Society of Genealogists Library Archives


Early London Parish Registers Indexed Online and Free at Society of Genealogists

 Genealogists will be delighted that Ancestry.co.uk, in partnership with the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives, today launched online for the first time eight million of London’s oldest surviving parish records, charting the history of the city from the 16th century to modern times. This initiative will provide remarkable opportunities for anyone tracing  London family history.

The London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 contain vital records kept at more than 1,000 London parishes, and include some of the few extant records of the English Civil War.

Crucially, these records pre-date Civil Registration, the system introduced by the Government in 1837 to record the ‘vital’ events of its citizen’s lives, including births, marriages and deaths. The only way to trace one of these key events before the 19th century is to use parish registers.

The majority of the parish registers date back to 1538 when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, issued an order that each parish was to keep a register of each baptism, marriage and burial performed there, however the collection also features a few much earlier records. One of the transcripts that is included within the collection is dated 1274.

Russell James from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “These records detail the existence of those living through the fascinating period of the English Civil War, the political consequences of which can still be felt today. The conflict instilled Parliament with genuine power for the first time, while its factions developed into what have become some of our modern political parties.

“As official records were not kept by the government until Civil Registration in 1837, these parish records are essential for tracing anyone who was baptised, married or buried in London before the 19th century.”

Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of London’s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery, comments: “I am delighted that we are able to make these unique historical records available online for the first time and fully name searchable.

 

“Our understanding of the development of London and the lives of millions of Londoners will be greatly enhanced through online access to this information.”

 

The launch of the early parish records marks the completion of the London parish registers, which began in September 2009 with the launch of the ‘modern’ records dating from the early 19th century to the 1980s. A total of 18 million parish records are now online, dating from 1538 to 1980.

Access to these indeed records is available free in the Library of the Society of Genealogists.  Anyone needing  first time help to use the Ancestry website can book a help session with the Society’s Community Officer.  Details of using the Society of Genealogists Library can be found on our main website.

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Was your ancestor a railwaywoman?

Although the majority of people employed by the railways were men, a number of women were also to be found amongst their ranks.

Helena Wojtczak, in her book “Railwaywomen” (Hastings Press, 2005), tells the untold story of the British railwaywoman, charting her progress from exploited drudge in the 1830s to steam engine driver by the 21st century.

railwaywomen1 Was your ancestor a railwaywoman?

A copy of the book is held in the Society of Genealogists’s library in Clerkenwell and Society 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 where a free basic search can be made.

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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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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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