Part 1 – A Final Resting Place

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.

Kirkton Old (Ruins), Bathgate

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.

Cochrane Street, Bathgate

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.

Hopetoun Street (Lane), Bathgate

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.

Fleming Grave, Old Bathgate Parish Church – Kirkton


Undiscovered Scotland, (2000 – 2020), Old Bathgate Parish Church, accessed on 30 May 2020 at

Wikipedia, (2020), Bathgate, accessed 30 May 2020 at

Find A Grave, (2011), Old Bathgate Parish Church – Kirkton, accessed 30 May 2020 at—kirkton

Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1995, FLEMING, Andrew, 3 March 1805. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Registration of Marriage, FLEMING, Andrew and LEARMONTH, Jean, 25 March 1842, Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.

Registration of Death, FLEMING, Jean, 1895, Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.

1851 Scotland Census, Parish of Bathgate, Scotland, ED. 1, p. 27, Line, 6, Roll. CSSCT1851_173, Year, 1851. 1851 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.

1861 Scotland Census, Parish of Bathgate, Scotland, ED. 4, p. 15, Line, 23, Roll. CSSCT1861_120, Year, 1861. 1861 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.

1871 Scotland Census, Parish of Bathgate, Scotland, ED. 4, p. 6, Line, 14, Roll. CSSCT1871_152, Year, 1871. 1871 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.

Statutory Registers Deaths, 1885, FLEMING, Andrew, 8 January 1885. Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author., Grave record of Andrew Fleming, died 8 January 1885, BillionGraves Record 6667714 Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Statutory Registers Deaths, 1895, LEARMONTH, Jean, 1 November 1895. Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.

In the absence of census records in 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  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.

Who lived here?….Part 1 – John Kelly

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.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1882, Certificate of Title

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?

The Leader, 18 December 1880

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.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1875, Violet Town Parish Map

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.

Euroa Advertiser, 4 February 1887

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.

Euroa Advertiser, 1 July 1898

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.

Birth Index. Australia. Victoria. 1842.  KELLY, John. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Marriage Index. Australia. Victoria. 1872.  KELLY, John and BLOCK, Mary Jane. Australia, Marriage Index 1788 – 1950.

Birth Index. Australia. Victoria. 1854.  BLOCK, Mary Jane. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Euroa Advertiser, 26 February 1909, Sticking up the Euroa Bank, Euroa, p. 2.

The Leader, 18 December 1880, To The Editor of the Leader, p. 6.

Australia Birth Index. Victoria. 1873.  KELLY, Samuel John. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1875, Violet Township Map, County of Moira.

Euroa Advertiser, 4 February 1887, Fortnightly Stock Sale Day, Euroa, p. 3.

Euroa Advertiser, 1 July 1898, To be let or sale, p. 3.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1884, Certificate of Title Lot 11 Primrose Street, Violet Town, Melbourne.

Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1911.  KELLY, John. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985.

Public Record Office Victoria; North Melbourne, Victoria; Victorian Wills, Probate and Administration Records 1841-1925; KELLY, John.

Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1923.  KELLY, Mary Jane. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985

Public Record Office Victoria; North Melbourne, Victoria; Victorian Wills, Probate and Administration Records 1841-1925; KELLY, Mary Jane.