Saturday, 19 June 2010

An unsuccessful week

Ever had one of those family history weeks that starts out full of enthusiasm and ends up in disappointment?  Well this week was just that for me.

Following on from my discovery last week that the very record office that I needed to go to to find out about the career of my husband's ancestor, William Tell Milner, was only a minute away from where I have worked for the past 21 years (I would like to point out that I am not blind, merely that I have never approached the building along that particular road!), I took the brief walk on Monday lunchtime to the Post Office Archives

Things started very promisingly with a very helpful gentleman who got me signed in and pointed me in the right direction.  He started me off with searching the Pensions and Gratuities records from 1869 backwards as William had been born in 1808 and would normally have retired at the age of 60.  I also knew that in 1861 he was listed in the census as a Clerk in a Post Office Department, and by 1871 he was not employed so that all seemed to fall in to place. 

The records for that period are all on microfiche which was a real blast from the past as I've not used these for years and it brought back memories of straining my eyes at IGI fiche at the Society of Genealogists.  The writing was faded in places, but not so bad that you couldn't read it, and I worked my way backwards from his regulation retirement age back to when I knew he was still employed.  Not a sign...I went back and checked each page again, but still nothing.

Next lunchtime my new helpful friend suggested that as not everyone was eligible for a pension it might be worth checking the appointments records to see if William could be found at the start of his career.  This proved to be a bit of a problem as the Appointment Books only start in 1831, and employees would normally start at age 18, which for William would have been 5 years earlier.  I hoped that William might be a late started and checked from 1831 up to 1841 when I knew he was employed but nothing.

My final attempt for the week, was a check on whether maybe William had left his employment by dismissal rather than retiring.  Unfortunately the only records seem to be where there was legal action taken, and this option proved fruitless as well.

I'm not entirely sure where I go from here.  But I'm wondering whether I'll need to work out which office William was working in and see if there are any local records, and one thing that my friend did point out was that William described himself as a Clerk at the Post Office, rather than a Postman so maybe there was a Head Office nearby.

So I've ended this week with more questions than answers, just a typical family history week!

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