Thursday, 24 November 2011

Genealogy notes 24 Nov 2011 Day 4 at Sea & Napier Adventures

Today we arrived in Napier in the afternoon. Strong winds put a question mark over whether we could actually berth but after a short delay we were guided in by the local tug boats. A bus shuttle then conveyed passengers into Napier as wharf security and distance meant we couldn't simply walk off by ourselves.

Our friends picked us up and we were then chauffeured around in a very nice, newish Lexus (thanks Lexus of Hawkes Bay)and first stop was The Mission Estate Winery and we did a quick tour of the main building. The old photographs on the wall were fascinating as the Mission is seen as the birthplace of New Zealand wine since 1851. Then it was a short drive to Hastings and up to Te Mata Peak which is a very high lookout reached by a very narrow road but the views are spectacular.

Then it was back to Napier where I asked for a quick stop at The Art Deco Shop where I could have spent a lot of money but restricted myself to a couple of calendars and a beautiful writing journal as potential Christmas gifts although I don’t rule out giving them to myself! Napier is famous for its Art Deco buildings and the Art Deco Trust works towards preserving this unique heritage.

The others were a bit bored so then on to the local Speight’s Ale House where we tasted a few beers (we did the Speight’s Brewery tour some years ago in Dunedin) and I also tried Monteith’s Crushed Apple Cider which is quite refreshing and deceptive (doesn’t taste of alcohol). By then it was time to make a dash back into the City centre to catch a shuttle back to the ship.

The day’s genealogy sessions started after breakfast - Chris Paton did Discover Scottish Records (which I heard and reported on at the Auckland seminar) and Richard Reid talked about Key Irish Documents. At breakfast we were seated next to a couple who do lots of house swaps (overseas) and house sits (Australia) and we have often discussed trying these out. So with the interesting discussion and the drawn out breakfast (some people order more than one course) we ended up inadvertently missing Richard’s talk (time seems to disappear on a ship).

All was not lost as Perry McIntyre (her website is now working again) in her talk on Irish Census and Old Age Pensions made a few references to things Richard had said in his talk. One of the key documents was Form B of the 1901 Irish census which tells you what class of house your ancestor lived in. Now I have looked at these and noted all the information but I have never looked for an image of the four house classes (in hindsight it seems obvious but unless someone points us in a particular direction, we may not think of it ourselves).

Perry had a great image of the four types and then brought up a photo of a Class 4 house that Richard had also used in his talk. It is from the National Library of Ireland’s online photos collection (Labourer's hut, Gweedore) and is really a very evocative image and it is not hard to wonder why so many of our ancestors came out to Australia.

Perry’s comprehensive look at the Irish census was also very good for highlighting that not everything was destroyed in the 1922 PRO fire – some of the census records had already been pulped or had been used for paper recycling during World War One. So even if there had been no fire, we still wouldn’t have had access to these records.

The second part of her talk was on the introduction of the 1908 old age pension and the need of many people to prove that they were 70 years of age. With the introduction of civil registration only in 1864, many had to use the 1841 and 1851 census to prove how old they were. These records are mainly for Ulster and there are some indexes but not all online, although some are. Perry suggested using Google to find some of these smaller, localised indexes.

My talk for the evening session was Tracing Your Military Ancestors in Australia which is a broad overview of the main sources and there is a version of this talk on my website Resources page (scroll down to Presentations). I was going to go and join Keith Johnson for a drink in the Oceans Bar afterwards, but knowing that I had to be up and with it for a talk on TROVE at 8.00am the next morning, I decided to head back to the cabin and bed.

Before I forget, there was also an onshore seminar with the Hawkes Bay members of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and Chris Paton and Jan Gow gave two talks.

Cruises are supposed to be relaxing but can be hectic when you try to combine ship activities, extended meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner (because you are talking to others), onshore tourism and genealogy sessions. It’s Wellington tomorrow all day and into the evening and I’m wondering if I should try and schedule in an afternoon nap!!

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