FAMILY HISTORY AND
. . . where we list useful links for
those wishing to research family trees in the UK and Ireland.
HELPFUL LINKS PAGE . . . .
There's a lot of military links to all the armed forces,
past and present, about halfway down this page.
We have here an extra page of links. We do hope you find
this page helpful, in your research
Our own family history research is on-going and we are always pleased
to receive any help or further information from fellow researchers.
Some of our family names appear at the bottom of this page.
National Archives - for the United Kingdom
This is the foremost source of genealogical information in the UK. They
can't trace your family tree for you but they do list the many
documents you need to see for your particular search, which town or
parish records, etc.
General Register Office
See also this site where you can order certificates online.
BBC History Unit . . .
This site has a fantastic number of leads and cross-references for
budding genealogists and an enormous amount of help and advice, tips on
pitfalls, etc. Well worth a visit, and useful for whatever stage you
are in your quest.
War Graves Commission.
A truly wonderful link to an incredible database of all the names of
all the servicemen and women who lost their lives in two World Wars -
whether they have a known grave or not, or lost at sea while serving in
the Royal and Merchant Navies or of RAF aircrew. All service personnel
from the Empire and Commonwealth are also listed here.
MORE MILITARY RECORDS LINKS below - scroll well down
. . .
This is a very useful site with pages organised by counties.
International Genealogy Index
the Mormon Church has one of the most extensive archives of births,
marriages and deaths anywhere in the world, however, a word of warning:
double-check any information you glean from here. Member-submitted
information can be suspect!
Hugh Wallis site
For batch numbers to check out the information gleaned from the IGI
above. Using the two sites together will help you to weed out other
people's errors and save you an enormous amount of time.
Another very useful site with hundreds of further useful links.
Another huge resource, particularly for those who had distant forebears
that emigrated to various new worlds. Massive lists of ships, not just
from the UK, but other European countries. They also have a link to a
site with some Adoption Records.
A site with a few records but more are becoming available all the time.
This is the official Scottish genealogy resource, one of the largest
online sources of original genealogical information, but it is a
Lots of genealogical forums here where you can search for everything
from surnames to coats of arms.
This is a boon to genealogists! It is an all-encompassing site with
many links to records in other countries. Subscribe to one of their
mailing lists for free – the choice is endless from all the counties
and countries in the UK - and the world!
A picture and brief history of
St Andrew's Parish Church, where we were married.
We hope the above has been helpful - please tell us via e-mail
should any of the above links fail to work.
Now a little information about our own families. There is a short
family tree on the Home Page, but here are a few more details. If you
think you are connected in any way, please feel free to get in touch.
Our short family tree is on the
'OUR FAMILY button in the menu
My wife, Valerie's maiden name was STEVENS, originally from Aylestone, but whose
father was from Hinckley in Leicestershire. Other earlier STEVENS came
from Enderby, Croft and a few from Oxfordshire.
Valerie's mother was a SWANWICK, from
Blaby, south of Leicester. We have got as far back as 1797, but we're
fairly sure now that they weren't from Blaby. The name alone possibly
suggests a much more ancient medieval link to Nottinghamshire.
Valerie's mother's mother was a FRETTER
from Aylestone near Leicester, but originally the family came from
Spratton and Welford in Northamptonshire. We now have lots of info on
Both Valerie and I grew up in Leicester. Val attended Sir Jonathon
North School on Knighton Lane East until 1967, and I was at Crown Hills
Secondary School at the top of Gwendolen Road up to 1965. I had a brief
period at Ashby Ivanhoe in the summer of 1965 after my parents
separated. We met in 1968 whilst both were working at Simpkins &
James in Horsefair Street. If anyone can email some fair pictures of
that esteemed shop for our own archives, they will be truly blessed.
The best we ever seem to find are distant ones of the back door, right
across the Market Place
My HAYWOOD family are all originally from
the Griffydam, Pegs Green and Coleorton areas of NW Leicestershire,
roughly in the Coalville-Ashby-Whitwick triangle. Any more information
prior to 1852 would be very helpful.
