Monday, 12 February 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 6, Favourite Name

So, I have said it before – I’m a bit of a name nerd. This topic “Favourite name” is hard for me. How do I choose?

Names are one of the things that attracted me to genealogy in the beginning.
Why did some families just use the same names over and over again? Why did some families give their children two names, or three names or more? Let’s face it more than three is a bit over the top, but there are some which do sound great, have a pleasing meter.

Why did some families give their children names and then call them something completely different? Why did some children get one name and others two – did the ones with only one name feel gypped? Why did some get much used names, then one sibling a really out there name?

So, which name to choose?

Alianore Mary Christina Cameron-Ramsay-Fairfax-Lucy – love the sound of that one;
Minnie Mildred – there are a bunch of girls with this moniker. But I have mentioned them before.

I am eternally grateful to my forbears that they did give some thought to the “sound” of the names they bestowed on their children and the pairing of names with each other and the surname.

Emma Louisa, my great grandmother and her siblings all had names which sounded great. My grandmother Elsie Lilian did too.

Any name that is a little different gets bonus points for me. Kerenhappuch, Roxillana, Vergetta, Zenobia, Balthasar, Julius, Mowbray, Cornelius. They make research a little easier than just searching for Ann and James. Then there are the ones with clues to the past where a surname has been added as a helpful hint for researchers.

But, the name for today is Peternell, sometimes recorded as Peternall/Peternel/ Petronel or Petronella.

Peternell Eastment was my 5xgreat grandmother. She was born in East Chinnock, Somerset about 1733. Her parents were married there, in Blessed Virgin St Mary, eleven years earlier and there are 3 daughters and 1 son appearing in the baptisms for them in the years before Peternell’s baptism on 5 November 1733.[1]

Peternell lived her whole life in East Chinnock, marrying Richard Bartlett on 7 April 1760 in the same village church.[2] She and Richard had a family of seven, all but one reaching adulthood. Two of her sons included her name in their choices for their own daughters, and at least one grandson followed suit.

Many of her grandchildren left East Chinnock. Some moved to other counties in England, others emigrated to Australia and New Zealand – and quite likely to other colonies; America, Canada and South Africa. Although she did not live to see them leave, dying in March 1816, I wonder how she would have felt.[3] Would she have understood their curiosity to explore new lands and seek new opportunities far away from the only place she had ever called home?

[1] FreeReg, 'FreeReg',, Accessed 12 February 2018.
[2] FreeReg, 'FreeReg'.
[3] FreeReg, 'FreeReg'.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 5, In the Census

Searching for connections and reconnecting

Back in the early 1990’s when the 1881 UK census was the only census available freely to researchers with roots in the United Kingdom, (and only on CD or microfiche) many researchers spent hour upon hour trawling through fiche after fiche in darkened Family History Centre rooms and libraries.

We had only begun piecing together information in my maternal grandmother’s family from the little information she had given away to us over the years. My Dad and I spent hours in the evenings at the Family History Centre reading church records hoping to find something concrete. Sometimes we went alone.

We knew from Nana that her mother’s family was from the “Black Country” and that she had a brother. We also knew that Nana’s grandfather married three times and that she also had two half siblings. Her mother’s brother and a half-brother (although I don’t think that Nana referred to him as such) had emigrated to the US. We knew their names and the names of their wives. We also knew an elderly aunt had emigrated to the US.

Between 1989 and 1991 some certificates were purchased from the GRO and we discovered that my great grandmother had been born in Wolverhampton on 17 July 1878[1], and that her parents were married in Dudley in a Primitive Methodist Chapel on 23 August 1875[2] (a WHAT !!?? – researching Primitive Methodism soon became another obsession). We also learned that her mother died in Wolverhampton on 5 May 1879[3]. What became of the children ?

I remember Dad’s jubilation when he returned home one day from the library with a piece of paper detailing the residents of one household in Dudley.

Residence: Paradise, Dudley (Worcs), Staffordshire, England[4]
Henry James
Leintwardine, Herefordshire, England
Elizabeth James
Leintwardine, Herefordshire, England
Albert Kelsey
Grand Son
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Laura Kelsey
Grand Daughter
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Amnie H Richards
Mold, Flintshire, Wales

So, here she was, living with her grandfather and aunt…and a cousin ? To be fair, we didn’t make much more progress until the arrival of that wonderful phenomenon – the internet. I dabbled, I joined Ancestry in 2002.

One day (5 March 2003) while dabbling, I came across a post on a bulletin board -remember those ? Someone in the US had come across that same census entry. She was looking for more information about the Henry James family, last known living in Dudley with a daughter, niece and two grandchildren. I posted a reply, from work. Could it be ?

