YORKSHIRE: Yorkshire Genealogy Genuki general


Genuki general

At the higher levels, the Genuki pages are intended to supply the Family Historian and the Genealogist (yes, they are different!) with general information about such things as how to get started, researching from abroad etc. (see diagram for the hierarchy). Within these higher level pages you will find all the non-county specific information, such as Heraldry, Royalty, Census years, old/new style dates etc.

All the Genuki pages, no matter whether they are at the higher levels or the county and parish levels should have the same "look and feel" about them - in fact very similar to this one.

Each country has a separate page (all at the same "level"), and each county has a separate page (at the level below the countries). In all of the counties the next level down in the hierarchy is the parishes (with the exception of Yorkshire, which is further sub-divided into Ridings and the Ainsty).

How the Genuki Yorkshire were developed,
and what you will find within them.

The Genuki Yorkshire pages are intended to supply the Family Historian and the Genealogist with general information about all the parishes in the county.

It is probably best if I describe how the Genuki Yorkshire pages were developed as this will make it easier to understand what information there is within the pages and also why it is how it is.

In the design stage of this site (1995), I decided that the easiest way to present the information was to follow the structure of the county and parishes before 1834. My reason for choosing this date is that in 1834 the "civil" parishes came into being, and shortly afterwards a lot of the West Riding parishes were sub-divided due to the large influx of people during the Industrial Revolution into that area. It is interesting to note that the borders of the parishes were very stable for a good 300 years before 1834, in that no new parishes came into being (despite what the National Index of Parish Registers might have you believe).

When I am dealing with the Genuki Yorkshire pages my mind of course isn't really in the present day, and so you will have to excuse me if I use "is" when I should be using "was" e.g. Sheffield is in the West Riding instead of Sheffield was in the West Riding (it's now in the "plastic" county of South Yorkshire (post 1974) - you will find no mention of this on the Genuki pages).

As the county was subdivided into 3 Ridings and the Ainsty wapentake with the City of York (pre 1974), the Genuki Yorkshire pages follow this, having a list of parishes for each of the four. This makes the Genuki Yorkshire pages unique in having a further level between the County pages and the parish pages, but then it's a unique county isn't it? The hierarchy is easier to see diagrammatically.

So, I'd created a county page, and 4 pages for the 3 Ridings and the Ainsty at the next level down. I now needed a list of the parishes that existed before 1834, and some information to place on each of the pages. As it just so happened (yes, really, it did!), my mother had come across a copy of (and bought) Langdale's Topographical Dictionary from 1822 - just the right period. As this contained a list of most of the places in Yorkshire (down to single houses in some cases). I decided that this would be an ideal starting point and started to transcribe it. Despite my being a "touch" typist, it got to be very hard going to say the least, and so I decided to scan the book and then OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Both scanners and OCR programs were in their infancy at the time, and the checking and correction took some considerable time, but I was ably assisted by my wife Pauline, Beryl Thompson in Australia and Ron Long in the USA and we eventually came to the end, having the whole book in electronic form. This transcription was placed on the web as it was (see Langdale's Yorkshire Dictionary) while I decided how to use the information within it for the Genuki Yorkshire pages.

The problem was that the information in the book, whilst divided into the Ridings, is strictly alphabetical as opposed to being gathered under parishes. Each entry however gives the parish in which the place is (or defines it as a parish) and further examination of the entries showed that the "syntax" was reasonably consistent, and probably consistent enough for some software to be able to extract the parishes and the places within them and put them all back together in parish order. As writing software is part of my job (I'm an electronic design Engineer), I wrote some software to attempt to do this and eventually managed to write a program which did two "passes" on the files, the first to generate directories for each of the parishes and generate a parish page, the second to ignore the parishes and extract all the other places and add them to the parish pages generated on the previous "pass". I won't go into the details, but there were problems doing this as you can well imagine - not helped by such things as Knaresborough parish being spelt as shown (correctly), and places in it being given as "in the parish of Knaresbrough (missing "o") etc.

