Wednesday, 29 July 2015

PERSI updated on FindmyPast

The PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) has been updated on FindmyPast ( to the tune of an additional 85,000 articles from 30000 journals.

For further details please visit


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

US Social Security Applications and Claims Index 1936-2007

Ancestry ( has launched a major new American based database with some 49 million names, being the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. From the site, a description of the collection:

This database picks up where the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) leaves off by providing more details than those included in the SSDI. It includes information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process, including valuable details such as birth date, birth place, and parents’ names. While you will not find everybody who is listed in the SSDI in this database, data has been extracted for more than 49 million people.
Information you may find includes:

applicant's full name
date and place of birth
father's name
mother's maiden name
race/ethnic description (optional)

You may also find details on changes made to the applicant's record, including name changes and life or death claims. You may also find some unusual abbreviations or truncated entries for county and other names and punctuation errors in the data. These are in the original; we have not altered the text.

To access the collection on a Worldwide sub, visit


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

Unlock the Past Baltic genealogy cruise - Days 7-8: Russia

In my second post on the recent Unlock the Past Cruises ( tour of the Baltic states, I described my visit to both Berlin in Germany and Tallinn in Estonia. So far so good, but a real treat was next on the agenda - Russia.

Specifically, we made our way to the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg. I say the 'Venice of the North', because that is all we heard about the place for two days, the length of our stay there, though with some justification - virtually every other building in the city was a palace, with the whole infrastructure developed in just nine years during the reign of Peter the Great. The city was founded in 1703, and for many years was the capital of Russia, before Lenin relocated the capital back to Moscow in 1918. With the widespread layout of St. Petersburg as it is, and the Russian requirement that you could only visit the city without a visa as part of a tour group, I accepted an invitation by Jane and Steven Taubmann, along with Tony Beardshaw, to travel on a two day trip around the city in an organised tour with SPB Tours ( Our Russian tour guide spoke excellent English, and importantly had a good sense of humour, something of major importance for a two day trip!

The first stop on Day 7 then was a visit to the spit of of Vasilevsky Island and its 'Rostral Columns', which used to act as port beacons. We stopped off for some photos, looking out towards Peters and Paul's fortress and cathedral, before then venturing on a two hour drive around the city centre with our guide pointing out some of the key features in the city. We then made our way to the fortress and the Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, where some serious history was soon to be encountered. Within the building we first encountered the tombs of Peter the Great and his daughter Catherine the Great (see below), and various other members of the Greats, sorry, the Romanovs.

There was then for me a truly unexpected discovery of the fact that Nicolas II and his family were also buried there in an adjacent room, though with only a single tomb to mark the entire family. The last Russian Tsar and his family were murdered in Yekaterinburg in 1918 in the aftermath of the October 1917 Russian Revolution. In 1979 the remains of Nicolas, his wife and three of his daughters were discovered near the town, and after formal confirmation of their identity from DNA analysis, the family was laid to rest in the cathedral in 1998.

According to our guide their burial ceremony was attended by Boris Yeltsin, but the tomb itself was paid for by local subscription. Considering I am not at all a monarchist, I actually found the whole thing quite moving, the cathedral itself being a beautiful building which seemed somewhat fit for purpose as a royal tomb. As we left the cathedral, I saw a building with a boat viewable through the door, which Lena explained was a replica of the first boat built by Peter the Great (who founded the Russian Navy after learning boat building skills himself in western Europe). The real boat was located elsewhere, and as such, she did not want us wasting our time with it - but I snapped a pic anyway!

Next up we enjoyed a trip on a hydfrofoil across the water to the Peterhof Palace, known as the Russian Versailles, not least because the same architects were apparently responsible for both palaces. As with all of St. Petersburg's palaces, this was ridiculously luxurious, though we only walked through the gardens rather than inside the building itself. Stunningly beautiful, and as with much of St Petersburg a technological marvel being built on swamps, but I couldn't help wondering how many lives may have been lost during its construction.

At the end of this our guide mentioned that the Nazis had destroyed the palace at the end of their occupation of the surrounds of St Petersburg in the Second World War, but that most of the furniture within, and the original drawings for the structure had already been relocated to safety, allowing a faithful restoration after the war.

We then stopped off for lunch, fortuitously as a shower broke out, and I took the opportunity to ask our guide about life in Russia, explaining that all we had to go on in terms of our perceptions up to this point was our own media - how did she see life there?

This was when it got really interesting! We had a fascinating conversation about the Soviet era, with her explaining how whilst there was no choice for types of food, there was at least food and a guaranteed pension, and how rent in the Soviet era for a basic room was one dollar a month, but now after Perestroika and westernisation it is anything up to two thousand dollars a month. Whilst she missed much about the Soviet era, she did say her favourite thing about today was her freedom to travel around the world. We also talked about the Revolution, and her disdain for Lenin, who she believed was a much worse dictator than Stalin, and we also touched on the Siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg's former name) in the Second World War. Some two million people died during the nine month siege apparently, with a further million surviving against the German war machine.

