Passenger lists – a useful resource

A boarding pass from the Titanic Experience, Cobh, Eire

A boarding pass from the Titanic Experience, Cobh, Eire

This week’s guest blog is from Family Detective researcher, Kassie Foran:

Over the summer I visited the Titanic Experience in Cobh, near Cork, Eire. This was the final embarkation point for the ship, before its fateful journey across the Atlantic. One of the many interesting features of the museum was that they gave you a boarding card as your entrance ticket, displaying the name of a real passenger who boarded from that port.

The final installation in the museum was an area where you looked up the name printed on your ticket, and read about their fate. There was information available about each of the passengers, including their purpose of journey, and information about their travelling companions. Our tickets were for poor Dennis Lennon, a third class steerage passenger who was heading to New York, and his sister Mary. Sadly neither Dennis nor Mary survived.

Titanic Passenger List

When researching your own family history, passenger lists are a useful tool to help fill in more of your family’s story. Passenger lists provide plenty of useful information including name, age, travel dates, ports of departure and arrival. Some included hometown and nationality. Family groups travelling together were typically recorded alongside one another, and occasionally ‘missing children’ can appear if they were born and died between censuses.

For one Family Detective project we were researching the story of a husband and wife, but were unable to find their marriage, and they only appeared on one census. By widening our search to include passenger lists, we found the record of the wife travelling under her maiden name to Burma. Further research turned up a marriage record for the couple in Rangoon, and then subsequent passenger lists showed the married couple travelling together. Later travel records gave further insight into family life, as we discovered the wife and children leaving Burma during the hot summer season and returning to the UK. And later, the wife coming to the UK with the children and then returning by herself to her husband in Burma after leaving the children at boarding school.

Passenger lists can also be found on the following websites:

Find My Past

Family Search

Olive Tree Genealogy

National Archives USA

National Archives UK

And don’t forget, you could win a year’s subscription to either Ancestry or Find My Past in our free competition – for details click here.

Where there’s a will … there’s a sausage?

sausagesThis week, Heather Ilott hit the press when she was awarded an inheritance of £164,000 as the courts overturned the ‘capricious’ will of her mother, who had originally left £486,000 to animal charities.

There is an intriguing quality about wills and inheritances that makes them a very good source of drama, not only for newspapers but also novels and films. Something about the secrecy involved and the ironic triumph of the wishes of the dead over the living, makes them irresistibly newsworthy.

Here are some entertaining stories we have found from days gone by:

The will of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is available to read here: Shakespeare’s Will. He famously dished out money and goods to his children and the players at The Globe theatre, leaving his wife with his ‘second best bed.’ His actions have been seen to express the Bard’s unhappiness in his marriage.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), famous author and poet, apparently left his own birthday to a dear friend who had the misfortune of being born on Christmas Day. He willed that Annie Ide should receive all the “rights and privileges on the thirteenth day of November, formerly [my] birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the birthday of the said Annie H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise, and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats, and receipt of gifts, compliments, and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors.”

Mr Henry Budd, (1839-1862) a Gentleman of Russell Square, London, stipulated in his will that if either of his sons, Edward or William, ever sported a moustache, then their inheritances would be voided and their share would revert to the other brother. Edward was due to receive Pepper Park, Berkshire and William, Twickenham Park, Middlesex, so presumably the sons were highly motivated to stay clean-shaven!

In the will of Kenneth Gibson, born 1923 in Lincolnshire, he left his daughter, “items normally contained in [my] suitcases and my large jigsaw puzzle TOGETHER WITH the price of half a pound of pork sausages that she claimed in my presence that her late mother Ann Cox had not paid her for.”

If you interested in seeing wills or probate records of your ancestors, you can search for them here: on the GovUK website. They cost £10 each and can take up to 10 days to receive. The database covers 1858 to the present day and includes many famous people’s last wishes, including Winston Churchill, Alan Turing and AA Milne.

Birth Certificates – Making a good start

Welcome to the world, Florence!

