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May 2013

Free Access to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a collection of essays on more than 58,500 noteworthy figures who shaped British history.  It is available on line.  If you are a public library member you can access it freely at home using your library ticket. For more information visit the ODNB website and follow Library Card Login.

2014 Centenary of the Start of World War I

Next year is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War one and to commemorate this we are planning to produce a special edition of the journal devoted to stories from the First World War.  This edition will be in addition to our normal quarterly journals.

So we are appealing for you to send in your stories.  If you had a relative who fought (or who was involved in any other way) in that conflict whether he or she was killed, wounded or was a survivor we want to hear their stories. It doesn’t have to be a long article; one or two paragraphs will be fine, and if you have a photograph to go with it so much the better.

Please send your stories to the War Memorial project co-ordinator or to the Journal Editor.

April 2013

Researchers Beware!! - Recent Changes to the parishes of Austrey, Newton Regis, Seckington, Shuttington and Warton

As if we don’t have enough confusion between “place” and “parish” in our historical research, there is now further misunderstanding on the scene.

On a recent use of the website “A Church Near You” (a quick source of information on churches and their websites), a link to the Austrey church website took me to “All Souls”.  My initial thought was “another Austrey”.  A few more clicks confirmed it was “our” Austrey – incumbent’s address was right. 

My first reaction was “oh bother, they’ve rededicated the church”.  However, a spot of Googling showed that the grouped churches in the benefice: Austrey - St Nicholas, Newton Regis - St Mary the Virgin, Seckington - All Saints, Shuttington - St Matthew and Warton - Holy Trinity now operate as a single parish entitled “All Souls, North Warwickshire”. In 1899 Arnold-Forster’s “Studies in Church Dedications” recorded only twenty churches in England dedicated to All Souls – none in northern Warwickshire although there are plenty of All Saints.

While it is common practice in the 21st century for contiguous parishes to be grouped into a single benefice, each parish in the group normally retains its individuality.  This new “parish” of All Souls does not seem to be recognised by the diocese as, at time of writing, its website lists each traditional parish.  A reliable source at our local registration services advises that they regularly have to query the quarterly marriage returns – the returns are not showing in which church the ceremony was performed: this is key information both legally and for posterity.

While this apparent re-naming is unlikely to affect seasoned researchers, it will utterly confuse new ones seeking historic records for “All Souls” and will probably cause utter mayhem in future releases of registration services marriages, and that will mean no two pieces of evidence found by family historians match for them to have their ‘reasonable proof’.

And on a more historic note…Austrey’s burial register, although continuous, has the years from 1848-1874 unrecorded!  Do you know of any document recording the burials for this extended period?  Plus the holding at Warwick RO for Warton has only a few years of burials – taken from a copy of the BTs.  Should you know of anyone holding any copy registers do please get in touch! It would seem this particular corner of our area is getting very messy!!

For full details of the historical registers for the parishes in our area see the most helpful booklet “Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records: What is Where for the North Warwickshire Church of England Parishes”.

The Case for Willey

Recently the committee has been considering the Society’s constitution so it also reviewed the Society’s working area.  The working area has been considered periodically with occasional changes.

The committee decided to make no radical changes.  The focus will remain on the northern Warwickshire area as per the map reproduced in the journal, the website and elsewhere.  However, one parish had become “stranded” between the NNWFHS area and the county boundary – Willey - it is not geographically large and has a small population.  Why was it left out on the last review?  Probably by accident!

The ancient parish of Willey, with its church dedicated to St. Leonard, has always been civilly Warwickshire.  It was also in the old diocese of Lichfield & Coventry – as was all the NNWFHS area - although the parishes have had diocesan changes since the 1850s.  The parish registers for Willey, starting from 1661, are at Warwick Record Office with microform copies at Rugby Library; the BTs and pre-1858 wills are at Lichfield Record Office.  The burials at St Leonard’s are included in the Burials Series 1 and Series 2 CDs but not in the previous booklet series.

