete, more than 250 million individual birth, marriage and death (BMD) records will be searchable. As ‘core’ record sets, this major enhancement to Ancestry’s BMD collection will be of great benefit to all UK family history researchers.

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

500 Years of London history to launch online

Monday, 24th November, 2008

From the City of London website:

London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section are delighted to announce a new partnership with Ancestry™ to digitise genealogical sources.

The first records will launch on in early 2009, with the following prioritised for launch in the coming year:

  • Parish records – records from more than 10,000 Greater London parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from the 1530s to the 20th Century
  • Poor Law documents – relating to the administration of poor relief, including workhouse registers from 1834 onwards
  • London school admissions – records from 843 individual London schools dating from the early Victorian times through to 1911, providing admission and personal details for millions of London students

It is anticipated that the full digitisation and indexing program will include:

  • Parish baptisms, marriages and burials
  • Bishops transcripts
  • Parish poor law records
  • Boards of Guardians records
  • Diocesan marriage bonds and allegations
  • Non-conformist baptisms, marriages and burials
  • School admission and discharge registers
  • Electoral registers, overseers returns and poll books
  • Land tax records
  • Wills
  • City of London Freedoms
  • Middlesex Sessions – Transportation Contracts
  • Consistory Court of London Matrimonial and Testamentary Papers

We will provide free access to view the indexes and images through on the computer terminals in our public rooms.  The program will start shortly and we will release further information about the project over the coming months.

Canadian Census index online for free

Saturday, 22nd November, 2008

If you have any Canadian ancestors, then you might interested to know that and FamilySearch are teaming up to provide online access to a comprehensive collection of Canadian censuses.

As part of the agreement, FamilySearch will digitize and index Canadian census records that has acquired. These digitized and indexed records will then be made available to members on the company’s website, and in time the indexes will also be available to the public at The images will be free to qualified FamilySearch members and all FamilySearch family history centers.

FamilySearch will deliver images and indexes to for censuses from 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1916 Censuses to launch online in 2009. In return, will provide images and indexes to FamilySearch for the 1851, 1891, 1901 and 1906 Censuses.

Getting Involved

Interested volunteers can begin helping immediately by registering online at, downloading the free indexing software, and selecting the 1916 Canada Census project. A digital image of a census page will appear. Volunteers simply type in the data highlighted on the computer screen and save it online. It takes about 30 minutes to complete one census page, and volunteers have a week to complete it if need be. Volunteers only need to be able to read, type, and have Internet access to participate.

British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 – Updated to surname “N”

Friday, 14th November, 2008

Ancestry UK, in conjuction with the National Archives, hold a database containing the surviving service records on non-commissioned officers and other ranks that served in WWI and did not re-enlist in the Army prior to WWII. This database has recently been updated and now contains records for all surnames in the range A-N. Names that fall outside of this range that are presently included come from records that were misfiled according to surname sequence.

For British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 – Updated to surname ‘’N’’ Click here to see Ancestry’s British Army WW1 Records

Ancestry Browser Toolbar

Thursday, 13th November, 2008

The Generations Network has announced the availability of an Ancestry Toolbar. The Toolbar is a new feature that you can add to your Windows browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) and use to save photos and stories you find on the Web to a person in your Ancestry Member Tree. With the toolbar, you can:

  • Attach photos and stories them to people in your family tree
  • Save links to web pages to people in your family tree
  • Access your Ancestry Quick Links
  • Quickly access your family tree(s)

Please note that it is for Windows only; there is no Generations Toolbar for Macintosh.

You can learn more about the Ancestry Toolbar at

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