Thursday, December 12, 2019

Hear the Words Behind the Pictures at RootsTech

They say a picture paints a thousand words, but how many words could the man who took the pictures tell? The Keynote Speaker for Friday 28 February at the 2020 RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City will certainly be able to tell some stories. And it's not too late to enter my competition to win a free 4-day pass to RootsTech (see the details at my competition post here).
Although billed in the RootsTech press release as "David Hume Kennerly, Pulitzer Prize—winning White House photographer", his body of work is not restricted to US politics. In fact the website of the Center for Creative Photography, which hosts an archive of Kennerly's photos, says
"The tale of David Hume Kennerly’s career as a photojournalist began with documenting politicians and musicians who visited his hometown of Portland, Oregon in the 1960s. These beginnings spurred over five decades of globetrotting, as Kennerly lived witnessing our world through his camera lens."
As well as confronting photos from Vietnam, Cambodia and Jonestown, the archive includes pictures of Mick Jagger, Igor Stravinsky, Joe Frazier landing a blow on Muhammad Ali's head, Diana Ross, Mia Farrow and Dustin Hoffman, Miles Davis, and the set of the TV show Seinfeld.  One fascinating section of the archive is entitled "A Photojournalist's Life in Pictures", containing photos of Kennerley taken by other photographers, which shine a light of the mechanics of his photography.
Looking at this archive I am certain that Kennerly will have many interesting stories to tell when he Keynote's RootsTech's 10th conference in Salt Lake City on 26-29 February 2020.
Until 11:59 MST on 31 December you can register for a 4-day pass to RootsTech for only US$169 instead of US$299. Just use the promotion code HOLIDAY.

 Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Win a free pass to RootsTech 2020, or get a big discount on the registration

I am running a competition for one person to win a 4-day pass (valued at $299) for RootsTech 2020 in Salt Lake City.

If the winner has already purchased a RootsTech pass, they will get a full refund on their purchase price.

As there can only be one winner, if you haven't already purchased a pass, then for one week only (until 11.59pm December 9, MST) you can register for a 4-day pass, valued at US$299,  for only US$169. That's a saving of $130 dollars. Just register at using the promotional code THANKS.

But what about winning a free 4-day pass?  The pass includes
  • Over 300 classes
  • Keynote and General Sessions
  • Access to the Expo Hall
  • Evening Events.

It does NOT include paid lunches or paid labs.

In order to go into the draw to win, send an email to with the answer to the question below:

Who am I?
  1. I have been working professionally since I was five
  2. I married my childhood sweetheart when I was 21 and have 5 children and 10 grandchildren
  3. I have eight siblings and my two eldest brothers were born with severely impaired hearing
  4. I just completed a record eleven-year residency in Las Vegas
  5. I starred in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, won Dancing With The Stars and was the runner up in The Masked Singer.
  6. I appeared as a Keynote speaker at both RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City and RootsTech London 2019

The competition will close at Midnight GMT on 22 December 2019.  The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries.

Please note that the pass does not include food at the conference, any add-on purchases you make, travel to the conference, or accommodation during the conference.

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The same RootsTech, but also a different RootsTech

RootsTech London has been strangely familiar, but also very different.  It is not the same as RootsTech in Salt Lake City, yet in many ways it is.

One familiar aspect was meeting up with friends, though many people I am used to seeing in SLC were not at the London event, though a large number were. There were also friends who have never attended the Salt Lake City conferences.

Nick Barratt
The most obvious (and unsurprising) difference was the number of talks relevant to people with only UK ancestry.  While in SLC there are often more than one talk at any one time I would like to attend, in this case there were lots! Hence the delay in getting some of these blog posts out!  I loved the chance to hear several talks by Nick Barratt, as not only is he familiar to us all from TV, I am particularly interested in the medieval period and he is a medievalist by training.

Another difference was the number of European exhibitors. There was
  • Adam Research Centre (Arabian Peninsula)
  • American Ancestors
  • Belgium and Luxembourg Societies – Historie de Families
  • Bella Italia Genealogy (Italy)
  • Coret Genealogy (Dutch)
  • Coutot-Roehrig (European heirs research)
  • Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogisher Verbände (Germany)
  • Federation Française de Genealogie (French)
  • (French)
  • International Genealogy and Probate Service by Ukrainian Bar for Foreigh Affairs
  • My China Roots

In addition there were the usual stands: Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage and so on.

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Discover more about your ancestors and you'll discover more about yourself.

