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Genealogy/English genealogy


QUESTION: Hi there,

As his youngest daughter I've been interested in my fathers side of the Family which I do not know much about.
My father is Alan Greensill who is British, English and possibly other European ethnicities, he is Scottish and Irish also.

His mothers Maiden name was Iris Caldwell
His mothers family names:

His father is Murray Greensill

I would like to know how to start and work my way through in research to find family members and how to identify links between information.
What are the best valid and reliable research tools e.g. books, apps, websites, methods e.g. birth & death certificate etc?
Where do you find documents e.g. websites how do you find the buildings that provide the information?

And what other search strategies are useful e.g. specific key words to include in the search tab/field etc.

I have tried finding the origins of the family names and the family crests and coats (haven't searched guilds etc) and find that there are different ones (ethnic origins: so far all names have been regarded English but some have Scottish and Irish origins as well, there are variations to the meanings of the family names and there are different coats) under the same name and I want to know how to find the one or more that are relevant to my family.

Your wisdom would be much appreciated.
Kind regards,

ANSWER: I assume that you are in New Zealand and I am not an expert on that country.  However, I can give you a few suggestions.  First I would join a local genealogical society in your area as they will know where there are records of your family.  If New Zealand records are as good as Australian ones, the death records reveal quite about about the family.  Also the service records are helpful.  Check immigration records for both Australia and New Zealand as a lot of people started out in Australia and then moved to New Zealand.

After that it is always important that you talk to every older person in your family about the family and take good notes.  I find that there is usually a clue that will set you on the right path even if what they tell you is not the actual truth.  Also try telephone books for New Zealand and call people with the same name and see if they will help you.  Sometimes (depending on the circumstances)you might even want to say you are just doing research without telling them your relationship (don't lie - just don't say everything).  I have know people not to talk to certain members of the family.

Then I will usually send people to but it only has electorial and army records for your family.  Murray is Lindsay Murray Howard Greensill who was a motor driver from Blenhelm in the service.  Iris is Iris Jean Greensill on the electorial register.  That is all there is.

More and more records are going on-line so even if you can't find it today, maybe it will be there tomorrow.

Lastly I would forget about crests, coats of arms, etc.  Most of the ones advertised on line are fakes.  Also they are awarded to a particular person, not a family name.  If the family was important enough to have crest or a coat of arms, when they married, and the wife was from an important family, they usually created a new crest to include both families.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi there,
I do live in NZ.
Thank you very much for your advice.
I'm Scottish, Irish, Walsh, English and British from my fathers side.
I did discover after my message to you the full name of my grandparents on my father's side, however thank you for advising me in case I hadn't found the information yet. Thank you for your advice, it is greatly appreciated.

How did you find the information regarding my grandparents (e.g. link to site and key words used etc, I had already found one electorial source but had not found the army information)?

Thank you so much for providing me with different ways of finding information and informing me of fake crests etc being advertised online and a bit of information regarding what they are about.

The army records are on and just states he was a motor driver from Blenhelm.  That and the voting registrars were all that was on their site.  Until they add more information for New Zealand, it is not worth the price to join.  However, maybe one of your libraries has a subscription so you can check on their information every month or so.

Forgot to mention, there was an Ian Christle Greensill in Nelson about the same time as your grandparents.  Not sure if he is related but he said his Mother was a Mrs. Jenkins.

See if anyone in NZ knows about immigration records.  That would put the family back in England/Ireland, Scotland and there are a lot of records there.

Good luck and I hope you can find out more about your family.


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Frances Sampey Deak


I specialize in English genealogy. I can answer questions on where to look for specific records and advise what is not available.


20 years experience in England as a professional genealogist.

Society of Genealogists, London
Northwest Kent Genealogical Society

Family Tree, England
Genealogical Helper, US

BA and MA University of South Florida
ABD University of Florida

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