Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Blog Returns

My apologies to anyone who looked for the blog recently and found that it had been removed. Somehow I fell foul of the Google robots which look out for "spam blogs". Thanks to Jay for pointing it out to me, and to the Google reviewer who restored it over the weekend.

Clearly, I need to improve the quality of my writing!

I’ve been working on a couple of pedigrees over the last few weeks, in response to emails from other researchers. One had sent me the details of several certificates – since it’s a Monmouthshire/Breconshire family, I already have them in some of my files, so I have been adding the information from the certificates and checking where there are still gaps to be researched. I’ve also identified a possible earlier generation – but since it’s in that period just before the censuses, it’s going to be difficult to confirm the link.

The other pedigree relates to the family of a James Patrick Parry – the researcher had sent me an article he’d written about James. Unfortunately it is mainly in german, but there was sufficient information for me to recognise the family as being that of Gilbert Sidney Parry (author of the probate abstracts book), and of the Sidney Parry who drowned in the Serpentine. One of the references from the article relates to the "Topographical and Historical Account of the Parish of St Mary-le-Bone", which I then found on Google Books. This shows a burial of a William Parry in 1826, who is described as "of Montagu Square, and of Walton Hall, in the County of Suffolk". I knew about the Montagu Square address from his probate entry, but it’s the first time I have come across the Walton Hall reference. I am hoping that, that might help in researching the earlier generations – since there’s reputed to be a link to the family of Sir William Edward Parry, the arctic explorer, as well, and that’s another family whose pedigree becomes unclear in the 1700s.

Ancestry have now fully transcribed the civil registration marriage index for England and Wales from 1916 to 1983, so that will help me to meet the Guild’s requirements for collecting the BMDs. It will still be a long process to gather the full details though, and to match up the full names of spouses properly, especially given the number of marriages between Parrys and either other Parrys or other frequently occurring Welsh names.

I took a trip to North Wales last week and spent a couple of days walking around graveyards, so I now have a collection of Parry memorials to transcribe. It was a good learning experience – I must remember next time to take a tape recorder, just in case the inscriptions on the images are not sufficiently readable. It takes too long to transcribe them by hand whilst there, when time is limited to day trips.

Finally, having travelled all that way in search of memorials, today I discovered one closer to home, when we noticed that one of the plaques in the local park is for a Parry. An effective end to the weekend!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

1911 census completed (sort of!)

The final areas of the England and Wales 1911 census were released earlier this month and there is now a total of 28,375 Parrys on the site. I have been collecting the entries for each area as they have become available but my file only has 28,055 in it, since the areas released earlier have now been amended. This is an issue with all of the census sites – initial transcriptions are rarely perfect so there is an ongoing process of error correction, making it difficult to keep an extracted file up to date. Some of the totals for the Welsh counties in 1911 have changed by hundreds so it will probably be quicker to re-extract them this time, rather than trying to identify the changes. I am hoping that such a large number of changes is due to errors with the uploading process, perhaps some areas missed out etc, and that future amendments will relate to fewer entries. Re-extracting the data will become increasingly difficult once I start adding further information to individuals or match up entries across years. Transcription corrections also have a knock-on effect for any derived information, such as statistical analysis or distribution mapping. Fortunately, given the number of Parrys there are, gaining or losing just a few of them should not make too much difference to the conclusions drawn from any analysis, so it may not need redoing. But it will be frustrating to know that is isn’t totally accurate.

If keeping extracted files up to date is one of the challenges of carrying out an ONS, then identifying the surname when it is mispelt is certainly another, especially with early records, when spelling wasn’t standardised. I have sometimes wondered whether I should be looking at spellings such as "Paris", for very early appearances of the Parrys in London, bearing in mind how the place would be pronounced in french. So I was amused to see the following, in the recent release of the Cecil papers on British History Online:
[1611–12, January 5]."A bill of charges from Brussells to London."
For rydyng from Brussell to Parys by coache eyght dayes and a halfe.25s
For dyet eyght dayes and a halfe.22s
For my Lord Imbassettors gardner to goe withe me two and from in Parrys to by my things—given him in Crowns.6s
From Parrys to Roane, coache hire.7s6d
For expences in Parrys for dyet and loging.li80
For porters hire in Parrys to carye trees abord the boat.30
For portters hyre in Roane and carrag by watter.43
Given to the boye in the house to laye my trees in the grond.10
Spent in Roan for aleven dayes and a halfe for dyetli86
For horse hire from Roan to Deepe46
Also given in earnest to the boatemaster from Parrys to Roane.30

I guess anyone looking for the city of Paris should be considering spelling variations as well!

There’s been some useful information sent to me by other researchers over the past few months, such as extractions from a number of Breconshire parish registers, and details of individual 1911 census entries. One of these was for a man known to be a performing pianist, yet he appeared in the census as the manager of a shoe shop in an area of what is now Birmingham. In the course of identifying where the parish was, I came across the Historical Streets Project, which could be useful for finding particular addresses in the early censuses.

There’s also been some links to follow up. One was a news report about the excavation of a WW1 mass grave at Fromelles, France, and the CWGC’s attempts to identify the bodies. The casualty lists of possible soldiers includes one Parry, from the Australian forces:
320 Private Parry Frederick 29th Battalion

Frederick is mentioned on the main CWGC site.
Initials: F
Nationality: Australian
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Australian Infantry, A.I.F.
Unit Text: 29th Bn.
Date of Death: 19/07/1916
Service No: 320
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 1.

Any relatives are being encouraged to come forward to assist with the task of identification.

Other sites include one for Australian Honours, which has 80 Parrys, and the UK Surnames Genealogy Contact site which has 29 entries for people researching Parrys. A few of them I recognise but the others I should probably contact at some stage. There’s always a trade-off with doing that – time spent (which could be considerable, if I happen to have information on their family) against the information to be gained from the contact. That’s something I have been considering with regard to another method some Guild members use for contacting people – the social networking sites, such as Facebook. Facebook recently allowed the registration of usernames, which prompted discussion on the Forum. "Parry" as a username had already been taken but I decided to register ParryONS - the only benefit seems to be that it makes it easier for people to find me by using that in the URL, rather than a string of numbers, but I thought it was worth doing something. I don’t currently have a One-Name Study group on the site, since there is already a Parry Family Group and a couple of "fun" groups for the surname, but I sometimes wonder if it would be worth creating a closed group for the study, as a possible way of contacting some of the "younger generation" that frequent Facebook. But it’s that trade-off issue again.

I was surprised recently to realise that it was 2007 when I last worked on a particular census page for the internet. Everything takes a long time with a study of a high frequency surname. I did let my Ancestry sub lapse some months ago, in order to spend more time working systematically on the vital records, but the lack of complete census transcriptions elsewhere (and a half price sale) tempted me back. I have been concentrating on collecting some BMDs from FindMyPast’s parish records but, now that Ancestry’s records are accessible again, I shall also return to comparing their parish records to the BVRI2. I had always thought that Ancestry’s "England and Wales Christening records" (and the similar database of marriages) was the same as the BVRI2 but closer inspection earlier in the year indicated that there were differences between them. I therefore started to extract the BVRI2 entries as well, for comparison. There is the option to save files from the BVRI2 cdroms as either rtf or gedcom so, not being sure which would be best, I extracted a small number of entries using both. On conversion of the two files into spreadsheets using LDS Companion, I was surprised to find that, not only did I occasionally get differences in the results (eg the rtf method didn’t cope with accented words, so Thoós and Joós became Tho and Jo), but also some strange errors crept in on the gedcom version (loss of a couple of ages, a couple of grooms names appearing as if they were the bride’s father’s name). Also, neither of the converted files included comments such as "Husband previously married".

So it now appears that I may need to extract all entries using both methods and compare the results of that process first, as well as add back in any "previously married" comments, in order to make sure I have an accurate BVRI2 extraction, before I can then do a comparison of the BVRI2 to the information on Ancestry. It will probably still be quicker to do it that way, rather than checking all entries individually, since there are 3749 entries, but it shows how a "simple" task can end up being much more complicated than originally expected.

Fortunately the correspondence level has dropped recently (although I still have some long outstanding items for which I need to either put together, or check through, information). But there have only been four new contacts since the end of April, three via email and one by post. The postal one did involve putting together information on a couple of people, but it turned out to be a useful exercise. One of them was Roger Parry, a member of the Golden valley family from Herefordshire, but who was rector of Hinton Ampner, in Wiltshire. Searching for more information online, I was able to find a reference to his burial at Winchester Cathedral 18 May 1634, ae. 88. (on Another site indicates there is a note in the Hinton Ampner registers which states that, in 1576, "Roger Parry Parson of Hinton took Possession of his Parsonage the sixth Day of May, and did reade his Articles in the presence of Mr. Richard Beckensall, Robert Streeter & others." The site also mentions a note from the 1634 register of Hinton-Ampner. The original is in Latin, but the site author has translated it as "Roger Parry the Rector of this church who resided here 58 years died at Winchester where he was buried; he lies in the Temple of the Holy Trinity in the Bordal [?] Chapel, May 24th, in the eighty-eighth year of his life."

Obviously the original parish records need checking to confirm the entries but, when I eventually get around to writing some web pages about Parry occupations, it will be quite interesting to produce one about those in the ministry, considering the number of cathedrals with a Parry connection.

Continuing on the subject of occupations, a message on the Forum yesterday led to a site with details of EU farm subsidies – so I now have a list of around 400 payments made to Parry farmers. Comparing that to directory information will go on the "to do" list.

I also noticed yesterday that what is described on the BMD pages of Ancestry as "Marriages 1984 - 2005 (transcribed)" actually goes to a page entitled "England & Wales, Marriage Index: 1916-2005" – so they must be about to release the fullly transcribed records, as they did with the births. That will be a help (although I imagine I will still need to work through each quarter to add the spouses surnames, as I am doing with the mothers maiden names for the births).

And finally, I should have guessed I might be tempting fate to say how little correspondence there had been recently, since I promptly received an email relating to a new contact and also a second email from a new contact I’d answered two weeks ago.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quarterly Newsletter!

A Guild member mentioned earlier this year that he had changed from producing a quarterly newsletter to writing a blog – given the length of time since my last post, perhaps I should be doing the opposite!

There has been activity on the study throughout the year so far. January saw the official release of the 1911 census. I’d already had a preview of this with a beta trial just before Christmas (not the most convenient of times, but it was an opportunity for a few surprise presents.) During the trial, I had collected all of the Parrys in the available counties. However, some of these needed re-doing after the official release, since the totals had changed. This will continue to happen, as corrections are made to the transcriptions – already some of the counties released in January are showing differences to the previous numbers of Parrys, so those need investigating. The census is also being released in stages – with all of England now completed but with Wales, the Channel Islands, and the overseas military, still to come. The current total for Parrys is 13,772 but I expect that will double by the time the whole census is released.

Another database released earlier this year was Ancestry’s transcription of the GRO Birth Indexes from 1915-1983, something previously available from them only as images. This makes it easier to collect the information and helps me move closer to the recommended ONS goal of collecting all BMD details. I am now systematically working through the images to check the transcriptions and add the mothers’ maiden names. One benefit of the searchable database is that it is now possible to easily identify other surnamed entries where the mother’s maiden name was Parry, although following such lines is certainly not a priority for me.

There have been several marriage challenges during the year, one of which unfortunately I was too busy to submit anything for, since there were about 80 entries to be checked. I am now involved in helping with the Birmingham challenge and it is interesting to see how the challenge principle is changing, as some people "adopt a church" rather than searching across a whole registration district, and others choose to either limit submissions or not carry out certain look-ups. As usual though, the results received have set me searching the censuses for more information, which has resulted in some interesting trails. Even with a common surname like Parry, some people stand out as individuals and "Pluvius Cambria Parry" is certainly one of them. With a father from Flintshire and a mother from Hertfordshire, I wonder whose idea it was to name him "Rainy Wales Parry."

Sometimes Guild members offer other look-ups and a recent "newspaper challenge" by Richard Heaton produced several references to a Mr Parry’s vocal performances, as well as a report of the theft of a cash box from a Thomas Parry in Ross. The box contained gold and silver worth £6, but also "a beer-house Licence, and two Receipts for insurance", so I hope there were no accidents in the pub while he got that sorted out. The relevant entry can be found on Richard’s web page.

On other occasions, information arrives unexpectedly, as a photograph of a Parry war grave recently did, thanks to Anni. Although only the initial is shown on the stone, his number allowed me to identify him as a Thomas Parry, who was born in Anglesea, the son of a Henry and Jane Parry. I was also able to find the family in the 1891 and 1901 censuses.

Correspondence so far this year has included 17 new Parry contacts, as well as ongoing discussions with several others. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit both the National Library of Wales and the National Archives for the first time (not that I actually found what I was looking for in either place, but I still collected a few Parrys.)

But there is one thing that has dominated my thinking since the 1911 census came out – the reason why my great grandfather should have found himself in Hereford County Prison. I’ve often wondered whether I have any "black sheep" in the family – but I hadn’t expected to find one quite so close to home.

Hopefully, it should make an interesting story - when I finally track down all the paperwork!