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Winner of the 2019 GSV Writing Prize announced

Victoria Spicer, runner-up; Martin Playne, GSV and the winner, Louise Wilson (L-R. Photo: L. Loveday)
Bill Barlow
6 October 2019
GSV News

The GSV congratulates the winner and runner-up of its annual Writing Prize 2019 for a family-history article.

The successful entrants were announced at the AGM on Saturday 5 October.

The winning entry was 'Masters of the Road' by Louise Wilson. 

The runner-up was 'Finding Johanna' by Victoria Spicer. 


Louise Wilson's interesting story is about the role of the author’s ancestors in the initiation of the Royal Mail Service coaches in Great Britain in the 1790s.

'Finding Johanna' by Victoria Spicer revolves around Geelong, and was built on the author’s change of mind about an Irish bounty emigrant step-great-great-grandmother whom shehad once scorned for being intermittently jailed for vagrancy and drunkenness. 

There were a record number of entries including some from GSV regional Member Societies who were invited this year.

Entries were considered by a five-member judging panel. This year an external guest judge, Dr Val Noone OAM, joined Joy Roy FGSV representing the GSV President; and three Ancestor team members, Leonie Loveday, Margaret Vines and Martin Playne. GSV thanks Dr Noone and the other judges for their commitment to this successful competition to foster and demonstrate good family-history writing.


The winner receives a 12-month subscription from Ancestry.com to their Worldwide Membership and an Ancestry.com DNA test kit. Ancestry also generously gave a prize for the runner-up.


The winning entry will be published in the December issue of GSV's Ancestor journal. 


Congratulations to both winners and all entrants.




Were convicts sent to Victoria? Find out this THURSDAY.

Bill Barlow
16 September 2019
GSV News

This question of whether convicts were sent to the Port Phillip District (later known as Victoria) often invokes a statement that no convicts were transported to the district. Although Port Phillip was not one of the mainstream colonies for traditional convict transportation, there were in fact six distinct groups of convicts connected to the Port Phillip District.


On THURSDAY THIS WEEK 19 September 12 noon to 1.00 pm our guest speaker Susie Zada will definitively answer this question. 




Not too late to book! BOOK HERE


This presentation by Susie will highlight detailed sources and records for convicts in each of these six groups: the Sullivan's Bay Settlement 10 October 1803 - 15 May 1804; Western Port Settlement 24 November 1826 - February 1828; the Port Phillip Settlement 1835 - 1849; the Exiles 1844 - 1849; Convicted convicts 1841 - 1849; and the Free Settlers who were former convicts from 1835.


Records can be found in at least twenty-two different resources including the Archives Office of New South Wales (AONSW), The National Archives in the UK (TNA), the Public Records Office Victoria (PROV), and various web sites and publications.


$5 GSV members. $20 non-members. FHC, RHSV and CAV members should contact the GSV for a 25% discount.

Bookings are required and can be made online, by email, in person or by telephone (Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Joint members please book in separately if both attending. There will be a wait list available.

19 September 2019, 12:00   to   13:00 pm

Level 6, 85 Queen Street
Melbourne  VIC 3000



What is over the white cliffs of Dover?

White cliffs of Dover, photo by Immanuel Giel, 2012. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Bill Barlow
14 September 2019
GSV News

Behind what may be the most famous piece of coast in the English world, lies Kent - an ancient English county jutting out in to the sea and around which many of our forebears sailed on their journey to Australia. They may even have commenced their journey being loaded from the Chatham Hulks. Having cleared the Thames estuary hundreds of sailing ships often sheltered in The Downs awaiting favourable winds to take them through the Strait of Dover and westwards into the English Channel. The Kentish coast may have been their last glimpse of England.


On Thursday 17 October 2019- 10:00 am to 12:30 pm - the GSV is privileged to host a seminar that you should not miss if you have any Kentish links.


'Genealogy, History and Geography' plus 'Tracing your Kent Ancestors' 


Presented by David Wright,a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists and a member of the Kent Family History Society for over forty years.


History without geography is meaningless. This talk covers our ancestors' lives in context: how and why they moved and how such behaviour can be traced. It looks at county and other boundaries and the restriction of freedom they allowed.

Genealogically speaking, Kent is an important maritime county, which has played a prime defensive role in English history. It is large and diverse and replete with great houses, castles and other family homes, many with their own archives. It is also a fascinating area of research for historians. This talk is packed with vital information for anyone researching their own family history.


Bookings are required and can be made online, by email, in person or by telephone (Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Go to our website for details. http://www.gsv.org.au Maximum 35 attendees, and there will be a wait list available.

Our presenter


David Wright is a professional genealogist, historian and writer. He has taught at University College, London, and he is a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists.


David's career has covered over three decades of genealogical and historical research, by way of the study of classics and University lecturing, and he has written three books on Kentish records and the guide 'Tracing your Kent Ancestors'. He lectures widely on genealogy and allied subjects and has taught classical and mediaeval Latin and palaeography at the City Literary Instituteand, at both University College, Londonand the School of History at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He has been a member of the Kent Family History Society almost from its inception in the 1970s. In 2009, after nearly forty years’ membership, he was awarded a prestigious fellowship of the Society of Genealogists, and in November 2017 was honoured by being invited to sign the Fellows' Register of the Society of Antiquaries, London.



Be Quick: How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy

Bill Barlow
25 August 2019
GSV News

At the GSV Writers Circle we often talk about the need to provide more description of the places our family members lived and worked. Many of us feel the need to travel to far-flung parts of the globe to tread 'in their shoes' through their villages and fields. 


The online world has helped bring a lot of this to our 'armchairs' and certainly Google Earth provides a lot of interesting opportunities for our research.


This month's VIDEO 'How to use Google Earth for Genealogy' will give you lots of tips for your research.


It will be shown this coming THURSDAY 29 AUGUST from 12 noon to  - 1.00 pm at the GSV Centre. You can book - if you are quick - on our website under Events or phone 03 9662 4455. Only $5 for members ($20 non-members).


It is produced by Lisa Louise Cooke. She writes that she found her passion for family history at her grandmother’s knee at the age of 8 and is now the owner of Genealogy Gems, a genealogy and family history multi-media company founded in 2007. Lisa produces videos and podcasts featuring genealogy news, research strategies, expert interviews and inspiration for genealogists in 75 countries around the world, and she recently celebrated 2.5 million downloads!

Our September video is 'Ten Tech Tools you can't live Without.'



From the Keyboard of the President - August 2019

Bill Barlow
19 August 2019
GSV News
President's Keyboard

Hello all members (and soon-to-be members),


Even though it has been a bit wintry, we have been quite busy at the GSV. There has been a lot on, marking National Family History Month.


David Down and I recently met with the new president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria(RHSV), Emeritus Professor Richard Broome and Rosemary Cameron, their executive officer, at the GSV. In addition to showing them over the Centre we had a very productive discussion about the two Societies. Like us they are concerned about the ongoing viability of organisations, such as ours. We look forward to having a closer partnership with the RHSV, exploring possible joint events and cross-promotion early in 2020.


Many of us still have one or more ancestors that appear to have arrived in Victoria by swimming, as there seems to be no trace of them in the usual passenger records. If you need help with 'when and how did they get here’, the new GSV Victoria and Tasmania Discussion Circle is a good place to start. Meeting on the fourth Friday morning each month, they now have their own Facebook group. See 'What’s on at the GSV' pages in Ancestor and our website for details. But note there is no meeting in September, as the Centre will be closed for the AFL Grand Final public holiday.

Tuesday evenings are a good time to come into the Centre if you want one-on-one help with your research. There is normal entry into the building until 6 pm when the front doors are closed. If you want to come in later, ring the GSV before 6 pm and we will arrange to open the doors for you. If you work nearby even 2 hours a week researching each week could help fill out that family tree.

The Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held on Saturday 5 October 2019, 2.00 - 4.00 pm. We will present the 2018/19 reports on the activities and financial position of the Society, and elect Office Bearers and Councillors for 2019/20. All members are welcome. Nominations for positions close on 30 August at 4 pm. Members can see the Notice of the Meeting and download the Nomination Form in the Members Area of the website.


With the first signs that Spring may be coming, now is the time to check the GSV Events calendar for the coming months and thaw out your family-history endeavours.


We'd love to help you at our Research Centre.


Jenny Redman

President - GSV

A Mystery Woman

Queen's Building, Southwark, London
Bill Barlow
12 August 2019
GSV News
Writers Circle


First a reminder that you have ONLY 3 WEEKS TO GO TO ENTER THE GSV 2019 WRITING COMPETITION - CLOSING 30 AUGUST - (See details on our website).


And a tip for your research this month...

As part of National Family History Month BDM Vic has reduced the price of uncertified historical certificates to $20 just for this month. Go HERE.

To prompt you to write your stories, in this post we republish a short article by one of our GSV Writers Circle members, Barbara Beaumont. This was originally published in Fifty~Plus News Nov 2013. 


You don’t always find what you’re looking for. . .


by Barbara Beaumont


At a seminar on ‘Brick Walls’ in family history research at the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) we were advised to try to go around brick walls rather than confront them head-on. So when I was unable to locate a member of my family, Grace Martin, on the 1891 UK census, I started to look for her siblings, and then for the daughter of her sister Mary Ann, who was on the 1881 census as Elizabeth Martin, age 17, daughter.


Thinking that Elizabeth might have married a few years later, I looked on freebmd (www.freebmd.org.uk) for a marriage and easily found it. On freebmd you can look at the names on the page of the register, which after 1852 generally gives you four names, but does not tell you who married whom. One name immediately jumped out at me – James Hewett. I knew that another member of the family, Ellen Davey, had married a man of this name, but I hadn’t paid the Hewetts a lot of attention previously. Was it the same James Hewett? 


I formed the theory that James had married Elizabeth, that she had died, and that he had then married Ellen. I looked with fresh eyes at the 1911 census for the Hewetts. Eight children were listed, but the census indicated that Ellen had only given birth to six children. So presumably the others were Elizabeth’s? 


On ancestry.co.uk I was able to find James and Elizabeth on the 1891 census, which gave me the names of four other children. So Elizabeth and James had had six children, and James had gone on to have another six with Ellen. Again on ancestry.co.uk I found christening records for several of these children, which not only confirmed the parents as James and Elizabeth Hewett, but gave me the address where they lived at the time of each christening. A death entry for Elizabeth Hewett in St Saviour, Southwark in 1900 seemed likely to be the right one.


A missing link in my chain of research was the 1901 census, which I expected to show James as a widower, with his first six children. I was aware that Hewett was sometimes spelt as Hewitt, so tried a Boolean search using Hew?tt (where ? represents one missing letter). This proved unsuccessful, but by using a search for Hew* (where* represents one or more letters), I found them listed as Hewell and yes, indeed, he was a widower.


I must admit that none of this helped me to find Grace, but it has provided me with an interesting addition to the story of my extended family. 


Barbara Beaumont


Barbara went on to find Grace Martin. You could read more about that in her article 'The Mystery Woman' in the latest GSV Ancestor journal 34:6 June 2019. GSV Members can read that issue on the website.


Image credit

Photographer Fred Start Jnr. c.1957. Queen's Building (1841), Southwark, London was an early model housing project for workers. If you have connections to Southwark, London you can see lots of interesting information and images on the website London-SE1 https://www.london-se1.co.uk

August is National Family History Month

Bill Barlow
22 July 2019
GSV News

There are lots of interesting talks planned for National Family History Month in August. Our first talk on ebooks is fully booked but after that on Thursday 1 August at 1.30 - 2.30pm you can learn about 'National and State Archives in Australia'. Then on Saturday 3 August 10 - 11am we have programmed two talks: 'Introduction to the GSV and our Resources' and at 11.15am 'Starting your Family History'. Lots to start you off and FREE for Family History Month. See more details and booking in our Events listing on our website www.gsv.org.au


For a regional event on Friday 2 August at 1.30pm at the Maryborough Regional Library, Robyn Ansell will be the guest speaker for the launch of the digitised Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser 1857-1867. It is a free event which will include the opportunity to go online afterwards to try out the paper on Trove. 


