Greg’s English roots

The subject of yesterday’s post was the information about ethnicity said to be derivable from a person’s DNA, mine in this case.

Today I thought I would look at the ethnicity conclusions extracted from my husband Greg’s DNA data to see whether these are consistent with what we know independently about his family tree: to see how Greg’s DNA ethnicity compares with his documented descent. I have enough tested matches between his known cousins and people with whom Greg shares DNA to be reasonably sure his paper-trail tree matches his genetic tree for several generations back.

I know the birthplaces of all of Greg’s great-great grandparents. Twelve were born in England, two in Ireland, one in New Zealand of English parents, and the other in Australia of English parents. Most of his English forebears were from the south of England. There is no hint in what we know of their surnames, religion, or occupations to suggest that Greg’s great-great grandparents were recent migrants from outside the region.

AncestryDNA reports Greg’s genetic ancestry as 100% European:

  •  78% Great Britain
  •  11% Ireland
  •  7% Europe West
  •  3% Iberian Peninsula
  •  1% Europe East
Greg’s ethnicity estimate as predicted by AncestryDNA 22 July 2017 (click to enlarge)

Greg’s mother, who believed that some of her Cornish ancestors had come from Spain, would have been very interested in this. The ethnicity results seem to suggest that there was indeed an Iberian connection of some sort (though not necessarily through Cornwall).

MyHeritage also reports Greg’s ethnicity as 100% European:

  •  North and West Europe 96.4%
    •  Irish, Scottish, and Welsh 46.0%
    •  North and West European 29.5%
    •  English 16.5%
    •  Scandinavian 4.4%
  •  South Europe 2.6%
    •  Iberian 2.6%
  •  Ashkenazi Jewish 1.0%
Greg’s ethnicity estimate from MyHeritage as at 23 July 2017

AncestryDNA has recently added a new feature, which it calls ‘Genetic Communities’. Ancestry predicts at the 95% confidence level that Greg belongs to the ‘Southern English Genetic Community’. This certainly matches his family tree. 71 people with whom Greg shares DNA, including Greg’s first cousin, several second cousins, and known third cousins, have also been linked to the Southern English Genetic Community.

Greg’s connection to the Southern English Genetic Community

AncestryDNA attempts to provide support for its notion of a ‘Southern English Genetic Community’ with a brief history of the region, noting that in the early nineteenth century London was the largest city in the world, that many people emigrated from London and southern England to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S.A.

The Ancestry website links people in Greg’s pedigree to the ‘Southern English Genetic Community’ through their birthplaces, broadly indicated on a large-scale map.

screenshot showing Greg’s pedigree and associated birthplaces overlaid with the Southern English community data for the early 19th century
screenshot showing Greg’s family tree data combined with the Southern English genetic community pedigree. Many of Greg’s forebears from Southern England did indeed migrate to Australia in the 1850s and siblings or cousins migrated to America and Canada (Immigration in the 1850s was by sea).

I think that when it is placed in context with genetic relatives and historical events, the ‘Genetic Community’ interpretation of family history specific to our family tree is impressive and convincing. It agrees with what I have found in my own family history research.

Greg, however, is being difficult. He says his ethnicity is dinky-di Aussie, and the best thing you could say about all these Southern Poms is that they were (unwittingly) proto-Australians.

Related posts

Further reading

  • AncestryDNA have provided a white paper on ethnicity testing. It is dated October 2013. It talks about reference panels based on 3,000 samples from “individuals alive today who can trace their ancestry to a single geographic location.”
  • MyHeritage also provide information about how they calculate the ethnicity estimate: MyHeritage compares my DNA with the DNA of living people around the globe whose genetic ethnicity is known and refers to these people as the Founder Populations. MyHeritage claims that they have sampled the DNA of thousands of people and have a data set of more than 100 ethnicities and the ability to show ancestral roots with far greater resolution than any other DNA service.

