Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Richard.

Richard Shelley became a WikiTreer in March of 2016.  He is a Project Coordinator for the New Zealand project, with his focus on New Zealand politicians.  He’s also active in several other projects including the Integrators, India, and the Great War.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?


What are some of the locations you are researching?

In regards to categorization: England and New Zealand.

In regards to generic interest, I’d probably have to say the Channel Islands as both the Valpy and Lock lines trace back to there. The Lock line traces as back to South Carolina at around 1755/1756 and the Valpy’s go back to c1500 in the Channel Islands.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

My interest in our family history was flamed by the many comments that either my parents and/or grandparents would make regarding being connected to a past historical figure or a person in particular. It got to the point where I had a list of individuals that I would later research to uncover the connection.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

I have a ton of people who are notable for various reasons (both good and bad), for this, I have to say my great grand uncle Peter Hans Jorgen Fahrin, (1895 – 1918), who was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme at the age of 22. Peter was the first enlisted man that I knew about in the family.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

The ancestry of my 3rd great grandfather James Shelley. For the record, this was major brickwall, because the records were destroyed decades ago, for some unknown reason. Anyway, I started looking for information and through cross-examination this line was extended back to my 7th great grandfather Uriah Shelley. By now, I had came across a couple of Shelley forums and connected with a number of people (extended cousins) over the globe confirming my accumulated research to that point and pooling everything together.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I joined WikiTree on the 27th of March 2016. I am a project coordinator for the New Zealand Project. I lead the New Zealand Politicians subproject which also connects to the British Politicians. I am a part of the Notables, Integrators, Categorization, United Kingdom, England, India, Great War, Euroaristo and the Scottish Clans projects.  Basically, I move between projects when and where I can lend a hand.

What brought you to WikiTree? (In other words, how did you find us?

I took a gamble roll because I was looking at sites to join, and the pick was out of Geni, Ancestry, and here (WikiTree).

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

Collaboration (I’ll explain why in a below answer).

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

The one thing I can not get people to do. Read! There are instances where questions are asked on the G2G forum, and answers only just touch upon part of the question and leave 80% unanswered. Or questions regarding subjects which are discussed in really helpful tutorials on the topic in question (I’ve never used them, but I’ll still promote them!)

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?

When I joined, I was one of many who supplied a GEDCOM. I was fortunate in a way that a large number of these profiles were flagged by the system as already existing by other users. It was in these very first days where I found myself building down to Her Majesty QE II and discovering that the story I had been told about being relating to her via The Queen Mother was not a story but in actuality, truth.

Since last year, the number of emails I get from people both a part of WikiTree and also just scrolling through Dr Google (Google) for research information come across a profile relating to the person they are after and ask if I have any additional information that can help them. 4 out of the 5 cases there is success and the teamwork helps both our causes: WikiTree for the generic accuracy of information and the individual with discovering information.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Have plenty of paper and a couple of pencils near your laptop or computer. With how many profiles are on WikiTree now, it will be likely that someone may join and have intermittent generations with a gap variation between them and so keeping a note of them (profile id, with general information like birth date and date of death) helps both the site (fewer duplicates) and the new user (less stress). If you’re using the G2G forum, stay calm – chances are you’ll be misunderstood, just remember everyone is human.


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  One Response to “Meet our Members: Richard Shelley”

  1. Hello,
    Wondering about your Shelley family name.
    Rebecka Addington Shelley was married to my imigrant ancestor William Chamberlin of Billerica, Mass. She died in Cambridge prison caught up in the Salem witchcraft debocal. Her maiden name, being a source of controversy, would be interesting to compare notes!

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