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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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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Index of Catholic nuns 1598-1914

A recent addition to the Society of Genealogists’ Members Area is an index of Catholic nuns covering the period 1598-1914.

In the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547) all religious houses of women and men were closed. There was a small revival under Queen Mary (1553-1558) but at her death the few nuns who wished to remain so went abroad.

In 1598 a congregation of specifically English nuns was established in the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium). Many more followed and for nearly two hundred years Catholic nuns lived out their lives in the Catholic countries of Europe. Many of their records have been published by the Catholic Record Society and the relevant volumes contain more detailed histories. All these orders were enclosed and the ladies within them lived lives of prayer.

With the advent of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792 most of these convents were expelled. Fortunately they were able to return to England where Catholicism was now legal.

Nuns 244x300 Index of Catholic nuns 1598 1914

With the great expansion of Catholic numbers in the United Kingdom, and especially of poor urban Catholics from the 1840s, many new Orders came to England from the continent to do active work – mostly teaching or nursing. By 1900 there were over 90 religious orders of Catholic women working in the UK.

In the early 1990s the Catholic Family History Society circulated all the organisations of Catholic religious women working in England to ask about the records of individuals. A great many lists were received and computerised and this index (which lists over 12,000 individuals from about 60 orders) is the result. The Catholic FHS has no further information about the women listed here.

In many cases religious orders had a centralised structure and an archivist for the whole order was able to supply a copy of a complete list. The Carmelites and the Sisters of Mercy, however, had no such central structure. Lists were received from particular houses but not from others.

Note that England, Wales and Scotland, with which this index is concerned, formed a quite separate province from Ireland. This index contains a great many Irish women but they have all joined the English Province, not the Irish Province, of their Order. The cut off date was entry in 1914 so very few women born after about 1895 will be found here. However a very few orders sent later material with permission to incorporate it.

Further information on individuals may well be available from the Religious Order concerned. The address of the current religious superior will be found in the Catholic Directory. Most orders have archivists and many of those are members of the Catholic Archives Society. Many have published articles describing their holdings in that society’s journalCatholic Archives of which the Society of Genealogists has a complete run.

To search the index go to the Members Area.

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Was your ancestor a Baptist?

If so ybaptists Was your ancestor a Baptist?ou may find information about them in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library, which holds registers and gravestone inscriptions from many Baptist chapels as well as publications such as the Baptists’ Handbook. The Society has also published a book on how to trace your Baptist ancestry.

Recently however a new resource has been  added to the Members’ Area of the Society’s website to help you in your quest. This lists several thousand births, marriages and deaths occurring in the Baptists’ Magazine from the 18th and 19th centuries.

A significant number of the entries relate to Baptist ministers, deacons and their families, and many women are listed. Some of the entries are particularly useful genealogically eg. Edward Foster’s father and grandfather are shown, together with the year in which they were born. Some of the entries do not appear in the Baptist registers deposited at the National Archives (class RG4), so this may be the only record of a vital event.

Each entry gives a reference to the year of the Baptist Magazine (BM) in which the notice appears. Sometimes (but frustratingly not always) the page number is also given. A complete set of the Baptist Magazine for 1809 – 1890 (except 1856) is held at Spurgeon’s College in South London. The Angus Library and Dr Williams Library also have good coverage of the title.

To search the Baptists’ Magazine index go to the Members’ Area. A basic name search is free but to view the record you will need to be a member.

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Was your ancestor in the British Army?

If so the Society of Genealogists’  family history library may contain details about his time in service. Our collection includes copies of Soldiers’ documents from 1760-1900, a run of the Army Lists from 1740 onwards, many records from the First World War and a good collection of regimental histories to shed background information on what his regiment was doing.

Now the Society’s Members Area has added a new resource to help you in your family history research. Member Nicholas Newington-Irving has gone through the Society’s library collections noting references to Military people mentioned in Journals, local and family histories etc.

The resulting index only includes biographical articles relating to individual soldiers (therefore the contents of works such as the army lists are not included) but it may lead you to information you would not otherwise have found. It relates primarily, but not exclusively, to commissioned officers in the British Army and the pre 1947 Indian Army.

The shelf mark for each item is given but if a visit to the library is not possible a photocopy of the article can be ordered through the Society’s ‘Search and Copy’ service.

A free basic search in the index can be made by going to the Members’ Area and entering the surname you are interested in into the ‘Quick search’ box. To view the full reference you will need to be a member of the Society.

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