Thursday, 24 May 2018

Ancestry updates Wiltshire parish records

With this update Ancestry now make available over 9.6 million Wiltshire Church of England parish records—the original parish registers and/or Bishop's transcripts.

Each I examined was linked to a good quality copy of the original. Marriages after 1837 provide the same information as a PRO certificate.

Marriages and Banns, 1754-1916967,311
Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-18123,676,914
Deaths and Burials, 1813-1916379,758
Births and Baptisms, 1813-19161,759,381

The London Dead

Since 2014 David Bingham has been posting not quite once a week  on his blog The London Dead "stories from our cemeteries, crypts and churchyards". It's well illustrated withno lack of characters to draw on.

To catch up start with the list of all time popular posts at the top of the right hand column.

Grave Wax, Corpse Liquor and Kissing Dead Queens – the boundless curiosity of the Gentlemen of the 17th Century
John Aubrey in his prime. I have recently finished reading (with immense enjoyment I should add) Ruth Scurr’s ‘John Aubrey; My Own Life...

The Coffin Works & Warstone Lane Cemetery - a date with death in Birmingham
Is there a more entertaining way to spend a cold, dull, and wet day at the fag end of the year than in taking yourself off to Birmingham...

The Dead Keep Calling Me: 30 Years of Suicide in Brompton Cemetery 1888 -1908
If the spate of horrific deaths of gravediggers buried alive, the occasional freak fatal accident such as impalement on grave railings a...

St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Leyton
 “A scruffy closely packed cemetery sited on the edge of the Central Line. Few trees and the lack of coherent landscaping contribute...

The posthumous life of Karl Marx, Highgate Cemetery
“On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for ...

The price of fame; Joyce and Ronald McQueen, Manor Park Cemetery and Crematorium
The night before Joyce McQueen was due to be cremated at Manor Park Cemetery her husband Ronald and the couple’s children had to decide...

Marriage is just a piece of paper - George William Lancaster and Louisa Mary Wilkinson (East Sheen Cemetery)
“ Chest tomb. Memorial to George William Lancaster (d. 1920) and Elisa (sic) Mary Lancaster (d.1922) by Sidney march (1876-1967). Portl...

"Anyone for a spot of buggery?"; Ernest Thesiger (1879-1961), Brompton Cemetery
Ernest rests with his mother and father in the family vault at Brompton Cemetery To the left of the main path, just before the catacom...

The parched ground shall become a pool and the thirsty land springs of water; Ernest Schwarz of the Kalahari (1873-1928), Willesden New Cemetery
“A most extraordinary story was told me by the late Professor Ernest Schwarz of the Rhodes University College. Many years ago, he said,...

Gender Equality of the Vote in Canadian Federal Elections

One hundred years ago today in Canada, 24 May 1918, An Act to Confer the Electoral Franchise upon Women S.C. 1918, c. 20 became law enshrining that "women who are British subjects, 21 years of age, and otherwise meet the qualifications entitling a man to vote, are entitled to vote in a Dominion election. In effect January 1, 1919."
It was not until 6 December 1921, resulting in a slim minority Liberal government, that the opportunity became available for a woman to cast a ballot in a General Election although they had already done so in 19 by-elections.
In the UK women were enfranchised and got to vote in the election of 14 December 1918 won by the wartime coalition government.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

CARN and Family Tree Live

A couple of items of special interest to those who search ancestry in England.

Do you have a CARN card? The “County Archives Research Network” (CARN)  access card scheme, which allow convenient access to 68 local archives at the moment, is under threat and scheduled to close on 30 November 2018. Read more here.

Would you like a speaking opportunity next year in England at the palace? Family Tree Live, being held at Alexandra Palace on 26 and 27 April 2019, seeking proposals for 30-minute talks. 10 minutes will be allowed for questions at the end of each talk, on subjects that will help people on the first steps of their genealogy journey, through to more advanced record sets and search skills and strategies. Find out more here.

Leicestershire Police seek relatives of their Great War (1914–1918) dead

Dominique Allen of Leicestershire Police is endeavouring to trace descendants and relatives of their officers who served and died during the Great War (1914–1918). Chief Constable Simon Cole QPM plans to hold a service to commemorate the end of the Great War by inviting family members of those who gave their lives. The venue will be at Headquarters and will be on Friday 9 November 2018. Further details will be made available nearer the time. Any information on the men listed below would be gratefully received.

So far Dominique has the following list of officers:
PC Arthur PREW – Rank Private – Number 29092 served with D Battery 160th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
PC Percy SMITH – Rank Gunner – Number 29117 served with D Battery 160th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
PC Colin BRAMMAL – Rank Sergeant – Number L/28853 served with A Battery 160th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
PC John DRIVER – Rank Gunner – Number L/29804 served with D Battery 46th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
PC Charles SMITH – Rank Corporal – Number L/29119 served with D Battery 160th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
PC W.A. BAILEY – Royal Horse Artillery
PC F. HUTSON – Royal Marine Artillery
PC E.M. MADDOCK MM – Royal Horse Artillery
PC W. WOODWARD – Royal Marine Artillery
PC Joseph WALKER – Rank Gunner – Royal Garrison Artillery.
Dominique is also looking for relatives of:
PC T. GRAINGER – Rank Lance Corporal – Leicestershire Regiment
PC L. HENSON – Rank Lance Corporal – Coldstream Guards
PC E. WAKEFIELD – Rank Private – Leicestershire Regiment
PC J. BRIGGS – Mounted Military Police
PC J. COBLEY – West Yorkshire Regiment
PC R. HAZELWOOD – Grenadier Guards
PC G.A. MANTON – Coldstream Guards
PC A.W. OSBORN – Leicestershire Regiment
PC T. PERCIVAL – Leicestershire Regiment
PC A.E. REEVES – Leicestershire Regiment.
Those with ranks are those of the County Officers and those without are City officers. If you are a relative of any of these men, Dominique would be delighted to hear from you at

via the Guild of One-Name Studies

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Family Tree Magazine: June 2018

Highlights of the UK Family Tree magazine for June, omitting regular columns, with a few comments.

Beyond the official record: rediscovering lost family papers
The official records can only take you so far in your research. Michael Heafford shows how it is well worth investigating whether more personal papers from the past might have survived the passage of time.
Comment: Personal records can be those remaining within a branch of the family, those in a public archive, those in private archives, those destroyed.
Disappointing as it may be the reality is we'd all be bankrupt just in the cost of storing everything our ancestors wrote or were mentioned in. We've probably all contacted close relatives, finding the second and more distant cousins is the most likely further source unless the ancestor was in touch with someone prominent when exploring archives and collectors may be fruitful.  

Locked up! A life of crime
Pat Chrisfield was shocked to discover a great-uncle who was in and out of gaol all his life, simply trapped in a difficult circle of poverty.

Taken a DNA test? Now what?
DNA tests are becoming evermore popular as a research tool for family historians, but the results can seem bewildering. Help is at hand to demystify DNA in our brand new series with Karen Evans.
Comment: Still puzzled by DNA results? Perhaps this advice from a former primary school teacher will help. Family tree also has a section on DNA under How-to-guides.

Spotlight on Wharfedale Family History Group
Steve Miller introduces a family history society that has been helping people find new routes to their roots, using traditional and modern methods.

Cemetery & graveyard research: expert guide
There is something intrinsically rewarding about standing on the spot where your ancestor is buried. Celia Heritage’s guide will help you track down these final resting places of your family.
Comment: This 6 page expert guide will help manage your expectations in burial records and gravestones. There are sections for Scotland and Ireland and a longer section for when you venture out to attempt to locate a headstone.

Finding Irish church records
Chris Paton provides a handy summary of sources and steps to help you locate Irish church records.
Comment:  Despite the destruction of 1922 not all is lost and more has become available online in recent years. Chris squeezes his best advice into four pages.

Preserving our past
It’s well worth family historians exploring heritage and living history groups to see the light they can shed on the daily life, work and experiences of our forebears in times gone by. Rachel Bellerby has gathered together an inspiring directory to pull out and keep.
Comment: There are about 50 groups mentioned, each with a brief on its activities and a web address. The first is the Railway and Canal Historical Society, the last the Families in British India. Society. Even OGS and the Toronto Cornish Association get a mention.

Researching the life of a ship
With hope in their hearts, many people took a chance, and emigrated across huge oceans in relatively small wooden vessels. Suzanne Hirst looks into the history of one such ship and those who sailed in her.
Comment: Research on a ship built in Quebec in 1834 is used to explore the how to do ship research and the issues when more than one ship went by the name.

