26 April 2006

Lewis' 1840 map of England & Wales

An incredibly detailed high quality map, Lewis' 1840 map of England & Wales is available on-line free courtesy of David Hale of Mapco


25 April 2006

British History Online

Its easy to forget about sources you visited once and to which you meant to return. British History Online is one such, a free digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.

An initiative of the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, the site promotes the study of history by publishing often rare resources for their historical value, cross-searchable, in one place and without charge. Registration is asked.

Additions in April include:
Samuel Lewis's dictionary of Scottish places (1846);
Eneas Mackenzie's 1827 account of the city of Newcastle;
Later records of the barony of Appleby, published by the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society;
Volumes 3 and 4 of the Victorian County History for Worcestershire
Volumes 3 and 4 of the Victoria County History for Surrey
Volume 2 of the Victorian County History for Hertfordshire and North London
Volume 3 of the Victorian County History for Berkshire
Victorian County History for metropolitan Essex and East London
Victorian County History for Winchester and the Isle of Wight

24 April 2006


Cambridgeshire is an eastern county bordering both Norfolk and Suffolk. North lies Lincolnshire, south is Essex and Herts, west is Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, and Northamptonshire. It had an area of 2,331 sq kilometres in the early 20th century, but lost nearly 12% in the 1974 redistribution.

For statistical purposes the county is often combined with Huntingdonshire, the Isle of Ely and the Soke of Peterborough. The total population, under 200,000 in 1801, had more than doubled by 1851, exceeded one million in 1921, 1.5 million by 1971 before slipping below one million again with the realignment of counties.

A 2004 estimate placed the population of Cambridgeshire alone at 738,000. It ranked 15th by area and 29th by population amongst English counties.

The County Record Office is located in Cambridge. There is a basic web site, and the catalogue is available through Access to Archives. Check the web site for a list of parish registers for most Cambridgeshire parishes, and also microfilms of many Huntingdonshire parish registers. There are indexed transcripts of registers and bishop’s transcripts for many of these same Cambridgeshire and Huntingtonshire parishes. Similar records and indexes exist for non-conformist churches and chapels. The holdings also include a full set of census enumerators schedules (1841 - 1901). Other resources include:
Transcripts of monumental inscriptions, war memorials, etc.
Boyd’s index of marriages in Cambridgeshire
Indexes of baptisms and burials in Cambridgeshire 1801-37
Probate records (wills, administrations, inventories) of the Courts of the Consistory of Ely, the Archdeaconry of Ely and the Peculiar of Thorney.
Microfilm of probate records of the court of the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University.

The county is served by the large and active Cambridgeshire Family History Society.

No particularly significant group migration from the county to Canada has been located. However, it was one of the counties that contributed to the Puritan emigration to Massechusetts

Reference Web Sites

Cambridgeshire Family History Society

County Record Office Cambridge

GENUKI (Cambridgeshire)

Victorian County History: Cambridgeshire

200 Years of the Census in Cambridgeshire

23 April 2006

St George's Day

As a modest contribution to celebrating the day for the patron saint of England, here are the words to a Michaeil Flanders and Donald Swan classic,

Song of Patriotic Predjudice.

The English, the English, the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

The rottenest bits of these islands of our
We've left in the hands of three unfriendly powers
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot

You'll find he's a stinker, as likely as not

The Scotsman is mean, as we're all well aware
And bony and blotchy and covered in hair
He eats salty porridge, he works all the day
And he hasn't got bishops to show him the way.

The English, the English, the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

The Irishman now our contempt is beneath
He sleeps in his boots and he lies through his teeth
He blows up policemen, or so I have heard
And blames it on Cromwell and William the Third!

The English are noble, the English are nice
And worth any other at double the price.

The Welshman's dishonest, he cheats when he can
And little and dark, more like monkey than man
He works underground with a lamp in his hat
He sings far too loud, far too often, and flat!

And crossing the channel, one cannot say much
For the French or the Spanish, the Danish or Dutch
The Germans are German, the Russians are red
And the Greeks and Italians eat garlic in bed!

The English are moral, the English are good
And clever, and modest, and misunderstood!

And all the world over, each nation's the same
They've simply no notion of playing the game
They argue with umpires, they cheer when they've won
And they practice beforehand, which ruins the fun!

The English, the English, the English are best
So up with the English, and down with the rest.

It's not that there wicked, or naturally bad
It's knowing they're foreign that makes them so mad!

22 April 2006

Encyclopedia of Genealogy

Who is the best known North American genealogist on the Internet? There are two top candidates in my book, and if you answered Dick Eastman you'd be in good company. He's been publishing Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for a decade. Both free and subscription versions keep readers updated with what's new in family history, and in associated technology.

