Saturday, 11 April 2020

The First Fleet leaves Portsmouth

One of the projects during this period of social / physical isolation is to begin compiling information about the family history. Last term my seven year old grandson was asking questions about the convicts when he discovered that we have twelve convicts in our family including two who came on the First Fleet.
Today I decided to revisit the database, British Library Newspapers, which can be accessed from the website of the State Library of Victoria by those with a library card. Other major libraries will probably provide a similar service. The database provides access to digitised copies of articles published in Britain from the 1700s.

I used the advanced search option allowing me to search for a variety of terms such as "Botany Bay" and "Portsmouth" or "Botany Bay" and "Convicts" or just "Botany Bay" and restricting the time period of the search using the dates between option. I experimented  with a number of options.

Clicking the images below will provide a larger image.

On the surface the departure of the First Fleet for Botany Bay did not create much interest in the local press but aspects of the story can be discovered by exploring references to the departure of the ships during 1787.

The First Fleet left the Motherbank, Portsmouth, on 13 May 1787. From the beginning of the year convicts had left the gaols in which they had been imprisoned and loaded into wagons for the journey to Portsmouth. The Chelmsford Chronicle March 2 1787 carries a short report from the House of Commons, 26 February 1787.

On 7 May 1787 the Hampshire Chronicle added the following information about new convict arrivals aboard ships.
The following information about the ships at Portsmouth was provided on March 19 1787 in the Hampshire Chronicle. The paragraph in Home News listed the names of the ships that would be sailing to Botany Bay and also noted the captains of each ship and number of convicts and others on the vessels.

The Norfolk Chronicle reported on May 12 1787 that the fleet was ready to sail the next day.

A report dated 13 May appeared in the Northampton Mercury May 19 1787 that the ships had sailed that morning. The frigate, Hyaena, was to accompany them for the first part of the journey.
 The Hereford Journal May 17 1787 announced that the ships had sailed for Botany Bay.
A report on the initial progress of the fleet appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle May 26 1787 providing a quote forom a letter from Plymouth dated May 16.
Another short report in the Leeds Intelligencer May 22 1787 provided the coordinates of the ships when last sighted.
Over the ensuing months the newspapers provided information about the progress of the fleet either when a ship arriving in England reported a sighting of the ships or carried letters from First Fleet ships' officers.

The Hyaena brought a letter from an officer of the Friendship dated 20 May. A summary appeared in the Northampton Mercury 9 June 1787.

  Another report appeared in the Northampton Mercury June 30 1787.
The Hampshire Chronicle 30 July 1787 published part of a letter dated June 5 from Teneriffe written by an officer.
The ships of the First Fleet arrived in Rio de Janeiro in August to restock the food supply. This information appeared in the Stamford Mercury November 30 1787.

These snippets of information provide useful information on the commencement of the First Fleet voyage.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

2019 in review

2019 was a quieter year for family history research and resulted in only nineteen posts in my blog however quite some time was spent doing background reading and online courses on Future Learn which should help when writing family stories.

My Resolutions blog post at the end of 2018 listed a number of aims for the year - some of which I completed, some I started and some will have to go on the To Do List for 2020.

In 2018 I undertook the #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge but left undone topics for eight weeks in the middle of the year as we were overseas. I did write those posts in 2019 so that is one tick.

I also wrote that I was going to concentrate on organising my collection starting with purchasing new storage boxes from Archival Survival. Ten boxes have been assembled and await my attention near my desk. This is a definite project for the new year combined with plans for reorganising the computer room now that the cot that has been in the room for nine years is no longer required for grandchildren. There will also be more space when boxes of toys are stored in another room. The plan is to have new shelves to hold my boxes, books relating to my family history plus folders. Having the material in one place should make finding material more efficient, especially as this would be the perfect excuse to sort items properly.

One aim was to write posts about musicians in the family and I wrote a two on that topic (although one was published on New Year's Eve 2018). I also wrote several posts on sport - one on the Stawell Gift which my father attended annually. Towards the end of the year, on two occasions, I repeated a talk that I first made three years previously about my father's involvement reporting on the Melbourne Olympic Games. Discussion at these talks resulted in the compilation of two more posts on this topic.

A number of history based television shows during the year provided background material on ancestors who lived many centuries ago. The SBS series, The Rise of the Clans, hosted by Neil Oliver had two episodes on Robert the Bruce and his family.  The End of Empire: the Rise and Fall of Dynasties on the History Channel was about the Saxon king, Edgar, who is credited with being the first King of All England. Another episode in this series was about Charlemagne - a topic for another occasion. The Family Legend prompt in the #52Ancestors challenge allowed for a post on  the branch of the family tree with the royal connections.

