Family History News Archives


A report on the society’s visit to the Ragged School Museum

ragged 300x257 A report on the societys visit to the Ragged School MuseumWhose Jewish father illegally married his deceased wife’s Irish Quaker sister but allegedly got around the law by marrying in a German church?

Who was born in Dublin in 1845, the sickly fifth child of the second wife and not thought to survive?

Who was encouraged by his mother to go to an evangelist meeting in 1862 at the age of 16 where he ‘found’ Christ and later joined the Plymouth Brethren?

Who was committed to temperance yet it is believed he started his working life as an apprentice to a wine merchant?

Who moved to London in 1866 at the age of 20 to train as a missionary to China?

Who was rejected by the Mission because, it is said, his energy and zeal made him unsuitable?

Who had an incredible ability to organise and whose desk contained an array of pigeonholes for that purpose?

Who, had a timing clock on his desk operated by ivory discs of various sizes each with a time value and, arguably, invented time management?

Who adopted the title of Dr before he was qualified to do so?

Who died in 1905 and was, unusually for the time, cremated with his ashes buried in the grounds of his Barkingside children’s home?

We are, of course, talking about Thomas John Barnardo.  SoG Members and guests were treated to these and many other snippets about his life, by Erica Davies, the Director of the Ragged School Museum on Copperfield Road, Mile End, during a visit on the 21st August 2012.   Yet in over an hour she was only able to scrape the surface of a lifetime dedicated to the poor and needy.

In 1877, Barnardo rented a canal side warehouse to convert to a ragged school and todays museum was an adjacent building which he added to his ragged school in 1895 because of overcrowding.  Copperfield Road Ragged School was not the first by any means but was the largest, accommodating nearly 300 children in day classes rising to over a thousand by 1895.  In addition, there was a playground in the basement for the younger children, evening classes for the older working children and a gymnasium for the boys. The Sunday School was attended by 2500 at that time. The children were also provided with free breakfast and dinner which in 1888 alone amounted to a staggering 68,000 free meals.  The school bell still remains and is shown in the photo below.

His first venture into missionary work with children was in 1866 when he took two cottages in Limehouse and founded the East End Juvenile Mission which ran a ragged school, church services, bible & sewing classes.  It proved to be a turning point in his life’s work.  One evening, a child remained behind and begged to stay the night in front of the fire.  The boy was not only an orphan but was also homeless, sleeping rough on the streets.  It was then that Barnardo discovered there were many similar children who had somehow slipped the Poor Law net and he opened his first boy’s home at Stepney Causeway.

With his unbounding energy and exceptional organisational skills he went on to found not just a few ragged schools but a whole network of institutions aimed at helping the poor and disadvantaged lead more fulfilling lives.  His overriding aim was to save, educate, train and find employment for these children, enabling them to lead decent, Christian, family lives.  He bought the Edinburgh Castle public house and converted it into a Coffee Palace for Working Men.  He created the Boot Blacking Brigade, the City Messenger Brigade, the Wood Chopping Brigade, the Servants Free Registry and Training School, the Factory Girls Club & Institute, the Working Lads Institute and a host of other similar opportunities to help those at the bottom of the human pile to gain their independence through employment.

He produced a relentless stream of pamphlets, aimed at tugging the heart strings in a way that today would be seen as exploitation or politically incorrect and even in those Victorian times got him frequently into trouble.  Yet they helped him to raise during his life time the staggering sum of over £3 million (worth £200 million at today’s prices), without which he could not have helped the  thousands who passed through his hands.  Some of his methods bordered on the criminal but always with the children’s interests at heart.  Sending children to Canada became a contentious issue because of some well publicised failures but there were many hundreds more who were helped to a prosperous life in a new country.  Neither were they sent to fend for themselves.  Before they left, Barnardo ensured that a proper care structure was in place and each child had a bank account into which their wages were paid and saved until they were 21.

His funeral came as close to a State Funeral as imaginable, demonstrating the love and affection the East End had for Thomas John Barnardo.  His body lay in the People’s Mission Church at the Edinburgh Castle for four days where thousands of people came to pay their last respects.  On the day of the funeral, thousands lined the streets, shops closed and the cortege was followed by 1500 boys from his many homes and institutions.

Even now, more than 100 years since his death, Thomas John Barnardo is still an inspiration and led me to seek out so much more of the life story of this remarkable man, beyond the commonly held perception of his Children’s homes and questionable practice of sending of children to Canada.

