Family History News Archives


Burke’s peerage updates in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library

Family historians with aristocratic ancestry will know how useful Burke’s Peerage can be as a finding aid. However the printed version can become dated very quickly as people mentioned in its pages have children, are married, divorced or die.

Society of Genealogists’ member Nicholas Newington-Irving has therefore produced 12 volumes of updates to the 1999 and 2003 editions of Burke’s Peerage that list over 57,000 births, deaths and marriages that have occurred between 1999 and 2010. The information has been gleaned from collections of newspaper cuttings in the possession of the compiler.

An online index to these updates has now been made available for the first time on the Society of Genealogists’ Members Area. This contains the surname and forename of the person concerned, together with a note of which volume and page number the updates can be found in. Non members can do a free name search here but it is necessary to become a member to view the full references.

This is just one of a growing number of family history resources to be found on the Society’s Members Area.

Tim Lawrence

Head of Library Services

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Devon wills in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library

Anyone researching their family history in Devon will regret the loss of much of the county’s probate material in the 2nd world war. However the Society of Genealogist’s family history library in London holds indexes and transcripts of a number of Devon wills that were made before the loss, and some of these have now been made available on the Members’ Area of the Society’s website.

The Fothergill collection is a typical example. It was compiled in the early 1900s by Gerald Fothergill (1870-1926), an eminent genealogist and historian who lived in London. It is not clear why he compiled abstracts of sundry Devon wills, but he evidently went to Exeter and Taunton to study and abstract them, since almost all were proved and kept in one or other of those places. The abstracts can be found in the Middle library and an online index can be searched here.

Another book at the Society lists wills and administrations proved or granted at the Peculiar Court of the Dean of Exeter, from the 1630s to 1857.  All the original probate copies of wills proved in this court were destroyed in 1942.  This list therefore presents (with a few exceptions) the only surviving evidence that well over a thousand Devon individuals did in fact leave wills or had their estates administered.

The jurisdiction of the Dean’s Court covered the parish of Braunton (north-west of Barnstaple) and the Cathedral Close.  The latter area seems not to have been an actual parish, but merely the area immediately around the cathedral in Exeter.  Many of those who lived in the Cathedral Close worked in or for the cathedral in some way. The index can be searched here.

A third work lists wills and administrations proved or granted at the Peculiar Court of the Vicars Choral of Exeter, from the 1630s to 1857.  How and why the singing men in the choir at Exeter Cathedral came to have their own court is not known. Woodbury, the only parish which came under their jurisdiction, is a large one, not far south-east of Exeter.  An average of about four wills/administrations per year were dealt with, though this varied depending upon the time period. The index can be searched here.

The Devon Wills Project is seeking to gather details of as many Devon wills as possible and the Society is grateful for their help in compiling these indexes..

Tim Lawrence

Head of Library Services

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Announcing “Start Your Family Tree Week”-  26 Dec 2010 – 1 Jan 2011

 The holiday season between Christmas and New Year is a great time to statr your family history. Families will have come together and the stories have come out.  Serious family historians will have time to use that new genealogical software and update their family trees.

Family history websites findmypast.co.uk and Genes Reunited are getting together to launch the first “Start you family tree week” in the UK.  From Boxing Day 2010 right through to New Year’s Day there’ll be special offers and activities available every day on both websites, including free getting started guides, printable charts, discounts, competitions, and lots more. This new initiative has the support of the Society of Genealogists and the Federation of Family History Societies. It is anticipated that further partners and websites will become involved, with the aim of getting more people of all ages to discover more about their family history over the Christmas period.

Look out for the “Start your Family History” week promotions on the SoG website   and newsblog  where the Society of Genealogists will make available  downloadable pdfs of our 10 tips for starting your family history, a 4 generation pedigree chart and updated Start your Family History Information leaflet

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager of findmypast.co.uk commented: “We know from our customer surveys that Boxing Day is one of the most popular days of the year for people to research their family history. With the family gathered around for the festivities, it’s the perfect time to quiz the older generations on what they remember about the family, and get the youngsters inspired too about this rewarding and fascinating hobby.  And with many people not working between Christmas and New Year, you’re more likely to have time on your hands to get down to some serious record searching.”

Details of what’s on offer each day will be posted every day from Boxing Day onwards on the findmypast blog http://blog.findmypast.co.uk/ and Genes Reunited blog http://blog.genesreunited.co.uk/

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Was your ancestor a Polish immigrant to England?

If so you may find him/her mentioned in the Polish collection held at the Society of Genealogists family history library in London. These records were compiled by Antoni and Stella Szachnowski, members of the Catholic Family History Society, and donated to the Society of Genealogists in November 1999.

An index to part of the collection is now available on the Members Area of the SoG website. The first section (Polish Subsistence) includes returns of Polish refugees receiving assistance from the Grant voted by Parliament between 1838 and 1841.

The second section (Polish genealogy) covers a diverse range of records listing Polish immigrants. These include entries from the registers of the Chapel of the Virgin Mary of Czestochowa, baptisms from St Peter Apostulate, Electoral rolls for St Pancras (1891), Lambeth (1891), St Marylebone (1892) and Westminster Borough (1908), plus entries from the1841 Census of Portsea in Hampshire, the Polish Refugee Hospital  and naturalisation records.

Two further boxes of correspondence and papers assembled by Mr and Mrs Szachnowski but not indexed on the Members’ Area can be found amongst the Society’s Special Collections.

To search the above records click here. To view the full details you will need to be a member of the Society of Genealogists.

Tim Lawrence (Head of Library Services)

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Early London Parish Registers Indexed Online and Free at Society of Genealogists

 Genealogists will be delighted that Ancestry.co.uk, in partnership with the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives, today launched online for the first time eight million of London’s oldest surviving parish records, charting the history of the city from the 16th century to modern times. This initiative will provide remarkable opportunities for anyone tracing  London family history.

The London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 contain vital records kept at more than 1,000 London parishes, and include some of the few extant records of the English Civil War.

Crucially, these records pre-date Civil Registration, the system introduced by the Government in 1837 to record the ‘vital’ events of its citizen’s lives, including births, marriages and deaths. The only way to trace one of these key events before the 19th century is to use parish registers.

The majority of the parish registers date back to 1538 when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, issued an order that each parish was to keep a register of each baptism, marriage and burial performed there, however the collection also features a few much earlier records. One of the transcripts that is included within the collection is dated 1274.

Russell James from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “These records detail the existence of those living through the fascinating period of the English Civil War, the political consequences of which can still be felt today. The conflict instilled Parliament with genuine power for the first time, while its factions developed into what have become some of our modern political parties.

“As official records were not kept by the government until Civil Registration in 1837, these parish records are essential for tracing anyone who was baptised, married or buried in London before the 19th century.”

Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of London’s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery, comments: “I am delighted that we are able to make these unique historical records available online for the first time and fully name searchable.

 

“Our understanding of the development of London and the lives of millions of Londoners will be greatly enhanced through online access to this information.”

 

The launch of the early parish records marks the completion of the London parish registers, which began in September 2009 with the launch of the ‘modern’ records dating from the early 19th century to the 1980s. A total of 18 million parish records are now online, dating from 1538 to 1980.

Access to these indeed records is available free in the Library of the Society of Genealogists.  Anyone needing  first time help to use the Ancestry website can book a help session with the Society’s Community Officer.  Details of using the Society of Genealogists Library can be found on our main website.

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