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First published in Great Britain in 2015 by

Pen & Sword Family History

an imprint of

Pen & Sword Books Ltd

47 Church Street

Barnsley

South Yorkshire

S70 2AS

Copyright © Jonathan Scott 2015

ISBN: 978 1 47383 799 7

PDF ISBN: 978 1 47387 417 6

EPUB ISBN: 978 1 47387 416 9

PRC ISBN: 978 1 47387 415 2

The right of Jonathan Scott to be identified as Author of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the Publisher in writing.

Typeset in 10pt Palatino by Mac Style Ltd, Bridlington, East Yorkshire

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‘Good gracious a Darracq!’ For Genevieve


CONTENTS

Introduction

Section 1

First Steps

 

1.1

Getting Started

 

1.2

GRO Indexes

 

1.3

The Census

 

1.4

Parish Registers

Section 2

Digging Deeper

 

2.1

Burial Records and Monumental Inscriptions (MIs)

 

2.2

Probate and Wills

 

2.3

Taxation

 

2.4

Election Records

 

2.5

Crime and Punishment

 

2.6

Court Records

 

2.7

Coroners’ Inquests

 

2.8

Poor Law and Workhouses

 

2.9

Schools and Universities

 

2.10

Directories

 

2.11

Newspapers

 

2.12

Migration

 

2.13

Overseas Research

 

2.14

Wales

 

2.15

Ireland

 

2.16

Scotland

 

2.17

Hospitals and Medicine

 

2.18

Catholic Records

 

2.19

Jewish Records

 

2.20

Nonconformist Records

 

2.21

Photographs and Films

 

2.22

Londoners

 

2.23

Maps

 

2.24

Estate Records

 

2.25

Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Sources

 

2.26

Slavery

 

2.27

Sports and Pastimes

Section 3

Military and Conflict

 

3.1

Army

 

3.2

Navy

 

3.3

Royal Air Force

 

3.4

Militia Men

 

3.5

Napoleonic Wars

 

3.6

Victorian Wars

 

3.7

Boer Wars

 

3.8

First World War

 

3.9

Second World War

 

3.10

POWs

 

3.11

Home Front

 

3.12

Medals

 

3.13

War Graves

Section 4

Occupations

 

4.1

Miners

 

4.2

Police

 

4.3

Railways

 

4.4

Agricultural Labourers (Ag Labs)

 

4.5

Merchant Navy

 

4.6

Fishermen and Whalers

 

4.7

Rural Craftsmen

 

4.8

Teachers

 

4.9

Textile Workers

 

4.10

Doctors and Nurses

 

4.11

Engineers and Manufacturing

 

4.12

Bankers

 

4.13

Lawyers

 

4.14

Clergy

 

4.15

Coastguard and Customs

 

4.16

East India Company

 

4.17

Brewers and Publicans

 

4.18

Entertainers

 

4.19

Other Occupations and Apprentices

Section 5

Miscellaneous

 

5.1

Resources by Region

 

5.2

Blogs and Forums

 

5.3

House History

 

5.4

Medieval Ancestors

 

5.5

Heraldry

 

5.6

Nobility and Gentry

 

5.7

Sharing Research

 

5.8

Social Networking

 

5.9

Software and Apps


INTRODUCTION

I’ve been writing about genealogical websites since the tail end of the 1990s. As the fresh-faced assistant editor at Family History Monthly, it was my duty to check and polish the ‘Web Wise’ column. This was always a highlight of the working week, as it meant going up to the third floor – the location of the one computer in the building with dial-up Internet access.

Today I have my very own computer, with which I continue to visit genealogical websites, from one-man labours of love to global behemoths. Over the years, the market leaders have taken on personalities for me. I see Ancestry as an eager know-it-all with all the latest gadgets. Genuki is a grand but faded uncle with a pencil moustache. The Genealogist is an intrepid explorer with obscure and surprising knowledge. My Heritage is a charming but overbearing American with a distressingly firm handshake. The National Archives is a raconteur, unaware of her beguiling beauty. And Family Search is a matronly aunt with an encyclopaedic memory.

