This week’s challenge is to “Practice reading handwriting. Deciphering the penmanship of our ancestors is an exercise in patience, but this is a great skill to have in your genealogy tool box”.

This challenge couldn’t have come at a better time.

Late last year, I obtained some Scottish Precognition Trial Papers for my ancestor Dennis McCormack who was convicted of assault in 1834 and in 1838 was sentenced to 7 years transportation to NSW again for assault.  I have managed to transcribe the trial papers from the 1834 trial, though there were a number of words I haven’t been able to work out and was half way through the papers from the second trial in 1838 but stopped half way through and I’ve telling myself to finish but something always comes up.

Both sets of papers have statements from the victim/s, witnesses, doctors, and police and from Dennis himself.  All statements have been written by different persons, such as the police constables and doctors. The statements from each of the witness and victims were not written in their own hand, as they could not read or write, except in the case of one witness. So there is different handwriting to decipher.

The papers for 1834 are interesting in themselves, as the victim ‘Helen Cooper’ declares in a separate statement declares that she was unmarried but had lived with Dennis as his wife and that she had ‘borne him three children’ and had ‘lived with him for 7 years’.  Not knowing much about early Scottish history, it seems they were together from an young age, as from the descriptions Dennis was ‘about 20’. Helen’s age is not shown in the documents. I do think Dennis was actually born in Ireland as his convict record shows that he had a shamrock tattoo.

Summary from the 1834 papers is below:

AD 14/34/53 – July 1834:

  • On the 20th July 1834, Dennis attacked Helen Cooper and Eliza Burnet.  Eliza Burnet was living in the house of Helen Cooper.  He attacked Eliza with a stick to the head about 2 times and Helen with a stick to the head 4 times and cut her head with a knife
  • That Helen Cooper was about 22 years of age
  • Dennis McCormick was aged about 20 years of age (though later records indicate that he was more likely 22)
  • That Helen had lived with Dennis as his ‘wife’ for seven years and they had 3 children.  This would make them around 14/15 when they began their relationship. No details of the children are recorded in the papers  I have since done a search of the http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ for the possible births/baptisms of these three children have not been able to find any record of them.
  • A Marion Iver aged between 9 & 10 was also living in the house.  Her statement indicates that no one else was in the house.
  • Dennis had been intoxicated and outraged when he attacked both women.
  • Dennis was sentenced to 18 months at Bridewell Greenock.

It’s now time to go back and finish transcribing the 1838 papers and then take another look at the 1834 papers to work out the words I couldn’t previously decipher.

The below are the online databases or websites that I have looked at today and the corresponding information I have found for my ancestors.

Family History South Australia

  • HURST Frederick John arrived 1848-12-05 on Hooghly from London 1848-08-24 v Plymouth
  • HURST John married DOHERTY Eliza on 1850-02-20
  • HARRIS George Peter, adult, married FISHER Caroline, adult, on 1854-11-14 at Wesleyan Chapel, North Adelaide
  • HURST Frederick John arrived 1848-12-05 on Hooghly from London 1848-08-24 v Plymouth [Source:6,8,20].  I note that the Hooghly is not listed on the ‘The Ships List’ site.
  • FreeBMD (UK)
    • Harris George Peter – Age 51 Lewisham  (Kent) 1d 602
  • Adelaide Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858-1889) Saturday 7 March 1874

In the Matter of the ESTATE of GEORGE PETER HARRIS, formerly of Adelaide, in the province of South Australia, but late of Shooters Hill, in the county of Kent, in England, Ironmonger, Deceased. Notice is herby given in pursuance of clause No 24 of Act No.6 of 1860 or of any other Act relating there to that the CREDITORS of the above named George Peter Harris, who died on or about the 26th Day of November, 1873 at Shooters’ Hill aforementioned are, on or before the 30th November 1874 to SEND by post, prepaid to the Undersigned the Solicitors of the executors’ of the will of the Said George Peter Harris, deceased their Christian and Surnames, addresses and descriptions, the full PARTICULARS of the claims, a statement of their accounts, and the nature of the securities (if any) held by them or in default thereof, they will be peremptorily exclude from the benefit of enforcing their claims against the estate of the said George Peter Harris, deceased which is now in course of the administrators of the said Executors.

Dated this 25th Day of February 1874.

STOW & AYERS

Wayrouth Street Adelaide

I have been trying to determine when my ancestors William & Mary Thomas died

William Thomas

The only possible death record in SA that I have been able to find that matches to William is this:

Surname: THOMAS
Given Names: William
Date: 1882-08-30
Sex: M
Age: 73y
Status: N
Relative: (not recorded)
Residence: Wallaroo Mines
Death Place: Wallaroo Mines
District Code: Dal

Note: I’m not sure what the N against Status means.  I’ll have to try and find out what it means. Maybe that’s a clue in itself.

