Archive for 2009


Ancestry.CA Completes Canadian Passenger Lists with Ocean Arrivals 1919-1924.

Canada’s leading family history website has completed the online launch of the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 Ancestry.CA  Completes Canadian Passenger Lists with Ocean Arrivals 1919 1924.with records documenting the arrival into Canada of more than 750,000 individuals between 1919 and 1924.

The only online source for these records, Ancestry.ca now provides access to the largest collection of immigration records to Canada – more than eight million records in total – from the key growth period of 1865 to 1935.

The records from Ocean Arrivals, 1919-1924, the originals of which are held by the Library and Archives Canada, can be searched online at Ancestry.ca by ship name, port of departure, passenger name, birth year, gender and place, date and port of arrival.

The majority of the records originate from the ports of Quebec, St. John and Halifax, the key ports of entry at the time for ships coming from Europe, with the western ports of Vancouver and Victoria accounting for nearly 50,000 records of individual passengers, mainly from Australia and the Far East. Another several thousand records originate from Montreal, Sydney and North Sydney.

Unlike many of the passenger lists from before or after this period, the records from Ocean Arrivals, 1919-1924 consist of individual passenger manifests, as opposed to ship manifests.

As a result, the records provide many more personal details on arriving individuals than had previously been required, which reflects the ‘culture of fear’, mistrust and the overriding anti-foreign sentiment that existed in Canada during this post First World War period.

Because of the changing social and political global landscape, in 1919 the Canadian government introduced the Immigration Act, which was used to bar entry to anyone whose nation of origin had been an enemy to Canada during the First World War.

More significantly, the Act was also used to deny entry to groups of people whose ideologies were in conflict with that of the government of the time – specifically groups of individuals from countries with a growing socialist and anti-democratic bent. The requirements for admittance became much stricter, with immigration officials insisting on as many details as possible about entrants.

In addition to information about the ship and port of origin, incoming passengers were now also questioned about their religion, their reason for coming to Canada, how much money they had in their possession, their ability to read and if they had ever been declared insane or suffered from epilepsy or tuberculosis. Further, a physical description of the passenger was entered along with the passenger’s own signature.

Prior to this Act, people arriving from most of Western Europe were deemed acceptable for immigration into Canada, with others accepted into the country only if the government considered that their skills would be of use.

For example, with the desire to grow and populate Canada’s western frontiers, the government allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to arrive from Eastern European nations through the 1800s. These were people with the skills required to farm the land and endure the harsh climate and lifestyle of the yet untamed Prairies.

“The amount of information about the passengers in these records is almost unseen in any other immigration record worldwide,” said Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca. “You can truly travel back in time and know exactly what your ancestors looked like when they arrived to start a new life in Canada, and know the reasons, from their own testament, as to why they came.

“By making this important collection of Canadian immigration records available online, everyone can now discover their personal family story, and also understand where and why it sits within the bigger story about our country’s history and growth, when so many came from around the world to start a new life in Canada.”

Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 Ancestry.CA  Completes Canadian Passenger Lists with Ocean Arrivals 1919 1924. database is available free in the SoG library and can subscribed to at home can be subscribed to at home Ancestry.CA  Completes Canadian Passenger Lists with Ocean Arrivals 1919 1924.

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The next big talking point amongst family historians, and which may well see divided opinions, is the Ministry of Justice consultation paper on the Government’s six options for the proposed changes to the edited Electoral Register for England and Wales.

A PDF of the consultation paper can be down loaded through the following link to the Ministry of Justice Website.

The edited register, sold by local authorities to various organizations and commercial companies, is used by genealogists largely engaged in tracing living people. This can include professionals and those heir hunters engaged in probate/intestacy and legal cases as well as hobbyists looking for cousins and one-name studies. Access to the register by genealogists is usually through commercial directory companies such as 192.com (and hence Findmypast) who make the edited register available online.

The Society would be interested in hearing opinions from members before drafting the SoG response in time for the February deadline. Anyone wishing to comment can contact  the Genealogist direct on genealogy@sog.org.uk or use the comments facility below.

The issues will again revolve round the balance drawn between the right of the individual to privacy against the use of publicly available data by family historians.

The paper sets out 6 policy options for consideration and comment  as listed below and gives relatively full arguments for and against each. Details can be found in the paper.

Options abolishing the Edited Register

Option 1: Abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable.

Option 2: Set a timescale or ‘trigger point’ for abolition of the Edited Register.

