Wondering how to track down more family history information

Family history is something of an on and off hobby for me as it can sometimes be several years before more information becomes available.

In between times, it’s often worthwhile looking again at the information already to hand as there are often hidden gems amongst it. For example, the original family bible from William Stewart who was born way back on June 28th 1835 though it probably dates from September 6th 1858 when he married Eliza Dalrymple. He kept that up to date throughout his life as did his children although there are gaps both in later and earlier generations.

Those gaps can largely be filled in though. One very simple thing was realising that there was a very consistent habit of naming the first born boy and girl after the father and mother. Thus, when the “first” born wasn’t that meant that there was either a stillborn child or, more likely (because stillborn children didn’t get named), a child who died quite young. That such children existed has been confirmed in all cases where I’ve had later information about the family so, for example, the 1911 census confirmed several of these children in various branches of the family.

Other bits of information can sometimes need more thought. It was puzzling as to why David J Tannihill of Market Square Lisburn paid for the grave of my great grandfather Andrew. However, later on I found that when he died he was living in 155 Mayo Street, Belfast so if his family had bought the grave they’d have had to pay the non-resident rate for the grave. Who David Tannihill was remains, for the moment, a mystery as indeed does the reason why he wasn’t buried in Belfast instead.

I’ve suspected for a while that some of the location information I have for various people isn’t quite right as we tried to get some birth and marriage certificates where they were recorded as living at the time but found that the information just wasn’t there. So, the plan was to get the certificates from known locations and work backwards from there. That was a problem though as I didn’t know for sure where my grandfather was born. Or, rather, I didn’t realise that I really did know. That information came from his older sister Mary who died when she was 2 in Killymackel, Derriaghy (near Lisburn) of bronchitis. Thus I know that the family lived there in 1896 but in Mayo Street by 1906.

Interestingly, Derriaghy is where my Dad continued to go to the Masonic Lodge so presumably they would have some information about everyone from him back to my great grandfather and perhaps even the generation before that. Also, some years back I went round the nearby Presbyterian churchyard which seemed to have a number of Stewarts buried although at the time I hadn’t linked that with my lot (another visit is called for to recheck that information).

Finally, there’s my latest flash of inspiration. Whilst I’ve known for a while that my grandfather was in the first world war and that there should therefore be a service record for him, what didn’t occur to me is that there would be a corresponding service record from his time in the police so that’s something else to look into.

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