Author Archives: Maggie

In celebration of Marriage ~ Wedding Wednesday

A post to commemorate the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in New Zealand today, which ensures that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose (and in doing so, will create some interesting scenarios for us family historians!).

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900.  This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret's parents, Michael and Margaret.

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900. This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret’s parents, Michael and Margaret, in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ.  (Larger version 1.4Mb)

Wedding Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

In Remembrance on this Day ~ Arohanui, Peter

95 years ago today, Peter Michael Gaffaney was wounded in action during a German offensive at the Somme. He died en route to hospital from shell wounds to the face and neck.

After our visit to Ypres, we took a three hour detour through France to visit his grave site at Louvencourt Military Cemetery.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013

The cemetery, containing 230 graves, is beautifully kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and there is a register of those buried there, and a visitors book you can sign.

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013


Journey to Ypres, Belgium

I tagged a visit to Ypres onto a weekend trip to see friends in Belgium. Having never been, I was keen to see the area where my cousin Peter (first, thrice removed) had fought during World War I and find out a bit about life on the Western Front.

After leaving Brussels at midday on Easter Sunday, our first stop was at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  It was here I was hoping to learn more about the New Zealand Division’s role in the area, and in that respect I was a little disappointed.  To be fair, our journey through the exhibits was at the speed of a four year old’s attention span, so I couldn’t stop and linger,  but I didn’t see a huge amount about the Kiwi involvement.  I guess, (as my husband pointed out), the New Zealanders were a very small number compared to other nationalities, even though the battles here at Passchendaele included the “blackest day” in NZ history.

Replica of a command post in the tunnels - Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

Replica of a command post in the tunnels – Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

On the lower floor of the museum is a replica dugout and tunnel system with (a bit scary for the kids) sound effects – I found this section fascinating (and please excuse the dodgy photography).

Bunks in the tunnels - Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

Bunks in the tunnels – Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

The small bookshop was a surprise – a great array of books available on a New Zealand theme and I had to stop myself from grabbing the lot!  I restrained myself to just one:  Massacre at Passchendaele: The New Zealand Story by Glyn Harper.   The other thing I bought was a Zonnebeke trench map (28 N.E. 1, Edition 7. A Scale 1: 10,000), in the hopes that it would be useful as a guide while reading historical accounts of the battles in the area. Plus, I love maps.

Outside the museum it looks like some construction work is underway, and I wonder if it is part of the outside trench replica that I’d read about, which will be completed for the 2014 commemorations.  If you’re bringing kids, it might be an idea to pick up food/snacks on your way, as the onsite eating options are limited and a bit pricey. Our kids, fueled by a breakfast of chocolate Easter eggs, turned up their noses at the gloriously green gloop offered at the bar (a very tasty chervil soup, though it sounded like the waitress called it “gerbil soup” which worried me initially – I had to check that it was  “vegetarian”) and consoled themselves with freshly baked bread.

Before we headed to Ypres, we managed to find the New Zealand memorial at ‘s Gravenstafel, just outside Zonnebeke, which commemorated the Kiwi involvement in the Battle of Broodseinde on October 4th, 1917.

New Zealand Memorial, 's Gravenstafel, Zonnebeke

New Zealand Memorial, ‘s Gravenstafel, Zonnebeke

This Monument marks the site of
Gravenstafel which on October the 4th
1917 was captured by the New Zealand
Division as part of a General Advance
towards Passchendaele

“From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth”

My daughter placed a small remembrance cross at the foot of the memorial.

There were many other places I wanted to stop at, including Tyne Cot cemetery, but unfortunately rumbling young tummies forced us on to Ypres.

Our hotel for the night was located on Grote Markt in the centre of town,  and after filling up on dinner and waffles (not necessarily in that order), we walked to the Menin Gate for 8pm to hear the Last Post.  Completed in 1927, the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War I and who have no known graves.  Nearly 55,000 names are inscribed on the memorial, and if a soldier’s remains are found and identifed, his name is removed.  Except during the German occupation of the town in World War II, the Last Post has been played every night at the Menin Gate since 1928, as an expression of gratitude by the people of Ypres to all those who gave their lives for Belgium’s freedom.

It was a cold but beautiful clear night, and the trumpet sound filled the air and lingered over us.  Gets me every time I hear it.  (I had to turn around and ‘shhh’ at a man talking through it  – even my kids were quiet, so not sure why he needed to be yapping on!)   A special wreath-laying took place afterwards, accompanied by bagpipes.  I didn’t recognise the first piece that was played, but the second was ‘Amazing Grace’. Again, very moving.

Last Post at Menin Gate, Ypres - March 2013

Last Post at Menin Gate, Ypres – March 2013

The next morning my 8 year old son and I took off to see In Flanders Fields museum, a few minutes walk from the hotel.  It’s an amazing place, telling many personal stories in an audiovisual way that both of us enjoyed. (I don’t think my 6 and 4 year olds would have liked it as much, however.) We climbed the bell tower  and braved the freezing wind to take in the views over Ypres and beyond.  There are further developments at the museum planned in time for next year’s commemorations.

