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BOOK - Tracing Your London Ancestors (London, UK), A Guide For Family Historians
By Dr. Jonathan Oates
Published by Pen and Sword Books, S. Yorkshire, UK (2011)
London is a key site for family historians. Many researchers, seeking to trace their ancestry back through the generations, will find their trail leads to London or through it. Yet, despite the burgeoning interest in genealogy and the importance of London in so many life stories, few previous books have explored the city’s history or provided guidance on the research resources family historians can use to discover the life of a London ancestor. This is the purpose of Jonathan Oates’s invaluable handbook.
In a series of short, information-packed chapters he describes the principal record offices, archives, libraries and other sources researchers can go to, and shows how Londoners can be tracked through censuses, registers and directories over the last 500 years. Then he explores key aspects of London’s history from a family historian’s point of view. Crime, religion and education - and the body of evidence associated with them - are covered, as is the historical trail left by taxation, health, welfare, work and business. He looks also at the military and wartime records available in the city, and at the records of immigrant communities who have had such a notable impact on the development of the capital.
Each section introduces the reader to the relevant sources, indicates where they can be found, and offers essential advice on how this information can be used to piece together the lives of distant and not-so-distant relatives.
The following reviews shed much light on the exceptional content and quality of this fine book:
- ... useful reference book for London research. Jonathan Oates will guide you through the resources available. - Family Tree Magazine, June 2011
- London has dominated Britain for the last 2,000 years. Even in late Roman times it's believed to have had a hefty population of around 50,000 people, while now it's somewhere between seven and 14 million, depending on where you decide London ends. For this book, Jonathan Oates has opted to include Greater London, the historic London and Middlesex, and neighbouring parts of Essex, Surrey and Kent.
All of this means that people can lay claim to London ancestors, even if they only arrived at the city from elsewhere in search of a better life. Oates is the borough archivist for Ealing, with several books to his name on London's criminal past.
He begins with a survey of London's history to remind us of how its status has grown over those last two millennia, and how it has been a cultural melting pot for much of that time – even in 1800, many of its one million inhabitants were from ireland, France, and indeed the rest of the world.
When exploring records for family historians, Oates first discusses 'lists of Londoners' – the census, of course, and trade and phone directories, but also poll books and London specific resources such as the Middlesex Registry of Deeds. The latter fills 12,000 index volumes at the London Metropolitan Archives with details of property owners from the early 18th to the early 20th centuries.
As befits a metropolis riddled with problems created by population density, and an author interested in crime, the next section explored records relating to the police, courts and crime and punishment. A key resource is the excellent Old Bailey Online site.
To redeem us all after the darker side of London, Oates turns next to the city's ecclesiastical records, including nonconformism and a brief mention of sources for London's Jewish population. many other areas are covered in this comprehensive volume, from education to leisure, occupations to wartime, along with separate chapters about medieval London and immigration. there's also a handy section on researching house history in the capital. Your Family Tree, June 2011
- It starts with a brief history of London, and continues with an account of lists of Londoners that are easy to access, such as the census, directories and electoral registers. It continues thematically through subjects such as crime, business, education and house history. This wide-ranging book will be of most use to the family historian who as completed most of his or her family history and wants to fill in details about the lives of specific individuals. - British Association for Local History
- This comprehensive look at finding your London ancestors is written by the Archivist of the London Borough of Hounslow, whose vast experience can help us find those elusive ancestors who settled, or just passed through - West Middlesex Family History Society
- Many people have been born in, lived in or passed through London, perhaps about one fifth of the population. With this vast number there is sure to be someone in your family tree who is included.
Dr Jonathan Oates is the Ealing Borough archivist and his book explores the city’s history and provides guidance on the resources available to the family historian. In information packed chapters he looks at the information available in the Greater London area ranging from censuses and directories to taxation of hearths, windows and Poll taxes.
The ecclesiastic records cover CofE, nonconformists, Jews and Catholics whilst education records include schools, universities and apprenticeships.
The details available on medieval London through to London under attack during the World War are also covered.
With the vast area of the capital the social and cultural aspects are large, including ill- health, orphanages, the poor and crime.
A chapter on Businesses and Working London points the way to professions, shopkeepers, Livery Companies, the Police and London Transport.
Perhaps you are descended from incomers to the UK who settled in London, these immigrants cover all nationalities including those who arrived and served in the military.
When you have discovered your relations you may then be able to find the history of the houses and streets where they lived.
The extensive bibliography gives a listing of family history societies and Record Offices in and around Greater London. - Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS)
6 X 9.25"
Table of Contents
Photos and Illustrations
Published by Pen and Sword Books, S. Yorkshire, UK (2011)
Also see: Tracing Your East End (London) Ancestors, A Guide for Family Historians
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