Ancestry Blog http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:57:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 10 Rare English Surnames About to Go Extincthttp://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/10-rare-english-surnames-about-to-go-extinct/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/10-rare-english-surnames-about-to-go-extinct/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:56:37 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=118 Did you know that surnames can go extinct just like species do? Think about it: do you know anyone these days named Chaucer? One historical reason for surnames becoming extinct was World War I. Often, men who were friends and neighbors served together; when there were mass casualties, a village or town might lose a… Read more

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10 rare english surnames

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Did you know that surnames can go extinct just like species do? Think about it: do you know anyone these days named Chaucer?

One historical reason for surnames becoming extinct was World War I. Often, men who were friends and neighbors served together; when there were mass casualties, a village or town might lose a whole generation of their men. Because names at that time were often specific to an area, a name could be almost completely eliminated.

There are less drastic reasons for a surname’s disappearance as well. Sometimes, a name is changed over time, or a male line may simply die out.

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Since 1901, about 200,000 names have disappeared altogether from England and Wales, according to a study conducted by Ancestry.co.uk. These include

  • Chips
  • Hatman
  • Temples
  • Raynott
  • Woodbead
  • Nithercott
  • Rummage
  • Southwark
  • Harred
  • Jarsdel

Hundreds of other English surnames are “endangered” — so rare that fewer than 50 people in England and Wales have them — and many more may be extinct within a couple more generations. These include

  1. Pober
  2. Mirren
  3. Febland
  4. Nighy
  5. Grader
  6. Bonneville
  7. Gruger
  8. Carla
  9. Fernard
  10. Portendorfer

Actress Helen Mirren, whose name is on that list, was born with the last name Mironoff, which her Russian father Anglicized to Mirren. Actors Hugh Bonneville and Bill Nighy also have endangered surnames.

Names that are dying out the fastest these days, as compared to the 1901 UK census, include the surname William, which in 1901 was the 374th-most common surname. In that year, one in every 1,000 people had the surname William; now, not 1 in 50,000 people in the UK does, a 97 percent decreased in prevalence. Other names dying out in the UK include:

  • Cohen (-42%)
  • Ashworth (-39%)
  • Sutcliffe (-36%)
  • Clegg (-34%)
  • Butterworth (-34%)
  • Crowther (-34%)
  • Kershaw (-34%)
  • Brook (-34%)
  • Greenwood (-32%)
  • Haigh (-31%)
  • Pratt (-31%)
  • Nuttal (-30%)
  • Ingham (-30%)
  • Ogden (-30%)

More people researching their roots today has led to an interest in preserving rare surnames, and as a result, more people are using hyphenated surnames in England. In 1901, “double-barreled names” were used only by the upper class, and just 1 in 50,000 people had one. Today, 1 in 50 people has a hyphenated surname, and almost half of them say it’s to preserve a family surname.

—Leslie Lang

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4 Types of French Surnames: Which One Is Yours?http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/4-types-of-french-surnames-which-one-is-yours/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/4-types-of-french-surnames-which-one-is-yours/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:00:59 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=84 Is your last name French? Did you ever wonder where it came from and how your family got it? The most common French surnames for people born between 1891 and 1990 were: Martin (patronymic; after the most popular French saint, Saint Martin of Tours) Bernard (patronymic; from the given name, which is of Germanic origin)… Read more

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french surnames

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Is your last name French? Did you ever wonder where it came from and how your family got it?

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The most common French surnames for people born between 1891 and 1990 were:

  1. Martin (patronymic; after the most popular French saint, Saint Martin of Tours)
  2. Bernard (patronymic; from the given name, which is of Germanic origin)
  3. Thomas (patronymic; from the medieval given name of Biblical origin, meaning twin)
  4. Petit (a descriptive name; from the French adjective for “small” or “little”)
  5. Robert (patronymic; from the Germanic given name meaning “renown,” “bright,” “famous”)
  6. Richard (patronymic; from the Germanic given name meaning “powerful,” “strong”)
  7. Durand (a descriptive name; “steadfast;” from the Old French durant, “to endure,” “last”; or someone from a place called Durand in former Szepes County in Hungary)
  8. Dubois (A geographic name for someone living in a wood, from du + bois or “from the” + “wood”; in English, often translated as the name Wood)
  9. Moreau (a descriptive type of name meaning “dark-skinned;” literally, “son of the Moor”)
  10. Laurent (a geographic name; from the Roman surname Laurentius, which meant “from Laurentum,” which was an ancient Roman city)

In France, surnames were first used in about the 11th century to distinguish between people with the same given name, though it was centuries before their use was common.

So how did your ancestors get their French surnames? Most can be traced back to one of four types:

1. Patronymic/Matronymic

This is the most common type of French last name, and it’s simply based on a parent’s given name. Patronymic surnames were based on the father’s name and matronymic ones on the mother’s. It was common for people to distinguish between two people with the same first name by referencing their parents (usually the father). In general, the mother’s name was used only if the father was unknown.

This type of name was formed in a few different ways. French prefixes that mean “son of”—which attach, of course, to the start of a name—include de and fitz (from the Norman). To use the list of common French surnames above as an example, someone named Pierre whose father’s name was Robert might become known as Pierre de Robert or FitzRobert. Or a suffix may have been added to the parent’s name, such as -eau, -elin, -elot, -elle, or -elet, all of which indicated “little son of.”

Most patronymic names, though, did not take prefixes or suffixes. Robert’s son Pierre might just be known as Pierre Robert.

For many generations, these “surnames” did not pass down; each generation took their father’s given name as their surname until, eventually, governments decreed that a surname would be hereditary. That is when, for the most part, the same surname started passing down through each generation.

2. Occupational Surnames

It was also very common to distinguish individuals by referring to their jobs or trades. Some French occupational surnames include:

  • Berger — shepherd
  • Bisset — weaver
  • Boucher — butcher
  • Brodeur — embroiderer
  • Caron — cartwright
  • Charpentier — carpenter
  • Chevrolet — goat farmer
  • Couture — tailor
  • Fabron — blacksmith
  • Faucheux — mower
  • Fournier — baker
  • Gagne — farmer
  • Granger — farm bailiff
  • Lefebvre — craftsman (usually a blacksmith)
  • Marchand — merchant
  • Mercier — trader
  • Mullins — miller
  • Paquet — gatherer or seller of firewood
  • Page — servant or page
  • Pelletier — fur trader
  • Segal — grower or seller of rye

3. Descriptive Surnames

A descriptive surname is based on a quality that describes a person and sometimes developed from a nickname.

  • Petit — small
  • Legrand — the big one
  • Leblanc — the blonde one
  • Brun — someone with brown hair or a brown complexion
  • Donadieu or Donnadieu (“given to God”) may have been the name of a child given to a priest or monastery or because they were orphaned

4. Geographical Surnames

Geographical surnames described where a person lived or hailed from, such as:

  • Beaulieu — beautiful place
  • Beaumont — beautiful hill
  • Chastain — near certain chestnut trees
  • Comtois — from Franche-Comte, a province in eastern France
  • Deschamps — from the fields
  • Dupont — by the bridge
  • Desmarais — by the marsh
  • Dupuis — by the well
  • Linville — from Linivilla, now Ninville, France
  • Marseille — many people have the name of this major French city as their surname
  • Paris — from Paris
  • St. Martin — from St. Martin
  • Travers — near a bridge or ford

You can search for your family’s French name, its origin and meaning, French guillotine records, and much more at Ancestry.

—Leslie Lang

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Down the Mine at 89: Working Life of Elderly Victorians Revealedhttp://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/down-the-mine-at-89-working-life-of-elderly-victorians-revealed/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/down-the-mine-at-89-working-life-of-elderly-victorians-revealed/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:00:55 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=79 Analysis of historic census records reveals the majority of over-65s in Victorian England worked full-time – Ancestry Victorian census reveals farmers, miners, servants and cleaners in their eighties or nineties More than half (57 per cent) of people had to work beyond the age of 65 compared to just 10 per cent today Records also show how so-called… Read more

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Analysis of historic census records reveals the majority of over-65s in Victorian England worked full-time – Ancestry

  • Victorian census reveals farmers, miners, servants and cleaners in their eighties or nineties
  • More than half (57 per cent) of people had to work beyond the age of 65 compared to just 10 per cent today
  • Records also show how so-called ‘NEETs’ were virtually nonexistent in 1891

Working beyond the state pension age may be a concern for many today, but new research shows just how much harder the Victorian over-65s had it, with many working as miners, servants and cleaners into their 80s and 90s.

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The findings, from family history website Ancestry, were revealed through a study of the millions of records in the 1891 Census, which lists the names, ages and occupations of everyone in Britain’s workforce at the time, highlighting historic trends in employment.

Measured against today’s statistics, the census data shows that the number of elderly people working has decreased sharply since the end of the 19th century, with only 10 per cent of over-65s today still working compared to 57 per cent in 1891.[i]

And while today many elderly workers are generally given less physically demanding work to do, in 1891 men such as Robert Barr from Kilbarchan, Scotland, were still mining for coal at the age of 89. Other examples include James Andrews and Francis Appleby, who are listed as agricultural labourers aged 90, and men like John Stevens, 82, from Dorset, and Robert Miller, 90, from Nottingham, a carpenter and general labourer respectively.

John Stevens and other older workers on the 1891 Census.

John Stevens and other older workers on the 1891 Census.

Similarly, the Census reveals many examples of women working into old age, with common occupations including servants, laundresses and cleaners, such as Priscilla Abbott from Plympton who still worked as a domestic helper at the age of 85.

When separated to reflect gender, the employment rates from 1891 show the different prospects for men and women at the time. Whilst 33 per cent of women over 65 worked in Victorian England, for men the number was much higher, with 88 per cent of all men still working.[ii]

Currently the Government is pushing back the age of retirement for those currently working from 65 to 70, largely due to increased life expectancy and living costs.

In the Victorian era however, the concept of ‘retirement’ didn’t exist, and a lack of state pension or welfare funds meant that elderly people had no support unless they had financial help from relatives. For most working-class people, the only options were work or the workhouse, which forced many people into continued employment no matter how old they were.

Thankfully, attitudes slowly began to change around the turn of the 20th century, and legislation such as the Old Age Pensions Act 1908 and the National Insurance Act of 1911 became the first steps towards Government protection of the economically vulnerable by giving those aged 65 financial support if they suffered ill health.

As well as showing huge numbers of elderly workers, the research also highlighted the virtual nonexistent youth unemployment in 1891, with almost every young person not in education involved in some kind of work: 82 per cent of 16/17 year olds were employed in 1891 (compared to 22 per cent today), and 79 per cent of 18-24 year olds had jobs (compared to around 60 per cent today).[iii]

Ancestry Senior Content Manager Miriam Silverman comments: “We may be facing a ‘retirement crisis’ today but it is nothing compared to what Victorian workers experienced, with this research providing a shocking picture of the struggles elderly people faced in their day to day lives.”

“It’s thanks to the millions of historic census records on Ancestry that we are able to uncover important social trends such as this. Many of us today will have ancestors who worked well into old age, so now is the perfect time to go online and discover what they did during their ‘golden years’.”


[i] According to an audit of 1007 records on Ancestry from 1891 Census, 57 per cent of those listed as over 65 were employed. According to ONS, the employment rate for those over 65 is 10.1 per cent (published 11 June 2014).

[ii] According to the audit (see footnote 1), 88 per cent of men over the age of 65 were employed, compared to 33 per cent of women

[iii] The audit showed that 82 per cent of 16-17 year olds and 79 per cent of 18-24 year olds were employed full time in 1891.

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It’s All His Fault! Traditions Behind Your Family’s Weird Nameshttp://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/its-all-his-fault-traditions-behind-your-familys-weird-names/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/its-all-his-fault-traditions-behind-your-familys-weird-names/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:41:16 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=74 “That’s so unusual – is it a family name?” Anyone with an out-of-the-ordinary moniker hears this question often. However, a little research may reveal a family tree peppered with even more unusual names and the reasons behind them. Here are some common naming traditions that may help unlock the mystery behind your family’s weird names.… Read more

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Millard Fillmore (public domain photo; Wikimedia Commons)

Millard Fillmore (public domain photo; Wikimedia Commons)

“That’s so unusual – is it a family name?”

Anyone with an out-of-the-ordinary moniker hears this question often. However, a little research may reveal a family tree peppered with even more unusual names and the reasons behind them. Here are some common naming traditions that may help unlock the mystery behind your family’s weird names.

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Like mother, like daughter

One common way to preserve women’s family names in a patrilineal society was to give a daughter the first and maiden names of her mother. Upon the daughter’s marriage, she would retain her maiden name and add the married one, thus ending the confusion of two women with exactly the same name. Except, sometimes that didn’t happen.

A famous example of this is the mother and daughter at the heart of Grey Gardens, the 1975 Maysles brothers documentary, later adapted into a Broadway play and HBO film. Both women were named Edith Bouvier Beale, and since the daughter never married, they were known as “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” to avoid confusion.

Last names as first names

Another way for many mothers to maintain links with their own families after marriage was to give a son their maiden name as a first name. This was especially common in the 18th and 19th centuries, though it remains popular today, particularly if the mother’s maiden name doubles as a common first name.

Photo credit: Laurence Simon / CC BY 2.0

Photo credit: Laurence Simon / CC BY 2.0

One well-known historical example of this is President Millard Fillmore, whose mother was Phoebe Millard. President Fillmore perpetuated the tradition into a third generation, naming his son Millard Powers Fillmore.

A well-known fictional example comes from the pen of Edith Wharton, author of The Age of Innocence. The story’s protagonist, Newland Archer, takes his name from his mother’s family. Other examples include Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet’s love interest in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Darcy’s cousin is Colonel Fitzwilliam, indicating that Darcy has been given his mother’s maiden name as his first name.

When “Junior” isn’t the firstborn

Legacy names are often bestowed on the first male child. However, this is not always the case. Some cultures have the tradition of naming the eldest boy for the grandfather or another elder male relative. This is often true in Irish, Greek, and Eastern European families.

A current example exists in the Rooney family, owners of the Steelers football team. Art Rooney Sr., had four sons. The eldest, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, was named for Art senior’s father. It was the second son who was named Art Rooney Jr., and Art has carried the legacy name on with his own son.

Frick family in the 1910 census (Image courtesy Ancestry.co.uk)

Frick family in the 1910 census (Image courtesy Ancestry)

Sometimes families combined multiple naming traditions, making things all the more confusing. Industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his wife, Adelaide Howard Childs Frick, had two sons. The elder was named Childs, using the convention of carrying over the mother’s maiden name. The younger son, who did not survive to adulthood, was named Henry Clay Frick Jr.

By Melanie Linn Gutowski

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There Are 7 Types of English Surnames — Which One Is Yours?http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/there-are-7-types-of-english-surnames-which-one-is-yours/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/there-are-7-types-of-english-surnames-which-one-is-yours/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:38:02 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=70 Many of us have surnames passed down to us from ancestors in England. Last names weren’t widely used until after the Norman conquest in 1066, but as the country’s population grew, people found it necessary to be more specific when they were talking about somebody else. Thus arose descriptions like Thomas the Baker, Norman son… Read more

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english surnames

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Many of us have surnames passed down to us from ancestors in England. Last names weren’t widely used until after the Norman conquest in 1066, but as the country’s population grew, people found it necessary to be more specific when they were talking about somebody else. Thus arose descriptions like Thomas the Baker, Norman son of Richard, Henry the Whitehead, Elizabeth of the Field, and Joan of York that, ultimately, led to many of our current surnames.

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There are perhaps 45,000 different English surnames, but most had their origins as one of these seven types.

