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A study of family history and DNA testing - you can be a part

Bill Barlow
14 December 2020
DNA and family history
GSV News



DNA testing and the re-framing of histories and identities in contemporary society.


A research project at the University of Newcastle, Australia.


A research team at the University of Newcastle in Australia (Drs Shaw, Donnelly, Burke and Parkes from the School of Education) are conducting research into family history and DNA testing and its impacts on people’s understanding of themselves and their place in history. They are conducting an online survey, which is expected to take about 20 - 30 minutes and would welcome your participation if you have utilised DNA-testing in your research.


The Research Team is hoping that GSV members and others will take up this invitation, using the link below to take part in this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2DDTC2L


The purpose of the research is to investigate the use, role and impact of DNA testing in exploring and understanding individual national and global histories and identities. This study is an Australian-first and will provide an exciting opportunity to be involved in a new worldwide project about exploring the past.


Dr Debra Donnelly, Senior Lecturer at the University's School of Education, and principal, researcher for this study said that 'My colleagues and I have become interested in DNA testing and its impact on ideas of history and family heritage. The project is just beginning and we plan to collect data survey data for a few months. We will then analyse the data and likely there will be phase two interviews and case studies.'  


Participants will be asked to reflect on their experience with DNA testing and to provide some general demographic information. The survey will be online for 4-6 months. Links to a plain English report of the findings will be emailed to participating family history societies, so we hope to provide some feedback possibly in this blog.



December issue of GSV journal now out

Bill Barlow
7 December 2020
GSV News

The latest edition of our quarterly journal 'Ancestor' has now been published.

Members who have elected to receive a print edition should have received their copy in the mail and be perusing its many interesting articles, including 'Tom were the naughty lad' by Brian Reid - this year's winner of the GSV Writing Prize

But this edition is also available to members to read as a PDF file and as a flipbook that can be accessed in the Members Area of the GSV website.

This move to give you digital-media options for reading our journal is part of developing more ways to provide services to our members. Our COVID year has certainly prompted us in this. Our Zoom meetings and webinars are proving very popular especially as our centre has restricted access and as people only cautiously return to public transport.

Have a look at our digital editions - and you may even elect to access future editions in this way - thus saving postage and printing costs for the GSV, improving our environmental footprint and helping you downsize your home shelf space! You can access back copies as a Member via our website and search past articles via our catalogue.

You can change your delivery preferences under your Membership Details on the website.



A member of the Queen's navy!

Cerberus crew 1878
Cerberus crew 1878
Bill Barlow
21 November 2020


As one outcome of my recent family history research I have now enlisted in the Navy - the Victorian Navy.


I am an Engine Room Artificer!


I have discovered that a great grandfather was in the Royal Navy and then finished his sailing career on HMVS Cerberus based at Williamstown at the start of the 1900s. For years I have looked out at that ungainly-looking breakwater just off shore at Black Rock in Port Phillip Bay, without knowing its connection.


Now with the assistance of all the material available on the website created by the Friends of the Cerberus Inc I know a lot more about this ship. 


The website has the uploaded Certificates of Service of the 346 members of the Permanent Victorian Navy Force 1884-1905 as well as Enrolment Sheets (courtesy of the National Archives Australia) and they are searchable. The site has every possible document about Cerberus, photos, articles, newspaper reports and lots. It is a great testament to the labours of its volunteers and received a 2011 Victorian Community History Awards Commendation.


This unassuming piece of our heritage sitting offshore is unique. Cerberus was commissioned by the Colony of Victoria to form its navy prior to Federation along with the sailing ship Nelson, which does not survive. Cerberuswas scuttled in its present location in 1926. After some parts of it a collapsed in 1993 it is now to be filled with concrete to 'preserve it'. In heritage work the Burra Charter requires that priority be given to options that do not destroy original material and which allow future recovery. 


It is hard to understand this treatment of such a rare piece of our Colonial heritage - especially by a Council which otherwise sets a high bar for preserving its built heritage.


Concrete-filling is still intended by Bayside Council though an alternative is available which would not destroy its value for future research. After many technical reports it appears that this decision may have been partly based on some errors and misunderstandings that remain to be checked. It is hoped that the Cerberus is not finally sunk by filling it with concrete - more than doubling its weight. 


