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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
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!

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 - - 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 ( 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?

william halliday 2013/12/23 09:36:25 PM

Emma Scott, born 1832 in Nottingham, England, married William Moore 30/09/1849 1851 census shows Emma Moore as a lodger at 12,Pierpont St. Nottingham, a Henry Savage (my wifes great,great grandfather) was also a lodger at this address. 1861 Census shows Henry as Head (Cordwainer) and Emma Savage as wife at 16, Commerce St,St Marys, Nottingham with three children. I have been unable to find any evidence of a divorce from William Moore or a mrriage to Henry. The 1871 Census shows Emma as Head of family The same 1871 census shows Henry Savage as being a Patient at "Middlesex Lunatic Asylum". Marital Status Widow 6 months hard labour. I am trying to find Emma as she does not appear in any future census records.

This is a fantastic example of what the indexed censuses on this website can reveal. Before they were indexed in this way, you'd never have found most of this out. At that period, divorce was way beyond the means of most people, but you may well find a death for William Moore (under that spelling, or a variant spelling perhaps). If you can't find a marriage for Emma and Henry then they almost certainly weren't: as a married woman, Emma was 'Mrs' and if she changed her name from Moore to Savage because she was living with Henry she'd not have been the first who behaved in that way. The 1871 census for Emma used her own information (and false claims) but the census entry for Henry was filled in by an asylum official so was probably truthful in saying he was a widower, ie that he had once had a wife, before Emma, who had died. Oh what a tangled web!

John Crowder 2013/12/23 09:01:01 PM

In tracing my paternal line I seemed to have reached a brick wall in terms of my paternal grandmother's ancestry. My Paternal grandmother's maiden name was Lily Adelaide COX. Her parents were Arthur William Franklin COX and Clarissa COX nee JOHNSON who married in 1866. In the 1891 census Arthur COX (aged 26) a railway signalman, Clarissa and Lily A COX, together with Arthur's sister Louisa COX (aged 12) were living in Biggleswade although Arthur's place of birth was given as Newark, Nottinghamshire (not Ely). I can find no related birth in Newark. The 1881 census for Islington has William COX (aged 39) a Railway Shunter born West Indies living with his wife Mary A COX (aged 40) born Ilford Essex; Arthur W J COX (aged 14) born Ely and his siblings George (Aged 11), Robert (aged 6) and Louisa J (aged 1) which seems to tie in with the 1881 census. The 1871 census for Southwark has a Thomas R CHANDLER aged 65) living with his Wife Matilda CHANDLER (aged 48) born St Kitts together with her grandson William COX (aged 4) born in Ely. Thomas CHANDLER married a Matilda A C COX in Westminster in the qtr ending Dec 1866. I am having problems to identify a specific death but presume that William died sometime between 1861 and 1866. From his birth certificate I find that Arthur William Franklin COX was born in ELY on 29 Sept 1866 to William John Franklin COX (a Railway Porter) and Mary Ann COX nee SANGSTER who were married in ELY on 17 Sept 1866 (presumably Mary Ann was heavily pregnant with Arthur at the time). At the time of there marriage William's father was given as William COX (publican). The 1851 census for Portsea refers to a William COX (aged 35) born Avening Glos. c.1816, a Railway Police Officer living with his wife Matilda COX (aged 27) born St Kitts, son William COX (aged 9) born St Kitts and daughter Mary COX (aged 3) born St Kitts. This suggests that William and Matilda were married in St Kitts where their two children were born. From all account the records available in St Kitts are very limited. How can I proceed to establish when and why William went out to St Kitts (the dates suggest that he may returned to the UK in the early 1800's after the abolition of the slave trade. I would also appreciate advice as to how I might research Matilda's ancestry.

A major reason why people went abroad at all was if they were serving in the army or the navy, so one suggestion here would be to see if this person appears in the army or navy records at The National Archives. The army births.baptisms and army marriages may come in useful for pinning down events concerned with this family as well, as they have the virtue of covering events all over the world which concerned British soldiers. The Mormons have microfilmed a lot of Caribbean records as well, and you can see what they have available using the catalogue section of the website.

Susan Thrower 2013/11/19 09:57:29 PM

Many thanks Anthony. I have traced both lines fairly extensively and found the original name of Errington as the surname of Thomas Errington Scott's maternal grandmother. I have not as yet been able to make a connection however I am convinced that there is one somewhere as my husband bears a stunning resemblance to a photo of a third brother Rev Charles Perry Scott bishop of Shanghai. Thomas Errington Scott's family originated in NE but our Scott seem to have been located in Cheshire as farmers. I understand that often if there were several sons one went into the military one the clergy and another to manage estates. Could this be a likely explanation for the different locations.

You'll just have to carry on tracing both lines further back to see if they match up. But sometimes, two people with the same surname could become friends, and joke that they were related, and the 'joke could solidify quickly into 'fact', causing all sorts of problems for later generations of genealogists, so you never know. I've seen it happen!