Monday, December 08, 2008

One-Name Study Blogs

There was some talk on the Forum recently about ways of publishing research on one’s ONS and blogs have featured as an attractive alternative to producing newsletters, or other printed material. There are now 33 blogs listed as being written by Guild members. It will be interesting to read through them to pick up tips – I’m always on the look-out for new ideas, especially on how to write interesting entries.

One of the difficulties with this blog is getting the balance right between meeting the purpose of the blog (which is to keep people informed about what is happening with the study) and making it something that people will actually want to read. I try to log down in Word what I am doing as I do it but, with having a largish study, many tasks take time to complete. This means the blog can turn into a list of half completed activities, forever repeating the same things as ongoing - but the alternative is large gaps between entries, especially when other (non-genealogical) activities also get in the way and delay the finishing of things.

Several other Guild members mentioned being too busy to keep their blogs going. But with December now here, and the end of the year looming, I don’t intend to see "updating the blog" on my resolutions list so it’s back to the listing of ongoing activities.

Keeping up with correspondence has been a major issue, with two records in the last few months. On the 18th August, I received emails from three new contacts - that’s the most on any one day. Then, starting from the 23rd October, there were ten new contacts in a fortnight (looking back, it was actually nine in 9 days to start with – I’m certainly glad that pace doesn’t continue throughout the year!)

It is always exciting to hear from other researchers. As with the marriage challenges, receiving new information is an opportunity to look into a particular family and often I can trace them through at least a few censuses. So that is a form of progress on the study, even if it isn’t particularly systematic.

One researcher sent me a certificate for a marriage in Nottingham in 1922. Because of the names used, and the family’s lack of movement from the village of Llanrwst, DEN, during the census years, it was possible to follow the family line back to the 1841 census, through three generations prior to the person marrying. Obviously the details do need further confirmation but it’s a good framework to work from (and an illustration of the usefulness of middle names).

Of the three new contacts in one day, one related to Monmouthshire, and two to Herefordshire, so all three connected to my area of particular interest. One descended from a family I already knew a little of – James Pritchard was left the property of Arkstone in Kingstone, HEF, by Mrs Mary Morgan (an heiress of the Parry family), on the condition that he took the name Parry. There is a reference in the London Gazette to the name change (Gazette Issue 12920 published on the 11 September 1787. Page 2 of 8 ) and several Parrys appear with Pritchard as a middle name around that time. There had not been much cause to investigate them before, although I had collected a copy of one of their Wills, that of Elizabeth Pritchard Parry who died in 1841. Now I had a reason to transcribe it, which confirmed the initial conclusions being drawn from the IGI, census, and the researcher’s own family stories, about what happened to the family in the early 1800s. The next stage is to produce a web page of the tree (but there’s at least three other family trees that I’ve promised to write first!)

Whilst searching for information about that family, I came across a reference to a book about Kingstone, by Delphine Coleman. As an informative account of the history of the parish, it also contains details about the Parry family, including an image of the Will of a John Parry who died in 1689. Further investigation is still needed to follow up the information in the book but it is a good example of how useful local histories can be. It reminded me of another book I came across a few years ago, at one of the Family History Fairs. "Past People in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire", by June Badeni, has an account of the Parry family from Easton Grey, yet another family to be followed up when time permits. I already have photographs of many of their memorials, having visited the parish church some years ago, and there is a pedigree relating to them in the sheets I obtained from Hereford library, although its accuracy does need confirming.

Another fairly new correspondent has copies of an indenture and two property deeds relating to their family, which should help in tracing them back further. And following up what happened to the other descendant lines had one of those "you’re never going to believe this…" moments. The researcher’s discussions with more recent owners of the property indicated that there had been descendants of the family in Canada and a search through an old address book turned up a couple of possible names. I found an obituary online in which those names appeared along with some others. Could this be the family? Then onto the researcher’s doormat fell a copy of a letter and newspaper cutting that another relative had just found amongst some family papers. Yes, it confirmed that the obituary was indeed the right family – and the researcher is now in contact with their cousins in Canada, a possibility not even suspected just three months ago.

