Friday, December 18, 2009

From Tea to the Titanic....Victorian Scottish Trade Directories provide a fascinating insight into Scottish heritage.... is proud to announce the addition of over a quarter of a million Victorian Scottish Trade Directory records online. continues to add to its collection of Trade directories by releasing Trade and individual records dedicated to Scotland.

Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory is an impressive record of all aspects of life in Scotland in 1889. Apart from Topographical and Postal Information it contains lists of professionals, landowners, Gentry, farmers, factors, London and Provincial Bankers and a fascinating array of advertisements at the time accompanies the text.

The Slater’s Directories form a unique collection of 35 Scottish Counties with invaluable occupational and commercial information for 1889 at the peak of Victoria’s reign. The directories with over a quarter of a million entries contain all the major professions, trades and occupations including taverns and public houses as well as the nobility, gentry and clergy. Even the addresses are identified.

The Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory of Scotland in its day was more than equal to today’s Telephone directory and Yellow pages combined. Interestingly - following the invention of the telephone the abbreviations state that “TN with the figures following denote the number in the List of the National Telephone Company Limited”, established only a few years earlier in 1881.

Towns and parishes are detailed for each area and the introduction contains key information including the number of inhabitants (taken from the 1871 census) with a geographical and topographical description and the local history. A description of the main trades, produce, manufacturers and industries of the area or town are also covered.

Trade was often at the centre of every community - not only were there many shops but the produce, available minerals, manufacturing, transport and shipping all contributed to the growing Victorian economy. Many of the buildings that remain today reflect the social history and economic growth of Scotland. Educational establishments as well as teachers and local government officials, public buildings and offices are listed and formed part of these communities.

Sir Thomas Lipton of Lipton Tea
The Directory lists well known names like; Sir Thomas Lipton of Lipton Tea who was described as a "ham and provision merchant", with addresses of his stores across Scotland and England with his residential address as Johnston Villa, Cambuslang, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. It also lists Alexander Graham Bell's best friend and neighbour John Herdman, a corn merchant and miller where Bell at the age of 12 invented a small de-husking machine that was put into operation at the mill.

Sir William Arrol & Co - built the Forth Bridge & Tower Bridge
Sir William Arrol & Co. which was a leading Scottish civil engineering business based in Glasgow, built many bridges in its 113 year history in Great Britain but best known for the Forth Bridge and Tower Bridge in London and others abroad. Arrol was contracted to build one of the largest gantries for the construction of three new super liners, one of which was the Titanic. The company is listed as one of the many iron works and commercial businesses in the directory.

Scottish Records - The first of many to be added
"We are pleased to announce the release of these Scottish records online which complement the existing Trade and Occupational Directories collection. This is the first of the Scottish records to be placed online and is part of a programme to add more Scottish records in the future", commented a spokesman for the family history website.
The collection is searchable by surname and forename or the business name for each of the 35 counties. The Trade directories provide an invaluable resource for family history researchers wanting to know more about the area where their ancestors lived and the various trades and businesses where they worked.

The collection is only a small part of over 650 million historic records available online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 at

Friday, November 27, 2009

Victorian Medical Registers - including Doctors, Dentists and Midwives go online at

From Cholera to Antiseptic to the inventor of a drug that has saved over 200 million lives.... is proud to announce the addition of 1,000,000 New Medical Records spanning over 90 years. today launched over one million records of Doctors, Dentist and Midwives spanning over 90 years from 1853 to 1943. The records provide a fascinating insight and invaluable resource to anyone researching the background of any family member who was a doctor, a dentist or midwife

A dedicated team at spent several months painstakingly scanning and indexing original medical registers allowing them to be searched on different criteria including surname, forename and date to provide one of the most comprehensive and accurate databases available.

