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


  1. You might find this documentary interesting about different English dialects at the time of World War 1 Regards Anne

  2. And the link sorry


  3. Anne, Thank you for this link. Vicki