Book Review: Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Wills.

Review of Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors

Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Wills

Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians. By Simon Wills. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK www.pen-and-sword.co.uk. US Distributor: CasemateIPM 908 Darby Road, Havertown PA 19083. www.casemateipm.com. 2012. x, 180 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover $29.95

Pen & Sword continues its excellent Family History book series with this guide to researching your Merchant Navy ancestors, a common occupation for many British ancestors, yet they can be difficult to trace. This guide book puts your ancestors into social context and provides guidance on where to find specifics on the men, and the ships on which they sailed.

The book is divided into nine chapters: Britain’s Merchant Fleet; life in the Merchant Service; finding and following a ship; tracing seamen and non-officers; captains and other officers; disaster and bravery; Merchant Navy in wartime; places to visit; case histories.

The book is full of fascinating helpful facts that put your ancestors and the research issues into context. For example, in 1899 there are 10,998 British-registered steam and sailing ships over 100 tons, dwarfing the closest rival the USA which had only 2,739 seagoing ships, while other countries went down from there. The ships are also not necessarily where you might expect them to be for in 1835 a list of the top ten ports where ships are registered includes, not surprisingly in the number one position London with 2,663 ships, Newcastle in number two with 987 ships, but how about Whitehaven, Cumbria in the number 7 slot with 496 ships, and Southampton a well- known port does not make the list.

One of the keys to Merchant Navy research is understanding where and when your ancestor was likely to have been as sea. The records, and thus where and how to search vary greatly by time period. In additional many of the record collections have been broken up and disseminated to archives scatted around the British Isles, with a large collection to the Maritime History Archive at the University of Newfoundland. Luckily the book does provide suggestions on when the records are centrally located, plus where and how to search when they are not.

The book is not just for those who served as ships masters, mates and seamen, but also includes all the other occupations you may find at sea such as carpenters, cooks, donkeymen, engineers, firemen, greasers, gunners, medical officers, pursers, stewards, storekeepers, telegraphers, and trimmers. The role of women is also highlighted.

Each chapter has numerous illustrations of ships, crew and the documents they used or those created by officials. There are numerous finding aids, and references suggested and where you may also find material online the web addresses are provided. I was actually surprised at how much may now be online, making the search process from outside the British Isles a little easier.

If you have Merchant Navy ancestors you will certainly want to have a look at this up to date research guide.

 

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Book Review: The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Websites You Can’t Do Without by Jonathan Scott

The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Sites You Can't Do Without by Jonathan Scott

The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Sites You Can’t Do Without by Jonathan Scott

The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Websites You Can’t Do Without.  By Jonathan Scott. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK www.pen-and-sword.co.uk. ₤14.99. US Distributor: CasemateIPM 908 Darby Road, Havertown PA 19083. www.casemateipm.com. 2015. viii, 245 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover $24.95

Mr. Scott comes to the task as a freelance writer, former deputy editor of Family History Monthly, and writer, since 2007 of the ‘Best websites’ column for the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. He is therefore used to finding and evaluating genealogy websites with the depth and breadth of experience clearly showing.

The introduction to the book explains the filing system at work in the 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 of 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.” (p.vii)

The book is divided into five sections. The first section identifies websites for getting started in genealogy addressing the fundamentals such as civil registration, census and parish registers. The second and longest section, entitled digging deeper, takes you into all sorts of record groups: burial records and monumental inscriptions; probate and wills; taxation; election records; crime and punishment; court records; coroner’s inquest; poor law and workhouses; schools; directories; newspapers; migration; overseas research; Wales; Ireland; Scotland; hospitals and medicine; catholic records; Jewish records; nonconformist records; photographs and films; Londoners; maps; estate records; seventeenth and eighteenth century sources; slavery; sports and pastimes. The third section examines websites for military and conflict, addressing each of the services, as well as examining specific conflicts and time periods. The fourth section addresses occupations with nineteen different categories with the last being a catch all for other occupations and apprentices. You will likely find multiple sites here for your occupation of interest. The final section covers miscellaneous sites identifying: resources by region; blogs and forums; house history; medieval ancestors; heraldry; nobility and gentry; sharing research; social networking; plus software and apps.