What I hadn't realised until then was that there are several instances of parishes with the same names within the same Ridings (such as Seamer in the North Riding). The result of this of course was that I had data for two parishes all mixed together. This was resolved by changing the name of one of the parishes. Fortunately in each case the parishes were already known by different names (someone must have been here before me!), and for instance, one of the Seamers was renamed to Seamer in Cleveland.

The resulting parish pages were uploaded to the Genuki Yorkshire site (at that time being held on my own Demon Internet site), and the Genuki Yorkshire pages sprang to life!

About 6 months after this, a friend of mine came up with a copy of Baines' Gazetteer and Directory for North and East Yorkshire (1823). This not only contains the Gazetteer, but of course contains lists of names too, so I scanned and OCRd this too, and with the help of my wife again, along with several other "Yorksgen" subscribers, managed to generate a couple of text files, one for each Riding. A re-write of the software successfully managed to add this information to the already existing parish pages (with one or two hiccups!), and these were uploaded to my Demon Genuki site, expanding the information on the site quite considerably. I was very relieved to find that the parishes agreed with Langdales! Some time later it was pointed out to me that there was considerable repetition between Baines' and Langdale's (probably because they were published within a year of each other?). I therefore went through all of the parishes and edited the two lots of gazetteer data together, and breathed a sigh of relief when the job was completed after 2 months.

A while later I obtained a copy of Bulmers 1892 East Yorkshire, and also a copy of Bulmers 1890 North Yorkshire. Through the scan and OCR process again - checking and correction done by several very hard working volunteers from around the world. Believe me, it is very boring work checking a document that is 99.9% correct and has been through a spelling checker! (If you should happen to spot any errors within the pages, please drop me a line and I'll fix them). I should add that spelling checkers are absolutely useless at checking the spelling of lists of surnames! The two Bulmers books are arranged in parish order and so another piece of software was required to deal with this problem, also, some extra parishes had come into being and these needed to be catered for with the links back to the original parishes along with an explanation as to what had gone on (for example of this, see Howden parish in the East Riding).

If you've been following this so far, you will have noticed that the North and East Ridings (and in fact the Ainsty as well), now had the data from 3 books for each of the parishes, while the West Riding has one. In order to fix this, I went looking for and found a copy of Baines West Riding Directory and Gazetteer, along with a copy of the East and North that had been loaned to me. This went through the scan/OCR/correction as the others had done (with more volunteers) and I then realised that I would need to edit together the Baines and Langdale's gazetteer data. 8 years later, this still has not been done, and the Baines' West Riding gazetteer data still does not appear on the Genuki Yorkshire pages as I can't face the prospect (any volunteers?). However the Baines' directory data does appear with a few small exceptions which fall into the "diminishing returns" bracket in the writing of the formatting software for the pages. These are noted as "xxxx omitted, xx lines" in the relevant directory data and I still have yet to go back and fix this problem in the software, it needs to be able to recognise the particular format of that trade/profession (one day......).

At this point I had quite a nice set of pages for Yorkshire, but only 50Kbytes of my own webspace left. I therefore obtained some webspace from Geocities (before the days of the advertising banner windows) and off-loaded the East Riding pages to there. At this point I found out how good an idea it had been to use software to generate the pages from a text file with a template for the heading and footers, as I simply had to change the links in the template and re-run the software (about 5 minutes total time) in order to generate the pages so that they could live on the Geocities site. The alternative would have been to hand edit about 200 parish pages plus the directory pages that went with them (probably 450 pages in all).

A look round the pages generated showed that some were huge (for instance Halifax) and others very small. Whilst there was not a lot I could do about the small ones, I could split the huge ones into more reasonable sized pages. Another re-write of the software managed to produce more sensible main parish pages, the relevant ones being divided into History ("there is more information for ......"), and Supplementary i.e the data for the various places within the parishes. The latter results in a list (only) of the places within the parish on the main parish page, with a link to the data for these places added above the list. This was achieved by using simple tags in the text files and re-writing the software in such a way as recognise the tags and then to generate the place lists and the new pages etc.

