Monday, December 31, 2007

Rounding off the year

As this will be my last posting of the year, a year end round up seems a more appropriate subject than just a "catch up" of December's activities, although I need to do that first.

At the beginning of December, a couple of new databases were mentioned on the mailing lists:
The Dublin 1911 census became available from the National Archives of Ireland – 38 references to Parrys, although five are a family of "Kaye-Parry" and one has Parry as a middle name. Some of the entries were in boats and it took a bit of searching to find the Parrys in these, since there were several images in each set, but I managed it in the end.
Some Seaman's Wills were launched by the National Archives (DocumentsOnline) - 10 Parry records there. Interestingly, two appear to have been made on the same day, for two Parrys who are on the same ship. I wonder whether they are related or whether it is just coincidence.
Another researcher sent me details of the Bendigo Goldfields Petition of 1853, which has three Parry entries.

A certificate arrived on the 24th from the Billericay marriage challenge. I also received one on the 28th from the Aylesbury challenge. These were both 100% successes, since there was only one Parry entry in each of the districts. The variation in the number of Parry marriages in the different registration districts around the country will be an interesting subject to investigate when I finally get all of the information collected and can start plotting the distributions of events over time. As with the census distributions, I imagine the analysis will demonstrate how Parrys have spread across the UK from Wales over the years.

So that's a quick summary of the main events since I last posted here, but how has the overall year gone?

My resolution for 2007 was "to be more organised". In some ways, it's quite depressing to look back at the tasks I was considering at the start of the year – transcribing the census entries for my three main counties and getting them online, transcribing some Wills for Llanvallteg in Carmarthenshire in order to investigate the use of a coat of arms, collecting and checking the GRO entries, etc. – and to realise that none of them have been completed.

So I'll concentrate on the positives for the year instead!

I have managed to submit entries for almost 40 marriage challenges.
I have written some web pages to support the mailing list and message board.
There have been frequent extractions from new databases, many of them discovered as a result of the suggestions made on the Guild forum, which remains one of the best resources I know.
I have received and replied to over 300 specifically Parry related queries, of which 56 have been from new contacts (two in the last few days).
And I have started a Parry DNA study.

With regard to the last point, I missed out one event that occurred in December – the arrival of the results for the first participant in the DNA study. These were originally due to arrive during January but I received a notification on 20th December that the initial markers were posted and, by the 24th, all 67 Y-DNA markers as well as the mtDNA results were available. The mtDNA haplogroup of J* seems to indicate a maternal ancestor associated with the spread of agriculture into Europe during the neolithic period - interesting, but not directly relevant to the Parry surname study.

Of more relevance are the Y-DNA results – haplogroup R1b1c, which I understand is part of the most common haplogroup in Western Europe. No exact matches above 12 markers so far in the database, and no Parrys amongst the limited marker matches. But, since the Y-DNA is also that of my own family line, receiving the results has made the end of the year feel like a new beginning.

I have already mentioned that doing more work on my own family will be a goal for next year. Publicising the DNA study further on the appropriate mailing lists and message boards has now been added to that. There's still a lot that I need to learn and understand with regard to the use of DNA for genealogy but hopefully that will come with time – time to read my new resources, "DNA & Genealogy" by Fitzpatrick and Yeiser, and Chris Pomery's new book "Family History in the Genes". I thought Pomeroy was an uncommon name (1523 in the 2002 Office of National Statistics database database, as opposed to 35614 Parrys) but Chris mentions 1400 Pomeroy researchers who have helped him build up the Pomeroy study over 7 years. Thinking of ratios, the equivalent number of possible Parry correspondents could be interesting - perhaps I won't work too hard on the publicity to start with!

Other goals for the year – improving the organisation of the study will continue to be a priority, especially with regard to correspondence. There was talk on the forum recently about managing communication and better use of technology such as google mail. I should also develop some standard letters for administrative issues, such as on the mailing list or for those people who contact me not knowing where to start with research, as well as find a more efficient way of producing responses whilst investigating queries. That might help me to avoid the situation I currently have, of about 15 researchers awaiting replies where I know what needs saying but still have to write it all in a sensible order.

The work on transcribing the censuses for my three main counties will continue – that fits in with doing more on my own family as well as helping several contacts that I have specifically said I will produce pedigrees for. Systematic data collection, especially for the vital records to ensure I make full use of opportunities such as the marriage challenges, will be ongoing. I also hope to publish more on the web site and ensure that it is updated regularly. The Heraldry pages, in particular, will be an early target. And, finally, I intend to investigate using resources such as facebook for contacting people interested in the Parry surname.

That lot should certainly keep me busy in 2008. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Parry’s Reptilian Wonders

It can be quite frustrating to discover a Parry reference and then not be able to follow it up further. A few weeks ago, on the One Show, Neil Oliver did a feature about the Royal Menagerie. In the discussion afterwards, they happened to show a photograph of a travelling zoo, which I noticed was called “Parry’s Reptilian Wonders”. I have written to the programme to ask for details about the source of the photograph but have not received a response. Searching the 1901 census site for Parrys who were travellers or had an occupation concerning zoos, circuses, animals, or reptiles, did unearth one possible family when I used “travel*” as the search term. There’s a couple from Lancashire, visiting a house in Worcestershire - William aged 25, with his wife Margaret, aged 21, along with a 7 month old son who was born in Staffordshire. William and Margaret both have the occupation “Travelling Showman”, which could be a promising lead – although I might have expected them to spend the nights in their own wagon, rather than sleeping locally.

But, so far, there are no other clues. So, if anyone comes across “Parrys Reptilian Wonders”, I’d really love to hear about it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Another interesting book

I received another "new" book today – the fourth volume of Michael Powell Siddons’ work, "The Development of Welsh Heraldry". It has a photograph of the monument to Blanch Parry at Bacton in it, as well as a photograph of one of the two Parry windows at Atcham (which were removed from Bacton in 1811). I already have photographs of some of the arms at Atcham on my page concerning the Parry families who used the "fess and three lozenges" (here) but I am aware of differences both in the arms shown on the various memorials to Blanch and also in the interpretations of those arms so perhaps it is time I gathered the information from the various sources together.

Interestingly, Siddons also quotes from notes made in 1569, concerning some arms seen "in Mr Parri’s howsse" in Herefordshire - but they do not include the standard Parry "fess and three lozenges" and they do include the arms of Moreiddig Warwyn. Later documents seem at pains to point out that the Parrys do not descend from that Moreiddig but from "Moreiddig of the Golden Valley".

So there’s a puzzle to investigate next year.

To do more work on the Parry heraldry will go with my other New Year’s resolution – to do more on my own family. And no doubt I shall be continuing with the ongoing challenge of "organisation"!

There have been several new databases recently:
US passports applications on Ancestry – I actually remembered to use Parry as a keyword, so picked up 221 entries, as opposed to just the 145 surnamed Parry. Some of the additional references relate to addresses (born in Parry Sound, live in South Parry, Ohio or Parry City, New York, etc) but most of them are people with Parry as a first or middle name, so they’ll be interesting to follow through.

Ancestry also added the Australian electoral rolls (1901-1935) - 4965 entries there. And I noticed the Radnorshire marriages for 1813-1835 which I don’t think I have seen before, so that’s another 56 entries.

I do have quite a list of sites to check that have been mentioned on the Forum. I have also sent off requests for three marriage challenges this week, as well as recently received results from others, so there is still a lot going on (despite the absence of blog activity).

And, with the DNA study starting up, it looks like 2008 could be an even busier year.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ruth’s book launch

I took a day trip to Bacton, in Herefordshire, today, for the launch of Ruth’s book, "Mistress Blanche, Queen Elizabeth I’s Confidante".

I’m really looking forward to reading it, since Ruth has been able to examine, and have transcribed, some documents which have never been available before. So it will be a great addition to the information that's known about this Parry family from Herefordshire, as well as of relevance to anyone interested in Elizabeth's court.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Parry DNA Project

Back in May, I briefly wrote about attending the Guild DNA seminar and about how there probably needs to be a lot more "paper research" before DNA can be used effectively with regard to the Parrys. But following recent discussions on the forum, I decided it was time to act. So, despite the fact that the paper research still needs doing and that I haven’t even caught up with all my emails, I have taken the opportunity to set up a Parry DNA project. Well, actually, Susan from the Guild made all the arrangements, so it is a big thanks to her for doing that. But I am the administrator for the project so now it’s down to me. I still need to update the project profile page, so that it describes the project in more detail. I’ll also need to update my own Parry web pages and the Parry profile at the Guild, as well as let people know about it via the mailing lists etc. But at least the actual testing system is up and running. Information can be found at

Thinking of the mailing lists, in my last entry I wrote about the lack of activity there – October has now had more messages posted to the list than any month ever, and more than the last five months added together! It is encouraging to see people helping each other. Unfortunately for me, the majority of the postings have been message board postings, and the topic has wandered from its original subject, which means I shall have to work out how to tidy up the threads – something I haven’t particularly had to do before. (But I’m not complaining!)

