Posts tagged ‘The National Archives (UK)’

British Army Service Records

I was searching today through the “Chelsea Pensioners” records on the website FindMyPast.co.uk These are the records of men pensioned out of the British Army, and the records will cover 1760-1913. (Corresponding to The National Archives documents in WO97).

Those of us familiar with searching Australian WW1 service records have been spoilt by free and easy access to digitised records, not only information about where and when our military ancestors served, but including physical description, next-of-kin, previous occupations, date and place of birth and more. Such digitised Australian records can be found by searching the National Archives of Australia website.

Gradually now more digitised British service records are becoming available for those of us unable to visit the reading rooms in London. Amongst these, the subscription site FindMyPast (UK) has a number of military collections including the Royal Marine Medal Roll 1914-1920, Military Births, Marriages and Deaths – and now these British Army “Chelsea Pensioner Records”. The subscription site Ancestry.co.uk has WW1 service records and pension records. The National Archives (UK) website itself has an online database of Trafalgar Ancestors as well as Campaign Medals issued to WW1 merchant seamen on DocumentsOnline.

Many more military service records are available that are not yet online, but the above are some of the sources I’ve found useful. If we take the trouble to look, such digitised records make it much easier to find information about our military ancestors, even for those of us who live a long way from London.

1814 Service Record, "52nd Regiment, Light Infantry"

1814 Light Infantry Regiment, Service Record

4 October, 2010 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Debtors Prison

According to the Research Guide “Bankrupts and Insolvent Debtors:1710-1869″ on the website of The National Archives (UK):

Until 1841, the legal status of being a bankrupt was confined to traders owing more than 100 pounds (reduced to 50 pounds in 1842). Debtors who were not traders did not qualify to become bankrupt, but stayed as insolvent debtors. Responsible for their debts but unable to pay them, they remained subject to common law proceedings and indefinite imprisonment, if their creditors so wished. … Insolvent debtors were held in local prisons, and often spent the rest of their lives there: imprisonment for debt did not stop until 1869.

Another ancestor of mine, Abraham WOOLF was imprisoned in the Debtors Prison, as this entry from the London Gazette of 1841 shows:

London Gazette 12 March 1841

London Gazette, 12 March 1841, p692

Shortly afterwards he came to trial, and fortunately his petition for release was granted. The following entry in the London Gazette gives more background about him – that he was currently a “General Dealer and Cigar Maker” and formerly a “Cigar Dealer and Ladies’ Shoe Maker”, as well as recent addresses:

London Gazette 30 April 1841

London Gazette, 30 April 1841, p1135

In the documents at the National Archives in Kew, London, I could follow the progress of his imprisonment, petitions and release, however even the information available online on websites like The National Archives (UK) and The London Gazette tell me more about the life of this ancestor.

29 September, 2010 at 10:40 am 1 comment

Convicts & Prison Hulks

I made another discovery today, again in Ancestry.com This time I was searching the recent addition to Ancestry’s convict records, the “UK Prison Hulk Registers & Letter Books, 1802-1849″. I found my 4g.grandfather!

Convicted of bigamy, in fact Thomas MILLS married 3 times. He married first to Sarah CUTTRISS / CUTTRESS in 1805 in Ely, then (as Thomas MILLER) he married Rhoda WINNELL in 1813. Finally (as Thomas Ward MILLS) in 1825 he married Ann POCKNELL, before he was taken to Newgate Prison in 1827. (At his trial, when asked about his 3rd marriage he said that – having deserted his 2nd wife – years later when he wrote to her and she didn’t write back, he assumed she was dead and so felt free to marry again.)

There’s a wonderful record of his various trials in the Old Bailey Online records in 1827 (real “he said, she said” comments). Thomas was finally found guilty and sentenced to be transported for seven years. However he never arrived in Australia – three years later he petitioned for pardon and that pardon was granted.

In the collection of UK Prison Hulk Registers on Ancestry.com, it was exciting to actually see the record of him in the hulk York, which was moored in Portsmouth Harbour. According to this document, he served 3 years 11 months and 18 days of his sentence before he was pardoned. The UK Prison Hulk Registers are digitised copies of documents held by The National Archives (UK) in PCOM 4 & HO 9.

This was another reminder about new digitised collections making it easier to access copies of original documents.

Incidentally, Thomas’ son (Robert MILLS – aka Robert CUTTRESS) was convicted of “poaching with a gun” and was transported to Tasmania. Digitised copies of many Tasmanian convict records can be found online at http://www.archives.tas.gov.au.

York prison hulk

Thomas Ward MILLS, prisoner on the York hulk

27 September, 2010 at 7:09 pm 1 comment

Alien Arrival document

I was preparing to teach a class about Ancestry.com & this prompted me to look at some collections added recently. I was most excited to find the arrival into England of my 3g.grandfather, Samuel SHUTER, from what is now Poland.  I have probably looked for that record, on and off, for about 15 years, but had eventually decided that I was unlikely to find a shipping record from continental Europe to England.

Anyway, I found him – amongst the UK Aliens Entry Books, 1794-1926. The first document was his Certificate of Arrival, 14 Feb 1846, from HO2, certificate 95. The second document was his subsequent arrival on 25 Sep 1854. (HO3 piece 75) This latter was in a book of correspondence, and now I will try to determine if I can obtain a copy of the correspondence referred to in this index.

Anyway, it’s a reminder to me of the new collections being added to sites like Ancestry, and the value of trying to keep checking new collections added.

Samuel Shuter arrival in London

Arrival Certificate, 14 February 1846

27 September, 2010 at 5:05 pm 1 comment


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