Friday 28 September 2012

Four million soldiers and seamen on FamilySearch

It's been a busy week for UK records this week at FamilySearch!

In addition to the big Welsh upload yesterday and the Kent collections a couple of days before (since updated, see report), FamilySearch has added more than 4million army and merchant navy records.

These are of huge relevance to Irish genealogy research because so many Irish men worked at sea or were soldiers.

In the Chelsea Pensioners collection, for example, some 17% of records relate to Irishmen. Incidentally, don't infer from the term 'pension' that the soldier was elderly; soldiers became eligible for a pension after just 12 years service or even earlier if they were wounded.

These are the collections now indexed on FamilySearch.
  • 2,607,986 records for Merchant Navy Seamen 1835-1941
  • 555,558 records of Militia Service 1806-1915
  • 933,943 service records for Chelsea Pensioners 1760-1913
The Merchant Navy Seamen collection is an index of the collection held by The National Archives in Kew, London. Details provided by the search are limited to name, date of birth and place of birth. To see the full record you need to access TNA.

A search of the Chelsea Pensioners records returns similar information. To view the full record you can either visit an LDS Family History Centre (FHC) where access will be provided free, or click to FindMyPastUK where a subscription or pay-per-view arrangement applies.

The Militia Service records return just name and place of birth and these, too, are available free at FHCs or, with fees, at FindMyPastUK.

In addition to the above records, FamilySearch has added indexes to the Plymouth and West Devon Parish Registers collection 1538-1912, in co-operation with FindMyPastUK.