Sunday, 10 October 2010

Probate - more please Sir

"Due to a significant increase in the volume of search requests there is currently a delay in the processing of search applications at York Probate Sub Registry. We are taking steps to rectify this and apologise for any inconvenience this delay may cause."
This notice on the website www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/1226.htm should dispel any doubt about the value that genealogists see in probate records. It appeared after Ancestry.co.uk recently placed online
the dataset "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941". Word is that turn-around time in York for people ordering full copies of wills has gone from days to weeks.

The indexing Ancestry has completed on these records is extracting less than half the names they contain. Here's an example from a distant part of my family tree. Ancestry's indexing gives only the deceased name, probate date, death date and place.

There are two other names in the item, Charles Thomas Northwood and Elizabeth Mallaber, both of which strike more of a chord for me than Hannah Northwood.

While indexing these records again manually would be costly, given the decent quality of the text making the whole thing searchable through automated optical character recognition would be a relatively inexpensive and quick means of making these records even more valuable than they have proven to be already.

2 comments:

The Professional Descendant said...

Thanks for posting this. I don't think this message was on the website when I posted my request several weeks ago. My cheque was processed pretty quickly but still waiting for the copy of the will.

I agree that making the Probate Calendar searchable by all names would be extremely useful. However, given the poor quality of the OCR on some other records available on Ancestry, I'm glad that the main names have been indexed manually as otherwise many more relevant names could be missed.

Kirsty

GW said...

This is very useful ... knowing what has not been indexed.I agree that all names, especially since the probate indexes are printed, should be captured in some fashion. While on the subject,this prompts me to suggest all names should be indexed from a record, not just the primary one. Example ... Canadian passenger lists (and Form 30a) in the 1920s and 1930s recorded the name of the person who paid the fare, if different from the immigrant; next of kin in the immigrant's home country are identified, often with an address; and if the immigrant was destined to particular person or address in Canada, this too is recorded. A lot of potentially important information is not being captured. Perhaps our friends at Ancestry will give this some attention.