The township of Bathgate, also referred to as Bathket or Bathkit, is located in West Lothian, Scotland. The first recorded history of the Bathgate Parish Church, otherwise known as Kirkton Old (Ruins), appears in the royal charters of the 12th century when Geoffrey de Melville was commanded by King Malcolm IV to measure out an area of land which would form the basis of the Bathgate Parish. By 1315, a castle and church had been built and left as dowry to Marjorie Bruce, daughter of King Robert I of Scotland when she married Walter Stewart.
In 1739 the church was abandoned when a new church was built in Bathgate. In 1846 the remaining walls of the original church were strengthened. Today these walls are the architectural features that serve as an entrance to the surviving structure which houses some of Bathgate’s most historical graves. Historical records of the graveyard suggest that the oldest graves may date back as far as the 1200’s which were placed in niche’s of the church walls, although today there is few traces of these remains.
The most significant grave marker found in the graveyard is one carrying a large cross, over which is carved a shield bearing the Crichton arms of a lion rampant and to the left of the cross a long sword with a Latin inscription. The grave slab was fixed into the inner face of the south wall commemorating Andreas Cricthton of Drumcorse who was Chamberlain to the Lordship of Linlithgowshire (the County) who died in 1514.
I first came across the Kirkton Old (Ruins) while researching my fourth great grandparents and was the graveyard where I found several of the Fleming family in their final resting place.
Andrew Fleming (1805 – 1885) was born on 16 February 1805 in Bathgate, West Lothian to Alexander Fleming (1772 – 1837) and Ann Agnes Clarkson (1776) and the third eldest son of their nine children. On 25 March 1842, Andrew married Jean Learmonth (1818 – 1895) the daughter of Thomas Learmonth and Elizabeth Jeffrey in Bathgate, West Lothian.
Andrew a handloom weaver of cotton and Jean a cotton winder lived in Cochrane Street, Bathgate in 1851 and it is there Jean would give birth to their first seven children; Elisabeth, Alexander, Thomas (who died at birth), Margaret (died aged 12 years), Jane and Barbara. By 1861, their three eldest children had left home for employment and Jean had given birth to three more children; Andrew (died at birth), John, Christina and James. In 1871, the family had moved to Main Street in Bathgate where they had their youngest son, Andrew. Astonishingly. Jean would have been 56 years old and Andrew would have been their eleventh child.
Andrew was a testament to the hard times that those living in Bathgate experienced with large families who had little money. Despite his older children bringing in wages for the family, at 77 years old, Andrew was still working as a cotton weaver in 1881. Sadly on 8 January 1895 at their home at 18 Hopetoun Lane, Bathgate, Andrew would pass away aged 86 years.
It is in the Kirkton Old (Ruins) of the Bathgate Parish Church that Andrew Fleming lays at rest with six of his children and wife Jean, who died ten years after Andrew’s death on 1 November 1895 in Bathgate.
As Australia moves to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May 2020, Ancestor Detective, writes about some of the Mother’s who feature in her family tree. Sarah Lo’vanberyl, an English migrant, is one such woman who gave birth to 11 children between 1844 – 1867. Left on her own, while her husband, William Slade, drove livestock, Sarah faced hardship, arson attacks on the family property, and the challenges faced by many colonists with large families and little income to support their families. However, through this adversity, Sarah showed her strength and resilience to raise a young family on her own and despite losing the family property to fire and having to sell up due to the financial strain, did raise a successful family whose children went on to be local farmers and parents of large families.
Sarah Lo’vanberyl was born in Chertsey, Surrey, England on 10 January 1825 the only daughter of John Lo’vanberyl (1800 – 1873), a chair maker, and Mary. Sarah was baptised on 11 February 1825 at St. Peter’s Church in Chertsey, Surrey. John was married three times and to confuse any genealogist, all were named Mary. Therefore, without a maiden name on any records to date, the exact name of John’s wife remains a mystery.
On 25 July 1839, John and Mary with daughter Sarah, aged 15 years, boarded the ship “Cleveland” in London, England and arrived in Port Adelaide, Australia on 15 December 1839. It was while waiting to board their ship to Australia that Sarah met her future husband, William Slade, who was boarding the ship “Rajasthan”.
Three years after the Lo’vanberyl’s settled in Little Adelaide, South Australia, Sarah married William Slade, a shepherd, on 25 August 1843 at the Church of Scotland in Pirie Street, Adelaide. A year later in Harrowgate, South Australia, Sarah gave birth to their first child, Mary on 7 November 1844. In Harrowgate, Sarah would go on to have four more children; William John (1846), Thomas (1848), Sarah (abt. 1850) and Hannah (ab. 1853).
In 1854 William purchased a land grant for 28 acres for 51 pounds (section 1795) in the parish of Kanmantoo, Harrowgate in the Adelaide Hills. Their first home was a small wattle and daub cottage built across the road from their section of land. It is here that Sarah would give birth to another six children; Jane (1855), Emma (1857), Friend Hedman Allgood (1859), George (1862), Harriet Matilda (abt. 1864) and Elizabeth (1867).
Life as a shepherd’s wife was not easy for Sarah who was left to raise their large family alone while William, and eventually the older sons, would be away for days at a time droving their sheep and cattle in search of feed. It is while he and the boys were away that the family property was targeted by arsonists on a Tuesday evening. Initially fires were started in the grass and stubble south of their barn and stables, and a second in the north west of the farm. Recent rain meant that the fires did not burn freely and fortunately Sarah and her daughter, Sarah, who were home alone were able to beat the fires out with their feet.
On the following evening the arsonists struck again, this time their attempts to light damaging fires succeeded, with the fire engulfing the barn, stable and pigsty. This would not be the end of these attacks upon the Slade family, when on 8 March 1868, arsonists lit a fire in the thatch roof of the family home. The noises of the fire alerted the family, however their attempts to put the fire out were unsuccessful. While they were able to salvage some of the homes effects, before help arrived, the home was destroyed, leaving the large young family without shelter, while William was away droving in the Murray South.
“Mr William Slade, was one of the oldest settlers in the neighborhood, and a man who is and has been so well liked that no one would have suspected that he had an enemy in the locality; but it seems otherwise.” (Adelaide Observer, 14 March 1868)
Eventually a larger home was built on their section of land opposite the burnt ruins of their cottage and farm outbuildings. However, the large family soon found the Slade family in financial trouble and they would sell their property and relocate to section 229, Hundred of Monarto.
On 15 December 1880 in Wentworth, William died, aged 65 years old, from rheumatic fever. One day later William was buried in Wentworth. His grave is a reflection of the hardship that the family were enduring, having been buried in a unmarked pauper grave. Following her husbands death, Sarah, would move to Murray Bridge and reside with her son and later her daughter, up until her death 23 years after the death of William.
The recognition of William and Sarah’s, like many other settlers of the early 1850’s, in South Australia was done so when Emanuel Solomon held a Old Colonists Banquet on the 35th anniversary of the founding of the colony of South Australia. Each member was displayed in portraits in at least three mosaics. Initially the mosaics would only feature the male colonists, but when the females complained about not being invited to the banquet and were told it was for ‘the Male Sex’!, a companion mosaic of women was created, partly in consolation.
The family would also be recognised in the Biographical Index of South Australia that commemorates those living in South Australia during the first 50 years of colonisation (1836 – 1885).
Despite falling on hard times, as an early colonist in Adelaide, both Sarah and William were well respected in their rural communities of Harrowgate, Nairne and Monarto. Their many children went on to be successful farmers and they to would go on to have large families.
Surrey, England, Surrey Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1917, LOVENBURY, Sarah, 11 February 1825. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
In Part 1 of the series “Who lived here?“, Ancestor Detective, introduced readers to John Kelly, a publican of the Traveller’s Rest Hotel in Violet Town. In the research into a 1880’s cottage found at Lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town, in the Certificate of Title for the property identified that John Kelly as the first owner of the property and sold the property to Maria Tuckett, the wife of Alfred Curtis Tuckett. In Part 2, Ancestor Detective introduces Alfred Curtis and Maria Tuckett, local business owners in the small town of Violet Town in the late 1880’s.
Alfred Curtis TUCKETT was born to Alfred Tuckett and Helen Maria CURTIS in Mangotsfield, Gloucertershire, England on 27 August 1833. Both Alfred and Helen were born into the Religious Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers. A society whose belief was individuals held a direct, personal experience with God and lived by a strict moral code that placed faith above country and a refusal to participate in state churches and forbade military service which was the subject of persecution. However, their marriage, according to the book by Marjorie McDonald, The Tuckett Legacy, was surrounded in controversy when it was known that they were in fact first cousins forcing them to be banished from the Society and left to marry in the Church of England on 22 February 1831 in Bradwell, Essex, England. The separation from the Society must have been resolved because by the time their son, Alfred Curtis, was born they were allowed to register his birth with the Society in the quarterly meeting following his birth.
As part of the Society they forbid military service and it appears that Alfred Curtis did not holds these beliefs when as a 16 year old he joined the Merchant Navy on 19 December 1850 as an indentured Apprentice on board the ship “Mercury” until 19 December 1854.
Not long after completing his service with the Merchant Army, Alfred Curtis boarded the ship “Starlight” and headed to Melbourne, Australia. After 124 days at sea, on 5 May 1857, the “Starlight” reached Melbourne shores where it is believed the lure of the goldfields saw him travel to northern Victoria.
On 17 May 1860, Alfred Curtis appeared in the The Argus newspaper as a missing person, which sought his whereabouts.
Then on 9 October 1860 the NSW Government Gazette post that the whereabouts of him where required. The article states that he had not been heard from since 1858 while in the Wellington District as a 25 or 26 year old. The search appears to be from John Beard of the Railway Hotel in Tambaroora. Circumstances into his alleged disappearance and why his location was being sought remain a mystery.
Maria Bryans was born on 16 July 1843 in Armagh, Northern Ireland to John Bryans and Elizabeth Robertson. in 1863, aged 20 years, Maria traveled on board the ship “Gresham” as an assisted migrant, arriving in Geelong, Victoria in December 1863.
In 1867, Alfred Curtis and Maria marry in Skipton, Victoria. They would reside in the small rural towns of Skipton and Beaufort, where Maria would give birth to six children between 1866 and 1877; Helen Tuckett (1868), Lillian Victoria (1869), Alfred Curtis (1871), Frederick William (1873), Francis John (1875) and Maria Maud (1877). After the birth of their sixth child, Maria Maud Tuckett (1877). Maria would gave birth to three more children between 1880 and 1885; Lewis Allen (1880), Alexander (1883) and Phillip Samuel (1885) while living in Violet Town.
Unlike their time living in Violet Town, newspaper articles recording their lives in the Skipton and Beaufort areas were not forthcoming. Between 1877 and 1881 Alfred Curtis and Maria would move to the parish of Marraweeny where in 1881 they would purchase 284 acres of land, approximately seven miles from Violet Town. It is here that they would build a substantial six roomed house, garden and orchard and stables along with four paddocks that included water from Faithfuls Creek.
