Friday, 23 November 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 47 - Thankful

Once upon a time those researching information about their family history did not have access to the many resources now available to researchers via the Internet. Much of the information required was available on microfilm or microfiche and, of course, in books. It therefore could take a great deal of time to locate even relatively basic information.

Sarah Guest was born on Norfolk Island on 1 May 1792. On 12 September 1808 she married Thomas William Birch at St David's Church in Hobart. Sarah and Thomas had seven children and then Thomas died 1 December 1821. I was unable to locate any information about Sarah's death. It was a mystery. I did realise that she may have remarried, especially as Sarah was 29 when Thomas died, but I did not have the time to travel into the city to spend hours investigating microform records for possible information about Sarah.

Some years later, when working in a library, I came across a series of books with the title - Genealogical Research Directory. These volumes, published annually, contained the names of people being researched with the name of the researcher. You could therefore look up the name of someone on your family tree to see if they appeared in the book and, if so, who was researching that person.
Among the many names I discovered the name of Sarah Birch. I contacted the researcher and discovered that Sarah was also her great (x3) grandmother but she was was not related to Thomas. Her great (x3) grandfather was Edmund Irton Hodgson. We exchanged the family tree information that we each had for Sarah and I could now complete Sarah's life story. On 29 November 1823 Sarah had married Edmund Hodgson and she and Edmund had six children. Sarah died in Hobart on 31 March 1868 aged 75.

Needless to say, over the years I have been able to add the flesh to Sarah's story, especially via newspaper articles in Trove and other sources. However I am very thankful that many years ago the Genealogical Research Directory existed to assist family history researchers connect with others researching the same family member.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 46 - Random Fact

One of my bearded ancestors in the last #52Ancestors post, Alfred Percy Lord, joined the local bowling club when he retired to Manly.

In November 1905 Alfred was chosen to play in a private New South Wales team against South Australia in Adelaide. This team also played matches against Victoria. The Adelaide Advertister and newspapers from New South Wales and Melbourne reported the activities of this touring team.
Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser 8 Nov 1905
Alfred was not the only family member in this team - Harry Moses, the son of my great grandfather's brother, was also a member. Harry was well known in New South Wales as a cricketer and, as well as being a member of the New South Wales team, he played six games for Australia against England. Reports show that he was also a good lawn bowler and, after the tournaments against Victoria and South Australia in the Sydney team, he was selected in the official New South Wales team for another tournament.

Lawn bowls had been played in the colony from at least 1845 when advertisements appeared in newspapers advising of games in various locations. A number of hotels, including several Woolpack Inns, established bowling rinks. The first recognised bowls club in New South Wales was the Parramatta (Woolpack) Club which was established in 1869. Other clubs followed.

In May 1880 it was decided to form a bowling association and the first clubs to join were Parramatta, Annandale and Sydney (City). Other, but not all, clubs joined the New South Wales Bowling Association. The Victorian Bowling Association, with ten clubs, was also formed in 1880.

Inter-colonial matches between New South Wales and Victoria were quickly established. As other states also formed bowling associations inter-colonial matches between these states were also held. The first visit of a New South Wales side to New Zealand occurred in January 1900. In 1900 there were plans to establish the Australasian Bowling Association and in the following year the first accredited team of Australasian bowlers toured in the United Kingdom.

Newspaper reports discovered via Trove describe how the Sydney team travelled to Melbourne and then to Adelaide by train for the competitions. They played a number of matches in each city. Each match appears to have been played on five rinks with teams of four players on each side.
Evening Journal (Adelaide) 24 Nov 1905
The visiting players were well entertained during their visit to Melbourne and Adelaide as can be seen in the following newspaper report:
Critic (Adelaide) 22 Nov 1905
Generally a good time appears to have been had by all.

Alfred and Harry are from different branches of my family tree but they obviously knew each other through the game of lawn bowls.


Further reading:
History of Bowls in Australia

New South Wales Bowls to 1900

Centenary: the history of the Royal New South Wales Bowling Association 1880-1980.

Friday, 9 November 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 45 - Bearded

When I undertook the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project in 2014 a number of the men featured in that series had prominent facial hair. Sometimes sporting beards, sometimes moustaches, portraits of these ancestors appear in this post.

I do not have images of all my ancestors, of course, however there are photos of four of my 2nd great-grandfathers.

Simeon Lord (junior) 1810-1892 would probably win the prize for the hairiest of my more recent ancestors. In this portrait he is shown with a splendid beard and moustache blending with his thick longish hair.
Simeon Lord 1810-1892
Simeon Lord was born in Sydney but moved to Tasmania in 1826, no doubt to look after his father's business interests. In 1831 he married Sarah Birch and they established the property Bona Vista at Avoca. In the 1870s Simeon and Sarah moved to Queensland where he had interests in a number of properties though he and his wife mainly lived in Brisbane.

Another gentleman with extensive facial hair was William Forbes Hutton (1816-1896). In the portrait below he has a rounded bushy beard, a moustache and thick sideburns.
William Forbes Hutton (1816-1896)

Colonel William Forbes Hutton was born in England but spent much of his life in the British Army in India. In 1871 he decided to settle in Australia and eventually purchased a property and built a large home for his family at Lilydale in Victoria.

John William Hillcoat (1828-1907, in the photo below, although he does not appear to have much hair on the top of his head has a thick rounded beard, prominent moustache and sideburns.
John William Hillcoat (1828-1907)
John William Hillcoat was born in Bath, England. He remained in England until November 1851 when, with his wife, he travelled to South Australia. John appears to have had a number of careers. In England his occupation was listed as Fundholder in the 1851 census. In South Australia he leased a property but was not successful at farming and was declared insolvent. The family returned to England and then some years later reappeared in Australia - this time in New South Wales where he owned a music store. He then tried his luck mining at Gympie in Queensland and must have made some money as he eventually purchased a property and raised cattle.

William Clifton Weston (1833-1889), in this photo which was later coloured, does not have a beard but he certainly has an impressive moustache and sideburns.
William Clifton Wilson (1833-1889)
William Clifton Weston was born in New South Wales. He was initially a surgeon and coroner at Sofala, a gold mining town. He also held a number of other public offices, including Clerk of Petty Sessions at Coonamble, and finally moved to Parkes where he was Coroner.

There are also photographs of two of my great grandfathers who had impressive moustaches.

Alfred Percy Lord (1852-1927) is the distinguished looking gentleman with the moustache in the photo below.
Alfred Percy Lord (1852-1927)
 Alfred Percy Lord was born at Avoca, Tasmania, and was the youngest son of Simeon Lord junior. In 1869 he headed to Queensland where he worked on family properties. With two of his brothers he became involved in a number of mining ventures. They also purchased a cattle property but he had to look for other employment due to a series of droughts in the 1870s. He found work in a bank and eventually became manager of the Gympie branch of Australian Joint Stock Bank. The 1890s depression saw him back on the land and he had a number of properties before eventually purchasing the sheep station, Victoria Downs, in south west Queensland. He also purchased a number of other properties for his sons. He spent the last years of his life in Manly.

James Campbell Thom (1863-1929) has a most impressive moustache in the photo below.
James Campbell Thom (1863-1929)
James Campbell Thom was born in Dunoon in Scotland and travelled to Australia with his family in 1877. He became a lawyer and in 1893 became the first Solicitor for Railways in New South Wales. He tried his hand at journalism for a time but eventually was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court. As the uniform in the above photo suggests James was also involved in the NSW military forces where he eventually became a Major. I also have a later photograph of James showing him clean shaven.

As can be seen from the above photos, the nineteenth century and early twentieth century certainly provided some men the opportunity to experiment with facial hair with a variety of styles are on show.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 44 - Frightening

This prompt is meant to tie in with Halloween including family ghost stories. However there are many occasions when life could be frightening, perhaps even more frightening than ghosts, for the settlers trying to make a living in the Hawkesbury area of NSW during colonial times.

We all know that Australia is a land where you can expect droughts, floods and / or bushfires somewhere in the country each year however this would have been unsettling for newcomers in New South Wales at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The land in which they were attempting to make a new home was definitely foreign and could be considered threatening compared to the natural environment of their former homeland.

Many former convicts had moved to the Hawkesbury area to establish small farms and associated businesses in the settlements that were gradually established. However in order to create land suitable for farming the land needed to be cleared and accommodation of some sort constructed from available materials for landholders and their families. They were surrounded by thick, alien bush. Large cliffs and mountains formed a barrier to the west. Then there was the river which meandered through the landscape, often a source of transport as well as a food source providing fish. However the river could turn into a destroyer during heavy rains forcing torrents of water downstream, covering the land and destroying all in its path.

Such a flood occurred in the Hawkesbury area in 1806. The river flooded the surrounding land frequently - there had been substantial floods in 1796, 1799, 1801 and 1806 and this pattern continued over the years. With five years between 1801 and 1806 some of the residents would not have experienced the effects of major flooding and in many cases were devastated when they watched much of their livelihood float away. Five people died due to the floods.Crops that had recently been harvested disappeared down river. Buildings were wrecked and livestock drowned.

The chapter, 'Seeding and Breeding', in Grace Karskens' book, The Colony: the history of early Sydney, provides a useful account of life in the early Hawkesbury River settlement including the effects of the floods with the rivers suddenly rising fifteen metres or on one occasion 19 metres. In 1806 the valley flooded three times. These floods were not only catastrophic for those living near the Hawkesbury River but also for those in Sydney relying on the crops grown in this region.

A search in Trove for newspaper articles about Hawkesbury flood published in 1806 provides 33 articles. A search generally for Hawkesbury flood 1806 provides many more articles looking back at the devastation of the floods in 1806.

Novels can also convey the experiences and feelings of people living in settlements along the Hawkesbury River in the early nineteenth century. In 2005 Kate Grenville published her novel, The Secret River, detailing the story of William Thornhill as he attempted to make a new life in the colony. (Reading and other pursuits blog).  This year historian Peter Cochrane has published a novel - The Making of Martin Sparrow - where the 1806 flood is the background for all that follows. (Reading and other pursuits blog). Cochrane graphically describes the devastation of the flood on the small community situated along the river.
Recent armyworm invasion in Tasmania - ABC 11 Dec 2017
Of course the European settlers on the Hawkesbury in Colonial times also experienced other challenges to their survival apart from floods. Karskens describes concerns faced when rains required for the crops did not come on time, when the wheat crop was affected by blight (a plant disease often caused by a fungus) or when there were plagues of insects  such as flymoth or armyworms (caterpillar plagues). Problems could also exist between 'types' of settlers - free men, convicts, former convicts, officers who often did not get along. Settlements were also on Aboriginal land which could result in conflict. Bushrangers also roamed the area.

Consequently there would have certainly been times when our ancestors living in the Hawkesbury region of New South Wales may have found life frightening.

Hawkesbury River Floods - Hawkesbury Heritage and Happenings

The Hawkesbury River Floods of 1801, 1806 and 1809 by JCH Gill Royal Historical Society of Queensland vol. 8 no. 4 (1969) pp706-736.

Hawkesbury March 27, Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 30 March 1806 pp2-3

Peter Cochrane novel The Making of Martin Sparrow set in the Hawkesbury - Hawkesbury Gazette 13 July 2018

Kate Grenville, The Secret River, Text Publishing, 2001

Peter Cochrane, The Making of Martin Sparrow, Viking, 2018

Grace Karskens, The Colony: the history of early Sydney, Sydney, Allen & Unwin 2009 pp 98-157.