Friday, March 27, 2009

Place List report - Rootsmagic

In order to investigate the LMA release properly, I need a handy list of exactly who/what/when in my family tree was ever in the greater London area. Rootsmagic has a quite nice Place List report that does this - it reverses the elements of the place name in entries so they sort by county first, then parish, and shows you each individual event that occurred in that place. You have a choice of ALL places or a single selected place (which means the smallest level of detail like individual house address), and unfortunately you can't filter by part of the place - like, say *london* or *middlesex* which would be handy in this instance to get a nice concise report! I've exported the report to a text file so I can cut out the bit I want for handy printing.

The PAF equivalent to this report doesn't have any options for you to play with - it sorts the places in a similar way, but sorts the events in each place by surname rather than date (Rootsmagic sorts by date). Neither program gives you an option to select if you'd like them sorted by date or name. My dream genealogy program would.....

For that matter, it would also be handy if reports in genealogy programs showed both the maiden and married surnames of the females where the date of the event falls after the marriage.

As an aside, my entries from Wing cover 19 pages.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

LMA at Ancestry - updates from my evening's journey

As with most databases, the indexing has the usual flaws. If anyone is looking for the burial of a James CRUTCH in 1855, he's currently going by "Ignes". I wouldn't have thought it was that hard to see James Crutch on one line, John Smith (ha!) on the next, and not confuse the various loops and flourishes - the top of the J in John can't simultaneously be the bottom of a g in the above line, particularly if you end up with something like "Ignes" as a result!

[as a complete aside, googling Ignes led me here - if anyone would like to show their gratitude for the Wing One Place Study by sending me an Midi Sophia I would not object]

The majority of my London ancestors have surnames like, say, HUGHES or WHITE or HALL. And London is not a small place, as you know.......the only upside is that these surnames are more likely to have been transcribed correctly! The births and deaths in this release are those recorded in the workhouses for each union included (and the years covered varies - use the browse feature in each collection to work out exactly what's in there) and searching for very common surnames like these won't (yet) produce an overwhelming number of results.

Note that the births and deaths databases don't include all the poor law unions that I flagged in my earlier post - I had picked these up from the generic "poor law unions" database but it didn't follow that every union mentioned there was included in the other two databases - for example Padddington doesn't appear in these two databases but it is in the generic "poor law union" database. And on that topic....

The various individual sets of records in the "poor law union" database are NOT indexed by name. While it's fascinating to browse, this decision seems a little odd - unless Ancestry are busily working away on the index behind the scenes and thought we might like to see the digitised images in the meantime. The quality of the digitised images seems pretty good through - all the original pages I viewed were nice and clear with good contrast.

I'm being very long-winded tonight, but another opinion that I was reminded of again while looking at these databases - "London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1834-1938" sounds descriptive but in fact is massively misleading. It's a very selective subset of that generic description that is actually contained in that database, and I shouldn't have to browse all the way down to the database then expand the description of the database, and then browse further into the records of the database itself to figure that out, and verify the exact scope and nature of what's really in there. And if, a year from now, I'm puttering around on Ancestry trying to find the database from the LMA that had workhouse deaths, I'm not going to necessarily spot this in a long list of databases and and know that it's probably the right one. There appears to be no way to identify the "partnering" archives organisation, or search by the partnering organisation to identify "their" databases. As the partnering approach is becoming more common these days, that seems pretty unhelpful.

So, a challenge - are there any genealogical sites out there that have done an excellent job of their "card catalogue" so that the time spent to identify relevant databases/collections is minimised? Ancestry has improved recently with its new filtering options in their card catalogue, but the information in the results screen once the filtering kicks in seems more about showing off how many records they have rather than helping me identify if those records are actually of use. I've already paid for a subscription, I don't need the very generic marketing pitch - the more specific you are, the easier it is for me to find relevant information and see the value of remaining a subscriber.

London Metropolitan Archives records at Ancestry

Hurrah - the first sets of records from the joint project between London Metropolitan Archives and Ancestry are now available, so I'm off to explore! As well as your "generic" London-based ancestors (I know you probably all have some of those), many Wing people gravitated to greater London towards the turn of the century so I'm hoping we'll all find something of interest in these records.

