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Topics - Eric Hatfield

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Ancestral Family Tree DNA Testing / Shouldn't be able to do better?
« on: Tuesday 21 August 18 07:01 BST (UK)  »
I don't know if this topic has been raised before, but I feel quite strongly that Ancestry could do better for its many paying customers.

Ancestry has by far the largest DNA database, so it is hard to go past them when doing DNA research. But the lack of simple tools deny paying customers some extremely useful tools that other companies supply. I'm thinking of:
  • a decent search function,
  • the ability to download my match list (especially important to me since I use a Mac and AncestryDNA helper doesn't work with a Mac), and
  • a chromosome browser
Ancestry's apparent unwillingness to provide these tools significantly diminishes the value of their DNA product to anyone wanting to do serious genealogy.
  • I have hundreds of pages of matches I will probably never see or be able to use because I can't search properly nor download and use a spreadsheet to search.
  • Currently I am cooperating with a couple of other researchers to try to find how we all match, and which side of each tree we match on. This requires comparison of segments, which I can do at FTDNA and Gedmatch (and which I understand 23andMe also provides) but we are severely limited because many of the matches we'd like to check only have their results with Ancestry and haven't downloaded to those other sites.
I can't understand, and am frustrated by, why such a big company would be willing to offer such an inferior product, and I wonder whether there is any way the genetic DNA community could press Ancestry to do better on this.

Or do others not agree with me?

The Common Room / Concealing the birth of a child
« on: Tuesday 21 August 18 06:23 BST (UK)  »
An ancestor I am researching was, as a 22 year old single woman, convicted of concealing the birth of her child and imprisoned for 2 weeks. The child was stillborn and the stage of the pregnancy was not mentioned, but as it was only 7 months and 1 week since she gave birth to her previous child, the child was obviously premature. This was in UK (Herefordshire) in 1865.

I am trying to understand her life and situation, as she seems to have had a difficult life and appears to have been a victim of circumstances. Does anyone know if this conviction indicates that the mother had obtained an abortion?

Family History Beginners Board / Using English BMD records before 1841
« on: Wednesday 11 July 18 05:35 BST (UK)  »
I have been doing family history for about 10 years, but most of my research has been for ancestors in Scotland or here in Australia where I live. I have mostly used Ancestry and FindMyPast plus Family Search. In Australia, I can also visit local records offices when I have needed to, but that isn't so easy for UK records!

Scotland has been good too, because Scotland's People only charges about $A2.50 for online records, and so I can afford to be a little speculative and buy a few certificates that prove to be dead ends.

But now I am researching ancestors in England (specifically Herefordshire, adjacent counties and Birmingham city), and I have to rely on online records. After 1841, the census information gives a very good indication of births, occupations, places and dates, which allows BMD records to be interpreted. But before 1841, there is no census information, and the BMD information available from Ancestry and FindMyPast typically is very sparse. Birth records often don't state parents, marriage records often don't state spouses, etc. At something like $A30 for certificates (if I have done my maths correctly), I can't afford to buy anything "on spec". And so I often have a number of possible births, parents, spouses, etc, to choose from.

But I am new to English records, so perhaps I am missing something obvious. What do more experienced people here do to overcome the limited information available from FindMyPast and Ancestry? I'd appreciate any tips.


Ancestral Family Tree DNA Testing / Size of DNA data bases
« on: Tuesday 06 March 18 00:00 GMT (UK)  »
The DNA Geek website has published its latest estimates of the database sizes for the major DNA vendors. The graphs show an enormous increase in the number of people testing their autosomal DNA, from about 2 million 3 years ago to something 15 million today. This must increase the number of potential matches for all of us.

The current estimates are:

Ancestry - greater that 7 m
23 and me - greater than 5 m
My Heritage - greater than 1 m
FTDNA - greater than 0.7 m
Living DNA - unknown (matching not yet available though coming soon)

Two interesting thoughts.

(1) My Heritage has grown from nothing to more than a million in just over a year, which is amazing. I think their strength might be in Europe.

(2) FTDNA was one of the first in the business, and has generally provided the best tools and the full array of tests, and yet has grown at a much slower rate than the others. I think they don't advertise as much, while Ancestry advertises prolifically, and pushes ethnicity testing which is attractive to many people not all that interested in genealogical research.

But the interesting thing is, I tested with both Ancestry and FTDNA, and although the Ancestry database is perhaps ten times bigger, I had twice as many matches with FTDNA. [Clarification: this was matches at 4th cousin or better. Ancestry has thousands of matches at 5th-8th cousin, but I don't think these are very useful.] I think that is due to location - I live in Australia so most of my closest matches are Australian, and Ancestry has only entered the Australian market relatively recently. So raw size of database isn't the only factor.

Ancestral Family Tree DNA Testing / So many opportunities - which are good?
« on: Saturday 17 December 16 21:14 GMT (UK)  »
I and 3 of my relatives have had autosomal testing with FTDNA. Living and/or born in Australia means we have fewer potential matches, so we have to maximise our opportunities.

I have uploaded results to Gedmatch, and one set of results to Geni and DNALand. And I think it is also possible to upload results to MyHeritage, and perhaps other places also.

I'm starting to lose track, and am unsure whether all or any of these third party sites are likely to be much help in finding new matches.

Has anyone else found them useful, or not useful? Thanks.

