When I was growing up, we had a painting of our Kent family tree, which traced our family back to 1584 in Lincolnshire, England, but it was only the paternal line, and I always felt there was something missing. What about all the maternal lines? When we moved from South Africa to England, I decided to find out a bit more about my mothers family, which originated from Holy Island in Northumberland (or so I had been told). My mother had a box of papers she had inherited from an uncle which had a roughly drawn family tree and couple of old letters relating to her Watson family. So, on our first holiday up to the North of England, we decided to explore Holy Island and see where the family came from.
And here we struck gold …. On walking through the graveyard at Lindisfarne, we spotted many, many Watson graves, and were able to match some of them to my roughly drawn tree. One of my earliest known ancestors at the time was my great great grandfather, Joseph Watson, who had a very colourful life, and now that so many historical records and newspapers are being digitised, continues to deliver new stories and scandals from his time in England and Australia. I have recently found evidence that he was imprisoned for a month in 1860 in the Maitland Gaol, in Australia for stealing spirits from a pub!
Over the last 25 years, I have tracked down many of my own ancestors from both paternal and maternal lines, and helped friends and family get started with their own family trees, found missing birth families and established connections with my own DNA matches. If you are keen to explore your own family tree, or have just done a DNA test and are unsure what to next, I’m sure I’ll be able to help you, or get you started on a hobby that is virtually guaranteed to keep you fascinated for the next few decades
My background is essentially a biologist (completed a PhD in Radiotherapy at the University of Cape Town in 1990, followed by a post-doc at the Institute of Cancer Research in London); a Clinical Research Manager in the pharmaceutical industry and a Data Scientist (completed Masters degrees in Project Management in 2002, and Data Science in 2019 at the University of Sydney). I have also completed Family History courses at the University of Tasmania, and a member of the Society of Australian Genealogists and the Genealogical Society of South Africa. This background gives me the essential logical, analytical and problem solving skills for both traditional and genetic genealogical research.
I am based in Sydney, and can also therefore help with visits to local libraries or archives, or even the odd bit of grave-spotting.
I can perform record lookups in online subscription services (eg. Ancestry, FamilySearch, FindMyPast, Newspapers.com, BritishNewspapers, Trove etc.) for records in Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada and South Africa. I can also help with downloading / uploading and interpreting DNA test results.