What’s in a name!

Family naming patterns are both a curse and a blessing when searching for ancestors. It was interesting though to find that after a long history of the name of James being handed down through the Biggs family line neither my great grandfather, Stephen, nor his brother Alfred named their sons after their father who was the last James in this line of the family. Was there a falling out or was it just that the name of James was no longer considered fashionable? Stephen did name one of his sons Francis Alfred, no doubt a nod to his brother, while Alfred called his first and only son, Stephen, obviously  holding his older brother in high esteem.

A life in Sheffield

I have spent the last few months buried deep in the coal mining and smelting industries of Yorkshire as I have tracked my mother’s family back through time. I have discovered that my great great grandfather, Daniel Chisholm, was a coal miner and furnace manager in the 19th Century, living in the industrial town of Sheffield. To read more about him click here.

Gold digging

I just got an advert in my emails for a subscription to the British Newspaper archives and would you believe it included this a comment from someone researching the Victorian goldrush and a section of a newspaper article that mentions the ship the Lady Head. These men were on the same ship that Joseph travelled on!

What a coincidence! So not all gold seekers from the ship were unsuccesful. Thankfully Joseph wasn’t or I may not have been here!

Joseph Chisholm, the builder

My great great grandfather Joseph’s story is one of migration, of taking opportunity as it arose and becoming a builder, not only as a tradesman but also in building a strong family foundation for the Chisholm’s in New Zealand. For myself as a descendant of one of his children, that like his father looked for more opportunities and made his life in Australia, I am thankful to my great great grandfather for his courage and resilience and proud to be descended  from such a gentle and caring man. I must also thank Audrey Barney, one of Joseph’s New Zealand descendant, who so generously allowed me to use her research and writing as a foundation for this story. To read more click here

Writing the family history

I love doing family history (I guess that’s pretty obvious) but sometimes you just want to yell at your ancestors and this post from https://www.reddit.com/r/Genealogy/sort of says it in a nutshell:


It seemed to give other genealogist the chance to vent and I have to agree with them.

Only ancestors could confuse a computer software program by intermarrying to the extent that Ancestry can’t even work out your relationship to me not to mention in some cases it would have been a better idea to expand the gene pool. Did I mention that I am a Shepherd with lots of interesting relationships in the family?

I can make a pretty good guess at why you ran away but did you have to change your name multiple times and then leave no record at all. Did you spend all your time on the long boat trip working out how you would disappear. I will find you yet Nellie!!!

It is great you had such large families, or I might not have been here but could you just stick to two wives maximum and maybe no more than four kids! You know who I am talking about Daniel Chisholm.


I do love naming patterns, especially if you are Scottish, but hey enough! In some townships there are just too many of you all with the same name, married to women with similar names and having kids with the same name. I love a challenge but that is ridiculous. Why did I marry a McGregor?


And of course that drunk census taker that gets everyone’s names wrong not to mention todays record transcribers that just take their best shot at translating it to modern day English.

So I have added my rant but be assured I am not planning on giving up genealogy any time soon.