Monday, 24 June 2019

The Bruce Supremacy

SBS is currently showing the three part series, The Rise of the Clans, narrated by Neil Oliver. The first program, sub-titled The Bruce Supremacy and aired Sunday 16 June, told the story of the role of Scottish clans in helping Robert I (Robert the Bruce) become King of Scotland.
Scene from The Bruce Supremacy
When Alexander II of Scotland died in 1286 six Guardians were appointed to rule Scotland. The membership and number of Guardians changed frequently until November 1292 when John Balliol was crowned King of Scotland and duly paid homage to the English King. However Edward I invaded Scotland again in April 1296 defeating the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar.  John Balliol was exiled later that year. New Guardians were appointed at different times including William Wallace in February 1298. He resigned in September of that year with  Robert the Bruce and John (Red) Comyn becoming joint Guardians.

On 10 February 1306 Robert the Bruce arranged to meet John Comyn at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. Robert the Bruce was accompanied by his brother, Edward, and leader of the Clan Campbell, Neil Campbell. Bruce informed Comyn that the Kirk had withdrawn support for Balliol (Comyn's cousin) and therefore Bruce should be King. Although the men had left their swords at the door of the Kirk, when an argument broke out Comyn was stabbed with a knife and murdered. There is some discussion as to what really happened but one account was that Comyn was killed by Bruce though the murder was probably not planned. Not surprisingly, this event started a feud between clans in Scotland.

Robert the Bruce with his supporters headed to Scone where he was hurriedly crowned King of Scotland on 26 March by Isobel of Buchan.

Edward I, also known as Hammer of the Scots, immediately moved his troops north and at a battle near Perth the Scots were defeated by Edward's army. Robert the Bruce and his small remaining band of supporters retreated to the west of Scotland to regroup and plan what to do next.

Initially Robert the Bruce and his supporters headed south towards the west coast but had to travel through MacDougall territory. The Clan MacDougall supported the Clan Comyn and did not get along with the Clan Campbell whose land bordered their land. Battle ensued with many men killed. Bruce now had only about 200 men supporting his cause.

Back on Clan Campbell land the party made it to the coast where Neil Campbell was able to organise boats to take the men to the island of Islay, home of the Clan MacDonald who agreed to support Bruce. In October Bruce's party once again took to the sea where they found refuge in the Hebrides and gained the support of Christina of the Isles, a member of Clan Ruaidhri. She allowed them to stay over the winter months until they were ready to resume the battle.
Google Maps
The Clan Bruce occupied part of the Lowlands of Scotland including the area around Annandale, south of Glasgow. One of the family titles was Lord of Annandale. The land of the Bruce Clan was therefore in the south west of Scotland.

The Clan Campbell  had lands on the peninsula on the south west of Scotland as well as land north of the peninsula.

The Clan MacDonald occupied the Isle of Islay as well as on other Western islands.

 The Clan Ruaidhri resided in the Hebrides.

The Clan MacDougall had land near the Campell territory.

The Clan Comyn had land in the north of Scotland.

1307 - 1308
In the Spring of 1307 Robert the Bruce and his men returned to the south west of Scotland. Bruce knew that his men would be outnumbered in open warfare against the English so the plan was to now use Clan Warfare (small scale guerrilla warfare) to achieve their aims. The campaign began in April and May of 1307 and immediately met with success. As well as the element of surprise Bruce's men were able to use their knowledge of the land to achieve success. As time went by Bruce's support and popularity increased and more clans pledged their support. 'God is on his side' and 'Merlin is on his side' were comments repeated by the Scots.

Edward I decided to travel north to Scotland with additional English forces but died, en route, on 7 July 1307. For a time the English tried to keep his death a secret from the Scots. He was succeeded by his son, Edward II.

As well as fighting the English, Robert the Bruce, with the support of the Campbells and the MacDonalds, also made attacks on his old foes - the Clan Comyn and the Clan MacDougall. The climax came in the summer of 1308 at the Battle of the Pass of Bander. After this battle Bruce was declared 'Master of the Highlands'.

The Lowlands
Fighting in the Lowlands was more difficult as the English had access to many castles. The Scots had no access to siege artillery so Bruce's men continued the campaign of only attacking small groups of soldiers. The castles themselves were attacked only when the Scots knew that they were vulnerable. However, over time, the Scots had captured most of the castles in the Lowlands.

The support for Robert the Bruce had greatly increased but he knew that before he would be completely accepted as King of Scotland he needed to win an open battle against the English.

