Part of the worldwide genealogy/family history community


FamNet eNewsletter June 2014

ISSN 2253-4040


Quote: Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. Mark Twain. (This quote reminded us of a conversation that was on a Rootsweb list recently about wrong genealogy information)


Editorial 2

From the Developer 2

Dropbox. 2

DNA Testing for Family History. 2

Colleen’s Corner 3

Useful Websites. 8

From Colleen. 9

From Sue. 10

Group News. 11

Whangarei Family History Computer Group. 11

News and Views. 12

Keeping Your Computer Running Smoothly and Making Sure You’re Safe. 13

Book Review.. 16

Community. 16

Ask an Expert 16

Help Offered. 17

Information Wanted etc. 18

Have Your Say – Letters to the Editor 18

In conclusion. 19

A Bit of Light Relief 19

Advertising with FamNet 19

To Unsubscribe. 19

Copyright (Waiver) 20



From Colleen Sherman-Williams

This month I have focused on new genealogy data available for New Zealanders.  I hope you find them of use. If you know of any other information on searchable data please share with the readers of this newsletter.

Sue has put together a very interesting computer maintenance article which you should all heed.  I am an IT Technician and following these points in her article may stop a lot of heartache and expense.  In 30 years I have never had a problem with any of my computers, by following a few simple maintenance rules.  Being an IT Technician helps.  I hope you all do backups and have a good internet security systems.  It would be heart breaking losing all your genealogical data.

Of course keeping it on FamNet means you can never lose it.  This is just another reason (for a small price of $30.00) a year where your records are safe and sound.  A small price to pay for years of research.

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From the Developer

From Robert Barnes


With three of us – Colleen, Sue, and me – now involved in producing the newsletter we found we had to change the way that we were working together. Sue and I used to communicate by phone and email, but with three of us this was proving almost impossible.  Who had the current version? How do we correct a typo?  All this became much more difficult with three. Heaven help us if we were to bring another into the editorial team.

Then Sue discovered DropBox.  DropBox is like adding a shared folder, somewhere that we can all access objects like the draft newsletter.  We all downloaded DropBox from, and also NotifyBox ( ) and I created a DropBox account for FamNet and gave access to this to Colleen and Sue.  Now we simply access the DropBox FamNet folder and can click on the draft newsletter, make changes to it, and save it. This is as easy as working with a local folder, with the one difference that when we open it we are asked “Do you want to check this out” by NotifyBox, and so we can’t update it while somebody else is doing so. However if we have to, we can all work on the document at the same time and save it with different names and reconcile the detail differences later.  We actually have our own local copies, which Dropbox keeps up to date, so it is possible to work on DropBox documents while you are not on line.

DropBox is essential (in my view) if you want to work collaboratively with others, or if you have several devices (PC, Tablet, phone) and you want some documents to be available on all of them.  Like many software products there is a free version, which will manage one folder, and a not-free version that will manage any number of sub-folders. For us, so far the free version is proving quite adequate. It’s odd that you need to download the separate product NotifyBox as to me this seems an essential function, but that’s free.

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DNA Testing for Family History

© Gail Riddell 2014

Part 4.  What a DNA test will NOT tell you and the associated risks of testing


This is the 4th in a series of 12 articles by Gail Riddell (a popular and renowned DNA presenter in New Zealand) on the subject of DNA testing for genealogy purposes.  For further information, please contact her directly at


In the third article for the FamNet newsletter, I described in very basic terms the types of tests that are currently available by some firms.  In this article, I intend to give you an overview of the risks associated with testing your DNA and what you will not discover as result of testing.

The primary thing to understand is that you must focus on what it is you want from any DNA testing, no matter which firm you may choose.  For example, if you want your paternal ancestry, there is no sense in testing a female.   Nor is there sense in testing a male unless the connection to your common ancestor is through both your and his direct paternal line (irrespective of the surname).  Another example is that you may wish to learn of the deep ancestry of either or both of your direct lines (whether maternal or paternal).  Similarly if you are seeking the geographical origins of your ancestors, you must take the appropriate test.  Say you choose the cheapest appropriate test on offer, you will be disappointed if the forgoing is what you seek.  (The very cheap tests are available for specific reasons although this is not what the publicity machines would have you believe).

A DNA test for genealogy will not tell you the name of an ancestor, nor where that ancestor was born.  Should you strike a very close Y DNA match (as an example) at the higher testing levels (more on these ‘testing levels’ shortly), sometimes we can give you an approximate birth date of the common ancestor of the two testers concerned but the accuracy of that birth date given will depend on many things.  Each situation is assessed on a case-by-case basis.  This is because no two human beings are the same – not even identical twins.

Although the above may sound complex and somewhat negative, it is aimed at getting you to really focus on what is wanted and to avoid unnecessary waste of money –with its accompanying disappointment.

DNA testing for genealogy purposes will not give you medical outcomes, although one firm will give you health reports setting out your sensitive genes (as well as genealogy) to particular health issues.  Some are those large issues include such as the various known cancers and range downwards to your eye colouring and blood type etc.  The “scary” reports such as the cancers or Parkinson or Alzheimer etc. are behind a “lock” which you are free to ignore or to open.  This particular firm will only give you the statistics of what has been located in your genes associated with the likelihood that your physical body will succumb to that particular event.  (By way of interest, my blood type; my hair colouring and degree of curliness; eye colouring; my skin tone; etc. was correctly identified.  In addition, being a curious person, I chose to look at the reports of the serious maladies – these had an associated age frame attached, although I accept not all testers wish to learn of these things). 

