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Well that was Christmas

Life is just a bowl of...
Life is just a bowl of...
Bill Barlow
26 December 2021
GSV News

Hope you all had a good one despite everything!!

And you know what this means! It is soon time for New Year Resolutions! And it is easier this year - DON'T plan to travel much or far! DO plan to keep in e-touch with family and friends to the limit of the possible. DO plan to enrol in those INTERESTING GSV- events.

Also DO plan to finish that memoir and give it to the kids, and circulate that piece of family history research you have been keeping to yourself. Remember the research will never be finished (so that's not an excuse). Maybe publish in Ancestor - or even on this blog.


GSV will be open on Wed, Thurs and Friday 29-31 Dec so this is a great time to do some quiet research - and the city will be VERYYY quiet. Our office is on the edge of the city so quite safe and easy to pop in there.

UNTIL 31 DEC you can still use your State Library Victoria membership to access Ancestry database free online from home.


Events not to miss in January

24 JANUARY 8 to 9pm  - The 1921 Census is coming

FindMyPast has spent many years digitising and transcribing this unique snapshot of our recent history and is releasing the census on 6th January 2022.  The presentation will provide, along with the historical context, tips for effective searching and using it to trace elusive relatives. Presented by:Mary McKee,the Head of Content Publishing Operations at FindMyPast.


20 JANUARY -10.30 to 11.30am. 

Using the Tithe Apportionment Records of England and Wales

This talk will discuss the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act, which required tithes in kind to be converted to monetary payments. The resultant records and maps are a valuable resource to assist help learn about the places that your ancestors lived and worked. Presented by David Down.



After 5 years and 247 posts this is my last post as Blog Editor. I hope I have cajoled, prompted and encouraged you in your family history pursuits. I have enjoyed turning a phrase and sharing some of my own interests and thoughts. Bill

Did Ramesses III have a middle name?

Cartouche of Ramesses III
Cartouche of Ramesses III
Bill Barlow
20 December 2021
Treasure Chest

A muddle of middle names

I have always been intrigued about my maternal grandmother's middle names that seemed to indicate possible northern European links, but when I found her siblings' first names I was more intrigued - Owena Lila Haddock(!) and Percy Heyman Spurgeon! If that was a misspelling of 'sturgeon', could their father have been a fisherman with a sense of humour?

But 'Spurgeon' as a name is of Scandinavian origin and means 'little twig'. Percy was the youngest in that family. 'Haddock' became a surname from its origins as a personal name Hadduc - 'one who had prosperity and fortune' (www.surnamedb.com) - and not from catching lots of fish.

The usefulness of tracking unusual middle names was revealed when I found others in the wider family had also used 'Haddock' and this lead to a mother's or grandmother's last name being commemorated - so the female line was not lost. After battling through the repeating of male first names generation after generation - too many Henrys, Samuels, Williams and Johns - it is a relief to find some naming that is 'different...unusual, different, yeah, nice', but retains some continuity. Not like Brett and Kim's 'Epponnee-Raelene Kathleen Darlene Charlene' or baby  'Typhphaanniii'.

But predating Kath & Kim's consideration of 'i-v' for a name, another sibling in my family was first- named 'Ibee Estella'. 'Ibee' is very rare. It can occasionally be found as 'Iby' or 'Ibby' but considering the phonetic similarity of 'b' and v' it could be understood as 'Ivy' (see note). It is rare to find any written record of what parent's were thinking when first names were chosen. If they are not obvious continuations in the family, the only hope may be oral history. Hopefully someone remembers asking their mother or grandmother where the name came from. If you have an unusual name in the family, it may be good to do this now and record it. It would capture untapped family history.

As BDM records became formalised it is rarer to find nicknames or any indication of everyday names. Previously it was not uncommon for only such names to have been recorded. In the 1441 tax assessments for Bolton Lincs a group of women were recorded simply as 'Blaak Margaret'. 'Flemish Lysbet' and 'Gode for Eve'. And 'Baldwin Brekemaker'.

Nicknames (from ME eke-name = addition) can also be a source of confusion for the family historian. Often a middle name is preferred by its owner and given prominence. Harry and Henry, or in my case, Bill and William are used optionally. In our family a sibling was always called 'Old Nick' by everyone - nothing to do with his name Hubert, but a reference to him being called a 'little devil' as a child - and it stuck. Then in the following generation a boy who preferred to be called 'Nick' was always called 'Nicholas' by his grandmother, who wanted to avoid the earlier devilish tag given to her brother.

