Tag Archives: website

Follow-up on new WALTON and HENDERSON family links

Following my last post, I’ve been looking at details about the WIGHAM family, on a website by Benjamin Beck, who John Little cites as the source for “much of the information” on his site (which I linked to last time). And despite my doubts, I have had a reply from John Little!

I found Benjamin Beck’s family history website wonderfully detailed, although a little difficult to get into at first, without a basic overview/chart of the family trees. But his site is certainly one of the best family history websites that I’ve seen in terms of citing its sources. I wish that more were like that. I aspire to be as good as that, and his site gives me some ideas for areas that I might develop on afamilyhistoryblog.

Following a link to one of Ben’s sources about the WIGHAM family, I’ve just started reading the “Memoirs of the Life, Gospel Labours, and Religious Experience of John Wigham”, published in 1842 (3 years after his death). There are two digitised copies of the book available on-line.

John WIGHAM was evidently a prominent member of the “Society of Friends” (or “Quakers”) in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, and his Memoirs express a strong Christian faith. I’m enjoying reading his memoirs, and the spirit-filled faith that he writes about.

In e-mail messages we’ve exchanged, Ben Beck has suggested that I may find the Quaker Family History Society of interest. This is certainly something that I’ll be looking at, as I also have well-known Quakers on the opposite side of my family; the FRYs. (See my ELLIOTT tree).

Based on the WIGHAM family tree, from John Little’s website, John WIGHAM appears to be my 6x Gt-grandfather, on my Granddad’s maternal line (see genealogy below). I have yet to check all the in-between links (which I will be doing). But Benjamin Buck’s site (in particular) is so good in its detail, and in citing all of the source records for his information, that I’m in little doubt about its authenticity.

My line, from John WIGHAM;

  1. John WIGHAM, b. 23 Mar 1749, Hargill House, Coanwood, Haltwhistle, NBL, d. 17 Apr 1839, m. Elizabeth DONWIDDY, b. 24 Mar 1748 Ambroseholm, m. circa 1769, d. 16 Apr 1827 – See; http://benbeck.co.uk/fh/wigham.html#P3.%20JOHN%20WIGHAM
  2. Elizabeth WIGHAM, b. 1779, Burnhouse, Coanwood, Haltwhistle, d. 04 Aug 1854, m. James GLENNY, b. 27 Mar 1777, m. 28 Nov 1798 Kinmuck, d. 31 Jul 1804
  3. Jane or Jean GLENNY, b. 28 Apr 1801 Mill of Lethenty, d. 02 Apr 1848, m. James SMEAL, b. circa 1798, m. 22 Sep 1824 Kinmuck, Aberdeenshire, d. 1847
  4. Jemima SMEAL, b. 11 Sep 1832, d. 19 Nov 1908, m. 19 Jun 1856, James HENDERSON, b. 29 Mar 1833, d. 13 Jul 1893
  5. Helen Urie HENDERSON, b. 15 Apr 1859, d. 28 Aug 1945, m.2. 04 Jun 1890, Edward Arthur WALTON, b. 15 Apr 1860, d. 18 Mar 1922
  6. Elsie Marjorie WALTON, b. 17 Oct 1898, d. 12 Dec 1976, m. 15 Nov 1918, William Oliphant HUTCHISON, b. 02 Jul 1889, d. 05 Feb 1970 (my Great-grandparents).

The WIGHAM family line is traced back another 5 generations.

There are details of the Coanwood Friends Meeting House on Wikipedia.

This is a branch of my family that I, myself, have not yet done very much research into.

What I know about Helen Urie Henderson and her descendants comes largely from family knowledge within my immediate extended family. I have some details of Jemima Smeal, James Henderson and their family (and the names of Jemima’s parents) from a family tree and letters sent to my Granddad by a John Gray, dated 1997. See my WALTON family tree.

All earlier details I have only found in the last few days via John Little’s and Benjamin Buck’s websites. So I still want to go through these details for myself to check that they all fit together.

Thank you, to John Little, and Benjamin Buck, for your websites.

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New WALTON and HENDERSON family links

In the last few days I’ve been looking through some links that Dr Mark Jardine pointed me to, about the Scottish Covenanters – transcriptions of their christening and marriage records, etc. – trying to find anything that could help me to link the Covenanter, James DAVIE (shot dead cir.1673) to the Marion DAVIE who married into my JOHNSTON family, in Bathgate, cir.1720. (See my notes at the bottom of Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON – Part 1 )

I’ve not yet found anything particularly useful in that respect! But as I looked through the Covenanter records list, I noticed one or two surnames from completely the other side of my family cropping up repeatedly. “URIE” was the surname that caught my attention. I know that there is some Quaker influence on this side of my family (see my WALTON tree), so it made me think that there could be a connection!

A book that a friend gave me for Christmas; “The Glasgow Boys, In Your Pocket”, (one of the “Glasgow Boys” – Edward Arthur WALTON, being my 2x Gt-grandfather), also influenced me when I began by doing a web search for ““Helen Urie HENDERSON”” (wife of E.A. WALTON); “URIE” was her paternal grandmother’s maiden name. At the moment when I did the search, Helen’s was the one full name that came to mind! My thought was; could I find anything that might link Helen’s URIE ancestors to those Covenanter records?

Given that Helen was the wife of a well-known artist, I was surprised to find only 4 links in the search results! Two of these were to AFamilyHistoryBlog, which means that this site is doing it’s job (I guess that this post will be added to that list in future). The other two links were to other people’s family trees; one of Helen Urie HENDERSON’s material line, and the other covering the family of Edward Arthur WALTON’s maternal grandparents.

Both of these trees give me quite a lot of new material; names, dates, etc. I can’t yet confirm what they claim. I would like to go through these trees, and their sources carefully, for myself, to check their records. I have e-mailed the authors of both sites, hoping to obtain more details. But I don’t have a lot of hope for a reply from the WIGHAM site (Helen’s maternal line), due to the page having last been updated in October 2002 (another page of this site was last updated in July 2005)!

But for my own record, and for the interests of others, I’m posting the website links below.

If you know any more about these family connections, please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.

 

AFamilyHistoryBlog – new Facebook page

Today I was reflecting on a number of interesting pieces that I’ve either seen, heard, or read, about family history/genealogy in the last couple of weeks. I’ve thought about posting links to some of these onto “AFamilyHistoryBlog” – the website which I’ve been developing for nearly 3 years now. But I haven’t particularly wanted to do so because I want to keep the blog focused primarily on my research into my own family history.

facebook-logo-2Then the idea came to me that I could create a Facebook page where I can easily share links to interesting general articles like these, as well as to “AFamilyHistoryBlog” articles about my own research.

So after a bit of evening tinkering, here is that Facebook page.

This is intended, in part, to be a kind of scrapbook/diary for myself – to collect together such articles that I find of interest.

facebook-logo-1But I would also like to encourage family, and anyone else who’s interested in my family history research, to “Follow” BOTH the WordPress blog (click the “FOLLOW” button in Right-hand column of the website), and the Facebook page (click “LIKE” at the top of the page).

IMG_9478-croppedI will continue posting articles about my own family history research onto AFamilyHistoryBlog and will then share those articles on this Facebook page. But I will also use the Facebook page to quickly share anything else I see of general interest to family history research.

Thanks for FOLLOWING.

Matt.

All known surnames in Matt's ancestry upto his 6x Gt Grandparents
All known surnames in Matt’s ancestry upto his 6x Gt Grandparents

GB1900.org project

This week I heard about a very interesting new project called GB1900.org which needs volunteers to “help save GB place names from being lost for ever”, by helping to transcribe an “estimated three million place-names on early Ordnance Survey maps of Britain”.

So over the last few days I’ve been spending some time (which I would otherwise have not used very productively at my computer!) looking at the map and transcribing the names I find on it. I’ve blitzed my own local area (which now needs others to look at and “confirm” the transcriptions), along with several other places that I know well, and many others that I don’t.

