Monday, 30 April 2012

Mainly London News

Despite a good trawl around the Internet this morning, I couldn't come up with a great deal in the way of genealogy news - and most of what I found concerned the capital...

London's Gresham College has unveiled its schedule of May public lectures - listing is here, website is here.

Those with a research interest in Chelsea Pensioner records will want to check out this post from Chris Paton.

The 'A Rebel Hand' blog has a useful post for rookie London researchers.

Something else for Londoners: the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery Open Day.

The latest TNA Podcast is now available.

Another little round-up of history links has been laid on by the Two Nerdy History Girls - see here.

I always find 'The Armchair Genealogist's' Monday Morning Mentions worthy of a browse. One item from the same which I thought quite neat was 'How to write your life story in twenty statements'.

The final part of Nicola Elsom's series of articles about setting up a Wordpress blog can be found here.

And quite a few of the news items which popped up over the weekend can be found on the BI-Gen Twitter feed.

Oh, and don't forget...

(use code APRSUB10 - valid until 6th May)

Epitaph, source unknown...

By many folks it has been said,
"The only staff of life is bread";
How could it then stop Simon's breath,
And give him o'er to icy Death?
One little morsel prov'd his last,
Which he devour'd in so much haste;
That angry Death, in passion, swore
He ne'er should swallow one bit more.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Something for the Weekend 7

Most weekends BI-Gen will take a break from the world of family history news and wander into other areas. This ‘Something for the Weekend’ feature will give myself and others the chance to vent their spleens with an opinion-piece, to recommend a product or research technique, or to simply show-off their expertise! Who knows what will find its way onto the blog?

If you’ve an idea, run it past me - I'd really like to hear from you. There is no need to be an expert, a published author, or qualified in any way. If you've got something interesting to say, get in touch with me at .

This week we examine a minority area of interest ...

The English Diaspora

Now there’s a phrase you don’t hear very often. “The English Diaspora”. Irish, Scottish, African and, of course, Jewish – yes. But English?

Last weekend I made one of my rare visits to a genealogy seminar purely on the strength of the lead talk, teasingly entitled ‘Why do we not talk about an English Diaspora?’ It was part of an afternoon’s get-together at Northumbria University on the subject of ‘The Search for the Missing England’.

The one hour talk was given by Professor Don MacRaild, Principal Investigator with the team recently assembled to look into this very subject (see Professor MacRaild specialises in the social histories of migrations and has held several appropriate posts around the world rendering him especially useful for this curious project.

I cannot hope to do the talk nor the topic justice in this short piece, and would urge you to visit the website (and perhaps even join their mailing list). However, consider some of these points:

  • Do genealogists deliberately look for Celtic ancestors at the expense of their English forebears?
  • English culture, tradition and practices have spread at least as widely across the globe as those of the Celts (and probably much more so).
  • English colonists vastly outnumbered those of Celtic origin almost everywhere.
  • In pretty much all migrations to foreign shores, it was the English who got there first – to be followed later by the Scots, Irish and Welsh.

So why, then, is there no concept of an English Diaspora?

The question fascinated me. And the answer, it seems, is simply that the English, in spreading the British way of life throughout the Empire, simply got there first (in general, anyway). On arrival, they imposed their ‘ways’, then along came the Celts – who then found themselves in a minority under overseas ‘English’ rule. They then became and/or considered themselves ‘different’ to the existing English colonists (and may even have been treated as such), and thence determined to maintain a sort of ‘independence’ from the ruling English.

Result: English = imperialistic, Celts = diasporic.

And that is how it stayed, forever. Despite half-baked attempts at ‘St.George’s’ societies, ‘Sons of England’ organisations, and ‘Anglo-Saxon lodges’ – as well as the successful introduction of many organised English sports – the idea of an ‘English Diaspora’ just never took off abroad.

If, as seems likely, the English are soon to find themselves on their own as a country, will this lead to a resurgence of interest in what it means to be English – both at home and, er, abroad?

Oh, and BTW, the audience for the talk totalled a measly ten – a fact not lost on the speaker, who must wonder if he’s fighting a losing battle.

Interesting, though.

Mick Southwick

Friday, 27 April 2012

Many Minor Things

Today has brought a fair old wave of genealogy news items. And though there's nothing to blow your socks off, I hope you still find something worthwhile below...

