National Archives Archives


The National Archives Announces Catalogue and Documents Online Updates

Updates from TNA

For those who couldn’t attend the recent (and excellent) Catalogue Awareness Day, The National Archives has announced the completion of various cataloguing projects and gives some information on various new and ongoing projects on it website.

Details of some of the completed cataloguing projects including the addition of the surnames of the parties in C11 Chancery Pleadings 1714-1758 or the conversion of many of the old supplementary finding aids can be found on the catalogue projects pages of TNA’s website .

TNA has some interesting projects on the go including the cataloguing of some of the  MH 12 Poor Law Unions Correspondence with the Poor Law Commissioners and the cataloguing of Royal Navy Medical Officers Journals. See TNA’s website for details.

Also of note are the new additions to  TNA’s DocumentsOnline  service of  the Royal Navy logs of ships on exploration.  There are 164 volumes of logbooks of the Royal Navy’s voyages of scientific discovery, from series ADM 55, now available to search and download.

The Pacific, the Arctic, Australia and beyond.
Mostly kept by naval captains, masters, lieutenants and masters’ mates, these volumes offer a first-hand account of the day-to-day activities of the exploration party, giving a picture of life aboard ship. The information in the logs and journals was used by the Hydrographic Office to produce charts and other data.

Many famous officers kept logs held in this collection, including James Cook, William Bligh and Matthew Flinders. Covering numerous areas across the globe, the records were made between 1757 and 1861, except those of the ‘Morning’, which were made in 1904.

Climate change research
The logs also include scientific information gathered during a voyage and detailed daily accounts of the weather they encountered.  The meteorological observations in these logbooks have become a very valuable source of climatic information for scientists today and have therefore been digitised as part of the UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy Logbooks (CORRAL) project, funded by the Joint Information System Committee (JISC).

It usally costs £2.00 to download a log book or journal from DocumentsOnline, at home but you can download the index of ships within catalogue reference ADM 55 free of charge. Documents online can of course be searched free of charge at TNA, Kew or in the Society of Genealogists’ Library.

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Some Gretna Green Marriages Online at Ancestry and Free at SoG

Ancestry.co.uk has launched online the largest single collection of records of some 10,000 marriages which took place at Gretna Green in the 18th and 19th centuries. These Gretna Green Marriage Registers, 1795-1895 detail the weddings of more than half of all those who crossed the Scottish border so that they could marry without their parents’ consent. Access to these records on the Ancestry.co.uk database is free at the Society of Genealogists’ Library.

Each record details the full names of both husband and wife, their respective locations of residence, and the date of their wedding. The original collection, also referred to as the ‘Lang Registers’ were purchased by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies some years ago. They contains the marriage records of Gretna Green’s most prolific minster, David Lang, who was renowned for his ‘immodest air’ and clerical style.

Gretna Green became a popular destination for young English elopers after Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, passed in 1753, required parental permission for all couples wanting to marry under the age of 21. This law did not apply in Scotland where boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12. A free infomation leaflet about these Irregular Border Marriages and where other records might be found is available from the General Register Office for Scotland. Some transcripts of other registers are held in the Society’s library.

A mile inside the Scottish border, Gretna Green was the first changing post in Scotland for the stagecoaches on the main route from London to Edinburgh. It was also the first place couples arrived at when eloping to Scotland, resulting in thousands of weddings taking place in what quickly became known as Britain’s ‘marriage capital’.

Almost anybody could conduct a marriage ceremony in Scotland as long as two witnesses were present. This resulted in a range of tradesmen, including many blacksmiths given that Gretna Green was a changing post, setting themselves up as ‘ministers’ and charging for their services.

Dubbed ‘Anvil Priests’ by the locals, ceremonies were often conducted over the anvil with the blacksmith officiating, which was why the blacksmith and his anvil have come to symbolise Gretna Green weddings.

In order to restrict the rising number of couples eloping to Gretna, Parliament passed an act in 1857 that required for one of the parties to have resided in Scotland for a minimum of three weeks prior to the wedding for the marriage to be recognised in England.

Gretna Green marriage rates were never quite the same thereafter yet its reputation as the ‘Las Vegas of the UK’ remained and lives on today.