Saturday’s keynote was the Peter Pan of music: Donny Osmond.  I’m not saying that he isn’t grown up, it’s just that he hasn’t grown old. At just under 62, he looks no older than mid 40s. Yet he has ten grandchildren and a career in the music industry spanning five decades.  This didn’t always look like it would be the case. When he was 21 he was told that his career was over, that he was a “has been”. He is glad he didn’t listen to those advisors.

When you study your family history you learn which side of your family bequeathed you not only your hair & eye colour, or nose shape, but also out attitudes and character traits. And he credits the tenacity, the work ethic and the “never say never” attitude he got from his ancestors with giving him the determination to keep going in the fickle music industry. Donny told us the story of his life and of those ancestors.

Donny standing in front of a picture of
Elizabeth Williams & Thomas Davis,
his great-great grandparents
Elizabeth Williams, his great-great grandmother from Wales, is one of those influences. She had grown up in Wales, and then converted to the Mormon faith and moved to the States, where they lived in a two-roomed log cabin.  She never went to school, and couldn’t read or write, but she was determined to do what she could to give her children an education and a better life.
George Virl Osmond
The other ancestor whose attitudes influenced him enormously was called Virl. He lost his father when he was just six weeks old, had two step-fathers over time, and was kicked out of home by one of those step-fathers when he was just a teenager. He went to the local store to see if there was any work, but there wasn’t. So he asked to storekeeper if he could borrow a broom. Every day he swept the porch clean and greeted every customer. At night he slept on that porch. He was in survival mode, living on just bread and milk. Occasionally he would get hold of some tomato ketchup and add it to water, calling it tomato soup.

Virl eventually married and the couple’s first two children were born completely deaf. The doctors advised them not to have any more children. But they went on to have nine children, and Donny was the seventh of those.  From six-weeks of age, Virl had prevailed over all sorts of adversity and subsequently did all he could to make sure his children had a better life.

RootsTech attendees lining up to meet Donny
We inherit our personality, attitudes, creativity and sense of humour from our families, not just our DNA.  Donny has been in a unique situation in that almost his entire life has been lived out in the public eye and documented and recorded. But we need to make sure WE document the stories and experiences of OUR lives, no matter how quirky or funny, and we should document them before time runs out. Your descendants deserve to know who you were, what you were like and what you experienced. The most insignificant thing to you could be the most valuable to your descendants.  Donny told us how he keeps a file of the baby-words his children used to say.  I keep one too, though my son would kill me if I ever shared it outside the immediate family. One day he may feel differently.

Donny left us with one important thought: when you discover more about your ancestors you discover more about yourself.

Donny and his wife with his descendants

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Walk the ground your ancestors walked to truly understand them

The keynote speaker for the first day of RootsTech London 2019 was TV historian Dan Snow. He told us that we are all here because of history, we are all a little part of a great continuum from the past to the present. Growing up, history was a big part of his family life. His childhood was spent visiting historic places and cemeteries, and his love of history developed. Even more influential was his maternal grandmother: an Indian-born Welsh woman living in Ontario and married to a Scot.  When he was young all her grandchildren would visit and at night she would tell them stories about their family. She told them they were descended from King Arthur, Llewellyn and Owain Glendower.  While this may not be true, it did instil in them a love of history, and their family’s history.

She told them stories about their ancestor who started in very humble circumstances in north Wales and became the only Prime Minister of the UK for whom English was a second language: David Lloyd George.

Dan’s father was descended from a man who hated Lloyd George: Lt General Sir Thomas Snow. Snow was in charge of a section of the line on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. That section was highly unsuccessful in their goals and suffered huge casualties.  While the battle was going on Snow was safely miles behind the lines in a Château, completely out of contact with the reality of what was going on.  His men advanced to enemy lines, and then got caught behind the enemy. They fought bravely, once their ammunition ran out they used their rifles as clubs and then their fists. The majority of them died. General Snow reported “I regret to inform you that the men lacked offensive spirit.”

While Dan did not feel that his great-grandfather was anymore culpable than any of the other British Generals, it is this one statement that he is ashamed of. Having had the opportunity to be in that château, and to read the journal and letters that his great-grandfather wrote in the place that he wrote them was a powerful experience. To actually walk the ground that your ancestors walked, to be in the places and buildings that they were in brings it all to life. On our family history journey we will find people who were deeply imperfect, and events that were unpalatable. But this is all part of that continuum of history and part of what made us who we are.

Dan's talk was live-streamed and will be available on the RootsTech website soon.

