Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Guinness Roots

John Grenham's Irish Roots column for 1 October lauds how Guinness nurtures the company tradition, then points to "a freely searchable database of more than 20,000 employee files, complete with (accurate!) birth-dates, spouse’s names, dates of joining and dates of death."

Find a Will at the Probate Service for England and Wales

Looking for a post-1996 will and grant of probate as late as September 2014?  Looking for the will of a soldier who died while serving in the British armed forces between 1850 and 1986?

The Find a Will service, now in Beta, from the The Probate Service for England and Wales is available at

As a minimum you need to enter surname and year of death. There's an advanced search where you can narrow the criteria. You always have to specify the year but can scroll back and forth through the years. There's no wildcard search.

The free search gives a list of those who meet the criteria by surname, first name(s), date of probate, probate number, date of death, type of document and, registry. For the armed forces wills you get surname, first name(s), regimental number and date of death.

Ordering a full copy of the will, delivered online, costs £10.

23andMe Offers Canuck Service

Can you spot the difference between these two offers from 23andMe?

The company, which was prohibited by the FDA from offering their health service in the US last fall, now offers the health and ancestry services together through a "Canadian" offshoot. How Canadian is it? Look at the package? See "bienvenue à vous" and "Kit d'ADN". Doesn't that make you proud to be Canadian?

You can find it by going to, which is immediately redirected to I couldn't locate a French language site.

Did you notice any other difference? The price maybe? $199 Canadian for the health and ancestry service, $99 US for the ancestry service.

When the company discontinued the full service last fall the price was $99 US. Why the increase?  If the full service is reinstated in the US will that be the new price for the combined service?

And why does shipping the kit cost $9.95 in the US and $19.95 in Canada? $19.95 is a big improvement over the previous shipping cost to Canada, but why the difference, especially since the spit collection kit used is a Canadian product?

Will we see US residents flocking across the border to collect Canadian kits or find ways through Canada to get around the FDA strictures in this new era of prohibition? Maybe 23andMe is hoping so!

Ancestry has Dorset, England, Wills and Probates, 1565-1858

Ancestry lists this 31,271 record database as updated - I must have missed it previously.

Sourced from the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester most of the wills, including administrations and inventories, in this collection are from the Dorset Archdeaconry. Wills disposing of land and property in more than one archdeaconry are from the Bristol Consistory for records in this collection. Wills may also have been proved in the Court of the Peculiar of Canford Magna and Poole, which had jurisdiction over the parishes of Great Canford and Poole.

Index entries are linked to an image of the original

If you're confused about probate records the Dorset History Centre has an online Guide to Sources (pdf).

Happy Anniversary Family Tree

A landmark for British genealogy, Family Tree, Britain’s first commercially available hobby magazine for family historians and genealogists is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the November issue.
"Family Tree Magazine, as it was then known, made its debut in November 1984, after being put together on a dining-room table in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire using a Brother typewriter!

Today Family Tree remains the UK’s only independent magazine sold in the newstrade for family historians and genealogists. Run by a small team who are passionate about family history, we are still based in the little town of Ramsey but have a worldwide readership. We’re rightly proud of our roots and have published a souvenir November issue to mark our 30th anniversary."
FT has seen a revolution, from the typewriter era when hardly anyone was using a computer for family history, to 1997 when 45% of FT subscribers used a computer as an aid to research, to 2009 when a survey showed it was 97%, and today -- we'd hardly be able to do such a survey without the internet!

British newsstands are now crowded with genealogy magazines. The competition has been good for the magazine, the Brother typewriter is retired; yet throughout FT been a reliable source of news and advice for the British genealogist.

Thanks for the tip to Karen Clare, FT's Assistant Editor.

Benchmarks update for September

Rebounding from the summer lull with major new additions to online databases, TV programs, and Rockstar genealogists, September saw some major gains in Alexa ranking of genealogy websites. has added or updated record collections for a total of 1,837 (1,804). Census & lists account for 164 (159); birth, marriage, & death 1,073 (1,057); probate & court 191 (182); military 124 (123); migration & naturalization 124 (124); and with a change in categories, other 142 (142); miscellaneous 19 (17). slid back in Alexa rank to 4,373 (4,239).

Ancestry sites all advanced in rank: the .com site 634 (651); the site 5,755 (6,138) and the .ca 18,451 (22,127). The number of datasets in the collection grew to 32,405 (32,375); including 1,984 (1,981) for Canada, 1,818 (1,811) for the UK, 141 (141) for Australia and, 25,692 (25,679) for the USA.'s Alexa rank slipped to 7,768 (7,666). slipped further in Alexa rank to 20,373 (18,625) while .com edged back to 70,980 (69,406). had a healthy gain in Alexa rank to 317,792 (401,780).

