Monthly Archives: March 2013

New death transcripts available

TheGenealogist has just added another 10 million individuals to their collection of Death Transcripts – this brings the total to over 68 million records, and takes the transcripts now back to 1880!

These transcripts can be used with a tool that lets you search across all the Birth, Marriage and Death transcripts, with built in SmartSearch technology, automatically showing the partner’s full name where available, and enabling you to find potential parents from a birth, potential children to a marriage and potential birth records from a death record. To find out more and see how the SmartSearch works go to TheGenealogist website.


Need help tracing those Scottish ancestors?

If your family history involves tracing relatives from Scotland, it could be worth reading up on some advice and guidance from a recognised expert. Scottish Genealogy by Bruce Durie is the comprehensive guide to tracing your family history in Scotland, and is written by one of the most authoritative figures on the subject.

The work is based on established genealogical practice and is designed to exploit the rich resources that Scotland has to offer.

All people who claim Scottish ancestry will find something in this book to challenge and stimulate. Informative and entertaining, this updated edition is the definitive reader-friendly guide to genealogy and family history in Scotland. It’s currently available at Genealogy Supplies at a reduced price so well worth a look.

Scottish ancestors, family history book for Scotland
Helping you trace those Scottish ancestors

Handy research tips- cleaning that long-lost gravestone

Discovering the gravestone of a long lost ancestor can be a big event for the family history researcher. There can be so much information to be learned from the wording on the gravestone.

You can learn a lot by reading your ancestor’s gravestone. Sometimes, though, a genealogist will arrive at the cemetery and find that the gravestone they were hoping to read is covered with overgrown plants or weeds and other debris. However, the attempt to clean off the gravestone must be carried out with the utmost care as damage can easily be accidentally done.

Genealogists need to realise that gravestones, especially really old ones, are fragile and easily damaged. Don’t let your excitement about finally locating your ancestor’s grave, make you accidentally damage it in your haste to read the lettering! 

To summarise, gentleness is the key. You are going to have to be patient when cleaning off a gravestone. Much can be achieved by using a soft sponge that has been soaked in just cold water, stay clear of the chemicals and other cleaning products! The gravestones are composed of minerals and salts, adding chemicals can often cause a chemical reaction that will erode the stone faster than if you just left it alone. A little bit of careful scrubbing can ease away the dirt and grime that has collected on the headstone.The clear finished result will be worth it, especially if you are then able to read a list of your ancestors to add to your records!

Cleaning those gravestones
Cleaning those gravestones

New Book available commemorating school centenary

At the recent Who Do You Think Are? Live event, Family History Social met up with Margaret Roy from Malvern Family History Society. She mentioned the launch of her new book ‘Striving for the Goal’. It commemorates the Centenary of West Kirby Grammar School on the Wirral through the eyes of a former pupil, Evelyn Roy, who attended in the 1920s. Using the diaries and memorabilia of her husband’s aunt, Margaret has provided a unique snapshot of school life in the North-West in the 1920s.

The book is priced at £5.50 + 85p postage & packing. To order or for more information, please contact Margaret at


New book- 'Striving for the Goal'
New book from Margaret Roy – ‘Striving for the Goal’

Discussing your family history with the wider community..

There’s so many free resources and help and advice online to take advantage of, it’s handy when you hit those brick walls to have other genealogists to run ideas by or to possibly find useful information that helps you break down those brick walls. One forum that offers some good advice and guidance is Roots-Forum which offers advice, discussion areas and generally all things genealogy related. Sign up and get involved here.

This week in history- The Tolpuddle Martyrs and their struggle

This week in 1834, 6 Dorset agricultural workers were sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and transported to Australia for forming a trade union and swearing an oath of secrecy. Led by George Loveless, a Methodist lay preacher, they were convicted in a rigged trial and transported to Australia. As the workers struggled to survive in dire economic conditions when the power belonged to all the landowners, protests had started to increase and the ruling classes felt their power base threatened and wanted to stamp it out.

In a very unfair trial, the 6 men were convicted and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and transported to Australia.

The ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’ transportation records are available on TheGenealogist, there’s more details here. After a determined protest back in Britain, they were eventually pardoned and allowed to come back in 1837.