Cerberus was the genesis of all battleship designs pre 1905. It was the first British warship to dispense completely with sail power. Launched in 1868 Cerberus is the only remaining warship of its class left in the world. Not only its hull but also its gun turrets and its guns have survived.

Cerberus is the only substantially intact surviving warship of any of Australia's pre-Federation colonial navies as well as the only surviving inaugural warship of the Royal Australian Navy.


This relic does not look as interesting and dynamic as Nelson's ship Victory at Portsmouth, but our HMVS Cerberus deserves better treatment. Even its interpretive signboard facing the other way is deteriorating and the safety markers dotted around it look temporary and betray its significance. 


Hopefully we can afford to preserve parts our physical heritage like Cerberus as reminders of our past rather than reduce everything to digitally-preserved entries on the internet. It is still much more engaging to take our grandchildren there to visit than to just show them a digital image on their phones.


If you are interested to know more about Cerberus and maybe even find your family members in the Victorian Navy visit the website https://www.cerberus.com.au/


You can even join up - as I did!


Bill Barlow ERA (Victorian Navy)




Images: Cerberus crew 1878, engraving from The Graphic, April 13, 1878, p.372. Courtesy of Friends of Cerberus Inc. Photo: Cerberus at Black Rock, Vic, 2020 (W. Barlow)

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the GSV.


Good news! A limited opening of our research centre from Nov 17.

Bill Barlow
15 November 2020
GSV News

It has been great to see people back in the city this past week, all being cautious and wearing masks, as we emerge from a time when we showed that we have a strong community. And we have developed new ways to connect to our far-flung members online, welcoming many from regional Victoria and  interstate to our Zoom sessions. Well done Melburnians!


And the GOOD NEWS is that we will open the GSV Library from Tuesday 17 November to a limited number of members for a limited number of hours.

Of course our new online options for you will continue as well, while we work our way forward in a different world.


Days open:  Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday

Open times:  approx. 11am – 2pm

Access: GSV’s library collection including item listed as “Digital @ GSV” & some databases. 

Booking essential as it’s limited to 2 -3 members per day.

Email to Book:research@gsv.org.au  and please specify which day and time and what records you would like to research, e.g. browse FamilySearch“affiliate library” documents.

Once at the GSV please follow instructions so that we can ensure that our staff and members are safe.


Thank you for all your support during this second Covid closure.

Where in the world did you come from? 'Here there and everywhere'

Maltese migrants arriving 1948.
Maltese migrants arriving 1948
Bill Barlow
9 November 2020

I recently resumed research on another of my great grandfathers - an Engine Room Artificer in the Royal Navy. I came across a baptism record possibly for his father as the son of 'William John Stevens and Giovanna Assenza' and that of his brother 'born at the Parent's Residence in the Island of Malta... now of Nottingham Row', Surrey. In a few clicks a whole new world of Malta and the Levant in the early 19th C opened up, as I found that he and his sons were British Consuls in Malta. Wonderful! Now that I had an Italian forebear this find promised an exotic international escape from the Colonial convict sagas of my book 'Guilty and Lucky'. 'Malteasers' all round! Alas it was not to be. 


Our last census showed that 40% of Australians had parents who were born in countries other than England, Scotland, Ireland or Australia. Many of us will be searching for our ancestors all around the world. The GSV offers lots of help in non-English research in particular via its International Settlers Group. This service group of the GSV meets quarterly and welcomes new members.


Its next meeting is on Saturday 21 November, 1.00 pm via Zoom (numbers limited).


Here, there and everywhere - coming out of my comfort zone”


 Susie Zada will talk about her European ancestors after she finally found the courage to do more than write foreign places of birth in her family tree.  It has been a journey of fear, discovery and excitement involving both traditional research combined with DNA discoveries.


Susie started researching her own family history back in 1965 and has worked as a genealogist, historian and researcher since 1990.  She completed an Associate Diploma in Local and Applied History at the University of New England (Armidale, NSW) in 1996 and has been working in the area of the built Heritage since 1996.

