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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.

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Name Date
Lynne Rice 17/01/2012 21:06:53

Second question if I’m allowed:- I have been trying to trace the birth of my great grandmother Melina Maud Messenger since 1999 without success She was born sometime between 1857 and 1863 and always says she was born in Wandsworth but the first time there is any record of her is on the 1881 census living with Abraham and Emma Messenger in Wandsworth where she states she is 18. In the November of that year she married Lewis Harris in Battersea – her age is shown as 20. On each census she gives a different birth year. I have found her on every census after 1881 but not on the 1861 or 1871 census. Emma did not marry Abraham until 1868. She is shown on the marriage certificate as Emma Brown, a widow, fathers name Thomas Ralph. Obviously with a name like Brown it is very difficult to find her. Emma always says she was born in Leiston, Suffolk (spelt various ways) and I found an Emma Ralph with a father Thomas in Leiston but her age is 13 years younger! This Emma married a Walter Aldous in Ipswich, Suffolk and lived in Leiston in 1851. Walter died in 1855 but there is no trace of Emma again until 1868 when she married Abraham. Melina could be the child of Emma or she could be the child of Abraham – or not!! Please could you advise me what records are available that would be of any help to me or have I hit a brick wall. There was a family rumour that she may have been a gypsy.

You are right to question whether Melina may have been a child of Emma before she married Abraham, and of course she may have been a child of Abraham's before he married Emma. One possibility would be to try variant spellings of Messenger (such as Messinger), and Melina is an unusual name that could easily be misrecorded or misindexed: no panacea here save to try as many possible combinations and variants of these names as possible. Or search through the Wandsworth parish registers.

Denise Howard 17/01/2012 21:06:43

Hi I am researching the Howard family from High Wycombe Buckingshire England how do I tell I am looking at the correct branch of the Howard Family as there are quite a few Howards born in High Wycombe, I have managed to trace back a few generations but would like if possible to find out who the children married but I find that there are quite a few common names for howards so not sure which is mine is there a good website to look for people will common names thanks Denise

This is a good website to use, though it depends on what period you are talking about, but beyond the Internet, don't forget the original records in the Buckinghamshire archives, as that is where the answers really lie. You ask 'how do I tell I am looking at the correct branch of the Howard Family?' The answer is, by carefully amassing as much information you have on each person, in each branch, if necessary, so as to give yourself the best chance possible of telling individuals with the same names apart. Always look for deaths/burials.

Lynne Rice 17/01/2012 21:04:07

I am trying to trace some of the children of my great grandparents Lewis and Melina Harris (nee Messenger) who were mostly born in London, probably Wandsworth or Spitalfields I have the birth certificate of their first child Elizabeth Emma born on 28/10/1882 in Wandsworth and their 5th child, Caroline born on 19th April 1891 in Spitalfields but cannot find Lilian Maud born c1883 – Wandsworth, Daisy born c1885 - Nottinghamshire (no proof that they ever lived here!), Ethel Grace c1888 died in June 1892 - Bethnal Green, (place of birth as stated on 1891 census) and Florence B c1892 Spitalfields (as shown on 1901 census) Have been on Ancestry but the only two on the parish registers are Elizabeth and Caroline (there are no further records of these 2 children, not even death records). The family moved to Olney Buckinghamshire in 1892/93 and I have information about all 4 children after this – just not the birth! Have wondered whether Caroline and Florence were the same child as Melina’s next child was born in January 1893 which meant that the only time Florence could have been born was between February and April 1892. Could you advise what other records are available that may help me find when and where these children were born?

I'm slightly confused here because you write about seeking births, yet imply that you were looking in indexed parish registers. Now, both can supply the information you want, but the most (generally) reliable source for births after 1837 are the General Registration birth records, which you can search on this site. Or have you already done so?