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

One week til RootsTech London

It's just a week until the first RootsTech conference to take place outside Salt Lake City opens.  This conference, at London's Excel Centre, opens on 24 October and runs for three days. And it's not too late to register. A three day pass is currently selling for £99 (valued at £149), or if you can only attend for one day, the pass will cost £49 (£99 value).  These passes will enable you to hear the fantastic keynotes (Dan Snow, Kadeena Cox, Steve Rockwood and Donny Osmond) as well as having access to over 150 talks (classes) on a variety of topics from DNA, to methodology, preserving family memories, and more traditional genealogy topics. These are not limited to UK research, but cover family history from a variety of countries. The full schedule can be checked out on the RootsTech London page.

The passes will also give you access to the Exhibition Hall, with over 100 stands from the big companies (Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage), family history societies (including the Society of Genealogists), software vendors and even a few unusual exhibitors like the Ministry of Defence and the Museum of Freemasonry.

But if you don't want to purchase one of  the (heavily discounted) passes, you can still get free access to the Exhibition Hall.  This will allow you to see everything going on there, including any talks at the vendor stands, but does not give you access to the classes or keynotes.  While this Exhibition Hall Pass is free, pre-registration is necessary at the RootsTech website. You will be sent a confirmation email which will act as your pass.

For those unable to attend at all, or who want to relive the event later, three sessions will be live-streamed each day. After the conference is over they will be able to be viewed online for free.  The list of streamed sessions can be viewed at

There is one other pass that is available, which is the Premium Virtual Pass. For £49 you will be able to see twenty sessions which will never be available online for free.  Not only is this great for people who can't make it to the conference, but for those who do come, it allows you to choose another class while these are on, and to view the classes as often as you like.  The list of the twenty sessions covered by the Premium Virtual Pass is available at

You can't imagine how much I am looking forward to this conference, especially as the conference I organised in Sydney (Exploring the Past) has just ended, and I don't need to do any organisation for this one!

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

WIn a 3-day Pass to RootsTech London

RootsTech London is rapidly approaching. It will take place at the ExCel London conference venue from 24-26 October 2019, and I am privileged to be able to give away a free registration.

The three-day pass, valued at £149, gives you access to:
  • Over 150 classes (lectures)
  • The Keynote and General Sessions
  • The Exhibition Hall
  • An evening event
Read on to find out how to enter the competition.

A RootsTech conference really is an experience not to be missed. Only one keynote speaker, Donny Osmond, has been announced so far, though I am sure those to follow will be very interesting. Donny was a keynote speaker at RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, and I was able to see him live. Here is my blog about his appearance. Speaking as someone who is not a fan of the Osmonds, I can still say that Donny is an excellent speaker and well worth listening to.

The Exhibition Hall will also be a major draw card. A handful of the exhibitors have been announced in this blog post, but there will be many more organisations represented than just this sample.

Expo Hall at RootsTech in Salt Lake City

There will be a wide variety of classes of all levels from beginner to advanced, and of course, many DNA sessions. The class schedule is available online, so you can have a look at the topics on offer.

If you want to win a free 3-day pass to RootsTech London, send an email to with the answer to the question below:

Who am I
  1. I was born in Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
  2. In 1895 I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the British Army, and saw action in British India, the Anglo-Sudan War and the Second Boer War.
  3. I was First Lord of the Admiralty during the early years of World War I.
  4. I was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for two terms.
  5. I wrote the multi-volume book series The Second World War.
  6. Throughout my life I suffered from prolonged fits of depression.
  7. When I died in 1965 I was given a State Funeral.
The competition will close at Midnight GMT on 14 August 2019.  The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries.

Please note that the pass does not include food at the conference, any add-on purchases you make, travel to the conference, or accommodation during the conference.

If the winner has already purchased a RootsTech pass, they will get a full refund on their purchase price.

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Is 1828 really the start of Assisted Immigration to NSW?

If  were to ask you when Assisted Immigration to NSW began you'd probably answer 1828. And a couple of months ago, so would I. But now I'm starting to wonder whether that date is wrong.

True, the NSW State Archives and Records website includes digitised copies of what it describes as "Assisted Immigrants Shipping List 1828-1896" and also a link to the "Bounty Immigrants Index 1828-1842". I'll talk more about these later on.

These are the facts I have been able to gather:

The Secretary of State (Viscount Goderich) developed a scheme in 1831, which was put into place in 1832, to send unmarried women and skilled mechanics (by which is meant tradesmen) and their families to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. The scheme was to be administered by the Commissioners of Emigration in London, Dublin and Cork. All people sent out were said to have been vetted and supplied testimonials. The initial suggestion was that the scheme be funded by a tax on assigned servants, though the colony rejected this and instead used funds from the sale of Crown Lands. The women would receive a bounty of £8 (about half the cost) towards their passage. They were expected to pay the difference themselves. Men did not receive a bounty, but were given a £20 advance towards the passage for them and their families.

