Monday 30 April 2012

New NLS catalogue coming soon

The National Library of Scotland ( will soon be launching a new look online catalogue with new features, including links to Google Books. From the site, a description of what to expect:
  • You can save searches so you will be able to re-run them again when you want
  • Items you are interested in can be saved to lists
  • Many of the items you find will have an image of the book cover
  • Some of the items will have links to Google Books, which offers more information about books such as summaries and reviews.
  • It will be easier to refine your search on language, year and collection
  • It will be more obvious how to request, print or email details of an item.


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

TNA podcast - Hidden Histories at TNA

The latest podcast from the National Archives at Kew is entitled Digging for diamonds: hidden histories at The National Archives. It is a talk given by TNA member Jenni Orme and runs to just under 45 minutes. To access the talk visit or download from iTunes.


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Saturday 28 April 2012

New releases from Aberdeenshire FHS

Aberdeenshire and North East Scotland Family History Society ( has asked me to provide details of some new releases, so here goes!

John Philip Edmond, Bookbinder, Librarian and Bibliographer of Aberdeen 1850-1906 - a short biography
John Webb

This 28 page A4 book is printed in full colour and lavishly illustrated with pictures of Edmond, as well as providing a detailed study of the man. Edmond was a prolific bibliographer, producing many extensive works on the historical publications produced in Aberdeen. From 1884-86 he produced the three volume The Aberdeen Printers 1620-1736, including many works published by Aberdeen's first printer Edward Raban. He subsequently formed a friendship with the 26th Earl of Crawford, based in Lancashire, and helped to catalogue the library at his son's Balcarres home in Fife.

Cost: £6

Alexander Kerr of Menie (c1644-1730) and the Smiths of Iveramsay
Val McCallum

This is a two part volume. The first provides a detailed account of Alexander Kerr's life story, an Aberdonian merchant of the 17th century who acquired the Menie estate in 1659. The book takes us through the Kerr family's time in Aberdeen, with recollections of the Covenanters, the plague, witchcraft and the historic old city itself. The second part of the book deals with the Smith family of Inveramsay (based on Garioch), connected by marriage to the Kerrs, and who also served on the council of Aberdeen. Again, fully illustrated in colour and methodically indexed.

Cost: £9

Also available on CD - The Alexanders of Bourtie 1696-1886: A Family History Journey, by Ian G MacDonald. £7.50

(With thanks to Jean Shirer)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Review - Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors

Pen and Sword have kindly sent me through some family history titles to review, so here goes with the first!

Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors
Emma Jolly

It was not that long ago that I discovered that I had a few connections to India. On the one hand, a cousin of my grandfather, Rev. William Paton, worked as a missionary there in the early 20th century, counting Mahatma Ghandi as one of many Indians with whom he would have regular dealings. More specifically to my own bloodline is my connection through my three times great grandfather Alexander William Halliday. Alexander's death entry in a military muster roll in 1866 pointed out that he had an Indian birth, but the person who found the actual birth record for me at the British Library was genealogist Emma Jolly.

Based in London, Emma lives and breathes British Indian research, and so as a prospective author for a title in the Pen and Sword "Tracing" series, there was no better candidate. As with other titles in the range, Emma's work very much focusses on how to get the best from the vast myriad of resources both offline and online that can help with the subject matter at hand. In that regard it is as competent as some of the best in the range, but the thing that I really like about this book is the fact that it did not just tell me about those resources, it also told me about the very history of British India itself, with some occasional and surprising gems. For one thing, I had no idea that Scotland temporarily tried to compete with the English East India Company in the east through "The Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies", which lasted just a few years from 1695 (have only just twigged that this was the same company behind the Darien disaster!) For another, the colonial connections of the British Empire to China and Africa become greatly crystallised when you realise how important the role of India was as the lynchpin of that empire. It's one of the few books that I've read where I actually understand that empire.

The book is structured across ten chapters. the first provides a solid overview of the key repositories and societies that can help with your research, from the British Library and the National Library of Scotland to the Families in British India Society. The next three chapters are where the fun really begins with a comprehensive overview of the history of the East India Company and the subsequent Raj. Chapter 5 sees a full discussion on the research of military forces, both raised locally and dispatched from Britain (with Alexander Halliday and his father William making a guest appearance on p.72!). Subsequent chapters deal with maritime industries and merchants, schools, religion, the railways and more. Chapter 9 has a helpful guide to probate research in India, whilst the final chapter deals with India after 1947, and the end of the British Empire.

A thoroughly solid and enjoyable read from start to finish, this provides both a definitive history for beginners and a comprehensive family history guide for all to the greatest asset of the former British Empire.

£14.99, paperback (£10.30 through P&S - see

(With thanks to Pen and Sword)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Chesterfield FHS bank holiday event

Chesterfield and District Family History Society is hosting an exhibition at Chesterfield Museum in Derbyshire from Saturday 5th May to Monday 7th May. The event will run from 10am to 4pm both days and experienced researchers will be on hand to answer family history enquiries.

For more information visit


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Lewisham libraries family history events

Several family history taster sessions, courses, trips and events are all available at Lewisham's libraries in May, thanks to a partnership with For more information visit


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Chelsea Pension and Glamorgan parish registers indexes

FamilySearch ( has added an index to its British Isles collection for 933,943 Chelsea Pension records from 1760-1913. Not much is returned in a search other than a name and an estimated birth year, with no details on regiment. The index acts as a gateway to the original images at FindmyPast ( In this case I would suggest the FindmyPast website is probably a better search tool for these records.