To help you get the best from this cast of characters, and their lesser-known cousins, there’s a filing system at work in this book. Each chapter lists websites broadly in order of importance, interest and usefulness. The idea being that for those just starting their research into a particular branch or topic, this will lead them quickly to the best or most interesting resources. Then in the index at the back, all the websites appear again, often more than once, but listed this time alphabetically by title, content or subject.

Each entry runs as follows: title, address, description (if warranted).

In many cases the address and title tell the whole story, so further explanation is superfluous. Some have names and addresses that obviously relate to the subject of a chapter, but where this isn’t the case, more information has been added to the titles to make their relevance clear.

At other times the title I have chosen will be the content of a specific page, rather than the parent website. For example, perhaps we stumble upon a website called ‘Aunty Em’s Remembrances’, but within this we find a surname index to Argyll newspapers between 1869 and 1901. In such a case the website’s title is ‘Argyll newspaper index, 1869–1901’.

Finally, with sites that appear frequently, I list both the specific page and parent. So a National Archives guide to researching coalminers becomes: ‘Coalminers research guide, The National Archives’.

Fans of the old ‘www’ or ‘http’ prefixes may notice their absence from the majority of web addresses in this book. This is because most websites no longer need them to function properly. I have included them where required.

Web addresses change frequently. With so many websites listed, inevitably some will slip out of date. If you find a dead link, enter the title of the webpage, or the address itself, into your search engine of choice and hopefully you’ll find it soon enough. If the website has completely disappeared you can try typing the address into the Internet Archive’s ‘Wayback Machine’ (archive.org).

My only other piece of advice is this: make notes, either digital or physical. If you don’t leave a trail of breadcrumbs, sooner or later you’ll end up going round in circles.

I really hope you find this book useful. If you want to praise or complain you can find me on Twitter: @thejonoscott.


Section 1

FIRST STEPS

1.1  Getting Started

There’s lots of help and guidance for budding researchers. Key lessons that come up again and again include: ‘start from what you know’, ‘never assume’ and ‘write it down’. This chapter covers some of best ‘how to’ guides, plus the most useful starting points for first-steps research.

FamilySearch

familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Main_Page

The sheer wealth of information available through FamilySearch means that while the homepage is ever being simplified and streamlined, the experience can still feel overwhelming – especially if you have a common surname. For that reason I recommend a little background reading via the above Research Wiki. Then you can click on the homepage, register, and begin recording what you know; or you can go straight to search, and trawl the vast quantities of free census or parish data. There’s also this getting started page: familysearch.org/ask/gettingstarted.

The National Archives

nationalarchives.gov.uk

Click on Find Guidance > Looking for a Person, and you’re presented with the A-Z of TNA research guides. If you already know enough about your family to choose a relevant guide – such as an occupation perhaps – they’re a great route to quickly understanding what information you will need to confirm before you can find out more. There’s also the Start Here page (nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/start-here.htm), which details what they have/don’t have and what’s online/not online.

Why the Census is Helpful, Findmypast

findmypast.co.uk/content/expert-searching-census

All commercial websites have getting started guides – usually weighted towards persuading you to peruse their own collections or use their online tree builders. But there’s still useful information and guidance to be had – this Findmypast page is a clear and simple introduction to understanding the census.

UK BMD

ukbmd.org.uk

Excellent hub to online transcriptions of UK births, marriages, deaths and censuses, plus other indexes/transcriptions of parish material, wills, MIs, and so on. Click on Local BMD, for example, and there are links to all county websites offering online transcribed indexes to the original GRP records held by the local register offices.

ScotlandsPeople

scotlandspeople.gov.uk

Click the Help and Resources tab and choose Getting Started to read a tailored guide to Scottish research. The site itself hosts BMD indexes, parish records and census records, plus other material held by The National Archives of Scotland. Free to search with a pay-to-view download system.

FreeBMD

freebmd.org.uk

When starting out, it’s likely that you will be attempting to fix information about life events of the recent past. Step forward this project, which aims to transcribe the civil registration birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales from 1837, and provide them free online.

GOV.UK

gov.uk

Will tell you what you need to know about ordering copies of birth, death and marriage certificates. Unfortunately this only delays the inevitable moment when you will have to return to the actual GRO ordering service (gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp).