Events relating to 50 year anniversaries in our lifetime formed two more posts plus a post on significant trees in family gardens.

I have also read a number of books during the year, many of them relating to events in my family history.


In 2019 I took out an unlimited subscription to Future Learn online courses for a year and had a wonderful time exploring courses primarily relating to history and archaeology but also literature, health and even science. I also spent some time exploring the Italian language as two of my grandchildren learn Italian at school.

The University of Strathclyde ran three excellent online courses towards the end of the year 
Working lives in the Factories and Mills: Textile History and Heritage
Working Lives in the Coalmines: Mining History and Heritage
Working Lives on Britain's Railways: Railway History and Heritage. 
(With family who worked in the textile industry and in the railways, these will be very useful).

Lancaster University 
Lancaster Castle and Northern English history - more family connections. 
Humphry Davy (invention of the miners' lamp and other scientific discoveries).

University of Glasgow 
The Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformation. This course complemented The Rise of the Clans television series. 
Early Modern Scottish Paleography
The History of Royal Fashion (the last 500 years).

University of Edinburgh 
Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites
How to Read a Novel (a look at modern fiction)

British Film Institute 
The Living Picture Craze: an Introduction to Victorian Film

University of Aberdeen 
Walter Scott: the Man behind the Monument

Royal Holloway, University of London 
Beyond the Ballot (the campaign for women's right to vote in Britain).
Peterloo to the Pankhursts: Radicalism and Reform in the Nineteenth Century.

Trinity College, Dublin 
The History of the Book in the Early Modern period: 1450 to 1800. 
The Book of Kells.

University of Groningen 
The Scientific Revolution (how seventeenth century science shaped the modern world)

University of Exeter 
Empire (debate about the British Empire)

University of Newcastle (Australia)
 Great Southern Land: Introducing Australian History

National Maritime Museum 
Confronting Captain Cook - Memorialisation in Museums and Public Spaces

University of Reading 
Rome (exploring the ancient city using 3D models)
Archaeology (this was one of the first courses that I did some years ago)

Durham University 
Archaeology and the Battle of Dunbar 1650: From the Scottish Battlefield to the New World.  
Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology.

Griffith University 
Written in Bone: an Introduction to Forensic and Bioarchaeology. 
A Question of Time (what dating fossils can tell about evolution).
Music Psychology: Why does Bohemian Rhapsody feel so good?

Monash University - Food as Medicine

Other Future Learn history related courses that I have done in other years include:
Lancaster University
Radical Spirituality (new seventeenth century religions including Quakers)

University of Southampton
Agincourt 1415

Newcastle University (UK)
Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

University of Leicester
England in the Time of King Richard III

Monash University
World War I: A History in 100 Stories

UNSW Canberra
World War 1: Lessons and Legacy of the Great War

Trinity College, Dublin
Irish Lives in War and Revolution

Future Learn has courses on many topics so it is well worth exploring to see if there is anything of interest. If you just want to do a course and don't want access to the material after the conclusion of the course, there is no charge. This year I decided to pay the annual fee for additional access to the material, allowing me to refer to some of the topics as required.

Last year I was asked why I didn't join U3A. My reply was that I didn't need to as I have Future Learn

It has been an interesting year exploring a wide variety of topics, however this year my resolution is to concentrate on writing at least part of the family story for my family.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Melbourne Olympic Games - 1956

I recently gave two more talks about the Melbourne Olympic Games where I have met many people with memories and family involvement with the games.

When I showed a slide of a picture of the Opening Ceremony on the cover of the Australian Women's Weekly a gentleman at one talk asked me to stop at the picture and pointed out two white squares in the picture. The two white squares are the Melbourne Olympic Choir.

He was a member of a combined community choir - the Melbourne Olympic Choir - that sang at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Lloyd gave me notes that he had written about his experiences with the choir which consisted members of community choirs throughout Victoria. As well as singing at the Opening Ceremony the choir performed at a number of events including the Closing Ceremony.

Other people at the meeting were Betty who, as a member of the St John's Ambulance Brigade, attended many of the events working with that organisation.
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Presentation books showing pictures of Melbourne and surrounding areas were presented to members of the Olympic Committee who would eventually vote for the city to host the 1956 Olympic Games. Three special invitation books with lambs’ wool covers decorated with jewels were presented to three people including the King of England and the President of the OIC. Other copies were also covered with lambs’ wool and decorated with an enamelled emblem. Copies were also covered with suede plus enamelled emblems. The books were presented to member of the International Olympic Committee in 1948 and also to local supporters of the project. The company that printed the books was Spicers & Detmold in Coburg and one of the ladies present at the meeting was a daughter of one of the printers who made the books.
A copy of the book with the invitation
The Melbourne Invitation Committee extends a most cordial invitation to the esteemed International Olympic Committee to celebrate the XVI Olympiad in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956. 
A second book, published as a supplement to the first book, was published in January 1949 and was posted to all delegates of the Olympic Committee who would decide who would host the Games in 1956.
Another lady told us that her mother helped make the presentation cushions used for medal presentations at the Melbourne Olympic Games.
Official Report of the Organising Committee for the Games of the XVI Olympiad Melbourne 1956

