Thursday, 30 January 2014

Future books?

I'm looking at New Zealand Immigrant ships for future books.  My favourites so far are:

The Mystery
The Mermaid
The John Temperley
The Blue Jacket

At the moment I am writing a book on the Cashmere and the Chrysolite.  So many books to write!  This lot will take me a few years I'm guessing

Any other suggestions greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

How to Research a New Zealand Immigrant Ship

I have now written five books on immigrant ships with more in the pipeline.  I have never found a boring immigrant ship, although maybe I'm the boring one being so interested in them!  Most ships have at least one tale of woe, one tragedy or one amazing link with huge moments in history.  I encourage you to research the ships your ancestors came on and I guarantee that you will learn more about what your ancestors went through on the voyage and the people who they were interacting with while travelling, on what was often a long and monotonous journey.

Where to start researching your ancestral ship?

1. Type the name of your ship into Google and the year it sailed.  Often a rootsweb page will appear with details of the ship.   I have typed in 'Ivanhoe 1864' without quotation marks and the following three pages appear:

  1. 1864 "Ivanhoe" voyage acccounts. - RootsWeb
    Feb 16, 2002 - The 'IVANHOE'. From The Lyttelton Times 14 June 1864. "Marred by no fewer than 25 deaths among the passengers. Twelve of these caused ...

  2. "Ivanhoe" London to Lyttelton 1864 with passengers for Timaru
    THE 'IVANHOE'. From The Lyttelton Times 14 June 1864. "Marred by no fewer than 25 deaths among the passengers. Twelve of these caused by low fever.

  3. Ivanhoe1864 - Freepages -
    The voyage of the ship Ivanhoe from England to New Zealand in 1864 was ... Under the command of Captain Dunn, the Ivanhoe left Plymouth on February 25.
    Most of the information you need is on there, but to avoid copyright or plagiarism issues you need to find the original sources of information.  Also it is SO wrong to copy someone elses work.  You need to either obtain permission or find the original source and do the work yourself.  It doesn't take long to do the work yourself and is much more satisfying.  The advantage of the above pages is that they instantly point you to many sources of information.

    2.  Find the original passenger lists.  I take a name from the above rootsweb site, or your own ancestors name and go to the famous Mormon website for researching your family tree for free.  On the home page click on "Records" and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Australia and New Zealand."  You will be taken to a page of records from these two countries.  Down the bottom of the page is "New Zealand Immigration Passenger Lists 1855-1973."  
    Click on this and type in a name from the passenger list or your own ancestor's name.  They should appear with a year of emigration next to them.  Find the correct person and click on them.  Then go to the image and you have the original passenger list.  Then go to page one.  I do all my passenger lists from original records as often the transcribed records on the web have a few transcription errors.  Often you know a lot more about the ship than most transcribers because you have researched the passengers, so know that the spelling of Barrett should be Barnett and so on!  You can put correct and incorrect spellings in the passenger list.
    3.  Use to search for your ship.  If there are lots of hits then narrow it down to a week after the ship arrived.  There will usually be one or two major reports on a ship about one to two days after the ship arrived in port.  Sometimes the main stories are spread over a week and include passenger lists.  Search advertisements as well as articles as often an advertisement has a testimonial to the Captain with an ancestor's name in it, or your ancestor may have lost some luggage and is asking for it back in an ad!  Sometimes you need to search months ahead as there may be court cases and other interesting articles that mention your ship.
    4.  Go to Trove ( and search for your ship on there.  It can turn up other Australasian journeys, where the ship was built, where it was wrecked etc and even pictures of the ship.
    5.  Do the same in 19th Century British Newspapers  which is a database available through many New Zealand public libraries.  Just enter your library card number and password and browse in the comfort of your own home!

    6.  Find your ship in one of Ian Nicholson's amazing books "Record of Records" which details where to find diaries and ship logs for your own ship.  If you find there are diaries then try and order them from Alexander Turnbull Library, Museums and other places.  If there are no diaries, don't fret, yet!

    7.  Look at the cabin passengers on your journey or any "famous" or well known passengers who were mentioned in the newspapers.  Often there are letters or diaries still in existance for these well known people with journey summaries.  Bingo!  Often you will find something startling that wasn't in Ian Nicholson's amazing book.

    8.  Then research obituaries for people who were on the ship in Papers Past.  Often they died many years after the journey and sometimes these obituaries have comments about the journey.  Sometimes there is a comment that Joe Blogs has written his autobiography.  Search for this autobiography in the public libraries.  These most often have details of the voyage.  Some have almost a full summary of the voyage as the writer has worked from his or her own diary.  This original diary may have been lost, but their autobiography lives on.  Sometimes these autobiographies have startling details about other passengers and what became of their lives and how they interacted with the person writing the autobiography.  It could even be your own ancestor mentioned!

    9.  If you still can't find any decent accounts of your ship voyage and you only have a few lines from a newspaper then search Papers Past again.  Sometimes this can take hours and hours but will often turn up a reunion of the ship 50 years later with some details of the voyage.  Or sometimes you will find an 80 year old telling the story of their journey in the newspaper.

