Coronavirus Impact Covid-19.

As we are now in lockdown all of our meetings will be online until further notice. I hope you are all keeping safe and well and will be able to join us online. Contact Gareth ( or to ) if you don't think you are on our meeting list of participants for online meetings if you are interested in joining in; since he is sending out the links prior to each meeting. There is nothing to download or install and we still meet on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. via Video conferencing.


Our Next Meeting Wednesday 17th March 2021 XML and Json.

XML is an Extensible Markup Language is a text based language which is defines rules for encoding documents in a format which is both machine and human readable. It defines how data is stored and organised rather than how it is displayed as in HTML . It was first defined in 1998 but is still used today.

JSON is purely for handling data across APIs and interfaces. It was created as a subset of JavaScript and to some extent took over what XML was used for. JSON is an object oriented approach. JSON is less verbose than XML.

However XML is used in the data layer and it is the perfect platform-agnostic choice for displaying and styling data.

Paul has covered XML before but I'm sure we could do with a refresher and I think Gareth might say something about JSON.

I must admit having looked at WikiPaedia on the subject I am more confused than ever!


Our Last Meeting Wednesday 17th February 2021 Family Tree Software

This proved to be a useful refresher on Family History. Gareth was not able to join us for this evening but Paul, Duncan and Peter gave the main contributions. Michael had not ventured into this area yet. We missed our friend John Rye who was very involved in Family History and was the world authority on the name "Rye" and variants.

Duncan had Ancestry logged into another screen and began by mentioning his ARMX6 running RISCOS and showed his earlier software and then called Family written by Dennis Howell, but it is no longer supported and still has all his data on it. Paul said that Andrew Rawnsley used VNC from whatever machine he was using for Zoom or whatever to move files onto the ARMX6 with Evince at the other end.

Peter said that researching family history was a lot of work in looking up censuses and other records and can be expensive (Duncan) and is not to be trivially undertaken. but can be veery rewarding.

Duncan screen-shared his Ancestry account which was a guest account from a family relation in USA. The home page at shows the possibility of a trial account with full access for 14 days, with information links to UK Census Records, Military Records, Births, Marriages and Deaths and Parish Records etc. There was also a demonstration to show how it is done and how to build a family tree. Duncan was then able to show progress on building his own family tree going back to the 1800's. There is a graphical display with each generation on the same horizontal line and with each person being represented by a small rectangle or card showing their names and dates of birth and death if known. Fine lines link each generation and also show marriages. Clicking on a record will bring up more information in a new screen and also what they define as "hints" which are things it finds which it thinks you might be interested in and which might have something to do with that entry. Each card item here has a "Review" or "Ignore" button but if you select "Review" it will demand that you must buy a full membership. (£119 p.a. Paul said). You can pay £69.99 for 6 months membership or £13.99 for one month, both after a 14 day free trial.

You can also display a timeline (vertically). You can search for information. You can search by Surname or First name and in various geographical areas or in passenger lists if you suspect someone emigrated. However it throws up false positives, because like Google it finds similar but incorrect answers. One useful feature is that Ancestry have a library ticket and you can go down to your local library and get a free hour if they have a machine available.

There is a problem in that you cannot build a family tree, although you can put information on a memory stick to take information away.

Another catch in using Ancestry is that if you build your family tree then any one else can make use of it as Ancestry take your copyright to the data even though it is really your data. Paul said that this was common to Microsoft also who force you sign over copyright of anything you put on their one drive as part of their use conditions. We all disliked this and thought it should be illegal. It was why Peter did not want to use online photo storage systems.

There were rivals to Ancestry, the main one being "Find My Past" which is about the same price as Ancestry, but was probably better for UK data searches whereas Ancestry was better for American data.

There is a British Newspaper Archive which you can gain access to either by paying a fee or else is covered if you have a "Find My Past" subscription.

Duncan discovered a newspaper report detailing an award which his uncle had received for his work in the Boy's Brigade for 40 years and he was given a presentation wallet which Duncan is keeping in the family. The downside to the Newspaper archive is that it is scanned and OCR'ed and this is also used for the indexes and the quality of the OCR can affect the quality of the index. You can build your family tree in "Find My Past" and it is better on copyright since they do not take over your copyright and consider it is your data and whatever you download can be used where you wish as it is already paid for.