Federation of Family History Societies

ffhs.org.uk/really_useful_leaflet.pdf

This link takes you to the 2014 edition of the Federation’s getting started PDF guide, Our Really Useful Information Leaflet. It has a host of links and there’s also a directory of member societies – information also available from the FFHS homepage.

Free UK Genealogy

freeukgenealogy.org.uk

Parent website of the aforementioned FreeBMD and its sister initiatives: freereg.org.uk (free baptism, marriage and burial records from parish/nonconformist registers); and freecen.org.uk (free census information from the years 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891).

Research Forms, FamilySearch

familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Research_Forms

Free printable forms to help you organize your work. These include pedigree charts in various formats, plus forms specifically designed for noting information from particular sources – such as census material.

Genealogy Software Compared, Wikipedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_genealogy_software

Simple article that compares the leading client-based genealogy programs on the market. A companion guide to web-based software is at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web-based_genealogy_software.

FamilyTree

family-tree.co.uk/category/free-guides

From FamilyTree’s mini-guides section, with bite-sized introductions to BMD records, parish registers, the census, online research, newspapers, trade directories and army records.

Genuki

genuki.org.uk/gs/

UK and Ireland Genealogy is a stalwart of genealogy online, and this is its starting out page. It may not look like much, but it’s got it where it counts.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

www.cwgc.org

The Debt of Honour Register is a database of individuals who died during both world wars. It also has details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died in the Second World War.

Society of Genealogists

sog.org.uk/learn/help-getting-started-with-genealogy/

SoG guides to various common sources and records, which explain their context and use, plus dates covered, indexes, finding aids and more.

UK GDL

ukgdl.org.uk

Genealogical Directories and Lists on the Internet provides links to all kinds of sites providing online databases, indexes and finding aids.

Forebears

forebears.co.uk/england

Attractive federated search hub launched in 2012, through which you can search datasets held by various commercial websites.

Cyndi’s List

cyndislist.com/free-stuff/getting-started/

Explore getting started tools and advice as listed on the leading genealogical links site.

Get Started, BBC Guide

bbc.co.uk/history/familyhistory/get_started/

Concise introduction from a mothballed section of BBC History.

UK MFH

ukmfh.org.uk

Links site which brings together online databases and finding aids for military research.

Rootsweb

rootsweb.ancestry.com

An immense genealogical cooperative.

Getting Started, Ancestry

ancestry.co.uk/cs/uk/gettingstarted

British Genealogy Network

britishgenealogy.net

About.com, Genealogy

genealogy.about.com

Federation of Family History Societies

ffhs.org.uk

Getting Started, PRONI

www.proni.gov.uk/index/family_history/family_history_getting_started.htm

Archives for Family History, Archives Wales

archiveswales.org.uk/using-archives/archives-for-family-history/

GenesReunited

genesreunited.co.uk/contents/familyhistorygettingstarted

TheGenealogist

thegenealogist.co.uk

Getting Started: Genetics for the Genealogist

genealogyblog.com/?p=33208

To Pay or Not To Pay? A Guide to Choosing Genealogy Sites on the Internet

bbc.co.uk/history/familyhistory/get_started/paying_for_research_01.shtml

A Gentle Introduction to GEDCOM

tamurajones.net/AGentleIntroductionToGEDCOM.xhtml

Guide to Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources

lib.umd.edu/tl/guides/primary-sources

MyHeritage

myheritage.com

FamilyRelatives

familyrelatives.com

Deceased Online

deceasedonline.com

192.com

192.com

1.2  GRO Indexes

You’ve gathered together family papers, interviewed family members, and pencilled dates into a tree. Now it’s time to start checking your facts through the GRO (General Register Office) registers. Civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths has been in place in Scotland since 1855, and in England and Wales since 1837. The civil registration indexes are generally referred to as GRO indexes.

ScotlandsPeople

scotlandspeople.gov.uk

Gives access to official records of births, marriages and deaths in Scotland – starting in January 1855 when civil registration replaced the old system of registration by parishes of the Church of Scotland. The statutory births index, for example, contains the indexes to civil registers from 1855 until 2012 (images of births from 1855 to 1913 are available to view). Click Births, Marriages or Deaths from the top-left of the homepage to find out more about the history of the system and the kind of data recorded – all three provided extra details in the first year, which proved too difficult to sustain in the long term.