In fact this conversation revealed the most extraordinary thing from our two day trip in St Petersburg about 20th century Russian history, namely our guide's professional aversion to discussing it, save for mentioning when any palace we visited had been destroyed by the Germans, only to be rebuilt. It was clearly not part of the official programme, and yet her own personal willingness to discuss it when asked was much more interesting than the constant roll out of palaces and churches after palaces and churches. And as such, she was suitably toasted with a shot of vodka at the dinner table - "Na Zdorovie (На здоровье)!"

After lunch we then made for Catherine the Great's palace at Pushkin. Another extraordinary building with gilded interiors and Chinese porcelain walls, and to keep with the unofficial theme of the day, another palace destroyed by the Nazis and later rebuilt. We did the tour of the building and then made our way back to the minibus before the heavens opened, and then made our way back to the Celebrity Eclipse for our overnight stay. I was so tired with the day's programme that I missed Helen Smith's talk on Researching Australian and New Zealand Great war soldiers.

Day 8 then saw us proceed with part 2 of the tour, and our opening event today was an early morning boat trip, sailing past the Peter and Paul fortress and into the heart of the original city, which had originally been designed to replicate Venice with her waterways, although many have since been filled in and have had a road put over. We went past the Winter Palace, the statue of Peter the Great as a ship's carpenter, the Admiralty building and more. One of the interesting sites we saw was a former palace used for the performance of and registration of civil marriages, apparently encouraged after the October Revolution to try to lure people away from the attendance of churches in the town with a suitable alternative.

We then stopped off to buy some souvenirs, directly across the road from a former log cabin in which Peter the Great had resided within when he first arrived at the city that would soon bear his name. Unfortunately, there was a slight issue in seeing this cabin, in the form of a ruddy great brick building built around it to preserve it, allowing no views in (see below)!

Our souvenirs purchased, the next stage was designed to test mankind's limits - the Hermitage Museum, roughly the length of a small Baltic state, in which we spent two hours walking from lavish room to lavish room. We fought our way through crowds of tourists for two hours, being careful not to be pick-pocketed (a serious criminal problem plaguing the city), and occasionally stopping and rallying to the cry of "We don't leave our men behind" to retrieve members of our 16 strong bus party who wavered from time to time in the relentless battle to do a tour stop! It was hard work walking from opulent room to lavish room to gilded room to luxurious room, with occasional moments of delight and highlights such as the Rembrandt Gallery and the odd Da Vinci painting. We hardy souls persevered, however, until we were finally rewarded at the end with an opportunity to step outside onto St Peter's Square, providing a huge open air vista of the palace from outside.


After a spot of lunch we visited the extraordinary Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, a huge edifice of the Russian Orthodox Church, built on the site where the Tsar Alexander II was wounded and died in March 1881. The church was closed by the Soviets in 1930 and was later used as a morgue during the Siege of Leningrad (not explained to us when we were there), and later became a vegetable warehouse, before becoming a museum and then undergoing a full restoration. It no longer acts as a church, and remains a museum of mosaics, the pictures and biblical scenes on the walls all being made in this way.

Upon leaving the church, we were now due some more proper Russian history - the Moika Palace, built in 1770 as the palace of the influential Yusopov family, which housed a fascinating private theatre and luxurious rooms, and which for many years has been owned by the Department of Education in the city. The building has only recently been opened up as a museum.

Apart from being a seat of the Russian nobility, the Moika Palace has one other major claim to fame, it being the building in which the mad monk Rasputin was murdered by Prince Felix Yusupov in December 1916. The Prince tried to poison Rasputin in the cellars with tainted red wine, seeing him as a dark influence on the Romanov family, and when this did not work, he was forced to shoot him. Thinking he was dead, he did not see Rasputin crawl through a side door to an outside courtyard, at which point he was again shot twice more, including once in the head. We were unfortunately not allowed to use cameras inside the palace, but by luck our minibus was parked right beside the spot where Rasputin was finally executed, so I quickly retrieved my camera from the bus and took a spot of where he finally fell.

Proving you can never visit too many churches in one day, we then made for St. Isaac's Cathedral, the city's largest Russian Orthodox church, and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Another extraordinary building, but at this point I was getting a bit churched out, though still took a few snaps!

Our final treat was a journey on the St Petersburg Metro, where I caught up with an old friend - St. Andrew, who not only acts as our patron saint here in Scotland, but who is also a patron saint of sailors, and therefore, the Russian Navy. In fact, Andy wasn't the only familiar face that kept popping up on our cruise, as across the Baltic states we also encountered many statues of St George slaying a dragon. The underground station was deep beneath the ground, having to be bored deep beneath the swamps on which the city was originally founded. We caught a train and went one stop along, purely to see the lavish underground mosaics on what was otherwise a similar underground tube network to that in London.

