iwiKiwi

A Kiwi in search of her Irish, English & Scottish tribes

Tag: Clarke

The Travelling Genie

It’s been over a month since we arrived back from a family trip to the UK, where I managed to squeeze in a few genealogy-related activities.

While our main reason for visiting was to see family and friends, the timing of our visit was so I could attend the award ceremony for my Advanced Diploma in Local History at the beautiful Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education, 2019 Award Ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre

University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education, 2019 Award Ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre

I would absolutely recommend the course – just be prepared to give up your life while you’re doing it!  There was a lot of reading. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. You’d start off on one book or article and then disappear down a rabbit hole of footnotes and references until your eyes weeped from tiredness. The assignments were evenly spaced throughout the year, though there was also the unit homework to complete as well (did anyone ever finish it all?), and the weekly online tutorial chats to attend. These were relatively informal, but just like with the online course forum, I suffered a little from imposter syndrome and was reticent about posting much.  Which was all very daft, as the students and tutors were welcoming and generous. It was often a struggle fitting in studying with holding down a day job combined with family responsibilities, but oh, the joy in learning and having my eyes opened! And the opportunity to combine my love of history with a love of data wrangling and analysis. It was definitely the most intense and challenging course I have ever undertaken.


After Oxford, it was on to Leicester – where the Guild of One-Name Studies was celebrating its 40th birthday as part of its annual conference, and happily the dates coincided with our travels. The conference organisers had arranged an optional tour of the Richard III visitors’ centre and nearby cathedral, and it was a great chance to peer down into the spot where Richard’s body had been discovered, and also to see his impressive final resting place.

The tomb of Richard III, Leicester Cathedral

The tomb of Richard III, Leicester Cathedral

The conference itself was a combination of socialising and learning, with some fantastic presentations, including one from Simon Wills on ancestral travels by sea, Voyages from the Past. I’ve now since bought his book of the same name. (A fuller review of the conference appears in July’s Guild Journal.)


Before my trip, I had decided I would focus my research on my 3 x great grandfather, John Clark(e), and I spent a couple of days at The National Archives at Kew and three days in Belfast, chasing him up in muster rolls, pension payment records, and parish registers.  Which John Clark was he – Thing 1 or Thing 2??

John Clark (1) and (2) in the muster rolls for 74th Regiment of Foot

John Clark (1) and (2), 74th Regiment of Foot muster roll, 1 Jul – 30 Sep 1846, WO 12/8099, National Archives (UK)

I had been to Belfast several times before, but never visited the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). On my first morning in the city I stopped in at the Ulster Historical Foundation to see about booking a research consultation. Fortunately there was a researcher available right then and there, and Gillian Hunt was a huge help in reviewing what I’d already found and suggesting ways forward in my research, as well as finding a baptism I hadn’t come across.  I’d really recommend doing this, especially if it’s your first time in Belfast, though at busier times you’d need to book an appointment in advance.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Belfast

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Belfast

The facilities at PRONI are fabulous and the staff incredibly helpful.  It’s located in the Titanic Quarter, not far from the Titanic museum, and I opted to stay in the city centre, about a 30 minute walk away. The Hop-on Hop-off City Sightseeing bus travels through the area regularly, and on my last afternoon I hopped on and took a tour around the city before heading to the airport.


The last genealogical event I attended was Family Tree LIVE at Alexandra Palace in London at the end of April.  After a dearth of similar events last year due to the closure of WDYTYA? Live, suddenly there’s a whole heap of genie treats this year, and I was thrilled to sneak this in to our trip.

Queuing up to get in to Family Tree Live, Alexandra Palace, London

Family Tree LIVE, Alexandra Palace, London

The venue was fantastic, and although there were few nearby eating and sleeping options, there was parking available plus shuttle buses from Wood Green underground station.  I thought the atmosphere was wonderful, and it was lovely to catch up with many genie friends and put faces to Twitter handles. The range of talks was excellent – highlights for me were Pam Smith’s presentation on her one-place study of Rillington, and Jonny Perl’s chromosome mapping with his DNA Painter tool.


Back on this side of the planet now and there’s lots to look forward to!  My father is celebrating his 80th birthday and the launch of his family history book this month. August is Family History month in Australasia, and I’m heading to Auckland for the Family History Expo there, and have also booked for the DNA Down Under three day event in Sydney at the end of August.

