New Passenger lists go online with unique search facilities

New Passenger lists go online with unique search facilities

Departure of the RMS Campania from Liverpool

RMS Campania, one of the ships included in the passenger lists.

TheGenealogist has just released five million Emigration BT27 records as part of their growing immigration and emigration record set. Uniquely TheGenealogist allows you to track transmigration of people across countries routing through British ports on their way to America. TheGenealogist is the only website with the facility to discover families travelling together on the same voyage using our SmartSearch technology.

The new records, with original images, contain the historical records of passengers who departed by sea from Britain in the years between 1896 and 1909. These new records significantly boosts the already strong Immigration, Emigration, Naturalisation and passenger list resources on TheGenealogist.

TheGenealogist has further revealed that these records will be shortly followed by the release of many more unique migration records.

The searchable records released today will allow researchers to

  • Find people using British shipping lines and travelling to places such as America, Canada, India, New Zealand and Australia in the Passenger lists of people leaving from, or passing through the United Kingdom, by sea which were kept by the Board of Trade’s Commercial and Statistical Department and its successors.

  • The Homestead Act of 1862 in America gave free land to settlers who developed it for at least five years, and became a particular magnet for Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes, who arrived in their millions. To reach America, it was necessary to travel initially to England in order to then board one of the large transatlantic passenger ships and this preliminary journey has been recorded for many transmigrant passengers within the BT27 records. For the first time these can be easily found using the unique transmigration button.

  • SmartSearch identifies potential family members travelling together. When our system recognises groups of people on the same voyage as a potential family it displays a family icon. This then allows you to easily view the family.

  • Family SmartSearch

  • These fully indexed records enable family historians to search by name, port of embarkation, port of destination, country of departure, country arrival and nationality.

This release adds to TheGenealogist’s Immigration and Emigration records that already include the useful Naturalisation and Denization records.

Those with ancestors who travelled out of Britain will welcome this fascinating new release from TheGenealogist that reveal the details of the coming and going of passengers and is a precursor of a set of unique records joining the collection shortly.

Nigel Bayley, MD of TheGenealogist said: “We intend to make researching migrating ancestors easier with our new smarter interfaces and adding more records covering a growing range of countries.”

An example from the passenger list records:

Within the passenger lists, on TheGenealogist, we can find the passage of the Dunottar Castle from Southampton to Cape Town in South Africa on the 14th October 1899. One of the passengers was the young Winston Churchill who, at that time, was a member of the Press and was going out to report on the start of the Second Boer War.

Two days before his ship’s departure the war had broken out between Britain and the Boer Republic. At the news of this conflict Mr Churchill had obtained a commission to act as a war correspondent for The Morning Post newspaper. In return he was to be paid £250 a month for his services.

After spending a number of weeks in the Colony he managed to get himself onto an armoured train, loaded with British soldiers, performing a reconnoitre between Frere and Chieveley in the British Natal Colony during November 1899. A Boer commando force, however, had placed a big boulder on the track and the train crashed into it. The Boers, having succeeded in stopping the train, then opened up with their field guns and rifle fire from a vantage position.

After a fight a number of the British were taken prisoner, but the locomotive, decoupled from the carriages and ladened with men, managed to escape. Churchill, unfortunately for him, was not one of those on-board the loco. Without his sidearm, which he had left on the train, he had no option but to surrender to the Boers. Churchill was then imprisoned in a POW camp in Pretoria. After being held captive for about four weeks Churchill escaped on the evening of 12th December 1899. He did this by vaulting over the wall to the neighbouring property and taking flight.

Churchill passenger

If we look at Churchill’s travelling companions on the ship out to Cape Town, scheduled to take 65 days, we can see that he was sailing with a mixture of merchants, a jeweller, an actor, a Peer of the Realm (Lord Gerard), an optician and a couple of lawyers. The Hon A. Campbell was also listed, he was another member of the press corps who had made it on to that particular Castle Line sailing to the war zone with Churchill.

Violette Szabó’s George Cross goes on display at Imperial War Museum London

Many of our family members who saw service in the wars were awarded medals. In some cases the decorations were given posthumously.


The Imperial War Museum has announced that the George Cross which was posthumously awarded to Second World War secret agent Violette Szabó has been put on permanent display today for the first time in Imperial War Museum London’s The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes.

The exhibition, supported by Lord Ashcroft, houses the largest collection of Victoria Cross and George Cross medals in the world. Violette Szabó’s medal collection was recently acquired at auction by Lord Ashcroft for a record price of £260,000.


Violette Reine SzaboViolette Reine Szabo

Violette was a truly remarkable woman and the story of her short and formidable life is one of love, courage and bravery, and ultimately tragedy.

Daughter of a British soldier who fought during the First World War and his French wife, Violette was 18 years old when the Second World War broke out, living locally to IWM in Stockwell with her parents and working as a shopkeeper.

Whilst working in the Women’s Land Army Violette met Etienne Szabó, a Free French officer in the Foreign Legion and after a short whirlwind romance they were married in August 1940. However, just four months after the birth of their beloved daughter Tania in June 1942, Etienne was killed in action during the Battle of El Alamein.

