Sunday, 31 July 2011

Glasgow Roll of Honour updated

Thanks to David McNay from the Scottish Military Research Group for letting me know about the update to the group's WW1 Glasgow roll of honour. From its blog:

The Scottish Military Research Group have been running a project to fully transcribe the First World War Roll of Honour for the City of Glasgow. It was originally published in 1922 and listed name, rank, unit and address. At present it can only be viewed at the City Chambers in George Square, or the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. For people outside of Glasgow access to the information is difficult.

Our aim is to make the Roll more accessible, and at the same time make it easier to search and sort the data.

The first section of 4,340 names covered surnames A - D and was released on 23rd December 2011.

Today we are pleased to release the second section, which covers the surnames E - K and is for a further 3,600 names.

To find more read the full blog post at, where you will also find direct links to each part of the collection online so far.

(Cheers David!)


Friday, 29 July 2011

Latest Cairt newsletter online

Issue 19 of Cairt, the newsletter of the Scotish Maps Forum, is freely available online at

Amongst the features is an interesting piece looking at whether Blaue copied his famous Scottish maps from Pont or Gordon. Bob Henery of the University of Strathclyde has been having a wee poke around them all using digital cartometric techniques!

(With thanks to the National Library of Scotland)


P&O Heritage seeks Canberra stories

P&O Heritage is seeking stories to be featured in a new online exhibition due to go online soon to commemorate 50 years of service by the Canberra. If you have memories of the ship as a passenger or whilst in service on board, please email the archive at The website itself is available at

(With thanks to P&O Heritage)


Peebles family history workshops

Borders Family History Society has news of two family history workshops taking place at Peebles Library on Tuesday 9th August 2011, which are being run by the Heritage Hub.

For more information visit its blog at


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Changes at Strathclyde University's genealogy courses

The University of Strathclyde's postgraduate and masters programmes in genealogy courses are being renamed from their previous discipline title of Genealogical Studies to the new title of Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies.

Bruce Durie, who first set up the course in 2006, is leaving the university at the end of August, with Graham Holton taking over as the course head from that point. Graham has been part of the tutorial team since the course started, and is author (with Jack Winch) of Discover Your Scottish Ancestry (2009, Edinburgh University Press, 2nd ed).

The courses handbook for 2011-12 is available online at


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? returns

The next series of Who Do You Think You Are? returns on Wednesday 10th August at 9pm, BBC1.

UPDATED: The series opens with June Brown - here's the Radio Times blurb:

New series. Actress June Brown delves into her family history. She begins in London, exploring one ancestor's role in the shadowy underworld of 19th-century bare-knuckle boxing, before tracing her heritage farther back. The trail leads to Holland and the story of relatives divided by war, and a document that reveals the impact of an expulsion from North Africa at the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

For overseas readers, June Brown is an actress in Britain's most depressing soap (Eastenders)!

(With thanks to @RadioTimes)


ScotFamTree AGM this Saturday

A quick reminder that the ScotFamTree AGM is this Saturday at the A. K. Bell Library in Perth - all members are welcome. For details see

ScotFamTree is a discussion forum in essence, though in practice more like an online family history society with some very active members. There are different tiers of membership, with the basic tier free - for more details see

I'll be doing a talk about Perth's handloom weavers, with additional talks as follows:

"Uncle Tom, my brickwall or How tae woo a lassie" by Gallowaylass

"Country Life" by Brodie

The AGMs are always great craic, with a slight hint of irreverent insanity, and there will be raffles and all sorts - so worth thinking about if you're at a loose end on Saturday!

Hopefully see you there!


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

More on Post Office appointments records

From Ancestry (, the official press release on the new Post Office Appointments books collection:


Post Office records profile the women who stepped into ‘male’ roles to keep the post and country working

* Collection lists 1.5 million men and women employed by Post Office over the last 250 years, when service was world’s largest employer

* Records profile the women who kept the country’s postal service running in wartime

In a world-first,, the UK’s favourite family history website, in partnership with The British Postal Museum & Archive, today launched online the Post Office Appointment Books, 1737-1969 – a collection of 1.5 million records listing the employees of one of the world’s largest ever employers - including the ‘femails’ who kept the post going during wartime.

The records, dating back to 1737, list the men and women appointed to roles within the service, and tell the fascinating tale of the women who kept the British Post Office, and therefore the country, functioning – particularly during the first and second world wars.

The records – originally created to keep tally of all employees – list information on worker appointments, transfers, dismissals, resignations and deaths. They typically include a name, date of appointment, grade or position and location of work, with some showing salaries, references or recommendations.

One of the most notable observations from the records is that female workers are so prevalent, despite stretching back many hundreds of years. This contrasts with many other industries of the 18th and 19th century, where women were primarily employed for domestic duties or kept to ‘traditional’ roles in seamstressing, textiles or retail.

From its early days, the Post Office employed women in two main roles, often as sub-postmistresses, running post offices as part of their business, or as postwomen, particularly in rural areas when men were not available. From 1870, when the Post Office was given control of the telegraph system, many more women were employed in running the telegraphs and from here moved into administrative and clerical roles.

In fact, more than 3,000 post office workers named Pat are listed within the collection of nearly 1.5 million records, there are more than 4,500 named Patricia also recorded.

The role of women within the Post Office was rarely as crucial as during the first and second world wars, when women plugged the gap left by men who were required to fight in the armed forces. Analysis of the digitised records shows a vast increase in female appointments during the major years of conflict, often in roles previously reserved for men.

By the start of the Great War, the Post Office employed almost 250,000 people, processing nearly six billion items of post a year, and was the largest single employer in the world. Yet by 1917, the service had released over 73,000 male staff for war services, and so required thousands of temporary staff. Some 35,000 women were included in this temporary workforce, many of whom are recorded in the records released today.

The same situation applied during WWII, and by the midpoint of the conflict the Post Office employed more than 100,000 women. These temporary roles were officially referred to as ‘non-established’, and included roles such as the delivery of letters in urban areas, where women often carried mail through Britain’s war-torn cities (images available).

Many women put themselves in danger, including one Florence Marie Cass – a telephonist during WWI. After an explosion in a nearby munitions works brought down the power in her telephone exchange, she was able to reactivate the crucial centre by navigating her way to the engine room in complete darkness and starting the emergency generators. For her actions she received an MBE for bravery.

A number of other ‘legendary’ female posties are listed in the collection, including:

• Elizabeth Dickson – Elizabeth served the Post Office for 30 years as a non-established postwoman. When she retired in 1908, it was reported that she had never once been late for duty and had trekked an estimated 130,000 miles during her career – equivalent to walking five times around the world.

• Annie Cooper – One of the longest serving sub-postmistresses, who in 1946 not only celebrated her 70th birthday but completed 50 years of service as Sub-Postmistress of the post office at Newbridge Lane, Stockport.

• Fanny King – Fanny was a traditional rural postwoman who served the Cotswolds area for much of the early to mid 20th Century. At the age of 65 she was still trekking her nine-mile route on foot every morning and was even quoted as saying: “I think I should die if I didn’t have my morning delivery.”

The role of women in the Post Office was also to have a knock on effect on women’s employments rights. Unions formed by female workers campaigned on women’s rights and particularly equal pay during the first half of the 20th Century. As a result, women working in the Post Office had their pay matched from 1955 – a move that would encourage further progressive moves to take place throughout the British workplace. International Content Director Dan Jones comments: “The Post Office was a true leviathan of British industry, at one point employing more people worldwide than any other company. As a result, the value of these archives as a family history resource is massive.

