When I decided to broaden my search for other members of the Curness family, I had to think of how to do it. I then remembered that when I was working in a building own by Telecon (now Telstra) the major telephone company here in Australia, that they had a library of telephone books for all parts of the world. On my first visit there I started with the UK section and settled for people in and around the London area, as that is where we had come from. I wrote a circular type letter to about twenty people and I received five replies. Three were from immediate family, two cousins and an aunt who were pleased to make contact after more than thirty years and two from total strangers.
The first letter from a stranger, was from a George Henry Curness and his wife Emily who lived in Mottingham, South East London. George was then in his mid seventies and did not know much about his family but what he did know he kindly past on to me. The second letter was from a Shirley and Dick Pass who lived near Romford. Shirley and Dick were replying on behalf of her father who had died two years earlier. In the letter they had enclosed a small laid out tree that went back to Shirley's great-grandfather who was named as Joseph Frederick Curness. I went through my records and could only find a Frederick Joseph Curness and indicated to them that I thought that he might be the same person.
The name Frederick Joseph struck a bell with me, for not only did I have his year of birth as 1857 on the BDM record lists I had compiled but also his christening date in the same year on the London parish records, together with the name of his parents, Frederick and Ann. I had in the mean time found and purchased the birth certificate for John Frederick who was my grandfather. This certificate showed that he was born in 1877 and that his parents were a Frederick and Mary Jane. I then checked the marriage record lists and found that there were three dates for a Frederick getting married. The first was in 1856, so that fitted in with Frederick Joseph's birth in1857. The second was in 1876 and that fitted in with my grandfather's year of birth, 1877. The third marriage was in 1881 but I had no idea where he came into the picture. I then applied for all three marriage certificates and much to my surprise, found that they were all for the same man, Frederick John Curness (Shirley's great-great-grandfather and my great- grandfather). So I had found the first person outside my immediate family that was related to me.
To find out why he had married three time. I did some further research into death record lists which indicated that Frederick's first wife Ann (nee Banks) had died in 1875 at the age of forty two. Then in 1880 his second wife Mary Jane (nee Matthews, preveously Ball, my great-grandmother) had died at the age of thirty nine and that Frederick himself had died in 1882 at the age of forty eight. His third wife was a Catherine (nee Goose, preveously Parmenter) and she lived on until 1923.
I then went back to the Telstra library and got addresses for every Curness I could find though out the United Kingdom. I even checked out the Canadian directories as Charlie had mentioned that he had a nephew Michael, that lived in Canada. In the Toronto directory I found a Michael John Curness. Again I sent another batch of circulars to all these families including the Canadian one. This time I received over a dozen replies, including one from a Michael John Curness from Toronto but he turned out not to be Charlie's nephew. This Michael or Mike as he is known, enclosed a small tree for the known members of his family back to his grandfather, who he named as Alex. Mike turned out to be a cousin of Stan in Queensland but had not seen him for over forty years and asked if I could put him in touch with Stan as he would like to renew broken ties. After consulting Stan I was able to put the two of them together. This was the first of many reunions the tree has achieved.
I would hate to think of how many letters and e-mails I have sent over the years but it must be in the thousands by now, as I have a letter mailing list of nearly a hundred and an email mailing list of around seventy. The email has been a boon to me as I can get the information I need so much quicker, sometime within twenty four hours where as it can take a minimum of two weeks by letter.