My family of interest at the moment is the GRAY family from Ayrshire, Scotland. I knew that James GRAY and his wife Helen (nee MARR), came to NZ in 1863, per ‘Arima’ with 9 daughters ad 4 sons. One of the daughters, Annie, married Thomas Gray SMITH, bootmaker, Mataura and became the common ancestor.
The 1861 census shows them all together in Inch, Wigtown, Ayr, and gave me their Christian names. But trying to find their marriages in NZ with such a common surname was not easy, and it wasn’t until I got Helen’s will that I had proof of who they all married.
Margaret m James Adair Lawrie RICHMOND 1864, Dunedin,
Agnes m David BLAIKIE 1854, Dunedin,
Helen m Alexander COCKBURN 1867, Invercargill,
Jane m William WILKINSON 1863, Invercargill,
Mary m William m William McLEOD 1867, Invercargill,
Janet m Matthew HENDERSON 1874,
John Marr m Jane CAMPBELL about 1871,
Robert m Annie SCRIMGEOUR 1883, Dunedin,
Sarah m Henry RAINES 1879, Invercargill,
Elizabeth m George Stewart McKAY 1877, Invercargill,
James drowned 1865, Invercargill,
William drowned 1865 Invercargill.
I set about putting together each family, and had gathered many wills, certificates etc which I decided to check cemetery records for James and Helen. Imagine my delight when I found a headstone erected by a granddaughter confirming the ship they came on. After searching for this granddaughter and contacting her I was sent a book detailing the family back to 1600’s. A work done as a thesis, it contains a huge amount of detail. A muscle workout just to lift it.
And the moral of the story? Start with local records first!
These are family stories from some of our members.