Thursday 31 May 2012

FIBIS lectures on YouTube

A round up of news from the recent Families in British India Society (FIBIS) Spring Open Meeting is now available on the society's site at, including links to two recorded presentations from the event, which were streamed live on the group's YouTube channel on the day. The talks are British India from Old Postcards, Haunts of Your Ancestors by Robert Butterworth, and The Irish in India, 1790-1920 by Peter Bailey.

And congratulations to FIBIS social networking and web guru Valmay Young on receiving an FFHS award for Best Large Society Website 2011!


British GENES is also on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

Military and Family History Day, Blantyre

The National Trust of Scotland’s DAVID LIVINGSTONE CENTRE and LANARKSHIRE FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY will be presenting a Military and Family History Day in the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, on Saturday 23rd June, from 10:00 – 4:30pm. Admission is FREE


In the Africa Pavilion:
  • Military history - Help and Advice Desks
  • Family history - Help and Advice Desks
  • Medal and Battlefield Artefacts Displays
  • Friends of Low Parks – Cameronians
  • Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group
  • Scottish Military Research Group
  • South Lanarkshire Libraries
  • Family and Local History Bookstall

In the Courtyard 
Display of Ex-Military - Land Rovers and other military equipment

Scots Brigade of The Sealed Knot Society
17th century re-enactors will display and talk about mid 17th century Scots soldier, the campaign he fought and the weaponry he used.

Victoria Room Lectures 
£3 covers entry to all talks
  • 11:00 700 Glengarried Men: “A short history of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders”, Joyce E. M. Steele, Curator, The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Museum
  • 1:00 Seaforth Highlanders "Exploring the history of the 78th Foot 1800-1816 India Egypt & Europe", Ken Nisbet Secretary - Scottish Association of Family History Societies
  • 2:30 "Lanarkshire War Memorials", Adam Brown Secretary, Scottish Military Research Group.

To book a place for the Talks and for further information phone the David Livingstone Centre on 0844 4932207

(With thanks to Bob Stewart)


British GENES is also on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

Exodus: Movement of the People conference

Another item of news from Else Churchill, this time in her guise as secretary of the Halsted Trust conference programme secretary.

Exodus: Movement of the People is a conference taking place from Friday 6th September 2013 – Sunday 8th September 2013 at Hinckley Island Hotel Watling Street, Hinckley, Leicestershire LE10 3JA. It's theme is migration to, from and within the British Isles, and the call is out now for prospective speakers to submit proposals. For further information visit - looks like a good one to think about putting in the diary!

(With thanks to Else via @soggenealogist on Twitter)


British GENES is also on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

English and Welsh probate service developments

Di Bouglas has a summary at of the latest developments from the Principal Probate Registry, as discussed at a user group meeting earlier today (Thurs). Included in her report are details on the new online indexes to English and Welsh probate calendar records expected to appear towards the end of this year.

(With thanks to Else Churchill and Geoff Swinfield on Twitter)


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NAI suspends genealogy service

The National Archives of Ireland ( is suspending its genealogy service as of tomorrow, Friday, 1st June. The service has been provided for free by the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland for many years, and the news appears to be a sudden development. 

At the time of writing the website for the archive appears to be offline, but the direct link to its announcement is apparently at There is no announcement on the development on the APGI website ( as yet. Claire Santry has the full story - as much as is at present known - on her Irish Genealogy News blog at

Not good news...


British GENES is also on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

Parish records and directories on The Genealogist

The Genealogist ( has released the following new records collections:

Parish Record Transcripts
Worcestershire Parish Record Transcripts in partnership with Malvern Family History Society
Baptisms: 1700-1849

Cornwall - over 100,000 new entries
Durham - over 12,000 new entries
Lincolnshire - over 32,000 new entries
Northumberland - over 81,000 new entries
Staffordshire - over 13,000 new entries
Surrey - over 72,000 new entries
Warwickshire - over 15,000 new entries
Worcestershire - over 92,000 new entries
Yorkshire - over 46,000 new entries

Bedfordshire 1898 Kelly's Directory
Berkshire 1915 Kelly's Directory
Berkshire 1920 Kelly's Directory
Buckinghamshire 1844 Pigots Directory
Buckinghamshire 1915 Kelly's Directory
Buckinghamshire 1920 Kelly's Directory
Buckinghamshire 1931 Kelly's Directory
Hertfordshire 1862 Post Office Directory
Kent 1862 Post Office Directory
Kent 1895 Kelly's Directory
Middlesex 1862 Post Office Directory
Oxford 1915 Kelly's Directory
Oxford 1920 Kelly's Directory

Aberdeen Post Office Directory 1948-49
Glasgow Post Office Directory 1907-1908


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National Records of Scotland updates

I've spent the last 2 days in Edinburgh at the National Records of Scotland ( chasing up 17th Century writs, sasines, court of session records, retours and more for one of the more interesting cases I've worked on in a while. Elsewhere, there's been a few developments at the facility worth explaining, both recently and soon to come.

I should explain that for the first hour and a half yesterday, I probably experienced my worst ever time at the facility, setting me up for the day like bear with a sore head, though thankfully not for long. I made the mistake of forgetting my ID card. Previously if this happened the archive would issue a temporary card, but now they won't do that, and so having forgotten the card, my only option was to go across the road, pay £5 to have passport photos taken, and then return to have a new card issued. It is seriously ludicrous system, because they have my details (including my photograph), and even told me I could use a computer to look at digitised records, but that to order documents I would need a card - in other words, security was not the issue, but bureacracy. Considering it had taken me 2 and a half hours to get there already, I was delayed for another 45 mins before I could even start. When I then ordered documents to be produced I had to wait over an hour, instead of 5-10 minutes for it to arrive - computer error apparently. So planning on a 10am start, I finally got cracking just prior to midday.

Thankfully, from then on the staff could not have been more helpful, with particular orders of merit for Robert, Lorna and Stephanie, who went above and beyond the call of duty on all sorts, both yesterday and today. Robert was brilliant in helping to improve the set up to allow me to take better digital photos, Lorna was great in helping to produce documents that were technically away being used for an order production - the team even managed to locate and obtain a sasine minute book for me which has been away for conservation for 2 years. And Stephanie was a great tutor on locating Court of Session records! Top archivists.

