Lady Mary Teviot returns to Australia this month on tour

FAMILY history holds constant surprises for one of its most prominent authorities, Lady Mary Teviot, who returns to Australia this month on tour.

"There's always a new story," Lady Teviot said from her home in England. "Something that makes you think, 'well that's interesting to have that family background'."

It's these little revelations and the challenge of "putting the puzzle together" that have kept Lady Teviot fascinated by her subject for over 40 years, since her interest was first piqued by seeing her grandmother's maiden name on a gravestone in the grounds of an old church.

After six months of following her own family history, which she has traced back to 1750, she decided it would be interesting to help others do likewise, and her company Census Searches was born.

Through it, the past president and now life-time vice-president of the United Kingdom Federation of Family History Societies, carries out genealogical research for individuals, probate and media.

As well as garnering a reputation throughout Great Britain, Lady Teviot has lectured in Australia numerous times since first being invited to speak in Sydney for the Bicentennial in 1988. She has also spoken in New Zealand, Canada, the USA and South Africa.

And she doesn't shy away from visiting smaller centres. Her tour this year begins in Coffs Harbour and includes 22 libraries, as well as Rotary clubs and historical societies in regional towns and cities as well as Brisbane.

This was her third trip to Toowoomba, which she says is both a beautiful city and blessed with "an exceptional family history society".

Everyone, she said, comes to family history research from a different angle. Some are interested in medical histories and what impact it may have on their lives, others are looking for present links to family previously unknown, or just want to know more about where they came from.

Errors in the digitalisation of information, the shredding of past census records, and the fact Australian records for births deaths and marriages are kept on a state by state basis are just some of the hurdles people can come up against in their quest for information.

Lady Teviot's tour continues until August 21, when her final talk is on Heir Hunters, from 11am-12 noon at Brisbane Square. Before that she will be talking in various Brisbane suburbs, with topics including parish registers, workhouses, internet sources, wills and administration, medicine and illness in the 19th century and more.

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