Crea and Co Genealogy

Where the past comes to life!

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Secrets of the infamous Bedlam mental hospital revealed at Findmypast

·         Findmypast is working with Bethlem Museum of the Mind at Bethlem Royal Hospital, popularly known as Bedlam, to make its extensive patient records from 1683 – 1932 available online for the very first time
·         Over 248,000 records, many including photos, reveal the lives and stories of its inmates
·         Highlights of the detailed records show why people were committed included stabbing people with cutlery, insatiable appetite for pleasure, condemnation of sinful behaviour from public officials, objecting to a forced marriage, religious fervour, paralysis, women dressing as men and more

London, UK, 19 March 2015 – Leading family history website, Findmypast, today announced an exciting partnership with Bethlem Museum of the Mind to release Bethlem Royal Hospital’s extensive patient records online for the very first time. The records are being released today to mark the official reopening of the museum in Beckenham, with Findmypast making scans of the original patient case notes and staff registers available online for browsing and searching by everyone.

As one of the world’s oldest hospitals for the treatment of mental illness, Bethlem Royal Hospital has a chequered past in how it determined not only who was insane, but also in its treatment of patients. The records released today go into detail about each patient, in many cases documenting their mental state and including photographs of the inmates once photography became available.

The records also detail the reasons why they had been deemed insane, with first-hand accounts of the behaviour of the inmates and their families. Some of the more unusual reasons for incarceration given in the records include:

·         Attempted royal assassination with a dessert knife: Margaret Nicolson was sent to Bethlem Royal Hospital in August 1787 for attempting to stab King George III with a pearl-handled dessert knife. Her records from Bethlem Royal Hospital show that she was sent to Bethlem Royal Hospital “by the Order of the Committee” i.e. by parliament vote, as opposed to by an individual or family, and a trial followed in September 1787. Nicholson spent the rest of her life in Bethlem Royal Hospital, dying there in May 1828
·         An insatiable appetite for pleasure, including lounging in the fashionable shopping streets of London: Ingrid Schwitzguebel was admitted in July 1909 by her husband. His reasons for committing her was that she was “living almost exclusively for pleasure, in fact her desire for theatres, musicals, lounging in the London fashionable streets, looking at shops etc, is insatiable.” However, other motives may have been at play as the records go on to show that she suspected her husband of an “immoral life of
·         Overtaxed brain due to writing a dictionary: At 66 years old, Alexander Tolhausen, was one of the older inmates at Bethlem Royal Hospital when he was committed in July 1886 for an overtaxed brain. Tolhausen’s illness was attributed to working on a technological dictionary in French, English and German with symptoms including “gets up and dresses and undresses himself sometimes six times a day”, “threw his breakfast at his wife” and “that his house was unhealthy”
·         Belief in themselves as a persecuted God: Ethel Julia Ouselay Collins was committed for “mixing of her ideas with religious matters,” including believing that she had “not been born yet” and was “a God chained on a pedestal.”  It was also documented that she had “delusions of suspicion and persecution.”

“These records provide an extraordinary level of detail about the patients of the Bethlem Royal Hospital as far back as the 17th century,” said Debra Chatfield, family historian at Findmypast.  “Containing letters written in their own words and handwriting, photographs at different stages of their illness, and reports on their day to day behaviour by close family members and the medical staff at the hospital, these records provide, for the very first time online, real insight into life in this infamous institution. It’s hard not to empathise with the inmates as you learn about their often harrowing and tragic stories. Publishing these records online allows those stories to be told for the first time to a wider audience, and you might discover that you had an ancestor who was sent to Bedlam.”

To discover more about the inmates at Bethlem Royal Hospital and see the full images and transcripts of the records, please visit

For more information and further case studies and records, please contact the Findmypast team at Hotwire PR on and 0207 608 2500.

However if you would like someone else do the hard work, give me a call or head to the Contact Us page and we’ll see if we can help you.

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Happy Birthday to Us

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A whole year has passed since I started this blog, and my hasn’t the world of genealogy changed!

Other sofa genealogists have been taking advantage of all the extra genealogy tools available on line, and the internet genealogy sites are booming.

But internet genealogy has it’s own unique downfalls.

When Ancestry suffered a DDoS attack, there were many disorientated armchair genealogist floating around the world wide web, pondering on the first world problem of not being able to find their ancestors, with many users bemoaning their ‘captivity’.

I on the other hand had to deal with a two year old who thought banging on my Mac Keyboard was a grand idea, and broke it in the process. Thank god i back up my hard drive or there would have been serious issues for the family histories I am writing up for clients!

Moral of the story is, technological advantages are great, but like paper records they need the right care and attention or they break. Be it through malicious DDoS attacks or over enthusiastic two year olds.

Thankfully, despite setbacks in the world of genealogy, Crea and Co Genealogy is still going strong, and it’s our first birthday!

So thanks for your support and keep looking for your ancestors, or if you need some help, Contact Us today!

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Happy 65th Birthday to the NHS

It is the 65th anniversary of the NHS on Friday the 12th of July and to mark the occasion here is a list of my Top 5 Medical History pages. Not as exciting as visiting a local history library but just as helpful! It is useful to remember that some hospitals are the sole repository for their own records and defunct medical establishments, so it is best to search for the hospital individually at first. For instance St Bartholomew Hospital in London has its own museum and contains a very large collection of medical records.

