Extensive Collection of New Zealand Cemetery Records Now Available Online

The following News Release is from scoop.co.nz:


More than 1.6 million records spanning two centuries from 1,400 cemeteries across the country digitised and made accessible to all

• Almost all New Zealand cemeteries are represented in this collection
• Database has taken more than 2,000 volunteers since the 1960s to compile
• Ancestry providing free access to more than 35 million records, including this cemetery collection, this Waitangi Day weekend

Auckland, 2nd February, 2015 – A database of 1.6 million cemetery records which has taken more than 2,000 volunteers over four decades to produce is now available online on Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource.

Digitised by Ancestry from original headstone transcriptions by The New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG), the New Zealand Cemetery Records 1800-2007 is a hugely valuable resource for anyone wanting to discover more about their New Zealand family history.

Each record typically contains details such as name, birth date, death date, and cemetery name and plot location. They may also provide insightful details about a spouse, cause of death, military dates, an epitaph, or even a description of the headstone.

NZSG began transcribing the details on the headstones in the late 1960s and over the last four decades they have recorded information from headstones at almost every cemetery in New Zealand.

Inaccessibility made accessible
The records include transcriptions from many prominent cemeteries throughout the country as well as inaccessible graves from remote locations such as the Raoul Island Cemetery. The island is located 1000km north of New Zealand and is both geographically isolated and publicly inaccessible, as one can only visit with a landing permit from the Department of Conservation.

Chatham, Quarantine and Stewart Islands also feature in the collection, along with many private cemeteries that would otherwise not be accessible to the public.

A walk through New Zealand’s history
Stretching from 1800 to 2007, the records cover a large sweep of New Zealand’s history, including some fascinating and tragic episodes such as the Taraura Shipping Disaster. The SS Tararuawas a passenger steamship that struck the reef off Waipapa Point in Southland on 29 April 1881. Only 20 of the 151 people on board survived, with many of those who perished lain to rest in the remote Tarura Acre cemetery, near New Zealand’s first lighthouse which was subsequently built as a result of the disaster.

Free access this Waitangi Day long weekend to 35 million NZ records
To help New Zealanders learn more about their family histories over the Waitangi Day long weekend, Ancestry is opening up free the New Zealand Cemetery Records 1800-2007, as well as all of its New Zealand online databases – totalling more than 35 million records. The open access campaign will start on Friday 6th February from 12.01am through to Monday 9th February at 11:59pm, at www.ancestry.com.au/waitangi2015.

Ben Mercer, Content Director at Ancestry says “We are delighted to add this vital collection, which includes some of the earliest New Zealand records, to our already comprehensive New Zealand family history resource online. Each headstone has a story to tell that may unlock further discoveries of your ancestors’ pasts.

“This Waitangi Day, we’d encourage Kiwis to learn more about their ancestors by talking to older family members who may help kick-start the journey into your past.”

Gay Williams, President of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) says “The records were compiled by individual volunteers from the NZSG who would often drive and in some cases ferry to a number of geographically isolated areas in New Zealand. It would often take days if not weeks to transcribe a single cemetery. Many cemeteries get damaged over time. We have transcribed headstones that have fallen over, been destroyed by earthquakes or vandalised, as well as those which time has made unreadable, preserving this information for future generations.”

You can search over 35 million New Zealand records for free this long weekend at: www.ancestry.com.au/waitangi2015

Ancestry (Ancestry.com.au) is the world’s largest online family history resource with more than 2 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 15 billion records have been added to the Ancestry sites and users have created more than 60 million family trees to the core Ancestry websites, including its flagship site www.ancestry.com and its affiliated international websites, such as Ancestry.com.au. Additionally, Ancestry.com offers a suite of online family history brands, including Archives.com, Fold3.com, Newspapers.com, as well as the AncestryDNA product, sold by Ancestry.com DNA, LLC, which, along with its core Ancestry websites, are all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

From 11 Ships to a Nation of Millions – Australia Day Marks the 225th Anniversary of the First Fleet

The following news release is from prwire.com.au:

Online collection of criminal and convict records FREE to search on Australia Day from January 25 – 28, 2013

Sydney, Australia, 25 January 2013To celebrate the 225th anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet, Ancestry.com.au, Australia’s largest online family history resource[i], will be making its collection of almost 2.6 million convict records free to search from January 25-28, 2013 inclusive. This extensive collection offers all Australians the opportunity to explore their country’s convict roots.