Looking at my ethnicity as determined by DNA testing

Besides its use in genealogical research, DNA testing is also employed for a simpler purpose: people have their DNA analysed to find out where their family is from, to trace their ethnicity.

I thought it might be interesting to compare the ethnicity predictions from my own DNA test results with what I know about my family tree. I have enough tested matches between documented forbears and people with whom I share DNA to be reasonably sure I’m getting it right.

Map from MyHeritage showing events from my family tree overlaid with my ethnicity estimate. The events are arranged by country. (click on image to enlarge)

My mother is from Germany. On her side of the family five of my great great grandparents were born in Brandenburg, two in Baden-Württemberg and one in Schleswig-Holstein. Based on their occupations, surnames, and religion, I have no reason to believe their immediate ancestors were from other parts of Europe.

On my father’s side, five of my great great grandparents were born in Australia. Of my 64 paternal fifth great grandparents:

  • 21 were English 33% or 16% of my DNA
  •  17 born Scotland 27% or 13% of my DNA
  •  18 from Ireland, though this may include some Anglo-Irish 28% or 14% of my DNA
  •  4 from Wales 6% or 3% of my DNA
  •  2 from the Isle of Man 3% or 1.5% of my DNA
  •  1 from France 1.5% or < 1% of my DNA
  •  1 English but of French Huguenot extraction 1.5% or < 1% of my DNA

AncestryDNA predicts my ethnicity to be 100% European:

  • 59% from Great Britain, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man
  • 20% Europe East
  • 12% from Ireland
  • 4% from Finland / North-west Russia
  • 2% from Europe-West
  • 2% from Italy/Greece
  • <1% from the Iberian peninsula

These results appear to underestimate the German contribution to my DNA mix. I’m not sure why.



My genetic ancestry as reported by AncestryDNA on 22 July 2017. The orange  region is the genetic community “Munster Irish” which AncestryDNA calculates I “possibly” belong to. I will make that the subject of a separate blog post. (Click on image to enlarge).

MyHeritage also provides an ethnicity estimate. I uploaded the same data I had submitted to AncestryDNA to MyHeritage. The result: 100% European:

  • North and West Europe 80.1%
    • English 73%
    • Irish, Scottish, Welsh 7.1%
  • East Europe 13.5%
    • East European 11%
    • Baltic 2.5%
  • South Europe 6.4%
    •  Italian 6.4%
Ethnicity estimate from MyHeritage retrieved 22 July 2017

AncestryDNA and MyHeritage draw different conclusions from the same data. They agree I am 100% European, but differ considerably in the regional proportions.

I don’t think these ethnicity estimates are well defined. Where does ‘southern’ Europe start? What does ‘Baltic’ mean? And how reliable are the estimates? Where does the 6% Italian come from? Were some of my English forebears descended from the Roman invaders? What’s the connection between ancient Rome and modern Italy?

To me there’s nothing very interesting about the ethnicity results and there’s certainly nothing in them at this time to guide my research.

Further reading

  • AncestryDNA have provided a white paper on ethnicity testing. It is dated October 2013. It talks about reference panels based on 3,000 samples from “individuals alive today who can trace their ancestry to a single geographic location.”
  • MyHeritage also provide information about how they calculate the ethnicity estimate: MyHeritage compares my DNA with the DNA of living people around the globe whose genetic ethnicity is known and refers to these people as the Founder Populations. MyHeritage claims that they have sampled the DNA of thousands of people and have a data set of more than 100 ethnicities and the ability to show ancestral roots with far greater resolution than any other DNA service.
Related posts