Ancestral Family Tree DNA Testing / An Aussie seeking advice on UK information please
« on: Tuesday 01 December 15 23:01 GMT (UK)  »
I have sought advice before on this forum regarding my Grandfather (see My mysterious grandfather - Ernest McQuillan Hargraves). Due to my lack of progress, I decided to try DNA testing, and now have my autosomal DNA results (from FTDNA). I now have hundreds of matches, and I'm trying to work my way through investigating those connections, and I would appreciate some advice please.

1. First I want to ask about my approach. I don't know my grandfather's ancestry, and I think he changed his name, so I have little to go on. This is what I am trying.
  • I have found a third cousin on the other (paternal) side of the family who has tested, so I know 5 chromosomes where he and I match. Therefore I need to test matches on other chromosomes to find my maternal grandfather.
  • I think it is likely his ancestry is from UK, so I am looking at the family trees of people who match me on other chromosomes, to see if I can find someone who could have been my grandfather before he changed his name. Most matches live in the US, but many have family trees that go back to UK.
  • To do this, I go back to about 1750-1800 (the dates I think a common ancestor might have been born) and try to identify all descendants until I arrive at the time my grandfather was both (about 1880), and can eliminate those descendants - or hopefully find a possible.
It is like the proverbial needle in a haystack, and could involve checking out hundreds (or more!) of possibilities, but I can't think of anything better. But I would be interested in any ideas people have to do it better please. My task is perhaps a little like an adoptee looking for their biological parents whose names are unknown, except I am looking two generations back.

2. I'm finding it very difficult to trace English descendants forward. For a start, working forwards is harder than working backwards. But also, with the large numbers of possibilities I have to check, I cannot afford to keep buying certificates, so I have to rely on whatever I can get online via Family Search, FreeCEN and Free BMD, and The Genealogist, and they don't always have enough information to be sure I have identified the "right" people. The same names keep re-appearing, sometimes even the same named couples, and it is hard to separate them.

I'm wondering, please, if anyone has any advice or any other means to make identification (e.g. of parents of bride & groom), any other online sites I may have missed, that would help me please?


Australia / DNA testing for Aussies of UK descent
« on: Wednesday 24 June 15 02:28 BST (UK)  »
I'm sorry if this question has been asked before, but I couldn't find it.

I have reached a dead end in researching my maternal grandparents, some of which I have documented here. So I am wondering about trying some DNA testing. The two tests I would consider are these:
  • Mitochondrial DNA, which I would carry from my grandmother and mother even though I am male. My grandmother was the child of a young unmarried girl and it is possible she was of Scottish descent (name given was McDonald) but it is possible this was a false name. mtDNA should at least offer some chance of establishing whether there was a Scottish ancestry or not.
  • Autosomal DNA, which may help determine my grandmother's ancestry, but I'm hoping it might help with my grandfather, who claimed to be from Lincoln in England, but his named parents both have Irish names, emigrated from Ireland and lived in Victoria, and I have found a descendant from this family who may enable me to test if this is true.
So my question is, with possible English, Scottish and/or Irish ancestry, is there any DNA service which you would recommend for me to use please? I am aware that the value of a DNA test lies, at least in part, in the size of the comparison database, and the geographic location of most people in it.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Australia / Using information at the State Library of NSW
« on: Monday 09 March 15 10:50 GMT (UK)  »
Hi, I am desperately searching for any information on my grandfather, Ernest McQuillan Hargraves. (This thread outlines some of my difficulties.)

I went into the State Library of NSW today, with little success, but now I have a couple of questions please.

1. After his marriage in Melbourne in 1913, the family story is that he and his new wife travelled immediately to NSW, where he worked as a cook at the Jervis Bay Naval base. According to the Navy records he wasn't a naval serviceman, and it seems that the college was being built in 1913 and it didn't open until February 1915. My grandfather therefore must have worked as a cook for the labour force, and he presumably left when the work was completed.

I thought I would try to confirm this through electoral rolls.
  • So far I cannot find him on any 1913 Commonwealth electoral roll (when I presume he "should" have been listed under Tomerong sub-district in the Eden Monaro Electorate), but his wife Olive is still on the roll in Melbourne under her unmarried name (Olive Blanche Clark at St Kilda), so presumably they didn't advise of the change in location immediately.
  • I cannot find him on the 1915 roll either (he should still have been shown at Jervis Bay I think because it takes some time for people to update their movements) - but neither is he in Gwydir (Gunnedah) where they lived next. But there is a problem here, for by 1915 the naval base was made Commonwealth territory (known as Jervis Bay Territory) and is clearly excised from the Eden Monaro electorate. Later, the territory was added to the electorate of Fraser in ACT, but it didn't exist back then. The staff at the library were unable to tell me where I would find the list of voters in the territory in 1915.
  • Both Olive and Ernest appear on the 1916 and 1917 rolls at Gunnedah (Gwydir).
So, can anyone tell me please where i might find Jervis Bay Territory electorate lists for 1915?

2. I am not familiar with the library's records. Has anyone got any suggestions please for any other information they might have there that I would find on Ancestry or Find My Past?


Hi, I have asked several questions on this forum, trying to get some clues as to the origins of my grandfather, Ernest McQuillan Hargraves. I am still struggling with this, but I wondered whether handwriting could help, as I understand different scripts were taught in different locations.

Ernest said he was born in Lincoln England, but the few clues we have point towards him being born in Australia, probably Victoria.

Here are three examples of his handwriting. Does anyone recognise anything that is noticeable about his letter formation that might give a clue please, or is this an impossible hope?


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