Less well know is his Encyclopedia of Genealogy. Like the Wikipedia its a Web 2.0 collaborative project. It will remain a work in progress. You can browse an index of entries or search terms in the full text. Anyone is free to contribute a new article, or edit an existing one. If you see something missing, or an article which needs improvement, feel free.

In fact free is the operative word. It costs nothing to use or contribute. By the same token, its not extensively reviewed information. Caveat Emptor.

21 April 2006

Gardiners Atlas of English History

From an unlikely source in Michigan, this site presents 88 maps, including: Roman Britain - ca 400; England in 626; England and the French possessions of William I; England during the War of the Roses; Ireland 1641 - 1892; Glencoe 1691; the World 1772; Central and Western Europe 1815; Seige of Quebec 1759.


20 April 2006

OGS Seminar

I'm looking forward to attending the annual Seminar, being organized this year by the Durham Branch of the OGS at Durham College, Oshawa, 26-28 May. The theme is "From Buggy Whips ... to Microchips". Bob Dawes, Richard Doherty, Jane MacNamara, Sharon Murphy, Rick Roberts, Gary Schroder, Louise St Denis and Ryan Taylor are just a few of the speakers, folks who have spoken in Ottawa in the past year. I'm also looking forward to hearing George Morgan, Marian Press and Linda Reid.

For more information click here.

19 April 2006

FREECEN 1841 Census - Scotland

The volunteer FREECEN project has some 1841 census partial transcritions available including several for Scotish counties not to become available soon on Ancestry. 100% complete are the counties of: Aberdeenshire, Angus, Banffshire, Bute, Cornwall, East Lothian, Kinross-shire, Mairn, Warwickshire and Wigtonshire. More than 60% complete are: Argyllshire, Ayrshire, Caithness, Inverness-shire, Kincardineshire, Midlothian, Renfrewshire, Roxburghshire, West Lothian. http://www.freecen.org.uk/

18 April 2006

17 April 2006


Buckinghamshire's land area is 1,940 sq kilometres, much longer north-south than broad. It borders on Middlesex to the south making it a Home County. The population, a little over 100,000 in 1801, doubled by 1911, grew by 100,000 per decade starting in the 1950s, lost area and population by the reorganization of counties in 1974, and had grown again to 480,000 by the 2001 census.

The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (CBS), opened in 2002, is located at County Hall in Aylesbury. It provides the normal services of a county record office, and more. Parish (baptism, marriage burial, and in come cases banns) and non-conformist registers are held. There is an online list of parishes and holdings. Other holding of interest to the researcher are: Quarter Sessions Records containing thousands of names of Buckinghamshire people appearing as jurors, licensees, and felons, published in seven volumes (with indexes) for the years 1678-1730; wills proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Buckingham date from 1483-1858; marriage licences dating from 1663 to 1849,; settlement and apprenticeship papers with name indexes; title deeds and manorial records; inclosure awards; tithe maps; valuation maps; and electoral registers.

The web site of the CBS has some special resources well worth exploring:
- a listing of county newspapers, note that they may be held elsewhere in the county;
- a database of prisoners entering the County Gaol in Aylesbury in the 1870s, often including age, birthplace and residence. You may be surprised to find a photo of an ancestor who served time;
- a database of 5,000 entries from Buckinghamshire trade directories indexed for 1792, 1798, 1811, 1824 and 1832;
- more than 20,000 historic photographs.

Many of the holdings are also entered in Access to Archives.

The county is served by two societies: the Buckinghamshire Family History Society and the Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society. The former is nearly thirty years old, the latter was founded more recently. Likely the existance of two societies reflects a particular aspect of local history.

No particularly significant group migration from the county to Canada has been located.

Reference Web Sites

Buckinghamshire Family History Society

Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society

Buckinghamshire Memorials to Canada's Fallen

Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies

GENUKI (Buckinghamshire)

200 Years of the Census in Buckinghamshire

16 April 2006

Online parish clerk

More websites for online parish clerks are cropping up. These are transcriptions of parish records for, usually, a small community, or group of communities, done by a local person. Being local chances are they know the names and can avoid some transcription errors made by those without that advantage.

The site for the Online Parish Clerk for Helston, St Cleer & St Martin in Meneage, Cornwall, UK, is a good recent example. Here are direct links to the transcripts of the Parish records and Bishops’ Transcripts for Helston, St. Cleer and St. Martin in Meneage.