Option 3: Abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable, but extend access to the Full Register for other purposes to be decided in light of the consultation.

Options retaining the Edited Register

Option 4: Retain the Edited Register, but impose restrictions in legislation on who can purchase it and for what purposes.

Option 5: Replace the current ‘opt out’ provision with an ‘opt in’.

Option 6: Improve guidance for the public about the Edited Register.

Else Churchill, Genealogist

Society of Genealogists

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This database spans over 90 years from 1853 to 1943. The records provide a fascinating insight and invaluable resource to anyone researching the background of any family member who was a doctor, a dentist or midwife. The Familyrelatives website is available free at the SoG library

Copies of the Medical Directory from 1847 and the Medical Register from 1859 can also be found at the Society of Genealogists Library. In addition the Society of Genealogists has also published online for its members an index to what is possibly the earliest list known as the Medical Register 1779.  Compiled by Dr R J Hawkins, this surname index lists all those appearing in the rare 1779 Medical Register, a copy of which is held in the Society’s library. It is hoped to include scanned images of the register in due course.

A dedicated team at Familyrelatives.com spent several months painstakingly scanning and indexing original medical registers allowing them to be searched on different criteria including surname, forename and date to provide one of the most comprehensive and accurate databases available.  The records pre-date the foundation in 1858 of the General Medical Council, set up in a back room of what is now the University of Worcester to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the community.

3711082528 39daf7c8dc m Familyrelatives.com has Launched over One Million Records of Doctors, Dentists and Midwives
cc Familyrelatives.com has Launched over One Million Records of Doctors, Dentists and Midwives photo credit: Sarah G…

Prior to 1858 anyone could call themselves a medical practitioner with some of the treatments worse than the disease and devices resembling ancient instruments of torture but it gave an insight into Victorian imagination  and ingenuity. The years 1853 to 1943 saw remarkable developments in the field of medicine and notable medical practitioners:

John Snow (1813-1858) – Discoverer of the means  or transmission  of Cholera

John Snow (1813-1858) – was voted in 2003 as the greatest Physician of all time some, 145 years after his death, for his evidence based investigation and tracing of Cholera in Soho in 1854. He was the first person to dispel the myth that Cholera was caused by miasma or poor air. He traced the source to a public hand water pump in Soho . Those who drunk from it were infected by bacteria although remarkably all those that worked in the nearby brewery (where water was heated and subject to a separate water source) were not affected.

Joseph Lister (1838-1912) Discovered Carbolic Acid (Antiseptic)

In 1865 Joseph Lister (1838-1912) discovered that by using carbolic acid as an antiseptic during surgery and by ensuring hygienic conditions in theatre and around patients greatly improved chances of survival.

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) – His discovery saved 200 million people

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) is arguably responsible for saving in excess of 200 million lives having in 1928 discovered the antibiotic-penicillin, which although accidental has been hailed by many as possibly the greatest advance in medicine. He was Knighted in 1944 and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945.

He was also recognized by being awarded the Honorary gold medal from the Royal College of Surgeons, received a fellowship from the University of London, a fellowship from Toronto, Philadelphia, and many other institutions including from Harvard, USA and from Spain. He is buried in St Pauls Cathedral, London.

Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) – Identified mosquitoes as the cause of malaria

Another Nobel Prize winner Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) identified the mosquito as the cause of malaria during his service in India and distinguished himself in tropical medicine and the prevention of malaria in Indian, Africa , Egypt , Cyprus and Mauritius

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The National Archives Announces Catalogue and Documents Online Updates

Updates from TNA

For those who couldn’t attend the recent (and excellent) Catalogue Awareness Day, The National Archives has announced the completion of various cataloguing projects and gives some information on various new and ongoing projects on it website.

Details of some of the completed cataloguing projects including the addition of the surnames of the parties in C11 Chancery Pleadings 1714-1758 or the conversion of many of the old supplementary finding aids can be found on the catalogue projects pages of TNA’s website .

TNA has some interesting projects on the go including the cataloguing of some of the  MH 12 Poor Law Unions Correspondence with the Poor Law Commissioners and the cataloguing of Royal Navy Medical Officers Journals. See TNA’s website for details.

Also of note are the new additions to  TNA’s DocumentsOnline  service of  the Royal Navy logs of ships on exploration.  There are 164 volumes of logbooks of the Royal Navy’s voyages of scientific discovery, from series ADM 55, now available to search and download.

The Pacific, the Arctic, Australia and beyond.
Mostly kept by naval captains, masters, lieutenants and masters’ mates, these volumes offer a first-hand account of the day-to-day activities of the exploration party, giving a picture of life aboard ship. The information in the logs and journals was used by the Hydrographic Office to produce charts and other data.

Many famous officers kept logs held in this collection, including James Cook, William Bligh and Matthew Flinders. Covering numerous areas across the globe, the records were made between 1757 and 1861, except those of the ‘Morning’, which were made in 1904.

Climate change research
The logs also include scientific information gathered during a voyage and detailed daily accounts of the weather they encountered.  The meteorological observations in these logbooks have become a very valuable source of climatic information for scientists today and have therefore been digitised as part of the UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy Logbooks (CORRAL) project, funded by the Joint Information System Committee (JISC).

It usally costs £2.00 to download a log book or journal from DocumentsOnline, at home but you can download the index of ships within catalogue reference ADM 55 free of charge. Documents online can of course be searched free of charge at TNA, Kew or in the Society of Genealogists’ Library.

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Some Gretna Green Marriages Online at Ancestry and Free at SoG

Ancestry.co.uk has launched online the largest single collection of records of some 10,000 marriages which took place at Gretna Green in the 18th and 19th centuries. These Gretna Green Marriage Registers, 1795-1895 detail the weddings of more than half of all those who crossed the Scottish border so that they could marry without their parents’ consent. Access to these records on the Ancestry.co.uk database is free at the Society of Genealogists’ Library.

Each record details the full names of both husband and wife, their respective locations of residence, and the date of their wedding. The original collection, also referred to as the ‘Lang Registers’ were purchased by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies some years ago. They contains the marriage records of Gretna Green’s most prolific minster, David Lang, who was renowned for his ‘immodest air’ and clerical style.

Gretna Green became a popular destination for young English elopers after Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, passed in 1753, required parental permission for all couples wanting to marry under the age of 21. This law did not apply in Scotland where boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12. A free infomation leaflet about these Irregular Border Marriages and where other records might be found is available from the General Register Office for Scotland. Some transcripts of other registers are held in the Society’s library.

A mile inside the Scottish border, Gretna Green was the first changing post in Scotland for the stagecoaches on the main route from London to Edinburgh. It was also the first place couples arrived at when eloping to Scotland, resulting in thousands of weddings taking place in what quickly became known as Britain’s ‘marriage capital’.

Almost anybody could conduct a marriage ceremony in Scotland as long as two witnesses were present. This resulted in a range of tradesmen, including many blacksmiths given that Gretna Green was a changing post, setting themselves up as ‘ministers’ and charging for their services.

Dubbed ‘Anvil Priests’ by the locals, ceremonies were often conducted over the anvil with the blacksmith officiating, which was why the blacksmith and his anvil have come to symbolise Gretna Green weddings.

In order to restrict the rising number of couples eloping to Gretna, Parliament passed an act in 1857 that required for one of the parties to have resided in Scotland for a minimum of three weeks prior to the wedding for the marriage to be recognised in England.

Gretna Green marriage rates were never quite the same thereafter yet its reputation as the ‘Las Vegas of the UK’ remained and lives on today.

Gretna Green wedding scandals have made newspaper headlines since the mid 1700s. Among the records are a number of notable people and famous nuptials, including:

The Shrigley Abduction – A national scandal in 1826, Edward Wakefield duped wealthy 15-year-old heiress Ellen Turner into marriage at Gretna Green by claiming her father, a wealthy mill owner and Sheriff of Cheshire, was a fugitive and if she would agree to marry Wakefield, her father would be saved. Ellen consented and they were married on the 8th of March 1826 by blacksmith David Lang. Gretna Green Lang Register Shrigley Abduction 245x300 Some Gretna Green Marriages Online at Ancestry and Free at SoG

John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham – The marriage of the British Governor General and High Commissioner of British North America known as ‘Radical Jack’ to Lady Louisa Grey is recorded in 1816. Also a British Whig statesman and colonial administrator, Lambton was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1837 for his political work at home and abroad.

The Gretna Green Marriage Registers, 1795-1895 were transcribed as part of the Ancestry World Archives Project, which provides the public with indexing software and training support to enable them to contribute in making even more historical records available and searchable online. To date, thousands of Britons have contributed their time to this project. As the original marriage certificates which comprise this collection were badly age damaged, Ancestry experts also spent many months conserving them before they were digitized.

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