Seeing people connect up with each other is exciting. Amongst the batch of ten new correspondents were two descendants of the "Colston Parry" family (view their pedigree here). With another one of those making contact during October, that means there are now at least eight researchers of that family, and the pedigree needs amending to include all of the new information. Hopefully, being in touch with each other will encourage them to further research to become the experts on their own family, a depth of knowledge that I cannot develop for the many individual Parry families.

Of course, things aren’t always that easy – one correspondent has so little information that they are totally stuck in the 1900s and will probably remain so until the 1911 census is released early next year.

Whilst trying to keep up with the new contacts, there is also continued correspondence with others. One of these concerns much earlier records – those relating to Griffith Appenrith of Calais, who died in 1553 and whose coat of arms some claim to be a more elaborate version of the "fess between three lozenges" Parry arms. He is referred to in the Middlesex pedigrees as "Apenreth or ap Henry" so a link to the Parrys is feasible. An important article with regard to Griffith is "The Welsh at Calais" by P.T.A. Morgan. Several of the references for this article relate to records held at Longleat and, when I first read it years ago, I probably dismissed the possibility of ever viewing these, since a research student had told me about the "exhorbitant fees" often required for access to private records. However, a recent discovery has made me think again – whilst searching for information on a book about Herefordshire speech that had been mentioned on a mailing list, I came across a book cataloguing papers from Longleat, which mentioned families such as the Talbots and the Devereux. Tempted initially by the book, since these are "Parry related" families, I then thought to check A2A and found Longleat listed. It appears that at least some of the records have now been copied so maybe viewing them will not be so impossible after all. Interestingly, as well as the Calais records, there are three sets of papers with references to Parrys - one of which is an Anthony Parry in the 1500s. Could this be the Anthony from Wiltshire who appears in the probate indexes? It would be funny if, as well as finding information that establishes Griffith’s origins, the papers also contain details that help to identify exactly how the Wiltshire Parrys connect to those of Herefordshire – something long claimed by researchers but not proven. That really would be an achievement.

For a family genealogist, such stretches of the imagination would be a "no-go", since it is important to work backwards step by step to firmly establish connections. But, for a one-namer, following up all such references to the name is important. In this case, they could shed light not just on the particular individuals but also on the origins of surnames, since there are Griffith families who claim to descend from Griffith Apenreth.

Which reminds me, I still haven’t finished the web page concerning the surname’s origins, a subject that another researcher enquired about just recently.

Talking of the web pages, following on from the difficulties with the web site in August, I registered two domain names, and Since the posting problems resolved themselves, the domains are currently pointed to the existing site but they should make it easier if I do need to move it in the future.

I did actually upload the full details of the probate abstracts, although the page is not linked in to the rest of the site, since I want to rewrite the whole probate section. They can be found here. I had made a start on converting the information into a spreadsheet for submission to the Guild Probate index but that still needs finishing. The probate index is another Guild initiative which will be very beneficial as more people submit information, since it will enable members to find their surnames where they appear within the content of Wills relating to people of other surnames.

The marriage challenges continue. Since I last posted I have received results from the following:
Lincoln MC - 2 found out of the 3 submitted.
Blythswood – 1 submitted and found. This is a challenge in stages so I have also just sent 3 entries for the stage 2.
Marylebone – there have been several batches of these and it has fascinated me to see how many marriages relate to people who have moved from Wales.
Eton – 5 found out of 5 submitted. This one also led to a helpful discussion about the use of "mail merge" in the production of certificates from excel files, so I now have some linked files to play around with.
Shoreditch stage 1 – another 100% result, with 27 submitted and all found. I’ve just submitted 13 for the stage 2 as well.
Tiverton – 1 submitted and found. Now this is an interesting one from 1902 – the family of the groom appear as PARRY in the 1901 census, but are PERRY in every census prior to that, a family originating in Devon, but with the groom’s father moving to Wales by 1871. Since the marriage took place in Devon, where the bride was also from, yet the groom remained as PARRY, could this indicate a permanent name change for the family?
Cirencester – 3 submitted. Two full certificates found and the 3rd, a Register Office marriage, had the spouse identified from a local index. The two full certificates are from 1841 and 1870 and, as I looked for related census entries, I realised that the Mary Elizabeth Parry marrying in 1870 was actually the daughter of the John Parry and Mary Coole, formerly Radcliffe, who married in 1841. So that’s a neat tie up between the results.

