Case studies

Case studies

Case study: researching the notorious Mary Ann Bugg

When Carol Baxter began researching Captain Thunderbolt’s lover, Mary Ann Bugg, for her book Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady, historians told her that she wouldn’t have a hope of discovering the full details about Mary Ann’s parents, siblings, partners or children. Mary Ann Bugg – they said – was part-Aboriginal so she had slipped through the cracks. For a professional genealogist, that was a red rag to a bull! With money, persistence and sheer luck, Carol was able to break through these previously impenetrable research barriers.


Dodgy claims: the Landed Gentry Drews of Ireland and Devonshire

With evidence suggesting that some of Carol Baxter’s Irish ancestors descended from an Irish Landed Gentry family that itself descended from a Landed Gentry family living in Devonshire in the 1500s, she jumped at the opportunity to learn the skills of pre-Reformation research. It took her on a fascinating journey as she questioned what had long been accepted, and pursued sources that led her to break new ground. This seminar uses these Drew families as a case study in undertaking pre-Reformation historical research.

– 30/60 minutes – Powerpoint presentation


Dodgy research: the immortality of bushranger Frederick Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt

Claims have been made that bushranger Frederick Ward did not die in 1870 but escaped to America where he lived out his days. This case study explores how spurious claims can be made about historical figures and how these claims can spread until they become matters of widespread belief. It also provides guidelines that assist in determining the truth or otherwise of such claims.

– 30/60 minutes – Powerpoint presentation


Dodgy research: the Douglass controversy

Have you come across people desperate to have a famous or infamous ancestor, people who will sometimes manipulate information in order to achieve their dream? This case study examines the families of three early colonists with the surname Douglass, one a First Fleeter, and shows how researchers can misinterpret documents with dire consequences. It also reveals that much pre-twenty-first century research needs to be redone because old claims – including those regarding descent from First Fleeters – do not necessarily stand up to careful scrutiny.  


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