Monday, 14 January 2019

#52Ancestors - Week 33 - Family Legend

 It all started with Robert the Bruce.
Robert the Bruce at Edinburgh Castle (2014)
Among correspondence belonging to my grandmother we found a letter written in the 1960s from a cousin who believed that my grandmother's family could be traced back to Robert the Bruce. It was suggested that there were also links to James II of Scotland, Edward III of England and maybe even Alfred the Great. He had hired a researcher to investigate this for him and would let her know the result. (This, of course, was pre-internet.) Unfortunately we did not locate any outcome of this research in the correspondence.

In January 2012 I must have had some spare time and decided to check the truth, or otherwise, of this family legend. I wrote about this exercise in a previous blog post.

The research was done in stages with the initial research investigating the Scottish connections. I was aware of part of the Hutton family tree as my father had copied the information from records held by my grandmother. The Hutton family was connected to the Lidderdale family when Eleanora Lidderdale married Thomas Hutton in 1771. Eleanora's grandfather, David Lidderdale had married Eleanora Dunbar in 1708. It was the Dunbars who had the direct links to the Scottish royalty when John Dunbar (1330-1391) married Marjorie Stewart (1344-1417) in 1370. Marjorie Stewart was the daughter of Robert II of Scotland and therefore great granddaughter of Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce).

The initial investigation was carried out following online family trees. Three years later I had time to check the search results including verifying the family connections in

Because of all the intermarriage between royal families the lists confirmed  that there were links to the Plantagenets including Edward III and therefore to William the Conqueror. Once I stopped laughing I was able to locate direct links from William's wife, Matilda, to Alfred the Great and his forebears. There was a link to James I of Scotland, but not James II.

The searching did not stop in England but also in Normandy to Viking connections. Through Geoffrey Plantagenet, husband of Empress Matilda (daughter of Henry I), there are links to French royalty. Other Plantagenets also married French wives creating more interesting connections. Alfred the Great's daughter, Aelfthryth, married Baldwin II of Flanders and his line can be traced back to Charlemagne, Pepin III and several lines back into the 500s.

Needless to say when I was following these family lines there were times I laughed out loud. On paper it is all impressive but there are thousands and thousands of people who can make the same discoveries. However it does add another dimension to travelling in the UK and France as ancestors appear in unexpected places.
Statue of King John - Kings Lynn (2018)

On our last trip to the UK I found many mentions of King John in Kings Lynn in Norfolk including a statue just off the main shopping strip. So we said, 'Hello' to my great (x24) grandfather. In 1216, King John travelled through Bishops Lynn (now Kings Lynn) and in the nearby Wash his baggage carts became bogged in quicksand and many of the the family treasures in the baggage carts disappeared forever. King John died at Newark Castle several months later.

When we visited St George's Chapel in Windsor I found a stone plaque on the chapel wall providing the history of the chapel. At the top it was stated that Edward III (my great (x 20) grandfather) founded the College of St George in 1348. I was laughing about this with my husband when an attendant asked why I was so interested in the plaque. I explained the possible family connection emphasising that I was one of many others with the same connection. She laughed and said I should enjoy it.
Arundel Tomb - Chichester Cathedral (2018)

We were exploring Chichester Cathedral and when we passed the Arundel tomb I stopped as I was sure that there was a family connection. Checking records later I had been standing next to the tomb of my great (x20) grandparents - Richard FitzAlan (1307-1376) and Eleanor Plantagenet (1311-1372).

This is just a side-line to my family history research as my main area of interest is locating as much information as possible about family members in Australia. However, finding these links does help create a greater interest in UK history (especially prior to the Tudors) and also history relating to family links in France etc. It just goes to show that family history research can lead to unexpected discoveries.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

#52Ancestors - Week 32 - Youngest

It is interesting to look at the age of my convict ancestors when they committed the crimes resulting in their transportation to Australia.

Mary Bateman - 15
Mary Hyde - 16
Charles Daley - 17
George Guest - 18
Kezia Brown - 18
Uriah Moses - 18
Simeon Lord - 19
Richard Holland - 23
Jane Williams - 25
Susannah Alderson - 27
John Pendergast - 29
William Roberts - 30

Seven of my convicts were what we would now refer to as teenagers when they were arrested, the youngest being Mary Bateman aged 15.

