Family History Archives


Free access to Ancestry’s London Records at the SoG

The SoG Library now gives free access to 18 million parish records from London parishes dating from 1538 to 1980 published online for the first through Ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry’s databases, usually available to subscribers at home, can be accessed in the SoG’s FREE Family History Community Access area  and on the computers in the Lower Library. Information about joining the Society of Genealogists can be found on our website .

Famous names mentioned in these records include Samuel Pepys, Oscar Wilde and Simon Cowell’s great-grandfather. Parish records an essential pre-19th century resource for UK  family history researchers and this online collection supplements the many thousands of copies and transcripts of local parish records held in the SoG Library and which are listed on the SoG’s free online Library Catalogue .

The database on Ancestry.co.uk  includes name indexes  for the christening and burial registers from 1813 and marriages from 1754. Images of the original London records both for the indexed periods and for earlier records are also freely available at the SoG via the Ancestry website.

The records are made available by Ancestry.co.uk in partnership with the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts . The collection details baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in more than 1,000 Greater London parishes between 1538 and 1980 and reveals the names and stories of those who lived through major events in the City’s history including the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. The collection pre-dates Civil Registration – the government system established in 1837 to keep accurate records of citizens’ lives and the point at which record-keeping was both modernised and nationalised. The only way to trace a baptism, marriage or burial before the 19th century is through parish records.

The earliest records date back as far as 1538 when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, issued an order that each parish was to keep a register detailing every baptism, marriage and burial it performed. This collection will be of huge significance to the estimated 33 million Brits[1] with ancestors who lived in or passed through London at some point in time, enabling them to trace their roots, whether to the City’s slums or its more affluent areas.

Samuel Pepys – The baptism of Pepys is recorded in the registers of St Bride, Fleet Street on the 3rd of March 1633. Pepys’ famed diary of London provides a valuable account of the Great Plague and the Great Fire.

3911744429 785db12b40 Free access to Ancestrys London Records at the SoG
cc Free access to Ancestrys London Records at the SoG photo credit: Captain Caps

Oscar Wilde – The marriage of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ author to Constance Mary Lloyd is listed on the 29th of May 1884 in Paddington. It was just a year after this marriage that many believe Wilde became aware of his homosexuality after meeting a boy named Robbie Ross

Joseph Allerton Cowell – The baptism of the music producer Simon Cowell’s great-grandfather is listed in the registers of St John of Jerusalem, Hackney, on the 15th of March 1874. Like his father, Joseph was a rope and twine manufacturer by trade

Thomas Hardy – The marriage of the ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ author to Florence Dugdee at St Andrew, Enfield is recorded on the 10th of February 1914

Other famous names in the collection include Charles Dickens, John Keats and English chemist Michael Faraday.

The digitisation and indexing of these parish records allows an insight into the social trends linked to key history events such as a steady increase in marriages recorded from 1754 when Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act resulted in the abolition of the practise of common-law marriage, thus making it a requirement for couples to marry in a church.

The London Historical Records, 1500s-1900s, can be accessed directly at www.ancestry.co.uk/lma

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News for Family Historians on Proposed Changes at The National Archives

Natalie Ceeney Chief Exec of TNA and Jeff James Head of Operations faced a second packed public meeting on Thursday 20 August at The National Archives Kew Richmond Surrey England1 300x224 News for Family Historians on Proposed Changes at The National Archives National Archives. During this meeting Jeff outlined in more detail the proposal for charges to be made for using the car park from January 2010.  TNA is suggesting a daily charge of £5  for all users of the public car park with discounted season tickets being made available for regular visitors. The rationale behind this proposal is that the car park costs something over £80,000 per year to run and maintain  when overheads such as security, CCTV, building and maintenance etc are allocated.  Introducing charges could possibly bring in something over £90,000 towards overall  proposed savings of £4.2 million if the estimates of the future number of visitors who will use the car park and how much they are likely to spend come to pass.

Additionally Natalie and Jeff spent more time explaining their rationale behind someof the proposals and how their budgets work. In addition to the cuts made in operations and services attendees were told of some of the decisions that have had to be made on capital expenditure such as the  postponment of a new cooling plant to update the aging building and archives. Unless any alternative  suggestions about potential savings come  out of the consultation period it looks like the proposals  made in June will become finalised and acted upon. We will hear the final decisions at the next  public users’ forum to be held in Spetember. Minutes of the meeting and the dates of future meeting will be available on TNA website shortly.

Many genealogists and family historians use  the vast number of records  relating to family history held at The National Archives.

 

Else Churchill, Genealogist, Society of Genealogists

Special Family History Collections at the Society of Genealogists

kipling27 298x300 Special Family History Collections at the Society of GenealogistsSome of the most important items in the library of the Society of Genealogists are to be found in the mansuscripts  in the Special Collections. Housed in thousands of boxes, these collections often represent the life work of a genealogist who has researched many different families. Sometimes the work is quite scholarly or looks at families that share a common theme such as the Campling Collection, the original notes made  by Campling before publishing the pedigress as East Anglian Pedigrees. Other collections have compiled family trees for families in a specific area  such as the Rogers Collection of notes on Cornish families. The SoG has over 350 of these special collections.

New collections come into the library every week.  Often they are  the life work of a family historian bequeathed to the Society because no other family member might want the research. Each collection is sorted and listed by volunteers. Often the papers aren’t as organised as they might be when they arrive at the library. It  can be quite a daunting task to go through many boxes of notes and to make order out of chaos. It can be quite sad if family photos don’t have names or places attached to them such as these charming family photographs.

Sometimes it’s not only the family photos that can be difficult to  identify.   All sorts of ephemeral items often come in with the research notes.  Volunteers have great fun sorting the collections. It was a delight to find this fine fellow (below)  in the recent acquisition of the Helen collection. Helen Collection cat 12 238x300 Special Family History Collections at the Society of Genealogists

Surnames represented in the Society’s document collections of miscellaneous manuscript research notes, the roll pedigree collections and the birth briefs submitted by members are listed on the library section of our website. However the names in the special collections are, at present, only listed in card indexes in the lower library.

Contributing to the Society’s centenary appeal can help us continue to conserve and care for our collections. See the donations page of our website.

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14 SoG members took part in the guided walk around the City of London looking at some of the lost burial grounds.  Between 1741 and 1837 over two million burials occurred within the City but finding trace of these can now be a challenge. The walk, led by Alec Tritton, started at St Olave Church Hart Street, near the Tower of London and concluded at Bow Churchyard. Concentrating on burial grounds in the financial district the group got a feel for the parishes where their ancestors lived, and died. After two and a half hours we retired exhausted but cheerful to one of the few local hostelries actually open in the City on Saturdays. Everyone agreed they had a good day as you can see by the picture. London burial walk1 300x225 SoG members enjoy walk round lost city burial grounds

Alec’s next walk around nonconformist chapels and burial grounds will take place on Saturday 26 September. Places are limited so do take the opportunity to book on line via the   SoG’s events pages on our website

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Was your ancestor a domestic servant?

The Society of Genealogists has published My Ancestor Was In Service by Pamela Horn. This new book will help anyone with their research into domestic servants. Domestic servants were by far the largest occupational group in the 1911 census and as a result, this book should appeal to family historians everywhere. This book and many other family history books are available in our online bookshop at www.sog.org.uk

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