Welcome to the world, Florence!

A few weeks ago, Kassie, one of our fantastic Researchers gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Welcome to the world, little Florence! Her name is currently the 29th most popular in the UK, by the way.

When you are a Family Historian, tasks like filling in census records (it took me ages last time!) or registering a birth, take on a whole new significance. Kassie said, “It really made me think about the questions they were asking, the information which will be recorded, and ultimately, how useful this information was to help us in our work, as we verify family relationships and make sure we’ve got the right person.”

Here are six useful facts about birth records that will help you use this valuable resource in your family history research:

  1. Civil Registration began in England and Wales on July 1st, 1837, the year in which Queen Victoria came to the throne and continues to the present day. Before that, many births were recorded in Parish Records, usually under the date of a child’s baptism.
  1. Registration districts were based on the Poor Law Unions that were formed in 1834. The district was divided into sub-districts, each with a Registrar of Births. Each quarter, superintendent registrars forwarded copies of their district’s registrations to the Registrar General in London. The registration districts hold the original birth and death records, and the General Register Office holds copies.
  1. In 1874, an act of parliament imposed a fee for late registration (43 days to 6 months). This penalty may have persuaded some parents to “adjust” their child’s birth date to avoid paying the fee. After six months the birth could not be registered.
  1. A birth certificate usually gives:
  • birth date and birthplace
  • child’s name and sex
  • father’s name and occupation
  • mother’s full name including her maiden name
  • informant’s name, relationship to the baby, and residence
  • when registered and the name of the registrar
  1. If an unmarried woman registered her baby, it was, and actually still is, illegal for her to record the father’s name on the birth certificate. Current law requires either: the father to be married to the mother; present at the time of registration; or provide the registrar with documentation to express his wish to be included on the certificate in his absence.
  1. Scottish birth certificates included the marriage date of the baby’s parents long before English records did. This can prove to be a very handy piece of information when researching your family history. The Registrars were often more brazen about declaring a child illegitimate though. We have seen the words, “base child” or even “bastard” scrawled across the whole certificate!

Do you have any interesting facts or stories to share about registering a baby? Please comment below.

7 Fascinating Facts about Wimbledon

Centre Court in 1883, Challenge Round between William and Ernest Renshaw

Centre Court in 1883 Challenge Round between William and Ernest Renshaw

  1. The first Wimbledon Championship was held in 1877. It was the world’s first official lawn tennis tournament and took place at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club.
  2. The first crowd was of about 200 people who each paid a shilling entry fee. The winner, 27-year-old Spencer Gore from Wandsworth, received 12 guineas in prize money and a silver challenge cup. Gore beat William Marshall 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
  3. The longest sponsors of Wimbledon are Slazenger who have been linked to the tennis championship for 103 years. Next comes Robinsons (now Britvic), whose famous barley water was first introduced by Eric Smedley Hodgson, to hydrate the players in the changing rooms.
  4. Every morning during the Championship, a harris hawk named Rufus circles the sky above Wimbledon to deter the local pigeons. Rufus is one of Britain’s best-known birds, with 5,000 followers on Twitter.
  5. The first non-Brit to win the Championship was Norman Brookes from Australia who beat Arthur Gore in 1907. When Andy Murray took the trophy in 2013, he was the first Briton to win in 77 years. Fred Perry had been his predecessor who won in 1934, 1935 and 1936.
  6. Women began to compete at Wimbledon in 1884. Martina Navratilova (Czech) was the winner of the most women’s singles titles. She took the trophy 9 times. The youngest ever winner of the ladies’ singles was Lottie Dod who was 15 years and 285 days old. In 2007 the prize money for men and women was made equal with Roger Federer and Venus Williams both winning £700,000.
  7. Wimbledon’s signature snack of strawberries was not introduced until 1953 and the addition of cream didn’t come until 1970. This year, fans will enjoy over 23 tonnes of fresh strawberries and 7000 litres of cream!