Essays

This is where you can find free-standing articles. Some are published and some are university essays. There are links to them from relevant places.


James Byrne: the Blue Mountains Guide

In May 1813, Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson crossed the Blue Mountains with servants and dogs, guided by an emancipist whose name sounded like “James Byrne”. Who was he? See the Ancestry tree with full details. Or read my article:
Anthea Fraser Gupta, 2022,”James Byrne, the Blue Mountains Guide”, Traces 20, 36-38. (Read preprint copy and see the other suggestions made for who the guide was).

Tinted etching showing fields, an Aboriginal group in the foreground, and simple houses in the background.
South west view of Parramatta in New South Wales
1814 UNKNOWN (etcher)
John EYRE (draughtsman)

Stradishall to North Ormesby

Around 1870, the teenage George Bowyer left rural Stradishall in Suffolk, for industrial North Ormesby, in Yorkshire. Look at this graphic presentation to see what he thought of the two places. Or read this article about the many migrants from Stradishall to North Ormesby.

A man and a woman sit at a table and both look directly at the camera. The woman appears younger. She has dark hair and has a slight smile. Her hands are knotty. The man has plentiful grey hair and sharp features. His left hand rests on a book. Their elbows touch.
George Bowyer and Hannah Davies, c 1910

The “shameful” past

William Fraser did not pass on accurate stories about his origins to his descendants. Read this article to find out what he was ashamed of.

Image of ribbon 20 cm x 5.5 cm. In Loving Memory of James Fraser. Described in text.
The Memorial Ribbon

The wise choices of Hannah Napier

Hannah was born Hannah Napier, but by 1861 was using the surname Dryden. When she married Thomas Davies in 1862, she named her father as Thomas Dryden, schoolmaster. Read about the many changes in her long life.

15 people in formal Edwardian dress in front of drapery. 7 men with moustaches standing at back. Seated on chairs in front of them, an older couple, the man with beard and moustache. Two young women sitting on each side. Two more young women seated on floor, one resting her hand on the older woman's knee, the other leaning on the older man.
Hannah with her husband and children
(and some children-in-law), 1899

A WWI soldier — of sorts

James Coates is my first cousin twice removed AND my second cousin twice removed. I don’t know of a single direct ancestors who served in the military. James signed up to fight in the First World War — three times. He also deserted three times and never left England. Read my fully references essay on him.

Character reference of James Shields -- very bad. Quoted in essay.
Character reference on discharge, 6 July 1915

James and Albert: the reckoning

James William Shields is represented in my tree by an old whisky bottle. He was skilled at working with glass, but this story explains the main reason for my choice. It also explains why there seem to never have been any photographs of him.

A boy stands next to a table on which are displayed three large trophies, two plaques and a cruet
Albert Shields with his swimming prizes

A change of surname

Hugh Devine is a colourful character, who changed the family name to Shields in order to avoid justice. Family tradition is that he murdered someone. I was told he was born in Ireland, but in his census answers he says he was born in Scotland. Read about the evidence.

Reproduction of an old handwritten ledger, showing the occupation in the gutter: " k  Maker". Described in text.
Occupation in the gutter of the book: [bric]k Maker?

Class Mobility in Wombourne

All the Blewitts in the village of Wombourne, in Staffordshire, are descended from one couple: Thomas Blewitt and Mary Piggot, who married in 1740. Some of their descendants rose up the social ladder and others (including mine) didn’t. Read the article I published in in Wombourne History Group Newsletter in 2020.

Picture of rows of old stones in a chiurchyard. Part of the church visible in the background.
The Blewitt burial plot