Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Handy Hints - historical directories

Surviving historical directories generally start from around the 1840s (they're pretty scarce before that point) and stretch on into the 1900s. In the earlier days they obviously weren't needed for either phone number or address purposes, except in the larger towns - in the villages everyone knew where everyone lived! For genealogists today they are a great resource for understanding a village.

From them you'll be able to establish the relative size of the town or village you are interested in, churches and other key places within the village, local transportation, notable events (eg the town being destroyed by fire or ravaged by smallpox) and key residents. Note that not everyone will be included, generally just notable families and tradesmen, and some places are too small to warrant their own entry.

I've transcribed the entries for Wing for all the directories I've been able to get my hands on (further contributions always welcome). If you are looking for someone in particular, there's also a cross-referenced index of names found in those directories, otherwise just browse by year from the home page to get a feel for Wing at any given time.

A fabulous website is www.historicaldirectories.org, where a collection of English and Welsh directories have been scanned and made freely available for viewing (you can also save individual pages to PDF) by the University of Leicester. The original commitment was to have these on the web until October 2007 - there's no word yet as to whether this will be extended, so now would be a good time to research the villages found in your family tree. I've just made some interesting new discoveries, like my cabinet-maker great-great-grandfather also being listed as an auctioneer in Blandford Dorset in 1842.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Oh so quiet

Between the Northern Hemisphere enjoying their summer holidays and the Southern Hemisphere hibernating, it seems a bit quiet on the genealogical front at the moment. My email inbox has all but dried up this month (apart from the spam of course). I've been working away on getting some more Wing burials transcribed, and it does look hopeful that they might be ready in time for the September website update - just as well, as I haven't prepared anything else this time around!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Handy Hints - IGI

Genealogist newbies might appreciate the odd handy hint and useful tidbit of information about sources and "best practice". Comparing the Wing data in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) with the actual data from parish registers proved quite illuminating, so here are some things you might like to know.

By way of background, entries in the IGI all have a batch number. Those that are noted as being "extracted batches" have been indexed by the LDS church from the parish records of the place in question. Conventional wisdom says these extracted entries are fairly reliable, while other entries which have been submitted by individuals can be fairly unreliable.

I have compared the baptism entries from the IGI batch C014632 for Wing with the bishop's transcripts for Wing for the years 1813 to 1816 inclusive. Here are some conclusions -

* If an entry is in the IGI, the details you can see for that entry are more than likely correct (ie no errors have probably been made in either the names or dates)

* However this does not mean that all the information in that original entry is included on the IGI. For example, at this time the parish registers will also tell you the abode - limited to village/hamlet - of the family (eg Thomas and Susannah BRASINGTON were living in Crafton when they baptised Sarah Bailey Brasington in 1813), the occupation of the father (eg John FOSTER is listed as a blacksmith when daughter Mary was baptised in 1814), and the name of the minister who performed the baptism. You may also get other non-standard pieces of information, like the fact two children baptised on the same day with the same parents were definitely twins!

* There may be further entries in the parish registers that have been missed out altogether in the extracted batches for the IGI. In the four years from 1813 to 1816, 37 of the 135 baptisms are missing - that's a whopping 27% of the entries you might have been looking for! So if you are connected to the Adams, Bailey, Bandy, Bolton, Bone, Brasington, Capp, Cheshire, Denchfield, Dimmock, Dollimer, Foster, Haggis, Hedges, Holyman, Jennings, Loe, Luck, Mead, Page, Pollard, Robbins, Rose, Simmons, Smelt, Staples, Steel, Woodman, Woolhead or Woster families, and have tried to construct your family tree over this period solely using the IGI, you definitely have some people missing (and perhaps even twins).

While the IGI is a great (and free!) resource, it should not be used in isolation to research or support your genealogy. It's an index only - and as we have seen, it is not necessarily a complete one. Your aim should always be to use original sources where possible.

The IGI can be accessed on the LDS website here:

Extracted batch numbers for Wing are:
P014631 - baptisms 1546-1812 (and a few burials)
C014632 - baptisms 1813-1870
C014633 - baptisms 1870-1881
M014631 - marriages 1546-1812
M014632 - marriages 1813-1881

Sunday, August 12, 2007

New computer

We have a new computer, complete with Vista and the latest version of Outlook. Email might therefore be a bit dodgy for the next few days while I get everything set up, so if you don't hear from me immediately, please be patient, I may be experiencing technical difficulties!

As always, you'll have a lesser chance of getting trapped by my spam filters if you have a relevant subject line, like "POLLARD in Wing".

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cow Leech

In times past, a man described as a doctor would be quite different from what we now think of as a doctor, as the practice of medicine and the required skills and training have progressed immensely in recent times. Similarly, way back when our ancestors were around, there weren't really veterinarians as we know them today. But there were certainly cows, and things did go wrong with them. That would be when you called upon the cow leech (or cow leach) - those that practised the "cow lore", using herbal medicines and practices that no doubt hurt as often as they healed. Apparently cow leeches were not particularly highly regarded, the "quacks" of cow medicine you might say.

My Jeremiah POLLARD who came to Wing c.1725 was noted as a cow leach in his marriage entry in Aylesbury, hence the interest. I'm also connected to the IMPEYs of Bierton, one of whom is one of the three cow leeches listed in the Posse Comitatus of 1798.

Anyone know anything more about what a cow leech did?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The "Negro from Egypt"

Oh no! Yesterday evening I was all set, ready for two hours of transcribing burials for the 1846 to 1873 period, but alas! While I had ordered the right film number, and the box had the right film number on it, the actual film inside wasn't the right one.........

So while that gets sorted out, I'm looking at some of the bishops transcripts instead. Found an interesting entry I wasn't expecting in 1815 - the baptism of a "Negro from Egypt" who was a servant of the vicar's. My tired eyes were having trouble making out the name on the BTs but according to the IGI transcripts he (she?) is Abderazak Ibrim.

The slave trade had been banned in England in March 1807. Had this servant come in to England as a slave originally, or were they a recent arrival who had always enjoyed a standard employment arrangement? That's one topic I wasn't expecting to have to research in connection with Wing!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

August update

New to the website this month is a summary of the brickmaking industry in Wing. It seems that most of the brickmakers themselves were "imports" from elsewhere, but a few were local and the brickmaking process and business makes for an interesting read.

Also (mostly) new this month are jury lists. There always were a couple of jury lists included on the Crime page, but I now have lists for more than a dozen new years in the late 1700s so they've been given their own separate page.

You'll also find a few more marriage strays that fellow researchers have submitted - keep them coming!

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