The first two ships to arrive in 1832 were the Princess Royal, carrying single women from England, and the Red Rover, carrying Irish single women. A further fourteen ships arrived carrying single women. The selection of these women had been overseen by John Marshall, a shipowner who acted as an agent. As he received money for each emigrant on the ships, he had a vested interest in making sure the ships were full. The colonists claimed that many of these women were prostitutes, had no ability as domestic or farm servants, and that many of them had a disability or disease. The number of mechanics that came out was small.

In 1835 Governor Bourke suggested an alternate system. Two schemes would co-exist. Colonists who could fund the transport of immigrants of whose skills they were in need had the opportunity to use their own agent in the UK to find mechanics or agricultural labourers who would emigrate to the colony. The colonist would be given a bounty equal (or nearly) the expense of the person’s passage if and only if an Immigration Board in the colony deeded the immigrant suitable after examining them. This would eliminate those who were clearly of the wrong ages, or disabled, or unhealthy, and so on. They could bring out married couples under 30 (with their family), unmarried women 15-30 who come out with the consent of the settler or his agent under the protection of a married couple, as forming part of the family and destined to remain with it until such female be otherwise provided for, and unmarried male mechanics or farm servants aged 18-25, brought out by a settler, who at the same time brings an equal number of females, accompanying and attached to a family as before described. The government had no control with this scheme: the emigrants were selected by agents of the colonists and ships were engaged privately. The government role was limited to the Immigration Board who examined the new arrivals for suitability.

The other scheme which would run alongside the Bounty Scheme was the Government Scheme, which would account for a larger number of immigrants. Under this new scheme, Surgeon-Superintendents from convict ships who had knowledge of life in the colony and the needs of the colony, were sent from the colonies to select the immigrants. They would also accompany them back on the voyage. Payments which were close or equal to the cost of the voyage would be made for these immigrants.

Farewelling the Immigrant Ship St Vincent, 1844
(Illustrated London News, 13.4.1844)

These schemes were tweaked several times over the years to iron out problems that became apparent.

Before these schemes the government had brought out wives and children of convicts for free from 1817 onwards. This was a free passage, not assisted immigration. It also started well before 1828. The only other scheme that the colonial government was involved with before the schemes described above was the emigration of 50 girls from the Cork Foundling Hospital in 1831 on the convict ship Palembam in an attempt to redress the imbalance in numbers of male and female colonists. The Governors of the hospital provided the girls with their required outfits, and the colonial government paid all other costs.

The idea of using revenue from land sales was first proposed by Edward Gibbon Wakefield in 1829. Although South Australia was the only colony to adopt Wakefield's scheme in toto (which they did from ?), the idea of funding immigration through land sales was adopted by many states. But this was one year after the magical date of 1828.

The Australian Agricultural Company and the Van Diemen's Land Company brought out people to work for them from 1825, but these were indentured workers, not assisted immigrants.

John Dunmore Lang first brought out emigrants in 1831. They were allowed a free passage, but it was expected that they would repay the cost from their earnings in the colony.

So what about these State Archives collections "Assisted Immigrants Shipping List 1828-1896" and also a link to the "Bounty Immigrants Index 1828-1842"?  The former was compiled by Janet Reakes. The records, digital copies of which are on the Archives web site, are all written in the same hand and cover many ships, often having more than one ship on the same page. There is no indication where Janet got the information on these voyages from. I don't doubt for a minute that these people arrived on the ships that are nominated, but I can find no evidence that they were assisted in their immigration.

The second dataset is an index to the first, created by FamilySearch.

So, am I missing something? Did assisted immigration (or bounty immigration) start in 1828?  Or is 1831 or 1832 the earliest date we can claim?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

More on the Manning family - parents identified

I have previously written about my Manning ancestors from Rathdrum in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. (see the post here).   