For each entry it provides a title; address and a brief description if warranted, and often one is needed, which just adds to the value of the listing.

While I was reading this book I found myself marking those sites that I had never heard of and wanted to go and check out, or ones that I had not visited in a while and I wanted to remind myself to have a fresh look. All the time I was thinking will this provide something new for my own research? The result was a book with a surprisingly large number of marks of sites I need to check out. I am working through the marks as time allows and finding all sorts of additional information.

Most people are unlikely to read this book from cover to cover. Rather it is a tool to aid you in your research. It is one to be dipped into to solve a problem or to specifically look for new websites. In that sense it is a goldmine of leads for British research. I can highly recommend it. Yes, some of the websites will become obsolete, so you can use the wayback machine at archive.org. You will also still need your favorite search engine as new websites will be created. In the meantime, get this book.

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Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success – 4 Webinars

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success - 4 webinars recorded at Fountaindale Public Library on 16 March 2016 with speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success – 4 webinars recorded at Fountaindale Public Library on 16 March 2016 with speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success is the title of 4 excellent webinars recorded on Wednesday March 16 at Fountaindale Public Library in Illinois. The speakers were Finlan Mullan and Gillian Hunt from the Ulster Historical Foundation who spoke with clear understandable Irish brogues. They were both a fountain of knowledge gained from practical experience and this came through clearly in the tightly packed presentations. The webinars did keep the speakers on schedule as there was a definite sense that they had more that they could have shared. I attended in person but I have looked at segments of the webinars again since getting home.

Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success (4 Webinars)
• Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research parts 1 and 2
• Using Land Records: Griffith’s Valuation, Tithe and Estate Records
• Census Substitutes and other important sources for Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, plus records related to different churches in Ireland
• Sources for Finding Seventeenth Century Families in Ireland

The webinars can be accessed for 30 days from the date of recording. You can find the webinars in Fountaindale Genealogy Blog posting for February 24, 2016. The YouTube videos have been inserted into the blog posting. On the same page you will find a number of practical downloadable print resources provided by PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), NAI (National Archives of Ireland), NLI (National Library of Ireland) and the UHF (Ulster Historical Foundation). I especially liked the two timelines that are provided, but there are hundreds of pages of material here saving you the time and effort of searching for them.

There is material here for the beginner, but there also a lot here for the experienced researcher. I have been lecturing on Irish research for many years but there were still documents shown I had not seen before and the session on 17th century sources helped to clarify this complicated period in Irish history. It also showed the wealth of material that is actually available for the period. Now if only we could get all our Irish lines back that far.

Have a look at these excellent webinars with lots of valuable practical information, but remember they are only online for 30 days.

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Book Review: Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton

Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton, published by UnlockThePast

Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton, published by UnlockThePast

Discover Irish Land Records. By Chris Paton. Published by UnlockThePast Publications, PO Box 119, St Agnes SA 5097, Australia. www.gould.com.au/Unlock-the-Past-guides-s/2576.htm. AUS $17.00. Available as an e-book from http://www.gen-ebooks.com, AUS $9.05. Available in North America from www.globalgenealogy.com CAN$19. Available in the UK from www.myhistory.co.uk. ₤7.50. 2015. 60 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Mr. Paton succeeds very nicely in his stated purpose which is to introduce the reader to some of the basic land records available online and offline, and to outline how they may be used for genealogical research.

The book is divided into five chapters. The first gives a brief overview of the troubled history of Ireland from the Gaels, Vikings and Old English, up through the partition of Ireland in May of 1921, highlighting the impact events had on land ownership. The second chapter addresses boundaries and administrations which are a necessity to understand for different jurisdictions govern how different records are organized. You get the usual explanation of provinces, counties, baronies and civil parish, but you also get descriptions of lessor know jurisdictions such as manors, demesnes, boroughs, district electoral divisions and registrations districts. The differences between English and Irish acres (or Plantation acres) are explained here.