Also launched on FamilySearch is an index database of 921,889 entries from Glamorgan parish registers from 1558-1900, courtesy of Glamorgan Family History Society. There are no images but the transcripts are quite detailed.

(With thanks to John Reid of the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog for the Glamorgan spot)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Friday 27 April 2012

Retours of Services of Heirs 1544-1699

This is not a new development, just one that I appear to have picked up on very late!

I've just noticed that the three volumes of the Inquisitionum ad Capellam Domini Regis Retirnatarum Abbreviatio 1544-1699 are all available on Google Books, having been digitised in mid-2010. For those with an allergy to Latin, these are the abridgements to the Retours of Services of Heirs for that period.

In Scotland, when a person died, there was no automatic right to inherit property or land (heritable estate). The right to inherit this was said to be "in hereditate jacente" of the deceased owner, and before being officially recognised as an heir any incumbent was known as an "apparent heir" (not to be confused with the English phrase "heir apparent"). To formally inherit, he or she had to jump through a few hoops to be legally recognised as the heir. If the land in question was held feudally of the Crown, the process involved popping along to a local jury called the Services of Heirs, where they would confirm that you were who you said you were, and then send notice to the Scottish Chancery about it, via a 'retour' - at which point, voila, it was yours. (Not all inheritance was dealt with like this - if the land was held of a subject superior, rather than of the Crown, all you needed was a document called a 'precept of clare constat').

There were two types of retours - Special Services (or special retours) and General Services (general retours). The Special Services tended to deal with estates, and the abridgements provide a lot of detail on the properties being conveyed, as well as notes on the parties involved, date and value (extent) of the land; whilst the General Services were much more basically indexed. The records for the Special Services are grouped chronologically in order by county, whilst those for the General Services are all lumped together in one big national chronology. The abridgements are not quite complete, with a volume missing from 1611-1614, for example, with others also missing sporadically throughout. (Bear in mind also that some services are also to be found in sheriff, burgh and regality courts, and were never retoured to the Chancery).

The abridgements in the volumes deal with both sets of retours up to 1699. Unfortunately most of them are in Latin (with an exception around the Commonwealth period in the mid-17th century), but they are indexed by name (index nominum) and by place (index locorum). Special Services are abridged in Volume 1 (Aberdeen to Orkney and Shetland) and Volume 2 (Peebles to Wigton), whilst the General Services are abridged in Volume 2. The indexes are in Volume 3 for both types of services. There are also a few other minor sets of records to do with appointments of tutors to those inheriting in their minority, or those not sound of mind.

The records are on Google Books via the following links:

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

There are additional indexes for retours from 1700-1859 available on a separate CD from the Scottish Genealogy Society ( - these are much more basic, and in English. The original documents for all are available at the National Records of Scotland ( There is also a CD available for the records from 1544-1699, which I've been using, but obviously having them freely available online and fully keyword searchable is a bit more advantageous! Incidentally, the indexes continued beyond 1859 up to the mid 20th century, but after 1868 land could be bequeathed in a will in Scotland.

There's a bit more on all of this at and on my Walking in Eternity blog at


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Going to School in London

From the Heritage Services Division of the City of London's Culture, Heritage and Libraries Department:

Remembering London Lives: Going to School in London

Come along and share your memories of school days in London. There will be a chance to see film footage from the Inner London Education Authority, documents and photographs. There will also be time to share your thoughts and memories of your time at school or as a schoolteacher. Full programme on website.

This event held at London Metropolitan Archives on Friday 18 May from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm is FREE - but you must book in advance on 020 7332 3851.

Visitor information is available at


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

LGBTI History Club meetings in London

A new series of regular meetings is to be held by the LGBTI History Club in London, with the first to be held to at London Metropolitan Archives on Wednesday 9th May from 6 to 7.30 pm. The club is free to attend, and there host regular presentations, talks and special events relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex history in London. Further information for visitors is available at

(With thanks to Heritage Services Division of the City of London's Culture, Heritage and Libraries Department)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Ancestry keeps professional genies happy

I had not heard that the US parent company of Ancestry ( had recently changed its terms and conditions about use of the site, but apparently it has kicked up a bit of a kerfuffle in the US. American blogger Dick Eastman has a post this morning that thankfully carries a response from the company which seems to have resolved the issue.

It would appear that the changes removed a phrase about the use of the site by professional genealogists, seemingly excluding them. This appears to have been more of a cock up than a conspiracy, and in a letter Ancestry's PR bod Matthew Deighton has described how the legal team has now changed the terms once again to say the following:

“You may access the Website, use the graphics, information, data, editorial and other Content only for personal or professional family history research, and download Content only as search results relevant to that research.”

Genies can once again breathe a sigh of relief! Eastman's full post is at

Incidentally, compare that to RootsIreland's equivalent clause at

"You may use the content on the website for private and non-commercial purposes only. You may not use the records to create your own work (e.g. a database of records, an article, publication), copy or reproduce the records (either in whole or in part), or make available, share or publish them unless you have our permission in writing."

Guess that that goes to show there are certainly ways and means of doing things...

UPDATE: In the interests of fairness, Findmypast ( has a similar clause:

"You can only use the website for your own personal non-commercial use, e.g., to research your own family history. We are also happy for you to help out other people with their family history by telling them about records available on the website and how and where they can be found, including showing them anything within our free search results. However, you must not provide them with copies of any of the records (either an original image of the record or the information on the results page), even if you provide them for free."

I've not actually yet found any terms and conditions on The Genealogist ( - I presume they must be there somewhere!


