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!

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