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Updating my 1911 census images

8 Jan

I knew it was something I was going to have to do when the time came, but that hasn’t made it any less time-consuming and it has to be said any less tedious. It would have been nice if those little white rectangles had suddenly disappeared from the images I had downloaded, but that was never going to happen was it?

So this afternoon I have spent several hours updating all those 1911 census images that I had download over the last couple of years. As I write this I haven’t quite finished, probably another thirty images left to download, but so far it has been almost completely unproductive.

About eighty images so far have been saved to my hard drive and so far I have been rewarded with only two entries in that newly unveiled column sixteen. Horace DUNFORD (my 2x great-aunt’s husband) was a cripple from birth apparently and of course I didn’t need to 1911 census to tell me that George Thomas GASSON was a lunatic.

I suppose it is rather uncharitable of my to wish infirmity on my ancestors and relatives, even if they are long since departed, but it would have been nice to find more people with some sort of infirmity, or even one of those “funny” ones that get mentioned in press releases.

I hadn’t realised that I had downloaded quite so many 1911 census images and if I had thought about it I could have waited until the complete image was released, but greed and impatience took over and I had to have those images, now I am paying the price (thankfully in time, not money) having to download them all again when I could be doing other things.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 tickets go on sale tomorrow

1 Nov

According to the new look  Who Do You Think Are? Live website tickets for next year’s event go on sale frpm the 2nd November 2011, although some pages of the website just say early November.

The good news is that this year there is a larger range of ticket options including the option of a three-day ticket for £30.00, for people like me who intend on visiting for the entire show this is a big improvement on previous years and represents great value for money.

The new look website has been around for a while and is still a little bit devoid of information yet. Hopefully this will change soon and we will start to find out the details of who, what, where, when and how.

It might be worth waiting a little while before buying your tickets to see if there are any special offers this year, like there has been in previous years.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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What’s in it for me: Merchant Navy seamen records on Findmypast.co.uk

6 Sep

Findmypast.co.uk have recently released another new record collection, the Merchant Navy seamen 1918-1941 records which contains image of index cards from The National Archives series BT348, BT349 and BT350. According to The National Archives the cards were part of the CR2 Central Indexed Register kept by the Registrar General of Shipping and Seaman and “each card typically gives the following information: discharge A number; certificate of company number; name of seaman; year and place of birth; rank or rating; name and official number of ship and date of engagement of service. Frequently, on the reverse of the card, can be found a list of the vessels on which the crewman served.”

According to the Findmypast.co.uk news release,

It is possible to find a photograph of your ancestor within these records. These rarely seen photos of the mariners mean you can see what your seafaring ancestor looked like for the first time – a real achievement for any family historian.

You can find out more about researching merchant seaman in The National Archives research guide on the subject.

So what’s in it for me…

The short answer is nothing or at least nothing yet. As far as I can remember there are only two people in my family tree who made their living from the sea, if you don’t count those who served during the two World Wars, and they were serving with the Royal Navy.

After a few preliminary searches I have been unable to identify anyone in the collection who might be a relative, but I am sure eventually someone will come out of the woodwork who might be in this collection.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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What’s in it for me: Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures

25 Aug

Ancestry.co.uk have added to their collection of occupational records with the release of a collection entitled UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures 1710-1811. The records which make up this collection are from The National Archives (series IR1) and whilst various indexes to these records have been available online previously I believe this is the first time that they have been fully indexed along with images of the registers.

According to the Ancestry website:

This collection contains registers of the money received for the payment on taxes for an apprentice’s indenture between 1710-1811. The registers kept track of the money paid by masters of a trade to have an apprentice. The dates in the records are for when the tax was paid and may be some years after the apprenticeship, not when it started or finished.

The information in each record does differ from across the collection, so earlier records may name the apprentice’s father the later ones don’t. Along with the name of the apprentice you should find the name of the master, their occupation, their location, the length of the apprenticeship, the amount the master was paid and the amount of duty that they had to pay.

