Findmypast launches ‘Hall of Heroes’ to celebrate the heroes in everyone’s family

Leading family history website, Findmypast.co.uk has today announced the launch of its Hall of Heroes. The Hall aims to celebrate the heroes from our history, from unsung underdogs to First World War medal winners.

Findmypast is asking people to help create a ‘Hall of Heroes’ that truly reflects the heroic figures from our own history by inviting everyone to submit their own heroes from their family history to be chosen for inclusion in the Hall of Heroes. For every real-life story published Findmypast will donate £10 to charity.

To mark the launch of the Hall of Heroes, Findmypast.co.uk has also released four new record sets including Victoria Cross Recipients 1854-2006, the Royal Navy 1914 Star Medal Roll 1914-1920, the Marriage Registers of the British Royal Marines 1813-1920 and the Falklands War British Deaths 1982 to allow more people to discover the heroes in their family. The Victoria Cross (VC) collection includes the 1,349 people awarded the highest military decoration for valour in the face of the enemy during conflicts such as the Crimean War, the Boer War, Indian Mutiny, and both World Wars. The VC is a simple bronze cross. It has been awarded only 14 times since World War II.

Included in the ‘Hall of Heroes’ today is Rip the rescue dog, a World War Two rescue dog with an extraordinary talent for finding people buried amidst the debris after bombing raids. Rip died in 1946 after a courageous life as the service’s first search and rescue dog. He was awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery in 1945. Rip was originally found in Poplar, London, in 1940 by an Air Raid warden. He is credited with saving the lives of over 100 people.

First World War medal winners

A ‘Hall of Heroes’ wouldn’t be complete without commemorating some of the well decorated soldiers from the First World War, and included in the launch are the records of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse. Chavasse is one of only three people ever to have won the Victoria Cross twice, and the only person to be awarded both the Victoria Cross and bar during World War One. He won his first VC for his actions at the battle of Guillemont, part of the Battle of the Somme, after coming within 25 metres of the German line. At this point he rescued three wounded men and continued to search no-man’s land for injured soldiers before the enemy line for four hours. In total Chavasse saved the lives of twenty badly wounded men.

His second VC was awarded for ‘most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in action’ in 1917. Though desperately wounded while carrying another man, Chavasse insisted on remaining in action for a further two days. Faint from his injury and without food he continued to search for and retrieve the wounded even under heavy fire, and was crucial in saving the lives of many more who would otherwise have succumbed in the field.

Visit heroes.findmypast.co.uk for more information on these heroes and to submit your own story.

 

Who Do You Think You Are? Story

Family history has been one of my hobbies since I was at school and it’s grown substantially over the years, so much so that I started this family history blog as a place to record my research alongside my family history database.

I love how much easier it has become to research your family history. I used to spend my lunch hours at the old Family Records Centre or my weekends at the National Archives in Richmond. With large-scale digitisation projects you can now research from the comfort of your own home and I’ve been enjoying using lots of new record sets, websites and ways of sharing and exploring my own family history.

In celebration of the 10th birthday of celebrity genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, Findmypast and Wall to Wall have recently launched Who Do You Think You Are? Story, a website that allows fans of the show to create a personalised, visual journey through their family history. The site is still in its beta phase, so extra historical facts and context will be added over the next week or so, but there’s already loads of interesting historical detail to colour in your history.

Oop over to whodoyouthinkyouarestory.com to get started. It’s simple to sign up and completely free. You can check out Matthew Pinsent and Larry Lamb if you want to see how the site works, or just get started by adding your own details.

There are 3 stages to the site:

Step 1 – Tell us about your relatives

Enter key information and upload family photos. You don’t need every detail, but each fact makes the story richer.

Step 2 – We’ll add in events that affected their lives

For example, we’ll show you what was happening in society at the time your grandfather was born.

Step 3 – Expand your story

Add in your own events such as marriages, memories or even scandals. You can keep your story hidden or share it with family and friends.

A couple of things that are good about the site:

you only need to add a minimum amount of data – full name, birth date and birth location

but you can upload an image and add more facts if you want

the animated retelling of the family story is great and I love the way it’s interspersed with significant contemporary issues

there’s a timeline at the bottom of the page which includes the key historical events, so it’s really easy to see your story unfold

I like the form you can use to email a relative if you are missing a piece of information

Room for improvement:

The only thing I would like to see improved is being able to upload your data from a GEDCOM file. I’ve worked hard on my family tree, it contains nearly 700 people, and have stored the information in this format for years. Other family tree websites use it and I find it a really useful way of sharing my information with other people.

