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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
Fi aka Wheelie Spice and Lilly 23/09/2003 21:07:21

How do I find my living relatives in Canada and Australia. Are there any specific websites that would be able to help me.

There are many Australian and Canadian genealogical websites listed on For finding living relatives, it's always worth starting with the telephone directories.

Lynda Ferret Lady Peters 23/09/2003 21:09:04

Hi Anthony, I am having a problem searching for the death of several relatives at the FRC. They were all in the Canning Town/West Ham area towards the end of the 19th century. I have them on the census up until 1881 but then nothing. It is possible that the returns for this area are incomplete - if so where do I go as I do not have an exact date of death. Lyn Geeves

I have never heard that the death records for those areas are defective and, of all types of General Registration, deaths are the best recorded (very hard to hide a dead body). Perhaps you are going wrong by assuming they died there whereas they may have left and gone further afield- bear in mind that London was expanding rapidly outward at the time, and carrying many people out to the new suburbs. Try trying there.

Rita Bonney 23/09/2003 21:12:07

Hi Anthony sorry to bother you again i have just sent a question to you about the Knights what I was trying to say is that Rowland Charles Knight is not listed but one of his sons my uncle was of the same name and I remember him very well

Rowland Charles Knight is a good, distinctive combination of names. You should not have too much trouble finding him in General Registration. If he does not appear in England and Wales, try the various indexes at the Family Records Centre covering all those people from here who married abroad, at what was the height of the British Empire.

Sandra Hennell 23/09/2003 21:12:54

Dear Anthony I have found a website on which I traced my Gt. Grandmother and her youngest daughter on tickets bound for Halifax Nova Scotia. It is called inGeneas Inc. (am waiting for records to arrive as we speak via email)my Gt.Grandmother appeared in census 1871 and 1881 but was not on 1901. So as she was born in Canada deduced she had gone back home. Is there a site where I can do more searching in Canada apart from the one I have just mentioned? Sandra

Nova Scotia has very good census, General Registration and parish records. Some are available on the Internet and, as in the previous question, you can see what's available via Otherwise, you may need to hire a record searcher or geenalogist over there to take the matter further.

Jean Newson 23/09/2003 21:18:50

I have tried to get my Grandmother birth certificate,i have her date of birth . mrriage certificate ,she is on the 1901 census and her age and date of birth all ties up. they say she was born in Reading ,ihave applied for birth certifcates and also been on free BMD but still no joy. any other suggestions. Jean Harris

Have you applied for all possible birth certificates for the right name and date in Reading as listed in the original General Registration records? FreeBMD is not complete. This could be where you are falling down. If there is genuinely no sign of a birth certificate, try the registers of the several Reading parish churches instead, or why not look up her father (as named on her marriage certificate) in the 1881 or 1891 censuses, both of which are now fully indexed.

Judy Mould 23/09/2003 21:20:38

Hi Anthony I have reached a seemingly brick wall. I am searching for a Sampson Whewell. I know he was a coalminer and lived in West Bromwich in 1896 (when my grandfather was born). He is not listed on the 1881 census, he is not listed on the 1901 census, I have checked birth and marriage records for that name and have no matches. Where do I go from here? I vaguely know that he was still living in 1922 when my grandparents marriage because He and his wife did not approve of the match. Jude - Portsmouth

It is great that the 1881 and 1901 censuses are indexed, but they are indexed under specific spellings. One variant spelling and the person you want won't appear. I would guess very strongly that he is there, but under a variant spelling. Try making a list of alternative spellings and key them in and sooner or later I bet you he'll turn up. I'll get you started: Wewell, Werill, Whewill, Wewill, Well....

Theresa Gray 23/09/2003 21:23:56

Are there any courses/qualifications in Genealogy?

Yes. The best courses are run by the Society of Genealogists. For qualifications and correspondence courses there is The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury.