Some other new information arrived today, in the form of two marriage certificates from the Poplar marriage challenge. One of them, Annie Eliza Parry who married William Edward Orchard in 1866, I have been able to identify in the earlier censuses. These challenge results always provide an opportunity to search for specific people in a way that I probably don’t do when just collecting census information. It often results in me being able to match people up across the censuses. Unfortunately the other marriage result, William Parry who married Emma Croxton in 1869, is a bit more elusive. Interestingly, his father was a James Wellington Parry, who I don’t think I have come across before (a middle name like that would tend to stick in my mind). There are a couple of Parrys with Wellington as a middle name nearer to 1900, but I can’t see any obvious connection at the moment.

Talking of marriage challenges, I did finally get the Bromsgrove entries submitted, as well as a few relating to challenges with only a small number of Parry entries, although I still have another large area, Marylebone, to check through. Sometimes jobs take longer than expected – but other times I just get sidetracked. A few days ago, I considered posting an entry entitled "Good intentions". It was going to describe how I had started the day full of plans to catch up with various emails and get several sets of challenge submissions organised but how I had soon found myself doing other things. This was because, when I started to answer an email from a new contact in Australia, it reminded me that I had not extracted all the Parry entries from the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

2251 entries later… (and no emails, challenge submissions or blog entry achieved)

And, as people start their Christmas countdowns, I realise I have less than three months to achieve last year’s resolution!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Picking up the pace.

I was going to call this entry "What happened to August?" but then it might have turned out to be one of those backward looking, "too many things to do, not enough time to do them" posts, which would not do justice to the recent activity on the study. As it happened, from the point of view of new databases and active research, it was a fairly quiet month and, yes, that was fortunate, since I was busy doing other things.

But over the last few weeks there has been a veritable flurry of activity on the study.

I have sorted and sent off details for all but one of the seven marriage challenges recently announced. Most of them only had one or two Parry entries but the seventh, which I am still working on, is for Bromsgrove. With its proximity to the counties bordering Wales, it was no surprise to discover there are 71 entries to check.

Some members of the Guild have now started to carry out "birth and burial" challenges, as well. So I have my name submitted for three of those.

There have been updates to a few databases, as well as a new site launched. The City of London burials on findmypast now contains 190 Parrys, instead of the 167 that were there when I checked in April. Another decade has also been added to the Passenger lists – there are now 5395 Parrys listed for between 1890-1939. The new site is, subtitled the Official Non-Parochial BMDs Service. It is a pay-per-view site, at the moment covering items contained in RG4 and RG5 at the National Archives. As some of the Guild members have pointed out, there are some anomalies in the transcriptions, and some of the information is available on the IGI, so it isn’t necessarily worth paying to obtain more details at the moment. But it is certainly a site worth keeping an eye on, as the intention is to add more records and an index pointing to available information is always a help.

Correspondence, as usual, is an issue, with some long-standing items that I need to go through to check the information on, still to be answered. On the other hand, it is an exciting aspect of the study, with 8 new contacts since the beginning of August, several of which are researching Parrys in "my" area. Another pleasing aspect is their own locations – whilst most of my contacts are in the UK, with some American and Australian researchers, two of the newer contacts have been from France and Germany, which may provide some insight into the mobility of certain families. Being able to put the French researcher in touch with a UK member of the same family is an added bonus.

Of course, it is never possible to "clear" the correspondence. I managed to answer five queries one day – and by the end of the day every one had written back to me. Perhaps it’s an indication of the vibrant state of Parry research, although one wouldn’t think that's the situation looking at the Rootsweb mailing list and message board. I must start to regularly encourage more postings on there.

It’s certainly time to pick up the pace.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A day out

I went on a day trip today to Trellech, Monmouthshire, with CADAS, the local archaeological society. It was mainly to visit the dig (see the Lost City of Trellech) but we called at several other places in the village, including the church – where I found a Parry:

The text says, “Underneath lie the remains of Hannah Parry Wife of Willm. Parry of this town who died April the 19th 1814 in the 50th year of her age. Long nights and days I bore great pain To cry for cure was all in vain Till God who knew what time was best Did eat my pain and gave me rest”

A list of churchwardens indicated that a William Parry was a warden from 1799-1804, so perhaps that was her husband.

I didn’t spot any Parrys in the graveyard itself, but only had time to check a few of the stones so there may have been some. But I did see the name again – on several estate agent's signs belonging to Parrys

Well, one-namers are supposed to collect every reference!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Compulsory civil registration, and new databases.

There was an interesting discussion on the Forum recently concerning civil registration and whether or not registration was compulsory for births prior to 1874 – it turns out that it was, but the onus was on the registrar to collect the information, rather than the parents to report it. This perhaps helps to explain the details on one of the certificates I bought some years ago – Albert Edward Parry, son of David and Jane Parry, was born on the 2nd July 1865, at 18 Neville St. Abergavenny, and christened on the 21st July 1865 in the Abergavenny Methodist Church (according to a transcript of the church records that I obtained after buying the birth certificate). However, his birth was registered on the 23rd December 1865 by Mary Yarnold, of Neville St, Abergavenny, who was present at the birth and who gave the date of birth as the 16th July. She also reported the mother to be Jane Parry (i.e. no maiden name) and gave no father’s name.

A search of the 1881 census, the only census easily available at the time, revealed Mary Yarnold to be a lodging house keeper.

I initially had difficulty in obtaining the certificate from the local registrar – because I had given the father’s name as David Parry and the mother as being either an Esther or a Jane. This was because, at that time, all I knew was that Esther, David’s first wife, had still been alive in 1861 but that, by 1871, he was married to a Jane. I was therefore trying to narrow down the likely timescale for the death and remarriage by identifying Albert’s mother. Since the certificate gave every appearance of Jane having been an unmarried mother, the staff at the Registry Office thought the details were too different for it to be the right certificate but, with a bit of persuasion, they did send it to me. Although I was convinced it was the correct one, I often wondered why the certificate was worded as it was. Finding the baptism seemed to put paid to my theory that David and Jane had been unmarried at the time and that Jane had perhaps taken herself off to a lodging house to have the baby “quietly”. Perhaps the explanation is actually just that the parents didn’t register the birth. Then, months later, either through general conversation or specifically checking likely places, the registrar found out about it and registered Albert with Mary supplying the details as she remembered them, just to ensure that a registration took place.

Later research traced the death of Esther on the 14 June 1861. The marriage of David and Jane still needs to be confirmed, since they don’t appear to have married until 1873, by which time they were probably expecting their third child.

I occasionally buy Parry related things from ebay – the most recent item was an auction catalogue for “The Parry collection”, a collecton of largely 18th century furniture made from either Welsh oak or of English walnut, which was sold at Christie’s in London in 1997. Little genealogical value to the catalogue, of course, but it’s interesting to have something which not only relates to a Parry family but also gives an insight into the items some Parrys may have been involved in making and others may have had in their homes.

There have been two databases mentioned on the Forum recently that are on the City of London site (although not that easy to find from their home page!) - the Diocese of London Consistory Court Wills Index, which has 19 Parry entries, as well as one Perry who is “otherwise Parry”, and the London Signatures Index of both Wills from the Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex and marriage bonds from the Commissary for the Archdeaconry of Surrey, which contains 12 Parry entries and 2 for the spelling Parrey. I still need to explore the information more thoroughly but there are a few familiar names so I know some of it will match to other information already held.

There’s also been a new index added to Ancestry - the Australian Convict Transportation Registers, which includes 55 Parry entries, and one with a middle name of Parry. Several of them were convicted in one of “my” three counties, so I shall have to try to find the records of their convictions as soon as possible. At least that should be fairly easy now I have conviction dates.

The marriage challenge at Blything has been completed with a 100% success record for Parrys, all 7 having been found. As if that wasn’t good enough, six of the marriages possibly relate to three generations of the same family, and their earliest ancestor found in the 1841 census, a John born abt 1780 outside of the county, was still alive in 1851 – from which it appears he was born in Hereford (one of my three main counties). And when I tracked down the couple from the 7th marriage in one of the censuses for London, it turns out that the groom was born in Breconshire, yet another of my main counties.

I’ve a bit of a backlog of emails at the moment - two new contacts on consecutive days at the beginning of July, and another two in the past four days, combined with the continuing correspondence with several others, means I currently have about 13 outstanding queries as well as the trees I said I’d check through for people. So, apologies if you’re waiting for a reply, I will get there eventually.

But I have just discovered that Ancestry now have the full British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 online (rather than just the A and B surnames) so I think I just caught the “collecting bug” again!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Yet another summary of activities.

I try to keep an ongoing log of activities concerning the study, which I then attempt to pull into shape as a (hopefully) interesting and informative blog entry. But sometimes (ie now!) the list of unfinished comments is too extensive to do that with so I’ll just highlight a few of the most important recent happenings.

I’ve checked out and submitted the details for the six marriage challenges which had been announced by Guild members. It was interesting that, out of the 14 marriages, only one was in the June qtr, the January and September quarters had three each, and the remaining seven were all in the December qtr. Obviously only a small sample but it will be interesting to see what the distribution is for all of the marriages (once I have finally extracted them all.)

I also received three certificates for marriages found during the Halifax and Huddersfield challenges. Together with those mentioned previously from Whitechapel and Poplar, they’ll keep me busy for a while, looking for matching information in the censuses. It can be very frustrating to find the relevant couple on just one census and then have them disappear (as Samuel Parry who married Martha Kitchinman in 1850 currently do, after their appearance at RG9/2910/53/3.) But sometimes the information found can lead to more than I expected – as in the case of a widow, Rachel Parry, who married a missionary, Zechariah Wilmshurst, in Poplar in 1872. Checking on the 1871 census, I found a possible entry for the widowed Rachel and then, in 1861, Rachel as the wife of a Thomas E Parry. Despite living in London, the Thomas Parry was born in Monmouth, so that raises the interest level, since it’s one of my three main counties. A quick search on FreeBMD using her maiden name, Rawlinson, (obtained from her father’s name on the marriage certificate) and I have the first marriage as well – Rachel Rawlinson married Thomas Edward Parry in London December 1846, so that ties up with the 1861 census family.

A contact in Australia reminded me about the First Families site, especially this page which relates to a Thomas Edwin Parry, born Kingstone in Herefordshire, and his Scottish wife Elizabeth. I’d had a look for them in the 1851 census before, finding a Thomas and Elizabeth in "Kington" in Herefordshire but she wasn't born in Scotland and they just seemed too old to be the right couple. This time I checked on Family Search, found Thomas Edwin’s christening in 1830 to a Thomas and Elizabeth, and then found two possible Thomas's in the 1841 census. One of them had a mother called Ann so, although a second marriage for the father Thomas was a possibility, I decided to investigate the other one first. This Thomas was with a family surnamed Brimfield, and there was also a 13 year old Eliza Parry present. So I looked for her christening and found a possibility, also to a Thomas and an Elizabeth, in Kingstone in 1828. I then looked for marriages and found the marriage of an Elizabeth Parry, with her father as William Wathen (so probably a widowed Parry), marrying a Brimfield in 1839. I then checked the Herefordshire Family History Society's monumental inscription index which indicated that a 35 year old Thomas Parry was buried in Kingstone in 1836. So this time it does look like I might have identified Thomas Edwin’s family.

Thanks to the same contact, I realised I hadn’t extracted occurences of Parry as a first name from the Queensland bmd indexes – this is necessary not just because of those cases where Parry is a genuine first name, but also to find those where it might be the first part of a double barrelled surname, such as in "Parry Okeden" and "Parry Winton". Looking through the list, I notice a few other familiar names – Parry Woodcock (perhaps connects to the family of Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, the composer, since I know one of the early generations there had a Parry-Woodcock marriage) and Colston Parry (the family I recently constructed a pedigree for, although I don’t know where this particular person fits. Perhaps it’s a lead to another branch, although it’s possible the name is just a coincidence).

Talking of the Colston Parrys, I’ve been contacted by yet another descendant of that family, so am about to start comparing information with them.

And whilst on the subject of contacts (‘tho’ not actually directly Parrys) I received one of the Genes Reunited "Hot matches" emails recently. These often contain people who match those on my tree purely in name and birth year, (which probably has something to do with me only putting such limited information on the site!) But this time I realised one of the three entries for the name of my grandmother, "Elsie Thomas", was actually a likely match. And when I searched for other Thomas’s in that area, it confirmed that there were actually two researchers who have put my grandmother’s family on the site. So I have rejoined GR in order to contact them and finally get around to working on my own family again. Perhaps I’ll get time to follow up some of the Parrys as well while I’m a member.

And, lastly, a couple of new/updated databases – Findmypast now has the passenger lists for 1920-1929. There’s 28 pages of Parrys, 1367 records. Strangely enough, no sign of my grandfather. It’s a good job I already knew he should be there and what ship he was on. A search for the ship (Cedric) by date (1924), using Donald as a first name and Par* for the surname soon found him – transcribed as Parey. Well, I guess I should have known I’d have to look for some variants as well! (15 Parey, 12 Parrey, 6 Parrie, 18 Pary, and 15 Parie). The current total number of passengers using Parry and my own choice of variants gives me 4597 results. I won’t risk using their variants – "Parry" with variants produces 14900 records.

And secondly, Ancestry have added the Breconshire marriages 1813-1837 to their site. This database was compiled by two of the local researchers, Alan Powell and Brian Hemmings. One does need to remember to search by keyword, not just surname, in order to pick up both brides and grooms. But it’s great to have this data available online. It really does seem time to get back to working on "my" main area for a while.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Limited Time

Time on the study has been a bit limited recently, because of other commitments. This situation always leads to a backlog of correspondence so, over the last couple of days, I have been trying to catch up. As usual, there has been a variety of queries.

One was a new contact whose ancestror, a Hannah Parry, was born in 1811 and married before the 1841 census, so normally not someone I would be able to find much information for. However, the researcher had found later relatives, an Andrew Dorricott and his family, listed on my site, because their nephew, a Henry Parry, was with them. That seemed like a good start but, despite being able to trace the Dorricotts through the censuses, the Parry side remains at a standstill until some certificates or parish records are examined, since the Henry was born about 1872 and does not appear with his own family in any census.

Three of the contacts were people who had been in touch some years ago but had recently come across something which prompted them to get in touch again. There was also an enquiry from someone writing a book about the bishops of Barbadoes, three of whom were Parrys. That correspondence will certainly be ongoing since there is a lot of information available but it’s a matter of gradually putting it all together. Perhaps they’ll be candidates for another page on the web site, although I shall obviously have to ensure I’m not duplicating anything the author wishes to write. There was a similar query on the Parry message board, about a Baptist minister – I must remember to reply to that, there’s no dates given so a request for more information is probably necessary before anyone can help there. I did reply to another message board query, from someone who was “completely stuck” - that’s not even been acknowledged yet. I hope they were notified of my response.

A researcher who’d been in touch last year wrote to say that she’s found some relatives, which was great news (even though they are no longer Parrys, since they’re descendants of a daughter). I realised, thanks to the Guild marriage challenges and the recording of “cardinal points”, that her earliest Parry marriage, of Thomas Bancroft Parry to Priscilla Boucher in the March qtr of 1877 probably took place in Stepney St Dunstan. If she can view that record, it should enable her to confirm a possible census entry for Thomas as a 5 year old and therefore move back another generation. Talking of marriage challenges, I received results from two of them this week – 100% success rate for Whitechapel Stage 2, with 8 out of 8 found, plus two more results received from Poplar district. Several other challenges have been announced recently so I need to organise the data to submit to those – fortunately not too many to look up since none of the areas are Parry “hot-spots”.

Going back to the correspondence, I finally managed to reply to the researcher looking for the William Parry, father of a William born in 1864. I hate to admit defeat but, at the moment, I just can’t identify him amongst all the other William Parrys. I do hope that, as I gradually complete all the census details and matching up of entries, he becomes apparent, but it’s not looking hopeful at the moment. So many of the people change their ages and birthplaces from one census to the next that anyone who doesn’t have other family with them to help confirm who they are is always going to be difficult to identify (and that’s to say nothing of those who “disappear” for a census or two. Did they go on holiday, emigrate, or just get mistranscribed?)

But at least now the only outstanding correspondence is four people whose information I have said I’ll check through to see if there is anything I can add, so they all know that will take me some time to do.

