Open source genealogy

Out of curiosity I thought I’d see what I could find out about John Moncur, who was a Royal Navy Master and Commander at the end of the eighteenth century, and who just possibly might be an ancestor of mine, using only openly available databases and freely available digitised documents – and this is what I came up with:

  • John Moncur is listed as a Royal Navy commander gazetted in 1796 in the 1812 Gentlemen’s and Citizen’s Almanack Dublin. (digitised via Google Books)
  • He is also listed as a serving  master and commander of a Royal Navy ship in the New Jamaica Almanack of 1801. (digitised via Google Books)
  • The 1802 navy list gives his commission date at 22 July 1796 (Hathi Trust public search)
  • Previously listed in the Universal Directory of 1790 as a Lieutenant, first commissioned in 1779 suggesting he was approximately 36 when commissioned as a lieutenant. (digitised via Google Books)
  • Not listed as taking part in Battle of Trafalgar (UK National Archives Trafalgar Database)
  • Recorded in the Gentleman’s magazine as dying at Greenwich 5 April 1814 at the age of 71, suggesting he was born in 1742 or 1743 (digitised via Google Books)

What I havn’t been able to find (yet) is where he was stationed or what ships he was master of. Some inconclusive googling suggests he wasn’t attached to the West Africa (or anti slave trade) squadron, as his name does not appear on any of the crew lists for these ships between 1808 and 1814.

However, I’ve not been able to identify all ships involved with any certainty or find complete crew lists for the ships I could identify. I’m sure the information is held in the UK national archives or maritime museum, but may not be available online.

On the other hand, what it does show is that with two or three hours fiddling about with google search terms you can come up with quite a reasonable amount of information …

[update]

and with a little more fiddling I find:

  • Listed in Naval Chronicle (1803) as an Agent Afloat attached to HMS Thalia
    • (an Agent Afloat managed the hire and use of merchant ships co-opted as naval transports for men and supplies)
  • Listed as Commander HMS Thalia between November 1801 and May 1803
    • HMS Thalia listed as being sent to the West Indies

which is potentially interesting …

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About dgm

IT professional, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical and medieval historian ...
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One Response to Open source genealogy

  1. Pingback: Open source genealogy–lessons learned | stuff 'n other stuff

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