Gretna Green wedding scandals have made newspaper headlines since the mid 1700s. Among the records are a number of notable people and famous nuptials, including:

The Shrigley Abduction – A national scandal in 1826, Edward Wakefield duped wealthy 15-year-old heiress Ellen Turner into marriage at Gretna Green by claiming her father, a wealthy mill owner and Sheriff of Cheshire, was a fugitive and if she would agree to marry Wakefield, her father would be saved. Ellen consented and they were married on the 8th of March 1826 by blacksmith David Lang. Gretna Green Lang Register Shrigley Abduction 245x300 Some Gretna Green Marriages Online at Ancestry and Free at SoG

John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham – The marriage of the British Governor General and High Commissioner of British North America known as ‘Radical Jack’ to Lady Louisa Grey is recorded in 1816. Also a British Whig statesman and colonial administrator, Lambton was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1837 for his political work at home and abroad.

The Gretna Green Marriage Registers, 1795-1895 were transcribed as part of the Ancestry World Archives Project, which provides the public with indexing software and training support to enable them to contribute in making even more historical records available and searchable online. To date, thousands of Britons have contributed their time to this project. As the original marriage certificates which comprise this collection were badly age damaged, Ancestry experts also spent many months conserving them before they were digitized.

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National Library of Ireland Launches New Sources Online Directory

The National Library of Ireland’s has launched a new digital directory of Irish studies called Sources

The National Library of Ireland’s new digital directory of Irish studies  means researchers can now retrieve any one of up to 196,574 catalogue records of materials housed in the National Library of Ireland or in universities and research institutions around the world. Subjects covered in the materials range from art, architecture and archaeology through economics and genealogy to history, politics, literature, science and zoology. This is a first class resource for genealogists looking for the records of landowners and estates in Ireland where our ancestors may have been tenants.

As a result of being able to source this information on line, the initial research period is now reduced from at least several days to just a few minutes.

The ‘Sources’ digital directory pinpoints exactly what Irish interest material is held where – information which previously could only be accessed by consulting the bulky printed catalogues in either the National Library of Ireland in Dublin or one of a limited number of university libraries or major research institutions holding the complete set of printed records. With the click of a mouse anyone can now access the Sources database via a PC and can start the process of researching what material exists on a particular topic, and in what library or institution around the world that material is held.

For the first time, it will be possible to search the manuscript and periodicals records together. As a result, someone doing research on their local area might find information about manuscript maps, estate papers and business records for local shopkeepers, as well as details for articles in local history journals. Once the records are found, the information can be easily emailed or shared to bookmarking and social networking sites such as Delicious and Twitter. Other features of ‘Sources’ include an interactive map showing the location of all the archives and libraries around the world where the Irish material listed is stored. Full contact details for each outlet are also provided.

The current process of digitising the original ‘Hayes Sources’ data represents an investment of several years’ work by the National Library of Ireland. Commenting on the launch, Aongus Ó hAonghusa, Director, National Library of Ireland noted:

“For decades, the original Manuscripts Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation, or ‘Hayes Sources’ as it is more commonly known, proved to be a tried and trusted resource for researchers in any and all fields of study relating to Ireland and its people, at home and abroad.

“Now, it has been given a new life, and a slightly less unwieldy name, in an online arena. The unprecedented opportunity it will provide for current and future generations of researchers worldwide to find Irish source material from their desktops, wherever they may be, would surely have pleased Richard Hayes and his dedicated team who first embarked on this mammoth indexing task almost 70 years ago.”  Hayes work was originally pubished as  Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation and Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals. The original hard copy of Manuscript Sources was contained in 11 volumes produced in 1965, with a further three volumes produced in a supplement in 1975. That project created a portal to a vast amount of manuscripts housed in repositories in Ireland and elsewhere. Periodicals Sources was published in nine volumes in 1970 and includes bibliographic references to articles appearing in some 157 publications, the earliest of these commencing in 1785.

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New Online Resources from TNA Available Free at the SoG

In this week of Remembrance The National Archives have published  datasets for RAF Officers and Soldiers of the First World War. Both these datasets can be viewed free of charge on the Society of Genealogists Library.


