An electronic newsletter for family historians from the
Society of Australian Genealogists

120 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Website -
Tel: (02) 9247 3953 Fax: (02) 9241 4872 

December 2014

SAG coat of arms

  • Christmas Hours
  • New Probate Service for England and Wales
  • FindMyPast Offer
  • 2015 Certificate course
  • State Library of NSW's unique collection of WWI soldiers' diaries
  • 140th Anniversary St Matthias' Currawang
  • Australian Survey on Family History Researchers


  • What's on in January


  • Christmas gift from ScotlandsPeople



Browse SAGs online bookshop for a great collection of family history books, CDs and software.

  • Huguenot Surname Index CD
  • Preserving Your Family's Oral History
  • Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable
  • Rallying the Troops


  • Subscribe or alter your subscription to these newsletters

Christmas Hours

A reminder that our libraries are closed for the Christmas/New Year break and reopen on Tuesday 6 January 2015 at 10am. During this time all telephone enquiries should be directed to (02) 9247 3953. Bookshop orders and emails are being monitored with reduced staffing until 6 January.

New Probate Service for England and Wales

A new service has been launched in England for wills after 1858. Like the General Register Office which deals with birth, death and marriage certificates, the Probate Registry has now closed its London office and all orders must be placed online or by post.

At you’ll find three indexes to wills:

  • Wills & Probates 1996 onwards
  • Wills & Probates 1858-1996
  • Soldiers’ Wills (British Armed Forces 1850-1986)

Searching of the Probate calendars is free and the 1858-1996 series provides images of the National Probate Calendars which the SAG has held on fiche for many years and which are now also available online through some commercial sites. The basic search allows you to enter a surname and year of death and will then take you to the page (or range of pages) where that surname will occur for that year. Note that for a popular name this could give a range of 20+ pages which you would then need to scroll through, so it can be useful to use the Advanced Search instead, which allows you to search by given name, surname, exact date of death etc.

While the Calendars 1858-1996 show details such as name of executor, occupation, place of death and value of the estate, from 1996 to the present day the only identifying details provided are surname and given names, date of death, date of probate and place.

It’s important to bear in mind that any record will be listed by date of probate, not date of death, so a person’s will could be listed some years after their death if settlement of their estate was protracted. Once you’ve done a search a shopping cart is provided where you can lodge your application online and pay the £10 fee by credit card. Rather than posting the document to you an email link will be provided within ten working days and you then log into the ‘My Wills’ section of the site and save each order to your computer. Copies will be deleted off the system 31 days after you collect your order, so you need to ensure you download and save it to your own computer. Postal applications are still being accepted but will take four weeks to process.

The website is still in beta form and feedback is welcome on its functionality. The SAG will continue to offer its Probate service for the time being as we are mindful some members do not have internet access or prefer not to use their credit cards online. We will be able to supply copies electronically or in print form and our price for this service remains at $27.00.

FindMyPast Offer

Members are reminded that they receive a good discount on an annual world FindMyPast subscription when they subscribe through the Australian site and quote the code sag_sd2014 – you’ll save $72 (the cost of your SAG membership) off the normal price of $199.50. This offer also applies to current FMP members renewing their subs on this site – and if you already get a loyalty discount this will be added in as well!

2015 Certificate course

The SAG will again be offering its Certificate in Genealogical Research course in 2015 and applications will be open from 1-28 February. This year applications will only be accepted online and will require the completion of a short questionnaire. Further details about the course will be available here ( as they are released.

State Library of NSW's unique collection of WWI soldiers' diaries recognised by UNESCO

From 1918 to 1920 the State Library purchased 236 soldiers' diaries as part of the European War Collecting Project and the Library has been adding to its collection of World War One diaries and letters ever since. The collection has now grown to over 1,200 handwritten accounts by soldiers of all ranks, doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, journalists and POWs.

This unique collection has been recognised through its inclusion on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register. The UNESCO program is part of an international initiative which aims to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity. In addition, the State Library has just released 50,000 pages of digitised WWI diaries for the public to transcribe. The library is launching a purpose built transcription tool and seeking the community's support in the task of transcribing the diaries and letters.

For further information see the full media release or to learn more about transcribing, go to

140th Anniversary St Matthias' Anglican Church at Currawang

There is a celebration of the 140th Anniversary of St Matthias' Anglican Church at Currawang taking place at 11am on Saturday 28 February 2015. Currawang is north of Lake George in the Goulburn district of New South Wales. The commemorative service will include the formal dedication of a memorial plaque for those interred in unmarked grave and the launch of a new book "Currawang: Church and Community" by Paul Wheeldon. For more information contact Tom Frame at or on 0417 468 304.

Australian Survey on Family History Researchers

You are invited to participate in an Australian study conducted by Emma Shaw, a PhD candidate from the University of Newcastle. The study seeks to explore why people are engaging with family history and what they learn as a result. If you are interested in participating, go to where you can complete the anonymous online survey.

CALENDAR - January

A chronological list of all activities is now available for online viewing and bookings here. You can also phone Monday to Saturday during office hours on 9247 3953 or book over the desk during library hours Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday.

All activities are held at Richmond Villa, 120 Kent Street unless otherwise specified.

  • Saturday 10 January (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Identifying Australian House Styles
    Can you put all your photos in time and place? In this seminar, learn how to do the architecture detective work that can add important context to your family history. Bring any photos you are unsure of (houses, gardens, backyards etc.). Presenter: Judy Keena. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Friday 16 January (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Hands On - Perfect Printing Every Time - BOOKED OUT!
  • Friday 16 January (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Hands On - Perfect Printing Every Time PM - BOOKED OUT!
  • Saturday 17 January (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Photo Restoration - an Introduction
    This workshop introduces the basics of photo restoration using the program Photoshop Elements. Melissa Hulbert will demonstrate how to repair scratches and tears, and how to bring out details in older photos, using some simple ‘advanced techniques’. Presenter: Melissa Hulbert. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).
  • Saturday 17 January (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Legacy Software Group
    Following on from its first successful meeting, the Legacy Software Group intends to continue meeting in 2015. Bring your questions and laptop if you wish, share ideas and learn more about how Legacy can help in recording and presenting your research. Facilitator – Bev Hyssett. Bookings essential. $8 ($12 non-members).
  • Thursday 29 January (9.00am - 10.00am) - Orientation Tour
    Held in the Library at 2/379 Kent Street from 9.00am-10.00am. Members only. Bookings essential. Join us for a tour of the SAG library - learn about its layout and the services offered. Remember you can stay on and do research after the tour. Free - a gold coin donation on the day towards our Collections Fund is always appreciated.
  • Friday 30 January (10.00am - 12.30pm) - Hands On - English Counties - Devon
    Join us at 379 Kent Street for this session highlighting selected online sources and other material available for Devon and where it can be found in the SAG Library. The session includes an hour of research time at the Library to consult the county records that have been featured. Presenter: Philippa Garnsey & Joan Healy. Bookings essential. $30 ($45 non-members).
  • Saturday 31 January (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Your Cornish Ancestors
    Until the early 1840s, most Cornish women and men were not fully literate, and many still spoke a form of Celtic. Church and other records suffered as a result, because the Clerk might not understand the names being pronounced or scribbled. Yet, the history of the Dutchy is wonderful. This session highlights tips and traps for using Cornish resources in family history. Presenter: Peter Trebilco. Bookings essential. $20 ($30 non-members).

Christmas Gift from ScotlandsPeople

Until the 6th of January 2015, you can browse the index searches for Valuation Rolls 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920 and the newly-released 1925 free of charge. Go to and login or register to search the records.


Visit our bookshop at 379 Kent Street, where we're open 10am to 4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (see our Christmas/New Year hours above). Our great collection of family history book titles is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online, where you'll find local histories, CD-ROMs, charts and genealogical software - all at competitive prices!

When you place your order online, the Australia Post Calculator on our new bookshop website will calculate the correct postage fees according to the weight of your order.

Huguenot Surname Index CD - $25.00

Since its formation in 1885 the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland has published 61 volumes of primary records, including all surviving Huguenot church registers for England and Ireland, naturalization records up to 1800, charity records and some wills. This Master Index is a compilation of all the indexes of all these volumes, and as such will be a useful tool to Huguenot researchers world-wide. This CD consists of PDF files which can be viewed by any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader (free software). The data on this CD is completely self-contained and requires no installation. Compiled by Cecile Ramsay-Sharp and Robert Nash Published by the Huguenot Society of Australia, 2014, in association with the Society of Australian Genealogists and the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland. [More detail]

Preserving Your Family's Oral History - $18.00

'Preserving Your Family's Oral History and Stories' provides you with all the information on the latest methods and tools used to capture and preserve those family stories. In addition, once you've learned how easy it is to build a family archive of stories, you'll want to share them with others using the tips and tricks provided in this book. Softcover, A5, 36 pages Thomas MacEntee, Unlock the Past Series 2014 [More detail]

Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable - $25.00

The electrifying story of a criminal quaker, a poisoned mistress, and the dawn of the information age. John Tawell was a sincere Quaker but a sinning one. Convicted of forgery, he was transported to Sydney, where he opened Australia’s first retail pharmacy and made a fortune. When he returned home to England after fifteen years, he thought he would be welcomed; instead he was shunned. Told with narrative verve and rich in historical research, this is a delicious true tale of murder and scientific revolution in Victorian England. Softcover book, 22 cm, 391 pages Carol Baxter, Oneworld Publications 2013 [More detail]

Rallying the Troops - $50.00

Over 1300 men and women with links to Ku-ring-gai served in World War I. They came from all walks of life, from labourers to university lecturers. This book contains the war stories of those with names beginning A to F, approximately one third of all those who volunteered. It also includes chapters on the area as it was at the outbreak of war, on recruiting, enlistment and the rifle clubs, the early battles in which the veterans were involved, information on thelocal memorials and a guide to the memorials and cemeteries overseas where the dead are commemorated. Volumes II and III are planned for release in 2015 and 2016. Softcover, 30cm, 432 pages, indexed (with full A-Z list of names) Ku-Ring-Gai Historical Society Inc, 2014 [More detail]


Have you got friends or relatives who've expressed an interest in family history? Why not give them a nudge to join SAG? Go on, forward this email to them!

If you've been forwarded this email by a friend or relative and have at last been inspired to explore your family's history and want to subscribe, just complete this form and we'll be glad to subscribe you to future newsletters.

Your privacy is assured - we will not pass your email address to any other organisation.

You can also get more detail about becoming a member of the SAG.

You'll also find links to unsubscribe or change your details if you click here. You can also unsubscribe by clicking on the link at the very bottom of this newsletter.

© Society of Australian Genealogists 2014 - all rights reserved
Any feedback or enquiries regarding this newsletter should be directed to the editor: Lisa Watson. Items for inclusion are also welcome.