“But the records also tell us a lot about the social history of the Post Office, in that it actively recruited women, particularly during the world wars, which led to a growing acceptance that work roles should not be defined by gender.”

Gavin McGuffie, Head of Archives at The British Postal Museum & Archive added: “We see the digitisation of these records as a crucial step in making the rich history of the Post Office available to everyone.

“For many years the records have been seen as a vital source for family historians, and now they can be accessed at the click of a mouse from homes across Britain and the world.”

(With thanks to Annabel at Ancestry)


Free access to 1851 County Antrim census remnants

The subscription based Emerald Ancestors has added a transcript of 25,000 names to its databases of names recorded in the 1851 census for County Antrim which has partially survived.

From the site's news announcement:

The database includes the name, age, marital status, occupation and relationship to the head of household for all residents recorded within the house. Also noted are family members who had died since the last census return in 1841, along with cause of death and approximate date.

The returns available cover complete listings of households in the parishes of Aghalee, Ballinderry, Carncastle, Dunaghy, Grange of Killyglen, Kilwaughter & Larne. Some Townlands in the parishes of Aghagallon, Ahoghill, Killead, Newtowncrommelin, Rasharkin & Tickmacreevin are also included.

Townlands covered are:- Aghacarnan, Aghadavy, Aghalee, Aghalee Village, Aghanamoney, Aghanliss, Ardmore, Artnacrea, Aughnamullan, Ballinderry, Ballyboggy, Ballyclan, Ballycregagh, Ballyedward, Ballygally, Ballygawn Ballycoos, Ballygilbert, Ballyginniff, Ballyhackett, Ballyhampton, Ballyhill Lower, Ballyhill Upper, Ballykeel, Ballykelly, Ballykennedy, Ballylacky, Ballymacilhoyle, Ballymaclose, Ballymacmary, Ballymacrevan, Ballymather Lower, Ballymather Upper, Ballymullock, Ballynadrentagh, Ballynageeragh, Ballynaghten, Ballynanaghten, Ballyquillan, Ballyreagh, Ballyrobin, Ballyruther, Ballyscolly, Ballysculty, Ballytober, Ballytweedy, Ballywillan, Boltnaconnell, Boydstown, Brackenhill, British, Capanagh, Caragan, Carmavy, Carnaghliss, Carnbeg, Carncastle, Carnfunnock, Carnmore, Carrowcowan, Cloughgaldenagh, Cluntirriff, Corkermain, Craigdunloof, Craigfad, Craigfadock, Craiginorne, Craigs, Crew Park, Demesne, Derrykillultagh, Donbought, Drains, Drainsbog, Droagh, Dromain, Drumagrove, Drumanduff, Drumnadonaghy, Drumnagreagh, Dungonnell, Eglish, Evishcrow, Farnacushog, Garryduff, Glebe, Glenleslie, Gortrany, Inchamp, Irish Armberbawn, Kilcreeny, Killough, Killyglen, Killyree, Kinflea, Legagrane, Legatirriff, Linford, Lisnahay North, Lisnahay South, Lisnamanny, Loughduff, Loughrelisk, Lower Tullaketagh, Lurgansemanus, Lurganteneil, Lurgill, Magheraboy, Minnis North, Minnis South, Moneycrumog, Montiaghs, Moygarriff, Muneyduff, Old Mills Ballygally, Poobles, Portmore, Rosedermot, Saint Cumming, Sallagh, Solar, Tamnyvane, Templecormac, Tiftarney, Tiscallen, Tullaghbane, Tullyballydonnell, Tullynewey, Upper Tullaketagh.

HOWEVER...!!! Great as it is to see this included in the Emerald Ancestors subscription, it is worth knowing that much (if not all) of this information is also freely available on the Irish Genealogy on the Net website at

Additional surviving Irish 1841 and 1851 census entry transcriptions, used to support pensions applications mainly from 1915-22, are available via and The names of 59,000 heads of households for Dublin from the same census are also available via FindmyPast Ireland - see

Sadly, although I was born in Larne, none of my family was there in 1851! But a great resource nonetheless.

(Emerald Ancestors story spotted by the BI-Gen blog)


National Museum of Scotland opens Friday

The new National Museum of Scotland, on Edinburgh's Chambers Street, will open on Friday 29th July.

For a sneak preview of what's on offer in its sixteen new galleries, visit


European film gateway goes online

From Europeana (

Film archives showcase their collections: The European Film Gateway is online

After nearly three years of preparation and development, the European Film Gateway – EFG – is now online. The Internet portal to the digital collections of European film archives and cinémathèques offers free access to currently about 400,000 digital videos, photos, film posters and text materials. By September, the number of digital items will increase to 600,000 from 16 film archives.

"The European Film Gateway creates a central online access to Europe's film heritage for the first time. Previously, this remarkable record of 20th century European cinema had been dispersed on different national platforms," says Claudia Dillmann, director of the Deutsches Filminstitut, which co-ordinates the project. "Now the films and information about them are more accessible, not only to scholars, journalists and creatives, but also by a broader audience interested in film."

"EFG also provides access to material in film archives that was hitherto hardly known, and some is now online for the first time," says project manager Georg Eckes. These include unique magic lantern slide collections from France, erotic films made in Austria in the early 20th century, advertising films from Norway, newsreels from Lithuania and a comprehensive film poster collection from Denmark. Hidden treasures can be discovered from 15 European countries. Cinecittá Luce from Rome, for example, contributes not only a famous Italian newsreel collection reporting on important film-related events and persons, but also a fine collection of early films by great masters like Rossellini, Antonioni, Comencini, and other famous names of Italian filmmaking. An extensive collection of set photos to films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder contributed by the Deutsches Filminstitut will be available for the first time online from August on.

Users of the portal can search for people, for example Marlene Dietrich, but also by film title or keywords. They get an overview of related digital objects from the film archives which can be viewed directly in the portal. The portal always links back to the website of the relevant archives, and therefore also works as a search engine for selected digital holdings of European film archives.

(With thanks to Europeana)


Monday, 25 July 2011

Am Baile links to more books

The Am Baile website has just tweeted that it has extended its links to externally hosted online books, though it hasn't stated what has been added! However, the list is well worth browsing at - and don't forget to also check out the books digitised and available on the site itself via the same link.

(With thanks to @HighlandHistory on Twitter)


New Roxburghshire portal on Borders FHS website

Borders FHS has now uploaded a new gateway page for Roxburghshire on its site, accessible at The page links interactively to dedicated listings held by the society and elsewhere for each parish within the former historic county.

(With thanks to the society's blog)


New landing pages for Dublin cemeteries photos

A few months ago Glasnevin Cemetery Trust uploaded a new searchable pay-per-view burial records database at The service is excellent, if not a little expensive, but using it I was able to find the burial of my three times great grandmother Teresa Mooney in 1919.

Now the Irish Genealogy Project Archives have added photographs of headstones from the cemetery at a new landing page at At present some 300 images are available, although I suspect more will appear in due course, if the site's coverage of Mount Jerome Cemetery is anything to go by! The images have been contributed by Joyce Tunstead and Yvonne Russell.

New landing pages for Mount Jerome and Deansgrange Cemeteries have also been created, with the former at and the latter at All three pages host transcriptions of the cemeteries's stones also. And free of charge!

