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Well that was Christmas

Life is just a bowl of...
Life is just a bowl of...
Bill Barlow
26 December 2021
GSV News

Hope you all had a good one despite everything!!

And you know what this means! It is soon time for New Year Resolutions! And it is easier this year - DON'T plan to travel much or far! DO plan to keep in e-touch with family and friends to the limit of the possible. DO plan to enrol in those INTERESTING GSV- events.

Also DO plan to finish that memoir and give it to the kids, and circulate that piece of family history research you have been keeping to yourself. Remember the research will never be finished (so that's not an excuse). Maybe publish in Ancestor - or even on this blog.


GSV will be open on Wed, Thurs and Friday 29-31 Dec so this is a great time to do some quiet research - and the city will be VERYYY quiet. Our office is on the edge of the city so quite safe and easy to pop in there.

UNTIL 31 DEC you can still use your State Library Victoria membership to access Ancestry database free online from home.


Events not to miss in January

24 JANUARY 8 to 9pm  - The 1921 Census is coming

FindMyPast has spent many years digitising and transcribing this unique snapshot of our recent history and is releasing the census on 6th January 2022.  The presentation will provide, along with the historical context, tips for effective searching and using it to trace elusive relatives. Presented by:Mary McKee,the Head of Content Publishing Operations at FindMyPast.


20 JANUARY -10.30 to 11.30am. 

Using the Tithe Apportionment Records of England and Wales

This talk will discuss the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act, which required tithes in kind to be converted to monetary payments. The resultant records and maps are a valuable resource to assist help learn about the places that your ancestors lived and worked. Presented by David Down.



After 5 years and 247 posts this is my last post as Blog Editor. I hope I have cajoled, prompted and encouraged you in your family history pursuits. I have enjoyed turning a phrase and sharing some of my own interests and thoughts. Bill

Do your ancestors come from Middle-earth?

British Midlands counties (Morwen at English Wikipedia CCA BY-SA 3.0)
British Midlands counties (Morwen at English Wikipedia CCA BY-SA 3.0)
Bill Barlow
11 December 2021
GSV News

If you have ancestors from the British Midlands and might be interested in forming a Discussion Circle to share your interest, join us this coming Wednesday. This would be a group for GSV Members only, but others are welcome if they join the GSV.


Researching English Midlands Counties

Wednesday 15 Dec 1.30-2.30 pm.

Presented by Vicki Montgomery via Zoom. Duration 1 hour.

The Midlands of England broadly correspond to the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia (527-879 AD).  It was arguably the origin and heartland of the industrial revolution. The area includes a wide variety of localities from the very rural to Birmingham, the second largest city in the United Kingdom. This will be a brief introduction to researching ancestors in the Midlands with a view to starting a GSV Discussion Circle.

Counties in the Midlands of England: Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire.

J.R.R.Tolkien (1892-1973) based his fantasy setting of Middle-earth, and in particular the region of The Shire, on the area of West Midlands. His fictional language of Rohan was derived from his study of the Mercian dialect.

However, you will not be able to trace your ancestry to the Hobbits!


Register online as a Member on the website to join in this discussion.

Free of charge, GSV members only. Please log in to receive the discount.




Round off the year

Florence Chefik Bey (born Winter-Irving)
Florence Chefik Bey
Bill Barlow
4 December 2021
GSV News

Round off an interesting year, with these family-history attractions in December - before you collapse into Christmas and holiday mode.



'The Melbourne Socialite & The Turkish Diplomat'

DEC 9 - THIS COMING THURSDAY - 9 DEC at 10.30 AM - by Zoom

Speakers: Patrick Ferry & Janan Greer

London, 1913: A wealthy young woman from a stately country home falls in love with and secretly marries a handsome young diplomat from the Turkish Embassy. It sounds like a plot line from the hit British period drama Downton Abbey. But it is the real-life story of Melbourne socialite Florence Winter-Irving. Florence’s story is told through records held by the National Archives of Australia, contemporary newspapers and treasured family memorabilia and traditions. Her story is set against the backdrop of patriarchal nationality laws, which stripped women of their own nationality when they married ‘aliens’ –  foreign men who were not British subjects.

This is for GSV members and limited in number. So go online and quickly book a spot. 


Our presenters

Patrick Ferry is the State Manager, Victoria for the National Archives of Australia. He is a professional archivist, local historian and author. Patrick’s most recent book Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Remembering the Pakenham District’s WW2 service personnel, 1939 – 1945, won the 2020 Victorian Community History Award for Best Local History Project.