My mother was a HOLT of Coalville and her
father, Harry, was born in nearby Donington-le-Heath. His father was
from Thurlaston, born about 1867.
My mother's mother was a MANDERFIELD from
the Shepshed area and this name links back into the CORBETT family
history. Any further help there too would be much appreciated.
My father's mother was a SMITH of
Aylestone, and because some of Val's FRETTER family are also of the
Aylestone and Blaby areas, we wouldn't be surprised if we are also
distantly related down our parent's mother's lines.
My great grandfather, James HAYWOOD, was
born in Griffydam, and he married Edith ISON
of Leicester. She was descended from a branch of the HASTINGS family who were of Humberstone and
thence Lutterworth, Welford and then Newark. Their line is well-known
and we can trace back to the Middle Ages and Lord William Hastings of
Towton Moor fame; there are also links in several places into the line
of medieval kings, the Plantagenets.
I reckon that if you are English, on both sides, and can trace that
back to the 1800s, then something like a quarter of England's native
population also have links somewhere to one or more of the landed
gentry families, so giving them also links back to the Plantagenet
kings. The proportion is even more likely for those from the south of
England and into the midlands, but less likely from Yorkshire,
Lancashire, Cumbria and Northumbria - but not impossible. There will be
a few folks from County Durham who also have Plantagenet ancestry, but
not many. Likewise, not every English family from Sussex will be
certain to have it, but it is more common there, and all around the
Home Counties. When you get back to the 1400s and realise that at that
level, we all have several million great grandparents each, it stands
to reason that in a country that then only had a population of four or
five million people at best, many were related to each other.
Genetic links back to Plantagenets, and so by default, to the Normans,
is far more common than most folks think. Just start digging and you'll
Any help on any of the above lines would be very much appreciated, and
perhaps we could perform a likewise service for someone else - isn't
that what the Internet was made for, after all?
MORE MILITARY LINKS
All open in a new browser window leaving this page still
open behind. Use ALT + Tab to alternate between them if you wish.
This was formed with the aim of furthering interest in the
period 1914-1918, to perpetuate the memory, courage and comradeship of
all those who served their countries in France and Flanders and their
own countries during The Great War. It does not seek to justify or
glorify war. It is not a re-enactment society, nor is it commercially
motivated. It is entirely non-political. The object of The Association
is to educate the public in the history of The Great War with
particular reference to the Western Front. Applications for membership
are welcomed from anyone with a like mind.
World War I . . Trenches on the Web
Well worth a look for a complete directory of maps of the main areas of
operation in Europe, 1914-1918.
Army Roll of Honour at The National Archives
This site can be used to find a war grave or burial site. Use in
conjunction with the Commonwealth War Graves site below.
The first place to look if you have name, service, which war, and
knowing a rank will help enormously with the most common names.
Includes the Merchant Navy.
Royal British Legion
The quintessential ex-serviceman's organisation, famous for organising
the annual Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall, and the
annual Poppy Day collections nationwide.
MOD Records and Contacts
A useful site for all service records, with site linking to records
offices for all three armed services, and also information on how to
apply for copies of medals and decorations awarded.
World War I Medal Rolls
This site is actually a page on the National Archives site, which shows
army records for men who served in WW1. Over half of these
records were destroyed by enemy action when bombs fell on Whitehall in
WW2. Years later, someone cleverly realised that if a man or woman
served abroad in the First World War, then they were almost certainly
awarded a campaign medal. And those records survived the bombing. This
is a database of those Medal Rolls, including those who died. To send
for an image of one particular record, the cost is £3.50, payable by
credit card online.
A site with formation on service medals and how to find service
records, and lots more information besides.
The National Army Museum is in Royal Hospital Road, London, and has
free admission. They host an ongoing programme of exhibitions,
talks and events throughout the year.
RAF Museum, HENDON The most famous aircraft museum in Britain, and
the only national museum dedicated wholly to aviation. The
website has many more links to archives and RAF history.
