Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Bishops’ Transcripts

Since 1598, parishes were required to send copies of their parish registers to the bishop once a year. Not all parish clerks complied, but those who did gave us another source of BMD data. After the beginning of civil registration in 1837, the practice was phased out and was completely gone by mid-century.

I was saved at the Norfolk Records Office a number of years ago, when I couldn’t read the last name of my GGGG grandmother on her parish marriage record from the mid-1700s in Necton, Norfolk. A worker at the office looked at my microfilm reader’s screen and said it looked like “Beetle.” Since I had thought “Castle,” she suggested we see if it was clearer in the Bishops’ Transcripts (BTs). Yes, it was clearly “Beetle.”
(Note: Here is an attempt to tie this post with last about clergy in the COE (Church of England). England and Wales have two provinces within the church overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York. Under them are bishops who have religious jurisdiction over a diocese or group of archdeaconries, rural deaneries and parishes. Archdeacons sometimes in some places received annual copies of BMD records from parishes which were conveniently called Archdeacon’s Transcripts or ATs.)

Besides clearing up hard to read microfilm, BTs or ATs may cover periods when the original registers were lost or destroyed. It is hard to say which source is better. The BTs are transcriptions and have all the associated problems – entries skipped, numbers transposed. Generally, the parish registers are in better condition today.  On the other hand, making the copy for the bishop gave a parish clerk the chance to correct mistakes so they may be the most accurate. It would pay to check both, if possible or if there is a question. 
Most bishop’s transcripts are in the county records office. If the bishop’s seat is in a different county than the parish, you will need to find out which county office to approach. A simple email should do the trick. As familysearch.org puts evermore data online, look there as well.

Source:  Herber, Mark. Ancestral Trails. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company 2006.

 ©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Vicars and Rectors

In the United States, protestant clergy are referred to as ministers, Roman Catholic clergy are called priests and Jewish leaders are known as rabbis. From looking at the parish records of the Church of England, it is easy to see a greater variety of titles, for example, vicar and rector.  

Vicars and rectors have the same spiritual authority, but were paid slightly differently from the historic tithe system which is now defunct.  In the Bible, the patriarchs were instructed to give ten percent of all that their land produced to God’s work. England had an ancient and later quite controversial system of tithing. “The great tithes of corn and hay, and the small tithes of livestock, wool, and non-cereal crops, went to the support of the rector of the parish, who in return maintained the chancel of the church and saw to the provision of church worship.” (Hey, p. 440)
In the past, rectors received both the greater and lesser tithes. A vicar received just the smaller tithes because it was possible for a monastery or college to be responsible for a parish and be eligible to collect all the tithes.  These institutions would appoint a vicar to manage the parish in its place and give him the small tithes.

At some point, the tithes were converted to money and now have been done away with completely.  However today, each parish in England and Wales gives its clergy the title rector or vicar depending on the historical situation with tithes, but, as all clergy in the parishes are paid from central funds, the distinction is unnecessary. According to one source, any COE clergy have been referred to as parson, since the 1600s, so you probably can’t go wrong with that term if you are traveling in the UK.
Another term seen often is incumbent who is either a rector or vicar who is employed in a parish.

Colin Hinson has posted a nice chart on the GENUKI website. It shows all the clergy of the COE from the Archbishops to bishops to deans and deacons.


Friar, Stephen. The Companion to the English Parish Church. London: Chancellor Press 2000.
Hey, David. The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996.

2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NGS Summary

I am back home and trying to put my NGS experience in perspective. Overall it was a great experience. I learned a lot and got to hear some of the big names in our field.

There was an infinite variety of topics but very little variety of format. With about two hundred sessions, there was plenty from which to choose, but they were all one hour lectures with powerpoint. Some were longer and called workshops, but I believe they had registration fees beyond the one for the conference itself.

I have gone to conferences with 'poster' sessions - shorter presentations on a large topic. One session I did not attend was called 'How Grandma met Grandpa.' I can see several people doing short presentations in a one hour slot. There was only one general session. From the way rooms were crowded for some of the popular topics and/or speakers, considering a fewer large sessions is in order.

My experience as an official blogger was not good. Except for the recognition on the NGS website which I appreciate, there was no way to find me at the conference - no ribbon on my name badge, no coffee and doughnut with the other bloggers. I'm not sure what my purpose was meant to be so it's sort of unsatisfying not to know whether I met it or not. Thus you see there were no posts on day 3 or 4.

I'm sure one of the reasons to have official bloggers is to have everyone feel good about the organization, which I do - and I hope you do. I just wanted to wrap things up by saying a few things that need improvement.

