Archive for 2012


The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012

Well, another eventful show at Olympia has been a great success for the Society of Genealogists. I’m glad to say The Society remains integral to the event having continued our partnership with the new owners BBC Bristol Magazines (now Immediate Media). New owners mean new features and tweaks to the event while retaining its essential personality and ethos.

 

Who Do You Think You Are Live 2 2012 thumb The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012

The new colour scheme with the dayglo pink carpet was a bit dazzling to the eyes but more importantly expansion into further parts of the upstairs gallery and a subtle readjustment to the table plan meant significantly wider aisles and more space to walk about. Attendance figures were slightly up on 2011, which is remarkable considering the economy. The show continues to try to strike a balance to provide attractions for the beginner and the more advanced genealogists. As well as using our own newly designed stand to recruit new members, promote the Society and sell our products, the SoG organises all the talks and presentations in the Show Studios (note another change of name) and of course provides remarkable expert consultations and help to the hordes who queue for answers to their questions upstairs in the gallery. Queue for Ask the Experts at Who Do You Think You Are Live thumb The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012The Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show itself is a key area within the vast space that is Olympia National Hall and the exhibitors from local societies, archives and smaller venues still have a distinct space for themselves independent of the more commercial companies. This means that the Society’s name is well represented on banners and signs all around the show, and the event remains the best place for us to recruit and sign up lots of new members. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who helps us to do this – staff and volunteers alike. You are an astonishing team.Who Do You Think You Are Live Olympia 2012 3 thumb The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012

 

The Celebrity Theatre was as popular as ever and I hear (though of course I was far too busy to go myself wlEmoticon smile The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012) that Emilia Fox’s account of her experiences as a participant in the Who Do You Think You Are? TV show was very moving. The audience was delighted that she was joined on stage by her Father Edward Fox and her mother Joanna David was in the audience. I, however, was more delighted that some of the SoG talks in the Theatre afterwards attracted even more attendees than the celebrities with some of our talks having people sitting on the floor at the back of the theatre as ALL the seats were taken. It was also a great move to have tables and chairs outside the gallery studios so you could sit or stand outside to listen in if the studio itself was full. I think some of the quiet moments on the main floor during the show are attributable to the fact that up to about 600 people on average were attending the talks each session.Else Churchill speaking at Who Do You Think You Are LIve 2012 thumb The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 I have to thank all our speakers who gave their time and expertise freely – especially those who travelled from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Europe, Israel, USA and Canada to be with us. The programme was varied and many of the handouts and slides from the presentations will be found free of charge on the SoG website show pages www.sog.org.uk . Video clips from some of the talks will also appear on the Who Do You Think You Are? Live website.

New features at the show include a much larger military history and memorabilia area, photo dating booths and a fascinating section on ancestral trades, crafts and occupations with displays from rural museums. If you had nurses, postmen or coal miners in your family (like me) there was a lot to look at. Ancillary services and products from archival supplies, photographic scanning and producers of software and charts were doing a roaring trade as usual. This year Ancestry.co.uk’s stands were large white and elegant and very busy. The staff from Findmypast.co.uk were loud and funny with excellent costumes. Both stands had free access to databases and lots of fascinating presentations. TV Expert Eric Knowles was kept busy giving personal Antiques Roadshow consultations for those who bought their family heirlooms along and I wandered longingly past the Moorcroft pottery stand several times trying to convince myself to invest in some beautiful objects (and the Moorcroft stall holders did very well I am told – though sadly not from me in the end). The gourmet sausage stand was excellent and busy as usual but the show’s traditional Italian ice cream stand was sorely missed.

Readers may be aware that the Society of Genealogists is very active in the Social Networking world of Twitter, Facebook and Blogs. This year we encouraged Social Networkers to make ourselves public and meet up and 50 of us wore our colourful “Follow Me” best-in-show tweeter and blogger rosettes all weekend. Many of us tweeted live throughout the show and there are a huge number of bloggers who mentioned the show and gave daily round ups. Social Networking was the focus of the keynote talk from My Heritage’s Lawrence Harris and expert panel contributors included Internet guru Peter Christian FSG, Google experts Dan Lynch and Lisa Louise Cooke, and D Josh Taylor the new genealogy expert for Findmypast’s American venture. Then nearby Hilton Hotel and Pizza express at Olympia remain focal meeting places (as does the Hand and Flower Pub opposite) and I was delighted to attend receptions generously hosted by Findmypast and the US Association of Professional Genealogists [APG] (though I have to admit I was an accidental gate crasher on the latter but graciously welcomed by their President Kenyatta D. Berry.) It was most amusing to witness SoG Trustee Nick Barratt’s passion for Liverpool football club as friends, volunteers and some SoG Trustees retired to the pub on Sunday after we had dismantled and pack off home all the SoG stand at the end of the show). Lisa Louise Cooke at Who Do You Think You Are Live 2012 thumb The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? Live is THE place to go to hear and meet the experts and see what’s coming up in our world. SoG Trustee Nick Barratt and SoG Fellow Peter Christian both looked into their crystal balls and predicted an interesting slant on how mobile technology, more open data and greater collaboration will be game changers (though I would point out that what is now call “crowd sourcing” has been going on for years within the genealogical community as volunteer projects). I look forward to investigating if new genealogy portals like Mocavo really will enhance my online genealogy searching experience. I was impressed with some of the smaller niche source data sites that were exhibiting their wares – especially Peter McCracken’s Shipindex.org that led me to links about a ship that transported my 2X Great Uncle to Tasmania in the 1840s.

As you would expect gossip and rumour flourish at any event. I was delighted that our friend (and recipient of the SoG’s Prince Michael of Kent Award for services to genealogy), Wall to Wall TV’s Chief Exec, Alex Graham could confirm that a new 10 episode series of the UK Who Do You Think You Are? Show is currently being filmed and another has been commissioned, thus scotching rumours of its demise. Who Do You Think You Are? Live itself continues to flourish and has announced the date of the next show on 22-24 Feb 2013. They have plans for a very exciting future in partnership with the Society of Genealogists – which I guess means a lot of hard work for all of us in the future.

Else Churchill

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1.2 million Irish Petty Session Records Now Searchable Online on Findmypast.ie

 

Drunk in charge of an ass and cart, tippling in a sheebeen and the disturbance of a divine service: 1.2 million Irish Petty Session Records now searchable online

 

Today, Irish family history website www.findmypast.ie launched online for the first time the Petty Sessions order books (1850-1910), one of the greatest untapped resources for those tracing their Irish roots.

· Another 15 million cases are to follow throughout 2012

· One of the great untapped resources for researching your family history

· Drunkenness the most common offence – accounting for one third of cases

 

The original Petty Sessions records, held at the National Archives of Ireland, were scanned by Family Search and have now been transcribed and made fully searchable by findmypast.ie. They cover all types of cases, from allowing trespass of cattle to being drunk in charge of an ass and cart. These were the lowest courts in the country who dealt with the vast bulk of legal cases, both civil and criminal. This first batch of entries contains details of 1.2 million cases, with most records giving comprehensive details of the case including: name of complainant, name of defendant, names of witnesses, cause of complaint, details of the judgement, details of a fine if any, and details of a sentence passed down if any. Another 15 million cases are to follow throughout 2012.

This first batch of records is particularly useful for areas of the country for which family history records are notoriously sparse such as Connaught and Donegal.