Here's an interesting article about a long overdue burial from the Daily Mail website.

A nice piece about Dr Barnardo's 'Shilling Baby' can be found here.

US Blogger, Randy Seaver, has compiled an Ancestry/ 'comment compendium' for those of you who are following the takeover story from the States.

A couple of items from the Irish Genealogy News blog:

The HistoryToday website has a 'History Around the Web' round-up (check out the Mary Beard piece!).

Michael J Leclerc neatly summarises recent developments re. the changes to Ancestry's Terms of Service.

Blogger John D Reid mentions a recent addition to the FamilySearch website concerning Glamorgan PRs.

Many of you may be considering starting a genealogy blog - if so, you may wish to follow Nicola Elsom's advice.

This may interest a select few of you: a post on TNA's blog about the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives.

The BBC's HistoryExtra website has the following on offer:

And there's much, much more available via the BI-Gen Twitter feed (you don't have to 'follow' me to view this, but it'd be great if you could!).

Today's oddity has absolutely nothing to do with genealogy, other than the fact that the item below appeared on a family history website (MyHeritage). Check out the splendid video - the last film clip on the same is almost unbelievable.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Big News ... Well, for the US, Anyway

Though it is unlikely to cause quite the storm it's created in the US, the takeover of by Ancestry is worth casting our eyes over on this side of the Atlantic - see the announcement as it appeared on Dick Eastman's blog.

Several news items which have appeared on various blogs and websites over the past few days are neatly summed up by Family Tree Magazine's blog here and here. In both cases, the fine detail of the record releases is hard to come by (even from the actual websites themselves) - but have a quick look and see if you wish to investigate further. Oh, and Family Tree Magazine also has a competition, here.

Not quite sure how old this news is, but this item has just popped up on the Emerald Ancestors website re. the 1926 Irish Census release.

The latest Pharos e-Bulletin is now available.

Irish folk may wish to browse Linen Hall's May events listing.

It's some time since I've mentioned the weekly updates from Electric Scotland - catch up on what's been happening here.

A neat article about early Australian convicts has been flagged on Twitter (thanks to @ARebelHand).

Lovers of architectural history will want to have a look at the latest post of the British History Online blog concerning the digitisation of the inventory volumes of the RCHME.

More news and stories available via the BI-Gen Twitter feed.

Oh, and don't forget...
(use code APRSUB10 - valid until 6th May)

From an Essex churchyard:

Here lies the man RICHARD,
And MARY his wife;
Their surname was PRITCHARD,
They lived without strife.
And the reason was plain:
They abounded in riches,
They had no care or pain,
And the wife wore the breeches.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Quiet Day - but not for the Irish!

Not a huge amount of genealogy news around today (though Ireland does OK), but I'll give you what I've got...

The future of our libraries is once again brought into focus by the excellent Public Libraries News blog - see a summary of the recent Surrey Libraries court case and a piece on our non-action government minister, Ed Vaizey.

The latest PRONI / OUI lecture on 'Urban History' is now online at YouTube. Click on the PRONIonline channel, and you will see the presentation divided into six parts.

FindMyPast Ireland has a blog post from Fiona Fitzsimons on the subject of Griffith's Valuation.

Blogger Claire Santry points us in the direction of another source of material for Irish researchers, here. And there's also an appeal for info on the Irish Civil War of 1922-23 on the same blog.

In honour of ANZAC Day, Ancestry are offering free access to many of their military records during 25th-29th April - see here.

Those of you with an interest in the genealogy website or the specialist genealogy search engine Mocavo should read this post on the latter's blog.

The HistoryToday website has released its latest Podcast.

And that's all for today. More minor news and stories can be found on the BI-Gen Twitter feed.

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

Sorry, but I'm not being deliberately sexist again...

Just to balance it out, check out the photo on this blog post from Ruth Blair...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

New FindMyPast Stuff + Forthcoming Events

FindMyPast have today released two new batches of records:

And, remember, you can currently get 10% off all FindMyPast subscriptions by using the promotional code APRSUB10 (until 6th May).

Forthcoming events of interest to the family historian...

One or two of the above require booking - but there's still time if you're quick.

Chris Paton's BritishGENES blog carries a piece on the possibility of a Scottish WDYTYA? Live Fair - see here. How very interesting!