On 1 October 1884, owner of lot 11, Primrose Street in Violet Town, would sell his property to Maria Tuckett here her husband, Alfred Curtis, would build a five bedroom weatherboard home.
It was at their property in Marraweeney that the first horse races of the area were held and following the races a gala ball was held in their large house.
It was in Violet Town that the couple’s ownership of businesses dominated but along with this, newspaper reports on court proceedings and fires that impacted upon their businesses and houses emerged from the late 1880’s to the early 1900’s.
On 1 December 1884, Maria purchased land of four roods and eight perches at lot 11, Primrose Street in Violet Town. In 1887, Alfred Curtis advertised a tender to build a five bedroom weatherboard house on the property.
On 23 November 1885 Alfred Curtis gave notice for the application for a colonial wine license for a house in Violet Town, which was granted at the Licensing Meeting held in Violet Town on 16 December 1885. Over the years, the license continued to be renewed up until 1887. In 1886, Maria offered the wine shop up for public auction on 19 March 1886. The sale appears to have fallen through, with another renewal of the wine licence renewed in the following year.
At the same time that the Tuckett’s were operating their colonial wine shop within an eleven room boarding house, known as the Temperance Hotel, located near the railway station in Violet Town. It was the wine shop that starts to get the Tuckett’s into a little bit of trouble with the law, when in June 1887 Maria was charged with the illegal selling of liquor, fortunately the charges were dismissed.
On 14 March 1887, the large property of A. C. Tuckett was offered for Sale, by Public Auction. This farm included 284 acres of freehold land in the parish of Marraweeney, Country of Delatite and seven miles from Violet Town. Subdivided into four paddocks, permanently watered by Faithful’s Creek and springs, the property featured a six roomed house, kitchen detached, and 25 acres of cultivated land, good garden of two acres, planted with fruit and ornamental trees.
It seems that a few encounters with the law for Alfred and Maria, may have been a reflection of the times, and with numerous property fires, the couple fell on hard times. On 25 March 1891, a notice was advertised in the Euroa Advertiser by Mr. T. S. Moore, assignee, against Alfred Curtis Tuckett for insolvency. It appears that despite Alfred Curtis being declared insolvent, the same was not reported of Maria who continued to operate businesses in Violet Town, as well as leasing more land in Shadforth in 1894 and 1895.
On New Years Even 1899, a fire burnt the boarding house of Maria Tuckett to the ground. Few possessions could be saved. This was not the first fire on the Tuckett’s properties, with the first occurring in September 1885, and then again in September 1895, fortunately on these occasions there wasn’t a lot of damage to the properties.
It is this large fire, destroying a substantial business for Maria that may have instigated their move to Caulfield, Victoria between 1900 and 1904. Maria sold lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town to Herman Gerhard Meyer on 19 April 1905.
When next we hear of the Tuckett’s is upon the death of Alfred Curtis on 25 July 1904 at the family home, “Myrtle”, from a cerebral hemorrhage. The significance of the family home name, “Myrtle”, originates from Alfred Curtis’s childhood home in Bristol, England.
One must wonder what was happening for the couple at the time of Alfred Curtis’s death because despite financial means, he was buried in plot 2063 at Bundoora Cemetery in an unmarked grave. Maria, following her husband’s death, moves to Victoria Park in Western Australia, where she lives with her son, Francis John.
Western Australian rates books shows that Maria bought land in Victoria Park up until her death on 7 November 1922.
On 4 August 1914, Britian declared war on Germany. Neither the Australian government nor the 324,000 who signed up to fight for their country would know at the time the human sacrifice and financial toll that World War 1 would have on Australia.
Like many young men, Maria would farewell three of her sons and one grandson, with great pride and undoubtedly a tear in her eye, sadly she would only welcome back one son and grandson.
Francis John Tuckett was the eldest son, aged 40 years, to join the Australian Imperial Force in the 3rd Australian Division Signals Company where he reached the rank of Lieutenant. His oldest son Francis Curtis Tuckett would also join the same day with his Father, at the young age of 16 years.
Lewis Allen Tuckett was aged 35 years when he joined the Australian Imperial Force on 17 August 1914 and like his older brother and nephew, Lewis was in the 3rd Division Signal Company where he reached the rank of Captain and awarded several bravery medals.
It must have been some comfort for both Maria, and the wives of Francis John and Lewis, for Francis Curtis to be deployed in the same division as his Father and Uncle. Sadly, this comfort would turn to grief, when on 14 October 1917, they would both witness the death of Francis John when he was killed in action in Belgium. He would be buried Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium.
Philip Samuel Tuckett was the youngest son born to Maria and Alfred Curtis, he would join the Australian Imperial Force on 3 February 1916 in the 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion at the age of 31 years. Two days after being promoted to second Lieutenant, Philip Samuel, would be killed by shell fire in Flers, France on 24 November 1916. He would be buried at Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France.
Maria Tuckett would remain in Victoria Park, Western Australia up until her death on 7 November 1922. The devastation of losing two sons in World War 1, she commemorated both their deaths with memorial plaques in Kings Park, Western Australia. Maria is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery and Crematorium in Karrakatta, Western Australia, along side her son, Alexander. The headstone also displays the names of her sons, Francis John and Philip Samuel.
Alfred Curtis and Maria Tuckett will be remembered as business owners and community members of Violet Town. While they had their ups and downs financially, this was not unusual for this time in history, they did endure and their ability to purchase property in their later years in Caulfield and then in Perth show the remained financially stable up until their deaths.
In the next edition of Who lived here, Ancestor Detective introduces Hermann Gerhard Meyer as the next owner of lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town.
Essex, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1935, TUCKETT, Alfred and CURTIS, Helen Maria, 22 February 1831. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
England & Wales, Quaker Birth, Marriage, and Death, 1578-1837, TUCKETT, Alfred Curtis, 22 Aug 1833. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
McDonald, Majorie, n.d. The Tuckett Legacy, England.
The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Index of Apprentices; Class: BT 150; Piece Number: 7
Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1900. BRYANS, Elizabeth. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Unlike countries such as England, Scotland, Wales and the United States, genealogists researching their Australian ancestors are not privileged in having access to the wealth of information that a census provides. Many genealogists have utilised the data collected through the census collections of the 1800’s and up to 1911, to find ancestors and to learn more about their families. Reviewing data sheets for each census in your families life span enables the genealogist to build a picture of family composition, place of residence, occupations, year of birth and location of birth. In 1911, additional information was added, including years married, number of children, those children still living, those that had passed away, whether the individual was deaf, blind, a lunatic (a term used for a range of illnesses), were an imbecile or of feeble-mind.
On the 2 April 1911, Australia held its first census night, and the decades following. Then in 1961 the five yearly census was introduced. Despite the rich data that the Australian census could provide to researchers, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and the Privacy Act 1988 guaranteed that no personally-identifiable data could be released. As such, as far back as the first census in 1911, all record sheets have been destroyed. In good news for future genealogists in 2001 the option to preserve personal data and held by the National Archives of Australia. The bad news is that data is not available until well after the current generation has long gone, 99 years after the census occurred.
It is not all bad, in the absence of the census, the government’s electoral roll is available to the public and datasets accessible by numerous online platforms, including Ancestry.com. From 1903 various forms of electoral rolls were created by the collection of data for those eligible to vote in Federal, State and Local Government elections. Details included in the roll and accessible by genealogists include full name, address and occupation (excluded as of 1983) in alphabetical order and sub-division (a geographical area). Importantly the electoral roll not only tells us where our ancestors lived from 1903 onwards but also allows the researcher to following their residential location over time and trace any other adults in the household.
In some states prior to 1903, for example parts of New South Wales, had muster rolls, which documented those living in particular colonies. However, many muster rolls have been lost or destroyed over time but some are still available in libraries and private collections.
For the family researcher, tracing the first locations of your ancestors on arrival into Australia prior to 1903 is not easy. However, the availability of vital records has provided small pieces of the puzzle and with more datasets being made available, genealogists are creating a bigger picture of life before Federation.
As a genealogist we all have that one elusive ancestor that along the journey of finding their ancestors the record trail runs dry and we are faced with a genealogy brickwall. Where you can’t pin point the parents, sometimes the siblings, and it appears that they landed on earth by aliens and the lives before them are just a mystery.
With ever increasing vital records and other datasets becoming available, after years of researching, wondering and frustration, you can come across that record that all of sudden puts a dint in that brickwall. We all just need to be patient, have a well documented research plan, log and paper trail of both primary and secondary (if you can find them) records to find that mystery ancestor that has been bugging you for years.
My ancestors unlike other families have presented me with several brickwalls, where it appears that they just mysteriously came to be somewhere with no record trail of where they had been prior to that first vital record being found.
Through the writing of my family history it has allowed me to review records I do have with fresh eyes. By reviewing these I have found it helps to uncover that one little clue that has the potential to break down a brickwall or at least rattle a few bricks loose.
William Cramp and Miriam Freer (Watts) were my third great grandparents in my grandfather’s maternal line. Their lives turned up not just a brickwall related to the parentage of William but also presented a multitude of inconsistencies, challenges and frustrations in the records I discovered for the couple.
In this blog, Ancestor Detective (me), will take you through the lives of William and Miriam and discusses both the challenges and how I overcome these challenges and hopefully smash down that elusive brickwall of William’s parentage.This blog will start with the records found, will present the challenges and issues with the records and then will go on to discuss how further records uncovered started to bring down that big brickwall.
I was researching my second great grandfather, Edward John Cramp, when his parentage started to appear as hints in my Ancestry.com family tree. At the time I had learnt from experience not to take hints on Ancestry on face value. Hints from other members trees were often dates of vital events (birth, deaths or marriage) occurring with no source attached and hints could often be for someone of the same name but not your ancestor.
Edward was born on the 16 January 1854 in Upper Sturt, Adelaide, South Australia William Cramp and Miriam Watts. What was rare about this record of birth was the index had recorded the actual date of birth and not just the year which was usually the case.
Initially my research for the vital records of William pointed me towards a baptism of a William Cramp on 29 June 1813 in Quorndon, Leicester, England. His parents were recorded as Henry Cramp and Elizabeth (no surname provided). From other family trees on Ancestry, this seemed to be the William I was looking for.
I started building Wiliam’s family tree based on the premise that his parents were Henry Cramp and Elizabeth Fox. I found that they had quiet a few children and this was where I started to wonder if this could be my ancestor. I came to this conclusion when reviewing their dates of birth and what I reaslised was that it was impossible for William to be born into this family in 1813, with another record for their son, Charles, showing his date of birth just months after William’s birth, which unless they were twins or their mother had some kind of miracle pregnancy, it made it impossible for them both to be the sons of Henry and Elizabeth.
With many William Cramp’s in England at the time, I started researching Miriam Watts and like her husband I started to face some challenges. Based on the age of her children I through she would have been born in about 1826 but finding a vital record to confirm this was not an easy process.
