The world of family, local and social history has changed immeasurably over the last decade. As a young amateur family historian, I remember searching those enormous bound volumes of General Register Office (GRO) birth, marriage and death (BMD) indexes at the Family Records Centre in London and there was no way of searching these indexes online. Now, we have FreeBMD which, although not complete, offers (strangely enough) free access to the GRO BMD indexes transcribed by volunteers. FindmyPast and Ancestry also provide subscribers with fully searchable indexes from September quarter 1837 until 2006.
These commercial sites have also digitised some ‘weird and wonderful’ documents, indexing them and making them available to users across the globe (depending on your subscription level, of course). Today, we bring to your attention the Thames watermen and lightermen database, available on FindmyPast.
An Act of Parliament established the Company of Watermen and Lightermen in 1555, which controlled the watermen on the River Thames. These individuals were responsible for the movement of goods and passengers. It is the only ancient City Guild that an Act of Parliament has formed and controlled.
FindmyPast states that: ‘Watermen were highly skilled boatmen who carried passengers up and down and across the Thames in row boats, steam boats, sailing boats and vessels. Lightermen worked on cargo boats rather than passenger vessels and were originally members of the Woodmongers Company. In 1700, they successfully petitioned Parliament to join the watermen.’
There are 99,140 occupational records of Thames watermen and lightermen for the period 1688-2010, including binding records and reassignments of The Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames , Thomas Doggett Coat and Badge records and the register of licences granted by the Corporation of Trinity House.
Searching the entire database of Thames watermen and lightermen returns 87 hits for Fielder:
Might need a little more investigating this database! Just one more source for London tomorrow….