Was your ancestor poor?

If so the Society of Genealogists’ family history library may contain records relating to their life.

One particularly useful type of record for tracing poorer ancestors is the Settlement Examination. Under the laws of settlement which were introduced by the Poor Law Act of 1601, people were only entitled to claim poor relief in their legal place of settlement (ie. The parish where they had been living for at least one month).

After the Settlement Act of 1662, people could obtain a settlement in any parish through marriage, apprenticeship, domestic service for over a year or by occupying property worth more than £10 per annum. Anyone not fulfilling these criteria was liable to be removed to their original parish.

After 1697, poorer people had to carry a settlement certificate with them to show that their parish of legal settlement would take them back if necessary. If they requested poor relief, the parish they had moved to would examine them to see where their legal right of settlement lay. The resulting settlement examination books are a rich source for researchers.

The entries might include details of a person’s birthplace and working career as well as the names and ages of dependent children. They may also include details of their recent whereabouts and other incidental detail about their life.

Recently a name index to the Settlement examination books for 1708-1750 for St Martin in the Fields, a large parish in Westminster, has been added to the Members’ Area of the Society of Genealogists website. These books have been indexed by a group of dedicated volunteers at the Westminster Archives Centre, and Society of Genealogists’ volunteers have helped with the project by typing up some of the index cards.

Search the index for 1708-1731 or 1732-1750. If you find an entry relating to your ancestor you can order a photocopy of the original from Westminster Archives for £4.00 by clicking here (quoting full reference)

The Society is most grateful to Westminster Archives for permission to include this index on the Members’ Area.

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Genealogists will be delighted that Ancestry.co.uk  has just launched  the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 - an index to more than six million wills proven across the 19th and 20th centuries .

A free information leaflet for using wills as part of your family history can be found on the Society of Genealogists website

 ‘Probate’ refers to the court’s authority to administer a deceased estate, including granting representation to a person or persons to administer that estate.

In 1857, the Court of Probate Act saw the power to administer estates transfer from the church to the state and it is the probate calendar books, in which grants are summarised and collated annually by the state, that are now on Ancestry.co.uk. Note there are some gaps in the coverage of the calendars found on Ancestry’s site but they hope to add the missing volumes when they get the chance. Currenty the following  are not covered : 

“the books for the years 1858-1860 and there are some gaps for the years 1863, 1868, 1873, 1876, 1877, 1883, 1888, 1899-1903 and 1910-1911″
 

 

In addition to the material value of the estate, probate calendar books provide a rich source of information for family history enthusiasts as each entry may also include the name of the deceased, the date and place of death, the name of the executer and, in some cases, bequest recipients. The calendars lokk like this

Included in the index are numerous famous names such as once-rich polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who died in 1922 leaving an estate of just £556 (£20,000 today), having lost his fortune in failed money-making schemes while allegedly trying to recapture the adventure of his youth.

Fittingly, the anti-capitalist Karl Marx died in 1883 almost as poor as Shackleton, leaving just £250 (£23,000 today) to his youngest daughter Eleanor.

In contrast, Thomas Holloway, a man who made his fortune selling medicines and ointments, left one of the largest estates in the index, worth £600,000 in 1883 – the equivalent of £55 million today.

Anyone able to locate an ancestor in the England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1861-1941 will be able to delve further into that person’s life, learning more about their social standing and worldly possessions.

As more than two million living Britons claim to know of a wealthy ancestor or a lost fortune in the family, for the first time many of us will now be able to go online and trace our own family’s missing millions.

Individual entries may also reveal details about the fate of the deceased. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that of Edward John Smith, captain of the ill-fated Titanic, reveals that he was ‘lost at sea’, as do the listings of first-class passengers Benjamin Guggenheim and John Astor, and ship’s builder Thomas Andrews.

Other notable names include:

  • Charles Darwin – the acclaimed naturalist Charles Robert Darwin is listed as having left a personal estate worth £146,911 (around £13 million today) when he died in 1882
  • John Cadbury – the ‘King of Chocolate’ John Cadbury died with a personal estate of £43,773 (around £4.2 million today) when he died in 1889
  • Charles Dickens – the famous Victorian author Charles John Huffham Dickens died leaving ‘effects under £80,000’ (around £7.1 million today) when he died in 1870

Also included are legendary cricketer W G Grace (in 1915 with £7,278 – £620,000 today), former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (in 1940 with £84,013 – £3.5 million today), scientist Michael Faraday (in 1867 with £6,000 – £500,000 today), and authors Lewis Carroll (in 1898 with £4,145 – £450,000 today) and Arthur Conan Doyle (in 1931 with £63,491 – £3,000,000 today).

Those using the England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1861-1941 can obtain a full copy of the wills listed from the Probate Registry,  (address on the SoG information leaflet on Wills) which will help them to uncover further information such as details of the deceased’s family and additional detail about the estate.

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New Family Relatives Navy Dataset available free at Society of Genealogists

Family Relatives tell us they just digitised the most comprehensive online collection of Royal Navy Lists  covering intermittent years from 1847- 49, 1882 and 1913-1945.

More than 2 million names are included in the Lists which date from the mid – 19th Century (or the Eleventh Period in Navy History) when Britain was involved in a number of conflicts.  Regular readers at the SoG will be familiar with the Navy Lists of Officers as the Society’s run of these books goes back to 1756. These records of commissioned officers of the Royal Navy dating back 163 years have been published online for the first time by Familyrelatives.com

The Royal Navy has played a central role in Britain ’s history for centuries. It is the oldest of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and is the Senior of the three Services. Founded by Henry VIII a professional and national naval force was in existence when King Charles II came to the throne in 1660.  At the time he inherited a huge fleet of 154 ships and it was the beginning of the Royal Navy as we know it today.

