One of the gaps in the resources for English family history has been the records of those who were not members of the Church of England. Thanks to an agreement between The National Archives and S & N Genealogy, some of these records are now available online at www.bmdregisters.co.uk.
This is a pay-per-view site, and credits cost 50p, with a minimum charge of £5. A standard search is free, while an advanced search, including county and date, costs 1 credit. Viewing the full transcribed details, or looking at an image of the original page, costs 5 credits. Using the site can prove expensive, since you cannot know if you have found a relevant record until you see the full information. There are two plus points, however. One is that you can search for a name anywhere in the entry. The other is that you may find an image contains details of several family members. My search for Lawrences brought up a page with four sisters at Denford in Northamptonshire, Mary Esther, Deborah and Eunice all daughters of John and Sarah Lawrence.
I have written before about the projects taking place in various parts of the country to index the local records of birth, marriages and deaths. These are a handy alternative to the GRO indexes, easy to use and always giving the maiden name of the mother for births, spouse’s surname for marriages and age at death. The Bath site at www.bathbmd.org.uk/ has over 862,000 records at the time of writing, while the Wiltshire site at www.wiltshirebmd.org.uk/ is still getting going with about 188,000 records, mostly from the north-eastern corner near Chippenham, Box and Castle Combe. You can now do a multi-region search of all the BMD sites which use the same software at www.ukbmdsearch.org.uk/ . For those with Bath interests, it is possible to download four Bath Post Office Directories from the Bath BMD site at www.bathbmd.org.uk/pod.html, although you may prefer to purchase the directories on a CD if you have a slow internet connection. Details of the CD are on the same page.
Recent census indexes which have become available are the Gloucestershire 1871 census on the Origins Network at www.originsnetwork.com/. Somerset and Wiltshire in 1871 are also available on this site. FamilyRelatives has increased the number of parish registers on its website, including many from Gloucestershire. These are transcriptions from the books published by Phillimore about 100 years ago, so they are transcriptions of transcriptions and therefore more subject to error. However, they are a useful short-cut, and can be found at https://www.familyrelatives.com.
If you have an interest in British maritime history, there is a lot of useful information available on Len Barnett’s website at http://www.barnettresearch.freeserve.co.uk/index.htm. As well as the Royal Navy and the British Merchant service, there is information about the British in India. The site also contains some useful web links, mostly about ships, but some of family history interest.
Family historians often need to calculate the present day equivalent of a historic sum of money. This is seldom straightforward, and the results can easily be interpreted wrongly, but here are two sites which may be of help. One can be found at www.measuringworth.com while the other is on The National Archives website at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency. The National Archives site lets you make a simple calculation, while Measuring Worth, which is an American site, explains why simple calculations can never be accurate, and that there is always more than one answer to questions about comparative prices and values.
The start of the autumn television season has seen a further seven programmes in the popular BBC television family history series “Who do you think you are?” There is a website for the programme at www.bbcwhodoyouthinkyouare.com/, and this contains a summary of each programme, plus some extra footage which was not broadcast. The website contains links to a lot of useful family history information, and will give overseas readers a flavour of what they have missed. Each of the people featured is well-known to the British viewing public, and each has an interesting family background. Another television broadcast you may have missed was the news report of the event when our Society reunited a Bristol Humane Society award of 1906 with the families of both the rescuer and the rescued. This can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2vl5qk. It was still available at the time of writing, but I cannot be certain it will be there when you read this. Incidentally, tinyurl is a way of converting a long web address into something shorter. You can find out more at http://tinyurl.com/create.php.
For most of us, FreeBMD at www.freebmd.org.uk/ is the easiest website to use to trace births, marriages and deaths in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One little used feature is the ability to add a “Post-em” note to an index entry. This could include additional information about the person, or be a means of contacting others researching the same family. There is a limit of 250 characters, so you cannot write an essay. Further information can be found by looking up an index entry and clicking on the “info” box.
Finally, if you need to relax for a few minutes while using the internet, try going to this page of The National Archives site – http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/takeabreak/. You can send an e-card, do a jigsaw puzzle, of try your hand at various quizzes and games.