Archive for May, 2011

A report of the Society’s visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

On 11 May a small but very keen group was taken around the Grade II listed City of London Cemetery and Crematorium by the Superintendent & Registrar, Gary Burks.  The 1200 acres located on the edge of Epping Forest and across from Wansted Flats and originally farmland,  was originally purchased by the City Corporation in 1853 to provide more space for the already overcrowded burial grounds in the City. The cemetery design was laid out by the well-known City Surveyor, William Haywood, and opened in 1856.

Gary gave us a very thorough background history of the cemetery before  the tour and we were also able to briefly view the burial registers. As the registers are in date order, anyone wanting to have a search done would need to know the approximate date of death in order to find someone in the registers. Searches can be done for a fee, contact the City of London Cemetery for further details. The registers are currently being digitised and the Corporation of London hopes to make them available on the internet in the near future.

Within the cemetery are 7 miles of roads, 600,000 internments, not including the re-interred remains from the burial grounds of 38 historic City Churches . The grounds are very well kept, with extensive gardens, including a 600-bed rose garden, which require 10 staff to maintain.

As the cemetery is becoming full, Gary explained the cemetery’s policy of reusing graves for modern burial. Families are contacted about existing graves (which are known to have depth for at least two more burials). For example, some of the older graves were dug to accomodate around twelve bodies, but may only have two bodies interred and this leaves space for modern burials. A marker is left on the existing grave to notify the public of the intention for planning further burials. On one gravestone we saw, the stone had been reversed in the ground, and the back side (now facing forward) was used to inscribe the name of the newer, additional occupant of the grave.

Surprisingly, the cemetery also has a small cafe on the premises where one can have lunch or a cup of tea after a long trek around the grounds, something which our group happily took advantage of.

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The Society of Genealogists’ Prince Michael of Kent Award 2011 is given to Alex Graham. CEO of TV production company Wall to Wall

On the beautiful spring evening of 6th May 2011 SoG members, staff, friends and guests attended the Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Royal Overseas League. The Society’s Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent welcomed everyone and congratulated the Society on reaching its anniversary and, in addition, awarded the Society of Genealogists’ prestigious Prince Michael Award to Alex Graham of Wall to Wall Television.IMG_8270

The Prince Michael Award is made for distinguished and outstanding services to Genealogy.

It is not given lightly. Previous recipients have included The Family Record Centre, The Genealogical Society of Utah, Family Tree Magazine and Free BMD; all organizations that have joined the Society of Genealogists in broadening the appeal of genealogy.

Prince Michael said “ I am delighted to be here personally to present the award this evening to Alex Graham and his television production company Wall to Wall who make the popular BBC television series Who Do You Think You Are? Since it first appeared in 2004 the series has made a growing UK audience of some 5-6 million viewers aware that family history can be engaging and can reveal fascinating and often emotional stories. The show has in turn led a vast numbers of intrigued family historians to genealogy websites and to archives; encouraging them to go on their own genealogical adventure. Now the format has been extended to the Netherlands, Ireland and the United States. So this award is made to Alex Graham and Wall to Wall in appreciation of raising awareness of family history worldwide.”IMG_8506

The Society of Genealogists is the oldest genealogical organization in the country. Founded in 1911 it is the premier genealogical society and National Library and Education Centre for Family History

Prince Michael of Kent has been Patron of the Society of Genealogists since 2005, having formerly been its President from 1978.

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Society of Genealogists Centenary Celebrations 1911-2011

Judging by the smiles and nice comments I think everyone who attended the Society of Genealogists’ Centenary celebrations over the weekend of 6-7th May had a very good time. On a beautiful spring evening SoG members, staff, friends and guests attended the Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Royal Overseas League in Picadilly. The Society’s Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent welcomed everyone and congratulated the Society on reaching its anniversary and, in addition, awarded the Society of Genealogists’ prestigious Prince Michael Award to Alex Graham of Wall to Wall Television.  The award is made for distinguished and outstanding services to genealogy

Attendees at the Gala Dinner included our President Patric Dickinson, Clarenceux King of Arms; Vice Presidents Dr Peter Spufford and Dr Elizabeth Hallam Smith; Centenary Sponsors Findmypast (along with parent company Bright Solid and sister company GenesReunited); SoG Chairman Colin Allen and fellow Trustees; SoG Chief Executive June Perin and staff and ,of course, SoG Fellows and Members. Guests included Sara Rapson (General Registrar and CEO Identity and Passport Office); Alan and Terri Packer and Patrick and Jennifer Kearon (from the Church of the Latter Day Saints), various representatives of the genealogical online community and websites, and editors of the genealogical press.


Our President offered the Loyal Toast and cut the Society’s birthday cake. Colin Chapman, Chairman of the Fellows, toasted the Society; congratulating it on its past and wishing it well in the future. An after dinner auction of gifts and prizes generously donated by various suppliers raised funds for the Society. Everyone looked very grand either in black tie or party frock though I am sure many of the ladies, like me, welcomed the opportunity to ease out of heels and relax with a drink afterwards !! The Royal Overseas League was a lovely venue and made us very welcome.

