Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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

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 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: – I note that they now have the UK Birth Indexes fully searchable. Refer to the blog for more information:  FindMyPastUK Blog – 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: (NSW Birth Death Marriages) (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) – 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: and Family Search Pilot site,where a lot more information is now becoming available.

So in summary: 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.

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:

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 –
  2. FamilySearch – Organzing 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:

General: My Pile of ‘research’.

Posted: July 11, 2010 in General

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.

Australian Geneaology Blogs

Posted: June 30, 2010 in General, Resources

It was good to see today that my blog had made it to the ‘Unlock the Past’ – list of Australian Genealogy & History blogs.

After watching all episodes of the Australian Version of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?, I was intrigued to find out that we were going to see the US version. The Australian version was great and am looking forward to more episodes. I just finished watching the first episode of the US show and it was on Sarah Jessica Parker and the show spent a great deal of time, showing Parker’s reaction to two discoveries in her family tree. She spends a great deal of time, saying ‘Oh My Gosh’ and “Wow’. Which for me, made me want to turn off. Not saying that anything she found out was not truly moving for her, but for me, the actual thrill in Genealogy research is actually finding something yourself. The show makes me feel that they are saying it’s easy to trace your family history. It’s not. I suppose if a show like this can make someone else out there want to trace their family history, then that’s great but they need to understand the time, cost and paitience it takes to do so.

The actual time and research it takes to trace your family history is often a slow and meticulous path, gatherng one small clue after another. It takes hours, days and for some lines, years to find that one small clue. For instance, my Ancestor, George Thomas Mathews, who was born around 1842 at Prospect New South Wales, parents unknown. I’ve never been able to work out when he died but according to the marriage certificates of his daughters (1896, 1897 & 1898), he was apprently deceased. I have checked every death certificate of a Geroge or Thomas Mathews but to date no luck. This has taken me more than 20 years. Every so, often I go back and check the indexes again, hoping to find that one. It was not until late last year when I created an account with World Vital Records Australia, that I actually found a tiny clue to his whereabouts. From the 1895 NSW Police Gazette, I found the following article:

“Boggabri -A warrant has been issued by the Boggabri Bench for the arrest of George Matthews, charged with unlawfully deserting his wife, Ellen Matthews, at Boggabri, since the 17th September last,leaving her without means of support. He is about 50 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, light hair, beard, and moustache, bow-legged, blue eyes, slovenly appearance, right leg has been broken and is shorter than the left leg ; a horse-driver and shearer. May probably be heard of at Woolshed Station, near Bundarra.Vide Police Gazette, 1895”

Unfortunately this does not give me any further information of what happened to George, but maybe one day, I’ll find that next clue.

These are my three favourite Genealogy Blogs.

Genealogy Bucket List

Posted: May 23, 2010 in General

My Bucket list of things to do and complete: I’ll add to the list as I go.

My GGG Grandmother, Mary Ryan or Hanratty, was born in the mid 1830’s at Dungog, New South Wales. No record of her birth has been found. According to her death certificate in 1909, her father’s name was Arthur Hanratty (Pig Merchant).

The following information is everything that I have been able to find on ‘Arthur Hanratty’. I am yet to establish if he was Mary’s father but investigations show he was living in the Dungog area in 1841.

