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.

National Archives of Ireland, Findmypast and FamilySearch partnership to bring decades of lost Irish history online

I really struggle with researching my Irish family history so I was excited about this press release I received today:

The National Archives of Ireland and leading Irish family history website findmypast today announced the release of an extensive series of records that will prove an invaluable resource for anyone tracing Irish ancestry.  The records, which include over 600,000 names from pre-1901 Irish census records, are now available to access for free on findmypast and the National Archives website (genealogy.nationalarchives.ie). The launch of the Irish Census records forms part of findmypast’s 100in100 promise to launch 100 record sets in 100 days.

This is the first free-to-access launch resulting from an innovative partnership between findmypast, the National Archives of Ireland, and FamilySearch.org. Millions more essential family history records will be released in the coming months under the terms of the partnership, which represents a fruitful collaboration between a national cultural institution and private sector genealogy suppliers. The partnership allows people in Ireland and abroad to have free access to records relating to their Irish roots, which were not previously available online.

Irish family histories are notoriously difficult to trace, owing to the destruction of the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922. On the 30th June 1922 two huge explosions rocked the Record Office, causing a fire that destroyed millions of records – and with them hundreds of years of Irish history. These included a substantial number of Irish census records from the 19th century.
The surviving records open an online archive of Irish history to everyone interested in tracing an Irish heritage. The records cover three decades, 1821-1851, and include the surviving Irish census records from 1821-1851, and census search forms from 1841 & 1851.

Ireland census 1821-1851
Every ten years a census of the Irish population was taken between 1821 and 1911 and, luckily for Irish family historians, the manuscript returns for each household survived the 1922 fire for all 32 counties for 1901 and 1911. The new records add to the existing census and include information pre-dating 1901, with data sets covering some parts of the country now available from 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851. The 1821 census is a particular highlight for family historians, as it records all members of the families documented.

Ireland census search forms 1841 & 1851
These records are comprised of search forms used to corroborate the validity of pension claims made in 1908 and are extracted from the 1841 & 1851 census, which were subsequently destroyed in the fire. They represent a very useful link to pre-famine Ireland, and also list the applicant’s details and all of the information available from the census records – including other family members present on census night.

To learn more about the records and to access them free of charge visit The National Archives of Ireland or findmypast.  The records will be available shortly on FamilySearch.org.