Monday, 11 December 2017

Ancestry's UK, Electoral Registers, 2003-2010

Tracing relatives down to (almost) the present day is less of a challenge if you have a phone book or electoral register. So Ancestry's database, new and updated, with 65,219,361 records from UK electoral registers is welcome. One-namers and those seeking DNA matches will find it particularly valuable.
You can search by names, approximate birth year, location and keyword, which could include street name. When searching by location I suggest choosing from the drop-down list as you type as the search seems sensitive to the format.
There are no images, likely the original is digital. To find all the electors in a household search for a known person then use the address to find the others.

The BIFHSGO Match the Picture Challenge

A fun part of the BIFHSGO meeting on Saturday, before the Great Moments presentations, was the challenge of matching each of eight director's photographs to that of an ancestor or blood relative.
About 160 people were at the meeting and something like half participated. Nobody got all 8 right, nor 7, 6, 5, nor 4. Three people got three correct. If they were just guessing how many would be expected to guess three correctly?

Using the binomial distribution the bar chart shows with random guessing you'd expect on average one out of the 80 participants to get three correct. On average there's only a 10% chance of anyone of the 80 guessing four or more correctly.

Perhaps three people with three correct answers rather than the one expected shows skill. Or perhaps this is an example of a 5 per cent chance of there being three correct guesses among 80 people. The audience reaction suggested to me that one of the matches was easier to discern than the others.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Farewell Bytown or Bust

On Sunday, 10 December Al Lewis posted the following message on his Facebook group.

"Good morning, all: After 52 years of working, I have decided it is time to retire. I will not be doing any further historical or genealogical research but will still be monitoring this Facebook group. In general, I need a rest and a change from working and need to spend some time pursuing other, less time-consuming interests. This group expanded rapidly and I did not anticipate how many posts and e-mails it would generate - between my website at and this present facebook group, there is simply too much work. The web site will still be available for researchers of history and genealogy in the Ottawa, Canada area, but it will not be updated any longer. It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I will still be around but will not be posting new material here.  ... Allan Lewis, Ottawa, Canada."

Thank you Al for the tremendous contribution you have made to the local historical and genealogical community. Your contributions will be missed. Thank you also for ensuring the website will continue to be available.

Shane Wilson adds more useful Irish tools and content

Claire Santry's Irish Genealogy News points to updates at Shane Wilson's website at Recent additions are census and BMD browse tools and a scanned booklet of Telephone Subscribers of Ireland 1900-1901.
Check out Claire's blog post.

Genealogists’ Magazine: December 2017

The December issue of Genealogists’ Magazine from the Society of Genealogists, dropped in my mailbox earlier this week.
As usual, after reading the Chairman's message I turned first to the list of books newly acquired by the SOG library, a couple are also the subject of book reviews in the issue.
Family First: tracing relationships in the past, by Symes, Ruth A.
The secret world of the Victorian lodging house, by O’Neill, Joseph.
I noticed one of the articles by Malcolm Noble, a crime writer mentioned earlier this year. In Why was Hannah Bowyer guilty? he writes "By studying one murder case in detail, this essay will demonstrate the strength and depth of the value of genealogy. Secondly, it will suggest a new line of enquiry which the Victorian sleuths might have followed in this case. Thirdly, it will show how laying the genealogy across the facts of a case can provide an insight to the social and criminal culture of a community."

I also read Anthony Camp's article George Gair (or Sutherland) a case showing why why Burke's genealogies should not be relied upon.

The other articles I've yet to delve into are:
Scandal, slander and seduction: Judy Kimber
John Wood, Master of the Peregrine: Michael M. Wood
The Burt Family of St Kitts and Nevis: Chris Birch
The Bailey Brothers: Benefactors of Bells: Adrial Walton

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Fine-scale Irish Genetic Genealogy

Two articles on Irish genetic genealogy in one day!

