Mike Murray TimeTrackers -2

Continuing our 4th Unlock the Past Cruise Speaker Profiles, let me introduce you to Mike Murray.

Mike hails from Western Australia, and although it is a lovely place, it does tend to be rather isolated from the rest of the country simply because of the distance, and as a result many may not have heard of him.

Since Mike retired from a career in international consultancy, he has joined his wife Lesley in running TimeTrackers, which specialises in British and Australian research, education, publishing and film-making, with Mike doing the publishing and film-making.


NAME:  Mike Murray
HOMETOWN/COUNTRY: Perth, Western Australia
DAYTIME JOB:  Family historian/genealogist (TimeTrackers)

Q1. Think back to your childhood … now what is your your favourite memory from that time?
Summer holidays – we lived in North East Scotland and each year we would go to stay with cousins and grandparents  – one year in Shawbost on the Isle of Lewis, and the next year in Whitley Bay in Northumberland. Both magic places for kids and teenagers (and grown-ups as well!)

Q2. There’s always ‘something’ that sparks an interest in genealogy/history? What was it that sparked your interest?
Mum died suddenly – she was the family fount of knowledge, so none of us bothered to find out much about the family and its past –we could just ring her if we needed to know something. At her funeral my siblings and I didn’t know enough about her and her family to do a decent eulogy. I resolved then to try and find out more about the family. Still going after 25 years.

Q3. How old were you when you developed an interest in this hobby?

Q4. What countries across this big wide world did your ancestors come from?
Scotland (father), Ireland (mother)

Q5. Is genealogy/history your main job?

Q6. Do you have a genealogy mentor or idol? Someone who has deeply influenced you in your research along the way?
From a distance, Elizabeth Shown Mills, whose clarity of thinking and common sense approach to research is inspirational.

Q7. We all know that you family history can reveal some amazing things. Have any of your discoveries resulted in a life-changing experience?
Yes, but not ready to share…

Q8. What do you find most challenging about research?
Keeping the time down to the amount agreed with the client. There’s always somewhere else to look, some other rabbit-hole to explore. We always do more than we charge for, because, like all genealogists, it’s the thrill of the chase that attracts us.

Q9. If you had a time-machine what relative (past, present or future) would you most like to meet?
My many-times great grandfather, William Moray, who fled from Dornoch in a stolen boat with his brother-in-law John MacPhail and ended up in the Isle of Lewis after a fight in a churchyard where they killed another man and injured two others. A warrant was issued for their arrest by the Earl of Sutherland and it may still be valid. This was in 1608. William Moray is the progenitor of all the Murrays of Lewis. He settled down as a blacksmith and peacefully raised a family.  John MacPhail became involved in one of the many feuds on the island and was killed by the MacAulays some years later. My great grandmother was a MacAulay.

Q10. Still using that time machine, you’ve been propelled into the future five years, what do you see yourself doing?
Probably very much what I’m doing now.

Q11. What value do you think social media plays in genealogy these days?
Allows people to contact each other easily, but do I think it trivialises many of the conversations. I rarely use it.

Q12. What do you do when you aren’t doing genealogy or history?
Music. Lesley and I are both musicians and we do try and spend time performing and learning new material. Not enough, though. Also reading, socialising and many other interests,

Q13. What do you hope to get out of a genealogy cruise?
Meet other like-minded people, share experiences, learn new things.

Q14. Share with us a few (up to five) of the genealogy websites that you tend to spend the most time on?
www.ancestry.com (all versions)

Q15. Do you have any wise words for those just starting out in genealogy?
Don’t believe everything you’re told (or read); seek out evidence for everything; be prepared to be surprised; don’t give up if the going gets tough…but beware, it can become addictive!


For those of you who are going on the 4th cruise, here is a list of topics that Mike is expected to be speaking on, based on the Preliminary Program:
– Strangers on the shore: Songs and Stories from Western Australia’s dramatic maritime past (together with Lesley Silvester)
– Ten Top tips for tracing your hard-to-find ancestors