A couple of years ago, I had no knowledge of how to search for London ancestors as I didn’t have any as far as I knew. But recently, with DNA assistance, I now have a few lines through dad’s finally found father.
As tonight’s #ANZAncestryTime chat was about resources for London research, I could actually mention some sources I have used.
What general resources have you found the most helpful or what are your favourite resources for researching ancestors from London and its surroundings?
I’m hoping to gain some inspiration on ancestors who lived or moved through London.
Looking forward to hints about ways to find my London ancestor pre civil registration when I have no idea of location
Research sites I’ve used include Genuki, Pallots Index, Family Search, Ancestry and census info as a guide to places of birth. Booth’s poverty maps are great – if you have a specific address
I have found the London Metropolitan Archives very useful bit.ly/3w8Efns and also the London Encyclopedia which I purchased recently
I struggle with having any confidence that I have found the correct birth or marriage when there’s a city of a bazillion people
Yes, it can be difficult especially if researching a common name … So many Browns in North London
Censuses, directories and parishes records! Huguenot society for sure too but also French/international collections at @MyHeritage because a lot were French or Belgian/Dutch emigrants or refugees 🤩
Because I focus on 1800s and early 1900s I find the census and church records most useful for the basic starting point for my London ancestors. They moved to NZ and Essex so I can follow they with the census to Essex
I don’t have any ancestors anywhere near London, and looking at my DNA matches tree, the location is mentioned only 17 times.
the @LdnMetArchives has a number of useful guides to its resources although record sets like Land Tax Returns which I find useful for 1770-1830 are often held in Borough Libraries. So much of the LMA data is now online which is really helpful.
Do you use London specific resources? Are these available online? Is it a good place to visit for research?
Yes – mostly. I find maps very useful too and books e.g. A guide to London’s churches by Mervyn Blatch and Tracing Your London Ancestors by Jonathan Oates
Spent a few days at LMA when I was in London many years ago. So much to look at.
Can you tell us a bit about the London Encyclopaedia?
It’s one of those wonderful books that you can dip in and out of. The best kind of reference book. It’s a massive volume – 1116pages and covers anything and everything – buildings, people, organizations, streets, embankments, turnpikes etc etc
I have found it enormously helpful when tackling #52ancestorsin52weeks on my blog this year. I have a few families who originated from London.
Yes it was great when my cousin was in Hammersmith. Plus she was very interested so we visited national archives and LMA. Found some wonderful and totally huge maps that were impossible to look at the middle sections without both of us rolling it up together.
I found Robsons Trade Directory, as part of Ancestry’s London City Directories collection, useful in placing a bricklayer ancestor in 1819. The occupation tied in with his convict indent & newspaper notices entered by family trying to track him in NSW.
In a large city ensuring you have the right person can be hard. What suggestions or techniques do you use that can help? What about pre-census and pre-civil registration? Or dealing with people and families with common first and surnames?
I think perhaps sometimes you may never know although if they had an unusual occupation that might help. I guess I look for common names in siblings or common churches for baptisms. But sometimes it’s just like looking for the proverbial needle…
Coming to terms with never knowing is difficult Alex. As family historians we want to know it all
We do want to follow them back but when it comes to London I throw my hands up and give up.
Just remembered when I started I had to use elimination to get down to a more manageable list before expanding out to look for other records. Found my great GM this way. This technique required sometime, logic and keeping good records.
Looking for consistencies across records e.g. other family members, occupation etc.
This is my major conundrum: how can you be sure pre-civil Reg and if they die before census? Do they move between parishes? Also married in London but lived elsewhere. Seems impossible when names are not unusual. Tips much appreciated.
Usually I look to a family’s children’s names to see if I can detect a pattern for the earlier generation eg why I’ve “decided” my William Partridge’s maternal grandfather was likely William Thompson.
I have an ancestor who was a journeyman carpenter but the marriage records labourer. All else “fits”.
clues for my Partridge family (then living in Gloucestershire): Eliza (mother) and son William both shown as born Westminster on 1851 census, daughter shown as St Pancras. My husband’s ancestors married in London, lived in Notts. she was from East Sussex
I have looked for wills and letters of administration as they will give names of people involved and addresses often.
I got a great will earlier in the year. It has a row of houses in London and my grandmother left different ones to different children. I just have to find it as I forgot to file it on my computer properly.
