Archive for November, 2009
With the launch of the complete 1851 census today, we are proud to be the only website to offer the complete census picture for our customers. Only the 1841-1911 censuses are available and we have them all here.
Browse the complete census records 1841-1911
Our expert Stephen Rigden answers your questions:
‘I have a brickwall that I would love an expert to look into to see if I can break it down. I have a baptism that I cannot find.
My 4 x great grandmother was a Leah (or Learth) Knights who, according to the 1851 census, was born in Billingford, Norfolk in around 1767. Of course I have searched all the surrounding parishes, both in Norfolk and Suffolk, along with the other Billingford in Norfolk, but have not found any entries that could be hers.
Leah married Michael Pake in Rushall in 1799 and they had several children. Leah would appear to have been quite old when she married - for those days - and she died in 1853, so I do not have any further census entries to check her place of birth. She does not appear in any settlement or other Poor Law documents, and I do not have any information about her parents. She was a spinster when she married Michael, so Knights is her maiden name and not a previous married name.
Can you please offer me any advice on how I might be able to track down her baptism?’ Jenny Manning
Steve says: “It is not possible for me to solve this without undertaking research, of course, but a few ideas occur to me.
Firstly, I assume that the parish registers you have been searching through are those of the Church of England. It is possible that the family was not part of the Established Church and the child was baptised in the nearest local Catholic church (or privately) or Non-Conformist chapel. Also, of course, it is possible that the family was not religious and simply did not bother with baptism: even though there were advantages to baptism, it is a mistake to assume that all children were baptised, or that parents baptised all of their children. It is also possible that the child was baptised not at the customary time (at about four weeks after birth) but at some later date: it is not uncommon to see parents baptising two, three or four of their children at the same time (for reasons of convenience or economy). You could therefore consider extending your search throughout Leah’s childhood years.
Census information is, by its very nature, very vulnerable to inaccuracy, as no evidence of identity was required by the authorities: they accepted in good faith whatever details the householders entered into their census forms. It is quite possible that Leah believed she was born in Billingford but was actually born elsewhere, for instance if her family moved there in her childhood. In other words, all Leah’s memories may have been of Billingford but she could have been born somewhere else entirely.
Another possibility is that she was indeed born in Billingford but not as Knights. Parental deprivation figures were high in the C18th and it is possible that her father died, her mother re-married and Leah took the name of her step-father (a Mr Knights, in this scenario). A variation on this scenario is an illegitimate birth, with the single mother then going on to marry Mr Knights. Or that Leah was born under a different surname but effectively fostered by a local family named Knights.
As you can see, there are various alternatives to consider, and you may have to consider all of them if you are to overcome this brickwall. I have answered your question in some detail as many researchers will face these kinds of problem and will need to systematically consider the manifold possibilities if they are to achieve a breakthrough.”
We hope this is useful to your research. If you would like to pose a question for Steve, please register or opt to receive newsletters in My Account.
Our expert Stephen Rigden answers your questions:
‘My great uncle Tommy Venables was a private in the Cheshire regiment in the First World War. It was stated that he was ‘killed at home’ in November 1916, but no explanation is given, although we believe he drowned. Where can we go to clarify what happened?’ Irene Hartless
Steve says: “Soldiers Died in the Great War shows that Private Thomas Venables died at “Home”. Where the theatre of war is given as “Home”, this usually means that the soldier died either while serving within the UK (for example, in a reserve battalion or in a home service garrison), or else died back in UK of wounds sustained overseas without having been discharged from the army.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website shows that he was buried in Toxteth Park Cemetery. If you have not already visited the memorial there, it is worth doing so in case a headstone gives more detail: however, it has to be said that this is unlikely unless the family met the cost (CWGC headstones are purposely standardised in design). The simplest way to find out the cause of death for a “Home” theatre of war casualty is to purchase a copy of the death certificate using the usual General Register Office (GRO) civil death indexes. Private Venables’ death appears to have been registered in the West Derby district in the March quarter of 1917. This delay (when registration would have been expected in the December quarter of 1916) may indicate that there was an inquest, which would be consistent with accidental death, such as drowning, which would require a coroner’s report. You can buy a copy of the death certificate for £7 online from the GRO’s website http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates or, if you live in Merseyside, you could visit in person the register office, which is located in Liverpool’s Cotton Exchange. The certificate may point you to a coroner’s report (if there was one: try Merseyside Record Office) and that, together with local newspapers, may fill in the background.”
We hope you find this useful to your research. Invitations to Ask the Expert appear in our newsletter, register to take part or select to receive newsletters in My Account.
After many hours of complex transciptions and hair-tearing by our developers we are thrilled to announce that the 1851 census is now fully complete.
The final counties which have been added are:
• Isle of Man
• Ships at Sea
• Royal Navy at Sea
• British Ships in Port
These newly-transcribed records give you the chance to search for those ancestors you can’t find on other versions of the census.
Best of luck with your research,
The findmypast.com team
As you’ve probably seen, the website’s been given a mini overhaul. We hope you find it pleasing on the eye and that it allows you to find what you’re looking for quicker.
The enhancements include:
We very much hope you like the new design, feel free to leave a comment.
Thanks for all the positive feedback so far. Carol Chapman mailed to say “I love the new web page! Much more appealing, and modern looking”.
Geoff Lowe says, “I like the new layout of the web-site, much cleaner looking and easy to navigate. Keep up the good work.”
Good to know you like it!
Just to let you know we’ve had a message from our fabulous customer support team. If you’ve been having difficulties getting through this could be why -
“We are experiencing a much higher than usual number of queries at the moment which has unfortunately resulted in a backlog. We are endeavouring to clear this as soon as possible and do thank you for your patience at this time.
Please be rest assured, all queries will be responded to as quickly as we possibly can. Perhaps you can find the answer to your question in our help & advice section.”
The team should be up to speed soon so thanks so much for your patience.
We’ve added 13 complete counties the England and Wales 1851 census, which brings us tantalisingly close to completion.
You can now search for your ancestors in the below counties, which are all newly transcribed from a fresh set of images:
What were your ancestors up to in 1851? Find out now.
This morning we added 43,000 parish records for Montgomeryshire in Wales, which include baptisms, marriages and burials. They date from as early as 1615.
Combined with our existing records for Montgomeryshire and Wales, these new additions give you more chance than ever of tracing your Welsh ancestors from the early nineteenth century and beyond.
We’ve just added 276,000 new parish records for Wakefield in Yorkshire. These include baptisms, marriages and burials, and date back to the 1600s.
If you have gaps in your Wakefield ancestry or have been unable to get back beyond the 1837 cut-off for births, marriages and deaths, you may just find what you’re looking for in the new records.