I am almost sorry we didn't pursue the name 'Billabong Barlow' for our first child, for its Aussie flavour!


And did Ramesses III (1217-1155 BCE) have a middle name?

Ramesses' two main names were Usermaatre-Meryamun Rameses-Heqaiunu, meaning "The Ma'at of Ra is strong, Beloved of Amun, Born of Ra, Ruler of Heliopolis" [Wikipedia]. Judging by his cartouche he may have been a cricketer who once infamously overstepped the crease when bowling!


  • Do I need a reference to Kath & Kim (Jane Turner and Gina Riley), ABC TV sitcom 2002-2005.?
  • Ibee may also be Ibbe - short for Isabel.

Do your ancestors come from Middle-earth?

British Midlands counties (Morwen at English Wikipedia CCA BY-SA 3.0)
British Midlands counties (Morwen at English Wikipedia CCA BY-SA 3.0)
Bill Barlow
11 December 2021
GSV News

If you have ancestors from the British Midlands and might be interested in forming a Discussion Circle to share your interest, join us this coming Wednesday. This would be a group for GSV Members only, but others are welcome if they join the GSV.


Researching English Midlands Counties

Wednesday 15 Dec 1.30-2.30 pm.

Presented by Vicki Montgomery via Zoom. Duration 1 hour.

The Midlands of England broadly correspond to the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia (527-879 AD).  It was arguably the origin and heartland of the industrial revolution. The area includes a wide variety of localities from the very rural to Birmingham, the second largest city in the United Kingdom. This will be a brief introduction to researching ancestors in the Midlands with a view to starting a GSV Discussion Circle.

Counties in the Midlands of England: Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire.

J.R.R.Tolkien (1892-1973) based his fantasy setting of Middle-earth, and in particular the region of The Shire, on the area of West Midlands. His fictional language of Rohan was derived from his study of the Mercian dialect.

However, you will not be able to trace your ancestry to the Hobbits!


Register online as a Member on the website to join in this discussion.

Free of charge, GSV members only. Please log in to receive the discount.




Round off the year

Florence Chefik Bey (born Winter-Irving)
Florence Chefik Bey
Bill Barlow
4 December 2021
GSV News

Round off an interesting year, with these family-history attractions in December - before you collapse into Christmas and holiday mode.



'The Melbourne Socialite & The Turkish Diplomat'

DEC 9 - THIS COMING THURSDAY - 9 DEC at 10.30 AM - by Zoom

Speakers: Patrick Ferry & Janan Greer

London, 1913: A wealthy young woman from a stately country home falls in love with and secretly marries a handsome young diplomat from the Turkish Embassy. It sounds like a plot line from the hit British period drama Downton Abbey. But it is the real-life story of Melbourne socialite Florence Winter-Irving. Florence’s story is told through records held by the National Archives of Australia, contemporary newspapers and treasured family memorabilia and traditions. Her story is set against the backdrop of patriarchal nationality laws, which stripped women of their own nationality when they married ‘aliens’ –  foreign men who were not British subjects.

This is for GSV members and limited in number. So go online and quickly book a spot. 


Our presenters

Patrick Ferry is the State Manager, Victoria for the National Archives of Australia. He is a professional archivist, local historian and author. Patrick’s most recent book Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Remembering the Pakenham District’s WW2 service personnel, 1939 – 1945, won the 2020 Victorian Community History Award for Best Local History Project.

Janan Greer is the great-granddaughter of Florence Winter-Irving. Janan works in marketing and communications and has a passion for family history and storytelling. She is the custodian of many family photographs, letters and documents relating to her paternal family lineage.



Members will have received the December issue of our award-winning Ancestor journal. If you are not a member you can always take out a subscription for 4 issues a year for $70.00, including postage.

You could give a friend a subscription for Christmas!  SUBSCRIBE HERE.

Our current edition features the winning article from the GSV Writing Prize, which is ‘The mystery of the extra Booth Hodgetts’ by Susan Wight. Other articles include an account of a medical orderly in the 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance in the First World War; the story of an unmarried mother in 19th Century Scotland, and Paul Magill's intriguing story of the bureaucratic goings-on of two men, John Lanktree and Matthew Jackson, who migrated to Australia and were appointed to senior positions overseeing the building of the Yan Yean Reservoir.  Jennifer MacKay relates the story behind the ‘The children in the lockup’ sculpture commissioned by Moonambel Arts and History Group to commemorate an event from 1896, and how, with the help of the GSV, she was able to trace a descendant of one of the children.



