* England & Wales Probate Calendar images

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Mark1834
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England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Mark1834 »

I'm going through some of my Ancestry England & Wales Probate Calendar images and replacing them with better copies from FMP.

The Ancestry images appear to be scans of the original bound copies, and many of them are rather poor quality, with poor contrast and heavy skewing due to the thickness of the volumes. Early ones are cropped, but not later ones.

By comparison, the FMP images (which seem to be the same as those available directly from the Probate Registry website) are generally much better contrast, and properly square. They may not be quite as sharp (some can look like a good quality fax image), and many appear to be working copies, with numerous hand-written annotations, while others are clean with no additions. Some are even negative images.

The following pair are typical - no prizes for guessing which one I'm using!
Ancestry.PNG
Ancestry.PNG (154.82 KiB) Viewed 3119 times
FMP.PNG
FMP.PNG (40.06 KiB) Viewed 3119 times
Does anybody know where the Probate Registry / FMP images come from?
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by AdrianBruce »

I'd never noticed that...

Personal Rant Warning - I have to say that I really dislike the higher contrast image from FMP. The results aren't that bad here but where the image is a lower quality original, the intermediate greys get wiped out in an arbitrary manner resulting in broken lettering or specks of dirt becoming enormous. (Even here you say that there is a loss of sharpness - not significant, I'd say but it's there). There are plenty of cases where the increased contrast makes stuff illegible - I had to get a revised copy of a WW1 RAF service record from TNA because the downloaded version was plain illegible due to excessive contrast. TNA sent me a natural contrast image. Guess what - no issues reading it... Somebody please tell TNA we can usually cope with file sizes that won't fit on a floppy disk!

So personally I prefer the Ancestry images - just to be awkward! :o

But what's really interesting to me is the annotations such as "Resworn" comments. That might suggest the copies came from a probate office...?

Rant 2 - FMP's Probate Calendar collection is called England & Wales Government Probate Death Index 1858-2019. Their browse of that is called England & Wales Probate Calendars 1858-1995 Browse. So if you search on "Calendar", you find one but not the other... Consistency?
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by LornaCraig »

Some are even negative images. ....

Does anybody know where the Probate Registry / FMP images come from?
No, but I too have been puzzled that some of them are negative images. It gives the impression the collection has been compiled from a variety of sources.

On the Probate Registry website https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#calendar there is a Feedback button at the bottom which leads to an email address HMCTSWills@ironmountain.co.uk and subject title Find a Will feedback. It might be worth enquiring there.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by dewilkinson »

Like Mark, I generally prefer FMP for probate images, but I flit between FMP and Ancestry for census and BMD index images in order to find the best one for inclusion in reports etc. Ancestrys census images are often better than FMPs but I dislike the way Ancestry colours 1911 census images. No idea where the probate images come from though.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by victor »

One can search probate on National archves.
I downloaded a copy of my in laws probate from here
https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/hel ... fter-1858/
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Mark1834 »

AFAIK, National Archives is just a link to the Probate Registry site, which seems to use the same image set as FMP (in fact, FMP is probably a copy of the Probate Registry database).
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by MB@RE »

BTW, it can be somewhat tiresome going through some of the images on the Gov.uk site since they updated their web page.

The team there, suggested I use the " " in the Surname and first name fields.

Something like :

"Smith
Harold"

However, for the early years say, 1900 - 1920ish,I found it was best to leave the " " out.
Hope this helps.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by arthurk »

I have a vague memory that Ancestry initially sourced their images from one of the London FHS's which had somehow got hold of either a set of index books or films of the same, but I can't remember the exact details (if I ever knew them).
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by fhtess65 »

AdrianBruce wrote: 06 Mar 2023 17:26 <SNIP>
Rant 2 - FMP's Probate Calendar collection is called England & Wales Government Probate Death Index 1858-2019. Their browse of that is called England & Wales Probate Calendars 1858-1995 Browse. So if you search on "Calendar", you find one but not the other... Consistency?
I too have noticed inconsistencies between the collection name and the actual image set. When citing, I go with what I see on the image set. It is frustrating, but I keep reminding myself that in my case, the frustration still costs me far less than flying to England from Canada each week to look up records!
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Mark1834 »

Up until about the mid-20th century, I've stayed with the Ancestry images. Where there is a colour cast or grey background, this is easily removed with IrfanView to give a neater appearance in reports. Mid-20th century is a mix, but later Ancestry images seem to be relatively poor by comparison with the older ones. In particular, some of the fiche copies are verging on the unreadable. I do remember that they have been added to the site in batches, so later ones are clearly from different sources.

Probate Registry / FMP definitely have the edge for me in the later years. Yes, they are not as sharp, but neither are they weirdly distorted or covered in specks!

