Over 50s Lifestyle Tell Us About..

Family History – Discovering a Surprise Ancestor

March 21, 2024

It’s time for this month’s Tell Us About…. a link up hosted by some lovely ladies (including me) from all over the world. You can see who they are at the end of the post and I encourage you to visit their blogs and check out what they have written for this month’s prompt.

Each month one of the members selects a topic/prompt and this month it is Tell Us About……Family History This month’s prompt was suggested by the lovely Jill from Grownup Glamour and during my research I discovered a surprise ancestor.

Family History

Do you wonder about your ancestors? Have you ever been interested in Genealogy and tracing your Family Tree? I have to admit one needs patience and perhaps an investigative mind. I’ve been fortunate that two cousins from each side of my family have done the hard yards and research. It is a fascinating subject for sure.

My family history is mainly Anglo/Saxon with a Scottish Lord thrown in and a couple of notable ancestors. I have English, Welsh, Scottish heritage on both sides of my family.

Although my parents died many years ago, I have photos of them when they were younger which I treasure. Dad and Mum married during WWII whilst he was home on leave from Papua New Guinea.

I’m the middle child of William and Daphne Roberts and was born in 1957 and had an older brother and have one younger sister. My last surviving grandparent, Myrtle Theresa Elmer died in 1956 so I grew up without grandparents. Both of my parents died in their 60s. Dad in 1981 5 weeks before the birth of my first child and Mum in 1986 after a very long battle with breast cancer. My brother died 6 years ago at age 65 and I’ve lost touch with my sister which is the way families go sometimes.

As I get older I become more interested in my family background and it is a pity I didn’t ask more questions of Mum and Dad whilst they were alive. Recently I was contacted by Our Public Records who have just created a great guide to help people interview their elderly family members for genealogical research, and how to get the best experience and understanding from those interviews. You can see it here: https://ourpublicrecords.org/interview-elderly-relatives/

Our Public Records have also just launched a massive free database of last names of people in the US and have collected records of over 162000 names to help users find information such as origins, genealogy, etc. https://ourpublicrecords.org/  Apparently I have some ancestors who were doctors and left England to help in the American Civil War. I will use these records to find more information about them.

In a recent podcast for Women Living Well After 50, I interviewed author, Carolyn Tate and we discussed the importance of writing our story. We might not think we have an interesting story but to our family and future generations it is a link to who we are. I have letters that my Nan wrote to my Mum when she was in hospital after the birth of my brother. I have letters my Mother wrote to my cousin.

Another letter written by my Mum to her Aunt describes the weeks leading up to her wedding. She is thankful for the gift of an embroidered handkerchief (such a small thing by today’s standards). Apparently the Hall where they were to have their wedding reception had been taken over by the British for the English soldiers to sleep and Mum was concerned about where they would find an alternative. Fortunately, they found somewhere else, enjoyed their reception and then Dad was back to PNG and the War.

The letters give me an insight into their daily lives.

From Scotland to Tasmania via New Zealand

My maternal great-great-grandfather was John Jennings Imrie born 1st June 1813 in Castlehill, Ayrshire and a descendent of an old race of Scottish Lords. He attended Oxford Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons. Known for his service as a medical officer, he served with the 42nd Highlanders in India and was noted for his bravery in leading a charge after all other officers were either killed or wounded, which may have earned him a medal for bravery.

After his military service he and his wife emigrated to New Zealand and then later to Australia where he continued his medical practice and served as a medical officer for convicts at Maria Island and Ross in Tasmania before retiring to Queensland.  

Family History John Jennings Imrie

Family History – Discovering a Surprise Ancestor

Last year, Australia held Australian Indigenous Voice referendum to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Unfortunately, this was not successful however it did open up discussions around the First Nations Peoples of Australia. I’m not going into the politics of it all but a surprising outcome for me was the discovery of a surprise ancestor in my family tree. I was having a discussion about the referendum with my cousin who mentioned in passing ‘did you know you have Aboriginal heritage’?

