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About Nick Vine Hall


NICK VINE HALL - AM, Dip FHS (Hons), FSAG, FUGA. Nick Vine Halland Tricia  -  J.PNick & Tricia


This site is now maintained by his family

After a long battle with cancer, Nick Vine Hall died at the age of 62 at the Bethlehem Hospital, South Caulfield.  He is survived by his two ex-wives Patricia, and Tricia: who is also the mother or their children, John and Katy, as well as his five grandchildren. His funeral service was held at the St Thomas’ Anglican Church in North Sydney on November 9, 2006.

Award Sep 2007          Nick's Award          John & Katy Sept 07
Nick was posthumously awarded an AM for his services to Genealogy - John & Max, Katy and Tricia were able to attend the ceremony held at Government House Adelaide September 2007


Nick has compiled 21 books and other publications since 1976. In November 1991, he initiated the British Isles Directories Project, 1769-1936. This publishing programme has transferred some 20 million names from scarce printed directories onto microfiche and has already reached 470 volumes (1,847 microfiche) covering every county of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In 1995, Nick commenced the Ships Pictures Research Service, which had been online on this website since 1999. This now contains a searchable index of more than 160,000 images. It is a popular service and now receives a steady flow of requests from all over the world.

From 1996, he was Chairman of the Census Working Party of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) and was AFFHOs Media Spokesman on Record Preservation and Access. He was the driving force for 20 years in the campaign to save Australia's five yearly census in the National Archives. This campaign has at last been successful.

Nick married his first wife Tricia, at one of Blacket's many churches (see below), St Thomas' at North Sydney. They subsequently had two children, John and Katy, who are now married, and have presented their proud parents with five grand children.  Nick hopes they and their descendants will follow in his footsteps and continue to research and explore new horizons of their family history in the years to come.

THE VOICE OF NICK VINE HALL has been heard by millions of people in Australia and overseas. He was a genealogist and maritime historian of more than 30 years experience. A 5th generation born Australian with three English born grandparents, he descends from a long line of authors, publishers, mariners and clergy. His first ancestors to arrive in Australia were Edmund and Sarah BLACKET who reached Sydney on 4 November 1842 on the fully rigged ship EDEN, 419 tons, which departed Gravesend, London on 13 June. In his log of the journey, Edmund Thomas BLACKET (1817-1883) wrote this quote:

A ship, Sir, is a prison, with a chance of being drowned - Dr. JOHNSON.

Edmund and Sarah never returned to England and lived all their lives in Sydney. They left their, mark and a large family behind them. Edmund became the third Colonial Architect of New South Wales, designing over 120 Anglican churches, 36 houses, 17 shops, 12 rectories, 7 schools and colleges, 6 banks, 5 cathedrals, 5 gaols, 4 warehouses, 4 office buildings, 3 lighthouses, 3 bridges, 2 hospitals, 2 Catholic convents, 2 stables, 2 baptismal fonts, 1 tombstone, 1 court house, 1 gold coach, 1 brewery and the Great Hall at Sydney University (1854-1862). Most of his work is still standing today.

Nick was born in Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales on 17 August 1944, the son of an architect and a schoolteacher, living during his childhood at Cremorne, Mona Vale, Normanhurst and Willoughby. He attended Normanhurst Public School (1949), West Pennant Hills Public School (1950-1), Artarmon Special School (1952-3) and Mosman Primary School (1954-7). He found history utterly boring. They called it social studies. It was dry dusty stuff - all about the rich and the poor, explorers crossing the Blue Mountains, and the kings and queens of England. During six years at Sydney Grammar School from 1957-1962, Nick bypassed history completely. His flame of fascination with things historical was yet to be ignited.

He was encouraged in 1963 by his first employer the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited (later CSR Ltd) to study economics at the University of New South Wales. After one year there, he changed to marketing, obtaining Certificates in Advertising and Packaging from Sydney Technical College. He worked for CSR Limited for 16 years in sales and marketing, becoming Assistant New South Wales Sugar Sales Manager (1972-8). But, Nick was destined for other things.

In 1968, his father John VINE HALL (1913-1994) had shown him a family chart he had compiled in 1939, whilst visiting his ancient great aunt Mary Louise HALL (1857-1954) at Oxford in England. Shortly after seeing the chart, another relative, Jean CLEMENTS of Eugowra, NSW, was featured in a Sydney Morning Herald article about an 1820s family diary headlined Ma Cousin Jarmie Cook. This caught Nick's eye. He was fascinated to learn he was an eighth cousin of the famed navigator, Captain James COOK, whose sister Margaret, married James FLECK, a fisherman of Redcar, Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, Nick's ancient Great Aunt Hester COCKBURN, then aged 83, entranced him with more family stories about his mothers ancestry: (although she warned him that, her memory though willing often baulked at filling - and she did have a great imagination)

Annie LAURIE of Maxwelton in Scotland is perched on our family tree, she said. They wrote a famous song about her you know. She may have had a neck like a swan, but its a wonder somebody didn't wring it. And, another thing - our ancestor, Anna Maitland LAURIE, of Essex, England, was related to the poet Jane TAYLOR, who, in 1806, wrote those immortal words:

Twinkle twinkle little star! How I wonder what you are!

Nick's mother, Barbara Roubel CASE (1911-1987) spoke of her Huguenot ancestor, Madame ROUBEL, who was a fancy lady of Charles the Second, and her English great grandfather, Henry Hervey CASE (1815-1871), who it is said fell off his horse at the age of 55 and drowned himself in a stream only two inches deep on his way home from a tavern in Wiltshire.

Nick was hooked! In 1971, at the age of 27 years, he joined the Society of Australian Genealogists, when there were only three such groups in Australia. By 1974, he had been invited to join the Committee, became Vice President, and was appointed Director in October 1978, a post he held for over 9 years.

With help from his then wife; Tricia, they organised two major family reunions in 1976 and 1983 at Port Elliot, South Australia and the University of Sydney, New South Wales respectively, on behalf of the LAURIE and BLACKET families. He wrote biographies of these two distinguished Australians, which were launched at the reunions, jointly attended by over 1,000 people. The latter, held in The Great Hall designed by his ancestor Edmund BLACKET in the 1850s, was described on the Channel 7 TV News of 12 February 1983 as the family reunion of the century.

He was a member of the supernumerary crew on P & O and Sitmar Cruise liners in the South Pacific from 1980-89 running family tree classes on 13 voyages, converting many passengers into genealogists in the process. From 1979 - 2006, Nick was Resident Genealogist on ABC radio stations reaching an estimated one million listeners in all Australian states and territories. He made over 2,000 live family history broadcasts.

Since the 1970's he actively promoted genealogical studies in Australia from a time when it was the esoteric pursuit of a small band, (till his death in Oct 2006) when it is a national pastime with a following of some 300,000. During his Directorship of the Society of Australian Genealogists, membership increased more than 400 percent with the addition of over 8,000 new members. He was also proactive in promoting the society internationally during this time.

Committed to raising the profile of genealogical studies in the eyes of the Australian community, public media and government, Nick's efforts have been rewarded now that the subject is seriously on the map, genealogy becoming by far the most popular area of historical inquiry in the country.

He travelled a dozen times to countries such as the USA, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Japan as an invited speaker on genealogical topics in the 1980s and 90s. He participated in a number of American radio talkback shows, including one in 1985 hosted by veteran TV presenter Larry KING in Washington, reaching 50 million listeners from the Canary Islands to Mexico.

Noted US genealogical scholar, Gary Boyd ROBERTS, BA, MA, Director of Publications and Special Projects, New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, USA, when introducing him as a speaker there on 15 May 1987, stated:

Nick VINE HALL is everyone's favourite Australian genealogist and raconteur (very likely in fact, a major character in the making), whose contribution to world genealogy the bringing of our field to another whole continent, and at last the bringing of Australian genealogy to the worlds attention, is genuine and valued, in hopes that many Australian readers will find this excursion into the kinship between the British and American peoples of much interest. Your American colleagues and kinsmen would welcome also exploration into British/American/South African/Canadian/Australian/New Zealand, i.e. Empire genealogical kinship. I wish you much luck in the furtherance of Australian genealogy overall.


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