Hitching a ride: exploring travel journals
Melody Amsel-Arieli turns back the pages to the past for a contemporary view of the world that was.

A treasure trove of Army records
See how the National Army Museum website can show new aspects to your soldier ancestor’s service with Julie Goucher.

The feel of fashion: 1850s to 1870s
Explore the wardrobe of your ancestors in the age of crinolines and bustles - with Jayne Shrimpton.

Explore the War Memorials Register online
Family historians can now search more than 30,000 war memorial photographs on the web. Ian Hook of the Imperial War Museum reveals how.
Comment:  Over one million names are also in the database, mostly only with initials. I found a relative on three different memorials.

Gaol time
Simon Wills learns about a fascinating project to capture a century of the stories of convicts.

Library and Archives Canada Access to Information Request Response January - March 2018

You're likely heard of Reclaim the Records, the US not-for-profit activist group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates who identify important genealogical records sets that ought to be in the public domain but which are being wrongly restricted by government archives, libraries, and agencies.  To find out about their work listen to Drew Smith's interview with Brooke Schreier Ganz, the group Founder and President.

Is Canada's Access to Information (ATI) system being used to obtain genealogical related information from Library and Archives Canada?

In the first three months of the year responses to a total of 138 applications to Library and Archives Canada under ATI are reported.

There were 36 applications for which responses were issued in January, 51 in February and 42 in March. There was no report for April available as "All institutions subject to the Access to Information (ATI) Act are required to post summaries of completed ATI requests within thirty calendar days after the end of each month."

Based on the Request Number it would appear eight of these applications dated back to 2016 with the remainder for 2017.

Full disclosure was made for 50; partial disclosure for 53; for 11 nothing was found or the record requested does not exist; for 22 nothing was disclosed (excluded) and for 2 nothing was disclosed (exemption).

The median response had 225 pages; the most voluminous 9,755 pages—a request for "Construction and administration of Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Carp; including all materials relating to Project EASE..."

The only application I could find with an obvious genealogical connection is:

Request Number: A-2017-01212
Organization: Library and Archives Canada
Disposition: Nothing disclosed (excluded)
Year: 2018
Month: March
Number of Pages: 0
Request Summary: 1881 Canadian Census Vancouver Island
Make an informal request for: A-2017-01212 (LAC)

The application would be excluded as the 1881 census is published and the Act does not apply to "published material or material available for purchase by the public". See chapter 13 of the Access to Information Manual. Unfortunately that means that ATI won't help in gaining online access newspapers and directories held by LAC.

There are other ATI applications that may be of family history interest such as "Reports of Candidates attending Officers' Training Centre, Brockville. 1941-1944." for which full disclosure was given in 228 pages. I'm investigating this further; look for more when LAC gets back to me.

Search for ATI applications at

Monday, 21 May 2018

16% of Canada's physical artefacts and records converted to digital

With the approach of International Archives Day on 9 June the following extracts from the Government of Canada Survey of Heritage Institutions: 2017 report are noteworthy.

(Canadian) heritage institutions have a combined total of over 7.7 million linear meters of textual records— (about the length of the main route of the trans-Canada Highway.) Archives house the bulk of these records (approximately 72%), followed by museums (27%).  (It's not clear whether that includes LAC's holdings of publications)

There are over 113 million items of graphic material (i.e. photographs, drawings, cartographic maps, architectural and technical drawings etc.) held in heritage institutions all over Canada. Archives house the majority (69%) followed by museums (29%).

Canada's heritage institutions preserve and protect over 1.9 million hours of film, video and sound recordings. Archives and museums hold most of these collections at 70% and 26% respectively.

Heritage institutions house over 70 million artefacts and objects, including archeological artefacts, fine art, military objects, scientific or technical objects etc. Museums are responsible for protecting over 81% of these treasures, followed by historic sites at 17%.

There are nearly 41 million natural history and scientific specimens (i.e. plant, animal, paleontological and geological specimens) conserved across the country, allowing scientists, researchers and enthusiasts to study the natural history and phenomenon of our world.

Heritage institutions have amassed over 5.6 million gigabytes of born digital records (records that originate in a digital form). They also have over 4.7 million gigabytes from the conversion of physical objects and records into a digital format. In both instances, archives hold most of those digital records, 77% and 94% respectively.

Overall, heritage institutions have converted over 16% of their physical artefacts and records into digital format. Of that, about 10% is available online to the public.

Top Selling Genealogy Books on Kindle

These are the best sellers for the Kindle in the category they classify as genealogy, excluding fiction. Note that the ranking change fairly frequently.

1. Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here: The Ancient DNA Revolution and the New Science of the Human Past. Pantheon Books, 2018.

2. Rutherford, Adam. Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007.

3. Bettinger, Blaine T. The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. Family Tree Books, an imprint of F+W Media Inc, 2016.

4. Jacobs, A. J. It’s All Relative: Adventures up and down the World’s Family Tree, Simon & Schuster, 2017.

5. Elder, Diana and Nicole Dyer. Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist's Guide. Amazon Digital Services, 2018.

6. Bojs, Karin. My European Family. Bloomsbury Sigma, 2017.

7. Bettinger, Blaine T. and Debbie Parker Wayne. Genetic Genealogy in Practice. National Genealogical Society, 2016.

8. Hendrickson, Nancy. Unofficial Guide to  Family Tree Books, 2014.

9. Mills,  Elizabeth Shown.  Evidence Explained. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2017

10. Jones, Thomas W. Mastering Genealogical Proof. National Genealogical Society, 2013.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

New Season of Who Do You Think You Are? USA Starts Monday

Two episodes in the new series of WDYTYA (USA) are scheduled on Monday on TLC Canada

9:00 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Jon Cryer
Jon Cryer travels from America to Scotland as he uncovers the dramatic tale of an ancestor. This relative survived a catastrophic battle, endured horrific conditions as a prisoner of war and was forced to come to America as an indentured servant.

10:02 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Laverne Cox
Actress and activist Laverne Cox learns about the inspiring life of her African American ancestor, who challenged societal norms and bravely pushed the boundaries just years after Emancipation.

Others scheduled for the new season are: Hilary Duff, Jean Smart, Megan Mullally, and Molly Shannon.

If you're into binge watching episodes are scheduled from previous seasons.

3:00 AM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Aisha Tyler
Aisha Tyler's journey reveals an ancestor who, as a politician, struggled to keep his illegitimate son a secret. Against all odds, her 2x great-grandfather exemplifies bravery and determination during one of America's most tumultuous eras of racism.

4:00 AM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Katey Sagal
Katey Sagal has an emotional and insightful meeting with her mother's friend and fellow USO performer. Katey also finds a surprising link to the Amish and uncovers the harrowing story of her relative's daring escape from attackers.

4:00 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Jennifer Grey
Jennifer Grey discovers much more about the grandfather she thought she knew as she uncovers how he survived adversity to become a beacon of his community, and discovers a great-grandmother whose devastating tragedy stopped her from making it to America.

5:00 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Liv Tyler
Actress Liv Tyler unravels the mystery of her father Steven Tyler's maternal family line, uncovering ancestors who took part in famous American battles. She also learns shocking truths that change the way she will see herself, and her family, forever.

6:00 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Jessica Biel

Jessica Biel hunts for the truth behind family lore surrounding the death of an ancestor. She also makes two shocking discoveries that shake everything she knows about her heritage to the core.

7:00 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Smokey Robinson
Motown legend and icon Smokey Robinson tracks down a grandfather tangled in a swirl of controversy. He connects to a relative's familiar struggle with oppression while coming face-to-face with the gruesome history he knew was inevitable.

8:00 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? John Stamos
Actor John Stamos explores his Greek heritage for the first time and discovers an explosive feud that shattered his grandfather's childhood. He also meets a relative he never knew and hears firsthand about his family's enduring strength.

And the new ones are repeated too

11:04 PM EDT
Who Do You Think You Are? Jon Cryer

12:04 AM
Who Do You Think You Are? Laverne Cox

Canadian Veterans Death Cards: First World War

Did you know that Canadian veterans who survived the First World War and died up to the early 1960s may have information about them recorded at death in a collection of approximately 130,000 cards available online from Library and Archives Canada? I mentioned them in June 2012 but the information is worth resurfacing.

Each death card includes some or all of the following details:

Regimental service number
Unit, Battalion or Regiment
Date and place of death
Cause of death
Place of burial
Name and address of next-of-kin

Arranged alphabetically and available as images in batches of approximately 1,300 cards the name on the first card is the title of that batch. Find further information and a link to start the search at

Panel Discussion on DNA Results