Oh, and the replies starting to be received for the messages I’ve just sent!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Too many Williams

As often the case, the lack of posts does not mean there has been nothing going on with the study – rather the opposite, having received emails from six new contacts since I last posted, as well as continuing correspondence with several other researchers.

Sometimes it seems that most of my time is taken up by communicating with people, rather than collecting information but, since many of the enquiries do involve looking up details in censuses and following families through the years, perhaps it’s really just a different aspect of "collecting". The important point is making sure I end up transferring all the details collected into the master files for the study – back to organisation again (which, based on the mounting piles of paper, is something I still need to work at!)

But the general collecting does continue. I noticed one of the Guild members had a tagline for the Geograph British Isles project so thought I’d try a search for Parry related places, with some success:
- Parrys Field Barn, near to Fisherton de la Mere, Wiltshire (SU0039)
- Parry's Castle, Carmarthenshire (SN4114)
- The New Parry aqueduct on the Montgomery Canal (SJ3529)
- Parry's Lane, near to Westbury Park, Bristol (ST5775)
-The Llyn Harri Parry section of Afon Seiont, near to Bethel, Gwynedd (SH5264)

I know, from searching on map sites, that there are a lot more Parry related places in the UK so it has acted as a reminder that I still need to write a web page to collect the information together. (One of the new contacts has also told me of a road in Gosford, New South Wales, which was named after a Henry Parry – it makes a change to find a place in Australia not named after Sir William Edward Parry. Some information on Henry’s family can be found in the Australian Dictionary of Biography)

It is also possible to search within the descriptions of the photographs on the Geograph site. Doing so finds several references to individual Parrys - Llywelyn England Sydney Parry, who built Craflwyn Hall, near to Beddgelert, Lady Love Jones Parry for whom a property called Glyn y Weddw was built, R. Williams Parry, a poet, Tim Parry, one of two children killed by a bomb in Warrington in 1993, Sergeant R. O. Parry, one of the crew killed when a Lancaster bomber crashed in 1945, and finally Arthur Croose Parry who, along with Walter James Probert, is remembered on the war memorial in Birley, Herefordshire. That’s another reminder for me - the Croose Parrys are one of my "priority" families, that I intend to write a web page for. There’s currently some pictures relating to a heraldic query for them on my site at, but there’s a lot more to be written.

I had some credits to use up on so collected the Parrys in the London Burials database (167 entries). There was a message from the Origins network to say that they had also added the London City Burials to their site – I must have visited them too soon after receiving the message, since it was showing no results for Parrys. However, I have just rechecked and it now includes 192 Parry entries. I still need to investigate how this differs from the burials on Findmypast.

There was a message on one of the mailing lists concerning Ancestry giving free access to their US military records until June 6. Since I currently have a subscription, I can view them at any time but such messages always prompt me to have a look and start extracting! (only 132 databases with Parrys in – ranging from just one entry in many of them, up to the 1,153 in the WW1 Draft Registration cards. Tho’ strangely enough, searching from the main search page only finds 88 military databases with Parrys in – it looks like some of the databases normally included in categories such as "Family and Local Histories" might also have been made available amongst the military records offer.)

A probate entry I suggested might be relevant to the researcher of the coal business family has proved to be so – Thomas Parry of Saint Mary Islington , Middlesex, whose Will was proved in the PCC 10 November 1857 mentions his sons Thomas Sparke Parry and William Valentine Parry, as well as three other sons. So that’s a success in identifying that link.

A marriage challenge for Newport Pagnell has been announced – from a quick search on FreeBMD, there are four Parry entries in the district so I shall have to get those references checked and see if it is possible to find them on the IGI, before submitting the details to the challenger.

And finally, why the title? It’s a comment on two of the queries received from the new contacts, which have both involved trying to identify people named William Parry. So how does one identify someone with a fairly common name, born in the late 1820s, who may or may not be with family in the 1861 census (and I don't know who the family were, except the father was another William Parry), who may or who may not be married (he was recorded as a widower on a marriage certificate in 1864 but there’s time for the first marriage to also have taken place after the 1861 census), who died before the 1871 census, and who is likely to have an occupation along the lines of labourer, farm labourer or Ag. Lab.? Especially when people seem to appear and disappear across the censuses, because they vary their birthplaces and ages, as well as move around, which makes it difficult to know whether a particular entry in one census really does match to a particular entry in another census (and that's not even considering the mistranscriptions which disguise people).

I guess that’s why I collect them all – but currently, there are just too many Williams!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A quick summary

I’ve finally caught up with most of the backlog, which built up whilst I wrote the Colston Parry page. There’s been a few emails exchanged as a result of the page, but no-one has specifically started discussing the evidence needed yet.

Another thread started on the message board, concerning a family who ran a coal business. Once again, middle names have been helpful since two of the siblings were called Thomas Sparke Parry and William Valentine Parry, which are fairly unusual names. The researcher has created a tree on Ancestry for them (although for some reason it isn’t found by searching and currently needs the direct link - )

There are times when something brings home to me the enormity of carrying out a One-Name Study on a name like Parry – like looking at how many trees exist on Ancestry for the name. And one of the things pointed out at the Family History Show at Olympia was just how easy it is to connect someone else’s tree to your own now, if you think it fits. That might sound like a good idea but I imagine it could lead to a further proliferation of unproven pedigrees. Which is one reason for me not to worry about the number of trees available – since it’s better to stick with the established sources.

I’ve added the mailing list resources page to the Rootsweb List Pages WebRing which should help to improve its visibility (announcing the pages on the mailing list itself would probably also be useful!).

Results from some of the marriage challenges have arrived – 17 in total from Bristol, and 6 so far between Marylebone and Poplar. I need to make time to add all the details to my certificate list and to see if the information matches up to anything else I have.

Finally, last Saturday I attended the Guild DNA seminar. I still haven’t found any males amongst my own Parry family to take a test, but there are a few Parrys showing in the searchable databases. However, there’s probably a lot more "paper research" needed before it can be used effectively in Parry research.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Finally posted the Colston pedigree

After several weeks of working on it, I have finally posted the page containing information about the Colston Parry family, at . Lets hope it prompts some collaboration between the five researchers who connect to the line.

As a side effect of doing that, I have also written some resource pages for the Parry mailing list and message board. No doubt they’ll develop further as time goes by, but I hope they prove to be beneficial to researchers.

Now to catch up with all the other things I’ve been ignoring for these past few weeks!

Monday, April 23, 2007

More sites and a Marriage Challenge sidetrack

A few interesting sites have been mentioned on mailing lists recently:
Buckinghamshire Wills, which has no Parrys (the nearest is "Parryt", but there are many Parrots or similar so it’s probably a variant spelling of that). But it reminded me that I ought to make a list of all the county related sites, such as this one, to ensure that I cover them all when I work on the probate items.
Queensland Historical BDM Indices for the period 1829-1914. I had some difficulties with this site initially (reverting to just 20 results and not going beyond page 1) but I was able overcome these by using "next" rather than the page numbers.
Online Genealogical Resources of the Westchester County, New York, Archives – found 9 entries in the marriages records and 11 under naturalization so that’s useful (although as just index entries, I don’t know how easy it would be to identify the same people in any other records, without obtaining copies of the entries to find out more information first).
Mention was made, on the Monmouthshire list, of a web site for Govilon, which led me to another site concerning the village history. We visited this parish in 2002, mainly for my own family history, since my 2xgt grandparents are buried here, along with one of their children. I discovered the existence of the local history group’s work then, but it is good to see that they now have a "web presence" and that there is also some Parry information noted under the censuses. More incentive for me to get these various families identified – this is one of those "too many people with the same name" areas!

FFHS Ezine arrived yesterday, which reminded me about the catalogue for the Lambeth Palace Archives now being available online. This had been mentioned on the Forum earlier in the month but I didn’t have time to follow it up then – and I didn’t get far today either. It’s possible to carry out several different searches so it really needs exploring properly rather than a quick search. Just using the Keyword search in the printed books catalogue find 186 references to Parry and, although there are only five Parrys in the Names Database, one of them, Edward Parry the Suffragan Bishop of Dover, does have 346 entries to his name.

The ezine also mentioned the Manchester petition concerning the abolition of slavery – I’m glad to see the only Parrys were in support of the bill, a Richard Parry, a Jacob Parry, and a James Parry. No other information on them though.

