Newsletter, 5th October 2021

Dear Readers,


Further marital progress

The Whitehouse GRO Marriages 1837Q3 to 1911 have taken another leap forward.  Firstly, Peter Loach has kindly contributed another 37 marriages with details, to which I have added 7.  I have carried out a reconciliation, greatly aided by my daughter who is a whizz at this sort of thing, rectified omissions and removed duplicates, so that as of 5th October 2021, there were 7406 marriages with at least some detail extracted from church registers, certificates etc.  which is 83.45% of the revised total of 8875.  Of these, 7347 (82.78%) have the "full" detail, meaning everything except names of officiating clergymen and/or registrar and, in some instances, the number of the entry in the register.  Another 50 (0.60%) have partial detail, meaning at least the names of the fathers of the groom and bride and the date and place of the marriage.  Also included are 9 marriages with less detail than that.  The three categories are marked "f", "p" and "s" in the GRO M 1837-1911 file.  To get the details, just note the Universal Number (UN) in the far left column and look up this number in the GRO M DETAILS file.  Meanwhile, the number of marriages with identified spouses has increased to a total of 8505 (95.83%).  Because of the duplication between UN358 and 359, the latter has been deleted and all marriages from UN360 onwards moved back by one number.


The 1911 census file revision

Brian Strehlke and I have been working steadily away, proceeding alphabetically by county and have reached Sussex, except that Staffordshire, which has by far the largest number of Whitehouse households, is only 15% checked so far.  The up to date version has been loaded to the website today.


Marriage Mining and the Loach Tables

The articles that I wrote in March 2021 did not make it to the June or September issues of "The Midland Ancestor" or "Journal of One-name Studies".  Evidently, a lot of other people have been busy writing during "lockdown".  "The Midland Ancestor" version, slightly revised in June, is on this website and contains links to the Loach Tables.


City of Canterbury Consolidated Probate Index

This is the title of an article by the experienced genealogist, David Wright, in Genealogists' Magazine, September 2021, at pages 437 to 439.  It appears that current coverage is limited to the City of Canterbury, and to Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills 1383-1858; PCC administrations 1559-1660 & 1853-1858; Archdeaconry Court of Canterbury wills and administrations 1731-1858 and Consistory Court of Canterbury wills and administrations.  It was searched by me at www.drdavidwright.co.uk, for which there is no charge.  There were no Whitehouse entries.


David expresses regret and frustration that the TNA shows no interest in digitising the PCC administrations, but at least Whitehouse researchers need not worry, as I researched them in 2005.  They were stored in grimy bundles at The National Archives and I extracted 54 of the 55 Whitehouse ones, the earliest of which was in 1737.


1911 census

Weird and wonderfully woeful transcriptions by "Ancestry" continue to flourish, as in WLITCHARO (Emily in the Leicester workhouse), WHITEHAWK (George & family, 14 Lancaster St., Barrow in Furness).  The surname is not the only source of error.  Joseph Whitehouse (70) of Gainsborough, married for 47 years to Eliza (64), having had 14 children, was transcribed as aged 10.   A rare type of error occurred in the original census entry when "Level Whitehouse" was written clearly, but he turned out to be William Neville Whitehouse!



Newsletter, 1st April 2021

Dear Readers,


Progress at the WFHC

Today is a birthday in the history of my information service, for it began on 1st April 1981 and is therefore 40 years old.  Never mind the history, though, as it's also an important milestone in improving the website.  For some years I have been wanting to get rid of my complex method of indexing correspondents' trees and at long last I have done so.  While trees will continue to have arrows pointing to the line of descent of the correspondent, they will be indexed by the tree number.  Where a tree has more than one correspondent attached to it, the tree number is that of the lowest correspondent number.  For example, tree 050 has correspondents 050, 214, 331 and 474 attached to it.  It is now indexed as 050 alone.  So in an 1871 census entry the reference to 214 and 474 has been replaced by 050.   The tree number can be found from the Correspondent Key file (link on the index page).  In this key, there are two columns, one showing "WFHC No." (the correspondent number) and the other showing the numbers of all correspondents.  For example, if correspondent 214 looks up that number, he will find listed 050 214 331 and 474 and know that his tree number is 050, being the lowest.  To achieve this has not been simple, for it has involved laying out the index columns of more than 30 files and changing them all in a single set of operations.  As there are many trees awaiting revision, which will generate further indexing, especially for the 1911 census, this seemingly bureaucratic exercise will save time later.


At the beginning of the year, I was pleased to say that Brian and I had started work on improving the England & Wales 1911 census file.  Proceeding alphabetically by county we have now reached Kent.


Another area of progress has been my marriage records for England & Wales covering 1st July 1837 to 1911.  Unexpectedly and very kindly, Peter Loach, with whom I have been collaborating to publicise some of his work, has dug out some marriage details for me.  I have also done some research to uncover spouses of Whitehouses.  In the result there are 7301 marriages for which all the essential details are provided in my Marriage Details file, which amount to over 82%.  There are 50 more with partial details.  The GRO (General Register Office, England & Wales) Marriages file is now over 95% complete with spouse names.


Mention of Peter Loach brings me on to the new article that I have written for "The Midland Ancestor" entitled "Marriage Mining in the West Midlands" and this is now available (link on index page).  It refers to Peter's tables of the GRO clerks' quarterly page ranges that correspond to the marriages at an Anglican church, Registry Office etc. in Birmingham and nearby areas.  An appendix to this article provides links to the tables, enabling them to be downloaded from this website.


GRO extend birth indexes to 1934

If you use the GRO birth index for England and Wales online, you will know that there is a gap in the indexes.  The GRO have added recently all the remaining entries from the registers that have been scanned and indexed, taking them up to 1934.  Unfortunately, for the period 1921-1934, the GRO index does not show the mother’s maiden name, but the quarterly indexes available on FreeBMD do.  However, the quarterly indexes do not show the full names, only the first forename and initials.  Thus, to obtain the full information, both sources need to be consulted.



Scotland gets little mention in these newsletters, because only two of my trees are referenced to my Scottish files.  Nevertheless, I would like to create a Scottish marriage index and improve the census records.  Meanwhile my attention has been drawn to a resource at https://scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/digital-volumes/historical-taxrolls/female-servant-tax-rolls-1785-1792.  These include an image and a transcription, and feature the full name and address of the employer as well as the names of all female servants employed, how many servants, and how many children were in the residence.  Unfortunately, there is no name index.  At https://www.scottishindexes.com there are some esoteric records of Whitehouses, comprising two Sherriff Court paternity cases, one High Court Crown Office precognition (pre-trial witness statement) and nine asylum records.


The mysterious affair at Syleham

I mentioned this item in the January newsletter, but have a bit more to add to the story.  When researching my own Whitehouse family history, I investigated the marriage of Jonathan Smith to Ellen Sowter, on 29th October 1869 in the parish church of Syleham in Suffolk.  The GRO certificate obtained showed the marriage in 1869 as entry No 91 in the church register.  The original register, which had remained in the church, agreed.  This is a small village with few marriages and entry 92 was a marriage occurring nearly a year later on 18th October 1870 between Edward Rush and Anna Amelia Steggall.  Searching the GRO index for these marriages shows both registered in the 4th quarter 1870 !   Many errors have been found in the GRO's records of marriages, causing Michael Whitfield Foster to write two books on the subject "A Comedy of Errors or The Marriage Records of England and Wales 1837-1899", published in 1998 and "A Comedy of Errors - Act Two", published in 2002.


The unforgotten

Thomas Henry Whitehouse married in 1898, the GRO reference being 1898 Dec (Q4) Southwark St Olave 1d 544.  Using the publicly available "Marriage Locator" available to the public from the Guild of One-name Studies, it can be seen that this marriage took place at the church of Bermondsey St. James.  This has been filmed by "Ancestry", yet the marriage could not be found.  The GRO reference appears correct and shows marriages of DAY, Emma; MARSHALL, William; TYRRELL Hephzibah and WHITEHOUSE, Thomas Henry.

The explanation ?  "Ancestry" omitted to film two facing pages of the church register.  The bad news was that a search of the 1901 and 1911 censuses yielded nothing useful which would resolve which bride married which groom.  The good news was that Hephzibah is a very rare forename.  The birth of a Hephzibah Tyrrell registered in 1867 Q1 at Newington Registration District (RD), in the same area as the church, was encouraging.  A death search for a Hephzibah Marshall or Whitehouse yielded only one sensible answer, Hephzibah Whitehouse, aged 39, registered in 1906 in Aston RD.  That looked a good fit.  Next I went to the "new" GRO births index in search of Whitehouse births in 1898-1902 with Tyrrell as the mother's maiden surname.  There were three in Southwark RD, in 1899 and 1901 (including twin boys) and one in Aston RD in 1902.  So it's overwhelmingly probable that Thomas Henry Whitehouse married Hephzibah Tyrrell.   Ever keen to supply details of this marriage for my Marriage Details file on this website, I made a note to visit the London Metropolitan Archives when they re-open.


The genealogists' saviour

Going home at midnight, a man was taking a short cut through a cemetery when he heard a tapping sound.  Frightened, but curious, he approached the sound.  He came upon an old man chiselling away at a newly erected tombstone.  Relieved, he said

“Hello, I thought you were a ghost”.

“Idiots!” said the old man.  They spelt my name wrong”.


Lockdown will

"Signed by the testator as his/her last will and testament, this........day of.................2021

in the socially distanced presence of the subscribed witnesses, each of whom subscribed in the socially distanced presence of each other, and to each of whom the acts of signature by the testator and of the other subscribed witness are clearly visible across the social distances, all said social distances having been maintained in accordance with the government's advice....."




Newsletter, 1st January 2021

Dear Readers,


Progress at the WFHC

I am delighted to report that Brian Strehlke and I have completed work on expanding and  improving the 1881 (England & Wales etc.) census file on this website.  We started this work as long ago as 8th January 2019.   Brian has done the lion's share and performed brilliantly, especially considering that he is a US citizen.   My own role has been minor, mainly in checking and interpreting problem entries, though even this has often been time-consuming.  Hitherto, this 1881 census file was restricted to the entries found for the Whitehouse trees of correspondents, but it is now unrestricted and as complete and accurate as we can make it, thus bringing it into line with the other census files.  Although many WFHC correspondent references are given, it is likely that they are incomplete.


We have made a small start on improving the 1911 census file.  Counties beginning with letters B and C and the whole of Warwickshire have been scrutinised, but how far this will project proceed remains to be seen.


Census Sherlock

To improve some items in census returns requires a good deal of investigation.  Take, for example, the 1911 census return made by Mr. Charles Whitehouse of 77 Rupert Street, Nechells, Aston, Warwickshire.  He is aged 53, his wife, shown as "Mrs Whitehouse", is aged 51 and there are four children of ages 8 to 21.  Completed years of the present marriage were entered as "4" and no children, but these years and numbers were crossed out.  Instead, children born to the present marriage were given as 8 born alive, 6 living and 2 dead.  Wife and children were all born in Aston, Charles in nearby Smethwick.  The problem here is that "Mrs" is terribly unhelpful.  A search in the WFHC marriage files showed two possible marriages in Aston Registration District.  For one of them, I had the details and Charles was much too young.  For the other, I had no details and to get them one would need a certificate, as the marriage took place in a Register Office or non-conformist church.  Recourse to "Free BMD" showed the woman in this marriage was Elsie Elizabeth Woodward or Annie Bate, but which was Charles' wife and which married the other groom, Richard Bailey ?  Next I went to "Family Search", which showed a child baptised to Richard and Elsie Elizabeth Bailey.  That was verified by finding a birth registration in the new GRO index, giving the mother's maiden name as Woodward.  It followed that Charles Whitehouse must have married Annie Bate.  So, "Mrs" was replaced by "Annie" and a note inserted in square brackets in the WFHC 1911 transcript file.  After searching in four indexes, the probable correct forename was arrived at !


The wrong year

Having been researching family trees on and off for 60 years, I thought I had "seen everything" as regards GRO certificates, but I was wrong.  When investigating the marriage of Jonathan Smith to Ellen Sowter at Syleham parish church in Suffolk, I obtained a GRO certificate, which was clearly written and showed them to have been married on 29th October 1869.   However, when I came to check the registration in the GRO marriage index, it became clear that the marriage could not have taken place in the 4th quarter of 1869, but could have done so in the same quarter of 1870.  It's important to remember that these GRO certificates were generated by the vicar or a churchwarden copying from the original register onto loose sheets which were then sent to the GRO.  They are mere copies from the original register and as such are subject to the fallibility of transcription.


The great liar

On a related theme, one cannot necessarily believe all that one reads on certificates.  Elsie Cleobury Talbott was born on 3rd February 1895.  After her first husband, Thomas Reuben Dainty Pargeter, died, she re-married on 14th September 1939 to a soldier.  The marriage certificate names her as Elsie Cleobury Ann Pargeter (wrong: "Ann" is a later addition), aged 29 (wrong: she was 44), spinster (wrong: she was a widow), giving her father's name as Thomas Ruben Pargeter (the misspelt name of her first husband:  her father was William Henry Talbott, but to say so would admit that she was a widow or illegitimate). 

The Society of Genealogists

The Society's premises in Clerkenwell, London were sold in October, fetching around £6 million after costs.  They have leased them back for 2 years and are faced with having to search urgently for somewhere else.  That's not so easy when London is the most obvious place and the floors need to be strong enough to take its large library of books.  Clearly, a freehold purchase would be the best solution, since this library is not easily movable.


A partial solution to the library problem is digitisation, which will mean scanning large amounts of material, a project which has been delayed by Covid and which, we were told, was not yet underway.  It is apparently a joint venture with "Family Search", giving the Society exclusive access to the digitised items for 3 years.


"I haven't got time to do this now"

In the 1881 census, Brian and I came upon a Whitehouse family in Derbyshire, who took in a lodger.  The enumerator added a note: "Lodger went away on April 2nd & took Schedule with him" (Piece 3423/Folio 84/Schedule Nos 248 & 249).


We all hope for a happier 2021,



Newsletter, 2nd October 2019

Dear Readers,


This mini-update is prompted by the work done by Brian Strehlke and me on the 1881 census.  For many years, the 1881 census transcripts on this website have been confined to those required to reference people on the WFHC collection of Whitehouse trees.  In my newsletter six months ago, I reported that we had in-filled these with transcripts not having any such Whitehouse tree "attached" to them.  Actually, in-filled does not do justice to this project, because Brian has worked through all the Whitehouse-containing households, finding many errors and omissions in the previous entries bearing references.  He has done most of the work, my role being to check it, resolve queries and make it as consistent as possible with the style of the previous entries, though even this is quite time-consuming.  We have advanced from Piece 1500 to 2825, which is in Walsall.  There is still a long way to go.


Marriage law modernisation

Changes to Marriage Registration – The way in which marriages in England & Wales are registered is set to change following the passing into law of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc.) Act 2019 which, as well as providing for opposite-sex couples to be able to enter into civil partnerships, will allow for mother’s names to be included in Marriage Registers as well as or in place of father’s names.  It also makes provision for significant changes in the way that marriages are registered.

Representatives of the Church of England and Church in Wales have been in discussion with the General Register Office about the proposed changes which the Government are keen to bring into effect as soon as possible – but no implementation date has yet been confirmed.  Issues yet to be resolved include the provision of a workable secure system to produce the new documentation and time to train the 20,000+ clergy who are able to conduct weddings.

In essence, the proposals will replace Marriage Registers and Marriage Certificates (issued at the time of the wedding) with a Marriage Document which will be prepared by the officiating priest before the wedding.  At the ceremony, the Marriage Document will be signed by the couple, their witnesses and the officiating priest (in much the same way as the Registers are currently).  The significant difference is that the couple will then need to ensure that the Marriage Document is deposited at the local Register Office within 7 days of the date of the wedding and the local Superintendent Registrar will then record the details and issue the couple with a Marriage Certificate. The couple can ask someone to lodge the Marriage Document on their behalf (as in many cases they will, of course, be on honeymoon!), but it is their responsibility (not the officiating minister’s responsibility) to ensure that it is done.  I cannot help wondering whether Marriage Documents deposited later than this will attract a fine or a surcharge for the certificate, as a means of boosting the revenue of the Register Office.

How the Marriage Document will be produced remains under discussion. The Regulations envisage that there will be some form of secure online portal to which clergy will need access, as there is provision for couples to be reminded by email from the General Register Office if they have not lodged the Document within the required period.  In the shorter term, it is likely that clergy will be issued with a stock of Marriage Documents (similar to the books of Marriage Certificates which are currently provided by the GRO).

For marriages that currently take place by Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate, the SRC will be replaced by a “Marriage Schedule” which will be produced by the Register Office taking Notice of the Marriage and that Schedule will then be signed by all the parties including the officiating priest once the marriage has taken place and, again, will have to be lodged with the Register Office within 7 days.

I wonder whether all this kerfuffle will mean fewer weddings being conducted by the clergy and many more by Registrars.

Perhaps also all this will mean that church registers containing marriage certificates will be deposited at Record Offices, as they will become obsolete.  We shall see.

Finding a divorce

While probate records for England & Wales are readily searchable online, divorce records are not and the cost of finding a decree absolute is an astronomical £65.  That fee covers a 10-year search of the central index kept by the Central Family Court.  If the records are held by a District Court, they will send them.  There is an electronic database from 1981 onwards, but it is not available for public use and the same fee is charged whether the divorce took place before then or not.  The request will be dealt with in 5-10 working days from receipt of payment. You may pay by cheque enclosing a covering letter or alternatively contact the Finance team to pay by card by emailing them with contact details at feesteamcfc@justice.gov.uk.


Contact details for the Central Family Court


020 7421 8594


An old profession ?

The last batch of 1881 census entries caused a wry smile, as it included a grocer who was also a "pro' dealer".


All good wishes, Keith


Newsletter, 2nd April 2019

Dear Readers,


It's not much of a day here, some 13 miles south of London, England, being cloudy, raining and not very warm.  I have been buoyed up by completing my maternal line family trees.  As for the paternal line, they have all been published, but the main two need extensive revision for re-publication in a better form.  I hope to complete this work within 12 months from now, but that might be optimistic.  Meanwhile, my Whitehouse work will continue at a low level.


Progress report since the last website update 12 months ago


Whitehouse deaths index ages added 1837-65 and full forenames added to replace initials.

Improvements to the 1881 (England & Wales) census file - pieces 1 to 1500 now include entries which do not have a WFHC reference against them.

Probate index improvements    - grants index extended from 1961 to 1967, thus now covering 1858 to 1967

                                                                - ages at death added for 1837 to 1865

                                                                - big checking exercise from 1951 to 1957, resulting in correction of errors.

Other British Marriages - at last able to complete the Irish marriages file, thanks to the official website for civilian ones:  www.irishgenealogy.ie

Two apprentices added.

Australian Assisted Immigrants 1880 to 1887 (five) shown in MISC EXPLANATIONS file.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Upgrading the Whitehouse deaths index (England & Wales) has been a challenging experience and I must start by paying tribute to Brian Strehlke who has done almost all the work on supplying ages for years 1837 to 1865, using the new, online General Register Office for England & Wales (GRO) index.  Thereby hangs a tale.  It was known that this new index recorded all ages as if they were years, even though some were months or weeks, maybe even days or hours, making it impossible to rely on any age of 23 or less being accurate.  Nevertheless, the decision was made to press on with enhancing the WFHC deaths file by including the ages as stated, though some were submitted to the GRO for possible correction.   After Brian had finished, the GRO revised the ages, reducing those less than a year old to 0, and those from 12 to 23 months to 1.  While this was necessary to avoid misleading the public any longer, it did result in a loss of information.  Given this situation, I compared the previous ages with the revised ones and set up a new column to record the previous ages which had been reduced to 0 or 1 years.  The previous ages were found to be useful in correlating some of the GRO index entries with the WFHC Black Country Burials file, since infants' ages in burial registers were usually recorded in months and weeks.  These and a few other correlations have been entered in the "Remarks" column, but it is important to bear in mind that (a) they are merely examples to test the usefulness of the previous ages and (b) they do not attempt to reproduce the whole of the burial entry, which will normally record the include the abode of the deceased and sometimes the date of death.


The exercise of adding ages brought about an interesting oddity, by which the age of a John Whitehouse of Hill Top, West Bromwich, who died in 1838, was previously shown in the new GRO index as 32, but was reduced by the revision to 0.   On obtaining the certificate, a possible explanation emerged:  the age was interpreted as 3 years 2 months; there is an odd-looking squiggle to the left of and just below the level of "months", being read as a "2", which is not unreasonable since the alternative, "8", was written differently in the year "1838".  Thus, it is surmised, 3 years 2 months was shown as 32, the years and months being neglected.  When it came to a revision, the squiggle was read as a false pen stroke or overlooked and the age read as 3 months, meaning that 0 years would be entered.    [I am no computer expert and had intended to insert a picture of the certificate here, but, sadly, I have failed to use the correct hypertext marked language.  If there is anyone out there who can do this for me in Notepad, an offer would be welcome].


After Brian's work on the ages, I added another improvement by using the new index to convert initials in the old GRO index to the full forename.  There were over 180 of these, a surprising number, even considering that they include deaths registered in 1866, in the last half of 1910 and all 1911.  This threw up an interesting change, by which a James Benjamin W Whitehouse was shown to be James Benjamin Whitehouse Griffiths.  This was one of 10 deletions made during our work; there were 5 additions, as shown in the file GRO D del-add which can be accessed in BMD EXPLANATIONS.


By the way, forenames in the  new GRO online index need to be treated with caution, as they have not been transcribed 100 percent  perfectly.  Thus, I have seen Foxall rendered as Forall, Phineas as Phincas and Walter as Walker. 


Assiduous readers will know that the WFHC 1881 census file for England & Wales was established to index trees of the WFHC registered correspondents, whose numbers are shown in the extreme right hand column.  Being incomplete, it has been referred to as a "referencing file".  Brian and I have begun a collaborative project of "in-filling" this file with census entries that are not referenced.   Brian has been adding the new entries and checking the referenced ones entered by me, following which I have checked all the entries.  We have covered Pieces 1 to 1500, which include London and the "Home Counties" surrounding it.  This is time-consuming work and how much further we shall get remains to be seen.  I am immensely grateful to Brian.


Meanwhile, I have been busy extending the file of grant details of wills and administrations, taken from the index of the Principal Probate Registry (PPR) in England & Wales, from 1960 to 1967.   This is not the simple task that it might appear, as the processing to put the PPR index into spreadsheet form is intricate and each row involves more typing than those in most other WFHC files.  Anyhow, it has been completed, resulting in a 20 percent increase in the number of wills and administrations.  Reader, do send me an e-mail to whitehousefhc at waitrose dot com as it is always interesting to know if anyone looks at this twaddle.  As before, the dates of death have been correlated with the GRO index, making it possible to show an age at death.  The opportunity has also been taken to revise 1951-57, a section of the index which has never been properly checked.  This massive file in A4 landscape prints out at 267 pages.


Beyond 1967 towards the present day becomes less useful, because the place of death has been omitted from the PPR index, which means that it would be impossible reliably and consistently to identify the correct entry in the GRO deaths index and thereby an age at death.  That would remove an important advantage of the WFHC file.


More checking needs to be done on other years in this probate file, a task which does not require anything more than internet access, so if there are any volunteers, I would be grateful.


Tree numbering 

I had hoped during the last 12 months to number the 274 trees and use the tree numbers instead of correspondent references.  Thus, for example, references to correspondents 016, 405 and 523 would be replaced by simply 016.  This is not a simple exercise, as it would have to be done in all the census files, in several marriage files and three probate files.  I have not had the time to tackle this, knowing that it would require a great deal of care and vigilance to avoid getting into a mess !


A bizarre official error

Sarah RAWORTH married George WALKER on 7th September 1852 at Radcliffe-on-Trent St Mary.  Radcliffe-on-Trent is a Nottinghamshire village in Bingham Registration District (RD).  Bizarrely, the General Register Office Index shows the RD for this marriage as Newark, which is a long way away.  1852 was a changeover year in which the volume numbers for RDs were changed, Nottinghamshire becoming 7b instead of 15.  From other entries it is apparent that the GRO clerks were confused by where in their sequence to position Bingham marriages, muddling them with Newark ones in the sequence of RDs.


The men who said "no"

This is the title of a short article in the May 2018 issue of "Family Tree" about  a database of objectors in World War 1.   "The men who objected to or were unable to comply with the requirements of the  Military Service Act [1916] applied for an exemption and underwent a tribunal hearing and it is those men who are identified as conscientious objectors and it is those men whose names will appear on this database".  So, it appears that these people are not necessarily conscientious objectors, but might have suffered from ill health, had to support their children or elderly relatives, or were those whose skills were required for important jobs (doctors, farmers, teachers etc.) .  Anyhow, there are just 4 Whitehouse listed:  Edward, Reg, Wilfred Percy and William Thomas.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find how to obtain more details, either in the article or on the cited website at



The War Memorials Register

The June 2018 issue of "Family Tree" urges us to explore the new online register of war memorials.  This is on the website of the Imperial War Museum at https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/search and is free.  According to "Family Tree", one can search more than 1 million names.  I duly entered "Whitehouse" which yielded a mere 18 entries, of which only 3 related to the deaths of a Whitehouse.  The remainder contained the word in another context, including Whitehouse villages in Scotland and Northern Ireland, street names containing the word, makers or sponsors of memorials etc.


Of the three Whitehouse deaths, two were already known to me:

- Major Herbert Whitehouse (1895-1918), who served in the Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action, has a memorial at Trinity Methodist Church, Handsworth (Staffs), where the family lived for many years.  He belongs to Tree 037.

- Herbert Arthur Whitehouse (1896-1917), who served in the Royal Navy Air Service and died in Suffolk from wounds received from a German aircraft, has a memorial at St Mary the Virgin church in Shotley, Suffolk.  He is of Tree 251 and was a distant cousin of mine.


The third Whitehouse memorial is of a Thomas Whitehouse & Edith Harris who married in 1901 at Prescot (Lancashire) Register Office and are at 7 Leslie Road, St Helens on the 1911 census.  Their memorial, at Nab Wood, Shipley, Yorkshire, also refers to their youngest son, Stanley, a Royal Navy Petty Officer, who was killed in action on 13th January 1945 aged 21 and was buried in France.  He is not on any Whitehouse tree of mine.  According to the memorial, Thomas died on 1st August 1941 at the age of 62.  His is a Lancashire family which can be traced back to his father, Joseph, a bottle maker who married twice, grandfather Thomas, a clog maker, who appears to have died before the 1871 census and Thomas' father, Isaac, probably the blacksmith aged 43 on the 1851 census of Manchester and born there.



Rather belatedly, I have read the report of a seminar "Accidents will happen" organised by the Guild of One-name Studies, held in February 2018.   Dr. Simon Wills gave a talk about ancestors lost at sea.  The report contained this alarming statistic:  "During the period 1867 to 1871 there were 7,062 shipping 'casualties', including 2,598 ships lost and 8,807 lives - and this was only on the British coast."  Apparently there is a website www.wrecksite.eu.


Undone by Americans

The 1939 Register showed a Charles Cutts with an Edith, at 31 Bentham Street, Chorley, Lancashire, both married and both born in 1898.  No marriage was found, so there was no simple means of determining Edith's maiden surname.  However, her birth date was shown there and also in her death registration as 12 November 1898.  I hit upon the idea of searching in "Ancestry" for any Edith born in Chorley with this exact birth date.  Lo and behold, there was one, Edith Walsh, baptised 16 January 1899 at Chorley St Peter, birth date 12 November 1898, according to the transcripts.  Wonderful !   Then I looked for the transcript by the Lancashire on-line parish clerks.  To my dismay, it gave the birth date as 11 December 1898 and I have always regarded their work highly.  To resolve the problem, I found an online image of the baptisms register.  There in the margin was written: "born 11/12/1898", which is the customary dd/mm/yyyy way of writing dates in this country.


Best wishes to all,




Newsletter, 3rd April 2018

Dear Readers,


You will have noted from the index page that the next full website update will not take place until a year from now.  I need to get more serious about working on my own ancestral lines other than Whitehouse.  While I shall be doing some Whitehouse work on records and trees, it will be far less than I have been doing.  Difficult choices have had to be made.  That said, any offer of help with taking my Whitehouse probate index for England & Wales further forward into the 1960s would be very well received.  The principal requirement is an ability to copy the existing style.  The official index works only on surnames, one year at a time, is slightly tricky and often tedious to use and, unlike mine, does not correlate the date of death given in the grant (will/administration) with the GRO deaths index.


Records progress

The biggest event this quarter is the scanning of most of my collection of copies of wills and administrations obtained from the various diocesan registries, covering 1611 to 1857.   Many are scanned as pdfs, but some have been transcribed and some abstracted.   These scans etc. will be sent on request to anyone who has read the appropriate PROB PEOPLE file, quotes the WFHC reference shown in that file or in the PROB GRANTS file and gives a plausible reason for wanting to see the full documents.  The PROB GRANTS file, accessible via a link from PROB EXPLANATIONS, has been revised to include a column showing what is available.  This facility is open to any reader, whether registered as a correspondent or not.


Since a typical scanned will of 5 pages occupies over 3MB of digital space, it might well be sent by "WE TRANSFER", "Dropbox", or another cloud type service.  There might be quite a lot of merit in requesting a transcript if available, as most of the transcribing has been done by me and I am used to reading secretary hand, the old script in which the older wills and administrations were written.  I am not good at deciphering abbreviated Latin used in the forms of grant:  while probates of wills are mainly in a standard form, some grant recitals in Latin are very difficult to read, so I have paid a professional translator on three occasions.


I have also created a file of famous Whitehouses.  Please treat this as a first attempt and do tell me if you think anyone else ought to be included or if you can improve the entries.  Follow the same format as in that file, if possible, please.  Access is via MISC EXPLANATIONS, as this is referenced to WFHC trees and is therefore treated as a database.


The above activities have been more time-consuming than you might suppose and I have therefore had little time to devote to updating trees, which also requires a big input of hours, sometimes more than a week being spent on a single tree.  This quarter I have completed Trees 049, 053 and 087.  That choice is not arbitrary:  049 was the last tree not to be put into Excel; 053 is that of Brian Strehlke, whom I cannot thank enough for his work on the Black Country Burials Index and the GRO Deaths index, the revision and improvement of which latter is in progress; and 087 is responsive to a correspondent who wrote me a very nice letter.


Data Protection

I have been wondering what action to take in the light of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union.  This is due to come into force on 25th May 2018.  Unlike Directives, EU Regulations are directly applicable law in the UK.  There is also a UK Bill going through Parliament at present.  If there were a business relationship with my correspondents, for example if they were required to pay a membership fee, I suppose that I would have to contact them all, asking them to e-mail me giving me permission to hold their data on computer etc.  In effect, they would have to re-register.  However, I charge no fees and regard all my registered correspondents as personal friends.  So, at least for the present, my view is that the GDPR does not apply to my situation.  Anyhow, I have decided to change my policy about disclosure of addresses, both e-mail and postal and not to disclose anyone's details to anyone else, even if they are distant cousins sharing the same tree.  Telephone numbers have always been confidential to me and will remain so.


Tree numbers

I plan to change my referencing system in the next few months.  At present, Whitehouse trees to which more than one correspondent is attached are referenced in my databases according to a complicated system which, basically allots a correspondent number to events in the part of a tree that lie closest to that correspondent's descent, or, if there is no one correspondent closer than another, to all of them.  In future, all events on a tree will be referenced by the lowest correspondent number.  So, for example, Tree 012, which is shared by ten other people (057 185 193 238 410 499 509 533 549 550) will just be referenced 012 in the databases and not, let us say, only 549 550.  This is a complex operation, given the large number of databases that are referenced.  Using simple tools, they will need to be stationed head to foot in a single file occupying so many rows that they will have first to be converted into Excel 2013 files.  My daughter could write me a code in "Visual Basic" to do the job more elegantly, but it would probably take longer overall and her time is more valuable than mine (sadly!).


News from "Family Search"

In January, I attended a talk given by Sharon Hintze, the recently retired director of the London Family History Centre.  The talk was mainly about her own family and the businesses in Birmingham which they owned or in which they worked.  She gave the following figures for the expanding population of Birmingham:

1801:      61,000

1821:      85,000

1841:    182,000

1861:    296,000

1881:    400,000

2011: 1,074,000


Apart from this, I found little in it to interest me.  However, she also told us some useful things about the London Family History Centre, which remains located within The National Archives building at Kew and seems likely to remain there for many years.  The Latter Day Saints (LDS) still want to build a new centre and meeting house at Oliver House, 51-53 City Road, London, but this is within a Conservation Area and the LDS is only at the stage of pre-planning advice.  The LDS's decision to get rid of their microfilms, which are now housed at The Society of Genealogists (SoG) in London, has proved deeply unpopular, since access to them was free at the Family History Centre and now requires either membership of the SoG or payment of a search fee.  The plan is for everything on film to go digital, but that project has a long way to go and, personally, I don't find it very quick to scroll through images when trawling a long period of years or when there is no direct link to the page.


Holdings of material at the LDS's Family History Centres can be accessed on line via the "Family Search" Catalog and selecting Society of Genealogists (or other centre) from the menu.  The change is convenient for me as I am a member of the SoG, intend to remain so and can get there much more easily than to The National Archives at Kew.  Using "Family Search" now involves registration (free) and many images can only be accessed at a Family History Centre.


Among the films at the SoG are those for the  English & Welsh probate registries, which enable one to read a will for which there is a grant of probate or administration from 1858 to 1925.  Here's how:  in the "Family Search" Catalog enter in Keywords "record copy wills" and it will come up with links to the Principal Probate Registry and District Registry film collections.  Of course, you have to know where the will was proved, but you can get this from the online Principal Probate Registry calendar of wills or, if it's a Whitehouse, from the WFHC database.  Then you have to identify the correct film number.  This is quite a tricky business in which it is easy to make a mistake, but, with care, it can be done.  The whole process amounts to rather advanced searching, but saves paying a fee to get the will.


The uncontactables

In the January newsletter, I mentioned not being able to tell correspondent 107 that I had a new tree (081) to send her, since neither her e-mail address nor her telephone number worked.  In former days, I would send a letter to such a person, but that didn't work very often, so I just wasted postages.  At one time, for several years, I put a list of uncontactables on the WFHC website, but never got any response by doing so.  I made two attempts, on well separated days, to 'phone correspondent 285, who is connected to the same tree, but the initial ringing tone twice reverted to an "engaged" signal, so I shall not waste any more time.  My message to her is that you have a five letter surname in which all three consonants are the same, so if ever you read this, you will know who you are!   Generally stated, however, my policy now is that it is up to correspondents to get in touch with me, especially if they  have improvements to make their tree, as these will be very welcome and if their tree is not on the website, it will be put in the queue for updating in all respects.


A cameo of genealogical difficulties

Correspondent 087, who is not on e-mail, wrote me a lovely thank you letter.  As she gave her 'phone number, we had a chat.  I reckoned that she deserved to have her tree taken out of turn to be updated.  It was 8 pages before I started and full of problems, even though these Whitehouses lived in or near the town of Warwick, which is out of their usual Black Country area.   I had just got to the last page and the marriage of Henry Whitehouse to a Jane of unknown surname.  According to the 1901 census, they had children Jane born 1897-98 at Kennington in Oxfordshire and Henry born about September 1900 in Oxford.  That made sense as Henry's father had died in 1898 in Headington Registration District.  Headington is a suburb of Oxford City nowadays.  However, I could find no marriage of this couple and no birth registration for Jane.  I did find one for Henry in 1900, but it was in Warwick.  The new, online, GRO index showed that the mothers' maiden surname was Hiles.  Armed with that information, I found the birth registrations of five others, including Mary registered in the first quarter of 1898 in Warwick Registration District, but still no Jane.  I concluded that Mary and Jane must be one and the same daughter, which was confirmed by the 1911 census, showing no Mary, but including Jane aged 13, born in Oxford, Oxfordshire and all the other siblings that I had found by entering the mother's maiden surname of Hiles.  So Henry and Jane must have been merely partners, passing themselves off as married, as so many did.   Just to check this out better, I started reading further down the chronological list of marriages of Henry Whitehouses in my own GRO Marriage Index, when I came upon the marriage of Henry Whitehouse to Jane Hiles in 1905, eight years after the birth of their first child, at the improbable venue of Hereford Register Office.


Victorian women

I have been blitzing the piles of stuff that I keep from "Family Tree" magazine, as they were just too interesting to throw away.  I loved the article "The tick tock of the biological clock" by Ruth A. Symes in the July 2015 issue.  To give you the flavour, it is written as 10 questions and answers, starting with "When did puberty start ?", to which the author's reply was "It is believed that most Victorian girls started to menstruate at around age 15....".   The author has very kindly given me permission to reproduce her original article, before it was embellished by "Family Tree" and this is now available in the file "Biological Clock" accessible from the index page.


Death by 2.30, so to say

Have you seen a death certificate in which the cause of an infant death is given as dentition", that is to say teething ?  It has always seemed to me most improbable.  An article by Sally George in the April 2018 "Family Tree" has woken me to the truth.  To keep babies quiet, they were given preparations such as "Godfrey's Cordial" and "Collis Browne's chlorodyne", the former containing opium and treacle and the latter being a cocktail based on opium, cannabis and chloroform.  They would have died of opium poisoning!


Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 1st January 2018

Dear Readers,


Happy New Year!  2018, wow, only 4 more years to go until the 1921 census becomes available.  A more sober reflection is that I have no hope of doing anything about it except in relation to my own personal trees.  As to these, I intended to prioritise them over Whitehouse work this winter, but decided to delay doing so until later this year.


Records progress

It is good to report a new record and improvements to existing ones.  The new record is of doctors, nurses and midwives and is labelled "MEDICS".  There are 54 lines of entry, but fewer different individuals.  Several have had WFHC correspondent reference numbers added.  You can read more and access the file via MISC EXPLANATIONS.


The WFHC Apprentice records have had 26 additions, mainly from London and Bristol, courtesy of Dr. Chris Minns of the London School of Economics.


Much of my work these last 2 months has been devoted to improving the 1601-1730 part of the Lichfield Consistory Court wills.  In the course of this, three wrong entries in the Lichfield Record Office's grants calendar were discovered:  LFCX-01, -02 and -10, which have been removed, because the deceased is not a Whitehouse.  Wills and administrations of which I did not have copies have now been abstracted, so that indexing of this early period is now complete for this Court.  I plan to transcribe a couple of the documents, one a will and the other an administration; the Latin of the latter having defeated me, I am having it professionally translated.


While on the subject of Lichfield wills, I am still waiting for Findmypast to index the many wills and administrations of the Peculiar Courts.  I need this to check that I have not missed any when trawling the calendars on film, after which I intend to renumber.  Myko Clelland, Findmypast's "ambassador", has mentioned that FMP will aim to make a "spring splash" of new records, so I am hoping that they will appear then.  So far, all that I know is that they are not undergoing transcription, which, Myko says, indicates that either it has not started or is already complete and being checked.  I am not optimistic and there might come a point when I simply have to take a chance and hope that I have not missed one.  One problem is divergence between the calendar of all Lichfield Peculiar grants and the individual calendars of these Courts.  Thus, I found that the calendar for the Royal Peculiar Court of Bridgnorth, in Shropshire contained two items not in the all-Peculiars one, a most puzzling occurrence.  They were for a Rachaell Whitehouse in 1737 and a Jeremiah Whitehouse in 1743.  A kind member of the Lichfield Record Office staff found that there were no grant documents available.  I searched the parish registers for the two Bridgnorth parishes, hoping to find a burial, without success.


Since my last website update on 1st November, I have completed a task of great drudgery which brought no reward in terms of new results.  On the shelves of the Society of Genealogists in London are books of more than 100 Shropshire parish registers, nearly all of which are the Shropshire Parish Register Society's transcripts made than 70 years ago.  Their coverage of marriages was usually limited to pre-1812, but occasionally extended to pre-1838.  I completed reading the indexes to see whether I could extend my West Midlands & Shropshire pre-GRO marriage index, but found nothing new.


I mentioned two months ago, the surprise arrival on 27th October of some database material from someone who is not a registered correspondent.  Sadly, I simply do not have the time to do everything that I would like and I have yet to tackle this.  There are three other things that I would like to do to improve the records for archiving.  One is to extend the probate index from 1961 to 1970, because year by year searching in the official online index is laborious.  The other two are to improve my Scottish census records and to extract Scottish wills of Whitehouses.  Alas, these will remain pipe dreams unless I get offers of help.  The Scottish records will have to be paid for, but I am happy to finance that.


The trees

Turning now to the WFHC collection of Whitehouse trees, I had two trees which existed only as pdf files of the correspondent's own tree, namely 049 and 081.  The latter has been thoroughly revised, hugely expanded and put into my standard Excel format.  It took a long time, but in the course of this work, I linked in correspondent 230's tree, so Tree 081 now connects to 107, 230 and 285.  However, 081 is believed deceased, contact with him having been lost in 2000, 107 is neither e-mailable or telephonable, while 285 has not updated her e-mail address and if she cannot be bothered or is too disorganised to do that, why should I trouble to telephone her in a greatly different time zone ?  Maybe I shall relent in due course, but I hope that other readers of this newsletter will take note.  I do not mind simply checking that I have an e-mail entered correctly in my private register, so if you have not been in contact for some years and think that I might not have your latest address, do please ask.  Meanwhile, Tree 049 is receiving the same treatment, but I am only half way through that work.


The next items on my agenda are to improve and upload trees 041 to 050.  I have already done much of the research required and my in-tray is full of the printouts, heavily scrawled on.  After or during that process, tree 053 deserves my attention, because linked correspondent 563 has worked on it.  So, I have my hands full.


William Whitehouse's apprentice

When entering the new apprentice data mentioned above, I came across someone whose forename was Gamaliel, which I had never seen before.  According to "Wikipedia", it's a Hebrew name meaning "reward of God" and was the name of a Pharisee doctor of Jewish law.  Chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles refers to Gamaliel as a man held in great esteem by all Jews, who asked the council of  priests not to condemn the apostles to death.  He is also mentioned in Chapter 22 as the teacher of Paul.


I'm a vicar- could be slicker

When Matthew Dodd married Elinor Foster in the small parish of Melverley, Shropshire, on 17th December 1766, the parson went into verse:

"This morning I have put a Tye

No man could put in faster

Tween Matthew Dod, the man of God

And modest Nellie Foster".


Of course, the second line should have read something like "When banns had run their roster".


Best wishes to all,





Newsletter, 1st November 2017

Dear Readers,


Records progress

In the last four months some of the records already on the website have been improved:

- the marriage files have been improved by adding full details or, failing, that, the name of the man or woman who married a Whitehouse, in the whole of Leicestershire

- Irish marriage details have been extended, thanks to the Irish Government's digitisation work

- Australian births, deaths and marriages have been greatly improved and I thank Antoinette Betteridge for her contribution

- the Black Country Burials Index has been extended by adding burials at some of the Birmingham churches and I thank Brian Strehlke profusely for taking on this project and completing it splendidly.

- Staffordshire Recusants has been replaced by a new, larger file of Catholics: see separate section below


I have analysed the WFHC coverage of Whitehouse marriages (England & Wales) in the period 1837Q3 to 1911.  The number of such marriages with assigned husbands and wives has reached 8386, which is 94.5% of the 8876 listed.  To remind readers, an "f" in the column headed "Det" means that substantially full details are provided in the Marriage Details file under the same Universal Number (UN).  Full details mean what you get in a certificate except for the name of the officiating clergyman or registrar and whether or not the parties have signed their name.  There are now 7279 with full details, which is 82%.  Additionally, there are 26 with partial details and 7 with a small amount of detail.


