Tag Archives: national archives

Ancestors Magazine to close

5 Mar

It was with sadness that I read Simon Fowler’s post this morning, announcing that the April 2010 edition of Ancestors Magazine would be the last.

The magazine, published by The National Archives and Wharncliffe Publishing Ltd, will finish just short of it’s 100th edition.

During it’s time the magazine has provided a wealth of news and information for British (although mainly English) family historians, many of the articles drawing from the collections of The National Archives (and other archives) and from the expertise of the staff there as well as other experts in the field.

As an example of the variety of content found in the magazine, the March 2010 edition included articles on body snatchers, Court of Chancery records, wages and currency conversion, highway surveyors and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It would be hard not to find something of interest amongst it’s pages.

UPDATE (09/03/10): According to The National Archives website, there is the possiblity of a replacement for Ancestors in the works, “We are currently discussing plans to launch a new magazine from The National Archives in the autumn. This work is being led by Simon Fowler, the current editor of ‘Ancestors’, and his team.

The Pub History Society Conference

20 Feb

I spent the day at The National Archives today, but didn’t do a single piece of research! Instead I attended the Pub History Society Conference held at the archives.

This was the first time the Pub History Society have held a conference, and hopefully it will become an annual event. For me it seemed that The National Archives was an ideal place to hold it, not only were the conference facilities excellent, but we also had the benefit of the other facilities at the archives, such as the café, cyber-café, lockers and bookshop.

There were five excellent talks, on varied aspects of pub history, some of which (if not all) will hopefully appear as podcasts:

  • The Lost Pubs of London (Jack Adams)
  • The Pub and the People (Simon Fowler)
  • Women, Darts and the Pub in the Interwar Period (Patrick Chaplin)
  • Pub Signs and Names (David Roe)
  • A Short History of Coaching Inns (David Thomas)

I wouldn’t like to try and pick a favourite, they were all thought provoking and made me think about aspects of pub history aside from my usual family history angle.

However, I couldn’t get away from family history entirely, especially during the talk on coaching inns. I couldn’t help wondering what Thomas KINGHORN (my 4x great-grandfather) thought about the coaching inns that he stopped at whilst guarding the mail coaches.

All in all it was a truly memorable day, and what really made it extra special was a guided tour of The National Archives given by Simon Fowler (editor of Ancestors magazine), giving us a peek behind the scenes.

What UK resources can we look forward to in 2010?

15 Jan

The two major players in UK online resources have given us a few teasers about what we can expect to see on their sites in the coming year.

The offerings from Ancestry.co.uk

  • We are pleased to announce that we will be bringing you the 1911 England and Wales Census Summary Books. This content will be available to customers on all of our membership packages for no additional cost.
  • We’re continuing to add significantly more original Parish registers, to help you go even further back into history.
  • We’ll continue to put more fascinating records online from our exclusive London Metropolitan Archives partnership, including Bishop’s Transcripts, School Admissions, Probate and more.
  • We’ll be growing our extensive military collection, adding more Immigration and Occupational records and further developing our international record collections for Worldwide members.

and from findmypast.co.uk

  • We will be significantly expanding our military records, including launching online for the first time anywhere Chelsea Pensioner service records and militia attestation papers (detailed military registration service records, containing personal details and physical descriptions). These are being provided in association with The National Archives.
  • Our BMDs section will be overhauled and improved, including the addition of greatly enhanced maritime records.
  • Irish and Scottish records will be arriving soon, establishing findmypast.co.uk as the primary family history site for the entire UK. And we’re continuing to add even more specialist records to enable you to approach your research from all angles, including more parish records, our forthcoming London probate indexes and our new Merchant Seamen registers.
  • We will be adding more navigation and useability improvements to the site, including improved search screens and results pages, cross census search and saved records.
  • We have new video tutorials on the way, showcasing our site redesign and helping you to get the most from your research.

Probably the highlight this year will be the release of the Chelsea Pensioner service records from findmypast. These have been in the pipeline for several years and will make available online the records for pre-WW1 soldiers similar to those that were released by Ancestry for WW1 soldiers.

Much of this new material is coming out of The National Archives, but don’t forget the volunteers of Ancestry World Archives Project working away on the British Postal Service Appointment Books from the Royal Mail (24% complete as I write this).

No doubt there will be other releases from other sources, although I don’t expect to see any result from the digitisation of the GRO BMD indexes, but we might get some more news from the British Library on the digitisation of their newspaper collection.

I am sure there will be other releases to look forward to during 2010. Do you know of any that I have missed? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Update on the will of William HOLMAN

17 Nov

On Saturday morning, whilst sitting on the train on the way to Winchester, I transcribed the will of William HOLMAN, my 5x great-grandfather.

Most of it was quite straight forward, but in taking the time to go through the will word by word I did pick up on a couple of mistakes.

The National Archives had the will indexed as being the will of William HOLMAN, farmer of Burstow, Surrey. When I looked at the word farmer it didn’t seem right. In fact I am pretty certain that William wasn’t a farmer but a farrier.

The second mistake was mine, in my earlier post about William’s will I said that his nine sons and six daughters inherited one guinea each upon his death. However on reading the will again I discovered that they inherited the one guinea each after the death of William’s wife Elizabeth.