(With thanks to the IGP)


Kilmarnock family history workshop

East Ayrshire Family History Society is advertising a Family History Workshop on Thursday 28th July 2011 from 1.30pm – 4pm, at The Cabin, Witch Road, Kilmarnock.

The society can be contacted via


Lossiemouth Cemetery monumental inscriptions

The Moray Burial Ground Research Group will be releasing a new publication on July 28th, entitled Monumental Inscriptions, Lossiemouth Cemetery and other local memorials. (Parish of Drainie). The book is in A5 format, has 239 pages, and features eleven colour plates and four black and white. It will cost £15.

Those wishing to purchase the book should note that it includes Lossiemouth Cemetery (North and South Sections - the more modern West Section is NOT included), St. Gerardine's Church, Lossiemouth Community & Fisheries Museum, and Lossiemouth War Memorial.

For more information visit


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Family History Society of Buchan website

I've just discovered that the Family History Society of Buchan is now operating at a new website located at Although listed on the SAFHS website as being contactable at, this site is in fact no longer working.

It would seem that the society's online periodical Aa the Claik is now only available exclusively to members, although an old edition from 2009 is available on the site, along with some select articles.


Uig Roll of Honour and other resources

A Second World War Roll of Honour for West Uig on Lewis has been placed online at

Other recent uploads by Comann Eachdraidh Uig onto its website include:

* Valtos births in the OPR, 1824-1845; and lists of tenants, rents and arrears in 1824 for Breanish, Mangersta,Carnish, Ardroil (Capadal, Pennydonald and Balnicol), Valtos, Kneep, Reef and the Bays. Also a list of all known Norse or horizontal mills in Uig, drawn from Dr Finlay Macleod’s book on the subject.

* A location list for Uig school records

* A page of Valtos marriages (1824 to 1869) from the Old Parish Register

* List of Militia Men 1797 in Uig

For more information, and direct links, visit


The Caesarean birth of Caesar Anna Low

Visit my Walking in Eternity blog to recall one of the first successful caesarean births carried out in Scotland, in 1820 Perth. The child's name? Caesar Anna...!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Angus Archives open day

Angus Archives is having an open day on Thursday July 28th, with a sporting theme. From its website at

Sporting Angus is the focus of Angus Archives’ July drop-in-day on 28 July 2011 between 10am – 4pm. On display will be a selection of photographs of teams and individuals involved in a wide range of sports from football, rugby and golf to cricket, cycling and tennis. Among other items, also on display will be a Brechin Cricket Club scorebook, 1850-1914, and one of our newest deposits, the first minute book of the Montrose Royal Albert Golf Course, dated 1818.

Tea and coffee will be available throughout the day.

For further information on this event please call Angus Archives on 01307 468644 or email us on

(With thanks to @ScottishHistory on Twitter)


Aberdeen and North East Scotland FHS - evening closures

Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society has announced that due to a current shortage of volunteers its research centre will now not be open on Tuesday and Friday evenings until further notice. Its current hours of opening for the foreseeable future will therefore be Mondays to Fridays from 10 am until 4 pm, and on Saturdays from 9 am until 1 pm.

For more on the society, and for further updates, please visit

(With thanks to @anesfhs on Twitter)


Friday, 22 July 2011

Nineteenth century soldiers - TNA podcast

The National Archives at Kew has released a new podcast on 19th century soldiers' records. here's the blurb:

Nineteenth century soldiers: getting the most from online resources
Published date: Fri, 22 Jul 2011 13:00:00 GMT

This talk aims to explain the intricacies of soldiers' service records online, in record series WO 97, and how using the records of the First World War is something which should be considered when researching nineteenth-century soldiers. William Spencer is The National Archives' principal military specialist, and has worked for The National Archives for the past 17 years. He is the author of a number of books including 'Army Records: A guide for family historians'.

Author: William Spencer Duration: 37:08

The podcast can be downloaded to or listened via the site at


Site update

I've had another wee tinker with the layout of the blog - with so many links in a single column it took forever to scroll down, so I have now created a new three column layout which I hope still works! I have also simplified some of the links, and added new pages at the top of the page, one for my research service and another on forthcoming talks. Please note that at present I am not taking on new clients, due to various writing commitments, but will do so again from September. At this point my research rate will also rise for the first time in a few years to £20 an hour (currently £18), but more on that in due course.

You will also notice at the top left of the screen a Scottish GENES YouTube video interview. This can be expanded to a full screen display by clicking on the arrow based icon on the bottom right hand corner. I will alternate the videos from time to time with different interviewees, both pre-recorded and new, all part of an attempt to make the site a bit more interactive. I have a few other ideas which I will hopefully implement later in the year, but I need to get a few other things out of the way first!

NB: Readers should be aware that the use of a sunny image in the background is in no ways meant to be an attempt to misrepresent the true wonders of Scottish weather! :)


Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Irish Family and Local History Handbook - coming soon!

Many readers may be familiar with Bob Blatchford's superb series of Family and Local History Handbooks (the latest edition being the 13th), which acts as both a genealogical resources directory and a compendium of useful articles on all aspects of family history research across the British Isles. Published every 18 months, it is one of the highlights of the publishing calendar for family historians.

The good news is that Bob is now pulling together a brand new publication, The Irish Family and Local History Handbook, which will be launched in Dublin at the forthcoming Back to Our Past event running at the RDS from October 21st-23rd. Yours truly will have a few articles in there, and Bob has told me about some of the other contributions making their way in - very much looking forward to seeing it!

The British release date for the book will be January 1st 2012, but keep an eye on Bob's site at for news of how to pre-order the publication. In the meantime, for more on Back to our Past, visit

And here's a wee vid on last year's event...!

(With thanks to @FamHistHandbook on Twitter)


Grave of Rudolf Hess destroyed

The grave of Nazi leader Rudolf Hess has been destroyed to stop it being used a place of pilgrimage by neo-Nazis. His remains are now to be cremated and disposed of at sea. In 1941 Hess flew to Scotland in an unauthorised peace mission and was detained by the British for the remainder of the war.


Scottish business records acquisitions in 2010

Business Archives Scotland has posted a list of Scottish business records collections acquired by archives across Britain in 2010, as identified by the National Archives at Kew.

The full list, available at, includes the papers of an Aberdeenshire stone mason, timber merchants in Irvine, jute works in Dundee, and railway records. Some interesting stuff!

(With thanks to Business Archives Scotland)


Western Isles research resources

I've pulled together a list of some Western Isles resources online which might help with your research - always happy for additional suggestions!

University of Stirling Archives blog

The University of Stirling's archives has a new blog at

(With thanks to @genealogygirl and @unistirarchives on Twitter)


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Postal Service Appointment Books released by Ancestry

Ancestry ( has released a new collection, Postal Service Appointment Books 1737-1969 at, as indexed through the World Archives Project.

Here's the blurb from the site:

About British Postal Service Appointment Books, 1737-1969

These British Post Office appointment books are indexes to the Postmaster General’s minute books. They show the point when a person began working for the Post Office or started at a new position within the Post Office. The books were kept from 1831 until 1969, when they stopped being kept because of legislation and human resource procedures. Some records contain the job the worker was appointed to and the British Postal Museum’s website has the abbreviations in their Family History Guide. The index contains:

Date of appointment

I'm not sure how the records have entries back to 1737 if the collection started in 1831, but I have no reason to doubt it is the case - if your ancestor worked for the Post Office, this should be useful!


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tayroots Genealogy Day

From the Tayroots website, the formal announcement of the genealogy day to be held in Dundee on September 24th, which I pre-announced last month at

Saturday 24 September: Tayroots Genealogy Fair & Workshops.

Local and national organisations represented - from Banff to Lanark, and superb workshops and lectures by Bruce Durie of BBC Radio Scotland and Strathclyde University, author and genealogist Chris Paton, and Archivist Andrew Nicoll of the Scottish Catholic Archive. Advice and practical help for beginners and serious researchers alike in the fabulous setting of the Robert Falcon Scott Suite at Discovery Point in Dundee. Free event. (NB: Please note the change of venue from the Dundee Central Library for this event).

For more information, email

I'll hopefully see some of you there!


Hebrides People site goes live

The new Hebrides People website, which I briefly announced a couple of weeks ago, has now gone live at

The searchable databases, the results of years of resource gathering by Bill Lawson, are not live on the site just yet, but will be very shortly, with the first major set of records to be an emigration database. There is however, plenty to be getting on with, until then! To sum up the potential of this site, in due course I suspect this is going to become the 'ScotlandsPeople of the Western Isles', and in addition to the searchable databases planned for launch very soon there are already several background resources pages hosted, discussing the unique problems of researching family history in the islands where Gaelic has predominantly been the main language of the people, but English the language of the most recent records.

There are articles discussing the problems caused with this in registering names in records, the use of oral tradition in the islands to recall pedigrees, a handy timeline at, and an extensive bookshop, including a very useful Genealogical Sourcebooks page listing publications by Bill at This includes various books listing marriages in parishes from the islands between 1820-55, both those recorded and unrecorded, and a register of Western Isles emigrants to the counties of Bruce, Grey and Huron in Ontario, Canada amongst other publications. I've already ordered a source book on doing research for families with Harris based connections, and there is plenty of other material also listed from the Islands Books Trust and more.

The Lawsons run the Co Leis Thu? research service in Northton, Harris, with details on this also contained on the site.

The emigration database will launch in the very near future, more details in due course! (And do sign up for the newsletter!)

(With thanks to Chris Lawson)

UPDATE: Separate to the Hebrides Emigrants database, the first island to have information hosted will likely be Harris, with regular additions on a monthly basis thereafter.


Monday, 18 July 2011

David Peat photography exhibition

I've just discovered that a former BBC colleague, David Peat, has a photography exhibition currently ongoing at the Aberfeldy Watermill until July 25th (see

The BBC has placed a slideshow online at showcasing some of David's black and white imagery from as far back as the 1960s, played against an audio commentary of his own words describing his motivations. These include some wonderful old images from life in the tenements of the Gorbals, with the buildings long since destroyed, and other images from both across Scotland and internationally.

I was acquainted with David when he was at the Beeb a few years ago producing Clarissa and the Countryside and other productions in the arts and factual department where I used to work, but had no idea that he had such a wonderful collection of images. The photographs were taken over many years, and with his busy television life most never made it beyond contact sheets. Two years ago David discovered that he had developed an incurable form of cancer, which has now motivated him to finish the job that he started so many years ago, by printing off and exhibiting some of his best material.

A truly wonderful presentation online, and if you wish to see the exhibition, do hurry, as it ends next week. And best wishes to David, a true gentleman.


Belfast cemeteries database - feedback required

Just discovered that Belfast City Council has a feedback form concerning its new cemeteries database (see, one of the most important recently launched online tools for Northern Irish research. The form is available at

In its request for suggestions, for me the key addition would be a field to allow searches by lair number also. I recently travelled to Belfast having made many discoveries on the site, and had thankfully contacted each cemetery in advance to ask them to look up other burials in the lairs I had identified (see The staff were brilliant in doing so, but I'm sure it ties up a lot of man hours answering such requests! The lair numbers are actually returned in search results, you just can't do a further search of the same lair at present, which is a real pity. But still a truly brilliant resource!


Former BBC Scotland building at risk

The former BBC Scotland buildings at Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow are now officially on the Buildings at Risk register.

I must admit to a personal sense of sadness with this, as I worked at the BBC's premises here for some six years, just before the corporation moved to its new purpose built premises at Pacific Quay on the south of the Clyde. I remember the staff meeting in one of the studios at Queen Margaret Drive when the management decided to unveil the apparently striking new design of the replacement that was to be built - and the looks on all of my former colleagues' faces when they revealed that such genius was to be nothing more than a big glass box.

I had heard some time ago that the QMD building was to be redeveloped into a hotel, and certainly the rest of the BBC's premises on the site have long been demolished, but I'm assuming that has now fallen through.

And here's a photo I took of the area just over a year ago....

Very sad - and I still miss the canteen! :)

(With thanks to the RCAHMS on Twitter)


Scottish Monumental Inscriptions update

The latest news update from Helen Grant at Scottish Monumental Inscriptions (

The latest CDs released this month are:

Dun Churchyard and Extension- Angus
Farnell Churchyard and Extension- Angus
Maryton Churchyard - Angus
Glendevon Churchyard- Perthshire
Pool of Muchart Churchyard- Clackamannanshire.
Stracathro Churchyard - Angus

Due soon:

Forgan Cemetery- Fife
Broom Road Cemetery- Kinross
Burntisland Cemetery- Fife
Beath New Cemetery- Fife on 2 CDs due to the amount of data collected.
Dreghorn Old Cemetery- Ayrshire.
Strathaven Cemetery- Lanarkshire


Muirkirk- Ayrshire
Stonehouse- Lanarkshire
Sanquhar- Lanarkshire
Irvine- Ayrshire
Western- Dundee.
Douglas- Lanarkshire
Markinch - Fife

(With thanks to Helen)


Sunday, 17 July 2011

London Blitz diary blog

I spent a couple of hours earlier today putting together an article for the forthcoming Irish edition of the Family and Local History Handbook, concerning the Easter Tuesday blitz raid on Belfast and the subsequent raid in Dublin in World War 2.

So now I am in "blitz mode", I thought I'd give a quick plug for a great blog entitled World War II London Blitz Diary 1939-45, available at Its reproduction was started in September last year, and it will appear in full in due course in a book format - here's the blurb from the website:

My great grandother Ruby Alice Side Thompson(1884-1970) kept personal journals through out her life (which I inherited thru my grandmother, Ruth Ferris Thompson (daughter in law of Ruby) The 1939-1945 Diaries are her very personal revelations of her experience living in London during the World War ll Bombing Blitz and her endurance of war and a difficult unfulfilling marriage. This journal will soon be published as a book or series of books. This blog contains snippets of what will later be published in its entirety. If you would like to be on the mailing list for being notified of this please email vxwashu @ and you will be added you to the list.

Enjoy - and there will be more on the forthcoming Irish edition of the Family and Local History Handbook very soon!


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Writing for genealogy magazines

I'm occasionally asked for tips on writing family history articles, so I've thrown a few lines down on my other blog at

They aren't rules, just a few thoughts and tips which might help!


The Family History Show on YouTube

Nick Barratt and Laura Berry, the editorial team of Your Family History magazine (, are experimenting with an online YouTube hosted video series entitled The Family History Show.