Of course, it's all very well having a set of pages for Yorkshire, but the idea of the World Wide Web is that you should be able to point people at other relevant information too - not necessarily on the same site or within your control. In order to do this, I wrote another piece of software that updated (added to) the pages previously generated. To do this it used a set of script files telling it what to add where in which page. The idea of doing it this way was to make it simple to add information and links without having to use an html editor, or edit the page with a text editor, I simply had to edit a text file with an editor and then run the software. In addition to this I had started taking photographs (mainly of churches) when we visited parents/parents in law in Yorkshire (I'm from Grinton in Swaledale, and my wife is from Bempton near Bridlington). These photos along with the "frame" around them containing copyright information and conditions of use needed to be generated and linked into the relevant parish pages - more software.....

Other people started sending me church photographs for use on the Genuki pages (rather a lot to name so I won't even start to name them as I may miss someone out, but they are all acknowledged on the relevant "frames" around their photos - thanks folks) - another re-write of the software to make it more flexible so as to cater for other people as well as myself, and also to allow linking to their own pages (if any).

With in addition of photographs and more transcriptions, I ran out of web space yet again, but fortunately the Manchester University guys managed to get permission to host a lot more Genuki data on their server. You will appreciate that this means a lot to Genuki, as the number of hits per day on the whole of the Genuki site(s) is immense, there being over 650 per day on the Genuki Yorkshire home page alone. I transferred very nearly the whole of the Genuki pages that I hosted on Demon and Geocities to the Manchester server, this again being done very simply by changing the links in the templates and then re-running the software. Of course it took a little time to upload all the pages!

Around the middle of 1998, I was made redundant/given early retirement (depending on your point of view) from Texas Instruments for whom I had worked for 21 years. In the short(ish) period before getting another job (I design Teletext decoders, and there aren't a lot of companies looking for people like me!) I had a good think about what I was trying to do with the software and re-wrote most of it to make it do more things better, and as a result removed some of the problems I had been having with the syntax in transcriptions that had started to be supplied by other people (if you belong to any of the Yorkshire genealogical mailing lists, you will know who these people are). This re-write made it possible for me to add a transcription to the Yorkshire pages within about 5 minutes of receiving it with relatively little hand editing and using the software to tell me where the problems were.

One of the things that came out of the re-write of the software was the addition of the "Where is it in Yorkshire" pages. At the time about one in five of the messages on the mailing lists were "Where is .....". As it was a relatively simple matter to extract all the place names and the parishes they were in, I wrote this into the software and the resulting pages are heavily used. Of course doing this by software tends to make the number of errors either very high (i.e. all of the links) or very low (the odd one being where I have screwed up the software).

I decided to go self-employed and then found a contract job (doing exactly what I had been doing for T.I.) in the south of France (between Nice and Cannes), but working from here in the UK. I do have to go over there quite frequently, but I'm not complaining too much about that! The job involved development of the devices that I had designed for TI, so I "fell on my feet" as they say. This of course had a severe effect on the amount of time I could spend on the Genuki stuff, and I fell behind in some areas and kept up in others.

At some point during this period I asked for volunteers to generate Grid References for all the places in Yorkshire as this would enable me to give people links to the "nearby" places. Unfortunately, partly due to me and partly due to some volunteers not producing anything, this has yet to be completed, but it will be.

Not a lot changed on the Yorkshire pages until earlier this year, although a lot of other people's data was added and the site kept on expanding with more photographs and directory transcriptions. It became apparent that I wasn't keeping up with the expansion of the WWW, and couldn't keep up with other people's pages that contained data relevant to Family History/Genealogists and I therefore asked for someone to take over part of the Genuki Yorkshire pages. I have at least one volunteer, and it was only when I came to write the instructions for driving my software that I realised how complex it was to drive. I have now spent some considerable time resolving this problem and hopefully more data will be added more rapidly in the "devolved" parts of the site than I could possibly manage alone.

