Click the images below to enlarge them


What next?

This letter is full of social, environmental and economic history. Samuel describes the town of St John’s,


‘The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 6-3/Brooks. VA 91-47.2 E Curwen’


his living quarters and how he altered them, his weekly rations and the price of provisions, recreational activities, gossip about fellow officers and wives, the weather conditions, exchanging money, budgeting his income, interest rates, and much more. Each of the lists I mentioned above is the springboard for an individual area of research. Each would help us understand the life and times that Samuel and Henry lived in and the world as it existed then and radiating out both forward a backward in time would encompass generations of one extended family.


Oh yes and I haven’t mentioned yet that Samuel and Henry Wyatt are 2nd cousins 5 times removed of Montagu Denis Wyatt Don b1955…Monty Don the one time host of BBC’s Gardeners World and one of the 2010 personalities of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ on BBC1.

In addition they are 1st cousins 4 times removed of Woodrow Lyle Wyatt 1918 – 1997
MP and journalist (later Lord Wyatt of Weeford).

Married four times, a flamboyant character, described in his obituary by the Independent:- “Woodrow Wyatt always tried to live like a lord even when he was a Labour MP. He owned racehorses, drank on average nearly two bottles of wine a day until his doctor and his liver rebelled, and travelled politically from the soft left to the far right accompanied by a succession of beautiful women and a cloud of Havana cigar smoke.”


Not all families will have such an array of individuals as this, however I hope this brief case study of one single document, barely 2000 words long, has given you a glimpse of the type of approach I would take when tracing your ancestors and building a picture of your family history.


Feel free to contact me so we can discuss how I might be able to help you find out more about your ancestors and tell their story.



In producing this case study of the ‘Crossed Letter’ I have used the following source material:-

  • Military records held at The National Archive (TNA)
  • Caernarvonshire record office
  • Staffordshire record office
  • Burkes Landed Gentry 1875
  • William O’Byrne’s Naval Biographical Dictionary (published 1849)
  • Census returns 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  • Certificates for Birth Marriage and Death from General Register Office
  • Prerogative Court of Canterbury records held at TNA
  • Llandegai Church Bangor Caernarvonshire – Graveyard memorials
  • Various websites: FreeBMD, Ancestry, Findmypast.
  • Before the Penny Black by E and R Shanahan
  • The Rooms Provincial Archives Division St Johns Newfoundland
  • The Independent newspaper – archive

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