The 1939 Register on Findmypast (www.findmypast.co.uk) continues to provide useful information, and the occasional surprise, but it is easy to get carried away with the image of the original, and the transcription, and ignore the map and other data that is lower down the page.
An interesting talk recently given to the Bath group of the Society by Myko Clelland of Findmypast covered both the background to the Register itself, and how to use this additional information. Below the transcription is a section titled “Where they lived in 1939”, followed by a 1:25000 Ordnance Survey map dated 1937-1961. Clicking on the down arrow to the right brings up a list showing two other maps of the same area – 1888-1913, and present day. Thus you can see how the area in question has changed over the last 100 years. The map can be made to fill the screen, you can increase or decrease the scale, and can move around the area.
Although this feature is informative, I have found that the maps shown can be wrong for the address listed. Some have the sort of accuracy you would get from searching for a postcode, while others can be half a mile away but at least in the same town or village. However, for someone who was living at West Lavington, south of Devizes, the map shows a location in Melksham, while for someone living at Batcombe, near Shepton Mallet, the map shows an address in Templecombe. In both cases, the error is about 10 – 12 miles.
Below the map is a section with information about the place where the household was. It includes population, average household size, age and gender distribution and common occupations. Click on the arrow to move between these. Below these are some sample newspaper articles and photographs, followed by the 1939 Gift Shop.
One of the big anniversaries this year is the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, and the family history websites have responded by making available some of the major documents about the event. Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) has the accounts of the trial and execution of the leaders of the uprising, and these make sombre reading. I looked at those for Patrick Henry Pearse, and was surprised that Ancestry helpfully also offered other information about him, such as his birth and baptism, appearance in the 1901 census, journey to the United States, and a link to his entry on the Findagrave website. The documents on Findmypast appear to be different, but complementary, and are to be more concerned with the military’s handling of the rebellion.
My kinsman Stephen Lawrence (probable 3rd cousin of my 4th times great grandfather) was born in Kent in 1795. In the 1851 census, he described himself as an out-pensioner of Greenwich Hospital, so the recent publication by Findmypast of Royal Navy and Royal Marine pension records, 1704 – 1934 encouraged me to try to find more about him. These particular records are not as detailed as other service or pension records, and they do not show birthplace or date of birth. The date range claimed is also not as extensive as they state. My man was born in 1795, and the Stephen Lawrence listed drew his pension from 1823, when he retired from the Royal Marine Artillery, age 28, suffering from a hernia, after service of 9 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 1 day.. His annual pension of nine pounds four shillings was paid quarterly, and he presumably drew this until his death in January 1861 – that’s 38 years. The records are not comprehensive in that the 38 years in which he drew his pension are covered by only 10 annual entries.
Knowyourplace (http://ww.kypwest.org.uk/) has been granted a time extension of three months to Mach 2017 for its work of extending the Knowyourplace website to cover Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. The latest development is the inclusion of the Gloucestershire 1st and 2nd edition of the Ordnance Survey (c 1880 and c 1900). If you want to keep up to date with the project, the best place to start is probably the KYP pages on Facebook. Just type “Know Your Place – West of England” in the search box.
Another source of maps showing land use as well as historic features is Magic Maps (www.magic.gov.uk). It is more use in rural than in urban areas, and is useful for locating sites of special interest. Meanwhile, if your interests lie in ancient buildings and sites and how to locate them, then look at Heritage Gateway (www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/). The Gateway gives access to a number of different databases and resources concerned and provides easy access to them.
A further source of old maps and information about archaeological sites is at ARCHI (www.archiuk.com/archi/archi_maps_os.htm). You simply type in your postcode and are presented with a map showing your location and a list of sites in the area. For full details of the archaeological sites, you need to subscribe, at an annual cost of £29.95. An alternative to a postcode search is to allow the site to calculate your position, and this is especially useful if you are away from home and want to know what is around you.
Recording gravestones and burial information continues to gain popularity, perhaps because such projects are easy for volunteers to get involved in. The Gravestone Photographic Resource (www.gravestonephotos.com) claims to have over 1 million names listed. The search options are many and varied, and although I personally find the design of the website rather overwhelming, with many different colours and changes in font size, if it helps find what you are looking for, that is what matters. The data on the site can also be accessed through the Ancestry website.