Friday, 11 June 2010

Follow Friday: GenUKI and the Online Parish Clerk (OPC) Scheme

This site is of massive interest to anybody with UK family history.  It describes itself as a "virtual reference library...In the main, the information that is provided in GENUKI relates to primary historical material, rather than material resulting from genealogists' ongoing research, such as GEDCOM files."

It is very different from surname lists etc, where people connect to discover mutual ancestors.  If you ever wanted to know all about a particular parish that your ancestors came from, this is the place for you!  It also contains links to sites that hold information on maps, gazetteers, court records, folklore, almanacs and more.  You will be surprised at the HUGE amount of information (or links to information) that this site contains.

But possibly the most important page of all is the Online Parish Clerks page for your chosen county.  Several counties are participating, and various parishes within them have Online Parish Clerks: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Kent, Somerset, Sussex, Warwickshire and Wiltshire.  (An Online Parish Clerk is not to be confused with the official Parish Council-appointed clerks).  An Online Parish Clerk is a volunteer who gathers all the genealogical data they can about their chosen parish, such as Church register transcripts, land tax assessments, census information and more.  So, if you are looking for an ancestor who (you think) was baptised in 1703 in a certain parish but you can't afford to go there, look at GenUKI to see if there is an Online Parish Clerk for that particular parish, and if they have the transcripts!  Write to them and ask nicely (and always remember to say thank you!) and you might have the information you require.  I have had a LOT of success with requests to OPCs; once, the OPC I contacted did not have the information I was seeking, so she nudged the OPC of the parish next to hers - and lo and behold, there was the information!

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