Thursday, October 23, 2014

The political life of Patrick Joseph Quinane

My great-grandfather Patrick Joseph Quinane (who fought in Gallipoli) was an ardent member of the Australian Labor Party. I knew this - my grandmother told me as a young girl she and her sisters would be dragged to local party meetings by their father when there was an important vote to 'stack' them. I was also told he was Doc Evatt's local election campaign manager. Evatt was, among other things, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, leader of the Australian Labor Party, and President of the United Nations General Assembly.

The following photo shows my great-grandfather standing at right (he had a glass eye from wounds in WW1). I am told that the man seated is Evatt, but looking at pictures on the web I am not inclined to agree:

Perhaps someone can help me.

At any rate I was aware that the National Archives hold his correspondence files (the Australian War Memorial holds his diary from Gallipoli). I found the following article on Quinane's testy relationship with Evatt here:

I paste the contents here also for posterity's sake, and will track down a copy of the book:

Learning from Labor’s past

15 APRIL 2010
Dr H. V. Evatt, who led the federal Australian Labor Party from 1951 to 1960, had  been a high-profile world figure during World War II and had served a term as an early president of the United Nations General Assembly.
Doc Evatt, notoriously, was a disastrous leader – the great Labor split of the 1950s occurred on his watch – but what is less known is that his political career was in difficulties even before he became leader. These difficulties arose from his failure to reconcile the competing demands of global diplomacy and domestic politics.
A cache of previously unexamined documents in the National Library of Australia sheds new light on this facet of Evatt’s career. Evatt’s entry into politics made headlines. On the eve of the wartime federal election of 1940, he stood down as a High Court judge in order to run as an ALP candidate.
Different Labor factions vied for his services and, buoyed by a wave of enthusiasm, he won the seat of Barton with a swing of 14 per cent. When the Curtin Labor government came to office in 1941 Evatt became a senior minister from the word go.
But the downside to Evatt’s importance as aminister meant he did not have much time to tend to his Sydney electorate.
Suburban disaffection soon surfaced as a result. Dissent was led by Joe Quinane, a local ALP member and unpaid secretary of the Barton Federal Electorate Council, the main ALP organising body in the seat.
Quinane was a bit of a fixer – it was due to his machinations that the way was cleared for Evatt to enter the House of Representatives. Quinane came to rue his intervention on behalf of Evatt. It was, he discovered, no fun having him as his local member. As external affairs minister Evatt was often away in foreign parts. When in Australia, matters of state and ministerial duties kept him confined to his office in Canberra. Indeed, in wartime the seat of Barton had a virtual absentee member. Evatt had little time to deal with local correspondence and often failed to attend ALP meetings organised by Quinane.
Quinane’s displeasure increased in 1942 when Evatt defied the Barton Federal Electorate Council after it instructed him to oppose the Curtin government’s proposal to send conscripts to the south-west Pacific theatre. On the eve of the council’s vote, Evatt paid Quinane a rare visit and offered to secure an officer’s commission for his son.
Quinane, who knew that this offer was an inducement to get him to drop his opposition to conscription, was not impressed. This was a completely inappropriate intervention by a senior cabinet member in wartime.
As the war dragged on, Quinane became evermore convinced that Evatt was out of touch with grassroots Labor opinion. In 1944 Labor Party members in Barton, motivated by old-style anti-banker sentiment, called on Evatt to oppose the Bretton Woods international financial agreement. Once again Evatt ignored the views of the Barton council. His focus was fixed on the creation of a new post-war world order and its grand accompanying institutions such as the UN and the World Bank, and he was not going to be distracted by lesser concerns.
Eventually Quinane warned Evatt that he was likely to face a preselection challenge because of his non-attendance at council meetings and his flouting of its recommendations on key issues.
In 1946, an election year, Quinane drew up a list of strategic government appointments, which, he considered, were designed to buy off possible preselection challengers in Barton. The list included Roden Cutler (the future governor of NSW).
Cutler, Quinane honestly believed, was given a diplomatic post in New Zealand by Evatt in order to spirit him away from a possible preselection race.
Dissent ratcheted up. Quinane feared that Labor would lose Barton in the 1949 election if Evatt, weighed down by his glory as a world statesman, stood again.
Quinane took the plunge and announced that he was standing against Evatt in the preselection ballot in Barton. On the eve of the vote, Quinane circulated a list of complaints against Evatt. He cited Evatt’s failure to visit local party branches and criticised his handling as attorney-general of the Chifley government’s attempt to nationalise the private banks. He reeled off examples of unresolved conflict and tension in such trouble spots as Palestine, China, Indonesia and Berlin in a bid to deflate Evatt’s reputation as a UN peacemaker.
Typically, Evatt almost missed the Barton preselection ballot. After serving as UN president, he returned by sea (Evatt was notoriously fearful of flying) and only just arrived home in Sydney in time for the vote. In the event, Evatt won the ballot easily, by 196 votes to 33. There was no way that such a senior Labor figure would be rolled. But the mere fact that Evatt had to deal with a contested preselection at all despite being a senior minister was embarrassing for the ALP.
The Liberals, hoping to capitalise on the internal disaffection with Evatt in Barton, nominated a celebrity candidate – war heroine Nancy Wake – to contest the seat in the 1949 election. The Chifley government lost the election and Wake slashed Evatt’s majority but nonetheless he was re-elected.
Evatt became federal ALP leader in 1951 and was never again threatened by a contested preselection in Barton.
The Quinane family, however, was not done with the Doc. Joe Quinane’s son Fred followed his father into the Labor Party. He joined the Commonwealth public service and moved to Canberra, where he became secretary of the local ALP branch. He also enrolled in The Movement, the anti-communist organisation run by B. A. (Bob) Santamaria, who was later to be a mentor of current federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.
In 1954 Evatt condemned Santamaria, whose help he had previously enlisted, thereby precipitating the great Labor split of the ColdWar era.
Fred Quinane remained in the ALP despite the denunciation of Santamaria, but this did not mean that he liked Evatt.
In 1955 Fred was involved in an attempt to depose Evatt and replace him with the deputy ALP leader, Arthur Calwell. Evatt, because he was based in Parliament House and estranged from the ALP in his own electorate, had got into the habit of renewing his annual party membership with the Canberra ALP branch. In 1955 he forgot to renew his membership. An attempt to remove him from the party leadership was launched once Quinane, as local party secretary, cheerfully confirmed that Evatt had let his membership of the ALP lapse.
Evatt’s opponents insisted that he could no longer hold any position in the ALP up to and including the parliamentary leadership because his membership had lapsed. His supporters demanded that this technicality be overlooked. The dispute went all the way up to the ALP national executive where Evatt was confirmed as leader only after ALP numbersman, Pat Kennelly, twisted a few arms.
This aborted coup helped to persuade Labor’s powerbrokers that Evatt could no longer be left exposed to the irritating incidents of insurgency that had become a hallmark of the Quinane axis linking Barton and Canberra.
In 1958 party insiders shifted Evatt to the ultra-safe Labor seat of Hunter. He was able to spend his declining days as Labor leader secure in the knowledge that at last he was spared the grassroots disaffection associated with Joe Quinane and his like-minded son Fred.
A clear message emerges from the various Quinane documents, now housed at the National Library. They show that Evatt’s political career was imperilled long before he precipitated the great split of the mid-1950s.
From as early as 1942 Evatt had to cope with an ever-rising tide of disaffection in his own seat of Barton. His base, untended there, eroded dangerously. Evatt discovered to his cost that prestige gained at international conferences is of little consequence – and indeed may be counter-productive – if a political leader becomes disengaged from issues and concerns on the home front.
This is an abiding political truth, as pertinent for Kevin Rudd as it once was for Doc Evatt.
The Canberra Times, April 14, 2010. Ross Fitzgerald’s and Stephen Holt’s new biography, Alan (‘‘The Red Fox’’) Reid will soon be published by New South Books.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Finding Freda

My grandmother Jean nee STANILAND had an English relative - a 'cousin' - with whom she correponded, named Freda. I never met Freda, but heard all about her, and my aunt Liz spent a lot of time with her when she moved to England. Given that my grandmother was born in Australia and had Australian parents, I wanted to know how distant this relative was. It is impressive that she was maintaining a family link back in England after so long.

So after corresponding with my aunt Liz, I have traced Freda, born Winifred FORD, back to my SNAPE family in Burslem, Staffordshire. Here is how, with the details my aunt provided in italics. What confused things was that Freda lived and married and died in Birkenhead area of England - a long way from where any of my ancestral lines live, so I have to keep searching backwards trusting that a connection would emerge.

Freda and my mother worked out they were second cousins, though I don't know how exact that was. Freda was some years older than Mum {ed: Jean STANILAND born 1917}. They were related through Jim Staniland, my mother's father. I don't know the exact lineage. Mum and Freda's grandparents must have been siblings (?). Jim's sister Ethel CRANE, who lived in Lane Cove, and Freda looked very alike.