Occupational

Occupational names identified people based on their job or position in society. Calling a man “Thomas Carpenter” indicated that he worked with wood for a living, while someone named Knight bore a sword. Other occupational names include Archer, Baker, Brewer, Butcher, Carter, Clark, Cooper, Cook, Dyer, Farmer, Faulkner, Fisher, Fuller, Gardener, Glover, Head, Hunt or Hunter, Judge, Mason, Page, Parker, Potter, Sawyer, Slater, Smith, Taylor, Thatcher, Turner, Weaver, Woodman, and Wright (or variations such as Cartwright and Wainwright) — and there are many more.

This kind of name also gave a clue about whom a servant worked for. Someone named Vickers might have been a servant to Mr. Vicker, and someone named Williams might either have served a William or been adopted by him.

From the obscure fact department: In medieval England, before the time of professional theater, craft guilds put on “mystery plays” (“mystery” meaning “miracle”), which told Bible stories and had a call-and-response style of singing. A participant’s surname — such as King, Lord, Virgin, or Death — may have reflected his or her role, which some people played for life and passed down to their eldest son.

Describing a personal characteristic

Some names, often adjectives, were based on nicknames that described a person. They may have described a person’s size (Short, Long, Little), coloring (Black, White, Green, or Red, which could have evolved into “Reed”), or another character trait (Stern, Strong, Swift). Someone named Peacock might have been considered vain.

From an English place name

A last name may have pointed to where a person was born, lived, worked, or owned land. It might be from the name of a house, farm, hamlet, town, or county. Some examples: Bedford, Burton, Hamilton, Hampshire, Sutton. Writer Jack London’s ancestor may have hailed from London.

From the name of an estate

Those descended from landowners may have taken as their surname the name of their holdings, castle, manor, or estate, such as Ernle or Staunton. Windsor is a famous example — it was the surname George V adopted for the British royal family.

From a geographical feature of the landscape

Some examples are Bridge, Brooks, Bush, Camp, Fields, Forest, Greenwood, Grove, Hill, Knolles, Lake, Moore, Perry, Stone, Wold, Wood, and Woodruff. Author Margaret Atwood is probably descended from someone who lived “at the wood.”

Patronymic, matronymic, or ancestral

Patronymic surnames (those that come from a male given name) include Benson (“the son of Ben”), Davis, Dawson, Evans, Harris, Harrison, Jackson, Jones (Welsh for John), Nicholson, Richardson, Robinson, Rogers, Simpson, Stephenson, Thompson, Watson, and Wilson.

Matronymic ones, surnames derived from a female given name, include Molson (from Moll, for Mary), Madison (from Maud), Emmott (from Emma), and Marriott (from Mary).

Scottish clan names make up one set of ancestral surnames. These include Armstrong, Cameron, Campbell, Crawford, Douglas, Forbes, Grant, Henderson, Hunter, MacDonald, and Stewart.

Signifying patronage

Some surnames honored a patron. Hickman was Hick’s man (Hick being a nickname for Richard). Kilpatrick was a follower of Patrick.

Wondering whether your family name is English? Try plugging your surname into the Ancestry Last Names Meanings and Origins widget. Type in the surname “Duffield,” and you’ll see it’s English, a “habitational name from places in Derbyshire and East Yorkshire, so named from Old English Dufe ‘dove’ + feld ‘open country.’”

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Titanic Mystery Solved with DNA Testinghttp://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/titanic-mystery-solved-with-dna-testing/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/titanic-mystery-solved-with-dna-testing/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:28:17 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=62 DNA solved a 70-year-old question of whether Loraine Allison survived the Titanic crash. Many have wondered what happened to the two-year-old little girl who disappeared from the crash more than 100 years ago. The story begins with Hudson and Bess taking their two kids, Trevor, seven months, and Loraine, two years of age, across the… Read more

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DNA solved a 70-year-old question of whether Loraine Allison survived the Titanic crash. Many have wondered what happened to the two-year-old little girl who disappeared from the crash more than 100 years ago.