Today I received a ‘transcript’ of the death which follows:

  • William Thomas 73y a miner,
  • Died 30 August 1882 of senile decay at his residence at Wallaroo Mine
  • Informant R S Haddy:
  • Undertaker at Kadina
  • Registered by D W Sands at Kadina
  • Entered in District Registry Office 19 Sept 1882 by John Clark  District Registrar

The age of this William and the area fits to mine, but seeing that there were a number of William Thomas’s in the Wallaroo area, I have to wait and see if I can find some other piece of information to determine if this is the right one or not.

Mary Thomas

An entry found in the Adelaide Advertiser, shows the following. I’m yet to determine if this is the wife of my William.

“Adelaide advertiser 14/09/04. The friends of the late Mrs. MARY THOMAS, Relict of the late William Thomas, late of Wallaroo Mines, are respectfully informed that Her funeral will leave, the residence of their DAUGHTER (Mrs. H Vivian, Pulteney Street). on THURSDAY, at 1 p.m., for West Terrace cemetry”

I’ve been advised that the daughter’s first name was Jane and that her husband was Henry Vivian.

William and Mary’s children were:

  • Mary  (1833) – listed in the 1841 UK census, aged 8.  Not listed with the family in 1851, but she may have married by that stage.
  • Jane (1834) – in UK 1841 Census, age 5,(making her birth year to be 1836)  but in the 1851 census she is listed as being 17 (making her birth year to be 1834)
  • Elizabeth (1837) – married John Easterbrook
  • William (1840) – married Asneath Dunn
  • John (1842) -
  • Richard (1844) – married May Nankervill
  • Edward (1846) – married Jane Clark
  • Grace (1849) – married Richard Mitchell
  • James (1853) -

Other information on William Thomas:

William was born around 1809 in Cornwall, England.  He is listed as being 30 in the 1841 UK Census. In the 1851 UK Census, he is listed as being 42 and born ‘Sithney, Cornwall’.  The shipping record shows that William was born at Camborne, Cornwall.

William Thomas and his wife Mary came to Australia with their children on board the ship Utopia, which arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia 9th July 1858

Thomas William 48 Miner 1596/3 Camborne, Cornwall With Family
Mary 46
Richard 13
Edward 11
Grace 8
James 5

Their eldest two sons were listed as ‘single’ men on the shipping records

Thomas John 16 1593/2 Camborne, Cornwall With parents
Thomas William 18 1596/3 Camborne, Cornwall With parents

Elizabeth Thomas (daughter of William & Mary) also arrived on the ship Utopia but with her husband John Easterbrook

Easterbrook John 23 Copper Miner Redruth, Cornwall
Elizabeth (Thomas) 24

What I need to do next:

  • Determine the following information in relation to Jane Thomas (the daughter of my William & Mary)
    • Who did she marry?
    • Did she come out to Australia?
    • If she did come to Australia, did she marry  before or after her arrival?
    • Check for the surname of the Jane Nankervill that arrived on the ‘Gilmore’ in 1857 with her husband James. The Nankervill family is connected to the Thomas family by way of Richard Thomas (born 1844) who married Mary Nankervill.
    • Check Shipping list of Henry Vivian who arrived in SA in 1864.
    • Check the NLA website for any reference to William & Mary Thomas.  Some of the SA papers are not yet online. (articles are listed as ‘coming soon’).
    • I note the following death in 1907 for ‘Henry Vivian’
      • VIVIAN.-On the 6th September, at Wakefield Street Henry, dearly beloved husband of Jane Vivian, late fitter Islington workshops and Kadina, aged 66 years 9 months.



The name comes from the Gaelic “O’Cuirc”, another form is “O’Coirce”. In Galway, the name also took the form “Oates,” to distinguish between branches of families. Quirke in Gaelic sounds like the word for Oates in Gaelic. It was common for parish registers to have a person’s records include both spellings of Quirke and Quirk, if an unrelated person such as a neighbour was sent to register the birth, the name was not always spelled correctly.

James and Alice Quirke were married around 1796 at Tipperary, Ireland and soon after moved to Mount Nugent, St Johns Well, Kilkenny Ireland. Their children were:

Peter Quirke – (1798-1863)

John Quirke – (1814-c 1850)

Thomas Quirke (1821-1866)

Nicholas Quirke (details unknown)

They also had another 6 males and 2 females, of which details of their names are unknown . A few years ago, a distant cousin that I was in contact with, sent me a copy of a document that was written by Thomas Quirke (b:1834-d:1908) In this document Thomas writes about his life and experiences but the most interesting thing was that he wrote about his parents and grandparents.