Mary Jane’s grave ~ (Not so) Wordless Wednesday

Last week I posted a couple of photos of Brockley Cemetery in Lewisham. This is where my great great grandmother, Mary Jane (Clarke) Freeth/Wright/Carroll, was buried in 1932.  I’d found her entry in the Greenwich Union death register and discovered she had been buried “by friends” in Brockley Cemetery1.  In May 2012 I contacted Lewisham Council and a lovely staff member there sent me Mary Jane’s burial details, as well as a map marked with the location of her grave. Eureka!

My mother was visiting from New Zealand at the time, and together we set off to find Mary Jane’s grave. This is what we were confronted with in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery:

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London - June 2012

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London – June 2012

You can see how overgrown the area was – it was almost impossible to read any of the gravestones, even where the inscriptions were still legible.  After an hour, we gave up the search.

My next step is to contact the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries, in the hope that they may be able to pinpoint the grave location more accurately. And to buy some heavy-duty gardening tools.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Board of Guardians, Workhouse Woolwich Road (Greenwich Union, London, England), “Register of Deaths”, Mary Carroll death, 12 Feb 1932; digital images; Ancestry.com, London, England, Deaths & Burials 1813-1980 (http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 23 Jun 2011).

Mary Jane gets hitched

I’ve been searching for my great great grandmother Mary Jane Clarke‘s first marriage on and off for some time. I’m not sure why I’d never thought to search the Irish Civil Registration Indexes on FamilySearch before now.  Possibly because I didn’t know they were there!

I’d done a search on Ancestry, which hadn’t brought up anything, and I’d searched on FreeBMD as well, thinking it would have been registered in England.  Nada. Mary Jane’s birth was before civil registration started in Ireland, so I was hoping that if I could find the marriage certificate for her first marriage, it might tell me a little bit more about her and her father. By the time of her second marriage, to my great great grandfather Ephraim Wright in 1882, her father was deceased.

The one place I hadn’t looked for a marriage was in perhaps the most obvious place – where their first child had been born! Mary (Mollie) Freeth gave her birthplace as Co Meath in the 1891 England census, when she was living with her mother, stepfather Ephraim, and half-siblings. Her birthyear was around 1877.1 Her brother Percy had been born the following year in 1878 in Aldershot, Hampshire, and it was his birth certificate that had given me Mary Jane’s first husband’s full name – James Freeth.2

On the Friday before I was heading off to Dublin, I was compiling some notes for the trip and getting together some research goals. I re-read some of Donna Moughty’s blog posts on Irish research, which prompted me to look at FamilySearch’s Irish Civil Registration indexes. I found a marriage for a James Freeth in Navan, Co Meath, in 1877. I then searched on my great great grandmother’s maiden name, Mary Jane Clarke, and found a similar marriage record for her – and the volume and page numbers matched! Eureka!3

So, I had all the information I needed to order a photocopy of the marriage record from the General Register Office’s research facility in Dublin.  You can do searches of the indexes there, at a cost.  Much handier to do your searching online for free.

When I received the photocopied record, I was excited to see lots of information I didn’t have.  The marriage took place at the Roman Catholic Chapel of Navan on 05 February 1877.  Mary Jane was 22 years of age, living in Railway Street in Navan, and worked as a servant.  Her father John Clarke’s occupation was listed as ‘Soldier’ – a fantastic lead to follow up.  James was 23 and also a soldier – a sergeant with the 94th Regiment, living in Navan Barracks.  Witnesses were Wm. Smith, Corporal 94th Regiment and Franny Carroll.4

  1. “1891 England Census, Ephraim Wright (age 30) household, St Paul Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/, accessed 01 Oct 2010), citing PRO RG12/494, folio 67, p 63, GSU roll: 6095604, Greenwich registration district, St Paul Deptford sub-registration district, ED 2, household 323, 05 Apr 1891.
  2. England, birth certificate for Percy Freeth; 31 Aug 1878, Farnham; citing Sep 1878 [quarter] 2a [vol] 111 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  3. “Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958,” index, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 May 2011), from General Register Office.
  4. Ireland, marriage certificate for James Freeth and Mary Jane Clarke; 05 Feb 1877, Navan, Co Meath; citing No. 25, vol 2, p 960, General Register Office, Ireland.

This is the Face of Genealogy

Mary Jane Carroll (previously Wright, previously Freeth, formerly Clarke)

Mary Jane Carroll (previously Wright, previously Freeth, formerly Clarke)

This is my great great grandmother.  If it hadn’t been for genealogy, I would never have known about this wonderful woman, and my life would be all the poorer for that.

This post is in response to a recent article published by LAWeekly.

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