Starting with chapter three the book gets into the records themselves focusing on where the people were examining vital records, decennial censuses, census substitutes, directories, electoral records and newspapers. Chapter four moves into records of tenancy, ownership and valuation and this is where along with the familiar, lessor known records will be found. The chapter covers estate records, leases, rentals, quit rents and ground rents, estate maps, probate records, land registration, the Down Survey, tithe and valuation records. The final chapter encourages the researcher to discover what a place looks like and how it has changed over time by examining the Irish historic town atlas, the ordnance survey maps and memoirs, along with gazetteers, journals and parish histories.

Chris, as usual has provided the researcher with an up to date practical guide for doing Irish land research. He explains how to find the records, both for the North and South, online and offline. What stands out are the record examples, usually from his own research in the North, for they illustrate well why you should go looking for your ancestors in these records. The examples include transcripts from: eighteenth century newspaper advertisements for sale of a family property; a nineteenth century lease agreement for a small plot of land describing fees and obligations; a lease for multiple lives showing how they changed over time; rental agreements showing changes in fortune and ownership; and tithe payments that change through Griffiths and the valuation books. The suggestions and ideas in this book will keep your Irish research going for a while and will likely take you into records you have not explored before. It is highly recommended.

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Upcoming speaking events around the country

Paul Milner - Virtual Institute for Genealogy - the Big Four Records for English Research - English Census research - English Parish Register research - English probate research - English Church Records Research

Paul Milner – Presenter Par Excellence :-)

For the genealogists around the country who like to know where I am speaking here is my Upcoming schedule (outside the Chicago area – that list was posted a couple of weeks ago). Come and join me, a lot is changing in the world of British Isles genealogy.

5 Mar 2016 – Midwest Genealogy Center’s Spring 2016 Seminar at Stoney Creek Conference and Hotel Center, 18011 Bass Pro Drive, Independence MO. For more Info –

  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine
  • Irish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place
  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland
  • Irish Land Records

12 Mar 2016 – Dallas Genealogy Society Spring Seminar – “From Whence They Came” – 1st Floor Auditorium, J. Eric Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St., Dallas TX. For more Info Dallas 2016 Spring Seminar

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine
  • Scottish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Rebellions
  • Overlooked Sources for 17th and 18th Century English Research

2 Apr 2016 – St. Louis Genealogical Society 45th Annual Family History Conference – A Whole New World for Genealogists – Maryland Heights Centre, 2344 McKelvey Road, St. Louis, MO. For more Info St Louis Genealogical Society Conference

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  • Internet Tools and Sites for British Isles Research
  • Are You Lost: Using Maps, Gazetteers and Directories for British Isles Research
  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine

4-7 May 2016 – National Genealogical Society 2016  thirty-eight Family History Conference, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd,  Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For more Info NGS Conference

  • Are You Lost: Maps and Gazetteers for English and Welsh Research
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest

12-17 June 2016 – Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, Samford University, Birmingham, AL. Course 6: English Genealogical Research. Online Registration now open and filling IGHR Registration

  • English Context – History, Sources, Repositories & Processes
  • Find the Correct Place: Maps & Gazetteers
  • Civil Registration
  • English Internet – National Archives (lab)
  • English Internet – Free Sites (lab)
  • English Internet – Commercial Sites (lab)
  • Making Sense of the English Census
  • Church & Diocesan Records for Birth/Marriage/Death
  • Tips & Tools for Navigating the English Probate System
  • Parish Chest/Poor Law/Quarter Session Records I +II
  • Nonconformists & Recusants
  • Occupation, Guild, & Freeman Records
  • British Military I + II
  • England Land & Landscape Records
  • Sources for Landed & Titled People
  • Overlooked Sources: 17th & 18th Centuries
  • Overlooked Sources: 19th & 20th Centuries
  • Planning Your English Trip

