The availability of the index on findmypast.co.uk has been achieved in partnership with the Society of Genealogists, who previously held the original paper index at their London headquarters. The index dates from when the GWR was created in 1835 and continues through to 1932. The records contain some famous names such as Charles Dickens, William Ewart Gladstone and Lewis Carroll, under his real name, Charles Ludwidge Dodgson.
The Society of Genealogists originally produced its GWR Shareholder Index from ledgers created by the Great Western Railway. The original ledgers were compiled by the company for transactions relating to all shareholdings which changed hands other than by simple sale. In the records the name of the shareholder is given together with an address, the names of the other parties (executors or legatees for death; husbands for marriages), dates of death, probate, marriage or another event. The purpose of these records was to record change of ownership of the shares, the death of the original shareholder being the most likely cause of an event.
The infamous Great Western Railway was built along a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts linking London to the West Country and Wales. Bristol merchants were desperate for effective transport links to London, to prevent the emergence of Liverpool as the country's second port. In 1833, the famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was appointed chief engineer. He also became a shareholder, appearing in the index following his death from a stroke in 1859.
Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, said: "By working with the Society of Genealogists, we have been able to make these extraordinary and unique records available to all for the first time through the findmypast.co.uk website, giving people the opportunity to explore another area of their family history."
Else Churchill, Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists adds: "The Society of Genealogists is delighted to make these fascinating and unusual records available to the public through findmypast.co.uk. Projects such as this will allow us to continue to preserve these and other rare records for future generations."
The majority of events within the index are deaths in England and Wales. However, other events also caused shares to go through a change of ownership. They are as follows:
Power of Attorney 0.8%
Change of Name 0.8%
Most events relate to individuals in England and Wales, but there are also a significant number of Scottish, Irish and overseas records:
England & Wales 93.6%
For more information log on to www.findmypast.co.uk