Last week was a good week, for once I think I accomplished pretty much everything that I had set out to achieve. Admittedly I had set my goals pretty low, but if that is what it takes then so be it.
It was mostly a week of scanning. At long last the four wills that I received several weeks ago have been scanned, along with all the newspaper articles from last weekend and the weekend before. I am really pleased to have got them all captured digitally at last.
I haven’t thrown away the originals of the newspaper articles yet, because I haven’t quite finished transcribing them all, but this week I will get them finished and bin the paper copies. Then I can make a start on transcribing the wills, but because I paid good money for those I won’t be getting rid of the paper copies any time soon. I didn’t attempt to scan any bits of the large Ordnance Survey maps that I bought from the West Sussex Record Office, but I might give that a try this week.
I am not sure what else I am going to do this week, I think I might have a bit of a look around and see what other pieces of paper I have that need scanning and transcribing. I also need to have a look in my “current projects” folder, most of the projects are no longer current, they still need completing but I don’t know when I will get around to it, so I might as well have a bit of a purge and see what I need to keep and what I can throw away.
Last week was a good week. I managed to get quite a bit of work done, discovered a couple of other stories to follow up and best of all, the four will copies arrived in the post on Thursday.
Having written about the delays with the issuing of copies of wills, the four wills I had ordered towards the end of August have arrived. I haven’t studied them in great detail yet, but like I suspected there doesn’t appear to be any major revelations contained within them. This week I have to get them scanned and transcribed and see what information I can extract from them.
Most of my work has has been focused on the BOXALL family of West Dean, and I have made good progress on tracing the six BOXALLs on the West Dean war memorial, although two of them are proving rather tricky to track down. The other four are definitely related to me, but this week I need to try and pin down the final two.
I now also want to investigate the story that James and Caroline BOXALL, my 2x great-grandparents, had 27 children. I only have details of 12 children and the 1911 census records that they had 13 "Children Born Alive", but four had died. I am going to have to do some careful analysis of some baptism and burial records and birth and death registration indexes, to see if I can identify any of the missing children.
I need to spend some time looking in local newspapers, possibly for birth announcements, but more likely for obituaries of James and Caroline and also for their wedding anniversaries. I also need to check the local newspapers for a mention of the six BOXALLs on the war memorial, and of course any mention of the dedication of the war memorial itself.
My hope is to visit Chichester next weekend and spend several hours on a microfilm reader and in the archives. So this week I need to create a list of dates and subjects to look up in preparation for my visit. I also want get the four wills scanned, although I don’t think I will have time to get them all transcribed during the week, whilst I am scanning them I need to scan the latest batch of postcards as well.
Thanks to John D Reid of the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog for pointing out the following notice on the HM Courts Service website:
Due to a significant increase in the volume of search requests there is currently a delay in the processing of search applications at York Probate Sub Registry. We are taking steps to rectify this and apologise for any inconvenience this delay may cause. Information regarding the length of time we are currently taking to process applications is given on an automated message on the telephone number 01904 666778.
I tried calling the number yesterday and the message says they are currently processing applications from the 27th August, which is still a couple of weeks before my cheque was cashed. I have been patiently waiting for several weeks already, so I guess I have a few more weeks to wait.
Of course this is all down to the release of the National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk back in August this year. I commented at the time that “I only hope the Probate Registry can cope with the increased demand for copies of wills this release is almost certainly going to create.”
Well I guess they weren’t prepared for the increased demand, much like the GRO weren’t prepared when Who Do You Think You Are? was screened and family history took off in a big way. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long and the steps they are taking will soon get things back on track.
The recently released National Probate Calendar on Ancestry.co.uk has tempted me into ordering copies of four wills, three of which I wouldn’t have even thought about ordering for a long time, the other one I probably would have ordered in the near future.
I don’t think any of these four wills are actually going to solve any particular research problems, but they should hopefully satisfy my curiosity.
- John FAIRS (my 3x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in November 1915. John FAIRS was an agricultural labourer and if the cross on his daughter’s wedding certificate is anything to go by he was not well educated. So why was his estate valued at over £982? Where had this wealth come from?
- William TROWER (my 4x great-grandfather) of Henfield, Sussex who died in January 1875. William TROWER was a farmer, almost the last of several generations to farm and live at Harwoods Farm in Henfield. I will be interested to see if the TROWER family were still owners of the farm.
- Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) of Blackboys, Sussex who died in January 1914. Henry HEMSLEY was the licensee and owner of the Gun Inn, and the attached farm. This is the will I would probably have ordered quite soon, in the process of trying to find out everything I can about the inn.
- Henry WRIGHT (my 3x great-grandfather) of Alton, Hampshire who died in August 1895. Henry WRIGHT was originally known as Henry SHORNDEN and he moved from Kent to Hampshire for some reason, I don’t really expect find answers as to why he changed his named and moved to Kent, but I would like to find out as much as I can about his life.
If nothing else these wills are going to give me plenty of work to do as I process this lot, but it is also going to force me to get my act together when it comes to recording all the details in my database, in fact it might be worth starting now and deciding how all the information should be recorded.
Whilst I am waiting for them to arrive I should probably also write a post on how to order copies of wills, and how easy it is if you live in the UK and have a cheque book, otherwise things start getting a little more difficult.
Ancestry.co.uk have released another exciting record collection on their UK site. The National Probate Calendar serves as an index to wills proved and administrations granted after 1858 and although the database is not complete yet it is still going to be a major boost for UK researchers.
Even though the calendar is only an index it does provide a great deal of information on the deceased. They may not look much, but those few brief lines can tell you a lot about the deceased, take for example the entry for my 3x great-grandfather John FAIRS:
FAIRS John of 6 Park-road Henfield Sussex agricultural labourer died 27 November 1915 Probate Chichester 11 December to George Shepherd private 4th Royal Sussex regiment. Effects £982 19s. 2d.
There is so much information there. Name, address, occupation, date of death, where and when probate was granted and to whom (his son-in-law) and their occupation. Also how much the estate was worth, hopefully dispelling the myth that a humble agricultural labourer would have nothing of value to leave in a will.
Details will vary, but these index entries will often help fill in details or clarify research. In the example above, I had no idea that George SHEPHERD was serving in the 4th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, that fact should help me identify him amongst dozens of George SHEPHERDs who also served during WW1.
These records have been available previously in selected locations (I have previously accessed them on microfiche at the West Sussex Record Office), but genealogist have been waiting a long time for them to be available online. I only hope the Probate Registry can cope with the increased demand for copies of wills this release is almost certainly going to create.