Sydney Family Genealogy Research


Visit to State Records of New South Wales.

Friday 4th November, 2016.

Excited to be visiting the New South Wales State Records today, I was running on Adrenalin. I had wanted to visit State Records for so long to conduct research. I needed to check out some details that did not make sense.image16

My walk to Town Hall station was very enjoyable as the weather is just beautiful. Warm and sunny with a gentle breeze – a perfect spring day. My train trip to Penrith from Town Hall went very smoothly.

The train departed on time and arrived in Penrith on time as well. I even managed to sit in one of the four “quiet carriages” that are allocated on longer distance Sydney trains for people like me who wish to Spend their travelling time reading or studying

I will be presenting the latest family history information at my Workshop in the Whitsunday Regional Council Cannonvale Library on my return. It is scheduled  for Wednesday 9 November which is the day after I arrive home. I intend to research and develop my course content along the way and then record the information as I discover it. You could not ask for more up to date information than that.

I have taken this travelling time to put in writing the questions that other Prendergast family Researchers have asked over the years.

These questions refer to what appears to be the incomplete records regarding the Minerva ship’s index. There has always been the belief that John Prendergast died intestate – is this so?Was there a Will for John Prendergast senior? Seeing  the number of pages for John Prendergast (jnr) Will, when Cousin Mark transcribed it, he believed that some pages are missing. If we find those missing pages,  what will they tell us.I have always wondered what the relationship between John and John junior was like? Will we find any documents that reveal their relationship? I will view several original documents that The State Records of New South Wales Repository is holding and has agreed to take out of their Safe to have ready for me.

Cousin Mark collected me from Penrith Railway station and I was grateful for the lift as the NSW State Records Repository is quite some way out of Penrith.

Our arrival at State Records was greeted by a very friendly and helpful Security guard who provided a vistors pass and registered our presence in the Repository.

We walked up the stairs to the Reader’s room, leaving my bag in a locker and received my pre-booked Readers card  so that we could view the pre-booked original documents. This is not permitted if you do not hold a Reader’s card. Mark who has visited the Repository on several occasions, already holds a Readers card.

There is no comparison to putting your hands on the original documents written by your ancestor, in my case, over 200 years ago. It is almost a spiritual sensation as you become witness to the lives they lived so long ago, written in their hand and using the language of that time.

Mark and I had a very exciting day making discoveries that have eluded the Prendergast family Researchers over many years. If there is anyone who would like to share our discoveries, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

By viewing documents, reading the fiche reels and being guided by staff, I made some incredible discoveries about John Prendergast’s ships indents, John Prendergast’s Will, a dispute between John Prendergast and son John and I gathered quite a considerable amount of information not seen previously.

By donning the white gloves and trawling through the original, often delicate documents that the kind staff at State Records of NSW had taken out of their safe in preparation for my visit, I was able to put further pieces of the puzzle together. As my excitement grew, the staff offered us several other documents that they thought I would like to view. 

It was a very satisfying trip to the State Records of NSW and I hope to make another visit soon.

SAG Seminar

Saturday 5th November, 2016.

The sun shone brightly as I made my way to the Mitchell Library for the SAG Seminar “Lost in Immigration and Travel”

All along the way, I stopped to take photographs of the beautiful historical Sandstone buildings that mean so much more to me now that I realise they were built in my 5x Grandfather John Prendergast’s time. I now know that the Prendergast family contributed to the cost of building St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral.image7

Several other ladies heading in my direction stopped to say hello and introduce themselves to me. They really are a friendly group.

On arrival at the Mitchell Library, it was lovely to be greeted by my friend Christine whom I have been keeping in touch with since our meeting at UCC Genealogy school last year. We could’nt wait to catch up on all our news.

The Seminar commenced with a warm welcome by Martyn Killion the president of SAG.

Also, I was pleased to hear the “Äcknowledgement of country” and the respect  paid to the “Traditional Custodians” when Michelle Patient commenced her presentation.

Michelle continued by giving an overview of the day’s proceedings. I was  not surprised when Michelle asked all in attendance to put our Cameras away and not take photos and to not copy any handouts from the Seminar.

Having just completed two Genealogy courses in the UK and having  plagiarism explained in the strictest terms during my UNE advanced diploma course, I realise that there are severe penalties for  stealing Intellectual property.

As a qualified Work place Trainer and assessor, who is also a qualified Mature age student teacher with qualifications accredited through Melbourne University, I understand the hours that an Educator and Genealogy  Researcher puts in to Research develop and deliver a bespoke course and  also the cost involved.

Along with every other Blogger I put away my camera and took out my pen and paper and made copious notes that I will use to construct the contents of my Workshop.

Michelle Patient then delivered her paper “Exodus to the Southern Seas”using information that she has researched throughout Australia and New Zealand. She made a point of telling us what media she had used and whether it was from her own private collection or free public access.

The well regarded writer and speaker Kerry Farmer then shared her research  into 19th Century Immigration Schemes to Australia. Like the experienced Genealogist sitting beside me was over heard to say to her neighbour “I have never heard of half these Organisations” I started hastily recording the names of these schemes to share at the a workshop on Wednesday as I believe they will be of enormous help to all the attendees.

After lunch, Emily Hanna who has been of enormous help to me during the times that I have emailed her, gave us a handout freely available at the NSW State Records and then went on to explain Shipping And arrival Records and how to locate them.

A very informative paper was presented by David Berg of the NSW State Library who showed many slides of historical ships during his talk and advised the availability of the photos in the Mitchell Library and where we can locate this information on line.

Brian Scales of the National Archives, NSW State office, yes not in Canberra at present but in every Capital city of each State in Australia, shared his extensive knowledge with us. His expertise is in the field of 20th Century Migration. He explained that their Website was designed to cater to all the demographics, school children, casual researchers, Genealogists and Statisticians doing serious Research. step by step we progressed through their website dealing with Genealogy. He simplified what could be a laborious task.

All in all, my attendance at the SAG Seminar on Saturday has proved to be invaluable and tomorrow promises to be just as exciting. 

Sunday 5th November, 2016.

imageAnother beautiful day in Sydney. It is so delightful strolling through the beautiful Hyde Park gardens to get to the Mitchell Library where our SAG Seminar is being held.

Today our Presenters included Ralph Hawkins who divulged what a varied collection SAG holds in their Library and Midas collection. It will be well worth a visit to Richmond Villas where the collections are held.

It was interesting to listen to another of the Australian Genealogists who provided information in their area of expertise on “Who do you think you are?” Christine Yeates did not disappoint. Her presentation “Soldier, sailor, exile or convict: how did you get here? Was very well delivered and I felt that I came away with a greater knowledge and a brilliant “select list of references”

Martyn Killion who began his illustrious career in Genealogy at an age so young his mother had to chauffeur him around to Repositories, gave some very practical advice on how to search for those Ancestors who are well and truly still swimming.

At the conclusion of the SAG Seminar, we were guided by a think Tank with all the presenters on a panel discussing and answering any questions that the Attendees still had.

I have met some other Genealogists and made many new contacts during the SAG Seminar.

I have a wealth of new ideas and some announcements to make on the latest developments in Genealogy research and will delight in sharing them with the advanced family historians on Wednesday at the Workshop at the Cannonvale Library.

The Mitchell Library Reading Room


The Land granted to John Prendergast 1816


Grant Signature Lachlan Macquarie fifth

Governor of New South Wales from 1810 – 1821


The large Colonial seal of N.S.W Government


Sydney Central Railway Station,

previously Sydney Burial Ground

until all remains exhumed 1901.

Monday 7th November, 2016.

The weather again was perfect and I enjoyed my stroll through Hyde Park to The Mitchell Library. I have an appointment to meet Cousin Mark in the Special Collections area of the Mitchell Library so that he can get a Special Collections card in order to view the documents I have requested to be taken from the Safe. I have held a Special Collections card for a number of years now and it allows me to view information restricted to other Library card holders.

On time at 12.45pm, we both proceeded to the Special Collections area to sign Mark up for a Special Collections card. The process was very swift and expecting it to take longer, I had planned to speak to the lovely Librarian of Information and Access Julie Sweeten when she arrived for work at 2pm. Julie has provided excellent service regarding my pre-order for the original documents of John Prendergast.

Firstly Julie rang me here in the Whitsundays to ensure that she had the correct details for the documents. Then she emailed me the night before my arrival to ensure that I had directions for where to collect them. She also added that she hoped to see me when she arrived for work.

Because we were a little earlier than expected and Julie had arranged our pre-order, the other staff at first had difficulty locating the documents. To be fair, some did not have access permission to the Safe as so many valuable documents are held there and along with all Repositories these days, there is tight security.

We initially started viewing the Microfilm but found that when printed, the copies came out too dark to be able to read.

Julie arrived at 2pm and the staff rang her from the Reading room. When she came downstairs, she warmely greeted us and happily retrieved from the Safe, the 1816 Land Grant of John Prendergast for us to view. Again we donned the White gloves.

It was so exciting being able to view the large and original document printed on beautiful cream coloured parchment, the flowing and elegant hand writing, use of historical legal jargon and the authentic signature of Lachlan Macquarie, the fifth Governor of New South Wales.It made it well worth the trip to the Mitchell Library.

Julie asked if we would mind if the rest of the Staff could take a look at the document and like me, they were so excited to be seeing it. They commented that we must be very proud of our 5x Grandfather being granted land at Airds so early in the history of the Colony and I must admit that I do feel enormous pride in my Ancestors as they all played a significant role in making Australia the wonderful country it is today.

I was sad to learn that the other records I requested could not be taken out of the safe as they are too valuable, fragile and delicate. The fear that they might crumble prevents them from being viewed.

after our Preservation, Conservation and Restoration Workshop with Rachel Spano of the Queensland State Library, I do wonder what steps to remedy this situation can be taken. After all, what is the point in keeping documents in the collection if no-one is able to view them?

The wording on the Grant of Land “I DO BY THESE PRESENTS, GIVE and GRANT JOHN PRENDERGAST , His Heirs and Assigns to HAVE and to HOLD FOR EVER, Fifty Acres of land” etc. reminded me that we do not own our family or country’s history but are custodians for future generations. The greatest legacy that we can leave our children, Grand children and the people of Australia, is the recorded history of their family.

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