Michelle Giddings 17/01/2012 21:04:06

Hi Anthony, I have managed to track down my paternal great great grandfather as Albert Giddings born 1851, I have managed to find out that he warried to someone called Mary, but I am struggling to find out her maiden name and to be able to confirm if this is indeed my great grandfather's (Charles born 1883) father. Please could you give me some tips on where I could look as I have tried the census data. I am also trying to trace my maternal grandmother and father but as they are likely to have been born in poland as my grandparents were both born in Poland I don't know where I would go to find this information, any hints on where I could find this information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Michelle

You need to buy the birth certificate of the son Charles, as this will provide his mother's maiden name. Doing so is essential: without it you won't be able to trace your family tree properly. You can buy certificates at Polish research is difficult. Gentile records are simply in the towns and villages concerned: for Jewish ones see

richard morgan 17/01/2012 21:02:54

I have found my Great grandfather but cannot find his death listed here All I can be sure of is it was between 1911-1928. Also my grandad had a brother who immigrated due to being an orphan again between same period but can't find him here

Please see my answer sent a few minutes ago.

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?

Marcelle Kenyon 13/12/2011 22:09:59

Hello again anthony, thankyou for your help regarding tony battle, I had tried different variations of his name, but hadnt thought that possibly arthur battle would have been elsewhere due to the war so will check that out. It just seemed weird as I remember visiting them all the the 1960,s and tony was then around 16-18 and would have been my mothers cousin.I had also checked on marriages for tony battles but nothing seemed to fit in. As to cyril miles, the certificate is an option as would confirm either way but was hoping to leave that as a last option due to the cost of them, or hoping someone would have a link on their tree. Its a shame I have no living relatives left that I can ask for help (left that one too late) except possibly ones who Im trying to locate as above:) isnt it always the way.

Only just answering this tonight (January 2012) - but I hope you were successful in this search back in December!

Ann Webster 13/12/2011 21:58:55

I dont think any of the websites will be helpful to me as I dont feel I should pay for various of these websites and for everything i go into. If anyone has any information, please send me a message. Many Thanks

My advice would be to allocate to this pursuit a research budget you can afford - you will find out a lot if you do invest some funds in it. The Adoption Contact Register is free. Good luck!.

jean barnes 13/12/2011 21:41:58

Hullo Antony, I am struggling with finding my mother's birth cert, on her marrage cert Feb 1938 she was 29 on the cert. her father was Thomas Wallace Insurance Agent deceased. I found one T.W. insurance agent in the 1911 census single living at home,and have found only 4 Mabels born in the time gap 1909-1912 and none of them check out to be her, I am at a loss as to what to do next and wondered if there was something else i could do to find her

Your mother was born between February 1908 and February 1909, so if you look back into 1908 you may find her. And try the army births, as her father may not have been an insurance agent by then.

Ann Webster 13/12/2011 21:40:19

Hi, I was adopted, and for years, I have been trying to find my relatives. I have some information but I keep coming to a standstill on this. I was born in manchester in 1965. My birth name is Ann Webster. My birth mother's name is Jean Bryan and she is married to Frederick Webster. My half sister's name is Valerie Constance Webster who was born in 1961. And my half brother's name is John Henry born in 1963. Can anyone help me find their where abouts? Many Thanks.

I hope someone seeing this question will be able to help. You can try tracing this family of yours forward - seeking Valerie's marriage and children's births, for example, using the indexes on this site, seeing if either of your parents has died (sorry!) or remarried, or tracing their births and then seeing if their parents have passed away - other relatives may appear as informants on the death certificates. has an easily searchable database of names in telephone directories and electoral registers. And try the Adoption Contact Register at

Sara Heselgrove 13/12/2011 21:39:38

hi anthony i have not been on line for a while but i dad 13 generations in my tree and now i appear to have two. has there been a probnlem with the site? regards sara

I'm afraid I don't know. I'm not involved with the technical side at all, and indeed have no technical abilities. I can't even make my central heating work. But I would advise you always to keep your own records at home on paper, or, if you store anything on your computer, to back everything up very thoroughly.

Sarah Mc Dermott 13/12/2011 21:33:04

Thank you Anthony for previous query,do you cover N.Irish records

This site doesn't cover Northern Irish records: I do personally, via a colleague there - the're mostly in Belfast, though of course it depends exactly what you're after.

Christine Horsfall 13/12/2011 21:32:30

any info on horsfall family? known to be in newcastle upon tyne about 1915? cant find out much on them. please help

There will be lots of information - masses and masses, that you can research, working back steadily from what you know for sure. Forget 'about 1915'. Start with your grandparents' marriage, sometime before your parent's birth, and from the marriage record work out when your grandparents were born, and then seek their births. Go back step by step.