When we were discussing who attended any events at the Olympic Games one couple laughed and the husband said that he went to the Closing Ceremony because the soccer final was played before the ceremony and he is a soccer fan. Meanwhile his wife stayed home and looked after the baby.
Program for the Closing Ceremony
Another connection to the Melbourne Olympic Games was one lady who said that she trained in athletics with Betty Cuthbert. At the Melbourne Olympic Games Betty Cuthbert won the 100m and 200m and was in the Australian 4 x 100m relay team which also won gold.
Marlene Matthews with Betty Cuthbert
The water polo incident in the Hungary and Russia  match was also mentioned in the game. The book by Harry Blutstein, Cold War Games, covers this unfortunate incident. This incident was later referred to as 'blood in the water'.
Blood in the Water
At the second talk the father of one lady was involved in the printing of the tickets for the Melbourne Olympic Games.

The three talks that I have given have provided additional information about the Melbourne Olympic Games.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Olympic Games 1956 - more memorabilia

In preparation for another talk about the Olympic Games held in Melbourne in 1956 I now have some more memorabilia relating to the Melbourne Games and to my father.

Journalists reporting on the Melbourne Olympic Games were issued with a pass allowing them entrance to all venues during the period of the Games.
The Olympic Village Official Information Book provides basic information about the accommodation for those those staying at the Olympic Village in Heidelberg.
Click on image to enlarge
The information in this booklet provides examples of living in the 1950s with instructions for the use of bath heaters, gas coppers and other appliances. I also thought that it was interesting that steam irons and washing machines were only available in the Women's Quarters.
The Official Guide to the Olympic Games was published by the Organising Committee for the Melbourne Games. The guide contained a brief history of the Olympic Games, information about the Modern Games , venues, a programme of events, ticket prices, maps of venues plus information for tourists including information about transport, restaurants, sights to see, banking, postage etc.
The 1956 edition of The A T F S Olympic Handbook produced by the Association of Track and Field Statisticians was the third edition of this publication. It contains the official world track and field records for events from 1896 until 1952 as well as an all time world list for athletic events stating name,time, place and date event occurred. There is also  list if the world's best performances of all time.
The General Rules and Special Sports Regulations for the XVI Olympiad is a well used publication in my father's collection. It contains a detailed program for all events, maps (including gradients) for events held outside stadiums, general rules relating to the staging of the Games plus detailed regulations for individual sports.
The Melbourne Olympic Games were held from Thursday 22 November to Saturday 8 December. No events were held in Sundays. Programs were produced for each event for each day of competition. So far we have found programs for swimming, cycling and boxing among Dad's collection. I am still looking for the Dad's copy of the program for the Opening Ceremony.
In 1957 a booklet containing Australian Team Reports of the Olympic Games Melbourne 1956 was published. As well as lists of officials there was a general summary report followed by more detailed reports, often with photographs, for individual sports. There was a list of all the Olympic champions for the Games plus a list of Olympic placings by Australian representatives since the first Olympic Games in 1896.

These items, together with information on other posts on the Melbourne Olympic Games in this blog, help tell part of the story of an important sporting event in Melbourne's history.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Abbey Road Beatles Album - 50 years on

Fifty years ago Abbey Road, the famous album by the Beatles, was released. This eleventh studio album by the Beatles was released on 26 September 1969. The album took six months to record and was final album that the Beatles recorded together.

Tracks on the album include:

Come together


Maxwell's silver hammer
Oh! Darling
Octopus's garden
I want you (She's so heavy)
Here comes the sun
You never give me your money
Sun King
Mean Mr Mustard
Polythene Pam
She came in through the bathroom window
Golden slumbers
Carry that weight
The end
Her Majesty (a hidden track)

The record studio, Abbey Road Studios, where many of the tracks were recorded located at 3 Abbey Road, may have contributed to the naming of this album but the photo of the four Beatles crossing Abbey Road on the zebra crossing has become an iconic image always associated with the album.

Visitors to the area have their photo taken crossing the Abbey Road crossing. Hopefully local traffic has become accustomed to this activity. Last year when the Australian Over 70s Cricket Team visited Lord's Cricket Ground many members of the team had a go at crossing Abbey Road.
John and Robin crossing Abbey Road
The photo used on the cover of the Abbey Road album.
Image from udiscovermusic
The music of the Beatles recorded in the 1960s continues to be popular, particularly among those of us who were teenagers at that time. The group holds an important place in the history of modern music.The record album, Abbey Road, remains a featured album in many music collections throughout the world.

