Surprising what you will find in an obituary.

Obituaries can tell you a lot, and require careful examination, and some organisation and time.  Recently I found an obituary for one of the people on my tree, Emma Elizabeth Charlotte Billet, who married Walter Batchelor.  From the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate of 19th November, 1931.

It's a great example of how you should really examine something closely for clues and further research.  Here is what I found, and what I still need to find that links back to this small piece in the newspaper:

  1. I now have Emma's full name (only had Emma E.C. previously)
  2. Her husband was still alive living in North Parramatta - search the Aust. Electoral rolls.
  3. Confirmation this is the mother of Stella Gertrude (Batchelor) Stettler, who married Herbert Stettler.  NOTE: As was often the custom, married women are referred to by the initial and surname of their husband - an important clue for further research.
  4. The Stettler family were living at Cnr of Fennell and Sorrell Street Parramatta.
  5. Emma was born About 1860 (1931-71yrs of age).  Search the NSW BDM and Family Search for a birth about this year. -
  6. Emma's father was Edward Billett - search for any records about him in Ancestry to begin with..
  7. Edward and his wife lived in Baulkham Hills - search cemetery records and Electoral Rolls for them.
  8. "A large family" means there might be records of Uncles and Aunts on the NSW BDM.
  9. Search the NSW BDM for sons and daughters of Emma and Walter Batchelor.
  10. Emma had a son, Leslie Batchelor who lived at Church Street Parramatta - search Electoral Rolls for him.
  11. A daughter married to a W. Hoy living in Newcastle - search NSW BDM for a marriage and electoral rolls for the household.
  12.  A daughter married to R Walker living in Baulkham Hills, - search NSW BDM for a marriage and electoral rolls for the household.
  13. Two sons, Stan (Stanley?) and Sid (probably Sidney or Sydney) -  search NSW BDM for a marriage and electoral rolls for the household.
  14. Two daughters living in Parramatta - one married  a Mr Yule, the other a Mr. M. Smith,  search NSW BDM for a marriage and electoral rolls for the household.
  15.  She was Methodist, so may be burried in a cemetery near Parramatta in the Methodist section.  What was the Methodist church in Parramatta at the time?  Do they have any records?  Further down the article, I find she was burried at the Methodist section of Rookwood, so on my next visit to there I will go and see if there is a record of her grave.
  16. Emma had a brother E. Billet - search for a birth certificate on NSW BDM and family search.  Check electoral rolls for him.
  17. Emma had a sister, surname Billett who married a Mr Gay, another who married a Mr. B. Blakey.  Search NSW BDM for a marriage and electoral rolls for the households.
  18. Check to see if the records from W. Metcalfe and Co, Parramatta are available anywhere. 
  19. Search the national archives for any of the men in WW1 or WW2.
  20. There are 23 grandchildren to try to find!

Phew!  Quite a list, and quite a lot to do from just one obituary.  When you have a list like this it pays to do a research plan, I used excel and here is what it looks like:
I just put all the searches into excel, then sorted them according to Repository, and coloured some of the repository so that they are easier to see. This will make it easier to work in one place at a time.  And I added a column for yes/no so that I don't duplicate searches.  I wont be able to do all this in one go, so I need to know where I am up to!  As I find things, I will add them to my Legacy program, and add them into my Ancestry Tree and see what clues that throws up.  One person has this family as being from a convict ancestor, but I have not found any proof so far. 

Now to work my way through them, of course it will not be one search per item as name variations need to be searched as well.  Billett could easily be Bilett, Bilet, Billet, Bullett (and probably more!)


On the same day I wrote this post I began to search the NSW BDM, I still have not found Emma's birth date, or who her husbands parents were, but I will continue to look.


  1. I thought you might be interested in the entry for the Billet family on the Australian Royalty website. This particular page:

    has a transcript of the will of Edward Billett, who died in 1923. The will mentions: daughter Emma Elizabeth Batchelor, granddaughter Amy Pearl Batchelor, children: Edward Charles Billett, Mary Ann Jane Billett, Jessie Louisa Blakey wife of Benjamin Blakey, and Ada Annie Gay wife of Alfred Ernest Gay.

    This site has a lot of other information about the family.

  2. I also found the original of the will of Edward Billett on FindMyPast, in the New South Wales Will Books 1800-1952 collection.

    1. Hi Lois
      Many thanks for your tips. There certainly looks like lots to find out about this family. I have not even got to the archives or Trove sites yet!


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