Unfortunately this map is not old enough to show some of the places that I’ve been mentioning on AFamilyHistoryBlog; particularly farms connected with the WALKER family in West Lothian; like Hiddlefaulds.

They are trying to “save GB place names from being lost for ever”. But many names have vannished before the time of the maps that they have here to work on! I hope that perhaps these older maps will be added to the project at some point in the future.

The GB1900 website’s press release (which I’ll copy below) explains things best, along with the site’s Tutorial page. I’m finding this project fun to help with, and would really like to encourage others to get involved.gb1900-site

Press Release; from GB1900.org

Help save GB place names from being lost for ever.

A new online project – GB1900 – is calling for volunteers in Great Britain to help make sure local place-names can live on rather than be lost for ever.

GB1900 aims to create a complete list of the estimated three million place-names on early Ordnance Survey maps of Britain. It will be a free, public resource, of particular use to local historians and genealogists.

The project partners include the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales, and the University of Portsmouth.

On their new GB1900 web site, http://www.gb1900.org, volunteers will work on digital images of all the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey County Series maps of the whole of Great Britain, at six inch to one mile scale. These maps show not just every town and village but every farm, hill and wood – and include names for most of them. The site’s software enables contributors to mark each name by clicking next to it, and then to type in the name itself. They can also add any personal memories they have of the place. To ensure correctness each name needs to be identically transcribed by two different volunteers.

The final list of place names will be not just the most detailed gazetteer ever created for Britain, it will be the world’s largest ever historical gazetteer. It will be released under a Creative Commons licence, making it usable by everyone without charge.

Professor Humphrey Southall, professor of Historical Geography at the University of Portsmouth, said: “We hope to tap into local knowledge about place names around the UK. The more people who can volunteer information through this project, the more we can make sure these names can live on rather than being lost forever.”

“Names of places are a vital key to unlocking the social and linguistic history of the land. They recall agricultural practices and local industries, changed landscapes and lost settlements. They preserve a rich heritage of Welsh- and Gaelic-language forms from across Wales and Scotland, chart the arrival of English, and illustrate interactions between the two.”

The project is based on cymru1900wales.org, which includes all the Welsh place names gathered by that project, and existing cymru1900 transcribers will be able to log in using their existing account information, but the new system needs many new volunteers wanting to work on England and Scotland.

The partners in the GB1900 project are the University of Portsmouth, the National Library of Scotland, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, the National Library of Wales and the People’s Collection Wales.

Some other pieces about this project;

 

Why You Might Want a Personal Genealogy Blog on WordPress

This morning I came across this great article about how to create a Genealogy Blog (like AFamilyHistoryBlog) using WordPress. It includes a lot of facts, that I didn’t know, about just how popular the WordPress service is for creating sites like this. I would encourage people to read it, so I’m sharing the link here;

Why You Might Want a Personal Genealogy Blog on WordPress

“You probably can find dozens of reasons for creating a blog. In addition, you can probably find dozens of companies that will host a blog for you. Given the choices and the reasons available, tryin…

Source: Why You Might Want a Personal Genealogy Blog on WordPress, at Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

wordpress-logoThis is a good follow-up to the article that I wrote a few months ago for my local Family History Society (which I copied onto AFamilyHistoryBlog) about my Creating a Family History Blog.

I would really like to encourage other people to have a go at doing likewise.

Creating A Family History Blog; copy of an article for my local Family History Society newsletter

As I previously mentioned in a “Names of Interest update“, I have written an article about creating AFamilyHistoryBlog for my local Family History Society’s newsletter. The Spring 2016 newsletter featuring my article has just been published, and I’m copying the article to the blog for others to read. The article is (in part) edited from the text on my Intro/Welcome page.

Here it is;

CREATING A FAMILY HISTORY BLOG
by Matt Walker

pic-of-Matt-for-blog-5I’m in my 30’s and have always been interested in my family history. Over perhaps 15 years or so I have been gathering together a lot of research, trees, etc, done by many other people, and have from time to time done research of my own, to verify that done by others, and to add to it where I can.

