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Irish Prison Registers 1790-1920 on Findmypast.ie

Findmypast.ie have announced a remarkable new genealogy resource for Irish Family History Research  with 3.5 million entries from Irish Prison Registers 1790-1920

Today, findmypast.ie launched online for the first time the Irish Prison Registers 1790-1920, one of the greatest untapped resources for those tracing their Irish roots.

The original Prison Registers, held at the National Archives of Ireland, cover all types of custodial institutions, from bridewells, to county prisons, to sanatoriums for alcoholics. They contain over 3.5 million entries, spread over 130,000 pages, with most records giving comprehensive details of the prisoner, including: name, address, place of birth, occupation, religion, education, age, physical description, name and address of next of kin, crime committed, sentence, dates of committal and release/decease.

  • Launch of exclusive access to the Irish Prison Registers 1790-1920
  • · Over 3.5 million entries across 130,000 pages
  • · Drunkenness the most common offence – accounting for 25% of cases

The registers offer a real insight into 18th-19th century Ireland. They present evidence of a society of rebellion and social confrontation, where rioting and assault of police officers were everyday occurrences, and of rampant poverty and destitution, with the theft of everything from handkerchiefs to turnips.

The reasons for incarceration cover all types of crime but unsurprisingly perhaps the most common offence was drunkenness, which accounted for over 30% of all crimes reported and over 25% of incarcerations. The top five offences recorded in the registers are:

1. Drunkenness – 25%

2. Theft – 16%

3. Assault – 12%

4. Vagrancy – 8%

5. Rioting – 4%

The nature of these crimes was significantly different from those recorded in the UK. The rate of conviction for drunkenness and tax evasion was three times greater, and the rate of both destruction of property and prostitution were double what they were in the UK for the same time period.1

The records are full of individuals who were arrested for very minor offences, for example a record from the Cork City Gaol Court Book lists an arrest for Giles O’Sullivan (26), with no education and no previous convictions, on the 30th of March 1848 for being “a dangerous and suspicious character”. Other examples of the heavy hand of the law can be seen in the case of John Cunningham from Finglas (21) who was arrested for “Washing a car on a thoroughfare” and young Christopher Doyle (14) arrested “for being an idle, disorderly rogue and vagabond”.

The Irish population averaged 4.08 million over this time period2 and with over 3.5 million names listed in the prison records, it is clear to see how almost every family in Ireland was affected somehow.

Brian Donovan, Director of findmypast.ie, comments: “These records provide an invaluable resource for anyone tracing their Irish ancestors, as during the period covered almost every household in Ireland had a convict in their family. These records provide such a wealth of information that they are sure to shock and surprise almost anyone looking for the missing links in their Irish family tree.”

 

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

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One Million Merchant Navy Seamen records published online

One million 20th century Merchant Navy Seamen records are going online for family historians for the first time ever, as Britain approaches Merchant Navy Day on Saturday 3rd September. But when asked what the Merchant Navy was, 54% of the British population couldn’t answer correctly, even though almost 90% have heard of them. This is a sad fact considering the Merchant Navy was integral to putting Britain on the trade and industry world map and were named by Churchill as Britain’s ‘fourth service’. The revelation comes as findmypast.co.uk, a leading UK family history website, publishes these fascinating records online in partnership with The National Archives.

For the first time, you may be able to see what your ancestors looked like! Click Here to start start searching for free

Snapshots of mariners

Today’s launch sees records of crew members of UK merchant ships from 1918 to 1941 made available online, including rarely seen photos of the mariners. This is the first time that many relatives will be able to see what their seafaring ancestor looked like and also learn more about the people who made up Churchill’s ‘fourth service’.

 

The records provide fascinating details about each individual mariner. The most complete records have extremely detailed descriptions, including hair and eye colour, height, and distinguishing marks such as tattoos. In one case, Ordinary Seaman Henry Duncan Abbot from Dundee was listed as having a Chinese death head tattoo with the inscription “Death is Glory” on his right forearm – perhaps not so ordinary after all.

The shocking gap in Britain’s general knowledge is highest amongst the younger generation – just 26% of those aged under 35 know what the Merchant Navy is, compared to a wiser 64% of over 55s. Many will therefore be surprised to learn that the Merchant Navy consists of all seagoing UK vessels with commercial interests and their crews.

So it may be a shock to many that at various points in the last millennium, Britain had the largest merchant fleet in the world. The workforce on these vessels was a casual, ‘jobbing workforce’ so in any one year as many as 1.5 million people could be employed in the Merchant Navy, meaning many people are likely to find ancestors in these records. In the popular BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are?, David Suchet and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen both discovered ancestors who had been in the Merchant Navy.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, comments: “This is the first time the UK Merchant Navy Seamen records, with their fascinating images of the mariners, have been made available online. Many people aren’t sure what the Merchant Navy is, even though a large proportion of the UK population will have Merchant Navy seamen in their ancestry. Hopefully these records will help fill the gaps and people will enjoy learning about what life was like for the brave, seafaring merchants who helped the island nation of Britain prosper.”

