Thomson Family History

Every family has stories to tell… these are the stories of my ancestors.

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I was born in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, when it was a territory of Australia, to Australian parents working there. We lived all around New Guinea then came back to Australia – to Daly Waters, in the Northern Territory, to Darwin, to Adelaide, to Melbourne, to Queensland, then back to Melbourne, which I have called home ever since. I have vague wisps of memories of my paternal grandparents, none of my maternal grandmother, and very loving memories of my Dandan, my maternal grandfather.

I think because I felt as though we didn’t have any extended family, I wondered about who they had been and what they had done – parts of their genes still existing within me.

So about 30 years ago I started looking into my family history. Tapping into a rich network of researchers looking at one branch, I was surprised to find out I was descended from convicts on my father’s side! Then in a conversation with my mother’s uncle he warned me off investigating our tree – saying that “the dead should be left buried, and their secrets with them.” Well… rather than a disincentive, this was like a red rag to a bull, and I was determined to find out what secrets there were!

Over the years I have uncovered many. However their secrets need to be examined in the context of the times in which they lived, and their circumstances. Over the years, I have met wonderful people, relatives and not, who are part of the genealogical community. I’ve been given help and helped others, and this is one of the joys of this past time.

And then came DNA testing. Brick walls have crumbled, new family discovered, it’s been a great ride!

So here we are, starting the process of documenting all that I have so that it’s all together somewhere safe.

This is my basic family tree on Ancestry:

Eventually I’ll get to everyone, but for now, to start with, I am travelling up my paternal grandmother’s line (Mabel Louise Guy), to her grandparents William Walter Guy and Isabella Hockey. I’m starting with Isabella’s grandparents John Barfoot and Elizabeth Church – which was what we thought her name was until a few years ago, when her descendants started taking DNA tests and questions started to be asked.

Click here to follow the story of my 4th great-grandmother, the elusive Elizabeth Church, and 4th great-grandfather, the almost as elusive John Barefoot!

Please note: the information on these web pages has been gathered by many people (including me) over many years- this is just the culmination of all their work. If there is something in here you believe is wrong – please contact me! Or even better – if you have MORE information, or different information, please contact me!

Acknowledging those researchers without whom we would not have the information we have today: Laurel Merritt, Jennifer Burrell, and Fred Rosewarne, all of whom I had contact with in the early 1980s, before Ancestry, yea even before the internet! Using pen and paper, microfiche and … books… we pieced together the bones of what I am presenting to you on these pages. It was hard work! Harold Frazer’s photo collection has also been fantastic in putting together all the known photos of our ancestors on that side. I wish there were clones on all sides of my family but alas no!

In the last five years, Karen King-Cain, Julie Allen and I, with others, have tried to put together the pieces of our common story with the help of DNA. Karen’s persistence in the face of disbelief has brought us to where we are today with Elizabeth’s story. While we will probably never know all the details, the story remains incomplete, and I hope that our descendants will add to it when they can.


January 2021