One thing that is particularly confusing is the layout of the records, both on Ancestry and in the original registers. On Ancestry each record is covered by two images (or it is on the ones I have looked at) clicking a search result will take you to the first page and then you need to click to the next image to view more details. With the original registers  there doesn’t appear to be any headings to the different columns (although I am not sure if this is the same throughout the collection), presumably there is a header at the start of each register, but it takes a bit of work to interpret each record.

For more background on apprenticeship records see The National Archives research guide covering the subject.

So what’s in it for me…

Some initial searches have turned up a few records of interest, however I am sure over time more will emerge. This is one of those collections that will need to be checked again and again, although the lack of detail in some of those records may well make it difficult to identify whether you have the correct individual or not.

One particularly interesting record is for Henry TROWER who was apprenticed to Charles WARD of Henfield, Sussex a carpenter and joiner for 6 years. For this Charles WARD was paid £10, for which he had to pay five shillings duty. This was paid on the 17th June 1766 which means this might be my 5x great-grandfather who was born in 1750.

My Henry TROWER does seem to be the most likely fit given the date but without any more detail it is not possible to say for certain whether this is my ancestor or not.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Highlights of the UK Railway Employment Records

10 Aug

You will no doubt have already heard about the latest release from Ancestry.co.uk, the UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1963. I was delighted to see that this release included a collection of records originating from the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR).

The LBSCR were responsible for my local railway, the Horsham to Shoreham Railway (also known as the Steyning Line). The line was closed in 1966 (before I was born) after Dr. Beeching decided it was surplus to requirements. The LBSCR had long since gone by then, it had been merged with other railway companies to form the Southern Railway in 1923, which in turn became part of British Railways in 1948 following nationalisation. If you want to find out more then the Wikipedia article on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway is pretty comprehensive.

I have spent several hours over the last few days exploring the collection trying to get a feel for what is included and found myself getting totally sucked in. I had intended to create a list all the different pieces in the collection for future reference but that fell completely by the wayside as I turned the pages of the various volumes.

I wasn’t really looking for people to add to my family tree, instead I was just exploring the lists of names, and not so much the names themselves but the positions they held and where they worked. I was taking my own virtual tour of the LBSCR railway network, seeing what made it work, from engine drivers to accountants, from a large London terminus to a small country station.

There are couple pieces in this collection that are really special, the first is described by Ancestry as the “1862-1863 Operating Staff Black Book” (TNA RAIL 414/759) which contains details of fines (and sometimes suspension or dismissal) for various misdemeanours, such as the unfortunate Mr Trapp an Office Porter at London Bridge who was fined two shillings and six pence “For carrying Passengers luggage down the platform to the train it being against orders & having been cautioned on previous occasions not to do it but to attend to the Booking office”.

For me the most interesting piece in the collection is described as “1914-1920 Staff on Active Service” (TNA RAIL 414/791). This is an extremely valuable record of LBSCR employees who served during the First World War, and as such will be of interest to not only family historians, but also military historians. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw the amount of information recorded, we all know that many WW1 service records have been destroyed and this volume may well represent one the few surviving records of many men who served.

Each entry not only covers what the men did whilst employed by the railway, it also includes details of their regiment, rank and number and the date they left the railway. The entries also include details of the men’s dependants such as a wife and the number of children they had. Often this will also include the date of their marriage and age and sex of the children.

The most poignant detail however is the bold red underlining of certain names which highlights those who died whilst serving. Many larger railway stations have a memorial to those railway employees that died and this volume may well have been the source of those names. Ancestry probably ought to include this in their military collection if they haven’t done so already.

I look forward to spending many more hours looking through these records and maybe even get around to searching for some of my relations. I know there are several railway connections, but most of those connections relate to those building the railway, rather than operating it, and most of these labourers were employed by contractors and not the railway company themselves.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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