There are three places along the eastern flank of the NNWFHS area that are outside the working area: No Man’s Heath – its ecclesiastical records are at Stafford RO as the church is now closed and the parish aligned with Chilcote; Hydes Pastures – it was part of Hinckley parish; and Wibtoft - a chapelry of Claybrook, Leicestershire, which was in the diocese of Peterborough before the creation of Leicester.  Wibtoft’s church records are at the Leicestershire Record Office in Wigston.  Wibtoft therefore remains outside the NNWFHS working area and probably explains how Willey, to its south-east was overlooked on the last review.

February 2013

High Speed Rail Link (HS2) Y Route through North Warwickshire

The HS2 will eventually cut great swathes through the North Warwickshire countryside, mainly affecting the areas around Coleshill, Water Orton, Polesworth, Kingsbury and Middleton. NNWFHS would appeal to anyone who who lives near to the affected areas to take as many photographs as possible of the countryside and buildings which may be lost for ever before it is too late and send them in to us so that we can publish them on the website and keep copies in our archives.

DNA Evidence Proves Body is Richard III

On the 4th February 2013 the University of Leicester announced it had discovered the remains of King Richard III under a car park in Leicester.

There have been plenty of articles across the media but more family history related detail is available from the horse’s mouth during this live recording (youtube) in which the researchers put forward the evidence and present their conclusions.

National Campaign to Promote Archives

The National Archives and The Records and Archives Association (ARA) are thrilled to announce that we will be launching a new and exciting campaign this year, for the promotion of archives across the country.

The new campaign, a successor to the Archive Awareness Campaign (AAC), will increase public awareness of, and pride in, the work of the archive sector. It will raise the profile of national institutions, local authority record offices, universities, community and private archives. It will highlight the benefits archives bring to communities, the impact they can have on peoples’ lives and seek to encourage a wide range of people to connect with their local history and culture.

To support the delivery of the campaign, ARA has appointed Forster Communications to research and develop a creative concept to inspire everyone – those who already know, those who partly know, and those who know nothing about the essential and inspiring role of archives.

Forster is working with archivists, users and non-users to develop the ideas for the campaign. Forster will produce a creative framework and toolkit to make sure that those who work in archives of all kinds can easily take part in the campaign.

The National Archives and ARA will announce full details of the campaign and how you can get involved in spring 2013.  The main thrust of the campaign will take place in the autumn with activities and promotion at a local and national level.

If you are passionate about archives, and want to encourage learning and enjoyment of your treasures, make sure you join in our campaign!

January 2013

New Research Guides and Podcasts from the National Archives

Where there's a will...
Find out more about how your ancestors lived by exploring details contained in wills with the Wills and probate research guide or listen to the podcast on probate records for family history and beyond.
Tracing Hugenot Ancestors
Those of you with Hugenot ancestors may be interested in listening to this new podcast.
Tracing battalions or regiments of the British Army during the Great War
Another new podcast to listen click here.

Leaving Europe: A new life  in America 

A new exhibition ‘Leaving  Europe: A new life in America’ is available on Europeana, the portal for digitized, cultural  collections from around Europe. It tells the story of European emigration to the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries and is the result of an  exciting collaboration with the Digital Public Library of America. It uses more  than 100 photographs, manuscripts, newspapers, paintings, letters, audio and  government documents to chart peoples’ journeys across the European continent  and their settlement in the United States. Many of these images have rarely been  made available before. Over 30 million  Europeans, from as far north as Scandinavia and as far south as Sicily, set sail to America in the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century.

The  virtual exhibition, organised into seven major themes, describes the very human  experiences and the historical context that different groups of hopeful  immigrants from across Europe faced. Through the exhibition you can accompany  them on their journeys across the Atlantic and into the ports, cities, and local  communities of the United States.

Click the links to go to the Europeana website and view the exhibition or follow the blog.

