Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


The Newsletter of the Family Records Centre (FRC)

Issue 27 Summer 2004 (14th online edition)
Closure Dates in 2004
Monday 30 August (August Bank Holiday)
Friday 24 December to Tuesday 28 December (Christmas)
Saturday 1 January to Monday 3 January 2005 (New Year)

Talks at the FRC
We are pleased to announce a full and varied programme of family history talks for the late summer and autumn.

3 August – Tracing Your Ancestors at the FRC
7 August – Tracing Your Ancestors at the FRC
17 August – Journeys in Family History
24 August – London in the Eighteenth Century
31 August – Secrets of the FRCM
7 September – The LDS Family History Library
14 September – Clerkenwell & The New River
21 September – Surnames in Family History
28 September – The Women’s Century
5 October – DNA and Family History
19 October – Dr Williams’ Library
26 October – Family History on the Internet

Tickets are free and will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis from the New Customers Desk on the first floor. There is no advance booking. The talks take place at 2pm* in the Meetings Room on the first floor and last for approximately one hour.

*On 7 August we will be holding our first ever Saturday talk – please note that this talk will start at 11am.

The 14 September sees our second guided walk of the year. We had a very good turn out for our first walk in May when our tour guide, Jean Haynes, showed us around the historic streets of Clerkenwell. This time Jean will be heading north towards Pentonville Road and looking at the influence of the New River on the area. We will aim to return to the FRC by 4pm.

Also featured in this round of talks are four book signing sessions. On 17 August, David Hey will be at the FRC to sign copies of his recent book, Journeys in Family History. Then on 21 September, we’re pleased to welcome George Redmonds (Christian Names in Local and Family History) followed by Mary Turner (The Women’s Century) on 28 September. Finally, on 5 October, Chris Pomery will be launching his ground-breaking book DNA and Family History. So why not come along to the FRC, hear the talk and then buy the book!

Computerised Index to BMDs
The computer in the Public Search Room on the ground floor will shortly be updated to include records of births, marriages and deaths from 1984 up to and including 2001. Customers are advised to check the index books as these can contain more recently updated amendments which may not be reflected in the computerised index.

Family History Fairs in 2004
Staff from the FRC will be attending a number of family history fairs and other events this year. The following dates have been confirmed:

Federation of FH Societies, Loughborough – Sunday 29 August
Great North Fair, Gateshead – Saturday, 11 September
TNA Open Day, Kew – Saturday 18 September
Hampshire Genealogical Society Open Day, Horndean – Sunday 26 September
NW Group FH Fair, Manchester – Saturday 2 October
London Maze, Guildhall, London – Saturday 16 October

Copying from microfiche
We are pleased to announce that staff at the Copy Service Desk are now able to provide A3 photocopies from microfiche at a cost of 35p per sheet. We also have two self-service microfiche printers in the reading rooms.

Open Meeting
The following is a selection of the questions raised at the FRC open meeting on 11 May.

Q. Will the full details of certificates in future be made available online, as in Scotland?
A. The Registration Review proposes that information relating to events over 100 years old should be made fully available. If the proposed legislative changes are approved, this will happen in a few years’ time.

Q. Why are some marriages missing from the indexes?
A. There are inevitably some errors and omissions in the indexes, due to the way they have been created from copies of the original registers. These are corrected as and when they become known. Details about events which are missing from the indexes may often be obtained via the relevant local register office.

Q. Will the hand-written indexes be replaced by something easier to use?
A. This will happen under the changes proposed in the Registration Review (see above). Changes will start to be implemented in 2005, though digitisation of the historic records will not happen until later.

Q. Are there any plans to re-film any of the census records?
A. The National Archives plans to enable all open census records to be made available over the internet. There will be no major re-filming as the original master copies are of a good quality. The microfilms at the FRC get worn by heavy use and are replaced with new copies when necessary. For example, most of the films for 1841 and 1851 were replaced with new copies in 2002/03. If a microfilm is genuinely illegible, we can arrange for customers to view the original documents at Kew.