I think luck has a lot to do with getting the correct persons. I was lucky to have families that used unusual second names & less common maiden names reused down the generations. 3 cheers for Freeborn, Collis, Myhill, Frith, Grout, Tarbet & more.
Finding my 3x g grandfather Thomas Jones in London pre civil reg has been impossible, not knowing his location
What maps and mapping sites have helped you understand London and its surrounds? Do you find ancestors relocate and return to London? Any ancestors with interesting capital-based roles? In parliament, for example?
I tend to order maps from Gould Genealogy as I find it quite difficult looking at maps online. My Dad’s old AA guide to London from the 1960s came in quite handy when I was doing research recently ! It doesn’t have just maps but also guides to churches et al.
My dad’s side of the family were mainly from London, Surrey, Kent area so comparing google maps with the poverty maps and ordnance maps from Scotland site have been great.
National Library of Scotland has some digitised London info.
I sometimes use Google maps to check out the relative proximity, and distance, between 2 places that an ancestor has lived. However, my Brown line has pretty much been in the Tottenham/Edmonton area for generations and generations
I often use street view on google. Even though it is fairly recent I find it gives a different perspective. I had a go at layering a while back and stripping back to older versions can be enlightening.
A relaxing day yesterday, just watching a few sessions as I know I will be able to view most of them over the next year. So now to start day 2 at 10am my time in Tasmania.
Went to the Main Stage but all sessions had finished already. Then looked at the live sessions for today and have already missed 9 out of the 10 I wanted to see. Glad these will be recorded so I can watch later on.
So looks like my plan for today is to look at some series and other sessions I have ticked and added to my playlist. I have also been watching twitter to see what other sessions are being recommended by other genealogists I follow.
Loved the introduction to this series. Common saying by mums of large families “Is everyone here?” Jana suggests ways to fill in those gaps in your family tree where you might have found some children but maybe not all of them. This is mainly for English families.
An individual’s story includes all their relationships.
Before 1900 most married women had children every 1-3 years so check your tree for gaps that might show children missing
Ask questions about why there might be a gap – change church, dad in gaol, dad a mariner, stillbirth etc
Find your family in every census
Keep a spreadsheet or chart from 1841-1921 and mark off relevant censuses you find each member of the family in
Remember children grow and leave home or are apprentices or servants in other homes of get married
If not in a census, maybe emigration
Also use 1939 register
In 1911 census , you find how many children a woman had – how many alive and how many dead
Use civil registration records to help fill gaps
Use indexes on GRO website gives more info than other indexes on Ancestry etc – register for free and order certificates from here as well
Use birth and death indexes – good for those children who died young
Church records mainly Church of England prior to 1837 when civil registration began
From mid 1500s, two copies of christenings, marriages and burials are found in parish registers or Bishops transcripts
Inscriptions on gravestones, where they are buried, maybe other members buried nearby
If you can find the images, it can be better than indexes – they often have extra information in margins
Also look in neighbouring parishes and towns
In small towns, create lists with same surname – often they are related
Wills, admons (didn’t leave a will), estate duty
From 1858, check at gov.uk or in Ancestry
Before 1858, you need to check county probate records which can be found on family search wiki – findmypast and the genealogist also have the images
In small town keep record of all with same surname
Escaping the Famine – Irish settlement in Canada by Melanie McComb @ShamrockGen
This session really interested me as those readers who follow my blog, know of my frustrations with my Irish Jackson family. After three members of the family, William senior, William Junior and Rebecca as well as another relative Jane Steel, were sentenced to transportation, another member of the family Anne Jackson, who had dobbed them in for stealing, asked for help to get away from Ireland.
While I was travelling in Ireland I did some research on Anne and found her with two other children Mary Ann and Robert going to Canada on the recommendation of the magistrate who had sentenced the Jacksons.
Melanie’s session included the history of Irish Immigration to Canada and many of the reasons why this happened. She also discusses the voyages across the Atlantic from Ireland to Canada. Once in Canadian waters, there was quarantine to go through at various points along the coast.
Before 1865, no formal passenger lists but some shipping companies kept lists. This is where I found Ann and her children on the J.J.Cooke list arriving on the ship Superior in 1847. These records are now on Ancestry.
Melanie also mentions a collection of records coming into New England through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick for the years 1841-1849. It includes more than just immigration records.
Melanie then went into other ways to build your Irish family in Canada:
Using census to looking for parent(s) born in Ireland but children born in Canada. Different information found in each census will help you work out when someone came to Canada and maybe where they came from in Ireland.