One in five Aussies[ii] can claim convict heritage and will likely have an ancestor included in the collection. The breadth of the convict collections available on Ancestry.com.au allows those researching their convict forbears to paint a vivid picture not just of the convicts themselves, but also of their journey and their experiences in the fledgling colony of New South Wales.

James Walsh is a great example of the level of detail that can be gleaned from the convict records. A 26-year-old shoemaker when he arrived in Australia on board the Edward in February, 1831, the Ireland native was convicted of receiving stolen goods and given seven years’ transportation. His Convict Indent (an official list of convicts being transported aboard a particular ship) describes James as just shy of 5’6” (172 cm) with a ruddy ‘pock-pitted’ complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes. The indent goes on to describe James as having a crooked right arm with a mermaid and fish tattoo on his left arm, and a tattoo of an anchor between the left thumb and forefinger.

Ancestry.com.au’s convict collection includes records from the England and Wales Criminal Registers, the Convict Transportation Registers, Convict Muster Rolls, Convict Applications to Marry, Convict Death Registers, UK Royal Naval Medical Journals, and a variety of other record sets documenting the trial, journey, working life, release and death of the majority of convicts transported.

These records offer a unique peek into the window of early Australian history, providing researchers with invaluable information including clues to their ancestors’ place of birth and country of origin, allowing them to investigate even earlier family history.

Notable Australians who can proudly claim convict history include:

  • John Howard, Former Prime Minister: His family contains convict ancestors on both sides of the tree. His 3x great grandfather William Tooley was convicted of complicity in the theft of a tortoiseshell watch and was transported for life in 1816. On his maternal side, his great grandfather Thomas Barker was transported for life after being convicted of two counts of robbery, arriving in 1835.
  • Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister: His 4x great grandfather, Thomas Rudd, was transported to Australia in 1801 for unlawfully acquiring a bag of sugar.
  • Rod Marsh, Cricketer: His great-grandfather (by adoption) was transported to Australia after being charged with manslaughter following a late night brawl, which resulted in a man being shot.
  • Maggie Beer, Celebrity Chef and 2010 Senior Australian of the Year: Her 3x great-grandmother was a convict thief and her 3x great-grandfather a bigamist who was convicted after three simultaneous marriages. They met after both were transported to Australia.
  • Tony Windsor, MP, Independent Federal Minister for New England:: His 2x great-grandfather was transported to NSW on the ship Midas in 1827 after stealing wet bedding from a clothes line – he eventually died in Darlinghurst Gaol after being convicted of horse stealing.
  • Brad Argent, Ancestry.com.au Content Director for Australia and New Zealand, comments: “To many, Australia is still considered a young country, but no one can deny we have a rich heritage and the stories of the convicts, the early settlers and how our nation was founded are a unique part of our history”.

    “Ancestry’s extensive convict collection offers Australians the opportunity to delve deeper into the colourful characters of our past in order to piece together the puzzle of who we are and where we came from.”

    To access Ancestry.com.au free convict collections, go to www.ancestry.com.au/convicts2013

    [i] comScore, 2011, based on genealogy related websites selected from the Family and Parenting sub-category under the Community category

    [ii] The Australian Constitution Referendum Study, 1999

    Ancestry.com.au Gives Free Access to Military Records Nov 9-12, 2012

    Over the past 200 years, New Zealanders have bravely fought in many wars, on many different battlefields around the world. This long-standing history of military involvement on the world stage has left its mark on New Zealand society; the nation has suffered great human loss while helping to shape New Zealand’s identity and relationship with the rest of the world.

    Starting Friday November 9 until 1.59AM Monday November 12, 2012, Ancestry.com.au, the world’s largest online family history resource, will make over 9.4 million New Zealand, Australian, Canadian and UK military records free to search this Remembrance Day to encourage more Kiwis to start exploring their family’s military history. Tragically, many young soldiers who are killed in action do not leave any descendants behind and are often forgotten despite having made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    Ancestry.com.au is also inviting New Zealanders to honour military heroes by posting a tribute on its Facebook Tribute Wall Facebook.com/ancestry.com.au.

