Friday, 25 October 2013

To blog or not to blog

For some years friends, colleagues and Geneabloggers have asked me why I don't blog. My answer has been that I don't have time, since my archive research and transcription of  parish material takes up time and another media outlet both challenged my technical ability and time management. However gradually it appeared that the voice of the Parish Online Clerk is increasingly being heard (and occasionally listened to) and that help was available from long standing Geneabloggers the world over.
So here goes….
I first began transcribing in the 1960's as a result of a school project with my Latin teacher Mr. Diamond at Xaverian College Manchester. He took his students into Manchester Cathedral Archive to examine the Latin parish register of the ancient parish of Manchester. This was my first encounter with a Collegiate Church and I managed to not only transcribe two pages to submit to the Cathedral Archivist but also two pages for my class mate to copy and submit. Dave never threw any of his school things away and a few years ago scanned the two pages he still has to me in an email. The Archivist recommended grades. I had a high grade Dave had the lowest grade with a note that copying anothers work is unacceptable!
I returned to the archive and was encouraged to link with 3 genealogists who were busy transcribing parish registers in the Manchester Archive and at Cheshire County Record Office. I learned much from them and the team of four produced many typed transcripts.
As the surving member of the team I hold copyright to the transcripts. One of the copyright violations in recent years occurred when FamilySearch Indexing introduced a typed burial register (which they withdrew) to a collection of parish material from Lancashire parishes.
Nowadays in retirement I can look back over around 50 parish register transcripts I have produced. My 1940's portable typewriter (Army Clerks for the use of) was acquired from the Quartermaster's Stores of the 16th/5th Staffordshire Yeomanry in the 1950's. It helped that my father was Regimental Quarter Master and the machine was declared surplus to Museum requirements. It was reputed to have visited France in 1944 via Normandy.
From the keys flowed thousands of typed transcript entries and as a genealogy student much more besides. I could still use the art of assembling an alphabetical index of parish entries although that art is dying out as a generation of long serving archivists retire and transcribers depart.
For two years I have been an Online Parish Clerk for Downe in Kent and my research and transcriptions are available on several other Kent Online Parish Clerks pages. Downe has a parish register which commences in 1829 and is bound in a deed. The deed has no connection with Downe; save the mention of an ancestor of an owner of Down House. The deed became the outer cover of the early Composite register in the late nineteenth century due to the thickness of the vellum and the Rector includes a conveniently dated note of the binding of the register. Down House became home to Charles Darwin and his family for the last 40 years of his life.
It is a pleasure to be invited to family reunions in the village, the most notable being the Manning family whose forebears left the village in the 1500's!
Copyright Henry Mantell