Unlock the Past Cruise 2013

clip_image002We are into Day 4 of the Unlock The Past Cruise 2013 and because of electrical problems are still in Noumea and will be missing out on Fiji – such is life at sea !! The ship Voyage of the Seas is huge and I am sure that many of the 140 participants will use today to explore the ship as no presentations are scheduled.

It has been a privilege and pleasure to be associated with the other presenters such as Jill Ball, – the genealogy techno whizz, Paul Milner who is speaking on British Isles records and Shauna Hicks an expert on Australian research. So far I have given my “London Cemeteries & their Records” and “Researching New Zealand Ancestors from afar” talks, both have been well received and I have been asked by Alan Philips of Gould Books who organises the cruise to speak on next year’s cruise.

I’ll upload some photos when I return home, the internet is horribly expensive on-board and it would clear out the bank account to do so whilst here !! Meanwhile I shall remain sitting beside the pool with an exotically coloured cocktail close at hand. Oh what a great life on the oceans waves!!



Jill Ball alias Geniaus has issued a challenge to other genealogists to share their positive genealogical experiences in 2012.

Here is Mad About Genealogy’s response Smile

1. An elusive ancestor I found ….. not so much elusive as waiting in the wings, I had been promising myself for ages that I would get round to finding out more about Enoch Willis who left Stanford in the Vale, Berkshire and emigrated to Dunedin, NZ. 2012 was Enoch’s year and whilst I have more to research on his children I have found out quite a lot about him already. Using the UK Newspaper collection on FindMyPast and the NZ Papers Past websites has been a great help. Hope Enoch didn’t disturb too many people when he and his wife got very drunk in Stanford and then roamed around the village in the early hours of one Saturday night in 1871 !!

2. A precious family photo I found …. photos of Albert & Gilbert Diddams which I found via Ancestry. They were put online by Antonia Parker. Not many of my ancestors seemed to have the spare shillings to have a photo taken so any images are always precious.

3. An ancestor’s grave I found….. my 2nd great Grandmother’s place of burial was found via DeceasedOnline. Caroline Cannon nee’ Warren was buried in the Cheshunt Burial Ground in 1894, she was only 59 years old and died of liver cancer.

4. An important vital record I found was ….. the christening of Susannah Sarah Clark , this lead me to her parents, her siblings and their families. I now just need the christening of William Clark who according to the 1841 census was born somewhere other than Middlesex around 1775, he died before the 1851 census when he would have been asked exactly which parish he was born in. Sad smile

 5. A newly found family member who shared … Maree Anderson has been so generous with information about Richard Elliott who emigrated to Australia leaving behind in Berkshire a rumour that my father’s family had someone who went to the antipodes !!

6. A geneasurprise I received ….. being awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the NZSG for commitment to the Bay of Islands branch.

7. My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was ….. starting to put family history lessons onto www.madaboutgenealogy.com.  As always I was surprised by what knowledge I had accumulated over the years and also humbled by the fact that there is so much more to learn.

8. My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was ….  Putting Your Family History Online For Free. Not sure why, but can only think that genealogists like the idea of publishing their research online and doing it for nothing!!

9. A new piece of software I mastered was …….. no new software this year, but I am still battling to find how I can solve Microsoft error 8024402f !!!!! I’ve tried everything that is recommended online and still it stops me doing updates. Some say it just disappears overnight so here’s hoping!!

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was …. I’m still very much a novice with regards to social media, but I do my best on Twitter, Google Plus & Facebook.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was…. Rootstech and National Archives UK Podcast series. Sigh … so much to learn and so little time.

12. I am proud of the presentations I gave at ……. Bay of Islands NZSG branch. Didn’t do too many presentations in 2012, but have some great booking in 2013. Always good to talk to family historians.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was ….. concentrated on my website so no journal/magazine writing in 2012.

14. I taught a friend how to ….. research her family history online by using lots of Google tricks and the wonderful and ever expanding Google Books.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was …. not a true genealogy book, but re-reading Peter Laslett’s book “The World We Have Lost – further explored” gave valuable insight into ancestors lives. If you haven’t read this book, then beg, borrow, steal a copy and enjoy the world of historical population studies.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was ….. British Library, I got to spend 2 fabulous days reading books and pamphlets which just aren’t available elsewhere. Good tip is to be there at least half an hour before it opens to get a seat and then don’t leave that seat vacant for the rest of the day. No seat ticket = no books.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was …. “The Victorian Celebration of Death” by James Stevens Curl. Published in 2000 I now have my own copy and it is THE book for understand the Victorians attitude to death. London cemeteries being a side interest of mind that goes hand in hand with genealogy.