On returning to work the next morning there was a reply email. Needless to say, not much work was done that day. I couldn’t wait to get home. I replied, I sent the email to my Mum and Dad, I rang them to make sure they checked and read their email. I was dancing on air. The poster, was the great granddaughter of my great grandmother’s brother Albert who had emigrated to the US. We are 3rd cousins. We knew they existed somewhere in the US – they had no idea we were down here in New Zealand searching the same tree.

Since then we have filled out the family so much more, broken some brickwalls down and reconnected with other members of the extended Kelsey family all over the planet. There are still some brickwalls to smash, but to think this all began with people on opposite sides of the Pacific, reading microfiche in Family History Centres and libraries.

[1] Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth, Laura Ellen Kelsey, General Register Office, England.
[2] Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage, Thomas Kelsey and Mary James, General Register Office, England.
[3] Certified Copy of an Entry of Death, Mary Kelsey nee James, General Register Office, England.
[4] "England and Wales Census, 1881," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2017), Henry James in household of Henry James, Dudley (Worcs), Staffordshire, England; from "1881 England, Scotland and Wales Census," database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing p. 2, Piece/Folio 2881/23, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey; FHL microfilm 101,774,821., accessed 4 February 2018.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 4, Invite to Dinner

The prompt for this week “Which ancestor would you most like to invite to dinner?”

Well ! There are a few contenders to choose from.

All of my grandparents – to be able to ask all the questions we didn’t ask and to share what we have already found. They’d be amazed, I think.

A couple of great-great-grandparents, the ones we know a little less about. Maybe a few even further back. But I think the obvious one to choose would be one of my maternal great-great-grandparents.

Julius Fuller.

He has been a brick wall since forever, at least 40-50 years. There were all sorts of stories about him, most have turned out to be just that. Stories. Warped with time and telling. All my other brick walls have been slowly broken down. But Julius just refuses to give anything up !

What do we know ?

·         His father was William, a miller. (source: marriage certificate & death certificate)
·         His mother Elizabeth. (source: 1851 UK census)
·         He was born in Essex (source: 1851 UK census and death certificate)
·         He, himself was a journeyman miller and later a miller in his own right. (source: 1851 UK census & NZ electoral rolls and newspapers)
·         His wife was the daughter of a baker & confectioner. (source: marriage certificate, baptismal records and 1841 & 1851 UK census’)
·         They married between census’ and then left for New Zealand in 1860 leaving no further clues in England (apart from a niece and nephew who were named for them both, shortly after they left).
·         They had only two children.
·         He had several mills in Canterbury, New Zealand
·         His wife died when the children were relatively young
·         He may have remarried.
·         He died at his son’s residence a few months after his youngest sons marriage.

The stories

·         His wife died, or left him (and went to Australia) and he needed to find a wet-nurse. WRONG, the children were eighteen and twelve when their mother died.
·         He married again, and this wife ran off with all his money (source: letter from Auntie Hilda to Mum & Dad, Intentions to Marry & church records Christchurch Library)
·         His son John lived with the Turner family down the road from his future wife. WRONG (I think) he lived with his elder brother in the house that later became the Turner’s – and Julius lived there too until his death.

So, please come to dinner Great-great-grandpapa Julius, I’ve got so many questions for you.

·         Where you really born in Rayne, Essex ? I’ve been there you know, no sign of you anywhere.
·         When were you born ?
·         Were you baptised ? Where ?
·         What was your mother’s maiden name ?
·         Do you have any siblings ? specifically one named Henry who might have gone to Australia ?
·         Was that your sister Mary Ann who married your future brother-in-law Thomas Horskins ?
·         Where were your parents from ? When did they die ?
·         Did you know your grandparents ?
·         Were you gypsies ?( your great-great-great-granddaughter’s question – not mine)
·         Where did you learn your trade ? Did you serve as an apprentice somewhere ?
·         Did you meet your nephew Julius when he toured New Zealand in his role with the Salvation Army ?
·         Did you really marry Ellen Morris ?
·         Was she the woman who went to prison in Wellington for attempting to defraud an insurance company after a fire at her millinery business ?
·         What happened at Pleasant Point to put you in arrears ? Was that Ellen taking your money ?
·         What happened to her ?

It would be great to know a little more about you.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Where to from here ?

So, it’s been six months and it is looking like Bendigo isn’t all that it seemed, or that I had hoped.

Admittedly even at the outset, it did feel as if the job market was smaller and slower than other potential destinations, but I didn’t expect that it would be this small, insular or nepotistic. I’ve lost count of how many roles I have applied for, but can count the interviews on one hand.

