Category Archives: Book Reviews

Our Quaker Ancestors, Second Edition, Edited by Jana Sloan Broglin: Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

Today’s book has quite a long title to reflect the original authors and the editor who updated the original 1987 publication:

Our Quaker Ancestors
Second Edition Edited by Jana Sloan Broglin
Finding Them in Quaker Records
Ellen Thomas Berry & David Allen Berry

The Second Edition, published in May 2022, is an update of the original Berry & Berry work published in pre-internet days and reflects the many changes in accessibility and new resources which have been located.

Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Introduction
Background and History of The Religious Society of Friends
Organization of The Religious Society of Friends
Patterns of Migration and Expansion
Contents of Monthly Meeting Records
Locating and Searching Months meeting Records
Quaker Records and Some Possible Problems
Quaker Repositories for Records
Historical Societies and Libraries with Quaker Material
Quaker Records Outside the United States
Other Non-Quaker soruces for Records
Websites for Quaker Records
Pleasures and Frustrations

Appendices:

A. Important dates in the Quaker movement, with years of establishment of yearly meetings
b. Table of Contents from Volume II of Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia
C. Records from a Hicksite Meeting, from Volume II of Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia
D. Records from an Orthodox Meeintg, from Volume II of Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia
E. Abbreviations used in Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia
F. Maps of Meeting Locations:

1. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
2. Philadelphia Quarterly Meetings
3. Concord Quarterly Meetings

G. Present-day yearly Meetings
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Bibliography for Websites

Our Quaker Ancestors, from cover to cover is a slim 152 pages, but each page is packed with information.

Although I have no Quakers in my family tree, my husband is descended from Richard Beeson of North Carolina, so I have tiptoed into Quaker records.

Yes, some of Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia is available on Ancestry, but if that is as far as a researcher looks, a tremendous volume of records will be overlooked.

Understanding the history and social context of a group, whether it be a family or religious entity, is important to locating records and correctly interpreting information found in them.

Notice in the Contents list, above, that the organization and historical background are explained. Having been founded in England, the Society of Friends found itself unwelcome there and in many of the American colonies.

Many Quakers were drawn to Pennsylvania because of William Penn himself, but slowly migrated to other areas of what became the United States.

Therefore, records can be found in many locations. The types of records created by the Society and what is to be found in the contents of those records is discussed in depth. Quaker records are rich in details about the daily lives of their members.

The latter portion of the book covers repositories in and outside of the United States (Canada, U.K. and Ireland) where Quaker collections are housed and has a four page section on websites with Quaker records.

I’ve not seen the first edition of Our Quaker Ancestors and don’t doubt that Ellen and David Berry did a great job writing the original volume, but I can say for certain that the Second Edition is a true gem for those researching Quaker families.

It’s well-organized, easy to skim for information and quite complete, based on my own (limited) research in Quaker records.

My only criticism of this book is with the Westward Migration Routes map on page 5 and the “Family Tree” of American Yearly Meetings on page 6.

The print is beyond miniscule and almost unreadable. With a magnifying glass, I could read the place names on the map, but only because the states were marked so I had a clue about the city names.

The “Family Tree” illustration takes a lot of focus to figure out the words and, again, even with the magnifying glass, there are parts I can’t read. (I have 20/20 near vision!)

In spite of those two pages, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Quaker research and records. It’s very well done.

Our Quaker Ancestors, Second Edition, edited by Jana Sloan Broglin, published in May 2022, can be ordered online at Genealogical.com for $28.50.

 

 

600+ Wills & Administrations of Belize 1750-1800s by Sonia Bennett Murray: Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many new resources for genealogical research keep appearing.

Belize is a country in Central America, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the west and south by Guatemala and by the Caribbean Sea on the east.

It’s a beautiful country – I visited several years ago while on a cruise.

Although it has been inhabited for centuries, the country was previously part of the British Empire, with the first British arrivals about 1716, but Belize became fully independent on 21 September 1981.

However, its long history, like that of other Caribbean nations, includes partaking in the slave trade.

Sonia Bennett Murray, while acknowledging the contributions of many fellow researchers, has published 600+ Wills & Administrations of Belize 1750-1800s: Compiled from Belize National Archives, Registry Private Records, Magistrate’s Minutes, Emancipations, The End of Slavery, Baptisms 1868-1880, Family Records, which has been a book many years in the making.

Murray also mentions in the Acknowledgements that this book is a complement to the First, Second, and Third Parish Registers of Belize (2010+) and the history, They Came to Belize 1750-1810 (2017), all of which were compiled by Murray herself.

