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Paper Trail

Tracing Family History: NarrowBoat, Winter 2006

Lorna York

Lorna York goes on a 'Paper Trail' to trace her boating ancestors

In the previous articles, I have shown what you can find out about your family history from the standard records that are available to the general population. This article shows what records are available from specialist waterway sources to put flesh upon the bones of your canal boating ancestry. Every time a boat moved there were various pieces of paper to record that movement. Canal Boats Act From the Canal Boats Act of 1877, every canal boat with a cabin had to be registered as a dwelling to ascertain how many people were allowed to live on board. This was calculated from the cubic capacity of the cabin. Whilst on the move, boats could be inspected to check that they were fit for human habitation and that the rules of occupation were being adhered to. Each rural or urban authority had to appoint an inspector of canal boats and it was his job to examine the boats, record what he found, and report any infringement of the rules. Not all these documents have survived, but many have i…

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