The long-running project to scan my collection of wills proved and administrations granted (England & Wales) in church courts is still pending.  This is because the Lichfield Consistory Court ones have been filmed and digital images put on "Findmypast", which has caused me to make some alterations and re-number, but most particularly because they are supposed to be doing the same for the Peculiar Courts and I so am waiting for this, in case further amendment is required.  I doubt whether it is worth scanning in my collection of Lichfield wills when they are or will become available on line and when I do not have copies of all of them anyway.  However, I shall proceed with scanning for the other courts


Just a few days ago, on 27th October, I received from someone who gave no surname and is not a registered correspondent a big contribution of records not at present on my website.  These will need a bit of work doing on them and some might well need copyright clearance, but I hope that it will prove possible to upload them by the end of 2017.  Meanwhile, I have offered to register him, being the least that I could do in return for his generosity.  I shall apply the same reciprocity to other substantial contributors.


Progress with the tree archive

I have devoted a large part of October to updating trees from 030 to 040.  This has been no simple task, for many of them are very large and my progress has thus been slow.  The biggest job has been Tree 036, which has 12 correspondents attached to it, runs to 25 pages and contains 70 notes.  All the files up to 040 have been deglitched (I hope) and put into an improved standard format, a rather boring but necessary task.


The new GRO index

I have reported for investigation by the GRO some of the deaths shown in the new index with an age at death ranging from 1 to 22, as it is unclear whether this really means years or could be months, weeks, or even hours.  This is a serious worry for my Whitehouse deaths database, because there are so many that fall within this category.  As it stands at present, the database is in effect in two parts, one covering 1st July 1837 to 1865, with no ages at death given and the other 1866 to 1911.   If I entered some of the more reliable ages at death in the earlier section, endless confusion would ensue, as one would not know whether the others were accurate or not, nor could reliability be guaranteed.  There would also be a sorting problem.  So I have concluded that the best solution is to enter the ages for 1st July 1837 to 1865, taken from the new index, in a separate column.   That provides the opportunity to compare the WFHC index, which was compiled from the paper registers at St. Catherine's House, London many years ago, with the new GRO index.  While most of the work consists simply in adding the age at death, early signs are that the new index contains some entries not in the present WFHC index, which need investigation.  Differences in names between old and new indexes are likely to occur because the new indexing started from afresh, i.e. from the original copy registers which are used to make up the certificates that the GRO issues.

I have made a start, but need some help here, please.  This is an ideal project for home working.  All that is needed is Microsoft Excel, which is part of the Office suite, access to the internet and, preferably, a printer too.  Instructions and the file in which to insert ages at death and remarks will be supplied.   This would be particularly well suited to a careful worker, to whom I would allot, say, 5 years.

It is now possible to view the GRO's responses to one's own reports.  Where a correction is being made, it is to express the age in years.  The effect of this is in some cases to diminish useful information; for example, if someone is born in the second quarter of the year, their suspected death is in the first quarter of the following year, at the age of "9", it would have to be 9 months (if the suspected death is correct), but it would be corrected by the GRO to "0". 


I have written a short paper about my recent experiences with the new GRO index and this is accessible from the index (home) page of this website [No longer topical, so removed 26th April 2020]


Inheriting a surname: a game of chance ?

How likely is it that an English surname existing after the Black Death would have survived to the 1851 census ?  This was the question that Dr. John Plant and Prof. Richard Plant set out to answer in their article in Journal of One-Name Studies, October to December 2017 at pages 13 to 15.  They used a technique called Monte Carlo simulation, which was expounded in 1983 and states that a part of the population, here people having a given surname, will behave statistically the same way as the whole population.  They generated random numbers on a computer, each having digits of either zero or one, corresponding to a toss of a coin for a head or a tail.  For example, a sequence 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1  is equivalent to four heads and six tails.  They did this a million times, which on average gave 5.0008 ones (heads) in every 10.  Pausing here, it seems to me that a million tosses was not enough !  The question then becomes one of how many runs of ten straight heads (the same surname) occur in the million simulated tosses and the answer is 978, which, the authors say, is close to a theoretical figure of 977.


Having thus established in a simple way the validity of their computerised method, they apply this to the population figures for England, using 2.7 million as the base figure in 1371 and 15,288,885  in the 1851 census, and reckoning the number of generations between these dates, at 30 year intervals, as 16.   It turned out that the male line survived in 22.6 percent of the million simulations.  The question then devolves into how many people of a given surname are likely to have survived to 1851.  The median figure is 18, but the authors prefer to consider how many survivors there are in the first 95 percent of the total, which yields a range of 1 to 71.  In rare cases, it could be more than 71 and the authors found that their largest figure was 290.


Of course, this is a very rough method which makes many assumptions, not least that those having a particular surname form a large enough part of the population to make the Monte Carlo principle valid.  


Moreover, in 1851, as today, there were more females than males:  there were in Great Britain 10,386,048 males and 10,735,919 females, so the gender imbalance was observable then.  Even soldiers stationed abroad and not in the census would not account for such a large difference.  There are some possible genetic reasons for this.  According to my wife, who has a better knowledge of genetics than I do, there is a greater chance of a mutation in the X chromosome, which is much longer than the Y, leading to destruction of the embryo or higher infant mortality in the XY males.  In XX females, the second X chromosome might not carry the defective gene and if the mutated gene is recessive, the second X chromosome might be sufficient to provide a healthy female.  However, the situation has other complicating factors, with sperm carrying the Y chromosome, which is lighter, moving faster in conception, and with males being more likely to die through inherent aggression characteristics, e.g. they fought wars and died before marrying and conceiving. 


Then there is a doubt that the number of generations can properly be assumed to be calculable as the total years divided by 30.  A calculation from my own tree in the male line (not Whitehouse), working from a single male progenitor, within a 233 year period and extending over 9 generations gave it as 233/9 = 26.  The general problem is that over a much longer period than 233 years, generation intervals are skewed, with early mortality of males occurring at the ancient end and generations being incomplete at the modern end.  In my own tree, only 6 of the 9 generations were complete, meaning that there could be no more children from it (under normal circumstances).


So, while the research was interesting to read and think about, I question its practical applicability.


Big fee hike at the Society of Genealogists

The annual membership fee went up rather suddenly, on 19th September, and is now £80 for full membership and £56 for associate, online membership.  Associates can visit the library and pay half the normal visitor fees, which now stand at £5 for 2 hours, £10 for 4 hours and £18 for a full day.  This news came as a big shock to current members, who have been paying £54 for full membership, but the plan is to increase the fee for existing members gradually.  Strangely, perhaps, I welcome this news, because the Society has to pay its way far better than it has been doing and the increase injects some realism into the financial situation in which the Society is only just breaking even.  Perhaps it is worth reminding readers that the films of parish records etc. that used to be at the Family History Centre, located in The National Archives building at Kew, have moved to the Society of Genealogists and the catalogue for these is on the Family Search website.


Family Search

There has been a recent change to the census records available here, since the 1911 entries now have a transcript for every person in the household.  That is to be applauded, although the number of years married and the numbers of children born, alive and dead are not included in the transcript.


Vast new database of Catholics in England

A database of Catholics containing over 275,000 people was launched on 7th October as "The Margaret Higgins Index of Catholics in England and their friends 1607-1840".  It marks the 250th anniversary of the Returns of Papists, 1767.  This astonishing compilation is said to contain over half the Catholics in England in 1767, but these constitute only 15 percent of the names.  It takes the form of a disk, which can be bought for £7.50 plus £1.38 UK inland P & P, via the Catholic Family History Website through its Genfair portal.  It's simple to use and can be downloaded for personal use.  The database is available in three formats, all on the one disk - Access, Excel and Portable Document (pdf).  Most people will find it convenient to use the Excel version.


"Handles" (downward arrows) on the headings to the columns can be used to sort the data by surname, county, parish, year and so on.  This can be done on the disk itself or it can be downloaded into your own Excel program (2007 or later), which is part of the Microsoft Office Suite.  It requires about 20 MB of digital space.  Left clicking on the arrow brings up a sort menu.


The material collected covers a large range, baptisms, marriages, wills (including witnesses to all these, considered to be Catholics and their non-Catholic friends), confirmations, lists of recusants (who refused to conform to the established Anglican church), papists (Roman Catholics), and non-jurors (who refused to swear allegiance to the crown).  More detail is given on the disk in the section "THE VALUE and AN ANALYSIS of THE DATABASE".


There are 10,238 entries for Staffordshire, 8,219 for Warwickshire and 6,912 for Worcestershire, but only 22 Whitehouses, of which 8 were in my Staffordshire Recusants file.  Adding 2 from that file and one at the Lisbon College in Portugal makes 25 in all, no other counties being represented.  The information given occupies up to 14 columns in the Margaret Higgins Index.  It varies widely from some with no names but only parishes, some with no forename, but many with forenames, occupation, age and parish.  I have extracted the Whitehouses and put them into my Miscellaneous records as CATHOLICS 171015, accessible on this website through the MISC EXPLANATIONS file.  The Staffordshire Recusants file has been deleted.


Where's there's no will, there's still a way

A John Whitehouse of Owens River in New South Wales died in 1846, intestate, or so it was said by his neighbour, Joseph Nathan, who was a blacksmith.  Nathan wanted to be paid for rounding up and selling some of the deceased's cattle, about 30 of which had been running on his land.  John was presumably a convict who had been transported, as the court papers show that he had a wife (unnamed) and family in Staffordshire.  These papers show some confusing goings-on, in which another neighbour, William Clark, made an affidavit attaching a "paper writing" dated on the day of John Whitehouse's death said to be his will.  The will was allegedly read to John Whitehouse and his mark made in the presence of William Clark and none other than Joseph Nathan !   A fake will, not executed properly and probably not even written down ?  Probably, but it illustrates the point that as in England the court would make every effort to validate the wish of the deceased.  Incidentally, there was no death registered for this John Whitehouse.


A frustrating night in Nottingham

From diaries kept by Joseph Woolley, seen in the Nottingham Archives by Chris Webster (many thanks to her):

"October 3rd 1803

Charles Odget wanted to frig Thomas Handeys Whife but she would not let him and so he haunted about the house in his shirt till about till about four oclock the next morning with naught but is shirt and shoes on. the reason he was so bold is Whife staid all night at Nottingham Goose Fair so he could have is fling but he could not come on for she went and slept with Bradley and his wife."


Best wishes,  Keith



Newsletter, 30th June 2017

Dear Readers,


I had the files for the website already to upload on 30th June and then found that I could not connect with the Waitrose server.  I tried two different FTP clients and Windows.  None of these worked.  When I used exactly the same username and password to look at the Waitrose webmail site, I did get connected.  Today, 2nd July, I 'phoned the Technical Support line, who refreshed a component of the server.  That did the trick.  I won't say "Words fail me" because they haven't, but it was frustrating to have got everything ready on time, for once, and then be stymied by "technology".


Records progress

In the last half year I have made two major advances with my Whitehouse records.  The first is to create a "Black Country" burials index for 1813 to 1861 which covers a very large area of South Staffordshire and North Worcestershire.  This has involved a lot of work, especially as some church records have had to be trawled, there being no printed or online index.  It involved a spectacular trip to the West Midlands in which I visited four archives in a day.  The project has been driven by the unreliability of the new GRO index of deaths, as mentioned below.


The second advance is not yet visible on the website.  It is to scan my entire Whitehouse wills and administrations collection in diocesan archives around the country.  This is no easy task as the individual pages of a will have often been copied onto different sizes of paper.  It has been a necessary preliminary step to copy all the pages of many of the documents to A3 or A4 paper and try to reduce the number of pages as far as possible.  This step is nearly complete, but a few wills will have to be transcribed for various reasons and this is time-consuming.  Another difficulty will be creating a new website in which to house them, as the present one is running out of digital space.


A minor record created this quarter is the abstracting of the early memoranda books of the branch managers of Lloyds Bank in three towns in the West Midlands, a project sparked by a lecture to the London branch of the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry.


There have been some improvements to the Australian births index, thanks to the work of Antoinette Betteridge, but little else in the WFHC website has changed.


In view of the above, it should come as no surprise to readers that I have made no progress in archiving trees, including those on which others have worked before Christmas.  This is a matter of huge regret, and I hope to make some progress in the autumn, ready for a website update in six months' time.


A change of objective

I wrote in January that I intended to update my births and deaths indexes using the new General Register Office one, primarily to extend coverage of the mother's maiden surname at birth and ages at death.  I have changed my mind, having discovered how unreliable are the new indexes.  Any ages at death under 24 cannot be relied on, as the new index does not say whether the figure given refers to years, months or days.  This error appears to be a piece of wonderful stupidity that applies throughout.  It has spurred me to improve my index of Whitehouse burials in the West Midlands (see above).


As to the mother's maiden surname, this is usually right, but "usually" is not good enough;  the problem is that one can make a search using the married surname and the maiden surname and fail to find a birth.  I finally reached the nadir of exasperation on discovering that "Snape" had been transcribed as "Sncap".  At least this was an obvious error, but "Butter" for "Butler" is not.  One of the things that I do when confronted by an unusual name is to put it into "FreeBMD" with no date restriction to see what it produces.  If then I cannot find a single instance of the name or maybe only one or two, I begin to think that it must be wrong.


The London Family History Centre

Drastic things have been happening here.  Many readers will know that the LFHC is housed in The National Archives building at Kew in West London and this arrangement will continue until at least March 2019.  However, the Latter Day Saints have handed over their entire stock of 60,000 microfilms to the Society of Genealogists.  It's a resource that has been massively underused.  The LDS is in the midst of a project to digitise all its microfilm records and, of course, many are available on subscription websites.  The difficulty is that the project has not been completed and it will still be necessary to consult the microfilms for some while.  Indeed, some who wish to trawl a parish register will find a microfilm quicker and easier.  Curiously, it will remain possible until 31st August next to order a film from Salt Lake City and it will thereafter be available to read at the LFHC.  Apart from that, however, the LFHC will be merely somewhere to go to use computers for free access to the LDS' digitised records and subscription websites.  Meanwhile, the Society of Genealogists is now far better equipped with film readers, also donated by the LFHC.  As a member of the SoG that suits me just fine, but others will have to pay the SoG's search fees.  The SoG has been losing money, but in the last financial year managed to make a small profit, largely by closing on Fridays and cutting staff.


Reactions to the introduction of civil registration in England & Wales from 1st July 1837

The Society of Genealogists' quarterly journal has become more interesting lately and I was much impressed by a paper on this subject.  The amount of controversy is truly amazing to us today.  One early feature was that very few civil marriages were taking place.  In the first complete year, out of 111,481 marriages registered in England and Wales, 2,976 took place in non-Anglican places of worship and 1,093 in registrars' offices.


Jersey wills

According to an advertising feature in the January 2017 "Family Tree" magazine, the Jersey Archive has recently finished a digitisation project for all the wills and testaments of moveable property between 1770 and 1949.  I learned that up to the 19th century these documents nearly always record the father of the testator and the "parish of origin", though whether this means the origin of the testator or his father was not made clear.  Also, women who are married or widowed are generally recorded by their maiden name.  A search under the Whitehouse surname (which is free) brought forth the following:

1.  Will and testament of Mary Lavinia WHITEHOUSE widow of Thomas BOWEN of West Winds, Portelet Road, St Brelade dated 10th December 1945.  Ref. D/Y/B1/19/35 14th May 1953; and

2.  Grant of probate of Harold William WHITEHOUSE of 47 Cranleigh Road, Worthing, West Sussex dated 19th December 1974.  Ref. D/Y/B1/215/37 19th December 1974.


To access the documents, you have to subscribe at £35 per year or pay a fee to see an individual record.  The amount of the fee is unstated until you have completed the order form, which is rather annoying. 


Investigation of the first entry showed that Mary Lavinia WHITEHOUSE married Thomas BOWEN on 10th April 1900 at Bobbington Holy Cross church in Staffordshire.  The marriage is referenced to Whitehouse correspondents 262 and 294.  Re item 2, "Family Search" says that Harold William WHITEHOUSE was born on 1st June 1914 and died in 1974 at Worthing.  Letters of Administration were granted in England, giving a date of death of 10th September 1974.  Harold had a brother, Walter C WHITEHOUSE, born in 1917.  In both instances, their mother's maiden name was AYLING.  Unfortunately, a search of WHITEHOUSE-AYLING marriages England & Wales was negative. so perhaps the mother had married previously, they married elsewhere or the couple were unmarried.  How a 1974 probate qualifies for inclusion in a database in which the most modern year is supposed to be 1949 is unclear: perhaps the project has been extended.


The last word in passwords ?

I changed my energy supplier in March, saving myself hundreds of pounds.   Despite having set a password for the new energy firm, I forgot that I had done so and requested a new one.  Back it came:  mrpCD%Dg;6a/q.  You'll not be surprised to learn that I have changed it.


They served horsemeat ?

A Whitehouse buried at Kinver St Peter is entered with the address "Stewponey".  It turns out that this was an inn at Stourton in Kinver parish.


I hope you that all of you in the Northern Hemisphere enjoy at least the same good weather as here in the South of England currently.  As for those of you who live in Australia, commiserations (but not many) on being knocked out of the ICC Champions Trophy cricket and for those of you who live in New Zealand, all the best for the last Rugby test match and do try to finish with 15 players on the pitch.



Newsletter, 1st January 2017

Dear Readers,


It's a game-changer

The new GRO births and deaths indexes have caused me to undertake a massive re-think of my priorities.  If you are unfamiliar with them, please refer to the article that I have prepared and which is linked to the index page of this website.  As a result, I have come to the following decisions:

1.   Much more can now be done to update trees, but to do so is even more time-consuming than before.  I shall abandon this process, except for those trees on which work is in progress or which have been sent to me by the relevant correspondent or my kind helpers.

2.   I shall archive my stock of other trees in their existing state of research.  If I receive any updated versions from correspondents, I will review them and, after any necessary amendment, archive those instead.

3.   In the archiving project, I shall have to put all the trees into a uniform format and, as there are 276 trees, this will take quite a long time.

4.   This website is hosted by John Lewis Broadband, but their free digital space allowance of 100 MB will soon become too small and, as they will not increase it, I shall have to buy website hosting or resort to cloud storage, in order to place the all the archived trees on it.

5.   I shall start improving the WFHC births and deaths indexes, using the new GRO indexes.

6.   I shall not answer any enquiries from the general public, only from existing registered correspondents and members of the Guild of One-Name Studies.


These decisions mean, sadly, that some of my census files, particularly those for 1881 and 1911 will not be as fully referenced with correspondent numbers as I had hoped.  Also, more of my errors will go undetected.  However, it is better to leave a legacy of something less than perfect than nothing at all.



In the last half year, I have been working on my own trees and so have not devoted much time to Whitehouses.  That stated, I have been searching the records of the Royal Mail Archives, taking the opportunity to do so before they closed in November for about 6 months.  The modest results of my labours can be accessed via MISC EXPLANATIONS.  I have also spent many hours updating trees 026, 030, 031 (not quite finished yet) and 034, using the new GRO indexes.


I have been assisted in updating other trees by Brian Strehlke, Adrian Loker, Roberta Ashworth and Robert Whitehouse, whom I thank wholeheartedly and assure that their work will be used.


Updating your tree

In the last 5 years or so, enhancements in my own website and the publicly available databases have made most trees capable of improvement.  A lot more can be done by using the free website www.freebmd.org.uk, particularly to find deaths in England & Wales.  When a likely death has been found, the government’s free website https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills can be used to find a will (plus of course my own index on the website for Whitehouses up to 1960).   Wills and administrations give a date and place of death.  The Latter Day Saints' website https://familysearch.org/search is also very helpful, especially for deaths and census returns.


Still further and very importantly, the 1939 Register can be searched on the Findmypast website at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/1939register.  While the last-mentioned gives only limited information free, the full information, which you will need, can be found in a public library which has a subscription to Findmypast.   Alternatively, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial and thus access it from home.   Before doing so, print out my paper on the subject of the 1939 Register, which you will find on my website, and digest its contents.  When revising the tree, you can either attempt to use Excel or just make a list of all the items and I will insert them.  The 1939 Register is not available on Ancestry or any other genealogical services provider.


The new GRO births and deaths indexes make it possible to do a very thorough job.  You can read more about it in an article linked to the index (home) page of this website.


Some correspondents only half understand my 1902 limitation, despite my trying to make it clear. The 1902 limitation is that if the first-born child of a set of siblings, that is to say brothers and sisters, is born before 1902, all these siblings are to be included in my tree.   For example, if the six children of the marriage of John Whitehouse to Mary Smith were born between 1893 and 1907, all those 6 children are to appear on the tree, along with their birth, death and marriage.  In this example, the 1902 limitation does not apply because the first child of the set of siblings was born before 1902.   If the child born in 1907 lives to be 100, his death in 2007 qualifies to be recorded on the tree, along with any marriage.  If that child born in 1907 marries or has a partner and they have a child or children, those children will not appear on the tree by name: the tree will either say “Issue” or have an arrow to the correspondent’s reference number. 


A bad morning at the office

For my Butler family tree, I wanted the details of a marriage in 1904 at Blackheath St Paul in the West Midlands.  That should be straightforward, as the film was at the London Family History Centre which is located in The National Archives building at Kew.  When I came to look up the entry, which I knew was No. 103 in the Register (thanks to the West Midlands BMD website), I found that the Latter Day Saints had omitted to film the page containing it.


While I was there, I tried to locate the marriage of Jane Whitehouse to Frederick Baker, to add to my Marriage Details file.  It was registered in the tiny registration district of Hambledon and I worked out that it might well have taken place in the village of Chiddingfold, Surrey.  That would be a very romantic spot, where the Crown Inn, steeped in history, overlooks the village green.  Well, the film was available and I looked up the marriage, only to find that the bride was unmistakeably a Whitehorne.


A happy new year to you all,



Newsletter, 8th July 2016

Dear Readers,


Progress report

There's little to report this quarter.  This is mainly because I have been busy with my own genealogy.   My Whitehouse family history (tree 251 365) has been improved in small respects every month and is still not yet declared "finished", but the end is in sight.  I have also been working on my maternal trees which include Butler and Cutts, in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.  I expect to be occupied with personal trees for at least the next two and a half years.  I am sure that you will understand that after having devoted over 30 years to helping people with their Whitehouse genealogies, I have to turn most of my attention to my own lines.  The great mistake that some make is to put off writing up their family history until they have completed their research.  The trouble is that such a time never comes - there is always more that can be done.


Nevertheless, I have carried out a small amount of Whitehouse work, some of it largely "invisible" when mistakes are corrected, referencing of the databases to WFHC correspondent numbers is improved and a few more marriage details are added.  I have been assisted once again by Brian Strehlke who has made vast improvements to Tree 032 and to whom I am deeply grateful.  I lost contact with correspondent 032 over 15 years ago.  As soon as I can find time, I shall put this tree into the required format, reference databases to the new parts and uplift it to the tree archive on the website.  Meanwhile, I have been working on 030 etc. and 035 456 and the same goes for them.


Help wanted

Apart from Brian's contribution, there has been no response to the request in the April newsletter for help in updating the trees in my collection.  That's disheartening, considering that help with just one tree would be a useful contribution.


All that is required is to update a tree not yet in my website archive using "Family Search", "FreeBMD", "Ancestry" etc. and preferably also "Findmypast" for the 1939 Register.  "Ancestry" is widely available in very many public libraries and Findmypast in a few.  I write my trees in "Excel", which requires little skill and any deviations from my desired format will be put right by me.


DNA testing

Correspondent 013, David White, would like to be put in touch with any Whitehouses who have had their DNA analysed.  He has authorised me to publish his e-address, which is drwhite at harper-adams dot ac dot uk (put into the usual form, of course).


1866 and all that

There's no fool like an old fool, the saying goes, and this quarter I fell into the 1866 trap.  I sought a birth registration for Clara Jane Ward in Nottingham and couldn't find it immediately.  That's because second forenames were not entered in the GRO index in that year:  I should have tried Clara J Ward.


I'm sure they married, but the GRO index page numbers don't match...

This can happen, either through clerical error or an undetected typing error.  Typed registers were prepared from manuscript and the manuscript ones thrown away.  A bizarre example of a double typing error came to light in May.  Edwin Joseph Birkett (GRO index page 921) married Kate Elizabeth Lees (GRO index page 931) on 18th April 1927 at Nottingham St Peter, entry 404 in the church register.  Llewellyn Thomas Ivor Prosser (GRO index page 932) married Lily Boardman (GRO index page 922), entry 407 in the same church register.  The two marriages must have consecutive GRO page numbers, so either 921 and 922 or 931 and 932 are correct.


A sad story of self-recycling

From the Leicester Chronicle, 3rd October 1829.  An inquest was taken before Charles Meredith Esq., coroner at The Black Horse Inn, Loughborough, on the body of Daniel Kirk, gardener, aged 55, who late on Saturday night, missed his way and, making a wrong turn, got into a manure hole, where he was found suffocated on Sunday morning.  Verdict: accidental death.

Best wishes to all my readers,



Newsletter, 2nd April 2016

Dear Readers,


It's a beautiful Saturday morning and I must get out into the garden.  Just lately, it has been too wet to do anything useful, but this afternoon looks promising.  Anyhow, I shall start the website update and hope to finish it later in the day.


Help wanted

This is an appeal for help of a different kind than in the past.  I have got to the stage where updating and improving my existing stock of trees is far more important than creating new databases and want help with this.  Working on such trees is far more intellectually interesting than extracting, say, census records.  Even apparently mundane trees have their points of interest, as I reflected while working on Tree 035 456.  There's the family of 9 daughters, 8 of whom survived to adulthood and married; there were no sons that could be found.  Two of these surviving daughters were Eliza and Elizabeth, an occurrence which has been noticed occasionally in other Whitehouse trees.  Elizabeth reduced her age by 3 years, from 23 to 20 when marrying, apparently so as not to appear older than her 20-year old husband.  Then there was the sad case of Emma Love, a widow, who married William Whitehouse, a blacksmith and a widower.  William died soon afterwards aged only about 40, rapidly followed by Emma marrying for a third time.


Volunteers need access to at least "Ancestry" and preferably also "Findmypast" for the 1939 Register.  These databases are often available in public libraries.  Just working on one tree would be a very useful contribution and there would be no time pressure.



As a result of a generous donation, I plan to have all my collection of photocopies of pre-1858 English & Welsh provincial wills and administrations (more than 250) scanned.  This is not a simple task, as many are on A3 size paper and some partly on A3 and partly on A4:  they will all have to be examined and the pages referenced to avoid muddle.


This leads me on to say that donations of money are never solicited by me, but, if offered, are very kindly received and never refused.  It remains a point of pride that my records are available to download free of charge and I make no charge for any of the work that I do in helping people with their Whitehouse trees.


Quarterly report

My own massive Whitehouse tree, 251 365, runs to 30 pages of chart and 25 of notes.  It has rumbled on this quarter, as I have made more improvements to the Nottingham lace-making branch.  It is still likely to undergo a few modifications of detail in the coming weeks, before I put it on the website.


Another, less massive, but still substantial, tree is 028 etc. which has its roots in the prosperous farmers of Bickenhill, Warwickshire, a village to the south of Birmingham.  I worked for many days on improving this and am putting it on the website.


Two other Whitehouse matters have occupied my time.  One has been getting to grips with the 1939 Register, which has resulted in my producing an article for the website.  It can be accessed from the index (home) page.  The other was adding 18 marriages from Kent and Lancashire to my marriage details file.


I have taken on one new correspondent, ref. 574.  His tree brought a couple of surprises, when I investigated it, following some helpful groundwork done by WFHC correspondent Brian Strehlke.  The first was that by using my will indexes, I managed to take the tree back two more generations, to a marriage in 1766.  The other was that when investigating the modern end, I found a collateral line to Sir Harold Beckwith Whitehouse (1882 to 1943), who has a string of initials after his name and was a famous professor of obstetrics and gynaecology.


Having just about got to the end of my Whitehouse tree, which is in my grandfather's mother's line, I have turned to two all-maternal lines on which I have been collaborating with a cousin over many years.  They are for Butler and Cutts in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.  Having worked on them for 7 weeks, I am just about half way, I reckon.  This work will continue through the summer months, so progress with Whitehouse trees will be limited. 


A new series of trees ?

I have created the first of what might turn out to be a new series of Whitehouse trees, beginning with number 901.  This development came about through a marriage in my own tree:  Selina Walker, a Whitehouse descendant in this tree, married an apparently unrelated Thomas Whitehouse.  After some difficulties, I traced him back to his roots in Birmingham, in particular to the marriage of James Whitehouse to Ann Kinchen on 30th September 1828 at Birmingham St Martin, just to check whether he belonged in someone else's tree in my collection.  Having found that he did not,  I wanted to preserve the fruits of my labour in case they might be useful one day.  However, there was no correspondent to whom the tree could be attached.   Thomas and Selina had no children, but there might have been cousins from a collateral line.  So, I created the tree anyway and referenced it "901" in my databases.  I shall apply similar treatment to any other potentially useful trees that I create as by-products.


Mining the language of mining

I have often wondered why in censuses some coal miners are described as colliers and others not.  The matter came to a head while I was looking at the details of the marriage of John Chambers to Ann Butler at Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, parish church in 1852.  John was described as a collier, his father as a miner, but Ann's father was a collier.  According to the glossary in "My Ancestor was a coal miner" by David Tonks, pub. Society of Genealogists Enterprises Limited, 2nd ed. 2010, a collier was "the skilled man who worked at the coal face and actually got the coal".  The subsidiary question then arises as to the difference between a "coal miner (hewer)" and a collier: as far as I can see, there is none, since to hew means to hack away at the face of the coal. 


I did wonder whether a collier might be synonymous with a butty.  The same glossary calls a butty a sub-contractor, but, pertinently for much Whitehouse genealogy, also defines a charter master as the Staffordshire name for a big butty, who was a superior workman who leased a pit, was paid by the ton, provided capital, paid the men and effectively managed the works.


Sadly, even the extensive glossary did not define "dataller", but an online source, "Dictionary of Old Occupations" by Jane & Paul Jack Hewitt, pub. as an e-book, 2011, defines it thus " Alternate spelling of Daytaleman, a casual worker employed on a day rate with no job security. For example, a man employed at a coal mine on this basis to construct and maintain mining roadways."  As to "collier", the same source says "a broad term encompassing many jobs working in coal mines or in transporting coal", which is rather different !


By the way, in case any reader is thinking of buying this book by David Tonks, the "meat" of it is a mere 84 pages, plus the 14 page glossary of terms, the remainder of its numbered 187 pages being devoted to bibliography and an index.  Included in the bibliography is a list of holdings of record offices, from which I note that the Staffordshire Record Office holds records of the North Staffordshire, South Staffordshire and Cannock coalfields and that Staffordshire University holds "journals, maps, surveys, books and NCB records" in its Thompson Library in Stoke-on-Trent.


Bigamy exposed

From the Strelley, Nottinghamshire, Parish Register, Baptism, Entry No. 465, 14th December 1851:

"Betsy daughter of John & Eliza Smith*, Strelley, Labourer

* This man was guilty of bigamy in marrying Eliza Sisson"


The joker in the census ?  Well, no, actually

While working on my Butler tree, I came across a Charles Stennett, shown in the 1901 census as a butcher, born in Swinehead, Nottinghamshire.  Very funny, but where was he really born ?  It turned out to be in Swineshead, Lincolnshire, a village of which I had not heard.


Best wishes to all my readers,




Newsletter, 2nd January 2016, revised 11th January 2016

Dear Readers,

I hope that you all keep well and have happy hunting on the genealogical trail in 2016.  It's six months since I updated this website.  Over the next few days, I shall be updating it again.  Another update has been scheduled for early April.


Progress report

You will not see a great deal of change in the website, as I have devoted most of my available time to my own Whitehouse tree, which is 251 365.  This is currently being reviewed for errors by WFHC correspondent Brian Strehlke, who was kind enough to do a good deal of work on the United States branches.  It has also yet to be reviewed by my 5th cousin, who has the custody of her father's diary type memoirs, entitled "Warps 'n All".  He was one of the last of the Nottingham lace makers, an industry that began there in about 1760 and continued into the mid-20th century.  Fortunately, there is an excellent book on Nottingham lace, written by Sheila Mason, first published in 1994 and still available as the revised 2010 edition from the Cluny Lace Co. Ltd, Belper Street, Ilkeston, Derbyshire DE7 5FJ (hardback, 381 pages, £25 plus p & p).


Also in this  half year, I took pity on a couple of hopeful enquirers and registered them under refs. 572 and 573.  The latter's tree fitted nicely into an existing tree 387 431, which I corrected and upgraded at the same time as expanding the tree to include 573's branch.  This took a surprisingly long time, but had spin-offs in enabling me to correct an error in one of my databases and an incorrect assumption in another tree.  Her branch also had the interesting feature of an apparent double bigamy, in which husband and wife both re-married while the other was alive.  Both second marriages might have been valid, since by the mid-19th century, the courts had developed a doctrine that if a spouse had not been heard of for seven years, it could be presumed that he or she had died.  What happens if the lost spouse turns up after the re-marriage creates an interesting situation in which the re-marriage becomes legally void, but that aspect was not relevant here, so far as is known.


Further work was done, mainly by Brian Strehlke, on the tree of New York notables (010 260), so many thanks to him, once again.


A start has been made on extending my coverage of Whitehouses in the England & Wales Principal Probate Registry index beyond 1960.   For those unaware, there is now a free online official index, but its search facilities are very limited, as from 1858 to 1995 one can enter only a surname and a year: see https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills.  This index merely brings up one by one the pages of the probate that include the surname entered.  The WFHC probate database matches wills and administrations in the official index to the General Register Office death indexes, records an age at death and then calculates the year of birth.  This enables much more rapid and focused searching.


A little more was done on the grindingly slow transcription of Whitehouse names in the Birmingham parish rate books, concentrating largely on the gun quarter which is St Mary's district.


Closed to the general public, but...

I remain closed for most enquiries from the general public, but I shall continue to make exceptions from time to time, depending very much on the apparent quality and usefulness of the information provided.  I just want to expand a bit on that theme.  Please, if you want me to look at your tree, provide me with ALL the information that you have, including accurate dates and places.  By that I mean, day, month and year dates, the town of birth and death and the town and church or other place of marriage.  Include anything known about collaterals, that is to say the brothers and sisters of anyone born with the name of Whitehouse and generations descending from them.  Indicate where you fit into the tree provided.  Remember my two main rules:  I do not need descents from female lines nor do I want details of any generation of brothers and sisters that does not begin until 1902 or later.  (If, exceptionally, I do want to break these rules, I'll let you know).


Whether I "admit" a new enquirer to registration often depends on my assessment of what benefit he or she will bring to my databases.  One obvious example is a specific offer of help and its subsequent fulfilment.  New data that will improve an existing tree to a substantial extent, is another.  An unusual genealogical feature is a third.  In the end, it's all down to my discretion. 


One thing that annoys me is that I decide to register someone, go through their tree, ask for missing information that their data implies that they ought to possess, for example details in a birth or marriage certificate, but this is followed by silence on that person's part for weeks, even months, on end.  I make an exception for them and then they are too busy or disorganised to reply, they need to visit an aunt who is on holiday, their genealogy is stored in someone else's loft and so forth.  The reason for my annoyance is that I have familiarised myself with their tree and if they do not reply quickly, I have forgotten about it and later have to work through it again to refresh my memory, which consumes precious time that I have given up to help them and others.  So, please, get organised:  assemble your information first, before you approach me.  I hope that readers will forgive these somewhat stern words and be assured that I do adopt a friendly approach.


The 1939 Register

Now for the main topic of this newsletter: the 1939 register.  Very shortly after Great Britain declared war on Germany, The National Registration Act was passed, forms were filled in during the week ending 29th September 1939 and a register compiled, to prepare for wartime.


This 1939 register for England & Wales has recently become available on “Findmypast”.  Unfortunately, it does not come as part of a subscription, but has to be paid for separately with credits.  The cost of these is considerable, working out at £6.95 for single household, £24.95 for 5 households, and £54.95 for 15 households.  The only concession to Findmypast subscribers is a 25 percent discount on the 15-household rate.  The good news, however, is that the register can be accessed free at The National Archives, Kew.  Images cannot be downloaded there, but they can be printed out.


The information given normally consists of the first forename, middle initials (but sometimes a full second forename), surname, address, schedule number within each household, gender, exact date of birth (day, month and year), marital status and occupation of all those living at about 29th September 1939 who were not on duty in the armed forces.  The places of birth and relationships are not given.  Occupations are frequently recorded in meticulous detail, in case they could be useful in a military emergency.  A simple example is "Vertical borer Heavy lifter."


The register formed the basis for issuing identity cards (up to 1952) and was used by the National Health Service until 1991 and updated if required, for example if a woman on the 1939 register married subsequently, her married name is recorded.  Unlike census returns, it does not show relationships.  A detailed article has been published in “Family Tree”, Christmas 2015 at pages 23 to 25 and Myko Clelland of Findmypast has been giving talks to various family history societies. 


The register is heavily redacted with black fills reading “This record is officially closed”.  The policy is not to reveal the names of anyone born later than 100 years ago from today and who is still alive.  Findmypast started with 41 million records, all blacked out, lifted those who were dead before the paper register closed in 1991 and added those who could be identified from death registers as dead.  This was possible because the 1939 register gives a day, month and year date of birth and the death registers also do this from the second quarter of 1969 onwards.  Those who died before the paper register closed will normally have their deaths recorded in the register, as a result of updating by the NHS.  Gradually, in weekly stages,  Findmypast have been lifting the blackout, so that as of early January 2016 there are 30 million records available.


There is a general difference between the 1939 register and censuses, in that the register is a moving record, not a snapshot in time.  It has moved in two different ways.  Firstly, although it started off as a snapshot as of 29th September 1939, it was updated by the NHS when someone changed their name, usually through marriage, or died, until 1991.  Secondly, Findmypast are moving the records by their weekly updates, which are presumably intended to continue until 30th September 2039 when everyone on it will be over 100 years old.   It should be explained that a register was maintained after 1991, but has been digitised and is not available to the public.


Registration was also carried out in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but have not been extracted by Findmypast.  To access a Scottish household, there is an official fee of £15 for a manual search, by address.   In Northern Ireland, a Freedom of Information request is necessary and currently (January 2016) there is a long delay, of about 12 weeks.


Some people will not be found in the place expected, because of operation "Pied Piper" in which over 3½ million people were displaced within the first three days of war.  Mostly, they were displaced within the United Kingdom, but some, nearly all children, were evacuated overseas.  While these were official evacuations, it is not known how many people moved privately.


Those who were on active service in the armed forces and either overseas or stationed in their property military residences, i.e. barracks, ships, airfields and so on are not shown, but if at home on leave might be.  For example, William G N Cutts' entry gives his occupation as "F Lieut 40 Group RAF Abing...".  (The last few characters of "Abingdon" were not filmable owing to the binding of the register, a frequent occurrence.  The entry is struck through by a red line, indicating that he died before the paper register closed in 1991.  Sure enough, his death is registered in 1980 in Bakewell Registration District, the GRO death index giving the same date of birth as in the 1939 Register.)


Reverting to the updating of the register, one can sometimes see a date placed against the changed record.  One such example reads: "Ellen Butler ECIA 25.11.68 NN BALES".  It appears that after the death of her husband, she re-married to a Mr Bales, apparently at around 25th November 1968.  However, the date must be merely that on which her new name ("NN") was reported to the NHS.  In fact she re-married in 1960.  Fortunately, a wide enough search was done to capture this event in the GRO marriage index.  The significance of "ECIA" is not known to me, but one might guess that it denotes something like "Evidence (of) Change In Address".


Unlike the 1911 census, normally completed by the head of household in his own hand, the 1939 register entries were written by the enumerator, a potential source of copying error.  Usually, because of difficulties in reading the enumerator's script, mistranscriptions are evident, as in censuses.  For instance, a search in the surname Whitehorse, with no variations allowed, gave 13 entries, yet this surname does not exist in England & Wales, nor does Whitehonse, which yielded a single household with 3 entries for it.  One can search with or without surname variations:  Whitehouse gave 21999 entries with variants allowed and 10847 without, probably rather an extreme example.  The apparently low latter figure, compared with what would emerge from a census, is doubtless accounted for by the redactions of children and others still alive and less than 100 years old.


Findmypast claim 98.5%, percent accuracy in transcribing readable entries.  I do not know what constitutes a readable entry.  I did find a clear mistranscription of the surname Merritt as Mettitt, even though the crossing of the final two letters did not extend backwards and the two letters "r" were very legible.  This discovery was made by a search that omitted forenames and merely specified the forename Alexander and, as another member of the household, Kate (his wife).   That leads me on to say that it is also possible to search without any names of people at all, for example with just a street name, and that with a very frequent name, such as John Smith, a search by exact date of birth can be rewarding.


After understanding the immense scale of the transcription operation conducted by Findmypast over 2 years, and the ongoing lifting of the redactions, my initial criticism of the high charges for access has abated considerably.


I have been using the 1939 register for my own tree, reasonably successfully.  Of course, the implications for the whole WFHC tree collection are very substantial.  As a practical matter, it will be impossible for me to update most of the trees.  Rather, I shall have to leave it to individual correspondents to do so and let me know of the changes needed.  If anyone with access to The National Archives is willing to help, any offer would be extremely gratefully received.


The curious affair of "Bert"

The early records of Herbert Whitehouse in my tree are a curious affair.  His birth was never registered under the name Herbert.  He was baptised in October 1848 at the same time as his younger brother Francis. Whereas, in accordance with the family's normal practice, a date of birth was given for Francis, Herbert's date of birth was not given.  The 1851 census records him as Herbert, aged 5, i.e. born in 1845-46 and the 1861 census gives his age correspondingly as 15. 


However, the birth of an Albert Whitehouse was registered in the 4th quarter of 1845 and he was baptised on 12th November 1845.  In the 4th quarter of 1847, the twin younger brothers of Herbert, namely Francis and Albert Tantam Whitehouse had their births registered.  Albert Tantam Whitehouse was buried in June 1848, aged 7 months, without being baptised.  That meant that there were two brothers, both named Albert, alive from late 1847 to June 1848, but no evidence, other than censuses, of Herbert's birth in 1845-46. 


A plausible explanation is as follows.  The older Albert was probably known as "Bert" and the parents failed to recall that he had been registered and baptised as Albert, rather than Herbert.  Shortly after the death of Albert Tantam Whitehouse in June 1848, the mistake came to light, so when the surviving twin Francis was baptised in October 1848, it was expedient to have the first Albert re-baptised as Herbert.  Not giving his date of birth helped to cover up the mistake.


Archiving nightmare

In the 1990s, the University of Leicester made available online a collection of directories covering England & Wales from the 1760s to 1910s.  The collection is not comprehensive, merely a sample.  It is still available, at http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/ . Searching it by surname is a tricky business, but do-able.  A note at the bottom of the opening page is rather worrying from an archival viewpoint.  It reads:

"These pages replace the Historical Directories website, withdrawn in March 2014. The site ran for ten years but could no longer be maintained due to hardware and software obsolescence."


A note of high regard

I'll end with a small gem from my own tree:  on the 1865 New York census, Frederick Walter Whitehouse was enumerated as "Abraham Lincoln Whitehouse".  The President had died only two months earlier.


Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 12th July 2015

Hi Everyone,


I often wonder how many people "everyone" really is.  In the last issue (January), I inserted a hidden request for readers to let me know if they had read it.  There were just two responses.  I shall persevere for the present, particularly since I shall probably update the website less frequently than every quarter and newsletters issue only on update days. The next update and newsletter are planned for the end of the year.


Marriage details for South Yorkshire

I have continued this exercise, reported in the last newsletter, and have now extracted all the Whitehouse marriage details from Anglican


The archives at both places are in a poor way.  Sheffield archives have small premises and are open for only three days per week.  However, they are well located, being only 4 minutes' walk from the station.  Doncaster archives are open Monday to Friday, but close between 12.45 and 2 p.m., not helpful for someone like me visiting from afar.  They are housed in an old, decaying school building down a side street, a couple of miles or so out of town.  There is one small public search room and even microfiche have to be ordered up from their staff room.  However, they do have a lot of records indexed.  Both places have very helpful staff. 


I didn't have to visit the Rotherham archives, as Angela Kendrick, a WFHC correspondent, very kindly paid a visit to settle a query.  Another that I avoided was the West Yorkshire premises at Wakefield, as they have teamed up with "Ancestry" to put their parish records on-line, with digital images provided.



All this has resulted in a paper entitled "Marriage Mining in South Yorkshire", which is a companion to "Marriage Mining in the West Midlands" and which I have put on this website, accessible via a link on the opening page.  I offered the paper to Sheffield Family History Society for their journal, but have heard nothing other than an acknowledgement.


Darlaston All Saints marriages

As reported in detail in the WFHC newsletter of 2nd October 2012, the older marriage registers for this church, which go back to 1872, were stored in the church and destroyed when it was bombed in the second world war.  The duplicate register is with the Walsall Register Office, the annoying superintendent of which declined to make a copy of these registers to send to the Staffordshire Record Office, where they could be viewed by the public.  I have obtained copy marriage certificates for the ten Whitehouse marriages in the years from July 1837 up to 1911 missing from my Marriage Details file, at a cost of £92.50, in order to complete my West Midlands records, which now cover all Anglican churches in Staffordshire, as well as Warwickshire and Worcestershire.


Cheaper certificates ? Don't hold your breath !

The Deregulation Act 2015 became law on 26th March 2015.  Many genealogists must be hoping that this will enable cheaper copies or even digital images to be obtainable, at least for the older records of births, marriages and deaths.


Section 98, Subsection (2) inserts a new provision after section 34 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 that allows the Minister to make regulations that will enable the Registrar General to carry out searches on behalf of customers in order to locate an entry within the records, or to provide information from a birth or death entry in different ways, not just in the form of a certificate. It also allows regulations to be made that specify a fee for, and define how the customer may request, a search or product and what form of product is to be offered.


Section 99, Subsection (1) amends the Marriage Act 1949 by inserting a new provision after section 65, of similar effect.  There are also provisions relating to Civil Partnership records.


These Sections have yet to come into force.  Of course, they require implementing regulations.  My prediction is that these will take a long time to appear.


Big advance in marriage details

WFHC records of Whitehouse marriages in England & Wales in the July 1837 to 1911 period have improved further.  The number of fully extracted ones has climbed to 7200, which is 81 percent.  Those with at least an identified and verified spouse are approaching 94 percent.


Staffordshire wills & administrations

Copies of 6 more 1601-1730 administrations and wills have been bought from Lichfield Record Office and the genealogical information extracted and added to the files on this website.  They are referenced LFPX11, 21 to 23 and 32, in the Lichfield Peculiars 1601-1730 class, and

LFCX17 & 22 in the Consistory (Bishop's) Court series.  Two of these have come to light through the work of the Staffordshire name indexers, having been missed by me when trawling the microfilm.  The will of Jonathan of Great Wyrley (1718: previously referenced LFPX20) has been obtained and found to be of a Walhouse.  This surname is used repeatedly in the will and is one that existed in the area, so it has been deleted and the administrations and wills previously referenced LFPX11 to 19 re-numbered as 12 to 20.  Also, I have bought a copy of the will of Thomas of Derbyshire (place not stated) which the name indexers have indexed under Whitehouse, but is in fact "Whiterst", which the Lichfield clerk interpreted as Whitehurst.  It was correctly not included in my database.  The cost of these documents was £8 x 5.50 = £44.


Northfield records

Northfield in the 18th and early 19th centuries was a largely rural parish south-west of Birmingham, on the road to Bromsgrove.  It lies adjacent to Halesowen to the west and Kings Norton to the east.  There was a significant community of Whitehouse farmers there, most of whom feature in WFHC Tree 008 etc., which has been updated for archiving.  Alongside it I have established a file that summarises their wills and provides an explanatory commentary on them.  This has been a major undertaking.


The Age of Reason

James Whitehouse who died in July 1727 left a will, nominating his wife as sole executrix.  The wife died before she could administer the estate.  James' son Abraham was still a minor, so he nominated his uncle, tutor and guardian, Richard Whitehouse to administer the estate on his behalf and a grant was made in June 1728.  It recited that Abraham Whitehouse had attained the age of 7 years and indeed had not completed the age of 21 years and therefore was incapable of having legal standing.  In November 1729, administration was granted to Abraham, who subsequently married and had children in approximately 1731-2 and 1733-34.  The June 1728 grant seemed curious at first sight:  Abraham could not have been only 7 and since he was granted the administration the following year, he had presumably then just reached 21 and so was born around 1709.  My explanation is that the 1728 document was merely saying that Abraham was aged between 7 and 21.  An internet search found some authority for 7 being the age of reason, which meant in this case that he was capable of appointing uncle Richard to act for him.  I had the administration, which was in shorthand Latin, translated (cost £10) to satisfy my curiosity and assist overseas correspondent 488 and the translator commented that he had seen grants of representation (probates and administrations) made to minors.


DNA testing

Correspondent 079, Bob Whitehouse, would like to be put in touch with any Whitehouses who have had their DNA analysed.  He has authorised me to publish his e-address, which is robert at robertwhitehouse dot com (put into the usual form, of course).


Errors in census returns

My latest find is a Mary Whitehouse numerated as Wickhouse and entered by "Ancestry" as Wickhorst,  (The last-mentioned is not as silly as it might seem, as Wickhorst is a valid surname).  Uncovering such enumeration errors boosts my morale a little and helps to make my census record transcripts more complete than others.  This is the point at which to say that if anyone out there finds a Whitehouse on the 1841-71 or 1911 England & Wales census or on the 1880 US census that does not appear in my databases, it would be a kindness to tell me.


The tree archive and a big thank you

I have been plugging away slowly at improving Whitehouse trees, so that those of correspondents 001 to 027 can now be found in the tree archive file.  Improvements to them will be welcome.  I am exceedingly grateful to my correspondent Brian Strehlke for doing an amazing job on Tree 010, which is not his.  This is a very remarkable tree in that it includes many New York notables and he has done excellent work in capturing them all.


Help always wanted 

There are many ways in which correspondents (or for that matter anyone else) can help me to improve the data on this website further.  I had hoped for some response to my appeal for help to extend my English & Welsh probate records from 1961 to 1970.  Just to recapitulate, this is something that anyone, anywhere in the world could do.  No research, special knowledge or a subscription to "Ancestry" is required.  All that is needed is an ability to work in Excel and to follow at least approximately the style of the existing database which covers 1858-1960.


Uncrossed 't's

Jeremiah and Susannah Falkner had their daughter, Mary Annette, baptised at Birmingham St John in 1854.  Searching the GRO birth index for a registration could be difficult, as a clerk rendered it as Mary Ann Elle.






Newsletter, 2nd January 2015


Wills and Powers (England & Wales)

In October I attended an AgeUK meeting in which a local solicitor came to talk about wills and powers of attorney.  He said that 58 percent of people in the UK haven't made a will.  It's a shocking statistic when one thinks how easy it is to make a will and how much trouble can be caused by not making one.  This morning's news is that of a scientific paper that shows that 21 out of 32 cancers are the result of random mutations in DNA.  That is to say, we could all be stricken down at any time - not exactly cheerful news for the new year.


New to me was the mention of an organisation called "Certainty" (www.certainty.co.uk) run by solicitors, which stores information about where your will is kept and is open for use by the public as well as solicitors.  It does not store the will itself.  There is a registration fee of £30 and they promise to keep your information for 99 years. The website is owned and operated by Data Certainty Limited, The Chapel, Chapel Lane, Lapworth, Warwickshire B94 6EU.  Of course, the promise to store the information is only good for as long as the company or any successor lasts, but as it is backed enthusiastically by many solicitors, one is hopeful that it will continue to work for a long time.


On the same general subject, it is also astonishing how few people are aware of the desirability of making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).  Lasting Powers came into being in October 2007, replacing the Enduring Power of Attorney.  Their purpose is to appoint an attorney, usually a spouse or child, to look after your affairs when you are no longer competent to do so, for example as a result of dementia.  Ordinary Powers of Attorney are not valid in such circumstances.  There are two kinds of Lasting Power of Attorney, one for property and financial affairs and the other for health and welfare.  They have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) in Birmingham, at a cost of £110 apiece.  The forms and procedure are quite complex, so most people use a solicitor to make them, but those who are well organised, read the forms carefully and follow the instructions can do it themselves.  It can be done on computer or on paper, but the result is a paper document which has to be posted to the OPG and takes at least 4 weeks to process, because notice has to be given to various affected parties.  That's why it is so important to make a Lasting Power of Attorney well in advance of age-related deterioration.  Once you have lost mental capacity to make decisions, an LPA can no longer validly be made, with the result that anyone who could have been appointed an attorney has to apply to the Court of Protection and undergo an even more costly and complex procedure.


Caution - beware falling trees !

There's a tree in "Family Search" that starts with the ancestor of correspondent 251's wife, whose tree is shared with my own: her ancestor is a brother to mine.  Proceeding in the direction ancient to modern, it arrives at a Frederick James Whitehouse who was born in Lenton, just outside Nottingham, on 14 April 1852, son of James Whitehouse and Lucy, née Seals.  According to the "Family Search" tree, this Frederick Whitehouse married Louisa Evesham and they had 5 children.  One of them, Louisa Jane, was born in 1896, died in 1961 and married Arthur James Wallace, born in 1892, died in 1953 and they had a son John Wallace who died in 2002.  Presumably the anonymous submitter is a Wallace descendant.  Another child, Frederick, a lace maker aged 23, married Mabel Scott on 23rd December 1911 at Nottingham St Ann.


I started to investigate.  I could find no marriage in the British Isles for Frederick Whitehouse to a Louisa of any surname or to any Evesham or, as I thought more likely, Eveson.  Still, they might have married abroad or simply lived together without marrying, as many did.  Then I searched the GRO births index and discovered that the tree had most of the children listed with erroneous dates and in the wrong order.  It looked like the information came from a private family source.  I happened to have the death certificate for this Frederick, a hatter, who died on 10 June 1906, aged 52, at an address in Nottingham that was the same as in the 1901 census, where he was shown as a hat manufacturer, aged 47 and married to a Louisa.  The trouble is that he was born in Birmingham (as was Louisa).  I tracked him back through the censuses, where his ages were 37 in 1891 and 27 in 1881 and in both instances born in Birmingham.  So, he was consistently two years younger than he should be and born in the wrong place.


The conclusion was clear.  This "Family Search" tree had not been checked against official records and had gone wrong.  What happened, I wonder, to that other Frederick, born near Nottingham ?  I could not find him with certainty on any subsequent census (the Frederick at Godalming, Surrey on the 1881 census turned out to be a Whitehorn), nor is there any convincing death registration in the years up to 1911.  Maybe he went to sea or abroad.  If anyone out there has any information about either Frederick, please get in touch.


Occupation: Hind

I came across "Hind" as an occupation when extracting a marriage at Hutton Magna, a rural parish in county Durham, previously in Yorkshire North Riding.  Someone had posted a query on a message board and that brought forth the following knowledgeable reply:


"I've just read your email regarding hinds.  My great grandfather and his family were hinds in north Northumberland.  A hind was a farm labourer and could be a hind of horses or other farm animals.  As has also been mentioned they were given rights to a cottage on the farm.  The hind was also referred to as a farm steward and this is perhaps where the Scottish reference came from.  I've done some reading about hinds and have learned quite a bit.

In looking at the occupation and my own family it looks as if the hind was an occupation that lead to further promotion within the farm and hence the farm steward/manager. 

The hinds had to provide female workers as labouring staff for the farms and so they had a group of women known as bondagers.  I think this obligation became obsolete by the 1860's.  If you look at some of the old photographs of agricultural workers in the many books available it will give you information on the hinds and his bondagers.  If you are reading this newsletter, please be kind enough to e-mail me at my usual address of whitehousefhc at Waitrose dot com, so that I can get some idea of whether these newsletters are worthwhile.  I shall now resume the quoted pasage.

There is a useful site set up by the Northumberland County Council which gives photographs of a hind with his bondager staff working in a field in Kirknewton...."


Whitehouse marriage details surge

I have been "marriage mining" in South Yorkshire, notably Sheffield, Ecclesall Bierlow, Rotherham and Barnsley Registration Districts, extracting all the vital information found on the marriage certificate, to add to the WFHC Marriage Details file.  I have also been able to add 13 in Darlington and 3 in East Yorkshire.  My heartfelt thanks to Robert Whitehouse (WFHC 079), Robert Dunsford (Guild of One-name Studies), Linda Ferguson-Stuart and Shirley Power (both Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry members) for their invaluable help in this exercise.  I must also thank my fellow Guild of One-name Studies member Jo Fitz Henry and her team of helpers for contributing 6 more Anglican marriages in Nottingham (City) Registration District. 


In the result, the proportion of Whitehouse marriages in England & Wales from July 1837 to the end of 1911 with full details has reached 80 percent, a long-sought achievement for me, while those for which the spouse is shown in the GRO Marriages file has reached 93 percent.  I am hoping that over time, these numbers will rise a bit further, but my main aim is to get the file in reasonably good order for archiving.  There is more to do in South Yorkshire, so, I intend to go on an expedition to Sheffield and Doncaster if I can find train fares and probably overnight accommodation at sufficiently low prices to make the exercise economically sensible.  That can wait until it gets warmer.


I have undertaken a purge of the WFHC GRO Marriages file to remove the duplicates and the entries that turned out not to be Whitehouse, owing to official errors.  That has reduced the total number by 36.  I have re-numbered them and integrated the five marriages previously added as "New 1" to "New 5" into the new numbering system.  For this update I have shown both the old and new "Universal Numbers", mainly so that I do not confuse myself, but hope to switch to just the new ones at the next update. So, if you are relying on the old ones as a reference source, make the conversions now.


Revision of trees

The programme of revising Whitehouse trees has proceeded slowly.  In the early days of the Whitehouse Family History Centre, then called the Whitehouse Information Centre, I concentrated on events up to the 1881 census (or the US 1880 one) and took trees little further forward in time from the people that appeared on that census.  When the 1911 census became available, I took the decision to work that up into a Whitehouse household spreadsheet.  Having done that I wanted to populate it with WFHC reference numbers, which has been the main driver for revising existing trees.   At the same time, I wanted to add more such reference numbers to the GRO marriages file, which meant tracing forwards.  Sorting the Marriage Details file by father's surname and forename has been a huge factor in enabling me to do this.  Those are good aims, but the revisions of the trees are requiring very large amounts of work.


The genealogy from hell

Exceptionally, I have taken pity on an enquirer who has hit a massive "brick wall" and registered her two days ago as number 570.  The first interesting feature encountered was that James William Whitehouse, as he appeared on a Canadian death certificate, was supposedly William James Whitehouse, born at Limehouse in 1896.  However, that birth didn't exist:  he was really William Henry Whitehouse born in 1895 at Limehouse.  His father, Henry William Whitehouse supposedly married Emma Salmon, who turned out to be Emily Salmon and Henry William's father, William Whitehouse, a blacksmith, did not appear in the 1841 or 1851 censuses.  My guess is that he was abroad, in the army.  Anyway, his marriage is unique in my collection in that his wife, Ann Barber, is described as "supposed widow".  Almost needless to say, both were recorded only as of full age.  Whether I will be able to do anything more to help this unfortunate correspondent is highly doubtful, but it's a savage reminder that we depend so much on luck.  Occasionally, I come across someone who is absolutely convinced that all searches performed to date have been inadequate and that the relevant records must exist.  Please don't laugh too loudly as it might disturb the neighbours.


Help still wanted

In case anyone is wondering, I still need help to improve my records.  One area that I would very much like to see tackled is to extend the probate index (England & Wales) from 1961 to 1970.  This could be split into individual years.  "Ancestry" has pages of the official index for 1961-66 and the new Courts Service index covers 1967-1970 (as well as earlier years).  It's very useful to get the entries onto a spreadsheet and correlate them with the GRO deaths index, because there are so many Whitehouses.  No genealogical expertise is required - only a computer, Excel, care and the ability to mimic the style of the existing spreadsheet (for which instructions can be given).  Anyone, anywhere in the world, could do this.


Christmas Day

A cousin set me a little puzzle in his Christmas card:  "When did Christmas Day fall on Boxing Day ?"  It would have been better to ask "Under what circumstances ?", rather than "When ?"  It defeated me.  Before using "Google" to find the answer, I came up with a genealogical solution.  There was a Christmas Day, whose birth was registered at St Ives (Huntingdonshire) in the first quarter of 1877.  I could find no early death in FreeBMD and was encouraged to find a marriage in 1901 in the same Registration District.  My answer was that when babies learn to walk, they usually fall over.  It would be reasonable to assume that he was born on 25th December 1876, so a year later would very likely be falling over.  Thus, Christmas Day might well have fallen on Boxing Day 1877.  I wonder whether it was a nice day when he married a Mary J. Merryweather.


I shall be updating the other website files over the next few days.


Very best wishes for 2015,



Newsletter, 1st October 2014

Good afternoon everyone,


Here in the London area, we have been enjoying some fine late summer weather, lately with a few merciful showers.  They are merciful, because the garden is very dry, but despite that we have had some excellent late runner beans and courgettes.  Earlier, we had a tremendous crops of plums.  Our best tree is the cooking plum "Rivers Early Prolific", a wonderful tasty variety from the early 1900s, seldom seen in the shops today.  My parents had one and one of my first actions when moving house in 1983 was to plant one myself.


The good weather has enabled me to make a lot of progress with a garden landscaping project in which I have demolished some ugly brick walls and am creating a raised bed for a vegetable plot.  It all started with a request from my neighbour to take down some ivy which had intruded into his plot and was climbing over his garage wall and onto its flat roof.  This ivy, being very old, had thick and extensive roots and had wrecked about 4 metres of fence.  Even the concrete fence posts were crumbling and had to be removed before work on the vegetable plot could be started.  I need to make further progress while the good weather continues, so the website update might take several days to complete.


Collateral line research pays off

I have always said that I am not basically a researcher for these Whitehouse trees, leaving that to my correspondents who "own" them.  Despite that, I do have to do some, to make good inadequacies and correct errors.  Many are interested only or primarily in their direct line of descent and not at all wanting to hear about the collateral lines, that is to say brothers and sisters of those in the direct line and their descendants.  I have always thought that rather short-sighted.  If I had not pursued the full breadth of many of my own family trees, I would have failed to uncover vital information, including in my Whitehouse tree the entries in a much prized family bible and in another line an ancient tree compiled by a remote cousin.   A recent example occurred only yesterday when I visited the London Family History Centre and took the opportunity to check some matters in Tree 005 303.  Briefly, William Whitehouse, a glove maker in Worcester City had married Mary of unknown surname in the 1780s and I could find no obvious marriage in the area.  They had many children including William (baptised 1790), from whom my two correspondents were descended and Martha (baptised 1786), who appeared to have married one Charles Clarke in 1811.  To make this tree more complete in the collateral lines, I wanted to check whether there were any children of this marriage.  This being a female line, I would enter "Issue" if there were any.  A quick look in "Family Search" revealed several including a Mary Foler Clarke baptised in 1818.  Foler seemed an odd forename.  I reviewed the possible marriages for William and Mary Whitehouse outside Worcestershire.  They included one in London at the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, which is situated on Trafalgar Square.  It didn't seem worth investigating until I saw that this Mary was a Mary Foley Harris.  "FindmyPast" has images of Westminster Marriages, so I was able to find that this William Whitehouse was of the parish of Worcester St Peter.  Surely this must be the right one, despite the discrepancy between Foler and Foley.  So I searched on microfilm for the baptisms of the Clarke children and found Mary Foley Clarke:  Foler was a mistranscription.  All this would never have happened if I had not bothered with the collateral line from Martha.


Anyhow, I also want to broaden out the trees as much as reasonably possible, so as to index events to my database files and thus provide the maximum help to those who visit my website.  Originally, I took trees no further forward in time than the 1881 census, except in the direct line of the correspondent.  Now, I am trying to index trees to the 1911 census, which means investigating marriages and census returns up to then and results in a great deal of updating, which has been very time-consuming.


A glitch in Excel

Writing of the 1911 census reminds me of my rather belated discovery that my 1911 census file does not always display the whole of the contents of a cell within the spreadsheet, only in the formula bar, even when the Row Height is on Auto.  My daughter says that this is a known problem in Excel and I think it must be connected with my decision to use a rather small font (Arial 7 point) in this database, in order to fit its many columns to landscape A4 pages.


Probate records

I have been thinking about undertaking a further extension forwards in time of my England & Wales Probate Index which runs from 1858 to 1960.  "Ancestry" has taken its indexing forward to 1966.  I asked the Principal Probate Registry for permission to photograph the Whitehouse entries in their index from 1967 to 1980.  Here is their reply:

"I have spoken with the Southern Group Probate Manager Mrs Diane Rice, who has confirmed that is it not permissible to photocopy the probate indexes. However, it is expected that the 4 million records in the indexes from 1996 - present day will be online at the end of September and this may be of use to you. The remaining 41 million documents are expected to go online at the end of December."  That will be a huge boon, even though they are only indexes.  The reason that I want to continue my own database is that I link the probate to the GRO deaths index and then, within each forename, sort it according to calculated year of birth.  That makes searching for the right Whitehouse much easier.  Whether I will find time to make the extension is another matter entirely and one where I could sorely use some help.  The work could be done entirely at home.  Sadly, I get very few offers of help these days.  Those that I do are much valued and receive public thanks on this website.


A trip to Greenwich ?  No, Woolwich !

I did allow myself a bit of a new genealogical jaunt, to help correspondent 018.  He is trying to find out more about his ancestor Abraham Whitehouse, a Whitesmith who lived to a ripe old age and ended up in Greenwich.  The Greenwich Heritage Centre, which, mysteriously, is located in a conservation area in the neighbouring town of Woolwich, has rate books for the 1830s and 1840s and I was able to find this Abraham in one of them.  It is a delightful little room and the man in charge seemed very knowledgeable, pointing me towards the more likely of the rate books, which he retrieved from store there and then.


Report for the last quarter

The major event has been updating several trees, with the result that I am creating a Tree Archive. This replaces the Sample Trees file.  I have left the file name undated, to make it easy to add trees to it at various times, without altering the Index (home) page.  The revisions have often been extensive: indeed, Tree 013 etc. now incorporates the whole of Tree 224, it having been decided that on the balance of probability, it is connected.


I am again pleased to report some useful progress on records, as the GRO Marriage Details file for 1837 to 1911 has more entries and this will be further improved in the present quarter.  The newly created analogous file for the details of marriages of people with Whitehouse as a forename has made a major advance, thanks especially to Barry Elson (557), who has contributed 15 entries in the West Midlands.


I have been slogging away at trawling the Birmingham Rates Book for 1816-20 and have finally extracted all the Whitehouse entries - at least, I hope so.  This book is unindexed and likely to remain so for a considerable time.  It is highly relevant to confirming a collateral line of my own family tree and I have been examining it for clues about my direct line of ancestry.  I think I am right in saying that the schedule numbers in the Rates Book are real house numbers, thus making this the first full address list for the central part of the town.  Unfortunately, many Whitehouse forenames are missing - whether a forename is included or not seems to be a matter of the rate collector's whim.  However, some can be matched to earlier years or directories.  I plan to create a street index that includes all the various courts.  The book is quite instructive in showing the staggering growth of housing in the town centre by the addition of courts.


The man with many names

While updating Tree 013 etc., I came upon an unprecedented oddity.  A Thomas Henry Whitehouse's birth was registered as such in 1862 in the East London district of Poplar.  He married Harriet Potter on 31 March 1878, at Bow St Stephen, as Thomas, a printer, and the 1881 census says the same.  On the 1891 census he became Edwin, a decorator, in 1901 he was William. a general dealer.  He was not found on the 1911 census and was not with his family then.  When his son, Arthur, married in 1912, the certificate showed him as John, a painter.  Was he being chased by creditors ?  I wonder whether someone out there knows the story.




Newsletter, 8th July 2014

The great freeze

It’s six months since I updated the website, during which there have been many problems.  Briefly, I had to spend a lot of time on the batch of trees that came in during the first three months, when I also had to devote many hours to various DIY activities in the house.  When finally I was nearly ready to update the website in early May, my computer was struck by a frozen desktop problem.  I could not restore the system or access the worldwide web.  Programs would not open. Windows safe mode was of no use.  I spent many hours trying to overcome this freeze, but failed. In the end, I had to call in professional help, which resulted in re-installation of the operating system, Windows 7 Pro.  I didn’t lose any work, but the disruption was considerable. The cause remains unknown.


After that, there were follow-ups from recent correspondents and a lot of e-mail filing to do.  I made one of my very rare visits to Staffordshire Record Office to extract some more Whitehouse records for the website, of which more below.


Closed for enquiries and new registrations

I have already announced that from 1st April, I would not be answering enquiries or admitting new correspondents for registration.  There might be a very occasional exception to allow registration, if the context is unusual or the information provided is of high genealogical merit.  Thus, I did make one exception in the last three months, for new correspondent 569, in strange genealogical circumstances.  Correspondent 167 is descended from Joseph Whitehouse who married Edith Bazire at a Register Office in 1908, but I discovered that Joseph had apparently left his wife, whom he married in 1889, and at least one of his children to do so.  His first wife was undoubtedly still alive at the 1911 census, according to which she was married to another man (no such marriage found).  Correspondent 569 is descended from one of Joseph’s three children by his first wife.  This story has further to run.


Very many thanks

This is the right moment to thank all who have helped me at one time or another by transcribing records at record offices remote from London, visiting churches etc.  The last helper, correspondent 557, kindly visited the new Library of Birmingham and the new archives near Dudley (which opened in January near the Black Country Museum), so particular thanks to him.  He also inspired me to create the new Whitehouse forename files referred to below.


I also owe a big debt of gratitude to correspondent 561, who did extensive research on the Kentucky pioneer, James Whitehouse, which has improved the tree 137 etc. of the many people descended from him.


Half-yearly report

Despite the problems mentioned above, it has been an active period, with 11 new correspondents (558 to 568) registered before the 31st March deadline expired (including two on the last day !) plus No. 569 aforesaid.


The principal new records include a GRO (1837-1911) marriages file of those who have Whitehouse as a forename.  This takes the same form as the Whitehouse surname file, whereby there is an accompanying marriage details file.  This new GRO marriages file for the Whitehouse forename in England & Wales shows about 93 percent of spouses, which is as good as the surname file.  However, the proportion for which full details are given is only 32 percent as present.  As before, the existence of the full details is shown by an “f” and the forename marriages are referenced with WFHC correspondent numbers.  This referencing might not be complete, so it would be useful to know of any additional ones needed.


Three further “miscellaneous” records have been added, all thanks to the indexing provided by volunteers at the Stafford Record Office.  They relate to the prisoners awaiting trial at the Staffordshire quarter sessions, the Staffordshire police and the beginnings of an index of registrations of canal boatmen under the 1795 Act.  These data are full extracts compiled from ledgers at the Record Office.  The prisoner records are a glimpse of social history, showing that petty theft led to very severe sentences.  Prison was never a simple matter of being locked in a cell, as it was always accompanied by “hard labour”, which meant long days on a treadmill, sometimes to no purpose at all.  Whether at Stafford the treadmill was used to drive mill wheels, say to grind corn, I don’t know, but I gather that in many prisons it was not.


Another interesting development has been the digitisation and filming of records at the Shropshire Record Office.  I took advantage of this to improve a record that I started on my computer some while ago, with the result that Whitehouse marriages in the 1754-1837 period (from the Hardwick Marriage Act to the beginning of civil registration) are now covered in detail in the four counties, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (M WMIDS-SAL 1754-1837).  This file has the full details including witnesses, whether the parties signed or made mark and whether the marriage was by licence.  Shropshire was (and still is) very rural, with a great many small country parishes.  Not all have been filmed and I did manage to locate one marriage which was not.  There are probably one or two others, so I cannot guarantee 100 percent coverage.


Meanwhile, the marriage details file for civil registration in England & Wales has been slowly improving, bringing coverage of full essential details* of these marriages, from 1st July 1837 to 1911, to 7009 marriages (79 percent).  The total number is a slightly “cheating” statistic, as the Whitehouse-Whitehouse marriages are doubly indexed and so counted twice.  Additionally, there are partial details of another 16 and a small amount for another 5.  As I keep saying, a big advantage of the marriage details file is that it can be sorted by name of the father.  The proportion of marriages for which spouses are shown, with or without full details of the marriage, has risen from 92 to 93 percent.


* Whether signed or made mark and the name of the clergyman or registrar have been omitted.


The future of the WFHC

1. Archiving

As previously stated, the intention is to archive the trees.  First, they need updating, especially at the modern end.  This is a surprisingly time-consuming task, as I need to follow collateral lines of Whitehouses through to the 1911 census and reference them to my 1911 census database.


2. Improving the records

At the same time, my records need to be improved.  The 1911 census is a case in point.  I compiled it using the FindmyPast index, making corrections as necessary.  One particular task is to do a pilot study into comparing my database against the Ancestry index.  This is an area where I could use some help.  The proposal is to take a Whitehouse forename which is not too frequent, say Alfred or David, sort my 1911 census database accordingly, print out that section and then try to compare this with the Ancestry index.  One could start by looking at any entry for which the age in Ancestry is not one found in the printout or, if the same, is obviously not for the same person.  A direct comparison will always be possible by bringing up the image in Ancestry and comparing the address and other information with the printout.  This would be interesting research in its own right, for the bearing it might have on other surnames.  Any offers ?


Another area requiring input is parish registers, especially baptisms and burials in the West Midlands.  I want to cover Coseley, Darlaston, Oldbury, Smethwick, Walsall and Wednesbury, especially by checking the indexes from Family Search and Ancestry, and making full extracts, as already done for Dudley, West Bromwich and Tipton.  I have little hope of finding time to do this myself and look to my readers for help, please.


An on-going project of my own is the old Birmingham Rate Books, where going is slow anyway as the unindexed books have to be trawled.  I do plan to try to bring this to a suitable stopping point during the autumn or winter.


3.  Service to correspondents

I plan to continue to answer enquiries and receive new information from registered correspondents.  I shall also try to advise them when any significant amendment is made to their tree, if they keep their e-address up to date.  I envisage that at some time I shall collect together all my updated trees which are ready for archiving and put them on the website, so as to provide “self-service”.


4.  The website

This will continue to be updated from time to time, not necessarily every quarter.  These newsletters do have a few fans, amazingly and so long as there is something to say, I hope to continue them, probably at irregular intervals.


Was his father Abraham ?

In 1839 a John Whitehouse was in Stafford Gaol, accused of riot and assaulting a constable.  The calendar of prisoners records that he was otherwise known as “Jacob’s ladder”.





Newsletter, 7th January 2014

All good things 

It has been very enjoyable corresponding with you all and writing these newsletters.  However, I have decided, with great reluctance, but a sense of realism, that I must concentrate my time on my own family trees and on revising my Whitehouse trees for archiving.  Accordingly, the registration system will cease at midnight British Summer Time on 31st March 2014, queries from the general public will not be answered, but correspondence with existing correspondents will continue so long as they keep their contact information up to date.  Hitherto, if an e-mail bounces, I have tried to contact the correspondent by telephone or, in extreme circumstances, by letter.  Such contact attempts will cease.  The website will remain and will be updated at around the end of March and subsequently from time to time, probably at irregular intervals, and I shall be putting some of the revised trees on it.   I hope also to do some tidying up work on the records.


Office 2013

If anyone is thinking of upgrading to this software, my advice is don’t, unless you are an experienced and skilled user of Office or unless you are compelled to do so by force of circumstance.  It is designed for people who want to do complicated operations, with the result that the simple ones, assuming that you can find them amid all the bells and whistles, take longer.  For example, there is no drawing toolbar in Excel 2013 and although various things can be put on a quick access toolbar, drawing lines cannot.  When a new drawing line is put onto one of my family trees, it shows it in blue, even when the default font for the sheet is set to black, so the line colour has to be set manually to black.  Much of the layout is non-intuitive.  The whole thing seems to operate at two levels by providing pre-set formats for headers and page layouts (presumably for those who can’t make their own customised templates), yet incredibly sophisticated ranges of tools accessible on buttons.  I shall persevere with it, storing documents in “Compatibility Mode”  so that they are readable in earlier versions of Office.


An unregistered church “marriage”

A civil marriage ceremony of a Whitehouse at Liverpool Register Office on 29 Jul 1901 was “confirmed” in a church ceremony at Wrexham St Giles on 31 Dec 1902.  The vicar added a note that the entry was to be removed from the register before it was sent to the District Registrar. 


A strange GRO marriage index entry

I have deleted a marriage from my index (UN 1313) because the Whitehouse in the GRO index turned out to be a Stephenson, for no obvious reason.


 Conventions used in my trees

 “Issue” is genealogy-speak for a child or children and I use it regardless of the number of children, their gender and the length of time for which the child(ren) have survived.


Spellings of what is clearly the same surname can differ, especially in the period before about 1860.  I use the legal name of the person, which I take to be that in which his birth was registered, where known, and if before civil registration, the name in which he was baptised.  So, for example, in a recent revision of a tree, “Duncombe” was changed to “Duncomb”, the latter having been used in baptisms the civil registration of the particular people named in the tree.  This is also why Meshach the elder in that tree was written as Meshack, but his son as Meschach.


Where I have not found either a reasonably probable baptism or a birth registration, I fall back on the name used at marriage if that looks sensible.


The file names used in the trees include a date written as yymmdd, a format that I find useful to make sure, amid the many different pieces of software used, that everything is placed in date order in my files.  The same convention is used on my website.


I work to the standard of reasonable probability, i.e. more probable than not, which happens to be the standard used in civil law in English-speaking countries.  It differs from the requirement of “beyond reasonable doubt” in criminal law.


Frequently asked questions

Some correspondents enquire whether the tree that I send them can be taken further back in time.  They are drawn up to the best of my ability at the time, but it is always possible that an assiduous researcher could do more, especially if there have been improvements in the availability of public records on-line since the tree was drawn up.  Please bear in mind that I am basically an indexer and an archivist and that I draw up trees and try to improve them for the purpose of accurate indexing and archiving.  It remains the responsibility of correspondents to do their own research.


Others enquire whether anyone with a connection to their tree has registered since they were last in touch with me.  The practice hitherto has always been that I will put newly registered correspondents in touch with all existing ones that are connected, i.e. (usually) distant cousins.  This will continue until 31st March 2014, but cease thereafter, as new enquiries will not be answered.


Report for the period 5th August 2013 to date

I am happy to report good progress with the records.  West Bromwich burials have been extended to cover the same period as Dudley, namely 1813-61 and all the Anglican churches there.  The marriage indexes have made excellent progress, too, so that the proportion of Whitehouse marriages in England & Wales in the registration period of 1837 to 1911 with the full details transcribed has reached 79% to the nearest whole number and the proportion with assigned spouses 92%.  Work has continued on the Birmingham Rate Books and a new file has been established in which the older Birmingham directories have been extracted.  A correspondent enquired about the origins of the name Whitehouse, so I have written a short piece about that, which can be accessed from the opening page of the website.


There were 5 newcomers who have been registered, with references 553 to 557, the latter being the total number of correspondents on my register.  Both 556 and 557 presented me with interesting obstacles, when I failed to find a couple of marriages.  In 556’s tree, one father named “Eliza” in my spreadsheet escaped previous notice.  I located the transcript and found that it had not been done by me.  Someone had misread “Elijah”, an error which leads me to suspect that several other entries by this transcriber need to be checked.  The puzzle in the 557 tree was that the bride Whitehouse’s father was shown as John, when he should have been Samuel, yet there could be no doubt, from several later censuses, that the marriage was correct.

Both trees were attended by the familiar problems with mis-transcriptions of censuses by Ancestry:  the value of using the Whit* (* = wild card) method and also using forename only remains in force.




Newsletter, 4th August 2013


What’s all this - a newsletter and website update in August ?  Well, it’s effectively the end of quarter newsletter running two months early, as I have decided to close most Whitehouse FHC operations during August and September.  This is partly to give me a bit of a rest after several years of very intensive work on Whitehouse records.  It is partly also to let me get used to my new computer, Windows 7 Pro and Office 2013.  In the last quarterly newsletter, I mentioned that my 7-year old computer had had a seizure, causing a very slow start-up.  I still don’t know what the matter is with it, despite spending quite a bit of time on the problem, but it was out of date anyway and running on the doomed Windows XP operating system.  Some of my correspondents have thanked me for mentioning that Microsoft is withdrawing support for Windows XP on 8th April 2014.  They are also withdrawing support for Office 2003.


I shall maintain a good service for all new enquiries during the closure period.  Existing correspondents are welcome to e-mail me, but replies will be delayed until October, unless the reply impinges on something else which needs more prompt attention.  Please remember that if you omit the subject line or give a more general or vague one, your e-mail could be deleted unopened, even if I recognise the sender.  A few correspondents have sent e-mails on non-Whitehouse subjects to everyone in their address book.  A few appear to have had their address book hi-jacked by a virus or worm, causing annoying e-mails to be sent to me.  One or two have sent me repeated invitations to “Linked-in”, which I routinely ignore, no matter how much I like the person concerned.  All such e-mails are deleted unopened.  The recommended subject line is “WHITEHOUSE - xxx”, where “xxx” is the correspondent number or, for new enquiries, “NEW ENQUIRY”.


Just to emphasise and thereby avoid misunderstanding, I hope, I positively want new enquirers to register with me as correspondents and it is rare that I cannot contribute something to their Whitehouse family history.  Very often, I can add quite a lot and sometimes I find that my correspondent has made a mistake, which I can correct.  There are still a very few people who contact me, but do not want to register.  It’s seldom that I know why.  Registered correspondents are not bombarded with e-mails - I would guess they get about one every year or two on average, when I update the tree.  Their e-mail addresses are not disclosed to anyone except those who have a genuine relationship defined by a WFHC tree.  Telephone numbers are never disclosed (except on rare occasions when the correspondent has given permission).


For the next year or so, I shall be working at a much slower rate and devoting more time to my own genealogy.  The main WFHC requirement now is for me to update as many trees as possible, improving the referencing of marriages and the 1911 census with WFHC reference numbers.


Amusingly, in view of my remarks last time, a decent summer did start on the 4th July, at least for the south east of England and today is yet another nice day.  England are struggling in the 3rd test match (cricket) against Australia, so what we need now is for torrential rain over Manchester.


Report for the period 28th June to 4th August 2013

This has been a quiet period.  Nominally, there has been one new correspondent, an existing correspondent with a second Whitehouse tree, which has been given the WFHC number 552.  I say “nominally”, because I was delighted to hear from a new correspondent (WFHC 193) who has replaced the previous correspondent, a near cousin, alas deceased many years ago, with no change of the reference number.


Records-wise, I have improved the Dudley baptisms index.


Three trees have been subjected to very extensive updating.


A jocular newscast ?

I was thinking about my good friend, correspondent 552’s, family story about a jockey by the name of George Whitehouse who rode the outsider “Hotspur” to second place in the Derby at Epsom in 1849.  I wonder whether he ever rode again.  This triggered a memory of a recent news item on the TV about a jockey who had a serious fall from a horse and was taken to hospital, where he was said to be in a stable condition.




Newsletter, 28th June 2013


Sunshine and Wimbledon tennis at last.  The saying that it always rains during Wimbledon fortnight has been a myth in recent years.  Yes, it has rained on one or two days, but on the whole the weather has been reasonable.  I always reckon that if we are going to get a decent summer, it usually starts on the 4th July, an easily memorable date.  Alas, here I am, not getting my ration of Vitamin D from the sun, as I have had to try to get as much on the computer and backed up as possible.  The poor old thing had a seizure about 10 days ago and ever since then Windows start-up has been very slow (40 minutes).  I think it got too hot and either lost some memory or a component in the normal start-up pathway.  It has served me well for 7 years, but its 32-bit processor and 1 GB RAM are out of date and it runs on Windows XP, which is doomed: Microsoft is withdrawing support on 8th April 2014.


I have been working pretty hard for the last 15 months or so, improving the records on this website and am at least a year ahead of my own expectations.  For the next year or so, I shall be working at a much slower rate and devoting more time to my own genealogy.  The main WFHC requirement now is for me to update as many trees as possible, improving the referencing marriages and the 1911 census with WFHC reference numbers.


If anyone who has “Ancestry” to hand and would like to help, a very useful service would be to take a small portion of the WFHC 1911 census file and check it.  The present version has been drawn up largely with the aid of the “Findmypast” index.  It does contain some material not in that index and “Findmypast” indexing errors have been corrected, but a check against “Ancestry” would be both helpful and interesting.  It would probably be best to take a small selection of a particular forename between defined ages (or, of course, the whole forename if it is a rare one).


Quarterly report

It has been a momentous quarter for Whitehouse records at the WFHC, with many projects either completed or near completion. 


The 1911 census transcription of households containing at least one Whitehouse has been completed.  It contains 11410 people of that name and runs to 16878 rows.  At 4.59MB it’s a substantial download and in my hands prints out at 407 pages. 


Another long-felt want achieved this quarter has been extending my probate index for England & Wales by 10 years, so that it now runs from 1858 to 1960 instead of 1950.  This doesn’t seem much when thus baldly stated, but it has increased by a third.  Converting the printed entries in the official index books to spreadsheet form is hard going, as everything has to be typed.  It’s worth reminding everyone that the big advantage of this index over that of “Ancestry” is that most of it is searchable by the date of birth of the deceased.  That’s because the date of death given in the probate index has been matched with the GRO death index entry and the age at death subtracted.  Of course, it’s only a rough guide, since ages at death are often given inaccurately, but in practice it works pretty well.  The next step will be to populate the extension with WFHC reference numbers.


Parish records in Dudley, Tipton and West Bromwich parishes have been extended very considerably.  The non-conformist parts of the present files just uploaded need some further work.  Some of this needs doing at the Smethwick archives, so if there is a volunteer ....


I want to thank publicly Aaron Murray (WFHC 311) for his sterling work on marriages in the Ontario province of Canada of Whitehouses born in England.  It is quite surprising just how many can be referenced to WFHC trees.


Another thankee is Rebecca at the Staffordshire Record Office in conjunction with Diana Grant, a volunteer helper there.  Rebecca has enabled me to improve my Apprentices index by transcribing parts of Diana’s index that were not included in the online version provided for public use.  I am very grateful to them both.

If anyone is going to the Staffordshire Record Office, there is a small discrepancy that needs looking at:  it just means ordering up the Wednesbury poor law documents and looking at one apprenticeship indenture which is identified by an SRO reference number.


I have managed to add a couple more years to the Birmingham Rate Books files.  Trawling them is slow going and it is all too easy to miss an entry.


In the background to all this, the marriage indexes covering 1st July 1837 to the end of 1911 in England and Wales have been steadily improved, with more spouses added and more entries in the marriage details file.  Also, Pat Molloy (WFHC 409) has checked a couple of marriages at Lichfield Cathedral for me, so many thanks to him.


There were 6 new correspondents this quarter, bringing the total to 551.


More bigamy 

Two new correspondents (WFHC 547 & 548) arrived in April and were duly linked to existing WFHC trees, in each of which there is a well documented case of bigamy in the first part of the 19th century.  Divorce was impossible for the ordinary man and woman in those days.  This accounts for many fictitious husbands and wives in census returns and it seems difficult to be censorious about one of the parties wanting to legitimise the new relationship.  At some point in the mid-19th century, the courts developed a rule that if a spouse disappeared and had not been heard of for 7 years and if reasonable enquiries had been made, it could be presumed by the abandoned spouse that he or she was free to re-marry.  Mind you, if the deserter turned up later, after the second marriage, there could be dreadful complications !


Footballing legend

There are few famous Whitehouses, but, thanks to new correspondent 547, I found another.  Jimmy Whitehouse, a goalkeeper for the Lancashire football club of Newton Heath in the period 1899-1903, played about 60 first team games.  What’s so wonderful about a appearing for a potty little club like that ?  In 1902 it became Manchester United.  So, Jimmy, having played for Manchester United, is clearly a football legend !  We can forget the end of his career in 1907 at the lowly Southend United and the 1911 census entry in which he is shown as a fish dock labourer in Grimsby.


