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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
Janice Widdowson 26/04/2005 21:01:27

My great grandfather was George Henry Hassall born Ticknall Derbyshire in 1868. I’m having trouble tracking him in censuses due to variation in spelling between Hassall & Astle. Hassall is definitely used post 1901. I can’t find his birth details using Free BMD/1837/Ancestry. What is my next step. I am 99% sure I have his marriage certificate and this is spelt Astle.

Sorry you're having such a hastle/hassle! You've basically got the answer already- variant spellings. If you keep on looking under different variants you will almost certainly find George's birth registered. As far as finding him and his family in earlier censuses goes, you could always go and look at the actual census returns for Ticknall, scrolling through to see how George's family were recorded - searching that way around means you don't need to second guess how any indexer could misinterpret what was originally written down.

Janice Widdowson 13/12/2005 20:59:38

Thomas James Emery died in 1940 aged 86 years. I have a copy of his Will and he bequeathed all furniture & household effects to his wife Sarah Emery. He bequeathed all real and personal estate to his trustees to covert into money and pay his wife the sum of 15 shillings a week until it ran out or she died, thereafter to pass to his sons Thomas junior and Daniel. Sarah died in Dec 1943 and I believe there would have been money left to pass to the sons. She died an alcoholic in Barnstaple workhouse. Other than requesting a copy of her will (if there is one) is there any other line of enquiry I can follow re her estate, as I am trying to trace whereabouts of son Daniel?

You should certainly seek a will or administration for poor old Sarah. Other than that, you could try contacting any firms of solicitors (or the present day partnerships that have inherited their records) mentioned in James's will. However, I wouldn't expect to find too much by this line of enquiry. If you're after Daniel, I should try looking in General Registration to see if he married or had children of his own.

Janice Widdowson 13/12/2005 21:20:48

Re my earlier question re Daniel Emery he would have been 69 when his father died and was mentioned in the newspaper write-up but not present at the funeral. He left his wife and children many years earlier and "disappeared" and I believe she remarried although cant find details. Can you tell me how to investigate divorce records?

Divorce records for the period 1858 to 1943 are at the National Archives (class J 77), and searchable through, although few for 1937-1943 survive. Those after 1943 are held by the Principal Registry of the Family Division (First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP, 0207 7936 7000.

Janice Widdowson 17/10/2006 21:00:34

My Ancestor Daniel Emery was born in 1874 and through census and other records I know that he was involved in the antique furniture trade. I last traced him in a trade directory in 1908 which mentions this. I’ve further traced him via his son’s army records to 1921 living in Hoxton, London. He lost touch with his family so there’s no-one to ask, and I cant find death records. How can I find out about what he was doing in Hoxton in 1921?

Later directories may help, and also think about electoral registers (at the local archives), which you can use to trace him forward at the same or nearby addresses. I know there are plenty of furniture markets in Hoxton and Hackney now, and maybe there were then as well. In place of a death record, you could try seeking a will in the Principal Probate Registry records.

Peter Wickins 17/11/2005 21:03:46

Hi Anthony, I am a bit stuck and hope you can point me in the right direction. I am looking for my 5x Great Grandparents George Wickins and Ann. I have a fair bit of info on my 4x Great Grandparents (George Wickins Born 1801 Minster, Sheppy, Kent and Elizabeth Gouge Born 1808, Borden, Kent) but as I get further back its getting harder. I have found that about 99% of the “Wickins” were born, lived and died in Kent. I know that my 5x Great Grandparents names were George Wickins and Ann through contact with a Genes United member, he said that George and Ann were on George Junior’s baptism record but can’t get any further. I had a friend try to get the Fiche Film for the Kent Parish registers from the LDS but they called her and said that the film was only available to be read in Salt Lake City and can not be distributed. Any idea where I might be able to look next? I live in Australia by the way. Thank you in advance Pete Wickins

first, re-VERA PULFORD's question that I've just answered, I have realised that you probably mean the 1950's rather than the 1860's - if so, the Familysearch site will not help you. Now, for this question: I agree that Wickins is a very popular surname in Kent - and that it can get harder to trace family lines as you work back, especially beyind the safety-net of censuses. I cannot comment on the LDS's decision regarding the distribution of their Kentish parish register collection - it sounds a bit unusual as they normally do send microfilms out to any Family History Library that requests them, anywhere in the world. However, remember that they merely have copies of what is in the kent archives. If you cannot visit them in person, hire a genealogist who can.

Peter Wickins 17/11/2005 21:34:38

Thanks for your answer, if i can't get any luck finding out more about the "Wickins" i suppose i might have to hire someone just gets a bit expensive being over he in Oz. So do you think i may still be able to veiw the films some how, would it be worth calling the LDS and asking if there is another way to view them? and is there an address/website of the Kent archives? Thank you

Certainly ask the LDS - I assumed you ahd already. For addresses of all British archives see

Heather Wickham 16/12/2003 21:06:13

Hello Anthony. I know that 4 of my family were buried in lairs in the Vale of Leven Cemetery in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire. I wrote to them asking if they could give me names and dates of death. They replied with names, ages and dates. I subsequently wrote to GRO in Edinburgh to acquire death certificates only to be told that they could not find them. I am totally mystified. Could the dates I was given by the cemetery have been dates of burial, rather than death? Many thanks. Heather

I apologise for the delay there- I was loking up lairs. The answer is that the dates on the gravestones could possibly be wrong- a long time may have elapsed between the deaths and the stones being erected. I have written an article on gravestones in this month's Your Family Tree magazine which discusses this and other grave related issues. So, yes, I would advise widening the search for the deaths in General Registration to allow for possible errors.

