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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
Cheryl Zanni 30/10/2007 21:08:48

Hi, I dont know where to go now. I have traced my great grandfather Carlo Zanni born in 1871 marriage certificate to Agnes Pummell in 1896 but he does not appear in any cenus. I believe he came from Lake Miggorie Italy, can you please advise. Thank you . Cheryl Zanni

You are lucky to know were abouts in Italy your ancestor originated. Italian records are held by the local mayors and the local churches, so you need to make enquiries there.

Mary Zala 17/11/2005 21:54:31

Hi Anthony My GGG grandfather was born in Brusio Switzerland about 1760, please can you tell me how I can find out about his relatives in this country, I seem to have hit a brick wall at the moment. many Thanks Mary

Swiss records are generally excellent, and those of Brusio should certainly be your next port of call. They'll be in Brusio. You can hire a record agent if you don't want to go yourself.

Gary Young 22/02/2005 20:55:33

Hi Anthony - I am trying to discover whether my great-great grandfather was a coachman to Lillie and Edward Langtry in 1880. He married in that year and gave 2 Cadogan Place, London, as his address - this was an extremely prestigious address. His wife's address at that time was the pub next door to the "modest" Langtry home which was in Norfolk Street. Biographies state that Lillie did subsequently purchase 2 Cadogan Place, but not until the late 1890's. However, a website by an American playwright states that Edward Prince of Wales had previously bought the property for her. Leading up to 1880, the affair between the Prince and Lillie was at its peak and given the link between Cadogan Place and Norfolk Street through my great-great grandparents, I wondered if the Prince had indeed bought it for her around 1880. Unfortunately, only servants are in residence at the property in the 1881 Census - subsequent Censuses to 1901 and Post Office Directories give Miss Shute as the occupier - even beyond the late 1890's when, according to biographers, Lillie is supposed to have bought the property for herself, Miss Shute is still recorded as the occupier. I have researched Miss Shute and her family and her sister-in-law was Lady Shute, who I believe was an acquaintance of Lillie. Unfortunately, the property was demolished around 1960 and is now a 5* hotel. I have contacted the Land Registry, the Hotel owners, the American Playwright, and the agent of a recent Lillie biographer who includes a photograph of the inside of 2 Cadogan Place in her book, but have not had any helpful replies. I have also searched the Digital Times Online. Where do I turn to next in trying to trace the owner rather than the occupier of 2 Cadogan Place in 1880? Thank you.

The last couple of sentences contain the actual question - how do you find the owner, rather than the occupier, of a property? If you suspect that you know, as in this case, you could seek the person(s)'s will, and see if the property was named. There may also be surviving land tax records - see J. Gibson, M. Medlycott and D. Mills’ Land and window tax assessments, FFHS (1998). You could also try the Middlesex Deeds Registry, which covers many property transactions: these are at the London Metropolitan Archives and cover the period 1709 to 1938.

Barry Young 16/12/2003 20:51:11

Hi. i hope you can point me in the right direction! I'm Trying to find my grandfather i know he was born in Edzell, Scotand in 1835 and married in 1958 after having three children with my grandmother he left in 1971. I know his full name "Gordon Cheyne Drummond" and i have a few details on his parents and grandparents and when i say detaild i mean the date they married. Hope u can help.BARRY

Dear Barry, I think you mean your grandfather was bor in 1935, not 1835- otherwise either he or you would be of a remarkable age! I think your problem here is that your grandfather left the family in 1971 and was not heard from again. With his distinctive names, he should show up in telephone directories, but only assuming he is listed and not ex-directory, which, given the circumstances you describe, he may well be. Equally, if he has passed away, he should show up clearly in the death indexes in Scotland, and it may be worth trying this, if only in order to eliminate that possibility. Otherwise, have you considered whether he may still be in touch with his original family? You know when and where he was born so you could seek his birth and then seek the births of his brothers and sisters. Armed with their names you could try using telephone directories to find them- and they may know the answer.

Barry Young 16/12/2003 21:12:45

Me again.. i just spoke to my mother and she said that she has asked her aunts(his sisters) if they knew where he was and they dont. He and My grandmother split up in New Zeland as he was posted there by the RAF. just found that out. any ideas?

