05 February 2022

George HUGILL (joiner of Stockton-on-Tees)

St. Thomas's Church
(photos by Judy Webster, 2005)
On this day 178 years ago (5 Feb 1844), at St. Thomas's Church, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England, George HUGILL married Jane BLACKBURN.

George was probably a brother of my 2x great-grandmother Mary HUGILL, who had married John PEACOCK in the same church in 1836. George HUGILL, a joiner of Stockton-on-Tees, was the executor for John's will, but unfortunately that document doesn't specify their relationship.

In census returns, the birthplace of Mary PEACOCK nee HUGILL (born c.1813) and George HUGILL (c.1816-1817) is shown as Hull, Yorkshire.

Today I ordered the certificate for George and Jane's marriage in 1844. I want to know whether George gave the same details then as he did when he married again (as a widower) in 1858, to Helen WRIGHT. According to the 1858 certificate, George was a son of Joseph HUGILL, a joiner.

George HUGILL and Jane BLACKBURN had three children:

* John George HUGILL died from burns at the age of 9 (see Carlisle Patriot, 14 Jan 1854).

* Frederick HUGILL (1846-1926) was a watchmaker and jeweller. He and his wife Elizabeth ROBINSON moved to Bangor in North Wales, but their five children were born in the Stockton area - Jane (she married George William EWART), George Frederick, Helen, Elizabeth and Florence.

* William HUGILL, born 1849. I have not yet researched him.

If you'd like to exchange information about this family, please email me at the address shown in the sidebar.

This is my Week 5 post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy Johnson Crow has challenged us to do something with the family history information that we've gathered. Even if I don't always stick to the suggested themes, I'll try to post something here each week.

(This post first appeared on https://judy-webster.blogspot.com/2022/02/george-hugill-joiner-of-stockton-on-tees.html)

25 January 2022

RUSHWORTH and WEBSTER - what's the connection?

'Curious' is this week's theme for '52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks'. I'm curious to know more about the connection between my WEBSTERs and the RUSHWORTH family.
  1. In 1793, Joseph RUSHWORTH was a witness at the marriage of William WEBSTER and Elizabeth Harley PORTER in Middlesex, England. [Source: Parish register of marriages, St.James, Clerkenwell, Middlesex. London Metropolitan Archives ref. p76/js1/034.]

  2. In 1813, Thomas RUSHWORTH was chosen as the guardian of Thomas WEBSTER aged 19, 'child of William WEBSTER late of the Borough in Southwark London deceased and the nephew sole executor and residuary legatee named in the will of Henry WEBSTER' of Leeds, Yorkshire. [Source: Curation, Henry WEBSTER, 20 Oct 1813. Borthwick Institute for Archives, Yorkshire, England. Copy ordered via Prerogative and Exchequer Courts of York Probate Index.]

  3. In 1841, Cecelia RUSHWORTH, 99 Waterloo Bridge Road, Lambeth, Surrey, was present at the death of Elizabeth Harley WEBSTER. [Source: General Register Office (England/Wales); death certificate of Elizabeth Harley WEBSTER. Cecelia was the informant.]
RUSHWORTH is not a very common name, and at the time of the 1841 census, most of them were in Yorkshire.

So the burning question is... when did the connection between the RUSHWORTH and WEBSTER families start? Are they related somehow (see Webster Family Origins: Yorkshire or Scotland?) or were they just friends, associates or neighbours? If you have any information, please leave a comment here, or email me at the address shown in the sidebar.
This is my Week 4 post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy Johnson Crow has challenged us to do something with the family history information that we've gathered. Even if I don't always stick to the suggested themes, I'll try to post something here each week. It may just be an 'On This Day' biographical snippet, or an extract from an interesting document, but anything is better than nothing!

(This post first appeared on https://judy-webster.blogspot.com/2022/01/rushworth-and-webster-whats-connection.html)

23 January 2022

Photo of Col WEBSTER with Bert and Flossie

Col Webster playing with Bert and Flossie, 2005
(photo by Judy Webster)

Favourite Photo is this week's theme for '52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks'. I chose this photo because it brings back many happy memories of my Dad (Col WEBSTER) and our beloved dogs Flossie (a Border Collie) and Bert (a Smithfield). They were both 'rescue dogs', and hugely important in our lives.

