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I was in despair when I thought I was locked out of my blog account forever. WordPress had logged me out and my browser-saved password didn’t work. I had closed the email account associated with this blog account but luckily I could open it up again and get WordPress to send me a password link. I finally got access to update this blog again. What a relief.

I had not done anything – any research or follow-up regarding any family history for some months. But the need is there again, as I want to plan a trip to the UK to visit ancestral villages and do some research. Anyway, back into it.

My brother had done his DNA test with ancestry and was disappointed with the results. I am trying to get him to upload the data to GEDmatch. Ancestry have re-evaluated the ethnicity estimates, with less than satisfying results, now lumping in Northwest Europe with Britain which is effectively useless. Before, I had about 42% British and 25% Western Europe. Now it’s 74% Britain and Northwest Europe. Dumb.

I had done a LivingDNA test also, and had been very disappointed in the equally vague results but I logged in again to see if it was any more detailed. It appeared so. There was a breakdown which put Devon at the top of the British counties (and only 2% Scandinavian compared with 6% at ancestry). The Devon connection seems to affirm my theory that Christopher Dart, the Cornish miner, was born in Devon. I must try again to find his birth details.

Through GEDmatch I discovered a relative through my maternal grandfather’s mother’s line, so I have her family’s DNA too. I’ve never really felt anything for that side of the family. (It’s funny how some branches hold more interest than others.)

I also revisited myheritage where I had uploaded my DNA data. Their ethnicity estimate is really really vague, but they have useful connections with others whose DNA you share. I was able to see any common surnames and even trees of distant cousins without having to pay. Thus, I found a Powell connection, which I am delighted with. The son of my mother’s second cousin shares some DNA with me. I have always felt more for the Powell and Jones side of the family than any other. Interestingly, according to LivingDNA, I only have 5.4% and 1.4% South and North Welsh respectively. South surprised me. I had always thought the family were North Wales but there is obviously some migration there.

For the past few days I have been browsing rather aimlessly, looking for information on the Phillips/Rogers line (the source of my mitochondrial DNA) trying to get back further. No luck so far.

Somehow I got on to the family of William Wall, the brother of my great-great-great-great grandmother. I found his will and purchased it but the handwriting is difficult to read. I did discover his wife’s name, however, and could look for a marriage record. He married Margaret Perkin. One of the executors of the will was someone with the middle name of Perkin, so perhaps her nephew? The family had a tradition of using the mother’s maiden name as a middle name.

I looked back at my grandmother’s handwritten tree for the William Wall Jones family (William Wall Jones was the great nephew of William Wall). They lived at Condover Grange in Shropshire.I wanted to compare her tree with what I had since found, and what was still missing.

Gwen had entered three children: Percy, William and Edith or Gertie. I had found five children: Hannah Maria, William Wall, Sarah Anne, Agnes Edith, and Percy.

Gwen had Edith/Gertie marrying someone with the surname of Holt. The daughter of this Holt married a schoolmaster with the surname of Dixon and their son being Jeffrey Dixon, a clergyman. I found that it was Hannah Marie who married a John Hoult. Their daughter, Gertrude Hoult (probably the source of Gwen’s confusion) married Geoffrey Dixon, a schoolmaster, and later a clergyman. It was wonderful to see some of her notes confirmed or clarified. I was delighted to find them.

Gwen had William junior marrying someone with the surname of Reynolds (“aunt of Cissie”). Unfortunately, I don’t know who Cissie is. I found that William had married a Jane Stanyer.

Gwen had William’s children listed as Dakin, Edith Ward, and Gertie. The children I found were Edith May, Florence Mary, and Gertrude Wall. I’m not sure if Dakin was meant to be a first name or a female marrying a Dakin. I’ve found nothing yet.

Gwen had written that Percy died in Australia, but I cannot find records for his emigration to Australia or his death record.

So, there are still gaps but they’re closing, slowly.

Yesterday, I continued to search aimlessly, trying to fill more gaps but it’s a rather haphazard approach. I think I shall move onto planning a trip and note down exactly what I want to see and do.

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I haven’t updated lately, but that’s not to say I haven’t been dabbling.

I belong to a few genealogical pages on Facebook (and they’re’ the only reason I visit Facebook these days). You learn some interesting stuff there. I found out about ancestry’s “We’re related” app, which I thought would be bogus but interesting to see. When I finally got the thing working, it came up with six so-called famous people, three of whom I had never heard of, five of whom were American. It will take a bit of time to verify, especially as they claim that my ancestor Mary Poor was the daughter of someone called John Preble. They all reach back to the 16th century which also seems dubious. We’ll see.

