Arley Hall, Cheshire archives now online

Arley hall

Cheshire Family History Society members have been very busy of late, they have just completed a mammoth project of digitising more than 10,000 documents relating to the Arley Hall Estate. This material is now available online free and is a great gift to those with ancestors who had connections with Arley Hall.

The archive spans 1750 – 1790 and includes estate maps, receipts, invoices, staff lists and much more. I am sure there will be some wonderful family and local research undertaken now that these papers have become so easily available.

Congratulations to the Cheshire Family history Society and the custodians of the Arley Hall archival material.

Founders & Survivors Tasmanian Convicts 1803 – 1920

Founders & SurvivorsA friend Cath Ferguson sent me a link to this website, Cath is an experienced local historian and I have been helping her recently with the genealogy part of two of her local history stories. I’m encouraging her to set up a blog/website because her work is amazing and deserves a much wider audience.

Anyway Cath sent me the link to and it is a gem of a site. The front page states Founders & Survivors is a partnership between historians, genealogists, demographers and population health researchers. It seeks to record and study the founding population of 73,000 men women and children who were transported to Tasmania. Many survived their convict experience and went on to help build a new society.

What more can a family historian with ancestors who were sent out to Tasmania want?!! There is a search facility and a forum and also the ability to become a volunteer for the project. I did a search for ‘my’ John Silcock from Bullington, Hampshire, this is what was found …

  • Estimated birth year & place of birth
  • Sentence, place of sentence, trial date
  • Ships name, Captain & surgeon, port of departure, duration of voyage, arrival date
  • Gaol & Hulk reports, offence details
  • Physical description, marital status
  • Muster dates, Ticket of leave date

There will be many researchers who will wonder if any of their ancestors got a free passage to Tasmania because of some misdemeanor and this site is the place to find out.

Boer War Records online

File:Caton-Woodville 1.jpgOur good friends at FindMyPast have just added some Boer War records to their military collection. This time round they are all medal rolls which are useful genealogy records. The additions are

  • Queen’s South Africa medal rolls for: Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia), Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps, Maritzburg Ambulance Corps, Natal Field Artillery and Natal Volunteer Hotchkiss Gun Detachment
  • King’s South Africa rolls for: 9th Lancers, 12th Lancers, 10th Hussars, 11th Hussars and Imperial Yeomanry
  • Talana clasp for 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, Leicestershire Regiment and King’s Royal Rifle Corps

Also they have completed the Wepener clasp roll

We have Meurig Jones to thank for allowing FindMyPast to offer these records to subscribers.

image – The Boer War by Richard Caton Woodville 1856 – 1927

Legacies of British Slave-ownership

Legacies of British Slave-ownershipUniversity College London has launched a website which will challenge our feelings towards some of our ancestors. You can’t judge your fore-bears because you haven’t stood in their shoes, haven’t lived in their society and can’t possibly know the whole story, but we might not always like what we find.

Sometime ago I discovered a will of a brother of one of my direct line ancestor who left the family home and travel to America. The will left a number of slaves to his son along with land and personal possessions. How did I feel …. mortified, but whilst I can and do condemn the business of one human being being enslaved to another I can’t judge the man. He was English, he went to America to better himself and in so doing he complied with what was normal for the time, he had slaves.

The UCL has two projects which are looking at the impact slavery had on the formation of modern Britain, the Legacies of British Slave Ownership database is the outcome of the first. Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763 – 1833 is the second.

I can report, with some relief that my ancestor doesn’t feature in the database, but a search under the name Smith brought forth 325 individuals. I chose the first entry as an example.

Sarah Arrowsmith of the estate Dick’s Last Shift

of St Andrews, Jamaica

Claim dated 30 November 1835 for £522 13s 1d

22 enslaved

If family names are found then a certain amount of background reading would be required before the data discovered on this website can be understood.

An interesting website for which UCL is to be congratulated, but one that some family historians might find challenging.

Criminal Records 1817 – 1931

Criminal Records 1817 - 1931

FindMyPast has just released a new collection of criminal records 1817 – 1931, additional records will be added in the coming months to make the complete dataset 1770 – 1934.

The original records are kept at The National Archives and among the records which will be available online today are:

  • Admiralty registers of convicts in prison hulks between 1818-1831 (ADM 6)
  • After trial calendars of prisoners from the Central criminal court between 1855-1931 (CRIM 9)
  • Calendar of Prisoners in Home Office records 1868-1929 (HO 140)
  • Criminal petitions 1817-1858 (HO 17)
  • Metropolitan Police records of habitual drunkards for the period 1903-1914 (MEPO 6)
  • Prison Commission records for 1880-1885 (PCOM 2)

A search for Henry Matkin gave the following details

Number 72
Name Henry Matkin (indicted with No. 41 in the Calendar)
Age 28
Trade Glazier
Degree of Instruction Imp.
Name & Address of Committing Magistrate J Vaughan Esq. Bow Street Court
Date of Warrant 5 May 1885
When received into Custody 13 May 1885
Offence Assaulting Joseph Payne, a police constable acting in the execution of his duty
Before whom tried J D Fletcher Esq.
Verdict of Jury Not guilty
Previous Convictions —–
Sentence or Order of Court —–

Depending on which type of record you get come up in a search depends on the information given. Some records have accompanying photographs of the accused, sadly there was no such photo of Henry (he is one of my ancestors).

A very interesting set of records to have at our fingertips especially for those who like me have more than their fair share of criminal ancestors!