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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
Margaret Hughes 2014/06/10 09:08:28 PM

I am trying to find more information about my great great grandmother ANNE WILLIAMS. She was born in London (FETTER LANE /CITY ROAD) 12/06/1812 She married John Williams between 1834 -1841 and lived from then until her death ( 19/08/1906 ) in in Talybont Cardiganshire . I am struggling to find information about her before 1841 census How would I find details of her birth. her maiden name and her marriage? Thank you very much

A move from London to Wales at that time is rather unusual - usually, it was the other way around! Presumably you have Anne in the censuses and this is how you know where she was born - but how do you know her date of birth? A family bible perhaps? To find her maiden name you need to obtain the birth records of one of her children, using the General Registration indexes to births on this site (under 'births'). Then you can use the corresponding indexes to marriages to look for her marriage - hopefully it took place after July 1837, when the system started. If not, and it was before then, you will need to start by looking in indexes to parish registers - one good place to look is If you find an entry which looks right you should then check it in the original registers in the archives. You can use the same index to seek a baptism for her to correspond with the date of birth you have.

Karen Hillyer 2014/05/20 09:56:47 PM

Thanks for your reply ;unfortunately we dont know the name of the house she worked in and on the census she was at home... I just wondered if there was a central place where the names of large house employees were recorded...( her home was sutton in surrey) the reason for this is the father of her illigitimate child whos birth cert I have; my great grandmother ;(made a mistake the lady in question was 2 greats) was the son in the house she worked (all the other information passed down about her has been true so we have reason to believe this is also) Its certainly looking as if this will be one of those questions that will remain unanswered Regards karen

Ah no, sadly not. There were many, many upper and upper middle class families in the Sutton area at the time, all employing servants - my own included - and of course you can use the censuses and residential directories to see who they were. If the illegitimate child was a boy, his first and middle name may well reflect the real father's identify - ie, illegitimate John Barrington Smith was probably the son of a man called John Barrington. The same system seldom applies to girls. It's not too late at that stage for a bastardy case to have been heard in the local courts, identifying the father and reported in the newspaper, but it would be along-shot.

Carla-Marie Chester 2014/05/20 09:50:34 PM

I have Irish ancestors, is there any records of census before 1901?

Oh yes, most certainly. There are General Registration records going back to 1864, and contrary to what you may have heard, there are plenty of Irish parish registers going back into the earlier 19th century, and some much further. Much was destroyed in the early twentieth century, but it's still possible to trace most Irish lines back to the 1830s, and some will go a lot further. Most Irish Mac and O surnames identify ancestors who lived a thousand years ago, many of whose pedigrees are very well recorded going right back into the Dark Ages. I wrote a book a few years ago called Tracing Your Irish Family History which is still available and goes into the sources and how to use them in detail. You still need to be there to use the wonderful Irish archives but more and more is going on line - one useful site for church registers is

Karen Hillyer 2014/05/20 09:22:01 PM

Hi I am trying to find out where my great grandmother worked. we know she worked at a large house as a servant in the late 1880s Did houses that employed servants have to record anywhere the names of their employees ? Thanks regards Karen

Well, yes and no. A lot of employers kept records of employees (mainly in terms of what wages were paid and to whom). Unfortunately, very few of these seem to have survived. I remember doing some filming at Chatsworth a decade ago and seeing not only the servants' quarters there but also the records of the household employees (which helped confirm the family story of the person about whom we were making the program. Such lucky survivals are few and far between, but it's worth asking either at the house itself, or the relevant local archive (but don't hold your breath!). Do bear in mind that the census records (every 10- years from 1841-1911) list all the servants who were resident in their employers' houses on census night. For the 20th century, once voting rights were extended right down the social ladder, the electoral registers will also identify servants who lived in their masters' houses.

Allen Molesworth 2014/05/20 09:03:21 PM

What is the best way to find if there are any living descendants of an ancestor of my mothers family. I do not have the dates of the ancestor nor the connections between him and my mother

Molesworth is a very fine surname indeed, and I hope you are having great success in tracing it. But I gather your preset concern is for your mother's line. The first thing to do is to trace your mother's line back, slowly and steadily, to establish who her ancestors really were. You presumably have a family story that you are descended from so-and-so, but, believe me, such family stories very seldom turn out to be correct, so please don't waste time trying to trace descendants of an alleged ancestor, when it could very well turn out that he was not an ancestor at all. That is advice borne out of the entirety of my career as a genealogist!

Edith Cox 2014/04/29 09:37:01 PM

How do I find out what ship my grandfather served on during the first world war because my nan told me his ship was torpedo I do not think he was in the navy but he could have been in the merchant navy

The best way to research this would be to research your grandfather's career, whether in the Royal or merchant navies. You can do this by using the records at The National Archives (TNA) at Kew (and on-line - look at and The merchant navy records are in TNA class BT (short for 'Board of Trade). You will find out the ships on which your grandfather served and then you could research them to discover whether any of them had indeed been torpedoed.

ken Compton 2014/04/29 09:28:43 PM

Hi Anthony, The reason for asking my previous question is to try to find more of my family and see if there is any gaps in the tree and to lay it out on a table with some of my family to see. Many regards. Ken Compton

Oh I see - I had misunderstood your last question, I think - do you in fact want a copy of your family tree printed from the data you have already on Genes Reunited? Yes, that is a service the site offers. I've seen the results and they are excellent. See here:

ken Compton 2014/04/29 09:07:05 PM

As I am unable to get all my family Tree on my computer can genes Reunited do it for me and whats the cost for this service.

Do you know, in all the years I have been doing these sessions, nobody has ever asked me that! I agree that entering all the names from a very big family tree could be rather hard work - you could perhaps just do a few each day. It's worth doing, as the more names you enter, the more chance there is of other people out there finding that you are researching the same ancestors. But if you don't want to do it yourself, yes, it could be done for you - I can think of one colleague at least who'd be willing to take on the work. Contact me at and we can discuss further - and I'll have a word with the site's manager too as it's a service she may wish to offer - a good idea!

Christine Payne 2014/04/29 09:06:29 PM

Hi Anthony. My mother told me that she had a aunt emma, I have found her in parish records but there isn`t any sign of her on any census, she was born about 1862, I`ve found her father,mother sisters Ellen,Elizabeth,and Alice(Alice was my grandmother born 1875) also two brothers . Can you put me in the right direction please. Many thanks, regards Christine

Thanks for an interesting question to start tonight's session. Let me understand: you have found a baptism for Emma, with the right parents, and you have found the parents and their other children in the censuses, but Emma is not with them. Is that correct? If so, we've got to wonder where Emma was in 1871, when she would have been about 9, and in 1881, when she'd have been 19. It was possible even by 1871 that she had been 'farmed out' as a domestic servant or companion - to an elderly relative perhaps, so I'd advise searching for her in the censuses in her own right. By 19, she may have married, so you could seek reference to that. Or, maybe, she was remembered, but had died young - maybe the death indexes on this site will show young Emma succumbing to infant mortality. A lot of possibilities - but do tell me more...

Leslie Young 2014/03/18 10:01:27 PM

Thanks very much for your reply it explains alot.

I am delighted that I was able to help. Please keep the questions coming!

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 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

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:

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!