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    LMA catalogue web page

    ​Screen shot of the online catalogue

The London Metropolitan Archives online catalogue currently holds just over 4.5 million records describing the archive material held here. New entries are, of course, added to the catalogue when we receive additional deposits or donations of records, but we are also undertaking a programme to populate our online catalogue with the contents of paper lists, card catalogues and standalone databases which were compiled by LMA and its predecessor record offices before our online catalogue existed, or which have been put together by volunteer projects using Microsoft software packages. In the case of paper lists and card catalogues, we need to undertake a lot of data entry work in order to transfer the information into an electronic form; with standalone databases we need to edit the data to ensure it is compatible with the format and layout of our current software before migrating it into our dataset. There is therefore an enormous amount of work required to add this 'legacy' information to our online catalogue. Nicola Avery, Principal Archivist (Collections) tells more.

All the new entries, added since our last update in 2016, give more detailed information about already-catalogued items from several different series of records. All the new entries contain personal names not previously available for public searching.

The first series is connected with a long-running volunteer project at LMA, 'A Place in the Sun', which is working to compile a brand-new index of individual insurance policies within the registers of the Sun Insurance Office. The volunteers have been entering information straight from the registers into Microsoft Access software and LMA's Collections team is following along behind, editing the data and transferring it into our online catalogue. We now have the contents of 227 registers, dating from 1781 to 1842, available to search online. Each entry contains the name of the insured person or business, the address of the property which is the subject of the policy, the date of the policy and details of any other persons, occupations or addresses mentioned in the policy as it appears in the register. The indexing project is still continuing, so look out for the contents of more registers on LMA's online catalogue in the coming months.

The Corporation of Trinity House was the pilotage authority for London and several other UK ports (known as outports). The corporation issued licences to pilots working from the ports under its jurisdiction. Pilots had to be British, hold a Master Mariner’s or Naval certificate, have several years’ experience as a ship’s watch officer and be under 35 years of age; licences had to be renewed annually. Details of the pilots’ licences issued by the Corporation of Trinity House for the London district have now been added to LMA’s electronic catalogue spanning the years 1808 to 1986, and for the outport districts spanning the years 1808 to 1876. Each catalogue entry contains the pilot’s name, age and date of the licence, and some also give the pilot’s place of origin. The archive of the Corporation of Trinity House was originally in the custody of the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library (GLMS) and they had indexed these pilots’ registers into Microsoft software. This dataset has now been imported into LMA’s electronic cataloguing software.

In our last update we reported on the addition to the catalogue of marriage bonds and allegations from the Diocese of Winchester and the Peculiar Court of St Katherine by the Tower. Following on from those we have now added to the catalogue two series of marriage licences, one from the Diocese of London and one from the Diocese of Gibraltar. Like the Trinity pilots’ records above, the indexes of these two series were originally input to a standalone Microsoft database by GLMS staff, the contents of which have now been added to LMA’s electronic catalogue.  The Diocese of London licences cover marriages which took place in the British Embassy in Paris (the Bishop of London having jurisdiction over Anglican congregations in Europe) and span the years 1828 to 1837. The Diocese of Gibraltar was created in 1842 at the suggestion of the Bishop of London to cover the southern part of Europe, bordering the Mediterranean; marriage licences from the diocese recently added to LMA’s catalogue span the years 1859 to 1873. For both series, each entry contains the name of the groom, name of the bride and date of marriage.

The City of London Quarter Sessions were responsible for the incarceration of insolvent debtors in the City’s prisons and compters. Schedules of prisoners incarcerated for debt within the City have been entered into LMA’s electronic catalogue by LMA staff, from individual index cards created by staff at the Corporation of London Records Office which originally held the City Sessions records. The schedules cover debtors held in all the City’s prisons and span the years 1748 to 1820. Information available on the catalogue consists of the prisoner’s name, occupation, address and the prison in which they were held.

Also entered into the electronic catalogue by hand, this time by one of LMA’s long-term volunteers Pam Dobby, has been a large number of miscellaneous deeds and individual documents which originated with GLMS but which had not been received by them as part of an individual archive collection. The items have been divided between two artificial collections, CLC/521 (Small Family Collections) and CLC/522 (Miscellaneous deeds), with a few being added back into individual archive collections when it was obvious that they originated with those collections. Together they consist of over 1250 items. For title deeds information added to the catalogue includes the parties to the deed, the property to which it relates, names of witnesses and terms of the deed.

As well as our own work converting and importing legacy databases and indexes into the electronic catalogue, LMA is also indebted to researchers and projects which help us by creating indexes of registers and other items which we can then import into our catalogue. One good example of this is the work of Cliff Webb. Cliff has been creating indexes for LMA’s records for many years and is currently working from material which has been digitised and made available on Ancestry. The latest series of records to benefit from Cliff’s indexing skills is a series of rough settlement examinations from the Lambeth Board of Guardians. Settlement examinations consisted of interviews conducted by Board of Guardian officers with paupers to discover which parish was officially responsible for providing them with relief. The examinations indexed for Lambeth span the years 1834 to 1849 and the details on the catalogue consist of the name of the pauper and the date of the examination.