The records pre-date the foundation in 1858 of the General Medical Council, set up in a back room of what is now the University of Worcester to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the community. Prior to 1858 anyone could call themselves a medical practitioner with some of the treatments worse than the disease and devices resembling ancient instruments of torture but it gave an insight into Victorian imagination and ingenuity. The years 1853 to 1943 saw remarkable developments in the field of medicine and notable medical practitioners:

John Snow (1813-1858) - Discovered Cholera
John Snow (1813-1858) - was voted in 2003 as the greatest Physician of all time some, 145 years after his death, for his evidence based investigation and tracing of Cholera in Soho in 1854. He was the first person to dispel the myth that Cholera was caused by miasma or poor air. He traced the source to a public hand water pump in Soho. Those who drunk from it were infected by bacteria although remarkably all those that worked in the nearby brewery (where water was heated and subject to a separate water source) were not affected.

Joseph Lister (1838-1912) Discovered Carbolic Acid (Antiseptic)
In 1865 Joseph Lister (1838-1912) discovered that by using carbolic acid as an antiseptic during surgery and by ensuring hygienic conditions in theatre and around patients greatly improved chances of survival.

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) - His discovery saved 200 million people
Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) is arguably responsible for saving in excess of 200 million lives having in 1928 discovered the antibiotic-penicillin, which although accidental has been hailed by many as possibly the greatest advance in medicine. He was Knighted in 1944 and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945.

He was also recognized by being awarded the Honorary gold medal from the Royal College of Surgeons, received a fellowship from the University of London, a fellowship from Toronto, Philadelphia, and many other institutions including from Harvard, USA and from Spain. He is buried in St Pauls Cathedral, London.
Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) - Identified mosquitoes as the cause of malaria

Another Nobel Prize winner Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) identified the mosquito as the cause of malaria during his service in India and distinguished himself in tropical medicine and the prevention of malaria in Indian, Africa , Egypt , Cyprus and Mauritius

The collection is part of over 650 million historic records available online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1 Million New Military Records added to

1 Million New Military Records added to

From Wellington to General Gordon of Khartoum

From Waterloo to the Charge of the Light Brigade to the Great War is proud to announce the addition of 1,000,000 New Military Records spanning over 100 years.
This autumn marks the 201st anniversary of the beginning of the Peninsular War and to commemorate, the event has added over 1 million army records covering a broad range from 1808 through to De Ruvigny's biographical record of World War I soldiers.

The Peninsular Medal Roll 1808-1814
In 1808 Napoleon deposed the Spanish monarch and replaced him with his brother Joseph Bonaparte. Recognising the increased threat that Napoleon posed to Great Britain - British Forces under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, landed in Portugal to check Napoleon's progress. After 5 years of prolonged and bitter campaigning Napoleon's forces were routed at the Battle of Vitoria, on June 21, 1813 and the liberation of Spain was complete.

The Peninsular Medal Roll is one of most valuable and unique records covering the conflict and sets out invaluable information about some of those who fought in the Iberian Peninsular. The following information is given in the database; Forename, Surname, Rank, Number of Clasps, Particulars of Clasps, Remarks, Regiment.

De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1918

We continue to add to our First and Second World War collection and are excited to have added De Ruvigny's Roll of honour (2 volumes). The Roll of Honour includes the Biographies of over 25,000 men although we have currently uploaded 12,500 men who lost their lives in the Great War. The detail varies however, the example below gives a good indication of what kind of information can be found.

Private, No 1539, 5th Battn. Royal Sussex Regt., s/ of Alfred Akehurst, of Walters Farm Cottage, Ticehurst, Sussex, Farm Labourer, by his wife, Sussanah, dau. of George Cheesman; b. Etchingham, co. Sussex, 22 June, 1896; educ. Frimwell School ; was a farm labourer on Walters Farm ; joined the Sussex Territorials, 29 Aug, 1912 ; mobilised, 5 Aug. 1914 on the outbreak of war ; went with battn. To Dover and then to the Tower, where he volunteered for Imperial service ; left England for the Front, 18 Feb, 1915, and was killed in action at the Battle of Careney, 9 May, 1915,; unm. He was buried about about half a mile from St Vaast.

