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My passion is genealogy and family history. I host a podcast about Australian family history, Genies Down Under. In my day job, I work as a lecturer and a researcher in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

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Saturday, 9 January 2016

My family history 2015 achievements my 2016 to-do plans

As Jill Ball noted in her recent blogpost, GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 8 January 2016, I've been catching up on my blogging over the holidays or to use Jill's words, "blogging up a storm". So, in this blogpost, I've made a bit of a summary of what I have been able to achieve during these holidays and what jobs I still have to finish up (there will always be those unfinished jobs), now that the end of the holiday period for me is just a few days away.

These are the things that are have been done ...

Catching up with some of my favourite podcasts

Over the last year, my day job has taken over my life a bit. As a result, I've missed a lot of episodes of my favourite genealogy and history podcasts. So, during these holidays, I caught up on a few of my favourites, including:

Because I realised I'd missed out on so many podcast episodes myself over the last few months, I thought that some Genies Down Under listeners may also benefit from a blogpost that summarises last six months of my own Genies Down Under podcast episodes from July (Episode 45) to December 2015 (Episode 50):
Quick catch-up with the last 6 months of the Genies Down Under podcast

Lists in TROVE

Of course, there is a huge load of treasures to be found online at TROVE newspapers but to organise my finds and to reduce my time wasted on re-finds, I've started using lists in TROVE. Thanks to Barbara Kerson for reminding me about this very useful function in TROVE through her free E book - Getting the most out of Trove.

Facebook groups

Over the last few weeks, I've had some time to check in more regularly on the family-history groups I am part of. This not only reminds me that I'm part of a number of super-active genealogy groups, but it also reminds me of what's happening in genealogy and getting help when I get stuck. Some of the groups I belong to are:
  • Australian Local & Family History Bloggers
  • Lost Central West Towns-NSW
  • County Clare Ireland Genealogy
  • Australian Family History and Genealogy
  • Aussie Help For All Genealogy
  • Genealogy My Ancestors Came to Australia
  • Intro to Family History/Writing

Story books

I have loads of half-written genealogical stories that I'd like to finish and publish in Lulu.com format, so I have now organised the half-written files in one place. This way, they are easier to get my hands on to continue working on them. Here is the list of ancestors I am currently writing about:
  • My great grandparents, John Joseph WALTERS from Dublin, Ireland and Margaret FLEMING from County Kilkenny, Ireland
  • My great grandmother, Margaret BUTLER from County Clare, Ireland
  • The Northcotes of Western NSW, stories about my great uncles in the town of Dubbo, Orange, Kelso, Orange, Bourke
  • My great grandmother, Margaret Ann RILEY, daughter of a convict
  • The KINGSBURYs of County Dorset, England
  • My greatgrandfather, William Walter NORTHCOTE and his mysterious life

Choice of filename conventions

This is another job I've been meaning to do for years. After listening to loads of great advice from various podcasts and websites, I decided on a file naming convention for my own files. I had already decided on storing my files into two different broad sets of folders: 1) Graphics; and 2) General files. Within these, I store the files in folders by surnames and then by individual people with those surname folders. So, I'm happy with my folder naming conventions but have always been dissatisfied with my file naming methods. In short, they were messy and inconsistent, and didn't help me find files when I was looking for them.

So, I decided on this file naming format:
SURNAME first name year object location
For example:
WALTERS Thomas 1909 birth cert Chippendale.pdf
NORTHCOTE Margaret 1930 electoral roll Drummoyne.jpg 

Already, this method is making life easier and is especially helping me work out what documents and photos I already have and which ones I still need to purchase, find, look for etc.

Over the last month or so, I've made a start on changing my old, messy file names to my new "you-beaut" filenames. It will take a while, I expect.

Updated my genealogy bookmarks

Using my favourite browser, Chrome, I finally updated and reorganised my genealogy and blogging bookmarks.

Genealogy software

For quite a few years now, I haven't used any genealogical software except for my online trees at Ancestry and Findmypast. I tend to keep records about ancestors in Word documents and Excel files However, with all the talk of Family Tree software no longer being supported by Ancestry, I started thinking about using a genealogical software program again. In the distant past, I had used Family Tree Maker and still have some of these data files somewhere deep in my computer. So, I decided to do a bit of research to find out which genealogical software to use next. I listened to podcasts, downloaded a few trial versions, read websites and blogs, and spoke to my local family history group at Lake Macquarie (Lake Macquarie Family History Society) and ended up choosing Legacy Family Tree software. I'm happy with my choice and am making a huge effort with using this software to only include facts that I have proven. It's kind of fun to start using this software from scratch - learning something new while knowing that I'm only including family tree information that I know is evidence-based.

County Clare baptism records

I used the Catholic Parish Registers in Ireland, and information from my lost lost cousins in Sydney and Canada, to finally analyse and confirm the date of baptism (and to estimate the year of birth) of my great grandmother, Margaret BUTLER (1853-1946), and her siblings. I wrote a blogpost about the process: Success after a 20+ year search for a great-grandmother's baptism records.

The never ending to-do lists

Over these holidays, I have consolidated my many, many genealogy to-do lists into one to-do list for my own family history research and one to-do list for my Genies Down Under podcast work. While each of these lists are quite long, I've made them easier to navigate by categorising the to do jobs, adding hyperlinks for easy internal navigation, a lot of colour coding and appendices for detailed information.

Done a bit of blogging

After long spells of nothingness in my two family history blogs, here are some of the blogposts I've published recently at my Wishful Linking Family History blog and my Genies Down Under podcast blog:


And, these are the jobs that have not (yet) been done ...

Evernote software

I'd like to get to know how to use Evernote in more detail. I've listened to a few people talk about this software in glowing terms and I like the sound of it. It's installed on my computer and I've done some experimenting with it but I would like to get to know this software a little more in 2016 for family history research purposes.

Continue renaming my files

Using my newly developed file naming convention, I am currently working my way through renaming all of my graphic and other types of files.

Continue to populate Legacy with my ancestors' details

I'm really enjoying using this software, especially adding all of my sources and graphics.

Story writing

I'm continuing to finish my half-written stories and turn them into some shareable and possibly publishable formats.

Continue creating lists in Trove

Using lists in TROVE is a great way to organise searches and finds, and helps me not to redo positive and negative searches in the future.

Blogging ... always with the blogging

Now that I've jump-started blogging habits, I'm keen to continue my regular blogging habits at my Wishful Linking Family History blog and my Genies Down Under podcast blog. I'm aiming to blog once per month on each of these blogs in 2016.


What were your 2015 achievements and what are your 2016 "to-do" plans?

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

How much information can be revealed in probate records?

A lot of information can be revealed in a packet of probate records. Below is an analysis of the probate records of one of my great-grandmothers, Margaret KENEALLY (nee BUTLER).

Margaret was born in 1853 in a very small town called Doolough in County Clare, Ireland.

After her eldest brother, Michael, migrated to Australia in 1878, Margaret followed him in 1880, and many of her siblings joined them in later years (1882 and 1884). After marrying her husband, William Kennelley/Kennealy/ Keneally, in 1890 at St Augustine's Catholic Church in Balmain, Margaret lived most of her life in the Drummoyne area of Sydney, specifically in Renwick St and died at her daughter and son-in-law's home at Five Dock in 1946.

Margaret Kennealy (nee BUTLER) and William Kennealy
Note: Kennealy is also spelled Keneally, Kennelley, Kenneley

I would imagine that owning land and/or property would have been very important to both Margaret and her husband, William, since they came from very poor areas in Ireland. Over their lifetime in Sydney, they owned 4-5 properties in and around the Renwick area of Drummoyne.

