Part of the worldwide genealogy/family history community

FamNet eNewsletter November 2018

  ISSN 2253-4040

Quote     "Life is like a yacht in the Caribbean.  It's alright if you've got one"   Graham Chapman


Editorial 1

Do you want to receive this newsletter every month?. 1

Regular Contributors. 1

From the Developer 1

The Nash Rambler 1

DNA Testing for Family History. 1

Jan’s Jottings. 1

Wairarapa Wandering. 1

Tracey’s Tales. 1

Digging Into Historical Records. 1

Chinese Corner 1

Guest Contributors. 1

Ken Morris. 1

From our Libraries and Museums. 1

Auckland Libraries. 1

Group News. 1

Whangarei Family History Computer Group. 1

Waikanae Family History Group. 1

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group. 1

News and Views. 1

Half or full…... 1

Cemeteries: Fearsome Places to Avoid or Fascinating places to Embrace?. 1

Women in Scotland: the poor and women’s health. 1

The secret language of death certificates. 1

Another Person’s Family Tree is Not a Valid Source. 1

Genealogical societies may learn from 61-year-old historical society’s demise. 1

Book Reviews. 1

Why the Dutch are Different 1

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. 1

In conclusion. 1

Help wanted. 1

Letters to the Editor 1

Advertising with FamNet 1

A Bit of Light Relief 1

To Unsubscribe, Change your Email Address, or Manage your Personal Information. 1



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Greetings and welcome to another issue of the FamNet newsletter.

I have had great pleasure assembling this newsletter.

In this edition you will notice that the news and views section is changed. The newsletter is getting too big and we need to place limits on it. So only two articles are produced in full and the others have a HTML which, when clicked, will take you to the article. This allows me to introduce more articles for your pleasure and consideration. It also overcomes another headache that has caused much heartburn and restless sleep - copyright.

I must confess to another addiction - that of reading genealogical and historical blogs and journals. I read a lot of them. They keep me up to date with developments as well as give me ideas for my column. Printed journals are expensive and some are plain boring particularly one of our competitors. I hope that when I get boring I will get told. It will happen but hopefully not yet. Please note that any communications of this nature will not make the section labelled Letters to the Editor. I can only take a little criticism.

Please enjoy this month's offering and my fingers are crossed that no communications intimating boredom arise.

Do you want to receive this newsletter every month?

This newsletter is free. There are not many free newsletters of this length in New Zealand. I am biased but it should be an interesting read.

To subscribe is easy too. Go onto the FAMNET website - don't misspell it as I have, twice already.

The front page is lovely, but click on [Newsletters].  A page opens showing you a list of all the past newsletters, you can click the link to read one that you’re interested in.

Like the front page, the newsletters page has a place where you can log on or register.   It’s in the top right-hand corner.  Put your email here and click [Continue].   If you aren’t already on our mailing list, there will be a message “Email not in database” and a button [New User] appears.  Click this and follow the dialog to register.  It’s free and easy.  You should receive a copy every month until you unsubscribe.

Robert has assured me that he will not send begging letters to your email - apparently, he has enough money at the moment. You will not have to put in your credit card number. You will not be charged a subscription.

Tell other genealogists so they can enjoy the newsletters too.


Peter Nash

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Regular Contributors

From the Developer

Spreading the Word

We’re keen to increase our readership as this brings more feedback, more ideas for articles, and makes this newsletter more useful to everybody.  And like every contributor to every publication, Peter and I want our words of dubious wisdom to be widely read, the wider the better.  So please forward this newsletter to friends, family, and anybody else that you think might be interested.  If this newsletter has been forwarded to you, please register so you start getting it directly, and forward it to more people.  As Peter says, it’s free, and we won’t be pestering you for a subscription.  Registration is a simple process, the only compulsory information is an email, everything else can be left as the default value if you like, although you might like to choose your own password, and give your name if you want us to address emails to you more sensibly.

Are you a member of a family history or similar group?  Just send a spreadsheet of emails to me ( and I’ll load these into our database.  You can’t send us your group’s membership list because of privacy concerns?  Circulate a blank list at meetings and ask anybody who wants to get our newsletter to add their emails – then it’s entirely voluntary.  Here’s a template that you can print out.  I will ask you if you want to become a Group Member, like Waikanae, Whangarei, and Waitara (it is not compulsory that your group name start with “W”), but I won’t keep pestering you for a group subscription.

If you or your group are connected with your local library, then would they be interested in publicising their family history activities, as Auckland Library does so regularly.  Like almost everything with FamNet, it’s free.

If FamNet is free, what’s this about a subscription?  What do you have to pay for?   Only one thing: to see other people’s records in the main Genealogy Database (GDB).  You can read newsletters, look up all the other databases, you can save your own family history in the GDB, all for free.  But we have to have something to bring in $$ to pay our costs, so we charge a small fee to give general access to the GDB.  Individuals can subscribe, or groups can subscribe in which case their members get subscriber-access to the GDB.  But subscriptions are strictly optional, and most of our members take advantage of our free offerings.

Changes to this Newsletter

There may be some changes to the format of this newsletter, particularly in the email that gets sent out which is normally the editorial and the table of contents.  This is not entirely voluntary.  I have a new computer.  Mostly it’s a big improvement: it’s much faster, it has huge amounts of solid-state disk, and the high-resolution screen is amazing. But while my data was all transferred without drama, all my software has to be re-installed.  Therein lies the problem: everything has changed.  Windows-7 to Windows 10, Office 2003 to Office 2019, Visual Studio 2014 to 2017, and so on.  And some of the software that I used previously can’t be installed on this computer, so I can’t continue to use FrontPage, a Windows 95-era program, to create the newsletter email.  I’m sure that I’ll find an alternative, but the email might look a little different.  As for the newsletter itself, as before we’re creating it with Word and using Save As Web page (Filtered).  Hopefully Word 2019 will produce something similar (or better) than Word 2003.   At the moment I’m at the “Who’s moved the cheese?” stage.  So much that I want to do is now done differently.  I’m getting used to it, and often it is actually better.  But often it’s just different, and I spend several minutes finding the option that used to be a click away.

My new high-resolution screen is amazing, but the text is now so small that I have to look at the newsletter with zoom in order to read it easily.  (My eyes aren’t as young as they used to be).  I wondered if we should increase the default font.  Our Normal style uses Arial 11pt, if we made it 12pt this might make the newsletter a bit easier to read.  However, it is very easy to set a zoom factor within your browser, and I’ve just discovered that if I do this for FamNet then it is used from then on for FamNet, but doesn’t affect other sites.  Since this has the advantage of fixing the problem for old newsletters also, this is what I’ll do.  If you’re having a similar issue, then set a zoom factor that works for you.  Zoom 125% works well for me.

Telling your story: Index

1.    Writing your story as notes, or with Word.  

2.    Embedding pictures in Word documents

3.    Saving Documents for Web Publication.

4.    Saving Scrapbook Items

5.    Sharing your Story: Managing your Family Group

6.    On Line Editing: More Facts, Family, GDB Links

7.    Comparing and Synchronising Records

8.    Producing and Using Charts

9.    Merging Trees.  Part 1:  Why Bother?

10.  Merging Trees.  Part 2:  Adding Records On-Line

11.  Merging Trees.  Part3.  Combining Existing Trees

12.  Finding Your Way Around FamNet (Getting Help)  

13.  FamNet – a Resource for your Grandchildren

14.  FamNet’s General Resource Databases
15.  Updating General Resource Databases

16.  Privacy

17.  Indexes: beyond Excel.

18.  Linking trees

19.  Uploading a GEDCOM file

20.  Uploading Objects to your Database

21.  Bulk-uploading Objects.  FamNet resource: Useful Databases.

Robert Barnes

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The Nash Rambler

A Lucky Researcher

This month I want to write about three reasons why I'm addicted to genealogy and family history. Of course I'll try and make sense but you know my writing style - rambling and sometimes nonsensical.

These three reasons are helping fellow researchers, particularly beginners, the actual research and the uncanny knack I have in finding interesting material and, finally, the interesting history that I end up researching as a consequence of that assistance.