Paul then showed the full version of Ancestry with the Hints. He showed part of his family tree. At the top of the screen is a leaf icon which will show all the hints it has found. One of Paul's family names is Page. The hints bring up suggestions of other people of interest with a "Review" or "Ignore " button by each. He followed a hint and it brought up a marriage of Alice Victoria Page to a Leonard Causton, who was killed in the First World War, and in receipt of a Widows pension; data found in the WW1 Pension Ledgers and Index cards 1914-1923. He could then decide if this could be the same Alice Page which he knew about in which case he could select "Yes", "No" or "Maybe". As Paul said you have to do some detective work in matching up information. Since Alice was born in Ipswich in 1885 it looks likely. Another hint showed her name against a grave in Hampstead in London found in the"Find a Grave Index 1300s - Current" (Free). You had to be careful as in the past many people were unable to read or write and did not know how to spell their own names; so they had to report details to the Census Office and often errors were introduced by the clerk.

The Pages in Paul's Family were often tall and many came from Newbourne and in fact included the Suffolk Giants, two brothers, George Page 7'9" and Meadows Page 7'4". Paul had a remarkable photo of them with their Father, who was a lot shorter, all in top hats. They used to go round fairgrounds for a living. Paul said that the Giants' House was still there in Newbourne and he had visited it and wondered how they would have managed as even he had to bend down to get in the front door! Peter asked how long they had lived since often very tall people had a pituitary tumour which caused them keep growing but they often died young. George Page lived to 36, not so good and died of a brain tumour and Meadows lived to 74 , which is a good age. Peter said that the biblical Goliath was said to have this problem and when David slew him with a stone from a sling shot it burst his pituitary gland.

Other sources of information come from the Mormon website who also developed the GEDCOM text file format for transfer of family tree information. Although it is free you do have to register to use it.

There is also FreeBMD useful for verifying information or for finding documents like birth certificates.

Paul found an offender in his family caught for poaching. Some farm labourers moved to Foxhall to help build the railways, which also needed many horses. The original railways were in fact horsedrawn. 1720 onwards. Earliest were used in the mines. The Mining Bowes family (Queen Mother - Bowes -Lyons family) were also relatives of Paul's Interesting programmes found on the Yesterday TV channel. There will be one on disused underground stations. As we were off topic Peter reminisced about travelling on the top deck of a tram through the Kingsway tunnel onto the embankment in London. The tunnel was for a time a road tunnel but now is reputedly used for storage.

Other ways to gain information is on CDs. FreeBMD are national records from

SFHS the Suffolk Family History Society burial sheets (Spreadsheets saved as PDFs.).

They are are slowly transferring all their records onto CD. Duncan has the Burial records which go from 1538 - 1900. There is a later edition too. It includes Churches and Public Cemeteries. Peter said that the old cemetery in Ipswich was largely undocumented and the undertaker had a notebook with details of some of the grave locations. Paul spotted a Mary Moore who had lived in Rattlesden near Bury St. Edmunds where many of the Moore family lived. Although note these are burial places and not necessarily where someone lived. Births and Marriages Index are listed by Deanery. Paul said he had not traced his direct line out of Suffolk so considered himself Suffolk born and bred! Duncan's were from Essex and east London, but they then disappeared from London only to be found in Ipswich. His Great Grandfather went to New Zealand, got married and came back again.

There was the scandal of the "Fleet marriages". The Fleet was the debtors' prison. A clergyman was held in prison, but people who wanted to marry in a hurry could be married by him in the prison and pay the clergyman so that he could pay off his debts. (It was much nearer than Gretna Green!) This had to be stopped.

Peter asked how you would add a record to your tree. Paul said that you used the "Yes/Accept" or "Maybe" or you could put them into the "Shoebox" if you weren't sure but wanted to keep them.

Duncan spoke about different ways of presentation of the tree. This important because often there were very large families. One of Duncan's Great Aunts was the youngest of 12. Another relative had 12 children and then his wife died in childbirth (which was common) and he then married again although there were a couple of rogue births, so it seemed that he had been keeping in practice before he married the second wife!

Duncan showed PhpGedView (on Sourceforge) forked to WEBtrees which is free. It enabled either ancestors with yourself at the bottom or going back several generations to a historical character and showing all descendents.

There is another application called TNG which is chargeable $34.99 one off payment (the Next Generation). This will run through any browser. This includes about 20 different templates with lots of demo data too. It can be shared with different levels of access. You can use GEDCOM text files (an early format) to transfer data from one to another system.

Peter also mentioned the Wedgwood circular family tree seen in the Wedgwood museum (Stoke-on -Trent). Sometimes records got lost in wartime Britain and Ireland.

Freebmd also has a useful count facility to count occurrences of surnames for example.

Also or Cyndi's list which has a wealth of lists and links.