To say thank you to their valued family historians, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria (BDM Victoria) is offering downloadable uncertified historical certificates for $15 each for the entire month of December.


This is a saving of $5 per certificate. You can also subscribe to BDM Victoria’s mailing list for future offers, updates about system improvements and user guidance.



Easy to do – just go to the GSV website or GO HERE TO PURCHASE.  


Image citation: Florence Chefik Bey (born Winter-Irving), NAA: A659, 1940/1/1640, p. 34.


Making family history

Mavis Long, Berry Street Babies Home
Bill Barlow
20 November 2021
Writers Circle

Family history is not all about chasing old birth records and transcripts from past centuries. It can also be capturing more recent history - for future historians.

Recently the GSV Writers challenged themselves to write about a family photo in 350 words. Over twenty stories emerged, ranging from a well-travelled bracelet, an elopement, a tennis player and the boxer Billy Farnan. And this story below - 'Nanna loved babies' by Jackie van Bergen. The nice aspect of these stories is that they include the author's own memories.

Jackie's experience in sharing this story with her mother should encourage us to try this.

'I’m definitely spurred on by the reaction of my mother. She has been losing interest in things as her memory is failing and lockdown took away all her stimulating activities. Dad said he hadn’t seen her so animated. Mum remembered enough to keep asking when the next story was coming. Other relatives have responded with memories of their own - resulting in some stories being amended or added to.'


Nanna loved babies

There weren’t many options open to unmarried country girls in the mid 1920s. Nanna had all the accomplishments you read about in Jane Austen novels, she played the piano, wrote poetry, sewed, embroidered, made doilies, and was a whiz at cards.

Mavis Fanshawe Long (1906-1982) and her sister Frances Jean McVey Long (1901-1988) moved to the city and trained at the Foundling Hospital and Infants’ Home in Berry Street, East Melbourne and Beaconsfield. In November 1932, she was awarded a certificate recognising completion of her probationer training, and in February 1933 received her certificate of competency as a Mothercraft Nurse from the Department of Public Health.

The Berry Street hospital was founded in 1877 by a group of Melbourne women with the help of the wife of the Governor of the time. The aim was to support unwed, isolated or rejected mothers and their children. In 1907 they implemented a formalised mothercraft nurse training program that continued until 1975. Starting in 2006, the Berry Street organisation issued apologies related to their role in the stolen generations, in forced adoptions, and for any abuse or neglect suffered by those in their care.

Nanna obviously loved her time working at East Melbourne and Beaconsfield, as she kept many mementos such as photos of the babies and nurses, and booklets (see photo on the left). It was at Berry Street that Nanna befriended Shirley Constance Garrett (1912-1978), a fellow nurse from St Kilda. It was through Shirley and visiting her family that Nanna met her husband, Shirley’s brother John Raikes Garrett (1908-1992). They married in 1935. Nanna’s first baby was born in 1937, and her second in 1939.

Mum says Nanna couldn’t get enough of us when we were little. I was her first grandchild (see photo on the right), and was thoroughly spoiled, not that she didn’t spoil all of us.

I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to get to know this lovely gentle lady when I was an adult. It’s a shame so many kids these days live so far away from their grandparents – they are missing out on all those stories, and all that love.

Jackie van Bergen, September 2021


Photo credits

Left. Mavis Long, at Berry Street Home, 1932

Right. 'Nanna' (Mavis) with author, 1960 (photos in possession of author).


Buy a GSV Gift Certificate for Christmas for a friend!

Bill Barlow
10 November 2021
GSV News

Want to avoid the shopping crowds this December?

Why not buy a special Gift Certificate for a friend or relative from the GSV online!


It’s an opportunity for you to introduce a friend to the joys of family history research.

With the gift of a GSV Membership your friend or family member could benefit from GSV research assistants helping them track down family facts. They may like to join any of the Special interest groups and discussion circles - making new friends sharing problems and discoveries. They also receive the award-winning quarterly Ancestor journal.

The Gift Certificate will be for 12 months membership of the GSV for the special price of $105.00. The normal joining fee of $20.00 will not be charged.

Once you have submitted your payment, you will receive a Gift Certificate by email, containing a secure link for the recipient to redeem their gift. Then you may forward the Gift Certificate by email, or print it and send it by post or present it in person.