I have a lady in my genealogy group who is a beginner. She asked for advice as to how she can find her grandfather's (William SANDERSON) birth date. All she had was the fact that he had married in 1905 and had died when his daughter (this lady's mother) was about five years old. She also had her mother's birth certificate (1913). She also knew that he was a soldier at some time but at the birth of his daughter he was a clerk. Using this information, she had worked out that he was born in Hull in 1870 but there were too many options for her to proceed to purchasing his birth certificate.

Put yourself in my shoes - what would you do?  Where would you look first?

Well I looked at the Burial Locator. I cannot sing praises too highly for this magnificent resource even though I'm very biased - I had a lot to do with its production. It's a pity that it can't be bought anywhere. I found one option for my man with a death in 1920 with a burial at Karori cemetery. So onto that cemetery's website I go and, lo and behold, he's a but from the Lincolnshire Regiment because of his headstone. He's looking extremely good as my target. So onto PapersPast I go and I find his death notice.  It gives a few interesting clues - his wife's name, his address and the fact that he died in the Army Hospital in Trentham. Things are looking better because his wife's name is right and he's a soldier.

What would you do now?

Well onto National Archives I go to see if he had a World War 1 Service Record. There are a few options but I found the appropriate one and I hit the jackpot. It gave his address, his wife's name and the names of his children - he was our man. It also gave his birth date and his father's name. Because I did not want to spoil the fun of a new researcher, I told her to check the newspaper and suggest that she go onto Archway and read things for herself.

What would you do now?

I needed to know his mother's name. So I suggested that his marriage certificate be purchased hoping that his parent's name would appear.

Where do I go now?

There are a number of options. An interesting fact I gathered from his Service Record was that he was brought to New Zealand in the early 1900s by the Government to train our army. His headstone gave his regimental number in the Lincolnshire Regiment. So off I went onto and I found his Service Records for the British Army. Because this is a pay per view site I copied the whole document and sent it to my lady. Boy did I find some interesting material. He served in the South African War, The Sudan War and the Egyptian Expedition.

This last fact is the third reason I am addicted. I ended up researching these three military incidents and spent a few hours engrossed in these. I'm now a little more expert in these military matters but please don't ask me a question about them.

I also explored the English Census records and found a family that fits the bill. All I needed was his mother's Christian name. Subsequently, his marriage certificate gave that and I was right. I can now go way back into his ancestry some time when my lady is ready for that step.

I think she is getting his birth certificate at the moment.

It is a fact that I must work at her pace because saturating her with facts will not help her research ability. She must find material and study each bit as she finds it and move on at her pace and in whatever direction she wants to wander. I must wait until she asks another question.

All this took about three hours of my valuable time. I seem to be lucky with my choices of what to search for first. I seem to have a happy knack of hitting jackpots early on. This is not a good thing to have if you are a professional genealogist. Time is money and this magnificent find with three hour's work would cost only about $300 whereas if I took my time and went down a few dead end streets I could charge more.

This reminds me of a situation I found when I first started researching. Unbeknown to me, my mother in law was employing a professional researcher in London to do some research for her. When I found out I read his reports. He would find a census record but only report a few family members and suggest further research to be done. My mother in law would pay up and follow his advice and he could always produce more because he already had information in hand. I quickly did some research and found that it was an easy family to research. I wrote an extremely dirty letter to him requiring him to release everything he had and demanded a refund of money paid or else I would be going public in genealogical publications about his antics in duping his customers. That refund was quickly made.

It is a fact that some, not all, professional researchers have foibles that are not acceptable to other researchers. I was a professional researcher for a while but found it not to my liking. Now I do it for free and thoroughly enjoy it.

Now, a closing comment, please do not send me your problems. One of the joys of free help is that I can pick and choose what I look into. That way my success rate is high and kept high.

Regards to all

Peter Nash

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DNA Testing for Family History

From the editor: Gail has written quite a series on DNA Testing. You will see them all on the FAMNET website and they are a must-read, particularly if you are considering or have had a test done. They are easy to read and not too technical. 

31.  Is your personal information at risk if you test your DNA for Genealogical purposes?

I work with various organisations giving presentations of genetic testing for genealogy and potential testers seem to have this question in the front of their minds.  This includes members of my own family.

Sometimes I can get around the problem if I am prepared to alter their names or keep their data private or use my email address instead of theirs.  But this is not very often.


So let us consider these risks that people perceive being associated with a genealogical DNA test.


If you like to read the fine print, the testing firm’s policy or the testing firm’s rules, generally they will all say “you own your DNA”.  But how true is that?  For example, what happens if the firm gets sold?  Is your relationship with the testing firm or with the new firm?  Can the testing firm “sell” your DNA data?  Does the fact that the testing firm removes your name and personal details and all that remains is the scientific alpha numeric results discovered in your sample mean you are safe?


Probably, provided there is absolutely nothing personal remaining that can to connect your details to that data and you have never earlier divulged to a match.  This aspect is not often considered.


Genealogical testing firms have special algorithms to determine matches.  These matches can be with anyone anywhere in the world and could be of your generation or a generation well back in the history of your family.  Mostly, you will have no knowledge of the persons to whom you are matched.  (Unless of course, through traditional genealogy, you have the most detailed family tree). 


Let us say one of your matches is wanted for some criminal activity.  Now what?


I bring this up because one of my colleagues was instrumental in the use of her skills to aid a law enforcement agency in tracking down an alleged killer – simply through the use of DNA and the matches that were found.  This enabled her to put together various family trees and to follow the tree down to the present time and from there, after various interviews etc, an arrest occurred.


Certainly, it was not the tester’s information that was at risk but that test was instrumental in the conviction which meant it was the alleged criminal who was at risk.  Personally, that does not (and will not) matter to me, but what if the criminal was a known relative of mine?  Would it matter then, either to me or to my wider family once they learned it was my test that helped convict?


If you test your DNA for genealogical purposes, you will presumably wish to share with others.  The question then becomes one of “is my DNA safe when it goes on to the web”? 


The simple answer is “no, it is not safe”.  Your personal details will be safe if you use a bogus name and test with the only firm with the tightest privacy requirements (no prizes for guessing it is Family Tree DNA), but your matches with whom you share, will have your details.  That is what sharing is all about.  So if you want completely safe, then either do not test or do not allow any sharing whatsoever.  And if that is the situation, then do not test, at least not for genealogical purposes.  (Please note I am not referring to medical or forensic or paternity testing.  Purely genealogical testing with a commercial firm.)


If you have been following my articles in Famnet  (and Robert has been kind enough to put them into an index), you will already know I am an absolute fan of genetic genealogy and that Family Tree DNA ( FTDNA ) is the firm I recommend at each opportunity, so I bet you are asking what am I doing writing an article which appears to be opposed to genetic testing.


My answer:  you need to make an informed choice; you need to know FTDNA is the only privately owned firm with their own ‘state of the art’ laboratory on their premises (which means your sample never leaves its premises); if you test and if you join one of “my” projects, you have me at your service to support you and protect you – always assuming you have contacted me and asked the question etc.


For the record, here is a list of my current projects and their web sites.  When you get to a project, some options will not be available to view until you are a member, so simply click on the options to the left of the landing page and see what there is to see.


If you have one of the surnames (or it variant) listed below and if you are male and if you reside in the United Kingdom and would be interested in a free basic Y-DNA test, contact me. (Not all projects offer a free basic Y-DNA test, so you need to ask).  And yes, you will still own your DNA!


Surname Projects 



Bard, Beard












Calhoun, Colquhoun










Fraser (and Septs)




































Riddle, Riddell




















Geographical and Haplogroup Projects

Australian Citizens

Australian Convicts

Australian Settlers

Border Reiver Families

Ancient Breifne Clans of Ireland

E-V13 Haplogroup – from Balkans to UK

Fathers, Sons and Brothers (Groups)

Hebrew DNA Research

Hebrew Finnish DNA Research

Liddesdale UK DNA

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters (Groups)

New Zealand Provincial Settlers

New Zealand Genetic Families

Haplogroup R1b & Subclades

Haplogroup R-L21 & Subclades

Haplogroup R-L1335


Gail Riddell

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Index so far

Jan’s Jottings

So simple!!!!  Try this sometime.

