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.

1 comment:

Jill Ball said...

Someone does read your blog! Might the first name on the will snippet be Christy?