Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I was doing a lot of personal research on my convicts sent to Van Diemens Land. I was a member of many mailing lists and people around the world would ask for copies of their convicts’ records held at the Tasmanian archives in Murray Street. But back then, nothing was online. It meant going to the actual archives to look at microfilm and microfiche and then making copies on a printer. Many of these copies were on A3 paper that didn’t really hold the ink very well.
The main documents were:
- conduct record which included where tried, ship to Australia, offences in the colony and sometimes a description as well as other information
- indent record which included place tried, sentence, description and relatives in England
- description which included age, height, native place, colour of eyes, hair, tattoos etc
For those living in Australia, I only charged the cost for photocopying and the stamps to get to wherever I sent the documents. Most people would send me a five dollar set of stamps as payment. These helped when posting overseas.
One person from England asked me to look up her convict, and send her the paperwork to where she lived in Bedfordshire. I would help again at a later time to transcribe the records if the person was having trouble reading the writing and the format of the documents. But I felt half the fun of research is trying to work out what the document said by yourself first. She thanked me very much for all my help and said if ever I needed help researching in Bedfordshire then to get in contact with her.
At this time I was researching one of my convicts – Francis COLEGRAVE tried in Huntingdon Assizes in March 1832. He didn’t have an indent record, so no names of parents or siblings to work from. His conduct record did say he had a brother who had been transported too and that Francis had been in prison before. But where was Huntingdon? I had never heard of that as a town or county in England.
But to go any further back I would need to use parish records as his birth was prior to 1837. Very few of these were online at that stage. I searched A2A which was archive to archive in England, some other records from the National Archives England, but I needed help.
So my friend in Bedfordshire spent hours when she could researching the Colegrave family for me. She found prison records, parish church records, military records, tax records and finally this is where my line of Colgraves are at the moment.
- daughter of Phyllis England
- daughter of Hannah Davey
- daughter of Martha Colgrave
- daughter of Francis John Colgrave
- son of the convict Francis Colgrave
- son of Francis and Frances Colgrave nee Bourn in Thurleigh, Bedfordshire
- son of Samuel and Sarah Colgrave nee Pain
- son of Francis and Mary Colgrave nee Cooper
- son of Thomas and Rebecca Colgrave nee ???
- son of Thomas and Juditha Colgrave nee ???
- son of Thomas and Margaret Colgrave nee Pettitt
This fabulous researcher got me back to the birth of Thomas in 1602 and his wife Margaret in 1603. This is 11 generations back from me.
Having tested my mother’s DNA, we have found proven cousins back to Samuel and Sarah Colgrave nee Pain.
Readers: How many generations back is one of your ancestors? Must be proven through records though.