Why the Beatles Abbey Road album was streets ahead of its time - udiscovermusic (includes links to music tracks on Spotify - need to log in)
Abbey Road Album Cover: Behind the Beatles most famous photograph - udiscovermusic

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Where were you during the first moon walk?

Image result for moon landing 1969
Man walks on the Moon July 1969 - National Geographic (July 2016)
Lunchtime on July 21 1969 (Australian time) Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on to the surface of the moon. This event was televised and watched by millions of people throughout the world.

NASA had three tracking stations prepared to monitor and record images of the moon walk - at Goldstone in California, Madrid in Spain and Honeysuckle Creek in New South Wales. These Apollo tracking stations were spaced at equal distances around the globe and between them could cover what was occurring on the moon. Also in New South Wales was the Tidbinbilla tracking station which had the role of tracking the lunar module while Honeysuckle Creek tracked the command module when they were being operated separately. Later the radio telescope at Parkes was added to the Australian network by NASA. Although the radio telescope could not transmit information it had a much larger dish - 61 metres compared with 26 metres - making it useful for receiving information from space.

There had been much discussion as to whether the moon walk would be televised, particularly as cameras were heavy, but in June it was decided that the event should be filmed. A lighter camera had been produced and was stored in an external tool locker. The position of the camera meant that images were filmed upside down, however NASA had an inexpensive device that allowed them to invert the images before transmitting them to the world.

Just before 1 pm (AEST) Neil Armstong made his way to the capsule door and began the slow descent to the surface of the moon. At this time the camera began to film the historic event. Honeysuckle Creek began relaying images to Houston and Goldstone also had images. NASA wanted to transmit the images from Goldstone but there was a problem so they had to use the images from Honesuckle Creek. There was an initial delay but then the world received images of Neil Armstrong nearing the final rungs of the ladder before stepping on the moon and making the famous statement - One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind. Shortly afterwards the clearer images from Parkes were used for the remainder of the moon walk.

Meanwhile people throughout Australia (and the rest of the world) were watching the events on television. I was working at Civic Branch Library in Canberra in Civic Square. We did not have access to television but a shop in a nearby street had put a television set in its front window allowing people passing by to view what was happening on the moon. Needless to say there was quite a crowd watching.  Fortunately it was quiet in the library so staff took it turns (usually two at a time) to join the crowd watching the moonwalk. We could therefore say, 50 years later, that we had seen Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

Last week I asked my husband where he was during the moonwalk. He was a science student at Melbourne University and the university had organised screenings of the event in several lecture theatres so that students and staff could watch .

National Geographic article 19 July 2016 - One giant leap for mankind

'The real dish story' in The Age 20 July 2019

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Brothers at War

The second episode of the Neil Oliver series, The Rise of the Clans, on SBS dealt largely with a family feud to determine who should be King of Scotland. This time the focus was on the Stewart family.

Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce) married Isabella of Mar possibly in 1296 and they had a daughter Marjorie (1296-1316). Isabella died in the same year. In 1302 he married Elizabeth de Burgh and they had four children - Matilda (1310-1353), Margaret (1315-1346), David (1324-1371) and John (1325-1346). There were also a number of illegitimate children.

When King Robert I died in 1329 he was succeeded by his son David - David II of Scotland. David was five years old. When David died in 1371 he had no children so the succession went to his nephew, who became Robert II of Scotland (1316-1390), a grandson of Robert the Bruce.

One of Robert the Bruce's trusted supporters, especially during the Battle of Banockburn in June 1314, was Walter Stewart, High Steward of Scotland. In 1315 Walter married Marjorie, daughter of the king. On 2 March 1316, their son, Robert, was born. Unfortunately shortly before the birth, Marjorie had been thrown from a horse and died when her son was born. Robert became Robert II of Scotland, the first King of the House of Stewart.

In 1336 Robert married Elizabeth Mure (1320-1355) and they had four sons and six daughters. The eldest son was John (1337-1406) who took the name Robert III when he became king in 1327 as it was believed that the name, John, had been tarnished by a previous leader, John Balloil. The three other sons were Walter, Earl of Cathress (1338-1362), Robert, Duke of Albany (1340-1420) and Alexander, Earl of Buchan (1343-1405).

Robert II had given each of the sons part of his kingdom to rule while he was king. After his death tensions increased between the brothers leading to a power struggle over several generations resulting in the assent of the Stewarts as kings of Scotland. The power struggle forms the basis of this episode of The Rise of the Clans.
Actor playing Robert Duke of Albany
In 1388, before he became king, (John) Robert III had been kicked by a horse and was severely injured - an accident from which he never recovered. He was crowned at Scone on 14 August 1390 and remained king for nine years until it was decided that he was too ill to reign effectively and he was replaced by his son, David, as Lieutenant of Scotland assisted by King Robert's younger brother, Robert, Duke of Albany.

Shortly before Robert III was removed from power,  his son, David assisted by the Duke of Albany had been involved in a campaign against the Macdonald clan who wnated to expand their territory. Although Donal Macdonald had an army of 10,000 men actual battle was averted with Donal Macdonald submitting to the rule of the Stewarts.

In 1400 Henry IV decided to invade Scotland and took a large army to Edinburgh to insist on David paying homage to him. David remains in the castle at Edinburgh and refuses to see the King of England. Meanwhile, Robert III's youngest brother, Walter has decided that he wants additional land and has also brought his army to Edinburgh. Walter does not come to David's aid but instead camps with his army outside the city. David remains inside the castle and after two weeks the English army is low on food and other supplies and returns south to England.

To the other Scottish leaders, David was considered a coward and Walter and the Duke of Albany decided to conspire together to remove him from power. In 1401 David was arrested on trumped up charges and imprisoned in the castle of his Uncle Robert where, in 1402, he eventually died of starvation, aged twenty-four. David's father was distraught. The heir to the throne was now his second son, James, aged eleven. To protect James, Robert III arranged to send James to France. However the ship was seized by English pirates who returned their prisoner to England where he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Another prisoner in the Tower of London was Murdoc, the eldest son and heir of Robert, Duke of Albany.

Robert III died in 1406 and was buried at Paisley Abbey. The heir to the throne was imprisoned in England. Robert, Duke of Albany and his brother Walter, now promoted to Earl of Athol, had control of Scotland. Their other brother, Alexander, had died. But not everyone was happy with this arrangement. Donal Macdonald made an arrangement with James that if he could arrange for his release from England, Macdonald would have the land he wanted including the Earldom of Ross. In1411 battle ensued between the Macdonalds and the Stewarts - the Battle of Harlow. The Macdonald challenge failed and they retreated back to their homelands. James remained in prison.

By 1415 James was living at Windsor Castle. He was still a prisoner but had some freedom with access to women, tennis, gardening and poetry. It was at the castle that he met his future wife, Joan Beaufort. Meanwhile, the Duke of Albany eventually paid his son's ransom. The Duke was now an elderly man and needed an heir. But no-one in Scotland was prepared to pay for the release of James. In 1420 Robert, Duke of Albany, died Murdoc became Guardian of Scotland.

Walter continued to expand his land taking over the land that had belonged to his brother, Alexander, and obtaining the loyalty of the clan chiefs. But he wanted more. He decided to make a deal with James to assist in James' return to Scotland with the hope of obtaining the lands of Strathearn. The English agreed to return James to Scotland for ransom of £40,000 in instalments and also promised seven years peace.
Scene from Brothers at War, Joan, James and Walter
In February 1424 James married Joan Beaufort and they then travelled north to Scotland. James had now spent half his life in England and wanted to have the same power in Scotland that kings had in England. James' royal authority was challenged by some of the clan chiefs and initially James sought assistance from his Uncle Walter. To have this power and image required money which the kingdom could not really afford. James also needed to avenge the death of his brother, David. He waited for a year and then he had Murdoc tried as his family was responsible for the death of his brother. Murdoc's execution upset a number of people including a man named Robert Graham, head of the Graham Clan.

Concern about the spending of the new king causes unrest among the Clan chiefs. James has built new castles and priories and improved the armoury of the country. His ransom has only been partly paid. James decides that taking control of some of his uncle's land, including Strathearn, will bring in some of the required revenue. This, of course, further antagonises Walter.

Robert Graham and Walter began to plot the demise of James. Walter's grandson, Robert of Atholl, befriended James and became Chamberlain of the Royal Household. This position provided him with information as to all the movements of the king. The plan is hatched to kill both King James and his queen.

On 21 February 1437, Robert of Atholl allows a party of assassins, led by Robert Graham, to enter the royal bedchamber. James hears them coming and escapes into the sewers. The men attack and injure some of the women, including the queen, however they decide not to kill them. Once James is located, Robert Graham kills him. Walter was not pleased when he learned that the queen was still alive and she would protect her son, the new king. She would also demand revenge.

Joan proved to be ruthless when ordering the brutal execution of all those involved in the death of her husband including Robert Graham, Robert Atholl and Walter Atholl. The civil war within the Stewart Clan was now over leaving James II of Scotland, with the support of his mother, as ruler of Scotland.

Monday, 24 June 2019

The Bruce Supremacy

SBS is currently showing the three part series, The Rise of the Clans, narrated by Neil Oliver. The first program, sub-titled The Bruce Supremacy and aired Sunday 16 June, told the story of the role of Scottish clans in helping Robert I (Robert the Bruce) become King of Scotland.
Scene from The Bruce Supremacy
When Alexander II of Scotland died in 1286 six Guardians were appointed to rule Scotland. The membership and number of Guardians changed frequently until November 1292 when John Balliol was crowned King of Scotland and duly paid homage to the English King. However Edward I invaded Scotland again in April 1296 defeating the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar.  John Balliol was exiled later that year. New Guardians were appointed at different times including William Wallace in February 1298. He resigned in September of that year with  Robert the Bruce and John (Red) Comyn becoming joint Guardians.

On 10 February 1306 Robert the Bruce arranged to meet John Comyn at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. Robert the Bruce was accompanied by his brother, Edward, and leader of the Clan Campbell, Neil Campbell. Bruce informed Comyn that the Kirk had withdrawn support for Balliol (Comyn's cousin) and therefore Bruce should be King. Although the men had left their swords at the door of the Kirk, when an argument broke out Comyn was stabbed with a knife and murdered. There is some discussion as to what really happened but one account was that Comyn was killed by Bruce though the murder was probably not planned. Not surprisingly, this event started a feud between clans in Scotland.

Robert the Bruce with his supporters headed to Scone where he was hurriedly crowned King of Scotland on 26 March by Isobel of Buchan.

Edward I, also known as Hammer of the Scots, immediately moved his troops north and at a battle near Perth the Scots were defeated by Edward's army. Robert the Bruce and his small remaining band of supporters retreated to the west of Scotland to regroup and plan what to do next.

Initially Robert the Bruce and his supporters headed south towards the west coast but had to travel through MacDougall territory. The Clan MacDougall supported the Clan Comyn and did not get along with the Clan Campbell whose land bordered their land. Battle ensued with many men killed. Bruce now had only about 200 men supporting his cause.

Back on Clan Campbell land the party made it to the coast where Neil Campbell was able to organise boats to take the men to the island of Islay, home of the Clan MacDonald who agreed to support Bruce. In October Bruce's party once again took to the sea where they found refuge in the Hebrides and gained the support of Christina of the Isles, a member of Clan Ruaidhri. She allowed them to stay over the winter months until they were ready to resume the battle.
Google Maps
The Clan Bruce occupied part of the Lowlands of Scotland including the area around Annandale, south of Glasgow. One of the family titles was Lord of Annandale. The land of the Bruce Clan was therefore in the south west of Scotland.

The Clan Campbell  had lands on the peninsula on the south west of Scotland as well as land north of the peninsula.

The Clan MacDonald occupied the Isle of Islay as well as on other Western islands.

 The Clan Ruaidhri resided in the Hebrides.

The Clan MacDougall had land near the Campell territory.

The Clan Comyn had land in the north of Scotland.

1307 - 1308
In the Spring of 1307 Robert the Bruce and his men returned to the south west of Scotland. Bruce knew that his men would be outnumbered in open warfare against the English so the plan was to now use Clan Warfare (small scale guerrilla warfare) to achieve their aims. The campaign began in April and May of 1307 and immediately met with success. As well as the element of surprise Bruce's men were able to use their knowledge of the land to achieve success. As time went by Bruce's support and popularity increased and more clans pledged their support. 'God is on his side' and 'Merlin is on his side' were comments repeated by the Scots.

Edward I decided to travel north to Scotland with additional English forces but died, en route, on 7 July 1307. For a time the English tried to keep his death a secret from the Scots. He was succeeded by his son, Edward II.

As well as fighting the English, Robert the Bruce, with the support of the Campbells and the MacDonalds, also made attacks on his old foes - the Clan Comyn and the Clan MacDougall. The climax came in the summer of 1308 at the Battle of the Pass of Bander. After this battle Bruce was declared 'Master of the Highlands'.

The Lowlands
Fighting in the Lowlands was more difficult as the English had access to many castles. The Scots had no access to siege artillery so Bruce's men continued the campaign of only attacking small groups of soldiers. The castles themselves were attacked only when the Scots knew that they were vulnerable. However, over time, the Scots had captured most of the castles in the Lowlands.

The support for Robert the Bruce had greatly increased but he knew that before he would be completely accepted as King of Scotland he needed to win an open battle against the English.

By 1314 Stirling Castle was the only castle still held by the English. Bruce made an agreement with the garrison that if the English did not bring troops to support the castle by a certain date, then they would surrender the castle.

Edward II moved his troops north - 15,000 foot soldiers plus 2,500 cavalry. Bruce currently had 6,000 foot soldiers. Still the leaders of the Scots knew the terrain. The Scottish forces had been trained to form a schiltron where they stood in a group with their spears pointing outwards in all directions. The group moved together towards the enemy when fighting. This made them a formidable group.

Battle of Bannockburn
The climax came on 23 June 1314 outside Stirling Castle and completed the next day near the river. This encounter is known as the Battle of Bannockburn.

When the English first saw the Scottish soldiers lined up they just saw lines of men with spears. However as they advanced the Scots moved into their schilitron formations. The advancing English cavalry was also unaware that the Scots had dug a trench across their path. Pointed sticks had been placed pointing upwards in the pit which had been camouflaged. The Scots won the first encounter.

The English moved to a campsite near the Bannockburn river. Robert the Bruce received a report that the confidence of the English soldiers was low and the decision was made to attack the English camp early in the morning, taking the English by surprise. As the wall of spears approached the English army emerging from sleep, the English soldiers retreated to the river where many were slaughtered or drowned.

After this victory Robert the Bruce was accepted as the legitimate King of Scotland - Robert I - by his subjects. The Scots received large ransoms for the captured English nobles and much of this money was used to provide land and gifts to the clan leaders who had supported Bruce. Robert the Bruce also negotiated the return of his wife, daughter and sister who had been captives of the English in England.

Other posts in this blog on the Battle of Bannockburn
Battle of Bannockburn

A number of my family members featured in the story portrayed in the program, The Bruce Supremacy:
Robert I of Scotland (1274-1329) was my 21st great grandfather
Edward I of England (1239-1307) was my 22nd great grandfather
Edward II of England (1284 -1327) was my 21st great grandfather

Friday, 21 June 2019

The Ancestor Plates

With  the Winter Solstice upon us indicating that we are almost half way through 2019 it may be time to look at the Resolution blog post written as part of the #52Ancestor challenge 2018 at the end of last year in order to check the progress so far.

This was prompted by a conversation that I had with my seven year old grandson about our Ancestor Plates. He and his sister were having dinner with us so instead of the Peppa Pig and George Pig plates usually used we decided that they could have 'big' plates. Hence their introduction to the Ancestor Plates.

In 1988 the primary school had a fundraiser selling melamine plates based on designs prepared by family members. As it was the Bicentenary and the Bicentenary logo was to be on each item I decided to order a plate decorated with information about family convicts. The names, ships and dates of arrival in Australia were provided for each of nine convicts. This resulted in Ancestor Plate no. 1.

However I later discovered another three convicts in the family so when a similar fundraiser was held a few years later I arranged for Ancestor Plate no. 2, this time with the names, ships and dates for twelve convicts to be made.

Aiden was most impressed with his Ancestor Plate and wanted to know about the names on the plate. I explained that they were convicts, the first members of our family to come to Australia more than 200 years ago. My husband asked Aiden if he knew what a convict was so we then explained that a convict was a prisoner. Aiden's immediate question was had they been in gaol. What followed was a conversation about why these people had been in gaol, why they had left England and Ireland to come to Australia and how long did it take for the ships to make the journey. Obviously the time has arrived to make some of the family history available to the grandchildren.

Resolution number 3 in my December blog post was to collect all the stories in my blog relating to specific families to start compiling histories of those families. Obviously the time has come to start this.

Resolution number 1 was to complete the eight posts for the #52Ancestors challenge 2018 which I did not do last year when we were away on veterans cricket tours. I have now completed these posts so one tick.

Resolution number 2 was to organise my family history research collection more effectively. This has now been started. A few months ago I ordered ten polypropylene boxes from Archival Survival and have just finished assembling them. (partial tick) Now I can put papers and other items relating to specific families in one box making it easier to locate information. When working on a box I will put some of the material into polypropylene enclosures. [Looking after special items in collections]

My other resolutions to locate additional information, including background information, on projects such as family living in the Hawkesbury region of NSW, family in India during the Raj, and answer remaining questions about George Guest's land in Hobart will no doubt be investigated as I piece together the various family stories.

Consquently some progress has been made in carrying out the research resolutions for 2019 - however there is still much to be done.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

#52 Ancestors - Week 36 - Work

My final post in the #52Ancestors for 2018 having now completed the prompts that I didn't do in the middle of last year when were overseas. The prompt is Work which provides the opportunity look at the types of occupations undertaken by family members in Australia over the centuries.

In the nineteenth century many of my Australian ancestors owned property of varying sizes and made their living from farming. Eight of the convicts in my family tree settled in the Hawkesbury area, usually around Windsor, where most of them farmed land growing crops such as wheat, maize, barley and potatoes - all crops needed to feed settlers in the colony. They also farmed animals including cattle, pigs and / or sheep. Initially land holdings might be ten or 15 acres but, over time, additional land was often purchased so Charles Daley, for example, originally had a holding of 15 acres in 1806 increased to 26 acres by 1822. Other former convicts with land in this area included William Roberts and John Pendergast.

Maintaining these properties would have been a family affair with the women assisting as required as well as looking after large families of children.

Although Uriah Moses owned some land on which grain was grown, he primarily worked at his bakery and later general store in Windsor, owned properties in the town itself, and dabbled in real estate and money lending. Richard Holland also diversified his occupations by owning and farming land but also being involved with a bakery and butcher's shop in Windsor.

One of the convicts, Simeon Lord, although he owned large holdings of land in New South Wales,  lived in Sydney where he worked as a merchant, owned sealing and whaling ventures and was a magistrate. He also established woollen mills at Botany which became a major family business. His wife, Mary looked after their large family but was also aware of the operation of the business interests as she took over when Simeon died.

Two of the convicts settled on Norfolk Island where George Guest ended up owning landholdings on which he grazed sheep. When the first settlement faced closure, George and his family settled in Hobart where he received land to replace his holdings on Norfolk Island and brought the first sheep to Van Diemen's Land. George could not read or write however he managed a number of businesses including owning the Seven Star Inn in Hobart.

Another entrepreneur in the family was Thomas Birch who travelled to Hobart as a ship's doctor and decided to stay. He became a merchant and was involved in whaling and sealing as well as ship building and owned large quantities of land in Hobart. He also sponsored an expedition to explore the coast of Tasmania in 1815.

Another family merchant arrived in Hobart in the early 1830s. George Mackillop was a Scottish merchant with the East India Company and also ran a number of other businesses back home in Scotland. George decided to try his luck in the new colony and as well as conducting his merchant business in Hobart he became interested in potential of the land that was to become Victoria. He led a small expeditionary party from New South Wales into northern Victoria in 1835 and when it was decided to settle parts of Victoria he acquired pastoral land and also purchased land in Melbourne. By the early 1840s George had returned to Edinburgh before relocating to Bath.

Other family connections with India included family members serving in the British army in India including William Forbes Hutton while one of George Mackillop's sons, John, worked for the East India Company. After leaving the army William Forbes Hutton purchasd a property at Lilydale, Victoria.

Three of the occupants of my family tree had trained as surgeons, Thomas Birch, William Clifton Weston and William Forbes Hutton. Thomas Birch was occasionally called on to assist medically in Hobart but he preferred concentrating on enlarging his fortune as a merchant and landholder. William Forbes Hutton decided that he was not interested in doctoring so served in the army as a soldier, rather than as an army doctor as originally planned.  William Clifton Weston trained as a surgeon and worked as a Coroner in different regions of New South Wales.

Other family members also had government appointments.George Moses worked for the New South Wales Railways while James Campbell Thom was a solicitor as well as being an officer in the New South Wales Railways Army Corps. George Hutton owned a sheep station near Parkes but had to sell it during the Federation Drought. He then became a rabbit inspector in the Parkes region. When George Hutton lost his property his wife, Annie, returned to Sydney where she ran a boarding house.

John Hillcoat tried farming in South Australia when he first arrived in Australia in 1852 but the venture proved unsuccessful so the family returned to England. Returning to New South Wales in 1859, he opened a music store in West Maitland while his wife, Catherine, ran a school for girls. In 1868 John became manager of a mining company in Queensland earning enough money to purchase two properties and try farming again.

Charles Septimus Smith and his father John Smith both worked as warehousemen in England. Charles initially sold sewing machines when he came to New South Wales but is also listed in records as a warehouseman.

In general, many of the second (and subsequent) generation family members inherited, or purchased, large properties, usually grazing sheep or cattle. Arthur Lord owned and managed sheep stations in western Queensland before moving closer to the coast where he farmed crops before purchasing a dairy farm.

In the twentieth century family occupations diversified with family members often living in Sydney or Melbourne. My grandfather, RJH Moses, and my father, Ken Moses,  were both journalists. My grandmother, Agnes Campbell Thom, and I became librarians. My other grandmother, Nancy Lord, would have liked to have been an artist but gave up painting when she married. My great aunt, Eleanora Hutton, worked in a government department in England during the First World War and in an office in Sydney during the 1940s. My mother worked as a receptionist for the music shop, Boosey and Hawkes when she left school.

My husband was an electrical engineer and consequently saw many changes over the years at PMG / Telecom / Telstra. Currently one of our sons is an IT Manager while the other two are accountants. My two daughters in law are primary school teachers though one was a nurse at the Children's Hospital before taking up teaching. Over the years occupations evolve so it will be interesting to observe the paths taken by our grandchildren - one day in the distant future.