Archive for 2010

Early London Parish Registers Indexed Online and Free at Society of Genealogists

 Genealogists will be delighted that, in partnership with the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives, today launched online for the first time eight million of London’s oldest surviving parish records, charting the history of the city from the 16th century to modern times. This initiative will provide remarkable opportunities for anyone tracing  London family history.

The London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 contain vital records kept at more than 1,000 London parishes, and include some of the few extant records of the English Civil War.

Crucially, these records pre-date Civil Registration, the system introduced by the Government in 1837 to record the ‘vital’ events of its citizen’s lives, including births, marriages and deaths. The only way to trace one of these key events before the 19th century is to use parish registers.

The majority of the parish registers date back to 1538 when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, issued an order that each parish was to keep a register of each baptism, marriage and burial performed there, however the collection also features a few much earlier records. One of the transcripts that is included within the collection is dated 1274.

Russell James from comments: “These records detail the existence of those living through the fascinating period of the English Civil War, the political consequences of which can still be felt today. The conflict instilled Parliament with genuine power for the first time, while its factions developed into what have become some of our modern political parties.

“As official records were not kept by the government until Civil Registration in 1837, these parish records are essential for tracing anyone who was baptised, married or buried in London before the 19th century.”

Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of London’s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery, comments: “I am delighted that we are able to make these unique historical records available online for the first time and fully name searchable.


“Our understanding of the development of London and the lives of millions of Londoners will be greatly enhanced through online access to this information.”


The launch of the early parish records marks the completion of the London parish registers, which began in September 2009 with the launch of the ‘modern’ records dating from the early 19th century to the 1980s. A total of 18 million parish records are now online, dating from 1538 to 1980.

Access to these indeed records is available free in the Library of the Society of Genealogists.  Anyone needing  first time help to use the Ancestry website can book a help session with the Society’s Community Officer.  Details of using the Society of Genealogists Library can be found on our main website.

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Teachers’ Registrations 1870 – 1948 (Treasures Tuesday 12th October 2010)

The Society has many useful, informative and unique original records that can not be found anywhere else in the world.  The Teachers’ Registrations for example, came to the Society in 1997 and give details of nearly 100,000 people who taught in England and Wales between 1870 and 1948; more than half of those are women. Click here to find out more about these records and other Treasures of the Society.

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Was your ancestor a railwaywoman?

Although the majority of people employed by the railways were men, a number of women were also to be found amongst their ranks.

Helena Wojtczak, in her book “Railwaywomen” (Hastings Press, 2005), tells the untold story of the British railwaywoman, charting her progress from exploited drudge in the 1830s to steam engine driver by the 21st century.

A copy of the book is held in the Society of Genealogists’s library in Clerkenwell and Society volunteer Frank Hardy has recently produced an index to all 2644 people mentioned in the text. This index has now been made available on the Members’ Area of the Society’s website where a free basic search can be made.

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A report of the Society of Genealogists group Visit to the London Charterhouse

The Charterhouse, a former 14th century Carthusian monastery  is a short walk from the society’s premises, to  the north of what is now Charterhouse Square off of Carthusuian Street, near Smithfield.

The building is formally known as Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse and since the dissolution of the monasteries, it has served as a private mansion,  a boys’ school, and is home to 40 “Brothers”.
The Brothers were those who could supply ‘good testimonye and certificat of theire good behaviour and soundnes in religion’, those who had been servants to the King ‘either decrepit or old captaynes either  at sea or land’, maimed or disabled soldiers, merchants fallen on hard times, those ruined by shipwreck or  other calamity’. The brothers are still there, and our tour was given by the very knowledgeable brothers Alan Scrivener and Stephen Green.

Entrance Court

We entered through the large medieval gateway, past Master’s Court to the buildings that housed the chapel. Portions of the medieval wall are still visible and include some wonderful memorials such as the one belonging to Sir Thomas Sutton. Other highlights were the  great hall, the old wood- panelled and galleried dining room and the Norfolk cloister. Inside the cloister, a single monk’s cell still remains, built 1349 and uncovered during post war restoration work.

society group visit

Master’s Court and the Great Hall

photos compliments of Barry Hepburn

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Spotlight on the Kent Topographical Collection (30th September 2010)

Each Topographical Collection is unique and contains valuable and insightful information on local, social and family history dating as far back as the 17th century. The Kent Topographical Collection for the towns of ‘Seale’, ‘Tunbridge’ and ‘Southborough’ are particularly thrilling to look through due to the volume of original family history documents, all of which are in good condition. Click here to view a selection of original documents from this collection.

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