Church records – some found online, others still on microfilm and found in registers at particular churches.
Land records also might help build your family tree in Canada – province level first then county level
Newspapers also give lots of information including goods belonging to dead people and how to claim them. Also check out obituaries and articles in area near where your Irish family settled.
Gravestones might also have town and parish in Ireland mentioned on them.
Readers: What was your takeaway from day 2 at RootsTech 2022?
Gee, I am nearly up to date with the #ANZAncestryTime chat summaries. Had time to do this one today at the library as only two people booked and one of them didn’t turn up. So plenty of time to write a post.
Which part of your family history research do you consider most important to be preserved and why? ie trees, documents, memorabilia, stories, all?
all of it. Bits ‘n’ pieces can be used in error, which would not be helpful to future generations SLR
Stories and memorabilia – the rest can be recreated (albeit painfully!) but those stories and and memorabilia are irreplaceable
I think you might have nailed it here. Today Dad and I were talking about framing his grandfather’s medals in a kind of shadow box. But he was the one who said we need a story with it as well so it means something. So a bit of both.
That’s a really good example Alex, especially when I think of the most effective museum exhibitions I’ve seen e.g. Egyptian Museum in Berlin – a room of papyrus fragments brought to life because they told stories about them
Photos are a good idea too Mandy. I was just thinking that if I could have only three photos of each person in my tree it would be the “maiden, mother, crone” approach 🙂
I would hate to see my trees lost but I have no one interested Tara. Much of my research though is in my stories in blog posts
a lot of my research is in wordpress websites/blogs and I’m hoping my daughter will keep them in the future if not adding to them
I know the @NLIreland is archiving sites of Irish interest so hopefully that will include Irish-oriented genealogy blogs but how do you ensure your blog content survives if wordpress dies?
Above all – the stories. I have insights into parts of Australian history that I had no idea about. Or, had studied the history but didn’t realise any of my ancestors were associated with the events (e.g. Eureka Stockade). But, also documents, photos.
For my own research, the work I have done to try to identify mystery 2xGGF. Even if I don’t figure it out, I would like to leave a head start for someone else
yes – nothing more frustrating than a bunch of notes but not accurately sourced or presented clearly.
I think we still need to downsize our digital photo collections too – do we need all of them? perhaps a few digital albums to pass on or store online
the tree initially as family members like to see number of people and see where they are in grand scheme of things. Stories in a blog is the best thing as it provide more tangible relatable details.
In the same way I was taught by my mother and use her 50 years of work, I am working with my nephew. He is starting to get his young sons interested and eventually I hope his baby daughter, my namesake.
Do you think that because our family thinks this gig is “ours” they switch off? Maybe when we’re not around?
good point. I am starting to have those discussions now. Along the lines of what would make you keep this? Is it about how it is presented? Is it attractive. Is it portable (fits in a box) – i.e. not overwhelming.
I just found a box of boxes of slides in my back bedroom mentioned in my NFHM post . What to do with them is another problem.
I am adding many of my family members to WikiTree writing detailed biographies based on sources. I add my family to FamilySearch. I am hoping to write more of my story, but am finishing off my research road safety scrapbooks this year.
Excellent strategy, adding the sources and stories to online trees such as Wikitree and FamilySearch
For me it would be my tree. I have very little in the way of memorabilia. My FTM tree has photos attached. I wish I had more. I have found some online and a few have been sent to me (digitally) from newly discovered cousins. Always exciting
The trees, the evidence that underpins the trees and the stories that go with the trees
Overall, all components are key to handing over a complete family history. Trees are needed to explain who fits where, documents to support your discoveries and stories to bring it together. Memorabilia offers a tangible link to ancestors.
yes Pauleen the tangible stuff is so important isn’t it? If we can’t walk the land our ancestors stood on, it’s good to hold something they touched e.g. medal or cloth.
IMHO it is the stories of people’s lives that most need to be preserved as usually they will contain all the other elements
All are important but I think stories as you might be the only one that knows that story. A genealogy tree/database can be stored online easily or given to others but only you can write the stories.
what an interesting question. I think descendants get most excited about the trees to begin with – “Ooh look how far back you’ve gone!” but it’s all meaningless without the stories I reckon.
Totally agree Alex. Researching family history has to include finding the stories that make our ancestors become real people
That is very true. I add links to my blog to each individual where I’ve posted their story.
I think that family documents and personal items like photographs are the most important things to preserve
The most important part of family history research to be preserved will be the write up.
I agree because it would typically include reference to the other aspects.
Have you made plans for or had discussions with your family about what will happen to your research? Do you have a beneficiary chosen and recorded?
vip to consider maintenance of websites especially those that were based on html WYSIWYG technology – a big issue as not so many folks will be able to code in html for websites in the future. This is an issue that the Fellowship of First Fleeters is currently working on
It’s the fluidity of technology that makes me nervous. What will last, what won’t?
Yes. I’ve looked for advice from the major libraries and archives and have followed it with sound files.
I have a niece who has some interest but haven’t discussed plans for my research when I’m gone. It would be a shame for the research to be lost but it has given me a lot of pleasure over the years
Mind you, I have no intention of falling off my perch until I’ve smashed all my brickwalls
When my grandkids visit I show them the items I’ve bequeathed to them and tell them why. I may hand the items over before I pop my clogs but the kids need to be a bit older.
I haven’t yet. I don’t currently have anyone interested although a couple of my cousin’s kids ask questions occasionally. Maybe in 10 years…
school assignments or history assignments usually prompt questions don’t they?
Already answered that. In my will I leave various items to people that I hope will use them. BUT I am getting rid of them now as I am the best to know what is what. I have disposed of five people’s stuff, I’m working hard on my own.
As the older generation we need to tell them about the things they may see so don’t hide things away too much so that they can ask us
yes I think this is the trick. If it is important to us we need to have it on display so that it prompts questions 🙂
I have a convict diary Alex that I believe I have the only full transcription of and both the original and microfiche have disintegrated. I was thinking SAG for that
As there is no one close to me, I am planning to have it all online in various places eg subscription database trees, blog posts on my website (archived by NLA in Trove) and PDF copies of my family histories for whoever wants them
I’m like Shauna, all online for others to connect with and read when they become interested.
I think it may have been more a direction than a discussion 😉 one daughter is my designated beneficiary and that is included in my will. Key memorabilia is also outlined for descendants
very organized Pauleen and people appreciate that. Dad is super organized and has written lists of who should get what and has discussions with me regularly. All amicable. He is a good painter and so his artwork needs to be shared around.
we are such hoarders that my daughter is determined that we will clean up the house now. So those sort of conversations have started. I often wonder if the freshly minted grandson will be interested. No formal arrangements yet.
I know I should make plans but currently my son is not interested he has cousins who may be more interested
I have no idea as yet. No one else in my family is interested. My half-sisters are interested in our Chinese side (paternal), but my maternal side may need to be donated to SAG or a library etc
Passing on access to DNA data is important too
If no family member is interested in inheriting your research, what steps can you take to ensure it is preserved?
I do have some bits from my father-in-law of historical interest – Union card (branch president) from the 1830s, and letters from the masons building Scott Monument in Edinburgh. I’m looking into best places to donate these
yes sometimes our family isn’t the best place – a museum e.g. Australian War Memorial or State Libraries are a great place for precious memorabilia e.g. diaries/letters
My great grandfather was a cooper. His tools were passed down but we could not keep them so donated to a brewery museum who was able to take and display them..
Especially if an ancestor had no descendants, giving artifacts/documents/photos to museum or library or archive or historical/genealogical society will keep them safe for future researchers
in my estate trust I have a letter of direction for how to dispose of various parts if no one is interested. Org. Names & addresses included.
So important to write instructions regarding what happens to our #Genealogy collection after we join our ancestors. You can also check with the organizations in advance to confirm what they will accept.
My current strategy is to put everything online as much as possible – so trees at WikiTree, FamilySearch and all the ‘biggies’.
Yes, share family trees online to be sure info continues to be available. And for #CousinBait!
none of my family show any interest in family history, occasionally like once in a blue moon they might ask about it, but when the time comes I hope most of my research will be deposited with a Record Office, though the majority of it hopefully will be online
I’ve written an article for a local historical society, and am slowly putting another one together. I gave a conference presentation as well in 2018. I’m trying to get my head around some new information – then I want to publish the findings, in due course.
I’ll donate copies to local county archives. I know they hold a number of genealogies already, some closed and some open
Yes! Borders Family History Society collect member trees. I am currently working on that line, but once I’m reasonably done, I will submit to them, along with DNA confirmation reports.
