The 1991 census at www.1911census.co.uk seems to have settled down well and avoided the problem of the 1901 census release. All of England is now available, but we are still waiting for Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and some naval and military records.
We are still only able to see the page for each household, and will have to wait for the enumerator’s summary pages.
Some idea of what these contain can be gained from the Irish 1911 census, which is now becoming available at www.census.nationalarchives.ie. Ireland was one country in 1911, and the first pages available are for the counties of Antrim, Down, Dublin and Kerry. Access is free, and all the pages can be viewed. The 1991 census for Ireland included questions on religious belief and literacy, and there is also information about the number of rooms in each building, the type of construction, and “class of house”.
Indexes to some Irish births, marriages and deaths are now available on the new Family Search website at http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch. Access is again free of charge, although you will need to purchase the certificates to get the full details and to confirm that you have found the right person. There is no indication on how complete the database is, so you should use it with care, but I certainly found some people I was looking for. The website for ordering copies of Irish certificates is at www.groireland.ie/, while for Northern Ireland you should use www.groni.gov.uk.
The indexes to New Zealand birth marriage and death records can be found at http://bdmhistoricalrecords.identityservices.govt.nz/Home/. Records date from the middle of the nineteenth century, but there are time limits of 100 years for births, 80 years for marriages and 50 years for deaths before information is available. Printouts of the full information, or a full certificate, are available to order, and the indexes themselves provide more information than is available for England & Wales.
Staying in New Zealand, the personal family history website of Patsy McMillan at www.genebug.net contains an index to the Gloucestershire Summary Convictions Register 1853-1879, and also Inquests from the Gloucester Journal 1722 to 1838. These reports cover many events from the Bristol and Avon area, and are a useful source of information.
If you have any questions about the information available on certificates for England & Wales, you may like to look at Barbara Dixon’s website at http://home.clara.net/dixons/Certificates/bmdcerts.htm. My only caveat is that the site was written in 2003, and there have been changes since then. In particular, the specific website for ordering certificates online is now at www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/, although further information can now be found at www.direct.gov.uk under the sub-headings “Government Citizens and Rights”, followed by “Registering Life Events”.
The Family Relatives website at www.familyrelatives.com has recently had a redesign and expanded its range of data. In particular, there is lots more military data and information from directories, both general and professional. An annual subscription currently costs £30, and there are pay-per-view options for more casual users, although these do not include all the data.
Many parishes have on-line parish clerks, and their websites can often contain a lot of family history information, or tell you where it can be found. The Somerset OPC website at http://wsom-opc.org.uk is the umbrella site which lists all the working parish websites in the county. At present, only 136 of the 620 parishes have on-line clerks, but if your interests extend to Timsbury, Newton St Loe, Camerton or elsewhere in Somerset, you may find something of interest.
Finding burials can be difficult, especially in urban areas from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. There are many cemeteries to choose from, and people were not always buried near where they died. Records are seldom available online. A new commercial website called Deceased Online aims to bring together records from cemeteries and crematoria throughout the U.K. It has a long way to go, but it already has over 300,000 records available, and searching is simple and free. It costs £1.50 to see a transcription or scanned image of a record, and there are prices for photographs of graves and maps showing grave locations. You can find the site at http://www.deceasedonline.com/.
The website with information about the frequency and location of particular surnames is now hosted by the National Trust and can be found at www.nationaltrustnames.org.uk/. You can check the distribution of a surname in the 1881 census and in the 1998 electoral roll.
My Journal colleague Pat Lindegaard has started a blog about Bristol family history, where you can post messages, data and enquiries. You can find it at www.bristolfamilyhistory.co.uk. As well as some queries about the Pillinger family, you will find data about Bristol Jews of the 18th and 19th century, some Bristol strays, and some 1837 obituaries.
Finally, a reminder about the three RootsWeb mailing lists which cover our area. They are Gloucestershire, Bristol & Somerset, and Bristol & District, and details can be found at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Membership is free, and the mailing lists can be a very useful source of advice about particular localities and sources. One useful spin-off is an annual bunfight for all with family interests in Bristol, Somerset and Gloucestershire. This year’s event is being held at The George, Abbots Leigh on 26th September. Please contact Liz Newbery (email@example.com) who is organising this year's event if you are interested in attending. This could be the opportunity to meet some very distant cousins.