Oh dear- he really had disapeared then. On the other hand, New Zealand is a relatively small place, so you could try telephone directories and death indexes there as a start. There is no way this is going to be easy- but you may be surprised what you will find once you start searching. If your grandfather is receiving an RAF pension they should know where he is. They would not tell you, of course, but they should be willing to forward a letter to him from you.

David Young 22/06/2004 20:59:19

hi Anthony, my question is this:- is there any register for miners in the north east and where do i find it - thanx dal

No register, sadly. George Bell of 113 East View, Wideopen, Tyne and Wear has an index to mining accidents in the North East, 1858-1899. Local archives sometimes hold records of individual mines, and once I found the records of a Cumbrian mine which told me that the 'miner' I wanted was actually a weaver, who made baskets for the coal, and stated his age and that he had come there from County Durham! Be prepared for disappointment, but it's defintely worth a look!

Colin Young 18/10/2011 21:09:22

Hello Anthony I am seeking a girl who was the daughter of a soldier based at Budbroke Barracks in Warwick. Going into the 1911 census through the normal system does not produce any results. Surely the military were required to produce a census of all personnel in barracks on the census day? Thanks Colin Young

Yes, certainly they were. Maybe they weren't there because this chap's regiment was stationed outside England and Wales at the time. The National Archives hold the muster rolls of each regiment, that might offer some clues.

Susan Young 24/04/2007 21:14:10

Hello Anthony, my 3x great grandfather was baptised with his mothers maiden name, Bickerton,in 1826. By the 1841 cencus he had changed his name to Young, which is what we assume assume was his fathers. In the 1851 cenus he had married had children but reverted back to Bickerton. Finally in the 1861 and subsequent cencus he remained as Young. I am positive I have the right line as his trade, a tailor, remained the same, they stayed in the same town and his wife and childrens Christian names remain the same. Do you have any idea why he would have changed his name and remained in the same place or could you point me in a direction to find out. Many thanks Susan Many thanks

He probably did not change his name - he probably used one all the time, but when dealing with officialdom he sometimes thought he'd better use the name under which his birth was registered. If he was born out of wedlock as Bickerton and then started being called Johnson, this was most likely because his mother had married a Johnson - whether her husband was your man's father, of course, is a more complicated matter to work out!

Karen Young 23/02/2010 21:02:24

Hi Anthony, I wondered whether you had any advice for someone who is hoping to make the transition from enjoying amateur genealogy as a hobby to taking it up in a professional capacity. Rather than just offer "look ups" I would like to offer a research service. I have a PhD (non-related subject) which will give confidence in my attention to detail and integrity but would prefer to offer some recognised credibility. I have been looking at distance learning degrees such as those offered by IHGS and AGRA membership. Would you consider these essential? Any other advice? Karen

I have had a wonderful and successful career as a genealogist so would certainly recommend it to others. You must take the greatest pains possible to know the subject inside out, by reading, and gaining as much experience as possible. The structured courses and examinations offered by the IHGS in Canterbury are a very good way of learning, and then testing your own mettle. I did not go through the rather complicated admission process for AGRA when I went freelance because I already had 14 years' experiece of professional work under the IHGS, but for those not lucky enough to have accrued so much research time, the AGRA process is again a very good way of ensuring that you are up to the job.

Valerie Young 01/09/2009 21:09:27

Hello Anthony, I have my fathers birth certificate which states his mother as Ethel Young formerly Hilder. But my father says his mother was Edith Young formerly Knight. His brothers birth cert states Edith. Could there possible have been mistake in her name written on my fathers cert? Or how else could I find out for sure? Edith has always been my nan and as far as we know this is true? Any ideas? Thanks Val.

Well, official certificates and also family memories can both be faulty at times: all one can ever do is see where the balance of probability lies. Seer how she appears on birth records of her other children, and see if she was the informant of any herself: also, see what she said on her marriage record.

Valerie Young 17/04/2012 21:57:27

Hi Anthony On the birth cert is says Ethel Young formerly Hilder. Informant E Young On the marriage cert: Editha Elizabeth Knight

Ah ha, and was this the name of the woman the father had married a few months earlier? If not, then we can surmise that she was claiming to be his wife, but was not really.

Valerie Young 17/04/2012 21:28:04

My fathers birth certificate has the wrong mothers name on it? Were mistakes made? He was adement that she was not his birth mother. I have got the marriage certificate of his mother and father feb 1916 with the correct names on and he was born in the Nov 1916. Is there anyway I can check this out? Thank you.Val

Some mistakes were made, but what is recorded on a birth record is probably going to be an accurate record of what the registrar was told by the informant. The informant might well have chosen not to tell the truth, though - so I am curious: if his parents had married earlier in 1916, then who was the woman whose name was down as his mother on the birth record, if not the father's wife?

Valerie Young 17/04/2012 21:40:24

Thanks Anthony. I have no idea of the other woman on the certificate, ive tried to trace her name but no one comes up around the area or time. Really dont know what to do about it.

This is a most unusual business. Could you state the names concerned, on the marriage record, and on the birth record. Is the woman described as 'X, formerly Y'? Who was the informant of the birth?

Leslie Young 17/01/2012 21:28:19

Thanks again for the last answer it gives a reason why we cannot find her. Another question is it possible to find out from department of work and pensions any info? i.e. has she ever drawn a pension or if she has died? As I know that she worked in a chemist in 1956 and also in a NAFFI in Havordsfordwest.. Just grasping at straws now!!

Yes, they'll know, but they won't tell you. But Social Services do run a 'dead or alive' service whereby they can tell you whether someone is one or the other (but no more). It's so long since I've used it that I cannot remember more details.

Leslie Young 17/01/2012 21:16:01

Thanks for your reply.I will contact local newspapers in Coventry and Stranraer. Yes I have looked for a will but there was not one. I have also talked to the informant on the death cert but all he could offer was that he "thought" that perhaps she had gone to Scotland. Hense I have looked for any paper trail there but again nothing. Am i to give up this search or is there other areas that I could investigate? Her name is Sheila Gwendoline HANSON b. 12/01/1934 @ plymouth. Married William GILMOUR b. dec 1933.d. aug 1985 @ coventry

Well done for having done so much. Presumably you have searched for her death, or a possible remarriage, in Scotland - but of course she could be happily living up there, in an old people's home, perhaps, in which case she could be virtually untraceable. One thing you could try would be identifying her parents, and then her siblings, and try to find them, and they may know perfectly well where she is.

Leslie Young 17/01/2012 22:00:14

Thanks very much for your answers tonight, I have a few more leads now,

My pleasure!

Leslie Young 17/01/2012 21:01:35

Hello Anthony. I have been tracing my Wifes family tree for close to 10 years, I have got back to 1700, I am now trying to fill in the gaps in the recent history, and I am trying to find my wifes natural mother as my wife was adopted in 1956. We have got the adoption papers so we know her name. The problem I have come up against is that I can find no records for her since she married in 1956, (not to the father of my wife). I have spoken to her ex-brother in law but he has no idea where she is, or might have gone after she split from her husband in about 1960. Her husband died in 1985, but it is believed that they never divorced. I employed people tracer but they were not able to find her. And I have tried theElectoral roll UK and Scotland but keep drawing blanks. Are there any records to search for changes in name by deed poll? As this is the only thing that I can think that I have not searched Can you please offer any advice to where I might go next?

Deed polls are usually published in local newspapers. You know where her husband died, so you could ask the local newspaper there if they have ever published anything, or you can search them yourself - but that probably isn't the answer. She may have remarried, or gone abroad, or may have opted out of the electoral registers and/or telephone directories. One step you could take would be to focus on whoever was the informant of the husband's death - this will be on the death certificate, and see if you can find them now - so as to ask them. Also, have you tried looking to see if he left a will?

Leslie Young 18/03/2014 21:12:38

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.

Leslie Young 18/03/2014 21:13:08

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 18/03/2014 21:38:12

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.