About the family historian

Like many others, I have come to family history late in life. I do not recall when I first learned that other children had two sets of grandparents; but that encapsulates my early experiences of ancestry. There is much time to be made up.

I have always been an avid reader and a writer. Throughout a diverse career as a teacher, curriculum developer, policy officer and public service administrator; the effective use of the written word was central to how I judged my performance.

Among my most intense memories are the thrill of first opening a published work and of holding a new-born child. What could be more appropriate than writing about family!

About my philosophy

One of the perpetual conversations in family history is that of "how many trees". It is not uncommon to see cases where one author maintains several (apparently independent) family lines.That is not the case on Ancestor Envy. I have chosen to write from the reference point of my children. This unites my ancestors and those of my wife in "our family".

The terms used to refer to particular people carry implications (whether intended or not). When I write about my mother as our grandmother, that is particularly appropriate because she did enjoy being Nanna. On the other hand, there is a strong disincentive to write about myself, since even I feel uncomfortable about the use of our father!

About our family

We are Australians. To the best of my knowledge, we have no direct ancestral connection to Indigenous Australians. Each of our family lines came to this country from Europe by ship.

Our roots in the old world are distributed across England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. We have no identified links to inherited wealth or acquired power.

Some members of the family arrived in what is now the State of Queensland before its separation from the original colony of New South Wales in 1859. Others disembarked as recently as 1928.

Our ancestors include agricultural labourers, mill workers, miners, tradesmen and factory hands. The first to graduate from a university did so in the 1960s.

There are no records to suggest that religion or politics played a significant part in the lives of most of our ancestors. Although there are a few individuals whose activities stand out.

Ancestor Envy sets out to chronicle my exploration of the amazingly diverse personal histories of the extraordinary individuals who make up an an ordinary Australian family.

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