By 1314 Stirling Castle was the only castle still held by the English. Bruce made an agreement with the garrison that if the English did not bring troops to support the castle by a certain date, then they would surrender the castle.

Edward II moved his troops north - 15,000 foot soldiers plus 2,500 cavalry. Bruce currently had 6,000 foot soldiers. Still the leaders of the Scots knew the terrain. The Scottish forces had been trained to form a schiltron where they stood in a group with their spears pointing outwards in all directions. The group moved together towards the enemy when fighting. This made them a formidable group.

Battle of Bannockburn
The climax came on 23 June 1314 outside Stirling Castle and completed the next day near the river. This encounter is known as the Battle of Bannockburn.

When the English first saw the Scottish soldiers lined up they just saw lines of men with spears. However as they advanced the Scots moved into their schilitron formations. The advancing English cavalry was also unaware that the Scots had dug a trench across their path. Pointed sticks had been placed pointing upwards in the pit which had been camouflaged. The Scots won the first encounter.

The English moved to a campsite near the Bannockburn river. Robert the Bruce received a report that the confidence of the English soldiers was low and the decision was made to attack the English camp early in the morning, taking the English by surprise. As the wall of spears approached the English army emerging from sleep, the English soldiers retreated to the river where many were slaughtered or drowned.

After this victory Robert the Bruce was accepted as the legitimate King of Scotland - Robert I - by his subjects. The Scots received large ransoms for the captured English nobles and much of this money was used to provide land and gifts to the clan leaders who had supported Bruce. Robert the Bruce also negotiated the return of his wife, daughter and sister who had been captives of the English in England.

Other posts in this blog on the Battle of Bannockburn
Battle of Bannockburn

A number of my family members featured in the story portrayed in the program, The Bruce Supremacy:
Robert I of Scotland (1274-1329) was my 21st great grandfather
Edward I of England (1239-1307) was my 22nd great grandfather
Edward II of England (1284 -1327) was my 21st great grandfather

Friday, 21 June 2019

The Ancestor Plates

With  the Winter Solstice upon us indicating that we are almost half way through 2019 it may be time to look at the Resolution blog post written as part of the #52Ancestor challenge 2018 at the end of last year in order to check the progress so far.

This was prompted by a conversation that I had with my seven year old grandson about our Ancestor Plates. He and his sister were having dinner with us so instead of the Peppa Pig and George Pig plates usually used we decided that they could have 'big' plates. Hence their introduction to the Ancestor Plates.

In 1988 the primary school had a fundraiser selling melamine plates based on designs prepared by family members. As it was the Bicentenary and the Bicentenary logo was to be on each item I decided to order a plate decorated with information about family convicts. The names, ships and dates of arrival in Australia were provided for each of nine convicts. This resulted in Ancestor Plate no. 1.

However I later discovered another three convicts in the family so when a similar fundraiser was held a few years later I arranged for Ancestor Plate no. 2, this time with the names, ships and dates for twelve convicts to be made.

Aiden was most impressed with his Ancestor Plate and wanted to know about the names on the plate. I explained that they were convicts, the first members of our family to come to Australia more than 200 years ago. My husband asked Aiden if he knew what a convict was so we then explained that a convict was a prisoner. Aiden's immediate question was had they been in gaol. What followed was a conversation about why these people had been in gaol, why they had left England and Ireland to come to Australia and how long did it take for the ships to make the journey. Obviously the time has arrived to make some of the family history available to the grandchildren.

Resolution number 3 in my December blog post was to collect all the stories in my blog relating to specific families to start compiling histories of those families. Obviously the time has come to start this.

Resolution number 1 was to complete the eight posts for the #52Ancestors challenge 2018 which I did not do last year when we were away on veterans cricket tours. I have now completed these posts so one tick.

Resolution number 2 was to organise my family history research collection more effectively. This has now been started. A few months ago I ordered ten polypropylene boxes from Archival Survival and have just finished assembling them. (partial tick) Now I can put papers and other items relating to specific families in one box making it easier to locate information. When working on a box I will put some of the material into polypropylene enclosures. [Looking after special items in collections]

My other resolutions to locate additional information, including background information, on projects such as family living in the Hawkesbury region of NSW, family in India during the Raj, and answer remaining questions about George Guest's land in Hobart will no doubt be investigated as I piece together the various family stories.

