Sunday, May 29, 2016

The mystery of Stephen LEWIS (1826-1907) and his family, continued

It is impossible not to be swept up in trying to solve a genealogy mystery outside direct lineage. In most cases, I learn of the 'mystery' through contact from someone via this blog.

Stephen LEWIS and his family is a case in point ( Briefly, Stephen is the brother of my ancestor Harriet LEWIS (1836 - abt 1890). Based on blog entries I was contact by a descendant of Stephen.

Stephen himself has a mystery - he was born about 1826 in East Hendred, Berkshire, England, and died 14 Dec 1907 in Koorboora North Queensland. He arrived in Victoria (Aus) about 1853 (about the time of the gold rush in Victoria), and was apparently known as 'the Yank with the boy on his back'. Why 'the Yank'? Because his marriage and subsequent birth certificates of his children variously state that he was born in Niagara USA; New York USA; and Alabama. There is a small town in Genesee County, New York called Alabama, which is close to Niagara - it is possible there is a connection there.

His arrival has not been verified in records, but in Maryborough (Vic) Hospital Admission records, Stephen Lewis who indicates that he was 40 years old and single on 9th March, 1867. He was Church of England a miner. He had been in the colony for 13 years (arrived about 1854) after arriving on the ship “Charlotte”. His port of embarkation was Liverpool. According to the “Argus” newspaper, the “Charlotte” arrived in Melbourne from Liverpool on 30th November, 1853. It was a cargo vessel carrying 10,000 bricks, 5 tons of hay,12 bales of cotton etc. No passengers were mentioned.

In Australia, Stephen married, and the family appears to have lived in poverty on goldfields. Ultimately his wife and a child died, and he made his way towards Queensland with a son, mining in various places and possibly following the rushes (the post on Stephen linked above outlines his movements).

There is a second mystery though that had not been as well addressed:

Stephen married Jane MCCARTNEY on 15 May 1856 in Buninyong Victoria Australia. She was the daughter of David MCCARTNEY and Mary nee MCDORNAN, and born abt 1834 in Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland. She died in Victoria, but it is not known when.

So what is the mystery? Well, like Stephen, the arrival of Jane in Victoria could not be identified. Furthermore, the family stories were that Jane and a daughter died prior to Stephen LEWIS and son heading towards Queensland. No death records for mother (Jane LEWIS) or daughter have been found.

I was contacted recently by Kath, letting me know that Jane had a sister also in the Buninyong area:

"I believe {Jane} to be the sister of my great grandmother Annie Elizabeth McCartney who married Nathaniel McGrath in Buninyong. Annie’s death certificate says her father was David McCartney and her mother was Jane Dorman. Annie died at age 43 years.... I came across the records of the Ballarat Benevolent Asylum ( Mary Lewis appears twice, once in 1863 and once in 1865. She is described as destitute. Her parents names are there, David and Jane McCartney."

David and Jane McCartney were Jane's stated parents when she married Stephen LEWIS. Kath also sent me the death certificate of Annie, which confirms the details:

Knowing that Jane and Annie were sisters, both born in Belfast and with parents David McCartney and Jane McDornan (or variation) makes re-searching for possible immigration more straightforward. While I had not seen anything categorical, it is stated in several genealogy fora that the parents David and Jane McCartney also came to Australia. So I searched for immigration records in Victoria, and full newspapers searching, without any luck.

So I cast my search more broadly, and checked NSW Immigration Records. 

Finally I found that the McCartney family arrived in 1850 on the 'Oriental'. The arrival records indicate that David and Jane had FOUR children on arrival, and the spelling of the surname is part of the reason they were so difficult to find:

Oriental, 1850, NSW Assisted immigration
1. Macartney David, 38, labourer, born Cumber Londonderry, parents Henry and Elizabeth both dead, Roman Catholic, reads/writes
2. Macartney Jane, 36, farm servant, born Belfast Antrim, parents David and Bridget McDormin mother living at Belfast, C of E, reads/writes
3. Macartney Mary, 16, house servant, born Belfast Antrim, Roman Catholic, reads/writes
4. Macartney Ann, 13, born Cumber Londonderry, Roman Catholic, reads
5. Macartney Jane, 6, born Belfast Antrim, Roman Catholic, reads
6. Macartney David, 3, born Belfast Antrim, Roman Catholic, neither

Interesting points here are that their children were born in both Cumber and Belfast, so clearly there was some movement of the family. The father David was Catholic, while the mother Jane was Church of England - the children were raised Catholic.

So baed on this, it appears that the family arrived in Sydney, and made their way to Victorian goldfields in a fairly timely manner (at least their daughters Mary and Ann did). In 1856 Mary married there, and Ann (Annie) in 1859.

I have not been able to identify any events yet for parents David and Jane (despite now knowing their parents names which in theory would help with death indexes), nor for their children Jane and David.

I hope that this post may help in finding a solution to what happened to the rest of the McCartney family. While we know that Annie died in 1882 (death certificate above), we do not know where and when exactly Mary died. The last certain reference to Mary in records is that in late 1865 Mary spent time in the Ballarat Benevolent Society, where she stated she was a housekeeper living in Warrenheip.

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