Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sometimes it takes more than one source to find an answer

Thanks to NSW Births Deaths & Marriages and the skill of transcription agents such as Laurie Turtle, I have the birthplace of my great-grandfather's half-sister as "Off Cowles Road, Middle Harbour, Mosman". Mosman is a beautiful harbour-side suburb just north of Sydney. Her birth was registered as Arita Lillian Barrett, but she was known as Rita, and her death transcription lists this name.

Because I am extra fussy, I wanted an actual physical address for this event, and it took a number of sources to get there. Cowles Road is 1.3 km long, and "Off Cowles Road" includes about 20 side streets, so I knew I had to get really specific. I emailed Mosman Library, asking if they knew of any hospitals that were operating in 1904, but no luck there.

My next online search was the City of Sydney Library's Sands Directories, a searchable list of Sydney, suburban and country households and businesses from 1858 to 1933. These are like the White Pages and Yellow Pages combined, but without phone numbers. I could look through them all day, every day. They're fascinating. Most properties were known by their house name rather than number, so that was interesting, but wouldn't help me find the property on a current map.

To most effectively search within the Sands Directory I needed a name, and the person named as Present at Birth was Mrs Cleland (nurse).

The only Cleland in the suburb of Mosman in 1904 was D Cleland, who was listed under "Glover Street - South side", and his name is the last name before the Bardwell Road intersection. Glover Street does come off Cowles Road, and Bardwell Road intersects Glover Street, so it looked like the hospital was on the southern side of Glover Street.

Sands Directory, 1904

Where Bardwell Road intersects with the southern side of Glover Street there are two properties to choose from, one on each side of Bardwell Road. There are 55 houses along the south side of Glover Street now (2017) compared to 1904, when there were only 15. The house I wanted (according to Sands) was the last one before Bardwell Road. On a current map the house on that corner is number 32a. 

Google Maps 2017

Thanks to Google street view I can see that the Glover Street facade of the house looks like it was originally one big home converted into two, which was probably the case if the house had been large enough to be a private hospital.

Google street view image 2009
The NSW Government's land and mapping agency, SixMaps, provides a crisper aerial view than Google Maps, which is better for reproducing here. 

Aerial view from SixMaps NSW 2017
Without delving into land deeds and title searches (I'm saving that for another blog post), I thought I would look on some real estate websites to see photos taken inside the property, and found that 32 and 32a Glover Street was apparently built in 1920, some 16 years after Rita was born. This will require some more investigation, as I'm guessing that this date might only be an estimate. So while I was disappointed not to see the actual room Rita was born in (which I realise is quite unlikely), I was happy to have a more specific location than "Off Cowles Road".

PS Further checking on Trove revealed that Nurse Cleland's six-roomed weatherboard house was destroyed by fire in October 1919, so a build date of 1920 could be accurate after all!

Monday, 15 August 2016

And another one.....

This final assessment task was an object biography, which I hadn't heard of before, but that's why I'm doing this course, to learn new things!

My object is a 9 carat gold brooch inset with ruby and garnet stones, handed down to me through the women in my father’s family. Probably originally a gift to my great grandmother, Ivy Lorne Cruckshank (1879-1947) presumably from her husband, Edward James O’Neill (1876-1962), it was inherited by their eldest daughter, Florence Mary O’Neill (1910-1985), then her only daughter Marea May Collins (1946-), then on to me as only niece who is interested in following the family tree and recording our family stories for future generations. I was also chosen as the recipient of this piece as Ivy and I share the same birthday of August 7th.

This brooch is still in its original leather case with the jeweller’s label inside. The label reads:


Techniques & processes used in manufacturing the brooch 

My research has revealed that the brooch is made from 9 carat gold, as identified on the rear by the “9C” marking stamped into the back of the lower horizontal bar. It weighs 2.3 grams.

The piece is comprised of two horizontal parallel bars terminating in a gold sphere. Surmounted centrally by a swirl of gold, mounted by two gold flowers, one with a garnet stone as the centre of the flower, the other with a ruby stone as the centre. Both flowers are etched on the gold petals. Mounted further towards each end is a gold etched leaf. The top and bottom of the two bars have gold swirl patterns attached, made of gold that has a corrugated texture. Each bar is made of a fine layer of gold worked into a bar shape and then filled with wax to give the bars strength. The fine holes on one end of each bar are where the wax was poured into the bar (see photo below).

Dating the brooch

There are no hallmarks on the brooch to date it accurately, so I have relied upon research done on other similar brooches that have the same look and feel as my piece. In an email (1) from estate jeweller, Tom Muir, from Morpeth Antique Jewellery Gallery he says: “my opinion is that the brooch is before 1920”.

