I've been researching one particular ancestor who is proving a little tricky. His name is John Jude Taylor* (FamilySearch, Geneanet). He was posted to New Zealand as part of a military contingent (the 65th Foot Regiment from Suffolk, England) as part of the colonization effort in the late 1850s.

There is plenty of information available on John once he's reached New Zealand, but he's like a ghost back in England (which is not helped by the commonness of the name). Of course when there is a distinct lack of information it can often mean you're looking in the wrong place. However there are a couple of interesting names introduced with his children that may help turn up some leads - specifically the names Imlach and Cumming were introduced as middle names.

This leads me to my question: what patterns or processes have any of you devised for effectively searching information - especially on genealogy sites - using correlation of names? Is there a practical way I could search for John Jude Taylor that has a close affiliation or correlation with the names Imlach or Cumming? Note that I currently don't know where these names came from, so it will not necessarily be correct to add them as siblings or parents in a regular person search on Ancestry.

*the parental and sibling information for John in my tree is most likely incorrect, only the information from 1857 onwards across any of the sources linked above should be considered accurate.

  • For the people who might have difficulty logging into Ancestry, FamilySearch, Geneanet, could you please add a brief recap of sources at the end of your question? Where did your information about his military service come from? The Geneanet tree is especially confused because the profile is out of order. It's okay to leave your links to the profiles, but I think it helps to give readers a picture of where you started from, since the information on the profiles will change as time goes by.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jan 14 at 21:11

2 Answers 2


I think the advice given to me in a previous answer is appropriate here.

There comes a time when umpteen bits of keyhole surgery just aren't getting anywhere - then it's time to lift the bonnet, winch the engine out and take the whole thing apart.

You can try searching for Imlach or Cumming as keywords in combination with Taylor (and Jude) but in that case you are still searching for names, not records. That will limit you to records where

  • the records have been indexed
  • the names you want have been indexed
  • the names you want are spelled the way you're expecting

You don't know the place your person is from, so you can't use the techniques you would use for a place study—or can you? In this instance, you can study the military unit that John Jude Taylor served in to see if you can find any clues.

How was the 65th Foot Regiment formed? How were its members recruited? Did they come from a particular geographical area, or were members assigned to it from elsewhere? Can you find unit histories, or letters and diaries of people who served in it, people who might have served with John Jude Taylor?

Have you thoroughly researched Ellen Morrison and her family? At the very least, you could see if the names Imlach or Cumming came from her family and not his family (or from any of his military comrades).

Do John Jude Taylor and Ellen have any siblings? Do John Jude Taylor and Ellen have any siblings? Have you thoroughly researched all of the couple's children?

How much do you know about John Jude Taylor's military service? Did he have any special duties that might be a clue to his prior life?

How many people in their community in New Zealand also soldiers in the 65th Foot?

Since you are researching in New Zealand, I would start by searching the newspapers at Papers Past and also at Trove for articles about the the 65th Foot Regiment and the colonization efforts in general. Search widely in time to catch retrospective articles that may have been published long after the events took place. If you have access to the newspapers at the British Newspaper Archive (either on its site or via findmypast) search there as well.

Many searches fail because we search too narrowly in time. I have found clues about research subjects as much as 150 years after the events described in the article.

Don't just look for individual people. Think about the Big Picture, the whole process of how the 65th Foot was gathered and sent to New Zealand. Read for context, and you'll be more alert to clues in records that you might miss otherwise.

If you can find rosters with the names of other members of the 65th Foot, and researchers who are studying those soldiers, look at their research. What sources did they cite to back up their research? What records were they able to find, and how did they use them as part of their proof or research?

Go outside genealogy sites and look at the work of local historians, of people who do population studies, of military historians.

A final note: when you are looking for combinations of surnames in keyword searches, do keep a log of what searches you tried and what the results were. Record negative results, and the results of your evaluation of the databases (e.g. "this database had 2400 entries where the names were not indexed"). Write down your thoughts so you can go back later and review your prior work after you have learned new facts from your readings for context. Reviewing prior work should always be part of our research process, but it's especially necessary when working complex cases.

Use whatever record-keeping works for you. I have Scrivener and Scapple, Evidentia, and Clooz in my research toolkit for cases like this. Ordinary lineage-linked software is designed to keep track of information where you've already reached a conclusion, so it isn't always helpful when you are conducting wide searches and haven't reached a conclusion yet. The newest version of Clooz, Clooz 4 supports "businesses, buildings, ships and artifacts" as research subjects, so you could use it to track the 65th Foot as a research subject.



Hardly an answer to your precise question, but a suggestion. The 65th Regiment of Foot was referred to at this time as the "2nd Yorkshire (North Riding)". This doesn't mean that it wasn't based in Suffolk for a time.

The Muster Books & Pay Lists for the regiment are at the UK's National Archives at Kew, under references WO 12/7377 to 7457. Or so my book tells me. Classically, these were produced every quarter and list everyone in the unit at that time. The idea is to find a chap in one of the Musters and follow him through forward or backwards in time. With luck, his last entry will say where he went (eg resigned) and his first entry will say where he came from. This might be another regiment or it might say where he was recruited. People aren't always recruited where they were born but it's something.

Even better might be the Description Book in WO 67/18 which does what it says on the tin and describes the soldiers (in case they desert and the authorities need a description). This can include a birthplace.

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