Finally, another external indexing source has enabled LMA to make available details of individuals who signed the oath returns of 1723 within the City of London. Like the insolvent debtors’ schedules above, these form part of the archive of the City of London Quarter Sessions. Following a Jacobite conspiracy an Act of Parliament was passed in 1722 requiring all subjects of George I to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the crown. The signing of the oath was overseen by individual Quarter Sessions and the returns here consist of those people signing the oath who lived in the City of London or who travelled there specifically to sign the oath, under the supervision of the City of London Sessions. The project to transcribe and index the 1723 City oath returns was run by the University of Roehampton and funded by the Marc Fitch Fund and LMA is very grateful to both for more than 15,000 index entries which we have been able to import into our electronic catalogue. Information about the returns and the University of Roehampton project can be found on LMA’s website here.

The contents of all the records described above can be searched by personal name through our online catalogue. Just enter a name into the Search Terms box under Simple Search and when the results appear look for entries showing the following reference codes (you can sort your results by Reference Code to make this easier):

  • For Sun insurance policies look for entries with references beginning CLC/B/192
  • For Trinity House pilots’ licences look for entries with references beginning CLC/526
  • For Diocese of London marriage licences look for entries with references beginning DL/E/E
  • For Diocese of Gibraltar marriage licences look for entries with references beginning CLC/319
  • For insolvent debtors’ schedules look for entries with references beginning CLA/047/LJ/17
  • For Lambeth Board of Guardians settlement examinations look for entries with references beginning LABG/140
  • For 1723 City oath returns look for entries with references beginning CLA/047/LR/02/04/028

Alternatively, if you want to target one of these series particularly, use the Advanced Search function: enter the personal name in which you're interested into the Title box and the reference for the series as quoted above with a final asterisk (for example, DL/E/E*) into the Reference Code box; choose ‘and’ from the drop-down box next to the Reference Code heading.

2016 entries

More new entries in the OPAC

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is constantly adding new records to its online catalogue and in the past year or so (2015-16), since we last reported on this work (in Autumn 2014), we have completed the transfer of around 70,000 new entries from legacy databases and volunteer projects. All the new entries contain personal names, which are now available for the first time in a fully searchable format. Nicola Avery, Principal Archivist (Systems) tells more.

The LMA online catalogue currently holds just over 4 million records describing the archive material held here. New entries are, of course, added to the catalogue when we receive additional deposits or donations of records, but we are also undertaking a programme to populate our online catalogue with the contents of paper lists, card catalogues and standalone databases which were compiled by LMA and its predecessor record offices before our online catalogue existed, or which have been put together by volunteer projects using Microsoft software packages. In the case of paper lists and card catalogues, we need to undertake a lot of data entry work in order to transfer the information into an electronic form; with standalone databases we need to edit the data to ensure it is compatible with the format and layout of our current software before migrating it into our dataset. There is therefore an enormous amount of work required to add this 'legacy' information to our online catalogue.

The new entries added over the last year all give more detailed information about already-catalogued volumes from several different series of records. All the new entries contain personal names not previously available for public searching.

The first series is connected with a long-running volunteer project at LMA, 'A Place in the Sun', which is working to compile a brand new index of individual insurance policies within the registers of the Sun Insurance Office. The volunteers have been entering information straight from the registers into Microsoft Access software and LMA's Collections team is following along behind, editing the data and transferring it into our online catalogue. We now have the contents of 200 registers, dating from 1785 to 1841, available to search online. Each entry contains the name of the insured person or business, the address of the property which is the subject of the policy, the date of the policy and details of any other persons, occupations or addresses mentioned in the policy as it appears in the register. The indexing project is still continuing, so look out for the contents of more registers on LMA's online catalogue in the coming months.

The next series of records relates to Freedoms of the City of London, recorded amongst the records of the Chamberlain of London between 1668 and 1805. This information was captured by a volunteer data entry project and has now been transferred from its original series of card catalogues into our online catalogue and is available in a fully searchable format. Each entry contains the name and address of the freeman, the name of his father and/or master as appropriate, the method by which freedom of the City was granted ie by servitude/apprenticeship, patrimony or redemption, the livery company of which he was a member, his occupation and sometimes date of birth.