DNA testing for genealogy purposes is not forensic testing – the areas considered within the chromosomes that are used specifically for forensics or for medical diagnosis are not considered  for genealogy (in spite of my comment above regarding “health”.  The concentration on the specific areas contained within the human genome examines different to those considered for genealogy).

Nor is DNA testing for genealogy a paternity test.  I have lost sight of the numbers of men who simply refuse to test because they were a little er, ah, um, wayward in their youth.  They have this vision of a dozen persons camping on their front lawn all crying “Daddy”. 

Such a situation cannot happen.  But what can happen is that the male tester may discover they match another male who possesses a differing surname, yet possesses an identical haplotype.  (A haplotype is the unique Y-STR marker results pertaining to that tested individual – see the next article for the newsletter).  Should this happen, there is still no way that the two testers can be stated as being a father and a son.  Certainly the strong possibility exists but it is far from conclusive.

Although the physical test itself by being non-invasive and holds no physical risk whatsoever, it is the outcome of the test that may pose a mental or emotional risk.  Some of these are mentioned in this list, but it is not exhaustive:-

1.      The name of one, or both, persons named on your birth certificate as your parents is incorrect.  There are many reasons for this.  Usually it is a function of social stigma, but just as often it is a case of an adoption and for which the authorities have taken it upon themselves to obscure the true parentage.

2.      The mother, for her own reasons, has elected to withhold the name of the biological father.  This could have taken place recently or it may have taken place in another century.

3.      If your parents have emigrated from another country, it can depend on whether they went through a civil upheaval possibly leaving a widower with small children or more often, leaving a widow with a quandary as to housing and feeding her wee’uns and willing to take up with any male who offered her same.  Those children will have grown up thinking the adults were their parents and used their names on any later certification. 

4.      A more serious, although an extremely rare situation, is that a “male” does not possess a Y chromosome.  Alternatively, a female possesses a Y chromosome when she should have 2 X chromosomes.  I have also heard of the times when a female possesses both 2 X plus a Y and similarly a male.  Such an event is beyond the ability I possess.

5.      You have spent untold hours and money gathering your family tree and are feeling very comfortable with your accomplishments and choose to prove that you are indeed related to whosoever that your research indicates, and accordingly get the correct person to test to the correct level – only to discover your research has been in vain.  “What to do”?  Obviously your first reaction will be to think that the DNA is wrong and your results have been muddled.  Let me say at the outset that this “muddling” has almost a zero chance of occurring!  Nevertheless, it would be a natural human reaction and every one of us in this situation will run this risk!  So the answer is, if you do not want to know the truth, then do NOT test your DNA for genealogical purposes.

In the next (and 5th) article, I shall go into greater depth on the direct paternal line.  The 6th article will consider the direct maternal line and the 7th will be the autosomal line.

Colleen’s Corner

This month I have made a feature of the most up-to-date New Zealand related web sites for your New Zealand research. Some of the sites include Australia and other countries. I find these quite exciting as in my own research I have some brick walls and found skeletons in various closets!!  I have found there are some surprises which I have found through newspaper articles, New Zealand Historic Newspapers 1839-1945] which offers free viewing.

Did you know a judge could enforce a woman to resume conjugal rights in a marriage In the 1930s? How a judge sitting with a wig on is going to enforce this in someone's bedroom beggars belief.  This happened to my grandfather and the news gave my mother a shock, when she heard. How embarrassing it must have been to have for my grandfather’s private details to be published in a major newspaper.  He must have been desperate to take the matter to court. This gives you a general idea what rather shocking information you can find in a newspaper. By the way, they got divorced, when they were both 19.  She abandoned both my mother at birth and her elder son.

Most Recent Genealogy Records for New Zealand

Below is a list and description of the most recent genealogy records for New-Zealand.  Some of these records can be searched using a free Genealogy Search Engine


National – has added an additional 3.7million indexed records of New Zealand passenger records to their existing collection. These passenger lists cover the years from 1839 to 1973. This collection includes both inbound and outbound passengers at various ports in New Zealand and covers the peak migration period of the 1870s. A form of identification was required by all passengers before they were allowed to embark on the ship so these records tend to be fairly accurate (notwithstanding the usual spelling errors and typos of the ship officers who were responsible for handwriting the names into the registers). These records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [New Zealand Ship Passenger Records]

National – The National Archives of Australia and the New Zealand Archives have joined forces to create a new website called Discovering Anzacs. The objective is to create a profile of every Anzac who enlisted in World War I complete with their service record. People can also contribute their own personal family stories and photographs as well as help transcribe war diaries and service records.  Access is free. [Discovering Anzacs]

National – has put online a new collection of some 113,000 names from the registers of medical practitioners and nurses from New Zealand. This collection covers the years from 1882 to 1933. The collection can be searched by name and location. A typical listing gives the name of the individual, their qualifications and their location. This list covers physicians, surgeons, nurses and midwives. Access is by subscription. [Historic New Zealand Medical Practitioners]

