The Falkland Islands


CONFIDENTIAL

Ministry of Defence
London, England WC32

FLTC-660
1 April 1982

MOD Order 10482

Robert William Campbell Fraser
Lieutenant Commander, Royal New Zealand Navy
c/o Foss Launch & Tug Company
660 West Ewing Street
Seattle, Washington 98119
United States of America

Reference:  (A) MOD Directive 33182

In accordance with Reference A, you are hereby recalled to active service in support of Her Majesty’s Naval Forces efforts to regain control of the Falkland Islands.

As soon as practicable, and not later than 12 April 1982, you are directed to proceed to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, where you will assume the duties of Commandant of the Falkland Islands, with the rank of Captain, Royal Navy.

Your duties will be to assemble all military forces remaining in Port Stanley and hold position until formally relieved by Her Majesty’s forces.

Upon successful cessation of hostilities, you will be released to inactive service with the rank of Captain, Royal Navy, and the honorary title of Commodore.

By special dispensation from the President of the United States, your service in support of the Crown will not alter your United States citizenship status.

(signature)
John Nott
Secretary of State for Defence

———————————————————————–

So reads a letter, in triplicate, that I recently discovered among my father’s papers.  I didn’t have any memory of him heading out of the country urgently in early 1982 (this would have been two months before I graduated high school, and at the time I was not in Seattle, but San Mateo in California).  I was pretty sure that if he had rushed off to take command of military forces in the Falklands at the outbreak of the conflict, I would have known about that.  The letter appeared genuine.  It’s clearly typed on paper that is aged about right to be from 1982, and in an envelope that is similarly aged.  I don’t know what John Nott‘s signature is supposed to look like, but he was indeed Secretary of State for Defence in the British government at the outbreak of the Falklands War.

So I asked my father, “What is this?  Were you called up for service in 1982?”  His response:  “Oh, that.  I assumed it was a practical joke and ignored it.”  And of course, it has to have been a joke.  The letterhead is missing the Ministry of Defence logo.  There are no accompanying details about orders or disbursement of funds or exactly how he was to get himself to Port Stanley at a time when Argentina was pretty much blockading the place.  And why exactly would the Royal Navy call upon an ex-reserve officer who had been out of the service for about twenty years, and New Zealand’s Navy at that, and was now living as a private citizen in the United States?  To take command, of all things?  Surely the Royal Navy must have had an active duty commander available; surely they wouldn’t be quite that desperate.

Still, what if it wasn’t a joke?  What if it was real, absurd as it sounded?  My next question, then, was “Well, did you check it out?  Did you follow up, or contact anyone at the Ministry of Defence?”  No, he did not.  He just filed the letter away and ignored it.  He assumed one of his sons (not I) had concocted it.  What if?  Thirty years later, and could he be considered derelict in his duty?  Surely not.

I asked my brother Rob what he knew about it, and he had no memory of the letter.  It wasn’t him.  Not his style, in any case.

1 April 1982.  April 1st.  An April Fools joke, surely.

As it happens, at midnight that night, April 1st, is when Argentine amphibious troops began landing on the islands, and as the buildup to this event had occurred over the previous few months, British forces were already steaming toward them.  By the end of the next day, London was telexing to find out what happened:

LON (London): HELLO THERE WHAT ARE ALL THESE RUMOURS WE HEAR THIS IS LON
FK (Falklands): WE HAVE LOTS OF NEW FRIENDS
LON: WHAT ABOUT INVASION RUMOURS
FK: THOSE ARE THE FRIENDS I WAS MEANING
LON: THEY HAVE LANDED
FK: ABSOLUTELY
LON: ARE YOU OPEN FOR TRAFFIC IE NORMAL TELEX SERVICE
FK: NO ORDERS ON THAT YET ONE MUST OBEY ORDERS
LON: WHOSE ORDERS
FK: THE NEW GOVERNORS
LON: ARGENTINA
FK: YES
LON: ARE THE ARGENTINIANS IN CONTROL
FK: YES YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH THOUSANDS OF TROOPS PLUS ENORMOUS NAVY SUPPORT WHEN YOU ARE ONLY 1600 STRONG. STAND BY.
–Duncan, Andrew, The Falklands War, Marshall Cavendish Books Limited, ISBN 1-84415-429-7

In retrospect, I am convinced the letter was indeed an April Fools joke, although the timing was propitious and the invasion was certainly no joke.  Indeed, the whole thing has the feel of the work of my other brother, Peter.  The attention to detail in the letter would be just right for him, as would the idea in the first place.  I wish I could ask him about it now, but of course that’s impossible.

Peter died in 1996.

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John Fraser and the Archives


Genealogists and historians alike have apparently been quite excited by the public release earlier this month of the 1940 US Census, and with good reason.  There is a great deal of information available about a pivotal time in the history of the world.  Compared to the 2010 census, the 1940 might also be more revealing, as families were asked about 65 questions compared to an average of 10 questions most recently.  However, those 65 questions will probably not help me very much, as my family did not come to the United States until 1969.  Oh, it’s possible I’ll find something of interest in there when I begin to seriously look at some branches that had forays to the US prior to my own emigration, but meanwhile all the excitement seems to be passing me by.

That’s all right, however, as this month did drop a nice little present into my lap as well, so I needn’t feel completely left out.

My grandfather, John Fraser, born and died in New Zealand, was a war veteran.  While the 1940 Census may be of special interest to those researching the Second World War, John was a veteran of the First, or as it was known in his time, the Great War.  I knew this, and from family oral history I knew that he was a veteran of Gallipoli and France, and that somewhere along the way he was wounded, a wound which would give him pain for the rest of his life.  This, however, was about all I knew.  I never did get to meet my grandfather; he died five months before I was born.

Discussions with my father and my uncle have shed a little light on John’s character and history, but much about him remains unknown to me.  I know that he was born in 1894 in Tauranga on the Bay of Plenty.  I know that his father died when he was only 11, and although his father appears to have had a little money, none of it seems to have been left to the family after his death.  I know that by the age of 12 he was working to help support the family, and probably he never got much in the way of a formal education after that point.  A few years later, probably about the time he was 17, his mother emigrated to Australia, where she would spend the rest of her life, but it isn’t entirely clear if John went with her.  His two sisters both ended up living in Australia as adults, and John certainly spent some time there, but he and his older brother Robert both were back in New Zealand at least by the time war broke out in 1914.  In those few years from about 1911 to 1914 he “carried his swag” (to use my uncle’s words) around Australia and even apparently spent a little time working for a circus.  I have no documentation of these movements, however.

What is documented is that in 1914 John Fraser signed up with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.  Actually, eleven different John Frasers signed up that year, and six of them had no middle name, like my grandfather (an oddity, that, as his brother had a middle name, his father had a middle name, he gave all his children two middles names each), which doesn’t exactly make it easy to isolate which one was him.  However, of those six, only one was in the Auckland Military District (which would definitely have included Tauranga), and according to the New Zealand Army WWI Nominal Rolls, that one gave as his next of kin Mrs Annie Fraser, mother, of 99 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, Sydney.  My great-grandmother was Mrs Sarah Annie Fraser (née Cliffe), and she moved to Sydney around 1911, where she lived until her death in 1936.  By 1936 she had a different address than Victoria St, but over that space of time it’s entirely likely she moved at least once, and besides, the two addresses are an 8-minute walk from each other.  She didn’t move far.  As for calling herself by her middle name, I don’t know if that was her custom, but her mother was also Sarah so it would not be unusual for her to grow up being called by her middle name.  She called her firstborn daughter Annie, so it seems she was fond of the name, and that Annie then went on to be known by her middle name.  There seems to be some support for the notion that Sarah Annie Fraser would be known as Annie.

The evidence that this is my John Fraser seems quite strong, but it’s still not conclusive, and we still don’t know much about what he did other than sign up.

Enter Archives New Zealand, the official archival office of the New Zealand government.  The Archives holds most of the older war records (the Defence Force keeps everything more recent), and they have published an index to their holdings online.  Now, as you might imagine, there are many mentions of a John Fraser in the government archives, but most of them have nothing to do with my family.  Twenty-two of them are WWI personnel records, nine with no middle name, and most of them have only the index online.  How to find the right one?

