Saturday, November 20th, 2010 at
Anyone researching their family history in Devon will regret the loss of much of the county’s probate material in the 2nd world war. However the Society of Genealogist’s family history library in London holds indexes and transcripts of a number of Devon wills that were made before the loss, and some of these have now been made available on the Members’ Area of the Society’s website.
The Fothergill collection is a typical example. It was compiled in the early 1900s by Gerald Fothergill (1870-1926), an eminent genealogist and historian who lived in London. It is not clear why he compiled abstracts of sundry Devon wills, but he evidently went to Exeter and Taunton to study and abstract them, since almost all were proved and kept in one or other of those places. The abstracts can be found in the Middle library and an online index can be searched here.
Another book at the Society lists wills and administrations proved or granted at the Peculiar Court of the Dean of Exeter, from the 1630s to 1857. All the original probate copies of wills proved in this court were destroyed in 1942. This list therefore presents (with a few exceptions) the only surviving evidence that well over a thousand Devon individuals did in fact leave wills or had their estates administered.
The jurisdiction of the Dean’s Court covered the parish of Braunton (north-west of Barnstaple) and the Cathedral Close. The latter area seems not to have been an actual parish, but merely the area immediately around the cathedral in Exeter. Many of those who lived in the Cathedral Close worked in or for the cathedral in some way. The index can be searched here.
A third work lists wills and administrations proved or granted at the Peculiar Court of the Vicars Choral of Exeter, from the 1630s to 1857. How and why the singing men in the choir at Exeter Cathedral came to have their own court is not known. Woodbury, the only parish which came under their jurisdiction, is a large one, not far south-east of Exeter. An average of about four wills/administrations per year were dealt with, though this varied depending upon the time period. The index can be searched here.
The Devon Wills Project is seeking to gather details of as many Devon wills as possible and the Society is grateful for their help in compiling these indexes..
Head of Library Services
Saturday, November 13th, 2010 at
The Society of Genealogists houses the finest collection of family history records in the country. However in addition to its physical library in London it also makes some of its records available to Members over the internet.
One set of records to be found on the Members’ Area of its website will be of particular interest to those with Wiltshire ancestry. The Wiltshire Wills’ Beneficiaries Index was originally created by Mary Trace and Pat Wilson who donated it to the Society a number of years ago. It is particularly useful to family historians as it lists not just the testator (the person making the will) but also the beneficiaries (those who were left bequests).
Covering thousands of wills, administrations & other probate records of Wiltshire people for the period 1800-1858, the index lists the beneficiary’s relationship to the deceased, his/her place of residence and occupation (if this was recorded in the original document). However it does NOT contain details of the bequests themselves – for this you will need to view the original (held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre).
Non-members can carry out a basic search here but to view the full record you will need to be a member of the Society of Genealogists
Head of Library Services
Friday, November 5th, 2010 at
Announcing “Start Your Family Tree Week”- 26 Dec 2010 – 1 Jan 2011
The holiday season between Christmas and New Year is a great time to statr your family history. Families will have come together and the stories have come out. Serious family historians will have time to use that new genealogical software and update their family trees.
Family history websites findmypast.co.uk and Genes Reunited are getting together to launch the first “Start you family tree week” in the UK. From Boxing Day 2010 right through to New Year’s Day there’ll be special offers and activities available every day on both websites, including free getting started guides, printable charts, discounts, competitions, and lots more. This new initiative has the support of the Society of Genealogists and the Federation of Family History Societies. It is anticipated that further partners and websites will become involved, with the aim of getting more people of all ages to discover more about their family history over the Christmas period.
Look out for the “Start your Family History” week promotions on the SoG website and newsblog where the Society of Genealogists will make available downloadable pdfs of our 10 tips for starting your family history, a 4 generation pedigree chart and updated Start your Family History Information leaflet
Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager of findmypast.co.uk commented: “We know from our customer surveys that Boxing Day is one of the most popular days of the year for people to research their family history. With the family gathered around for the festivities, it’s the perfect time to quiz the older generations on what they remember about the family, and get the youngsters inspired too about this rewarding and fascinating hobby. And with many people not working between Christmas and New Year, you’re more likely to have time on your hands to get down to some serious record searching.”
Details of what’s on offer each day will be posted every day from Boxing Day onwards on the findmypast blog http://blog.findmypast.co.uk/ and Genes Reunited blog http://blog.genesreunited.co.uk/
Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 at
If so you may find him/her mentioned in the Polish collection held at the Society of Genealogists family history library in London. These records were compiled by Antoni and Stella Szachnowski, members of the Catholic Family History Society, and donated to the Society of Genealogists in November 1999.
An index to part of the collection is now available on the Members Area of the SoG website. The first section (Polish Subsistence) includes returns of Polish refugees receiving assistance from the Grant voted by Parliament between 1838 and 1841.
The second section (Polish genealogy) covers a diverse range of records listing Polish immigrants. These include entries from the registers of the Chapel of the Virgin Mary of Czestochowa, baptisms from St Peter Apostulate, Electoral rolls for St Pancras (1891), Lambeth (1891), St Marylebone (1892) and Westminster Borough (1908), plus entries from the1841 Census of Portsea in Hampshire, the Polish Refugee Hospital and naturalisation records.
Two further boxes of correspondence and papers assembled by Mr and Mrs Szachnowski but not indexed on the Members’ Area can be found amongst the Society’s Special Collections.
To search the above records click here. To view the full details you will need to be a member of the Society of Genealogists.
Tim Lawrence (Head of Library Services)
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 at
The Society has many useful, informative and unique original records that can not be found anywhere else in the world. The Teachers’ Registrations for example, came to the Society in 1997 and give details of nearly 100,000 people who taught in England and Wales between 1870 and 1948; more than half of those are women. Click here to find out more about these records and other Treasures of the Society.