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21 Aug 2015

Findmypast launch index to the probate calendars 1858-1959

Findmypast launch index to the probate calendars 1858-1959

My first thoughts are, goodness, I have been working for a month on an index to these records, does this totally nullify my project? On some reflection, I think being able to search the indexes for any text is a good, clever and simple idea. However, its use really depends on how well the OCR (?) data has been cleaned. If you are looking for a name, occupation or street address and the records have been partially mis-keyed, or even are recorded in an unfamiliar format (e.g. 1-2 St. John-villas, London-road east, Berwick, North Britain), you could easily miss them.

Good luck to anyone searching for someone named John James. The old WillFinder database at First Avenue House was notorious for being impossible to search for someone male of the James/ John/ David lastnames. The beauty of the Tom's Wills index which I am curating will be in the visible juxtaposition of entries, and the genuine ability to browse across parishes and across many entries referencing the same surname. For me, seeing the records in context is important and without genuinely being able to browse, a chunk of the experience is missing.

Will Findmypast move towards an experience similar to Ancestry's, where more data is given in the search results? They are assuredly mistaken about the list of 500,000 names. That is off by a factor of 20 if you only count the decedents, and a factor of over 50 if you include the spouses, heirs and solicitors. (On checking, they clearly mean pages.)

Should you wish to search for using an ambiguous keyword such as Bury, you may get surnames when you are looking for place and vice versa too. Below is an example of searching on Jones.
In the meantime, come and browse the old streets and byways of the probate indexes at Tom's Wills.

Searching for Jones gives 57000 identical entries:

12 Aug 2015

Records from a Big Bank - details of unclaimed estates

These records are from a Big Bank. I was googling a new relative today (12 Aug 2015) when I noticed that they appeared in this enticing document called 'unclaimed accounts', published by the bank under the authoritative-looking URL of important-information/pdf/unclaimed-final-ac.pdf. How very interesting. It was definitely our guy, and contacting his grandson on Facebook got me confirmation of this barely an hour later. I went back and grabbed the names of as many people with British connections that I could to highlight them here. I understand that this bank has sold its unclaimed assets to a third party, in at least one country where it operates. More recent versions of this list do not include those listed below. These bank accounts could have been opened before 1982 (when Harare became known as Salisbury) and some were opened after 1974 (when the delights of Cleveland opened their doors). I think I would be annoyed as a relative if I was told the money had disappeared, so perhaps genealogists can help people look into this project?
go to

5 Aug 2015

Tom's Wills - the index to British wills

Announcing the presenting online of Tom's Wills - an index to British wills currently running from 1933 to 1935. Tom Chatley was arguably the first person to conceive of an index to the list of probates held around the country. These were in book form for many years. He began writing out the entries on a card index in the 1930s, and these finally made it to the printed internet page in 2015. It was his ambition to collect together the interesting addresses and info about the personal representatives. Now that can be shared so that you too can find your relatives. Tom had a particular soft spot for people in Wales who were otherwise completely stuffed. As looking for Joneses in Wales is really tough without an address, perhaps Tom's Wills can help you? It's online at Tom's Wills.

27 Jun 2015

The latest batch of searches on my site

mary priscilla sarah mead born wincanton 1856
son of george henry and mary ann barnes; husband of stella katie barnes of herne bay kent.
children of oliver creed of youngstown ohio
tobias rodda of crowan
loise m clark died burnham on sea probate
francis longden sheffield
intrusan valley long merrarap limbang fifth sarawak administration
greenditch farm chilcompton joan drewitt
haine alexander of england
oliver creed of youngstown ohio
mary agnes litchfield 1864-1949 mossley hill liverpool
george bearne chapman
children of george pendleton creed
butcher charles pearce cornwall
gabriel baker southey
ronald john harris married i derby 1943
1901 mona cottages bath somerset
lowry pearsey solicitors
albert roy gillett probate
how to attach a rope corde lisse to a tree
gledhow terrace london 1881
queen victoria unwanted cheese
probate charles walter small december 1992
uriah maidment
sources for the life of charles haine hawkin
belinda drummond 28 edgedale road sheffield
frederick william matthews 1873
lillian davies 205 clydach road morriston
george barclay and richard hines
trustees of joan mary elliott 13 lowood lodge lowther terrace lytham lancs
cumnock terrace castle cary
joseph creedy wells somerset
the allen s of cockhill somerset
annie lambert gorwyn
lynderswood court
george william hoddinott bristol
jeanette phillips jane shilton
sydney pearce of bredfield suffolk death
john brine 1845 uk wine canton
john curnow baker
graham gale winterborne houghton
alice florence hambly bristol
roy hoskins leigh on sea
constance evelyn rayner 68 cranmer street long eaton
lillie langtry in southsea
elizabeth ann hanham 30 kings rise camberley
the diaries of a wessex farmer josiah jackson
eric ronald blackburn banbury road oxford
amelia brighton penzance cornwall
frederick holmwood peterborough
wilfred jacob golledge
edwin frank oxley probate
gatley hill house death