Janan Greer is the great-granddaughter of Florence Winter-Irving. Janan works in marketing and communications and has a passion for family history and storytelling. She is the custodian of many family photographs, letters and documents relating to her paternal family lineage.



Members will have received the December issue of our award-winning Ancestor journal. If you are not a member you can always take out a subscription for 4 issues a year for $70.00, including postage.

You could give a friend a subscription for Christmas!  SUBSCRIBE HERE.

Our current edition features the winning article from the GSV Writing Prize, which is ‘The mystery of the extra Booth Hodgetts’ by Susan Wight. Other articles include an account of a medical orderly in the 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance in the First World War; the story of an unmarried mother in 19th Century Scotland, and Paul Magill's intriguing story of the bureaucratic goings-on of two men, John Lanktree and Matthew Jackson, who migrated to Australia and were appointed to senior positions overseeing the building of the Yan Yean Reservoir.  Jennifer MacKay relates the story behind the ‘The children in the lockup’ sculpture commissioned by Moonambel Arts and History Group to commemorate an event from 1896, and how, with the help of the GSV, she was able to trace a descendant of one of the children.



To say thank you to their valued family historians, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria (BDM Victoria) is offering downloadable uncertified historical certificates for $15 each for the entire month of December.


This is a saving of $5 per certificate. You can also subscribe to BDM Victoria’s mailing list for future offers, updates about system improvements and user guidance.



Easy to do – just go to the GSV website or GO HERE TO PURCHASE.  


Image citation: Florence Chefik Bey (born Winter-Irving), NAA: A659, 1940/1/1640, p. 34.


Buy a GSV Gift Certificate for Christmas for a friend!

Bill Barlow
10 November 2021
GSV News

Want to avoid the shopping crowds this December?

Why not buy a special Gift Certificate for a friend or relative from the GSV online!


It’s an opportunity for you to introduce a friend to the joys of family history research.

With the gift of a GSV Membership your friend or family member could benefit from GSV research assistants helping them track down family facts. They may like to join any of the Special interest groups and discussion circles - making new friends sharing problems and discoveries. They also receive the award-winning quarterly Ancestor journal.

The Gift Certificate will be for 12 months membership of the GSV for the special price of $105.00. The normal joining fee of $20.00 will not be charged.

Once you have submitted your payment, you will receive a Gift Certificate by email, containing a secure link for the recipient to redeem their gift. Then you may forward the Gift Certificate by email, or print it and send it by post or present it in person.

Easy to do – just go to the GSV website or GO HERE TO PURCHASE.  

Membership will commence only from the day it is activated. If the recipient is already a GSV Member the Certificate will extend their membership by a further 12 months. If you have any difficulties, please simply email us at info@gsv.org.au


Do friends or family need another set of bathroom products or a bottle of wine?

Well, maybe ...but this GSV Gift Certificate would be a gift for the whole family.

Forensic DNA analysis - Talk 18 November

Bill Barlow
29 October 2021
GSV News


Many GSV members are familiar with the use of commercial DNA databases in genetic genealogy, but how much do we know about the use of DNA to solve crimes?

In a forthcoming talk, Professor Linzi Wilson-Wilde OAM, Director of Forensic Science South Australia, will discuss the application of DNA in law enforcement and future directions of the science.


Forensic DNA analysis – what can it tell us and what does it hold for the future?

– Thursday 18 November Talk


Linzi introduces her forthcoming talk to GSV members:

'Forensic science uses the principles of science to study and understand traces – the remnants of past activities (such as an individual’s presence and actions) – through their detection, recognition, examination and interpretation, to answer a question relevant to the justice sector (i.e. detection, resolution or prevention of crime and responding to disasters).

One tool to understand traces is Forensic DNA analysis, which was first introduced into casework in the mid-1980s. From those humble beginnings, it has grown to be an essential tool for investigators. Advancements in DNA analysis continue, and new techniques are constantly evolving, offering exciting new opportunities to aid the justice sector. Current and emerging DNA analysis techniques and their role in forensic science such as murder investigations and the Bali Bombing will be discussed.'

* * *

Our presenter:

Professor Linzi Wilson-Wilde OAM has over 25 years’ experience in forensic science working for Victoria Police, New South Wales Police, the Australian Federal Police, and the National Institute of Forensic Science, where she was Director. During her career, Linzi has worked on the investigation of high-profile murder cases, cold case reviews, a mass DNA screen, along with legislative reform, and policy development. Linzi coordinated the DNA analysis of all samples involved in the disaster victim identification and criminal investigation of the Bali Bombing in October 2002. Most notably, Linzi has received a Medal in the Order of Australia for her work and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2014. 


* * *

Register for this talk via the 'Events' page. The talk is $5 for all GSV Members and attendance is via Zoom. If you are not a member JOIN HERE.

[Ed.]Thanks to Kristy Love for preparing this post.

Congratulations for 'Sentenced to Debt'

Don Grant Award Winner 2020
Don Grant Award Winner 2020
Bill Barlow
15 October 2021
Book Reviews
GSV News

Researching family history is a good start, but writing about it makes it history.

Congratulations to Louise Wilson for receiving the Don Grant Award 2020 for her book Sentenced to Debt - the story of Robert Forrester, First Fleeter.

This award was announced by Family History Connections at a zoom presentation on 19 September 2021.

Bettina Bradbury was announced as the winner of the Alexander Henderson Award 2020 for Caroline's Dilemma: a Colonial Inheritance Saga, the lives of the Bax and Kearney families, early squatters on the Victoria-South Australia border.

Congratulations to both winners and for the support given to family history writing by Family History Connections with these ongoing awards.

Louise Wilson is a member of the GSV's Writers Discussion Circle. She regularly convenes one of its annual topics - this year about writing First Nations people in our histories, something that Louise faced in writing Sentenced to Debt. See the blog post July 23. You will find many of her contributions in Ancestor journal both as feature articles and in the 'Getting it Write' section. And members of the GSV Writer's Group benefit from her helpful critiques and suggestions. So it is great to see her input being recognised once again.

You can read the judge's comments on both books https://www.familyhistoryconnections.org.au/index.php/awards/131-2020-awards-3

And about Louise and her books at Louise Wilson "nerdy...but nice!" HERE


GSV Writing Prize 2021 announced

Susan Wight - winner
Bill Barlow
6 October 2021
GSV News


A mysterious ancestor living the good life in Sydney in the early 20th C as a socialite and breeder of racehorses—this was the subject matter of the winning entry in the GSV Writing Prize 2021.

The winner was Susan Wight with her story ‘The mystery of the extra Booth Hodgetts’, a well-written account of her original knowledge of the four Booth Hodgetts and subsequent research to solve the mystery of an apparently additional member of her family tree. 

Last Saturday 2 October, President Jenny Redman announced the winner and runner-up of the 9th GSV Writing Prize at a virtual gathering of eager entrants and interested writers who joined Council members, staff and the Ancestor team online. 

The runner-up was Bernard Metcalfe with his intriguing tale of ‘The Secret Life of Mr Crisp’ about a ‘model’ family man who stole his brother-in-law’s identity—a tale that uncovered much that was hidden from his family. 

Susan wins a one-year subscription to Ancestry’s Worldwide membership and a DNA test. Bernard wins a six-month subscription to Ancestry’s Worldwide membership. The GSV extends its warm thanks to Ancestry for their continued support of this annual Prize.

This year fourteen entries were received from which five were shortlisted. The three remaining shortlisted entrants were Louise Wilson with ‘Hapless Fate’, in which she recounts the misadventures of a distant family member, Russ Gloster with ‘Ghost ships of Gloster’, his account of the ships belonging to one of his ancestors and Yvonne Tunney with ‘From Godly mechanics to farmers’, the story of German missionaries in the Moreton Bay settlement.

We were glad to see two entries from members of GSV Member Societies - Gisborne Genealogical Group Inc, and Philip Island & District Genealogical Society Inc - to whom eligibility has been extended.

Well-known GSV members Cheryl Griffin (guest judge) and Joy Roy (President’s nominee) joined three Ancestorteam members, Barbara Beaumont, Sue Blackwood and Tina Hocking on the judging panel. The judges were appreciative of the work that went into the entries, and congratulated all the entrants on their achievement. The President thanked all the judges for their deliberations and Leonie Ellis for her administration of the competition. 

The winning story will be published in the coming December issue of GSV's Ancestor journal and the full Judges' Report will be available on the GSV website.

Congratulations all! 


Living within 5 km

suvarov Atoll, Cook Islands
suvarov Atoll, Cook Islands
Bill Barlow
3 October 2021
GSV News
Treasure Chest
Writers Circle

You don't have to go far - living within 5 km

In previous times families didn't move far from their villages for generations. Many or even most people never moved beyond our recent 5 km lockdown over their whole lives.

This has been a useful factor in tracking early family names in a specific geographical location. Tracing my Barnes family, it has been shown that by 1860 a third of all UK 'Barnes' were in Lancashire and in 1861 it was particularly prevalent in Haslington and Accrington, north of Manchester - in the Valley of Rossendale. 'Golding', a recurring name in my family, is also most prevalent in Lancashire in its north England cluster. Both these name locations probably reflect the settlement there of Hiberno-Norse people from about 900 after their expulsion from Dublin in 902.

A great grandfather of mine set foot on Suvarov (or Suwarrow) Island, a very small Pacific atoll, in 1889. Years later the largest islet of this coral reef would be the voluntary home of Tom Neale where he lived for six years. He was inspired by an earlier occupant, Robert Dean Frisbie, who exiled himself and his four children there for a year in 1942. The islet they lived on is only 800 metres long and 200 metres wide - so a perambulation is well below our present 5 km confinement.

Robert Frisbie had lived on Pukapuka, another small Pacific atoll and wrote: 'Think of it! A woman living on this island for some seventy years and never visited Frigate Bird Islet, four miles across the lagoon! It reminds me of a pair of darling old maids who lived near our ranch in the foothills of California. They were in their forties, alone on a farm only a few miles from Fresno, the lights of which place they could see, on a clear night, from a hill beyond their house—yet they had never been to Fresno nor to any city! Once I tried to take them, and I remember that one old dear couldn’t go because she had a hen setting and her sister was “no hand at poultries”; the other one couldn’t go because she was afraid to leave her sister alone—“something might happen.” So it is with lots of Puka-Pukans. We have only three islets on this reef, yet many of the neighbors have set foot on only one.' 

And to help us live within our own resources, that classic of Thoreau's two years in a cabin on Walden Pond is worth a re-read. 

Our ancestors didn't move far, until they did - when wars, economic emigration and forced relocation, transportation took them to another county or across the globe.



Tom Neale. An Island to Oneself, Collins, 1966

Robert Dean Frisbie. The Island of Desire: the story of a South Sea trader, Doubleday, 1944 / Benediction Books 2019 / ebook available online.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden or Life in the Woods (1854), JM Dent Everyman's Library 1910. 

[Ed] I thought I would treat you to a picture of this tropical island in memory of all those beach holidays we Melbournians had to cancel this year.



Thinking about becoming a GSV Member? Try our Visitor E-Pass

Bill Barlow
10 September 2021
GSV News

Thinking about becoming a GSV Member?

Try our Visitor E-Pass with the special introductory price of just $10

The Visitor E-pass gives you 6 hours online at home access to the members section of the GSV website. This will allow you to:

  • Access two unique databases - a names index of over 3.1 million records and the 'Milestones' index of 1.5 million records, 
  • Access our award-winning journal –Ancestor
  • View our webcasts about family research, DNA, and information sources
  • Search our catalogue and indexes

Further details and purchase your Visitor E-Pass HERE



Bill Barlow
25 August 2021
GSV News


To celebrate National Family History Month August 2021, there are prizes in a draw for lucky winners - if you enter by next Monday 30 August.


Subscriptions, gift vouchers and other items, which are desired by family historians, are on offer.

To enter the prize draw you only need to send an email to info@familyhistorymonth.org.au including your name, postcode and email address. 

List of prizes on offer below or the link: https://familyhistorymonth.org.au/competitions-in-august/


A further CLOSING CEREMONY PRIZES DRAW is available for those who register and attend the Closing Ceremony at which Fiona Brooker will talk via Zoom on Tuesday, 31st August 2021 at 6.00 AEST.


Fiona will give a presentation on:


The 1939 Register for Family Historians


Following on from the declaration of War, on September 29th 1939, the details of the population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland were recorded and identity cards were issued. This talk will look at searching the 1939 Register and what to do with the information you find.


About Fiona Brooker

Fiona is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). With a background in adult education, Fiona loves to teach family history and digital scrapbooking. There is nothing better than getting someone else addicted to the hunt for their ancestors. Beyond her own research she has served as both President and Treasurer of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) and worked with local branches

Details about accessing the Zoom talk will be available here or on our Facebook page 1 week before the event. It will also be available from our website for 1 month afterwards).