I collected oral histories last year and got participants’ permission to lodge them in archives. I also made sure they were saved in appropriate electronic format (can’t remember what it is right now but details widely available). I’m hoping that older ones my late uncle collected can also be archived as some are invaluable local history resources
Hopefully If we rely on wikitrees and donations to societies they will keep the technology updated
Societies often publish books to a theme or a special purpose eg Qld’s 150th commemorations. Writing stories for them ensures there’s more than one place that may have your family’s story.
I have noticed in some family history societies, that my earlier research from family reunions eg pedigree charts and family sheets have been given by family members. I will need to give more up to date research to them I think
There would be nothing better than finding information about your family history at a society Sue. It hasn’t happened to me although I found a photo at a historical museum and got a copy
Since the 1840’s many of my recent ancestors resided in NZ so the “NZSG Pedigree Registration Collection” is an opportunity for me to share my tree details. The info goes into the Kiwi Collection and it available to members if I understand it correctly.
I’m a big believer in writing up the stories in a blog, book or booklet. Links to your documents will help future researchers with the trail. I download my blog to book format using Blog2Print even though it’s currently preserved in Pandora. Belt and braces.
even if no one is interested now, they may be in the future. I wonder if the family thinks the research is my “thing” and when I’m gone they’ll be more interested. Organising seems a key need whether it’s going to family or elsewhere.
Some archives or museums may take items of interest but we need to investigate. Websites may preserve some things if they are digital. WikiTree and Family Search.
did think perhaps depositing it to the various family history societies for each county/country the family can be found in
My plan is to have it online in various places to be shared by all in the future. PDF is a good way to save my family histories and I can attach them to my website. The Internet Archive may also be a place to upload them.
Have you taken steps to organise your research, documents etc? What strategies could help to ensure our research is preserved amidst changing technologies in the future?
— SirLeprechaunRabbit®™️🍀🐰🇨🇦 ATKINSON ONS (@leprchaunrabbit) August 31, 2021
honestly, with the changing speed of technology I just don’t trust that we won’t lose data over time. I trust hard copies more and digitise as a backup. I believe books have a better chance of survival.
I definitely agree with you. Print will survive any change in technology. Paperless #Genealogy is not my goal–my goal is perpetuating #FamilyHistory for the sake of future researchers and future descendants.
I have THOUGHT about the steps I need to take to preserve my family history. Now I need to take some steps!
try using brightly coloured Post It notes stuck on drawers of filing cabinets et al. Eg scan this drawer by August/September etc. Visual flags.
I’ve scanned my photo albums, my sister has scanned her collection, waiting for my brother to scan the albums he has had for about 20 years. I will pass on my original albums once I have written about them.
I am now using FOREVER rather than dropbox Margaret.
One payment and I have forever storage of photos guaranteed to keep up with changing technology
Yes have used ppt for videos now I upgraded to Office 2019, easy to add photos and commentary for each slide
have digitalised some things but have so much it would take rather long time. But whilst prepping for blogs before being written up, this is when I sort things out a bit.
it is incredibly tedious to do but then again there may be an advantage in going over old ground. We see new things every time we look at a document again.
Have evidence scattered across hard copy files and electronic files; the latter could be better organised (note to self!) and have made a start to writing biographical narratives which are kept both in electronic form and hardcopy …
Currently digitising photos, docs and writing up family histories and checking genealogy databases and adding citations. Not a quick process but doing it one set of GG grandparents at a time. Salami tactics.
I cannot wait to get rid of my archive boxes once everything is scanned Shauna. We inherited paper and will leave things in digital format.
A tough one, as some of the answers to earlier questions indicate. I’m not quite at the point of some, writing up wikis or blogs but I do need to get better at it, even sharing my working notes around family members would be a start. As crgalvin said LOCKSS – Lots of copies, keep stuff safe
Make videos and save to youtube. More that it is another free place to save stuff. Your talks that are not held to ransom by organisers would be an option also.
do the steps have to be practical? Can’t they be in my head? “All” my records are in family folders which should help but I need to streamline them and weed out the excess. A LOT still to be done!
Today I’ve been Re-reading Devon and Andy Lee’s book on Downsizing with Family History in Mind. It really sets out a clear, practical path. Highly recommended.
yes isn’t it? I printed out the kind of timeline or checklist they suggest. I reckon the paper is the hardest stuff to get through. Furniture, china…all that is easy. I’m even finding books easy now 🙂 (shock! horror!)
The papers and the fiddly bits like badges that lurk in the corners and have a story to tell.
Lots of tips and blogposts found by Alex and other participants