Have you seen the television series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Celebrities look back at their ancestory and are usually surprised at what they find. This happened to me recently – ‘no I’m not a celebrity and I wasn’t on the TV show’ but I did find a surprise ancestor.

I had told my cousin about the Tell Us About Prompt for this month and she said ‘You should write about Dolly Dalarymple’. I had forgotten about Dolly and her relationship to me or her importance in Tasmanian history.

Who was Dolly Dalrymple?

Dolly Dalrymple (c.1808-1864), Aboriginal matriarch, was born in the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait, daughter of George Briggs, a sealer from Bedfordshire, England, and Worrete-moete-yenner (also known as Pung or Margaret), who was the daughter of Mannarlargenna, a chieftain from the north-east of Van Diemen’s Land who led the Cape Portland people. Mannarlargenna is an interesting character (Dolly’s grandfather) and one I would like to learn more about.

Dolly Dalrymple, the daughter of Worrete-moete-yenner, is generally recognised as the first mixed-race person in Van Diemen’s Land. Dalrymple was raised in Launceston by Dr Jacob Mountgarrett and his wife Bridget. They named her Dalrymple, after the entrance to the Tamar, Port Dalrymple. She later formed a relationship with ex-convict Thomas Johnson. Dalrymple and Johnson had thirteen children and became wealthy landowners. Mervyn Gower and Diana Wyllie are descendants.

Source: State Library of Tasmania. Tasmanian Communities Online, Latrobe Online Access Centre. http://www.tco.asn.au/oac/community_history.cgi?oacID=24&articleID=181302 (Sighted 1/4/11)

Dolly and her children were attacked when Johnson was away, and became celebrated as word spread of this ‘admirable half-caste’ who held out in a six-hour siege until Johnson returned. She was rewarded with a land grant of 20 acres in Perth and allowed to marry Johnson. Later, Dolly and her husband opened a public house on the banks of the Mersey River, and her mother was allowed to leave Wybalenna to live with them.

I will be delving further into the past thanks to this prompt for Tell Us About and exploring the possibilities associated with DNA testing.

Family History

Have you delved into your Family History? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences.

Until next time….

Sue Loncaric

Tell Us About….Contributors

Gail from Is This Mutton Gail from Is This Mutton was an early uploader of DNA to find more ancestors. Has it worked?  Find her post at  https://www.isthismutton.com 

Deb from Deb’s World (Australia) – Unexpected visitors have led to an unexpected, and surprising, family history connection.  Cue lots of information flowing backwards and forwards and DNA testing done now awaiting results.    Find her post at https://www.debs-world.com

Suzy from Suzy Turner  (Brit living in Portugal) – Suzy uncovers her ancestor Sammy Morton, revealing a surprising past that inspires her creative ventures and sparks connections to pop culture icons like Adam Ant. Find her post on her updated blog https://www.suzyturner.com/family-history

Marsha, from Marsha In the Middle  – Marsha’s great-great-uncle was the eleventh President of the United States, she thinks.  She also thinks her dad could have gotten into West Point if only her Grandma Rose had pulled some strings.  Read more about what Marsha thinks she knows on her blog! Find her post at https://marshainthemiddle.com/ .

Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper – Penny goes slightly left field and instead of writing about a distant ancestor found in the family tree she tells us about the process of writing a story about her mother, and a mystery….. She hopes that this qualifies as family history! Find her post at https://frugalfashionshopper.co.uk/

Australian blogger Jill from Grownup GlamourJill explores my family roots and like many Australian families there is a mix of early free settlers and convicts. Find her post at https://grown-upglamour.com

Tell Us About... Family History

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Thistles and Kiwis March 21, 2024 at 09:44

