Three Generations of Actors

William John Roberts was an actor and comedian in the 19th century in England. I have written a little about him previously here. I’d found William in most of the census but not in 1881 or 1891 nor had I had much luck finding him in 19th century British newspapers, but that has all changed. Continue reading Three Generations of Actors

Matilda Read’s family – how wonderful is DNA testing?

My great great grandmother Matilda Sarah Ann Read was baptized on February 29, 1828 in Woodbridge, Suffolk two weeks after her birth.  Her mother was Matilda Read with no father given in the baptism register. Apparently no bastardy records survive for the church.  I’ve searched for Matilda Read (her mother) in Woodbridge without any luck.  There was one Read family but no proof that there was any connection to her.

Continue reading Matilda Read’s family – how wonderful is DNA testing?

What happened to Samuel Schofield, joiner of Rochdale

Imagine my shock on receiving my great great great great grandfather’s death certificate to find that he had hung himself.  According to the certificate he had ‘hung himself with a hempen cord in his own dwelling house being lunatic’. He was a joiner and there had been no sign in the census of anything untoward.

Continue reading What happened to Samuel Schofield, joiner of Rochdale

Lest we forget …..

During the past six months I have found some more extended family members who took part in military conflicts.  If you can add anything to any of these or have a photo of anyone I’d love to hear from you. As always any sources can be obtained by contacting me. Previously I have detailed other family members involved with the military that can be seen here: Anzac day, Anzac Day 2015, ANZAC Day 2016 and ANZAC day 2017 – Additional family military personnel.

Robert Collier

Robert was the son of Robert Collier (1797 – 1870) and his wife Elizabeth.  His grandparents were James Collier and Ann Walton.  Robert (married to Elizabeth) was a brother of Francis Collier (married to Mary Wardleworth for the Collier descendants).  Robert (1797 – 1870) migrated to America.  His son Robert was a private in the 50th Regiment in Pennsylvania.  He was discharged on 2 June, 1865 after 1 year.  His wife Charity applied for a widow’s pension which is how we know he enlisted.

Nesbitt and Robert Gregg

Nesbitt and Robert Gregg were two of the sons of William Gregg and Eleanor Nesbitt (we think Nesbitt is probably her maiden name).  They were born near Raphoe in County Donegal, Ireland and migrated to Pennsylvania in the 1840s (at different dates).  They both were in the civil war draft registration.

Spencer Murch Mumby

Spencer was the third husband of Esther Rowe and she in turn was the second wife of Benjamin Scarfe.  Benjamin had been previously married to Elizabeth Johnstone, a sister of Andrew Alexander Johnstone (who married Annie Hood) and daughter of John Joseph Johnstone and Elizabeth Pattison.  Elizabeth died after child birth. Spencer was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Hampshire Corp in 1879.   When he married Esther in 1899 in London he was ‘of New York’ and the son of the late Colonel Mumby, JP.

Edward Harold Row

Grandson of Mary Ann Kent and Joseph Row, Mary Ann was the daughter of Robert Kent and Jenny Pront and Robert the son (I believe) of John Kent and Mary Warren of Tavistock.  Edward was a clerk when he joined the Royal Artillery in 1886 and served in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from 1887 to 1890.

Emil Lyell Joseph Austin

Husband of Vera Selina Stokes who was the daughter of Elizabeth Ann Sims (the Boyd side) and William Henry Thomas Stokes.  Emil enlisted on 21 May 1918 toward the end of WWI and the war ended before he was sent overseas.  He was an engineering apprentice when he enlisted.

David Scott Boyd

David was the son of John Boyd and Jessie Watt and the great grandson of James Boyd who married Mary Brown.  David was a merchant seaman in WWI.

Douglas Gordon Elliot Brown

Douglas was the husband of Evelyn Watt Boyd Young who was the niece of the above David Scott Boyd.  He was a pilot in the 485 (NZ) Squadron, RAF New Zealand airforce and became a squadron leader.

Walter Herbert Castle

Elizabeth Britnell was the grandmother of Walter.  She was the grand-daughter of Jonah Britnell and Charlotte Rush.  Walter enlisted in the army service corp in England in 1917.  He was 38 years old and married to Amy Caroline Bird.

Angus Henry Gregg

Angus was the grandson of Richard Gregg and Catherine McKay and the genealogy connection here is interesting.  Richard was from near Raphoe in County Donegal and Catherine was from the Isle of Skye – who is the connection?  Or is it both?  Angus enlisted in 1917 when he was (probably) 17 years old.  (His birth was registered in 1900 in Victoria so he could have been born earlier).  He was a private with the AIF.  He married Beatrice May Evans in London in 1919 when he said he was 23. When he died in 1973 he was said to be 72 suggesting a date of birth of 1900.

Noel Hilton

Noel was born in Wardleworth, near Rochdale in Lancashire, in 1915.  He was the great grandson of Ellen Collier (daughter of Francis Collier and Mary Wardleworth) and James Hilton. His family emigrated to Australia when he was twelve years old. He enlisted in Adelaide in the RAAF at the outbreak of WWII and served until 1948.  He was an NCO.

Arthur Cuthbert Turner

He was the great grandson of Henry Gardiner Turner and Judith Sloggett (Sluggett) born in 1904 in St Kilda, Victoria.  He married Doris May Stapleton in Victoria in 1929.  He enlisted as a Flying Officer in the RAAF in 1943 when he was thirty-nine years old.  Arthur died in 1989 when he was eighty-five years old.







Scottish & German Roadshow Update

I attended the Scottish and German roadshow in Melbourne a few weeks ago.  Chris Paton predominantly spoke on Scottish and Irish sources.  No matter how much you know or think you know you always learn something.  Chris provided electronic handouts for his presentations but his British newspaper handout only provided links to the websites so I wished I’d taken notes.  A lesson learned – always take notes even if the presenter is providing handouts.  The list of websites was sufficient though.

Another talk was on British censuses and their substitutes.  I didn’t realize that the suffragettes boycotted the 1911 census so if you can’t find someone maybe they were a suffragette!  It’s even sadder that the Irish censuses were destroyed when you found out the information they contained.  Some highlights in their early censuses from 1821 included names, occupations, relationships, then from 1841 place and date of marriage and those who had died since the previous census.  An even greater loss to our family history study.


Another presentation was on Scottish records prior to 1800 which included land and inheritance records which I love.  I’ve spent many an hour ‘translating’ Scottish sasines.  A source I must look into more are the burgh records.  I’ve looked at some in Dumfries but need to explore some weavers from Dundee as well as others.

The following day Dirk Weissleder spoke on all things related to German genealogy.  It was interesting to hear that in Germany genealogy has predominantly been the domain of men but that it was changing.  Dirk had been surprised at how many women were involved in America, the UK and Australia.

Brandenburg gate
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

He really emphasised understanding the history and culture of Germany to understand their approach to genealogy which included the two world wars of last century.  An interesting fact was that Germans only retain a place in a cemetery for 25 years and in Munich only four before the grave is reused!  Perhaps a reason my first german to Australia forebears don’t have a stone marking their grave.  More likely their children didn’t pay to have one.

He offered practical advice to the group and individually offering and providing help where he could.  Their national German genealogy conference is coming up in late September in Dresden and how much fun it would be to go.  My command of the German language would not be good enough though.  He did stress a knowledge of German was helpful although Germans also struggled with reading the older German records.

It was an inspiring day and has caused me to update my German!

I was an ambassador for the event which was a first for me.


Are you attending the Scottish and German Roadshow this August?

Whilst reading a recent family history magazine from the United Kingdom I came across an article by Chris Paton a Scottish historian, ‘From Donegal to the Peninsular War’.  He was talking about his Scots/Irish family from Raphoe in County Donegal, Ireland.  This caught my interest as I have a number of families from the same area.  The McKnights, Dunlops, Greggs, Wilsons, Thompsons, Nesbitt and others. None of these names featured in his article but his ancestor, John Holmes was a shoemaker in Raphoe in the 1840s and my ancestors must have known him.

Cooladerry, near Raphoe

Chris Paton is one of two presenters who will be in Melbourne for a two day roadshow, ‘Researching Abroad, Finding European and British Isles Ancestors’ on 18 and 19 August. They are also going to Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Sydney.  I’ll be hoping to meet Chris and discuss our Raphoe connections.

The program is split evenly over the two days with Chris presenting on the first day in Melbourne.  The second day will have presentations by Dirk Weissleder whom I haven’t heard speak before.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend Rootstech earlier this year where he did attend.  With my German connections, the Erhardts, Mergenthalers, Doblers, Frohlichs and other names from the Waiblingen in the Wurttemberg region I’m looking forward to hearing firsthand about some new sources.

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Linen factory, Myslakowice (Erdamannsdorf)

I also have the Fiedlers and Siefferts from what was Erdmannsdorf in Silesia, Prussia and although this is now in Poland hope he will talk about records that encompass the Germans in Poland.  I have visited this area but only briefly to have a look at the countryside and need to go back again.

There is also a talk on DNA which I am very interested in having been on a huge learning curve over recent months.  I’ve tested my parents, myself, my sister and a cousin and looking forward to sharing research with my new found cousins.

Let me know if you’re going to the event in Melbourne so that we can catch up.  Further information can be found at Researching Abroad.

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Official Ambassador200 Roadshow 2017.jpg


As usual if you recognise any of these surnames and places I’d love to hear from you.


ANZAC day 2017 – Additional family military personnel

It’s ANZAC day again and time to catch up on the all the extended family members who served their country that I’ve found in the past year. Previous ANZAC days posts can be found here, here and here. Some of these men and women I have quite a bit of information on and others very little. If you know more about them, have photos or anything else I’d love to hear from you.

Continue reading ANZAC day 2017 – Additional family military personnel

MacIvor’s and McGillivray’s of Sleat on the Isle of Skye

Whilst re-checking some research to share with someone I delved more into my McGillivray / MacIvor line. My 4 x great grandmother Ann MacIvor married Archibald McGillivray.  He was the son of Charles McGillivray and Marion McLean. Archibald died in the late 1830s but Ann living until 1857 at Teangue, Sleat on the Isle of Skye.  Her son Angus (my 3 x great grandfather) was the informant on her death certificate.  He gave her age as 94 and her parents as Kenneth MacIvor and Marion MacInnes.

Continue reading MacIvor’s and McGillivray’s of Sleat on the Isle of Skye

James Boyd from Inchyra Village, Perthshire

James Boyd was born in Inchyra village on the River Tay on December 27, 1827.  His parents were James Boyd, a weaver and fisherman and Mary Brown.  James had six full siblings, Mary, John, Janet, Ann, Catherine and Alexander and one older half-brother David.  Tragically his father and two older sisters, Mary and Janet died in a six week period.  Mary was buried on 25 December 1840, aged 22, Janet was buried on 1 January 1841 and his father James on 7 February 1841.  They were all buried in Kinfauns cemetery which overlooks their village of Inchyra and the Tay.

Continue reading James Boyd from Inchyra Village, Perthshire

More collaboration – this time with the Baldwins & the Roberts!

Joseph John Baldwin and his wife Maria Roberts migrated toAustralia in 1852 with their seven week old son, Henry and Maria’s daughter from her first marriage Lottie (Charlotte).  I’ve had contact with a member of Maria’s sister Martha’s family who shared some photos that Maria had sent back to London to her sister Martha.  They had been handed down through Martha’s family and have now been given to me.  Martha Elizabeth Roberts married James Dartnall.  There was also a photo of their brother William John Roberts who was an actor and comedian.  My contact remembered seeing a playbill that one of his uncles had.  I haven’t been able to source any information about William John Roberts yet, beyond the normal census records etc.  Perhaps someone out there knows more?

Continue reading More collaboration – this time with the Baldwins & the Roberts!

Family history, stories and photos

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