I don't know how Mum and Freda came to know each other but they were writing as far back as I can remember. I thought it very odd that Mum sent her packets of sultanas and raisins at Xmas (it was later upped to those baskets of glace fruit) but of course England was still rationed for years after the war and exotic fruit was unobtainable. I can remember Mum being shocked when Freda's husband Eric died relatively young (in his 50s?) of a heart attack. When I stayed with Freda in the late 70s/early 80s, I remember her saying Eric had been dead for twenty years and she couldn't always remember what he looked like. They didn't have any children but were close with a friend's daughter Helen. Freda's married name was MAUDSLEY and she died in the early to mid 90s. No idea what her maiden name was. She had a sister but I can't remember her name. Actually, it might have been Ella.

Freda lived in Ullswater Avenue, Birkenhead, Merseyside, in an area known as The Wirral, which is a peninsula between North Wales and Liverpool. I'm just telling you this in case you come across the name. She lived there all the time that Mum was writing to her until the mid to late 80s (?)  when she moved to the nearby village of Upton, Merseyside. With the help of Google maps I think she lived in Slingsby Drive. To complicate things slightly, Merseyside was a county (like Somerset) which used to be called Cheshire until the 60s or 70s. It has recently gone back to being Cheshire. I stayed with Freda quite a lot over the years.

I was standing washing up and thinking of Freda and suddenly it was as though a voice said it out loud. I think Freda was Winifred Maudsley. Still don't know her maiden name. It is very difficult to find things in English records. I couldn't even find much on any Eric Maudsley - but of course they used middle names etc.

Anyway she died in late Sept/early Oct 1994. How do I know? I couldn't go to the funeral as it was on the day we set off for the Galapagos Islands AND in one of my carefully compiled scrapbooks is the itinerary showing start date 19th October 1994.

And so I used this information and turned to the records:

England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 about Winifred Maudsley
Name:     Winifred Maudsley
Birth Date:     12 Aug 1913
Date of Registration:     Oct 1994
Age at Death:     81
Registration district:     Birkenhead
Inferred County:     Cheshire
Register Number:     A20B
District and Subdistrict:     0371A
Entry Number:     196

OK so using this I can check on marriage - believe it or not in England they never developed a system to search for the two partners together in a marriage!!

So here they are:
Winifred Ford, Maudsley, married Jul-Aug-Sep 1939, Birkenhead Cheshire
John E Maudsley, Ford, Jul-Aug-Sep 1939 Birkenhead Cheshire

I assume the 'E' is for Eric. Knowing this I can now find his death:
Deaths December 1966
Name:     John E Maudsley
Birth Date:     abt 1900
Date of Registration:     Dec 1966
Age at Death:     66
Registration district:     Birkenhead
Inferred County:     Cheshire
Volume:     10a
Page:     31

While there is no suggestion J E Maudsley is the blood relative - he was from the Liverpool area:

Liverpool, England, Baptisms, 1813-1906 
Name:     John Eric Maudsley
Baptism Date:     22 Jul 1900
Parish:     Edge Hill, St Nathaniel
Father's Name:     John Maudsley
Mother's name:     Sarah Maudsley
Reference Number:     283 NAT/2/4

Well that doesn't solve it all of course. How is Freda related? So I looked into her birth... English birth indexes are useless as they tell very little - don't even show parents, but at any rate, many Winifred FORD's were born at the time so there are no obvious answers.

Her marriage certificate would be the most informative (British registrations ask for far less information than elsewhere). But then probate searching for Eric gave a stroke of luck:

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
MAUDSLEY or MAWDSLEY John Eric of 4 Ullswater Avenue Noctorum Birkenhead Cheshire die 2 October 1966 at St Catherines Hospital Annexe Birkenhead Probate London 20 December to William James Threlfall local government officer. 1475 pounds.

This is important because I have found the marriage of an Ella FORD, and the implication is that Freda's brother-in-law (her sister's husband) was executor of Eric's will, and the THRELFALL's had moved to London area by 1966:

Marriages Jun 1939
Ford      Ella      Threlfall      Birkenhead      8a     1447
Threlfall      William J      Ford      Birkenhead      8a     1447

They had one child registered:
Births Dec 1940   (>99%)
Threlfall      Shelagh A      Ford      Birkenhead      8a     1264     
(Shelagh married in Birkenhead in 1963 to Lionel M HOWARD according to the records)

Ella's death:
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 about Ella Threlfall
Name:     Ella Threlfall
Birth Date:     6 Nov 1916
Date of Registration:     Jun 1983
Age at Death:     66
Registration district:     Birkenhead
Inferred County:     Merseyside
Volume:     37
Page:     0674

Now I can use the birth dates (from death reg) of Winifred and Ella to find a common birth district, or a common maiden name for their mother, to tie the two together, and identify other children. Only the two girls match, registered in very different parts of England:

Surname      First name(s)      Mother      District      Vol      Page
Births Sep 1913   (>99%)
Ford      Winifred      Giblin      Reading      2c     696   
Births Dec 1916   (>99%)
Ford      Ella      Giblin      Wolstanton      6b     161 

Now that I know the father's surname FORD and the mother's maiden surname GIBLIN I can look for any marriages between these two parties, presumably prior to 1913. There is a marriage in 1889 (Sunderland), and one in 1912:

Marriages Sep 1912   (>99%)
FORD      Ernest      Giblin      Wolstanton      6b     287
Giblin      Kate      Ford      Wolstanton      6b     287      

I think this is a Burslem connection to SNAPE. The region WOLSTANTON fits, and I can  ignore GIBLIN as it is an Irish name, and the 1911 census indicates Kate was born in Ireland.

Looking at Ernest as a younger man born abt 1887:
1911 Census
7 Riley St, South, Burslem
William Ford     51 - born Burslem
Mary Ford     54 - born Burslem
Ernest Ford     24 - born Burslem, gas fitter
John Ford     21 - born Burslem
William Ford     19 - born Burslem

1901 Census
11 Riley St, South, Burslem
All five boys and parents alive, entered as above.

1891 Census
4 Barnes St, Burslem
William Ford     31 - born Burslem
Mary Ford     33 - born Burslem
Henry Ford     8 - born Burslem
Fred Ford     6 - born Burslem
Ernest Ford     4 - born Burslem
John Ford     1 - born Burslem

Ernest's parents:
Marriages Sep 1882   (>99%)
FORD      William            Stoke T.      6b     253  
SNAPE      Mary            Stoke T.      6b     253  

Mary SNAPE was born abt 1858 in Burslem. In 1861 and 71 she is living with parents John SNAPE and family, along with my ancestor, her sister, Ann SNAPE. Ann SNAPE came to Australia with another sister Lucy, Mary stayed behind (in fact she was married when the left).

Cracking this was pleasing - it took several years of occasional searching to get there. It was worth it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to pronouce TREVITHICK

I've often wondered how to pronounce the name Trevithick - newspaper reports in Australia mis-spell the word, for example 'Trevitick'. This would suggest there is a hard T pronounced in the middle of the word. Here is a hint.

Cumberland Argus
27 May 1935

Cumberland Argus  27 May 1935
What's in a Name?
At Parramatta Quarter Sessions on Tuesday - 
The name was T-r-e-v-i-t-h-i-c-k
The witness called it TREVithick
Judge Sheridan: TreVITHick. Australians won't be understood in a few years - outside Australia.
Mr. F. E.  Murray: I think the witness is an Englishman, your Honor.
His Honor: Then he's been out here a long time and got into bad habits.
After that, they called it TreVITHick.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ned the Pieman

My convict ancestor Edward EWER (1796-1859) had ten children (that we know of) with his wife Ann EDWARDS (1808-1854). One of those children was my ancestor Edward EWER (1827-1884). He was born and baptised in Parramatta in 1827, and when the family moved to Bathurst in the early 1840s he went with them. In 1864 he married Catherine AHERN(E) (1834-1910) and they had nine children. While not the subject of this entry, in late 1883 he was assaulted with an iron bar by a man named John Brown, and in 1884 died, probably as a result of that attack.

There is little information on Edward's occupation, but his father was occasionally described as a baker. In 1863, Edward the younger is entered as filing as insolvent, "a confectioner from Bathurst NSW". I recently found a series of articles referring to Edward Ewer as "Ned the Pieman". The initial article I found was actually from a series of reminisces on Bathurst published in 1918, and then using "Ned the Pieman" I could find these other articles. The reminisces  ('After 40 Years') are not uncommon in papers at the turn of the century, written (usually anonymously) by 'old-timers', though given that the article below is number 70, this was obviously a long-lived serial.

Exciting indeed, particularly that between the contemporary articles and the historical account they give some more insight into Edward's life. Edward was in trouble with the law on multiple occasions, and these of course dominate his presence in the newspapers, with the exception of when he saved the life of a young boy who fell in a river. These articles reinforce that troublesome streak, but clearly this was a man known by all the town.

And so, we learn:

Newcastle Morning Herald 
26 September 1883
Murderous Assault at Bathurst
BATHURST, Tuesday. On Saturday night a murderous attack was made by an old shepherd named John Brown, on a man named Ewer, known as "Ned the Pieman". Ewer had his head terribly smashed and one arm broken. The assault was committed with an iron bar. The house in which the affray occurred is the haunt of gaolbirds and other low characters. Brown had been "knocking down" a cheque for 20 pounds, and accused Ewer of having robbed him. Ewer lies in a precarious state in the hospital, and Brown has been remanded for a week.

Newcastle Morning Herald
25 October 1883
A Bathurst Assault Case.
BATHURST, Wednesday - A man named John Brown, for maliciously wounding Ned "the pieman" at Bathurst, has been sentenced to eight years' penal servitude.

Evening News 
12 February 1884

Bathurst Items
BATHURST, Tuesday. That Bathurst identity, yclept "Ned the Pieman" was found dead in bed yesterday. He had led a disreputable life for years past, and was only recently discharged from the hospital after having been the victim of a murderous assault by a man named Brown. At the inquest the jury found that death had arisen from natural causes.

Bathurst Times
15 November 1918
(By Old Bathurstian) No 70
Getting along Durham-street, after leaving the Victoria Theatre, the Red Lion and Hillyar's Grammar School, we cross Stewart-Street and find that the neat cottage built by Mrs Gore (nee Suttor) in the seventies, had been converted into an inn, and is once again a private residence. It is doubtful whether the requirements of the neighborhood ever warranted the granting of the license. Perhaps the Bench had kindly feelings towards the personal interests off the odd sergeant, I was not here and cannot say. Below the old "Belle Marie" cottage - and they tell me the hotel was named similarly - a well known identity of the sixties and seventies dwelt, "Ned the Pieman"; for that was the name by which Edward Ewer was familiarly known alike to men, women and children. Ned was one of the characters of the old town and his pie can, with burning coals underneath, was as familiar about the main streets as Steve the Bellman. Certainly the block from the Belle Marie Cottage to Peel-street has been improved the last forty years; but there is not particularly anything to write home about.


After posting this entry, I decided to look into John Brown, the man who assaulted Edward Ewer in late 1883, probably causing his death in 1884. Given the commonality of his name, and the lack of personal details about him, I have tried and failed in the past, but Ancestry's index to Gaol Description Books brought luck, and while I don't know what Edward Ewer looked like, I certainly know what his assailant looked like shortly after the crime:

Name John Brown
Date of photo Feby 1884
Native place England
Year of birth 1820
Arrived ship Theresa year 1839
Trade or occupation nil
Religion C of E
Degree of education nil
Height 5 feet 2 inches
Color of hair bald brown
Color of eyes blue
Marks or special features Scars of face and left hand flagellation marks on back
Tried Bathurst 24 Oct 1883
Offence Wounding with int
Sentence 8 years penal servitude
Previous conviction
Bathurst 1877 grievous bodily harm, sentence 1 month
Bathurst Sep 1883 obscene language, sentence 2d or 7 days
There are other crimes many years ago of which we have no particulars 

I have not been able to learn more about John Brown from the records, though the 'Theresa' was a convict ship, and there are several other gaol description book entries for him at earlier dates. That he was a convict is reassured by the fact that one of his distinguishing marks were 'flaggelation marks' on his back from being whipped. I've not been able to find a death certificate, but given his age, he could have died in gaol given that it was an eight year sentence.

I would like to learn more about John.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Same place, different time

It is relatively rare, I think, to be able to categorically identify the building or spot and ancestor was 150 years ago and to have been in that same spot. In the context of genealogy, the most likely building is a church, from a baptism or marriage (or, technically, a funeral), and of course graves that those before us mourned over and visited also. But unless the family home has been held continuously, homes and other venues are not often identifiable, and of course in most cases demolished. More generally, walked the streets of a city or suburb you know you walk the same streets, but specific places are difficult to pin down.

That is why I enjoyed finding this account of a concert organized in Sydney by my ancestor Sebastian Hodge:

Sydney Morning Herald
19 June 1869

Sydney Morning Herald
6 July 1869

Mr. SEBASTIAN HODGE'S CONCERT.-Mr. Sebastian Hodge's concert came off with great eclat last night, at the School of Arts, Pitt-street. The reserved seats were well filled, and there was a fair attendance in the body of the hall, although, having regard to tho high repute in which Mr. Hodge is deservedly held, as well for his ability as a musician, as for the readiness with which he has heartily
exercised his talent in the furtherance of philanthropic and kindred objects - it might fairly have been expected that he would have been met, not simply by an appreciative but by a crowded audience. In addition to his services in the band, Mr. Hodge played the clarionet obligate in the aria "Gratias Agenius," sung by Miss Kosten, and in the song " Bid me discourse," rendered by Miss Wiseman......

There seem to be a number of other examples. The nice thing about the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts is that the building was photographer during the late 1860s, and the photo is held the by State Library of New South Wales as part of a collection of photographs gathered by Lieutenant-Colonel William Cosmo Trevor, commander of the 2nd Battalion 14th Regiment. The 14th was in Sydney from Mar 1869 - Mar 1870 and it is possible this photo was taken around that time:
School of Arts, Sydney
(SLNSW, PXA 974)

The building had potted plants outside the upper window, and a dog appears to be waiting at the fron entrance. I wish the placard at the front door was legible. There are two lamp-posts outside the main door - the only that can be discerned in the picture.

What I really like about this building is that it still stands, almost 150 years later. It is no longer operated by the Sydney Mechanic's School of Arts, as as one might expect is operated as a bar but does hold a range of cultural events also. The fact the building still stands is amazing. And so I appreciate that I've been to the building, stood on its stone steps, and walked around inside on its timber floors, just like Sebastian Hodge did so long ago.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Last year (2013) I spoke at the annual Sydney University alumni gathering (called SUGUNA), and spoke about genealogy for Australians, focusing on convicts  in our ancestry. I was asked to write a short summary of one aspect of the talk for the SUGUNA newsletter, which was circulated this month.

Am I marked by the convict stain?

Many third-generation Australians are descended from one or more convicts, sentenced to servitude in one of the Australian colonies. This was once regarded as a ‘stain’ on the family’s heritage, something not to be discussed. This stain has metamorphosed into a badge of honor to be worn proudly alongside other Australian ancestry ‘achievements’ such as Gallipoli or the Eureka stockade (and I have all three!). Arrivals to Australia in the 1800s can be broken into three dominant sources, viz. convicts who stayed (voluntarily or involuntarily), soldiers and their families (pensioned out while serving or deserters), and immigrants (of the assisted and non-assisted variety). Convicts came to Australia predominately from Britain and Ireland, but also places beyond including Canada and various other colonies, and were of many races and religions. Even some Americans ended up in Australia by this path, through conviction in places such as Canada.

Descendants of convicts can be thankful that the administrative requirements associated with penal enforcement has resulted in one of the richest sources of information available for any group of people from this time, anywhere in the world. In my talk, I used an ancestor Edward EWER (b. 1796 Clewer, Berkshire, d. 1859 Bathurst, NSW) to demonstrate the range of records available, and how these can be used to ‘flesh out’ the life of one man. His life, as with any, would be difficult to condense into 500 words, and here I will simply identify the key steps in the life of a convict and the records associated with them. Access to sources is variable, but many are now available electronically through commercial and governmental archives. The critical point to make is that the following is presented chronologically, but the reality is that birth can be one of the last things identified about a person.

One usually starts with birth – notoriously difficult to identify for convicts as court records in Britain and marriage and death certificates in Australia often don’t state details such as names of parents and place of birth (‘not given’). Family life in England or the colonies can be explored through parish records (England) and civil records – in New South Wales these started in 1855, but the state gathered many parish records and these too have been indexed to create an artificial BDM index from 1788 onwards ( In Britain (but less so Ireland due to the Four Courts fire), records of court proceedings and hulk imprisonment allow a convict’s life from capture onwards to be traced, and the emerging British digitized newspapers effort makes this even easier. Transportation indents became more informative over time, and allow one to gain insight into physical description (e.g., ruddy!), tattoos, occupation, crime and sentencing. Ship diaries (surgeon’s journals) also record details of the voyage, and prisoners who were unwell, or misbehaved. Each step in the path to emancipation also involved issuing of a physical certificate that contained information including the valuable ‘native place’ (usually village or town of birth). A convict who continued to make trouble (not uncommon), or did extremely well in life after freedom (uncommon), will appear in the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence. For example, letters of request for sentences to be mitigated, or requests for a grant of land or allocation of a convict servant will appear in the correspondence. Perhaps the most popular tool is the National Library of Australia’s newspaper digitization effort (called Trove, The level of detail one can unearth on an individual is stunning, be it from court proceedings, letters to the editor, obituaries, and many more. Finally (literally), along with death certificates and obituaries, don’t rule out the possibility of a headstone existing for your ancestors, and the information that might be chiseled thereon (

There are many other smaller indexes created that relate to convicts, from gaol description books, requests to marry, to the convict savings bank books. Examples of the information available from many of these records can be found at my blog (, and I’m happy to help provide people with direction and assistance related to both their convict ancestors, and those who chose a legally quieter path in life. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

ALLEYN (ALLEYNE/ALLEN) baptisms in Golden, Tipperary

I've made a few posts on the ALLEYN family, and have put a lot of effort into the farther-back origins of the family, and they can be summarized as follows: Samuel ALLEYN(E) married his wife Mary HAMMOND in Ireland probably around 1830 and they had at least seven children together in the village of Golden, Tipperary, Ireland before the family sailed to Australia, arriving 1850 on the 'Thetis' and settling in Sydney in the city then Glebe area after Samuel had died. The eldest daughter Elizabeth actually arrived earlier in 1850 separate from the rest of her family. Here are the off-spring:

I knew all family members were born in Golden and were Roman Catholic from their immigration records, but knew nothing more than that as access to Irish parish records is limited.

I was very pleased to recently find that has made available the scans of parish records for 'Golden and Kilfeacle' parish (which seems to be the name of the modern parish). Looking at these I found the following baptisms. I will not past the pages for each page of the parish book, just the first, then all the transcripts.

Select Catholic Birth and Baptism Registers
Golden and Kilfeacle, Tipperary, Ireland
1838 Jun 6, Anna Maria Allen of Sam Allen and Mary Hammond, sponsor Mrs Bowes, residence Golden
1844 Feb 19, Richard of Samuel Alleyn and Mary Hammond, sponsor Honora Maloney, residence Golden
1846 Feb 7, Ellen of Samuel Allen and Mary Hammond, sponsor Mary Ryan
1850 Jan 13, Samuel Allen of Golden received into the Church
1850 Jan 13, William Allen of Golden received into the Church
1850 Jan 14, Mary of Samuel Allen and Mary Hammond Golden, sponsor ?? Ryan ??

So there are a few questions - mainly what happened in 1850? Was this the baptism or confirmation of Samuel and William aged 11 and 17? Or was it the baptism of the father converting from Protestantism? And where are the baptisms of the other children? I assume in the latter case I can't find them due to transcription/reading challenges. The writing on some pages is truly a scrawl.

At any rate, it is rare to take an Irish family that arrived in Australia back into primary records in Ireland. Most enjoyable is that the name is written ALLEYN with a 'Y' when my direct ancestor Ellen was baptized. The spelling is so variable for this family, so to see the 'correct' spelling used in Ireland help me understand how they saw themselves.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Patrick Joseph Quinane medal miniatures

As it's (almost here) ANZAC Day, I thought I'd post this - I'm the current custodian of my great grandfather's WW1 miniatures. Not the issued medals, but the miniatures he purchased to wear more conveniently - they are small replicas of the (L-R) 1914-15 star, the British war medal, and the Victory medal. Note also the gold 'A' stitched onto the ribbon of the 1914-15 star. That 'A' was not officially issued, but signified to others that he was a ANZAC who served at Gallipoli. Patrick Joseph Quinane was lucky - he lost an eye at Gallipoli, but came home (and had a family).


Reverse. Note pin for attaching to lapel.

As can be seen, the medals are not mounted. I have a number of concerns. Firstly, the medals are not made of noble metals, and there is a slight amount of green (copper-related?) corrosion. I am concerned that this is mediated by medals of different metal content being in contact. Secondly, i just worry about the medals 'hanging' in a frame causing strain to the ribbons. As such, I keep them laying flat, and would like to keep a plastic piece inserted between each medal.

All advice appreciated!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Elizabeth GROSE nee SLATER - sister of Catherine PRIESTLY?

My ancestor Catherine SLATER married Samuel PRIESTLY (a convict) in 1840 in Sydney. I know very little about where she came from. Regarding the marriage, I have two transcripts: the 'permission to marry' that a convict needed from the governor, and the marriage transcript from St James church itself.

NSW Convict marriage banns Yearly indexes - 1840, p.1
4/2480.3 / AONSW Film 736 / St. James, [Sydney]
Samuel Priestly / aged 28 / per "Aurora", 1833 / TL 40/934
Catherine SLATER / aged 26 / per "William Metcalfe", 1837 / CF
1840 / 170 / 24 / CG

CofE BMD register 1840, R-G v.24, p.43, AONSW Film 5006
Marriages ... in the parish of St. James, [Sydney}, ... Co. of Cumberland ... 1840
170/74 / Samuel Priestly, of St. Andrew's Parish, bachelor / Catherine SLATER, of St. Andrew's Parish, spinster / m. 03.09.1840 / witnesses: James CONLEN of 6 Kent St. and Elisha HAYES of Pitt St., Sydney / Samuel made his mark; Catherine signed

This shows how Catherine SLATER arrived here. She was not a convict, but 'came free' (CF) under the 'London Emigration Committee' scheme to bring free women to Australia (see  The committee was condemned for its selection processes in what was seen as a plot to transplant immoral women and the sweepings of British and Irish workhouses and charitable institutions to colonial society. A book published by Liz Rushen 'Single and Free: female migration to Australia 1833-1837' describes the program.

The 'William Metcalfe' departed London and arrived in Hobart (in what is now Tasmania) on 24 Jan 1837. Clearly based on the above marrriage she had found her way to Sydney by 1840.

Elizabeth Slater also emigrated on the William Metcalfe, and it is believed that they were sisters - they were listed together in the ship's indent (which wasn't strictly alphabetical); they are two years apart in age. Liz Rushen also stated that "On arrival, Elizabeth, aged 28, while stating her occupation to be a general servant, was employed by Lady Franklin (wife of the Governor) as an under-housemaid at an annual wage of £12. Catherine, aged 25 or 26, was employed as a general servant by Mr McDowall for the same amount. Twelve pounds was on the high side of the average wage for these immigrant women."

Importantly, both married in Sydney, at the same church, in 1840. How they got to Sydney is not known.

The Sydney Gazette 
Tuesday 2 June 1840,  page 3.  
Family Notices
By Special License,- on the 30th of May, at St. James' Church, Sydney, by the Rev. R. Allwood, Joseph Hickey Grose, Esq., to Miss Elizabeth Slater, of Elizabeth-street, Sydney.

Curiously, I cannot find a NSW BDM entry for this marriage - so the newspaper announcement is the sole record of that marriage that I am aware of.

Catherine's death certificate  states she was born in London, but does not state the names of her parents, so for now I've not identified her birth. As such, I thought if I traced Elizabeth's fate, I might find either a connection with her putative sister Catherine, or a reference to her parents or birth-place in England.

So, let's see what happened to Elizabeth - to the records. Elizabeth's husband Joseph Hickey GROSE actually has an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. It states that his third wife Elizabeth, and three children from that marriage survived him on his death in 1849. The Sydney Morning Herald (21 Apr 1849) confirms his death 'At Picton, on the 18th instant... an old and much respected merchant of Sydney.' He was buried at St John's cemetery in Parramatta. Their children were: 
1. Emily Jane GROSE, born 1843 in Sydney. She married Edward HORDERN of the succesful retailing family and they had three children (Edward, Percy and Emily) prior to her death aged 23 in December 1865.
2. James Harvey GROSE, born 1844 in Sydney. He died in Sydney in 1879, aged 35 and apparently unmarried.
3. Kate GROSE, born 1844 also in Sydney. She died in 1863 'at her mother's residence, Philliphaugh Cottage, Upper Dowling-street' (Empire, 11 Feb 1863).

So, by 1879 Elizabeth had lost her husband (1849) and all three children, but did have surviving HORDERN grandchildren through her eldest daughter's marriage. Her probably sister Catherine PRIESTLY died in 1869. Elizabeth does not seem to appear in digitized papers. She died in 1893:

The Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday 19 August 1893

GROSE. - August 18, at her residence, Ruthaire, Liverpool-street, Darlinghurst, Elizabeth Grose, aged 78 years (suddenly).
THE FUNERAL of the late Mrs GROSE will leave her late residence, Ruthaire, 369 Liverpool- street, Darlinghurst, TO-MORROW, Sunday, at 1.15 p.m., for the Necropolis. W. STEWART.

And she died in a comfortable financial position, leaving money to the Sydney Hospital, the Ashifield Children's Home other similar institutions.

Wagga Wagga Advertiser
Tuesday 10 October 1893
The will of the late Mrs. Elizabeth Grose has been proved at pounds 20,375, the principal part of which is to be divided amongst the charities.

Her NSW death certificate index entry (1211/1893) states parents as unknown, but I have not seen the original certificate to know how the informant was, or whether a place of birth was given. Disappointing.

 The only other possibility was that her headstone may give information. My father again donned the boots and marched off to Rookwood for me with a camera. The Rookwood Anglican section index lists:

Section : AA
Number : 0000190

And sure enough, there is a headstone in amazing condition. Possibly it has been replaced at some point - the gold lettering is very intact (note the poor condition of contemporary headstones in the background).

Transcript of headstone in Rookwood Anglican cemetery
In Affectionate Memory Of
The only beloved son of Elizabeth and

the late Joseph Hickey Grose of Sydney
Born May 30th 1842
Died November 20th 1879
"To our God, hear the prayer of thy servant"
Wife of Joseph Hickey Grose
Died 18th August 1893
Aged 79 years

So no answers, but lots of information on a woman who is probably the sister of Catherine, who arrived with her on the 'William Metcalfe'.


Addendum: I should add that my ancestor was Henry PRIESTLY. Henry married in 1858 to Margaret RODGERS, and stated in his marriage certificate that his parents were Samuel PRIESTLY and Catherine SLATER. But his age means he was born abt 1838 (two years before his parent's marriage), and I've not yet found a baptism for Henry PRIESTLY/SLATER in either NSW or Tasmania. There are a few possibilities here - the most likely is that his mother Catherine SLATER gave birth to him out of wedlock. The alternative seems less likely (Samuel as father attaining son). It is remotely possible that Samuel and Catherine had Henry together out of wedlock - but if he was born in 1838 why wait two years to marry? And, in fact, this means Catherine needed to get from Hobart/Tasmania to Sydney fairly promptly. And finally, Henry may have been 'adopted' by the couple after marriage. If Henry was not Samuel's son, Samuel certainly didn't seem to hold any of this against Henry, as the two ran a merchant agents together. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Update (5) on Ewer's in Colonial NSW

I posted a list of EWER people in Australia prior to 1901, the Colonial period ( This has now been expanded and updated yet again. I would like to thank those who have written to contribute information, particularly Michael EWER who has shared his research.

Colonial Ewer’s in Australia:
Thomas EWER, Private, NSW Corps, SAG pay list 1798, recorded receiving land in 1800. ‘Australia’s free coat settlers’ ( notes that he was in the 102nd Regiment (Rum Corps), and returned to England. The 102nd (NSW Corps) was raised in 1789 for service in Australia, and returned in 1810.

Thomas Ewer’s regimental discharge papers reveal a great deal:

HERTFORD, Hertfordshire
Served in New South Wales Corps
Discharged aged 40 after 13 years of service

“His Majesty’s New South Wales Corps whereof Francis Grose Esq. Is Colonel. These are to certify, that the Bearer hereof, Thomas Ewer Private in the Regiment aforesaid, aged forty years, five feet three inches high, fair complexion, fair hair, grey eyes, ? visage, born in the Parish of St Stephen’s in or near the Market Town of Hereford in the county of Hereford Kingdom of England and by Trade a Laborer hath served honestly and faithfully for the Space of thirteen years, but on the reduction of the Corps to the Peace Establishment was discharged therefrom at Sydney on the 24th May 1803 and is hereby discharged, and humbly recommended as a proper object of His Majesty’s Royal Bounty of CHELSEA HOSPITAL. He having first received all just Demands of Pay, Cloathing, &. from his Entry into the said Regiment, to the Date of his Discharge; as appears by receipt on the back hereof.

Given under my Hand and Seal at Parkhurst Barracks, this fourteenth Day of September 1804.”

So Thomas was born in approximately 1863, and enlisted aged 27 in 1890, served 13 years in the NSW Corps and was discharged aged 40 in 1803/4. It appears that after serving in Sydney, Thomas was discharged in Sydney in 1803 prior to sailing for England, receiving his discharge papers at Parkhurst Barracks on the Isle of Wight.

Thomas’ home county is mis-written as ‘Hereford’ on his discharge papers - the covering leaf states it correctly as Hertford. The St Stephen’s Parish in Hertford covers the Presbyterian and Unitarian Chapel, Dagnall Lane, St Albans (in Hertford), and parish transcripts reveal that Thomas Ewer, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Ewer, was baptised ‘near Tenements’, on 18 June 1762 by the minister Jabez Hirons.

Thomas was the eldest child of Thomas EWER and Elizabeth nee WRIGHT (who were married at St Stephens on 6 Nov 1761, both of parish of St Stephens). Their other children, also baptized under the same church, were George (baptized at Searches Farm, 21 March 1765), Elizabeth (baptized at Searches Farm, 30 Sept 1767), John (baptized at Searches Farm, 27 March 1771), James (baptized at Searches Farm, 1 Jun 1773), Joseph (baptized at Whitehouse Farm, St Stephens, 20 Dec 1775) and Rose (baptized at Whitehouse Farm, St Stephens, 10 Feb 1777).

I have not yet determined whether Thomas had a family in England – there are not births of Ewer’s in Australia during the period of the NSW Corps in NSW. As a side-note, given that Thomas was in NSW during the period in which my ancestor Edward and his siblings were born, he cannot be the Thomas Ewer, soldier, living at Clewer, Berkshire during that period.

William EWER, Private, 73rd Regiment of Foot, 1st Battalion. Recorded in 1812 Pay List. The 73rd was sent under Leiut. Gen. Lachlan Macquarie to relieve the NSW Corps, arriving in 1810, and departing in 1814. The NSW Criminal Court records show that William Ewer, along with Joseph Accroid (Akroyd?) and William Grimes were charged with ‘riot and rescue’ on 30 Aug 1813.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales
Saturday 2 October 1813
Sitting Magistrate – A. RILEY, Esq.
John Grimes, Joseph Akroyd, and John Eure were indicted, the two latter for having upon the 7th day of June last rescued from the custody of several Peace Officers, the first mentioned defendant, Grimes, who had been taken into custody at Howell’s Mill, near Parramatta, for riotous and disorderly conduct.
A number of witnesses were examined for the prosecution ; from whose evidence it appeared that a large assemblage of persons had been drawn together for the purpose of passing the day in cock-fighting, and such other amusements ; that the Resident Magistrate of Parramatta, attracted by the noise and tumult generally attendant on such meetings, had been induced to repair thither, at about four, or later, in the afternoon ; at which time some of the persons appeared much intoxicated and rather riotously disposed ; that the Reverend and Worshipful Gentleman, fearing lest towards the close of day some serious disturbances might arise from their irregularities, admonished them to depart peaceably to their own homes, as the evening was drawing on, and it was a fit time for them to separate ; against the propriety of which very salutary and appropriate advice no one attempted to remonstrate or object, but in general a disposition to compliance was manifested ; that upon the Reverend Gentleman’s return to his own house, he directed Mr. Oakes, Chief Constable of the Town and District, to repair to the place of meeting, attended by some of his insubordinates, for the purpose of seeing that the people should separate as he had directed them to do ; that Mr. Oakes, as soon as he arrived there, informed the people of his errand ; but found immediate opposition from the prisoner Grimes ; who, with accompanying imprecations, vehemently declared a determination to resist the order, and not to quit the place for any authority whatsoever ; and thus by his own example, stimulating others to a spirit of opposition and resistance ; to check which, the Chief Constable ordered him to be taken into custody for a breach of the peace ; that the defendant Grimes was accordingly attached by two constables, between whom and the prisoner many of the by-standers immediately interposed themselves, some of whom forcibly dragged the constables away from him, and among the latter number the defendant Ackroyd was positively sworn to, but the evidence against Eure was doubtful ; that the Chief Constable considering it prudent for the instant to suffer Grimes to go at large, the latter was conveyed with disorderly exultation into the house of Howell ; the well-disposed persons gradually dispersed, and rimes remained at large until a warrant was afterwards issued for his apprehension, and informations given in against the other two defendants, for aiding and abetting in his rescue.
The defendants, in reply to the evidence produced in support of the charge, rested upon an exculpatory plea, implying that the meeting which had taken place was merely for the purposes of revel and amusement, and that no breach of the peace had taken place previous to the apprehension and rescue of Grimes. After a deliberation that occupied an hour and a half, the Court returned a verdict, Grimes and Akroyd guilty ; Eure not guilty.
The JUDGE ADVOCATE, before he passed sentence on the defendants, wished to have it clearly understood, that the object for which the concourse of persons had assembled at or near Parramatta on the day charged on the indictment, had made no part whatever of the question upon which the court had decided. The act of resisting the authority, or of disobeying the commands of a Magistrate, who in the just discharge of his duty had admonished and directed a mob of persons to disperse was in itself an offence against the law – for where twelve persons are assembled under any pretext whatever, the power of dispersing them is vested in the Magistrate, whose commands are to be treated with submission, and will be enforced by Law. The defendant Grimes, as from the whole of the evidence it had appeared, had in the first instance been taken into custody for daringly standing forward in an avowed determination to resist that legal authority. He was rescued from the peace officers, went at large, and so continued to do until afterwards re-apprehended. The other defendant (Akroyd), had been found guilty of aiding and abetting in the rescue, and by force and violence assisting to disengage the defendant Grimes from the custody of the police officers.
That offences of so dangerous a tendency required to be restrained every rational being certainly must feel ; and the Court, after the most serious deliberation had therefore ordered, that they John Grimes and Joseph Akroyd should be imprisoned in His Majesty’s gaol at Parramatta for the space of one kalendar month ; and afterwards find bail for their gaol behaviour for the space of sex months themselves in 100l. each, and two sufficient securities in 50l. each.

The 73rd left in 1814. A William EWER appears on the 1828 general muster having arrived on the Florentia (arrived NSW 1828) and employed in the No. 6 Iron Gang – no sentence is entered, nor is a year of arrival making it unclear as to whether this person arrived as a convict. No indication that he remained in Australia.

Held by The National Archives, Kew
Born: WINDSOR, Berkshire
Served in: 73rd Foot Regiment
Discharged: aged 26
Covering dates: 1809-1817
Availability: Open Document, Open Description, Normal Closure before

After returning to England out of the 73rd, William Ewer married Mary Ann Rudd on 11 Dec 1818 at Clewer, Berkshire, and appears to have probably died before 1825 in Slough, where a daughter Caroline was baptized in 1821 (by 1825 his wife was entered in the parish register as a widow).

Joseph EWER, Private, 73rd Regiment of Foot, 1st Battalion, just like his brother William EWER. Recorded in 1812 Pay List. 73rd sent under Leiut. Gen. Lachlan Macquarie to relieve the NSW Corps, arriving in 1810, and departing in 1814. No indication that he remained in Australia.

Held by The National Archives, Kew
Born: WINDSOR, Berkshire
Served in: 73rd Foot Regiment
Discharged: aged 24
Covering dates: 1809-1817

The births of William and Joseph Ewer can be found in Clewer (the parish adjacent to Windsor) in Berkshire, the two eldest sons of Thomas and Jane EWER. William was baptized on 27 Jun 1790 and Joseph on 26 Feb 1792 (in keeping with their ages on leaving the 73rd Regiment). After they had returned to England, their younger brother Edward (my ancestor) was found guilty of theft and sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. As such, Edward would have had some first hand information on the colony when he departed for the other side of the world.

Joseph Ewer, bachelor, of New Windsor, is recorded marrying Jane Stone, spinster, of Pulborough (in Sussex) at Storrington in Sussex on 8 May 1819. He was buried at New Windsor on 25 Sep 1837 aged 46 years, entered as being 'of George St'. His wife Jane was buried on 15 Jan 1854, aged 62, 'of Clewer Lane'.

Nathaniel EWER, christened 23 Nov 1783 at Chatham, son of Clement EWER. Nathaniel married Sarah PARKER in Islington, Middlesex in 1810 and had a son Clement in 1812. Nathaniel appeared at the Old Bailey charged for simple grand larceny (theft) on 21st June 1815. Prior to his conviction, he was an articulator, employed to put skeletons together at St. Thomas and the London Hospitals. In the trial, the co-defendant John SILVESTER attested that he was guilty but that he had never met Nathaniel Ewer before, and that he was not guilty. Nathaniel was nevertheless found guilty and sentenced to be transported for seven years. Nathaniel was transported in July 1816 on the ‘Mary Anne’.

Whether or not it was due to his innocence, Nathaniel made several attempts to escape from the penal colony to which he’d been banished. The first escape was on the ‘Harriet’, which departed NSW in 1817, and he made it as far as the Cape of Good Hope before detection and his return in 1918. This was reported in 1818, here reprinted in the Hobart Gazette:

“The following important extracts we copy from the Sydney Gazette to the 30th ultimo:

From Captain Carns, commander of the ship Neptune, we learn, that he left the ship Harriet, in which Mr Alexander Riley left the colony, at the Cape; from whom he has brought 15 male prisoners who had secreted themselves on board the Harriet. Five women were also concealed on board, who are not returned.

The male prisoners who had effected their escape from hence in the Harriet, and returned by the Neptune from the Cape, were this day brought before a Bench of Magistrates, and sentenced one hundred lashes each, and worked in the gaol gang for 12 calendar months. The following is a list of the prisoners names:

Chambers, Henry
Chapman, William
Cochrane, John
Druet, John
Edwards, Thomas
Ewer, Nathaniel
Holliday, William
Latham, John
Little, Benjamin
Lowry, Patrick
Moore, Henry
Oliver, Benjamin
Plummer, Robert
Quinn, James
Skelton, John
Solomon, Moses a boy

It appears from a written statement transmitted from the Cape of Good Hope, that the delinquents have not made their appearance for considerable time after the vessel's departure from hence, although it was known by some of the crew they were on board; and, but for timely information being given to the commander, the consequence might have been very serious, as it was then represented to have been their intention to take the vessel, after the cargo had been received on board at the Cape, and carry her to South America; in which design they would very probably have been aided by seamen and other persons on board; with which assistance they could scarcely have failed in accomplishing their purpose. The result of this discovery was, that the troops, in concern with the passengers, were compelled constantly to keep the deck till they reached the Cape.”

In 1820, he escaped again on the ‘General Gates’ with four other convicts including Francis EWER on a boat which made its way to New Zealand before being returned (see NZ Historical Records Vol 1). This shows Nathaniel and Francis knew one another.

In spite of these escape attempts, in December 1820 he was recommended for a pardon, by 1822 had been granted a ticket of leave that allowed him to work for himself and he was listed in the 1822 muster as a ‘whitesmith’ (a tin and pewter worker) in Sydney. Nathaniel must have thrived in Sydney from here on, as from 1822 the Colonial Secretary Index shows he testified at a Board of Enquiry into the Engineer Department, was assigned convicts, and had offered his services to the government as a tin and copper smith.

The 1825 muster shows that Nathaniel was a blacksmith, and a Certificate of Freedom (119/3347) was awarded to him on 17 Mar 1825.

No subsequent records have yet been unearthed for Nathaniel, and he does not appear on the 1828 NSW census. It is possible he departed NSW after receiving his Certificate of Freedom.

An infant, Thomas R EWER, died in 1817. I do not have the certificate for this child. Any info welcome.

Francis EWER, born 25 Sep 1797, son of Thomas and Jane Ewer, St Sepulchre, London, and a plumber prior to his conviction. Convicted at the Old Bailey (First Middlesex Jury) for breaking and entering a house in St Luke’s, 19th Feb 1817, aged 19 and sentenced to death. Departed for Australia on the ‘Ocean’ in Aug 1818. In 1820, he escaped on the ‘General Gates’ with four other convicts including Nathaniel EWER and made their way to New Zealand before being returned (see NZ Historical Records Vol 1). This shows Nathaniel and Francis knew one another.

On 13th January 1821, the Sydney Gazette reported that Francis Ewer had been sentenced to 25 lashes and transportation for ‘purloining a quantity of lead:

The Sydney Gazette
13 January 1821
‘At a Bench of Magistrates convened this day at Sydney, Francis Ewer and Robert Ward, prisoners of the Crown, were found guilty of purloining a quantity of lead, the property of the government, and were sentenced to receive 25 lashes each and be transported to Newcastle for two years. Peter Jackson, and Mary Jackson is wife, each possessing the indulgence of a ticket of leave, were convicted of receiving the said lead, knowing to be stolen and sentenced two years to Newcastle’.

He was transported to Newcastle on the 27th of that month. A year later, on the 15th February 1822 the Sydney Gazette reported that Francis had absconded from the Newcastle settlement and he was still considered outstanding on the 29th March when that edition described him as ‘26 yrs old; native of London; 5 ft 8 inches; grey eyes; dark sandy hair; fair ruddy complexion’. However, the Colonial Secretary index indicates that Francis gave himself up under a proclamation of Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, and he was on a list of convict runaways removed to Port Macquarie per "Newcastle" (and he appears in the 1822 muster as under ‘Govt employ Port Macq’), though he was returned to Sydney to act as witness in a murder trial in December 1822 and may still have been there as there is also correspondence regarding his confinement to the Convict Barracks.

The 1825 general muster again shows Francis to be at the penal colony in Port Macquarie. No subsequent records of Francis have been found, and he does not appear in the 1828 census of NSW. The Port Macquarie settlement was closed in 1834 and convicts were transferred to Norfolk Island.

Edward EWER. Born Clewer, Berkshire, England 1796, died Howick St, Bathurst NSW 20 Sep 1859. Edward was convicted of stealing at the Berkshire Assizes on 28 Feb 1820 and sentenced to hang, but was transported to NSW on the ‘Mary’ (2), departing 28 Aug 1821 and arriving in Jan 1822 and assigned work – in 1822 his muster indicate was working at the Benevolent Asylum. Married Ann EDWARDS in 1825 at Parramatta NSW. The NSW census of 1828 indicates that Edward was a shopkeep in Parramatta, and he appeared in court in relation to a number of matters, including when Alexander Stuart was charged with ‘shooting at Edward Ewer with intent at Parramatta’ in 1829 – Alexander was a servant to Edward Ewer in the 1828 census. Edward was awarded a pardon in Jul 1834, and an absolute pardon in 1841 (after which Edward may have moved to Bathurst). They had 9 children in Parramatta (1827-1839) and the Bathurst district (1843-1848). His wife died in 1854, and Edward died in 1859. His death was noted in the "Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal" on 21st September 1859.

Ann EWER nee EDWARDS, born in colony. Daughter of convicts Rowland EDWARDS and Jan FLETCHER. Married Edward Ewer in Parramatta, 1825. d. Bathurst, 1854.

Edward (Jr) EWER, b. 1827, Parramatta, first of nine children to Edward EWER and Ann nee EDWARDS. Married Catharine HARAN/AHERN in Carcoar, NSW, 1851 and they had nine children, all born in Bathurst. Confectioner, declared insolvent in 1863, and present in the 1871 and 1878 electoral rolls living in Bathurst. Died 1884 in Bathurst NSW.

James Garnet EWER. A 'James Garner EWER' was born 23 Jul 1799, the son of James Ewer and Mary nee GRAHAME at Holywell, Flintshire (Wales), a relatively wealthy family. James appears in the 1832 Poll Book for Liverpool, England as: EWER, James Garnet, Occupation: Broker, Address: Rodney St, District: Liverpool.

Shipping intelligence in the Sydney Gazette of 10 Oct 1835 lists James G Ewer arriving on the barque 'William', from London. The Colonial Secretary letters relating to land reveal correspondence from James Garnett EWER from 1838-1845.The purpose of James' move to Australia seems to be revealed in the report of a civil case heard in the Supreme Court of 1842 (The Australian, 26 April 1842) - James Garnet EWER appeared as a witness and stated that James had come to NSW as an agent for Richard Aspinall to deal with his business and personal estates.

Several papers in July 1847 contain reports from Mr Ewer “a gentleman who has recently taken up a station on the Condamine” that he encountered the explorer Dr. Leichardt near his property, and in 1848 his sheep were attacked by a local tribe. The Maitland Mercury of Wednesday 29 August 1849 lists two claims for leases of land outside the ‘settled districts’. His were in the Darling Downs district in Queensland:

“53. EWER JAMES GARRETT. Name of run, 'WOMBO FOREST. Estimated area, 40,000 acres. Estimated grazing capabilities, 12,000 sheep. Bounded on the north by ten miles of the Lower Condamine River, commencing at a marked tree adjacent to the westerly boundary mark of Mr. G. Goggs's run; on the south by a scrub south of Dooduggan Creek ; on the east and north-east by a scrub ; and on the west by a marked tree E on the Werinbilla Creek to its junction with the Condamine.

54. EWER JAMES GABNETT. Name of run, YAMO (Condamine.) Estimated area, 12,000 acres. Estimated grazing capabilities, 500 cattle. On the north side of the Lower Condamine River, bounded on the south by ten miles of the river, commencing at a marked tree E, about two miles below the junction of Charley's Creek ; on the north by a scrub one mile from the river ; on the east by a scrub ; and on the west by a marked tree on a creek unnamed, to its junction with the Condamine”

A Mr. Ewer is shown as an unassisted arrival in Sydney on four dates between 1847 and 1852, in each case from Moreton Bay (Qld), and this is likely to be James Garnett EWER.

James Garnett again featured in the Sydney Morning Herald in July 1849 when one of his farm labourers was murdered:

“MORETON BAY. JULY 3.-MURDER.-This place has been the scene of another of those diabolical murders which disgrace humanity. The facts elicited at the Coroner's inquest, on the 21st ultimo, are these:-The deceased, John Leonard, lately in the employ ol Mr. J. G Ewer, of the Condamine River, came to Brisbane with his master on Friday, the 15th
ultimo, and there obtained his discharge from that gentleman's service; but signified his intention of returning to the country again, and agreed to meet Mr. Ewer on the Ipswich road on Sunday. His not keeping his appointment, and a man named Owen Molloy being seen in South Brisbane, on Sunday evening, with a portion of Leonard's clothes about him, and other property known to have been previously in the deceased's possession, suspicion was excited that he had murdered the man; and the following Monday, upon the police being made acquainted with the matter, he was apprehended, and, after an
examination, remanded, whilst search was made for the body. District constable Murphy, in company with Mr. Ewer, and two native black«, proceeded on Wednesday to Cowper's Plains, tracing the road along for marks; at Canoe Creek the deceased's dog showed evident signs of unwillingness to cross the creek, but run on one side of the road into the bed of the creek. Upon Murphy following the direction the dog had taken, he came upon the body of poor Leonard lying in the creek horribly disfigured, and the skull fractured, evidently from the blow of a tomahawk ; several witnesses proved at the inquest that Molloy had been in company with the deceased on the Sunday morning, and that he knew Leonard had money about him, and which was subsequently found on the person of Molloy ; the jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder against Molloy, who stands committed to take his trial. Since his commitment the prisoner has accused two other persons, named M'Carthy and Stevens, as being the murderers; in consequence warrants were issued for their apprehension, and the chief constable (Moore), of Ipswich, lost no time in following their route up the country, whither they bad gone with their teams; be overtook them on the Main Range, and returned with them yesterday to Brisbane, where they will undergo an examination this day. -Herald Correspondent.”

A Government Gazette in the Maitland Mercury on Wednesday 8 August 1849 proclaimed that “James Garnett Ewer, Esq., of Wombo Forest, Drayton” had been appointed a magistrate of the territory by the Governor. The Sydney Morning Herald of 13 Aug 1853 notes the “sale to-day, at auction, of J.G. Ewer, Esq’s, station of Womba Forest at Darling Downs, with about 9100 sheep, at 17s.a, 9d. per head, terms cash.”

He married Louisa HAWKINS (born abt 1816) at Trinity Church, Kelso, NSW (essentially a suburb of Bathurst NSW) in 1859, and appears not to have had any children with her. Marriage announcements describe Louisa as 'fourth daughter of the late Thomas Fitzherbert Hawkins, Esq., of Blackdown, Bathurst' (SMH, 23 Jul 1855). The 1867 NSW Post Office Directory lists James Garnet EWER as secretary, Church society, 256 Crown St in Sydney. It is tempting to suggest there was a connection to Edward EWER (convict, above) and his family given that both were living in Bathurst at the same time, but this is not the case based on their separate origins. However, given the rarity of their name, they may have sought each other out to meet in spite of their class distinction.
James died in Sydney NSW on 12 Aug 1886, aged 87. His funeral announcement (SMH 13 Aug 1886) indicates his residence was at 197 Albion St, Surry Hills NSW and he was buried at the Necropolis (Rookwood Cemetery). His wife Louisa died on 14 Aug 1902 at ‘Wirrulda’, Redmyre Rd, Strathfield NSW, aged 86. She too was buried at the Necropolis. The NSW State Library appears to own a number of items belonging to J.G. and Louisa Ewer, including a photograph of Louisa taken ca. 1871-1879 (call number P1/543), a card case belonging to J.G. Ewer (call number R 347), and call number MLMSS 678 contains correspondence among the Hawkins family including letters by Louisa and a copy of J.G. Ewer’s probate.

Mary Anne EWER, born abt 1856. Arrived in Sydney the ‘Earl Dalhousie’ in 1877, aged 21. Married William Fyfe, engineer, on 25 Mar 1880 at Balmain NSW. She is listed in the Sydney Morning Herald (4 May 1880) as the second daughter of 'the late J.H. Ewer, of Fulham, England'. She was probably daughter of Joseph Ewer and Mary Ann nee HITCH, birth registered in the December quarter of 1855 at the Chelsea district GRO. Mary Anne and William had at least five children in the Balmain area, including Emily (Balmain 1881), Alice (Sydney 1885), William (Balmain 1886), and Nellie (Balmain North 1891).


Van Diemen’s Land

Matilda EWER, born abt 1813. She is probably Matilda BRIGGS, the wife of Jeremy Lagden EWER – they married at Ipswich on 8 Aug 1828. Jeremy was born 27 Aug 1803 and baptized 5 Jun 1807 at Horseheath, Cambridge, the son of Thomas and Katherine Ann EWER.

The following is from Michael Ewer: In 1839 Jeremy was landlord of the George & Dragon on Wellington St, Newmarket (Cambridgeshire). It is believe they had three children; Harry Lagdon born 1833 at Horseheath, Cambs, Katherine b. 1838 and Emma b. 1839 both at Newmarket, Cambs. In the 1841 census Jeremy is an agricultural labourer living near Newmarket, and son Harry is listed beneath him (Matilda by this time had been transported).

Matilda was convicted in Cambridge on 24 Jul 1840 to be transported for life. She was transported on the ‘Rajah’ which set sail from Woolwich England on 5 Apr 1841 and arrived in Hobart Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land) on 19 Jul 1841, aged 27. On this trip, the 180 female convicts produced the ‘Rajah quilt’ ( The 1841 muster describes her employment as ‘Mr Turnbull, New Norfolk’ – there was a James Turnbull, Farmer at New Norfolk, west of Hobart at that time.

Back in England, Jeremy (her husband) married Eleanor Toon at Stamford, Lincs on 11 May 1843. In the 1851 census Catherine & Emma are living with their step-mother Eleanor Ewer, a labourer’s wife.

In VDL Matilda applied for marriage with Giles TIMMS (a free person) and this was approved as she married him in Hobart in 1843. In 1842 she is recorded traveling from Launceston to Melbourne, however given her marriage in 1843 she must have returned. In 1846 the muster notes she had earmed a ticket of leave and in 1847/8 she was granted a pardon in VDL, with the comment that ‘There is only one offence, and that of a trifling character recorded against her since she has been in the Colony’.

Nothing further is known of Matilda’s fate at this stage. However, the birth of a Harry EWER, mother Matilda EWER (no father recorded) is registered in 1858 in Victoria, and Matilda’s daughter ‘Katherine’ married Thomas COTTLE in 1861 also in Victoria. As such, her children may or may not have followed her to Australia.

There are still many questions here (as Michael points out):
Was the Matilda who was convicted at Cambridge and subsequently transported actually Jeremy’s wife?
Was he allowed a divorce since she was transported ‘for life’?
When did Matilda’s daughter emigrate, and did she join her mother?

Richard EWER was born Stoke Poges, Bucks, 26 Oct 1806, the son of William and Sarah. He had 3 children before he was transported and another, Jabez, when he returned. He was convicted at Bucks on 29 Jun 1841, and is on the 1841 England census, residing at the Buckinghamshire County Gaol and House of Correction as a prisoner, with occupation listed as ‘sawyer’. He was charged, aged 34, reading and writing imperfect, ‘on the oath of Francis Agar and others, with having on the 13th of April last, at the Parish of Burnham, feloniously stolen two sheep of the value of four pounds, the property of the said Francis Agar’. He was tried alongside Henry Martin.

He arrived in Tasmania on ‘Marquis of Hastings’ in 1842. The 1846 muster reveals that Richard had a 3rd Class pass (the lowest of three classes) assigned to Mr Walker of Longford. He departed Tasmania, free of servitude, on ‘City of Melbourne’, 2 Dec 1851. Richard appears in the 1861 England census living in Denham, Bucks with his wife Elizabeth (born Sathall, Middlesex abt 1814) and son Jabez, and again in the 1871 and 1881 censuses. The UK BDM indexes show a Richard Ewer registered as dying in 1889, in Uxbridge, Middlesex.


South Australia

Edward EWER Edward Ewer christened 18 Mar 1824 in Belchamp St Paul's, Suffolk. Edward is living with his father, 2 siblings and nephew at Melford (close by) on the 1851 census. He gives his occupation as a machine maker. Edward's father (Edward 1786-1857) made his sons Edward and John B executors of his will in 1849. When the will was proved in 1857, John B was the executor present and was charged with overseeing a legacy to Edward, which fits with Edward being abroad at that time.

He married Emma STRUTT in 1853, registered in nearby Sudbury (Suffolk) England. They arrived in Port Adelaide on the barque Lismore on 23 Aug 1855. The ship had left England from Southampton on 6 May 1855 with government immigrants. Edward, 30 (born abt 1825), stated he was a carpenter previously residing in ‘Suffolk’. With him came his wife Emma, aged 22 (born abt 1833) and an infant son also named Edward. Their son Edward must have died shortly after arrival as the first of three births registered to Edward EWER and Emma Elizabeth STRUTT was another Edward (30 Apr 1857 Adelaide). Harry EWER followed (13 Oct 1859 Adelaide) and he too must have died as a third son of the same name, Harry, was registered (19 May 1863 Adelaide). Edward Ewer (sen.) died in April 1911 at his residence, Park St, Hyde Park (Adelaide) and interred in the West Terrace Cemetery.

Information on their two sons according to the Biographical Index of South Australians:

Edward EWER, son of above Edward, born 30 Apr 1857 SA, died 3 Oct 1915 buried West Terrace Cemetery. Occupation Clerk, residence Parkside, religion Church of England. Married 9 Aug 1882 in South Australia to Emma (born abt 1863, died 7 Jun 1928). Children Laura Elizabeth 1887, Frederick Charles 1889, Elsie May 1891, Walter John 1894, Dorothy Myra BURROW 1896.

Harry EWER, son of above Edward, born 19 May 1863 SA, died 14 Jun 1914 buried West Terrace Cemetery. Married Leila Maude (born abt 1870, died 7 Aug 1957).



Eliza Lydia EWER. Married Joseph William TORREY in Victoria in 1854. According to Michael Ewer she was christened 21 Nov 1831 at Deptford St Paul, the daughter of William Ewer (butcher) and Tabitha nee PLAISTED. Eliza and her parents are not present in the 1841 or 1851 census in England so it is assumed they left England prior to that time (needs to be clarified).

Information on Joseph William Torrey:
"TORREY, Joseph William, rajah of Amboy and Mavoodu, Borneo, born in Bath, Maine, 22 April, 1828; died near Boston, Massachusetts, in March, 1884. He was educated in Roxbury, became a reporter on the Boston "Times," and was subsequently connected with Benjamin P. Shillaber in the publication of the "Carpet-Bag." He became a clerk in a commercial house in Melbourne, Australia, in 1853, and went to Hong Kong in 1857, where he was a partner in the firm of Montgomery, Parker and Co., and editor and manager of the "Hong Kong Times" and the "China Mail." He was subsequently appointed vice-consul in Siam, and practised law with success in that country. He founded the American trading company of Borneo in 1864. At that time the whole of Borneo was under the absolute sway of the sultan, but the Trading company settled upon about 20,000 square miles in the provinces of Amboy and Mavoodu. In 1865, the sultan's power being threatened by the encroachment of foreign nations, he made an ally of the company by recognizing Mr. Torrey as rajah or governor of all the territory that it occupied, the company paying him a small yearly tribute. As chief executive of the provinces, Torrey exercised the rights of an absolute sovereign, with power of retaining his office for life and of naming his successor. He occupied that post for fourteen years, and then became secretary to the United States legation in Siam. He returned to this country in 1883, and few weeks before his death was appointed by the king of Siam his chief adviser, but died before deciding whether to accept or decline that office."

'The Torrey families and their children in America' by Frederic Crosby Torrey (1924) states that "He married first Eliza Lydia Ewer and second Mrs. Charlotte Ann Lemon
and had one son and three daughters

Joseph and Eliza had two children, Emiline Eliza Torrey in 1856 and Cordelia Grace Torrey in 1858, both born in Melbourne.

Eliza died in 1859 in Victoria:
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), Wednesday 16 March 1859, p4
"DEATHS. On the 4th inst., at her residence, Sandridge, in her 27th year, after an illness of 5 days, Eliza Lydia, the beloved wife of Joseph William Torrey, Esq., of Roxbury Mass. USA. American papers please copy."

In the 1865 Massachussets, USA census (available on IGI Pilot Search) Emmaline and Cordelia are living with their grandparents in Roxbury, Mass. In the 1900 census Emeline (aged 42) and Cordelia (aged 40) were born in Australia, still unmarried, living in the City of Boston, both were school teachers, and stated that they immigrated to America in 1860. Emeline appears in the 1920 US census in Boston, but nothing further is known of either daughter and it is believed they had no issue.

Robert Horatio EWER. Lived in Victoria. Married Anastasia MURPHY on 17 Mar 1868 at Tarrawingee, Victoria. At this time he was 28, and so born abt 1840. His marriage certificate stated that he was born in Scotland and that his parents were Daniel EWER and Hannah CHURCHILL - they were married in London in 1828 and had numerous children. Michael EWER informs me that Daniel and Hannah had nine children in Acton (Middlesex, London), none named Robert Horatio. A family story states that he arrived with a brother and that his name was changed, and this appears to be the case based on the absence of a registration/baptism under this name. In the 1851 census, Hannah was a widow living with three children, Thomas, Eliza and Hannah - suggesting that Robert Horatio was Thomas. Robert Horatio died 31 May 1891 at Yarrawonga aged 53, and was buried at Bundalong, Victoria cemetery (it is likely no headstone remains if there was one). His death certificate stated that he had been in Victoria 40 years.


I will add to the biographies of these individuals as information comes to hand. Please contact me if you have any information on any of these EWER lines. I have not found any EWER people in the 1800's in Western Australia or New Zealand.