In January 2014, I was looking back through some of my own family history notes, and through some very old family documents, and I thought that it would be a great idea to create a website about my family history. I have created several blog based websites in recent years, both for myself and for community groups/projects that I’m involved with. So I knew that it would be technically easy for me to setup the basic website.

A “blog” is a “web-log”; a kind of on-line journal. There are several services that will allow anyone with an e-mail to create a free blog, with space to “post” your journal entries, and the ability to create static web pages; e.g. a personal profile, or a welcome page. Among blogger-logo-ithe popular services is wordpress-logoBlogger”, owned by Google – if you already have a Google account for e-mail or YouTube, then you can easy start a “Blogger” blog. Another great service is “WordPress.com”.

My primary motivation for creating a website is to share more widely the details of these old family documents (dating back as far as the early 1700’s). My concern is that if these documents are held in just one small part of the family, then how will other people in the wider family (with a shared ancestry and a shared interest in documents about their ancestors) get to know or hear about such documents, or about the family details that they can contain – details like evidence for family relationships which may be difficult to demonstrate purely from other available records. These documents and the details they contain could remain unknown to many people who would be interested in researching these family histories.

IMG_7620-edBy creating a website I can share scanned images and transcriptions of these family documents for others to find on-line, helping them with their family research, and demonstrating the sources of my information – which sometimes lead me to conclusions that differ from those of others on-line who often appear to have relied only on records like parish registers!

I began my blog as a private, password protected site, because I wanted to build up some content and play with the layout and format before showing it to other people. With blogging services you can often choose and change between a large range of site design “templates”, which you can then customise to varying extents. I also wanted to consult my close family about it before going more public. So it’s only after about 2 years that I’m ready to make my website more public. Blog-screen-shot-2

I deliberately chose a generic name for my site; “A Family History Blog”, because my intention is to include material about all the different branches of my family tree. Other people might be focused on a particular branch or surname, so might wish to use that name in their blog’s title. I was fortunate to get the name I had thought of. You could try to register a variety of different website names and find them all to be taken already! So you’ll probably need something very original!

I hope that my website can become a very collaborative one, with some of my relatives adding details of the information that they have, and the research that they’ve done into our shared ancestors. It is possible with most blogging services to add multiple authors/accounts to a blog, allowing each one to add articles/“posts” to the site, while one account remains overall administrator.

I would advise anyone else thinking of starting their own family history website to think about what your aims are for doing so. This will help to inform what services you use, and the style, layout and content of your site. Also have a look at the numerous other personal family history websites that are out there. As I began my site, I discovered GeneaBloggers-logowww.GeneaBloggers.com which has a list of over 3,000 genealogy and family history-related blogs. It’s well worth looking through some of these to get a sense of the kind of site that you could create. In due course I plan to submit my site for addition to the GeneaBloggers list.

Please have a look at my blog. I would welcome the thoughts/comments of more experienced family history researchers about my site and approach. I would also be happy to speak in my local area, to individuals or small groups, to advise about the practical/technical side of how you can create your own family history website.

You can see my blog at; https://afamilyhistoryblog.wordpress.com

e-mail; [please use the Contact Page of this website]

Matt Walker.

Useful resources;

Blogging services (just a few of many);

Genealogy and Family History blogging;

A new user’s review of FindMyPast

FindMyPast-free-weekendI was tempted last week by the offer of a weekend of free on-line access to “billions of historical records” at FindMyPast.co.uk. And after a great talk at my local Family History Society meeting, by Myko Clelland from FindMyPast, I decided to sign up, give it a go, and see what new things I could find. So I registered, and uploaded a GEDCOM file, with nearly 4,500 people in it. Then I had an initial explore of the site, and waited for the free access weekend to start.FindMyPast-logo

The FindMyPast website was not as good as I had hoped! I’ll explain how I got on as a new user, and in particular the things that frustrated me about the site.

The first thing I found disappointing with the site was that the “Hints” system which FindMyPast advertises as a great way to find new, relevant records to help build up your family tree, only works (currently) when you edit entries, or manually enter new ones. It doesn’t provide hints for the people that you’ve added from a GEDCOM file! FindMyPast should make it clearer before you start that when uploading a GEDCOM file you won’t get “hints” for the individuals in that file.