The new 'Volunteering for Shropshire's Heritage' initiative has just been launched - a scheme which will last for three years and involves encouraging people to help catalogue, digitise and exhibit some of the county's archive collection. Click here for further info. [note: please don't wait for such schemes to come along - do ask at your local archive department if you can help out in any way in this regard]

Blogger John D Reid details recent updates to the FreeBMD website. The site itself can be found here.

There's a report on the Scottish Association of FHS's Conference from Chris Paton available here.

Irish researchers may be interested in this handy summary of recent developments at Ancestry.

Irish alumni records have popped up on the website - see here.

Part 3 of Nicola Elsom's 'Getting to Grips With the Master Genealogist' is now available.

More news and stories at the BI-Gen Twitter feed. Please 'follow' me if you can!

Careful, girls...

Monday, 23 April 2012

St.George's Day, Kent, FMP Offer + more...

Today is St.George's Day, of course - the day when William Shakespeare somewhat appropriately died (and also possibly born!). The National Archives' latest newsletter leads with details of the Bard's famous will, here. More St.George's stuff here.

I see the brand new Kent History and Library Centre has opened today in Maidstone - I first spotted the story here.

FindMyPast are running another '10% off' offer. Click here and sign up for ANY subscription package ... and use the promotional code APRSUB10. Ends 6th May.

Irish researchers may wish to take a quick look at Eneclann's latest newsletter, which includes important news of the forthcoming History Festival of Ireland at Rathvilly on 9th & 10th June.

The May issue of the WDYTYA? Magazine is now on the market. And the May issue of Your Family Tree Magazine is also available - best go in via their handy 'downloads page' (yeah, free stuff!).

There's a women's history website/blog which will interest many of you at Chick History (thanks to Ros Bott).

Check out 'Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Scrapbook 1897'.

Some great history articles can be found via the Two Nerdy History Girls weekly round-up.

And the Armchair Genealogist's 'Monday Morning Mentions' are always worth a look.

Oh, and more news available via the BI-Gen Twitter feed.

OK, here's a reminder...
Get 10% off all subscriptions at has the most complete England, Wales & Scotland census collection as well as the most complete online index for BMDs (1837-2006) - and has over 750 million searchable records online. Use promotional code APRSUB10 when purchasing any subscription. Ends 6th May.

BTW, there's also a special offer at (my Lulu store is here).

And finally, at the risk of upsetting 50% of my readership...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Something for the Weekend 6

Most weekends BI-Gen will take a break from the world of family history news and wander into other areas. This ‘Something for the Weekend’ feature will give myself and others the chance to vent their spleens with an opinion-piece, to recommend a product or research technique, or to simply show-off their expertise! Who knows what will find its way onto the blog?

If you’ve an idea, run it past me - I'd really like to hear from you. There is no need to be an expert, a published author, or qualified in any way. If you've got something interesting to say, get in touch with me at .

This week we take a layman’s look at a specialist field ...

Genetic Genealogy: View from the Sidelines

DNA analysis is claiming an ever-greater share of the genealogy market, and may eventually come to dominate our research thoughts and practices. Almost every day I seem to trip over a new article, a fresh theory or a madcap, speculative idea connected with this fascinating area of genealogical research. And it is, frankly, bewildering.

Chances are that, like me, you only have a very basic grasp of what this DNA testing thing is all about. Paternal line = Y-chromosome DNA, maternal line = mitochondrial DNA, and the new-fangled autosomal DNA testing which seems to be a bit of both, or neither, or whatever. You may, or may not, have taken the plunge with one of the many testing companies – and may, or may not, be wiser for the experience. You’ll certainly be a good deal poorer.

It doesn’t take much in the way of ‘googling’ to find any amount of guidance on the matter – scientific papers, dumbed-down articles for the layman, and attention-grabbing presentations on YouTube all vie for our attention. It’s an incredibly exciting branch of science, and a one which is, remember, still very much in its infancy. Goodness knows what the next twenty, fifty or hundred years will bring.

Some of the astonishing stories to surface of late include…

  • All humans are descended from a single female who lived around 200,000 years ago (‘Mitochondrial Eve’)…;
  • … And that there was a ‘Y-chromosomal Adam’, too, who lived around 100,000 years ago;
  • Pretty much all of us without total-African descent have a bit of Neanderthal in us;
  • Research among chimpanzees has revealed that they are incredibly more genetically diverse than the human race (that is to say, all humans are very closely related to one another);
  • By identifying genetic mutations in a person’s DNA it will soon be possible to pin an ancestor of theirs to a particular place on the planet where that mutation was known to have originated.  

They’re even talking about extracting DNA from the backs of postage stamps, for goodness sake. It’s only a matter of time before we’re digging up our ancestors to obtain DNA samples from the grave. Or has this already been done?

Exciting though this is, I’m not sure I need to be told that I’m 0.85% Neanderthal, that my paternal line originated in Northern Spain at the time of the last Ice Age, or that, surprise, surprise, I’m actually related to everybody else in the world. Tracing one single strand of your personal ancestry back to a village in southern France sounds amazing, but is of no practical use to your research.

As things stand, genealogy DNA tests do not tell folk precisely how they are related – or even who their common ancestor was. It must be used in conjunction with detailed, old-fashioned research to get anywhere near. Mitochondrial DNA testing is especially useless for short-term relationships, and Y-chromosome testing only slightly less so. Value for money it certainly ain’t. But to an outsider looking in (like me) it seems that autosomal DNA testing promises much more.

Here’s the big one, though. It is estimated that within the next decade it will become affordable to have your entire personal genome sequenced. And once that is done for a sizeable proportion of the civilised world – in, say, a few decades time – then there seems no limit to where science can take us genealogists.

Though a ‘world family tree’ may in theory be possible, I shouldn’t think we’ll ever get there. But it’ll be fun trying.

Mick Southwick

P.S. Your thoughts, please...

Friday, 20 April 2012

GOONS, Libs, DNA & much more

One-Namers may be interested in this lengthy report on the goings-on at the recent GOONS Conference & AGM. Take note, especially, of the society's new 'wiki book' on The Art of One-Name Studies, which looks very handy.

Some musings on the possible scrapping of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport and what that means for the future of our libraries can be found here.

Randy Seaver has published the second in his series of blog posts concerning his experiences with Ancestry's new Autosomal DNA Test.

Followers of Welsh history will be interested in this post on the 'Heritage of Wales News Blog' concerning the nation's most important places.

Claire Santry reports on the addition of new Irish burial records to the Ancestry website - see here.

Deceased Online has a new records release - this time concerning Eltham Crematorium, Greenwich.

The latest TNA podcast looks at the recent release of colonial administration records.

Family Tree magazine's May issue is now on sale.

One more Titanic mention - and that's because it's from one of my favourite bloggers. Check out Ros Bott's Titanic crew member case study.

Michael J Leclerc, Mocavo's resident blogger, has an interesting lead in to an article on chronicling your family's medical history.

'History Headlines' for the week can be seen here.

And the BBC's TV/radio guide for the week ahead is available here - oh, and here's the Beeb's latest history podcast (ancient Rome and history teaching).

More news and stories at the BI-Gen Twitter feed.

No family history 'oddity' today. Thought it was about time I made an appeal for material in this respect. So if you've any odd record entries which you think may fit the bill do send them into me at Thank you!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Birmingham News + Minor Bits from Elsewhere

FindMyPast are at it again. Their latest release concerns the records of Handsworth Cemetery, Birmingham - see here.

Various sources have picked up the story regarding plans to place the post-1858 probate calendars for England & Wales online.

Those of you who currently enjoy the completely free Warfare magazine will want to take note of this announcement concerning the same.

There's a fascinating glimpse into the DNA of the Scots in this BBC article.

An interesting look at the guys behind the original GRO Indexes from blogger Audrey Collins - see here.

The latest instalment of Lynn Palermo's look at blogging your way to writing up your family history can be found here.

A useful Internet site for Derbyshire researchers has been spotted by blogger John D Reid.

'Books: Essential Genealogy Resources' is the title of a handy post on the MyHeritage blog.

More genea news and stories available via the BI-Gen Twitter feed.

A ropey old marriage...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Scottish News + More

A wee blast of news from Scotland...

Scottish researchers will want to cast their eyes over the April issue of the Scottish Association of FHS's bulletin.

The National Library of Scotland has launched a new blog for family and local historians - and very interesting it is, too!

The ScotlandsPeople Centre is hosting a Titanic display until late May - see here.

And from elsewhere...

