FIND ANY VILLAINS OR VICTIMS LURKING IN YOUR FAMILY HISTORY?

Else Churchill, Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists,  can be seen on Sky News on Wednesday 21 February (about 10.30ish) talking about the latest digital release of 2.5 million criminal records to be published online for first time by Findmypast.co.uk.

The biggest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales is being published online for the first time by leading family history site findmypast.co.uk in association with The National Archives. Access to Findmypast and these records are available free at the Society of Genealogists.

Over 2.5 million records dating from 1770-1934 will be easily searchable and provide a wide variety of colour, detail and fascinating social history, chronicling the fate of criminals ranging from fraudsters, counterfeiters, thieves and murderers and their victims.

 

They contain mugshots, court documents, appeal letters, examples of early Edwardian ‘ASBOs’- where habitual drunks were banned from pubs and entertainment venues -and registers from the prison ‘hulk’ ships, which were used when mainland prisons were overcrowded. One such hulk, the ‘Dolphin’, housed 6,000 prisoners between 1829 and 1835.

 

Amelia dyer 2.5 million criminal records to be published online for first time by Findmypast.co.uk

Police photo of Amelia Dyer after arrest, 1896 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are details of Victorian serial killers including Amelia Dyer, who, between 1880 and 1896, is believed to have murdered 400 babies by strangling them with ribbon and dumping them in the Thames. The records show she was hanged at Newgate Prison in 1896 aged 58.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another particularly gruesome murderer who appears in the Crime, Prisons and Punishment records is Catherine

Kate Webster filtered 2.5 million criminal records to be published online for first time by Findmypast.co.uk

English: Kate Webster (1849? – 29 July 1879), the killer of Julia Martha Thomas (the “Richmond Murder” or the “Barnes Mystery”) Português: Kate Webster (1849-1879), a assassina do “Mistério de Barnes” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Webster, who the records show killed widow Julia Martha Thomas, 55. She pushed her down the stairs, then strangled her, chopped up her body and boiled it. Julia’s head was found in David Attenborough’s garden in 2010. 

The information in the records comes from a variety of Government departments including the Home Office, Prison Commission, Metropolitan Police, Central Criminal Court and the Admiralty. The records from 1817-1931 will be published first followed by the period 1770-1934 in the coming months.

 

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk , said: “We have been eagerly anticipating the launch of these records that provide an amazing opportunity to trace any villains and victims in your own family.

 

“We have painstakingly published online entire registers containing mugshots of habitual drunks that feature incredible descriptions of criminals’ appearances, demeanour and identifying marks.

 

“The newspaper articles that are available on findmypast.co.uk provide unparalleled detail and show how the crimes were reported when they were committed. This supplements the new criminal records and makes searching through as enjoyable as it is easy, whether you are researching your own family history or are interested in social history.”

 

Paul Carter, Principle Modern Domestic records specialist at The National Archives added: “These records span several government series and show the evolution of the criminal justice system in the nineteenth century as the country dealt with the impact of industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth.

 

“They record the intimate details of hundreds of thousands of people, beginning with judges’ recommendations for or against pardons, to petitions through which criminals and their families could offer mitigating circumstances and grounds for mercy, and later, licences containing everything from previous convictions to the state of a prisoner’s health.

 

“As well as the Georgian highway robber, the Victorian murderer and the Edwardian thief, the courts often dealt with the rural poacher, the unemployed petty food thief or the early trade unionist or Chartist. The records are a fascinating source for family, local and social historians.”

 

ENDS

 2.5 million criminal records to be published online for first time by Findmypast.co.uk

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It is not surprising that an island nation with centuries of maritime tradition should produce seafarers in so many families. The Society’s visit to the Caird Library at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, demonstrated that with a “full house” of 18 Members and their guests; and so keen that they all arrived early! Then we were entertained in a very professional manner by Martin, an archivist and Gregory, a librarian, whose enthusiasm and knowledge of both the subject and the resources was impressive.

The Caird Library is a new building, purpose designed and well suited to both “chatty” researchers and the more serious professional. It is the largest reference library of its kind, holding over 2 million items from the 15th century to the present day including manuscripts, 100,000 books, journals, maps and drawings covering every aspect of maritime history including personal papers, business archives and dockyard records but with remarkably few “official” records, which are mostly available at Kew.

The staff are helpful and keen to promote the use of the library. They cite their main attraction is the breadth and depth of information available in one place at Greenwich compared to the fragmented records that are scattered around so many other record sources, including, even, the University of Newfoundland. A number of Research Guides have been published and the most relevant to genealogist’s are listed below, all of which are available on the Caird Library’s website.