    10.  If all else fails research every single passenger on board your ancestor's voyage and often you will find a family tree book or two with one or two details from the voyage, based on people's memoirs.  Once you piece the newspaper articles you have together, plus these few details from memoirs, you start to build a complete story of the journey which no one has seen before.  It grows out of nothing into a wonderful thing.
    A word of warning.  People's memoirs after often grossly exagerated and do not match the newspaper reports of the day.  They often have embellishments, wrong names, etc.  I even read an obituary for a man who was a sailor on board a ship.  He must have told his family stories of a terrible storm at sea and if it hadn't been for him the whole ship would have been lost.  This was rubbish as the newspapers of the day stated a completely different person saved the ship!  So please treat all these memoirs with a grain of salt!  Remember if a person is 90 years old when they die, they can tell their family anything and there will be no one else alive from back in the day to correct them! 

    Diaries are, from my experience, way more correct, although sometimes a person wrote about a death or birth or other event many days after it happened which can be extremely confusing if you are comparing two diaries!
    11.  You will discover through all this research that your ship probably spent time a several wars, or was around when a major earthquake went off in Chille and a tsnami wave hit the ship etc.  This is exciting stuff.  Research what happened during these major events and how your ancestral ship was involved.  19th Century British Newspapers are helpful for this and other websites on major historical events.
    12.  Draw a map of the ship's journey using the latitude and longitude from newspaper reports and diaries.  You can find coordinates on Google by entering them in the search bar, or right click and click "What's here?" on the area you think the ship might have been.
    13. Find where the ship was built, using the tonnage, newspaper articles that suggest where it may have been built etc.  Often you will find a similar ship sailing at the same time and can not confirm which ship is which until you do extensive research in the newspapers.  Check details of ships on Lloyd's register.
    14.  Try and find what happened to the ship.  Often you will find a website or family story that says that after the passengers were dropped off at port, "then the ship returned to England and was never seen again."   I have seen this several times and every single time it has been an incorrect family story.   People exaggerating to make their lives seem more dramatic or interesting.  Search the newspapers, Lloyds register and just do google searches such as "Ivanhoe wrecked" and other searches. Sometimes it will come straight up!  Sometimes it will take a couple of nights to find it! Check the tonnage and other details to make sure you have the correct ship.

    15. If the diaries or journey details were not great, it pays to find some general information on ship board life.  There are museum websites and other places that have it.

    16.  Remember to always check copyright, ask permission, thank the person, reference the source and you will cover yourself from being guilty of any plagiarism.  If you ever make a mistake and publish something you shouldn't or get something wrong, apologise to anyone who contacts you about it.  Happy researching!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Sepia Saturday 211: The Great War

I love Sepia Saturday, check out the other great stories by clicking the link.  Today's theme was the great war or WWI.  I don't know why the called it great as war in general is anything but great.  When I started my family tree many years ago I discovered that I had no direct ancestors who went to either war.  I only have the odd Uncle or cousins many times removed who went.

I have already talked about my Uncle Willy going to war but thought I would include a couple of great pictures of a gas mask, probably with William Henry Pearce underneath.  He got back from war to find a relaxed Kiwi house in Christchurch with all his family still there.  He must have put this mask on so his brother Cyril, who was into amateur photography, could get an interesting shot.  I love this photo.  It is a scary face looking at you.  A mosquito type face.  A reminder of the Dr Who episode where the little boy with a gas mask face calls, "Where is my Mummy.  Are you my Mummy."  These masks were the stuff of nightmares.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Sepia Saturday 209: Who were the mysterious family and were they related to Jean Batten? And there is a Car in there too!

I decided to talk to my Grandma the other day about her father's side of the family.  She said that her father, Arthur Cyril Pearce used to say he was related to Jean Batten the famous pilot.  He used to go on about it all the time apparently.

Well I've searched my family tree and looked at her family tree and can't find the connection.  It may be a relationship only by marriage somewhere along the line.  Jean Batten was born in 1909 in Rotorua. 

However my great grandfather visited some family in Rotorua in 1920 with his brother Willy.  He travelled a long way from Christchurch in the South Island, by boat to the North Island.  I have traced his journey from Wellington and various other towns to Rotorua.  My Grandma said that there were family in Rotorua that he visited.  We have the following pictures of them with their animals and going about their daily business.

My great grandfather visited the hot springs at Rotorua and the Tarawera crater, the volcano that blew its top and covered the pink and white terraces.  He also visited Waitomo caves.

My great grandfather was also into cars such as this one.  It is parked in his father's shed, a 1920s blokes shed that housed the car, motorbike and the family business.  The father Arthur james Pearce was a cobbler and worked in this shed.  However on the journey to the North Island he took boats and horse driven coaches  and trains but no cars that I have seen.  They don't appear in his photos.

My great grandfather's family tree includes the names Pearce, Luff, Gillespie, Fogden and then more obscure relations such as the names Cheesman, Webley, Vivian, Bennett, Nelson, Bull, Glanville, Stone, Pope, Newman, Riddell, Unwin, Tweedie, Stevens, Skudder, Coombs or Coombes, Franklin, Edhouse, Hood, Potts, Voice, Reed, Brown and Gyde.  There are probably other families I haven't found yet.

The main names in the Jean Batten tree are Batten, Blackmore, Rigden, Lanning.  I can't find spouses for her brother's though who are:

Frederick Harold Batten born 1901
John Edward Batten born 1903

If anyone can find their spouses, it would be greatly appreciated.  Jean also had a brother Stanley Batten who didn't live to adulthood. 

So you can see my hunt for the Jean Batten connection is so far hopeless!  It must be a pretty vague link, but any link to Jean Batten would have been exciting I guess!  Any help greatly appreciated!

Click here for a link to who Jean Batten is, if you don't know already!