Author Archives: My Family History Research
I thought I would share a list of some of the resources that I have at home, such as books & software that I have collected over the years.
Click the link below or go to the top menu and click on ‘My Resources at Home’.
I know that some people will not agree with what I’m about to write but the way I see it, if someone reading this learns from my experience then I’ve done my job.
I don’t like Ancestry.com.au
Why you ask? I have really not been a fan of the Australian content on Ancestry at all. From past experience I don’t think the information or indexes are that accurate and I do think that to do your family history in Australia (especially NSW) you have the resources you need at the local library, State Records and other places, not just Ancestry.
I used to use the site to view UK records but as only as ‘pay per view’ subscription but it seems that there is a lot of data that as a ‘pay per view’ subscriber I still cannot see. I also don’t like the fact that a number of records I saved in my ‘Shoebox’ I can longer access as I don’t have a monthly subscription. I really don’t like the idea of having to pay for something I know I can get elsewhere for free. Take for instance the latest development from Ancestry, ‘Australian Vital Records on Ancestry’. Though in saying that, there are some sites, that I’m more than happy to pay to view additional data.
I come from the old school of family history research. I started my research in the late 1980’s. With this I went to the library and sat in front of a microfiche, looked at microfilm and looked at books that had indexes to check the NSW BDM indexes, sands directories, electoral rolls and immigrant reels. When I found a birth, marriage or death index that I wanted to get the certificate for, I would then have to order this directly from the NSW BDM Registry, by paper form and then send it via snail post. It cost a lot less than (I think about $8.00) but it would take anything up to 4 weeks to get the requested certificate. When I received it, I would then go back to the library to take another look at the microfiche to gain more details about my ancestor and the search continue. For those that began back then, you will understand. For others, who have only just started in the last few years, there are now plenty of databases and information now available online and it’s a lot easier and quicker to gain information. I think this is great but I find the ‘excitement’ about having these ‘Vital Records’ now online a little hard to take, due to the fact, that they already are on line for most of the Australian states, (except for SA and I think WA). Yes, for Victoria, you have to pay to view the indexes but that to me is just a small price to pay. The indexes are also available on CD, (for NSW, SA & Victoria, don’t know about the other states). To me, I’d still rather take the trip to the library to have a look at the CD or look online and then purchase a transcription of the certificate I’m after than pay Ancestry to look at an image.
If Ancestry, really want people to subscribe to their site then I feel that the actual indexes need to show more data, such as the year, place or even parents’ names that helps a person to identify what they are seeing, so that people can say, “hey, I think that one is my ancestor, I want to see more information or I want to see the image and I’m happy to pay for that”. Currently for someone who does not have a subscription, all you see for the Australian Vital Indexes, is the name of the person and that’s it. No location, no year, so for me that it not an incentive to pay to look at an image, especially when I can look at the indexes at http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au and then make my decision to purchase a transcription of the certificate from an agent.
When it comes to paying for information online, especially for UK information, I’m more than happy to have a subscription, to FindMyPast. (though I only do the ‘pay per view’ as I don’t need a full subscription and I still get all of the information I need)
Yes, you need to register to view the site, but the indexes are free to look at and I just feel that for me FindMyPast is a better experience as there is more information in the index for you to make a choice as to which image you want to view.
Below is a list of just some of the repositories that I have used in my research and yes, some of them you have to subscribe and pay to view images:
Pay to view sites:
www.ihr.com.au – Over 20,000 pages of online records for family history research in New South Wales, Australia. (cost per year $40)
Free Indexes or other sites:
http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/ (NSW Birth Death Marriages)
www.records.gov.au (NSW State Records Online Indexes) (I note also that digital copies of the Bounty Immigrants lists, 1838-96, are available for free on the site)
http://www.sydneyarchives.info/ – Newtown Project. Has the full Sands Directories between 1858 & 1932 on line. If you know your ancestor lived in the Newtown area (like mine) than you have free access to a great source of information.
