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A Guide to Manchester & Lancashire Genealogical Research

A Guide to Manchester & Lancashire Genealogical Research

A lot of my personal research has been around the Manchester and Lancashire area. So I’ve used a lot of sources in my research, these “Extra” resources used along with the usual suspects (Ancestry, FamilySearch etc.) can yield some very colourful results.


Lancashire Parish Clerks

Lancashire Online Parish Clerks

“This site aims to extract and preserve the records from the various parishes and to provide online access to that data, FREE of charge, along with other data of value to family and local historians conducting research in the County of Lancashire.”

Lancashire Parish Clerks is great because it has fully searchable free data relating to the entire county. You can search by church, town or the whole of Lancashire.


Lancashire BMD

Lancashire BMD

The Register Offices in the county of Lancashire, England, hold the original records of births, marriages and deaths back to the start of civil registration in 1837.

The county’s Family History Societies are collaborating with the local Registration Services to make the indexes to these records freely searchable via the Internet.

Although the indexes are not yet complete for all years and districts, we hope that the database will eventually cover all Lancashire births, marriages and deaths from 1837.”

Like FreeBMD, Lancashire BMD has transcribed the Birth Marriage and Death records for Lancashire, however they have also transcribed many maiden names of mothers and list the “Age at Death” on most records up to 1837 as opposed to 1866 for FreeBMD.


Manchester City County Council Burial Records

Mancheser City Council

The Manchester City County Council Burial Records website is a fully searchable database of all the big cemeteries in Manchester. Its free to search which can also tell you the names of others buried in the same plot but if you want any more information a fee is required. Worth it if it breaks down a brick wall. The best way to use this resource is by combining it with Lancashire BMD to search for correlating deaths.


Manchester’s “Unfilmed” 1851 Census

Unfilmed 1851

“Family historians with ancestors in mid-19th century Manchester face a particular difficulty. Following transfer of the enumeration books to the Home Office in London and analysis of the contents, the area where the books were stored was flooded and the books were badly damaged. Some of the books were in such poor condition that it was not considered worth filming them. Others were filmed but much of the image appears blackened and the writing is not decipherable. Since the original books were considered too fragile to permit public access, the returns relating to over 200,000 people were effectively unavailable.”

This site has transcribed and made a searchable database of all of the names they could get out of the damaged 1851 census.






Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society

Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society

Manchester &  Lancashire Family History Society is a good resource to use as like most Family History Groups it has a member directory and local record sets. Some records are free to search but a small fee is payable if you want to access members directories. These members will often help with local research which is good for anyone not actually from the area. Their record sets also contain employee records from mills in the area. If you have working class ancestors from the Manchester and Lancashire area there’s a relatively large chance they could have been involved in the Mills.


Artus Family History

Artus

Whilst this is not specific to Manchester and Lancashire it does offer some very high resolution images of street maps of some of the cities in the area such as Manchester and Stockport. These maps stretch from the mid 1850s up until the 1940s.

How To Find Out About A British WWI Veteran In Your Tree

How To Find Out About A British WWI Veteran In Your Tree

Almost everyone will have someone in their tree that fought during the First World War (Or Great War). Naturally people we love finding these ancestors as it tends to fill us with a massive sense of national pride. Especially on Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom. Finding more out about these ancestors can be challenging but if you know the right places to look you can get a lot of information if you’re lucky.


Service Records

(National Archives Link & Ancestry Link)Joseph Thompson Service Records

The first place you will want to look is either on a paid service such as Ancestry or FindMyPast for their service records or directly in the National Archives First World War ‘Burnt Documents’ collection. Unfortunately approximately two thirds of these were destroyed or damaged during the Blitz in World War Two. If you are lucky enough to find their service records then it can be an absolute gold mine with regards to information about family as well as where they were stationed and what campaigns they were involved in.


Pension Claims

(National Archives Link & Ancestry Link)William Cane Pensions Record

If you haven’t had much luck with Service Records another place you can look is the Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims Collection at the National Archives. This is a particularly good source if your ancestor was injured during the First World War. The collection consists of microfilm copies of service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army and claimed disability pensions for war service between 1914 and 1920 and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The records are unlikely to contain information on individuals who did not claim a war pension.


Medal Index Cards

(National Archives Link & Ancestry Link)John William Barber Medal Card

This collection contains microfiche copies produced at the Army Medal Office, Droitwich, of that office’s alphabetical card indexes to recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal, the 1914 Star (also known as the Mons Star), the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, the Allied Victory Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Silver War Badge for Services Rendered, the Territorial Force War Medal and the Allied Subjects Medal. Also included are indexes to mentions in dispatches and women’s services’ awards.

On the subject of Injured ancestors, The Silver War Badge is one that might help if they were discharged due to their injuries. The Silver War Badge for Services Rendered was authorised on 12 September 1916 for officers and men of HM Forces who had been retired or discharged on account of wounds or sickness caused by war service, at home or abroad from 4 August 1914. The regulations were extended on several later dates to include wider categories, including women.


