I was wrong, wrong, utterly wrong.

Last week’s whinge about the National Archives Will Registers sub-site was just plain wrong. Everything that should be on the site is there, including the infamous Principal Registry Wills, 1891, G-M.

Egg on face

Stage 6 of New Source Syndrome is grovelling, shame-faced apology. Sorry.

The story of how I came to be so wrong and how I was corrected is instructive, though. I looked at the short blurb on the site, saw no mention of the surviving Principal Registry books, and spent a fruitless hour trying to find them. Scanning manually up and down the microfilm images for the title pages was equally frustrating. So I leapt to my conclusion.

Two morals: don’t be so quick to leap to conclusions, Boyo. And the search interface of the Archives site is pretty crude. No blame there: I know what the budget for the site was, precisely one brass farthing. And the deadline was the day before yesterday. The wonder is that they managed to get the material online at all.

It was the spelling mistake that threw me. Honest.

I found out about my mistake from Brian Donovan, head of Business Development at FindMyPast.ie. He emailed me to point out that FMP had actually done all the digitisation for the National Archives, and supplied a link to Principal Registry Wills, 1891, G-M, free on their site.

Brian also pointed out that my exclusive focus on the National Archives’ own site was misplaced – all of the material released in the Great September Infodump and now at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie is also on FMP, completely free to search but with the benefit of their surname variant system and much more fine-grained search options. And Previous/Next buttons with all their images.

He is absolutely right. The interface at FMP is orders of magnitude superior to the Archives’ own, simply because FMP had time and budget. Any research I do in the future on these records will be via FMP.

An interesting sidelight is the question of why the versions of the records at FindMyPast haven’t got the attention they deserve. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy (though just because they’re paranoid doesn’t mean  … )

Don’t count the teeth.

FMP is a subscription site, and the working presumption – don’t be so quick with the presumptions either, Boyo  – is that their records are behind a pay-wall. The free access they provide to the NAI records is just not promoted strongly enough, at least for me. – if you look at their list of record sources, there is no indication of which sources are free and which paying. And loads of them are free.


So I’m off to comb through them one by one. No gift-horse dentistry this time.

15 thoughts on “I was wrong, wrong, utterly wrong.”

  1. I am unable to afford their subscription at this time, but signed up with them to be able to see limited records. When I did that I got on a list called Find Me Fridays…even without a paid subscription they share a wealth of information and these free offerings really give an idea of everything they have available! Don’t worry about your mistake, we’ve all made them!

    1. I, for one, appreciate your apology. It makes us amateurs feel good that the pros can become a little over zealous at times too. Love your blog and all the guidance you offer.

  2. I’ve been telling people about the free records on Findmypast and being met by silence – I began to think nobody believed me! Hopefully now they will!

    1. Nicola,

      Are you the woman who has posted photos of members of the Head family of Derrylahan Park on your blog? I’m descended from Charles O. Head and would be most grateful if you would contact me.

      Sara (Head) Day

  3. Wouldn’t it be a lovely world if this were the worse issue we faced. It barely rises to the level of faux pas, John. Perhaps a restorative walk
    on the bluffs would ease your upset.
    Take care and thank you for all of your invaluable help and encouragement.

  4. I love this message and the photo! Absolutely hilarious. I for one don’t give a jot that a mistake was made — I just love receiving all the very helpful information I receive in a humorous and understandable format.

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