The story begins with Hudson and Bess taking their two kids, Trevor, seven months, and Loraine, two years of age, across the Atlantic on the Titanic. At the time of the sinking, it is said that Trevor was rushed to a lifeboat by their maid and that the other three died on the boat. However, only Hudson’s body was found, leaving the mystery of what happened to Loraine and her mother.

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The New York City Herald covered the sinking tragedy on April 16, 1912. (Credit: Library of Congress)

The New York City Herald covered the sinking tragedy on April 16, 1912. (Credit: Library of Congress)

The unknown remained until 28 years later when Helen Kramer came forward on a radio show called “We the People”, and said that she was the two-year-old missing girl. Only a few of the distant relatives believed her story, but immediate family members denied the claims and kept her out of the inheritance.

When Helen died in 1992 the claims seemed to have died with her. However, in 2012 the granddaughter of Helen, Debrina Woods, resurfaced the claims by saying she had inherited more evidence from her grandmother and that the truth should be told.

With all of this evidence, and with a desire to solve this case, a group of Titanic researchers put together a project to help unlock the mystery.

They did just that, by convincing descendants from each family to have a DNA test done.

The results from the tests show that there is not a relationship between the two families, suggesting that this was a hoax or a complete misunderstanding.

We don’t want to downplay the tragedy of this story to those involved but rather highlight that we have a tool that will help us unlock the mysteries of our past with DNA testing.

This isn’t the first time DNA has helped provide evidence to disprove a connection to a historical claim. DNA testing disproved Anna Anderson’s claims that she was Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II. Similar to the Kramer story, researchers found multiple people from both sides of the family in question and had them take a DNA test. No DNA was shared, disproving a relationship.

What questions have you always wondered about in your family?

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New Warwickshire Parish Recordshttp://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/new-warwickshire-parish-records/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/new-warwickshire-parish-records/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:25:06 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=57 Wherever you are in the old county of Warwickshire, you’re surrounded by history – from the Cathedral in Coventry, to Rugby School, to Warwick’s Tudor houses. The region has played host to some of our most important figures – William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, while it’s said that the Gunpowder Plot was hatched in… Read more

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Wherever you are in the old county of Warwickshire, you’re surrounded by history – from the Cathedral in Coventry, to Rugby School, to Warwick’s Tudor houses. The region has played host to some of our most important figures – William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, while it’s said that the Gunpowder Plot was hatched in Warwick. Now you can discover your family’s part in this fascinating tale, with our NEW Warwickshire parish records, 1502-1984.

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These comprehensive lists of baptisms, marriages and burials, created in parish churches, take you right back to the time when Catholicism was the established religion, before Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of monasteries such as Nuneaton Priory and Coombe Abbey near Coventry. For the next 300 years the Church was the centre of the local community – so its registers reflect the ups and downs of parish life.

Because these new records overlap with our civil birth, marriage and death indexes, they let you pick up your family’s story where those more recent records leave off in 1837. You could start by searching for a relative that you’ve already found in the civil indexes, to pinpoint the church where they were baptised or buried.

Often, families stayed in the same parishes for generations. So, once you’ve located that first ancestor, you can move back through the centuries, following the twists and turns in your family’s story.

Of course, this is just the latest in our series of parish releases. In the past few months, we’ve also released local collections from West Yorkshire, London, Dorset, Liverpool and Ireland. These add to millions of parish records already at our site.

See all our parish collections

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New Dorset Records – Are You Descended from Pirates?http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/new-dorset-records-are-you-descended-from-pirates/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/new-dorset-records-are-you-descended-from-pirates/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:21:51 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=55 Abandon all hope, ye who enter Ancestry today. There be pirates about, and they be thirsty for your blood. Actually, strictly speaking, we’re hoping that our pirates already share your blood. These scurvy dogs – who appear as part of nine new Dorset record collections we’re launching today – are real historical people who could… Read more

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Dorset historical records

Abandon all hope, ye who enter Ancestry today. There be pirates about, and they be thirsty for your blood.

Actually, strictly speaking, we’re hoping that our pirates already share your blood. These scurvy dogs – who appear as part of nine new Dorset record collections we’re launching today – are real historical people who could be your relatives.