FindMyPast-hints-imageMy next frustration was that when I did start getting “Hints” (after adding details from paper notes that were missing from the GEDCOM file) – although at first sight many hinted records looked to be relevant, digging deeper revealed that they really weren’t relevant to my tree. A couple of times I added facts to my tree using the hints provided by FindMyPast, but then deleted them again after looking much more closely and checking back on my paper notes of details I’ve previously found! (this largely related to parish registers from the 1700’s).

It appears to me that FindMyPast‘s threshold for matching the information to provide its “Hints” may be set too low! Many of its hints can be very quickly screened out. But the difficulty comes with the ones that you have to dig into much more deeply to detect the inconsistencies. It is so easy to see something that seems to match, and add it to your tree. This could so easily lead to many false paths in numerous family trees.

All known surnames in Matt's ancestry upto his 6x Gt Grandparents

AFamilyHistoryBlog is (in part) my attempt to counter some of these “false” trees that appear on-line, where people have assumed connections to exist between separate records, but without any clear evidence for the connection. I hope that by posting the real evidence that I have from original family documents and other reliable sources, I can help to challenge and correct some of those “false” trees which can so easily develop. I also hope that if and when I follow a false path, my blog will allow others to contact me with any evidence they have, to put me back on the right path.

I had hoped to find many more images of original documents to be available to view on the FindMyPast website. But while it does have images of things like census records (which is useful), it doesn’t seem to have images of the parish registers which I had hoped for! Only the transcriptions of them!

Very often seeing images of the original parish registers (which I have done in the past on microfilm) provides additional clues/evidence that is too often missing from the transcriptions; for instance names of witnesses (who often may have been relatives), or names of places (houses/farms) where the people lived, which can confirm a continuity between different records. Without establishing such continuity between records you often can’t be certain if the name appearing several times in a parish register relates to one person, or to several different people with the same name. It was very common in the past, when extended families often lived geographically close together, to find cousins or second cousins, or uncles/aunts & nephews/nieces, who shared the same names, living in the same parish. So in the records (and more-so in their partial transcriptions) it can be very difficult to tell these individuals apart!

After these initial frustrations with the FindMyPast system, where I was largely trying to find more about earlier ancestors through parish registers, etc – largely the Walkers of Kirkliston (whom I’m currently posting documents about), I decided to change track. I began to have a look at the lines of my ancestry that I can trace least far back. From my 3x Gt-grandparents back, some gaps begin to appear. So I began looking to see if FindMyPast could help fill any of these gaps.

That generation of my tree typically features individuals born in the late 1700’s and particularly the early 1800’s – people who often had their families at the time of the early censuses. So it proved easy to find out some more about some of these ancestors from the UK censuses. In one case I have been able to obtain the maiden name of a 3x Gt-grandmother, where before I only had her married surname.

census-picElsewhere I was able to work out sideways, adding children and other details in the next generation. But this also produced one more frustration with the FindMyPast system. FindMyPast would try to use the census data about a household to identify everyone in the family and use that to update or add individuals in your family tree. But too often it risked duplicating individuals because slight differences in name spelling meant that it didn’t link the person in the census to the person in your tree! And you couldn’t easily compare the full household list in the census with the whole family group in your tree, to check who was there and who was missing.

In one case I added a “son-in-law” from the census to my tree. I already had the son-in-law in my tree, but FindMyPast didn’t connect the two together, or connect the son-in-law from the census to his wife in my tree (who was also in that census entry), but only to his parents-in-law! So “Henry” then appeared twice in my tree – a duplicate! I tried to find out how I could merge the two entries into one! But I couldn’t!

The best help I could find was on a blog by Phil Moir, who is “technical lead for the Family Tree team” at FindMyPast. That helped a little, but wasn’t exactly what I wanted! In the end I had to resort to copying the new details provided by the census, from the “new” Henry, and pasting them into the profile of the “old” Henry, then delete the “new” Henry from my tree. Not very satisfactory! It should be much easier to merge two “profiles” into one.

