Book Review: Tracing Your Naval Ancestors – A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Fowler

Review of Tracing Your Naval Ancestors by Simon Fowler ISBN 978 1 84884 625 8

Tracing Your Naval Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Fowler

Tracing Your Naval Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians. By Simon Fowler. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK. www.pen-and-sword.co.uk. ₤12.99. US Distributor: Casemate Publishing, 1016 Warrior Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026. www.casemateathena.com. US$24.95. Australian Distributor: Gould Genealogy & History, PO Box 119, St. Agnes SA 5097. www.gould.com.au. AUS$34.95. 2011. xi, 186 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Even the author admits that researching a Royal Naval ancestor can be intimidating, especially in comparison to working with the records of the British Army or the Royal Air Force. Yet, Fowler provides a clear guide on how to use and access these records found in numerous repositories around the British Isles. The bulk of the records are found at The National Archives at Kew, and he recognizes that Tracing Your Naval Ancestors by Bruno Pappalardo will be needed to fully use this repository but it is the identification of resources in other locations, including the internet, that makes this a valuable addition for Royal Navy research.

The book begins by providing a short introduction on how to get started in your research, emphasizing which common generally utilized records may provide indications of a career in the Royal Navy. Records of officers and ratings can be located back to 1660, with a higher rate of success than is likely to be found with the land forces. The discussion for officers and ratings are different and thus separated into two chapters, yet these chapters appropriately cover the whole period up to 1914. A separate chapter addresses all levels of the service after 1914. Additional chapters address the: auxiliary services (of which there are many) and the coastguard; care of the sick and wounded; the Royal Marines; researching ships; and HM Dockyards. Appendices identify: the large number of different naval ratings, how they compare with one another as they existed in 1853; documents now held by the Fleet Air Arm Museum; how to access merchant navy records (since many Royal Navy personnel also served on these ships); jackspeak, the language of the navy; useful addresses; and bibliography.

There are many records to use for naval research, varying depending upon the time period. This book gets you into these voluminous records, explains well what they contain and is well illustrated. It is also up to date highlighting which records are online, and there are many.

This book would make a fine addition to a personal or genealogical library for anyone interested in Royal Naval ancestors, British military and any British Isles reference collection because of the sheer number of families with maritime ancestors.

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Buried Treasure: what’s in the English Parish Chest – new publication by Paul Milner

Buried Treasures - what's in the English Parish Chest - Paul Milner author genealogist

Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest – new book by Paul Milner from Unlockthepast Publications.

Buried Treasure – What’s in the English Parish Chest is fresh off the presses and is being released at the Rootstech / Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference this week in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is available for purchase at Maia’s Books and can also be viewed at the UnlockthePast Booth.

Buried Treasure – What’s in the English Parish Chest examines all the records created by parish officials for the civil and religious administration of the English parish, except the baptism, marriage and burials records described so well in the companion volume – Discover English parish registers.

Records surviving in the parish chest will often solve your brick wall problems, including: “Where did my ancestor come from before here?” or “Who is the father of that illegitimate child?” In this detailed guide, family historian Paul Milner explains how and why the records were created, how changing laws affected who was and was not included, what the records look like and what information they contain. After showing examples of numerous records, the guide explains how and where to access the records, (online, microfilm, originals or in print).

Here is a practical guide that will help family researchers solve their problems, and put them into historical context. This small volume is full of material for both the beginner and the experienced researcher. It is a well-illustrated guide to the contents of the English parish chest that allows any researcher to go way beyond the baptism, marriage and burial registers commonly used for parish research.

The book will be available soon in Australia from UnlockthePast, in Canada from Global Genealogy, in the US from Maia’s Books and in the UK from My History.

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Spring 2015 Speaking Events

pce 16 1 croppedSpring 2015 Schedule of Speaking Events

I often get asked when and where can I come and hear you speak. This spring I get to speak in a number of different locations in northern Illinois, but also in Missouri and Canberra, Australia. Come and join me if you can and if you already read my blog please do introduce yourself.

