Friday, September 25, 2015

Putting faces to names in unexpected ways

I am surprised how many extended members of my family I've not seen photos of. The photos are out there somewhere, just out of reach to me. So it was pleasant to find photos of my great-grandmother Bridget HALL nee MOLONEY (1875-1942) in a newspaper article (Truth, 14 Sep 1941), but the article was a little surprising. It described a court appearance as Bridget's daughter Winifred NISSEN nee HALL (1903-1961) and a dispute with her husband Arthur NISSEN (1903-1965). The article describes their marital troubles between Winifred and Arthur (which I know of - they later separated but did not divorce) and also alleges that Bridget had a drinking problem (also already in my family notes!).

Under the title:

Sad Tale Of Drink In Family

The article explains that the couple have been separated for 8 years, that his wife had been regularly drunk, and that he heard his mother-in-law plotting his death! He too was alleged to be regularly drunk, and to have punched his mother-in-law in the face (assault). Quite the read. Application for divorce was declined. 

It is interesting to learn that married couple had lived in my great-grandparent's home in Scott St, Croydon. Bridget's husband, Alfred Ernest HALL had retired from being a school headmaster by 1941, and must have been appalled at the public attention that so many ex-students would read.

And the photos, clearly taken outside the court by a photographer of this noble publication, The Truth:


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Nana's Apple Charlotte

I have previously posted my grandmother Jean HALL's Christmas pudding recipe. I really wanted her apple pie recipe and my aunt Liz sent the recipe book that was probably a guide. In the meantime, my aunt did forward me the one other recipe she had, and I'll give it a go:

Liz said:
I hadn't forgotten your request for any of Mum's recipes. I only have one, which she typed out and sent to me (along with the Xmas pudding recipe) as we had a huge cooking apple tree at the time and you can only make so much apple sauce. Needless to say, I never tried this recipe. I'm not sure Mum ever made it either, certainly not while I was around and I don't know where it came from. The pastry recipe is unusual by today's standards in that it contains custard powder, cornflour and icing sugar. Not being a great cook, I never asked for any further recipes, not even the apple pie or sponge pudding recipes. These days of course, I cook a bit more but they have disappeared into oblivion. 



1 and ½ cups plain flour
½ cup self raising flour
1/3 cup custard powder
1/3 cup cornflour
¼ cup icing sugar
185 grams butter, chopped into cubes
1/3 cup water, approx


6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled (or any cooking apple)
¼ cup castor sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
60 grams butter


1 and ½ cups icing sugar
2 passionfruit

Charlotte can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for 3 months. Not suitable to microwave.

Pastry : sift dry ingredients into large bowl, rub in cold butter. Add enough water to mix to a firm dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface, knead until smooth. Cover pastry, refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry, large enough to cover base and side of a greased 20cm springform tin; trim edge. Spread cold apple filling into tin. Roll out remaining pastry, place over filling, overlapping side of tin slightly; press down against side of tin. Trim edge, brush with a little milk, cut 2 slits in top of pastry. Bake in hot oven 15 minutes, reduce heat to moderate, bake further 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in tin. Spread top with icing.

Filling: Slice apples thinly, place in saucepan with sugar, lemon juice and butter. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes or until tender. Cool to room temp.

Icing: Sift icing sugar into small bowl, stir in passionfruit pulp. Add a little milk, if necessary to make a stiff paste. Stir over simmering water until icing becomes spreadable.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Upstairs and Downstairs - Henry PRIESTLY and Clara PORCHER.

If anyone out there reads my blog, they'll notice i post less often now. It's not that my interest has waned, it is the 4 and 3 year-old daughters I have, and work. But I do confess that from time to time, I wonder whether there's much left to discover.

Well here's proof that it's always worth looking. I recently was looking over the NSW Will Books digitized and indexed at - I checked for anyone in my ancestry with a will and have been looking through them.

Here we have Henry Priestly, who grew up in the Sydney area as his father was a merchant and ex-convict. Henry first maried Margaret RODGERS and after she died in 1878 he married again, to Clara PORCHER who was 18 years his junior! He had 14 biological children and also took on a 15th - Clara's daughter from her first marriage. Clara was born in Sussex, England around 1856, and emigrated to Australia in 1874 on the 'Jerusalem'. She married John E CRAIG in 1877 in Balmain, and they had a daughter, Clarice Ida CRAIG registered in 1879 in Glebe.

When I reviewed the will of Samuel PRIESTLY, Henry's father, I found a most interesting note:

' pay the sum of ten pounds to each of my faithful servants ??? and Clara Craig....'

The underlining is part of the original will (which is three pages long). I couldn't believe it as I recognized the name.

The implication here is remarkable - Samuel's son Henry married his faithful servant Clara CRAIG nee PORCHER!

I do not know when John CRAIG died (there are many deaths in the relevant window of time), but clearly he died prior to 1885 (I cannot make out the first name in the will but it doesn't appear to be John), and possibly after 1882 given that Samuel may have made out a gift to the couple.

In 1885 Henry married Clara and they had six children. He died in 1918:

The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate
Wednesday 23 October 1918
The late Mr. Henry Priestly, of Canley road, Fairfield, was one of the oldest members of the Masonic Order in this State. He was a passenger in the first railway train that ran to Granvillc on the opening of the line in the early days, and was one of the military guard of honor to the Governor at the official opening of the line. His business premises in Sussex street he occupied for over 30 years. His familiar figure around Fairfield will be missed by the friends of a man of sterling worth,

Clara survived him, dying in 1937, and they are buried together at Rookwood Cemetery.

I knew the family connections, but only the will of Henry's father could reveal that Henry knew Clara as his father's 'faithful servant' - upstairs and downstairs.

Monday, January 26, 2015

David Younger (1920 - 1985)

This is a short post about my step-grandfather, David Borthwick YOUNGER (1920-1985). As a young boy he was my 'Pa', but I learnt after his death that he was in fact my mother's step-father, as her father John BORDER died when my mother was an infant. David and my grandmother had a daughter, my mother's step-sister (and my aunt) after they married in 1957.

I was prompted to make this post as we recently moved an I found a Holy Card from the funeral service:

David Younger
Who died on 3rd November, 1985 aged 65 years.

Some of the following family information is anecdotal.

David was born in Edinburgh, Scotland to parents Roger James Paton YOUNGER (abt 1890-1936) and Elizabeth nee BORTHWICK (?-1966). I know little of his parents in Scotland and have not identified their marriage (but a Scottish Borthwick named Maurice Frank has emailed me a GED file I have not had a chance to look through yet).

Their emigration to Australia was shortly after David's birth in 1920, and I have a note that they arrived on the 'Berrima' in 1921. He had a younger sister Susan (Sue, who married Thomas SUTTON) who was born in NSW. In the 1930 electoral roll the YOUNGER family was living at 105 Laycock Rd, Hurstville, James entered as a plumber. James' death was register in Newtown in 1936, and I have been told it was the result of a workplace (construction) accident. I cannot find an newspaper article to support this (or Ryerson). David's mother Elizabeth died in 1966.

David went to Canterbury Boy's High School (on a scholarship). I am also told that when WW2 arrived, David was training to be a lawyer, but his enlistment record states he worked for the Maritime Services Board. He entered military service during World War 2 (Service Number N24700), and he told me he served in Papua New Guinea. His military records are now available at the National Archives of Australia on-line and this is confirmed. After the war he resumed work for the Maritime Services Board (MSB, in the building now known as the Museum of Contemporary Art, MCA, at Circular Quay). He ultimately met my grandmother in that capacity. She had started working at the MSB as the President, Captain George Whitton, was also President of Legacy at the time and gave her a job after she became widowed when her husband John BORDER died (in 1953). My mother, Clare HALL, recalls being taken to watch him play basketball as a young girl, and recalls that he also played cricket. He was about 37 when he married.

David and my grandmother with family ultimately relocated from Sydney to Newcastle, living in Kahibah where I spent many a happy visit playing in 'Pa's garden and vegetable patch. I recall assisting him with his gardening and pulling carrots, but in hindsight I was probably a bit of a nuisance. He called me a 'switcheroo' because when we watched the Rugby League on TV (I think he was a St George fan) I would support the time who looked likely to win, which would of course change during the game. He also collected aluminium cans with me to go and weigh and sell with me when I visited, and I remember once couldn't believe I'd earned $1.20 - he prepared me for disappointment all the way to the recycling station. I have a small scar on the 'webbing' between my thumb on forefinger on my right hand where I reached out to grab a ubiquitous cigarette in his mouth as a young child. He died just before my 9th birthday.

Amazingly, I do not have a photo of his gravestone.

L-R: my grandmother Yvonne YOUNGER formerly BORDER nee QUINANE, me (Matthew HALL) and my step-grandfather David Borthwick YOUNGER (1920-1985). This photo was taken in the backyard of our house in Saxon St, Belfield probably in 1977.

Quite the crowd. Back: my grandmother Yvonne YOUNGER formerly BORDER nee QUINANE, and my cousin Michael O'CONNOR (looking away). The in front row/gaggle, me (Matthew HALL), my cousin Louisa O'CONNOR,, my sister Renee HALL, our step-grandfather David Borthwick YOUNGER (1920-1985), and my brother Chris HALL. This photo was taken in the backyard of my grandparent's house in Kahibah (a suburb of Newcastle, NSW), probably in 1983 given my sister's age, and probably around Easter based on the warm clothes we are wearing. I remember those slatted outdoor seats well. 

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.