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Proformat News
No: 64
June 2011
June seminars
None programmed at this time.

July seminars
 4: Tracing your Scottish ancestors, Payneham Library, 6:30 to 8:30pm
22: Identifying and dating old photographs Mt Gambier 12:00–1:00pm Unlock the Past Event Mt Gambier
22: SA's major archives for family historians 2:25–3:25pm Unlock the Past Event Mt Gambier
27: Introduction to FH research (over 7 weeks with sessions of 1.5 hrs each) 8:00–9:30pm WEA Centre Adelaide
30: Practical Genealogy for Family Historians Session 1: Accessing the primary research stream—the family 10:15am–4:45pm State Library for Flinders University

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

NSW BDM Registry access
The NSW Registry has removed the wildcard search facility from the their Internet index search. Wildcard * searching is an extremely useful search strategy when dealing with names that have a potential to be spelt in several ways. For example, Ann could be listed as Ann, Anne or Annie. With the wildcard the search provided a search for Ann* and it would bring up all possibilities. The only way around this is to search each variation of a name. Sometimes a wildcard reveals a typo and any other variation that may not have been considered. The broader ? replacement is still allowed such as in Clark?. This only provides one replacement letter and more importantly does not allow for a no letter search. Thus a Clark? search, for example, will not produce Clark.

In this issue:
June seminars
July seminars
NSW BDM Registry access
Great Central State
13th Australasian Congress

Feature article
Land and the General Registry Office


Graham Jaunay
Adelaide Proformat

Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465

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Great Central State
Book reviews in this newsletter are unexpected, but the following is included because it is simply a good read about a subject of great interest to South Australian historians.

Great Central State: the foundation of the Northern Territory, by Jack Cross was released in April after some forty years of off and on research on the subject by the author. Professor Cross is well placed to write on this topic and such a book is long overdue. Of course the foundation of the Territory cannot be examined without addressing the role of the host colony South Australia. Jack Cross writes in a style that makes for easy reading while never compromising on scholarship.

The role of the leaders in South Australian politics and the public service and the methodology they employed to manage South Australia and their relationships with one another, their masters in the mother country and their subordinates within South Australia and the Northern Territory are closely examined to reveal their strengths, weaknesses and vacillations.

The much maligned Boyle Travers Finniss and his role in the first failed attempt at settlement in the north rightfully gains a reprieve under the Cross pen. Finniss was the scapegoat for the failed northern capital of Palmerston on the Adelaide River and unfortunately the government did a good job ensuring he alone remained accountable for the bungling well into recent times!

While the book covers a serious topic the writing style is far removed from that of a stodgy history textbook fixated on the European viewpoint. If you buy any book this year, then Great Central State should feature high on your list of considerations.

13th Australasian Congress

The 13th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry will be held in Adelaide 28 to 31 March 2012. The registration booklet is now being circulated and should be available online at the Congress web site shortly. You can also ask for a copy from Genealogy SA (the SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society Inc).

Keynote speakers
Colleen Fitzpatrick Jenny Higgins David Holman
Daniel Horowitz John Kitzmiller Paul Nixon
Daniel Poffenberger Stephen Young  

Supporting speakers
Barbara Baker Anne Burrows Jenny Carter John Coldwell Kath Ensor
Kerry Farmer Jan Gow Elspeth Grant Shauna Hicks Heidi Ing
Stephanie James Graham Jaunay Roger Kershaw Todd Knowles Noeline Kyle
Janette Lange & Lois Zweck Jan Lokan Suzanne Maiden Anitta Maksymowicz Mike Murray
Diane Oldman Sue Reid Lesley Silvester Chris Watts  

Land and the General Registry Office

Since this resource was mentioned in Newsletter 12 in 2007, it has moved to Building 4A at 300 Richmond Road Netley SA 5037. It is located in the store previously occupied by State Records before it moved to its own building at Gepps Cross.

The GRO holds records relating to land transactions from the establishment of South Australia until 1858. Any new parcels of land transacted after 1858 should be under the Real Property Act and those records should be at the Lands Titles Office (LTO). However, for all parcels of land owned prior to 1858, the records may remain at the GRO as the land concerned may still not have been brought under the Real Property Act because there was no compulsion to do so until the Real Property Act (Registration of Titles) Act of 1945. In spite of the 1945 Act, the author has been reliably informed that there are still parcels of land outside the Real Property Act. It is therefore important that if research fails to locate a land ownership record in the index at the LTO, that a similar search be made in the indexes at the GRO. Clearly the nearer the research window is to 1858, the more likely a visit to the GRO is required.

The present day location of the GRO is not all that obvious to the visitor and one should note the location carefully.

Essentially the GRO registers deeds and under the system used prior to the introduction of the Torrens Title System, it was through deeds that land ownership changed hands. In simple terms a deed is an any agreement between parties and can be devolved for any number of reasons. The role of the GRO was to give deeds a legal status. Thus the deed was the traditional way of passing land from one owner to another. In fact when it comes to land, deeds could be arranged to cover mortgages, leases, Wills, probate and the like as well. Not only did the Torrens Title System streamline all this process, but it linked the ownership of a parcel of land to one legally recognised document called a Title. It also overcame the problem under the old system where buyers had to go to expensive lengths to satisfy themselves the seller was legally entitled to do so! Each time land was sold or mortgaged, a separate deed had to drawn up. Proof of ownership required the tedious examination of a series of deeds, known as a chain of deeds.

The process of giving a deed legal status was by a process called memorialisation that produced a document called a memorial that was in effect a summary of the deed concerned. Accessing the memorial does not give access to the document, but just a seven column form as illustrated. The columns were headed:
1. Date of the instrument.
2. Name of Parties.
3. Name of Witnesses.
4. Nature of Instrument.
5. Description of the property conveyed.
6. (If a conveyance or mortgage) consideration, and how paid: or if a lease the amount of rent.
7. Any other particulars the case may require.
All need to be read carefully and the reader may find difficulty with the handwriting.

For example, as mentioned above, the deed could in fact be a Will involving land and the associated memorial the researcher can access will not be a copy of the Will, but the memorial detailing the property.

The memorials held at the GRO are held in 536 hefty books linked to even heftier index books. The researcher locates the person of interest in the index books noting in fact that all the persons with common names may be lumped together on the one page of the index. The reference in the index will lead the researcher to the appropriate microfilm as the memorial books are not accessed by the public. The facility exists to take a copy of the memorial for the rather strange sum of $8.10. A hint is to ask the staff (nicely) if they will make the copy for you. They have a far better copying machine and you will secure a much better version as featured below. (Memorial 240/281 which means it is #240 in Book 281)

While at the GRO the visitor should also check the other significant group of records known as deposits. These records cover land grants as well as a range of other agreements and fall into two groups. Enrolments are exact copies of any document that has been registered, whereas a deposit is either the original or a certified copy that has been lodged for safe keeping. This facility owes its origins to Statute 27 Henry VIII (ie a law introduced by Henry 8 in the 27th year of his reign (1563) and enrolment comes from the fact that the record was copied into a roll.

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