National – New Zealand has launched their commemorative website devoted to remembering the events of World War One. It is full of excellent information concerning New Zealand’s involvement in the war, including the incredible fact that 10% of the country’s population at the time was serving overseas. If you have New Zealand ancestors, this is a website that you will want to bookmark and return to on a regular basis. Access is free. [New Zealand World War One Website]


National – Ancestry has updated their database of New Zealand city and area directories. Ancestry does not provide any details on the update, but the database now contains some 6.9 million names. City directories are one of the best ways to search for ancestors because they can help identify where a person lived at a particular time. City directories often serve as a substitute census record and can also help fill in the gaps between two censuses. Access to this collection is by subscription. [New Zealand City Directories]

National - has indexed an additional 2.7 million immigration records for New Zealand. These are ship passenger lists from 1855 to 1973. These records can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [New Zealand Ship Passenger Lists]


New Zealand – has added some New Zealand local histories to their online collections. These are essentially historical books containing information of interest to genealogists. Included in the new collection are the Cyclopedia of New Zealand (1897 to 1906) and the New Zealand Registered Ships and Owners (1840 to 1950). The link provides a complete list of the new books. Access is by subscription. [New Zealand Local Histories]

National – has just added another 56 million genealogical records covering Australia and New Zealand. This brings the total for the website to over 135 million records. The records consist primarily of census records, land records and survey records in addition to the usual birth, marriage and death records. Access is by subscription or pay-as-you-go. [Australian and New Zealand Genealogy Records] We feel compelled to mention that the Genealogy Search Engine also has just as many Australian and New Zealand genealogy records and it is free.

National – Magazine has added 400 million new records to their two free search engines. The Genealogy Search Engine (which covers ancestral records) now searches an additional 100 million more records, while the Family Tree Search Engine (which covers genealogy forums and online family trees) searches approximately 300 million more records.

In total, the two search engines now cover 5.7 billion records across more than 1,000 different websites (split between the Genealogy Search Engine covering 1.9 billion records and the Family Tree Search Engine covering 3.8 billion records – there is no overlap of records between the two search engines).

GenealogyInTime Magazine now gets over 40,000 queries per month for the two search engines. This makes them one of the most popular alternatives to the FamilySearch website for people wanting to look for free ancestral records. Significant holdings exist for the United States, Canada, England/Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Continental Europe, Australia and New Zealand with minor holdings for the Caribbean, South America and South Africa.

Some of the highlights of the latest addition to the Engine include:

• 23 million new records for England, Ireland and Scotland. These are primarily twentieth century obituaries.

• 2 million more ship passenger records.

In this latest release, the search routines for both search engines have also been strengthened to provide better results. In addition, the number of returned records for a search query has been increased from 8 pages to 10 pages. Finally, results are delivered even faster than before.

Access to both search engines is free and the underlying records are also free. [Genealogy Search Engine] [Family Tree Search Engine] GenealogyInTime Magazine also has a number of genealogy articles to help you become better at online genealogy searches.

National – has added an additional 384,000 images from probate cases from the Archives of New Zealand. The collection is now comprised of some 743,000 images that can be browsed by district and then name. The probate cases span the years 1878 to 1960. Most of the records are handwritten wills and affidavits (see image below). Access is free. [Historic New Zealand Probate Records]

1885 New Zealand will

A good example of a New Zealand will from 1885.

National – has added 366,000 searchable records of New Zealand immigration passenger lists. These lists span the years 1855 to 1973. Most of the records are for passengers arriving from the British Isles, although there are some records from Western Europe, Asia and Polynesia. The records are basically the ship’s list of passengers that was prepared at time of departure and then handed to New Zealand authorities upon arrival.

A typical record lists the ship, date of arrival, port of arrival as well as the name, occupation and country of origin of the passenger. Since these handwritten records were prepared by the shipping companies (instead of government officials trained in neat handwriting), they can sometimes be hard to read. Alternatively the records can also be browed by port of arrival. Access is free. [Historic New Zealand Passenger Lists]


National – FamilySearch has significantly increased their New Zealand probate record collection. These are digital records from local courts throughout New Zealand for the period 1878 to 1960. The collection now covers some 143,000 images. This collection comes from the Archives of New Zealand website, which you can search to find the probate file number associated with a name. You then use this probate file number to find the appropriate images in the FamilySearch collection. Access is free. [New Zealand Probate Records]

Commonwealth - has published details on the 880,000 soldiers who received Silver War Badges (SWB) in World War I. These were small, circular badges made of silver, with the king’s initials, a crown and the inscription ‘For King and Empire’ and ‘Services Rendered’ (see image below). They were granted to soldiers who had been honourably discharged from the war due to wounds or illness.

