Saturday, 26 May 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 21 - Military

Prior to Federation a series of colonial military forces were established. British soldiers had been stationed in Australia during the convict period which ended in 1868.  During the 1850s small local military forces were first recruited. The Australian War Memorial website provides an overview of the development of volunteer militia in the states during the colonial period. The State Library of Victoria has an online guide about the Voluntary and Militia Forces in Victoria.
James Campbell Thom
My great grandfather, James Campbell Thom, was an officer in the Second Infantry Regiment in New South Wales in the 1890s. This regiment of volunteers was established in 1860. Newspaper reports show James' involvement in the voluntary forces. He had become a second lieutenant on 20 February 1890 and was promoted to captain on 1 June 1894. Two years later he was promoted to the position of major. (Sunday Times 24 May 1896). At 32 James was considered to be the youngest major appointed in the New South Wales forces.

Photograph of officer's full dress tunic 2nd Infantry Regiment New South Wales (AWM).

Military badge of 2nd Infantry Regiment New South Wales (Digger History).

In 1893 James became Solicitor for Railways in New South Wales so when the New South Wales Railway Volunteer Corps was established in 1897, he was seconded from the 2nd Infantry Regiment to become the major commanding the new unit.

The Evening News 6 January 1897 described the formation of the new volunteer corps:

The Governor in Council has approved of the establishment of the N.S.W. Railway Volunteer Corps, to consist of two companies, each of one captain, two lieutenants, one color-sergeant, four sergeants, two drummers or buglers, four corporals, and eighty-six privates, being 100 in a company. There will also be an 'officer commanding,' and a staff-sergeant from the Permanent Staff as instructor. 
The New South Wales Railway Volunteer Corps disbanded in 1899. (Year Book of Australia 1909)

James was just one of many men involved in the variety of volunteer forces formed at this time in each state. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 20 - Another Language

The prompt for the #52Ancestors challenge this week is Another Language. My ancestors who came to Australia were from England, Scotland and Ireland so technically all spoke English. As spoken English in the United Kingdom is renowned for the variety of dialects and accents that can occur in different regions, would my ancestors have been able to understand each other if they, hypothetically, all met together in one group?

Let's start with the twelve convicts who were transported to Australia between 1788 and 1808. George Guest was born in Gloucestershire, possibly in Minchinhampton, while William Roberts, my other First Fleet convict, was born in Cornwall, possibly at St Keverne. The Second Fleet convicts were Mary Bateman who was living in London when she was arrested at the age of 15 and Kezia Brown who was born in Severn Stoke in Worcestershire.

Heading north, Simeon Lord, who arrived with the Third Fleet, was from Todmorden which at the time was in Lancashire (though now in west Yorkshire). Another ancestor from the south of England was Mary Hyde who was born in Halesowen in Shropshire (now in Worcestershire).

The first family member from Ireland was Charles Daley who was born in Dublin. He married Susannah Alderson, possibly born in Gilmonby in Yorkshire. When Susannah was arrested she was living at Kirby Hill in north Yorkshire.

Uriah Moses may have been born in Exeter in Devon though he was living in London when he was arrested. Many Jews who lived in Exeter at this time had recently returned to England from Germany.

Another Irishman in the convict family tree was John Pendergast from Dublin.  Richard Holland may have been born in Holborn in Middlesex while Jane Williams was born in Bristol in Gloucestershire/ Somerset border.

Eight of the convicts were therefore from various locations in the south of England while two were from the north and two from Ireland.

Looking at those who made their own decision to settle in Australia adds to the geographical mix. According to some sources, Thomas Birch may have come from Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire (though this still needs to be proved).

There are a few Scots in the family. James Campbell Thom was born in Dunoon in Scotland while Agnes Campbell Thom was born in Glasgow. Sarah McCallum was also born in Glasgow. George Mackillop was born in Stirlingshire while his daughter, Eleonora, was born in Edinburgh.

Back in England, Charles Septimus Smith was born in Newington in Surrey (London). William Forbes Hutton was born Westerham, Kent, however earlier generations of the Hutton family were from Scotland. William's son, George, was born at Bath, Somerset. John William Hillcoat was also born at Bath in Somerset as was Catherine Ellen Mant.

Another ancestor from Ireland is Jane Cox who was born in Old Court, Cork.

No doubt observing a hypothetical get-together of these ancestors would prove to be an interesting, challenging and no doubt entertaining experience.

British Library: Accents and Dialects of England
Babbel Magazine: The Royal Family of British Accents
Dialect Blog: British Accents and Dialects

Sunday, 13 May 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 19 - Mothers Day

Mother's Day - a time to celebrate and reflect on the lives of our mothers. In this post I look at how a girl from Queensland acclimatised to living in Melbourne.
My mother introducing me to an amused horse -1948
My mother, Rosemary Lord, was 19 when she married and moved with my father to Melbourne in 1946. Born in western Queensland, she had moved to Sydney in 1939 to attend secondary school and consequently had lived in Sydney during World War II. Seven years later she was again starting a new life in another strange city.

Notes from an interview with my mother in 1994 reveal some of her experiences at this time.

My father, Ken Moses, was a journalist and had transferred to Melbourne to work on the Sun News Pictorial towards the end of 1945. He had been working in Melbourne for almost six months before returning to Sydney to marry my mother on 11 February 1946. After a honeymoon at Phillip Island Mum started her new life in Melbourne.

Initially my parents stayed at a boarding house, Dever, 444 St Kilda Road, before the building was demolished and absorbed into Repatriation Department (Veterans Affairs) buildings. Mum described her experiences when she first came to Melbourne: Ken worked for the Sun and I didn't have anything to do and didn't know anyone apart from a couple of old aunts.The 'old aunts' were Aunt Meg, the sister of Mum's grandfather, and Aunt Vi, Aunt Meg's sister in law. A great uncle, Maurice Hutton, and his family also lived at Burwood. Mum occasionally visited them but did not know them well.

Mum later observed: When I look back I should have got a job but one didn't think of doing such things in those days once you were married. It was really ridiculous because we really needed the money. In Sydney Mum had worked as a receptionist for a music company.

After six months at the boarding house, my parents moved to Hotham Street, Elsternwick, where they shared a house with Mr Greer. The house, near the Ripponlea shopping centre, provided them with two bedrooms, a lounge room, a small balcony and the use of  the bathroom, kitchen and backyard. This arrangement would have provided Mum with a little more freedom and independence. Mum described Mr Greer as a very nice gentleman, very good to us. Fortunately Mr Greer did not mind young children as I was born at the local hospital during their time in Elsternwick.

When I was ten months old Dad left for England to cover the London Olympic Games for the Sun newspaper so Mum and I spent the next six months at the home of my grandparents in Queensland. Although Dad returned to Australia just before Christmas, Mum and I remained in Queensland until January until my parents found somewhere to live in Melbourne.

The location this time was Fern Tree Gully. My mother did not enjoy her six months living there:

We had a house. It was pretty terrible. In those days (1949) Ferntree Gully really seemed the the end of the world. The only good thing was you could go for long walks around the place. I knew absolutely no-one. Trying to go into town or do anything was quite an event. Ken started work at 2 in the afternoon and if he missed the last train at night he used to come at 4 in the morning on the milk train.
Fortunately accommodation became available again at Mr Greer's home so my parents moved back there until deciding to rent a house in Reservoir. This is where they were living when my sister joined the family in 1951. I remember that my father purchased a car around the same time that my sister arrived.

The next few years were ones of relative stability for my mother. She was now living in her own home and had two children to keep her occupied. I was able to attend kindergarten and dancing class in the hall around the corner from our house. We also attended Sunday School in the hall. The shops were nearby, as was the railway station. In the middle of 1953 I started school. I suspect that Mum's life at Reservoir became more ordered and settled.

Then my parents decided it was time to purchase a home of their own so in May 1955 the four of us moved to East Bentleigh to live in a brand new house. The area had been market garden and our house was the third house to be built in the street. It was not long, however, before other houses were built. There was a shopping strip aound the corner, the school was three streets away and a short distance further on was the church. The Oakleigh - Middle Brighton bus stopped at the top of the street making it relatively easy to get to the main shopping areas at East Bentleigh or Bentleigh, and when I went to secondary school I travelled by bus to Brighton.

Our street soon filled with young families and firm friendships were formed. Mum now had a community in which she could become involved.  She joined the Mothers' Club at school, and as this was a new, initially over crowded school, there were always fund-raising activities including the annual school fete. Mum baked lots of cakes and made sweets such as toffees and coconut ice for fundraising activities for both the school and the church. Dad was also involved in community events when work commitments allowed. It was not long before East Bentleigh became home.

The first nine years living in Melbourne involved many changes in accommodation and were often lonely times for my mother. However my mother has lived in East Bentleigh now for sixty-three years, a place that she now definitely calls home. Although many of her original friends have moved from the area or have died, my mother is still active in support networks including the ladies group at the church and with RSL and Legacy groups which work with war widows. It is easy to joke that an appointment is required to ensure that Mum is at home before we visit. 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 18 - Up Close

When I saw the prompt, Up Close, this week I immediately thought of the story recalled by my great grandfather, George Hutton, in the 1930s when George wrote an account of his father's encounter with an elephant in India. William Forbes Hutton was an officer in the British Army when this event occurred and the story was later told to his son who recorded it many years later.

W. F. Hutton had an adventure in India when a young man, that few men have had and lived to speak of. He was chased, when on foot, by an elephant and escaped and this is how it happened.
He was camped with a few troops near a village at the foot of the hills and the natives complained that a rogue elephant was destroying their crops - a rogue elephant is usually an old bull that has been driven out of the herd by younger and stronger males and is invariably savage and bad tempered. 
W F heard of this brute and, being keen on sport, determined to go after him. This was a serious undertaking as he had to go on foot through a thick jungle to get near the elephant, and his weapons were two single barrelled smooth bore guns. Rifles were practically unknown in those days (1840-1850) so he had to get within at least 80 yards to make sure of his shot. Accompanied by a native carrying his second gun, he followed a track up a hill to a spot where the elephant  was known to frequently camp in the day time, a little open space on the top of a hill.

They made as little noise as possible when approaching this place and found their quarry standing sideways to them under a tree about 70 yards away. W. F. took careful aim at a spot just behind the elephant's ear and fired. The elephant did not fall but appeared dazed and he (W. F.) turned for his second gun, to find that the native had bolted taking the gun with him and making such a noise in his flight that he attracted the notice of the elephant who charged straight for the pathway.

W. F. ran for his life down the path, but his pursuer was gaining on him fast, when he tripped over the root of a tree and fell, rolling behind the tree. The elephant was going too fast to stop and thundered past down the hill. W. F. got up as soon as he got his wind and made down the hill to the village, where he picked up the native and retrieved his second gun.

Two days later he was told the elephant was dead, so went out to collect the tusks, but found the natives had carried them off, so all he got out of the adventure was a tooth and a determination to let the natives kill their own elephants in future.

The above story, of course, describes events that occurred in another era when some of the attitudes and values were different from today, but it is still part of the family story.