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I was recently looking for details of a marriage in Sleaford, Lincolnshire in 1862. I had the details of the couple from FreeBMD, but needed to know the name of the groom’s father, preferably without buying a copy of the marriage certificate.

This area of Lincolnshire is not covered by data on the UKBMD website at www.ukbmd.org.uk, so, in extremis, I just Googled “Sleaford marriages” and found a site at http://s10.freefronthost.com/mi/ which has spreadsheets of Lincolnshire marriages from 1837 to about 1870, and this had the information I wanted. Google is a good way of finding fugitive information like this.

Back nearer to home, the website of the Keynsham and Saltford Local History Society has transcriptions of the registers for three local churches, including births and burials at Keynsham Baptist Church from the end of the eighteenth century. Some of this information is also on the FreeREG website at www.freereg.org.uk, but this uses a different search method. The Society website at http://www.keysalthist.org.uk/ has full details of what is available.

Checking for recent deaths is not always easy, since some names can appear quite regularly in the indexes. I was recently looking for someone who was born in Liverpool, so thought of checking for a death announcement in the local newspaper. While the Bristol Evening Post provides a free search option, the Liverpool Echo charges 98p for a full transcription of the death announcement. However, since this also provided the name of the widow and only daughter of the deceased, I thought it money well spent.

The National Library of Wales holds copies of over 190,000 wills which were proved in Welsh ecclesiastical courts before 1858. These wills are now available online, and you can search for a will by name, parish, township and occupation. Images of the wills are provided free of charge. The search page is at http://tinyurl.com/yh452xr.

If you have Scottish ancestors, and have used the very different Scottish records of births, marriages and burials, then you may be interested in “Scottish Way of Birth and Death”. This is a historic study undertaken by the University of Glasgow and it can be found at www.gla.ac.uk/departments/scottishwayofbirthanddeath. Besides BMD information, there are also sections on divorce, the census, health and disease, vaccination, and national registration at time of war.

A collection of old photographs of Bristol and Bath cane be found online at www.oldstratforduponavon.com/bristol.html, and if you poke around the site and get past the many advertisements you can discover how to buy copies of any that may interest you. Maps of Bristol, Bath and many other British towns and cities taken from a 1910 Baedeker guide book can be found at http://contueor.com/baedeker/index.htm.

When I first made a note of the DiCamillo Companion at http://www.dicamillocompanion.com/index_2.html , it was on the basis of its list of British and Irish country houses. Further examination led to some disappointment with that part of the site, and its coverage of the local area is very sparse. You may wish to submit information yourself. However, there are also other historic areas covered, and in particular a section of British coins which contained many names and coins previously unknown to me.

If you have any interest in the history of the British in India, then you will probably already know about the FIBIS website at www.fibis.org. The members of the Families in British India Society are transcribing records and making them available free of charge. A further set of records is now available on the British Library India Office website The India Office records held at the British Library are also now becoming available free online at http://indiafamily.bl.uk/UI/Home.aspx. There is some overlap between the two datasets, but it is worth looking at both to find the information you need.

The major providers of online family history data continue to develop and change their offerings, not always for the better. Findmypast (www.findmypast.com) has now integrated the 1911 census into its main site. Pay-per-view vouchers are already interchangeable, although the 1911 census is much more expensive to view than the other years. You can now also purchase a subscription, either for the 1911 census on its own, or for the other data on its own, or for both. If you have been holding back from using the 1911 census because of the pay-per-view cost, then a six month subscription for £39.95 may be worth having if you have a lost of names to look up, and can do them in a short time. New military data on Findmypast includes De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, which covers over 26,000 servicemen killed in the Great War, and the Waterloo Medal Roll of 1815.

Useful new data on Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) includes transcriptions of some London parish registers and information about British Army prisoners of war of the Second World War. I was disappointed to find that this covered only those captured in the European theatre and not those who fought in the Far East or elsewhere. There is no mention of this restriction on the Ancestry website. Ancestry now has a new way for you to correct wrong transcriptions of census data, including birthplace, occupation and other fields besides name.

Keeping up with the finance and changes of ownership of family history websites can give some indication of the ways they will develop. Brightsolid, which is part of the D.C.Thomson publishing group, already owns Findmypast and runs the 1911 census and Scotland’s People. It has now bought the Friends Reunited group of websites, including Genes Reunited. This is clearly a profitable and forward-looking company. Meanwhile Ancestry is seeking to raise $75 million though a stock offering. It claims that it now has more than 900,000 subscribers worldwide, and that it pulled in $197.6 million in revenue last year, while posting a $2.4 million profit.

Although the LDS FamilySearch website at www.familysearch.org is expanding and offers access to data free of charge, it would seem that the commercial provision of family history information is now a substantial business.

Bob Lawrence