Piracy was rife off England’s south coast right up into the 18th century. Dorset’s coves, caves and sandy beaches were the perfect hiding place for buccaneers and brigands and their ill-gotten loot. That means you stand a good chance of spotting these seadogs in our three new criminal collections.

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Whether your family’s black sheep committed their crimes on land or sea, our Calendars of Prisoners, 1854-1904 take you back to their trials – and often include detailed accounts of their offences. Then our Transportation Records, 1730-1842 and Prison Registers, 1782–1901 let you uncover how they coped with their punishment.

But our new records aren’t all about burglars and bandits. There’s plenty of opportunity to learn about ordinary law-abiding folk as well – and gain a rare insight into their everyday lives.

Our Jury Lists, 1719–1922 reveal the very people who upheld the law, and our Militia Records, 1757–1860 remember those who defended the community. Meanwhile, our Land Tax Returns, 1780–1832 provide a virtual census of everybody in the local area.

See all our Dorset collections

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New London records – Freemen of the Cityhttp://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/new-london-records-freemen-of-the-city/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/new-london-records-freemen-of-the-city/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:13:57 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=51 When it comes to family history, London is definitely a special case. To have a realistic chance of finding ancestors in most other parts of the UK, you need to have some sort of local connection. With the capital, though, it’s worth anybody searching the records – because so many people owned businesses or second… Read more

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When it comes to family history, London is definitely a special case. To have a realistic chance of finding ancestors in most other parts of the UK, you need to have some sort of local connection. With the capital, though, it’s worth anybody searching the records – because so many people owned businesses or second houses in the City, or moved there in search of a better life.

Our latest London release will help you discover the most prominent people in all kinds of occupations and trades – across more than 200 years. It also gives you a remarkable insight into an ongoing capital tradition.

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London Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1925, reveals almost 600,000 men and women who were given one of the City’s most prestigious titles. These Freemen were allowed to vote in civic elections, drive livestock over London Bridge, and even carry a naked sword in public!

More importantly, becoming a Freeman gave you an elevated standing within all kinds of occupations. From constables and aldermen to merchants and stonemasons, people from all walks of life benefitted from this exclusive status.

Find relatives among our Freemen, and you’ll discover intimate details about their lives. You may also find information about the people that taught them their trades – effectively giving them the chance to earn a decent living.

And remember, even if your family didn’t live in London, there’s a good chance they may have moved there to take advantage of the opportunities only the capital could offer.

Search the records now

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1911 Census – Start Searching!http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/1911-census-start-searching/ http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/1911-census-start-searching/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:06:29 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/?p=47   Good news this week for everyone in Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, plus the millions all over the UK with roots in those areas. We’ve completed the first part of our 1911 Census transcriptions – and you’re the ones to benefit. Right now, everyone can search for ancestors in Wales and the… Read more

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Good news this week for everyone in Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, plus the millions all over the UK with roots in those areas. We’ve completed the first part of our 1911 Census transcriptions – and you’re the ones to benefit.

Right now, everyone can search for ancestors in Wales and the Crown dependencies just as you would with our other census records. Just type in a name, give your best guesses of things like birth dates and places, and see what you can find.

Many of you have commented before that we tend to start with English records. We’ve taken these observations on board, which is why we’ve concentrated first on other parts of the UK this time.

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It’s obviously great news if you’re one of the three million people in those areas. However, the popularity of surnames like Evans, Jones and Davies shows how the Welsh in particular have spread all over the UK. If you have connections to London, Liverpool or any of the coalmining towns in the North and Midlands, for example, it’s definitely worth checking for Welsh roots.

Remember, this is the first Census where you can see the forms filled in by your ancestors. That means you can study their handwriting, and look for any extra notes or comments. Plus, the records include added information, such as how long couples had been married, and the number of children they’d had.

Search now

We’ll have another set of transcriptions for you, covering a large part of England, within a couple of months.The rest will follow next year.

In the meantime, you can continue to use the whole Census by browsing the records. Find out how

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