Consquently some progress has been made in carrying out the research resolutions for 2019 - however there is still much to be done.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

#52 Ancestors - Week 36 - Work

My final post in the #52Ancestors for 2018 having now completed the prompts that I didn't do in the middle of last year when were overseas. The prompt is Work which provides the opportunity look at the types of occupations undertaken by family members in Australia over the centuries.

In the nineteenth century many of my Australian ancestors owned property of varying sizes and made their living from farming. Eight of the convicts in my family tree settled in the Hawkesbury area, usually around Windsor, where most of them farmed land growing crops such as wheat, maize, barley and potatoes - all crops needed to feed settlers in the colony. They also farmed animals including cattle, pigs and / or sheep. Initially land holdings might be ten or 15 acres but, over time, additional land was often purchased so Charles Daley, for example, originally had a holding of 15 acres in 1806 increased to 26 acres by 1822. Other former convicts with land in this area included William Roberts and John Pendergast.

Maintaining these properties would have been a family affair with the women assisting as required as well as looking after large families of children.

Although Uriah Moses owned some land on which grain was grown, he primarily worked at his bakery and later general store in Windsor, owned properties in the town itself, and dabbled in real estate and money lending. Richard Holland also diversified his occupations by owning and farming land but also being involved with a bakery and butcher's shop in Windsor.

One of the convicts, Simeon Lord, although he owned large holdings of land in New South Wales,  lived in Sydney where he worked as a merchant, owned sealing and whaling ventures and was a magistrate. He also established woollen mills at Botany which became a major family business. His wife, Mary looked after their large family but was also aware of the operation of the business interests as she took over when Simeon died.

Two of the convicts settled on Norfolk Island where George Guest ended up owning landholdings on which he grazed sheep. When the first settlement faced closure, George and his family settled in Hobart where he received land to replace his holdings on Norfolk Island and brought the first sheep to Van Diemen's Land. George could not read or write however he managed a number of businesses including owning the Seven Star Inn in Hobart.

Another entrepreneur in the family was Thomas Birch who travelled to Hobart as a ship's doctor and decided to stay. He became a merchant and was involved in whaling and sealing as well as ship building and owned large quantities of land in Hobart. He also sponsored an expedition to explore the coast of Tasmania in 1815.

Another family merchant arrived in Hobart in the early 1830s. George Mackillop was a Scottish merchant with the East India Company and also ran a number of other businesses back home in Scotland. George decided to try his luck in the new colony and as well as conducting his merchant business in Hobart he became interested in potential of the land that was to become Victoria. He led a small expeditionary party from New South Wales into northern Victoria in 1835 and when it was decided to settle parts of Victoria he acquired pastoral land and also purchased land in Melbourne. By the early 1840s George had returned to Edinburgh before relocating to Bath.

Other family connections with India included family members serving in the British army in India including William Forbes Hutton while one of George Mackillop's sons, John, worked for the East India Company. After leaving the army William Forbes Hutton purchasd a property at Lilydale, Victoria.

Three of the occupants of my family tree had trained as surgeons, Thomas Birch, William Clifton Weston and William Forbes Hutton. Thomas Birch was occasionally called on to assist medically in Hobart but he preferred concentrating on enlarging his fortune as a merchant and landholder. William Forbes Hutton decided that he was not interested in doctoring so served in the army as a soldier, rather than as an army doctor as originally planned.  William Clifton Weston trained as a surgeon and worked as a Coroner in different regions of New South Wales.

Other family members also had government appointments.George Moses worked for the New South Wales Railways while James Campbell Thom was a solicitor as well as being an officer in the New South Wales Railways Army Corps. George Hutton owned a sheep station near Parkes but had to sell it during the Federation Drought. He then became a rabbit inspector in the Parkes region. When George Hutton lost his property his wife, Annie, returned to Sydney where she ran a boarding house.

John Hillcoat tried farming in South Australia when he first arrived in Australia in 1852 but the venture proved unsuccessful so the family returned to England. Returning to New South Wales in 1859, he opened a music store in West Maitland while his wife, Catherine, ran a school for girls. In 1868 John became manager of a mining company in Queensland earning enough money to purchase two properties and try farming again.

Charles Septimus Smith and his father John Smith both worked as warehousemen in England. Charles initially sold sewing machines when he came to New South Wales but is also listed in records as a warehouseman.

In general, many of the second (and subsequent) generation family members inherited, or purchased, large properties, usually grazing sheep or cattle. Arthur Lord owned and managed sheep stations in western Queensland before moving closer to the coast where he farmed crops before purchasing a dairy farm.

