Family History Class Notes – Marriage Certificates, Australia -101

In our last class, we looked at Birth Certificates in Australia. We looked at our own full birth certificate and made note of the information it gave to step back another generation.

Remember when researching your family history, you start with yourself and move back generation by generation with documentation.

We learned that on modern full birth certificates the parent’s names, age, and place of birth are recorded. Also on the certificate, you will usually find the date and place of marriage of the parents. Due to the cost of the certificates and with the actual date and place stated on your birth certificate you might be tempted to assume the information is correct and you can skip getting your parent’s marriage certificate.

My answer to that is ‘maybe’, but only if you can find other records which all lead you to the same conclusion.

The parent or the informant on a birth certificate is not required to offer proof of marriage when they register a birth. The information is taken in good faith, but it may not be correct.

In the last class, I said that the parents were responsible to register a birth. However, they are not, nor ever have been responsible for the registration of a marriage.

In Australia, you can only be married by a licensed celebrant. These are ordained ministers or priests, court magistrates, and state celebrants. They obtain their ‘license to marry’ from the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in the state where they reside, not the church authority. It is the licensed celebrant’s duty to register the marriage with the Registrar of Births, Death and Marriages offices.

However, just as there is a ‘hundred years rule’ for births, there is a fifty-year rule for marriage. That means you cannot get a marriage certificate unless the marriage is more than fifty years ago.

In Australia, there is no central place for births, marriages, and deaths. Each state has its own Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriage in its capital city.

In recent years each Registrar’s office has built a website where you can search for free the indexes to their historical documents.  These indexes are free to consult. The large subscription sites use ways to link and use these free sites. They do not have access to any more information than is on the free government websites.

Be aware each of these indexes is a little different. For example- In the Queensland Index for marriages, which took place over fifty years ago, it actually gives the date of marriage, while on the NSW Index it only gives the year of registration.

Here are the websites for these indexes.

Just as you might not be able to find a reference in the index for birth, you may not be able to find a marriage in these indexes, even if the date and place are stated on a birth certificate.

Sometimes this is because you are not using the spelling of the names as given on the registration, but more often or not it is because for various reasons the marriage did not actually take place.

Remember you are looking for information concerning an ‘event’ in the person’s life. There are many records that give information on a person’s marriage or leading up to the event. Some of these you may be able to get even if the marriage is not fifty years ago.

Remember one document is not ‘definite proof’ of an event. You can only get a reasonable proof by a range of documents all pointing to the same conclusion.

Here is a list of records you may use to build a reasonable case for the marriage information for an ancestor:- Certified Civil Marriage Certificate; Marriage Transcription; Church Register Entry for Marriage; Church certificate of Marriage; Banns Register Entry for Intended Marriage; Banns Notice in a Church Newspaper; Statement of Intention to Marry Register; Newspaper Engagement Notice/Kitchen Tea; Newspaper Notice/ Report of Marriage; Photographs of Marriage Ceremony/Reception; Family Register in Bible/Prayer Book; Memorabilia-bucks and/or Hen’s Party/Wedding; Newspaper Report of Tin-kettling/House Party; Official Divorce Papers/Report in Newspaper; Letters and diaries and Oral Stories-Personal Recollections of marriage by family and/or friends.

This list is not definitive and you could possibly think of more. You will not be able to get all these records for each marriage. They are just a guide.

I have used this list to make myself a Data Sheet to put in my files on an individual person.

MALHN029177 003

[A pdf download of this Data Sheet can be found on this website under the Resources and Examples tab.]

Many of these records you may find in family papers and memorabilia. If someone shares these with you please record them as the source of the document with their name, date, and address on your copy of the document. Back or front depending on your skills and preference. Just because you now have a copy, please remember this is not your document to scan and put up on the Internet.

It is good family history manners even if you create your own document, such as a transcription, which is quite legal, you should get permission from the original owner to share the information and give them credit for originally sharing with you. Later down the track, they are then likely to share more with you, and you will feel comfortable sharing with them, as you will expect the same courtesy.

