Week 3 update

Actually nothing to report this week as there has been no progress at all. I need to make some time for this as I really want to cancel my Ancestry subscription and spend the money on something else. The list of people is still at 321. I have done 28% so far.

I have been enjoying listening to the recordings from the Stage 1 Family History course run by the Society of Genealogists.

I need to complete my little project as soon as I can!

Week 2 update

Week 1 update

The problem with Ancestry

First global collection for tracing British Home Children launched by Findmypast

A major new collection of Home Children records has launched today on family tree website, Findmypast, which will allow millions of descendants of British Home Children to trace their ancestors for free – many for the first time.

Created in collaboration with organisations across the UK and Canada, including The National Archives, The British Library, Library and Archives Canada, and Home Children Canada, the new collection features a vast and varied range of records which tell the stories of those who were part of the forced child migrant scheme in place from the 1860s up to the 1970s.

The collection, launched at Rootstech, will be a growing repository with records added on an ongoing basis. It currently includes workhouse records, Juvenile Inspection Reports, Home Children Board of Guardian Records and emigration reports, while future updates are likely to see historical newspapers, migration records, workhouse and institutional records, periodicals and military records added.

Over 130,000 children, now known as ‘British Home Children’, were sent across the Commonwealth, in particular to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Only 12% of these children were ‘true orphans’ – many came from charitable homes, workhouses, or destitute and struggling families. They were usually fostered into families when they reached their destinations to be used as unpaid domestic or farming labour.

However, abuse was widespread in a system which offered little protection to the children and few investigations into the care they received from their foster families. Many were relocated several times during their childhood, and often separated from their siblings.

Historically, descendants of Home Children have struggled to trace their roots, with most records held in private archives and inaccessible to the public. This collection will provide an open-access, centralised set of resources for descendants to trace their forced migrant ancestors back to the UK and their birth families and add them directly to their family tree on Findmypast.

Discover the collection for free on Findmypast: https://www.findmypast.co.uk/page/british-home-children

Week 2 update

So last week I wrote a little update about my progress with saving and organising my historical documents. It’s time for my Week 2 update!

We were away over half term which meant less time for family history. However I still managed to keep working my way through my list of ancestors. I finished the C ancestors: Carew, Caswell, Choules, Clutterbuck, Cole, Croker and Cuthbertson.

I got a little side tracked and my current total of people of this family tree is 321 people so it has gone up a little.

You may be interested in other updates:

Week 1


Week 1 update

It’s been a week since I wrote my post about my problems with Ancestry. Last night my husband asked how I was getting in with my task and he was surprised I was only on to the letter B (Aldridge, Amor, Bate, Bell, Benger, Brett, Brooke and Bull).

It is a tedious task downloading all my records one by one. For some reason I did pick another letter to break up the monotony, but it was a bit confusing, so I went back to working my way through the list alphabetically.

I am trying to only download existing records but it is very hard impossible to do this. My eye sees the suggested hints from Ancestry and before you know it, I have lost another half an hour exploring possible records. I have already found several people that need further investigation, and especially loved re-discovering the fact that one ancestor worked on the Royal yacht. This is a useful task because I am re-discovering facts I had forgotten and it is also reminding me that there is so much to learn and explore. It is easy to be hyper focussed on one or two ancestors but there is so much work to be done and it is fun and interesting hobby.

Unfortunately I have added a handful of people to my family tree but I will have to download an up to date list of people when I have finished my task. Then I can go back and add them and their documents. The task has also made me realise that I waste a lot of time researching the same things over and over again, not sure how I can solve this but I think some type of research log would be useful.

The problem with Ancestry …

About a year ago I took up the offer of a reduced subscription to Ancestry UK over the Christmas holidays. I have dabbled with Ancestry on and off and always been excited to discover new records. I never cancelled my subscription but a year later have thought that I probably should. Not that I don’t love researching my family history, but just need to save money.

I started to investigate saving all my hours of research on Ancestry. Like many others, I built my family tree and added records to each person. I thought I would give myself a target of downloading my records and cancelling my subscription at the end of the month. My family tree is quite modest, about 260 people but imagine my horror when I realised I was unable to download all the records I had found from the family tree or my shoebox (a safe place where I kept ‘possible’ records). It seems you can download a GEDCOM file but none of the associated records!

I already have a GEDCOM file hosted on my own website. It’s not updated very frequently but I became lazy when I started my Ancestry based family tree, and my own one now needs updating.

I wasn’t sure where to start trying to save my Ancestry records. I already had a folder of screenshots, saved emails and random documents saved on my own computer. I decided to re-organise my files and start from there.

First, I created family name folders, which contained individual folders for each member of the family. Then I was able to sort out all my existing saved documents and save them to the correct individual. This took a couple of evenings.

The second thing I did was to look at the documents I had saved to my Ancestry shoebox. This contained some great documents, as well as some not so useful documents. I deleted the documents which no longer needed saving and started downloading some of the more interesting documents. However, I soon realised that there were some duplicates with records already saved to my family tree. This took me one evening to realise, so I stopped working on my shoebox.

I decided I needed to be more systematic in my approach so went to the list of people saved to my tree and copied it to Excel.

This gave me a list of all the people in alphabetical order, alongside basic birth and death dates.

I added a few columns of my own, including document saved from Ancestry, and if I had checked the details against my own GEDCOM file. I soon realised this was not going to be a quick task finished in a month! Ancestry makes it difficult and time consuming to download any data. It is easy to see why, as they make money on your subscription. If you cancel your subscription you will still be able to see your family tree, but not the records you have saved to it.

Once I had my list of people, I was able to start downloading any record I had saved to that individual. I went to the person record, saw the number of records, opened each one and saved it to my computer. I changed the file name immediately to something simple, such as 1891 census or Civil Registration Birth, so the filenames had more meaning. Then saved the record to the individual family folder I had set up on my computer. I added a note to my spreadsheet of the records I had downloaded, as well as the date I had saved them.

It seems a mammoth task and it is quite dull but important for me to have copies of my research, not just so I can cancel my Ancestry subscription, but so I ‘own’ my research. I use Nextcloud to save my personal files and can access these on my iPhone so am able to check records wherever I am which is really useful. I started saving records last week and have done about 5% so far. But I know if I keep at the task for a few weeks, I will soon have much better records at my fingertips and am not beholden to paying anyone to access them. I’ve already re-discovered some interesting facts I had forgotten about so I think this will actually be a useful exercise.

Royal School for Naval and Marine Officers’ Daughters

I did a little more digging into The Royal Naval Female School  which was founded in 1840 on Richmond Green as a boarding school for the orphaned daughters of Navy officers. In 1857 it moved to St Margaret’s House, between the Thames and Kilmorey Road, which was then part of Isleworth. In 1941, St Margaret’s House was damaged by bombing and the school moved to Haslemere. In 1995 it merged with the Grove School and became the Royal School, catering for girls and boys.

I found Blanche Young was a scholar there from the 1871 census. The school was founded to educate the daughters of Naval officers to earn a living. Blanche Youngs’ father had died in 1861 when she was only 5 years old. She had an older brother and sister as well as a younger sister. I wonder how her mother felt at sending her away from home?

At the time of the 1871 census The Royal Naval Female School was based at St Margaret’s House, between the Thames and Kilmorey Road. I had a look on Google Streetview but today there are only modern buildings there now.

I checked to see if her perhaps brother had been sent to The Naval School for Boys as I have been unable to find him on the 1871 census, but sadly he wasn’t there.

Hounslow Local Studies Service holds a register of subscriptions and fees (1868-1875), as well as other information relating to the school. Something else added to my do list for a rainy day 🙂