Furthermore a quick check of the World War I Army Deaths database details Alexander Akehurst - allowing you to order a certificate of his death.

But don't stop there - a further search on the database Soldiers Who Died in the Great War shows the following

Charge of the Light Brigade
Lieutenant General James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, KCB (16 October 1797 - 28 March 1868) commanded the charge of the Light Brigade of the British Army during the Crimean War. A colourful individual who by order of King William was dismissed from the 15th Hussars early in 1834, only to be prosecuted for a duel with one of his former officers in 1841.

Perhaps his most infamous exploit was during the Crimean War on October 25 1854. He led the Charge of the Light Brigade at the battle of Balaclava in which almost half of his men were killed.. Although ascribed to a misunderstood order it was a heroic event that left its mark in history. On a more mundane note Cardigan's name is better known for the knitted waistcoat he wore in campaigns and to this day it carries his name.

Search the Harts Army List for the Earl of Cardigan and many others.

The collection is part of over 650 million historic records available online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 at

Friday, October 9, 2009

Trafalgar Union Jack up for Sale

The only surviving union jack from the Battle of Trafalgar could fetch £15,000 at auction after it was found in a drawer, auctioneers say.

The flag was flown from one of Nelson's warships, HMS Spartiate, in the naval battle off the Spanish coast in 1805.

It was presented by the 540-strong crew to Fife-born Lieutenant James Clephan after the conflict, a high honour bestowed upon an officer by his men.

Search Commissioned Sea Offices of the Royal Navy 1660-1815 on where the entry for James Clepham can be found

The flag is being sold by one of his descendants living in Australia.
Clephan, who later went on to command his own ship, was one of the few men to have risen through the ranks and was greatly admired by his crew.

The flag, measuring 7ft 4in x 11ft 7in, is made of 31 panels sewn together by the crew on board the ship.

It bears a number of "battle scars" - holes caused by shot and shell splinter damage sustained during the conflict.

The union jack will go under the hammer later this month after being put up for sale by one of Clephan's descendants. Read more>>

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to School - Introducing historic School Registers on

New and exclusive to - The most recent additions to our ever expanding collection are the School registers to over 120,000 pupils and masters dating back to 1500.

The list is comprised of major schools which are among the oldest of independent educational establishments in the United Kingdom, such as Sherborne School which was founded in 710 and re-founded in 1550 by Edward VI. The young King, a keen reformer, took an interest in establishing a system of grammar schools through endowments providing free education for the talented poor. The charitable concept of education for scholars of limited means gradually changed over the centuries to that of education for gentlemen entering the military, church and professions.

The term Public Schools is often confusing especially where Americans consider Public Schools to be government or state sponsored education available to all. The distinction is that the British Public School system was available to anyone who could afford it and was independent of the State.

It became a part of the structure to instill service to the Crown and Empire and provide future rulers for the nation and administrators for the Empire. Although with many detractors, the excellent all-round education provided by the British Public School system is envied by other countries and has been successfully exported across the world.

Many of the schools now available online are famous for their traditions and rich history as well as the famous pupils they turned out most notably the war time leader Winston Churchill, the first Prime Minister of modern day India - Jawaharlal Nehru and the great explorer of the Antarctic Sir Ernest Shackleton with a host of former and current British Peers and members of Parliament, as well as future Monarchs and members of foreign royal families. There are Victoria Cross holders, famous individuals and many leaders in the arts, sciences and business.

Many Public School pupils decided to study at the universities that existed in the early 1800s but in the 1900s many former alumni were called to Military service and distinguished themselves.

The registers are fully searchable and provide a useful resource. They are exceptionally well detailed and usually give the surname, father’s name, address, birth date, date of death. School and University education, School sports teams, qualifications or profession, Military service and achievements.

A spokesman for added “We are pleased to be releasing this dataset as the School Registers provide a useful source of quality detail to family historians in their research. This is a growing dataset and more School and Alumni registers will be added to the records online”.

The collection is part of over 650 million historic records available online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 at has recently added the following records;

School Registers Collection
The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland 1883
Burkes Landed Gentry of Great Britain
London Marriage Licences 1521-1869
Directory of Directors 1897 - 1946

Friday, July 17, 2009

US Civil War Roll of Honor 1861 – 1865 published online by

One of the largest and most complete Rolls of Honor for the US Civil War has been released by It is the first time that all 27 volumes have been made available online. continues with more data additions this month with over 276,000 Roll of Honor records for those soldiers who died in the defence of the Union during the American Civil War.

The “Names of the Soldiers Who Died in the Defence of the American Union – interred in the National Cemeteries” were recorded by the Quartermaster General’s Office in 1866. In each case the original place of interment, the soldiers’ name, rank, company, regiment, date of death, section of cemetery and the number of the grave are all detailed. In some instances the creed is provided together with a list simply referred to as “Unknowns”.

Additional volumes refer to soldiers who died in prison pens – termed “Names of the Soldiers Who Died in the Defence of the American Union – Suffered martyrdom in the Prison Pens throughout the south”. Again the soldiers name, rank, company, regiment, date and cause of death are provided.

The Roll reminds us that the Civil War was a bitter conflict and one of the bloodiest and costliest in terms of the toll it took on both sides with an estimated 620,000 military deaths, two thirds of whom died by disease as well as an undetermined number of civilian casualties.

The Union Army consisted of a large number of immigrants including many ethnic groups. A million soldiers were native born Americans of British ancestry, half a million were of German ancestry. 210,000 African Americans of whom half were freed men living in the north the remainder were slaves or had escaped slavery. A similar number were of Irish descent. Canadian, English, French, Dutch, Scandinavian as well as Italian, Jewish, Mexican, Polish, Native Americans and other nationalities numbering 2.2 million fought for the Union.

The legacy of the war meant the ending of slavery, restoring the Union and the role of federal government. The many social and political issues following the war shaped the reconstruction era which lasted many years. It was the defining event that shaped the future of the United States as we know it today.

The collection includes the Final Disposition, four additional volumes listing the original places of burial from which some of the bodies of Deceased Union Soldiers and Prisoners of War have been removed and the various National Cemeteries in which they were finally interred.

The collection together with 650 million historic records is available to search online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription of only US$50.00 or £30.00 at

Friday, June 26, 2009

Canadian Civil Service salaries published online

The world’s largest collection of Canadian Civil Service records is now available on the internet. today launched over 200,000 Canadian Civil Service records for the period 1872-1918. The fully searchable records offer a fascinating insight into the machinery of government - from the Governor General’s office and those employed in Parliament (House of Commons & Senate) to the 10 people in the “Slide and Boom” Service of the Inland Revenue all of whom are meticulously accounted for. The online records reveal the civil servants name, position, department, length of service, salary and date of appointment.

The period covers the early years of the Dominion of Canada from 1872 through to the end of the First World War, when immigration to North America was increasing Canada saw the majority of migrants arriving from Britain and Ireland which accounted for a large proportion of the Government Service Lists. In 1870 this influx reached its highest level.

The earliest Returns detail the origin and creed of those in the civil service. Canadians were described as French or British or even Irish and German but these distinctions eventually disappear.

When Engineers were paid more than Lawyers

Interestingly the highest paid civil servant in 1872 was the Scottish born Sir Sandford Fleming, who was fondly known as the “Inventor of Standard Time” as well as being the founder of the Canadian Institute. The 19th Century was the Age of Steam and the innovator Fleming was the Chief Engineer for the Intercolonial Railway (later to become the Canadian National Railway) who earned $4,800. The importance of Fleming’s position is underscored by the fact the Deputy to the Minister of Justice was paid only Canadian $2,600. An Under Secretary of State fared somewhat better with an annual salary of $2,840 – by contrast a labourer earned as little as 70 cents a day, the equivalent of $18.70 today. At that time the average annual wage was $1,695.

