Family History Archives


Genealogists will be delighted that Ancestry.co.uk  has just launched  the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 – an index to more than six million wills proven across the 19th and 20th centuries .

A free information leaflet for using wills as part of your family history can be found on the Society of Genealogists website

 ‘Probate’ refers to the court’s authority to administer a deceased estate, including granting representation to a person or persons to administer that estate.

In 1857, the Court of Probate Act saw the power to administer estates transfer from the church to the state and it is the probate calendar books, in which grants are summarised and collated annually by the state, that are now on Ancestry.co.uk. Note there are some gaps in the coverage of the calendars found on Ancestry’s site but they hope to add the missing volumes when they get the chance. Currenty the following  are not covered : 

“the books for the years 1858-1860 and there are some gaps for the years 1863, 1868, 1873, 1876, 1877, 1883, 1888, 1899-1903 and 1910-1911″
 

 

In addition to the material value of the estate, probate calendar books provide a rich source of information for family history enthusiasts as each entry may also include the name of the deceased, the date and place of death, the name of the executer and, in some cases, bequest recipients. The calendars lokk like this

Included in the index are numerous famous names such as once-rich polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who died in 1922 leaving an estate of just £556 (£20,000 today), having lost his fortune in failed money-making schemes while allegedly trying to recapture the adventure of his youth.

Fittingly, the anti-capitalist Karl Marx died in 1883 almost as poor as Shackleton, leaving just £250 (£23,000 today) to his youngest daughter Eleanor.

In contrast, Thomas Holloway, a man who made his fortune selling medicines and ointments, left one of the largest estates in the index, worth £600,000 in 1883 – the equivalent of £55 million today.

Anyone able to locate an ancestor in the England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1861-1941 will be able to delve further into that person’s life, learning more about their social standing and worldly possessions.

As more than two million living Britons claim to know of a wealthy ancestor or a lost fortune in the family, for the first time many of us will now be able to go online and trace our own family’s missing millions.

Individual entries may also reveal details about the fate of the deceased. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that of Edward John Smith, captain of the ill-fated Titanic, reveals that he was ‘lost at sea’, as do the listings of first-class passengers Benjamin Guggenheim and John Astor, and ship’s builder Thomas Andrews.

Other notable names include:

  • Charles Darwin – the acclaimed naturalist Charles Robert Darwin is listed as having left a personal estate worth £146,911 (around £13 million today) when he died in 1882
  • John Cadbury – the ‘King of Chocolate’ John Cadbury died with a personal estate of £43,773 (around £4.2 million today) when he died in 1889
  • Charles Dickens – the famous Victorian author Charles John Huffham Dickens died leaving ‘effects under £80,000’ (around £7.1 million today) when he died in 1870

Also included are legendary cricketer W G Grace (in 1915 with £7,278 – £620,000 today), former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (in 1940 with £84,013 – £3.5 million today), scientist Michael Faraday (in 1867 with £6,000 – £500,000 today), and authors Lewis Carroll (in 1898 with £4,145 – £450,000 today) and Arthur Conan Doyle (in 1931 with £63,491 – £3,000,000 today).

Those using the England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1861-1941 can obtain a full copy of the wills listed from the Probate Registry,  (address on the SoG information leaflet on Wills) which will help them to uncover further information such as details of the deceased’s family and additional detail about the estate.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

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.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Genealogists may find TNA’s Rediscovering the Record Project interesting

David Thomas, Director of Technology at The National Archives, has announced the concept behind The National Archives’ Rediscovering the Records project on his first TNA’s Labs blog

The Rediscovering the Record project takes in hand the redesign of TNA’s two major catalogues and some new search functions including geographic based searches making it possible to  link from maps to related to records.

The TNA’s labs project is similar to the  FamilySearch Labs projects that have been around for some time now. These labs projects include beta testing for developments within familiar sites such as the Familysearch.org, but without actually changing the main site. Putting the lab site up for a while means it can be thoroughly tested. I’ve been using the 1851 English jurisdictions date on labs.familysearch for some time now and it has a lot in common with TNA labs and had become more and more useful to me as it improved.