Whilst a good starting point for genealogical research are crew lists, there are numerous supplementary sources such as Masters and Mates Certificates, the Mercantile Navy List, the Royal Navy Lists from 1814, or for an earlier period, the Commissioned Sea officers of the Navy and ships logbooks. Apart from being a source of names, the latter are also a source of entertainment, (much like so many parish registers!). For the family historian, in addition to the well-known Lloyds List and Lloyds Register, there are fascinating additional sources such as the WW2 record of “Movements of HM Ships and Submarines” or “Lloyds Service List of Ships Requisitioned by Government in War” to name but a few.

Clearly, it is only possible here to give a taster of the enormous resources available at Greenwich. Their online catalogues can be accessed at www.collections.rmg.co.uk and their Research Guides, including one specifically for Family History, can be accessed at www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library.  Google have digitised Lloyds Register of Shipping, and Ancestry have digitised and indexed the collection of Masters Certificates (with the usual words of caution about quality).

Finally, of course, a visit to the Caird Library has to include a tour of the magnificent historic buildings in Greenwich Park; but you will need a week for that!

Gregory Toth, one of our hosts, has kindly supplied the following:

The Caird Library The Caird Library is open Monday to Friday, 10.00–16.45 (until 19.45 on Thursday), and 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.45 on Saturday. Entry is via a free Reader’s Ticket which can be applied for online in advance of your first visit, or on the day. To register and to request items to view in the Library, please see Aeon and guidance on using Aeon. To help plan your visit to the Caird Library, our online catalogues can help you identify resources that you may wish to view. See the Library catalogue, the Archives catalogue and Collections Online. A guide to your first visit to the new Caird Library is available. Please note that although we hold lots of collections, maritime history research can be time-consuming so please allow plenty of time for your visit.

Contact details The Caird Library National Maritime Museum Greenwich London SE10 9NF Tel: +44 (0)20 8312 6516 Email: library@rmg.co.uk or manuscripts@rmg.co.uk

Non archive and library enquiries If your enquiry relates to a Museum 3D object, paintings, photographs, plans or images, please contact rmenquiries@rmg.co.uk for your message to be forwarded to the relevant Museum curator.

Research guides The Library has produced a range of research guides to help people carry out their own research on a wide range of topics. The guides provide information about the Museum’s collections and other sources for research into maritime history. All of our guides are available online from home. http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/research-guides/

The most useful might be the following research guides:

Research guide A3: Tracing family history from maritime records Remember that maritime records are not usually a good starting point for compiling a genealogy but they can add considerable detail about seafaring activities of an individual.

Research guide A6: Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum Information includes records of the Greenwich Hospital, the Royal Naval College and Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital.

Research guide B1: The Royal Navy: Tracing people It is important to stress that the service and official records of the Royal Navy and most Admiralty records are deposited with The National Archives, Kew.

Research guide B7: The Royal Navy: Ship records The Archive and Library has many complementary resources which will assist in researching the history, service and crew of Royal Naval ships as our holdings are extremely rich in items on individual ships and actions.

Research guide C1: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Crew lists, agreements and official logs A 10% specimen group of crew agreements for years 1861–1995, taken at random (every tenth box of papers) together with those for famous vessels (with some exceptions, such as those for the Cutty Sark and Great Britain), is in The National Archives. The remaining 90% for 1861, 1862, and years ending in ‘5’, are held by the National Maritime Museum.

Research guide C2: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Master-mariners, mates and engineers All master-mariners operating between 1854–1927 would have been required to hold a certificate, of which many have survived and are now in the care of the National Maritime Museum. These have been digitalised and made available via Ancestry.

Research guide C5: The Merchant Navy: Sources for ship histories Early tax records from the 13th–19th centuries and ship registration records from the 18th century until 1994 are held at The National Archives, Kew and in other archives; but probably the best starting place is Lloyd’s Register. Mercantile Navy List is the Board of Trade official list of all British-registered vessels, which started in 1850. Most annual volumes exist from 1857–1976 and are in the National Maritime Museum library.

Research guide C8: The Merchant Navy: Wrecks, losses and casualties It can be frustrating for researchers that information on shipwrecks and losses is often incomplete, and spread across a broad range of official and non-official sources. However, this is a strong area of interest for many people, and in many cases, other researchers will have already identified the data available and compiled it into published texts. It is therefore wise to consult some of our volumes available in the reading room.

Research guide C9: The Merchant Navy: World War One and World War Two There is a wide range of material both in printed and manuscript form. The National Maritime Museum holds some key works that are likely to assist with most research problems.

Caird Library blog Discover the latest news on the Caird Library blog and do not forget to subscribe to it. http://blogs.rmg.co.uk/library/

-Barry Hepburn

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A Report of our Group Visit to the London Metropolitan Archives, 16 January

A visit to the London Metropolitan Archives Business Collections and Pension Archive may not sound the most stimulating afternoon out, but those members who did attend were treated to a glimpse of a treasure trove of historical and genealogical gems.