Family Tree DNA gained back most of the previous month losses in rank to 30,833 (32,161) while claiming a total of 699,630 (696,851) records. 23andMe may have halted the decline 15,800 (15,923) ranked 28,817 (26,466) ; 27,599 (27,594) and, 34,243 (31,460). contains 8,748,345 (8,572,037) digitized pages, an average addition of 5,877 (5,131) pages per day. Check out the recent additions here, (even some from neglected East Anglia, although sadly not Norfolk). Alexa rank advanced 101,320 (110,925). contains 3,328 (3,289) newspapers including 669,698 (669,469) pages for England and 1,727,976 (1,672,744) pages for Canada. The Alexa rank continued a rapid advanced to 16,442 (17,321). claims 332,773 (332,447) total links in 204 (204) categories, with 979 (990) uncategorized; Alexa rank continued to advance to 27,190 (30,076). added records mid-month, now with 241,001,812  (240,217,566) distinct records. Alexa rank 48,360 (51,004). has 976,000 (948,000) gravestone photo records from across Canada. Alexa rank made a huge advance to 355,498 (455,376). had a very substantial advance in rank to 474,578 (566,691). The Canadian Gravemarker Gallery (, with over  ------- (854,000) photographs from across Canada, was not rated (6,748,685) on Alexa.

With a single exception family history society websites increased in popularity.
Among Canadian family history societies ranked 1,605,692 (2,455,914), 2,728,294 (6,716,891), and 344,999 (448,063).
In the US, ranked 420,275 (474,862), ranked 69,126 (82,246), again declined to rank 1,228,249 (877,999).
In the UK, ranked 459,515 (546,878).

And in case you're curious, Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections has 5,957 (5,877) posts; on Alexa the .ca site ranked 190,360 (249,917) thanks to traffic generated by the Rockstar genealogist poll.

Did I miss something significant? If so please post a comment with statistics if applicable.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Findmypast adds 4 million Yorkshire records

The following is from Findmypast: has today, 30 September 2014, published online for the first time almost 4 million parish records in partnership with the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium. The Yorkshire Collection comprises beautiful scanned images of the original handwritten registers held by six Yorkshire archives and spanning the years 1538 to 1989. Fully searchable transcripts of the originals enable anyone to go online and search for their Yorkshire ancestors by name.
The first phase of this landmark project, released today, includes nearly a million parish records from North Yorkshire County Record Office, Doncaster Archives and Local Studies, East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service, Teesside Archives and Sheffield Archives and Local Studies, as well as over 3 million parish records and Bishop’s Transcripts from the Borthwick Institute for Archives (University of York), which cover the whole of Yorkshire including West Yorkshire.
As the provenances of the records are defined by historical, rather than modern boundaries, areas now outside of today’s Yorkshire are also covered, such as County Durham. On completion this will be the most comprehensive online repository of Yorkshire family history records anywhere in the world.

Book Review: Ignored but Not Forgotten: Canada's English Immigrants

Lucille Campey's eleventh book is her third on English immigration to Canada following a series on Scottish immigration. It extends coverage in her previous books in the English series Seeking a Better Future: The English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec and Planters, Paupers, and Pioneers: English Settlers in Atlantic Canada across the Prairie Provinces to the West Coast while summarising the previous works on the East. Additional chapters focus on the 20th century exodus, as a percentage of Canada's population immigration just before World War One far exceeded today's levels, child immigration, the perception of the English immigrant and, the journey to the eventual destination in Canada.
As with her previous books, Lucille has scoured archives in Canada and the UK for material that allows her to illustrate general patterns with anecdotal material bringing out personal stories, all carefully documented in nearly 100 pages of notes and bibliography.
In the census of 1921 Canadian residents born in England outnumbered the Scots and Irish-born combined. But the English in Canada didn't go about trumpeting their Englishness in parades and banquets. The Irish, Scots and Welsh retained homeland patriotic societies and traditions. St George's Societies enjoyed a transient existence but have virtually disappeared as the English chose to integrate into the Canadian mainstream. The English soon saw themselves as Canadians of British origin. Yet, Lucille writes, the English retained an allegiance to their home town, county or region, an interesting observation worth debating.
This book can be recommended to anyone seeking an overview of English migration to Canada and a guide of the many sources for in-depth research.
Ignored but Not Forgotten: Canada's English Immigrants, published by Dundurn, is available in paperback from various booksellers and in eBook formats.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Durham Diocese records at FamilySearch

September 26 saw browse images of various Durham Diocese records added to FamilySearch:

England, Durham Diocese, Renunciations, 1767 and 1794
England, Durham Diocese, Original Will Strays, 1743-1900
England, Durham Diocese, Registered Wills 1526-1858
England, Durham Diocese, Allertonshire Peculiar Stray Probate Bonds, 1732-1768
England, Durham Diocese, Allertonshire Peculiar Administration Bonds and Inventories,
England, Durham Diocese, Probate Inventories, 1676-1846

All are linked to an index on Durham University's website at:

Genealogy at the OPL in October

October is an active month for genealogy at the Ottawa Public Library.

