John's website

This page is devoted to the many facets of my family tree and history that I have uncovered so far as well as to some elements that are believed to be true but are yet to be confirmed. My immediate family is from various countries - Ireland, Switzerland and Germany, as well as England, with a possibility of some French ancestry too, making me a real mongrel.

The current tentacles of my tree now stretch around the globe, with cousins confirmed to be living today in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana and Denmark, as well as probably in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland and Germany. I've made contact with many of these distant cousins and, together, we've been able to identify many new twigs.

The extended tree has a few quite interesting characters and there are also some intriguing issues that attach to others. Some people may baulk at the idea of 'exposing' their ancestors' foibles but I find them fascinating;: what is a mad aunt or two between friends ?!

An overview of the Family

Most of my research to date has concentrated on my father's family. His parents were both born in England, and 3 of his grandparents also, making this a relatively easy line to follow back to the mid-1800s. Before this, however, matters become more complicated as 5 of his great grandparents were Irish and only 3 were born in England; the main line, the Browns, while almost certainly being of English origin, have proved very difficult to pin down. The background to this branch is the subject of one of the more detailed stories that can be accessed through the link below.

Within the English elements of my father's side of the family are some of the most interesting characters in my tree. John Thorburn who, though born in London as a son of a bookbinder, spent most of his life in Africa and became a close associate of the King of Swaziland; John Mitchell, born to a butler, trained as a grocer and straw bonnet maker, but ended his career as an Inspector in the City of London Police Force; Cornelius Traveller, a cabinet maker, born in London who converted to the Mormon faith, took his second wife and 2 children to the USA in 1854 and eventually became a High Priest in the Church of Latter Day Saints, City Treasurer and City Sexton in Richmond, Utah. More detailed stories of all of these characters are available below.

My mother's family is a very different matter. Her father, Josef Hänggi, was from Switzerland, probably somewhere in the Canton of Solothurn though exactly where is yet to be determined, and her mother, Anna Elisabeth Kuhn, was born in Heidelberg in Germany. It seems that mum's parents never imparted very much in the way of family knowledge and it wasn't until I began to investigate that we found out anything. Anna apparently came to England in 1884 and Josef supposedly at the end of the 19th century, however, firm evidence is lacking. Josef's antecedents are still unknown, but Anna's background has been partially uncovered and is the subject of one of the stories below.

My Family Stories

My Family Tree

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Having been undertaking genealogical research for a considerable number of years, I've come across and used many different websites that have been most helpful. For anyone with a similar interest but less experience, the link below will take you to a listing of some of the most important sites. Many others are listed in my 'Genealogy Help' Blog which can be accessed from my home page.

My Genealogy Links