Anyone who wants to trace family members in Melton during the 19th century and early 20th century will have a much easier task now thanks to the efforts of an American genealogist.
Jennifer Mortensen has collated 17,500 Christenings, marriages and burials in the town from 1813 to 1910 and made them available in one location to save family historians from trawling through parish registers and records offices where the information is often difficult to interpret.
The 43-year-old, from California, is also working on the Melton parish records for 1538 to 1812 and hopes to release them for public use by August this year.
She said: “Some of these records are difficult to read and some are difficult to find. It’s much easier for people to just click their mouse a few times and watch their family records pop up on their computer screen.”
Jennifer is working through 317 Leicestershire parishes and she is hoping to compile a complete record of the county going back almost 500 years. Melton was one of the easier parishes, she said, because of its status as a large thriving market town over the last few centuries.
“It is not uncommon to see large families living in Melton between 1813 and 1910, often with 10 to 12 children, because there was more wealth there and the healhcare would have been better.
“Some of the causes of death are interesting in the coroners’ reports. There are quite a few who died after being thrown from horses and some were killed by knife wounds.
“Occasionally you will see a death caused by a haemorrhage of the brain due to a blow to the head which probably resulted from them getting into a fight.”
Jennifer’s love for genealogism stems from when she first started tracing her own family roots - some of her ancestors hail from Bedford.
She enjoys the challenge of searching for information through record books which are often very difficult to read.
“The quality of the records in different parishes in a county like Leicestershire are often dependant on whether the vicar at the time had the skills to record family events,” she added.
“Some of them were not able to write so records in that parish would be incomplete. It’s a real puzzle putting together parish records like this but I find it all so fascinating.”
To obtain Jennifer’s parish records for Melton, between 1813 and 1910, go online at www.leicesterparishes.co.uk