Monday, 12 September 2011

UK Genealogy News & Views: 12 September 2011

Essex Ancestors Update

The planned launch of Essex Ancestors on 30 August has been put back to 3 October. This means that you have an extra month to view the digital images currently online for free, as explained in my previous post. Don't miss this opportunity whilst it is available.

Genhound - a little known resource

I read a lot of genealogy blogs and follow many genealogists on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Some sites get mentioned repeatedly but I rarely see any reference to Genhound. That is a pity as it is full of useful content which is growing fast. Records include parish registers, monumental inscriptions, newspapers, obituaries, wills, military records, court records, land records, biographies and much more besides. You can see a complete list of databases here. At the moment there is a little bit of everything, so it's a real lucky dip. As someone who's stuck in late 17th century Scotland, I am particularly keen on the Scottish Deeds Index, which now covers the period 1675-1696. But I've also found relatives in poll books, directories and school records. Genhound is extremely reasonably priced. You can buy 60 Credits for £3 and they have no expiry date. The average record costs just 10 credits (50p) to view. Do give their search engine a try today and let me know how you get on.

New Crew List Records on Find My Past

Find My Past have recently added records from 1881 and 1891 to their database of Crew Lists, 1861-1913. This database is potentially very valuable. It contains indexes to around 33,500 lists of crew members on board British merchant vessels and around 413,500 records of individual crewmen. Information available in the index includes name, age, place of birth, rank, previous ship, current ship, dates of voyage, details of the vessel, details of the owner, master and other crew members and the reference number for the original crew list at the National Archives.

Unfortunately, the usefulness of the index is seriously undermined by the limitations of the search function and the poor quality of the indexing. It is not possible to search by the birth town, only by the birth county (usually not in the original but added by the indexers). You must select from a list of counties which covers England, Wales, two counties in Ireland - Cork and Dublin, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Overseas. The database contains a large number of crew members who were born in one of the other Irish counties, or in Scotland, but it is impossible to search for them by birth county.

Birth towns have also been incorrectly allocated to counties. Whilst ploughing through 28 pages of Andersons to find my Scottish relatives, I came across Falmouth indexed in Cork instead of Cornwall, Ferryden in Overseas instead of Angus and Arundel in Norway! There are five whole pages out of the 28 where the places have not been allocated a county at all. Many of these birth places are blank, abbreviated or obscure, but others are instantly recognisable, such as Morpeth, Tipton, Halifax, Glamis, Kirkcaldy and Pontypridd.

Unlike most of the other Find My Past databases, there is no facility to submit corrections to these indexes.

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