I have written a number of posts in this blog about Mary Bateman and her husband George Guest including using Mary's Story as the major assignment in the Convict Ancestors unit for the Diploma of Family History (Univ. Tas). The year that I did the unit the assignment was presented in a web database allowing you to create the main story with links to side stories. I later added these sections to my blog. I also wrote a more detailed account of Mary's Voyage to Australia  and Arrival at Cascade Bay for other assignments. There are also posts in the blog about Newgate Prison and The Old Bailey where Mary was imprisoned and tried.
Ship, Lady Juliana, which brought Mary to NSW
Looking at Mary's story raises questions about life in London in the 1780s. Why was a fifteen year old girl working as a prostitute? In reality she may have been younger when she began working in this field. Some information is available about Employment Opportunities for Women in the 1780s. Taxation laws at the time discouraged employers from employing girls above the age of 15. This may have left Mary with no other employment options than working the streets. We will never know.

Of course Mary was not arrested and tried for being a prostitute but for stealing the watch of a client.

The many posts in the blog written about Mary's husband, George Guest, also provide insight into Mary's life in Australia, especially on Norfolk Island. Mary eventually died in the Liverpool Lunatic Asylum in 1829 aged 56. After leaving Norfolk Island in 1805 the family settled in Tasmania but frequent trips were made between Hobart Town and Sydney. Mary appears to have lived in Sydney for many years while her family lived and worked near Hobart.

My youngest convict faced many dramas in her life. I only hope that that there were also calm times, maybe on Norfolk Island, for her.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

52#Ancestors - Week 31 - Oldest

Many years ago (in the early 1960s) my father spent many hours on the verandah of the farmhouse on my grandparents' property transcribing documents that belonged to my grandmother relating to family history. Dad's handwriting was well known for not being easy to read however the transcriptions that he made have been an invaluable resource when researching stories about my grandmother's family.
Click to enlarge
The main document that Dad transcribed was a series of notes written by my great grandfather, George Hutton, describing his first years in Australia in the early 1870s. Many years later my aunt sent me a copy of George's original notebook as she knew that I was interested in recording the family history.

Dad also transcribed a letter written in 1855 by Jean Mackillop in Bath to her daughter, Eleonora Hutton, who was living in India. A copy of this letter is in one of the posts in this blog. This letter provides fascinating information on life in Bath for a well-to-do- family during the 1850s.

The Mackillops and the Huttons had a long association with India as merchants, in the army as well as in the East India Company. There is an account of the death of John Mackillop at Cawnpore in 1857 as well as notes about Thomas Bruce Hutton who was also in the Indian army at this time.

There are a number of family stories as remembered by George Hutton including his father's encounter with an elephant in India plus his mother's adventure, also in India, when riding a horse and encountering a wild buffalo.  George also provided an account of the adventures of his grandfather, George Mackillop, when exploring part of Victoria. There is also an account of a near disaster when George's mother and sister, Margaret, travelled by boat from Victoria to Tasmania in the 1870s.

Part of the family tree of the Huttons going back to 1670 and a list of baptisms for the children of William Forbes Hutton is included in Dad's notes plus a description of the Hutton Coat of Arms.

As well as  providing valuable information, the insight into the lives of family members provided in the documents that Dad copied has helped me better understand this branch of the family. Needless to say I am very greatful to my father for spending the time to copy these documents.

Monday, 7 January 2019

#52Ancestors - Week 30 - Colourful

When you visit another country you often have a preconceived idea of the colours in the natural environment you will encounter. This is particularly the case today with instant news and documentaries on television. However during the first years of the colony the convicts and their guards would have been amazed at the different style, variety and colour of the vegetation they encountered.

The bush near the coast would have been scraggly with trees they had never seen before. So many different varieties of eucalypts - some with long narrow leaves, others round - and not the bright or dark green of English foliage. The variety of bark to be found on the trees plus the different types of colours of flowers and shapes of seed pods would have also been a new experience. They would also encounter multiple varieties of wattle with their mass of yellow flowers in late winter and early spring along with the large flowers of the red waratahs and the banksias with their yellow or orange flowers before revealing dramatic seedheads. Instead of green fields there was grass which died off or turned yellow during the hot summer.

Arriving in summer there would have been days of blue sky and sunshine accompanied with a sub-tropical storm from time to time. The first settlement was on the coast so they would also experience the changing moods of the sea. For those who had come from towns and cities this would be a new experience, once they had recovered from their long sea voyage.

As time went on and the settlers began to explore inland they would encounter large areas of saltbush and further inland the desert. I love the rich colour of the desert, especially contrasted against a bright blue sky but this would have been a shock to many hoping to settle and farm this land. Those who explored north on the east coast would encounter the rain forests - another environment again.

Colour of the landscape would have been just one of the sensory challenges. There would also be different different smells / scents of the vegetation, not to mention the strange widlife encountered.

Over time the Europeans brought many of the trees and plants from their countries to grow in Australia and we now have a mixture of vegetation and colour in our gardens. The initial impact of a new palette of colour created by vegetation and climate would have had an impact on the first European settlers in Australia.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

#52Ancestors - Week 29 - Music

Trove has digitised newspapers from the Hawkesbury area and reading articles relating to my father's family I discovered a strong connection with music in one branch of that side of the family tree. This is therefore a summary post to some of the information discovered at the time with links to posts about music already in this blog.

William Moses (1844- 1923) was a son of Windsor baker, Uriah Moses (1780-1847), and Ann Daley (1809-1880). After their father's death the Moses brothers, with their mother, continued to run the bakery and general store until William eventually took over what was then known as the Hawkesbury Stores. William was involved in local activities including serving on the local council and being a member and sometimes president of the Windsor School of Arts.

William was also head of a musical family. Articles in Trove show that, particularly in the late 1800s, it was common for community concerts to be held at the church hall or school, often to raise money for a specific project. When looking at the programs detailed in the articles, the Moses family was always involved:

The concert arranged by Mr. W. Moses attracted a large and fashionable audience to the Church of England Schoolroom on Wednesday evening last, and the general verdict, at the close of the entertainment, was that nothing could have been more enjoyable. The instrumental music was of the highest order of merit, and the excellent manner in which each item was rendered demonstrated the fact patent to all-that the most careful study must have been indulged in by Mr. Moses and his talented family to attain such a remarkable state of proficiency. Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 23 February 1889 page 4).
William and his wife Elvina had twelve children and most appeared to play a musical instrument, often violin, flute or piano. However it was Stanley Moses (1878-1902) who attracted the most attention with his ability in playing the violin.

On 13 October 1888 Stanley (aged 10) played the 'Stephanie' gavotte with three other children in a children's program at University Hall in Sydney. He later played a duet. His sister, Josephine, also participated in the concert.
Conservatoire de musique, Brussels

Five years later Stanley was in Brussels where he had won a place to study at the Conservatoire of Brussels. Regular reports followed of performances given by Stanley at concerts in Europe. By 1900 he was playing First Violin with the Cologne Orchestra at the Paris Exhibition. It looked as it a brilliant career was available to Stanley until his unexpected death at Nice, France on 19 February 1902. Stanley was only twenty-three.
Stanley Moses 1893-1896
Stanley Moses  1897
Stanley Moses 1898-1902

Another discovery made when researching this branch of the Moses family was that William's eldest son, William Mountford Moses (1875-1940), married the Australian opera singer, Elsie Mary Fischer, known by her professional name Elsa Stralia.
Elsa Stralia Sunday Times 30/1/1927
Elsie and William travelled to Europe in 1910 where she Elsie studied in Milan and London. She made her debut at Covent Garden in 1913. After the War Elsa travelled and performed in many countries of the world including Europe, the USA and Australia. The marriage between William and Elsie was not a success and they divorced in 1934. William had returned to Australia some years previously.
Elsa Stralia - Australian Dictionary of Biography