Ancestry have added new West Yorkshire non-conformist records to their website - see their 'updates page'.

I seem to have overlooked a few additions to TheGenealogist's datasets (Dorset/Winchester/Worcestershire material + Titanic stuff) - see here.

If you're interested in the topic of online access to archival data from a providers' point of view, then you may wish to click through to the Archives Discovery Forum 2012 website - where you will find plenty of leads to follow through (including a link to TNA's website, where copies of the presentations are available).

'Ruth's Recommendations' provides a summary of genealogy posts from the past week, including mention of the 'was Dracula Irish?' story which is doing the rounds.

Claire Santry has flagged a special offer from Irish Roots magazine. Claire also brings us news of an important Irish oral histories project launch.

There's more news re. the release of TNA's 'colonial administration records'.

Fancy a history crossword? Try this.

And, of course, more news is available via BI-Gen's Twitter feed.

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

Not for the easily offended...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Genea Events + News Round-up

Let's kick off with some 'forthcoming events'...
Essex Record Office has a lengthy series of events lined up for the coming weeks - contact them at for further details.

Elsewhere, I see that the latest Lost Cousins newsletter is now available - one of the best genealogy e-bulletins around.

A good few bits and bobs have popped up on the Irish Genealogy News blog of late - among them...

Many of you will be interested in the newly-available DNA tests from Ancestry - here's US blogger Randy Seaver's early experiences of the set-up, which give a window into how they work.

Here are some discounted books from BooksIreland.

And this is not at all genealogical, but as it's from my corner of England I hope you'll excuse me. It's all to do with the British Library's latest purchase ... the oldest intact book in Europe!

BI-Gen's Twitter feed (with MORE news) can be found here.

Underneath this sod lies Arabella Young,
Who on the 5th of May began to hold her tongue.

(epitaph - location unknown)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Public Libraries & TNA News ... + more!

The Public Libraries News blog is a great medium through which you can keep up to date with, well, public libraries news! Check out two recent pieces here and here, plus a post dedicated to London libraries.

No prizes for guessing the subject matter of the most recent news release from The National Archives. And there's more Titanic stuff from TNA here.

TNA have also unveiled their most recent Podcast - see here. And the same organisation have posted a blog entry on the rather specialist subject of the 'Grants & Academic Support Panel'.

News regarding the planned new home for the British Postal Museum & Archive can be accessed at the SoG's blog.

Here's an interesting piece of photographic news from the National Library of Ireland.

GenealogyInTime has a summary of recent record releases from around the world.

Blogger Nick Thorne has some pretty good general advice, here, about research into occupations/professions.

The HistoryToday Magazine website has news of its May issue.

Want more reading? Check out the Two Nerdy History Girls' weekly history links round-up. What, you want even more? Well, there's an excellent weekly summary of genealogy stuff from The Armchair Genealogist, here (check out the short TED video - fascinating!).

And BI-Gen's Twitter feed (with MORE news) can be found here.

A strange tale from The National Archives blog...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Something for the Weekend 5

Most weekends BI-Gen will take a break from the world of family history news and wander into other areas. This new ‘Something for the Weekend’ feature will give myself and others the chance to vent their spleens with an opinion-piece, to recommend a product or research technique, or to simply show-off their expertise! Who knows what will find its way onto the blog?

If you’ve an idea, run it past me - I'd really like to hear from you. There is no need to be an expert, a published author, or qualified in any way. If you've got something interesting to say, get in touch with me at .

This week we look at a neglected area of our family histories...

Things which make us who we’re not

The character traits which mark people out as different from other folk are what make individuals really interesting. This applies to everyone: friends, acquaintances, family members – and, of course, ourselves.  Furthermore, when we’re cobbling together biographies of our ancestors, these little personality quirks are like little nuggets of gold.

Chances are, of course, that you’re somewhat limited about what you can say about long-dead relatives. You may be able to say when and where they were born, married and died, where they lived their lives and what they did for a living – but in most cases, that’s pretty much it. This article isn’t for them.

But if you’re looking to conduct a character appraisal of yourself or your parents (or maybe grandparents) – or anyone, in fact, for which a good deal of biographical tittle-tattle is known, well, it’s a different matter altogether.

