Notes on Family History Sources at the the Caird Library, National Maritime Museum   and a report on our visit there, 30th January

It is not surprising that an island nation with centuries of maritime tradition should produce seafarers in so many families. The Society’s visit to the Caird Library at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, demonstrated that with a “full house” of 18 Members and their guests; and so keen that they all arrived early! Then we were entertained in a very professional manner by Martin, an archivist and Gregory, a librarian, whose enthusiasm and knowledge of both the subject and the resources was impressive.

The Caird Library is a new building, purpose designed and well suited to both “chatty” researchers and the more serious professional. It is the largest reference library of its kind, holding over 2 million items from the 15th century to the present day including manuscripts, 100,000 books, journals, maps and drawings covering every aspect of maritime history including personal papers, business archives and dockyard records but with remarkably few “official” records, which are mostly available at Kew.

The staff are helpful and keen to promote the use of the library. They cite their main attraction is the breadth and depth of information available in one place at Greenwich compared to the fragmented records that are scattered around so many other record sources, including, even, the University of Newfoundland. A number of Research Guides have been published and the most relevant to genealogist’s are listed below, all of which are available on the Caird Library’s website.

Whilst a good starting point for genealogical research are crew lists, there are numerous supplementary sources such as Masters and Mates Certificates, the Mercantile Navy List, the Royal Navy Lists from 1814, or for an earlier period, the Commissioned Sea officers of the Navy and ships logbooks. Apart from being a source of names, the latter are also a source of entertainment, (much like so many parish registers!). For the family historian, in addition to the well-known Lloyds List and Lloyds Register, there are fascinating additional sources such as the WW2 record of “Movements of HM Ships and Submarines” or “Lloyds Service List of Ships Requisitioned by Government in War” to name but a few.

Clearly, it is only possible here to give a taster of the enormous resources available at Greenwich. Their online catalogues can be accessed at www.collections.rmg.co.uk and their Research Guides, including one specifically for Family History, can be accessed at www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library.  Google have digitised Lloyds Register of Shipping, and Ancestry have digitised and indexed the collection of Masters Certificates (with the usual words of caution about quality).

Finally, of course, a visit to the Caird Library has to include a tour of the magnificent historic buildings in Greenwich Park; but you will need a week for that!

Gregory Toth, one of our hosts, has kindly supplied the following:

The Caird Library The Caird Library is open Monday to Friday, 10.00–16.45 (until 19.45 on Thursday), and 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.45 on Saturday. Entry is via a free Reader’s Ticket which can be applied for online in advance of your first visit, or on the day. To register and to request items to view in the Library, please see Aeon and guidance on using Aeon. To help plan your visit to the Caird Library, our online catalogues can help you identify resources that you may wish to view. See the Library catalogue, the Archives catalogue and Collections Online. A guide to your first visit to the new Caird Library is available. Please note that although we hold lots of collections, maritime history research can be time-consuming so please allow plenty of time for your visit.

Contact details The Caird Library National Maritime Museum Greenwich London SE10 9NF Tel: +44 (0)20 8312 6516 Email: library@rmg.co.uk or manuscripts@rmg.co.uk

Non archive and library enquiries If your enquiry relates to a Museum 3D object, paintings, photographs, plans or images, please contact rmenquiries@rmg.co.uk for your message to be forwarded to the relevant Museum curator.

Research guides The Library has produced a range of research guides to help people carry out their own research on a wide range of topics. The guides provide information about the Museum’s collections and other sources for research into maritime history. All of our guides are available online from home. http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/research-guides/

The most useful might be the following research guides:

Research guide A3: Tracing family history from maritime records Remember that maritime records are not usually a good starting point for compiling a genealogy but they can add considerable detail about seafaring activities of an individual.

Research guide A6: Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum Information includes records of the Greenwich Hospital, the Royal Naval College and Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital.

Research guide B1: The Royal Navy: Tracing people It is important to stress that the service and official records of the Royal Navy and most Admiralty records are deposited with The National Archives, Kew.

Research guide B7: The Royal Navy: Ship records The Archive and Library has many complementary resources which will assist in researching the history, service and crew of Royal Naval ships as our holdings are extremely rich in items on individual ships and actions.

Research guide C1: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Crew lists, agreements and official logs A 10% specimen group of crew agreements for years 1861–1995, taken at random (every tenth box of papers) together with those for famous vessels (with some exceptions, such as those for the Cutty Sark and Great Britain), is in The National Archives. The remaining 90% for 1861, 1862, and years ending in ’5′, are held by the National Maritime Museum.

Research guide C2: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Master-mariners, mates and engineers All master-mariners operating between 1854–1927 would have been required to hold a certificate, of which many have survived and are now in the care of the National Maritime Museum. These have been digitalised and made available via Ancestry.