 15 Jan. 2015 – Town and Country Public Library, 320 E. North Street, Elburn, IL . For more Info.

  • A New Location: Steps for Quickly Getting Started

17 Jan. 2015 – Cary Area Library, 1606 Three Oaks Road, Cary, IL . For more Info.

  • A New Location: Steps for Quickly Getting Started

7 Mar. 2015 – Midwest Genealogy Center, 3440 S. Lee’s. Summit Road, Independence, MO. For More Info.

  • Finding Your English Ancestors: The Big Four
  • Finding Your Scottish Ancestors: The Big Five
  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  • Are You Lost: Using Maps, Gazetteers and Directories for British Isles Research

16 Mar. 2015 – Zion Genealogical Society of Lake County, IL, Beach Park Village Hall, 11270 W. Wadsworth, Beach Park, IL   For more Info. (A Reschedule)

  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland

26-30 Mar. 2015. – 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry – Canberra, Australia. For More Info.

  • Scotland – Maps and Gazetteers for Research
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Pre-WWI British Soldiers
  • Digging for Gold – Locating British Miners and their Records
  • Genealogical Lecturing Skills (lunchtime talk)

14 May 2015 – McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society,  Pointe Outreach Center, 5650 Northwest Hwy, Crystal Lake, IL  For More Info.

  • Finding Your English Ancestors: The Big Four

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Genealogy and DNA: King Richard III case study

Portrait of King Richard III

Portrait of King Richard III

Identification of the Remains of King Richard III using Genealogy and DNA

Today a detailed paper with all supporting documentation and analysis has been released proving that Skeleton 1 found in 2012 under a parking lot in Leicester, England was indeed the remains of King Richard III. The king was buried in 1485 following his death at the Battle of Bosworth. He was the last king killed in battle.  The solution to the problem lay in tracing the mtDNA through the female lines from his sister, as there are no known male descendants of King Richard III. In many ways since this is a descent from Royalty it was relatively easy to trace even with the name change in every intervening generation.

There is the primary article that should be read, there were a couple of places it got a little technical but generally it is understandable. You should also read the supporting documentation analyzing the DNA results and then look at the 19 generations of genealogy, direct lines only. The foot notes provide a great source list for anyone doing medieval or early modern research. What was also fascinating was the reconstruction of the contemporaries of Richard III to make sure that there were no other possible contenders for a DNA match among his peers who might have been at Bosworth, or might have died in that period, and there were not.

Read the full article published online today in Nature.

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Remembrance Sunday – Soldiers Who Died in World War One

John Finnigan (Finnegan) C Company 11th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Wounded 1 July 1916 near Thiepval. DIed 10 July 1916 on Hospital ship returning to ENgland. Buried in Elswick Cemetery Newcastle upon Tyne Northumberland.

Private John Finnigan, C Company of the 11th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wounded on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, died 10 July 1916 on the hospital ship returning to England

Today is Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November each year. It is the day originally to remember all those who died in World War One.

Following is a list of my own relatives on my family tree who I know to have been killed during World War One. I would like to remember these brave soldiers. I have many others who served during the war but who survived.

Finnegan, Robert – Corporal in 11th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Died 1 Jul 1916 – First day of the Battle of the Somme. Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial (Memorial to the Missing on the Somme)
Finnigan, John – Private “C” Copy, 11th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Wounded 1 Jul 1916 – First day of the Battle of the Somme, died 10 Jul 1916 on hospital ship returning to England. Buried Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (St. John’s Westgate and Elswick) Cemetery, Northumberland.
Finnigan, William – Lance Corporal in 8th Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own). Died 26 Jul 1918 and Buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen
Croudace, John – Private in 12th/13th Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers. Died 21 Mar 1918. Commemorated on Pozieres Memorial (Somme Battlefield, 6 km. north of Albert)
Crowhurst, Bertie Walter – Private in 2nd Bn. Dorsetshire Regiment. Died 18 Mar. 1916. Buried in Kut War Cemetery (modern day Iraq)
Hayes, Herbert – Sergeant in 178th Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery. Died 7 Jul. 1917. Buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium – 2nd largest Commonwealth Cemetery in Belgium)
Doran, William Henry – Private in 1st Bn. Border Regiment. Died 5 Jul. 1915. Buried in Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery (near village of Krithia, Turkey – Gallipoli battlefield)
Doran, Bernard – Private in 5th Bn. Border Regiment. Died 4th Feb. 1916. Buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium – 2nd largest Commonwealth Cemetery in Belgium)

Yes, if you have a connection to any of these soldiers I would like to hear from you.

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Unlock The Past 8th Genealogy Cruise to the Baltic Seaports

Saturday 11 July 2015 to Saturday 25 July 2015 Baltic Cruise

8th Unlock The Past Genealogy cruise from Southampton to the Baltic Seaports 11-25 July 2015.