If you have been one of my students in the fifty years I have been teaching family history you know I actually practice what I preach when it comes to records. Here is the Evidence of Marriage Data Form for my mother.


Now just a word of warning about using indexes. They do not have the full information a certificate has. If you only use an index make sure it is the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages website. Transcription errors often creep into copies, which can put your research away off track.

For example- My Maternal Grandmother Harriet May Bell only had one brother, Henry William Bell. According to the index on the website, he married Hilda Annie Peck at Broken Hill in 1915. If you check the index on the website of the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for New South Wales, the marriage was registered at Bulli in 1915. These two places are approximately 1100 kilometres apart. Which is correct? By making a search in Trove Historical Newspapers on the National Library of Australia website you will find an account in the local newspapers for 1915, which states the marriage took place in the Methodist Church at Thirroul on 21st April. Thirroul and Bulli are less than three kilometres apart. Be very careful and diligent in your research.


Family History Class Notes – What is Family History?

Genealogy is the study of the relationships between groups of people, generation by generation, and is part of the wider study of family history.  Ancestral and Descendant Charts are often used to represent this. These compiled and charted genealogies are often called family trees and are a representation of the skeleton of a family’s history.


Image from Google Images -retrieved 8 March 2010family-tree-printable

Family History is much more and includes matters such as your ancestors’ appearance, occupations, and day-to-day life; how they were affected by, and reacted to, the social conditions and historical events of the time. A study of these things may give you the answers to some leading questions concerning your family – such as why they emigrated to Australia rather than America.

Baxter Family Histories

Both Surnames and Christian names are very important to your family history, as they are a key to a person’s identity, and therefore their life.

Remember there is no such thing as a ‘correct’ way to spell a particular Family or Surname, or indeed even Christian or Given names, and over a lifetime a person’s name may be spelled and recorded in many ways by the person themselves, or by others. Always check various possible spellings when looking for your ancestors.

Also note there can be persons of the same Surname, Christian Name, and of the approximate age living in the same place and at the same time. They may, or may not be related in some way. This can be particularly so if the Surname is rather ‘common’, for example, Smith or Jones, etc..

The main reason people are interested in family history is that they want to know more about and understand themselves. Who they are, where they came from and why they like the things they do or where their talents come from? Studying your family history can answer many of these questions.

When researching your family history the place to start is yourself.

You are the main person and anchor for your family history.

Did you know your family history is unique? The only other people in the whole world, who have the same ‘family tree’ as you, are your full blood siblings -brothers and sisters. If you are an only child, you are the only person who has that ‘ family tree’. You may share ‘twigs’ and ‘branches’ with many other people, but not the whole ‘tree’.

Therefore, you cannot do your family history on the Internet in an afternoon, no matter what the ‘ads’ may tell you. Nor is ‘family history’ a competition to see how many names you can collect on your ‘ tree.’

When we begin our family history we need to ask ourselves these questions:

What information have I already got?

How am I going to record and organize this information?

How am I going to track my progress or the lack of it?

My Family History Life

Over a lifetime I have learned our most valuable resource is TIME. We all have the same amount – 24 hours, 7 days, 365 days, etc. However, we do not know how many years we will live. The most important thing is how we spend that time.

The second most valuable resource is our relationships. Over my lifetime of more than ‘three score years and ten’, I have built a very large network of people, both relatives, and friends, who share my many passions. Here, I refer, particularly to family history.

In the last few years, life has changed dramatically for us with health issues, drought, fires, storms, and floods forcing us to make daily changes to accommodate what is presented.

As one might expect at this stage of life, I have also lost many of my friends and family through death, which has taken a great emotional toll. I now feel it is most important that I devote as much time as I can to our family history and share it with my siblings, children, and grandchildren as well as cousins of many degrees from 1st to sixth and beyond.