British ships and sailors were symbols of the nation’s dominance until the 20th Century but this dominance was driven not only by great naval supremacy and naval leaders but by Britain ’s industrial advance and technology which helped to shape the future of warfare. From the beginning of the 19th century until well into the 20th century it was the most powerful navy in the world at a time when Great Britain was the world’s only superpower.

The Navy List runs like a catalogue of history – The Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, the occupation of Beijing and Egypt all of which involved the supply of troops and the protection of troop transports and much later conflicts such as the Boer War and the forcing of the Dardanelles in the First World War.

The Navy Lists contain the details of all Royal Navy and Royal Marine commissioned officers on the Active List of those serving at the time of publication. It was said that every Captain in the Navy had a copy of the list as he was always anxious to know the exact status and seniority of other officers he met.

The information covers every aspect of both Royal Navy and Royal Marine officers whether Active, Retired or on the Reserve Lists, from the date they entered the Service. The List of appointments range from navy and marine cadets to Admirals of the Fleet. Masters and Commanders are featured alongside Physicians, Paymasters and even wounded officers. There is even a section on officers dress regulations, awards and decorations. An important part of the records is the Lists of Ships in the Navy with their Commanders and Officers names as well as Commissioned Packet Ships and Revenue Vessels, together with captured prize ships and their bounties.

For example the 1934 List of Ships and Vessels includes Submarines of the Royal Navy, also the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy arranged in their various classes, their Officers and present Stations. The lists also include RAF Units for Naval Cooperation which was extensive at the time.

The following detailed information is also disclosed:

The type of ship and where deployed, the Displacement Tonnage, the indicated horse power or shaft horse power and the main armament.  (This excludes field guns and machine guns used by the navy as an auxiliary land force as in the siege of Ladysmith).

The Name and first names of Officers is shown with an initial denoting his qualification for duties i.e. G for Gunnery duties, T for Torpedo duties, N for Navigating duties, S for Signalling Duties, W/T for Wireless Telegraphy duties, or I paid as an Interpreter. The dates shown are the dates of first appointment to a ship and where two dates are shown for a Marine Officer, the date in brackets indicates when his current sea time commenced.

 

An example of the search results screen for the Navy List search on Family Relatives can be seen below

FamilyRelativesNavyListsearch1934 thumb New Family Relatives Navy Dataset available free at Society of Genealogists

Family Relatives is one of the free genealogy websites available in the Society’s Library

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Treasures Tuesday (15th June 2010) Bonds.

The Society’s ‘Special’, ‘Topographical’ and ‘Document’ collections all hold various legal documents. Click here to find out more about Bonds and other Treasures of the Society.

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web button Pharos SoG course1 Society of Genealogists and Pharos Announce New Family History Skills & Strategies Distance Learning Course

 The Society of Genealogists and Pharos Teaching & Tutoring today announced a new joint programme, the distance learning Certificate of Family History Skills and Strategies (intermediate).

 


The Society of Genealogists, in conjunction with Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd is now bringing its popular classroom programme to the Web. Following successful pilot courses last year, the Society and Pharos have teamed up to make available a full course of instruction, with  optional assessment, to any interested genealogist anywhere in the world. First modules in the Skills and Strategies programme will be offered in September 2010. It will be possible to complete all 10 modules in an 18 month period. 

The modules are listed here in alphabetical order:

Apprenticeships & Guilds
Employment Records
Lists & Sources from Georgian England
Migration in the British Isles
Military Records
Nonconformity in England and Wales
The Poor, the Parish and the Workhouse
Victorian Crime & Punishment
Wills and Administrations
17th Century Sources

Tutors include the well-known authors and genealogists, Gill Blanchard, Liz Carter, Else Churchill, Simon Fowler, Sherry Irvine, Michael Isherwood and Stuart Raymond. All have made significant contributions to the world of family history and bring a wide array of records knowledge and teaching experience to the online classroom.

The Skills and Strategies course is suitable for genealogists who have had at least two years experience in family history research in England & Wales and have mastered the fundamentals of census, civil registrations and parish registers but who now wish to move on to new records and a greater understanding of research methods and skills.

Students choosing to take all ten modules as a full programme with assessments leading to the Intermediate Certificate can sign up now at an introductory price of £450. This represents a saving of £42.90 on the full listed price.  Each module is monitored by the Society to ensure excellent standards of content and teaching.

Students may, alternatively, choose not have work assessed and to take any arrangement of individual topics. Courses taken individually without assessment cost less.
 
Find out more or enroll  for this great learning opportunity

Information about the course and a link for bookings can also be found on the Society of Genealogists’ website

Helen Osborn, Managing Director of Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd, said today

“We are very pleased to continue and build on our collaboration with the Society of Genealogists. We know that many Pharos students are interested in working towards a certificate that acknowledges their achievements and that others are looking for a wider range of choice in online programmes. The Skills and Strategies course meets those needs, offered by organizations and teachers with shared standards of excellence.”
                                                         

Else Churchill, Genealogists at the Society & tutor on the new programme, said today

“The Society of Genealogists is delighted join forces with Pharos to offer the highly regarded SoG courses and education programme to a wider audience than can attend the Society’s classes in London. The Skills and Strategies course will offer a practical opportunity for family historians to take their research further and to develop their own expertise and understanding of genealogical sources and techniques.”

 

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