Librarian Heather discovers relatives in her own archive!

Heather Thrift

(Library Director Heather Thrift examines the Nautical College Archive)

Digging into the archives to find your ancestors often throws up surprises.

But library director Heather Thrift never expected to find hers in a register she is in charge of at Aldham Robarts!

Four of her distant uncles and cousins – it turns out – are effectively LJMU graduates!

“Dr Wayne Turnbull mentioned that he was researching nautical training in Liverpool and was particularly interested in the nautical college, which is one of the funding colleges of JMU.

Master Mariner

“I told him about my 3rd great grandfather, John Eynon, who was a Master Mariner in Liverpool from around 1858 until his retirement around 1875 and his eldest son, who was at school on HMS Conway, one of the training ships.

“I don’t think Wayne could quite believe what I was telling him! He has known me since I joined LJMU in 2013, but had not realised I had any connections with the city."

Wayne had focused on the period after 1892 for the Library’s current exhibition ‘Educational Pioneers’ (see below) so Heather offered to look for other relatives she knew had maritime connections.

“I had no idea that the nautical college archives were in the basement of the building I work in and form part of the rich collections that I look after as Director of Library Services! “

“To find that four of them had registered at a JMU founding college was fantastic.”

New York arrival

“I knew that a distant cousin William John “Jack” Eynon arrived from New York on the SS New York on 1 August 1915 and received his Master Mariner certificate on 10 September 1915, but I now know that he was at the Nautical College between those two dates, having registered on 4 August 1915.”

The nautical college archive (1892-1975) consists of mostly admission registers, but also contains exam and prize results, report books and some press cuttings. The registers often include their rank, employer and ship.

The exhibition ‘Educational Pioneers: Fanny Calder, James Gill and the making of a modern university’ will run until the end of March.

James Gill was the maritime college’s founding Principal. Fanny Calder was founder of the Liverpool School of Domestic Science.





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