A floating United Nations

The Merchant Navy Seamen records reveal the diverse crews that manned vessels ranging from cargo liners to passenger ferries to luxury cruise ships, working in a variety of professions and industries through some of the most vital moments in British history.

The term ‘floating United Nations’ has often been linked to the Merchant Navy and these records go further to support this idea. As high as 70% of ships’ crews were made up of international seamen from countries such as the West Indies, Scandinavia and Japan. These records hold details, and in many cases photographs, of these multi-national mariners.

Ship shape and women’s fashion

The Merchant Navy has been in existence for a significant period of British history, owing much of its growth to British imperial expansion. One of the most notable observations from the records is that women were prevalent on the ships. One example is Doris Abbey from Liverpool, a 5’4” Manicurist with hazel eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion – perhaps she joined the Merchant Navy to make sure the mariners’ nails were kept ship shape!

Janet Dempsey, Marine and Maritime Record Specialist at The National Archives comments: The Merchant Navy Seamen records cover a very significant era in nautical history commencing at the very peak of the popularity of ocean travel, in the time of the great ocean liners, when overseas tourism meant taking to the seas. The years that followed saw the end of this period of prosperity, and the start of the Great Depression. For mariners this was a time when work on board was hard to get, and many men were forced to take other work between voyages to make ends meet.  These newly digitised records make a fascinating social record as well as a valuable family history resource.”

Young hands on deck

At this time, many young mariners were operational at sea and a number of them can be found in the records. One young seaman, Allison Robinson Saville, was a 14 year old boy who was born in Hull in 1904. As Cabin Boy, the lowest ranking male employee, his role would have been to wait on the officers and passengers of the ship, and run errands for the ship’s Captain.

 

Remembering

Though these records do not cover the war time period, the Merchant Navy supported the Royal Navy during times of conflict, including WW1 and WW2. During these wars the Merchant Navy suffered heavy losses from German U-boat attacks. Official recognition of the sacrifices made by merchant seamen throughout history has taken place every 3rd September, with the Annual Merchant Navy Parade and Reunion taking place in Trinity Gardens, Tower Bridge on the closest Sunday, this year Sunday 4th September.

 

The Merchant Navy Seamen records are the only set of their kind available online and have been published in association with The National Archives. The records show that the seamen who made up the Merchant Navy not only came from the UK, but from every continent, with large numbers from across English-speaking world (notably the Maritime provinces of Canada), from the West Indies and Sierra Leone, and from Scandinavia, Somaliland, China and Japan. There are even some seamen from landlocked Switzerland.

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Book of the Month – My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman

To coincide with the release of one million twentieth century Merchant Seamen records by Find My Past, the Society of Genealogists is offering My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman by Christopher and Michael Watts as its Book of the Month for September. This book is recognised as the authoritative work on tracing Merchant Seaman ancestors and is available with a 20% discount throughout the month of September. You can order directly fron the society’s bookshop, or online at www.sog.org.uk. Members of the society may take advantage of this offer in addition to their existing members discount. Offer ends 30/09/2011.

We’re now tantalisingly close to discovering who Lord Alan Sugar will choose to be his next business partner, with the final of The Apprentice hitting our screens on Sunday. The Society of Genealogists also got the business bug as we’ve just published the Business Index Collection in association with the Findmypast.

The Society of Genealogists Business Index Collection is also available to SoG members via MySoG on the Society’s website www.sog.org.uk

 

The record collection is made up of a selection of 17 books and trade dictionaries produced in different areas of the UK from 1893 – 1927, with 9,757 records showcasing businesses and prominent people of the late Victorian era and early twentieth century. You can find out more detailed information about the Business Index Collection.

The records are a superb family history resources. They can provide a lot of detail about your ancestors’ lives, often including a photograph and a short biography which will detail their education and experience, memberships of corporations and clubs, their hobbies or leisure activities as well as any charities they may have been involved with.

Else Churchill, Genealogical Officer at the Society of Genealogists, explains:

“The Business Index directories complement other family history sources such as censuses or birth, marriage and death records. While these records may merely state trade or occupation, the Business Index can include exactly what your ancestor did and often include potted histories of the family business, showing when it was founded and the generations of the family members who worked together. These stories put flesh on the bones of our ancestors. Society of Genealogists volunteers have been working hard to make these rare directories from its extensive library collections more readily available for the genealogists and we are delighted to be able to publish this first set of data.” 

Women in Business

We’ve had a hunt through the Business Index Collection and have found a number of successful women included, particularly around the early 1900s. This is fairly surprising considering the historical context of the records. It was not until 1928 that women were granted the right to vote on the same terms as men and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had only opened their degrees to women some eight years earlier.

The successful businesswomen featured in the records include:

 

Helena Normanton – The first woman to practise as a barrister in the UK when she was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1922.BusinessIndex NotablePersonalities1927 305Normanton HELENAalone thumb New Society of Genealogists Family History Collection   Business Index published on line

 

 

Irene Barclay – The first woman in Britain to qualify as a chartered surveyor. Barclay helped to set up a number of housing associations around the country, improving living conditions for many people. 