31 Aug – 3 Sept 2016 – Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 Conference, Springfield IL

  • English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Pre-WWI British Soldier
  • 1914: Finding Your British WWI – – Dead or Alive

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Book Review: Irish Family History Resources Online. 2nd ed. by Chris Paton

Irish Family History Resources Online, 2nd ed. by Chris Paton

Irish Family History Resources Online, 2nd ed. by Chris Paton

Irish Family History Resources Online. 2nd ed. By Chris Paton. Published by UnlockThePast Publications, PO Box 119, St Agnes SA 5097, Australia. www.gould.com.au/Unlock-the-Past-guides-s/2576.htm. AUS $19.50. Available as an e-book from http://www.gen-ebooks.com, AUS $9.05. Available in North America from www.globalgenealogy.com CAN$21.50. Available in the UK from www.myhistory.co.uk. ₤9.00. 2015. 64 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Mr. Paton rightly points out that the Irish, north and south, have been dragging their feet when it comes to providing access to records to assist researchers in finding their ancestors. But that is all changing, and actually very rapidly as this book illustrates, with a revision of a book first published in 2011. Great strides have been made by the General Register Office in Northern Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland with their digital platforms, new websites have been created and sadly a few have disappeared.

The book is divided into five sections. The first, and largest, examines who are the Irish, specifically addressing: civil registration; the GRO Ireland indexes; church records; burial records; wills and probate; biographical databases and heraldry. The second focuses on where were they, covering: censuses; street directories; land records; maps and gazetteers. The third section examines archives and libraries: PRONI; National Archives of Ireland; National Library of Ireland; RASCAL (research and special collections available locally) and IAR (Irish archive resource). The fourth section highlights newspapers, books, journals and magazines. The final section of useful material covers: gateway sites; military, police and the law; emigration; miscellaneous sites of interest; and magazines.

There is a growing collection of Irish records coming online through the large international sites, especially FamilySearch (free); FindMyPast and Ancestry (commercial). These collections and all the major Irish sites are thoroughly discussed highlighting when it is better to use one site over another because of better, more flexible search engines, more extensive collections, or cheaper options. Often it is not clear what collections are on which site, for what time period. This book describes the collections, the periods they cover, and importantly explains how to drill down to the correct dataset. The advanced search options are explained along with how to interpret the results. A full section about a particular set of records needs to be read because another website may provide a more extensive set of results, or more details. The book is well illustrated with numerous screen shots.

The book is full of clear practical advice that will be of value to both the novice and seasoned Irish researcher because so many resources are coming online quickly. Even though this book is new (2015), major collections (e.g. Irish Catholic Parish Records) have still come online since it was published. The records that are already online and those that are coming online are changing how we do Irish research. If you are doing Irish research this guidebook will make your life easier providing guidance on accessing online Irish indexes and records through a growing variety of websites.

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Upcoming Speaking Events in the Chicago area

Paul Milner - Virtual Institute for Genealogy - the Big Four Records for English Research - English Census research - English Parish Register research - English probate research - English Church Records Research

Paul Milner – Presenter Par Excellence :-)

Upcoming Events for my followers in the Chicago area. Come and join me starting this coming weekend in Arlington Heights, IL

6 Feb 2016 – Northwest Suburban Genealogical Society, Arlington Heights IL. Meeting at Arlington Heights Senior Center, 1801 Central Road, Arlington Heights IL at 10:00 am. For more Northwest Suburban Genealogical Society Meeting Page.

