Archives for September 2012

NZ Wills Collection expanded

NZ Wills

Thanks to for the newsflash that FamilySearch has added another 384,000 images to it’s New Zealand Probate Collection 1878 – 1960.

Tracing wills in NZ isn’t a straight forward business as they are kept in a number of different locations and there is no central index to where they are held or who left a will. Therefore having this collection which comprises the wills held by Archives New Zealand is a great help. The images are available for viewing free of charge, but first you will need to visit and undertake a name search, then with the probate file number attached to that name you can then head for Familysearch and locate an image of the will. Wills are great documents for adding information to your family history so it is well worth the trouble to locate them.

Bastardy Bonds & other records

Poor woman & child

A new new article on Illegitimacy Documents has just gone online at MadAboutGenealogy’s sister site

Everyone is going to have at least one of their family lines come to an abrupt halt because of an illegitimate birth, Mark Herber in his book “Ancestral Trails” gives a figure of 2% of all birth in the early 18th century were illegitimate. However all is not lost because such an event can lead to a paper trail generated by officials as they attempt to locate the father and have him pay towards the upkeep of the child rather than the mother & child be supported from the poor rate. All of this creates documents that can be of great help in researching your family history.

To learn more head over to ….


Forces War Records Improved Search Facility

Forces War Records Genealogy

The Forces War Records website is now offering an improved search facility, the new search engine means that searches can be undertaken by service number, specific years, nationality & type of service. Then there are filters that can be used depending on whether the person died in active service, were issued a gallantry award, or mentioned in despatches. This makes searching for military ancestors so much more efficient.

Forces War Records offers 4.5+ million records comprising service records, regimental/unit data, information on specific battles, medals, veteran contacts plus military tutorials specific to genealogy

A site worth considering when searching for your military ancestors.

Image Wikimedia – British soldiers in World War I at Kilkis, Greece

Ancestry Card Catalogue Lucky Dip

When you enter England as the location in the Card Catalogue and leave all other boxes blank it comes up with 991 entries. There are the well known and well used censuses, civil registration indexes, the London parish registers and the Army records, but what are the other hundreds of datasets for England?

As there are no major releases today from the likes of Ancestry or FindMyPast I thought I would pluck out one or two of the more unusual datasets, take a look and report on what I find.

Suffolk Committees for Scandalous Ministers, 1644-1646

Suffolk Committees for Scandalous Ministers, 1644-1646This dataset is a scanned copy of a book edited by Clive Homes, Assistant Professor at Cornell University and published in 1970 by the Suffolk Record Society.

The description attached to this book tells us that during the English Civil War a committee was set up to seek out Scandalous Ministers and these were defined as those who were “non-resident, incompetent or idle, scandalous either in life or in doctrine, or in any way ill-affected to Parliament” I suspect that there were a few of those around as anyone who didn’t agree with the Presbyterian viewpoint that parliament took was likely to be put under the heading of Scandalous Ministers.

The book has details of the cases brought against 38 ministers, including the wonderfully named Maptid Violet who was curate of Aldeburgh plus an index of witnesses which runs to five pages, so plenty of names that will feature on someone’s family tree. The book has been indexed so names should come up when a search is undertaken under the Stories & Publications tab on the main Ancestry page.

Index to Bristol Wills 1572 – 1792

This book is part of the extensive British Record Society series and was compiled by Edward Alexander Fry, it was published in 1897. The book has not been indexed (which seems odd as it is an index) so will not come up on any search, you have to know it’s in the Card Catalogue and then browse through page by page. Browsing page by page is easy enough as it is obviously arranged alphabetically, but you have to first know it is there before you can browse.

The front page tells me that it is Bristol Wills 1572 – 1792 that is wills proved in the Bishop of Bristol’s Court so there will be people included here who didn’t live in the city of Bristol, but came under the jurisdiction of the court, but also included in the book  is an index to Wills in the Great Orphan Books 1379 – 1674. There is a good introduction that thankfully explains what the Great Orphan Books are, these are wills where the testator left children who were minors at the time of their death and the city authorities acted as guardians until the child became of age.

The index for the wills is naturally arranged by surname, then Christian name and finally date of probate.. Sadly there is nothing else given to identify the person so if a popular name such as Thomas Smith is sought you may have some difficulty identifying which Thomas Smith is yours unless you know the date of death.

Administrations (where the deceased didn’t leave a will) are indexed from page 108, this index gives the name of the deceased, the name of the administrator and the date of probate so you are more likely to be able to quickly identify an ancestor.

From page 125 the index for the Great Orphan Books starts. This index is much fuller than the first two, a typical entry will give the surname, Christian name, occupation, which parish the deceased lived in at the time of death, probate date and a reference number. It also note if the will was proved through the Provocative Court of Canterbury not in the Bristol Bishopric Court. Below is a scan of the first page of the Great Orphan Book Index.



This book is a great resource for those with ancestors who lived within the diocese of the Bishop of Bristol, why it hasn’t been index by Ancestry so that it comes up when a search is undertaken goodness only knows. I will be adding it to my section on Records by County on which is the sister site to this one. Hopefully this will let more people know what is available hidden in the depths of the Ancestry Card Catalogue.

I have written an earlier post explaining how to use the Card Catalogue and here is the link

DNA now available through The Genealogist

DNAThe press releases seem to be coming in twos today!

David Osborne of The Genealogist sent me the following information about the new DNA service that they are offering. The prices start from £64.95, not sure what level of DNA investigation this is for, but their website is bound to give all their details.

Here’s the press release……

DNA testing made affordable
As more and more people research their family history, there comes a point when it becomes very difficult to go any further with your family records and the trail go cold. However, there is now a possibility of going much further and the use of genetics has helped Family Historians create new lines of research.
The Genealogist has started offering these DNA tests to the public to help trace family lines with prices starting at £64.95 with other packages available.

“I see this as another tool that not just genealogists but anybody interested in family history could use to discover a lot more information,” says Mark Bayley, Head of the Online Division at  “When you research a line, there’s only so far back you can go when the paper trail ends. DNA can bridge that gap and get you past those brick walls. Many people are interested in genealogy and don’t have time to research the full family history themselves. Now they can learn more about their family than they ever thought was possible. We have access to the largest DNA Database and it can really help expand your family history knowledge.”
DNA Testing from
TheGenealogist can allow beginners to the world of genealogy to make big strides in developing their family history in much quicker time and discover key leads, also allowing you to connect with other genealogists and family members you never knew existed.
Many thousands of users have purchased DNA testing and the demand is increasing as people decide to take their family history research that step further. It’s a quick , painless process involving a swab in the cheek that can give you a wealth of information on your past!

It is a fascinating way to really retrace your roots.