One of the hardest things to do when we find an ancestor in an unfamiliar state, county or country is to get an idea of how the physical locations relate to each other – or it is for me, but then I could get lost in my own back garden!
Online and paper-based modern maps can help, but we really need maps of the area in our ancestors’ time.
Ordnance Survey Ireland (the national mapping agency for the Republic of Ireland) has historic maps for both Northern Ireland and the Republic online. The series available are
6 inch mapping series (1:10,560) colour 1837-1842
6 inch mapping series (1:10,560) greyscale 1837-1842
25 inch mapping series (1:2,500) greyscale 1888-1913
In addition there’s also a pdf version of Samuel Lewis’ 1837 Topographical Directory of Ireland to download.
Since Remembrance Sunday is tomorrow, now seems a good time to pull together a summary of the World War One records that are available online.
Medal Roll Index Cards
These were generated by the Army and list a man’s entitlement to campaign medals. There are over 5 million cards and they are the nearest approximation to a nominal roll of those who served in the army in WWI. Generally everyone who served overseas was entitled to a campaign medal. The rolls include RAF personnel who, before 1918, were members of the Royal Flying Corps. Royal Navy and Royal Naval Air Service personnel are not included.
About 60% of the service records of those soldiers (not officers) who served in the army during WWI were destroyed by bombing during WWII. The remaining records have been digitised and are available at http://www.ancestry.co.uk
Pension records for soldiers who claimed a disability pension for service in WWI are also available at http://www.ancestry.co.uk They are unlikely to include records for soldiers who had no dependants or who re-enlisted for service in WWII.
Royal Naval Division Casualties of The Great War
Register of the deaths of servicemen of the Royal Navy who served in the Royal Naval Division (RND) in the Great War, compiled from original service records and all other sources listing RND casualties. Available from http://www.findmypast.com, http://www.ancestry.co.uk
Ireland, Casualties of World War I, 1914-1918
Compiled by The Committee of the Irish National War Memorial, this provides information on over 49,000 Irish men and women who died in the Great War. Available from http://www.ancestry.co.uk
Irish War Memorials Project
An inventory of war memorials in Ireland includes photographs of each memorial, the text of all inscriptions, and details of the site of the memorial. Available from http://www.irishwarmemorials.ie/
The Scottish National War Memorial
Commemorates nearly 150,000 Scottish casualties in the First World War at http://www.snwm.org (free).
Roll of honour
Recording various war memorials within a variety of counties in the United Kingdom. Photographs have been taken of the majority of the memorials, details of the men included and their photographs where possible. The war memorials and rolls of honour cover a variety of regiments, airfields and air bases as well as the memorials and cemeteries in the countries overseas where the men fell. Available from http://www.roll-of-honour.com/ (free)
Scottish Service and War Returns
Registers of deaths of Scottish persons serving as Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned officers or Men in the Army (not officers) and Petty Officers or Men in the Royal Navy in World War I (1914-1918). Indexes and images of certificates available from http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ (pay-per-view)
Selected First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries
Selected War Diaries of British and colonial units serving in theatres of operations between 1914- 22.
Prisoner of War interviews and reports, First World War
Interviews and reports of over 3000 individuals from the papers of the Committee on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War.
The Victoria Cross Registers
The Victoria Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856 for award to members of the Royal Navy and the Army who ‘shall have performed some signal act of valour…’
Aliens Registration Cards
Aliens registration cards of those living in the London area from 1914.
The award of a gallantry award, an honour and the promotion of military officers was gazetted, or listed, in the London Gazette. It’s also possible to trace an officer’s career in the armed forces through promotions listings. Once you’ve found the relevant service number it’s easier to search using that rather than the name of the officer. Available from http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/ (free).
I’ve tried to cover all the major sources for the British armed forces which give details of large numbers of men rather than individuals, but I’m sure to have missed some. If you know of other sources, do add them in the comments.
London is currently shivering under a thick layer of snow
which, according to the news, is the heaviest for 18 years. So this seems like a good time for an update on some of the new data that’s appeared online since Christmas.
First of all was the addition of Counties Antrim, Down and Kerry to the 1911 census for Ireland at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/ which were added to the existing records for Dublin on 23 December 2008.
Next came the annual upload of new data on Scotlandspeople. We can now view the images of the registers of births for 1855-1908, marriages 1855-1933 and deaths 1855-1958 at http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
The current big excitement is the 1911 census for England and Wales which went live on 14 January at http://www.1911census.co.uk/. They have gradually added to the number of counties available and currently the whole of England except for Cumberland, Westmorland, Northumberland, Durham and the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire are available. Wales has still to be added. To check on progress and find out about enhancements to the search facilities as they are added, read the blog at http://blog.1911census.co.uk/
A less well publicised launch was the addition of the civil registration indexes for Ireland which are available on the Familysearch Record Search pilot site at http://pilot.familysearch.org. Irish civil registration indexes begin in 1845 for Protestant marriages. Civil registration indexes for births, deaths and all marriages begin in 1864. The available indexes cover all of Ireland from 1845/1864 to 1922 and the Republic of Ireland from 1923-1958. As the General Register Office for Northern Ireland has an online certificate ordering facility at http://www.groni.gov.uk/index/order_certificates.htm and the General Register office for Ireland has downloadable order forms at http://www.groireland.ie/apply_for_a_cert.htm ordering Irish certificates has now become much easier.