Fun topic for a mid-week evening quick blog, right?!
I know that I’m not the only one who trawls through newspaper archives searching for mentions of ancestors and other family members. So it was quite the surprise when I first came upon an article – somewhat calmly – stating that a James Holbrow had been killed by an employee of his in Willesden (north west London).
I won’t be mad if you quietly sing the Captain Scarlet theme under your breath (but only if you robotically say “and the Mysterons” out loud). Or even Captain Planet, if you’re gonna take pollution down to zero. But I digress. Sometimes you come across people who appear fully-formed in a set of records, whisked into existence as if by magic, because somehow they are where they are, but seem to have been nowhere before this. I suppose you could call this a brick-wall. However, today’s shining example of this isn’t an ancestor of mine – nor I suspect related to me at all – but his story was too extraordinary not to share – in fact, it made the annals of Australian maritime history!
A year ago this week I wrote about a family who appear in records as Holborows but were, in fact, Neals. Long story short – their familial middle name of Holborow had replaced their documented surname of Neal. But whilst researching the origins of a different line of Holborows from the Wiltshire market town of Chippenham I came across a similar conundrum where the Holborow (or rather, Holbrow in this instance) line disappears, only to potentially be replaced. Unless I’m going mad. Which is a distinct possibility around these parts …!
I have recently been on a bit of a mission (prompted by a friend) to complete my collection of certificates for all my ancestors. As half of my ancestry is, as I have mentioned before, American, my immediate focus is on the UK half. (That’s not to say that certificates for my American ancestors are impossible to come by, it’s just that it will take a bit more thought – and perhaps the judicious use of my American relations and international money transfers!)
The death certificate for my 4 x great-grandmother Maria Holborow (nee Haynes) was a bit of a puzzler and the search for it was the root of this post: an unexpected find.
This is a continuation of my previous post about researching a little deeper into the family of my grandfather (step-grandfather if you want to be precise), all kicked off as he would’ve been 100 a few months ago. I’d half-heartedly poked and prodded the Frysol name, but had put off doing the one thing that would’ve been actually useful: contacting any archives in Germany for more information (not strictly true, I did email one once but didn’t get a response!). So I knuckled down and found out the best route to get what I wanted …
I’ve not been great with my blogging this year. I think I’ve only done one or two 52 Ancestors this year, and my Holborows in … series have kind of ground to a halt. Although slow and sporadic, my research continues onwards. Lately I’ve been focussing on one branch of the Holborows from the Wiltshire parish of Luckington (which – of course – is not one branch at all). This was all prompted by reviewing my transcriptions of Holborows in the 1841 census to see if I have them all – can I identify them and their family groups? Are they in my tree? And I came across a Daniel – it is always a damn Daniel – whose parental line I couldn’t place. He is worthy of a post all his own, so maybe we’ll have a little … double dip.
From there I moved onto a resource that I have overlooked – past tense – the most in my research: Wills. A good will is an amazing thing to find, especially in those years before General Registration and you’re reliant on Parish Registers to hypothesise relationships. Of course, that’s assuming you get a “good” will – and by that I mean one that names people and relationships. Of course, sometimes you just get a list of names, sometimes you get a cat’s home. But sometimes you get one that enables you – with a little bit of digging – to make some fantastic connections, even if you have to compare and connect other wills from the same area.
I am of an age that I began my serious family history research at the cusp of the digital revoution of the mid 90s. That was the time when the internet was becoming more pevalent in our homes and every day lives, and also the digitisation of family records was in its relative infancy.
I remember the early days of Ancestry and FamilySearch (and it’s associated IGI – International Genealoigical Index – which was always viewed with suspicion by ‘real researchers’ as it was so driven by normal people and a lack of proofed sources. There were message boards and email groups, small, specialised websites dedicated to family names, specific record sets or localities. then there were the sites that served as aggregators of all these sites, like Cyndi’s List which is still around today.
This post has been a long time coming – yet it is one of my favourite things I’ve ever researched, and one that I am inordinately proud of (probably second only to finding my husband’s [adopted] aunt’s birth family … or tracking down my paternal grandfather’s family). Some of it might be a bit squirrelly but bear with me …
When you’re researching Australian family, there’s always the spectre of transportation, much like Massachusetts in the late 17th century. Back in 2007 it was reported that up to 22% of living Australians were descended from convicts (over 4 million people). There is also a one in 30 chance for us Brits.
I remember studying the topic of transportation when I was at primary school (er, about 30 years ago), but I thought that I could do with a bit of a refresher course – and its amazing to find what records are out there for individuals, alongside the social and political history that goes along with it.
And spoiler alert: I feel some degree of sympathy for our William …