More interesting, however, is familysearch’s version “Relative Finder”. Again, “famous” American people I’ve never heard of but I’ve looked at a couple and they do list ancestors I’m familiar with but reaching back another four or five generations, so I will verify those also – a much easier task as it’s all there in familysearch with sources. I can always double-check with the Cornwall OPC (yes the interesting Cornish ancestors yet again).

As a result, I’ve just spent all morning adding details to the Cornelius and Johns family (the parents of Elizabeth Cornelius, who married Christopher Dart, were John Cornelius and Ann Johns) with more to do. Somone has done a lot of research linking children and parents, going back to the 1600s.

Considering the many different surname changes from the supposed common ancestor to the famous person (through female lines), it’s no wonder I can’t find names in common when trying to link DNA matches. It’s extremely complex.

ancestry.com sucks. I signed up for a month and after not getting anywhere with the DNA results, decided just to search for stuff that I needed to using the records. It won’t let me, despite confirming that I’ve paid. Whenever I click on something to view the record it takes me to a subscription page.

I dislike ancestry. They promise so much and deliver fuck-all, and their results page leaves a lot to be desired. Like familysearch, why show me results that don’t fall into the parameters I specified. It’s a waste of time scrolling through irrelevant results.

Give me findmypast any day.

Edit: Well, it seems the sub I went for only included basic records (which appear to exclude parish records and anything before 1840), which are of no use to me, since I’ve exhausted pretty much all those records, so I asked to cancel, which they have done. I didn’t see any benefit in having a subscription for the DNA part of the site and dislike their search result display so goodbye ancestry.

Just a brief entry to express how disappointed I am. I had my DNA test done last year at ancestry and didn’t really do anything with it because I didn’t have a current sub. They wouldn’t show how people were related to you unless you paid up.  Well, I finally succumbed and paid for a month with ancestry and thought, right, what can you tell me, expecting to be able to contact lots of new genetically-related relatives to expand the tree. Well, the vast majority of them have no tree at all, and the rest have trees full of surnames which are completely different to everyone in my tree. How on earth would you figure out how you are related? So I paid my money and got precisely nothing out of it. The very first match did have a tree and the correct surname but they’re a beginner and had little information regarding our common surname. So I won’t get anything of interest from them either except for descendants.  Talk about hugely disappointing and, I felt, a waste of money.  As a resource for normal genealogical research I dislike ancestry, preferring findmypast, so that money could’ve gone back to findmypast to fill in gaps I’ve found during the past year. Huh.

Had to vent.

I really appreciate how this site has removed charging credits for searching, or at least you can see more from the search results without paying.  That’s really helpful, and I’ve come way further lately than I have in years.

However, it’s still comparatively expensive.  I bit the bullet and paid for some credits – 40, I thought, would be enough for a while.  At six credits per view, that didn’t last long.  £10 was gone in a flash. I managed to view (and, admittedly, save) two death entries, a marriage entry and two census returns – doesn’t sound much.  On one of the census returns, the entry was over two pages so I had to pay 12 credits – hardly seems fair.  By comparison, if I’d paid £20 for a month at FindmyPast, I could have searched and viewed hundreds of entries.

I do wish they’d change their payment method.  But, of course, they won’t because they’re raking in the cash this way.  Damn them.  My Scottish research will have to wait, still.

Just a week ago I signed up for a “free” trial with findmypast.co.uk and in that time, with just two days of research, I have filled in numerous gaps.  Their search engine is vastly superior to ancestry and familysearch.  They only display relevant results which makes a vast difference!  I don’t waste my time clicking on results which do not meet my search criteria.

I had a word file of particular details that I wanted for a range of different ancestors.  Slowly, I have made my way through them and crossed them out as I got a positive result.  I have noted the positive and negative results on my “research log”.

Last week I found the births or baptisms for Thomas Mudd, Elizabeth Potter (also her death), and clarified births, marriages and/or deaths for some of the Rose family.

Today I met with even more success, finding the baptism (and parents) of Mary Chariot and the marriage of those newly found parents, the marriage of John Beale’s parents, the burial of John Cornelius, the burial for Thomas Gruncel, the likely baptism and death of Sarah Kercher (nee Lee), and a baptism for Sarah Barnett.  For years I had been searching for the baptisms of Sarah Exel and Esther Webb, never having found anything remotely possible, but today I found a possible baptism for a Sarah Exall AND I found Esther (aka Hester) Webb!  That was the biggest prize, finding Esther.  Those records were probably sitting there all this time, buried in all the irrelevant results from stupid search engines.  Even when I know exactly what I’m looking for and that it exists, I always drew a blank on both ancestry and familysearch.  Findmypast also has British newspaper records with a good search engine so I have started to find little articles such as John Rose standing for council.