Further research using Carter’s Price Guide to Antiques (2) into gold bar brooches indicates that the brooch was made between 1910 and 1915, as it is similar in look to other Australian brooches made around that time.

The brooch being in its original leather display case is a bonus, as the case bears a sticker with the name and location of the jewellery store it was purchased from: E. HENNINGS, Jeweller, CESSNOCK.
Research into the Sands Directories: Sydney and New South Wales, Australia, 1858-1933 (3) has shown that EH Hennings was a jeweller in Cessnock, NSW, from 1914 to 1934.

Hennings’ arrival in Cessnock was mentioned on page 3 of The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder (NSW : 1913-1954) on Friday 2 Jan 1914: “Mr. E. Hennings, a prominent resident and business man of South Grafton has purchased Mr.Voisey’s Watchmaking and Jewellery business.” (4)
His departure was also written up in The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder (NSW : 1913-1954): Mr. E. Hennings, who has carried on business as a jeweller in Cessnock for the past 20 years, and who is leaving the district to establish a similar business in Scone, was farewelled...” (5)
Knowing when the store was operating in Cessnock helps to date the case, and therefore the piece itself. The case looks to be of the same vintage and appears almost tailor-made to house the brooch.
Other dating evidence is the tube hinge, and its simple “C” clasp, which was used before safety catches became commonly used on pinned jewellery. The blog states that:

The ‘T-bar pins and c-clasp’ types were used from the 18th Century up until the around 1910s, after which they fell out of favour.” (6)

Practical and symbolic uses

In the previously mentioned email from Tom Muir (1), he says: “it has many uses it can be worn on the front of the neck or on the front to hang a watch or attach a muff chain”.  In symbolic terms it may have been a gift or token of love, or possibly even peace offering after a tiff. Maybe Ivy bought it for herself after falling in love with it in the shop window.

Made by

The manufacturing jeweller’s name is unknown. It may have been Ernest H. Hennings himself, an employee of his, or the brooch may have been bought as retail stock to fill his new shop in 1914. It may have been brought over from his previous South Grafton store when he moved to Cessnock, and been placed in the leather brooch case with his Cessnock store’s label on it. There are no other identifying hallmarks on the piece or the case other than the gold carat marking of 9C.

Made for

This brooch may have been commissioned for or by Ivy, or could have been general retail stock purchased for Hennings’ jewellery store.

Alteration and damage

Some of the gold swirls have become slightly straightened, most likely from them being caught on clothing over the many years of its use.

Preservation and treatment

This brooch has been kept in its leather case for the past 100 years. Repairs will only be carried out by a specialist antique jewellery restorer. It has had no other treatments or repairs in its lifetime.

Effects, feelings, messages created

I am thrilled to be the current custodian of the brooch, and plan to hand it onto one of my daughters. I am impressed by the workmanship, and feel that the jeweller may have been showing off his skills in fine gold sculpting. It is an exquisite piece which is well crafted, showing layers of detail and craftsmanship.

How and why stored

It has been stored in its original leather case (which measures 85 mm x 34 mm x 22 mm) in a dressing table drawer, and now in a desk drawer. It is away from sunlight and potential water damage.

Oral history provenance

My aunt, Marea Smith, informed me in an oral history interview (7) that it was her mother’s. It would have been given to her by her mother, Ivy, & Ivy was most likely given it by her husband, Edward.


1. Tom Muir, e-mail message to author, July 17, 2016.
2. Carter’s Price Guide to Antiques "Bar - Brooches - Carter's Price Guide To Antiques And Collectables". 2016.Carters.Com.Au. Accessed August 10 2016.
3. Sands Directories: Sydney and New South Wales, Australia, 1858-1933 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Accessed August 10 2016.
4. "Current Notes - The Cessnock Eagle And South Maitland Recorder (NSW : 1913 - 1954) - 2 Jan 1914". 2016. Trove. Accessed August 10 2016.
5. "POPULAR TOWNSMAN FAREWELLED - Mr. E. Hennings Going To Scone. Presentation From Rifle Club - The Cessnock Eagle And South Maitland Recorder (NSW : 1913 - 1954) - 2 Mar 1934". 2016. Trove. Accessed August 10 2016.
6. "Five Tips On How To Date A Vintage Brooch…. With Pictures To Help!". 2013. The Jewellery Muse. Accessed August 10 2016.
7. Smith, Marea. Interview by author. iPhone recording. Point Frederick, New South Wales, March 5, 2016.

