Monday, July 13, 2009


Some people might say something like this. But, generally, they don't do it. However, according to an article of the Daily Telegraph of Sidney, Australia, not only many genealogies have criminals in their stories; even the ex-Prime Minister, John Howard, who finished his period in 2007, has some criminal ancestors in his own. His father Lyall Howard's maternal great-great-grandfather William Tooley was convicted of complicity in the theft of a tortoiseshell watch and transported for life on the ship Fanny in 1816. This is not surprising: between 1788 and 1868, being still Australia a British colony, more than 150,000 convicts were transported to Australia to accomplish with their sentences. In 1851 gold mines were discovered in Australia, and then they stop to send convicts to the country. Why the convicts should be rewarded working on gold mines? Society of Australian Genealogists executive officer Heather Garnsey said many family tree enthusiasts were keen to find a link to a convict when researching their backgrounds. It's important to mention that those "crimes" at that age, could be our "misdemeanors" today, like to steal a piece of bread, to cut a tree, or to steal poultry from a farm. But certainly also were, amongst them, real criminals and murders. Mrs. Garnsey tells us that years before, australian society used to reject to talk about this past. But around 1980 "it became a badge of honor". Now the families take the approach with very good sense of humour: they use to say that, for them, the convict period it's the equivalent of royalty. It wouldn't be a bad idea if we dare to reward with a badge of honor, and all our affection, to all this people who can show publicly their hidden and embarrasing ancestors. Genealogy is in permanent transformation and evolution, and should become a modern, efficient, proactive, and... thrilling discipline.

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