I don’t know about you, but I had hoped that by Christmas we would have seen some light at the end of the tunnel as far as Covid was concerned, but it is not to be. We will be going into the New Year under some sort of restrictions, although I know this is not the case everywhere.
The Trustees have met to discuss the opening of our Groups and the Family History Centre but have reluctantly concluded that it would not be safe to do so in the current climate. Therefore, all our venues and Groups will remain closed until at least Easter when the Trustees will look at the situation again.
Just in case we were able to open in the New Year, we did ask our Groups to put together a programme for 2021. This will be included with your December journal. It is hoped that even with our venues closed, Groups may be able to take their talks online via Zoom. So please either check with the Events page on the website, our Facebook page (BMSGH Members only Family History Group), or via my newsletter.
For our next online talk on December 2 (2pm), Penny Smith, Chairman of our Wolverhampton Group, will be talking about researching criminal records. Penny will outline in this talk how to investigate the criminals in our ancestry. For further details log on to the website https://midland-ancestors.uk/event/online-event-criminal-records/.
Phil has organised an online talk for 20 January at 2pm. John Titterton will be talking about Pinpointing the Origin of a Surname.
John’s presentation looks at surname origins and distribution, explaining how a surname origin can be pinpointed statistically. John has carried out a one name study and traced his surname to a point in North Staffordshire around 1350. As usual, register by first going to the event on the Midland Ancestors Calendar.
I know that some of you do have trouble logging in to the talks. Remember you must download the Zoom app to your computer first before you can join in. www.zoom.us/ download. Open the Midland Ancestors website, www.midland-ancestors.uk, go to the Events tab/calendar and scroll down to the talk you want to view. Click on the word that is highlighted in red, which will take you to the registration page. After you have completed the registration page, Phil will send you a link to the join Zoom. On the day of the talk and at the appropriate time, all you have to do is click on the link in that email and that will take you into the Zoom page. You then wait and Phil will let you into the meeting.
He is willing to do familiarisation sessions if enough people would like to do this. Contact phil to arrange.
FHF-REALLY USEFUL SHOW
To all those of you who visited the fhf-reallyuseful-show online, it was certainly different! Not sure what I expected, but it was all a little surreal. Nobody, of course, could see each other. All we could see from our side was the list of other Societies until a message popped up in our inbox. A learning curve I think you would say but we did get to talk to visitors from across the globe. Hope we were of some help in answering your questions. It could not have been too bad from the organiser’s point of view because they are doing it all again next year on 10 April 2021.
I hope some of you managed to listen to the talks either on the day or afterwards. The actual talks may not come as a surprise to you, but I always think there are little snippets you pick up that are interesting.
On Amelia Bennett’s talk on ‘Hidden in plain site’ she talked about the FamilySearch Catalogue. I am sure we are all familiar with Familysearch, and we know that there are some images available, but normally only through a designated library. (Our own library is an affiliated library where you will be able to view the images when we reopen). Amelia suggests that instead of just using a general search, you use the catalogue and filter for ‘online’ record sets under Availability. There, If there are images available you will see a camera symbol. These are not just limited to Parish Registers or Bishops Transcripts and don’t forget to check out the Familysearch WIKI www.familysearch.org/wiki.
You may not be aware that there is an index of places (mainly parishes) connected to Familysearch. Although it is not complete, it is useful to search for a particular parish. For further information, go to http://www.archersoftware.co.uk/igi/index.htm.
She also recommends viewing Andrew Millard’s indexes to English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Probate Records where you can search for specific probate jurisdiction. http://community.dur.ac.uk/a.r.millard/genealogy/probate.php
I may have mentioned some of these before, but it is always worth looking at:
GENUKI – http://www.genuki.org.uk – Go to County then ‘Towns and Parishes’
Dusty Docs – http://www.dustydocs.com – Covers UK as well as Australia and New Zealand and links to websites containing parish records.
Online Genealogical Index – http://www.ogindex.org – links to records available for each parish.