Friday, May 11, 2012

NGS Conference - Day 2

I did not step foot in the Exhibit Hall at all yesterday. Day 2 was jammed full of education. I began the morning at the Board of Certification session, only to find that it may not be for me at this stage of life. One submits a potfolio of work to the Board. One portion is document work. Suddenly the Day 1 lecture about transcription and abstraction had a purpose. I got it...

I mentioned earlier that I would go off topic for some German workshops so the next three were on that topic. Teresa McMillin, John Humphrey and Warren Bittner are well known in this field, and the room was packed. Some were turned away from the first two. Then we were treated to genealogists acting badly...perhaps one genealogist acting badly. My Advice: Get organized. Get where you are supposed to be on time or read it in the syllabus material.

The last workshop was very good, even better if you live or research in Virginia. It was about genealogists and the law. I have all sorts of new resources to use. This material was excellent for intermediate and seasoned researchers.

Off to Day 3 now. Read Dick Eastman's blog if you want a list of some of the frustrations. At least he is staying in the suburbs and has traffic problems. I had hoped that a small city like this would have solved some of the big convention hotels' issues. No. He mentions expensive food which is an issue, but being on my perpetual diet, I just order less or use an appetizer for dinner.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NGS Conference - Wednesday, Day 1

I have nothing but good things to say about the conference so far. The center is easy to negotiate. No speaker had any technical problems. A good day.

I began with the opening session at 8:00 am followed by time in the exhibit hall. I have nominees for nicest booth personnel. So far they are the woman at the British Archives, the women at the Oklahoma Historical Society and the young man at Jewishgen.

At 11:00 am, I attended, Begin with the Power Tools: Transcriptions, Abstracts and Analysis with David McDonald. I got several pointers I had missed before and found him to be organized and an excellent speaker. Of course, in real life, he is a minister so the latter may come with the territory.

At 2:30 pm, I heard Elizabeth Shown Mills talk about plagiarism. She lived up to her reputation, but as cute as her slides were, I was winding down and admit to nodding off once or twice toward the end. Shame on me.
Last, I attended a talk about Military Bounty Lands by Rick Sayre. Given the usual topics of this blog, you can look forward to hearing more about his talk later. He defined terms like warrant, patent and  scrip and described the process a veteran would go through to obtain land under the everchanging program perameters.

Was way too tired to write last night.

Today's schedule is the most grueling - 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. I may wait to write tomorrow until morning again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

NGS Conference - Arriving in Cincinnati

I have arrived and registered for the confernce. NGS is to be credited for a great registration system, very fast and easy...bring picture ID. My sister and I found a place to have a quick dinner at Fountain Square. Now I need to really decide what to do tomorrow. No more maybe this session, maybe that. It's time to be definate.

I flew with a connection in Detroit, a new airport for me. It was a pleasant experience, partly because I got off the plane and found that I was at the right gate. Yes, they were just cleaning the plane and an hour later I reboarded it, took a different, better seat and continued on the last leg of the trip.

I'm doing this travel log because of the cab ride from the airport to the Hyatt - Too expensive, but we rounded a curve and the whole skyline of Cincinnati appeared before me - absolutely breathtaking. The city seems a good size for walking. Let the work and fun begin!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NGS Conference - Getting Ready

I was just notified yesterday morning that I will be an official blogger for the National Genealogical Society meeting next Wednesday through Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am thrilled and pleased to have my blog on the same list as 'Dear Myrtle' and the others. My thanks to NGS for this opportunity.

So now I have much to do. I had just begun thinking about which shoes would be most comfortable and how small my suitcase could be, if I really tried hard to organize. Now that a bit more responsibility has been given me, I need to think more about workshop and lecture choices. I have to find the email with the confirmation of the selections I made when I registered in December or January. Luckily, I made a folder for those emails so I should find it there.

Obviously, I think I picked some lectures in my specialty areas, UK and land research, but I also thought it would be great to hit a few of the German sessions. Half of my family is German and the many offerings in the catalog made me think I could make up for some lost time quickly here.

I decided to go to lunch on Thursday with the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. I am not ashamed to admit that I want to win a door prize. In October of 2010, I shared a van from the Salt Lake City Airport to the Chrystal Inn with a woman who won free tuition to the group's annual educational week in Salt Lake at a NGS or FGS conference. Besides being in a room with a hundred other English researchers for an hour or so, a week in Salt Lake would be great.

In Salt Lake in 2010, my sister, also an avid genealogist, came and shared my room as she will next week. We were quite an 'item' because so many genealogists don't have family members interested in what is a passion for us. I am very lucky in that way.