Another University of Tasmania assessment for the Place, Image, Object subject in the Diploma of Family History

For this assessment we produced an annotated map of a place of significance to us.
I chose Cessnock Cemetery, which is the resting place of quite a few of my ancestors.

A 250-word maximum reflective statement was part of the assessment:

My intention was to honour my ancestors with a visual representation of their burial places. I chose Cessnock Cemetery at Nulkaba, because many generations of our family are buried there, the earliest being my great-great-grandfather, John Cruckshank, in 1912. My father’s parents, great-grandparents, and four of his eight great-grandparents are all at Nulkaba.

To annotate this map I included photographs, funeral notices and headstone photos to add visual interest and personalise the plan.

As children visiting the cemetery we were aware of the differences between the religious sections - that people wanted to stay with their own faith, even after death. Being from a Catholic family it felt strange to be visiting the Anglican section, although we have two sets of ancestors buried there. One couple and their 12-year-old daughter (after whom my grandmother was named) were staunch Anglicans, the other couple were buried together even though she was Irish Catholic and he was Anglican. 

There were several challenges. The plot numbers aren’t visible, and I had to rely on memory and previous photos to help me locate the sites. Some of the burials are more recent than Trove, so I was unable to obtain funeral notices for these people. Also, Google Earth wouldn’t print with enough detail so I used SIX maps for the base map of the cemetery. Another challenge was that Cessnock City Council’s cemetery maps are not consistent sizes, so when joined together they don’t properly represent the actual layout of the plots within the cemetery.

Results should be in within a couple of weeks. If nothing else I got to enjoy another trip to my favourite cemetery.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Convict Ancestors Story for UTAS Diploma in Family History

I'm loving the Diploma offered by the University of Tasmania. Another subject completed, and lots of information learned along the way. This article below was a submission for the final assessment in the Convict Ancestors subject. There were also two breakout articles, which I have left off the story. I might add them later as separate posts.

My 5x great-grandmother, Esther Salamon, was a formidable convict woman, who showed great strength and fortitude throughout her long life. After 482 days in London’s Newgate prison, a voyage of 5 months and 19 days, through at least four marriages and de facto partnerships, she established and ran successful businesses as a dealer, boarding house mistress, and bathing house proprietor in the colony of Sydney, as well as providing for her 16 children [1].

Based on Esther’s age at her trial, later marriage, and date of death it seems that Esther was born sometime before 19 July 1775, presumably in England. The readily available UK census starts in 1841, by which time she is well established in Australia, and it’s not possible to find a missing person gap in a census. Esther was Jewish and the first of several records to confirm this fact is the list of prisoners in Newgate prison. It is unlikely that she was baptised, and I have not been able to locate any sacrament for her in the Church of England or non-Conformist registers, and the birth of Jewish girls was not recorded in their own registers [2]. As a result, I have had more than 20 years of fruitless searching for her parents or English family of origin.

The Old Bailey Sessions House 1790, John Ellis, Corporation of London Libraries and Guildhall Art Library  

Copy of Old Bailey transcription of Esther Spencer’s trial 19 July 1794
Sometime before her conviction Esther married a Mr Spencer, as her surname was recorded as Spencer on her Old Bailey trial records [3] and she was described as a married woman in the Newgate prison registers.
No marriage record between Esther and Mr Spencer has been found to date.  Subsequently Esther was convicted of theft on 16 July 1794 at age 19, and tried at The Old Bailey. She was “indicted for stealing, on the 17th of July, two silver salt holders, value 18s. two silver salt spoons, value 2s. two silver pepper castors, value 1£. a silver table spoon, value 14s. the goods of Jacob Ruffy.” The Newgate Prison entry book describes her as being “19, 5’4”, dark hair, dark eyes, dark complexion, London, married woman Jewess” [4].
A variety of records exist detailing Esther’s ordeal in London as a prisoner in Newgate, during the 16 months she waited for decisions to be made about her pardon, and her many months of incarceration before boarding the Indispensable.  These can be found on the London Lives website , which also links in with the Old Bailey trials. 