Unlock The Past Cruise to the Baltic Seaports is scheduled and space is filling up. If you are interested check it out on the UnLock The Past website. I recently gave 24 different lectures, in three cities and I promoted the cruise at those venues.  Since returning I have had further inquiries so I thought it best to post a fresh reminder of where to find information and summarize the trip – some may say a trip of a lifetime – and you get to hear me again :-)  This is the companies 8th Genealogy Cruise – for 14 nights from Saturday 11 July 2015 to Saturday 25 July sailing from Southampton England to the Baltic Seaports aboard the Celebrity Eclipse, operated by Celebrity Cruises.

The key speakers are Paul Milner (myself, just in case you came here via a search engine and you missed who’s blog you are reading); Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List fame (http://cyndislist.com) from the United States; Carol Baxter, the History Detective, a great history writer from Australia (www.carolbaxter.com) ; and Chris Paton from Scotland who writes British GENES, a must-read blog for keeping up-to-date on the news from the genealogy world in the British Isles (http://britishgenes.blogspot.com). Other confirmed speakers include Rosemary and Eric Kopittke, Helen Smith, and Shauna Hicks from Australia; Daniel Horowitz from Israel; Dr. Janet Few, Caroline Gurney and Jane Taubman from England; and Carol Becker from the United States. The presentations in the program are still being worked out but you can see the outline. No matter your interests it will be a great conference and you will get to hear some of the best speakers in the world and have opportunities to learn from one another.

This cruise will offer over 100 topics offered in 50 sessions; special interest groups; Research Help Zone times offering one-on-one and small group opportunities with the experts; opportunities to purchase Unlock The Past and author publications; with visits to some of the world’s great cities along the way. There is also an additional signup bonus for those singing up by November 10 – see website for details. Please also note that much of the cabin block assigned for this conference is selling out fast, so if you are interested make contact soon.

From Southampton the cruise will sail to: Zeebrugge (Brussels) Belgium; Warnemunde, Germany; Muuga (Tallinn) Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and returning to Southampton.

To book the cruise or for more information check out Unlock The Past site at www.unlockthepastcruises.com/cruises/8th-unlock-the-past-cruise-baltic . If the schedule for this genealogy cruise does not meet your need, check out the upcoming Unlock The Past cruises sailing across the Atlantic; a European river cruise; or around Australia and New Zealand. There is certainly lots to choose from, and all are well organized conferences.

Come Join Us.

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Index to my Military Blog Posts

Captain Gavin Alexander Elmslie Argo of the Royal Army Medical Corp - 21st Field Ambulance

Captain Gavin Alexander Elmslie Argo of the Royal Army Medical Corp – 21st Field Ambulance – Image from Imperial War Museum Flickr account common license.

Index to my Military related Blog Posts – On Friday of this week I am doing a three-hour workshop on tracing your British Army ancestors at the British Isles Family History Society of Great Ottawa conference in Ottawa, Canada. In preparation for that I wanted to pull together an index for the blog postings I have had on the site so far dealing with British military resources and news. Most of the postings have focused this year on World War I, but there are additional items of military interest. Some of the posts explain in detail how to use  or interpret the results found in a military resource, some deal with a search process that by choice has a military example. The list is an index for blog postings so far.

1892 Attestation Form for William Henry Milner into Royal Artillery

1892 Attestation Form for William Henry Milner into Royal Artillery

World War One Soldier’s Documents

WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt1 Introduction
WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt 2 case study Albert William Alfred Milner
WWI Soldiers – Online records – pt3 case study William Henry Milner

Tracing Your Dead World War One Ancestors
Highlights how to trace your ancestors who did not survive the war, looking in detail at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission site, published lists in “Soldiers Died in the War”, and what the soldiers left behind (Scottish wills)
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 1 – case study John Croudace
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 2 – case study John and Robert Finnigan
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Grave Commission part 3 – advanced search fields
Searching “Soldiers Died in the Great War”
Scottish Military Wills – Tips for Searching, Using the Results and Workarounds
News Release: Historical Wills of Scottish Soldiers Go Online

World War One Related News Stories and calls for assistance
WWI: Operation War Diary – Your Help Wanted
WWI Centenary Preparations by Commonwealth War Grave Commission
News Release: Historical Wills of Scottish Soldiers Go Online
Guardian Newspaper publishes collection of Untold Stories of World War One
WWI Centenary: The Path that led from the Playing Fields to Flanders Fields
World War I Publications on Sale

