District’s social history at your fingertips

Whitby and district’s colourful history can now be found at the touch of a button.

Hundreds of thousands of records chronicling the social history of North Yorkshire are to be made available to a worldwide audience on the internet.

North Yorkshire County Council is one of the founding members of the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium – a partnership of authorities which has pledged to make its parish records available online.

Once the project is under way, millions of family and parish records from across Yorkshire will be viewable by people researching their family or parish histories.

County councillor Chris Metcalfe who holds the post of executive member for library and information services said: “This is a vast resource and it will be of inestimable value to people all over the world who want to find out about their North Yorkshire roots.

“We are proud and excited to be supporting this initiative through our County Records Office, whose task will now be to convert the microfilm of the parish registers into digital copies, ready for uploading.”

It is believed the digitisation process could take 18 months to two years, after which the entire record will be available at a Yorkshire section of www.findmypast.co.uk.

Parish registers were established in the reign of Henry VIII, and the earliest date from the first half of the 16th century.

They were compiled by the vicars of every parish in the country.

Primarily recording details of baptisms, marriages and deaths, they also frequently contain other information of great interest to social historians. Entries in the parish records of North Yorkshire include John Carr who was shot by a king’s cutter on board a smuggler (Burial, Hinderwell, 1769) and Thos Cassildine, a soldier of the 1st Regiment of Dragoon Guards cruelly murdered at Runswick in attempting to seize some smuggled goods (Burial, Hinderwell, 1776).

The records reveal the wide and often suprising occupations of those who have lived and worked in North Yorkshire over the centuries including Amram Foljamb, a butter searcher (Burial, Whitby, 1739) and Thos, son of Thos and Catharine Brown of Staithes, umbrella repairer (Christening, Hinderwell, 1830).

As well as proper names, the parish records also frequently give nicknames and in at least one instance, the Vicar felt it his duty to record the severe weather conditions suffered by his parishioners.

Many more resources for people interested in family and local history will be on display at the Family History Day, organised by the County Record Office, at Harrogate Pavilions on Saturday 16 March.

Tickets are just £2 each, payable at the door.

The event will feature leading experts in the fields of family and house history research, and some 30 stalls and trade stands run by a wide range of archaeology and history organisations.