USB Flashdrives

I may not have written many blogs over the last year, but I have done a lot with my family history. I have organized my documents, photographs, and research; designed and began a process of passing it on to present and future generations and I have also written lots of stories, biographies, and research and shared with those relatives and friends, who are interested in my work. 

Folder Shelf

I have recently returned to teaching family history through our local U3A (University of the Third Age). Many of my students of fifty years plus of teaching, have asked me to share my experience and guidance so they can finish many of their personal family history projects. We have several new U3A members, who are just beginning their family history journey too. They have requested I share some of the notes on-line so they can refer and refresh their memories between classes.

I certainly do not have all the answers, but I hope these blogs and resources might assist others in their own family history journey.

Agnes Willis Cairns and the 4X Great-Granddaughters’ Gift


This year we have three granddaughters who are in Fourth Grade at school. This is the year they are introduced to early European Settlement in Australia, the First Fleet, and the ‘convict era’. They were all given research projects along the way.

They are well aware of their grandmother’s passion, so it was not long before they contacted me for help.

I could tell them they were descended from First Fleeters, Second Fleeters, and various other convicts. In fact, they have at least fifteen ancestors, who came to Australia as convicts.

Once I could show them where they all slotted into our large ‘family tree’ they were ready to research these convict ancestors.

All are very proficient in the use of ‘Google’ and the Internet, so were quickly able to bring to light a lot of information on their convict ancestors, which was a lot of fun for us all.

As part of learning about the convict experience, the girls have been reading fiction stories written about convict children of nine to twelve years of age. Most were convicted of stealing and sentenced to transportation. The stories may be fiction, but they are based on facts and give good details, so the children can understand and relate to the lives of the convict children of the early 19th Century.

We do not have any ‘child’ convicts in our family history, but I was able to tell the girls their 4X Great Grandmother, Agnes Cairns had arrived in Tasmania in 1829 at 10 years of age. That is the same age as the granddaughters are this year. Agnes was a  free person but had traveled half-way around the world on a convict ship, to the small colonial outpost of Hobart. She accompanied her mother, Elizabeth Merry, who was a convict.



from Google Images- 30 August 2018


The granddaughters were keen to put Agnes’s name into Google and convict websites. They were so disappointed, as found no records with her name on them, although they did find her mother.

As I could show all the pertinent records from the girls own birth certificates, back through the generations to their 4X Great-Grandmother Agnes Cairns, they could understand where Agnes and her mother Elizabeth fitted into the family tree. They were at a loss of how they could find out about this ancestor. I suggested they write her a letter asking the questions they wanted to know about.

This is the letter.

Dear 4X Great-Grandma Agnes,

We have been learning about children in the early 19th Century.

Our grandmother has told us you came to Tasmania when you were ten years old. The same age as we are now. She said your mother was a convict.

Can you please write and tell us where you lived in Scotland?

Did you have any brothers or sisters?

How did you come to Australia?

What was it like living in Hobart when you first arrived?

Where did you and your mother live and what did you eat?

When and where did you marry?

Where did you live with your sixteen children? You must have had a very large house.

Lots of love

From your 4X Great-Granddaughters……Mary, Jane, and Ann (not their real names)


From Google Images – 30 August 2018


Now that will be an interesting history project for one devoted grandmother.

My plan is to write Agnes’s story in about fifty pages, answering in some detail the questions about where and how she lived, from her birth in Kilmarnock, Scotland to her death in Victoria, Australia, aged 89 years. There are no known pictures of Agnes, but I will add appropriate illustrations where I can.

Yes, the girls do know that their 4X Great-Grandmother is dead, and they know it will be their own grandmother, who will research and write the story. But, can you imagine how exciting it will be for these girls to get a ‘personal’ reply from an ancestor? Wouldn’t we all love and treasure such a gift, no matter how old we are? Wouldn’t it be a possession we would keep and pass down to our children and then down the line, keeping our Family History alive for the generations to come?

