There is a lot to get through in this edition, so the details I can give will be a little briefer than usual.
The later nineteenth century is the simplest period to deal with for the family historian. The census shows the family unit, while the GRO records give us the details of individual lives. Ecclesiastical records provide an added source, as do wills, newspapers and military records.
We are all aware of Bristol’s role in the slave trade, and that many of the wealthy residents of our area made their fortunes from it. It is less well-known that, when slavery in the British Empire was made illegal in 1833, slave owners were compensated by the government for their loss. Some of the sums received were considerable.
Recent issues of the monthly family history magazines have been full of what the websites will be offering new in 2013. I don’t have the benefit of the press releases, so what you read here is what is available now.
First, some financial news. Ancestry, the family history website, has been sold for $1.6 billion (about £1 billion) to Permira, a European private equity fund. The Ancestry headquarters will remain in Provo, Utah, U.S., and the present senior executives of Ancestry will retain a financial interest, but this could lead to some interesting developments in the future.
Wills are one of the major sources used in genealogy, and since 1858 all wills in England and Wales have been proved by the civil authorities and recorded in a central calendar. Until recently there was no online index where quick and easy searches could be made. Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) originally compiled a partial index based on a selection of calendars they had obtained, but this has now been expanded into a full index covering the years 1858 to 1966. Look for the National Probate Calendar under “View all new records”.
We start this issue with some news from FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org). New data in considerable amounts is being added every week, but only some of this relates to the U.K. and only a fraction of that is relevant to our area. However, it is an interesting indication of the way that the website is going
These articles usually concentrate on the latest developments at the major subscription sources, accompanied by details of smaller, free websites. This month, I am going to start with a new site which is quite expensive to use, but which can be invaluable if your research takes you in particular directions. It is the new archive of British newspapers at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.
For some time, the only way to see General Register Office records of births, marriages and deaths online was through FreeBMD (http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/). This volunteer project is transcribing the GRO indexes, starting at 1837. Now that Ancestry, Findmypast and other online sources have got indexes to the same records, it is time to take another look at FreeBMD and see what progress has been made, and whether it is still useful.