The first, heralded by news release from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, marks the publication of The Irish DNA Atlas: Revealing Fine-Scale Population Structure and History within Ireland. This is the peer reviewed article of material previously presented by lead author Edmund Gilbert in genetic genealogy sessions at Back to Our Past (Dublin) and Who Do you Think You Are? Live (Birmingham).

Based on data collected from 194 Irish individuals with four generations of ancestry linked to specific regions in Ireland, and complementary data from the UK and continental Europe,
"We show that the Irish population can be divided in 10 distinct geographically stratified genetic clusters; seven of ‘Gaelic’ Irish ancestry (surprisingly faithful to the historical boundaries of Irish Provinces and kingdoms), and three of shared Irish-British ancestry. In addition we observe a major genetic barrier to the north of Ireland in Ulster. Using a reference of 6,760 European individuals and two ancient Irish genomes, we demonstrate high levels of North-West French-like and West Norwegian-like ancestry within Ireland. We show that that our ‘Gaelic’ Irish clusters present homogenous levels of ancient Irish ancestries. We additionally detect admixture events that provide evidence of Norse-Viking gene flow into Ireland, and reflect the Ulster Plantations."
The second article comes as a yet unreviewed preprint Insular Celtic population structure and genomic footprints of migration. 991 Irish individuals DNA was available from a health database, they were not selected to limit geographic origins which was available for 544 of the samples in the form of donor home address. 23 discrete genetic clusters were found which segregate with geographical provenance.

The studies differ in where they place Orkney results, the first with the Irish group, the second with the British. Also the second study shows South Munster separating much sooner from the Irish group than the first study.

These results provide more geographic granularity in Ireland than presently available from the commercial DNA test companies. LivingDNA has an Ireland group and one bridging Ulster and Scotland. Their own Ireland project is ongoing. AncestryDNA recognize three broad clusters, Ulster, Connacht, and Munster sub-divided into 16 genetic communities the definition of which depends on more than DNA. FamilyTreeDNA has a single group for the UK and Ireland. MyHeritage has a single Irish, Scottish, and Welsh group.

Findmypast weekly update

British Army, Imperial War Museum Bond Of Sacrifice 1914-1918, has 18,105 results, many with links to images such as this of Captain Edward Kenelm Digby DSO MC of the Coldstream Guards.
Commissioned Officers predominate with 7,176 Lieutenants and 2nd Lieutenants, 3,328 Captains and 1,346 Majors. There are 819 NCOs and about 2,800 Privates, Sappers, Gunners and similar.
Although the database title is British Army 1,029 served with Canadian forces, 1,492 the Australian.

The largest single addition this week is over 49,000 new probate index cards to the Kent Wills & Probate Indexes 1328-1890. The contents consists of records from seven different ecclesiastical Church of England courts across the county and was compiled from the West Kent Probate index 1750-1890, West Kent Probate Index 1440-1857, Kent Inventories 1571-1842 and Kent Will Abstracts 1328-1691.

Other additions for Kent are over 13,000 baptism records and over 10,000 burial records for the parishes of Meopham, Luddesdown, Cobham, Nurstead and Ifield. There also more than 3,000 new marriage records and 400 new banns records.

TheGenealogist adds Outbound Passenger Lists for the 1930s

The following is a press release from TheGenealogist

TheGenealogist has just released over 2.7 million BT27 records for the 1930s. These Outbound Passenger Lists are part of an expanding immigration and emigration record set on TheGenealogist that feature the historical records of passengers who sailed out of United Kingdom ports in the years between 1930 and 1939. With the release of this decade of records, the already strong Immigration, Emigration, Naturalisation and passenger list resources on TheGenealogist have been expanded again. 

