See my blog: antheafg.wordpress.com
None of my ancestors were rich or distinguished though some (especially Bowyers and Clubleys) were
respectable English landless peasants. My father's family included Border Tinkers. I married a man
whose ancestors include rajahs. Our daughter married a man related to Lachlan Macquarie. So a wide range.
The study began with memories collected by Anthea Fraser Shields from Frances White, Julia
Bowyer, Joyce Fraser, Albert Shields and Avijit Gupta. Some additional material from earlier
periods came from genealogical work by Antony Bowyer (son of Gordon, the eldest son of Emily
Bowyer, who was a sister of Julia Bowyer), and I am still collaborating with him on our shared
ancestry. I have also collaborated with Douglas Fraser, a second cousin.
Later work was done on the internet, using census material (, now on Ancestry.com) and material from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints’ site ().
I have also been grateful for cooperation from various distant cousins and their friends (Bowyer,
Clubley, Fraser, Shields and White) and even one very helpful person who turned out not to be a
cousin -- we were both down the same false trail.There has been a lot of genealogy done on the Camerons in Australia.
I have done a lot of work recently on my father's ancestors, and especially the tangled web of
cousin marriages involving the names Shields, Blewitt, Edwards, and Fo(r)ster. When you look up
Shields, Foster, Blewitt and Royal, remember that from 1870s-1920, many of them were living very
close to each other in either Jarrow or Darlington. We must assume they knew each other.
There are a number of discrepancies between the sources, some of which are noted in footnotes.
The first member of the Bowyer family to be literate in recent centuries (after their fall down the social ladder in the 1600s) seems to have been George Bowyer (b.1854), who "taught himself" to read and write as an adult. Some of the errors of names are likely to have resulted from illiteracy (e.g. Fraiser), and others arose even from literate people because of the transcription of names supplied orally (such as Jane Clubley’s place of birth, and the spelling of the surname as ‘Clubly’ in both censuses, and as Clubbley on Albert Fraser's birth certificate).
Even in recent years, spellings were not fixed, as in the two spellings of Pace/Pase, and the
spelling of Leonard/Lennard Bowyer's first name.
Census enumerators completed the early censuses and they were not familiar with the names of remote and small villages. 'North Sunderland', for example, is a village near Bamburgh in Northumberland, not the same place as the much better known Sunderland in County Durham. This birthplace of the Edwards sisters (both of whom I am descended from) gave a lot of trouble to census enumerators.
Modern transliterators have made new errors. When I come across these, I send in a correction, but
there have been some bizarre misreadings over time. The name 'Dryden' is another one that has many alternative spellings, and also gives rise to errors of transcription. I originally decided to index by the name at birth when available, but more recently I have decided to index by the most common later name and note spelling variants in the comments.
Census material usually (but not always) records only the first name, which is not necessarily the
name by which a person was known. Dates of birth are in some case attested from birth or
christening records, but in some cases are extrapolated from census returns, so may be one or two
years in error. This is usually noted, though I have become more careful as time has goine on and there may be some oversights. The source is not noted for earlier research, but for most recent work I do indicate the source. I am trying to correct all my earlier sloppiness. Dates of birth marked as 'Calc' are usually those calculated from the censuses.
The Bowyer family are thoroughly documented back to the 16th century especially through the work
of Brent Bowyer in Canada, who has published a full two volume history.This is an impressive piece of work, now in a second edition, though there are (inevitably) some errors and some speculation.
A story was passed down to me that a Bowyer ancestor, Thomas Bowyer, was executed by Mary Tudor for being a Protestant at the wrong time, and that his story is in Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Brent has not documented this. There was such a martyr with the right name and in the right kind of social class, Thomas Bowyer of Great Dunmow. He was not an ancestor, however, though he was quite likely a relative, as he seems to have been young and unmarried.
My living ancestors at the time of the martyred Thomas were in comfortable circumstances and left property in their wills. However, another Thomas Bowyer from whom I am descended, was an ardent Protestant a century later, when he was one of the people to make allegations against the rector of Stradishall, William Proctor, in 1644. Proctor was a bit high for 1644 and was also accused of bad behaviour of various kinds. Protestantism was a factor in the Bowyer family for several centuries.
The Stradishall Bowyers were once more prosperous than they were by the 19th century when they started fanning out across England and the world.
There is also a thorough tracing of the Clubleys by a descendant who has a website on this
facility. The Bowyers were peasants based in Suffolk, seldom far from their Stradishall base, who
married in church and then, about 7 months later, baptised their first child in church. The
Clubleys similarly were based not far from their Hunmanby origins, marrying and baptising within a
small area of coastal East Yorkshire.
Others of my ancestors are much harder to trace, either because of common names (it took me a long time to crack "Davies") or because of falling from the net of respectability. The Shields family are descended from a man who changed the family name from "Devine" to Shields in the 1850s. I always knew about the change of name and was happy when genealogy proved it. My grandmother said that the family were were "Tinkers" but I have not yet found support from that except in the jobs taken by Hugh Devine.
There is some mystery about the Frasers: William (aka James) Fraser gave different answers to the birthplace question in successive censuses, though work by another of his descendants suggests that he simply might not have known where he was born until the early twentieth century -- he got it right in 1911.
Hannah Pollock led an complex life involving several name changes for herself and for some
of her illegitimate children.
More helpfully, George Bowyer gave his children long names that included many of the surnames
of ‘rich’ relatives, in the hope that they would lead to inheritances (none did). Some of them
embody names that must be of his relatives. I memorised these names as a child but never saw them
written down so I was not necessarily sure how to spell them.These names have turned out to be very useful indeed and I have identified the source of most of them.
Take a look at the map attached to Joyce Fraser and to Albert Shields (my parents). It shows the
sources of my DNA and identifies the key migrants, whose movement towards the north east was
responsible for me being born in Middlesbrough.
My mtDNA is as follows:
HVR1 Mutations: A16129G, T16187C, C16189T, T16223C, G16230A, T16278C, C16311T
HVR1 Mutations: G73A, C146T, C152T, C195T, A247G, 522.1A, 522.2C, 315.1
A cousin has done the Y chromosome for the Fraser male line. It is R-M222 (R-BY11697) the haplogroup that
appears to have originated in Ireland at around the time of Niall of the Nine Hostages. This makes
sense for a Fraser ancestry. The precise mutation is a recent one, probably around 300 years ago: M222>S658>DF104>DF105>A223>BY3339>BY11694>BY11696>BY11697+. At this point we know of only one person with whom it is shared: a McConnnell descendant. Here it is on Big Tree: https://www.ytree.net/DisplayTree.php?blockID=1957.