Growing Your Family Tree

Speech 8 in the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual covers “Getting Comfortable With Visual Aids”. Visual aids help an audience understand and remember what they hear; they are a valuable tool for speakers. The most popular visual aid are computer-based visuals, overhead transparencies, flip charts, whiteboards, and props. The objectives for this speech are: –

–      Select visual aids that are appropriate for your message and the audience.
–      Use visual aids correctly with ease and confidence.

For my speech I chose a flip chart and drew out the different steps involved in a family tree. This is the speech I gave on 3 December 2012.

Beare and Forebear – this toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guest, is our family motto. It seems
an apt motto for my interest in genealogy, as not only am I researching my forebears, but it also takes a
lot of forbearance to continue delving through records to find the vital links in my tree.

So how does a person start a family tree? My advice is to start with a simple 1 2 4 8 layout such as this
example here (point to chart). There is you (1), then your parents (2) then grandparents (4) and so on.
The majority of people will know their grandparents names but what about dates of birth, and place of
marriages? The county and preferably the town or city are key to tracking ancestral records.

But what about census records to locate your ancestors? Well, the thought is good but there is one small
problem… The very first Irish census was taken in 1813 but it had so many flaws that the records were deemed
useless and destroyed. A second attempt was made in 1821 and, due to its success, an Irish census was
subsequently held every ten years until 1911. The information contained in these census records varied
according to the year but always included at least the names of all individuals, their ages and their
relationships to their head of household, plus some basic data about their land or home.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that as a result of such extensive record-taking (which started two decades
before similar all-names censuses were taken in England, Scotland and Wales, and three decades before the
USA), your Irish ancestor search through the 19th century was going to be a breeze.

Sadly, that is not the case. The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after they
are collected, and for some inexplicable reason (possibly for something as prosaic as a need to create
additional storage space), the records for 1861 to 1891 were pulped, by government order, during the First
World War.

Just a few years later, in 1922, an explosion and subsequent fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin
destroyed most of the four censuses taken from 1821 to 1851. Only a few fragments of these censuses
survive. This means that the censuses of 1901 and 1911 are the only complete sets available for your Irish
ancestor search. These have now been digitised and released, free, online for anyone to search through.

This brings us to the internet, a valuable source of information. My favourite site is, not
least because of the following story…

Last year in between jobs I had time on my hands and the internet at my fingertips. I decided to go “Beare”
hunting. Trying different variations of the spelling of our surname, on one genealogy website,, I came across an Anne Beare, born in 1821 in Bandon. Could this possibly be the sister of
Jane and George and another daughter of John and Elizabeth Beare that we had not yet traced? I dashed off a
quick email to the tree owner and within 24 hours I had a response. Anne was indeed my long lost ancestor.
She had sailed to Sydney, Australia with her brother John. John had, we pieced together, returned home to
Bandon after his brother Isaac was killed in a riot in New York. He was obviously then chosen to accompany
Anne, or maybe he had the travelling bug my family still possess. Either way they both set sail on the
Neptune from Cork on Thursday, 26 October 1843. Three and a half months later they arrived in Australia on
11 February 1844. During the voyage ten people had died on board from smallpox, which meant the ship was
quarantined offshore for 3 days. Both Anne and John had assisted passage which meant in return for a ticket
they agreed to work a certain length of time for their benefactor in Australia, a common occurrence back
then. We have not yet traced where John ended up after his arrival but there is an intriguing story on what
happened to Anne Beare.

Within two years of Anne arriving in Australia she married a Peter Plummer on 20th October 1846 in St.
Saviour’s Church, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia. The union was a fruitful one as they had six
children. As time passed it appears that Peter had a shady past as he was convicted of sheep rustling. He
served his sentence and then set up a haulage business with a horse and dray transporting goods. His bad
luck continued with fatal consequences as during one episode of transporting he fell beneath the wheels of
his cart and died from his injuries on 16 February 1857. Poor Anne was left a widow at the young age of 36
with five young children to support. But the story doesn’t end there. As luck would have it Anne met a
George Blewett whom she married on 5 January 1858. They had a daughter Charlotte a year later. Life must
have seemed good for Anne when she discovered she was pregnant for the second time but once again tragedy
was to befall her family. In October 1860 just a few months short of their third wedding anniversary, and
with Anne three months pregnant George died as a result of falling into a fire. Once again poor Anne was a
widow, with the heartbreak of losing a second husband. For Anne to contemplate a future must surely have
been driven by the need to care for her kids, Anne is just 39 years old and appears to have an unbroken
spirit as eighteen months later she married again. On 5th April 1862 she walked down the aisle of
Christchurch, Queanbeyan accompanied by Patrick Licedy who was born in Limerick, Ireland. The minister who
performed the ceremony was Alberto Deas Soares. Well time passed, all of five years and one day Patrick
must have felt a pain in his chest, and on 21st April 1867 he was found dead near Cuppacom Balons. He was
thirty-two years old.

Once again and for the third time Anne is a widow at the age of 46. She had out-lived three husbands and
four of her ten children. She lived on for almost thirty more years, and in the course of time the symptoms
of old age kicked in. Eventually Rheumatism was diagnosed as the contributing cause of her passing on the
11th November 1896. She is buried at Riverside Cemetery Queanbeyan, New South Wales Australia. The coroner
Mr. Davies Downing said an inquest was unnecessary. Despite the loss of three husbands and four children
Anne carried on living to a good old age of 75. Any one of those events in her life could have broken her
but she chose instead to soldier on.

So this is just one story uncovered as a result of researching my ancestry. Sad though the story of Anne
was, it also showed a perseverance and strength of character. And I am sure there are many more stories yet
to discover. So why don’t you try it? With a bit of exploration and perseverance who knows what you will
discover. You may be related to Brad Pitt, or have a pirate as an ancestor, or even have a millionaire
relative still living somewhere around the world.

I hope this speech is of some help to you be it for Toastmasters or for researching your family tree. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comment.

Bye for now,


Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s