There was also a talk on The Gentleman’s Magazines, which can be worth investigating. If you have not come across these before, they are very useful if your ancestors are middle and upper-class (could be high class trade). They contain births (not many), marriage and deaths and were first published in 1731 right up to 1922. They are available to view on Ancestry. There is an index available, but Alan Rushton suggests that you use the Hathi Trust website as it is free. https://www.hathitrust.org/
Another tip I may have already mentioned is that on all paid sites you can search their catalogue for free, which of course you can then look at other sites such as UKBMD, freereg, freecen, Parishmouse and if you have Warwickshire ancestors look at Pickard Trepass’s Pink pages, http://hunimex.com/warwick.
Also remember many of the paid sites have free sessions, especially with Christmas coming up, so make a list of what you need to look at, wait until these come along and blitz your list.
With all these websites it is worth ‘drilling down’ their catalogues to see what is available. You never know what you will find lurking underneath!
National Archives are still making available free digital documents at least until the end of the year. https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/digital-downloads/
You may remember from my last newsletter that I mentioned an enquiry I had had about a Worcestershire cricketer. Well, Alan Smith, this is for you! I received this from Tim Jones, the Historian at Worcestershire Cricket Club. “His name was Major (first name) Davis and in his one and only first-class game for Worcestershire, he acquitted himself OK, 29 is a reasonable start for a first knock.
“He played just three second team games for Worcestershire but with little success, however, he had more success playing in The Birmingham league with Stourbridge. It looks like he was a good run getter for them over many seasons, the Birmingham League being the first ‘step down’ from the professional game….so he must have been a pretty good player to have played at that standard for the length of time he did.”
BROMSGROVE – Mike Sharpe
The Bromsgrove Group’s monthly meetings during 2021 will be held on online via Zoom. Full details are contained in the yellow programme booklet, which you will receive with your December journal. Registration links will be posted on the main Midland Ancestors site and the Group’s own website, www.bromsgrovebmsgh.co.uk, nearer the time.
WOLVERHAMPTON – Penny Smith
Wolverhampton Group are moving to new premises in 2021. (See programme booklet for details). The new venue is at Perton, Wolverhampton and there is also a change to day as well. The first meeting is not until the end of March as the venue is closed until then, but if you have not attended the Wolverhampton meeting before or not for some time, please go along and support the Group. Penny has said that if you would like to be added to her email list to be kept up to date regarding meetings at the new venue for 2021, please email Penny on firstname.lastname@example.org.
LONDON – Dave Kerr
The London Branch is finding it very difficult to see when meetings can begin again so in the meantime encourages its members to “zoom in” on the meetings of the other Groups. However, advance planning could suggest that 3rd July 2021 is worth putting in your diary for a potential first meeting. This will allow the winter period of possible high infection to end and, being optimistic, allow for the vaccine distribution start to set in. Of course this depends on the decisions of the SoG and also for transport to and from London to start to look safe. Meetings next year will be talks by members and there are several volunteers so far. Although we can start planning with a little more optimism firmer decisions will have to be taken as the situation becomes clearer.
Steve Freeman tells me that there is an error on the shop page in the December journal. The My Family History Record Book, ref V517v2, should say it is on offer for £8, usually £9.99. The shop price will be correct at £8 from 01/12/20. These make excellent Christmas presents if you want to introduce somebody to family history.
Steve also sends out newsletters on shop sales so If you would like to receive Steve’s regular newsletter, go to the online shop page on the website and sign up.
Can I also remind you that if you pay your subscription by cheque or bank card, could you please add your telephone number just in case Steve has to ring you to get authentication and you may have noticed that we are not using our we are not using our normal address for subs.
On a sad note, can I just mention the deaths of two of our long-standing members. Albert Watkins, who with his wife June were stalwarts of the Society for many years. Albert ran the bookshop and June did my job, General Secretary. The other person to die was Olive Haddleton. Olive was our subscription secretary for many years and was a well-known face at the Birmingham meetings.
Your December journal should be winging its way to you shortly. We are in the middle of transferring the old database to a new model, so hopefully everybody who should be on my mailing list is actually on it, but if you don’t receive your journal within a reasonable time frame, let me know and I will send you another copy.
Finally, I know this has been a very difficult year, and we can all hope that 2021 will be bette, but can I, on behalf of everybody at Midland Ancestors, take this opportunity of wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a safe and Peaceful New Year.