This release is taken from the Poor Law Records for the boroughs of Camden (poor law unions of Hampstead, Holborn, St Pancras), Islington (Islington), Lambeth (Lambeth), Southwark (Southwark), Tower Hamlets (Poplar, Stepney), Wandsworth (Wandsworth) and Westminster (Paddington, Marylebone and Westminster). The release includes miscellaneous poor law records as well as births, baptisms, deaths and burials found in those records. The years included varies in each of the three databases but is approximately from 1840 to 1906 or beyond.

Note that 23 out of the 35 poor law unions in London aren't represented at all in this release. According to Rossbret Institutions Website the following poor law unions are also found in London: City of London, Battersea, Bermondsey, Bethnal Green, Camberwell, Chelsea, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Fulham, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith, Kensington, Lewisham, Mile End, St George in the East, St Olave, St Saviour's, Shoreditch, Strand, Whitechapel, Woolwich, St George.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Left holding the baby?

Mick and Norma kindly posted a newspaper entry from 1717 on the Eng-Buckinghamshire Rootsweb mailing list today. It seems that Jane, the wife of Christopher BURROWS, had done a runner and (as was the custom, assuming you could afford it, of course) a newspaper advertisement was taken out to advise everyone that Christopher was not going to be held financially responsible for whatever his wife got up to.

According to the ad, Jane left on 10 December 1717. On 10 October 1718 William, son of Christopher Burrows, was baptised. There's no sign of Christopher in the Wing parish registers apart from this entry.

Sadly for my curiosity, the name of the man Jane eloped with was not included in the ad, so everyone involved is a bit of a mystery.

Monday, March 16, 2009

RootsMagic v4 (beta) - another thought

Playing around with the websearch know what would be really smart? Having the Google search string automatically look for females under their married name(s) as well as just their maiden name. The search string uses several "or" variations on the name to increase the chances of getting a hit, but it doesn't include the married name.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cottesloe Beach

Yes, you read that right.....

There is a beach named Cottesloe Beach on the western coast of Australia near Perth. For the last few years, a sculpture exhibit has been staged on the beach in March. Coincidentally, my parents have just got back from a holiday in Perth and visited Cottesloe as this year's exhibit got underway, so here's two of their shots hot off the camera:

The Cottesloe district in Perth is named after Thomas Francis Fremantle who became the first Baron Cottesloe in 1874. He was indeed from Buckinghamshire, and was the big cheese in Swanbourne, 6 miles west of Wing and also within the old Cottesloe hundred.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cyndi's List

My Wing website is now incorporated into the Buckinghamshire listings at Cyndi's List. I submitted the link on 13 March 2007 so it took two years, better than the four years that was being bandied around as the length of time it was taking to move up from the temporary new links page to the main listings.

Friday, March 06, 2009

RootsMagic and Family Historian

I currently use the free PAF software from When I started out on this journey I wasn't quite sure exactly what I would want in genealogy software and I can be rather picky when it comes to software, so initially a freebie product was the smart choice.

I've never actually gotten around to moving on though! I've done the rounds of evaluating the various products out there a few times, the last time over a year ago when we moved to Vista Ultimate 64-bit, on which several products refused to install or run even when their vendors claimed they could! I came to the conclusion that I fancied Family Historian, a solid British-oriented program - but couldn't quite justify the price.

RootsMagic is currently offering their upcoming version 4 as a public beta operational to the end of this month, so I decided to take a look. It converted my PAF file without having to first export it to a GEDCOM, and seems to have a clean and efficient use of space in its user interface.

When viewing an individual there's a tab to run a websearch on that individual, with the search string optimised to increase your chances of getting a relevant hit - I will be looking at this a bit more to see exactly how optimised. I sent it looking for one of my COLES ancestors in Google, and hey presto it came back with a Methodist circuit baptism for his son, who shared the same name. Score! Then I sent it off to search Rootsweb and it came back with an Abney Park Cemetery burial entry for both father and son - I had known the son was buried there but not the father, my direct ancestor. Score! (Incidentally if anyone reading this is in London and fancies a trip to Abney Park see if they can find the memorials I'd love to hear from you) I was impressed at how quick and easy this feature was - slightly less impressed at the fact it seems to use the IE interface for the websearch, even though my computer is set to use Firefox as its default browser, but that's a minor quibble.

