Latest news from Northumberland History Society

At this session we shared ideas on ways of finding ancestors.

Thursday, 19th April 2018, 1:00 pm

Ralph spoke on using newspapers, reminding us of the vagaries of listing used by the newspaper section in Find My Past. The Berwick Advertiser is to be found under T, The Berwickshire News under B and The Berwick Journal under I. Once you have mastered this rule then you can embark on your search.

Figures are often misrepresented in transcriptions of original newspaper articles so these need to be interpreted carefully. Articles are often copied from other sources, which can also lead to confusion, unreliability and errors.

Ralph suggested trying out the USA National Congress Library online resources for a wide selection of newspapers worldwide.

Enid detailed some of the main Scottish sources, which might not be familiar to all members. Scotland’s People is now free to search the index.

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Many types of BMD records give different amounts and types of information from those in England. For example, the official death registration will provide names of parents of deceased and sometimes the place of burial.

Burial records in church registers are variable, however, and often missing since they were not required until 1844. But Mort Cloth records are a valuable resource unique to Scotland.

The Statistical Accounts are a wonderful resource and give a helpful picture of life in that place in the mid-19 century. Some counties have extensive graveyard surveys done by committed individuals.

The Maxwell Ancestry website has many free online records available, which are searchable. Enid brought along several reference books which she uses. These included Black’s book, Surnames of Scotland, and reprints of John Woods’ Maps from 1825, showing the names of owners of property in towns and villages. Her final recommendation was for the madaboutgenealogy website.

Val spoke on the pilot scheme for obtaining birth and death certificates at a reduced price and its advantages.

The Census Indexes contain numerous transcription variations and errors, whether these were done for manual records or digital. Some suggestions included looking for similar names with variation of one letter at a time, searching for relatives living nearby, avoiding entering too many precise details, using wildcards and knowing when to omit known information, such as place of birth and gender.

Searching for a known unusual forename in a family often leads you to another relative.

Always look at the original image for further clues and extra information, which may not be evident in a transcription.

Never assume that John Smith and Mary Smith in the 1841 census are a married couple. They could be brother and sister, father and daughter, or any other combination, especially when ages are inaccurate, as was common in that census. Use the 1911 census to obtain names of children for whom you can search in later years.

Our next meeting will be on Saturday, April 21, at 10am, when Carol Griffiths will tell us about The Rise and Fall of the Forsters of Bamburgh. We meet at Bell View, Belford, at 9.45am for 10am.