Tag Archives: ancestry.co.uk

Finding Mary MITCHELL in the 1861 census: a lesson learned

3 Mar

I have previously struggled to find my 4x great-grandmother Mary MITCHELL (née SMITH) in the 1861 census. I didn’t really expect to find anything unusual in the entry, but with a surname like SMITH you need to check every record just in case there are any clues to help me find her parents.

I had found Mary in every census from 1841 to 1891 (she died in Q3 1891) except 1861 and was fairly certain that her son William would be living with her. I also knew from other census returns that she was born around 1808 in Cuckfield, Sussex and that she would be a widow in 1861.

I had previously had no luck with Ancestry.co.uk and Findmypast.co.uk but having seen TheGenealogist.co.uk presentation at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 last weekend and having been impressed by their search facilities I decided it would be a good idea to try searching their indexes.

I had hoped to try out their Family Forename Search, but with the only two names being William and Mary I didn’t fancy my chances (and I wasn’t even sure that William would be with his mother) of finding them easily. A straight-forward search didn’t bring up any entries for Mary MITCHELL, but I did have more luck with William. William MITCHELL was living with his mother and his brother Alfred in Slaugham, Sussex.

Although I had found the entry and could have just left it at that, I wanted to learn why I had struggled to find the family. I felt sure there were valuable lessons to be learned for the future.

Of course I already knew that transcriptions and indexes are not always perfect but in my experience they are usually good enough to find the person you are looking for with a bit of ingenuity and persistence.

In this case one look at the census image was enough to identify the problem, in fairness to the Ancestry and Findmypast transcribers the M at the beginning of the surname does look like a lot like a W to me. Sure enough this is how they had it indexed.

So it looks like TheGenealogist has the best transcription, but not quite. They got the hard bit right (her surname) but got Mary’s first name completely wrong!

Also I am not sure that the address is correct, there is nothing to suggest that the name “Old Pack Farm” should have been carried on to subsequent entries. Then looking at Ancestry’s results it appears that William was born in Balmaclellan, Sussex (I don’t think so).

I wondered if anyone had transcribed the record correctly and remembered that FreeCEN had completed transcribing the 1861 census for Sussex, I wondered what their transcribers had made of it?

Turns out they knew exactly what they were doing, even down to the note on the birth place of William. I was surprised, not that the FreeCEN transcribers got it right, but that they were the only ones that got it right. Of course they don’t have the images for free so I would still have needed to check against one of the other websites.

The lesson for me is that paid for results are not always better than free results (and of course that an M can sometimes look like a W). I have been using FreeBMD for years but totally neglecting FreeCEN (and FreeREG for that matter).

NEWS: New Zealand records on Ancestry.co.uk

9 Feb

Ancestry.co.uk have just released 20 million records from New Zealand. The collection is known as the Anne Bromell Collection (after the woman who collated them) and covers a cross-section of records from 1842 to 1981.

I don’t know much about New Zealand family history research, but I do know that I am going to be doing some exploring of these records, especially he electoral rolls. Very few of my relations ever left England, but there is one relative in my family tree (a first cousin twice removed) by the name of James William GASSON who emigrated to Australia in 1928, but ultimately ended up in New Zealand.

The electoral rolls will be a great asset in trying to fill in some of the basic details of his life in New Zealand, as there seem precious few other records online.

NEWS: 1911 Census summary books on Ancestry.co.uk

9 Dec

You never know what you are going to find when you go poking about the Ancestry.co.uk, especially their Genealogy Databases Posted or Updated Recently page. Last night at the top of the list were entries for the 1911 Census summary books (Channel Islands, Isle of Man, England and Wales). Hopefully this marks the beginning of the promised release of the 1911 census on Ancestry.co.uk and The Genealogist.

I expect we will hear more about them in the next few days when they are officially announced. From what I have seen though they are nice crisp colour images of the pages, looking very similar to the Findmypast ones.