October 2 sees part 1 of Genealogy on the Internet being offered at the Greenboro branch at 10 a.m. - noon.

October 7 has Using Ancestry Library at the new Beaverbook branch from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

October 25 brings outreach officer Stewart Borden from the Archives of Ontario discussing the archives website and interlibrary loan service at the Main Library - 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

October 29 sees part 2 of Genealogy on the Internet offered at the Main Library at 9:30 a.m. - noon.

There are other presentations offered in French.

As always you can book an appointment with one of the OPL's genealogy specialists:

Johanne Chesnichesky at the Cumberland Branch, 613 580-2954 *39884
Diana Hall at the Main Library. 613 580-2424 *32139
Patricia Barlosky at Centrepoints Nepean. 613 580-2424 *41481

Find out more on these and opportunities in November at[0]=taxonomy_vocabulary_21%3A241

Workshop on Upper Canada & Canada West Research: Call For Speakers

Speaker opportunity notice.

Toronto Branch OGS and the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library will be co-sponsoring a one-day workshop on pre-Confederation Ontario family history and local history research. Speakers are sought.

The topic is broad but lectures should emphasize sources, research techniques, or historical background that will be helpful in research — or a combination of the above. Workshop attendees will all be active  researchers. You are invited to submit proposals for lectures on any aspect of pre-1867 genealogical or local history research that fits the above criteria.

We need lectures for audiences at all levels of expertise. Each session will be one hour long, including five to ten minutes for questions. Lectures should be illustrated – we will provide a computer projector and a laptop for use in the sessions. Speakers will also be expected to provide a 
handout of supporting material (up to four pages), which we will photocopy for all registrants.

Speakers will be paid $100 per lecture hour, plus modest expenses for travel and accommodation.

Please submit your lecture proposals by e-mail. Keep them brief and informal, at this point. (We may ask for more details later.) Be sure to include your mailing address, phone number and a brief bio with your proposal.


To submit proposals or ask questions about the event, please contact Jean McNulty at

To learn more about the Toronto Branch OGS, please go to the home page of our website at

Sunday, 28 September 2014

British Home Child Day

Today, Sunday 28 September is British Home Child Day in Ontario. Jumping the gun the Ontario East British Home Child Family,Township of Athens & Athens Heritage Society jointly sponsored a commemoration event in Athens on Saturday, 27 September.
Following a opening event with local dignitaries attended by about 65 people activities took place in three locations. The role of British Home Children in World War 1 was remembered.
Local organizations, which included BIFHSGO and OGS, mounted displays at the Joshua Bates Centre. In this photo you can just see a corner of the British Home Child quilt. John Sayers was on hand to help people with their research.
There were several home child trunks on display. I had forgotten that being so close to Brockville many of the children settled in the area came from Scotland with the Quarriers organization. Also on display were miniatures of medals awarded to Home Child VC winner Claude Nunnery.
A special display mounted at the Athens Museum included this list of some home children settled in the Athens area.
I didn't have the opportunity to visit the third venue, the Baptist Church, where a series of set presentations and an open mic opportunity were featured.
The total attendance likely exceeded 100.

UPDATE:  Find additional photos from the event at

Kirsty Gray in Ottawa

A date for your diary:

Sunday, November 2
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Woodroffe United Church, Banquet Hall, 207 Woodroffe Ave.
UK Rockstar Genealogist Kirsty Gray will deliver two lectures:
Searching for Names: Challenges, Pitfalls and the Downright Ridiculous
Solving Problems Through Family Reconstruction.

This event is sponsored by OGS Ottawa Branch and BIFHSGO. Admission is $10 per person at the door. A break with light refreshments will be served between the two lectures.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Remains of WW1 Canadian soldiers identified

Eight years after they were discovered mitochrondrial DNA from the remains of four soldiers of the 78th Battalion, Clifford Neelands, Lachlan McKinnon, William Simms and John Oscar Lindell, has enabled them to be identified.
Another body is thought to be that of Albert Edward Ahmed, a Barnardo's home child.

Three additional soldiers remain unidentified. All eight are believed to have died during the Battle of Amiens in 1918.

Friday promise doesn't last

On September 19 Findmypast announced:

Every Friday from now on, we will be bringing you thousands of new records to explore over the weekend on our dedicated Findmypast Fridays page
One week later the "announcement" is about a school admission dataset released days earlier! Was it released prematurely? Or was something else not delivered on time? Just asking.

Did Your Ancestor Play Cricket?

CricketArchive aims is to provide "a comprehensive archive of cricket scorecards and player information. We aim to include the details of as many matches, players, grounds, leagues, tournaments as possible."
Much of the content is current. Historical material, which may contain information on cricket matches that have been played in a community of interest (including Ottawa) or on a cricket-playing ancestor, is included. Search from