Dame Lilian Braithwaite – Celebrated actress who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Downhill and Noel Coward’s play The Vortex.

Marion Lyon – The Advertisement Manager of Punch magazine and the only woman to hold a position of this nature in the early twentieth century.

Radclyffe Hall – Author of The Well of Loneliness, a novel about a lesbian relationship published in 1928. The book was declared obscene and was withdrawn from sale.

BusinessIndex NotablePersonalities1927 195Hall RADCLYFFE thumb1 New Society of Genealogists Family History Collection   Business Index published on line

 

 

Lilian Baylis – Manager of the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells theatres. Baylis also ran an opera company that later became the English National Opera, a theatre company that became the Royal National Theatre and a ballet company that became the Royal Ballet.

Debra Chatfield, findmypast.co.uk’s Marketing Manager, comments:

“The Business Index Collection shows us that while our female ancestors were fighting for the right to vote and to go to university, countless women were already business leaders. This is all the more amazing when you consider that today, fewer than 14% of FTSE 100 board positions are held by women.”

Search the Business Index Collection now to see if any of your ancestors are included!

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Findmypast.co.uk have released a fabulous family history resource -  the index and images of  WO96 militia records for 1806-1915. The Findmypast wesbite is available for free at the Society of Genealogists Library

 

The WO 96 Militia Records are a valuable resources for genealogy research-

  • Over half a million records covering 100 years of the militia – the forerunner of The British Territorial Army – published online
  • Records provide unique descriptions of what your ancestors actually looked like
  • Everyday workers including butchers and bakers fighting for their country
  • The British militia was recruited from all over the world

Leading family history website, findmypast.co.uk has published the records of over half a million men who served in the British militia, the precursor to the UK’s Territorial Army. The Militia Service Records, covering 1806 to 1915, have been made available online for the first time to coincide with British Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

The records colourfully portray what the British militia looked like, detailing the height, weight, chest size, complexion, eye colour, hair colour and distinctive marks of each recruit. Arthur Wilson’s distinguishing marks included an acrobat and dots tattooed on his left forearm. Similarly, Albert Smith, born in India, was recorded as having teeth that were ‘defective but enough for mastication’.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk comments: “These records provide rich insight into our past and show how the everyday man, such as your local shopkeeper, found himself fighting for his country. In the absence of photographs, these records can help you imagine what your ancestors looked like, containing details which are largely unavailable elsewhere. Our easy to use website means you can unearth even more fascinating and detailed information about your ancestors at the click of a mouse.”

Like today’s Territorial Army, the militia was made up of men who held everyday jobs, but took part in military exercises and on occasions fought for their country. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, these typically included shoemakers, woodchoppers, butchers, bakers, coal miners and millers.

Charles Godfrey, for example, was a butcher for a Mr Debron in Oxford. Born in the Parish of Botley, Berkshire, Godfrey volunteered for the militia on 25th July 1887 aged 18. Charles served with the 3rd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment and was recorded as being five feet four inches tall with steel grey eyes. 

 

William Spencer, Principal Military Records Specialist at The National Archives, commented: “It took a certain kind of individual to leave a day job as a blacksmith, labourer or barman and enlist as a part time soldier in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the majority never left British shores, many saw active service with the regular army in places such as South Africa during the Second Boer War. Like its modern equivalent, the Territorial Army, the pre-WWI militia offered a way for former soldiers to continue serving their country and civilians a chance to leave humdrum jobs, earn extra money and enjoy the comradeship such services had to offer.”

The Militia Service Records are the only set of their kind available online and have been published in association with The National Archives and in partnership with FamilySearch. The records show that the soldiers who made up the militia during that period hailed not only from the UK itself, but also from around the world. Some recruits had been born in Italy, Ceylon, South Africa and even as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

David Rencher, Chief Genealogy Officer at FamilySearch added: “The publication of the Militia Service Records fills another critical gap in the family historian’s toolkit. The digitisation and indexing of this rich collection will make it easy to find the regiment an ancestor served with and also when and where he was born. Family historians will quickly realise the value of this information, particularly when the record of an ancestor’s birth has been elusive or impossible to find elsewhere.”

ENDS 

For further information or examples of the records, please contact:

Amy Sell

amy.sell@findmypast.co.uk

or

Lauren Hunt-Morgan

0207 566 9729

laurenhm@lansons.com

 

Notes to editors

Armed Forces Day

The release coincides with Armed Forces Day which is taking place on Saturday, 25 June 2011.

The day aims to raise public awareness of the contribution made to our country by those who serve and have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, It also gives the nation an opportunity to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families and from veterans to cadets. In 2011 the National Event will be held in Edinburgh, but there are many more events up and down the country being held in support of Armed Forces Day.

 

Full list of places of birth as recorded in the Militia Service Records:

Africa

Australia

Canada

Channel Islands

East Indies

England

Spain

France

Germany

Gibraltar

Greece

India

Isle of Man

Ireland

Italy

Ceylon

Malta

New Zealand

Russia

South America

Scotland

At sea

West Indies

Wales

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