Category Archives: Resources

From the Gold Rush to Federation

At our meeting yesterday our member Jan Brady, Historian and Publisher, gave our attendees a history lesson with her presentation ” A brief history of Australia 1850-1901 – Gold rush to Federation – the third in a series of talks about the 18th and 19th century history of Australia for Family Historians.” It was a lively talk injected with humour as Jan, who was once a teacher, involved the audience in her presentation. Everyone was kept on their toes as Jan regularly stopped her presentation to seek opinions from audience members, Jan challenged us to think about the times in which our ancestors lived and how these impacted on their lives.

Jan generously shared her notes and Powerpoint presentation which are available as .pdf files from the links below. Please remember that Jan owns the copyright on these items, they are shared here for your reference and personal use.

Jan Brady – Powerpoint:a brief-history-of-australia-1850-to-federationDownload

Jack Nastyface: Memoirs of an English Seaman

Guest post from member Sue Catterall.

jacknastyMy GGG Grandfather William Robinson wrote the book Jack Nastyface: Memoirs of an English Seaman and it became a famous classical novel.  You can find an article on him on a web page called Jack Nastyface – Memoirs of an English seaman.

In London, recruiting posters began appearing appealing to the patriotic to take up arms, and it seems certain that William would have paused before one of these.

With feelings of patriotism running through his veins and keen to escape the tedious work of shoe-making, William left his father’s workshop and walked to the recruiting centre on Tower Hill to offer his services to His Majesty as a landman (volunteer).  The recruiting officer, on seeing his leather apron, immediately thought he was a runaway apprentice, but William quickly assured him that that was not so.  He was sent to the receiving ship lying in the Thames and ordered into the hold with other volunteers and impressed men.  The gratings were battened down and a guard of marines, with fully loaded muskets and fixed bayonets, was placed round the hatchways as though the wretched occupants were capital convicts.  Completely ramped and unable to sit or stand separately, the ship sailed down the Thames and arrived at the Nore.  With lack of ventilation and the air turning foul from seasick men, they were a pitiable sight indeed and William began to regret the rash step he had taken.

William Robinson was at the Battle of Trafalgar against Nelson on the ship HMS Revenge.  Many of those serving on the various ships were thrown on there by Press Gangs that use to roam the area of London plucking anyone up they came across.  They had no experience in what they were about to do.

William wrote this book to encourage reforms for sailors, briefly, in 1805 conditions for Englishmen serving in their navy were worse than slavery.  As he wisely learned on entering the Navy, a sailor “must confine his thoughts to the hold of his mind and never suffer them to escape the hatchway of utterance.” 

When spoken to by an officer, even if it was a bullying 12 year old midshipman, the ordinary seaman was only allowed to say, “Aye, aye, sir” while touching the rim of is cap.  Were he to say more, he could be flogged for insolence.  In one instance, after two marines threw an officer overboard, they were seized and hanged for the yardarm.

Conditions were appalling, discipline was by sheer terror, not by reason or persuasion.  Yet, when pennants were hoisted stating, “England expects each man will do his duty” these sailors responded with pride and courage that made England master of the seas for centuries.

Its marvelous glimpse at the brutality that was all too common and the pride and the class distinctions of England, and why the Industrial Revolution spawned the appalling conditions that made Karl Marx inevitable.

Reading this book and understanding the everyday conditions of those times, explains why so many Englishmen and Europeans were willing to risk so much to get to America – truly a paradise.

The navy in the USA use William Robinson’s book as a guide in training their naval cadets.  William hated the way the common sailor was treated by the hierarchy of the navy. 

Thanks Sue for sharing this story – we now have a new title for our reading lists.

Bob’s Genes

We have recently added a new link to our Hornsby Genies Online page.dna-163710_1280One of our newer members Bob is interested in genetic genealogy and has a website, The Allison/Ellison DNA Project. This is a collaborative project of genealogists who use DNA testing to further their family research. We are thrilled to have a DNA expert in our midst.

If you know of any other members who have genealogy sites please let us know and we will add them to the Hornsby Genies Online page.

A Message from Gail

dna-297576_1280Below is pasted a message our member Gail left on our Facebook page. If you haven’t yet ventured into the world of DNA you are missing out on making valuable connections.
The magic of DNA – restoring family connections severed by tragedy.
My maternal great – grandfather was orphaned at the age of 9. The youngest in a family of 5 living children, the older siblings ranging in age from 20 to 12, he was placed in an orphanage and lost touch with all his older siblings except for a 12 yr old brother.
A few weeks ago we made contact with the great – granddaughter of my great – grandfather’s 16 yr old (at time of parent’s death) brother, through DNA matching on Ancestry. Yesterday we met up and spent 3 wonderful hours getting to know each other and catching up on family history.”
Spinetingling stuff.

Hornsby Shire Recollects

Last night Robert and I and joined several other local history history enthusiasts at a function at Hornsby Central Library where a new interactive online digital resource, Hornsby Shire Recollects, was launched. I was attending as a representative of the Hornsby Shire Family History Group.

The database claims to “provide easy online access to a rich store of heritage material relating to Hornsby Shire, its people, and events.”

