Family History Research Archives


How To Get The Most From Family Pictures – Special Offer

 How To Get The Most From Family Pictures   Special Offer

Subscribers to Family History Monthly magazine can currently enjoy a 10% discount off How To Get The Most From Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton, the latest book published by the Society of Genealogists. Simply obtain the offer code from your May 2011 issue of Family History Monthly magazine and place your order in our online shop at www.sog.org.uk. This offer ends on 04/05/11 and may not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Jayne Shrimpton’s book is essential reading for family historians researching their family pictures. This is the first book to cover inherited artworks – paintings and drawings – and silhouettes, as well as photographs. The book spans the late 18th to mid 20th centuries. Informative, fascinating and thought provoking, it explains the  techniques for accurate picture dating and offers further tips for analysing, understanding and discovering more about historical images. The author is a professional dress historian and picture specialist, with an MA in the History of Art (Dress) and is a former archive assistant at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Now an independent writer, lecturer and consultant, she has over 20 years experience of dating and analysing pictures.

New book – How to get the most from Family Pictures

The Society of Genealogists is delighted to publish How to get the most from Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton. This book is essential reading for family historians researching their family pictures. This is the first book to cover inherited artworks – paintings and drawings – and silhouettes, as well as photographs. The book spans the late 18th to mid 20th centuries. Informative, fascinating and thought provoking, it explains the  techniques for accurate picture dating and offers further tips for analysing, understanding and discovering more about historical images. The author is a professional dress historian and picture specialist, with an MA in the History of Art (Dress) and is a former archive assistant at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Now an independent writer, lecturer and consultant, she has over 20 years experience of dating and analysing picutres. How to get the most from Family Pictures is priced at £12.99, and is available from the Society’s bookshop and online at www.sog.org.uk.

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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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Was your ancestor a criminal?

If so you may be able to find out more about him/her at the Society of Genealogists’ family history library in Clerkenwell.

The Society has recently launched a new source to help people find out more about their  criminal ancestors –  an index to 7 issues of the Police Gazette published between 1866 and 1882.

The Police Gazette was a weekly newspaper that the Home Office produced giving details of crimes committed and information wanted by the police. It was sent to every police force in the United Kingdom and contains details of stolen property and wanted people including photographs. The original Gazette, The Quarterly Pursuit, was founded in 1772 by John Fielding, chief magistrate of the Bow Street Police Court. The name was changed to The Police Gazette in 1828, and responsibility for the publication was transferred to Scotland Yard in 1883.

Police Gazette 300x238 Was your ancestor a criminal?

Six supplements were issued on a regular basis containing particulars of (A) active travelling criminals; (B) convicts on licence, persons under police supervision and other wanted people; (C) aliens wanted for crime and alien offences;  (D)  absentees and deserters from HM Forces; (E)  (first issued in 1933) photographs of active criminals. (G)  deaths of people who had previously appeared in the Police Gazette.

An index to 7 issues of the Police Gazette (dating between 1866 and 1882) has now been made available on the Members Area of the Society of Genealogists website. Prepared by Meryl Catty it lists brief details of the criminal together with the Issue/page number of the Gazette in which he/she appears.

NB The Heritage index (as it is known) also includes non-criminals from 23 other sources including the Birmingham Gazette, the Liverpool Mercury and the English Chronicle.

To carry out a free basic search of the Heritage index click here.

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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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