She has won a number of local and Victorian awards for her contribution to local and family history and was the Winner of the VAFHO 2019 Frances Brown Award for Excellence to Family History in Victoria. Susie has researched and published several books as well as historical interpretive displays, CD-ROMs, indexes and extensive web sites on local history – see http://zades.com.au/gandd/index.php


This talk is free to GSV Members and current ISG newsletter members, but you can join ISG vai the HGSV website. See more about this group HERE https://www.gsv.org.au/international-settlers-group


If you would like to explore your non-British roots you might like to join the members of the International Settlers Group - who can guide you in the rich and interesting global world of non-British family history. 


Go to our website to find out more about this group and to join.




'Maltese immigrants land in Sydney from the SS Partizanka on 13 December 1948'.

SMH 16 Jan 1948, p.3. SLV H92.420/191. Unknown creator, Wikimedia Commons.


Where has the year gone? More Events at GSV

Bill Barlow
26 October 2020
GSV News


Where has the year gone?

Footy done! And not going to the Races this year! But luckily summer is coming.

In Melbourne we have had to find the old picnic gear and resurrect such outdoor pastimes to see our friends and family. But the GSV keeps cooking up online events to compete with the picnics and obligatory walking. (Have the dogs ever been walked so much!)

For the closing months of the year, you can book online for these four interesting presentations. We have increased the numbers who can attend, so you should be able get in if you check your busy calendars and book NOW.

Go to our website to book https://www.gsv.org.au


5 November at 11 am

The Diary of Isabelle Quin of Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland

Carmel McEvey will present details of a diary, written by an Irishwoman during the 1860s, which provides an insight into the role of women during this period.

Her diary offers a significant insight into the role of women during the mid-Victorian era and it illustrates the importance and context of place for family historians when undertaking research. The diary offers a snapshot of society of the era and its connections to landed gentry, the military and those of standing in the community.

Carmel McEvey is a GSV member who has recently completed a Master of Arts (History of Family) (Hons), and a Certificate of History of Family and Genealogical Methods (Hons) at the University of Limerick in Ireland.


19 November at 1 pm

Grave Concerns of the Queen Victoria Market

The Old Melbourne Cemetery, which opened in 1837, was doomed as it was surrounded by the growing settlement of Melbourne. Dr Celestina Sagazio will discuss this cemetery, which now lies beneath The Queen Victoria Market.

This illustrated presentation will provide fascinating information about the Old Melbourne Cemetery, which opened in 1837, as well as revealing details about the development of the market itself. This was Melbourne’s first official cemetery but over time it became surrounded by settlement and over government authorities and businesspeople planned to replace it with the Queen Victoria Market. It is estimated that the remains of 7000 people are still buried beneath the market. This very interesting and much-loved historic site is steeped in history and will reveal many astonishing stories.


Dr Sagazio is a recognised authority on the history and conservation of cemeteries in Victoria and Melbourne’s heritage. In addition to her publications, Dr Sagazio shares her passion and enjoyment of heritage, by bringing history to life in an engaging and informative way through story-telling, presentations and specialty tours. Dr Sagazio is the organiser/tour guide of the very popular and professionally-choreographed Halloween cemetery tours and other well-received night and day tours of Melbourne General Cemetery which raise funds for the restoration of significant cemetery monuments.


24 November at 10.30 am

Frontier Encounters between Europeans and Aboriginals

Dr Richard Broome will discuss the impact of Europeans on the networks of kinship, trade and culture that various Aboriginal peoples of Victoria had developed over millennia.

From first settlement to the present, he shows how Aboriginal families have coped with ongoing disruption and displacement, and how individuals and groups have challenged the system. With painful stories of personal loss as well as many successes, Dr Broome outlines how Aboriginal Victorians survived near decimation to become a vibrant community today.

RICHARD BROOME is a Professor of History and Associate at La Trobe University. One of Australia's most respected scholars of Aboriginal history, he has written many articles and books including Aboriginal Australians and Sideshow Alley.



3 December at 10.30 am

John Marshall: Immigration to Victoria before the Goldrush

John Marshall, shipowner and Lloyd’s agent, was influential in the bounty emigration schemes introduced in the Port Phillip District in 1839. Dr Liz Rushen will discuss Marshall’s lifeand the schemes. 