RAF Records Office A direct link to a page for access to RAF
service records of all personnel. Part of the Veteran's Agency
WAAFS The Home Page of the Women's Auxilliary Air Force Association
and a host of information about how they provide members with practical
and other assistance, and arrange meetings, outings and other
Information on the Women's Royal Army Corps Association, including the
ATS, or Auxilliary Transport Services, who were the women pilots that
delivered warplanes direct from the factories to the squadrons.
This site in Greenwich holds records for casualty lists of merchant
shipping losses; See the Collections Page. Also pages on The
Queen's House, and the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
is the the Women's Royal Naval Service Benevolent Trust, the women's
section of the Royal Navy. The trust was founded in 1941 to help
the women who served in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Every woman
who served between 1939 and 1993 is automatically a member of the
Trust. They still help and currently assist over 400 former Wrens
NAVAL HISTORY NET
This is a truly incredible and valuable resource, and it is growing
every day. Devised and provided by Gordon Smith as a tribute to his
father, killed at sea in WWII, and also his grandfather, who served in
both world wars. It lists EVERY naval casualty of the RN and Dominion
Navies, including Royal Marines, who were killed or died, by enemy
action or by accident, whilst in service at sea, or on a shore station,
including between the wars. For instance, it is
incredible how many men, and women, we lost just to road accidents in
foreign ports. Also lists all our warships, where they served, what
happened to them, in fact, just about all you want to know about our
Royal Navy history. It is sobering to see lists of dead, day by day as
we go through the months of war, and see a whole ship's company of
sometimes hundreds of men, often designated as MPK - missing presumed
killed, but the exact fate of that ship is still unknown. Just
that she was sunk or bombed and was lost without trace with all hands -
very, very moving.
is located within Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and this site has all
the information you need for a visit. It includes links to
history and records for Royal Marines.
Royal Marines Museum
is at the old RM HQ and officers mess at Eastney Barracks, Southsea.
Includes links to the Band Service, and RM Commandos, and advice for
young people on how to prepare in advance for training to be a Royal
Royal Naval Patrol Service Association
is a very useful link we show here because so many men from Hull and
the Humber ports volunteered, often as whole crews together in much the
same fashion as the Pals Battalions of the Great War, that I thought it
proper to have a direct link. There's a picture of the RNPS Memorial at
Lowestoft, as well as their museum and HQ in what was HMS Europa in
Sparrow's Nest Gardens in Lowestoft. The memorial overlooks both the
gardens and the sea. This is for all those who served in "Harry Tate's
Navy" - brave men, and their contribution, no less vital than say the
pilots of the Battle of Britain, has so often been unrecognised.
Minesweeping, anti-submarine patrols, air-sea rescue, and a lot of
'dangerous and dirty' jobs no one else would willingly undertake, all
fell to the men of this unique if unglamorous outfit. Taking on a
submarine in only a fishing trawler armed with a 12-pdr gun, doing both
Atlantic and Arctic Convoy escort duty, landing Special Forces and
reconnaisance units on enemy shores, were all no mean feats. And for
those that survived, when the war was over, it was simply back to the
fishing and earning a living in one of the most dangerous occupations
on this earth - or sea. This site honours them all.
This site, at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, will change your perception of
aircraft museums. The museum has the largest collection of Naval
aircraft anywhere in Europe together with the first British built
Concorde, on which you can go aboard and visit the cockpit. Find out
more by exploring this website and then see for yourself.
Finally, if you didn't live through these wars, but want to know much
more about them, the privations and hardships your family had to bear,
experience a little of the atmosphere of the times, then you should
visit this excellent museum. I use the word "experience" advisedly. You
will not feel the real fear and cold and pain, but you may come to
understand a little, just a little.
Remember this if you go - as you pay your money to go in, you know you
will be coming out. Also, you have the benefit of 70 years of
history that tells us that, not only did Britain and the free world
win, but that we were right do do what we did. Your forebears neither
knew for certain we were going to win, until roughly 1943-44, and for
much of the war, most didn't really know what was going on elsewhere.
