Archives for August 2013

WW1 Soldier Wills online

Some 230,000 WW1 Soldier’s wills have been digitised and put online for the first time. The digitisation is part of the commemorations planned for the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WW1. Some of the wills also contain letters which were to be given to the next of kin if the soldier died whilst in service.

The excellent HistoryExtra website has a good article about the wills and there is a number of short videos already on YouTube, I am sure there will be more within the next few days.

The project has been overseen by Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) and is offered on the probate website. Searching the index is free and wills costs £6 each.

Non-Conformist records now on Ancestry

John Wesley Genealogy

If I had a £ for every time someone has said  to me “my ancestors were always Church of England” I would be a rich woman !! I would guess that all of us have ancestors who attended a non-conformist meeting at some stage. One of my Berkshire families were Churchwardens etc. generation after generation when suddenly in the mid 1800’s a branch of the family popped up in the local Baptist records for about ten years before returning to the parish church. I fancy they fell out with the local Vicar and so moved their allegiance to  the Baptist minister for a while!

The records released on Ancestry today are from the National Archives, Kew cover the time period 1567 – 1970 and are those held under the reference

RG4 – Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non-parochial Registers Commissions of 1837 and 1857.

RG 5 – Birth Certificates from the Presbyterian, Independent and Baptist Registry and from the Wesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry.

RG 8 – Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non Parochial Registers Commission of 1857, and other registers and church records in the Protectorates of Africa and Asia.

Non-conformist records are often much more detailed than C of E ones. I did a sample search using the surname Bint and chose at random a baptism entry for a Priscilla Bint of Warrington, Lancashire. The entry is below

Non Conformist records Genealogy

You can see that amongst the usual information is the name of the mother’s parents and child’s birth date. All beautifully written out and clear to read.

They are all indexed so it is easy to run your family names through to see if I am right about you have non-conformists on your family tree !

Free Online History Courses

Open Yale GenealogyMost genealogists are also history lovers so I was interested to see that Yale University offers some of it’s courses including history subjects online free of charge. The course material is downloadable and the lectures are online on YouTube. No credits or certificates are awarded for completing these course, you simply work your way through the material, watch the videos and learn for the sheer joy of acquiring knowledge OpenLearn Genealogyabout a favourite subject.

OpenLearn is the U.K. Open University’s version of free online learning, again course material is easily downloaded and OpenLearn offers some interaction with other students.

FamilySearch GenealogyLast, but no means least there is the 140 online genealogy courses offered freely by the FamilySearch team. Divided into countries and subjects there is sure to be something here that will expand your knowledge whether you are a beginner or more experienced researcher.



Open Yale Courses



RootsTech Videos now back online

RootsTech Videos GenealogyThe videos of some of the presentations given at RootsTech 2012 & 2013 disappeared or weren’t working for a while and I had a number of queries from people asking if I knew where they had gone. Well I don’t know where they were then, but I do know where they are now !!!

You can find then at , I have watched all these videos and have enjoyed them all. The one on the importance of storytelling whether it is of our stories or our ancestors stories I found thought provoking and made me resolve to write more about my ancestors. Thomas MacEntee, Jay Verkler and Joshua Taylor are just some of the high profile keynote speakers from the 2012 conference.

These top quality speakers are always worth listening to.

Abney Park Cemetery Records

Abney Park GenealogyIn the talk I give about London Cemeteries and their records I mention Abney Park the non-conformist cemetery which is part of the group of burial grounds known as the Magnificent Seven. Yesterday I needed to look at the Abney Park burial records, did a Google search for them and found that the website for the registers has had a revamp and offers more information that it used to. Must update my PowerPoint slides before I give the talk again!

The new website requires registration, but this is very easy to do. Once in you are offered a Basic Search, an Advanced Search, a Compare Gedcom facility and Manage Interests. I didn’t use the last two, but I gather the three option offers the ability to compare a Gedcom file with the records and compares the names on your file to what is in the cemetery file. Very clever.

I used one of my London surnames Southwell in the basic search and it came up with 14 graves of people with that surname. I chose John Southwell 1806 – 1881 and it flip up a side panel showing that John’s entry in the database was number 039500 and that John was buried 11 August 1881 aged 75 years also in the grave was Susan Southwell buried 15 May 1867 aged 69 years, this is so helpful for grouping families together if the grave isn’t a common/paupers grave but a privately owned one.

Abney Park 2 Genealogy

The grave location of H03 was given so I could locate and visit it if I wished to. Clicking on this location brings up a map of the cemetery which would make finding the grave easier, but do bear in mind that it now is quite overgrown in parts and is run partly as a nature reserve. Winter would be a good time to visit as the undergrowth will have died down.

Clicking on a + sign next to the name brought up a panel where I could enter my interest in this person and put in a website link plus comments if I wished. The idea is that if someone else looks for this person and see your interest they can then make contact. A great facility and this is where the Manage Interest area comes in.

This is a delight of a website and a credit to John Greenwood who looks after the site. I lost my password and he kindly emailed me with a replacement word which made me smile. Hopefully you won’t be as careless as I was in forgetting my password, but if you do I can guarantee that the replacement will amuse you!