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Anthony Adolph, professional genealogistWelcome to the Genes Reunited web chat, where you can get help and advice from our resident genealogist and expert family historian, Anthony Adolph. To find out more about Anthony click here.

Thanks again to Anthony and everyone who joined in on the sessions so far.

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Name Date
Colin Cross 2014/03/18 09:52:22 PM

Hi Antony My question is i am looking at James Cross watchmaker married to Elizabeth Wainwright 1788 Farnworth near Prescot. How long would the apprenticeship be for a watchmaker. On ancestry there are a lot of people that have said that a James Cross born 1771 Poulton le Fylde is the James Cross married to Elizabeth. But I have looked at the facts . how would have he got to Prescot in those times it must be over 50 miles away. The census shows the poulton le Fylde Cross in 1841 living in Poulton and working as a labourer he dies in 1851. i cannot find any records for the Farnworth Cross only the marriage and children they had. Do you think there is no connection with Poulton le fylde and Prescot. regards Colin Cross

Apprenticeships usually lasted seven years, regardless of the trade. Good for you as you seem to have effectively disproved a probably unsafe connection. Travelling fifty miles would have been nothing to people in those days - two days' walk at tops, sleeping in a hedge on the way, but finding your Poulton man still in Poulton in 1841 certainly suggests he was the one baptised there (you could seek his death, as this would give a more exact age to tie in with the Poulton baptism). Now, all you've got to do is find a more convincing baptism for the Farnworth man. I suggest seeking his burial first, in the Farnworth burials, and then once you know how old he was you can look about using indexes (Lancashire is quite well covered by the FamilySearch website, for instance) for likelier baptisms than the Poulton one.

Leslie Young 2014/03/18 09:38:12 PM

Sorry I misspelt surname should be Hanson. If she was married abroad ie Holland or perhaps south Africa are there any online records as I am living in France.

Yes, I thought there was something funny there. Using our marriage search facilities, on this site, I have found Charle (sic) R. Van Der Westhuisen marrying in Cairo in 1943 (ref. 745) to a Miss Hanson in the General Register Office's indexes to army marriages (1881-1955). I checked that the Hanson concerned was a Patricia, and she was. Perhaps she was there in some military capacity herself, as a W.R.E.N., maybe - it was a heady time to be in Cairo and I expect there was a quite a story. You can order the certificate at http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp. It just goes to show how much can be discovered using Genes Reunited nowadays.

Leslie Young 2014/03/18 09:13:08 PM

Hello Anthony I have an ancestor who was born Patricia Mary Thorpe HAVAON. in Polruan in 1922. She appears again in 1962 on her Mother's death cert with a changed surname of Van der Westhuizen. I can't find any record of a marriage

as above

Leslie Young 2014/03/18 09:12:38 PM

Hello Anthony I have an ancestor who was born Patricia Mary Thorpe HAVAON. in Polruan in 1922. She appears again in 1962 on her Mother's death cert with a changed surname of Van der Westhuizen. I can't find any record of a marriage

You've intrigued me here. Havaon is a very unusual surname and there's no sign of the birth you mention in the birth indexes on this site. Are you sure of the spelling? Where did you find it written down? As she's your ancestor, do you know who she married (or are you using 'ancestor' to mean the sister of an ancestor?)?. I agree that there is no sign of a Havaon-van der Westhuizen marriage. It could have been in Holland or elsewhere abroad of course, but it's always possible that Patricia married someone else first and then married van der Westhuizen under her married name. Please tell me a little more and we'll try to solve this.

Jon Preston 2014/03/18 09:04:09 PM

Just a quick thank you Anthony - I asked you a question last month about a brick wall which had frustrated me for 30 years and although your helpful suggestions didn't lead me directly to a solution, it obviously put me in the right mindset because ... at last ... I managed to solve The Mystery of the Disappearing Ancestor. It turned out that the bugger had changed his surname while trying his luck as a 'theatrical artiste' and then double-barrelled it when he married. Thanks again and good luck to tonight's question posers with their own brick walls.

