Friday, June 25, 2010

Building a person's life story from Ancestry.com: John VERNELL #1

One of the fascinating things of doing family history research is tracing people through the years using online searches.

We used to have to do all this by post or by hiring researchers to help us, unless of course we live where all the records are kept. Now thanks to the LDS Church, many volunteers and organizations, and services like Ancestry.com, we can do much searching online at home.

I use Ancestry.com and have found it satisfies many of my needs, but I go outside it when I can, or when I have the opportunity.

So, here's how online searches helped me piece together what I know of the life of John VERNELL #1.

How to get started in genealogy? Start with what you know.

I knew from family stories that Eleanor Ann(e) CAMPBELL had married a man named VERNELL and his half-brother, whose surname was SANDERS, and that they lived in London, England. I am still unravelling the connections between these two families.

A good place to start building the records for someone is with the marriage of their parents.

I actually did the search for this marriage by hand in the old GRO records room at St Katherine's House in London. It wasn't too hard to find the marriage entry for Eleanor Ann(e) and John. That's John VERNELL #2, the father of John VERNELL #1. Finding the marriage of his parents gave me a starting point for this family.

The marriage was on July 5, 1864 at the Parish Church in Hackney, which is part of London.

Here is a short history of Hackney, courtesy of the Hackney Council's website.

In fact, the actual marriage certificate is online now via Ancestry.com and the London Metropolitan Archives. I'm not sure which Ancestry links will actually work for people who aren't members, but here's a link to the marriage certificate.

What it tells me about the not-yet-born John VERNELL #1 is that:
- his parents were young and hadn't been married before
- his mother was from Lewisham, Kent, where her father, James CAMPBELL, was a Cooper
- his father, a Salesman, was from Albion Road (presumably in the Parish of Hackney, London), and his father, John VERNELL #2, was a Silk Manufacturer.

The stage is set for John #1's arrival!

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