Tag Archives: national archives

British Army WW1 Service Records now complete on Ancestry.co.uk

6 Nov

Yesterday Ancestry.co.uk announced the completion of the British Army WW1 Service Records. Records relating for surnames from A to N were previously available on the website, but now the collection is complete.

These records are known as the “burnt documents” because 60% of the original records were destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War. Previously they were only available to view on microfilm at the National Archives (series WO363).

The contents of each service record varies greatly, as does the legibility of some of the pages, many of which show clear signs of fire damage. According to Ancestry the service records “contain a variety of information concerning all aspects of the army careers of those who completed their duty or were either killed in action or executed, including the soldier’s name, date and place of birth, address, next-of-kin, former occupation, marital status, medical records, service history, regiment number, locations of service and discharge papers“.

It is not just military service information that you can find in these records, it was in the service record of William James GASSON that I first discovered that his father (and my 2x great-grandfather) George Thomas GASSON had been admitted to a lunatic asylum.

I had a quick look last night, and it looks like the only close relation is William Henry TROWER (my 1st cousin 3 times removed) and their doesn’t seem to be anything unusual contained within his documents. I am sure other relations will come to light once I carry out a more thorough search.

The missing wife of William RUSSELL

21 Oct

One of the weak links on my Christmas Tree Project is the wife of William RUSSELL, my 4x great grandfather and mother of my 3x great grandfather Thomas RUSSELL.

I know that Thomas’ father was William from his marriage entry in the Ticehurst parish registers. From that I also know that his father’s occupation was that of a shoemaker.

All the census information I have points to a birth for Thomas in Salehurst, Sussex around 1822-23, and although the Salehurst baptisms have been included in the Sussex Family History Group (SFHG) Data Archive, I can’t for the life of me find Thomas’ baptism.

I think I have found Thomas with his father (and brother George) in the 1841 Census, in Salehurst, but there is no sign of a wife for William. There is an older woman, Lydia RUSSELL, who is probably William’s mother (making William the son of Samuel and Lydia RUSSELL).

In 1861 William is living with Elkanah RUSSELL and family in Burwash, Sussex and it could well be that Elkanah is another son. It is an unusual name so it should stand out in the records.

So who was William’s wife? The SFHG Marriage Index gives a couple of marriages around the right time for William RUSSELL in Salehurst, Sussex, and the most likely of these is to Ann SPICE on the 27th April 1811.

My best bet however is to try and locate the baptism for Thomas RUSSELL, that should give me his mother’s name, but if not in Salehurst then where. I searched the baptism transcriptions for Salehurst and surrounding parishes at the East Sussex Record Office last week without any luck.

I wasn’t until I got home that I discovered a birth record for Elkanah RUSSELL, amongst the non-conformist records on BMDregisters.co.uk. This confirmed his parents as William RUSSELL and Ann SPICE, but there was still no sign of Thomas.

So all the evidence points to William RUSSELL and Ann SPICE being the parents of Thomas RUSSELL, but the connection is not quite as strong as I would like.

The problem with the BMDregisters website is that it is not obvious what records are included and whether any other records exist at the National Archives. There is of course the chance that records might survive locally as well, so I need to check with the East Sussex Record Office again.

The National Archives – War on Film videocasts

3 Sep

The National Archives have today released the first of a series of videocasts entitled “War on Film” focusing on aspects of the Second World War.

The first videocast is Hope and Glory and is a short but useful introduction to life in London at the start of the war and during the Blitz. It features extracts and footage taken from The National Archives. It can be found on The National Archives website or on their YouTube channel.

The National Archives: Forgeries in the archives podcast

29 Aug

The latest podcast from The National Archives is a real gem. I listened to it on the bus coming home from Brighton this lunchtime. The podcast is called Forgeries in the archives, and covers a broad range of historical documents, and forgers and their motives, not just those cases that involved archives.

It was fascinating to hear about some of the characters involved, their motives and the methods involved in creating their forgeries and how they were eventually uncovered. It then goes to explain that new evidence has meant that some documents which were originally believed to be forgeries may not be after all.

It is unlikely that family historians will have to worry about forgeries (although there is one case mentioned involving a parish register) because as the speaker (David Thomas) points out it is mainly famous individuals like Shakespeare and Hitler that feature in forgeries, presumably because this is where the money and fame can found.

Sadly, despite what it say at the start of the podcast there is no further information on the website, but there is more information on the case involving The National Archives on their website, in the 2007 Freedom of Information disclosure log, including copies of the documents and police witness statements.

Metropolitan Police orders for the 1861 census

15 Aug

One of the advantages of searching a document page by page rather than going to a particular page, is that you find all manner of things you weren’t looking for but are still interesting nevertheless.

