Archive for 2011


Society of Genealogists’ Boyd’s Marriage Index now available on Genes Reunited

The SoG’s famous marriage index compiled by Percival Boyd comprising some 7million names is now available on Genesreunited

Percival Boyd

Boyd’s obituary published in the Genealogists’ Magazine Vol 12 p61 (June 1955) says he was born in 1866 but he was actually born on 29th June 1868 at St Paul’s, Haggerston, into a family of London merchants and warehousemen. He was educated at Sutton Valence Grammar School, Uppingham School and Clare College, Cambridge, where he received his MA in 1894. After leaving university he became a partner, chairman and managing director of the family firm in Friday Street, off Queen Victoria Street, in London. He became a liveryman of the Drapers Company in 1893, Master in 1926 and senior member of the Court of Assistants. In his spare time he was a member of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, the Royal Philatelic Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.Centenary008. Percival Boyd thumb Society of Genealogists’ Boyd’s Marriage Index now available on Genes Reunited

Boyd joined the Society of Genealogists in 1922 and was made a Fellow in 1926. He served on the Executive Committee for 22 years from 1927-49, with a one-year gap in 1932 due to ill health, and was its Chairman from 1929-31 and 1938-40 and Vice-President from 1949 until his death.

Boyd’s Marriage Index

The Marriage Index was first announced to members in the Genealogists’ Magazine for September 1925 in an article entitled “An index to marriages”. It covers the period 1538 to 1837 with a few events dated earlier and one or two parishes continued later. Sources were transcripts of marriage registers – some borrowed from the transcriber for the purpose and then returned – bishop’s transcripts, marriage licences and banns registers.

After Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, all nonconformist marriages from 1754 to 1837, except those of Quakers and Jews, should have taken place in a parish church of the Church of England. In all, the index includes marriages from parts of over 4,320 parish registers and some Quaker marriages.

Theoretically, the index only covers England but there are some irregular marriages in Scotland relating to people from Holy Island 1776-1812 in the Northumberland and some marriages further afield in the extracts from the Gentleman’s Magazine 1731-1768. Entries taken from the Faculty Office Marriage Licences could also extend beyond England.

The information given for each entry is standardised and consists only of the year of marriage, names of partners and place of marriage or source of information such as ML or Gents. Mag. Where one partner is a long way from home Boyd indicates this and makes an entry in the home volume.

Entries for 16 of the best-covered English counties were typed into the Main series and entries for other counties and those taken from marriage licences were bound into a Miscellaneous series. At Boyd’s death in 1955 he had amassed approximately a further 1/4 million slips which he bequeathed to the Genealogical Society of Utah. They covered the full period from 1538-1837 and all English counties, including information compiled from marriage licences such as those at Wells. The GSU put this series of slips into strict alphabetical order and typed them up and this became the Second miscellaneous series which is NOT available online.

All told, there are approximately seven million entries in the index as a whole and it is estimated that this covers between ten and 15 per cent of pre-1837 English marriages. The best coverage is for the earlier period up to 1754 or 1812. Although the index bears Boyd’s name and he himself did, or paid to have done, most of the work, other members were involved in the project – both at the time and since his death.

Cambridgeshire – most of the marriage registers in the county before 1812, including BTs from Ely, were transcribed by the Reverend Evelyn Young. Writing in Nov 1935, the year before his death, he said that he had then “copied approx 130,00 Cambs marriages”. Those supplementing his work for the period 1801-37 were compiled by Thomas Peter Roysse Layng in 1977.

Durham and Northumberland were largely the work of Herbert Maxwell Wood, FSA. Very few of the index entries go beyond 1812. In Durham two go down to 1826 and three to 1837 and in Northumberland three parishes are covered to 1814 and one to 1818. Herbert Wood died in 1929.

Gloucestershire was indexed by Eric Arthur Roe, TSG, and includes entries from BTs as well as registers. Many of the entries for Bristol parishes and one or two other places are extracts only but half a dozen or so parishes are included down to 1875. From 1876-1926 only marriages for Great Rissington are indexed. Roe’s slips were typed up by the GSU in 1958.

Yorkshire – all of the indexing for Yorkshire was done by Norman Hindsley before he emigrated to Calgary in Canada.

Since Boyd’s death a number of other genealogists and family history societies have indexed marriages in their own counties by using unpublished original as well transcribed registers but his amazing pioneering work is still one of the largest and most impressive indexes of its kind.

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October Book of the Month – Society of Genealogists, a Century of Family History

The centenary celebrations of the Society of Genealogists continue apace in October, with the Centenary Lecture given by Patric Dickinson, President of the Society, at the Swedenborg Institute on the 18th of the month. In addition, we are delighted to offer our commemorative publication, Society of Genealogists – a century of family history, as our book of the month for October. This is a great opportunity to purchase this wonderful retrospective of the society’s first 100 years at a discounted price throughout the month of October. Our book of the month is available at £18 to members, and £20 to non-members from the society’s bookshop, and online at www.sog.org.uk

This offer ends on 31/10/11 and does not apply to trade orders.

Support the Society by becoming a Friend

Now that the Society of Genealogists has celebrated its centenary anniversary, attention is turning on securing its future. The Society now has many commercial competitors but our unique material enables us to stand out from the crowd. This uniqueness needs to be made readily available in order to retain and attract members.

One way of improving accessibility and awareness of the Society’s unique records and family history documents, is to make them available online. This is a mammoth task, as the family history document collection alone consists of over 950,000 documents that will need to be individually catalogued, scanned and uploaded.

With membership fees just about covering the daily running costs of the Society, there is little left over for updates like digitisation, new collections and binding.

This is why we launched the Society’s Friend initiative…

Become a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Friend and you will be helping to secure the Society’s future whilst also benefiting from exclusive Friend benefits, for example, dedicated Friends lectures and special visits to historic landmarks accompanied by trustees and senior staff.