FreeBMD

freebmd.org.uk

This is an ongoing project to transcribe the civil registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and provide them free. The system started in 1837 and is one of the most significant resources for genealogical research. You’ll find index information from that year up to 1983, but it’s not complete – you can check a breakdown page that shows progress by event and year.

UK BMD

ukbmd.org.uk/local_bmd

The Local BMD section has links to county websites offering online transcribed indexes to original GRO records held by the local register offices. Meanwhile at ukbmd.org.uk/gro_bmd there are links to websites offering online transcribed indexes based on the secondary data held by the General Register Office.

Certificate Ordering Service, GRO for England and Wales

gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/

Whatever index source you use, once you have the GRO reference number you can order a certificate online via the Certificate Ordering Service. If you don’t have the reference number you can still order a certificate, but it will take a little longer.

FamilySearch

familysearch.org/search/collection/2285341

FamilySearch includes the likes of this England and Wales Death Registration Index (1837–2007) courtesy of Findmypast. Again, to find out more, try the following Research Wiki page on civil registration in England (familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/England_Civil_Registration).

BMDIndex

bmdindex.co.uk

Most of the commercial players give access to the GRO indexes in some form or another, but this facility from TheGenealogist team scores over its rivals, partly because of its simple three-months-for-a-fiver access deal.

Camdex

camdex.org

An example of a useful regional facility, this one covers Cambridgeshire. The material is based on the original registers – not the transcribed versions held by the General Register Office.

National Records of Scotland

nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/birth-death-and-marriage-records/statutory-registers-of-births-deaths-and-marriages

Guide to the statutory registers of births, marriages and deaths in Scotland.

Irish Genealogy

irishgenealogy.ie

Indexes of Irish GRO BMD back to 1864 and non-Catholic marriages from 1845.

Isle of Wight FHS

isle-of-wight-fhs.co.uk/bmd/startbmd.htm

Registered births, marriages and deaths on the Isle of Wight (1837–2010). An example of the kind of local source you may find via: ukbmd.org.uk/gro_bmd.

Civil Registration, Genuki

genuki.org.uk/big/eng/civreg/

Guide to civil registration in England and Wales.

GRONI, General Register Office Northern Ireland

nidirect.gov.uk/family-history

Access to Northern Irish birth, marriage and death records online.

Heir Hunter

hha-bmd.com

Upload and share civil registration documents with fellow researchers.

Scotland BDM Exchange

sctbdm.com

1.3  The Census

You’ve found your relatives in the GRO indexes, now it’s time to read about them in the black-and-white snapshot of census night. Census returns open the door to new avenues of research. They allow you to find out about occupation, family, status, neighbourhood, community and more. This is where family history gets good.

Census, FamilySearch

familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/England_Census

FamilySearch has a complete free index and transcription of the 1881 census. It also has free indexes to the remaining released censuses (1841 to 1911) for England and Wales, although you will probably need to consult a subscription website to see the full transcription online. This particular wiki page gives details of what each census recorded, plus advice about interpreting, and links to many external sources.

UK BMD

ukbmd.org.uk

Use the side menu to navigate to the page which lists sites that provide online transcriptions of census material. This includes major subscription sites plus all kinds of county hubs and small-scale local databases, sometimes compiled by individuals focusing on single villages or streets.

1939 Register

1939register.co.uk

This soon-to-be released register of more than 40 million Britons alive on Friday, 29 September 1939, was compiled shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War and was used to issue identity cards and organize rationing. It is the only census-like record of the population between 1921 and 1951.

ScotlandsPeople

scotlandspeople.gov.uk

The site hosts census returns for Scotland from 1841 to 1911. It costs £7 to search the census indexes, which includes thirty page-credits for viewing images of the original enumerator’s pages. Images are in TIFF or JPEG format and cost five credits each.

TheGenealogist

thegenealogist.co.uk

Searches are conducted on a county basis using an address, placename, keyword, forename or surname; this requires a subscription of course, but you can volunteer to transcribe census records in exchange for search credits.