Mike Higgins is the Area Family History Manager - the FamilySearch ‘big cheese’ -  in New Zealand and the Pacific. Earlier this year we worked on a pre or post Expo South Island Tour for our FamilySearch speaker from Utah. But, this did not eventuate as Diane was needed back in Utah and could not be in NZ long enough for a Tour. 

I had mentioned it to a couple of South Island branches of the NZSG, and they were most disappointed when I had to tell them that there would not be a Tour for the South Island. But Mike said, at the time, that he might be able to organise something before the end of the year.

AND HE HAS!!. And I am helping!  So, if you live in Christchurch (28 Nov), Dunedin (29 Nov), Invercargill (1 Dec), Wanaka (3 Dec), Greymouth (5 Dec), Nelson (6 Dec) - ask your local genealogy group for details of venue etc.

I soon realised that there wasn’t much contact info for the West Coast. What was I to do???  I turned to Dr Google. I searched for “genealogy Greymouth”.  Well!!!  Here are the first few hits: (number 5 had the info I needed).

1. Greymouth Genealogy Resources & Vital Records | West Coast Region

2. Greymouth Birth & Baptism Records. New Zealand Birth Index (1847-1965). An index to births registered by the government, including name, year of birth and ...  West Coast New Zealand - Search -

3. Welcome to our West Coast New Zealand family history research page. Here you'll find record collections, history, and genealogy resources to help you trace ... Greymouth New Zealand Family History Centre Genealogy ...

4. Centre Contacts and Hours. Location & Map: 10 Dellaca Place, Westport. Google Map. Phone: +64 03-789-8115. E-mail: Open Hours: Holiday Schedule: ...  Cemeteries - Grey District Council

5. For genealogy information, please contact History House Museum or the Westland ... 26-32 Mackay Street, Greymouth; Open Wednesdays, 11am to 2pm and ... Welcome to RECOLLECT | West Coast New Zealand History

6.  277 results found - Search Results | West Coast New Zealand History
Results 1 - 24 of 277 - The wedding of Kathleen Ina Fisken and Thomas Malcolm McIntyreFormat: PhotographLocation (city or town): Greymouth Contributor: Brian ... Family History | Research guides | Our services for researchers ...

The New Zealand Society of Genealogists' New Zealand Marriages 1836–1956 ... includes information about burials in Greymouth and surrounding areas from ...Family History Centre - Greymouth, West Coast | The Community Archive › Contributors

8. Last updated: 19 June 2018 Family History Centre - Greymouth, West Coast Logo ... Genealogical society. Archive types: Local government; Religious archives ...Cemetery records now on genealogy database | 1 NEWS NOW | TVNZ

9. Tracking down your family history is set to become a whole lot easier after an extensive genealogy database came online today.  West Coast Genealogy Links - › New Zealand.
genealogy links for West Coast, New Zealand, including ships passenger lists, censuses, cemetery ... Greymouth Directory for West Coast 1865-1866. Hokitika ...

10.  Interactive Map of Greymouth | Greymouth NZ Map | New Zealand Map?      Interactive map of Greymouth: street map, satellite view and street view. See our maps and discover our useful information about Greymouth.

How is that!!???   Try it with your towns.  I want to spend some time with  and with  

Such a simple thing to try - bet there are others too. Let’s know what you find!!


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Wairarapa Wandering


Over the last 5 years, I have been assisting John E Martin with his research into Charles Rooking CARTER, after whom Carterton, NZ, is named.

Today, 28th October 2018, was the launch of the finished printed book, and I can honestly say that it looks great reading, from what I have quickly seen in the pages since I came home this afternoon.

When I was back in England in 2004, I visited where Charles came from, and or where he would have been back prior to him leaving England for New Zealand in 1850. He has always interested me.

He married in March 1850 and set sail, with his wife and her brother, to Wellington, on the Eden, a six month voyage. Jean’s brother was with them because, by that time, his parents had both died. He was James ROBIESON, but on Jean’s marriage certificate which I hold a copy off, was Jean's surname was ROBERTSON. But I have since been in touch with a relation of Jean here in NZ who said it’s the way the surname was pronounced- - try telling that to the Robieson clan!

On my trip to my homeland, I first visited Kendal where Charles came from. There had been an article in the local paper a week before I arrived there, so I went and thanked the editor for doing that for me. I can still hear his words when he met me, "I never expected you to come and say thank you". I said that I was educated like Charles had been and little things in life to me are so important.  Then I went into Derbyshire and visited the grave of Mrs Carter and their only child Jane Caroline who died of illness back in 1870 in London. Next stop was St James, Westminster, where the couple married back in 1850, near where I used to work, in Berkeley Square, in the 1960s.

John said at the launch today that he found Adele by google… she is never hard to find. I loved helping him over the years. I love research and am self taught.

But at the launch he did thank me for helping him. To me it was a pleasure to help the ex-parliamentary historian. I would do it again if I had the chance. I never accept payment for what I do, I make friends. 

I can remember John was over in England at one time, and I happened to emailed him for something. He said that he could not help because he could not get to Kendal. I said don’t worry, Pat is there at present she can help you, and she did. Sadly she couldn’t get to the launch today, so I must let her know that the book is great, well written, well researched here in NZ and UK.

Earlier this year, I handed a book over to our mayor, here in Carterton, which was written by Charles Rooking CARTER in London in 1870. It was a gift for the town. I bought it on line.

When I first heard the other day about the launch, I asked John to send a few invitations to certain folk, as I knew darn well they would love to attend, one being a lady up in Hawkes Bay whose family was related to Mrs Carter. Yes she drove down especially today to attend the launch. Later, a lady came up to me who was one of the Robiesons.  I said, how lovely to finally meet you Anne, here is a relation off yours, so left them chatting for some time.

 So I am going to be reading this book shortly. I remember our mayor John Booth saying to me this afternoon at the launch that he was given a book earlier so he could talk about it at the launch. He said it’s a great book. It is put out by Wairarapa Archives in Masterton.  A Colonist’s Gaze, The Life of Charles Rooking Carter by John E Martin.


Wairarapa Wanderer.

Adele Pentony-Graham

12 Neich’s Lane



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Tracey’s Tales

Wiremu Colenso (1851-1903)      Part 2: William’s journey from Napier to Penzance

William Colenso Snr, in his Will and Testament referred to his “…natural son William Colenso born and brought up here in Napier and educated by me…”.  In 1861, 10-year old Wiremu was, in William’s words: “…brought back to me at last! From Hokianga.” (Ref 1). Willie, as his father called him, accompanied by his uncle and grandmother, arrived in Napier unexpectedly by ship in July 1861.  William was in Auckland at the time so Wiremu stayed with Scotsman Alexander Alexander, a trader known to William, until William arrived back. In the same year, William’s estranged wife Elizabeth took their children Frances and Ridley, now 17 and 15 years, to London for final schooling (Footnote 1). Wiremu’s education was closer to home; not only was he tutored by his father, he also travelled with him as he carried out his duties as a School inspector. In 1865 and 1867, Willie attended Mr Marshall’s school (Napier Boys High School); the curriculum focussed on physical, mental and moral activities.

At the age of 16, Wiremu followed in the wake of his estranged siblings to his father’s homeland for ‘finishing.’ Wiremu had responsibility for 11-year old Alfred Carter who was also being sent for educational purposes (Alan Carter was educated at Mr. J. F. Haye's school, at Guernsey, Channel Islands, from which he returned in 1871). “Colenso and Carter” as listed in the departures of the Hawkes Bay Herald in January 1868, left on the ship John Bunyan which was loaded with wool and destined for London. Wiremu reported the details of the voyage to his father, who in turn published these in the Herald in August. The journey, which included no storms, plentiful provisions and sightings of whales in the tropics, appears to have appealed to William Jr as he later ventured into the occupation of seaman.

