A report of the Society’s visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

On 11 May a small but very keen group was taken around the Grade II listed City of London Cemetery and Crematorium by the Superintendent & Registrar, Gary Burks.  The 1200 acres located on the edge of Epping Forest and across from Wansted Flats and originally farmland,  was originally purchased by the City Corporation in 1853 to provide more space for the already overcrowded burial grounds in the City. The cemetery design was laid out by the well-known City Surveyor, William Haywood, and opened in 1856.

Gary gave us a very thorough background history of the cemetery before  the tour and we were also able to briefly view the burial registers. As the registers are in date order, anyone wanting to have a search done would need to know the approximate date of death in order to find someone in the registers. Searches can be done for a fee, contact the City of London Cemetery for further details. The registers are currently being digitised and the Corporation of London hopes to make them available on the internet in the near future.

Within the cemetery are 7 miles of roads, 600,000 internments, not including the re-interred remains from the burial grounds of 38 historic City Churches . The grounds are very well kept, with extensive gardens, including a 600-bed rose garden, which require 10 staff to maintain.

As the cemetery is becoming full, Gary explained the cemetery’s policy of reusing graves for modern burial. Families are contacted about existing graves (which are known to have depth for at least two more burials). For example, some of the older graves were dug to accomodate around twelve bodies, but may only have two bodies interred and this leaves space for modern burials. A marker is left on the existing grave to notify the public of the intention for planning further burials. On one gravestone we saw, the stone had been reversed in the ground, and the back side (now facing forward) was used to inscribe the name of the newer, additional occupant of the grave.

Surprisingly, the cemetery also has a small cafe on the premises where one can have lunch or a cup of tea after a long trek around the grounds, something which our group happily took advantage of.

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Lloyd’s List Marine News 1740-1837 index and images on online

Another slightly unusual source has been made available for family history 

I’m indebted to Michael Dunn who has sent a note to remind me that the marine news contained in Lloyd’s List for the period 1740-1837 has been indexed by the Guildhall Library, London. Michael has now scanned and made images of the  Lloyd’s List marine news notices to compliment the index and both the images and the link to the Guildhall Library’s index is available at www.1812privateers.org/Bibliography

Michael’s website www.1812privateers.org is intended to provide information on the War of 1812 and the Prisoners of War. American privateers added to the offensive capability of the United States. He draws on sources from the UK at TNA and in North America and the site is extremely interesting.

Lloyd’s List is a newspaper devoted to marine news and shipping movements; principally for the merchant shipping community but now a valuable source for anyone interested in maritime activity of the period. In particular it records the movements of ocean going vessels and marine news of casualties, ‘speakings’ and other events involving individual vessels..

This database has been compiled from copies of Lloyd’s List deposited at Guildhall Library by Lloyd’s of London as part of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection. The database is an index to the marine news section of Lloyd’s List for the period 1740 – 1837. Please note that only the news items are included; the ordinary shipping movements have not been indexed. The news items are remarkable and, as you can see from the example image below, Llods shipping news 09-20-1814 packed with names of ships and their owners showing arrivals and sailings.

Note there are some omissions. The database excludes the years 1742, 1745, 1754, 1756, 1759 and 1778, for which Guildhall Library does not have copies of Lloyd’s List. In addition there are only the Old Style dates January 1 to March 24 for the years 1740, 1743 and 1746.

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Walk: In the Shadow of St Pauls – Cemeteries & Burial Grounds 7 October 2011

This new addition to the Society’s popular ‘Cemeteries & Burial Grounds’ walks, will take place on Friday, 7 October 2011 starting at 2pm. The walk will last approximately two hours and our group  will meet our walk leader, Alec Tritton, at Postman’s Park, behind St. Botolph Aldersgate. Book early as places are limited.

The walk MUST be pre-booked, price £10.00 (£8.00 SoG members). To book a space, visit our secure website or telephone the events department: 020 7553 3290. Do you have a question? email the events department

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Nunhead Cemetery Open Day – 21 May 2011

 The Society will be present at the Nunhead Cemetery Open Day again this year.  We will be manning a small stall, with leaflets and a selection of Society publications.

