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Expert QnA: Migrant merchant

Can you help our reader, Kathy Millet with her migrant ancestors? Check back next Friday (Dec 3) for our expert opinion from Ian Waller.

Leave your suggestions for finding an answer to this puzzle as a comment below.


Two brothers, Hubert Bridgman Harrison, born 1877 and Edward Lewis Harrison, born 1873 both worked abroad with some sort of official status. Hubert went to South America (Peru and Brazil) at one time as “acting British Consul” and Edward to Africa (Accra Ghana) as a Colonial Civil Servant. I have various passenger list entries showing Hubert also as a shipping agent, merchant and manager. I have possible passenger lists for Edward who, although married, didn’t appear to travel with his wife who was matron of a Lying-In Hospital when they married.  How can I find out more about their official lives abroad?

Kathy Millett, via email


“Your initial research should be in the Government Gazettes and Colonial newspapers covering South America and Africa. To find them, you’ll need to access the CO (Colonial Office) Index at The National Archives (TNA). Copies of the gazettes are held by TNA and newspapers at the British Newspaper Library.

From the official Government gazettes, you should be able to piece together career details of British Government staff, but they also contain much more information of genealogical value, so be diligent in your research otherwise you may miss important detail.

There are several other records you could search, but they can be quite complex and are normally chronological. Most Embassy and Consular Archives are contained in the Foreign Office papers, but you shouldn’t ignore Colonial Office or Dominion Office information. Up to 1926, you’ll need to consult the ‘Registers’ to access original correspondence. These work in much the same way as an index, but interpretation isn’t as straightforward. If you’re unfamiliar with these types of record, I’d suggest that when you visit TNA, you go armed with as much information from the Government Gazettes and seek the help of the reader service team in locating the correct records.” IW

This entry was posted on Friday, November 26th, 2010 at 4:25 pm and is filed under Overseas, QnA, Research tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.

| Overseas, QnA, Research tips | 26/11/2010 16:25pm
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