Heather Wickham 20/07/2004 20:59:33

Anthony - how can I search for a date of death for my great-great-grandfather, George Short, who, acc. to a newspaper cutting we have, was 100 years old in 1932, worshipped at St Jude's Church in Ballynafeigh, Belfast and acc. to family anecdote lived to 100 or 101. I can't get to the PRO in Belfast, a letter to the church came back because of incomplete address. I feel sure he would have been buried at this church. Do I need the services of a prof. genealogist such as yourself?! Heather

Well, yes, I could do this for you, but presumably his death would have been reported in the local paper as well, for which see my answer to Antonia Harper below.

Heather Wickham 25/04/2006 21:05:07

Hi Anthony, This is a request for a friend whose great grandparents were French (Mlle Hutin and Monsieur Martin). We have Mlle Hutin's birth certificate, born in Herbeuville near Verdun; they married possibly around 1860 and later went to Paris (around time of Fr-Prussian war 1870) then came to London. We are hoping to find Monsieur Martin's birth certificate and the Hutin/Martin marriage certificate in France - my friend is going on holiday to France and wonders if you could direct her to a source. Many thanks. Heather

Actually, the answer I gave just now to Giliam Remzi is applicable to you too. Your advantage is definately that you know where the poeople concerned came from. (Funny - we don't normally get many questions about French ancestry here!)

Heather Wickham 01/09/2009 21:06:53

Hello Anthony, This isn't really genealogy, but with your knowledge ....! A friend has lost touch with her brother who emigrated to Australia some time ago. She hasn't heard from him for 5 years and is very anxious to get in touch with him. Have you any ideas please? Thank you. Heather

I'm afraid you are right, that this isn't genealogy and a problem this recent is not one that a record-based search is likely to solve. Good luck anyway!

Heather Wickham 20/01/2009 21:53:27

Hello again,Anthony. Since you don't seem to have many takers tonight, I'm writing again! Re earlier question, children of Charles Collerson both had him as father. Charles Collerson himself was son of Charles Collerson Snr and Honor Fisk, so no illegitimacy there. The name Long doesn't seem to come from either side of the family, but seems to have come from the USA, but I don't know why. Do you know any US websites which would inform me of Charles Jnr's death between 1896 and 1919? Perhaps he died there? If he was a deserter, would this show up at TNA? Many thanks. Heather

It is possible that the name Long had been used as an alias (due to, perhaps an illegitimacy) for several generations, though that is only one possibility, of course. Another is that Annie's maiden name was Long, or married a Long, thouigh this would suggest considerable confusion on the part of the woman in 1919. For US civil registration, the bast starting-point is and you could certainly pursue the arm,y career, including desertion, through the TNA records. Good luck! .

Heather Wickham 20/01/2009 21:02:06

Hi Anthony. I’m trying to find out what happened to my ancestor Charles COLLERSON. Charles and wife Annie emigrated to USA between 1886 and 1890. Two children were born in USA. Annie alone returned to England with 2 children in 1897. The surnames of all three were now LONG. Two family anecdotes conflict – one that he was killed in an accident, the other that he was an army deserter and she left him! (Which war would that have been?) _Children’s birth certificates identify Charles Collerson as the father, but the daughter’s marriage certificate in 1919 names her father Charles COLLERSON LONG (deceased). I cannot trace Charles’s death, under either name, in USA, nor do I understand the change of name – there seems to be no second marriage. A mystery!

Good evening! We’re starting with a difficult one here. There are a number of reasons why a family might use two surnames, and the most usual is illegitimacy: Charles senior may, for example, have been the son of a Miss Long, who later married a Collerson (or maybe the other way around), or the of a Miss Long by a man called Collerson (or maybe the other way around). However, the major war at this time was the Boer War, and sometimes men enlisted under their mother’s maiden names, so this offers another possibility to explain the conundrum. Either way, the way forward would seem to be seeking the birth records of the children of Charles to see how the parents were described, seeking an army record (at The National Archives) and ultimately seeking Charles’s own birth record under either surname. If you find a birth that leads back to people with both surnames then you will know you are working along the right lines.

Heather Wickham 20/05/2008 21:02:21

Hi Anthony, I am trying to trace the birth date of my Scottish great-grandfather Andrew James Thorburn, and his paternal ancestry. Andrew's marriage certificate in 1873 in Cupar, Fife gives his parents as David Thorburn, a draper and Jane Thorburn, nee Thorburn! However, Andrew's death certificate in 1878, registered by his mother, describes him as illegitimate, with Jane Thorburn mother and NO father. In the 1871 census for Edinburgh, Andrew, 22, was a coachman, born in England, but I can find no relevant Andrew Thorburn born in England at the right time. Any ideas please? Many thanks. Heather

Normally, I would not hesitate to say that the death certificate is less likely to be right than the marriage. Why? Because when people married, they gave information on their own parents, who they presumably knew well, whereas on a death certificate the informant is usually two generations removed from the deceased's parents - or may not have been related to the deceased at all. However, in this very interesting case, when the 'bad news', so to speak, appears on the death record, you must wonder if that is the truth, and a more sanitised version of the story is what appears on the marriage record - a feeling enhanced by the somewhat suspicious circumstance (given the rest of the circumstances) of the mother having the same maiden name as her husband. Hopefully, you will not need to wonder which was true, as using the Old Parochial Registers and earlier censuses, you should be able to find Andrew's baptism and origins - the Kirk Sessions of his parish of origin may also shed light on the truth about his birth.

Joanna Wickens 28/08/2007 21:12:19

I have an irish 2 x great grandad, however i can only locate him on the 1891 and 1901 census. I know that he was deceased before his daughter married in 1915. It only shows his place of birth on the census as ireland. However it did say he was a railway guard as his occupation, do you believe there is any point trying to view any possible employment records for further information? I am pretty stuck, especially as i cannot even locate a date of death etc. many thanks

Railway employment records can be very revealing, and also difficult to use - in your case you could spend a lot of time looking for something that gave your ancestor's place of birth, only to find it saying 'Ireland'. In many cases, the more general approaches to lcoalising surnames within Ireland can work - my book 'Tracing Your Irish Family History' (Collins) is coming out this October and will explain how to do this in detail.

Stephen Whitty 31/07/2007 21:16:34

Iam seeking information about Thomas S Jones and his wife Annie Joan ,nee Whitty,T S JH was born 1908.A J W wasborn in Liverpool 1910 and died 1992 swale, I have information that has them living in Faversham but cannot find any records in crematorium or cemetries.

Do you mean that you are specifically looking for details of where their remains are? You could see if either left a will, that specified where they were to be buried or cremated, or if you know the dates when they died (from their death certificates) you could see if the local paper reported their funerals.

Nicola White 20/02/2007 21:12:59

Hi! I've hit a brick wall trying to find my great grandparent's marriage cetificate. I think that i am looking between 1916 and 1918, but haven't found anything at all. Im basically trying to ascertain whether the family i think are my nan's fathers family are correct - though i could get this from her parents marriage certificate. Have you any suggestions on what to try? Soory if its a but jumbled!! Nicola

I would suggest seeking the marriage over a wider time frame.

Nicola White 20/02/2007 21:58:46

Hi, thanks, i thought about that but i knwo my great gran Gladys was born in 1898, so i tried 1914, making her just 16 - no luck. My nan was the oldest of Glady's and Fred's children, born 1918, so i assumed they had married before her birth.

Sorry but I can't answer this as I do not recall the context.

Carl White 04/09/2012 21:06:19

hi my name is carl white but i am trying to find out about my 2x great grandfather albert edward day he was born in wookey. on ancestry according to a military record they have stated he was as him being 20 and they put down year of record 1888. on another page it states clearly he signed up 1893 in cardiff. i have been told by family that somewhere there is a welsh connection so that tyes. also i have his marriage certificate which says he was 20 in 1888 he is a patient in 1891. and i have no record for 1871 or 1901 but the 1901 i think he was abroad with military. in 1911 census he states he was 39 this making him born in 1872 which one is correct?

I note that, regarding Ancestry, you say 'they have stated...'. The only sources that are worth taking any notice of are original sources, made at the time. You ask an interesting question: which age is correct. Which is likelier to be? Men could lie about their ages to get into the army when too young: they could lie about their ages when they married, so as not to appear much older, or much younger, than their wives. You may be best off looking across a wide-ish period at Albert Clay births in the Wookey area, and check them for the right father's name (as stated on the marriage certificate), and then once you have the birth, you'll know how accurate he really was about his age.

Toni White 22/05/2007 21:41:03

how can i find out about romany gypsies. i know family excists in batley yorks and blckpool

I suggest consulting S. Floate, "My ancestors were Gypsies", SoG (1999) and joining the Romany and Traveller Family History Society, whose library is at Reading University.

Yvonne White 24/04/2007 21:15:47

Good evening, I'm trying to find information on my great grandfather. He was born in 1878 in Pendleton (Salford); I have managed to track him on the 1891 and 1901 census. I believe he married and moved to southern Ireland (either Dublin or Cork) in 1902. Can you please tell me where I might find any further information, from 1902 onwards (I know he died in 1963 in Cork). Many thanks in advance. Regards Yvonne.

His death should be registered in Cork, and you should find him in the 1911 census. Thereafter, look at what local records are available in the Cork County Heritage Centre that might tell you more about him - though probably the best source would be local people's memories. Go and ask in the lcoal pub or church (or both!)