Thank you for your kind comment here. You didn't mention your ancestor having been on the stage (maybe you didn't know) but yes, theatrical ancestors can often cause great problems because they so often used stage names and then started using those stage names in real life. Some changed their names to sound more theatrical and others did so so as not to have the same names as established actors - or other reasons. I made a film of the family tree of Helen Worth from Coronation Street a few years ago. Her real name is Wrigglesworth, and she told me that when she was a young, aspiring actress in the theater she she had been told to shorten her surname so as not to upstage the more senior, but shorter-named actors and actresses who appeared above her on the playbills! and she

Terence Sims 2014/02/18 10:22:33 PM

Anthony hello I have a death certificate of an ancestor who died in Northallerton workhouse iNorth Yorkshire in 1882, who would be responsible for the burial, should there be a register if so were do I start, tried their websight no luck or did they cremate them. Also my grandfather was Christened, Herbert Henry Sims Jennison Bowler Sims is there any significant in using the same name twice or was my ggrandmother having fun.

You can look for your ancestor in the records of Northallerton Workhouse, if they survive. They would be in the N. Yorkshire Record Office, which happens to be in Northallerton. The admission register should note his 'discharge' due to death. He would almost certainly have been buried in Northallerton so you can try the grave yards and cemeteries there. It was too early for cremations (see http://anthonyadolph.co.uk/cremation-in-britain/). As to Herbert Henry Sims Jennison Bowler Sims, at a complete guess I'd say that they were trying to commemorate a number of surnames which were ancestral to Herbert, and that he had more than one descent from people called Sims.

Joanna Thomson 2014/02/18 09:50:34 PM

Hi Antony I have hit a dead end on trying to trace where my great great granddad was in 1881 in the Scottish cenus he is Robert Thomson he is in the census from 1841 -1871 and 1891 and 1901, the only thing is that he was called up for the Boer War, do you think I should try the Scottish military records.

There were two Boer Wars, one in 1880-1 and the other in 1899-1902. Your story that he served in the first one should certainly send you to the army records. All of Great Britain's army records are at The National Archives in Kew, and you can find a lot now using their new online 'Discovery' catalogue. The class code for army records is 'WO'.

Judith Brown 2014/02/18 09:44:30 PM

I have found the marriage certificate, and Thomas Teal was a book keeper. Have looked in Census, but not found them. Don't really know how to find out if any of the Teals from N.Yorks are the right one with nothing to cross reference.

That last suggestion was a last resort. The 1844 marriage record should also say whether Thomas was deceased or not. If he was stated to be dead then he was probably alive in 1844. There are quite a lot of possible entries for him in the 1844 census and you could check each for a book keeper. Also, I see from a quick look now that there were a few Teals in Manchester and Chorlton at the time. It may be worth investigating them in some detail, as they could well have been related to your Thomas, and by researching them you may find him. Also, in all your searches make sure you look under variant spellings such as Teale, Teel, and maybe Tell. Teal could easily be misread (and thus misindexed) as Feel as well.

Judith Brown 2014/02/18 09:17:57 PM

Regarding parentage of my husbands paternal g.g.grandmother Ellen Teal b1817 in Manchester, England, who married William McLean in 1844. Have found 7 older siblings but cannot trace mother. Any reference to her is just Mary. Thomas Teal is the father but I can't find any info for either parent regarding their birth, marriage or death. Hope you can help as I'm completely stumped. Thanks

First, you should obtain a copy of Ellen's 1844 marriage record, as this will provide both her father's name and also, importantly, his occupation. You can then seek him in the censuses for Manchester from 1841 onwards - thus learning when and where he and his wife were born. If they had died by 1841, you may be lucky and find their deaths after July 1837, when General Registration started. Failing that, you can seek their burials in Manchester before 1837 to learn their ages, and seek their marriage - Thomas Teal marrying a Mary, sometime soon before the baptism of their eldest child. I see that the Family Search website has some possible baptisms for Thomas Teal in the late 1700s, almost all in Yorkshire, so if all else fails you could investigate these and see if you can find out what happened to them, hoping that one of them will have a paper trail leading to your family.

Graham Noonan 2014/02/18 09:15:02 PM

Hi Anthony. I have hit a brick wall with my great grandfather who is listed in the 1901 census as being born in Capetown South Africa. There doesn't seem to be much on-line in terms of SA records and I am thinking of resorting to seeking a professional genealogist in SA. Any advice / tips would be most helpful

You have answered your own question there, as I would certainly recommend hiring a professional there, who can gain access to the best records in the archives. Because of the conversion rate, it's very inexpensive to do so. There is a list of researchers here: http://home.global.co.za/~mercon/researchers.htm#South_African.