All the usual angles are fair game. Names, dates, occupations, places of abode, work and leisure. Everyone has hobbies and interests, skills and talents, virtues and vices. All of which are coloured and tainted by chance, misfortune, opportunity, wealth, health, and, of course, strength of character. These things are often easily defined, occasionally less so, but it takes a skilled biographer to successfully intertwine the many and varied strands of a person’s life into an effective biography.

Equally, however, it’s the things which an individual didn’t believe in, subscribe to or partake in which mark them out as special. And this fact is worth remembering when attempting to fulfil your role as the family historian. Consider how the following ‘negative’ facts may greatly enhance a family member’s life story:
  • Dislikes (food, sport/games, TV/book/music genres, etc);
  • Fears (phobias, etc);
  • Regrets (missed opportunities, bad decisions);
  • Health problems;
  • Prejudices;
  • and even personality defects (bad temper, impatience, etc).

In addition to the above, there are a whole host of other areas of interest. These aren’t necessarily ‘negative’ in a bad sense, but rather as going ‘against the grain’. Eccentricities are of obvious interest, but take this ‘off the cuff’ list of my own little foibles – all of which seem to fly in the face of what we’re all supposed to like and enjoy:
  • I have a fear of public speaking;
  • I can’t drive;
  • I don’t like foreign holidays;
  • I’m not a ‘party person’;
  • I don’t like conflict;
  • I don’t watch soap operas;
  • I have no interest in our ‘celebrity culture’.

And a good few more besides…

So when you eventually sit down to write your memoirs, or to pen the biography of your mother, father or uncle, then don’t forget about the negatives. It’ll make for a positively riveting read.

Mick Southwick

Friday, 13 April 2012

Titanic Stuff + Lots More

I have tried to steer away from the subject of the Titanic on this blog, as the world seems to be obsessed with the topic at the minute. Perhaps one of the most useful things we can take away from the current hysteria is to 'check the facts' when it comes to historical research. A short while ago I mentioned this article on the myths surrounding the Titanic story, and 'The Armchair Genealogist' hammers home the point, here.

And whilst we're with the Titanic I might as well flag this article by Nick Barratt.

Elsewhere, FindMyPast have been busy again - today they have news of record releases concerning Northants, Yorkshire, Dorset and Kent.

DeceasedOnline have added records pertaining to the Cotswolds to their website. Click here, then see bottom-right of screen.

Here are a couple of items to catch up on from Claire Santry's blog:

And here's some important news from Chris Paton's blog:

A collection of some recent history articles can be found at the HistoryToday website, here.

A couple of items from the BBC's HistoryExtra site:
  • Podcast (Roman invasion / Shakespeare's Richard II);
  • TV & radio for the coming week.

There's an 'appeal for information' on the FMP blog which may interest some of you.

And more news can be found via my Twitter feed. There may be something there for you, so do have a quick look.

Oh, I was just about to close out this post when yet another Titanic item popped up! Enough, please!!

Can you imagine how long it took to make this wonderful time-lapse film?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Two New Record Sets From FindMyPast

The family history world is finally beginning to awaken from its Easter slumber. First out of the blocks is FindMyPast with the release of the 1901 Scottish Census - read all about it here.

FindMyPast have also released new Manchester Naturalisation Society records - announcement here.

It's still not too late to tag along to one of three remaining events as publicised on The Scottish Genealogy Society's website. The society's next meeting is on 16th April, then there's the SAFHS Conference on 21st April ... and they're holding a family history taster session on 28th April. See their website for further details.

Northumbria University (Newcastle) is hosting a conference on the subject of English migration on Saturday 21st April entitled In Search of the Missing England. The event is free, but you must register by 14th April - see here.

There's a little Titanic news round-up, here. And FindMyPast Ireland also have a summary of Titanic-related stuff here.

Signed copies of Nick Barratt's book, Tracing the History of Your House, are available from here. Oh, and here's another book of his: Lost Voices from the Titanic.

If the subject of the Luddites interests you, then check out this piece on the HistoryToday website.

I see there's a new mobile travel app for Moray, Scotland.

Digital preservation is the subject of this post on TNA's blog.

And don't forget the start of a new series of Long Lost Family tonight (Thursday) at 9pm on ITV1!

From the US...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Random Genealogical Nonsense

In the almost total absence of any family history-type developments in the last 24 hours, I bring you a batch of historical oddities for your consideration. If you know of any more such items, do let me know...

