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The Tynedale branch received a talk by Diana Whaley who led a project which ran from 2016 to 2020 and which had transcribed and analysed the contents of the 103 surviving Ordnance Survey Name Books compiled between 1857 and 1864.

Each book relates to a place (usually a parish) and contains detailed information about the names of streets, antiquities, geographical features or other points of interest which the Ordnance Survey were surveying and mapping for the 1861 series of Six Inch scale maps of the United Kingdom.

For each feature identified on the map, there is an entry in the Name Book which corresponds to the name as shown on the map. Other information recorded in the Name Book about each feature gives alternative spellings or other variations on the name, the “authority” for each of the alternatives, the situation (describing the physical location in relation to other nearby features) and general observations.

The “Authorities” were local people – generally local worthies, tradesmen or landowners – who were interviewed by the survey teams to establish what each street, stream or prominent building was known as, and how the name was spelled. The general observations – also known as “descriptive remarks” – provide an often subjective additional layer of information about the feature being mapped.

The Ordnance Survey of Northumberland was carried out by a group of nearly 50 people, with just over half being members of the Royal Engineers and the rest civilians. The recent Name Book Project involved more than 40 volunteers.

The website is well worth a visit at

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Contribution received from Colin Ashworth (

During the period of over 200 years from the middle of the sixteenth century until the late eighteenth century, when the practice of the Roman Catholic faith was illegal in what is now the United Kingdom, Catholics had no churches and no official burial grounds. Even well into the nineteenth century this was the case. Many Catholics were buried in the local Anglican churchyard as there was frequently nowhere else. This can make finding burials difficult for family historians looking for the graves of Catholics or even just a record of their deaths. It was quite common for parish incumbents who were thorough in their work to indicate the religious affiliation of the deceased in their burial registers. The Catholic Family History Society ( has now launched a database of such burials. This can be accessed from the website It uses Google Sheets and so the data can be manipulated and searched or downloaded for that purpose. The society hopes that family historians who notice Catholic, Papist or Recusant burials in the course of their research will be able to submit their findings in one of the several ways explained on the ‘Contribute’ tab on the website.

Web site address is:

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The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Library and Archive is delighted to announce the launch of its new website, a catalogue of information that will enable visitors to view unique manuscripts and photographic collections of the College’s history.

The website will feature a new Surgeons Database, allowing users to trace ancestors who qualified from the College from the earliest days of the barber-surgeons through to 1918.

Existing collections still available on the website include images taken by military surgeon and former Surgeons’ Hall Museums conservator, Henry Wade. Wade carried a small camera to all locations he visited during his time with the Scottish Horse Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance Service. There are photographic collections from the Scottish Women’s Hospitals set up by Elsie Inglis and of an Edinburgh surgeons’ tour of European hospitals featuring some of the most prolific scientists and surgeons of the time. Alongside the photographic collections are digitised 16th-18th century records that demonstrate fractured relationships between the surgeons, barbers, apothecaries, physicians and Edinburgh Town Council.

Web site address (for the College) is:

Web site address (for the Archive) is:

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On 20th September 2018 The Hexham Courant published that:

The Manorial Documents Register for Northumberland is an up to date record of all the county’s former manors that has been compiled over the last four years. The register contains a wealth of historical information and written records that is said to have enormous academic potential.

The paper version refers to the ‘Memorial Documents Register’, but the on-line version has the correct ‘Manorial Documents Register’.

The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is an index of English and Welsh manorial records, providing brief descriptions of documents and details of their locations in public and private hands. Manorial records include court rolls, surveys, maps, terriers and all other documents relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, customs or courts of a manor.

The National Archives website still describes the Register (for Northumberland) as work in progress.

The Northumberland Archives website does not list the Register.

Hexham Courant Web site address is:

National Archives Web site address is:

Northumberland Archives Web site address is:

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TheGenealogist announced the following on 25th December 2015:

TheGenealogist has now completed the launch of searchable Tithe Maps and Schedules for England and Wales with the release of more maps covering 40 new counties. These maps link to the searchable schedules which contain over 14 million records. The schedules contain detailed information on land use with linked maps that jump to the plot for an individual from the records. The maps can contain hundreds of individual plots with varying levels of detail. They can reveal buildings, fields, houses, rivers, lakes, woods and cities.

They have just announced (2017) that they have digitised the maps for Northumberland (and many other counties).

Web site address is:

The society has a subscription and the records can be examined on the public computers at our Research Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne.

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[Thanks to Pat Storey on Northumbria list for this].

One of the improvements to the revised Scotland’s People website is that you can now search the indexes, including the Old Parochial Registers indexes, for free. It only costs you credits if you want to look at the actual records. You need to register to use the site but you can then look at the OPR, statutory registers, and will indexes etc.

If you are using the OPR indexes particularly, set the surname search option to phonetic and the forename to “names that begin with” (and depending on the name, don’t necessarily spell all of it, e.g. use “Is” for all the Isobel/Isabella variants or “Marg” for Margaret).

Web site address is:

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The General Register Office (GRO) has extended their search form for births so that you can now include the mother’s maiden name. Applies to records pre-1915.

You need to register with them in order to use the search facility. It is a cumbersome registration process; and the search process is equally cumbersome. You can only search in five-year blocks AND you have to give the gender of the child.

Web site address is:


From 2020 the mother’s maiden name is also available at FindMyPast, and is shown in the transcript option.

Their Web site address is: