Please take the time to read this and the other FAQs available (details at the end of this document) before submitting your query to the group. The answers to the queries below, follow:
The latest version of this document is posted to the soc.genealogy.britain newsgroup and mailing list on the tenth of every month.
If you have any comments or changes, or any suggestions for new topics to be included, or you would like to write a note for inclusion in the FAQ, then please contact John Woodgate, (firstname.lastname@example.org). This FAQ was created from an Original FAQ created by Shannon Lovelady
Copyright (c) 1999 by John Woodgate. All rights reserved.
This document may be freely redistributed in its entirety without modification provided that this copyright notice is not removed. It may not be sold for profit or incorporated in commercial documents without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Permission is expressly granted for this document to be made available for file transfer from installations offering unrestricted anonymous file transfer on the Internet.
This document is provided AS IS without any express or implied warranty.
The author may be contacted at 50 Great Meadow Road, Bradley Stoke, Bristol, BS32 8DA, England.
Do not circulate virus warnings. The flood of virus warnings clogging private mailboxes and newsgroups is actually the virus. They slow down your email and take up your time. They can elicit varying degrees of panic amongst both the uninitiated and sometimes, the experienced. Some who should know better, have also been duped.
However. It is possible to get a virus by reading an attachment to an email message that contains a macro virus, or by running a 'virus' program attachment to your email, known as a Trojan Horse.
One of the latest currently causing apprehension is AOL4FREE.COM. This is a Trojan Horse program that you would firstly need to download, and then run, before it could do any damage. Even if you actually had it sent to you as an email attachment, you can still read the message without damage. You need to run the program before it can destroy anything. See the US Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) site below, if you're interested in more detailed information on the three different components of AOL4FREE.
Use your common sense to discern a virus. Would you choose to a) download; or b) run a program, when you don't know what it is?
If you are concerned about any new virus; for your peace of mind; confirmation of your worst fears; or a good laugh over the 'Good Times' spoof message, visit CIAC's site, on http://ciac.llnl.gov/. They are among the first to know and alert Internet users to potential problems.
It is thought to have its origin from 'cock's eye' where the second word means an egg (the German word for egg is 'Ei'). The culture was typically working class with a distinct dialect using rhyming slang, e.g. 'apples and pears' (stairs), 'trouble and strife' (wife), 'china plate' (mate). Cockneys were such strange people, with their unusual speech, that some impossible phrase had to be dreamed up to describe them.
geographically, the British Isles are made up of:
Politically, the British Isles currently contain:
The Isle of Man (and the Channel Islands) make their own laws, subject to being overruled by the Westminster Parliament, although more usually, Westminster only passes applicable laws with their agreement (e.g. British Summer Time Act).
Little Britain (Brittany) is a province of France (politically) that sticks out into the Atlantic at the top left hand corner of that country. People from Brittany are 'Bretons'. People from Great Britain are 'Britons', although that word is sometimes used to mean a UK citizen these days.
Britain is many culturally distinct areas, even though they are all governed from London. Although there has been widespread migration within the UK, each area still maintains some differences in names, religion (almost indistinguishable to outsiders) and tradition.
Great Britain is further divided into shires and counties. The counties of Ireland are usually known as 'County X', (for example County Kerry or County Cork). That is not the case in England, Scotland and Wales, where the counties are usually known as 'Xshire', (for example, Lancashire or Stirlingshire) with the one awkward exception of County Durham. For instance, to refer to 'County Somerset' would be incorrect.
In 1974, the borders and even the names of many counties were changed, for no adequate reason. This can cause confusion to genealogists, especially where a town has 'moved' to a different county. Recently the names changed again, in many cases back to the older areas.
To make your research easier, it is essential to either own an atlas, or have access to one. There are many inexpensive ones available to buy, or alternatively, most genealogical/family history libraries will have one. See question 6 for further information on maps.
The purpose of the IRC is to exchange it at the local Post Office for that country's postage, and the respondent is therefore, not left out-of-pocket for the postage to reply to your enquiry.
You do not have to exchange IRC's for return postage stamps if you do not wish to. If you receive one, you can send it on to someone else, who in turn can send it to yet another person, but in the process each sender is still providing 'funds' for a return letter.
IRC's are supposed to assist in achieving a response to your query with minimal inconvenience. This is particularly important when snail-mailing (smailing) an individual rather than an institution.
