Monday, 24 September 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 38 - Unusual sources

For many years I had a brick wall in my family history research.
I could find information about my great x3 grandfather, George Mackillop (1790-1860) in a variety of sources including documents. Often the name, James Mackillop, also appeared in the same documents. I was certain that they were brothers but I needed proof. I also wanted to know the names of George's parents.

One day I decided to do some lateral research and instead of searching for information about George I decided to research James. I knew that, like George, he was a merchant in India in the 1800s so I decided to search British Newspaper Archive available online via some library websites for any references to James. Apart from references to where he lived and that he had made a great deal of money as a merchant I found articles mentioning that he was, at one time, a member of parliament.

A search in Google for "James Mackillop" member of parliament took me to the following post on the History of Parliament website. I had hit the jackpot.

The first information provided was that James Mackillop was the first son of John Mackillop and Mary who was the daughter of Robert Downie of Kilmadock, Perth. James was unmarried and died on 27 January 1870. In the following biography it was stated that George Mackillop was almost certainly his younger brother and that they both worked in India for a time in the firm where their uncle, also Robert Downie, was a partner. I knew from other sources about their association with the Downie family but it was only when I discovered their mother's connection to that family that it all made sense. Both James and George had travelled to India when young to work, initially, in the family business. They then made their own way as merchants.

This is an example of the benefits of researching other family members, not just the direct family line, and also looking at a wide range of sources that may provide a missing clue.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 37 - Closest to your birthday

In 2015 I wrote a post with the above title where I used Family Tree Maker to locate family members with a birth date close to mine. I found five family members with a birthday either side of my birthday - a cousin, John Smith, Mary Farley, James Roberts and Thomas Sutcliffe.

John Smith (1800-1885) was my great x3 grandfather. He was born on July 26 1800 in Marylebone, London and migrated to New South Wales in the 1850s. The other people with birthdays close to mine, apart from my cousin, were either great aunts or great uncles going back many generations.

However other coincidences in dates can be found when investigating families.

  • In my immediate family 27 is a significant number as three of us have birthdays on the 27th of different months.

  • When I was shown the baby book my mother-in-law kept when my husband was a baby I noticed that he was baptised in England on the day I was born in Australia.

  • Some years ago a meeting was arranged for us to meet the parents of my son's fiancee. As we enjoyed morning tea the discussion, not surprisingly, turned to weddings. However we were all surprised when we realised that both sets of parents had married on exactly the same day. Robin and I were married in the morning while Larry and Ann were married in the afternoon. Now that is a family coincidence.
It would be interesting, one day, to have time to do a study to locate other statistical idiosyncrasies.