Found this reason on a death record, for why the cause of death was unknown.
Unknown, as deceased pertinaciously refused to see a medical person
Found this reason on a death record, for why the cause of death was unknown.
Unknown, as deceased pertinaciously refused to see a medical person
I use the Ancestry website for building my family tree and there is a field at the top of each person profile page to show you what relationship you have to this person. Here’s one I spotted recently that made me chuckle.
I’m not sure this really counts as being related?
In modern times in Scotland (and many other countries) the way surnames are assigned is well known to us. As a child you get the same surname as one or both of your parents. This has been the case since around the same time as the Statutory Records began in 1855. In Scotland, a Statutory Birth record provides both the parents names and the child’s full name so there is no doubt the name the child has been given.
The prior records, kept before 1855, are nowhere near as verbose. These Old Parish Baptism Records record the father’s full name and address and the child’s first name. Here’s an example.
|Oct 24||Thomas Johnson, Cliprogarth a Son John|
You might be thinking, well, that’s not a problem, the child’s full name is easy to extrapolate from the father’s surname. Clearly the child is called John Johnson. You would not be alone in thinking that since that is how the various online indexes would interpret this record too. However, this is where the practice of using patronymic surnames comes in and confuses the issue.
A patronymic is where the child does not inherit the surname of their parent but instead gains a surname based on the father’s first name. In the example above, if the child had a patronymic they would be known as John Thomason, that is John son of Thomas.
This is a pattern that I believe was inherited from the Norse people who settled Shetland. Going back far enough in the records I am studying you do also come across the female form of this pattern, for example Joanna Williamdottir, that is Joanna daughter of William. There are not many examples of these and it seems that by 1800 the girls were following the male pattern, so Joanna would be Williamson just like her brothers.
So how do you know which surname pattern is in use in this time period prior to the start of Statutory Records? The answer is you can’t tell from just one record. You simply have to remember to bear it in mind when searching for records about a person. Some people used them and some did not.
For further reading, the Icelandic scheme still in use today is similar to how it was in Shetland in the early 19th century.
I’ve written a few blog posts where patronymic surnames have played a part in the research:-
I can’t resist a puzzle, and when someone posted a question about an Unst ancestor in the Shetland Genealogy Facebook Group, I couldn’t resist taking a closer look. Their 4th Great-Grandparents were John Thomason and Barbara Jane Winwick who I had in the Unst Family Tree already, and they were trying to determine John’s parents. John died on 8 April 1847 which is before 1855 and thus part of the Old Parish Records which means that no parents of the deceased are recorded.
|John Thomason, Watquoy||8 April||10 Apr||at Baliasta|
She had found a John Thomason born to parents Thomas Johnson and Ann Williamson, and wondered whether that John could be the same one.
Thomas Johnson from Unst, and Ann Williamson from Yell (the neighbouring island) were married in Unst on 29 November 1801. From the Old Parish Record of their marriage contract we also know that Thomas was from Clipragrath.
|1801||Contracts of Marriage|
|Nov 29||Thomas Johnson, Clipragarth and Ann Williamson|
Ann Williamson/Johnson can be found in the 1841 and 1851 census returns living with her daughter Mary. She is recorded as a widow in the 1851 census, and was likely a widow in 1841 as well, but that early census does not record such data. To double check this is the same Ann Williamson, I found her daughter Mary’s death record in Unst on 10 July 1877 which shows her parents to be Thomas Johnson and Ann Williamson. So we have the correct person here. Finding all the siblings seemed to be the right thing to follow.
Looking through the Unst Old Parish Baptism Records from 1800 until 1823 (starting just before they were married in case there was a first child out of wedlock) for all children born to a father of Thomas Johnson, yields the following list.
Clearly these are not all the same father, however, the first five children (with Mary recorded twice) all born to a Thomas Johnson of Cliprogarth look very likely to be siblings.
To double-check sibling-ship, we need to find the death records for those who died after 1855.
Confirmation of the parentage of all the sisters, who died after 1855, and the high likelihood that all the children born to Thomas Johnson of Cliprogarth are siblings, leaves me in no doubt that John Thomason was the son of Thomas Johnson and Ann Williamson as well.
Finally we must ask, could there be any other John Thomason born around the same time who is the man married to Barbara Jane Winwick? All we really know of John is from the 1841 census return where his age (which will have been rounded down) is given as 40.