When smailing to the UK, do not send non-UK stamps for the recipient to use for your reply, as they will be rejected by the post office.
If you don't know the correct post code for mail to the UK, leave it off. It will still get there, only a little bit slower. A good idea is to include a self-addressed envelope with your query. If nothing else, this ensures that the respondent's reply will be addressed correctly.
In regards to putting your return address on the front/back of the envelope - do as you would prefer, or as is the practise in your country. It won't hinder your letter's arrival.
There is a great web site covering things like UK Postage and more detail on International Reply Coupons at: http://www.leicester.co.uk/guild/sae.htm.
If the occupation you are seeking is not on either of these lists and you post a query to the newsgroup, please state that you have visited these web sites, otherwise you will be told to do so. If you later find the definition from another source, your contribution of this definition for inclusion in the lists, is welcomed. A simple addition to your genealogical tools is an everyday dictionary, which is extremely useful to have on hand for this purpose.
The term 'cordwainer' was originally restricted to those who worked in fine Spanish leather (Cordoba = cordovan), and not just in shoes. The early cordwainers dealt in luxury goods, and their customers were the nobility and the wealthy. Considered highly skilled craftsmen, they also made hats, furniture coverings, wall coverings, tack, light infantry 'armor', boxes, leggings, coats, belts, purses, and so forth. Some of the more industrially oriented cordwainers made wagon slings, buckets, pipes (to carry water), ropes, interwoven straps to serve as bed-springs, shoulder pads, quivers, horsecollars and the like.
This will show you which county your placename is in, and the corresponding Ordnance Survey Landranger Map on which it is shown. Details on how to purchase the maps you need are available on the web site.
If you're interested in Yorkshire, there's a very comprehensive gazetteer specific to Yorkshire online. 'A Topical Dictionary of Yorkshire for the year 1822' by Thomas Langdale gives the location and a sometimes brief, often detailed description of the placename you are researching. It can be found at: http://sentinel.mcc.ac.uk/genuki/big/eng/YKS/yrksdict/.
Also online and very helpful for an overview is a map of UK counties prior to 1974 boundary changes. Another useful section of the GENUKI hierarchy, it's URL is http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/BRITAIN2.GIF.
A great site for detailed street maps is http://www.streetmap.co.uk/ which has searching and street map facilities for Greater London.
Not online, but Cecil Humphery-Smith's 'The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers' (widely recognised and highly recommended, but expensive at 50 pounds), is also very useful. Many libraries will have the hard cover book, which contains maps of the pre-1832 parishes of England, Wales and Scotland by county, and an 1834 topographical map of each England & Wales county. The index shows where the records (originals or copies) for each parish are held and the dates available for each.
Whilst it is an invaluable tool in your family history research, all IGI entries found should be checked from the source, even if the information fits perfectly into your tree. Not every parish register has been included and errors are not unknown. Be wary of entries that read 'About/Abt 1792', as these entries are part of a family file that has been submitted by people who are only guessing when the event is most likely to have taken place. The generally reliable entries which are extracts from parish registers, can be distinguished from the generally unreliable private submissions, by looking at the Batch number of the source for that event. Batch No's beginning with the letters C, K, J, M, E and P are from controlled extractions from parish registers and are generally reliable. Anything else should be treated with extreme caution.
The IGI is now available on-line at the URL http://www.familysearch.org
No, the IGI is not available for purchase on CD-ROM. There was a time over a year ago when it was sold via Dynix Library Systems to bona fide research organisations and libraries (but not to individuals) for an exorbitant price. Dynix are no longer distributing it.
The actual dates the census were taken:
1821 - 28 May 1831 - 30 May 1841 - 7 June 1851 - 30 March 1861 - 7 April 1871 - 2 April 1881 - 3 April 1891 - 5 April 1901 - 31 March 1911 - 31 March 1921 - 19 June 1931 - 26 April
Alex/Alexr - Alexander Bernd - Bernard Chas - Charles Dy/Do - Dorothy Edw - Edward Eliz - Elizabeth (not to be confused with Eliza) Em - Emma/Emily Fredk - Frederick Geo - George Hon - Honour Hum/Humy - Humphrey Jas - James Jno - John Jonth - Jonathon Jos - Joseph Josh - Joshua/Joseph Marg - Margaret (not Mary) Mart - Martha (not Margaret) Mattw - Matthew My - Mary Ric/Richd - Richard Robt - Robert Saml - Samuel Ste - Stephen Tam - Tamsin/Thomasin Tho/Thos - Thomas Wm - William Xian - Christian Xpr - Christopher
There is an excellent tutorial by Sabrina J Murray on deciphering old handwriting online, which also provides other examples of Christian name abbreviations, plus information on the 'leading s', occupations, numbers and letters. It's at http://www.firstct.com/fv/oldhand.html.
One explanation can be that some families choose from the same small pool of names from generation to generation. They may be meticulous: 'the first son is always named Alexander, the second, William...' and so on; or in no discernible order, with abundant Roberts, Johns and Samuels.
At times we come across a child with a middle name that is a surname, or the mother's maiden name. Many families have used a forebear's maiden name as a middle name for their children, but this is personal preference, not convention. Nor is it by any means guaranteed to be a family member's name. So while assuming that Arthur Bell SMITH's mother was someone BELL may occasionally be true, to always assume so would be a mistake. It may be the surname of a previous benefactor the parents wish to honour, or someone they simply admire or respect.
Although certain families may choose and follow their own naming conventions, there are no prevailing naming patterns for most of the UK. However there is one convention strongly followed in Scotland and by families elsewhere, usually those with some Scottish ancestry. This standard convention named the:
It is highly improper, 'ungentlemanly' and a sign of ignorance to use Arms that you are not legally entitled to and have not inherited. Just because you have the same surname as someone who was granted arms does not mean that you too, can use them. You will need to prove your descent from the original holder. Mind you, no one is going to prosecute you for casual use, although they might do if you try to use them commercially.
In the case of Scottish Clans the above applies however, a member of the clan (not a direct descendent) is entitled to wear the Coat of Arms with the belt and buckle surround.
To have the Coat of Arms of the Chief or of the person it is granted to, on an object is actually stating the object belongs to the Chief or owner of those Arms. In fact the Court of the Lord Lyon will legally sue any person using your Coat of Arms free-of-charge!
They contain nonspecific genealogical information on how surnames *in general* originated, how to begin your research and where to find certain records. This particular information does not change from book to book.
However, there is a section at the back of the book that IS specific - a world listing of people bearing your surname. Whilst it is interesting to see the worldwide distribution of your surname, this information is often several years out of date and is not guaranteed to be complete.
Cost varies from country to country, and their offer is 'money back guaranteed'. If you decided to purchase the book and it was not satisfactory, you could probably get your money back. Interestingly, they have been forced to cease the sale of these books in the USA.
If you want more information, there is a very good web page on Netiquette at the URL http://www.fau.edu/rinaldi/netiquette.html or via anonymous FTP from ftp://ftp.woodgate.org/FAQs/netiquette.txt or via the URL http://www.woodgate.org/FAQs/netiquette.html
ftp://ftp.woodgate.org/FAQs/archive.txt. It is also available on the WWW at the URL http://www.woodgate.org/FAQs/archive.html
The group is open to anyone with an interest in genealogy in any of the populations in or from this area, including, but not limited to: people who live, lived, or may have lived there; emigrants; immigrants; colonists; residents of former colonies; and their descendants.
The scope of the group reflects language, history, migrations, and the realities of researching public records and genealogical data archives, and includes questions of local customs and history, or of regional or national history which affected the lives of these people and which are difficult to research in the present. Posts may be in any language but those seeking replies from a wide spectrum of readers (or at all) would be well advised to post in English.
The focus of the group is on the genealogy of individuals, as members of ethnic groups, and as part of migration patterns. Postings on topics unrelated to genealogy, especially relating to current political or religious topics are not acceptable.
Postings concerning general surnames searches are not welcome and should be directed to the soc.genealogy.surnames newsgroup or to any appropriate subgroup that may be created. Postings containing MIME attachments, graphics, binary or GEDCOM files, and program listings are also not acceptable.
The newsgroup will be gated to the existing mailing list GENUKI-L which will be renamed GENBRIT-L. The gate will be two-way so that all messages posted on either side will appear on both sides. The postings will be archived and made searchable by email, WWW or other such means.
All on the GENBRIT newsgroup appreciate and thank you for the time you have taken to read this, and welcome your participation.