The reasons for cases being brought before the Petty Sessions Court are incredibly varied, but unsurprisingly the most common offence was drunkenness, which accounted for over a third of all cases. The top five offences tried before the courts were:

1. Drunkenness – 33%

2. Revenue/Tax offences – 21%

3. Assault – 16%

4. Local acts of nuisance – 5%

5. Destruction of property – 4%

The nature of these cases was significantly different from those in England.  Figures show that the rate of conviction for drunkenness was three times greater, four times greater for tax offences, 65% higher for assault, and twice as likely for “malicious and wilful destruction of property” than that of our nearest neighbours.1

The records are full of the minor incidents which are representative of the vast majority of cases which were brought before the Resident Magistrates. For example, we have Michael Downey of Athlone, Co. Westmeath who was charged with being “drunk while in charge of an ass and cart in a public area”, Pat Curley of Cloonakilla, Co. Westmeath who was charged with causing “malicious injury to a bicycle”, the five men and women all convicted of “tippling in a sheebeen” (drinking in an unlicensed premises) on Queen Street, Athlone and given fines of between £1 and £5 or the five men who were charged with disturbing the Reverend J.W. Davidson as he was “ministering a divine service” in Bundoran, Co.Donegal.

 

Brian Donovan, Director of findmypast.ie, comments: “These court records open up a unique window into Irish society in the 19th century. Most families interacted with the law in one way or another, being perpetrators or victims of petty crime, resolving civil disputes, to applying for a dog licence. The records are full of the trauma and tragedy of local life, as family members squabbled, shop keepers recovered debt, and the police imposed order. These records help fulfil our mission to provide more than just names and dates, to get to the stories of our ancestors’ lives.”

ENDS

Notes

1. British Parliamentary Papers (1864)

 

For further media information, please contact:

Ross Weldon

findmypast.ie

Unit 1, Trinity Enterprise and Technology Campus,

Pearse Street,

Dublin 2

Ireland

ross.weldon@findmypast.ie

+353 1 671 0338

 

ABOUT findmypast.ie

Findmypast.ie is the world’s most comprehensive Irish family history website, providing easy-to-search, online access to some of the most significant Irish records that have ever been made available. This new site is a joint venture between two experts in the field: findmypast.co.uk, one of the leading family history websites and part of the brightsolid family, while Eneclann is an award-winning Trinity College Campus Company specialising in genealogical and historical research and the publication of historical records.

Based in Dublin, findmypast.ie has a dedicated team committed to providing the best experience possible when researching Irish family history.

www.findmypast.ie

 

 

 

 

NEW MERCHANT SEAMEN RECORDS ONLINE and FREE at the Society of Genealogists

 

Leading family history website www.findmypast.co.uk has today released online for the first time Merchant Seamen records from the 19th century in association with The National Archives of the United Kingdom.

 

* First time that 19th century merchant navy records are available online

* UK merchant seamen records from two centuries now searchable at findmypast.co.uk

 

359,000 records of individuals covering the years 1835-1857 have now been added to the website. Details contained within the records can vary, but can include name, age, place of birth, physical description, ship names and dates of voyages. Often this information can be given in the form of coded entries which can easily be deciphered using downloadable finding aids from The National Archives.

The records are taken from volumes held at The National Archives in series BT112, BT113, BT114, BT115, BT116 and BT120 and were created by central government to regulate the merchant shipping industry. As the series spans two decades, some individuals may appear in multiple series, making it possible for maritime historians or those with ancestors in the merchant navy, to trace a seaman’s service over time.

Janet Dempsey, Maritime Expert at The National Archives commented:

"These records are as significant to the social historian as they are to the family historian. No other group of working class men and women had the freedom of movement and ability to see the world as these 19th century mariners.

"This was the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen’s earliest attempts at keeping individuals records and resulted in four different registers over twenty two years. Although more of a challenge to work with than other family history sources, it can be very satisfying to decipher the codes and have your investigative efforts rewarded with sometimes surprisingly rich detail."

In 2011 findmypast.co.uk published Merchant Navy Seamen records from 1918-1941 in association with The National Archives, some of which include photographs.

Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk added: "The Merchant Navy Seamen records will be of great interest to family historians worldwide, as so many of us have generations of ancestors, who made their living at sea. These records will add more detail to our mental picture of their lives."

All the Merchant Navy Seamen records at findmypast.co.uk can be searched for free from the Education & Work section of the website. Transcripts and images can be viewed either with PayAsYouGo credits or a Full Subscription.