Bilsdale, Yorkshire, PR:
(note inside back cover)

Memorandum that there is a wager of a 1d piece made between Sam'l Wetherall (curate) and William York (clerk) concerning a marriage. If George Garbutt marries first - the curate wins. If John Garbutt marries first - the clerk wins.

St.Weonard, Herefordshire, PR:

10 Feb 1828 - Baptism of Elizabeth, dtr of Susan Smith (illegitimate). The father supposed to be either her own brother or (more probably) the ranting preacher who was lodging with her family.

Wilton, Cleveland, PR:

Burial of Thomas Helmsley of Lackenby, died 29th December 1874, aged 11 months. Note: Killed by the fall of his father and another man with whom he was struggling when the child had been laid down by his mother in the snow. The two men being tipsy.

Spotted in a newspaper report, April 1988:

Someone requested a rare book at the Vatican Library only to receive, a couple of hours later, a note which read: 
"Missing since 1583".

Epitaph from St.Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol:

The Church Cat

(story and picture here)

On the subject of 'oddities', please note my (slightly amended) 'FREE PDF' offer in the right-hand column of this blog. Now all you have to do is email me at and ask - and, yes, I will forward to you a FREE 26-page 'taster' e-booklet of my two publications Dead End Hobby and the Family & Local History Quiz Book. There are absolutely NO catches.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

OK, Let's Have Your Attention!

The Easter weekend is over, so let's all wake up and try to get the genea world moving again. Still struggling to find any major news items, I'm afraid, but we'll do the best we can.

Let's begin with some 'forthcoming events'...

An important piece of news regarding the future of the UK's public libraries slipped under my radar last week - check out how the campaign to save Surrey's libraries took a turn for the better, here.

The techies among you may be interested in the new version of the MyHeritage Mobile App.

Blogger John D Reid provides a helpful summary of developments on the FamilySearch website for Norfolk researchers.

A quick mention for a neat blog called 'A Rebel Hand', which will be of great interest to those researching the subject of transportation to Australia. Some fascinating little insights into a tough old world - even for those of us with no Australian links.

An excellent blog for the seedier side of Britain's social history can be found at 'The Georgian Bawdyhouse'.

The Two Nerdy History Girls present their weekly round-up of interesting history links, here.

I quite like this Titanic Infographic as flagged by the Genea-Musings blog.

Recent tweets and retweets by me on Twitter can be found at - some interesting stuff there, so have a look.

Epitaph from old Grey Friars, Edinburgh:

Here snug in grave my wife doth lie;
Now she's at rest and so am I.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Easter Reading

It'll be quiet over the holiday weekend as regards genealogy news, I should think. I may not blog again until Tuesday, depending upon how things go. I don't have a special 'Something for the Weekend' feature for you today, but instead thought I'd present you with a few online articles, features and blog posts from elsewhere to keep you ticking over...

Latest Lost Cousins Newsletter

Celebrity 1940 US Census Collection ('famous folk' entries)'s AncestryDNA Product (lots of links contained therein, too)

Going Public: history beyond the academy

Nicola Elsom's weekly round-up

Planning Your Family History Blog to Book (neat idea...)

I'll still be tweeting bits and pieces over the next couple of days, so do keep calling in at

Happy Easter!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Titanic (again), plus other stuff

FindMyPast have launched two new sets of Titanic/maritime records: the 'White Star Line Officers' books' and 'Maritime Births, Marriages & Deaths' - see the announcement here.

FMP have also published the second piece in their 'Famous Family Trees' series of articles, with a look at the ancestry of actress, Anne Reid.

The Mocavo blog seems to get busier and busier. Most of the posts of late (as with many of the genealogy sites) have concerned the 1940 US Census - but here's an interesting one concerning Mocavo's 'Document & OCR Publishing Platform'. Cutting edge stuff.

TNA's latest podcast ('When Sport Meets the Law') can be found here.

Here's the April podcast from the HistoryToday website.

Another interesting podcast has been flagged by blogger Ruth Blair on the subject of the Irish girls sent to Australia after The Great Famine. Ruth also has a month's worth of advice for Irish researchers.

Continuing the Irish theme, here's some notable photographic news from the National Library of Ireland.

Chris Paton has posted a link to a newspaper story concerning plans for a new archive facility in West Yorkshire.