  • Robert or Arthur Hanratty was born about 1806/1808 in Armagh Ireland. He came to New South Wales, on board the convict ship ‘Mangles 5’ in 1827. His name in is listed as Robert Hauraltly.
  • In 1834, Robert is listed in the Convicts Applications to marry Ellenaor Hanratty (alias Moran). The application was granted. From the marriage index it shows ‘Robert or Arthur Hanratty per Mangles 5 to Ellen Hanratty per Edward alias Moran, were joined in together in wedlock by me this 19th Day of September 1834 at Sydney.
  • From checking both the indents for Robert & Ellen, they were both tried at Monaghan, Ireland on the 7th August 1827. Robert was convicted of pick pocketing and Ellen for stealing money.
  • Robert Hanratty alias Johnston received a Certificate of Freedom on the 25th August 1834, (per Mangles (5).
  • We next locate an Arthur Hanratty in the State Records – CSreLand index. Item 2/7874 Reel 1136. This shows that he purchased two lots of land at Clarencetown. This is confirmed from the details in the Sydney Gazette dated 24/4/1841 and the deeds are dated: Deeds dated 25th February, 1841. Item 28 Arthur Hanraty. 2 roads, Clarence town lot and iItem 29 Ditto, 2 roads, ditto, lot 1
  • In the Hunter Valley Directory of 1841, Arthur is listed at: St Leonards, Dungong , purchased lands at Clarence Town.
  • It’s also noted that in the same Hunter Valley directory a Robert Johnston is listed at Boatfall, Dungong District. Maybe this is just a co-incidence.
  • From they Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser (NSW: 1803-1842 – date: 17th March 1842 – Arthur Henrietty and two other men (James Cox & Richard Cox) were indicated under a charge of feloniously killing and carrying away one cow, the property of Mr. Thomas Holmes, at a place called Russell Farm. Verdict not guilty.
  • The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803-1842) – Thursday 17 March 1842 – Arthur Henreity -indicted for feloniously stealing and killing, with the intent to carry away, three cows, the property of Mr Richard Lang. Arthur pleaded not guilty. The jury, after a short absence, returned a verdict of guilty. Sentence, fourteen years transporation.
  • After checking the Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence microfiche (1826-1872) I find the following information in reference to Robert Hanratty. A look at the original documents at the State Records office at Kingswood shows:
  • Item: 4/2638.5: 27th January 1844 – Robert Hanratty alias Johnston (Mangles 5), listed on a list of 50 prisoners being transferred from Cockatoo Island to Norfolk Island on the ship ‘The Duke of Richmond’. Sentence 14 years: Tried: 9th March 1842. I have yet to find any information on when Robert arrived at Cockatoo Island but from looking at the sentence and the trial date, that this is the same person as the Arthur Henreity that was convicted of killing the 3 cows. The ship ‘The Duke of Richmond’ was a convict ship that arrived in Hobart on the 2nd January 1844 with 111 convicts from England. The ship then left Hobart and arrived in Sydney on its way to Norfolk Island.
  • Item: 4/2658: 13th May 1844 – List of Prisoners employed as Domestic Servants to officers at Norfolk Island. Name of Officer: Rev William Welch, Name of Servant: Robert Hanratty.
  • Now this is where things are a little tricky. The following is in relation to an Arthur Hanratty (alias Arthur Clarke). Arthur Hanratty is listed with an Eliza Hanratty in 1856 on the Deposition Papers and convicted of Horse Stealing at Maitland. I am yet to find out what sentence Eliza received or what connection she had to Arthur but Arthur received a 5 year sentence ‘on the roads’.
  • After checking the Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence microfiche (1826-1872), I find the following information for Arthur Hanratty (alias Clarke). Item: 4/3382: Arthur Hanratty, alias Clarke is listed on a list of prisoners at Cockatoo Island who were considered for ‘convict indulgence’ during the month of July 1858. Arthur Hanratty: Ship: Indian Ocean, Tried: Maitland, When Tried: 14th May 1856,Offence: Horse Stealing and stealing a cart, Sentence: 5 years to be served concurrently,District to which Ticket of Leave to be issued: Goulburn Item: 4/507: 6th August 1863 – Petition of Arthur Clark or Hanratty a Prisoner at Cockatoo Island for release of his sentence after 3 years and 9 months. States his conduct has been good. He arrived at Cockatoo Island on the 9th October 1859.
  • NSW Police Gazette 1863 – Arthur Clarke or Hanratty, per “Indian Ocean,” 1853; convicted at the Criminal Court, Sydney, on 3rd October, 1859, of horse-stealing, and stealing a cart, and sentenced to 5 years on the roads ; again convicted at the Maitland Quarter Sessions, on the 14th May, 1856, on two charges of horse-stealing, and sentenced to 5 years to the roads, to be served concurrently.
  • In 1863, Arthur Clarke’s (alias Hanratty), Tickets-of-Leave was cancelled.
  • From the 1864 NSW Police Gazette: Arthur ANDREWS alias HANRATTY convicted on 2 counts of horse stealing. From Dr. Harris and Mr OAKES both of Parramatta. Tried April 1864 at Maitland Circuit Court, sentenced to 3years hard labour at Maitland Gaol. This is also located on the NLA Website ( Article 1 and Article 2).

General Comments

  • Are Robert Hanratty alias Arthur Hanratty (Mangles 5, who arrived in 1827) and Arthur Hanratty (Indian Ocean – 1853), the same person? They were of the same age, they lived in the same area in New South Wales, and were both born around the same time in County Armagh, Ireland.
  • From the Police Gazette in 1863 Arthur Hanratty, alias Clarke stated that he had arrived as an immigrant to Portland Bay in the year 1853. Checking the shipping indexes, the Indian Ocean arrived in 1854 to Portland Bay and there is no record of an Arthur Clarke, Arthur Hanratty, or Robert Hanratty (or various spellings) listed as a passenger on the Indian Ocean.

Next Steps

  • What happened to Robert Hanratty after his arrival at Norfolk Island in 1844?
  • Did he finish his sentence?
  • Did he receive a pardon, ticket of leave?
  • Did he return to New South Wales and if so, how? Or did he end up in Victoria and change his name to ‘Clarke’?
  • Eliza Hanratty convicted Horse Stealing in 1856, was she sent to H M Parramatta Gaol? A child named Robert Hanratty (parents Arthur & Eliza) died aged 2 at H M Parramatta in 1857. He was apparently born in Melbourne but a search of the Melbourne BDM indexes found no reference to a birth of a Robert Hanratty (or variant spellings) around 1855. So was Robert the son of Arthur & Eliza Hanratty who were convicted of Horse Stealing in 1856?