Family History News Archives


Society of Genealogists Wins Family History Award

In commemoration of its 100th Anniversary the Society of Genealogists has been awarded the Julian Bickersteth Memorial Medal by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies. The award is made to persons or organisations who have made notable and exemplary contributions to genealogy and  family history studies in the judgement of and at the discretion of the Institute’s Trustees .


Colin Allen Chairman of The Society of Genealogists accepts the Bickersteth Memorial Medal from 1 Society of Genealogists Wins Family History AwardSociety Chairman Colin Allen received the award on behalf of the Society  from Dr Richard Baker (Principal of the IHGS) and the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Lytton (President of the IHGS) at a ceremony in Canterbury on 23 July.

 

Kenneth Julian Faithful Bickersteth was born at Ripon on the 5th July 1885, the third son of the late Dr Samuel Bickersteth. Educated at Rugby, Christchurch, Oxford and Wells Theological College, Julian was ordained in 1909. He came to Canterbury as Archdeacon of Maidstone in 1943, having had a long career in education, both in England and Australia. He died on 16th October 1962, having spent his life “doing good just by being what he was….”, as was said by one well qualified to judgeCollin Allen Chairman of the Society of Genealogists accepts the Bickersteth Medal thumb Society of Genealogists Wins Family History Award.

Julian Bickersteth’s interest in education and the young never waned and it was from these very real promptings that his idea for The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies arose as a means of investigating the history and structure of family life, which he rightly looked upon as forming the foundation of Christian civilisation. He left the realisation of his aims to Cecil Humphery-Smith, his godson, whom he had invited to form a school for family history studies in 1957. An exhibition of artefacts of family life was brought to Canterbury in 1960 and Julian lived to see the foundation of the Institute in Northgate in February 1961.  In 1964, the Institute was registered as an independent charitable Trust and Cecil Humphery- Smith provided funds so that the Trustees could make an appropriate annual award in memory of the man who was the inspiration and sponsor of the Institute, Julian Bickersteth,

 

 

 

 

medal2 thumb1 Society of Genealogists Wins Family History AwardThe Medal, designed by the donor in the form of a medieval armorial seal, has the arms of Bickersteth flanked by the Institute’s heraldic badge on the face and an heroic garland of oak leaves surrounding the recipient’s name on the reverse. It is cast from the original die in gilded silver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Institute’s Trustees have awarded the Julian Bickersteth Memorial Medal to the following individuals at dinner or luncheon parties held in Canterbury, in London and elsewhere.

Sir Anthony Richard Wagner, KCB, KCVO
John Philip Brooke-Little, CVO
Dr Peter Laslett and Dr E.A. Wrigley
Professor Robert Cecil Gale
Frederick Humphery-Smith, MBE
Donald John Steel
Dr William Urry
Charles Wilfred Scott-Giles, OBE
The Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Francis W. Steer
Dr F.G. (Derick) Emmison, MBE
Sir Andrew Noble, Baronet, KCMG
Lieutenant Colonel Iain Spencer Swinnerton, TD
Leon Jéquier
Major Francis Jones, CVO
Peter C. Bartrum
Sir Colin Cole, KCB, KCVO
Sir Iain Moncrieffe of that Ilk, CVO, QC
Dr Mark Fitch, CBE
G.D. Squibb, MVO, QC
Jiri Louda
George Redmonds
The Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal, KG, GCVO, CB, CBE, MC, FSA    Cecil R.J. Humphery-Smith
Dr Bruno B. Heim, Archbishop of Xanthus
Roger Harmignies
Dr Arlene Eakle
The Hon. Sir George Bellew, KCB, KCVO
Michael Maclagan Esq., CVO
Terrick Fitzhugh
Szabolcs de Vajay
Dr Michael P. Siddons
Jeremy S.W. Gibson
Dr Jean-Claude Loutsch
The Genealogical Society of Utah
Brian Frith Esq., MBE
The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, CB, OBE, MC, FSA
Gerard Joseph Brault
Clifford Reginald Webb
John Archibald Goodall
GENUKI
Robert Douglas Watt OStJ., MA, FHSC, FHS
Professor David George Hey, MA, PhD
Baron Hervé Pinoteau
Dr Nick Barratt

biographical details of recipients of the award up to 2001 can be found on the GENUKI pages http://www.genuki.org.uk/org/awards/bickersteth/recipients.pdf

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Family Tree Maker Software for Beginner & Advanced Users: 30 June 2012

10:30am-1pm – Family Tree Maker Software for Beginners
This workshop will cover the foundation essentials needed to understand the program and is suitable for beginners. The separate afternoon advanced course runs from 2-5pm. It is preferable that those taking the advanced afternoon course, also take Mike’s morning course  (those that are familiar with the basics, can take this as a refresher).

Taught by Mike Bollinger, each course costs  £17.50/£14.00 (SoG members) and must be pre-booked and pre-paid. Visit our online shop or telephone 020 7553 3290. Have a question? email events department.