Jon Preston 2014/02/18 09:14:44 PM

Hi Anthony. For 30 years I have been trying to find what might have happened to a Stanley Preston who was born 19 Dec 1883 in Gateshead and was still living in 1902 at the time his mother died. Thereafter he disappears - there is no sign of him in 1911 and I have checked possible deaths, Great War records, emigration records etc. etc. whenever new datasets become available with no success. I do realise that I am asking an impossible Q but any pointers from your own experience would be most welcome. Thanks!

The key here is what 'etc, etc' actually covers, as of course the next thing you check could be the one which will tell you the answer. However, some searches we undertake fairly routinely for 'missing' people are - to look in Scotland and Ireland, and even the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, each of which had their own separate registration systems: to use the 1901 census to find his occupation and see if that would lead to occupational records, which may afford clues; to look for him in the army; to look for him in the records of the British in India, where so many people went for work then. The national probate indexes are useful in including people who had property here, but who died abroad. His local newspaper might mention his demise, regardless of where he had died. As a final note, I'd say that, whilst everybody had two parents and the genealogist's job is finding out who they were, sometimes against all the odds, the process of looking for deaths is nowhere near as simple, or urgent. Some people just disappeared - falling down holes, changing their names and so on, and we just have to accept sometimes that their ends just won't be found!

Thomas Seeley 2014/01/21 09:59:43 PM

Hi, me back again. Sorry I'm just chatting now but in fact I have quite a number of Stratford-on Avon connections, another GGGG grandfather was William Stratford, and my Great Grandfather was Thomas Stratford Seeley. Some more Ancestors were named Pettit (I think may be Hugenots) and they were also married in Stratford. Aren't family trees interesting!

I agree entirely. Presumably you are familiar with all the records kept at Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust in Stratford, along with Warwickshire Record Office which I mentioned earlier. And I hope you belong to Warwickshire Family History Society - http://www.wfhs.org.uk/ - you'd get a lot out of it!

Thomas Seeley 2014/01/21 09:44:45 PM

Thanks Anthony, yes I have an interesting bunch of ancestors, at least they are to me. My direct line I have back to John Sely b. 1590, in Bearley, near Stratford-upon-Avon (he might have known Will Shakespeare!). Many thanks for your help, I will try harder to trace those elusive ones. Tom S

It's interesting that you have another Stratford connection, or maybe one led to the other. Good luck trying to get further back than 1590 (wills, manorial records and tax lists are all worth trying) and you must try to find a Shakespeare/Hathaway link!

Thomas Seeley 2014/01/21 09:35:54 PM

Hi again, Anthony. Do you know if a soldier from the Napoleonic War was receiving a pension, in this case nine pence a day, whether this passed to his wife on his death?

I should know this one - it's either yes or not. Without looking it up, I'll say no, and beg your and the world's pardon if that's wrong!

Patricia Featherstone 2014/01/21 09:34:03 PM

Hi Anthony, I have come to a brick wall with my 4 x great grandparents Edward and Nancy Bowerman. Their first son, William, was baptised in July 1806 at Cliffe-at-Hoo. Their four younger children were baptised at High Halstow. In the 1841 census they both state they were not born in Kent. Edward died in 1844 aged 64 (b.1780) and buried at High Halstow. In the 1851 cencus Nancy gives her place of birth as Gosport Hants. Nancy died in 1859 age 70 (b.1789) and buried at High Halstow. I have been unable to find a marriage for them in the Kent area or Gosport as I do not know Nancy's maiden name. I have been unable to find an Edward Bowerman born in 1780 anywhere. Where do I go from here please? regards Pat

Try for settlement certificates for Cliffe and High Halstow just in case Edward handed one in when he arrived. High Halstow is next to Cliffe and both are near Rochester and the naval base at Chatham near where the Medway opens into the Thames Estuary, so these are people who probably came by water from Gosport, which is next to Portsmouth in Hampshire and was our main naval base - Edward may very, very well have been a naval man, a sailor perhaps or a dockyard employee: do the original entries for the children's baptisms and the censuses and death record will tell you Edward's occupation at the time, at least. This scarcely helps you because, if he was indeed a seafarer, he may have come from absolutely anywhere. You should look for him down in Portsmouth and Southampton. If really stuck it's a good idea to seek lost ancestors in the areas where their surname is commonest. FamilySearch shows a lot in Devonshire - another maritime shire - but also some earlier pockets in Kent.