World War I Silver War Badge

The SWB was intended to be worn with civilian cloths (it was forbidden to be worn on a military uniform). The SWB was given to discharged soldiers to prevent them being accosted by women with white feathers (a symbol of cowardice), which were presented to able-bodied men on the home front who were not wearing a uniform. This collection includes SWBs given to soldiers across the Commonwealth. A typical record lists name, rank, regiment number, unit, date of enlistment, date of discharge and reason for discharge. Many service records from World War I were lost. If you suspect this may have happened with your ancestor, then you should check this collection. Sometimes, the SWB record is the only record of military service that survived the Great War. Access is by subscription. [Silver War Badge Service Records]

Commonwealth – has added about 1.3 million military records from various Commonwealth countries. The records date from the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899 to 1902) and World War I (1914 to 1918). Include are the following collections: lists of the men and women who fought during the Second Anglo-Boer war; Commonwealth soldiers who died in WWI; Royal Navy officer’s medal role (1914 to 1920) and New Zealand World War I male and female service personnel. Access is by subscription [Commonwealth World War I Military Records]

National – has launched a major new collection for New Zealand that spans 20 million family history records. The six components to the collection include the New Zealand Electoral Rolls (1853-1981), Canterbury Provincial Rolls (1868-1874), Jury Lists (1842-1862), Mãori Voter Rolls (1908 & 1919), Mãori Land Claims (1858-1980) and New Zealand Naturalisations (1843-1981). Most of the records come from Anne Bromell, who spent many years preserving and converting important New Zealand genealogy records to microfilm. The electoral rolls in particular serve as a good substitute for census records for anyone who has experienced difficulty tracing their New Zealand ancestors. Access is by subscription. [Historic New Zealand Electoral Rolls]

National – FamilySearch has added 144,500 new records from immigration passenger lists dating from 1839 to 1973. Access is free. [Historic New Zealand Passenger Lists]

2010 July to December

National – FamilySearch has beefed up their immigration passenger list collection, with over 450,000 new records added for the period 1871 to 1915. Access is free. [New Zealand Passenger Lists 1871-1915]

National – Papers Past, the New Zealand National Library’s website of historic newspapers has added eight more historic New Zealand newspapers to its online collection. This brings the total collection to 61 publications spanning the years 1839 to 1945. The more than one million pages of digitized newspapers are from all regions of New Zealand. Papers Past has also enhanced its search capabilities, including the new ability to perform complex Boolean searches (using AND & OR operators). As well, a new zoom feature is available that allows a higher magnification look at page images. Access is free. [New Zealand Historic Newspapers 1839-1945]

National – A collaboration between Archives New Zealand and Family Search has resulted in some 300,000 pages of New Zealand maritime immigration records going online over the next couple of months. These are essentially passenger manifesto lists going back into the 1800s. Typical data includes passenger name, ship name, arrival date and port of arrival. About 10% of these immigration records have already been put online and the balance will be completed by the end of 2010. This is big news for anyone with New Zealand ancestors. One of the most difficult challenges for New Zealand genealogists has always been to determine when ancestors actually arrived in New Zealand. Now an extensive list is available for the first time. [New Zealand Maritime Immigration Records]

New Zealand – The New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) has just released three major new sets of genealogy records. The record sets are available for sale by CD. The first CD combines the electoral rolls of 1881 (120,000 names), 1893 (300,000 names) and 1896 (330,000 names) into one searchable database. The database is linked to copies of electoral maps from the period and the database can be searched by name and year. The second CD lists (non-Maori) landowners in New Zealand in October 1882. This is a searchable PDF list giving the names, addresses and occupations of freehold landowners. The third CD is a compilation of obituaries that appeared in the Wellington Evening Post from 1929 to 1977. Each CD can be purchased separately. The NZGS also sells other useful CDs, such as an index listing 1.7 million people who were married between 1856 and 1956. [New Zealand Historic Electoral Rolls and Historic Wellington Obituaries]

2010 January to June

National – FamilySearch has updated their New Zealand immigration passenger lists from 1871 to 1915. Access is free. [New Zealand Immigration Passenger Lists 1871-1915]


National: The National Library of New Zealand has added several more digitized newspapers to its online collection called Papers Past. The site has now digitized 52 New Zealand newspapers containing over 14 million articles. Access is free. [free Historic New Zealand Newspapers]

National: The New Zealand government has launched a web site to search 11 million historical birth, death, marriage and civil union records. Birth and death records are available from 1848 and marriage records from 1854. Mãori marriage records are available from at least 1911 and birth & death records from at least 1913. Births must have occurred at least 100 years ago, deaths at least 50 years ago and marriages at least 80 years ago. People wanting access to more recent records must provide proof of identity and apply by fax, mail or in person. Access is by pay-per-record. [Historic New Zealand Birth, Marriage, Death Records 1848-present]

Retired Websites announced in a blog post this week that they were rationalizing their product offerings. Several of their websites will be discontinued and some of their DNA tests will also no longer be available. We have all the details.

In a blog post of 4 June 2014, Ancestry announced the following websites would be “retired” (shutdown) effective September 2014:

• [a social network website for families]

• [a website to order family photo books and calendars]

• [a family tree website]

• [one of the oldest and largest genealogy websites]

In addition, Ancestry will no longer be offering their Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, but will continue to offer their AncestryDNA test.

If you are a subscriber to any of these websites/services, Ancestry will be contacting you directly with details on how to transition any information you may have created on these platforms.

