Old Roots Genealogy

Family & Social History

Category: Resources

Find My Past Monthly Subscription

For some reason, Find My Past are currently only offering either pay for 3 months or 12 months on their subscription page. I really don’t understand this, as many people are like me and dip in and out of research or switch between FMP and Ancestry subscriptions.

Whilst I appreciate that paying for a longer subscription saves money (£3 on the 3 monthly package and £35 on the 12 month package), for people like me, paying £35.85 or £120 in one lump sum is too much money.

I contacted FMP and the good news is that they do still offer the monthly packages, they’ve just removed the link for now. If you use the “Need Help, click here” link on the bottom left of the subscription screen, they’ll give you a link to allow you to subscribe monthly.

 

 

1939 Register On Ancestry

The 1939 Register recently became available on Ancestry. Whilst this is great news for subscribers who don’t have a Find My Past subscription, I’ve found that it’s not as easy to use as it is on Find My Past.

Many of the Register’s entries only list a surname for the first person in each household. Ancestry have taken this literally in their transcriptions, resulting in a lot of people who are on the Register not appearing in the search results.

Great Uncle John

For example here is the Register entry for my great grandmother’s brother, John W Higginson, and his wife and children.

As you can see John W.’s surname is listed, but his wife and children’s surnames aren’t – this is the same for all the entries on their street and for many other entries in Bolton (and possibly other places). Find My Past have assumed that all the entries share the surname, Higginson, but Ancestry have left the surname blank in their transcripts.

I understand that Ancestry’s transcripts are completely accurate – no surname is listed so no surname should be entered. However, this means that if I search for another family member, say John W.’s son, also called John, the search returns no results. The only way to locate him is to either search for his father or search with no surname – neither of which are ideal.

Is There A Way Round This?

If you’re struggling to find someone on the 1939 Register using Ancestry, try searching for any family members you know of, you should eventually find them. If that doesn’t work, try using just their first name, date of birth and location. Although this will take a lot of checking of entries, Ancestry does have the useful feature of showing a brief summary of each result when you hover on it, which should speed things up.

I have submitted corrections on the entries I’ve come across, but whether Ancestry will accept them is yet to be seen. As I say, I do appreciate that strictly speaking Ancestry’s transcripts are correct.

 

Transcription & Original Errors

We all make mistakes, transcribers and the original form writers (whether they be parish clerks or census enumerators) included. As we know, it’s important to check original documents whenever possible and not trust in just the transcription, but sometimes the details on original documents should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Bad Handwriting

I would imagine that most people researching their family history have come across a few transcription errors – usually names that have been mis-transcribed from difficult to read old handwriting. On the 1911 census, my great grandmother Kate is listed as Rate, her brother Uriah is Vira and her sister Eunice is Marck.

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Unreliable Documents

Sometimes even primary sources of genealogy information are incorrect. The misleading information they contain, rather than helping you through a brick wall, can simply add more layers to the wall. Let me give you an example from my family tree.

One of my ancestors was named Harold John Evans(1) . His marriage certificate lists his father as Alec Evans, a waiter, and Harold’s age as 29 years old  – so we roughly know his year of birth. A BMD search brings up 1 birth for Harold Evans and 43 births for John Evans around the correct time (assuming the age on the marriage certificate is accurate of course). Three of the John Evans births were in the same county as the marriage, but can we be sure he was born in the same county he married (there is no census data available to check this). The Harold Evans birth was in a different part of the England, maybe he moved. If you research Alec Evans you will discover that he came from Edinburgh, perhaps his son was born there? And of course there is the name – there are no births around the time indicated by the age on the marriage certificate for a Harold John Evans.

We try moving onto the parents to narrow it down a little. Where did they marry? There are two marriage’s for an Alec Evans 5 years either side of the estimated birth of his son, one of these (to a Winifred Watts) is in the same county as the son’s marriage. We could assume that is him, although none of the births we found earlier have the mother’s maiden name as Watts.

So what now? It is of course very possible that Alec married Harold’s mother 10 or 20 years before his birth, or that they married after his birth (if they married at all). Perhaps Harold’s birth is missing from the BMD records. Maybe Harold was born overseas? Maybe Harold’s age is wrong on his marriage certificate? Now this is all starting to get a little confusing. We need to take a step back and re-evaluate.

The truth is simple if you have personal knowledge of the family. The marriage certificate is incorrect. Alec Evans was not Harold John Evans’s father. The marriage we found between Alec Evans and Winifred Watts is the correct one and Winifred was Harold’s mother. She never revealed who his father was, but it was not Alec (who she met 2 years after her son’s birth). Harold’s birth name was Harold John Watts – his birth record is now easy to find, and from that we can carry on tracing the tree backwards. But without that personal knowledge of the family story, it would have been a lot more difficult to locate Harold’s birth.

1. names have been changed for no real reason.

1939 Register

The 1939 Register is a snapshot of live in England and Wales at the beginning of World War II. It was taken on Friday, 29th September, under the National Registration Act of 1939, an Act of Parliament introduced as an emergency measure at the beginning of World War II. The Act also brought in identity cards which had to be carried at all times. It was repealed in 1952 after which it was no longer a requirement to carry identity cards in the UK.

Example of the 1939 Register

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Census Guide for UK & Ireland

In the United Kingdom, a census of the population has been taken every 10 years since 1801, with the exception of 1941 (although a similar register was taken on 29 September 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war).
In Ireland, the census was taken along with the UK census until 1911. No census was taken in Ireland in 1921 because of the Civil War. The first census taken by the Irish government was in 1926.

Census records are released to the public a hundred years after they were taken, meaning the latest census we can view is 1911 (although the 1939 Register is also available for England and Wales). The next full UK census released will be the 1921 census, which is due to be published on 1 January 2022 (though there is growing pressure for it to be released earlier). The next Irish census released will be in January 2027.

Blank 1911 census

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Genealogy Websites

There are a great number of genealogy websites out there. Some offer worldwide coverage, from birth marriage and deaths through census data to passenger lists and newspaper archives. Others focus on one subject or one region, with some focusing on a single town. Many are free and some are either subscription or pay as you go.

Free Sites

Most of these sites are free to search and to view the transcripts of the information. Some require a subscription (or link to a subscription site) to view the original record.

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