The Open Day runs from 11a.m. to 5p.m. and admission is free.  There will be guided tours of the cemetery and visits to the chapel and crypt (which are not normally open), as well as various stalls, plant sales, refreshments and a choir in the chapel (!)  See the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery website for further details (www.fonc.org.uk).  If you have not been to Nunhead Cemetery before, it is well worth a visit.  We look forward to seeing you there!



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Final Countdown to Society of Genealogists Centenary Conference 7th May

 Forget the Royal Wedding. Forget the May Bank Holiday. The spring event of 2011 is the Society of Genealogists’ Centenary  Conference at the Royal Overseas League, Park Place,  St James’ Street. London SW1A 1LR on Saturday May 7th

if you are coming to hear our excellent speakers or meet up wth SoG friends and members to celebrate the Society’s 100th  Birthday we are looking forward to seeing you. There are still one or two spaces available and can be booked online through the Society of Genealogists Online Shop

The Conference speakers’ schedule is below


Registration/Tea & Coffee


Welcome – Princess Alexandra Hall

Colin Allen FSG (Chairman of SoG) & Debra Chatfield (Marketing Manager, Find My Past – SoG Centenary Sponsors)

10.30-11.30 Session 1A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Dr Nick Barratt

Chairman: Debra Chatfield:

From Memory to Digital Record: Personal Heritage, Family History and Archives in the 21st Century

An examination of the rise of personal heritage and personal archiving, alongside changes to the way history is disseminated, researched and consumed – mainly driven by broadcast media and the Internet. The challenges to traditional archives are many and varied, and I examine the role of genealogy in expanding the use of non-traditional archives, and the growing influence of oral history and eye-witness accounts that are usually neglected by academic historians

Session 1B – Hall of India

Speaker: Schelly Talalay Dardashti

Chairman: Else Churchill

It’s In Our Genes: A DNA Project Case Study 

This session (by project co-founder/co-administrator) presents the structure of creating and organizing any DNA project, using an established project as a case study. It covers setting project goals and joining criteria; how to publicize the project; persuading participants to join; results and surprises, advertising results and communicating with participants.

The program focuses on IberianAshkenaz DNA. Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com as a case study, but is equally applicable to a DNA project covering any ethnicity. This project attempts to prove the family stories of some Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews that their families were of Sephardic origin (with roots in Spain or Portugal).

Speaker Sponsored by the Halsted Trust


11.45-12.45 Session 2A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Dr Colin R Chapman

Chairman: Professor Peter Spufford, FSG

The Progress of Our Profile – 100 years of the SoG

An illustrated account of the Society’s development from 1911 to 2011 and its impact on international genealogical research. Born in borrowed premises, the Society embraced interests across the United Kingdom, British Empire and then worldwide, collecting unique and transcribed materials into its ever-expanding prestigious library. Public access to Government historical papers and archives throughout the past 100 years has been championed by the Society voicing forceful arguments to national committees and consultation groups. With a century of expertise from paper-based notes to electronic storage and delivery of data and documentation, the SoG continues to advance with the times

Session 2B – Hall of India

Speaker: Dr Bruce Durie FLS, FSAScot, FHEA

Chaiman: John Hanson

The Future of Genealogy Education

Genealogy is at a cusp – increasing professionalism requires more formal educational provision, and the public is coming to expect educational and professional credentials.

At the same time, Genealogical Studies is becoming a recognised academic discipline.

How will this be delivered, and what are the implications for existing and intending professional genealogists

Speaker Sponsored by the Halsted Trustclip_image001[1] 

12.45-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.00 Session 3A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Jeremy Goldsmith

Chairman : Richard Sturt


Parish Registers: Problems and Progress

Parish registers have often been regarded as the primary source of vital statistics prior to civil registration (1538-1837), though this was not the purpose of their creation. Their effective use must also take into account the problems of migration, non-registration and non-conformity. Over the past century, public access to registers has been aided by the establishment of County Record Offices, while the transcription and publication of registers has enabled the wide distribution of much genealogical data. More recently, the searching of registers across parish boundaries has been facilitated by the development of electronic databases and digitization of the original records.