Easy to do – just go to the GSV website or GO HERE TO PURCHASE.  

Membership will commence only from the day it is activated. If the recipient is already a GSV Member the Certificate will extend their membership by a further 12 months. If you have any difficulties, please simply email us at info@gsv.org.au


Do friends or family need another set of bathroom products or a bottle of wine?

Well, maybe ...but this GSV Gift Certificate would be a gift for the whole family.

Forensic DNA analysis - Talk 18 November

Bill Barlow
29 October 2021
GSV News


Many GSV members are familiar with the use of commercial DNA databases in genetic genealogy, but how much do we know about the use of DNA to solve crimes?

In a forthcoming talk, Professor Linzi Wilson-Wilde OAM, Director of Forensic Science South Australia, will discuss the application of DNA in law enforcement and future directions of the science.


Forensic DNA analysis – what can it tell us and what does it hold for the future?

– Thursday 18 November Talk


Linzi introduces her forthcoming talk to GSV members:

'Forensic science uses the principles of science to study and understand traces – the remnants of past activities (such as an individual’s presence and actions) – through their detection, recognition, examination and interpretation, to answer a question relevant to the justice sector (i.e. detection, resolution or prevention of crime and responding to disasters).

One tool to understand traces is Forensic DNA analysis, which was first introduced into casework in the mid-1980s. From those humble beginnings, it has grown to be an essential tool for investigators. Advancements in DNA analysis continue, and new techniques are constantly evolving, offering exciting new opportunities to aid the justice sector. Current and emerging DNA analysis techniques and their role in forensic science such as murder investigations and the Bali Bombing will be discussed.'

* * *

Our presenter:

Professor Linzi Wilson-Wilde OAM has over 25 years’ experience in forensic science working for Victoria Police, New South Wales Police, the Australian Federal Police, and the National Institute of Forensic Science, where she was Director. During her career, Linzi has worked on the investigation of high-profile murder cases, cold case reviews, a mass DNA screen, along with legislative reform, and policy development. Linzi coordinated the DNA analysis of all samples involved in the disaster victim identification and criminal investigation of the Bali Bombing in October 2002. Most notably, Linzi has received a Medal in the Order of Australia for her work and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2014. 


* * *

Register for this talk via the 'Events' page. The talk is $5 for all GSV Members and attendance is via Zoom. If you are not a member JOIN HERE.

[Ed.]Thanks to Kristy Love for preparing this post.

Congratulations for 'Sentenced to Debt'

Don Grant Award Winner 2020
Don Grant Award Winner 2020
Bill Barlow
15 October 2021
Book Reviews
GSV News

Researching family history is a good start, but writing about it makes it history.

Congratulations to Louise Wilson for receiving the Don Grant Award 2020 for her book Sentenced to Debt - the story of Robert Forrester, First Fleeter.

This award was announced by Family History Connections at a zoom presentation on 19 September 2021.

Bettina Bradbury was announced as the winner of the Alexander Henderson Award 2020 for Caroline's Dilemma: a Colonial Inheritance Saga, the lives of the Bax and Kearney families, early squatters on the Victoria-South Australia border.

Congratulations to both winners and for the support given to family history writing by Family History Connections with these ongoing awards.

Louise Wilson is a member of the GSV's Writers Discussion Circle. She regularly convenes one of its annual topics - this year about writing First Nations people in our histories, something that Louise faced in writing Sentenced to Debt. See the blog post July 23. You will find many of her contributions in Ancestor journal both as feature articles and in the 'Getting it Write' section. And members of the GSV Writer's Group benefit from her helpful critiques and suggestions. So it is great to see her input being recognised once again.

You can read the judge's comments on both books https://www.familyhistoryconnections.org.au/index.php/awards/131-2020-awards-3

And about Louise and her books at Louise Wilson "nerdy...but nice!" HERE


GSV Writing Prize 2021 announced

Susan Wight - winner
Bill Barlow
6 October 2021
GSV News


A mysterious ancestor living the good life in Sydney in the early 20th C as a socialite and breeder of racehorses—this was the subject matter of the winning entry in the GSV Writing Prize 2021.

The winner was Susan Wight with her story ‘The mystery of the extra Booth Hodgetts’, a well-written account of her original knowledge of the four Booth Hodgetts and subsequent research to solve the mystery of an apparently additional member of her family tree. 

Last Saturday 2 October, President Jenny Redman announced the winner and runner-up of the 9th GSV Writing Prize at a virtual gathering of eager entrants and interested writers who joined Council members, staff and the Ancestor team online. 

The runner-up was Bernard Metcalfe with his intriguing tale of ‘The Secret Life of Mr Crisp’ about a ‘model’ family man who stole his brother-in-law’s identity—a tale that uncovered much that was hidden from his family. 

Susan wins a one-year subscription to Ancestry’s Worldwide membership and a DNA test. Bernard wins a six-month subscription to Ancestry’s Worldwide membership. The GSV extends its warm thanks to Ancestry for their continued support of this annual Prize.

This year fourteen entries were received from which five were shortlisted. The three remaining shortlisted entrants were Louise Wilson with ‘Hapless Fate’, in which she recounts the misadventures of a distant family member, Russ Gloster with ‘Ghost ships of Gloster’, his account of the ships belonging to one of his ancestors and Yvonne Tunney with ‘From Godly mechanics to farmers’, the story of German missionaries in the Moreton Bay settlement.

We were glad to see two entries from members of GSV Member Societies - Gisborne Genealogical Group Inc, and Philip Island & District Genealogical Society Inc - to whom eligibility has been extended.

Well-known GSV members Cheryl Griffin (guest judge) and Joy Roy (President’s nominee) joined three Ancestorteam members, Barbara Beaumont, Sue Blackwood and Tina Hocking on the judging panel. The judges were appreciative of the work that went into the entries, and congratulated all the entrants on their achievement. The President thanked all the judges for their deliberations and Leonie Ellis for her administration of the competition. 

The winning story will be published in the coming December issue of GSV's Ancestor journal and the full Judges' Report will be available on the GSV website.

Congratulations all! 


Living within 5 km

suvarov Atoll, Cook Islands
suvarov Atoll, Cook Islands
Bill Barlow
3 October 2021
GSV News
Treasure Chest
Writers Circle

You don't have to go far - living within 5 km

In previous times families didn't move far from their villages for generations. Many or even most people never moved beyond our recent 5 km lockdown over their whole lives.

This has been a useful factor in tracking early family names in a specific geographical location. Tracing my Barnes family, it has been shown that by 1860 a third of all UK 'Barnes' were in Lancashire and in 1861 it was particularly prevalent in Haslington and Accrington, north of Manchester - in the Valley of Rossendale. 'Golding', a recurring name in my family, is also most prevalent in Lancashire in its north England cluster. Both these name locations probably reflect the settlement there of Hiberno-Norse people from about 900 after their expulsion from Dublin in 902.

A great grandfather of mine set foot on Suvarov (or Suwarrow) Island, a very small Pacific atoll, in 1889. Years later the largest islet of this coral reef would be the voluntary home of Tom Neale where he lived for six years. He was inspired by an earlier occupant, Robert Dean Frisbie, who exiled himself and his four children there for a year in 1942. The islet they lived on is only 800 metres long and 200 metres wide - so a perambulation is well below our present 5 km confinement.

Robert Frisbie had lived on Pukapuka, another small Pacific atoll and wrote: 'Think of it! A woman living on this island for some seventy years and never visited Frigate Bird Islet, four miles across the lagoon! It reminds me of a pair of darling old maids who lived near our ranch in the foothills of California. They were in their forties, alone on a farm only a few miles from Fresno, the lights of which place they could see, on a clear night, from a hill beyond their house—yet they had never been to Fresno nor to any city! Once I tried to take them, and I remember that one old dear couldn’t go because she had a hen setting and her sister was “no hand at poultries”; the other one couldn’t go because she was afraid to leave her sister alone—“something might happen.” So it is with lots of Puka-Pukans. We have only three islets on this reef, yet many of the neighbors have set foot on only one.' 

And to help us live within our own resources, that classic of Thoreau's two years in a cabin on Walden Pond is worth a re-read. 

Our ancestors didn't move far, until they did - when wars, economic emigration and forced relocation, transportation took them to another county or across the globe.



Tom Neale. An Island to Oneself, Collins, 1966

Robert Dean Frisbie. The Island of Desire: the story of a South Sea trader, Doubleday, 1944 / Benediction Books 2019 / ebook available online.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden or Life in the Woods (1854), JM Dent Everyman's Library 1910. 

[Ed] I thought I would treat you to a picture of this tropical island in memory of all those beach holidays we Melbournians had to cancel this year.