Research guide C5: The Merchant Navy: Sources for ship histories Early tax records from the 13th–19th centuries and ship registration records from the 18th century until 1994 are held at The National Archives, Kew and in other archives; but probably the best starting place is Lloyd’s Register. Mercantile Navy List is the Board of Trade official list of all British-registered vessels, which started in 1850. Most annual volumes exist from 1857–1976 and are in the National Maritime Museum library.

Research guide C8: The Merchant Navy: Wrecks, losses and casualties It can be frustrating for researchers that information on shipwrecks and losses is often incomplete, and spread across a broad range of official and non-official sources. However, this is a strong area of interest for many people, and in many cases, other researchers will have already identified the data available and compiled it into published texts. It is therefore wise to consult some of our volumes available in the reading room.

Research guide C9: The Merchant Navy: World War One and World War Two There is a wide range of material both in printed and manuscript form. The National Maritime Museum holds some key works that are likely to assist with most research problems.

Caird Library blog Discover the latest news on the Caird Library blog and do not forget to subscribe to it. http://blogs.rmg.co.uk/library/

-Barry Hepburn

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A Report of our Group Visit to the London Metropolitan Archives, 16 January

A visit to the London Metropolitan Archives Business Collections and Pension Archive may not sound the most stimulating afternoon out, but those members who did attend were treated to a glimpse of a treasure trove of historical and genealogical gems.

It is easy to think of a business collection being little more than a list of dull company financial and employee records. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, the archivist stressed that not only have few such records have survived, but are mostly subject to the 100 year privacy rules.  Whereas there is a wealth of people information in other ‘unofficial’ documents such as employee photographs, local authority licensing and building records, factory production records, company sports club records, etc etc etc. Just one example of an unusual source of names came from the County of London Electricity Company archives.  They regularly published a news magazine throughout the Second World War, listing employees who had been called up for active service, taken prisoner of war, were missing or had been killed in action. These magazines also provided a sharp reminder of some of the wartime hardships when, for example, they apolo-gised for the size of the magazine because they couldn’t obtain enough paper!

Many readers will be aware of the extensive Sun Insurance records held by the LMA’s sister library at the Guildhall, listing policy holders and their addresses. I always assumed, erroneously, that these policies only applied to London, but in fact the Sun Insurance records also cover other parts of the UK. However, for the historian, there are even more fascinating documents in the Sun records. For example, we had the privilege of looking at a thick notebook written in 1868, from their Damascus office, describing that town in the utmost detail, yet most succinctly. Water supplies; abundant. Housing; miserable in the Christian and Jewish quarters. The ledger went on, page after page, to describe in detail the businesses, building construction, the infrastructure and a host of other information. Where else could one find such a detailed contemporaneous account of life in Damascus at that time.

Space does not allow a description of the many other examples that the archivist had provided for our interest, but clearly time spent exploring the LMA catalogue for such unusual and unex-pected records could be rewarding for both the historian and the genealogist. To help in this task, the LMA are producing a Guide To Business Records later this year.

We were also treated to a glimpse behind the scenes of the conservation work that is constantly being undertaken. One example that we were able to see, and almost touch, was a mediaeval Royal Charter of one of the City Livery Companies. One thing that become clear, talking to the conservator, was that in spite of the development of modern scientific materials and processes, conservation was still very much an art. But they still use handmade mulberry paper which, ap-parently, cannot be obtained anywhere else in the world except Japan. Its principal properties being it’s light weight and great strength from its fibrous construction.

Neither were there any standard conservation procedures, other than to do the minimum; conservation, not restoration.  Each document’s requirement was unique and only decided after it had been examined. Conservation practice has changed over the decades to today’s minimalist ap-proach which comprises just enough to support the document. The main object being to reduce long term damage and to ensure repairs are reversible. Indeed, much earlier conservation work now requires revisiting because of the further damage it caused.

A fascinating afternoon well spent and I would commend this visit to everyone should the opportunity arise to repeat it in the future.

-Barry Hepburn

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Society of Genealogists 2013 Events Programme

The 2013 events programme including lectures, courses, visits, walks & talks  is now online. Events are now searchable by date, type of event and also by topic.

To view the programme and book an event, SoG members should first log into the MySoG  area of the website in order to enter the online shop and make bookings.  Non-members are also welcome to attend events, and the programme can be viewed by visiting our online shop.  Please remember that online bookings help reduce the society’s administration costs and will save you a postage charge.  You may also pay by cheque, payable to the “Society of Genealogists” (please remember to add .60 for postage or enclose a SASE) or by telephone: 020 7553 3290.