In 1869 William attended Wadham House school in Liskeard, Cornwall (Ref 2). The school, set in some acres of grounds, provided instructions that was “adapted to prepare Young Gentlemen either for the universities, for Professional or Commercial Life, or for Agricultural Pursuits.”  It also provided food of the “best quality, unlimited in quantity, four meals daily” for the pupils numbering about 80 boys.

William appears in the 1871 England and Wales Census, as an 18-year-old pupil born in New Zealand, living in Liskeard, Cornwall, England; he would in fact have been going on 20-years old. In the FamilySearch transcript page, he is the oldest of five other pupils aged 11 – 14 years, with the head and his wife, an assistant, servant and housekeeper. We can imagine that as a young man of mixed-ethnicity from a colonial country, he enjoyed an element of attention. Being looked after by servants was no doubt a privilege he came to enjoy and he was likely looked up to by the younger boys, all from Cornwall; Willie would have had many an adventure, from his journeys with his father in the remote and hostile wilderness of New Zealand, to impress his fellow students. 

In March 1872, just shy of 21 years, William Colenso was recorded as a second cabin passenger in the “Arrival of the ship Naomi from London” at 10.30pm (Ref 3). The ship left Gravesend on the 15th December 1871 and had a “fair passage.”  William Snr’s friend Edward Catchpool wrote in his diary on 27 September 1872 “Called on Colenso. Saw his son William the first time since his return from England” and on 31 December, “Called on W. Colenso. His son William is to leave per “Star of the North,” for Auckland for the purpose of going as a Cadet on the “Queen Bee” for London.” (Ref 4)

William’s career as a seaman was perhaps inspired by his transatlantic sea voyages as a school boy; a life which offered an element of freedom and adventure. His father’s informative letters to his friend Andrew Luff, a land agent now living back in London (for his sons’ education), provide a snap-shot of Wiremu’s travels from May 1875. These letters impress upon us William Snr’s devotion and love for his son as well as Wiremu’s ability as a seaman cadet. In July 1876, William wrote to Andrew Luff that a (good-looking) young man called in looking for Willie; they had been fellow seamen in the ship Merope and were on the same watch. In September 1877 William wrote to Luff of the demise of passengers and the Captain of the Queen Bee and formerly of the Merope, and had Willie returned to crew for the Captain, as the Captain had wished, then Willie might also have suffered the same fate.

We have to wonder however, if there was another reason for Wiremu’s wish to travel to England. A newspaper account provides an interesting insight into William’s possible ambitions:

Auckland Star 31 March 1875, Napier:

A Novel Case

Mr. Colenso, of Maori dictionary notoriety, was sued by Mr. Hooper, a tobacconist here, for sundry goods supplied to a reputed son of Colenso’s, for shaving, hair-cutting, tobacco, whiskers, and walking cane. The son is a half-caste and has gone to England and Colenso, senior, pleaded the son being of age, and consequently not liable. The tobacconist was nonsuited. The amount was £12.

Not many seamen, it could be proposed, were as preoccupied as Wiremu with keeping up appearances, let alone interested in acquiring a walking cane. It might therefore be reasonable to say that William Jr identified as an English gentleman as well as a sailor.  

William Snr’s letters to Andrew Luff also provide further insight into Wiremu’s embrace by his English family:

25/8/1875: “You also gave me the news of the arrl. of “Cel. Queeen” in the Thames – my nephew has written from Cornwall, on 27th. Saying Willie has teleg. To them when official on 25th., & my Brother had gone up to London (as he did before) purposely to receive W. but strange to say (for there was time enough) I got nothing more.” 

12/12/1875: “Third, my sons are in England, & are willing to remain there.”

William Jr spent Christmas of 1875 with his cousin William Colenso and his family. In the New Year, on 8/3/1876 William Snr wrote to his nephew William Colenso and his niece, enclosing some seeds – “I am pleased to hear you are Willie’s Banker; be sure you don’t allow him to draw all out too readily.” William Jr was saving for a yacht and William Snr also wrote to his nephew, “I have promised W. an extra mite towards it (or her) to go hence per next mail.”

In May 1876 William Jr was living with his father’s brother Richard Veale Thomas Colenso and his large family in North Street, Penzance. Within this household was Richard’s daughter – Wiremu’s cousin, Sarah Veale Thomas Colenso, who was 11 years older. Just over four years later, on 8 September 1880, William and Sarah married in the parish church of St Mary (Sarah registered her age as 35 years instead of 40 years on their marriage certificate). William, aged 28 years, recorded his occupation as “Gentleman” as opposed to seaman. Wiremu’s home and family life was now in England; his father had effectively ‘lost’ his much-loved youngest son to a life that he himself and left behind. William Snr financed his son’s life as a gentleman with an annuity.

In the 1891 England and Wales census, William aged 39 years and Sarah aged “40” years (50 years) were living in “Glen Trewithen” in Trewithen Road with 23-year-old servant Jane Richards. William was “living on his own means.”  The house, situated in a leafy street at the rear entrance of Penzance's Penlee Park, and the means to keep it running, was courtesy of his father.

Today, Glen Trewithen, which remained in the family until 1990, is noted as a “substantial, impressive period residence” by a real estate company. It has been converted to include two self-contained apartments, however, the “main residence has successfully retained many of the original features of the period” and includes entrance mosaic tiled flooring, cornice, entrance hall herringbone flooring, cornice and ceiling rose (Footnote 2).

William and Sarah, possibly due to Sarah’s age at the time of their marriage, had no children of their own, but from all accounts, seemed to be surrounded by many relatives. In an article written in 2009 (Pacific Northwest Cornish Society, V 11, No. 3) about Sarah’s youngest sibling, brother Thomas, the author Amanda Doyle wrote:

On 18th March 1889 Thomas married Phillis Bodinar Trahair in Penzance.  I cannot imagine that it was a small affair even with just close family: Mum and Dad, Susan and Edward Noy, Sarah and Wiremu Colenso, Alice and Joseph Carter and seven children, William and Mary Colenso and five children, Samuel and Kate Colenso, John and Eliza Colenso and daughter, Caroline Colenso and Richard Colenso.   Not to mention aunts and uncles and cousins, then there was the Trahair family too.  (Ref 5)

In March 1898, Wiremu became blind following an unsuccessful cataract operation. His father wrote to his nephew William, “’97 has been a sad year of great affliction to our family! Mrs. Tucker [William’s sister], & Edwin, Latimer’s only child, daughter 18… myself, Willie, & then Mrs Symons.—May good result therefrom to us all.” (Ref 6)

The Reed Family Tree – Penzance Blog (Ref 7) dated 30 March 2012 provides a photograph of a more mature William Jr and family members. The author wrote that “Wiremu or "Willie" as he was known to his family was extremely well regarded by local people” and this seems to be the case from Willie’s arrival to England as a young man.  The author also notes “Wiremu is buried with his wife in Penzance cemetery, only yards from his uncles and cousins.”

Text Box:

William Colenso, Late of New Zealand, Died 15th June, 1903 in the district Penzance.  William was 50 years of age and only survived his father, William Snr who died in Napier on 10 February 1899, by four years.

His wife and cousin, Sarah died on 5th October 1929, aged about 88 years, survived her husband-cousin by 26 years. 



(1)  Personal letters of William Colenso transcribed by Ian st George Part 1 12.9.11

(2)  eColenso, July 2014, Vol 5, No. 7: “Why was Willie at Walsall?” Sarah Carter

(3)  PASSENGERS INWARDS., New Zealand Herald, Volume IX, Issue 2543, 20 March 1872

(4)  eColenso,Febrary 2013, “Colenso and Catchpool (p.2)

(5)  <>

(6)  (eColenso, July 2014, v 5, No.7)

(7)  <>



(1)  Elizabeth remained in London for the next five-to six years until early 1867. While there she acted as a translator for the Colonial Office and in 1863 had acted as an interpreter for Hare and Hariata Pomare who were presented to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 4 December.  Elizabeth was also involved, alongside Archdeacon Robert Maunsell, in the publication of the first complete Bible in Maori in 1868. When Elizabeth and Fanny returned to New Zealand in October 1866, Lattie stayed on at St. John's College, Cambridge.

