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21 Apr 2022

Negatives: Week 16 52 Ancestors


A negative Covid-19 rapid antigen test

Negative! The best state to be in these days, wouldn’t you say?  COVID-negative, that is.

Who would have thought, in late 2019 when eastern Australia was experiencing bushfires like never before, that 2020-2022 would be even worse years.

Thankfully, in 2022 we have the benefit of vaccines which, whilst not reducing the risk of infection, do at least reduce the likelihood of serious illness and death.

So far, my many Rapid Antigen Tests have proved negative, as have my PCR tests.  Can't say I expect that to continue forever.

However, getting back to family history research.

What are the negatives of diving deep into family history research?  Well, for one, not much housework gets done. Nor do I get much sleep - at least in the early days whilst staying up till midnight, 1:00am or later, trying to work out which George W. Tucker was my great grandfather or what was the maiden name of that 4x great grandmother called Mary.

Exploring our DNA can also be negative, especially when a promising match can't be bothered, or maybe doesn't see a message. Or a match with a tree shows just three names or six noted private or has no linked tree at all.

However, the joys of family history research far outweigh the negatives.  I doubt there would be many here who would disagree. And fortunately, my significant other is just as passionate about discovering his ancestry as I am.


13 Apr 2022

How do you spell that? Week 15 52 Ancestors

Census record 1891 Kate Palmer and grandparents

My birth grandmother, Kate Elizabeth Palmer (1881-1970) grew up in Ightham, Kent, England and her birth was unfortunate.  Her mother was Annie Ashby (1855-1935), herself born outside of marriage and it was some time before I discovered that Kate had been baptised in the name of Ashby with her mother named as a field worker and her father's name left blank.  However, Kate was always told her father was John Stephen Palmer whose records suggest he was Annie's half-nephew.  The Palmer and Ashby families in Ightham were intertwined with baptismal and census surnames being changed seemingly willy-nilly over the second half of the 19th century.

Annie Ashby's mother was Elizabeth Ashby who by age 14 in 1841 had become the housekeeper/servant to local widower Cornelius Palmer and bore him five children prior to his death in 1861 when he was described as a pauper. Annie was one of them.

In 1869, Elizabeth Ashby married Reuben Holtrop (baptised in Ightham in 1816 as Reuben Haltrup).  Reuben appears to have been part of the Ashby family for many years.  In 1841 and 1851, he was living with Elizabeth Ashby’s parents, Henry and Elizabeth Ashby and her siblings.  Elizabeth’s father was recorded as Henry Ashby, a labourer.

In 1891, my birth grandmother Kate Palmer, aged 10 was living with her grandmother Elizabeth and her step-grandfather Reuben on the Ightham Common.  They were probably squatting in one of the former mining employees' houses, deserted since the mining company pulled out years before.  Her mother Annie, newly married had moved to a neighbouring village, Seal and was establishing a growing family. No doubt Kate moved there later because she was close to her younger half-siblings.

On Kate's marriage certificate in Sydney in 1918, she states her mother's name as Annie Altroupe, obviously one of many corruptions of Reuben's surname.

 Reuben’s surname was recorded in many different forms throughout his life:

·      Haltrup – christening, 13 April, 1817 – son of Harriet Haltrup

·      Ashby – 1841 census boarding with the Ashbys (see below)

·      Holdrop – 1851 census (boarding with Henry & Elizabeth Ashby (senior) & family) – agricultural labourer

·      Alhoupe – 1861 census  (original image looks more like Altroupe) – soldier/ lodger – with Elizabeth Ashby (Henry & Elizabeth’s daughter)

·      Hartrup – marriage to Elizabeth Ashby on 15 January, 1869 at Ightham – father named as William Hartrup

·      Hartop – 1871 census (Ruebin)

·      Hartrop – 1881 census

·      Alerop – 1891 census (although more likely Altrop – wrongly transcribed)

·      Holtrop – death certificate 1891

 Certainly, Reuben must have been illiterate.  Neither he nor Elizabeth signed their marriage certificate in 1969 – it was left to the rector.

4 Apr 2022

Check it out: Week 14 52 Ancestors

Using a Genealogical Proof Argument

My ancestor Isabella Sievewright, mother to 15 and wife of John Rose (1804-1884) was a most irritating woman. Why did she have to die in 1850, leaving her only footprints at her marriage in Southampton in 1825 and her 1841 census record showing that no, she wasn't born in the County of Southampton (now Hampshire)? 

