Jerry Hall’s episode
During Jerry Hall’s truly wonderful episode, the card James Hall sent to his future second wife Parthenia ( Jerry’s great grandmother) identifies him as a man of the utmost charm, confidence and humour, as well as being brave, strong, intelligent and a railroad man!
Surely his railroad records (if any) might reveal what a special man he was? Surely Jerry can’t wait to go back again and do some more digging? The same applies to Parthenia’s ancestor Humphrey Best. With a name like that he must have come from England. Jerry, please start at Kentucky and work backwards! Andrew Simpson, East Kennett Editor replies: We asked the makers of the episode if they had discovered more than was revealed during Jerry’s episode and they said: “We didn’t trace Humphrey to England. We do suspect that’s where his ancestors came from but the ship lists are incomplete and we were unable to find documentation to link all the generations back from our Humphrey to the first Humphrey Best living in Maryland just after William Penn established his colony.”
A worthwhile trio
Your article on the Who Do You Think You Are? Treatment in the Summer issue was very interesting, but not complete. You failed to mention three of the most valuable tools in the box.
Freecen.com gives free access to transcribed UK Census records 1841 to 1891; freebmd.com allows free access to transcribed and actual GRO BMD records; while freereg.com provides free access to parish registers throughout the UK. The last source is relatively new and has just introduced a new search engine and can be found at
I am a transcriber for this website and can vouch for the fact that the accuracy of transcription is exceptionally good.
David James, by email
Editor replies: Good spot, David. They are fantastic volunteer projects and we are very impressed with FreeReg’s sleek new design.
I was appalled at Anne Reid’s flippant attitude to her fraudster ancestor in her episode of WDYTYA? How could she defend this dreadful criminal and laugh at what he did? He cheated people out of their money and utterly deserved the sentence he received.
I wonder what her attitude would be to the light sentences given to today’s fraudulent city financiers – I bet she thinks they deserve heavier ones! Keith Atkinson, by email Editor replies: We had a few emails, as well as posts on our Facebook page, regarding Anne Reid’s reaction to her ancestor’s misdemeanours. Although some of the comments on Twitter praised her irreverent attitude, the majority who responded felt she hadn’t quite grasped the implications of his actions and that her attitude to those who sentenced him didn’t take into account the historical context. In her defence, the production team say she was a delight to work with and very generous and enthusiastic about the whole experience. I watched the WDYTYA? episode featuring Anne Reid with utter amazement. I’ve recently found a ‘missing’ great great uncle who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land for horse stealing on the same ship, the Earl Grey, as Anne’s great great grandfather in September 1842.
In the diary of the ship’s surgeon Colin Arrott Browning MD, he records the prisoners were divided into groups for the purposes of learning to read and
Jerry Hall: will she return to the US to take her research further?