Were your Victorian ancestors servants?
Did your ancestor live or work in a grand house in the Victorian era? Was one of your ancestors a butler or a hall boy? Was your greatgrandmother a housemaid or a cook? Did your forebears employ domestic staff?
Whatever your family’s link to the past, TV Aspect, a TV production company, would love to hear from you. They are looking to speak to people of all ages who have a direct family connection to a historic house.They would like to hear what you know about their lives and see any photos or letters you may have.
If you have any information for the producers please contact:
Tiger Aspect, Factual Department
4th Floor, Shepherds Building Central
London W14 OEE
Tel: 0208 222 4909
Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 – 1920: A Guided Tour
History House is pleased to announce the publication of a new book: Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 – 1920: A Guided Tour.
The book takes you on a guided tour of Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, during the 19th and early 20th centuries. With the help of photographs, newspapers, parish records and census returns, the story of each house is revealed, as are the lives of some of their occupants.
It was a parish of many contrasts: from wealthy land-owners living in grand Georgian mansions with numerous servants, to agricultural workers struggling against poverty in overcrowded and dilapidated cottages. Discover how the landscape changed after the common land was enclosed, and how farmers struggled to cope with the agricultural depression. Find out about the role of the parish in WW1 when it was at the front line of Britain’s fight against the Zeppelins. See how the new school was established and functioned, and why a new parish church was built. There are stories of crime, bankruptcy, poverty, scandal, revenge, leisure and migration.
Even if you have never been to Kelvedon Hatch, with the help of detailed maps and photographs, you will find yourself immersed in its history.
Contains 128 pages, 11 maps and diagrams, 77 black and white photographs.
Also available on Amazon and other online bookstores.
Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills
A new and important collection of Wills has just been added on Ancestry.co.uk: the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills from 1384 to 1858.
According to Ancestry, “Prior to 12 January 1858, wills in England and Wales were proved in ecclesiastical courts. This indexed collection contains images of wills as they were copied into the registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). The PCC, for the most part, handled probates from southern England and Wales, for individuals who owned property in both the Province of York and the Province of Canterbury, or those who died outside of England and Wales. Most of the wills in this collection will be for members of the middle and upper classes.”
What you will be able to see are the registered copies of the Wills which have been written out by the church clerks and bound in large volumes. As a consequence, the handwriting is sometimes difficult to read or may be in Latin. However, this is a great resource so don’t be put off by the challenge of trying to read the handwriting. Take a piece of paper and line by line identify the words you can read and leave gaps for those you cannot. Look out for the squiggles at the beginning and end of the lines, they were added to ensure there were no blank spaces. Now look at the writing you know and from the handwriting style try and guess the words you don’t. Many of the Wills will contain standard preambles. Look on the internet for examples of transcribed Wills. Also see our page on reading Latin and old handwriting.
Soldiers’ Wills now online
The final wishes of over 230,000 British soldiers are now to be found in their Wills recently published online. Many of them from the First and Second World Wars.
The handwritten Wills were made out by the soldiers and carried in the service pocket books. Some are very brief one or two lines, but others are accompanied by final letters to their wife, families or their sweethearts.
To search for the Will of a soldier who died while serving in the British armed forces between 1850 and 1986 you will need the soldier’s last name and year of death. You can search the database without registering, but to purchase a copy for £6, you need then to register. A copy of the Will will then be made available within 10 working days of your order.
Searches can be accessed at the Probate Sevice: https://www.gov.uk/probate-search#before-you-start
Ancestry.co.uk – old v. new search
On Ancestry.co.uk there are two different search interfaces. The one presented to most users is the new version. However, many experienced researchers much prefer to use the old version. In our opinion it is easier use and returns better quality results, it is also more flexible for the experience researcher.
Ancestry are proposing to get rid of the old search as so few users use it. Well no wonder, it is well hidden. Where is the old version, some of you may ask. Go to the Search tab, select Search All Records. On the far right-hand side of the page in small print is a link ‘Go to Old Search’.
It you use the old search and want to stop Ancestry getting rid of it then fill out this Old Search Survey on the Ancestry website.
Civil or Mechanical Engineer records
If your ancestor was a civil or mechanical engineer then the latest archive on Ancestry.co.uk will certainly be of interest. The records of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) contain details of over 100,000 people between 1830 and 1930 who built and shaped their world and left a lasting legacy for modern Britain.
Many of them were the greatest engineers of the Victorian era: pioneers of automobiles, construction techniques, mechanics, and all types of technology. Famous names in the records include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Sir John Rennie, Christopher Hinton and Sir F Henry Royce.
The collection comprises membership records and photographs of engineers who were members of both institutions between 1820 and 1930. It is in three datasets, one of which includes photographs of the individual members.
UK, Civil Engineer Photographs, 1829-1923
UK, Civil Engineer Records, 1820-1930
UK, Mechanical Engineer Records, 1870-1930
There is one search page for all three datasets.