Shortly after Etienne’s death Violette was recruited to the Special Operations Executive joining the French ‘F’ section, whose agents were sent undercover to occupied France to work against German Forces.

On the night of 7 June1944, the day after British troops landed in northern France on D-Day, Violette parachuted into France on her second mission to set up a network with local resistance groups. Three days later whilst on a courier trip with a resistance leader they encountered German troops. Their car was stopped at a road block. Violette and two French agents engaged the German soldiers in a lengthy fire-fight, until Violette was eventually captured. She was brutally interrogated in prison before being deported to Germany. Violette was later executed at Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1945.

This year marks 75 years since the George Cross was established as Britain’s most prestigious decoration for bravery for civilians and service personnel not under direct fire. Only 4 George Crosses have been directly awarded to women, three of which were awarded to members of SOE. Violette’s medals will go on display next to those of Odette Samson, another ‘F’ Section agent who also endured torture and imprisonment but survived the war.

Displayed alongside the George Cross will be Violette’s GQ Parachute Company badge and her wartime pistol.

Tania Szabó, Violette’s daughter who was just two years old at the time of her death says; “Violette, my mother, would be chuffed and deeply honoured, as am I, that through the generosity of Lord Ashcroft the medals awarded to her are going on display at the Imperial War Museum in London. Her life, although tragically but heroically cut short was lived with great bravery and courage, and intense joie de vivre. Her legacy will live on and it is my hope that anyone who visits the Imperial War Museum may be inspired by her story.”

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC said: “I feel privileged and humbled to be the custodian of this iconic medal group. More than 70 years after her tragic death Violette Szabó GC remains a hugely inspirational figure and quite rightly so because of her relentless bravery both before and after her capture. I am delighted to have enabled her medal group to remain in Britain and I am thrilled that it will now go on public display at Imperial War Museum London.”

Diane Lees, Director−General of IWM says “The story of Violette Szabó GC is one of the most remarkable to emerge from the Second World War. As a strong, determined woman who fought the enemy face to face, resisted torture and brutality, and maintained a determined defiance throughout her capture, her character and experiences resonate strongly with the modern generation of women who live in Britain today. We are delighted that the George Cross which was awarded to her in recognition of her extraordinary courage is now going to be placed at the heart of IWM’s displays in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes.”

For more information about Violette Szabo see the Imperial War Museum’s web article

Anita Rani

Anita Rani is the next celebrity to appear in the current BBC series of Who Do You Think You Are?

Countryfile presenter and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Anita Rani was born in Yorkshire to Indian parents. But it is her maternal grandfather’s story in the turbulent period of Partition that takes Anita to the Punjab to see if she can find out more.

Ahita Rahi Nazran, better known as Anita Rani (born 25th October 1977) is an English radio and television broadcaster born in Bradford.

Her mother Lakhbir (Lucky) Kaur, works at the Bradford Royal Infirmary as a liaison officer and is of Sikh descent. Anita’s father, on the other hand, is Balvinder Singh Nazran and he is a Hindu. Both her parents were born in India, although her father came to Britain when he was four, so Anita says he’s a Yorkshireman through and through.

There is a featured article about Anita on the family history website TheGenealogist.

Another free to read article from Discover Your Ancestors

A day at the museum.

In this month’s Discover Your Ancestors Periodical Margaret Powling explores 400 years of museums.  If you want to read more about museums then take advantage of Discover Your Ancestors’ FREE sample article from this month’s Online Periodical, on their website.

Launched in May 2013 Discover Your Ancestors Periodical is a high quality monthly digital magazine delivered to your own personalised online account every month. This beautifully designed 30+ page online magazine is packed full of stories, case studies, social history articles and research advice. This regular and affordable service is a must have for anyone starting out in family history research or for those with more experience but who have reached brick walls.


To read the FREE sample article on museums pop over to the web page here:

DYA a day at the museum


Family History Abbreviations


Just a little confused by family history abbreviations?

John Smith,  bach;  MS. 

b: 1847   d: 1889


If you find an ancestor was “b 1847″ does this mean they were born or baptised in 1847?

What is the agreed abbreviation for buried, or if you find an ancestor in the records with the shortened word “bach” what does this indicate?

Or what does “do” mean?

If these and many other abbreviations are taxing you then take a look at this website here:

English Family Tree Assoc


Answers: “b” means born, “bur” is used for buried, “bach” is bachelor and “do” is Ditto.

Frank Gardner’s Family History explored on Who Do You Think You Are

On Thursday night the BBC  aired the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

It fascinatingly explored the maternal line of the BBC’s Security correspondent, Frank Gardner. His mother’s family turn out to have been descended from William the Conqueror in a direct line that went through a Tudor knight who, having picked the wrong side in the power struggle between the Duke of Somerset and Warwick, ended losing his head at the Tower of London.

Frank was seen in the broadcast to be incensed by the unfair treatment of his ancestor Sir Michael Stanhope, who was beheaded on being found guilty on circumstantial evidence.