Well, going back to the Nominal Rolls, which have been digitized on ancestry.com, and assuming the record I found earlier is my John, I have a critical piece of unique identifying information:  his regimental number.  If I’ve got the right man, my John Fraser was number 13/993a in the NZ Army, and that number 13/993a, appears in the Archives index.  We have a match.

Drilling into the index, I come across the statement “Access to this record has been restricted… for preservation reasons,” which means the microfilm on which the record is kept has become fragile.  They aren’t letting people handle and view the microfilm.  The restriction will next be reviewed in 2015.

For a moment I have a sinking feeling, akin to when you find a record and realize it will require a personal visit on the far side of the world to see it.  Not that I wouldn’t love to travel back to New Zealand and spend time digging around, but it’s not in the cards for this year.  Or next.

Further reading, however, reveals that for a nominal fee I can ask the Archives personnel to digitize the record and make it available online.  Presto!  I quickly submit my application, pay my fee, and now I am just waiting for the result.  The details of this record should make it absolutely clear if I have the right man, since it should list details about his birth and next of kin that are known to me.  Beyond that, the record should give a history of his movements during the war, his wounds, and any medals he might have earned.

So now we wait.  While waiting, however, I decided to google a bit more using some of the other information I gleaned from John Fraser 13/993a’s record in the Nominal Rolls.  From that scant record, I know that he joined the Auckland Mounted Rifles and was part of the Third Reinforcements.  That information was enough to lead me to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Association, an historical society dedicated to this particular subgroup of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.  The Auckland Mounted Rifles have their own page within this group, and there’s a great deal of history particular to this unit.

And just while writing this, I discovered that the digitized copy has become available.  Serendipitous timing!  Actually, it’s probably been available for some days, but I’ve been waiting for an email to tell me that, and I just happened to go back to the website and look and there it was.  Now the record is publicly available to all who are interested (and indeed, I could use some help deciphering some of the handwriting, as I’m terrible at that), but I can tell you straight off, based on the particulars in the file, that this is indeed my John Fraser.  From a quick glance I see a record of his being wounded in the Gallipoli campaign seriously enough that he was discharged as physically unfit for duty, and then not long after being returned to New Zealand he managed to enlist again, this time in an infantry battalion, and was sent off to France, where he was wounded again!  No wonder he had pain for life.  On this second deployment it appears he was promoted at least once to Lance Corporal.  It also appears that he had a period of rebelliousness, as there are some mentions of forfeiture of pay and so forth, apparently for unauthorized absences.  I’ll have to read those more carefully.  Nevertheless, this fits with what my father has previously told me about his father, that he was wounded in Gallipoli, that he was discharged for the wound, and that he then signed up again to go to France, where he was wounded a second time.

It seems it was this second wound which put him in hospital in England for a while, and the family history is that this is where he met his wife, my grandmother, while she was working there as a nurse.

But that story will have to wait for another time.

France


Apologies, dear readers, for the delay between posts, but like many of you in late December, I’ve been on holiday.  Carole and I were in France for two weeks, and while I did explore a little bit down a side avenue of research, the main purpose of the trip was family.  Living family, that is.  Carole is French in origin, and we were there to spend the holidays with her family.

We flew in via non-stop from Seattle to Paris, and direct from the airport caught the TGV to Montpellier, and from there a regional train to Carcassonne.  The TGV is France’s high-speed passenger rail system, and the trains can get up to 200 mph, which would be pretty exciting except they’re so dang smooth on the rails that there’s not much sensation of speed until suddenly you pass one going the other way.  The other train is suddenly and momentarily there, creating a split-second of a ‘whoomph’ sound, and then it’s gone, nothing but the briefest of blurs.  Certainly there’s no time to notice any details about it at all.  The first thought is well, that must have been a short train, and then it occurs to you that you’re on a pretty long train, and that other train was probably similar in its length, and it dawns on you just how fast you really are moving over the ground.  Being the geeky sort, I did attempt to clock the speed with a GPS, but besides being an efficient way of moving about the country, the train is also an efficient blocker of GPS signals.  I never was able to get a lock.