 
The National Archives has made 99,000 RAF officers’ service records available online through its Documents Online pay per view service for the first time. These records are easily searchable by first name, last name and date of birth, and were previously only accessible to visitors at the Kew site. The courageous aviators of the early Royal Air Force (RAF) played a crucial role in Britain’s victory in the First World War. Among the service records available are some of the country’s most celebrated and famous pilots – known as ‘Aces’ for having shot down five or more enemy aircraft. Documents Online is available free of charge at the SoG Library

In addition and in partnership with The National Archives, Ancestry.co.uk has now made available online the entire collection of British Army World War One Service Records, 1914-1920, detailing the full military careers of more than two million soldiers who served during World War One. Ancesry.co.uk is available free of charge at the SoG library

Service records contain a variety of information concerning all aspects of the army careers of those who completed their duty were killed in action or executed. They include the soldier’s name, date and place of birth, address, next-of-kin, former occupation, marital status, medical records, service history, regiment number, locations of service and discharge papers.

The files were chosen for digitisation because they are one of the most popular resources accessed at The National Archives and, prior to now, only available in microfilm format. Digitising the microfilm records makes these valuable records easier to search and more accessible to a wider audience.

Approximately 60 per cent of the paper originals of the service records were destroyed by fire when the War Office (in London) was struck by a bomb in 1940 during an air raid. The surviving 32.5 million records became known as the ‘Burnt Documents’.

Together, the service and pension records form the definitive source of information in existence on more than three million ordinary soldiers who fought in the British Army during World War One. The sheer volume of material has meant that the collection has been digitised in stages. The final tranche of digitised files comprised of those records from O to Z.  The process has taken three years to complete.

Among the surviving service records are those of a number of both brave soldiers and celebrities, including :

Basil Rathbone – the British actor, best known for the portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in 14 movies between 1939 and 1946, enlisted in the London Scottish Regiment in 1916. The discharge papers within his service record describe his eyes and hair as ‘dark’ and his complexion as ‘fresh’.

George Peachment – George’s service record reveals he was awarded the Victoria Cross – an accolade he received for his bravery in saving the life of an officer near Hulluch, France, where he was later killed in action. His record also features a letter from his mother requesting his personal effects after his death and a journalist requesting a photograph of him.

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190,000 Welsh Wills Online – Free to View at National Library of Wales

News from the National Library of Wales – 190,000 Welsh Wills Online
The National Library of Wales has good news for family historians, social historians … and the inquisitive! Over 190,000 Welsh wills (some 800,000 pages) have been digitised and are now available on the Library’s website or direct on our online catalogue and are free to view.

Wills which were proved in the Welsh ecclesiastical courts before the introduction of Civil Probate on 11 January 1858 have long been deposited at The National Library of Wales. An online index and an opportunity to view digital images of these wills within the Library building has been available for sometime, however, remote users are now also be able to view the digital images.

Amongst the collection is the will of Twm Siôn Cati alias Thomas Johnes, Fountaine Gate, Caron (SD1609-20), this year being the 400th anniversary of his death. The will of Howell Harris, the famous Welsh religious reformer can also be seen (BR1773-51).

As well as being a fabulous source of information the National Library’s online wills offer the ability to view all 193,000 wills free of charge, a service few other similar institutions are able to offer. Whilst most institutions charge readers to view their documents, the Library only charges for providing copies of them.

In addition to the images of the Welsh wills anyone can request a printed copy of any will by completing the online enquiry form quoting the reference number of the will e.g. BR1773-51.
The covering dates of the surviving probate records are available for the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions:

Bangor: 1635 – 1858
Brecon: 1543 – 1858
Chester (Welsh wills): 1557 – 1858
Hawarden: 1554 – 1858
Llandaf: 1568 – 1857
St Asaph: 1565 – 1857
St David’s: 1556 – 1858

At the moment no digital images are available for Hawarden, Brecon or St Asaph pre 1660.
The Society of Genealogists Library  has long held printed indexs to the Welsh wills proved in many of the Welsh Courts and  the indexes are listed on the SoG website website  and library catalogue.

This online resource from the National Library of Wales will suplement the references in these indexs.
A link to the National Library of Wales website  http://cat.llgc.org.uk/cgi-bin/gw/chameleon?skin=profeb&lng=en

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