The Society of Genealogists has just published My Ancestor was a Railway Worker, a new book to aid family historians with research into railway records. The book is written by Frank Hardy FSG, who worked on the railways as a civil engineer for 50 years. Frank has also been involved with the Society of Genealogists in various capacaties since 1981. This and many other books are available from the society’s bookshop or via the online shop at www.sog.org.uk
Archive for September, 2009
The SoG Library now gives free access to 18 million parish records from London parishes dating from 1538 to 1980 published online for the first through Ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry’s databases, usually available to subscribers at home, can be accessed in the SoG’s FREE Family History Community Access area and on the computers in the Lower Library. Information about joining the Society of Genealogists can be found on our website .
Famous names mentioned in these records include Samuel Pepys, Oscar Wilde and Simon Cowell’s great-grandfather. Parish records an essential pre-19th century resource for UK family history researchers and this online collection supplements the many thousands of copies and transcripts of local parish records held in the SoG Library and which are listed on the SoG’s free online Library Catalogue .
The database on Ancestry.co.uk includes name indexes for the christening and burial registers from 1813 and marriages from 1754. Images of the original London records both for the indexed periods and for earlier records are also freely available at the SoG via the Ancestry website.
The records are made available by Ancestry.co.uk in partnership with the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts . The collection details baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in more than 1,000 Greater London parishes between 1538 and 1980 and reveals the names and stories of those who lived through major events in the City’s history including the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. The collection pre-dates Civil Registration – the government system established in 1837 to keep accurate records of citizens’ lives and the point at which record-keeping was both modernised and nationalised. The only way to trace a baptism, marriage or burial before the 19th century is through parish records.
The earliest records date back as far as 1538 when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, issued an order that each parish was to keep a register detailing every baptism, marriage and burial it performed. This collection will be of huge significance to the estimated 33 million Brits with ancestors who lived in or passed through London at some point in time, enabling them to trace their roots, whether to the City’s slums or its more affluent areas.
Samuel Pepys – The baptism of Pepys is recorded in the registers of St Bride, Fleet Street on the 3rd of March 1633. Pepys’ famed diary of London provides a valuable account of the Great Plague and the Great Fire.
Oscar Wilde – The marriage of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ author to Constance Mary Lloyd is listed on the 29th of May 1884 in Paddington. It was just a year after this marriage that many believe Wilde became aware of his homosexuality after meeting a boy named Robbie Ross
Joseph Allerton Cowell – The baptism of the music producer Simon Cowell’s great-grandfather is listed in the registers of St John of Jerusalem, Hackney, on the 15th of March 1874. Like his father, Joseph was a rope and twine manufacturer by trade
Thomas Hardy – The marriage of the ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ author to Florence Dugdee at St Andrew, Enfield is recorded on the 10th of February 1914
Other famous names in the collection include Charles Dickens, John Keats and English chemist Michael Faraday.
The digitisation and indexing of these parish records allows an insight into the social trends linked to key history events such as a steady increase in marriages recorded from 1754 when Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act resulted in the abolition of the practise of common-law marriage, thus making it a requirement for couples to marry in a church.
The London Historical Records, 1500s-1900s, can be accessed directly at www.ancestry.co.uk/lma
Various new family history database have been added to the SoG members Website. These new datasets continue to reflect the huge variety of family history resources available in the Society’s Library.
The Solicitors and Attorneys Index for Genealogists
This lists Solicitors and Attorneys who were practicing between roughly 1780 and 1861. It was compiled on record cards and donated to the Society of Genealogists by Brian Brooks in 2002 and converted for the Society by Les Murial. It includes information on lawyers around the United Kingdom. However the database does NOT include lawyers in London, Middlesex, Sussex and Wales as Mr Brooks is still working on these. There is also a little data on lawyers in Scotland and India, The index was compiled from various sources including Law Lists from 1780-1861, the 1851 census, and biographical works such as Sir Edgar Stephens’ Clerks of the Counties 1360-1960. This is a really useful index for anyone with solicitors in their family history.
The Solicitors and Attorneys index is divided into two databases on the website. The first shows career details and the entry number will indicate the geographical location. For example, entries 0001-0133 relate to lawyers in Bedfordshire and these numbers are explained on the site. The second includes genealogical information (shown here), where found, for each lawyer. Again entry numbers indicate the county location of the lawyer using the same codes as for the first index.
1. Using Pay-per-View Websites n(Alec Tritton)
2. Apprenticeship Records (Geoff Riggs)
3. Surname Searching in the SoG Library (Else Churchill)
4. The Guild of One-Name Studies (Howard Benbrook)
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1. Work backwards in time
It’s easier to work methodically from a fact such as the date of birth or a marriage of a relative than to try and trace down from a person you don’t know much about.
2. Ask the family
Ask other relatives what they remember about their family history. Make a note of any nicknames name changes. Ask them to tell you any family stories, what their ancestors did for a living, what they looked like.
3. Take notes and get organised
You never know what information will come in useful in your family history research so get into the habit of taking notes on what you have looked for and what you found. There are many useful computer software packages that will help you keep your records in an orderly manner and help draw up pedigrees and family groups sheets so you know who you are dealing with. Anyone joining the SoG from September 1st will receive free family history software (while stocks last) to help them record their family history
4. Check out the Web
The Internet can be a useful tool for contacting relatives and finding data. The Society of Genealogist website has a useful free information leaflet with information on starting your family history and links to useful websites
5. Meet other family historians
Family Historians are incredibly help to each other. There is a network of local societies with regular meetings up and down the country. Here you can meet like minded people with the same interests and local expertise. The Society of Genealogists is the largest UK family history society with a remarkable library and education programme.
6. What’s been done before?
It’s worth checking if anyone else is doing research into your family history before you start. The SoG free information leaflet on starting your family history has useful links to Social network sites where people can register their research interests and could be a way of finding information. The Society of Genealogists library collects published and unpublished family histories and research notes. Its free library catalogue can be found on its website which also list the names in its various collections
7. Read up on the subject.
There are many good books and magazines devoted to family history. The Society of Genealogists’ online bookshop has plenty of family history titles to help you.
8. Ask questions.
Who are you dealing with? You must at least know a name. Where did your ancestors live? Most family history records are associated with a place. When were they alive? Records and research will differ depending on the period you are interested in. What did your ancestors do in their lives and will that affect what information you can find?
9. Get some documentary evidence
Your family history will be drawn from myriad of records and sources throughout history in which your ancestors will be mentioned. Birth, marriage and death records, censuses 1841-1911, wills, church records occupational records, education and apprenticeship, military service records, tax records, criminal records, poor law, newspapers, trade directories, ecclesiastical licences, church court records, tombstones etc might all throw up valuable information.
10. Stay focussed
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information that’s available to family historians. Remember to have a clear idea of what you are looking for and why you started the search in the first place. Family history is fun and thoroughly absorbing. If you like detective stories and have a mind for solving puzzles then it’s definitely the hobby for you. Good hunting.