I forgot to mention in my last posting that a marriage challenge had been announced for the Reading district. I was sorting out the entries for that today (6 entries), checking on the IGI (2 found) and censuses (2 possibles found) and ended up thinking about how the availability of records these days makes it easy to research some things. One of the marriage entries was for a Richard Parry, March qtr of 1896. There’s only one other name on FreeBMD, an Ada Emily Rivers. No guarantee that they married each other, since transcription of the index is incomplete, but it seemed plausible so I looked for a "Richard and Ada" in the 1901 census (unsuccessful). There’s a lot of Richard Parrys, but the only one in Berkshire was an actor and appeared to be married to a Sybil. So then I looked for an Ada Parry – none in Reading and the only wife of a Richard elsewhere was an Ada Ellen in Wales. There were several possibilities to investigate in England without husbands – the most likely seemed an Ada E born in Oxford, living in Kent. She was the Head ("wife" crossed out) but was recorded as married. With her was a one year old daughter and a 40 year old "sister" Edith Parry. Now that’s obviously an anomaly – could it be that this Ada was a Parry who married a Parry, a Parry who wasn’t really married but said she was because she had a child, or was Edith in reality a sister-in-law? Could this be the right Ada?

Searching for Ada Rivers, with a keyword of Oxford, found one entry in 1881 – daughter of a Wm Geo. and Sarah Rivers, born about 1872 - and living in Reading. Using "Oxfordshire" found them in the 1891, still in Reading. No sign of a sister Edith, and the parents would have been too young to have a daughter of the right age anyway, but certainly the Ada looks a possible for the marriage.
So, back to the hunt for Richard Parry. Assuming he’s a year or so older than Alice, I searched for a Richard with birthdate of 1870+/-5 to allow for "census variations" (those few years that people sometimes lose at census times). Fifty entries in Wales, another one in Scotland, but it’s more sensible to start with the thirty nearer to home, in England. Some were easily discounted, because they’re Heads with wives listed. But there’s a promising looking entry in London – a married man, a civil engineer staying in a hotel in London. But he’s born in Yorkshire, so was he just down temporarily from there?

Using as a keyword the birthplace for Richard from 1901 – "Idle" – I found one 1871 census entry, 5 year old Richard, to an Albert W and Alice A Parry. Richard is actually born in Bradford, and the family are living in Eccleshill. This is the advantage of using "Idle" as a keyword not as a birthplace – Idle is actually only mentioned in the entry as the Sub-registration district, so I’d have missed him on a birthplace search.

And there’s a daughter Edith, aged 10, in the family.

Putting Bradford as the keyword to re-search found Richard in the 1891 (but not 1881). He is a surveyors clerk, in Streatham, London and has his sisters, Edith and Rosa, with him so that entry ties in with both the earlier census entry and the 1901 sister Edith.

And then trying a keyword of Yorkshire found the family in 1881 – in St Giles, Reading, Berkshire. Clearly the family had been in the South for some years.

So everything looks good, but is it? Without the marriage certificate to confirm details such as the fathers' names, it could all just be supposition based on coincidence. I just hope the challenger can find the marriage entry!

And finally, I now have a Freepages account on Rootsweb to use as support for the mailing list and board, so will be able to put there any particular trees that I can’t put on my own web pages, but which really need to be displayed somewhere for people to collaborate on. So I need to get on and write the initial pages and the Colston tree page to put up there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

One thing leads to another..and another….

Recently a “renewed contact” sent me her tree to look over so I have been working on that, whilst also putting together some information on the Colston Parrys. Both families have people who emigrated to the States - which led to me deciding I really ought to do something about systematically collecting the information for there, even if only in index format. So I then extracted the 1920 and 1930 census details, as well as made a list of the items available on Ancestry for the US. I know I collected a few bits and pieces from the site when they allowed three days free searching a while ago, so it’s important I get myself organised to do that properly. But it’s definitely a job that needs doing this year.

I was a bit surprised that there had not been a reply to one of my message board postings but, when I checked the board, I discovered there were actually several messages posted which had not come through to the Parry list – so then I had to email the Rootsweb helpdesk to let them know the gateway appears to have broken. Unfortunately it looks like an intermittent fault, since some messages do get through and others don’t. An ongoing problem there.

Continuing to investigate the Colston Parrys, I had a look at the Bristol Wills Index, which had been mentioned on the Forum back in December – there I found an entry for an Edward Colston Parry who died in 1857. I’d seen that death in the BMD indexes but couldn’t account for it amongst the people I had so far found in the censuses. But now, since it clearly was an adult, not on infant death, I checked out the BVRI and found a possible christening of an Edward Colston Parry to another Edward Colston Parry, in 1803. I suspect, although it will need confirming, that the father is a sibling to the earliest entry I had previously found (a William Colston Parry who had children between 1787-1798).

The possible census entries leading from that christening matched up to some of the “stray” Colston Parrys I had found, so that accounts for several of them – and then I made contact with a researcher connected to the line through a correction they’d submitted to one of the census entries.

There’s been new contacts from several sources after the last few days – not only that one from the census correction, and two who have emailed me directly (make that three, since another email was received today & still needs answering) but also another one via this blog. I’d been thrilled to get my first comment on the blog, which had been from a Guild member who kindly looked for the death of the Lieutenant Parry – but to get the second, from a Parry researcher, is just as exciting.

I do hope they all respond to my replies – the number of new contacts who then don’t acknowledge my response is increasing. I shall obviously have to start either asking for a receipt to such emails, or sending a follow up message to confirm that they did receive my reply. That’s a shame because it all adds to my work, but perhaps it is something I can plan for, or set up to happen automatically – in which case at least it will lead to improvements in my computing skill!

Another coincidence occurred whilst looking for the Colston Parrys in the censuses. I had noticed some (unrelated) Parrys in Bristol, who were born in Buenos Ayres – and then the very next day Howard posted a link on the forum for a site with information from there. That led to me finding the details for the marriage of the parents (which gave me the father’s name) and baptisms for some of the family and, since I was now intrigued enough to look for them elsewhere, also to finding the family in another census.

Notice of an offer for some free credits on the Scotlands People site was posted on a mailing list, so I took advantage of that. Initially I extracted the census index information from Ancestry, thinking that would enable me to identify any entries which were particular priorities, so that I could then obtain copies of them. It did, in that there are several people from “my” three counties. However, it also became apparent that there are differences between the indexes on the two sites, so I then used the credits extracting the index entries from Scotlands People as well and will now need to purchase more in order to obtain the full details for those census entries, as well as to look at the other indexes. There’s definitely a need to prioritise, because of the cost, but at least I now have some idea of the totals involved, which I wouldn’t have done if it hadn’t been for the free credits.

And, finally, the standard “New Names” message arrived from Genes Reunited to let me know that 719 Parrys have been added to the site since 4 April 07.

Phew, somehow I am glad to know that the message doesn’t need to lead to any action on my part (only because I’ve already collected the entries in the regular trawl that I now carry out twice a week!)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Correcting mistakes

A recent attempt by an inventor to cross the Serpentine in an inflatable balloon prompted a letter to the Daily Telegraph by a Jenny Jones, of Hampshire. It appears that her 3xgt uncle, a Sidney Parry who was a soldier in the Life Guards, once attempted to swim the Serpentine dressed in his full uniform. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the other side. He is pictured on the British Empire site.

Of course, nothing is ever straightforward – the site indicates the event was in 1833 but the date given by Jenny is 1834. And, since that was prior to civil registration, there’s no easy way to confirm which is correct. To do so will probably entail finding his burial, (although perhaps a memorial or newspaper report may provide the answer).

I seem to have come across quite a few errors of one sort or another recently. I decided to taking a break from writing emails and do some census transcription instead. Almost immediately I found two entries mistranscribed as Crouch when they should be Parrys. Then a housekeeper as Higgins, the Head of Household’s name, instead of Parry. And then a married daughter of a Parry, whose surname was dittoed to her husband’s surname of Jones, and yet she was transcribed as Parry. So I gained some and lost others!

I also discovered that, where I had previously submitted a correction to Ancestry (again, a case of a married daughter who had been given her maiden name of Goode, instead of her married name, Parry) Ancestry have highlighted her mother and sister and added a note that they also have the alternate name of Parry. Now that’s just silly!

I imagine they use software which “thinks” that if one member of a family has had their name corrected, then all those related to them should as well, rather than having a person actually checking the submission. But the moral of the story for researchers is to beware of the little yellow triangles which highlight an alternate name, because they could be very dubious “alternatives” (and there does not seem to be a way of checking how the triangle came about – whereas actual corrections indicate the submitter – so, unless you can make sense of the other corrections in the household, you could easily get caught out on the names).