Family Search: brickbats and a bouquet

This quarter I was puzzled by not being able to find in the register Whitehouses baptised in the Somerset parish of Laverton, as shown in Family Search.  Eventually, a flash of inspiration arrived and I found them in Langport parish !


Another Family Search mystery affected my own tree: a film relating to Birmingham St Philip contained some burials from 1793 to 1812.  They had been catalogued as taking place at St Philip, along with many other items on the film.  However, they actually took place at St Mary, Whittall Street, which was then a chapelry within St Martin’s parish.


On the other hand, their relatively new index of Tipton St Martin baptisms seems highly accurate.


Bureaucracy then as now

Found in the Birmingham Rate book for 1810-13 at New John Street: “Part of this house in Aston and part in Birmingham that part in Birg [Birmingham] is about one fourth the which is here rated.”  The rateable value was thus set at £3 for the Birmingham part.  Sense was seen and a note was added in 1811: “this house is now placed entirely in Aston parish”.


A great survivor

The following note appears in the Dudley St Thomas burials register, for William Bunn on 20th December 1857:

“Survived with broken spine & two broken thighs nearly ten years and died in the Faith”.


Good ancestor hunting,



Newsletter, 27th March 2013


I hope that all of you in the UK are keeping warm in this, the coldest prolonged spell of weather for 50 years.  I have been afflicted with the worst cold (in the head) of my life.  It began by leaving me deaf in one ear and lasted about 3 weeks 5 days, after which I was relieved to regain my hearing.  All is well now, however.  Genealogically, I have managed a few trips to the London Family History Centre, run by the LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).  This is located on the first floor of The National Archives, at Kew.  One of the more enjoyable aspects of going there is the pleasant walk along the Thames towpath, where one can see rowing crews practising and birds flying low over the river.   My own Whitehouse family history, on which I have been busy, has required me to look at the Birmingham rate books there.  They have been filmed by the LDS, but it is slow going, as they are not indexed.  I have done quite a bit of extraction and made up a couple of files, described below.  Enough of this chit-chat, as it is now 8.30 p.m. and I want to get the website updated tonight...


Quarterly Report

This quarter I have improved the Apprentices Index by covering the years 1774 to 1810 in the Inland Revenue Stamp Duty ledgers.  The subject is explained in detail in the MISC EXPLANATIONS file.  The WFHC index contains some apprenticeships extracted from the Staffordshire Record Office index, which, unfortunately, does not give as much detail as the Inland Revenue ledgers.  The SRO have advised that to complete all the missing details except the sum paid for the apprenticeship would take1 hour, while to discover the sum paid would take 2 to 2-1/2 hours (probably because the indentures themselves would have to be consulted).  An offer of help to do either would be very welcome. 


New this quarter is an index of Whitehouse entries in the London Gazette.  I am very grateful to Alma Ranson (WFHC 542) for her considerable work on this.  This is a substantial file covering the period 1734 (first Whitehouse entry) up to 1860.  Most of the entries relate to bankruptcies and changes to partnerships.  It has been quite a revelation to me how many names, from trees in my collection, that I recognised.


Another new type of database relates to Birmingham Rates.  Rates were collected in Birmingham from way back in the 18th century to fund necessary relief for the poor and are consequently often referred to as “Poor rates”.  I have extracted Whitehouses for six years, namely 1787-1792 and 1801-02.  (The rating year ran to Lady Day, which was 25th March, so “1801-02” means 26th March 1801 to 25th March 1802).  These books are, in effect, directories of Birmingham, as they cover not only those who paid the rates, but those who did not.  Unfortunately, they do not give occupations, but to some extent they can be reconciled with trade directories, which do.  In the 5-year period 1787-92, Birmingham was still quite a small town and it was interesting that many Whitehouses stayed in the same or a nearby street for the whole period.


The file of West Midlands marriages from 1754 (26th March) to 1837 (30th June) has been improved considerably by the kind efforts of Brian Morris (WFHC 518) who has checked in Parish Registers many of the Mid- and North Staffordshire marriages that were previously entered only from transcripts or an index.  As a result some more details have been added, errors corrected and queries determined.  Very many thanks to him.


Another helper to be thanked is Antoinette Betteridge (WFHC 431), who has extracted another 11 Derbyshire marriages in the period 1870 to 1909, which have been added to the marriage details file and duly marked “f” in the GRO marriages index.  This index continues to improve steadily and currently offers the full details of about 77 percent of Whitehouse marriages in the 1st July 1837 to end of 1911 period.  Marriages with named spouses amount to some 91 percent. 


Many thanks to Sarah Riley (WFHC 080) for sending me the full details of Whitehouse baptisms from the Wednesbury Wesleyan Methodist registers.  There are just 9 of them, dated 1805 to 1836.  Since Methodist Ministers were assigned to “circuits” (groups of churches), the Wednesbury circuit covered many other places.  In these nine Whitehouse baptisms, three are in the Great Wyrley & Cheslyn Hay area (Charles, son of George & Mary, 1805; Mary, daughter of James & Ann, 1811; and Ann, daughter of Edward, Edge Tool Maker, & Sarah, 1818), one is at Bloxwich (William, son of William & Mary, 1820); two are in the Sedgley area (Ruth, daughter of Philip & Mary, 1817; and William, son of Josiah, Bricklayer & Sarah, 1836), two are at Great Bridge (Sarah, daughter of John, Forgeman & Mary; and James, son of Abraham, Mason and Eliza, 1833) and just one is at Wednesbury (Hezekiah, son of John & Elizabeth of Wood Green, 1829).


The biggest thank you of all must go to David Whitehouse (WFHC 512), who has transcribed Whitehouse households in the 1880 census of Maine, USA, the most populous for this name.  It was a mammoth undertaking.  Inspired by this outstanding help, I got to work myself on some of the other states, with the result that this transcription of the 1880 census is now complete for the whole of the USA, after some 3-1/2 years.


The project to transcribe Whitehouse-containing households on the 1911 census has made another big stride forward and now offers 96 percent coverage of England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.  There are just 137 households in Wolverhampton Registration District remaining to be put on the spreadsheet.  Otherwise, it is complete for all households indexed by “Findmypast” and a few that it missed out.  The commonest deviant renderings of the surname have been covered.  It’s worth repeating here that if your search in online databases has not yielded the result expected, try WFHC’s.  Just to take two recent examples, you would have a problem finding Lilian Whitehouse, aged 7, living at Birmingham Road, Aldridge, Staffs, if you searched in “Ancestry”, as the surname has been transcribed by them as Whikhouse and Thomas James Whitehouse, a coal miner born in 1870 living at at Pelsall, Staffordshire, whose forenames have been rendered by “Ancestry” as Thomas Jane !  Another advantage of the WFHC spreadsheet is that forenames have been “normalised”, with the correction of householders’ as well as transcription errors.  For instance, Irvine Whitehouse, born in 1904 appears with his correct forename, rather than Irine as appears in the census schedule or Irene as misinterpreted by “Findmypast”.


It’s strange to report that I have registered only one new correspondent, who was given the number 155, a number vacated by my decision that a particular tree did not need two references.  So, overall the number of registered correspondents remains at 546.  I am constantly surprised that more people do not ask to be registered.  After all, I will help with the tree, often doing a little research myself, there are no formalities such as user names and passwords, the correspondent does not have to do anything after the initial phase when I might ask for some details for the tree, there is no charge for services rendered and e-mails are sent only when the tree is updated or a new correspondent joins the tree.


Shropshire Parish Registers to go online

I asked the Shropshire Archives in Shrewsbury about their progress in digitising Shropshire parish registers and reproduce their response below:


“Thanks for your enquiry.


We are in the process of digitisation - the final batch of registers are going to Scotland next week.  Once all registers are digitised, we still have the process of indexing. Final decisions have yet to be made on who will do this and when the registers will be available to view on-line and through which provider.


Therefore, it is not possible to say when registers for Shropshire will be fully searchable on line, but it is likely to be within the next year.  Details will appear on our website when there is more news.”


The recording of marriages in Victorian times

Many people probably do not realise that the marriage certificates issued by the General Register Office for England & Wales are copies.  The only original registers, where you can see the signatures of the parties and witnesses in their own handwriting, are those signed in duplicate in church.  One is kept at an official depositary serving as the Diocesan Record Office (Archives, Local studies etc.), except that, annoyingly, a few churches have retained them, and the other at the District Register Office.  This might or might not be the same District Register Office for the area at the time of the marriage, since the jurisdictions of these Offices have often changed over the years.


The system is explained by Michael Whitfield Foster in his book “A Comedy of Errors, Act 2” (Published 2002, privately in Wellington, New Zealand, by the author:  ISBN 0-473-07480-X; see http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mikefost/ ) at pages 17 & 18:


“On completion of each quarter, clergy and registrars (and officials of the Jewish & Quaker congregations) were required to copy out all the...  ...marriages for that quarter on loose sheets [reference to the 1998 book of the same author] and give them to the Superintendent Registrar of their district.  The clergy were trusted to sign their quarterly returns to certify them as true copies, while the returns by local registrars were checked and certified by the Superintendent Registrar.  It is this certification that is meant by the second occurrence of the word ‘certified’ in the wording on all certificates issued by the GRO, namely ‘certified to be a true copy of an entry in the certified copy of a register...’ ”


“The Superintendent Registrars passed the returns [on the loose sheets] to the General Register Office and kept no copies of them.  When the marriage registers were finally filled (the clergy held two copies), one copy was sent to the Superintendent Registrar for permanent safe-keeping and was locally indexed.  Some registers in small parishes have not yet been completed since they were first issued in 1837 and both copies are still held in those parishes.  Registrars had only single registers.”


For an explanation of how the loose sheets were arranged by the GRO clerks, please refer to my paper “Marriage Mining in the West Midlands”, which can be accessed via a link on the index page.  For horror stories of official errors, missed entries etc., see Mike Foster’s book cited above and its 1998 predecessor, “A comedy of errors”.


Jewish marriages

Has anyone found a Jewish marriage of a Whitehouse in England and Wales ?  This faith was allowed to keep its own marriage registers when the change of law came into effect on 1st July 1837.  I was interested to learn that Jewish weddings were registered by the secretary of the groom’s congregation, regardless of where the marriage took place. Presumably, the secretary would report the marriage to the civil registrar for the district of that congregation, thus in some cases giving a false impression of the place of marriage.


More difficulties in “Family Search”

Regular readers might recall that in the last newsletter, I recounted how some marriages that came up in “Family Search” were not findable in the parish register, because they were publications of banns that were never converted into marriages.  Another example turned up this quarter, when Catherine Whitehouse and William Lee had their banns read for the third time on 7th October 1832 at the parish church of Madeley in Shropshire, but never married there.  If they did marry, it can only have been somewhere else that has so far eluded me (and “Family Search”).


Another mystery presented itself in the little Warwickshire village of Bickenhill, where Ann Whitehouse and Robert Wagstaff’s marriage was indexed by “Family Search” as taking place there on 10th April 1754.  However, there was no such marriage entered among those for 1754 or either adjacent year and there was no surviving banns book for that year.  Yet, according to “Family Search”, the marriage was to be found on the film of the parish registers of Bickenhill.  Perhaps a page had come loose and was filmed out of order at the end of the marriages ?  No. Fortunately, a flash of inspiration arrived.  Turning to marriages in April 1764, ten years on, there was the missing marriage.  The clergyman had written “fiftyfour” instead of “sixtyfour” in this one entry (amid all the correctly written ones) and “Family Search” had failed to recognise this obvious error.


Misfortune of war

“Unfortunately for me, I regret to say, that whilst directing the pointing of an 8-inch gun to where I believed some of these riflemen to be...   ...the gun, from some unaccountable cause, went off and, in recoiling, the whole weight of both gun and carriage came down on my left foot, injuring it very severely and breaking several bones, which I fear will lay me up for some time.”  (Naval report from the Crimean War, extracted from the London Gazette, Issue 21817, dated 20 November 1855)


One up, one down ?

William Whitehouse, a potter’s labourer, must have scratched his head when filling in the 1911 census schedule.  When asked the number of rooms, he entered “In an old tramcar”.


Enjoy a good break at Easter,

Best wishes, Keith



Newsletter, 1st January 2013


A happy New Year to all readers and I hope that yours has got off to a better start than mine.  I could hardly believe my bad luck when once again I was hit by a computer glitch when I was preparing the website update.  For those interested in such matters, I encountered the “Blue Screen of Death” and it hasn’t yet gone away.  It will probably take a long time to get back to normal.  Meanwhile, I am uploading the files to the website from another computer - I hope !


Quarterly Report

The most notable event of the quarter has been the near completion of the digitisation process that has taken many years.  All the files in my possession have now been referenced with the WFHC correspondent number in the marriage, census and probate records on  my website - hurrah !  I say “near completion” because one file has been researched and referenced, but the tree needs to be re-processed and updated.  That’s my own tree, which I share with another correspondent, whose wife is my 5th cousin once removed.  I shall be devoting a good deal of the first quarter of 2013 to this and to improving a draft family history written some 12 years ago and not finished.   Meanwhile, it will give me enormous satisfaction to throw away my old card index running to seven shoe boxes.


Other significant achievements comprise:

- a big advance in the 1911 census (England & Wales) transcript, in which I have added 2600 rows, thus making it about 84 percent complete;

- an overhaul of the 1911 census transcript, mainly improving consistency, dealing with missorted households and removing duplicate entries;

- a surprisingly substantial addition to the 1881 (England & Wales) census referencing file, of some 300 rows, which takes coverage to about 49% of all Whitehouses;

- further improvements to the 1837-1911 England & Wales marriage indexes*

- Tipton parish church baptisms extended back to 1813 and burials for 1813-1851 now transcribed**

- addition of Ontario deaths, covering only those born in England, but which have proved unexpectedly useful***


* thank you, Antoinette (WFHC 431) for the Derbyshire marriage extractions

** again, many thanks to you, Adrian (WFHC 141 & 145) for your valuable work which gave me so much help and encouragement

*** well done and thank you to Aaron (WFHC 311) for sending images and a draft spreadsheet


This quarter has brought 8 new correspondents, who have been allocated 9 reference numbers.  The total stands at 546.


The 1881 census

I mentioned above that this referencing file, which now runs to 4964 rows, represents about 49% of all Whitehouses.  For those who have not followed the story, this file began in late 2006 and contains only those Whitehouse households which have been referenced to a correspondent’s tree.  It has been built up slowly, alongside the digitisation project.  The latest statistic is an indication of the extent to which I have captured Whitehouses in England & Wales and tethered them to a tree.


I normally use the Latter Day Saints’ transcript and always check it against the actual return.  The LDS transcript (also used by “Ancestry”) is one of the very best - mistakes are rare and usually unimportant.  However, I have just come upon a remarkable departure, where, in the same household, an age clearly written as 64 has been rendered as 54 and 39 as 3.


Tips in searching the census

If at first you don’t succeed, try abbreviating Whitehouse to Whit* where the asterisk is a wild card denoting any termination of the word.  Admittedly you have to skip an awful lot of Whites, but it can be worthwhile.  That’s how recently I tracked down Joseph WHITEHOUSE and his wife Ann in the Hill Top area of West Bromwich in 1881.  They had been indexed as WHITELANE.  This wasn’t another heinous mistranscription, for it did look more like that than anything else, but on magnifying the image, one could see that it could be WHITEHOUSE very badly written, which it had to be. 


If that fails, try omitting the surname altogether and scanning through the long list.  I did this for the 1901 census and to my astonishment found that the WHITEHOUSE family sought had been enumerated as SAUNDERS.  I pored over the entry for several minutes, trying to convince myself that I must be wrong, but everything else fitted so well, there could be no room for doubt.  Had the man changed his name to evade creditors, perhaps ?  Ten years on, they were living elsewhere and were once again WHITEHOUSEs.


In with royalty

One of the most interesting entries in 1881 must be for the ship HMS Penelope; Harwich (RG11/1782 FO 77 p26), where the crew list was headed by HRH Rear Admiral The Duke of Edinburgh, aged 36, born Windsor Castle and included Alfred WHITEHOUSE as a Secretary.  The Duke of Edinburgh here was also an Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and therefore second in line to the throne after the Prince of Wales.  After a distinguished naval career in which he ended up as Admiral of the Fleet, the highest rank, he died in 1900 at the age of 55.  Alfred WHITEHOUSE rose to become Paymaster-in-Chief  in the Royal Navy, from apparently humble origins.  This whole family (WFHC 562) contains other naval officers and notables, which I shall show in a Sample Tree.


Another Whitehouse marriage deleted

Additions and deletions made to original WFHC GRO 1837-1911 Marriages File



UN278  1841 Q2  This is an exact repeat of UN277, there being two identical entries in the typed GRO index.  UN 278 has been deleted from the WFHC File.

UN 356  1842 Q4  Deleted because not a WHITEHOUSE.

UN 531 1845 Q2  Deleted because not a WHITEHOUSE.

UN577  1845 Q4  This is a duplicate of UN572, entered in the WFHC file by mistake.

UN3502 1875 Q2  Deleted because not a WHITEHOUSE.

UN7059 1901 Q4  Deleted because not a WHITEHOUSE.

UN7981 1906 Q4  Deleted because not a WHITEHOUSE.



New 1 1862 Q3 Elizabeth WHITEHOUSE W Bromwich 6b 841 m. DUDLEY, Joseph

New 2 1896 Q1 John WHITEHOUSE W Bromwich 6b 895 m. BENNETT, Alice

New 3 1900 Q3 Thomas WHITEHOUSE Stourbridge 6c 213 m. TAYLOR, Sarah Ann

New 4 1902 Q3 Ellen WHITEHOUSE W Bromwich 6b 1070a m. LYMAN, John

New 5 1861 Q4 Benjamin WHITEHOUSE Ulverston 8e 815 CURWIN, Mary Jane


In the last 2 years there have been two deletions and one addition.  The latest one is the deletion of UN 531,

WHITEHOUSE (should have been entered as WHITEHURST) John David m. HENSHALL Elizabeth

1845Q2 Macclesfield 19 101, marriage 09 Apr 1845 at Alderley.


More problems with “Family Search”

You find a marriage in “Family Search”, but when you look it up in the parish register, it isn’t there.  Your first thought is that maybe you copied the date wrongly, your second that “Family Search” has indexed it with the wrong date, but on searching nearby dates you still can’t find it.  Maybe it has been indexed in the wrong parish ?  So you check the Latter  Day Saints’ film number.  That seems OK.  The answer ?  The couple published the banns, but never got married - well, not findably anyway.  Regrettably, “Family Search” indexes banns as if they were marriages.  So, for example, the marriage between Sarah WHITEHOUSE and Thomas ATHAWAY (presumably a phonetic rendering) on 5th March 1820 at Warwick St Nicholas never took place.   Similarly, Jacob WHITEHOUSE never married Mary TITMUS on 20th March 1791 at Sheldon St Giles.


Another difficulty is misindexing and misrecording.   Here are some recent statistics relating to marriages within the period 25th March 1754 to 30th June 1837:

WHIGHTHOUSE.  Just the one “hit” in FS from this highly unusual spelling.

WHILEHOUSE.   No “hits” in FS - that’s good, because the name has no credible existence.

WHITCHOUSE.  This name doesn’t exist, but Family Search shows 9 marriages, which would be picked up by searching WHIT*HOUSE, where the asterisk is a wild card indicating no or any character(s).

WHITEHORSE.  One might think that this was a fairly frequent name, so maybe it is surprising to find only 3 results for it.  Whether they are misindexings or misrecordings remains to be determined.

WHITEHOUS.  There were 9 “hits”, but, of course, this problem is easily avoided by searching WHITEHOUS*

WHITHOUSE.   FS gave 21 answers, of which 9 were in the 1800s.  Again, a search of  WHIT*HOUSE would show these.

WHYTEHOUSE.  This is a rare deviant spelling, but FS did produce one entry.

WIGHTHOUSE.   Another rare deviant, this time yielding 2 entries.

WITEHOUSE.  This “phonetic”  rendering gave two “hits”.



The grand total is 48, of which two thirds occur in the West Midlands (Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire) and Shropshire.  The West Midlands ones are included in my newly created database for marriages in the stated time range.  There are just two in Shropshire:   John WHITCHOUSE to Sarah WELLINGS 28 Oct 1816 Bridgnorth St Mary Magd and William WHITHOUSE to Mary ALLMONDS 02 Feb 1807 Wombridge St Mary & St Leon.   These will be included when I extend the West Midlands database to cover Shropshire.  That leaves 16 others which I have listed in a small file that can be consulted via a link in BMD EXPLANATIONS.


The cholera epidemic of 1832

In the register of burials at Sedgley All Saints for 1832 there is an extensive note, probably written by the Vicar.  He records that the outbreak struck Bilston and Tipton in July and Sedgley in August, killing 290 people in Sedgley parish.  Under the leadership of the Vicar, Charles Girdlestone, a Board of Health was set up, which raised £1031 to provide food, clothing and nurses and to help widows and orphans.  Money was also raised to distribute testaments, prayer books and religious books to the poor, including a grant from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.  The note mentions that there had been “a state of religious inquiry excited in the minds of the people”.  In other words, they must have been complaining that there could not be a God who brought this plague upon them.  I have transcribed the whole note, which can be found at The1832 cholera epidemic  .


....and so say all of us

At various times after 1812 and before 30th June 1837, some marriage registers exhibit “blitzes” on obtaining consent.  Some edict must have issued from bishops.  Consent of a parent to a marriage was required only when one of the parties was a minor, that is to say under 21.  However, there are entries in which widows and widowers are shown as having obtained consent of parents, when these people are obviously of full age.  The officials at Hampton-in-Arden parish church took this zealousness to extremes when in 1825 Mary Whitehouse married John Corfe with consent of friends.  In 1826 entries, couples are shown marrying with the consent of the parish or the hamlet.


Wishing you the very best of success in 2013,



Newsletter, 2nd October 2012

Quarterly report

The major news this quarter is the creation of a Whitehouse marriage details file for 1754 to1837 in the West Midlands.  The previous files for individual parishes have been amalgamated and new ones added, resulting in extensive coverage of the Birmingham area including the “Black Country”, South Staffordshire and much of Worcestershire.  It contains over 2500 entries.  This indexed transcript will be of enormous benefit, not only because it includes witnesses, marital condition etc., but because it corrects errors and rectifies omissions in the Latter Day Saints’ IGI and “Family Search” databases.  It is a work in progress, as I have yet to complete some entries in rural Worcestershire and I have discovered that the details of marriages in Dudley from 1754 to 1780, which I thought I had covered, are still outstanding.


The new “Family Search” has so far been a disaster:  there are large numbers of marriages missing, some dates are wrong, some transcriptions are not the best and sometimes the parish is wrong.  Of course, the old IGI was far from perfect, but its replacement is dreadful at the moment.   For example, “Family Search” identified 10 of the missing Whitehouse marriages in Dudley, but when I searched the 1978 edition of the IGI for Worcestershire, I found another 9.  I intend to trawl the register in case there are any more.


I advise readers not to rely on “Family Search” for Whitehouse marriages in the West Midlands.  The database provided here is more accurate, more comprehensive and far more complete.


By the way, if anyone would care to provide some help at the Worcestershire and Staffordshire record offices, I would like to cover more churches in these counties.


Because this marriages database has involved a lot of work and because of extensive time spent in improving existing trees in my collection, progress on the 1911 census and the 1880 US census transcription projects has been very limited.


The 1837 to 1911 marriage details file has made also only a little further progress, but I have been helped by my third cousin Thelma Felstead (who has no connection with Whitehouses) and by fellow-members of the Guild of One-name Studies.


I have to apologise for some errors in the Tipton baptisms schedule for 1837 to 1851 launched mid-way through this last quarter and thank Adrian Loker (WFHC 141 & 145) for his own spreadsheet, thoughtfully following my style, which I compared with mine.  He also extracted marriages for 1813-37, not knowing that I was also working on Tipton marriages and it was very helpful to be able to compare the results.  I intend later to work on 1813-1836 baptisms and 1813-1851 burials at Tipton and Adrian’s work will be very helpful.  For years, I have been using a paper schedule kindly provided by Paul Whitehouse (WFHC 287 & 347), which will provide a further check, but it will be tremendous to get the baptisms on line so that they can be searched more easily by name and occupation of father.


It has been a big struggle to progress the project RADAP (Re-indexing, Archiving, Digitisation ­and Paper-Destruction) by which I am computerising all my paper files containing family trees or data with which to make them.  I have managed (just) to convert another 6 of them, so there are only 10 left.  There were again just two new correspondents this last quarter, who were allotted the numbers 536 and 537, the latter being the current total number of registered correspondents.  Both the new people were connected to existing trees, which is now the norm.


I often wonder whether people use my census transcripts, a reflection brought to mind recently when I added to my 1851 census file two Whitehouse families which had been misenumerated as Whitehurst and Whitehorn.  The names were perfectly clearly written and the only way of knowing that they were really Whitehouses was by working on the tree.


Darlaston All Saints

There is a  problem about marriages here from 1872, when the church was consecrated, to 1911.  Its early marriage registers have been destroyed by a bomb in world war 2.  Last year I tried to persuade the Walsall Registrar (Mrs. Lorraine Cotton) to copy her duplicate register, without success.  She claims that it is beyond her legal powers to do so.  I then requested personal access under Section 63 of the Marriage Act 1949:


“Section 63

Searches in register books.E+W

(1)Every incumbent, registering officer of the Society of Friends, secretary of a synagogue and registrar by whom a marriage register book is kept shall at all reasonable hours allow searches to be made in any marriage register book in his keeping, and shall give a copy certified under his hand of any entry in such a book, on payment of the following fee, that is to say.....”

She denied this to me, saying that her only power was to issue a certificate upon payment of the fee, under Section 64 of the Marriage Act.   Her position is that she has no legal power to grant access in any other way, because the register is in her custody as a Superintendent Registrar, to which Section 64 relates.  She and her Legal Department deny that a Superintendent Registrar is a mere species of the more general term Registrar used in Section 63, a denial which goes against rules of legal construction.  While I would dearly love to issue proceedings against her for Breach of Statutory Duty under Section 63, which I did threaten to do, there are certain potential problems in the legal process which make the exercise not worth it, when my objective would be to obtain the details of  9 or 10 Whitehouse marriages for the public benefit (not for my own family history).  Further, there are three registers involved and taking such action would not help members of the public interested in the other 1490 or so marriages. 


I was allowed access to the Walsall Register Office's index, which turned out to be in the form of notebooks giving only the page number of the register as the reference, and so (as it chanced) not even enabling me to assemble correct pairs of brides and grooms on each page, there being two marriages to the page.  The index did enable me to confirm positively that All Saints is sandwiched between Darlaston St Lawrence (ancient parish church) and St George in the church order for Walsall Registration District used by the GRO clerks, with the result that anyone prepared to go to considerable trouble can work out whether a marriage took place at All Saints.  See my “Marriage Mining” paper for an explanation of how this works.


I regard Lorraine Cotton and Walsall Council’s refusal to copy the register as sadly mistaken, not least since this is the only original version of the Darlaston All Saints marriage register in existence:  the happy couple signed two registers at the church, the one that is destroyed and the other now in the hands of Lorraine Cotton.  The General Register Office’s version is a mere copy.  Wolverhampton Registrars have taken a different position and deposited copy registers (Bilston St Luke and Wolverhampton St George, the latter at my instigation) at archive offices.  If the legal position on copying an old register were clear-cut, it would be another matter: no one could criticise the Walsall Registrar for following the law.  However, it is very far from that.  Indeed, Section 60 (1) (a) of the Marriage Act requires the church’s original register to remain in the hands of the incumbent.  Furthermore, it has been admitted to me that the Walsall Register Office gets very few requests for certificates for marriages of such antiquity, so it seems unlikely that loss of fee income could accrue - hardly surprising when most people would opt for getting the copy certificate online from the GRO in Southport, which costs less. 


A tale of the unexpected

“The entry for my grandmother Edith Ellen Ballantyne Perry, is incorrect.  It took 15 years for me to find out the truth about Edith.  My grandmother (who married Walter Henry Sawyer Fisher) was in fact Edith Alice Ballantyne.  It does say Edith Ellen on her marriage and death certificates, but falsely.  She was the real daughter of Kate and John Ballantyne, 8th October 1881 in Portsmouth, Hampshire.  Her mother, Kate Ballantyne (née Carter), left her family in Portsmouth and went to Uckfield in Sussex, where she married the Uckfield policeman, Robert John Baldwin, bigamously, on 26th August 1884.  The marriage certificate described her as a widow, when she was not.  John Ballantyne lived many years after and died in the Royal Hospital Chelsea.  Meanwhile my grandmother Edith was brought up by Ellen and Alfred Perry in the Christchurch, Hampshire, area.  They changed her middle name from Alice to Ellen.  Kate also left another child, Mercie Janette Ballantyne, who was brought up by her grandfather in Lymington.   I did track down Kate to Canada, whither she had emigrated with her husband John Baldwin in the early 1900s. They had  another two children between them.  It’s an amazing story of deceit.  I don’t know whether her policeman husband ever knew he had married someone who was already married and had a family !”  (From WFHC correspondent 197). 


The Elisha Whitehouse diaries

I mentioned these 1819 and 1825 diaries of Elisha Whitehouse, a prosperous Sedgley farmer, in the newsletter of 30th June 2009.  The story has moved on since correspondent 488 has very kindly sent me a disk containing scans of the diaries, which has enabled me to make a genealogical extract.  There is a poignant entry on 22nd October 1825, shortly after Elisha’s only surviving child, Ann, married a Dr. Waterhouse: “My Wife took my daughter Ann Waterhouse £100.0.0 and she says I have not done a Father’s part to her after laying out upwards of £500.0.0 in her education her has had £50.0.0 worth of goods out of the house her left me and got married 15 days above 19 years of age”.  Another entry in the diary enabled me to work out that I had wrongly joined Elisha’s tree to another one, so I had to disconnect it.  It also made me realise that if I had been a bit more diligent, I would have come to this conclusion without the aid of the diary, but, alas, shortage of time is a continual problem for me with these Whitehouse trees.


The Hexham parish register mystery

I was troubled when a fellow researcher consulted me about a register of baptisms in 1734 which contained the word “lest” followed by what seemed to be witnesses, perhaps godparents, as in “Margery daughter of Mrs Bowlton lest Mr Herbert Johnson, Mrs Carr &c” .  I sent an enquiry to the Tom Wood column in the magazine “Family Tree”, following which many readers said that it was “test”, short for “testator” or similar, the Latin for witness.  Incidentally, Parish registers were supposed to be written in English from 1733 onwards.


Chloe for short ?

Robert SMALLWOOD married Cleobulina TOY 4th July 1819 at Old Swinford St Mary.


Best wishes to all my readers,




Newsletter, 1st July 2012


I began the April newsletter on a glorious afternoon when our plum trees were all in blossom.  It had been a dry March and I pleaded for rain.  Well, we have had a huge amount of rain since then and very few plums.  Today, the residents’association held a hog roast.  Happily, the animal was well cooked before it rained again, but we stoical British put up our golfing umbrellas and gazebos, uncorked our wine and tucked into roast pork burgers.  It was such a good and long lunch that I did not progress this website update as fast as I should have done.  So here I am, starting this newsletter at 9.20 p.m.


Quarterly report

It has been a third busy quarter in a row.  Another big push at the 1911 census transcription project has seen estimated coverage of Whitehouse-containing households advance from 53 to 68 percent, including a few more counties and the addition of Dudley, Droitwich, Kidderminster and Worcester City Registration Districts.  Many thanks to Jayne Sandles (441) for her help with the last-mentioned item.  Although Dudley is in Worcestershire, its Registration District is officially considered to be in Staffordshire. Crazy ?  Not really, because it covers Tipton, Sedgley and Rowley Regis, all of which are Staffordshire towns whose combined population by far outnumbers that of Dudley.


The 1880 US census transcription work has advanced modestly, to cover the additional states of Arkansas, California and Kansas.    


Every quarter the GRO (England & Wales) marriage index for 1 July 1837 to the end of 1911 improves.  This last quarter many more Whitehouse marriages have been referenced with the correct husband or wife in the GRO M 1837-1911....  and very good contributions from Christopher Whitehouse (100) and Antoinette Betteridge (431) have improved the M Details.... file in Barrow-in-Furness and Derbyshire, respectively.  I am always grateful to correspondents who respond to my requests for scans of certificates of marriages which are not in this file.  You can tell which they are, because they have no letter “f” (stands for “full details”) against them in the GRO M 1837-1911.... file.  Those that take place in non-Anglican churches and Register Offices are especially welcome.


Christopher’s work included the marriage of a Whitehouse which appeared in the GRO index as Whitebourn, so that has been added to the list as “New 5”.


Once again, parish records have been another feature of the quarter, with Whitehouse marriages in the 1754-1837 period at Birmingham St Philip, Edgbaston, Harborne, Sedgley and Wednesbury added.  Coverage at Dudley and Kingswinford has been taken back to 1754.  Why 1754 ?  On 25th March the Hardwicke Marriage Act came into force, with the object of preventing clandestine marriages and as a result parish marriage registers were vastly improved. By the way, marriages in 1754 which took place before then are not covered by these 1754-1837 files.


Strenuous efforts have been made to advance project RADAP, by which I am computerising Whitehouse trees in my paper files, improving, referencing and archiving them.  I dealt with the files of 13 correspondents in the quarter, one, from someone now untraceable, was scrapped for containing insufficient information and so the total outstanding is now down to 16.  Progress would have been greater, but for time spent on improving existing computerised trees and the exceptional number of male children encountered.  There were just two new correspondents this quarter, who were allotted the numbers 256 and 535, the latter being the current total number of registered correspondents.


A refusal and more bigamy

“This lady is a suffragette and refuses to give me any information” (written against Evelyn Audrie Thomas in the 1911 census of 62 Winchester Street, Sherwood, Nottingham, where she was a visitor).  Margaret Emma Whitehouse, of the same household, had married James Somerville Paterson, a commercial traveller in Engineering Specialities.  The marriage was almost certainly bigamous on her part and her first husband, Erskine Leopold H. Harrop, probably also committed bigamy when he re-married in 1909.


The wrong Cornelius

I work to the standard of reasonable probability or "more probable than not", rather than "beyond all reasonable doubt".  This is the standard applied in civil law suits.  The reason that I have adopted it is that basically I am indexer and it is better to index an event and risk getting it wrong than not to index it at all.  I construct trees to try to achieve full and correct indexing.   An interesting situation was presented by the tree of the Kentucky Whitehouses (137, 394 & many others).  It is reasonably probable that the James Whitehouse who was a pioneer settler in Kentucky in the 1780s was the son of a Cornelius Whitehouse who married Ann Austin in London.  There is evidence to suggest that James was involved in a “mugging” in London and sentenced to be transported to America in 1774.  The marriage of Cornelius to Ann Austin took place in 1758 at St Luke’s church in Old Street (Finsbury, London), when Ann was only 16.  Some researchers in the United States have assumed that this Cornelius is the one born in Birmingham in 1741, presumably because they considered it a rare forename.  I have always felt that this was unlikely, as he would be only 16 at marriage and thus rather young to support a wife and because Cornelius is not a name of great rarity  - Dutch settlers of that name had been in England for hundreds of years before then.  So, I declined to incorporate him in my tree, as the idea failed my “reasonable probability” test.  Triggered by an e-mail from Jim Whitehouse (394), I investigated the Cornelius Whitehouses in Birmingham and concluded that they are of no proven relevance to the tree of James Whitehouse and in particular that the Cornelius Whitehouse born in 1741 cannot be the one who married Ann Austin.  It was the will of Cornelius’ sister that proved decisive.


Second name searching

I try to incorporate some useful general tips in these newsletters.  Here’s one that I used recently when working on Tree 257.  The 1901 census showed an Arthur Whitehouse born in Smethwick, aged 4, yet there seemed to be no birth registration for him.  A feature of the WFHC GRO Births Index is that one can search under a second forename.  This because the first and second forenames are listed in separate columns.  All I had to do was to save a copy of the Index and sort by second forename and then by OO (original order).  This revealed the birth of James Arthur Whitehouse in the first quarter of 1897 in the correct Registration District for Smethwick (which is Kings Norton).


A visit to the British Library

As many will know, I have a general rule of not pursuing female lines when working a tree forwards, that is to say towards more modern times.  However, from time to time, I make exceptions in order to clarify how a correspondent is descended.  I wanted to work on one such line which led to a Mr. E.A.Corbett, a correspondent believed now deceased.  All I had to go on was the E.A. initials and an address in 1984.  I did not know his age or his parentage.  I decided to search the electoral register.  Firstly, I worked out in which parliamentary constituency he was living at the time.  Constituency boundaries change, so accuracy in this respect was essential.  Off I went to the BL’s handsome building in Euston Road, armed with evidence of identity.  That proved essential to renew my time-expired reader’s ticket.  From the Humanities Department I ordered up two years of registers, which would take an hour to arrive.  They will hold them for up to 3 days.  I went away to do something else, returned later in the day and was easily able to find the man.  What illumination this brought, for the initial “E” stood for Edison !  Problem solved.  I linked him happily to Richard Corbett who had married twice, had 6 children by his first wife and 11 more by his second, Louisa Whitehouse. That makes 17 in all, astonishing, even for the mid-1800s.


Virtuous reward

While transcribing Whitehouse marriages at Edgbaston, I noticed when turning a page that “my” William Whitehouse and his wife Jane, whose maiden name was Spencer, were witnesses to the marriage of a Mary Spencer who must have been Jane's sister.  The interesting thing is that without embarking on this transcription work for the public benefit, it is most unlikely that I would have come upon this marriage by any simple means.


The Parish Register kept in a bank vault

My transcript of Whitehouse marriages at Wolverhampton St Peter lacks full details of three marriages in 1756 and February 1757.  They are not contained in the film made by the Latter Day Saints, which starts in March 1754 and ends in May 1757, there being a large gap between some date in 1754 or 1755 and May 1757.  There are no Bishop's Transcripts.  The Staffordshire Parish Register Society has made a transcript, but it does not include names of witnesses or show whether the parties signed or made a mark.   The Wolverhampton Archives' online index also lacks these details.  Enquiry at the Staffordshire Record Office revealed an amazing story:  the Register had never been filmed and had been kept in a bank vault because it contained the signature of one of the parties to the US Declaration of Independence, making it valuable.  This state of affairs seemed to me lamentable, because it would be amazing if the bank were complying with the requirements of Schedule 2 of the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 relating to the permissible temperature and humidity of the safe or muniment room in which the registers are kept and the requirement to record readings at least once a week.  Using my enquiry to show public demand, the head of the Staffordshire Record Office has been able successfully to arrange the deposit of this register with them.  They are going to film it when resources permit and meanwhile have very kindly said that they will transcribe the missing details of the marriages for me - a wonderful result.



“An original idea ?  That shouldn’t be too hard.  The library must be full of them.”  (Quotation from the humorist Stephen Fry displayed in the British Library precinct).


Time to sign off, as it’s midnight, but before doing so I want to thank publicly Gary Jorgensen (362 & 414) who has taken on the job of checking my links when I update the website.

Best wishes,



Newsletter, 2nd April 2012


It’s a glorious afternoon here, 12  miles south of London, with the sun shining and our three plum trees all in blossom at the same time, which is most unusual.  We have a Rivers Early Prolific, an unidentified plum, rather like a Tsar, which came with the house and crops incredibly heavily and a Victoria.  You seldom see “Early Rivers” in the shops, probably because the fruit is smaller than most plums and not sweet enough to eat raw unless really ripe, but it has a wonderful flavour when stewed or made into jam.  Actually, we need rain, fairly desperately and I need to get on with this newsletter...


Quarterly report

This last quarter has been just as busy as the one before.  The big effort on computerising trees last autumn has had a knock-on effect, as I have been busy making amendments to them in the light of further information.  However, my main activity has been to improve trees and records that involve the Cannock area.  The villages of Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley, both near Cannock, probably had the highest density of Whitehouses anywhere in the world in the mid 1800s.  My own surname frequency study found the name to be as “common” there as Smith and Jones are in the whole of England and Wales. 


As to trees, I am especially grateful to David F. Whitehouse (WFHC 149), another assiduous researcher, who enabled me to connect his tree via various female lines to several others.  As to records, I have extended the 1891 census transcript to cover Cannock town, Brewood, Bushbury, Coven Heath and Lapley.  It has thus grown by 50 percent.  I have also improved the referencing with WFHC correspondent numbers.  The 1911 transcript covers the whole of Cannock Registration District (over 530 Whitehouses).  Parish records coverage includes Cannock marriages and burials.  The burials records include those from churches and cemeteries.  I thank Sue Challenger (WFHC 229) for her contributions of cemetery records, which she extracted from work done by Pat Everiss and Carol Adshead.  Other significant contributions have come from David F. Whitehouse, mentioned above, and from Jake Whitehouse (WFHC 003).  I also thank Sue and David for pointing out errors in my draft schedule.  Additionally, I have transcribed Whitehouses in the early Methodist baptism registers of Cheslyn Hay, finding several errors in other sources.


Turning to the wider picture, I made a big late assault on the 1911 census (England & Wales) transcription project, which has grown by a third, reaching about 53% of theoretical full coverage.  Here I was helped, once again, by Jayne Sandles (WFHC 441), who completed the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, so very many thanks to her.  Such contributions are worth more than their face value, because of the encouragement they give me.


Parish records have been another feature of the quarter, with Whitehouse marriages at Rowley Regis, Walsall and Wolverhampton from 1754 to 1837 being put on spreadsheet. Existing transcripts, such as those made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and  the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry (BMSGH), are wonderful as indexes, but lack witnesses. Occasionally, the witnesses at a marriage give vital clues, which is where my transcripts can bring added value.


At this juncture, I must thank Steve Whitehouse (WFHC 240), who has given the data processing people at the LDS in Salt Lake City a nudge about the delay in putting Aston parish marriages into the new Family Search, while at the same time withdrawing of the facility to search by batch number in the old Family Search.  They are now searchable in the new version, so I am hoping to work on Aston in the next quarter.


Progress with computerising trees has been difficult this quarter, but I have completed another 7 and the total outstanding is down to 30.  There have been 5 new registrations.


I am still seeking help with transcribing the 1880 US census.  Indeed, practically any offer of help with anything is likely to be gratefully received !


Wanted, alive

Correspondent 222, Don Whitehouse's last known address is 6 Wasdale Place, Bomaderry, NSW 2541, Australia.  An e-mail to him bounced and I do not have a telephone number.  I have sent him an airmail letter, but am not hopeful that this will find him as he is not in the Australian 'phone book at this address.


A spooky story

Fanny Whitehouse, born 1866, married Gerard Collier in June 1889 at the Cannock Registry Office.  Their eldest child, Fanny, born in 1890, became interested in spirtualism at an early age.  The story goes that when she was 14, she was attending a spiritualist meeting with her aunt, when the medium told her that her mother, whom Fanny had seen only an hour previously, had just died.  Fanny rushed home in tears, to discover that she had indeed.  This took place in the Longton (Staffordshire Potteries) area, but there is no death registration that fits these facts.  Fanny was one of a family of 8 children and as Gerard was a coal miner, there would have been little money to spend on his wife’s burial.  Perhaps the death was never registered, although this would be unusual in the 20th century.  If so, one would expect Fanny the elder to have been buried at Longton Cemetery, but no one has so far produced any evidence to show that she died.  Certainly, she is with the family on the 1901 census and not with them on the 1911 one.  In the absence of such evidence, I prefer a more earthly explanation for these events, which I will leave to the imagination of readers.


One of the Collier family was Beatrice, born in the 4th quarter of 1885.  She was registered as Beatrice M.G.S.R.A.M.A.A.  Surely, it must be worth buying the certificate !