Click here to download a Friends donation form.

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Revised opening hours for London Metropolitan Archives

LMA1 Revised opening hours for London Metropolitan ArchivesFamily History News

 

From Monday 14 November 2011 there will be changes to weekday openings at LMA.

imagesCA75ZAAB Revised opening hours for London Metropolitan Archives

 

LMA will close on Fridays, but there will be an extra late night opening on Wednesdays (as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays) until 7.30 pm.

 

 

 

The new opening times are:-

Monday  9:30am – 4:45pm
Tuesday 9:30am – 7:30pm
Wednesday       9:30am – 7:30pm
Thursday        9:30am – 7:30pm
Friday CLOSED

For Saturday openings  and information about visiting the London Metropolitan Archives

please check the LMA website

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One Million Merchant Navy Seamen records published online

One million 20th century Merchant Navy Seamen records are going online for family historians for the first time ever, as Britain approaches Merchant Navy Day on Saturday 3rd September. But when asked what the Merchant Navy was, 54% of the British population couldn’t answer correctly, even though almost 90% have heard of them. This is a sad fact considering the Merchant Navy was integral to putting Britain on the trade and industry world map and were named by Churchill as Britain’s ‘fourth service’. The revelation comes as findmypast.co.uk, a leading UK family history website, publishes these fascinating records online in partnership with The National Archives.

For the first time, you may be able to see what your ancestors looked like! Click Here to start start searching for free

Snapshots of mariners

Today’s launch sees records of crew members of UK merchant ships from 1918 to 1941 made available online, including rarely seen photos of the mariners. This is the first time that many relatives will be able to see what their seafaring ancestor looked like and also learn more about the people who made up Churchill’s ‘fourth service’.

 

The records provide fascinating details about each individual mariner. The most complete records have extremely detailed descriptions, including hair and eye colour, height, and distinguishing marks such as tattoos. In one case, Ordinary Seaman Henry Duncan Abbot from Dundee was listed as having a Chinese death head tattoo with the inscription “Death is Glory” on his right forearm – perhaps not so ordinary after all.

The shocking gap in Britain’s general knowledge is highest amongst the younger generation – just 26% of those aged under 35 know what the Merchant Navy is, compared to a wiser 64% of over 55s. Many will therefore be surprised to learn that the Merchant Navy consists of all seagoing UK vessels with commercial interests and their crews.

So it may be a shock to many that at various points in the last millennium, Britain had the largest merchant fleet in the world. The workforce on these vessels was a casual, ‘jobbing workforce’ so in any one year as many as 1.5 million people could be employed in the Merchant Navy, meaning many people are likely to find ancestors in these records. In the popular BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are?, David Suchet and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen both discovered ancestors who had been in the Merchant Navy.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, comments: “This is the first time the UK Merchant Navy Seamen records, with their fascinating images of the mariners, have been made available online. Many people aren’t sure what the Merchant Navy is, even though a large proportion of the UK population will have Merchant Navy seamen in their ancestry. Hopefully these records will help fill the gaps and people will enjoy learning about what life was like for the brave, seafaring merchants who helped the island nation of Britain prosper.”

A floating United Nations

The Merchant Navy Seamen records reveal the diverse crews that manned vessels ranging from cargo liners to passenger ferries to luxury cruise ships, working in a variety of professions and industries through some of the most vital moments in British history.

The term ‘floating United Nations’ has often been linked to the Merchant Navy and these records go further to support this idea. As high as 70% of ships’ crews were made up of international seamen from countries such as the West Indies, Scandinavia and Japan. These records hold details, and in many cases photographs, of these multi-national mariners.

Ship shape and women’s fashion

The Merchant Navy has been in existence for a significant period of British history, owing much of its growth to British imperial expansion. One of the most notable observations from the records is that women were prevalent on the ships. One example is Doris Abbey from Liverpool, a 5’4” Manicurist with hazel eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion – perhaps she joined the Merchant Navy to make sure the mariners’ nails were kept ship shape!

Janet Dempsey, Marine and Maritime Record Specialist at The National Archives comments: The Merchant Navy Seamen records cover a very significant era in nautical history commencing at the very peak of the popularity of ocean travel, in the time of the great ocean liners, when overseas tourism meant taking to the seas. The years that followed saw the end of this period of prosperity, and the start of the Great Depression. For mariners this was a time when work on board was hard to get, and many men were forced to take other work between voyages to make ends meet.  These newly digitised records make a fascinating social record as well as a valuable family history resource.”

Young hands on deck

At this time, many young mariners were operational at sea and a number of them can be found in the records. One young seaman, Allison Robinson Saville, was a 14 year old boy who was born in Hull in 1904. As Cabin Boy, the lowest ranking male employee, his role would have been to wait on the officers and passengers of the ship, and run errands for the ship’s Captain.

 

Remembering

Though these records do not cover the war time period, the Merchant Navy supported the Royal Navy during times of conflict, including WW1 and WW2. During these wars the Merchant Navy suffered heavy losses from German U-boat attacks. Official recognition of the sacrifices made by merchant seamen throughout history has taken place every 3rd September, with the Annual Merchant Navy Parade and Reunion taking place in Trinity Gardens, Tower Bridge on the closest Sunday, this year Sunday 4th September.

 

The Merchant Navy Seamen records are the only set of their kind available online and have been published in association with The National Archives. The records show that the seamen who made up the Merchant Navy not only came from the UK, but from every continent, with large numbers from across English-speaking world (notably the Maritime provinces of Canada), from the West Indies and Sierra Leone, and from Scandinavia, Somaliland, China and Japan. There are even some seamen from landlocked Switzerland.

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