Talking of errors, hopefully I have prevented one, by suggesting to a researcher that his family probably did not come from North Wales, given that all the evidence places them in Bristol. It’s a family I call the “Colston Parrys”, since they often use the name Colston as a forename, which makes them fairly easy to spot. Only “fairly” easy - there are a few censuses that I am unable to find them in and there are also a few entries I can’t account for, so it will be interesting to see how they eventually all fit together. Pity most of the marriages are outside of the range for the current Bristol Marriage Challenge.

But I have managed to check and submit entries for the four other challenges soon to begin, so that will be a help towards identifying all the GRO marriage entries. Again though, errors can be an issue – at least two of the entries I have received details for, from earlier challenges, have then turned out to relate to Perry families when matched up against census information (despite everything in the GRO system recording the name as Parry).

I have occasionally commented to Guild members with “old” English names about how their names appear to have a lot more spelling variations than Parry does (which also then leads to more possibilities of mistranscription for them). And I’ve assumed that the difference is due to the longer time that their names have had to mutate, since Welsh surnames settled later than English ones did. But sometimes I get that nagging feeling that, perhaps, when I finally start matching up all the Parrys, I shall find just as many of them “missing”, because they are listed under some unexpected spelling variations.

And perhaps, in the end, the distinction between Parry and Perry will not be as clear as expected based on the theories concerning their origins.

Friday, March 30, 2007


I thought it had been a quiet spell recently, but now that I have looked at some of my activities…..
- a link to an index of Methodist ministers and probationers who have died in the work was posted on the Forum – that contained 9 Parry entries and one Parys. All but one of them should appear in some of the censuses so identifying them in those is on the 'to do' list.
- a link was posted on the Powys list for the gravestones section on the Llanspyddid Community Website. There are three Parrys listed, so I spent some time looking for relevant census entries – found some intriguing links but establishing all of the connections is not easy so that will require some further work.
- another message reminded me of the Longtown Historical Society’s site. When I first searched for Parrys here, I found four pages of references, now there are 16. Clearly a site that needs returning to – especially since it is the parish where my own family were living in the mid 1800s. Aren’t I fortunate that my Parry ancestors lived in an area which now has some keen local historians in it!
- a couple of addresses were posted relating to the Gloucester Record Office and an online index to the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeology Society. There are over 100 Parry references in each, but I know I have looked at these sites before so need to check back first before extracting any more details.
- amongst various ongoing communications with Parry researchers, I also received emails from two who had not been in touch for several years. They’re both researching Parrys in Monmouthshire, largely in 'my' area, so that’s a promising sign for making more progress on the Parrys there during this year.
- had a look for some information on 'Parryville' after a link was sent to me by another researcher. I wonder if I’ll ever find out exactly how many places in the world are named after Sir William Edward Parry, the arctic explorer?
- Results from the first stage of the marriage challenge in Whitechapel district received (Thanks, Howard) – 11 out of 12 marriages found. To put that into perspective – if I was researching those particular families to the extent that I needed to know what was on the certificates, this challenge has saved me a minimum of £77 (or a lot of time searching through otherwise unidentified registers).
- four other marriage challenges have been announced so there’s a few other entries for me to sort out (fortunately none of the recent challenges are hot spots for Parrys)
- I went on an interesting 'sidetrack', when I was checking my one and only entry for the Epsom MC, a Robert Gee Parry. Since it is a fairly distinctive name, I decided to search through the censuses to put together the family. That was reasonably successful but, in the course of it, I began to wonder whether a lot of the 1851 for Manchester is missing. Why does something which starts off relatively easy, then become so much more complicated?
- Booked to go to the 'Who do you think you are?' show at Olympia in May which should be good. Any other Parry researchers planning to attend?
- yesterday there were problems with the search on Ancestry, which seemed a major issue for a while, since neither the nor .com seemed to allow any searching. But it was possible to browse the new databases so I did that instead and found they now have Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1956. I thought that might be a useful source and, once the search facility returned, I found I was right - 566 Parry surnamed border crossings, and 32 with Parry as a first name. But there’s 1,235 with Parry as a keyword, so there must be many entries where a Parry is a contact, or next of kin, etc.
- Received an email from NAOMI, the 'National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions.' Although it does have 11 Parrys on the site, I don’t think I shall be purchasing the details, not at £4 per inscription!

So not a quiet few weeks after all – perhaps better described as a ramble, than an amble.

And perhaps I should try posting more often!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Errors and Discoveries

Recently, I was checking the references for marriages to send to the upcoming challenges, confirming the FreeBMD transcriptions using the images on Ancestry, and also searching for the items on the IGI. Whilst doing this, I was surprised to notice a quarter which seemed to have no Parry references (March 1846). The image on Ancestry is a typed one and the surnames ran from Parrott to Parsison.

Since there were references on FreeBMD for that quarter, I had a look at their image, which turned out to be handwritten. Initially I had thought that perhaps a whole page had been missed out when the typed indexes were produced but it soon became obvious that it was just the Parry entries which were "missing" from the typed version and that they ran over several pages in the handwritten version.

The solution? The typed version shows no heading for the Parrys – so there are only five entries which should be Parrott, from an Ann to a Susannah, then the first names start again with Ann but, because the “Parry” is missing, it looks like they are all Parrotts as well

I wonder how often such a thing might happen with a less common name, where it is unlikely to be spotted? At least with Parry, I know there will always be some of them in every quarter so would be suspicious enough to investigate if I found none.

A couple more sites mentioned recently on mailing lists – the Museum of Freemasonry (which also has information on other similar societies) has a searchable catalogue which produced 16 results. Many of them related to the fact that there was a company by the name of Parry who produced some of the medals and regalia. But there were also a few books written by Parrys, which reminded me that I have still not decided on the best way of recording such things.

The London Gazette site was also mentioned. I have come across that one before but again, it should be on my “to do” list because it needs proper organisation and a systematic approach to tackle it, since a search over the whole current date range produces 14803 Gazette Editions that contain the name!

Finally, the discovery – yet another “fess and three lozenge” reference. Found in a Surtees Society publication of the Visitations of the North (Yorkshire and Northumberland) for the family of Baguley, “gold a fess between three lozenges azure” (p120, which is p136 if you use the page box in adobe). Somehow I think this one could be an error, since their normal coat of arms is just three lozenges, and the note does state that the shield is not recorded elsewhere. But it just shows how easy it might be for a single reference to mislead people.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Not directly concerning research but related to the web site and therefore relevant. I received an email last week letting me know that two of the links on the site didn’t appear to work. “Strange,” I thought, “they work for me.” But it was apparent, from the copied text in the email, that something wasn’t right. It turns out that IE automatically corrects little errors in coding – and clearly confusion on my part when I was teaching myself how to write web pages, such that I put \ instead of / on certain links, has probably resulted in some people never being able to view particular pages properly!

Which is a bit of a disappointment, given the number of years since the first pages went online.

I have now (I hope) corrected all of the links. I also realised that a couple of the pedigrees were likely to be displaying incorrectly in certain browsers (images which should align horizontally being displayed vertically instead). Fortunately, I found a solution to that elsewhere on the web so that has been corrected as well.

Ancestry are beginning to add British Army WW1 pension records to their databases. There’s only the A and B surnames at present, but a keyword search turns up three results with Parry either in the contact address or as one of the first names (although I suspect one of those might be mistranscribed as George Parry Blackwell, when it should be George Percy Blackwell).

There have been two new contacts since the end of February, so correspondence with them and some of the other more recent contacts has taken up a reasonable amount of my time. Another marriage challenge has also been announced, so sorting out the entries for those four challenges must be my priority over the next couple of days, although I have also been working on the web page for the Parrys of Penderi – one of the families using the “fess and three lozenge” arms. That’s something I would like to place online fairly soon, since I have received help from two researchers local to that area and it would be nice to show that I have actually done something with all the information they have sent me!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Contacts, more contacts, and Marriages challenges

Isn’t it strange how, sometimes, the things that should be easy to find, turn out to be very elusive. Since the last posting, I’ve received messages from four new contacts, plus a renewal of contact with someone I was last in touch with in 2004. Two of the messages were easy to deal with – one was someone just starting out on research and wondering what to do. He’d already made a good beginning by contacting living relatives, and so it was easy to pass on details of my own page with sources for new genealogists, and a few of the other useful sites, such as the BBC, which has a "getting started" section. The second was a current Parry who’d come across my site and thought they’d write. Again, an easy one to respond to.