- Barry Hepburn

The  Ragged School Museum is located at 46-50 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR. For more information, visit their website

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Italian Civil Registration Records 1802 to 1940 Awaiting Volunteers

I’m indebted to Thomas MacEntee and Geneabloggers for the following information posted: 16 Jul 2012 10:09 AM PDT

FamilySearch launched a historic partnership with the National Archives of Italy in December 2011 to digitally preserve and index its civil registration records (birth, marriage, and death) for all states from 1802 to 1940. Since the project launch more than 24 million images have been published, and 4 million names have been made searchable on FamilySearch.org.
But there are 115 million historic Italian documents with over 500 million names remaining to index and publish. Tens of thousands of volunteers are needed. To meet this opportunity,

FamilySearch is requesting help from indexers and arbitrators who speak or read Italian or a closely related language, such as Spanish, or who are willing to learn a handful of simple Italian words and phrases to help facilitate the initiative.

Descendants of Italians and Italy historic and genealogy societies are especially invited to participate to help accelerate the publication of this valuable record set. Interested individuals, societies, or groups should visit http://www.familysearch.org/italian-ancestors to learn more. To search the completed Italian records online and to learn more about reading Italian records, visit http://familysearch.org/italy.

 

 

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Society of Genealogists Membership Summer Offer

 

Are you struck inside wishing the rain would go away? Need something to occupy your time  while the Olympics is  on? Come and meet some like minded knowledgeable genealogists to help you with your research and make use of the best genealogical library outside the USA.

 

Join the Society of Genealogists this Summer and we will waive the usual £10 joining administration fee meaning the annual subscription is just £47 or a mere £27 for overseas members. That’s just 90p per week if you live in the UK – cheaper than a cup of coffee from a well known American coffee emporium!!

 

image thumb Society of Genealogists Membership Summer Offer

PLUS Receive FREE Family Tree Builder genealogy software on CD

Download a membership application form and quote code SSP12 to gain access to the SoG’s remarkable collections in the library and online

Benefits of Membership

How to Join

 

 

Offer applies to membership taken out before the end of September 2012 and while CD stocks last.

 

 

 

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NEW ON-LINE DATABASE OF KENT WILLS

The Society of Genealogists has received news of a new on-line wills database published by the Kent Archaeological Society

When antiquarian and historian Leland Lewis Duncan of the Kent Archaeological Society died in 1923 his lifetime’s work, including handwritten lists and transcriptions of Wills of Kent residents and landowners who lived in medieval and Tudor times, was deposited in the society’s library at Maidstone Museum.

For 80 years local and family historians could inspect this invaluable resource only by visiting the library. Now, a team of volunteers ‑ Margaret Broomfield, Dawn Weeks, Zena Bamping and Pat Tritton – is completing the task of transcribing Duncan’s records for the society’s website, from which they can be downloaded free of charge.

Duncan’s records were written in 61 exercise books and bound quarto books, most of which survive. Their 2,188 entries were originally indexed by parish by the Vicar of East Peckham in 1934.

The records are now on a database which has two indexes. One enables the surnames of testators to found and is convenient for family historians. The other, for the benefit of local historians, lists the areas, parishes or dioceses in which the testators lived or owned land.

The areas include boroughs which were once part of Kent but are now within Greater London.

Links alongside the entries allow any of the Wills that have been transcribed to be viewed ‘with one click’.

To access the Wills visit the Research section at www.kentarchaeology.org.uk

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News from the London Probate Office and updates to post 1858 wills online

I couldn’t attend the recent meeting of the users of the London Probate Registry at First Avenue House as I was teaching at the Society, so I am grateful to SoG Trustee Di Bouglas  for her report of the meeting. It can be read in full on her blog. It’s well worth reading this and her previous post on proposed developments to put the English and Welsh probate calendars online and to digitise SOME of the documents themselves.

 

Though not fully searchable across all years it seems the eventual online indexes will be free and ultimately up to date.  Finally there is the prospect of an online order facility. It’s clear the service is affected by having the Calendars finally and fully  searchable from 1858-1941 on Ancestry.co.uk. With no replacement for the current director of the London search room being appointed in the near future, no matter how the service tries to scotch rumours of its closure I find it difficult to believe the Probate Registry at First Avenue House will maintain a public search room for the foreseeable future

 

Else Churchill

Genealogist

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