With 15 children, the slight majority living to adulthood, it is not surprising that many family historians were keen to find out who she was and where she came from. I had been puzzling for 12 years and others for even longer. When I finally worked it out, I attempted to add it to Wikitree and received a very rude response from a man who had added a different Isabella's baptismal record and ascribed her to different parents. I complained to the administrators and they followed it through and deleted his public response but left the tree as it was, so I was unable to take her tree further back. 

Therefore, I decided to write a "genealogical proof argument" to see if I could persuade the administrators to take me seriously. I had learned how to write these through watching a webinar last year. It was presented by Cyndi of CyndiList fame. 

 Here it is: 

I do not believe that Isabella Sievewright who married John Rose in Southampton in 1825 was the daughter of Robt. and Mary Sievewright of St Botolph without Algate, as recorded on the tree above. I have developed a Genealogical Proof Argument to state my case as below: 

Genealogical proof argument

Isabella Sievewright (1806-1850) 


Who was Isabella Sievewright, where and when was she born and who were her parents? 


Since Sievewright is a Scottish name and far less common in England, she could have been born in Scotland or be of Scottish heritage. 


Isabella Sievewright, born in 1806 at St Luke, Finsbury, London was the daughter of Alexander Sievewright and his wife Isabella Watson. They were both born in Dundee, Scotland and had two other children, Margaret and Alexander, also both born in Dundee. The baptismal record was badly transcribed as Swewright. Isabella Sievewright married John Rose in Southampton in 1825 and bore him 15 children. This conclusion differs from Isabella’s parentage shown on Wiki Tree at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sievewright-35

The problem 

Since Isabella died in 1850, she appears in only one census, that of 1841. The census states that she was not born in the County of Southampton (later called Hampshire). The marriage certificate includes no other information apart from their names and suggests they were both of full age. No parentage is listed for her.

Her age is recorded inconsistently on her death certificate and the 1841 census. 


Some of Isabella and John Rose’s children were baptised with middle names which looked like surnames. These included Watson, Thane, Martin and Sievewright. Could these middle names have been ancestors of either John or Isabella? These children were: 
  • James Martin Rose (1826-1857) 
  • Alexander Thane Rose (1830-1848) 
  • David Martin Rose (1831-1833) 
  • Charles Watson Rose (1834-1904) 
  • Francis Watson Rose (1834-1899)
  • Samuel Saint Rose (1835-1905) 
  • Isabella Sievewright Rose (1840-1881) 
The author is a descendant of George Henry Rose, the second son of Isabella Sievewright and John Rose. Additionally, a granddaughter of Isabella Sievewright, Alice Rose (1857-1935) b. Southampton, daughter of George Henry Rose married (in Southampton) Francis Watson Young of Dundee in 1877, and established her marital home in Dundee, Scotland . 

Could this be a clue? This hint was reinforced when David Young’s heritage was researched. His mother was Margaret Ann Sievewright (1817-1998), born in Dundee to Alexander Sievewright and Isabella Watson. Margaret Ann Sievewright’s paternal grandmother was Christian Thain (1752-1788). In other words, three of the names which appeared as middle names in John Rose and Isabella Sievewright’s family. Could Margaret Ann Sievewright, born in Dundee to an Alexander Sievewright and Isabella Watson have been Isabella Sievewright’s sister? There was also another sibling, a son Alexander born in Dundee to the same couple in 1813. 

Alexander Sievewright and Isabella Watson’s marriage could not be found in Scotland. However, Alexander Sievewright was recorded as living in Poplar, London in 1812 with his occupation being recorded as commander of the ship Fame. Eventually, their marriage was found at St Luke, Finsbury, London on 27 December 1805. 

Could Isabella have been baptised at the same church? This was another stumbling block since no researchers have been able to find a baptism. However, after searching for an Isabella, born to an Alexander and Isabella at St Luke, Finsbury without a surname, eventually her baptism was found. The surname had been very badly transcribed by Ancestry as “Swewright”. The original record of baptism shows that the surname was Sievewight. The record records Isabella’s birth as 6 November 1806 and her baptism as 4 January 1807. 

DNA evidence 

As well as the conclusions reached due to the marriage between my 2x great aunt Alice and her first cousin once removed (1CR1) Francis Watson Young, there are common DNA matches between the author, Margaret Elizabeth Tucker (1947-) who is Isabella Sievewright’s 3x great granddaughter and another descendant of David Watson (1737-1808) and Isabell Matthew (1745-1828) who are Isabella Sievewright’s paternal grandparents. This match is also a 5x great-grandson of David Watson and Isabell Matthew. 


The WikiTree administrators have noted that the original baptismal information was Contested, have made me the manager of Isabella Sievewright's ID and I can now add her ancestors.

So it pays to Check It Out.