Friday, May 31, 2013

Surname Meanings

If you have ever wondered about the origin of your last name, you will find your surname may answer one of the questions of where your ancestors lived, what they did for a living, what was their personality like, or how they looked many hundreds of years ago.

In Europe, the first surnames were first used about eight hundred years ago. People developed individual surnames which, over time, became names that were passed down from generation to generation. Check the free Dictionary of Surname Origins and Last Name Meanings.

Monday, May 27, 2013

National Archives of Ireland

The National Archives of Ireland has made a substantial addition to their genealogical collection with the release of a new database called Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1858-1920. Basically, the database contains an index of wills and associated letters of administration in Ireland.

The database can be searched by county, the name of the deceased person, the names of executors and the names of beneficiaries. The index varies somewhat depending on the year of the record. A typical entry lists the name, address and occupation of the deceased, along with the date of death, the date and place of probate, the names and addresses of the executors, beneficiaries of the will (and their relationship to the deceased) and the financial size of the estate. Access is free.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

UK City and County Directories, 1766 - 1946 at Ancestry has released a new database to add to their collection.
This database is a collection of directories for various areas of the United Kingdom from the 1700s to the 1900s. Various types of directories exist, including:

•Street: listing of residents, businesses, and tradesmen according to street address
•Commercial: includes businesses, but may also include private residences; generally an alphabetical listing of traders
•Trade: not just for businesses, but anyone with a recognized trade or profession; an alphabetical listing of trades and businesses
•Court: lists wealthy residents and government officials
•Post Office: listing of householder's names and addresses
Many directories are named after the publishers, such as Pigot and Kelly. Most directories originally included maps. Over time, many of these maps were removed. Where still available as part of a directory, the maps are included in this database.
Directories were first published around the beginning of the nineteenth century; they primarily only covered cities and larger towns. The first major county directories were published around 1820. In London, however, some directories were published even earlier.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Unlocking Old Files

Computer software changes so rapidly that what worked on your last computer may be completely obsolete when you buy a new one, causing you endless frustration.  You may have found or been given a mystery software file that is potentially full of family tree information that you simply could not open? It probably had a file extension you didn’t recognize. And even if you did recognize the file type, you may not have been able to open it.  You computer doesn't have the necessary program, and you can't find anyony else who does.  Fortunately, there is a free website that can help. Called, the website can help you identify old software files. It even provides free software tools to open many of these old software files.  This is not the kind of website you would use frequently, but it is well worth making note of for when you need it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Historic Directories

Have you searched some of the historic directories for your ancestors?  The Historic Directories Project is a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. It contains high quality reproductions of comparatively rare books, essential tools for research into local and genealogical history.  Below is the 1882 Kelly's Directory page for Fordham in Essex, where my ancestor Joseph Green was noted as a major landholder.  He also appears in earlier Post Office Directories, also available from the same site.  The Historic Directories can be search by Location, Decade or Keyword, and is free to use.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Australian Electoral Rolls

The database contains selected Australian electoral rolls, with the exception of South Australia, that run from 1903-1980. Electoral rolls were compiled by each state during election years to determine the number and names of individuals eligible to vote. Information listed in electoral rolls usually includes:
•Name of voter
Electoral rolls are great records to use as “census substitutes.” They are useful when census records are either not complete or non-existent, and are usually available in between census years. Because electoral rolls were published on a fairly consistent basis and are generally country-wide, they are useful for tracking individuals over time and place.
Below is the Electoral Roll image for my Great-Grandmother Eliza Jennion and her second husband Edward, who were living in Charlotte Place, St Kilda at the time of this roll in 1914.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Henry Montgomery Clark

My Great-Uncle, Henry Montgomery Clark, served in World War Two along with three of his brothers, David James, Leonard Rupert and Russell Nicholas.  All were in different units and I have been told 3 served in the Middle East, and found themselves in the siege of Tobruk.  Originally I has been told all 4 brothers served un Tobruk, but have since been corrected - beware the inaccurate family story!  While I knew about their WW2 military service I was surprised to find that Henry also served in the Militia during the 1930s - something I discovered while searching family records on Recordsearch at the National Archives of Australia.  Below is his enlistent form in the militia in 1934.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Eliza Pummeroy

This article from The Argus on 9 May 1901 concerns my great grandmother Eliza Pummeroy who was left destitute upon the death of her husband.  I had never known she faced the courts in an application for relief.  Her children did end up in care for a while, until after Eliza remarried.  Not only does this article tell about her struggle but also fills in a lot of the detail on the death of her husband Alfred.

Another great article found on Trove.

Friday, May 3, 2013


FamilySearch has changed the look of their website. When you go to the relaunched website for the first time, it should offer you a video tour of the website enhancements. Amongst the new features are the ability to build a family tree and share photos of ancestors online. This provides a new avenue for making contact with others researching your family and sharing your knowledge and family stories.
While searching the historical records is still completely open, access to most of the new features requires registering to sign in to the site.  Access is still free and registering is also free and quick to do. has also made available a new collection of some 74,000 images of Tasmania civil registration records from 1803 to 1933. These are birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial records from the Archives Office of Tasmania. The images are organized region and then by type of record. The images are not searchable by name and many of the records were kept in ledger books as opposed to individual certificates, so it will require some digging to find an ancestor.