A pilot programme has been made and is now available in four separate parts on the site at, and I know that Nick and Laura already have plans afoot for further instalments. Shown here is the third section of the pilot, an interview with Titanic survivor Millvina Dean. An interview with television presenter Dan Cruickshank will also be going online soon, but also available just now are additional sections on UK genealogy news, YFH readers' stories and some other items of interest. Well worth a look at this and the other instalments. Nick has told me that he hopes to launch a dedicated web based platform for the show in due course - but one step at a time!

In the meantime, the latest edition of Your Family History is now on sale, and includes an in depth look from yours truly at Scottish civil registration and censuses. The next time somebody tells you that the 1931 UK census hasn't survived, you'll be able to correct them once you've read it...! It's the first in a new series of Scottish based articles that I'm doing for the magazine.

Finally, don't forget to check out my own YouTube channel at where you'll find interviews that I have grabbed with various gene genies in the UK and Australia, including FIBIS webmaster Valmay Young, Audrey Collins from TNA, Karel Kiely from RootsIreland, Ali MacDonald from the Scottish DNA project and more, including a video tour of the new PRONI building in Belfast.

Enjoy! :)


Friday, 15 July 2011

TNA's Discovery service updated

The National Archives has announced the addition of an Advanced Search function to its new catalogue replacement, the Discovery service (currently in beta).

(With thanks to UKNatArchives on Twitter)


FindmyPast - Business Index Collection

FindmyPast ( has launched a new collection of business records from the holdings of the Society of Genealogists, in the form of its Business Index Collection.

From the FMP blog:

The collection is made up of a selection of 17 books and trade dictionaries produced in different areas of the UK from 1893 – 1927, with 9,757 records showcasing businesses and prominent people of the late Victorian era and early twentieth century. You can find out more detailed information about the Business Index Collection here.

The records can provide a lot of detail about your ancestors’ lives, often including a photograph and a short biography which will detail their education and experience, memberships of corporations and clubs, their hobbies or leisure activities as well as any charities they may have been involved with.

Further information is available at


Scottish Post Office Directories

I've blogged quite a bit about the National Library of Scotland's wonderful digitised collection of Post Office Directories, freely available at But don't just take my word for it, Ruth Blair's blog post at provides another user's perspective - well worth reading!


National Records of Scotland - non-executive directors

The National Records of Scotland ( is seeking to appoint three non-executive directors. For further information visit - the deadline for application is July 29th.


The end of Windows XP

An American genealogy blogger, Dick Eastman, has a story that will be of interest to many people over here concerning the Windows XP operating system. If like me you still use XP - and 51% of all Microsoft computers around the world apparently still do - our days are numbered. In just under 1000 days Microsoft is withdrawing all support for the system permanently. Clearly by then they intend to have a decent replacement!

The cut off date is April 8th 2014. The system will continue to operate on your computers after this date, but if you end up with a major virus attack or some other sort of issue on your PC, Microsoft will no longer be the group you turn to for answers, and you may need to seek a third party for assistance. Sadly this is one of those set ups where the phrase "if it ain't broke don't fix it" will apply, as Bill Gates and chums have money to make, and we're in the way!

As ever, back all your data up regularly!

(With thanks to Dick Eastman)


Thursday, 14 July 2011

More military records on FindmyPast

FindmyPast ( has released more military material on its site, in the form of four new databases, noted as follows from its blog

* The 1861 Worldwide Army Index (or The 1861 Worldwide Soldier Index) entailed the extraction of some 245,000 serving soldiers.

* The Paddington Rifles database contains the names of over 8,600 men who served with the battalion from its inception in 1860 until its demise in 1912. It can therefore be a vital tool in providing colour to your London ancestors.

* The Royal Fusiliers Collection 1863-1905 comprises the names of close to 5000 officers and men who took part in a series of British military campaigns between 1863 and 1904.

* The Surrey Recruitment Registers comprises details of approximately 85,000 men who attested for service with a variety of regiments in Surrey between 1908 and 1933.

I've just found my three times great grandfather, Sergeant Alexander Halliday, in the 1861 database, which holds the names of some 245,000 serving soldiers, as listed in the National Archives April-June quarter Paylists held in WO 10 (Royal Artillery), WO 11 (Royal Engineers) and WO 12 (Cavalry, Guards, Infantry and other units) series in the TNA War Office records. I know nothing about this database in terms of whether it was compiled at the time or in a more recent effort. The database is said to hold 98% of names for all other ranks (NCO and below), in other words this is the 1861 census for the British Army in all but name.

In this case Alexander is found under the variant of Holliday, and there are two entries for him from WO12/2088, the first stating him to be a private in the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Foot (Queen's Royals), the second a sergeant, and stationed in Corfu.

Could this be two Alexander Hollidays? In fact, no - I've already been through the muster rolls at TNA, and have established that Alexander spent May 4th-6th 1861 in confinement, and had been demoted to the rank of private from sergeant, reason unknown, though it was recorded as a "military offence". He was promoted to Corporal in November 1862 again, and eventually lost his life, cause unknown in Bermuda in 1866.

The records don't act in the way of a traditional census - no age is given, no birthplace, just rank, regiment and location, but are nevertheless an immensely important addition to the toolkit for those carrying out census research. Once you have identified an ancestor, you may wish to check the Chelsea Pension records (also on FMP), but don't forget the muster rolls and other records not yet digitised at TNA.


Playing with Google+

I've been playing with Google+ ( and trying to work out what all of the hype is about. Google+ is a new social networking site, currently in a trial mode (by invitation only), which can best be described as a sort of mix between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It's main advantage that I can see is that it allows you to better manage groups of friends etc into "circles", so in my case I could have one group for actual let's-go-to-the-pub-and-get-squiffy type friends, another for genealogical industry associates, and another for family. You can interact with each group in a different conversation thread etc.

It's hard to tell whether it will take off or not. Virtually everyone I know on the site at present is someone I have already established an online relationship with via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, by the invitation nature of its current operation, and it is therefore difficult to tell how it will work when it is fully opened up to the public. Will the general public flock to it, or are people happy with other sites already around? I recently tried another social network site, KILTR, but found it so clunky that I only now occasionally visit it; my real problem is that I am very comfortable with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, which I use for very different purposes. So in due course Google+ may be something that I come to embrace more, for the moment I am really in "wait and see" mode.

One net result of now becoming assimilated by the Borg, sorry, Google (!), is that at the bottom of each post now you will see a wee button with a +1 written on it. This is not my date for the night, rather a button to allow you, if you have a Google+ account, to favourite a post for others to see. So the reason for this post is really to explain the change in decor down below, and to alert those who haven't heard of Google+ to its existence. And there may be more in due course...!


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

1939 National Register for Northern Ireland

I've just read in the latest issue of Family Tree magazine ( that for 1939 Northern Irish National Register entries there is as yet no formal procedure to apply for the information. The author, a genealogist from Dublin, suggests that "given that cataloguing is ongoing, delays are inevitable and readers should delay applying for data until more information about the procedure is posted on the PRONI website:".

It is great to hear that PRONI is cataloguing the material, but it is worth pointing out that in Scotland and England, where the equivalent information has been formally made available through payment schemes, there is, as that suggests, a payment - £13 for Scottish enquiries (for individuals) and a whopping £42 for English and Welsh applications (for households).