In the twentieth century family occupations diversified with family members often living in Sydney or Melbourne. My grandfather, RJH Moses, and my father, Ken Moses,  were both journalists. My grandmother, Agnes Campbell Thom, and I became librarians. My other grandmother, Nancy Lord, would have liked to have been an artist but gave up painting when she married. My great aunt, Eleanora Hutton, worked in a government department in England during the First World War and in an office in Sydney during the 1940s. My mother worked as a receptionist for the music shop, Boosey and Hawkes when she left school.

My husband was an electrical engineer and consequently saw many changes over the years at PMG / Telecom / Telstra. Currently one of our sons is an IT Manager while the other two are accountants. My two daughters in law are primary school teachers though one was a nurse at the Children's Hospital before taking up teaching. Over the years occupations evolve so it will be interesting to observe the paths taken by our grandchildren - one day in the distant future.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

#52Ancestors - Week 35 - Back to School

Each afternoon after school I listen to my seven year old grandson read his new reader. He is in grade one and effortlessly reading books set for grade three and four children.The books are a mixture of story books and non-fiction. Yesterday he read to me a book about different forms of energy while the previous day the book was about mammals. Other recent story books have been about a newspaper for cats, a couple of Hey Jack! books by Sally Rippen plus some science fiction.

This experience caused me to think about the type of reading that we did at primary school in the 1950s.

In those days I was not able to start school until I was almost six which meant that I had to wait for the mid-year intake as my birthday was in July and the cut off date for starting at the beginning of the year was 30 June. I had been attending kindergarten since I was three and all I wanted to do was go to school and learn to read.

Our first reader was John and Betty which many of us remember with affection. However I quickly learned to read 'This is John'. 'This is Betty'. etc and I am not aware of any additional reading material, except, perhaps flash cards during my first months at school. John and Betty was first published in 1951.

In  Grade 1 our reader was Playmates. This was the only reader that we had for the year. Like John and Betty it was illustrated by Marjorie Howden but it was a more substantial book being 72 pages. The subtitle was the Victorian Readers First Book and it was first published in 1952.

By Grade 2 we had graduated to the school reader entitled Holidays: the Victorian Readers Second Book.  This reader was again illustrated by Marjorie Howden and was 104 pages. As to be expected there is more writing on the pages. Holidays was first published in 1953.
The Victorian Readers Sixth Book
From Grade 3 to Grade 6 we had a reader designated for each year level - eg Victorian Readers: Third Book originally published in 1940 containing an anthology of poetry, prose, children's fiction and drama. Especially in the older years these readers provided an introduction to Australian short stories such as The Drover's Wife by Henry Lawson. I also remember the poem - You are Old Father William by Lewis Carroll and I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth.
The School Paper Grades V and VI 1962 nos 719, 720, 721, 722,723, 724, 725, 726, 727, 728, 729 including index
Example of a School Paper
We also had a folder in which to keep the monthly copy of the School Paper which was published for grades 3 and 4 and also for grades 5 and 6. These publications contained additional short stories, poetry and short information articles to read.
Arithmetic for Grade III
The other books that we had each year from grades 3 to 6 was the Arithmetic Book.

There was no public library in our area in the 1950s and definitely no school library. Fortunately friends and family knew that I enjoyed reading so I usually received books for my birthday and Christmas. When I was in Grade 5, I was in a Grade 5 / 6 composite class where our teacher encouraged us all to bring a book to school to create a classroom library. This was a great way to read books that other students liked and we took our books home at the end of the year.

Researching Australian Education - School readers

John and Betty - Book Browser - (contains photographs of pages from the reader)

Playmates - Deakin University - a pdf of the reader

Holidays - Deakin University - a pdf of the reader can be downloaded

Readers and textbooks - State Library of Victoria.

#52Ancestors - Week 34 - Non-population (indexes and resources)

One of the most useful tools for Australian family history research is Trove - Australian digitised newspapers made available via the National Library of Australia website - This is a resource that I use regularly when preparing posts for this blog.
When I worked in public libraries I often ran sessions on useful tools for genealogy research including the use of Trove. In 2013 I ran a sesson entitled Unlocking Family Stories in the library and also included information covered in the section in this blog. Below is the link to the post about using Trove prepared for that session:

Unlocking Family Stories - Newspapers and Magazines

The following year I wrote a follow up post:

Unlocking Family Stories - Trove part 2

The link to other topics covered in Unlocking Family Stories and also to other blog posts where I discuss how newspapers have helped my research can be found in the menu bar on the right of the blog page.