You might wonder why this is such good news, after all Findmypast.co.uk have had the images (both the household schedules and summary books) available for some time. For starters you never can have enough different indexes, just in case one of them is wrong, but more importantly (to me anyway) Ancestry.co.uk have made the summary books searchable for the first time (I think?).

Being able to search the summary books for the head of household has helped locate one of my “missing” families. Within about 10 minutes I had been able to locate the ANSCOMBE family in Cuckfield, Sussex, something which I had failed to do on using Findmypast alone, despite many previous attempts.

It wasn’t a straight-forward process, on Ancestry I searched for the surname ANSCOMBE in Cuckfield and found several likely households. After getting the schedule number from the summary book image and finding their neighbours on Findmypast, I was able to work out what the census reference should be for their household.

Searching on Findmypast using the census reference brought up a transcription without my ANSCOMBEs anywhere to be seen. I viewed the image and it all became clear, the cause of my inability to find them revealed.

The household schedule began with three individuals (a tutor and presumably two pupils), all described as boarders. Beneath them was a gap of two lines and then the six members of the ANSCOMBE family I had been looking for. For some reason they had not been indexed, just those first three unrelated individuals, no wonder I couldn’t find them.

I now need to find out how to report them missing to Findmypast, but this just goes to show the value of looking in multiple indexes. I am sure that once the household schedules are available on Ancestry that there will be similar examples of missing individuals, it is inevitable with any index of this size that there will be errors.

Sometimes all that is need is a little bit of teamwork (thank you Ancestry and Findmypast) and some creative thinking to get around a problem.

Ancestry.co.uk marking Remembrance Week with three new databases

9 Nov

Not content with allowing free access to three of their WW1 collections (British Army WW1 Service Records, British Army WW1 Pension Records and British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards) up to Sunday 14th November 2010, they have also released three new collections for tracing military ancestors and relatives, however these are not free to view.

All three collections relate to medals and awards:

Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949

These records list more than 2.3 million soldiers who were granted medals and awards in non-WWI or WWII campaigns, between 1793 and 1949.

Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972

The Naval medal rolls list more than 1.5 million officers, enlisted personnel and other individuals who served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines between 1793 and 1972. They cover a range of conflicts, including World War Two.

Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medals, 1914-1920

These records cover the Great War and feature almost 25,000 citations for recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) – Britain’s second highest military honour for non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

Find out more about these collections and the other military resources at the Ancestry.co.uk British Military Collection page.

Weekly English Family History News Update: Friday 15th October 2010

15 Oct

This is an experimental weekly blog post, summarising some of the week’s news that might be of interest to family historians and genealogists with an interest in English research.

[Ancestry.co.uk] London Parish Registers now fully indexed

Ancestry.co.uk (in association with the London Metropolitan Archives) have completed the indexing of their London Parish Registers Collection. Previously only entries from 1813 (for baptisms and burials) and 1754 (for marriages) had been indexed, but now the index extends back to the earliest parish registers, which in theory started in 1538.

- Find out more on the Ancestry.co.uk website.

[Findmypast.co.uk] 7,000 extra Chelsea Pensioners records added

Findmypast.co.uk have further extended their collection of Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913. This addition consist of 7,247 records (44,130 separate images) from the period 1801 to 1912, from the National Archives series WO97.

- Find out more on the Findmypast.com website.

[Online databases] Parish Register Transcription Society makes selected transcriptions available online

(With thanks to Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter for bringing this to my attention)

The Parish Register Transcription Society have made available selected transcriptions from their catalogue via the Frontis archive publishing system, using a system of pay per view credits. These transcriptions are also available on CD, but this new system will make it more cost effective if your ancestors didn’t stay in the same place for long.

- Find out more on the Parish Register Transcription Society Data Archive website

Share Your News

If you have any news, events or products that would be of interest to English family history researchers then please send an email with details to wanderinggenealogist@gmail.com.

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