Welcome to BobAnderson.co.uk - My Family History website
This website is dedicated to the memory of my ancestors, particularly those family members of humble stock who, imbued with pioneering spirit and a desire to improve their lot, emigrated from the United Kingdom to New Zealand at various times in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In deciding to do so, they were faced with a long and perhaps perilous voyage and, indeed, two did die at sea before reaching their destination. They must have known too that it was unlikely they would ever be able to return to their homeland if the promise of a better life in New Zealand were to be unfulfilled.
The site is also intended to serve as a tribute to the son and four grandsons of my great grandparents, Henry James and Emily Ann Ford, who answered the call to fight for their mother country, Britain, and her then empire and were killed in the two world wars. The five who died, all of whom were born in New Zealand, were my great uncle, William Alexander Ford, my first cousins once removed, William Thomas Faull, Henry James Faull and Henry William Carmichael Wood, and my uncle and godfather, John Glen McCauley. Further information may be found in the McCauley family section of the site. The ceramic poppies in the photograph opposite were originally part of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation that progressively filled the moat of the Tower of London between July and November 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war. The total of 888,246 poppies placed there represented the number of British and Empire servicemen who died in world war 1. One of the poppies was bought in memory of the above-mentioned family members who died in both world wars and the other in memory of my wife's grandfather and his brother who died on the Somme in 1916.
I, Robert (Bob) John Anderson, was born in Wanganui, New Zealand but came to the U.K. in May/ June 1967 on board the liner Achille Lauro. My ship was one of the last to navigate the Suez Canal before the outbreak of the six-day war between Egypt and Israel. I then settled in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire where I still live with my wife Elizabeth (Liz). Our three children, their spouses and five grandchildren also reside in the U.K.
What then kindled my interest in family history? It all started in 1992 when I began an investigation into the ancestry of my paternal grandmother, born Florence Britton, who was abandoned as a four-month-old baby in Yorkshire. She later sailed to N.Z., meeting my grandfather, Alfred Anderson, on the voyage. The fascinating facts I established about Florence’s background and her forebears, particularly the life of her grandfather, Charles Thomas, although leaving key questions unanswered, encouraged me to extend my research to other branches of my family, particularly the McCauleys from Northern Ireland, the Gadds from Somerset and the Andersons, originating in Scotland.
I have organised the site into sections based on the three main parts of my family history research:
The Anderson family (my father's ancestors)
The McCauley family (my mother's ancestors)
The Britton family (a separate section on the mystery of the ancestry of my paternal grandmother, Florence Britton)
Use the navigation links at the top of the page to explore my research. For each section, there is an introduction page, a full history and a gallery of images.
One of the main purposes of this website is to encourage contact with others who may have links with my family and forebears. Surnames that feature prominently in my family history include the following: Anderson (Perthshire, Edinburgh and London); McCauley, Donaldson and McCausland (Tyrone, Northern Ireland); Britton (Buckinghamshire, Denbighshire and Shropshire); Thomas (Hampshire, Ireland and Sussex); Ford (London); Gadd and Cox (Somerset); Veitch (Edinburgh); Williams and Tricker (Suffolk); Boodle (Shropshire); Freestone (Yorkshire).
A highlight of the website is film footage from a carnival held in Eltham, New Zealand, on Boxing Day 1911, featuring my grandfather, George Thomas McCauley, winning the 2 foot world chopping championship. A gold medal awarded for this feat was stolen from my home in Burton-on-Trent during a burglary in 1985 and I would obviously be extremely pleased to hear from anyone who may have acquired this medal or knows of its whereabouts.
If you feel that your family and ancestors may be connected in some way with mine, please contact me.
I would be particularly interested to hear from any descendants of those members of my family living in the 19th and early 20th centuries who decided to stay on in Northern Ireland, England or Scotland rather than emigrate to New Zealand and Australia. It is possible, of course, that some may have emigrated to other parts of the world and I do know, for example, that one great-uncle, Ernest Robert Anderson, settled in the U.S.A. in 1905.
My research has already enabled me to make contact with and meet living relatives that I did not previously know about and there must be more of you out there.
I would also like to hear from anyone who knew or served with my uncle, Flying Officer John Glen McCauley, who was lost when the Handley Page Harrow in which he was a passenger crashed over the Bay of Biscay on 19th December 1942 en route from Cornwall to Gibraltar during the second world war.
One final plea. I know I may be clutching at straws, when all those directly involved are long since dead, but if any person with the surname Britton, Thomas or Freestone believes that he or she has ancestors linked in some way with my grandmother, Florence Britton, and can perhaps shed even a glimmer of light on the circumstances leading to her abandonment in 1881, do please make contact.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the large amounts of data and interesting photographs provided by numerous other members of the various branches of my family. This has helped to fill many of the gaps in my knowledge of my family history.
In 2017, I had a hardback book published on my family history for giving to members of my family. This is based largely on the information and photos to be found on this website but also includes the letters written to my mother by my uncle, John Glen McCauley, and his wife, Dorothy, prior to and during the second world war. The book was designed by my niece, Sarah Elworthy, who lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
In January 2019, I had an Ancestry DNA test done which gave the following results for my “Ethnicity Estimate”:
England, Wales and Northwestern Europe (more specifically Southern England): 51%
Ireland and Scotland (more specifically Central Scotland and Ulster): 38%
Germanic Europe: 3%
These results are entirely consistent with what I have learned about my family history, with no great surprises. A list of people who too have had their DNA tested, and whose results showed a close match to mine, was also provided by Ancestry.com. Top of the list was John Crone, the son of Trevor and Quita Crone, who was correctly identified as my first cousin. Patricia Fuller, the daughter of Leslie Anderson, was also correctly identified as my second cousin. A number of other cousins whom I knew about were also listed. All this was very reassuring and gave confidence in the accuracy of DNA testing. However, a slight surprise was the naming of Jim Hight, second on the list, as a first or second cousin when my records indicated him to be a second cousin. In my subsequent communications with John Crone and Jim Hight, a family scandal that I was completely unaware of came to light. Further details of what emerged as a rather sad story are given in the McCauley section of this website (see George Thomas McCauley And His Family).
An Overview - The Robert John Anderson Pedigree Charts
The fan chart and word document below give an overview of my family history and are good places to start when reviewing my research. Single click on the fan chart below for a clearer view. For detail on the individual branches of my family, use the links in the menu above.
Robert John Anderson Pedigree Chart (MS Word file - 87kB)