15 April 2006

The ghosts of Ypres past return

The BBC is reporting that a group of amateur historians have found the remains of three soldiers from the First World War. Although two of the bodies bore no identification, a third was found with a badly corroded tag which they deciphered as number, 8372, and a surname, Lancaster. He is provisionally identified as Private Richard Lancaster, of the Lancashire Fusiliers. Based on information from the 1901 census, they believe he was born in Preston in 1883 and died on 10 November 1914 during the First Battle of Ypres.

14 April 2006


Scanning the new entries in Cyndi's List up popped a listing for "Genealogy research on ancestors of Walker and Palmer families in eastern Canada, New England and the British Isles". The names mentioned looked familiar, so I clicked and found a newly updated site by David Walker, formerly webmaster for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa. The design is clean and navigation intuitive, worth a visit if you have: Walker, Palmer, Durgan, Cairns, Clark(e), Towns(h)end, Converse, Read, Seaman, Crawford, Slocum, Coy, Wallace, Cannon, Cor(e)y, Dyer,
Blanchard in your family tree, of you are interested in a group that meets to discuss The Master Genealogist in the Ottawa area, or if you simply want to see a cleanly designed web site.

13 April 2006

Thin pickings at the OPL

Periodically I like to check out what's new in the Ottawa Public Library catalogue as far at genealogy and family history is concerned. Searching those subjects, so far this year only one new 2006 publication is listed, a reference holding in the Ottawa Room.

Pioneer families of Cyrville, Gloucester Township / Robert Serré.

12 April 2006


Looking for historical documents, personal papers and family histories to help your research? Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives have contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid. Using ArchiveGrid you can learn about the many items in each of these collections, contact the archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and order copies.

ArchiveGrid is available to both individuals and institutions free of charge through May 31st. If additional grants funds or sponsorship are obtained, ArchiveGrid will remain free of charge; otherwise subscriptions will be available for institutions and individuals alike. There are thousands of contributors to ArchiveGrid

10 April 2006


Berkshire's land area, 1,847 sq kilometres, puts it in the middle rank of counties. It's proximity to London means a population density higher than the national average and concentrated in the eastern part of the county. The population has continued to grow in every census, and exploded after 1931 with the development in the east of the county. The old county lost territory in 1974, including the former county town of Abingdon.

Established in 1948 the Berkshire Record Office is at its third location, now on the western edge of Reading town centre, on the corner of Coley Avenue and Castle Hill/Bath Road (A4). It has an array of genealogical resources typical of a CRO: parish registers; other parish records such as settlement and removal papers, apprenticeship indentures and bastardy orders; a limited number of non-parochial registers; the IGI for the area; census return for 1841 to 1901; pre-1859 indexed wills and admons granted by the archdeacon of Berkshire's court 1508-1857 and wills for the peculiar of Faringdon 1547-1853 (other Berkshire wills, proved in higher church courts, are
held at Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office (to 1836), Oxfordshire Record Office (1836-1857) and in the PCC collection); workhouse and school records; tithe and inclusure maps and records; poll books and electoral registers; directories, maps and a selection of national indexes.

The web site includes a search facility for finding both parochial and non-parochial records which includes a note on major gaps in the records.

My own experience with this record office, which goes back to its previous location at Shire Hall, was of the helpfulness of the staff in assisting me find information on a farm for which one of my ancestors' was bailiff in the 1830s

The catalogue of holdings may also be found at the Access to Archives database. The collections gateway web site offers single ‘first point of call’ for anyone seeking
to locate information on research collections held by Berkshire and Reading

The Berkshire Family History Society is active, and issued the 4th edition of their county burial index on CD, with over 420,000 entries, in December 2005.

No particularly significant migration from the county to Canada has been located.

Reference Web Sites

Berkshire Family History Society

Berkshire Record Office

Collections Gateway

GENUKI (Berkshire)

200 Years of the Census in Berkshire

09 April 2006

Another reason to say YES

Dick Eastman has an item today about volunteers from the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society who are trying to identify remains of a First World War soldier found last year in Belgium, along with a wallet inscribed "Central Bank Santa Barbara, Cal". They are searching census records as an aid. This is another example of how census records can be more useful for more than their original purpose, and why it would be a good idea to tick YES to informed consent on the 2006 census. Find Dick Eastman's article here

07 April 2006

Canada Census 2006 - why YES

Why should you answer YES to the 'informed consent' question on 2006 Census? The greatest value of Census records to researchers is in their 'completeness'. If significant numbers of respondents answer negatively, or do not answer this question at all, it will destroy the completeness of the records, and thus their value to genealogical or historical researchers will be forever destroyed. If certain kinds of persons do not answer this question, research based on 100% nominal census data will be biased and its value therefore compromised. The following list shows only a few examples of where Historic Census has been used successfully to benefit people today:

  • For genealogical research. To find information about ancestors you may or may not have previously known existed. To find the make-up of their families and how they evolved through successive Censuses. To learn where they lived, what their occupations were, when and where they were born, ethnic origins, education and religion, etc.
  • For sociological, demographic, economic and historic research: historical information on the social structure of Canada - sizes of families, age groupings of children, grandparents/siblings at home, servants and other household attendants, education, religious affiliation, race, ethnic origins, housing, business and agriculture production, immigration, patterns of migration, etc. Historical Census data, especially long-term Census data series, allow us to research patterns of economic and social inequality, and to examine the roots of important family patterns such as living alone, single-parent families and blended families.
  • To verify age, or date of birth where other sources are unavailable. This has been used to establish eligibility for pensions, etc.
  • To prove identity to obtain legal documents, i.e. passports, birth certificates etc.
  • To determine descendancy to settle estates where no will has been found.
  • To provide clues to genetically inherited diseases or disabilities.
  • To show proof of residency in order to prove land or property title.
  • To establish legal entitlement as a member of a group, i.e. as a Native Indian.
  • To verify group residency or land use to settle Aboriginal land claims.
  • To verify current owners of properties, or heirs of same, where property is to be sold for non-payment of taxes.
  • To establish or verify original owners of rights of way, mineral rights, or foreshore rights.
  • To ensure your place in the history of Canada

  • This text is taken from Gordon Watt's posting at: http://www.globalgenealogy.com/Census/Census2006.htm

    More Ontario Directories

    The Toronto Public Library (reference Library) continue their digitization program. Here are some additional newly digitized Ontario directories:

    Vernon's Town of Owen Sound, street, alphabetical, business and miscellaneous directory 1917

    Vernon's city of St. Catharines street, alphabetical, business and miscellaneous directory - 1916

    Vernon's city of St. Thomas street, alphabetical, business and miscellaneous directory - 1916

    Vernon's city of Sarnia and Pt. Edward street : alphabetical, business and miscellaneous directory - 1917

    Vernon's town of Brockville street, alphabetical business and miscellaneous directory. - 1911

    Vernon's City of St. Thomas, street, alphabetical, business and miscellaneous directory 1919

    06 April 2006

    OPL Bureaucracy

    Most of the year I'm an enthusiastic supporter of public libraries. I borrow a fair number of books from the Ottawa Public Library, not each week but certainly every month. Local library staff are almost invariably helpful. I use the library's on line resources, especially newspaper archives, every couple of days. For communities, like Ottawa, with an economy based on the skills of knowledge workers, the library is at the heart of maintaining a continuous learning environment, together with educational institutions.

    A few days ago my on line access to library databases stopped working. Was it time for the annual renewal of my card? I couldn't tell as the system wouldn't let me in to check! There had been no warning that the card was about to expire. It just stopped working. Its almost the only service I know of where no warning is given of expiry. The driver license people send renewal notices, so do the vehicle license folks and the health agency to remind that a new card with another awful picture is needed. Revenue Canada, I know, they have another cooler name now, are always prompt in sending reminders that tax returns and installments are due. Perversely, the tax return reminder used to be timed to arrive just before Christmas.

    But I digress.

    Last year when this happened I called the library and was told I had to present myself at a branch to have my card renewed. Why? In case I had outstanding fines. In case I had changed my address and telephone number. I pointed out that these could be checked from their own files and canada411 automatically without needing to have me come in. It happens I live about as far from a library branch as you can get in the urban part of Ottawa; to go to a library is no gentle stroll, and the bus service is impossible -- I may as well go downtown. None of my suggestions last year did any good. I pointed out that if they switched to online renewal they could save employee time and create an environmental benefit by reducing kilometres driven. The argument that if they only required in person renewal every two years, as does San Diego, or every three years, as Dallas, it would save half the effort or more, was a waste of energy. The folks at the desk seemed not to be empowered to do anything about it. More senior staff must believe they have plenty of staff and see no need to be more efficient, even though Ottawa has one of the lowest per capita library budgets in Ontario. But it must be how they've always done it and being more efficient and client friendly isn't a priority -- seemingly. But isn't that just the way a bureaucracy operates?

