Some thoughts on UK place structure

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Some thoughts on UK place structure

Nick Hall
This is partly in reply to Phil Wharram's post.  I thought that I'd
share some thoughts on the UK place structure.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of 4
countries:  England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England has been divided into regions for administrative purposes since
1994.

All four countries are divided into counties.  In many cases, they have
existed with their boundaries largely unchanged for hundreds of years
until about 1900.

In most of England the county is the top-level of administration divided
into districts.  The exceptions are large conurbations, and cases where
the county takes on the responsibilities of a district or vice versa.

Where counties are not used for administrative purposes they still exist
as ceremonial counties.

I'll take the village of Abinger Hammer in Surrey, England as an
example.  The administrative hierarchy is:

Abinger Hammer (Village)
Mole Valley (District)
Surrey (County)
South East (Region)
England (Country)
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Kingdom)
European Union (Confederation)

As a matter of interest the GOV database gives me this structure, but
only the administrative hierarchy is available.

Is it all relevant to genealogical research?

In my opinion, it is better to use a geographic hierarchy rather than an
administrative one.  The Confederation and Region levels are not
relevant.  The District is vaguely interesting, but I don't really want
to go to the trouble of recording it, and I normally wouldn't want to
report it.

The format "Abinger Hammer, Surrey, England" is usually what I want.

How will the new features in v5.1 be useful?

Abbreviations will allow a display of "Abinger Hammer, Surrey, England,
UK, EU" whilst still recording the full names.

Multiple hierarchies will allow you to add:

Abinger (Parish)

or:

Dorking (R.D.) 1837-1934
Surrey South Eastern (R.D.) 1934-1974
Surrey Mid Eastern (R.D.) 1974-1996
Mid Surrey (R.D.) 1996-2000
East Surrey (R.D.) 2000-2008
Surrey (R.D.) 2008-

where (R.D.) = Registration District.

Place type groups should will allow formatting of place names using
types other than those in the original seven.  I'm looking forward to
see how well this will work!

As far is the GOV database is concerned, I think that the
District/Borough level may be a barrier to contributors.  If anyone is
interested in contributing, I'm willing to contact one of their
developers for advice.

I've tried to keep this short, so if anyone has anything to add;
especially for Scotland, Wales or NI; then please go ahead.


Nick.




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Re: Some thoughts on UK place structure

Peter Flynn
On 29/03/2019 21:03, Nick Hall wrote:
> This is partly in reply to Phil Wharram's post.  I thought that I'd
> share some thoughts on the UK place structure.

Very interesting, thank you.

> I've tried to keep this short, so if anyone has anything to add;
> especially for Scotland, Wales or NI; then please go ahead.

I would add that for the Republic of Ireland, the position is similar
but different, with some administrative structure inherited from the
British system pre-independence.

Country: Ireland
Province: (Munster|Connacht|Leinster|Ulster)
County: 26 of these, similar to the UK structure
Large conurbations (eg Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford) have
their own county-type administration.

Counties are divided into Townlands, varying in size from a single field
up to an area the size of a whole village or suburb. Until the arrival
of the postcode (EirCode) in 2014, the Townland was THE principal
geographic indicator below County level, and they are still used
extensively to identify geographic addresses. Townlands are not 100%
contiguous with Counties (a few straddle the borders) and the names are
not unique even within Counties.

Towns and Villages are also identifiers, and also have local-level
administrative functions. Within them, Townland names would normally
continue to be used to identify districts and suburbs.

Named districts, usually based on geographical features (bays, forests,
hills, etc), may form part of an address between Townland and County.
These are purely geographic and have no administrative function.

In historic records, there are other geographical identifiers (eg
Baronies, Electoral Divisions, Civil Parishes etc) often referencing a
group of Townlands, but not used in addressing.

At the lowest level of disaggregation, buildings (houses) may have a
number or a name or both, within their street.

Example (rural):
   [sole resident, so no street, no number, no name]
   Cannawee (Townland)
   Barley Cove (named district)
   Co. Cork (County)
This format remains extremely common, and is used extensively in
records, especially legal and governmental records, as the official
address of an individual. It is only slowly being replaced by the postcode.

Example (urban):
   26 Lawn Drive (Street)
   Bishopstown (Suburb or Urban District)
   Cork (City)
   [County omitted when city has its own admin status]

   255 Main Street (Street)
   Schull (Village)
   Co. Cork (County)

Practically all place names in Ireland exist in both Irish-language and
English-language forms. The original Irish-language names have not yet
fossilised (that is, they are not just labels: their meaning is still
well understood, usually geographically or politically descriptive).
Most of the English-language names are corruptions of the Irish-language
names, wrongly transcribed or misheard by early settlers. A few are
radically different, for unknown reasons. Both are found in records, so
what may appear to be two events in two places may actually be a single
event in a single place.

Dublin        Baile Átha Cliath (town of the ford of hurdles)
   [Dubh Linn means 'dark pool' and refers to the turf-stained waters]
Cork          Corcaigh (marsh)
Schull        Scoil (school)
Bishopstown   Baile an Easpaig (town of the bishop)



Peter


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Re: Some thoughts on UK place structure

Ron Johnson
In reply to this post by Nick Hall
On 3/29/19 4:03 PM, Nick Hall wrote:
[snip]

> I'll take the village of Abinger Hammer in Surrey, England as an example. 
> The administrative hierarchy is:
>
> Abinger Hammer (Village)
> Mole Valley (District)
> Surrey (County)
> South East (Region)
> England (Country)
> United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Kingdom)
> European Union (Confederation)
>
> As a matter of interest the GOV database gives me this structure, but only
> the administrative hierarchy is available.
>
> Is it all relevant to genealogical research?
>
> In my opinion, it is better to use a geographic hierarchy rather than an
> administrative one.  The Confederation and Region levels are not
> relevant.  The District is vaguely interesting, but I don't really want to
> go to the trouble of recording it, and I normally wouldn't want to report it.

While I agree about Confederation and Region, I think I've seen multiple
villages with the same name in the same county.

--
Angular momentum makes the world go 'round.


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Re: Some thoughts on UK place structure

brian fitzgerald
In reply to this post by Peter Flynn
Yes!

  Thank you Peter. For simplifying it for most readers here.

Lets not forget, for Ireland, we  are dealing with Church of Ireland
Parishes, Roman Catholic Parishes, Dioceses for each of them, too, and
it may be that these places are the holders and owners of the
genealogical records we crave! So they will have their own distinct
hierarchies.

Lets talk about land registries for a moment too. In Ireland these are
also a relic of the Norman occupation which introduced the concept of
"ownership" of land (a mostly alien concept to the Irish at that time).
These now embody a Norman overlay of the tribal minor kingdoms which
pre-existed the Norman arrival and are a sensational source of
genealogical data but rely on the townland structure you mention. The
current DNA still reflects, in large measure, these ancient territories.

Speaking of the townland structure. "Townland" is a rural neighborhood
where each individual is known to almost all individuals living in it.
So a letter carrier who arrived in a townland would surely be directed
to the recipient. Https:// townlands.ie today shows a little over 61000
townlands in Ireland.

Ireland was never very enthused about towns and cities, being a very
rural culture. Most people didn't have a road let alone a street number,
so for centuries everybody had the townland they came from almost as
part of their name, so it is very important when disambiguating people
found in Irish genealogical records that the townland structure is known
for the parish (catholic or COI), known for the civil registration
district, known for the census district and also known for the land
registry.

This complexity is often mistaken for confusion, but is merely
multi-dimensional and complex and here needs to be cross-walked to a set
of unidimentional GOV structures.

So long as that ability is preserved we can use the GOV approach in
Gramps, I think. Help in the wiki should be able to accomplish that for
many countries and regions.

I imagine that other ancient lands also have peculiar multidimensional
hierarchies (Demographic Ontologies), so the ability to perform this
mapping for a country/ culture/ will allow the Gramps reports to display
the right set of hierarchies for each location. Of course abbreviations
are a nice addition.

Let me point out that this ability to manage multi-dimensional
geo-location of individuals is also consistent with adding a set of DNA
capabilities (ATDNA, yDNA) to Gramps in the future.

brianycoolie R-DC135 from Cooliekerane.


On 3/29/19 6:59 PM, Peter Flynn wrote:

> On 29/03/2019 21:03, Nick Hall wrote:
>> This is partly in reply to Phil Wharram's post.  I thought that I'd
>> share some thoughts on the UK place structure.
>
> Very interesting, thank you.
>
>> I've tried to keep this short, so if anyone has anything to add;
>> especially for Scotland, Wales or NI; then please go ahead.
>
> I would add that for the Republic of Ireland, the position is similar
> but different, with some administrative structure inherited from the
> British system pre-independence.
>
> Country: Ireland
> Province: (Munster|Connacht|Leinster|Ulster)
> County: 26 of these, similar to the UK structure
> Large conurbations (eg Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford) have
> their own county-type administration.
>
> Counties are divided into Townlands, varying in size from a single
> field up to an area the size of a whole village or suburb. Until the
> arrival of the postcode (EirCode) in 2014, the Townland was THE
> principal geographic indicator below County level, and they are still
> used extensively to identify geographic addresses. Townlands are not
> 100% contiguous with Counties (a few straddle the borders) and the
> names are not unique even within Counties.
>
> Towns and Villages are also identifiers, and also have local-level
> administrative functions. Within them, Townland names would normally
> continue to be used to identify districts and suburbs.
>
> Named districts, usually based on geographical features (bays,
> forests, hills, etc), may form part of an address between Townland and
> County. These are purely geographic and have no administrative function.
>
> In historic records, there are other geographical identifiers (eg
> Baronies, Electoral Divisions, Civil Parishes etc) often referencing a
> group of Townlands, but not used in addressing.
>
> At the lowest level of disaggregation, buildings (houses) may have a
> number or a name or both, within their street.
>
> Example (rural):
>   [sole resident, so no street, no number, no name]
>   Cannawee (Townland)
>   Barley Cove (named district)
>   Co. Cork (County)
> This format remains extremely common, and is used extensively in
> records, especially legal and governmental records, as the official
> address of an individual. It is only slowly being replaced by the
> postcode.
>
> Example (urban):
>   26 Lawn Drive (Street)
>   Bishopstown (Suburb or Urban District)
>   Cork (City)
>   [County omitted when city has its own admin status]
>
>   255 Main Street (Street)
>   Schull (Village)
>   Co. Cork (County)
>
> Practically all place names in Ireland exist in both Irish-language
> and English-language forms. The original Irish-language names have not
> yet fossilised (that is, they are not just labels: their meaning is
> still well understood, usually geographically or politically
> descriptive). Most of the English-language names are corruptions of
> the Irish-language names, wrongly transcribed or misheard by early
> settlers. A few are radically different, for unknown reasons. Both are
> found in records, so what may appear to be two events in two places
> may actually be a single event in a single place.
>
> Dublin        Baile Átha Cliath (town of the ford of hurdles)
>   [Dubh Linn means 'dark pool' and refers to the turf-stained waters]
> Cork          Corcaigh (marsh)
> Schull        Scoil (school)
> Bishopstown   Baile an Easpaig (town of the bishop)
>
>
>
> Peter
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Gramps-users mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/gramps-users
> https://gramps-project.org


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Re: Some thoughts on UK place structure

Ron Johnson
On 3/29/19 7:09 PM, brian wrote:

> Yes!
>
>  Thank you Peter. For simplifying it for most readers here.
>
> Lets not forget, for Ireland, we  are dealing with Church of Ireland
> Parishes, Roman Catholic Parishes, Dioceses for each of them, too, and it
> may be that these places are the holders and owners of the genealogical
> records we crave! So they will have their own distinct hierarchies.
>
> Lets talk about land registries for a moment too. In Ireland these are
> also a relic of the Norman occupation which introduced the concept of
> "ownership" of land (a mostly alien concept to the Irish at that time).

Somehow I'm skeptical that land ownership was an alien concept.  If nothing
else, the local king owned the land.

--
Angular momentum makes the world go 'round.


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Re: Some thoughts on UK place structure

Nick Hall
In reply to this post by Peter Flynn
On 29/03/2019 22:59, Peter Flynn wrote:

> I would add that for the Republic of Ireland, the position is similar
> but different, with some administrative structure inherited from the
> British system pre-independence.
>
> Country: Ireland
> Province: (Munster|Connacht|Leinster|Ulster)
> County: 26 of these, similar to the UK structure
> Large conurbations (eg Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford) have
> their own county-type administration.
>
> Counties are divided into Townlands, varying in size from a single
> field up to an area the size of a whole village or suburb. Until the
> arrival of the postcode (EirCode) in 2014, the Townland was THE
> principal geographic indicator below County level, and they are still
> used extensively to identify geographic addresses. Townlands are not
> 100% contiguous with Counties (a few straddle the borders) and the
> names are not unique even within Counties.

Thanks.  That's useful to know.

Do most genealogists use a geographic hierarchy for the whole of the
island of Ireland rather than a political/administrative one?

Nick.




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Re: Some thoughts on UK place structure

Nick Hall
In reply to this post by Ron Johnson
On 30/03/2019 00:04, Ron Johnson wrote:
On 3/29/19 4:03 PM, Nick Hall wrote:
[snip]
I'll take the village of Abinger Hammer in Surrey, England as an example.  The administrative hierarchy is:

Abinger Hammer (Village)
Mole Valley (District)
Surrey (County)
South East (Region)
England (Country)
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Kingdom)
European Union (Confederation)

As a matter of interest the GOV database gives me this structure, but only the administrative hierarchy is available.

Is it all relevant to genealogical research?

In my opinion, it is better to use a geographic hierarchy rather than an administrative one.  The Confederation and Region levels are not relevant.  The District is vaguely interesting, but I don't really want to go to the trouble of recording it, and I normally wouldn't want to report it.

While I agree about Confederation and Region, I think I've seen multiple villages with the same name in the same county.

Villages with the same name within the same county can disambiguate themselves by adding the name of the parish church or people can state that they are "near" a nearby town.

The problem I have with the district level is that it doesn't really add anything and is difficult to research.  Using the Abinger Hammer example, it was very easy to find the current district, but that was only formed in 1974.  Before modern districts were created in 1894 the administrative division below county was the hundred.  It is also easy to find that Abinger is in the Wotton or Dorking Hundred.  Getting information between 1894 and 1974 is more difficult.

We could also put the civil parish in an administrative hierarchy.

The county and parish levels are essential because parish records which hold a great deal of information along with other sources are often held at county archives.


Nick.




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Re: Some thoughts on UK place structure

GRAMPS - User mailing list
In reply to this post by Nick Hall
On 30/03/2019 19:14, Nick Hall wrote:

> On 29/03/2019 22:59, Peter Flynn wrote:
>> I would add that for the Republic of Ireland, the position is similar
>> but different, with some administrative structure inherited from the
>> British system pre-independence.
>>
>> Country: Ireland
>> Province: (Munster|Connacht|Leinster|Ulster)
>> County: 26 of these, similar to the UK structure
>> Large conurbations (eg Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford)
>> have their own county-type administration.
>>
>> Counties are divided into Townlands, varying in size from a single
>> field up to an area the size of a whole village or suburb. Until the
>> arrival of the postcode (EirCode) in 2014, the Townland was THE
>> principal geographic indicator below County level, and they are still
>> used extensively to identify geographic addresses. Townlands are not
>> 100% contiguous with Counties (a few straddle the borders) and the
>> names are not unique even within Counties.
>
> Thanks.  That's useful to know.
>
> Do most genealogists use a geographic hierarchy for the whole of the
> island of Ireland rather than a political/administrative one?

I do, and I think most others would do so. Before 1922, the system was
island wide.

There is another layer between townland and counties, civil parishes,
usually the same as Church of Ireland parishes, but not Roman Catholic
parishes. Civil parishes can cross county boundaries (and can move
between counties).

You wouldn't want to include townlands by default: there are over 60000
of them, and they are bedevilled by variant anglicisations of the Gaelic
originals.  The system is Gaelic in origin, partially regularised by a
19th century survey, Griffiths valuation, which is a valuable
genealogical resource.

David Lynch





>
> Nick.
>



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