The launch of National Family History Month August 2019 is on Friday 2 August.


The launch includes a short presentation by Celia Blake, Regional Manager South & Director Victoria and Tasmania, National Archives of Australia, and Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records, Public Record Office Victoria.

A keynote address, Doing it for ourselves – transcription projects, will be given by curator and historian Dr Sophie Couchman.


The launch is jointly hosted by the National Archives of Australia and Public Record Office Victoria.






eBooks in family history

Bill Barlow
21 July 2019
GSV News

The GSV jumps into National Family History Month - with a talk about ebooks on Thursday 1 August. Be quick to book - or 'ebook' - this event!


eBooks in Family History

Presented by Glen Wall

Thursday 1 August 12.00pm - 1.00pm. 


The talk will show how you can identify interesting family history and experiences, and prepare them for sharing in eBook form with family, friends and other interested parties.

The presentation will include examples of working with people to help them capture living history stories and prepare them for eBook publication.

At the end of the talk attendees with have a better awareness of how to use the internet and technology to package the results of their own genealogy work in a form that can be handed on for others to benefit.



Free for National Family History Month.


Our presenter, Glen Wall is a Vice President of U3A Network Vic Inc and President of Whittlesea U3A. He has been working with people to help them capture living history stories and prepare them for publication as an eBook.Over the last three years he has been delivering a U3A class on ePUBLISHING for authors wishing to self-publish novels, short stories and family history experiences for access on online platforms such as Amazon.

Bookings are required and can be made online HERE., by email, in person or by telephone 03 9662 4455 (Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Joint members please book in separately if both attending.


And there's more!

Go TO THE GSV WEBSITE to find other events that are on at the GSV during NFHM - some are free to all for that month. But as you can see from the calendar, every month is family history month at GSV for members.




Your own coat of arms

Bill Barlow
14 July 2019
GSV News
Treasure Chest

My teenage grandson recently quipped that: 'The Barlows have a coat of arms, you know'. He had found it on the net. It reminded me that in my early family-history research days I recorded the 'Barlow' arms in my notebook and, having a healthy cynicism I have not paid it any more attention. But, with the great interest today amongst youngsters (and the not so young) in 'things mediaeval', encouraged by 'Game of Thrones' and so on, perhaps 'coats of arms' may be a good way to excite an interest in genealogy and in history generally. And that is always a good thing! As long as it doesn't lead to tribalising and marching under banners.


GSV first logo 1941
GSV's first logo 1941

I can't see our Genealogical Society of Victoria marching anywhere bearing arms - but we have them! In 1941 a logo with a tree trunk emblazoned on a quaint tilted shield was adopted. In the early 1960s the GSV endorsed four special interest groups, one of which was the Heraldry Group. Then in 1986 the GSV acquired its current coat of arms through official British channels. That there was some tension between budding republicans and monachists had been shown when, at the GSV's Colonial Dinner in 1985, the National Anthem tape was sabotaged by someone reinstating 'God Save the Queen' for the newly adopted 'Advance Australia Fair'. 


Coat of Arms of the GSV


The GSV's coat of arms, or Ensigns Armorial, was designed and granted to The Genealogical Society of Victoria by the Court of the Lord Lyon of Scotland, King of Arms on 1 March 1986. It is described as:


Azure, five mullets [stars], one of eight, two of seven, one of six and one of five points Argent (representing the constellation of the Southern Cross), on a chief Gules, a pale of the Second charged of an oak tree Proper issuing from a mount Vert, and fructed Or, between two acorns slipped of the Last. Above the Shield is placed an Helm, suitable to an incorporation (videlice: a sallet [helmet] Proper lined Gules), with a Mantling Azure doubled Argent, and on a wreath of the Liveries, is set for Crest on a mound of pink heather a male lyre bird close and in display Proper holding in its beak an acorn slipped Or, and in an Escrol over the same this Motto: "GENEALOGI SEMPER VIGILES". 

Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, 69th volume, page 20.


The Shield was based on the arms of the State of Victoria with an oak tree added to represent genealogy. The oak tree is a long-lived tree and its fruit, the acorns, represents the seed origin of the tree from which continuing generations of oak trees and acorn seed will spring. The Crest comprises two parts, the Device, which shows the lyrebird, native of Victoria with an acorn in its beak, and the Mount which incorporates the Pink Heath, the floral emblem of Victoria.


The Motto, Genealogi Semper Vigiles, translates from Latin to 'genealogists always watchful'and is a play on the initials of the Society.


Apparently if you fancy having a coat of arms you can just design your own - whilst being careful not to infringe trade marks. 


The Australian Heraldry Society website has an interesting discussion about the authority of granting arms. The Australian PM issued advice in 2018 that: 'There is nothing preventing any person or organisation from commissioning a local artist, graphics studio or heraldry specialist to design and produce a coat of arms or identifying symbol. Those arms would have the same standing and authority in Australia as arms prepared by the College of Arms in England.'


However like an 'Engrish' T-shirt, or when co-opting any language, it will help if you know what various symbols you use could be taken to mean. The Australian Heraldry Society could help (https://www.heraldryaustralia.org/your-arms). 


When you design your avatar take careful note of the powers and attributes you assign. But your game-playing kids will know all about that.


Bill Barlow



Amateurs and Experts: a history of The Genealogical Society of Victoria 1941–2001,by Elizabeth Ellen Marks, Penfolk Publishing, Blackburn, 2001.

The Australian Heraldry Society Inc. website (accessed 13 July 2019)


8 weeks to go - to enter for the 2019 GSV Writing Prize!

Bill Barlow
7 July 2019
GSV News
Writers Circle

8 weeks to go! Enough time to finish off that family history story for the 2019 GSV Writing Priize.

The closing date for entries is 4 pm on 30 AUGUST 2019. So you still have time to START writing!

Last year Helen Pearce won with her entry exposing the story of a murder in Adam Elphinstone's family history. GSV Members can read past winning entries in back copies of Ancestor in the members area of our website.




But you don't need murder to make for an interesting story. It is a writing prize. So use this year's GSV Writing Prize as a prompt for you to capture the story you have been researching, but never quite written up.



This year we have extended the eligibility criteria, enabling more people to enter, and made some changes to the judging panel. Full entry details and conditions can be read on the GSV website at https://www.gsv.org.au/gsv-writing-prize


Purpose of the Prize

  • to encourage the writing of family history
  • to provide an opportunity for recognition and publication
  • to publish the winner as an example of quality family history writing


The article should:

  • have a family history / genealogy theme
  • be the author’s own original work
  • not have been previously published in any format, or be under consideration or accepted for publication by any other publication
  • be between 1200 and 2400 words (not including title, image captions, endnotes and sources).
  • contain citations of sources


The Prize   

We are very pleased to announce that Ancestry™ is again generously sponsoring the competition with an enhanced first prize of a 12-month subscription to their Worldwide Membership and an Ancestry DNA test kit.



The competition is open to GSV Members and all members of GSV Member Societies.

Members of the Ancestor Editorial Team, the judges, GSV staff and the winner of the previous year’s prize are not eligible to enter.


The winner will be announced at the GSV’s Annual General Meeting in October and the winning article will be published in the December 2019 issue of Ancestor magazine.


Not only will your family read your story but it will be published and hence discoverable in our wonderful State and National libraries by future unknown descendants in years to come.



Photo of Adam and Elizabeth Elphinstone from 'Elphinstones: Pioneer Farmers in Northern Tasmania', Elphinstones Committee, Launceston Tas, 1988? courtesy of Helen Pearce.