Many people may not be familiar with MyFamily, MyCanvas and Mundia, which is a major reason why Ancestry shut them down. The company has decided instead to focus on their core offering, which is providing ancestral records. is a bit different. As discussed in the article Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2014, is the ninth largest genealogy website in the world. Ancestry acquired it from A&E Networks in 2003 when A&E decided to get out of the genealogy business. Ancestry never really did much with the website. This is evident by the very dated website interface, as shown below.

Useful Websites

If you know of websites that you think may be helpful to others please email The Editor

To find FamNet’s Useful Websites page: either

· Click the [Community] tab on FamNet’s home page. Click the button [Useful Web Sites]. Or

· Click the [General Resource Databases] tab on FamNet’s home page. Locate “Useful Web Sites” in the list of “Other Tables” and click this link.

From Colleen

Thames (NZ): 'The Treasury' Opens their Doors to 'Gold Card' Holders

'Gold Card' holders have struck gold at The Thames. A new initiative has been introduced at The Treasury research facilities at Thames. Gold card holders are welcome to come, free of charge, and read any of the material held in the Reading Room.

This is to give older members of the community the opportunity to come and enjoy the growing numbers of books and articles that are available. All you need to do is show your gold card and admittance is free during opening hours, should any research be required, then normal entrance charges apply.  

Maybe you would like to read the WWI collection of books and manuscripts? Some of the family history or centennial/reunion books from all around the Coromandel Peninsula and greater Thames Valley area?


Blogtrottr Creates a Custom Email Newsletter from Any Web Site

Blogtrottr Creates a Custom Email Newsletter from Any Web Site

Keeping up to date with your favourite web sites can be tough. Blogtrottr converts your favourite sites into a scheduled email newsletter that you receive as often as you want, so you can stay on top of all the news.

To get started, just head to Blogtrottr and enter a web site's RSS feed (like the Lifehacker feed) and provide the email address the newsletter should be sent to, and then indicate how frequently you want to receive emails. With options ranging from every 2 hours to twice a day, you have a lot of options. You'll need to confirm the use of your email address, but then you can just sit back and wait for the news to arrive in your inbox.

If you'd like a little more control over the process, hit the Plans link at the top of the page to sign up for an account. There's a free ad-supported plan as well as paid-for options, and you can manage all of your feed from the My Subscriptions page. To access more advanced options, click the name of a feed you've added and check the "Filter enabled" box to get alerts for specific types of content. Try it out at the link below.

Blogtrttr | via AddictiveTips

From Sue

Three Pivotal Mistakes Genealogists Make

Michael J. Leclerc's Genealogy News

This was worth entering and is something we should all read.  Genealogists are no more immune from making mistakes than anyone involved in any other pastime. With practice, we can move past many of them. But even experienced genealogists can fall into bad practices. These are three major mistakes (all avoidable) that genealogists commonly make. Watch out for them!

Some interesting snippets from the Lost Cousins newsletter: -

Surrey Land Tax records go online. Ancestry have added nearly 2 million names taken from Land Tax records for the county of Surrey which date from 1780-1832 - you can search them here.

Other Surrey records added recently include 200,000 names from lists of Jury-qualified Freeholders and Copyholders covering the period 1696-1824, and - perhaps more interesting - nearly 65,000 Licensed Victuallers from 1785-1903. Ancestry is pay to view.

Merchant Seamen & Royal Naval Reserve. have added two indexes previously only available at the National Archives website: the first is to records of over 100,000 medals awarded to merchant seamen who served during World War 2 - you can search them here.

The second index is to the service records of over 130,000 members of the Royal Naval Reserve - you'll find it here

Note: these are just indexes - images of the records themselves are currently only available through the National Archives site, at a cost of £3.30 each. The main advantage in having these indexes at Ancestry as well as at the National Archives is that it makes them more readily accessible.

Soldiers' wills at Scotlandspeople. Scotlandspeople have this week made available the wills of 26,000 Scottish soldiers who served in the Great War - for example on the right (image courtesy of the National Records of Scotland) you can see the will of Andrew Cox.

Andrew Cox was the uncle of Dundee-born actor Brian Cox CBE. The eighth child of Hugh Cox, a dock worker, and his wife Elizabeth he was a rope-worker before the war, and possibly also a reservist, as he was with the 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, soon after the outbreak of war.

On 14 September 1914, around the time Andrew embarked for France, he made his will in favour of his mother, as many unmarried soldiers did. This meant Elizabeth Cox would receive his pay, a pension, and any savings and personal property. 

On or before 18 March 1915 he was killed at the age of 22 in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle - but as so often happened, his body was never identified. 

Scotlandspeople also has the wills of about 5,000 Scots who served in World War 2, and a small number for those who fought in the Korean War or took part in other operations between 1857-1964. It's free to search the wills, but it will cost you 10 credits or £2.50 to view a will.

Convict Pardons Added to New South Wales Database. The 140,000 records in the New South Wales Convict Database now include 20,000 entries relating to pardons. You can search the free index here.

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Group News

Whangarei Family History Computer Group

image001 Contacts: 

 Gloria: (022) 635 4161

 Wayne: (09) 437 2881

 Pat: (09) 437 0692


Thursday evening venue is 6 Augusta Place, Whau Valley. Call Wayne, Gloria or me or;

email me at, if you need directions. **NB new Thursday venue

Saturday meetings are held in the SeniorNet rooms in James Street.

