Family historyFree resources

Free Stuff from the National Archives

The National Archives have quietly doubled the number of downloads you can make for free from their website.  You can now download up to 100 items, including wills, these include:

  • First and Second World War records, including medal index cards
  • Military records, including unit war diaries
  • Royal and Merchant Navy records, including Royal Marine service records
  • Wills from the jurisdiction of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
  • Migration records, including aliens’ registration cards and naturalisation case papers
  • 20th century Cabinet Papers and Security Service files
  • Domesday Book

Even if your current research doesn’t require these things, you might want to have a quick look to see if there is anything in the list which would be useful.  These things would normally cost £3.50 each, and so the saving on 100 items per month is considerable.

I was looking at wills yesterday and found a rather sad one from nathaniel Simkins.  He said in the body of his will that his health was deteriorating due to “gravel of stones”.  Having suffered a kidney stone myself (and gout!) I know how painful it can be.  At the end of his will, he asked for the following to be put on his gravestone:

Afflictions sore long have I borne,

Physicians were in vain,

Till God was pleased to take me home,

And free me from my pain.

The will was dated 17 May 1757 and the probate was dated 23 August, 1760, so I rather fear that he had three more years to endure before he finally got his release. Poor Nathaniel.  He left his estate to family members and provided quite a nice family tree for himself, mentioning his father, both his brothers, and some nephews. I don’t expect anyone else remembers him, but my heart went out to him.  I hope he is happy and pain free now, wherever he may be.

The photograph of the National Archives is from Wikimedia Commons and Geograph by Chris Reynolds / The National Archives at Kew / CC BY-SA 2.0

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