Do you have any ancestors that were convicted around this time and sentenced to be transported to Australia or New Zealand? Have you found their transportation records from the 1700 or 1800s? We’d love to hear your stories!

Workers in field
Agricultural workers in the field



Discovery of skeletons from the Black Death Plague

Archaeologists in London have discovered a lost burial ground during excavations for the  new Crossrail project in London which might hold the bodies of some 50,000 people who were killed by the “Black Death” plague more than 650 years ago.

A scene of the Black Death
A scene of the Black Death

Thirteen skeletons, laid out in two careful rows, were found 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) below the road in the Farringdon area of central London  during construction of the £16 billion pound Crossrail project.

Historical records had indicated the area, described as a “no man’s land”, had once housed a hastily established cemetery for victims of the bubonic plague which killed about a third of England’s population following its outbreak in 1348.There’s more on the BBC website


Looking back in history….

As a new Pope is elected in Rome, it’s interesting to look back in time to see how things were reported many years ago. The Illustrated London News is one of a number of publications that allow the family historian to really get a feel for events and how they were perceived in previous years.

As the selection of Pope Francis I makes headline news around the world, we’ve taken a look at how the passing of a previous Pope and the arrival of a new Pope was reported in the 1800s in the UK press.

We find an article on the new Pope (Pope Pius IX) in the July 11th edition of the Illustrated London News, 1846.

Article in the 1846 Illustrated  London News
Article in the 1846 Illustrated London News

The death of Pius IX was reportedly widely with an extensive tribute.

Funeral of Pope Pius IX
Funeral of Pope Pius IX

Leo XIII then became Pope following the death of Pope Pius. Headline news in 1878 as the front cover below shows.

Pope Leo XIII elected in 1878
Pope Leo XIII elected in 1878

The whole papal selection process was described in detail in 1878, highlighting how traditions have stayed in place throughout the centuries.

The process of creating a new Pope
The process of creating a new Pope

From the arrival of the cardinals to the issuing of white smoke, to the packed Saint Peter’s Square near the Vatican, it is a glimpse into the past and traditions.

For a number of editions of the Illustrated London News in the 1800s, please visit




Making use of those unique records…just what can we find?

As increasingly more ‘pre-1837’ records are added online, it is now possible to really unearth some useful information on the life and times of your ancestors. Going beyond the census and BMD records into those earlier records is now becoming easier online, with more records now available to view.

Today, the 13 March, gives us the opportunity to look at a ‘famous’ example of what can be found searching for those early records. On this day in 1781, Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus. Both Sir William, his sister, Caroline and Sir William’s son, John were all renouned astronomers of the time.

William Herschel
William Herschel

William Herschel came to England in 1757 from Hanover, Germany, after leaving the army with his brother. Using his initial skills as a musician he made his way but his interests soon turned to mathematics and astronomy.

Discovering planets and comets with his sister, he became a highly regarded member of the scientific community. Having an ancestor who achieved great things or was a prominent member of society makes things easier for the family history researcher as they can appear in biographies and other valuable records of the time. Here we can see an example of a biography describing William Herschel.

Biography of William Herschel
Biography of William Herschel

As awards and respect came his way, we can see from his biographical records above he was made a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1781 and then appointed as ‘Court Astronomer’ in 1782. Fully settled in England,  he became a British naturalised citizen in 1793.

Naturalisation record for Sir William Herschel
Naturalisation record for Sir William Herschel

He achieved a worldwide reputation for the manufacture of telescopes and this no doubt provided a comfortable means for Sir William. Upon his death in 1822, he left a Will, a copy of which can be seen below:

Copy of Will record
Copy of Will record
Will record
Transcribed record of the Will on TheGenealogist

The son of Sir William, Frederick, is featured on later parish records, adding to the information we can gather on the family. A prominent astronomer himself, he appears in a number of parish records. The marriage of his daughter, Amelia, is listed below in 1868.

Parish marriage record
Parish marriage record

The burial record for John Hershel is also listed allowing us a further insight into the family.

Burial of John Hershel
Burial of John Hershel

The parish records give us a great deal of useful information- here we have other details on the life of John Hershel-  such as he was ‘Master of The Royal Mint’ and also was created a Baronet.

For more information on the new naturalisation records on TheGenealogist , there is more information here.