About 20 years ago my sister had an Australian temp in her office. The woman’s surname was Flett, a very Orkney surname. When my sister mentioned this to my father he was immediately very interested. His granny’s brother, John Flett, had immigrated to Australia but contact had been lost. Could this temp be a descendant of John? A short period of supressed excitement followed.


But then the temp reported back that her parents knew a good deal about their Orkney roots and, unfortunately, she was not a descendant of our John.

A disappointing result but also a positive one as it rekindled my youthful interest in family history. My father had a good knowledge of his family, partly because he grew up next door to his paternal grandparents, but he was already in his mid 70s. I needed to start recording and researching. So I did and I’ve not stopped since.

What about John?

John was the son of George Flett and Mary Leask, born at Cott, Swanbister, Orphir, Orkney on 26 October 1862.  He is recorded in Orphir in the 1881 census, a tailor living with this father, stepmother and siblings. On 12 October 1884 a 21 year old John Flett, tailor, left Glasgow on the Loch Lomond, bound for Melbourne. This is almost certainly him. After that I have no definite sighting of him. All I know is that my grandfather planned to go Australia to join his uncle and made a kist (wooden box) to carry his belongings and tools. But then the letters stopped. If they hadn’t I wouldn’t have been writing this now.

So yes, John Flett you are to blame for all this genealogy business, personal and professional. And I hope to find out more about what became of you some day.

This is my first post for #52Ancestors Challenge.

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6 comments so far

  1. Dana (Stewart) Leeds says:

    I hope you are able to find out more about him! And, I love that this temp got not just you, but also your father, started in genealogy!

    1. Janealogy says:

      Thanks. My father knew so much. He could reel off the names of his grandfather's siblings with ease, including where they lived. It was very special for me when I found the record of one failing his First Mate's examnination due to colour blindness – dad always said this was the case.

  2. Pauline Gerrard says:

    Need to thank him too ❤️❤️❤️
    I have a similar story – concentrate on graves and records mostly. My love started in Bayeaux Cemetery. Long story x

    1. Janealogy says:

      Very interesting to find out what sets people off on the family history trek.

  3. Jan says:

    Jane, what year did the letters stop? and where was his last letter from?

    1. Janealogy says:

      I don’t know unfortunately and probably Dad didn’t either.

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