Ancestry have recently changed their subscription options, and increased their prices. For the U.K. researcher, “Essentials” membership now costs £83.40 annually and includes birth marriage and death records as well as the census records. “Premium” membership costs £107.40 and includes various other databases, including Irish records. Monthly payment options are available, and you can still do “pay as you go”.
It is likely that further developments on this site, especially pre-1837 records, will only be available to those paying for premium membership. The explanation given is the high cost of digitizing old documents. Go to www.ancestry.co.uk for details.
A database recently added to Ancestry is that of incoming passengers 1878-1960. Most of us are aware of family who emigrated, but the list of those incoming will include tourists, and may hold some surprises. Rosina Burchell was born in Bristol in 1865, and married Frank Toghill, who in 1901 was an electric foreman. In 1928, 1929, 1931, 1932 and 1933, Rosina, by then a widow, returned from visits to Canada. She travelled on Cunard ships, and gave her address as 64 York Road, Montpelier. We think of transatlantic travel as expensive, and a habit of the wealthy, but this shows that it could be something regularly enjoyed by quite ordinary people. There are over 16 million names listed in the database, and I got some hits with quite obscure surnames, although I did find some transcription errors. It was a surprise to find my wife listed, with her mother and brother.
While looking at shipping records, I came across Gjenvick-Gjonvik Archives at http://www.gjenvick.com/. Although the name of the site refers to a family of Norwegian origin now living in the United States, it contains a lot of information about migration and shipping, including passenger lists, travel brochures, tickets, menus, etc.
And now for something completely different. One of the major sources for information for the early nineteenth century is tithe maps, drawn up to show the ownership and occupation of land and the tithe rent payable. The maps themselves are often held by Record Offices, but they vary widely in scale and format, and some are huge and unwieldy. Although the accompanying documents listing ownership are easily transcribed, and those for the local area were done by Ken and Megan Edwards and published by BAFHS on CD, the maps themselves are not so widely available. The maps for the County of Cheshire have now been published online at http://maps.cheshire.gov.uk/tithemaps/. The maps have been stitched together to form a single image and can be viewed alongside a contemporary Ordnance Survey map, or compared with an old map or an aerial photograph. You can scroll across the whole county, and enlarge the details available. It is a fascinating example of what can be achieved, and I hope that we will see similar sites for other parts of the country.
The Hidden Heritage website has been compiled by Liz Jack, who is well-known to all family historians with Gloucestershire interests. While this is a commercial site offering various family history services, it also holds a wealth of information for those who wish to do their own research. Although I could not locate it through the home page, I was impressed by a list of nonconformist chapels at www.hidden-heritage.co.uk/nonconformists. This covers a variety of denominations, and gives their location and when they were formed.
FreeBMD continues to be the easiest site to use when checking births, marriages and deaths, especially for the nineteenth-century. It now has the records for over 150 million events, but there are still some gaps in coverage before 1910. Between 1920 and 1930, the coverage is improving steadily, as the more recent index pages are easier to read and transcribed, and some events from the 1930s and 1940s are now included. FreeBMD is at http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/.
We are all waiting for the release of the 1911 census. Although no launch date has yet been announced., there is a website where you can find out the latest news at http://www.1911census.co.uk/index.php. You can also register to be sent information as it becomes available. While we have had access to images of the enumerators’ books in previous censuses, for 1911 we shall see the sheets completed by householders. This should remove one of the opportunities for transcription error.