This example is A Continuation of the names of the several Prisoners Confined in Newgate on the 28th Septr  1794. Here she is described as “19. 5/4 dark hair dark Eyes dark Complexion London Jewess Marr'd”.  These descriptors are almost verbatim from the Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales [5] which was compiled at the end of July 1794 and can be found on One can assume that the list in this image was drawn up from the Home Office’s July Sessions for Middlesex document. If any of these details were incorrect in the original document, they are likely to remain incorrect on all subsequent documents, as Esther was illiterate. It is unknown whether she would have been a party to the writing of the entries other than verbally responding to questions about her age and marital status, etc. This can make searching for other records more difficult, as we may be looking for a red herring. For example, if Esther wasn’t indeed aged 19 at this time we are unlikely to find a baptism record for her around 1775.
Various sources, such as the New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-18346 shows us that Esther arrived in Sydney on 30 April 1796 where she had quickly took up with convict John Fitz, with whom she had her first two children, Joseph [7] and Susannah [8]. Joseph, died as an infant [9] and was buried in the Old Sydney Burial Ground where Sydney Town Hall now stands [10]. Fitz then disappears from the records and in 1800 Esther takes up with fellow convict and builder, Englishman Thomas Stubbs. Esther’s son, Joseph, was buried under the name of Stubbs, so the relationship between Esther and Thomas must have begun between Joseph’s baptism on 2 Feb 1800 and his burial in October 1800. They have nine children together, the first being my 4x great-grandmother, Mary Anne (Marian) Spencer Stubbs [11].
The Biographical Database of Australia at holds a wealth of records pertaining to the convict indents, musters and early church records. From these I have created a timeline of Esther’s particulars in relation to her convict status.

From these records it seems that Esther appears to have been classed as “Free By Servitude” by August 1806, as indicated in the NSW General Muster. This ties in with information from the State Records of New South Wales website on Pardons: “Convicts with life sentences generally received pardons. In the formative years of the colony the Governor possessed the discretion to grant free pardons and conditional pardons as rewards for good behaviour, for special skills or for undertaking special responsibilities. Governor Macquarie introduced new regulations setting minimum periods to be served for both pardons and tickets of leave.” [12] No record of a Ticket of Leave or Conditional Pardon have ever been found for Esther, so it is assumed that her pardon was one of these indulgences by Governor Macquarie.
These records only touch on the great amount of information that exists regarding Esther’s life before and after her conviction. She died at age 80, after many years of child-bearing and business owning. In 1855 she was buried in the Jewish section of the Devonshire Street Cemetery, which was disturbed in 1901 for the construction of Central Railway Station. Exhumations were relocated to Bunnerong Cemetery in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, although none of Esther’s remains were found at the time.

[1] "Browse - Central Criminal Court". 2016.Oldbaileyonline.Org. Accessed June 10 2016.
[2] "Birth | Jewish Virtual Library". 2016.Jewishvirtuallibrary.Org. Accessed June 10 2016.
[3] "Browse - London Lives". 1794.Londonlives.Org. Accessed June 11 2016.
[4] Source Citation Class: HO 26; Piece: 4; Page: 15 Source Information England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales; Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, Series HO 26 and HO 27; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
 [5] Source Citation Class: HO 26; Piece: 3; Page: 86 Source Information England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Home Office: Criminal Registers, Middlesex and Home Office: Criminal Registers, England and Wales; Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies, Series HO 26 and HO 27; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England. 
[6] Source Citation Class: HO 10; Piece: Source Information New South Wales, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 1-4, 6-18, 28-30); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
[7] NSW Birth Certificate, 1797/468, Fitz, Joseph C
[8] NSW Birth Certificate, 1799/615, Fitz, Susannah S
[9] NSW Death Certificate, 1800/1008, Stubbs, Joseph
[10] "Old Sydney Burial Ground - City Of Sydney". 2016. . Accessed June 11 2016.
[11] “"Convict Records — State Records NSW". 2016. . Accessed June 11 2016.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Two Tuck brothers and a cousin who didn't make it home. Lest we forget.

Private John William TUCK was born on 10 June 1893 in Flinders, Victoria to Thomas TUCK and Elizabeth HADDOW. He enlisted in Melbourne at age 22 years 8 months to fight in the 6th Infantry Brigade, 21st Infantry Battalion, 13th reinforcements.
John died at age 25 on 14 November 1918 at the 3rd General Hospital, Abbeville, Picardie, France, from broncho-pneumonia.
He was buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension Plot 5, Row C, No 29.
His name is on panel 103 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Private John William Tuck - Abbeville
Panel 103 Australian War Memorial

Private Henry Thomas TUCK (younger brother to John William TUCK) was born on 11 October 1896 in Flinders, Victoria also to Thomas TUCK and Elizabeth HADDOW. A farmer, he enlisted at age 18 years 9 months in Melbourne to serve in the 4th Infantry Brigade, 14th Infantry Battalion, 12th reinforcements. Henry was killed in action at age 19 on 11 August 1916 in France.
His name is on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, at Picardie, France.
His name is on panel 142 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Private Henry Thomas Tuck - Villers-Bretonneux
Panel 142 Australian War Memorial

Private William TUCK (cousin to John and Henry) was born 17 December 1880 in Flinders, Victoria to Henry TUCK and Margaret DOWLING. He enlisted at age 35 in Townsville, Queensland into the 11th Infantry Brigade, 41st Infantry Battalion, "C" Company. William died at age 37 on 18 April 1917 at the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, Middlesex, England of an amoebic abscess to the liver and empyema.
He was buried the same day in the Australian section of the Harefield, Hillingdon churchyard, grave 18 or 20.
His name is on panel 134 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Private William Tuck - Hillingdon churchyard
Panel 134 Australian War Memorial

Placing a poppy in Canberra 2015

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Memorial to the local fallen at Flinders, Victoria

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest we forget.

Friday, 1 April 2016

I've been Pandora'd - in two ways!!

Michelle Nichols from the Australian Local & Family History Bloggers Facebook group suggested a number of family history blogs for archiving by PANDORA, which is the National Library of Australia's website archive. This "Janelle's Family Tree Addiction" blog has been selected, and I'm thrilled!!

I was notified in January but I was holidaying in Tasmania at the time so I postponed my excitement until I got home.

I am allowed to add a special PANDORA button to my blog's homepage, which I'll attempt to add when I'm not so tired. Thanks to Michelle, the NLA, and PANDORA :)

Coincidentally, I've also bought myself another charm for my bracelet from the other Pandora - the jewellery store (no relation to the National Library this time). It's very appropriate. And sparkly.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

More family resemblances

Thanks to Barry Nesbitt, a genealogist in my husband's family who published the book "The Dr James Macky Story: From a Farmer in County Donegal, Ireland to Physician/Surgeon in New South Wales" I was able to see some photos of my husband's ancestors and could instantly see the likeness between him and his great grandfather and great-great grandfather.

My husband, Dean Macky, on our wedding day in 2004, age 39

Age 27

Dr James Macky 1844 - 1909
Photo probably taken in 1885 at his graduation from the University of Edinburgh Medical School, age 41.

A beautiful bride, and a handsome groom

George Duncan MACKY and Amy Lisette KING 

While preparing another blog post on family resemblances I came across this photo of my husband's great grandfather, George Duncan MACKY (1880 - 1940) to Amy Lisette KING (1881 - 1963). They were married at the Methodist Church at Millers Forest, near Raymond Terrace, NSW on 2nd December 1908.

Initially I was stuck by how beautiful the bride was, then I noticed how much my husband looks like his great grandfather George, then I thought how hot the poor bride must have been in all that clothing in an Australian summer. I bet she was glad to get out of that dress by the end of the day.

Friday, 25 March 2016

A full day's distraction

As someone (can't recall who, sorry) said this morning, a bright shiny object has taken their attention all day, as it did with many of us genies. See Maria's blog post for a list of some more. Here is my breakdown of ancestors by country of origin. I had to expand it to 8 generations (the 8th generation is two columns wide - I should have factored in the extra people before allocating my cells!) to get everyone in that generation being born overseas. I guess that means I'm a 8th generation Australian.

Initially I included names as well, so my head didn't explode. This version has no names, only towns/cities, counties, then just countries.

Then the accountant in me couldn't resist breaking down the numbers in each country, & turn them into percentages.

Ireland 50%
England 45%
Scotland 5%

It was an interesting exercise to compare these percentages to my parents' Ancestry DNA results (mine are still processing and I posted them 3 months ago. My husband's were in the same box and his results came back 10 weeks ago. Go figure). The Irish component was about the same, roughly 50%, Great Britain was 50% in my 8 generations, but only 20% of my (estimated) DNA. Then the DNA results throw in Europe West (16%), Scandinavia (9%), Iberian Peninsula (1%), with the remaining smidgin being Finland/NW Russia, European Jewish, and Europe West. The DNA results obviously go back many more generations of influence than my 300+ years of research results could find records for, although I do know the Jewish person, my ancestor Esther Salamon.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

A full day's work!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

International Women's Day 2016

In honour of all the women in my family on this International Women's Day 2016.

Here's to strong women.
May we know them.
May we be them.
May we raise them.

My mother, Kathryn, daughter Georgia (6), myself, daughter Kate (9) 2014

Edyth Mary Tuck Kerville 1920 - 2003
My maternal grandmother

Eva Ada Cleave Tuck 1891 - 1924
Edyth's mother, my maternal great-grandmother

Margaret Kennedy Tuck 1848 - 1929
Eva's mother-in-law, my gg-grandmother

Catherine Falvey Tuck 1813 - 1894
Margaret's mother-in-law, my ggg-grandmother

And on my father's side.......

Florence Mary O'Neill Collins 1910 - 1985
My paternal grandmother
Ivy Lorne Cruckshank O'Neill 1879 - 1947
Flo's mother, my great-grandmother

Elizabeth Lorne Brackenreg Cruckshank 1853 - 1949
Ivy's mother, my gg-grandmother

Rosanna King Collins 1890 - 1970
Flo's mother-in-law, my great-grandmother

Elizabeth Ambrose King 1862 - 1943
Rosanna's mother, my gg-grandmother

And to all the other female ancestors whose blood flows through my veins, thank you for being such strong and capable women. Through so much hardship you have paved the way for the generations of girls that followed you. Thank you all.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Writing Family History with the University of Tasmania

For the past few months I've been studying another subject towards the Diploma of Family History with UTAS. The subject comprised 6 short e-tivities of maximum 250 words each, and a longer assessment task of around 1000 words.

For this task I chose to write a portion of Ada's story. Ada Morrant was my great, great, grandmother. Her life sounded really desperate. She had a journey on a ship from London to Sydney at age three, a number of siblings dying when she was a child, then her mother died. She spent some time in the Sydney Benevolent Asylum while her mother was admitted there, possibly for a breakdown after losing a baby. She married a violent man to whom she was pregnant, and while he was in gaol she fell pregnant to another man and had to give that baby away (my great grandfather). The older child (the reason she had to get married) was boarded out to 12 different families over 12 years, all over NSW. He was returned to her when he was 14. She was reported by the police as missing for a while. She lost another child as an infant. When she was an adult her alcoholic father suicided and she found him. He had already been in and out of asylums for years. She later died of kidney disease. Poor thing. I wish I could give her a really big hug.

I was pleased to get a Distinction for this task, and I'm really looking forward to the next subject which is all about Convicts.

Assessment Task 2: Not Long Enough

Ada reflected on the drama and heartbreak she had endured over her life and wondered how she managed to bear it all. Arriving in Sydney with her mother and older brother at age three (1), she was happy to be reunited with her Pa, who she barely remembered from their old home in Surrey, England (2). In the years after they arrived another three sisters were born (3,4,5) but only one lived longer than six weeks, her darling sister Annie. Thinking back to the children she herself had lost (6,7), she found herself feeling some of the grief her mother must have experienced at losing two children in England (8,9), and then another two in Australia. It was no wonder that Ma spent some time in the Infirmary (10).  While the six weeks Ada had spent waiting for her at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum at age five had felt like a lifetime back then, it was merely a speck of time from the distance of 35 years later. She still missed her Ma deeply, even though she had died when Ada was only ten (11) .

From her hospital bed Ada’s mind drifted to when she met William. What a mistake that was, she thought with the hindsight of 32 years. Although, if she hadn’t met William she wouldn’t have had her own boy. He was also named William, and he was such a blessing to her, so her thoughts softened a little. Of course she’d had to get married to his father, being in the family way and all, but she didn’t know about his violent temper at that stage. He was a butcher, so he had a trade, and they lived together above the butcher shop on Botany Street at Waterloo (12). Looking back, she did feel a bit sheepish about telling so many fibs to the minister when they were married. If she had told the truth they wouldn’t have been able to marry at all. Saying they were both 21 when she was only 18 meant that she didn’t have to find where her father had disappeared to yet again to obtain his permission. Why William also lied was a mystery, thought Ada, when he was actually 25 and old enough to not need anyone’s permission, but then again he could lie and cheat like a master.

Poor little William was a sorry sight when he was born. His father said he was ruptured (13) but what did he know, or care? A hernia was not a big problem, and those doctors were able to fix it when he was ten (14). He was so lucky to survive the beating his father gave him at only eight months of age (13). The judge described it “as one of the most shocking it has ever been my painful duty to listen to the recital of”(13). Thankfully there was no permanent damage to young William, after the extensive bruising and both black eyes healed. She hoped his father got what he deserved while he was in Goulburn Gaol (15). She was glad that she never saw him again once he was released after five years so she never had the opportunity to ask. Ada was just glad to see the back of him. Two years with that man was more than enough.

Part of her did squirm a little when she reflected that he chose the same church they were married in to marry again five years later (16). St Silas at Waterloo. The hide of him! Did he really think the minister wouldn’t realise that he was still married to Ada? She thought that the three extra years he spent in Goulburn Gaol for that deed  was his just desserts. Silly man. She fleetingly wondered if he had the same cell as last time. Good riddance to bad rubbish, she thought, when she had heard that he had died only last month (18). She felt a bit smug to have outlasted him. Just.

She thought about Henry again. How she wished their lives had turned out better. He was a little bit younger than her, just one year, but he lavished such attention on her. He sure was a good cure for the loneliness she felt with William being in gaol. She supposed it was inevitable that she would end up pregnant to him. He scarpered off back to Newcastle (19) to some coal mine or other, leaving her pregnant and with baby William to look after with no support at all. The tragedy of his death (20) overshadowed her feelings of resentment for leaving her like that. The newspaper reported that he had cut his own throat with a knife (21). She couldn’t imagine anyone doing that to themselves, but her own father had done exactly the same thing only two years later (22). How very strange it was that both her father and the father of one of her children had died at their own hand using the same method. She shuddered at the gruesome thought.

She let her mind wander to a life that could have been, if Henry had stayed with her. Maybe his parents advised him not to get involved with her, seeing as she was already married with a child and with a husband in gaol. Surely Ada wasn’t their first choice for a daughter-in-law. They were the ones who insisted on the baby being handed over to foster parents in Wallsend, far enough away from their own lives in Paddington (23). Ada could almost smell the Benevolent Asylum again, as she conjured up memories of walking into the imposing entrance after being judged sufficiently needy by the Ladies’ Committee to be admitted (19). She thought they must have taken pity on her situation,
but she also felt like a tramp to have fallen pregnant to a man who wasn’t her husband. They didn’t know that what she had with Henry was so special and that only their circumstances kept them apart.

Ada sighed and closed her eyes for the last time. 49 years (24) just wasn’t long enough.



1 New South Wales Government. Inward passenger lists. Series 13278, Reels 399-560, 2001-2122, 2751. State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales

2 Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1841.

3 NSW Birth Certificate 1869/3966 District of Redfern Emily Morrant

4 NSW Birth Certificate 1872/1640 District of Sydney Annie Margaret Morrant

5 NSW Birth Certificate 1874/5472 District of Waterloo Minnie Morrant

6 NSW Death Certificate 1888/125 District of Sydney Emily M Barrett

7 NSW Death Certificate 1908/2684 District of Paddington Reginald Barrett

8  Surrey, England, Burials, 1813-1987

9 Surrey, England, Burials, 1813-1987

10 Sydney Benevolent Asylum, Journal entry CY 1220 02 July 1869

11 NSW Death Certificate 1875/3998 District of Waterloo Emily Morrant

12 NSW Marriage Certificate 1883/3088 District of Waterloo William Barrett and Ada Morrant

13 The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Wednesday 3 September 1884, page 6

14 State Records NSW series #13358 Dependent children registers 1883-1923 (11/22094-130; microfiche copy SR Fiche 7003-7317)

15 New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930

16 NSW Marriage Certificate 1888/3367 District of Waterloo William Barrett and Margaret Hossack

17 New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930

18 NSW Death Certificate 1913/15448 District of Newtown William Barrett

19 Sydney Benevolent Asylum, Inmates Journals, October 1883 – December 1886, Journal 2, Z A 7236 CY 1968 (compiled about 21 September 1885)

20 NSW Death Certificate 1901/15733 District of Wallsend Henry B Gibb

21 The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Wednesday 27 November 1901, page 10

22 The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Saturday 18 July 1903

23 NSW Birth Certificate 1883/9644 District of Waterloo William J Barrett

24 NSW Death Certificate 1913/15190 District of Sydney Ada Barrett

Friday, 4 December 2015

I loved it from the start!

Inside History magazine launched in Nov-Dec 2010, and this month is celebrating that 5 year birthday by giving away 5 subscriptions per day for 5 days. I was thrilled to be the lucky winner of one of those subscriptions. I've subscribed since its launch, so I'm happy-dancing about my win.

The magazine is issued bimonthly, which gives the publishers enough time to pack each issue with so many goodies that us genies love, such as little articles on what people are researching, book reviews and author interviews, as well as Ask our experts, what events are coming up in the family history world, reviews of genealogy apps that might be useful or time-saving for us, newly released datasets from the big companies like, the university libraries, as well as Trove.

Articles about Australian history an genealogy are especially well written, and I always learn something that I didn't know about that time period, looking for my own ancestor's surnames as I read, of course.

As well as this, the magazine is printed on beautiful thick paper, and when it arrives I always smooth my hand over the cover to enjoy the quality feel.

It's available in print and digital format subscriptions, at the newsagent and most big family history events, and hopefully even your local library has it for borrowing. If your library has magazine subscription app called Zinio you might be lucky enough to find it there too.

There is also a Facebook page that links to the magazine, and the website features even more information such as guest blogs, historical articles, author Q&A, and WW1 soldier spotlights.

Thanks to Cassie and Ben Mercer and their team for producing such a fabulous magazine.

If you haven't already read Inside History, give it a try. You won't be disappointed!

Friday, 23 October 2015

This is why I pay Ancestry the big bucks

For many years now I've known my great-grandmother's maiden name of CRUICKSHANK must've originated in Scotland, but I couldn't find the missing link that stretched from the family in Enmore, Somerset, England, back to somewhere in Scotland. My 5x ggf married Betty COLLARD in Enmore in 1772, but there was no record of his birth around there, and I had no specific area to attempt to find him in.

Enter Ancestry DNA. I had a match with a women from the USA, Jean, who had another Jean in her tree, Jean Cruckshank, born in 1644 in Botriphnie, Banffshire, Scotland. I'd never heard of the place before now, but sure enough, it does exist, and I'm sure it's lovely. Thanks to DNA being what it is I knew this was a real connection, not just a stab-in-the-dark-and-hope-it-fits type of result.

I thought I'd find out as much as I could about my William CRUCKSHANK in Enmore so I was well equipped for the search, hoping to find something (anything!) that would show me where he was born. William appeared in a search relating to his son, James, being given Freedom of the City of London papers in 1820, after becoming a Clerk and Solicitor.

Attached to this beautiful document was another lengthy one requesting permission to be admitted, and down the side of all the curly writing was this gem:

It describes James as "Son of William Cruckshanks of Botriphnie, Bamffshire, Scotland, Farmer".


I'd found the missing link, and of course happy-danced around for the rest of the evening, and there's even still some movement today. This hobby/addiction gives me such a buzz. I just love it!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

DNA never forgets, so they say

Convicts Esther Salamon Spencer and Thomas Stubbs had 9 children together:

Mary Anne (1801 - 1860)
Thomas (1802 - 1878)
Sophia (1803 - 1803)
Cecilia (1805 - 1896)
Elizabeth (1807 - 1888)
Annie Esther (1809 - 1837)
George (1811 - 1838)
John Emery (1812 - 1836)
Godfrey (1814 - 1814)

We are lucky enough to have photos of Thomas (Jr) and Cecilia from the 1860s or so.

Thanks to recent information supplied by Matiu in New Zealand, we now know that George married a Maori chief's daughter and fathered two sons, Wiremu (meaning William) Te Kakakura Parata, and Hemi.

This photo is of Wiremu.

I am amazed by the resemblance between Thomas and his nephew Wi Parata, especially around the brow area. I'm even more amazed by the photos of two living descendants, David and Steve. David is descended from Cecilia, and Steve is descended from Mary Anne. 

David and ancestor Thomas have the same cleft in their chin.
Steve looks similar in the brow and eye area to Thomas and Wi Parata.
Steve and Thomas were born 150 years apart, but the DNA shows through in their family resemblance. I think they could easily be brothers, going by their looks. Like Steve, I'm also descended from Mary Anne, but none of the men in my family look similar to these men. It's funny how DNA flows down the line, but seems to deviate around leaving its mark in some faces and not others.

Photo of Thomas Stubbs from the State Library of Victoria
Photo of Cecilia Stubbs from relative June in WA
Photo of Wi Parata from New Zealand History
Photo of David from his wife Barbara in NZ
Photo of Steve from Maree in Tasmania

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

We Are The Chosen

This beautiful piece of prose sums up exactly why we do what we do. It's a calling or vocation to do this work. I feel blessed that I'm the one on my family chosen to do this. 
Thanks to The Ancestor Hunter for sharing this, and to Della M. Cumming for her words.

We Are The Chosen

My feelings are in each family we are called to find the ancestors.
To put flesh on their bones and make them live again,
To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead,
Breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the story tellers of the tribe.
We have been called as it were by our genes.
Those who have gone before cry out to us:
Tell our story.
So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

How many graves have I stood before now and cried?
I have lost count.

How many times have I told the ancestors
you have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us?

How many times have I walked up to a grave
and felt somehow there was love there for me?
I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts.
It goes to who I am and why I do the things I do?
It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever
to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen.
The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

It goes to doing something about it.
It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.
How they contributed to what we are today.
It goes to respecting their hardships and losses,
their never giving in or giving up.

Their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.
It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation.
It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us
That we might be born who we are.
That we might remember them.
So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence,
Because we are them and they are us.
So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.

It is up to that one called in the next generation,
To answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy,
And that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

[Author: Della M. Cumming ca 1943.]