Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Findmypast publishes Devon parish records online

The following is from FindMyPast.

Devon parish records go online

.       857, 603 Devon parish records are available online, making it easier to find Devon ancestors
.       The famous dog breeder John Russell, the Jack Russell's namesake, can be found in the records

Today leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk launches the Devon parish records in association with Devon Family History Society.  Significantly, these new online records pre-date civil birth, marriage and death records and census records, enabling family history enthusiasts to delve even further back into their Devonian ancestors' pasts from the convenience of their own home.

The Devon parish records include 363,015 baptism records for 1813-1839; 271,193 marriage records for 1754-1837 and 223,395 burial records for 1813-1837.  The transcripts of these records are available to search atfindmypast.co.uk from today as part of what is already one of the largest online parish record collections for England & Wales, currently comprising over 26 million baptism, marriage and burial records dating as far back as the reign of Henry VIII.

The search facility at findmypast.co.uk makes it possible to look up ancestors across all the parish records on the site just by entering a surname.  Previously, to search the offline records it was necessary to know where in the country your ancestors came from and then contact the relevant record office or family history society for that area, so this development will make it far easier for people to research their family history.

The decline of agriculture at the end of the nineteenth century caused many people to migrate to cities as well as overseas in search of work. Therefore many people now living across the UK or in other corners of the globe may find ancestors listed within the newly available Devon Parish Records that they never knew they had.

The county of Devon has produced many famous faces over the years that can be found in the Devon Parish records. These include Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first ever computer, Charles Kingsley the author of 'The Water Babies' and John 'Jack' Russell, who owned the foundation bitch of a line of fox hunting terriers that would eventually come to be known as the Jack Russell.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, says: "As a descendant of generations of Devonshire blacksmiths, I am particularly excited that the Devon Family History Society is working with findmypast.co.uk to put Devon parish records on our website and make them available to all. Like me, many people who have never lived in Devon themselves may discover that they have ancestors who were baptised, married and/or buried in Devon, and this is a great way to find out about them."

Maureen Selley, Chairman of Devon Family History Society commented: "This is a unique and very special resource that has been created over many years by members of Devon Family History Society.  By working withfindmypast.co.uk to put these records online, we are enabling a wider international audience to become aware of these terrific records, allowing millions more people worldwide to discover their Devon ancestors."

Findmypast's Parish Record Collection brings together in one place the disparate records from local parishes, which have been collated by local family history societies since 1911, coordinated by the Federation of Family History Societies*. Since 2007 findmypast.co.uk has been working exclusively with the Federation to publish these records online, with many more records due to be added to the website over the coming months.

Findmypast.co.uk will also be working with FamilySearch to digitise the record collection of Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, with a view to matching their images of the parish records to the transcripts from Devon Family History Society that are now live on the site.

About findmypast.co.uk
Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk (formerly 1837online.com) was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.

Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today.

Findmypast.co.uk has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 1538. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.

In November 2006 findmypast.co.uk launched the ancestorsonboard.com microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

In April 2007, findmypast.co.uk's then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement.

Findmypast.co.uk was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company who were awarded The National Archives' contract to publish online the 1911 census, which it launched in January 2009.

About Devon Family History Society

The Devon Family History Society has its AGM and conference on Saturday the 2nd of October, taking place at Belmont Chapel, Western Way, Exeter, EX1 2DB.

The Devon Family History Society, formed in 1976, now has a membership of approximately 5,000, making it one of the largest family history societies in the UK. The society is a registered charity (charity number 282490), a member of the Federation of Family History Societies and of SWAG, the South West Area Group of FHSs, which is a regional group of 12 societies. Contact with other societies encourages mutual interests and reciprocal research.

A quarterly journal The Devon Family Historian is published with articles full of background information about the lives and times of Devon families and other information helping members to keep themselves well informed about developments in family history. Each edition includes a booklet of names being researched by new members. Extracts from editions 1-100 are available online to members.

The society operates Tree House Research Centre located at 7-9 King Street, Exeter. Open Tues, Wed and Thurs 10.30am - 4.00pm. Entrance is free to members, visitors pay a small fee. Search holdings and resources via the Tree House webpage. A research service is also available.

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