Tracy Matsell 23/09/2003 21:33:22

Hi Anthony. I'm having extreme difficulties with my great great grandfather Jean Baptiste Hueck who was born on St Thomas, Virgin Islands in 1854. He came to this country in the late 1870s. My difficulty is in finding appropriate records. The Virgin Islands was then under Danish rule, now US. Jean was probably the son of a white Dutch man and a freed black slave, and appears to have followed the catholic faith. The only records available here seem to be films of some parish registers which the LDS Centre in London holds. I can find no records at the National Archives (such as naturalisation). I cannot find any FHS or local history society for the Virgin Islands, and am therefore unable to add any detail to the life he is likely to have lived on St Thomas, nor on the origins of his parents. Can you give me any help or advice. This is my one big brick wall and I feel that I need expert help on this but cannot find anyone likely to specialise in this area. Thanks, Tracy.

I'm not going to be an expert in Virgin Island records. However, you are probably going to need Catholic parish registers, and they are most likely to be with either the local churches or the local Catholic bishop. The only way may well be to contact them and explain the situation. However, why not check out what ever is listed for the Virgin Islands under (seemingly the panacea for half of tonight's questions!)- you may find a genealogist working out there listed as well. If not, I could try to help further. One tip- if Jean married over here, his marriage certificate should state his father's name- a start, at least.

Jill Thurston 23/09/2003 21:36:19

Sorry for length of earlier question. Would it be normal in 1897 to have a nickname entered on marriage certificate where she is married as Bessie Fisher?

Frankly, you cannot tell. Sometimes, yes, someone could have been married with their familiar name, 'Bessie' or whatever, but have been registered at birth under another name. in fact, to add a little clarity to this, Bessie IS a nickname and it is highly unlikely she would have been registered with that name when she was born. What I was really trying to explain is that, whilst Elizabeth is the most likely, she could just as easily have been called Florence or Brunhilda. Therefore, if you look at the parish register, you will have a much better chance, in this case, of spotting the right perdon, or at least seeing what other possibilities there may be.

John Girvin 23/09/2003 21:47:40

Hello Anthony,i`ve only recently started on my Family Tree. Been using "scotlandspeople"site mostly. I`m really enjoying it, but can see I`m going to come to a Problem. Most of the GIRVIN `s I`m tracing all come from the "Partick" area of Glagow. I`ve got to 1867 Marriage Cert; & 1881 Census Birth place just says Ireland , no whereabouts. !st How do I get Earlier Census`s & How to I get a clue to whereabouts in Ireland. 2nd if I need help from a researcher,is it better to go for one who comes from Glasgow,& therefore knows the Area. 0r one from Edinburgh who may live nearer the RecordsOffice. Thanking You in Anticipation . John Girvin -Watford.

Partick was certainly the Catholic area of Glasgow, and still is, and there were very many Catholic immigrants from Ireland. it is worth trying to find the family in each census, as sometimes they did say whereabouts they came from. The next thing is to look for the deaths of the immigrant generation as the Scottish death certificates have the great advantage of listing parents' names in full. Hopefully, you can then pick the family up in Ireland using, say, Griffith's Valuation, in which the father could and hopefully will apear by name. As far as chosing searchers goes, I could help, but otherwise I'd go for one in Edinburgh as they will have better access to all the Svottish records kept there.

Linda Gardiner 23/09/2003 21:53:03

Hi – Do you know whether the term ‘orphan’ in the late 1800’s meant losing your mother rather than the meaning we understand it today – ie both parents? I have noted this happening in Berkshire/Oxford several times where children have been called ‘orphans’ at school when they had only lost their mother – and their father was still living. Of course, the Mother in those days was the one responsible for looking after the children rather than the husband – so it is plausible. But I wondered what your thoughts are on this and whether you had come across it yourself? Regards Linda

We think of Americanisms 'corrupting' our language in the 20th century, but in fact this use of 'orphan' to mean just one parent being dead, although chiefly used in America, may, on your evidence, be of English origin. The late 1800's, of course, was pre-Oxford English Dictionary and words were open to wider interpretation than latterly. I must say that my instinct would have been to think that an orphan was one who had lost both parents, but in fact it can mean that only one had died. That is a lesson we can all take away with us from this evening's session.

