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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…