SEWELL Co-ordinator’s Report April 2015

Ian Sewell By Ian Sewell

As many of you now know I have taken over the position of Sewell coordinator following Diana’s sad death. I have now taken ownership of all of her records and it is a lot. I have over 30 binders containing data and correspondence plus lots of computer files! Whilst some of it is organised, like the computer data, much of it is not and to date I have found no overall index of the data. I am also aware that some of the data came from Brian Sewell who used to coordinate Essex, so added with my own research there are at least three separate methodologies used, plus copies of the same records with no clear idea which set is the more up to date or of the differences between them. It is going to take me a long time to get to grips with the data so please be patient with any requests you might have. Also should anyone like to help with its organising please drop me a line.
I have also made the momentous decision to move all my research to a new piece of software. Like many people I do not like to move from a software that I know how to use and am familiar with, however the problems underlying Generations are getting too much to ignore as it is not being updated to deal with new versions of Windows and more and more issues are appearing with it. I myself had a very worrying experience when I could not open a single project on my machine, making me think they were all corrupted. Luckily re-booting the machine fixed the problem. So I have made the move to Family Historian 6 (FH). Whilst I cannot give you a full report on my experiences yet the initial transition has been quite successful. FH reads Gedcom files that have been created from Generations and except for an issue with naming sources this has gone smoothly. You can then either keep the data in the Gedcom file or convert it to a FH Project. As with learning any new piece of software there is much to learn, though I am pleased to say that in my initial fumbling’s I found a problem the support team identified as a bug in the software. I will let know how it goes.
Here now a cautionary tale from one of our members whose name I will withhold to save their embarrassment. Though they kept most of their research online at Ancestry this was only the bare bones of the data, the rest was on their computer that they shared with their partner. Unfortunately whilst ‘cleaning up’ the machine their partner accidently deleted all the genealogy data that was on the machine. To make matters worse there were no backups of the data so it is in effect lost. The moral of the story is to back up your data and if in doubt back it up again, cloud storage is easy and cheap, if not free for relatively small amounts of data, not to mention thumb drives and CD’s. So if you have not backed up your data recently go and do it now, you never know what might happen to it.
I would like to welcome Claire Bates as a new member. Claire is from Western Australia and is researching her family there. I hope we assist her in the coming months with her research.
I was also contacted by Peter Tait who came to us via our web site where he had found an article written by Diana on a Major William Tait Sewell who died at the Battle of the Somme – I had hoped to assist him in tracing back his family but ran into a bit of a block identifying William’s father and I could not find Diana’s original data (though I am sure it’s somewhere in the 30 binders) where she thought the family came from Westmoreland. Finding Williams marriage certificate should help in identifying him and finding where the family came from originally.
Martin Lafferty contacted me trying to identify a Mr Sewell who travelled to Sarawak to set up an experimental farm for Angela Burdett Coutts, a 19th century philanthropist. With such limited information I could not help him much but later he was able to identify the man as Henry Sewell born in Pagham, Sussex in 1823. To my knowledge Sewell’s coming from Sussex is new so I want to find more about the family and if they came from another region. I will let you know how the research goes and hopefully I will make an article for the journal as Henry had an eventful career.
Martin also provide me with this link to the online version of the 1906 published history of the Isle of Wight Sewell’s: This family is quite well known with members such as Henry Sewell the first Prime Minister of New Zealand and his brother William Sewell a novelist of note. Martin also provide the following link to the collected works of William held in Radley College which he founded in 1847: