The latest episode of this season’s WDYTYA? featured Alex Kingston.
This episode was very entertaining, thanks to Alex Kingston’s good humour. I especially enjoyed her “Poker Poll” voice, and if you have any ancestors listed as Lodging House Keepers in the census, it may well open up new avenues of research.
Read Chris Paton’s review for more.
The Alex Kingston episode of Who Do You Think You Are? will be available on BBC iplayer for the next month.
Has this episode inspired you to make a start on your own family history?
This post is the latest in a series for beginner family historians researching their English ancestors. I have already covered first steps in family history, obtaining birth, marriage and death certificates, using the census, parish registers, and an introduction to Military Records.
In this episode Alex visited The London Probate Department on Holborn to view the will of one of her ancestors. The will told us a lot, not only about the properties she owned, but also about her character and family circumstances.
The use of Wills in family history is a huge topic so I am just going to suggest one easy task to get you started.
Task 1 – Search for a will in the National Probate Calendar
From 1858 wills have been kept centrally by the Principal Probate Registry. These wills can be located via the National Probate Calendar, which lists wills alphabetically by name within each year (the year probate was granted which may be different to year of death).
To consult the calendar you can visit the London Probate Office in person, consult microform copies of the calendar at libraries and archives, or, easiest of all, consult the calendar on Ancestry.
The Ancestry database covers the period 1858-1966, and there are gaps, but it is easy to search. You can find some valuable information in the calendar itself, which may be useful to confirm a death date. The will itself can be ordered by post from the Probate Service.
An excellent Research Guide to Wills & Probate is provided by the National Archives.
If the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? has inspired you to start researching your family history, I would love to hear how you are getting on!