Genealogy news roundup: First DNA map of Ireland published

By Rosemary Collins, 21 December 2017 - 2:26pm

Plus: Findmypast offers free access to 98 million Atlantic immigration records; British Newspaper Archive reaches 23 million pages; Ancestry adds Dunfermline music institution registers

The DNA map with genetic clusters. Credit: RCSI

The influence Ireland’s history has played on its people’s genetic heritage has been revealed in a new study.

Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Genealogical Society of Ireland (GSI) published the first DNA atlas of Ireland in the journal Scientific Reports, following a DNA study of volunteers whose great grandparents were all born within 50km of each other on the island.

They discovered ten distinct genetic clusters. Seven showed Gaelic Irish ancestry and three, of shared British-Irish ancestry, were mostly found in the north of Ireland, reflecting the influence of the Ulster Plantations.

The survey also found relatively high levels of North-West French-like (probably ‘Celtic’) ancestry, and evidence of West Norwegian-like ancestry, probably linked to Viking raiders.

The researchers are looking for more participants who fit their criteria. If you would like to get involved in the survey, email the GSI's Séamus O’Reilly via


Findmypast offers free access to 98 million Atlantic immigration records

Findmypast has announced the launch of a new database of 98 million records of migrants to the New World, with free access available to family historians for a limited time.

The British and Irish Roots Collection was created from existing records picked by Findmypast’s in-house experts, tracing 400 years of migration from Britain and Ireland to the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.

It brings together transcriptions of millions of passenger lists, census records, naturalization applications and draft registrations, as well as birth, marriage, and death records, in one place.

The collection makes it easier to search the records, which date from 1573 to 1990, for an individual’s name or for a date, country of origin or destination country.

Findmypast offers free access to 98 million Atlantic immigration records


British Newspaper Archive reaches 23 million pages

The British Newspaper Archive has passed a milestone of digitising 23 million local newspaper pages, bringing it closer to its ultimate goal of 40 million.

The current total is 23,132,225 pages, with recently added titles including the Merthyr Times, and Dowlais Times, and Aberdare Echo, the Coventry Evening Telegraph and the Waterford Chronicle.

The British Newspaper Archive provides digital access to the newspapers held by the British Library, with subscriptions starting from £12.95 a month.

The newspapers are also available to Findmypast subscribers.


Ancestry adds Dunfermline music institution registers

Ancestry has added the 1910-20 registers of the Carnegie Music Institution, as part of its digitisation of records from Fife Archives.

The 13,699 records include images of the original registers, recording each pupil’s address, the instrument they were being taught, the name of their teacher and the fee being paid.

The Institution was founded in Dunfermline by the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, which was endowed by Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie (1835-1919) was born in Dunfermline before emigrating to the USA as a boy and becoming one of the richest businessmen in America, dedicating his wealth to philanthropy.

TheGenealogist adds 1.9 million new Sussex parish records

Family history website TheGenealogist has added 1.9 million more records to its Sussex parish collection.

The records are being made available on TheGenealogist and FHS-Online from a database compiled by The Parish Record Transcription Society.

The new addition consists of 1,278,413 baptisms, 308,746 marriages and 327,091 burials, bringing TheGenealogist’s total Sussex collection to over three million transcribed records.

One of the most interesting people found in the collection is George O’Brien, the 3rd Earl of Egremont. The records show that his mistress Elizabeth Ilive bore him seven illegitimate children before they finally married in 1801.

Both George and Elizabeth were keen supporters of art and science, and Elizabeth had a laboratory built for her at the Earl’s estate, Petworth House.


Cheshire History and Heritage Service to close to move locations

Cheshire History and Heritage Service has announced a programme of closures as it moves to a new home.

The family and local history service will be closed for Christmas from 15 December to 2 January.

It will then close in the week beginning 12 January as staff and volunteers move the service from its current location in St Michael’s Church in Chester to Grosvenor Museum, with a planned reopening in early spring.

Cllr Louise Gittins, West Cheshire and Chester council’s cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said the museum would provide “a far larger audience” for the service.

While Cheshire History and Heritage Service is closed, it can be contacted with queries on


First World War soldier's family traced after photograph found in cemetery

The discovery of the photograph of a First World War soldier in a cemetery in France has brought together people from across the Channel in an effort to honour his memory.

Louis Sabos, from Sommaing in Northern France, contacted Pembrokeshire Archives and Local Studies after he found a photograph of Private Henry Davies near the Canonne Farm British Cemetery.

He carried out research into Private Davies and hoped to find his family so that together they could commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death in 2018.

Private Davies was born in the Welsh village of St Nicholas and worked on a farm before serving with the South Wales Borderers.

He died of battle injuries aged 21 on 4 November 1918, just a week before the end of the war.

First World War soldier's family traced after photograph found in cemetery


Archant announces local newspaper digitisation project

Regional media company Archant has received funding to digitise newspaper archives dating back to 1870.

The company will use the €676,000 grant from Google’s Digital News Initiative for its Local Recall project, which will involve digitising its archives and working with artificial intelligence start-up Ubisend to make them available via a voice activated service, as well as via a traditional website.

The project, which is expected to become available in 2018, will be accompanied by a crowdsourced website to allow readers to add corrections to the content.

Archant was founded in 1845 and now owns 140 titles, including local newspapers and magazines in East Anglia, London, Kent and the South West.

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