Dad was aged 86 when I took this photo at 'Taminga' (the 32-acre property near Fernvale, Queensland, to which Mum and Dad retired after they left Cunnamulla).

Flossie came to live there in 1998. Bertie joined us for Christmas 2002, when my sister Robyn was "just fostering him from the pound until New Year". (Haha - a likely story!) To nobody's surprise, they fell in love with each other and Bert became the newest member of our family.

That Christmas was rather entertaining. In three days, Bertie ate a chair, an outdoor sofa, two foam boxes, a mat, a dog bed, assorted garden tools, and several toys belonging to Flossie. He was only ten months old, so the chewing phase was in full swing, but thankfully it didn't last too long. And in his entire life, he never chewed a shoe!
This is my Week 3 post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy Johnson Crow has challenged us to do something with the family history information that we've gathered. Even if I don't always stick to the suggested themes, I'll try to post something here each week. It may just be an 'On This Day' biographical snippet, or an extract from an interesting document, but anything is better than nothing!

(This post first appeared on https://judy-webster.blogspot.com/2022/01/photo-of-col-webster-with-bert-and.html)

14 January 2022

Children of William WEBSTER and Elizabeth PORTER

In a previous post I wrote about the origins of William WEBSTER, who married Elizabeth Harley PORTER. William and Elizabeth had eight children - Thomas, James (my ancestor), Elizabeth, Ann, William, Henry, George and Ebenezer. They were all baptised at either Stockwell Chapel or St.Saviour's Church in Southwark, Surrey, England. All eight were still alive in early 1813, when they were named in the will of their uncle, Henry WEBSTER.

Brothers James and George WEBSTER married sisters Mary and Sarah GIBLETT, and I know a lot about their descendants.

Thomas and Ebenezer WEBSTER (the eldest and youngest of the siblings) died in Leeds, Yorkshire (unmarried).

Ann WEBSTER was born circa 1800, and her brother William WEBSTER was born 21 Dec 1802 (the baptism register shows his birth date). When Michael FLYNN (historian, author, and my 6th cousin) was researching the PORTER descendants, he found the 1851 census entry, in Tottenham (Middlesex), for William WEBSTER (aged 47, born Southwark Surrey, unmarried), Anne WEBSTER (aged 49, sister, born Stockwell Surrey, unmarried), and Mariamne PORTER (aged 14). Other sources confirm that her name was Mariamne, not Marianne. For her relationship, it looks as though the enumerator couldn't decide whether to put 'Niece' or something starting with C. Mariamne was in fact a daughter of William and Anne's cousin.

Although Ancestry's index showed the wrong year, I found an image of an 1857 burial register entry that, based on the address (Tottenham) and age, fits this William WEBSTER. To check whether it was the same person, I bought the 1857 death certificate. William WEBSTER's occupation shown there fits with the 1851 census entry ('agent for iron works'). Although I'd have liked to find a will, I'm still confident that this William and Anne are the children of William WEBSTER and Elizabeth Harley PORTER.

I have yet to research the other WEBSTER siblings - Elizabeth (baptised 1797), Ann (baptised 1800) and Henry (born and baptised 1805). If you'd like to exchange information about the family, or if you have questions about the sources that I used, please email me at the address shown in the sidebar.
This is my Week 2 post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy Johnson Crow has challenged us to do something with the family history information that we've gathered. Even if I don't always stick to the suggested themes, I'll try to post something here each week. It may just be an 'On This Day' biographical snippet, or an extract from an interesting document, but anything is better than nothing!

(This post first appeared on https://judy-webster.blogspot.com/2022/01/children-of-william-webster-and.html)

07 January 2022

Webster Family Origins: Yorkshire and Scotland?

Earliest known Websters as at January 2022
Pedigree chart showing our earliest known Websters
(ignore the numbers generated by my genealogy software)

My WEBSTER family allegedly left Aberdeen (Scotland) in 1745 ('because of the political troubles of the time') and settled in Yorkshire (England).

