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52 Ancestors: Week 27 – Free

I am taking part in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge for 2021. The challenge is organised by Amy Johnson Crow who provides a weekly writing prompt. I am way behind with my writing but I am working on catching up.

Genealogy can be an expensive hobby. Subscriptions to the websites can add up, England and Welsh Birth, Marriage and Death certificates are £7 or £11 each and then there are travel costs to archive offices and graveyards. So, I decided to see how much I could do using free resources.

I have done very little research into my husband’s family history, and I lost the file at some point when I changed computers. ** Remember to back up **

Here was my starting point. I’ve blanked out details of living people.

I decided to begin with Tony’s parents marriage. He knew it was a short while before he was born, and thought it might have been in Berkamstead. I used FreeBMD, https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ and just entered Tony’s father’s name, and searched from 10 years before Tony was born, to the year he was born. That confirmed they did indeed marry about 18 months before Tony was born, and in Berkamsted. This also gave me Tony’s father’s middle initial. [1] I couldn’t think of anywhere free to get further information about their marriage.

Next I decided to check when they were both born, as Tony wasn’t sure of their years of birth. He does know their birthdays. Fortunately Tony has an unusual surname, so there were relatively few results, and it was clear which person was Tony’s father. He was born in Berkamptsted, in 1924, and his mother’s maiden name was Coxhead.[2]

Tony’s mother has an less unusual name, but there was only one person with the relevant name born in Berkampstead within a 20 year period. Her mother’s maiden name was Jaikens which was familiar to Tony when I mentioned it.[3]

Next I used freeBMD to investigate Tony’s paternal grandfather’s name. I initially looked for a death for anyone of the surname Willmore, anytime in 1973 or 1974 anywhere in England and Wales. But there was none in Berkamsted so I was not sure which of the males could be Tony’s grandfather. So, next I looked for a marriage between Mary Coxhead and Willmore in the 10 years prior to Tony’s father birth in 1924.

I found a marriage between Mary A. M. Coxhead and Albert Willmore in the 3rd quarter of 1919 in Berkampstead.[4] But there was no death for Albert Willmore in 1973 or 1974, I widened the search to the entire 1970s decade, but the only Albert Willmore who died in that period was younger than Tony’s father.[5] I spoke again to Tony, and he suggested searching earlier. There were two Albert Willmore’s who died in the 1960s, and it was clear which of the two was Tony’s grandfather. The one who died in 1968, in Hemel Hempstead aged 73 fitted the bill.[6]

Next I looked for Tony’s maternal grandmother’s death. He was fairly confident that she died in 1978. I entered the details into freeBMD and there were two Mary Willmore’s who’s deaths were registered between the beginning of 1978 and the end of 1979. However, using the initials from the marriage record it was easy to identify the correct person. Mary Ann M. Willmore’s death was registered in the first quarter of 1979, in Dacorum, Hertfordshire. At that time her date of birth is also recorded in the index, 19 November 1897.[7]

At this point Tony was able to tell me the exact date that his maternal grandfather died, as well as the date of his paternal grandmother’s funeral. He also reminded me that his father had a brother. This information made it much easier to find the correct death of a Charles Webb. Finding this on FreeBMD gave me his middle name and date of birth.[8]

Next I looked up Tony’s maternal grandmother who Tony remembered died in about 1985 There was only one in St Albans, and she was about the right age. By 1985 FreeBMD does not give the quarter of registration, only a year, but this did give me her middle name and date of birth.[9] It was a quick job to look up a marriage between Hilda Jaikens and Charles Webb, they married in the final quarter of 1925.[10] The other entry on the page is a Kate Webb marrying John T. Barringer. I wonder if there was a connection?

Progress after one hour using FreeBMD

Next I decided to look up Tony’s grandparents’ births. I decided, as I had exact dates for 3 of them, and a rough date for the oldest of the four, to use the GRO website, https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp as that would give me mother’s maiden names which don’t appear on FreeBMD for births before 1911.

