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Family tree, family history, tracing your roots, or whatever you call it, has to be the favourite hobby of retired folks. There are even television shows and print magazines dedicated to it.


I have been at this hobby for a long time. Most years anyway. One of the things I like about it is that you can take time off from it and then pick right up where you left off. It is just like a detective story: search old records for clues, put the pieces together, and combine it all with history and you have the beginnings of understanding where you came from.

It can be expensive; but I’m careful  and only spend a few hundred dollars per year in fees and memberships. Companies such as Ancestry, Genes Reunited, and Family Tree Maker all make a healthy profit from folks like me.

There are 11,678 people in my paternal tree, 7,257 people in my maternal tree and 1,595 people in Tess’ tree. That’s over 20,000 people, give or take as there is a little overlap.

I don’t record anyone more distant than 5th cousins and am considering paring that back to 3rd cousins if the files get too big.

There are over 52,000 individual files and documents, That’s 360GB of data. The trees are too big to post here on my website but you can see them for free on Ancestry. Just ask.

The software I use is Family Tree Maker 2019 (FTM) and I have been using it for many years. Even with a reasonably fast computer (Intel Core 7, 16GB RAM, Solid State Hard Drive), I found I had to split my tree into two plus another tree for Tess’ side.

Want to explore my trees? Sure! Send me an email and I’ll give you free access on Ancestry to whichever ones interest you - mine or Tess’. Or both!

Our Ancestors

So, who were our ancestors? Mostly they were ordinary folks like most of us today. Many of the jobs or trades they performed no longer exist - there are no feodaries, alchemists or silk crape makers today.

Others had jobs we still see today: farmers, carpenters, and merchants. There weren't many black sheep. A few had troubles such as unwed motherhood, bigamy, financial disaster or an excessive fondness for alcohol but happily, I found no axe murders or the like. So far.

Tess’ family tree is very challenging because very few records in the Philippines are available on-line. I think her last name may be unique too, although there are two spellings: Nartatez and Nartates. Eventually I hope to tie them all together.

In particular, I still am looking for proof of the relationship between Tess’ great grandfather Candido Nartatez born 1841 in Santa(?) and Antonio Nartatez born 1841 in Narvacan and Pedro Nartatez born 1845 in Santa. Help!

I plan to get back at this tree in 2025.

I did find a couple of murder victims, a spy, several explorars, lots of church ministers, and even an honest to goodness Saint or two!

My roots are in England and Scotland although the farther back I go, the more European countries are involved. Tess’ roots are in the Philippines.

Sometimes I have been lucky. For example, I am descended from someone named Alabaster and that is a unique name. That is, all people with that last name are members of the same family - mine. There are thousands of Alabasters around the world, all of them related to me

Since I have found something over 20,000 family members, it stands to reason that at least a few of them would have lead more interesting lives then you or me. I’ll try to highlight a one or two each update with the newest at the top. Let me know what you think!

December, 2023

My 1st Cousin, 2x removed Lionel Beevor Potts was born 31 May 1894 in Nanaimo, British Columbia. This is a beautiful small city on the east coast of Vancouver Island and where Tess and I used to snowbird (spending winter in our RV anyplace warmer than home). He went to high school from 1908 to 1911 in Victoria, BC at University School where, coincidentally, I went for a semester in 1969. Afterwards he went to University in Quebec and received his law degree after a pause for World War I.

In September, 1914 at age 20, while still a law student, Lionel joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force (Army) 7th Battalion Cdn Infantry as a Private. He was transferred to the 88th Reg’t Victoria Fusiliers. Lionel was tall and slim at just under 6’ and 155 lbs. His potential was quickly recognized and in January, 1915 he received a Commission in the British Imperial Army Air Ministry. Later that year he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry: “near Hulluch on 13th October, 1915. When in charge of a party of Grenadiers he personally brought up three boxes of bombs under heavy fire. Later he attempted to bring in a wounded man, carrying him 150 yards to within three yards of his trench, when the man was shot dead. He performed this act while the enemy were firing on the wounded.” Lionel was also awarded the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

In 1920 Lionel changed his name from Potts to Beevor-Potts. He completed his law education and joined his father in practice at Mont & Walker Law Corporation in 1922. The firm, begun by Lionel’s father Magistrate C. H. Beevor-Potts prior to 1920, was handed over to his son, Lionel and then acquired by Douglas M. Greer in 1955.

The Canadian Military once again saw the services of Lionel in 1939 and then on 9 Jan 1942 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at Western Air Command. His selflessness for his fellow servicemen was again shown in 1944 when “This officer showed complete disregard for his personal safety in directing a rescue party which saved the lives of eight of the occupants of a large transport aircraft that crashed in British Columbia recently. Six other persons were killed in the crash. The rescue was conducted despite the fact that the aircraft was burning fiercely and pyrotechnics were exploding. The aircraft lay in a wooded area, which had windfalls up to fifteen feet in height, and there was little chance of escape in the event of gasoline tanks exploding, which occurred shortly after the rescue. Flight Lieutenant Beever-Potts daringly inspected the passenger compartment and directed the rescue work within a few feet of the aircraft. This officer's outstanding leadership and heroism inspired all those who participated in the rescue.”

Of the 14 passengers aboard the above aircraft at the time of the crash, six were killed and eight survived. As a result, he was awarded the George Medal and earned the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

After the war Lionel was a Magistrate in Nanaimo until his retirement in 1965. After a one year vacation, he and Helen spent their golden years in Osoyoos, BC until his death in 1967.

October, 2023

Captain Victor William Harrison was born in 1895 to Will and Annie Harrison in Middlesex, England. When World War I broke out he was a typist at Messrs Graham & Co, in London.

He enlisted in the British Army Royal Fusiliers in 1914. It appears he caught the aviation bug because in 1915 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

By November, 1915 he had qualified on a Maurice Farman biplane and in July 1916 was assigned to the 25th Squadron posted in France. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1917 then to Captain in 1918. He had a total of 10 kills against enemy aircraft - a double ‘Ace’. He was discharged from the RFC in 1918 due to injuries received in a crash.

Received letter acknowledging excellent work from Major Trenchard, British Expiditionary Force. Trenchard went on to be the father of the RAF - Air Chief Marshal Lord Trenchard.

Later that year, on 1 Sept 1918 Victor drowned in the River Yare at Buckingham Ferry, Norwich, England.

From the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich's newspaper, Tuesday 3rd September 1918:



A distressing boating accident took place on Sunday evening on the River Yare a short distance beyond Buckenham Ferry. A dinghy which was being sailed by Captain V.W. Harrison, late of the RFC, and Mr. Tom Ketley, aged 16, son of Mr. F.W. Ketley of Norwich, was capsized by a gust of wind, and the occupants thrown into the water. They retained a hold of the side of the craft for a brief while and then decided to swim for the bank. Both struck out, and as the lad Ketley reached the shore he turned to look for Captain Harrison and noticed him fighting against the tide. As soon as he was out of the water, the lad, though not physically strong, stripped with a view to going to the rescue of the captain, but the latter suddenly disappeared from sight. Ketley then sprinted a distance of about-half a mile to the Ferry Inn for assistance. All efforts, however, to find the body failed. The private address of Captain Harrison was 7 The Esplanade, Worthing, and he had lately been staying with Mr. and Mrs. Ketley.

The later press report on the inquest on 11th September amplifies the above at length and reveals that Victor's last words in the water to the 16 year old in fact named Eric, were "I am sorry, old chap". His body was recovered down river on Monday morning, 2nd September. It was stated at the inquest that Victor had been discharged from the Army (in fact the Royal Flying Corps) with a head wound and was in Norwich, lodging in Lime Tree Road, attending a technical course organized by the Ministry of Labour. Worthing was given as his permanent address.

Very possibly the head wound contributed to his swimming difficulty. The Ketley's house in Lime Tree Road, an Edwardian villa named The Croft, still stands.

May 2023

This distinguished looking gentleman is Lt-Col Andrew William Playfair Sr. He is my 2nd cousin and was born in Paris, France in 1790. He died at Playfair, Ontario, Canada on 1 Sep 1868, aged 78. He was a distinguished soldier, writer, and Empire-builder.

He was the son of William Playfair, the eminent author and inventor who invented three fundamental forms of the statistical graph: the time-series line graph, the bar chart and the pie chart. He was also a prolific author of political economy writing in both English and French.

Lt.-Col. Andrew Playfair was educated in Edinburgh under the supervision of his uncle, Professor John Playfair, and in 1806 joined the Volunteers defending England during the Napoleonic Wars. Playfair became an ensign with the 32nd Regiment and in 1810 received a commission in the 104th Regiment after inventing a firearm which was greatly admired by the Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of York."

In 1812, at the age of 23, Playfair left the United Kingdom for active duty in the Canadas (Upper and Lower) during the War of 1812-1814, arriving at Saint John, New Brunswick, early in 1813, as a First Lieutenant with the 104th New Brunswick Regiment of Foot.

On February 16th, 1813, the 104th New Brunswick Regiment of Foot was ordered to march to Quebec City, due to a "threat of an early American offensive." Approximately 575 soldiers and officers, departed from Fredericton, New Brunswick, on a 55 day overland journey of about 1,200 kms to Kingston, Ontario. During the winter of 1813, the 104th made one of the most epic marches "unparalleled in the annals of British and Commonwealth military history" following the approximated route: Fredericton to Presqu'Ile Military Post, to Fort Carleton (Grand Falls); onto Cabano and the Grand Portage to Riviere-des-Caps; across the St. Lawrence to Quebec City, staying for almost two weeks before ordered to Montreal (Lachine) and Kingston.

They "marched on the rivers and lakes, the country being in a state of nature" along the St. John and St. Lawrence Rivers. According to Playfair, they walked single file on snowshoes, with toboggans to carry their provisions, through one of the coldest and snowiest winters enduring near -30 C temperatures. The 104th “set out on snow-shoes, without a track, or mark on a tree, for a march of some hundred miles, with from four to six feet of snow under their feet, a dense forest in front, and naught but the canopy of Heaven over their heads." Most nights they had to build their own shelters from boughs of branches after walking over 20 kilometres each day. "Their only barrier against the cold was a fire and a threadbare woolen blanket."

Playfair and the 104th arrived in Kingston, Upper Canada (Ontario) around April 12th, 1813, hungry, sick, and frostbitten with at least one man dying along the way. In May 1813, they fought the Americans at Sacket's Harbor (New York), which suffered many casualties "with 21 killed and 65 wounded." The 104th travelled by boat to the Niagara Frontier.

On June 24, 1813, Playfair, an officer with the Grenadier and Light companies of the 104th Regiment of Foot, was present for the surrender of 500 Americans at Beaver Dams on the Niagara Frontier, after the British were warned by Laura Secord of a surprise attack.

According to Playfair in writing about the American surrender at Beaver Dams (as cited by Hugh Playfair): " had fourteen officers and 150 men given to my charge, which afforded me the gratifying duty of standing between the uplifted tomahawk of the infuriated savage with his trophied scalps reeking with gore, and the disarmed prisoners of war. We may admire, but none can fully appreciate to its utmost extent without experience, the sentiment of the immortal Nelson (referring to Vice Admiral Lord Nelson). The moment a man becomes a prisoner, "I become his protector"." The 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot "was disbanded in 1817 at Montreal on 24 May 1817."

Playfair became a major in the 2nd Battalion, the Lanark and Carleton Militia. He volunteered for service at the Front during the Rebellion of 1837, but his service was not required. Soon after he became Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the Lanark Rifles, an office he held until his death. He wrote a number of articles on military matters for the Atlantic Monthly.

"Suggestions on the Defence of Canadas and the Most Economical Principals of Blood and Treasure",

"A Letter from a Volunteer of 1806 to Volunteers of 1860",

"The Defence of England, Her Weakness and Strength",

"Suggestions on the Defence of Canada by the Formation of Flank Companies from the Sedentary Militia",

"A Comparison between the March of the Light Infantry of 1857 and that of the 104th Regiment in 1813 from New Brunswick to Quebec", and

"The Desirability of Rifling the Guns".

For his military service, he eventually received a total of 900 acres of land in adjacent Dalhousie and Bathurst Townships establishing Playfairville, Ontario. He built saw, grist and carding mills and raised his nine children.

Throughout the 1850s to 1860s, he was prominent in local and national affairs. For many years Playfair was a Magistrate, and in 1857 was elected a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the South Riding of Lanark, which position he held for four years.

Lt. Col. Andrew Playfair died at Playfairville, Ontario on September 1, 1868.

February 2023

As I mentioned above, Alabaster, as a family name, is unique. That is, everyone with the last name Alabaster, or its previous version Arblaster, is related. My maternal great grandmother was Clara Rose Alabaster (1881-1969) making them all part of my family.

Capt. Daniel Alabaster Jr was born 29 Jul 1833 in Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. He is my 1st cousin, 4x removed. Our common ancestors are my 4x (gt gt gt gt) great grandparents, Robert Alabaster and Mary Ann West.

In 1848 Daniel enlisted in the British Merchant Navy. In 1852 he moved to New Zealand, still working on the water. By 1860 Daniel had progressed to Captain.

Daniel is credited with the discovery (at least by a European) of what is now named Lake Alabaster.

From Wikipedia: Lake Alabaster, also known by the Maori name of Waiwahuika, lies at the northern end of Fiordland, in the southwest of New Zealand's South Island. The lake runs from northeast to southwest, is six kilometres in length, and covers 7 km².

Lake Alabaster drains, and is drained by, the Pyke River, a small tributary of the Hollyford River. It is one of two lakes (along with Lake McKerrow) found in the lower reaches of the Hollyford River system. A branch of the Hollyford Track, one of New Zealand's most well-known and popular tramping tracks, extends along the eastern shore of the lake.

He also discovered a natural Oyster Bed in Cloudy Bay, in the South Island of New Zealand, lying between a line drawn from Cape Campbell to Wellington Head at Tory Channel and the beach. It is now called the Stewart Island Oyster Beds.

He stayed closer to his new home after 1871 and became the ferryman and innkeeper at Brunnerton, New Zealand. A few years later in 1888, the Wellington, NZ Patent Office issued patent No. 2572 for a specification for an invention for spring and rubber drop fire escape. I wonder if something happened at the inn to cause this?

There is a story about Daniel discovering gold on the West Coast in about 1862, two years before the 1864-1867 gold rush.

Daniel had 3 sons and a daughter with his first wife, Isabella Murray Fenwick and a son with his second wife, Frederick William Fish. They all lived out their lives in New Zealand.

December 2022

Norman E Harrison was born 15 Sep 1873 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. He is my 2nd cousin. Our common ancestor is my 4x gt grandfather, Swainston Harrison.

He served his apprenticeship in the Turning, Fitting & Drawing office of Messrs Higginson & Co., Hurst Street, Liverpool between 1889 to 1894. After completing his apprenticeship he joined the line of Messrs Elder Dempster & Co., as a 4th engineer. He later rose to become 3rd and finally 2nd engineer.

He left the Elder Dempster Line about 1896 when, at the age of 23, he gained his Chief Engineer’s Certificate of Competency. He joined the White Star line as 3rd Engineer aboard the Delphic; he subsequently served on the RMS Athenic (3rd engineer), RMS Corinthic (2nd engineer) and RMS Adriatic (2nd engineer).

In 1907 he married Mary Clare Magee and they lived in Liverpool but had no children. On 17 November 1911 Norman was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Norman initially joined the RMS Titanic in Belfast, signing-on on 2 April 1912. When he signed-on again in Southampton on 6 April 1912, he gave his local address as 30 Coventry Rd., (Southampton). As Junior second engineer he received monthly wages of £18.

As we all know, on 15 Apr 1912 the RMS Titanic struck and iceburg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank. Being an engineer and stationed below decks, Norman’s body was never recovered. I like to think he remained at his station keeping the lights on the the pumps working in a futile effort to save the ship.

The Hampshire Independent newspaper obituary publlished Saturday 17 April 1915 reads:

In most loving memory of Norman Harrison, second engineer of the SS Titanic, who laid down his life in the fulfilment of his duty when that vessel foundered off the coast of Newfoundland, on the morning on Monday, April 15th, 1912. ''Fidelis usque ad mortem.'' ''Steel true and blade straight, the Great Artificer made my mate''.

His widow received a pension of £7 13 2d

In addition to his empty grave in Liverpool, Norman is remembered via:

From the Liverpool Echo newspaper 24 July 2004:


FOR decades, the grave of Titanic victim Norman Harrison has lain forgotten.

The occasional Titanic buff, or well-wisher, would visit the final resting place of the tragic second engineer who perished on the world's most famous shipping disaster in 1912. But now Norman's memory is to be kept alive after distant relatives of the merchant seaman.

Carol Lennon, of Mossley Hill, remembers being told stories as a child about her famous great-great uncle, whose body was washed up on the shores of Newfoundland, but she had no idea he had a grave at St John the Evangelist church.

The Lennon family visited the grave for the first time on Sunday to pay their respects. Now they will continue to tend the overgrown [grave].

[She] said of a part that has not been kept trimmed.

Mrs Lennon said: “I knew about Norman but didn't know about the grave until I spotted it in the ECHO and his name rung a bell. From quite a young age I was told about one of my relatives who had died on the Titanic. We didn't know much more than that because it was so far back. We always assumed he had been lost at sea. I think it is lovely that we have found him. It was nice to see the grave and slightly moving. My 13-year-old twin sons, Tom and Chris, were quite pleased to find him and intrigued. My husband Mike has always been interested in the Titanic connection. It will be nice to bring a wreath and lay it at Christmas. It is like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle has been completed. ''

The Lennon family, including their 14-year-old daughter Kathleen, hope to return to the churchyard regularly.

Norman was a married, but childless, 38-year-old when he died.

The Merchant Navy Association have visited the site to lay a wreath for one of their own.

Norman's closest living relative is his 93-year-old niece Margaret Christian, of Netherley.

She was a year old when he perished but remembers stories about him. She added: "I remember meeting Norman's wife once. I remember her telling me about the time Norman held me in the crook of his arm when I was just a tiny baby.

"This was just before he left for his trip on the Titanic. They chose their best staff for that voyage and lost most of them. ''

From Liverpool Echo newspaper 15 April 2002:

AFTER the collision, the one thing Titanic needed above all else was time. This could only be bought at the cost of sacrificing the entire engineering department.

Within ten minutes of the collision, under the leadership of Chief Engineer Joseph Bell, the 16 Titanic engineers and their teams had rigged the pumps that prolonged the life of Titanic by more than an hour.

They supervised the damping down of the boilers to prevent an explosion and - crucially - they preserved the slowly failing power supply by shutting down a host of useless ancillary services.

Through their efforts, the Titanic had light and wireless capability to the end. Because of their sacrifice - not one of the 16 engineers was saved - Phillips in the wireless room was able to summon help from the Carpathia.

These men were ultimately responsible for preserving the lives of every one of the 705 survivors.

The engineering team was composed mainly of Liverpool and Southampton men.

The Liverpool men who died were:

A memorial on the Pier Head commemorates the matchless bravery of these incredible men


RMS Titanic Engine Department Watch Assignments

Norman worked 4am - 8am and again from 4pm - 8pm

The ship struck the iceberg at 11:40pm so Norman was not on duty.


If you want more information, try this link:   Encycploedia Titanica

The Titanic looks like a toy compared to modern cruise ships but was the biggest ship afloat in 1912.

Capt. Charles Cunningham Boycott was born 12 Mar 1832, the son of a minister, at Burgh St Peter, Norfolk, England. He is my 2nd cousin. Our common ancestor is my 5x gt grandfather, Sir Thomas Beevor.

He grew up in the village of Burgh St Peter in Norfolk, England; the Boycatt family had lived in Norfolk for almost 150 years. They were of Huguenot origin, and had fled from France in 1685 when Louis XIV revoked civil and religious liberties to French Protestants. Charles Boycott was named Boycatt in his baptismal records. The family changed the spelling of its name from Boycatt to Boycott in 1841.

Boycott was educated at a boarding school in Blackheath, London.[4] He was interested in the military—and in 1848, entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in hopes of serving in the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners. He was discharged from the academy in 1849 after failing a periodic exam, and the following year his family bought him a commission in the 39th Foot regiment for £450.

Boycott's regiment transferred to Belfast shortly after his arrival. Six months later, it was sent to Newry before marching to Dublin, where it remained for a year. In 1852, Boycott married Anne Dunne in St Paul's Church, Arran Quay, Dublin. He was ill between August 1851 and February 1852 and sold his commission the following year, but decided to remain in Ireland. He leased a farm in County Tipperary, where he acted as a landlord on a small scale.

Charles became involved in local politics and was unpopular amongst the peasant farmers who were treated badly by Charles and the other land agents and lease farmers. He and his family were ostracised by everyone around him.

According to James Redpath, the verb "to boycott" was coined by Father O'Malley in a discussion between them on 23 September 1880. The following is Redpath's account:

I said, "I'm bothered about a word."

"What is it?" asked Father John.

"Well," I said, "When the people ostracise a land-grabber we call it social excommunication, but we ought to have an entirely different word to signify ostracism applied to a landlord or land-agent like Boycott. Ostracism won't do – the peasantry would not know the meaning of the word – and I can't think of any other."

"No," said Father John, "ostracism wouldn't do."

He looked down, tapped his big forehead, and said: "How would it do to call it to Boycott him?"

According to Joyce Marlow, the word was first used in print by Redpath in the Inter-Ocean on 12 October 1880. The coining of the word, and its first use in print, came before Boycott and his situation was widely known outside County Mayo. In November 1880, an article in the Birmingham Daily Post referred to the word as a local term in connection to the boycotting of a Ballinrobe merchant.

Still in 1880, The Illustrated London News described how "To 'Boycott' has already become a verb active, signifying to 'ratten', to intimidate, to 'send to Coventry', and to 'taboo'". In 1888, the word was included in the first volume of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (later known as The Oxford English Dictionary). According to Gary Minda in his book, Boycott in America: how imagination and ideology shape the legal mind, "Apparently there was no other word in the English language to describe this dispute."

The word also entered the lexicon of languages other than English, such as Dutch, French, German, Polish and Russian

After leaving Ireland, Boycott and his family visited the United States. His arrival in New York generated a great deal of media interest; the New York Tribune said that, "The arrival of Captain Boycott, who has involuntarily added a new word to the language, is an event of something like international interest."

In 1886, Boycott became a land agent for Hugh Adair's Flixton estate in Suffolk, England. He had a passion for horses and racing, and became secretary of the Bungay race committee. Boycott continued to spend holidays in Ireland, and according to Joyce Marlow, he left Ireland without bitterness.

If you are interested in more details of his life, please click here.

Click on the poppy to see my family members in the military who made the ultimate sacrifice for King, Queen, or occasionally, President and Country.