General Archives


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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FREE Help and Advice with your Family History from the Society of Genealogists

Did you know that the Society of Genealogists offers free advice and assistance with your family history and genealogy. Listen to Else Churchill the genealogy professional at the Society about what and when is available. Further details can be found on our website www.sog.org.uk. Why not subscribe to our blog and mailing list for all the latest information and news about happenings in our family history world not just in the UK but worldwide

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Why Become a Member of The Society Of Genealogists

A member of the Society of Genealogists explains to the Genealogy Officer why he joined the Society and how it has benefited him whilst researching his family history. They discuss the benefits of joining the Society of Genealogists and how it can be of use to anyone reseaching family history and genealogy in England, Scotland and Wales. See www.sog.org.uk for further details or the family history blog at www.societyofgenealogists.com

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New Online Military Records on Ancestry & Family Relatives are Free in SoG Library

A number of new military databases have been published and are avalable to view free of charge in the Society of Genealogists Library

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.

The following are now available to search on Family Relatives:
Anzac Roll of Honour 1914-1919
Artist Rifles
Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy 1660-1815
New Zealand Roll of Honour
Waterloo Roll Call
British Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849
Royal Air Force List – 1920
Royal Air Force List – 1922
Royal Air Force List – 1929
Charterhouse Register 1872-1910 NEW DATABASE!
Tasmanian Nurse’s War Record 1914-1918 NEW DATABASE!
Tasmanian War Record 1914-1918 – Roll of Honour NEW DATABASE!
Indian Army List 1939 NEW DATABASE!
Peninsula Medal Roll 1793-1814 NEW DATABASE!
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1918 NEW DATABASE!
List of the University of Cambridge 1914-1918 NEW DATABASE!
Army Lists NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1798 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1810 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1819 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1824 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1827 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1831 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1836 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1840 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1842 NEW DATABASE!
Army List 1846 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List 1850 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List & Militia List 1857 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List & Militia List 1858 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List & Militia List 1865 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List & Militia List 1868 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List & Militia List 1868 Version 2 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List, Militia List & Indian Civil Service List 1879 NEW DATABASE!
Harts Army List, Militia List, Yeomanry Cavalry List & Indian Civil Service List 1888 NEW DATABASE!
Official Army List 1888 NEW DATABASE!
Officers of the Army and Marines 1816 NEW DATABASE!

Military Records World War I

Army
Royal Navy
Soldiers who died in the Great War
Military Records World War II
Royal Air Force

Both Ancestry and Family Relatives can be searched for free at the SoG library

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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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