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"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.

More maps for my collection

30 Oct

These are my latest finds from my local Oxfam shop. Three Ordnance Survey maps of Sussex dating from around 1948-9. Not particularly old or in top condition, but they were real bargains, or at least I think so, at £1.99 each

Three maps

The scale of all three is the same,  1:25,000 (about 2½ inches to one mile), which is detailed enough to show the locations and outlines of larger buildings and farms. Most of the farms are named as are many of the country roads.

The one on the left is of the Haywards Heath area. Not so many places of ancestral interest here, apart from the asylum and the village of Cuckfield.

The middle one covers an area from Washington and Thakeham in the west to Bramber and Partridge Green. This includes part of Henfield, where the TROWER family were, Ashurst (home to the HAYBITTLES) and part of West Grinstead, showing some of the places where the FAIRS family lived.

The one on the right covers many ancestral villages: Cowfold, Twineham (showing the location of Ridden’s Farm, believed to be home to my WELLER ancestors), Bolney, Slaugham and Warninglid.

Whilst I don’t expect to actually discover much new information from these maps, there is always a chance of finding the location of a previously unidentified family home, that has since been demolished or changed its name.

The real interest comes from studying the maps and comparing with the present-day maps, seeing how things have changed. For example, one thing that immediately stood out was the number of trig points on these old maps, and how few of them survive today.

They had a few others in the shop, from the same series, if they are still there on Monday I may well get another couple, although these were the only ones of real family interest for me. Although I think I need to make a list of the ones I already have because I am starting to build up quite a collection.

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