I was finding it difficult to locate a registration of marriage in England for William and Miriam and with no records apart from the birth of Edward John, I refocused my research to Miriam before their marriage. I started with the England and Wales census, and it was here that I found a Miriam Watts, aged 14 years, in the 1841 census living with a John Watts, his wife Ann and a son, Pharash (record corrected to Pharoah), aged 5 years. Despite John and Ann seeming too old, at age 55 years, to be the parents of Miriam and Pharash, I assumed that this was her family.
The next census record I found for Miriam was in 1851 where she is married to William and both recorded as being 24 years old. Based on the 1841 census, 24 years would have been correct for Miriam, assuming that the enumerator had not rounded up or rounded down her age by five years, which was common practice. All of a sudden though, William was now also 24, despite the baptism record showing he was born in 1813, meaning that his age should have been 38 years old.
Was William Cramp lying about his age so he could marry Miriam with her father’s consent?What did John and Ann think of Miriam marrying a man nearly 15 years her senior?
I wondered what Miriam’s parents thought of her marrying someone who was so much older, but recognised that during the 1800’s marriage was not always based on love but a father’s consent and in some cases, certainly who he chose his daughter to marry.
With the census in 1851 recording Miriam’s place of birth as Castle Donington, I thought this was a good place to start to find her birth record. I searched using the birth year 1826 and location Castle Donington. Several Miriam Watts were uncovered in Ancestry, but there was not match based on what I knew so far. The same results appeared in FamilySearch and Find My Past.
The other record I had was the record in the 1841 census for Pharash (Pharoah) then aged five years. I thought if I could find a record of his baptism then it might be easier to find Miriam’s, assuming they were baptised in the same church. This didn’t lead to anything helpful apart from additional census records for his household.
Why on earth was it so hard to find a baptism record for both Miriam and Parash (Pharoah)?
I had learnt from researching my second great grandfather, James Robinson, whose birth/baptism and family was also a mystery for some time. I found it useful researching James that researching from their date of death, if known, and working backwards often uncovered clues of their early life. I started this approach with both William and Miriam.
From the birth index of their son, I knew that by 1854 William and Miriam were living in South Australia. This record linked me to another for William, which was of his death in Adelaide, South Australia on 19 January 1878. The record told me he was aged 56 years old at the time of his death, with his year of birth recorded as ‘abt. 1822’. This was another year of birth for William, in addition to the baptism record saying 1813 and the 1851 census recording it as 1826. It was becoming more apparent that William may not have known his actual date of birth at all or he wasn’t a very good lier!
I ordered William’s registration of death, surely this would provide more details. I knew that most records of death showed birth details and the names of parents. I was soon to learn that assuming I would uncover where William was born and to whom, was not going to be as easy as reading his death certificate.
Apart from learning the William Cramp died in the Adelaide Destitute Asylum from marasmus, a severe form of malnutrition, I learnt nothing else. Details I was hoping for, like birthplace, were not recorded! It appeared I had reached another dead end in finding out more of William’s life before marrying Miriam.
What did family trees created by others listing Edward John Cramp provide any additional clues of William and Miriam?
As much as I had learnt long ago not to take other family trees as gospel, I thought I would start reviewing those trees that had William and Miriam in common.
Initially I noticed two things; other trees were adding ‘Freer’ to Miriam’s surname, William had the middle name of ‘Henry’ and they had two additional sons, Charles and Frederick. New clues for me to explore! The middle name of Henry made sense if the birth record I had found was correct and his father was in fact Henry Cramp but the name Freer was a mystery so far.
I started messaging a few members of Ancestry.com who had William or Miriam in their family trees hoping they could provide more information to the endless list of questions I had on the couple.
One member messaged me explaining her relationship to William and Miriam and we emailed back and forth discussing the conflicting information to try and find more answers. Between us we still had so many unanswered questions and it appeared other members were unable to help……
What was the relationship of ‘Freer’ to Miriam?All records to date showed her name as Miriam Watts……
I began researching the connection to ‘Freer’ and Miriam and discovered that a lot of family tress had named Miriam as Miriam Watts (Freer) or Miriam Watts Freer. I ran a search on Ancestry.com using the name Miriam Freer and came across a baptism record from 1836 in Quorndon, Leicester recording this Miriam’s father as Frederich Freer and her mother Eliza (no surname recorded).
I drew two conclusions from this record; if this was my Miriam her parents weren’t John and Ann Watts and this made Miriam considerably younger than William, a lot younger than the first records indicated if William was born in 1813. It would mean that Miriam would have been 10 years old when she married. Anything was possible in the 1800’s when it came to marriage but this seemed unlikely.
Ancestry.com and FamilySearch could not help with any other information on this Miriam’s baptism in 1836. However, I discovered more when I went to Find My Past and found the baptism transcription with the same baptism date and also showed no record for her year of birth. I often wonder how the same record can have so many different details between databases holding these records!
In the same Find My Past search I found another record for this Miriam’s baptism, not a transcription but the original baptism record from the Anglican church in Quorndon, Leicestershire. One of the first things I noticed was there were several children baptised in January and February for the Watts family, this included Parash (Phoroah). Further down the page though was a baptism for a Miriam Freer on 14 February 1836 the daughter of Frederick and Eliza Freer in Quorndon. It also showed that the parents of Pharash was not John and Ann either, but recorded as the son of Cleophas and Hannah Watts in Quorndon.
Was Miriam the daughter of Frederick and Eliza Freer but living with John and Ann Watts? and if this is the case, why was she and Pharash living with John and Ann Watts?
While one record of the Leicestershire Baptism record transcription recorded this Miriam’s birth year as 1836, this was not possible as the 1841 census recorded Miriam Watts as aged 14 years old, meaning she was likely born in 1826. Further searches did not turn up any records of birth for Miriam to confirm who her parents were. To verify that Miriam Freer was my Miriam Watts, I required another vital record to confirm that her parents were Frederick and Eliza.
I continued searching in Find My Past for another vital record for Miriam and discovered not just the transcript of a Leicestershire Marriage but also the original church record in the Church of Quorndon. The marriage was between William Cramp and Miriam Watts on 15 December 1846. The record showed that at the time of her marriage she was a ‘minor’, meaning she was under 21 years of age. The couple’s father’s were recorded as Frederick Freer and Edward Cramp.
This second vital record confirmed for me that Miriam was the daughter of Frederick Freer and not John Watts. It also showed that if Miriam was a minor at the time of her marriage then she would have been born between 1825 and 1828. This record also provided the first clue as to who William’s parents might be, showing that William’s father was Edward Cramp.
In part 2 of the breaking down the brickwall into William Cramp, Ancestor Detective, researches the new clue that recorded William’s father to be one Edward Cramp. Ancestor Detective will discuss how she eliminates several Edward Cramp’s and how she ends up identifying William’s parents and family. Every brickwall can be broken down, no matter how slowly, it just takes patience, continued review of records and looking at ways to verify or discount new records.
Birth Index. Australia. Victoria. 16 January 1854. CRAMP, Edward. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, CRAMP, William, 29 Jun 1813. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Ancestor Detective was asked to research the previous owners of a little cottage in Primrose Street, Violet Town after the current owner discovered that the cottage was built in 1895 and once owned by a German family. She became intrigued about how a German family came to be living in a small rural town. Ancestor Detective traces the families who owned the property and writes of their lives living in Violet Town.
Violet Town is 174 kilometers (or 108 miles) north east of Melbourne in Victoria and at the base of the Strathbogie Ranges. Originally names ‘Violet Creek’ the inland town was one of the first to be surveyed in 1838. The town is renowned for being a stop over for Major Thomas Mitchell who on his Australia Felix exploration camped on the banks of what was then called Violet Creek and became Honeysuckle Creek. At the time Major Mitchell noted that the swamps and marshes had a profusion of wild violets and he named the district Violet Ponds.
Settlement in Violet Town was slow initially but once the first hotel, the Royal Mail Hotel, was built by Thomas Clarke. With this development and the movement of people using Sydney Road, later called the Hume Highway, as a thoroughfare between Melbourne and Sydney that land started to sell.
John Kelly was born in about 1832 to Samuel Kelly and Jane Satermaite (Saterwaite) in Melbourne. In 1872, aged 30 years, John married Mary Jane Block, aged 18 years at the time and the daughter of Samuel Block and Margaret Kincaid. Not long after their marriage, John and Mary would settle in Violet Town where their first son, Samuel John Kelly, was born in 1873. Mary Jane would go onto have eight more children consisting of five sons and four daughters.
Around this time on 10 December 1878, the notorious Kelly gang held up the bank in nearby Euroa. In the ensuing weeks that followed, local Police and residents scoured the land surrounding Euroa and Violet Town for the gang members but were unsuccessful in finding the bush ranges. I was during this time that newspaper articles were reporting that the Kelly gang were housed up in Violet Town, much to the disgust of locals who argued that Violet Town was one of the most honest communities in the colony and to accuse townsfolk of harboring the fugitives was outrages.
It makes you wonder with the Kelly gang in the local area and known to have stopped by in the town of Violet and nearby Euroa, whether there was an association with John Kelly. We may never know?
In 1882 for fifteen pounds a local store keeper, John Kelly, became the first owner of the allotment 11, section 19 in Primrose Street, Violet Town. The block of land being two roods and eight perches (or half an acre). In his publication, What it was like then, Darryl Parker describes that bark huts were built to house the growing population and it is likely to be the first home to be built on the lot 11.
In the late 1880’s John Kelly became the local publican of the Traveller’s Rest Hotel in Sydney Road, Violet Town for some time. In February 1887, an advertisement instructing the offer for sale by auction two shops, dwelling houses, and allotments of land situated in Cowslip Street, Violet Town and the property of Mr Kelly.
Again in July 1898, John Kelly advertised for the let or sale of the Traveller’s Rest Hotel. The advertisement described the property to be located on Sydney Road near the railway station and consisting of a three parts furnished hotel, stablings and outbuildings, two and half acres to 12 and half acres of land.
While no advertisement of sale references lot 11 in Primrose Street, Violet Town a record of title the Certificate of Title for the property transferred ownership to Maria Tuckett on 1 October 1884.
The Kelly family remained in Violet Town until about 1894 when there youngest child, Theodore Phillip Kelly was born. Soon after the Australian electoral roll finds the Kelly family living on a farm in Boho not far from the township of Violet Town. Up until his death on 13 August 1911, John Kelly resided in his farm in Boho. In his final will and testament, John Kelly left considerable farming property along with stock, farming equipment and dwellings to his wife Mary Jane Kelly.
Mary Jane Kelly died in 1923 leaving her estate to her sons, Joseph Edward and Theodore Phillip.
In the next edition of Who lived here, Ancestor Detective introduces Albert and Maria Tuckett as the next owners of lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town.
Violet Town Centenary Celebrations Committee, 1949, Violet Town Centenary Celebrations, Matthews Publishing Company, Melbourne.
Parker, Darryl, n.d, What it was like then, Parker, Darryl.
Genealogy is more than just locating vital records to identify your ancestors. This journey is also about bringing our ancestors to life through their stories, lifestyles, occupations, land and communities.
For Australian genealogists, Trove, provides a valuable resource to uncover the stories of our ancestors. This online platform has digitised archives from numerous sources, including newspaper articles, books and photographs. As the name suggests, the more you trove through these archives, the more stories and records you can uncover, I call these little gems that without these, our ancestors just remain the vital events of their lives; births, deaths and marriages.
Ancestry.com and other online genealogical databases provide other records that can add more to your ancestors history, including immigration records, land titles, wills and probate records, criminal convictions, some family notices, and then there is the little gems that you find on other family trees with ancestors related to your own.
Ancestor Detective showcased the use of Trove while telling the life of Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith, you can read this narrative here. While researching my 3rd great grandparents, William Slade and Sarah Lo’vanberyl, I came across some articles from Adelaide newspapers during the late 1880’s linked to their son, Thomas, and grand daughter, Elizabeth. What you will read in this edition is not the gems you expect to find while delving into Trove, unfortunately they are not always good news stories, they are stories that despite being many years ago, will touch your heart and give you a different perspective on the lives your ancestors lived. This was the case when I started reading about Thomas Slade and Mary Jane Talbot’s daughter Elizabeth. These articles are not for the faint of heart, the details are somewhat gruesome, and you can only feel for young Elizabeth who suffered considerably in the lead up to her death.
Thomas Slade was born in about 1848, the third child of William Slade (1822 – 1880) and Sarah Lo’vanberyl (1825 – 1903) in Harrogate, South Australia. In 1873, aged 25 years, Thomas married Mary Jane Talbot, aged 22 years, at Mount Pleasant in South Australia.
Mary Jane Talbot (Reed) was baptised on 9 March 1851 in Kingsbury Epicoscopi in Somerset, England and was the daughter of Benjamin Talbot (1825 – 1901) and Delilah Reed (1829 – 1916). Benjamin and Delilah immigrated to South Australia on 29 April 1855 on board the ship “Bermondsey” with their daughters Mary and Louisa.
On 25 December 1873, Mary Jane gave birth to a daughter, Martha at Tigers View in South Australia. Two more daughters would follow; Elizabeth born 2 May 1875 and Hannah born 13 July 1876. At the time of their births, Thomas was a farmer in Harrogate and by 1883 he was farming at Salt Creek near Monarto.
On 31 May 1878, Mary Jane died at just 27 years of age leaving behind her young daughters aged 5, 3 and 2 years old. Just one year later on 25 August 1879, Thomas married Mary Ann Dunn, aged 23 years, at her father’s home in Talunga, South Australia near Mount Torrens.
Mary Ann Dunn was born on 15 October 1855, the daughter of George Dunn (abt. 1827 – 1906) and Mary Williams (abt. 1834 – 1915), in Adelaide, South Australia. Step mother to Thomas’s three girls; Martha (1873 – 1959), Elizabeth (1875 – 1888) and Hannah (1876 – 1958), Mary Ann would give birth to three children; John (1881 – 1954), Ellen (1884 – 1965) and William (1886 – 1962).
Tragedy hits the Slade family
Nearly ten years after the death of her mother, Elizabeth was sent to the home of Wilhelm Kuchel and wife, Pauline, in Murray Bridge as a servant when her older sister Martha was unable to do so. In May 1887, Elizabeth was in their home alone when her dress and undergarments caught fire while attending to the home’s fireplace. Shortly after the fire started Mrs Kuchel returned to the home to find young Elizabeth’s clothes burning from the waist down, after rolling her in the sand outside, she placed Elizabeth on the couch and treated the burns with lard, starch and red precipitate powder.
Despite pleas from Elizabeth to send for her father, the Kuchel family did not do so and it was not until Wilhelm passed Thomas on his farm on the 30 May that he mentioned that there was an accident and ‘clothes had caught fire’, but commented that she would be okay in a week or so. Concerned for Elizabeth’s welfare Thomas and Mary Ann traveled to the Kuchel’s property in Murray Bridge and found Elizabeth lying on a couch with a cup of water beside her but out of reach of the young girl.
Thomas and Mary Ann put Elizabeth in their cart and drove home to Mount Torrens where they removed the putrid bandages, which did not appear to have been changed since the 27 May. They then telegraphed for Dr Esau who attended the following morning. The doctor found Elizabeth to be in a ‘deplorable condition‘, with severe burns from the waist down and the start of gangrene on her back and abdomen ‘from being grossly neglected‘ and with no hope of recovery. Elizabeth in incredible pain tragically died on 7 June, some ten days after the fire.
On the 8 June, an inquest began at the Mount Torrens Hotel before Mr Lauterbach, J.P and a jury who took statements from Thomas and Mary Ann Slade and Dr Esau. The Kuchel family were called before the jury on the 13 June where they contradicted the statements of the family and doctor who attended to Elizabeth until her death. They stated that Elizabeth was fine following the incident, did not require medical aid and was ‘walking about the house days after she was burnt‘ and denied that she had been neglected during that time and that they had treated her burns ‘as if they would treat their own child‘. They also denied that they refused to send for Elizabeth’s father and that she had pleaded for them not to do so.
On the 13 June 1887, the jury found Mr Wilhelm Kuchel ‘guilty of gross and culpable neglect with respect to the treatment of the injuries‘. Following the guilty verdict, pleas from jury members for Wilhelm’s actions to not go unpunished seemed to be ignored. One juror stated in a letter to the editor of the local paper that “that for the honor of the community it is hoped that such another case may never be recorded. With all expressing their sincere wish that the authorities will not allow the matter to pass without punishing those connected with such a piece of inhuman barbarity as the persons who had charge of the girl are guilt of“.
Another member of the jury wrote “Itrust in the interest of justice the papers relating to the above inquest will be carefully pursued by the authorities and not quietly shelved as there is reasons to believe is often done. The evidence of the various witnessed under examination seems to me to have warranted a far strong verdict than that returned, and I am of opinion that just and humanity will not be satisfied if the Kuchel family are allowed to go scot-free owing to the many pressing questions engaging the attention of our public men at present“. Despite this, it appears that no further action was taken and Wilhelm was allowed to continue living in the community. However, the family did sell their land and move to Dimboola where they went onto have six more children before moving to Murray Bridge.
Just a few months after Elizabeth’s death on 9 September 1888, the Slade family would again experience death when Thomas Slade would die from tuberculous. Thomas would leave behind his wife, Mary Ann and their young family and a farm to operate.
As genealogists looking into the lives of our ancestors, we all recognise that the conditions in which they lived where hard times, often living in poverty and little access to medical help but we often do not expect to come across detailed accounts of how they died, particularly for children. The circumstances leading to the death of Elizabeth Slade and the details written on the inquest proceedings into her death was hard to read and left me feeling sad for such a young girl who would have gone through incredible pain and for her family who would have felt helpless in seeing her dying in such an horrific way.
It is these stories of our ancestors lives that move us, they certainly allow us to see our ancestors from a different perspective and while it is many years ago it still leaves you with a sense of loss and heartache. While I do not know the circumstances for her father, Thomas’s death, I have no doubt that a broken heart after the death of Elizabeth contributed.
There are many newspaper articles on the inquest into Elizabeth Slade’s death that you may wish to read but they are hard to read, hence why some of the details have been left out of my account of what happened to little Elizabeth.
The Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885, Author: SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society, Year: (1986, 1990) 2007, Publisher: Archive Digital Books Australasia
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1851. SLADE, Thomas. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1914. 1851. TALBOT, Mary Jane. Somerset Heritage Service; Taunton, Somerset, England; Reference Number: D\P\K.EP/2/1/3
Marriage Index. Australia. South Australia. 1873. SLADE, Thomas and TALBOT, Mary Jane. Australia, Marriage Index 1788 – 1950.
State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood New South Wales, Australia; Persons on bounty ships (Agent’s Immigrant Lists); Series: 5316; Reel: 2137; Item: [4/4792]
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1873. SLADE, Martha. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1875. SLADE, Elizabeth. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1876. SLADE, Hannah. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Death Index. Australia. South Australia. 1878. SLADE, Mary Jane. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985.
Marriage Index. Australia. South Australia. 1879. SLADE, Thomas and Dunn, Mary Ann. Australia, Marriage Index 1788 – 1950.
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1855. DUNN, Mary Ann. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1881. SLADE, John. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1884. SLADE, Ellen. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1886. SLADE, William. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.
Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser. (1887, June 17). Girl Burnt to Death. Mount Barker, South Australia, Australia. (SA : 1880 – 1954), Friday 17 June 1887, page 3.
South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), The recent Inquest at Mount Torrens on the body of Elizabeth Slade. To the Editor. Saturday 18 June 1887, page 6.
Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 – 1922), General News, Saturday 18 June 1887, page 2.
Death Index. Australia. South Australia. 1888. SLADE, Thomas. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985.
One of the joys of genealogy, in addition to the addiction it brings with it, is finding out all about your ancestors and the lives they led. The greatest enjoyment is when after researching a family for so long and reading about them, finding vital records, newspaper articles and so much more, is when you can put a face to a name.
I started researching my Grandfather’s family about five years ago. I was intrigued by the story I was told growing up about my 2nd great grandfather, James Robinson, who it was told, came to Australia as a young child in the care of a relative (still unknown). It is said that the ship in which he was a passenger became shipwrecked close to Victoria and he was the only survivor. I am yet to find proof that this is true, as no record that I can find is about an immigrant ship that shipwrecked in Australian waters and where the only survivor was a young child. But it was this story that made me slightly obsessed in finding out about James and his family.
James Robinson was born in Liverpool, England on 11 August 1848 to Thomas Robinson and Ann Paterson. By 1873, James was a stockman at Gol Gol Station, not far from Wentworth in New South Wales, Australia. It is here that he met Hannah Slade and went on to marry her at Wentworth in New South Wales. Hannah Slade was born in about 1850 to William Slade and Sarah Lo’vanberyl and was one of 11 children.
James and Hannah went on to have six children between 1874 and 1885. Only days after giving birth, Hannah would pass away from adynamic puerperal fever a complication that occurs following childbirth. Her son, George, would pass away just six weeks later. Leaving behind her husband and young children, James went on to be supported by Hannah’s younger sister, Harriet Matilda.
Harriet Matilda Slade was born on in about 1864, the second youngest of William and Sarah’s 11 children. James and Harriet Matilda married on 19 December 1886 in Wentworth, New South Wales and would have four children of their own. As was common during the 1800’s their first son John Albert would die at birth in 1887. Harriet would go on to have three more children; Issac John, George Frederick and May Emma Elizabeth.
James was well known in the district of Mildura, where they both lived for many years. As a bullock driver, James would work for the Chaffey brothers and be contracted to build the irrigation channels that support the agricultural farmlands surrounding Mildura to do this day. He was recognised as a pioneer of the district following his death on 14 October 1923 after an illness which resulted in blood poisoning and a partial amputation of his arm. Harriet would go on to live another 23 years after her husbands death.
Harriet and daughter May Emma Elizabeth would go on to support her son, George Frederick, in raising his young children; Hazel Frederena, Charles and John Edward, after their mother Elizabeth Cramp left the family home and her husband and children behind.
Harriet Matilda would pass away on 9 September 1946 in Mildura. In her obituary, like her husband, she was recognised as a pioneer of the Mallee district having resided in Mildura for over 60 years.
While researching her husband James, I came across a portrait of Harriet on My Heritage and felt a sense of pride and enjoyment in seeing her for the first time and thinking how beautiful she was. I have only found a small photograph of James from the book in which he is mentioned, Mildura Calling, so it was fulfilling to find a photograph of his wife. Having been in contact with a cousin who I found through Ancestry.com I hope between the two of us we can eventually find a portrait of James and be able to also put a face to his name.
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Jacobus Robinson, 11 August 1848. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Registration of Marriage, James Robinson to Hannah Slade, 29 May 1873, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Death, Hannah Robinson, 2 January 1885, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Marriage, James Robinson to Harriet Matilda Slade, 19 December 1886, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.
Lapthorne, Alice, 1981, Mildura Calling, The Sunnyland Press, pg. 26
Registration of Death, Harriet Matilda Robinson, 9 September 1946, Mildura, VIC. Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Melbourne, VIC. Copy in possession of author.
Mildura Cultivator, 11 September 1946, Mrs Harriet Robinson.
Silas SMITH and Maria GOODING were pioneers in the community of Narrawong near Portland in Victoria. Originating from England where he was a Police Constable, Silas immigrated to Australia with wife Maria on board the ship the “Heather Bell” and arrived in Hobart, Australia on 27 August 1855. Under the indenture system, Silas was employed as a gardener and Maria a domestic servant, by James MACLANACHAN, a well-known grazier and politician, in return for free passage to Hobart.
After seeing out their agreement of employment with Mr MacLanachan, Silas and Maria with their first born son, Charles Morbeth, travelled to Portland in Victoria’s south west. It is here that Silas would settle and where Maria gives birth to ten children between 1856 and 1872.
Marwood Samuel Kingston SMITH was born on 12 August 1861 and the fifth child to Silas and Maria. In 1884, aged 22 years, while employed as a labourer for Mr John McKellor at the Ardachy Homestead, Marwood and Mary WEST, who was employed as a servant at the homestead, married on 26 February 1884. It is likely that Marwood and Mary knew each other as children with Mary’s father, John West, owning property not far from the Smith property known as “Sunny Bank”.
The Ardachy Homestead is located eight kilometers north west of Branxholm, which today is recognised for its historical significance to the area as one of the earliest squatter runs and later on, the most successful Soldiers Settlement subdivision following World War 2.
Not long after their marriage, Marwood and Mary, moved and settled in the Bundarramunjie parish. There property, known as “Bundara”after the river nearby, was nestled between the Cobungra and Bundara Rivers. Their pastoral run was surrounded by the mountains of the Alpine National Park and in a remote rural part of the Omeo district approximately 15 miles from the small town.
In her letter to Aunt Connie of the Weekly TImes on 24 August 1907, aged eight years old, Marwood and Mary’s daughter Olive described Bundara as “in the bush between two rivers, the Combungra and the Bundara (about a mile from each), and we have to cross the former to go to Omeo our nearest town, about 15 miles in distance. As the river rises very quickly, father has sometimes to hurry out of Omeo lest he should find it too high to cross going home…..we are miles away from any neighbours, and our home is surrounded by big hills. We can see the High Plains on which the snow lies for months at a time.“
Olive’s younger sister Rosie would later write to Aunt Connie on 21 March 1908 saying “the roads are very rough and we cannot go into town very often. We have to drive through the river Cobungra, as there is no bridge over it, and sometimes it rises very quickly, and is too high to cross, and we have to wait until it goes down again…..we have a very dry season. There is very little grass for the sheep and cattle.“
The writings of both Rosie and Olive illustrates a happy life at Bundara amongst the bush, mountains and their animals. It describes that despite their remoteness to Omeo, education must have been important to Marwood and Mary, with Olive telling Aunt Connie that they had a teacher living with them and that she had been at school for eleven months. She and sister Rosie tell of their love of reading and the titles of the books that they had both been enjoying.
While they lived in remote country, Marwood was a recognised grazier, with records of his shee and wool sales frequently listed in the local Omeo Standard and the national Weekly Times. He and his sons, Alfred and Harry, would also hold a mining licence for the local area where both gold and quartz could be found.
To Fight for Country and Empire
On 4 August 1914, Britian declared war on Germany. Neither the Australian government nor the 324,000 who signed up to fight for their country would know at the time the human sacrifice and financial toll that World War 1 would have on Australia.
Like many young men in the Omeo district, Marwood and Mary’s only sons, Alfred and Harry would be farewelled. Seen by young men as an adventure and opportunity to travel the world, Alfred and Harry, would leave with pride in their eyes, a handshake from their Father and hug from their Mother with tears in her eyes. Marwood and Mary farwelled two beloved sons but sadly they would only welcome back one.
Alfred SMITH was born in 1890, the third child and eldest son of Marwood and Mary. On 12 April 1915, aged 25 years, Alfred enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force in Liverpool, New South Wales and was assigned to the 18th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade. In early May the Brigade left Australian shores for Egypt where they trained until mid-August. On 22 August 1915 the Brigade landed on ANZAC Cove.
Their first offensive was the attack on Hill 60 and lasted until 29 August 1915. They would then take up a defensive role holding Courtney’s Post until 20 December 1915 when they would leave for Egypt and then proceed to France. On 25 March 1916, they took part in their first major battle of Pozieres between 25 July and 5 August 1916. The retaliatory bombardment while seizing German positions would be costly for the Australians and between 29 July and 6 August 1916, they would suffer 6,848 causalities. Sadly, Private Alfred Smith would be one of those killed in action.
Private Alfred Smith was buried along with many other Australian soldiers in the Pozieres British Cemetery. Private Smith was awarded the 1914/1915 Military Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and a Memorial Scroll for his service and ultimate sacrifice to his country.
His parents would thank their local community for their expressions of sympathy following the loss of their beloved son.
Harry Smith was born on 13 May 1896 the sixth child and second son to Marwood and Mary. Like his brother, Alfred, Harry aged 20 years, would farewell his family and enlist in the Australian Imperial Force on 24 February 1916 in Melbourne, Victoria with the 3rd Pioneer Battalion.
The 3rd Pioneer Battalion was formed in Victoria in 1916 in the wake of the failed Gallopili campaign and while trained as infrantry men were tasked with light combat engineering functions. With the military focus shifting to the Western Front the 3rd Pioneer Battalion would be deployed there in late 1916 and would remain there until the end of World War 1.
Lieutenant Corporal Harry Smith would be wounded several times during his service on the Western Front. On the third occasion after been wounded in the back, neck and shoulder Harry was discharged from service on 9 March 1919 and returned to Australia.
Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith would express his thoughts on the war efforts that claimed his son, Alfred, and wound his son Harry on repeated occasions in a poem, “March to the Rhine”, that was published on the 29 November 1918. It would read…..
Four years after leaving Bundara to fight in World War 1 as a young man, Harry, returned home a Lieutenant Colonial, a man forever changed by the bloodshed of losing fellow soldiers and mates. It was the loss of his older brother, Alfred, that would change his life forever.
With the social and economic impacts of war impacting heavily on Australia, the government established the Victorian Soldiers Settlement scheme, known as Battle to Farm, in 1925. The scheme aimed to repatriate Soldiers onto the land to support employment, family income and agriculture in Victoria. With over 1,000 days of active service in the Australian Imperial Force, Harry applied and was granted a lease for land in Dry Gully near Omeo. In addition to the 23 acres Harry already owned and the 580 acres Ellen owned two miles from Harry’s property, Harry was granted a freehold lease of 1105 acres.
As a sheep and cattle grazier, Harry, worked hard and continued to increase the size of his farm with it becoming known as “Innisfail” in the Omeo district.
No long after returning from the war, Harry married Ellen Rose Faithful in 1919, they would go onto have four children; Lavinia Annie, Marwood Alfred, Lorna Rose and Charles.
On 31 December 1931 Mary Smith (West) passed away in Lindenow South aged 67 years. Following her death, Marwood resided with son, Harry, and his wife and children. Marwood would pass away 15 years later in Bairnsdale after living with his daughter. Both are buried at Coongulmerang Cemetery, Lindenow South.
The son and daughter of Victorian Pioneers in the western district of Victoria, Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith and wife Mary (West) settled on the fringe of the Alpine National Park near Omeo. There they raised their children, home schooled them, worked the land and instilled hard work into their family. Newspaper articles brought to life the lives of the Smith family and told of the conditions in which they lived for some time. The second son, Harry, would return from World War 1 without his older brother, Alfred, who was killed in action and buried and France. Through the soldier land settlement, Harry would go on to own his own land and earn a living from sheep and cattle grazing on his “Innisfail” property.
Trove is an online database of Australian archives from newspaper articles to books and photographs, some dating back to the mid-1800’s. While vital records provide the outline of an ancestors life and family, uncovering newspaper articles on their lives can add substance to their story.
The Omeo Standard, (5 February 1918), Wounded and Missing, Omeo, Victoria.
Omeo Standard and Mining Gazette, March to the Rhine, 29 November 1918, p. 2.
SMITH, Harry, Soldiers Land Settlement Application, Public Records of Victoria, Melbourne.
Marriage Index. Australia. Victoria. 1919. SMITH, Harry and FAITHFUL, Ellen Rose. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.
Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1931. SMITH, Mary. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.
Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1946. SMITH, Marwood Samuel Kingston. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.
Bairnsdale Advertiser, (8 January 1931), Death Notice of SMITH, Mary, p. 3.
Bairnsdale Advertiser, (6 September 1946), Death Notice of SMITH, M.S.K, p. 1.
In his book ,The Scottish Onomastic Child-naming Pattern, John Barrett Robb explains the original naming system of Scotland, the “ancestral pattern”, was not only used to commemorate a child’s ancestors but was adopted as partly as a genealogical device to keep track of one’s ancestors. In his study, of naming patterns, he found in a small Scottish sample that the proportion of those following these traditions was virtually 100% with a minor variation within the pattern.
John Barrett Robb notes that few families had as many as seven sons or seven daughters and few families could name many of their great grandparents and that from these naming patterns the pool of given names was small, the chances that the ancestral naming pattern continued after the seventh child was minimal. With most families using the ancestral pattern having between 5-10 children, he outlines that ancestral patterns were followed for generations up until the 19th century when patterns started to change somewhat, particularly when families immigrated.
Holton and Winch in their book “Discover your Scottish Ancestry”, outlines that there are four main types of surnames; local names, relationship names, occupational names and nicknames. There are some parallels with the work of Barrett Robb with similarities between the ancestral pattern and the relationship surname pattern. They add that where families followed these patterns rigidly, duplication’s of names were evident. One reason for these duplication’s was when a young child, usually younger than five years, became ill, a newborn was often also named that of the ill child to ensure that should that child pass away, the name was carried down to the next generation. Of course, if both children lived to be adults, two children within the same family would have the same name.
For daughters, John Barrett Robb, adds another ancestral pattern whereby middle names were taken from the mother or grandmother’s maiden name. Holton and Winch explain that the use of pet names and variations of names were used interchangeably with a given name.
The Fleming family and their ancestral naming pattern
Andrew Fleming was born on 9 February 1869 the illegitimate son of Jane Fleming, his wife Rachael Forrester Brown was the daughter of Robert Brown (1836 – 1882) and Rachael Forrester (1835 – 1914) and born on 2 August 1872. Andrew and Rachael were married on 23 July 1891 and would go on to have 16 children.
As a young girl growing up I was aware that my Nana Jean was born in Scotland and was one of many children in her family. At the time, the family would say Nana was one of 13 children, which I found extraordinary! I don’t recall any stories that my Nana told me about her family in Scotland or any that my Grandma or Mum past down to me. It was because of this unknown that I ended up researching my Nana’s family history as one of my first and ongoing projects in my genealogy journey.
When asked, my Mum could only recall a few names of Nana’s siblings and trawled through her emails to an email sent by a Scottish cousin that gave a list, that between the two of them they had come up with. Other than this, little was known about Nana’s parents and siblings and those ancestors that came before them. It turned out not all the names on the list were useful in locating their registrations of birth and this is where the website What’s in a Name came in handy for finding out the variations of given names in Scotland.
Unlike most families Rachael and Andrew would have 11 daughters and because the pool of names for daughters at that time was not big, the use of variations to given names emerged. I soon found that the names that were on the list that Mum gave me were mostly pet names that the Scottish use as alternatives to a person’s given name. Just to make it all a bit more complicated!
My research soon confirmed that as I built the Fleming and Brown family tree I could see that they had named their children in accordance with the onomastic child-naming pattern and for daughters this was how names were derived:
The first daughter was named for her mother’s mother The second daughter was named for her father’s mother The third daughter was named for her mother’s father’s mother The fourth daughter was named for her father’s father’s mother The fifth daughter was named for her mother’s mother’s mother The sixth daughter was named for her father’s mother’s mother The seventh through tenth daughters were named for the mother’s four great-grandmothers The 11th through 14th daughters were named for their father’s four great-grandmothers
In addition to the tradition for given names, the family also gave the oldest daughter a middle name which was the maiden name of the mother (the use of the mother’s maiden names in the Fleming family will be in an upcoming edition to the series “What’s in a Name?”).
Following their marriage in 1891, Andrew and Rachael, welcomed their first born, a daughter, on 24 March 1892 and named her Rachael Forrester Fleming. The name Rachael given to commemorate her grandmother Rachael Forrester and her middle name Forrester being the maiden name of her mother.
Andrew Fleming, her father, was the illegitimate son of Jane Fleming (you can find out more about illegitimate children in a future post). In short, this means that Andrew was born out of wedlock and for whatever reason the father’s name was not recorded on the registration of birth. On the 10 September 1893, Rachael gave birth to their second daughter, Jane (also known as Jean/Gennie) and named after Andrew’s mother Jane Fleming (1872 – 1934).
The fourth child to Andrew and Rachael was a daughter, Christina Fleming, born on 7 June 1897. Christina was named after Rachael’s father, Robert Brown’s, mother Christina Kerr (1798 – 1888).
Mary Fleming was the fourth daughter born to Andrew and Rachael on 22 April 1899. As Andrew was an illegitimate child and his father was unknown, the first deviation from the ancestral naming pattern occurred, with Mary being named after Rachael’s grandmother, Mary Candlish (1800 – 1880.
Rachael would give birth to their fifth daughter, Elizabeth Fleming, on 28 February 1901. The second deviation from the ancestral pattern occurred in the naming of Elizabeth, because the name of Andrew’s grandmother was named Jean Learmonth, the alternative name of their second born daughter. Therefore, Elizabeth was given to their fifth daughter, named after Andrew’s, great grandmother, Elizabeth Jeffrey.
On 8 April 1903, Margaret was born, the sixth daughter of Andrew and Rachel. Margaret was named after her father’s fourth great grandmother, Margaret Scot, born about 1721 who married to James Fleming.
Rachael gave birth to their seventh daughter, Janet, on 14 October 1906. Janet was named after her mother’s second great grandmother, Janet Morres who was born in about 1772 and who married to John Forrester.
On the 29 February 1908, Rachael gave birth to twin daughters, Jemima and Joan. As the eighth and ninth daughters born in the Fleming family, it appears that the ancestral naming pattern was not used, with neither names being found in the ancestors that came before them. Sadly, both Jemima and Joan died as infants, the former on 15 March 1908 and the later on 15 November 1908.
Rachael gave birth to her tenth daughter, Isabella, on 28 May 1914. It seems that the ancestral pattern continued with Isabella’s birth who was named after her father’s fifth great grandmother Isobel Mitchel who was born in about 1620 and who married Patrick Scot.
On the 9 May 1917, Rachael gave birth to her youngest child, a daughter named Jessie. Jessie, at that time, was not a traditional Scottish name, however research shows that it can be used as a pet name for Janet, a name previously given to an older sister.
Researching the ancestral naming pattern using my Fleming-Brown ancestors has been an enormous task and with a few challenges. Apart from Rachael and Andrew having 10 daughters (plus sons) tracing back through their ancestors was not as easy as the ancestral naming pattern suggests. This was particularly harder as Andrew was registered at birth as a illegitimate child. For the Fleming – Brown family, like Scotland at that time, only had a small range of names to choose from and there were overlaps in the names of their ancestors and may be the reason that pet names were used for the younger daughters.
Lessons that may be helpful in your journey to build your Scottish family tree….
The wealth of records in Scotland was valuable in tracing the ancestors of Andrew Fleming and Rachael Forrester Brown, some of the lessons to come from building this tree and researching the ancestral naming pattern used by the family for generations, includes:
By reviewing previous families in the family tree and their naming patterns of children, I was able to make inferences about what Andrew and Rachael may have named their daughters when I was locating their registrations of birth
I was mindful that for a family having ten daughters it would not have been possible to name all girls under the traditional ancestral pattern, so researching pet names was useful and provided alternative names to search for
Researching through the ancestors of the Andrew and Rachael was, while time consuming, was also a rewarding experience in gaining a greater knowledge of these ancestors and finding that records dating back as earlier as the 1620’s were available
Barrett Robb, John, (2017), The Scottish Onomastic Child-naming Pattern, John Barrett Robb, p. 2 – 3
Holton, Graham S., and Winch, Jack, (2009), Discover your Scottish Ancestry – Internet and Traditional Resources, Edinburgh University Press, p. 114 – 116
Registration of Birth, Andrew Fleming, 9 February 1869, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Rachael Forrester Brown, 2 August 1872, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Marriage, Andrew Fleming to Rachael Forrester Brown, 2 June 1891, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Rachael Forrester Fleming, 24 March 1892, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Jane Fleming, 10 September 1893, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Christina Fleming, 7 June 1897, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Mary Fleming, 22 April 1899, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Elizabeth Fleming, 28 February 1901, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Margaret Fleming, 8 April 1903, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Janet Fleming, 14 October 1906, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Jemima Fleming, 29 February 1908, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Death, Jemima Fleming, 15 March 1908, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Joan Fleming, 29 February 1908, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Death, Joan Fleming, 15 November 1908, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Isabella Fleming, 28 May 1914, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth, Jessie Fleming, 28 May 1914, Bathgate, Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
On 29 May 1873, James Robinson and Hannah Slade married at the home of Mr Richard Perring in Wentworth, New South Wales. At the time of their marriage James was a stockman working at Gol Gol Station in western New South Wales near the banks of the Murray River and not far from the township of Mildura.
Gol Gol was harsh country to some of the first colonists in the late 1860’s to New South Wales who had endeavours to be graziers in the Mallee. . This remote station spanned over 200,000 hectares of land but continued to be impacted by long periods of drought and massive storms. At the time of his marriage in 1873 Gol Gol Station was owned by the Peppin brothers who sold Gol Gol Station in 1875 to John Patterson.
By 1874, James and Hannah, were living on Para Station a large cattle and sheep station consisting of over 528,000 acres and recorded as having one of the largest stock returns in the district. It would later be bought and renamed as part of Avoca Station and owned by the Cudmore family. In this same year on 5 March 1874, Hannah gave birth to their first son, William James. They would then move to Wentworth where Hannah would go on to have another four children Sarah Ann (1874), Mary (1881), Jane (1882), Robert (1883) and George (1885). Sadly her two sons, Robert and George, would die soon after birth and it would be her last pregnancy in 1885 that would claim Hannah’s life.
On 2 January 1885, after giving birth to her son, George, Hannah passed away from a dynamic puerperal fever, a bacterial infection that occurs following child birth. One month later, George, would also pass away. At only 35 years of age, Hannah, left behind her husband and four young children. Heavily reliant on his income as a stockman to support his young family, Hannah’s younger sister, Harriet Matilda, would support James and his children.
One year after Hannah’s death, James and Harriet Matilda married on 19 December 1886. Their family grew with Harriet Matilda giving birth to four more children, John Albert who died at birth, Issac John (1888 – 1907), George Frederick (1891 – 1961) and May Emma Elizabeth (1896 – 1988).
During the late 1880’s James bought some 200 bullocks and become a contractor working for the Chaffey brothers, George and William, from 1888 and was responsible for excavating some of the 170 miles of irrigation channels.. The Chaffey brotherswere respected pioneers of the Mallee district for their instrumental work in establishing the irrigation channels that were vital for supporting the many fruit growers who would settle in the Mallee district. It may be that James met the Chaffey brothers while working at Avoca station, which they bought and farmed until its sale years later. As a bullock driver in addition to his work building irrigation channels, James was also responsible for sinking dams and building roads across the district.
James soon become known as “Bullocky” Robinson and was one of the first to work at “Rio Vista” the grand estate of Mr William Chaffey. He also used his team of bullocks to cart between Menindee and Broken Hill when he would live in a galvanised iron shed on the banks of the river where he remained until his home was built in Mildura.
On 21 September 1907, James and Harriet’s son Issac John passed away after a six month illness with acute nephritis that resulted in heart failure. Their two remaining children George Frederick and May Emma Elizabeth would go on to live into their later years. George would have four children to Elizabeth Cramp. May while she remained single into her older years would take over a caring role for her brother’s children, particularly the youngest John Edward, after their mother Elizabeth left when John was just an infant.
After the birth of their children James and Harriet moved to Mildura and remained there until their deaths.
Four years before James’ death on 14 October 1923 at the age of 75 years, James became ill and as a result of blood poisoning had part of his arm amputated. It was following this that his health declined and led to his passing.
In his obituary it was written that he was a early pioneer of the mallee district and renown as being well respected and a popular identity in the district. His friend Steele Blayde would write “we of the bushland, who have followed the tracks through the silences will miss him“. He would go on to say that Bullocky “did not belong in town and was more at home in some camp in the mallee” and concludes his obituary saying “lets hope the long western track is pleasant travelling’ for the old bushman and a permanent camp at the end of a tree“.
Harriet Matilda would outlive her late husband, James, for another 23 years and die on 9 September 1946 and like her husband was recognised as one of the early pioneers of the Mildura district.
You may be wondering why I have told James Robinson’s life storey from 1873 when he was working as a stockman at Gol Gol Station. Well James became my first “brickwall” in my genealogy journey. His life in Australia is well documented through official records, media articles and literature (that I am yet to fully explore), however my brickwall became apparent when I was unable to find records of how he got to Australia and who is parents and family were.
In part 2 of Bullocky Robinson, Ancestor Detective will delve into the official records found for James and write about how little clues left in these documents leads her back to his birth, parents and hopefully how he ended up in Australia. I hope this will help you knock down some of your genealogy brickwalls.
Registration of Marriage, James Robinson to Hannah Slade, 29 May 1873, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.
Charles William Robinson was born in Mildura on 22 February 1917, the son of George Frederick Robinson and Elizabeth Cramp. After growing up in Mildura, Charles enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force and stationed at Balcombe Military Camp in Mornington, Victoria where he trained before being deployed overseas. At the same time, Charles met his future wife, and they married at St. Peter’s Church in Mornington on 20 October 1940.
Charles started his operational service deployed to New Guinea on 24 April 1944, and the Solomon Islands on 18 April 1945 as part of the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion. After serving his country for some 1,448 days, Private Charles William Robinson was discharged from service on 4 December 1945. In recognition for his operational service, Charles was awarded the 1939/45 Star Medal, the Pacific Star Medal, the War medal, and the Defence Medal.
Years later, on the 28 February 1953, the Australian Military Board received a letter from Charles stating that while moving his wife and daughter from Mildura to Adelaide his war medals were lost. He writes that “during their trip to Adelaide his suitcase came off his car and burst open ,and this he said, his medals were lost”.
During World War II, Camp Pell in Parkville, Melbourne was filled with tents for returning Soldiers to live while in transit between their discharge from the Military and returning to their family homes. Camp Pell was said to be wet and cold with mess facilities that were poorly organised. Upon discharge, Charles spent some time at Camp Pell before heading home to Mildura.
PHOTO: Argus Collection, State Library of Victoria
Fast forward to May 2018 and The Prospector…..
Prospector, Andrew Lawless, searching for war relics with a metal detector in Gowanbrae Park near the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, unearths a World War II, 1939-1945 Star Medal inscribed with C W Robinson VX137169. The Prospector and his wife wished to return the medal back to any living relatives of Charles and used both social media and print media, particularly in Mildura where he was born, in the hope of tracking down Charles’s family.
With the popularity of social media, the posts were shared widely to a range of Facebook groups and individuals. A member of the genealogy website, Ancestry.com, found the post and after completing a search on Ancestry found records of Charles William Robinson attached to my Robinson family tree.
In steps The Genealogist……
Charles William Robinson was my grandfather’s oldest brother. Not a lot was known about my great Uncle’s life, who I never met, and after contacting my relatives to find out if they knew of his family and any children, I found myself at a brick wall. While family members could remember meeting Charles, they could not recall if he had a wife and children. Putting my genealogy hat on I started a mission to find any relatives that may be related to Charles.
Going through Charles’s military file, found in the National Archives of Australia, I discovered, in addition to Charles’s letter written 28 February 1953 requesting replacements of his lost medals, the name of his wife, along with a few different addresses, and his date of death, 11 July 1989 in Townsville, Queensland. Using the electoral roll I traced Charles from Mildura through to Adelaide, and onto Townsville where I found his grave in the Woongarra Crematorium.
First stop, the War Memorial of Australia in the hope they would have additional records. Unfortunately they do not keep or maintain records beyond Soldiers service history. With the Military insignia on Charles’s headstone I made contact with the War Graves office who approve the use of the insignia but they too, had no record of anyone contacting them. After having no success with anybody attached to the military, I headed to the cemetery in the hope they could help. The cemetery looked up Charles’ file and found the name of the funeral director and they became my next port of call.
I spoke to a lovely lady at the funeral directors who was moved by the story and why I was trying to track down any next of kin, and said they had kept all the records of past funerals and would dig into the archives to see what information she could find. I learnt that a R.S.L Chaplain conducted the service and, more importantly, she was able to tell me a name on the file who had arranged the funeral, let’s call her “Mary”. To my disappointment the telephone number written in the file was missing a number so i started thinking that maybe I was at another brick wall and that I may have to apply for the death certificate which should list any children.
Never to give up on a mission such as this, I took to the internet and social media to see if I could find Mary. After typing Mary’s name into Facebook I came across one name matching Mary’s. Could it possibly be that simple to find her? Just by typing a name into Facebook, surely not! Looking through her friends our found a friend with the surname of Robinson. I messaged Mary, and let’s call her “Elizabeth”, to see if they were related to Charles. I wrote….Hi “Mary”, I hope you don’t mind me tracking you down like this, as my mind was thinking am I actually a stalker, but I am looking for the children of my Great Uncle, Charles William Robinson who died on 6 July, 1989. Through my family tree on Ancestry, I was contacted by several people who saw postings about someone finding a lost war medal. I am wondering if you may be his daughter?……
First Elizabeth wrote back that night and then her sister Mary, who wrote telling me that Charles was her Dad! Yes, it was as simple as typing a name into Facebook, who would have thought? This story is not just about a Prospector finding a war medal nor is it about a Genealogist on a mission to find living relatives. This is also a story about a Daughter who knew very little about her Dad’s family and being tracked down by her first cousin, the Genealogist. This is a story reuniting a war medal with next of kin and cousins getting in contact for the first time. Who would have thought a war medal lost in 1951 could bring cousins together for the first time in 2018?
There have been tears and goosebumps, photos and stories shared and after meeting in person, we now have a bond that only cousins share!
Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 23 July 2018), memorial page for PVT Charles William Robinson (22 Feb 1917–6 Jul 1989), Find A Grave Memorial no. 180165398, citing Woongarra Crematorium, Townsville, Townsville City, Queensland, Australia.
National Archives of Australia: Second Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1939-1947; B883, Army Personnel Files 1939 – 1948; B2458 for item number VX137169. 16 January 2008.
Marriage Index. Australia. Victoria. 1940. ROBINSON, Charles William. 18199/1940. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.
The immigration of ancestors across the globe during the 1800’s and 1900’s meant descendants, in some cases, had little information about the families they left behind in their country of birth. While this adds an element of complexity to tracing your ancestors families, there is a wealth of information available to assist you in uncovering who your ancestors family were.
The census is one such research tool available to the keen genealogist to explore and track down their elusive ancestors.
The first census to be taken in England was at the time of William the Conqueror who in 1086 wanted a record of land ownership and livestock numbers. These early records can be found through History Magazine and is known as the Doomsday Book.
In 1801, the English government, unlike other governments across the United Kingdom, introduced the census for statistical purposes for the Overseers of the Poor and the Clergy. Every ten years following 1801 the census was undertaken and each time recorded more information on household composition.
In 1841, the information sought on households have gone onto provide genealogists with a goldmine of information to trace ancestors and their families across the United Kingdom. With a record of names, ages, gender, occupation, place of birth, and year of birth (often rounded up) in each household genealogists now have the ability to track down that elusive ancestor and gain greater knowledge of families and the lives they led.
By 1911 further details were recorded in the census, including how many children were born, how many were living or deceased at the time of the census and whether if any residents had a disability.
In this blog, Ancestor Detective, will go back to 1861 to trace the ancestors of Harold Downes. This exploration of census records will highlight the significance of these records and how much you can learn about your families and the lives they led.
Using the English Census to trace your ancestors
Harold Downes was born in 1894 in England and immigrated to and arrived in Australia on 18 March 1913 on board the ship “Orama”. After his early discharge from the Australian Imperial Force on 19 January 1916, Harold moved to Ouyen in the Victorian Mallee where he married Jean Fleming on 23 July 1924. After farming in the Mallee for some time and owning a dairy in Mildura, Harold and Jean moved to Dandenong where he became a poultry farmer. Harold died on 11 November 1963.
While Harold’s brothers also immigrated to Australia and outlived him, little was known about their family back in England. Using census records Ancestor Detective goes on a genealogy journey to trace Harold’s family in England.
The registration of Harold’s birth reveals that he was born on 12 December 1894 at Albion Street in Tamworth, Stafford to Daniel Downes and Eliza Roe. Using the names of Harold’s parents we searched Ancestry.com for the English census to trace Harold’s father, Daniel Downes, until his death in 1901.
We located the registration of Daniel’s birth at the UK General Registers Office, showing us that he was born on 11 July 1854 in Stafford, England to Abraham Downes, a shoemaker, and Mary Goodwin. In 1861 the English census was undertaken when Daniel would have been seven years of age. However, while his parents Abraham and Mary are recorded as living in Middlehills Street, Heathy Lee in Staffordshire. At the time of this census, Daniel was one of five children, yet on the day the census was recorded only Daniel’s younger brother, William was present. No record of Daniel’s whereabouts or his siblings on the day of the census has yet been found.
Ten years on in 1871, aged 17 years old, Daniel appears in the 1871 English census working as a farm laborer/servant in the Robinson family at Buck Bank farm in the township of Henbury in England.
By 1881, Daniel, aged 25 years, is married to his first wife, Eliza Foukes, and living at Hyde Hall in Lancashire. As a farm laborer, Daniel and Eliza have three children Ann Foukes (aged 5 years), Mary Jane (aged 3 years), and James William (aged 3 months). Six years later Eliza dies, aged 33 years, leaving Daniel to raise their three children alone.
By 1891, Daniel has remarried to Eliza Roe aged 22 years and they are living in Stonnall, Staffordshire with James William (aged 10 years) from his first marriage and Fred (aged 6 months). Daniel and Eliza would go on to have another four children by the 1901 census living at Cork Hall in Austrey. Employed as a banksman at a coal mine, Daniel, aged 47 years shortly after the 1901 census was recorded leaving Eliza, aged 33 years old, with five children aged under 10 years.
With five young children and no husband to support them by 1911 the children of Daniel and Eliza are split up. According to the 1911 census, both Fred (aged 20 years) and Edith (aged 10 years) are living with their older step brother James William in Staffordshire. Herbert then aged 18 years is living as a boarder while working in the coal mines in Burton Upon Trent in Derbyshire. Finding Harold and Arthur then aged 17 and 10 years in 1911 was more difficult and where they are living in 1911 is still a mystery to solve.
At the same time their mother, Eliza, has also disappeared from the census records of 1911 and it is not until her death in February 1923 in Staffordshire that she reappears.
In the years that follow 1911, all but younger Edith, immigrates to Australia where they live until their deaths.
Registration of Birth for Harold Downes, 20 December 1894, Reg. No. 1895/266, United Kingdom General Register Office. Certified copy in possession of author.
SRO of Western Australia; Freemantle Outwards Sep 1900 – Dec 1915; Accession: 457; Item: 61; Roll: 157
Australia, WWI Service Records for Harold Downes, 1914-1920, Series B2455
Certificate of Marriage for Harold Downes and Jean Fleming, 23 July 1924, Reg. No. 8882, The Victorian Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Certified copy in possession of author.
Certificate of Death for Harold Downes, 11 November 1963, Reg. No. 23493/1963, The Victorian Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Certified copy in possession of author.
Registration of Birth for Daniel Downes, 11 July 1854, Reg. No. 1854/82, United Kingdom General Register Office. Certified copy in possession of author.
1851 England Census, Heathy Lee Township, Staffordshire County, England; p. 3, family 17; Class: RG 9; Piece: 1949; Folio: 55; Page: 3; GSU roll: 542892
1871 England Census, Cheshire Township, Staffordshire County, England; Class: RG10; Piece: 3678; Folio: 98; Page: 4; GSU roll: 841869
1881 England Census, Lancanshire Township, Staffordshire County, England; Class: RG11; Piece: 4045; Folio: 21; Page: 36; GSU roll: 1341967
Registration of Death for Eliza Downes, 1887, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915, Vol. 8a
1891 England Census, Stonnall Township, Staffordshire County, England; Class: RG12; Piece: 2214; Folio: 114; Page: 9; GSU roll: 6097324
1901 England Census, Austrey Township, Staffordshire County, England; Class: RG13; Piece: 2650; Folio: 100; Page: 12
Registration of Death for Daniel Downes, 20 December 1901, Reg. No. 1901/120, United Kingdom General Register Office. Certified copy in possession of author.
1911 England Census, Tamworth Township, Staffordshire County, England; Class: RG14; Piece: 16835; Schedule Number: 21
1911 England Census, Castle Gresley Township, Derbyshire County, England; Class: RG14; Piece: 16770; Schedule Number: 71
Registration of Death for Eliza Downes, 25 February 1923, Reg. No. 1923/221, United Kingdom General Register Office. Certified copy in possession of author.
Silas SMITH was born to Charles SMITH and Ann (Lacey) SMITH on 6 March 1824 in Sangford, Somerset, England and baptised on the 28 July 1833 in Ulley, Gloucestershire, England. Silas and his younger brother, Henry, grew up in Whately Street in Langport.
Shortly after the death of his mother, Ann, in April 1842, Silas, aged 27 years, was employed as a Police Constable located in Bow Street in Middlesex. Three years later, he would meet and marry, Maria GOODING, the daughter of Samuel GOODING and Elizabeth (Smith) GOODING on 7 August 1854 at St. John the Evangelist in Lambeth, England.
On the 1 January 1855 under the indenture system, Silas and Maria, boarded the clipper ship “Heather Bell” in London, England and headed for the port of Hobart in Australia. They arrived in Hobart on 27 August 1855, seven months after leaving England. Under the indenture system, Silas was employed as a gardener and Maria a domestic servant, by James MACLANACHAN, a well-known grazier and politician, in return for free passage to Hobart.
In 1856, following the birth of their first son, Charles Morbeth SMITH the family sailed to Victoria and arrived in Portland on 23 April 1857 where they settled.
Still working as a gardener, in 1866, Silas, purchased a land lease of 40 acres, 3 roods and 10 perches in the county of Normanby and the district of Homerton, which would later be called Narrawong. The family would reside at the family property, “Sunny Bank”, for many years to come and where Silas would become a renowned as a grazier and community man.
Silas and Maria would go on to have ten children between 1856 and 1872. Eldest son Charles Morbeth (1856 – 1922) would be followed by Morgey Gooding (1857 – 1949), Maude Mabel (1858 – 1888), Milo John (1859 – 1946), Marwood Samuel Kingston (1861 – 1946), Meta Mary Edith (1864 – 1940), Mahala Gertrude Lacey (1865 – 1943), Mira Minnie (1868 – 1952), Manoah Effey (1870 – 1945) and youngest Matthew Henry (1872 – 1944).
On 4 November 1896 at their property in Narrawong, Maria, would die suddenly, aged 68 years. The Portland Guardian reported at the time, that Maria was going to milk the cows when she collapsed and didn’t regain consciousness, passing away the following morning. Silas would eventually move in with his daughter Morgey Gooding HANLON and son in law James HANLON who were the licensee of the nearby Criterion Hotel in Hamilton.
On 5 July 1915, aged 91 years, Silas passed away. In his Obituary he was described as one of the very earliest colonists and a prominent worker in horticulture and agriculture. In an article of the Portland Guardian, Silas was recognised as amongst the original founders of St. James’ Church in Tyrendarra that was built by the community in 1874. Both, Silas and Maria, were laid to rest at the Narrawong Cemetery in Narrawong
I was at the start of my genealogy journey to uncover my
Nana Jean’s ancestors. Not a lot was
known about my Nana’s family and I was too little when she was alive to ask her
questions about her life. Our family
knew that Nana was born in 1893 in Bathgate, Scotland and was the second eldest
of 16 children, although I didn’t know how many siblings there were at the time. One thing my family remembers was my Nana
always said she was a descendant of Mary Queen of Scots, whether that is true
or not I am yet to discover.
I didn’t know what to expect during this genealogy journey
but I was keen to find out…..
I located Nana’s birth date, 9 September 1893, on her grave record at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery and her parent’s names, Andrew Fleming and Rachel Brown, from her record of death. So, with my Nana’s birth date and the names of her parents in hand I headed to Scotland, in cyber world, to find out who my Nana’s family were.
My initial search began when I entered Nana’s name and her parent’s names into a family tree I started on Ancestry.com. These details triggered a range of hints of information available on both my Nana and her parents. Ancestry took me to the 1901 Scotland Census (you can learn more about the census here) for the household of Andrew and Rachel Fleming and their six children (Rachel aged 9, Jane aged 7, Andrew aged 5, Christina aged 3, Mary aged 1, and Elizabeth aged one month). No Jean! Maybe it was the wrong Fleming family?
Searches through other census records for 1901 and West Lothian did not uncover another Fleming family headed by Andrew and Rachel Fleming.
My next port of call was ScotlandsPeople (find out more on ScotlandsPeople in future posts) for a registration of birth for my Nana Jean. The initial search using year of birth and Nana’s name found no records and an advanced search revealed no records. How was this possible?
Searching the Fleming line for more information I found a photograph that identified possible ancestors of Andrew Fleming, so I contacted the owner of that family tree on Ancestry.com. I asked about the photograph and the people in it, to see if they were possibly my Nana’s ancestors. After some initial emails I learnt about naming traditions in Scotland and the use of alternative given names. I was told that those named Jean were also called Jane, just to add to the confusion!
This was to be my first genealogy lesson and here lay my first challenge in finding both Nana’s birth certificate and her family through the Scotland Census!
Back to the census record I found from 1901. I noted that one of the children in the Fleming household was a daughter, Jane aged 7 years, born about 1894…..maybe this was my Nana Jean?
I headed back to ScotlandsPeople, searching, for Jane Fleming, born about 1893 in Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland and there she was born Jane. Her registration of birth recorded her birth as 10 September 1983, to Andrew Fleming and Rachel Fleming “Mrs Brown” (you will learn more about Scottish name conventions in a future post). I noted that her birth date recorded on her registration of birth was different to the date on her cemetery record – one day out.
Lessons you can take from this research:
A given name for an ancestor used in their lifetime is not necessarily the name given to them at birth – look for alternative names and spelling;
Years of birth recorded on non-vital records such as registrations of birth and death, may not be accurate, such as Nana’s cemetery record – always source the vital record to verify;
Census records only record the approximate year of birth and age and may not be accurate – vital records are important to verify this information; and
Names recorded and the spelling of the same, may not be accurate, as often in the 1800 and 1900’s phonetic spelling was used or sometimes the person the census recorder asked did not know the details of all family members.
Records to check for you Scottish ancestors used for this
My name is Deb and I am the face behind Ancestor Detective.
I am a 40 something old Mum of an 18 year old son and a cute puppy. I have been working in government for my career in the field of emergency management. I specialise in research and evaluation, planning and policy, and a range of other areas.
Academically I have completed a Bachelor of Social Science – Emergency Management and a Master of Emergency Management.
Where Ancestor Detective began……
Ancestor Detective’s journey started when I was asked to look up how many people in Australia had a particular surname. From there my passion for uncovering ancestors, building family trees, searching for records, and writing about particular ancestors grew.
My first journey into my ancestors started with my Nana Jean who immigrated to Australia from Scotland. Little was known about my Nana’s family. The family knew she was born in Bathgate, Scotland in 1893 and was one of 16 children born. My Mum had recollections of Nana’s brother, Andrew, visiting Australia along with a grand daughter from one of Nana’s siblings. Nana told the family often that she was a descendant of Mary Queen of Scot’s but whether this was true or not it, was as far as talking about her ancestors as it got.
My second journey into my ancestors started with Nana’s husband, Harold, who immigrated from England. Like Nana, little was known about who Harold’s family was and where he was born. Harold died when my Mum was quite young and any recollection of Harold’s childhood has been forgotten or was never told.
As I gradually built these family trees and uncovered my great grandparents families, their vital records and details of their lives, my passion and interest grew and Ancestor Detective was born.
Recognising that genealogy in the modern world of technology and the internet can be overwhelming and often just knowing where and how to start your family history can be a daunting task. With a passion for research and writing I have chosen to share my genealogy journey by providing ancestor stories, along with tips and resources to help you build your families history.
As well as sharing stories of my ancestors and those I have researched for clients, Ancestor Detective, will provide posts that will assist in breaking down those brick walls, where going further back into your family history seems impossible. I will provide information on how to find different records as well as providing advice on the best ways to ensure that the ancestor you have found is in fact yours.
I welcome you to Ancestor Detective and hope you enjoy our blogs and all that we can provide to assist you on your journey to uncover your past. You never know who and what you will find…..
Please feel free to share our posts far and wide, provide comments on our posts and please get in contact if you have questions or would like to employ Ancestor Detective to uncover your families history.
There are so many stories buried in family trees.
— Henry Louis Gates Jnr.
Welcome to Ancestor Detective. I’m just starting our blog, so stay tuned for more. To get notified of upcoming posts you can subscribe to receive emails or you can follow Ancestor Detective via Facebook and Instagram.