Data updates Archives


Did your ancestor work on a lifeboat?

If so there may be a reference to him/her in a new family history resource on the Members’ Area of the Society of Genealogists website.

Lifeboat gallantry Did your ancestor work on a lifeboat?The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was formed in 1824 and since then over 2,400 gold, silver and (since 1917) bronze medals have been awarded for gallantry in saving lives from shipwrecks. The book “Lifeboat Gallantry” edited by Barry COX and published by Spink in 1998 provides the first complete list of all such medals to be published, together with details of the acts of heroism involved – incredible feats of endurance and seamanship in the face of adversity.

A copy of the book is held in the Society’s library (shelfmark MED/68) and 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 and a free basic search can be made here.

If a visit to the library is not possible a photocopy can be ordered through the Society’s Search and Copy Service

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Was your ancestor a Baptist?

If so ybaptists Was your ancestor a Baptist?ou may find information about them in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library, which holds registers and gravestone inscriptions from many Baptist chapels as well as publications such as the Baptists’ Handbook. The Society has also published a book on how to trace your Baptist ancestry.

Recently however a new resource has been  added to the Members’ Area of the Society’s website to help you in your quest. This lists several thousand births, marriages and deaths occurring in the Baptists’ Magazine from the 18th and 19th centuries.

A significant number of the entries relate to Baptist ministers, deacons and their families, and many women are listed. Some of the entries are particularly useful genealogically eg. Edward Foster’s father and grandfather are shown, together with the year in which they were born. Some of the entries do not appear in the Baptist registers deposited at the National Archives (class RG4), so this may be the only record of a vital event.

Each entry gives a reference to the year of the Baptist Magazine (BM) in which the notice appears. Sometimes (but frustratingly not always) the page number is also given. A complete set of the Baptist Magazine for 1809 – 1890 (except 1856) is held at Spurgeon’s College in South London. The Angus Library and Dr Williams Library also have good coverage of the title.

To search the Baptists’ Magazine index go to the Members’ Area. A basic name search is free but to view the record you will need to be a member.

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Was your ancestor in the British Army?

If so the Society of Genealogists’  family history library may contain details about his time in service. Our collection includes copies of Soldiers’ documents from 1760-1900, a run of the Army Lists from 1740 onwards, many records from the First World War and a good collection of regimental histories to shed background information on what his regiment was doing.

Now the Society’s Members Area has added a new resource to help you in your family history research. Member Nicholas Newington-Irving has gone through the Society’s library collections noting references to Military people mentioned in Journals, local and family histories etc.

The resulting index only includes biographical articles relating to individual soldiers (therefore the contents of works such as the army lists are not included) but it may lead you to information you would not otherwise have found. It relates primarily, but not exclusively, to commissioned officers in the British Army and the pre 1947 Indian Army.

The shelf mark for each item is given but if a visit to the library is not possible a photocopy of the article can be ordered through the Society’s ‘Search and Copy’ service.

A free basic search in the index can be made by going to the Members’ Area and entering the surname you are interested in into the ‘Quick search’ box. To view the full reference you will need to be a member of the Society.

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Find your ancestors in the 17th century

The Society of Genealogists’ family history library has a large number of resources to help you find your 17th century ancestors.

The protestation oath returns of 1642 are one such type of record. The protestation was an oath of allegiance to the King and the established church. A bill was passed in Parliament in July 1641 requiring those over the age of 18 (normally only men) to sign the protestation, and no one was allowed to hold office in the church or the state unless they did so.

A letter was sent by the Speaker of the House of Commons to the Sheriffs of each county, instructing them and the Justices of the Peace to take the protestation. The incumbents of each parish then read it to their parishioners who were also asked to take the oath. This took place in February and March 1641/2, after which the returns were sent back to Parliament.

The 1642 Protestation Oath Return for the city of Coventry has recently been added to the Members’ Area of the Society’s website. The return (which also includes some hamlets and villages surrounding the city) lists 1451 men over the age of 18. At the end are the names of those who have not taken the oath, including two men identified as Papists.

The original returns are kept in the House of Lords Record Office and the Society would like to extend their thanks to Eben W Graves of Norwalk, Connecticut for allowing his transcript to be placed on the Members’ Area.

The Society’s library also contains returns for many other parts of the country.

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Members’ Area update – Coleman’s catalogues index

A  new family history resource has recently been added to the Members’ Area of the Society’s website. James Coleman was an heraldic and genealogical bookseller and publisher in London in the second half of the 19th century. As a second hand dealer he sold marriage settlements, wills, rent rolls, peerage claims, private and local Acts of Parliament, appeal cases, pedigrees, deeds, autograph letters, maps and so on as well as new and second hand books on heraldry, topography and biography.

His catalogues give brief details of the items for sale, and the Society has in its library bound copies of these catalogues from 1859-1911.

Colemans Catalogue1 234x300 Members’ Area update   Coleman’s catalogues index

A card index of nearly 50,000 names was compiled by Brigadier-General Alfred Cavendish (1859-1943) in 1936, giving the volume and catalogue number for the item where that person was mentioned. It was this index that was digitised, and additional information added from the catalogue entry regarding date, year and type of document. Mr L A Muriel typed up the original card index and additional detail.

Although the information given about a document is often sparse, it can in some cases (eg. Devon wills) provide reference to a document that no longer exists.

As the documents were sold on the open market, no information is available on their current whereabouts, if they have survived.

A free basic search of the Coleman’s catalogue index can be carried out on the Society’s Members Area. However to view the full entry you will need to be a member.

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