This week marks 150 years of the London Underground. The first underground journey took place between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan Railway on 9th January 1863.
We found this old postcard of Piccadilly Station in our UK and Ireland Historical Postcards collection which is free to search online.
Happy birthday to Elvis Presley, born on this day, 8 January, in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Here he is on the 1940 US Census with parents Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love, aged 5.
Elvis went on to become one of the most popular musicians of the 20th century.
Elvis died in 1977, aged 42.
On this day, 8 January, in 1889, Louisa Collins was hanged in Darlinghurst Gaol, the last woman to be hanged in NSW. Dubbed as “Lucretia Borgia of Botany”, Lucia poisoned her two husbands and son with rat poison.
Here she is in the NSW, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930. Her height has been recorded as 5 foot 3 1/2 inches, with black hair and brown eyes.
Under the execution date, it is noted that His Honor the Chief Justice Darley said “I hold out a hope of mercy for you on earth”.
You may remember this time last year, we came across Santa Claus in the 1930 U.S. Census alongside his wife Mabel and 6 children.
This year, we have found Mary Christmas. A number of them in fact.
There is Mary Christmas, aged 39, on the NSW, Assisted Immigrant Passenger List, 1828-1896 with her husband Robert and 4 children including another Mary.
Then there is Mary Christmas, aged 59, from Hawthorn in Victoria who is listed in the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903. Her occupation is shown as ‘home duties’ and she is living with Samuel Frederick Christmas, presumably her husband.
And it’s not just in Australia. Mary Christmas from Utah is shown on the 1940 U.S. Census. Kent born Mary Christmas can be found in the England and Wales, Birth Index in 1920 and Mary Christmas from Islington is included in the London Electoral Registers, 1832-1965.
Any seasonal names in your family tree? Let us know on our Facebook Wall.
Sidney Reilly, the secret agent widely believed to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s legendary character James Bond, has been uncovered in one of our collections.
The record (shown above) was found in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 collection, which details the medal entitlement of more than 4.8 million WWI soldiers. It reveals that Reilly’s Military Cross was issued for service in the Royal Flying Corps.
Sidney Reilly, known as the ‘Ace of Spies’, was an agent for Scotland Yard’s Special Branch who in 1918 joined Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the first director of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), as an operative for MI1 (a predecessor to MI6). His friend Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart knew Ian Fleming for many years and told him of Reilly’s espionage exploits. Later Fleming allegedly mentioned to a colleague at The Sunday Times that he had created Bond after hearing about Reilly.
In typical secret-agent fashion, much of Reilly’s life is shrouded in mystery. It is alleged that he worked undercover and stole revolutionary aircraft engine parts and weapon plans from the Germans before the First World War even began. He was then dispatched on counter-Bolshevik operations in Germany and Russia during the conflict itself.
Reilly’s medal was awarded for his “distinguished services rendered in connection with military operations in the field”, which are said to have included parachuting behind enemy lines and disguising himself as a German officer in order to obtain undercover information.
His record is one of thousands of medal cards online, revealing the medals awarded to each First World War soldier. In addition, more than 50,000 of these cards also list details of covert operations undertaken or letters from next of kin on their reverse side, meaning thousands of people today can track down find the spy in their own family.
Ancestry.com.au’s researchers have also found another interesting James Bond-related fact; Daniel Craig is actually the half 19th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, his on-screen partner in crime during the acclaimed opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Brad Argent, Ancestry.com.au Content Director for Australia and New Zealand, comments: “James Bond himself would have been proud of this discovery – uncovering the ‘real’ James Bond among the millions of World War I records online. The information contained on thousands of the medal cards available at Ancestry can help anyone find the ‘Bond’ in their own family tree.”
As a nation of immigrants, most of our families have come from somewhere else. How many nationalities make up who you are? We’re keen to find stories of members with mixed ancestry showing the rich tapestry of nationalities that make up Australia and New Zealand.
If you have an interesting mix of ancestry and would like to share your story, we want to hear from you! Simply Submit Your Story and remember to add a photo of your ancestor if you have one.
On this day, 24 July 1900, Sir Neville Reginald Howse (pictured above) became the first soldier in Australian services to be awarded a Victoria Cross medal - Britain’s highest award for valour “in the face of the enemy”.
Born in Somerset, England, in 1863, Howse studied medicine in London before migrating to Australia. He served in the Second Boer War with the NSW Army Medical Corps.
On 24 July 1900, under heavy cross-fire he went to rescue a fallen trumpeter. When his horse was shot beneath him, he continued on foot and on reaching the casualty, dressed his wound and carried him to safety.
Howse died in September 1930, aged 66.
You can have a look at the names, gravesites and other details for the recipients of the Victoria Cross in our UK, Victoria Cross Medals, 1857 - 2007 collection.
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on this day, 21 July in 1899 in Chicago, USA, to Clarence Edmond and Grace Hall Hemingway.
After high school, Hemingway left for the Italian front, enlisting with the World War 1 ambulance drivers. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. He is shown in the 1920 US Census above, with his occupation was listed as “none”.
Hemingway went on to marry 4 times, published 7 novels and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He died in July 1961, aged 61.
Captain Matthew Flinders died on this day, 19th July, in 1814.
Born in England in 1774, Flinders was the first explorer to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent.
He is shown above in the NSW, Colonial Secretary’s Papers in 1798 on a list of grants and leases of land registered in the Colonial Secretary’s Office.
On his return to England in 1803, Flinders was held captive in Mauritius for 6 years. It was during this time that he started his famous book and atlas, A Voyage to Terra Australis.
There are numerous places in Australia that have been named after Matthew Flinders – the most famous being Flinders Island in Bass Strait.