In terms of news, all sorts. It turns out the digitised kirk session records collection on ScottishDocuments (accessible at various archives across the country) is not as complete as that at the NRS - most CH2 volumes are there, but various issues to do with catalogue changes and volumes digitised after the Scottish Documents project ended mean that the NRS has a more complete set. It also looks as if kirk session records may be going onto a different platform than ScotlandsPeople, when made available online, but more on that in due course. ScotlandsPlaces ( is also one to keep an eye on - Ordnance Survey field books will be joining the site soon, which is a VERY exciting development! And a few other collections, including more tax records...!

I also had previously reported some time back that most records could be photographed now in the Historic Search Room, with the exception of Gifts and Depositis. in fact, that is not quite accurate, as some of these records can also be snapped, as I discovered to my delight yesterday - so it always pays to ask on the GD records, as they keep a folder at the main desk listing the exemptions.

Finally, some news for those planning a visit shortly - productions of records held at West Register House are to be suspended from June 4th to July 27th. This is because the lift in the building is being replaced.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention - Valuation Roll updates to ScotlandsPeople look like they will be made quarterly.


British GENES is also on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

British GENES to be archived by British Library

I'm delighted to announce that the British GENES blog, and it's predecessor Scottish GENES, are both to be archived by the British Library as part of the UK Web Archive ( ). The content will not be available there immediately - there's a bit of a queue! - but when it does it will carry a regular archive and perspective on UK genealogical news since late 2006 when I first started to get to grips with Blogger! So if I keel over tomorrow and if Google goes out of business ( yeah right!), all the effort will still be accessible via the British Library, to whom thanks is given.


British GENES is also on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Find my Past TV series recommissioned

The Find my Past TV series, produced by independent company Lion Television for the Yesterday channel, and sponsored by Dundee based Brightsolid, has been recommissioned for a second series. A further ten x sixty minute length episodes have been commissioned for transmission in the last quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013.

The full announcement is available at


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20th C British OS maps on NLS website

From the National Library of Scotland (

An additional 2,000 maps are now available on our website, which form our most detailed map series online to cover all of Great Britain. The Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 series (1937-1961) was the forerunner of the modern Explorer and Outdoor Leisure series. It shows features such as field boundaries, footpaths, and types of woodland in the countryside, and it is also useful for showing railways, roads, as well as types of buildings in towns.

The series is available as individual sheets and georeferenced as a mosaic allowing comparison with modern map and satellite images.

(With thanks to the NLS newsletter)


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PRONI/OU lecture: Families

From the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (

The last in the current PRONI/Open University Exploring Local History lecture series, entitled Families by Dr Janice Holmes is now available on the PRONIonline channel on YouTube, by following the attached links.

Part 1 -

Part 2 –

Part 3 –

Part 4 –

Part 5 -

Many thanks to all those who participated and who contributed. PRONI and the OUI intend exploring future opportunities to work together in partnership in the near future.

(With thanks to Gavin McMahon)


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UK to shut for 2 days next week

Just a quick note to say that most of the UK will be closed next Monday and Tuesday for both a Bank Holiday and the Queen's jubilee. Two great days for both the Queen's loyal subjects and the nation's most ardent republicans to reflect on the idea of having to work in the same job for 60 years.

Bottom line - a visit to any archive or library on these days will likely disappoint...!


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More Irish petty session records online

FindmyPast Ireland has uploaded an extra 2 million records to its Irish Petty Session records collection. The new additions include material from Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Kilkenny. I have connections to Donegal and my wife to Kilkenny, so looking forward to seeing who had he naughtiest ancestors!

For a more detailed breakdown visit the site at

(With thanks to @findmypastie)


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Inside Welsh Homes exhibition

A new exhibition is under way from the RCAHMW exploring the changes in Welsh homes across time. Entitled Inside Welsh Homes, it kicks off at Ceredigion Museum, where it will remain until July 7th before moving onto several other venues across the country.

For details on the exhibition visit


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Tuesday 29 May 2012

Ferriter resigns from NLI board

One I missed - Professor Diarmaid Ferriter resigned at the end of last week from the board of the National Library of Ireland. Amongst reasons given for the departure are the funding cuts that will lead to the merger of the NLI and the National Archives of Ireland, and the constant "offensive and disingenuous doublespeak" from the Irish government.

The Irish Times has the story at

(With thanks to @archivesireland)


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Monday 28 May 2012

GSI seeks Irish privacy law clause

I've just been reading the latest Genealogical Society of Ireland ( newsletter for May, which has an interesting story on a forthcoming privacy bill in the Republic of Ireland. It's a bit complicated, but it seems to suggest that if the Privacy Bill 2012 is passed in its current form, there will be a possible threat to genealogists in the country wishing to use information currently made available from public registers, the very data required for family history research.

An exemption made in the Defamation Bill of 2009 on the use of such information is not present as things stand in Section 4 (3) (a) of the Privacy Bill, which the GSI is now lobbying to change. Without such a change, it seems that a person can complain that their privacy has been breached even if material about them was gathered from a public register. The issue was first raised in 2006, but there appears to have been little progress made in addressing it as yet by the Irish government.

Not sure what progress has been made since publication, but the full story is at Hopefully the GSI will be successful in its aims.

Incidentally, last year Linda Reid of the Toronto branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society kindly made a guest post on the former Scottish GENES blog looking at privacy issues in Canada - the post is at Not everyone in the world has the same access rights that we take for granted here in the UK.


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An Post Museum - History and Heritage

A museum dedicated to the Irish postal service, An Post, has a dedicated History and Heritage page available at The site provides a broad overview of the museum's offerings, details on how and where to visit, a short video on its philatelic offerings and information on postal service holdings in the National Archives of Ireland, as well as for genealogical enquiries.

(With thanks to @AnPost_Museum and @learnaboutarchives)


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IGI returns to FamilySearch

I must admit to being somewhat confused about the following development from FamilySearch ( The site's blog has announced that it has now added the IGI (the International Genealogical Index) to its website!

Wasn't part of the spiel about the introduction of the new site that the old IGI was to be effectively killed off, to become an ex-parrot, to cease to be? I was under the impression that the whole point was to actually recategorise the IGI's holdings, by both splitting it into two new collections - Historic Records for extracted records and Family Trees for patron submitted records - and to add new digitised collections to its Historic Records collections. A lot of very irritated users were told that they would have to get used to the new system.

The previous IGI's holdings are now available via a new IGI Collections page, which can be located in the All Record Collections tab or directly via The page categorises the records as follows:
  • Community Indexed IGI (Vital and church records from the early 1500s to 1885)
  • Community Contributed IGI (Personal family information submitted to the LDS Church)

I am not a hundred per cent sure what the benefit of consulting records on the new IGI page would be compared to the equivalent hosted records on the Historic Records page. If I consult the Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 collection in the Historic Records database, this gives me extracted records from both the old IGI and the British Isles Vital Records Collection (a successor project), whereas the IGI page would only give me those from the IGI surely?

Many will of course be glad to see the IGI back, and now split into two categories. But is this really just an admission of failure in trying to inform people about the benefits of accessing the records through the new set-up, a simple means to stop cries of "I wish they'd bring back the IGI" or is there an actual benefit to this?

Genuinely a bit perplexed here!

(With thanks to the BI-Gen blog)


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Opening up Archives project funding

The National Archives at Kew ( has received additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to guarantee a third year of its successful Opening Up Archives project, which seeks to provide entry into English archives and heritage work for people with non-traditional archival backgrounds. The full story is at


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Irish Lives Remembered forums

The Irish Lives Remembered website has set up a new series of discussion forums on its site, catering for each of Ireland's historic 32 counties, north and south. To access the forums visit and follow the instructions

(With thanks to @IrishLives)


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Durham Records Online update

What's New at Durham Records Online (

Penshaw baptisms & burials 1831-1835
640 baptisms and 484 burials at Penshaw All Saints in Houghton-le-Spring district, covering 1831-1835, from the Bishop’s Transcript. Residences mentioned in these records besides Penshaw include Biddick, Bowes House, Burnmoor, Carr Houses, Charters Haugh, Coxgreen, D Pit Row, Elbay or Elba, Great Lumley, Herrington Burn, Herrington Mill Pit, Hetton-le-hole, Houghton-le-Spring, Laidler’s Pit, Low Lambton, Middle Rainton, Mill Pit, Mill Row, Moorsley, New Lambton, New Penshaw, Newbottle, Offerton, Offerton Haugh, Penshaw Staiths, Philadelphia, Shiney Row, Wapping, White Field Pit, and Wood House.

West Hartlepool St. James marriages 1870-1906
996 marriages at St. James in West Hartlepool from the start of the first register there in July 1870 to early August 1906. These are fully-detailed civil-registration-era marriages. Most of the people in these marriages lived in Hartlepool or West Hartlepool, but because it was a port town, we also see sailors from Sunderland, Tyne Dock, South and North Shields, Stockton, and various other ports, plus some residents of Middlesbrough, Middleton, Thornaby, and Thirsk,

Hartlepool Old Cemetery (Spion Kop) burials 1890-1894
2,061 burials at Hartlepool Old Cemetery, also known as Borough Cemetery, Hart Warren, and Spion Kop, covering 1890-1894. Besides streets in Hartlepool, abodes mentioned include Middleton, Sands, Stranton, Sunniside, Throston, and West Hartlepool.

Coming soon:
  • West Hartlepool St. James baptisms 1870-1923
  • Washington baptisms 1600-1767
  • South Shields burials 1763-1797 and 1816-1819
  • Wallsend baptisms 1901-1930

(With thanks to Holly Cochran)


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The Mount Stewart Murder

My next book, The Mount Stewart Murder, is to be officially published on June 12th 2012. It can be purchased from The History Press via - the recommended retail price will be £14.99, although the company is selling it there now for just £13.49.

So what's it all about? Here's a wee introduction to set the scene...

Friday, March 30th 1866. In Scotland’s fair city of Perth the authorities prepare to try poacher Joseph Bell at the twice yearly Circuit Court of Justiciary for a murder carried out just a few months before in the neighbouring county of Clackmannanshire. If convicted, Bell will become the first man to be hanged within Perthshire for some seventeen and a half years. As the prosecution readies its case, a nervous agricultural community within the surrounding countryside remains virtually locked down over the deadly cattle plague epidemic currently raging across the whole of Britain. Amidst a climate of fear, by the small village of Forgandenny in the south of the county the situation is suddenly about to take a dramatic turn for the worse...

Two days earlier fifty year old Janet Rogers had arrived at Mount Stewart Farm to help her brother and farmer, William Henderson, with various domestic chores, he having sacked his domestic servant for insubordination within the previous week. As her brother sets off for the Perth market on the Friday morning, Janet remains behind to place the farmhouse in order, as ploughman James Crichton sets to work on an adjacent field. Many hours later, Henderson returns to his property, but finds the kitchen door curiously locked. Forced to gain entry to the building through an upstairs window, the farmer soon makes the shocking discovery of his sister’s blood soaked corpse, she having been brutally clubbed to death with a kitchen axe.

In this account of one of Britain’s most horrific murders, one of the victim’s direct descendants, family historian Chris Paton, pulls together surviving contemporary evidence to detail what has since been identified as the longest open murder investigation by a modern British police force. In the course of a year long investigation, and a national manhunt for the killer, the farm’s ploughman was formally indicted for the killing on the sudden shock testimony of the sacked servant, Christina Miller, many months after the murder had occurred. Tried in Perth in April 1867, the case against him was subsequently and controversially found to be ‘non-proven’, a unique verdict allowed within Scots Law which implied a possible involvement, but without enough evidence to formally pass a sentence confirming the ploughman’s guilt.

