findmypast.co.uk Publishes Over Half A Million British Militia Records
Released on: July 15, 2011, 9:25 am
Industry: Consumer Services
Findmypast.co.uk, the leading family history website, has
published the records of over half a million men who served in the
British militia, the precursor to the UK's Territorial Army. The
Militia Attestation Papers, covering 1806 to 1915, were made available
online for the first time to coincide with British Armed Forces Day on
25 June 2011.
The records colourfully portray what the British militia looked like, detailing the
height, weight, chest size, complexion, eye colour, hair colour and distinctive
marks of each recruit. Arthur Wilson's distinguishing marks included an acrobat and
dots tattooed on his left forearm. Similarly, Albert Smith, born in India, was
recorded as having teeth that were 'defective but enough for mastication'.
Debra Chatfield, marketing manager at findmypast.co.uk, commented: "These records
provide rich insight into our past and show how the everyday man, such as your local
shopkeeper, found himself fighting for his country. In the absence of photographs,
these records can help you imagine what your ancestors looked like, containing
details which are largely unavailable elsewhere. Our easy to use website means you
can unearth even more fascinating and detailed information about your ancestors at
the click of a mouse."
Like today's Territorial Army, the militia was made up of men who held everyday
jobs, but took part in military exercises and on occasions fought for their country.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, these typically included shoemakers,
woodchoppers, butchers, bakers, coal miners and millers.
The Militia Attestation Papers are the only set of their kind available online and
have been published in association with The National Archives and in partnership
with FamilySearch. The records show that the soldiers who made up the militia during
that period hailed not only from the UK itself, but also from around the world. Some
recruits had been born in Italy, Ceylon, South Africa and even as far away as
Australia and New Zealand.
David Rencher, chief genealogy officer at FamilySearch added: "The publication of
the Militia Attestation Papers fills another critical gap in the family historian's
toolkit. The digitisation and indexing of this rich collection will make it easy to
find the regiment an ancestor served with and also when and where he was born.
Family historians will quickly realise the value of this information, particularly
when the record of an ancestor's birth has been elusive or impossible to find
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, which can help them build
an accurate family tree.
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