Do you have ancestors who were Church of England priests, or do you want to check who was the incumbent at a particular church? If so, a new website about Church of England clergy 1540-1835 at http://eagle.cch.kcl.ac.uk:8080/cce/index.html will be of great use to you.
It is not yet complete, but the information provided is extensive, including details of parentage and education, as well as church career. You can search by name or by place, and the Bishop index lists all those ordained by a particular bishop. Helpful information on tracing Anglican clergy can also be found on the Lambeth Palace website at www.lambethpalacelibrary.org/ .
The UKBMD site continues to grow. Bath and North East Somerset now has over 639 thousand records available online, and it is useful that age at death, and mother’s maiden name for births, are included for all years, something not yet available in versions of the GRO indexes. Wiltshire is the latest local county to be included, and 118 thousands records are already available. The UKBMD site, which despite its name also includes Irish and Channel Islands records, can be found at www.ukbmd.org.uk/ .
It can be expensive to buy all the certificates you need, and the BMDshare website is designed to allow family historians to share what they have discovered, and perhaps exchange unwanted certificates. It has only just been launched and can be found at http://bmdshare.com/index.php. It is currently free to use, but a nominal membership fee will be charged from next year. You have to register to use, and the information requested, such as an alternative e-mail address, seems more onerous than is necessary.
In past articles, I have listed useful websites about localities in our area, and I have two more for you. The Forest of Dean Family History website at www.forest-of-dean.net/?Home has a very professional and attractive appearance and loads of features. There are over 100,000 parish register transcriptions, member’s interests, photos, maps and a message board. Registration is necessary to use all the features, but it is worthwhile. The Tetbury Families website at http://www.tetburyfamilies.co.uk/ will be useful for anyone with interests in that area of Gloucester, and that also has family information, photographs, and much local history. There are useful links, and references to printed sources about the town.
In the September 2006 Journal, I listed a website with aerial photographs. A correspondent reminded me about Google Earth, which is a similar website, and which is also free to use. Google Earth can be found at http://earth.google.com/ . You can zoom in onto well-known places like Trafalgar Square or the Eiffel Tower, and track across the world to your own home, or anywhere else you wish. It will show street names, and although the details shown can vary between rural and urban areas, you can often identify individual cars outside houses.
The latest additions to the Ancestry website are telephone directories. The first batch released of 430 phone books are mostly of the London area, but there are also some late nineteenth-century directories for Sheffield. The earliest names listed are mostly those of companies. Phone books are not only useful for confirming addresses. The lists of names give a fascinating glimpse into a world that existed not long ago. Looking for my Homard family in the 1950s, I found a whole list of Home & Colonial stores. Whatever happened to them? Ancestry is at www.ancestry.co.uk/.
Ancestry is the best known of the census websites, but the other sites should not be forgotten. Each transcription has been done differently, and you cannot know which will have been done correctly. In a recent example, I found that Ancestry had correctly transcribed the surname Chinick in the 1891 census, while 1837online and our own Society index on CD had thought the name was Chiswick. No site will always get it right, so you may need to check alternative offerings to find your family in the census. Findmypast (formerly known as 1837online) at www.findmypast.com has the 1841, 1861, 1871 and 1891 censuses, while British Origins at www.britishorigins.com/ has 1841, 1861 and 1871. Ancestry has all of the censuses, while Roots UK at www.rootsuk.com/ has parts of the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1891 and 1901 census. The 1901 census is also available at www.1901census.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ although the site is now run by Genes Reunited.
You may have read recently that Google has paid £1.65 billion to buy a website called YouTube, which you can find at www.youtube.com/ . YouTube is a social network site, part of what is now called web2. The idea of Web2 is that people do not just consume the contents of websites, but contribute to them. I am sure that most of the readers of this Journal will find little to interest them on YouTube. It is a mixture of copyright material that is shown without permission, badly made home videos, and teenage music. But it’s worth looking at some of the contributions under the heading “family history”. They are mostly American, and some are impressionistic rather than lists of names and dates. Others are oral history, but with the benefit of pictures as well as sound. A less ambitious way of sharing information on the internet can be found at Flickr (www.flickr.com/ ). On this site, you can load your photographs to share with other people. This can be just to show off your holiday snaps, but it can equally be a way for a group to publish the photographs of their home town or village. Whatever you may think of these current offerings, these sites show one way ahead for family history on the internet.