Walking in cemeteries

This was the third chat for the #ANZAncestryTime twitter group. Tonight was more informal and included many images of gravestones and cemeteries members had visited. But we still had our set questions. Two new words I learnt tonight were:

Taphophilia – here is a site to check out its meaning

Coimetromania – post here about the meaning

Q1 Where is your favourite cemetery to research and why?

I’m going to put a list of cemeteries mentioned at the end of this post with links to any databases etc related to them. But most mentioned they research a cemetery where their ancestors were buried. A few different reasons appeared:

Fran said: The winning cemetery for me is Karori Cemetery in Wellington, NZ. It has many of my ancestors graves or entries in the memorial book. Best they have a great free database managed by Wellington City Council.

Jennifer had a different reason: At the moment it’s Axedale in central Victoria. I’m currently recording all the graves for my One Place Study.

Hilary said: No favourite as not had chance to get to any where family are since I retired

Jill mentioned: One of my favourite cemeteries is Glasnevin in Dublin. Friendly staff, genealogist on site, online ancestor search. Fantastic graves and headstones. Interesting tours and brimming with history.

Sharn had a great reason for liking her cemetery: I have a soft spot for Cooroy Cemetery in Qld where my gg grandparents were both buried in 1927 because my husband David restored the headstone. Now, there’s more to the story but…. another time! See question 3 below for rest of story.

Jill enjoyed visiting another on her travels: I loved the Green-Wood Cemetery in New York. The staff were not at all helpful but we still managed to find a monument that listed details of ancestors we didn’t know about.

Seonaid said: My favourite NZ cemetery would have to be Symonds St Cemetery – the 1st cemetery in Auckland, where all the early Auckland settlers were buried. In use since 1842.

Being Tasmanian: My favourite cemetery is at Cornelian Bay in Hobart as that is where majority of my ancestors are buried. Also love that it is online and searchable through Millingtons.

Pauline mentioned: My absolute favourite cemetery for research is the large Drayton & Toowoomba Cemetery in Qld. Lots of rellies but an excellent search facility giving dates, locations and even photos of the gravestones!

Liz said: I have researched burials in many cemeteries but especially like the country cemeteries where the pioneers lay at rest. Many historical graves

Maggie said: Love Temuka cemetery in South Canterbury – lots of whānau buried there. Timaru District council and their cemetery search and photos means you can do it from home too

Brooke had an unusual reason: My favourite cemetery is the graveyard attached to All Saints Anglican at Sutton Forest. Why? It’s a good day trip escape from my kids 😉

Melissa said: Maybe I’m biased because I live out West, but Waikumete Cemetery is my fave. I only have a couple of relatives there, but it’s full of awesome characters.

View from Norfolk Island Cemetery when I visited in 2019

Q2 was about links or tips about favourite cemeteries

  • I love visiting my ancestors’ last resting place, a way of connecting to them.
  • Cemeteries are a good way to get kids interested in genealogy. They like ghoul.
  • I have started to take photos for the one in my village at the end of my cul de sac.
  • So important to take photos before headstone degrade. Most important now that some cemeteries are removing headstones and recycling graves.
  • When we visit the cemeteries we also get to see the area where they lived and worked.
  • Some cemeteries are huge so wear good walking shoes. Many of the older parts do not have paths and it’s hilly too. Check out possible locations of graves before hand so you can park closer. The office is typically most helpful.
  • It is always terrific if you are able to visit the cemetery in person if possible and locate the graves of your relatives.
  • Always look for more than one burial, even if you are just concentrating your search on an individual. It is not uncommon to have family members buried with each other and / or very close by.
  • Check to see if there are any memorial inscriptions or graveyard maps published – many local societies have done amazing work. Especially useful when headstones have been removed or are illegible.
  • Combine the information on a headstone with some Trove research. How could I not try to find out something about a man named ‘Dolphin’? He’s no relation to me, but I popped my findings onto Ancestry & helped someone.
  • Headstones can give additional information that may not be found elsewhere. There might be a year or exact date of birth, or the place where they were born, or other family members on the headstone or nicknames.
  • Symbolism about the person may be reflected in the actual monument or style of grave.
  • I take photos of family graves and their neighbours when visiting cemeteries and upload them to BillionGraves.
  • If not online, consider visiting in office hours where some of the big cemeteries have staff to consult. They may have grave maps to direct you to the plot
  • Remember, sometimes they have incorrect data – as always -need to check.
  • Calling ahead is also a good move
  • Take a notebook and note down the inscriptions in case you can’t read them properly on the photo later
  • If the cemetery is associated with a church (as many in the UK are) researching the church’s history may be advantageous
  • Burial records will indicate who is also buried in the same grave and it is not unusual to find unknown people in your research. All internments may not be indicated on the headstone
  • if travelling check ahead to find out as much as possible about the cemetery
  • A lot of burial records are now online, either via local councils or cemetery Trusts or via other larger websites such as FMP, Ancestry and FamilySearch or via crowd sourced websites such as Find a grave and Billiongraves
  • I find that searching regional council websites can lead me to their grave search options – very helpful. Some are database and some are pdf.
  • I’ve found funeral notices or obituaries more useful for burial information.
  • Also beware that the person may have been buried elsewhere then relocated and reburied closer to family.
  • Public libraries hold unique often fairly accessible local history collections. Check the library in the location where your ancestor lived for cemetery records
  • The local Family History Society often have indexes.
  • Errors in transcriptions online does happen, so if a photograph of a headstone is not available, try to find and compare several different versions of headstone transcriptions for a particular cemetery.
  • We can’t always rely on the inscription on the headstone. Multiple sources to verify are important
  • So many people are cremated these days that we cannot often locate the place of scattering. A frustration for genies
  • Be very imaginative with your spelling. The search engine isn’t very intuitive. I discovered that many names starting with Mc have a space between the Mc and the rest. Eg, my McClure ancestors are listed as Mc Clure. I drop the prefix altogether and find I get much better results in most cases. Eg: Search Clure only or search Kilda instead of St Kilda
  • We need to apply the same rules that we apply for all searches.
  • Do other people use funeral director’s records? They can offer more info and also take you beyond the closure period on BDM.
  •  Best trick EVER to read old Gravestones given by a stone carver! PART 1 youtu.be/dyGlVWvGZbs  This guy’s voice! But he’s right about the mirror.
  • Can also read the inscription aloud and record your voice on your smart phone
  • Yes, whenever I visit a graveyard or cemetery, I photo all the headstones in my ancestor’s plot and post on FindAGrave. It doesn’t take much time and if it helps someone with #Genealogy, I’m paying it forward in thanks for what others have posted in the past!


Headstone of William and Caroline Chandler, my great great grandparents. Note flower on top – William was a gardener.


Q3 mentioned scary or funny happenings while you have been at a cemetery

Fran: Nothing exciting ever happens to me at graveyards or cemeteries. I have stayed at one when visiting an Aunt and Uncle. My Uncle worked at the Taita Cemetery and had a home with the job. Perhaps this is why I am not frightened of them from playing there

Pauleen: amusing (for me, not hubby)> standing on the bonnet of the hire car to climb over the metal spikey fence at Bodyke cemetery, Co Clare. Tore my trousers but not me 😉

Sharn: I fell into an old dry grave once. It was not a nice feeling!

Liz: A couple of times I have found family graves just by walking around the old fashioned way with no knowledge of the location of a grave. Was I being guided in some way ??

Seonaid: Many have tales to tell of meeting unexpected characters in Symonds St Cemetery – see links below in cemetery list

Sandra: A few close-enough encounters with snakes, spiders and webs. Once I was engrossed in writing something down and looked up and noticed I was surrounded by a group of kangaroos

Sharn: Scary experience for others while my husband was restoring the headstone at Cooroy Cemetery. being a very hot day, and with no one around, my husband striped to his undies to do the work and suddenly a funeral procession arrived….

Pauleen: scary..a bit. The rabbit that burst out of its burrow under a semi-fallen gravestone in Bothkennar kirkyard in Stirlingshire.

Sylvia: Walked into churchyard in Wiltshire & saw a family surname on headstone very close to church door. Took photo & it turned out to be brides sister & witness of my 2xg grandparents wedding

Brooke: Not actually in a cemetery, but someone mentioned scattering ashes, which reminded me of the time I was helping with a service at the beach. Dad & I took the ashes & wreath out past the break. The wind blew old Frank’s ashes all over us as we scattered him.😱

Q4 was any unusual or dramatic gravestones discovered





Cemeteries mentioned

New Zealand



Posts about cemeteries or headstones

Jill also has a website with many small cemeteries around Australia listed including links to them.

Seonaid wrote about headstones at Symonds Street, Auckland.

Merron has written about cemeteries in the Western district of Victoria.

Carmel has written about remote cemeteries not on Google maps.

Carmel has started a geneameme relating to cemeteries. Find out about it in this post.

Readers: What do you enjoy about cemeteries? Where is your favourite one?

Have a brickwall? Some hints for solving …

Many genealogists are on Twitter and recently a new twitter chat has started called ANZAncestryTime  As you might assume, this is for those of us in Australia and New Zealand, but we have had others from around the world join us in our two chats that have been run so far. We also have a website relating to the chat.

This week, the topic was


Here are the questions and some of the replies that might help you in solving brickwalls in your family history.

Q1 Do you have any Brickwall Ancestors?

Virtually everyone on the chat could mention at least one ancestor who is a brickwall from parents through to ggggrandparents. Many were Irish brickwalls, or not being able to find how the ancestor got to Australia/New Zealand. Others were relating to illegitimacy in generations or incorrect paper trail or oral histories. Changes of name to get away from a situation or bigamous marriages.

But Fran @travelgenee said

I don’t usually think of any ancestors as brick walls. Just that I have not got around to exhausting the research possibilities yet.

Then Sandra @Samellco21 said

All my ancestors are from Prussia, Germany Poland so they all feel like brick walls at times

Mandy @sciencegirl_NZ said

I have one major brick wall that I’ve not been able to push through for 20 years. An ancestor born around 1750, perhaps in USA/Canada/Scotland/Ireland. Possibly John/Jean/Johann. McLean or possibly McNeil. I’ve run down so many possibilities.

Jane @chapja said

Yes a number of brick walls largely because of lack of available documentary evidence … gradually making some headway drawing on DNA evidence

Q2 What are some of the causes of Brickwalls in family history?

  • Bad research habits probably do not help. Going down rabbit holes, not using a research log, not planning the research – from Fran
  • Duplication of names in an area, making it hard to distinguish who you are looking for. Lack of records. Brick-wall is too far back for DNA to be useful – Fiona @fiona_memories
  • Poor handwriting leading to not so good indexing – Shauna @HicksShauna
  • Researcher inadequacy – I have it in full measure – Jill @geniaus
  • In my cases it’s either names missing from records, or common names in a big city – Alona @LoneTester
  • Getting locked into a thought process and not jumping the wall. Records which cease at a relatively early stage – Pauleen @cassmob
  • Not being able to verify if records actually relate to your person, incorrect oral history leading down the wrong trail(s) – Sue @tasteach
  • Thinking you have the correct person but you don’t. 2 people with the same name and birth date. Also illegitimacy and deciphering handwriting – Sandra
  • We do need to beware of falling into the name and place trap as if there might only have been one person possible. Good tip! – Pauleen
  • Lack of record availability, mistranscription,  lies. Some records just got destroyed years ago or have deteriorated – Hilary @Genemeet
  • sometimes unexpected behaviour gives you a brickwall that isn’t really there as you don’t have the substantive evidence to verify families moving across countries or the globe – and then you find they did – Ruth @ruthjots
  • My brickwall is gg grandfather, Conrad Deihl arrived NZ c1842. Of German origins. Where to start? No clues on any BDMs – Catherine @CathyClarke77
  • There are even a few ancestors I believe are taking steps to hide from me – I find the record but the key section is illegible or is missing completely – Dara @DaraMcgivern

There was quite a bit of discussion about rabbit holes – information that leads you astray. But often these can help with the social history of the area where your brickwall might live, or lead you to maps and perhaps employment opportunities in the town giving clues as to why someone may have left the area.

But Fran said

Problem with the rabbit holes for me is that I find something interesting in my Ipad and are not all set up to document and source. Then I can’t find it later.

Then a great discussion from this comment by Maggie @iwikiwichick

My ancestors’ complete disregard for their descendants… They could have left me more hints. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Jill then mentioned

We need to seek help to overcome our inadequacies – learn, learn, learn.

Q3 What strategies do you use to break down Brickwalls?

  • Put them aside for another day when I can look at them with a fresh eye. Revisit, revisit, revisit – Jill
  • Timelines to see what is missing and whether some record could actually fit in the timeline – Sue
  • Timelines… lots of timelines showing the interactions between multiple family members as they may give clues to your brick-walls. I even wrote a guide to creating them – Fiona
  • Still waiting to knock down those brickwalls. But patience and coffee are both a necessity – Alona
  • Planning, for me is probably the best way to actually advance my research. Problem is that it is so enjoyable to do random google searches to see what you can find – Fran
  • Increasingly sharing the problem amongst expert colleagues as used to be putting into a drawer for years… – Ruth
  • Checking out lateral lines to gain more clues eg witnesses at marriages of siblings – Sue
  • Researching siblings can often open up a lead to knocking down a brickwall – Jennifer @Jennifer_Jones0
  • My main strategy now is genetic genealogy, and the more matches I identify the more successful the strategy becomes. So, I’m making some progress on my mother’s line, but my Dad’s, where no known cousins will test, is falling behind – Dara
  • Leave it and come back later when new records become available online – Hilary
  • Also making sure that you have checked every piece of documentation that you have or could have.. ie buy the birth certificates of siblings etc. Look for potential wider family in the area. Who else was on the ship from the area/country – Fiona
  • Try thinking outside the box how would it have sounded given any local accent – Hilary
  • Searching across states, looking at all branches/descendants of the family, DNA testing. Using Grenham’s surname distribution maps for Ireland – Pauleen
  • Process of elimination, tracking all possibilities, thinking laterally, looking at the wider community (FAN network) – Maggie (Family, Associates, Neighbours =FAN)
  • Making a surname variant list can help and when you find a newspaper article check how the OCR-ing has transcribed the typed name, to add to your variant list – Fiona
  • Recheck regularly the information you already have. I always seem to miss some little vital detail. Also researching extended family and neighbours can help – Sandra
  • With DNA matches for brickwall person, make connections to them via email, Facebook, blog etc and work together, your brickwall might be a known person to them – Sue
  • Writing a blog post about the brick wall can help and others make useful suggestions too – Shauna
  • Trove has been a major source of info helping me to trace ancestors movements within Australia – Jo @jobee_71
  • Providing a solid base for building backwards by building across and forwards to connect DNA matches and include collateral lines – Jane
  • Think who is the best person to do a DNA test to help with your research – Hilary
  • Test all the senior citizens in your family before it’s too late – Jill
  • DNA has helped me confirm my Aus and NZ connections when used in conjunction with traditional research methods – Sylvia @Historylady2013

Final word from Jill on this question

Strut your stuff – don’t hide your ancestors in the closet – make them visible so cousins can find you

Q4 Has DNA ever helped you to knock down Brickwalls?

  • Without DNA we probably would have never found Stephen’s father. Descendants in USA helped us track back to Ireland and locate the family member that migrated to NZ – Fran
  • DNA has found new cousins and reunited lost ones. It has proved my aboriginal line – Jill
  • Lots of connections made using DNA and disproving paper trails and oral history on my dad’s side, on mum’s side DNA=paper trail – Sue
  • DNA helped me find out who my g grandfather was – Sharn @SharnWhite
  • Yes. I now know who my paternal grandfather was. No more missing branch – Sandra
  • Not as yet but hope to reveal more about a GG Grandfather – an English line of my family with few known relations – Ruth
  • My mother has a DNA match to a bunch of siblings whose family is limited to Wexford, and it’s a decent match, not down to tiny fragments. But the documents run out and we haven’t yet made the link despite years of trying – Pauleen
  • Not so much a brick wall, but it proved a relationship that some people certainly questioned – Alona
  • DNA has helped identify an ancestor’s missing siblings. Hoping it will identify some wayward fathers (and a mother) – Maggie
  • Yes, led me to the right Andrew Thomson in Lanarkshire. Now if I could just work out if he died in Australia or went back to Scotland (or let’s face it, just about anywhere else in the world) – Fiona
  • Not at all but that’s my fault. I really haven’t done anything with my DNA results. Also my family won’t get tested as they’re suspicious of DNA, even the younger ones – Jennifer
  • Just last month I confirmed the maiden name of my GGG-grandmother through DNA matches, and an Australian marriage and death cert. – Dara
  • Yes DNA has helped me too. I’ve broken through a couple of big walls by combining with paper trail – Sally @SallyBloomfiel7

A few hints about DNA tools to use

My favourite DNA tools are clusters, and chromosome mapping to see who matches who – Seonaid @genebrarian

I build my DNA matches trees on my computer. I mark each link so I can see who goes back to whom. Make sure the trees are correct – Margaret @MargLBailey

I like creating those quick and dirty trees using DNA matches and their trees, then using Jonny Perl’s WATO tool to hypothesize where dad fits – Sue

We need to start a campaign so everyone who did an Ancestry DNA test uploads to a site that will allow to do our chromosome mapping – so powerful – Jill

I’m using DNA tools like DNA painter and Ancestry’s colour coding to help knock down brick walls – Sharn

Not done enough testing yet but hoping to get 2 uncles to do Y DNA to help with missing father and uncertainty – Hilary

my new DNA match helped me find an error today – Hilary

The last five minutes of the chat related to a lot of tips about brickwalls

  • I found a missing ancestor through a google book search – Sharn
  • My tip is never give up – keep reviewing it every so often – Shauna
  • Local histories often contain information about families – Sharn
  • Chill. Don’t get too worked up. Put them aside for another day – there is plenty more research you can do – Jill
  • Persevere, keep records of research, think around the brickwall, get tested for DNA, connect with other relatives – Sue
  • Blogging is a great way to find information when people contact you. And social media – Sharn
  • Ask the hard question? We all talk about how great interviewing collecting from older relatives. Once they are comfortable then ask the hard questions. You will be surprised how much they will spill the beans – Fran
  • Don’t forget you can always share your Brick Wall with BrickWallBusters on Brick Wall Hour @BWBHour run by @DanielGenealogy

Final word is from Carmel @crgalvin

Don’t become a brick wall for your descendants, write, film and record.

Readers: What are some of your hints for breaking down brickwalls?

I’m confused!

Anemone123 / Pixabay

Who is my Charlotte Bryant, my great great great grandmother? 

Known records in Tasmania – click on the links to see the actual documents

  • 1855:  Charlotte age 51, a widow and cook (page 203-204) departed London on 1 October 1855 on the ship La Hogue then transferred to the steamer Tasmania in Sydney and finally arrived in Hobart Town on 19 January 1856 with daughter Caroline aged 17.  There was also a ticket for a Charles Bryant but this was crossed out. They were brought out on the application of R. W. Nutt and costing £22 per person.
  • 1856: Less than a year later, Charlotte had an application for her daughter Esther Julia and her husband Robert George Winter as well as his parents to come to Tasmania. They left London on 7 October 1856 on the ship Woodcote and arrived in Hobart Town on 29 December 1856. Cost was £32 per couple. Did Charlotte pay for this or did the immigrants?
  • 1859: Daughter Caroline married William Chandler a gardener age 24 at St Georges, Battery Point on 22 October 1859. One of the witnesses was R.G. Winter – Caroline’s brother-in-law.
  • 1863: Charlotte is the informant on her grandson William Charles Chandler’s birth on 18 February 1863. Charlotte’s address is Government Gardens as her son-in-law William Chandler is now working as a gardener at Government House.
  • 1865: Charlotte is the informant on her grandson Robert Henry Chandler’s birth on 11 March 1865. Charlotte’s address is Government Domain.
  • Between 1865 and 1877 other children are born to the couple and the informant is always Caroline Chandler at Government House.
  • 1883: Charlotte died in Tasmania on 1 May, 1883 aged 78. She was a widow and died from decay of nature. She died at 41 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, the residence of her son-in-law, Robert Winter, who owned a piano forte manufacturing company.

So, why am I confused? 

Now I start to look at the records back in England. Naturally the first one to look for would be the 1851 census where Charlotte should be about 47 years old and Caroline about 13. Esther might be there too, depending upon when she married Robert Winter.  From the arrival information in Tasmania, Charlotte was born in Sussex.

So in the 1851 census the following people are found living at 41 Barclay Street which must be nearly opposite St Pancras Gardens and the St Pancras Old Church in Somers Town.

  • Charlotte Bryant – head – unmarried – 46 years old – dressmaker – Sussex, Arundel
  • Julia Bryant – daughter – unmarried – 23 years old – house servant – Middlesex, St Pancras
  • Henry Bryant – son – unmarried – 18 years old – jeweller – Middlesex, St Pancras
  • Caroline Bryant – daughter – 12 years old – scholar – Middlesex, St Pancras
  • Charles Bryant – son – 7 years old – scholar – Middlesex, St Pancras

But this Charlotte is unmarried and a dressmaker not a widow and cook as mentioned in her arrival information. But she does have children Julia, Caroline and Charles who we know of from Tasmanian records.

About a kilometre away is another Charlotte Bryant – an unmarried servant – cook aged 50 born in London living in Charlotte Street, St Pancras area now Fitzrovia.

Next is the marriage of Esther Julia Bryant and Robert George Winter in 1852 at St Pancras. Caroline Bryant is a witness. Esther’s father is Henry and is a surgeon. Esther and Robert are living at Barclay Street when they got married.

In October 1851, Henry Bryant is married to Matilda Webb – father is Henry and is a surgeon. Henry is full age and they were married in parish church St Saviours, Southwark. A witness was Ann Drewett.

Going back 10 years to the 1841 census we find living in Tottenham Place, Marylebone.

  • Charlotte Bryant age 35 – not born in the county
  • Henry Bryant age 9 – born in the county
  • Caroline Bryant 3 – born in the county
  • Emily Bryant 1 – born in the county

Still no husband mentioned but on the bottom of the previous page of the census is H Weight age 35, surgeon who was born in the county. Could this be the father of the children?

Could Charlotte’s maiden name actually be Bryant?

Looking for my John Davey

Back in 1990, after 10 years of teaching full time, I earned the right to Long Service Leave so took off for three months around the world. West coast America to see Disneyland and the canyons, Alaska to fly above the Arctic Circle and visit an inuit town, Europe to see the large towns and famous buildings like Eiffel Tower and Leaning tower of Pisa, sail in the Greek islands, travel down the Nile and climb in the Pyramid of Giza but most of all visit the country of my ancestors Great Britain.

Very little was digitized at this time, many records were on microfilm or in original records. So I spent a few days at the Devon Archives when they were located in the middle of Exeter. I was trying to find out who my John Davey was, where he came from, who were his parents and siblings. I stayed in a B&B in Clyst Honiton.

What did I know about John Davey before I left?