Do you have a question? email the events department

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A report on the society’s visit to the Ragged School Museum

ragged 300x257 A report on the societys visit to the Ragged School MuseumWhose Jewish father illegally married his deceased wife’s Irish Quaker sister but allegedly got around the law by marrying in a German church?

Who was born in Dublin in 1845, the sickly fifth child of the second wife and not thought to survive?

Who was encouraged by his mother to go to an evangelist meeting in 1862 at the age of 16 where he ‘found’ Christ and later joined the Plymouth Brethren?

Who was committed to temperance yet it is believed he started his working life as an apprentice to a wine merchant?

Who moved to London in 1866 at the age of 20 to train as a missionary to China?

Who was rejected by the Mission because, it is said, his energy and zeal made him unsuitable?

Who had an incredible ability to organise and whose desk contained an array of pigeonholes for that purpose?

Who, had a timing clock on his desk operated by ivory discs of various sizes each with a time value and, arguably, invented time management?

Who adopted the title of Dr before he was qualified to do so?

Who died in 1905 and was, unusually for the time, cremated with his ashes buried in the grounds of his Barkingside children’s home?

We are, of course, talking about Thomas John Barnardo.  SoG Members and guests were treated to these and many other snippets about his life, by Erica Davies, the Director of the Ragged School Museum on Copperfield Road, Mile End, during a visit on the 21st August 2012.   Yet in over an hour she was only able to scrape the surface of a lifetime dedicated to the poor and needy.

In 1877, Barnardo rented a canal side warehouse to convert to a ragged school and todays museum was an adjacent building which he added to his ragged school in 1895 because of overcrowding.  Copperfield Road Ragged School was not the first by any means but was the largest, accommodating nearly 300 children in day classes rising to over a thousand by 1895.  In addition, there was a playground in the basement for the younger children, evening classes for the older working children and a gymnasium for the boys. The Sunday School was attended by 2500 at that time. The children were also provided with free breakfast and dinner which in 1888 alone amounted to a staggering 68,000 free meals.  The school bell still remains and is shown in the photo below.

His first venture into missionary work with children was in 1866 when he took two cottages in Limehouse and founded the East End Juvenile Mission which ran a ragged school, church services, bible & sewing classes.  It proved to be a turning point in his life’s work.  One evening, a child remained behind and begged to stay the night in front of the fire.  The boy was not only an orphan but was also homeless, sleeping rough on the streets.  It was then that Barnardo discovered there were many similar children who had somehow slipped the Poor Law net and he opened his first boy’s home at Stepney Causeway.

With his unbounding energy and exceptional organisational skills he went on to found not just a few ragged schools but a whole network of institutions aimed at helping the poor and disadvantaged lead more fulfilling lives.  His overriding aim was to save, educate, train and find employment for these children, enabling them to lead decent, Christian, family lives.  He bought the Edinburgh Castle public house and converted it into a Coffee Palace for Working Men.  He created the Boot Blacking Brigade, the City Messenger Brigade, the Wood Chopping Brigade, the Servants Free Registry and Training School, the Factory Girls Club & Institute, the Working Lads Institute and a host of other similar opportunities to help those at the bottom of the human pile to gain their independence through employment.

He produced a relentless stream of pamphlets, aimed at tugging the heart strings in a way that today would be seen as exploitation or politically incorrect and even in those Victorian times got him frequently into trouble.  Yet they helped him to raise during his life time the staggering sum of over £3 million (worth £200 million at today’s prices), without which he could not have helped the  thousands who passed through his hands.  Some of his methods bordered on the criminal but always with the children’s interests at heart.  Sending children to Canada became a contentious issue because of some well publicised failures but there were many hundreds more who were helped to a prosperous life in a new country.  Neither were they sent to fend for themselves.  Before they left, Barnardo ensured that a proper care structure was in place and each child had a bank account into which their wages were paid and saved until they were 21.

His funeral came as close to a State Funeral as imaginable, demonstrating the love and affection the East End had for Thomas John Barnardo.  His body lay in the People’s Mission Church at the Edinburgh Castle for four days where thousands of people came to pay their last respects.  On the day of the funeral, thousands lined the streets, shops closed and the cortege was followed by 1500 boys from his many homes and institutions.

Even now, more than 100 years since his death, Thomas John Barnardo is still an inspiration and led me to seek out so much more of the life story of this remarkable man, beyond the commonly held perception of his Children’s homes and questionable practice of sending of children to Canada.

- Barry Hepburn

The  Ragged School Museum is located at 46-50 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR. For more information, visit their website

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

group 300x225 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & CrematoriumOn 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. regsiters 300x223 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

ronGary 300x201 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & CrematoriumWithin 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.

vigiland 209x300 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

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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