Monday, 31 March 2014

Finding Genealogy Data in an Unexpected Country

Image by David Castillo Dominici, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In my first post ('A Genealogy Indexing Addict in Australia') I promised to show you how information about a particular family or individual can be found (perhaps unexpectedly) in another country. Here are a few of the many interesting examples that I have seen.

  • Magdalene NIELSON died in America, but the State Archives in Queensland, Australia, have her probate file. It describes her as 'formerly of Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, but late of the City of New York, USA; wife of Peter NIELSON (formerly of Bundaberg but at present of Copenhagen, Denmark)'. The file includes Magdalene's death certificate from America (giving her age, marital status, occupation, birthplace, how long in the USA, how long in New York City, names and birthplaces of her father and mother, her place and cause of death, and class of dwelling); and a transit permit for her body to go to Germany, stating the exact burial place there.

  • Ellis READ owned land at Burketown, Queensland, Australia. When it was sold after his death, a grant of probate was required so that a certificate of title could be issued. The Supreme Court file at Queensland State Archives shows that he lived in Mexico from 1882 to 1890; and between 1887 and 1890 he made business trips to England and lived there for a few months at a time. He died in Mexico in 1890, but his widow did not apply for administration of his estate until ten years later. An affidavit gives a translation of details from his death certificate (age, cause of death, burial place, native place, occupation, wife's maiden name, father's name, mother's maiden name).

  • Margaret STAPLETON died in Queensland, Australia, and her death certificate says 'born Ireland, parents names unknown'; but her probate file at Queensland State Archives reveals their names. In her will, Margaret left property to her sister Johanna in Ireland. As Johanna's surname was spelled incorrectly in the will, she had to prove that she was the person named as beneficiary. Johanna was unable to supply her birth certificate because her birth had not been registered. Instead she sent a copy of her baptism record from a parish register in England! It gave her father's name and mother's maiden name.

  • Patrick DOWNEY was born in Tipperary, Ireland, and died at Cairns, Queensland, Australia. A Supreme Court equity file at Queensland State Archives says that his brother, John DOWNEY, died at Paterson, New Jersey, USA, in about 1884.

  • James Edward BUTLER was born in Ireland. He was charged with wife desertion after he left his wife and six children in New Zealand. A few years later his wife was in Sydney, Australia, trying to find him. This information, plus a detailed physical description of James, appeared in a New South Wales Police Gazette. (Many Police Gazettes for various Australian States can now be searched online.)

There are entries for people from many parts of the world in:
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11 comments:

  1. Thanks for a great post and some new ideas for looking for leads to where our family came from. Some tips on sources that we wouldn't always think of. R

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    1. My pleasure, Diane. These are just some of the examples that I'll use in my presentation at libraries in Cairns, Atherton and Townsville in June 2014. The title of my talk will be 'Look Beyond the Border! Archival records with data for interstate and overseas folk.'

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  2. I was surprised to find a probate record back in England for someone who died in Australia and who had an Australian probate file - just because you find one probate file doesn't always mean you have found them all. It made sense once I had found it but it was an unexpected pleasure. That second file helped me locate some previously unknown siblings and uncover more of the family story.
    Regards
    Anne

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    1. Anne, it is certainly exciting to find multiple probate files for the same person, but many family historians don't know where to look. I have added these links to my original post: (1) FindMyPast's wills and probate collection (including the very useful Great Western Railway Shareholders 1835-1932, which refers to many wills) and (2) Ancestry's collection of wills, administrations, probate records and death duty registers (including the National Probate Calendar for England and Wales).

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  3. A fascinating article that put new light on our research techniques.

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    1. Thanks for your comment - and apologies for taking so long to reply. April-May have been difficult.

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  4. I have to say, this is some great research and so very interesting.

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    1. Carol, I'm glad that you enjoyed reading my examples. I have now added some links to my original post to help people find those unexpected 'international' sources.

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  5. During WW2 my grandfather was sent to Canada as part of the Commonwealth Air Training plan. I found a USA immigration record for him as he passed through California. I never would've thought to look there.

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    1. Laren, thank you for sharing that great example. It reminded me that I've found useful information (including some for Australians travelling abroad) in USA-Canada border crossing records.

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  6. I was delighted to see that images and transcripts of New South Wales wills books 1800-1952 have just gone online. A magnificent resource! The (shortened) link is http://bit.ly/2nswwills2.

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World Wide Genealogy Team