Two of the other contacts, strangely enough, were both looking for Parrys called Robert – unfortunately, not the same Robert! What with possibilities of name changes and second marriages for both of them, I knew they would not be very easy to identify. But we have made some progress.

But in the final case, the researcher very kindly sent me a tree going back to the 1800s. And can I find them in all the censuses? No!

Both of us have come up with the same possibilities for some of the entries but second marriages, possible mistranscriptions, and children being born just after census dates have "conspired" to turn what looked like being an easy task, into quite a search. Such is life. Good job I like a challenge.

Talking of challenges, I’ve finally submitted my (19) marriages for the Bristol challenge and suddenly there are three more challenges being announced on the forum. The kindness of Guild members in undertaking these challenges is really appreciated (even if I do have to get a move on to check the details for my entries before submitted them. That’s minor work compared to what they are taking on.)

Other news – I have updated some of the pages on my web site, to tidy up my Sources and Resources page, and to include the link to Ruth’s site. Ruth and I have also been "chatting" about coats of arms. The details of a Surname information site were posted on the forum, but subsequent comments by the experts (i.e. the one-namers who know their own surnames better than a general researcher would) indicate that much of the information is suspect (so I won’t even repeat the link!). Genes Reunited continues to grow – between the 9th – 23rd Feb there have been 1101 new entries for Parry (according to the "Genes New Names Alert"). I wonder how many of the submitters are actually researching or whether it is just people submitting their recent families?

And, finally, I discovered that the University of Wales, Aberystwyth has been granted the funding to put Bartrum’s Welsh Genealogies on-line. (BBC article) Brilliant news for those of us interested in the old pedigrees but who don’t live on the doorstep of the NLW. Mind you, with all the Welsh naming that is in there, I wonder how long it will be before "researchers" are publishing all sorts of pedigrees showing how their family connects to those in Bartrum’s work?

Perhaps it's a good job the project will take three years - that might give me sufficient time to identify some of the Parry families who genuinely trace back to them.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Matching marriage entries, and other news

I have almost finished sorting out the Liverpool district Parry marriages, to help Susan with her challenge. The process is not really complicated, just time consuming, as I have mentioned before. Basically it involves:
- already having a listing of civil registration items (perhaps extracted from something like Freebmd, or transcribed personally from the GRO indexes)
- collecting the items on the Lancsbmd site (relatively easy because it is possible to download a csv file of the results).
- checking each item from Lancsbmd to find its GRO reference (using Freebmd as far as possible but looking up on the original images where necessary). [For a low frequency name, it might be possible to skip this step and to match to a listing of the civil registration items just on the basis of the names alone but this is not possible for the Parrys – they’re just too common.]
- matching the Lancsbmd listing with its added references to the listing of civil registration items.

In some ways, it would be easiest to run the match process using a program like Access but there are some difficulties with doing this. Firstly, if running the match on the basis of just the GRO references, then there are additional entries created in any situation where two Parrys have the same references (which can happen because of Parry-Parry marriages but there is also at least one case of two Parrys marrying non-Parrys yet having the same references. Was it a brother and sister marrying on the same day or was it just coincidence that they followed each other in the register?) Although it is possible to automatically delete any duplicates, this won’t solve the problem of "false matches".

But, if the original matching process takes names into account as well as references, then it won’t match items where there are slight differences in spellings, such as the Susannah who appears on Lancsbmd as Sussanah, or the James who probably should be a Jane. And it certainly won’t match the "Christina" who probably should be a "David John"!

Although the Freebmd name transcription can be checked back to the original indexes, there’s no way of checking the Lancsbmd entries. And what if the transcription is correct but the spelling is just different in each source? Such situations lead to the question of whether I really need to be adding a standardised name column to every file as well (which I will obviously need eventually, when I finally want to put all of the names into a master index. But do I want to sidetrack onto consideration of "standard forms" at the moment?)

And, of course, any automatic matching process using the GRO references, presupposes that the references on the civil registration listing have all been corrected (which they haven’t!)

In the end I just find it easier to match using Excel, keeping all the columns of each file but then also having one column with all the GRO references in to sort on, which brings the matching items next to each other enabling them to be combined manually. It might take longer but I keep control and at least I know there are no false duplications. Then it is just a matter of putting the information into a form that is usable by Susan since I have sent both a full column file (in case she wants to double check anything) but also a reduced file based just on the references and including spouses and church, which should be easier for her to work with for the challenge.

Hopefully, having now listed all the process, it will remind me of what to do if much time lapses before I tackle any more UKbmd sites.

Other news - more years have been added to the passenger lists on findmypast – it now covers from 1890 – 1909 and includes 2038 Parrys.

Another researcher mentioned a strange entry on FamilySearch, where what is possibly her Williams family have all been entered as if a Caleb Parry is their father (easy to find – use "All resources, look for a Martha JASPER, with Caleb in the father’s name. First entry, on the IGI, for Martha Williams Jasper, born 14 FEB 1821 Llanbedr, Brecon, Wales, is the relevant one. Click on her and then the "Family" link alongside Caleb.). Having done some further searching, I found an entry in the 1871 census for Abergavenny showing a Caleb Parry visiting the Jaspers. Caleb was originally recorded as a Minister, to which someone has added "Latter Day Saints". Now I wonder when that was added!

Caleb is recorded as being born in America but, based on various census and IGI entries, I suspect he might actually have been born in Flintshire, and that he then moved out to Utah, marrying a Catherine from Wales either before or after he arrived there (or on the boat, as some IGI entries have it). He then returned to the UK around 1870/71, and died in Birmingham in 1871. There’s also an interesting collection of other marriages, along with some children born to one of the other wives, children who do appear with Caleb and Catherine in the US census. I wouldn’t have been able to tell from just the census entries but it seems possible that this is my first case of the "multiple marriages" one is reputed to find amongst the LDS.

Funnily enough, one of the names which appears in the family is Bernard, and I have just dealt with a query from another researcher who has family using that name, in the same area of Flintshire. I wonder if there might be a connection there? It’s a pity there are so many of these North Wales families – it will be a fascinating job to sort them all out eventually but, at the moment, I just don’t have the time or resources.

Next priority is to update my website, and add that link to Ruth's site.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The last few days

Two sites have been posted on the Forum regarding indentured servants to the US. One has 7 results from just a Parry search (3xPARRY, 1xPERREY, 3xPERRY). However, a soundex search produced 32 results, including 2x PERREY and 9xPERRY. The reason for the difference is that the other results found on the Parry search all have Parry as a spelling variant within the entry. It’s always useful to explore what results different search methods produce on a particular website, especially when dealing with early records. It helps in determining the best strategy for searching, in order to get the right balance between picking up everything which is relevant, without being inundated with irrelevant entries. The second site did not appear to have a specific search facility, so needed to be searched using Google’s site search. That indicated there were 36 pages with references to Parry, but the site is familiar - have I searched it before?

I have been thinking about organisation and how little things can make a difference. Sometimes it happens that I come across a site whilst searching for something else, or a useful site is mentioned on the Forum but I either don’t have time to look at it, or else I just carry out an initial extraction and don’t finish tidying up the information. I often leave the Forum messages highlighted to remind me to go back “at some stage” – but then I don’t always check back through those emails when a “new” site is mentioned. How much simpler it would be if I just had one spreadsheet into which I entered all the web sites when they were first mentioned, including details such as whether there are any Parrys, if so, at what stage my extraction is in, and for sites where information is still being added, the date I last extracted the details. Doing that would mean I only have one place to check to see if I have already done work on the site. It would also enable me to clear out a lot of my old emails. Just a simple piece of organisation.

The trick is to make sure I stick to the system!

Two burial sites mentioned on the Forum, following on from one concerning Missouri death records (which is still sitting highlighted in my “GOONS” messages folder) – St Lukes, in Upper Norwood, Surrey with 1 Parry, and Jewishgen, which has 1925 results using a “sounds like” search but only 3 for exact spelling Parry. Since one needs to register to view the details, I have left it for the moment. But that’s now four entries in my new spreadsheet.

Some good news – Ruth’s book on Blanche Parry is with the publishers, although it sounds like it could be near the end of the year before it is published. I will set up a link to her site, which should help her to get noticed on the search engines. It will be interesting to read what she has discovered, especially with regard to the family as they appear in the bardic poems – one of the few more contemporary records relating to them.

