Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Death in the Family

On the Thursday evening before Good Friday, we had a death in the family. It was my husband's mother, who passed away after a long illness at the age of 91. We then spent Easter organising her funeral, but it was some of the questions we were asked for information to be included on the death certificate that really stumped us. What was your mother's mother's maiden name? i.e. grandmother's maiden name. What was your mother's father's occupation? When did she come to Australia? 
My mother-in-law was born in England in 1923, served in the RAF at Mount Batten, Plymouth, where she met her future husband, an Australian stationed there, and came out to Australia to join her husband in 1946. The only member of her family that we had met was her younger sister, now 87 and living in England. We really didn't know much at all, and had neglected to ask the relevant questions when we could. We knew she had come to Australia in 1946, but not the actual date. We were told that if we just put 1946, the date would automatically adjust to 1/1/1946, and we thought that would be misleading for future generations.
Firstly we went through all paperwork we could find, and found not only my mother-in-law's birth certificate, but also her marriage certificate and a copy of her parent's marriage certificate. From these we found her mother's maiden name - Gillard. (So we could be related to Julia - she came from England as well). Her father was a grave digger, but we could find nothing about when she arrived in Australia. So we turned to and found her on Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960, but to get the information we needed credits or a subscription. So off we went to our local library, where we could access the information for free, and found the name of the ship she came out on and that it left London on 31 October 1946. [A note about searching, when using her full name we got fewer results, but when we just searched using surname and an initial, we found the information we were after.] Once we had the name of the ship, we checked Trove for shipping arrivals and found she arrived in Sydney on 4th December 1946. So with some family history detective work we were able to provide all the information required and ensure it was the correct information for future family historians.

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