Saturday, 23 February 2013

Comparing the Subscription sites...

In my previous blog posts I have mentioned the BIG SUBSCRIPTION sites quite a lot, as they're a resource I use a lot.

The chart below is a year old now but it may still be useful to those of you who're considering what subscription to get or even what site to subscribe to.

My advise would be to have a look at what records you might use for your research or records that you may find helpful.  For example if you know you had ancestors who moved to the colonies you may want a subscription to include the passenger lists and overseas records, in which case the best one may be the Ancestry Worldwide.

Please remember to leave your comments and feedback on the blog and feel free to suggest ideas for blog posts. Is there anything you would like to see here? Thanks for reading :)

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Search the censuses!

Searching the censuses is a vital tool for researching your 18th and 19th century ancestors. It aids us in following our ancestors regularly throughout their lives rather than just at births, marriages and deaths.

The censuses can tell us:
  • where our ancestors lived - the county, city, town, village, road or street and sometimes the exact house our ancestors resided in
  • their age on the census day which can later help to finding their birth records
  • their occupation - sometimes even whether they were employed or an employer
  • who they lived with - immediate and extended family, did they have servants, were they living in a house where they worked?
  • their marital status
  • the town, city or village where they were born

The first National Census was taken on the 10th March 1801 and has been repeated every ten years ever since, except in 1941 when Britain was at war.

The dates and information obtained by each census are described below:

From 1801 to 1831 the census only included the names of the heads of each household. Few of the records survive and even fewer are available to search online.
1801 - 10th March - First national census
1811 - 27th May
1821 - 28th May
1831 - 29th May

1841 - 6th June - The first useful census, as it names all individuals and not just the heads of the households. Seamen away at sea were still not enumerated.
They also now recorded:
  • Addresses
  • Genders
  • Ages rounded to the nearest five years if you were aged over fifteen years old
  • Occupation
  • Whether the person was born in the same county that they were presently residing in.

1841 census returns for The Queen at Buckingham Palace

1851 - 30th March
Seamen were now enumerated on the census night, although they were enumerated seperately from the normal house dwelling individuals.
New questions that were asked:
  • Exact place of birth
  • If any individuals had disabilites such as deafness, blindness or dumb
  • Relationship to the head of household

1851 Census returns for Charlotte Bronte

1861 - 7th April
1871 - 2nd April
1881 - 3rd April - can be searched for FREE at many websites (see below for more details).
The census questions did not change much for forty years, so the above censuses are all very similar to the 1851 census.

1891 - 5th April
In 1891:
  • Employment status was added
  • Language spoken outside England (Scotland & Wales) was added

1901 - 31st March
  • The question how many rooms are occupied in the house, if less than five.

1901 census returns for Beatrix Potter

1911 - 2nd April
In 1911:
  • Suffragettes refused to give their details
  • Nationality was added
  • The duration of a couple's marriage was recorded
  • The number of children born within that marriage along with the number of children still living and how many had died.
  • Each household page was personally signed by the head of the household.

1911 census for Winston Churchill's household

1921 - 19th June
Is not yet searchable online but is due to be released in 2022.

1931 - 26th April
Destroyed during WW2

1941 - None
No census was taken due to Britain being in the midst of WW2.
On 29th September 1939 a register for England and Wales was taken so National Identity cards could be issued. (1939 National Register)

1951 - 8th April
1961 - 23rd April
1971 - 25th April
1981 - 5th April
1991 - 21st April
2001 - 29th April
2011 - 27th March
These more recent censuses will not be available to search for quite some time yet, as these records are closed for 100 years.

How to use the censuses for FREE!
  • Censuses can be searched FREE at FreeCen
  • The 1881 census can be searched for FREE at FamilySearch and also at many of the big subscription sites (AncestryFindMyPast etc) although you may need to register with the sites.
  • Many local libraries offer FREE access to the censuses from their computers, see Join Your Local Library....