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Thursday 26 April 2012

Family History Day in Leeds

A Family History Day will be held at Pudsey Civic Hall, in Pudsey, Leeds, this weekend on Saturday April 28th from 10am-4.30pm. Many organisations and vendors will be in attendance from across Yorkshire and beyond. Admission is £2.50, although FHS and LHS members get in for £2.

For a full list of those attending, and for further information, visit


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Buckinghamshire FHS Open Day

Buckinghamshire Family History Society ( will be holding an open day on Saturday 28th July 2012, from 10am to 4pm at the Grange School, Wendover Way, Aylesbury HP21 7NH. For further information visit

(With thanks to the Chiltern Voice)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Save The Women's Library campaign

I have just picked up on a campaign to save The Women's Library at London Metropolitan University which is in danger of serious decline by the end of this year, following the university's decision to wash its hands of responsibility for the facility.

The following letter was posted on the Save the Women's Library blog at

Dear Friend,

We are writing to ask for your help to save The Women's Library, London Metropolitan University.

In March the University's Board of Governors decided to divest its responsibilities for The Womens Library. If no new sponsor or home is found for the Library by December 2012, its collection will essentially be mothballed and services reduced to an unrecognisable level. It will open just one day a week, lose most of its staff, and its exhibitions, public and schools programmes will all come to an end.

The Women's Library is a unique and internationally renowned collection (Britain's largest resource on women) and holds UNESCO-recognized documents. It was just ten years ago that the Library finally acquired its own premises in an award winning building in London's East End. Great strides have been made in opening up access to this key part of our national heritage, through exhibitions, events, education programmes, and a Reading Room service free and open to all.

The Save The Women's Library Campaign formed in response to the threat of the Library's near closure and the possible dispersal of the collection. We recognise the worth of The Women's Library and want to ensure it continues to thrive. We want to save the Library as it exists today: to retain the integrity of its world-renowned collections; the expertise of its staff; and the building, which has become a vibrant hub for its users, supporters and friends.

We need your help. There are many ways in which you can show your support for The Women's Library: sign the online Save The Women's Library petition; write to Malcolm Gillies, Vice Chancellor of London Metropolitan University expressing your concern about the Library's future (you can find a model letter on our blog); send your testimonials and messages of support to the campaign website; and follow us on Twitter @savetwl .

We are confident that with your support we can ensure that The Women's Library not only survives but also thrives.

Many thanks

Save the Women's Library Campaign

Please give consideration to supporting the campaign - the blog has various posts of support, well worth reading. Good luck to the campaign - and please spread the word!

(With thanks to Claire Norman @clairenor)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Documents unfit to produce at TNA

The National Archives' blog has an interesting piece about documents that are classified by the institution as "unfit for production". Most researchers will at some stage ask to see a document at an archive only to be told that it is too fragile to consult, leaving you fuming as to why they bother to hold onto the document in the first place! In fact there can often be extremely good reasons for such denial of access, and whilst new technologies continue to develop, there is always the possibility of such items being rescued or made available in due course.

I recently posted about an item on this blog about the efforts of the National Archives of Ireland's conservation team to rescue badly damaged teachers salary books in its care (see For a global overview of how the National Archives at Kew manages similar items, visit the archive's blog post by Sarah VanSnick from the Collection Care Department at

Fascinating stuff!


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Registers of Scotland - Glasgow office move

This one passed me by recently, so a quick announcement. The Glasgow based Customer Service Centre for Registers of Scotland ( has been relocated from George Square to Douglas Street:

Glasgow Customer Service Centre

The Customer Service Centre in Glasgow is now located at the following address:

Hanover House
24 Douglas Street
G2 7NQ

Opening Hours
  • Monday 08.30 – 16.00
  • Tuesday 08.30 – 16.00
  • Wednesday 10.00 – 16.00
  • Thursday 08.30 – 16.00
  • Friday 08.30 – 16.00

The contact details are unchanged.

Tel. 0845 607 0164
Fax. 0141 306 1721
LP 12 Glasgow 5
DX 501752 Glasgow 9

(Images from Google)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Inside History's NSW State Library iPad app

This is one for those of you with Australian connections. The new Inside History magazine, launched just under a year ago in Oz by Cassie and Ben Mercer, has teamed up with the State Library of New South Wales to create a new free special edition app allowing you a tour of the facility. Here's the press release:

A fantastic new iPad app lets you look inside the vaults of one of the world’s great libraries and is now free to download on the App Store.

Inside History magazine has just launched a special iPad edition which allows users to explore, share and interact with the State Library of NSW’s unrivalled collection like never before.

“Inside History magazine is thrilled to be working with the talented team at the State Library to launch this unique tour of arguably one of the world’s great libraries,” says Cassie Mercer, Inside History editor.

“I was nine when I first visited the State Library of NSW from the country, and I still remember being mesmerised by the Mitchell Library’s extraordinary leadlight windows and the seemingly endless levels and shelves of books stacked up to meet them. I feel like I grew up at the Library,” says Ms Mercer

This special edition brings together short films, photo galleries and highlights from staff curators and guest writers who reveal the intimate history of objects, their creators and owners. Many intriguing questions are answered, like why the Macquarie Collector’s Chest was created and how the original 1644 Tasman map ended up in Paris and then at the State Library.

The feature story on the current major exhibition, Lewin: Wild Art, takes you into the world of a young illustrator, John Lewin (1770-1819), who was inspired by Australia’s flora and fauna to develop his own remarkable style. And this issue is sumptuously illustrated with Lewin’s beautiful artwork.

Users can go behind the scenes as State Library of NSW conservators restore 3,500 glass plate negatives from the gold rush, discovered in a garden shed in Chatswood in 1951. This extraordinary find proved to be the most important photographic documentation of goldfields life in Australia.

“From displaying Matthew Flinders’ logbook and journal on board the Queen Mary 2 as it retraced his circumnavigation, to utilising new technologies, the State Library continues to explore new opportunities to ensure as many people as possible have the chance to engage with the Library’s remarkable collections,” says NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive, Alex Byrne.

“Inside History is an active champion of the State Library and, with our shared passion for making history interesting and accessible, we jumped at the chance to jointly launch this special iPad edition,” says Dr Byrne.

“It’s a wonderful addition to our extensive online offerings and we hope it makes people wonder what else might surprise from in the vaults of the State Library.”

Download the free app at for your chance to win an original illustration of Paul Keating from the sharp pen of Daily Telegraph cartoonist, Warren Brown.

NB: The iPad app for the magazine also allows you to download back issues and further issues if you choose, though the special edition of the magazine as noted above is free. I've just had a play, and the content is great, though worth warning in advance that the navigation takes a wee bit of getting used to - you swipe left and right to get to different articles, but have to swipe up and down to get to different pages of each individual article, so slightly three dimensional!

For Android tablet users, stay tuned for the digital version of Inside History magazine, which will be launching with issue 10 via the Zinio platform.

(Nice one Cassie!)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Llanwarne event to save glass roundels

From Herefordshire Family History Society (, news of an event to celebrate the history of Llanwarne Past and Present. The event is being held to raise funds for the conservation of a collection of 27 Flemish 16th century stained glass roundels of Christ Church. There will be a ticket only exhibition preview evening Friday 18th May at 7.00, including a talk on the roundels, followed by Cheese and Wine and valuations of attendees' treasured antiques and collectables.

Following this will be two days of events and exhibition around the village, for which entry is free. Preview evening tickets are £7.50 or £10 to include the valuation of an item. For further information and preview evening tickets please call 01981 540825 or 07867 808819

Further details at


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

British FamilySearch updates

The following FamilySearch collections have either been updated or added in the last week:
  • England, Kent, Parish Registers, 1538-1911 (browse images)
  • England, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603-1910 (957,350 records)
  • Wales, Probate Abstracts, 1544-1858 (browse images)

To use the collections visit


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Northern Irish libraries eBooks service

Residents across Northern Ireland can now download eBooks from the country's library service for free. The books can be read in various e-readers, with some 25,000 titles to choose from, including many history titles. Each book can be downloaded for three weeks, with users able to have up to nine titles at a time.

The full announcement is available at

(With thanks to NI Direct @nidirect on Twitter)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

FindmyPast: Chester wills & more Boer War records

FindmyPast ( has added 113,000 Chester wills and probate records to its site for the period 1492-1911, including all surviving original wills of Cheshire residents proved at the Chester diocesan consistory court 1492-1857, as well as copies made at Chester Probate Registry 1858-1911. They are included within the site's Cheshire Collection.

Also published today are 10,000 new Boer War records, as follows:
  • The complete Queen's South Africa medal roll for the Coldstream Guards, Irish Guards, 1st battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and Rundles Scouts
  • The Wepener clasp rolls for Royal Scots, Royal Engineers, Cape Mounted Rifles, Driscoll's Scouts and the Kaffrarian Rifles
(With thanks to FindmyPast)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Irish petty sessions and Registry of Deeds

FindmyPast Ireland ( has announced that three million more Irish petty session records will be released in May, with an additional ten million in the following months. They've also highlighted an article on the Irish Registry of Deeds, and how it can help with your research - see There are an estimated 600,000 deeds in the Registry between 1708 and 1830, and a further 1.5 million recorded between 1830 and 1929.

Incidentally, there is an online project that has partially indexed some of these deeds at update on the site last week shows that the site now has 90,0005 names indexed from 11,162 memorials of deeds.

(With thanks to FindmyPast Ireland)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

The - April news

Thanks to Beth Snow at TheGenealogist ( for the following news update:

1.5 Million Parish Records Added

For the first time, we have recently added over 1.5 Million Parish Records covering various counties across the country including Berkshire, Cumberland, Devon, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Westmorland, Worcestershire & Yorkshire.

These Parish Record Transcripts include Baptisms, Marriages, Marriage Banns and Burials spanning 600 years, ranging from 1394-2009.

Illustrated London News from 1842-1862

For the first time The Illustrated London News is available online from 1842-1862 on TheGenealogist. Covering International and National events, it gives us a great insight into the lives of our ancestors. Not only do these papers give detailed reports on the goings on around the World, but you will also find notices of Births, Marriages and Deaths, Wills and Bequests along with beautiful illustrations. The records are fully searchable, and have bookmarks for articles and sections.

[One such major event was The Great Exhibition in 1851, which the Crystal Palace was built to hold]

FREE ACCESS to Passenger Lists

We are offering free access to our Titanic crew & passenger lists. These are searchable by name or you can browse by class (1st, 2nd, 3rd, Crew). The records contain a large amount of information about survivors and of those who didn’t make it. Simply go to and register for free.

Overseas BMDs

Over 300,000 transcripts have been added to complete our Overseas Birth Marriage and Deaths of British Service Personnel throughout the world.

Welsh Historical Records

These cover West Wales for variety of different resources such as Baptisms, Marriage Bonds, Burials, Gentry records and more.


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

PRONI lecture online: Urban History

From Gavin McMahon at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (

The next lecture in the Exploring Local History series is now available on YouTube. This lecture is on the subject of ‘Urban History’ and is presented by Dr Olwyn Purdue. Please follow the attached links to the six segments to view.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

(With thanks to Gavin)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Who Do You Think You Are Live in Scotland?