    You are the only other person I know who never met their grandparents. How fascinating to discover some unexpected heritage!
    A distant cousin and I have done a fair bit of delving into family history on my mother’s side and have not uncovered anything exciting (or rather, unknown) so far. My dad’s ancestry is documented by the family in Poland – long story as to why – but there is a title, Orla, which is a sort of hereditary knighthood, so the papers are important, now historically.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 21, 2024 at 12:03

      How interesting is your Dad’s ancestry, Barbara. I know there is much more to mine but finding the time to read up on all the different family members is the problem. I’m surprised that you haven’t met anyone else who never met their grandparents. Not knowing mine has made me determined to have a special relationship with my grandsons so they will definitely remember their ‘Nan’. Have a lovely week. x

  • Reply marsha57 March 21, 2024 at 13:26

    I have a feeling many of our posts are going to be similar to yours, Sue! I know mine is. I am now rather intrigued with delving as far back as I can go into my family. It’s a bit of a slog, though. And, like you, I am the oldest generation of my family on both sides (well, I have siblings and cousins, too). I am going to share part of my post with my kids because I want them to know part of this weird story of mine!

    Good luck with your search!


    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 21, 2024 at 16:29

      Yes, I think I should share with my children as well. Good luck with your search too! I’d like to find out more about my US connections x

  • Reply Debbie March 21, 2024 at 14:35

    This was so interesting Sue and what a surprise to find Dolly as an ancestor! You might benefit from doing a DNA test as you mentioned, I’m eagerly awaiting my results now. I am impressed with all the details you’ve found and wish you well on finding out more! Another great prompt for Tell Us About!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 21, 2024 at 16:28

      Yes, I’m sure the DNA isn’t hard to do and would be so interesting. Can’t wait to hear the results of yours. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones March 21, 2024 at 14:37

    My favourite topic Sue! Isn’t it amazing what you find when you go digging into the past and the records. I am also mainly English, Welsh and Scottish. One of my maternal lines was also from Bedfordshire, so I’ve done a lot of study and writing about the area. I was shocked when I read that you had a family connection to Dolly. Over the years, there has been much written about her and I am sure I have read it all. Her story is amazing and it’s only been fairly recently that it’s been told.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 21, 2024 at 16:27

      Hi Jen, I couldn’t find too much on Dolly, although my cousin might have more information packed away. Any ideas you could send me would be most welcomed. x

  • Reply Linda Curry March 21, 2024 at 18:42

    Here’s a link to my surprise discovery.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 22, 2024 at 10:38

      Hi Linda, I just read your post and yes what a surprise discovery you made!!! I find Family History fascinating and you never know what you are going to turn up. x

  • Reply thegreybrunette2bba7975cb March 21, 2024 at 19:01

    Dolly Dalrymple sounds like an amazing woman! I hope you manage to find out more about her, Sue! What an incredible woman to be related to.
    Suzy xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 22, 2024 at 10:39

      Hi Suzy, my cousin has more information but couldn’t get it to me in time for the post. I also had another blogger comment that she has read quite a bit about Dolly Dalrymple so it will be great to chat to her as well. x

  • Reply Suzanne@PictureRetirement March 21, 2024 at 22:59

    Sue, this is fascinating and I can imagine where it might lead should you take the time to dive deeper. I have done the DNA testing and have Irish, Scottish, and English decendents, which makes sence considering Florida was occupied by the English who imported Scottish and Irish settlers to work the land. Beyond who and where I came from, I haven’t made the time to discover. It sounds too much like a full time job. Thanks for sharing this. It was very interesting to read.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 22, 2024 at 10:40

      This prompt was very fascinating Suzanne and I intend to do more research when I have time LOL 🙂 Fortunately, my cousins have done most of the heavy lifting in research.

  • Reply Gail Is This Mutton March 22, 2024 at 02:05

    Fascinating Sue to hear you have native Australian ancestry through Dolly Dalrymple! I have gone back a few centuries with my family tree on both sides but haven’t unearthed anyone very interesting, except for a great great grandfather who changed his surname after going missing without leave from the military. I had always wondered why males on the paternal side always have “Carstairs” in their names, and that’s why, because it was our original surname!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 22, 2024 at 10:42

      I really enjoyed this prompt, Gail and the posts all of us have written. x

  • Reply Retirement Reflections March 22, 2024 at 08:01

    Hi, Sue – Dolly Dalrymple sounds incredible. Thank you for sharing her story here — and your relation to her.
    When I was still working I was sure that I would spend much time figuring out my family tree once I retired. I did spend a bit of time on this a few years back but quickly ran out of steam. It may be a good time for me to revisit this. <3

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 22, 2024 at 10:43

      It is very time consuming Donna and I’ve left that to my cousins who have done a fabulous job. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee March 22, 2024 at 15:21

    How interesting!! And exciting for you to have a project to investigate further. Not your point but I’m always astounded women had 13 (or more) chuildren back then when medicine was so primative – the wear and tear on the woman’s body must have been horrendeous. I love that she held her ground…how awful they waited for her husband to be away to attack! #TrafficjamReboot

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 22, 2024 at 17:31

      I know, Lydia. I can’t imagine those women’s bodies by the 13th child! My Dad was one of 9. Two was enough for me LOL 🙂

  • Reply grownupglamour1 March 22, 2024 at 18:48

    Sue , I found your family history fascinating and your great, great grandfather and my convict ancestors may have crossed paths as some were in the Ross area.
    I do know of Dolly Dalrymple . There is a timber cottage at Latrobe on the Mersey River that was their home I believe and there is a plaque with her story. I think the house was actually moved there.
    Family history is so interesting isn’t it . Fortunately for me a distant relative and my sister did the hard work.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 25, 2024 at 09:05

      Hi Jill, I didn’t know about the timber cottage in Latrobe. It is a shame as we visited Tassie in 2022 and at the time I didn’t know about Dolly. We did visit Ross though. Family history is so interesting but as you say it’s great to have others do the hard work as it can be very time consuming. x

  • Reply Toni Pike March 25, 2024 at 14:09

    Completely fascinating and absorbing, Sue – a hobby that that never ends

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 1, 2024 at 09:46

      Yes it certainly is a very time consuming and addictive hobby, isn’t it, Toni? x

  • Reply Janine March 26, 2024 at 14:44

    Hi Sue – what an interesting mix of ancestors in your family. It will be valuable to record your heritage for the next generations, as details and memories become lost and forgotten. You will definitely have some stories to write about I’m sure.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 1, 2024 at 09:48

      Hi Janine, it is fascinating and I’m looking forward to discovering more about the Tasmanian Indigineous line. x

  • Reply Lisa R. Howeler March 29, 2024 at 11:18

    Sue, I have been researching my family’s history for a couple of
    years now and a few months ago I did a DNA test and found some distant cousins. I also found out we have a very tiny percentage of African blood in our family – mixed in with Scottish, Irish and mostly English. Through more research we learned my mom’s side of the family were descendents of slave owners, which was hard to see. We now wonder where that small percentage of African DNA came from and would like my mom to be tested to see if that amount would get larger the further back we go.

    I find ancestry fascinating and plan to keep exploring and learning more in the next few months.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 1, 2024 at 10:08

      Hi Lisa, the whole family history journey is fascinating isn’t it? My cousin had her DNA tested and found South African blood we also have similar backgrounds to you. It is quite exciting isn’t it? x

      • Reply Lisa R. Howeler April 4, 2024 at 04:18

        It is very exciting and interesting. I don’t think it should necessarily change us in a bad way, but it does help to understand certain things – even medical conditions we have or family traditions we didn’t understand. I have some more digging to do this week. It should be fun.

        • Reply Sue Loncaric April 4, 2024 at 10:32

          Yes, Lisa a great point about the medical conditions – love that and completely missed that out in my thinking process. x

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