Looking through the Unst Old Parish Baptism Records from 1795 until 1805 for all children called John, yielded a list of 46 Johns. It is unknown when looking at such entries, what surname the child will use in future records, as patronymic surnames were still very much in use at this time and the OPR entry only records the child’s given name (regardless of how some genealogy websites choose to transcribe it!). Considering both surname forms, we end up with the following list of John’s to follow-up on.
|OPR Baptism Entry||Patronymic Name||Name|
|1798 June 17 George Thomson Gunister, a twin Son John||John Georgeson||John Thomson|
|1798 Sep 9 Thomas Miller, Skreveld, a Son John||John Thomason||John Miller|
|1802 Oct 24 Thomas Johnson Cliprogarth a Son John||John Thomason||John Johnson|
|1804 Mar 10 Laurence Thomson Setter a Son John||John Laurenson||John Thomson|
|1804 July 8 Thomas Harrison & Ursula Williamson a Son John||John Thomason||John Harrison|
|1804 Dec 14 Thomas Anderson Cliff a Son John||John Thomason||John Anderson|
Here’s what we know about the above John’s.
Through a process of elimination, we can therefore confidently say that John Thomason, son of Thomas Johnson of Cliprogarth, is the same man that married Barbara Jane Winwick. There is no other man it could be.
I have a profile on the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) website (actually I have two, that one and one for my Unst work). I was recently contacted by a gentleman who was trying to track down the child of a couple and had no luck and wondered if there was anything I could do from within NZ as he had exhausted the online databases.
The couple were Mabel Meredith Maitland (b.16 Jun 1869, NZ) and John Arthur Mason (b. 1864, Woodford, Essex, England). They were married on 8 Jul 1891 in St Matthews Church, Dunedin, Otago, NZ, and their marriage can be found in the local paper, the Otago Witness.
There was also a report on the fashion and social attendance of the wedding in this newspaper report.
Also in the papers was their divorce, an extract of which is shown below. It was this report that showed that there was a child from this union, but that child was no where to be found in any of the online genealogy databases.
I tracked down the divorce record which was found to be held in Wellington. It was free to go along to the Wellington Reading Room to view the document. However, I am not in Wellington, so it was not free to me. So I went back on the RAOGK website and found a Wellington based volunteer, and she was very happy to go along to the reading room and see what this document contained. It was a stack of about 15 documents, each with numerous pages, in a bundle and tied with a pink ribbon. They were folded legal docs and the pile stood about 3 inches high. She was so relieved when all the pertinent genealogical information was found on the first page!
TO SIR JAMES PRENDERGAST KNIGHT CHIEF JUSTICE.
THE 26th day of November 1897.
THE Petition of Mabel Meredith Mason of the City of Wellington sheweth.
1. THAT your Petitioner was on the 8th day of July 1891 lawfully married to John Arthur Mason at St.Matthew’s Church Dunedin by the Reverend Bishop Neville.
2. THAT after her said marriage your Petitioner lived and co-habited with her said husband at Tapanui in Otago, New Zealand, Melbourne in Victoria Australia and at Plymouth in England and that your Petitioner and her said husband had issue of their said marriage one child to wit John Clifford Stuart Mason aged 1year and 10 months.
I have to assume that the quoted age of the child is at the time of the document, since we know the child still lives as Mabel is granted custody of the child, according to the newspaper article on the divorce.
This would mean that John Clifford Stuart Mason would have been born around Jan or Feb 1896. From the newspaper report on the divorce we know a little of their travels around that time.
So would she have traveled when heavily pregnant and had John in New Zealand, or perhaps on board the ship? Or is the three or four months wait between leaving her husband and traveling to New Zealand because she waited and had the baby before traveling? This would mean that John was born in the UK.
Mabel actually married three times. She has a helpfully unique combination of names and so searching Papers Past found her several times. After her divorce from John Arthur Mason she then married Frederick Stuart Des Barres on 1 Sep 1900 in the Registry Office, Napier, Hawkes’ Bay, New Zealand. This marriage also ended in divorce on 14 Mar 1912, as per another newspaper report. Then she married a third time, in 1913, to James Ambrose Eivers and shows up in the papers again trying to get back the jewelry that her second husband used as security on an overdraft.
Helpfully, Mabel’s son John also has a seemingly unique combination of names, so I searched for his names. Nothing came up to start with, so I dropped the surname, and up popped a war record in the Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph for a John Clifford Stuart Des Barres. Des Barres was his mother Mable’s second married name. Could this be him? Reading through the record, in the listing of his company:-
|Reg. No.||Rank.||Name.||Occupation.||Name and Address of Next-of-kin.|
|10747||Corporal||Des Barres, Clifford Stuart||Picture-show Manager||Mrs. M. Eivers (mother), Opotiki.|
Knowing how he was referred to, I was then able to find a report of his death in Papers Past, in the New Zealand Herald.
I stopped briefly when I saw the mother’s name here, wondering if I’d mixed up two different people. But then I realised Mabel Meredith was also Mrs James Ambrose Eivers.
According to his war record he was born in Ireland, so I guess Mabel did wait until after he was born before traveling back to New Zealand with her new-born, and it’s no wonder we couldn’t find his birth in England or New Zealand.
It seems rather fitting that this chain of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness should find this man, who died serving his country in WWI on the eve of ANZAC day.
I’m really not sure about this one. I can understand the need for a research log when you are working on behalf of someone else, and to some extent that’s how the referenced sample log looks as well. So I don’t really know what to do here. I wouldn’t use the data in the log, so why keep it? Perhaps some of you that do keep research logs can tell me what the point of it is?
Back when I first started this blog, I took an online blogging course run by WordPress, and one piece of advice from that course was to find other blogs that interested you and follow them too. I found a number of the blogs I follow now back then, and have added to it gradually as I find others through various social media posts. I created a blog roll (which you can see on the right hand area of my blog if you are reading this post online) back then, but I haven’t updated it since. So, prompted by the task for today, I have updated my blog roll.
My tree on ancestry is completely private, so for now I don’t have concerns. When I complete my work to the point where I choose to put it online, then I will have to ensure living people’s data is protected. Helpfully this comes built into TNG which is the model I intend to use to get it all on line.
There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent collection for the UK. I expect to find the death dates I need from the statutory records.
My biggest problem at the moment is not having enough hours in the day to process all the data I already have. Once I get through all that then I will step back and look for incomplete people that I will then focus on.
I know Unst fairly well, although, as I noted in the post about Old Maps, I am still discovering where some house names are on the maps. Going through the census page by page helps hugely with that because the houses are recorded by district and area, and in a fairly logical progression, i.e. if you come across an unknown house, it is likely somewhere close to the previous and next houses on the census. There are a number of areas that crop up again and again where Unst people moved to, such as Leith in Edinburgh, and Toxteth Park in Liverpool. Both are areas with docks which no doubt would be attractive to men who had grown up with fishing as a livelihood. These two areas are good candidates for me to dig into further.
I’ve enjoyed quite a few of these prompts that got me doing things that I knew I should be doing but wasn’t. While some aspects of my research was already in good shape, now other aspects are in better shape too. However, it is by no means finished, and so I’m not yet at a point where I’ll be putting it up online yet. That’s something I am looking forward to in the future though.
Since I’ve just started to use TNG (privately for now) to look at my Unst tree, it produces a timeline for each person. Here’s one for the person I’d like to interview (see Day 18).
I also have him located on all the census returns from 1841 through 1901, and his occupation recorded from various marriage records of his children which is not shown on this timeline that TNG produces (perhaps I can update it a bit once I learn more about how to modify TNG).
The relative I’d like to interview is my great great grandfather ‘Auld Erne’ (the sea eagle) John Hughson, who lived in Colvadale and was skipper of a sixereen.
Since I chose a relative that is no longer alive, I’m skipping this one.
There are quite a number of varied spellings for surnames that I have come across in my tree. Some are fairly repetitive and predictable, like, Johnston vs Johnson, and Jamieson vs Jameson, but some are a bit more interesting.
|Variations||Clunass, Clunes||Matheson, Mathewson, Mathieson||Thomason, Thompson|
Since I’m doing a family tree for the whole area of Unst, I do this as a matter of course. You do find people recorded on census with their neighbours, or siblings, and so on.
My birth and marriage were already in the tree, but I’ve now added schooling, university graduation, the two main “Starting Work” events, and my emigration to New Zealand.
My own ancestry, and that of the island I am studying, all comes from Unst in Shetland. I was brought up speaking the Shetland dialect, which does vary from place to place in Shetland.
There is also a Shetland Dictionary, both in book form (I have one in the bookcase) and more recently online.
My desk isn’t too bad at the moment. There are definitely times when it has been a lot worse (Ahem!)
Here’s a before and after picture.
I’m normally an Ancestry girl so I tried out Findmypast with my local genealogy group the other day. They have the same data essentially it would seem, but choose to display it in a different format. For example, for census records, Ancestry shows you one record at a time on the page with the list of other household members at the end, whereas Findmypast shows all rows from that household on the page at the same time (rather like the image shows you).
Once I get through all the records I am currently processing, my next problem to work on will be finding all those families that emigrated to New Zealand. I know there are many of them, although some of them I may not yet have even identified as having gone anywhere, they’ll just have disappeared off the face of the planet! This is my basic research strategy.
That’s essentially what I’m working through for my tree. I have, for example, got all the census records from 1911 back to 1871 associated with all the people in my tree, and all the marriage records (since they are the most helpful, listing both sets of parents!)
Again, this may be one of the reasons why it’s taking me so long to do what I plan, but I do this as a matter of course. It has been extremely useful in locating all sorts of missing people who were later found with their siblings or children.
This is something I plan to put together programmatically when I get everything onto a website. In the process of producing such a paragraph, it would then become clear when I didn’t have all the information needed to finish the paragraph. I imagine it looking something like this:-
Janet was born on 27 Apr 1848, the second child of 13, to parents Andrew Scott Edwardson and Barbara nee Sinclair. As with all their children, Andrew and Barbara baptised her within a few months of her birth on 11 Jun 1848. She lived in the family home in Collaster, and then Snarravoe, until she married Laurence Sutherland on 21 Nov 1857 in the Uyeasound Free Church, on the same day as her sister Tamar married.
She and Laurence had 13 children and lived in Lerwick and Unst throughout their marriage. She died the year before her husband, on 3 Apr 1936 in Murrister.
For me this is the same thing I described on Day 10, so I won’t repeat it, and catch up another day in my aim to complete this in February.
I have this checklist for my tree as a whole, rather than per person. The list currently looks a bit like this (since I’m working on both census and statutory records to give myself some variation!):-
All my dates are formatted thus:-
Well that’s Week 2 finished, and I feel my tree is in quite good health, albeit still with a lot of work to do, but at least I have a plan!
I only came across the blog post 31 Days of Family History Fitness at the very end of January so I decided to do it in February instead. I’ll update you with my progress on a weekly basis.
I don’t use desktop software but instead build my private tree on the Ancestry website. I do download GEDCOM copies of it in an ad hoc manner, when I think I’ve made a sufficient number of changes to warrant doing so. This had increased a little recently when I’ve been playing around with TNG, but I could do with a more regular pattern as well as the ad hoc extras. So since I’m starting a new month to improve my family history fitness, I’ll mark the beginning of the month as the time when I take a new GEDCOM copy.
With my new regular export to GEDCOM I’m also going to use that to save it off to an external hard-drive too. If I do them both together I have more chance of achieving this as a regular step.
Citations are one of my strong suits, and possibly the reason why it’s taking me so long to finish my work. Nothing goes into the tree without full transcriptions and source citations.
Some of my documents follow a good scheme and some don’t. Census pages and any statutory records (post-1855) are well organised including the year in the naming scheme. Old Parish Records are much less organised and every time I need to browse a particular year it takes me a while to find it. So I’ve used this prompt as a nudge to get that sorted.
This is my nearest Family History Centre. It is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am -3.30pm. I haven’t been there yet, but I definitely want to go.
Since I haven’t taken a DNA test, I’ve skipped this day. After all there are more days in January than there are in February so in order to complete it in February I need to get cracking.
Searching the FamilySearch online catalog for Unst showed up a small number of records, but nothing that I hadn’t seen before. At least I know I’m not missing out on something major as a source!
The best digitised newspaper site for British research is of course the British Newspaper Archives. It has the Shetland Times, from 1872 onwards, digitised which I use in an ad hoc manner at the moment, with an intention to go through more thoroughly once I finish processing all the information I have already collected. It can also be used for free from the library which is nice.
So that’s week 1 finished. I’m feeling fitter already, well better organised anyway!
I have 29 ancestors who were alive in the 1900s, including two Great Great Great Grand-parents.
I also have photographs of all my Great Grand-parents, and three of my Great Great Grand-parents.
However, I do agree with the sentiment of Janet’s post; I think I spend much more of my research time in the 1800s than the 1900s!
How about you?