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Wills, Wills, Wills

Wills are a fantastic resources for any family historian and it’s great news to hear of more being made readily available.

Ancestry.co.uk have been filling in some of the earlier gaps in its coverage of the post 1858 will indexes for England and Wales and we hear that these indexes are to be made free to view for the next week until 9th July.

We’ve been playing about with Ancestry’s new dataset of London wills 1528-1858 and trying to establish exactly what it contains. Comparison with various other indexes and sources and the site itself suggests these are the original wills  from those church courts whose records were formerly lodged at Guildhall and are now at London Metropolitan Archives (Commissary  and Archdeaconry of London) along with those from the Consistory of London and Archdeaconry of Middlesex which were always a LMA.

The collection does not, at present, include any testamentary records which might be found amongst the old Register Copy Wills or in the Will Act Books nor in the Administrations of those who died intestate. So don’t be beguiled into thinking these are the only probate records for Londoners.  As Ancestry’s site says there are still other records to check back at LMA.  It’s a fantastic start and the images of the documents it has are excellent. BUT you should still check all of the published indexes to the various London courts whether they be published by the British Record Society or on other websites.

The Society of Genealogists library has free access to Ancestry.co.uk as well as Findmypast and British Origins which also have useful indexes to wills for the London area. The SoG’s library of books and documents contains many abstracts and copies of London wills and some of these are indexed amongst the SoG data on MySoG. The Society has all of the manuscripts, printed and published indexes available for the church courts that governed wills including those for London  and Westminster. Note also that many Londoners’ wills were probated in the highest church court known as the Prerogative Court of Canterbury which has records at The National Archives. These indexed on TNA’s Documents Online webbsite which is also free to view at the Society of Genealogists.

For more information on using wills see the SoG free information leaflet on Wills.

Remember where there’s a will there’s a genealogist

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Findmypast.co.uk have released a fabulous family history resource –  the index and images of  WO96 militia records for 1806-1915. The Findmypast wesbite is available for free at the Society of Genealogists Library

 

The WO 96 Militia Records are a valuable resources for genealogy research-

  • Over half a million records covering 100 years of the militia – the forerunner of The British Territorial Army – published online
  • Records provide unique descriptions of what your ancestors actually looked like
  • Everyday workers including butchers and bakers fighting for their country
  • The British militia was recruited from all over the world

Leading family history website, findmypast.co.uk has published the records of over half a million men who served in the British militia, the precursor to the UK’s Territorial Army. The Militia Service Records, covering 1806 to 1915, have been made available online for the first time to coincide with British Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

The records colourfully portray what the British militia looked like, detailing the height, weight, chest size, complexion, eye colour, hair colour and distinctive marks of each recruit. Arthur Wilson’s distinguishing marks included an acrobat and dots tattooed on his left forearm. Similarly, Albert Smith, born in India, was recorded as having teeth that were ‘defective but enough for mastication’.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk comments: “These records provide rich insight into our past and show how the everyday man, such as your local shopkeeper, found himself fighting for his country. In the absence of photographs, these records can help you imagine what your ancestors looked like, containing details which are largely unavailable elsewhere. Our easy to use website means you can unearth even more fascinating and detailed information about your ancestors at the click of a mouse.”

Like today’s Territorial Army, the militia was made up of men who held everyday jobs, but took part in military exercises and on occasions fought for their country. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, these typically included shoemakers, woodchoppers, butchers, bakers, coal miners and millers.

Charles Godfrey, for example, was a butcher for a Mr Debron in Oxford. Born in the Parish of Botley, Berkshire, Godfrey volunteered for the militia on 25th July 1887 aged 18. Charles served with the 3rd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment and was recorded as being five feet four inches tall with steel grey eyes. 

 

William Spencer, Principal Military Records Specialist at The National Archives, commented: “It took a certain kind of individual to leave a day job as a blacksmith, labourer or barman and enlist as a part time soldier in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the majority never left British shores, many saw active service with the regular army in places such as South Africa during the Second Boer War. Like its modern equivalent, the Territorial Army, the pre-WWI militia offered a way for former soldiers to continue serving their country and civilians a chance to leave humdrum jobs, earn extra money and enjoy the comradeship such services had to offer.”

The Militia Service Records are the only set of their kind available online and have been published in association with The National Archives and in partnership with FamilySearch. The records show that the soldiers who made up the militia during that period hailed not only from the UK itself, but also from around the world. Some recruits had been born in Italy, Ceylon, South Africa and even as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

David Rencher, Chief Genealogy Officer at FamilySearch added: “The publication of the Militia Service Records fills another critical gap in the family historian’s toolkit. The digitisation and indexing of this rich collection will make it easy to find the regiment an ancestor served with and also when and where he was born. Family historians will quickly realise the value of this information, particularly when the record of an ancestor’s birth has been elusive or impossible to find elsewhere.”

ENDS 

For further information or examples of the records, please contact:

Amy Sell

amy.sell@findmypast.co.uk

or

Lauren Hunt-Morgan

0207 566 9729

laurenhm@lansons.com

 

Notes to editors

Armed Forces Day

The release coincides with Armed Forces Day which is taking place on Saturday, 25 June 2011.

The day aims to raise public awareness of the contribution made to our country by those who serve and have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, It also gives the nation an opportunity to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families and from veterans to cadets. In 2011 the National Event will be held in Edinburgh, but there are many more events up and down the country being held in support of Armed Forces Day.

 

Full list of places of birth as recorded in the Militia Service Records:

Africa

Australia

Canada

Channel Islands

East Indies

England

Spain

France

Germany

Gibraltar

Greece

India

Isle of Man

Ireland

Italy

Ceylon

Malta

New Zealand

Russia

South America

Scotland

At sea

West Indies

Wales

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The first meeting of The National Archives User Advisory Group (TNA UAG) took place on Wednesday 22 June. Draft terms of reference were circulated and these are under discussion. The draft terms of reference have already been published and are for comment on the Society of Genealogists blog  and will presumably be available online through TNA when they are formally accepted.

The names and contact information for each representative will be published on the TNA UAG web pages  along with minutes and papers of the group’s quarterly meetings. However all the representatives have undertaken to represent, feedback to and communicate the UAG’s activities – so here goes.

The meeting’s first agenda was pretty much a case of getting to know each other (though many already did – this is very much an off-shoot of the more informal monthly users’ forum though with more users from the Map and Large Document Room and academics.) Chaired jointly by Jeff James, Director of Operations and Services and Chris Mumby, Acting Director of Customer and Business Development the meeting was set in the context of TNA’s business plan for 2011-2015 (already published online). This is scary as it shows TNA’s 2014/5 spending allocation £9m below that for 2011/12. TNA has to produce a lot more for less though Jeff and Chris are very gung ho.

Feeling suitably subdued we then looked at a very dense document relating to proposals for a User Participation Strategy – which is a technical term apparently for volunteers’ projects. We saw how prospective projects were analysed for their benefit and potential to the business of the organisation. Having gone through this process eight proposals are to be carried forward including projects to create user generated catalogue descriptive content; digitisation of images for the Caribbean and other material from the Commonwealth Office pictures and conservation projects. Having decided on these projects TNA intends to bring the User Advisory Group in to discuss methodology and approach at this “strategic” level. Though as usual, TNA is establishing a “Board” to manage (or provide governance) for the various projects.

I was amused to see how this meeting clearly showed how a group of professional civil servants have seamlessly taken on board the wishes and whims of their new political masters as I can’t tell you how many times the phrases “fits in with the Big Society etc” were bandied at his point. But TNA has always had to be pragmatic and work in the political context it finds itself and I make no criticism of civil servants doing what civil servants have to do. But it can feel a bit “Yes Minister” at times.

We then learnt more about a project to digitise and accession digital images of a subset of the Home Guards records to act as a pilot for the full Home Guard collection of 4.6 million records. The decision to access only the digital images of these documents and not the originals has been somewhat controversial. There has been public consultation about the transfer of these and three other large Ministry of Defence Collections and much discussion at higher level to get to this point (I am also on the TNA Advisory Council and contributed to the MoD consultation paper in November 2010 on behalf of the Society of Genealogists and the British Genealogical Record Users Committee). But it’s down to TNA project managers to make sure TNA does this project properly. It has to ensure the digitisation is done by a commercial partner to the standards it and its customers require. The HG records for Durham have been chosen for the pilot as it’s a small enough collection, but representative of most of the records and potential problems that might arise. The User Advisory Group will get to look at these “closed” records and comment of how they might be used and what searchable fields of data should be captured. The fields proposed are:

Name – surname and forename(s), Date of birth, Area or County, Place of Birth where given and address.

Once UAG members see the documents we might have other suggestion to add such as occupation or battalion.

I remember this same process 10 years ago with the 1901 census and I know that whatever advice we give will be tempered against what the commercial partner will consider to be practical and commercially viable. So the Advisory User Group can advise but whether this advice is heeded. in the end will be down to TNA and its partners.

The meeting concluded with TNA giving some rushed but tantalising indications of Public Service developments – British Nationality Cards will be made more readily available, Work will continue to scan and make digitally available material from film. We hear there are plans for TNA to use web chats or instant messaging – presumably as part of the advice and help services. UCL’s collection of rare books will be hosted at TNA while it is being refurbished and it’s quite likely that the London LDF Family History Centre’s collection of films and computers will also be housed at TNA while the centre closes for a 9 month refurbishment plan.

Do look out for the formal minutes of the meeting when they are published by TNA http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/get-involved/user-advisory-group.htm

I’ll keep you posted about what we learn about the Home Guard records. The next meeting of The National Archives’ User Advisory Group will be on 6 September

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