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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
Carmel Proctor 15/07/2003 22:22:04

Hello again Anthony If you were looking for Irish roots from the mid 19c and all you knew was that it was southern Ireland and a name of a Father and daughter the fathers occupation being alabourer where would you start

if the daughter was born after 1868, then look for her birth in General Registration. If not, she may be in the IGI. There are all sorts of other possibilities, but the most fundamental is simply to localise the surname using a variety of sources- Griffiths' Valuation, ci=urrent telephone books and even basic sources on the origins of Irish names- and then seek specific records of your family in the places which emerge as the most likely.

Karen Tempest 15/07/2003 22:25:15

Hi Antony, My great grandfather was born in 1883, his mother was a widow of a farm labourer. I found the record of his birth but in the 1891 and 1901 census there isn't any trace of him or his mother. Then in 1909 he married in the town where he was born. I also know his mother couldn't write because on my g grandfathers birth certificate it says the mark of Ann Watkin (mother). Can you tell me where else I could look to find them during this time? Thanks. By the way saw Antiques ghost show this evening, it was very impressive and fascinating.

I'm delighted to read that you enjoyed Antiques Ghostshow- thank you! Perhaps, just perhaps, you can't find his mother in the census because she remarried and was living under a different name. Have you tried looking for any woman called Ann of the right name? if you found a possibility, you could check if it was right using General Registration records.

Vikki Brown 15/07/2003 22:28:03

I Have an Ancestor who was an apothecary in Bethnal Green, he was born in 1724 and died in 1787, I have his will and it gives an address which no longer exists. I have contacted Apothecary Hall and they have no record of him, can you suggest anywhere else to look.

I would have suggested the Apothecary's Company as a good first step. Instead , how about looking for a Prerogative Court of Canterbury will in the indexes for 1787, or look for his apprenticeship in the Society of Genealogists' Index to Apprentice Indentures, which covers the period when he would have been apprenticed rather nicely.

Lindsay Thompson 15/07/2003 22:29:40

Hi Anthony, My great uncle emigrated to New Zealand, probably sometime in the 1950s. I know he lived and died in Christ Church but i don't know if that is where he first sailed too. I have no idea which ship he travelled on or from which port, and as i've said I do not know the exact date. I have no other leads. What would you recommend I try? Thanks

First, apologies to the previous enquirer- I see you've already got your apothecary's will. Good luck with the apprenticeships, then. Now, to this question- you can seek your great uncle in New Zealand General Registration records to see if he married or died there, and in either event you would then get a valuable hook on which to build further research.

Brian Worboys 15/07/2003 22:34:07

My great grandfather appears on the 1881 and 1891 censuses as born in Hertford and aged 33 on one and 42 on the other. I have been to Hertford and checked the two parish registers and can only find a christening in July 1848. On freebmd the only birth in the right name is 1846, which would be too old for the census ages and I can't find him in 1837 online. Where do I go from here, or what do I recheck?

FreeBMD is by no means complete. You should look in the General Registration indexes themselves, where you will hopefully find your great grandfather without any problem. Failing that, try the 1851 census for Hertford.

Jackie McCarroll 15/07/2003 22:35:21

have marriage certificate and death date of my greatgrandfather but cannot find his place of birth have tried census but no luck could you advise me

Censuses are the best place for finding someone's place of birth. if you can't find him in a census, you could seek an address using, for example, published street directories, or the birth certificates of his children. But do persist- you will find an answer.

Brian Dixon 15/07/2003 22:36:13

I'm trying to search for the family of a george sutherland who was born in Scotland from Census Information whose farther was called Donald (occupation farmer). Only trouble is ive located 2 birts of a george sutherland in Scotland in 1826 . one of the farther is a Weaver the other ones occupation isn't recorded . How do i find out which one if any is correct

Try seeking both families in the 1851 census returns and see what the fathers' occupations are then. Or, see if either of the boys died young, thus perhaps eliminating one from the equation.

Sue Stevens 22/07/2003 21:46:50

On my g grandfathers wedding cert (1893)it shows his fathers profession as Foreign Merchant. What is this trade? As I can't find my g grandfather or any of his family on any census info (prior to the marriage) or any civil registration documents do you think they may be foreign although they have very british sounding names? Where should I look for information on them?

As far as I know, 'foreign merchant' means no more than that- a foreign merchant. You may find him listed in directories. Of course, he may have been so foreign as not to have been here at all, in which case you may find that his son, your great grandfather, was naturalised- records of naturalisations are at the National Archives

Zoe Crossley 22/07/2003 21:56:45

I have my maternal grandmothers date of birth from her death certificate however when i obtained the birth cert it has a different date on it and also from a different town however other relatives made comments she was a bastard child (second hand info). There are no other florence louisa king's in 1906 other than this one how i can verifty these details, not quite sure where to go from??

Dates of birth (and ages) on death certificates are often inaccurate, because the informant may not have known for certain. This is more of a problem the further back you go, as of course people considered it rather rude to ask peoples' ages when they were alive. To help you work out if the birth record you found is the right one, why not obtain your grandmother's marriage certificate, and see if her father's name (or absence of it) matches up with what is on the birth certificate you found?

Shelli . 22/07/2003 21:56:48

Do you know if many familes were missed off the 1901 census? mine must've been on mars on census night!!

Possibly Mars, or an unenumerated house, but I'm afraid a more likely answer is that they were enumerated but the indexers of the 1901 census failed to copy the entry accurately. If in doubt, ignore the 1901 website and go and look at the address where you think the family should have been in the original records, which you can see on film at the Family Records Centre (or get someone else to look for you).

Chris Bramwell 22/07/2003 21:58:49

hello anthony could you please tell me how i could find out which submarine my father served on during world war 2 thank you

Generally, 2nd World War records are still confidential, but if you can prove you are your father's next of kin, and that he is deceased, then you can apply to the Army Records Centre (part of the MOD) at Bourne Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex, and they should send you his service papers, which should tell you all about his exploits beneath the waves.

George Sales 22/07/2003 22:00:03

How do you trace an ancestor who left a village in the early 1800's and you cannot find any trace of him?

Not easily! If he married elsewhere, banns may have been called in his home village, so the banns book may tell you. if his family were the sort to make wills, later family wills might refer to your long-lost relative and say where he was then living. But otherwise you may simply have to start trawling through indexes such as the IGI, seeking him here and of course abroad- Anmerica, India, Australia- the list is literally endless. Hopefully, though, a descendant of his may crop up here, on Genesconnected, and solve your problem!

Jennifer Lusty 22/07/2003 22:01:04

Iam trying to find my Great Grandfather William Smith who was born in Tottenham, Middlesex in 1852, but am not having any success. I have looked in the Birth Indexes for 1851, 1852, 1853 but not found anything. Have also checked the 1851 census in case the date was 1851 without any luck, but have found him in the 1881 census when he was married and living in Gloucestershire and all the details tie up. I have a copy of his Marriage Certificate so have his father's name of David and have other relevant dates, but I still need his birth details with his Mothers name. The GRO have looked up 3 references for me but none of them have David for the father. Cany you suggest what I can do next?

Researching Smith in Tottenham is bound to be tricky. There must have been loads of William Smiths born in the area, and you may ultimately save yourself a lot of time and bother by biting the bullet and paying to have them all checked. However, David is a nice, unusual name. Why not seek him in the 1851 census indexes for the area and, if he had a distinctive occupation, you could look for him in the local trade directories as well.

Bridget Earls 22/07/2003 22:02:40

Both my parents are from Limerick Ireland although I also have an english link as my gt grandad was from Yorkshire. I went to Limerick last October (first time since I was 6 mths)and thats when I decided to start my family history. I took photo of family grave which was a gt help. My question is " I am going on hols to Kerry Ireland in Aug is there anywhere there that I can carry out my own search on my family in Limerick or is Dublin the only place? Also any sites with access to irish 1901 census or records? Many thanks Bridgette

Lucky you going off to Kerry- it's a beautiful county, I'm told. Not much there though, I should imagine, for tracing Limerick ancestors- you are really going to need to do the research in Limerick or Dublin, or have it done there for you.

Chris Talbot GC 22/07/2003 22:03:14

I have an uncle and aunt who emigrated to South Africa in the 1960s,unfortunatly apart from there names I have no further details, can you point me in the right direction as to were to start searching for them ?

South African research can sometimes be tricky, but you may be in luck here, as your aunt and uncle should be tracable through telephone directories. Modern ones are on the Internet, I think, and you should be able to get access to old ones through the South African Embassy in London.

Jen Masters 22/07/2003 22:03:55

my grandfather was supposed to have died at sea in the war in west africa but on the war site it says grave so and so and plot number does this mean he has a grave there and was found at sea

If there is a grave then there was presumably a body: his death certificate should tell you more. War deaths (and deaths at sea, for that matter) are indexed in their own seperate indexes at the Family Records Centre and you should be able to find your grandfather without too much trouble. Also, see my earlier answer this evening about getting service papers from the Army Records Centre.

Sue Stevens 22/07/2003 22:05:24

Last week you gave me some info on the University of Newfoundland to find out about Merchant Seaman. Do you have a website or address for these people? Thanks

Yes. It's They have a very efficient search service. Lots of records of British merchant seamen are kept in Newfoundland now, not least because a vast number of the original settlers of Newfoundland were mariners, many of whom were from Dorset adjascent maritime counties. The previous enquirier who wondered where their early 19th century relative dissappeared to should take note if they came from the Dorset area!

Jan Coles 22/07/2003 22:05:26

When researching family with common names (Davies)how do you know which person belongs in your family

By being very painstaking in noting down all the information you can find about them from as many sources as you can find- birth, marriage and death records, wills, censuses and so on. Actually, it's not always the end of the world dealing with 'common' names. You may find they were the only Davies family in their village, whereas some very uncommon names may be ten-a-penny in their home village, and virtually impossible to tell apart.

George Sales 22/07/2003 22:06:38

My ggg grandmother b 1837 was illegitimate and in the baptism her mother did not name the father. Is there any other way of finding his name?

Maybe not, but you can try her marriage certificate, where she might have stated it if she knew it, the Bishop's Transcipts (as opposed to the parish registers), a birth certificate if the birth took place after 1 July that year, and also see if there are any other surviving parish records, like churchwardens' accounts and bastardy bonds, where the guilty father might have been called to book and ordered to help pay for the child's upkeep.

Zoe Crossley 22/07/2003 22:06:43

Thank you Anthony, I will do that I didn't realise that was how the birth date was obtained on a death cert just by whoever registered the death I guess a lot of research is guesswork and assuming you have all the correct details can be misleading. Good work on Antiques Ghost show!

Glad you enjoyed Antiques Ghostshow! The wider point to make about your question is that many- the vast majority- of the records we use for our research were made by people telling clerks what they thought. And we all make mistakes, or are not quite sure, and sometimes of course may even want to throw the enquirer off the scent. Don't assume details in records are going to be wrong, but don't be too surprised if your research shows that they are.