As far back as 1983, Lord Teviott had moved the second reading of the Public Records (Amendment) Bill. Its purpose was to transfer to the custody of the Public Record Office (now The National Archives) records of births, marriages and deaths over 100 years old.
It was proposed that the records be microfilmed and that the general public be given direct access to them. This would put an end to having to order certificates and wait for them to arrive through the post. In the event however, after the Bill had passed through all its stages in the Lords, and was due for its second reading in the Commons on 13 May 1983, it fell with the dissolution of Parliament.
*Thirty years on and we still have to pay for a certificate, but at least we must be thankful for the fact that we are able to see the indexes online. For the benefit of the younger family historian the form at that time was that we had to travel to St Catherines House in London and search through the heavy tomes a year at a time to find the entry we hoped was right then order a copy of the certificate and wait for it to arrive through the post. The only alternative was to look in the local county record office, but they held only the records for its own county.
At Nottingham Town Sessions a man named Mann was sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia, just for stealing a pair of woollen drawers.
Did you hear the one about the Englishman who was emigrating to Australia? While he was going through the formalities in the Australian customs he was asked if he had a criminal record. “No, sorry,” he replied, “I didn’t think we still needed one.”
Did you know that a great many records of emigrants to the USA were destroyed in a fire at Custom House London in 1814?
In our March-April 1985 issue a filler tells us that the 1842 Mines Act followed a Royal Commission review on the exploitation of children in coal mines. It said that boys under the age of 10 should not work down a coal mine at all, neither should females of any age. It had been found that, in some cases, children as young as four years old had been working up to 12 hours a day alone and in darkness, and girls as young as six had been carrying coal on their backs.