Friday, 7 September 2012

My biggest genealogical wish (apart from a time machine, of course)

This is my great-grandfather. He was born on 13th November 1885 at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum, which was like a hospital for the destitute, where Central Railway Station now stands. His birth was registered twice by his mother (which is fraud, sorry Ada!), once in Sydney, and once when he was six weeks old, in Jesmond, near Newcastle, NSW. His father was not Willam BARRETT who was Ada's husband (who was in Goulburn Gaol for the attempted murder of their infant son, Andrew's older half-brother Willam - a story of it's own!). 22-year-old Ada (nee MORRANT), with her husband in Gaol and a toddler in tow (ahem!) 'found comfort in the arms of' Newcastle miner Henry Burgess GIBB, and the Benevolent Asylum has his name as Andrew's father, a fact which we would never have known if it was not for another researching relative, Sandra. Collaboration is the key to overcoming brick walls, I believe. Andy's middle name in the second registration below is another clue to his paternity.

The NSW Births, Deaths, Marriages has him listed twice, and I have a copy of both certificates.

Registration/Last Name/Given Name(s)/Father's/Mother's Given/District
Number                                               Given Name(s)  Name(s)

3889/1885 BARRETT  ANDREW GIBB                             ADA    SYDNEY

Known as Andy, he was a coal miner, husband to Rosanna KING, and father to six sons. Born as a BARRETT, but fostered by the COLLINS family in Newcastle as a baby, he named his foster-parents as his parents on his wedding certificate. I have only found out about this skeleton in the COLLINS closet because my great-aunt by marriage, and Andy's daughter-in-law, told me about the COLLINS-BARRETT story in 1989. I'm sure she had no idea about the even bigger skeleton named Henry GIBB! If she hadn't let that cat out of the bag I would have been completely stumped and would never have found Andy's birth once, let alone twice!

So, onto my wish: I wish there was a website where everyone had a number as well as their name, like the registration number of their birth. So Andy might be #1885/3889 (with a link to #1885/3731), then when he married Rosanna KING (maybe #1890/4850) we can track who these people are in relation to their births - that we have the right Andy, not another man by the same name (all you Smiths out there can thank me later). Then when Andy dies, that event is linked to #1885/3889 as well, so we know it was him the death refers to. Births of their children could also be linked to these numbers as well. We could attach our own name and email address to these people as descendants &/or researchers, so that other people looking at Andy would be able to contact me or another family researcher if they wanted to.

Sound good? Hopefully people like the state BDM's won't mind? Do they own that registration number?? So if anyone has the ability/money/time/expertise/inclination to set this all up, feel free. Just remember me in the royalties when the big names in internet genealogy come knocking for inclusion into their searches. Thanks!
PS Andy was apparently a teetotaller, but it looks mighty like a schooner of beer in his hand. Busted!


  1. Janelle, thanks for your ancestor story. What a super sleuth research you have done - so many different sources!

  2. What a fascinating set of family stories you have Janelle. I really enjoyed this one and your innovative idea.

  3. Thanks Pauleen. I love reading your blog too!
    I've got a few more posts in mind. They might have to wait until after these school holidays when I'll have my brain back to myself for longer than 2 minutes at a time.

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  5. Update to this story:
    When I did the sums & worked out Andy's birth date compared to the events in the year prior, it transpires that Ada was 2-3 months pregnant with him when her husband assaulted their older son. Maybe Ada told her husband she was preganant & the baby wasn't his, or maybe he figured it out for himself, & that's when he flipped his lid. There's no mention of the pregnancy in the newspaper articles of the day. Oh to have been a fly on the wall!!