Key terms in probate records

First of all, here are a couple of useful definitions of terms used in probate records, from Archives in Brief 84: Probate Packets, Useful definitions

A grant of probate is the authority given by the Supreme Court NSW to the executor(s) to deal with a deceased person's estate. Probate documents certify that a will is valid.
A person who dies leaving a valid will has died testate. They are often referred to as the testator.
A person who dies without leaving a valid will dies intestate. Without a valid will there is no named executor and the Supreme Court NSW issues a letter of administration. 

In the case of Margaret Kennealy, she was a testator because she made a will before she died.

Finding probate records

I searched online for Margaret Kennealy's probate records on the NSW Government State Records - Online Search site, under Probates.

A search on this site located Margaret Kennealy's probate records:

After I located her probate records online, I visited the Kingswood State Archives and was able to see and copy the original documents in her probate packet (about 35 pages).


Here is the information that Margaret Kennealy's probate records revealed.


The probate of the will of Margaret Kennealy was granted to Leo Bertie Bede Northcote on 10 September 1946. Leo Bertie Bede Northcote was the executor. He was Margaret Kennealy's son-in-law, her daughter's (Ellen Northcote, nee Kennealy) husband.

File details

The probate packet was number 317588 in the Supreme Court of NSW, Probate Jurisdiction.

Margaret's details

Margaret Kennealy's probate documents indicates she is known by three versions of her name:

  1. Margaret Kennealy
  2. Margaret Kenneally
  3. Margaret Kenelley

Margaret is referred to as being "late of Drummoyne near Sydney in NSW" and a widow.

Mrs Peile

On 13 August 1946, one of the neighbours who was well known to the family, Martha Anna Maria Peile of 20 Murralong Ave Five Dock, swore an oath that she was well acquainted with Margaret Keneally who had passed away on 4 August 1946 and that she had seen the dead body and wasn't interested in deceased person's estate. Mrs Peile also co-signed Margaret Kennealy's will the year before she died.

Her estate

It appears that £1991.5.3 (one thousand nine hundred and ninety one pounds five shillings and threepence) was the value of her estate when she died, including

Real estate: £1975
Furniture: £17 and 2s
Rents accrued: £2 and 15s
 Including rent for

  • no. 36 Renwick St, Drummoyne to the tenant, Mr Graham, weekly rental of  £1.5.0 (6 days). Amount accruel to date of death: £1.2.0
  •  no. 38 Renwick St, Drummoyne to the tenant, Mr Chapman, weekly rental of  17.6 (6 days). Amount accruel to date of death: 15s
  • no. 85 Renwick St, Drummoyne to the tenant, James Joseph Kennealy, weekly rental of  £1 (6 days). Amount accruel to date of death: 18s
From the above amount (£1991.5.3), the following debts had to be paid:
4 August 1946: Dr Max Stephens, Drummoyne. Medical fees: 12 shillings, 6 pence
4 August 1946: Aust. Gas Light Co., Sydney. Gas: 6 shillings, 5 pence
4 August 1946: Metrop. Water Board, Sydney. Water rates: £15 and 2s
4 August 1946: Municipality of Drummoyne, Drummoyne. Rates: £2 and 10s 10 pence
A total of  £17 and 12s and 10 pence (secured) and 12 s and 11 pence (unsecured)

The following four properties were listed as part of her estate:

26 Renwick St, Drummoyne which had been purchased on 24 December 1894
Lot 44 of Sec. 3, D.P. 862 Concord Parish, Cumberland County, 30 feet by 130 feet.
Vol. 1150, Folio 122.
Value: £500

In the Certificate of Valuation, application no. 31571, this property was referred to as "Killea". It was described as a double-fronted weatherboard cottage. Four rooms. Kitchen and offices. Iron roof.
[Note that this was the hometown of her husband, William Kennealy, in County Tipperary in Ireland.]
26 Renwick St, Drummoyne (photo taken 2009)

36 Renwick St, Drummoyne which had been purchased on 1 May 1894
Lot 39 of Sec. 3, D.P. 862 Concord Parish, Cumberland County, 30 feet by 125 feet
Vol. 1126, Folio 57
Value: £550

In the Certificate of Valuation, application no. 31574, this property was referred to as "Almaville". It was described as a double-fronted stone cottage. Four rooms, kitchen and offices. Slate roof.

36 Renwick St, Drummoyne (photo taken 2011)

38 Renwick St, Drummoyne which had been purchased on 23 August 1892
Lot 38 of Sec. 3, D.P. 862 Concord Parish, Cumberland County, 30 feet by 124 feet.
Vol. 1067, Folio 168.
Value: £350
In the Certificate of Valuation, application no. 31572, this property was described as a weatherboard cottage. Three rooms. Kitchen and offices. Iron roof.

38 Renwick St, Drummoyne (photo taken about 1995)

85 Renwick St, Drummoyne which had been purchased on 3 October 1895
Lot 111 of Sec. 2, D.P. 862 Concord Parish, Cumberland County, 30 feet by 125 feet
Vol. 1174, Folio 227
Value: £575

In the Certificate of Valuation, application no. 31573, this property was described as a double fronted brick cottage. Four rooms and kitchen and offices. Iron roof.

85 Renwick St, Drummoyne (photo taken 2009

The total value of these properties, according to the Valuer General's Certificates, was £1975 on 20 August 1946.

A very full account of the furniture and contents of her home, no. 26 Renwick St, were provided by Cashman and Company, Real Estate Auctioneers and Valuers. Most items were described as "old", "very old", "damaged", "old model" or "old fashioned". The items in the following rooms were listed and valued:
  • Entrance hall (old cane palm stand, old carpet runner and four old door mats)
  • Main bedroom (very old double iron bedstead and bedding, old single wardrobe with bevelled mirror and two drawers, old chest of drawers with bevelled mirror and eight drawers, old marble top wash stand with jug and basin - damaged, and two old odd chairs)
  • Second bedroom (two very old iron bedsteads and bedding, old chest of drawers with mirror attached and six drawers, old small table with round top, old fashioned wash stand with jug and basin)
  • Lounge room (upholstered suite of seven pieces including lounge and six chairs - very old, old cane music stand, old round cane table with draught board on top, old overmantel with six bevelled mirrors, two china vases, very old lino on floor)
  • Dining room (pine dining table, old sideboard with three bevelled miorrors, five very old chairs with cane seats and cane backs, very old damaged rocking chair with cane seat and cane back, very old model Singer sewing machine - out of order, two small vases - one damaged)
  • Kitchen (one small pine table, two small chairs - damaged, small pine safe, small mirror - damaged)
  • Breakfast room (old pine table, suite of eight chairs, two sea grass chairs, one dresser with two glass doors, one old couch, one old table, small quantity of crockery and glassware - partly damaged)

The total value of these items, according to Norman Cashman was £17 and 2 shillings on 16 August 1946.

A £15 funeral donation was provided by the St Augustine's Branch of the A. H. C Guild of Balmain. A letter, dated 20 August 1946 was sent to Leo Northcote, written by J. Fitzgibbon, asking for details of where to send the cheque. It seems that the A. H. C. is the Australian Holy Catholic Guild. This society is made up of "Catholic laity established to promote Catholic interests and solidarity across the colony" (source: http://dictionaryofsydney.org/organisation/australian_holy_catholic_guild).

Annexure D of the probate documents lists each of the people who were entitled to receive a legacy from Margaret Keneally's will, including:

  • Her daughter, Ellen Northcote, received real estate (no. 26 and 36 Renwick St, Drummoyne), furniture and personal belongings) valued at £1256.5.3
  • Her son, James Joseph Kennealy born on 20 April 1895, aged 51 years, received life interst in 85 Renwick St, Drummoyne,valued at £575.
  • Grandchildren being children of children of said James Joseph Kennealy (Irene Kennealy aged 25 years, William Kennealy aged 23 years, James Kennealy aged 22 years, Albert Kennealy aged 20 years, John Kennealy aged 19 years, Margaret Kennealy 18 years, Gwen Kennealy 15 years and Mildren Kennealy aged 18 years), estate remainder in equal shares in 85 Renwick St, Drummoyne.
  • A marble slab over graves of deceased and husband £20
  • Drummoyne Parish Priest, Legacy of £40
  • John Francis Butler, nephew (son of deceased's brother), Legacy of £20
  • James Butler, nephew (son of deceased's brother), Legacy of £20
  • Maria Emery, sister, Legacy of £20
  • Ellen Josephine Britten, sister, Legacy of £20
  • Joe McDonnell, nephew of deceased's late husband, Legacy of £20

Her will, dated 21 May 1945, also provided more details about the above.

  • Her daughter, Ellen Northcote, was referred to as "my dear daughter".
  • Quite a few details were provided about the use and treatment of no. 85 Renwick St by her son and his children.
  • The £40 to the parish priest was for the celebration of Masses for the Repose of the Souls of my late husband, myself and my late brother, Patrick Butler.
  • 38 Renwick St was to be sold and the proceeds to be divided to pay debts and funeral expenses, to pay the parish priest and to give £20 to a number of family members.
  • The remainder of her property went to her daughter, Ellen: "As to the rest and residue of my property whatsoever and wheresoever situate I give devise and bequeath the same unto my dear daughter Ellen Northcote absolutely.
Margaret Kennealy signed her name at the end of her will:

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Victorian wallpaper

All that's left of the wallpaper that once adorned the walls of our old house. Found at the top of the walls, above the current ceiling level when we were having some building work done in 2011. Thought I'd better preserve it somewhere before it all crumbles away.

A nice little reminder of the old, colourful Victorian days. I wonder if it started life off as one of these ...

An amazing TROVE find about an amazing man, Carew NORTHCOTE (1879-1937)

Carew Northcote (1879-1937) was my father's namesake. He was Dad's uncle, one of his father's six elder brothers and two elder half-brothers.

Carew Northcote 
About one year before he died, in 1936, 
Circular Quay in Sydney

When I was growing up, we often heard stories about Uncle Carew. He was apparently a jolly man who was very community minded. Dad always said that the town of Gulgong had one of the biggest funeral it had ever had when Carew died and that many people in the town and in the towns around mourned his death. He was known for helping others. Apparently, he was a very popular man in the town. This information came from verbal family history stories. Today, I found the following article which confirmed this family history story.


This extensive article (two full vertical columns) was reported on page 10 of the Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, Monday 20 December 1937

Here is the headline and first paragraph of the article ...

Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative
Monday 20 December 1937, page 10

Death of Carew Northcote
Carew Northcote has gone. He has been called
to the Great Beyond, and Gulgong has lost one of
its finest citizens, and of the best, most kindhearted
and generous of men. His death in the Gulgong
District Hospital on Monday evening last has
saddened the community, in which he had been an
esteemed, characteristic and popular figure for
about five years. 
One of the most interesting things about this article is that his character and impact on the community is described - an aspect of family history research that I sometimes find lacking in other types of records. The other types of information provided in this article include:

  • previous locations of employment
  • names of people who sent wreaths to the funeral
  • names of people who sent telegrams to the family
  • family members' names
  • membership of local organisations
  • burial and funeral arrangements

The following excerpts from the article give an impression of the type of man he was:

"He was a great man - a [??] man. Carew called a spade a spade. He seldom minced matters. He was straight, big-hearted and thoroughly loyal to the principles he believed were right; and unhesitatingly he followed a course for the common [??]."

"Carew always wielded an influence for good. The good that he did cannot be measured on earth, but it is known in a Higher Place. The down-and-out never went to him in vain. There was always practical help and good and wholehearted advice. He helped many lame dogs over life's stile. From many an unknown mourner will come a sincere prayer for the [??] man who is gone."

"When word of his death was received, it passed quite a gloom over the town."

"'Old Carew' as he was often and affectionately referred to - was quick to hit hard when he believed an injustice had been done or that a wrong had to be righted."

"Now he has gone from us. No more will be hear his cheerful voice or benefit from his advice and experiences. For him, life's fitful fever has ended but he will not be forgotten."

"It was a pronounced trait of Carew that he did everything thoroughly and one of his [??] pleasures was bringing happiness to others. This trait was widely known and esteemed, and by giving during his lifetime, deceased had the double pleasure of seeing the benefits of his deeds. "

"Generous, probably to a fault, his munificent donations to all worthy causes delighted both the giver and the receiver.

"As a licensee of the Royal Hotel he was bound up in his trade. His customers, his staff and regular visitors loved him; indeed it might be said that he was loved, admired and respected by everyone who knew him."

More information about Carew Northcote (1879-1937) can be found at:
Ripped memories
 A website about Carew Aloysius Standish Northcote, the publican

Thanks to Barbara Kernos, from the Genealogy Boomerangs blog, for her free e-book, Getting the most out of TROVE for genealogy. A link to the book can also be found at her blogpost: Getting the most out of Trove.

The use of her book helped me to find this valuable and interesting article.

Friday, 1 January 2016

A lot of info in 11 lines of newspaper article about Patrick BUTLER's death: Thanks, TROVE

It's amazing what eleven lines of a newspaper article found on TROVE can reveal. This morning I did a search for Patrick BUTLER in Stockinbingal. I don't know a lot about the life Patrick BUTLER, my second great uncle but I know that he ended up in Stockinbingal in NSW and died there in 1943. So, I searched for "Patrick Butler" and "Stockinbingal" in TROVE newspapers, and came up with the following result:

Source: Cootamundra Herald, Friday 9 April 1943, page 2


Mr Patrick Butler
Mr. Patrick Butler, an old-aged pensioner of Stockingbingal, was found dead in his hut on Tuesday 6 April 1943.
Deceased had resided for a number of years on Mr. H Cohen's "Pine Hills" property. He was well known in the district and was 76.
The remains were laid to rest at Stockinbingal at 11 yesterday.

From this short newspaper article, I could extract the following information:

  • Patrick BUTLER died on Tuesday 6 April 1943.
  • In 1943 Patrick BUTLER was a pensioner.
  • He had  been living in Stockinbingal for a number of years and was well known in the area.
  • He had been living on Mr. H Cohen's "Pine Hills" property.
  • He was living in a hut.
  • He was 76 years of age. [Note: This age must be incorrect, as he was baptised on 11 March 1860 in Doolough, County Clare*, so he was probably born in 1859 or 1860. If he was born in March 1860, the same month as his baptism, he would have been at least 83 years of age in April 1943.]
  • He was buried in Stockinbingal on Thursday 8 April 1943.
This is a photo of Patrick BUTLER 8 years before, when he helped police with a case of a girl who had been found dead in a car (Truth newspaper in Sydney, Sunday 14 April 1935). In the article he was described as a man in his 70s. In April 1935 he would have been 75 years of age. This is a good example, I think, of noting that the information about a person recorded when they are alive (often provided by the person themselves) is more reliable that the information about a person recorded after they have died (obviously not provided by the person themselves).

Source: The Truth in Sydney, Sunday 14 April 1935, page 23

Although Patrick's age was recorded incorrectly in the Obituary in the newspaper article, the other information about where he was living and where he was found when he died are probably more correct. From other records in our family's history, it is clear that Patrick lived in Stockinbingal for many years. Stockinbingal is about 400km from Sydney. It is a small town in the Cootamundra Shire of NSW.

Location of Stockinbingal
[Source of map: Googlemaps]

* Patrick BUTLER's baptism is recorded on 11 March 1860 at Doolough. His baptism records were found in the Kilmurry Ibricken; County of Clare; Diocese of Killaloe Baptisms of March 1860 to April 1860 (Microfilm 02486 / 01, Page 221, no. 914).