A one-hour lecture with Geoff Swinfield on Wednesday, 17 April at 2pm, cost £6.00/£4.80 SoG members. This lecture must be must be pre-booked and pre-paid, through our website or by telephone: 020 7553 3290. SoG members should enter the online shop after logging on to the MySoG section of our website. Do you have a question? email the events department.
Family History Getaway: Breaking Further Through Brick Walls, a week-long intensive course 8-12 April
Spend a week on your family history with the Society of Genealogists. The SoG is hosting a follow-up to its very successful five day extensive genealogy programme in its Library in London. Attendees on this course are expected to have either attended the first Getaway held last September or to have a a good and practical knowledge of genealogical research using online databases, indexes and finding aids back into the early 1800s. This intensive course will concentrate on researching before 1837 and focuses on using techniques and resources, at the SoG and elsewhere, to tackle genealogical conundrums and take your family history further. However, there will be plenty of opportunity to concentrate on your own research as use of the Society’s extensive genealogical library is included in the course and there will be opportunities for personal consultations with the tutors and members of the SoG’s expert help and advice team.
Every day from 10:30-17:00, 8-12 April. Cost £198.00/£165.00 SoG members, includes lunch. This course must be must be pre-booked and pre-paid, through our website or by telephone: 020 7553 3290. SoG members should enter the online shop after logging on to the MySoG section of our website. For a full programme, email the events department.
Welsh Baptisms, Marriages and Burials Published Online for First Time on Findmypast and Free at SoG Library
Today, in honour of St David’s Day, leading family history website www.findmypast.co.uk has announced the launch of the first tranche of parish records from Wales – part of a major new project with the Welsh County Archivists Group and the National Library of Wales.
3,878,862 million records from parish registers from the Church in Wales can now be searched for the first time online from today comprising:
1,418,921 baptism records covering 1538-1911
950,254 marriage records covering 1539-1926
340,002 marriage banns covering 1701-1926
1,169,685 burial records covering 1539-2007
These records cover the counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Glamorganshire.
Over the following weeks approximately 5 million more Welsh parish records from Anglesey, Brecknockshire, Caernarvonshire, Merionethshire, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire, Pembrokeshire and Radnorshire will be added to the website, enabling anyone to search the complete parish records from Wales online for the very first time.
Catherine Richards, county archivist from the Welsh Archives, said: “Archive Services in Wales hold a wealth of information, and our written history reflects the rich culture and heritage of the Welsh nation. Celebrating family history has had a long tradition in Wales. Welsh Law made it essential for people to know how they were descended from an ancestor and the ancient patronymic system was an important way of conveying and reaffirming lineage. The importance of tracing Welsh roots has been revived through modern genealogy. Parish registers provide one of the primary sources for the family historian and help to bring to life Welsh ancestors from the past.”
Paul Nixon, Content Licensing Manager at www.findmypast.co.uk added: “This is a really exciting development for anyone with Welsh family history. Even if you are currently unaware of your Welsh roots, a simple search of the 46 million UK parish records at www.findmypast.co.uk will now potentially reveal relevant results from the new Welsh Collection, opening up a whole new chapter in your research.”
The records can be accessed within the Life Events section of www.findmypast.co.uk and are free to search. The transcripts and handwritten images of the original parish registers can be viewed with PayAsYouGo credits or with a Full subscription to www.findmypast.co.uk. The full findmypast.co.uk website is free to view in the library of the 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.
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.
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.