Tonight’s twitterchat for #ANZAncestryTime was about helping to solve brickwalls.
Many participants had written blogposts or biographies on wikitree including the information known about their person who is a brickwall.
- Sue: Where did William Jackson go? – Irish convict
- Pauleen: Who was James Sherry?
- Jennifer: Breaking through brickwalls – included many walls
- Maree: John Harkins – Irish; Timothy Cronin – Irish
- KerriAnne: 11 American brickwalls
Other participants gave us details so we could help solve them
Sharn: I have traced my Campbell ancestors back to Neil Campbell and Christian Buchanan who had children 1761-1773 in Callender Perthshire but I can’t find a marriage or their births
Margaret: It is my father’s family that is so difficult. For his maternal gmother wikitree.com/wiki/McKinnon-…, we know her father is John. We assume her mother is Isabella from Naming Pattern, possibly Jamison. NO PROOF.
Alex: I had a go at crafting a more focused research question this afternoon. Here it is. Where and when did Robert Forfar die. He married Lucy Swait on 30 Jan 1842 at St James Westminster London UK and had a son George born 23 Oct 1848 and baptised Bannockburn? Lucy Forfar nee Swait died a widow in 1866. I surmise that Robert died some time between 1861 and 1866 as he was paying for George to go to school in Ealing in 1861. Did he die in England? Did he die in Scotland? Did he die somewhere else entirely? Robert was described as a mason on George’s marriage certificate. His family were weavers in Scotland. Forfar as a name presents a whole bunch of problems – spelling and that it is a place name as well. I need to keep rigorous records of my searches.
Kerri-Anne: I’m grateful for how much I know but I’d like to find out more information on my convicts in England Scotland Ireland – Thomas Power Jean MacDonald James Bradley Sarah Barnes Mary Parker Charles Watson Waters Ann Daley Richard Hicks Margaret Howe
Sharn: My g g g grandmother was Mary Williams said to be born in Singleton NSW c 1840 to parents named as Joseph Williams and Mary Kelly. I can’t find this couple or Mary’s birth
Sharn: Would really love to know what became of my g g g uncle Lawrence Frayne, convict who left a wonderful diary from his time on Norfolk Island after he received a Cert of Freedom in 1846
Margaret: I found most of the family for my 2xggfather William Dickson – again DNA matches and lots of research. Now I have to find his parents’ siblings – and his wife – and their missing children.
Hilary: I partially broke a brickwall when I discovered who my 3xgt grandmother married then found a DNA match with her descendants from that marriage My ancestor was illegitimate so I need to confirm the father with another DNA match
KerrieAnne: I am trying to find the origins of my direct maternal line ancestry from Ann MacLean to Robertson and further back – mt dna suggests Viking origins which is no surprise as she was from the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides
Tara: I think of them as learning opportunities and, as 3/4 of my ancestry is Irish, I’ve multiple 19C brick walls. The other 1/4 are English/Welsh origins and I can take most lines back quite far although my Welsh 3GGM is a challenge of her own
Jennifer: My 2x great grandparents John Taylor & Martha Lloyd are my brickwall. They arrived in Aust betw September 1841 and October 1842. They don’t appear on any passenger list. I’ve searched Taylor, Tailor, Tyler
KerrieAnne: Brickwalls – my husband’s direct paternal line challenge – finding Edward Tiearney & Catherine Colligan in Ireland before their emigration to US. Done ydna & got a good match but no real progress to go further back in Connacht Ireland, probably around Carracastle
Claire: my brickwall is probably not solvable. Can’t find marriage of 2x g-grandparents who had 2 kids in 1880s Dublin. No death of man recorded but dead by 1901. I’ve checked every marriage of right names countrywide church/civil & every death in Dublin from year before last kid born to 1901. Not helped by names involved: Reilly/Murphy
Sharn: I would love to know more about the family of my two convict brothers Michael and Lawrence Frayne both born in Dublin c 1809 and 1821 with children between
Suggestions of where to look for information
- Prison hulks for convicts
- Scottish kirk session on Scottish Indexes
- Colonial Secretary letters
- Occupation records such as Masons
- National library of Ireland parish registers
- Census records
- Newspaper and archives for British and Irish
Try more than one site for your records – GRO, FreeBMD, ScotlandsPeople. With a missing name, I look for another person – then you find the name is mistranscribed, and that’s why it hasn’t come up on the index.
I really think spelling is key. My New Year’s resolution is to write up lists of spelling variations for each surname I am researching and make sure my searches cover all and any more I find.
A tip for breaking down brick walls is to re-examine any certificates or other documents you have. You never know what you might have missed in the past
look at the names of witnesses as sometimes their surnames might be a clue to a real surname after a name change
I can’t join # but my Brick Wall tips are (1) Research all relatives; (2) Try neglected sources (bit.ly/3GkDiLv); (3) ’13 Tips to Try’ (tidd.ly/3I1yiwT); (4) ‘Break Through the 1837 Brick Wall’ (tidd.ly/3rHona5).