One such example was in the Metropolitan Police Orders for 1861 (MEPO 7/22) that I was searching at The National Archives last weekend. I was looking for a mention of my 3x great grandfather Thomas GASSON, but I came across this entry on Saturday the 6th April 1861.

CENSUS OF 1861.-The Superintendents are to instruct the Police of their respective Divisions to correctly state the particulars required in the Schedule left at their places of residence, and that the names of those on duty during the night of Sunday, the 7th April, are also to be inserted in the same manner as if they had slept at their homes.

The Schedules sent to Divisions from the Commissioner’s Office this day are to be duly filled up by the Superintendents, as far as in their power, respecting all persons confined at the Police Stations on the night of Sunday, 7th, and they are to be returned to the Enumerators of the Districts in which the Stations are situated when called for on 8th. The total numbers of Male and Female Prisoners confined in each Division, and returned in the Schedules, are to be sent to the Commissioner’s Office on 11th.

The Police are to give the necessary assistance, if required by the Enumerators, to suppress any disturbance which may occur while they are visiting each house to collect the Schedules.

With regard to the first part, Thomas GASSON was recorded at home in the 1861 census, so I guess I will never know if he was actually on duty that night or not. I have not come across any schedules for Police Stations in my searches of the 1861 census (or others) but I might have a quick look, I would love to see if there are any prisoners listed in the Police Stations. If you know of any please let me know in the comments.

A successful day at The National Archives

8 Aug
The National Archives, Kew

The National Archives, Kew

All in all I think was one of the best days I have ever had at The National Archives, it sure seems like it was a long day, but it was no longer than a normal day at work. I am sure I will sleep well tonight though.

The journey was pretty good, no delays on the trains. It was engineering work on the London Underground which made me change my mind and go to The National Archives today instead of the London Family History Centre.

I have already written about the successful morning I had, but the afternoon didn’t go quite so well. Despite my best efforts I could not find out any more about Wybrants KINGHORN.

I think the problem is that I don’t really know where to start looking. I thought this might be a problem, I don’t really know enough about the subject of criminal trials yet to get anywhere. I should have taken my time and read up a bit more before jumping in head first. Still at least I know where not to look now!

So I switched my attention to the HEMSLEY family and Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex. I have written about this place before, but haven’t really done much research into the place. One of the things I wanted to check whilst at Kew was the Valuation Office Field Books for Gun Inn.

These hold the details of a survey carried out as a result of The Finance (1909-1910) Act and provide some information on the property itself and it’s value. It doesn’t normal have much family information, really only the name of the owners and occupiers, however the entry for Gun Inn had the useful little note that it was sold at auction in July 1914 to T. HEMSLEY for £700. This coincides with the death of Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great grandfather) and gives me some great clues as to where to look for more information (a local newspaper for details of the sale including the auctioneer, and then for records from that auctioneer if any survive), if I am lucky there may even be a sale catalogue in an archive somewhere.

After this I decided to take advantage of the free access to the 1911 census and look up Henry HEMSLEY. I hadn’t used the 1911 census at Kew before, but it was straightforward enough once I had found the link on their web page. At Kew you can search and view the pages free of charge and it only costs 20p to print an A3 page (I would rather have had a digital copy but I don’t think this is possible).

As I was getting ready to leave I was stopped by a member of staff, who asked if I was Mr Gasson. I thought I must have done something wrong or left something behind somewhere, but no, this was another Gasson, a distant cousin, who had seen my name on some of my document orders. We chatted briefly but I had to go and catch my train, but you can be sure we will be swapping notes before too long and establishing exactly what the family connection is.

Investigating Wybrants KINGHORN

6 Aug

The discovery of Wybrants KINGHORN (my half 3x great uncle) in the ancestry.co.uk criminal registers has renewed my interest in this member of the KINGHORN family.

My knowledge of Wybrants hadn’t really increased since the last time I wrote about him back in April, until I learnt of his criminal past the other night. I have had one possible sighting in the 1861 census, but I can’t even be certain about that.

One interesting detail has arisen out of this latest discovery is that was imprisoned for eight months on the 31st May 1852 and he must have been married just before this because the marriage was registered in Q2 1852 (St Giles District). I would love to find out the consequences of his trial and sentence on his wife and their marriage. Should I be looking for a divorce as well?

Last night I took the next step in my research by ordering a copy of his marriage certificate and his death certificate. These should at least give me a few more hard facts to build on. Whilst I am waiting for the certificates to arrive I need to start planning my research into his criminal past. It looks like I will be heading to The National Archives in the near future.

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