Wednesday, 29 October 2014

FindMyPast fraud - update

As an update to the fraudulent charges from, after first trying to blame me for cancelling my free trial too late (I foolishly thought that if you cancelled before the free trial expired (which I did) AND that if you receive an email stating "you will not be charged", that I would not be charged - how foolish of me!) they "graciously" offered to reverse the charges. It is a relief that I won't have to go through my bank's fraud process, but I am seriously considering lodging a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission because a 14-day free trial should a) last 14 days; b) be free; and c) when you are told you will not be charged for a service you have cancelled, then you shouldn't be bloody well charged.

My advice to anyone considering checking out any of the commercial genealogy sites is to avoid FindMyPast like the plague - stick with reputable sites like Ancestry, Genes ReunitedThe Genealogist or even the completely free Family Search. FindMypast claim to offer unique record sets, but most of what they have can be found elsewhere. And don't be sucked in by their newspaper archives - you can access the same newspapers directly on the British Newspaper Archive for about the same as a FMP monthly subscription (even cheaper if you use a coupon code, which are regularly available) but with a much better user interface and infinitely better search capabilities.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Wow! I can't believe this just happened!

I had signed up for a "free" 14 day trial on and while the site has some interesting data sets, I decided that it wasn't right for me. So I cancelled my trial and received an email that started:

Your free trial has been cancelled...
Dear Amos,
We're sorry that you have decided not to continue with your subscription on findmypast. As requested we have cancelled your free trial and you will not be charged.

"That was easy," I thought, but how wrong was I? Nit 10 minutes later I received another email from them:

Payment confirmation
Dear Amos,
Thank you for renewing your 1 Month World Subscription. Your payment has been processed.
Your payment details are as follows:

Payment summary
Package:1 Month World Subscription
Reference:<<a reference number>>
Amount:$19.95 AUD
So 10 minutes after you cancel a free trial, FindMyPast will charge you for a full month, despite confirming your cancellation and stating that will not be charged. There's a word for behaviour like this - FRAUD.

I now have no option but to discourage everyone I know from dealing with this site. This kind of behaviour is inexcusable. I guess a trip to the bank to dispute this fraudulent charge is in order. >_<

Sunday, 26 October 2014

File organisation - the folder structure

A key part of my file organisation scheme has to do with the folder hierarchy I use. With this folder hierarchy, I know where to place each file I download or generate. A place for every file and every file in its place. ;^)
The very top level of my Family History folder[1]
The very first level of my folder hierarchy is quite simply a single folder for my current project. At the moment that project is called simply Bannisters of Stretford. So in my Family History folder, I have created a folder called Bannisters of Stretford - nice and simple. 8^)
My family project folder
Drilling down into my Bannisters of Stretford folder reveals the real start of this structure. In this folder I have created folders for the People, Places and Sources in my family tree, along with some extra folders to store pictures and books that do not belong in the Sources folder.

Let's look at each of the folders in turn...
Books (Non source) folder
The Books (Non source) folder at this level is for "non source" books - i.e., books that are not used as sources for the family tree. This includes books that I create using the data in my tree and a scanned copy of the book that my cousin created for our family reunion several years ago.
People folder
The People folder is where I create folders for family groups. Within these folders I create a folder for each person and in the individual's folder I create aliases (or links) to source documents and pictures for that person - I will describe this process in detail in a future post. The folders at this level are for each surname in my family tree. (I have only recently started rebuilding my tree, so this is a bit sparse at the moment.) If I do not know the surname of a person they will be placed in the zz UNKNOWN[2] folder. I will go into much more detail about this folder's structure in a future post.
Pictures folder
The Pictures folder should need no real explanation - it is where I will store pictures of the people and places in my family tree. At the moment it is empty because I have not yet moved over my pictures.
Places folder
The Places folder contains sub-folders for each place in my family tree. I will go into more detail about the layout of this folder in a later post.
Sources folder
Finally we get to the last folder at this level - Sources. The Sources folder is where I store the original files for all my sources. As you can see the source documents are broken down by source type:

  • BMD - All sources related to births, marriages and deaths. These include parish registers, BMD registers and certificates, and other related documents such as baptism cards and funeral service and memorial documents.
  • Books - Contains all books that are used as sources. This mainly includes town histories and books written by local historical societies.
  • Censuses - All census related documents.
  • Education Documents - School reports, school registers, copies of any certificates earned.
  • Electoral Rolls - Copies of electoral rolls and poll books.
  • Legal Documents - Any legal documents and court cases that my ancestors might have been involved in. This includes wills and probate documents[3] and divorce proceedings[4].
  • Maps - Just what it says on the tin - maps.
  • Military Documents - Draft cards, service papers, medals and honors.
  • Newspapers - Any newspaper articles that have been used as sources.
  • Other Documents - anything else that doesn't easily fit into one of the other categories.
Many of these should be self explanatory, but the next post in this series will be exploring the Sources folder in more detail. Some of the sources sub-folders have further sub-folders which will need some explaining before I finally get to the actual files themselves.

[1] Note that I have a few other folders in my Family History folder. These are where I store the data files used by the genealogy app I use (MacFamilyTree), resources downloaded from various magazines I subscribe to and a couple of working folders where I store files waiting to be processed.
[2] I use the "zz" prefix to force the Unknown folder to sort at the bottom of the list.
[3] Probate proceedings may be initiated years (or even decades!) after the person's death, so I thought it made sense to store them here under Legal Documents rather than BMD.
[4] No real reason for divorces to be placed here - they could probably live under BMD, but I have a legal folder, why not use it?

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Will of Steven Raingill, Esquire

As mentioned in my last post, I suspected that the court case I had discovered might have been due to something in the will of Steven Raingill, who had died on 28th April, 1874. After some further research, I had determined that the people named as plaintiffs in the case were all of the descendants of Amos and Matilda BANNISTER, Steven RAINGILL's widow, Matilda, and Steven and Matilda's son, Parker RAINGILL. This seemed promising, so I went off to hunt for Steven's will in order to see if anything there might shed some light on the matter. I discovered a copy of the will on, downloaded it and set about transcribing it. (You can find a pdf of the will embedded at the end of this post...)

