John Watkins Holden – conjuror of the 19th and 20th centuries
On the day of the world premiere of the last instalment of the Harry Potter film series, leading family history websitewww.findmypast.co.uk has discovered that wizardry may not just be the stuff of fiction after discovering a 'real-life' wizard in the 1911 census of England and Wales.
John Watkins Holden had been born in Worcester but was lodging at a house in Bournemouth at the time of the 1911 census. Holden, aged 68, recorded his occupation as ‘Wizard of Ye Wicked World’, stating that he was working in the magic industry and that at this point in 1911, he was ‘on tour’. Amusingly, Holden also revealed that he was ‘very much married’ when asked about his marital status.
Wizard Holden has also been found in a number of earlier censuses, showing that he had at least 40 years’ experience in the world of sorcery. He appears in the 1901 census as a ‘Society Entertainer’, but in the 1891 census he was recorded as a ‘Conjuror’. Going back another decade to 1881, John was recorded in the census as ‘The Queen’s Magician & Wizard of the Wicked World’.
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 1200. 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.
In 2010 in association with The National Archives findmypast.co.uk launched the British Army Service Records 1760 - 1913.