With this we purchased some more souvenirs, and were then finished touring for our second day. Upon a return to the boat, I had one more task to do, and that was to give an 8pm lecture on British and Irish newspapers, the only talk of the day, before crashing in my bed, ready to make our way to Helsinki.

Coming up - Helsinki, Stockholm, and another full day's conference at sea...


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

Monday, 27 July 2015

Irish Army 1922 census and Australian convict records added to FindmyPast

From FindmyPast (

Irish Army Census 1922
Containing over 32,000 records, the Irish Army Census 1922 is comprised of ten volumes held by the Military Archives of Ireland. The census lists the names of all those serving with the army at midnight on 12/13 November 1922 and was imposed to help with administrative challenges faced by the new Army Pay Office. The National Army was established in 1922 following the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty and the end of the Irish War of Independence. The first recruits were pro-Treaty supporters within the Irish Republican Army though records show that a number of later recruits were as young as 14 years old. The census will be an invaluable resource as it was taken shortly after the Four Courts fire had destroyed thousands of records. The census is also of historical significance as it was taken during the Irish Civil War (1922-1924). Each record includes a transcript of the details found in the original records and a link to the image on the Military Archives website. Each transcript includes a soldiers name, age, birth year, place and county. Images will reveal further details such as their division, rank, attestation details, home address and next of kin.

Australian Criminal Records
Containing over 2,000 records, the Victoria, Convict register 1842-1854 is made up of several lists relating to the administration of convicts in the Port Phillip District. The region was administered by the colony of New South Wales until, on 1 July 1851, it separated to become the Colony of Victoria. Although no convicts were transported directly to Port Phillip, many ended up in the region as servants or workers assigned to government projects. Others entered from New South Wales or Tasmania as ticket-of-leave holders seeking work. Each record includes an image of the original document and a transcript. The amount of information listed may vary but most will include the convicts name, year of transportation, the ship they arrived on, details of their sentence and details of either their assignment or ticket of leave.

The New South Wales, Convict Death Register 1828-1879 contains the details of nearly 7,000 convict deaths as reported to the Principal Superintendent of Convicts (until 1855), and subsequently the Inspector General of Police. Each record contains a transcript and black and white image of the original document. Records list the deceased Convicts name, age, date of burial, place of burial, the ship they arrived on and any additional remarks.

The Queensland Convict register index 1824-1839 contains the details of over 2,600 convicts held at the Moreton Bay convict settlement. Moreton Bay was established in 1823 as a place of secondary punishment for convicted prisoners who committed further crimes in the Port Jackson region. Around 2,400 men and 145 women lived in the Bay’s convict depots under the control of military commandants who were required to maintain registers for regular submission to the Colonial Secretary in Sydney. Each record is a transcript of the original source documents. Transcripts can include details of the prisoner’s offence and sentence, their prisoner number and physical description as well as biographical details such as their place of birth, year of birth and religion.

Containing over 10,000 records, the Queensland, St Helena Convict Index 1863-1936 lists the details of convicts held at the penal colony on the Island of St Helena. St Helena is located 2.5 miles east of the mouth of the Brisbane River in Moreton Bay and was named after an after an aboriginal named Napoleon was exiled there in 1826. It later became home to a quarantine station that became one of the most profitable prisons in the State’s history, housing prisoners under sentence of hard labour. Conditions were so harsh that it became known as “the hell hole of the Pacific” or “Queensland’s Inferno”. Each record is a transcript taken from original source documents. Transcripts can include the prisoner’s name, their prisoner number, the year their name was taken as well as page, ID and reference numbers for the original documents held by the Queensland State Archives.

Australia Convict Tickets of Leave 1824-1874 contains over 60,000 records. A ticket of Leave was a form of bail or licence that allowed prisoners to build a new life in Australia before the official end of their sentence. The system was introduced informally in 1801 to reward convicts who had performed a service or been of particularly good conduct and allowed them to work for themselves, marry, or to have their families join them. Tickets had to be renewed yearly and carried at all times. Ticket holders were also expected to regularly attend religious services, prohibited from leaving the colony and barred from carrying firearms. The records in this collection consist of three different types of document held by the Government of New South Wales: Registers of tickets of leave 1824-1833, Ticket of leave butts 1827-1875, and New South Wales, butts of convicts’ certificates of freedom 1827-1867. Each record contains a transcript and black and white image of the original document that can include the prisoners name, where they were born (convicts came from all over the British Empire), their offence, occupation, a physical description and where they were allowed to settle.