So, a summary:
What's not on the Genuki Yorkshire site?
First and foremost, information which is applicable to other counties as well as Yorkshire. You will find this higher up the hierarchy (see the diagram!). If it's applicable only to England, then it will be on the England pages, if applicable to the rest of the British Isles then it will be on the UK and Ireland page.
Second, you will find very little information such as Parish registers, within the pages, the reason for this being either it hasn't been transcribed, or if it has been transcribed then the Family History Societies have it and are not permitting it to be placed on the WWW (it tends to kill their sales of fiche etc). This does not of course prevent someone else from transcribing the data from the original registers and allowing me to use it (any volunteers?)

What is on the Genuki Yorkshire site?
Well, there must be something out there, as it currently has well over 40,000 pages, so as a county Yorkshire is well served, as this is well over a quarter of the total pages for all the Genuki counties in England (no wonder I ran out of web space!).

There are of course the Baines', Bulmer's and Langdale's transcriptions, along with others that are partially completed such as Pigots 1834 and 4 different years of White's (those of you who are subscribers to the Yorkshire mailing lists will know who is transcribing what). There are heaps of photos of churches (well over 3,000), a lot of war memorial transcriptions, a few census transcriptions and a few oddments such as potted histories. You may be lucky and find that the parish you have an interest in is very well provided for (such as Calverley (WRY) or Rosedale (see Lastingham, NRY)). I pick on these two simply because the information there is all from one person for each of the places, and the latter is how I should like to see all of the parishes as it contains just about everything you could wish for for that place on the web.

A request
It has been quite noticeable that it is always the same people who put their hands up when I ask for volunteers to do something (with only a few exceptions), so:

If you have a book that is out of copyright and it would be of interest to others, particularly if it has lists of names in it, would you consider transcribing it for use on the Genuki site? You don't have to do it all at once, after all a page a day for a year would transcribe over 300 pages. If you decide to do this, please drop me a line before you start so that we can come to some agreement on the format (e.g. spreadsheet, word processor, text editor).

Do you live in Yorkshire? If yes:

1. Have the Monumental Inscriptions been done for your local churchyard? If yes, can you get permission for me to use them on the Genuki site? If no, how about doing them and if you have a digital camera, a photo of each would be wonderful.
2. Are there any war memorials near you? Can you take a photo of it/them and transcribe the names? Are there any "Rolls of Honour" in the local church? Can you take a photo and transcribe them?
3. Do you have access to anything that would be of general interest on the Genuki site? If so, please drop me a line.

Copyright and conditions of use:
As you wander round the Genuki Yorkshire site you will find that is says Copyright Colin Hinson on nearly every page, and there is also a link to the conditions of use. When the data on a page has been transcribed by someone other than me, there will also be another copyright notice. To save me trying to explain here why there are conditions of use on all the pages, please see the Conditions of use page which explains the problems I have had with people trying to make money out of my and other peoples' efforts. The reason for there being two copyright notices on one page is that the original copyright of the transcription belongs to the transcriber, and I hold that electronic document with their permission in my data base. The second copyright is mine for the database material and software and the formatting of the page in web html format. It is not my intention by placing the second copyright notice at the bottom of the page to over-ride any claims the original transcriber may have on their files, and I will remove said files if requested to by the transcriber. Please note that none of these copyright notices are attempting to place a copyright on the original book/document from which the transcription was done, as once an item is out of copyright, it stays that way. There is of course nothing to stop someone else doing a transcription and placing their copyright on that (though they would have to be desperate!).

More requests:

Did I explain all the above in such a way that you can now find your way around the Genuki sites? If not, what could I have done better?
Please let me know what the problem is and I'll try to fix it.
If you find errors, then use the link at the bottom of the relevant page.

And finally
All the work I do for Genuki is entirely voluntary, so please, if you send me a message that requires me to do something, don't panic if it doesn't get done straight away as business takes precedence. Your message will stay in my in-tray until I have dealt with it.

My apologies for making you have to use forms to contact me from the Genuki pages, but I received so much junk mail from the mail addresses that I had on the web that I removed them all and substituted forms.

As I am self employed and have to make a living, one of my sidelines is selling searchable CD roms of scans of Old and Rare Yorkshire books, this includes all the above mentioned books plus around 70 others. Links to my site can also be found under "Bibliography" on the main Genuki Yorkshire page.

Written by Colin Hinson © 2001