Sharon Reynolds 23/09/2003 21:53:13

Hi Anthony. I want to trace my grandmother's familt tree but I'm having problems because I don't know her surname. Her parents died when she was very young and she was raised by an aunt whose surname she used for her marriage certificate although she was never formally adopted. She had her first child before she married and entered the father's surname as her maiden name on the certificate. Is there any way I can find out who she was or should I give it up as a lost cause?

What a tangled web here! Just to be clear, have you got her marriage certificate? On that, she should name her father. Failing that, if you know who the aunt was, and there's no other way of solving the problem, you may have to trace the aunt's siblings and then trace down to see who their children were, and which of them died soon after their child/children were born. That sounds convoluted but it should get you to the name of the right child who was your grandmother.

Rita Bonney 23/09/2003 21:55:04

Hi Anthony sorry to bother you again i have just sent a question to you about the Knights what I was trying to say is that Rowland Charles Knight is not listed but one of his sons my uncle was of the same name and I remember him very well

Hi, Rita. I answered your question below, but don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further problems.

Katie Lawrence 21/10/2003 20:54:13

Hi Anthony! My g-g-grandfather WALTER GABRIEL MCKAY appears on the 1901 census but not on the 1891 or 1881 - even though he was born c1860. He married in 1889 but neither he nor his wife are on the 1891 census - though they had a daughter in 1891. I have his marriage cert, his sons birth cert and daughters death cert (age 1day) and have found his wife and her parents on the 1881. I have scoured 1837online for his birth cert but he appears never to have been registered. How do I find out more about him? I have his fathers name (from the marriage cert) and their is only one GABRIEL McKAY, (and he is living in portsmouth as he should be.) Yet I still cannot find anything about my g-g-grandfather. I also cannot find GABRIEL MCKAY (the father) on scotlandspeople's birth's records, even though I sent off to the scottish records office for them to search too. Please pass on any suggestions you have - I am truly grateful for any help at this stage! Thank you for your time, -Kat

You have obviously thought about Scotland as a possibility, but don't forget how many peple with Scottish ancestry and therefore Scottish names lived in Northern Ireland. If you have been using the indexed 1881 and 1891 censuses, why not try searching for the most likely addresses in the original returns- the indexes, after all, are not perfect (and think of variants like MacKay as well.

Sharron Walker 21/10/2003 20:58:23

Hi I always thought that my maiden was Walker untill i received my g.grandmothers death cert' and found out that her maiden name was Ridley (florence Walker Ridley). She had 2 children out of wedlock one being my nan Hilda Walker, I also have their birth certs', but why would she give her 2 children her middle name Walker and not Ridley. And the only Florence Ridley I can find on the 1901 census was born in Cumberland/lumplugh and not Penrith which was on her death cert'and on the online1837 and FBM as Penrith? Do you think this is the same person? thank you Sharron Knight

Illegitimacy always causes genealogists problems- and makes for interesting cases too. A possibility to look into here is that Florence may have had some close Walker relatives- maybe maternal grandparents or maternal uncles called Walker; maybe the Walkers adopted Florence's children and brought them up as their own- often, the mother's parents would pretend their daughter's illegitimate children were younger children of theirs. in this case maybe it was the great grandparents (stretching the age difference a bit, but you take my point). Places of death on death certificates are never likely to be that accurate- how would anyone know for sure? Therefore the possible entry you have found in 1901 definitely sounds worth checking out.

Tricia * 21/10/2003 21:00:22

Hello Anthony Please can you tell me, what the chance is, of the name of the groom's father being entered incorrectly on the marriage certificate. Did they have to give the correct name of their parent. Thanks Tricia

They were supposed to give the correct name, but in practise could say whatever came into their heads. However, you would want to have very good evidence before believing that the name of a parent on a marriage record was wrong: there are so many reasons why you might not have found the right birth record yet. Try using census returns to create extra co-ordinates to be absolutely sure you have found the right one.