Carrying on from yesterday's attempt to persuade you all to sign up to Twitter, by following this link you should be able to see a history of my own Tweets (which is what you'll get if you 'follow' me). Yesterday was a busy day, as you can see - and I'll be updating my tweets shortly after I've posted this blog entry.

Finally, there's a good deal of historical reading to be found at the BBC's HistoryExtra website - including History Headlines for the week, an Out & About feature, another Podcast (Falklands War), and of course your TV/radio for the coming week - see here (TV link here).

What's this all about?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Newsletters Galore!

One of the more impressive of the genealogical e-newsletters is that produced by S&N Genealogy - and you can check out the latest issue by clicking here.

Another e-bulletin which is always worth a look (lots of new product releases, etc) is the Parish Chest Newsletter - see the latest issue here.

And to complete today's set, here's the March E-zine from the FFHS - another 'must see' bulletin.

Oh, just spotted another one: the Victoria County Histories newsletters page (No.4 just out).

There's been a little update to the National Library of Scotland's 'Events' page.

News of a major conference in Co.Galway on the subject of the 'Irish-American link' can be found here.

Nice story coming out of Northern Ireland re. getting old folk to reminisce (thanks to @ScotlandsPeople on Twitter).

An interesting new exhibition at London's Imperial War Museum entitled 'A Family in Wartime' begins today.

There's been a small update to Ancestry's holdings for Liverpool - see their updates page.

News story about the grave of Hitler's parents (thanks to @HISTORYmag on Twitter).

And Claire Santry looks at the new edition of John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors.

You will have noticed a couple of stories from Twitter above. I would remind you of my own Twitter account at @HistoryMick (link), which, if you 'follow', you will find carries regular updates throughout the day on stories of interest. I know that most of you probably don't have Twitter accounts, but would ask that you consider joining because...
  • It's really easy to do so (and free, of course);
  • You don't have to 'engage' (or 'tweet') with others - you can remain 'passive';
  • Not ALL of my news items appear on the BI-Gen blog - most of the minor pieces of news are flagged solely on Twitter;
  • It's actually quite a lot of fun!
Go on, give it a try - visit to set up an account.

Human hair-pieces ... including grey!
(click below, then click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Beginning in Ireland + Bits From Elsewhere

On a day when there doesn't seem to be an awful lot to shout about, we'll begin in Ireland with an article on the nation's Registry of Deeds as featured on the FindMyPast Ireland website. And Irish researchers will, I'm sure, find something of interest in the list of forthcoming events on the Irish Genealogy News blog.

If you're into 'Community Archives' (and many of you will, or perhaps would like to get involved) then check out the forthcoming get together of the 'Community Archives & Heritage Group' in Chippenham on Wednesday 2nd May. Have a general browse of their website, too, while you're at it.

'The Family History Show' website has added a new 'picture gallery' page.

The Two Nerdy History Girls provide their weekly list of history links, here.

There's an Easter subscription offer from HistoryToday magazine.

A promised mention to The Scottish Genealogy Society now, and a run-down of some of their recent publications:
  • 1790 Census of St.Cuthbert's Parish, Edinburgh on CD (£7.50);
  • A Peebles Miscellany - Transcripts of a selection of material from the Kirk Session Records (covering Eddleston, Innerleithen, Stobo, Traquair, West Linton - book, £4.50);
  • Edrom Parish - Certificates of Character given 1797-1815, received 1796-1854 (£3.50);
  • Berwickshire Miscellany (covering Ayton and Chirnside material - book, £4.50);
  • ... and much more.
All available from their online bookstore. If you've any queries you can contact the society at or tel: (0131) 2203677.

I am ashamed to say that I was unaware of the 'Find a Library' service as flagged by blogger John D Reid - very handy.

If you remember those old 'Public Information Films' of decades gone buy, then you'll want to check out this post on TNA's blog. You probably haven't seen some of them for many, many years!

Finally, if you fancy buying anything from the self-publishing site, then now's a good time to do so. By going to their website you will see that they have a 'Mystery Sale' running until the end of 6th April - and as far as I'm aware you don't even have to register with them to partake in the offer. Shameless self-promotion to follow ... my Lulu Storefront is here. As you know, I'm a big fan of the organisation.

Odd marriages from the FMP website...