Q. What plans have been made in relation to the 1911 census?
A. The National Archives has begun to plan how it will be made available. At present, it is still closed until 2012.

Q. What changes have been proposed to the law on adoption?
A. One of the provisions of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 allows for an electronic index to the Adopted Children Register to be introduced at the FRC to replace the existing paper index. There are two main reasons for the introduction of an electronic index, namely:

to prevent random searches of the index of adopted children under the age of eighteen to obtain information that may lead to disruption to an adopted child’s placement, and
to provide an enhanced search facility in the indexes for applications for certificates of adopted children now over the age of eighteen.
The Office for National Statistics is currently involved in a massive data capture exercise from the paper Adopted Children Register in order to provide this electronic index. Due to the large volume of data to be captured, the index will have to be introduced in stages, with the first batch currently timetabled to be available in September 2005. At this stage it is expected that this will form a complete electronic index from the mid-to-late-1960s to date, depending on resources, with a paper index remaining prior to that period. As earlier years are added to the electronic index the paper equivalent will be removed from the Public Search Room.

The next FRC Open Meeting will take place on Wednesday 10 November at midday.

Customer Survey
Thanks to everyone who took part in our customer survey in June. We are pleased to report that 94% were satisfied with their day’s visit. The full results of the survey are available at the FRC and in the ‘Your FRC’ section of our website.

Did you know…
…the registry of births commonly known as Dr Williams’ Library was set up in 1742 by the Baptists, Independents and Presbyterians. Dr Daniel Williams, the Presbyterian minister who gave the registry its name, died in 1716 – twenty six years before the registry was opened!

Census Surname Indexes
Over the past few years, staff have been working on a project to update our lists of Census Surname Indexes. The project is now complete and the new lists fully represent our holdings, with precise references to the relevant surname indexes. The lists cover all the indexes that we hold, whether they are in booklets, microfiche or CD format. We have also compiled keys to help you navigate through the more difficult indexes.

New in the FRC Library
The library on the first floor continues to expand. Recent acquisitions include: Journeys in Family History by David Hey, Births, Marriages & Deaths at Sea by C T Watts and new editions of Immigrants & Aliens by Roger Kershaw & Mark Pearsall, British Archives by Janet Foster & Julia Sheppard and Family history on the Web (England & Wales) by Stuart Raymond.

If you haven’t used the library before, why not take a few minutes to see what we’ve got next time you’re at the FRC.

Did you know…
…over the last six years certificate applications have increased by 54% from 593,000 in 1998/99 to 1,294,000 last year.

News From The GRO, Southport

New GRO Website
On Wednesday 12 May the General Register Office’s website was relaunched, setting high standards for usability and accessibility. The site is user-friendly and will enable members of the public to find information more easily on registering a birth or death, giving notice to marry or researching their family history.

The site provides important information and advice on registration and related topics such as adoption, approved marriage premises and help for people wishing to find their individual records.

The structure and layout of the information has also been reorganised around common activities rather than departments and each section (births, deaths, marriages and stillbirths) offers links to relevant and helpful topics and a consistent navigation bar helps users to switch between activities easily.

For more information and to have a look at the new, improved website, visit

Online Ordering Goes Worldwide
On 7 July 2004 certificate online ordering was rolled out worldwide on a trial basis. A new nightshift team of 30 staff started work in Southport in June in preparation for the launch. This team will work alongside the already extended certificate production teams working during the day and evenings.

Online Ordering Account Holders
Do you order 100 certificates or more each month? Can you collect your certificates from the FRC? Would you like to be invoiced monthly for your orders?

If the answer is yes to all of the above then you can become a Certificate Services Account Holder. For further information including an application form, contact Margaret McCallen on 0151 471 4691 or by email to

Certificate Services Performance Targets
The level of certificate applications for the new financial year continues to meet forecasts. The high level of applications received earlier in the year had a significant effect on performance targets throughout April and May.