Comments can be fed back to the development team and these are open for others to see. Suggestions will lead to further tweeks and alterations. When I used the site there were obviously some teething problems – functions seemed to freeze but evidently I wasn’t the only one having problems. I got a good feel for some of the new possibilities within the proposed “person search” functions that should improve results when searching across name rich database and catalogue entries on the TNA website. The new person search makes it clear what sets of records with good name information exists at TNA and canny readers will have noted this  search is being integrated as a beta test within he main TNA website.

I didn’t have such a great experience with the other “new” test areas. The Valuation Office Map Finder and the UK History Photo Finder potentially sound really interesting. Photfinder allows you to search and view digitised historical photographs of the UK and Ireland, starting with the Dixon-Scott collection, which holds more than 14,000 photographs taken in the 1920s-1940s. However in order to discover what places are covered both seem to rely on a wizzy map link from interactive OS mapping or a dedicated place name list in drop down boxes. Sadly neither of those worked for me. But I’ve done my bit and reported this as feedback so I’ll see what they do to improve it. Other comments show people have successfully seen it working and have suggested interesting ways to present the information and to link to similar initiatives using similar mapping and historic photo information.

Collaboration on sites like The National Archives Labs  through its  comments and related wikis and forums, draw upon the greater collective experience and knowledge the users often have about specific records. As more people can test and comment about the site the more user-friendly it might become.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

SoG Chairman speaking on Radio 4 about the Black Chartist William Cuffay

 

Society of Genealogists Chairman, Collin Allen will be appearing on Radio 4 on Wednesday 28 July at 11am, being interviewed by Trade Unionist Bill Morris about the Chartist William Cuffay and his family history links to Medway towns in Kent.

The website for the radio programme Britain’s Black Revolutionary tells us that,

“as far back as the London of 1848 the son of slave was leading one of this countries most powerful political movements.
Few of us have heard of William Cuffay, a physically deformed tailor who lived in Soho. And yet he was notorious in his day, to the extent that the political class of the 1840s dubbed him “the pore old blackymore rogue” as he went on to lead a political movement so powerful that Britain cowered behind its shuttered windows and the massed ranks of its armies.
Just as the thrones of Europe were yet again tumbling to revolution, the 1848 Chartist uprising in favour of democracy and equality in London threatened the status quo in Britain. History records that an articulate democrat, William Cuffay, emerged as a key organiser of the mass demonstration that faced the Duke of Wellington’s army in the demand for the vote. Revolution threatened the capital – but who was the diminutive tailor holding such sway? ”


Lord Morris follows a predecessor in the labour movement through his fascinating story – from son of a St Kitts slave to political leader, and ultimately into exile at Her Majesty’s pleasure in Tasmania.

Producer: Philip Sellars.

Broadcast
Wednesday 28 Jul 2010 11:00 BBC Radio 4

Technorati Tags: , ,

P1010160 Will You be Buried, Cremated or “Flushed down the Loo” Well not quite – but………………..

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph “Belgian undertakers have drawn up plans to dissolve the corpses of the dead in caustic solutions and flush them into the sewage system”

Legislation has already been passed in six States in America to allow this process to go ahead but in Belgium they want to go one step further and flush the remains into the sewage system.

These proposals are currently being studied by the European Union and if approved could be used anywhere in Europe.

Although we think otherwise, the dearly departed have always been treated in a very callous way. one only has to read George Walker’s “Gatherings from Graveyards” to understand  the gruesome burial practices in London in the 18th & 19th Century. The Cholera epidemics of the 19th Century woke the populace up to the idea that the dead and the living don’t mix well together and led to the growth of cemeteries. These of course have in many cases been left to rack and ruin such as Abney Park in London where in many cases gravestones are so overgrown that it would be impossible to find an ancestor without a full blown jungle expedition! (Warning – do not visit Abney Park on your own – there are a lot of “strange” living people in the undergrowth)

This century brought the Crematorium with the 30 minute (if you are lucky) service – with in many cases their rank commercialism (move along time for the next ceremony) – Want to remember your loved ones? – £300 for a ten year lease on a plaque…

So now we move on to become total waste material. I have heard it said that “in every glass of water we drink a molecule of Oliver Cromwell’s pee” so soon it will  be a pot pourri of everybody…

Click here to read the full article from the Daily Telegraph

What do you say? Please leave your comments

Technorati Tags: , , ,

 Page 24 of 33  « First  ... « 22  23  24  25  26 » ...  Last »