My first search was for Albert Willmore, born one year either side of 1895. There was only one, and he was born in Berkampstead in the March Quarter of 1894, his mother’s maiden name was Waterton.[11]

I repeated the exercise for Mary Coxhead, and found although her death registration gave her date of birth as 19 Nov 1897, her birth was registered in the first quarter of 1898.[12] Charles Webb is of course a much more common name, but there was only one Charles Arthur Webb, and he was born in St Neots, where Tony’s maternal grandparents married.[13] Jaikens is also unusual enough that it was easy work out which was Tony’s grandmother.[13]

Additional information using the GRO indexes.

I have managed to fill in quite a lot of information using only free websites. I could search for wills on the Government probate website, or use https://www.familysearch.org/en/ which is entirely free. However, I’m itching to find Tony’s grandparents on the 1939 register and 1911 census which will hopefully fill in the names of those great grandparents. A very quick search on Ancestry (signed out so I didn’t break my “free” rule) showed me photos of Tony’s paternal grandparents. I have signed in so that I can send a private message to the person sharing them. All in all, a fulfilling afternoon, and cheaper than usual!


Other stories about this family.

What have I learned in May?

Pharos Intermediate Certificate I completed another Pharos Course towards my Certificate: 17th Century Sources, the final assignment is written, and due in next week. I was awarded 87%, a distinction, for my work on the course: Before the Modern Census – Name-rich Sources from 1690 to 1837 which keeps me on track for a distinction. […]

What have I learned in April?

Where on earth did April go? I spent the first week ws leading a Ffestiniog Travel tour to Mallorca, which despite Easyjet’s best efforts to throw a spanner in the works, went very well. As I was on the train to Gatwick an email popped up, EasyJet had cancelled the following mornings direct flight to […]

What have I learned in March?

I am settling in at the Society of Genealogists. The Stage 2 Evening Skills course I have arranged begins next month, and soon to be advertised are Stage 3, a course about researching ancestors in the seventeenth century and one on London geography and repositories. I have gained another distinction in the Pharos Course Building […]

[1] Marriages Index (CR) England & Wales. RD Berkamsted, [Hertfordshire]. 1st Q., 1957. WILLMORE & WEBB. Vol 4b. p. 31. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[2] Births Index (CR) England & Wales. RD Berkampsted, [Hertfordshire]. 3rd Q., 1924. WILLMORE, Peter F. Vol 3a. p. 1439. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[3] Births Index (CR) England & Wales. RD Berkampsted, [Hertfordshire]. 2nd Q., 1928. WEBB, June M. Vol 3a. p. 1438. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[4] Marriages Index (CR) England & Wales. RD Berkampstead, [Hertfordshire]. 3rd Q., 1919. WILLMORE, Albert & COXHEAD, Mary A. M.. Vol 3a. p. 2390. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[5] Deaths Index (CR) England & Wales. RD Blackpool/F, [Lancashire]. 3rd Q., 1977. WILLMORE, Albert. Vol 40. p. 379. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[6] Deaths Index (CR) England & Wales. RD H. Hempstead, [Hertfordshire]. 1st Q., 1968. WILLMORE, Albert. Vol 4b. p. 154. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021..

[7] Deaths Index (CR) England & Wales. RD Dacorum, [Hertfordshire]. 1st Q., 1979. WILLMORE, Mary Ann M. Vol 10. p. 136. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[8] Deaths Index (CR) England & Wales. RD St Albans, [Hertfordshire]. 3rd Q., 1979. WEBB, Charles Arthur Vol 10. p. 461. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[9] Deaths Index (CR) England & Wales. RD St Albans, [Hertfordshire]. 1985. WEBB, Hilda Martha Vol 10. p. 855. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021

[10] Marriages Index (CR) England & Wales. RD St, Neots, [Cambridgeshire]. 4th Q., 1919. WEBB, Charles & JAIKENS, Hilda M. Vol 3b. p. 689. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[11] Births Index (CR) England & Wales. RD Berkampsted, [Hertfordshire]. 1st Q., 1894. WILLMORE, Albert. Vol 3a. p. 646. https://www.gro.gov.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[12] Births Index (CR) England & Wales. RD St Saviour Southwark, London. 1st Q., 1898. COXHEAD, Mary Ann Matilda. Vol 1d. p. 45. https://www.gro.gov.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[13] Births Index (CR) England & Wales. RD St Neots, [Cambridgeshire]. 2nd Q., 1900. WEBB, Charles Arthur. Vol 3b. p. 311. https://www.gro.gov.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

[14] Births Index (CR) England & Wales. RD St Neots, [Cambridgeshire]. 4th Q., 1902. JAIKENS, Hilda Martha. Vol 3b p. 266. https://www.gro.gov.uk/ : accessed 23 September 2021.