However we are pleased to report that the recruitment of additional staff to cope with the extra demand now means that we are back on track. The table below gives a break down of our performance over the last quarter in four key areas.

Type of application Target April May June
FRC Collect 95% 100% 100% 100%
FRC Post Out 95% 0% 30% 86%
Southport 95% 29% 53% 94%
Online 95% 10% 83% 98%

Southport Open Days
GRO Open Days are taking place on Saturday 13 November and Saturday 20 November 2004 in Southport. The format will be similar to last year with a guided tour around Certificate Services Branch and working demonstrations of the certificate production process. Visitors will also have the opportunity to talk to GRO and FRC staff.

News From TNA, Kew

New TNA website
On Monday 28 June The National Archives launched a new website, bringing together the resources which were formerly on the websites of the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission.

The new website also includes lots of new features and has been completely redesigned. It aims to be friendly and easy to use, providing users with an opportunity to find out more about The National Archives and the records in its care and to gain access to a wide range of online services.

The homepage has a clean, spacious look, which allows easy access to the mass of information and services available as well as the latest news from The National Archives. A menu bar across the top of the homepage appears throughout the website. This is split into the key areas of the website. Under each heading another menu appears below with more detailed options.

You can view the new TNA website at:

The project to digitise the index cards to the WW1 campaign medal rolls for the British Army and Royal Flying Corps is now well underway. Cards for surnames ‘A’ to ‘N’ are now available. You can keep up to date with the latest developments and the availability of the medal cards on the DocumentsOnline section of the TNA website.

New in the Microfilm Reading Room at Kew
Original lists of campaign medal and award rolls for the interwar period 1919-1938 are now available on microfilm in the record series WO 100/411-493. They include the General Service Medal and the India General Service Medal.

New and Forthcoming Publications
Wills and other Probate Records. A practical guide to researching your ancestors’ last documents by Karen Grannum and Nigel Taylor will finally be published at the end of August. This title had been delayed, but is definitely worth the wait! Written by experts from The National Archives, it aims to make sense of the records and the institutions to approach, as well as highlighting the indexes and online resources increasingly available. Price £12.99

The History Channel launched the Family History Project in September 2003 on the conviction that every family has a great story to tell. They were right! The thousands of entries received reveal a wealth of human experience, from war-torn romances to lives saved in shark-infested waters. In September, The National Archives in association with The History Channel is publishing The Family History Project. Great, great stories from the nation’s family tree. This highly illustrated book reproduces the 50 winning entries as seen on television, and the best of the rest. Price £12.99

Chris Pomery provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to a ground-breaking topic in DNA and Family History. How genetic testing can advance your genealogical research. Published at the end of September, this book explains the practicalities of testing and interpreting the results for the layman. With nearly 1,000 surname DNA studies already underway worldwide, interest within the family history community in the new techniques is set to accelerate in the year ahead. Price £9.99

The National Archives’ bookshops at Kew and the FRC stock a wide range of books and magazines, many of which can be ordered online at:

Did you know…
…on the first floor at the FRC we hold a collection of ‘Miscellaneous Foreign Returns’ taken from a variety of sources. One of the earliest records in this series is the Register of Marriages and Christenings in the Episcopal Church at Rotterdam, 1708-1794. The register was eventually handed in to the Registrar General in 1882 having been received from Mr J F Jones of Park Street, London ‘in whose possession it had remained for about 25 years’.TNA microfilm reference: RG33/89.

Further information
If you would like more information about any of the items in this newsletter please telephone us on 0870 243 7788 (GRO enquiries) or 0208 392 5300 (TNA enquiries). You can also email us at:

To subscribe to the electronic version of the Family Record please send an email to:

with the word ‘Subscribe’ in the subject heading.

The Family Record is jointly produced by the General Register Office (GRO) and The National Archives

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