(2)  The Penzance Town Council Agenda of September 2016 mentions the Finance & General Purposes Committee approval for the erection of a Town Council Heritage Plaque on Glen Trewithen, Trewithen Road and authorises the Town Clerk to seek permission from the building owner to proceed with the project.


Tracey Bartlett

Digging Into Historical Records  

New Zealand Company Vouchers


At Archives NZ there are six boxes of vouchers arranged in alphabetical order. [1] In general they reflect payments made by the New Zealand Company for a wide variety of goods and services. These include lists of people provided by emigration agents as evidence supporting claims for commission, providing accomodation or goods. My 4x great-grandfather, William Jenkins (1813-1867), his pregnant wife and two children under three years travelled from Leamington, Birmingham to embark on the ship 'London' that sailed from Gravesend on 02 January 1842.


When William applied for a free passage to New Zealand for himself and his family on 15 November 1841 he was an upholsterer and cabinet maker of Ranelagh Street, Leamington. His application was part of a group that were related to or connected with John Toone and his family of 125 Warwick Street, Leamington. [2]


Joseph Phipson, the New Zealand Company agent in Birmingham, received the applications and a voucher "for emigration agency" included a list of the emigrants that he had selected. Four families were selected from the 'Toone group' - James and Mary Cattell and four children; William and Elizabeth Cattell and an infant daughter; William and Catherine Jane Jenkins and two children; John and Louisa Fitchett and five children. All embarked on the 'London'. The Cattell families were from Bedworth and the Fitchett family was from Leamington. [3]


The Toone family did not emigrate. John Toone (1787-1875) and his wife Elizabeth nee Reading had 14 children. Their eldest son, John Toone Jnr (1813-1893) emigrated to Utah. John and Elizabeth remained in Leamington and were buried there. [4]


The Cattell, Fitchett and Jenkins families arrived at the Emigration Depot at Grove Street, Deptford on 28 December 1841. Edwin Hartley Mears, the New Zealand Company agent, recorded that the Cattell families arrived in time for the 'dinner' meal and the Fitchett and Jenkins families arrived later in the day in time for 'tea'. Mears' voucher, "for maintenance &c Emigrants shipped per 'London' on 30th Decr after dinner & Gravesend 1st January after Breakfast" was received by the New Zealand Company on 13th Jany 1842.


This document records the date of arrival of emigrants, their first meal, number of adults and the numbers of children aged less than 1 year, 1 to 7 years and 7 to 14 years. Another set of columns detail the number of days that they stayed and the number of days that needed to be counted for each of the age categories. For each age group there was a different daily rate for males and females: Adult men (2s 6d), adult women (2s); children 7-14yrs - boys (1s 8d), girls (1s 4d); children 1-7yrs - boys (10d), girls (8d).


For the Fitchett family seven children are indicated and included two nephews of Louisa Fitchett - William Clark (11yrs) and Joseph Clark (9yrs).  Other items listed include tug boat hire, steam boat fares, lighterage and luggage. The list covered 118 adults, 90 children and 26 infants equalling 234 souls. [5] This differs slightly from Daniel Riddiford's return, dated 18 May 1842 at Wellington, recording the embarkation of 232 souls. [6]


Also enclosed with the Mears' voucher were three documents.

[a] Ship 'London' - Letter dated 31 Dec 1841 Henry Frederick Alston to Mr Smith, Depot, Grove Street.

Sir, You will be so good to receive the Baggage of the Bearer, William Eades, and bring it to Gravesend with the Emigrants now at the Depot tomorrow morning.

[b] Voucher dated 01 Jan 1842 for Mr Mears to pay J. Hovey for taking luggage of Mr Eades & J. Dixon to Gravesend - to the ship 'London £1 10s and for watching the luggage 1s 6d - total £1 11s 6d

[c] Voucher dated 30 Dec 1841 for Mr Mears to pay John Price for taking down nine packages to the 'London' at Blackwall in a tug boat 10s and for putting on board the Steamer for Gravesend ... [ten] persons 2s 6d - total 12s 6d.


Within the Mears' vouchers there are long lists of emigrants for the following ships: Adelaide, Aurora, Birman, Bombay, Clifford, Clifton, Fifeshire, George Fyfe, Indus, Katherine Stewart Forbes, Lady Nugent, Lloyds, London (1840,1842), Lord Auckland, Lord William Bentinck, Martha Ridgway, Mary Anne, Olympus, Oriental, Prince of Wales, Prince Rupert, Slains Castle, Thomas Harrison, Thomas Sparks, Tyne, Whitby, Will Watch.


So who was Edwin Hartley Mears? He was baptised at Lambeth St Mary in 1812 [7] and was the fourth son and one of ten children of George Frederick Mears (1781-1842) and Ann Frances nee Hudson (1782-1848). He married Augusta Bishop at St Pancras by Licence in 1834. Augusta was a minor and consent was given by her natural and lawful mother, Dorothy Egles, a widow. [8]


In November 1837 Mears established an Emigrant Depot in Grove-street, Deptford. It was described as commodious and respectable and situated at a convenient distance from the City, on the banks of the Thames. It was arranged for the reception of Emigrants, with every regard to their comfort and security while they are waiting the departure of the ship, or preparing for their voyage. Adequate and proper arrangements were provided for safe embarkation under the superintendence of competent gentlemen. [9]


In 1838 Mears became an agent to Her Majesty's Colonization Commissioners for South Australia, for the Sale of Land, and Selection of Emigrants and was based at the Australian Agency Office, 5 Leadenhall Street, London. [10]


On 31 January 1839 he gave a Lecture at the Greenwich Literary Society on British Colonisation with particular reference to South Australia. This was published as an Essay along with a list of the Officers of the South Australian Company and letters from pioneer settlers in the Appendix. [11] On 19 July 1839 Mears gave another lecture at the Committee Room of the Town Hall, Birmingham on the Philosophical Principles of Colonisation recently established; and the present condition, physical and moral, of the Continent of South Australia and the Islands of New Zealand. [12]


By March 1840 Mears was based at the Australian and New Zealand Subscription Rooms, 62 Gracechurch-street. [13] When he gave a statement of the actual value of New Zealand Native Reserve Lands to the Select Committee on New Zealand, in mid July 1840, his address had changed to 15 Fish Street Hill, near London Bridge. [14] In the 1841 Census he was a merchant living at No.7 Park Place, St Mary Lambeth with his wife and two young children.


The London Gazette of 10 February 1843 recorded that he was a Prisoner formerly of No.7 Park-place, Brixton, Surrey, carrying on business at Grove-street, Deptford, Kent, and part of the time carrying on business at No.15 Fish-street-hill, in the city of London, as Contractor and Colonial and Shipping Agent, and late of Russell-cottage, Blackheath-hill, Blackheath, Kent, out of business and employment.


He appeared again in the 1846 London Gazette. His partnership with Joseph Collard in the business of Statuarys, Masons and Paviors, was dissolved by mutual consent on 07 July 1843. In the 1851 Census Mears is an accountant living at 9 Thomas Street, St John Horsleydown, Southwark with his wife and five children. His office was at 8 George Yard, Lombard Street. [15]. In 1856 he was an Inspector for the East India Railway and he died on 05 May 1856 at Allahabad aged 44 years. [16]


[1] Archives NZ References AAYZ 8980 NZC 32/10/25 to NZC 32/13/30 New Zealand Company vouchers

[2] New Zealand Company Register of Emigrant Labourers applying for free passage 1841-1842 Alexander Turnbull Library Reference ATL.SHIP f325 NZC 322095 v.3

[3] Archives NZ Reference AAYZ 8980 NZC 32/12/29 Vouchers N-S (Phipson vouchers)


[4] The Toone Family of Leamington Spa

[5] Archives NZ Reference AAYZ 8980 NZC 32/12/28 Vouchers I-M (Mears vouchers)


[6] No Simple Passage: The Journey of the 'London' to New Zealand 1842 by Jenny Robin Jones (2011) page 311 [7] Baptism Register Lambeth St Mary 24 Aug 1812 (born 29 Jul 1812)

[8] Marriage Register St Pancras Parish Chapel 24 May 1834

[9] South Australian Record 27 Nov 1837 Notice to Emigrants

[10] South Australian Record 09 May 1838 Notice to Emigrants

[11] Bibliography of Australia

[12] Aris's Birmingham Gazette 15 Jul 1839 Australia and New Zealand

[13] South Australian Colonist 17 Mar 1840 Land in South Australia for Sale

[14] Birmingham Journal 19 Sep 1840 Wellington Settlement in New Zealand

[15] London Post Office Directory 1851

[16] FamilySearh India Deaths and Burials 1719-1948


Pandora Research

Dawn Chambers

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Chinese Corner 

Chinese Settlers

In Auckland, while there are about 600 Chinese living in the city, there is properly speaking no Chinese quarter. The nearest approach to it is in Grey's Avenue, where there is the Chinese shop, their restaurant, and one or two of their clubs and boarding houses. Imagination people’s Chinese homes with many strange furnishings, but if the curious could look through them their chief surprise in many cases would be to find the Chinese homes so very like their own. There are two main political clubs among the Auckland Chinese, and about half of them belong to the Nationalist Club, which represents the more progressive element. The others mostly belong to the Masonic group, benevolent and social in character, and these, generally speaking, are of the more conservative type. NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 11 APRIL 1928

Countrymen from Canton.

There are also social and business district associations, one of which meets in Lower Hobson Street. Newspapers from China are provided for those who can read, gramophone music is supplied, games so popular with the Chinese are indulged in and occasionally there are speeches and debates.

All the Chinese in the Dominion are Cantonese, coming from certain well-defined groups of villages in the Kwangtung province. The original lure was the hope of winning wealth on the goldfields, but in that most were disappointed. At first, they were nearly all in Otago, Southland and Westland, but now more than three-quarters of them are in the North Island, mostly about Auckland and Wellington. They come from the country and are well acquainted with the intensive methods of farming necessary on their small allotments.

The women adapt themselves to New Zealand conditions with remarkable rapidity, and learn quickly to keep a home under conditions very new to them. The standard of comfort in their homes has shown a steady tendency to rise, and there are children in nearly every home. The average in 40 families of which particulars were recently noted in Auckland was 3.3. Strange as it may seem to some, the Chinese entertain just as strong a prejudice against intermarrying with Europeans as Europeans do against intermarrying with them. NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 11 APRIL 1928 (contd)

The Children's Education.

There is some tendency among Chinese fathers to send their wives and children home to China, largely that the children may be thoroughly instructed in Chinese reading and writing and also because the cost of living in this country is so very much higher. In New Zealand the parents are keen to take advantage of the educational facilities offered, and the children usually take good places in their classes and mix well with the other children. In one Auckland school for three successive years three different Chinese boys captained the school cricket team. This Chinese here do not readily turn to the professed religion of their adopted country, but on the other hand they incline to fall away from their own religious observances. They have no temples or shrine in the Dominion, and there is very little to be seen of the rites and customs of their native country. Everybody knows the Chinese mostly take to market gardening, the fruit trade or laundry work, but sometimes they venture into other activities. At the recent jubilee celebrations at Stratford prominence was given to the fact that the pioneer of the dairy factory industry in Taranaki was a Chinese, Mr. Chew Chong, who started at Eltham the first dairy factory in the province. There is now in Taranaki at least one Chinese dairy farmer, and at New Plymouth one is occupied as a fisherman. NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 11 APRIL 1928 (Contd)

Gaming Charge Chinese Heavily Fined. Auckland, 4th August

Wong Doo, a Chinese, was fined £50 to-day on a charge of permitting his premises to be used as a common gaming house. Security for appeal was filed at £l5, plus the fine and costs. £4 12s 6d. The cases against twenty-one others were adjourned pending the appeal. Wong Sun is charged with keeping the house, two others with assisting, and the rest with being found on the premises. The defence in Wong Doo's case was that the games were not games of chance any more than whist, euchre, or any game of cards - also that the game described by the police was not played on the date of the police raid, 16th July. The Chinese game of "ma chuck," which figured in the charges, was explained by Mr. L. P. Leary in the Auckland Police Court case on Tuesday. Ma chuck," he said, is a game played by four players. There are 136 pieces, with 34 varieties and four pieces of each kind. There are what might be described as three suits, running from one to nine. The remaining seven are not suits, but four of them represent the four winds of heaven. The other three are honours—the white, green, and red. The object of the game is to fill the hand with either runs of three or sets of three or four of the same kind. The player who by lot is decided to be the player in the East first draws his pieces from a square of seventeen in the side. The remainder draw, in rotation until they get a hand of 13. Then the player on the East draws an odd one, which he either puts into his hand or discards into the centre of the square, which is known as The Sacred Valley." This can be picked up by any of the other players to make three or four, or by the next player to make a run. If it survives both of these fates it becomes "dead," and lies on the table merely as an index as to what had not been collected. The pieces are picked up by the players in rotation to improve their hands, and whilst the ostensible, object of the game is to make a full hand, the true object is to block the other man from declaring his hand before you have gathered a strong hand yourself. The explanation of a good deal of skill in the game, says Mr. Leary, lies in the scoring, because various hands score more than others, and therefore it pays to hold up the other man from scoring by refusing to discard what you have until your hand is a sufficiently strong one to disclose it and rake in a substantial stake. An expert player can, after two or three discards, tell to a nicety what the other three players are collecting, and sometimes hold back his discards to prevent any other player getting in a position to declare his hand. This leads to a deadlock, and the game must be played again. The full game consists of each player getting his tally for one hand, and this means skilled players sometimes take as long as nine hours to work out. Evening Post, 5 August 1922


Helen Wong

Guest Contributors

Ken Morris

I saw the “Pork Crackling in a Cup” and it reminded me of:

A Dissertation upon Roast Pig – an essay by Charles Lamb

There have been many editions of this essay by Charles Lamb (1775-1834) published, some beautifully illustrated, reviewed and used as an English text to study.

Originally published in 1874 it is now out of copyright and can be downloaded from Google (no illustrations) or from the attached link to Gutenberg which has some excellent illustrations.

I don’t know of many people who don’t like roast pork and especially a piece of “crackling” and the “story” of its discovery makes for a pleasant read and to pass on to grand kids.

It’s a short essay and to give any details would be a spoiler, suffice to say it involves a Chinese boy Bo-bo who burns down the pig house. Then involves his father, the judiciary, speculators and insurers.

The link to the Gutenberg version is below, and you can forget the last 50% of the file it’s all legalese and to me was meaningless.


Ken Morris

(I had a roast pork sandwich with some crackling on the side, thought the $3 a cup for crackling a bit over the top)

From our Libraries and Museums

Triggered by an email from Seonaid (Shona) Lewis, we are offering a forum to our libraries and museums to publicise their events, and to contribute articles to this newsletter that may be of interest to our readers. Auckland Libraries is starting to make good use of this free service, let’s see if other libraries and museums take up this offer.

For readers of this newsletter: please bring this to the attention of your local libraries etc, and encourage them to participate.

Auckland Libraries

HeritageTalks @ Central Library, Auckland

Are you interested in family and local history? The history of New Zealand, as well as the rest of the world? Then why not come along to one of our fortnightly HeritageTalks and hear more about both our personal and our shared heritage.

These talks are given by experts in their field and can provide valuable insight into our histories.

HeritageTalks take place every second Wednesday at 12 noon in the Whare Wānanga, Level 2, Central City Library, Auckland unless otherwise stated. Booking is recommended but not essential.

Phone Central Auckland Research Centre 09 890 2412 to book, or book online:



Colleagues of Empire with Georgia Prince

Wednesday 7 November

12pm to 1pm

Join Principal Curator Printed Collections, Georgia Prince, for this HeritageTalk about two well-known historical figures, Florence Nightingale and Sir George Grey.

How did social reformer and founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, know Sir George Grey?

Preserved in the Grey collection at Auckland Libraries are letters and books which Florence Nightingale sent to Grey, best known as one of New Zealand's most controversial 19th century Governors. In this talk, Georgia Prince of Heritage Collections will explore how the two came to know each other.


Lost an ancestor in London? Then this talk may be for you! With Marie Hickey, Auckland Libraries

Wednesday 21 November, 12pm-1pm

Whare Wananga L2 Central City Library, Lorne Street

When did your ancestral place become part of London? Can’t find your ancestor/s in Church of England records – why not? Where do you look? What records are available to help further research of your London connections?

The talk will also include a look at some of the hidden gems available through subscription websites such as Ancestry, Findmypast, The Genealogist and My Heritage.


DAM! (Disaster Awareness Matters)  with Kristie Short-Traxler, Conservation Manager, MOTAT

Wednesday 21 November, 4pm-5pm

Whare Wananga L2 Central City Library, Lorne Street

Kristie Short-Traxler, Conservation Manager, MOTAT, has extensive experience as a preventive conservator having worked with the British Museum in London, Oxford University, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology Oxford and the American Museum of Natural History, New York.  Kristie will share her experiences and involvement with disaster planning and give real life examples of past disasters.

Tea and coffee from 5pm

Finding connections, unlocking stories from the past

Innovations in DNA interpretation with Brad Argent, AncestryDNA

Wednesday 21 November, 6pm-7.30pm

Whare Wananga L2 Central City Library, Lorne Street


Phone Research Central 09 890 2412 to book, or book online:


This finishes our HeritageTalks programme for the year. Our first one in 2019 is on 13 February.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Auckland Libraries!



We have been working hard to try and make our events available to a wider audience.

So we are seeking a volunteer to assist us with transcribing audio recordings please.

We have been recording selected HeritageTalks. These recordings will be put together with the speaker’s Powerpoint and placed on to the Auckland Libraries’ YouTube channel.

Auckland Council has a commitment to accessibility to all, so any videos uploaded to YouTube require transcriptions, so we can caption them.

We know that for every oral history that is recorded, it takes four hours to transcribe one hour. So it is quite a labour intensive task. It needs someone who is patient, accurate and knows a bit about the subject matter.

If that sounds like you, then please do get in touch!


Nga mihi | Kind regards


Seonaid (Shona) Lewis RLIANZA | Family History Librarian

Central A uckland Research Centre, Central City Library

Heritage and Research

Auckland Libraries - Nga Whare Matauranga o Tamaki Makarau

Ph 09 890 2411| Extn (46) 2411 | Fax 09 307 7741

Auckland Libraries, Level 2, Central City Library, 44 - 46 Lorne Street, Auckland

Visit our website:

@Kintalk on Twitter / Auckland Research Centre on Facebook


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Group News

Whangarei Family History Computer Group


image001 Wayne: (09) 437 2881

 Pat: (09) 437 0692


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

email, if you need directions.

 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 till finished before 1.30pm.

Whangarei Family History Computer Group recently studied one way someone has published part of their family history. It is an online blog via the Google Blog medium, it uses the standard Descendants Report found in most genealogy programmes, easy to generate as a word processing document so it can be altered or add photos to enhance the story being told. Even though it is of a New Zealand family that immigrated from Scotland, the blog is managed by a distant relative in Brazil, this makes additions and alterations easy to handle via email. It has been an item of discussion of how we will publish our family history for the next generation, I was commissioned a few years ago to produce a coffee table publication of a family history, it was well received by all ages of the family. However, the electronic blog concept appealed to me because of its effective use of a Descendant’s Report and can also be used to build a print copy. We all need to seriously look at what we are going to do with all the information we have gathered to produce our family history.

From the Editor: My grandmother's maiden name was ARCHIBALD. I have a bit of confusion until I visited the website. They are not my ARCHIBALDs although if I go back far enough we will connect. This has saved me doing a one name study on this surname. Thanks Wayne.


Waikanae Family History Group

 Contacts: Email:

Venue: Meets every 4th Thursday morning at the Waikanae Chartered Club, 8 Elizabeth Street Waikanae, just over the Railway Crossing from 9.30am to 12 -12.30pm, every month from January to November.

Research days: at the Waikanae Public Library, 10am to 12 noon on second Wednesday of each month.


Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

The contact details of this group are:

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

Rose Cottage 33 Memorial Place


Tel: 06 – 754 – 3212



President:- Rona Hooson 

Vice President:- Doree Smith

Secretary:- Trish Smart

Treasurer:- Marilyn O’Lander


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News and Views 


Half or full…

Yes, DNA can usually tell the difference

It’s one of the most common questions people have about DNA testing. Just this past week two different people wrote in to The Legal Genealogist with some variation on the theme.


Can a basic genealogical DNA test tell the difference between half-siblings and full siblings?


Most of the time — as in one of the questions this week — the questioner’s parents have passed on but brothers and/or sisters remains, and there are still niggling doubts about whether they all share the same set of parents.


Could they be half-siblings — sharing only one parent — instead of full siblings, sharing both mother and father? And can a less-than-$100-buy-the-kit-and-wait-for-the-results DNA test really tell the difference?


The answer, of course, is usually yes, it can tell the difference, as long as the test results are combined with all the facts and properly understood.


Now… let’s be clear here: we’re talking about the autosomal DNA test here, and not YDNA testing or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing. Autosomal DNA is the kind we all inherit from both of our parents and that’s used, in genealogy, primarily to find cousins to work with collaboratively.1 YDNA is the kind only men have that’s inherited only from their fathers and so is used to trace the direct paternal line.2 And mtDNA is the kind we all have but that’s inherited only from our mothers and so is used to trace the direct maternal line.3


Here’s the deal: with autosomal DNA, we all inherit 50% of our DNA from our fathers and 50% from our mothers. Because of a random jumbling of the DNA that occurs every single time a child is produced — a process called recombination4 — brothers and sisters won’t share the same exact DNA. One sister might have gotten a bit more from the maternal grandmother’s line than the others; one brother might have gotten a bit more from the paternal grandmother’s line than the others.


But on average full siblings will share about 50% of their autosomal DNA.


Now… since half-siblings are only inheriting autosomal DNA from one shared parent and not two, the amount of shared DNA they’ll receive is cut in half: to 25%.


And that difference usually shows up fairly dramatically in the standard DNA tests we take for genealogy when we look at the number of centiMorgans (cM for short) that we share with a sibling. That’s a unit of measurement in DNA that helps determine genetic distance — in other words, just how closely related two people are.5


The higher the number of cM shared with a sibling, the closer the genetic distance — or, in plain language, the more likely it is that you’re full siblings and not half.


Now the charts we used to use in genealogy tell us we should expect 2550 cM in common with a full sibling and 1700 cM in common with a half sibling.6 But more recent research has shown us there’s a range we can expect to see.


The Shared CentiMorgan Project, pioneered by Blaine Bettinger, tells us that the average for full siblings is 2629 cM, and the range is reported from a low of 2209 to a high of 3384. It also tells us that anything above about 2900 is a real outlier and not likely to be a correct interpretation of the data.


For half siblings, the average is 1783 cM, the range from 1317 to 2312 but anything above about 2150 is a real outlier and not likely to be a correct interpretation of the data.


That’s shown in the histograms on the Shared CentiMorgan Project: the charts you can see there that show you where most of the results show up. The results out at the ends are the outliers.


You can see this represented in terms of the statistical probabilities — the odds that two people are full or half siblings — in the DNAPainter tool called The Shared cM Project 3.0 tool v4. Plug in the total cM in common in the box at the top, and the tool will give you the odds: at 1700 cM, the odds are 100% that the two people are half siblings; at 2620 cM, the odds are 100% in favor of full siblings.


My own half sibling, for example, has a range of 1622-1975 cM with his half-brothers and half-sisters. The percentages tool gives us 100% odds for half sibling on that entire range. And my range with my full siblings is from 2566-2858 cM, with the odds for full sibling from 99.71% to 100%.


Where it gets dicey is starting around the 2000 cM level — that’s where there is some small amount of evidence that a match could be either full or half sibling. At 2250 cM, the odds are pretty close to 50-50 either way. And at that point, of course, you may very well need more than an over-the-counter DNA test to answer the question.