Although I have only had a small number of marriages to submit for those challenges, there are others ongoing that I won’t be submitting to because of the number of entries involved – for the two stages of West Derby, I have a total of 1153 marriages, and Toxteth has 180. However, for a challenge at Birmingham, there are several challengers working together who are tackling it a church at a time. Even though I have over 230 entries, they have said to submit them, so I have. I might actually be able to help with some batches of that one though, since Birmingham isn’t that far away, so I don’t feel too guilty. I was across there this last week, helping to identify some of the churches in Aston, by finding a few of my Parrys. But, in the long run, it may be more practical if I carried out a more local challenge myself.

It’s not just receiving Challenge results that can lead to furthering the study. In order to obtain details of entries for the Scottish challenge at Blythswood, it was necessary to purchase units from Scotland’s People. While I had those, I extracted the rest of the Parry details from the indexes there. Perhaps not surprisingly, there seemed to be a higher proportion of variant spellings of Parry in Scotland. However, searching for variants also produces more irrelevant results, since the variants of Parrie and Parrey pick up a place, Parrie in Edinburghshire, and an occupation of a "Parrey Cox Maker".

I already had the Scottish census details from Ancestry, which was a great help. If it wasn’t for Ancestry having transcribed so much regarding parents and spouses, it would have been very difficult to sort out some of the families from the SP indexes alone, where several occur together on a page. As one might expect with transcriptions, there are differences between the information on the two sites, with people appearing on one site but not the other. It is fairly easy to resolve the situation of those found on SP but not on Ancestry, by searching using place references and just a first name, or even no name. But it is not so easy the other way round. Funnily enough, one of the latest Marylebone certificates involved someone who I then traced to the Scottish censuses, which made it worth going back and purchasing a couple of the images. This revealed that a person listed on Ancestry definitely does appear in the census, so I don’t know what Scotland’s People have them indexed under. One good point about Scotland’s People though is that, if credits have run out, buying more re-instates them, so that is good to know.

I happened to be looking at the Warwickshire County RO’s site recently, which has Parrys in their databases for Victuallers (4 as victuallers, 6 as bondsmen), Tithe apportionments (21), and Prisoners (15).

I still haven’t followed up many of the databases that have been mentioned on the forum, but there have been a few:
Manchester’s unfilmed 1851 census had 179 Parry entries.
A preliminary look at an Australian newspapers beta site gave me thousands of results so that needs closer investigation.
An Irish Mariners site turned up two Parrys.
And a Guild member let me know there are two Parrys listed amongst the yacht owners in "Lloyds Register of Yachts 1969."

I also noticed that the Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834 were on Ancestry. I’m not sure how long they’ve been there. There’s 1704 Parry surname results and, using keyword, gives 2837 results because of owners with Parry as a middle name.
Another database it is worth using keyword for is the BVRI on A, which appears under "England & Wales Christening Records, 1530-1906" and "England & Wales Marriages, 1538-1940". This is not just because using keyword picks up Parry as a first name, but because it also picks it up in other contexts, such as maiden names of widows. (An example to explain - Hercules Richard Burleigh married Florence Peace in 1876. However, Florence’s father is shown as Samuel Billington Parry. It appears, from FreeBMD and CheshireBMD, that Florence Parry may have married Henry Peace in 1874.) These are entries that would be difficult to find on the cdrom version. The only problem is that it is necessary to visit each individual page to collect parental information, whereas that can be easily saved to a spreadsheet from the cd version, with the help of the LDS companion program.

Extracting BMD information is one of the main priorities of an ONS. I was recently sent a list of BMD details by a researcher and adding notes from those to my files indicated that I didn’t yet have all the relevant entries transcribed from the GRO. FreeBMD is becoming more up to date so that helped for some of the entries from the early 20th century. I also decided to have a look at the entries for 2005, which I hadn’t yet done. Using keyword, there are 707 marriage entries (about 350 actual marriages, since all entries are extracted at least twice when using keyword), 443 deaths, and 982 births. Not all the births are surnamed Parry, of course, since using keyword picks up those whose mother’s maiden name was Parry. However, with 558 actual Parry surnamed births, the population of Parrys does appear to be increasing – although I hardly think it’s doing so at a sufficient rate for Parrys to "take over the world", as a group on Facebook jokes.

Mind you, if they did, they could at least make it a legal requirement to record their own genealogy!