Session 3BHall of India 

Speaker: Sharon Hintze

Chairman: Mike Wood

The Past, Present And Future of Records Preservation and Public Access


This talk will review the changes to preservation of and access to genealogical records d over the last 100 years and will then describe the current state-of-the-art tools and future developments. Included will be an assessment as to how genealogists have contributed to and adapted to these changes

15.15-16.15 Session 4A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Dr Gill Draper, FRHist. Soc, FSA.

Chairman: June Perrin

Beyond The Grave: Challenges of Family Reconstruction Before the 18th Century


This illustrated lecture explores the challenges of taking a family history back in time beyond the 18th century, perhaps even to the Middle Ages. Using the example of the Godfreys of Lydd, Kent, it considers material from church brasses, plaques, monuments, wills and antiquarian pedigrees. The lecture argues that two technological innovations make family reconstruction in the distant past seem ever more possible: the huge amount of material now available online and the use of relational databases like Access to bring together people with the same surname. It reviews both the pitfalls and the potential of this approach.

Session 4B – Hall of India

Speaker: Alec Tritton

Chairman:Michael Isherwood

Family History Communication in the 21st Century – Blogging, Social Networking and Ezines

The digital world is changing; no longer is it sufficient to just put up a static website as there are more people using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other Social Networking sites than search the Internet daily. The search engines today prefer blogs with regular fresh new content. This creates a challenge to the average family historian wishing to make their genealogies available to the widest audience on the World Wide Web. This lecture will help to explain how these new uses of the Internet can be used for family history

16.15-16.30 Tea & CoffeeHall of India
16.30-17.30 Session 5A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Beverley Charles Rowe 

Beyond Soundex


Name matching systems, such as Soundex, have been seen as a tool for social and local historians but lacking the accuracy needed for family research. But as available datasets get larger and larger, search automation seems more attractive.

This paper compares the many different methods of name matching in use within the databases we use regularly and suggests how a family historian might proceed

Session 5B – Hall of India

Speaker: Else Churchill

Chairman: June Perrin

I’ve Got a Little List – Digital & Other Sources for the “Long 18th Century” 1688-1837

An overview of the sources that can supplement the deficiencies of parish registers using what are known in the SoG Library as “local lists” generated for ad-hoc need or census substitutes and lists generated by the parish such as the duties on baptism and marriages 1695-1706 or the provision for parish poor; lists generated for defense such as musters and militia; lists generated by the state for taxation and lists of voters and ratepayers. Some of these underused treasures of the SoG will be digitized for the forthcoming business index and other projects.

17.45-18.30 Session 6 –Speaker: Juliet NicolsonChairman: Alec Tritton, Chairman Hasted Trust

Princess Alexandra Hall

The Perfect Summer. Dancing into the Shadow in 1911 The summer of 1911– the year the SoG was founded – is seen through the eyes of a series of exceptional individuals including a debutante, a choir boy, a politician, a trade unionist, a butler and the Queen. A new king was crowned and audiences swarmed to Covent Garden to see the Ballet Russes and Nijinsky’s gravity-defying leaps. The aristocracy was at play, bounding from house party to the next; the socialite Lady Michelham travelled with her nineteen yards of pearls while Rupert Brooke a 23-year-old poet spent the summer swimming in the river at Grantchester. But perfection was over-reaching itself. The rumble of thunder from the summer’s storms presaged not only the bloody war years ahead: the country was brought to near standstill by industrial strikes, and unrest, exposing the chasm between privileged and poor as if the heat was torturing those imprisoned in society’s straitjacket and stifled by the city smog. Children, seeking relief from the scorching sun, drowned in village ponds. What the protagonists could not have known is that they were playing out the backdrop to WWI; in a few years time the world, let alone Britain, would never be the same again. Juliet Nicolson illuminates a turning point in history.

Speaker Presented by the Halsted Trust


  Comfort Break or Bars
19.30 Conference BanquetHall of India
  Musical Entertainment by Catherine Howe and Vo Fletcher 

Banquet Talk

David Fletcher

1942 ….. “in afternoon went to Soc of Genealogists, cost £3.3.0, a fine place.”


A fascinating glimpse into the diarised accounts of genealogical research undertaken by two members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England, the first in 1889 and the second in the 1940’s. 

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