In 1872 there were 3,704 civil servants which increased to 8,312 by 1909. The latest figures show that there are now over 454,000 Canadian civil servants.

Included in this online collection are individuals who shaped and transformed the country in those early days. One of these was Richard Burton Deane, an officer and author educated in India and Ipswich (England) who in July 1883 was appointed by the Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald as an inspector in the North-West Mounted Police in July 1883. After the North-West rebellion Deane became responsible for the prisoners, including Louis Riel one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history.

These comprehensive records spanning 47 formative years of Canada’s Administration are a vital part of the Dominion’s development and the source for family historians whose forebears left Britain for a new life and in many cases reached importance and fame in their adopted country. The collection is available online to all members and by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 with other datasets at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who really owned Britain – was it your forbears?

Britain’s Victorian “Doomsday Book” released online by

The first ever complete collection of fully searchable Landowner returns is published online today for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

A record of who owned land in Britain and Ireland was created over a hundred years ago by the Victorians as a response to the great outcry about what was described as the monopoly of land. The wildest and most reckless exaggerations and mis-statements of fact were uttered about the number of individuals who were actual owners of the soil.

In the House of Lords it had been said that according to the Census of 1861 in the United Kingdom, there were no more than 30,000 landowners and although this estimate arose from a misreading of the figures, its accuracy had never been disputed, the true status was a matter of conjecture but it was believed to have been nearer 300,000 landowners.

In these circumstances a comprehensive “Return” was called for and termed the “Doomsday Book”. It was published in 1873 almost a thousand years after William the Conqueror commissioned the original Domesday Book in 1086.

These fascinating Returns provide the name and address of every Owner and their holding in acres, rods and poles, with the estimated yearly rental valuation of all holdings over 1 acre. Interestingly lease holders at the commencement of their term were considered as owners also, however those at the end of their term were not so considered.

As a result over 320,000 landowners of one acre or more can be searched online representing 1% of the entire population of the United Kingdom. The number of owners with less than one acre was nearly 850,000. London the “Great Metropolis” was excluded from the Returns as was waste land if it yielded no profit.

Among the landowning aristocracy were the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry who owned 432,373 acres in the Scottish Highlands and the Duke of Norfolk with 44,638 acres mostly around Arundel Castle in Sussex. The Prince of Wales’ estate at Sandringham is listed with 6,724 acres, as are Charles Dickens and Alfred Tennyson with more modest holdings.

The Victorians with their conviction for detail and orderliness even counted asylums, hospitals, colleges, school trustees, railway companies, navigation companies, sewer commissioners, War department, water works and river commissioners as a vital part of their record keeping.

The database is available to search online and is organised under each county, with name and address for every landowner. The collection together with 650 million historic records is available online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 readies website for new data releases

The team at the Family History website is in the final stages of a new website design that will enhance and simplify the way records can be accessed on its website. Previously Familyrelatives' members were able to click on one of two tabs to access records from England and the United States.

Now with the growth of data sets and the forthcoming addition of records from Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States it has been necessary to expand the tabs and simplify the website layout to accommodate the growing number of datasets.

The improvements include a New Menu which allows users to be more selective in their viewing, as well as new search pages which will make it easier to navigate and use the website. Databases have been classified into regions making it simpler to locate data. Additional search refinements will also assist in making searches faster and more efficient.

"We have been listening to our members who have complimented the clear and straightforward design. They liked the no-nonsense approach we have taken and so we decided to build and expand on these features in anticipation of the new data sets that will be uploaded over the coming months. The groundwork has been well prepared and as well as expanding the data that will be available to our members, in the very near future we will be introducing a number of other new features including a new image viewer and a calendar which will benefit our members" added a spokesman for the website.