Who were the Quirke’s who came to Australia

Many of the Quirke Family came out to Australia between 1849 & 1865. Of which my GGG Grandmother, Mary Quirk was one, who had arrived on the ship Athenian in 1853.

First Name Birth Date Native Place Ship Name Arrival Date Reel Numbers Comments
Margaret Quirk Abt 1828 Goran, St Johnswell, Kilkenny, Ireland Victoria 2nd Sep 1849 Reel 2136, Reel 2460, [4/4915] Sister to James
James Quirk Abt 1824 Goran, St Johnswell, Kilkenny, Ireland Victoria 2nd Sep 1849 Brother to Margaret
Peter Quirk Abt 1798 St Johnswell, Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 6 Feb 1852 Reel 2136; Reel 2463, [4/4926] Father to Margaret & James above
Mary Quirk Abt 1814 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 6 Feb 1852 Wife of Peter Quirke, maiden name Connon
Michael Quirk Abt 1832 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 6 Feb 1852
John Quirk Abt 1835 Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 6 Feb 1852
Mary Quik Abt 1849 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 8 Feb 1852
Nicholas Quirk Abt 1839 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 8 Feb 1852
Thomas Quirk Abt 1834 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 8 Feb 1852
Peter Quirk Abt 1842 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Neptune 8 Feb 1852
Mary Quirk Abt 1831 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Athenian 15 Dec 1853 An Uncle Peter Quirk living in Sydney
Patrick Quirk Abt 1835 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland David McIver 18 Dec 1854 Reel 2137; Reel 2466, [4/4937] Sister Mary living in Sydney
Catherine Quirk Abt 1811 Tipperary, Ireland Matoaka 22 Jan 1857 Reel 2138; Reel 2476, [4/4970] Mother of Mary Quirke & Patrick, maiden name Slattery
Margaret Quirk Abt 1840 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Matoaka 22 Jan 1857
Catherine Quirk Abt 1842 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Matoaka 22 Jan 1857
Thomas Quirk Abt 1821 St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Nile 4 May 1861 Reel 2139, [4/4796] Brother to Peter Quirk
Mary Quirk Abt 1846 Lancaster, Lancashire, England Nile 4 May 1861
Johanna Quirk St Johns Well, Kilkenny, Ireland Nile 4 May 1861 Mother of Mary Quirke & Wife of Thomas Quirke

A searchable index of the NSW Assistant Immigrants is available on the NSW State Records website.  You can also scroll through the digital copies of the Bounty Immigrants lists, 1838-96, ship by ship. These digital copies are the Agents Lists and the reels numbers range between 2134 & 2137. More detailed shipping lists can be found on the reels that begin with 24 and these can be found at your local library or at the NSW State Records.  These show more detail such as names of parents and comments such as ‘Uncle Peter Quirk, living in Sydney’.

1847 – 1864 Griffith’s Valuation

James Quirke acted as a landlord for a man named Millet at Mount Nugent. After James died his son John was appointed Agent for the landlord and held the position until he was accidentally killed by being crushed between a gate post and a vehicle.

County: Kilkenny

Parish: Rathcoole

Lessor: James Millet

Townland: MountNugent – Lower

Nicholas Quirle – Land. – Total net value of Land : £3.

Peter Quirke – House, Office & Land. – Total net value of Land/Buildings: £18.5

William Quirke – House, Office & Land. – Total net value of Land/Buildings: £13.10

Townland: MountNugent – Upper

Nicholas Quirke – Land. – Total net value of Land : £4

Catherine Quirke – House, Office & Land. – Total net value of Land/Buildings: £3.5 – cannot be sure, but I think this Catherine is possibly the wife of John Quirke (who died prior to 1850).

Nicholas Quirke – House, Office &Land. – Total net value of Land : £21

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’.

http://wp.me/PVZrr-2m

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.findmypast.co.uk – I note that they now have the UK Birth Indexes fully searchable. Refer to the blog for more information:  FindMyPastUK Blog

www.findmypast.com.au

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:

www.familysearch.org and Family Search Pilot site,where a lot more information is now becoming available.

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.

http://geniaus.blogspot.com/

http://fanningknightonfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/

Enjoy…..

What I Do

Posted: July 13, 2010 in What I do

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

* Graphics:

* 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:

Surname Saturday – Baldwin

Posted: July 11, 2010 in Surnames

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:

  1. 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
  2. FamilySearch – Organzing Your Files – https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Organizing_Your_Files
  3. GeneaBloggers - (especially on the ’52 Weeks to better genealogy’)
  4. 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).
  5. 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: