Just before starting to write this article, it was announced that the next phase of the expansion of Know Your Place (www.kypwest.org.uk/) had occurred. The site now covers the council areas of Bristol, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bath & North East Somerset. Further expansion to include Somerset and North Somerset is planned. A more detailed report can be found elsewhere in this Journal.
While Know Your Place is the most useful website for detailed maps of our area, there are other useful websites with wider coverage. The National Library of Scotland has digitised Ordnance Survey maps from the nineteenth century onwards, and although the best coverage is naturally of Scotland, there is good coverage of England and Wales and further afield. The original 6 inch to the mile maps are used, which gives a lot of detail, and it is easy to move around an area and enlarge the image. These maps are available at http://maps.nls.uk/. As ever with maps, once you start looking at them, you can while away hours.
If you want to see tithe maps, then these are now available for England and Wales at The Genealogist (www.thegenealogist.co.uk/). The website has both the map and the tithe apportionment details, with a link between the two. Even if your ancestors lived in a small cottage, the details may be available here. Unfortunately, tithe records are only available with the top level diamond subscription.
The FamilySearch website has some maps of particular interest to family historians since they show parish boundaries overlaid on maps and modern aerial photographs. For each parish, a table shows the names of administrative area such as probate court, Poor Law Union and hundred, and the maps are particularly useful for disentangling more complicated parishes and identifying neighbouring parishes to the one you are most interested in. These maps can best be found direct at http://maps.familysearch.org, rather than through the main FamilySearch website.
Another announcement which arrived when I had already started writing is that Deceased Online (www.deceasedonline.com/) now included nearly 200,000 records from BANES municipal cemeteries. Basic information, such as date and place of burial, are free on Deceased Online, but you have to pay to access more detail such as the names of others buried in the same grave. Cremations at Haycombe are included, and I saw records for Twerton (Bellots Road) and St James cemeteries. Other cemeteries such as Harptree and Bathwick will be added in due course. A wider range of burial information for Bath is available in the Bath Burial Index, which is available free of charge on the Bath record Office website (www.batharchives.co.uk/). This contains over 244,000 entries and has been developed by Philip Bendall and compiled with the help of various organisations. Note that this index covers Bath only, but includes churches of various denominations, while the Deceased Online index covers the municipal cemeteries only.
Finding some graves by chance in a Somerset churchyard led me to check a family in the 1939 Register, and this in turn led to a search for a marriage of an Iris Coney to a man with the surname Glynn-Baker, probably on 22nd August 1945. A search on Findmypast (www.findmypast.co.uk) brought up no results, but a search on Ancestry gave this result, found in the Andrews Newspaper Index Cards
As always in family history, you get the answer to one question and this just raises more. The Andrews Newspaper Index Cards are held by the Institute for Heraldic & Genealogical Studies, and are said to provide information you won’t find anywhere else. That was certainly true in this case, and the cards also provided information about two children born to the Glynn-Bakers in Bulawayo. However, I am confused by the idea of a proxy wedding ceremony, something I had not come across before. A quick internet search reveals that they are not possible under English law, which makes it surprising that it was acceptable in the circumstances given. They are lawful in some parts of the United States, and are apparently popular with U.S. service people stationed overseas, and they are possible in some other cultures and countries.
The other question it raises is how the holders of the 1939 Register knew about the marriage, why it was important to record the information, and what the significance of the 1945 date was.
Another curious experience I had recently with the 1939 Register was to discover a duplicate entry. My great-aunt Mabel Thorne and her husband Leonard are listed at their expected address in Bournemouth, and the details of their two children are blanked out since they were born in the 1920s. However, Leonard R. Thorne, a bus driver, is also listed on another page. He is shown with the correct address against his name, but the other names listed are in different streets. In fact, most of the names have been crossed through, as though those listed were all children. The other people shown are a fairly random selection of ages and occupations. I sent Findmypast an e-mail asking for an explanation, but they were unable to give one.
Few of us can claim kinship with the nobility and gentry – well, I can’t – but sometimes our researches take us into such areas of genealogy. I have previously mentioned The Peerage (www.thepeerage.com) which has been compiled by Darryl Lundy in New Zealand and currently lists details of over 687,000 individuals. That remains a good starting place, although it has a lot of loose ends. Recently I came across the website Landed Families of Britain and Ireland (http://landedfamilies.blogspot.co.uk/) which offers similar information, but with a parallel and perhaps greater interest in the houses where they lived. It is being compiled by Nick Kingsley who lives in Clevedon and is a retired senior archivist. This is a big project, but very thorough, and there is a long way to go.
Having lately discovered that my wife has a second cousin who is a farmer in Nempnett Thrubwell, I have been tracing details of the family using BathBMD (www.bathbmd.org.uk/). This is the local index to civil registration records, and its usual advantage is that it always shows the age at death, the mother’s maiden name for all births, and the spouse’s full name for all marriages. Nempnett Thrubwell was originally in the Clutton registration district, but became part of Norton Radstock R.D. in 1936 and is now in the Harptree sub-district of Norton Radstock. This helps in focussing on relevant data, but there is a problem with marriages. Nempnett Thrubwell is a very small parish, and appears to be still using the original church registers. When a marriage takes place, a copy of the certificate is sent to the GRO, but the register office in Bath is not notified until the register is complete. To trace a marriage in Nempnett Thrubwell, you have to use the GRO indexes, rather than Bath BMD.
Wills are one of the most useful sources for family history, but tracing them after 1858, when the procedure for England and Wales was centralised, is not as simple as it could be. Ancestry has recently added the years 1973 to 1995 to its collection, but is still missing years 1967 to 1972. I find Ancestry the easiest site to use, since it has a proper index which takes you to the correct page in the original printed index. Both the official Government site (www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/searching-for-probate-records) and Findmypast are more clumsy in their methods. The official site will only allow you to search one year at a time, and only by surname. It then offers a miniature version of the original index page, with a zoom facility for a small area. Findmypast only has data up to 1959 and appears to have used optical character recognition since it invites you to search for any word in the text. Unfortunately, this method gives a large number of results. While the earlier probate records are useful for identifying a death because they give information like address and occupation, only Ancestry can be used in this way.
Old Photographs seem to be everywhere these days, especially if you are a member of a Facebook group such as Bristol Then & Now (www.facebook.com, if you want to take the plunge). Personally, I find the relentless nostalgia a bit over the top, but the photos are always interesting. The University of Aberdeen holds a number of collections, including one of 180 photographs of old Bristol. They come from the collection of George Washington Wilson which contains over 37,000 glass plates from all over the world. It can be found at http://digitool.abdn.ac.uk/R , and although the site is a bit stark and clunky, the results are well worth it.
Among recent releases on the British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) is the Shepton Mallet Journal. Local newspapers were always on the lookout for news and covered a wide area to create a viable circulation and attract advertising. It was believed that every name printed was another copy sold, so they reported on flower shows and school concerts, as well as crimes, all of which can provide extra detail for your family history. This is an extract from the Journal for 21st February 1862.
The damage to that wheelbarrow must have been severe.