Meet our Members: Maureen Wilkins

+23 votes

Hi everyone!

500px-Meet_our_Members_Photos-76.jpgIt's time to meet another one of our wonderful WikiTreers. This week's member is Maureen Fearn.

Maureen became a Wiki Genealogist in June of 2020. She is one of our friendly Greeters and Team Leader for Shropshire in the England Project.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

In my own family, Fearn, Longhurst, Hague, Williams, Cloud and in my husband's family Wilkins, Barton, Cornish, Bryen

What are some of the locations you are researching?

My own family are almost entirely from England. My mother's family from the South of England, e.g. Kent, Sussex and Dorset and my father's family from Sheffield and nearby villages in the North of England. My husband's family are also mainly from England e.g. London, the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and various coastal towns in the South and venturing into Wales.

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

My first encounter with genealogy was in 1997. As I had what I thought was a very unusual surname, I purchased a copy of "The Burke's Peerage World Book of Fearns". I still have this book on my bookshelves. For me, it proved to be an expensive waste of time and only confirmed that the majority of people with the Fearn name in 1997 were living in Derbyshire, and neighbouring counties of England. However, the value of the book is that it was the starting point of my own family history research journey from which I get immense enjoyment.  

Who's your favorite ancestor and why?

This is a difficult question as there are several possibilities. At the moment, my favourite ancestor is Susannah/Susan (Cloud) Williams, my maternal great-grandmother 1840-1916). It took me many years to find Susan's year of birth as in the censuses and other records she had consistently given her age as much younger than she actually was – sometimes by as much as 15 years' difference. I like to think that I have inherited my youthful looks from her! I am a great fan of Victorian literature, especially the works of Thomas Hardy and Susan's birth-year and Dorset location are very similar to those of Susan Henchard, the wife of Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge. I have a photograph, which is possibly Susan, taken in about 1913/1914 with my mother (her granddaughter). I would dearly love to be able to confirm this photograph as either Susan or my mother's other grandmother Emily Emma (Reeves) Longhurst (1853-1939)

Tell us about a brick wall you hope to bust through.

I have one missing segment on my 4-generations fan chart, as one of my maternal great-grandmothers Emily Emma (Reeves) Longhurst was illegitimate. It's possible that one day, DNA will enable me to put a name to the missing father. There can't be too many candidates as Emily was born in a small village in Kent. I am hoping to find out that the father was a member of the aristocratic Culpepper family who owned Duke's Place in West Peckham, the historic house where Emily was born. However, it wouldn't surprise me if her father was the stable-boy!     

(interview continues in comments)

WikiTree profile: Maureen Wilkins
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

As mentioned previously, I love Victorian literature, especially Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Mrs Gaskell and Wilkie Collins. Reading these great classics ties in well with family history as it gives you an insight into how people lived at that time. I'm a retired translator and keep up my language interests by running a Spanish language group for a local branch of the U3A (University of the 3rd Age). I also tutor a couple of students privately by Zoom.

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

I've been at WikiTree just over 18 months, so I consider myself fairly new here. I became a WikiTree Greeter in Oct 2020 and love helping new members find their way around within WikiTree's many branches. There are so many nooks and crannies that every day I find a new feature that I've never seen before. I joined the England Project in my first couple of months and have progressed through the Orphan Trail I and II. That has opened my eyes to improving my ancestor profiles with good sources and writing interesting biographies for them. I'm now the Team Leader for the county of Shropshire within the England Project. Shropshire has a special place in my heart as it's the county where I spent most of my childhood.

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

I love being part of a community and interacting with other members. That aspect seems to be lacking in most other genealogy sites. I like the fact that it is Free! and I can direct my relatives to the site. Even if they do not want to actively participate, they can get the benefits of my research. 

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

Possibly more short videos on how to use WikiTree for beginners. Many new Members don't understand the concept of a single collaborative tree they expect to be able to upload their GEDCOM files from another site and have an instant tree of their own. They are then frustrated by the rather tedious GEDCOM route and often leave WikiTree straight away without giving it a chance. 

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

WikiTree has helped me so much with sourcing my English ancestors' profiles. I'm going to give a shout-out to Rob Pavey here. His new WikiTree Sourcer has really saved me a lot of time when generating sources.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

For someone starting out on WikiTree I would recommend going slowly. First of all, search the database for any profiles that already exist for your own family surnames or even take a look at some famous people. Then start building your tree by manually adding your parents, grandparents and other relatives, until you get to a point where you can connect to main tree. I think it is very important to understand how profiles work and explore WikiTree to find out its many features.

10 Answers

+13 votes

Congratulations, Maureen! Excellent interview, I have learned even more about you. It is always a pleasure to work with you on different projects. wink You are an outstanding Greeter and excellent England Project member!

by Laura DeSpain G2G6 Pilot (371k points)
edited by Laura DeSpain
+10 votes
Congratulations on being nominated as member of the week.

It is nice to learn a little bit more about you.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
+9 votes
Thank you Maureen for sharing. Great interview. Thank you for all you do.
by Rosalie Neve G2G6 Pilot (115k points)
+9 votes
You are a gem, Maureen. I had to take English literature in my undergraduate courses and I am also a fan of Charles Dickens.

Wonderful interview!
by Eileen Robinson G2G6 Mach 3 (35.4k points)
+9 votes
Woohoo! Nice interview, Maureen. BTW: Did you know there is a Cornishville in Kentucky, USA?
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
+7 votes
A wonderful profile.  Loved the references to Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy; it feeds the naive images that we Americans have of the UK.
by Roger Stong G2G6 Pilot (277k points)
+7 votes

So lovely to meet Maureen smiley

by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (910k points)
+6 votes
I also have Dorset ancestors and mine connect quite closely to Thomas Hardy. I have not read any of his books however.
by Hilary Gadsby G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
+6 votes

Congrats Maureen yes

A wonderful interview and some excellent answers!

Wikitree is a fun place of collaboration laugh

by Andrew Simpier G2G6 Pilot (296k points)
+3 votes

Thanks for sharing your story.  I hope you can find the name of the woman in the old photo... maybe it is a Susan. smiley

by Robert Clark G2G6 Mach 8 (85.9k points)

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