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Old Ordnance Survey Maps – The Godfrey Edition

9 Apr

By now it should be obvious to my readers that I love maps. Both historic and modern maps are useful tools for family history research, and of course modern maps are almost essential for a wandering genealogist who doesn’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere.

There is one type of map which I find irresistible, these are the Old Ordnance Survey Maps published by Alan Godfrey Maps known as The Godfrey Edition. These maps are reprints of historic Ordnance Survey maps for selected areas at a specific point in time. The series now covers not only Great Britain, but has also extended over the channel into France, Belgium and Germany.

Most of the maps are taken from the 1:2500 scale OS maps, usually covering towns and cities (London is particularly well covered) and as well as the map they usually contain historical notes, historic photographs of the area and a brief extract from a local directory. All very helpful in building up a picture of the area your ancestors came from.

Alan Godfrey Maps were at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010 (see their March newsletter) and I just missed out on getting a copy of their Brighton map, so I took advantage of their online map shop and quickly received my map through the post. They are tremendous value for money as well, at the time of writing they are £2.25 each (excluding postage).

It wasn’t until I found myself exploring their website that I discovered that Alan Godfrey had been awarded a well deserved MBE in the 2010 New Years Honour List for services to heritage.

If like me you find yourself getting lost exploring the minute detail of old maps then you probably already know about Alan Godfrey Maps, but if not give their website a visit and see what you are missing.

March GRO certificate order

15 Mar

I was a bit slow placing an order for this month’s ration of birth, marriage and death certificates from the GRO.

This month my three certificates are all going to be death certificates, all for GEERINGs and all from Hailsham Registration District. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, because I have no hard proof yet that these people are my relations (or in one case my ancestor).

The three certificates I have ordered are:

  • DEATH – James GEERING (Q1 1850)

James GEERING is probably my 5x great-grandfather, I am hoping that something on the certificate will link him to his known children in Lewes, Sussex. My hopes are not high for finding a link, more than likely the informant on the certificate will be his sister Ann or (possible) daughter Jane, both living in Hailsham at the time.

  • DEATH – Ann GEERING (Q1 1864)

Ann GEERING is probably my 6x great-aunt and sister of James GEERING above. I am not expecting to find much new information from her death certificate, the informant will probably be her niece Jane.

  • DEATH – Jane GEERING (Q3 1874)

Jane GEERING is probably my 5x great-aunt, the daughter of James GEERING and niece of Ann GEERING. As she appears to be the last of this particular branch of the GEERING family in Hailsham I am hoping that the informant might be another family member from somewhere else, but I fear that it will be one of the couple with whom she is living in the 1871 census.

So I am not very optimistic that any of these certificates will actually help with my research, but as clues are very few and far between, I need to make the most of any lead I have.

"What on earth do you want that for?"

13 Feb

I regularly visit charity shops, usually in search of books (as a substitute for all the second-hand bookshops that have closed), but also for DVDs and computer software.

I found a real bargain today, a battered box entitled Family Tree Genealogy Suite (Version 4) produced by GSP Ltd, now part of the Avanquest Software Group.

Family Tree Genealogy Suite

Now I know what you are thinking, probably the same as my wife would "what on earth do you want that for?", after all it was published in 2003, and I already have a decent piece of genealogy software and if I didn’t there are several free options for genealogy software.

Aside from the fact it was only £3 and that was going to charity, the real reason for buying it were two CDs included in the "suite". The two CDs are the installation and data disk for UK-Info 2003 Lite.

The reason this program is so good is that it contains the names and addresses of 44 million registered electors from the UK. According to the CD it contains "data drawn from the Electoral Roll collected by Local Authorities prior to November 2001".

The key thing here is that this data is from before the changes in legislation which enabled people to have their details removed from the public version of the register. The data is available online from sites like 192.com, but for a price.

Interestingly the latest version UK-Info Pro V15 now only contains 25 million names and addresses (plus 14 million Directory Enquiry listings and 3.4 million company records). The price tag of £150 puts it well out of my reach and I would imagine most genealogists.

I’ve installed the program and tested it, everything seems to work fine. I’ve done some searching, so now all I need to do is create a source record in Family Historian and start adding some address details to my relations.

The lesson from this is to always keep an eye open for family history software, not for the software itself, but for the freebies that are included with it.

February GRO certificate order

3 Feb

Birth, marriage and death certificates are one of the key sources in English family history, but are also one of the most expensive as well. At £7 a certificate, a genealogist on a budget (like me) can’t afford as many as they would like.

I try and ration myself to just three certificates a month, so I need to make sure they are not only the correct ones (my relations, not someone else’s), but also that they are going to benefit my research more than just providing an exact date of birth or cause of death.

After some careful thought this month’s lucky winners have been selected:

  • BIRTH – Walter Henry BOXALL (Q2 1897)

Walter Henry BOXALL is one of the orphans in my database, he is described in the 1901 census as the grandson of my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline BOXALL, but there is no indication of his parents.

Tragically his life was cut short by the First World War. Interestingly his birth was registered in Wales, not Sussex, where I would have expected it. I really would like to be able to correctly place him in my family tree and try to piece together the reason why he was in born in Wales.

  • MARRIAGE – Ernest John TROWER and Emma P WILDING (Q1 1913)

Ernest John TROWER was the son of Mercy TROWER, who should need no introduction by now. I am hoping that the marriage certificate will identify his father, whose identity has so far remained a mystery. This may give me a clue to the identity of Mercy’s husband.

Interestingly I cannot find any details of Emma WILDING. I was hoping I could find out where she came from so that I might find a record of their marriage locally, but so far she has remained elusive.

  • DEATH – Jane K TROWER (Q4 1922)

Jane TROWER is another daughter of Henry and Jane TROWER, making her the sister of Mercy TROWER, she was my 3x great-aunt. There is a large gap in my knowledge of her life between the 1881 census and her death in 1922 and burial in Henfield, Sussex.

I am hoping that her death certificate will give me a few clues, at least it should tell me where she was living, and the identity of the informant might give me another clue. Even the cause of death may help me identify where she had been hiding.

Sweet memories at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

4 Jan

On New Years Eve I visited the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill, London. I would heartily recommend a visit if you are ever in London.

My friend and I spent nearly two hours wandering around this relatively small building that was crammed full of all manner of advertising material and packaging, from bottles and jars to boxes and tins, from the Victorian era up to the present day.

There was so much to see, and not just food packaging. It was a timeline of British (mostly English) social history, which featured along with the general packaging and advertising of each age, examples of commemorative items produced for events such as coronations and the Great Exhibition of 1851.

I found it fascinating the way some products we know and love were almost instantly recognisable in their earlier incarnations, where key elements of the branding had been retained or changed only slightly.

Particularly interesting were the displays towards the end of the museum, which featured examples of the same products from across the decades, lined up next to each other on the shelves. The size, shape and material of the packaging may have changed only slightly, but there was a clear evolution across the years.

The most surprising thing for me was the realisation that many of the products that I remember as a child (mostly sweets and chocolates) which I thought were new, had in reality been around for decades before, like Smarties (first called Smarties in 1937). I wonder if this is just me or my generation, or does every generation think they are the first to try these “new fangled” products?

I resisted the temptation to spend any money in their shop, but they do have an online shop with some great postcards amongst other things, so I may well be tempted again.

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