What has kept me going for more than a decade of research? The answer’s simple: there’s always something new to be discovered, something that’s been hidden nearly two hundred years and as each new piece of information adds to the story, everything becomes more clear.
Since researchers and biographers first became interested in finding out more about the Molloys, we’ve entered the digital age and as each year passes more and more old documents become available via the Internet. Even when I thought I’d found everything there was to discover, more kept coming to the surface. It’s possible that some findings may be proven incorrect by future research and new information will come to light so it’s important to continue the work and to share as much as possible.
Here are just a few research moments from the last eleven years.


One of the most intriguing aspects of research over the last few years has been the high frequency of historical coincidences that have come to light in the lives of the Molloys and the people around them. Two stories, apparently unlinked, can be suddenly revealed as connected by a shared association – usually a person […]

John Molloy and the Battle of Waterloo

Two hundred years ago today, 18 June 1815, John Molloy survived the Battle of Waterloo. As dusk fell, and after a day of fierce fighting near a country crossroads in Belgium, the men still left alive in his battalion were desperately trying to defend the now famous farmhouse ‘La Haye Sainte’. Lieutenant Molloy was seriously […]

Georgiana’s diaries

Georgiana’s diaries are available to view on microfiche but seeing the originals is a different experience. I’ve been lucky enough to see these precious little books first-hand and closeness reveals more. The pages themselves hint at the pressure of the quill pen she used, giving subtle clues about her mood at the time of writing. […]

Dusty documents

I’ve visited the archives in Carlisle in the north of England many times now and on each occasion I lose myself completely in the ancient documents there. There’s something new to transcribe each time. This one was a will from the 1700s that shed light on how Georgiana’s great-grandfather acquired the land in Carlisle where […]

Small things

There’s something very special about touching artefacts rather than seeing them on a computer screen. These little scraps of used paper were Georgiana’s embroidery patterns, drawn onto the backs of old letters. (The photograph was taken using a tablecloth crocheted by my own great-grandmother as the background. She made it for her wedding, about thirty […]

Erased by the passing of time

On the subject of the highs and lows of research… It’s exciting when you find the grave you’ve been looking for after a five year search. Not so exciting when you see that the family chose sandstone for the headstone, a very common choice in the Carlisle area during the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s […]

Changing tastes?

This recipe for Lemon Custards is tucked inside Georgiana’s diary. The double ‘S’ that looks like an ‘f’ and her typical backward loop on the letter ‘d’ in some word endings (as in ‘scald’ in the last line) suggest its date as contemporary with the 1828/1829 diaries. I’ve always wondered if this very rich ‘8 […]

Unravelling mysteries

Ten years ago I had no idea what the note on this envelope might have meant but when I saw it again recently I had learned enough about Georgiana’s mother to understand the abbreviations she used. It’s the same with handwriting. Documents can be difficult to transcribe until you become familiar with an individual hand. […]

The last piece in a John Molloy jigsaw

Researching the early life of Georgiana’s husband, John Molloy, turned out to be a huge project in its own right. I originally intended to write two complementary biographies because I’ve collected so much interesting material about Molloy’s life but that proved to be an unrealistic ambition if I wanted to complete the project within the […]

A 19th century mind at work

Sometimes an old document can give a strong feeling of connection with the original writer. Thinking not just about the factual evidence in the words on the paper, but also about the person who wrote those words, can create vivid pictures of an individual who lived long ago. It’s hard to believe now, but in […]