  • John was my great great grandfather who married Annie Dixon in 1859. He was 26, she was 18. Until his death in 1888, they raised seven sons and five daughters to adulthood. They lived in English Town, near Evandale, Tasmania
  • John was born in Devon, England. He was brought out to Tasmania as a farm servant to George Meredith on the East Coast of Tasmania.  John was Church of England and could read and write. He arrived in Hobart Town aged 20 on 13 February 1855 on board ‘Wanderer‘.  John was occasionally mentioned in the ‘Meredith papers’ which are housed in the State Library Archives in Hobart.  He was recorded last at ‘Cambria‘ in January 1857.  His wages at this time were 7 pounds and 10 shillings per quarter.

By the time I had finished my research at the Devon Archives, I had the feeling that my John Davey was born in Coffinswell in 1836. In fact, I started with a list of 50 John Davey born around 1835 in Devon and by the end of my research was down to 7 possibilities but the most likely being the one born in Coffinswell. I added this to my tree on Ancestry and of course, it has now been copied by many relatives onto their trees.

I now know better than to do this.

Since that trip to England 30 years ago, I have been to New Zealand to visit cousins there – one of John Davey’s daughters married and moved to New Zealand. She had a birthday book which she handed down through her family so I asked the current owner if they could send me any names relating to the Davey surname.

One of these was John Davey born 21 January 1834. Could I assume this was my John Davey? But the Coffinswell John Davey was born in 1836? How to prove who was my real John Davey?

Thirty years have now passed

If only I had checked those John Davy (note different spelling) births in Devon, I would have made an immediate hit but instead it has taken me 30 years until a match in mum’s DNA linked back to a person who had an ancestor Luke Davy in Devon. How was this Luke Davy related to my John Davey?

They were siblings. So mum and her DNA match named Ivor are 3rd cousins sharing 99cM across 5 segments.

This John Davy was born  21 January 1834 in Clyst Honiton, Devon, England. He was one of  12 children born to John and Mary Anne Davy nee Jennings in Heavitree area of Devon, England.

My reminder from this is to search all probable spellings of a surname. Sometimes my John was a Davey other times a Davy.

Readers: Have you made a mistake with a person on your tree? How did you go about fixing it?

Using LivingDNA

Because my ethnicity is basically British and Irish, I thought it would be interesting to find out exactly where in these countries my ancestors came from.

Here are the top results for my parents, my brother and myself. I had to pay extra to get the results for my parents and brother as they hadn’t tested with LivingDNA, instead I uploaded their raw data from Ancestry instead.


  • North Yorkshire 15.5%
  • Northern Ireland and SW Scotland 14.9%
  • Cumbria 13.2%
  • Devon 11.6%
  • South Central England 10.7%
  • South East England 9.5%
  • South England 8.6%

Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Somerset (South Central England)

Kent, Sussex, Essex (South East England)

Hampshire, Dorset (South England)


  • Devon 29.8%
  • Ireland 24.8%
  • South Central England 11.9%
  • South England 11.5%
  • Northumbria 8%

The rest are 3% or lower including Orkney and Shetland Islands at 1.5%


  • South East England 20.6%
  • Ireland 17.2%
  • Northern Ireland and SW Scotland 15.1%
  • Central England 12.5%
  • North Yorkshire 9%
  • Northumbria 7.1%
  • South Central England 7%

But Devon only 1.8% and Orkney Shetland 1.7%


  • Devon 32.8%
  • Northern Ireland and SW Scotland 13.5%
  • Northwest England 12.8%
  • Ireland 6.3%
  • Lincolnshire 6.3%
  • Northumbria 6%

So looking at these results:

  • I got the Devon genes from dad while Philip got the Irish genes.
  • Philip got the North Yorkshire genes from mum while I got the Devon genes.
  • Interesting the difference one generation can make with all the movement in England and Ireland.

We also have shared matches now on LivingDNA.

Mum  274,  Dad 179,  Philip 218 ,  Sue 209

So another job for me to do is work out where these matches connect within our family. The LivingDNA website is gradually adding other useful tools and will be great once you can add to a tree and look at a chromosome browser to triangulate matches.

Readers: Have you uploaded your raw DNA to this website? It is especially useful if you have a lot of British heritage and have paid the fee to unlock the county ethnicity.