The rooms are upstairs in the Arcade leading to Orr’s Pharmacy and Tiffany’s Café, Start time 9.30 til finished before 1.30pm.


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News and Views

From the National Archives England

The unit war diaries (record series WO 95) represent one of the most popular collections held by The National Archives. War diaries were kept for two main reasons:

  • to provide an accurate record of operations for preparing the official history of the war
  • to collect information that would help make improvements in preparing the army for war

What the diaries contain

For researchers and family historians, the war diaries contain a wealth of information of far greater interest than the army could ever have predicted. They provide unrivalled insight into daily events on the front line, and are full of fascinating detail about the decisions that were made and the activities that resulted from them. War diaries are still kept by the armed services to this day, and historical war diaries such as these are still referred to.

The war diaries are arranged by operational theatre (front) first, then by GHQ, then Army, then Corps, then division, then by the units within each division. They cover the entire period of the unit's involvement in the war, from their arrival on the front to their departure at the end of the war.

The war diaries include details of the unit's activities, often on a daily basis. While not personal diaries, they do often refer to individuals and in some cases offer personal insights into life (and inevitably death) on the front line.

What we have digitised

We have digitised around 1.5 million pages of war diaries so far, and will be releasing them throughout this year as part of First World War 100, our centenary programme. Digitising the most popular segment of one of most popular record series will allow researchers around the world to access the diaries, and has given us the opportunity to embark on a hugely exciting crowd sourcing project, Operation War Diary.

What's available online

We've published the unit war diaries for the cavalry divisions and a number of infantry divisions online (catalogue references WO 95/1096 to WO 95/1226, and WO 95/1227 to WO 95/3154 inclusive). They cover the entire period of the units’ involvement in the war, from their arrival on the front to their departure at the end of the war.

Some diaries unavailable in the reading rooms

This digitisation project means that diaries from the following piece ranges will be unavailable in the reading rooms for a short period of time in the next few months:

  • WO 95/1 to WO 95/571 (inclusive)
  • WO 95/3949 to WO 95/4193 (inclusive)
  • WO 95/5500

We will try to minimise the amount of time that diaries are unavailable for and will publish a more detailed schedule online soon, including the dates of document availability – if you are planning a visit to our reading rooms to view original war diaries listed in these ranges, please check in advance whether they will be available.


Keeping Your Computer Running Smoothly and Making Sure You’re Safe.

By following the simple steps below, you will be able to make your computer faster at opening programs and browsing the web -- and safer to use.

1. Back up all your important files before you start cleaning your PC or Mac, back up all your important files, notably documents, photos, camcorder footage, emails, address book entries, and so on. You can upload files to a cloud-based service such as Carbonite, Mozy, and SoS Back-up.

2. Clean up your desktop and hard drive, decide which programs you don't need, and delete them. If you use Windows, go to Control Panel, and choose Add/Remove programs. If you have a Mac, open LaunchPad and drag and drop an app icon into Trash. PC users should also right mouse-click on their C: drive and choose Properties, followed by Disk Cleanup. Mac users should go to Finder to remove files.

3. Take advantage of built-in system tools take advantage of built-in software to your computer and optimise performance. For example, Windows has a defragmentation tool that can help your computer run faster and better. In Windows 8, you can find the tool by searching 'defragmentation' under Files.

If you have an old version of Windows, go to Accessories (under Program Files) and select System Tools. Run the Disk Defragmenter on your hard drive, but be patient as defragging can take a long time, hours in some cases. Don't use your PC for anything else in the meantime.

Obviously the older your computer, and the more programs you have, the longer your start-up time will be. One great way to accelerate your start-up is to keep unnecessary programs from starting up. You can do this by running MSConfig.

Built into Windows, MSConfig is a tool that troubleshoots the Windows start-up process. It can disable and re-enable software, device drives and Windows services that run at start-up, and can change boot parameters.

4. Update your operating system and other software It’s also important to download the latest software updates for your operating system. Called "Windows Update" for Windows and "Software Update" for Macs, these updates provide security fixes, eliminate malware and enhance functionality. Remember Microsoft no longer support XP.

5. Install anti-malware software. It’s vital to install good antivirus and anti-spyware programs. Antivirus program detect and remove threats, such as viruses or worms. Anti-spyware software protects your computer from malicious programs that hide on your hard drive, track your web surfing activities, hijack your browser, and slow down your computer's performance.

Make Sure Your Virus Definitions Are Up-to-date! Running a virus scan on your computer with outdated definitions is about as useful as not running one at all. So, make sure your virus definitions are up-to-date. Virus definitions contain information that allows your computer to identify and remove all the latest viruses from your computer. If your definitions are outdated, the program will miss newer viruses which will leave your computer vulnerable to attack even if the results of the scan come up clean.

Should You Worry About Browser Cookies?

Mostly, you should not worry about browser cookies. They are harmless text files that do not contain viruses or malware, and cannot infect or control your computer.

A browser cookie -- also known as a web cookie or HTTP cookie -- is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in your browser, while you are browsing a site. Whenever you load that site, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the website of the user's previous activity.

Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember shopping cart information and to record a user's browsing activity. Cookies can also store passwords and form content a user has previously entered, such as a credit card number or an address. When a user accesses a website with a cookie function for the first time, a cookie is sent from a server to the browser and stored with the browser in the local computer. Later, when that user goes back to the same website, the website will recognize the user because of the stored cookie with the user's information.

However, tracking cookies, especially third-party ones, are frequently used to compile long-term records of individuals' browsing histories -- a privacy concern that affects all of us.

A story in the New York Times last year, noted "Over two dozen privacy laws have passed this year in more than 10 states, in places as different as Oklahoma and California. Many lawmakers say that news reports of widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency have led to more support for the bills among constituents. And, in some cases, the state lawmakers say, they have felt compelled to act because of the stalemate in Washington on legislation to strengthen privacy laws."

California, for example, passed a law requiring companies to tell consumers whether they abide by 'do not track' signals on web browsers.

"But, stiff lobbying efforts were able to stop a so-called right to know bill proposed in California this year that stood to hurt the online industry. The bill would have required any business that "retains a customer's personal information" to share a copy of that information at the customer's request, as well as disclose which third parties have received the information. The practice of sharing customer data is central to digital advertising and to the large Internet companies that rely on advertising revenue." (Note the above links relate to American law)

Bottom-line: if you are worried by the information that cookies collect, you can delete them regularly. However, blocking cookies is not recommended, as you will find that most websites won't work!

What Should You Do If Your Email Account Has Been Hacked?

Just the thought of getting our email account hacked is enough to put most of us into a seriously dark mood. "They'll find out so much about you, get the email addresses of all your friends and relatives, and on and on."

But, if you get hacked, don't dwell on the negatives for too long. The sooner you take some simple actions, the better.

Here are four steps you should consider:

1. Get into your email account ASAP and change your password. Log onto the website of your email provider and change your password. Make sure the new one is long and strong. Use a mixture of upper and lower cases, numbers, punctuation marks, and symbols. Don't use real words or family names. The longer and more complex you make the password, the harder it will be for a hacker to break it. This should be done at least three or more times a year not just when you have been hacked.

2. Check all your online accounts. If you use your email account and the same password as the username and password for online accounts -- such as Amazon or Facebook or your banking -- you will have to change those accounts also. Next, check your inbox and trash for any password reset emails from all accounts linked to your email address -- looking for reset requests that you did not make.

3. Find out if your friends or contacts have received spam-like emails from 'you'. Some hackers use email accounts in order to attack the friends or contacts of the person they have hacked. So, whoever hacked your account may use your email address to send spam or phishing emails trying to trick them into buying something, revealing personal information, and so on.

4. Make sure you can access your email on all your devices. Finally, make sure you can access your email in all your usual places, such as Outlook and Mac Mail, on your phone, tablet, and desktop. You will have to swap your compromised password on each device with your new one.

Keep Your Banking Safe. If you get an unexpected email from your bank it is a hoax. Do not click on any links, if you do, do not put in any details. If you have done the unthinkable contact your bank by phone straight away. If you want to email your back, use your bank’s on-line Secure Message facility.

Junk Mail. If you receive anything, whether it is via email or in the post stating you have won money, press the delete button or use the post to light the fire because that is all it is good for. Recently on the news there have been reports of elderly people sending cheques away or sending bankcard details only to find they have been ripped off for thousands of dollars. If they state you have won, or your email address has won millions then if it sounds too good to be true then it is too good to be true.

Those Pesky Phone Calls. For some time I was getting those pesky phone calls telling me my Windows computer had been compromised. If you can’t tell them to go away then just hang up or tell them you don’t have a computer or you don’t use Windows they will hang up. Also if you get a phone call from someone saying they are a computer IT person and heard you were having some problems with your computer they will help you over the phone. Hang up, they are trying to fool you into thinking there is a problem with your computer.

There are many sites out there that can help you with any information on all sorts of tech stuff. One I recently subscribed to is  well worth it. This article is from this site

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Book Review

Review by Colleen Sherman-Williams

“At Home” By Bill Bryson ISBN: 978-1-877517-96-9

I have never read a Bill Bryson book before.  He writes in an entertaining, stimulating manner which makes history seem so much fun. 

The Author purchased a new home which is featured on the cover of the book and continues from room to room telling the history of each room.  By history I mean he goes back in time to the beginning of kitchens, bathrooms etc.

“Open your refrigerator door and you summon forth more light than the total amount enjoyed by most households in the 18th century.  The world at night for much of history was a very dark place indeed”. 

“The phone.  The only way to know if someone was trying to get through to you was to pick up the phone from time to time to see if anyone was there”.

“A breakfast recorded by the Duke of Wellington consisted of three pigeons; three beef steaks; three parts of a bottle of mozelle; a glass of champagne and a glass of brandy”.

“It really is extraordinary how long it took people to achieve even the most elemental levels of comfort.  There was one good reason for it:  Life was tough”.

