Tuesday, March 28, 2006

COCP Newsletter No 3

Since the last newsletter we have completed (but possibly not yet uploaded):

St Austell*
St Minver
St Veep
St Columb Minor*

1559 Kenwyn
1585 Phillack
1855 St Agnes

2321 Illogan

The 1851 pieces with asterisks mark completed pieces that have also gone to Free Census. Here is a notice of interest to 1851 volunteers:

Missing Images from the 1851 CD set from MyCensuses.com (Gordon Beavington): There have been at least two separate releases of this CD set and we have discovered that there are images missing from both these sets. If you are transcribing or checking an 1851 piece and find that you are missing a page then don't worry as all may not be lost!

The first place to check is Bill O'Reilly's 'Online Briefcase' at

There you will find a directory called 'CON1851 Census' and Bill has (as of 26th March 2006) 35 files of 'missing images' (and even whole enumeration districts) that he has obtained from Gordon Beavington. Note that one of those files is called 'Instructions-please read' - please do read these instructions before downloading any of the files!

If the page you need is not to be found in the briefcase then please contact Michael, Kay or Bill who will look on their own sets of CD's to see if they have the image.

The last sentence really applies to all years: We have all the discs, both commercial & LDS; plus we have access to Ancestry.com, so if you are stuck, drop us a line. You will get an image or an answer within hours. Especially if you use jabber - our instant messaging system. Why not try it out?

The COCP web site has been revamped using a design by Myra Cordrey (OPC co-ordinator) implemented by Rick & Kay. Please check it out - comments (& pictures) are more than welcome.

Free Census has just restated the position on entering overseas birthplaces. We shall stick to what it says in the COCP General Instructions & this blog.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What is a parish?

Originally the parish was more a collection of rights than a specific area. Before the seventeenth century the parish existed for ecclesiastical purposes as the area under the jurisdiction of a clergyman with the cure of souls. With the establishment of the Elizabeth Poor Law in 1597, the parish began to acquire secular functions, in this case the relief of the poor. Parishes which existed before 1597, and which thereafter had secular as well as ecclesiastical functions, were called ‘ancient parishes’.

‘Civil Parishes” were administrative units which only had secular functions, and were commonly defined as areas for which a separate poor rate could be assessed. The existence, alteration or abolition of these units had no effect on the ecclesiastical arrangements of the locality. Many civil parishes were areas at first subordinate to a mother church which had come in time to enjoy independence, such as hamlets, tithings, townships, chapelries and liberties. If a separate Poor Law rate was levied in the subordinate unit, it could be called a ‘hamlet’, ‘township’, and so on, and/or a ‘parish’. In order to avoid confusion the 1866 Poor Law Amendment Act required that these areas should be called ‘parishes’. Many extra-parochial places had already become civil parishes in 1857.

From 1597 onwards ‘ecclesiastical parishes’ were established for purely ecclesiastical purposes. They were more numerous than civil parishes, especially when efforts were made to build new churches in urban areas where the population was increasing. Many ecclesiastically subordinate areas within parishes, such as chapelries, were raised to parochial rank, and many formed which had no previous status. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a number of statutory provisions allowed the creation of many different types of ecclesiastical or ‘new’ parishes. It was not unusual for a parish to be refounded to gain privileges and rights conferred by newer statutes.

Making Sense of the Census Revisited by Edward Higgs. Published by University of London in conjunction with TNA.

News from the Homeland 15th March 2006

Thursday is the day the main weekly local papers arrive. In our household we take the Truro edition of The West Briton AND the Newquay edition of the Cornish Guardian.

Last week, the main item of news was about the only general hospital in Cornwall - Treliske in Truro. In spite of their no-doubt excellent financial controls, they have ended up 8.1 million pounds overspent. The Chief Executive and half a dozen other top managers have been taken out into the car park and shot! No they haven't. Instead they are closing wards and operating theatres and sacking 300 people. We are at the end of a nine year experiment in hosing the NHS down with money and it doesn't seem to be working.

The row over the waste incinerator rumbles on. This week the papers named the four potential sites for this thing. They are all, as forecast, in and around St Dennis. I am taking a closer interest as one of the sites is only 3 miles from this computer. Luckily, it is to the east of us and the wind is usually from the south west!

The lead story this week is the arrests in Truro of a couple of East Europeans engaged in running a brothel or pimping. Not what one expects in a respectable Cornish town like Truro - but only to be expected with all these virile daffodil pickers in the county.

The Eden Project is hoping to start a third biome soon - a desert one I think. To celebrate their fifth anniversary, they are offering a year long passport ticket to residents of Cornwall for only five pounds. Shame I bought mine in January! The Eden Project is a good place to take your visitors if you have any. We take the grandchildren ice skating in the winter and to the "jungle nights" in the summer.