18. It was exciting to meet ….. the team who run the Sandwich, Kent Archives. They were so welcoming and helpful and allowed me to handle documents hundreds of years old once they were satisfied that I knew what I was about. Will be back to visit them in May this year. Genealogy has some wonderfully knowledgeable volunteers.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was ….. a 10 week trip to England, luck enough to be going back again this year and hope to visited the Berkshire Record Office and the Museum of English Rural Life Open-mouthed smile

20. Another positive I would like to share is ….. that I feel lucky to have ‘found’ genealogy when you could handle documents at record offices and feel the dust of ages on your fingers and lucky that I am now able to sit at home and have scans of the same documents at a press of a button. I have experienced the best of both worlds.

The Tale of Two Marriages

clip_image002Today I have been helping a friend to climb over the brick wall he had hit a while back regarding his Irish ancestors. There is so much more on the internet now that he, his wife & I thought we would see if we could extend his family tree back another generation or two.

To cut a long story short, this ancestor had been in the British Army Pay Corp for 21 years, he enlisted in 1896 in co. Cork. We found his army pension record on Ancestry and he states that he married in Kingston upon Thames in 1902 and had 4 children born from 1905 onwards. “That’s not right” said my friend Wendy I’ve got a marriage certificate for that couple, they married in 1900 in Woolwich and they had a daughter in 1901.

We checked FreeBMD website and yes the couple married twice!!! Why goodness knows, but all we could think was that the first time had been without Army permission and to get his wife onto the army marriage list and therefore being paid a married man’s rate he had to produce a marriage certificate. The one for 1900 wouldn’t do as it would have him up on a charge with his senior officer for marrying without permission. So the only thing to do was get married again!!!

Anyone else come across this situation?

Technorati Tags: Genealogy,Family History

Extreme Genealogy


I get so many people telling me how hard they find it to “just concentrate” on their direct family lines back that it has set me thinking. In the “old days” when letters had to be written and weeks would go by before you got a reply, genealogy was taken at a leisurely pace. You really had enough difficulty finding your direct line of ancestors without worrying too much about those aunts, uncles and cousins who left the parish to find their fortune elsewhere.

Now of course with the advent of the computer and the internet (and didn’t genealogists take to that technology – like ducks to water!) we have the GRO indexes, census, military records and increasingly parish registers all at our fingertips and more often than not they are indexed. Finding your 3 cousin 7 times removed is as easy as typing in his name. It is no wonder that we gather in all those people who have blood ties how ever distant, it is all so easy.

So does it matter if you get side-tracked, are you less of a genealogist if you go sideways as well as up your family tree? Of course not. I have so often found cousins staying with cousins, aunts bringing up orphaned nieces and nephews, in-laws staying with in-laws all of whom give vital clues to help progress the pedigree backwards.

During a conversation the other day about this sideways research I decided that a name needed to be given to this new phenomena. Extreme Genealogy. You get extreme sports so why not extreme genealogy? I practise this type of research, I don’t necessarily go looking for all the cousins etc, but if I come across them then I record them. If they look as if they led interesting lives then I look a little deeper. I can get quite fond of some of my distant cousins and they can lead me into some interesting reading. Henry Pottinger who became the first Governor of Hong Kong and was central to the negotiations to end the 1st Opium War with China is my 8th cousin and is about to become my next focus of attention. He may only be a very distant cousin, but he sounds to be a very interesting chap!

Become a practitioner of Extreme Genealogy if you like, don’t feel guilty about it, you will be surprised where those distant cousins take you!

Technorati Tags: Extreme Genealogy,Henry Pottinger,Genealogy,Family History

Find My Past free offer gets overwhelmed


I don’t know how many of you tried to get onto Find My Past for their free access 3 hours whilst the England match was playing, but if you did then I bet you were as frustrated as I was about either not getting onto the site at all or if you did get onto it getting bumped off before you got a chance to take a look at anything!

Surely they must have realised that their site was going to get millions of hits during that 3 hour period especially at the start. It gave me memories of the debacle of the first launch of the 1901 census and I would have thought that Brightsolid would have known what to expect.

I’ll post something on the Mad About genealogy forum and perhaps you could tell me and others of your experiences!

Technorati Tags: Find My Past,Free access,genealogy. Family History