Visiting National Archives in England

Whenever I travel to England, I try to get a lot of family history research done as well as touring the counties of my ancestors.

So while at the National Archives UK at Kew in 2005, I made a great discovery. It was the first time I had visited the archives so wanted to make the best use of my time there.  I asked for anything about John ENGLAND from Yorkshire.  After a while I was sent downstairs to the large document area. Not sure if this is still there or not.

They had found a document from York Castle about my great great grandfather’s crime which had him sent to Van Diemens Land back in 1846. I have written about John in a few other posts here, here and here.

This was an extremely long parchment document. I knew I wouldn’t have time to transcribe it there and then, so asked permission to make a copy using my ipad. It took 23 images to get the complete document as I unrolled it very carefully. The document was about a metre wide. Every 60-90cm or every 2-3 feet I would take a photo. I had only had my ipad for a short time, so the images came out very dark. When I was back in Australia, I adjusted the brightness so I could read the document more easily and saved those new images as well.

Here is one of the pages and below is the beginning of the transcription:


… Yorkshire to wit: The Jurors for our Lady the Queen upon their oath present that hereby to wit on the nineteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty six at the Parish of Rotherham in the West Riding of the County of York John Fullarton Esquire then being one of the Justices of our Lady the Queen assigned to keep the peace of the said Lady the Queen within the said West Riding of the County of York …

My convict’s name is not mentioned until the eleventh line of the document. Imagine having to transcribe 23 pages of said language. I might eventually get around to it. Some pages of the document also has other writing crossed over the original as seen in this image. There is virtually no punctuation in the entire document.

Readers: What is the most difficult document you have had to try and read? How successful were you?

3 thoughts on “Visiting National Archives in England

  1. Recently discovered a will for my 3xgreat grandfather who died in 1821. My estimate was 10 years or more out. I couldn’t transcribe anything much except the names of his wife and 5 daughters. That’s how I knew he was mine as he was Thomas Evans. Eventually another member of our genealogical group, who is a professional, transcribed it for me. Biggest surprise was that he left one thousand pounds in personal assets. He was a grocer and hop merchant and only 35 when he died. Wonder where the money went?

  2. Wow! that is quite a document, it’s amazing they save all these old scrolls for a court proceeding that happened more than 150 years ago. I wonder how long the case lasted and how tedious to be a court reporter at that time using a pen dipped in an inkwell. Thanks for sharing.

  3. That is amazing. Keeping in mind that the English language was not completely standardised and paper was not cheap, it is not surprising there was no punctuation and it is all cramped together and written over.. I love how the style of script changes with the centuries and the nearer to now we get the more wasted space for easy reading we have, not to mention all the letters that have disappeared from our language. We done for even trying to tackle the document and I am so pleased you were allowed to make a copy.

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