I had identified that my ancestors, William & Susanna Manning, were married on 3 Aug 1842 at St Peter, Dublin, and had the following children (all except the first from the parish register of Ballinaclash):

·    Archibald, born about 1843 in Dunamore, Co. Wexford, moved to Australia, probably about 1864. Married Mary Catherine Dunne in 1871 in Echuca, Victoria. Died in an accident on the Murray river 11 Dec 1881.
·    Sarah, born 30 Nov 1844 at Ballinatone, bap 29 Nov 1846.
·    Richard, born 3 Jun 1845 at Ballinatone, bap 29 Nov 1846, buried 28 Nov 1862.
·    Maria, born 28 Mar 1848 at Ballinatone, bap 28 Nov 1852, married the Rev. Cassian Crotty 11 Nov 1876 in Madagascar, returned to Co. Wicklow, then to Nottinghamshire, then arrived in Australia in Jun 1887 and died 25 Jun 1920 in Melbourne, Victoria.
·    George, born 28 Jun 1850 at Ballinatone, bap 28 Nov 1852 at Ballinaclash, arrived in Victoria about 1863, married Betsey Barnes 28 Apr 1877 in Sandhurst, Victoria and died 11 Nov 1900 in Brunswick, Melbourne, Victoria. [N.B. Sandhurst is now called Bendigo]
·    Emily Josephine, born 5 Apr 1851 at Ballinatone, bap 28 Nov 1852 at Ballinaclash, married Edmund Manning (son of Abraham Manning & Catherine Saul Manning) 20 Sep 1876 at St Thomas, Dublin.  Came to Australia about 1877 and died in North Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria on 29 Aug 1892
·    Ambrose, born 27 Nov 1852 at Ballinatone, bap 28 Nov 1852 at Ballinaclash, emigrated to Victoria, possibly in 1879, died in Warracknbeul on 29 Jan 1930.
·    William, born 1 Nov 1854 at Ballinatone, bap 2 Nov 1854 at Ballinaclash and died 3 Nov 1854.
·    Robert, bap 1 Jan 1856 at Ballinaclash, arrived in Victoria about 1874, and married Annie Craig Jamieson 5 Feb 1884 in Carlton, Melbourne. By 1900 he was living in Western Australia. He married Madge Jamieson in 1923 in Sydney, and died in Claremont, Western Australia, on 29 Jun 1938.
·    William, bap 26 Aug 1857 at Ballinaclash, arrived in Australia about 1879 and died 9 May 1938 in Heidelburg, VIC.
·    Susanna, born 1 Nov 1859 at Ballinatone Lower, bap 8 Jan 1860 at Ballinaclash. Probably arrived in Victoria in 1883, and married William James Spiller on 5 Feb 1884 at Carlton. Died 13 August 1941 in East Malvern, Victoria.
·    Alfred, born 25 Feb 1862 at Ballinatone Lower, bap 3 Apr 1862 at Ballinaclash.
·    Edward, born 10 May 1865 at Ballinatone Lower, bap 26 Sep 1865 at Ballinaclash, drowned in Dublin in 1882.
·    Herbert, born 24 Jun 1869 at Ballinatone Lower, bap 11 Jul 1869 at Ballinaclash, married Florence Tamson Jamieson 8 Apr 1894 in Victoria.
The church of the parish of Ballinaclash, located at Ballinatone

When I wrote about the family before I had no idea when either William or Susanna were born or died. As both those names are common in the Manning families in Co. Wicklow, I could get no further with their ancestry.

When I went to Ireland in 2014 I had the chance to look at the registers of Rathdrum Church of Ireland, held by the Representative Church Body in Dublin, and extracted all the entries for the name Manning. I also checked the microfilms of the Ballinaclash register at the National Archives of Ireland. It was from the latter that I found the death/burial of the above children.  I also found the following two burials:

22 Oct 1872 - Susanna Manning, Ballinatone, age 50
11 Oct 1881 - William Manning, Ballyteigue (N of Rathdrum), 71 years.

This looked promising.  Could it be my Susanna & William? Even though the family was living at Ballinatone when most of their children were baptised, when their daughter Emily married in 1876 she was described as being "of Ballyteigue". It looked feasible that William might have moved to Ballyteigue (to live with some relative or other?) after his wife's death. Widowers at that time seemed to be incapable of looking after themselves.

When Emily died in Victorian in 1892 her death notice read:

MANNING -On the 29th inst., at her residence, Queen's-parade, Clifton Hill, Emily Josephine, beloved wife of Edmund Manning, and third daughter of the late William Manning, Ballyteigue, Co. Wicklow, Ireland ; aged 41 years. (The Argus, 30 Aug 1892 p1)

Again, there is the Ballytiegue reference.

That brings us to William's death.  He was definitely deceased by 1884 when his daughter Susanna married William James Spiller. We know that there was a William Manning buried at Ballinatone, no doubt with his wife, but there are no Manning headstones in that churchyard, so it is still only circumstancial and we have no absolute proof that they are the right people.

The next step was to get their death certificates.

Susanna' death certificate states that she died on 2 Oct 1872 at Ballinatone, that she was aged 50, a Farmer's wife, and she died of cancer of the womb. The informant was William Manning, Present at death, Ballinatone. No doubt, that was her husband, William.

The death certificate for William shows that he died on 9 Oct 1881 at Ballytague [sic]. He was a 71 year old widower, Farmer, and died of spasmodic asthma & bronchitis.  The informant was Archibald Manning, Brother of Greenane, present at death.

This surely refers to William Manning, bapt in Rathdrum 26 Aug 1810 son of "Archb'd & Mariah, Ballyteague".  That William had a brother Archibald of Greenane (born about 1814). That allowed me to build up the following family for William. William was the son of Archibald Manning, born about 1784. He married Maria Bates at Rathdrum on 21 Dec 1805.  There is no baptism for Archibald in the Rathdrum registers, so that became a dead end.

And what about Susanna?  Her age at death indicated that she was born about 1822, but there was no corresponding baptism in the Rathdrum Registers.  

My next breakthrough came from newspapers. The first was an announcement of William & Susanna's marriage:

"On the 3d instant, at St. Peter's Church, by the Rev. Dr. Porter, William Manning, Esq., of Rathdrum, to Susannah, only daughter of Richard Manning, Esq., of Corballis, near Rathdrum." (Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail, 6 Aug 1842, p7)

So Susanna was the daughter of Richard Manning. Another marriage announcement gave me Susanna's mother's name:

"On Thursday last, in Rathdrum Church, by the Rev. Mr. Powell, Rector of that Parish, Richard Manning, Esq. son of Thomas Manning, Esq of Corballis Castle, County of Wicklow, to the amiable Miss Sarah Manning, eldest daughter of Robert Manning, Esq of Mount Corballis, near Rathdrum." (Saunders's News-letter and Daily Advertiser, Thursday 24 Aug 1820).

Without a baptism for Archibald (father of William) or Richard (son of Thomas) more work needed to be done. Likewise, more work needs to be done to verify which Robert is Sarah's father.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

I'm getting excited about RootsTech London

I have been to RootsTech in Salt Lake City several times, but I am particularly excited about the London RootsTech conference. Why? Because of some of the sessions and speakers.

David Rencher from FamilySearch is talking on Irish Estate Land and Property Records. I heard him speak in Sydney a couple of months ago and he is a good speaker, and I learnt some little known facts from him.  Myko Clelland from Findmypast is also a good speaker and I have highlighted several of his talks (Beyond the British Census, To have and to Hold: Understanding British Marriage Records and Scottish Genealogy: Beyond the Basics) in my list of sessions that interest me. And there are several speakers I am aware of but have not heard speak. This will be a fantastic opportunity to do so.

David Rencher in Sydney
While there is always a certain amount of content relating to the British Isles at the Salt Lake City conferences, there will  be far more at the London conference, which is important for me as I have no US ancestry: all my ancestors are from England, Ireland or Scotland (and my husband also has Isle of Man and Jersey). I have looked at the list of sessions and in every time slot there are multiple ones that interest me in each of them.  Topics covered that interest me include workhouse records, rural ancestors, Irish genealogy, parish records and nonconformist records to name just a few. And of course, there are many sessions on DNA.

One other thing I noticed was that there were lots of sessions on scanning photos, negatives and film and various other sessions relating to photos and doing short video interviews.  I think some of those will be very interesting.

I have been told that many British people attending family history shows are primarily interested in the exhibitors, and consider the talks as a side attraction and only attend one or two of them. If so, that is a pity as they are missing out on opportunities to hear fantastic lectures. At family history conferences here in Australia it is definitely the lectures that are the key attraction. Not to say that exhibitors are not of interest, but the talks are the main reason for attending. And unlike the old Who Do You Think You Are? Live, all these lectures are included in the one price at RootsTech. You do not have to pay any extra.

Expo Hall at RootsTech in Salt Lake City
So perhaps the strategy is to consider RootsTech as a conference, not just a family history show.

And as well as the formal lectures, there will be other sessions in the Exhibition Hall. The demo theatre will have an interesting program, though it has not yet been published, and many of the major vendors will have scheduled sessions at their booths.

But it's not just commercial companies that you will find in the Exhibition Hall. Many local family history societies are booking a stand as they are eligible for a very special rate for the show.

If I have managed to spark your interest, or if you had already decided you were going, keep an eye on this blog for a chance to win a free 3-day pass to RootsTech London 2019. If you have already purchased a ticket and you win my competition, you will get a full refund of your purchase money, so go ahead and register now, while early bird pricing is still in force.

Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Who was James Annesley's father?

Beware of online family trees – they may well be wrong.

That might sound obvious, but these errors have a habit of spreading around.  Let me give you a real life example.

My 4g-grandfather, James Ansley or Annesley, was sent to Australia as a convict on the Dorothy in 1820. We know little about his background, but some people have put parents for him on their Ancestry trees.  They claim that he is the son of John Hubert Valentia Dubois Annesley and Margaret O'Connell.

Unfortunately there is no evidence of that, and I firmly believe it to be untrue.

I tried many years ago to find out the source of this information and whether there was any proof, but it seems people had just copied information from another tree without any evidence, which is always unwise, even if the dates look feasible. It is important to always verify information yourself. I think I managed to track down person who originally posted the information, but that person won't reply to any messages I send, and therefore won't say where the information comes from.

Let me review what we know about James.
  1. James Ansley/Annesley was convicted of "felony of wearing apparel and cash" in Dublin City in Jul 1819. He was sentenced to seven years transportation. He was aged 19, his native place (i.e. birthplace) was Co. Meath. His calling (i.e. occupation) was "servant", his height was 5'2½", Complexion fair rud[dy], hair black, eyes hazel.[i]
  2. He arrived in Sydney on 19 Sep 1820 on the Dorothy.[ii] He served his full term of seven years, and received his Certificate of Freedom on 6 Jul 1826.[iii]
  3. He married Elizabeth Quinn on 10 Nov 1833[iv] and had eleven children, dying in 1883.[v]
  4. He was Catholic (from 1828 census of NSW[vi], marriage by Catholic rites, and baptisms of children in Catholic church[vii]).
  5. The convict indents and his Certificate of Freedom[viii] state that James's native place (i.e. where he was born) was Co. Meath and that he was born about 1801. The only place where it says different is an obituary for him, published in a Queensland Newspaper.[ix]
"How's, this for high. Last June, James Annesley, of Orange, (N.S.W.), was cut off in the prime of his youth, aged 82 years and 10 months ; and, in the following July, his wife, Elizabeth, left to rejoin the old man, aged 72 years, 6 months. James was a Dubliner ; Elizabeth one of the good old style of "straight half-mile " Windsor natives. Before they started on their "grand tour" they donated to the colony 11 children, 69 grandchildren, and 24 great grandchildren. Talk about assisted immigration! Figure up what this Annesley crowd will total in 2883 and you'll find they'll crowd Australia."

I have no idea who gave this information to this Brisbane newspaper, but I think the Dublin reference is due to the fact that he was living and working there when he was convicted and sent to New South Wales.

Now let's look at his purported father, John Hubert Valentia Dubois Annesley.

  1. His mother was Lady Dorothea/Dorothy Annesley (1728-1774), daughter of Richard Annesley, afterwards sixth earl of Anglesey, and Ann Simpson.[i] (She is a very interesting person. See information on her at
  2. His father was Peter Du Bois, a French musician who converted to Protestantism when he married Dorothea in 1752.[ii] They had six children. The known children are John Hubert Valentia, Frederick Peter, Ambrose Harvey Simpson (known as Simpson), Anna & Deborah.[iii]
  3. Lady Dorothea Dubois nee Annesley died in 1774. Her will mentions her two sons by Peter Dubois, John Hubert Valentia Dubois and Frederick Peter Dubois. No mention is made of her son Simpson or her daughters.[iv]
  4. John Dubois and his brother Simpson join the Honorable East India Company (HEIC) as cadets in 1778.[v]
  5. John H V Dubois was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the HEIC 16 Feb 1779.[vi] We can see that he was stationed in Bengal in the 2nd Battalion in 1787, 1792 and 1795.[vii]
  6. John promoted to Captain HEIC 10 Jun 1796.[viii]
  7. 1799, JHV Dubois retired from the HEIC on half pay.[ix]
  8. 29 May 1799, Elizabeth Dorinda, daughter of John Hubert Valentia Dubois & Sarah Matilda, was baptised at St Mary, Lambeth, England. No record of a marriage to a Sarah Matilda has been found, nor any other children by Sarah Matilda.[x]
  9. Captain John Hubert Valentia DuBois Annesley of the City of Dublin, took out a licence to marry Margaret O'Donnell of the parish of Donnybrook on 11 Nov 1803[xi]. THIS IS THE ONLY TIME HIS SURNAME IS SHOWN AS ANNESLEY. No record of this marriage can be found, but it could well be a victim of the 1922 fire.
  10. John Hubert Valentia Dubois, Esq, Capt in the 12th Regt of Sepoys took out a licence to marry Catherine Shebell of the parish of St Andrews, spinster on 23 Jul 1810[xii]. Again, no record of this marriage has been found.
  11. Hubertus Dubois, son of J.H. Valentia Dubois and Catherine was born 1 Jan 1817 and bap in the Church of Ireland 1 Feb 1817 in Tullamore, co. Offlay.[xiii]
  12. John Hubert Valentia Dubois died in 1826.[xiv]
So why do I think these two are not father and son?

  1. John only has the surname Annesley in one document.
  2. Why would a Protestant Captain in the Honorable East India company have a Catholic son who was a servant working in Dublin? Do not underestimate the religion aspect, or the socio-economic one.
  3. John was living in Dublin in 1803. There is no record that he was ever living in Co. Meath where James was born circa 1801.
  4. Not finding a baptism for James is not surprising. Most catholic parish registers start about 1830 (though there are, admittedly, some earlier ones). The reason is that the Penal Laws imposed great restrictions on anyone who was not a member of the Church of Ireland. Why keep a register that records that you are a member of the Catholic faith and therefore subject to persecution?
  5. Even if James was John's son, why is everyone so sure the mother was Margaret O'Donnell? Many people seem happy for James to have been born two years before the marriage, but this really wasn't common at the time. And if it had happened, such a child would rarely take their father's surname. I've never heard of one taking a grandmother's maiden name. Thus, if he was the son of Margaret O'Donnell, I would expect him to be called James O'Donnell.

So I'm afraid we are still no closer to discovering who James's parents were, but the online trees naming them as John Hubert Valentia Dubois Annesley (or John Herbert Valentine Dubois Annesley) & Margaret O'Donnell are extremely unlikely to be true, or at the very least, are unproved.

Mt York Cemetery, Hartley Vale, where James Annesley
is buried in an unmarked grave

[i] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[ii] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
[iii] Betham Genealogical Abstracts: Will of Dorothea Dubois 1774 & Anne (Simpson), Countess of Anglesey, 1764. Parish register of St Marylebone, Middlesex, accessed on (
[iv] Betham Wills, Vol 10, p 46, Genealogical Office. Accessed on Findmypast (
[v] Dodwell, Edward & James Samuel Miles. Alphabetical list of the officers of the Bengal army : with the dates of their respective promotion, retirement, resignation or death, whether in India or in Europe, from the year 1760 to the year 1834 inclusive (corrected to September 30, 1837). London: Longman, Orme, Brown, and Co, 1838. Accessed on (
[vi] Ibid.
[vii] The Bengal calendar for the year 1787: including a list of the Hon. and United East India Company's civil and military servants on the Bengal establishment, &c (; The Bengal calendar for the year MDCCXCII: including a list of the Hon. and United East India Company's civil and military servants on the Bengal establishment, &c (; The Bengal calendar for the year MDCCXCV: including a list of the Hon. and United East India Company's civil and military servants on the Bengal establishment, &c (
[viii] Alphabetical list of the officers of the Bengal army, op.cit.
[ix] Ibid.
[x] Parish register of St Mary, Lambeth (
[xi] Betham Genealogical Abstracts (
[xii] Ibid
[xiv] Officers of the Bengal Army, LDS film 845177/78/79 page 89.

[i] NSW State Archives: Superintendent of Convicts; NRS 12188, Convict Indents, 1788-1842. 4/4007 Microfiche: 646, Dorothy, 1820.; NSW State Archives: Secretary to the Governor; NRS 1155, Musters and Other papers relating to convict ships, 1790-1849, 2/8255, Dorothy, 1820.
[ii] Convict indent for ship Dorothy, op. cit.
[iii] Certificate of Freedom of James Ansley. NSW State Archives: Superintendent of Convicts; NRS 12208, Registers of certificates of Freedom, 1810-1833. James Ansley 018/5406, 6 Jul 1826.
[iv] Transcript of the  marriage certificate of James Annesly and Eliza Quinn, married 10 Nov 1833, transcribed by unknown transcriber (NSW Index Ref: No. 113, Vol 129, Year 1833)
[v] NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages (
[vi] Carol Baxter, 1828 Census of NSW (CD-ROM)., CD-ROM (Library of Australian History)
[vii] NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages op.cit.
[viii] Certificate of Freedom of James Ansley, op. cit.
[ix] Queensland Figaro, Saturday 18 August 1883, p3. (