Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Grandma Fibbins

In yesterday's post I mentioned that the daughters of Jane Clifton and Frederick Charles Brown were were raised by their father's relatives on his maternal side, including someone known as 'Grandma Fibbins.'

I'm not sure exactly who Grandma Fibbins is. Well, I know what she looks like. This is Gran Fibbins and Ethel Brown/Clifton.

And this is Gran Fibbins and Dorothy May Brown/Clifton.

But who exactly is Gran Fibbins?

Frederick Charles Brown (b. 1861 d. 1936) was the son of John Brown (b. c1814 d. 1881) and Mary Ann Fibbins (b. c1835 d. 1901). The daughters depicted in these photos were born in 1890 and 1897 respectively. So Gran Fibbins is not Mary Ann, likewise Mary Ann's mother Sarah Ann Watkins (b. c1814 d. 1890) is ruled out.

A postcard sent to Ethel from her sister Lola (b. 1893) shows that Ethel at least was living with David Fibbins, either her great uncle or his son. (Lola is marked with the x)

If only we could make out a date on the postcard, my best guess from the clothing is somewhere before 1910. So perhaps Gran Fibbins is David Fibbins' (b. 1844 d. 1927) is second wife Ellen Gloucester Bell (b. 1871 d. 1945)?  Maybe I will get lucky and someone will recognise her!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Trove Tuesday: "They weren't married, you know"

I've mentioned before what a great resource Trove is for fleshing out those little anecdotes my family is so fond of dropping into random conversation. The not married couple in this case was my paternal grandmother's grandparents Jane Clifton and Frederick Charles Brown.

Now it was Nana who told me they weren't married but she didn't know the whole story - and it's a good'un.

Frederick Brown and Jane Clifton never married because Frederick Brown was already married to Jane Hollege. A rather shotgun affair in 1878, which resulted in 4 children and desertion within the next 5 years. The divorce takes just a little longer.

"47 YEARS." Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) 26 Mar 1930: 10. Web. 22 Sep 2015 <>.

Jane Clifton meanwhile had had two children (father unknown - son registered to her parents as she was only 15, daughter born 3 years later died the same year) prior to her taking up with Frederick Brown. Five daughters would follow.

Jane dies in 1900 and from what I can gather, although the girls were aware of who their father was and had some sort of relationship with him - more than that of their older half-siblings - they were raised it seems by relations of their father, his maternal Uncle David Fibbins and whoever the elusive 'Grandmother Fibbins' is.

Friday, 18 September 2015

More DNA Mapping

After I got my AncestryDNA results my mother was so excited that she ordered her kit straight away.

Well her results are in and SURPRISE I wasn't switched at birth (no chance of that really with how much we look like each other but it does ruin my dreams of being a fairy princess) and her DNA mapping is really interesting. It makes me want to bail up my grandpa and make him spit into a tube, so without further ado - AncestryDNA:


I really do want to know more about my grandfather's side of the family now other than a vague mention of his mother having Romany heritage. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

DNA mapping

My AncestryDNA results are in and one of the things I have been looking forward to is comparing what my DNA map looks like compared to my genea-map.

My genea map, plotted using google maps and the earliest ancestors I have been able to trace looks like this:

My AncestryDNA map:

And not being satisfied with that I transferred the raw data to FamilyTreeDNA to have a squizz:

So overwhelmingly European is the not unexpected results then.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Dear Aunt Jane...

My first introduction to you was a baptism record from Wellingham, Norfolk in 1806.

I was rather excited as I had just found your parents marriage and finding you, the sister of my first Muffett in Australia was an added bonus. I was a little confused when I later ran into you in East Dereham, Norfolk being baptised again six years later.

But researching what 'publicbly baptized' could mean I decided that yes, this was your christening - the one with family and friends - and being around 20 kms from your original appearance was happy with my reasoning. But last night, last night you threw me a doozy.

Another baptism, 6 November 1808 at St John the Evangelist, Smith Square in Westminster of a Jane daughter of Robert & Sarah M*ffet also born the 6th of November 1806? Is this you as well?

Your brother does claim to have been born in London and when he informed the registry of your younger brother's death he stated that he too was London born. Their convict records however indicate a Norfolk lineage and your parents certainly were married in that little church in Wellingham. But I wonder also if this is not your younger brother at St Margaret's Westminster.

You can see, my dear Jane why I am a little confused. I do so hope you will help me clear up this matter.

Much love,
Your 3rd great grand niece.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Curse of Common Names

I am trying to pin down my 4th great grandparents, Mary Clifford and John Green. They are ongoing vexations and I've written a little about my searches previously.  Right now I am trying to track down Mary's death which I am assuming occurs sometime after her arrival in the colony in 1833 and John's death in 1868.

Thirty-nine Mary Green's died in the colony between those years. Some can be immediately crossed out given their age listings but that still leaves a lot of Mary's to seek out and discount. She's not listed in the family bible, on John's death certificate or Louisa's marriage certificate. I'm waiting on Louisa's death certificate and trying to track down the death of the other daughter Ann. Their son Thomas died in Tassie as a convict so he is no help in this instance. This may take awhile.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The natural son of Napoleon Bonaparte?

If every there was a reason to not ignore the non-related associates when researching your family history... In my research they serve up the juiciest stories.

A few weeks ago I was following a lead on my maternal side for my 5th great grandmother Mary Ann Gunther (b. 1815 d.1903), the baptisms of her and her siblings in the Wesleyan Church in 1821, when I noticed an seemingly associated record and as I am want to do, followed the breadcrumbs.

It seems that Mary Ann's father Ebenezer Brown Gunther's (b. 1785 d. 1827) second wife - Charlotte von Escher - was a widow. Nothing terribly unusual, but google, fabulous google, threw up this fabulous tidbit for her first husband from the Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser:

INSOLVENT DEBTORS' COURT, April 23. EXTRAORDINARY CASE. General John Maximilian Von Escher was opposed by Mr. ANDREWS and Mr. ADOLPHUS, for three creditors. The prisoner, examined by Mr. Andrews, staled, that he had come to England in February, 1816. He had lodged at first with Mr. King, at the White Bear, in Basinghall- street. He had lodged with a Mr. Cottle, in Windmill- street, and he also lived with a Mr. Arundel. There were some papers of his buried in Mr. Arundel's kitchen. He believed what was buried there consisted of old music. He buried this papers in the kitchen on the solicitation of Mr. Arundel, for his own security. He had had a valuable case with three locks on it. He had never told Mr. Arundel that he had any valuable effects whatever. He had made a hole in a chest of drawers, from the top to the bottom, and put a wire through it. He had money when he came to England, and was in expectation of considerable remittances from abroad. He had mentioned the house of Perigeaux, in Paris, to those with whom he lodged, but he never had a farthing of money in their hands. When he came to England he had references to Sir Joseph Banks and to the Right Hon. George Neville. He had no doubt but the Learned Council might hear of him if he should in- quire of Sir Joseph Banks. He had been recommended to Sir Joseph by Mr. Mendoza and a Mr. Solly. He had also had a letter from the Duchess of Saxe Coburg. He had never said that the Prince of Saxe Coburg had served in a regiment which he had commanded. He had seen the Prince of Saxe Coburg, but was not per- sonally acquainted with him. As far as he recollected; it was in October last that he went to prison. The duplicates which he had in his possession at the time lie went to prison were sold he believed for £ 6. Sir W. Achard was the name under which he had signed a bill of exchange 6n the 6th of April. The paper signed General the Count de Ferrari was never given to any person by him. His debts amounted to about „£ 323. He had bor- rowed money of Mr. Cottle. Mr. Cottle lent him money to buy the marriage certificate, he did not know how many dresses his wife had from Mrs. Pearson after the marriage. He had requested Mrs. Pearson to come to the Court, but had never persuaded her to stay away. He had been iu the service of Murat, and it was in cousequence of the change of affairs in the French Go vernment that he had come to England. It was to secure his personal liberty that he had come to this country. He had signed a Treaty which was conclud- ed for the protection of the Neapolitan Government; his name might be found on it. Mr. John King called by Mr. Andrews — Remember, cd prisoner coming to lodge with him in February 1815, he thought the 7th or 8th. He lived very frugally when he was at his house, which was in Basinghall- street.— He remembered his saying, that the Prince of Saxe Coburg had served under him, and he would bring him some day to dine with him at his house. - Mr. M'Lawin, an American merchant, had come with him to his house. He knew Mr. M'Lawin, but he had been informed by that gentleman that prisoner was a stranger to him when he came in his company to the White Bear. Mr. Cottle, called by Mr. Andrews, deposed, that prisoner had brought a case with three locks with him to his lodgings, and informed him that it contained a number of valuable papers, which were worth £ 1000. lie had given him a watch as security for the re- payment of money, which he had borrowed of him. On witness's getting the watch examined, he understood it was not worth more than three pounds, seals and all, whereas it had been represented to him to be worth 40/. Prisoner had stated to him, that he had a great sum of money iu Messrs. Perigeaux's hands, at Paris, but lie could not recollect how much. Mr. Andrews submitted, that from all the circum- stances which had been stated, the Court ought to remand the prisoner. After some observations from Mr. Serjeant Running- ton, the four creditors, Messrs Pearson, King, Cottle, and Arundel, were excepted, and prisoner of course remanded till he should be able to pay their debts. [ Report states this prisoner to be a natural son of Napoleon Buonaparte. The only evidence in favour of the report is his countenance, which has all the tire snd expression of the Ex- Emperor, and possesses a great general resemblance.]

Now having found her marriage record on ancestry I knew this was the right man, and really when faced with something like this who could possibly resist a further dig? That further dig turned up this:

Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser, 29 July 1819

So not the natural son of Napolean then, but an imposter. Even better! Alas, this is as far as my search has taken me so far but rather than sating my curiosity it has whetted it.

The moral of the story being: Never ignore the collaterals that appear in your research they add so much colour to the narrative.

Friday, 10 July 2015

My SpitKit(tm) has arrived

The Charlemagne Factor part deux, Or dude I am totally Royal

I've posted about this before but another couple of hours following published family trees of the Royal and famous has turned up another gem. Robert the Bruce is not only my 22nd Great Grandfather x 2, but he is also my 23rd Great Grandfather.

It goes like this:

  1. Me,
  2. My Mother,
  3. Her Mother,
  4. VM Tulloch, daughter of
  5. LW Tulloch, son of
  6. LT Tulloch, son of
  7. John Tulloch, son of
  8. Ann Elizabeth Sutherland, daughter of
  9. Anderina Jamieson, daughter of
  10. Ann Tarrell Fordyce, daughter of
  11. Andrew Fordyce, son of
  12. Hugh Fordyce, son of
  13. Andrew Fordyce, son of
  14. Alexander Fordyce, son of
  15. Margaret Bruce, daughter of
  16. Elizabeth Gray, daughter of
  17. Marion Ogilvy, daughter of
  18. Helen Sinclair, daughter of
  19. Henry Sinclair, son of
  20. William Sinclair, son of
  21. Elizabeth Douglas, daughter of
  22. Margaret Stewart, daughter of 
  23. Robert III of Scotland, son of
  24. Robert II of Scotland, son of
  25. Majorie Bruce, daughter of
  26. King Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce)
So the point of pedigree collapse between these two paths is Margaret Bruce who traces back to Robert the Bruce through both her mother and father, to a daughter by his first wife and a daughter by his second.

So dude. I am TOTALLY Royal!

But then, if you are of western extraction so are you. The internet is full of handy dandy charts and people with better maths skills than me, and as you can see by the time you are talking 22nd Great Grandparents you potentially have over 16 million of them. But most people's pedigrees begin to collapse around 10 generations back, because let's face it the marriageable pool for our ancestors was pretty small given ideas of race, class and low levels of human migration. So everyone currently alive on this planet is at least 50th cousins or something and your tree isn't so much of a tree shape... 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Still alive, honest.

I've just been a little busy what with my new job and all.

Yes that's right, I started a new job at the end of March working for a transcription company who does court reporting etc, and I love it. Generally it is only a part time role but there was a big project I was assigned to so for five weeks I left home at 7:30 in the morning and got home at 8:30 at night completely exhausted. Weekends I slept, or this last weekend, threw myself head first in to getting the project done by Monday as it was due on the 1st.

What has this got to do with genealogy, history or research you ask? Well it has had some flow on effects:

  1. Disposable income. I've ordered my AncestryDNA kit and have been splashing out on BDM transcriptions. I've also brought a lot of books because, well I like books. 
  2. A renewed interest in legal proceedings and associated records. Perfect timing considering the release of all those juicy criminal records on FindMyPast this month. I'm learning a lot of legal terms and also where to find legal information in my job so it is certainly useful when it comes to dealing with those convict cousins.
  3. Being back to part time means yes, I have enrolled in UTas's free Introduction to Family History unit. Given my BA(Hons) in history I doubt I will do the full Associate Degree in Arts as it is a bit redundant but I never can resist further study.
SO basically I hope to have lots of new and interesting discoveries to share in the coming months.

Thursday, 9 April 2015


The recent announcement that Ancestry's DNA genealogy testing service is expanding to Australia is one I am kind of excited about.

I have been contemplating genetic genealogy for a while and I will admit to a significant amount of curiosity and a desire to share my 'genea-map' with my 'genetic map.' Although there are websites that will create a map of ancestors for you from your gedcom files, I have been using Google maps' custom maps function to create my own. Below is a rough map of the earliest spots I have traced family lines.

Genetic genealogy may be able to tell me whether the overwhelming Englishness is as it seems. I can't wait to pester everyone for cheek swabs.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Trove Tuesday: Bowyangs?

"WORE DUNGAREE SUIT AND BOWYANGS." News(Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954) 26 May 1936: 3. Web. 3 Mar 2015 <>

Yes I had to google it and then had a "huh, so that is what they are called" moment. Laurence Thomas Tulloch is my gg great grandfather on my maternal side. He arrived in Australia as crew on the City of Adelaide  in 1882.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

When things work until they don't (or why I need to rethink how I am organising my genealogy files)

My system works pretty well. Most of the time. But with the more information I collect on collateral lines and associated individuals it is getting a little unwieldy. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I like my system. But it needs rejigging and perhaps some compromising as to the creation of sub-folders. I'm not a fan of having too many sub-folders.

This is my primary genealogy folder, the hold all if you will. 

Files are organised into family lines - my maternal grandfather and grandmother, my paternal grandfather and grandmother, my other half's maternal and paternal lines - I use folder colorizer as an immediate visual aid and an underscore to keep them at the top. The TBS file is kind of embarrasing, shorthand for To Be Sorted. The stuff I have been lazy about filing correctly. The Excel files are the lists of books from the State Library, and various uni and local libraries; and State Record NSW files that I want to follow up on my next genealogy outings. Pretty straight forward so far.

But this is where it is getting messy. 

I like keeping individuals as individuals, so folder convention is in general :
You can tell my direct ancestors at a glance because, yep folder colorizer again. I do have general folders too: !Surname,  Associated Names and yes a TBS folder. The insides of individual folders looks like this:

Ignoring the Trove docs I haven't renamed yet my naming convention is : 
This is Nip Sinclair's folder but you can see a few non-Nip files. One is his first wife and two pertain to Obituaries he is mentioned in, and Sinclair&Co is of course his business dealings. I feel a certain amount of guilt at having Hilda only as a subset of Nip. It offends my Feminist principles. But creating folders for every individual is my getting overwhelming.

I cannot always remember who belongs to who family wise or if they are even related. I like knowing about associated people, I like outlining relationships. But how do I do this in such a hierarchical folder structure? 

I like my system for its focus on individuals, chronological sorting within individuals, and the ease of searching...when I know what or who I am looking for, but I can't help feeling that the more people I add the less it will work and I am going to have to submit to sub-folders. I just don't know how. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Software Frustrations

One of the big topics in genealogy across the web this year has been the Genealogy do-over. While I am not participating, I have - like many others - decided that it is a good idea to do some general housekeeping and making sure that my research is up to snuff. I am generally pretty good at recording sources and such due to all those years in an academic environment so I am adding detail.

Well attempting to.

I keep running into a persistent problem. Genealogy Software.  It just doesn't do what I want and need it to. Whether this is a function of the adherence to the dinosaur that is GEDCOM or the direct familial relationship model of genealogy I don't know. But it frustrates the crap out of me. I know I am not the only one, Tony Procter over at Parallax View and Louis Kessler of Behold Genealogy have written some marvelous posts on the subject.

So want is it exactly I want my genealogy software to do?
I want it to look beyond familial relationships. I'm a big proponent of cluster genealogy. I didn't know that there was an actual name for it, I just figured it was genealogy, but yes cluster genealogy. I want to be able to record information about entire communities. Windellama is a prime example for me.  As are the German Immigrants on the Commodore Perry. In both cases, the interactions and interrelations between a small number of families over about a 50-100 year period is fascinating.

I don't just want people, I want entities. Ships in particular. The Commodore Perry, the Neptune, the Earl Grey... Passengers on immigrant ships often were connected and remained connected in ways that genealogy software cannot account for. I want to be able to group people via an entity.

Events. Like entities, I want to be able to focus on people linked by events.

User-defined colour coding of ALL THE THINGS. Because I tend to record 'unrelated' people in my genelogy software I like to be able to colour code direct ancestors for quick reference. My maternal grandfather's line is red, maternal grandmother's green (it is her favourite colour), paternal grandfather's is blue, paternal grandmother's is yellow. My partner's maternal line is orange and his paternal purple (I was running out of coloured highlighters...) I also like information groups to be colour coded so I know at a glance whether I have birth info, death info etc.

There are other incidental things I'd like such as the ability to define things beyond Births, Deaths, Marriages and the occasional census; all the minute details of life that I collect, but those are the biggies.

I have customised The Master Geneologist through the use of tags and the somewhat awkward creation of a surname group '!Ship' for linkage via witness/associates but this is far from ideal. TMG is great at the colour-coding thing too which is possibly why I shed a tear or too when it ceased development.

Over the past year I have also tried Family Historian, Gramps, OneNote, Word, and Excel. I have just downloaded a trial of Behold. At the moment what is working for me is a combination of TMG, Timelines and Narratives manually written in Word with Endnote as my citation software simply because it and I are old friends with an extended comfort level, a OneNote research journal and general scratch pad, Excel research logs and comparative timelines, and a set of stubbornly adhered to file and folder naming conventions. It works, but it could work better ya know.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Hello 2015 and a visit to the State Records Office

Yes, yes, I am aware that it is now 16 days into 2015 but the truth is between finishing my Masters, getting the results - I passed of course - Christmas, New Year and the beginning of this week; I kind of just collapsed. In a heap. And did a whole lot of nothing. Well, if nothing is defined as eating too much, drinking too much and reading a whole lot of novels.

But thanks to Janelle, over at Janelle's Family Tree Addiction, I was back into the swing of things by the 13th. You see Janelle was lovely enough to organise a day trip and tour of the State Records Office at Kingswood. So spurred into productivity I preordered 4 probate packs but didn't think about what further I might want to look at. One can only be so organised when one is still off in the land of novels and general laziness.

The tour of the archives lasted about an hour and was a brilliant look at the masses of buildings, shelvings and infrastructure needed to house the State Archives and the Government Document Repository. We got a peek also at some of the things the Conservators are working on at the moment and I have to say, theirs is quite a task. Stuck together parchment, crumbling paper, water damage, general age. I was good. I didn't make a single joke about Librarian's Lung or Anthrax.

Then a quick lunch and onto the reading room where my Probate Packets were waiting for me. It is interesting to see all the goods and chattels listed for valuation. Death duties may be an unfair tax but gee it made for excellent family history resources. In ggreat grandmother Julia's there were a couple of letters hinting perhaps at a little family dispute. Julia, you see left everything to be divided equally amongst her four surviving daughters, three from the first marriage and one from her second. One son at least appears to have not been a happy chappy about this. Looking at my grandfather's was just heartbreaking and I think perhaps in hindsight something I should have left alone for another twenty years. It has been filed away with the newspaper reports.

The Probate Packets of great grandfather James Muffett and the convict Robert Bird, progenitor of the Bird line; while interesting; held no surprises. I was left with at least three more hours of prime research time. The choices, the choices!

I eventually decided to order up the Deceased Estate file for Robert Muffett and the Administration file for Rosevale School. Now the Deceased Estate file was a nice look into farm life in the late 19th Century. But the School file. THE SCHOOL FILE.

An absolute treasure trove. I only had time for a cursory look through the hundreds of pages of correspondence, memos, lease agreements and reports but it is a glorious thing. And this, see this:

That would be a copy of Robert Muffett's Will from the School File. THE SCHOOL FILE. Ahem yes. I need to spend some quality time with that file to see what other gems it does possess.

Overall I would call my first visit to the State Records Office a success and I am now keeping a spreadsheet of all the files I want a look at for future visits. (It is a work in progress of course)

This may be the impetus I need to get my driver's license and finally join the ranks of actual grown ups. Or I might just decide that 6 hours on public transport makes for excellent reading time.