Jill, a member of the St Barnabas Inbetweens group, was awarded a QSM in the New Year Honours list for her services to genealogy – congratulations, Jill!

A visit to the small Alford Forest cemetery as a 14-year-old with her father ignited the spark for Jill’s lifelong interest in genealogy. Spotting so many surnames the same as her own prompted questions, and the helpful way her father explained the relationships had a lasting positive influence.

This fascination with people’s personal family history and connections has clearly never left her. She loves helping people unravel anomalies in family stories and negotiate apparent ‘dead-ends’.

Detective work and persistence is essential as demonstrated by the discovery that her great grandfather’s brother had been living here before ‘emigrating’ to NZ. Knowing the two newly married brothers had sailed out together, Jill wanted to find out where the marriage of her great grandfather’s brother had taken place. Research in Edinburgh finally gave access to the required marriage certificate and there, on the certificate, was ‘usual place of residence’ – Canterbury, NZ. The surprise of this discovery still lingers, and Jill wistfully laments that there are no surviving letters between the brothers when they were in different hemispheres.

Jill explained that death certificates can give remarkable detail. Take the case of the elderly man whose cause of death was ‘unknown’. His death certificate stated he was 91, a farmer and was found dead in a paddock. She wondered why a 91-year-old farmer dying in one of his paddocks would have produced such caution.

Jill has held all roles on the executive of the Family History Society of New Zealand at various times and is currently their Patron. She is passionate about helping and passing on knowledge – surely anyone attending a course she leads must come away enthused and informed. The society’s magazines and newsletters are available in libraries.

A recent on-line Bible reflection demonstrated, for me, that the genealogies within the Scriptures are also significant. Roberta Smith.

By Mark Chamberlain