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Other families

Researching for others

A few weeks ago I had an email from a friend. He told me his Dad’s name and date of birth, Granddad’s date of birth and that both were born in York. Attached I found a sketch family tree which added his paternal grandparents names, dates of birth, marriage and death, as three of his four great grandparents names. Also attached was Granddad’s short birth certificate, and my friend’s grandmother’s birth and death certificate and their marriage certificate.

As Dad was 7 at the time of the 1939 register my first port of call was to look them up there. Living together in York I found Dad and grandmother, with another child (redacted due to the 100 year rule), two other adults and great grandmother. I was a little surprised not to find Granddad living with his son(s), wife and mother, but it was a turbulent time as war was breaking up. I found him lodging one mile away, a walk which would take him past the Rowntree factory.

Next I looked a the 1911 Census on which I expected to find Granddad and grandmother as young children. I was expecting this to confirm the information given to me regarding great grandparents and hopefully the name on the fourth.

I found 2 year old Grandad, with his older sister and both parents. So immediately I had a married name for the unknown great grandmother. Anthony and Mary had been married 9 years, and had two living children. They had also listed their middle child, Jack, who had died three years earlier. Either they, or the census enumerator, had crossed out Jack’s name.

Looking over to the far right of the census return I had a bit of a surprise, neither of my friends great grandparents were born in York. However, I did find their marriage on the GRO index so ordered a copy of the marriage certificate. These place names were going to take a bit of deciphering

In the meantime I concentrated on Granddad, finding him in the trade union directories and and on the electoral roll. He and his wife had moved around York, but I was able to follow them through the years.

Next I found my friend’s grandmother, aged just 3 months, on the 1911 census. Maybe it was “baby brain” that made them so confused over how many children they had. This confirmed the great grandparents names that I had been given.

I was able to find her baptism, in which the very helpful vicar had written her date of birth. I also found here parents marriage in the parish registers, which gave me their father’s names, and saved waiting for a marriage certificate to arrive.

I continued working my way back through the various census records, and learned that many Irish records have been destroyed. I was able to use dog license applications to find my friend’s 2nd great grandfather had lived in Barnageeragh Cove all his life.

I was pleased to find an entry in a 1797 marriage register

There was plenty more to discover, but it is not my story to tell. My friend seemed very happy with what I sent him anyway!

Ruth has worked hard to research my family history. It’s not been an easy task as my family comes from Ireland & we had no idea whereabouts or when my ancestors moved to York.
Ruth has researched deeply into into the records of the census over the years. What has been intriguing has been how the family moved around York & who both Grandparents & my father lived with. I had picked up some stories from them but no clear backup to the stories.
Ruth has provided a family tree as well as scans of documents to back her research up.
I’m very grateful to Ruth for doing all the research & I would recommend her to anyone who wants to find out their family history.

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Other families

A Collection of Slides

I’ve still not managed to make the title underlined, but it is a clickable link!
About a month ago I was contacted by a friend, Andrew Lance, who is scanning the slide collection of John Powell, known to us both through the Ffestiniog Railway. The majority of the slides are of various railways, but in with them are a selection of family weddings, Andrew thought that these weddings, if they could be identified might help with more accurate dating of the some of the railway pictures.

Between us we knew little of John’s family, but there were some clues on some of the slide labels, such as “Carol Minors wedding”. Using these clues, FreeBMD, Ancestry, FindMyPast between us we identified the weddings and drew up a family tree for John Powell. We were able to identify cousins who could be interested in the slide collection.

It has been a fun project to work on, and we would be happy to scan photographs of any format and use them to create a family tree.