A grim story

E-mail received by one of my correspondents (WFHC 482) and passed on to me:

“I've recently purchased a very interesting book called 'A grim almanac of Lancashire' which has a small story for each day of the year. Most of the stories are from the 19th century and one concerns a young girl called Charlotte Whitehouse and from looking at the censuses, appears to be the one in your tree.  The story goes as follows -

13th June, 1895 – At the Police Court at Leigh, 16 year old Charlotte Whitehouse of Robertshaw Street, Leigh was charged and committed for trial for the manslaughter of her 9 year old brother Thomas William.  Charlotte's mother and sister stated that when Charlotte had come home on Friday, her mother had beaten her with a sweeping brush, upon which the prisoner had kicked over a paraffin lamp. This had exploded and burnt her brother so badly that he died the following Saturday.


The Bench thought that it was a weak case, and in fact, the Grand Jury at the Liverpool Assizes threw out the case in July of that year.”


A troublesome marriage certificate

“I checked the Bishop's Transcript for the marriage of Mary Whitehouse to John Cartmail on 8th July 1838 at Walsall St. Matthew and found that the second witness' name is shown unmistakeably clearly as Jane White.  You will recollect that your certificate obtained from the GRO says John White.  Both of these documents are mere copies.  The GRO certificate is taken from a copy made by the church and sent to the GRO, while the Bishop's Transcript is also made by the church, and sent to the Bishop.  There should be two original registers that the parties sign when in the church, one of which, most regrettably, is still with the church (rather than in an archive) and the other of which is with the Walsall Registrar.   The man at Walsall St Matthew who made the transcript for me [for a fee] is in Australia and will not be returning until the middle of this month and even then, there is no guarantee that he will be willing to inspect the register again, for no fee.”  (From my e-mail to a correspondent...  ...and the GRO indexed the groom as Curtmail !)


Just in time

The 1891 census of Bushbury shows a daughter born to Frederick and Mary Whitehouse, just one and a half hours old.  They hadn’t got round to naming her.


A poet for a season ?

Married at All Saints Church, Upper Norwood, on 28th November 1911

Percy Shelley BYSSHE, aged 26, fruit grower, to Katie Muriel CHRISTMAS, aged 29.


(The poet Percy Bysshe SHELLEY, born in 1792, takes the middle forename from the marriage of his great-grandfather in the 1600s).


Best wishes,



Newsletter, 1st January 2012


It’s 12.30 p.m. GMT on New Year’s Day.  The updated and new files are all ready to be launched and I’m ready to be lunched, having had breakfast at 7 a.m.  However, I shall start the newsletter, always the nicest of my tasks at the quarterly website update.  I hope that all is well with you and your family and wish you as happy a New Year as possible in these challenging times.


Quarterly report

This last quarter I have made a huge effort on the RADAP project, computerising the trees of 29 correspondents, making a total of 52 for the year.  There remain just 35 trees, belonging to 38 correspondents, still in the paper files.  [Correction, 2nd April 2012:  This should have read “37 trees, belonging to 40 correspondents..”] Among the trees completed this quarter is the massive one generated mainly by correspondent 100, but shared by three others.  It runs to 23 pages and is the second biggest in my collection.  Correspondent 100 (Christopher Whitehouse) is a most assiduous researcher, who has extended his tree collaterally and who deserves particular thanks, because of the extensive referencing of censuses and marriages that he has generated.


The Special Registration Day for Kentucky Whitehouses took place on 9th October, as announced.  Four new correspondents (394 and 526-528) were attached to tree 137 etc., making 14 in all.  It now runs to 74 pages.  Another correspondent (529), with a separate tree, was also registered.


Two researchers have been kind enough to thank me for the Marriage Details file, which can be sorted by the names of the fathers.  I have commented in the October newsletter on its coverage.  Since then, it has made a modest advance and in this connection I thank correspondent 141, 145 for extracting two marriages for me from the Gloucester Record Office.


The US 1880 Census referencing project has made further progress, 8 states being added.  The state of Iowa has joined Indiana and Kentucky in the 1870 file.


A new record launched this quarter is the Dudley cemeteries file covering burials from 1887 to 1960, which can be accessed via the BMD EXPLANATIONS document.


Transcription of the 1911 census has made only slow progress this last quarter.  I am a big fan of Findmypast, reckoning that their indexing is a lot better than Ancestry’s.  It is sad to report, therefore, that they do commit transcription errors.  Two rather bad surname ones were found when referencing the tree of correspondent 100, namely Whitechurch and Whitchner.


During the quarter I reviewed 10 years of progress since 10th October 2001, when I had to stop accepting new registrations, and wrote a paper for the Journal of One-name Studies, which has been published in the Jan-Mar 2012 issue.  I have provided a link on the index page of this website.


Keen readers of this website will notice that the “Lost Contact” file has been removed.  It has been a big failure, having failed to generate a single response.


Another change just made concerns Registration.  I am now in so much better a position that I want to encourage more people to register with the WFHC.  I have therefore done away with the Registration document, which some might find off-putting.  It has been replaced by a short section in the Index page.


Help wanted

I still hope to get some more help with the 1880 US census.  It’s pretty easy work and it’s a shame that no one in the States has volunteered their services.


I have a couple of other projects which would be very suitable for doing at home or on a public computer terminal.  One is to extract details of Whitehouses who entered the States via the Castle Garden Center (1855-1890).  The other is to carry out a pilot study on extracting Whitehouse information from The London Gazette, which contains fascinating information about bankruptcies, amongst other things.  In both cases, the websites are free to access. 


A new Family search service

I am grateful to Steven Whitehouse (WFHC 240) for the following:

“Thank you for all you have done to document and research Whitehouse family history. I just wanted to let you know about this website as it is fairly new and largely unknown to the public.

You should know that there are actually two websites provided by the Church, one is a revamped "www.familysearch.org" which you are probably familiar with. The other one is named "new.familysearch.org" and is one that has not yet been publicized to the public in general. It has only just recently been opened to the general public and is quite different than www.familysearch.org.

FamilySearch.org is largely a repository of general unlinked records with an indexed search engine.  New.familysearch.org is a website that is a collaborative tree where records are archived and linked together in a  format that allows users to share conclusions and to document artefacts.  The documentation tools are a work in process and will in the future allow users to actually provide images of sources or links to internet providers of artefact images”.


The General Register Office (England & Wales) indexes

A recent press release advised that the following libraries hold a complete set of GRO indexes including those for more recent events:
Birmingham Central Library
Bridgend (South Wales) Local and Family History Centre
City of Westminster Archives Centre
Manchester City Library
Newcastle City Library
Plymouth Central Library
The British Library


This was interesting news, because the City of Westminster has rather nice archive facilities, down a side street near the Houses of Parliament, which is fairly easy for me to visit.


It took them 35 years to marry

While reviewing correspondent 100’s tree, I discovered that a couple living together at the 1901 census did not marry until 1935.  Perhaps they had to wait until the woman’s husband died.  This must be a record for a “late” marriage, unless someone out there knows better...


Genealogy tip comes unstuck

One of my tips for those who hit a brick wall is to search for a second marriage of an ancestor whose first marriage preceded civil registration.  The purpose of this is to find the name of the father.  I applied my own tip to Thomas Whitehouse, a coal merchant in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, who had married for the first time in 1834 and re-married.  Unfortunately, he re-married twice and the marriage details gave different fathers !


The bare-knuckle fighter and the famous Whitehouse

Someone asked me not so long ago about a Whitehouse who was a bare-knuckle fighter and I had to reply that I had never heard of such a person.  Well, now I have, after computerising Tree 087 306 320.  He was Tom Whitehouse, who took the middle forename Salmon, from his grandmother, Jane Whitehouse, née Salmon, and was one of a family of china and earthenware dealers and fruiterers in the town of Warwick.  His daughter Beatrice married a black man, by whom she had five children including the famous boxer Randolph (“Randy”) Turpin.  Randy enjoyed three months of fame in 1951 when he beat Sugar Ray Robinson to take the world middleweight title.  After several business failures, he shot himself and died at the age of 37 in 1966.  Randy was legitimate, but my brief investigation showed that his elder brother, Dick, himself a British & Commonwealth middleweight champion boxer, was not.  He was born out of wedlock by the 16-year old Beatrice as Lionel C T Whitehouse, a matter on which the on-line biographies that I have read were silent.  So, thanks to the practice of giving an illegitimate child the mother’s surname, we have another famous Whitehouse.  No doubt the 3rd initial “T” stands for Turpin and “Dick” would be the obvious nickname, after the highwayman.  Beatrice was only 17 when she married in 1921.


A mysterious change of name

Tree 087 306 320 has another interesting feature. Rhoda Whitehouse (1855-1924) married Francis Barnes and they and their children are well documented.  On the 1901 census the family, unquestionably the same, appears under the surname Dawson.  Family lore has it that Francis was a gambler and it is speculated that he changed their name to avoid being pursued for gambling debts.


Did he come down the chimney ?

This quarter’s tailpiece has been contributed by Christopher Whitehouse above-mentioned.   Francis Whitehouse, a chimney sweep, died in 1886 at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, aged 62.  The cause of death, per coroner’s inquest, was entered on the death certificate as “Visitation of God”.

Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 6th October 2011

A bad start

The current quarter has got off to a bad start, as I have a serious computer malfunction, in which Windows froze and afterwards refused to open Internet Explorer and several other programs.  The problem is not yet resolved, so access to the web and to e-mails is difficult at the moment.  It occurred during the preparation of files for the website updating and has distracted me from it, which partly explains its lateness.


Quarterly report

In the last quarter I have been very busy, concentrating on upgrading my indexes of Whitehouse marriages in England & Wales for 1837 Q3 to 1911.  The basic index (GRO M 1837-1911 ....) contains 8913 lines of entry and after 33 duplicates and deletions are removed, there are 8800 marriages.  I am very pleased to report that the WFHC now has the full details of 6692, which is 76 percent.  A further 14 marriages have partial details, including father’s name, date and place, while another 5 have a smaller amount of detail.  A big problem over the years has been the lack of cross-referencing in the General Register Office (GRO) index, so I am further delighted to say that the number of Whitehouse marriages with the spouse’s name added has reached 7920, which is 90 percent.  This total includes 1209 marriages with no detail, but with the spouse’s name and, among these, 149 also have an exact date.  All these statistics count the 59 known Whitehouse-Whitehouse marriages twice.


Apart from the increases in numbers, I have made a major change to the Marriage Details indexes, by combining those for the West Midlands, London area and all other places into a single file.  The combined file is called “M Details ...” and is massive, weighing in at 3.85 MB, 13926 lines of entry and printable to 262 pages of landscape A4.  A thorough reconciliation of the GRO M 1837-1911 ... and M Details ... files has been carried out, so that all marriages designated “f” (full details), “p” (partial details that include the father’s name, where given) and “s” (some extra information, but less than the partial category) in GRO M 1837-1911 ... can be found in the M Details file.  It is best to use the Universal Number (UN) to locate the details.  I remind everyone that a big strength of the M Details file is the ability to sort by the fathers’ surnames and forenames.


I am greatly indebted to Ian Preece (Guild of One-Name Studies) for extracting some 75 or so Whitehouse marriages in Stourbridge Registration District and I thank also Christopher Whitehouse (WFHC 100) for contributing 20 certificates, some of which relate to marriages in non-Anglican churches.  I particularly liked the “Reformed Episcopalian Church of England” in Warrington, which was new to me.


The GRO (England & Wales) births and deaths indexes have undergone some “cosmetic” changes and, as the information contained in them is the same, I have not re-dated them.


It is hardly surprising to report that less progress has been made elsewhere with the records, but I thank Jayne Sandles (WFHC 441), yet again, for her work on the 1911 census of Essex, which has kept this project going forward.


The trees of 6 more correspondents have been computerised, mostly after extensive work on my part to include collateral lines.  Three new correspondents have been registered (WFHC references 282, 324, 376, these being vacated old numbers).


Postal addresses

From time to time, I have been asked why I want a postal address in order to register someone.  Postal addresses continue to be an important means for me of identifying people.  E-mail addresses change and few people think to tell me.  In order to get in touch, I try their telephone number.  If that fails, I use the postal address to verify the telephone number or lack of one.  After that, I try “Google”.  If all that fails, I write to them at their last known postal address.  If I receive no reply, I enter them in the register as "lost contact".


The provision of a postal address also means that the correspondent is not "anonymous".  This is an important safeguard which encourages the provision of accurate family information, since there is a definite means of contacting him or her.


There’s also the issue of whether he or she can access records easily.  Sometimes, I am able to help by finding particular entries in parish registers using resources in London.


Lost in translation

While I was in the Family History Centre in August, a fellow researcher was asking about some curious entries in the Hexham baptism register of 1734.   The register appeared to give the names of godparents, preceded by the word “lost” or “lest”.  A Latin abbreviation ?  A local name for a surety ?  In the baptism service, the godparents stand as sureties for the child, but the service contains no word “lest”.  Suggestions welcome: here is a sample page:  [removed 26 April 2020]


No sh*t !

It took me a long time to find the family of Edward Whitehouse, a 54-year old iron-worker, on the 1891 census.  Ancestry had indexed the surname as Shitcharce.


Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 2nd July 2011

Ever more thanks

I remain deeply grateful to all of you who make time to help me create these Whitehouse records.  By doing so, you have put something back into the genealogical community, particularly in the West Midlands, where the Whitehouse name is so frequent.


Again, I must start with Brian Morris (WFHC 518), who has contributed greatly to Cannock Registration District marriages, bringing this part of the West Midlands Marriage Details Project to completion.  His contribution has been immense.  Another thankee is Jenny Taylor (WFHC 501) who visited Bushbury St Mary to extract a 1908 marriage from a register which is kept at the church and has also filled in gaps in the details of three other marriages.   Mike Caladine (WFHC 510) has kindly sent me some CDs that he no longer requires and I shall be using these as the basis for building some new databases of parish register extracts.  Another contribution arrived in the form of an article from “Staffordshire Newsletter” referring to the Jabez and Josiah James Whitehouse families of builders.  I am grateful to David Whitehouse (WFHC 524), a descendant, for this.   Dave Whitehouse (WFHC 512) has done a tremendous job in putting the 1880 census of New Hampshire onto Excel:  New Hampshire is the second largest US state for Whitehouses.


A classic exercise in genealogy

New correspondent 523 has been connected to existing Tree 016 405, which is the Birmingham Cab Proprietors tree.  Making the connection has been a “classic” exercise, involving the following features:

(a) no baptism found for 523’s ancestor, Elizabeth Whitehouse, yet her siblings were all baptised (in a different parish)

(b) valuable clues obtained from witnesses in the Handsworth St Mary marriage registers (transcribed and put on this website)

(c) comparison of signatures in the original marriage registers (witness in one marriage and the party marrying in another)

(d) one of 523’s children was baptised in a Methodist chapel, which at that time (1835) recorded the names of the mother’s parents

(e) extensively repeated, less common, forenames, Abraham, Cornelius and Ruth, in many branches of the large tree, down the generations

(f)  first cousins marrying other parties in two adjacently entered marriages on the same day and at the same church

(g) addresses given at baptisms showing that the family moved from one parish to another

(h) two married sisters having their children baptised on the same day and at a different parish from the one in which they lived

(i)  two Whitehouses proved to be brothers by Letters of  Administration taken out when one died


The connection, a joint operation between me and 523, had an important result for the original correspondents 016 and 405, as the Methodist baptism provided much stronger proof of their ancestry than had been obtained previously.  It all adds up to this: firstly, always pursue the collateral lines, that is to say the siblings of those in your direct line, working backwards if possible, but forwards in time as well and secondly, make sure that you keep your e-address up to date, as correspondents 016 and 405 did.


He married his first wife’s niece

One aspect of  the tree of the Birmingham metal rollers (012 etc) relates to Thomas Whitehouse born in 1812 and his brother, James Whitehouse, the pistol finisher born in 1814.  When I reached WFHC correspondent 297 in the ongoing digitisation programme, a remarkable story emerged.  Briefly, Thomas Whitehouse separated from his wife Ann, nee Abley, or maybe she died, in the early 1850s, after the 1851 census.  He took up with Cecelia Ann Potter and they had or acquired two children (the first might not have been his) and they sailed to Melbourne and on to Hobart in 1861.  At some point, they returned to England and appear on the 1871 census, but emigrated to the US in 1873, where they appear on the 1880 US census.  They died shortly afterwards, but their son Arthur continued the line.  Cecelia Ann Potter was  the daughter of Hannah Maria Abley, the elder sister of the above-mentioned Ann Abley.  In other words, Thomas Whitehouse "married" his first wife's niece.


That is not all.  Information from New Zealand via correspondent 297 has revealed that a Catherine Whitehouse aged 2 on the 1841 census and 12 on the 1851 census, with her grandfather Thomas and uncle Thomas, was James’ daughter.  She sailed with the Whitehouse and Potter families in 1861.  In about 1865, Albert Potter, a brother of Cecelia Ann Potter, deserted his Tasmanian wife and took Catherine with him to New Zealand.  Albert had a controversial life in which he turned his hand to many trades.


Progress report 

There have been some big leaps forward in the records this quarter. 


The Marriage Details project has made further progress.  It is now complete for all Anglican churches in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, in the period 1st July 1837-1911, except for 6 marriages in Coventry and Foleshill, the Stourbridge RD marriages being extracted by my Guild of One-name Studies colleague Ian Preece, three marriages at Rocester (near Uttoxeter, North Staffs), 12 marriages at Darlaston All Saints, for which the church registers have been destroyed and 4 marriages at Walsall St Matthew in 1838-39, where the only registers currently available are Bishop’s Transcripts in the old style.


The 1911 census transcription has advanced  from 4174 to 6639 lines.


There was a glitch in the previous 1880 US census file, in which some entries for New York were duplicated or triplicated, thus somewhat obscuring the effect of the addition of New Hampshire, which, however, has given a huge boost to overall coverage.


Three new correspondents have been registered this quarter (WFHC 523 to 525) and the trees of 11 existing ones digitised.  I have been tackling the remnants of my bundle of papers relating to correspondents with only a peripheral interest in a Whitehouse.  Four were removed from the register, because their connection  was too flimsy.


The WFHC & money

The Whitehouse Family History Centre has always been a charitable type of venture.  My services have always been given freely and there is no intention to make any charges.  Since the WFHC has no income, it makes no profit:  indeed, it runs at a loss, since I have had to make many trips from my home 12 miles south of London up to the West Midlands and have spent on the occasional marriage certificate to plug a hole in WFHC records.  My collection of  wills and administrations has been another significant loss-making element, as many were obtained by post from the various diocesan archives.  Minor expenditure is incurred when I lose track of a correspondent because an e-mail bounces and I cannot find a ‘phone number  In these circumstances, I send a letter asking him or her to get in touch with me.


Try transcribing this

In the 1911 census of Wigan Registration District, there is an Elyben Whitehouse aged 3, born in Wigan. “Elyben” is what it looks like and is the transcription made by FindMyPast.  There is probably no such forename and certainly no birth registration in that name.  The solution to this conundrum became evident only after sorting the WFHC’s GRO B 1837-1911 database by Registration District.  The top part of the letter “b” in “Elyben” can be read as a flourish upstroke of the “y”,  whereupon “Elyben” looks more like “Elyven”, an attempt at Evelyn, whose birth is indeed registered in Wigan Registration District in 1908 !


Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 6th April 2011

Still more thanks

I am so very grateful to those who volunteer some help.  Just small amounts can save me heaps of time, which can then be devoted to completing other records tasks.  Quite apart from the practical value, it raises my morale.


I must start with Brian Morris (WFHC 518), who has made a big contribution to Cannock Registration District marriages.  Also contributing significantly to this project was Jill Beckett (WFHC 490), who extracted 32 Cannock and Hednesford ones for me.  Cannock RD includes the villages of Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley, where the name Whitehouse was, and maybe still is, as frequent as Smith and Jones.  Brian Morris has also been working on the Potteries RDs of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke-upon-Trent and Wolstanton Registration Districts.  His support for the marriage details project has therefore been massive.


The last of the Anglican marriages missing from the Wolverhampton file have been copied by Sylvia Peers, a fellow-member of the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry (BMSGH).  Joan Morganti (WFHC 496), who has already provided great assistance, has extracted the details of non-Anglican marriages in Wolverhampton and, even more valuably, has visited Hatherton St Saviour (Cannock RD) to extract marriages from a register held by the church.


My progress with Walsall area marriages has been limited by the non-availability in London of most of the registers of the old parish church of St Matthew during the 1837Q3 to 1911 period, so I was very glad of the help provided by Laraine Preece (WFHC 420).


Rural Warwickshire has been problematic, because of the large number of country churches, but I have been helped by several people making small but highly valued contributions.  Thus, Barbara Biddle (BMSGH), kindly went to the Leicestershire Record Office for me to check on some of the marriages in Atherstone Registration District.  Atherstone is in the east of Warwickshire close to the county boundary, so its RD covers parts of Leicestershire.  Jayne Sandles (WFHC 441) helped with a marriage at Polesworth.  In Stratford RD, I was rescued by the Warwickshire Record Office who looked up a wedding that I managed to pinpoint to Wellesbourne.  The problems in Nuneaton RD were a little more complicated, but I was fortunate to get highly competent assistance from Mark Thursfield, who, like me, is a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies. 


The Worcestershire village of Inkberrow falls within Alcester RD, a Warwickshire Registration District, and here I was helped by another contribution from Netta Hughes (WFHC 172), who also tidied up some “loose ends” in Droitwich RD and the City of Worcester.  The parish of Quinton is a mere 5 miles from the centre of Birmingham, but, quirkily, formed part of Stourbridge RD, having been split off from Halesowen parish.  Although I had previously extracted the Whitehouse marriages there, checking of my database revealed one more, so I was grateful to David Fall, another member of the Guild of One-Name Studies for help with that at the Birmingham Library.  I did some work for him in return.  Also, Lindsey Crompton (WFHC 237) checked some details for me in the Birmingham Library.

Ian Preece (Guild of One-Name Studies) has been another tower of strength, extracting four marriages in rural Worcestershire, suggesting where to find another one and helping in other ways.  Sonja Smith (BMSGH) very kindly found a marriage at the village of Brimfield (Herefordshire) in the Worcestershire Registration District of Tenbury and helped with some other Herefordshire marriages as well.


Jayne Sandles, above, is also responsible for giving the 1911 census programme a boost, when she transcribed Northamptonshire, so many thanks to her.  She has just finished Leicestershire as well and that will be added shortly.  Sue Hendrie, a new correspondent (WFHC 522), has kindly helped with me a query on the 1911 census in relation to another tree.


Last, but not least, comes Dave Whitehouse (WFHC 512), who has transcribed Whitehouses from the 1880 US census of Massachusetts.


I just hope that I have not left anyone out.


Progress report

During this quarter, I have welcomed three new correspondents, WFHC 520 to 522, and have digitised the trees of 6 existing correspondents.


Last quarter’s newsletter announced an all-out attack on marriage details. “Marriage details” means all the essential details that are seen on a marriage certificate.  Progress has been truly staggering.  I have been working on films in London and making several visits to the Stafford Record Office.  On one of them, I met Brian Morris (above), who has made such a big contribution.  Others have played useful parts, too.  The result of all this activity is that I am cautiously optimistic of completing the marriage details of all Whitehouses who married in Anglican churches in Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire and for which the church registers are in existence.  There is still some way to go, but this target should be achievable by the end of the year.  With this goal firmly in mind, I have amalgamated all the marriage details files that are complete or nearly complete for all Anglican churches in these counties and created a massive M Det W MIDS RDs file, which currently weighs in at over 3MB and covers 5556 marriages in total, including full details for over 4900.  It’s been quite a problem with the frequent name of Whitehouse that the databases are large.  As broadband usage and computing power have grown, I have gradually combined databases so as to create bigger ones that offer better searching possibilities.


In the last newsletter, I introduced a new noun into the English language:  thankee - a person who is thanked.  This quarter, it’s a new verb: to deglitch.  The big M Det W MIDS RDs file needed a lot of deglitching.  It was a bit worrying when I found that more men had married than women.  The explanation was not polygamy, but a glitch in which I had entered two women as men.  There were many others.  I don’t suppose that I have removed them all, so if you find something inconsistent or even downright wrong, please take the trouble to let me know.


Towards the end of last year I was frustrated in wanting to extract 11 Whitehouse marriages at Wolverhampton at All Saints and St George.  The All Saints marriage registers were not at the Staffordshire Record Office and had been thought by the SRO to have been destroyed in a fire there in 1984.  Upon enquiry, I learned that the vicar had found the registers last October, when a safe was forced open and was going to send them to the local Registrar.  This was entirely the wrong place, as the Registrar already had one set of the registers.  Anyhow, I persuaded the vicar to deposit them at the SRO.  For St George, there was just the one missing register, covering 1865-1871, and here also I intervened, with the result that the Wolverhampton Registrar made a copy, which has been placed in the Wolverhampton Archives.  This had the excellent result that the Archives will be able to plug a hole in their index of marriages up to 1875.  Wolverhampton is now complete for all Anglican churches, but there remains a Roman Catholic marriage to be extracted.  It has been really pleasing that the rather narrow pursuit of Whitehouse genealogy has resulted in this broader benefit to those with Wolverhampton ancestors.


Work is in progress on the remaining 6 registration districts - the Potteries ones, Stourbridge (where I am awaiting results from a fellow member of the Guild of One-name Studies), Stafford and Walsall.  In Walsall RD, I have encountered several major obstacles to progress.  The biggest of them concerns Darlaston All Saints church, which was flattened in a ww2 bombing raid, resulting in destruction of its registers.  I have asked the Walsall Registrar to copy the ones that run from the consecration of the church in the late 1800s up to 1911.  Initially I met with a refusal on legal grounds, which is rather surprising, considering that the Wolverhampton Registrar copied a register.  However, I hope that she will change her mind, as there are 13 Whitehouse marriages at this church to be either extracted or checked.  Another impediment arose at Walsall St Matthew.  It looks as though this church did not keep duplicate registers in its earliest years after civil registration began, as only Bishop’s Transcripts, written in the old style of marriage book, are available.  This has resulted in my being unable to get full information for 4 Whitehouse marriages there.


The Walsall problems have set me onto looking at the 1949 Marriage Act, which is still the basic legislation under which the present system of obtaining certificates from a local registrar or from the General Register Office operates, but I think I’ll defer sharing with you my ruminations until later this year, as this newsletter is already running late. 


Progress has been made on other fronts.  In particular, the 1911 census has advanced.   I have completed Warwickshire, which is the second biggest county in terms of Whitehouse names, while Jayne Sandles has done Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.  There are now 4174 lines of entry (up from 3743 at the turn of the year).  If you have access to FindmyPast, please contact me if you can help by doing (say) 100 Whitehouses, which usually amounts to about 150 lines of entry.


The Apprentices index, which can be accessed through the MISC EXPLANATIONS file, has been re-worked and some entries added.  There are over 120 Whitehouse entries, as apprentices and masters.


Indexing of Whitehouses in the 1880 US census has made pleasing progress, with Massachusetts and New York State completed.  This work has remained in the background, owing to priority being given to the England & Wales marriage details index, but it is hoped to keep it moving along this year.  If you can type in an Excel spreadsheet and have access to the Ancestry database, please offer to help. 


I got rid of a Whitehouse !

I was having trouble locating the church at which Ruth Ann Whitehouse married in 1875 in Hereford Registration District.  The GRO had indexed her marriage under both Whitehouse and Whitehorne.  Which was it ?  I tried to discover the church, but my alphabetically-based “Marriage Mining” method seemed to have let me down.  Sonja Smith (above-mentioned) and the Hereford Record Office found it under Whitehorne and that it had taken place at the village of Much Birch, a few miles south of the City of Hereford.   The GRO clerks had fooled me by indexing it under the letter “B” for Birch, Much.  One of the minor problems of the marriage details work has been country churches that are still holding on to their register, which is probably the same one as when the church was consecrated and so started to perform marriages.  Much Birch was an example.  However, some digging in the censuses showed very clearly that the name was originally Whitehorn.  So, Ruth Ann has been struck off the marriages list and I did not have to find someone to visit the church, thank goodness.


Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 1st January 2011

A happy New Year to all readers of this website.


More thanks

I thought that I had just invented a new word - “thankees” = people who are thanked.  I put it into “Google” and found that a few people are using it instead of in the sense of “thankies”, instead of  “thanks”.  My biggest thankee this quarter and possibly for the last 5 years is Adrian Loker (WFHC correspondent 141 and 145 - he has  two Whitehouse trees).   He doesn’t live in the West Midlands, but was kind enough to do two and a half days work at the Stafford Record Office on Wolverhampton marriages.  I was so buoyed up by this supremely kind and generous effort that I matched his time there, with the result that the Wolverhampton Registration District Marriage Details index is nearly complete, as far as it can be taken.


Smaller contributions can also make a big difference.  Thus, Antoinette Betteridge (WFHC 431) visited the Derbyshire Record Office at Matlock, to finish off the Burton-upon-Trent Marriage Details index for me.  Burton is just in Staffordshire, but the Registration District covers places in Derbyshire.  For foreign readers who have never visited Matlock, it is a small town sitting in a valley by a river and surrounded in part by the rugged rock cliffs of the Derbyshire hills - very scenic, as so many parts of England are.  Good citizens of the USA, please come and spend your dollars here now that exchange rates are so favourable, as our economy needs you.


Fay Summerfield (WFHC 028), a very long-standing correspondent, enabled me to finish the Bromsgrove RD Marriage Details index, by visiting a church which has held on to its registers.  Carol Ravenhall (WFHC 280) also helped me, with a look-up in Birmingham Library.


Karen Burnell (Guild of One-Name Studies) again kindly stepped in when I had a problem in Solihull RD Marriage Details Index, which is nearly finished as I write this.


I must also thank Brian Morris (WFHC 518) who has made a start on Cannock marriages and the Warwick Record Office staff who have kindly helped me with a couple of marriages that I could pin down to specific churches.


Progress report

During this quarter, I have welcomed two new correspondents, WFHC 518 and 519, which brings the total for the year to 7, a manageable number.  This compares with 39 in 2009 and 34 in 2008.  Ideally, I would like to register about 12 new people a year.  On this subject, I revert to the Kentucky Whitehouses (from James Whitehouse, the pioneer settler), for whom I have a vast tree running to over 60 pages (WFHC 137 etc).  There are at least two potential new correspondents here and I have decided to register them in October 2011 and it would save my time if anyone else who wants to register in this connection would contact me before then.  Adjusting the references for this huge tree is no small task and this will probably be the last time that I shall undertake such an operation.


The reduced level of new registrations has enabled me to make reasonable progress in putting onto computer more of my existing stock of trees.  This quarter, I dealt with the trees of 11 previous correspondents, making a total of 29 for the year (target = 25).  This means that there are just under a hundred left to do.


During the year, I re-assessed my priorities in relation to creating new records and decided to launch an all-out attack on marriage details.  “Marriage details” means all the essential details that are seen on a marriage certificate.  The main aim is to complete them for all Anglican churches in a large part of the West Midlands, where the Whitehouses are most concentrated, from Worcester in the south west, taking in the “Black Country” and Birmingham, via Lichfield to Burton-upon-Trent in the north east, areas of Warwickshire south and south-west of Birmingham (Kings Norton, Alcester Meriden and Solihull), and extending north to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Cannock.  This seemed a very distant hope at the beginning of 2010 and now looks achievable if I can get a little help.  Cannock (including Penkridge, its predecessor) is under way, but needs help.  Walsall is beginning in a small way and needs help.  Just a few hours will be very, very, welcome.  Stourbridge is two thirds complete, but help is at hand.   These three are the major works in progress.  I have a promise of assistance with Alcester, Droitwich and Worcester, all of which are near to completion.


Meanwhile, I have made a database of Whitehouse marriage details for a large area of greater London, which, although not finished for all Anglican churches, is as near to complete as I can reasonably make it.  That will be uploaded to the website very shortly, along with another database, highly fragmented, for the rest of England & Wales. 


As a consequence of all this activity, the main Whitehouse GRO marriage index for 1 July 1837 to the end of 1911 has been altered to include a symbol “f”, signifying that full details of the marriage are available from one of the Marriage Details files.  Use the Registration District and the Universal Number (UN) to find them.


Progress has been made on other fronts.  In particular, the 1911 census has advanced.  It has proceeded alphabetically to Dorset and further inroads have been made into Warwickshire.  There are now 3,743 lines of entry (people in households containing a Whitehouse) altogether, which compares with 414 at the beginning of 2010.  This rate of work cannot be maintained, but I shall be adding to it little by little.  Please contact me if you can help.


New this quarter is an index of Apprentices, which can be accessed through the MISC EXPLANATIONS file.  This is a work in progress, but enough has been completed to make it worth launching it.  There are over 80 Whitehouse entries, as apprentices and masters.  It will be a pleasure to visit The National Archives at Kew in order to add some of the missing detail.  The tedious train journey there is compensated by the pleasant building and working environment.


The 1911 census

You have probably read that “TheGenealogist” and “Ancestry” are joining forces to produce a rival digitisation of the 1911 census to that of  “FindMyPast”.  Given the immense cost involved, it seems unlikely that it will become freely available in libraries.  It will be interesting to discover whether they correct the indexing errors in FMP.  I have found a few, but on the whole, the FMP index is of good quality.  Recently, I discovered what I thought to be a curious glitch.  When I want to know the number of Whitehouses in a specific county, I normally just select the county from the drop-down menu.  However, there is another way, which is to type the name of the county into the “Residential Place” box.  The latter sometimes gave a higher number !  For example, the answer is the same for Warwickshire (1540), but for Staffordshire it is 4694 against 4637 and for Worcestershire 1060 versus 1044.  So, I asked FMP about Staffordshire and got the following reply:


“When using the ‘Place of residence’ field it draws matching results from the following header fields:

City/Municipal Borough; Ecclesiastical District; Parish; Registration District; Municipal Ward; Town; Hamlet.

A key word search in residential place should pick up anything (including parish or reg district) from any of these seven fields. When selecting Staffordshire from the drop down county list it only takes the details from one part of the census return - this is why different results are returned.”


Well, that makes sense, but on that basis I would have expected a much greater difference between the two results.  I mentioned last time that the FMP index is based on Registration Districts, but many of these cover parts of more than one county.  Thus, Yardley in Worcestershire falls within Solihull RD, but Solihull is in Warwickshire and therefore included in that county’s index.  Indeed, there is a big difference in Derbyshire, 196 from the drop-down list, but 237 by typing in the name, which amounts to 21 percent more.  The explanation must surely lie in boundary confusion, particularly with Nottinghamshire at such places as Sandiacre and Stapleford.


“My ancestor disappeared in the mid- to late-1800s”

 According to an article in Family Tree Magazine, October 2010 (page 75), it has been estimated that between 1865 and 1871 more than 15,331 ships that left British ports were shipwrecked, many of which came to grief in Australian and New Zealand waters.  Between 1850 and 1860, 571 ships were wrecked off Australia.  The article focuses on the wrecking of ships of the Loch Line, which lost half of its fleet of 24.  Such casualties hastened the replacement of sail by steam.


Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 5th October 2010

Thank you very much

A huge amount has been achieved this quarter and I’m going to start by thanking the very many people who have helped me.  I shall do this by alphabetical order of surname:

Arthur Aston (BMSGH Link Scheme) went to the Stafford Record Office and kindly transcribed for me some marriages at Burton-upon-Trent churches.

Karen Burnell (Guild of One-Name Studies) very helpfully sorted out a conundrum for me, when the register of Nechells St Clement should have showed the marriage of William Henry Whitehouse to Elizabeth Walton, but did not.  It was solved when she found the signature of the couple underneath the particulars of a different marriage.  Evidently they had signed a blank page of one of  the church’s duplicate register books and someone had later filled it in wrongly.

Kaye Christian has no connection at all with Whitehouses.  I approached her via a website and she was kind enough to send me many transcripts from Burntwood, Chasetown and Ogley Hay which were used as the foundation for constructing the Lichfield Registration District marriage details database.  I did some jobs for her in London in exchange.

Lindsey Crompton (237) did some excellent “marriage mining” in the Birmingham Library on Aston Registration District marriages.  She did a lot of work finding Duddeston marriages, where it was difficult to work out in which church to look first.

Judy Earp (474) went to Smethwick Archives, thereby settling the last few queries in Kings Norton RD.  She inspected the original register of Smethwick St Paul, the microfiche for which are really poorly filmed.

David Fall (Guild of One-Name Studies) investigated his own database, relating to other surnames, to tip me off about the possible anomalous position of Nechells St Clement in the church order.

Netta Hughes (172) helped with the Kidderminster RD marriage details, which included getting sight of the original register of Bewdley St Anne, because the microfilm was scratched across the middle, causing part of the entry to be unreadable.

Adrian Loker (141, 145) checked the details of a marriage at Cheltenham.

Pat Molloy (409, 410) has been a tower of strength, filling in gaps in my Lichfield and Tamworth RD marriage details files.

Judith Parkins (071), who many years ago did some wonderful work in finding Whitehouses in the 1871 census for Wolverhampton, visited Warwick Record Office and extracted 5 Whitehouse marriages from the register of the country church of Kingsbury, within Tamworth Registration District.

Carol Ravenhall (280) followed up David Fall’s suggestion and found a missing marriage at Nechells St Clement.

Lennox Smith is a cousin of mine who lives near the church of Boldmere St Michael in the Sutton Coldfield area.  That church has not deposited its registers in an archive and he went to the church office and extracted a marriage for me.

Dave Whitehouse (512) tackled the 1880 US census for Connecticut and Ohio, while

Bob Whitelock (457) transcribed Pennsylvania.


Thank you all so much, whether you did substantial chunks or just oddments to help me finish a project.  You are stars.  I have now got to the situation where I am simply asking people directly for their help.  I’m glad to say that most people are pleased to do a little to contribute and it has been a revelation to me how many make light of their own physical infirmities when doing so.


Mining the marriages

The major news this quarter again concerns the marriage details indexes, which have been going splendidly, not least thanks to the helpers.  To the major districts of Aston, Birmingham, Dudley, Kings Norton and West Bromwich, have been added five smaller ones - Bromsgrove, Burton-on-Trent, Kidderminster, Lichfield and Tamworth.  In the result an amazing 3874 marriages have been extracted, over 40% of all the 1837 Q3 to 1911 Whitehouse marriages in England & Wales.  In addition, Worcester RD is nearly complete, more than half of Stourbridge RD has been done and a start has been made on Wolverhampton RD.


Volunteers are wanted to work with me on Wolverhampton and to help me make a start on Walsall.  Cannock RD is relatively straightforward and so anyone in that area who would like to make a contribution can make a big contribution for a relatively small amount of effort.


Nothing has been done on the London marriage details project this quarter.  However, considerable progress has been made in sweeping up the miscellaneous transcriptions from other parts of the country into another marriage details file, not yet in a proper state to put on the website.


The 1911 census

I have put in a big effort here, increasing the coverage of my transcript to about 20% of England & Wales.  I have been proceeding in two basic directions, the first alphabetically by county, where I have got as far as finishing Derbyshire, the second in tackling the county indexed as Warwickshire, which is over 75% complete.  Warwickshire is, of course, a big county for Whitehouses and there are still 254 out of 1145 left to do.  One thing that people might not realise is that in the Findmypast index, it is the county of the Registration District that is indexed.  So, for example, Solihull is a Warwickshire Registration District, but contains people who live in Acocks Green and Yardley, which are in Worcestershire.  Conversely, it would be no good looking under Warwickshire for someone living in 1911 in Edgbaston.  That’s because Edgbaston lies in Kings Norton Registration District, which comes under Worcestershire.  Further work will very likely proceed at a slower place.


Surely, you must be exclaiming, you are infringing Findmypast’s copyright ?  Actually, no, because I am using a completely different layout and there is no copyright in the information - only in the “literary work” that results from it.  Mine is a completely original and different literary work.


Long live spreadsheets

I mentioned in the last newsletter how pleased I was to have completed the tree of correspondent 003, at long last.  Well, as a young lad, he remembered a cousin by the unusual name of Tertius Whitehouse.  He rather admired Tertius, who he thought was born around 1917 and who joined the Grenadier Guards in the 1930s.  So, I entered his name in the births section of FreeBMD (without any limit as to the years) and found nothing.  After having written to the regiment, he obtained quite a bit of detail about Tertius, including a date of birth in 1910.  My GRO births spreadsheet goes up to 1911, so I looked him up there and found a Tertins D Whitehouse.  It’s only one letter different, but when you enter the name in a box, you only get what you enter, whereas a spreadsheet allows your eye to roam over many possibilities that might not have occurred to you, including misindexing.  I should add that the Findmypast index to the 1911 census renders the poor baby as a male with the forenames Florence David !


More strange marriages

Another bigamous marriage came to light in the last quarter.  I can’t immediately locate the tree involved, but will update this item if it comes back to me.  [Postscript: Tree 194 453.  The bigamous marriage was by a Thomas Willetts Whitehouse, an Iron Works Labourer, who married Mercy Pardoe in 1866.  She was still alive when Thomas re-married in 1879 at the Derby Registry Office, to Lydia Harlow.  Subsequently, he moved to Rotherham, changed his surname to Willetts.  Yet, by 1907, when he married for the third time, it was as Thomas Willetts Whitehouse. By then, both Mercy and Lydia had died].


Meanwhile, correspondent 360 asked whether it was correct that two Whitehouse sisters in the Bahamas in the mid-1800s had married two brothers who were stepsons.  That was my information gleaned from another correspondent and it looked credible.


“RADAP” & New Registrations Report

The trees of 6 correspondents have been digitised in the last three months, i.e. in accordance with the annual target of 25.  Three new correspondents (515 to 517) have been registered.


“Will technology ever catch up with paper ?”

That’s the question posed in the title of a fascinating paper in Journal of One-Name Studies October-December 2010, which has just arrived.  It has long been bothering family historians and archivists that the current recording materials in popular use, CD-ROMs, may have only a limited life.  After all, in the last 20 years or so, computer users have been through floppy disks and 3-1/2 inch diskettes, which have not survived.  Acid-free paper is still the currently preferred medium for the long term and that is what I shall be using to archive my collection of Whitehouse trees and other material.  However, a new kind of disk called the “Milliennata” has been marketed and it is claimed that it should easily last 1000 years.  The snag is that it requires a high energy laser to write to the disk and so needs a special drive to “burn” the disk.  The special drive currently costs £900 and the disk £17 for 4.7 GB of storage.  It’s a wonderful step in the right direction, but very probably will be superseded by something better, just like the floppy disk and the computer with the 5-1/4 inch drive.


Blow, blow thou winter wind ?

“Hi Margaret,

Having had no acknowledgment after a fortnight, I am re-sending this e-mail with a request for receipt, to make sure that you have received it.

Best wishes,

Keith” (sent 9th September)


“Dear Margaret,

Thank you for the automated acknowledgment of receipt of the extensive family tree which I sent to you three weeks ago.  The Whitehouse Family History Centre operates as an entirely free service for the public benefit, so there are absolutely no charges of any kind whatsoever.  For further information, please visit my website.  Should you decide to get in touch again, please quote the above reference.

Best wishes,

Keith...” (sent 17th September)


Was she unable to open the attachment, which was sent in both Excel and Portable Document Format ?  Was she taken poorly ?  Perhaps she died and the acknowledgement was sent by someone else.  Or did she simply disbelieve the tree that was sent to her and so didn’t think it appropriate to send even a brief note of thanks ?  Maybe I will never know.


Best wishes to all,



Newsletter, 2nd July 2010

What an excuse !

The website update is running a little late owing to blackcurrants and the world cup football.  (Whoops ! Uber den Fussball dürfen wir nicht sprechen).  The extraordinary hot spell here in the south-east of England has brought on the blackcurrants and although we have only seven bushes, the crop is huge and I have been out picking for hours these last few days.  As for the goings-on in South Africa, the alert among you might have found that “Findmypast” were allowing free access to their website for a limited time on the days on which England were playing.  I have taken advantage of that to add to the growing indexed transcript of Whitehouses in the 1911 census.  By the way, I reckon that there are about 15,200 lines of entry to complete and I have reached round about the13 percent mark.  Transcription is a slow and complex job, but it is better to make some progress than none.  If you find someone there on your tree who is not referenced with the WFHC number in the right hand column, please let me know.  I should also add that there are indexing errors in “Findmypast”, so this website is a good place to look if you have failed to find a Whitehouse who ought to be on the 1911 census.