Kathleen Smith 13/12/2011 21:24:06

Hi, I`ve found my 4x gr.grandfather William Grime (ca.1792) Atherton,Lancashire and he states once he was born in Barbados, then on the other census, West Indies. I`ve been intouch with the Archives in Barbados, and no luck. What else can I do to find info about him, when he came over, his family etc. Any ideas please ?

An interesting result and a good piece of family history for you. It would be worth seeking all possible references to him in the parish registers, to see if he was described as being black - or, you may be able to establish from the sources that his father had been there as planters, doctors, soldiers, clergy or merchants. If his father was a soldier, you could look for William in the army births, on this site. Barbados records are tricky - I'm impressed you persuaded the archives there to answer! You can order a lot of Caribbean parish registers to view at Mormon Family History libraries. The Society of Genealogists has an excellent Caribbean section too, albeit many for the white plantocracy.

Marcelle Kenyon 13/12/2011 21:12:10

Im struggling to locate a relative who I know for certain did exist. His parents are arthur william battle born 1907 bedfordshire, who married edith wilson 1904 surrey, they had one son who was anthony or tony battle born i think mid to late 19040,s in surrey. Arthur battle was my great uncle. I cannot find any trace of tony,s birth anywhere, therefore cannot trace anymore on that line. also my other great uncle cyril gordan miles born 1905 mildmay park, london appears to have married a gladys dolton, he died in 1996, but i cannot definately confirm this marriage or whether im going down the wrong road, any help please? Marcelle Williams

It's a shame you cannot find Anthony's birth (have you tried Antony as well as Anthony and Tony?). I note that he was born in the 1940s. If he his father was in the army at the time then he may be in the army births. If born just after the war, maybe his family was stationed somewhere in the Empire, or in a British protectorate such as Palestine. Even if you cannot find the birth, you could search to see if Anthony married (you'd know you had found the right man as his father's name on the marriage certificate would be Arthur). Or seek Arthur's will, to see what that said of Anthony and his descendants. If you obtain Cyril and Gladys's marriage record, you'll be able to confirm or deny (from the father's name again) that you are following the right line. So much for my trying to be clever when I answered the last question - 'dliate' instead of 'dilate'. Well, that serves me right!

Sarah Mc Dermott 13/12/2011 21:04:05

How can I get into Irish recordsand how can as I delete the 'father' in the surname as I forgot to dilate it before i entered the surname

There are no Irish records on this site. One website that is very good for Irish records is Find My Past, the sister site of Genes Reunited. The records themselves, of course, are in Ireland, and which archive you visit depends of course on what you want. I'm sorry you have had difficulty dliating your father! I'm afraid I don't quite follow what the problem is here.

gladys horton 22/11/2011 22:00:25

my great grandfather born 1831 has no parents names on his birth certificate i would like to know what to do next please thankyou

That is earlier than I thought. Birth certificates didn't start being issued until 1837, so are you writing here about a baptism record? Again, you'd expect the parents to be named, so if none were, then maybe you are dealing here with a foundling.

gladys horton 22/11/2011 21:50:26

no name on my great grandfathers birth certificate of his father or mother where do i go from here

I hope that this is a 'short' birth certificate: if so, you can apply for the proper, long one that will have this information. If, however, this is a long birth certificate and the parents' names have been left blank this will mean that nobody knew who the baby's parents were. That would be the end of the trail, normally, unless you can find something in the local papers about the real parents being found. You can also use DNA testing to find possible genetic cousins of yours, and their knowledge of who their ancestors were may enable you to make some guesses about who yours were.

Carole Frosdick 22/11/2011 21:45:41

How can I trace passengers that went from liverpool to USA in december 1956, post ellis island, there must have been an embarkation station or registry detailing usa address or destination. Thanks Carole

I'm not sure, off the top of my head, about American immigration at so recent a date - not within the immediate purview of my genealogical activities. I would hazard a guess that, like so many aspects of American search, you'd need to know or guess where they arrived, and that's not always very easy given their federal structure (and thus lack of centralised records). Directories and telephone directories are always a good way of picking people up once they had settled down (again, some guessing as to where, exactly, to start looking, may be required).

Carole Frosdick 22/11/2011 21:45:24

How can I trace passengers that went from liverpool to USA in december 1956, post ellis island, there must have been an embarkation station or registry detailing usa address or destination. Thanks Carole

Isn't that the same question as before?