What are the differences between the websites?
  • At FindMyPast and TheGenealogist you can search the databases by address as well as name.
  • Ancestry and TheGenealogist offers a keyword search, eg searching an occupation without having to use a name, or a place without a name
  • FreeCen is free but unfortunately not all the parishes are transcribed yet.
  • Cost as well is a big difference between the subscription sites, but depending on what other things you may want to search might help you choose which site to subscribe to. The different sites all offer more than just the censuses from parish records to wills or occupational records from different places around the country or World.

Common problems when searching the censuses:
  • Spelling mistakes.
  • Transcription errors.
  • People gave mis-information to hide their age or marital statuses.
  • Your ancestors may have been hiding their identity with a different name, age or place of birth.
  • Giving maiden names instead of married names.
  • Nicknames were given, some common nicknames are: Polly for Mary Ann, Bill for William, Sandy for Alexander, Harry for Henry, Hamish or Seamus can be written as James and many more...thats an idea for a future blog post so watch this space. :)

Please remember to FOLLOW ME, if you like what you're reading and want more advise about searching your family tree. I would also love to hear from you with your feedback and comments.

For more information about the different censuses take a look at the 1911 Census website.
Some of the information is from an article Your Family Tree magazine November 2012 issue.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 9 February 2013

How are they related?

When I am talking to people about my family tree, I get so confused about how different people are related. It confuses me enough how people are related to me, never mind how someone is related to another person!

I saw this and thought it is quite useful to use when trying to work out how people are related:

From FindMyPast's Facebook page 
Two quick examples:

1) What is the relationship between my first cousin's sons and myself?
Using the instructions:
  1. Our common relative is my grandparents, but to them it would be their great-grandparents.
  2. I am my grandparents, granddaughter so on the top row I find granddaughter/son (Column 3)
  3. They are their great-grandparents, great grandsons so down the side I find great-grandson/daughter (Row 4).
  4. Move across from Row 4 and down Column 3 until they cross, this box is my relationship with my cousins sons which is FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED.

2) How is my father (a) related to MY great grandmother's brother's grandson (b)?

Using the instructions:
  1. The common relative is (a)'s great grandparents and (b)'s great grandparents.
  2. Find great-grandson on the top row (Column 4)
  3. Find great-grandson on the left side (Row 4)
  4. Move across Row 4 & Column 4 until they cross, this box is their relationship which is SECOND COUSIN. 

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Subscribe to a Family History magazine...

I have subscriptions to both Your Family Tree and the BBC Who Do You Think You Are? magazines. I have bought other ones as well in the past but these are the two I find the most helpful and interesting. Sometimes if I see another Family History magazine in the shops with something interesting to my research on the front cover I will buy it, but the above magazines are definitely my favourites, both are really good magazines and I like them for different reasons.

A few months ago, I was reading my copy of the Your Family Tree magazine and there was a really interesting letter from someone who had been struggling to research their Royal Marines ancestors in the early 1800's to 1850's. The letter and the expert advise response gripped me, as I have also hit several brick walls in researching my great, great, great, great grandfather, John Davidson, who was in the Royal Marines. (See my Davidson Page, Chapter 1 for my information about John Davidson) The letter was asking similar questions I had and the expert advise in the response was spot on and has opened up some avenues for me to look into. The only problem is to see the records I need to get myself down to The National Archives in Kew, London, which I do intend on doing one day soon!

Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich c1900
(Image link:, Author: Calsicol, 12 July 2005, accessed 15 Feb 2014)

My favourite parts of the magazines are:

  • the letters
  • the Q&A or Ask the Expert sections, where you can write in with your brick walls for expert advise - its surprising how often there is someone else out there asking the same questions as yourself
  • the readers own interesting stories about their ancestors
  • special articles, giving a minefield of tips to help your research and knowledge about general history - what was happening where in the world, what was life like for our ancestors

The most useful parts of the magazines are:
  • News - especially about new records being released online
  • County information - each month they focus on a county and if its a county of interest to me then its very valuable information
  • Book, website, TV, software etc reviews
  • The extra freebie downloads
  • All the tips your pick up from reading the magazines

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan