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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Come to a talk about John Hamilton Hall (1799-1865) at Kelso on 29 March

Looking through the roll of the Berwick-upon-Tweed Guild of Freemen admitted in the 19th century, one occupation stood out. John Hamilton Hall's occupation was stated as Captain, Honourable East India Company; he lived in Ravensdowne.

This was part of the research I did for Berwick 900 last year and this led me to research him further.

He was born in Coldstream in 1799, but his father was a general physician in Berwick and a Freeman. Seeing his name and occupation in the Guild records led me on an interesting but puzzling hunt for information about his family, his career as an officer in the East India Company’s Bombay Infantry.

This Sunday, 29th March, at the Abbey Row Community Centre, The Knowes, Kelso, TD5 7BJ, I’ll be talking about John Hamilton Hall's life and career. Map.
Doors open at 2pm; the talk begins at 2.30pm. 

However, just as importantly, I’ll be discussing how I researched him, some of the problems I found and the difficulties in reading and understanding the records. I'll also be discussing some of the online resources I used, so at the very least you should leave with a better understanding of researching your ancestors in British India.

The talk has been widely advertised so come early to get a good seat. I warmly invite you to attend the talk whether you are a member or not.

We'll have a range of family history publications available to buy, and there’ll be light refreshments (donation expected) available after the talk.

If you have a problem with your family history, please discuss it with one of our volunteers

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Free Access to Swedish Records on 21 and 22 March

Considering that Berwick was a major port for hundreds of years, it's fairly likely that some of the sailors would have been Swedish, whether on Swedish ships or on ships from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia participating in the Baltic Trade.

Perhaps some of those sailors decided to drop anchor and stay in Berwick, Tweedmouth or Spittal or were stranded when their ship sailed off without them.

Perhaps one of them was your ancestor.

Also, many Scots (including one of my ancestors) went to fight as mercenaries for the King of Sweden, so perhaps they married and had a family there.

To celebrate Genealogy Day in Sweden, which is on 21 March, ArkivDigital is offering free access to Swedish records in their collection at the weekend.
Sweden is one hour ahead of us so the free period is from 11pm on 20 March to 11pm on 22 March.

You'll need to register and download the ArkivDigital program.

There's also a useful guide to Swedish Genealogical records.
If this helps you to widen your family history, please let us know.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Get Your Name Up in Lights

Well, not really. Not up in lights, but on websites and in the newspaper, if that appeals to you.
From April to October 2015, Berwick-upon-Tweed is celebrating 900 years of its history - a long festival of exciting events in Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal - more information on the Berwick 900 website.

The Berwick 900 Our Families Project is looking for volunteers (both experienced and beginners) to help them unearth and research the stories of people who have shaped the history of Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal and to present them in interesting ways.

You'll get training in family history research skills, working with Berwick Record Office and using local resources, the internet and social media to look at families and people who have not only helped shape the communities of Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal but had an impact in the wider world.

Some of the research you do will be presented as exhibition displays, others as plays scripted and performed by the Maltings Youth Theatre, or as articles in local newspapers and on our blog.

If that sounds interesting, please come along to our Open Day at Berwick Town Hall on Saturday 14th March between 10.30am and 1.30 pm or alternatively contact Linda Bankier by email at

If you prefer not to have your name published, that's fine with us, too.
If you have a friend or a family member who would be prepared to volunteer to do research or help steward an event, please bring them along.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

FindMyPast is Free, this Weekend

I hope you're making good use of FindMyPast's free weekend.

Find My Past is offering you the opportunity of almost all its records until midday on Monday, March 9th (GMT).

It does include parish records, censuses, military records, newspapers.

You'll need to register and sign in.

Records not included are the UK Electoral Registers (2002-2014) and the UK Companies House Directors (2002-2014), however that's no drawback for most of us.

Search on the free weekend offer.