“At the bottom of the heap were the laundry maids, who were so lowly that often they were kept almost entirely out of sight.  Laundry duty was so despised that in larger households servants were sometimes sent to the laundry as punishment.  It was an exhausting job.  In a good sized country house laundry staff could easily deal with six or seven hundred separate items of clothing, towels and bed linen each week. Because there were no detergents before the 1850s most laundry loads had to be soaked in soapy water or lye for hours, then pounded and scrubbed with vigour, boiled for an hour or more, rinsed repeatedly, wrung out by hand (after 1950) fed through a roller”.

This book is full of fascinating facts; old photos of the authors private collection and pages of artwork.

If you have never tried to read this type of book before I urge you to read it (especially the illustrated edition). I thoroughly recommend it. Whitcoulls have 50% off all their books at the time of writing.


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Ask an Expert


Question. Do you know where I can find a list of Merchant seaman/seaman who might have 'jumped ship' and stayed in NZ in the Canterbury region i.e. Lyttleton between 1920 -1925.


Answer. Have you tried Papers Past on the National Library web site? There may be mention of him there.

From an Anonymous Member

Question.  I have a wonderful collection of early New Zealand History books.  While browsing through one of them I came across a letter written by the son of the first Archbishop of New Zealand.  The letter is dated 1846 and covers 6 pages of writing and drawings.  The set of two books sent to his father were called “THE LIFE AND EPISCOPATE OF G.A. SELWYN DD VOLUMES I AND II” in honour of Captain Cook’s voyage to New Zealand.  The author of the letter describes his trip from New Zealand to Tonga describing his voyage and his experiences with the natives. There are many drawings of his voyage and describes the life in a village including the chief.

These books and letter are extremely rare.  My question, is should they belong in a museum or, should I sell to a private collector or, just keep the books myself and pass them down the family?

The letter is in pristine condition.  I am in a conundrum as to what I should do with these treasures.  They really are of national interest.  I have started transcribing the letter. I haven’t had time to finish transcribing the letter as it is very difficult to read.  You can see below I have missed about three words which I just cannot read, but I thought I did quite well regardless.



Tonga Tabu Epiphany 1848


My Dearest Father,

If you have not forgotten your reading of Cook’s voyages you will have a clear idea of my present position.  At the request of the Governor of New Zealand, seconded by my own strong inclinations, I took my voyage in H.M. ship DIDO, Captain Maxwell on a course to some of the Islands in the South Seas.  Lest you should think I have gone out of the range of my own duty, I must tell you that the Archbishop of Canterbury in his valedictory letter to be commended to my article the Esopref Christianity throughout the coasts and Islands of the Pacific; and a charge, and the troubles of New Zealand which has hitherto ….evented me on attempting me to fulfil peace to be happily restored and so favourable an opportunity being offered I embarked on board this ship 23rd December. Captain Maxwell, son of Sir Murray M, most kindly gave me a place in his cabin where I enjoy a degree of comfort and luxury …… not known in the FLYING FISH and KINDINE.  After a slight N.S.gale which we met soon after leaving New Zealand and fell in with the trade wind from the S.E.and on the tenth day came in sight of land (Evoa) within 8 miles of Tonga tabu.  On the 3rd of January on a bright sparkling trade wind we sailed between the coral reefs of Tonga tabu advancing? The white line of foam dividing the deep blue water ocean from the sea green lagoon within.  With a labyrinth of small islands on our right hand, and coconuts of Tonga on the left.

a native pilot conducted us into the bar boun which whom practiced the local Tonga dialect having studied it during the voyage.  But I found it is too difficult from the New Zealand dialect but Indicilly the same it will take me a longer time than we are likely to stay before I am able to speak it fluently; When the ship was anchored we were surrounded by a fleet of small canoes with the well-known “Coqui   “ of supplies of Bananas, Coconuts, Breadfruit and yams.  On landing the next morning we met on the beach met by Mr Thomas. The senior member of the Wesleyan Bishop…… who has spent 20 years in the Friendly Islands.  He led us through the shady islands of coconut plantations and neat fences wattled with reeds to his own home a ratur building formed of the leaves of the coconut tied together with string made of the husk.  In the village around us the buoy sound of wooden mallets beating out a native cloth giving out a life and spirit to the village although 2 other houses our people could be seen.

The above is just one small section of the six page letter.

I don’t want these treasures sitting on a dusty shelf in a museum forgotten with thousands of other pieces.

I would rather stay anonymous to owning these treasures but you can contact the editor if you have any thoughts on what they should do with it.

By the way, the book’s text is available on line here.

Help Offered

Do you own reference books at home and would be happy to do lookups for members? Or are you willing to visit cemeteries, archives, etc. for others? Simply click here and add a record into the “Information Offered” table: we’ll put a note in the next newsletter, and at any time FamNet users can look up this table and make contact with you.

Like “Useful Web Sites”, we believe that a combination newsletter/table approach is needed. The newsletter can give you an instant “aha” and if it happens to coincide with your need it’s perfect, but you also need the table so that you can look up the list later long after you’ve forgotten which newsletter mentioned the subject that you needed help with.

Information Wanted etc.

Remember that you can post photos for identification, and information wanted requests:-

Click here to post a photo

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We’ll post the photos and information requests in the next newsletter, and they’ll remain on display for at least a year.

There were no new photos at the time of sending the newsletter.

Have Your Say – Letters to the Editor

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In conclusion

A Bit of Light Relief

An old one but a good one.


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