Contents

Wills of the Mosquito Shore and Belize, proved in the P.C.C.: p. 1

Original Wills at he Belize National Archives, p. 71Wills and Estates at the Registry and at the Archives: p. 112

The Private Records of Belize: Wills, Estates, Deeds, Manumissions: p. 207

Magistrates Minutes: Court records, Estates Manumissions and more: p. 384

Ending the Slave Trade, p. 430 William Usher’s Memorial, p. 431, Freedom for Enslaves Amerindians, p. 434, A Fatal Scam, p. 455

The Press attacks Slaver, p. 461, A government Inquiry, p. 462: Manumissions and Sales for Debt, p. 463, Support for the Poor, p. 474, George Hyde Demands Equality, p. 476, Seduction and Death, the story of Maria Middleton, p. 484, Shipping Lists, p. 485

The End of Slavery: The Abolition Act of 1833 and the Records Created, p. 490, Slave registers, Sales 1823-30, Index to the 1834 Registry of Slaves, p. 491, Returns of slaves, p. 494, Belize Slave Compensation Claims and Awards, p. 512, Government Expenses and Pensions disbursed in 1836, p. 525, Cholera in Belize, p. 527, Reports of the Apprentices, p. 527

Belizeans in British Censuses, p. 531, The Honduras Land titles Act, p. 547

The lost 1861 census, p. 548

Baptisms at St. John’s, 1868-80, p. 549

Notes on Early Families, p. 601

Index to Registry Willis 1760-1900, p. 634

Index to this book: p. 648

One comment about the Contents – The font is quite small and capitalization and punctuation isn’t consistent throughout the page. My old eyes had to really read carefully to type out this list.

Aside from that small criticism, this 647-page book is packed with details about hundreds of residents of Belize. I have to admit that I read many portions of this book – the details were fascinating – but I did not read every single page.

While there are some mentions of men from North America (e.g. “Portland in the County of Cumberland’ (which I take to be Maine, but it was not stated), most of the men mentioned who had second homes elsewhere lived in England or Scotland.

However, historically, Belizeans who emigrated elsewhere mostly settled in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Based on this author’s library of published works, Murray has made a major contribution to the genealogy world by making so many Belizean records easily accessible for research.

This book should be on the home reference shelf of anyone with ties to Belize.

600+ Wills & Administrations of Belize 1750-1800s by Sonia Bennett Murray, newly published in 2022 by Clearfield Company, Baltimore, Maryland can be ordered online from Genealogical Publishing Company for $70.00.

That is a lot of money, but if your family tree has historical roots in Belize, this book is worth every penny!

 

 

New-England Runaways, 1774-1777 by Joseph Lee Boyle: Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

In November 2021, I reviewed Joseph Lee Boyle’s book, New-England Runaways, 1769-1773., which was newly published.

Boyle’s newest book in the series is now hot off the press.

New-England Runaways, 1774-1777 is particularly interesting because not only does it contain entries full of juicy, hard-to-find details about ancestors who lived in the 18th century, it also covers runaways who took to foot during the first half of the American Revolution.

No Table of Contents is needed, as entries are listed in alphabetical order by surname. The Introduction, however, makes for as interesting a read as the book itself as Mr. Boyle shares examples of the types of records found, mostly in local newspapers.

There are errant husbands – and wives, runaway servants, military deserters and even ads seeking the return of stolen items with the majority of ads placed in newspapers in New England and New York.

Abridged Examples:

Anderson, Ashebell – with the sloop Jolly and much cargo, sailed from Middletwon, Connecticut on 4 December 1774 with orders to proceed directly to Rhode Island. However, information has him placed in North Carolina. He is a repeat offender, having stolen the same sloop and cargo four years previously. Full entry describes Mr. Anderson in detail along with cargo, the ship, and various merchants involved with the shipment.

Smith, Thomas and William Benson, a Negro man escaped from jail in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 17 November 1775. Smith is a well known thief who ‘hath been in almost all the Goals on the Continent.’ Full description of both men is given with $2.00 reward offered for their capture.

Goodrich, Solomon, accused by his wife Esther of having ‘cruelly pulled my hair, pinch’d my flesh, kick’d me out of the bed, dragged me out by my arms and my heels, dragged me across the room and flung ashes upon me to smother me – and more! For these reasons, she has left his bed and board, 22 October 1776.

Greenhill, Joseph – was charged with breaking into the house of Captain Samuel Leffingwell of Norwich, Connecticut and stole a ‘quantity of plate,’ which was then melted into bars. He was a repeat offender, having the mark of amputation on both ears. Under the alias of John Brown, he was tried and sentenced to be hanged in Litchfield, but broke out of jail and escaped.

Silk, Thomas alias Old Ginger, a villain, Thomas Dix, a British soldier, John Cunningham, another British soldier and a number of German prisoners (Hessians?) have escaped or deserted in Boston, 28 November 1777.

I really, really wish I could find an ancestor or two in this book. Although I see some familiar surnames like Coffin and Buckman, I didn’t even find anyone closely related to an ancestor.

In spite of that, this book is a fun, interesting volume that most definitely paints a picture of daily life in the late 1700s. For those who might think life was simpler back then, it appears there was still enough crime to be found and unhappy servants, slaves, wives and soldiers were unhappy with their lives and chose to take off. Life was not so simple back in the ‘good old days.’

New-England Runaways, 1774-1777, compiled by Joseph Lee Boyle (as well as numerous other books in Mr. Boyle’s series on colonial runaways – prices vary) can be purchased for $45.00 online from Genealogical Publishing Company.