History News

News on useful information to help you research your Essex ancestors

Electoral Registers on FMP

Find My Past have just announced the release of their largest single collection to date with over 5.4 million images of England & Wales Electoral Registers 1832-1932. These contain approximately 220 million names. Covering over 100 years these images are of microfilmed copies of printed registers stored in the British Library where they cover 2.25 miles of shelving.

These registers are listings of all those registered to vote in a particular area. The lists were created annually to record the names of eligible voters and their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property.

These registers should be useful for tracing your ancestors’ movements after the 1911 census.

Posted in Essex Resources, Miscellaneous, UK History | Leave a comment

Magna Carta Exhibition at Braintree Museum


Braintree District Museum are organizing an exhibition and a diverse programme of events to promote the important local context of the Magna Carta story, and to investigate what the local area was like in the late 12th – early 13th centuries.

The exhibition will be running at the Museum from 22 September 2015 until 30th January 2016 and they will be working in conjunction with Hedingham Castle to celebrate the role played by Robert de Vere. Exhibition highlights will include a newly commissioned reconstruction painting of Hedingham Castle in 1215 and an anniversary embroidery created by the Castle Hedingham Embroiderers Guild.

More information on the Braintree Museum website.

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World War One – unit war diaries

World War One army unit war diaries are now available on Ancestry.co.uk

On Ancestry.co.uk are two new collections of regimental war diaries: France, Belgium and Germany, 1914-1920; and Gallipoli and Dardanelles, 1914-1916. If you know the name of the regiment your ancestor served in during World War One then you can now find out some background information on your relatives’ experiences during World War I. The war diaries include daily reports on operations from the Western Front and the Gallipoli Campaign. You’ll be able to find out where your ancestors regiment was and what it was doing at particular periods during the war.

The level of detail varies depending on who was filling in each diary – but at times you can read not only hour-by-hour accounts of some of WWI’s largest battles, but also accounts of day to day life under constant shelling, casualties, and mundane facts such as what the weather was like, and how morale was holding up. Names are mentioned, but the diaries are not indexed. That is the subject of an ongoing crowdsourcing project Operation War Diary.

Included in the diaries are those of the Essex Regiment.

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Ordering Wills or Probate Records Online

The HM Government’s Probate Office for England and Wales has now altered the procedure for ordering Wills or Probate records (1858 to the present day). You can only order the documents online. It will cost £10.

Go to their Find a Will search page and enter the persons surname and year of death. It is not possible to enter any other search parameters. A search will return pages of the National Probate Calendar in which that person’s surname appears for that year. It may cover several pages. Go through the pages until you find the entry you are looking for. From this take the relevant details required for the ordering form which appears on the right of the probate calendar pages. Then click ‘add to the basket’ and pay.

If you are a member of Ancestry.co.uk, they have a far better search engine for finding Wills up to 1966. A great help if you are unsure as to the year or place of death. Once you have found it on there, you can revert back to the Probate Office’s search engine.

For information on how to research Wills before 1858, see our Wills before 1858 page.

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New: Trade Union Membership Registers

Newly published on Findmypast.co.uk is an archive of Trade Union Membership Registers. These are three million British trade union records from the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick. The collection includes images of the original record books from 9 unions.

The information on each record can vary depending on the type of record but there is the potential to discover: name, birth year, admission year, age at admission, trade, union name, union branch and county. Some may also provide marriage dates, payments received, date and reason for leaving (exclusion), and date of death if a serving member.

The Unions are:

Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners
Amalgamated Society of Carpenters, Cabinetmakers & Joiners
General Union of Carpenters & Joiners
Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers
Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Artists, Designers, Engravers & Process Workers
Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Printers
Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants
National Union of Railwaymen
United Society of Boilermakers & Iron Shipbuilders

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Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846-1912

Recently published on Ancestry are the Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846-1912. In 1845, the Lunacy Act and County Asylum Act required counties to build asylums for the insane. The newly formed Lunacy Commission was established both oversee these public asylums and the still existing private asylums. These registers are those of the Lunacy Commission and form part of series MH 94 at the National Archives.

Most of the registers record the name and sex of the patient, the name of hospital, asylum or licensed house, and the date of admission and of discharge, or death of each patient. Unfortunately, in the earlier registers the location is often just shown as a county name. It is not until later that the names of individual asylums are given. Also in some of the registers only a surname of the patient is given.

If your ancestor disappeared in one of the census returns, then a search of these registers may be worthwhile as in the census returns inmates of an asylum were either not named or only their initials were supplied.

There are over 29,000 records if one searches for the keyword ‘Essex’.

Posted in Census, Essex Resources | Leave a comment

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