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January 14, 2009

Looking to the Past

I heard on the news this morning that the 1911 census of England and Wales has been released to the public and is available online. Evidently enterprising people have already checked out David Beckham and Amy Winehouse’s ancestors.

Pre-writing days I was very interested in genealogy and have done quite a bit of research on my family. My father’s family came from Cheshire in England. There’s also a bit of Irish ancestory there as well as Welsh. My father’s family were farmers and until my generation that trend continued. My brother is an engineer while I went into accountancy before I started writing full time. My sister lives on the farm and is closest to being a farmer, but she works full-time as a banker as well.

My mother’s family came from England – Warwickshire to be exact – and were farmers. My mother’s side of the family includes ancestors who were shipped to Australia as convicts. John Fawkner was a convicted felon, transported for receiving stolen goods. He took his family with him to Australia on board the HMS Calcutta. John’s son, John Pascoe Fawkner was one of the founders of Melbourne. I have in my bookcase a very interesting biography written by CP Billot about his life. He was a bit of a skelliwag and got into trouble as well.

Here’s the link to the 1911 census.

And to finish off – here’s an ad from New Zealand that proves it’s not always a good idea to look to the past!

Are you interested in genealogy? Have you researched your family history?


  1. Emma Petersen

    Hehe. I was just blogging about La Vie en Rose. How I love that song but it’s weird, I’ve never care for the english version.

    I am the unofficial keeper of our family history. It was my mother before me and my nan before her and my nan’s nan. Hehe.

    And lol @ that vid. That is too cute.

  2. Wylie

    Very cool! My mother came from the Ukraine as a very young child so I (and she) know little about her ancestors beyond her own parents. What I do know is that life was DAMN hard in feudal Russia so my gp’s borrowed money for the long journey to Canada and led an equally hard life trying to pay it back.
    I can’t even imagine! Sure, I emigrated, but in the era of long-distance and email.

  3. Amy Ruttan

    Oh lord there’s a book on my family geneaology. Written by Henry Ruttan, one of my father’s distant cousins. It was written and published like a year before I was born. Drat. So I’m not in there, and Henry’s dead.

    It traces back to the 1400 or 1500’s. My Dad’s family came from France, were booted out for not being Catholics, they fled to England and then came over to Pennsylvania and intermingled with some Dutch, then were booted out of America for being United Empire Loyalists. They came up through Prince Edward County Ontario and founded Adolphustown and stuff.

    My great, great, great grandfather or something like that was a Captain in the war of 1812 against the Americans, and he was one of the men who blew up old Fort York in Toronto with a bunch of American’s inside it. His portrait hangs there, Captain Peter Ruttan.

    My own grandfather was born 1885 (I never knew him) and helped build the railroad North to Moosenee Ontario, he also knew Tom Thomson the famed Group of Seven artist who was murdered, and in fact was around for the investigation of the murder. He as 60 some odd years when my own father was born.

    My mother’s family, not much is known. My mother’s father’s father emigrated from England either before or just after WWI. I think before, because he fought at Vimy Ridge and survived, and that was a Canadian battle.

    I’ll stop rambling. ;)

  4. Jennifer Shirk

    Ha! That was cute. :mrgreen:

    I’ve never researched my family history but I do enjoy hearing stories my mom has from “the old country” (lithuania).

  5. Karen Erickson

    I’m definitely interested but it’s one of those things I haven’t made time to do yet. And I should. Sigh…so many things to do, so little time!

  6. julia

    I love genealogy – so Wow! Wow! to Wylie and Amy for your comments.

    Shelley, I’m writing a novel where the two main characters end up transported to Tasmania. I always feel for those enforced emigrants, many of whom were merely poor and not even convicts as we would think of them.

    I’ve done my family history back to the early 1600’s in France. I’m 13 generations here in Nova Scotia. I also have native Mi’kmaq in my family line. I would love to find out what their real names were, as they’re always listed as ‘Marie’ when they married into the French Acadian families.

    My ancestors were deported from Nova Scotia in a deal between England and France in the mid-1700’s, but two generations later they all came back.

  7. julia

    Oh – how could I forget to mention the commercial – your New Zealand commercials are hilarious, Shelley.

  8. Shelley Munro

    Emma – I like the French version better too, but I think the song really fit the video. :mrgreen: We have some great ads down here. I always grimace at US ads when I visit.

    Wylie – I often think about how brave our ancestors were, setting off for the unknown in flimsy sailing ships.

    Amy – it sounds like your family history is very interesting.

    Jennifer – I always enjoyed hearing family stories. There was one that said we were related to Sir Francis Drake. According to my research so far – no – but I haven’t got that far back. Writing sort of got in the way!

  9. Shelley Munro

    Karen – delegate the job to a cousin. :lol:
    Oral history is always fun. I think it’s important we talk to our oldies – even though it’s often something as kids we don’t enjoy. We’d rather be out playing with our friends.

    Julia – yes, the convict life was very hard, and as you say they were often transported for very minor offences. Some of my ancestors ended up in Tasmania. That’s where the Calcutta went. We’ve actually visited Tasmania and it’s very interesting. Life at Port Arthur must have been horrid.

  10. Lisa N.

    My mom is currently researching our geneology. We can trace certain lines back almost 200 years and 11 generations in some parts. It’s interesting, but since I hear about it so much, I’m kind of getting bored with it. Of course, it is interesting because I have discovered that I am related in one way or another to most of the people who live in the rural areas of our county!

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