As the amount of data on the website expands the different Country tabs will clearly indicate those new data sets being added. Members with subscriptions are able to take advantage of the new datasets. The new design is available to all members via the website.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Engineers and Professional list of members published on

Finding out about your ancestor’s occupation and achievements allows the family historian to build a more complete picture of your ancestors’ past. has released a collection of Professional member lists including the Engineers Who’s Who and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales 1923.

The Engineers Who’s Who 1939, is a register of engineering appointments and attainments and a useful family history source for researchers with engineers in their family. At this time with the impending Second World War many engineers were involved with the war effort in the Admiralty, the War Office as well as those who joined the armed forces.

Only a year earlier a British steam locomotive had set a new world record while German troops had occupied Austria, the Royal Air Force took delivery of 400 planes a month and free air raid shelters were being distributed to London homes. Britain was also planning to introduce conscription and UK farmers were being urged to dig for victory. Hitler's army invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and World War II began.

“Nearly 7000 names are recorded in this volume – within most cases some biographical details; no endeavour has been made to include British Engineers operating abroad, and the majority of those contained in this record are active engineers whose work lies in the United Kingdom.”

The records in the main include the surname, forename(s), British order of chivalry, qualifications, accomplishments and appointments as well as the private address, career and education. In some instances the age, war service and useful dates are included, providing a fascinating insight into individuals.

Individuals in the Engineers Who’s Who included Professor Sir Bennett Melvill Jones (1887-1975), who demonstrated the importance of streamlining the design of an aircraft. Whilst at Cambridge he supervised Frank Whittle the inventor of the jet engine.

His entry reads as follows;

JONES, Bennett Melvill. C.B.E., A.F.C., M.A., F.R.Ae.S., F.I.Ae.S.
Francis Mond Professor of Aeronautical Eng., Laboratory, Cambridge.
Age: 51. Career: Aeronautics Dept., Nat. Phys. Lab., 1910 – 1913 ; Royal Farnborough, 1914 – 1916 ; Experimental Officer, Royal Air Force, 1916 – 1918.

Another leading structural engineer Sir John Fleetwood Baker worked with the Air Ministry on the structural problems of airships. During the Second World War, Baker was appointed Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Home Security, using his plastic theory of structural analysis on reducing the impact of bombing of buildings he created the indoor air raid Morrison Shelter named after the Home Secretary at the time.

BAKER, Professor John F. M.A., Sc. D., D.Sc., Assoc.M.Inst.C.E. (Telford Medal. Telford Premium, Howard Quinquennial Prize), M.I.Struct.E.
Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol. Private Address: 1, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, 2. Age: 37. Career: Technical Officer Royal Airship Works, Cardington ; Scientific Officer, Building Research Station, Watford ; Technical Officer, Steel Structures Research Committee.

The data sets for the Institute of Chartered Accountants are divided between individual members (both Associates and Fellows) and professional firms with each listing its address and its Partners. As with the Engineers, many Chartered Accountants went on to distinguished careers as MPs, members of the Government and the Armed Services as well as developing significant roles in business and industry.

Researchers can search the index by name and look at scans of original records and one can also browse the records. These records are available as part of the subscription which provides unprecedented value for money. A number of features and records are available for free on

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New series of Who do you think you are? to air in February 2009

Following the success of the popular family history programme series of Who do you think you are? which featured Boris Johnson and Patsy Kensit's forebears the sixth series of Who Do You Think You Are? returns to our screens on BBC1 at 9.00pm on Monday 2 February. The programme is repeated the following day Tuesday 3 February on BBC2 at 7.00pm.The first episode begins with the story of the television comedian and political satirist Rory Bremner who delves into the wartime experiences of the father he didn't know very well.

Rory Bremner uncovers war heroics of father he barely knew

In the second episode on BBC1 at 9.00pm on Monday 9 February television news and presenter Fiona Bruce discovers the sad truth behind her great-grandfather's mysterious death. The programme is repeated the following day Tuesday 10 February on BBC2 at 7.00pm. Also available to watch on BBC iplayer.

If you want to get started and learn more about researching your family history sign up to and start searching for your ancestors.

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