Friday, 31 July 2015

WDYTYA? returns to TV screens everywhere!

Whether you're in the UK, the USA or Australia, you should be able to find a new series of Who Do You Think You Are? on a TV screen near you in August.

In the UK, a ten-episode series gets underway on Thursday 13 August at 9pm on BBC One. The ancestries examined are those of Paul Hollywood, Jane Seymour, Derek Jacobi, Jerry Hall, Gareth Malone, Anne Reid, Frank Gardner, Anita Rani, Mark Gatiss and Frances de la Tour.

In the USA, a short series of just five episodes started last Sunday with Ginnifer Goodwin. It continues this weekend (2 August) with J K Rowling in an episode first broadcast in the UK in 2011. Episodes exploring the family history of Alfre Woodard, Tom Bergeron and Bryan Cranston will follow on Sunday evenings throughout August at 9pm ET.

In Australia, a new eight-part series begins on at 7:30pm on Tuesday 4 August on SBS with Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette, Dawn Fraser, David Wenham, Luke Nguyen, Ray Martin, Peter Rowsthorn and Greig Pickhaver. One of the stories will uncover details of 'an Irish rebel'. See the promo video below:

Lunchtime genealogy lectures at the NLI in August

The National Library of Ireland has announced its line-up of Genealogy at Lunchtime lectures for this summer. The lectures start next week and will be held at 1–2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout August.

Tuesday 4 August
The Irish DNA Atlas, with Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri

Thursday 6 August
Secrets of the Bog Bodies, with Dr Eamonn P Kelly

Tuesday 11 August
Irish Surnames, a family heirloom, with Paul MacCotter MAGI

Thursday 13 August
Heraldry: obscure mediaeval mumbo-jumbo, or valid genealogical technique? with Bruce Durie

Tuesday 18 August
Using maps for thinking about history, with Kevin Whelan

Thursday 20 August
Social geography – Was there a Protestant exodus from the south of Ireland? with Andy Bielenberg

Tuesday 25 August
It's off to work we go: mapping Ireland's industrial past, with Rob Goodbody

Thursday 27 August
Archives to be explored in the National Irish Visual Arts Library, with Eve Parnell

All the lectures will be presented at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. They are free to attend, open to all, and booking is not necessary.

The series will continue in September (line-up to follow).

FindMyPast releases records of Dublin's Military School has added some 9,898 records from the Royal Hibernian Military School in Dublin.

The Royal Hibernian Military School admissions 1847-1932 collection relates to the school opened in 1769 by the Hibernian Society to educate orphaned children of British Army personnel in Ireland.

The term 'orphan' could include children who had lost one or both parents, or indeed none; if both parents were posted overseas, a child might be offered a place at the Royal Hibernian Military School (RHMS).

The collection also includes a staff list for the year 1864.

Stored in London, many of the school’s records were destroyed during the London blitz in 1940. Those that survive are now in The National Archives and have been transcribed by Peter Goble.

They include information that goes beyond the details typically found in admission registers, but sometimes, rather infuriatingly, omitting detail that could better identify the individual, as you'll see from some of the examples below:

Henry Byrne, born 11 October 1839, was admitted to the RHMS on 7 May 1850 aged 11. He was 4ft 8inches tall, weighed 3st 10lb and had a chest size of 24inches. His unnamed father was in the Hussars 7th regiment. His occupation is stated as Tailor, presumably the trade in which young Henry was being trained.

Patrick Gannon, born 6 February 1840, was admitted to the RHMS when he was aged 10years 4months. Although not recorded specifically, the admission can be readilty calculated to around June 1850. He was 3ft 10inches tall, weighed 3st 10lb and had a chest size of 24inches. His unnamed father was in the Hampshire South Regiment (37th & 67th Foot).

Bridget Murphy was a protestant who worked as a Laundry Servant at the RHMS in 1864. She's recorded as a resident of the School, which presumably means she lived in; her wages were £6 6shillings and her allowances were £19 18shillings. She resigned. No further information is provided.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

New book: Discover Irish Land Records

Earlier this month, genealogist Chris Paton's latest guide book – Discover Irish Land Records – was published by Unlock the Past.

The softback guide looks at the potential to be found among documents of inheritance, ownership and tenancy, census, valuation and tithes and many other land and property records. At just 58-pages between the covers there is, of course, a limit on how much depth can be included, but Chris has not just skimmed the surface of his theme; he has provided some very useful detail that researchers won't readily find elsewhere, as well as suggesting techniques to ensure they wring every jot of information out of some of the most useful documents and resources.

His coverage of census records is a good such example where he guides the researcher beyond the household schedules to the accompanying Forms N, B1 and B2 for an exploration of the statistical information and 'forensic examination' of the property itself.

Similarly his section on Boundaries and Administrative Areas includes a detailed explanation of Townlands and the resources available to help identify tricky non-standard placenames. He cites an example of his own search for Ballyvoy, a townland named on several records. Townland guides and databases all pointed to the parish of Culfeightrim on the northern Antrim coast, while the family was known to have been located near the village of Doagh in the Antrim parish of Templepatrick.

Chris eventually solved the mystery when he came across a newspaper advert for the sale of a property which referred to 'the townland of Ballyboy, also known as Duncansland... about two miles from the village of Doagh'.

The hard-core of the book looks at tenancy, ownership and valuation records and has particularly strong sections on both Leases and Rentals, again citing personal research examples of the type of content and value of relevant record collections. Probate records, deeds, estate maps and tithe applotment records are covered, as are explanation of terms such as quit rents and ground rents, and a brief glance at the Down Survey of Ireland.

There's also a detailed history of Ireland, suggestions for exploring maps, gazeteers, directories and parish histories, guidance on land measurements and currency, a three page index, a list of useful addresses and some recommended reading, so the guidebook certainly has some breadth.

While I find the font size far too small for comfortable reading, I'm happy to recommend Discover Irish Land Records as a handy introduction and well-organised reference book for researchers moving into the intermediate stages of their family history studies. Many new avenues of research will be opened up to them through its pages.

Published by Unlock the Past. ISBN 978 1 925323 24 5. Available from Gould Genealogy in Australia (Aust$15.99), MyHistory in the UK (£7.50), and other online bookstores.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Fancy a gruelling experience in October?

Here's something more than just a little bit different as a way to better appreciating the lives and experiences of your ancestors.

The Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities is running a public event called Gruelling Ordeals: The Irish Workhouse Diet, 1850-1950 on Monday 12 October. The Institute describes it as 'an immersive encounter with the diets of Belfast's poorest inhabitants over 100 years ago' and is offering an invitation to experience workhouse life by sampling the oatmeal gruel, broth and suet puddings served to inmates. These meals will be compared with the rich diets of meat pies and fruits enjoyed by the city's middle-classes at the same time.

This unusual 'feast' will be followed by a short programme of talks. Among the speakers will be Dr Ian Miller from the University of Ulster and Dr Linda Price and Dr Olwen Purdue from Queen’s University, Belfast. The talks will offer insights into the diets of the past in order to stimulate debate about our 21st-century eating habits.

The event will end with an informal drinks reception.

Time: 3–7pm.
Venue: Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts, Duncairn Avenue, Belfast BT14 6BP.
Tickets are free but must be booked.

Studies of Dublin graveyard inscriptions on Academia tutor and historian Sean J Murphy has recently republished some of his works on, a growing platform used by academics to reach a wider audience.

He currently has 15 papers available, each free to view via his profile page. Of particular interest to those actively researching their family history in Dublin are these:

  • Memorial Inscriptions from the Moravian Cemetery, Whitechurch, County Dublin
  • Bully's Acre and Royal Hospital Kilmainham Graveyards: History and Inscriptions
  • Memorial Inscriptions from St Catherine's Church and Graveyard, Dublin

His well-known Survey of Irish Surnames 1992-97 can also be accessed on the site.

Sean's e-publications, including St James's Graveyard Project/Memorial Inscriptions from St James's, Dublin, can also be downloaded in PDF format, free, from his Centre for Irish Genealogical and Historical Studies website.

Sean has recently launched a page on Facebook where he provides additional information and comment about some of his research projects.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

FamilySearch adds transcripts of 1871 E&W census

Family Search has added transcripts of the 1871 England and Wales Census to its database. It's not quite complete yet, but with more than 81% of the total now available, it's worth checking out.

In 1871, there were 605,282 Irish-born individuals living in England and Wales (a further 207,820 were in Scotland). The largest concentrations were found in London (91,100), Liverpool (76,700) and Manchester (34,000). The numbers make clear why this is an important collection for Irish family historians to search for 'missing' ancestors, whether they subsequently returned to Ireland, settled in the UK or emigrated, typically from Liverpool, for the United States.

While images are not provided by FamilySearch (there's a link to FindMyPast to view them with a subscription), the FamilySearch transcriptions contain all the information provided on the census forms for each individual: name, age, marital status, relationship to head of household, occupation and place of birth, as well as listing name, age and place of birth for all other occupants of the household.

The majority of the census records do not say where in Ireland the individual was born, but for some lucky researchers, the name of the county is recorded.

Note: All stats from The Irish In Britain 1800–1914, by Donald M MacRaild; 'Studies in Irish Economic and Social History' series.