It is easy to think of a business collection being little more than a list of dull company financial and employee records. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, the archivist stressed that not only have few such records have survived, but are mostly subject to the 100 year privacy rules.  Whereas there is a wealth of people information in other ‘unofficial’ documents such as employee photographs, local authority licensing and building records, factory production records, company sports club records, etc etc etc. Just one example of an unusual source of names came from the County of London Electricity Company archives.  They regularly published a news magazine throughout the Second World War, listing employees who had been called up for active service, taken prisoner of war, were missing or had been killed in action. These magazines also provided a sharp reminder of some of the wartime hardships when, for example, they apolo-gised for the size of the magazine because they couldn’t obtain enough paper!

Many readers will be aware of the extensive Sun Insurance records held by the LMA’s sister library at the Guildhall, listing policy holders and their addresses. I always assumed, erroneously, that these policies only applied to London, but in fact the Sun Insurance records also cover other parts of the UK. However, for the historian, there are even more fascinating documents in the Sun records. For example, we had the privilege of looking at a thick notebook written in 1868, from their Damascus office, describing that town in the utmost detail, yet most succinctly. Water supplies; abundant. Housing; miserable in the Christian and Jewish quarters. The ledger went on, page after page, to describe in detail the businesses, building construction, the infrastructure and a host of other information. Where else could one find such a detailed contemporaneous account of life in Damascus at that time.

Space does not allow a description of the many other examples that the archivist had provided for our interest, but clearly time spent exploring the LMA catalogue for such unusual and unex-pected records could be rewarding for both the historian and the genealogist. To help in this task, the LMA are producing a Guide To Business Records later this year.

We were also treated to a glimpse behind the scenes of the conservation work that is constantly being undertaken. One example that we were able to see, and almost touch, was a mediaeval Royal Charter of one of the City Livery Companies. One thing that become clear, talking to the conservator, was that in spite of the development of modern scientific materials and processes, conservation was still very much an art. But they still use handmade mulberry paper which, ap-parently, cannot be obtained anywhere else in the world except Japan. Its principal properties being it’s light weight and great strength from its fibrous construction.

Neither were there any standard conservation procedures, other than to do the minimum; conservation, not restoration.  Each document’s requirement was unique and only decided after it had been examined. Conservation practice has changed over the decades to today’s minimalist ap-proach which comprises just enough to support the document. The main object being to reduce long term damage and to ensure repairs are reversible. Indeed, much earlier conservation work now requires revisiting because of the further damage it caused.

A fascinating afternoon well spent and I would commend this visit to everyone should the opportunity arise to repeat it in the future.

-Barry Hepburn

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Look out for the Society of Genealogists on this week’s Find My Past TV show on Yesterday Channel on Tuesday 15 January at 9pm.

300px Dickens may 1852 Look out for the SoG on Find My Past TV show on Yesterday Channel on Tuesday 15 January at 9pm

Copy of a Photograph of Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This episode features a fascinating story concerning the double life of Charles Dickens and features Society of Genealogists’ Else Churchill as she helps reveal how people are related to someone from a significant historical event by searching the records on findmypast.co.uk. We follow their journey as they discover who their ancestor is and the part they played.

This week’s episode goes back to the Victorian era to tell the true story of Charles Dickens’ life. During the 19th century, Dickens was an international celebrity with journalists camped at his house and fans desperately trying to give him locks of their hair.

Ollie Dickens, the author’s great-great-great-grandson, discovers that his infamous ancestor had a dark secret that a fatal rail crash in Kent in 1865 almost exposed.

Travelling with Dickens was Nelly Ternan, a little-known actress. Her descendant, Marcus Allen, discovers that she was Dickens’ mistress and that their secret affair could have destroyed Dickens’ reputation and the sale of his books.

Joy Hillday uncovers her ancestor Henry Benge’s role in the disaster. Benge was in charge of the team of workmen who maintained the track on the day of the crash. An official inquiry reveals the tragic consequences of the crash.

Catch this episode at 9pm on Tuesday 15 January 2013 on the Yesterday channel: Freeview channel 19, Sky 537, Virgin Media 203.

historyhttp://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/find-my-past-tv/series-two-about

 Look out for the SoG on Find My Past TV show on Yesterday Channel on Tuesday 15 January at 9pm

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Society of Genealogists

merrychristmas1 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Society of Genealogists

Society of Genealogists Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Society of Genealogists

English: The Society of Genealogists building in London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Society of Genealogists wishes all our Members and Friends a Very Merry Christmas and hopes that all family historians have every success with their research in the New Year.

 

christmassleigh1 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Society of Genealogists

The Society closes for Christmas at 4pm on Saturday 22 December and reopens at 10am on Thursday 27 December.

The Society will be close for New Year at 4pm on Sat 29 December and reopens at 10am on Tuesday 8 January after stocktaking and Library closed week.

 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Society of Genealogists

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