New Research Resources for Members

Indexes to Coventry Road, Bedworth and Stockingford, Bucks Hill Municipal Cemeteries

These are companions to the Nuneaton & Bedworth Municipal Cemeteries CD [CD1]. This project provides searchable Indexes allowing members to locate their entries on the CD with a minimum of effort. It provides the register entry number, year, the surname and forename of the person buried, together with their age as given in the burial register. For more information or to search the database please log on via the home page, (members only) then go the "Searchable Databases" section on the Members' Pages.  Attleborough index is currently being completed and will be available soon.

Certificates Database

From time to time we all purchase Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates or obtain copies of the Wills related to our families. Whilst these provide the information we require, often to take the next step, they are usually then stored away for future reference.The intention of this database is to provide an index, available to members only, which may be searched by others, prior to ordering a particular certificate.

The database will be operated in a similar way to that of the Members’ Surname Index; each entry will carry the Membership Number of the submitter and this will provide a means of contact. It will be updated on a regular basis and hopefully will provide a valuable research resource. Initially, we intend the scope of the database to be of those families with Warwickshire connections, although all certificate entries are welcome. For more information or to search the database please log on (via the home page, members only) then go the "Certificate Database" which can be accessed via the "Research Resources" section on the Members' Pages.

New Year Honours List 2013

Congratulations to 2 ladies from the family history community who have both received honours in the New Year Honours List.

Pauline LITTON, one of FFHS Vice Presidents has been awarded the MBE for services to genealogy & family history. Pauline has worked tirelessly to help people with their family trees and has been involved in a number of other organisations that are connected with genealogy and family history. Read press release (pdf).

Brenda Murray, a member of the Liverpool and South West Lancashire Family History Society, was awarded the BEM for 'Services to Heritage and History'. Brenda, who is aged 88, is one of the original founders of the Liverpool History Society.

December 2012

News from Belfast’s General Register Office.

On foot of CIGO’s years of lobbying and successful submission delivered before the Northern Ireland Executive’s Finance & Personnel Scrutiny Committee in February 2009, GRONI has now implemented new regulations which allow for all future death registrations to note each deceased person’s parents’ names. Up to now, only the deceased’s date and place of birth was recorded, and even this practice only dated from the end of 1973. The new regulations came into force on Monday, 17th December 2012. You can read the full story here.

RAF Museum to digitise thousands of World War I archive records for 1914-18 centenary

Culture24 have announced that the RAF Museum is to digitise thousands of World War I archive records for 1914-18 centenary.

The Hendon-based museum has received £64,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund to digitise, preserve and provide public access to around 300,000 First World War personnel records as part of a new permanent exhibition exploring the 1914-18 conflict. For more information visit the Culture24 website.

Where are you in your FH research?

I was going through some of my FH files recently when I came across this funny picture which I was given many years ago just as I was starting out in family history research. It made me smile so I thought I would share it. Pat Boucher

New Warwickshire Local Studies Collection at Nuneaton Library

The Warwickshire Local Studies Collection at Nuneaton Library is now available (even though the information on their website has not yet been updated).

The Local Studies Librarian, Louise Essex is only at Nuneaton on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays if you need to speak to her but the collection is in place, with loan items available and reference materials in place to look at in the library.

Old Family Search - gone for good?

For those of you who, like me, hate the new version of the Family Search website, the news is not good. It was reported in the current Lost Cousins newsletter as follows:

Just a few days after my last newsletter, in which I explained how it was still possible to access the old FamilySearch site, it disappeared - probably for ever. Like it or not, we're going to have to learn how to get the most out of the new site which, to be fair, does have some significant advantages - even if it does mean re-learning how we do things.

The fact is, the old site was even harder to use - it's just that most of us eventually discovered how to make the most of what was there. We've done it once - we can do it again!

Note: I've been told that one of the reasons for closing the old site was the cost and unreliability of the ancient hardware. Apparently it cost over $100,000 per month to keep going!

