By Ian Sewell
It’s been a quite time for Sewell Inquiries in fact I have had only one of note. Ann Ion contacted me from New Zealand asking if we had any further information on Henry Sewell born 29 June 1845 in Hackney who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1873. A quick look on the 1871 census records shows him in camp with the second battalion 18th Regiment – The Royal Irish and aged 26. A further search shows him again in barracks in Kent in 1861 with the same regiment aged 15. So not much there but a quick look at the regimental history for the 18th Regiment shows the second battalion sailed for New Zealand in 1863 to take part in the New Zealand or Maori Wars returning in 1871 just in time for the census! Clearly Henry made a number of contacts whilst he was out there as he married Ann Jane Holmes, sister to Major General William Holmes, settled in Wellington and had five children one of whom, Annie Clarissa, married Anne’s paternal grandfather. I was able to track Henry back a bit further and found his parents in Bardney, Lincolnshire but no further than that. I am adding this parish as one to check on my next visit to the Society of Genealogists to see if I can find some more details on the family.
I have been working on the Sewell records stored on Family Historian software and have continued updating the Gedcom with the unique identifier and I am glad to say that this is nearly done but it has taken me rather longer than I first imagined. The main reason for this is that I spend all day working on a computer at work and I’d rather not spend all my evenings in front of one! Thus I limit myself to updating around 200 records at a time and when you realise that some counties can have over two thousand entries you can understand why this is taking time! This though is but the first part of the plan. Once I have all the Gedcom up to date I aim to create one large database to help identify any possible links across counties. The reason for this is that whilst I was updating I realised that many of the records were one-off records with perhaps only a birth or marriage record and perhaps the person just moved to this county for this event and previously was in another county. With no census record prior to 1841 it easy to lose people if they move around. I don’t know if this will work but I think it will be interesting to try.
Also planned is to cross reference with the records we have. Whilst the Gedcom may have for instance a birth from the IGI we have not in effect ticked that off the list of IGI records. What is left behind when you have cross referenced both sets of data can be very useful in finding that one piece of information that you would not have found otherwise.
Another reason I have been a bit slower that I would have liked was the ‘sudden’ need to buy a new computer. Luckily I had backups of my data and did not lose any work I had done. I also had to change my emails address to email@example.com (please take note), though this had more to do with BT trying to extort money out of me just for using an email address. I had kept the BT address for over 20 years as changing it takes ages to update everything. It’s not until you change it that you realise just how many places you have it recorded or used as sign in details!