FindMyPast-screen-print2Another example of the problem with FindMyPast‘s handling of census records is where a child in a family had died. Then a new child was given the same name, which was common when child mortality was high – in this example “William”. The 1891 census records the younger William (b.1886). But the FindMyPast system picks up on the older “William” in the family tree (b.1867), who had died (1871) before the 1891 census, and attempts to persuade you to change his date of birth to that of the younger James, who is in the census and on your tree. If you were to follow through on FindMyPast‘s advice and update “William’s” details based on the census record, then you would have two “William”s with the same approximate date of birth in the family group. This would then look like a duplicate of one individual (similar to what I described above), when in fact they were two different individuals, with a wide gap between dates of birth.

You really need to be able to compare the census records, and what FindMyPast is hinting you to change in your tree, side-by-side with the WHOLE family group that you currently have in your tree. You need to be better able to see the context of the wider family into which you’re being prompted to add new details of an individual. As far as I can see at the moment the best that you can do is to switch between the “merge” page and the “family view”, in separate browser tabs. This isn’t satisfactory. You should be able to view them side-by-side, in the same tab, in order to fully check how the details in the hinted record compare to the family group that you already have in your tree.

So, to summerise my experience; while FindMyPast could be very useful as a research tool, the frustrations that I’ve had as a new user trying it out for the first time, mean that I can only give it 2 stars! ★★☆☆☆

The free Family Tree Builder app is great and I’ll probably continue to play with it, adding material that I’ve got elsewhere. It looks great. I just wish it was a bit easier to navigate between different branches of my tree. A tab at the top of the “family view” that would let you get quickly to an index of all the individuals in your tree would be great for that.

The available records that you can search is also good. But I think that the systems of “Hinting” records, and of merging record details into your own family tree needs improvement (I realise that this is sure to be a very technically challenging thing to get right!).

So I think that I am unlikely to take out any kind of subscription to FindMyPast until I can see them ironing out many of the frustrations that I’ve mentioned above. Once they do, it’ll be a really great tool.

 

Going Live

wordpress-logoHaving talked about the idea for this website, and shown my off-line version of it to some of the family over the 2014 Christmas period (they gave it a big thumb’s up), I set about turning it into a “live”, on-line website. It turned out to be rather more awkward than I had thought, to transfer the material I had from the off-line program to the on-line website account! But with quite a lot of work, and some tweaks and additions on the way, A Family History Blog is now LIVE on the web.

under-construction-1I will be asking all my close family to have a look at the site over the next few weeks, and to let me know what they think of it. One of my biggest challenges in making the site live was in amending all the site’s internal web-links; the links from one page or blog-post to another. I hope that as people explore the site, they will test these internal links and will let me know if they find any “broken” ones – either via the contact form, or in the comments below this post.

I expect to continue working on the site over the next few weeks, tweaking what I’ve got, adding some new elements, and perhaps changing the appearance to try out different WordPress themes.

Back to it!

Its nearly a year since I had the idea for this blog, and after a number of months of not doing anything much with the blog, or in researching my family history generally, I’m having a fresh look at it. As I’ve said on the Intro page, I’m not a regular blogger and I expect my posts to this site to be sporadic – associated with short bursts of research.

With Christmas 2014 approaching, I thought that I would just do a couple of web searches related to different parts of my family tree to see if anything new popped up! The first few searches (of places associated with the WALKER line) yielded nothing new! But then I turned to the opposite side of my family tree; to the MAWER family. This immediately led to records with a lot of new details, thanks mostly to new websites (or at least ones I had not found before) which make historic records much more easily accessible.

I’ll plan to write up what I’ve found about the MAWERs in the new year.

But this made me think again about developing this blog (which at the time of writing remains as an off-line draft!). So I’ve been going back over the site and some of the articles that I wrote earlier in 2014, tweaking a few little things here and there! I hope to post some more content going into the new year, and get this website into a shape to go live on the internet early in 2015.