Under the Freedom of Information Act, you have a right to apply for information at no cost where there is no formal publication scheme in place. This is currently the situation at PRONI. You are therefore perfectly entitled to make an application to PRONI under the FOI Act, and it will not cost you a penny, whether it is inconvenient for PRONI (indeed for any archive) or not. So my advice is, yes, there may be a delay, but get the application in now - or you may well end up paying in due course if you decide to wait!

I have previously made a successful application to PRONI myself for information from the register for both of my grandparents in Belfast, with the information on my grandfather in particular proving crucial in identifying his exact birth date in Brussels, for which there had been a couple of possibilities. For details of the procedure, and the web address with details on FOI applications to PRONI, see my blog post from March 2010 at

Just to add, when Yorkshire based genealogist Guy Etchells secured access to the English and Welsh register a couple of years back, he went to a great amount of effort to inform people that they must get their applications in quickly before the NHSIC implemented a payment scheme. I was able to secure an entry for a family member in St Albans from the English register by following his advice, and therefore saved myself £42. If PRONI implements a payment scheme - and it is by no means certain that it will, as it does provide some free digitised material online through its site - I have no idea what might be charged. But I do know that in Northern Ireland, civil registration certs are the most expensive in the UK! My advice is therefore better safe than sorry - get those applications in now!

Details on how to access all UK National Register entries, and the history on how they were made available, are also available through an article I wrote for issue 75 of Irish Roots magazine (3rd quarter 2010), available online or as a back issue from

Good luck!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Edinburgh Poor Law records

Kirsty Wilkinson of My Ain Folk has written a very useful blog post on Edinburgh Poor Law records at

The post discusses printed lists naming recipients of relief from 1840-1884, and shows that the glass is not quite as empty as may at first be believed if you are searching for records of Edinburgh based ancestors requiring aid in that period (most original registers have been destroyed, unlike Glasgow).

Very useful to know!


Monday, 11 July 2011

Titanic: Thomas Andrews Shipbuilder

The Internet Archive has added a copy of "Thomas Andrews Shipbuilder" by Shan F. Bullock to its collection at

Andrews was the managing director and head of the draughting department for Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and was in charge of the plans for the RMS Titanic. He died on board the vessel on her maiden voyage.

If you had ancestors at Harland and Wolff, worth a read - at least one of my two times great grandfathers worked on the Titanic, so I've added this to my to-do list!


Census conference at the National Archives

OK, this one looks a cracker...! Thanks to Audrey Collins at the National Archives for the following:

Celebrating the Census conference – book now to get early bird discount

The National Archives is holding a one day conference at Kew on Saturday 1 October 2011. The conference is for anyone who wants to know more about the census – from genealogists to local and social historians.

The conference will look at all aspects of the census and at what this rich source of information can tell us about our ancestors and society through the ages. Speakers will include specialist staff from The National Archives, academics and professional genealogists. Ancestry, Findmypast and Genesreunited will also be offering hands-on workshops on census searching.

Places are limited and are available on first come first served basis so book early to guarantee your place. Plus, if you book before 31 July you will save £5 off the ticket price.

For more, see

Click on the link and there's some further info:

Attendees will be able to hear from the creators of the websites HISTPOP and A Vision of Britain through time. Other speakers will look at censuses of Scotland, Ireland and further afield, at the history of the census including the Suffragette boycott of 1911, conservation of the census returns, and how to make use of the census in your research.

Tickets cost £30 each, but there's a £5 discount if you book before July 31st.

I'm seriously tempted to go down for this one!

(Thanks Audrey!)

UPDATE: Dee Williams from the ScotlandsPeople Centre will be talking on Scottish censuses also, whilst Helen Kelly will be travelling from Ireland to talk about the Irish censuses. Full programme available at

...and I've now booked a place!


New Fife Family History Society website

Fife Family History Society now has a new Blogger based web platform at

For those who are looking for the old records transcriptions on the previous site, they are still available - go to Records at the bottom of the new site, or directly to


FamilyTreeMaker website update

Ancestry's FamilyTreeMaker software programme has a revamped website online at, offering a tour of its various functions.

I must admit that for client work I use the old Family Tree Maker 2006 programme still (much simpler and straightforward), but after a rocky start the new version of the programme, first launched in 2008, is now a very useful piece of kit, so worth exploring if you are looking for a new software programme - particularly if you are looking for a programme that interfaces with Sadly still no trial version available though!

NB: There is a Mac version of the programme available also, and an iPad app. An Android based app is currently in development also.


Forthcoming talks

The following is a provisional list of some forthcoming talks and courses I'll be doing/taking:

July 30th - The Weavers of Perth, at ScotFamTree AGM, A.K. Bell Library, Perth (

Aug 29th - Scottish Research Online course, £45.99, 5 weeks (

Sep 24th - Scottish Genealogy Beginners Workshop and The Weavers of Perth, Tayroots Genealogy Day, Local History Library, Central Library, Dundee. Details TBC

Sep 27th - Irish Resources Online, Standard Life Family History Society, Lothian Road, Edinburgh - (2 x 45 minute sessions). Starts 6.30pm, ends 9pm.

Oct 8th - Irish Resources Online (50 mins), Dumfries & Galloway FHS

Oct 13th - Irish Resources Online (50 mins), East Ayrshire FHS

Oct 17th - Scotland 1750 - 1850: Beyond the OPRs course, £45.99, 5 weeks (

Oct 25th - Introduction to Scottish Family History (50 mins), Probus Club, Largs. Starts 10am.

Nov 9th - The Ruhleben Story (WW1 civilian POWs in Germany), Central Scotland FHS, Stirling (

Nov 21st-Dec 5th - Unlock the Past cruise, New Zealand & Oz ( Various talks, some shore based also

Jan 10th 2012 - There's Been a Murder, Largs and N. Ayrshire FHS

Feb 16th 2012 - Irish Resources Online, Renfrewshire FHS, Paisley (

Happy to do additional talks anywhere else if I can fit them in!


Kildonan Clearances app

A new app for both smart phones and tablets is being developed to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Highland Clearances in the Strath of Kildonan. For more on the story visit

(With thanks to @rcahms on twitter)


PlayRegistry website

If your ancestor was in a play which you can't find any information on, the PlayRegistry website might be of some help, located at The site is produced in association with the Guildford School of Acting.

Also for your luvvy ancestors (my great gran's brother was one!), a few other useful sites. Here's a snippet from my book Tracing your Family History on the Internet:

If your ancestors once tread the boards for a living then the Theatre Database ( may be of use, charting performances and performers from ancient times to the 20th century. The Stage magazine ( has an online subscription based archive covering 125 years of theatrical history, with a 24 hour pass costing £5, whilst Footlight Notes ( is an online magazine specifically covering performance history. The East London Theatre Archive is another impressive database available at

Alternatively, your ancestors may have been travelling performers. The University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive ( includes a history of fairgrounds, articles, galleries, and a guide to using the Sheffield based archive itself, whilst the Circus Historical Society site ( includes many genealogical resources, such as route books, censuses and directories. The UK Fairground Ancestors site ( includes biographies of some of the more prominent fairground families.

On the musical front, the Arts and Humanities Research Council has a database of musical concert programmes in the UK and Ireland at

NB: it looks like Footlight Notes may be offline just now, hopefully it will be back soon!


Military records on Digital Microfilms

I was reading on John Reid's Anglo Celtic Connections blog that Audrey Collins of the National Archives had posted a piece on her The Family Recorder blog (stay with me!) about the release of a complete run of The Army List from 1754 to 1879. Audrey's post is at

This has prompted me to take a look again at Digital Microfilms, as to be honest, I have not really looked at since it first launched in September 2008. As can be seen from my first post on it (, the files were seriously huge to download. However, the site has been busy, and if you have military ancestors, there are quite a few more records digitised and freely available - so don't just consider FindmyPast's Chelsea Pension records or Ancestry's WW1 service records for your research! Here are some of the collections now available:

WO 102 War Office: Long Service and Good Conduct Awards, Registers
Registers of candidates noted for, and recipients of, the Long Service and Good Conduct awards between 1831 and 1953.

WO 116 Royal Hospital, Chelsea: Disability and Royal Artillery Out-Pensions, Admission Books
Registers of the award of out-pensions of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to soldiers discharged from the Regular Army or the Militia on account of disability.

WO 117 Royal Hospital Chelsea: Length of Service Pensions, Admission Books
Service pensions books relating to pensions awarded to soldiers for length of service.

WO 229 War Office: Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force and 21 Army Group, 1943–1945
Documents originating with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force and 21 Army Group relating to a variety of headquarters responsibilities

WO 338 War Office: Officers' Services, Index to Long Number Papers, 1870-1922
This series contains the indexes used to identify the Long Number by which the First World War army officer's service records are organised in WO 339.

WO 373 Recommendations for Honours and Awards 1935-1990
Whole pieces from WO 373, which contains recommendations for honours and awards, 1935-1990. These pieces are arranged by theatre of war and date, although some of the pieces are indexed by name in the Catalogue. We have made the recommendations available to view as whole pieces, free of charge. This is because the original documents are quite complex, and it was not possible to index all of the series by name.You can also view individual entries from the series WO 373, for a fee of £3.50. This fee covers the cost of transcribing each of the 80,000 recommendations by name.

HO 9 Registers of the convicts in the hulks and a letter book relating to the establishment of the hulks, 1847 to 1849.
As stated

HO 10 Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania: Records.
Lists of the male and female convicts and former convicts in the colonies.

HO 11 Home Office: Convict Transportation Registers
Lists of convicts transported in various ships, giving the dates of their convictions.

There is also a tonne of Royal Naval and Admiralty papers, including medal rolls and service records, cabinet papers and more. So well worth a visit at - but be prepared for a lot of browsing!


Deceased Online update

I normally only announce Scottish releases on this blog, but here's a quick summary of recent Deceased Online ( releases:

• Greenwich becomes the 6th London Council to place its data on Deceased Online by adding records for Eltham Crematorium, one of the busiest crematoria in the country. Of the total 200,000+ records, an initial tranche of nearly 65,000 will be available by early August. (The other London councils are Brent, Camden, Havering, Islington and Merton)

• Wakefield Council, West Yorkshire: 82,000 burial records will be added by mid-July (a further 300,000 plus should be online later in 2011 and into 2012).

• Kettering, Northants: a total of 171,000 burial and cremation records for 8 cemeteries and a crematorium, most of which will be added in mid-July.

• Edinburgh: on 24 June, 313,000 records were added for Seafield Cemetery and Crematorium and Warriston Crematorium.

• Aberdeenshire: 37,400 records were added for 2 cemeteries in Peterhead during May and June.

• Romford, Essex: nearly 38,000 records were added in June for Romford Cemetery, completing all the Havering cemeteries.

• Wiltshire Council: 36,000 burial records for 7 cemeteries were added in May.

Perhaps more interesting for readers is a bit more background to just who or what Deceased Online actually is. So here's the small print from the press release!

• Deceased Online is a joint enterprise between Gower Consultants Ltd and Manuscripti Ltd. Gower Consultants ( is an independent computer systems and software supplier, founded in 1982, and working for most of this time within the cemetery and cremation management sector. Gower offers a range of IT products and management services successfully used by the industry for nearly 25 years. Manuscripti ( provides scanning, archiving and reproduction solutions specialising in working with and preserving old and fragile documents and books and particularly working with local authorities and other public bodies.

• The revenue that is generated is shared 50-50 between the council supplying the relevant purchased data and Deceased Online net of bank charges.

• Currently 50 authorities have placed their records onto Deceased Online and it is expected that this will rise to around 100 during 2012. There are nearly 450 cemeteries and crematoria with all, most or part of their records on the website and hopefully this will double by the end of 2012.

• The UK’s largest cemetery, St Pancras and Islington in north London, has all of its 850,000 burial records on Deceased Online.

It's a great venture, it's getting even better, and I'm looking forward to seeing some more Scottish content soon. I've also heard another wee whisper about something which will be of use to certain readers of this blog if it happens, but more news as and when!

Don't forget that Scottish Monumental Inscriptions ( now has records on the Deceased Online site also, from some thirteen counties across the country.

(With thanks to Richard Gray)


Sunday, 10 July 2011

New genealogy centre for Dublin?

The Irish Minister for Arts is proposing that Dublin's College Green be redeveloped in time for the 1916 anniversary, to become a 'great square', with the former Irish parliament building used to house parts of the national art collection, a world literature centre, a national genealogy centre, a papers archive and a “digital media lab for cultural materials”.

The Irish Times has the story at


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Remembering ancestors in China

A cousin of mine, David Macdonald Paton, was at one stage a chaplain to the present British Queen, but in earlier days had been a missionary to China. Read about his extraordinary exploits, and the New Year ceremony he witnessed in which the Chinese honoured their ancestors, on my other occasional blog, Walking in Eternity, at



Guest Post - Privacy Laws in Ontario

I recently had the great pleasure to be a guest of the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society ( The wonderful Linda Reid and her husband Pierce, both members of the branch, looked after me throughout my stay, and at one point Linda explained to me how privacy obsessed Ontario is, to the point of the almost ludicrous, and an issue which Canadians will have felt with the recent census which asked for little more than name and address. Linda has had a few battles with the Ontario Registrar General's staff over the last few years over the matter, and I asked if she could post her experiences on my blog to share with us here in Scotland, particularly for those who may have connections in Canada. If you think we have problems in Scotland or the UK on the issue in terms of access to records for genealogical research, take a look at what is happening over the Atlantic!

When you were in Toronto last month I mentioned how lucky the Scots are to have access to their BMD's. In Canada births, marriages and deaths are registered at the provincial, not the national level. Ontarians are limited by the arbitary and sometimes ridiculous policies of the Ontario Registrar General. A recent item in The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, on June 27 tells the story of how the Ontario Registrar General's office deleted a man's middle name from the birth records and told him that he would have to pay a change of name fee if he wanted to have his middle name back. (See Ward Duncan's article "The Government Changed My Name"

That reminded me of my own arguments with the Registrar General's staff. When my university-age daughter lost her birth certificate and needed a replacement in a hurry to avoid paying foreign student fees at registration, I attemped to buy a new one for her by placing an order at the government buildings in Toronto (the main facility is in Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario.) They told me I couldn't order the certificate-- because she had reached the age of majority and it "would violate her privacy". I did a number about being one of the participants in the birth event and knowing all about it. My signature was in fact on the form. The supervisor relented and let me order the certificate.

A few years later I was the executrix of the estate of my mother's cousin. The deceased's next-of-kin was an elderly man living in Las Vegas, Nevada. He asked me to get him an official copy of his sister's death certificate. I could have mailed him a form for his signature but I decided to challenge the Ontario Registrar General's clerks again. As expected they said that I couldn't order the certificate-- only the next-of-kin could. I explained that I had provided all the information on the death registration and it bore my signature. They really had no idea whether the deceased had a brother, where he lived and what his signature looked like. They relented and let me order the death certificate.

(With thanks to Linda)

Linda L. Reid M.L.S., is a retired librarian who worked in special libraries in the Toronto area, including the Ontario Legislative Library. She is a former chair of the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, and is currently the branch's programme coordinator, as well as editor of the Toronto Branch Electronic Bulletin. In February of this year the society created a Scottish Interest Group, convened at present by James F. S. Thomson. For further details see

New National Library of Ireland blog

The National Library of Ireland has launched a new blog, with its first post by the institution's director, Fiona Ross, available at

(With thanks to @GuildOneName on Twitter)


Friday, 8 July 2011

Refreshed data at ScotlandsPeople Centre

From the ScotlandsPeople Centre:

Fresh Data

We are pleased to announce that the indexes at the ScotlandsPeople Centre were refreshed on Wednesday 6th July.

For customers, this means that the indexes available at the Centre are much closer to those used for civil registration.

For the future, we plan to update the indexes at regular intervals, possibly every 3 months, but this has yet to be formalised.

If you are aware of any errors in our indexes then please report them to the staff in the search rooms using the appropriate forms available, which are pink for old parish records, yellow for census records and white for statutory records.

Remember that you can visit the historical search rooms for free in General Register House if you have a reader's ticket. To create a reader's ticket we need two passport size photos plus photographic ID and proof of your current address. Customers can view both original documents and virtual volumes. Examples of records that can be viewed include valuation rolls, Kirk session records, some wills and testaments after 1901, sasine records and much more. We advise that you speak to staff and by ringing 0131 535 1334.

Good luck with your research.

The ScotlandsPeople Team

(With thanks to the ScotlandsPeople team)


London wills on Ancestry - what's included

A few days ago I blogged about the launch of the London wills collection on Ancestry. It is an amazing collection, but the source information was not entirely clear on the site. As such I dropped a note to Ancestry to ask them for clarification, and Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager has very kindly responded with the following information on the ecclesiastical probate courts represented, as sourced from the London Metropolitan Archives.

The courts included are:

Consistory Court of London: DL/C
Commissary Court of London: DL/C/B
Archdeanery Court of London: DL/AL/C
Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex: DL/AM
Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s: CLC/313/k
Archdeaconry Court of Surrey: DW/PA
Commissary Court of Bishop of Winchester: DW/PC

Courts not included:

Royal Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower: CLC/199/TD
Court of Hustings: CLA/023

The site also states: "These are original wills only and do not include wills or administrations found in will registers or act books which are accessible on site at the London Metropolitan Archives. These do not include wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. "

A full list of pre-1858 probate records holdings at the London Metropolitan Archives for London, Surrey and Middlesex, is available at

The catalogue numbers listed above are for the holdings in the LMA. Miriam has stated that these should be listed in the Source Information to the right of each image on Ancestry, however I have had a look at a few and cannot see the link up, instead it seems to be a MS number only. However Miriam also states "I’m aware that many references start with MS. These too relate to a particular will in a particular court and I’m looking into how to relate these to the LMA’s catalogue number in a simple way."

The key point of all this is to be aware when searching the collection, brilliant though it is, that not all of London's wills and probate materials are included, but hopefully you'll have a better idea of what is there now and what isn't!

For more, see the Society of Genealogists' Else Churchill's post also at

(With a huge thanks to Annabel Reeves and Miriam Silverman at

UPDATE: Miriam has been in touch to confirm that the MS numbers are for wills documents which were sourced from the Guildhall. The numbers are as follows, with the collection being referred to:

MS 9172: Diocese of London, Consistory Court (DL/C/B)
MS 25628: Saint Paul's Cathedral: Peculiar Court (CLC/313)
MS 09052: Archdeaconry Court of London (DL/AL)

(Once again a big thanks to Miriam)


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Cancellation of Bell Rock sailings

An announcement on behalf of the Scottish Fisheries Museum Boats Club:

July 28-30th, 2011.

To celebrate and support the bicentenary of the building and light up of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, it had been intended that the Boats Club of the Scottish Fisheries Museum would organise three sailings on the 109 year old herring drifter Reaper from Arbroath out to the Bell Rock over the 28-30th July for guests in return for a donation towards the cost of maintaining the boat.

The Museum and Boats Club have been advised that taking individual and group bookings for these sailings and funding these through donations will probably affect both our essential charitable status and our rating under current MCA regulations in being seen to have a commercial trading element.

As it is very important that we protect Reaper’s status as a core member of the UK’s Historic Fleet, the Boats Club has decided – with much regret – to cancel the Bell Rock sailings from Arbroath at the end of July. Reaper will thus not be in Arbroath until we arrive up for the Arbroath Sea Fest on 14th August, with the boat remaining in Arbroath until it leaves for the Stonehaven Harbour Festival on the 20th August.

We realise that this will disappoint those who have made enquiries about coming aboard on these sailings, and we send them our apologies. We trust that the reasons for our decision will be understood as it is important that the basis of funding the continuing existence and operation of this iconic and historic boat is fully protected.

We are exploring other possible ways in which we can make up for the disappointment that will be felt by many as we do seek to make Reaper available to as many of her friends and supporters as possible.

We shall put information about this on the boat’s website ( and on the Museum’s Facebook page. We will welcome all those who had hoped to take part in the Bell Rock sailings onto Reaper during the Arbroath Sea Festival to further explain the reasons for the cancellation, and to express our regrets.

John Firn : Chair Scottish Fisheries Museum Boats Club. 6 July 2011.
Tel : 01333312198 Email :

(With thanks to Wendy Glass)


Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae on FamilySearch

I must admit, the new FamilySearch website never ceases to surprise me! Whilst writing up a news story for a magazine on the awarding of a place on the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain's Roll of Honour to FamilySearch's Todd Knowles (see my blog post at, I've just stumbled across a new FamilySearch site and database which will be of particular interest to many in Scotland and with Scottish ancestry.

Most pre-20th century Church of Scotland ministers have a short biographical entry recorded in a work known as the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticane, of which there are a few editions, and in some cases there may even be several entries if they served as minister in more than one parish. The records have been beautifully digitised and made available on Ancestry (, and can also be accessed at the Internet Archive (, though the digitisation of at least one of the volumes is quite poor on this site (but it is free!). A third site, The Scottish Ministers Index at, also provides a more limited access to a couple of volumes for the Synods of Lothian and Tweeddale (1914 edition), and the Synods of Merse and Teviotdale Dumfries and Galloway (3rd edition).

Add to that another online source now, in the form of Family Search's Community Trees site at which amongst many offerings has a fully searchable database of all those listed in the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae collection, some 88,501 names, whether ministers or members of extended families as included in each ministerial entry. It does not seem to provide a source reference for the original volume from which the person named was found, sadly, but it does at least provide details of ministers' charges etc, along with vital records information, so still a useful first step to at least check if they were recorded. The records are also represented in family tree format also, showing relationships as recorded in the biographical entries. The collection was added online in April of this year.

Additional records from Wales and England are also hosted, as well as the Knowles Collection, with more information on these available at

UPDATE: FamilySearch now has a Wiki page on this database at