S04EP02: ‘The Unexpected’ with Else Churchill

In this second episode of Series Four of The Family Histories Podcast, host Andrew meets genealogist Else Churchillthe genealogist at the Society of Genealogists (SOG). We’ll find out how she got started in family history, how she ended up working at SOG, and what weird and wonderful things lurk in its collection. Then Else shares the story of her foray into DNA testing, and she’s looking for your help to find clues to solve her brick wall in 19th century Herefordshire, England.

Life Story – Else’s Mother and Father

Having worked within the genealogy community for 40 years, and researched her Churchill family extensively, Else finally decided that it was time for her to take that step and undertake an Ancestry DNA test.

What happened next came as a complete surprise, and led her to look back at her childhood differently.

With an unexpected cousin match, an old photograph, memories of an ‘Uncle Chris’, and a chance conversation at an office Christmas party in 2019, Else has embarked on a rollercoaster of discovery.

Clearly, whilst life’s admin can be wrong or tidied up, the DNA doesn’t lie.

The Brick Wall – Mary Davies

Else has been trying to find the identity of her Churchill 2x Great Grandmother Mary Davies for a long time.

Everything from Mary’s marriage in October 1851 to William Churchill at St. Weonards, Herefordshire, England is well documented. It’s Mary’s earlier life and parents that are proving elusive.

A wealth of Mary Davies/Davis candidates, inconsistent ages on census returns, and a puzzling choice for the name of her father on her marriage register entry, has brought Else about four different candidates. Else believes her Mary Davies was born in about 1824 in Madley, Herefordshire.

Can you help her identify her Mary Davies?

If you think you can help Else with a research idea or clue to help her find Mary, then you can email her at else.churchill@sog.org.uk, or alternatively you can send her a message via our contact form and we’ll pass it straight on to her.

In the meantime, Andrew bends the rules with his offer of help, but which choice will Else make?


Episode Credits
Series Four, Episode Two:

  • Andrew Martin – Host & Producer
  • Else Churchill – Guest
  • John Spike – Sándor Petőfi

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