The fully searchable BT27 records from The National Archives released today will allow researchers to:

      Discover potential family members travelling together using TheGenealogist’s SmartSearch. This unique system is able to recognise family members together on the same voyage. In this situation it will display a family icon which allows you to view the entire family with one click.
      Find people travelling to America, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere in the Passenger lists of people departing by sea from the United Kingdom.
      View images of the original passenger list documents that had been kept by the Board of Trade's Commercial and Statistical Department and its successors.
      Discover the ages, last address and where the passenger intended to make their permanent residence.
      These fully indexed records allow family historians to search by name, year, country of departure, country of arrival, port of embarkation and port of destination.

Those with ancestors who sailed from Britain in the 1930’s will welcome this fascinating new release from TheGenealogist, which adds to their current Emigration records, now totalling over 19 million and dating back to 1896. 

Findmypast has Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960 with 24,113,155 records.
Ancestry has UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 with 23,768,544 records.
MyHeritage has a collection British & Irish Passenger Lists 1890 with abstracts of all passenger lists for sailings in 1890 from British & Irish ports with US and Canadian destinations, 193,995 records.
FamilySearch has no corresponding collection.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Ancestry adds Huntingdonshire, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1559-1836

Huntingdonshire, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1559-1836 is a small collection by Ancestry standards, just 10,118 records.
It appears to only contain marriage records, typically transcripts of name, gender, marriage date, marriage place and spouse name. There is no image of the original; these may be available through FamilySearch.

Registration for OGS conference 2018 now open

You can read all about and register for the next Ontario Genealogical Society conference, 1-2 June 2018, in Guelph here. There are a variety of affordable accommodation options. It's always wise to book early to secure your preference.

Are Perceptions Reality?

The Ipsos' Perils of Perception 2017 Survey looks at the gap between people's perception and the reality in 38 countries, and examines why people around the world are so wrong about basic facts about their population.
In general we’re often unduly pessimistic.
Our brains process negative information differently - it sticks with us and affects how we see realities. A few high profile examples bias our perception of the true situation.
The survey indicates 55% of people perceive people's health as good or very good, but actually 74% say their health is good or very good, a gap of 19% worse. In Canada the gap in the survey is 28% worse in perception than reality.
This negative bias is likely the basis of the opinions of the well meaning folks who perceive, on the basis of a few horrific cases, that many home children were ill treated. The perception, if repeated often enough, becomes the reality for many.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Jim Lynn: RIP

Sad to learn of the death of Jim Lynn. He was a early member of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa serving as an associate editor and writing for Anglo-Celtic Roots. For many years Jim supported BIFHSGO by running the Irish Discovery Table loaded with Irish sources at society monthly meetings. I always found Jim kind, very knowledgeable and ready to help with sound advice.

LAC Signatures: Fall/Winter 2017

The new issue of Signatures offers an “impressionistic overview” of how digitization figures meaningfully in the day-to-day workings at Library and Archives Canada.

Some of the things  I learned:

The LAC Digital Archive contains approximately 5 petabytes of digital content, equivalent to 1,338 metres (4,390 feet) of DVDs, a fragment of the total digital holdings of documentary heritage requiring preservation treatment.

The team digitizing the CEF service files can now produce more than 7 million digital images per year. When the project is concluded in the latter part of 2018 approximately 30 million images will have been digitized. (To put that in perspective, the British Newspaper Archive digitized and OCRd 6.1 million newspaper pages in the past year.)

LAC digitized over 10,200 photographs from Expo 67, including just over 9,300 colour slides.

During its first months of operation the LAC DigiLab supported the digitization of over 24,000 pages of textual material and more than 1,000 photographs by researchers from outside LAC.

LAC acknowledged it still has much to learn in digitization by stating "Canada is fortunate in that it can draw on these experiences" (of other peer organizations internationally.)

There's much more.

Read the Fall/Winter issue of Signatures at

BIFHSGO December Meeting

Great Moments in Genealogy is BIFHSGO's ever popular December session. I wouldn't miss it, this month it looks like another winner. 