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1. Voluntary Hospital Database

If you are unsure what hospitals existed in the area, and are starting from complete scratch, this is a good place to start. It lists all the hospitals in an area, for example somerset in map format so you can focus your research.

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2. The National Archive

The National Archive website is my go to site when starting research into anything! This particular search will tell you were the archives for the institutions are located, invaluable to any budding family historian.

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This database allows you to search the names of patients in 120,000 admission records in London and Glasgow between 1852 and 1914. Lovely stuff.

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4. The Wellcome Library

The Wellcome library is a fascinating repository of all things medical. The collections include a variety of things from medical treatise to hospital accounts and ledgers. It can be hard to find records though, try under archives and manuscripts to begin with.

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5. The Long, Long Trail

This site has information on medical treatment received in the military, interesting stuff.

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There are of course many other sites out there, and none of them beat the thrill of heading down to a local archive for a good nose. However if you feel you need more help, please contact us and we will try to help with a free 30 minute consultation! Happy researching people.

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The Internet Genealogist – Find My Past Updates

Find my Past has been updating me on their new records, and the updates i have recieved have been dazzeling!

The lastest update in records for Find my Past is a biggy, with over 2.5 million Irish court records added to the site.

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Another update on Find My Past includes has increased the size of the UK’s largest parish records collection with two million new Hertfordshire parish baptisms, marriages and burials dating from 1538-1990.  Debra Chatfield, marketing manager at, commented on the new release: “This collection of records is a wonderful treasure trove for anybody interested in looking into their family’s past in Hertfordshire. Publishing the records online for the first time will make it so much easier for people to find out if they have ancestors from Hertfordshire, as you can now search them alongside millions of other parish records from across the whole country”.

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They have also updated the parish records for Lincolnshire the largest county from East England,  . Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for libraries and culture, said: “Lincolnshire has a rich cultural heritage, and the county council has long sought to celebrate and enhance this through digital access.  The partnership with is a very positive development that will help bring these records to a wider, global audience, and hopefully encourage people to explore more of the county’s vibrant history.”

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All the help on the internet is wonderful, however if you are still lost please contact me and i will try to help you with a free 30 minute telephone consultation.

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All Aboard; Finding Ancestors on Passengers Lists

The saying ‘isn’t the world a small place’ is certainly not true when trying to find ancestors who emigrated or worked oversea. Thankfully in this age of on-line media and digitisation, the task has been made a little easier. With the recent addition of UK Outward Passenger Lists on Ancestry UK, along with the UK Incoming Passengers Lists 1878-1960 and the Alien Arrivals list 1810-1811, 1826-1869 this arduous task has become easier. Here are my favourite sites to use, but there are non-digitised sources which can be used, for instance The National Archives  and the National Archives Australia.

1. Ancestry UK Immigration and Travel – Subscription

immigration and travel

2. Find My Past UK Travel and Migration Records – Subscription


3. The Ship List – Free

Ship List

4. Scottish Historical Records – Free


I hope this helps, but if you need professional assistant tracing your ancestor, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

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Fashionata : Dating Photographs Through Fashion

I wrote some time ago about how you could use photographs to help with your family history research. While I’m sure you enjoyed this, i though some hints and tips on websites which can help this process would be appreciated!! This is my Top Five sites which you can use to date your photographs through fashion, enjoy!

1. Fashion History 

A really useful gateway site for lots of links about fashion, all neatly placed in subject areas. The site can be a bit hit and miss as it was last updated in July 2010, but it does have lots of info!


2 . Wikepedia – History of Western Fashion

Another useful site, with lots of useful images in date order. However you must remember Wikipedia is updated by inviduals so may not be accurate. However it is a good starting point for your research!

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3. Fashion-Era

Don’t let the dated look of this site fool you, it’s packed fool of information for the budding genealogist! It even has a costume detective page which specifically shows you how to date photos through hairstyles, dress and more!

fashion era

4. V&A Dating Old Photographs

The Victoria and Albert museum is one of my favorite places to spend time, and with this site they have provided me with endless support when dating photographs. Have a look and i’m sure you will agree it is very well laid out with lots of useful tips.


5. Museum of Bath

Has lots of great content, i’m sure you will find it useful, the collection search is particularly helpful.

Bath fashion museum

there are of course many different sites and books which you can use, this is just a small fraction of what is avalible. I hope this has given you a taster of what is out there helps your genealogy quest, and if you need more help please contact me and I will see what I can do!

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Who’s the Black Sheep in your Family Tree….

If  you have ever wondered about whether any of your ancestors had any dark family secrets, or even just a morbid curiosity to have a look at our nations criminal past you are in luck. Thanks to the boom in armchair genealogy you can now search thousands of criminal records from the comfort of your own laptop, while having the obligatory cup of tea! If like me you love reading about the darker side of  history, the new collection of Criminal Records on Find my Past can reveal a wealth of information about the Criminal underbelly of the UK. The records currently span 1817-1931, but over the next few months new records will be added, eventually spanning 1770 – 1934.

Transcription page details from Find my Past

Transcription page details from Find my Past

Should you wish to see how it was reported to the press, Find my Past users can also check the British Newspaper Archive which has the largest collection of digitised newspaper on the web. I am a great fan of Oscar Wilde, ad couldn’t resist looking up his record. Have a look at the images to see what I found! If you need any help on finding out your family history, please contact me and I will try to help.


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