Coventry History Centre - Changes to system for viewing original documents

Rayanne Byatt from the Coventry History Centre contacted us with the following to clarify comments and information previously published on this website:-

The History Centre is operating an appointment system to view original documents Tuesday to Friday. If researchers would like to look at an original document they can request it by phone or email by 3.30pm the day prior to their visit. Documents can be located using the online database at www.coventrycollections.org or by using the catalogues at the History Centre.The History Centre Reading Room (where no appointment is necessary) is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 3.30pm.

For more information click here to visit their website. 

June 2012

Obituary: Beryl Kerby (1925 - 2012)

It is with great sadness that we publish the following regarding the death of Beryl Kerby.

KERBY, Beryl Mary

Former teacher at Stockingford School and Founder of Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre, died peacefully on 30th May 2012.

Funeral Service to take place at the Heart of England Crematorium, Nuneaton, on Tuesday 12th June at 9.45 a.m. No flowers by request, donations if desired for Chilvers Coton Centre Trust may be sent to W. Smith & Sons Funeral Directors, Avenue Road, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV11 4JT. Telephone 02476 382124

To read a transcription of John Burton's Eulogy at Beryl's funeral on 13th June 2012 click here.

May 2012

NNWFHS wins the FFHS Best Small Society Website of Year Award 2011

NNWFHS has won the FFHS Best Small Society Website of Year Award 2011 and I congratulate our webmaster, Pat Boucher along with her wonderful husband Tony, for their many hours of hard work in producing our website.

Philippa McCray of the Federation of Family History Societies came along to the recent family history event at wolvey to present Pat with her certificate.

The website is our communication tool with the big wide world beyond our members; it is also an important port-of-call for members with extensive material available on the members-only section.  When a new section or option is launched, it is not uncommon to hear it has a "response" within minutes of launch proving that out there people are searching for information on north Warwickshire.

A website requires constant maintenance, additions, tweaks - all handled without fuss, palaver or demands for thanks.  It is therefore even more rewarding that Pat's work has been formally recognised by the Federation of Family History Societies.

Well done!   Jacqui Simkins, NNWFHS Hon. Sec.

Hartshill Quaker Heritage Project Appeal

There have been Quakers in Hartshill since the movement's earliest beginnings, with its strong ties with its  founder George Fox who was born at Fenny Drayton in 1624.

Hartshill Quaker Friends are currently putting together a permanent Hartshill heritage display at the Quaker Meeting House (built on the site of the school established by Nathaniel Newton) and they are appealing to anyone who may have old photos of the village that they could copy and use. They also have their own Hartshill panel (a Quaker tapestry project with a heritage theme - a work in progress) and a Quaker costume project depicting Quaker dress from the 17th/18th century

The heritage project is in its infancy at present but if anyone is interested to go and have a look at their progress they would be made very welcome. They hold regular coffee mornings (usually the third Saturday of the month 10 am until 12 noon) when folks can look at the display so far and sit and enjoy a cake and a cuppa!. They also organise heritage walks around the village giving a history of the Quakers of Hartshill.

For more information about Hartshill Quaker Friends visit their page on the Central England Quakers website.

Changes at Nuneaton Library

Nuneaton Library is to become the home of an enlarged local history collection due to reorganisation in the library service.

The material being relocated to Nuneaton Library is the 'Warwickshire Collection' of local history material, largely printed, that has been collected by the library service. It was previously located at Warwick Library at Barrack Street in Warwick along with the similar 'Warwick Collection'.

Due to the downsizing process under way in the library service, including the relocation of Warwick Library into County Hall, the library service has had to relocate this collection.  The 'Warwick Collection' is heading to Leamington Library and the 'Warwickshire Collection' is heading to Nuneaton Library.

Check the Library website for details of when the transferred material will be available.

January 2012

Missing! No Mans Heath Parish Church Marriage Registers

As at January 2012 we are aware that the church copy of the marriage register for 1875-1967 is missing.  We ask anyone with information on the whereabouts of this marriage register to please contact Jacqui Simkins.  We know this register was held at the church in 1981 but was “missing” by 1998 and not found when the church closed in 2006.  The baptism, burial and later marriage registers are with Stafford Record Office as the ecclesiastical parish is now combined with others within Staffordshire. The second copies of the marriage registers 21/7/1875 - 5/8/1967 and 9/4/1972 - 27/4/1996 are held by Nuneaton Register Office but there is no public access to these.

October 2011


The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) provides free public access to the index of events for birth, marriage, death, civil partnership, adoption and overseas records. This information is made available in microfiche format at a number of libraries and record offices across England and Wales.

The list of centres acting as host sites for the complete set of the GRO indexes is being extended to provide greater geographic coverage but, from 28 October, the indexes will no longer be available to view at the London Metropolitan Archives.

From 14 November the list of centres holding a complete set of GRO indexes including those for more recent events will be as follows -

    • Birmingham Central Library
    • Bridgend Local and Family History Centre
    • City of Westminster Archives Centre
    • Manchester City Library
    • Newcastle City Library
    • Plymouth Central Library
    • The British Library.

Further details on the records available can be found on the Directgov website

August 2011

Bob Butler

14th June 1931 - 23rd July 2011 

It is with great sadness I have to mark the passing of one of our stalwart members, and fellow committee member – Bob Butler.  Bob took a remarkable interest in us from the time he joined in 1998, he regularly travelled 21 miles from his home in Solihull and back to attend our meetings, at night and in most weathers.  I do recall meeting up with him at the Birmingham & Midland Genealogy Society in the centre of Birmingham, and at Coleshill when we attended the first meeting of the little group over there. Bob was a champion of genealogy and went beyond the call of duty in pursuing his hobby and helping others become interested in it. Over the years I got to know Bob I recall his kindness and convivial manner, his good nature, above all his commitment. It was total. So much so that in recent years despite failing health he carried on with the role of publications manager for the Society and continued to attend meetings.  He enjoyed our company and we always enjoyed his. It is a bond of mutual affection that will always be there which even after his passing, strengthens the society by setting an example we can carry forward for many years into the future.    I would also like to thank Audrey, Bob’s wife, for her help and support at many of our exhibitions, by Bob’s side, and I wish her strength in her bereavement and the knowledge we all very much appreciate everything Audrey and Bob did for us.   It was wonderful.  Peter Lee, Chairman NNWFHS

May 2011

Digitisation project at the British Library’s Colindale Newspaper Library

Launching in Autumn 2011, the British Newspaper Archive will make millions of pages of historical newspapers available online for the first time – unlocking a treasure trove of material for historians, researchers, genealogists, students and anyone interested in when, where and how our ancestors lived and key periods of historical interest.  You can read more about this at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.  There is a link to some examples of the sort of information that will be available.  You can also register to be kept informed of when the newspapers go online.

Thank You

NNWFHS Members David & Mary Woodroffe write:
We came to your talk on workhouses and enjoyed it very much. We live in Scotland but we visit the midlands for a month to do more research on our family History. At your talk about workhouses we spoke to a number of people, including a lady who lives at Fazley and who was very helpful to us, I am sorry I didn't catch her name but she may remember our conversation. We just wanted to say thank you to you all, and for a very welcoming visit. Since 1996 we have been searching for a church window that we have a painting of (the children of the family were all christened at Fazley church) but we couldn't find the window. What we did do,was meet up with Carol Graham at Fazley church to look into the parish records. We didn't find any reference to our family, so we went on to Stafford record office - still no luck. We found ourselves sitting outside Tamworth Library so we went in and found out from a very kind gentlemen called Chris what we were looking for, and he pointed us in the direction of Glascote church. We were very thrilled the next day to meet the secretary of the church, who showed us the window in the church. We visited the church yard and found a grave belonging to the father of our family. Just by chance we were by Knowle church and went in and found another church window dedicated to another branch of the family. This is all a very long winded story but the moral of the story is you won't always find what you are looking for in the records office but by meeting very kind and like minded people who help along the way. So many thanks to you all. By the way, we visited the Southwell Workhouse on the way home. They are the nicest people running it and are very helpful.
Kind Regards David & Mary Woodroffe. 

Email scam warning from the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies

"It has come to our attention that an email scam is in progress whereby someone masquerading as a representative of IHGS is asking for personal details. They are claiming that a large inheritance could be yours if you supply personal details that could be used for identity fraud. THIS DOES NOT COME FROM US. DO NOT SEND YOUR DETAILS. An example of the fraudulent email is below. Please note that the Institute does not carry out this sort of research and certainly would not do so in this manner."

My name is David Lord and I am a representative of The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (IHGS). Our department deals with issues of genealogy and especially genealogical (family) trees. We discovered several evidences to consider You as a heir of great family (clan) and our client supposes that You might be her relative. In order to identify You as a heir and assure our suggestions and connect You with Your possible relative, we need to check some information. Would You be so kind to tell us Your parents names and Your birthday date as it's obligatory for our research and it is also at Your interest. We are looking forward for Your quick response and commitment! Respectfully Yours, David Lord.

October 2010

New Website Section - Family Trees

Our new website section, Family Trees (which is available to members only via the Members Pages) has been launched with the publication of 3 pdf trees by Kate Keens incorporating her research into the Buckler surname.

If you are interested in having you own family tree published on this website, please contact Pat Boucher.

August 2010

Ancestry get contract to put National Probate Calendars and Wills online. 

Since 1858, the probate of estates has been a matter of civil law.  The lists of probates - called calendars - are prepared annually in alphabetical order.  The information provided includes name of the deceased, their abode, the estate value and to whom probate was granted.  Each year the national probate registry publishes these lists which have been available in a number of archives for the period 1858-1943.  These calendars can be viewed on microfiche at Lichfield Record Office.

Ancestry.co.uk now has scanned images of the probate calendars available online from 1858-1941 although there are some "gaps".  These are searchable by name and date.  The images are of the Calendars, not of the actual wills. Click here to go to the relevant page on the Ancestry website.

Information about ordering copy wills is available at http://www.justice.gov.uk and it is a simple process to order a copy by post once you have the details from the probate calendars.  The fees are currently £5 per item and the Probate Registry aims to meet orders within 21 days.

Wills can be extremely informative for family historians as some detail siblings, children, nephews, nieces, etc. A will can unlock the past and even bring down a long-standing brickwall!

July 2010

A new website launched by The National Archives (TNA) gives clearer, faster and easier access to legislation, from Magna Carta to the latest statutory instruments. At www.legislation.gov.uk you can find details of everything on the statute book, in one place and free of charge.

February 2010

Buying Copies of BMD Certificates

What you need to know to avoid being ripped off when buying copy birth, marriage and death certificates - important information. Read more.

The 1939 National Registration Enumeration

Wish your more recent ancestors were in Scotland? Well, certainly from the cost point of view. 

After the successful challenge under the Freedom of Information Act by Guy Etchells, we have been granted access to the 1939 national identity register for England & Wales (the records amassed during the process of issuing identity cards for WWII).  Wonderful – except each application will cost you a whopping  £42 even when the search is unsuccessful.  Details are available the N H S Information Centre.

However, the Registrar General for Scotland, after an anonymous challenge also under the FoI Act, has recently announced that you can apply for entries from the Scottish register for £13.  For more details click here.

What a huge difference in cost for obtaining the same information, but from a different national office.  What a pity Scotland doesn’t hold the records also for England! Devolution seems to have done little for England/Wales in family history terms!

The original news item from December 2009: A genealogist's challenge under the Freedom of Information Act could unlock records providing a unique snapshot of UK families as World War II broke out.  Read more.


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