Family History Archives


1.2 million Irish Petty Session Records Now Searchable Online on Findmypast.ie

 

Drunk in charge of an ass and cart, tippling in a sheebeen and the disturbance of a divine service: 1.2 million Irish Petty Session Records now searchable online

 

Today, Irish family history website www.findmypast.ie launched online for the first time the Petty Sessions order books (1850-1910), one of the greatest untapped resources for those tracing their Irish roots.

· Another 15 million cases are to follow throughout 2012

· One of the great untapped resources for researching your family history

· Drunkenness the most common offence – accounting for one third of cases

 

The original Petty Sessions records, held at the National Archives of Ireland, were scanned by Family Search and have now been transcribed and made fully searchable by findmypast.ie. They cover all types of cases, from allowing trespass of cattle to being drunk in charge of an ass and cart. These were the lowest courts in the country who dealt with the vast bulk of legal cases, both civil and criminal. This first batch of entries contains details of 1.2 million cases, with most records giving comprehensive details of the case including: name of complainant, name of defendant, names of witnesses, cause of complaint, details of the judgement, details of a fine if any, and details of a sentence passed down if any. Another 15 million cases are to follow throughout 2012.

This first batch of records is particularly useful for areas of the country for which family history records are notoriously sparse such as Connaught and Donegal.

The reasons for cases being brought before the Petty Sessions Court are incredibly varied, but unsurprisingly the most common offence was drunkenness, which accounted for over a third of all cases. The top five offences tried before the courts were:

1. Drunkenness – 33%

2. Revenue/Tax offences – 21%

3. Assault – 16%

4. Local acts of nuisance – 5%

5. Destruction of property – 4%

The nature of these cases was significantly different from those in England.  Figures show that the rate of conviction for drunkenness was three times greater, four times greater for tax offences, 65% higher for assault, and twice as likely for “malicious and wilful destruction of property” than that of our nearest neighbours.1

The records are full of the minor incidents which are representative of the vast majority of cases which were brought before the Resident Magistrates. For example, we have Michael Downey of Athlone, Co. Westmeath who was charged with being “drunk while in charge of an ass and cart in a public area”, Pat Curley of Cloonakilla, Co. Westmeath who was charged with causing “malicious injury to a bicycle”, the five men and women all convicted of “tippling in a sheebeen” (drinking in an unlicensed premises) on Queen Street, Athlone and given fines of between £1 and £5 or the five men who were charged with disturbing the Reverend J.W. Davidson as he was “ministering a divine service” in Bundoran, Co.Donegal.

 

Brian Donovan, Director of findmypast.ie, comments: “These court records open up a unique window into Irish society in the 19th century. Most families interacted with the law in one way or another, being perpetrators or victims of petty crime, resolving civil disputes, to applying for a dog licence. The records are full of the trauma and tragedy of local life, as family members squabbled, shop keepers recovered debt, and the police imposed order. These records help fulfil our mission to provide more than just names and dates, to get to the stories of our ancestors’ lives.”

ENDS

Notes

1. British Parliamentary Papers (1864)

 

For further media information, please contact:

Ross Weldon

findmypast.ie

Unit 1, Trinity Enterprise and Technology Campus,

Pearse Street,

Dublin 2

Ireland

ross.weldon@findmypast.ie

+353 1 671 0338

 

ABOUT findmypast.ie

Findmypast.ie is the world’s most comprehensive Irish family history website, providing easy-to-search, online access to some of the most significant Irish records that have ever been made available. This new site is a joint venture between two experts in the field: findmypast.co.uk, one of the leading family history websites and part of the brightsolid family, while Eneclann is an award-winning Trinity College Campus Company specialising in genealogical and historical research and the publication of historical records.

Based in Dublin, findmypast.ie has a dedicated team committed to providing the best experience possible when researching Irish family history.

www.findmypast.ie

 

 

 

 

NEW MERCHANT SEAMEN RECORDS ONLINE and FREE at the Society of Genealogists

 

Leading family history website www.findmypast.co.uk has today released online for the first time Merchant Seamen records from the 19th century in association with The National Archives of the United Kingdom.

 

* First time that 19th century merchant navy records are available online

* UK merchant seamen records from two centuries now searchable at findmypast.co.uk

 

359,000 records of individuals covering the years 1835-1857 have now been added to the website. Details contained within the records can vary, but can include name, age, place of birth, physical description, ship names and dates of voyages. Often this information can be given in the form of coded entries which can easily be deciphered using downloadable finding aids from The National Archives.

The records are taken from volumes held at The National Archives in series BT112, BT113, BT114, BT115, BT116 and BT120 and were created by central government to regulate the merchant shipping industry. As the series spans two decades, some individuals may appear in multiple series, making it possible for maritime historians or those with ancestors in the merchant navy, to trace a seaman’s service over time.

Janet Dempsey, Maritime Expert at The National Archives commented:

"These records are as significant to the social historian as they are to the family historian. No other group of working class men and women had the freedom of movement and ability to see the world as these 19th century mariners.

"This was the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen’s earliest attempts at keeping individuals records and resulted in four different registers over twenty two years. Although more of a challenge to work with than other family history sources, it can be very satisfying to decipher the codes and have your investigative efforts rewarded with sometimes surprisingly rich detail."

In 2011 findmypast.co.uk published Merchant Navy Seamen records from 1918-1941 in association with The National Archives, some of which include photographs.

Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk added: "The Merchant Navy Seamen records will be of great interest to family historians worldwide, as so many of us have generations of ancestors, who made their living at sea. These records will add more detail to our mental picture of their lives."