    Over 30,000 New Zealanders have been killed in the many wars and conflicts that this country has been involved with since first settlement. Over eight or nine times that number have served this country abroad. Millions of New Zealanders have had a relative who served or was affected by war. With the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I looming, and the centenary commemoration of the ANZAC landings on the Gallipoli starting to edge closer, this is a time to reflect on the fallen soldiers who gave their lives and think about who we will remember.

    On November 11, we remember not only the soldiers who served in times of conflict, but those that were left behind during difficult times. With over 245,000 New Zealand soldiers enlisting during WWI and WWII, many thousands of families found themselves without the support and income of their fathers, brothers and sons. During WWII women increasingly filled the places in primary and secondary industry left by men, forever changing the places of women in society.

    Some of the military records available on Ancestry.com.au include:

    • The ANZAC Memorial Book (1914-1918) – a Roll of Honour listing soldiers’ names, their number, rank, unit, cause and date of death are also listed along with other more personal items such as poems, notes, letters, diary entries, reports, speeches, accounts, stories and articles on war events.
    • The British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards (1914-1920) – a database that contains records for approximately 2.1 million soldiers who received medals in WWI.
    • The British Army WWI Service Records (1914-1920) – contains the surviving service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served in WWI and did not re-enlist in the Army prior to World War II.
    • The British Army WWI Pension Records (1914-1920) – contains service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army and claimed disability pensions for service in WWI.

    Brad Argent, Ancestry.com.au Content Director for Australia and New Zealand, comments: “Remembrance Day is about honouring all servicemen and women who have served their country, in all wars, and is the perfect time to explore and preserve their stories for future generations.

    There are many people who know very little about their war heroes in their family, even going back two or three generations to WWI and WWII. Ancestry.com.au is encouraging people to discover more about their ancestors’ military records and to commemorate their ancestors on Remembrance Day”

    To access Ancestry.com.au’s collections, go to www.ancestry.com.au.

    Ancestry.com.au Giving FREE ACCESS to the Entire Australian Birth, Marriage & Death Indexes from Friday Sept 28 until 11:59PM AEST on Monday Oct 1, 2012

    World first: Ancestry.com.au is giving free access to the entire Australian Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes from Friday September 28 until 11.59PM AEST on Monday October 1, 2012

    Sydney, Australia, 28 September 2012 – This weekend, for the first time ever, Ancestry.com.au, Australia’s largest online family history resource[i], is giving free access to over 17 million records of those who were born, married or died in Australia from 1788 until the early twentieth century.

    Starting 12.01AM on Friday 28 September, until 11.59PM AEST on Monday 1 October, 2012, this fully searchable database – The Australian Birth, Marriage and Death (BMD) and Cemetery indices – offers valuable information about three of the most significant events in an individual’s lifetime.

    Ancestry member Diane McAllister used the BMD database to make a startling discovery when she found her father’s birth record, which revealed he had lied about his name. This clue prompted extensive further research which eventually unearthed the existence of a double life and another family.

    These records also reveal insights into the past 200 years of Australian culture, following the arrival of the first fleet.

    While Bruce and Sheila have cheekily been associated as stereotypical Aussie names, John was actually the most popular male name for more than 74,000 Australian boys and Mary the most popular female name for more than 52,000 Australian girls between 1788-1922.

    Additional Australian cultural trends revealed from analysis of the records and compared with present day statistics include:

    Births: For the first half of the last century the number of births registered in Australia each year remained under 140,000, with a dip occurring in the early 1930s during the Great Depression. Since the 1950s, the number of births has steadily increased until 2010, when 297,900 births were recorded, the highest number of births registered in a calendar year in Australia[ii].

    Marriages: The records reveal a huge spike in marriages throughout WWII – in NSW alone, over 340,000 people got married during the period of 1939-1943 inclusive.
    Marriage numbers have dipped significantly since 1943, with only 120,100 marriages registered in Australia in 2009.

    Deaths: The death indexes reveal that life for the early Australian settlers was tough, with the average age of death being just 56 years-old, compared to the current life expectancy for Australians of over 79 years for men and 84 years for women.
    The database is easy to use and can be searched by any of the following terms:

    Birth: name, birth year, father’s name, mother’s name, and birth place

    Marriage: maiden name, spouse name, marriage year and marriage place

    Death: name, death year, estimated birth year, father’s name, mother’s name and death place

    Brad Argent, Ancestry.com.au Content Director for Australia and New Zealand, comments: “This database is the largest of its kind and is the only place to search BMD records from all over Australia.