When the Port Phillip District was opened up to bounty emigration in 1839, a flood of emigrants poured into the new colony, most encouraged by John Marshall. He had immigrants on three of the first five bounty ships and when the trade was at its peak, he sent a ship to Australia every month. In this talk, Liz Rushen will discuss the work and influence of John Marshall.

Dr Liz Rushen is a Melbourne-based historian who has written extensively on nineteenth Century migration to Australia. She is an adjunct research associate in the School of Historical Studies at Monash University.



Register for the events by logging into the Member’s section of the GSV website.

Further talks are being planned for 2021


If you want to comment on any of our posts you can do so in the COMMENTS section at the bottom or add your comments to the post republished on the GSV facebook page. [Ed.]

The ex-Convict Marriage Celebrant

Wedding couple c.1860s
Bill Barlow
19 October 2020

Churches do not feature so widely in our families today. We tend to forget the powerful part religious institutions and beliefs commonly played in the lives of our ancestors. 

And the recent history in our families is often lost. I recall a few years ago tracking down the resting place of a common grandfather with some English cousins, who exclaimed that this could not possibly be him as it showed he was cremated and his ashes spread in the Anglican section and 'we are Catholic'. We had to break the news that they were only a recent break with a long Protestant line. So I keep an eye out for religious affiliations when researching past family members - after all wars, let alone family disharmonies have turned on this. 

Having written in my book Guilty and Lucky of a marriage in my family in 1870 by the Rev William Bailey, who it was said 'appeared to run a marriage shop' from his house at 41 Burton Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney, I was very interested to come across him again in the following article by one of our GSV Writers, Gayle Nicholas.


The Ex-convict Marriage Celebrant



Marriage certificates are crucial documents in genealogy research.  Every detail on a certificate is scrutinised hoping to find new information or to verify previously discovered details. Names, ages, occupations, locations and celebrants may be confirmed or become doubtful. But I had not expected the study of my great grandparents’ marriage certificate would uncover a nineteenth century Minister of Religion of some notoriety.

    According to their marriage certificate, my great grandparents Richard James Price and Mary Boyce of Surry Hills NSW were married in 1868 'According to the rites of the Free Church of England'. Having never seen the adjective 'Free' on a Church of England certificate my curiosity was aroused. 'Free', Googlequickly revealed, did not refer to ideology but to cost. This Church did not charge fees for marriage services. My focus quickly moved from the Church itself to its intriguing celebrant, the Rev William Bailey. His story reveals a determined and clever man, wronged by authority, or a rogue, or a combination of both.

    Bailey, a well-educated Irish ex-convict, was described by Alan Grocott in Convicts, Clergymen and Churchesas a 'bizarre clergyman'. Born in Ireland in 1806, he became a Church of England minister. In 1838, six years after marrying, he moved with his wife to Westminster in London where he held a position as Rector. In 1841 he was found guilty of forging a promissory note. He was transported from England to Van Diemen’s Land in 1843. Four years after his arrival in the colony he was granted a ticket of leave.

    His wife had followed him from England and they ran schools in Hobart. After he received a Conditional Pardon, Bailey settled in Sydney. There, Bailey and his wife earned income through teaching and writing. In 1864 he established the Free Church of England, in Surry Hills, in inner Sydney. In 1868, Bailey performed 350 marriages. He married many tradespeople like Richard and Mary as well as some ‘less respectable citizens’. He criticised pew rents and charging fees for marriage. His supporters claimed more de facto couples married because of his services. However, he received a poor press in the Sydney Morning Heraldand had several fractious encounters with authorities and courts. These encounters increased after he styled himself as a Bishop in late 1868. In 1871 he was charged with celebrating the marriage of a minor and imprisoned for six months. He was never able to successfully re-establish his church. He died in 1879.

    I ponder my great grandparents’ relationship with this church and with Bailey. Why marry in the Free Church of England?  My first thought, a humorous one, stemmed from memories of family members teasing my grandfather Alfred, Richard and Mary’s youngest son, about the Welsh in him making him tight with money.  More important, Richard, Mary and her extended family were all part of the developing Surry Hills community where Bailey had established his Church. Mary’s parents were Irish Assisted Immigrants, and may well have connected with Bailey through the Irish community.