The results can also be skewed by issues like one parent being an identical twin (say two identical twin brothers each had a child by the same woman) or by incest.


Bottom line: yes, usually, the test data tells you whether you’re full or half siblings, as long as you look at all the data, and understand the test results fully.


Oh… and remember… there are real ethical issues involved in DNA testing, and we need to be prepared for all of them before we ask anybody — especially a maybe-full-maybe-half sibling — to test.


1.    ISOGG Wiki (, “Autosomal DNA,” rev. 15 Sep 2018.

2.    Ibid., “Y chromosome DNA tests,” rev. 4 Dec 2016. 

3.    Ibid., “Mitochondrial DNA tests,” rev. 1 Oct 2018. 

4.    Ibid., “Recombination,” rev. 2 Dec 2017. 

5.    Ibid., “centiMorgan,” rev. 21 May 2017.

6.    See ibid., “Autosomal DNA statistics,” rev. 3 Sep 2018.


Cemeteries: Fearsome Places to Avoid or Fascinating places to Embrace?

From the Editor: If you aren't aware by now that I love cemeteries you are definitely not paying attention. I found an interesting article on cemeteries at the website below. Although American, the same is true of cemeteries worldwide. There are copyright reasons together with length of the newsletter issues. So I point you in the direction. Please read it - you WILL enjoy it.

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Women in Scotland: the poor and women’s health

From the Editor: My Scottish ancestors were not poor. They came from families that had a bob or two. If I keep saying this I may eventually believe it.

I found an interesting article on women and poverty in Scotland and recommend that you go to this website and read the article. The length of the article & copyright issues prevent me from putting it into this newsletter.


There are other interesting articles here. But, while you are here, click on access to The Statistical Accounts on right hand side. Do you know what they are? Have a read.

 Put your parish name in and read. This is a necessary resource for you to understand the life in your particular parish.

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The secret language of death certificates

Posted by on October 29, 2018

We’re getting into the Halloween spirit with a look at death certificates and how to read them. Cassie Mercer delves into this important area of family history research. Read on if you dare … doctor’s bag with contents, English, 1890-1930. Courtesy Science Museum London/Wellcome Library London.

A death certificate is one of the most valued tools among family historians. The cause of death of an ancestor is of immense interest to genealogists, whether it’s to piece together an ancestor’s last days, explain a family connection, or for those increasing numbers of people who are specifically researching their medical family history.

And while death certificates are fantastic documents in their own right, they were never designed for family historians reading them a century or two later!

The first thing we look at when reading a death certificate is of course the cause of death. The words “Burns and suffocation following explosion due to accident” are very informative, but when you see terms such as “marasmus”, “inanition” or “visitation of God”, just what do these terms mean?

Most diagnoses in past times were based on the visible symptoms, explains experienced genealogist and public health microbiologist Helen Smith. “This can result in terms such as Blue Disease (cyanosis, or lack of oxygen), Bronze John (yellow fever), Falling Sickness (epilepsy) and at times when there is no visible reason for death, an ‘Act of God'”, Helen says.

“With our modern day familiarity of the causes of infectious diseases, it is easy to forget that knowledge of micro-organisms and what actually caused infection was not well accepted or even understood by the medical professions until the late 19th century,” explains Helen. “Their knowledge of internal anatomy, medicine and incidentally, their spelling ability, also varied between medical practitioners.”

The levels of medical care available to our forebears would also differ depending on their ability to pay the doctor’s fees. The majority of people could not afford a visit from the doctor and could not afford medication. Hospitals were feared by many as lots of people died from infectious diseases acquired there.

A death did not have to be medically certified by law until 1874 in England. In Australia, deaths were not required to be medically certified until around 1889 at the earliest and this meant that a doctor had to perform a retrospective diagnosis based on visible symptoms and information from family and friends. This can mean that less obvious diseases or genetic conditions would not be appropriately diagnosed.

There were also societal implications in medical diagnoses. As there was no cure, diseases such as syphilis were common in all levels of society. It was, however more likely to be listed as a cause of death in a poorer patient than a middle-class patient. Insanity leading to suicide was also another cause of death likely to be glossed over in the middle-class patient.

So if including cause of death on a certificate was not meant for the benefit of family historians, why the push to show it? “In a bid to improve public health, is the short answer, thanks to statistician, William Farr,” explains Helen. The London Bills of Mortality were published weekly from 1603 to the mid-1830s, from information given by parish clerks so that people could see the increases or decreases in death caused by the plague. Soon all causes were given. This information proved very useful to the authorities and, in 1836 when the advent of national registration was discussed, Farr and others fought to have cause of death included on the certificates. He was an innovator in analysing this medical information.

So what do you do when you find an unusual term on a death certificate? First look to see who certified the death: do they have medical qualifications, do they give a time of last illness? This will give an indication on the reliability of the given cause. There are a number of online sources that can be very useful. Rudy’s List is particularly useful as it lists historical medical terms in 23 languages. And of course Google is always a great place to start.

Death certificates can be wonderful sources of information but it is important to be aware of their limitations or omissions. Putting the information you do have into context could open up the possibility of discovering even more about your ancestor’s life.

What clues can your ancestor’s death certificate reveal? Check out the Birth, Death and Marriage Records on Ancestry today!

Cassie Mercer

Cassie Mercer is an editor based in Sydney. She founded the award-winning magazine Inside History in 2010, creating a following of 60,000+ readers and working with Australia’s key cultural institutions to bring the nation’s history to life across Inside History’s multi-channel platforms. The history bug struck her when she discovered the story of her 5x great grandparents – in the late 1700s, one was a highwayman in Dublin and the other was the madam of a brothel, of the Lower Sort.

Another Person’s Family Tree is Not a Valid Source

From the Editor:  Here is another website for a very interesting article on the subject of valid sources. Once again, the length of the article and that problem, copyright, does not allow me to reproduce the whole article but click on the link below.


This is a very important subject all researchers should consider. Please read it.

Genealogical societies may learn from 61-year-old historical society’s demise

From the Editor: I couldn't resist putting this article into this newsletter. I'm not pointing the finger but an organisation I used to be associated with needs to consider its situation.


Having introduced this as I did I must also say that all organisations, clubs, societies and similar organisations need to consider their futures. I remember when you did not have to travel far to find a bowling club, particularly on a Sunday when the pubs were closed. Nowadays they are as scarce as hen's teeth. Similarly with rugby clubs, etc.

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Book Reviews

Why the Dutch are Different

by Ben Coates published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2015, ISBN978-1-85788-633-7

The European nation I knew least about was the Netherlands. I used the names Holland and the Netherlands indiscriminately and basically characterised the Dutch according to what I had experienced with an old and very good friend who flatted with me many years ago. And he seems not to be a typical example.

The author is English who happened to land in the Netherlands and subsequently married a Dutch lady. This book is his research into the characteristics of the Dutch and their lifestyle, history and environment.

I learned a lot about Dutch history and their massive influence on world history for such a very small country. The author explains their fixation on their continuing battle against the tides. Other interesting things I found was why their national colour is orange, their high rate of social welfare, their relaxation of drug laws, why Amsterdam's brothels are going out of business and why the Dutch soccer team is as successful as the English i.e. always falling at the last hurdle in any competition. There is much more interesting subject matter.

This is a very interesting book and well worth the dollar I paid for it.

Peter Nash

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

by Eric Idle published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, an Hatchette UK company, 2018, ISBN 978-1-4746-1028-5, available from Whitcoulls

Eric Idle is one of my favourite comedians and the Monty Python group was my favourite TV programmes many years ago.

I love the song of the same title as this book, written for the movie "The Life of Brian". I know the words and was well known for singing it out very loudly, particularly after overindulging. It became my anthem.

I quote from the book

            "This book is partly the story of that song and partly the story of a boy who became me - if you like the memoirs of a failed pessimist."

This book is full of funny comments. I love it. I found myself giggling out loud very often much to my wife's annoyance. I tried to put some quotes into this review but there are too many.

The only difference between him and I is that he is a successful comedian and I'm not.

This book is well worth the price it cost Robert. I enjoyed it.

Peter Nash

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