In aid of the Diocese of Nottingham, Sick and Retired Priests Fund, Canon Anthony Dolan has published Good News for the East Midlands – An account of the background to and the story of, the Diocese of Nottingham.
The book can be ordered from the address on the poster above, or from the website.
Having been researching my family history since my teenage years, largely through Ancestry.com I decided in March, after much deliberation, to undertake a DNA test. The popularity of these tests for genealogical purposes has become very popular lately, particular as a result of television advertising
After paying my fee of £79, I received my DNA kit in the post, the test involves filling a test tube with saliva, I sent the test-tube back on 12 March and had the results within a month.
The results have three main areas.
- DNA Story
This is supposed to pinpoint which parts of the world your DNA markers originate from. The results however are in my view slightly spurious, they undertake this test by sampling a couple of thousand individuals with long proven family backgrounds in different regions of the world, then match your DNA makers to theirs. Although this may seem like a very small sample base for a world population of more than 7 billion, apparently Ancestry has the largest sample base of any of the DNA companies.
Having traced all lines of my ancestry back to at least the 1700s (and many much further), I have found my background to be a quarter Irish and three quarters English.
These are my results from the Ancestry DNA story, the 27% Irish being as expected, however 65% from Western Europe, and only 5% from England, came as something of a surprise, I have found no European ancestry, only English so far, this is presumably suggesting that almost every single one of my English ancestral lines originated in Europe, a fact that I find unlikely.
- DNA Matches
This section matches you up to other people who have taken the test and who share DNA markers with you, delineated by siblings, 1stcousins, 2ndcousins, 3rdcousins etc.
It is in this area that for me the DNA test has been worthwhile, it connected me with four 3rdcousins (meaning we share a great grandparent). I contacted all four of these people, the first two I found were descendants of my father’s paternal grandmother’s siblings, including a line I had previously been unable to work out. The third was a granddaughter of my Mother’s maternal grandmother’s elder sister who had emigrated to America in the 1910s and the family had lost contact with – the family live in Buffalo on the banks of Lake Eerie, the final 3rdcousin turned out to be granddaughter of the illegitimate son of my father’s paternal grandfather’s brother, the discovery of this line has solved many mysteries in both our families.
The downside of this is that your shared matches have made their family trees private, as many people have, it is very difficult to work out family connections.
- DNA Circles
These it seems are linking you with distant cousins around a particular shared ancestor. I am still waiting for these to develop.
In conclusion, while I treat the DNA story with some dubiousness, for me the DNA matches have made the whole process worthwhile, after only a month I have made contact with distant cousins and have filled out some unknown lines of my family tree, and for this purpose I would recommend it.
For genealogists, the United Kingdom Census records are probably the most valuable records presently available. At the moment the census records from 1841 to 1911 are available searchable online at various commercial websites.
The next census, which was taken on Sunday 19 June 1921, is due to be released in 2022, this is despite efforts by various bodies to have it released earlier, as had happened with the 1911 census. However the official government position remained that “its intention to release the entirety of the 1921 Census returns in 2022, in accordance with the non-statutory ‘100 year rule’ which was adopted to reflect this undertaking of confidentiality”. The census when released will provide full details of the 42,767,530 individuals living in the United Kingdom at the time.
This however will sadly be the final census that genealogists will see for more than thirty years for a variety of reasons.
The 1931 census has been destroyed – it was being stored in an Ministry of Works warehouse that on the night of the 19th December 1942 caught fire, not as is commonly believed as a result of the blitz, but simply due to an accident. An archivist from the General Register Office who surveyed the ruins after the fire reported:
You will regret to hear that in a fire last Saturday evening which gutted the Office of Works store containing our Census records at Hayes, the whole of the 1931 schedules, enumeration books, plans of division and miscellaneous material stored in cupboards etc were completely destroyed. Mr Farrow and I went down to inspect the remains yesterday and we are both satisfied that it would be useless to attempt any sort of salvage operation; we are leaving the Office of Works to clear and dispose of the debris in any way they think desirable.
The fire was not occasioned by enemy action and how it achieved such dimensions in a store in which special hydrants had been fitted and said to have been in charge of a fire guard of 6 paid watchers, is a mystery which will need investigation. It is hardly possible to imagine a more complete state of devastation than the scene presented to us in which it was impossible to see where some of the racks had stood and where the remains were nothing more than shapeless mounds of paper rubbish dragged outside the building by the firemen who tackled the fire and where even the least damaged sheets that were recognizable were charred to the depth of two or three inches on all edges.
The next census, due to have been taken in 1941, didn’t happen due to the War, although in 1939, the government department tasked with issuing National Identity Cards did construct a register of every person in the country at the time. Parts of the 1939 register is available online at Find My Past, but only the entries related to individuals born over 100 years ago, or who had died prior to 1991, however if you can prove the death of an individual since 1991, you can request their record to be opened.
Thus the next available census will be that taken in 1951, which not be available until 2052, another 34 years, leaving a massive gap for genealogists, that we will never be able to fill.
Since 12 October 2017, the General Register Office (GRO) has been piloting a new service for genealogists ordering birth and death certificates online.
Previously the only option available was to order the certificate and wait for a paper version to arrive in the post, the cost being £9.25 for standard delivery, or £23.40 for express next-day delivery.
The pilot service gives the option instead for a PDF version of the certificate to be made available online for a lower cost of £6. When your order is available from your GRO account, you will receive an email, and you will then able to view and download the certificate on your computer.
This example shows a PDF I ordered last week of my Irish Great Grandfather’s death.
The original plan was to pilot the service for three months and then to assess the demand. The pilot has now been extended, and hopefully it will become a permanent service and will extended to include other certificates, such as marriages.
Heritage Open Days 2017 will be taking place between the 7th and the 10th September this year.
As usual many Catholic churches are opening their doors giving people the opportunity to explore buildings usually kept locked while not in use. Please consider making use of this opportunity to support these sites.
For more information consult the Heritage Open Days website www.heritageopendays.org.uk
Hurst Cross, St Christopher RC Church
Sefton Park, Liverpool St Clare’s RC Church
Liverpool, St Francis Xavier’s RC Church
Old Swan, Liverpool, St Oswald’s RC Church
Wallasey, Ss Peter & Paul’s RC Church (The Dome of Home)
St Helen’s, Holy Cross & St Helen RC Church
Darwen, Sacred Heart & St Edward RC Church
Over Darwen, St Joseph RC Church
Stockport, Our Lady & the Apostles RC Church
NORTH EAST & YORKSHIRE
Old Elvet, St Cuthbert’s RC Church
Old Esh, St Michael’s RC Church
Hull, St Vincent’s RC Church
Hull, St Charles Borromeo RC Church
Old Gate, St Robert of Newminster RC Church
Tyne and Wear
Gateshead, St Patrick’s RC Church
Sunderland, St Ignatius the Martyr RC Church
Wallsend, Our Lady & St Columba RC Church
Blaydon on Tyne, St Mary & St Thomas RC Church
Launceston, St Cuthbert Mayne RC Church
Bath, Eyre Chapel
Calne, St Edmund’s RC Church
SOUTH EAST & HOME COUNTIES
Reading, St James RC Church
Reading, Sacred Heart RC Church
Colchester, St James the Less & St Helen’s RC Church
Bishop’s Stortford, St Joseph’s RC Church
Folkstone, St Peter’s RC Church
Effingham, Our Lady of Sorrows RC Church
Effingham, St Teresa’s RC School
Woking, Holy Cross Chapel
Gloucester, St Peter’s RC Church
Newcastle under Lyme, Holy Trinity RC Church
Burslem, St Joseph’s RC Church
Stoke on Trent, Sacred Heart RC Church
Birmingham, St Chad’s Cathedral
Birmingham, The Oratory
Grimsby, St Mary on the Sea RC Church
With the centenary of the Great War in full swing, interest from genealogists in the role played by their ancestors in the conflict has never been higher, and one of the questions I am frequently asked by people is whether I can help them find their ancestors military service record.
Sadly, the answer is often ‘no’, due to the fact that only a percentage of military files from this period are available, and the reason is quite complicated.
Historically, the British Civil Service was renowned for it’s record keeping; files were created and kept on every aspect of administration of the British Empire, and the military was no different, every soldier who served from around 1900, had a personnel file created about them. This file contained their attestation papers, medical reports and records, disciplinary records, conduct reports, as well as miscellanea of other items relevant to the soldier in question.
By 1914, the regular and reserve army in Britain numbered about three quarters of a million men, however by the end of the war, more than seven million were thought to have served.
Following the conclusion of the war, the records were retained in the War Office Records Store, located in Arnside Street, London. The building was however hit by a high explosive bomb in September 1940 during the London Blitz, and although the initial explosion did not destroy the records, the subsequent fire would do. About 60% of the service records were completely destroyed that day, those that remain fit into the following categories
The Burnt Collection
About one third of the records were retrieved from the ruins, and put in storage, extensive work later took place to preserve and restore these remaining records, they are about 2 million in number, and are available on microfilm at the National Archives, or by subscription on Ancestry, originals are not permitted to be accessed due to their fragility.
The Un-burnt Collection
About 750,000 records escaped destruction being stored as they were in a different building.
Therefore unfortunately most people will find that they are unable to locate their family record of military service. If you can, you are lucky.
Records for personnel who served after the war and in WW2 are still restricted and will not be completely open access for many more years.
Local newspapers are a valuable source for any family historian, but as any genealogist will know, sitting at a microfilm reader scrolling through page after page of grainy images to search for relevant information is a long and arduous process.
The British Library have therefore been working for a couple of years on digitising their collections of local newspapers, undertaking OCR (character recognition) and releasing fully searchable copies on to a specially designed website
For a relatively small monthly subscription (£12.95), you get complete access to more than 700 titles, and nearly 18 million pages, this increases each week as more scanning is completed.
Through this project you can read how newspapers across the county reported on key events from the past 200 years, and can also track down ancestors (particularly if they have had a suitably notorious past to catch the attention of the press).