Finally, in the autumn, Duchy Opera is staging a mega production of "The Wreckers". Set in Cornwall, this opera hasn't been performed for about a hundred years. I have a vested interest because my wife is the minutes secretary to the ruling council of Duchy Opera. So I get to hear all the news. There is to be a large scale effort involving the Cornish schools as well as the actual production.

Friday, March 10, 2006

COCP Newsletter No 2

This week we have completed 2321 from 1871(Karen Duvall & Sue McNelly); 1559 from 1861(Tina Russell & John Ford) and St Austell from the 1851( Julia Mosman, Myra Davey, David Trounce & John Nance). The latter means that another complete 1851 piece is done and can therefore be uploaded to Free Census as well as our own web pages. These should all be online in the next week or so.

Here I go again - place of birth. Aids to working out what the enumerator wrote. More of us have broadband and are thus able to run various useful web sites as we work. These can be used to help in deciphering personal and place names.

The first and most obvious is Google. Just type in "St Tiller" and see what happens. Nothing! But you might be luckier than that. Even if the place name is still wrong, you can leave me a useful little note. Recently I had a record that gave some saint's name I had never heard of. But Google threw up a farm in the parish I was looking at that had the right name. Google is also good for personal names & occupations.

Second most obvious site is OURS! The COCP web pages contain over 1.2 million records. There is a search engine and who knows - we might already have encountered your difficult-to-read name.

A site for out-of-county names is Free Census. With nearly 7 million records online the name you are seeking might be there.

A site with zillions of names on is the LDS familysearch.org site. Only one of our checkers uses this to confirm tricky personal names (that I know of) and it is free & fast.

You can always check with me. I have the OS Gazetteer in paper form; every name that is on the OS Explorer maps is in it. I also have a file containing large numbers of Cornish place names - you can have a copy.

Finally, a suggestion from a new transcriber. Insert an extra column in your spreadsheet and enter the jpg ident as you start each page. You can delete the whole column when you have finished.

Of course, with all these aids, you must keep in mind that you are trying to combine speed with accuracy.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

COCP Newsletter No 1

Good morning from Cornwall

We continue to make good progress; about a dozen pieces were uploaded in February. Roughly speaking, we have completed about 70% of the 1851 & 1861 and 25% of the 1871. Although little effort is being put into the 1881 project so far, we have uploaded about 6%.

On the wider front, Free Census now has nearly 7 million records online; we have contributed over 1.1 million of these. Of course, we have done more than this as we have a lot of records on the COCP site that have not been uploaded to Free Census as yet. On my other projects; Warwicks 91 & Nth Wilts, the Warwicks project is nearly finished, with only six pieces out of 122 remaining to be done. Nth Wilts has barely started, but has 40 volunteers beavering away.

It seems the LDS are planning to digitise and place online many of the records they have filmed over the years, including the parish registers. These will be indexed and this will take a long time. In Cornwall of course, the OPC scheme is already busy doing a full transcript of the Cornish parish registers.

Now-a-days, we don't seem to have many major problems on the COCP; do I sound sad? Well, I am not. However, one of the areas that slows down validation in particular is the place of birth field. I am not sure that everyone understands what is required of them.

We aim to reproduce what the enumerator wrote. Nothing more, nothing less. So, while it is nice that someone works out where St Tiller is (I wish I knew); the result of their detective work isn't going to appear online. It will have to be St Tiller. It does help me if it is difficult to read but you have left a note suggesting what it might be.

There seems to be an enduring tendency not to use the Chapman codes for Irish & Scots counties. This is not just a Cornish thing; the WAR91 volunteers are just the same. They are there and should be used. Please.

The Free Census instructions are quite clear - above all - write down what is in the field! So if the enumerator writes N K or Unknown, please put it in. Only if the field is empty do we break the "as is" rule and we put a hyphen to show that we have looked and the field is empty.

The overseas birth question is a Free Census mess. The COCP has tried to get it made more sensible but have failed. Please read the paragraph in the general instructions about how you determine if a person is OVB or OVF.

Amongst the posts on this thing, there is one on communications. This project is built round email; I am always pleased to hear from you with a small update on your progress; or just to say hello. You can also use instant messaging. You don't have to use the chatroom, but the system will give you instant one-to-one with me if I am online, as I usually am during UK daylight hours. You can pop up and ask me to look at an image; I am quite good at deciphering these things, as you would expect after six years! Give it a try, if you don't like, you can just ditch it.

Thank you all for your continuing support.