    It is without a doubt the most important collection in a family historian’s tool box for finding missing ancestors and uncovering family secrets.

    This database is the root of every Australian family tree – If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to start researching your family tree, this is it.”

    To access this collection, please visit www.ancestry.com.au.

    From PRWire.

    Australian Premier Candidates Have Fascinating Ancestry

    The Aussies find the ancestry of their Premier candidates fascinating, just as Americans do with our Presidents… The following news release was written for folks living in Australia.


    From links to Brisbane barmaids to law enforcement in Victoria, our future Premier boasts a colourful family history no matter who wins

    Despite the stark contrast in political views, it appears that the 2011 NSW State Election candidates have more in common than what they might think – their Irish past, with each having ancestors who arrived in Australia from Ireland aboard ships during the 18th Century.

    In celebration of the upcoming election, Ancestry.com.au, Australia’s number one family history website , today revealed the family history of Kristina Keneally and Barry O’Farrell.

    While it is well known that the current Labor leader, The Hon Kristina Keneally was born in Las Vegas on 19 December 1968 to an American father and an Australian mother, it’s not widely known that the Premier’s mother, Catherine Nary Powell, originated from Brisbane and is the daughter of William Powell and Patricia Anderson.

    Ms Keneally’s comes from a long line of Maroon heritage as her great-grandparents, Neil Anderson and Ellen Colwell, were Brisbane born and bred. Ellen Colwell was a 24-year-old bar maid when she wed Neil Anderson, a 25-year-old iron maker at St Mary’s Church, South Brisbane.

    Research uncovered that Ms Keneally’s great-great-grandfather originated from County Covan, Ireland and migrated to Australia on board the Warwick, arriving on 7 July 1880, while her great-great- grandmother Catherine Colwell was born in Gatton, Queensland. Despite Keneally’s ties to Australia, research could not uncover any ties to New South Wales, the state that she now governs.

    Interestingly, the incumbent Liberal leader, The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, can also claim Irish heritage as well as strong connections to the neighbouring state of Victoria. Born on 24 May 1959 in Melbourne, Mr O’Farrell’s paternal grandfather was William O’Farrell, a Victorian police constable.

    Ancestry.com.au revealed that our potential Premier Elect’s great-great-grandparents Patrick Farrell and Mary Farrell (nee Silva) were born and wed in County Clare, Ireland and migrated to Australia on board the Omega in January 1854.

    It appears that the luck of the Irish followed both Keneally and O’Farrell to Australia, where each leader boasts successful political careers. Keneally and O’Farrell join the ranks of other successful Australian Federal politicians with Irish ancestry, which includes former Prime Ministers’ John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Sir William McMahon, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd.

    Ancestry.com.au Content Director Brad Argent comments: “Much emphasis has been placed on the differences between Kristina Keneally and Barry O’Farrell, with the Premier having obvious links to America, despite being an Australian citizen however research reveals that their backgrounds are remarkably similar, with both leaders claiming early Australian associations through their Irish ancestors.”

    “Researching your family history is a journey of twists and turns and in this case it is fascinating to see that the Keneally and O’Farrell families followed similar paths, which has led them to be in direct competition for the title of NSW Premier today”.

    To find out more about your family’s heritage, please visit: www.ancestry.com.au
    About Ancestry.com.au
    Australia’s leading family history website, Ancestry.com.au contains more than 930 million records in its Australian and UK collections, including the Australia Birth, Marriage and Death Index, Australian Convict Transportation Registers, Australian Free Settlers, Australian Electoral Rolls, New South Wales SANDS Directories, as well as the most complete online collection of England, Wales and Scotland Censuses and the England and Wales Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes.

    Ancestry.com.au was launched in May 2006 and belongs to the global network of Ancestry websites (wholly owned by Ancestry.com Operations Inc.), which contains six billion records. To date more than 20 million family trees have been created and 2 billion profiles and 50 million photographs and stories uploaded. (Figures current as of 5 March 2011)

    From the March 21, 2011 press release at newsmaker.com.us.