Coroners Inquests into Suspicious deaths. (A book).

We had a quick look at a Gedcom file. It copes with different ways of naming and representing data.

Peter then showed some of his family tree which his Daughter had researched some years ago. She had produced a very well laid out tree with all sorts of extra photos and descriptions, maps and other information which made it very interesting. As has been mentioned before going into a Family tree is really a way of examining social history as well.

Peter's Father had been in Coastal Command during the war and had flown in Beaufort light bombers as an Observer (Navigator) until he was killed in May 1942. His Squadron 86 had been protecting shipping of the coast of Cornwall and had been moved to Wick in Scotland in order to search for German Battleships in the North Sea and Norwegian Fjords. The weather during the war years was very harsh and they were returning to base in thick fog and the Australian pilot decided to go around again before trying to land and they crashed into one of the masts of the Chain Home early warning radar aerials which were about 300 ft high. All four of the crew were killed. Peter had visited his Father's grave in Wick Cemetery.

Peter's maternal Grandfather was a builder and he had earlier relations who were carpenters and coalmen. The occupations were interesting one being described as a brush stuffer. On his Father's side his Grandfather was a marine engineer and his Grandmother's Father had also been a marine engineer in shipbuilding in Sunderland. It was intriguing to notice that his Grandfather had moved to Sunderland and lodged with his Grandmother's family and that was how they had met. Although you were never told these things as a child. Her family name was Noton which is quite unusual. Paul looked her up and said that she was listed as born in 1881 (Annie Noton) cited in Vol 10A page 610 of the index. Peter's Great Grandfather's family had originated in Scotland in Perthshire at Pitcairngreen.

Peter had lived near Alexandra Place in London and we chatted about the history of the Palace and the BBC TV origins there and the large aerial which was added to the East side. Paul mentioned the planned but unbuilt extension to the Northern line which terminated in a station at Alexandra Palace. Peter had also had to take some of his final examinations there for his Physics degree.

The 1921 Census was soon to go on line since we had a new one taking place this year. The 1931 Census data had been destroyed in the war. In 1939 there was a special Census to enable the Government to issue ID cards but it was not an not an official Census. So any references to currently living persons is blanked out (redacted). Paul said that interestingly the old National Health Number was used as the entry number in 1939 register.

Paul mentioned that there was a lot of information on WikiPaedia on 86 Squadron and Chain Home systems etc.

Paul also said that sometimes Town development meant that whole streets disappeared and he had bought an old map to find where his Grandfather had been born.

Peter's NAS was a bit active. So it was suggested he set schedules for it. They were all worried about bitcoin mining. Peter had to remounting his Timemachine

volume on the NAS after an update on the Mac.[I think].

Paul had to replace parts in his Mac including the battery and cable. Peter had repaired his power unit successfully. We were all concerned about right to repair.

Duncan had to buy a new monitor recently and got a 19" HD monitor. Michael advised against buying a 4K monitor because the text is not always to read. Paul mentioned a BIG mode on the Pinebook set up so you don't have to alter the mode.

There was a bit of chat on GOTO statements and machine code as well and reminiscing.

We also discussed the millennium and other bugs in software.

Quite a good evening. Thank you to all contributions.


References with kind thanks to Duncan.

Ancestry - (and .com and others)

Find My Past - Both available in person at libraries. Find my past has a more relaxed attitude to copyright and more UK material (so they claim).

Ancestry better for international material.

Suffolk Family History Society (provided the CDs of data)

There are databases that will run on a web server. This can be local or on a public website and may allow different information to be displayed to the public and logged in users, with different levels of editing permitted . Ancestry and findmypast offer this facility but it is proprietary and links to for information. As you saw this has both advantages and disadvantages.

The ones I mentioned are:- (free but old ) (an upto date fork of the above) (commercial product).

Mre in each category are listed on the appropriate WikiPaedia pages.

Some hosting companies may offer a genealogy database as a "one click" install.

The best list of sites:- another list :-

Free transcript of the Birth, Marriage and Death indexes for England and Wales from 1837 onwards:-


ICENI Future programme

If anyone would like to present a talk please let us know as we'll need a Committee meeting soon to arrange next year's programme.


ICENI Future programme 2021
March 17th XML and Json All
April 21st A Retro Evening All
May 19th AGM - and extras All


Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road,

Ipswich IP2 8RE ,

for a map and other details please see the website.

Membership fee currently £15, visitors free.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

Our Website and Email

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I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website. If anyone would like a copy of our old newsletters on CD this could be arranged.