View over Grote Markt towards Menin Gate, from bell tower, Ypres

View over Grote Markt towards Menin Gate, from bell tower, Ypres

Before we left Ypres, I visited Menin Gate again to view some of the names there of the missing, but didn’t find any New Zealanders.  Later, I found out that the names of the NZ missing are listed elsewhere. Doh!  (The New Zealand Remembrance & Battlefield Tours website has a great list of Kiwi-related memorials and cemeteries.)

There are so many sites to visit and we had so little time, but our quick look has made me excited to read up more and then visit again. Soon!

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres, Belgium ~ Wordless Wednesday


Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres - April 2013

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres – April 2013

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres - April 2013

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres – April 2013

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

To Flanders Fields

Yesterday I posted a photo of my cousin (first, thrice removed), Peter Michael Gaffaney.  I’ve shown the image before, in a post commemorating ANZAC Day – Australia and New Zealand’s “Remembrance Day”, on April 25th.

In that previous post, I gave some of the information I had gleaned from Peter’s service record.  However, the details of his time fighting on the Western Front during the Great War are merely a collection of dates and places and not much else, and I’ve often wondered about what happened out there, what battles he was involved in, what it was actually like for him and his comrades in the NZ Rifle Brigade.  I’ll never come close to really understanding, but a glimpse would be a start.

So, when a trip to visit friends in Belgium at Easter was in the offing, I decided to organise a little detour.  We’re planning to stop for one night in Ieper/Ypres, and will hopefully get time to visit both the Memorial Museum Passeschendaele 1917 and In Flanders Field Museum, and attend the Last Post at Menin Gate.  I won’t get to see everything that I’d like on this fleeting visit, but I guess that’ll give me a good excuse to go back!


A fallen hero ~ Wordless Wednesday

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) is my first cousin, three times removed.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live : Day Two

Saturday was another busy day at  Who Do You Think You Are? Live.  I had three talks booked, as well as an Ask the Expert session, but otherwise had more time than Friday to wander around the stands and catch up with some friends.

First up for me was “Your Irish Ancestors and the Law”, with Brian Donovan talking about the Petty Sessions order books that are available on  The Petty Sessions courts handled most criminal cases in Ireland, apart from the most serious, and were held by Justices of the Peace without a jury.  Record taking was made mandatory in 1851 and so only a few earlier documents survive.  Among the order books are dog licence books (1850-1924) – every dog had to be licenced, and every farmer usually had a dog. Details  include owner’s name, address, and occupation.  Brian also discussed the Irish Prison Registers 1790-1924 on, another great resource.  I really enjoyed this session as I learnt a lot and Brian’s a very entertaining speaker.

I had a long break until my next talk and made the most of the time to chat with fellow IHGS students, and also to attend the inaugral WDYTYA? Live “tweet-up”, ably organised by Rosemary Morgan.  It was a great chance to meet some of the people I’ve been following on Twitter, and to discover more folks to follow!

My Ask the Expert session was with Kathy Chater who gave me some great tips on how to chase up details of my 3xgreat grandmother Elizabeth Rose, born in Cape Town in 1845.

Nick Barratt’s presentation on the future of genealogy was interesting, and it’s apparently his last gig at WDYTYA? Live as he is moving back to the National Archives to head up their Medieval team (amongst others).  Somehow I can’t see TNA keeping him away next year!

I then raced around like a mad thing to pick up a Flip Pal (thanks for speedy service, guys!) and the second-hand books I had scored earlier and were being kept for me by the bookstall, before leaping into the last talk of the day – Rosalind McCutcheon on The Registry of Deeds in Dublin.  Wow. What a resource!  I’ve heard Rosalind talk before, and so I signed up for this without knowing how much the Registry of Deeds could be of use to me in my own research.  It was a great way to end the day, and I am itching to get over to Dublin to start digging away amongst those dusty tomes.

Overall, I loved WDYTYA? Live this year more than other years.  I think the main difference was that there were more people I knew to chat to during each day, and I had chosen the talks I attended wisely. (Oh yeah, and I got my Flip Pal. And lots of books!)

Handouts for most of the talks will be available from the Society of Genealogists website soon, hopefully.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live : Day One

Last weekend I attended the Who Do You Think You Are? Live exhibition held at the Olympia in London.  It runs for three days, and I went along for the Friday and Saturday.

What struck me on Friday was how CRAZY busy it was in comparison to last year.  I like going on the Friday, because I have this idea it’s a “quiet” day.   Not so!  I  also filled up my time with four talks and the Keynote lecture with Q & A, so by the end of the day I was feeling rather overwhelmed.

WDYTYA? Live 2013

It doesn’t look that busy in this photo, but it was!

The most illuminating presentation I attended was Debbie Kennett’s “A Beginner’s Guide to DNA”.  A fellow IHGS student and I raced into the Olympia to get seats for her 11am session, and were not disappointed.  Debbie gave a clear and concise overview of the three main tests you can take : Y-DNA (males only), mtDNA and Autosomal, and explained how they can be used for genealogical connections.  I found it completely fascinating and now want to get everyone in my extended family tested!

In my Ask the Experts session I scored Dominic Johnson as my expert, and wished I had brought along my palaeography assignments instead of a question about my South African ancestor! Last year I had been inspired by her workshop on palaeography.

In the few spare minutes I had between talks, I managed to get my hands on a Flip Pal mobile scanner and find out all about it, with plans to buy the next day.  I also purchased four books on my ‘Want to Buy’ list (hurray for show specials!):

  • Bruce Durie’s Understanding Documents for Genealogy & Local History, The History Press (2013)
  • Simon Fowler’s Tracing Your Army Ancestors, 2nd ed., Pen & Sword (2013)
  • Celia Heritage’s Tracing Your Ancestors through Death Records, Pen & Sword (2013)
  • Debbie Kennett’s The Surnames Handbook, The History Press (2012)

One of the best parts of the day was chatting to the staff from IHGS, and catching up over dinner with fellow students.

A close family in life, and in death ~ Tombstone Tuesday

When I received a transcript of Mary Jane’s burial details from Lewisham Council, I wasn’t surprised to see she shared a grave plot. But I was surprised to find out that she was sharing it with five other people! (My previous post describes my search for the grave at Brockley Cemetery.)

It’s been a fascinating exercise to see who all these people were.

The plot was originally purchased by “Mr Rio G M Stapley” of 131 High Street, Deptford, on 12th June 1896 for £3, and the memorial on the grave is described as “Flat stone & Curb set on Landing (Full Memorial)”.

I can find no “Rio Stapley” in the censuses, but living at 131 High Street, Deptford, in both 1891 and 1901 is Michael P. Fannen, an Irish-born Roman Catholic priest, along with two other priests and a couple of housekeeping staff. Should “Rio” be “Rev”? It looks like the grave was donated or paid for by the local church, or perhaps a kind parishioner.

Person no. 1
On the 15th of June 1896, 17 year old Edmund Carroll was buried there. From checking the censuses, it appears he was the second son of John and Honorah Carroll, born in Deptford, Kent. His birth was registered in the September quarter of 1878 in Greenwich. (John Carroll was my great great grandmother’s third husband.)

Person no. 2
Honorah Carroll was buried in the same plot on 10th of February 1900, and was 55 years old. The censuses show her to be John Carroll’s wife, and give her birthplace as Co. Kerry, Ireland.

In 1901, John Carroll married Mary Jane Wright (previously Freeth, formerly Clarke), my great great grandmother.

John and Mary Jane Carroll, November 1917

John and Mary Jane Carroll, November 1917

Person no. 3
The third person interred was 41 year old John Carroll, eldest son of John and Honorah, buried on 8th February 1918. He was also born in Deptford, and his occupation in the 1891 census was pupil teacher.

On the 18th of February in 1918, the ownership of the grave transferred to Mr John Carroll of 180 Evelyn Street, Deptford.

Person no. 4
Johanna Colligan (transcribed as “Colhgan” in the burial register copy) is listed as the fourth internment on 16th of March 1918. She was 44 years of age, and John and Honorah’s eldest child. She married Richard Colligan in 1901, and they appear to have had three children: Honora in 1902, Michael in 1905, and Margaret Mary in 1910.

By March 1918, John Carroll had lost his wife and three of their four children.

Person no. 5
John himself joined them on 26th of January 1923, aged 76 years.

Person no. 6
The last person to be interred there was Mary Jane at 76 years of age, on 17th of February 1932.

On 4th of March 1932, the ownership transferred to Mary Freeth (no address given), Mary Jane’s eldest daughter.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Mary Jane’s grave ~ (Not so) Wordless Wednesday

Last week I posted a couple of photos of Brockley Cemetery in Lewisham. This is where my great great grandmother, Mary Jane (Clarke) Freeth/Wright/Carroll, was buried in 1932.  I’d found her entry in the Greenwich Union death register and discovered she had been buried “by friends” in Brockley Cemetery1.  In May 2012 I contacted Lewisham Council and a lovely staff member there sent me Mary Jane’s burial details, as well as a map marked with the location of her grave. Eureka!

My mother was visiting from New Zealand at the time, and together we set off to find Mary Jane’s grave. This is what we were confronted with in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery:

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London - June 2012

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London – June 2012

You can see how overgrown the area was – it was almost impossible to read any of the gravestones, even where the inscriptions were still legible.  After an hour, we gave up the search.

My next step is to contact the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries, in the hope that they may be able to pinpoint the grave location more accurately. And to buy some heavy-duty gardening tools.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Board of Guardians, Workhouse Woolwich Road (Greenwich Union, London, England), “Register of Deaths”, Mary Carroll death, 12 Feb 1932; digital images;, London, England, Deaths & Burials 1813-1980 ( : accessed 23 Jun 2011).