A marriage challenge for Bristol 1837-1851 has been announced. I thought I might have quite a few entries but there appears to only be 19. I’ll need to go through and see if I can find any of them on the IGI, or other such sources, first before I can submit them. But that project is such a help to Guild members. I have also received copies of some certificates from another researcher so that adds to the collection. I must set out my timetable for tackling the marriage indexes – but I still have the Liverpool entries from 1881-1911 to sort out first to help Susan with her challenge.

Todays emails included the Rootsweb review. I often only skim through that, but of course it also includes a list of new databases. I should really try checking them when they are announced – or at least add them to my new spreadsheet. I hope it proves as effective as I am finding my “activity log” for emails. There is something quite satisfying to see 3 emails received (just this morning – one renewed contact from 2002, one about the marriage certificate, and one about an unsuccessful deeds search) and all of them marked off as acknowledged already. It helps to keep a sense of order to the study.

Now all I need to do is clear the longer outstanding ones which I have marked in red!

Friday, February 02, 2007

So much for being organised!

The blog is certainly failing miserably at its task of letting people know what’s going on with the study. But, never mind, I have decided that the success of a New Year’s resolution should be measured by whether the planned action is consistently in practice by the end of the year. So I still have plenty of time to get organised and into a better routine of writing it.

There has been a lot happening though. Firstly I’ve made up my mind with regard to the civil registration indexes – largely as a result of emailing Susan, the Liverpool marriage challenger. Although I’m not submitting any of the Parry marriages for the district, she said that the listing iteself would be of help to her and that perhaps I would find the Lancsbmd site of use myself. I certainly did – it turned out that there are 964 entries on there which related to the period covered by the current challenge. Although some of them were duplications (because separate entries appear to be made for both maiden name and the 1st married name when someone has been married before) I have been able to match almost 600 entries so far from the Lancsbmd to the GRO listing. Which means those GRO entries now have the spouse and church details added to them, making it much easier to identify a particular marriage amongst the many Parrys with the same name.

At the same time, I was also trying to match those Liverpool items which are on the IGI to the GRO, since that also helps to identify the relevant churches and spouses. The two matching processes have been time-consuming, since every Lancsbmd entry initially needed looking up in the GRO just to be able to match the items properly, and the second marriage issue did cause me a few problems (Parry entries in Lancsbmd aren’t necessarily Parrys in the GRO). There were also anomalies with the IGI because some items are on there with the surname as, for example "Jones or Parry" or "Parry or Jones". And there is a difference between these because one is found when using Parry as a search term and one isn’t. This means that the entries found on the IGI are not actually the ones which will be found on the GRO as having married under the surname Parry. Confusing until you realise what’s going on.

But the final result of all this work has been the realisation that it could be possible to identify quite a number of the GRO marriage references – not just who is marrying who, but also which church it took place in – through the UKbmd sites, and that is definitely worth doing, so work on the GRO marriage index has become a priority for this year. (And I’m wishing there were a lot more districts covered by UKbmd sites!).

Whether the GRO birth and death indexes will follow remains to be seen, since I do still want to get the census entries for my main counties transcribed fully and online, as well as some particular family trees derived from them.

In line with the decision to work on the marriages, I have made a start on contacting the 35 other Guild members who might already have the full details for some of the marriages, since they have submitted entries to the GMI indicating a Parry married into their registered name. This of course adds to my correspondence, which has also included five new contacts since I last wrote, as well as renewed contact with a researcher I last wrote to in 2002, and over twenty other Parry related emails received – most of which I have answered but there are still a few long outstanding ones.

There’s a few specific items to mention from the correspondence – one of the new contacts was having difficulty with her Parrys in Herefordshire, because there appeared to be some duplicate entries, but with slightly differing details. This illustrated how a One-Name Study can help in sorting out such situations, since I had sufficient information to be able to demonstrate that there were actually two different couples called Henry and Emma Parry within the same area, both of about the same age, rather than there being some error in the way the census was enumerated. I’ve received a very interesting enquiry with regard to Parrys who were prisoners of Napoleon – I’ll write more on this in a later blog entry since I’m only just beginning to look into it. The issue of surnames possibly being used as first names was touched on by another query – in this case the researcher was trying to find out about a James Burdett Parry in London who, unfortunately, died before any of the censuses and civil registration began so I am struggling to find much about him. The interesting point though, is that in Herefordshire there is a John Burdett Parry, whose wife came from London – could there be a connection or is the use of Burdett just a coincidence?

As I was answering this query, Daniel posted to the Forum a method for searching middle names on Freebmd – which obviously I checked out for Parry. Only just over 4900 on there at the moment. The question arises as to whether such entries are considered part of an ONS. Some researchers say no, because they regard an ONS as just instances of the *surname*. Others say yes, because it is still use of the name – and, since the situation often arises through use of a maiden name as a middle name, one would expect such entries to be of help in identifying marriages. But, with a common surname, there can be as many (if not more) "first name" instances as some other One Name Studies have in their entire study!

Other interesting points from the past month (most courtesy of Guild members as usual) – a site about Family History in India which has 39 pages with Parrys on (still need to sort out those), the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office have put their Wills index online and some of the items have the images freely associated with them. (32 Parry entries – still to follow up properly). The passenger lists on Findmypast (used to be 1837 online) have 774 Parry entries so far (just for 1890 to 1899). A database of cases heard in the Court of Chivalry between 1634 – 1640 produced 131 references. Many of them appear to relate to cases where a Parry was the solicitor but again, this site still needs investigating properly. A project involving the digitising of documents from the US National Archives (NARA) – it’s currently a pay to view site, but it appears the documents will be available for free after five years (which gives me plenty of time to index the 1185 documents mentioning Parrys that are already there, before I even consider viewing the actual records) (Note - the total has now gone up to 1241 since I first searched.)

Finally, during the last month I’ve also received upgrades to two very useful programs – Genmap and LDS companion (both available from Archer Software). Now I’ve just got to find the time to use them!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Holiday’s end

Well, the decorations came down yesterday and are boxed up, ready to go back in the loft, so I guess that means the holiday season really is over. Time to get back to "work".

Not that I actually stopped working, of course! Even with visitors around, it was still possible to carry out a few of those "mindless cut and paste" jobs. As I mentioned earlier, I have been thinking that I should perhaps re-adjust my priorities and do something with the civil registration entries. So, over the holidays, I had a look at Parrys on the FreeBMD site - only 45,515 births, 27,054 marriages and 32,523 deaths.

And there’s already almost 2000 new entries added to those, since they updated the site on 5th Jan.

That just goes to show what a major task transcribing the details of the civil registration indexes would be – yet alone then attempting to identify who each entry relates to. It’s a good job some of the Parrys used distinctive names. There were quite a few I recognised from queries or my own research. But in a few years time, the DoVE project will probably be on-line, which might render the current indexes obsolete.

One advantage of collecting some of the entries would be that I could submit requests to the Guild Marriage Challenges, where members are looking up church records for particular registration districts. This enables members to discover the full details of the event, making it much more likely they can identify the people concerned. However, I doubt it would be appreciated if I submitted a request to the current challenge for Liverpool – with 1141 Parry marriages in that district within the relevant timespan, it could be a good way of destroying the enthusiasm that’s been shown for the project.

So, still some thought needed as to what I do with regard to the civil registration indexes.

During the holidays, I have also been working on extracting the rest of the details for the Parry entries in the NLW probate indexes on A2A. This should enable me to identify their relevant parishes, which will be useful at the moment for sorting out those Parrys from Carmarthenshire, in particular, and for deciding whether any other probate items could be relevant to them. I haven’t yet transcribed the four items I received just before Christmas, but I have had further parish information sent to me by the local researchers. Amongst that, I noticed an entry for a Griffith TWYNING. I don’t think that’s a very common surname and I wonder whether it could relate to the Twining’s Tea company – there are a couple of references to Twinings in the book The Parrys of the Golden Vale, about the family of CHH Parry. This could be a lead with regard to how that family really connects to others who use the "fess and three lozenges" coats of arms. Something to bear in mind, at least.

There have been a couple of useful web sites mentioned on the Forum – a Directory for Cuba from 1960 netted one Parry, there was another Parry in a cemetery index from Sleaford and today I found three Parrys in the New Bedford (Massachusetts) Whaling Archives.

But I mustn’t get too sidetracked on such "new" things – I still have seven people to email with regard to Parry messages received over Christmas, two of whom are new contacts, so that is a good start to the year. Let’s hope it continues (now all I need to do is pursuade all these contacts that they really want to contribute to the study – I wonder how long it would take to collect all the BMD indexes if every Parry researcher helped?)