Saturday, 1 November 2014

Benchmarks Update for October

  Major gainers in Alexa rank in October were both DNA sites,, has added or updated record collections for a total of 1,841 (1,837). Census & lists account for 166 (164); birth, marriage, & death 1,075 (1,073); probate & court 191 (191); military 124 (124); migration & naturalization 124 (124); and with a change in categories, other 142 (142); miscellaneous 19 (10). slid back in Alexa rank to 4,025 (4,373).

While slipped 647 (634); the site 5,169 (5,755) and the .ca 17,578 (18,451) continued strong advances. The number of datasets in the collection grew to 32, 467 (32,405); but with fewer 1,935 (1,984) for Canada, and increases 1,828 (1,818) for the UK, 143 (141) for Australia and, 25,701 (25,692) for the USA.'s gained  rank to 7,536 (7,768). gained back some of the previous month losses in Alexa rank to 19,540 (20,373) while .com tumbled to 78,892 (70,980). gave up all the previous month gains, and more, to rank 406,563 (317,792).

Family Tree DNA continued to advance in rank to 27,707 (30,833) while claiming a total of 702,473 (699,630) records. 23andMe had a strong advance in rank 13,828 (15,800) slipped again to rank 31,808 (28,817) ; also slipped 27.139 (27,599) and, tumbled 41,597 (34,243). bucked the losing trend to advance in Alexa rank 194,918 (214,004). moved past the 9 million mark to contain 9,048,506 (8,748,345) digitized pages, an average addition of 9,683 (5,877) pages per day. Alexa rank leapt 81,341 (101,320). contains 3,386 (3,328) newspapers including 670,134 (669,698) pages for England and 1,813,676 (1,727,976) pages for Canada. The Alexa rank continued advancing to 15,347 (16,442). claims 333,040 (332,773) total links in 205 (204) categories, with 978 (979) uncategorized; Alexa rank continued to advance to 24,945 (27,190). now has 242,129,588 (241,001,812) distinct records. Alexa rank 47,238 (48,360). passed the one million milestone and now has 1,004,000 (976,000) gravestone photo records from across Canada. Alexa rank continued to advance to 353,161 (355,498). also advanced in rank to 440,044 (474,578). Coverage of the Canadian Gravemarker Gallery as it's unranked by Alexa for the second successive month.

Among Canadian family history societies ranked 1,651,650 (1,605,692), 2,138,615 (2,728,294), and 360,776 (344,999).

All US society sites advanced, ranked 406,792 (420,275), ranked 65,407 (69,126), ranked 1,043,462 1,228,249 (877,999).
In the UK, ranked 478,615 (459,515).

And in case you're curious, Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections has 6,035 (5,957) posts; on Alexa the .ca site ranked 185,163 (190,360).

Did I miss something significant? If so please post a comment with statistics if applicable.

Friday, 31 October 2014

More English Wills Online

The focus of this week's update to the Findmypast portfolio is more than 430,000 British wills and probate records from the collection acquired from

The Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York Probate Index 1688-1858 contains over 263,000 wills that were proved in the ecclesiastical courts of York. The province of York had jurisdiction in the counties of Cheshire, Cumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Westmorland and Yorkshire. Although over 80% of the records relate to Yorkshire, people from all over the British Isles and overseas had property in the province and had their wills proved in the Prerogative or Exchequer Court of York.

Kent Wills & Probate Indexes, 1328-1890 consists of over 63,000 transcript records from seven different ecclesiastical Church of England courts compiled from the West Kent Probate index 1750-1890, West Kent Probate Index 1440-1857, Kent Inventories 1571-1842 and Kent Will Abstracts 1328-1691.

Lichfield Consistory Court Wills, 1650-1700 contains over 28,000 records and consists of administration applications, inventories of the testators’ property, and wills covering the entire counties of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, north Shropshire and north Warwickshire.

York Medieval Probate Index, 1267-1500 is an index to over 28,000 records with 10,000 wills and related documents proved in the province of York prior to the 16th century. Compiled from original documents held by the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the York Medieval Probate Index is available online exclusively at Findmypast.

Surrey & South London Will Abstracts, 1470-1856 has 26,000 wills containing over 29,000 names taken from the will registers held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

Sussex, Chichester Consistory Court Wills Index, 1482-1800 has indexes to over 22,000 wills covering the four archdeaconries of the diocese; Horsham, Hastings, Brighton & Lewes and Chichester itself. Each record includes a transcript of the original index that can include the testator’s name, occupation/status, residence, the date the will was proved, the court it was proved in, the document type and reference.

York Medieval Probate Index, 1267-1500 is an index to over 28,000 records with 10,000 wills and related documents proved in the province of York prior to the 16th century. Compiled from original documents held by the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the York Medieval Probate Index is available online exclusively at Findmypast.

Gloucestershire Wills & Administrations, 1801-1858 is an index of 14,000 original wills for the Consistory Court of Gloucester.  The court held jurisdiction for 307 parishes and virtually covered the whole of the ancient county and some smaller Peculiar Courts with the exception of Bristol.

Over 570 pages of Cheltenham Probate Abstracts, 1660-1740, have also been added.

Findmypast isn't the only source of wills newly online this week. The Essex Record Office which has about 70,000 wills dating from the 1400s to 1858, have had digital images of about 20,000 of these wills available online through their subscription service Essex Ancestors have now uploaded a further 22,500. See information at

FreeBMD end of October Update

The FreeBMD database was updated on Thursday 30 October 2014 and to contain 242,129,588 distinct records.
Major updates of more than 5,000 records are: for births 1940, 1943, 1958, 1962, 1964-66, 1970-74; for marriages 1952, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970-74; for deaths 1971, 1973.

Reports on Genetic Genealogy Ireland and Back to Our Past 2014

Want to find out what happened at the Genetic Genealogy Ireland Event, but don't have time to watch the videos? There's a report by Debbie Kennett here.
There's also an early report on the Back to Our Past event, of which the genetic genealogy event was part, by Claire Santry. Claire came back at the end of the event with a stop press item on a price cut for the Irish Newspaper Archive.
Both reports have genealogy news of interest even if you don't have Irish ancestry.

Kirsty Gray in Ottawa

A reminder of a "you wouldn't want to miss" event this Sunday, 2 November, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm UK Rockstar Genealogist Kirsty Gray will deliver two lectures at Woodroffe United Church, Banquet Hall, 207 Woodroffe Ave. They are:

Searching for Names: Challenges, Pitfalls and the Downright Ridiculous
Solving Problems Through Family Reconstruction.

This event is sponsored by OGS Ottawa Branch and BIFHSGO. Admission is $10 per person at the door. A break with light refreshments will be served between the two lectures.

Kirsty is flying in from Toronto that morning after participating in the OGS Toronto Branch full day workshop Industrial England. Fortunately the flying weather looks fine.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Book Review: The Lost Empress

If you like murder mystery mixed with genealogy try The Lost Empress by Steve Robinson. It's a page turner.
This fourth in a series of Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries is timely. It's a fictional present day genealogical investigation of the period at the start of the First World War and the sinking of the Empress of Ireland.
To enjoy it you'll need to be prepared to accept a series of murders and turn on willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to coincidences.
Suppress your skeptical genealogist genes or you may be thrown off track, abruptly interrupting page turning.
In chapter 18 there's mention of a daughter no longer alive in the English 1911 census, the only source cited. But that census does not give gender of deceased children.
In chapter 33 finding information in the 1890 US census is mentioned, but less than 1% of that census escaped destruction.
While these aren't central to the story the existence of an article in The Quebec Mercury for June 1914 online is. In fact that paper published its last issue in October 1903, see (in French). The confusion may be due to an error propagated in a Wikipedia article that the newspaper survived until the 1950s. The French wikipedia article has the correct information.

The Lost Empress is $5.44 Cdn for the Kindle edition. The others in the series I haven't yet read are even less expensive.

Aside from enjoying the story it's almost worth it just to see if you can spot other genealogical issues.

Several other reviews are at

Women's WW1 UK Military Records Index on Ancestry

Ancestry has added indexes to two data-sets from The (UK) National Archives

Web: UK, Women's Royal Naval Service Index, 1917-1919 with 7,444 records
Web: UK, Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Index, 1917-1920 with 7,010 records

The naval index search provides name, enrollment date, service number and rank/rating (occupation).
The army index gives name, birth date and birth place.

Both provide a link to the complete record, with images, at TNA's Discovery website at a cost of £3.30.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Historical Society of Ottawa October Meeting

On Friday, 31 October, Peter Ryan, a member of the Bytown Fire Brigade and retired Ottawa fireman, will talk about the history of the Brigade and show a short video of its museum in the east end of the city.
He will also display various artifacts in the Brigade’s collection and discuss major fires of the past in the Ottawa area, and how they were battled.
As well, he’ll talk about visiting the museum and touring its displays.
The meeting starts at 1:00 pm  in the lounge of the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues Street at Cumberland.

Putting a DNA Test Specter to Rest

"Even in an underserved population at high risk for adverse psychological reactions, subjects responded positively to personalized genetic results."

That's the conclusion for a study published in Genetics in Medicine which refutes one of the objections often raised to DNA testing.  A study of 82 participants, 64% African-American, from a vulnerable population with higher-than-normal risk for depression, about half unemployed with no health insurance, found 95% appreciated genetic results, and receiving these results was not associated with changes in symptoms of depression or anxiety. Furthermore, after return of genetic results, smoking cessation attempts increased.

Could it be the risk from surprises about ancestry results could be worse than those from health?

An abstract of the study is at and there's a popular summary at

Ancestry adds London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1738-1930 may have new information for you if you had a person of interest in the workhouse in one of the following London boroughs (Poor Law Unions or Parishes): Camden (St Giles in the Fields, St Pancras), City of London, Hammersmith and Fulham (Fulhan, Hammersmith), Hillingdon (Uxbridge), Holborn (Holborn, St Giles in the Fields and St George Bloomsbury), Kensington and Chelsea (Chelsea, Kensington, St Mary Abbots), Westminster (Paddington, St Marylebone, Westminster).
There are 3,264,526 records which contain name, dates of admission and/or discharge, age (or year of birth) and other details.
The other details can be telling. I found a Richard Ordish, age 42, admitted in Westminster on 30 March 1839 as a destitute, occupation paper hanger. That's the name of my 3rd great grandfather The clincher in identifying him as my ancestor is the parish to which he belonged listed as Cambridge which is where he died the following year and where his widow and children are found in the 1841 census.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

For every silver lining ... a cloud

John Grenham's most recent Irish Roots column What do we lose when records are digitised? reminds us that, despite the benefits, when it comes to digitization  "Every human intervention adds another layer of error, with incremental losses to accuracy and completeness."

Evaluating the reliability of the sources you use is fundamental. It's not unique to genealogical research.

An Exhibition at LAC!

It's an ill wind ... The temporary closure of the Canada Science and Technology Museum has provided an opportunity for Library and Archives Canada to host a timely exhibit Echoes in the Ice: Finding Franklin's Ship.
LAC stopped mounting exhibitions, seemingly almost closing the facility at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Now under the leadership of Guy Berthiaume that trend is reversed, at least for this occasion.
There a press release here.
Will the trend continue? Perhaps LAC will mount a permanent display of significant items from Canada's documentary heritage from the organization collection giving tourists a reason to visit the building.