The transcription was certainly an interesting exercise. The will covered four and a half pages and the scanned images were not ideal - some of the text was hard to read due to the contrast of the image and tweaking it with some image tools helped slightly. The handwriting was reasonably easy to read, but some of the words and phrases did cause some consternation. I think I have managed to do a reasonable job of the transcription which I present below. Please note, I have tried to keep capitalisation as it was in the original, which is to say random at best. The language was quite flowery in parts and it appears our forebears were allergic to punctuation, so this will take some re-reading and deciphering in order for it to make sense...
This is the last Will and testament of me Steven Raingill of Penley House Penley in the County of Flint Esquire. I direct that all my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses be paid and discharged by my Executors as soon as conveniently may be after my decease. I give and bequeathe to my affectionate wife Matilda Raingill the legacy or sum of two hundred pounds which I direct shall be paid to her immediately after my decease I give and devise all my freehold estate chief rents heriditaments and premises which I shall die seized or possessed of unto my Nephews Herbert Bannister of Stretford in the County of Lancaster Timber Merchant and Henry Stephenson of the City of Manchester Solicitor and their heirs Upon the trusts herinafter mentioned and declared that is to say Upon trust that my said Wife shall receive thereout during her life an annuity or yearly rent charge of two hundred pounds to be paid to her by quarterly payments the first of such payments to be made at the expiration of three calendar months after my decease and the intent and purpose of this my Will is that if the said annuity or rent charge or any part thereof shall be in arrear or unpaid for the space of twenty one days next after any of the said days appointed for payment thereof then and in such case and so often as the same shall happen my said Wife shall have the same remedy by distress upon the hereditaments and premises hereby charged with the said annuity or rent charge or any of them for recovering the same and also all costs charges and expenses occasioned by reason of the nonpayment thereof as Lessors have by law for the recovery of rent in arrear And that in case the said annuity or rent charge or any part thereof shall be in arrear and unpaid for thirty days next after any of the said days appointed for payment thereof Then that my said Wife shall have power to enter into and upon the said hereditaments and permises hereby devised as aforesaid or upon any part thereof and receive and take the rents and profits thereof and the said chief rents or any part thereof until all arrears of the said annuity or said charge together with the payments to accrue during such possessions and all costs charges and expenses occasioned by the nonpayment thereof shall be fully paid and satisfied and subject to the said legacy and annuity or rent charge given to my said Wife and the powers and remedies for informing the payment of the said annuity or rent charge hereby given upon trust for the use and benefit of my Son Parker Raingill during his life but so and in such manner that he shall not have power to charge incumber or anticipate by debts mortgage or otherwise the said life interest hereby given to him or the income thereof And from and after the decease of my said Son Upon trust for and every the lawfully begotten children of my said Son who shall be living at his decease and the issue of such of them as shall be then dead such issue taking his or her personal or parents share only and their heirs and assigns as tenants in common and not as joint tenants in equal shares and if there shall be but one such child then for the use and benefit of such child his or her heirs or assigns and in case of my said Son departing this life without leaving any lawful children or child or issue of such children or child Then I give and devise all and every my said freehold estate chief rents heriditaments and premises unto and to the use of my said Nephew Herbert Bannister his heirs and assigns But subject and charged nevertheless with the payments of the several annuities and legacies next hereinafter given that is to say an annuity or yearly rent charge of fifty pounds yearly to be paid and payable out of the said estate chief rents hereditaments and premises to each of my nieces Alice Jones Widow Matilda Louisa Bannister Spinster Julia Bannister Spinster Eliza Ellen the Wife of James White Stenhouse Sarah Elizabeth the Wife of William Dorning and my Nephew George Amos Bannister such several and respective annuities to be payable to the several Annuitants quarterly and I direct that the said several annuitants shall respectively have the like powers and remedies for the recovery and payment of the said annuities is hereinbefore given to my said Wife And from and after the decease of each of the said Annuitants lastly hereinafter named I give and bequeath to the children of the said annuitant so defining as aforesaid the legacy or sum of one thousand pounds to be paid to and equally divided between and amongst such last named children equally share and share alike and if there shall be but one child of the said annuitant so defining as aforesaid then the said legacy of one thousand pounds shall go to and be paid to such one child I also give and bequeath to Laura Bannister Raingill Parker Bannister and Amos Stewart Bannister the children of my late Nephew Parker Bannister deceased the sum of one thousand pounds to be equally divided between them share and share alike as and when the shall respectively attain the age of twenty one years but nevertheless contingent upon my Son Parker dying without children And I hereby declare that in case my said Son Parker Raingill shall depart this life leaving children or child or issue of children or child who shall not have attained the age of twenty one years at the time of the death of my said Son my said trustees or the survivor of them or the executors or administrators of such survivor shall during the minority of the said children or child or their his or her issue manage the said estate hereditaments and premises or the share belonging to such minors or minor and receive the rents and profits thereof and out of the same pay in the first place the expenses attending the management thereof and all other outgoings and expenses affecting the same and shall in their or his discretion in the next place apply the said estate hereditaments and premises or the share or shares as aforesaid or such parts or part thereof as they or he may think fit for or towards the maintenance support and education or for the preferment or advancement or otherwise for the benefit of such minors or minor with liberty for the said trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will to pay the same to the guardian or any of the guardians of such minors or minor for the purposes aforesaid without being liable to see the application thereof And I declare that the said trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will shall have a power of sale or exchange exerciseable over the said estate chief rents hereditaments and premises or any part thereof during the minority of any persons or person for the time being entitled thereto or any share thereof provided that the consent in writing of any persons or person entitled thereto who shall be of age be first obtained to such sale or exchange I give and bequeath all my household furniture paintings plate linen china carriages horses cows farming stock and all monies and securities for money which I shall die possessed of and the rest residue and remainder of my personal estate unto my Son the said Parker Raingill absolutely I give and devise unto my said trustees or the survivor of them or the trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will all estates vested in me as trustee or mortgagee subject nevertheless to the trusts and equities affecting the same but the monies which may be secured by any mortgage shall form part of my personal estate And I do hereby declare that if the trustees hereby appointed or either of them or any future trustees or trustee of this my Will shall die or desire to retire therefrom or shall refuse or become incapable to act in the trusts of this my Will before the same shall be fully performed then and in every such case it shall be lawful for the continuing trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will or if there shall be no continuing trustee then for the retiring trustee or the executors or administrators of the last acting trustee to appoint any other person or persons to be a trustee or trustees in the place of the trustee or trustees so dying or desiurous to retire or refusing or becoming incapable to act as aforesaid And upon every such appointment the trust premises shall be so conveyed and transferred that the same may become vested in the new trustee or trustees jointly with the continuing trustee or trustees or solely as the case may require and every such new trustee or trustees (as well before as after the trust premises shall have become vested in him or them) shall have all the powers and authorities of the trustee or trustees in whose place he or they shall be substituted And I direct that the trustee or trustees for the time being of this my Will shall be at liberty to retain and pay to themselves or himself out of the said trust premises all costs charges and expenses which they or he shall pay expend or be put unto in or about the execution of the trusts of this my Will And that they or he shall be acocuntable only for such sums of money and premises as shall come into their of his hands And shall not be responsible for any Banker Broker or other person to whom any such trust moneys and premises shall be entrusted for safe custody I appoint the said Herbert Bannister and Henry Stephenson Executors of this my Will In witness whereof I have to this my last Will and testament set my hand the twenty third day of October one thousand eight hundred and seventy three __ Steven Raingill __ Signed by the said Steven Raingill as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us present at the same time who in the presence of the said testator at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses __ Thos Rymer Sol Wrexham __ Ro: Lloyd Sol Wrexham.
This is a Codicil to my last Will and Testament Whereas I have by my said Will given to my Wife Matilda Raingill an annuity or rent charge of two hundred pounds during her life and I am desirous of encreasing the same Now therefore I do hereby give and grant to my said Wife during her life an annuity or rent charge of two hundred and fifty pounds to be payable quarterly in lieu and [xxx] instead of the annuity of two hundred pounds given to her in my said Will And I direct that my said Wife shall have all the powers for receiving and recovering the annuity given to her by this Codicil as I have given to her in my said Will for [xxx] recovery of the annuity thereby given I bequeath to my Executors Herbert Bannister and Henry Stevenson (in my said Will spelled Stephenson) the sum of fifty pounds each as some remuneration for their trouble in carryin out the trusts of my Will And in all other respects I confirm my said Will As witness my hand the twenty fourth day of April one thousand eight hundred and seventy four __ Steven Raingill __ Signed by the said testator Steven Raingill as a Codicil to his last Will and Testament in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses __ Thos Rymer Sol Wrexham __ Ellen Griffiths Servant to Mr Raingill.
Proved at Chester with a Codicil the 4th day of June 1874 by the oath of Robert Bannister the Nephew one of the Executors named in the Will to whom Administration was granted. Henry Stevenson the Nephew the other Executor named in the Will having duly performed the probate and execution of the will and Codicil
The Testator Steven Raingill was formerly of Penley House Penley in the County of Flint but late of the City of Chester Esquire and died on the 28th day of April 1874 at the City of Chester aforesaid.
Under £1200. No Leaseholds   }  Charles T W Parry
Thos Rymer Solicitor Wrecham }  District Registrar

Friday, 24 October 2014

A mystery - as yet unsolved.

During my initial forays into the world of family history research, I came across an interesting tidbit. If I recall correctly, I had just discovered the UK National Archives, and had managed to locate and download a copy of my gggg-uncle George BANNISTER's will and, excited to see if I could find any other wills of interest, I started plugging various names from my family tree into the search box.[1] When I entered my gg-grandfather's name into the search box, a curious result was returned.

The document returned was titled Cause number: 1875 G30. Short title: Glegg v Raingill. Documents: Bill, interrogatories,... and listed a host of names, the majority of which appeared to be from one branch of my family tree. Among the defendants listed was my gg-grandfather George Amos BANNISTER and my great-grandfather, Amos Parker BANNISTER. The plaintiff listed was a Mr Edward Holt GLEGG - a name which meant nothing to me at the time. Not being located in the UK, a visit to the National Archives in Kew was out of the question, so I did the next best thing - I clicked the button to order a copy of the document. I filled in the form and waited for a quote of the estimated cost to digitise the documents. Unfortunately the estimate was much, much higher than I was expecting (from memory it was around £370!) so I let the matter lie for the time being.

Fast forward several years and I discovered the Gazette and was again searching for any references to wills or probate cases relating to my family. In the July 11, 1876 issue I found a notice referring to the court case above. The notice was directed at my gg-grandfather and requested he respond to the notice by the 20th July. Further copies of this notice were found in other issues of the Gazette and several other newspapers around the same time, but no details could be found regarding the nature of the case. Again I shelved this line of research and moved on to other areas of my tree.

Recently I was digging up some information about another interesting story in my family history for a magazine article and once more I stumbled on these articles about the Glegg v Rainfall case. In frustration I reached out to the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine Forum community. Thanks to a few suggestions in the forum, I learned that the Chancery Division of the High Court handled probate and estate cases, so I started to look for any deaths that occurred prior to the filing of the case in 1875. One name looked promising, Steven RAINGILL had died in 1874 and he was the brother of Matilda BANNISTER (nee RAINGILL) who happened to be my ggg-grandmother. A little more research of Steven and Matilda's family revealed that all the plaintiffs in this case were the descendants of Matilda and Steven, along with Steven's wife, also named Matilda. This was looking promising.

At this point, my thinking was that there must have been some problem with Steven RAINGILL's will which resulted in a court case. Further research revealed that Edward Holt GLEGG was the High Sheriff of Chester - the county where Steven died and was buried. The pieces were starting to come together, so for the next step I needed to locate Steven's will so I could try to understand what might have gone wrong...

[1] This was my research methodology at the time - plug random names into search engines and see what pops out!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

My file organisation scheme

Over the years I have collected a lot of files related to my family history efforts. A LOT of files. We're talking thousands of files, totalling a LOT of gigabytes. As you can imagine, having so many files it can be difficult finding the files you are after and it is inevitable that there will be some duplication mixed in there too.

As part of my reboot of my family tree, I want to try to restructure my digital file storage. I am doing this with several aims in mind:
  • Improve findability: By creating a logical folder hierarchy I hope to make it easier to find files. Every type of file will have a very clear place in the structure and the file names will be created using a simple set of rules. Together, these two steps will help make it easy to locate files relating to specific people, events or locations. When I get a new file to add to my collection, I will know what filename to give the file and where to store the original.
  • Reduce duplication: Source files will be kept in a single folder structure and each file will have a single canonical location within this structure. By using filesystem aliases, virtual copies of the files can be placed in various locations. So while the file may appear in several locations, only one copy will be stored in a single, easily locatable folder.
  • Reduce storage requirements on my mobile devices: My family tree in MacFamilyTree is over 1.25GB in size. That is quite a large chunk of the space available on my iPad and iPhone, so I want to reduce the file size as much as possible. One way I am planning on doing this is by storing two copies of each source file. One copy will be the original, unmodified file, while the second will be a normalised image, resized to make it more appropriate for mobile devices.[1]
Okay, so they're my stated goals - make files easier to find, reduce duplication of files, and reduce the storage requirements of my family tree - now how to turn that into practice? My next few blog posts will spell out the details, including the file naming scheme I have adopted, the folder structure I am using and my preferred file formats for mobile devices.

[1] Yes, I know I said I wanted to reduce duplication, but the space savings on my mobile devices will be worth it. Some of the source images I have are ridiculously detailed - 1200dpi or higher in many cases - so I can safely resize them to a smaller dpi while retaining readability.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Focus and discipline

Two of the (many) skills that are required when researching family history are focus and discipline - and it appears I have neither! >_<

I get sidetracked too easily at times. For my restarted family tree I was planning on starting with my grandfather nd working slowly, methodically back as far as I can along the male line. A good idea in theory, but other factors got in the way. While browsing the WDYTYA? magazine forums I saw a call from the editor for Eureka Moment stories - stories of when you finally broke through a brick wall. This got me thinking about a story from my family history so I contacted the editor, told her my story and went back through my research related to that story.

Digging back through that story, lead me to the British Newspaper Archive so I could re-locate one of the sources I used. Naturally, once I was back in the BNA I started looking for other relatives and that search turned up another story which I have never been able to get to the bottom of. That sent me off to several other sites - The Gazette, Find My Past and the UK National Archives. I still haven't solved this problem, but I feel I am definitely getting closer to understanding this case...

Anywho, details on these two stories will be forthcoming and I will definitely get back on track explaining my methodology and rebuilding my tree shortly. Unless something else shiny pops up somewhere... ;^)