Accentuate the positive: 2014

Happy New Year!

Once again Jill Ball at GeniAus has inspired us to look back on the positive things that have happened in our genealogy journeys during the year that’s gone. I took part in the previous two and find it an uplifting experience.

Here’s my positive genealogy year 2014:

An elusive ancestor I found was

The Jones family, 1841 census

The Jones family, 1841 census

Jenkin JONES, born about 1791 in Llandysul, Cardiaganshire (now Ceredigion). Otherwise known as Jinkin Jones (1841 census) or Jenkins Jones. And probably lurking in the records as Jenkin Johns, somewhere. He’s one of my 3x great grandfathers, on my father’s mother’s side.

An ancestor’s grave I found was

not an ancestor’s grave. It belonged to someone with the right name, Sarah DAVIES, same as my Welsh grandmother’s mother. It was in the right place, the graveyard of the little chapel where many of my family members are buried. She’d even lived in the right house, the 1881 Wales census shows.

But she was the wrong person, and it took finding this headstone to bring me the sudden revelation that either this Sarah Davies had two husbands (my great grandfather, Rhys LLOYD, and William James) or I’d been pursuing someone who is possibly a relative, but not an ancestor. Curses! But also yay! Because now I could stop wasting time on her and find the right Sarah Davies.

An important vital record I found was

John and Elizabeth's marriage

John and Elizabeth’s marriage

The record of the marriage of Elizabeth JONES to John LLOYD (Rhys’s father), which, with the 1841 census record I mentioned, helped me to get on the right track for my Jones ancestors. There are also two witnesses who may provide leads.

Looking for a Jones in Wales? Needle, haystack?

A newly found family member shared

Her excitement at contacting relatives descended from Nicholas DELANEY by starting up a Facebook group for us cousins. It was great to meet some new rellies as well as catching up with the ones I’d met on my own page. Thanks, Cat!

A geneasurprise I received was

Finding out that my HARRINGTON ancestors (Rebecca, Thomas and Julia) from Hackney in East London were involved in what became a Victorian scandal, commented on around the world and mentioned in Parliament. I’m writing a series of posts about the whole story at the moment. Warning: will contain scenes of a gory nature.

My 2014 blog post that I was particularly proud of was

Introducing the Shoestring Genealogist, a new idea for my blog. I know I’m not the only genealogist who has trouble finding the extra cash for my pash. And I love passing on good news and helpful tips – the genealogy community thrives on collaborating and sharing, after all.

So I started a series of occasional posts to let people know about any offers going: cut-price subscriptions, freebies, that sort of thing. I don’t grudge paying for sites like Ancestry and Findmypast; it’s just that without special offers I wouldn’t be able to justify subscribing. Not when bills are so high (looking at the radiator, which I’m snuggled up next to).

It was a new development which gave me a boost just when I needed it, and I hope it’s helpful for other people as well.

My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was

Sarah Simpson's grave. Photo by Michael Wood

Sarah Marshall’s grave (Michael Wood)

The one about discovering that my 3x great grandmother, convict Sarah MARSHALL (or Simpson), is supposed to haunt Castlereagh General Cemetery near Penrith in New South Wales.

Her grave was vandalised in May this year, along with many others in the cemetery. This horrifying incident rightly hit the headlines and social media and the vandals were caught. Apart from the damage they caused, this was appalling behaviour and no way to treat our ancestors.

Our much-missed Aussie genealogist friend, the late Catherine Crout-Habel, was passionate about protecting ancestral graves. Her daughter is carrying on her blog, and her memory. Thanks, Kirrily.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was

Twitter. I love the fact that I can whizz through tweets and see what’s going on, though the ‘new’ Twitter is bulkier, with its emphasis on images.

Time’s short at the moment, so I appreciate being able to see what my top tweeps are up to in a few minutes. Though it’s easy to spend hours playing researching there…

In fact I like it so much I wrote a post about it over on the Worldwide Genealogy blog. I did enjoy making the Twitter bird’s family tree!

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was

Who Do You Think You Are? Live. It was a chance to put faces to names as well as to learn. Education and fun – perfect.

A great repository/archive/library I visited was

Look! All those books!

Look! All those books! CC, stevecadman


The British Library in London. This year I went to an exhibition on the Georgians, which was enlightening as well as fun. I’ve been learning a lot about the eighteenth century this year, which is why…

 A new history book I enjoyed was

Behind Closed Doors, by Amanda Vickery. I love social history and finding out about everyday life in my ancestors’ days, and Amanda’s book is meticulously researched as well as entertaining.

I’m also hugely enjoying Jerry White’s London in the Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing. They’re both big reads, but crammed with treasures from the archives. Real treats for social historians.

It was exciting to finally meet

Two Aussie geneabloggers I’ve enjoyed talking to online: Helen Smith, of From Helen V Smith’s Keyboard, and Rosemary Kopittke. I met them at Who Do You Think You Are? Live at Olympia in London. Aussie mates won’t be surprised that this was at the Unlock the Past stand, where I also chatted to Alan Phillips and was tickled to learn that he’s Alona Tester‘s dad.

I also went to a seminar by Cassie Mercer of Inside History fame. She had to hurry off so we didn’t get the chance to chat, but it was great to meet her at last. Cassie encouraged me and my mum greatly when we were starting out in online genealogy.

What a day!

Another positive I would like to share is

That although I’ve had less time for genealogy this year, thanks to my lovely new job and also taking my creative writing a step further, I’ve made some big steps and laid the groundwork for future research when I’ve more time.

And the brilliant genealogy community is thriving out there, full of friendship, facts and fun. So here’s to 2015, and here’s to the people who never forget lang syne!


About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.
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10 Responses to Accentuate the positive: 2014

  1. cassmob says:

    Sounds like you had a great genealogy year Frances. All the best for 2015. I enjoyed your Twitter post which I missed at the time since I was away.


  2. GeniAus says:

    Thanks fo this enthusiastic post and for your support. I hope that we can get to meet “in the flesh” when I am next over your way. I’ll post a list or geneameme responses over at GeniAus in the next few days.


  3. luvviealex says:

    What a great year it has been indeed for you. I love your layout and style for this response as well as the content. What is your lovely new job? I feel I have missed out on some important news.


    • rebelhand says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Alex! I’m working for the NHS, setting up a departmental website and intranet as well as other communications like a video and publications… it’s all fascinating and I’m working with inspiring people.


  4. Alona Tester says:

    You’ve had a great year, and I truly hope it translates into an even better 2015. We will get to meet in person one day, somewhere. Attending a WDYTYA Live is still on my bucket list, but not in 2015, as it’s RootsTech and a geneacruise for me this year!


    • rebelhand says:

      I’m sure we’ll meet, Alona. You’ll get to WDYTYA Live one year, I’m sure – in the meantime enjoy your consolation prizes this year 😉

      I look forward to reading about your experiences.


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