Category Archives: Resources

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand ~ Follow Friday

A great resource from the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre – a searchable full-text edition of all six volumes of The Cyclopedia of New Zealand.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand was published in six volumes between 1897 and 1908 by the Cyclopedia Company Ltd. Each volume deals with a region of New Zealand and includes information on local towns and districts, government departments, individuals, businesses, clubs and societies. Biographical entries frequently include the subject’s date and place of birth, the name of the ship by which immigrants arrived, spouse’s name, and the number and gender of children born to a couple. (NZETC website)

Members of the public paid to have an entry in the publication, so there is a bias towards those who could afford to do so. Few women, Māori or non-Europeans are included in the biographical section. However, it does give a wonderful snapshot of the towns and settlements in late 19th and early 20th century New Zealand, with the added bonus of maybe a snippet or two on your early settler ancestors.

Here is the entry for my great great grandfather, Michael Gaff(a)ney:

Gaffney, Michael, Farmer, “Belper Farm,” Arowhenua. Mr. Gaffney was born in 1836 at Belper, Derbyshire, England, and emigrated to New Zealand in 1858 by the ship “Cresswell,” landing in Lyttelton. He went to Timaru and was employed by Messrs. Rhodes Bros, for many years, principally at bush work and fencing. He was the first to take a waggon team to the Mackenzie country, and was engaged in the carrying business for some years. In 1861, he was the first who took up land on the Levels estate. The farm on which he resides comprises 548 acres, and he has another property of 252 acres at Washdyke, and a considerable amount of township property. In addition to wheat-growing, he fattens sheep for freezing, and disposes of a considerable number annually. Mr. Gaffney has been a member of the South Canterbury Hunt Club for many years and takes a general interest in sport. He was married in Christchurch to Miss Maggie Brosnahan, and has twelve children.1

Some of the biographical entries also included photos – perhaps you had to pay more for that?

This is just a little from the section on Temuka:

Temuka is on the main south line of railway, eighty-nine miles from Christchurch, and eleven miles to the north of Timaru. The surrounding district is rich agricultural country; towards the sea the land is particularly fertile, and was originally a wild swamp, but it now yields crops which average sixty bushels of wheat and from seventy to eighty bushels of oats to the acre. With a few exceptions, the holdings are comparatively large, and the whole district is dotted with fine plantations, which afford shelter to the stock and homesteads and lend a sylvan grace to the landscape. The district is well watered, as the Opihi and Temuka rivers are about half a mile from the town, the Orari three miles, and the Rangitata about ten. These rivers are known to all anglers as being stocked with trout, which, in respect to size and delicacy, equal the best in New Zealand. Temuka is, therefore, in high favour with anglers, some of whom come from Australia, and even England, every fishing season. In itself Temuka is a pleasant country town, with broad clean streets, and fresh water running in the side channels. It is well supplied with schools, churches, hotels, and livery stables. Many of the buildings are in brick, and the shops are supplied with articles equal to those to be seen in the larger centres of population. There are two doctors, two chemists, and one dentist in the town, which has a well kept park and domain, with a bicycle track, and tennis, cricket and football grounds. The post and telegraph office and the courthouse are built in brick. A large amount of business is transacted at the local railway station and the goods sheds. At the census taken on the 31st of March, 1901, Temuka had a population of 1,465; 767 males, and 698 females.2

According to the 2006 Census, Temuka now has a population of 4044: 1950 males, and 2091 females.2

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. “Gaffney, Michael”, The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], (The Cyclopedia Company Limited, 1903); digitised publication by New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d6-d101-d2.html).
  2. “[Temuka]”,  The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], (The Cyclopedia Company Limited, 1903); digitised publication by New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d6-d97-d1.html)
  3. “QuickStats about Temuka”, 2006 Census Data, Statistics New Zealand, (http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage.aspx : accessed 10 Feb 2012).

Excerpts from The Cyclopedia of New Zealand shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

National Coal Mining Museum, Yorkshire ~ Follow Friday

My 3 x great grandfather, Henry Nunns, was a coal miner, and his father and brothers worked in the mines as well. One of the highlights of my recent Yorkshire trip was visiting the National Coal Mining Museum near Wakefield, to find out what Henry’s working life might have been like.  If your ancestors had any connection with coal mining, this is a fantastic place to visit.  What’s more, it’s free!

I’d recently watched a documentary on child labour, The Children Who Built Victorian Britain, so I had a small idea of what coal mining was about, but I really wanted to find out more – and especially, to go down a coal mine.

Get kitted out with your miner’s helmet and battery lamp then step into the cage and descend 140m underground to discover the amazing sotry of mining through the ages.  Led by ex-miners, these hugely popular tours will give you a vivid insight into the dangers and hardships faced by the men, women and children who toiled deep below the ground.
– National Coal Mining Museum brochure

Now, I’m quite claustrophobic, and I was very nervous about going underground, so I managed to convince my seven year old son to go with me.  (I bribed him with the carrot of getting an awesome ‘Extreme Reading’ photo opportunity for a school competition when we were down in the mine.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised that cameras and phones were banned.  Ummm, sorry kid!)  I checked beforehand to see if there were any parts of the tour that involved crawling and the like, and I was assured that any crawling bits were optional and “for the kids”.   In any event, I was fine, and the tour was fantastic!  We were first shown an area of the pit from the 1820s, and then were slowly taken down all manner of tunnels and ‘roadways’.  Our guide, an ex-miner, gave an illuminating picture of what life was like for miners over the last two centuries.

The tour takes 90 minutes, and thankfully there was enough above ground to keep my hubby and the two younger kids amused while #1 son and I took the tour.  (Children under five aren’t permitted on the tour.)  It’s a good idea to wear decent walking shoes, and a jacket or jumper, as it gets a little chilly underground.

Young miner, extreme reader

Young miner, not so extreme reader

Unfortunately I didn’t get much time to check out everything above ground, but there are historic colliery buildings, collections detailing mining history, displays of mining memorabilia, a library, nature trail, retired pit ponies, plus a shop, small children’s indoor playroom, cafe and picnic area.

I did get to buy a book which our guide had recommended, and to which I also give a big thumbs up – Victoria’s Children of the Dark by Alan Gallop.  It tells the story of the children who worked in the mines in the early 19th century, and recreates the events surrounding the 1838 Husker Pit disaster at Silkstone, Yorkshire.  Definitely a fascinating read after being down a mine and seeing the actual working conditions.

National Coal Mining Museum for England
Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton
Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4RH
tel: +44 1924 848806
www: www.ncm.org.uk

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

A Day in Dublin

I was in Dublin visiting friends over the weekend, and because of the Bank Holiday in the UK, had decided to stay until the Monday and grab some precious research time – and my first foray into records there.

I had an early start, as I was driving into Dublin from Co Wicklow, but traffic was definitely not as bad as it was a few years ago.  First task was parking the car, and I’d chosen the parking building off Trinity Street, despite it being horrendously expensive, as it was near to my last stop of the day.

And so, onto Lombard Street and Joyce House, where I hoped to pick up the marriage certificate of Mary Jane Clark and her first husband.  After a short wait, I was told at the counter that they only dealt with certificates for marriages after 1920, and directed me to Navan (where the marriage took place) and the GRO in Roscommon.  Neither place was on my itinerary for that day!  I hurried over the river to the Irish Life Centre in Lower Abbey Street and the GRO Research facility there, where I filled out the appropriate form, paid €4 and waited.  I was warned it would take approximately 20 minutes, and I was thinking I should have brought a book with me, but in the end it was probably only ten minutes and then I was on my way.

Just across the courtyard, in Block 2 of the Irish Life Centre, is the Valuation Office.  It was very quiet in there, no waiting at all, and after giving a staff member the name of the townland I was interested in, relevant Revision books (or ‘Cancelled Land Books’) then came out.  After Griffith’s Valuation,  the revision books show the change in ownership and occupancy, as well as size and value, of a piece of land over the years.  Changes were recorded in different coloured ink, depending on the year, which makes it more useful to view the original books in colour, rather than in black and white on microfilm at an LDS centre.  The books themselves go from around 1859, essentially a copy of the Valuation, up until 1977.  (Thanks to Donna Moughty and her blog post that alerted me to this valuable resource!) Self-service full-colour A3 copying is available, at a cost of €1 a sheet, and it took almost no time to copy the fifteen pages I wanted.

Next stop: the National Library in Kildare Street.  I stowed my bag and coat in a free locker, and set off upstairs to the Main Reading Room to get a reader’s card.  To view the church records I wanted, it didn’t look like I needed one, but they’re valid for three years, so it was good to get it for later research.  I had brought along some passport-size photos, but they weren’t required as they take your photo there.  Once I’d been issued with my card, I headed back downstairs to the Genealogical Service room with a helpful staff member, who showed me where the church records on microfilm were kept and set me up with a microfilm reader in a separate room.  Once I found a record, I had to take the film back to the Genealogical Service room to wait for a reader connected to a scanner.  I also had to buy a printer card (€1) from the shop to pay for any copies I wanted. Unfortunately, when I came to print the first record I had found, the scanner machine failed to work.  Which meant a 20 minute wait for the only other machine in the room.  (I felt sorry for the main staff member in the room – very overworked, and running around doing an amazing job trying to help everyone as quickly as she could.)  After finally being able to print the record, my time was up – I had just enough time to grab a very quick cuppa with a friend before heading off to the airport.

Follow Friday ~ CityArk’s Medway Ancestors

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had found James Florey and Elizabeth Jane Knott’s marriage, and their daughter Jane Elizabeth’s baptism, in FamilySearch.

Of course, what I really wanted to do was view the records in the parish registers. Fortunately, Frindsbury, where James and Elizabeth’s marriage took place, and the parish of St Margaret where Jane was baptised, both lie within the district of Medway. And the Medway Council provide an enormous boon to family and local historians – images of real live actual records, online!

Medway Ancestors is Medway Council’s project to publish images of the original parish registers in its custody on the Medway Archives web site CityArk. The registers are held on deposit from the local parish churches and cover the Rochester Archdeaconry area, extending from Dartford and Gravesend in the west to Rainham in the east and focusing on the Medway Towns.

The project has been made possible by a grant of £49,500.00 by the Heritage Lottery Fund under the Your Heritage scheme.

James and Elizabeth’s marriage record
All Saints Parish (Frindsbury, Kent, England), Register of Marriages 1813-1822 [P150/1/10], p138, James Florey and Elizabeth Jane Knott, 05 Mar 1820; digital images, Medway CityArk (http://cityark.medway.gov.uk/ : accessed 23 Nov 2010).

Jane’s baptism record
St Margaret Parish (Rochester, Kent, England), Register of Baptisms 1813-1832 [P305/1/7], p 189, Jane Elizabeth Flora, 02 Jan 1825; digital images, Medway CityArk (http://cityark.medway.gov.uk/ : accessed 30 Dec 2010).

For lists of parishes covered and tips on how to use the site, check out Medway Ancestors.

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.