Monday, September 30, 2013

Will Calendars at PRONI

The Will Calendars at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland provides a fully searchable index to the will calendar entries for the three District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry, with the facility to view the entire will calendar entry for each successful search.  The database covers the period 1858-1919 and 1922-1943.  Part of 1921 has been added, with remaining entries for 1920-1921 to follow in the near future.  
Digitised images of entries from the copy will books covering the period 1858-1900 are now available online, allowing users to view the full content of a will.  93,388 will images are now available to view.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Scottish Soldier's Wills

Scottish Soldiers Wills are scheduled to come online in 2014 as part of the commemoration of World War 1.  The wills consist of special forms removed from soldiers' pay books, other army forms, or other documents. They are generally very brief and do not mention individual possessions. They contain limited personal or service history information.
About 31,000 wills survive, of which approximately 26,000 date from the First World War (WW I) and 4,700 from the Second World War (WW II). The rest belong to the period between 1857 and 1966. The wills were written by men up to the rank of warrant officer. About 100 wills exist of officers who were commissioned from the rank during WW I, and a few from WWII. There are wills of some Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel from WW I, and of six women serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War II.
The soldiers' wills belong to a special series among the records of the Edinburgh Commissary Office, which received them from the War Office because the men were domiciled in Scotland. Most were not recorded in the commissary registers of the Commissary Office and the sheriff courts.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Archaic Medical Terms

Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms is a collection of archaic medical terms and their old and modern definitions.  The primary focus of this web site is to help decipher the Causes of Death found on Mortality Lists, Certificates of Death and Church Death Records from the 19th century and earlier. The web site is updated often and as new information is received, with the intention of collecting and recording old medical terms in all European languages. The English and German lists are the most extensive to date. If you are having trouble decoding the medical language used to describe causes of death then the Archaic Medical Terms website may help you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WW1 Conscription Appeals

The World War 1 Military Conscription Appeals series contains 11,000 case papers from the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal which, between 1916 and 1918, heard appeals from men who had previously applied to a local tribunal for exemption from compulsory military service. The reasons provided by applicants are varied, with applications made on moral grounds (conscientious objectors), on medical grounds (disability), on family grounds (looking after dependents) and on economic grounds (preserving a business). The vast majority of cases relate to the impact of war on a man’s family or their business interests, and the papers reveal some fascinating and tragic stories.

Due to the sensitive issues that surrounded compulsory military service during and after the First World War, only a small minority of the tribunal papers survive. In the years that followed the end of the war, the Government issued instructions to the Local Government Boards that all tribunal material should be destroyed, except for the Middlesex Appeal records and a similar set for Lothian and Peebles in Scotland, which were to be retained as a benchmark for possible future use. A sample of records from the Central Tribunal were also retained, which are also part of the series.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Great War Pension Records

The Western Front Association (WFA) has announced that it has secured the safe storage and preservation of over six million Great War soldiers' pension record cards after learning that the Ministry of Defence was no longer able to retain and manage this archive.  There was a possibility that the records would have had to be destroyed unless they could be passed for safe keeping to a reputable organisation. 

The WFA has made a study and catalogued the primary information for of each group of records in the archive, and arranged the safe transfer and storage of the records to the WFA's secure premises.

During the Great War, dependents of each serving British soldier, sailor, airman and nurse who was killed were entitled to a pension, as were those service personnel who were wounded or otherwise incapacitated due to the conflict. There is a card for each. These cards are categorised as follows:

  • Other Ranks Died (this contains nearly one million individual records)
  • Widows and Dependents of Other Ranks Died (in excess of one million records)
  • Other Ranks Survived: Requested/Rejected/Receiving Pension (over 2.5 million records)
  • Officers survived and Officers' Widows (approximately 150,000 records)
  • Merchant Naval Cards (about 5,000 records
The WFA is still working towards this online database, but prior to the records being digitised it will offer manual lookups upon application for a fee.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

English Wills

In England, wills fall into two main categories - pre-1858 and post-1858.  Pre-1858 wills were probated in one of two principal courts for England and Wales - the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in the south, searchable at and the Prerogative Court of York in the north, searchable at  Below these were other levels of ecclesiastical courts, including what were known as peculiars.
Post-1858 wills were proved at the Principal Probate Registry, established 12 January 1858, and can be searched on Ancestry.  Copies of wills can be ordered at a cost.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Essex Police Museum

Has one of your relatives worked in the Essex Police Constabulary?
The Essex Police Museum holds the following indexes on the following;
  • Police officers in the Essex County Constabulary from the 1880s to present day
  • Police officers who served in the Colchester Borough Police and transferred to the Essex County Constabulary in 1947
  • Police officers serving in Southend Borough Police 1914 - 1969
  • Police War Reserves - World War II
  • Women Police Auxiliaries - World War II

These indexes will provide basic details concerning an individual, such as date/place of birth, dates of service, commendations, misconducts, sickness, training, pay, reason for leaving and rank held.  Basic information is free, full records incur a cost.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

19th Century Immigrants to Britain

The records of thousands of 19th century immigrants to Britain are now available to search and download online. The collection, which covers the period 1801 to 1871, includes records relating to more than 7,000 people who applied to become British citizens under the 1844 Naturalisation Act, as well as a small number of papers relating to denization, a form of British citizenship that conferred some but not all the rights of a British subject.
Applicants were required under the act to present a memorial to the Secretary of State at the Home Office stating their age, trade and duration of residence. These papers are now available online for the first time.
They include a rich mix of individuals from across the world, including a large number of immigrants from French and German states, as well as Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, Poland, Sweden and the Italian states.

The majority settled in London, establishing immigrant communities, such as 'Little Italy' in Clerkenwell, which still exist today. Many Italian immigrants were ice cream makers, plasterers, confectioners, restaurateurs, and shop keepers, while many German immigrants settled in the East End of London working in the sugar refineries and in the meat and baking trades.

Monday, September 2, 2013

What's New on Trove

Have you checked back to Trove recently to see what's new?  While we all continue “Troving” (yes, that is now a word), the team who digitise the newspapers for the National Library of Australia have been working hard.
Here’s their list of new newspapers:
- The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser (NSW: 1868-1931)
- The Shoalhaven Telegraph (NSW: 1879-1937)
- The Sydney Stock and Station Journal (NSW: 1896-1924)
Boorowa News (NSW: 1951-1954)
- The Braidwood Review and District Advocate (NSW: 1915-1954)
- The Clarence River Advocate (NSW: 1898-1949)
- The Gundagai Independent and Pastoral, Agricultural & Mining Advocate (NSW: 1898 – 1928)
- The Hebrew Standard of Australasia (NSW: 1895-1953)
Intelligence (Bowral, NSW: 1884)
- The International Socialist (Sydney, NSW: 1910-1920)
- The Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News (NSW: 1859-1866)
Referee (Sydney, NSW: 1886-1939)
- The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser (NSW: 1904-1929)
Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW: 1895-1930)
Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald & General Advertiser (Qld: 1861-1908)
- Herald (Adelaide, SA: 1899-1910)
Murray Pioneer (Renmark, SA: 1942-1950)
Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA: 1913-1942)
News (Adelaide, SA: 1923-1954)
Petersburg Times (SA: 1887-1919)
- The Times and Northern Advertiser, Peterborough, South Australia (SA: 1919-1950)
Wallaroo Times (Port Wallaroo, SA: 1882-1888)
- The Wallaroo Times and Mining Journal (Port Wallaroo, SA: 1865-1881)
Weekly Herald (Adelaide, SA: 1894-1898)
- Ballan Times (Vic: 1914-1918)
Clunes Guardian and Gazette (Vic: 1918-1918)
Cobden Times (Vic: 1918)
Cobden Times and Heytesbury Advertiser (Vic: 1914-1918)
Coleraine Albion and Western Advertiser (Vic: 1914-1918)
Creswick Advertiser (Vic: 1914-1918)
Daylesford Advocate, Yandoit, Glenlyon and Eganstown Chronicle (Vic: 1914-1918)
Geelong Advertiser (Vic: 1914-1918)
Grenville Standard (Vic: 1915 – 1918)
Hamilton Spectator (Vic: 1914 – 1918)
Koroit Sentinel and Tower Hill Advocate (Vic : 1914-1918)
Lang Lang Guardian (Vic : 1914-1918)
Mount. Alexander Mail (Vic: 1914-1917)
Penshurst Free Press (Vic: 1914-1918)
Richmond Australian (Vic: 1914-1916)
Riponshire Advocate (Vic: 1914 – 1918)
Rochester Express (Vic: 1914 – 1918)
Talbot Leader (Vic: 1914 – 1918)
Weekly News (Yarraville) (Vic: 1914-1918)

The National Library of Australia’s digitised newspapers currently has over 10 million pages from over 500 Australian newspapers online. All of these digitised newspapers are fully text-searchable, and users can enhance the data by subject tagging, text correction and annotations (have you done that?). And of course the newspapers are FREE for everyone to use and browse.