Saturday, April 9, 2011

Genes Across the Pacific

Three sons of John Thwaites emigrated from Yorkshire in the early 20th Century.

Robert “Ernest” (1879-1947) migrated to Queensland, Australia, in 1913.

Francis “Frank” William (1883-1954) migrated to Seattle, USA, in 1907.

John “Jack” Rayner (1895-1975) migrated to Canada about 1914.

My only trace of Jack, so far, is the record of his enlistment in the Canadian Expeditionary Force to fight in World War 1. He enlisted in Winnipeg, Manitoba  in 1916, age 22 and occupation listed as “farm labourer”, giving Phoebe Thwaites in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire as his next of kin.  He had occasional contact with Ernest and Francis at least up to the 1930s, but I have so far found no record of Jack’s later life nor whether he has descendants in Canada or elsewhere.

I’ve recently established contact with Frank’s grandson, Christopher Thwaites (1947), who lives in Northern California and shares an interest in Thwaites family history.  Chris has sent me a trove of family photographs, which I have scanned and can be viewed in these web albums:

Chris also sent me copies of UK census records for the families of George and John Thwaites’ as recorded each ten years from 1841 to 1901. He and his wife Ruth had obtained these on a visit to Yorkshire.

The census records give leads to many other searches that I will write up as I find out more about where and how the family lived.  To start with, the census provided the clue that Ernest and Frank did indeed have, apart from Eva, two other sisters who died in childhood while the family was living in Batley: Eleanor (1880-1887 – between Ernest and Frank) and Elizabeth Emma (1886-1889 – between Frank and Eva). 

Looking through Chris’s photographs I was struck with how genes can persist in family likenesses, though separated by oceans and diluted by generations. Click here  to view an album in which I have matched up photographs from our two family branches, showing brothers Ernest and Frank, then their sons Michael and Donald, through various stages of their lives.  This album also has groups of the next generation of both Australian and American branches of the family.

If you have any comment, notice any inaccuracy, or have any suggestions about where more information might be found about Jack in Canada, please leave a comment in the box or email me.

Please note also that the list of George Thwaites' descendants in the earlier post "Seven Generations of  Thwaites" has been updated with a lot more information about Yorkshire and USA family. 

The next post will be putting together some of the story gleaned from the census and online births, deaths and marriages records that are freely available online. For me, this is a treasure hunt. 


  1. Christopher Jason Thwaites was born 1968 in Ogden, Utah but currently lives in Santa Rosa, Ca; Joshua Kai Thwaites was born in 1974 in Ogden, Utah but currently lives in Santa Rosa, Ca; Joshua's daughter, Mara Kai Thwaites Albers was born in 1998 (not 1996)

    1. Ellen - thanks for these corrections. I've been neglecting this blog for a while but am getting back to it.