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Back to Study time… February 1, 2018

Posted by Robbie in Musings.
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Its hard to believe that today is February 1st and that we are already one month into the new year. All my resolutions to spend the summer break finessing some of the lines of research I had pursued over the last year have disappeared in the heat haze.

Next week I begin a short course offered as MOOC through FutureLearn and the University of Glasgow:

Early Modern Scottish Palaeography

So – what’s Palaeography?

According to Wikipedia, its the study of ancient and historical handwriting – see their entry here.

What does this mean for a family historian? Let’s face it, the typewriter, printer, computer etc are all relatively modern inventions.  Not everything we might wish to examine appears neatly completed in Times New Roman and easily read.  If we have been successful in tracing our family’s line back to a time where all documents were handwritten in a variety of styles and on a variety of surfaces, we will find ourselves challenged to interpret them even if they are in a language we are supposed to understand.

Being able to interpret historic writing styles in handwritten documents will give us much better access to the content of original material which we should hopefully decode with enhanced skill thus reducing the risks of errors in our research.

It’s an additional skill in our repetoire as researchers and historians, and continually building that investigative skill set can only serve to broaden our knowledge and understanding resulting in better quality research results.

There is still time to enroll in this course – follow this link to the information page: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/ems-palaeography While you’re at it and on the FutureLearn site, you might like to consider the University of Strathclyde’s short “Introduction to Genealogy” course as well.

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Wordless Wednesday December 13, 2017

Posted by Robbie in Wordless Wednesday.
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Elizabeth Cowell
1846 – 1851
Daughter of Henry Cowell & Mary Kay, Granddaughter of Timothy Cowell & Elizabeth Kirkby.

Why do we Conference? November 8, 2017

Posted by Robbie in News.
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I made a comment to a fellow researcher that I would be attending the VAFHO conference in Colac, Vic., in October.  She asked “Why? Do you have family in Colac?”

I don’t have any living family in Colac (that I’m aware of) however there were a few distant connections that resided permanently in the local cemetery so I thought I’d go visit, photograph, fill in a few gaps and whilst I was at it, find out a bit more about Writing Non-Boring Family History with the wonderful Hazel Edwards. Besides, I needed a bit of a break.

I had few expectations of the weekend except that I could indulge my passion for family research without deliberately boring anyone else to death. What a fabulous weekend it turned out to be!

Friday’s trip down was going to be at least 2 1/2hrs driving – I love long distance country driving and this was fun.  No-one else much on the back roads, pleasant temperatures and some spectacular scenery. Of course there needed to be the odd diversion – so it was off to find the cemetery at Rokewood and to check in with the great great grandparents William Henry Dawkins and Mary Ann Considine.

Rokewood Cemetery has a Pioneers Section and in 1993 a family reunion was organised and a commemorative plaque erected by the descendants.  William and Mary Ann have been joined by quite a few more in the Pioneer Section over the years since that reunion.

Colac Family History Group, members of VAFHO, were hosting this weekend’s activities and the first part of the event was a seminar with Hazel Edwards on writing Family History.  This 3 hour session was just fantastic – Hazel had us talking, writing, laughing, planning, motivated and resolving to get started as soon as we could.  No more procrastination, just great writing!

What did I come away with from this event?  Two new friends one of whom, it transpires, was distantly connected by marriage.  Neither of us had any idea that there was a link however we discovered over the course of the weekend our familial connection whilst asking questions of each other, helping solve each other’s mysteries, enjoying a shared meal or two and searching around those rows of gravestones for further clues.

The Colac Family History Group members were welcoming, enthusiastic and willing to share their love of their region and its history.  Who knew that Colac was famous for growing onions and had its own rail line devoted to ensuring those onions made it quickly to the city markets? I certainly didn’t. I came away with some great images of the landscape coupled with a better understanding of how the area was developed and thus how my family members fitted into that environment.  I discovered more family than I knew about previously, found their final resting places and I now know how to find where they worked the land they were granted.

This is why we conference.

To make new connections, to share what we know, learn about what we don’t know, to reconnect with old friends, to enjoy the company of fellow travellers on the road to understanding ourselves by understanding the dynamics of our ancestors’ lives.

Charles Clinton Dawkins (1stC2R) remembered in Colac Cemetery.

 

 

 

Chasing down those Fairfax Ancestors….. June 16, 2017

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Some time ago I wrote about tracing back the women in my family especially as the name Fairfax had popped up as a middle name throughout the generations.  Currently I’m having a little break from study – next semester’s units don’t start for a few weeks yet – so I thought I would continue the task begun with the unraveling of those Fairfax, Kirkby and Welch intermarriages.

Rigorous examination of the marriages of the various daughters over the generations have revealed quite a few more Fairfax middle names as well as a whole new (to me) branch.

My 4x Great Grandfather, Benjamin Fairfax (b 1758) married twice – to Dorothy Kirkby (b 1766) and to her younger sister Mary (b 1768).  Mary became my step 4x G grandmother as well as already being my 4x great aunt.  Mary gave Benjamin two more children to add to the five borne by Dorothy.  Those two children became cousins as well as half aunts and uncles.

Following down and across the generations,  I’ve discovered a whole raft of family out there – a family that supported and cohabited across three generations when the child bearing aged women didn’t survive. Benjamin’s daughter Charlotte (b 1789) lived to ripe old age of 82 and over time, took in her nephews and nieces, her widowed brother and his grandchildren.  All this time, she was herself kept busy as a grocer and storekeeper in Mile End Old Town.

For a short period around 1841, she was living with two of the Richardson sisters in Wellclose Square, daughters of my 4x great Grandfather, David (b 1746) and one of his other wives (he had four!)  The Richardson family lived in Wellclose Square in Wapping right through the 1800’s and possibly longer – that’s another piece of detective work that awaits.

I had managed to bring  most of the lines down to the period covering the first and second world wars, so I thought I would look for any that had served and had not come home.

I found Henry James Fairfax (b 1859).  Henry was the great grandson of Benjamin and Mary and that made him my 3rd cousin twice removed.  Henry was the eldest of seven children – and like the rest of the family was ‘in the trade’ – he was, for most of his working life, a grocer’s assistant. His father had been a commercial traveller as was one brother and their interests lay in spices and ‘farinous materials’ – that’s flour to you and me!

Henry never married and remained living with his mother and other unmarried siblings until at least 1911.  There must have been a touch of the mid life crisis happening as he made a complete shift into the Merchant Marine and became a steward on a steam freighter.  He was certainly too old to have been considered for active service at the outbreak of WW1.

Extracted from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission files

 

Henry was a Londoner – its probable he couldn’t swim.  He was the only casualty when his cargo ship, the Peninsula, was torpedoed by U-46 and sunk in the Bay of Biscay on 25th July 1917.  Henry’s name can be found on the Merchant Marine memorial, Tower Hill. He was 57 years old.

 

 

 

Diploma of Family History May 13, 2017

Posted by Robbie in Musings.
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This week, the University of Tasmania advised me that I was eligible to graduate with this Diploma.
Returning to study was quite a step as I had not indulged in a formal educational environment for the best part of 40 years; as a student, that is. This course was delivered entirely online so there was a learning curve that involved learning to navigate the online delivery system as well as slipping back into the discipline of regular study.
Discipline??? Me?? Never… I was the most disorganised student, always leaving it to the last minute and in many cases, just scraping by. This was going to be a challenge to undo all those bad habits and unpleasant memories associated with school.
Fast forward to now and I’m itchy…. to get moving with the next round of study! The Diploma is finished but there’s a chance that there may be some ‘advanced’ units in the future. In the meantime, I’ve racked up a few other Arts units which may well lead on to something else. In between time, there has also been the opportunity to do a unit or three in the Health faculty. So what have I done? Just to keep my hand in, I’ve enrolled in two more units for Semester 2 this year – Arts and Dementia Care and Foundations of Arts and Health.

Some of the study already completed has been focused around the effects of ageing and dementia – and how we can equip ourselves with the means to prevent this invasive disease of the elderly.  Keeping learning is something we can all do to keep our brains healthy and active – the learning of a musical instrument or a language are highly recommended but any learning will do.

So here I am, warding off the effects of ageing, attempting to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and having a great deal of fun at the same time.  Try it yourself, you might be surprised that you discover a whole new purpose in life.

 

 

Geelong and District

covering local and family history in the greater Barwon region

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