In The Mount Stewart Murder, the author explores each twist and turn of the failed investigation and sets it against a backdrop of a fearful Perthshire community increasingly finding itself under siege, with a stretched police force barely able to cope and with forensic science only in its infancy. And in the aftermath of the failed trial, he reveals that there was in fact a second and forgotten victim of the crime, the legacy of the murder reaching decades beyond the original event...

This is a bit of a departure for me, having previously only written genealogical guide books. In this case, I wanted to tell the story of the investigation into Janet's unfortunate demise, she being my three times great grandmother, but also to explore Victorian Perthshire throughout 1866, the year of the investigation into her murder. Although centred on the investigation, I also explain many other events along the way, such as the cattle plague epidemic, the hanging of Joseph Bell (the penultimate public execution in Scotland), and more, as well as describe the nature of the police, the judicial systems and the press in Scotland at that point. It's  more a portrait of one community, using the murder as the focal point, rather than an episode of Columbo, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

I have just created a Facebook page for the book at, and once it has been published I will update this page with various facts and other aspects of the research to add a wee bit more info!


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Sunday 27 May 2012

A genie soundtrack

It's warm. Instead of breaking genealogy news, today is barbecue weather. So a couple of tracks for every genie, particularly my fellow genies here in Scotland - I'm (un)officially declaring Runrig the (un)official soundtrack provider for Scottish genealogical research! :)

Cnoc na Feille and the ultimate Scots genie song - Siol Ghoraidh (The Genealogy of Goraidh) :)
Clann mo theaghlaich fhein... Bho linn gu linn, bho ainm gu ainm, air an sgiath seo dh 'Uibhist, 's mi beo an drasd 
{The children of my own family... from generation to generation, from one name to another, on this part of Uist, I'm alive now}

Hearts of Olden Glory
There must be a place under the sun where hearts of olden glory grow young

And one more of the best - The Old Boys:
The old boys are all leaving, leaving one by one...

Enjoy! :)


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Saturday 26 May 2012

Wiltshire OPC - May updates

Wiltshire Online Parish Clerks have placed a list of all new transcribed records and updates to the site in the last month at

(With thanks to @wiltsopc)


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FamilySearch remoulds British Isles

Remember when FamilySearch ( had us in Europe? There we were, happily munching onions, eating escargots, frankfurt and spaghetti, when without so much as a by-your-leave, they came along and kicked us out, achieving what no Tory politician had ever dared to do. A people seemingly without an identity, we strolled merrily on our longboats and car ferries through the North Sea (or is that the German Ocean?!) and thus did we settle to form the British Isles, a happy new category on the website.

But a restless people we must be, for now we have been redesignated once again, this time to a new category, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Of course, that means Northern Ireland should be well covered!

Think of the fun and games that will ensue if Scotland chooses to go independent in two years time. The SNP may need to think this one through a bit more...! lol :)

Going off now to have a minor identity crisis....


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Review: Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs

The Family History Partnership's latest publication is Janet Few's Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs, and it's a bit of a gem. This 136 page long book is a partial reprint of some material which has previously appeared in Family Tree magazine, though with much new content, and one which aims to provide a flavour of the day to day lifestyles of our ancestors, from all walks of life, within seventeenth century England.

There are ten chapters within the book. The first starts with life at home, where we learn about the beds that our forebears slept in, how they had to make their own furniture, ate meals from hollowed out square plates (providing a 'square meal') and more. Follow on chapters deal in a similar way with with household tasks, food and drink, clothing, gardening, medicine, crime and punishment, witchcraft and leisure activities. Each is packed with anecdotes and moments to make you think "Oh that's where that comes from!" - the window originally being the 'wind-eye', to allow air and light in, the 'chairman of the board' originally being the person who sat at the chair on the end of the table or 'board', and so on.

Much of the claims in the book are given as straight fact, though one or two might be questionable - the nursery rhyme 'Ring a Ring a Roses' being a case in point, categorically described as being about the plague, when in fact there's something of a debate about that amongst folklorists - but this is nevertheless a fun book that does what it sets out to do, to take you back in time to another era. And this is the first book I've read to tell me about the roll of the "piss prophet", a job that makes me extremely grateful that I have taken the career route that I have!

Each chapter is not only beautifully illustrated in colour throughout, but also ends with a further reading list to take your understanding of the topic in question further.

The Family History Partnership £12.95 +p&p

NB: The title does not appear to be listed on the company's website yet, though should be there imminently.

(With thanks to Terry Walsh at the Family History Partnership)


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Friday 25 May 2012

FindmyPast subscription discount

FindmyPast ( is offering a 10% discount on new subscriptions - use the code SUB10.

(With thanks to FindmyPast)


British GENES on Facebook at and Twitter @chrismpaton

Society of Genealogists June & July events

Forthcoming events in June and July at the Society of Genealogists in London (

Fri 1 June
Street Party - Help us celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Join us for cakes and refreshments, Everyone welcome (rsvp not necessary) – flags, crayons etc for the children, 11:00-14:00pm. Please note the library will be closed for research (as normal) this day, but library tours will take place 11:30, 12:15, & 13:00.

Sat 2 June 14:00-17:00
Careers in Genealogy: Report Writing for Clients

The report of the professional research undertaken is your "face" as far as a client is concerned. Find out what needs to be included, what acceptable standards you will need to meet and the various presentation skills required. The report is as important (if not more so) then the research! A half-day course with Ian Waller £17.50/£14.00 Members

Sat 9 Jun 10:30-13:00
Hidden Histories: Finding Unusual Record Collections on Major Websites

Hundreds of thousands of family historians subscribe each year to the commercial data providers but only use a tiny fraction of the resources they offer to subscribers. Ancestry alone has nearly a thousand different databases. This course will explore the lesser known resources, such as directories, Army Lists, lists, death duty and passport registers and show you how they can be useful in your research. We will look at the holdings on both Ancestry and Findmypast as well as on the less known websites including DocumentsOnline, The Genealogist, Origins and FamilyRelatives.

A half-day course with Simon Fowler £17.50/£14.00 Members

Sat 9 Jun 14:00-17:00
My Ancestor was an Apprentice

We all have apprentices amongst our ancestors. They have left many records which can be used to fill in the background to their lives. Stuart Raymond will outline the history of apprenticeship, describe the records available, and give you hands on experience of extracting information from an apprenticeship indenture. Participants in this course will acquire an appreciation of the information that can be found in apprenticeship records, and will know what to look out for in their personal research.

A half-day course with Stuart Raymond £17.50/£14.00 Members

Wed 20 Jun 10:30-11:30
Getting the Most From the Society Catalogue (SOGCAT)

A one-hour lecture with Tim Lawrence, free of charge but must be pre-booked

Sat 30 Jun 10:30-13:00
Family Tree Maker Software for Beginners

This workshop will cover the foundation essentials needed to understand the software program. The course is suitable for beginners and those in need of a “brush-up” before taking the afternoon advanced course.

A half-day course with Mike Bollinger £17.50/£14.00 Members

Sat 30 Jun 14:00-17:00
Family Tree Maker Software for Advanced Users

A half-day course with Mike Bollinger £17.50/£14.00 Members

Sat 7 Jul 10:30-13:00
From Almshouses to Council Houses: The Records of Social Housing

Throughout history social housing has always been an important aspect of our poorer ancestors lives. Almshouse began way back in the late Middle Ages, Council Housing is a 20th century innovation but what about in between. Put the flesh on the bones of your ancestry by finding out more about social housing through the centuries.

A half-day course with Ian Waller £17.50/£14.00

Sat 7 Jul 14:00-17:00
Tracing Huguenot Ancestors

A half-day course with Michael Gandy 17.50/£14.00

Wed 11 Jul 14:00
Tracing Family History in New Zealand

A one hour lecture with Jan Gow £6.00/£4.80

Sat 14 Jul 10:30-1300
Getting the Most Out of the Ancestry Website

A useful course for understanding the very large Ancestry website and how to best use their online finding tools. A half-day course with John Hanson £17.50/14.00

Wed 18 Jul 14:30
Visit: Lincolns Inn

This society of lawyers has a very long history, with premises situated in a tranquil enclave of some 11 acres in central London. “Lincoln’s Inn” thus refers both to the Society and the place. Our group will receive a tour with a registered guide, of the Old Hall, Great Hall and Chapel, and we will be briefed on the history, artwork and the current role of Lincoln’s Inn. £12.00/£10.00

Fri 20 Jul 14:00-16:00 (appx)
Walk: Cemeteries & Burial Grounds in the Financial District. 

With Alec Tritton £10.00/£8.00. Spaces limited

Sat 21 Jul 10:30-13:00
I'm Stuck: Techniques for Localising your Elusive Ancestor

Most family historians reach a point in their research when they are unable to identify their ancestor with certainty. Either they have too many possibilities or no candidate at all. This talk will suggest and illustrate sources and techniques by which possible ancestors may be located and proof found. Personal advice about tackling one's own brick walls can be given on the day.

A half-day workshop with Geoff Swinfield (£17.50/£14.00)

Sat 21 Jul 14:00-1700
Social Networking for Family History, Using Facebook & Setting up a Blog

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

A half-day course with with Alec Tritton £17.50/14.00

Wed 25 Jul 14:00-16:00
Walk: The Battle of Barnet

Our walk will be led by Paul Baker, City of London guide, who will explore the famous battlefield of 1471. We will see how the course of English history was changed on a misty Easter Sunday morning, and hear about the first known ‘friendly fire’ incident in English history. £10.00/£8.00

(With thanks to the SoG)


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Free Ulster Scots app

The latest Ulster Historical Foundation newsletter mentions a free Ulster Scots app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android. Here's the blurb:

The links between Scotland and Ulster have existed since time immemorial – from prehistory to present. This app includes information on 200 locations across the north of Ireland that form part of this story over the last 500 years. The sites include towns and villages, castles and churches, graveyards and monuments, and archives and industries.

So, there is no better time to download these rich, historical driving tours designed to guide you to the hidden highlights in Ulster’s fascinating past.

To access the app for Apple based devices visit iTunes at, whilst for the Android equivalent visit Google Play at

(With thanks to the UHF)


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TNA podcast - cataloguing colonial records from 1900

The latest podcast from the National Archives at Kew ( is entitled The Golden Stool: cataloguing Colonial Records from 1900. From TNA:

In 1900, war broke out between the British and the Ashanti in the Gold Coast. The Colonial Office records from this year have recently been catalogued by volunteers at The National Archives. This talk, given by the volunteers themselves, shares some of their most interesting finds and experiences of the CO 96 series and the ‘War of the Golden Stool’.

The four volunteers - Mahesh Gami, Gina Murgatroyd, Becky Senghore and Rebekah Simpson – working on the Gold Coast 1900 project are students or recent students of history with an emphasis on African history. Their research in these records, which some have used for their own studies, has brought the project to life.

To hear the podcast visit or download from iTunes.


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Burns Monument Centre - update

Looks like I got in early at the Kilmarnock based Burns Monument Centre ( in my last few visits!

Until recently the centre charged just 10p each per black and white photocopy for prints from the ScotlandsPeople computer system, but they've now raised the costs to 50p each, though the prints I got today were in colour (and very good quality at that). I had a five page testament dative to print off, which cost just £2.50, compared to the online cost which would have been £5 (bear in mind though that the £5 online cost is a set fee for a testament of unlimited page length, so in many cases advantageous to download it online).

A busy day in Kilmarnock today - I walked past one wedding party on the way into the centre, and walked past another on the way out! A good day to get hitched, and a great environment to do research in!


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Palaeography course

From Philippa McCray at the Federation of Family History Societies (, in turn informed by Dr. Gill Draper of BALH:


Family historians may be interested in one of the courses being run at this year's Latin and Palaeography Summer School at Keele University, now in its 35th year. It runs from Saturday 21 to Friday 27 July 2012.

Designed mainly for local historians who need to read documents before 1700 or so, there are beginners' and more advanced courses on medieval Latin and medieval palaeography, as well as one on reading probate documentsof 16th and 17th centuries.

For details please see the website:


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Thursday 24 May 2012

The Genealogist update

The Genealogist ( has added several new records to its site:

Parish Records
We have added over 467,000 to our Diamond subscription. These include baptisms, burials, and marriages (including banns) for:
  • Cornwall - over 100,000 new entries
  • Durham - over 12,000 new entries
  • Lincolnshire - over 32,000 new entries
  • Northumberland - over 81,000 new entries
  • Staffordshire - over 13,000 new entries
  • Surrey - over 72,000 new entries
  • Warwickshire - over 15,000 new entries
  • Worcestershire - over 92,000 new entries
  • Yorkshire - over 46,000 new entries

Scotland Directories
We have added the following directories for Scotland:
  • Aberdeen Post Office Directory 1948-49
  • Glasgow Post Office Directory 1907-1908

Worcestershire Parish Records
We have added over 56,400 individuals to our Parish Transcripts for Worcestershire in partnership with Malvern Family History Society, expanding our coverage and bringing the total to over 1 million individuals.

We have added a number of new directories for both Gold and Diamond subscribers:
  • Bedfordshire 1898 Kelly's Directory
  • Berkshire 1915 Kelly's Directory
  • Berkshire 1920 Kelly's Directory
  • Buckinghamshire 1844 Pigots Directory
  • Buckinghamshire 1915 Kelly's Directory
  • Buckinghamshire 1920 Kelly's Directory
  • Buckinghamshire 1931 Kelly's Directory
  • Hertfordshire 1862 Post Office Directory
  • Kent 1862 Post Office Directory
  • Kent 1895 Kelly's Directory
  • Middlesex 1862 Post Office Directory
  • Oxford 1915 Kelly's Directory
  • Oxford 1920 Kelly's Directory

There are also various items concerned with Queen Victoria's golden jubilee - see


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Heligan gardens appeal

An appeal from Cornwall:

Heligan – The Lost Memories Project

It is now 22 years since The Lost Gardens of Heligan were discovered and interest continues unabated, both from those with a possible historical connection and from a wider audience too. This fascinating story of discovery and restoration is now told across the world.

The initial focus of the restoration was specialist investigation into what structures and plants remained beneath the overgrowth, how they might have originated and what they were like in their Victorian heyday. The Heligan Labour Books show that outdoor staffing levels were depleted by two-thirds during the period 1914-17 and it is known that Heligan House was used as a convalescence hospital for officers of the Royal Flying Corps until 1919.

Between the 1920s and 1960s the property was let out. In the early 1930s Prince Edward and Mrs Simpson made a visit to see the still renowned gardens. In 1944 the American Army requisitioned the property and servicemen of the 38th Engineer Regiment spent six weeks here, practising for the D-day landings. Heligan also served as a billet for Italian prisoners-of-war and evacuees were later sent from the cities to stay in the vicinity.

Now the team at Heligan are looking to piece together the later parts of the jigsaw and are seeking memories from people who knew the house and gardens during these ‘lost’ years. If you were born, lived, worked or visited here at any time over the past century and recall names of staff, jobs done, specific plants or animals in particular areas or any other individual stories, your input would be most welcome. Heligan hopes that The Lost Memories Project will result in being able to piece together a nostalgic on-site exhibition in 2013, when The Lost Gardens of Heligan will celebrate 21 years since opening to the public.

A number of people have already been generous with archive and information, sharing old albums, letters, mementos and personal reminiscences. One elderly gentleman who grew up on the estate in the 1920s (when his father was Head Gardener), was able to draw a stunningly accurate plan of the lay-out of the farm buildings; another recalled visiting the gardens in the late sixties, when the overgrowth was already starting to take a hold. There are tales of children conceived in the Jungle, strange fruits harvested from trees long-forgotten, flower-pickers gathering violets to be sent to London and white camellias used in Princess Alexandra’s wedding bouquet.

“Without our visitors, Heligan would cease to exist. It’s the people who visit Heligan and appreciate its unique atmosphere, beauty and soul who keep the place alive” comments Lorna Tremayne, who has been leading the search for ‘lost memories’. “Now we are inviting those who have more distant personal memories of Heligan to help us fill some of the gaps in our understanding of what went before. If you have old photos or artefacts relating to Heligan we would be delighted to see them. As we work towards celebrating another important anniversary, we are ever respectful of the history of this unique place and the role it plays in our connection with it today. The 2013 exhibition will be for all those who love Heligan, as well as more specifically for those whose Heligan story has not as yet been uncovered and whose part in the unique history of Heligan has not yet been told.”

All 'LOST MEMORIES' can be sent via email to:
or post to: ‘LOST MEMORIES, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN.’

(With thanks to Simon Whittam at Onshore Media)


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Scottish Genealogy Society news

I've been asked to mention some developments from the Scottish Genealogy Society ( - from the latest newsletter:

Scotland War Memorial Project
On behalf of the Scotland War Memorial Project, Margaret Thorburn, one of our helpers here at the SGS has recently completed research into the War Memorial at Dean Church. Margaret researched birth, marriage and death records, Ancestry, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and censuses to produce a small biography for each of the names commemorated. Although this particular project was for Dean Church here in Edinburgh, it doesn't mean that the person actually lived there - perhaps their parents or wife had a connection and requested the name of their loved one to be added. For instance there is a mention of a
James Morrison Watt from Boharm in Morayshire whose parents lived at Gorgie. Also of interest is a young woman called Jeannie Cockburn from Traquair, Innerleithen. Jeannie was a driver with the Royal Army
Service Corps and died aged just 20 years old. A printed copy of the research is available here for viewing at 15 Victoria Terrace. Alternatively it can also be found at:

New Publications
We have recently published an update of the Liddesdale monumental inscriptions. The previous transcription only covered burials up to 1855 and had one or two omissions. These have been corrected and
updated to 1995. The publication is now in two volumes: Vol 1 - Castleton at £4.50 and Vol 2 - Ettleton, Saughtree & St Mary's Chapel, Heritage at £5.00 and are available from Victoria Terrace or our on-line shop:

(With thanks to Ken Nisbet)


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2013 SAFHS Conference

The 2013 Scottish Association of Family History Societies ( conference will be hosted by Borders FHS on Saturday 11the May at the Scottish Borders Campus, Netherdale Road, Galashiels, TD1 3HE. Further information will be available in due course from the society at

(With thanks to Ken Nisbet and the Scottish Genealogy Society)


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TNA jubilee exhibition

The National Archives at Kew has placed online a series of jubilee addresses from Queen Victoria's golden jubilee in 1887. Further details at


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Irish seminar in Quebec

I've been asked by Quebec Family History Society to give the following a mention (och, sure, it's only over the water!):

A Genealogical Day in Ireland (Seminar)

Date Saturday, June 9, 2012
Time 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Location Quebec Family History Society Library, 173 Cartier Ave, Pointe-Claire, QC H9S 4H9

Presented by Lorraine Gosselin and Gary Schroder

This seminar will explain how to find your Irish ancestors in Quebec and Ireland, including Northern Ireland. All the major sources and major genealogical resources for research in Ireland and on the internet will be discussed.

Reservations necessary, call 514.695.1502
Fee $30.00

(With thanks to Susan Gingras Calcagni)


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Scotland's Greatest Story research service and

Fife Heritage Day

Fife Heritage Day is to be held on Saturday 26th May from 10.00am—4pm, at The Lomond Centre, Woodside Way, Glenrothes, KY7 5RA. The event will include Local Heritage Displays from around Fife. Further information is available at

(With thanks to @scotlandspeople)


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History Festival of Ireland

A two day inaugural History Festival of Ireland ( will be held at Lisnavagh House, Lisnavagh, County Carlow, on June 9th-10th, as part of the county's Eigse festival. Admission to the event is €10, with two streams of lectures running in parallel. The first group of lectures, to be held each day in the Festival Marquee, are free, with the second batch, to be held in the building's library, costing an addition €10 per talk. The fill programme is available at

I can't see any mention of vendors in attendance, so not sure if this is more of a conference, but some of the talks certainly look as if they are worth attending.

(With thanks to @IrishRootsMag)


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Wednesday 23 May 2012

Denbighshire Archives Open Day

From Denbighshire Archives (, courtesy of Beryl Evans of the Federation of Family History Societies (

We are holding a Summer Open Day on Saturday June 9th (10am-2pm) to launch a touring exhibition- “Wales Powering the World”.

The exhibition has been created after an all-Wales cataloguing project called ‘Powering the World: Looking at Welsh Industry through Archives’ made some of the most outstanding business collections held in archive services across Wales accessible for the first time.

This exhibition showcases some of the most interesting documents from the collections, reflectingWales’ advances and achievements in coal mining, slate quarrying, copper smelting, engineering, shipping and brewing. These collections hold a wealth of material with fantastic research potential for family and local history.

Come along and take a tour of the archives, see what services we have to offer and view some of our most notable and interesting collections.

The exhibition is free to view and will be with us until Friday 27th July.

Are you interested in the work of the archives? Take a look at our Blog at


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Suffolk and Kent parish records

FindmyPast ( has added more parish records to its site for both Suffolk and Kent. Details of the additions can be found at


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Battle of the Boyne Centre - book fair

There's a Book and Map fair being held on June 4th 2012 at the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre at Oldbridge in County Meath, with talks from Ted Green and Noel French on the history of nearby Drogheda. For further details see,18595,en.html.

Hauld yer horses - the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre? Times have certainly changed!

In 1997 I worked as a researcher on a documentary about the Battle of the Boyne for the BBC series War Walks, presented by Richard Holmes. At that point, I think the idea of a Boyne visitor centre would have raised many an eyebrow - instead, a small production crew of just six of us had to research the area like confused Jacobites! There was also only one Jacobite re-enactment society at the time, the Sligo Living History Society, so in classic BBC tradition we got them to play both sides of the conflict for the re-enactment. It was a great week's filming, with the late great Richard teaching me how to fire a matchlock musket, a skill I had hoped to take back to Ashby-de-la-Zouche in order to perform revenge against a scoundrel in the Sealed Knot who accidentally shot me with his musket at a civil war re-enactment for the previous programme! (Typical - I lived in Northern Ireland for years, never saw anyone say boo to a goose, then went to England and got shot by an eejit in costume...).

I had no idea the Boyne battlefield was now a big tourist attraction - I'll need to take my boys over to have a look, it's a beautiful part of the country!

Here's the great man himself pretending to be King Billy on his trusty steed...

The guv'nor beside the Boyne

The good folk of Sligo


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ScotlandsPeople family history event

From the latest ScotlandsPeople Centre newsletter:

The next ScotlandsPeople family history event takes place at General Register House on Monday 25 June, 9.30 am to 12.30pm. Starting with a brief presentation about the ScotlandsPeople Centre, this is followed with a taster session using the computer search system. To round off the event, there is another brief talk about the records that are held in the Historical Search Room. Light refreshments (included in the ticket price) are provided during the session.

These informal events are ideal for people who are new to genealogy or the facilities at the ScotlandsPeople Centre. Attendance costs £5.00 to cover the cost of refreshments, and places and seats must be booked and paid for in advance. For further information and to reserve a place, please call 0131 314 4541 (option 1) or email the ScotlandsPeople Centre at

The newsletter also has details about further forthcoming Valuation Rolls releases, following the recent 1915-16 release. The centre asked if people wanted records to be released prior to 1915 first, or those after 1915 - it looks like the great Scottish public wants to go back in time! (A real pity I think, as there is actually little available online after 1915!) The newsletter is accessible at

(With thanks to @ScotlandsPeople)


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National Probate Calendar and English poll books

Two collection launches from Ancestry ( today:

First, the company has extended its coverage of the National Probate Calendar for England and Wales to cover 1858-1966 (having previously covered 1861-1941). The calendars provide short abridgements of records that have gone through the probate process, outlining whether a person died testate or intestate, and if so whether there was a grant of probate or a letter of administration issued by the courts, the value of the estate and the executors details.

Incidentally, the equivalent for Scotland, which has a different system, was called the Calendars of Confirmations and Inventories - it is not online, though has been digitised and can be accessed at the national records of Scotland. Scottish testaments (the equivalent probate documents) up to 1901 are available on ScotlandsPeople (, and are soon to be extended up to the mid- 1920s. For the equivalent calendars from 1858-1943 for what is now Northern Ireland (with coverage soon to be extended to the 1950s) visit PRONI (, and for the modern Republic of Ireland, calendar records from 1923-1982 can be accessed at the National Archives of Ireland ( - though these are much easier to access via my guide (see link at top), where there are direct links to each year's records. Be aware though that if someone died in one part of the UK and had assets in the other, there may well be probate records within one of the other jurisdictions - so do check the English and Welsh entries for family who may have lived in Scotland or Ireland, as you just might just be lucky! Ancestry's National Probate Calendar is accessible at  Incidentally, the site also has a page telling you how to obtain an original will following a find in the calendar at

The second release from Ancestry is UK, Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1538-1893. This contains the names of voters across England only, and not the UK (Ancestry is geographically confused again) from 1538, though mainly from 1660 onwards (the 16th century entries are for 1538 and 1549 only). Although described as England, I have no idea how widespread coverage is for the country - the collection has been supplied by London Metropolitan Archives. I took a random look at 1675 and saw records for Durham, and in 1739 Bristol pops up, but Ancestry would really help matters if they could supply some decent source information as to what is available and where for each year.  From the site:

Poll books will not list all residents of an area. Until 1832, most voters were freeholders and others who could meet property requirements for the franchise, and poll books list only those who actually cast a vote. And while the majority of books in this database are poll books, some are registers, indexes, lists of liverymen, and similar records that will include names and other details, but do not record votes.

To access the collection visit Again, you will find some equivalents for the north of Ireland at the PRONI website (


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Tuesday 22 May 2012

War Hero in My Family - eps 4

Following my review last week (, tonight's episode of War Hero in My Family, the fourth in the series, is really keeping the standard both high and consistent throughout the run. This evening's episode featured the heartbreaking stories of David Gower's uncles on D-Day, and the experiences of Sara Cox's grandfather as a mechanic driver both on the home front and in Italy. I truly envy the archive researcher, who is clearly having a field day with this series! Great direction and pace as ever - forget Who Do You Think You Are, this is family history: the next generation! :)

One thing to note - I commented last week that the Channel 5 media player has the episodes available online at In fact, it looks they will actually be there for a good year to come - so no rush if you need to catch up...! :)


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Jubilee exhibition at Kensington Palace

A note from Kensington Palace:

Jubilee - A view from the crowd
Kensington Palace, W8 4PX
24 May to 04 November 2012

Our temporary exhibition, 'Jubilee: a view from the crowd' will tell the story of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897 from the perspective of the millions of people who joined in the festivities, from Duchesses to street sellers.

It will emphasise the enthusiasm and excitement surrounding the celebrations - 'Jubilee mania' as one paper described it - focusing on the spectacular procession through London on 22 June 1897 when the Queen, members of the royal family and soldiers from across the globe made their way to a special service of thanks giving at St Paul's Cathedral.

The exhibition will showcase historic items associated with the exuberant Jubilee celebrations, such as items worn by Queen Victoria to souvenirs bought by members of the public. Alongside film, sound and interactive displays, these objects will immerse the visitor in the celebrations of 1897 and bring to life Queen Victoria's Jubilee.

(With thanks to Catherine Steventon from Historic Royal Palaces)


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Royal Red Cross awards

FindmyPast ( has launched a new collection detailing some 8969 Royal Red Cross awards given to nurses treating service personnel between 1883 and 1994. The award was given solely to women until 1976, and from then to both men and women. The announcement is at, with the records themselves included within the Military Nurses 1856-1994 database at


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TNA - Revisiting Collections

The National Archives has an interesting blog post concerning an initiative called Revisiting Collections, a methodology for assisting in the cataloguing of archive collections that uses the experience of those who may have previously been concerned with the subject matter. The aim is to try to reflect a perspective of those affected or previously concerned with the collections within the relevant catalogue descriptions, rather than the humble opinions of the unattached archivist.

The blog post can be read at


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Lanarkshire FHS finds new premises

Lanarkshire Family History Society ( has secured new premises, following news of it being asked by the local council in April to vacate its current premises in Motherwell (see An appeal brought several offers of help, but it appears that the council itself has now helped the society, with new premises in Merry Street.

The full story is at


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Monday 21 May 2012

Edinburgh physicians catalogue online

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has made available an online catalogue for its some of its archive holdings. The full story is available at, whilst the catalogue itself can be consulted at

From the site - "Please note that at present this catalogue only contains the College’s deposited collections and not the records of the College itself or of printed books."

(With thanks to Lee Durbin @History_Hub)


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Scottish battlefields conservation inventory

Historic Scotland ( is considering adding eleven former battlefields to its Inventory of Historic Battlefields. The battles under consideration are:
  • Blar na Léine (Battle of the Shirts) - 1544 - settled the issue of the leadership of Clanranald in favour of the MacDonalds
  • Dunbar - 1296 - the first battle of the Scottish Wars of Independence
  • Dunkeld - 1689 - the first Jacobite Rising
  • Glenlivet - 1595 - a religious battle between the Catholic forces of George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly, and Frances Hay, 9th Earl of Erroll, and the Protestant army of Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll
  • Inverlochy - 1431 - James I's attempts to nullify the power of the Lord of the Isles
  • Langside - 1568 - fought between the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, and those of the Earl of Moray, her half-brother
  • Loudon Hill - 1307 - one of Robert the Bruce’s first victories against the English
  • Melrose - 1526 - fought over the issue of guardianship of James V
  • Roslin - 1303 - the 30,000 strong English army routed by the Scots army of 8000 men
  • Sauchieburn - 1488 - uprising against James III, which led to his death and accession of James IV
  • Tippermuir (Tibbermore) - 1644 - Royalist victory over the Covenanters

The consultation ends June 30th - to participate, visit

(With thanks to @mikeheyworth and @colmmoloney)


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