Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Curious Fox

I was alerted to a curious little site recently, which may appeal to the curious out there. It’s called Curious Fox, a UK site, which is a village by village contact site for anybody researching family history, genealogy and local history in the UK and Ireland.

Every UK county, town and village has a page for family history, local history, surname and genealogy enquiries. You can search to find your own family village or town. You can find neighbouring villages and it even has maps – great maps, and maps from different time periods for the same village.

To do a family name search you need to register. This is free of charge, but there is an option to subscribe to the website for further information and service. Costs are small, but it helps to fund the site, without the use of banners and other affiliate links. The registration is to protect members privacy and stop spam mail.

Certainly worth a look if you have ancestors from the UK or Ireland.

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Manly Cemetery

Manly Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Sydney, so we get lots of enquiries about people buried in the cemetery. The cemetery is divided into three sections, namely Church of England, Roman Catholic and General (i.e. other denominations). It was consecrated as a burial ground in 1865, and although burials now only take place in plots purchased years ago, ashes may still be placed in the Columbarium, which was built in 2000. It was set apart officially by the Government in 1872 although some of the burials pre-date this time. Soon after Trustees were appointed to manage the cemetery and did so until 1969 when the administration was passed to Manly Council.

The original Burial Registers for the three sections of the Cemetery are held in Manly Council’s strong-room, and a microfilm version may be consulted in Manly Library Local Studies. Luckily for you the researcher, the names recorded in the handwritten Burial Registers have been transcribed, sometimes with difficulty, particularly in the case of the Church of England volume which is in places almost indecipherable. This makes searching for ancestors a lot easier.

Electronic copies of the transcribed files and maps of the cemetery are now available on the Manly Council website. For the Roman Catholic and General sections, information given may include some or all of: plot number, name and address of person who purchased the plot, name and last address of person buried, age, and date of burial (not date of death). For the Church of England section, less information is given: date of burial, plot number, name of person.

Terry Metherell of the Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Historical Society, with assistance from members of the Ivanhoe Park Precinct Committee and the Local Studies Librarian, has compiled two Cemetery Walks, one for adults and one for children, which highlight some of the most interesting graves. These are also available online.

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Australian Cemeteries

There must be a heap of people out there that spend a lot of spare time and holidays traipsing around cemeteries, looking for lost relatives. It can be very exciting to find someone, even if they are dead, but it can also be very disconcerting to find gravesites, headstones etc in a state of disrepair. Headstones do not always tell the whole story, but sometimes they can provide you with additional information.

I found Uncle Bill’s place of burial on the Australian cemeteries website . It told me the cemetery (Coonamble); his full name (William Wallace Nicolson); date of death (23 Feb 1960); age at death (83 years) and the portion of the cemetery – Presbyterian. Well what else would he be with a name like that!

But there’s more – I also found a photo of his headstone. And this told me he was a soldier. From his age and date of death I worked out that he probably served in World War 1.
So I went to the National Archives Website and did actually find his service record.

Not all stories are success stories. Some relatives may be buried in the same plot with loved ones, especially husbands and wives. Unfortunately headstones are not always updated if one is buried earlier than the other, and no responsible family member is left to attend to these duties. This is where it is important to check cemetery records where available. Most give details about who is buried together in the same plot and their relationship. It is both a practical and romantic solution for many families.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rookwood Cemetery

I get lots of enquiries about looking up names of people buried in Rookwood Cemetery. Many have been told that you can search on-line. This is true up to a point. Rookwood Cemetery is actually managed by five separate denominational Trusts and an independent Crematorium. It has been operating since 1867, and is one of the largest cemeteries in Australia. There are a total of 8 offices at Rookwood and five have their own websites! Each Trust looks after a portion of the cemetery.
The Joint Committee of Necropolis Trustees
Anglican & General Cemetery Trusts (
Australian War Graves

Catholic Cemetery Trust (
Independent Cemetery Trust (

Jewish Cemetery Trust (
Muslim Cemetery Trust

Rookwood Memorial Gardens & Cremetorium (

The Anglican and General Cemetery Trusts are responsible for burial, care and maintenance of 92 hectares of Rookwood, approximately one third of the cemetery. The communities looked after include, for the Anglican Trust; Assyrian Christian, Serbian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Macedonian Orthodox, Mandaen, Maori, Armenian and Christian faiths. The General Trust looks after the Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Indochinese, Hindu, Druze and Islamic Faiths. Other religions are buried with the four Denominational Trusts that manage the rest of Rookwood Cemetery.

On the Anglican and General Website you will find extensive resources including; a map of the cemetery, photographs and videos of the different burial sections, information on burial options and the purchasing of grave sites and memorials. There is also advice on understanding grief, useful links, and fascinating historical details. However you are not able to search names and locate plots at this point. There are plans to eventually get this on-line. Luckily Manly Library does have the Rookwood Cemetery Transcriptions on CD, which you can use in the library.

You are able to search on-line, names of those buried in the Catholic, Independent and Jewish Sections on their websites. So it is important to know the religion of your ancestor or you will need to check each section.

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