Surname Saturday Meme: Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

November 17th, 2011

As a regular reader of Geniaus‘ blogs, I often find myself (lately) doing memes. Sometimes they are created by Geniaus and sometimes she has picked up memes from fellow bloggers. This is one of the latter, and it is a really useful way to advertise the primary surnames we are researching. I have already had considerable success with relatives finding me via my own blogs, so this meme instantly appealed to me.

On his Destination Austin Family Blog Thomas MacEntee has revived Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie’s meme from 2009. Thomas says “Why so? Well this meme actually helps the genealogy blogger create “surname bait” for other researchers to find out on Google and other search engines.”

I’m a bit behind in responding to the challenge as it is a busy (or busier) time for me at present but that won’t detract from the results I am hoping for, which may be next week, next year or even in a few years time. As Geniaus said, it has also made me reflect on my direct ancestors again as it is a while since I revisited some of those lines (having started in 1977) and more recently I have been doing my partner’s families. Plus there are so many more resources available now I really should revisit all family lines.

The instructions for this meme are very simple (although they are US centric) but simply adjust them slightly to include Country, state or county or whatever is relevant for your ancestors.

How The Meme Works

To participate, do the following at your own blog and post a link in the comments of Thomas’ post:

1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:

[SURNAME]: State/Province (county/subdivision), date range
as in:

AUSTIN surname: New York (Jefferson County, Lewis County, St. Lawrence County), 1830-present; Rhode Island (Kent County, Washington County), 1638-1830

2. At the end, list your Most Wanted Ancestor with details!

Shauna’s Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

Following are the surnames of my Great-Great Grandparents

CARNEGIE surname: Scotland (Angus, Montrose) 1786-1875; Australia (New South Wales, Grafton, Queensland, Brisbane, Toorbul) 1875-present

FAGAN surname: Ireland (Wicklow, Rathdrum, Glasnarget) 1861-present

FINN surname: Ireland (Wicklow, Rathdrum, Avoca) 1841-1882; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane) 1882-present

GUNDERSON surname: Norway (Telemark County, Seljord) 1688-1873; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane) 1873-present

HALVORSDATTER surname: Norway (Telemark County, Seljord) 1811-present

JEFFERS surname: Ireland (Armagh, Portadown) 1844-present

JOHNSTON surname: Ireland (Cavan, Bailieborough, Knockbride) 1803-1861; Australia (Queensland, Brisbane, Mackay) 1861-present

JUDGE surname: England (Northamptonshire, Croughton, Brackley) 1799-present

POLLARD surname: England (Northamptonshire, Croughton, Brackley) 1799-present

PRICE surname: England (Staffordshire, Wednesbury, West Bromwich) 1789-1878; Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, Charters Towers, Brisbane) 1878-present

ROSEWARNE surname: England (Cornwall, St Hilary Breage) 1582-present

SILK surname: England (Staffordshire, Wednesbury) 1740-present

SWEATMAN surname: England (Oxfordshire, Deddington) 1798-present

TITT surname: England (Wiltshire, Wylie, Bishopstrow) 1549-present

TREVASKIS surname: England (Cornwall, St Hilary, Ludgvan) 1698-1861; Australia (South Australia, Moonta, Queensland, Copperfield, Charters Towers) 1861-present

WHITE surname: England (Wiltshire, Pitton & Farley) 1640-1883; Australia (Queensland, Charters Towers, Brisbane) 1883-present

Most Wanted Ancestor: I’ve just recently found mine – Elizabeth JUDGE who was really a POLLARD (story here) but I’m happy to have any additional information on any of the above!


Old Research, New Resources, Fresh Eyes

September 18th, 2011

I started researching my family history in August 1977, just over 34 years ago and I am amazed at the changes over that time. Anyone starting out now can’t appreciate just how hard it was back then, especially trying to do it from Australia. Yesterday I proved (I think) that I made a fundamental error back then but without access to today’s resources, the decisions I made then were all reasonable and based on available evidence. I welcome feedback on the saga that unfolds below.

In 1977 I started buying all my Australian certificates not just key ones but all the children’s certificates too. I wanted all the details so that I could trace my families over time.

Thomas and Elizabeth Price arrived in Sydney in 1878 a few months after their marriage in Staffordshire. They had ten children across New South Wales and Queensland. From each of the children’s birth certificates I gathered information on Thomas and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s maiden name was Judge and she was born ca 1857 in Croughton, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and even Staffordshire – all places she gave on the birth certificates. Her death certificate gave her parents as George Judge and Elizabeth Ann Silk (I was sceptical of the Silk name as that was connected to the Price family).

From the family bible she had brought out with her I knew the date that she and Thomas had married so I applied for the marriage certificate. This also gave her father’s name as George Judge. So armed with all this information in 1979 I applied for her birth certificate. These were the days before indexes were widely available or online so I had the Registrar do a search. There was only one Elizabeth Judge born in 1857 in Brackley, Northamptonshire – quite close to Croughton. The certificate showed that Elizabeth was the illegitimate daughter of Harriet Judge. No other Elizabeth matched the details that I had and I assumed (that magic word) that she had not wanted Thomas to know that she was illegitimate and had said George was her father to cover up.

I then engaged a profession researcher in Northamptonshire to find Harriet Judge’s family and she was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Judge and had various siblings. The researcher also found the family in the various census returns – all before indexes and digitised images. The only thing he didn’t find was Elizabeth Judge, Harriet’s child – where was she?

The years went past, and every so often I would revisit my Judge family. I even hired the microfilm at the local Family History Centre and checked the census returns myself but that was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Then the English BDMs became available on microfiche and I decided to trace Harriet – she must have married and perhaps Elizabeth was with her in that new family.

I found Harriet who had married a George Gardiner in 1860. I searched the 1861 census (and subsequent censuses) for them but still no Elizabeth. What had Harriet done with her illegitimate child Elizabeth?

Again the years past and then we had access to digitised images of the census and online indexes. Surely I would find Elizabeth now. But no, I still couldn’t locate any reference to her other than that birth certificate and her marriage certificate. Where was she for 21 years?

Elizabeth had spent her last years living with her daughter in law, Alice Price and my mother. Mum used to tell me how Elizabeth would always have lollies waiting for her when she got home from school. My mother wanted to know what Elizabeth’s  life was like in England and how had she met Thomas Price. That was an interesting question – if she was in Northamptonshire, how had she met Thomas Price in West Bromwich, Staffordshire?

A few months ago I made a determined search to find Elizabeth in the 1861 census – she was about four years old but I couldn’t find any Elizabeth Judge that might be her. After another recent visit to Mum I again came home determined to find her in the 1871 census. If she married Thomas Price in 1878 she had to be somewhere in 1871.

Again I looked at every possible Elizabeth Judge, only this time I did turn up a family in the 1871 census – father George (as on her marriage certificate), mother Ann (not that far from Elizabeth Ann on her death certificate) and an Elizabeth, 13 years old, born in Northamptonshire. They were also living in West Bromwich where Thomas Price was. What made it even more exciting was that George was born in Croughton, the place Elizabeth said she was born and there was a sister Eliza. Surely a family wouldn’t have both an Eliza and an Elizabeth?

My first thoughts were that George was some relative of Harriet’s or her parents John and Hannah Judge and that George and his wife had looked after the illegitimate Elizabeth. But looking at my Judge family I couldn’t see how George could fit in. Then it occurred to me why hadn’t I found this George Judge, Ann, Elizabeth and other siblings in the 1861 census?

So back to the 1861 census and no they were not there. I hadn’t missed them and I was checking both Ancestry and FindMyPast sites so I just couldn’t understand any of it. Another daughter was called Eunice and that had to be more uncommon than George, Elizabeth or Ann. I then searched the 1861 census for all females named Eunice born ca 1853 and it was a nice short list.

There was Eunice born in Croughton, Northamptonshire with her sister Elizabeth also born in Croughton together with mother Ann and other siblings. The only difference was that the surname was Pollard not Judge. Ann was a 35 year old widow with five children. Between the 1861 and 1871 census she had married George Judge and taken his surname as did all of her children. They had also moved from Croughton to West Bromwich.

By the 1881 census George and Ann Judge and family were living in Potters Lane, West Bromwich – the same street as Thomas Price and his family. This must have been how and where Elizabeth and Thomas met.

Had I at long last found my Elizabeth Judge who was really Elizabeth Pollard? The reason I could never find another possible birth certificate for my Elizabeth Judge was that she was born with the surname Pollard but took her stepfather George Judge’s name when her mother remarried.

What happened to Harriet Judge’s illegitimate child Elizabeth? I have not checked for deaths and perhaps she was adopted or fostered out and ended up with another surname too.

I have other step marriages in my family history but this is the only time when the children have taken the surname of the stepfather. I can see that this could result in many brickwalls and if there hadn’t been an Elizabeth born about the right time and place I might have hit a brickwall, instead I hit a red herring.

The digitisation and indexing of census records (and everything else) allows us now to find family complexities like this easier and quicker. In hindsight with new resources it all looks so easy, and it is. If there is any aspect in your own research that niggles, perhaps its time to take a fresh look!


Using Twitter For Genealogy Brickwalls

November 2nd, 2010

Yesterday I had a spare 30 minutes while dinner was cooking so I thought I would do a quick UK census search as I have been having quite a lot of success finding families that I couldn’t find years ago while searching through microfilms.

My gg grandmother was Harriet Judge who was born in Brackley, Northamptonshire in 1840 and she married George Gardiner in 1860 in London. A quick search found them in Tottenham, Middlesex with a daughter Mary Jane. No wonder I never found her in microfilms for Brackley, Northamptonshire and how much easier it is today doing online searching.

However a similar quick search didn’t find them in 1871 and after trying a few searches on George, Harriet and Mary Jane I skipped to the 1881 census and there they were with quite a few more children but at the same address as 1861. So back to the 1871 census as it looked liked they hadn’t moved.

I tried looking for the other children’s names but no luck. Then surname variations Gardiner, Gardener, Gordiner, Gordener and as dinner was well and truly cooked by this time, the family started stomping round saying ‘we want dinner’! While I would have preferred to stay and solve the puzzle, I quickly put a message on my Twitter account @HicksShauna expressing my frustration, not expecting any response.

However, when I went back to Twitter some hours later I had all these messages with various suggestions including perhaps they were visiting elsewhere, or even that they had gone to Australia for a visit, plus tips for just searching on given names and also surname variations. It was really pleasing to see that others were intrigued with my problem and so willing to share their own experiences and knowledge.

One person even said if I sent the details they would have a quick look for me. So I did and within the shortest time possible, he messaged back that he had found them under Gardner. With hindsight I can’t think why I didn’t think of that variation, perhaps it was because I was trying to do it quickly and the family were hassling me for dinner. A lesson here is don’t try and multi task! Research is a serious business.

Anyway I had know found Harriet in both 1861 and 1871 census and that proved that she did not raise her daughter Elizabeth Judge born in 1857 as part of her family with George Gardiner.

So this still leaves me with the problem of who did raise Elizabeth as she does not appear in the census returns for her grandparents John and Hannah Judge in Brackley, Northamptonshire. In fact, and I hesitate to say this, I still can’t find Elizabeth Judge in the 1861 and 1871 census. I know she married Thomas Price in 1878 in Staffordshire and they immigrated to Queensland, Australia that same year. Elizabeth must have been somewhere and I assume it was under the name Judge as that is on her birth and marriage certificates. When I have some more uninterrupted time, I will revisit this brickwall and try again.

The real point of this blog is not for others to solve my brickwalls for me but to highlight the value that Twitter can bring to genealogy. In an earlier blog, Using Twitter For Genealogy, I pointed out all the reasons why I like Twitter. My experience yesterday reaffirms my belief that it is a wonderful resource for those researching their family history and that others are only too willing to help with suggestions that we might not think of ourselves.

If you are not using Twitter, but reading this blog and do go back and read my earlier blog, I encourage you to have a look at Twitter as a genealogy resource. I don’t think you will be disappointed.


Living Relatives – Don’t Waste Opportunity

December 11th, 2009

This week’s blog sees me back in Brisbane at my mother’s. Over the last few months I seem to have spent more time in Brisbane than I have in years. Mum’s illness also means that I have spent more time with her than I have in decades and at a time when she is not able to do things herself. This has meant that I have had to get involved with her finances, what is kept where in the house and we have had time to simply talk.

Like other elderly people she hoards some things (mostly rubbish) and her cupboards are full of a mix of  ‘let’s chuck’ to I can’t believe you have kept this. On my last visit she presented me with an album of birthday and Christmas cards she had maintained from the time of my conception 50 plus years ago. There were cards from my grandmother who died in 1964, all my aunts and uncles and other family members I can’t even remember. It is strange reading these birthday and Christmas wishes so many years later.

This visit, on the first night, as we are eating dinner, Mum casually mentions would I have been interested in the first love letter that my father had given her when they were both aged 12, back in 1946. I would kill to see it was my first response and was shocked when she said I might have to because she had thrown it out. As I tried to stay calm and continue the dinnertime conversation, she said that it was still in the rubbish as that wasn’t collected until Monday.

You see people, usually police, going through rubbish on the television all the time and you think, how can they do that? It’s easy when you are looking for something that you really want to find, believe me. Fortunately Mum doesn’t have a lot of rubbish but it was at the bottom. I fished out the two scraps of paper, she had torn it in two, and pieced it together. There was very old sticky tape all round it, as at some time in the past, the page had cracked and torn and she had tried to put it back together.

As I read the words my father had written back in 1946, 50 years before his death in 1996, images of him came flooding back and I could easily see him writing those words. My parents spent 50 years of their life together and it all started with that note. And of course, Mum agreeing to be his girlfriend!

To show Mum how significant something like that letter is, I brought out my December issue of Australian Family Tree Connections in which an article of mine had been published and I had used a photo of her grandparents. She took one look at the photo of her grandmother and started telling me all about my great grandmother who had lived with Mum and her mother for years before her death.

She remembered how she spoke, what she wore, that she always had lollies in her pockets for Mum when she got home from school and so on. My great grandmother was blind and so Mum had been very close to her, helping to care for her. She recalled the day of her funeral and the service at the Baptist Church and that she was the only one crying (at 10 years of age she would have been the youngest one there as Mum had been born ten years after her other nine siblings).

As I madly took notes, I said that Mum should try writing down some of these memories but she wasn’t interested. I remembered the last time I had seen my tape recorder was years ago when I gave it to my son for his university studies. It’s probably time to buy a new one anyway!

The surprising thing here is that I have been tracing the family history since 1977 and along the way I have told my mother of my various findings and she has shown some interest but not overly so. She could have easily told me about the various bits and pieces I am now discovering years ago but she didn’t because the time was not right. Now she does want to talk and remember.

Mum asked me about her grandmother’s life in England and  I had to say that despite years of looking I had a big blank from the time of Elizabeth Judge’s birth in Brackley, Northamptonshire 1857 (illegitimate) to her marriage to Thomas Price in Moxley, Staffordshire in 1878. Over the last few years I have been looking at digitised copies of census records on Ancestry, Find My Past, Genes Reunited etc as they became available and without any luck. She has to be there somewhere and Mum has now asked me to find her so that she knows that part of her beloved grandmother’s life.

All the details of my previous searches in the 1861 and 1871 census are back in Melbourne but I might start fresh next week. Maybe this time I will find Elizabeth Judge. Stay tuned.

To come back to the original purpose of this blog, don’t waste opportunity when close family members or even distant aunts, uncles and cousins are still living. Sometimes you need to make several attempts at finding out details on the family. The first approach might be the wrong time, they need to know you better, or something changes in their life. In this instance, it was my mother’s illness and as we approach the end of our own lives, we tend to think of those who have gone before us. If you can, get them to share their stories before it is all too late.


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