    After the Price family moved to Melbourne between 1877 and 1881 they attended St Saviours in Collingwood and the Welsh Church in Melbourne. St Saviours, when established in 1875, was also described as a ‘free’ Church. 

    In genealogy research choices need to be made.  So do I pursue research on Rev William Bailey and the Free Church movement, or do I return to my family tree – and see where the next marriage, birth or death certificate leads me?

Gayle Nicholas


We might be left wondering about the legitimacy of such marriages and the attraction of our forebears to the more obscure churches and sects.[Ed.]



Guilty and Lucky, William Barlow, 2020 - in which I of course declare an interest.

'Bailey, William (1806-1879)' by TB McCall, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol.1. (MUP), 1966 and ANU online.

Convicts, clergymen and churches: attitudes of convicts and ex-convicts towards the churches and clergy in New South Wales from 1788-1851, by Allan Grocott, Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1980.

'William Bailey and the Free Church of England in NSW' by E D Daw, in JRAHS Vol. 58, pt. 4, December 1972.

Image: Wedding couple: Juliane and Christian Schilling c.1860. Fruhling Studios, Moculta Collection, State Library of South Australia Item B41306 (cropped) accessed at https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+41306.

This month's author belongs to the GSV Writers Discussion Circle and this article was originally published for the GSV in Fifty-Plus News, 2014.

Tale of a naughty lad wins 2020 GSV Writing Prize

Bill Barlow
7 October 2020
GSV News

I was very pleased to announce the Winner and Runner-up of this year's GSV Writing Prize at a Zoom ceremony on Saturday 3 October.

The Winning Entry was 'Tom were the naughty ladby Brian Reid. The Runner-up prize was awarded to Susan Wight for her piece 'Webster Soda Water'.

Ancestry provided the prize for the winner of a 12-month subscription to Ancestry Worldwide plus an Ancestry DNA Kit, as well as a 6-month subscription for the Runner-up. The GSV thanks Ancestry.com for their continued support. 

Things were a bit different this year, as our award announcement could not be made at the AGM, which has been postponed. Instead 22 members assembled at a Zoom event to hear the announcement and congratulate the winners.


On behalf of the judging panel Margaret Vines observed that all 12 entries were of a good standard and that they covered a wide range of subjects and some unusual themes, which the judges had found interesting. Our guest judge, Dr Gary Presland, archeologist, historian and award-winning writer, commented that he had enjoyed reading writing which took him to places he had not been before.We thank Gary very much for his time as our guest judge this year.

Last year the Prize was opened to any members of GSV Member Societies and we are pleased that our runner-up heard of the Prize through her local group, the Queenscliffe Historical Museum. We hope to publicise this Prize more widely amongst our regional societies in future.

The wining entry 'Tom were the naughty lad' will be published in the coming December issue of Ancestor. The Judge's Report will also be published then and on the GSV's website.

On behalf of Council I extend our thanks to the judges, Gary Presland, Joy Roy, Margaret Vines, Tina Hocking and Bill Barlow; to Leonie Elliss, the coordinator of the competition process, and to the AncestorEditorial Team for its custodianship of this important event in our year.

One of our objectives is to encourage family history writing and these entrants demonstrated how important it is that we all tackle the writing as well as the researching of our family stories.


Our Zoom screens did not have a button to raise virtual glasses in a toast to this year's winner and runner-up, but there was distant clapping at separate computer terminals across the land. 

Congratulations to Brian and Susan and all the entrants.


Jenny Redman

President GSV

'The Good Oil' : a new Topic is added to our October Events

Is this your family?
Is this your family?
Bill Barlow
3 October 2020
GSV News

Our program of Zoom events continues to expand in October. We have extended the number of participants we can accommodate in our classes and discussions as we gain experience conducting these sessions.


'The Good Oil' - Oct 20

We are introducing a new series of events commencing this month. ‘The Good Oil’ will be sessions designed to enable members to share their tips and tricks about a wide range of subjects. The topics will be initially discussed by a panel of GSV Research Assistants and other volunteers before being open to questions and answers and general discussion. The topic for the first session on 20 October will be: useful, mainly free, tools to assist with digital image manipulation, and ideas, systems and techniques for filing your digital images and documents. The tips and tricks discussed will be pertinent to both the Windows and Mac OS operating systems. 

