Unfortunately for me this is not an index of railway staff, which is the connection most of my own ancestors had with the Great Western Railway, but of shareholders in the railway between 1835 and 1910 compiled by The Society of Genealogists from the ledgers created by the company and now in the Society’s possession.
The Great Western Railway Shareholders Index is an ongoing project. This first release available for searching at findmypast.com covers the ledgers for the period 1835 to 1910. The indexes to the registers for the period 1911 to 1932 will follow in due course.
The Great Western Railway’s original ledgers were compiled by the company for transactions relating to all shareholdings which changed hands other than by simple sale. The GWR called the ledgers Probate Books, which reflects the fact that the great majority of such share transfers (approximately 90%) were as a result of the death of a shareholder and their shares changing hands during the administration of the deceased’s estate. The proportion of the GWR’s total number of shareholders included in the Society of Genealogists’ GWR Shareholders Index is not known but is estimated to be around 75%; this is because the railway shares were regarded as gilt-edged stock to be held for the long term.
Each volume contains between 450 and 600 individual entries, which may relate to an event occurring up to 20 years earlier than the making of the entry. In almost all entries, the name of the shareholder is given together with an address, the names of the other parties (executors or legatees for deaths; husbands for marriages) and dates of death, probate, marriage or other event.