Learning more about German genealogical research

My mother, born in Berlin, now an Australian, still has a few German family documents, and for me these have been a valuable source of information about my German forebears, her side of the our family. However, most of what I know about about my German ancestors I learned directly from my German grandfather, who was happy to answer my family history questions. When I started researching this branch of the family I also found some good leads in the International Genealogical Index (I.G.I.) microform indexes prepared by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Researching German sources from Australia is difficult, of course, and there is much more information online about our British forebears. So I look forward to attending a day’s session in August about German genealogical resources and methods for Australian researchers, hosted by Unlock the Past. The main speaker will be Dirk Weissleder, a genealogy consultant, who is national chairman of the Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbände e.V. (D.A.G.V.) (at, the umbrella organisation of the genealogical and heraldic associations in Germany. He is President of the Federation of Family Associations (Bund der Familienverbände, BdF). Herr Wiessleder has written extensively about genealogical research in Germany. See, for example,

In Melbourne Herr Wiessleder will be speaking about primary and secondary resources on genealogy in German and about European research generally. He will also be talking about the International German Genealogical Partnership,, and on archives, libraries and institutions for genealogical researchers in Germany.

Herr Weissleder will speak in Melbourne on Saturday 19 August.

The Roadshow costs $57 for a single day if the ticket is purchasedahead of time, or $60 on the day. On Friday 18 August, a Scottish researcher, Chris Paton,  will be speaking on British Isles research. A combined ticket for the two days is $90. Herr Wiessleder will also be visiting Brisbane, Auckland, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.

Disclosure: I have accepted the opportunity to participate in the Unlock the Past Researching Abroad Roadshow 2017 as a Roadshow Ambassadress and agreed to promote the Roadshow in return for free entry. I will write again after the session on what I have learned.

Discovering a DNA cousin through Wikitree and confirming with GedMatch

In the year since we received our autosomal DNA results I have explored various tools to help me keep track of the results: to help me find new cousins with whom we share DNA and to show how our document-based trees connect.

One of the tools I have used is Wikitree is a single tree grown using traditional genealogical sources and DNA. It currently has more than 14.6 million profiles added by more than 430,000 genealogists. Wikitree has some useful DNA tools to help make sense of your DNA results.

screenshot of the front page of

I have added information about our direct forebears to Wikitree. I added each forebear manually, and this meant revisiting the facts and checking that I had reliable sources for dates, places and relationships. I did not merely upload a GEDCOM file. I wanted to review relationships and I did not want to create duplicates. Wikitree has a single profile for each person. It is important to remember that none of us own our ancestors and we need to work with others on the information we attach to each profile. In fact we benefit from working with other descendants.

In addition to adding your forebears to Wikitree, you can add details of the DNA tests you have taken. Wikitree adds the information that you have taken the test to all blood relatives within eight degrees of separation — up to sixth great-grandparents and out to third cousins. You don’t upload the contents of the DNA results, just the fact that you have taken the DNA test and information that will help potential matches find you in each testing company’s database.

Recently I was contacted by Simon Bass, a distant cousin, who has also been adding his forebears to Wikitree. (Note Simon reviewed this post as a draft and following publication and is happy for me to blog about this case study.)  Simon has found that he seems to have a DNA connection to my husband’s family. Both my husband Greg and Greg’s brother Dennis have had their DNA tested and added their information to Wikitree. Simon is descended from Elizabeth Gilbart née Huthnance (abt 1774-1847) and her husband John Gilbart (abt 1761-1837). When adding their daughter Catherine’s details to the tree, linking Catherine to Elizabeth and John who were already on the tree, Simon noticed that Wikitree had a section on DNA connections on the right hand side of the screen.

Wikitree profile of John Gilbert (abt 1761-1837) retrieved from on 15 July 2017. (click to enlarge)

Simon wrote to me and, despite testing with different companies, we were able to compare our kits on . Our biological cousinship was confirmed. provides DNA analysis tools for genealogists including tools for comparing your own DNA test results with those of other people in the GedMatch public database. To use these tools you must first upload your DNA test results to GedMatch. GedMatch accepts results from, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, 23 and Me, and WeGene.

GedMatch one to one comparison of DNA shared by Simon Bass and Dennis Young. Simon and Dennis share DNA on two chromosomes. Based on the size of the match it is estimated that there are six generations to their most recent common ancestor. Their relationship based on our document-based family tree is 5th cousins which is six generations to the most common recent ancestor, the prediction based on shared DNA is in line with our genealogy.

Since this first exchange of information Simon has shared photos with me of his trip back to St Erth in Cornwall, where the Gilbart and Huthnance families came from. We have also exchanged notes on the emigration of various members of the Gilbart family to Australia.

Wikitree made it easy for us to see that our document-based trees connected and showed that we had taken DNA tests. Having uploaded our test results to, we could compare test results and see if there was a likely biological connection.

If there had been no shared DNA it would not have disproved that there was a relationship. It just meant that the same segments of DNA had not been inherited by Simon and his cousins Greg and Dennis.

Simon, Greg and Dennis are 5th cousins since they share 4th great grandparents. There is a nearly 70% chance that any two fifth cousins will not share a detectable level of DNA. ( ) In fact Greg’s brother Dennis shares DNA with Simon but Greg does not.

Related posts

DNA testing results one year on

To see what DNA testing might show about our family history, in June last year my husband Greg and I submitted samples of our DNA to for autosomal DNA analysis. Greg also took a Y-DNA test through the Family Tree DNA company.

What did I hope to learn?

I had no particular questions about my side of the tree that I thought DNA tests might answer, though I did hope that I might find some of my relatives on my mother’s side who, I had been told, had emigrated from Germany to the USA.

My mother was born in Berlin. After WWII when there wasn’t enough to eat, food parcels addressed to her family began to arrive from the United States, sent—she was told—by her American cousins.  When I talked to her about my DNA testing she was a little sceptical but she thought it would be interesting to trace her American relations.

On Greg’s side of the tree there were some dead ends that I hoped DNA analysis might provide a way around. In May 2016 I blogged about these in a post [Poor little chap], with a hypothesis about the parents of Greg’s great grandfather Henry Sullivan (1862-1943).

When our test results came back I quickly found some meaningful matches on Greg’s tree. Some of his cousins had tested too, and we were able to make links between our pre-DNA trees and the DNA information.

I started a spreadsheet to record these matches and, to confirm the links I had found, I sent messages through AncestryDNA’s system to people who appeared to have matching results.

My spreadsheet has these fields:

  • Who took the test – me, my husband, a cousin
  • Match name and/ or Nickname (for Ancestry, GEDmatch, My Heritage, 23andMe alternate names)
  • Company or companies testing
  • point of contact – sometimes the kit is managed by someone other than the person who provided the sample
  • Email address for match or contact
  • Received – when I receive a message or email to help me remember and track messages
  • Notes – always a handy field
  • Line, if known, or grouping of tests- family line, sometimes I know the line from shared matches or other clues, otherwise I can group tests which share matches
  • MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) – I enter the 2 surnames of the couple I also use Ahnentafel numbers at the beginning of the field which are handy for sorting generations
  • Cousin (cousinship) – eg: 3C or 4C-1R
  • estimated relationship
  • shared surnames
  • linked tests (shared matches)
  • Tree – copy in the URL of any tree or site for the match’s tree
  • GEDmatch ID number of match
  • Chromosome summary
  • GedMatch Autosomal Comparison – copy and paste from the Gedmatch comparison (this can get a bit lengthy and detailed so I don’t always include it)

A screenshot of the first 11 rows of my spreadsheet where I track matches. I sort the spreadsheet on most recent common ancestor and since the Ahnenetafel number is used to begin the field, the spreadsheet is sorted with more recent ancestors first. (click on image to enlarge)

I also used the ‘Notes’ field on AncestryDNA when I had contacted the match and added a star to matches so that I could see at a glance who I had contacted, when I contacted them, and the likely match.

A screenshot of an AncestryDNA match where our trees correspond and the most common recent ancestors are identified. There is a yellow star on the top left hand side of the screen which can be used to identify matches of interest. The notes field in the middle of the screen can be used to summarise contact, GedMatch numbers and likely shared ancestry.
A screenshot of a DNA match where our trees on ancestry do not intersect. In fact I have identified the most common recent ancestors through correspondence with another cousin and shared DNA. Although I messaged using the green “Send Message” button in the top right hand corner, the cousin did not reply. I also unsuccessfully used the brown “Contact” button on the top right of the screen for the Ancestry Profile – see screenshot below.

Initially my DNA matches meant nothing to me. There seemed to be little connection between my DNA matches and my document-based tree.

However, over the last year I have received replies from people we share DNA with, and have been able to compare our family trees and determine where they intersect. For many of these matches, I have been able to draw some conclusions as to our likely most recent common ancestors, particularly when several of us share the same DNA and have intersecting document-based trees. So far we have more than 30 matches where we can identify the most recent ancestors we share.

DNA has added to the evidence I have used to build and document my family tree. To date I have not found any DNA-based evidence which suggests my document-based tree is inaccurate. Unfortunately I have yet to find any cousins sharing DNA on my mother’s side of the family.

Our family tree showing points on the tree where we have common ancestors with  cousins who  share DNA. (You can click to enlarge, but the tree has been reduced in size and individual forebears are not legible)

Related posts
The Legal Genealogist observes in her post of July 2 2017 That YDNA lament “you can’t be matched to somebody who hasn’t tested” and that there are good reasons for the lack of German DNA matches to date.

Trove Tuesday: Flying the Kangaroo route in 1949

Qantas Kangaroo Route Advertisement 1948 retrieved from Pinterest

Most migrants to Australia, including immigrants in my family, came here by sea. My grandfather is an exception. He arrived by air.

Hans Boltz was born on 4 July 1910 in Berlin, where he trained at the State Institute for map drawing as a cartographer. From 1930 to the beginning of World War II he worked for the Prussian Geological State Institute (Geological Survey of Prussia or Preußischen Geologischen Landesanstalt). After the war, when he found his way back to Berlin, he discovered that this building, in Invalidenstraße 44, was situated in the Russian zone. Hans lived in the American zone and, reluctant to travel every day into the Russian-occupied part of the city or move there, he resigned. In 1948 he applied for work with the Australian government, which at the time was recruiting Germans with qualifications and skills in short supply in Australia. He got a job as a cartographer with the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources.

Berlin, Mitte, Invalidenstraße 44, Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung
Invalidenstraße 44 in Berlin-Mitte, the building of the former Geological Survey of Prussia. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Hans Boltz’s file created by the Department of Post War Reconstruction includes the dates of his journey from Berlin to Canberra:

  • Wednesday 13 July 1949 left Germany for London
  • Sunday 7 August 1949 left London
  • Thursday 11 August 1949 arrived Canberra via Sydney
  • Friday 12 August 1949 commenced working for the Bureau of Mineral Resources.
NAA: MT105/8, 1/6/4531 Page 2 of 143 (click to enlarge image)

In the late 1980s with the help of my grandfather Hans I spent some time compiling my family tree on my mother’s side. I had bought a book in 1978 called The History of our Family, published by Poplar Books of New Jersey. This had a series of templates for recording family history. One of these was for immigration.

Decades afterwards, my grandfather remembered very clearly his trip from Berlin and his arrival, on 11 August 1949.


I summarised my grandfather’s recollections as follows:

Hans Fritz Boltz emigrated from Berlin to Canberra 11 . 8 . 1949
Aeroplane – Berlin – Hamburg – London 4 weeks London
museums / concerts … wandering around sightseeing
London – Cairo – Karachi – Singapore – Darwin – Sydney –
Helopolis Hotel Cairo  Raffles Hotel Singapore  Qantas flight

In London my grandfather was given English lessons. He was not just a tourist.

Qantas Sydney-London Constellation route map retrieved from Pinterest

On Trove I have found an advertisement for the route in August 1949.

AUSTRALIA-ENGLAND CONSTELLATION SERVICE (1949, August 4). Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (Sydney, NSW : 1891 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved July 4, 2017, from


A Qantas Empire Airways Constellation airliner, photographed by Frank Hurley retrieved from

In 2007 Qantas celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Kangaroo route. This video includes footage of the journey on the Lockheed Constellation aeroplanes. The first flight on the route had departed 1 December 1947.

The journey took four days, 55 hours of flying time. There were two overnight stops, one in Cairo and the other in Singapore. In Cairo my grandfather stayed at the Heliopolis Palace Hotel. In Singapore at the Raffles. There were 29 passengers and 11 crew.

Poster for the Heliopolis Palace Hotel retrieved from Palace intrigue: Egypt in the Golden Age of Travel


COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Entree van het Raffles Hotel Singapore TMnr 60018239
Raffles Hotel in 1932. Image from Wikimedia Commons

The airfare in 1949 was £260 sterling. By way of comparison my grandfather’s salary on starting with the Australian Public Service as an experienced cartographer was £222 a year and the average earnings for men in Australia was about £220 a year. The Australian government paid my grandfather’s fare.


Related posts

Trove Tuesday: Kathleen’s birthday

Today is the anniversary of the birth of my grandmother Kathleen Cudmore, who was born 27 June 1908, 109 years ago. She died 11 June 2013, aged 104.

An action snapshot of Miss K. Cudmore, who returned a card of 95 at Seaton [Royal Adelaide Golf Club] yesterday in the second round of the club championship.

Women Golfers At Seaton: Low Tide At Millbrook: Picturesque Links: Thrills Of The Speed Track: Shot From A Bunker (1930, June 18). The Register News-Pictorial (Adelaide, SA : 1929 – 1931), p. 12. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

Related posts

250 posts later

In writing on the Web about my family – I have just submitted my 250th blog post – I try to go beyond just listing names and dates and adding relatives to my tree.

How have I gone about my research and what have I noticed along the way?

My method is to be thorough. When I prepare a blog, I revisit any earlier work I might have done and check my notes and the original records. There’s always more to know on any subject, and often there’s something new to say, though I do feel that despite more research I can’t help thinking that I don’t know and understand my more remote ancestors any better than I did. I certainly don’t feel more Scottish or Irish, for example, despite confirming Celtic DNA in my blood.

More than any other topic, I have written about my forebears and relatives who have my maiden name Champion de Crespigny. Because this surname is uncommon it’s easier to research. People with the name Champion de Crespigny are certainly related to me and to one another.

I have enjoyed being inspired by ‘Sepia Saturday’ prompts and by ‘Trove Tuesday’. It’s great fun to explore the immense digitised repository ofthe National Library of Australia, especially its digitised newspapers.

For the last four years I have joined in the ‘A to Z Blogging Challenge’ in April. Trying to find ideas for every letter of the alphabet is not easy but it has lead to some fascinating research. For example, in the first Challenge, I was wondering what to write for the letter Z. My son suggested the Zulu wars. I knew my paternal grandmother’s Mainwaring relatives were in the army and sure enough I found a second cousin of mygreat great great grandfather who fought against the Zulus. I had heard of the Zulus, of course, but the blogging challenge led me to learn much more. It was fun and satisfying.

I used to enjoy historical novels, but now I can find real life history in my own family researches. Who needs fiction!?

And it’s everywhere. For example, next week our family is travelling to the Northern Territory for a short holiday. One of the main streets of Darwin is named after my great great grandfather Wentworth Cavenagh. I visited Darwin many years ago and knew of Cavenagh Street though I only learned about the family connection afterwards.

I’ve looked in Trove to learn more. On 13 January 1869 the SouthAustralian Advertiser, and other newspapers,  published instructions from W. Cavenagh, commissioner of Crown Lands, to Mr Goyder, the Surveyor-General, giving guidance to Goyder in his expedition to survey the Northern Territory. These instructions had been tabled in Parliament. The document was more of a mandate to proceed than detailed instructions. The SouthAustralian Register of 13 January 1869 notes that the instructions were in keeping with the Strangway’s Government’s laconic style. It was interested to see what Cavenagh’s role was and how it was interpreted by newspapers of the day.

In the unlikely event that someone asked for my advice about writing family history I’d say just go ahead and do it. It’s great fun.

Wentworth Cavenagh who, after being Commissioner of Crown Lands, served as Commissioner of Public Works of South Australia from 1872 to 1873. Image retrieved from the State Library of South Australia id  B 5622/17
Cavenagh Street Darwin photographed in 1915 by Ted Ryko: Chinese shops at the north west end of Cavenagh Street, Man Fong Lau in foreground. Photograph retrieved from Territory Stories ID PH0135/0045

Trove Tuesday: MCG not available for 1956 Olympics

Harry Lawson (1875-1952) was the cousin of my great grandmother Beatrix Champion de Crespigny née Hughes (1884-1943).

Lawson was a politician from Castlemaine, Victoria. He served as premier of Victoria from 1918 to 1924 and later, from 1928 to 1934, a senator in the Federal Parliament.

He was also a trustee of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

In 1952 the trustees of the Melbourne Cricket Ground refused to make the MCG available for the Olympics. They were concerned that “there was no guarantee that the ground could be reconsolidated afterwards, and this would upset cricket and football”

The trustees and politicians managed to come to an agreement early in 1953 and the MCG was the main stadium for the 1956 Olympics.

Lawson had died in June 1952 so was not party to the resolution of the issue.

Newspaper items 

Five books I refer to constantly when researching my family history

Jill Ball has suggested writing about five books  especially useful in your family history research.

One of my favourites is the Road to Divorce: England 1530-1987 by Lawrence Stone. Stone’s insights on marriage and divorce at different times in history have helped me enormously.

I referred to The Road to Divorce extensively when I was trying to understand the 1849 divorce of my great great great grandmother Charlotte Champion de Crespigny née Dana formerly James. In those days divorces were heard in two courts, the Court of Arches plus a suit for criminal conversation brought before the Queen’s Bench,  and also required an Act of Parliament by means of presenting a private bill before the House of Lords. It was extremely expensive to go through the process, and there were only about four divorces a year in England.

In 1987 Fairfax, Some and Weldon published Australians: A Historical Library. While there have been criticisms of the series, for example a 1988 review by Jenny Lee, I have gained a lot from the Historical Statistics volume edited by Wray Vamplew and to lesser extent to of the Events and Places volume. The statistics volume was useful to me when I was trying to understand more about the age at which women marry.

A most encouraging statistical picture of the reduction in the deaths as a result of pregnancy between 1908 and 1980 (click on image to enlarge).
some statistics on education (click on image to enlarge)

I have often referred to Angus Watson’s Lost & Almost Forgotten Towns of Colonial Victoria. I cited it in my post on Carngham. I bought this book direct from the author some years ago. It is now selling on-line for five times what I paid for it.

The page referring to Lamplough – there is a lot of history in the few facts and statistics. (click to enlarge)

I think reading about the context of our ancestor’s lives can be most illuminating.  At the moment I am reading London in the 18th century: A Great and Monstrous Thing by Jerry White. I borrowed it first from the library in an attempt to curtail my spending on books – but had to own it, it is so full of information and well written.

My husband Greg is reading Michael Cannon’s The Land Boomers which was passed recently to me by my father. He says it is fun. My turn next.

I constantly refer to the family histories written by my relatives. As a way of passing on family history, nothing beats a book!

Some of the family history books written by my relatives
I use LibraryThing to keep track of my books and  the books in my study are organised by the Dewey system.
So many books! So much reading!

Greg tells me however, that the Chinese say, 书山有路勤为径,学海无涯苦作舟, which means, roughly, ‘There is a path through the mountain of books. Work hard to find the way. The ocean of learning has no limit. Work hard to build a boat.’

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