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Surgeons at Sea

An Index to the Filmed Surgeons’ Journals on the Convict Ships to Australia, with some Strays

Ken Shilling, Editor. Published by Newcastle Family History Society Inc, New South Wales

cover for Occupations

This CD is a fascinating new resource for those with ancestors who were transported to the Australian colonies in the 19th century. If you had a family member who was unfortunate enough to be sent to Australia in a convict ship, you may well find them in this archive. Information on over 50,000 people is indexed: not just convicts, but their children, soldiers, crew, free settlers and colonial officers.

An impressive undertaking by Newcastle Family History Society Inc., New South Wales, it comprises an index to 670 surviving surgeons' journals kept on the convict ships. They date from 1817 to the end of transportation. The CD needs Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader to run. Once installed, the ‘Read Me’ section gives the background information and guides you through the databases available.

I tried to find one of my relatives, Christopher Desborough. I knew that he was transported in 1845 on the ship ‘Theresa’. Searching ‘The Ships’, I was pleased to see two entries for ‘Theresa’: 1839 and 1845, indicating that my ancestors’ trip was included on the CD. The index also confirmed that the Theresa sailed to Hobart in 1845 and the surgeon was Colin Arnott Browning. Moving on to ‘The Surgeons’, I searched for Colin Arnott Browning and discovered he was a surgeon on at least 8 convict transportations between 1831 and 1849.

I turned to ‘The People’. Sadly, searching for ‘Desborough’ returned no matches! Instead I searched for ‘Theresa’ and browsed, to see if I could find Christopher, perhaps with his name spelt differently. No luck. It seems my ancestor was too healthy and well-behaved to have crossed paths with the ship’s surgeon!

I searched another name: Satchwell. This time two appeared, including a James Satchwell. The results showed his name, his age: ‘19’, his ship: ‘Prince George’, as well as the date: ‘1837’. He visited the surgeon twice, once for constipation and once for ‘scorbutus’. Both times he was discharged by the surgeon Thomas Bell. A quick look at the ‘Medical Conditions’ database told me that ‘scorbutus’ is ‘having to do with scurvy’. Poor James Satchwell.

Although my search for Christopher Desborough was unsuccessful, his surgeon, Colin Arnott Browning’s biography does appear in ‘The Stories’ section, a more in-depth look at the era of transportation to Australia. Browning was an experienced surgeon, having received a medical degree in Edinburgh 20 years before Christopher was transported. Browning was also an active prison reformer. Finally, ‘The Strays’ lists people from the sick lists of ships of the Royal Navy, emigrant ships and convict transports to other British colonies. In total there are 3,677 entries.

Family historians are indebted to the volunteers of Newcastle Family History Society Inc for undertaking this project and bringing these revealing records to wider attention. When using the CD, patience is sometimes required as the various databases can take a little while to load. However it is worth the wait as this is a very comprehensive and accessible resource. For those who want to go further, the original journals are kept at The National Archives in Kew, London and many can now be viewed on Ancestry.com. The documents are also available on microfilm in Australia.

'Surgeons at Sea', edited by Ken Shilling, costs $50 plus postage and requires Internet Explorer to run. For details of how to order, email

Reviewed by Emma Waltham, Marketing Assistant, Federation of Family History Societies
October 2015

A Dictionary of Occupational Terms

The CD can be purchased online by credit card from the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society (LFHHS) shop at www.lfhhs.org.uk or by post from LFHHS 2 Straits Oswaldtwistle Lancs BB5 3LU for £10.00 plus postage £2.70 UK, £3.50 Europe or £4.70 (Rest of World).

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I was first made aware of this publication over 12 years ago and I eventually managed to obtain a copy. It has been invaluable in explaining the various occupational terms that I have found in the Censuses. This CD is exactly what it says in its Title -“A Dictionary of Occupational Terms - based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921”. It was the basis for the interpretation of occupations recorded in the 1921 Census and so is definitive. Whilst it relates to the 1921 Census, the occupations are of people of all ages, many who were in later life in 1921 and would have worked in the same occupation for over fifty years and so this dictionary includes occupations that were in existence from around 1860. Clearly occupations that had disappeared completely by the beginning of the twentieth century will not be included. The dictionary is in two parts, an alphabetical index of occupational terms which indicates the code that was used in analysing the Census data, e.g. heald knitter 397; and then the occupational codes are listed in numerical order together with occupations linked to that code. In the second part, each term is followed by an explanation of the tasks entailed and also indicates alternative names for the same employment.

There are many lists of occupations on the internet but they have far fewer entries and should be treated with the respect you give any family trees you find there. When I was first interested in heald knitters, I found the occupation listed in at least eight on-line lists and the definitions provided were almost identical – “operator of a machine which produced a jersey type of fabric as opposed to woven fabric” - all the same and all WRONG. A heald is not a fabric but part of the mechanism of a loom that separates the warp threads to allow the shuttle to pass between them. Currently some of the definitions on-line have been corrected so now there are several different definitions on-line.

This Dictionary is authoritative, a primary source. It is extensive, including almost 30,000 terms and over 15,000 different occupations. It will prepare you for the coming release of the 1921 Census. The Society is to be congratulated on being able to make this Dictionary readily available to us.

Jim Lancaster (Bury branch LFHHS)

August 2014

The image above is the cover illustration used on the CD and is from Trades and Occupations: A Pictorial Archive from Early Sources, edited by Carol Belanger Grafton (Dover Publications Inc, 1990) and is used with the permission of F.A.C.H.R.S.

The Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society has added 5 new titles to its range of CD's. They can be purchased from Sales (CD), LFHHS, 2 Straits, Oswaldtwistle BB5 3LU. For full details visit the website http://www.lfhhs.org/index.php

Postage costs are:
UK £1.40
Overseas (Airmail) 1 CD £4.80

CD027 St. James Parish Church, Lower Darwen BB3 OQP: Monumental Inscriptions £9.50 £9.50 + P&P

The CD contains the monumental inscriptions for the parish church of St. James, Lower Darwen. Members of the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society (Blackburn Branch) transcribed the MIs which were published on microfiche in 1997. The MIs cover the period up to the end of 1995, a total of 1,171 gravestones. Details are also included of War Memorial which takes the total to over 3,900 names.

CD028 The Parish Church of St. George, Chorley: Baptisms, Marriages & Burials 1836-1900 & Monumental Inscriptions £9.50 + P&P

The CD contains baptisms and burials which are presented in alphabetical order and date order from 1836-1900. Marriages are presented in groom order, bride order and date order. There is also a Grave List and monumental inscriptions. The volunteers who have contributed to this project are all members of the Chorley Branch of the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society.

CD029 The Parish Church of St. Peter, Blackburn: Monumental Inscriptions & Images £9.50 + P&P

The church was demolished in 1976 as it was considered not financially to repair the church following problems with dry rot and the collapse of a false roof. This CD contains a transcription of the MI's along with their images. Also included is a list of names taken from the gravestones in 1953 and a rapid transcription which is undated. Blackburn Corporation became responsible for maintaining the graveyard in the mid 1950s and the gravestones were taken down and used in making paths.

CD030 Heraldry in the Victoria County History of Lancashire £4.50 + P&P

The CD contains an alphabetical listing of armigers whose arms are depicted in The Victoria County History of Lancashire, and the blazons thereof. Also some corporate heraldry (civic, ecclesiastical etc.) and a list of seals. Heraldry enthusiasts will notice the different spellings for the same charges. These are, no doubt, as shown in the original sources. There are some errors though! No doubt the dedicated amorist will spot them and check with other sources of heraldic information.

CD031 Monumental Inscriptions & Images 1812-2012 for the West Bradford Church, Lancashire £9.50 + P&P

The CD contains the monumental inscriptions for the three West Bradford Churches, Old Methodist Graveyard, the Methodist Church and St. Catherine's. Along with the MIs the CD includes images of all the gravestones, a real bonus for anyone unable to visit the graveyards in person.

August 2013

Bedfordshire Family History Society (BFHS) has recently added this title to its extensive list of publications.

Bedfordshire Parish Registers Surnames CD

This index of over one million entries covers all baptisms and burials up to 1851 and marriages up to 1837 in the Bedfordshire parish registers. Details from marriage licences are included for bride, groom and surety. Initial sorting is alphabetical by surname using the precise spelling that appears in the original source, so readers need to check each possible spelling variation.

The title of the CD is slightly misleading, as the index contains forenames as well as surnames. The year, parish and type of event also appear. However, other details that may exist in the original record, such as the names of parents or spouses, precise date and age, are not included in the index. Therefore, when items of interest appear you will need to seek such more detailed information elsewhere. A publications list on the BFHS website gives more details about how you can obtain full transcripts of parish records.

Christian names are arranged strictly alphabetically under each surname with baptisms, marriages and burials identified but not separated into different lists. The abbreviations of Christian names that were used when the earlier events were extracted have been retained so, for example, “William” and “Wm” are printed and sorted as though different names.

The Index is available direct from BFHS for £10.00 inclusive of postage & packing, by using the order form at http://www.bfhs.org.uk/publications.html  It is also possible to buy the CD from online shops, which charge extra for postage & packing.

Reviewed by Francis Howcutt (FFHS)

3 January 2013

The Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society has added 4 new titles to its range of CD's. They can be purchased from Sales (CD), LFHHS, 2 Straits, Oswaldtwistle BB5 3LU. For full details visit the website http://www.lfhhs.org.uk/shop/cds/cdbuy.htm

Postage costs are:
UK 1 CD £1.40, 2 CDs £1.80 3 CDs £2.10
Overseas (Airmail) 1 Cd £4.00, 2 CDs £4.70, 3 CDs £5.30

CD020 The Parish Church of St. James, Clitheroe St. James's Street, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 1HH: Memorial Inscriptions & Images £9.50 + P&P

The CD contains all the memorial inscriptions from the church and churchyard for St. James, Clitheroe. Between 2000-2001 the church underwent an internal reorganisation which involved the exhumation of an area of the graveyard prior to an extension being built. The removed headstones were placed against the south wall and all the remains were placed in three caskets and re-interred at Clitheroe Cemetery Waddington Road.
This is an excellent aid to anyone with ancestors buried at St. James or with family connections to the church. Good colour photographs of the memorials as well as internal shots of the church are especially invaluable to anyone unable to visit in person.

CD021 The Parish Church of t. John the Divine Coppull, Chorley, Lancashire PR7 5AB: Baptisms 1912-1951 £9.50 + P&P

The CD contains in alphabetical order the baptisms between 1912 and 1951. The transcription and checking work was undertaken by the members of the Chorley Branch of LFHHS and includes entries contained in the first two registers for the Parish Church as well as a history of the church.

CD022 St. Michael the Archangel Whittington, Lancashire LA6 2NT: Monumental Inscriptions & Images £9.50 + P&P

The CD contains the monumental inscriptions and images for the ancient parish church of St. Michael the Archangel, Whittington. Many of the old stones date back to Norman times. Whittington Heritage Society and members of the Lancaster & Morecambe Branch of the Lancashire FHHS conducted a survey in 2006-2007 which provided the basis for this CD .
Details are also included of the men of the parish who lost their lives in WW1 recorded on the War memorial as well as much general information and internal and external images of the church.

CD023 Prominent People of Blackburn & District 110-1899 £4.50 (+ P&P)

A surname index is provided to this extensive database of prominent people of Blackburn and district. It covers the period 1100-1899 and is presented century by century. It is the work of Ray Smith Chairman of the Blackburn Local History Society. Whilst in the early periods Ray has included anyone who lived in Blackburn as he progressed through the centuries he has been more specific as to who is listed. The criteria for the C19th has been Mayors, Alderman, Councillors, JPs, industrialists, scholars, solicitors etc as well as international sportsmen and women and actors and actresses of national merit.

14 May 2012

East Grinstead Census CD

East Grinstead, Sussex
Transcription of the 1811,1821 & 1831 Census

Sussex Family History Group

This CD, the latest from the Sussex Family History Group, is a transcription of the surviving records of three early East Grinstead census.  East Grinstead is a large parish stretching from the Surrey border south to West Hoathly.  It is also the only Sussex place where three (1811, 1821, 1831) census name lists have survived out of the four pre-1841 census.

All 3 census have lists of householders, by name, with some details of  employment and the numbers of males & females at each property.   The 1821 & 1831 census also have records giving the age ranges of the inhabitants of each house.  As not all of the original manuscripts of the East Grinstead 1811, 1821 & 1831 census have survived and, of the  parts that are available, some are in very poor condition, supporting population information has been included from other publications.

The transcriptions are in Adobe Reader PDF format, there is a comprehensive index of names across all 3 census and all are fully searchable.  There are also notes about the census and the transcriptions.

The East Grinstead Census CD is available from Sussex Family History Group and costs £3.50 including surface post and packing. 

Order from: SFHG Publication, 40 Tanbridge Park, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1SZ

It can also be ordered via the SFHG website. www.sfhg.org.uk
peterborough cathedral registers

Peterborough Cathedral Registers 1575-2007

Produced by Peterborough & District FHS Price £10 (exc. P&P) Please note £1 for every disc sold will be donated to Cathedral funds
Available direct from the society

The CD contains a transcription by PDFHS members of the Baptism (1615-1986), Marriage (1615-2007) and Burial (1575-2007) Registers which are held at Peterborough Cathedral. The information is shown “as entered” in the registers as well as alphabetically by surname. Each section has a supporting “Notes” document and the “Welcome” document gives general information on the registers and how to use the transcription.

Transcriptions of the War Memorials in the Cathedral are included as well as some information on the various clergy and others who appear in the registers. Pictures of the memorials as well as of various register entries and general views of the Cathedral are also on the CD.

For information on other publications by Peterborough & District FHS please visit the society's website at  http://www.peterborofhs.org.uk/

Devon FHS have recently added new titles to their already extensive list of CD publications.

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Crime and Punishment

CD047 Cost £5

An index of the Register of Summary Convictions containing over 15,000 names of people who committed a crime in Plymouth between 1875 and 1904

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Caught in the Act!

CD046 Cost £5

An Index of over 9,000 names in Plymouth of those giving sworn statements as witnesses to crimes plus the names of those standing sureties for either themselves or a witness.

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Plymouth Prison Index

CD048  Cost £5

An index of over 17,000 people committed to Plymouth Prison during the following years:- 1867-1878; 1888-1891 and 1909-1930

3 Deaneries; Okehampton (CD043), Moreton (CD039) and Torrington (CD045) have also been added at a cost of £15 each. For full details of coverage and all other available CD's please visit their online shop at http://www.devonfhs.org.uk/shop/product_list.php?cat_id=5

18 July 2011

Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society have recently published these new CD’s
They are available direct from the society www.lfhhs.org.uk or through GENfair or Parish Chest


Yoxall of Brierfield, Burnley & Nelson: A family of substance

by James Wignall
CD018 £9.50 (plus P & P)

It is said that 'Anyone considering writing a book on their family tree should consider buying this book, if only as an example of how to record their family tree on a shoestring'. At more than 170 pages, the book is packed with details of Parish Registers, BMDs, Wills, Directories, census from 1841-1911, newspaper reports and a considerable number of both colour and black and white photographs. Descendants of Peter and Martha Yoxall who married on 31st December 1834 in Middlewich, Cheshire are featured in the book, including Johnny Yoxall of Nelson whose Meccano Model Looms were watched at a London Exhibition by King Edward V111 before he abdicated and Harry Yoxall a superior Burnley grocer whose shop was referred to as the Harrod's of the North! The excellent photographs of the interior of Harry's shop and the memories of Dorothy Yoxall, Harry's granddaughter evoke memories of a time when grocery shopping was  very different to the rushed dash around the supermarket today!

Great Marsden (Nelson), St. John the Evangelist: Memorial Inscriptions & Grave Books

CD019 £9.50 (plus P&P)

the CD contains the following information:

  • Memorial Inscriptions - surveyed in the mid 1990's
  • Grave Books - 1870-1990's
  • Receipt Books - 1870 - 1962 (1914-1937 are missing)
  • Plot Boards - showing the grave number and the purchaser.

The information may show:

  • The type of grave
  • The nake of the person who purchased the grave
  • The people in the grave with Name, Address, Date of Burial & Age  at death
    Memorial Inscriptions (if any)
  • Stonemason's name (if any)

Whilst there are no images included, there are few photographs showing the churchyard and a brief history of the church which are an added bonus for those unable to visit in person. For those planning a visit the plan of the graveyard is a useful addition.


1851 Map of Lancashire (CD016)

CD £5.00 (plus p&p) Paper A1 size £7.50 (plus p&p)

For those with an interest in Lancashire this map will be an invaluable aid to research. Researching in Lancashire can be complicated due to the number of different administrative boundaries. This 1851 Map of Lancashire helps over come these problems. The map was produced by Andrew Todd in 1983, a second edition with small amendments was produced in 1991. The society is now able to reissue it in this format. The map shows:

  • Registration Districts of Births, Marriages & deaths
  • Registration Sub-Districts
  • Parishes
  • Townships
  • Churches: all Anglican churches in existence in 1851 with their dedications and dates of their earliest registers.


Layton Cemetery, Blackpool: Monumental Inscriptions (CD015)

CD £9.50 (plus p&p)

This CD contains the monumental inscriptions from when the cemetery opened in 1873. It is stressed that this is a record of MI’s and not internments in the cemetery. There is a Name Index and two plans, one that shows the locations of the graves by plot numbers and the other which shows the location of the graves by the MI reference numbers. This is particularly useful for those wishing to visit the cemetery. Having found 5 entries of interest to me personally, I hope to make use of the plans one day!
There are many prominent people buried in this cemetery and brief biographical information on some is included, along with a photograph of their memorial. As we approach the London 2012 Olympics, I was interested to note that Alfred Ernest Tysoe (1874-1901) a British athlete who won two gold medals at the 1900 Olympic Games and only the second Britain to win a gold medal in athletics is recorded here.


A Lad From Accrington: Flight Sergeant Thomas Starkie (1918-1944) by John Porter (CD017)

CD £4.50 (plus p&p)

This is the story of an Accrington lad from the generation after the Accrington Pals, but from the same mould and fashioned in the same school of hard knocks. It has been painstakingly researched by John Porter who used a wide range of sources, including Ministry of Defence records and contacting contemporaries of Thomas. He died in 1944 aged 26 on a bombing raid over Germany. He was in 97 squadron and flew 19 missions. During WW2 Accrington lost 175 servicemen, 49 of which were RAF personnel. The author is the nephew of Thomas Starkie.

Reviewed by Philippa McCray – Administrator FFHS

27 May 2011



The FFHS takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any statements, information, opinions, recommendations and views contained in these reviews by any reviewer or any third party.

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