Hornsby Shire Recollects Home Page

The three speakers, Hornsby Mayor Phillip Ruddock, Associate Professor Carol Liston and Hornsby MP Matt Kean each spoke briefly about the importance of local history and heritage and then Mayor  Ruddock cut the celebratory cake.

Reference and Local Studies Librarian, Neil Chippendale, and Library staff member, Karen Richardson, then got to the good bit, a demonstration of this new tool which provides a user friendly platform to access Hornsby’s collection of digital resources supplemented with new additions from community organisations and local history enthusiasts. The new platform certainly appeared easier to search than the collections it replaced but I needed to try it out myself.

This afternoon I gave the database a run through. Logging on and creating an account was a simple process. Navigating the site was a breeze and the search mechanism was intuitive. I give it a thumbs up. Having heard the presentation and tried out the tool I am keen to add some resources from our family collection to the database.

The promotional material for the resource states ” you are also able to contribute your own knowledge and memories about the holdings, as well as create personal collections of your own.” I encourage all of our members to give the site a test drive and ponder on what you can do to contribute to this local resource. The Hornsby Shire Family History Group has the potential to make a major contribution to Hornsby Shire Recollects.

If  community members embrace this resource and share the photos and documents they have squirrelled away then Hornsby Shire Recollects will be a valuable resource, not just for people from the Hornsby Shire but for many with an interest in Australian history and heritage.

Jill Ball 21/11/2017


News from Familysearch

Each week Familysearch sends out a list of new resources added to their collection. Here are this week’s updates.

 SALT LAKE CITY, UT—This week, millions of new historic records were made freely available from the NetherlandsKansasSweden, and Washington. Many more were published from ArgentinaItalyLouisianaParaguay, and South Africa! Search these new free records at FamilySearch by clicking on the links in the interactive table below. Easily find and share this announcement online in the FamilySearch Newsroom.





Czech Republic Land Records 1450-1889



Added images to an existing collection
United States Freedmen’s Bureau Records of Freedmen’s Complaints 1865- 1872



New indexed records and images collection
Utah Tremonton and Garland Obituaries 1959-2013



Added indexed records to an existing collection
New York Book Indexes to Passenger Lists 1906-1942



Added indexed records to an existing collection
District of Columbia Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records 1863-1872



Added indexed records to an existing collection
Czech Republic School Registers 1799-1953



Added images to an existing collection
Peru Cusco Civil Registration 1889-1997



Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Freedmen’s Bureau Ration Records1865-1872



New indexed records and images collection
Illinois DeKalb County Land Records 1838-1927



Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Freedmen’s Bureau Records of the Superintendent of Education and of the Division of Education 1865-1872



Added indexed records to an existing collection
Norway Probate Index Cards 1640-1903



New indexed records collection
England Sussex Parish Registers 1538-1910



Added indexed records to an existing collection
Czech Republic Church Books 1552-1963



Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru La Libertad Civil Registration 1903-1998



Added images to an existing collection
New Hampshire Vital and Town Records Index 1656-1938



New indexed records collection
Arizona County Marriages 1871-1964



Added indexed records to an existing collection
Portugal Porto Catholic Church Records 1535-1949



Added indexed records to an existing collection
Michigan Obituaries 1820-2006



Added indexed records to an existing collection
New Jersey, State Census, 1855



Added indexed records to an existing collection
Minnesota Clay County School Census Records 1909-1962



Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Muster Rolls of the Marine Corps 1798-1937



Added indexed records to an existing collection

Searchable historic records are made available on through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at or through more than 4,921 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Family History for You

NFHM-logoIn celebration of National Family History Month Hornsby Shire Family History Group will be hosting its 3rd Annual Geneagala in conjuction with Hornsby Library.

When: Saturday 12th August 2017, 10:00 am to 3pm

Where: Hornsby Central Library, 28-44 George St, Hornsby

This event is open to all those with an interest in their family history, there is something on the program for beginners to experienced genies.

Sydney genealogist and historian, Christine Yeats, our special guest will be the first speaker on our program.

Family History for You – Program

10:00 am Welcome – Coral Shand, Hornsby Shire Family History Group
10:15 Is there really nothing there? – Family history research in the 21st century – Christine Yeats
11:30  National Archives of Australia: records for family history – Coral Shand
12:15 The British Newspaper Archive – Neil Chippendale
1:00 Beginning Family History: 10 rules, 10 tips, 10 resources – Jill Ball
1:45 Early Church Records/Films for NSW – Lyn Parsons
2:15 Using Trove and online newspapers for research – Jill Ball
2:45 Prize Draw – Main Prize A gift certificate from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS) for any online course from a choice of over 200 courses  – Coral Shand

Genealogy Clinic

10:30 – 10:30 to 2:45 with Hornsby Shire FHG volunteers in the Esther Wait Room and Computer Room

Drop in to the Geneaclinic throughout the day for:

  • Help for beginners
  • Assistance with Hornsby Library’s online resources (Ancestry, FindMyPast and My Heritage) and other resources
  • Help with Brickwalls and research problems
  • Tips for organising your research
  •  A chat with Hornsby Shire FHG members

At 2:45 pm there will be a prize draw for those in attendance.

For further information please contact:
Coral Shand, Coordinator
Jill Ball, Communications 
Local Studies, Hornsby Shire Library & Information Service.