 

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

cwgc

“The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ensures that 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. We care for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 154 countries. Our values and aims, laid out in 1917, are as relevant now as they were almost 100 years ago.”

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is a great website if you want to know about an ancestor that died during a war. It has an easy to use search feature and is completely free to use. The results you get can list family members as well as the usual name and rank. It also contains civilian deaths, so a lot of people who died during the Blitz for example can be found in this database.






The Long Long TrailThe Long Long Trail Header

If you know the regiment your ancestor served in then The Long Long Trail can tell you a lot about what they did and which battles and campaigns they were involved in. While it is rare unless you have a particularly prominent ancestor such as a high ranking officer then you wont find much on individuals on this site. It does help paint a picture of what you ancestor might have experienced though.


Prisoners of WarPrisoners Of War Header

Your ancestor might have been a prisoner of war, in which case the Red Cross has a database dedicated to the soldiers that were held captive. It is fully searchable and the potential information available includes: The Reference number of the original letter sent by the family, First and Last name, Service Number, Missing circumstances and The address of the family. Whilst it isn’t a very large database comparatively, it still might be of use.

Guide To Researching French Records

Guide To Researching French Records

The further you go back in your tree and the more branches you find, chances are you’ll find a French ancestor. Unfortunately with French research you need to know the exact place that person was born (Or get very lucky with a unique surname) to be sure you’re looking at the correct person.

French records are indexed by town (Archives de la ville de ____) and/or Departement (Archives Departementales de ____) Plus modernised versions i.e. Rouen incorporated adjacent towns so some records are in the Archives Municipales (Old Rouen), some are in the Mairie de Sotteville or Grand Quevilly or Petit Quevilly, some are in the Seine Maritime Archives. The key is that there is no National Register like the UK BMD.

Cordier Birthplace

Often finding the starting point is the hardest thing. In my research almost all records that I have linked to a French ancestor have simply listed a birth place as “France” which might as well say “Born on Earth”. If you’re reading this though, chances are you have a rough idea or exact location in France the person is from. Finding that missing record that gives an exact location is what will open the door to your French branches.

GeoPatronyme

One really useful website if you don’t know where exactly in France a person is from is GeoPatronyme. It plots where a certain surname is popular and when used on quite unique names, it can narrow down locations massively. Using the French name I have been researching the picture below shows where the majority of people with the Cordier surname live.

Cordier Distribution
Genealogie.com

Genealogie.com is probably the most popular French Genealogy website currently and although it is a paid site it can be manipulated in such a way that allows you to get the basic information you’ll need to search the relevant archive for the actual records. An example I came across that will help demonstrate this was when researching “Pierre Louis Oscar Cordier”. All I knew about him came from English Records and luckily one census listed his birth place as Vendee, France.

Genealogie

On Genealogie you can do a free search but can’t view records and they are vague about the year i.e they’ll show 1900-1925 for any year between them. In this case, I searched ‘nom’ as Cordier, ‘prénom’ as ‘Pierre Oscar’ and then on the results page, under ‘Initiale du prénom’ chose ‘O’ to pick up the ‘Oscar’. Straight away, at the top of the list is a Pierre Louis Oscar Cordier born sometime between 1850 and 1875 in La Roche-sur-Yon. Narrowing it down by going back and searching again using exact years each time i.e searching 1850, 1851, 1852 etc and putting in ‘Cordier’, shows this man was born 1842.

(Edit: This particular search doesn’t work now but a similar one can be found for his marriage which leads to the same conclusions)Pierre Cordier Search

You can then choose to either pay for the record and get it straight away with no fuss or head over to the Vendée archives and try to pick it up on their free Etat civil database. If you want to learn more about French records and plan to do a lot more French research it’s worth using this method as you’ll get used to using and reading French Records.

Unfortunately most district archive sites don’t make it easy to directly link, but a quick check of the index for 1842 (at the back of the births section, not right at the back) shows me he’s there, number 192 (image 92 of 357).

Battle of Waterloo 1815



French Military Records

If the person you are looking for was in the French Military there are a few different avenues you can persue in order to find the sources you need.

The French military records, held at the Service historique de la Défense in Vincennes, have in the past been difficult to access until recently with a change of leadership, things are getting slightly easier. This however will require a trip to the archives either by you or a local researcher.

Jean Baptiste Alexandre Cordier

Gallica.bnf & Google Books

Another way is by looking at official documents, gallica.bnf has loads of searchable records that can be viewed for free, so is definitely worth a look. One way I’ve found particularly fruitful is using Google Books to search for French Military results. One good way to find sources relating to a member of the military is by searching for the surname followed by first names. For example searching for an ancestor called “Jean Baptiste Alexandre Cordier” in Google books should be done “Cordier Jean Baptiste Alexandre” as well as trying abbreviations of each, like bte or bapt in place of baptiste as well as using initials only.

Ste Helene Medal

The Ste Helene Medal was given to soldiers that fought for Napoleon and we’re still alive in 1857. If the person you are researching falls in to this date range then this can be a very valuable resource. The Ste Helene website not only has documents and translations but also portraits of many of the higher ranking officers.

Ste Helene Medal