Suggested topics for future sessions have included the pros and cons of some family history software programs, methods of citing sources and tips and tricks for using Trove.We would be interested in receiving suggested topics from you. You could email those to education@gsv.org.au


There are spaces available in our Discussion Circles and our classes including Linley Hooper’s class about GSV’s new library catalogue and our databases. 


Oct 8 - Catch up with our Catalogue and Databases - Linley Hooper

With our new look catalogue and databases now is a good time to catch up with their attributes. These small-group classes are designed to enable you to get the most out of the computer-based resources available in the GSV library and at home. This class will be held online via Zoom. 11 am - 12 noon. Maximum of 15 participants.

Free for GSV members -  $20 non-members. Please Register HERE.


Oct 13 - DNA Ancestry's ThruLines - Alan Rhodes

ThruLines is a feature on Ancestrythat provides you with another way to view your matches and potentially identify new ancestors.  The presentation demonstrates how to use ThruLines, verify the suggestions and extend your family tree. This talk will be presented online via Zoom

Please Register HERE.


There is something of interest for everyone. If you did not have an opportunity to attend an event at the Centre now is your opportunity to join online.

Make sure you book! Log in to the GSV website as a member to book your place, and the session details with a clickable link will be emailed back as part of your booking confirmation. Information about using Zoom may be found on our website and in the September issue of Ancestor.


We are still here to help you on your family history journey. JOIN US



Photo credit: 'Is this your family?'  A typical suburban family spied on a Covid walk - within 5 k of course! Courtesy of one of our members, Louise Wilson (author 'Sentenced to Debt: Robert Forrester, First Fleeter', 2020).

Map it! Using maps for your research

Shakespeare's 'hood', London c.1600 . The Agas Map.
Shakespeare's 'hood', London c.1600 . The Agas Map.
Bill Barlow
25 September 2020

Webcasts to help you use maps

for your family history research


Maps are lovely things! I have been reading The Lodger Shakespeare by Charles Nicholl in which he recreates the neighbourhood of Silver Street within the walls of London, where the Bard lived in about 1600. He walks us around the streets on the famous  'Agas ' woodcut map of London c.1561.


I did a similar exercise for my great great grandfather's town lots in Molong NSW in 1861, describing buildings of the time on an imagined walk from his house into the town. 

Understanding where your ancestors lived, worked and travelled is an important part of family history research. 

There is such a wealth of map images and tools available, so we have sought guidance from some of our experts and have assembed a collection of recorded talks that will help you in this task. 

Six of these talks are now available as webcasts for streaming through a dedicated link on the Member’s section of our website. Sign on as a Member and go to the Members Area. There you will see a link to 'Maps - a Source for family history'. (If you are not yet a Member, this is another reminder about what you can find at GSV).

The webcasts examine topics such as the journeys that our ancestors took from Europe, the landscapes they encountered when they arrived in Melbourne and the development of Melbourne and Geelong through the lens of the sewerage plans developed by the Government. 

· Joy Roy’s talk uses examples from the ScotlandsPeoplewebsite to examine the importance of locating your ancestor in a place and time. 

· Librarian Judy Scurfield tells us about the extensive online collection of maps of Victoria, Australia and elsewhere held at the State Library of Victoria. 

· Meg Bate introduces Historypinand shows us how to use this online mapping tool to share photos, stories and your family history.

These webcasts are informative and interesting and valuable resources to assist your family history research. Enjoy them and the many others in our extensive collection.


References to illustrations

Civitas Londinium.the 'Agas' map of London, c.1561, Maps of Old London, Adam and Charles Black, Lond., 1908 / scanned and corrected Mike Calder 2009, accessed 25/9/2020. Detail showing Shakespeare's neighbourhood (Wikimedia Commons CC-PD-Mark).

Map of East and West Molong and Suburban Lands, 4th ed. (courtesy of the Registrar General, NSW Dept of Customer Service /Annotated W. Barlow 2019) in 'Guilty and Lucky', William Barlow, 2020, fig. 5.4