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Parish Register Product Of The Month

Under Oars: Reminiscences of a Thames Lighterman, 1894-1909, by Harry Harris

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Go to British Origins - Trace your Origins online







 

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Docklands Ancestors is primarily a website run by family historians for family historians. In 2001 our founder, James Legon, commenced his own research into his family history. Shortly before the death of a beloved aunt, he was given a small but intriguing family tree. James quickly became consumed by the desire to find out more about his family history. He took 6 months off work to pursue his passion for family history full time. This led to the discovery of his ancestors as far back as the 1680s. He also discovered that his family had worked on the river Thames for 7 generations.

He soon realised that once the readily available sources such as BMD indexes and censuses had been investigated, the only remaining major resource to research was parish registers. This involved him in approximately 50 trips to the London Metropolitan Archives and the laborious task of scrolling through endless rolls of microfilm.

The idea formed in his mind that there had to be a better way of searching these registers other than a trip to the Archives in person. Wouldn't it be nice if you could search the registers on the internet at home? As a self taught enthusiast of databases, he also realized that the technology available with the internet meant that it could be done. The scale of the task seemed immense, as there are countless parishes within London alone. With baptism, marriage and burial registers, sometimes going back hundreds of years, it seemed unachievable.

A chance encounter with an old friend, Simon Burley, revealed that Simon had become proficient in the field of website design. James' family agreed to stump up a thousand pounds to get the idea off the ground, ( not that they understood what he was on about, but his enthusiasm was infectious! ). Thus Docklands Ancestors was born, initially set up as a sole trader business.

James got to work transcribing his first register, the 8,000 entry St Peter's London Docks, ( which just so happened to contain many of his Legon ancestors! ). The website was launched in January 2002, with the sole product of one database, searchable online. This innovative approach to family history was quickly embraced by the family history community. The proceeds of the initial database sales were rapidly re-invested in further transcriptions, all done by James.

It soon became apparent that there was also a market for CD ROM versions of the transcriptions too. 2004 saw the launch of our online shop, which initially just stocked our own transcriptions. At this time also, James got in touch with Rob Cottrell, the transcriber of the Waterman & Lighterman records and a prolific transcriber of parish registers. Rob agreed to make his publications available through ParishRegister.com and the two have worked hand in glove ever since, both sharing a common passion in all things connected with the river Thames.

The business incorporated as a limited company in 2003, still with James' family and Simon providing the capital to expand the business. The business was initially housed in James' daughter's bedroom but soon took over the front room. As space ran out, he had a shed office built in the garden. Currently, the business continues to be run from The Shed.

Throughout this time, James continued to work free of charge, with all proceeds re-invested in further transcriptions and growing the business. He continues to this day with his daytime occupation as a landscape gardener.

In 2005 he welcomed Esme Richardson to the business as Business Development Director and Simon also agreed to take on the role of Website Director. Esme also brought specialist knowledge as a researcher to cope with the growing demand from our customers.

The website shop continued to expand as more and more suppliers recognized that ParishRegister.com was growing into a major family history resource. Throughout this time, the website continued to attract the loyalty of an increasing number of family historians, both nationally and internationally. Docklands Ancestors takes a great deal of pride in its closeness to its customers. Many have contributed both their time and written copy to the business.

As the business grew, some of these dedicated family historians became transcribers for us as well. We are justifiably proud of the quality of our transcriptions, compiled as they are by fellow family history historians with local knowledge of the area.

Although strictly speaking a limited company owned by its shareholders, the business operates in a not-for-profit manner, continually re-investing its sales into further transcriptions. One of the founding principles of the business was what we term ethical genealogy. This means that a percentage of our sales is donated back to the area. We believe that we are guardians of our common cultural heritage and that the benefits of our business should be shared by all.

We hope you enjoy using our website, that it helps you find your ancestors and that you too share our passion for family history. We always welcome feedback and are continually striving to improve the site, albeit in our own unusual quirky way !




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-A Passion For Family History-


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