New South Wales, butts of convicts’ certificates of freedom 1827-1867 contain nearly 32,000 records. Certificates of Freedom were awarded to convicts after they completed a fixed term of sentence, allowing them to go free and choose whether to settle in Australia or return home to their country of their origin. Certificates were only available to prisoners serving a fixed term sentence, usually 4, 7 or 14 years, and not to those serving life sentences. Each record contains a transcript and a black and white image of the original document. Earlier certificates show the bare details of name, sentence and ship while later certificates give much greater detail including occupation or calling, native place and distinguishing physical marks. They may also note whether or not the convict previously held a ticket of leave, which would allow him limited freedom before the end of his sentence.

British Army, List of Half-pay Officers 1714
The British Army, List of Half-pay Officers 1714 contains the details of over 3,000 Officers from over 116 different regiments within the British Army. Half-pay referred to the pay or allowance an officer received when in retirement or not in actual service. Many of those listed would have served in the War of Spanish Succession (1701 to 1714). The Treaty of Utrecht, signed at the end of the War, reduced the size of the British Army by almost 50 regiments. This left a high number of officers displaced. Retirement for an officer was not available until 1871 so many went on half-pay, allowing them to retain their commissions and remain available for any future service. The index was created by Wienand Drenth. Each record includes a transcript of the original source material that lists the Officers name, rank, regiment and establishment (English or Irish).

(With thanks to Alex Cox)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

Camden's Libraries and Archives consultation

A new online consultation concerning the future of Camden Libraries and Archives is available at

It's a twelve week consultation on the facilities being offered, with a background to the consultation available at

From the background doc:

By 2017 our funding from central government will have been cut in half. We have some tough decisions to make about the way we deliver council services. It is important that we look at the Library and Registration Service as part of those savings and consider how we run our libraries in the future.

We are consulting on how we might save £800,000 from the service’s current budget of £4.5m. Although we have less money we will aim to invest £3.7 million to create a modern library service that supports both existing and future customers and best meets the needs of Camden residents.

A lot of decisions have to be made, so if in the area, please do take a few moments to make your views known.

(With thanks to Emma Jolly via Facebook)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

PRONI summer and autumn talks schedule in Belfast

The summer an autumn schedule of events at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (

LUNCHTIME TALK: Eastside Arts Festival; Belfast Blitz by Brian Barton
When: 20th August – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME TALK: Eastside Arts Festival; East Belfast First World War soldiers by Jason Bourke
When: 25th August – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Pure Water for a thirsty Belfast: the need for a reservoir in Silent Valley by Philip Donald
When: Wednesday 26th August – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME TALK: Eastside Arts Festival; East Belfast Industry by Ian Montgomery
When: 27th August – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. Describing the Ards in 1683: the William Montgomery manuscript revisited. By Ian Montgomery
When: Wednesday 2th September – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. Building the Silent Valley Dam, 1923 to 1933: Setting the Record Straight. By Phillip Donald
When: Wednesday 9th September – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: SS Nomadic – A Titanic Restoration, by Graeme Moore
When: 12th September – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. A favourite watering place’: the development of Bangor as a Victorian Seaside Resor. By Sadra Milsopp
When: Wednesday 16th September – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

EVENING LECTURE: 'The rise and fall of the Irish Manor Courts 1785-1859' by John Larkin QC
When: 17th September – starting at 7pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. Another time: photographs of the Stewart family, marquesses of Londonderry. By Lorraine Bourke.
When: Wednesday 23rd September – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. The rising of 1798 in County Down. By Allan Blackstock
When: Wednesday 30th September – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Pushing the Boundaries; 19th century Prison Records by Chris Colvin
When: 1st October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. Nendrum Mill, Strangford Lough (619 AD): the oldest excavated tidal mill in the world. By Tom McErlean.
When: Wednesday 7th October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Pushing the Boundaries; The Women’s Suffrage Campaign by Margaret Ward
When: 8th October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. The Family Plot: Historic Graveyards of County Down. By William Rouslton
When: Wednesday 14th October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Pushing the Boundaries; Female Political Imprisonment during the Irish Civil War by Laura McAtackney
When: 15th October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

CONFERENCE: The Golden Age of Steam
When: 20th October 2015
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Up Down: Stories that make a County. ‘The tune we played was the Protestant Boys’: songs and the battle of Dolly’s Brae, 1849. By John Moulden.
When: Wednesday 21 October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Pushing the Boundaries; DeLorean: Back to the Failure by Graham Brownlow
When: 22nd October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Pushing the Boundaries; NIGRA & Decriminalisation by Jeff Dudgen & Richard Kennedy
When: 29th October – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME IRISH CLASS in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Caoimhe Ní Chathail
When: 3rd November 2015
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Irish Culture and Language in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Dr Fionntán de Brún
When: 4th November 2015 – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