Sandra Hennell 21/10/2003 21:02:06

Hi Anthony please could you tell me what would be the shortest time period allowed for a remarriage after a first wife dies. Also I have a family of Nottingham Hind one female member of which has married a man who also has the surname of Hind (unrelated). I do not know how to enter the info into a software package to keep the lines separate. Sandra

I've never been asked that before- as far as I am aware, you can remarry the very moment your previous spouse stops breathing- they are dead, so you aren't married any more. I'm afraid I don't know what to suggest regarding the software- but if it's not up to distinguishing apart two families with the same name then it doesn't sound much good!

Stephen Cowdrey 21/10/2003 21:02:46

Hi Anthony. On the Autumn 1918 Absent Voters List for 54 Field Road, Fulham, there is the following entry: 'Albert Edward Cowdrey – 32659 Pte., 17th Scottish Rifles'. Searching through WO 363 at the National Archives, I located the following record for 'Albert Cowdery' showing two service numbers on the front sheet. 1. No. 34438 (Private with the 17th Scottish Rifles from 1917 - 1919) 2. No. 32659 (Only matches the number given on the AVL) The record refers to an 'Albert Cowdery' and his enlistment papers detail his previous military service with the 14th Brigade RFA Dec 1902 to Jan 1916 (Service Number 29574) It also identifies his new regimental number of 34438 (as above), with the 17th (TW) Bn Scottish Rifles. However, the service number 32659 does not reappear anywhere in this record and all the soldier's personal details are not what I expected. There are discrepancies with his name, age, address, and next of kin, and nothing exists which can prove that I have the correct record apart from number 32659 on the front sheet. Could this just be an administration error or are there any other records I could search to try and make some sense of this. The record appears to be relatively complete although there is fire damage to the edges of each page. I have searched through other 'Albert' records with no success and there are no WO 364 references. I would really appreciate some guidance. Many thanks

As you anticipated this is a difficult one. Administrative errors are always possible, and one must bear in mind that this was the end of the 1st World War, during which record keeping was not the number one priority. However, the fact that the voter's list number matches up with one in the national Archives soldiers' records seems pretty persuasive. How major are the discrepancies, I wonder. It's worth bearing in mind that, with large parts of regiments being decimated very speedily, surviving soldiers were often shunted summarily from one regiment/battalion/company to another very quickly, and this does cause confusion. Try looking for him in one of the published rolls of honour of men who fought in the Great War (they are not all just for people who died) and see if they shed any light on your man, or try the medal rolls, also at the National Archives.

Katie Lawrence 21/10/2003 21:04:09

Hello again! The reason I looked at Scottish records was that Gabriel McKay's birthplace on the 1881 census is listed as Scotland. Gabriel McKay married and has his other children in Portsmouth, and Walter was not the eldest so he would have been born after Gabriel left Scotland. I asked Portsmouth Rec Office to do a search over a 10yr period for his birth and the same for his death. I can find neither, though I know he died in Portsmouth as his son visited him in hospital here!

Hello again. It sounds as if your answers are likely to lie in Scotland, and with Scottish General Registration. Bear in mind that Portsmouth was one of the major Royal Navy bases in the country and Walter or Gabriel may therefore have been a sailor. If he died while he was in service his death may be in the Armed Forces death idnexes at the Family Records Centre. If you really cannot find a death, though, try looking for a will instead. This would state his date of death, and hopefully give you some more information besides. Wills for this period are at First Avenue House in London.

Margaret Poole 21/10/2003 21:04:17

Hi I have been looking a year for my grandfathers birth and death all i can find is his marraige and him on the 1881 census. As far as i know he was born in 1846-7 and I know he died between 1889 and 1891 because his appears as a widow on the 1891 census. Could you please tell me where else I could look for his birth and death? thankyou Margaret FINCH

if your grandfather was born and died in England or Wales, the best place to look will be in General Registration records. These are at the Family Records Centre, 1, Myddleton Street, London EC1R 1UW (0208 392 5300), You can also get access to the indexes via Mormon Family History Centres, or via