As WDYTYA has been around for 10 years it must be watched by both existing and new family historians. I’m hoping this feature might be added as in this electronic age I think it makes sense to make it easy for people to upload their information.

Don’t forget you can take a look at the Who Do You Think You Are? Story and start your own tree for free.

Thomas Hacker

I found an intriguing photograph of Thomas Hacker and description on Flickr from Swindon Local Studies Library.

c1900: Thomas Hacker, 10 Merton Street, Swindon (1835-1904)

According to the description:
Thomas Hacker was born 1835 at Broad Hinton. He was one of nine children of Benjamin & Elizabeth Hacker. The 1881 census records him as being a Master Bread Maker living at 10 Merton Street. Thomas was one of the early christians of the Assembly group at King Street Hall, Swindon who faced oppostion. He considered it an honour to be persecuted for his witness for the Lord. He framed his police court summons and it was an exhibit in his home to the end of his days. In 1889, as one of the twelve brethren with their families they began meeting together at Merton Hall, Merton Street. At some point in the 1890′s Thomas greived by unhappy past events decided to leave Swindon. He sold his business as baker and corn-merchant, also his business premises including the Hall where the believers met, and took up farming. After a period of time he returned to Swindon much broken in health. He had a marvellous escape from death when a horse he was driving in a trap, bolted. He lost grip of the reins, and in trying to recover these, he overbalanced and fell at the horse’s heels; the wheels of the trap passed over his head and scalped him.. Through the Lord’s mercy, he made good recovery, althought not regaining robust health. He was able to see the moving of the group from Merton Street Hall to Regent Hall in 1899 take place as result of increasing numbers in the Fellowship. He died on 30th October 1904 and was buried in Radnor Street Cemetery. A scroll covering a lowly cairn of stones read: “Thomas Hacker, Born 1834, Born again 1854, Fell Asleep 1904. Waiting ‘Till he come’.”

His name and connection to Broad Hinton mean he must be part of our family tree but I can’t quite find where he belongs at the moment.

The Welsh cap badge

This Welsh cap badge was amongst my paternal Grandmothers possessions and given to me when she died.

The Welsh.JPG

It must have belonged to Alfred Mansel Young, her brother-in-law, as the name YOUNG has been scratched on the reverse.

Over half a million Wiltshire baptism records dating back to 1530 now available online

Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk has today, 23 July 2014, added over 55,000 more Wiltshire parish baptism records to the website.

Spanning the years 1530 to 1886, the 580,361 baptism records now available on Findmypast comprise transcripts of the registers from over 150 Wiltshire parishes compiled by Wiltshire Family History Society.

The Wiltshire baptisms are unusual, as some of the earliest records in the collection are 484 years old. The records begin in 1530, eight years before the Vicar General of England, Thomas Cromwell, ordered all of the nation’s parish churches to keep a record of all baptisms, marriages and burials.

The county of Wiltshire has produced a number of notable individuals, including the architect Sir Christopher Wren, whose baptism record can be found within the collection.

The Wiltshire parish baptisms add to Findmypast’s already extensive collection of Wiltshire records that includes over 290,000 Wiltshire Memorial Inscription Index records, 67,000 Wiltshire Quarter Session Calendars and 20,593 Wiltshire removal orders.

Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “We are particularly excited about the Wiltshire parish baptisms, as parish records kept before 1538 are relatively rare.  Family historians, wherever they are in the world, can now search this historical goldmine and possibly trace their Wiltshire ancestors further back than ever before.“

The new records can be searched at: http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-records/wiltshire-baptisms-1530-1886

4.2 million British World War 1 service records released online in most comprehensive collection ever

Today findmypast released as part of their 100in100 campaign to release 100 record sets in 100 days the largest and most comprehensive collection of British World War 1 service records online, giving family historians a greater chance than ever before of finding their World War 1 ancestors. The newly re-indexed records contain details of millions of the men who fought for their country in one of the largest conflicts in history. As well as a more thorough transcription process which involved an individual examination of over 35 million pages of documentation, findmypast has also identified and indexed lists of names that were tucked away in individual service papers.

The record sets (WO363 and WO64, also colloquially known as the “burnt records”) are all that remain of records caught up in a fire caused by a German incendiary bomb during World War. As only around 40% of the original records survive, the addition of these 600,000 new names taken from extra lists and pages previously not indexed are a real boon to family historians with British military ancestors, as well as to military historians in general.

The records can be searched at http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-Records/british-army-service-records-1914-1920 and are available on all international findmypast sites as part of a world subscription.