Wednesday 29 February 2012

Free entry to Cadw sites

The Welsh heritage body, Cadw, is granting free access to all of its sites tomorrow, Thursday, March 1st. The promotion is to tie in with the new BBC series, The Story of Wales.

For more information see


Manchester military records

FindmyPast ( has released 74,000 military records for Manchester on its site - these comprise the First World War records of the Manchester City Battalions, or 'pals' regiments, as well as a First World War Roll of Honour.

For more information visit

(With thanks to @RAKopittke on Twitter)


London school records go online

Ancestry ( has added school records to its site for London from 1840-1911. From the site:

About London, England, School Admissions and Discharges, 1840-1911 

This is a collection of School Admission and Discharges for schools in London. This collection contains more than a million students from 843 different schools. In 1833, Parliament started to provide money for the construction of schools for poor children, although it was still largely a private affair. Mandatory schooling was a local decision until 1870, when children were required to attend from age 5 to 10. By 1918, education was required up to the age of 14.

These records are lists of children who were admitted to and discharged from schools. When education was required, children could be discharged from their schooling if they were needed to work to help support the family. The records vary by school and some are more detailed than others. The records include:
  • Admission Date 
  • Name 
  • Parents’ names 
  • Parents’ occupation 
  • Address 
  • Birth date 
  • Age

The following boroughs and schools are represented:
  • Camden (26 schools)
  • City of London (2 schools)
  • Greenwich (19 schools)
  • Hackney (27 schools)
  • Hammersmith and Fulham (20 schools)
  • Islington (26 schools)
  • Kensington and Chelsea (9 schools)
  • Lambeth (36 schools)
  • Lewisham (21 schools)
  • Southwark (51 schools)
  • Tower Hamlets (74 schools)
  • Wandsworth (24 schools)
  • Westminster (32 schools)

To view the collection visit


How war stories inspire children to learn

I am so showing this to my eldest son when he comes home from school! It's a wonderful slide show presentation on the BBC website (went up about 2 weeks ago) describing what fascinates children about war stories, by Dr. Geoff Fox of the Imperial War Museum in Greater Manchester. To view the presentation visit


Perpetual polygamy by the LDS?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints uses genealogy for its religious beliefs, hence its monumental efforts with the website and many other impressive projects. The Daily Mail has an article today on how this is being politicised in the United States just now, as part of the process to elect a Republican candidate for the forthcoming presidential election campaign. The target is Mitt Romney, who is apparently a Mormon.

Personally I couldn't care less about the church's religious beliefs, or any church's religious beliefs for that matter, as I am not at all religious - my idea of an afterlife is the preservation of the family history for future generations, so I am on a messianic mission of my own to find it all before I pop my clogs! I do, however, have a heck of a lot of admiration for what the Mormon church is doing in terms of its genealogical programme, as they kindly make their findings available for free. I am fascinated by the workings of churches, and their histories, however, and if the article is right, I've learned something new about the Latter Day Saints.

I know the Mormons believe in 'sealing ordinances', a ritual whereby family relationships are preserved for all eternity - a married couple can have their relationship 'sealed', for example, but a child can also be 'sealed' to its parents. They also have a programme of 'vicarious baptism', the process of posthumously baptising the dead by the use of modern day proxies, in order to guarantee that a soul can gain entry into Heaven etc. To find out who all these people are, they need to do the research - hence the interest in genealogy.

Another fact that is often quoted about Mormons is the use of polygamous marriages, which certainly used to be the case in the 19th century, though no longer the case today. According to the Mail, however, the church is posthumously marrying couples long after they have died, and more than once, with many different partners! I have no idea if this is the case, or whether the reporter has been mixing up his sealing ordinances - I certainly don't recall seeing any plural marriages on the IGI for my tree that weren't backed up with the right certificates!

In any case, it's an interesting article in the 'newspaper' (sorry, it is the Mail!), but has a slight whiff of with JFK being the first Catholic president, now it's the Mormons' turn. Read it for yourself at - oh, and as it's the Mail, it obviously features Diana in the headline! :)


Genies who inspire - Robert Davey MBE

Discover my Past England finished as a magazine at the end of last year, but within its pages I had a monthly column called Gene Genies, where I would interview someone from the family history community to help gauge the pulse of the modern family history world in the UK. Perhaps the most fascinating interview I did of all was with Robert Davey MBE in mid-2010, an extraordinary man who did something for his hobby that went far above and beyond the call of duty. His achievement was quite simple: Bob took on the Devil - and won.

In the first of a semi-regular series, where I hope you as readers can help, I'd like to pay tribute to the genies who inspire us in our communities - either through their devotion to the hobby, the heights that their achievements have reached, or the inspiration that they give to others. So here's a summary of what Bob did that so impressed me....!

Whilst out for a walk in June 1992, Bob and his wife came across the ruins of the old 8th century built Anglo-Saxon Church of St Mary the Virgin at Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk ( To his horror he found that the building was being used by Satanists to perform black masses, with a pagan altar found inside, a goat headed deity on the wall, and the numbers 666 scratched into the wall. The building was still consecrated, and a horrified Bob decided to rescue it from its decline.

The Satanists soon got wind of his plans, sent him death threats and at one point tried to run him down with a car. After being terrorised for a considerable period of time, Bob went public in 1996, and the Territorial Army soon learned of his predicament. Together they planned a sting to tackle the devil worshippers, and on a specific date when they learned that they were planning to return to the church the TA surrounded them on their approach, forcing them to flee. They never returned. The full story is at

Since then the building has been lovingly restored to its former glory, with the roof, floor, windows, and missing stones on the walls all replaced. The church now has a Society of Friends, and as well as being used as a church once more it also houses a local museum. Accompanying the restoration is an excellent website, which contains transcriptions of many parish registers - christenings 1785-1935, weddings 1822-1942 and burials 1816-1892 - as well as other local records.

If you can think of someone in your community who you'd like to celebrate, please do drop me a note. Let's get our genie heroes recognised, whether in Britain or in Ireland, and give them credit where it is due! 


Tuesday 28 February 2012

LMA 19th century photos talk

News of a forthcoming talk at London Metropolitan Archives:

Black and White
An introduction to the evocative nineteenth-century photograph collections held at LMA. This talk held at London Metropolitan Archives on Tuesday 13 March at 2 pm is FREE - but you must book in advance on 020 7332 3851.

To book visit


Royal Logistic Corps Museum website

From the Royal Logistic Corps Museum (

The RLC Museum Archive holds a complete set of RLC and Forming Corps Journals dating from the Nineteenth Century to the present day. The website has placed on-line Journals of The RLC's Forming Corps that were published between 1914 and 1964, covering the period from the start of the First World War to the end of National Service. The Journals can be browsed from page to page or searched by a word or phrase of choice.

The Journals are a valuable source of information on the activities of the Forming Corps and the lives of those who served with them. The Journals provide details of operations, exercises, unit news and Corps sport.

For those wishing to learn more of individual soldiers and officers who served in the Forming Corps the Journals can be a very useful source of research. The Journals published details of individuals’ promotions, postings, marriages and obituaries. Casualty lists, seniority lists and medal awards were also published in the Journals. At the very least the Journals can provide general background information to an officer’s or soldier’s time in the Forming Corps.

Also available on this website are the Quarterlies/Reviews of the Army Service Corps/Royal Army Service Corps (ASC/RASC) that were published between 1905 and 1964. These more scholarly publications provide a more detailed understanding of the work of the ASC/RASC. Articles in the Quarterlies were usually written by serving Officers on subjects that include doctrinal and technological developments within the Corps. The Quarterlies also published narratives of campaigns and operations, written with an emphasis on supply and transport in the British Army.

Over time, the format of the Journals did occasionally change. Consequently the content emphasis does vary. Please also note although this website offers access to all the Journals published between 1914 and 1964, within these years there were periods when some of the Forming Corps did not produce a Journal. However, activities and operations that did occur in years which Journals were not published are usually written up retrospectively when publication of the Journals resumed. Details for when the Forming Corps did not publish Journals are as follows:

  • The Army Ordnance Corps did not publish a Journal between 1915 and 1919.
  • The Royal Pioneer Corps did not publish an official journal until 1946. This website does include the Journal produced by 30 Group RPC between 1943 and 1945.
  • The Army Catering Corps’ first Journal was not published until 1947.
  • ASC/RASC Quarterlies were not published over the years 1915-1921 and 1940-1948.

For Further details please see

(With thanks to the Museum via my British GENES Facebook page at


Major WW1 digitisation events in Preston and Dublin

The following press release comes from Europeana (, and concerns a major First World War pan-European digitisation project requiring your help:

World War One 1914 -1918 Digitising pictures, letters and memories for the 100th anniversary 

Do you have a box hidden deep in the attic or under the bed that holds your great grandfather’s diaries? Maybe a letter from the front line? Or a photo taken at the time? Is there a special story behind it? If so, we want to see it.

We are building the first ever online European archive of private memorabilia from WW1 in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war – and we need your help to do this.

Today we are urging people to root out memorabilia from 1914-1918 to bring along to the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, on Saturday March 10 – one of the first in a series of WW1 Family History Roadshows that will be visiting Luxembourg, Ireland, Slovenia, Denmark and Belgium during 2012.

We anticipate that it will be the first time many of these items have ever been seen outside the family – creating a new and exciting source of material for historians, schools, genealogists and cultural organisations in their interpretation of how the war affected the lives or ordinary people.

We want families to tell us about their keepsakes, who they belonged to and why they are so important to them - and we will save those memories in our archive (see

Europeana 1914-1918 brings together a partnership of libraries, museums, academic and cultural institutions, which in the UK includes the British Library, Oxford University, JISC, and Lancashire County Council.

On roadshow days, historians and experts will be available to talk about the significance of the finds - while our staff will professionally digitise and upload them to the website.

And if you are unable to attend the event, you can scan or digitally photograph your own material and upload it on the website (

As the centenary approaches, it is vital we preserve these precious documents for future generations. Digitisation saves them from being lost or thrown away – and it allows the information to be incorporated into apps for smartphones and tablets that will bring history alive for people in contemporary ways.

In 2011, more than 25,000 digital images were recorded from nine family history roadshows held in major cities across Germany. These included: unpublished diaries, hand-drawn maps, portraits, sketches and photographs recording life under fire and on the home front.

Stephen Bull, curator of military history and archaeology at the Museum of Lancashire, said: “As the centenary of 1914 and WW1 approaches, it is more important than ever that we save these items. It tells us what life was like for the ordinary people of Lancashire – the soldiers, their families and the workers back home who kept the country going.

“We are hoping people will bring in anything from that period, be it a family photo, a love letter, some sort of document or object. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know the background behind it, once it’s online then it’s likely people will be able to fill in some of those gaps.

“And while experts scan these precious items, visitors can use the opportunity to enjoy our museum with its replica WW1 trench, meet costumed re-enactors and experience at first hand some of the sights, smells and sounds from a conflict that affected the everyday lives of virtually all Europeans.”

Jill Cousins, Europeana’s executive director, said: “Memorabilia and stories are kept by families for a while, but after a century their significance starts to fade.

“That’s why our online archive, which is collecting material from across Europe in a series of roadshows, is so important.

“The Preston event will give people the opportunity to share their memories, photos and diaries with future generations, while learning about the sacrifices their ancestors made.”

Jamie Andrews, head of English and Drama at the British Library, said he was delighted to be involved in the project.

“We’re already set to digitise more than 400,000 items from national libraries in eight European countries with our Europeana Collections 1914-1918 project,” he said.

“Add to this unseen material from people’s own homes and we will have a truly rounded picture of the impact of the war on families from all the different communities involved.”

Stuart Lee, director of Computing Systems and Services at Oxford University, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this project. We pioneered this idea of collecting the memories of the community online - and concentrating on an individual town like Preston will give us a wonderful opportunity to assess the lasting legacy of the war in the regions.”

The roadshows are funded in the UK by JISC, which promotes IT innovation in higher education.

Stuart Dempster, programme director at JISC, said: “These roadshows will give universities, colleges, museums, galleries, archives, libraries, the creative industries and schools the opportunity to work together with the public to create new and exciting ways of considering the historical, political and social legacy of the war through innovative digital technologies.”

NB: The following are the UK and Ireland dates for participation, at venues in Preston and Dublin:

Saturday, 10 March 10.00 – 17.30
Museum of Lancashire Stanley Street Preston PR1 4YP
Tel: 01772 534075

Wednesday, 21 March 10.00 - 19.00
National Library of Ireland Kildare Street Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 603 02 00

(With thanks to the Europeana press office)


Stirling based family history course

From Stirling Council Library & Archives Service:

Stirling Council Library & Archives Service is delighted to offer a brand new family history course entitled ‘Following The Life Lines’.

The course is suitable for complete beginners or those with some experience and is designed to take you from the very first steps in researching your family history through to the use of archival material to deepen your understanding of the lives that your forbears lived. It provides in-depth coverage of on-line resources, material available in your local library and primary sources held in local archives.

Conducted by experienced Library and Archive staff, the sessions will give you a thorough grounding in how to begin your research and how to take it further with lots of support from experienced, friendly staff and illustrations taken from all the sources discussed.

The sessions will be informal with plenty of opportunities for sharing experiences, questions and discussion. There will also be an opportunity to visit the Archives for a hands-on session using original archival material.

The course will run for six sessions starting Tuesday 17th April 2012, 7pm – 8.30pm at Bannockburn Library. The cost of the course is £70 (£60 concessions).

Please note it is not possible to register for only one class. There is a maximum of 15 places – so book now!

To register for the class, please pick up a leaflet at your local library or contact Stirling Council Archive on 01786 450745 for more details. Booking forms and payment must be received by 30 March 2012.

(With thanks to Roana Mourad)


RCAHMS releases Canmore user guides

The Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) has released two PDF documents on its site to allow users to understand how to use its Canmore database (, which contains information on over 300,000 places in Scotland.

To view the free guides visit

(With thanks to @RCAHMS)


Archives, Digitisation and Heritage Tourism Workshop - report

Roger Lewry has posted a report on a recent workshop on Archives, Digitisation and Heritage Tourism at the Centre for the Historical Record at Kingston University, which was attended by both himself and Marian French of the FFHS, as well as many others.

The full report can be read at

(With thanks to Roger) 


Forthcoming Society of Genealogists events

Forthcoming events at the Society of Genealogists ( in London:

Sat 3 Mar 10:30-13.00 Family Historian Software for Beginners A Half Day with John Hanson (£14/£17.50)

Sat 3 Mar 14:00-17.00 Adding Your Family Tree to the Ancestry Website A Half Day with Mike Bollinger (£14/£17.50)

Wed 7 Mar 11:00 New Member Orientation Tours Repeats 12:00 & 3:30, must be pre-booked (£0/£00)

Wed 7 Mar 14:00 Getting the Most from the Society Catalogue (SOGCAT) A Free Lecture with Tim Lawrence (£0/£00)

Sat 10 Mar 10:30-13.00 Engineering in Tyneside A Half Day with Ian Waller (£14/£17.50)

Sat 10 Mar 14:30 Northumberland & Durham FHS Meeting

Wed 14 Mar 10:30 Using the SoG Members Area Online A Free lecture with Tim Lawrence but must be booked(£0/£00)

Thur 15 Mar 18:00-20:00 Stage 1 Evening Skills Course - 16 weeks Tutors: Else Churchill, Geoff Swinfield, Paul Blake, Ian Waller, Michael Isherwood (£160/£200) Those attending will be introduced to records for family history study and illustrate how they can best be used. This course will provide plenty of opportunity to use genealogical sources in practical sessions in the classroom as well as exercises at home

Sat 17 Mar 10:30 London Group Yorks FHS Meeting

Sat 17 Mar 14:15 Lincolnshire FHS Meeting

Wed 21 Mar 14:00-15.00 Researching Spanish Genealogy for Non-Spanish Speakers A Lecture with Mike DeLara (£4.8/£6)

Sat 24 Mar 10:30-13.00 My Ancestor was Irish A Half Day with Michael Gandy (£14/£17.50)

Sat 24 Mar 14:00 Norfolk FHS Meeting

Wed 28 Mar 14:00-15.00 The Islington Local History Centre & it's Collections A Lecture with Mark Aston (£4.8/£6)

Sat 31 Mar 11:00 Open Day with Free Lectures, Library Tours and Advice Free, but must be pre-booked (£0/£00)

For further details, and information on how to book, visit


Guild's 6000th member

A few days late with this one, but a press release from the Guild of One Name Studies (

The Guild’s 6,000th member
The Guild of One-Name Studies has reached another milestone. Today the 6,000th member joined the Guild of One-Name Studies. She is Mrs Sue Fisher-Pascall who lives in Chichester, UK. This milestone follows a very successful year for the Guild of One-Name Studies in 2010-11 when the Guild achieved its highest number of new members ever.

Of the 387 new members joining in 2011, 220 were from the UK, 69 from the US, 33 from New Zealand, 26 from Australia, 17 from Canada and 15 from Ireland. The remainder were from various European countries. 43% of the new members were from non-UK regions, which is a valuable step towards increased worldwide membership to the Guild.

Sue is studying the surname Pascall, with the variants Pascal, Pashal and Paskal, and hopes that the Guild of One-Name Studies will enable her to help and link up with other people researching the same. Sue Fisher-Pascall said she was interested in the Guild of One-Name Studies because she had already done a lot of research on the Pascall surname generally, as part of her own family history, and joining seemed the logical way forward to share her research with other people researching the surname or one of its variants. Sue had previously considered joining the Guild but found that the surname “Pascall” had already been registered by another Guild member as a variant of their main study. When it was agreed that the surname could stand in its own right, she immediately joined the Guild and registered the surname as her one-name study. In recognition of becoming the 6,000 member of the Guild of One-Name Studies, the Guild has extended Sue’s membership a further year to the 31st October 2014.

Details of all the Guild facilities can be found at: - where you can find out:
• more about undertaking a one-name study
• the benefits of joining the Guild of One-Name Studies, and the assistance members of the Guild can provide to anyone researching their family history on any of the 8,000 plus names currently being researched

Cliff Kemball, the Guild’s Publicity Officer, said today: “Attaining our 6,000th member is a significant milestone for the Guild of One-Name Studies and is a testament to the continued development of the Guild internationally and the benefits membership provides. We are sure that Mrs Sue Fisher-Pascall will benefit significantly from joining the Guild and that she will gradually take advantage of the services and facilities that the Guild offers.”

(With thanks to Cliff Kemball)


National Library of Scotland events

From the National Library of Scotland (

NLS Roadshow 2012
East Renfrewshire Libraries, Giffnock
11 and 12 March 2012

NLS will stage our annual roadshow this month, working in partnership with East Renfrewshire Libraries in Giffnock.

On Sunday 11 March, a fair takes place at Eastwood Theatre, Giffnock, bringing together national and local library services and displays to celebrate local history. It includes talks by NLS maps and Scottish Screen Archive staff. No booking required.

On Monday 12 March, workshops take place for local schools, teachers and librarians.

The roadshows, run in partnership with libraries across Scotland since 2006, encourage communities to explore the National Library of Scotland's collections and services.

Reader Workshops
Getting started at NLS
8 March 2012, 6pm

Learn how to register as a reader, find your way around the Library, request material and find out about other services. The workshop includes a tour of the Reading Rooms.

If you are planning to register to use the Library after the workshop, please bring evidence of identity such as a current driving licence or recent utility bill.

Read all about it!
21 March 2012, 2pm

This workshop offers an introduction to the vast online newspaper resources available via the National Library of Scotland, including demonstrations and tips on how to search and discover the information you need.

Our workshops fill up quickly so please book your place online today, or call 0131 623 3918.


Cultural Education Partnership Group statement

From Arts Council England (

The Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, the BFI (British Film Institute) and English Heritage are very pleased that Darren Henley’s review recognises cultural education as a central aspect of all children and young people’s lives. The commissioning of the review by the Department for Education and Department for Culture, Media and Sport shows a strong and welcome commitment from Government to cultural education.