hayton by brampton charlton family
sale of weaners calves in hobhouse
william symes and ann haines west pennard
edward boden1743
tuberville family history monmouthshire wales
rachel jerrome
william symes west pennard england 1818
frederick trout chagford death
thomas perry wincanton
cecil turner east coker 2 skinners hill
john hunter cock
thomas and hannah haines west pennard
marshall family bodmin
william and mary symes west pennard
mabel taffs urmston
andrew sanger-davies
somerset gazette vyvyan jones
nancy boyce markethill
peter purchase yeovil
raymond welch malvern road bournemouth 1950
grace pearce 1798
feltham painter
edward augustus sydney west 1846 - 1926
john norris of hertfordshire 1390
marjorie vale will probate
william howells hill farm westbury shrewsbury 1897
mark britten congresbury dairy farmer
ditcheat bennett
leslie hynam smith
site haine online
hayton cumberland charlton family
banksia queen camel
oliver creed youngstown ohio\
eliza jane laver
allford badgeworth
joseph bowden twins 1880
symes west pennard
charlotte butterworth sandbanks
molly hoskins church farm upton noble
haine family tree
gifford england shepton beauchamp
richard rodda blewett
hearthstone farm derby statham
harriet smith norfolk 1800s
people in kimberley with the name stanley louw
reginald dennis fearn butcher derbyshire
uk 2may1947 susan mary loughborough
ston easton johnny peppard
northways marine villas 1963
james gibson of great whittington
history west bodden farm shepton mallet

Ten tricks to help your family history (for free!)

Here's some handy tips which I've gathered over the years to help me maintain my batting average of contacting two or three new cousins a month.  It's high time your research got even easier, too!

1. Hustle to get the modern day address you need for free

2. Match the marriage with the births

3. Make freebmd work for you - even when it's wrong

4. Leapfrog over that missing marriage

5. Confirm the name at birth before you do anything

6. Turn a death entry into an address

7. If it sounds right, it is Wright

8. Guess the name of the child

9. Try ALL the censuses

10. Pinpoint your Jones using local records to help

10 Jun 2015

Wrestling, pools and silk

One bright morning in half-term I couldn't stay in bed any longer. By six I was on wondering if cousin Claire had made anything of my leads, concerning our Hunt cousins in New Jersey. I'd discovered Beatrice Hunt born 1907 in Salford had married an Italian man and died in Rancho Cucamonga after deciding to search Passaic county for all the English Beatrices. Of course she was alonely possible. Claire had done something similar for the second daughter, noting the existence of a child, Verna. By 0804 I had confirmed this and stood possessed of Verna's birth name and married name. By 0806 I had learnt she starred in two recent YouTube videos, including one with her grandson, six foot four pop journalist Giancarlo. Before I jogged off for my doctors appointment at half nine I resolved to find the other two, trickier, Hunt sisters, and that's what happened. Here are Betty and Lily in the 1930 census for Paterson with their incorrect birthplaces. Unfortunately the next census won't give the parents' birthplace of England, so it's time to use FamilySearch, for free, to comb the whole town in 1940 for clues.
The fact that they must have been born across the Hudson, in Manhattan, would turn the impossibility of finding them into a distinct possibility. Searching all the girls in Paterson New Jersey yielded plenty of possibles...
but an unexpected link pulled both girls out snap and pronto!

This is the 1940 census of Paterson with possibles for Betty and Lily grown up.
And so is this.  Hmmm, Quicks appearing twice? Suspicious!
Writing to Giancarlo, he indeed confirmed Betty had married Victor. And the Quicks and Cobianchis are living just a block from each other and/or the 1930 home on Straight Street. It's all a world away from scary old Salford. Victor worked in the silk mills as an examiner. Wrestling is a big local sport. The pools closed in the 1930s for regular cleans. A Hunt nephew drowned in the fast-flowing Passaic river. I am going to the States in August and northern Jersey is gonna talk to me more than its swankier neighbour just across the water. Go garden state.

4 Apr 2015

Gateway to the Wall and Canal

Annie Gibson!

Born just before civil registration, and seemingly not baptised, she is not living in her birth county nor her adopted county of Westmorland in the 1841 census. She appears as if a magical tree child by Lake Windermere's shores in time for the next census, of 1851.  In hindsight there were plenty of clues to her origins, but they were so unexpected we didn't dare to look.

150 years after her birth, and the sands of time had eradicated her photograph, accent, story from our collective memory. But her grandchildren knew a few clues about her. She was they said a Northumberland farmer's daughter.  We didn't know that there was so much more to it. That Crawcrook would prove chock-full of cousins and Penrith too. A lot of energy was expended on solving her husband, Mr Airey's line, known to live near the Lakes forever...

Annie's father's family were from the Wall - Hadrian's wall. Annie is named in the will of her father's father, as Ann, daughter of my late son John Gibson. She was an only child, and predeceased her mother, leaving a large family of ten children, all of whom married, and all bar one had family. (Today however, only five have living descendants.)

It struck me that the granddaughters proved difficult to trace at times and lived in quite a variety of interesting places. The list follows: India, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela, San Francisco, Egypt, Toronto, Cape Town. And the very hardest child to find moved to a little cottage in the Chiltern foothills which she was to enjoy for one year and six months.  The grandson, of whom there were not many, lived in Wimborne, Middlesbrough and Manchester, hardly the same at all.

I am sure stories are attached to most of the exotic places these 'daughters of the Lake' sojourned in. Several require use of the Suez canal to visit, and Aden in Yemen was reported as 'no place for a woman'. The lady in Venezuela was greeted after some months by a semi-naked son who had gone upstream with the natives for a time. The escape from London poverty to California came about thanks to a granddaughter winning a typing competition. She never returned, settling with her east coast ranching husband and is captured whinnying with laughter as she slams her land-vehicle into gear. We haven't yet accounted for her.