My 4xgreat-grandfather William WEBSTER (who married Elizabeth Harley PORTER) died in 1810 aged 44. He was in Southwark, Surrey, but as yet I don't know where he was born. William was a dyer.

His brother Henry WEBSTER, a drysalter, died in Leeds, Yorkshire, in or before 1813. One of the wills that I bought *proves* that William and Henry were brothers. It also proves that umpteen trees on Ancestry have the wrong birth/death years for William!

If you'd like to exchange information about this family, please email me at the address shown in the sidebar.

Sources include... (contact me for more detailed citations)

* Exchequer Court of York probate records.
* Freedom of the City admission papers, London, England.
* Non-conformist parish records, Leeds, Yorkshire (two versions of a burial register, plus a third volume that appears to be a register of graves).
* Newspaper death notices, Leeds, Yorkshire, England, 1823 and 1826.
* Birth, death and marriage certificates.
* Parish registers of baptism, marriage and burial.
* Private family papers, including letters written by a relative in England before 1903.
This is my Week 1 post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy Johnson Crow has challenged us to do something with the family history information that we've gathered. Even if I don't always stick to the suggested themes, I'll try to post something here each week. It may just be an 'On This Day' biographical snippet, or an extract from an interesting document, but anything is better than nothing!

(This post first appeared on https://judy-webster.blogspot.com/2022/01/webster-family-origins-yorkshire-and.html)

05 January 2017

Genealogy in 2016: Accentuate the Positive

With the 'Accentuate the Positive' geneameme, Jill Ball encourages us to focus on our recent genealogical achievements, not the things that are still on our 'to do' list at the end of 2016.

  • An elusive ancestor I found was my gr-gr-gr-great-grandfather William WEBSTER (occupation: dyer), whose burial was among 79,000 new records added to the Greater London Burial Index on FindMyPast. I subsequently found an image of the original burial register in the London Metropolitan Archives collection on Ancestry.

  • A precious family photo I found (courtesy of a distant cousin) was Helen Rebecca CAMPBELL (born Tiree, Argyllshire, Scotland) who married William Tasman WOOLDRIDGE in Tasmania, Australia. There is a strong resemblance between Helen and her brother John CAMPBELL, whose portrait (painted by Alfred Bock) was in the historical museum at Sale in Gippsland, Victoria.

  • An ancestor whose grave I found was Carl Ludwig RIENECKER. I somehow missed it when I tramped through Forest Hill cemetery (Queensland), which has several sections separated by bushland. Luckily there is a grave location map linked to the Billion Graves Cemetery Index.

  • An important vital record I found was the marriage of James WEBSTER and Mary GIBLETT in Bath, Somerset, in 1817. FindMyPast has an index (Somerset marriages post-1754) but the image of the original register is in Somerset, England, Marriage Registers, Bonds and Allegations on Ancestry.

  • A newly found family member shared information about descendants of Annie Louisa WEBSTER (1848-1916) who married William SMITH, a builder in Camberwell, Surrey, England. Some members of that family use the hyphenated surname WEBSTER-SMITH.

  • A geneasurprise I received was (1) Dick Eastman, in his famous online genealogy newsletter, recommended my Web page (Using and Compiling Indexes); (2) some of my English relatives were born or married in China (Ethel Winifred HUDSON, Edgar Murray HYND and their children) or died in Africa (Geoffrey Aubie TURNER). The sources I used included Andrews Newspaper Index Cards 1790-1976 and the National Probate Calendar on Ancestry, and British Nationals born overseas and British Nationals married overseas on FindMyPast.

  • A 2016 blog post that I was proud of (because I think it will help a lot of people) was '40 of My Favourite Genealogy Indexes and Sources'.

  • A new piece of software I mastered was IrfanView (see 'How to save source information so that it appears on an image' and 'Using IrfanView to Label Digital Photos').

  • A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Tweetdeck. I make separate columns for selected people and topics (such as hashtags #genealogy and #AncestryHour) so that I can easily see those tweets. With Tweetdeck I can also schedule my own tweets to be posted when I'm away or asleep.

  • A genealogy webinar from which I learnt something new was Publishing a Genealogy E-Book, by Thomas MacEntee.

