Making Discoveries.

Okay, what about new discoveries from old content. This occurs when you ask questions, even if they are to yourself.


Two examples:

  • One set of my 2nd great-grandparents travelled to Australia at different times. One in August, the second in September and then they got married in October of the same year (1888). How did this come about? They were born on opposite sides of Cambridgeshire.

What to check to find out? Census records are a good starting point. You most likely know their date and place of birth. I did find both of my ancestors in the 1871 census. But upon checking the 1881 Census, I could not find one of them where I had expected them to be. More questions! This is when you “look outside the box”. Look at the siblings within the family and start tracking them. I discovered that my 2nd great-grandmother was living with her sister in the village where my 2nd great-grandfather lived. It all fell into place – a fantastic discovery explaining how they married just a month after their last arrival in Australia.

  • My 3rd great-grandfather – again, census records provided clues. (By the way – he is the father of my 2nd great-grandmother mentioned above.) What I found in the different census records:

a. 1861 – listed as a Chelsea Pensioner

b. 1871 – listed as a Chelsea Pensioner

c. 1881 – listed as a Pensioner – 12th Reg. Foot

d. 1891 – listed as a Pensioner

So, from the above information, I had that he was a Chelsea Pensioner (Yes, my friend Google helps out with explaining what this is all about!) and he was in the 12th Reg. Foot. At the time, I had no idea what 12th Reg Foot meant so I started looking at Chelsea Pensioner records. Again, at the time, I didn’t locate much information. I began reading about Chelsea Pensioners. From reading, I then found out and understood what the 12th Regiment of Foot (Suffolk) was all about. Back to the records, however, no records were located under his surname I had.

What to do?

I knew he was a Chelsea Pensioner therefore he had to have served time in the British Armed Forces. Ah yes, name variants! One has to realise, just because records show (officially) a surname spelling, it doesn’t mean other records will be spelt the same way! BINGO! I located his Army Service records, plus so much more! More on all these details another time.

To Summarise – Making Discoveries.

  1. Look outside the box. The names may be spelt differently across records.
  2. Dig further – look at siblings and other family members i.e. father’s/mother’s brothers and sisters as these may hold the key to making even more discoveries.
  3. Make a list of possibilities: when, where and sometimes how and why. Have a plan of such (research journals are always good, as are spreadsheets), so one doesn’t keep going over the same ground.
  4. DO NOT GIVE UP. Persistence is the key. Remember it’s not instant gratification.

Go forth and discover. Leave no stone unturned. You WILL find the answer. Sometimes not what you expect – see my upcoming blog on the 12th Regiment of Foot as I expand on my findings.

Discoveries can be unexpected and answer questions. Also, they may provide you with even more questions. So, this is one of the joys of looking for ancestors – a never-ending puzzle that grows and grows – giving ancestors context… Adding leaves to the branches of your tree…

A word of warning – make sure you have the right person and that all your records are sourced and cited… You do not want bad or rotting fruit in your tree…


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