1. When did you first start working on your family history?

About 1996 when I joined the newly formed British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa.

2. What was your most surprising discovery?

Finding mention of my great-grandfather in digitized newspapers, I found out his income, that he worked at a bank on Oxford Street in London and had done so for ten years, that he had been on vacation and his first child was on the way. All that was in an article reporting on a trial where he admitted having lived beyond his means and having purloined money from the bank. The bank said he was otherwise a good employee, seemed truly sorry, not just sorry he was found out and suggested leniency. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment. It isn’t the type of story that gets handed down in the family.

3. Have you done a DNA test? Were there any surprises about countries of origins?

I’ve done DNA tests with several companies. I wasn’t surprised at the results, which differed between the companies, because I appreciate the limitations of the estimates. I was surprised to find a match with someone from NY state, descendant of a relative who left England about 1830.

4. What is the brick wall you would most like to break down in your family history?

The origin of a great-grandfather, not the one mentioned above, stated to have been born in Liverpool in three censi and County Down in the last. I’ve found no confirming evidence either way.

5. What is your favourite part of researching your family history?

Placing ancestors in context – how did socioeconomic conditions influence their lives.

Speaker Spotlight: John Reid