    05 April 2006

    Times Digital Archive - plus

    Once again this year the Gale Group, part of the Thomson chain, are making available a selection of databases for a limited time. In previous years free access has been offerred for one week in April. This year access is for all of April. As the resources include the Times Digital Archive, which is a complete run of the Times of London, fully searchable, this is a significant benefit for many genealogists with British roots. Check it out at


    04 April 2006

    After the Census

    Ancestry.com and other commercial genealogical companies have almost finished the process of putting the available English and Welsh census data, 1841 to 1901, on line or on CD. Ancestry are advertising that the 1841 census will be on line later this month. Now what? This is a competitive business where you have to run just to keep up. The market is good. Baby boomers are reaching the age where they get interested in family history, but they also have great expectations for new sources.

    Some would say it would be a good idea to spend effort to correct the errors in the work already done. If you found an error in the census did you send a correction? It doesn't take much effort, at least at the Ancestry site.

    Dick Eastman had a recent item on his blog (newsletter) that 1837online.com has signed an agreement with The National Archives to digitize and index passenger lists. That would be welcome, but my preference would be to see work done to get the calendars to the civil probate records online. Wills are a rich source for family history as they often include mention of two or more generations of a family. I was told by a usually reliable source that Court Service, the UK organization who hold these records, are not interested as genealogy is such a small part of their business. Let's hope someone with clout comes along to change that attitude. Someone surely remembers the phrase -- there's gold in them thar' wills?

    03 April 2006


    This is one in a series of items focusing on British counties, starting at the beginning of the alphabet in England.
    Bedfordshire's land area, 1,235 sq kilometres, makes it one of the smaller counties of England; less than half the size of the present City of Ottawa. The population, 50,000 in 1800, grew to around 150,000 in the first half of the 20th century, then ballooned following the Second World War to near 380,000 by the end of the century.
    The Bedfordshire Record Office, now known as the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Record Service (the acronym is a rather uninspiring BLARS), was the first county record office in England. It is located in Bedford, the County Town. The BLARS web site boasts of their service quality, recognised by the award of a Charter Mark in 1993, 1996 and 1999, the only archives service in the country to gain the award three times.
    A section on the BLARS web site is for genealogy. It includes links to information on: adoption records, Anglican parish registers, the Bedfordshire parish register series, burial indexes, cemetery records, census return by paridh, monumental inscriptions, non-Anglican registers, non-conformist register transcripts, non-ecclestiacal birth and death registers, occupations, register of electors, soldiers' letters, unusual cernsus returns and population lists. Although not mentioned under genealogy there are also holdings of pre-1868 probate records and land registration also of interest for family history.

    A partial catalogue of holding may be found at the Access to Archives database as well as at the BLARS web site.

    No particularly significant migration from the county to Canada has been located.

    Reference Web Sites

    GENUKI (Bedfordshire)
    Bedfordshire and Luton Archives

    Bedfordshire Family History Society

    Vision of Britain (Bedfordshire)

    02 April 2006

    Timespan for a generation

    What's the average length of a generation in your family tree? The Rootsweb DNA newsgroup has been buzzing with debate on this seemingly simple question. Its not something I'd thought too much about -- I've used 25 years as an approximation as it makes the mental arithmetic easy, while realizing the actual value is probably a bit larger.
    By generation we mean the average interval of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring. The newsgroup debate raised some red herrings, including life expectancy which is dominated by child mortality. Some were concerned about trends in age of marriage.
    I did the calculation for my own paternal line using the father's date of birth and was surprised to find the generations averaged nearly 38 years! Along that line, but using the mother's birthday, the average per generation was nearly 35 years. My ancestors for several generations were younger sons of large families. The difference isn't too surprising as men tend to marry women a couple of years younger, and can keep fathering children longer, but I was surprised the generation span was so large.
    Along my maternal line, using the fathers' birth dates, the generations were 27 years, the mothers' 26 years, much more like my supposition.
    To get a good average you need a lot of data. In issue 36 of Your Family Tree Magazine, the April issue, there's a short article on the world's longest genealogy, 86 generations starting with the four times great grandfather of Chinese philosopher Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC). Apparently there are seven direct descendants alive today, and undoubtedly many more who are undocumented. In round figures that's 80 generations in 2,500 years, or about 31 years per generation.
    I shall be using 30 years per generation for rough calculations from now on. 25 years is a good rough estimate of the parents age at the birth of the first child.

    01 April 2006


    LAC has placed three new databases on the Canadian Genealogy Centre web site.

    1. The Montreal Emigrant Society Passage Book, comprising 1,945 references to people who received aid from the Montreal Emigrant Society between May 12 and November 5, 1832.
    2. Upper Canada and Canada West Naturalization Records (1828-1850), 3,344 references organized by years and county; and
    3. Port of New Westminster Register of Chinese Immigration (1887-1908) with 470 references.
    Access the above is through a new on line exhibition "Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience" at < www.collectionscanada.ca/immigrants/index-e.html >.