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Births, Deaths and Marriages is a new sitcom for BBC Radio 4 set in a Local Authority Register Office where the staff deal with the three greatest events in anybody’s life.

Written by and starring David Schneider (The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge), it features chief registrar Malcolm Fox who is a stickler for rules and would be willing to interrupt any wedding service if the width of the bride infringes health and safety. He’s unmarried but why does he need to be? He’s married thousands of women.

Alongside him are rival and divorcee Lorna who has been parachuted in from car parks to drag the office (and Malcolm) into the 21st century. To her marriage isn’t just about love and romance, it’s got to be about making a profit in our new age of austerity.

There’s also the ever spiky Mary, geeky Luke who’s worried he’ll end up like Malcolm one day while ditzy Anita may get her words and names mixed up occasionally but as the only parent in the office, she’s a mother to them all.

The episodes are being recorded in March and April – we will let you know when they are broadcast as soon as we find out

 

 

 

Free Tickets are available to be in the audience  for the recordings of the show from the BBC website

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My Dearest Husband – My Darling Little Woman

Much has been written about George Frederick Tudor Sherwood, esteemed genealogist and Founder Fellow of the Society of Genealogists. The role he played in the early years of the foundation of the Society is immeasurable, hosting its early meetings at his offices in the Strand and as the first Hon. Secretary, later Hon Treasurer and then Chairman of the Executive. He worked fantastically hard and was one of the pioneering agitating genealogists in the early years of the twentieth century. Centenary013 George Tudor Sherwood obit thumb Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.He died in 1958 aged 91 and his obituary in the Genealogists’ Magazine of that year is accompanied by a portrait photograph of a man with a reserved, almost diffident look. Many of the manuscript research notes dispersed within the Society’s Document Collection are annotated and numbered in Sherwood’s distinctive hand and originated largely from his professional genealogical practice.

Amongst the special collections of the Society of Genealogists can be found the single box of the Sherwood collection comprising notes on his own family history in Berkshire and Kent. The collection also contains correspondence, accounts and other family ephemera. There are photocopies of the touching letters from Sherwood’s son Ralph, Private in the 2/25th Cyclist and 3rd Reserve Battalion regarding his training and service in the First World. The originals of these letters were deposited with the Imperial War Museum in 2000. The collection description gives a rather terse account of a second set of letters in the files – namely “Correspondence between George and Sophia Sherwood (nee Gibbs) covering their courtship, marriage and George Sherwood’s work as a genealogist amongst other subjects”

Sherwood letter My Dear Little Woman2 Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.

The earliest letter is dated Monday 11 March 1889 and addressed to “My Dear Miss Gibbs” in which the 22 year old George, just beginning his genealogical career, arranges to meet 26 year old Sophia at Walham Green Station the next Wednesday assuring her

“I could have discovered the house without the slightest difficulty as I made a special point of finding out its exact position when at the British Museum today. Had it been otherwise could you imagine for a moment that the trouble would have been anything but a pleasure? My cold is, on account of your good wishes, fast disappearing, in fact I feel quite robust in anticipation of meeting you … yours ever George F Tudor Sherwood”Sherwood letter My Darling Husband thumb Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.

The couple married later that year. They are kept apart much in life as George travelled extensively about the country for his business to look at records held in churches, libraries and local probate courts. He writes from Leicester, Nottingham, Canterbury and elsewhere often staying in local hotels. In one six month period during 1897, for instance, he visited Winchester, Wells, Andover, St Asaph and Peterborough. He writes of his unsuccessful searches.

