Oct 072015

In our daily working life at FWL, we are constantly trying to find people. Some of them try really hard to hide from us – moving from one country to another, changing their name and/or being flexible with the truth on documentation. Over the course of the past few months, we have tracked beneficiaries and family connections to pastures new and away from the usual colonial destinations of Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada to far flung places such as The Gambia and Belize, as well as many European countries.

The internet and social media channels make searching for people much quicker than it was in yesteryear. Twenty years ago, it would have taken us months to do what we do now at the touch of a button. In my early days of genealogical research, the only way to find an ancestor in a census was to manually search each page of a census schedule on a microfilm! I remember trying to locate William Day and family in 1851 in Cheshunt. That is no small town, I can tell you. It took about three hours and now, I can just put his name and birth year into Ancestry/FindmyPast and up pops the record I am looking for…. If only we knew back then what the future would look like for genealogists.

Now, there are far more ethical dilemmas in professional research than there ever was before due to the volume and depth of information available to us. I will be taking part in a panel discussion on this topic at RootsTech, entitled ‘Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas in an Online World‘. Do we have the right to burst open secrets that we come across? …. I am looking forward to working with my good friends, Jill Ball (@geniaus) and Pauleen Cass (@cassmob) again, having last ‘stepped out together’ on an Unlock The Past cruise in early 2014.

Where in the world would we be without electronic devices? Can you imagine trying to function without a mobile phone which has internet functionality, a tablet, a laptop…. there was a time when these things did not exist! Hard to recall what it was like, even for someone who swore they would NEVER own a mobile phone! Oh, how times have changed – she says, after booking the appointment to have the mobile phone surgically removed from her right hand….

Source image: ThinkGarnish.com

Oct 052015

…. when every holiday must come to an end. And sadly, today was that day. Me and Mr FWL had successfully managed to take some time out this weekend (from Friday to Monday, so a long weekend, in actual fact) and this morning, we awoke to torrential rain and howling winds which signified our departure for Wiltshire from the most south-westerly county of Cornwall. Regular readers of the FWL blog will by now realise the general pace of life here…. and some people may be aware that I – the MD of FWL – am a very patient person with most individuals in this world. Clients, beneficiaries, colleagues and associates come from all walks of life and educational backgrounds and I have learnt from some of the worst managers in the world how NOT to manage people!

However, my tolerance level is significantly lower with drivers, especially on longer distance journeys. The door-to-door scheduling by Gertrude this morning was three hours so it was not an epic trip, but there were a fair few ‘interesting’ A roads before hitting the M5 at Exeter. Dual carriageways with white vans/trucks in the outside (overtaking) lane permanently and/or dozy car drivers doing 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) up a winding hill, thinking that was OK with an enormous queue of drivers behind them….!

Despite a few issues and a small amount of bad language (though no hand gestures or light flashing), we – Gertrude, Ronnie, me and Mr FWL – returned home in good time and then, the catch up began! On arrival at the office, I was met with a massive pile of post (mail) and two missed special deliveries so, in haste, I departed the office once more to chase down Dawn (Chief in Charge of Post). In the rain, located her with ease and passed the daily pleasantries, though she appeared surprised to see me…. The special deliveries were from Saturday, so I had to hot foot it (well, drive quickly) to the post office to collect them from Tim. Thank heaven he was there, as I had left the house with no ID!

To say that Monday has passed swiftly would be an understatement. Here I am writing this blog after just hitting my 10,000 steps and 8 kilometre distance targets. We have cracked (and made contact with potential beneficiaries on) more cases today than we have in nearly all of last week! What a Monday …. and on half a team as well! Back in the groove….!

Source image: TheForeverLearner.org

Oct 042015

During our travels of the weekend, I have managed to drive past many churches and cemeteries without stopping. Much as it has pained me, there is only so much graveyard trekking Mr FWL can cope with on our jaunts. However, during the course of our wanderings today, we walked almost smack bang into Bodmin Church. For no apparent reason – there were no family (or surname study related) burials known to have taken place in this area – this will be the only churchyard we have set foot in on this particular weekend away.

The churchyard – unfortunately – was very swiftly placed in my ‘Oh, no’ (most hated) category as the older stones had all been removed from their original placement and propped up against the outer walls of the churchyard. I suppose I should be thankful that they had not been placed down the central aisle of the church but hey, some might have been as I didn’t gain access to the church itself to find out.

A momentary flash of possibility arose when I thought there was a Pilfent recorded on one of the stones (a variation/deviation on the Sillifant/Pillifant theme) but it was actually a badly worn, Joseph Kent!

A surprising find was Thomas Isaac Cornwall Williams…. surprising, as he was born in Sydney, Australia and died in London! What on earth was he doing being buried in Bodmin? I’ll keep my opinion of Bodmin as clean and professional as possible by saying it’s not somewhere I would choose to live myself or perhaps consider visiting again…. So, what was Thomas’ connection with Bodmin?

Thomas was born in Sydney and his gravestone states he was the ‘son of Coleman Williams‘. There is a Geni tree including Thomas but it has no further details of his forebears, only his descendants. He was awarded a Croix de Guerre as a Major in the 10th Australian Field Artillery Brigade and his service record on Ancestry is incredibly detailed, stating his next of kin as ‘wife – Mrs Beatrice Kate Williams‘ and his regular occupation as a dentist.

One of many problems is that the NSW Births Transcription on FindmyPast state that Thomas’ father was Richard and his mother, Emily!? He dies in Marylebone Registration District in June quarter of 1967, so why is he buried in Bodmin? Where does his middle name of Cornwall come from? And who is his father?

Oct 032015

For the first time in a long while, me and Mr FWL have taken a weekend off. Well, partly off…. he is still on call if there is an issue which needs escalation at work and I have been on hand for some challenging case work and kept on top of emails. However, we are away.

With little more than accommodation planned, we arrived in Morval yesterday and, after a close encounter with a pheasant and a squirrel (both survived), we had a lovely dinner in Looe before crashing out for the night.

Saturday began with a trip to Polperro (and another pheasant on parade) for breakfast – well, more like lunch by the time we got there and had a meander around! We then set Gertrude the challenge of getting us to Bodinnick to take the ferry across to Fowey. Well, she managed the task but via some very small roads which were, in transpired, white on the road map. Very minor B roads…. (single track all the way)….

Epic failure on my part to read the ferry embarkation signs ended up with us being on the wrong road to get on the ferry but this apparently worked in our favour. We were waved onto the ferry and promptly forgotten about and so had a free ride!

What I had not realised was that, in my ‘wrong road’, I had stopped right next to Daphne Du Maurier‘s son’s house, pictured above right. I only discovered this fact after we decided to take a boat trip around Fowey. A brilliant idea on Mr FWL’s part! Such a lot of history in the town, including a Grade I listed building – Place House – which, we were told, has been the home of the Treffry family since the thirteenth century. It is not a house which is open to the public though and it is currently inhabited by just four family members, according to our captain. The fifteenth century tower is the tallest part of the property and is barely visible on foot but a very clear view is available from the water, see left.

We had a lovely clear day today – almost summery, though a little chilly at times – and we returned to Morval via my new One-Place Study home of Porcupine. Blink – oh, you’ve missed it! A lane, Porcupine House (a bed and breakfast) and not much more. An utterly manageable study….!

[The copyright of these images belongs to Family Wise Limited. They should not be used without prior permission of the MD.]

Oct 022015

4N_ButtonSo, this business lark…. just what is it all about? How do you set up a successful business from scratch? What are the sales and marketing secrets? What is the best way to use social media channels? How can you ensure you get the right people on your team? An enormous number of questions and perhaps not what an entrepreneur – who always expected to be flying solo – ever expected to be asking!

Regular readers will know that I am a member of two business networks – 4N and BNI. Although ‘Heir Hunting’ (intestate research) takes up a lot of our team’s resources, our more in-depth referred work generally comes directly from or via connections made in 4N or BNI. The crucial part of both networks for us at FWL is that we build relationships with people. As an adoptee, you are not going to suddenly open up to someone you hardly know and ask them to help you trace your birth family! You need to trust that person and know that they will do a good job….

BNI4N and BNI work on different levels for FWL. 4N is 50% social, 50% business and it works. In the one-to-one business appointments people book with us, we often find that people want to give us business there and then! Our business is unique in the networking world and so most people don’t expect to meet anyone like us at a networking event. Through BNI, we have gained many personal referrals for family history/tracing work as well as connections with various solicitors across the globe and several companies now refer their work direct to – and only to – us.

Recently, we have been featured by BNI National Office in a Success Story post – an amazing case which turned out better than any of us could ever have hoped for. We change lives – regularly actually – which makes our work pretty exciting! More than that, by joining 4N and BNI, we have connected with other businesses who help us in our everyday work. I’m Your PA, On The Button, Cobbold and CompanyGoughs, Wards and many more….

Do we know everything about business at FWL? Erm…. no. But we have surrounded ourselves with people who can help and advise us about things we don’t know about! Good business sense that.

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