Tracing Army Officers – Accessing the Army Lists, example is for pre-WWI
Digital Microfilm at TNA – changes coming – Army Lists as example

Boer War – large but incomplete index and how to understand what is in a dataset.
FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt. 3 – Search By Record Set

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler

Military Book Reviews
Book Review: Tracing your Army Ancestors. Second Edition. By Simon Fowler

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Searching “Soldiers Died in the Great War”

Search results from FindMyPast for John Crondace, who is really John Croudace private in Northumberland Fusiliers

Search results from FindMyPast for John Crondace, who is really John Croudace

Soldiers Died in the Great War and Officers Died in the Great War are two sources to use for those who died during the war, after one has done a search of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission site, explained in three earlier posts (part one for John Croudace – this same soldier, part two and part three).

Soldiers Died in the Great War consists of 80 parts, published in October 1921 by the War Office and printed by His Majesty’s Stationary Office. They have been reprinted by J.B. Hayward. They have been transcribed and issued on CD-Rom and are also available online, and I will return to this later. The original 80 parts cover all British Regiments, Artillery, Engineers, Machine Gun Corps, Service Corps, Labour Corps and miscellaneous units. The people not included in these volumes are the sea soldiers (Royal Marines, Royal Marine Light Infantry or the Royal Naval Division) or the airmen other than the officers of the Royal Flying Corp and those attached to the Royal Air Force.

Search results from Ancestry for John Crondace, actually John Croudace of the Northumberland Fusiliers

Search results from Ancestry for John Crondace, actually John Croudace

The part for each regiment is divided up into battalions with the casualties listed alphabetically by battalion, with the exception of the Worcester Regiment which arranges its section with all the A’s by battalion, followed by all the B’s by battalion.

The information listed includes: surname; first name(s); place of birth; place of enlistment; place of residence (in brackets); regimental number; rank; how died (d.=died; d. of w.=died of wounds; killed= accidentally killed; k. in a.=killed in action; d. at sea=died at sea).

Officers Killed in the Great War is the companion volume to Soldiers Died in the Great War and may give more details on how they died (e.g. as prisoner in German hands, killed by his bearer, murdered by tribesman, etc).

How to get results for John Croudace when there is a typo resulting in John Crondace

Search Screen on FindMyPast for John Crondace / Croudace using * to replace letters in search

Searching Online – can be carried out on both FindMyPast and Ancestry. The database on both sites is the Soldiers Died in the Great War, but it actually includes Officer Killed in the Great War. Both online indexes use the same dataset provided by Naval & Military Press Ltd, thus you are not likely to get any difference in results when searching on one site verses another.

Research Points
– Spelling errors – any printing errors in the original publications, such as in the example Crondace instead of Croudace, will be picked up in the online indexes.
– Casualties in Italy may be labelled as Italy or more likely to be labelled F&F (France & Flanders) so compare with burial site on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website.
– The lists commonly show France & Flanders but you need to check the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website to see if the soldier died in France or Flanders (Belgium).
– Most regiments only record death up to Armistice Day (11 November 1918) thus do not pick up soldiers who were dying of wounds received or who were still fighting in the later campaigns.
– Usually for soldiers only one regiment is identified and this is most likely the one in which he enlisted – which may be different from the one he was attached to when he died. With officers multiple regiments may be identified.
– The rank identified is the highest achieved overseas while on active service and may be a temporary rank.

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Early Registration for British Institute closes September 15

Header for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History from their website

Header for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History from their website

Early Registration Closes September 15 for the British Institute.

The 2014 British Institute to be held 20-24 October in Salt Lake City is organized by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.

This year’s speakers and topics are:

Scottish Research: The Fundamentals and Beyond by Paul Milner
Scottish laws, regulations and records are different from the rest of the British Isles, yet with enough similarities to create confusion for the unwary.  This course will address the fundamentals of all the major record groups, examining how to search the indexes, exploring what is and is not available online. Case studies will highlight the research and record evaluation processes to determine next steps. Individual consultations are available to assist each participant with their personal research.

Researching Your Irish Ancestors by David Rencher
This course is designed to help the student of Irish genealogical research, whether beginning or advanced. Strategies for establishing a sound beginning and building on that foundation using proven research techniques will be coupled with an understanding of what records sources are available online, on microfilm and in Ireland. Individual half-hour consultations are provided with the course coordinator to assist each participant with ways to extend their research.

Welsh Family History Made Simple by Darris Williams
Welsh family history is different from other localities in some significant ways. Those differences are not impossible roadblocks. Understanding the peculiarities is a good first step to success. Record knowledge is important but not the key. Understanding how to search, evaluate evidence and collate information will resolve many difficult research situations. This course will provide examples of problems, aw well as strategies and skills for learning more about your ancestors.

From Simple to Complex: Applying Genealogy’s Standards of Acceptability to British Research by Tom Jones
Through hands-on activities, lectures, and discussions, participants will learn how to use widely accepted standards to measure their genealogical work’s accuracy and to assess others’ genealogical conclusions. In the process they also will learn about genealogical research planning, its implementation, genealogical reasoning, and the preparation of credible genealogical products.

For speaker biographies, details on lodging and registration go to www.isbgfh.org

Yes, I am teaching the week long course on Scottish Research so do come join us.

 

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FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt. 3 – Search By Record Set

FindMyPast search for any record set for the Boer War - result Anglo-Boer War

FindMyPast search for any record set for the Boer War – result Anglo-Boer War

FindMyPast Search by Record Set

This is the third post in a series about how to search on FindMyPast.

One of the major reasons for the change in search design was the ability to add databases and images to the collection and to have a standardized way of searching everything at once. Selecting the A-Z of Record Sets brings up a complete current listing of datasets. This is certainly growing as FindMyPast is in the midst of adding 100 datasets in 100 days campaign. These vary in size greatly but can still be added quickly and efficiently.

The first task is narrow down the options. The first way is to define your region – World; United States; United Kingdom; Australia & New Zealand; and Ireland. Even after this search there still likely to be multiple pages to read through. You can read through the list, you can search on a type of record or you can type in a locality (such as the name of a county).

FindMyPast search results for Mosley in Anglo-Boer War Dataset.

FindMyPast search results for Mosley in Anglo-Boer War Dataset.

In this case study I want to highlight what you can learn about the records. Here I am going to select the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902. Selecting the database brings up a search screen, showing the fields on which you can search. This time I am going to search of the surname Mosley. I am looking for Henry Samuel Mosley who served in the Veterinary Corps and was awarded medals during the war.

There are 19 Mosley’s, but no Henry or Samuel and of note no one from the Veterinary Corps. Interestingly, doing what I suggested in the last post, selecting surname variants produces 126 hits. One of those hits is a H.G. Moseley of the Army Veterinary Department who is on Roll 230. This record is a transcript so the original would need to be sought and checked to see if this is a transcription error or not. There is no image of the originals for this collection.

Let’s return to the search screen where when we scroll down the page we find important information about this record set.

FindMyPast - look for the contents and explanation of the contents of the dataset below the search screen

FindMyPast – look for the contents and explanation of the contents of the dataset below the search screen

What can these records tell me? Certainly the first time into any new set of records you should read this. You may also find it useful to read again after you have worked with and become more familiar the record content as you are more likely to appreciate the subtleties of what the information provided is telling you.

In this case study we have drop down menus for: Learn more about these records; Sources used to compile the register; and Details about the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902. The specifics will vary depending upon the record set. For this case study let’s examine the details a little closer.

Learn more about these records: Tells us that the dataset contains 271,771 names, with a completely revised casualty list of 59,000 records. The transcripts may provide: first name; last name; service number; unit(s); rank; regiment; memorials; medals (roll reference and possibly clasp entitlement) honours and awards; literary references; casualties.

Sources used to compile the register: Here is a list of the various sources used to create this compiled dataset. Only with more research will you become familiar with the different sources and what they do or do not provide, which is especially important if you do or do not find the person you are seeking in this dataset. As with any research the probability is high that there are additional sources to be found.

Details about the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902: Here is explanatory information on the sources used to create the database and why it was compiled in the first place; why different and duplicate information can be found on the same soldier; why there are problems with place names and how they have been solved; why the database may change.

Useful Links and Resources: These links are to the upper right of the screen. In this case study it highlights the 1891 and 1901 census returns for England, obviously because many of the men included in the data set will be children or teenagers in the 1891 census, and may be absent, ready to leave, or have returned in time for the 1901 census.

Conclusion – Experiment with and practice with the different search options to find your ancestors. How you search should depend upon what information you are looking for. Importantly when you do find an ancestor, and probably more so when you don’t find an individual you are expecting to find in a given dataset, read the supporting descriptive material as it will explain what you have searched.

Good luck with your searching.

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