12 February 2009

Australia: Is there a numeral missing?

This story from Australia about a forensic investigator turned genealogist offers a peek at what a person can find if they are really persistent.

Ian Beckett has traced his family to the 1600s. What caught my eye, however, was that he "tracked his wife Barbara's family history to 495."

Is there a numeral missing? I wish the story had given more details about that part of his genealogical search.

After retiring as a forensic investigator, Ian Beckett developed an interest in genealogy, the study of lines of descent, and now helps people track down their family history.

The Castle Hill resident knows the history of his family as far back as the 1600s and tracked his wife Barbara's family history to 495.

For the last year he has been volunteering as a living book, part of the Hills Living Library program where "living books'' share their story with an audience and answer questions.

"People normally ask me to help them with their family history, some just want to talk about what I do and others have had a go at researching their own family tree and just want me to look at it,'' Mr Beckett said.

"The internet can give people an idea of how to start if they have an interest in genealogy, but because of my investigative background, I can think outside the box.''

Readers in NSW can hear Beckett and others share their stories in Baulkham Hills at 12.30pm, Tuesday, February 17.


  1. I certainly hope the "1" is missing! The number of people who insist they can trace back to antiquity (without documentation) is one that bothers me particularly. One lady insisted that she could trace her line back to the pharaoh Amenhotep III almost four thousand years ago. I was an Egyptologist before becoming a genealogist, so I was able to explain to her why this couldn't be possible. She remained unconvinced.

  2. Jewish genealogists love the stories of someone's "guaranteed, proven" descent from Rashi (via a son, which he didn't have!)!