Genealogy news roundup: Database of Norwich freemen records published

By Rosemary Collins, 14 September 2017 - 2:25pm

Plus: ‘Staggeringly huge’ number of convict records available on new free history website; Family history companies appoint new CEOs; Plans for Cheshire history centres approved

The Freemen of Norwich. Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield

Centuries of records of those awarded the freedom of the city of Norwich are now available to search in a free online database.

To mark the 700th anniversary of the Freemen Registers, which started in 1317, the Freemen of Norwich have begun putting them online.

The records from 1714 to the present day, with nearly 20,000 entries, are already available. These will be followed by the medieval and early modern registers, and in due course by the information on 'citizens', as freemen were also known, from the Enrolled Deeds from 1285.

Each admission record provides the name of the new freeman, his trade or occupation, method of entry - be it apprenticeship, patrimony, purchase - the name of his father or master and his date of admission.


‘Staggeringly huge’ number of convict records available on new free history website

The stories of convicted criminals, including those sentenced to transportation, can now be uncovered on a new free history website.

Digital Panopticon launched at a conference in Liverpool this week as part of a project by the University of Liverpool, University of Sheffield, University of Oxford, University of Sussex and University of Tasmania in Australia.

Named after an 18th century theoretical prison where all the inmates can be watched by one guard, it includes information on the lives of 90,000 individuals convicted of crimes at the Old Bailey between 1780 and 1925, many of whom were transported to Australia.

The project lead Professor Barry Godfrey, a social historian at the University of Liverpool, called the project “a resource the likes of which we have never had before” with a “staggeringly huge” amount of information.

'Staggeringly huge' number of convict records available on new free history website


Family history companies appoint new CEOs

The companies behind two of the biggest family history websites have both announced new CEOs.

Findmypast has appointed Tamsin Todd, replacing interim CEO Jay Verkler, who will remain at the company as chairman of the board.

At Ancestry, meanwhile, CEO Tim Sullivan is stepping down after 12 years and will transition to becoming chairman of the board of directors. The company’s chief operating officer, Howard Hochhauser, will replace him on an interim basis.

In a separate move, Ancestry said it had postponed plans for a public offering after submitting a draft statement in June, but would “continue to evaluate the timing” for offering stock.


Plans for Cheshire history centres approved

Proposals to move Cheshire Archives and Local Studies into two state-of-the-art history centres have been approved by the county’s two councils.

Cheshire East council cabinet approved the plans at a meeting on 12 September, followed by Cheshire West and Chester council the next day.

Under the £13.6 million scheme, the bulk of the archives will be moved to a new history centre in Chester, with the Crewe-specific ones housed in a centre within the town.

Cllr David Brown, Cheshire East deputy leader and cabinet member responsible for archives, said the history centres “would be key to delivering an accessible, up-to-date and improved joint archive service”.


FamilySearch adds records of Japanese internment

Records of the Japanese-Americans forcibly interned during the Second World War have been added to FamilySearch.

In 1942, after America entered the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the War Relocation Authority was established, with the power to detain Japanese-American men, women and children in internment camps.

FamilySearch has added 96,910 records and 2,106 images.

They include information such as the names and dates of birth of each family member interned, where they lived before internment, when they were detained and which camp they were taken to.


Somme commemoration wins in National Lottery Awards

A dramatic tribute to the casualties of the Somme has been voted Britain’s best heritage project in the National Lottery Awards.

‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ took place on 1 July 2016, the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War battle.

It saw volunteers playing the ‘ghosts’ of 1,400 British soldiers killed that day appear in public places around the country.

It was chosen as the winner of the heritage category by public vote from a shortlist of seven. The National Lottery Awards ceremony will be broadcast on BBC One on 27 September, with the winners in each category gaining £5,000 and a National Lottery Awards trophy.


Primary school children take DNA tests in European project

Pupils at Rayleigh Primary School in Essex took part in DNA testing from Living DNA as part of a wider educational project to understand their own history and how they connect to others around the world.

Over 30 children, aged between five and 11, took a DNA test and had their personal results, including which nationalities and ethnic groups are included in their heritage, revealed in one-to-one sessions.

Rayleigh Primary was chosen to take part in an Erasmus learning project alongside schools in Malta, Croatia, France and Poland.

Peter Malcolm, headteacher at the school, said: “Children are surrounded by confusing messages about increased migration and Brexit, and as a result can feel very separate from anyone they don’t feel is the same as them. That’s why we wanted to bring this education into the classroom, to show that we’re not so different from one another after all.”

County Durham mining heritage hub to open

The culture and heritage of County Durham miners will be celebrated in a new hub following a new £250,000 grant.

County Durham Community Foundation awarded the grant to the Mining Art Gallery, which will open in Bishop Auckland on 21 October.

The museum will include displays of paintings by coal miners turned artists such as Norman Cornish and Tom McGuinness, and look at everyday life in the mining communities, including popular hobbies, working men’s clubs, domestic duties and the Durham Miners’ Gala.

The Mining Art Gallery was created by Auckland Castle Trust in partnership with the Gemini Collection of Mining Art, and is part of the Trust’s £70 million plans to create an "arts, faith and heritage destination of international significance".

‘Staggeringly huge’ number of convict records available on new free history website
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‘Staggeringly huge’ number of convict records available on new free history website
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