I recently received my DNA results from ancestry.  The ethnicity is not a surprise but ideally I need a subscription to view any matches.  I’m reluctant to give ancestry any money.  I’ve usually found them disappointing (see above comments re search results).  I think I’ll wait until my findmypast sub expires and then think about it.  I’m no hurry.  In the meantime, I have uploaded my results to Gedmatch but don’t really know what to do.  It’s all gibberish to me with its 31.6 cM 4th cousin match.  What is one supposed to do with that information?  Presumably the person you match has a tree with similar surnames?  Who knows?  I need a “DNA for genealogy” for dummies, with them spelling out exactly what to do.  The help I’ve received so far still doesn’t help.  When it comes to numbers, my brain freezes.

In the meantime, I’m happy enough continuing with the more traditional search on findmypast.

I haven’t achieved much since the last post.

I’ve been making spreadsheets.  One of them is a summary of what I have in the way of birth, death and marriage certs and census returns.  I can tell at a glance what I need to follow up with.  Another is a timeline from the 17th century to the 20th, which is rather interesting, comparing families and national (British) events.  The third is an ancestor chart showing direct links only.  I designed it to give to my brother at Christmas.  I hope he finds it useful or interesting.

I came across a transcript of a shipboard diary written in 1861 of a traveller journeying from London to Auckland.  I found it very interesting.  It got me to thinking of my two ancestors who emigrated to Australia – one to Port Adelaide and another to Sydney.  I can’t find specific diaries for the ships they were on or the years, but I did find an interesting book called “Life and death in the age of sail: the passage to Australia” by Robin Haines.  The library had an electronic copy and I tried to download it (for a seven-day period).  However, first I had to make an account, then I had to download Adobe Digital editions, then I couldn’t get it to work.  I gave up.  Instead I found a  hard copy selling online, so purchased it.  I’d much rather have the physical book to browse through when convenient.  I read excerpts from the online version and it’s fascinating reading.  It makes me wonder how my ancestors found their voyages.  One of them lost a baby on board – how heartbreaking that must have been.

Well, I’ve got something out of joining the NZ genealogical society – reference to a very useful toolbar full of genealogy links.  The Manchester/Lancashire family history society developed it – brilliant idea.  I don’t have any family history related to that area but the links are broad – including some very useful Australian links, Scottish, Irish, etc.  You can download it here.

Yes, I finally received the NZSG magazine (after joining in April).  It doesn’t have a great deal in it relevant to me.  For a start they list some very handy workshops but they’re all based in Auckland.  Too bad if you don’t live in Auckland.  The national fair is in Hamilton.  Ditto – too bad.  Naturally there were lots of articles related to New Zealand records.  This I expected.  It did have an article about writing up the family tree which was quite handy – and, of course, mention of the handy toolbar.

I then had another think about regional family history societies and if Manchester were so onto it (obviously miles ahead of paper-based societies) I wondered how the Hampshire society fared.  I was a member of the society back in the 90s (pre-internet).  Surely now it would be very useful.  So I went online and lo and behold you can join online from overseas for a very reasonable £13 – way better than the $80 for the NZ fee and probably more useful.  So I joined.  There is even free postage for the magazine (why these are not online, I don’t know).  So at least UK societies finally acknowledge the internet, unlike many Aussie societies (or so it seems).

I received some more titbits of family info from my aunt in Australia (now 89).  She pointed out that parents and grandparents back then didn’t talk about their childhood and families – something which I had been aware of but had forgotten.  What a shame.  Think of the rich histories we’d have if they had done!

So two updates which didn’t involve any research on my part really.

I received the death certificate of my grandmother, which for some reason, I hadn’t got before (I have all the other grandparents’ death certificates). I particularly wanted hers because I wasn’t sure of the date. My great aunt had had a headstone made some years after the death and had put 2nd November (which happens to be my birth date) but I knew it couldn’t have been that because I have a sympathy letter addressed to my mother dated 1st November. I figured, allowing for the post, that the death was probably on 31st October. The death certificate, however, said 1st November. So that’s one mystery solved.

Today I received a message via Facebook from a distant relative in Australia. He told me he’d found reference to a probable relative involved in the agricultural riots of the 1830s. Exciting stuff. The first name doesn’t ring a bell on my particular tree but as it took place very close to the ancestral village, I imagine he is related somehow.

Also exciting is that my cousin on the Scottish grandmother side, has a subscription to Scotland’s people which has a monopoly of all the Scottish records and has offered to give me log-in details to use before the sub expires as she doesn’t have time to use it. Brilliant! I’ll have to put aside time especially to do as much as I possibly can in the short time period.

All for now…