Scotland's Ancestral Tourism Steering Group has just sent out a letter asking for an expression of interest in exhibiting at a possible Who Do You Think You Are? Live special event to be based in Scotland in 2014, the year of the next Homecoming Scotland event. The first thing to point out is that this is not yet confirmed, and may only go ahead if the interest is there in supporting it.

It is certainly the situation that in its usual home of London, it is the world's largest family history event, with some 15,000 visitors attending over the run of its three days. It is also the case that because it is in London, for Scots it is usually crippling in its expense, not so much for the table hire, but for the associated travel and accommodation costs which can run into four figures for groups. Obviously to have a Scottish based event would change that substantially. For all my chums in Ireland, it is also just a hop and a skip away by ferry, and for my chums down south... Glasgow's lovely! :)

The proposal is for the event to be held at Glasgow's Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre ( It has the full support of both VisitScotland and EventScotland, as well as the SECC, and is actively under consideration by Immediate Media in Bristol, the company that now runs the London based event.

From the letter:

What could your organisation do?
Experience from Olympia shows that the bodies who benefit most from WDYTYA LIVE! are those who engage most fully with it. Please consider the following possibilities:
  • take a stand – the most straightforward level of involvement;
  • offer Talks into the Workshop programme – attendees from the general public greatly value the themed Talks, Ask The Expert sessions, Celebrity Lectures and other events;
  • consider holding your AGM, Annual Meeting or Special Conference as a satellite meeting to the show – a chance to bring your membership together at a showcase event

And spread the word!

If you would be interested in participating, or wish to find out more at this early stage, you are asked to contact the chair of the Ancestral Tourism Steering Group, Bruce Durie, at, and Caitlin Phetnoi at Immediate Media, the WDYTYA organisers, at

COMMENT: My feeling on this is that if it happens, there will never be a better run event in Scotland that would attract such media coverage, make such an impact for the Scottish public or reap such benefits for the Scottish genealogical community in all of its forms. This would be the first major international genealogy event to be held in Scotland.

Some may not have been to the event in London, and so may not realise quite how big a thing the show is. If that is the case, I would recommend having a look at its website at - you will see a video on the right hand side of the screen that runs for just under nine minutes, with feedback from the last event from its users.

I have also previously written reports on the event both on my old Scottish GENES blog and the current British GENES blog. These reports can be found as follows:





2014 is going to be a landmark year for Scotland in terms of its visitor attractions, including the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, the Bannockburn anniversary and the Homecoming itself, but it is also a year that will focus on identity, with the small matter of a certain referendum to happen later in the year. It will be a year about Scotland and Scottishness, our future but also very much about our past, with all sorts of events to focus on what that holds for all of us, and family history absolutely needs to be at the very heart of that. I'd personally prefer someone to come to an event at the SECC to find out exactly how they are tied to our land than to waste their money in some kilt shop in Edinburgh, so this gets a huge thumbs up from me!

Please do give this some serious consideration, as I suspect opportunities like this won't come along that often.

Alba gu bragh! :) And if it happens - I'll see you there!

(With thanks to Bruce Durie)

UPDATE: Just to add, the SECC also has parking for 2000 cars, Glasgow has a public transport system that works, and the SECC is a ten minute walk from the city centre...!


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Family Tree Books and Charts

Time for a quick plug for a Glasgow based service called Family Tree Books and Charts, which produces quality bound copies of family histories and all sorts of charts. I met both Malcolm Holt and Leslie Williamson from the service at the SAFHS Conference in Dundee last Saturday, and was impressed with the products they have to offer.

To view their wares visit, where you will also find a short demonstration video outlining what to expect within the books. The service itself is based at Unit 9, Claremonet Centre, Glasgow, G41 1BS, and can be contacted via


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Sunday 22 April 2012

Family history courses in Chard

Somerset Skills and Learning are offering two new family history courses at the Boden Centre in Chard over the next fortnight. Each will start at 10am and finishing at 4pm, with a break for lunch. The courses are:
  • A Pre-1837 record course on Friday, April 27, and Friday, May 4, looking at parish records, poor law, wills and probate, maps and old photos.
  • An organising, writing up and presenting course, on Saturday, May 19. (Not a beginners' course, but for those further along with their research)
For more information call Rose at the Boden Centre on 01460-63900.

(With thanks to the This is the West Country website)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

RCAHMS to merge with Historic Scotland?

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland may be on the point of merging with Historic Scotland. That's one of three options facing the body in a review that will be presented to the Scottish Government in May. Other option include maintaining the current status quo or a complete reconstitution of the commission. The full story is on the BBC website at


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Devon Family History Society Small Projects

I've just picked up on a great partnership project between the Devon Family History Society and all three record offices in Devon, which has been running for some ten years, and which aims to create transcriptions and/or indexes to several records sets of potential use for family historians from lesser known collections.

To date there have been some 188 publications from the project - a great example of what can be achieved between a family history society working in collaboration with its local archive. For more information visit

These are the kinds of projects that the big vendor corporations will likely not touch, but which are every bit as useful, proving that family history societies continue to have as much of a pioneering role to play in the 21st century genealogical landscape as they did in the 20th.

If you would like to join your local family history society, visit the Federation of Family History Societies page at for England and Wales, the Association of Family History Societies for Wales at, the Scottish Association of Family History Societies at or the North of Ireland Family History Society at

There are many other similar projects running across the UK, and they're always looking for people to help out - and they may just help you to smash a brick wall or two...!