The conference the following day was equally enjoyable (especially as there was no need to wear high heels). After being formally welcomed by Colin Allen and Debra Chatfield from Findmypast the delegates were eager to hear the Society’s programme of talks. Along with the centenary sponsorship from Findmypast, that, amongst other things, provided for the venue and many of the gifts for the conference bags for each delegate; the Society of Genealogists was able to provide many of the conference speakers with the support of the Halstead Trust.

The speakers were varied and interesting. Dr Nick Barrat challenged family historians to preserve and make use of their own personal family stories and archives for the future of genealogy. Schelly Dardashti showed how DNA can help solve genealogical questions using the Iberian Ashkanaz DNA project as an example and throwing in a tremendous amount of history of Jewish and European migration for good measure. Dr Colin Chapman made sure everyone had a good understanding of the history of the Society of Genealogists and his chairman Dr Peter Spufford encouraged everyone present to buy the recently published History of the Society of Genealogists . Dr Bruce Durie spoke on the future of genealogy education. Despite becoming a father only the night before,  Jeremy Goldsmith came to explain problems and challenges of using parish registers in the 21st century. Sharon Hintzte gave a thought provoking outline of the preservation of genealogies in older cultures and suggested that the future genealogy memories will be recorded on our mobile phones and in digital web archives no bigger than a freight container. Dr Gill Draper warned of over reliance on the technology of genealogy though acknowledged that it has made innovations in family reconstruction before the 18th century. Alex Tritton showed the future of genealogical communication with blogs and other media to record and promote family stories. Else Churchill outlined some lesser used, but name – rich resources, for researching in the Long 18th Century while Beverley Charles Rowe explained the technical intricacies of automated name linkage within genealogical databases. IMG_8026

Everyone came together at the end of the conference to hear Juliet Nicolson’s evocation of the events in the long hot summer of 1911 in which the Society of Genealogists was founded. She spoke eloquently and was very amusing and unsurprisingly there was a long queue to have copies of her books signed. Colin Allen presented gifts to Lori Weinstein, June Perrin and Else Churchill for their hard work as organisers of the weekend’s events. While some delegates called it a day, most stayed on for the conference banquet afterwards. After dinner we heard David Fletcher’s wry and very amusing tales about two diarists and their experiences as Mormon genealogists in England in 1889 and in the 1940s. Later we sat back, drank some more wine and ended the day being serenaded by one of Roy Stockdill’s favourite singers Catherine Howe who left us all feeling very mellow indeed.

We do hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. We did. We have posted albums of photographs from the Gala Dinner and Centenary conference onto the Society’s Facebook page.!/societyofgenealogists?sk=photos

Please let us know if you like them and do take the opportunity to like the SoG Facebook fan page too – we need more friends. If anyone who attended the event would like larger copies of these pictures they can either be found along with many others on the official photographer’s website details of which you have.

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Lloyd’s List Marine News 1740-1837 index and images on online

Another slightly unusual source has been made available for family history 

I’m indebted to Michael Dunn who has sent a note to remind me that the marine news contained in Lloyd’s List for the period 1740-1837 has been indexed by the Guildhall Library, London. Michael has now scanned and made images of the  Lloyd’s List marine news notices to compliment the index and both the images and the link to the Guildhall Library’s index is available at

Michael’s website is intended to provide information on the War of 1812 and the Prisoners of War. American privateers added to the offensive capability of the United States. He draws on sources from the UK at TNA and in North America and the site is extremely interesting.

Lloyd’s List is a newspaper devoted to marine news and shipping movements; principally for the merchant shipping community but now a valuable source for anyone interested in maritime activity of the period. In particular it records the movements of ocean going vessels and marine news of casualties, ‘speakings’ and other events involving individual vessels..

This database has been compiled from copies of Lloyd’s List deposited at Guildhall Library by Lloyd’s of London as part of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection. The database is an index to the marine news section of Lloyd’s List for the period 1740 – 1837. Please note that only the news items are included; the ordinary shipping movements have not been indexed. The news items are remarkable and, as you can see from the example image below, Llods shipping news 09-20-1814 packed with names of ships and their owners showing arrivals and sailings.

Note there are some omissions. The database excludes the years 1742, 1745, 1754, 1756, 1759 and 1778, for which Guildhall Library does not have copies of Lloyd’s List. In addition there are only the Old Style dates January 1 to March 24 for the years 1740, 1743 and 1746.

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Walk: In the Shadow of St Pauls – Cemeteries & Burial Grounds 7 October 2011

This new addition to the Society’s popular ‘Cemeteries & Burial Grounds’ walks, will take place on Friday, 7 October 2011 starting at 2pm. The walk will last approximately two hours and our group  will meet our walk leader, Alec Tritton, at Postman’s Park, behind St. Botolph Aldersgate. Book early as places are limited.

The walk MUST be pre-booked, price £10.00 (£8.00 SoG members). To book a space, visit our secure website or telephone the events department: 020 7553 3290. Do you have a question? email the events department

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