  • Irish Emigration to North America: Before, During and After the Famine

9 Feb 2016 – Schaumburg Public Library, 130 S. Roselle Rd. Schaumburg IL at 7:30 pm. For more Schaumburg Public Library 2016 Program listing

  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland

11 Feb 2016 – Tinley Morraine Genealogists, meeting at Tinley Park Public Library, 7851 Timber Drive, Tinley Park IL. For more Info Tinley Morraine Genealogists meetings

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website

21 May 2016 – Ottawa Genealogy Forum, Otttawa IL

  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest

15 Aug 2016 – Zion Genealogical Society, IL

  • New Resources for British Isles Research

31 Aug – 3 Sept 2016 – Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 Conference, Springfield IL

  • English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Pre-WWI British Soldier
  • 1914: Finding Your British WWI – – Dead or Alive

I will add another post soon for my followers who are not in the Chicago area but still like to attend events where I am speaking.

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IGHR Registration opens Tuesday January 19. Attend my English research track.

IGHR - Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research logo sponsored by Samford University, Birmingham Alabama.

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research sponsored by Samford University Library, Birmingham Alabama.

Be Prepared! Registration opens January 19 for Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University.

Registration opens Tuesday January 19 at 11 am for the 2016 Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, to be held June 12-17, 2016, at Samford University in Birmingham Alabama. After nearly 50 years this is the last year the institute will be at this location so come experience the depth of intense genealogical learning and be a part of history. Courses can and do fill quickly so fast in fact that registration for specific courses is staggered, to prevent overloading of the system, and begins at 11 am Eastern time zone. The registration page is at http://samford.libguides.com/ighr/ighr-registration

I will be teaching Course 6: Tracing Your English Ancestors with the following proposed schedule, so hopefully this will spark interest among readers. The schedule is subject to change depending upon lab availability but all the topics will be covered. There are other courses definitely worth investigating if you have already attended this course.

Monday.
· 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Class Orientation/Introductions
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: English Context – History, Sources, Repositories & Processes
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: Find the Correct Place: Maps & Gazetteers
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Civil Registration
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: English Internet – National Archives & Free Sites (Lab)
Tuesday
· 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: English Internet – Free Sites (lab)
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: English Internet – Commercial Sites (lab)
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: Making Sense of the English Census
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Church & Diocesan Records for Birth/Marriage/Death
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Tips & Tools for Navigating the English Probate System
Wednesday
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: Parish Chest/Poor Law/Quarter Session Records I
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: Parish Chest/Poor Law/Quarter Session Records II
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Nonconformists & Recusants
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Occupation, Guild, & Freeman Records
Thursday
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: British Military I
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: British Military II
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: England Land & Landscape Records
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Sources for Landed & Titled People
Friday
· 8:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.: Overlooked Sources: 17th & 18th Centuries
· 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.: Overlooked Sources: 19th & 20th Centuries
· 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.: Planning Your English Trip

Come join us for an exciting week of learning. This comes with a reminder though that all classes can fill quickly, but waiting lists are also an option if you come to registration late. This is an exciting week so be prepared to register on Tuesday January 19.

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FindMyPast Discount for Thanksgiving

FindMyPast offering 75% off World subscription

FindMyPast offering 75% off World subscription

FindMyPast, at www.findmypast.com is offering a 75% discount off its annual World subscription rate. This brings the annual cost down to $49.87 a real bargain for access to lots of British material, along with all the US, Canadian and Australian records of course.

To take advantage of this offer use the code THNKSGNG15. The offer is valid until 11/30/2015 so if you were thinking of subscribing now would be a good time to try out. There is a constantly growing collection of British Isles related material here. Check it out.

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Release of 1939 Register for England and Wales

1939 Register symbol on FindMyPast

1939 Register symbol on FindMyPast

The recent release of the 1939 Register has brought fresh excitement to British researchers. This is one of the most important documents created for twentieth century British research, because the 1931 census was destroyed during the war, and the 1941 census was never taken. I was going to write earlier this week about this but I am glad that I did not as search techniques and results presented have changed. I will provide some background information, an introduction on how to search the records and some case studies.

Background information

In December 1938 it was announced that if Great Britain went to war then there would be a National Register. Following the declaration of war of 3 September 1939 the National Registration Day was set as 29 September 1939. For those who have seen the PBS show Home Fires this event was shown in one of the early episodes. Every civilian was to be recorded, with forms being issued to over 41 million people throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland, though only the records for England and Wales have been released. Completion of the cards resulted in the issuing of national identity cards which were required to be carried at all times up to 1952, ration books, and later were used for establishing the National Health Service. The use of this record for the National Health Service is why you will see recorded the married surname of many women marrying later, and also why some people younger than age 100 are not hidden in the records, their deaths having been recorded up to 1991 in the records. If you can document that someone has died then records currently closed can be opened up.

Search for Walter Crowhurst on Advanced search screen showing all options

Search for Walter Crowhurst on Advanced search screen showing all options

How to access. The 1939 Register has been released online by FindMyPast in partnership with The National Archives. The Register consists of over 7,000 volumes with over 1,200,000 pages providing names, dates of birth, addresses, marital status, occupations, and sometimes additional comments for over 41,000,000 people. FindMyPast claims a 98% accuracy rate in transcription, so my ancestors must fall into that 2%, with more on this later.

FindMyPast provides additional background information, including a nice short U-Tube video about the Register, and a getting started guide on their website, though part of this is already out of date.

Anyone can do a search in the 1939 Register for free on FindMyPast, but to unlock the images you will need to purchase credits (300 credits unlocks 5 households). The purchasing of credits applies whether you are a subscriber or not. Providing you use the same registration email each time, then you will not have to pay to view the register pages in the future.

Search Options – You can do a simple search on first and last name; birth year and where they were in 1939. This might work for you but the advanced search screen opens up a great number of options. You can search on First and Last names, with variants; birth year, with optional range of years; date and month of birth; place keyword; sex; occupation; marital status; street; borough / district filter; county filter; country filter; first and last name of other household member; plus TNA reference. If you scroll down the search screen you will find explanations of these fields and these should definitely be read if you don’t find who you are looking for.

Example – Walter Crowhurst – gg-grandfather

Free preview screen for Walter Crowhurst household in Strood Rural District, Kent

Free preview screen for Walter Crowhurst household in Strood Rural District, Kent

Let’s provide some examples. We will start with a search for Walter Crowhurst, born 1859 – my gg-grandfather. Because of the age there are only two options and we choose the one in Strood R.D. in Kent. The preview screen shows Walter Crowhurst born in 1859, in a house with two other people. There are no closed entries in this household, implying that the other two people are either known to be deceased or would be over 100 years old. To see all the details the household needs to be unlocked. This is where you need to register and purchase credits (a subscription to FindMyPast is separate and not required).

Unlocked results screen for Walter Crowhurst household

Unlocked results screen for Walter Crowhurst household

Unlocking the household shows us that Walter Crowhurst was born 12 Sept 1859 is a pensioner, and is living with two of his sons: Victor James Crowhurst, born 21 Jun 1896 a farm labourer; and John Lenard Crowhurst born 13 Sep 1898 a Labourer. The new information for me is that beside John Lenard’s name we have in the comments section – Pensioner Gunner 21 years in Royal Artillery with the number NC1031520.

Details for Walter Crowhurst of Rose Cottage, Upper Halling, Kent

Details for Walter Crowhurst of Rose Cottage, Upper Halling, Kent

Given his age this suggests that he probably served during World War One but will not likely show up in any of the normal WWI records because he continued to serve after the war, and thus his records will still be at the Ministry of Defence. Walter’s address is given as Rose Cottage, Upper Halling, with no street being provided. It is common for houses in Britain to have names and so care is needed if an address search is performed.

Map showing location of Rose Cottage in Upper Halling where Walter Crowhurst Resides.

Map showing location of Rose Cottage in Upper Halling where Walter Crowhurst Resides.

Scrolling down the screen on the opened results page you will find a map highlighting where the house is located. You can see the house on the 1888-1913 Ordnance Survey six inch map, or the 1937-1961 Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 map. This can give you an indication of how the neighborhood has changed over time, though in this example it has not changed much.

