Search This Blog

Follow by Email

3 Oct 2010

Meat in your surname soup

I am focussing these days on my father's family in Manchester and the northern towns. They possessed common lastnames but no middle names. They left no wills. You can't search through the small and neighbourly parish records as you can in southern villages, nor are they in and out of each other's houses at census time.

You really have to work to tease out the data.

Yet I have traced marriages for these people with rather common names: Ann Gibson, Jane Bell, 'Sarah Stevenson', John Jackson, Elizabeth Ann Jones, Edward Jones (no relation).

Thanks to the census, principally, one can follow families through fairly persistently. It would have been an impossible exercise without today's finding aids:

* the census (for a birthplace for Jane Bell)
* a parent's will viewed for free at LDS (for Sarah Eleanor Stephenson)
* checking the original registers having found a possible marriage in a named parish on LancashireBMD (for Edward Jones)
* the 1900 census for the US (which told me that John Jackson had married about 1878 and that his wife's name was Mary Jane)
* the Ancestry probate index which allows you to search for a few towns (like Birkenhead) but mostly only counties: it yielded an administration for J T Jones in Birkenhead with his daughter Elizabeth's married name
* the Newcastle Courant newspaper available free at BL/LDS which yielded an announcement of marriage for Ann Gibson with the crucial information: daughter of Charlton

All these tools helped enormously, yet they've only recently become available, due to the rising revenue from family historians, which stems in part from the hard work of those who have transcribed records accurately and shared them freely.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting on my blog! Your comment will be live once moderated. You don't need to log in - just select 'anonymous' from the dropdown menu.