City of Sydney Archives – Assessment Books 1845 – 1950 – compiled by the Council as a record of basic information about each building (later, each property) in the city which was liable to pay rates
And of course, my Favourite:
So in summary:
Ancestry.com.au is not the only place to do your family history. Look at all available records, take the time to do the work, find out what else is available and verify all information that you come across. Get out of your chair and away from your PC and take the time to learn about what other research mechanisms is out there. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Enjoy your night or day, where ever you are.
I started my blog in early May just so that I could jot down my some of my research, record my road blocks and anything else I may find interesting to write about. The only blogs that I have read up until now, were New South Wales Genealogy, Unlock the Past and Gould Genealogy & History Blog. It was not until this past weekend that I discovered, GeneaBloggers and what a find that was. The blog itself hosts a range over 1100 genealogy blogs.
All that I have done since finding GeneaBloggers, is read the many different blogs that I have come across in either the Blogroll or but mostly the list under Australian blogs, as these are more relevant for me. I have found some interesting blogs and looking forward to reading more. I have even now downloaded onto my iPhone a RSS reader so that I can view anything that might come through during the day.
It’s a great find and I recommend any one who has a Genealogy Blog to take a look at GeneaBloggers, it’s well worth the visit as I have found some blogs that have had some good content and links to other sites, such as online databases, which I wasn’t aware of.
Here are the favourites that I have discovered today.
Thomas MacEntee at GeneaBloggers maintains a list of Genealogy Blogs, currently with over 1,100 blogs. He proposed a meme. Thomas suggested that we genealogy bloggers share some information with the community about what we use in terms of technology to run our genealogy businesses or pursue our family history as a hobby.
Below is my list
* Hardware: PC with Vista and 1 x MSI Netbook with XP
* External storage: 2 x external Hardrives (320gb)
* Online storage: None
* Backup: External hardrives as above & hardcopies
* Firewall: Kaspersky Internet Security
* Virus protection: Kaspersky Internet Security
* Spyware: Adware
* File cleaner: CCleaner
* Printer: HPDesket4480
* Phone: Landline & iPhone
* Mobile media: iPhone & Netbook
* Music player: iPhone
* eBook Reader:
* Browser: FireFox
* Blog: WordPress
* RSS: Outlook 2007
* FTP: FileZilla
* Text editor: PSPad
* Screen capture: no idea what this is.
* Social media: Facebook
* Social bookmarking:
* Social profile: None
* Office suite: Office 2007
* E-mail: Outlook 2007
* Genealogy database: Legacy Family Tree & Relatively Yours 3. Also my website uses the The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding software.
* Genealogy tools: Lots, but I’ll say every website that I have utilised over the years for my research. Check my genealogy links above
* Other tech stuff:
One of my GG grandmothers, was Susan Baldwin. She was around 1844 in Suffolk England to John & Sarah Baldwin. Susan married William George Baker in 1863 at Woolwich Kent England.
William and Susan immigrated to New South Wales in1865 with their eldest son William. They had a total of 8 children.
- William George (1864-1942)
- Alfred (1866-1909)
- Sarah (1868 – death date not known)
- Albert Samuel (1870-1950)
- Susan (1872-1899)
- Emma (1874-1876)
- Ernest (1876-1943
- May (1879-1945)
Susan’s father was John Baldwin and he was born around 1805 in Suffolk and died in Sudbury Road, St Marys, Bures, Suffolk, England on the 28th June 1871.
Susan’s mother was Sarah (either Reason or Chambers – this is yet to be confirmed) and Sarah was born around 1804 in Boxford, Suffolk and died in Sudbury Road, St Marys Bures, Suffolk on the 4th June 1856.
Susan’s first husband William Baker died in Boggabri on the 1st December 1881. Susan married again in Henry Thearle in 1883 and they had 3 children.
- Violet (1883-1955)
- Henry (1885-1928)
- Isabella (1887-1974)
Susan died at Boggabri on the 31st March 1920 and is buried in the Church of England Cemetery at Boggabri.
Despite my 20 years of compiling my family history, with my main focus on New South Wales & UK research, I’ve decided I want to see if there is anything else I need to know, or haven’t learnt before.
Read through the following blogs:
- Dear MYRLES’ 2009 Finally get Organised Checklist – For 2009 she has a check list for each month – http://blog.dearmyrtle.com/2009/01/finally-get-organized-jan-2009.html
- FamilySearch – Organzing Your Files – https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Organizing_Your_Files
- GeneaBloggers - (especially on the ’52 Weeks to better genealogy’)
- After going through my pile of ‘to do things’, I have now sorted it all out by surname. I need to go through these, one by one and update my Legacy database with the information, update the source and scan the document into the PC for future reference. (And not get side-tracked into doing ‘more research’ as I do this).
- Even though I’ve been doing my family history for over 20 years, I wouldn’t mind having a closer look at the FamilySearch online classes in particular:
I’ve noticed a few blogs recently that are discussing 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy weekly challenges.
Need to look for more information on this. It’s now week 28. Wouldn’t mind seeing what the previous challenges were to have a go at them.
I received an email from a distant cousin who found my website after doing a search for one of their uncles. They wanted to know if I wanted some additional information on that part of the family. I thought to myself, I’ve already got the details of the children of the couple but when I checked by Legacy database, I found that I didn’t. I still thought I did have the information that I received from another connection to that family so last night I went through my pile of paper (notes, printed documents, things to do, filing) and I discovered two things: Yes, I did have the information though all I have is the list of names (no birth, marriage or death dates). The other thing I discovered when going through my pile was that there were things that I had searched previously on, and I have either handwritten or printed out information and placed in the to do tray but never done anything with it. Whilst going through it I realised I have duplicated my recent research. For example, I found some printed UK census records from FindMyPast (print date is 2003….!) and I thought I’ve just done that the other week.
When it comes to my Birth Death Marriage certificates that I have collected, my filing, storing and recording of the sources of that is fine, My problem really lies in the other stuff that I find, that is either connected or not connected. In some cases, I’m recording things and in other cases, I’m not but in all it just sits there in the pile to look at again oneday.
So what I need to do is to record my research, file into my folders and update my Legacy database as I find something and not leave it for another day. What I tend to do though is do a help of research and I tell my self that I’ll update the database later. Doesn’t always happen that way. I get side tracked into something else. I love the research bit. I can sit here all day trolling the internet, looking at sites, such as FindMyPast and be happy that I’ve discovered something. It’s the updating of the database and filing all that other research I’m a little bit behind in.
How information on a birth, death or marriage certifcate can make your search just that little bit harder.
As in my previous post Birth Death & Marriage certificates contain a wealth of information. Some good, some correct and some information that just causes confusion.
Below is a summary of information that I have taken from the BDM certificates for the family of John Shoulders & Mary Ryan (now known to be Hanratty).
Mary Ryan married John Shoulders in 1851 in Armidale. They had four children. John died in 1858 at Hernani, near Armidale.
Children of John & Mary were:
Emily (1851-1949) – married William Harris
Mary (1852-1880) – married Charles Jackson
James (1853-1871) not married
Ellen (1856-1922) married George Mathews (1) and Horatio Baker (2)
Information from the certificates is as follows:
- According to her marriage certificate in 1851 Mary’s maiden name was Ryan and she was given consent to marry by her guardian R G Massie.
- John’s death certificate in 1858 shows that he had been in the colony for 26 years (making his arrival around 1832. More details on John can be found here). He was listed as being 42 years old, making his birth year to be around 1816.
- Being given consent to marry would indicate Mary was under the age of 21 years. Having a guardian would also indicate that her parents were not around or they were deceased.
- Mary’s name is listed as ‘Marianne Ryan’ on John Shoulder’s death Certificate.
- The death certificate of Mary and John’s son – James Shoulders in 1871 (aged 22) shows Mary’s name as “Mary Ann Ryan”.
- Mary married again in October 1858 to Edward Beasley (variant spellings are: Beasley, Beazley, Beezley, Beesley). The Marriage Certificate for Mary and Edward does not have much information. It shows that Mary was a widow and living at Wellington Vale. (note to self: For the first time I have noticed that one of the witnesses on this certificate is an A Clarke! – I wonder if this is Mary’s father refer point 2 below). But if it was her father, why his name would not be listed under ‘father’ is not known.
Details from the BDM Certificates of John & Mary’s children are:
- On the birth certificate of Mary & John’s daughter Ellen Shoulders (born 1856), it shows Mary’s age as being 23. The informant was ‘Marianne Shoulders’ mother and that she was born at Clarence Town, Williams River.
- Marriage certificate of Emily Shoulders to William Harris in 1868 does not indicate her parent’s names.
- Death certificate of Emily Harris (nee Shoulders) in 1949 has her parents has John Shoulders & Mary Beasley.
- On the marriage certificate of Charles Jackson and Mary Shoulders in 1868, it shows that Mary’s maiden name was ‘Beezley’ and that her father was Edward Beezley. This is incorrect as Mary’s surname was Shoulders. Edward was her ‘stepfather’. Considering that her father had died at a young age, I’d say that ‘Edward’ would have been considered as her father. The name of her mother is not listed. Edward also gave Mary consent to marry.
- On the death certificate of Mary Jackson nee Shoulders in 1880, it shows that her parents were John Shoulders and Mary Nauratty. When I saw this, I thought it might have been a typo or incorrect information but it turns out that it’s closer to the truth than anything else.
- On the marriage certificate of George Mathews and Ellen Shoulders, it does not show neither parents’ names but Ellen was given consent to marry by Mary Ann Beezley, the mother of the bride.
- On the marriage certificate of Ellen Mathews (nee Shoulders) to Horatio Baker in 1921, shows her mother as being Mary Ann Brown and her father as John Shoulders.
- The death certificate of Ellen Baker (died 1922) shows her mother’s name as Mary Ann Brown. Where this surname of Brown comes from is beyond me and I tend to ignore as it’s quite obvious that it’s not correct.
- After many years of research found the death certificate of Mary Beasley (formerly Shoulders – nee Ryan). It was in 1909 and was listed as ‘Brezley’ It showed that her Father was ‘Arthur Hanratty‘ Pig Merchant. Mary was 73, making her birth year to be 1836 and her place of birth was Clarence Town and that she was ’15′ when she married John Shoulders in 1851. It also shows that she was ’20′ when she married Edward Beasley in 1858, which would make her birth year to be 1838.
What other research I did to confirm the correct details about Mary.
- As Mary’s name was listed as Ryan on her marriage, my initial search consisted of checking every birth record in the NSW BDM index’s for a birth of a Mary Ryan around the mid 1830’s and then double checking death records for deaths of the ‘parents’. This was a rather fruitless search seeing that I had no idea of the names of her parents.
- I have done a great deal of research in looking for ‘Arthur Hanratty’ (as you can see here)
- I have checked the indexes again to find the birth of Mary Hanratty (or variant spelling) with her father being Arthur, but no record of her birth has been found.
So what can I take from this. Not everything is as it seems. Don’t take it for granted that what is on a certificate is correct. Verify all details, it might be correct, it might not be. You never know, doing a little bit more digging, might eventuate in finding the truth, though rather disjointed at times. It will fit together eventually.
NSW Birth, Death & Marriage certificates contain a wealth of information that can help you in your research.
Today I am going to look at some NSW death certificates that I have obtained that has helped in my research. Death certificates are great as they can have a lot of information but in some cases, they don’t have the correct information (as you figure out once you start to check the information) or they don’t have any information. Note though that the informant of the death certificate is not always the one with the correct information on the deceased. Some death certificates can have a world of information (though maybe not correct) and some can have very little information with no chance to work out anything else.
Case 1: Death Certificate for Joseph Dilworth (died: 1877 – Ref:9391)
Joseph Dilworth died in August 1877 and according to his death certificate his place of death was ‘Cooks Creek, Rampsbeck, New England’. He was a farmer, aged 67. His father is listed as John Dilworth. His son Joseph was the informant. He is listed as being born at ‘Belfast’ Ireland and had been in the colony for 35 years. His place of marriage was ‘Newtown’ to Mary Quirk. Children of marriage are listed as John 30 and Joseph 21.
From that, I was able to work out the following:
- That Joseph had arrived around 1842 and after checking the bounty shipping records, I found that he arrived on the ship Wilson, with his wife ‘Eliza’ and son ‘Josias’ in January 1842. He is listed as being a native of Killyman, Tyrone and aged 24, making his birth year to be around 1818. His parents are listed as John and Ruth. If you take his ‘age’ at death, his birth year would be 1810. Family Search shows a christening date for Joseph, with parents of John & Ruth in 1815 at Killyman Tyrone.
- His place of Marriage to Mary Quirk, is correct. Checking the NSW BDM indexes, shows they were married in 1857.
- Checking the 1870-1871 Electoral Rolls (available on Internet History Resources), shows Joseph living at Ramsbeck, New England.
What is missing from the death certificate?
- Details of his first marriage to Eliza. Elizabeth died in December 1856. It’s possible Joseph was not aware of her, though I’m not sure why when he had 5 half brothers & sisters.
- Details of all of Joseph’s children from both marriages are not listed. Joseph & Eliza had 5 children and Joseph & Mary had 6 children.
- By the time Joseph had died, Mary, his second wife was living in a defacto relationship with Michael Melverton and had 3 children to him during the early 1870’s.
Case 2: Death Certificate for Mary Melvyton, formerly Dilworth (maiden name Quirk)
The death certificate for Mary Melverton or Melvyton was registered in the NSW BDM indexes under both Melvyton and Dilworth.
Mary died in Boggabri in November 1911. Her cause of death is listed as ‘rodent cancer of the face’. She was 78 years of age. Father’s name is listed as ‘John Quirk’. Mother listed as ‘unknown’. The informant was J J Dilworth, her son (John James Dilworth). She was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland and had been in the colony of NSW for 59 years. The details of both marriages are listed, firstly to Joseph Dilworth, when she was 19 years and secondly to Michael Joseph Melvyton when she was 38 years. Five of her children to Joseph are listed, along with their ages, with one being deceased. Only 2 of her children to Michael are listed.
From that, I was able to work out the following:
- Doing a search of the NSW shipping indexes, I found a few Mary Quirk that were about the same age, but the only one that fitted was the Mary Quirke who had arrived on board the ship “Athenian” in 1853. (Reel 2137, [4/4791]; Reel 2464, [4/4928]. Her parents were listed as John & Catherine and she her native place was Kilkenny. She had an uncle Peter already living in the colony. A further check of the indexes and microfilm, I find not only find her Uncle Peter had arrived in 1852 (Ship Neptune) with his family but Peter’s two eldest children James and Margaret had arrived in 1849 on board the ship ‘Victoria’. Further checks on the indexes also find’s Mary’s brother, Patrick arrived in 1854 on ‘David McIver’ and her mother Catherine and her two sisters also came out in 1857 (Matoka).
- Mary had 3 children to Michael Melverton whilst still being married to Joseph. She did not marry Michael until 1887.
What is missing from the death certificate?
- Mary’s mother is listed as not known and her father’s name is listed as John. Mary’s mother Catherine came out to NSW in 1857 and died in 1891. Mary’s father, John though died late 1840’s in Kilkenny Ireland. From this, I would take it that maybe Mary’s children did not know their grandmother but Mary had talked about her father?