Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Primary Source vs Online Database

A Grave from the HAYES of Chester in my Family Tree

I found this headstone early on in my family history research, it was a great find as it opened lots of other doors and enabled me to discover much more information about my HAYES line. The data which led me to the headstone was on a microfilm held by the now defunct Chester Record Office (now part of the Cheshire Record Office).  I spent hours perusing these microfilm records extracting likely candidates for matches to my then small family tree.  Now a days you can easily search the Overleigh Cemetry records on-line!  The details of the 5!! people interned in this particular grave can be found HERE.

Old Cemetry No2, Overleigh Road, Chester.  Grave Number : R8000

The MMI (Monumental Inscription) for this headstone indicates that there are in fact 6 people buried in this grave and NOT 5 as suggested by the on-line database.

ALWAYS check the Primary Source!

The sixth person details are on the reverse side of the headstone.  ALWAYS check the back of a headstone.

There was also a small memorial stone hidden behind the main headstone, this gave some more valuable information on another HAYES ancestor.

The sixth person does in fact appear in the online database but is recorded as being interned in grave number 8000 (the R is missing).

Below is the information that I recorded from the original microfilm.  As you can see there is information here that has not made it to the online data, that is, the name of purchaser and the date they purchased it.

ALWAYS check the Secondary source.  You never know what goodies lurk in the old microfilmed resources.

Just to finish off this post here is the full MMI.

In Affectionate Rememberance of
Rebecca Hayes
Who died February 5 1892
Aged 74 years
And now Lord what is my hope
Truly my hope is thee

Also Elizabeth
The beloved wife of Walter Brown
Born March 14th 1861
Died April 29th 1896
Gone to be with Christ which is for better

Also Hannah the
[Paternal 2nd Great Grandmother]
Beloved wife of William Hayes
Who died July 18th 1904
Aged 77 years
Peace be with this place

Also Jane  
[Paternal Great Grandmother]
Wife of Edward Hayes
Died Sept 27 1915 Aged 59 years

Also Edward  
[Paternal Great Grandfather]
Husband of the above
Died Sept 7 1926 Aged 70 years

(on rear of headstone)
William Hayes
Died January 23rd 1929
Aged 71 years

(Memorial behind headstone)
In memory
Son of
Edward & Jane Hayes
Who died of wounds
In the Great War
Aged 25 years
Buried in Boulogne

Sunday, 20 November 2011

News from the Wormhole

The latest news and tips from the world of genealogy and family history; and perhaps some local history.

This is something new to the Ancestral Wormhole blog.  A round-up of bits and pieces of news, together with some book recommendations, local history and TV.  If this is a success I might do some more!

Horrible Handwriting
For the past three Wednesday afternoons I have been on a Horrible Handwriting course at the Cheshire Record Office.  This is an excellent course on the introduction to Paleography; we are already deciphering old wills and parish registers.  It is a 4 week course (four 2 hour sessions) and would recommend it to anyone who wants to start reading old documents.  You can meet like minded people, have great help from the archivists, get plenty of handouts, plus refreshments; what more could you ask for. I am sure they will run another course in the not to distant future.

Cheshire Record Office Web Site
If you are new to the Cheshire Record Office web site here are a couple of tips that could save you some time.  Firstly the big buttons at the top of the page don't work if you have the Firefox or Chrome browsers.  However the text links underneath the buttons work fine.  If you are looking for any of the searchable databases  then click on the 'Search & Shop' link.

Cheshire Collection on FMP
Whilst we were on the handwriting course, the Cheshire Record Office announced that Find My Past had just published the Cheshire Collection.  It is an amazing collection comprising 10 million records which span the period 1538-1910.  A fantastic resource for anyone with Cheshire ancestors, it contains the following records:
  • Bishop’s Transcripts of the Parish Registers 1576-1905
  • Church of England Parish Registers 1538-1910
  • Electoral Registers 1842-1900
  • Marriage Licence Bonds and Allegations 1663-1905
  • Non-Conformist and Roman Catholic Records 1671-1910
  • Workhouse Registers 1781-1910
To complete the Cheshire Collection they will soon be publishing Chester Wills and Probate records, and the Land Tax Records.

Find My Past
You can currently get a 10% reduction on the normal Find My Past subscription cost by using the WDYTYA811 discount code.

Find My Past - Ireland
For those of you using the findmypast.ie web site (Find My Past Ireland) - they have just launched a Family Tree Builder on the site.  Some of the main features of the software include:
  • Add, edit, update and delete relations.
  • Add partners, parents and children.
  • Search your own tree or other member’s family trees.
  • Upload photos and link them to relations.
  • Other member’s trees and Historical records are automatically searched and displayed.
  • View your immediate family, ancestors, descendants or whole family tree
WDYTYA (USA) Series 2
Current plans are to show the USA Series 2 of Who Do You Think You Are in a regular slot over the coming weeks, with an episode featuring Ashley Judd set to be shown next Wednesday, 23 November.  If you missed the first of the series featuring Steve Buscemi you can still catch it on the BBC iPlayer

Find My Past (The TV Programme)
Find My Past the TV show is an exciting new 10-part series which unites ordinary members of the public with their ancestors.  Each week, they take three members of the public on a journey to discover how they are related to someone from a significant historical event, by searching the records on findmypast.co.uk. they follow each of them as they uncover who their ancestor is and the part they played in history, before uniting the participants to find out how they are connected.

The show is screened on Thursdays at 9pm on the Yesterday channel: Freeview channel 12, Sky 537, Virgin Media 203. Chris Hollins of BBC Breakfast, Watchdog and winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2009 presents the show.  Unfortunately it is not on FreeSat so I have not seen any any of the episodes!!  You can find out more about the shows here -  Find My Past TV.

Heir Hunters - BBC2
The return of the Heir Hunters this time to a prime time slot on BBC2.  This gives you an indication of the popularity the program has gained from genealogists, family historians, etc. during its morning slot.  If you have never seen it before then watch it for its research methods, also its very moving story lines.  Some people prefer it to WDYTYA, it gives you the research and human elements that the first series of WDYTYA had.  If you haven't written a will yet, you will (pardon the pun) after seeing this program.

Tracing Your Roots - BBC Radio 4
Now that the latest series of WDYTYA has ended and you are pining for something genealogy, then download and listen to some of the podcasts of Tracing your Roots.  Again a under-rated radio programme with some fantastic content.  It is presented by Sally Magnusson and Nick Barratt of WDYTYA fame.  It has inspirational family history stories and key genealogy advice, they uncover personal perspectives on social history and give listeners the tools to become family history detectives.

Book of the Month
This is an expensive book to buy, but once you have used it in a record office or local library you realise its worth to the british genealogist.  It is my book of the month for its invaluable help in understanding the parish boundaries during recent research into my family surname TIMMINS in the Dudley area of Worcestershire.

My Current Book Reading List
Being a Cestrian, well nearly!  Apparently you need to be born inside the Chester City Walls, I was born just outside in the City Hospital.  Anyway, I am an avid collector and reader of all things to do with Chester and the surrounding area.  Chester has an incredible history dating from the Roman times, so in addition to genealogy expect a few books here to do with Chester and its history.

125 Years on the Borderline by Chas Sumner - A book about the history of Chester City Football Club from 1885 to March 10th 2010 when it was wound up in the High Court.  An impressive book full of facts, information, photographs and statistics.  For me it brings back lots of memories of the early 1960's when my father first started taking me to the football games at Sealand Road - Happy days!  Chas Sumner is the official Chester Football Club historian, he writes articles for the local newspaper and the club program, and he often provides radio commentary on the games.

Tracing Your Family History on the Internet by Chris Paton - This is a book that I thought I didn't need!  After reading it I realised I did need it after all.  It is one of those reference books that points you towards research sources. When you are researching a new area of the country or a new subject this is the book to get you started.  It will be a useful book for those just starting out on their genealogy voyage or if you are already experienced.  A great addition to my genealogy bookshelf.

Family Tree Maker 2012
Family Tree Maker software has been around for many years, I started using it back in 1997 and it is my main database.  It tends to be re-invented every 12 months with a high upgrade cost; whether the improvements year on year are worth it is debatable.  I dabble with other family tree software but always come back to it as I know how it works, I don't want to learn another programme and I don't trust GEDCOM to transfer my data to other tree software.  If you are looking for a Xmas present then the Platinum Edition it is excellent value for money as it comes with 6 months PREMIUM membership to ancestry.co.uk which would normally cost £77.  Family Tree Maker 2012 Platinum Edition (PC)

If you want to know more about FTM2012 then checkout the blog Genea-Musings.
Randy Seaver is the prolific writer of this blog, he has written a series describing his experiences of using this latest version of FTM.  You will find his descriptions and comments - imparcial, comprehensive and understandable.

That's all for now folks, I hope you enjoyed reading News from the Wormhole as much as I enjoyed writing it

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembrance Day - 11/11/11

 For The Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

My Grandfather John Henry WILLIAMS (1875-1925) survived the Great War (WW1), but what he saw and what damage it did to him I will never know!

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." - Winston Churchill

Thursday, 10 November 2011

British Settlements and the Census

In my last blog post I mentioned searching the Find My Past 1881 census for TIMMINS in the Dudley area.  Having done some further research since then I have noted that different results will be produced depending on how you complete the advanced search form.  This can cause confusion if you don't understand the terminology used by the census forms themselves, or how the people of this era defined their habitat/place of birth, etc.  There are many online resources that define the terminology, however I will attempt to simplify (perhaps over simplify) how our ancestors would have understood their surroundings.
Click on any image to enlarge it in a new window
 Here we have the advanced search form.  You immediately notice that there are numerous search fields many of which are blanked out, this is because the transcriptions were not completed for all the entries that the enumerators schedule had available.  When you look at the original schedules you will understand why!  The enumerators either ignored these fields or got the information wrong.  The fields to concentrate on for surname research are: Birth Place, Registration District and Civil Parish.  The use of wild cards in these fields can often be very useful!

Firstly you need to understand that the census' were geographically based on the Poor Law Unions which were created in 1834.  It is these areas that were used for the publication of statistics.  See the surname distribution maps in my previous blog - Whats That Name - Timmins Surname (Part 1)

Poor Law Unions - these were created by the Poor Law Act of 1834, they were responsible for providing relief to the poor in England and Wales.  Unions were normally centred on a market town; their boundaries ignored historic counties and parishes.  They could contain several parishes and townships.

Parish - An area served by a local church; they often derived their place name from the local Manor.

Manor - Its history can be traced to rural economy of the later Roman Empire.  The Manor name often provided the name for the parish and covered the same area.

Ecclesiastical Parish - In essence the same as a Parish.  A area covered by local church or churches, it could contain a number of Civil Parishes.

Civil Parish - An administrative parish; the lowest form of local government; the responsibility of the Parish Council; an area where rates could be levied.  Often derives its name from the local township.
Township - A sub-division of a parish; a parish would often have have several townships each with its own church.

Registration Districts - In 1837 the Poor Law Unions became responsible for the registration of births, marriages and deaths. Registration Districts had the Poor Law Union boundaries.  They remained in use for the census from 1851 to 1911.

Counties - Civic Counties were simply the old ancient counties into which England and Wales had long been divided.

Place of Birth - A township or parish is usually given as a place of birth by the respondent in the census returns.  Sometimes they give the name of the parish church where they were baptised, e.g. St John.
Above we have a typical enumerators return.  We can compare this to the transcription below, also to information we have gleaned from the GENUKI web site.

Due to the idiosyncrasies of the British system it is always wise to check on the GENUKI site before starting any searches as you may find something surprising.  Take Dudley in the county of Worcestershire for instance; at the time of the 1881 census its boundaries were entirely inside Staffordshire!

You will notice that using the wildcard search Dudley* in the Civil Parish field was used to provided the data that I required.  The transcription had recorded it as "Dudley (Worcs)".  Lower down the page Rowley has been entered for place of birth, the parish is actually Rowley Regis, you will get different results if you enter either of these in the birth search field, but you will get a more accurate result entering Rowley*.

The Birth Place I used in the search was Tipton, a Parish within the Dudley Poor Law Union boundaries.  Tipton however is in Staffordshire!  So the moral of this story is be aware of searching just on Counties or incomplete parish names, you could be missing a lot of valuable research data.

Unfortunately, not recorded or searchable is the fact that this census information was collected in the Parish of St Lukes.

Guide to other terminology that genealogists researching within the UK may come across:

Hundred - At the time of the Norman Conquest Counties were already sub-divided into Hundreds for administrative purposes.

Chapelry - A small church, a sub-division of a parish (often in a place of difficult access).

Tything - will often be referred to in old records, they were a sub-division of an ecclesiastical parish. It was a basis for some taxation prior to the nineteenth century.

Borough - have from pre-Norman times been towns and cities which have received a charter granting them certain privileges.

Hamlet - Smaller than a village, usually less than 100[1] inhabitants.

Village - Larger than a hamlet but smaller than a town, usually less than 1,500 inhabitants.

Town - Larger than a village, mostly smaller than a city, usually less than 5,000 inhabitants.

City - Usually larger than a town, but not always.  Has a Cathedral.  City status in the UK is granted by the British Monarch.
[1] Inhabitant numbers based on mid 19th century populations.

Modern day population by settlement taken from Wikipedia:
"Metropolis – a large city and its suburbs consisting of multiple cities and towns. The population is usually one to three million.
Large city – a city with a large population and many services. The population is <1 million people but over 300,000 people. 
City – a city would have abundant services, but not as many as a large city. The population of a city is over 100,000 people up to 300,000. 
Large town – a large town has a population of 20,000 to 100,000. 
Town – a town has a population of 1,000 to 20,000. 
Village – a village generally does not have many services, possibly only a small corner shop or post office. A village has a population of 100 to 1,000. 
Hamlet – a hamlet has a tiny population (<100) and very few (if any) services, and few buildings."

I hope the information above helps you when searching the census'.  It has certainly made me think twice. I'm happy to take any comments and corrections on the article.  Hopefully I have not infringed anyone's copy-write.