Census of Ireland 1901/1911

census.nationalarchives.ie

Search the censuses of Ireland from 1901 and 1911, and explore surviving fragments (and substitutes) for previous years, free of charge. All thirty-two counties (for 1901 and 1911) are searchable by all information categories.

Census Research Guide, The National Archives

nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/census-returns.htm

This is TNA’s general guide to the subject of census returns, which lists what you can learn and some of the official partner subscription websites where you can access the material.

FreeCEN

freecen.org.uk

Part of the freeukgenealogy.org.uk group of websites, FreeCEN provides partial census data from the years 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891. The focus at present is 1891.

The Census, Genuki

genuki.org.uk/big/eng/Census.html

Parts of this Genuki introduction are out of date, but it’s a rapid-fire explanation of the various available censuses, with links to both free data and subscription services.

1939 Register Service

hscic.gov.uk/register-service

You can request information about individuals recorded in the 1939 Register for England and Wales via this website.

Belfast Family History

belfastfamilyhistory.com/search.php

Search a database from the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns, by name or institution.

The 1911 Census

1911census.co.uk

Again includes a free searchable index. You can subscribe via Findmypast or buy credits.

Sheffield Indexers

sheffieldindexers.com/1841Census_Index.html

Complete index to the 1841 census of the region, containing 138,824 records.

Protestation Returns, Parliamentary Archives

www.parliament.uk/business/publications/parliamentary-archives/archives-highlights/familyhistory/sources/protestations/

Described as the closest we have to a census from 1642.

Findmypast

findmypast.co.uk

This site features 1841 to 1911 censuses indexed with images.

The 1901 census

1901censusonline.com

Contains a free searchable index.

UK Census Online

ukcensusonline.com

Has a useful FAQ page.

Ancestry

search.ancestry.co.uk/search/group/ukicen

Census Guide, Society of Genealogists

www.sog.org.uk/learn/help-getting-started-with-genealogy/guide-four

GenesReunited

genesreunited.co.uk

FamilyRelatives

familyrelatives.com

Census Finder

censusfinder.com

1.4  Parish Registers

Parish registers are the primary source for details of births, marriages and deaths prior to the start of the civil registration system. Information recorded within registers does vary, although the system was standardized in 1812. They were maintained by individual churches and the originals usually reside in local archives.

FamilySearch

familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/England_Church_Records

The LDS Church’s International Genealogical Index (IGI), a mass parish-level source, was first published as a computer file in 1973. It now sits alongside vast, ever-expanding indexes, transcriptions and collections of register images, which are sometimes linked to external commercial datasets. This wiki page introduces the subject of church records in England with a useful breakdown of online register images. There are similar guides relating to other parts of the UK.

Parish Registers, Ancestry

ancestry.co.uk/parish

This is the Parish Registers landing page where you can read general background information about parish sources, and latest additions to Ancestry’s vast parish collections, through partner organizations such as the London Metropolitan Archives, and other archives and societies in Dorset, Kent, Lancashire, London, Surrey, Warwickshire and Yorkshire.

FreeREG

freereg.org.uk

The FreeREG database is a volunteer-led drive to provide free online searches of transcribed parish and nonconformist registers. It is constantly growing and updating, so it’s definitely worth checking back regularly. If you wish to help, the team are always looking for more volunteers.

ScotlandsPeople

scotlandspeople.gov.uk

From the left-hand column of the homepage you can click Old Parish Registers or Catholic Registers, leading to subdivisions of different life events. It costs £7 to search the registers, which also gives you thirty page-credits (viewing records costs five credits per image).

Essex Ancestors

seax.essexcc.gov.uk/EssexAncestors.aspx

The official Essex Record Office gateway to various sources, including parish registers. You can select parish names and see what material is available and in which format. Where images are available you can register and buy a subscription – from one day (£5) to one year (£85).

Register Copies and Transcripts Guide, Society of Genealogists

sog.org.uk/learn/help-getting-started-with-genealogy/guide-six

This is the excellent SoG guide to parish registers. The SoG itself looks after a huge collection of register copies and transcripts, and you explore material available through Data Online (at sog.ourarchives.info/bin/recordslist.php).