Mining the marriages

The major news this quarter concerns marriages in Aston Registration District.  Such good progress has been made in “mining” the details of 515 Whitehouse marriages from Aston church registers in the period from 1st July 1837, when civil registration began, to the end of 1911 that I am putting the file on the website, incomplete though it still is: there are 22 Anglican marriages yet to be found.  Interestingly, only 58 of the weddings took place at the Register Office or in a non-Anglican church, which is a lower proportion than in Birmingham or West Bromwich RDs.  The Aston RD project was not originally due to begin until next year, but has been brought forward because of the success with Birmingham and Kings Norton RDs, the eventual aim being to offer complete coverage of Anglican churches in the Birmingham area.  Lindsey Crompton (237) has again been helping me and I am very grateful to her.


Good progress has been made with a similar project in London.  As many will be aware, “Ancestry” has indexed the church registers held by the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).  Of course, we should all be grateful to “Ancestry”, despite the usual gripes about the quality of the index.  I have enjoyed exercising my ingenuity to find marriages that have been indexed in the wrong year, under incorrect names or, in one case, filmed but apparently not indexed.  However, “Ancestry” did redeem itself by correctly indexing a marriage under “Whitehorne”, which the GRO index had listed under Whitehouse (UN 7059:  Elizabeth Whitehorne, now removed from the main WFHC marriages database).


Excellent though the “Ancestry” index is as a finding aid, it covers only those records held at the LMA.  I have been searching other marriages at the Westminster Archives, which are in a side street near the Abbey.  This is a wonderful place in which to work, with a water dispenser and coffee machine in a small ground floor room, equipped with four comfortable chairs and everything well organised in the 5th floor search room.  Yet other marriages, in City parishes, will probably require a visit to the Guildhall Library.  I have discovered that at least one large church, Kensington St Mary Abbots, has not deposited its records in an archive.  That could be a problem.  Unravelling the mysteries of which churches belonged to which Registration District at the relevant time is a slow business and I need to get a good deal further before it is worthwhile putting the database onto this website.


Some very strange marriages

Yes, the Whitehouses have them all - bigamous, under age, without consent and incestuous.  I have had much cause to reflect on this subject this quarter. 


Correspondent 513 kindly gave me permission to tell you of the man who married his niece.  A family from the Redditch area who were needle manufacturers includes a James Whitehouse (1809-1883) who, after the death of his first wife, married again in 1847 at Shoreditch St Leonard to Sarah Whitehouse, who was 15 years younger and the daughter of James’ elder brother, Thomas.  The evidence is extremely solid.  This was no marriage of mere convenience, for they had four children and correspondent 513 is a descendant born from one of them.  The tree also contains three marriages between first cousins. 


Then I had a discussion with correspondent 043 about Emma Whitehouse and Thomas Swingler, who married each other twice !  The first marriage took place at the Birmingham Registry Office on 1st March 1883, Thomas, who was about 6 years younger than Emma, declaring himself to be 21 when he was not.  Eleven months later they re-married at the parish church of Boldmere, which at that time was a hamlet near Sutton Coldfield, but now subsumed into the great Birmingham metropolitan sprawl.  Thomas again declared himself to be 21, which he then was.  It seems that the first marriage must have been without the consent of Thomas’ parents.  This episode set me off in a quest to discover whether marrying as a minor, without parental consent, would make the marriage void - that is to say of no legal effect.  The only answer that I could find, in a time-limited search, is that, if parallel circumstances arose today, marrying in England at age 16 to18 without parental consent would not make the marriage void unless notice of objection had been raised either upon calling of the banns in church or by a written entry in the Superintendent Registrar’s book.  That did not tell me what the law was in 1883.


My request to correspondent 058 for a scan of the marriage certificate for “his” Alfred Whitehouse to Mary Anne Geer in 1869 at Kensington St Mary Abbots caused him to remark that Alfred was only 19.  There was no recorded parental consent.  It paled into insignificance, I told him, beside another marriage in his very large tree, when Mary Ann Harriet Whitehouse, born 27th November 1841, married George John Fisher, an artificial florist, on 23rd November 1857 at Paddington Holy Trinity.  She gave her age as 19, but was a few days short of her 16th birthday.  If the date of birth (which comes from her baptism in 1843) is correct, this marriage was definitely illegal.


There were only two or three enquiries this quarter, which enabled me to get on with the records programme.  One of them was a descendant of one of the huge tribe of Kentucky Whitehouses (WFHC 137 etc.).  His information included a Marion Taylor (male) Whitehouse who married Edna Aspey in 1910 in Indiana, before a magistrate.  He and Edna split up, Marion’s draft record for his service in the first world war said that he was single.  After the war, Edna was using her maiden name and Marion re-married.  Bigamy ?  Maybe they got divorced, but my enquirer had another explanation, which related to Edna’s Mormon parentage.  He reckoned that they refused to accept the marriage as legal, as it did not take place in church.  This set me thinking that if the Aspeys resided in Utah, did the laws of that state recognise a marriage before a J.P. in Indiana ?  A cursory look at the marriage laws of US states soon persuaded me that I had more urgent things to do.


Bigamy in family trees is difficult to prove, but there are a couple of cases in my records, for correspondents 252 and 510, where the circumstantial evidence is strong.


It was the final “triumph” of the quarter that at long, long, last, I got round to putting the tree of one of my earliest and most helpful correspondents (003) on computer.  A George Whitehouse in his wider family has set a record among Whitehouses, by marrying 5 times, on the last occasion to a step-daughter (his late wife’s daughter by a previous marriage).  This isn’t the first such instance, as correspondent 467 will testify: see “No laughing matter”, Newsletter of 25th September 2008.


It’s a very long time since my last correspondence with 044, but I have digitised her tree and sent it to her last known address.  The tree contains the marriage of Kate Whitehouse to the brother of her deceased husband.  Such happenings are fairly frequent, although they were against the law in Victorian times.  It was not until the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act of 1907 that a widower could marry the sister of his deceased wife and, strangely, not until the Deceased Brother’s Widow’s Marriage Act of 1921 that a widow could marry the brother of her deceased husband.


Dudley non-conformist records

Surviving Dudley non-Conformist records to 1837 were transcribed by Arthur Rollason and a book was printed in 1899 entitled “The Old Non-Parochial Registers of Dudley”.  It has subsequently been re-published on a CD and re-indexed.  I have extracted the Whitehouses and put them into a spreadsheet format.  I used the diskette of a kind correspondent to check that I had not missed any entries in the Index Nominum at the back of the printed volume.  (That index gives only the page on which a surname occurs at least once, without telling you how many times it occurs, so every indexed page has to be trawled - very annoying).  To my surprise/horror, I found when searching the CD that several of the Whitehouse entries simply failed to register, i.e. the digital search did not pick them up.  Anyway, all’s well and it was nice to be able to use the digital search facility, defective though it was.


Wednesbury Poor Law documents

I have remarked often that relatively few Whitehouses left wills before the Principal Probate Registry was established in 1858.  That’s because before the Industrial Revolution they were mainly poor agricultural labourers and after it they were poor coal miners, iron puddlers, nailers and engine operators.  Readers will be aware, I hope, that I have put on the website a very extensive database of Whitehouse wills and administrations, as well as those (of all surnames) mentioned in them.  Coverage from 1731 to 1860 is pretty well complete for the whole of England & Wales.  So, what can be done to get further back when there is no will or administration ?  With such a frequent name as Whitehouse, parish registers are normally fairly useless, as are documents that merely contain names, such as the Hearth Tax rolls.


Poor law records survive for some parishes.  If you are lucky, they will have been filmed by the Latter Day Saints and therefore be obtainable via a local Family History Centre.  Those for Wednesbury have not, but I went to read some of them at the Staffordshire Record Office, searching for every Whitehouse.

Their holding includes 223 Settlement Examinations (1740-1801), 108 Removal Orders (1734-1791), 155 Bastardy Bonds and related documents (1714-1809) and 229 Apprenticeship Indentures (1771-1809).  I did not search the Bastardy documents, but I did cover the other three sets, trawling my way gently through the precious originals.  This is not the place for a discourse on the types of document, the subject being well covered in genealogy books, but it’s nice to list and display some examples that relate to Whitehouse family history.  My searches revealed the following:

1.  Settlement Examination and Removal Order, dated 2nd November 1791, relating to William Whitehouse and his wife Ann.  William states that he is aged 38, originally from Tipton, worked in West Bromwich and then for about 50 weeks in Wednesbury for one Thomas Lawton, a miner.  At that juncture he was seized by the parish officers of Harborne (Staffs), having allegedly fathered a child of Ann Baker of Harborne.  He married her, having been bribed to do so by the Harborne parish officers.  Evidently, he returned to Wednesbury, but did not resume employment by Thomas Lawton.  Having obtained no Settlement Certificate elsewhere and not having worked in Wednesbury for a complete year (which would have entitled him to a Settlement Certificate in Wednesbury), his place of Settlement was Tipton, so he and his wife (who takes the husband’s place of settlement) were ordered to be removed there.  That avoided them becoming a charge on the poor rate of the parish of Wednesbury.

2.  Apprenticeship Indenture dated 18th December 1795 of Elizabeth Whitehouse, a poor child aged about 14, to some cotton manufacturers in Manchester.  These people were obviously looking for cheap labour, as there were several similar indentures by them at around this time.

3.  Apprenticeship Indenture dated 27th June 1801 of Isaiah Hughes, a poor child aged about 10, to Joshua Whitehouse of Dudley, nailor.


I have scanned items 1 and 2 in the file Wednesbury PL docs.pdf .


Help wanted, please

The two main areas where help is wanted are

- making a start on a marriage details project for Wolverhampton RD

- with the 1880 US census (see index page)

Please volunteer.  All help will be gratefully acknowledged in this newsletter.



Those who have visited the website last year or earlier will know that I have been registering newcomers, working on their Whitehouse lines, drawing up trees for them where necessary, archiving the tree and linking them to distant cousins or relations by marriage.  This registration procedure is now closed for an indefinite period, in order to free up my time to work on records, make progress with the digitisation of the trees in existing papers, and generally to reduce my workload.

The RADAP document, accessible from the index page of this website, explains my Re-indexing, Archiving, Digitisation And Paper-destruction project.


While, in general, the Whitehouse Family History Centre is closed for new registrations, I shall continue to make a few exceptions.  Please see the Registration document on the index page.


“RADAP” & New Registrations Report

The trees of 6 correspondents have been digitised in the last three months, i.e. in accordance with the annual target of 25.  One new correspondent (514) has been registered.


Family Tree programs

“I just pulled up Nina from the tree names list, and what was there?  John & Betty Galloway as parents.  I have no idea how that happened!!!  I can assure you, I sure didn’t enter it that way.  If you just go thru the pedigree charts, it is not there showing that erroneous information, and everything looks fine.  John & Betty show just their two children and no Nina just as it should be.  To get rid of that erroneous information, I had to delete Nina, and then reenter her as a wife of Marion with no parents, and also add her first husband, Floyd Darling.  Now Nina is shown with no known parents with two husbands, and Marion is shown with two wives.”  (Extract from a recent e-mail to me).


I think I’ll stick to doing my trees in Excel, which is (a) widely used, (b) compatible with the free “Open Office software, (c) flexible, enabling blocks of tree to be moved around easily and (d) very adaptable to “Tall Tree” layouts (oldest ancestor on the left on a portrait sheet) which save space and are easily printable to a relatively small number of sheets.


Best wishes to all




Newsletter, 31st March 2010

Birmingham area marriages

Fantastic progress has been made this quarter, not least in completing the marriage details index for Birmingham Registration District and taking the Kings Norton Registration District to the point of substantial completion, where only a few illegibility problems and minor checks remain to be dealt with.  These two Registration Districts join Dudley and West Bromwich in having all the details given on a Whitehouse marriage certificate transcribed, except the name of the clergyman and whether the people signed or made a mark.  Coverage is from 1st July 1837, when civil registration began, to the end of 1911, and is complete for all marriages in anglican churches.  These four indexes constitute a huge advance in Whitehouse genealogy, especially considering that they can be sorted by the forename of the father.


I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all who have helped with these projects:

- Jayne Sandles (441) for her substantial work on Edgbaston St. Bartholomew and extracting two entries at Selly Oak St Mary;

- Joan Morganti (496) for extracting four entries at Selly Hill St Stephen and especially for coming to my rescue with a morning’s work at Smethwick Archives, consulting the original paper registers, when I was badly caught out by illegible microfiche;

- Carol Ravenhall (280) for work on the original paper registers of  Edgbaston St Bartholomew, to solve legibility problems there;

- Lindsey Crompton (237) for help with queries in the registers of Balsall Heath St Paul and Kings Heath All Saints;

- Barbara Harvey and Karen Burnell (Guild of One-name Studies) for providing “cardinal points” for some of the churches and Karen for other help and advice;

- David Fall (Guild of One-name Studies) for help in filling in some “holes” in my own extractions; and

- Netta Hughes (172) for going to the Worcester Local Studies Centre to obtain particulars of a marriage at Beoley St Leonard.


I also thank Pat Molloy (409 & 410), who cleared up a query on my West Bromwich RD marriage project.


Help wanted, please

I could do so much more of the marriage details work if I could get help at Cannock, Walsall or Wolverhampton Local Studies and the same goes for the Dudley Archives at Coseley, where some of the Stourbridge RD registers are located.  There have been no offers.  I think I shall simply have to resort to asking people by e-mail.  The Birmingham area remains unfinished, as Aston RD has yet to be done, and here I have some basic work to do on the order in which marriages are arranged in the GRO clerks’ books. After this, I shall need help at the Birmingham Library (again).  Anyhow, please, please let me know if you could spare a few hours at any of these places.


Besides help with the marriage details indexes, there is another area where a contribution could be made without the need to visit a local history centre or county record office.  It involves use of “Ancestry” (available in many public libraries - and some people have subscriptions) and consists of extracting Whitehouse entries from the US census and putting them onto an Excel spreadsheet.  A helper would be given one state (not a very Whitehouse-populated one !) and one census year on which to work.  There must be many people out there in the States who have visited this website and would like to give back something as a thank-you, so I keep hoping.


A quiet quarter

There have been a few enquiries, about seven I think, which I have answered.  I have registered one tree (513) which I consider of significant historical interest in the field of needle manufacture in the Redditch area and contains other interesting features.  Six trees from the paper files of existing correspondents have been digitised.


Those who have visited the website last year or earlier will know that I have been registering newcomers, working on their Whitehouse lines, drawing up trees for them where necessary, archiving the tree and linking them to distant cousins or relations by marriage.  This registration procedure is now closed for an indefinite period, in order to free up my time to work on records, make progress with the digitisation of the trees in existing papers, and generally to reduce my workload.

The RADAP document, accessible from the index page of this website, explains my Re-indexing, Archiving, Digitisation And Paper-destruction project.


While, in general, the Whitehouse Family History Centre is closed for new registrations, I shall continue to make a few exceptions for trees that are clearly laid out, properly researched, carefully checked and replete with occupations, day, month and year dates for Whitehouses and their spouses and the places of events. Collateral lines, that is to say the brothers and sisters of Whitehouses not in the direct line of pedigree, and the descendants of the brothers should be investigated.  A high standard of work and a clear layout will be required.  I shall also make a few exceptions for trees that I want to index, because of their historical interest, but I shall expect to be presented with good research.  Other exceptions might be made, at my discretion, for special reasons.  Altogether, it is expected that only a few very well organised and careful enquirers will qualify for registration. 


The OPERATIONAL REVIEW document (link on index page) gives more background and explains how to register (exceptionally).


Newsletter reprieved

As announced in February, I changed my decision of 1st January 2010 not to continue with the newsletter and so it will continue to appear at around the end of every quarter, when the website is updated.


Report of other progress

The three new pre-1837 marriage files, containing witness information, in Dudley, Handsworth and Kingswinford, are launched on the website today.  They have already played vital roles in improving trees.

West Bromwich baptisms have been targeted, giving occupations and addresses from 1813 on to as late as 1861.

Those wanting early records have been rewarded with a detailed index to the Sedgley Manorial Rolls.  I give public thanks here to Janet Rowley for allowing me to use her extracts.

The 1911 census grinds slowly on, with the addition of another 300 lines of entry.  The file is still tiny (there are over 11,000 Whitehouses in the 1911 census), but I felt it worth making a start.  Please point out to me entries that should be referenced to your tree, as I do not guarantee to spot them all.

A marriages details file for London Parishes (1837-1911) is making worthwhile progress behind the scenes.


A weird story

How about this for a truly strange genealogical experience ?  On 30th June 1990, a lady telephoned.  She had seen a Family Bible in a second hand shop, copied down the information from the flyleaf, relating to the family of Christopher and Esther Whitehouse, and dictated it to me.  I wrote it down, thanked her very much, asked her name (which she didn’t want to give) and filed it away.  When correspondent 498 contacted me in the last quarter of 2009, somehow or other I managed to recall and retrieve the piece of paper, filling a gap in his tree and giving useful date information.  I wonder whether that lady remembers her kind act.


Best wishes to all readers,



Newsletter, 1st January 2010, revised 7th February 2010

Operational review

In September, I announced that an operational review would take place at the end of 2009, with a view to reducing my workload.  I warned of drastic changes.  As mentioned on the index page, one major change is that I am not accepting new registrations until further notice.  There will be a few exceptions.  One very obvious exception is that anyone offering (and performing) substantial amounts of relevant help with transcribing records will be very welcome to register.  The most relevant help wanted is with marriage details in the West Midlands.  I want help, please, in transcribing from church marriage registers in Dudley Archives with Stourbridge Registration District (Kingswinford area), in Walsall, Wolverhampton and, to some extent, Birmingham for Kings Norton and Aston.  See also below.


I shall also make a few exceptions for trees that are clearly laid out, properly researched, carefully checked and replete with occupations, day, month and year dates for Whitehouses and their spouses and the places of events. Collateral lines, that is to say the brothers and sisters of Whitehouses not in the direct line of pedigree, and the descendants of the brothers should be investigated.  A high standard of work and a clear layout will be required.  I shall also make a few exceptions for trees that I want to index, because of their historical interest, but I shall expect to be presented with good research.  Altogether, it is expected that only a few very well organised and careful enquirers will qualify for registration.  The trees of registered correspondents will continue to be archived and referenced to files on the website and distant cousins put in touch with each other.


The operational review document (link on index page) gives more detail and explains how to register (exceptionally).


Popular or what ?

Last quarter’s newsletter contained a buried invitation to those who had read it to let me know.  There were 14 responses.  It isn’t many among over 500 correspondents, but I thank all who took the trouble to e-mail me.  I have changed my decision of 1st January 2010 not to continue with the newsletter and so it will continue to appear every quarter, although maybe not at the same length as some previous ones.


Progress report

As I wrote on New Year’s Day, I have cleared the backlog from the last quarter and as of 7th February am fully up to date with the new registrations.  Last quarter I registered twelve new correspondents, under references 501 to 512, making 39 for the year (2008:  34).  All twelve except 512 have been linked to existing trees and even there an existing tree was used to help to unravel a problem.  Progress with converting the paper files of existing correspondents into digitised trees in 2009 was limited, a matter to which I turned in the operational review.  In the current year to date, I have been occupied largely with correspondence and research relating to last quarter’s new trees, but I have digitised four trees of existing correspondents, creating one new link-up in the process.  Work has started on new marriage indexes for the late 1700s and up to 1837 in the parish churches of Handsworth and Dudley in the West Midlands.  There has also been progress with a marriage details index for Kings Norton Registration District.


Help wanted

Besides help with the marriage details indexes, there is another area where a contribution could be made without the need to visit a local history centre or county record office.  It involves use of “Ancestry” (available in many public libraries - and some people have subscriptions) and consists of extracting Whitehouse entries from the US census and putting them onto an Excel spreadsheet.  A helper would be given one state (not a very Whitehouse-populated one !) and one census year on which to work.


Parish registers in London on-line

A big thank you to “Ancestry” and the London Metropolitan Archives for digitising many parish registers in the London area (that we now refer to as the inner boroughs).  I have been looking at the marriage indexes and after only a small pilot study have found them unreliable.  Of course, there are many transcription difficulties, but that is not an excuse for listing 229 marriages from 1754 to 1921 in the name Whitchouse, which does not exist except as a misreading of Whitehouse.  That might be forgiven if the dates were accurate, but they are not.  The pilot study revealed that the marriage of John Henry Whitehouse to Mary Ann Harriet Lawrence took place in 1836, but the year is indexed as 1834.   Amina Whitehouse’s marriage to Charles Henry Alder took place on 7th August, but the index says the 9th.  In both cases, the dates are perfectly legible.  Clara Jane Whitehouse married David Henry Smith, but “Ancestry” overlooked the carat sign for the insertion of his middle name and indexed him as Henry David Smith.  The incompetence of Ancestry reached the laughable stage in the marriage of Barbara Whitehouse to Thomas Henry Clark on Vth August 1900 at Old Brentford, St Paul.  Old Brentford is just across the river from Kew Gardens, but “Ancestry” confused it with Old Ford, in London’s east end and misread the Latin numeral V as the arabic number 11.  Alas, all this means that nothing in the index can be trusted:  it will be necessary to look at the image for each individual entry and there are a lot.


As a result of this, I have made a start on creating a London area marriage details file.


A famous Whitehouse

Correspondent 470 has told me that a Joseph Whitehouse participated in a famous event in US history, the Lewis and Clarke expedition (1804-06) that explored the territory known as the 'Louisiana Purchase' that was bought from France about 1803.  Joseph was born in Fairfax County, Virginia about 1775 and later moved to Kentucky. He, along with others in the party, wrote a journal describing the journey from St. Louis Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia river on the West Coast.  A book by Steven Ambrose called 'Undaunted Courage' describes this adventure.


More pioneer Whitehouses

The quarter before last, I wrote of my gigantic tree of Kentucky Whitehouse pioneers.  This last quarter, driven by the arrival of new correspondents, I have been busy with two more large trees, one of the Clerkenwell opticians (WFHC 036 etc.), some of whom emigrated to Queensland in the 1860s and the other of Abel and Matilda Whitehouse of Birmingham, who took ten children with them to become pioneer farmers in New Zealand.  After early difficulties, both families flourished.  Again, these large trees have caused much disruption to other work. 


New addition to the WFHC website

However, the New Zealand tree has had the happy consequence that I have got to grips with the recent New Zealand births deaths and marriages website:  www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/.   As a result, I have created a Whitehouse version of the marriages listed there from 1851 to 1911, with WFHC references added.  This has been uploaded to the website.


Eliza & Elizabeth as siblings

Someone asked me recently whether it was likely that two sisters could be named Eliza and Elizabeth.  My answer was that it is rare, but does happen occasionally.  Now I can cite a specific, well-documented instance, in the tree of correspondents 080 and 300, where Joseph Whitehouse and his wife Ellen had Elizabeth born 1857-58 and Eliza born 1869-70 (I have marriage details for them both and they are co-present on the 1871 census entry).


Discrepant occupations

Another enquirer, Lydia Court, has been e-mailing me about a marriage of a Benjamin Whitehouse.  He gave his occupation as silversmith and that of his father, Thomas Whitehouse, as builders clerk.  There was only one candidate Benjamin, apparently dismissed by my enquirer, because he was an electroplater.  Moreover, that Benjamin’s father, Thomas, was a grinder and at times a boatman.  On the simple face of it, the occupations were wrong, so how could he be the right Benjamin ?  Well, electroplater is not so far removed from silversmith.  The following day, by coincidence, I was researching one Thomas B Goodfellow who married Henrietta Mary Ann Harriet ("Lilly") Whitehouse in 1868.  Here he is on four

consecutive censuses:

1871 Electro Plater ae 27, RG10/1340 FO 139

1881 Silversmith ae 37, RG11/1387 FO 5

1891 Electro Plate Manufacturer ae 48 RG12/1079 FO 79

1901 Silversmith ae 55 RG13/1256 FO 1256.

That still doesn’t get over the problem of the occupation of Benjamin’s father, Thomas.  My guess is that Thomas was an itinerant knife grinder who used the canals to travel around.  Maybe Benjamin was ashamed that his father, who was not recorded as a witness of the marriage, carried on such a lowly trade and so lied.  I decided that I was right, on the balance of probabilities, to accept Benjamin as correct.


Blow me !  You have to be careful with Free BMD marriages...

Correspondent 296 descends from the second marriage of Alice Maria WHITEHOUSE, her first husband, Alfred BLOWER having died in 1916.  To check the date of the second marriage, I searched all people of the name BLOWER marrying all people of the name MORRIS from 1916 to 1930.   There was only one success, which was for a BLOWER of the male gender, which was no good.   Then I searched again, this time putting in only BLOWER Alice and leaving out the man's name.  This came up with a "hit" showing that Alice M BLOWER married a Mr. NORRIS (March quarter 1917, Dudley 6b 1179).  I made another search, this time with just the quarter and the GRO reference.   It came up with Alice M BLOWER and Thomas MORRIS.  This was quite extraordinary, as it shows that when the GRO cross-references marriages (which it started doing in 1912), FreeBMD works on the cross reference (here, erroneously, NORRIS) and not on the individual names which have the same GRO volume and page number.  I was flabbergasted.


“Our policy is one of continual improvement”

One of the subjects seldom aired in these newsletters is errors in my databases.  Alas, there have been some, but it is very seldom that anyone has brought one to my attention.  When I find one, it is ruthlessly hunted down and put right.  So, please point out any that you find, even if they are just typographical.  This quarter, I found, to my consternation, that the 1841 census index missorted when it was put into name and age order:  the names were all right, but a few of the ages were out of sequence, with a few younger people appearing after the oldest one.  The explanation for this is that these out-of-order ages were in a different number format and the only way that I know of correcting this glitch properly is to retype them in the same format as the others, which I have done.  As I have missed a few, I have fixed the problem by applying the option to sort “anything that looks like a number, as a number.”  I think all is now well, but if not, please let me know.


With regard to marriages and deaths, one of my continual problems is that people who are really Whitehouses are sometimes indexed under other names, either because of official error or, as happened recently, deliberate change of name.  My policy is to regard the name registered at birth as the correct one and if someone born Whitehouse has changed his or her name before he or she marries or dies, to index the marriage and death as Whitehouse, enter “v” in the variants column, and make an entry in the variants file.  Similarly, if a female of another name marries a male Whitehouse and changes that name before re-marriage or death, the re-marriage or death is indexed as a Whitehouse one, with the above variant procedure applied.  The last quarter featured a family that seemed to have difficulty in deciding whether they were Whitehouses or Birds or the two in hyphenated or non-hyphenated combination.


These name changes or corrections have a bad effect on my 1837-1911 GRO marriage indexes, where I need to allot each marriage a number (called the Universal Number or UN for short).  When any marriage not in the GRO indexes under Whitehouse is added to my database I ought to re-number the whole database.  That used to be a fairly simple matter.  Now it is more complicated, because there are marriage detail files which use the same Universal Number.  So far, only three of these files have been put on the website, but there are others on my computer in very early stages.  For the moment, the additions are being numbered as “New 1” onwards and when the database is sorted into UN order, they appear at the very end.


All too much for him ?

Entry in the marriage register of the church of St John of Wapping (east end of London), 26th August 1859:

“In consequence of the man G J Holman’s fainting before the answer to the first question, the marriage could not be proceeded with; and the parties have not since appeared for the purpose.  T.W.Nowell Rector Nov 1 1859”.  The official consequence ?  If you have a good memory of these newsletters, you will have guessed it - the very same “marriage” between George Joseph Holman and Harriet Gorham is recorded in the GRO Index !


You’ve been great - thank you so much

A big thank you to Adrian Loker (141 & 145), Lyndsey Crompton (237), Laraine Preece (420) and Jayne Sandles (441) who have helped me by looking up specific marriages at the Staffordshire Record Office and the Birmingham Library.  Offers of even small amounts of help are very, very gratefully received. 


Best wishes to all readers,



Newsletter, 2nd October 2009

Giant tree causes huge backlog

This quarter I have spent countless hours working on the vast tree of James Whitehouse, a pioneer settler in Kentucky in 1783.  The story behind this tree is wonderful to relate - James is arrested in London for petty theft, sentenced to death and then has his sentence commuted to transportation to America.  After a while in Virginia, he is invited to join a party led by a pioneer explorer, Simon Kenton, to sail down the Ohio River and settle in Kentucky.  The party is 41 strong and Kenton commissions a boat 120 feet long.  James and his wife, Sarah, become pioneer farmers there and have 15 children, nearly all of whom are known to have survived.  Generation after generation of Kentucky farmers, with large families, ensue, some moving to the neighbouring state of Indiana.  Over the years I have “collected” ten descendants and accumulated a large paper file several inches thick.  At long last, prompted by the arrival of a new correspondent (239), I have managed to draft a comprehensive tree, which runs to 60 pages.  This effort, which took many weeks longer than expected, has caused a large backlog in dealing with the trees of others who have registered later (495, 496, 498, 499, 341 and 500).  Mercifully, there have been only 4 new registrations in this quarter - it’s always quietest in the summer - which are 236, 499, 341 and 500.    I shall try hard to clear this backlog within the next quarter and hope that all those in the queue will bear with me. 


Despite the backlog problem, I am urging all those who have expressed an intention to register to do so this quarter and to submit really good trees, replete with births, deaths and marriages, day, month and year dates, places of these events and occupations and to include them for both Whitehouse and wife/husband, to the best of their ability and knowledge.  As announced on the index page of this website, I shall be carrying out a review of my work on Whitehouses, in order to reduce the time spent on this activity to a level which is sustainable for me.  Absolutely nothing will be treated as sacred in this review and there will certainly be drastic changes.  By the way, I wonder how many people actually read this newsletter.  If you are reading this bit, please take a few moments to e-mail me.  Use the address [address deleted] and the subject line “Read Newsletter”.


US census and marriage indexes launched

The Kentucky farmers tree brought with it the immediate problem of referencing it and has forced me into starting to index Whitehouses in the US census and to build a marriage index.  I have decided to index the 1840 to 1880 US censuses in a comprehensive manner, that is to say to cover all Whitehouses and variants thereon and to progress slowly, state by state.  So, today I am putting onto the website the 1840, 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses of Indiana and Kentucky.  For the 1880 census, I have been able to include two other states, Illinois and Texas, and calculate that this gives coverage of about 25 percent of all the USA.  This exercise has been carried out using the “Ancestry” search facility.  I am sorry to report that there are again many weird versions of the name in the “Ancestry” index.  Subtle searching has uncovered some, but probably not all.


I have no access to official US marriage records, which seem to be held in the individual counties within the states, and so have decided to make this file a “refs” one, in which only those marriages that can be referenced to a Whitehouse tree in my collection, are included.   At present, I have only indexed the Kentucky farmers tree and one English tree with an emigrant to the US.


Dudley baptisms and burials

It has long been a principle of mine to keep improving and adding to the records on this website, no matter that some correspondence does not receive attention as promptly as I would like.  The parish church of Dudley, St Thomas, has long been an annoyance to me, mainly because the IGI does not cover baptisms in a straightforward way and because the burials are not in the National Burials Index.  I  have therefore created my own indexed transcripts covering 1813 to 1846, which have been compiled by “trawling” through films and using the church’s rough draft index and the confusing IGI batches as checking aids.  In a rare departure from the norm, I uploaded these in mid-quarter.


Marriage details

Please forgive the repetition, but many readers are still unaware of the marriage details files now available on this website.  There are three of them, covering Dudley, West Bromwich and Birmingham Registration Districts for the years 1837 (1st July) to 1911.  They show everything on the marriage certificate except the name of the officiating minister or registrar and whether the parties and witnesses signed or made a mark.  These files have been compiled from church registers, nearly wholly from those of anglican churches.  I am very pleased to report that I have been able to add to the Birmingham file, which now covers 57% of all marriages in that registration district, up to 1911.  This figure needs to be set in the context that another 16% are non-anglican marriages, the details of which are difficult to obtain, the GRO being the principal source.


A big thank you to Pat Saul (491) and Caroline Whitehouse (469) who have helped me by looking up a few specific marriages at the Staffordshire Record Office and Dudley Archives.  Offers of even small amounts of help are very, very gratefully received.  Chief need at the moment is for someone willing to look up specific marriage entries at the Birmingham Library.  Also, I have one marriage that needs investigation at the Sandwell Library in Smethwick.


Best wishes to all readers,




Newsletter, 30th June 2009


Want to register ?  Join the queue now !

There have been 12 new registrations this quarter (reference numbers 239, 283 and 489 to 498), making a total of 23 for the half year.  This level of activity is unsustainable for me and something will have to change soon.  The tree of correspondent 493 (Pamela Claire Phillips) is currently being worked on.  Behind her in the queue are 239, 495, 496 and 498 - and some of the trees are large.  At the same time, there is follow-up correspondence, which sometimes involves extensive revision of trees that have already been digitised.  My current advice to anyone wishing to register is to get in the queue as soon as possible and submit a good quality tree, replete with exact dates, places and occupations and giving census references.


Some people don’t understand the registration concept.  They think they are going to be asked to do time-consuming research.  They are not, but they are asked to get together the information that they possess and present it as a tree in a clear and comprehensible manner, if appropriate using the materials available on my website.


Marriage details

Many readers are still unaware of the marriage details files now available on this website.  There are three of them, covering Dudley, West Bromwich and Birmingham Registration Districts for the years 1837 (1st July) to 1911.  They show everything on the marriage certificate except the name of the officiating minister or registrar and whether the parties and witnesses signed or made a mark. 


In Dudley Registration District, which covers Coseley, Dudley, Ettingshall*, Lower & Upper Gornal, Rowley Regis, Sedgley (including St Mary, Hurst Hill*) and Tipton, the index is complete for all Anglican churches and gives the detail of 95% of all Whitehouse marriages.  West Bromwich RD covers Birchfield*, Hamstead*, Handsworth*, Moxley*, Oldbury, Perry Barr*, West Bromwich and Wednesbury.  This is complete for all except 8 Anglican marriages and shows the particulars of 84% of all Whitehouse marriages.  The asterisked parishes are not included in the West Midlands BMD website.  There is still much work to be done on the Birmingham marriage details file, launched on this website on 20th May 2009, but coverage up to 1875 is good.


Register Office and non-conformist marriages are a great problem, as an official GRO marriage certificate is usually the only way to get the details.  Both West Bromwich and Birmingham have around 16% of these.  It follows that contributions of scans of such marriage certificates from correspondents are “valuable” and very welcome.  More generally, I am collecting the details from Whitehouse marriage certificates and church registers in all areas of the UK for the above time period of 1 July 1837 to 1911, so please send them in.  The information is entered onto a Marriage Details database, so the certificate itself is not a “holy document” for me and it’s fine to scan it in two overlapping portions.  This request applies (1) only to marriage certificates (2) only to marriages which are not already on the Dudley, West Bromwich and Birmingham files marriage details mentioned above and (3) only to the time period of 1 July 1837 to 1911 (England & Wales: starting dates in Scotland, Ireland etc. are later, but the 1911 cut-off remains).


Census transcripts

Astonishingly too, I still get family trees that have obviously been drawn up without any regard to the 1841-1871 census transcripts on this website.  These are pretty good transcripts and to the best of my knowledge are highly complete.


The 1911 census

This remains primarily a referencing file - an additional place for correspondents to have their WFHC reference displayed and so enable contacts to be made.  However, in a change of policy from 3 months ago, I have now decided to admit all Whitehouse-containing households.  So, please send in “bosh shots”, making it clear that they have no connection with your tree.  I am using the designation “NRA” (stands for No Reference Allotted) for these other entries.


More quirks

I wrote in March that the quarter had seen several oddities.  The same is true of  April to June.  First, there was the problem in looking for a marriage of William Green Whitehouse at Birmingham St Philip on 25th May 1855, not present in the Latter Day Saints’ film (they failed to film four pages of a register) and when my colleague Karen Burnell kindly checked the original register for me, she found that the couple had never married.  Amazingly, the GRO indexed this non-marriage - and Karen said she had come across another instance of this.


A couple of changes of name surfaced.  The first is well documented - a Job Whitehouse who was born and died Job and appears on censuses as Job, but married in 1906 as Joseph, signing himself in that name.  The second is more “iffy”.  Correspondent 364 has been looking for a long time for Charles Whitehouse, a chimney sweep in Tamworth, who was born in Welford, Northants around 1830, but is absent from the 1841 and 1851 censuses.  There were very few Whitehouses in Northants at that time and none known to be in Welford.  His ingenious solution is that his ancestor called himself Charles Norman in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, for there is a chimney sweep of that name and of the right age, born in Welford, working for a Thomas Orme.  Presumably he lost his father at an early age and was put out as an apprentice. The next step for my correspondent will be to search the Welford parish registers, which are not covered by the IGI.


The Sedgley Farmers Tree

The outstanding event this quarter has undoubtedly been the huge contributions made to the large tree of well off Whitehouse farmers in the Coseley area of Sedgley (WFHC 148 283 361 427 429 488).  First, new correspondent 283 came up with an old family tree going back to 1640 plus a family list of births and marriages in the second half of the 18th century.  Then correspondent 488 arrived with extracts from the two surviving, wonderfully evocative, diaries of Elisha Whitehouse, dated 1819 and 1825, held  by her family.  Finally, I was able to link into the tree the genealogy of the canal carriers, John Whitehouse & Sons of Dudley.  The tree runs to 11 pages.  It has occupied a great deal of my time, partly accounting for the queue referred to above.


West Midlands BMD

I wrote last time that I had been investigating “missing” marriages in the West Midlands BMD marriage index:


There were about 19 Whitehouse marriages that were in the GRO index under Dudley Registration District, but not listed in this local index.  Eventually, with no help from Dudley Register Office (no response) or Dudley Archives (passed my enquiry to the GRO, who gave no response) and not much from the webmaster, I hit upon the explanation.  These marriages took place at Ettingshall Holy Trinity and Sedgley St. Mary (at Hurst Hill).  They don’t appear in the West Midlands BMD index because that index covers only the modern Dudley Registration District which does not now include those two parishes - they fall within Wolverhampton RD.  This means that if you are seeking a birth, death or marriage within those parishes in the period up to 1911 and apply to the Dudley Registrar for a certificate, you probably won’t get one.


Help wanted

I have asked a couple of  Whitehouse correspondents for help with a marriage at Dudley Archives and several at Staffordshire Record Office.  I now need help in Birmingham Central Library and in Cannock, Walsall and Wolverhampton Local Studies, to make further progress with my marriage indexes.  I do hope that there might be some volunteers - they will be very welcome.  Just get in touch by e-mail and I will call you to discuss.


Best wishes to all readers,




Newsletter,  29th March 2009


Records take huge leap forward

The publication today on this website of two marriage details indexes is a sensational advance.

Between 1st July 1837 and the end of 1911, there were over 1500 marriages of Whitehouses in Dudley Registration District and over 1000 in the neighbouring West Bromwich RD.  Together they make up nearly 30% of all Whitehouse marriages in England & Wales during this period.  The new indexes include all the essential detail that is found on a marriage certificate.  Coverage is just over 93% of all Dudley marriages and just over 70% of all West Bromwich ones.  The indexes have been compiled mainly by searching in church records, but with the help of some marriage certificates for the ceremonies that took place in non-conformist churches and the Register Office.


I know that there are imperfections and hope to put them right before long.  In particular the West Bromwich file contains relatively few entries for Handsworth and tackling this deficiency will be a priority.  I want to thank Pat Molloy (WFHC 409) for recent help in improving some of the entries from films and fiches at the Sandwell Community History and Archives Service in Smethwick.  Thanks also to Sylvia Peers (Member of the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry) who helped me by visiting Dudley Archives and plugging a significant hole in my records.


The Whitehouse FHC is keenly collecting marriage certificates from correspondents, with a view to establishing similar marriage details files for other areas.


1911 census referencing file off to a good start

Another big thank you to all who visited the website and saw my appeal for entries from this census.  Please contribute if you can.  Contributions must (a) contain the Whitehouse name and (b) relate to your tree (or some other correspondent’s).  The original schedule is greatly preferred.  I have put the current referencing file on the website - it contains 17 households.  As with the other censuses, this is a sortable indexed transcript in MS Excel 2003.


New correspondents

Maybe it has to do with the 1911 census or maybe it’s a diversion from the economic gloom, but this quarter has seen something of a tide of new people wanting to register.  There have been 11 new registrations (reference numbers 045 130 349 and 481 - 488).  All except one of them have been linked into existing trees.  I have struggled to cope and the ongoing programme of digitising the trees of existing correspondents has inevitably suffered.


Quirks at the GRO

This quarter has seen several oddities.  The strangest must be the case of the wrong marriage date.  Pat Molloy (above) received a certificate from the GRO giving the date of a marriage of Sarah Whitehouse to Edward Green in 1861 as 23rd May, but the church register (West Bromwich St James) contained no marriage at all on that date.  Moreover, the certificate contained a church register entry number that clearly related to the marriage of another couple.  In fact, the Whitehouse-Green wedding took place in the next quarter, on 14th July, where it has been indexed correctly.  The explanation for this oddity must lie in a copying foul-up when a copy register was sent to the GRO and someone had a lapse of concentration.  A side-result is that another marriage was apparently never copied and so is not indexed by the GRO.


Another clag-up affected an 1845 marriage at Wolverhampton St Peter, where Ellen Whitehouse’s forename was miscopied as Eliza.


Anyone interested in the marriage of Elizabeth Whitehouse to Joseph Dudley on 13th August 1862 at West Bromwich St. Peter had better beware, as the GRO have indexed it as Whitehorne.


West Midlands BMD

I have been investigating “missing” marriages in the West Midlands marriage index:


There are about 19 Whitehouse marriages that are in the GRO index under Dudley Registration District that are not listed in this local index.  The worrying aspect is that the missing marriages are not just isolated quirks, but form parts of significant blocks of missing entries.  Apparently, the West Midlands BMD index has been taken from the index in use at the Dudley Register Office.  If this is true, it means that Dudley RO is not a comprehensive source.  To put it another way, if you apply there for a marriage certificate and don’t get one, you shouldn’t assume that the marriage didn’t take place.  I have reported the matter to the West Midlands BMD webmaster and to Dudley Archives, who referred my enquiry to the GRO in Southport and to Dudley Register Office.  More news next time.


A French birth certificate

Thomas Whitehouse, a Darlaston coal miner, went to France in the 1840s, where his son, Thomas was born.  Here is the birth certificate issued by the Rouen registrar in 1844:  French birth cert TW.pdf .   Notice that neither parent was present and that it was reported by the midwife.  In the circumstances, one can forgive the mangled version of Mangotsfield (a village near Bristol) as the place of marriage of the parents and the Frenchified version of the mother’s maiden name of Everett.  The marriage date was also wrong, probably simply guessed.


French birth certificates are not easy to find, because there was no centralised registration system - one has to apply to every town hall in the area.  Here, the WFHC correspondent was fortunate, as the 1881 census said Rouen, and it turned out to be accurate.  A little piece of history came to light, because, apparently a large number of English labourers was recruited to work on constructing the Paris - Rouen - Le Havre railway line.  Another census indicated that Thomas’ daughter, Sarah, was born in Paris.  Alas, the birth records went up in flames in 1871, 8 million being lost.


Enjoy your genealogy,




Newsletter,  7th January 2009 with amdts



Progress has continued at some speed.  This quarter has seen the completion up to date of the 1881 census referencing file, put on the website for the first time.  Referencing files contain only those entries that relate to correspondents’ trees that have been digitised.  Thus, this is in no sense a complete index.  It doesn’t cover the many trees in my files that exist merely in paper form and, of course, doesn’t cover census entries that have not yet been related to any Whitehouse FHC correspondent.  Nevertheless, this referencing file has 2614 names, of which 2046 are Whitehouses.  This means that it covers more than a quarter of all Whitehouses in that census.  There are 469 addresses, so the number of people in each household or extracted from an institution is on average 5.57.


Another novelty this quarter is the abolition of the NON-GRO MARRIAGES file.  This was set up to provide a home for marriages between 1st July 1837 and the end of 1911 in which either the Whitehouse or the spouse could not be found in the GRO index.  This database has been gradually shrinking, thanks to better detective work and removal of errors.  At last, it has got to the point where there are only three missing references.  These have been added to the main file GRO M 1837-1911 and classed as variants (symbol “v” appears in a separate column in the main file, which is a prompt to the reader to consult the GRO VARIANTS file to obtain the name as indexed or a mention that the item is unindexed by the GRO).


A good deal of information (spouses, dates, churches) has been added to the GRO MARRIAGES file in the last 3 months.  I shall be commenting more fully at the next update due at around 1st April 2009.


The inrush of new registrations at the Whitehouse FHC in December, which has delayed this update, has brought the total for the year to 35 and for the three years 2006 to 2008 to 92.  These 92 new registrations have the references 415 to 480, 107, 112, 118, 124, 126, 127, 128, 129, 138, 140, 141, 145, 146, 149, 154, 159, 168, 169, 172, 177, 216, 230, 266, 275, 343 and 347.  Four correspondents were de-listed this quarter, since their data did not include a firm marriage or census reference of 1881 or earlier or, in one instance, because of a divorce.  The numbers were then re-allotted.


It should be explained that as long as the person is still contactable, he is given the opportunity to make good the deficiency before he is de-listed.  Previous correspondent 347 is a good example.  I contacted him several times, giving details of the 1890s marriage certificate that he needed to make progress with his tree.  Finally, I was so confident that the certificate would provide a breakthrough that I offered to do the further work for him.  Alas, he claimed to be too busy to spend a few minutes on line to buy a marriage certificate.  Maybe he just didn’t want to spend the £7.


In the last quarter, the files of 15 existing correspondents were put on computer under the RADAP (Re-indexing, Archiving, ­Digitisation And Paper-destruction) project.  That brings the grand total completed to 291 out of 480, which is just over 60%.  It seems great, until one appreciates that the influx of new registrations, the trees of all of which are digitised straight away, boosts the overall percentage.  The more pessimistic statistic is that there remain the paper trees of 189 genealogies still to be worked on, re-indexed and put on computer.



Please, please tell me whenever you change one of these.  Every quarter I spend time in detective work, trying to find correspondents who have forgotten about the WHITEHOUSE FAMILY HISTORY CENTRE and have changed their e-address.  Usually they are in a telephone directory, so a quick call does the trick.  Sometimes I have to leave a message on voicemail and get no reply for days (and, in one case, I still haven’t heard anything after several weeks).  Sometimes I have to send a letter overseas - at my own expense.  Of course, none of these works when the person has moved and changed his telephone number and his e-mail address.  Occasionally, I get lucky because someone else knows or because “Google” finds me a business address.


Also, please, please provide me with a telephone number.  It really does remain private and is for my own use only.  As stated elsewhere on the web site, I never give out a telephone number to anyone (not even a cousin), unless I have specific authority to do so.  Discussion is needed from time to time and, curiously perhaps, people will tell you things that they have omitted to put in writing.  Of course, another main reason is to provide a back-up for failed e-mails.


Not sure whether you are a registered correspondent or not ?  If you have contacted me during the past 28 years, you probably are, but, please, just ask !  I shan’t mind in the least.  Contact me by e-mail:  see the Guild of One-Name Studies web site at www.one-name.org  (look under Whitehouse).



Every so often, I encounter an “instant genealogist”.  Such people don’t want to register, but simply want to extract information from me and move on.  That is a pity, for two reasons.  Firstly, my records are improving all the time, enabling me to create better trees.  Secondly, link-ups with distant cousins can occur at any time and result in useful new information.  Many are created every quarter as new correspondents get in touch and register.  The system really does work.  It’s all absolutely free.  It has been for 28 years and I have no plans to change that.


There are a few who do not want to reveal their postal addresses.  So, why do I make this a requirement for registration ?   Here are my answers:

(a) Those who provide only an e-address are, in effect, unidentifiable, that is to say anonymous.  Thus, often some of their information can never be verified, not even their own name.  That strikes at the heart of good genealogy in which people are accountable for what they have written, encouraging them to be accurate and honest.  With a postal address, someone can knock at the door and meet them.  Of course, postal addresses are divulged only to connected people, usually distant cousins but sometimes those who are connected by a marriage.  I have no intention of making them available on this web site or publishing them in any other way, except as a last resort when all attempts at contacting the correspondent have failed .

(b) They can change their e-address at any time and there is then no reliable way of getting in touch with them.  Tom Anderson, believed to be in the United States, last heard of at kerr38@aol.com in 2001:  if you are out there somewhere, please get in touch, because I have now found that your George Whitehouse born 21 Jan 1845 in Tipton links into a big tree that goes back many generations and is also very “wide”.  Please quote WFHC references 145 226 287 421.

(c)  A few of my correspondents are not on e-mail and so would be unable to contact the “anonymous” cousin easily.


By the way, I’m not anonymous.  My address is published in Registration FAQs and I will give my telephone number, which is ex-directory, to any registered correspondent who wants to call me for a telephone discussion.  I do meet correspondents from time to time and am happy for them to come to my home.  A little notice is advisable.  Many years ago, someone came from Australia waited for hours on my doorstep when I happened to be in London all day and my wife was also out.  I could quite well have met him there if only I had known.



She married young

Delving into the tree of correspondent 165, I discovered that one Hannah Whitehouse, clearly shown as aged 3 on the 1861 census, 13 on the 1871, married in December 1872, giving her age as 19.  She can have been no more than 15, possibly only 14.  This is the lowest well-documented age at marriage that I have encountered in English genealogy.  However, a cousin of mine in Canada married at 12, when that was perfectly legal.


A great let-down

“FIND MORE ANCESTORS ON THE INTERNET” was the cover headline on the October issue of the monthly magazine “Your Family Tree”.  We’d all like to do that.  I was really interested to learn that “Findmypast” has produced an index of applicants for passports covering the years 1851-56, 1858-62 and 1874-1903.  Here, I thought, would be an interesting way of finding Whitehouses who went abroad.  Alas, reality did not meet expectation.  The information given was merely name, passport number and date, no address or other details.  One had to search year by year.  The first two periods were relatively easy to search, yielding just 13 Whitehouses.  I recognised “Henry B” (August 1854) as probably the iron master Henry Bickerton Whitehouse and “William M M” (February 1853 and September 1855) must be the solicitor William Matthew Mills Whitehouse.  “Wildman” (December 1858) equates to Edward Orange Wildman Whitehouse, an inventor who lived at substantial addresses.  The others consisted of two Roberts, two Selinas, one of them Mrs. Selina, John, David, Rosetta, Joseph and William.  This was a search going nowhere and it got there even faster when I found that for 1874 to 1903 one had to search year by year in a calendar of every surname beginning with the letter “W”, arranged in date order.  Needless to say, I found better things to do.


... and another let-down

Assiduous readers of these quarterly newsletters (yes, there are some !) might recall that I planned to trawl the Annual Reports of The Royal Surgical Aid Society, which were featured in “Family Tree Magazine”, August 2007, under the heading “Unusual printed sources”.  They list subscribers to the society, which provided surgical aids to the poor.  It turned out that these volumes are so unusual that they are not listed in the three most obvious places to look, namely the catalogues of the British Library, the Society of Genealogists and the Wellcome Library.  I sent a small rocket to the editor for not making these checks and not telling readers where they could be found.


There’s a sequel to this.  To her credit, the editor asked readers for help and one replied.  She had found that there is just one volume of Annual Reports, for the year 1870, in the British Library catalogue under “Surgical Aid Society” (without the “Royal”) and I have now been to the BL and read it.  The slim volume, measuring about 5 x 7 inches listed subscribers on pages 13 to 44.  There were no Whitehouses and just 11 Smiths, 2 Joneses and 1 Williams.  There was nothing to excite members of the Guild of  One-name Studies, as few of the names were unusual.  Indeed, some of these donors were anonymous and postal addresses were not always given.  In short it was a “washout”.


Apparently, Annual Reports of the Manchester Branch of the Surgical Aid Society, from 1898 to 1948, are held at the Manchester Archives, but these are probably too modern to be of much interest.


Whitehouse industrialists

There are few famous Whitehouses.  The most celebrated Whitehouse is Cornelius, featured in the section on patents in MISC EXPLANATIONS and below.  He wasn’t an industrialist in the true sense of running a large business, but his pioneer invention relating to tube welding gave rise to many businesses.  Three others, who ran large businesses in the West Midlands in the 19th century, are

Henry Bickerton Whitehouse, an iron master in Sedgley;

John Whitehouse, a brassfounder in Aston; and

another John Whitehouse, iron master, who owned the Ridgacre Iron Works in West Bromwich.

All four of them appear in the family trees of WFHC correspondents.


Trees on the web site

As many of you know, I draw my trees in Microsoft Excel 2003 in a “tall tree” format, with the oldest ancestor placed at the left-hand side of a portrait page of A4 (210 x 297 mm).  The conventional form of chart is called “drop line” and has the oldest ancestor at the top of a landscape sheet.  A problem with “drop line” is the huge waste of space, made worse by the use of specialist genealogical computer programs, which are also objectionable because the ordinary person (not having the right software) can’t read them.  Well, I don’t mind receiving trees in any shape or form, so long as they are not digital files written in one of these specialist formats or in gedcom.   In particular legible scans or print-outs are absolutely fine and if they occupy many pages, I just stick them together.  I re-draw nearly all the trees sent to me in Excel and usually throw away the originals.  So, minor untidiness won’t matter.


For new readers who have not seen any of my trees, I’m displaying today two samples:

Cornelius Whitehouse

John Whitehouse, the iron master of  “Ridgacre”: 

[Note:  these trees have been updated, so the links have been removed, but they are available from the Index page]


It does take practice and a small amount of “trickery” to draw trees in Excel and I certainly don’t expect my correspondents to amend and return them.  Corrections and additions in prose are absolutely fine, as I can usually incorporate the changes in seconds.


Strange goings on for “001”

I look with great affection on my very first correspondent, Eric Whitehouse, alas deceased, but, happily, replaced by his son.  My correspondence with him began in November 1978 and his early contributions to creating an index of census entries of Whitehouses were invaluable.  We had in common that we had contemporary ancestors in Birmingham, both called Charles, both in the industrial quarter, mine a brass founder, his a tool maker.  They weren’t related, but we helped each other.  Some 15 years afterwards, I was able to join a cousin, WFHC ref. 182, into his tree and she possessed a family photo taken in about 1856.  What joy for Eric’s son and a wonderful advertisement for how the Whitehouse FHC can yield dividends for the patient.  So there, you miserable “instant genealogists” !!


Actually, the tree originally produced by Eric, although extensive, was hand-drawn and graphically untidy, which is why I had been putting off digitising it.  So I was very glad when along came new correspondent 478, with the news that one of his Whitehouse family had died in Sydney (Australia) in 1884 and that the informant at the death had been one R.E. Langford, cousin.  He identified this informant as Richard Earnest Langford, whose mother’s maiden name was Whitehouse.  So far so good.  I had no problem in locating these Langfords as part of the 001 182 family group.  However, the nature of the cousinship was far from clear, so I was driven to re-research and re-draw Eric’s tree, aided by a re-processed version sent by his son and improved records of mine.  The mystery is not yet solved, but is an interesting “talking point”.


The 001 tree has several interesting features, one of which is the 1851 census return for Emma Whitehouse and John Harvey, which shows them as married, when the ceremony did not take place until November of that year.  Her husband, Isaac, had died some years before, so the problem, if there was one, must have lain with John Harvey.  Another feature appears on Eric’s son’s re-processed tree, in which he alleges that a 1930s marriage was bigamous.  I am asking him for more about this.  A third oddity is one that Eric and I encountered early on, which is that when Isaac Whitehouse, the tool-maker, married the above-mentioned Emma in 1839, his father’s name was given as John (his grandfather), rather than Charles (her father).  Isaac was only 18, his father 48 and, to judge from the photo, had a commanding presence.  One can imagine that the incumbent, busily writing in the church register, said to Charles something like “Name of father ?”, as a result of which he gave the name of his own father, rather than Isaac’s, i.e. himself.   Here is the tree to date:  [Tree updated:  please access from the Index page].


The 1911 census beta-test

Some of you will know that part of the 1911 census was made available to interested parties to test, just for a few days around Christmas, when few of us had any spare time.  However, I did explore the website’s capability of producing lists of Whitehouses. 


To reproduce the whole of my comments would be too tedious, but to mention some main points:

- The site refused to produce a complete list for any of the three West Midlands counties, on the grounds that the number was too large (it ran into thousands).

- An attempt to break down the list into 20 searches of 5 years each hit problems.

- The search capability was generally poor, with searches by forename only being disallowed and the lack of the wild card facility so helpful in “Ancestry”.  Searches by age were limited to plus or minus 2 years.

- The index layout was appalling, with huge amounts of space being wasted, apparently so as to make it as difficult and expensive as possible to print out a paper list.  Editing the list into Microsoft Word proved very tiresome, with columns having to be deleted, font size reduced, spaces removed from cells etc.


I did find one good thing to say.  I tested the incidence of likely mistranscriptions, using three names that don’t exist (as far as I know), with the following result, which is not at all bad:

WHITCHOUSE:  21 hits  (probably misreadings of WHITEHOUSE)

WHILEHOUSE: 3 hits (probably misreadings of WHITEHOUSE)

WATEHOUSE: 2 hits (probably misreadings of WATERHOUSE)


I hope that some notice will be taken of my comments, but I am not holding my breath: doubtless the project has already passed a point of no return in terms of major changes in software design.  The final version is supposed to be going public in 2009.  By the way, there’s serious cost involved in obtaining images of the schedule.


What a long newsletter this quarter !  Next time, it’ll be a short one and, I hope, more punctual.


Very best wishes for 2009,




Newsletter,  25th September 2008  with amdts



This has been a busy quarter, as I have begun work on establishing a fuller marriage index for Whitehouses, with all the important detail given on the civil marriage certificates.  I shall be concentrating my efforts first on Dudley registration district.  The results of this are yet to appear on the website.


Eight Lichfield diocese wills and administrations in the period 1725 to 1730 have been indexed and added to the probate file.  The 1891 census of the Cannock area, covering pieces RG12/2220 - 2222, has been re-launched after checking.


There were 57 new correspondents registered in 2006 or 2007.  They have the references 415 to 458, 107, 112, 118, 124, 127, 128, 138, 140, 159, 169, 177, 230 and 266.  In the first quarter of 2008, I registered 6 newcomers, referenced 216 and 459 to 463.  In the second quarter, there were 8 new registrations, numbered 146, 149, 172 and 464 to 468.  In the last period, over the summer months, there were another 8  9 new registrations, numbered 126, 129, 154, 275, 343 and 469 to 472.  Once again, some correspondents were de-listed, since their data did not include a firm marriage or census reference of 1881 or earlier.  The numbers were then re-allotted.


The files of 15 existing correspondents were put on computer under the RADAP (Re-indexing, Archiving, ­Digitisation And Paper-destruction) project.  Following an overhaul of my register and a re-count, the number of correspondents with trees on computer has risen to 264, which is 56% of the total.  It’s morale-strengthening to have crossed the half way mark.



No laughing matter

A new correspondent (467) unearthed a strange event in which after his wife died, the widower married his step-daughter.  James & Sarah Whitehouse, who lived in Birmingham, married in 1839 and had 7 children, including Sarah Jane Whitehouse, born in 1847.  James, a metal roller, died at the age of about 45, probably at around 1862.  His widow, Sarah, re-married in 1866 to Thomas Laugher, a wire weaver.  The marriage lasted 20 years until Sarah’s death in 1886.  Just ten weeks after that, Thomas Laugher married his wife’s daughter, Sarah Jane Whitehouse.  


This wasn’t legitimate at the time, but, perhaps strangely, it would be now.  This is because Sarah Jane was over 18 when her mother married Thomas Laugher, so Thomas was never in a parent-child relationship with the step-daughter.


I am no stranger to dodgy marriages, as my own ancestor, Charles Whitehouse, brassfounder of Birmingham and later gas fitter of Dudley, illegally married his deceased wife’s sister in 1844.  Amusingly, her maiden name was Sly.


Whitehead rears its ugly head in the GRO index

Correspondent 154, whose native language is not English, has done exceptionally well to ignore my website and look for a suspected Whitehouse marriage as late as 1882 in the IGI.  Worryingly, from my point of view, the General Register Office indexed it under Whitehead.  I inspected the church register (Bordesley, St. Andrew) and found that the name was unmistakeably Whitehouse.  After resolving a query about the exact date of another marriage there, I opened up the tree of correspondent 423 and realised that there might be a connection to tree 154.  So I got in touch with correspondent 423 - thank goodness she had told me of her new e-mail address, as she had moved and changed her telephone number - and obtained the evidence needed to confirm the connection.  A link-up was thus created.  I tell the story to show yet again that the WFHC works and to remind all correspondents please to tell me when they change their e-mail, telephone number or home address.


Humbled in Bristol

My good friend Gary (362 & 414) has accidentally humiliated me by finding his Elizabeth Whitehouse in Bristol in the 1851 census, an entry not in my database.  It seems that part of Bristol was omitted from the local indexes, probably because it fell into a hole between Gloucestershire and Somerset.  I have carried out Whit* searches in “Ancestry” to plug the gap, so the 1851 census database is a little larger.


The vital clue was a sampler

A new correspondent added an extra sibling and an unexpected cousinly tie-up to an existing tree.

Geoff (343) knew of a sampler dated 1808 which had passed down his line of descent, but was made by a girl in another part of the tree.  This and other evidence combined together to make a strong case for a Whitehouse marrying a 1st cousin of another name.  It’s a reminder of how well the WFHC can operate sometimes, to the advantage of all who register with me.


The GRO Marriage Index

One thing seldom mentioned in these newsletters is the GRO Marriage Index database.  Every quarter it improves in a variety of ways, through correspondents’ trees, by the kindness of fellow-members of the Guild of One-name Studies who send me entries and by my own searches.  Sometimes the index changes subtly, as this last quarter when a Whitehouse was found who had been mis-registered as a Whitehead and a Whitehead was found who had been mis-registered as a Whitehouse.


It has been reported that the GRO’s project to computerise their births, marriages and deaths indexes and make them available on-line has run into trouble.  The contract has been terminated.  This is a great pity, as we are being deprived of ages at death before 1866 and the names of spouses before 1911.  All this makes me pleased that my Whitehouse GRO Marriage Index is now a really valuable tool.  Very often one finds that there are so many spouses listed that are not the right ones for a particular marriage, there is only one possibility remaining and a search in FreeBMD can provide a degree of confirmation.


“A place in the Sun”

Volunteers are still hard at work in the Guildhall Library, London, transcribing the names and addresses from the fire insurance policy registers of the Sun Fire Assurance Co.  They have been working backwards from 1839 and have now reached 1803, although the index goes only as far as 1808.  They hope to join up with the work done many years ago on 1775-1787.  The latter project also covered Royal Exchange policies.  I have ordered up some of the registers and thereby have been able to improve my index of Whitehouses slightly.  During this process, I discovered an entry which had not been indexed in the Royal Exchange names index, but this joy was offset by failure to find one which was indexed, despite many guesses at the mistake.


Thank you, Caroline

Caroline Whitehouse (469) has been kind enough to respond to my recent appeal for help with the details of Sedgley marriages.  Such kindness gives me a great boost.  Is there anyone else who could help with certain other churches in Dudley and Tipton ?


Best wishes, 




Newsletter,  1st July 2008



This has been a quiet quarter for the WFHC, but three of the indexes have been considerably enhanced,

namely, those for the older wills of the Worcester Diocese, the “Sun” Fire Insurance policies, and Australian marriages.


There were 57 new correspondents registered in 2006 or 2007.  They have the references 415 to 458, 107, 112, 118, 124, 127, 128, 138, 140, 159, 169, 177, 230 and 266.  In the first quarter of 2008, I registered 6 newcomers, referenced 216 and 459 to 463.  In this quarter, there were 8 new registrations, numbered 146, 149, 172 and 464 to 468.  Once again, some correspondents were de-listed, since their data did not include a firm marriage or census reference of 1881 or earlier.  The numbers were then re-allotted.


The files of 10 existing correspondents were put on computer under the RADAP (Re-indexing, Archiving, ­Digitisation And Paper-destruction) project.  The total on computer stands at 225, still not yet half of all Whitehouse genealogies in my files. 



Many thanks to Netta Hughes, a recent comer to the WFHC, who very kindly photocopied from microfilm the papers of eight grants of probate or administration at Worcester, from 1634 to 1729.  Of course, I reimbursed the photocopying and postage costs.   I have placed an order with the Lichfield Record Office for some wills etc. in the 1725 to 1730 year range.   Lichfield have very sensibly decided to charge a set fee per will or administration, regardless of its length.  Currently it is £4, which might seem high, but other record offices charge more.


The “Place in the Sun” project is a voluntary effort to index the policy registers of the Sun Fire Office, which are held at the Guildhall Library.  It has been in progress for 5 years and now covers 1808 to 1839 which have been added to my own index.  I was interested to see there two policies taken out by a Nicholas Whitehouse in London in 1814 and 1816.  I reckon that he is the same man who was born in 1776 in Worfield, Shropshire, and in whom correspondent 468 and another enquirer have a passing interest.  Others in that family were known to have come to London.


Approaches to me this quarter have been unusually varied.   One newcomer found me from a very unusual circumstance.  He had come upon a census containing the wonderful name of  “Dulevingard Whitehouse”, who featured in his tree.  When he searched the forename on Google, my website came up with the sole entry, the search engine having found it in the Newsletters “Backfile”.  The name entered in the census return had been mistranscribed by Ancestry and should have been rendered as Anlevinyard, which was a phonetic attempt at Ann Livinia.


Another route to my  services came from a tip-off by a fellow researcher in a library in the West Midlands.


Two requests for help came from people whose trees had gone wrong, unknown to them.  I was able to set them on the right course.  One of them didn’t have a marriage or census of 1881 or earlier and so didn’t qualify for registration and this reminds me to say that I will try to help with any enquiry.  No one is ever left without a reply. 


Progress in digitisation (“RADAP”) has been slowed by my activities in connection with the centenary of the estate on which I live.  I produced a booklet, the research for which involved tracking down the dates of sale and prices paid for the houses, which were built in the period 1907 to 1914.  In this I was aided by the Inland Revenue Valuation Survey of approx. 1910 and later years.  In 1909 and 1910, an Act of Parliament brought in a tax on the betterment value of the land, the idea being to tax the difference in value of the land when a house was built and when the house was ready for occupation and serviced by electricity, gas, water, roads etc.  However, it was applied to all land as it stood on 30th April 1909 and the “incremental value duty” was levied whenever the property was sold.  This daft Act was eventually repealed in 1920, but before then a small army of valuation officers went round with notebooks and their calculations seemed to require ascertaining the total value of the property (not just the land).   In most instances, the name of the owner or lessee of the property is recorded.   Where, as in my case, the land was built on recently, the valuer would often substitute the price actually paid for his computation of the value.  These notebooks, called “field books” have survived and are to be found at the National Archives, Kew under piece IR 58.  Maps which direct you to the right field books are in IR 121, but it is advisable to obtain help to find the correct map, which is not straightforward.  This little known class of record is in effect a directory of  the UK for approximately 1910.  I thought you might be interested, particularly if you can’t wait for the 1911 census to become public.


Best wishes, 




Newsletter, 27th March 2008



This quarter has seen the completion of two large projects.  The first is the revision of the remainder of the indexed transcript of Whitehouse households in the 1871 census, by going through the counties recently added by “British Origins”.  The second is an upgrade of the GRO Marriages 1837-1911, which has involved obtaining more spouses and churches for the Dudley and Stourbridge Registration Districts.  As a result of this, 61.7% of the marriages now have an assigned spouse.


Two more small, esoteric records have been added to the Miscellaneous section, Great Western Railway Company share transfers upon death or marriage and a very few Staffordshire recusants.



This project for Re-indexing, Archiving, ­Digitisation And Paper-destruction is increasingly taking priority over most other WFHC activities.

As regular readers will know, I am destroying paper files and replacing them with a single neat tree, stored digitally and as a printout, which is being indexed to(principally) :

Pre-GRO marriages (this is a “referencing” file on the website)

GRO marriages 1837 - 1911 on the website

Overseas marriages (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

The 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses on the website

The 1881 census (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

The probate files on the website


The term “referencing file” means a file which contains only entries that relate to correspondents’ trees and is therefore not a complete record of all Whitehouses.


There were 57 new correspondents registered in 2006 or 2007.  They have the references 415 to 458, 107, 112, 118, 124, 127, 128, 138, 140, 159, 169, 177, 230 and 266.  In the first quarter of 2008, I registered 6 newcomers, referenced 216 and 459 to 463.  In case anyone is wondering about the numbering, correspondents’ files are being reviewed and those found not to meet the present day registration requirements, of a Whitehouse marriage or census date of 1881 or earlier, are being removed and the numbers re-issued.   All have trees stored on my computer, with a paper printout.


Under the RADAP project, priority is given to the new correspondents.  Last quarter, I warned that there would be a slow-down in digitising existing correspondents’ files.   I am therefore quite pleased to have completed 19 of these, bringing the total to 207, being 45 percent (up from 39 percent at the end of 2007).




Improved 1871 census transcript

British Origins has been adding more counties to its 1871 census coverage, completing the whole of the 1871 census for England & Wales, with an index hugely superior to Ancestry’s.  This caused me to set aside all other Whitehouse work and check my indexed transcript for all these added counties, which are Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Durham, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northumberland, all of Wales, except Glamorganshire, which had already been covered, Warwickshire and Westmoreland.   Of course, Warwickshire, with 891 names coming up under “Whitehouse All variants”, was the biggest task and yielded 16 new households.  It was pleasing that only one Whitehouse household in Warwickshire was missing from the British Origins index, one that had been indexed by them as Whitehorn and  by Ancestry as Whitchose (picked up by a Whit* search, where * is a wild card representing one or more characters).  The writing here was a little difficult, but Whitehouse seemed the best reading.


This is the point for half a public apology.  Last quarter I grumbled at the poor quality of some of the images on “British Origins”.  In fact, it is possible to zoom these images to a variety of magnifications, selected from a menu and these images are absolutely fine.  It’s only half an apology, because the screen does not explain what to do and I found out only by right-clicking on the mouse to bring up a menu that included the zoom !


GRO Marriage index improved

I was “caught out” by one of my correspondents, who had assigned a church to a marriage in Dudley Registration District, causing me to go to the West Midlands BMD website, where I found that the volunteers had done a lot of further work since my last detailed scrutiny.  This caused me to go through all the marriages in Dudley and Stourbridge Registration Districts listed in my GRO index (1837 - 1911) transcript, matching them up to those found in West Midlands BMD and then using Free BMD to verify the spouse names.  It was very time-consuming, but worthwhile.  Some problems resulted, not least the fact that more than 40 GRO Whitehouse marriages are missing from the West Midlands BMD index.  Also, I would like to thank correspondent Andrea Hackney for making available to me a Short Heath (Willenhall) Holy Trinity transcript, enabling me to add details of about 20 additional marriages there.  With other contributions and researches, the number of marriages with an assigned spouse has risen this quarter by 700 and now stands at 5495 (61.7%).  Of course, eventually, when the GRO digitisation project has been completed (2009 ?), all marriages will be cross-referenced by spouses.


One anomalous marriage turned out to be of an Elizabeth Woodhouse in 1849 at Dudley St. Thomas, which the GRO had indexed as both Whitehouse and Woodhouse.  Having verified Woodhouse from the church register, I removed it from the GRO index transcript.


Already, I am planning the next stage, which is to expand my marriage index to include nearly all the full details that are shown on a marriage certificate.  A pilot exercise, for Dudley St. Thomas, is in progress.


Esoteric records

The MISC EXPLANATIONS file has been expanded slightly, now including the GWR Shareholders index, newly created by the Society of Genealogists.  This isn’t quite the exciting or lengthy document that might appear from its name, because it relates only to transfers that occurred outside the stock market, i.e. chiefly upon, death, marriage or change of name.  However, some of the more prominent Whitehouses have been identified in it and a WFHC reference assigned to them.


I had planned to trawl the annual reports of The Royal Surgical Aid Society, which were featured in

“Family Tree Magazine”, August 2007, under the heading “Unusual printed sources”.  They list subscribers to the society, which provided surgical aids to the poor.  It turned out that these volumes are so unusual that they are not listed in the three most obvious places to look, namely the catalogues of the British Library, the Society of Genealogists and the Wellcome Library.  I sent a small rocket to the editor for not making these checks and not telling readers where they could be found.  I did subsequently receive a couple of suggestions, but to my way of thinking the author of the article (John Titford) ought to have done his homework properly and not placed the burden on the reader.  Somehow, I don’t think my letter to the editor of FTM will be published.


Thank you, Andrew and Jean

My public thanks to Andrew Clayton of Tipton, who has contributed Dudley material to my paper collection.  He has been a kind and assiduous researcher, so I pulled his file out and digitised it.   When I digitise files, I work on them to ensure that I index as many marriages, censuses and probates as I can find, often extending the tree sideways to cover the marriages of brothers and sisters and sometimes going further back than the correspondent.  I hope I have “added value” to Andrew’s, although his was one of the better researched.


“I can't believe how much progress I've made since you emailed me, Dulcie and I'm so thankful to Keith...  ... for putting us in touch with each other.”   Jean Smith of Coventry is one of my earliest correspondents and has waited over 20 years to be linked up with her husband’s cousin, Dulcie.   It’s a reminder that these connections can occur after 2 days (yes, really) or as long as 25 years (this has also happened).  The Whitehouse Family History Centre started life in 1981 as the Whitehouse Information Centre.  Jean was a contributor to the collection of records in early days, when there were few census indexes, so the thanks are mutual.


Contacting me

Please see Section 6 of REGISTRATION FAQs.  At least some people manage to work out that the 10-letter surname is Whitehouse, the three initials are fhc and the supermarket is Waitrose.


Best wishes,




Newsletter, 1st January 2008



This has been a quiet quarter as regards improving the records, because I have been giving as much impetus as I can to the RADAP project (see below).   However, I have completed the first stage of checking the 1841 census for the West Midlands, covering the whole of Registration Districts 977 to 985, 996 and 997. 


British Origins has recently been adding more counties to its 1871 census coverage and so I have started the big task of checking my transcript, using the British Origins index.


For a bit of light relief, I have extracted the Whitehouses from the new “Civil Service Evidence of Age Index”, which is on the “Findmypast” website - there were just three !



This project for Re-indexing, Archiving, ­Digitisation And Paper-destruction is increasingly taking priority over most other WFHC activities.

As regular readers will know, I am destroying paper files and replacing them with a single neat tree, stored digitally and as a printout, which is being indexed to(principally) :

Pre-GRO marriages (this is a “referencing” file on the website)

GRO marriages 1837 - 1911 on the website

Overseas marriages (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

The 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses on the website

The 1881 census (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

The probate files on the website


The term “referencing file” means a file which contains only entries that relate to correspondents’ trees and is therefore not a complete record of all Whitehouses.


There were 57 new correspondents registered in 2006 or 2007.  They have the references 415 to 458, 107, 112, 118, 124, 127, 128, 138, 140, 159, 169, 177, 230 and 266.  In case anyone is wondering about the numbering, correspondents’ files are being reviewed and those found not to meet the present day registration requirements, of a Whitehouse marriage or census date of 1881 or earlier, are being removed and the numbers re-issued.   All have trees stored on my computer, with a paper printout.


Under the RADAP project, priority is given to the new correspondents.  The general aim to deal with all these and to meet a target of computerising the trees of “old”, pre-2006 correspondents at the rate of 25 per quarter.  It is hard going, mainly because nearly all the trees have to be re-drawn and many need “armchair searching”, as I call it.  Altogether, I have completed the trees of 182 correspondents, which is 39 percent of the total of 457.


There will be a slow-down during the next half of the year, because I need to complete the writing up of my Butler and McCreath family histories, as well that of as my own Whitehouse line.  However, I shall give prompt attention to all new correspondents, as usual.


Experiences of the quarter

Genealogically stated, this has been a very disrupted quarter.  After 24 years, I have re-decorated my study.  This was no small job, as it meant taking down wall furniture, making good some damaged plaster, bricking up a fireplace, re-plastering a wall, making a new giant notice board (if anyone would like to know how to make one - mine is 5 ft 7 in long x 4 ft high x 27 mm thick - get in touch), mending a bookcase, re-hanging the wall furniture in different positions etc.  These works produced a knock-on disturbance in other rooms and have generated a major re-organisation of where things are kept.  Meanwhile, I have operating a taxi service, as our teenage granddaughter is lodging with us while she completes her GCSE exams.  Her parents had to move to Wales rather suddenly when my son changed his job. All this - and other things - have curtailed my Whitehouse activities.


Last quarter I wrote about finding a gap in my records for the 1851 census in which the village of Shelford, near Walsall, had been omitted.  It was not too surprising to find shortly afterwards that there was a corresponding gap in my 1841 census transcript.  It seems that I had assumed that the local index that I used covered the whole of the area surrounding Walsall, when it did not.  On looking it up in “Ancestry”, I discovered that all 4 households had been misindexed by “Ancestry” - as Whitchana, Whitchonse, Whitchouse and Whitchover.  You have been warned.  For many further examples of misindexing, see the CEN EXPLANATIONS file elsewhere on this site.


Another interesting discovery was that “Ancestry” have not filmed or indexed part of the 1841 census of Willenhall, in the area of Waterglade (HO 107/985/5, ED3).  I think that they came upon a blank page and assumed that this was the end of the book, when it wasn’t.


It is most pleasing to see that “British Origins” has made some further progress with indexing the 1871 census, alas spoilt by the poor quality of its images.  Many are simply unreadable.  I am having to use the “British Origins” index to check my own database for completeness and then go to the excellent images in “Ancestry” to read the entry [see 27th March 2008 Newsletter for partial retraction].  As mentioned above, this is in progress, with Berkshire and Kent of these additional counties checked for completeness.  Kent was all right, with just one additional Whitehouse in the muster for HMS Pembroke, moored in Sheerness harbour.  Berkshire gave rise to 5 extra households, 3 definite Whitehouses and 2 which might be.  Of the latter, one was born in Uffington, something of a stronghold of Whitehorns, but the writing is so poor that one cannot say definitely which it is.  “Ancestry” indexed it as “Whilelanse” - no comment !


The keen-eyed will have noticed that my version of the marriage index for England & Wales (Whitehouse and variants) has acquired a net 4 additional lines of entry - 5 additions and a deletion.  Three of the extra lines arose because some Whitehouses in the tree of correspondent 453 changed their name to Willetts and married under the latter name.  My practice is to count this as a variant and include it.  By the way, this family came from Cradley, but there is an entirely separate Whitehouse family connected with Willetts, in Northfield.  The other two additional lines are for Whitest.  This relates to a family from Cudham and Chelsfield in Kent, in which the parish register contains a bewildering variety of phonetic names, mainly Whitest or Whitehouse, but bizzarely including a Waterhouse, a Whites and a Whitehurst in the 1790s.  The confusion continued right through the first half of the 19th century and even beyond.  On the other hand, a marriage indexed by the GRO as Whitehouse turned out to be a Whitehorn and was accordingly removed.


Meanwhile, marriages continue to be “mined” for the index, which now contains a huge number of spouses.  I should here just reinforce the point that my index differs from that offered by Freebmd.  Freebmd just gives the total entries that have the same district, volume and page number in the General Register Office Index.  For a spouse to be entered in my index, there must be (a) evidence that the marriage has taken place between the Whitehouse and listed spouse plus (b) the same district, volume and page number as in the official index.  The promised new official index, which will give names of spouses for 1837 to 1911, has been delayed and is now scheduled for mid-2009.  I’ll believe that when I see it.


Registration requirements

I have altered the REGISTRATION FAQs document, because I think that the list of requirements looks too off-putting.  I have scrapped the need for a chart.  Most correspondents fall into two categories - those that are rubbish at drawing charts and those that are highly adept at using genealogy programs, which occupy a lot of digital space and print out on reams of paper !   Generally stated, nearly all the information that I receive is under-researched for my purposes and needs further work.  So, it’s better for me just to draw or re-draw the tree in my preferred format, “Tall Tree”, using a spreadsheet.  I’ve been wondering about whether to put on the website some instructions for drawing a “Tall Tree” in MS Excel, so let’s see whether anyone reads this and asks for them.


Contacting me

Please see Section 6 of REGISTRATION FAQs.  At least some people manage to work out that the 10-letter surname is Whitehouse, the three initials are fhc and the supermarket is Waitrose.


Best wishes,



Newsletter, 24 September 2007



In the third quarter of 2007 I have done a lot of further work on records:

- the probate index has been extended from its present end in 1947 up to 1950, involving 185 additional grants.

- Irish and Jersey marriages have been covered for the first time

- Some Australian marriages are included for the first time

- the seven Whitehouses from Boyd’s London Burials Index (burial dates 1612 to 1817) are listed

- a major new index has been completed, of admissions to the county lunatic asylums in England & Wales, 1846 to 1890 with a few gaps

- the project to check the 1841 census of the West Midlands against the “British Origins” index has covered West Bromwich, Darlaston, Handsworth & Smethwick, Tamworth and Tipton (pieces HO 107/977 to 982)



This project for Re-indexing, Archiving, ­Digitisation And Paper-destruction is increasingly taking priority over most other WFHC activities.

As regular readers will know, I am destroying paper files and replacing them with a single neat tree, stored digitally and as a printout, which is being indexed to:

1.  Pre-GRO marriages (this is a “referencing” file put on the website for the first time this quarter)

2.  GRO marriages 1837 - 1911 on the website

3 to 6.  The 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses on the website

7.  The 1881 census (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

8.  The probate files on the website


Additionally, I have just begun constructing a “referencing file” of overseas marriages and would welcome contributions from correspondents.  The term “referencing file” means a file which contains only entries that relate to correspondents’ trees and is therefore not a complete record of all Whitehouses.


Currently, I have the trees of only 143 of my 453 correspondents (32%) in this form.  They include those of the 51 “new” correspondents, who registered in 2006 or 2007.  They have the references 415 to 453, 107, 112, 118, 124, 127, 138, 140, 159, 169, 177, 230 and 266.  In case anyone is wondering about the numbering, correspondents’ files are being reviewed and those found not to meet the present day registration requirements, of a Whitehouse marriage or census date of 1881 or earlier, are being removed and the numbers re-issued.



This file replaces GRO Explanations, since its contents have broadened beyond the GRO England & Wales and now includes material not connected with any register office.


Genes Disunited ?

“I had a hot match on Genes Reunited with someone who had an Elizabeth Whitehouse born in 1835 but the parents were not right.  I told them about you.”  This was from correspondent 031, who was very grateful for a small piece of detective work that I did in order to tidy up her tree:  “This means that I now have my 16 grt grt grandparents. I had given up hope of ever finding Hannah's 1828 mother's maiden name.”  Of course, I don’t sneer at Genes Reunited, because several people have found distant cousins that way.  It’s a valuable resource.  However, many trees require additional input in order to make connections with such relatives.


What the WFHC is all about

This quarter there have been two other excellent examples of how WFHC correspondents benefit from registering their trees with me.


Correspondent 288 referred to two sisters, Gertrude and Mabel Whitehouse.  These matched with names in a “birthday book” inherited by correspondent 163 and so I was able to connect up the trees, with the result that correspondent 288 obtained a tree going back to a 1781 marriage.


It turned out that new correspondent 124 takes piano lessons from a lady that I know who lives just down the road.   So she was able to drop in a copy of her handed-down manuscript tree.   It contained a vital clue, in the form of mention of an Aaron Whitehouse as a brother of 124’s ancestor, William.  Aaron had no dates and couldn’t be found in the IGI.   However, Aaron is a very rare forename and when Aaron and Sarah Whitehouse turned up as witnesses to the marriage of a William Whitehouse, 124’s ancestor, I knew that he could not have died young.  Sure enough, a marriage of an Aaron Whitehouse to a Sarah was found and their children fitted perfectly with the tree of correspondent 085.  In the end a 6-page tree linking these two and a third correspondent (342) was constructed.  The handed-down tree went back to a 1788 marriage, so 085 and 342 were delighted.


The WFHC benefits too

I was simultaneously pleased and annoyed when correspondent 452 had roots in Shelfield, near Walsall.

This correspondent included an 1851 census reference not in my file.  On investigation, it turned out that there are 4 Whitehouse households in this village, all omitted from my indexed transcript.   I still do not know how this error occurred, as I thought I had used both a local printed index and the BMSGH (Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry) published index for Staffordshire.   It would have come to light sooner or later, since I have an ongoing project to check the whole of the 1851 census for Staffordshire in Ancestry.  Unfortunately, with the RADAP project having priority, progress has been very limited.  As a stopgap measure, I have checked the whole of piece HO107/2023, which covers Walsall and some outlying villages, in Ancestry, for omissions.  There were no others, I am glad to say, but this check threw up some interesting misreadings of forenames by Ancestry.  “Buche” is Phoebe, “Dulevingard” is Anlevinyard (registered as Ann Lavinia), “Ish” is Job, “Jerm” is James (not Jeremiah, abbreviated), “Mary”, aged 4, listed in the male (!) section of the Walsall Union Workhouse, is Henry and another “Mary”, aged 14, is poorly written but probably Fanny.  You have been warned.  If you couldn’t find it in Ancestry, try here.


The Pre-GRO marriages referencing file

This index of marriages in correspondents’ trees that took place in England & Wales before civil registration began on 1st July 1837 has been under construction for some while.  As I keep explaining, to avoid misunderstanding, this is a “referencing file”.  That is to say, it contains ONLY marriages on correspondents’ trees, referenced with their WFHC number.  I have been adding to it slowly, as I have been re-indexing trees to the website.  I have proceeded systematically, taking each tree in turn, because as records have improved, I have often been able to add more marriages than I have on my old card index or are evident from the existing tree.  So far, the index has just over 200 marriages.  I have been reluctant to put this “embryonic file” on the website, because I doubt that the general public of Whitehouse researchers will understand that it is highly incomplete, with only 32% of correspondents having been indexed or re-indexed under the RADAP project.  However, I have taken that chance and uploaded it.


Contacting me

Please see Section 6 of REGISTRATION FAQs.  At least some people manage to work out that the 10-letter surname is Whitehouse, the three initials are fhc and the supermarket is Waitrose.  Regrettably, despite my efforts, the WFHC e-mail address is now being spammed and also attacked by virus-laden e-mails (intercepted by my isp before they even reach my own anti-virus protection).  The latter probably means that there is a Whitehouse correspondent out there with my address in an infected computer.  I urge all my correspondents to ensure that they have up-to-date virus protection.


Best wishes,




Newsletter, 29th June 2007



The second quarter of 2007 has seen some further progress in improving the records:

- the quality control project for the 1861 census, previously completed for the whole of Staffordshire, has been completed for Worcestershire and rural Warwickshire

- the project to check the 1871 census of Staffordshire and Worcestershire sections, against the “British Origins” index has been completed

- a project to check the whole of the 1841 census of the West Midlands against the “British Origins” index is under way

- more details have been added to the GRO marriage index



The records improvement programme will be slowing for a while, because I have to get on with the indexing and archiving of correspondents’ trees.   As regular readers will know, I am destroying paper files and replacing them with a single neat tree, stored digitally and as a printout, which is being indexed to:

1.  Pre-GRO marriages (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

2.  GRO marriages 1837 - 1911 on the website

3 to 6.  The 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses on the website

7.  The 1881 census (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

8.  The probate files on the website


Additionally, I have just begun constructing a “referencing” file of overseas marriages and would welcome contributions from correspondents.

The term “referencing file” means a file which contains only entries that relate to correspondents’ trees and is therefore not a complete record of all Whitehouses.


Currently, I have the trees of only 120 of my 450 or so correspondents in this form.  They include those of the 44 “new” correspondents, who registered in 2006 or 2007.  They have the references 415 to 450, 112, 118, 140, 159, 169, 177, 230 and 266.  In case anyone is wondering about the numbering, a few correspondents’ files were reviewed and found not to come anywhere near meeting the present day registration requirements, of a Whitehouse marriage or census date of 1881 or earlier.  A couple turned out not to be Whitehouse, but Whitehurst and Woodhouse.  These earlier numbers (112, 118 etc.) were therefore vacated and used up for some of the 2006 & 2007 intake.



Today, I took a hard decision - to merge my census files for the West Midlands, with those of London and all the rest of England & Wales, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.  They have become one giant file designated E&W.   Now that so many people have broadband, these big files are more realistic.  It will make searching simpler and will save me time when I update the files and load the new version onto the website.  To achieve this, I have added county codes (STS, WAR, WOR) to (I hope) all the addresses in the West Midlands, as well as to 1851 London.  If you find an address without a county code or with the wrong one, please let me know.



Another change is that I have merged all the old newsletters into a single file, slightly edited.  They are arranged with the most recent first and go back to December 2005.


Surprise, surprise

I’m quite used to surprising other people with a missive beginning:  “Further to my letter of 16th November 1982, I am enclosing an improved tree...”   The WFHC (previously the Whitehouse Information Centre) began in April 1981.  Recently, it has been my turn to be surprised, by a correspondent who found a circular letter that I sent in 1980 to some Whitehouses in New York.  His grandfather had responded to my circular and in doing so had preserved vital genealogical information.  So, I linked him up with an English cousin and now a huge team of people is working on their family tree.


This is a convenient point to say that if ever anyone has been in touch with me in the past and they have a “serious” tree - or even a single event - in the Whitehouse name and it includes a marriage or census entry of 1881 or earlier, they are registered with me and are liable to be contacted.   To save me trouble, it always helps if such people would contact me - even if just to say “Hello, I’m still alive” or “I’m now on e-mail”.  It doesn’t matter if they are not sure whether they are registered:  I can track them down in my register spreadsheet and provide them with their reference number.


Correspondent 441 and the missing Samuel

Samuel Whitehouse, a butcher, was missing from my 1841 and 1851 census databases.  Assiduous researcher Jayne Sandles (441) found him on the 1841 census in Tettenhall, near Wolverhampton.  This caused me mega-embarrassment, because he was not on my indexed transcript.  To my horror, I found that my trawl of Sedgley (piece 998) had not covered the last three books, 16 to 18, which relate to the Tettenhall area.  The mistake went unnoticed because this area is split between two pieces, 998 and 1002, the latter having been covered.   As a result, I have searched the whole of piece 998, using the Ancestry index and the name Whit*, where * is a wild card denoting one or more subsequent characters.  There was one further omission within the three unsearched books, but mercifully the remainder of 998 was complete.  It’s a reminder that I am not infallible and it has hastened the launch of a project to check the 1841 census of the West Midlands using the “British Origins” database.


When it came to the 1851 census, Jayne showed that she is a fine researcher.  She was convinced by directories that Samuel Whitehouse, the butcher, must have been living in Bilston Street, Wolverhampton, yet he was not in my indexed transcript, nor could she find him by using “Ancestry”, not even by searching under Whit*.   A careful search street by street revealed an entry that was unmistakeably what she sought, but the head of household had been entered very clearly as James Whishine.   I can guess what happened.  Samuel, like many tradesmen, could probably write.  He filled in the census form, writing his name as Saml Whitehouse, but the enumerator misread it and copied into his schedule as James Whishine.


The proximity thing and the balance of probabilities

Two trees of brickmakers were connected in this quarter, when the 1861 census showed Whitehouses from each tree adjacent in the 1861 census.  It was just too much of a coincidence and a good tree could then be constructed, showing that they were very probably second cousins.  Its probable correctness was reinforced by a strong naming pattern, involving Aaron, Moses and Stephen, all relatively rare names.


It reminds me to say that the standard that I apply in indexing and in drawing up trees is that the entries and the trees are correct on the balance of probabilities.  This is a lower standard than “beyond reasonable doubt”.  My reasoning is that if I include someone in an index who shouldn’t be there, my worst sin is to have misled someone and if I am wrong, other events will show this.  On the other hand, if I have failed to index someone, I might have deprived researchers of a valuable clue.  Whenever I feel some degree of uncertainty, I apply a question mark (query symbol).


“I can’t find my tree on your website”

Yes, I know.  No trees are on the website.  The long term aim is to put them on, partly for archiving purposes, but this will require 1 to 1.5 GB of web space, which, in turn, means using a paid-for web host.   It would entail some disruption and I am reluctant to divert myself from more pressing matters, not least the RADAP project.  Meanwhile, I will send any registered correspondent their own current tree or anyone else’s, so long as they have a good reason.  For example, correspondent 095 does not believe that the tree that I have drawn is correct, because she thinks that “her” Job Whitehouse is the one which I have assigned to the tree of correspondent 212.  So, I have sent her tree 212 and she can check it out for herself.


For the sake of good order, I re-affirm that no correspondent’s identity and address are revealed to another correspondent, unless they have a genealogical connection (or, in cases of doubt, unless both of them first agree).


“I can’t read the tree that you sent me”

All but a few of my collection of trees have been drawn or re-drawn by me in Microsoft “Excel” 2003.  I like this widely available program, because it is so easy to alter and re-arrange information, join two trees together etc.   MS Excel is part of MS Office and is widely used as a spreadsheet for keeping accounts and creating financial charts.  Less widely known is that one can draw in it, using the cells for guidance to keep the tree straight.  


Those who don’t have Excel can still read the tree, either by downloading an Excel 2003 reader from the Microsoft website or by installing the free “Open Office” suite.  The latter is the better option, because one can then also re-sort the downloaded indexes on my website.


The Pre-GRO marriages index

This index of marriages in correspondents’ trees that took place in England & Wales before civil registration began on 1st July 1837 has been under construction for some while.  As I keep explaining, to avoid misunderstanding, this is a “referencing file”.  That is to say, it contains ONLY marriages on correspondents’ trees, referenced with their WFHC number.  I have been adding to it slowly, as I have been re-indexing trees to the website.  I have proceeded systematically, taking each tree in turn, because as records have improved, I have often been able to add more marriages than I have on my old card index or are evident from the existing tree.  So far, the index has 177 marriages.  I am reluctant to put this “embryonic file” on the website, because I doubt that the general public of Whitehouse researchers will understand that it is highly incomplete, with only 26% of correspondents having been indexed.  However, I do aim to take that chance and upload it at the end of this year.


Contacting me

Please see Section 6 of REGISTRATION FAQs.  At least some people manage to work out that the 10-letter surname is Whitehouse, the three initials are fhc and the supermarket is Waitrose.


Best wishes,



Newsletter, 1st April 2007



The first quarter of 2007 has been another of good progress:

- the name has been re-registered with the Guild of One-name Studies and applications for registration

of trees at the WFHC have been dealt with promptly

- the quality control project for "1861 CEN WMIDS" has been completed for the whole of Staffordshire and some parts of Worcestershire, pieces RG9/2019 to 2069

- the project to check “1871 CEN MIDS”, Staffs and Worcs sections, against the “British Origins” index has made excellent progress, with Staffordshire nearly finished

- a draft of the 1871 census of Scotland has been added

- improvements in the GRO marriage index by the addition of some more spouse names and WFHC references

- the non-GRO Marriage Index has been greatly improved, chiefly by the finding of spouses with matching page references and transferring them to the GRO marriage Index

- the Probate Grants index for the principal probate registry (England & Wales) has been extended by 4 more years, so that it now covers 1858 to 1947 (dates of grant).


Lost correspondents

I would like to draw everyone’s attention to a small change in the Registration FAQs document.  I am having trouble contacting some of my pre-2006 correspondents and now reserve the right to publish their last known addresses and genealogical details.  People change their internet service providers and then I lose contact by e-mail.  My next step is to try to find them by using the “Google” search engine.  That sometimes works.  Step 3 is to look them up in an on-line telephone directory.  If that fails, I write a letter to their last known address.  When my letter is returned or I get no response, I declare contact to be lost and mark the register “LC”.


I work to long timescales here.  The case of tree 009 029 417 418 is salutary.  My last correspondence with 009 was in 1983, when I could not help much, because of the inadequacy of my records then.

In 2006, I registered 417 and within a couple of days had connected her to another new correspondent, 418.  Recently, improved indexing enabled me to see that 009 also belonged.  Fortunately, a “Google” search enabled me to contact him after 25 years.


Please do not let yourself become an LC !   Put my e-mail address into your address book, so that when you change your e-address, you will be prompted to update me.


Following are lost correspondents: 

064 Mrs. Eileen Barratt, c/o Ministry of External Relations, Private Bag, Wellington 6020 NZ

077 Mrs. Susan Dodds (wife of Trevor Newton Dodds):  24 Emerson Av., Middlesborough, Cleveland TS5 7QH

078 Mr. Gareth Harris, 32 Carshalton Way, Lower Earley, Reading RG6 4EP

118 Miss Clare Dunn, "Caerleon", 7 Saxon Ct, Leegomery, Telford, Shopshire

295 Mrs. Julie Whitehouse (wife of Christopher D. Whitehouse):  95 Bretforton Rd, Badsey, Evesham, Worcs WR11 5UQ

301 Mrs. Val Newman, 40 Clarke Avenue, Wattle Glen, Victoria 3096, Australia


They are long-lost except for 295 and 301, lost only about 5 years ago.



The big task ahead

My next big task is to make better progress with the indexing and archiving of correspondents’ trees.   As regular readers will know, I am destroying paper files and replacing them with a single neat tree, stored digitally and as a printout, which is being indexed to:

1.  Pre-GRO marriages (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website)

2.  GRO marriages 1837 - 1911 on the website

3 to 6.  The 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses on the website

7.  The 1881 census (this is a “referencing” file not yet on the website).


Currently, I have the trees of only 90 of my 444 correspondents in this form.  The 90 includes those of the 37 “new” correspondents, who registered in 2006 or 2007.  They have the references 415 to 445, 112, 118, 159, 169, 230 and 266.  In case anyone is wondering about the numbering, a few correspondents’ files were reviewed and found not to come anywhere near meeting the present day registration requirements, of a Whitehouse marriage or census date of 1881 or earlier.   These numbers (112, 118 etc.) were therefore vacated and used up for some of the 2006 & 2007 intake.


I have not forgotten US censuses.  The vast number of Whitehouses in Maine and New Hampshire is a deterrent to complete indexing, but I hope this year to make a start on a referencing file.


The term “referencing file” means a file which contains only entries that relate to correspondents’ trees and is therefore not a complete record of all Whitehouses.


Best wishes,






The 1911 census will be released to the public, online and indexed, during 2009, i.e. 2 to 3 years earlier than expected.  The National Archives has been encouraged to do this by a ruling of the Information Commissioner in favour of a complainant.   Their project to improve and digitise the official birth, death and marriage indexes has met with technical problems.  The new indexes are expected to start to become available on line in early 2008 and to be completed in 2009.  This means that when the Family Records Centre moves to Kew in March 2008, some of the indexes will be held at Kew in paper form and some will be on line.  You might think this a shambles, but I couldn’t possibly comment !

One good thing from our viewpoint is that ages at death for the years 1837 to 1865 will be given in the new, improved  index.  At present my version of the GRO Deaths index sorts into two sets within each forename, one set (1866 – 1911) with an age at death and calculated date of birth and the other (1837 – 1865) without.  Care is needed to realise this and search both sets if necessary.

A project to improve the quality of my 1871 West Midlands census index for Whitehouses in Staffordshire is about half-completed, so I have taken the opportunity to launch an updated version.  Besides the many corrections and re-interpretations, there are several additional households, found by searching in the British Origins index.



I am re-registering the Whitehouse one-name study with the Guild of One-Name Studies, which means that I shall be answering all enquiries and will register new correspondents at any time.                                                



The last quarter of 2006 has been one of huge progress:

- completion of the "1871 CEN OTHER" census database, the part that covers all other areas of England & Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, except London and the West Midlands

- improvements in the "1841 CEN OTHER" census database, the part that covers all other areas of England & Wales Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, except London and the West Midlands

- the quality control project for "1861 CEN WMIDS" extended to cover the whole of the Kings Norton registration district (2119 to 2127).

- addition of the years 1884 to 1911 to the GRO (England & Wales) births index

- addition of the years 1902 to 1911 to the GRO (England & Wales) deaths index

- addition of the years 1902 to 1911 to the GRO (Scotland) births and deaths entries

- improvements in the GRO marriage index by the addition of some more spouse names

- the Probate Grants index for 1858 to 1935 extended by 8 years to 1943

- addition to the census databases of the WFHC reference numbers of the remainder of those who registered in March 2006, plus some existing correspondents


Basic set of records established

It has been a great deal of work, but, at last, after just over 5 years, I have established a basic set of records for the Whitehouse surname.  Births, deaths and marriage indexes for England & Wales run from 1837 to 1911 and for Scotland from 1855 to 1911.  The England & Wales indexes run to nearly 39,000 names.  The census records now extend across the whole of England & Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands for 1841 to 1871 (totalling over 34,000 lines of entry) and a draft for Scotland is progressing alongside the Ancestry indexing project.  Extending the modern end of the probate index has been hard going, with just extra 8 years (1936-1943) causing it to increase in size by a quarter. 


"Surely they will reference my son." (Matthew Chapter 21, misquoted)

There is much still to do.  Two "referencing files" are in progress, one containing marriages before civil registration began (pre- 1st July 1837 in England & Wales) and the other containing 1881 census extracts.  These files are different from the databases mentioned above, because they contain ONLY entries that are relevant to correspondents' trees, with (of course) the WFHC reference number.  In 2007, the main focus of my work will be to reference the trees of existing correspondents, in the GRO marriages and the 1841 to 1871 census databases and in the two referencing files.  Of course, newcomers' trees will also be referenced, as they come in.   The referencing files will be made available on the website when they have reached a meaningful size.


GRO Births Index

One never knows where trouble with these databases will strike next.  On looking for an Ernest Whitehouse in the WFHC GRO births index database, I found that two entries were not sorting correctly in year order.  Fortunately, I knew where the problem must be - a space being accidentally introduced at the end of a name.  Excel regards spaces as characters and thus considers Ernest followed by a space to be a different name from Ernest without one.  So, I have gone through the births, putting right an alarming number of similar errors, along with a few instances of a second forename being wrongly entered in the same column as the first. 


Oddly, the marriages and deaths were free of such errors.


If anyone out there does find mis-sorting, or, indeed, any other kind of error, please tell me.  Not reporting it is not considered kindness !


GRO Marriages Index

This index is amended frequently, as more spouse information, dates, churches and correspondent references are added.  The present update is unusual, since an extra marriage has been added.  It relates to an entry in the official GRO Index showing a Mary Ann Whitehorse marrying in the second quarter of 1838 in Dudley registration district.  It took errors by Ancestry to make me realise that Whitehouse can be indexed as Whitehorse and this is what happened here.  I located the marriage at Tipton St. Martin.  All the "original order" numbers from 71 onwards have been moved on by one.


Probate and GRO Death index improvements

Shortly after the 1st January update, I introduced into the Probate Grants 1858-1943 and GRO Deaths Index an extra column.  In this column, Calc Birth Yr., I have subtracted age at death from year at death, to give an approximate year of birth.  These indexes have been sorted first by forename and then on the basis of this column.  Unfortunately, because of the way in which Excel sorts, entries in which the Calc Birth Yr. is a blank space (there being no age at death to subtract) are shifted to the end, after the years.  So, taking the GRO Deaths Index for instance, a search under the forename John will show two series of entries, one with a registration year of 1866-1911 in which a birth year is given and one with a registration year 1837-1865 in which it is not. 


Official probate index under trial

Here's a little secret for my readers, possibly an "exclusive".   The Principal Probate Registry is computerising its probate index - that's the index to grants of representation (wills and administrations) in those heavy printed books and (from 1973) microfiches at First Avenue House, High Holborn, London.   Work is proceeding backwards from recent times and has reached grants for the year 1951.  The new index is on trial at First Avenue House, where it can be used free of charge.  Its big advantage is that it goes by date of death.  Imagine trying to find a grant for William Whitehouse of 22 Burton Road, Dudley, who died in 1952.  The administration took place in 1981 !   Its disadvantages are that one can search only 4 years at a time and that the details of the grant are shown as merely the page of the printed book with a red line around the entry.   It's clear that my spreadsheet index has many advantages over the new official index.  When the new official index has made further progress, I shall be able to use it to improve my index, by locating all the later grants of those who died in 1943 or earlier.  


It will be interesting to see how the Registry plans to pay for this computerisation.  My guess is that the index will be free to use, but that the cost of the documents will rise.  This could be a good time to buy a will (£5 if requested in person, £8 by post). 


Ancestry - a bouquet

To balance the Ancestry-bashing that has been a feature of newsletters and CEN EXPLANATIONS, here's an instance where they did really well.  In the 1871 census of Durham, there's a family of Whitehouses in Stranton.  The forename of the youngest is a dreadful scrawl, partly overwritten that looked to me like "Cha Hy", short for Charles Henry.  I took my cue from the older son who was abbreviated to "John Ja".  To my surprise, Ancestry rendered the name as "Matty", which it just might be with a big stretch of the imagination.  Fortunately, he was born in Sheffield, where there are strangely few Whitehouses and by looking in the GRO Births Index, I was able to identify a Matthew registered at the right time in Sheffield.  Well done Ancestry !


Best wishes, Keith



                                                                                                                                3rd October 2006



The major visible events this last quarter are:

- completion of the 1861 census database for all England, Wales, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man

- partial checking of the West Midlands section of the above

- extension of the 1841 census database to include Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the whole of Scotland

- addition to the census databases of the WFHC reference numbers of many of those who registered in March


Completing the 1861 census transcription

About half of my genealogical energy this quarter has been poured into getting the 1861 census database (sortable indexed transcript) to what I call "theoretical completion".  This term means that I have covered the whole of Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.  However, much of my database relies on looking up entries using on-line indexes (Ancestry, 1837 On Line) and re-indexing.  In practice, neither of the starting indexes gives complete coverage of all Whitehouses when searched under this name or common deviant spellings of it, so the fear is that some Whitehouses have been missed by both.  That's why the completion is "theoretical".  Additionally, the 1861 census is notorious for its "gaps" - returns that have got lost: Ancestry has published a list.


I have been using both the "1837 On Line" and the "Ancestry" index.  The 1837 OL index is significantly worse than that of Ancestry.  They usually list about the same number of "hits", but 1837 OL gives large numbers of false positives - that is to say, what is indexed as "Whitehouse" frequently turns out to be another name.   Thus, for Yorkshire, 1837 OL listed 208 Whitehouse and variants, Ancestry 202 under Whitehouse and Whithouse.  However, 1837 OL gave 38 false positives and did not list many Whitehouses that were found in Ancestry.  It would be nice to think that 1837 OL was so useless that it could be simply ignored.  Regrettably, this is not the case.  It does yield a few entries that do not appear in Ancestry under Whitehouse or the more obvious variants.  Remarkably, it produced entries that I could not find in Ancestry, even by putting in the correct piece and folio reference.  They simply weren't there, there being a gap of several folios in the return that did not appear to have been filmed (9 Kidderminster Court, Salford:  RG9/2915 FO 36 SCH 191; 175-1/2 Upper Windsor St., Aston:  RG9/2175 FO 122 SCH 173).


1837 On Line has recently produced indexes and images for the 1841 and 1871 censuses, so it will be very instructive to see whether any new entries result - but that has to take a much lower priority than other things.


1861 census of West Midlands:  errors and omissions lead to new quality control project

In the West Midlands, my 1861 census database was originally constructed largely from local indexes and trawling through microfilms without any indexing aid.  It has since been checked in Ancestry and 1837 On Line.  As a result of this, I discovered that two areas had I had not covered:  the Staffordshire part of Stourbridge Registration District (Amblecote, Wordsley, Kingswinford, Pensnett, Brierley Hill - RG9/2068 to 2074) and parts of south Warwickshire.  Moreover, there have been many errors in other places, I regret to say.  They range from omissions during trawling to wrong schedule, folio and even piece numbers.  I have therefore launched a "quality control" project to check the whole of the 1861 census of the West Midlands against images of the census entries and have so far completed Birmingham, Aston, Meriden registration districts (pieces 2128 to 2190), the Sedgley and Dudley parts of the Dudley registration district (2046 to 2062), the Handsworth part of the West Bromwich registration district (2019 to 2021) and part of the Kings Norton registration district (2119 to 2125).  These were the most vulnerable areas, as mostly they relied on trawling.  This exercise has resulted in a large number of corrections and re-interpretations.


Improving the 1841 census transcription

There's no question that the best index is that of "British Origins", but they have been working only on the 1841 and 1871 censuses and many counties have not yet appeared.  In the last 6 months or so, Origins has added Cheshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire to the 1841 coverage. Originally, the WFHC database for these counties had to be constructed from the Ancestry index, because, at the time, there was no other.  Recently, I have checked the Origins indexes for these counties.  For Cheshire the same hits occurred in each.  In Shropshire, excluding Halesowen, one extra household was found in Origins, an entry that was particularly difficult to read.  When it came to Yorkshire, Ancestry yielded 36 households, all of which were found in Origins. However, Origins turned up 12 extra households not in Ancestry.  Two of these were rejected as Waterhouse and Whitehead, in 7 of the others Whitehouse was either clear or the best reading, leaving 3 that were genuinely difficult to decipher but in which Whitehouse was a possibility.  Thus, on the most generous basis, 7 out of 43 Whitehouse households (one sixth) were not indexed findably in Ancestry.


When going through the Origins index for Lancashire (1841), I found another instance of missed filming by Ancestry.  At White Chapel, Liverpool, HO 107/562 Book 1, Folio 4, the whole of page 1 was missed and this contains a Whitehouse.  Even Origins is not entirely error-free.  In the 1841 census of Halesowen it has made the spectacular blunder of indexing a family of the name Disley under Whitehouse.


Sorry to have gone on for so long, but many researchers do not realise just how bad some of the computerised indexes are.  Thank goodness that in the heart of the West Midlands, where most Whitehouses are to be found,  I have been able to use locally-generated name indexes for much of the 1851, 1861 and 1871 census databases on this website.  It is my aim to produce the very best indexes that encompass all Whitehouses in the 1841 to 1871 censuses, using as many sources as I can.  So, if you out there think I have missed one (it has been known), please, please tell me.


Alas, not every local index is reliable.  I was delighted to come upon the "Sheffield Indexers" website, as they have indexed the 1841 census and it showed two Whitehouse families.  Alas, they turned out to be Whitman and Whitham on the best reading.  There is only one Whitehouse in my database for the 1841 census of Sheffield and that one is doubtful (Origins, Ancestry).  This is quite a surprising result, considering that the Whitehouses were typical of the urban poor, who would go to large towns in search of work.


1841 Scotland

I'm pleased to report a positive development in Scotland, where Ancestry have produced an index to the 1841 census.  This is not yet linked to any images.  I have used this index, together with some "trawlings" of my own plus a search in "FreeCEN" to construct a draft database for the whole of Scotland.  Among the Scottish counties, Whitehouse is found mainly in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire and the furthest north of the entries is of a farm just outside Perth, i.e. central Scotland.  The draft will be finalised when images are available free of charge (which could take a long time).   If any readers in Scotland could help me, please do so.


Developments at the Family Records Centre, London

Things are stirring at the Family Records Centre in London.  It's an odd place, with The National Archives (TNA) hosting census and some probate records on the first floor and the Office of National Statistics (General Register Office) occupying the ground floor for the births, marriages and deaths indexes.  The government has cunningly cut the budget of TNA, knowing very well that it can save money by moving the census facilities to Kew.  (For overseas readers, the TNA building at Kew is some 8 miles out of the centre of London and accessible by a rather slow tube or train journey, followed by about 7 to 12 minutes walk).  The move will take place by the end of 2008. 


It's likely that the ONS will also leave the FRC building, given the project to digitise the indexes (not before time).  The birth, marriage and death indexes will be completely revised, working from the original records.  Marriages will be cross-indexed for 1837 to 1911, a huge boon.   Thus, some of the work done on the Whitehouse Marriage Index on this website will be overtaken by the official records.  Also, the maiden name of the mother will be given in the birth index for all years.  What the ONS ought to be doing, of course, is linking the index to images of the certificates and making them available on-line, but I'm afraid that isn't planned to happen.


Indexing of correspondents' interests

I want to update you all on the situation.  In March 2006, I opened the door to newcomers for the first time since October 2001.  In all, there were 30 new trees to tackle, with the reference numbers 112, 118, 159, 169, 230 and 415 to 439.  (The lower numbers are earlier numbers that have been vacated because the information provided by the original correspondent was inadequate).  All these new trees should have been indexed for GRO marriages.  If you think that yours hasn't been indexed completely, please tell me ! 


I have progressed to a second stage in which I am going through the new trees in numerical order and indexing them:

(a) in the1841 to 1871 census of England & Wales,

(b) in the 1881 census of England & Wales and

(c) in "pre-GRO marriages" (church marriages before 1st September 1837) in England & Wales. 

You will see (a) on the website, but databases for (b) and (c) are still under construction.  I still have 431 to 439 to do and wish to apologise to those concerned for the delay.  This task is being given priority.


As I go through the files, I am ensuring that every new correspondent has a tree which is recorded digitally and printed out.  The printed trees are being stored tidily and will ultimately be archived

(printed to archive quality paper).  The long-term storage of family trees is an on-going problem, but my intention is to create an archive in paper or digital form or both and deposit the trees in an appropriate library.  That is some years away. 


Some correspondents are producing very nice tidy trees, well researched.  Others are not and it is taking me many hours to process each one, particularly if their genealogy is linked to that of an existing correspondent.  Some are absolutely clueless about how to produce a nice tidy tree that prints to A4 paper (297 x 210 mm) - not exactly difficult.  A few have submitted pedigrees of many pages containing extraneous information relating to other ancestral lines than Whitehouse.  I shall have to take a firmer line about this and refuse them.  Genealogical programs don't help a lot, unless they are printed in text form.  Unfortunately, many people use these programs to make "drop line" charts - that's the name for the ones that start with the oldest ancestor at the top and have the youngest ranging across the bottom of many landscape pages connected by huge horizontal lines that extend so far that one has to tape, say, 10 pages together to make any sense of them.  There's an awful lot to be said in favour of the "tall tree", in which the oldest ancestor appears at the left hand side of a portrait page.  It's just a drop line chart turned through 90 degrees with the names re-arranged to the new horizontal, saving loads of space.


Another problem is that many trees are under-researched.  Using just my own website and FreeBMD, I can often make progress.  That shouldn't happen.


If correspondent 435 of "Witchend", or her cousin Jo, is reading this, your tree from William Whitehouse and Louisa Grainger who married 27 March 1831 at Sedgley All Saints, does not contain all the names on the census returns and so will have to be re-drawn.  If you want the re-drawn tree and my comments, please provide a stamped addressed envelope or an e-mail address.


I have been re-thinking my policy about the 1891 and 1901 census.  Without help, there's no way I am going to have time to check references supplied, still less begin another database.  Of course, trees should continue to show everyone born up to and including 1901, but that is as far as I can go.


Work in progress

As mentioned above, I am giving priority to indexing correspondents' trees, starting with 421 to 439.   I shall be working on the 1871 census of areas other than London and the West Midlands, so as to bring that to "theoretical completion".  This is an urgent task, to enable me to proceed with further indexing of the census returns with correspondent reference numbers.  The 1871 work will be interspersed with further checking of the 1861 census of the West Midlands.


I know that progress here is slow, but there is only one of me and I do try to lead a normal life as well ! .  If anyone would like to help, I have a checking job that needs doing at the FRC in London.  All who contribute are publicly thanked on the website.


Best wishes, Keith



                                                                                                                                2nd July 2006



The major visible events this quarter are:

- completion of the 1841 census database with the aid of the "Ancestry" index

- getting 1861 other (other = everywhere except London and the West Midlands) well under way

- moving to a new website.


However, I have failed to make significant progress in adding WFHC reference numbers to the census databases and I apologise to those who registered in March that I have been unable to do this yet for their trees.  Please bear with me.


Here in the south east of England where I live, we have had an exceptionally dry and sunny June.  I have therefore been busy painting the outside of the house and so genealogy has been at a standstill.   Today it was 35.5 degrees Celsius (96 degrees Fahrenheit) in the sun.  I started painting with undercoat at 5.25 a.m. and put a coat of gloss on at 9.30 a.m.   I am pleased to report that the family is all well and my son has just distinguished himself by completing his exams to qualify as an actuary.  He did about half the exams some years ago, gave up the idea of qualifying and became an IT project manager.  Seeing so many bright people younger than him entering the IT field, he took the other half of the actuarial exams.   Despite the distractions of looking after 4 children, he managed to get his head down and do the work.  I am very proud of him.


Those new to the WFHC will find much information in the April newsletter, still available to download.


Best wishes, Keith



                                                                                                                                 4th April 2006





The WFHC re-opened for the month of March 2006, which resulted in 28 new genealogies, referenced as 112, 118, 159, 169, 230 and 415 to 437.  Many had seen the article in the December issue of "The Midland Ancestor", a few had come upon the website and some others were invited by me to register after they had listed a Whitehouse interest in "The Midland Ancestor".  Correspondents did very well, all making a good effort to comply with the rules for registration, overall with very few items omitted.


The WFHC is now closed for new registrations, but will remain open to all registered correspondents for enquiries, updates etc.  The next opportunity for registration will be for the month of January 2007.  The same rules will apply.  Make a note in your calendar or diary for 31st December 2006.




- to continue with quarterly newsletters on or about 1st January, April, July and October

- to maintain the probate indexes, which are potentially of enormous value

- to complete the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 census indexes for England & Wales to a high standard of accuracy and improve coverage of Scotland

- to annotate further the census, marriage and probate indexes with the references of correspondents

- to improve the GRO index files, especially for marriages, and to extend births and deaths.

- to index the marriages of correspondents which took place before civil registration

- to index the 1881 census references of correspondents

- to create an on-web register of the names of correspondents and an off-web register of their contact details

- to index some of the US censuses



This has been the most energetic quarter in the history of my efforts to co-ordinate Whitehouse genealogy.  From the website viewpoint, the most notable achievements are:


- the new GRO marriage index, with many more matches of spouses to Whitehouses

- overhaul of all the indexes to get rid of the code system for variants, v7, v12, v24 etc. and the   abbreviations for Registration Districts in the West Midlands

- successful checks of the 1841 census for the West Midlands

- addition of Northamptonshire to the 1841 census of other areas

- opening of the WFHC to new correspondents after 4½ years

- a clear way forward for the WFHC

- decision to change my e-mail address and semi-encrypt it to deter spammers


Away from the web, other things have been going on.  At last, I have digitised the Register of Correspondents.  The public part of this (names, but no contact details) will be put on the website later this year.


Work has been steaming ahead on the 1861 and 1871 census.  I have now completed the whole of London for both years, as draft paper slips.  For 1861, I have used the "Ancestry" interface to read the scans, while checking the results from the "Ancestry" index against the 1837online index.  Needless to say, each index gave results that the other did not.


The 1851 census has also made good progress on paper, with the result that the whole of England & Wales has been covered.   It gave me great pleasure to find that the Manchester & Lancashire FHS have re-transcribed the flood-damaged parts of the 1851 census of Manchester and a few other towns in Lancashire.  Some books were damaged by a flood in the Public Record Office before they could be filmed.  A UV light technique was used to enhance the writing in the books.  Several Whitehouse entries were found.


Interesting things are happening with the 1841 census.  British Origins has been filming and indexing it, but their progress latterly has been very slow.  I have been keeping pace with it.  Meanwhile "Ancestry" have filmed it and have talked about going on-line with it in a couple of months.  Poor though the "Ancestry" indexes are, they are a great deal better than none at all, so I am hopeful that it will not be too long before I can complete the London area.


All this means, of course, a great deal of keyboarding to put these paper transcripts onto Excel spreadsheets.


Some moments of interest occurred in enhancing the GRO Marriage Index.  There are five marriages where the page numbers for the groom and bride did not agree, differing by one digit.  Protracted correspondence with the GRO in Southport, Lancashire, failed to move the mean so-and-sos to investigate and tell me which reference was wrong.  They would rather waste time thinking of ways to say "no" than spend a few minutes doing it !   So I did my Sherlock act and sorted it out for them.

The GRO Marriage Index on the website now contains only the correct numbers.  However, I did manage to persuade them to agree to a correct a homosexual marriage in the 4th quarter of 1903, where Harry or Henry Whitehouse married James Wakelam.  The Whitehouse was Amy.  So my website shows only the correct version.


Regular readers of this website will notice the new file of Non-GRO marriages, a sort of dustbin for any marriage that I could not find in the GRO indexes.  There used to be many more, but with the aid of FreeBMD and a bit more imagination on my part, they have been reduced to 21.  It has been quite a revelation to me to discover that many marriages which I thought had never reached the GRO did in fact arrive, but have been lying there mis-indexed.  Take, for example, the marriage of Mary Whitehouse to Thomas Cartmail which is in the parish register of Walsall St. Matthew for 8th July 1838.  There was no difficulty in identifying Mary in the GRO index, but Thomas ?  I tried Cartmale, Cartwail, Carpmail, Carpmael, Gartmail, Cortmail….   As a final act of desperation I tried Curtmail and there it was.


Even more diligent readers will notice the mysterious file "FREQUENCY…" on the annex website.  This contains a slightly revised version of a paper that I had published in 1998 and shows the frequency of the name Whitehouse and various ways of measuring it.   I have been telling correspondents for some years that in the Dudley, Tipton and West Bromwich areas it has the same frequency as does Williams in the whole of England & Wales, Williams being the 3rd commonest surname.  In the Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley areas, it is on a par with Smith and Jones.


Writing of surname frequency, I wonder if anyone can explain to me the mysterious website www.taliesin-arlein.net/names .  It is said to be a 1998 database of 270,000 surnames in England & Wales, the entry qualification for which is that there must be at least 5 entries of the name.  It enables one to obtain a ranking for any given surname.  Whitehouse was ranked 459, with 15,893 entries.  According to the Nottinghamshire FHS Journal, Vol. 11 No. 5, October 2004, the database comes from names of people registered with the National Health Service, but the website does not say this.  Births are continually added, but deaths are not weeded out.  Multiplying by 0.93 gives an estimate of the population having the name.  I'll be returning to this topic in a later newsletter.


I am afraid that all this bread-and-butter stuff (censuses, GRO marriages) will disappoint those who are stuck around 1800 and hope that I will conjure up some obscure records that will help them.  I do have it mind, but very few records identify Whitehouses in enough detail to be interesting.  I have downloaded the few Whitehouses, all in London, in the newly created indexes to the Sun Fire Office registers for the period 1816 to 1834 and will be adding these to the Annex website.


The semi-encryption of my new e-mail address has caused some comment.  One defeated person sent a letter by post, another, sensibly, did a Google search for the supermarket and worked it out.  Of course, I am sorry for any irritation and anyone who can offer me a nice free encryption program that they have tested with Windows XP and can recommend will be welcome.  I have asked the Guild of One-name Studies to cancel my previous address ending in "one-name.org".  Putting it on the website has caused me no end of spam.  I hope for better things from my new address (see link on Index page).


I have been thinking of putting my telephone number on the website, again in a semi-encrypted form, having discovered that it is the product of two large prime numbers.  However, I rather like my telephone number and do not want to resort to elaborate arrangements to filter annoying calls.  So, I'll park that one, but any registered correspondent who would like a telephone discussion can always e-mail me to request one.


Following the successful influx of new correspondents, I now have a big indexing task ahead of me and I hope that all such of you reading this will be patient.  Viv Turner (435) will have to be very patient, as she didn't enclose a stamped addressed envelope or give an e-mail address with her letter.  I have registered her genealogy and indexed the marriages and will write when I have completed the indexing.


Existing correspondents who want to be very helpful should please make a nice clear chart of their family history in the Whitehouse name, which is NOT in a Gedcom format (send text or print and scan) and which is printable to A4 in a neat and tidy presentation.  Also wanted are census references, including the 1881 census.  References to family stories and the 1891 and 1901 censuses should please be added as footnotes on the chart.  This is part of the "clear way forward".  I shall be storing such charts in digital and printed-out form.  Correspondence will not be kept.  Paper files will be disposed of. 


Some will recall having sent in "Word pedigrees", an idea that I was pursuing in my January 2002 paper in Journal of One-name Studies.  It was unsuccessful.  Not many people responded.  Many mistakes were made, including several by me !   At that time, I saw it as a temporary solution to a huge indexing problem.  I always knew that indexing marriages was the key to identifying genealogies and now that my GRO marriage index has improved so much, it is even more true.  I shall be proceeding with the pre-civil registration marriages of correspondents as soon as I can find the time.  It would enable me to dispose of two shoe-boxes of index cards, devoted entirely to spouses.


By the way, it is amazing just how many people do not produce charts - some, it seems, find the task beyond them.  I'll be returning to this theme in a future newsletter.


I'm pleased to say that my wife and I are well and that the grandchildren suffer from only the usual passing colds and tummy bugs.  Robert, the only male, has been playing the organ and trombone at school, in public, a terrific advance for a nervous child.  Science is his thing.


Best wishes




27th December 2005  Updated 6th & 24th January 2006


Happy New Year Everyone,




The Centre is opening again on a limited basis, as explained below.


Firstly, it will re-open to admit new registrations of Whitehouse genealogies for a period of one month only, from 1st to 31st March 2006.  As many of you know, the Centre has been closed for over 4 years, since October 2001.  The purpose of registering is this, that you will then be given a WFHC number, which will be entered in the census, marriage and probate indexes available on the web.  This will allow others with the same or a related genealogy to contact you, without your being bothered by irrelevant enquirers.


Secondly, the Centre will open on 1st March and remain open indefinitely thereafter, for the purpose of making contacts.  It has been decided NOT to put addresses in an on-line directory on the website, but that all contacts will be arranged through the Centre.  (This is a change from the arrangement set out in my 1st October 2005 newsletter).   It is expected that most of the contacts will be made in March or April 2006, because existing correspondents have already been "matched" to each other.  These contacts will be between a new correspondent who registers in March and either another such new correspondent or an existing one.   However, some existing correspondents will probably have changed their contact details, so there might well be a time lag of several months before some of the contacts can be arranged.   It is for this reason that the Centre will remain open for arranging contacts for a long time after March 2006.


After 31st March 2006, the Centre will be closed for new registrations.  When I have coped with the expected flood of new registrations, I will consider whether to open again for additional new registrations.


The Centre will remain closed for casual enquiries.


The rules for new registrations will be as follows:

[This section has been omitted, as it is superseded by the Registrations FAQs file]



- to continue with quarterly newsletters on or about 1st January, April, July and October

- to maintain the probate indexes, which are potentially of enormous value

- to complete the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 census indexes for England & Wales to a high standard of accuracy and improve coverage of Scotland

- to annotate further the census, marriage and probate indexes with the references of correspondents

- to improve the GRO index files, especially for marriages and to extend births and deaths.

- to index the marriages of correspondents which took place before civil registration

- to index the 1881 census references of correspondents

- to create an on-web register of the names of correspondents and an off-web register of their contact details

- to index some of the US censuses



It has been a tumultuous year in genealogy, owing to a big increase in indexing on-line.  There is so much that I would like to do to improve my Whitehouse records, so little spare time in which to do it. 


During much of 2005, I have been concentrating on expanding my sortable indexed transcripts of the 1841 to 1871 censuses.  I have re-written the file CEN EXPLANATIONS, which shows the state of affairs to date. There is one very important message that I want to get across.  It is that the "Ancestry" indexing of Whitehouses is of a very poor standard.  If you have failed to find your Whitehouse ancestor in "Ancestry", it's quite likely that he or she has been mis-indexed.  It's well worth trying my indexes on this website. 


When using the "Ancestry" indexes, I am now routinely searching Whit*, where * is a "wild card" representing one or more characters.  This search therefore picks up Whitacre, Whitcombe, White, Whitehair, Whitehead, Whitehorne etc. along with Whitehouse.  The most worrying names are those which commonsense says are very unlikely, such as "Whitchoun" and "Whitchouse".  Of course, I can't check every entry thrown up by the Whit* search, but I do look at the image for all those names which have been known to be mis-readings of Whitehouse or which are highly improbable names of about the same length.


It would be nice to think that the Whit* search, although very tedious, will guarantee my picking up all the Whitehouses.  Alas, some of the mis-readings do not begin with these four letters.  A few are so strange that no reasonable search in "Ancestry" would ever find them.  I am so glad, therefore, that a significant proportion of my census records has come from local name indexes or trawling (reading through films, unaided by any index).  


Another strength of my indexes lies in the place of birth.  I try hard to read this sensibly, frequently looking up the names of villages and hamlets.  Correspondent 097 will see what I mean, when I mention that "Ancestry" have indexed her Alfred Whitehouse on the 1871 census as born in Waberthwaite, Surrey.  Waberthwaite, if it existed at all, would be a Lake District name.  He was actually born in Walworth, now an area of south east London, near the Elephant & Castle and this is reasonably clearly written in the census return.


This does not mean that the "Ancestry" indexes are useless.  After all, they cover areas for which no local name indexes exist.  Trawling is never a reliable method and I am using on-line indexes to check the accuracy of the trawls.


Some people must wonder whether transcribing the whole household, servants and all, is worthwhile.  You just never know, as correspondent 070 will testify, because the future wife of Robert Stephen Whitehouse, the cotton mercer, can be found listed among the very many apprentices and servants in the 1871 census of his establishment in Leamington Spa.


In the immediate future, a priority is to continue keeping pace with the "British Origins" indexing of the 1841 census.  This has been proceeding slowly, working roughly diagonally across southern and middle England, from Cornwall to Lincolnshire, with new counties being added every month or two.  The quality of the "British Origins" indexing is high.  They have covered the three counties of the West Midlands, where most Whitehouses are found.   The WFHC index to the 1841 census of the West Midlands was compiled partly from local indexes and partly from trawling.   I have started using the "British Origins" index to check the trawled parts for omissions and have so far completed Dudley and Sedgley parishes.  (There were several omissions, as expected). 


The WFHC index to the 1851 census has benefited from published paper or fiche surname indexes, with only a very little trawling.  However, the CEN OTHER file (covering everywhere except the West Midlands and London) is weak in places, so I have made a start on supplementing that by using the "Ancestry" indexes.  The worst areas are probably Yorkshire and Kent, so I have started there and will be up-grading that file in the first quarter of 2006.


Another priority is to improve the GRO Marriage Index.  This is a big task, for the idea is to include churches where the marriage took place and the date.  Also, there are many more spouse names to add.  This improved index will be an immensely powerful tool, for it will enable searchers either to find the marriage or to eliminate a large number of possibilities from their list of candidates.  Currently, 1837 to 1881 has been completed.  1902 to 1911 is also available in this form, but some additions are in the pipeline.


You'll have seen WFHC references in the last column of the census transcripts.  Only a small portion of these has resulted from any systematic attempt at entering them.  I intend to start going through the paper files in an organised way, marking up the digital files with references.  This will be an ongoing project during 2006, but it is a huge task.  Therefore, any registered correspondent who wants to help by pointing out where his or her reference is missing and needs to be inserted in the digital files (census, marriage, probate) will be very well received.   Please also contribute 1881 census references, as I shall shortly be establishing a file for those.  I need at least the piece and folio number. 


Best wishes