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Alumni records from Ulster Historical Foundation

The Ulster Historical Foundation has released an Alumni Dublinesses database on its site at, detailing graduates of Trinity College Dublin from 1593-1860, with 32,345 entries.

The same collection has been previously released on FindmyPast Ireland (, though the coverage given there is stated to be from 1560-1843, where it is noted that it "is especially valuable for its list of over 32,000 names from 1593-1637, a period for which no registers survive". I suspect despite the year coverage listed that these are likely to be the same collection in scope, if the numbers of entries stated to be given are correct.

The UHF has also published another database entitled Royal Belfast Academical Institute Alumni 1814-1875, with 5136 entries.

The UHF databases are not free, and to access them you need to pay an annual fee of £31, one of the reasons I seldom use the site, though they do have an increasing range of material available. One free collection they host which may help if you have trouble trying to connect to an origin point in Ireland is the Distribution of Surnames in Ireland in 1890 (Matheson's special report). This details the frequencies of names recorded in birth registrations from 1890, and can be helpful if you have absolutely no idea were to start with your Irish ancestor's location on the island - especially if it is quite a rare name. To access it directly visit

The original report itself, first published in 1894, is available via the Internet Archive at

(With thanks to Bobby Forrest)

UPDATE: The UHF collection looks to have been sourced from the second edition of the Alumni Dublinenses publication, with the FindmyPast collection taken from the first edition, hence why the UHF database extends to 1860. The first edition of the work is also found on Family Relatives (


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

SAFHS Conference 2012 - report

I got home at 11pm last night after two great days in Dundee. On Friday I did some client research at Dundee Central Library in the Wellgate Centre and then at Dundee City Archives. Whilst managing to achieve a great deal at both, it was the first time I had used both institutions. In particular I had a lot of time for the archives and the staff there, who helped me to achieve an unbelievable amount in the short time I had, from various records of customs and excise staff. I look forward to future visits to both institutions.

Yesterday, however, was the annual SAFHS conference (, which was once again a thoroughly enjoyable event - a chance to catch up with many friends and to hear some great lectures. The venue was the University of Dundee, with the main vendor and FHS stalls set up in the Bonar Hall, and the lectures in a small theatre in the building next door. I attended all of the talks in the morning, and then spent the afternoon catching up with various people.

The lectures I attended were a fascinating mix. Ron Scrimgeour gave a talk on the Nine Trades of Dundee and the weaver calling in particular, which I was extremely interested in, having previously studied the same industry just further down the Tay in Perth. It was great in particular to learn more about the jute industry in the city, and its connections to India, and how it came to prominence as a result of Napoleon's trade blockade in the early 19th century. Incidentally, I learned later in the day that the records of the Weavers Incorporation of Perth, which I photographed a few years ago, and which I am currently transcribing, have finally been deposited with Perth and Kinross Archives - they are a wonderful resource, so if you can't wait for me to finish, you can now get direct access at the archive (although it is temporarily closed for refurbishment for a few weeks)!

Bruce Durie also gave an interesting talk on the detective stories of Dick Donovan, aka JEP Muddock, a story I was partly familiar with having studied the Muddock family as part of the Strathclyde University course I did a few years back. A lot of interesting discussion on how Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes was not the start of the detective genre, some interesting connections to Dundee and also the painter Edvard Munch. In his introduction Bruce also mentioned that he would be going to Dundee a bit more in the future, as he will apparently be involved in the University of Dundee's genealogy postgraduate programme.

My favourite talk of the morning though was by Professor Geoff Squire (see pic below) on crops and their development and use in the 1700s and 1800s. It was a great presentation discussing how various crops were used and introduced - e.g. the development of legumes became more prominent when it was realised they fixed nitrogen in the soil - and how the agricultural revolution fitted in with other developments in Scotland such as industrialisation. A great presentation.  For those unable to attend, I tweeted throughout with some of the key points, which can be read at my twitter page at

After a good feed of soup and sandwiches I then spent the afternoon talking with a few folk. Several family history societies that I have given talks at were present, so many familiar faces (and great to see the societies from Troon and East Ayrshire had travelled as far as I had!), and also some other folk from the industry, such as Alison Wallace of Brightsolid, looking radiant after recovering from a recent illness, the effervescent Karen Nichols of Scotia Heritage, my former Strathclyde course tutor Graham Holton, Ken Nisbet from SAFHS, and the ever energetic Helen Grant from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions. I also met a couple that I had previously met in a pub in London two years ago at Who Do You Think You Are Live, a former Pharos student, and many others. The event itself felt a wee bit quieter than recent years, on a par with last year perhaps, but perhaps a bit down in numbers on the previous, but nevertheless a fun day.

In the evening I went for a few drinks and a meal with fellow genies Chris Halliday, Marie Dougan and Ali MacDonald, a great chance to discuss the issues that we find facing us just now as full time professional genealogists, as well as to have a bit of a laugh and a catch up. Some exciting times ahead on various fronts!

Final thanks though to whoever organised the raffle and the goodie bags. On the goodie bags front, the addition of a wee jar of maramalade was inspirational, as was the inclusion of a small booklet on the history of the Dundee customs and excise men (which I am currently researching for a client), but I was also a winner at the end of the day - in the raffle I won salt and pepper shakers and some flowery notepaper. Sadly nothing fermented though, but I'm hoping my streak of luck continues at the event next year!


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Saturday 21 April 2012

Scottish DNA Project update

News from Alasdair MacDonald of the Scottish DNA Project at the University of Strathclyde:

1. The Scottish DNA Project currently has over 4500 participants.

2. The merger of the Scottish and Scotland Projects is nearing completion. Some results still have to be sorted on the result pages.

3. On the Y-DNA results page insert 5000 into the default page size to see all the results (give it time to open).

4. Our project blog can be found at

5. We appreciate your support and hope you will recommend the project to you matches who qualify for the Project. The project welcomes individuals who have a Scottish lineage on their own direct paternal (yDNA) or maternal (mtDNA) line of descent. For example - father > grandfather > great-grandfather > great-great-grandfather or mother > grandmother > great-grandmother > great-great-grandmother etc.

There's also a sale on at Family TreeDNA until midnight tonight (Saturday), if you're thinking of signing up. The site is at

(With thanks to Ali)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Irish Photo Archive

The latest Genealogy in Time newsletter has news of a photographic upload of interest to those with Irish connections. The Irish Photo Archive carries images from the Lensmen Press and Public Relations Photographic Agency archive of 2.6 million pictures of Ireland, including street scenes, photos of famous events, weddings photos, communions and family portraits, and more. The site is available at

The Genealogy in Time newsletter is available at

(With thanks to Genealogy in Time)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Friday 20 April 2012

Electric Scotland newsletter

Some works in progress on the Electric Scotland website (

Electric Canadian
Scottish Poets in America
Northern Notes and Queries (Dec 1889 added)
Songs of Robert Burns
The Bards of Bon Accord 1375 - 1860
The History of Blairgowrie
Neil Munro
Brother Scots
The History of Brechin
Culross and Tulliallan (New Book)
Robert Burns Lives!
Thistles And Ferns Part 3.
Three Hundred Things a Bright Boy Can Do
The Rise and Progress of Whisky-Drinking in Scotland

The latest newsletter is available at

(With thanks to Alastair McIntyre)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Thursday 19 April 2012

TNA podcast - colonial records

The National Archives has placed a new podcast online entitled An introduction to the first tranche of colonial administration records released at The National Archives. The talk by Dr Edward Hampshire concerns the new release of the 'migrated archives' and also has an accompanying PDF document with further information available.

To access the podcast and PDF file visit The talk should also be available via iTunes.


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

More Handsworth Cemetery burials online

Findmypast ( has placed online 12,000 burial records from Birmingham's Handsworth cemetery, covering the period from 1909-2010. In total this now brings the collection to 74,623 records.

(With thanks to FindmyPast)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

English and Welsh probate calendars and soldiers wills to go online

With thanks to Beryl Evans of the Federation of Family History Societies ( for the following, but also to Geoff Swinfield @GeoffatGSGS who contacted me via Twitter with similar information, and who has similarly blogged about it at

The following report has been received from Lady Teviot, FFHS representative at the Probate Stake Holders Meeting held in London on 17th April 2012

Chaired by John Briden from HMCTS and representatives from Iron Mountain Document Management.

Much of the discussion centred on the time taken for the for the production of copies and whether the one hour service at First Avenue House which has been discontinued and replaced by a forty eight service should be reinstated. John Briden said that the service had to cater for different users most of whom were happy with the present arrangement. Another point which took up time was the sealing of wills and resealing and this was from the legal viewpoint and not from family historians


The discovery of 300,000 Soldiers Wills in boxes which have never been entered in the Calendars will become available online by the end of the year is of great interest. They cover the Crimean War, the 1st WW and the 2nd WW, no mention was made of the Boer War. They apply to non commissioned officers.

The order of which it is thought wills and administrations will come online is:
  • Soldiers Wills
  • Probate 2006 to current
  • 1996 to 2005
  • 1940 to 1995
  • 1858 to 1900
  • 1901 to 1939

There was some discussion as to whether the last two were in the correct order of availability.
The using of the calendars will be the same as looking at a book and turning the pages.

NB: Many of the English calendars are already available via Ancestry (up to 1941), though there are gaps in the coverage, so this will be welcome news, as will the release of the hitherto unknown of soldiers' wills for 300,000 soldiers killed in action between the Crimean War and WW2. Geoff's blog has further details on how these will be presented online.

For access to the equivalent southern Irish calendars, please the dedicated link at the top of this blog (right hand side of page).


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Eltham Crematorium records online

More news from Deceased Online (

Extensive data available in 210,000 records for Eltham Crematorium
  • All 210,000 records for one of London's biggest and busiest crematoria are now available on
  • As one of the Capital's largest cremation facilities, it services a large part of South East London including two London Borough areas, Bexley and Greenwich, together with the Dartford area in North West Kent
  • The records for Eltham comprise the most comprehensive range that Deceased Online has ever included for a crematorium
  • Digital scans of cremation registers typically include: name, address, marital status, cremation number, date of cremation, date of death, age, sex, denomination, occupation, applicant and death registration details
  • In addition, for the first time we have included the map locations of ashes, scattering and burial, in the Crematorium grounds (where available)
  • There are now nearly 1.5 million records for London on Deceased Online together with records for nearby Tunbridge Wells Cemetery and Kent & Sussex Crematorium
NB: records going online this evening so should be there by tomorrow, Friday

(With thanks to Richard Gray)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Irish burial records on Ancestry

Ancestry has a new search screen for a collection entitled Ireland: Burial Index 1600-1927, online at There is little source information other than to say that the information has been lifted from the Republic's Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht collection from, last accessed by Ancestry on 19 February 2012. 293306 records are included. As with the Kerry burial records last week, the search results link to the Irish Genealogy site, with the collection itself not hosted on Ancestry (though I've been having problems connecting through to the original data).


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Teesside University Library - temporary closure

With thanks to Beryl Evans from the Federation of Family History Societies ( for the following:

Teesside University Library will be undergoing major refurbishment starting on 24th May until 3rd September 2012. Archive and Special collections will therefore be inaccessible from 24th May until 26th June. Limited access may be available after this period by appointment. Normal service will resume on 3rd September 2012. Please contact the Teesside University Library Archivist, Suzanne Heywood, at for further details.


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

SAFHS Conference 2012

I've just signed up to attend this year's SAFHS Conference, entitled "Crops, Cloth, Cod 'n' Coal", which is taking place at the University of Dundee this coming Saturday 21st April. I am very much looking forward to it, particularly as I am also intending to get a full day's research in on Friday in the area beforehand for a client!

Details on the conference, being organised jointly by both Tay Valley Family History Society and Fife Family History Society, are available at - hopefully see a few of you there!


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Colonial records released at TNA

The National Archives ( has granted access in its reading rooms to the first batch of records from its new colonial records acquisitions, aka the 'migrated archives'. The first release includes material from Aden, Anguilla, Bahamas, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, British Indian Ocean Territories, Brunei, Cyprus, Kenya, Malaya, Sarawak and Seychelles, with a guide on their use available to read at

For more on the story visit


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Ancestry places West Yorkshire nonconformist records online

Ancestry ( has placed online a new collection, West Yorkshire Non-Conformist Records 1646-1985, as digitised in partnership with the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

From the site:

This database contains registers from Nonconformist churches in the West Yorkshire area, including Baptist, Congregationalist and Independent, Moravian, Methodist, Inghamite, Quaker, and Presbyterian records, among others. Most are registers documenting baptisms, marriages, or deaths, though some miscellaneous records, such as church rolls and notices of members joining or leaving a congregation, are included as well.

The breakout of year ranges per event type are
  • Births and Baptisms: 1646-1906
  • Marriages and Banns: 1659-1921
  • Deaths and Burials: 1656-1985
  • Residence: 1772-1973

Along with names, dates, and places for events such as baptism or marriage, these records may include details such as:
  • birth date
  • age
  • parents’ names
  • maiden names
  • address
  • occupation
  • marital status

These registers may be particularly useful for researchers who can’t find their relatives among Church of England records. Also, note that these records do not necessarily represent a comprehensive collection of Nonconformist registers for West Yorkshire. For example, some registers were sent to The National Archives in accordance with an 1837 request, while others may remain with the church or congregation.

The collection is searchable at

NB: Ancestry also notes that archive reference information with details of chapels and denominations can be viewed at This is particularly welcome, as in the past Ancestry's source descriptions on what is actually available in its collections has at times been vague. If this is the shape of things to come, that's a seriously big thumbs up from this genie!


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

WDYTYA magazine app for iPad

The Immediate Media Company Bristol Ltd has launched an iPad app for its magazine Who Do You Think You Are, following recent similar developments by both Your Family Tree magazine (Future Publishing) and Family Tree magazine (ABM Publishing). Individual magazines can be purchased or an annual subscription.

Further information is available via iTunes or the iPad App Store.


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Scottish Highlander Photo Archive update

The Scottish Highlander Photo Archive at has been updated, and now contains 4242 historic portraits of folk from the Highlands as taken in the early 20th century. The images have been taken from old glass plate and gelatin negatives, and when the online collection is complete it will contain some 20,000 portraits. The collection can be browsed by surname or searched by keyword, and high quality copies can be ordered.

(With thanks to Adrian Harvey at the SHPA)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Outrage at council charges for burial registers look-ups

Waltham Forest Family History Society has criticised its local council's policy of charging £38 for people to consult the burial registers within the borough's cemeteries, having not made any charges at all for the service over the last fifteen years. The graveyards affected include the Queens Road graveyard in Walthamstow and Chingford Mount Cemetery.

The full story is at

(With thanks to Neil Eggington @Genealogygent)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Conserving teachers' salary books

The National Archives of Ireland ( has an interesting conservation feature explaining how it rescued eight badly damaged teachers salary books from an attack of mould. The books contain the details of salary payments to all teachers employed under the Irish National School system from 1834–1918.

To read the report visit


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Aycliffe, Sunderland and Monkwearmouth records

What's New at Durham Records Online (

Aycliffe baptisms & burials 1813-1877; marriage witnesses 1813-1837
2,952 baptisms and 1,735 burials at Aycliffe St. Andrew in Darlington district, covering 1813-1877, from the Bishop’s Transcript with some checking against the original register.

Sunderland baptisms 1818-1820
1,579 baptisms at Sunderland Holy Trinity covering 1818-1820, from the Bishop’s Transcript with some checking against the parish register. Abodes shown are mostly street names in Sunderland, plus Bishopwearmouth and Monkwearmouth, and a few from North Shields and Houghton-le-Spring.

The Sunderland registers are more valuable than many from this period because the clerk continued recording the mother’s maiden surname and the child’s birth date.

Monkwearmouth All Saints burials 1851-1874
79 burials at Monkwearmouth All Saints from the first burial in the register in May 1851 to the end of 1874.

Coming soon:
  • Bishop Auckland Wesleyan Methodist Circuit baptisms 1838-1962
  • Hartlepool Spion Kop burials 1870-79
  • amendments to Robinson's Lane baptisms 1727-1797
  • Auckland St. Andrew baptisms & burials 1820-1851
  • Penshaw baptisms & burials 1831-1835
  • South Shields burials 1763-1797

(With thanks to Holly Cochran)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton