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About Phil


A little bit about me

I have worked in many areas over the years, from Agriculture to Senior Management in the Civil Service. My underlying passion has always been for history and now I am becoming a professional genealogist thanks to the University of Strathclyde, where I am in my third semester of an MSc (Full-time dissertation) Genealogical Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies. I have completed two client reports for this course and created articles and projects using a wide variety of sources from across the world, delving into online archives from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Singapore, Japan, the Netherlands as well as the home nations of England, Ireland and Scotland.


My own family tree covers England, Ireland and emigrants to the United States and Australia. I have researched relatives from both world wars, discovering a bigger military history in my maternal lineage than I ever knew. I have also persuaded my and my wife's family to do Ancestry DNA testing and I manage their findings. My mother in law, to our surprise, is 50% Italian and I am currently exploring the source of that line.

I have worked alone and in teams, managing people to make a safe and happy work environment. I have sat on interview panels, project management meetings, team briefings, emergency reaction exercises and held one to one personal development sessions.

I am a believer in people and progress. We can all strive to make our world a better place and have fun while we are doing that.

My work

Our family kept all our old photos and documents in an old biscuit tin and that's how the business got it's name. Many families keep their mementos together in such boxes or containers. It can be the starting point of a fascinating journey in your old little time machine.

Family history and Genealogy are fascinating areas to be working and researching in. To find out where you have come from, the people that have made you and created your family are more accessible than ever before. As the great Bob Marley said,

"If you know your history, then you would know where you're coming from!"

There are also areas of family history that can be difficult to understand, emotionally confusing and upsetting. The aim is to find the facts, corroborate the details as much as the records allow and create a narrative around the people we come across in our research.

I say we and us because a genealogical journey is a shared experience. And not as a guide but as an equal, because more often than not, the discoveries are unique, as most peoples lives are.

 Have a look at some of my work below.


Bombardier Harold DUNBAR 1426798

Harold was my great uncle on my maternal side. He was not spoken about much by the family. Legend had it that he was on a hospital ship that was bombed by Japanese aircraft. However, on discovery of this registration card, he was in fact captured at Singapore on the 15th of February 1942, forced to work on the Burma-Thailand railway and was then shipped to Japan. The ship, the Kachidoki Maru, was subsequently sunk by the Americans in the South China Sea. Unfortunately, Harold did not survive. Without these cards and other selected War Office documents, this story would have not come to light.

Singer Sewing Machine Co., Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey

After researching my mother in laws documentary father, whom she had never met or even seen a photograph of, I asked her to do an autosomal DNA test (Ancestry) and to our surprise she came out with a lot of Italian DNA matches. These allowed me to build a family tree to try and establish where this link could have come from. The research is still ongoing but there is an individual who was employed by Singer in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and during the Second World War he was stationed in the UK as part of the USQMC. Is it possible that he is the link? Until I'm sure, this is all I can reveal about this piece of work......

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