  • I was pleased with the presentation I gave to Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society ('Not Just the Patient: how hospital and asylum records tell the story of a family' and 'Ancestors who moved or vanished'). Just before I left home, I broke my toe, so driving to Toowoomba and giving a long presentation was quite a challenge.

  • I taught a friend how to use the full list of all record sets on FindMyPast to gain access to some that (inexplicably) can't be found via their A to Z Search.

  • A genealogy book that taught me something new was Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, by Mark Herber.

  • A great repository I visited was the Borthwick Institute for Archives (Yorkshire, England) - but it was a 'virtual' visit, not an overseas trip! Many of the Borthwick's original records are now online as digital images. This year I downloaded several wills and hundreds of parish records via the magnificent Yorkshire Collection and Prerogative and Exchequer Courts Of York Probate Index on FindMyPast.

  • A new history book I enjoyed was Shadows of the Workhouse: The Drama of Life in Postwar London (the beautifully written memoirs of Jennifer Worth).

  • A geneadventure I enjoyed was a genealogy conference on a 7-night Barrier Reef cruise organised by Unlock the Past.

  • Another positive I would like to share is... In 2016 I made a lot of progress because I took a close look at what I'd previously found (or failed to find). I studied certificates again, and suddenly realised the significance of witnesses' names. Taking one ancestor at a time (and then their siblings), I listed the records that were missing from my collection. I obtained certificates, wills, school records and other items that were unavailable (because of access restrictions) when I started family history 40 years ago. I checked what sources I'd previously used, and I looked for new indexes (and digital images of original records) on the Internet and in libraries and Archives.

    I'm sure that you, too, will enjoy success in 2017 if you follow Pauleen Cass's superb advice in My 3 Rs of Genealogy Research.

My previous posts in the 'Accentuate the Positive' series were in 2012 and 2013. If you'd like to join in, see Jill's blog.

12 January 2016

Kitty (Catherine) ASHTON and Peter MATTHEW

UPDATED 2020...

Briefly...  Kitty ASHTON was born in Yorkshire, England, probably in 1777 or 1778. She married Peter MATTHEW in 1803, and died in 1862. Associated surnames include HUDSON, LEAPER and GELDER, and perhaps MOUNTAIN. If you think we are related, please contact me as explained below.

So far the earliest record I've found for my great-great-great-grandmother Kitty (or Catherine) ASHTON is her marriage in 1803; but 1841, 1851 and 1861 census records suggest that she was born in about 1777 or 1778 at Swinton, Yorkshire. The question is... which Swinton?!

CuriousFox lists four places named Swinton in Yorkshire:  Swinton near Malton (North Yorkshire);  Swinton near Masham (North Yorkshire);  Swinton (West Yorkshire); and Swinton Bridge (West Yorkshire). My initial reaction was that, based on the location of other events for the family, I should focus on the Swinton near Malton, which is in the parish of Appleton le Street. However, later research showed that the extended family had some links to West Yorkshire, so I'm keeping an open mind.

On 6 Feb 1803, at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, England, Kitty ASHTON of the parish of Kirby Misperton was married (by banns) to Peter MATTHEW of the parish of Crambe. Both signed. Witnesses were Mary MATTHEW, John HARWOOD and Isabella BOWER. (Names of the last two witnesses are rather difficult to read, but they both appear as witnesses to other marriages in this register.)

Parish register of marriages, Kirby Misperton, held by North Yorkshire County Record Office

The Bishop's Transcript of the burial register for Crambe, Yorkshire (North Riding) says 'Peter MATTHEW, abode Barton, buried 3rd April 1832 aged 74' (Borthwick Institute for Archives ref.PR-CRAM 8 page 22). If this is Kitty's husband, he was a lot older than her. I have not yet found a will or other document to prove or disprove my theory.

Census enumerator's returns for Barton-le-Willows, North Yorkshire, 30 Mar 1851, list Kitty MATTHEW as the head of the household, 'widow aged 73, grocer, born Swinton, Yorkshire'. The household included her son-in-law William LEAPER, his wife Jane and their children.

1851 census entry for Kitty Matthew at Barton-le-Willows
Part of the 1851 census return for Barton-le-Willows (re Kitty MATTHEW, born Swinton)

Census enumerator's returns for Barton-le-Willows, 7 Apr 1861, list Kitty MATHEW (only one 'T' here) as 'mother-in-law, widow aged 83, born Swinton, Yorkshire, deaf', living with William LEAPER and his wife Jane, four children and two grandchildren.

In the 1841 census, Kitty was not with Jane and William LEAPER or Christiana and William HUDSON, who were then at Barton-le-Willows. I eventually found her, but not easily, because her given name is not shown in census indexes. Aged 63, she was at Pontefract with her son-in-law William GELDER and his young children. His wife, Kitty's daughter Elizabeth, died in 1840.

I bought the death certificate for Kitty MATTHEWS who died 25 May 1862 at Barton-le-Willows, aged 84, widow of Peter MATTHEWS, a farm labourer. (The name is usually spelled MATTHEW but the certificate has an S.) The informant was William LEAPER of Barton-le-Willows.

FreeBMD indexed the given name as Kelly instead of Kitty. The envelope icon shows that there is a Postem for this entry. Postems are explained on https://bit.ly/UkApostm.

When I saw the handwriting in the General Register Office index, I could understand that mistake.

'Kitty' looks a bit like 'Kelly' in this GRO index entry

Questions and 'To Do' List
  1. Search for any ASHTON references (especially a baptism for Kitty or Catherine ASHTON in the late 1770s) in parish registers and Bishop's Transcripts for Kirby Misperton, Appleton-le-Street, Malton and nearby parishes. ParLoc (parish locator programme) lists these parishes within a 5 mile radius of Appleton-le-Street (North Yorkshire):  Barton-le-Street;  Bulmer;  Hovingham;  Huttons Ambo;  Kirby Misperton;  New Malton;  New Malton, St Leonard;  New Malton, St Michael;  Normanby;  Norton;  Old Malton;  Parnham (?);  Salton;  Slingsby;  Terrington.

  2. If searches in North Yorkshire are negative, try parishes around Swinton in West Yorkshire. ParLoc lists these parishes within a 2 mile radius of Swinton in West Yorkshire: Adwick upon Dearne; Bolton upon Dearne; Mexborough; Wath upon Dearne. My HUDSON and BARBER families had Bolton upon Dearne connections, but I will investigate North Yorkshire first.

  3. How many children did Peter and Kitty MATTHEW have? I already know of three - Elizabeth (married William GELDER), Christiana (married William HUDSON) and Jane (married William LEAPER). Are there any clues in their records or records of their descendants?

  4. Was Kitty related to James ASHTON and Thomas ASHTON who witnessed marriages at Kirby Misperton in 1804-1807?

  5. Hannah ASHTON witnessed the marriage of a Mary MATTHEW and Joseph MOUNTAIN in 1804 at Kirby Misperton. Was this Mary MATTHEW the same one who witnessed the marriage of Peter MATTHEW and Kitty ASHTON in 1803?

  6. Try to contact anyone researching ASHTON or MATTHEW in the Swinton or Kirby Misperton area. Use the suggestions in my talk Who Else is Researching Your Family?

  7. Personally repeat the parish register and Bishop's Transcript searches previously done by a volunteer using microfilm at the Borthwick Institute in York.

  8. Thoroughly search Crambe parish records.

  9. Do separate searches in each record set in the Yorkshire collection on FindMyPast. Repeat the search when more records are added later this year. Periodically repeat any searches with negative results in case database errors are corrected.

  10. Pay attention to FamilyTreeDNA matches on the X-chromosome. They could be through Kitty ASHTON or her parents or Peter MATTHEW or his mother.

  11. Look for wills and probate records for all family members.

  12. Check that I've added postems to all relevant entries in FreeBMD.

  13. Check that I've added all relevant people to LostCousins.

  14. Update this list as my research progresses!

Sources used in this research include

How to contact me

If you think we are related, please contact me by email at genieblogs@gmail.com or by post as explained here. I also welcome comments (including suggestions for research strategies or sources).

(This post first appeared on https://judy-webster.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/kitty-catherine-ashton-1-of-52-ancestors.html

05 September 2014

Ten Books

A friend challenged me to name ten books that have had an impact on my life. I didn't want to 'over-think' this, so here are some that quickly sprang to mind. (Yes, I know I have cheated by listing a trilogy as one item!)

Although I try to support local bookshops, sometimes it is both cheaper and more convenient to order a particular title via The Book Depository, whose excellent service includes free shipping worldwide. For out-of-print books, I search at Abe Books.
  1. Christy (Catherine Marshall)
  2. Mila 18 (Leon Uris)
  3. The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment (trilogy by Mary Stewart)
  4. Weevils in the Flour: an Oral Record of the 1930s Depression in Australia (Wendy Lowenstein)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  6. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
  7. On the Beach (Neville Shute)
  8. You Can Heal Your Life (Louise L. Hay)
  9. Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach)
  10. Professional Genealogy: a manual for researchers, writers, editors, lecturers and librarians (Elizabeth Shown Mills)
Number 10 is certainly not 'light reading', but it needs to be on this list because it changed the course of my life. If family history is your hobby, have a look at 'Suggested Reading (Genealogy and History)'.


17 November 2013

Rain Lilies

Eighteen weeks without any water... then just two days after rain, these beautiful lilies (Zephyranthes) burst into bloom! They are very low maintenance, and the bulbs multiply rapidly.

Rain lilies (Zephyranthes)
Rain lilies (Zephyranthes)

28 April 2013

Australian Meal Panel

The Australian Meal Panel (by DBY Research) has some interesting new questions this month. I have been taking part in this paid online survey for several years, and if you live in Australia, you can too. The money I earn is either donated to charity or used to buy certificates or wills for family history research.

About once a month you will receive an email inviting you to do a short survey about food, for which you will be paid. You can also earn extra money by sending in one week's supermarket receipts after each survey.

DBY Research is a consumer research group specialising in food and food retailing. They need people of all ages across Australia to tell them what foods they buy and what they eat. The information sought is not sensitive or private, and it is strictly confidential. By completing the survey, you help to establish important facts and trends about the eating habits of Australians.

To join, go to www.dbyresearch.com, and when asked for the 5-digit pin, enter 86127.

~ ~ ~

11 December 2012

Recipe for White Christmas

In a comment on Our Family Christmas - Then and Now, Donna asked, "What is White Christmas?" and I explained that it is a type of confectionery. This is the recipe I use, but there are many variations.

White Christmas

2 cups 'Rice Bubbles' cereal (overseas readers may know it as 'Rice Krispies')
1.5 cups mixed dried fruit including glace cherries
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup icing sugar
250gms white vegetable shortening ('Copha')
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Melt the shortening. Add vanilla. Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add melted shortening (not too hot) and mix till well combined. Press into a shallow tin and allow to set in refrigerator. Cut into squares.

10 December 2012

Our Family Christmas - Then and Now

My Christmas candle

In 'Family History Across the Seas', Pauleen invited us to take part in the 2012 Christmas GeneaMeme by describing how we celebrate Christmas in our part of the world. I will answer these questions from both a historical and a modern Australian perspective.
  1. Do you have any special Christmas traditions in your family?  The answers below cover most of them, apart from my father's pre-Christmas tradition, which I wrote about in GenFamilies. On Boxing Day we have a special family lunch with a large selection of cold meats and salads. The highlight is my sister Margaret's potato salad (the best I've ever tasted).

  2. Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Christmas Day?  No, because I have almost always been a long way from a town at Christmas. On one of the few occasions when we spent Christmas in Brisbane, we went to a midnight service. It was a small suburban Anglican church, but the incense was so overpowering that we felt quite ill.

  3. Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?  My sisters and I believed in Santa. We hung a pillow case at the foot of the bed, and we left a note saying that there was a snack in the fridge.

  4. Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?  No. It doesn't happen in the places where I've spent Christmas.

  5. What's your favourite Christmas music?  Michael Crawford's Christmas album.

  6. What's your favourite Christmas carol?  We Three Kings.

  7. Do you have a special Christmas movie/book you like to watch/read?  No, but if Carols from Kings College Cambridge is on TV I always watch that.

  8. Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?  With no children or nieces or nephews, it is not an issue. We give individual gifts (lots of small things rather than something expensive). Even the dog gets a Christmas present - usually a new toy to keep him occupied while we eat!

  9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?  Indoors at home, but we sometimes have drinks and nibbles outside at sundown, and occasionally a barbecue on the evening of Boxing Day.

  10. What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal?  Dad's mother was born in England and always cooked a traditional dinner, even in this hot climate, so we did the same. In the middle of the day we have roast chicken and roast vegetables - potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, onion, parsnip and beetroot (try it; it's good!) - with mushy peas and a slice of top quality leg ham. (Do other people have cold ham with a hot meal, or are we odd?!) Several hours later we tuck into plum pudding with or without icecream, custard, cream, and fresh homemade fruit salad.

  11. Do you have a special recipe you use for Christmas?  Yes, my mother's recipe for plum pudding. I will be making it this week. I need to chose a day with no risk of thunderstorms to cause a blackout!

  12. Does Christmas pudding feature on the Christmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?  The pudding is the highlight of our Christmas meals, so there is a lot of pressure on the cook! I use my mother's recipe. She was a domestic science teacher, and I recently found her rough notes from the first time she made the pudding, when she was experimenting with quantities.

  13. Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?  In recent years I have made Rum Balls or White Christmas. For a historical perspective, see question 16 below.

  14. Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?  I often bake ginger biscuits (Mum's recipe) for my sisters, and sometimes I print personalised calendars using my own photos, or bookmarks with paper that I made myself (a hobby that I rarely have time for now).

  15. Do you return to your family for Christmas or vice versa?  While my parents were alive, I always spent Christmas with them and at least one of my two sisters. Robyn missed a couple of family Christmases when she was nursing in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. We usually went to Mum and Dad (which, before 1990, meant our childhood home out in the bush). When we were kids we spent one Christmas at a motel in Brisbane, because Mum had just come out of hospital after major surgery. I was old enough to appreciate the effort Mum and Dad made to stick to our traditions even in that strange environment.

  16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?  Many things are still the same. We are older on the outside but just the same inside! But nowadays, with shops close by, some things are very different from my childhood. We grew up on a grazing property in outback Queensland, almost fifty miles (on unsealed roads) from town, so we had to be somewhat self-sufficient. Mum made the icecream and custard herself. Christmas dinner was a rooster we'd fattened, plus wild duck. Things that are commonplace now (such as mixed nuts) were a treat that we only had at Christmas.

  17. How do you celebrate Christmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Christmas outings? Drop-ins?  Maybe lunch or dinner a week or two before Christmas. Some of my friends are so busy (have we lost the plot?!) that it is easier to get together after Christmas when things feel a bit flat.

  18. Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?  No lights - just a candle in a festive lead-light holder (the photograph above).

  19. Is your neighbourhood a 'Christmas lights' tour venue?  Some houses in my suburb in Brisbane take part, but the numbers have decreased since a massive hail storm wiped them out a few years ago.

  20. Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?  Rarely, because we've usually been a long way from a town.

  21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)?  No.

  22. Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?  With family at one or other of our homes.

  23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?  No chance of that here in Queensland!

  24. Do you have a Christmas tree every year?  Yes, always (even the year we spent Christmas in a motel room). When we were kids, Dad took us to sandhills on a friend's property where we chose a small pine tree. Occasionally, if it was unbearably hot or if roads were boggy, we chose a different type of tree from closer to home.

  25. Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?  Always live, even if it is just a few small branches cut from a gum tree in the garden and bundled together. That's what it will be this year.

  26. Do you have special Christmas tree decorations?  Nothing elaborate or expensive - just lots of tinsel (red, green, silver, gold and blue) and coloured balls, and a star on top.

  27. Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?  There is no Thanksgiving in Australia - but writing this has reminded me of how much I have, so before Christmas I will make a special effort to share it with those less fortunate (via Kiva).
When I see my sisters I will ask whether they want to add a comment with their own special memories. I enjoying reading about other people's Christmas traditions (especially those in other parts of the world), so I hope you will write your own story and put a link to it here and on Family History Across the Seas.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
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