The programme traced the journalist’s maternal line through 28 generations back to William I.

A slightly different angle on Frank’s family history has been discovered in this article published on TheGenealogist website. A diplomatic incident involving Frank Gardner’s father!

Frank Gardner featured article on TheGenealogist


Was your ancestor a Chelsea Pensioner?


The Royal Hospital Chelsea often get requests from people researching their family history, wanting to know whether anybody in their family was ever a Chelsea Pensioner.

Looking on their website there is a dedicated page that you can visit on Tracing Ancestors who were Chelsea Pensioners:

All of us in Britain are aware of the scarlet uniformed ex-servicemen and women who are known as Chelsea Pensioners, but do we know how far back in history their ranks go?

Perusing the website we can learn that from 1692 until 1955, all Army pensions were administered and paid from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is why all Army pensioners tended to be known as Chelsea Pensioners.

It seems that there are two categories of Chelsea Pensioner:

The In-Pensioner:   refers to those who surrendered their Army Pension and were admitted as residents of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The Out-Pensioner: those who lived ‘Out’, in the UK or abroad and received their pension in cash from agents around the country.  All records for Out-Pensioners are held by the National Archives at Kew. The Royal Hospital Chelsea website suggests that If you find details of an ancestor in a Census other than the institution one for the Royal Hospital Chelsea it is a definite indication that he was an Out-Pensioner.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea has an archive that includes some but not all records of In-Pensioners from 1871 to the present date. Records that are pre-1871 are held at the National Archives at Kew.

If you think your ancestor may have been a Chelsea Pensioner then for advice on how to use the Royal Hospital Chelsea Museum Archive services and for more detailed information on what materials that they hold, you can download their advice sheet here.   If you have any further enquiries about a Chelsea Pensioner that think appears in your family tree then you can contact them on:

Several Chelsea Pensioners gathered around, one of whom is Wellcome V0012951

Anne Reid’s family history reveals ancestor Transported to Tasmania


For many  of us Anne Reid is a familiar face on our TV screens. Perhaps we remember her as  Valerie Barlow from Coronation Street, or Jean in Dinner ladies? Or it may be from the more recent series of programmes in which she stars along side Derek Jacobi as Celia Dawson in Last Tango in Halifax.

Acclaimed British actress Anne Reid MBE, is the next of the celebrities to feature in the Who Do You Think You Are? programmes. In her episode she discovers that her family tree features ancestors who were employed as solicitor’s clerks in Liverpool, but who came originally from Scotland. Tracing this respectable line further back in the records she comes across a Scots schoolmaster and becomes upset to find out that he ended up marooned on the other side of the world having served a sentence for fraud that saw him transported to Australia from Scotland.

Read TheGenealogist’s full article here…

On this day in 1752 the Gregorian Calendar introduced to England

On this day in 1752 the 3rd of September became the 14th as part of the changes caused by the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar into England and Wales and crowds of people rioted on the streets demanding, ‘Give us back our 11 days.’


The Gregorian reform had started in 1582, in Pope Gregory XIII’s time but took some time to be adopted by Europe.

The first day of the year, or Supputation of the Year became the 1st of January under the new calendar system. Prior to this the year began on Lady Day, or the 25th March.  The Calendar Act 1750 had changed this situation, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was the 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a very short year – it ran only from 25 March to 31 December!

The year had previously been broken up into quarters, still in use for some legal practices, Lady Day (25th March), Midsummers Day (24th June), Michaelmas Day (29th September) and Christmas day (25th December).

To throw even more confusion into this situation, Scotland had already changed the first day of the year to 1 January in 1600 and so 1599 was a short year there ( remember that in 1600, Scotland was a completely separate kingdom). What has to be recognised is that when King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England in 1603, the possibilities of date confusion must have been very large indeed. Today it confuses many a family historian.

The loss of the 11 days was required to balance the calendar with the solar year, as it had gone out of sequence over the span of the centuries.

Gregorian Calendar

Gareth Malone’s Famliy History reveals that music runs in the blood

Choirmaster, Gareth Malone, is not the first in his family to perform to an audience. Music and drama is in his blood. From an ancestor that appeared at King George V’s Coronation Gala to a Dublin impresario.

Tracing back the family to Gareth’s great-great-grandfather, researchers have found that he was an English actor, comedian and singer named Edmund James Payne.  Gareth’s forebear begun on the stage in the 1880s playing more than 300 roles including parts in The Shop Girl and The Messenger Boy. A critic from the time described him as a “little man with a very funny face with which he could work wonders” while another report says that Payne was a “universal favourite and a very great comedian”.

Research in Dublin has also unearthed that Gareth’s four times great grandfather Daniel Lowery was in the theatre. Family legends, passed down to Gareth, were that Daniel had been a theatre impresario in Dublin. It has been discovered that there had actually been two Daniel Lowerys, father and son – the latter having been the manager and impresario while the father had the talent and had created the theatrical legacy.

Read full article about Gareth Malone’s ancestry on TheGenealogist’s website.