Genealogy SIG Newsletter: April 2014
What’s new on Ancestry (UK)
What’s new in FindmyPast (UK)

Difficult to know where to start with this! For those of you who regularly use Findmypast you will be aware that they have “upgraded” their website, although the use of the word upgraded it somewhat debatable! There has been a large number of complaints from its subscribers as the search method has not only changed dramatically but initially contains many errors. Findmypast are working hard to review the complaints and trying to fix the problems.

FMP have produced a short video to provide some guidance in using the new search, either for broad searches or specific queries - certainly worth watching if you are struggling with the new search method. Click here.

At the same time as the upgrade to the site, they announced the launch of their “100in100 campaign” whereby over the subsequent 100 days they will be releasing 100 new record sets – those released so far can be found in the following link.

Some important collections released so far include:

  • The Shropshire collection which covers Shropshire banns, baptisms, burials and marriages - click here
  • British Royal Navy & Marine Service records from 1899-1919 - click here

Irish research tends to be notoriously difficult, so the two latest additions to the 100in100 campaign may be of particular interest to those with Irish ancestry.

  • Ireland Census Search Forms 1841 & 1851 - Irish census forms which have survived thanks to the Irish pension system. These forms were used to prove that applicants were at least 70 years old.
  • Ireland Census 1821-1851 - Surviving Irish census records which cover large parts of County Cavan, Fermanagh, Galway, Offaly (King’s), and Meath in 1821, Derry/Londonderry in 1831, Cavan in 1841, and Antrim in 1851

Campaign to Open Historic BMD Registers

Some of you may know the name Guy Etchells. Guy is well known in the genealogy world, not only for his personal and business websites but also the campaigns he has been involved in.

In 2006 he successfully challenged a decision by The National Archves to block the release of the census details, which resulted in the 1911 census for England and Wales being made available online two years ahead of its scheduled release date. He also campaigned under the Freedom of Information Act that details from the 1939 National Registration of the UK be made available – this was an emergency census like survey carried out at the beginning of WW2. Interestingly Findmypast have recently announced a new project, in conjunction with The National Archives, to digitise the 1939 Register which will see 40 million wartime records published online within the next couple of years. Certainly something to look forward to!

Back to Guy! Guy has a new campaign which I am sure many of you will be interested in – to Open Historic BMD registers.

The basic idea is to allow the BMD registers to be open to public inspection at county record offices and the National Archives. Apparently there are commercial concerns who are willing to scan these registers and make them available online under licence at no cost to the public purse. This would of course lead to the ability to order and more importantly download certificates online, rather than having to order hard copies from the GRO.

Full details of Guy’s campaign can be seen on his website – click here

Please take time to support this campaign which is a very important one from a genealogist’s point of view. There are some sample letters you can use to contact your local MP/MEP or you can sign the online epetition (just click on the following link and sign!)

Can I also ask you to pass the link on to your genealogy friends or share with other genealogy groups you might belong to. Guy’s previous campaigns have been very successful – let’s hope this one is too!

WW1 Centenary Quilt

In a previous newsletter I gave some links to projects relating to the WW1 Centenary commemorations. Thanks to one of our members (Noelene) here is another link to add to the list. This is part of a family history community project to commemorate in fabric and thread those who served with the Commonwealth forces during the First World War 1914-1918 and did not return home. The aim is to produce a quilt made up of squares embroidered with the names of your ancestors or those in your local community who gave their lives.

UK Probate Office

There has been an increase in fees for all things to do with probate, including obtaining copies of wills. The cost of obtaining a copy of a will has increased from £6 to £10 and a revised application form has been issued. However, neither the increase in fees or the new form are currently shown on the Probate Registry website and a representative has said that they do not know when the website will be updated! If anyone wants a copy of the new form then let me know and I will email a copy to you. In the meantime, if anyone wants to obtain a copy of a will you might like to see if you can get away with using the old form at the old rate! Let us know how you get on!

For those members who haven't yet searched for ancestral wills, a good place to start is the National Probate Calendar covering the years 1858-1966 which you will find on Ancestry - click here

Further information & links: Family Tree Forum: Wills and Probate

Until next month ..

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