Genealogy news roundup: Berkshire electoral rolls available on Ancestry

By Rosemary Collins, 9 November 2017 - 2:46pm

Plus: Warwickshire family history society announces free war memorials database; Findmypast adds Surrey records; AncestryDNA introduces opportunity to hide DNA matches

The annual records list the people in the county who were qualified to vote

The electoral rolls for Berkshire, dating from 1840 to 1965, have been digitised on Ancestry.

The records consist of a searchable list of names and addresses for those eligible to vote in Berkshire. They are available for every five years, excluding the war years of 1916, 1917 and 1940-1944, and include 2,581,037 names altogether.

The franchise in England was initially limited to men who passed certain property requirements. The restrictions were eased in the 1867 and 1884 Reform Acts and abolished in 1918, when the first women were also given the right to vote.

The older electoral rolls contain notes on how each person is qualified to vote, as well as some additional information such as whether they are qualified to serve as a juror.


Warwickshire family history society announces free memorials database

The names of men commemorated in Warwickshire’s war memorials are now available online thanks to a project from a family history society.

To mark Remembrance Day 2017, Nuneaton and North Warwickshire Family History Society announced that its Great War Memorials Project is now available to view, although new names are still being added.

Since 2013, society member Celia Parton has been leading a team of volunteers in finding, transcribing and researching the names on First World War memorials in the area covered by the society.

The database includes the names and regiments of local men who were killed in the conflict and the local war memorial and Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave or memorial where their name is enscribed. To contribute pictures and information to the project, click here.


Findmypast adds Surrey records

Thousands of records tracing centuries of life in Surrey have been added to Findmypast.

The website’s new collection of 1524-1645 Surrey Lay Subsidies provides the earliest tax records for the county, transcribed from original records held in The National Archives’ E 179 series.

In addition, Findmypast added a searchable index of over 29,000 court records, dating from 1391 to 1835 and taken from four Surrey courts: the Court of Star Chamber, Exchequer Court, Court of Requests and Court of Chancery.

Each entry contains brief details about the case and a reference number, allowing family historians to locate the original records at The National Archives.


AncestryDNA introduces opportunity to hide DNA matches

AncestryDNA has announced that customers will have the opportunity to opt out of seeing and being seen by their DNA matches.

From 2 November, users will be able to log into the website and change their settings so they cannot be seen by those who they might have shared DNA with. This also means they will not be able to view their own DNA matches.

AncestryDNA, which is owned by family history company Ancestry, has the world’s largest autosomal DNA database, with over six million subscribers. Its testing allows users to find out their genetic origins and locate potential family members through DNA matches.

In a blog post, the company said the changes were “in [the] spirit of continually providing customers greater control and choice”.

“While connecting family is one of the main benefits of our service, we also recognize that not everyone is open to discovering their extended family,” it added.


Paisley Poor Law indexes available for free online

The Paisley Poor Law indexes are now available online for free via the Renfrewshire Heritage Centre’s website.

The records cover applications for financial assistance made by those in need to the Paisley Parochial Board, Paisley Parish Council, Paisley Burgh and Abbey Parochial Board between 1839 and 1942.

The index contains the ages and addresses of the applicants, the date of their application and the names of family members.

It is available in the form of a PDF, which researchers can download and search for the name they’re interested in. They can then request the original record from the Heritage Centre using the series number, statement number and applicant’s name. Digital records are available for those who can’t visit the centre in person in exchange for a fee.


The National Archives launches Archives Revealed programme

More funding is available to help archives catalogue their holdings under a new scheme.

Archives Revealed, launched by The National Archives and The Pilgrim Trust, offers grants of up to £40,000 to create catalogues of archival collections. The deadline for applications is 12 January.

In February 2018, scoping grants worth up to £3,000, which allow archives to conduct analysis of their future cataloguing priorities, will be open for applications.

The scheme builds on the success of the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives and uses revised funding criteria including an assessment of the collection’s rarity, historical value, and research value to a variety of audience groups, and the need for it to be catalogued.

Jeff James, chief executive and keeper of The National Archives, said: “Along with The Pilgrim Trust we look forward to working with archives from across the country to support their efforts in cataloguing more of their rich and diverse collections and opening them up for all to use.”


Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine reunites reader with missing research folder

A Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine reader has been reunited with a missing folder of important family history documents after we raised the case in a blog post on our website.

Pauline Thomas (née Lyons) lost the folder, which contained old family photographs, birth, marriage and death certificates and research notes relating to the Lyons family, at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre in 2016, during the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE family history show.

“When I arrived home and realised I had lost my file I felt bereft,” she told WDYTYA? Magazine.

“It contained so much personal and treasured information about my family and family history."

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine reunites reader with missing research folder


Commonwealth War Graves Commission launches new charity

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has announced the foundation of a new charity to preserve the memory of those killed in the two World Wars.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Foundation will offer opportunities for young people to get involved in projects to keep the stories of those who died alive.

A service whistle last used by an officer at the Somme was played as part of the charity’s launch event at Tower Hill Memorial in Trinity Square, London on 7 November.

The Hon Ros Kelly, chair of the new foundation, said: “A century after the First World War, and 75 years since the Second, we need to answer a difficult question – how can we expect a younger generation to remember those they could never have known?

“The answer was to create a new charity, the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation, whose mission it is to tell the stories of those who died, and help keep their memories alive.”

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine reunites reader with missing research folder
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Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine reunites reader with missing research folder
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Appeal for family stories of those killed in the Somme
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