Whilst sorting through the files and folders on my hard drive today I listened to two new podcast episodes. I must admit that I am rather biased about these two podcasts, because they are both subjects close to my heart.
First was the next episode of the BBC Radio 4 programme Ramblings, in which Clare Balding walked part of the South Downs Way from Ditchling Beacon to Devil’s Dyke. It was wonderful to hear her talking about some of the places that I had seen on my walk last week, and some of the things I had mentioned on my blog post.
Next up was the latest podcast from The National Archives, this was a talk entitled Lost London Pubs given by Jack Adams at the Pub History Society Conference I attended back in February and wrote about here. It was great to hear the talk again and I hope that some of the other talks will appear over the next few weeks.
It is very rare to get a podcast that is so close to home, relevant and interesting, but to get two come along at the same time is unheard of, but nevertheless welcome.
Politically it has been an interesting couple of weeks in the United Kingdom, but now a new government has been formed and things are starting to settle down The National Archives have started talking to us again.
Once the election had been announced The National Archives were obliged to restrict what they said, because they are a government department. Now the new government has been formed, normal service has been resumed.
One of their first announcements was about the appointment of Kenneth Clarke QC MP as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, effectively putting him in charge of The National Archives.
The next few years are going to be difficult financially, and I am sure we haven’t seen the last of the cost cutting already seen at The National Archives in recent months (e.g. closing on Mondays).
I am sure over the next few months (even years) there are going to have to be some unpopular decisions made that will affect us as family historians. However, like the two political parties now working together in coalition, we are going to have to make some compromises.
In the meantime, it is good to have The National Archives back talking to us, it has really been rather quiet without them.
Ancestry.co.uk have announced that part of the 1910 Land Valuation Survey is now available for keying in the Ancestry World Archives Project. The 1910 Land Valuation Survey is a massive collection, which is of interest to local and house historians as well as genealogists.
Before you get too excited, the records currently available for indexing (known as the Domesday Books) are just a small part of the complete survey. Those currently being indexed cover “land in the City of London and Paddington”. Other Domesday Books, if they have survived, are available at local record offices.
You can find out more about the survey on The National Archives website where they have a research guide which covers the subject. The most important part of the survey are the field books (in IR58) which contain a wealth of details on the land and property involved, but usually very little information about the people involved. According the research guide:
The amount of information entered in the Field Books varies considerably, but usually includes the names of owner and occupier; the owner’s interest (freehold, copyhold, etc.); details of tenancy (term and rent); and the area covered by the property. Other details recorded may include the date of erection of buildings, number of rooms, state of repair, liability for rates, insurance and repairs, date(s) of previous sale(s) and, sometimes, a sketch-plan of the property
It can take some work in finding the correct field book (using maps) but it is usually well worth the effort. The indexing of the Domesday Books (IR91) will help make access easier for those areas covered.
I can only hope that this is the start of a much larger project to digitise the entire survey including the field books and maps.
Some of the podcasts published by The National Archives are of more interest to genealogists than others. The National Archives contains a wide variety of record types, so naturally their talks (and subsequent podcasts) try to reflect this.
The latest podcast Counting the People is a real gem, and will be of interest to any family historian with an interest in finding out what it took to actually make the census happen.
Audrey Collins gives a sometimes humorous “behind the scenes” look at some of the people involved, some of the problems encountered in taking the census and many other aspects of the decennial census.
I would recommend this podcast (just over an hour long) and the accompanying notes to all family historians, as it will help explain why we may not always find what we are looking for on the census, as well as describing how the whole enumeration process worked.
My research into the GEERINGs of Hailsham, Sussex is proving to be both rewarding and challenging, and I might even go as far as to say exciting.
I am exploring new areas, both in geographical terms and in terms of sources I can use. I am fortunate of course that Hailsham is not too far away (less than two hours by bus and train) and the records even closer (mostly at the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes).
I am also fortunate that there seems to be plenty of records for Hailsham that have survived. For example this is the first time I have been researching in a parish where there is a pre-1841 census still in existence.
Hailsham actually has two, the 1821 and 1831. Of course the details will be very limited (just the head of household) but the very fact that an ancestor should be listed in a pre-1841 census that has survived got me quite excited!
The weak link in my research is proving that James GEERING (the father of my 4x great-grandfather) is the same James GEERING who was the son of Richard and Mary “the old druggist” GEERING. I am hoping that the comment by Thomas Geering in his book Our Sussex Parish that James was a barrack-sergeant might lead to more information (time for a visit to The National Archives).
It seems a long time since I got so deeply wrapped up in a piece of research, and it feels so good! The only problem is that there seems so much to do, but oddly enough this seems to be working in my favour as well, because it is forcing me to be more methodical and better prepared for when I do get to visit an archive.