Example – James Croudace – g-grandfather
Let’s search for James Croudace my great-grandfather born according to the 1939 Register on 10 Nov 1884 but this is actually incorrect because his birth certificate shows that he was born on 7 Nov 1884. This example highlights the care needed with trying to search using the dates of birth. James is listed as a widow and working as a general labourer. Note that the address is shown on this image as 29 ditto, with no indication above showing what street is. On the preview page the address is shown as 29 West Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne CB, Northumberland, England. So be careful that you have collected all the information that the record provides as it may not all be on the actual image.

No relationship is known to any of the other people in the rest of the household but it is a good example of what additional information you may find. Annie Graham born 17 Feb 1910, probable wife of Joseph Graham is overwritten in green ink to show a new married surname of Bickerdyke, while off to the side also in green is a dated entry 26-2-69 showing CR283 New, actually this is the date of her new marriage.

Example – Richard and Jean Finnigan – grand-parents

Unlocked results screen for Richard Nicholson Finnigan and Jean Finnigan of 93 Aldwick Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Unlocked results screen for Richard Nicholson Finnigan and Jean Finnigan of 93 Aldwick Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne

The above examples were easy to find. Let’s see how creative you might have to get. I was looking for Richard Finnigan born 22 Sep 1904 but he was not found in the search because of a FindMyPast transcription error on the month, and Richard giving a wrong year of birth, plus no Finnigan’s showing up on the results page. I did a search for Jean using date of birth and again no Finnigan matches. I recalled that the family moved in the 1930s as part of a slum clearance to Aldwick road in Newcastle-upon-Tyne so I did a search – but there were no Finnigan’s on the street. The search was repeated just for the street name, and there were multiple results screens but one potential Richard and one potential Jean. Now when I first did the search the TNA reference number was given and you could search on that number to reduce the number of potentials. It showed the Richard and Jean to be on the same page of results, with one closed record. I wish the TNA reference option was returned because it gave me enough encouragement to think I had the correct family in spite of the errors.

Unlocked results screen for Richard Nicholson Finnigan and Jean Finnigan of 93 Aldwick Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Unlocked results screen for Richard Nicholson Finnigan and Jean Finnigan of 93 Aldwick Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I paid to unlock the record and it was the correct family – Richard + Jean + 4 closed records (not 1as the search screen suggested). So why was the family so difficult to find? In the FindMyPast index their surname was listed as ~??? – try finding that surname on a search, though it is readable as Finnigan. Richard is employed as a Brass Foundry labourer in the heavy works, and in the comment field listed as an ARP Warden, the first documentation I have of this family story. The other confirmation I have that I have the correct family is that Richard’s middle name – Nicholson – has been added in green ink.

Example – Reginald Ernest Milner and Jane Milner- grandparents

My grandfather Reginald Ernest Milner, born 6 August 1904, plus his wife Jane Milner (nee Croudace) born 22 January 1909 along with my father James B.W. Milner born 4 October 1929 (died 1980), plus two closed brothers are all missing an unaccounted for in the 1939 Register. I have tried all sorts of combinations of names, dates and no names but with no luck so far. I think this family may fall foul of one of the exceptions in that military families are not included and I suspect Reginald was in the Army reserves and may already have been called up. My understanding is if he was in the army he would not be in the Register, but does that mean his family was not either? I include this family in the blog to point out that not everyone is easy to locate and therefore you have to think about why not. Is it an indexing problem, missing information or do they meet one of the exceptions. Unlike the Finnigan I am not sure where this family was in September 1939 – Mill Lane, Newcastle; farming in Essex; visiting family in Kent; at an army base in Yorkshire. No matter I can’t find the family anywhere.

Summary – For those with ancestors or relatives still in England or Wales in 1939 you should be looking at this resource. You can do free searching in the indexes, but you will have to pay to see the results. It will provide birth dates, which you may or may not have already, give locations and occupations, and may provide additional information.

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Filed under Croudace, Crowhurst, England, Family Research, FindMyPast, Finnigan, Milner Research, News