Probate records have been added to the catalogue for wills proved by the Archdeaconry and Consistory Courts of the Diocese of London, and also for those proved by the Peculiar Court of Saint Paul's Cathedral which had jurisdiction over some parishes in the City of London, Middlesex, Essex and Hertfordshire. These probate courts formed part of the holdings of the former Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library (GLMS) which was responsible for deposited records relating to the City of London until its amalgamation with LMA in 2008. GLMS had indexed these probate records into Microsoft software and this information has now been extracted, edited and transferred to LMA's online catalogue. Entries include the name, address and occupation of the testator, the date of probate and, in the case of the St Paul's wills, the value of the goods left. These probate records date from 1591 to 1773.

Another series of records originally part of the GLMS holdings were the marriage bonds, allegations and licences granted by the Commissary Court of the Royal Peculiar at Saint Katherine by the Tower. This court had jurisdiction only over the Precinct of St Katherine, a small area to the east of the Tower of London. These marriage records, like the probate series above, had been indexed by GLMS staff into Microsoft Access and have now been transferred to LMA's online catalogue.  Details include names of bride and groom and date of the bond, allegation or licence.

More marriage bonds and allegations have been added to the catalogue, this time from the Archdeaconry Court of Surrey, part of the Diocese of Winchester whose jurisdiction included the London area south of the River Thames. These records were indexed by a volunteer project and had previously been available to view on LMA's website in pdf form. The records date from 1673 to 1791 and include the name, age, status, occupation and address of both bride and groom where this was available in the original documents.

The contents of all the records described above can be searched by personal name through our online catalogue. Just enter a name into the Search Terms box under Simple Search and when the results appear look for entries showing the following reference codes (you can sort your results by Reference Code to make this easier):

  • For Sun insurance policies look for entries with references beginning CLC/B/192
  • For City of London Freedoms look for entries with references beginning COL/CHD/FR, COL/CHD/AP or COL/CA
  • For Diocese of London probate look for entries with references beginning DL/AL (Archdeaconry of London) or DL/C (Consistory Court of London).
  • For Peculiar of St Paul's Cathedral probate look for entries with references beginning CLC/313/K/C
  • For Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower marriage records look for entries with references beginning CLC/199
  • For Diocese of Winchester marriage records look for entries with references beginning DW/MP

Alternatively, if you want to target one of these series particularly, enter the personal name in which you're interested into the Search Terms box and the reference for the series as quoted above with a final asterisk (eg DL/C*) into the Reference Code box. 

2014 entries

In 2014 we completed the transfer of around 332,000 new entries from legacy databases and volunteer projects. All the new entries contain personal names, which are now available for the first time in a fully searchable format.

The first series is connected with a long-running volunteer project at LMA, ‘A Place in the Sun', which is working to compile a brand new index of individual insurance policies within the registers of the Sun Insurance Office. The volunteers have been entering information straight from the registers into Microsoft Access software and LMA's Collections team is following along behind, editing the data and transferring it into our online catalogue. We now have the contents of 187 registers, dating from 1790 to 1839, available to search online. Each entry contains the name of the insured person or business, the address of the property which is the subject of the policy, the date of the policy and details of any other persons, occupations or addresses mentioned in the policy as it appears in the register. The indexing project is still continuing, so look out for the contents of more registers on LMA's online catalogue in the coming months.

The second series relates to wills proved in the Consistory Court of the Diocese of London between 1513 and 1858. This information was also captured by a volunteer indexing project and has previously been available to view on LMA's website in pdf form. This has now been transferred from its original series of databases into our online catalogue and is now available in a fully searchable format. Each entry contains the name and address of the testator, the date the will was proved and any other information found in the registered copy of the will, such as occupations, previous addresses or alternative names or aliases.

The final, much smaller, series relates to inquests of the City of London and Southwark Coroners' Courts. These two courts formed part of the holdings of the Corporation of London Records Office (CLRO), which was responsible for the archives of the City of London Corporation until its amalgamation with LMA in 2004.  CLRO had indexed some, but not all, of the inquests into their own database structure and this information has now been extracted, edited and transferred to LMA's online catalogue. Entries include the name, age and occupation of the deceased, the date of the inquest, cause of death and inquest verdict. The inquests indexed by CLRO staff date from 1901 to 1927 for the City of London Coroner's Court and 1901 to 1919 for Southwark. The City of London cases are especially interesting as they include casualties of bombing raids during the First World War.

The contents of all the registers described above can be searched by personal name through our online catalogue. Just enter a name into the Search Terms box under Simple Search and when the results appear look for entries showing the following reference codes (you can sort your results by Reference Code to make this easier):

For Sun insurance policies look for entries with references beginning CLC/B/192;
For Consistory Court wills look for entries with references beginning DL/C;
For City/Southwark inquests look for entries with references beginning CLA/041 (City) or CLA/042 (Southwark).

Alternatively, if you want to target one of these series particularly, enter the personal name into the Search Terms box and the reference for the series as quoted above with a final asterisk (eg DL/C*) into the Reference Code box.


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