CONFERENCE in conjunction with Western Front Association: The Greater Game: Sport, Ireland and the Great War
When: 5th November 2015
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME IRISH CLASS in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Caoimhe Ní Chathail
When: 10th November 2015
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Irish Culture and Language in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Gearóid Mac Lochlainn
When: 11th November 2015 – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME IRISH CLASS in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Caoimhe Ní Chathail
When: 17th November 2015
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Irish Culture and Language in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Professor Micheál O Mainnín
When: 18th November 2015 – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME IRISH CLASS in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Caoimhe Ní Chathail
When: 24th November 2015
Where: PRONI

LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES: Irish Culture and Language in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge: Dr Marcas Mac Coinnigh
When: 25th November 2015 – starting at 1pm
Where: PRONI

Western Front Association talks at PRONI
Although not organised by PRONI, the following talks are hosted at PRONI on behalf of the Antrim & Down branch of the Western Front Association at 7pm and any interested visitors are welcome.

13th August 2015: Recording Ireland’s First World War Landscapes: by Heather Montgomery, Queen's University Belfast

10 September 2015: Spirit building training or morale sapping slaughter?: Raiding on the Western Front by Tom Thorpe, King’s College London

8 October 2015: Royal Naval Armoured Cars in Russia by Ian Montgomery, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

12 November 2015: Researching East Belfast and the Great War by Jason Burke, Project Co-ordinator: East Belfast & The Great War

10 December 2015: The Ulster Division (tbc) by Dr Timothy Bowman, University of Kent

(With thanks to the PRONI Express)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

Durham Records Online update

The latest releases from Durham Records Online (

Durham St. Oswald burials 1537-1749

7,955 burials at St. Oswald's in the city of Durham, from the start of the first burial register in Dec 1537 to the end of 1749, joining up with 1750-1868 which we already had online.

Residences mentioned include Aldin Grange/Aldernage, Alton/Auton Stile, Arbor House, the Bailey, Baxter Wood, Bent House, Borne Hall (Burnhall), Branspeth/Brancepeth, Brome/Broom, Brome Hall or Broomhall, Butterbie/Butterby, Croxdale, Elvet, Farewell Hall, Fenckley/Finkhall/or Finchale, Flass, Hodgmore, Houghall, Langley, New Elvet, North Bailey, Old Durham, Old Elvet, Ordshowse, Relly, Sherburn House, Shinckcliff/Shincliffe, Sonderland/Sunderland, Sunderland Bridge, Southern Closes, St. Margaret's chapelry, the parish of St. Nicholas, Stotgate, Toddey/Tudda/Tudhoe, White House, and Whitwell House.

Whitworth baptisms & burials 1569-1764

1,250 baptisms from the start of the first register in 1569 to the end of 1764
545 burials from the start of the first register in 1570 to the end of 1764
Abodes mentioned include Biarsgreen or Byers Green, Bishops Close, Coundon, Croxdale, High Old Park, Low House, Newfield, Old Park, Ox Close, Pedgbank (Page Bank), Spennymoor House, Tudhoe, and Whitworth.

Whitley Chapel (Hexham) baptisms & burials 1875-1899

222 baptisms and 357 burials covering 1875-1899 at Whitley Chapel near Hexham in Hexham district, Northumberland. Whitley Chapel was originally a chapelry in the ancient parish of Hexham, but it became a separate parish in 1763, with its church dedicated to St. Helen.

Abodes mentioned include Brunt Rigg or Burnt Ridge, Channel Well, Dalton, Dotland, Dukesfield Hall, Earthly Mires, Fine Chambers, Gairshield, High Ardley, High Eshells, High Juniper, Holly Bush Close, Houtley, Juniper, Lane House, Lee Moor House, Lillswood, Litterage or Litharge, Mire House, Mollersteads, Nunsbrough, Oak Field House, Ordley, Peth Foot, Raw Green, Salmon Field, Smelting Syke, Tenter House, The Lee, The Steel, and Walley Thorn.

Tynemouth burials 1841-1850

5,954 burials at Christ Church, Tynemouth, Northumberland, covering 1841-1850.

We are grateful to the vicar who, going far beyond the call of duty, recorded the names of both parents of deceased children, fathers' occupations, husbands of deceased women (and often their occupations), and sometimes the cause of death or a reference to another burial of a family member. He also had the unusual habit of sometimes recording where the deceased was born or where they had previously lived.

Whittonstall baptisms & burials 1852-1880

Expanding our collection at Whittonstall St. Philip & St. James, we have added 231 baptisms and 216 burials from this church, covering 1852 through 1880. We now have baptisms and burials at this church from the start of the first register in 1774 to the end of 1880.

Whittonstall parish is in the Hexham district of Northumberland, just across the River Tyne from the County Durham parish of Ebchester, so many families can be found moving back and forth. Residences mentioned include Apperley Bank, Blackhill in Benfieldside (Durham), Bywell St. Peter, Ebchester Bridge End, Fairle or Fairle-may, Fell Close, Grey Mare Hill, Hedley, Highfield, Hindley, Hood's Close, Morrow-field, Newlands, Park House, Seldom Seen, Walkershank, West End, Whittonstall, and Wood House.

Coming Soon:
  • Tynemouth baptisms 1833-1849
  • early Hamsterley records
  • Durham St. Oswald marriages 1538-1700
  • Ovingham burials 1798-1840
  • South Shields St. Hilda baptisms 1869-1879

Come find those elusive ancestors!

(With thanks to Durham Records Online)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

UK Press Online - new JISC contract

From the newspaper archive site UK Press Online (, news of a new 3 year JISC license for institutional access:

New JISC Contract: 2015 - 2018

UKPressOnline is pleased to announce that we have signed a new contract with JISC for the period 2015-2018.

For details on annual subscriptions and the options available for purchasing a perpetual licence please refer to the JISC website:

For a detailed quote outlining all options please email or contact JISC directly.

As with all JISC contracts we are able to offer a month's no-obligation trial to all resources. This can be arranged directly through JISC or by contacting UKPressOnline.


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

Unlock the Past Baltic genealogy cruise - Days 4 to 6

In the first part of my report on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to the Baltic (, I discussed our departure from Southampton, our first port stop at Zeebrugge and my trip into Bruges, and then several of the lectures that I attended in our first full day at sea. On Day 4 we reached our second port stop - Warnemünde, Germany.

The Celebrity Eclipse docked there at 9.30am, and we were due to leave Germany again at midnight. Several of the cruise passengers opted to travel on a tour of local sites, some decided to make a day of it at Warnemünde itself, but this was too good an opportunity to miss to do something a bit more ambitious personally. For years I have been researching a First World War British civilian prisoner of war camp near Berlin called Ruhleben, a place where my great uncle John Paton was interned, but I had yet to even make it to Germany. There are several archival resources in Berlin that I wish to consult, and I also need to visit the site itself at some point, even though the original race track at Ruhleben, used as the POW camp, no longer exists. Realistically however, I was never going to achieve all of this on our short stopover in Germany, as the train journey was three hours in each direction just to get to Berlin. I therefore decided to spend today as a tourist in the German capital, and to use the day as a 'getting to know the city' type recce, in preparation for a return trip in due course.

Joined again by Tony Beardshaw from My History, we decided to have a quick look around Warnemünde itself first, before heading into Berlin. Warnemünde is a beautiful wee seaside town, which seems to be the place where Berliners and others travel to when they want a nice day at the seaside. The first thing that struck me was just how clean and tidy the place was - in fact, this was something that struck me about all of the stops we visited on the cruise. The locals were extremely friendly, and I managed to pop my head into a quaint little museum called the Museum of Local History, or Heimatmuseum ( This was built in an old house dating back to 1767, originally in the hands of the Wendt family, and then from 1830 the Jungmann family. It looked to be a great wee museum, but sadly I only had time to poke my head around the door for a quick look, though managed to grab a leaflet on its history before leaving.

I then spent three hours on the train into Berlin, and was surprised at how much the surrounding countryside looked like that back in Britain, it could easily have been the English countryside that we were journeying through (not least because of the rain!). We eventually got into the city just after 1pm - crikey, I had finally made it to Berlin! The first thing that hit me about the city was just how wide the streets were, and how open the place was. It was not until we left the station and made our way to the Reichstag that I suddenly twigged why it really looked so different to many other European capitals that I had previously been to. Apart from the Reichstag itself, there were virtually no old buildings - just about everything I saw was constructed after the Second World War. When you consider the devastation that the city suffered in the last insane days of that conflict, you can understand why - see my previous post at for a sobering video showing the devastation in July 1945.

With some long forgotten German retrieved from somewhere inside my head (I studied it for three years at school, but have never used it since!), I was able to get directions from a passer by to the Reichstag, and after snapping a few pics there we made it to the Brandenburg Gate. After this we had a spot of lunch (i.e. a German beer!) and then headed towards Checkpoint Charlie, before which we stumbled onto one of the real gems of our hit and run visit - a large preserved section of the old Berlin Wall.

