One of my lasting memories of my career working in public libraries were the genealogy researchers. This was the late 1990s and as yet, most of the records had not been made available online. These people would spend hours going through microfiche of Births, Deaths and Marriages Indexes, Passenger Records and International Genealogical Indexes.
They would love to regale the library staff with stories of illegitimate relatives and their latest findings and were extremely focussed and passionate. Sadly, I now have one of these people at home and what’s worse, I am wholly to blame.
I found a box in the garden shed recently which had fallen over and spilled half the contents onto the shed floor. Suddenly irate that this box had been neglected since our move THREE YEARS AGO, I grabbed it, marched up the garden path and thrust it (quite forcefully) into his hands. I suggested that his time could be better spent sorting out his stuff, which, while too precious to chuck, he still could not be bothered looking at.
The box happened to have some old photos of his parents inside and a book written about his family. This was enough to pique his interest in knowing more about his family.
He is lucky to have had a number of relatives who have already undertaken a fair bit of the research and that now there are more international records available online, including forums, census records, and websites devoted to particular families and ships.
His mother’s family descended from crofters from the Isle of Skye, who came out to Australia in the 1850s and originally settled in Clunes, before moving down to Cobden. They were Presbyterian, except for his grandmother, who was descended from Irish Catholic convicts, transported in the 1830s for assault.
His father’s side are somewhat more colourful- so far he has managed to find 6 convicts, one of whom was 13 when she was transported in 1791 on the Third Fleet. His great-great-grandfather, another convict, was a Member of Parliament in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and struck it rich as a squatter, before the fortune dwindled due to land reform and the 1890s depression.
As Jenelle said in her own blog post, it is majorly addictive, but I know one day the project will finish and Mr BG will move onto other things. And I’ll have him back again.