“after a stiff day’s work at the Probate Registry – 10 to 5 – I have just finished tea – chop, mince pie and coffee – and a pipe. A cold sleety, windy night … With another day’s work I shall finish, but I am afraid in regard to Hadden the search will not give us the information we want …

… How is my little woman getting on? I hope tomorrow evening to get a train that will land me home not later than 10. “

 

Sherwood letter Christmas 1891 thumb Love in the Archives    The love letters of George and Sophia Sherwood and a genealogical romance.George and Sophia fall into the tradition of exchanging Christmas and Valentines letter each year. The envelope of the 1891 Christmas letter to Sophia is charmingly decorated with doodled heart shape shields. On the night before Valentine’s day in 1890 George writes

“My darling little woman

As you have just requested me to come to bed shortly in such beseeching tones and you think I might make it half past eleven, also taking into consideration that the little woman never has her own way, your valentine’s letter must of necessity be a short one. Need I say that the wish dearest to my heart is that we may be no less happy than we are now, each successive year bringing with it its own valentine in the shape of mutual affection, heath and peace of mind? For in the first place mutual affection is the talisman which in great measure ensures the last named, carrying with it toleration of each other’s failings and smoothing most of the difficulties in the path of life”

Several of George’s letters ask Sophia to forgive his failings. Their early years were a struggle together. There doesn’t seem to be much money in the life of a record agent. Debts are paid by borrowing from family and dipping into Sophia’s box. She sends him the key at one point imploring him to take the locket within. Separated frequently, they do miss each other terribly. Each spends time with their own aging parents and family and George is with his father, “the Guv” when he dies. In 1905 George writes from Somerset House “Of course I do miss you. I have been cold in bed at nights and slept badly”. George tries to keep house while Sophia herself is away but doesn’t seem to be very successful at keeping down the dirt or the mess of his working life and documents scattered around. By 1911 George has taken his office in the Strand where he is to host the Society’s inaugural meeting and presumably takes some of his working life out of what was to become the family home at 50 Beecroft Road, Brockley. However his rooms in the Strand were pretty soon overwhelmed by the growing collections of the Society of Genealogists that were housed there until 1914. George was editor of the Pedigree Register from 1907 “for authenticated genealogies and family history” and wrote extensively on genealogical matters and his genealogical business was finally taking off as he actively campaigned for greater access to public records.

The 1911 Census shows George and Sophia together at Beecroft Road with their 5 children, having been married 21 years. Their only son Ralph aged 19 is working with his father as a record agent. His sister May Sophia aged 20 is a pupil teacher. Presumably daughters Constance (16), Katherine (14) and Barbara (11) are still at school.

This happy marriage lasted 38 years until Sophia’s death in 1927 aged 64. By this time George was playing a prominent role at the Society of Genealogists as its “consummate administrator” and devoting much of his time to the development of the Society’s Great Card Index and D-Manuscripts (miscellaneous manuscript research notes arranged by surname, now known as the Document Collection). The letters between Sophia and George are just part of the Sherwood personal and genealogical papers found in one of the Society’s 350 Special Collections of family papers and genealogical research, and have been touched on only briefly in this article. They deserve to be read fully and transcribed as a personal history. The papers are, however, typical of what may be found in the Society of Genealogists’ Special Collections which are packed with personal papers, diaries, letters and photographs as well as pedigrees and genealogical notes.

Aged 62 George Sherwood met his 2nd wife Mrs May Ethel McIntyre nee Trinder at the Society. She was about the same age as his daughter May and had been a member herself since 1925 and secretary to one of the early Fellows. They married in 1929. George died in 1958 and an obituary appears in the Genealogists’ Magazine. Mrs May Sherwood returned to work for the Society as Archivist after her husband’s death and retired in 1966. Her own obituary in the Genealogists’ Magazine in 1975 shows George had been lucky again with his choice of partner as she was remembered for “the warm and friendly interest she took in everyone with whom she came in contact with and her genuine desire to help others with their problems. Added to this, her lively nature and robust sense of humour made her a most enjoyable companion at all times”. George and May were both profoundly devoted to the Society of Genealogists.

 

 

Sources

Society of Genealogists – Sherwood Collection

1911 Census

Family Matters. A History of Genealogy by Michael Sharpe, 2011

Society of Genealogists: A Century of Family History, Else Churchill, Nicholas Newington Irving and Roy Stockdill – eds, 2011.

 

 

Else Churchill

Valentines Day 2012.

 

 

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