Picking up Teresa's point, I have a number of old typed transcripts in my files from visiting London in the pre-internet age and heaving the bound volumes off the shelves! :)
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by AdrianBruce »

Mark1834 wrote: 07 Mar 2023 16:00... Probate Registry / FMP definitely have the edge for me in the later years. Yes, they are not as sharp, but neither are they weirdly distorted or covered in specks! ...
Yes - I'm looking at a 1980 Calendar page and I can see what you mean. I can tell that the Ancestry and FMP versions are not from the same original as there are subtle differences in the typeface. (Or not so subtle if you're like me...)
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Gary_G »

The conversation highlights only one aspect of the issue. Not only do different sites sometimes use different image sources, but the scope of the collection they offer can differ. eg. On the "Find a Will" Gov.uk site, they also have data for soldiers wills; something I don't see on Ancestry.

This got me thinking about my templates... To relocate a calendar entry on the UK "Find a Will" site, I need to include an extra military-death-related field that doesn't exist on Ancestry. I presume that to access FindMyPast, the fields could also differ. Within limits; I can handle such access differences in my template design. However; I'm starting to see a disturbing trend. To cite the same type of type of collection for different countries, it's already clear that I pretty-much need to create a separate template for each country. Now I'm also finding that the search parameters on each site, for a given collection, can differ so much that I can't even use the template for the same "type" of document on another site. It's frustrating.

Sounds like the only pragmatic solution is for one to always use the same site for a particular type of record and make a template that supports a particular collection on that site (and just hope they don't change their search-paremeters too often).
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by tatewise »

Those of us who persevere with Generic Sources don't have those problems :lol:
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by ADC65 »

Gary_G wrote: 14 Mar 2024 15:07 Sounds like the only pragmatic solution is for one to always use the same site for a particular type of record and make a template that supports a particular collection on that site (and just hope they don't change their search-paremeters too often).
Are you suggesting that where one obtains data from should be driven and limited by the type of template created to hold the citation for data?!

Each to their own, but I found after a long and exhausting experiment with Templated Sources that I just couldn't get along with them. There's nothing I couldn't do with Templated Sources that I couldn't do with Generic Sources, and with a whole lot less hassle. I would suggest having a hard think about if it's the way you want to go. I can attest it's a difficult job switching further down the road. I do understand some people enjoy the challenge of citation-creation above genealogy, and I got a bit hooked myself. I now have a nervous twitch any time someone mentions ESM or EE.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Jean001 »

tatewise wrote: 14 Mar 2024 17:12 Those of us who persevere with Generic Sources don't have those problems :lol:
Hear hear!
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Mark1834 »

I’m somewhere in the middle. Having experimented extensively with templates, I find them far more powerful than generic sources for capturing data from common and well-defined data sources in a systematic way.

However, that comes with two caveats - I definitely don’t expect them to cater for everything, so still use generic sources for more specialised data, and all I expect from a citation is that it captures the essential data in a useful and readable format. I never cease to be amazed by how much effort some users seem to put into meeting some arbitrary standard or another, but each to their own…
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

I used to be a diehard Evidence Explained afficionado. And now I'm wondering if (for my redo sometime anytime soon perhaps) I should adopt Strathclyde. Or maybe not -- there's another version available of Evidence Explained -- just waiting for a Kindle edition real soon now.

Whatever I do, however, the template I choose (maybe customized) will let me specify where Ifound an image, plus details that should help other to search elsewhere.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Gary_G »

To craft a template with specific fields that fully address each data repository just isn't practical. That was my point. At some level of detail, however, everything can be made to fit a template; hopefully one that helps more than it hurts. So I view template complexity as a spectrum.

At the one end of the spectrum is a Free-form template, which can accommodate just about anything. Then there is the CP-supplied Generic template, which subdivides citations into a few general fields. Then comes a user template that works well with the predefined fields in Ancestral Sources (if one doesn't want to populate any by hand). Then comes the "new and improved big white doorstop" book, which will would make St. Paddy swear. It sits at the extreme end of the complexity scale. The real trick, it seems, is to keep the fields general enough to permit variations between various sources of data and yet specific enough to help promote some regularity in the structure of a citation and hopefully improve the speed of data entry. I'm still trying to find that balance, but I think Nick's level of detail is about what I need to target with my user templates. On occasion, I may get just a bit more detailed.

Originally; I tried the the precursor to the "new and improved big white doorstop" book on citations, but had to give it up for the sake of my mental health. :D Developing templates based on the book was a time-consuming exercise in futility. However; it was likely a good place to start to learn about citations.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Gary_G »

Helen;

The Ian G. MacDonald Strathclydish style is not a bad starting point. The underlying premise that there is only a universal citation that looks like a bibliography is, however, a problem for many. I know it is for me and so I've been making my own hybrid.

I think you may find, as I have, that one needs to develop a hybrid style; the complexity of which lies somewhere near what is directly compatible with Ancestral sources. Fields that are at that level of detail seem to be generic enough to work for many sites.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Gary,

I'm sitting here watching others' experience, so thank you.

H
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Jean001 »

Rather off topic, but...

When I used TMG I spent many a happy hour using its 'Source Elements' to create customised footnote/endnote and bibliography formats. When I started with FH it had only Generic Sources so I had to work with that. Consistency comes naturally to me so after some experimentation with Source Templates I chose to continue with Generic Sources.

On the other hand, I have been happily spending a lot of time in FH customising sentence structures, creating heavily customised Reports and Queries for when (soon) I will be ready to produce printed output for various family members. (The installed reports don't 'suit' what I want to produce.)