To put it simply, folks in Coventry and London, suffering as they did,
had no idea that Hull was having it just as bad, because no-one told
them, except by heresay, and that was just rumour when all said and
done. Men falling on the field of battle at El Alamein were not to know
that this was to be a turning point. Few held the full story. We
know all this now. And when the full story came to be told, few
realised how much of a close call we'd all had - we very nearly didn't
For those of you that did experience all this, and served, and though
frightened to death, still went back off leave for another dose of what
you knew was coming, still went out at night firewatching, still went
to work daily not knowing if your work was still there, still ushered
your family and children down the shelters almost nightly, I salute
you! And so should everyone else. Most of us will never know, let
alone repay, the debt that we owe you.
HOW TO FIND MANY MORE MILITARY LINKS FOR YOURSELF
All these above sites will contain many, many links to lead you further
on into your research. Also remember that there are hundreds if not
thousands of websites posted by indiviudals, service veterans, their
families, that document particular regiments, squadrons, or ships. Use Google and enter
basic details: for instance, enter SQUADRON 160 RAF CEYLON - and see
what pops up. You'll find some instances of where ex-aircrew have
posted up actual reports of Air Accident Investigations for losses of
individual aircraft. There's information now on the web for all to see
that was not given or available to the relatives of lost servicemen at
the time of their deaths.
More Searching Tips:
Similarly, search for ships by name, especially the more famous ones -
type "HMS HOOD" and use the inverted commas to force a search for the
whole name. Many names are thoroughly ambigouos, such as the county
class cruisers like the SUFFOLK and DORSETSHIRE - you need to box a bit
clever with these, and add the name of the theatre of war, or action,
or enemy ship they were engaged with. Type SUFFOLK BISMARCK and see
what pops up. There are 57,000 references, the vast majority pointing
to the ships themselves, though some will coincidentally be referring
to the county of Suffolk and also some gentry that were related to
Count von Bismarck himself. Also with ships, after loading the links,
another worthwhile search is for an IMAGE SEARCH. I did it and the
first four pictures are of the Royal Navy cruiser SUFFOLK herself, and
the fifth was a pic of her Swordfish aircraft taken from the film, SINK
THE BISMARCK, starring Kenneth More. The ways of searching are endless.
Type 4TH BTN NORTHANTS - and 42 links pop up that contain references to
that particular unit in that county regiment, some of which will link
to the regimental museum itself. If you have the name of a particular
action or battle, type it in, eg; SOMME NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, and also use
NORTHANTS, as when a battalion is referred to, the colloquial
terminology is often used, the shortened county name. For instance, a
man would have said he was in "the 4th Northants, the 1st Leicesters,
or the 8th Warwicks."
The amount of information already out there is nothing short of
incredible, and this is early days in the history of the web. It's only
really been growing apace for this past 10 years. Don't be put off by
quantity, you'll soon learn to fly through the flotsam and jetsam of
the internet and spot the information you're looking for.
Ever heard of Jan Baalsrud ? Those few of you who have read the
1955 book "We Die Alone" will know who I mean. He was a
Norwegian resistance fighter during WW II. He had one of the most
amazing experiences and escapes ever told, and his sheer strength and
endurance is an epic tale in itself, let alone naked courage. What
would you make of a man who amputated his own toes? Well, 9 in fact -
all bar one of them.
If you want to know more, go to Google.com search engine, and type in "Jan
Baalsrud", just like that, in inverted commas. Up will pop plenty of
links. What a story! The book was re-published in the early
1990s. I spent several years not quite believing it, and only found it
was true on the Internet, when I saw a photo of Jan with King Haakon.
There's more to this story than I'm telling - I'm not giving the end
away- see for yourself. The best read you'll ever have. A real hero, in
anyone's book! Young ladies should note that REAL men used to be built
like this years ago!