Colin Cross 2014/01/21 09:13:15 PM

Hi Anthony I am looking at John Mainhood born 1809 Adderbury near Banbury. I saw a entry on Ancestry but it gave no details I want to know if the John Mainhood they have match mine. John Mainhood age 38 source bibliography Gibson J S W sponsored emigration of paupers from Banbury union 1834-1860 in the the Oxfordshire family historian oxford family historical society Southmoor Oxford vol 2.7 Spring 1982 pp 211-215 page 213 Do you know I can the information do you think all the details are in the book. regards Colin Cross

t's an interesting question as you've learned about this through a modern website, yet the record, the archive, the publishers and the author, not to say your ancestor himself, all pre-date the Internet by some margin. The original record relating to this would almost certainly be in the Oxfordshire Record Office, or you could use the transcribed version in Jeremy Gibson's book - they'll have a copy, or you could ask the publishers, the Oxfordshire Family History Society (http://www.ofhs.org.uk/). I

Thomas Seeley 2014/01/21 09:12:43 PM

My GGG grandfather James Betts b.1799 served in the Army in the 84th Regiment of Foot. He fought in the Napoleonic War including the Battle of Nive in 1814. Afterwards, back in Ireland, whilst still in the Army, he had a daughter. I can find no record of this or any marriage, his wife being named Ann. Where now?

You have an interesting set of ancestors, Mr Seeley! Well, there are separate General Registration records of army marriages and army births, indexed here on this site: they include many but not all of the events we want: the rest were recorded wherever they took place, by the church or civil authority concerned, so for the Irish birth you may have to seek a baptism there in Ireland, and of course the problem with the marriage is that it may have been elsewhere - France, or where ever else he may have happened to have been stationed, so it's as difficult as it sounds. I should start with baptism records in wherever it was in Ireland that he was stationed.

Samantha Elsey 2014/01/21 09:05:24 PM

Hi Anthony, I wonder if you can help me please. I am trying to trace my grandfather's brother whom I have wondered what happened to him since I was 9 - nearly 39 nears ago! His birth name was Benjamin Albert Elsey - born in 1903 Hendon (Willesden). He changed his name by deedpoll to Burns - could be Albert Benjamin Burns. How do I find out details when someone has changed their name by deedpoll. Maybe the reason why I haven't found him is that he may of gone overseas? There is a passenger ship that went to Australia in 1950 - Service personnel 3188508 I am not sure if this is the correct person? Any help you can submit would greatly be appreciated. thank you

If the change of name was really by deed poll then it will be in a newspaper, probably the local one covering Hendon. Some newspapers are indexed on this site, and failing that the British Library's Newspaper Library and its catalogue would be a good port of call. The potential problems are (a) you don't know when it would have been published, so it will be hard to search and (b) many people changed their names informally without bothering with the formalities of deeds poll (as they are termed correctly in the plural). If he went to Australia then you can try tracing him there as you might here, in directories, newspaper obituaries and the records of marriage and death (for him) or births (for any possible children), using the archives there.

Margaret Taylor 2014/01/21 09:04:23 PM

I have recently discovered that my 5 x great grandfather signed up for the Napoleonic Wars. He signed up in Plymouth on the 9th April 1810. I have seen a transcript of his attestation but would like to view the original so that I can confirm that this is definitely him. His name is the right one, and with a name like Birchenough I don't think there were too many of them and also his home town of Sandbach is on the transcript. Could you possible advise where I might see the original record. Thanks.

All the original army records are at The National Archives at Kew, filed under the letters 'WO' (War Office). The catalogue and information leaflets (which you can see online) will also indicate other records you can examine which may help, such as the muster rolls.

Thomas Seeley 2014/01/21 09:04:19 PM

My GGG grandfather William Richards b.1803 gives his place of birth in all the census records as Stratford-upon-Avon, very precise! However, I can find absolutely no record of his birth in that town, nor any record of his possible parents. With a name like that I can find lots of records in other towns in the area. Where now?

Even in those days you could be born somewhere but not baptised there: maybe he was baptised elsewhere, or not at all, or maybe the baptism was recorded in a nonconformist register which you have not checked or which has not survived. You could enquire at Warwickshire record office about what registers may be available. They might also have settlement certificates or removal orders covering his parents' appearance in or removal from the town. One idea - there have been theatres in Stratford on Avon since at least 1769, albeit on and off. Were his parents actors, or maybe, at the very least, lovers of Shakespeare?