The other thing to note about the TGV, and the SNCF railways in general, is how to make proper use of the bar car.  In the bar car there is a large and extensive menu of food, and behind the bar are various cabinets and ovens and such.  From this one might deduce that a meal can be obtained, but the veteran traveler of the railways knows that looks can be deceiving.  The thought of a hot sandwich, such as a Croque Monsieur (a favorite of mine, actually), was quite appealing when I saw it advertised, but when I asked for it in my halting and very bad French, the gentleman behind the bar was able to convey to me that his oven was out of order and so there was no hot food available.  It’s true that he did use language to tell me this, but the message really got through when he pointed to the sign on the oven that said… well, it said something in French, but it was red and it looked a lot like an “out of order” sign to me, so I got the point.  Not to be deterred, I selected a pair of cold sandwiches.  The barman went through his cabinets and…  the date stamp on the sandwiches was expired.  He looked for others:  expired.  He went through every cabinet.  In the end, he had exactly one type of small, uninteresting sandwich which was still safely edible, according to the label, and cabinets full of expired food, next to the inoperable oven.  Carole tells me that French people don’t really expect to buy food on the train, they usually bring their own, and so would we have done except we had just come from the airport, so I gather the barman was probably caught by surprise by a customer actually… gasp… ordering from the menu.

The coffee was good, however.

At Lyon there was an announcement over the intercom, something about “action industrielle”, and Carole informed me that beyond Lyon the bar car was operated by a different union (I think), and this union was on strike, so from this point the bar car was closed.  Either that, or the strike was just starting at the time we were in Lyon.  I was still very jet-lagged and tired, so my French was practically non-existent.  It did improve on later days, especially after copious consumption of coffee.

Once arrived in Carcassonne we were met at the station by Carole’s brother, Lionel, who drove us the remaining 8 miles to his mother (and Carole’s stepmother) Eugenie’s house in Montirat.

Montirat is probably not well known to most tourists, despite being just a handful of miles from what is arguably the third-most-visited tourist destination in the country.  It is a small village, with a population of about 70, situated at the end of a narrow, winding country road that is not much more than a spur from an only slightly larger regional highway.  It does boast a gite, or holiday rental home, but these are more likely to be occupied by French nationals on holiday than by foreign tourists (though I can highly recommend gites de France from personal experience on other occasions).  There’s a small church.  There’s no school.  The nearest bakery isn’t even in town, it’s out on the D3 highway.  What Montirat does have, however, is peace, quiet, and old-world charm.  It sits atop a hill, giving it a little bit of a view of the surrounding vineyards, and its main road curls around the hill in a way that would delight Tolkien enthusiasts (think Hobbiton).  At the apex of the hill, across the road from Eugenie’s house, are the crumbling remains of some old stone structure, redolent with hints of an unknown medieval history, now mostly buried in the grass and earth as farmers have gone about their business around it over the centuries.  The old ruin is all that remains of a probably 13th century watchtower, once part of an early warning system for the locals, who in the event of attack could have time to take refuge behind the walls of the nearby fortified city of Carcassonne.

We, meanwhile, took refuge from the winter rain and wind by spending our first days indoors, basically being lazy while recovering from jet lag and visiting with Lionel and Eugenie.  We ate well (it is France, after all), perhaps too well, a trend that was to continue throughout our stay and for which perhaps our stomachs were not entirely prepared.

After a few days of easing into the French country life and decompressing from the stresses of work and air travel, it was time to move on.  Once again on the train, Carcassonne to Grenoble, with a change in Lyon, and soon we found ourselves at Carole’s mother Anne-Marie’s in-town condo, a somewhat different experience from the cozy country house in Montirat with its chicken coop and its big yard.  By now we were resurfacing into wakefulness, and we actually got out and walked about the city a little.  The weather even cooperated for this, clearing to magnificent crystalline blue skies for a day or two, enough to reveal the snow-covered Alps in their gleaming splendor looming directly over the city.

Even some of my French now began to return to me, although only if people were patient enough to speak very slowly, articulate very deliberately, and use only the simplest of words and grammar could I understand them.  However, I was able to get the gist of the conversations going on around me, and even put in a word now and then, stunning listeners with… well, not my erudition, but more likely my inability to speak even as well as a four-year-old.  Perhaps the simple sound of their beautiful language being mangled in my mouth shocked them senseless.  At least I didn’t ask for agua con gaz like I did during my first visit to France, twelve years ago.

A few very pleasant days, some more excellent meals, and it was time to take the TGV back to Paris, this time alighting at the Gare de Lyon in the heart of town, being met by our friend Isabelle, who with her daughter Lucie kindly hosted us for the remainder of our stay.  Isabelle and Lucie both speak English, and so now my hard-won language skills could fall back into disuse and disrepair.  Isabelle even took us to see a show, How to Become Parisian in One Hour, which was given almost entirely in English.

On another day we met another friend, Natalie, and wandered the streets, and it was while on the Champs Elysees and again near the Eiffel Tower that we encountered armed soldiers, in pairs, patrolling.  We had seen them in the airport, which wasn’t so surprising, and in the train station, which still made some sense, but when I saw men in camouflage carrying machine guns on the streets of downtown I really started to wonder if something was up.  I’m not sure if it’s a reaction to recent events, or simply stepped up alertness at key points during the holidays, when thousands of people are out and about, but mostly I thought about how those solders didn’t look a day over 18, and just how comfortable was I with a teenager with his finger poised over the trigger guard of a FAMAS or SIG 550 (I’m pretty sure I saw both models in use).

But, nothing happened.

Now, just to justify this pure travel story on a genealogy blog, I did do a little research while in France.  Since we were, after all, visiting Carole’s family, I decided to research her ancestry a little.  As it turns out, Lionel has an entire book about their father’s ancestry, and Anne-Marie had several pages about her family, and very quickly we traced ancestors back to the 16th century in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and of course France, with a number of connections reaching into Africa.  There are hints at some very interesting family stories, just waiting to be uncovered, but that will have to be another time, I think.

Because, after all, I returned home to Seattle to find a package waiting for me:  seventy-five pages, on CD, of my father’s personnel file from the Union Steam Ship Company, courtesy of the Wellington City Archives.

Costs


The estimate from the British National Archives came back fairly quick.  It seems the ‘pouch’ is only two pages, so that’s not much.  However, their charge to make a copy is £3.50 per page, and to have them mail it via airmail (the cheapest option) is another £11 (I have no idea why sending the equivalent of a two-page letter should cost so much).  I’ve asked for a revised estimate to have it made available for digital download instead, but I know what that will end up being:  no charge for the download, but the same per-page copying charge.

By contrast, the New Zealand Defence Force Archives sent me a file by parcel post with dozens of pages — for no charge at all.

That’s not to say that all the New Zealand archive sources are free.  The Births, Deaths, and Marriages office of the Department of Internal Affairs charges NZ$20 per registry copy, and NZ$26 for a certificate (but they don’t charge for postage, regardless of the destination).  I don’t know yet if the records from the Wellington City Archives will have a charge; they’ll let me know when they locate the record (I think I’m in a queue for that service).

ScotlandsPeople, a government office/website geared at Scottish genealogical information, has a different system.  There you purchase ‘credits’ for £7 per batch of 30.  Then it costs 1 credit to view a page of search results (this feels silly to me), and 5 credits to view and download an ‘image’ (which is essentially the document of interest).  It makes no difference how many pages comprise the document, however.  I thought this was going to be expensive, until I encountered the National Archives fee structure.  Now ScotlandsPeople feels positively cheap.

This is in contrast to online services like Ancestry.com, which uses a flat monthly or annual membership fee.  Once the flat fee is paid, you have unlimited access to whatever they have until your membership expires.  It might seem expensive up front, at least for a ‘worldwide’ account, but pretty quickly one realizes what a great value it is.

On the other hand, FamilySearch.org is free.  They don’t have quite as much data as Ancestry, and the interface is not quite as nice, but they have different data, some of which is not available on Ancestry.  They’re especially good for UK census data.  Really, it seems that one needs to consult both.

Oh, and did I mention about the Yatman family history book?  My uncle confirmed that it was indeed the book he had referenced, and what’s more he had a spare copy to send me.  That’s $325 saved right there.  Thank you, Brian!

Of course, I’m not yet at the phase of travelling overseas for in-person research.

Gathering Data


I keep thinking I’m just about ready to publish the next piece about Captain Fraser, that I’ve found just about all the information I’m going to find and that I just need to go with it, and then suddenly a whole new trove of data — important data — opens up for me.  Yes, yes, we now have the basic facts of his life, birth, marriage, divorce, marriage, emigration, divorce, marriage, etc.  We know where he worked and basically what he did.  But records thought lost and unreconstructable are now proving to be available in archives, or sections within those archives, formerly unknown to me.  New avenues of research are appearing before me that are not just filled with trivia, but with the details that add life to his story, color to his sketch, and that will perhaps transport us back a little ways in time to put us briefly into his shoes.  I can almost smell the cordite and fear after the torpedo hit.  I can just about feel the cold of the Russian Arctic Convoys.  I can hear the angry longshoremen striking in Auckland Harbour.  Their voices are calling to me.  I just need… a little… more…

The New Zealand Defence Force Archives have proven their worth.  Included within the folder that came by post are copies of correspondence between a young Naval Reserve Lieutenant and the Navy Board about training exercises and promotions.  Enticing details on letterheads give clues about the Reserve Officer’s civilian job and life, such as a request for compassionate leave before the birth of a child, and the names of the merchant ships to which he was then assigned.  A fourteen-year period of the young Robert Fraser’s life emerges in a little more clarity.  Still, he didn’t enlist in the Naval Reserve until 1950, and by then he had already earned his Merchant Navy Master’s Certificate and been at sea for twelve years.  We need more.  We need to know about the Union Steam Ship Company.

And a search, often conducted, finally leads us to a new source.  A discussion board for ship enthusiasts and old sailors, Ships Nostalgia, has an entire forum for the Union Company!  I posted a question there to see if perhaps anyone who sailed with my father might recall him, and within a matter of hours someone replied to tell me where I might even find a photo taken of my father upon his promotion to Master (the caption says January 1957, but I believe this is incorrect; from other sources I believe the correct date is early 1956 or even late 1955):

Wellington Maritime Museum, New Zealand Ship and Marine Society

That’s him, all right, at the age of 35.  My correspondent went on to tell me that the Wellington City Archives kept copies of all the records, including personal files, of the Union Company, because the company with its 125-year history is considered significant to the national history.  For half of its existence it was the largest private employer in all of New Zealand.  So, I wrote to the Wellington City Archives, and they have agreed to search their files for my father.  That search is still ongoing at this writing, and I’m not certain how long it may take.

Before joining the Union Company, however, as a Cadet Robert Fraser worked for the British merchant company J & C Harrison’s, serving on at least three of their ships during the early years of the war.  That record, or rather his “seaman’s pouch”, has turned up with the British National Archives (aka Public Records Office), and I am currently awaiting an estimate on the cost of copying and posting it.  Since I’m not sure just how many pages might comprise the record, I don’t yet know if it will be cheap or expensive, but I expect it will be more on the inexpensive side.

In the midst of this research, I came across one final little oddity.  The New Zealand Defence Forces, just this year, have created a new medal, retroactive, to recognize those with at least three years of service in the post-war years.  With fourteen years in the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve, my father qualifies.  It seems he might be receiving one last medal for his service to add to his collection, the New Zealand Defence Service Medal.  When I called him up and mentioned his medals (he has six now), he nonchalantly declaimed “oh, I don’t care about medals.”  When I mentioned that it looked like he would be getting a seventh, after all these years, his response was “Really?” and he got quite excited.  Doesn’t care, eh?  It seems deep down we all like to be recognized for our achievements, even if the proper response is to act as if we don’t.  It’s ok, Dad.  You certainly earned it.

Publishing Pedigrees


I’ve been doing some thinking about how best to publish a pedigree chart that would show the relationships between the various people I’ve mentioned to date and myself, and I admit this is where my newbie status as a blogger shows itself.  Indeed, this might be where it would be better to use a regular website and not a service like WordPress, which for all its power doesn’t seem to be very friendly to uploading formatted text, unless one is something of an expert with cascading style sheets and so forth.  I’m not, and nor do I really have a desire to be; I’m here to research and write, not spend all my time figuring out how to publish pretty pictures.  So, for those wanting to see a fancy chart, I’ll get there, but meanwhile I’ll have to resort to the old-fashioned descriptive text.

Of course, other genealogists (and genealogy bloggers) whose work I’ve followed seem to be of two minds about whether to even publish such charts in the first place.  For one thing, it seems there’s a trend toward “genealogy theft”, i.e. people simply lift the result of all your hard work and graft it onto their own family trees, for whatever reason I can’t quite fathom.  Why anyone not related to me would want to put my ancestors in their family tree is beyond me, but apparently it happens.  I suppose if I manage to somehow, some day, uncover the missing link between myself and some famous historical personage, it could be tempting for someone else with a family name appearing in my tree to “attach” themselves to that famous person.  It might look very impressive to their friends, but it wouldn’t be true.  Ah well, at this point I’ve not uncovered any such famous ancestors (well, maybe locally famous, but not such that they’d have a Wikipedia page or something).

Belay that last.  As I wrote that, I thought to myself, hmm, well, there is a line of ancestors on my father’s mother’s mother’s side that had a fair bit of money in the 19th century, a landed estate in England, and even a (rare) book* about them.  Perhaps I should check.  Wouldn’t you know it, my great-great-grandfather’s younger brother has his own Wikipedia entry after all.  It seems that 3x-great-uncle William Hamilton Yatman (1819-1913) was moderately famous for his feats as a rower while at Cambridge.  That, and a property he once owned is today a second home for Prince Charles.

Ok, maybe someone might want to lay claim to some of this line after all.  On the other hand, the Yatman family pedigree, at least as far as it went a hundred years ago, is well known, so anything I publish is not exactly going to be news.

Anyway, back to the original point, which was pedigrees for those mentioned so far — and yes, I realize I’ve now mentioned another one in this post.  In fact, let’s start with him.

William Hamilton Yatman (1819-1913) was the younger brother to John Augustus Yatman (1817-1894), about whom I will later have more to write.  John Augustus (or J.A.Y. as he sometimes signed papers) and his wife Anna Victoria Blachley Turner (1837-1922) had seven children, the eldest of whom was Frances Mary Yatman (1860-1949).  Frances (“Gran” to my father) married William Henry Statter (1857-1895), with whom she had three children.  She married again after William’s death (a Turner, but no relation to Anna Victoria as far as I can tell) and had two more children.  The youngest of her children by her first marriage was Gladys Annie Dinah Statter (1885-1980), affectionately known as “Nin” to those of us who knew her (she hated the name Gladys).  So far this has been an entirely English family, but Gladys married a New Zealander, John Fraser (1894-1964), and emigrated back to his country with him.  John and Gladys had six children (five who lived to adulthood), second eldest of whom was Robert William Campbell Fraser (1921-present day), my father.

In an earlier post about names, I introduced Alexander Fraser (1802-?) and his wife Grace Campbell (1811-?), residents of Perthshire, Scotland.  Alexander and Grace had ten children, second eldest of whom was Robert Campbell Fraser (1838-1905), who emigrated to New Zealand for reasons not yet known to me.  There he married a Kiwi girl, Sarah Ann Cliffe (1864-1936), and had eight children, four (or maybe five — I haven’t been able to track down what happened with one of the daughters) who lived to adulthood.  Third eldest of those living that long was my grandfather, John Fraser, the one who married Gladys of the Statter/Yatman family.

In The Voyage of the Adamant I introduced James Spratt (1844-1935) and his wife Maria Rawlinson (1844-1909), who emigrated from England to New Zealand.  See Emigrants to connect from the Spratts to me through my mother’s line.

* A History of Winscombe Hill and the Yatman Family, by Maria Forbes, published 2005, appears to be a very limited run.  I have found exactly one copy for sale, used, and the seller is asking for more than $300.  It might have to wait.  I have a few tantalizing photocopied pages sent me by my uncle which I believe are from this book, and which show my great-grandmother Frances and great-grandfather William at the time of their marriage.  I think the author wrote the book specifically for one modern descendant of the Yatmans, Sue Gunn, to whom it is dedicated, and who I believe may have been the last private owner of the family estate at Winscombe Hall.