Both of these may seem quite minor points, but could make a big difference further down the road in my research.

William HOLMAN’s will

13 Nov

Last night I downloaded the will of William HOLMAN, farmer of Burstow, Surrey from The National Archives, via their DocumentsOnline service.

I am certain that this William HOLMAN is my 5x great-grandfather, and the will has laid to rest my fears about two William and Elizabeth HOLMANs in Burstow, Surrey around the same time, so it was well worth spending £3.50 of my money on.

Although the will only mentions one wife (Elizabeth), it does also mention bequests to nine sons and six daughters. It also mentions another son (Thomas), who stood to inherit everything after the death of Elizabeth. By my reckoning that gives me 16 children in all, so it looks like William was married twice, both times to a woman called Elizabeth. Panic over!

The nine boys were Joseph, William, John, Benjamin, Stephen, James, Anthony, Richard and Robert. The six girls were Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, Judith, Peggey and Catherine (my 4x great-grandmother). All of them were left the sum of one guinea each. These names don’t all tie-up exactly with the baptisms I have, but the majority do, so I am convinced this is the right family.

I need to take some time now and sit down and transcribe the complete will, I find it takes quite a bit of time to get used to the handwriting, but once I get back into the right frame of mind it is usually quite easy.

Hopefully I can get to have a look at the Burstow parish registers soon, and check for the burial of the first Elizabeth and William himself, the will was dated the 11th September 1807 and proved in London on the 4th March 1808, that should help me find his burial.

All in all this is looking like quite a happy ending to a worrying scenario that was forming in my mind about my HOLMAN ancestors, but I needn’t have worried. Why do I always suspect the worst of my ancestors and assume they were trying to give me a headache?

Things could get messy in Burstow

12 Nov

I was filling in gaps for my Christmas Tree Project last night, and it was going quite well, I was mainly focusing on Sussex baptisms, and added several 5x great-grandparents as I was going along. Then I started looking at some Surrey baptisms.

I was working on Henry GASSON and Catherine HOLMAN, who married in Burstow, Surrey in 1814. I have their ages and places of birth from the census, so it wasn’t too difficult to find their baptisms on the Surrey Baptism Index CD from the West Surrey Family History Society.

Henry GASSON was born in Charlwood, Surrey around 1786, he was baptised in Charlwood on the 11th February 1786. He was the son of John and Ann GASSON/GASTON. Catherine HOLMAN was born in Burstow, Surrey around 1795, she was the daughter of William and Elizabeth HOLMAN and was baptised in Burstow on the 12th July 1795.

The worrying thing was that when I looked for other children of William and Elizabeth HOLMAN in Burstow, I found another 16 children. That seemed rather a lot, not impossible, but rather unusual. Some of the names were duplicated, and there was a group of four children all baptised on the 21st October 1790. The baptism dates ranged from 1765 to 1795.

Further information came from checking the Surrey Marriage Index CD (also from the WSFHS) that I bought at Woking a couple of weeks ago. William HOLMAN married Elizabeth STREAP at Burstow on the 17th October 1764, and then on the 1st January 1779, a William HOLMAN married Elizabeth HUGGETT.

This could be a serious problem, I am hoping that I can find a burial for an Elizabeth HOLMAN before 1779, and the first William married another Elizabeth, otherwise I am going to have a devil of a job picking out which pair of William and Elizabeth HOLMANs had which children.

I really need to have a look at the original parish registers on microfilm/fiche, to check the accuracy of the index and look for other clues. Interestingly there is a will on The National Archives DocumentsOnline for William HOLMAN, farmer of Burstow, Surrey. That has got to be worth spending £3.50 of my money on.

Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part two)

9 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

I have been able to find out precious little about Ernest’s military service. A couple of years before the British Army service records started to appear on Ancestry.co.uk I had already been up to the National Archives at Kew and searched the microfilms for Ernest, but had found nothing.

At the National Archives I was able to get a copy of his medal index card, which would later also turn up on Ancestry.co.uk, but that told me nothing more than I already knew from the inscription on the edge of his medals.

What little information I have comes from two sources, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Register, and Soldiers Died in the Great War which at that time was only available online at Military-Genealogy.com but now it is also available on Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.com.

These two sources confirmed that this man was my 2x great-uncle, but only gave me a few other details about his military service. He was a member of the 12th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry upon his death, but he had previously been in the Army Cyclist Corps (with the regimental number of 10572). He had enlisted at Hove, Sussex and had given Sayers Common, Sussex as his residence, so he was probably still living at home with his parents.

It confirmed that the date he died was the 23rd September 1917, and the place was “France and Flanders”. The CWGC site also told me he was commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, at Tyne Cot Cemetery near the town of Ypres in Belgium. Ernest is one of the thousands of men who have no known grave.

At the National Archives I was able to consult the war diaries of 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (WO 95/2182), and have since download a copy via their DocumentsOnline service. This sadly tells me very little about what happened on the 23rd September 1917. Between the 20th and 24th September the battalion was involved in an attack but the report of this attack fails to make any mention of the number of casualties.

It seems unlikely that I will ever find out what happened to Ernest, the best I can hope for is to learn more about the actions of the 12th Battalion from other sources and learn what took place, but I will be very lucky to find out anything on an individual level that is going to help me learn more about Ernest’s service.

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