All the Merchant Navy Seamen records at findmypast.co.uk can be searched for free from the Education & Work section of the website. Transcripts and images can be viewed either with PayAsYouGo credits or a Full Subscription.

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Births, Deaths and Marriages is a new sitcom for BBC Radio 4 set in a Local Authority Register Office where the staff deal with the three greatest events in anybody’s life.

Written by and starring David Schneider (The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge), it features chief registrar Malcolm Fox who is a stickler for rules and would be willing to interrupt any wedding service if the width of the bride infringes health and safety. He’s unmarried but why does he need to be? He’s married thousands of women.

Alongside him are rival and divorcee Lorna who has been parachuted in from car parks to drag the office (and Malcolm) into the 21st century. To her marriage isn’t just about love and romance, it’s got to be about making a profit in our new age of austerity.

There’s also the ever spiky Mary, geeky Luke who’s worried he’ll end up like Malcolm one day while ditzy Anita may get her words and names mixed up occasionally but as the only parent in the office, she’s a mother to them all.

The episodes are being recorded in March and April – we will let you know when they are broadcast as soon as we find out

 

 

 

Free Tickets are available to be in the audience  for the recordings of the show from the BBC website

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News just in from the Identity and Passport Service, the Government Agency  which is responsible for the General Register Office, reports that the Advertising Standards Authority has taken action against third party certificate websites

Identity and Passport Service has warned people ordering birth, death and marriage certificates not to be fooled into paying more through unofficial websites.

The Advertising Standards Authority has now upheld three separate complaints from the Registrar General about third party websites misleading customers into believing that they were ordering from the government’s own website.

The authority warned ‘UK Official Services’, ‘UK GRO Certificates’ and ‘Vital Certificates’ that they were in breach of the Committee of Advertising Practice code and that they must stop appearing or implying that they are the General Register Office.

Customers applying for replacement birth certificates can be charged up to £74.99 for an unofficial ‘express’ online service.

The same express service is £23.40 via the official IPS certificate ordering website through Directgov

www.direct.gov.uk/gro. The standard certificate service is available for even less – £9.25.

Welcoming the news, IPS Chief Executive and Registrar General Sarah Rapson, said:

‘The Advertising Standards Authority has sent a very clear message to customers and those companies that mislead them: there is just one official online certificate ordering service for England and Wales.

‘It is always quicker, cheaper and safer to deal directly with the General Register Office for certificate orders.

‘While other outlets can be found online, there is no reason to pay over the odds and I would urge customers to look at the official site first before ordering anywhere else.’

 

 

New number for certificate ordering

IPS has adopted a 0300 prefix for its GRO certificates enquiry number. The prefix 0300 replaces the 0845 prefix used in the previous number.

From 5 January 2012 IPS stopped publishing the 0845 603 7788 number for members of the public who wish to make an enquiry about, or place an order for, certificates. Customers who previously contacted IPS via the 0845 number are now being asked to use 0300 123 1837. This is a particularly memorable number as civil registration was introduced in England and Wales in the year 1837.

0300 numbers are exclusively reserved for charities and the public sector and for the majority of customers the cost of calling us will be reduced. Calls made to 0300 numbers from landlines and mobile phones are charged to customers at their network provider’s national rate and also form part of the inclusive minutes within the customer’s call package in the same way as calls to geographical numbers.

 

 

 

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A Report of the Society’s Visit to Christ Church Spitalfields on 25 January 2012

Thank God for neglect!  Mauling by the Victorians and then neglect to the point of dereliction by the late 1950’s provided the opportunity to restore this beautiful Hawksmoor baroque church, not just to its former glory but to its original 1729 glory; a shining beacon in this run down and deprived area of East London.  Yet in the late 1950’s it was deemed unsafe for the congregation to use and destined to be demolished – something that Hitler had failed to do (although the crypt replete with coffins was used as an air raid shelter!).   A committee (The Hawksmoor Committee) was formed to raise public awareness and campaign for the church’s retention, which they achieved with great success in spite of the then Bishop of Stepney’s views (Trevor Huddleston).   Although the church was saved, it remained derelict for many years.  Then in 1976 the Friends of Christ Church was formed to raise money for its restoration at a cost in excess of £10 million, which took until 2004, although parish worship was able to return in 1987.  Restoration is not quite complete: funds are still needed to restore the original 1735 Richard Bridge Organ, the pulpit and the lectern.  The result is a church much as the original architect intended, considered his masterpiece at the time and the size of a small cathedral, extensively using the original timber and other materials. The only Victorian feature retained is the 1876 stained glass east window which was too good to remove.

From a genealogy point of view there is wealth of information available, starting with the Natural History Museum!  The crypt contained 1000 iron coffins, piled high and even stood on end in every available space.  Yet the coffins had been so perfectly sealed that the contents had been preserved; clothes and bodies.  The value of this to historians, archeologists and even scientists was recognised, eventually resulting in the coffins being ‘loaned’ to the Natural History Museum in the 1980’s for research, where they are due to remain for another 10 years.  Every coffin was clearly inscribed and an index is available from the museum.  A further 68,000 burials have taken place in the churchyard, many in similar iron coffins.  These have all been reinterred but the church hold records of the bodies that could be identified.  In the past, the church has also been connected with both the East London Huguenots and Jewish communities, particularly the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews who placed a number of memorial tablets in the church.

A fabulous building well worth a visit if you can but with a great deal more information and photographs on their web sites.  http://www.christchurchspitalfields.org/v2/home/home.shtmland http://www.ccspitalfields.org/ The internet is also a good source of information about Nicholas Hawksmoor who was a pupil and protege of Christopher Wren, responsible for many notable buildings in England including six London churches erected under the 1711 Act for Fifty New Churches.

Barry Hepburn

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