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.
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.