I was also pleased to see that the individual summary report doesn't abbreviate entries. PAF does this in order to fit any given field's contents into the space allowed in the report, leading to oddities like "Church St, W, B" printing as a residence instead of spelling out Wing Buckinghamshire in full - which, frankly, is pretty important information I want on my printouts! No problems with RootsMagic though, it will print the entire entry by scrolling onto a second line if it has to. On the negative side, the report starts a new page before beginning the source citations - why not have the option to run it directly after the main text of the report so you can save paper?

I do prefer a British-written program though, and here's an example why. RootsMagic has a gazetteer in it, which when you search for Wing will bring up both the Buckinghamshire and Rutland villages with that name - a good start. However, highlighting the Buckinghamshire entry and clicking Online Map sends you off to the LiveSearch Maps website which shows you the Rutland one, not the Bucks one. I had a similar false result when clicking on Great Tew, Oxfordshire (Great Tey Road in Colchester, Essex!). A UK-written program would be designed to integrate with UK resources and to pass instructions to those resources in a way that made sense for UK conditions. If software isn't optimised for UK genealogy I can guarantee there's going to be "features" which are either unusable or will annoy me every time I use the program, and I'm not prepared to pay for that.

I'll be downloading the demo of the next version of Family Historian once it comes out (also imminently) as a comparison.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mapping Our Anzacs

The National Archives of Australia has been busy plotting their ANZAC military records on a world map by birthplace. I do love websites that don't insist on a surname and will let you just search by place, and drilling down on a map is a really fun way to do it! Sadly there's no-one born in Wing listed, but there are men from Stewkley, Wingrave, Linslade, Leighton Buzzard and Cheddington all serving in the Australian forces.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I spent some time this evening cross-checking two of my WHITE ancestors (from Dorset and London) from hard-copy paperwork to PAF file.

I do think I like the idea of filing paperwork that affects the whole family behind the family group report - this means less paper for a start as you don't duplicate census pages and the like. I am however updating each year's census event in each individual's PAF entry so that it has ALL the details from the census in the Comments field. In the past I hadn't recorded things like relationship to head of household but obviously this will make finding the census printout a bit quicker going forward as I will be able to guess which family group (eg as child, as parent, or as something else!) the page is filed behind.

Having reached Edmund Worledge WHITE (born 1845 in Corfe Castle, Dorset), I'm also taking the time to fill in some gaps, like the odd missing census entry I don't seem to have. I'm forcing myself to use Ancestry's new search engine to try and find them, rather than reverting back to the trusty old search engine. This is proving......challenging. Blogging about what you're doing rather than actually finishing trying to do it is never a good sign!

Monday, March 02, 2009

2 March In (My) History

Alfred and Medora BAKER's 13th child Hilda Florence was born in Wing on this day in 1892.

Also in Buckinghamshire, my 6xgreat-grandfather Joseph SIBLEY was baptised in Little Missenden on this day in 1742. St John The Baptist Church has surviving medieval wall paintings - we visited back in 2005:

And further afield in Ropley Hampshire, my 4xgreat-grandmother Elizabeth BUSS was also baptised on 2 March, this time in 1800.

Ancestral Atlas

Ancestral Atlas is a new genealogical website that lets you map your ancestral events. It's currently in beta and registering gets you free access - naturally there will be subscriber features down the line as well.

I've just been tinkering to see how it works - you'll never guess where I have pinned my test events! - and it seems interesting. They're evidently still working out the glitches, for example once I had pinned one event it wouldn't let me use the same pin for the second event for that person, even when I tried in another browser. As you might expect, once a location has been pinned those pins obscure the name of the location unless you are zoomed in - wish some smart cookie would figure out a solution to that too!

You can also pin the locations of archives, libraries, genealogical societies and the like, so down the line it would be a good way to plan a trip to the area you are interested in.

Ancestral Atlas

UPDATED on 5th March - it's letting me use existing pins now, hurrah!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

March update

New this month:

* Some baptism, marriage and burial strays of Wing people from the Mentmore parish registers have been added to the website. These were taken from the transcriptions of the Mentmore parish registers published by the Bucks Parish Register Society in 1909 and available at Internet Archive
* Wing people in the 1850 Slaters directory has been added

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