Wednesday, May 12, 2010

570,000 new shareholder records go online at

The following is from

·         Over half a million GWR records available to search
·         Full colour scanned images of the original pages from the ledgers
·         Shareholders include Charles Dickens, William Ewart Gladstone and Lewis Carroll

Today, a leading UK family history website, has made available for the first time online the full Great Western Railway Shareholder Index (GWR) along with colour images of the original records. The index includes over 570,464 records covering the period from 1835 to 1932 recording 440,000 shareholders and related parties, such as executors and spouses. The records indicate when the original shares went through a change of ownership.

The availability of the index on has been achieved in partnership with the Society of Genealogists, who previously held the original paper index at their London headquarters. The index dates from when the GWR was created in 1835 and continues through to 1932. The records contain some famous names such as Charles Dickens, William Ewart Gladstone and Lewis Carroll, under his real name, Charles Ludwidge Dodgson.

The Society of Genealogists originally produced its GWR Shareholder Index from ledgers created by the Great Western Railway. The original ledgers were compiled by the company for transactions relating to all shareholdings which changed hands other than by simple sale. In the records the name of the shareholder is given together with an address, the names of the other parties (executors or legatees for death; husbands for marriages), dates of death, probate, marriage or another event. The purpose of these records was to record change of ownership of the shares, the death of the original shareholder being the most likely cause of an event.

The infamous Great Western Railway was built along a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts linking London to the West Country and Wales. Bristol merchants were desperate for effective transport links to London, to prevent the emergence of Liverpool as the country's second port. In 1833, the famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was appointed chief engineer. He also became a shareholder, appearing in the index following his death from a stroke in 1859.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at, said: “By working with the Society of Genealogists, we have been able to make these extraordinary and unique records available to all for the first time through the website, giving people the opportunity to explore another area of their family history.”

Else Churchill, Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists adds: “The Society of Genealogists is delighted to make these fascinating and unusual records available to the public through Projects such as this will allow us to continue to preserve these and other rare records for future generations.”

The majority of events within the index are deaths in England and Wales. However, other events also caused shares to go through a change of ownership. They are as follows:
  • Death 94%
  • Marriage 1.4%
  • Power of Attorney 0.8%
  • Change of Name 0.8%
  • Lunatics 0.1%
  • Bankrupts 0.07%
  • Others 2.83%

Most events relate to individuals in England and Wales, but there are also a significant number of Scottish, Irish and overseas records:
  • England & Wales 93.6%
  • Scotland 4%
  • Ireland 1.4%
  • Overseas 1%

For more information log on to 

Leading UK family history website (formerly 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. 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 launched the microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

As well as providing access to historical records, is also developing a range of online tools to help people discover and share their family history more easily, beginning with the launch of Family Tree Explorer in July 2007.

In April 2007,’s then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement. 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 The Society of Genealogists

The Society of Genealogists (SoG)

The Society of Genealogists is an educational charity the purpose of which is to “promote, encourage and foster the study, science and knowledge of genealogy". The Society’s premises in Central London house the largest family history research library in the UK. The Society of Genealogists’ Library is open to members and paying non-members.

Holdings include:

  • Unique research collections
  • Document Collection of manuscript family history research notes
  • Thousands of compiled family histories and biographies
  • Thousands of parish records
  • Boyd's Marriage Index covering some 2,600 parish registers with nearly seven million names
  • Nonconformist registers
  • Memorial inscriptions
  • Local histories, poll books and directories
  • Sources for apprenticeships, trades, professions and occupations
  • Published emigration records for the British overseas

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