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21 Aug 2015

Findmypast launch index to the probate calendars 1858-1959

Findmypast launch index to the probate calendars 1858-1959
http://search.findmypast.co.uk/results/world-records/probate-calendars-of-england-and-wales-1858-1959

My first thoughts are, goodness, I have been working for a month on an index to these records, does this totally nullify my project? On some reflection, I think being able to search the indexes for any text is a good, clever and simple idea. However, its use really depends on how well the OCR (?) data has been cleaned. If you are looking for a name, occupation or street address and the records have been partially mis-keyed, or even are recorded in an unfamiliar format (e.g. 1-2 St. John-villas, London-road east, Berwick, North Britain), you could easily miss them.

Good luck to anyone searching for someone named John James. The old WillFinder database at First Avenue House was notorious for being impossible to search for someone male of the James/ John/ David lastnames. The beauty of the Tom's Wills index which I am curating will be in the visible juxtaposition of entries, and the genuine ability to browse across parishes and across many entries referencing the same surname. For me, seeing the records in context is important and without genuinely being able to browse, a chunk of the experience is missing.

Will Findmypast move towards an experience similar to Ancestry's, where more data is given in the search results? They are assuredly mistaken about the list of 500,000 names. That is off by a factor of 20 if you only count the decedents, and a factor of over 50 if you include the spouses, heirs and solicitors. (On checking, they clearly mean pages.)

Should you wish to search for using an ambiguous keyword such as Bury, you may get surnames when you are looking for place and vice versa too. Below is an example of searching on Jones.
In the meantime, come and browse the old streets and byways of the probate indexes at Tom's Wills.

Searching for Jones gives 57000 identical entries: http://search.findmypast.co.uk/results/world-records/probate-calendars-of-england-and-wales-1858-1959?contents=jones

12 Aug 2015

Records from a Big Bank - details of unclaimed estates

These records are from a Big Bank. I was googling a new relative today (12 Aug 2015) when I noticed that they appeared in this enticing document called 'unclaimed accounts', published by the bank under the authoritative-looking URL of important-information/pdf/unclaimed-final-ac.pdf. How very interesting. It was definitely our guy, and contacting his grandson on Facebook got me confirmation of this barely an hour later. I went back and grabbed the names of as many people with British connections that I could to highlight them here. I understand that this bank has sold its unclaimed assets to a third party, in at least one country where it operates. More recent versions of this list do not include those listed below. These bank accounts could have been opened before 1982 (when Harare became known as Salisbury) and some were opened after 1974 (when the delights of Cleveland opened their doors). I think I would be annoyed as a relative if I was told the money had disappeared, so perhaps genealogists can help people look into this project?
go to www.haine.org.uk/wills/unclaimed.php

5 Aug 2015

Tom's Wills - the index to British wills

Announcing the presenting online of Tom's Wills - an index to British wills currently running from 1933 to 1935. Tom Chatley was arguably the first person to conceive of an index to the list of probates held around the country. These were in book form for many years. He began writing out the entries on a card index in the 1930s, and these finally made it to the printed internet page in 2015. It was his ambition to collect together the interesting addresses and info about the personal representatives. Now that can be shared so that you too can find your relatives. Tom had a particular soft spot for people in Wales who were otherwise completely stuffed. As looking for Joneses in Wales is really tough without an address, perhaps Tom's Wills can help you? It's online at Tom's Wills.