We are looking forward to greater collaboration between the Lottery distributors and Non-Departmental Public Bodies involved in cultural education and to working closely together as the new Cultural Education Partnership Group. We will explore ways in which we can pilot our joint approach and deliver a shared vision of a rich cultural education. We recognise the benefits of coordinating our cultural education work, and will explore how we can ensure that our investment achieves the high level ambitions for children and young people’s cultural opportunities, regardless of their background, that Government sets out in its response to Henley’s review.

We share the ambition of Darren Henley’s Cultural Education Review and believe that investment in cultural education for our children and young people will help to drive forward the creative and cultural industries and the wider economy, and will benefit society as a whole in developing an understanding of our common cultural heritage.


Durham Records Online update

The following records are now available on Durham Records Online (

Gateshead East Cemetery burials 1907-1909 
4,239 burials at Gateshead East Cemetery, covering 1907-1909. Besides many street addresses in Gateshead, residences mentioned include Bensham, Dunston, Felling, Low Fell, Newcastle, Salt Meadows, Teams, and Whitley. Because these are municipal cemetery records, not church burial records, they present many more genealogically useful details. 99% of these records give either an occupation, a parent or husband’s name, or information about how the person died. This is our last planned block of burials at this cemetery. We now have all the burials at Gateshead East Cemetery from the time of its opening in 1862 to the end of 1909, nearly 68,000 burials.

Castle Eden marriages 1837-1890 updated with witnesses, occupations, abodes
Added 476 witnesses and the missing abodes, marital status, and occupations of fathers to our existing 194 marriages at Castle Eden St. James in Easington district, covering 1837-1890, plus one marriage that we missed the first time around. This is part of our ongoing “background task” of updating our Easington district marriages with the details that were omitted from the original transcripts (which were made years ago with no thought of sharing them publicly, so certain details were omitted). You can now get a fully detailed civil-registration-era marriage at this church in the period 1837-1890 for 1/6th of the cost of a civil certificate from the government – or less if you use site credits to view the marriage. We also realized that our table that shows what we have was wrong for marriages at this church – it said we had marriages to 1837, when in fact we have marriages here from 1698 to 1942, so your grandparents or even parents may be listed ! The table has now been updated.

If you previously purchased a marriage at Castle Eden in this period, you can now view the witnesses by clicking My Previous Orders and reviewing the marriage.

Brancepeth burials 1780-1812
931 burials at Brancepeth St. Brandon in Durham district, covering 1780-1812.
Residences mentioned include Bearpark, Biggin, Billy Hall, Billy Row, Boggle Hole, Bradley Burn & Hall, Brancepeth, Brandon, Browns Den, Burnigill, Butchers Race, Chilton, Crook, Dicken House, Durham, East Brandon, East Parks, Fell Heads, Flass, Goodwellfield, Hare Holme, Harrisons Folly, Helmington Row, Heslett House, Hill House, Hole in the Wall or Holywell, Humble Sledge, Hunwick, Ivesley, Jobs Hill, Langley & Langley Mill or Paper Mill, Lingey Close, Little Burn, Low Barns, Middles, Morley, Mown Meadows, Nafferton, New Hall (Wolsingham), Newcastle, Newfield, Ox Close, Page Bank, Pitt House, Primrose Side, Pringle House, Quarry Hill, Red Barns, Scouts House, Scripton, Sedgefield, Sleetburn Mill, South Brandon, Stand Alone, Stanley, Stob House, Stockley, Stone Chester, Sunderland, Sunny Brow, Tanners Hall, Tudhoe, Unthank, Waterhouses, West Brandon, West Parks, Wheat Bottom, White Lee, Willington, Willington Burn, and York Hill.

In the usually detail-rich 1798-1812 period, the parish clerk occasionally recorded the maiden surnames of the mothers of dead children, as he was supposed to, but he was not consistent with this practice and some burials of children include only the mother’s given name or only the father’s name.
We now have a complete set of baptisms, marriages, and burials at Brancepeth from the start of the parish registers in 1599 to the end of 1812, plus marriages to mid-1837.

South Shields Holy Trinity baptisms 1846-1848 updated
We discovered we had missed the last page of baptisms at South Shields Holy Trinity for each of the years 1846, 1847, and 1848. These pages were separated from their registers and in different places on the film. Now those 16 baptisms have been added back into the collection.
  • South Shields baptisms & burials 1763-1797 
  • Aycliffe baptisms & burials 1813-1877 
  • amendments to Robinson's Lane baptisms 1727-1797 
  • Auckland St. Andrew baptisms & burials 1820-1851 
  • Penshaw baptisms & burials 1831-1835 

(With thanks to Holly Cochran)


Monday 27 February 2012

Changes coming soon to RootsIreland

This is an amended post from an earlier announcement.

There are some major changes coming soon to RootsIreland (, the online portal of the Irish Family History Foundation, with the addition of a new ScotlandsPeople like functionality. The site will soon be adding a new payment gateway, whereby you do an initial search, pay to see a page of indexed results and then pay to see the full detail of records of interest - as ScotlandsPeople does. There will be no images to view however, purely transcriptions.

Bear in mind RootsIreland is not just the BMD site - you'll find many census results there, including pre-1901 census fragments that have survived, and all sorts, so do check the source listing for every county page that you visit (via link on left of page). You may be surprised at what else is there!

(With thanks to Karel Kiely)


TNA podcast - The British Red Cross archives

The latest podcast from the National Archives is a talk from Sarah Cox about the British Red Cross and its archives - it's a fairly short one this time, at just over 25 minutes, and can be heard at or via iTunes.


How WW1 ended European monetary union

The BBC has a fascinating piece on previous attempts at European monetary union, including the Latin Monetary Union, which existed from the 1860s until the First World War. If you ever wonder if history truly does repeat itself, have a look at the article at!


Business Archives in Scotland infographic

From Kiara King, archivist of the Ballast Trust:

2011 was the first full year of implementation for the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland. To mark this we have preparedan infographic to highlight some of our achievements in our first year. The full infographic can be viewed and downloaded here:

The National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland was launched in January 2011 at the Museum on the Mound it was developed by the Business Archives Council of Scotland and the Ballast Trust, with the support of the National Archives of Scotland and the Scottish Council on Archives.

Historical records are a unique and powerful business asset and the implementation of the Strategy will help businesses to promote, manage and exploit their archives and records effectively. You can read the strategy and our case studies featuring Tennent's, Diageo and Lloyds at

Keep up to date with news about Business Archives in Scotland on our blog

(With thanks to Kara)


WDYTYA Live 2012 - Part 4: The Victims Descendants!

