Es­sen­tial tools Google Maps and the Phillimore At­las

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - MAPPING YOUR FAMILY -

Th­ese are the two sorts of map I use on an hourly ba­sis. The first is the sim­plest,

googlemaps.co.uk – you just type in the place name and the map en­larges it­self over the place you want. By zoom­ing in fur­ther, you can see road names and of­ten lo­cate the ex­act ad­dress given on birth cer­tifi­cates. By zoom­ing out, you can see the wider area. A click of a but­ton trans­fers you from a sim­ple map to a satel­lite view of the land­scape, so some­times you can hone in on an an­ces­tral home and see the field and woods on one side, and the high street and har­bour on the other, and un­der­stand ex­actly why your an­ces­tor was de­scribed as a fish­er­man in one doc­u­ment and a wood­cut­ter in an­other. By typing in an­other place name – per­haps the parish where a pos­si­ble bap­tism for your an­ces­tor was found in an in­dex – you’ll be sped away to that place, and see how far the two places were apart. You can see at once if they were plau­si­bly close, or im­plau­si­bly dis­tant.

The other maps that I use all the time are those in the Phillimore At­las and In­dex of Parish Reg­is­ters, pro­duced by The In­sti­tute of Heraldic and Ge­nealog­i­cal Stud­ies in Can­ter­bury. For each county there is a map re­pro­duced from 1834 as well as a map show­ing parish bound­aries. Es­pe­cially when work­ing back be­fore 1837, know­ing the name of the ham­let or city street where your an­ces­tors lived is only truly use­ful if you know un­der which parish th­ese places fell, as it is in the reg­is­ter of the rel­e­vant parish that their bap­tisms, mar­riages and burial will be found – or, if not there, in the records of the neigh­bour­ing ones. The Phillimore maps also show the bound­aries of the broader ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal ju­ris­dic­tions, the re­gions con­trolled by archdea­cons and bish­ops, which you need to know in or­der to look for the many records those of­fices gen­er­ated, par­tic­u­larly mar­riage li­censes, wills and bishop’s tran­scripts ( BTs). The more re­cent edi­tions in­clude Scot­land, too.

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