Society of Genealogists Archives


Was your ancestor a criminal?

If so you may be able to find out more about him/her at the Society of Genealogists’ family history library in Clerkenwell.

The Society has recently launched a new source to help people find out more about their  criminal ancestors –  an index to 7 issues of the Police Gazette published between 1866 and 1882.

The Police Gazette was a weekly newspaper that the Home Office produced giving details of crimes committed and information wanted by the police. It was sent to every police force in the United Kingdom and contains details of stolen property and wanted people including photographs. The original Gazette, The Quarterly Pursuit, was founded in 1772 by John Fielding, chief magistrate of the Bow Street Police Court. The name was changed to The Police Gazette in 1828, and responsibility for the publication was transferred to Scotland Yard in 1883.

Police Gazette 300x238 Was your ancestor a criminal?

Six supplements were issued on a regular basis containing particulars of (A) active travelling criminals; (B) convicts on licence, persons under police supervision and other wanted people; (C) aliens wanted for crime and alien offences;  (D)  absentees and deserters from HM Forces; (E)  (first issued in 1933) photographs of active criminals. (G)  deaths of people who had previously appeared in the Police Gazette.

An index to 7 issues of the Police Gazette (dating between 1866 and 1882) has now been made available on the Members Area of the Society of Genealogists website. Prepared by Meryl Catty it lists brief details of the criminal together with the Issue/page number of the Gazette in which he/she appears.

NB The Heritage index (as it is known) also includes non-criminals from 23 other sources including the Birmingham Gazette, the Liverpool Mercury and the English Chronicle.

To carry out a free basic search of the Heritage index click here.

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The Society of Genealogists is delighted to welcome Tim Lawrence to his new role as Head of Library Services at the Society of Genealogists.

Tim is well known to staff and Society of Genealogists members as the former Deputy Librarian and has been a valued member of SoG for some years.  Tim and the rest of the library team will ensure the Society of Genealogists Library remains the UK’s premier National Library and Education Centre for Family History serving genealogists around the country and indeed around the world.

TimLawrence thumb Society of Genealogists appoints new Head of Library Services to premier UK family history library

Tim carried out his professional library training at the University of Brighton, where he was awarded a first class honours degree in Information and Library Studies.

He has worked at the Society for 12 years, the last 7 as Deputy Librarian, during which time he has gained a wide ranging knowledge of its unique family history library and archive.

A member of the Society in the early 1980s,Tim has been researching his own family history for more than 30 years, tracing them back to 16th century Lancashire. His wide ranging expertise has always been valuable

On his appointment Tim commented that he was looking forward to the challenges of his new role, particularly bringing the Society’s unique resources to a wider audience through the digitisation of some of its collections.

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Was your ancestor an apprentice?

The Society of Genealogists is delighted to publish My Ancestor was an Apprentice by Stuart Raymond. This new book is full of help and  advice for researchers wanting to access and use apprenticeship records in England, beginning with their origins in Medieval London. My Ancestor was an Apprentice is available at £8.99 from the Society of Genealogists bookshop, and online at www.sog.org.uk

Did your ancestor have a gravestone?

If so you may well find the inscription carved onto it has been preserved in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library, which has the largest collection of such inscriptions in the country. They are a much underused resource, particularly as they can throw light onto the relationship between people buried in a grave.

Now the Society has started to make its collection more widely available by adding some of them to the Members’ Area of its website.

Amongst the first inscriptions to be included are those recorded by the professional genealogist L Haydon Whitehead and donated to the Society in 1985 after his death. They are part of a much larger collection of material compiled by Whitehead that included transcripts of wills, Hearth Tax returns, parish registers, Bishop’s Transcripts etc many of which can be found on the county shelves in the library.

1945 John Elizabeths grave in Preston Cemetery 300x200 Did your ancestor have a gravestone?

The Whitehead collection of gravestone inscriptions focuses on East Anglia, and the greatest number of recordings are for Essex (31,000) and Cambridgeshire (12,000). However there are entries for many other English counties (Derbyshire, for example, has more than 6,000). Some of the stones recorded by Whitehead are no longer legible, making the collection particularly important for family historians.

At present the Members’ Area includes only an index to the Whitehead MIs. The index entries show the name, place, church and year of burial. The full, and often more detailed, inscriptions can be consulted on cards in the Upper Library, or photocopies ordered through the Society’s ‘Search and Copy’ Service. However the cards have recently been scanned and it is hoped to include the full images of them on the Members’ Area in due course.

A basic search of the Members’ Area can be done here by entering the surname you are searching for in the ‘Quick search’ box, but to view the full record you will need to be a member.

To find out if the Society holds the gravestone inscriptions (MIs) for your ancestor’s parish just go to the library catalogue.

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Did your ancestor work on a lifeboat?

If so there may be a reference to him/her in a new family history resource on the Members’ Area of the Society of Genealogists website.

Lifeboat gallantry Did your ancestor work on a lifeboat?The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was formed in 1824 and since then over 2,400 gold, silver and (since 1917) bronze medals have been awarded for gallantry in saving lives from shipwrecks. The book “Lifeboat Gallantry” edited by Barry COX and published by Spink in 1998 provides the first complete list of all such medals to be published, together with details of the acts of heroism involved – incredible feats of endurance and seamanship in the face of adversity.

A copy of the book is held in the Society’s library (shelfmark MED/68) and volunteer Frank Hardy has recently produced an index to all 2644 people mentioned in the text. This index has now been made available on the Members’ Area of the Society’s website and a free basic search can be made here.

If a visit to the library is not possible a photocopy can be ordered through the Society’s Search and Copy Service

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