Framing History-Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts

When we are writing our family’s history we need not only the specific facts of their lives but also to put them into the context, of the time and place. That is when, where and how they lived.

However, “All history is conjecture. All of it. It is the height of folly and arrogance for anyone to say that he or she knows definitely what happened in the past. We piece together the story as best we can, with the shreds of evidence that exist. When we are very lucky the pieces come together to form a beautiful and cohesive collage”….[from The Book of Love, Kathleen McGowan]

I am interested specifically in the Second Fleet story, because one of my husband’s ancestors, Harriet Hodgetts, is believed to have arrived in Australia, as a free woman, on the Second Fleet.

When we are writing about specific events, such as the “Second Fleet”,  we need to dig deep into a whole range of records. We have to study them carefully if we are to get the most out of them.

The following blogs are my interpretation of the documents and information I have found, and my version of what happened all those years ago, and why. How close it is to the ‘real thing’ I do not know, but believe it is a possible explanation of the events of that time.

The only surviving personal record of the Second Fleet is part of a Journal written by Elizabeth McArthur, the wife of John McArthur, a Lieutenant in the Marines. They embarked on the ‘Neptune’ in London. It is a personal record of some of her experiences, and what she thought about some of the things, going on about her. It only covers a few weeks of the voyage, on board the Neptune, not the whole seven months at sea. Much has been written and inferred by these few pages. Many historians have studied them, and written whole books on their interpretation of that collection of remarks and musings.

For the First Fleet there are more than twenty accounts of the voyage out, and indeed even the return voyage. It is hard to believe Elizabeth McArthur was the only person recording that voyage. True, a few letters written about the arrival of the Second Fleet in Sydney have survived, but no other records of personal experiences on board the ship itself. It was a popular thing for, particularly educated men to record their experiences, and publish them in book form, usually in their lifetime. There also would have been the Captain’s Log, the Surgeon Superintendent’s and the Naval Agents reports, of the day to day running of each of the ships in the Fleet. However, these have not survived, possibly destroyed to avoid blame and recrimination, after such a disastrous voyage.

I have been studying the Elizabeth McArthur story, so I can better understand our Harriet Hodgetts. She had been born in the same year as Elizabeth, and faced many of the same challenges, as their parallel lives stretched well into the 19th Century. They both died in Australia in the same year. There are very few records that even mention Harriet ‘Hodgetts’ by name, and absolutely none in the way of family stories, letters, diaries, or journals, telling of her thoughts, attitudes, and her victories and sorrows over the 83 years, of her long and eventful life.

As I have studied the life of Elizabeth McArthur and this specific part of our history, I see a different interpretation of what was going on around Elizabeth, then is recorded in her Journal.  Her reaction to things she had no former experience of. The things she was not a witness to, but only heard second or third hand. Finally, of things, that were specifically kept from her, particularly by her husband, John McArthur.

Let me say at the outset I have great admiration for Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts, and as women, how they met the day to day challenges, not only of the voyage but in the infant colony at the edge of the known world.


View of Sydney Cove-1792

To really understand Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts, I believe I needed to go right back to the beginning and study their ancestors and families. I wanted to find not only where and how they lived, but how they may have influenced the women’s outlook on life.  I wanted to find some possible explanations, not only for some of their decisions and indomitable faith but how they managed to live in a male-dominated society and world, so far away from their ‘roots’, with no family support.

Who was the real Elizabeth McArthur? Who was the real Harriet Hodgetts?

Bell Ancestors, Going to America-Postscript

In recent times I get telephone calls and receive emails from people all over Australia asking what website they need to access to download their ‘family history’.

When I inquire a little deeper they tell me they have an important family birthday celebration coming up and the ‘family history’ would make a great gift.

Then I ask, why they thought it was on the Internet and so easily accessible? Yes, they were avid fans of ‘Who Do You Think You Are? And, yes, they had seen the advertisements on the television. They had tried the suggested site, but couldn’t find what they were looking for, so thought it must be on another website, and I would surely know which one.

Family historians who have been ‘doing their family history’ for some time know that it is not all about the collection of names and dates and entering them into a database to reveal their ‘family tree’.

I believe it is a lifetime journey, where the solving of little family puzzles, finding that elusive document, sharing ideas and stories with not only with like-minded people but if you are very blessed, people, who are actually connected to the same family.

Just as it takes time, work and dedication for a seed to grow into a mighty tree, it takes time, work and dedication of many people to ‘grow’ your ‘ family tree’.

Unfortunately, with the ‘fast and furious’ digital age people ‘want everything now’ with instant gratification. I know many get so disappointed, and some even angry that I can not give them the instant answers they were expecting. Sometimes I will suggest I meet them in the local library and we have a look on the Internet to see what we can find, and perhaps, even someone, who is researching the same family. If they are not even interested in doing that much, I have to tell them I cannot help.

I am very aware of how the information gets onto the Internet. It is the work of many, many thousands of people, who over time, have collected, indexed, scanned and data-entered massive amounts of information. Sometimes it is actually part of employment and people get paid to do it, but mostly it is usually many thousands of volunteers and family historians, who are ‘giving back’ to their family and community. The Internet is not some super software program, which has collected the information out of the ether and sorted it into files we can miraculously access, and download with our computers and smart-phones.

I am always hopeful that the large free, as well as subscription websites, might make that fact a little clearer to their subscribers and users.

Computers and the Digital Age make wonderful ‘slaves’ for researching our family history, but we always need to take care they do not become the ‘masters’. It is not all on the Internet.

I believe the most important part of family history is that everyone in the family should be encouraged to take part no matter how large or small their contribution, but everyone should also be acknowledged in some way for that contribution.

For example, take my last blog- Bell Ancestors, Going to America.

If I hadn’t made time on my busy trip to England to meet with Joan and Ivy,(as they are not on the same family line as myself);

If Ivy hadn’t been encouraged to bring out all those dozens of photographs;

If she hadn’t told us the story of those reputed uncles;

If I hadn’t followed up on the story, when I returned home;

If Glenda and Jim hadn’t been prepared to spend many hours on a difficult and a rather thankless task of combing through many, many records, (and by the way it wasn’t their branch of the family either);

If they hadn’t passed the information back to me;

If I hadn’t done anything with it or wasn’t prepared to spend the time collating and fitting it with other records I had collected over the years;

If I hadn’t contacted Joan and Ivy with the results, and if they hadn’t then contacted these cousins in the USA;

Then so much family history would have been lost again. What a terrible tragedy.

I have always been very grateful for the friendship, love, and dedication to service not only with my own family research but the ‘family history’ community at large. This is what I’m trying to pass onto the next generations. One way I have found is encouraging them all to take part at our family gatherings, as well as other appropriate activities.

Blogging also gives me the opportunity to acknowledge so many in the past, and also the present too.

Educating Nola – A new beginning.

Today, I’m going back to the classroom. I’m taking the Blogging 101 on-line course over the next few weeks to really get into ‘blogging’ the proper way, or my version of it perhaps. I’m going to be continuing to share my experience, ideas and other stuff on family and local history, and hopefully in an informative but enjoyable way. In other words not too boring and self absorbing.

I’ve been ‘into’ family and local history most of my life. My husband not so much, but he is a ‘saint’ and very tolerant of it all.

Our children have grown up with it, and were not aware for years that other people had Dining and Lounge rooms in their homes, that were actually used for that purpose, and were not stacked high with books, folders and papers everywhere.

Their usual greeting when arriving home from school was- “Find any new dead-bodies today Mum?”- Much to the horror of any ‘visitors’ who might be having a cup of tea, and chat at our kitchen table. Of course what they meant was, had I found any long deceased person named in records that belonged to our family tree.

As the years went by and I was still going strong, our children then labelled my feverish activity -Mum’s ‘Magnificent Obsession’ . (Does anyone remember the old movie of that name?).

No doubt it’s true, as I am still very passionate about helping and encouraging everyone to investigate their own ancestors and heritage. I just love making contact with anyone remotely connected to my ‘family tree’ or anyone just as passionate about researching and writing history as I am.

I started a blog a couple of years ago, but then got cold feet for a while. We have recently returned home from a trip to Europe and Britain. I started blogging again as I got tired of telling the same stories and answering the same questions, over and over again, from family and friends. Now I just invite them to read my blog.

I have been very surprised with the response, and have decided I needed to find out how to do it all ‘properly’.

Now, I’m worried about if I’m doing it right. The family are already shaking their heads.

Catch you all somewhere in cyberspace tomorrow.

Back on Track with Family History Blogging.

As I opened my emails this morning I was reminded it was National Friendship Week. This is nothing unusual, as every day in the week seems to be labelled ‘special’ these days, for some good cause or another. However this struck a chord with me as it included one of my favourite sayings and inspirational verses

“What goes around comes around.” I often say this to myself when I see people acting unkindly or saying nasty things to, or about someone else. Of course it works the other way too, so when you express kindness to others the rewards are returned ten fold. I have often found this to be so in my life.

It was my mother’s favourite saying too, probably for the same reasons. My mother was the kindest person and never spoke ill of anyone, but I smile to myself now, when I recall some of my siblings, as well as my own escapades as children. In her frustration, Mum must have wished the same for us.

I enjoy collections of inspirational verse too. As our family trees are mostly made up of Irish ancestors, I have a few versions of the Irish Blessing. Today’s was:-

“ May there always be work for your hands to do;

May your purse always hold a coin or two;

May the sun always shine on your window pane;

May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;

May the hand of a friend always be near you;

May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

  • and the inevitable last line is always the same-May you be in heaven a half hour, before the devil knows you’re dead.” 

    Another favourite saying of mine is “ Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it a great one.”


    This got me thinking about all the Irish family research I have done in the last year, and it is time I started blogging again and sharing it with my friends and families.

Planning the Work and Working the Plan

Over the last few weeks I have continued to refine my system and consistently sorted and filed the information I have on each of our ancestors, and their immediate families. I then entered this information into my computer family history program.

While tracing these ancestors from the present generation back generation by generation I have collected most of the pertinent birth, marriage and death certificates, from the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the various states in Australia, for each individual, who is a direct ancestor, However, having one reference or document, of an event, is not the whole story, nor can we consider it ‘proof’ of a correct ancestor.

I then embarked on the quest for other documents concerning the events of births, deaths and marriages to add further details of our ancestors. I first sort the baptism, marriage and burial entries in the church registers of our parents and grandparents. The marriage certificates of my paternal family stated that the services had been conducted by the Anglican Church in Murwillumbah, in northern New South Wales. There were no on-line indexes to search because the events were too recent, but I was able to find the relevant name, address and phone number to approach the Diocesan Church Archives, which confirmed they held the records for Murwillumbah. The records are not open to the public, but the archivist will carry out a search on an enquirer’s behalf. The fee schedule is available on request.
I must admit there were a few surprises for me on my family.
A search for my own baptism revealed that I wasn’t baptised soon after birth, but was four years old and was part of a ‘job lot’, where a younger sister and a cousin were also baptised on the same day.
A Confirmation Card amongst the family memorabilia shows that I was also confirmed in the same church.

My mother was also four years old when she was baptised with her younger sister, on a week day soon after the birth of the sister. Another surprise was the birth date on my mother’s baptism entry was not the same date as on her birth certificate, but it was the date we remember my mother always celebrated as her birthday. Which one do I entry into my family history? My mother’s older siblings were also baptised in the same church shortly after birth.

It would appear my father was not baptised. A search over twenty years revealed no entries for his family except two sisters, who were baptised as adults shortly before their marriages.

I then searched for relevant entries in newspapers for details of the births, marriage and deaths. I first searched on-line in the historical newspapers available through the National Library of Australia, where I found a brief obituary concerning my paternal grandfather. This had been extracted from a small provincial newspaper in the area my grandparents lived. That newspaper was not on-line, but I was able to access it on microfilm at the Richmond-Tweed Regional Library. I contacted the library and made an appointment and then spent several hours searching these newspapers. Not only did I locate the above mentioned obituary, but a funeral notice including a reference to a Protestant Lodge membership, which led me to believe the Lodge probably paid for his funeral. Confirmation may be among surviving archives concerning the relevant ‘Lodge’. Another item to put on my ‘to-do’ list.
Using dates from the ‘certificates’ I held, I was also able to locate a short report of the wedding of my grandparents in 1910, as well as a very full report of my parents wedding in 1946. These were great finds, as details not on the wedding certificates were found in the newspaper articles.. They were well worth the effort in seeking them out. More recent reports of deaths, inquests, funeral notices and obituaries in the newspapers have filled in further details of many family members.

Other records I sort concerning the death and burials of family members were Wills, Undertakers records, Municipal Cemeteries and Crematoriums, headstones and Memorial cards .Success concerning these has been very patchy.

This will be an ongoing process as I gather the story of each of our ancestors in Australia before I start researching overseas in the country of origin. In the majority of cases this means researching in Ireland.

My Family History New Year Resolutions

I have been tracing  ancestors and the history of various branches of my husband, Vern’s, and my own family lines for over forty years. I now have many boxes and filing cabinets full of notes and documents. My New Year resolutions for my family history were:

1) to sort, file and document my research into a simple system so, I can find the document and information immediately.

2) to put the information and documents into a family history programme on my computer.

3) to ‘blog’ my family research to keep me motivated and to make contact with other relatives interested in the same families.

It is now three months into the year and you may be wondering how my family history resolutions are going. The sorting and filing is progressing well. I have successfully designed a simple system to sort and file my documents and already have over forty labeled folders sitting in book cases and the overflowing boxes and overstuffed filing cabinets are slowly disappearing. The most important thing is that it works for me and I will continue to use it!

I have also entered all the information into a family history program on my computer. Again it is a simple program that I understand and can use, so as I progress with the research new material can be immediately entered and referenced..

Today I begin my journey of ‘blogging’ my research to share with our distant relatives, and can now claim I have kept to my New Year Family History Resolutions.

One might ask what is the point of these resolutions?

Out of Vern’s sixteen great-great grandparents, fourteen come from the southern counties of Ireland. The other two come from Staffordshire in England. On my family lines, ten are from the northern counties of Ireland and the other six are from London, Kent and Sussex in England.

Although very challenging, I have been quite successful in tracing all these lines over the years. Now I have carried out my Family History Resolutions I can assess all the information and documents I have on our ancestors, and  know what information I am missing. I can now make a research plan to find the missing documents I need to fill in the next piece of the story. In other words, I can see where my ‘brickwalls’ are and can make plans to try and solve the mysteries.

The journey has begun. May we all travel well together as we search our ancestral trails.

As I ‘plan the work and work the plan’ in researching our families I will share with you the highs and low of solving these family mysteries. In no particular order,  these are the families I will be researching in Ireland and England.

GROWCOCK and ANDERSON in Co Meath, Ireland

MCMAHON in Co Fermanagh, Ireland

MCCREA in Co Donegal, Ireland

GOODWIN in Co Monaghan

KANE and MCDONNELL in Co Armagh

KENNEDY in Co Tyrone, Ireland

MACKEY and STAPLETON in Co Tipperary

FINLAY in Co Dublin

SHERWOOD in Co Kildare


BAXTER and MATHER in London, England

BELL and VIDLER in Co Kent, England

PACKHAM, SARGENT and JARRETT in Co Sussex, England

HODGETTS in Staffordshire, England