FH enables us all to take our own approach so that using it remains a pleasure rather than a chore.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by ADC65 »

Gary_G wrote: 14 Mar 2024 18:52 To craft a template with specific fields that fully address each data repository just isn't practical. That was my point. At some level of detail, however, everything can be made to fit a template; hopefully one that helps more than it hurts. So I view template complexity as a spectrum.
As an aside, one of the (many) reasons I stopped using Templated Sources was the difficulty in transporting the data they contained to other programs or systems. Only Generic Sources are really 'native-gedcom' and the 'custom-gedcom' that FH has to create to accomodate Templated Sources is highly unlikely to be understood by other programs. Mike Tate's Export GEDCOM plugin was a great help, but even that couldn't take it past the line for me. I use FH as my desktop program, but I run a website run by TNG which needs an import to update it, and the Templates just didn't work as I wanted them to.

I'm aware this conversation has been had many, many times on the forum since the introduction of Templated Sources so I shall not bang on about it any further!
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Gary_G »

"ADC65";

I understand what you mean about transportability. However; the GEDCOM structure (at least to date) is still clearly based on the citing a book and then, within that book, giving "Where Within" info. The original premise was that because a physical book (source record portion) is invariant, only our chosen reference (citation portion) within the book can change. Unfortunately; most of us now do our research online and unlike books, a website is not temporally static and it also has vastly different info required to fully define it and the data within it (despite some pundits attempts to call a website a book). This means that CP pretty-much had to deviate from the standard to some extent in order to permit the capture of the potentially relevant website info. Frankly; they've done a pretty good job at keeping deviations to a minimum. [Sorry for going into so much detail, but the antiquated GEDCOM standard is a bit of an annoyance for me.]

I realize that there are kludges to the way data is entered that attempt to make GEDCOM standard input work. However; to me, they feel like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. So; I'm not going to lose sleep over transportability. My challenge is that when one can define input forms nearly any way one wants, it's more difficult to come up with a somewhat uniform look and feel to one's set of templates. Jeff Lamarca made a good stab at it, but I'm not yet sure that they're for me.
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by AdrianBruce »

Gary_G wrote: 14 Mar 2024 15:07... I'm starting to see a disturbing trend. To cite the same type of type of collection for different countries, it's already clear that I pretty much need to create a separate template for each country. Now I'm also finding that the search parameters on each site, for a given collection, can differ so much that I can't even use the template for the same "type" of document on another site. ...
Hmm. I thought I'd got a specific example of a Soldier's Will, but it turns out I've got the PDF but not written it up yet. But for what it's worth...

Firstly note that I still use (and probably always will use) generic source-records. The equivalent of a template in my system is a "skeleton" source record that contains place-holder values. Thus
  • Short Title = _Will: Lastname, firstname, of place, probate yyyy (Note - the underscore indicates that it's a skeleton to be cloned and then editted);
  • Title = Grant of Probate dated dd mmm yyyy with Will and Testament of firstname lastname of place dated dd mmm yyyy
  • Publication = digital image of original requested via "Find A Will" Service [database on-line], URL: https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/
  • etc, etc.
What I would probably do for the soldier's will is (a) add some items to the skeleton's Title such as Regiment and Regimental Number (yes, I know Regiment isn't part of the search criteria but my pedantry won't let me write one without the other) and (b) add the phrase "Soldier's Will" somewhere. Yes, it's adding that to the skeleton for all will source records but I trust I can remember enough to ignore those extra items for non-soldier's wills.

So the Soldier's Wills can, for me, be accommodated in an extra couple of items.

As for the more generic case, I confess I have 6 skeleton records just for wills (not the calendar records, just the wills), viz:
  • Post-1858 will for England & Wales from District Probate Registry;
  • Post-1858 will for England & Wales from Principal Probate Registry (via FindAWill);
  • Post-1858 will for England & Wales from Principal Probate Registry (via the now obsolete HM Courts & Tribunals Service);
  • Pre-1858 will for England & Wales from Church Court via Ancestry or FMP etc;
  • Pre-1858 will for England & Wales from Church Court - photocopy of original from Record Office;
  • Pre-1858 Prerogative Court of Canterbury will for England & Wales from Ancestry etc.
This, of course, excludes any Scottish wills, etc. I'm not above trying to use the Post-1858 will for England & Wales from District Probate Registry for the one surviving post-1858 Irish will that I have, but that would possibly involve hacking various values - easy in a generic text-only skeleton but maybe not as easy in a template. There is every chance that I could generalise some of those 6 to reduce the number, but it's an intellectual exercise with no practical benefit, I fear. That was just how they grew - one benefit of not trying to do everything at once. Or maybe a disbenefit?
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Re: England & Wales Probate Calendar images

Post by Gary_G »

Adrian;

I appreciate you showing how you use the generic templates and plan to "adjust" them for different data. As I noted earlier; the fairly generic meaning to each of the Generic template fields allows one to do that. Having said that; the same can also true for templates, if one doesn't make the field definitions too specific. That's my challenge. :D
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