In lieu of the regular Before BIFHSGO mini-education session, this month will feature holiday shopping and jolly social time. From 9am-10am there will be coffee, tea, a few holiday treats and an opportunity to shop for family history-related gifts with Global Genealogy (contact them ahead of time if you have any special requests) and Ubbink Book and Paper Conservation. We are also having a "Whose Ancestor Is This?" quiz. Photos of ancestors will be posted along with photos of our Board members and our members get to match them up. Look forward to a surprise quiz, maybe more, and cash-shopping opportunities too!

Starting at 10 am on Saturday, 9 December 2017.

In Killin
In October 2016 Brenda Turner traveled to Killin, in Perthshire, firstly, to finally see the highlands, and secondly, to do some family history research for a distant cousin whose family had come to Canada from there. Intending to stay only perhaps just overnight, she stayed for several days, and had great fun and success in her researches. Her cousin was delighted to receive her evidence of her research. But then, back in Canada, several months later, she had new reasons to research what had been going on in Killin in about 1815.

About the speaker
Brenda Turner is a retired former public servant with a long history of family history research. She has been visiting the UK for many years pursuing her family’s stories.

The Skeleton in my Closet
Dr. Robert George Clements was a cousin of John McConkey’s grandfather. Bertie (as he was known) seemed to be a successful physician, having started his career in Belfast and later moving to England. Bertie had several wives – sadly each of them became severely ill and died before their time. None of these deaths were regarded as unusual – except for that of his 4th (and final) wife who died in May 1947. The events following her death created sensational headlines in British newspapers. John’s talk tells the story – it has a surprising finale!

About the speaker
John McConkey was born in the UK - on the Isle of Wight. He earned his B.Sc. at King's College London and worked for International Computers Ltd for 5 years. In 1971 he and his wife immigrated to Canada, with the intention of spending 2 years seeing the country and getting to know relatives - but that 2 year period got extended! They both found computer work in Montreal and then moved the family to Ottawa in 1982 when John received an offer from Nortel. He stayed with Nortel for 17 years and then ran a small network consulting business for 10 years. Now retired, he (and his wife) spend a considerable amount of their time engaged in family history research. John has visited Northern Ireland 3 times and has had significant success with ancestral discoveries there. He organizes reunions for Canadian and British family, transcribes for Ancestry and the North of Ireland Family History Society and is volunteer technical coordinator at BIFHSGO meetings and conferences.

A Young Soldier
Follow the lives of the Thomas Moor family and in particular the life of his eldest son, young Tom Moor. Follow their story, as told by Sharon and Jeff Moor, from London, England to Montreal, Canada, and eventually to Toronto, after periods of time in Detroit and Brantford.  At the age 18, young Tom Moor would make a decision in his young life that would have an impact on his parent’s lives and leave his own mark on Canadian History during the North West Rebellion.

About the speakers
Sharon Moor is a 14-year member of BIFHSGO and a past membership director. She has researched her family tree and her husband’s family tree across Canada, US, England, and Scotland.

Jeff Moor is the son of Sharon Moor. Jeff is a 27-year veteran of the federal public service. His own roots started as a child in Saskatchewan. He has taken an interest in how his family roots link to key Canadian historical events.

Einstein, eBay and the Red Cross – How I Found Fame and Fortune Using my Genealogical Superpowers
When Matthew Harding was going through a box of old books one day, he made an unexpected discovery. Learn how years of genealogy Conferences, workshops and courses paid off as he set out researching an unusual inscription, and instead went on a fascinating voyage into history.

About the speaker
Matthew Harding first joined BIFHSGO in 1995, way back before the Internet was even popular, when doing genealogical research meant becoming an expert at threading filmstrips into the !@#@#!@#@! Microfilm reader. Born in Essex, England, he has lived all around the world but is proud to call Ottawa his home. Matthew runs an IT Consulting firm called The KTL Group. He also happens to be married to BIFHSGO’s new Program Director, and was made to promise not to embarrass her during this talk (good luck). Please don’t ask him about his genealogical tattoo.

As usual it's all in The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, Ontario