It was quite a shock to suddenly come across the wall, not least because of how flimsy it looked as a structure, but also to see it quite literally partitioning a street in half. The great thing about it, however, was the way that it had been preserved and turned into an open air museum explaining the rise and fall of Nazism and the subsequent Russian occupation of the eastern half of Germany. I can only imagine the amount of soul searching that Germany must have gone through since 1945, but here in unmitigated terms was the story placed on display for the world to see, recognising the wrongs of Nazism, the brutality of the Russian occupation and eventual reunification. This was one of the highlights of the whole trip, but again, due to time constraints we had to forego a visit into the adjacent Topographie des Terrors museum (, something I will definitely explore further on my next trip.

We proceeded to Checkpoint Charlie, the former gateway between the Russian and Allied occupied sectors of the city - nice to say I'd been there, but in truth there was not a lot to see - and then made it out to the Jewish Museum Berlin/Jüdischen Museum Berlin ( Again, due to time constraints I did not have a lot of time to spend here, but I still paid the 8 Euro entry fee to have a quick look around inside, albeit spending only ten minutes there before having to leave to get to the train station for our return trip to Warnemunde. Inside the museum, however, I did get to see many of harrowing artefacts detailing the lives of the Jews in Germany who were slaughtered in the death camps by the Nazi regime. Again, next time I make it to Berlin I definitely intend to spend a bit more time here.

Following this Tony and I legged it by foot across Berlin to get back to the train station to get the express train that would take only two hours back to Warnemunde - and missed it by a single minute. There was only one thing for it then, and that was to have another German beer, after which we got the three hour journey back, reaching the boat by ten o'clock. A great day out, and one that has only whetted my appetite more for a return visit in the very near future.

On Day 5 we were at sea all day, and so another full talks programme. I attended a presentation on Flip-Pal by Gordon Nuttall - interesting, but whilst it is a useful and clever device, I still don't see that it would be one that I would personally use that often. I also attended a useful talk by Rosemary Kopittke on directories and almanacs, and then Janet Few's interesting talk on 'Til Death Us Do Part, causes of death from 1300-1948. After Paul Milner's session on English parish registers (accompanied by a book of the same title - see, I then gave my talk on Irish Records Online, including news of the new Roman Catholic registers site from the NLI at, which seemed to be well received.

The highlight of the day was. by a long shot, An Evening with Master Christopher: 17th century barber surgeon. For this, Chris Braund and Janet Few donned period costumes to explain the life and times of a typical 17th century barber surgeon, with many volunteers drawn from the audience to be 'operated on' - yours truly included, for an apparent complaint down below that I never knew I had and hope to God I never ever do, if Chris' treatment is anything to go by! Suffice to say that if this had been for real, the treatment would have left me singing several octaves higher. It was a hilarious talk, and one that was the talk of the boat for many days to come.

Day 6 then saw us arrive in Estonia, at the port of Tallinn, another first for me, and an absolutely extraordinary place.

The old town of Tallin was a brief walk from the boat, and a magical step back in time to the medieval period, with some beautifully preserved buildings in the old walled fortress town. I managed to climb the tower of Saint Olav's Church (, nearly killing myself with the effort to get up the tiny cramped spiral staircase - only to have my spectacular achievement humiliated by the discovery of a very elderly rotund female volunteer at the base of the spire, sitting in amongst the rafters in an attendant's box, calmly knitting away - she clearly does this every day effortlessly, in the exact same way that I don't! But what a view - an unbelievable place.

We passed on an opportunity to visit the Museum of Estonian Drinks Culture, but found many hidden gems amongst the town's tights streets and hidden closes, including the Irish Embassy, an old German building with a war memorial dedicated to Germans killed in the region between 1918 and 1920, the period of the Estonian War of Independence, as well as a memorial to the British Royal Navy from the same period at the Estonian Maritime Museum ( We tend to think in the UK that the First World War ended in November 1918, but there was still plenty of unfinished business at that point in parts, and the UK continued to be involved beyond this point. A drink of Saku beer at the city's Freedom Square was followed by a further dander back to the boat, where on the way back I bought my wife a small necklace with an amber based pendant attached. The girl who sold it to me was a Russian, so I had a quick chat to her about life in Estonia. Her English was much better than mine, very impressive, and very friendly. I learned from her that the Estonian word for 'thank you' was 'tänan', and the Russian equivalent was 'Спасибо', pronounced 'Spa-see-ba', both of which I used for the rest of the day.

We returned to the boat for a prompt 5pm departure, and after dinner I attended Cyndi Ingles talk on Google Maps and Google Earth, from which I learned of a useful tutorial site available at, which I will need to have a play with.

Coming next - Russia!


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Unlock the Past Baltic genealogy cruise - Days 1 to 3

Last night I finally got back to Scotland after two extraordinary weeks away with Australian based Unlock the Past (, for whom I worked as a speaker on a Baltic Sea bound genealogy cruise. It was an amazing fortnight, and one from which I am absolutely exhausted!

This was my third cruise with the firm, but in the past the set up in the Australian and New Zealand based cruises has been that I would give a series of talks on board the boat, and then at port stops give additional talks to locally based family history societies. On this occasion I was only required to speak on board, meaning that for the first time I was able to enjoy all the port stops as a tourist - and what a programme!

Starting and ending at Southampton, we also visited Zeebrugge, Blankenberge and Bruges (Belgium), Warnemunde and Berlin (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), St Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark). As a passionate European, I have now managed to visit many more countries on our continent for the first time and learned so much more about its wonderful diversity. On the genealogy side of things, I also managed to pick up some great tips and information from other speakers, including Janet Few, Christopher Braund, Shauna Hicks, Jane Taubman, Caroline Gurney, Helen Smith, Rosemary Kopittke, Eric Kopittke, Carole Baxter, and all the way from the USA, Cyndi Ingle and Paul Milner. A great line up, a great programme, and a great two weeks on the weather front.

We kicked off from Southampton on Saturday July 11th and set sail for Belgium, with Paul Milner giving the first entertaining talk in the evening on what our ancestors were really like. On this trip I shared a cabin with Tony Beardshaw from Yorkshire based My History (, who was on board to run the book shop for the conference, and after arriving on the Celebrity Eclipse at Zeebrugge early on the Sunday morning, Day 2 started with the two of us setting off for Blankenberge, a beautiful seaside town from which we could then get a train into Bruges. We managed to take a quick half hour look around Blankenberge, finding an interesting war memorial on the beach, before hopping on to a double decker train into Bruges - though not before being removed by the conductor, along with half of the Eclipse's passengers, from the first coach that we all settled in, which soon turned out to be for first class passengers only!

Once in Bruges we spent a few hours taking in the sites 'on a dander' (an Ulster saying meaning with no fixed agenda!) before returning for the all important 'all aboard time'. This is only the third time I have been to Belgium, my last visit there having been about ten years ago to try to trace information on my great grandfather, who ran two shops in Brussels from the late 19th century until he died there as a civilian in hiding during the German occupation in 1916. The centre of Bruges felt similar to the old part of Brussels city centre, though the whole town was one with a lot more historic preservation than the Belgian capital. We returned to the ship for 3pm, and by 3.30pm I was giving my first talk on Genealogy Without Borders, examining personal identity and the need to explore the diaspora for the complete family story - and coincidentally featuring a good ten minutes on my family's Belgian based civilian story from the First Word War.

Day 3 was our first full conference day at sea, and as such I attended many talks. The first was a useful session on merchant seamen's records by Caroline Gurney, which really helped to flesh out my somewhat limited knowledge on the subject, and then it was straight into a session on writing by Oz based author and genie Carol Baxter. I found Carol's sessions extremely useful, in that although I write a lot myself, I came into it from a different background (I previously worked in television), and as such, it was refreshing and informative to listen to her approach on the subject. The next talk I attended was Eric Kopittke's absolutely superb session on research in German civil and parish records. I know very little about German genealogy, and what little I thought I knew soon turned out to be stuff I didn't know at all! Soon I was learning about the country's various standesamter, details in the civil records (very similar to those found in Scottish records), the locations of church records and more. I bought Eric's book on the subject as a result, which I will review in due course.

After lunch I listened to Janet Few's useful talk on some less well known UK sources. Although predominantly focussed on English based resources, there were some interesting sites I had not heard of before discussed, including the History of Advertising Trust site at and the HistoryGeo site at, detailing landowner maps in the US. At this point I was due to give a talk on Scottish Land Records, but although I got started, we unfortunately had to abandon it after five minutes due to a double booking error of the venue - the ship's bingo ended up winning, and so my talk had to be rescheduled for later in the cruise. After a quick coffee, I attended Carol Baxter's session on Gripping Writing, after which we then broke for dinner.

The final session of the day was a real treat - Cyndi Ingle doing a talk about her major online resource Cyndi's List (, the world's best known online genealogy directory. Cyndi has put her heart, soul, money, time, and a significant chunk of her life, into maintaining this site, and it was a real honour to have her guide us through it. The site recently underwent a major upgrade in 2011 - we're now on Cyndi's List 2.0 - to allow it to be future proofed for the next few years. To offset the costs, there is a donation button now on the site to allow for voluntary contributions from users to help, with some 81% of the costs already cleared.

Meeting Cyndi, her mum and her son Evan was one of many highlights on the trip, but three days in we still had plenty more gems ahead of us...! If you use the Cyndi's List site, please do consider making a donation - and for the reasons why, you can do no better than to read Judy Russell's excellent piece about Cyndi's contribution to genealogy at

Coming next - the Berlin Wall, missing a train back to the boat from Berlin, Discovering English parish registers, the magnificence of Tallinn - and 17th century surgery at the hands of Master Christopher and Mistress Agnes...!


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit