Saturday, 2 June 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 22 - So far away

Distance is a feature of my family history. Ancestors from all branches of my family tree came from England, Scotland and Ireland. As they had all arrived in Australia by the early 1870s they had to endure a long ship journey to travel to the other side of the world from their home.

Today we complain of the long time taken to travel from Melbourne to London by plane which takes approximately one day. This is nothing compared to the time taken by my ancestors to travel the same distance.

At the beginning of the convict period in Australia, my twelve convicts left England and Ireland to travel to Australia, never to return home. The length of time they spent aboard the convict ships varied. The ships of the First Fleet spent approximately 252 days sailing to Australia. However the longest voyage was that of the Lady Juliana which took 309 days. My convicts arrived in Australia by 1808 and the length of time of the later voyages for this group generally took 150 to 180 days - a long time to be in cramped conditions on a convict ship.
SS Somersetshire
The free settlers on my family tree travelled the same distance but the time taken for the trip was reduced, especially when steam ships were introduced. In 1869 George Hutton travelled to Australia on the steam ship Somersetshire, a trip lasting 58 days. I wrote an account of this voyage as part of the Family Saga unit for University of Tasmania Family History course.

For most members of the family, coming to Australia was a one way voyage. However members of one branch of the family, the Huttons and the Mackillops, made many sea voyages, not only between England and Australia but between England and India.

William Forbes Hutton was in the British army in India and he and his wife, Eleonora Mackillop, made many trips between England and India. This is shown by  the places of birth of their children. George was born in Bath, England, in 1850 but Jean Elizabeth was born in Bangalore, India, the following year.  Eleonora Mary was born in Bath  in 1854, then the next two were born in India - Alice Katherine was born in Secunderbad in 1856 and  Arthur William  was born in Ootacumund in 1857. The remaining six children were born in England. 

It was normal for children born in India of British parents to be taken to England to be cared for by a family member. This happened with the Hutton family who were cared for by Eleonora's parents in Bath. I have a copy of a letter written by Jean Mackillop to her daughter, Eleonora, providing information about three children in her care.

In 1871 William Forbes Hutton arrived in Melbourne to decide where his family might settle in Australia. He chose land at Lilydale and the family home, Cooring Yering, was built on the property. In 1873 he went back to England returning with two family members in 1874. Eleonora travelled to Australia with the rest of the family later that year. Eleonora had previously travelled from England to Tasmania then back to England with her family when she was a child.

For some families, it would therefore appear that the huge distance between countries was not a deterrent.

NB: In 2015, in another 52 Ancestors challenge, I wrote another post on the topic - So far away.

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