I have started applying further afield, not quite in Melbourne, but closer. Having no car is a bit of a pain – just for the impulsivity and convenience more than anything. Public transport takes about the same time to get places anyway. On the plus side, all the walking is doing me good healthwise.

Now, it is back to that catch-22 – move and hope someone will rent me a property while still looking for work, or travel back and forth to interviews; get the job and THEN find somewhere to live. What is that ABBA song ?

Meanwhile, I still really LIKE Bendigo – even if the heat takes all the fun out of enjoying the outdoors right now. It is such a walkable little city, filled with parks and ancient trees, birdlife and other creatures, community events…

On the other hand, the little city which is trying to promote itself as the place to be in regional Victoria is struggling to keep retailers in town. So many stores have become empty since we arrived. Planning for the future and sustainability sounds optimistic, but seeing anything come of it seems like it is a l-o-n-g way off. Home building is exploding – but the house market seems sluggish too. Almost like development for development’s sake, and the buy in regional Victoria housing assistance schemes don’t seem like such a great deal if there is no work to be had.

SO frustrating because I could really make a home for myself here. Maybe in another life.

2018 I have hopes that you will be better than 2017 – so far, not convinced. Already, plans to make a trip back to NZ early this year have been shelved. (Anyone know anyone looking for Ed Sheeran tickets in Dunedin ?)

In other news, if I can sell said concert tickets I will be able to pay (and start) the 4th unit in my Diploma. Almost halfway ! If everything else comes together, the earliest I could graduate is December 2018 ! Now that is something I hadn’t quite anticipated.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 3, Longevity

Back in 1987 when we gathered, four generations of us, to celebrate Nana’s 80th birthday she announced after she blew out the candles that

“I’m the oldest in my family. No-one has got as far as eighty before.”

Quite a logical statement, all things considered.

Nana’s parents had died aged fifty-seven & sixty-one and she never knew any of her grandparents. They had, all four of them died before her parents married. Her grandmothers both left young children at thirty-one & thirty-six and her grandfathers were still relatively young (by today’s standards) at forty-seven & sixty-five.

By the time of our celebration in 1987, both of her sisters had already died, leaving only her younger brother to potentially reach and exceed this grand age. Sadly though, he too predeceased Nana by just 6 months, the following year.

She did often talk about her Aunt Lizzie (who turned out the be Aunt Bessie, but that is another story). She would say she was a “remarkable woman who went to America on her own when she was SEVENTY!” So maybe? Turns out Aunt Lizzie was closer to fifty when she emigrated, but at seventy-four she did get a little closer to the elusive eighty.

Oh Nana, the things we have learnt in the years since you left us, as we have researched further. You would be so amazed.

Three out of eight of her great grandparents were in their eighties – not bad for people born in the early 19th century. Even more surprisingly six out of sixteen of her great grandparents passed eighty – two even going further and into their nineties! People born in the mid-18th century!

So, when I put these ancestors together with those from other branches of Mum’s family and from Dad’s, things are looking promising. A sister of my great great grandfather was just two months short of her 102nd birthday…in 1895! Living in the country can’t have been all bad back then.

In a lecture this week, life expectancy was discussed. Since then, there has been a fair amount of googling too, on my part.

When we see statements to the effect that life expectancy at birth was 33-40 in the 18th century and 40 in the early 19th century, it is easy to forget that that average age for adults was being driven down by the high infant mortality rate. It wasn’t that everyone would only make it to forty, there would always be exceptions. It was just that there were less people dying in the 40-100-year range than there were between 0-2 and 2-10 years of age. Reaching your tenth birthday improved your life expectancy dramatically.

I think I must have realised this before – because it sounds so logical now. But I don’t think I had considered it fully. How fortuitous that it was this week, coinciding with this blog topic.

How lucky we are today to have access to immunisation and improved health care for older persons.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 2, Favourite Photo

This is a family photograph of my grandmother’s family. It was taken about 1912. I am not sure where it was taken either. (The questions I should have asked will haunt me forever.)

George Timms 1877-1939 was born in Milverton, Royal Leamington Spa and lived his entire life within 2 miles of his birthplace. He began his working life as a groom, then a coachman and motor car driver. His father had been a carman too. Later in life George became a taxi cab driver.

Laura Ellen, nee Kelsey 1878-1935 was born in Wolverhampton and raised in Dudley by her grandfather and aunt until her father remarried when she was eight years old. Before her marriage to George she was a housemaid employed by the Holt family who lived at Oaklands, a large house on Kenilworth Road, Lillington.

They married 1 July 1901 at St James the Great, Old Milverton. George was the coachman at Cranford House which is located at the other end of Kenilworth Road. I’m not sure how they met, but location and social standing offers a few clues. For about seven years they lived above the stables in the coachman’s house at the rear of Cranford House.

In 1909 George left his job as coachman and moved his family into the village of Milverton where he became a motor car driver. By this time they had three daughters. By the time of the census in 1911 they had moved 32 Milverton Crescent West, off Rugby Road. It was here a few months later that their son was born. This could be the location of the photograph, the family group gathered outside their home. The alternative location is 6 Stamford Court – which no longer exists – but is the address my grandmother remembered from her childhood. George and most of his siblings had started their lives at 6 Stamford Place too.

But what of the occasion ? Who knows ?

My grandmother’s recollection of the photograph was that the grimace on her mother’s face was because her baby brother had “wet her knee” – no waterproof outer layer to diapers back then.

What you cannot tell from the sepia photograph is that the MC1R gene is very strong in this family. Laura and their three daughters were all redheads. Research tells me that to have red hair you need to have two copies of the gene, but that that might mean only one in four children would have red hair. That theory blown, I wonder if George and his son were also redheads ? It looks that way with the colouring of the photograph.

Laura May, Elsie Lilian, Violet Georgina and baby George Albert James. Named for his two uncles who had gone to America, my grandmother said. George and Albert James Kelsey. Though it could be debated that George was for his father and that Albert James was for just one of his uncles. I like this photo because it shows them as a family group, clean and well dressed. A few short years later family life would be much different.

The photo was in the possession of George after his elder sisters had all grown, married and emigrated, while he remained in England. It seems though that when visiting some fifty years after they had left England, one of those sisters took the photo with her. Oops. Thank goodness for good cameras, photographic reproduction and digital technology - now we are able to share it with as many of their descendants as would like to have a copy.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 1, Start

This is the beginning. A start. My new blog challenge for 2018.

Hope I can stick at it. There is a lot of writing going on in my life right now.
Assignments, job applications, emails, blog posts (in no particular order).

Some prompts for this topic included focussing on me, or the person/s who got me hooked on genealogy, someone who started a business…

So, this might be my only chance to be an ANCESTOR.

I have only one direct descendant and I think the branch stops there. Life takes many turns though, so one day I might need to revise that.
Maybe I will be the aunt, grand aunt, great grand aunt, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6thor 7th cousin who people will refer to in the future as they begin their genealogical research.

Who Am I ?

2nd, 4th,5th generation New Zealander – depending which grandparent you focus on.
First child
Big Sister
Aunt (great grand aunt even !)

Born in Hamilton, New Zealand. A city since 1945, with a river delineating it into Hamilton East and Hamilton West, and a lake. An Inland city, the centre of commerce serving a large rural community. A city surrounded by wide open spaces. Less than an hour to the West Coast and 90 minutes to the East.

Went to school, joined Brownies, competed in figure roller skating competitions, did gymnastics, learnt piano…

Moved to Wellington. Capital city since 1865. A coastal city, a little bit shaky, and a tad breezy. But with one of the prettiest harbours in the world and stunning on a good day (no-one ever remembers them though). Coolest little Capital in the world.

Went to College. First job. First overseas holiday.

Alternated living on both sides of the Tasman for ten years or so. Then a much longer time back in Aotearoa before relocating recently back to Australia for study.

Genealogy ? When did that start ?

Probably with that question in Social Studies 

“How many generations New Zealander are you ?” 

And then it just grew. Dad had always had an interest in family history. He told me recently he used to make lists of who all his cousins were (he has a lot). I just tagged along.

Names have always been a fascination for me. I used to make lists and marvel at the few which were exceptions to the norm. What inspired parents to step away from the Mary/Ann/Sarah and James/William/John lists and choose names like Kerenhappuch, Violet and Peternel or Theophilus, Julius and Balthasar. Some of them will have been biblical choices, others linked to the fashions and trends of the time.

Stories piqued my curiosity – the great great grandmother rumoured to have left her family; great great grandfathers who had more than one wife. Incomprehensible to a nine year old from a “normal” nuclear family. Then came the internet and the whole thing exploded. So many late nights hooked in cyber space.

And then along came genetic genealogy - learning how to interpret DNA results and use them as another secondary source to verify the researched paper tree. (I'm getting there.)

I hope you are ready to learn about 51 of the people in my tree - I hope I can find enough to write about 51 of them !
 Think like them. 
Put yourself in their place. 
Be a detective. 
Never leave any stone unturned.