The biggest event of all for me at this year's Who Do You Think You Are Live occurred during the final advice session that I helped with in the Society of Genealogists experts area on Sunday. I had already successfully helped two members of the public when along came a lady called Jacquie Watson, with whom it soon transpired I shared the most remarkable link!

Readers of this blog will know that my next book due for publication is The Mount Stewart Murder: A Re-examination of the UK's Oldest Unsolved Murder Case, which will be released in June of this year. Now this deals with the unsolved murder of my three times great grandmother Janet Henderson (Rogers) on March 30th 1866 in Perthshire. The police force which investigated the mysterious case was Perthshire County Constabulary, with George Gordon its chief constable. Gordon was also the chief constable of the constabularies in Kinross and Clackmannanshire, and just as the Mount Stewart Murder investigation was getting underway he was also having to clear up another investigation - that of the Blairingone Murder, and the trial of a certain Joseph Bell, who had killed a baker's delivery man by the name of Alexander McEwan in Clackmannanshire, just a few months before the events at Mount Stewart Farm. Three weeks after my own ancestor was murdered, Bell was hanged for his crime, a story which forms part of the book that I have just written.

So along comes Jacquie.... She sits down and asks if I can help with a murder she wants to investigate - no problem, says I, sure there's all sorts in local archives and at the NRS in Edinburgh. When did it take place? 1865 is the answer - what a coincidence says I, as I also had an ancestor murdered the following year! And where did it take place? Blairingone, comes the reply. At this point I just looked at her in disbelief - what was your ancestor's name, says I? Alexander McEwan was my three times great grandfather comes the answer!

Of all the people she could have picked to speak to, I happened to probably be the one person in Britain who knew her ancestor's murder story almost as much as I know my own ancestor's murder story, because it forms two chapters of my book!!! Needless to say, there was much excitement, and as I had the book on my iPad, I showed her some of the chapter as written and discussed some of the materials I had found to help explore the story - she will shortly be off to a few places in Scotland to help pursue the story for herself now!

So if anybody ever asks you why you should go to a genealogy event - it is because miracles do actually happen! :)

Myself and Jacquie Watson, the three times great grandchildren of murder victims investigated by the same Chief Constable in the same year - and soon to be told in the same book!


WDYTYA Live 2012 - Part 3: the pics!

It was the Titanic theme this year for FindmyPast's Amy Sell

Chris Halliday from Scotland's Genealogy had a good event

It's the Blatchfords!

Deceased Online help in the search for bodies...

Nigel Bayley at The Genealogist stand

He's regenerated! A new editor for Your Family Tree magazine in the form of top bloke Adam Rees

My book becomes a poster boy...

Laura Berry from Your Family History - didn't quite agree with me that an article on the use of Ouija boards in ancestral research would really work...(thankfully! lol)

An umbrella with a really big hole at the top

Brian Mitchell on the RootsIreland stand

A few quiet moments before the Welsh rugby match gets underway...

God comes from Norn Iron. These are his friends...!

Rosalind McCutcheon gives an Irish lecture in the SoG regional studio

Some hay. In case the horses got hungry...

FlipPal - flip me, it was popular...

Helen Osborn holds the line at the Pharos Tutors stall

Kirsty Wilkinson from My Ain Folk braving a cold at her first WDYTYA event

The Titanic - built by Ulstermen, sunk by an Englishman. Oh sorry, the captain of the FindmyPastic, sister ship! :)

Helen Tovey and team at Family Tree magazine

Miriam Silverman and colleague from Ancestry

Queue for my Irish talk on Saturday - moving so fast it was a blur (not dodgy photography at all)

Society of Genealogists advice area - great fun


WDYTYA Live 2012 - Part 2: the news

I've picked up all sorts of gleanings from the WDYTYA Live event, so here's a quick summary:

In discussions with both Brian Donovan and Debra Chatfield I have learned a few things on the FindmyPast front, both UK ( and Ireland ( The first Welsh parish registers will be going online within the next couple of weeks on the UK site, and the 1901 Scottish census in the very near future in transcription format. Future developments will include Kilmainham Army pension papers and records of the Royal Irish Constabularly, as held at the National Archives at Kew, and possibly some additional tie-ins from Ireland. Obviously on the Irish site the big launch just now is the Petty Session records which will be continued throughout this year. There will also be a new improved version of the family tree programme on the sites very soon.

The new unified FindmyPast platform, comprising data from the British, Irish and Ozzie sites, will NOT be a basic site with bolt on packages as I have previously reported in November of last year (as with GenesReunited), but will actually be very similar to the Ancestry model with a new worldwide subscription introduced. This will include the three current FindmyPast sites (and presumably the USA when it gets going) as well as the British Newspaper Archive. You will still be able to access individual sites though if you choose not to go for a worldwide sub.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland website at will be having a bit of a facelift soon, and a MAJOR resource for the north is currently being worked on just now, though likely not available this year. In addition the street directories part of the site is gong to have a bit of a revamp in terms of the user interface, and the online wills coverage will likely be extended to 1950 sometime this year.

MyHeritage ( will shortly be announcing a new calendar feature where you can order up printed calendars derived from the date hosted in your profile. I had a great chat with Gilad Japhet, CEO of MyHeritage at the event, in which he outlined how the company was started, and how he has been able to predict how the business will develop using tools such as Google Trends ( He's also given me some interesting insight into the state of the competition, and some prediction which I won't share but which I will be interested to see if they come true! And thanks to MyHeritage's Laurence Harris for the loan of a media pointer on Friday when mine failed just minutes before my first talk!

TheGenealogist ( has not only completed its indexing for the 1911 English and Welsh census, it is about to add images of the unredacted documents for that same census. A new global search is also now available on the site.

I checked with Ancestry ( and there is no sign of unredacted images there as yet, but there is news of something big happening soon for those north of the border, so watch this space!

Michael Leclerc, Chief Genealogist with, is currently working on a book about Benjamin Franklin!

Scottish Valuation Rolls for the year 1915 are coming very soon on ScotlandsPeople (

DeceasedOnline ( will also be adding more records for another authority in the north of England soon, and hopes to have a Scottish authority available soon also, as well as more burials inscriptions from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions (and with a bit of a revamp on their access).

Belfast City Council has updated its online burials database for City Cemetery, Dundonald and Roselawn to crucially allow you to search by lair number also - this means if you find someone buried in a particular cemetery, you can now search to see who else is also in the same lair - see

I've had the provisional nod also that another book title from yours truly has been agreed by the relevant publisher - hope to announce more soon!

If you picked up on anything else from the event, please do let me know in the comments section below! :)


WDYTYA Live 2012 - Part 1: the review

Well I have just got in the door from London, after a long overnight bus trip to Glasgow, from another successful visit to Who Do You Think You Are Live ( Although I worked on the Irish Family and Local History Handbook ( stall with Bob and Liz Blatchford throughout the three day event, for the first time I also gave a couple of talks and helped out in the Society of Genealogy's experts advice area. In the latter I helped several people with queries, one of which was so extraordinary that I will blog about it later in a separate post!

So first things first - how was the show? It was undoubtedly successful, but seemed to defy the run of expectations in terms of who would come and when from previous years, as far as I could see. Normally the Fridays and Saturdays are absolutely manic (particularly Saturdays), and then it gets a bit quieter on the Sunday. This year, however, was a very different kettle of fish - Friday actually felt as if it started off much quieter than previous years, though did get busier later on, whereas much of Sunday afternoon was as busy as the Saturday. This bizarrely was actually a tad disorientating in the sense that if you felt you knew when things would get a bit quieter, an attack wave of hungry genealogists would suddenly arrive to keep you on your toes! (Hell hath no fury like a genie looking for a bargain!) The interesting thing amongst the vendors camp was that there seemed to be quite a different perspective on how they were each doing from one to the other - some had one of the busiest shows ever, others discussed how they felt they might be down in takings on previous years. So on that basis it felt different, and yet from what I've heard so far the attendance was fairly on par with previous events, and there was no obvious reason that anyone could pin down as to why it did feel like that. Very odd!

The show programme itself was extremely busy, with more floor space opened up in the upstairs area for the advice area and talks theatres etc. As a speaker, both of my talks were well attended, with my Irish talk on the Saturday sold out well in advance and attended by some 250 people - it felt a bit like doing the genealogical equivalent of Wembley! I believe this talk was recorded by the event and will go online on their site, or possibly the WDYTYA magazine website, either wholly or in part at some point soon, so will let you know if, when and where it does. Handout notes for my talks will also be going online soon (next day or so) on the Society of Genealogists website at I have to say - I had a ball in these, and I've read some great comments and heard some great feedback at the show from those who attended. Thanks for these, and I hope they might have helped with your research!

Unfortunately, I had hoped to record video interviews with a few people at the show, but was run off my feet for a lot of it, so this year the cupboard will be bare from me on that front - though I did record some Irish dancers at one point (will put online later!). Nick Barratt and John Reid, however, were running around like blue bottomed bunnies with cameras and recording devices, so there was a lot recorded elsewhere - Nick's interviews will go on his Family History Show site in due course at whilst John already has his first audio based interview online at, featuring Chris Watts, who previously worked at TNA.

The after show events were great on both Friday and Saturday, and I ended up late on Saturday night having drinkies with a large group of Scottish based genies. It was good to swap stories, have a laugh and discuss what's happening in the world from our end of the island, so much so that we have discussed the possibility of having regular informal meets here in Scotland on the back of it - so looking forward to seeing something hopefully come off the back of that.

On the genie front also, I just want to give a quick shout to something new on the SoG website. If you join the SoG you can gain access to its online digitised holdings, but I have never until now really known what they are (other than what the society shares with FindmyPast). However, they now have a great wee document on the website breaking down what is available, which will definitely be of interest if you are considering subscribing - it can be seen at

I had the pleasure to get the Tube back last night to Victoria in the company of both Else and John Hanson, and had some great chats with them both then and throughout the weekend. It takes a lot to get the thing up and running, but Else has already confirmed that the show will go on - forget any rumours you've heard to the contrary. There was obviously a lot of work put in by all of the society's reps at the event, including those who helped to man desks for the experts area and more, and they all need a serious round of applause.

Final thanks once more though to Bob and Liz Blatchford - thanks for the craic throughout the event yet again!

Oh, and I met Esther - c'est la vie....!   :)


Beware of heir hunting scammers

I have received an email from Kasia Oberc of Fraser and Fraser (, one of the firms featured in the Heir Hunters TV series, asking if I could direct readers to an email scam doing the rounds just now from unscrupulous sources claiming to be contacting people on their behalf.

The full announcement from the firm is available to read at - things to be aware of include the fact that email is rarely used to contact potential legacy beneficiaries, and avoid messages with 0845 contact numbers, which the company does not use.

(With thanks to Kasia)


Rich island story scheme

From the Department of Education (England):

New scheme to bring to life "our rich island story"

Education Secretary Michael Gove is to ask English Heritage to draw up a list of local historical sites so school children can visit them and be inspired by "our rich island story”.

Mr Gove said the part that the local historic environment has played, century after century, would inspire pupils by "bringing history alive”.

He highlighted how, for instance, schoolchildren in King's Lynn, Norfolk, could:

· see the remains of the Franciscan friary, shattered by the Reformation;
· visit the great Tudor pilgrimage chapel used as a gunpowder store during the Civil War;
· explore the opulent Restoration hotel, The Duke's Head, built to register support for James, Duke of York, during the exclusion crisis; and
· visit the dock from which explorer George Vancouver sailed to Canada.

Mr Gove said: "All of these are the physical remains of the rich, controversial and thrilling story of England. All belong to the people locally, and local children who visit them will be inspired to delve further.

"We have a rich island story, which can be brought to life by seeing our historical and heritage sites.”

English Heritage, which will receive £2.7m over three years from the Department for Education, would work with heritage partners to deliver the project. The money will go on recruiting brokers – including experts in heritage education – to work with clusters of schools and help use local heritage to deliver the curriculum.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: "Outside every school there is a rich history. In the high street, the housing estate, the park, riverside and field, every town, city and village is full of places in which significant events have taken place. We want every child, their parents and teachers to enjoy and take pride in the heritage of their local area and to understand the part it played in the rich story of England. Our Heritage Schools initiative will bring history to life both in the classroom and out of it, weaving it into the life of the community and endowing present and future generations of children with a vivid understanding of the place in which they grew up."

Both proposals could help to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War 1, in 1914, by encouraging schools to link with historical organisations to identify servicemen who lived in their local area, or study local war memorials.

The proposals come as a major independent review of cultural education by Darren Henley, the managing director of Classic FM, is due to be published this week. Mr Henley was asked by the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Mr Henley also recommends that teachers – both newly qualified and experienced – are given more support so they can demonstrate the benefits and value of cultural education to children and young people.

Darren Henley said: "There are challenges fitting all the necessary aspects of teacher training into a relatively short period of time. So I believe more support should be given to newly qualified teachers in this area.

"Experienced teachers would also benefit from the availability of more wide-ranging Continuing Professional Development, allowing them to ensure that their skills in this area remain relevant and up-to-date.

"The impact great teachers and great teaching can have on a child's engagement with cultural education should never be underestimated. Every day in schools across the country, life-changing moments happen for children because of the intervention of a dedicated teacher.

"It is vital that the schools have teachers who recognise the importance of cultural education within their schools and have the training, experience and tools to teach it to a high level."


Sunday 26 February 2012

WDYTYA Live - update!

Well, two days down and one to go - Who Do You Think You Are Live is as much fun as ever!

This is just a quick update as I am fairly exhausted after two very busy days here in London! I gave a talk yesterday on Scottish church records which was packed, a real surprise as it was the last talk of the day. Today however, I was bowled over at the second talk I gave on online Irish resources - the talk was at 3pm, tickets had sold out by 1pm, and I gave the talk to a packed theatre - some 250 attendees - and by far the biggest audience I have ever given a talk to! Managed to throw a few laughs in (always serious about what I do, but not necessarily in the way I do it!) and had some lovely comments and feedback after. It's the one talk I give which I think might actually improve people's health - they arrive in despair with ashen faces and no hope, and leave with a clutch of web links and rosey cheeks! :) I hope it helps with your research - possibly not the story about the Irish Free State Army making stockings from my wife's great grandfather's curtains during the Battle of Carrick-on-Suir, or the 1920s experiment by my 2 x great grandad to photograph ghosts at a funerals in Belfast City Cemetery - ah, but sure don't we all have stories like that?! lol Bear in mind that show notes for the talks will go online early next week on, and a huge thank you to the two ladies who signed my talk throughout - hope my accent didn't cause too many problems!

People of the Genealogical World, your attention please: a weird rumour has been going around in the last couple of days concerning the future of Who Do You Think You Are. The rumour has been circulating that there will be only one more series on the Beeb, and therefore only one more live event. Tonight, Alex Graham from Wall to Wall Television (series heid yin) told a groups at the exhibitors event after the show closed that this was complete baloney - there have been at least two more series commissioned of the UK's Who Do You Think You Are, and I've also had it confirmed that the live show should be around for at least another five years. Pop quiz - how would you replace the ultimate genealogy brand? Answer: you wouldn't. The psychologists would have a field day with you if you tried...

The expert area at SoG has so far been a lot of fun, real 'think on your feet' problem solving, and I am absolutely loving it! I also gave three interviews today - one to Nick Barratt for his Family History show vodcast, another to John Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections (but in his British Isles FHS of Greater Ottawa capacity - more on this soon, but Canada, batten down the hatches, I'm coming back!) and finally to James Young, son of Valmay Young of the Families in British India Society, who is studying a media course - been there myself matey, always happy to help out the next generation of communicators! :) (Good luck with the course!)

Couple of other quickies. Alba - Homecoming Scotland in 2014 is definitely happening - and Ulster, some non-lethal changes are coming soon on the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland website! (And a big thanks to trooper Graham Jackson at PRONI who gave me a real insight into the workings of FOI legislation in Norn Iron last night!). The Genealogist ( has also completed its 1911 census release, and is about to release unredacted images, and has a nice swanky new global search (master search) facility on its site. And a new Star Trek device is now available at the show - FlipPal, a portable device for recording documents, and one which will apparently allow me in all Vulcanness to say "scanning" in a dead pan voice as I press the start button! One for tomorrow to explore methinks...

Finally, on the Irish Family and Local History Handbook we've been run off our feet today, a much busier day than yesterday. It's available at Stall 811 from Bob and Liz Blatchford, it's £10, and is a book blessed by the Lord God himself (*subject to confirmation).

Oidhche mhath an-drasda! :)


Friday 24 February 2012

Jewish society at WDYTYA Live

From the Jewish Genealogy Society of Great Britain (

JGSGB to offer Jewish genealogical help at WDYTYA – Live! Exhibition 

If you have Jewish ancestry, or suspect that you may have, drop in on Stand 141-142 in the National Hall at the WDYTYA – Live exhibition this weekend, where the Jewish Genealogy Society of Great Britain (JGSGB) will be dispensing help and advice for the duration of the show. JGSGB experts will be manning the stand in relays of six at a time. Come along and chat – they may look terrifying but they’re quite friendly really.

As the only Jewish family history society in the UK, the JGSGB has unique expertise in Jewish genealogy, both in the UK and internationally. Being able to take advantage of experience in overseas research is vital to many Jewish family historians, whose ancestors are more likely than not to originate from Poland, Germany, or Russia, among others.

Other items of interest to Jewish researchers will include demonstrations of the JGSG’s 20,000-name online database of mid-nineteenth century UK Jews; demonstration of the genealogical archives of the Gibraltar Jewish Community of mainly Sephardic Jews, recently exclusively released to the JGSGB’s online database at JCR-UK; and a selection of free notes and help sheets on Jewish genealogical research. This is also where you can buy a wide range of specialist books and pamphlets, some published by the JGSGB itself. And who could resist a JGSGB mug, exclusively available for cash?

(With thanks to James Taylor)


Hertfordshire Archive records to be digitised

From FindmyPast (

Project announced to increase access to up to 4 million baptism, marriage and burial records dating back to 1538 .
First time that images of the original parish records from Hertfordshire will appear online

Leading UK family history website has today announced at the Who Do You Think You Are Live Show at London's Olympia that it has been awarded a digitisation contract by Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies. This significant new project will lead to the publication online for the very first time of between 3.5 and 4 million historic records from the Archives. The records are expected to launch later this year and will become fully searchable, only at

Spanning the years 1538 to 1990 (1910 for baptisms and 1928 for marriages), the records cover parish churches and bishops' transcripts from the whole of Hertfordshire, including:
. historic Hatfield, childhood home of Elizabeth I and the birthplace of the jet airliner
. the garden cities of Letchworth and Welwyn
. Ayot St Lawrence, home of writer Sir George Bernard Shaw
. Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Cheshunt and Barnet

Guy Strachan, Digitisation Manager at, said: "The addition of these historic records from Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies to will be keenly anticipated by family and local historians alike, and will undoubtedly reinforce the website's position as the place to go for UK parish records."

Susan Flood, County Archivist at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, added: "This is a fantastic step forward for us to have our parish registers available on the web for all to access easily."

The joint announcement by and Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies was one of a number made by the rapidly expanding family history website at the 3 day Who Do You Think You Are Live Show, where it has a major presence. There they will be showcasing the many record collections on the site, including parish records from Manchester Archives, Cheshire Archives and over 40 million parish records from family history societies throughout the UK, in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.

Anyone wishing to be notified when the Hertfordshire Collection becomes available can register online at to receive a newsletter.

(With thanks to Debra Chatfield)


Thursday 23 February 2012

West Country family history courses

Details of some forthcoming family history courses in Somerset can be viewed at


Irish Petty Session records go online

Here's some exciting news that I've been champing at the bit to announce for a couple of weeks!

One of the biggest ever records releases for Ireland finally gets underway today with the first phase of the Irish Petty Sessions registers from 1851-1910. These are the records of the lowest court of the land and the Irish equivalent of the English Magistrates Court.

From the FindmyPast Ireland ( website:

What was the Petty Sessions Court? 
These were the lowest courts in the country, which dealt with the vast bulk of lesser legal cases, civil and criminal. The Court was presided over by two or more unpaid Justices of Peace, or by a single paid (stipendiary) Magistrate. Judgements were made summarily by the JPs or Magistrate. In other words there was no jury. Each Court met daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the volume of cases to be heard. Every Court had a Clerk who kept the registers that are published here, and collected fees from those involved in cases. This system is still in place in Northern Ireland and Britain and usually referred to as the Magistrates Court. In the Republic the courts were replaced by the District Court in 1924.

Brian Donovan from FindmyPast Ireland very kindly sent me an example of the records a couple of weeks ago, which is presented below. The records typically contain the following:
  • Date
  • Name of Justice(s)
  • Complainant(s)
  • Defendant(s)
  • Names of witnesses
  • Cause of Complaint
  • Particulars of order or dismissal
  • The judgement
  • Act under which order made
  • The statute governing sentence
  • When and how amount ordered to be paid
  • The fine payment
  • Imprisonment
  • Name etc. of person receiving compensation
  • Name of defendant against whom order made
  • Name of defendant sentenced
  • Amount to be paid
  • Stamps and Signature Stamps for court fees
  • Judges signature

It is important to note that records for Northern Ireland are not included, and that this is only the first phase of records for the south, with some 1.2 million entries - a further 15 million records will be released throughout this year. A list of what is available for the Republic is currently available at along with further details about the collection. The first batch is particularly useful for those with relatives in Connaught or Donegal.

The following is the section on source information from the site:

What records survive? 
There are very few registers which pre-date 1851, and none for Dublin city, Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown), and some other districts either because they were excluded in the 1851 act, or because the records do not survive. Most surviving records for the Republic are held by the National Archives of Ireland. This is the source for most of the records that currently appear on this site, and will do in the future. Other records are held privately or by local libraries and we hope to include them as well. The records for Northern Ireland are either held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland or still reside in the court houses. We hope to digitise these too.

Have fun, and happy hunting! 

UPDATE: formal press release at


Wednesday 22 February 2012

19th century Merchant Navy records go online

From FindmyPast (

* First time that 19th century merchant navy records are available online
* UK merchant seamen records from two centuries now searchable at

Leading family history website has today released online for the first time Merchant Seamen records from the 19th century in association with The National Archives of the United Kingdom. 

359,000 records of individuals covering the years 1835-1857 have now been added to the website. Details contained within the records can vary, but can include name, age, place of birth, physical description, ship names and dates of voyages. Often this information can be given in the form of coded entries which can easily be deciphered using downloadable finding aids from The National Archives.

The records are taken from volumes held at The National Archives in series BT112, BT113, BT114, BT115, BT116 and BT120 and were created by central government to regulate the merchant shipping industry. As the series spans two decades, some individuals may appear in multiple series, making it possible for maritime historians or those with ancestors in the merchant navy, to trace a seaman's service over time. 

Janet Dempsey, Maritime Expert at The National Archives commented: "These records are as significant to the social historian as they are to the family historian. No other group of working class men and women had the freedom of movement and ability to see the world as these 19th century mariners. This was the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen's earliest attempts at keeping individuals records and resulted in four different registers over twenty two years. Although more of a challenge to work with than other family history sources, it can be very satisfying to decipher the codes and have your investigative efforts rewarded with sometimes surprisingly rich detail."

In 2011 published Merchant Navy Seamen records from 1918-1941 in association with The National Archives, some of which include photographs. Debra Chatfield, family historian at added: "The Merchant Navy Seamen records will be of great interest to family historians worldwide, as so many of us have generations of ancestors, who made their living at sea. These records will add more detail to our mental picture of their lives."

All the Merchant Navy Seamen records at can be searched for free from the Education & Work section of the website. Transcripts and images can be viewed either with PayAsYouGo credits or a Full Subscription.

(With thanks to Debra Chatfield at FindmyPast)


RCAHMS lecture podcasts

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Scotland (RCAHMS) has begun to release podcasts from its current lunchtime lecture series. The following podcasts can now be downloaded:

Information Matters: The Secret Life of the Database'  
RCAHMS Data and Recording staff MP3 (28MB)

'Discovering Cé: Excavations at an undocumented Pictish power centre at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire' 
Dr Gordon Noble, Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Aberdeen MP3 (43 MB)

The podcasts can be accessed at

UPDATE: RCAHMS has been in touch to say that it hopes to move to video lectures in the near future. A wonderful development.

(With thanks to @RCAHMS)


Travel to WDYTYA on Friday

Just going through some notes sent by the Society of Genealogists ( concerning travel to Who Do You Think You Are Live, as drawn up by Frank Hardy. I hope Frank does not mind me reproducing a summary of part of the notes here, as there will be some travel disruption on Friday, which may affect some, and Olympia is not the easiest place to get to.

There will be no District Line service to Olympia on the London Underground on Friday.


Go to Clapham Junction by South West Trains, then from Platform 2 take London Overground train to Olympia (one every 15 mins).

Or - London Underground via Circle Line to Kensington High Street, then a bit of a walk, or bus from stop F (2nd on right as come out of station) - routes 9, 10 and 27

Or - District Line to West Kensington - leave station, cross over busy Cromwell Road and walk up North End Road to Hammersmith Road (1/2 mile) - turn right to Olympia (on other side of road)

Or - Wimbledon/Putney Bridge or Parsons Green District Line to West brompton, then cross to London Overground platform for Northbound train to Kensington Olympia, Willesden and Stratford - service every 15 minutes.

(With grateful thanks to Frank Hardy)

UPDATE: I've been contacted by a reader who says she can see nothing on this on the Transport for London site. However, I've just called the TFL customer service number (0845 330 9880) and have been told there is no service throughout the week at all except before 6am and after 10pm. There is apparently a service at the weekends though.


BBC Radio show tickets

Tickets for the recording of the new BBC Radio 4 comedy Births, Deaths and Marriages can be applied for via the BBC at The comedy is set in a local registrar's office - full details at the site

(With thanks to Your Family Tree magazine via @yourfamtreemag on Twitter)


NLS - modern Scottish maps

The National Library of Scotland has expanded its online maps resources to include considerably more Ordnance Survey material from the late 19th century to the mid 20th. For more details visit

(With thanks to @natlibscot on Twitter)


Tracing Your Family History on the Internet

I've been informed by publishers Pen and Sword that my Tracing Your Family History on the Internet book, is close to selling out after its second print run, and as such will likely go to a third print run soon. To date it has sold over 2500 copies.

Thanks to all who have bought it so far - and if you have still to get a copy, it can be purchased from Pen and Sword via, or at this weekend's Who Do You Think You Are? Live event (