Edgar the Peaceful - King of All England

Queen's Birthday weekend recently so decided to write a post about a royal ancestor from Saxon times. On Monday (3 June) the episode of the End of Empire: the Rise and Fall of Dynasties on the History Channel was about the Saxon king, Edgar, who is credited with being the first King of All England.

Edgar was born in Wessex in 943, the son of Edmund I (921-946) and AElgifu of Shaftsbury. Edgar was a great grandson of Alfred the Great (849-899). Like many other members of his family, Edgar was reputedly not a tall man, possibly less than five feet tall. Edgar had been educated by the Abbott of Abingdon who was a friend of Dunstan, an influential member of the Benedictine order. Edgar was 16 when he became King in 959, after the death of his brother.

For many years England had been divided into seven main kingdoms each with their own king - East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, Essex, Kent and Sussex however the number of kingdoms and sub-kingdoms varied with battles for supremacy among the rulers. By the time of Alfred the Great, Wessex was the only kingdom not under the rule of the Danes who had settled in parts of England with the Viking invasions. Attempts were made by the Danes to invade Wessex but Alfred and his army resisted the attacks, made peace with the Danes and Wessex remained under Saxon control.

For sixty years after the death of King Alfred there had been many battles between the Danes and Saxons in different parts of England for control of land.

Edgar's uncle, Athelstan (894-939) became king in 927. When his father, Edward, died in 924 Athelstan inherited the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria and after the death of his brother, AElfweard, he also inherited the powerful kingdom of Wessex. In 927 Athelstan gained control of York, a stronghold of the Danes, and consequently ruled most of England. At the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 Athelstan consolidated his control in England by defeating troops of Scottish and Danish armies. He had also made peace with other leaders of land controlled by the Danes including Eric Bloodaxe who was in control of Northumbria.

Edgar became King after the death of his brother, Eadwig, and he is best known for attempting to solidify Saxon control over England by working with the Danish communities that existed along with Anglo Saxon regions throughout the country.

In 957 Edgar invited Dunstan, who had been exiled by Edgar's brother two years earlier, back to England and made him Bishop of Worcester and later Bishop of London. Dunstan eventually became Archbishop of Canterbury after Edgar became King of All England in October 959 . Once he was king, Edgar, with Dunstan's assistance, worked to restore monasteries damaged or destroyed during Viking raids as well as building new ones. This often resulted in the need to acquire additional land for the religious communities from members of the nobility making him unpopular with some of the nobles.However Edgar developed powerful alliances through strengthening the church. A Monastic Agreement was established and ratified by a document, Regularia Concordia, to protect monks and nuns in England signed by the King and also his Queen.
Coronation of King Edgar (Bath Abbey)
In 973, a second coronation service was held for King Edgar, at his request, at Bath Abbey. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, prepared the coronation service which formed the basis of future coronations of kings and queens. A special feature of this service was that Edgar's wife, Aelfthryth was also crowned as queen. An aim of this ceremony was to demonstrate Edgar's dominance over England.

After the service Edgar travelled to Chester where six (or maybe eight depending on differing records) sub-kings from regions of England plus leaders from Scotland and Wales, formally pledged allegiance to Edgar as King of all England at St John the Baptist Church. It is reported that these sub-kings rowed Edgar along the River Dee to the service.

In 961 Edgar had married Ethelflaed, the daughter of an ealdorman named Ordmer. They had a son, Edward, born in 962. This was possibly a political marriage to help strengthen Edgar's standing in Mercia. Little is known of this marriage or what happened to Ethelflaed - she may have died or there may have been a divorce.

What we do know is that Edgar formed a new partnership with Wulfthryth who lived at Wilton Abbey and was possibly training to be a nun. In 962 a daughter, Edith (962-986), was born so the relationship appears to have occurred when Edgar was married to Ethelflaed. Soon after the birth of her daughter, Wulfthryth returned to Wilton Abbey where she became Abbess.

Edgar's third relationship was with Aelfthryth (Elfrida) (940-1000) who was later made queen at Edgar's second coronation.

The history of events that occurred during this period of British history is a challenge to unravel as much of the information no longer exists, stories that have become legends occur and much of the information available is contradictory and written long after the events. The early relationship between Edgar and Aelfthryth is one example.

The story, often told, is that Edgar sent a friend, Ethelwold, to report on the virtues of a young lady, Aelfthryth, who was reputed to be very beautiful. Ethelwold decided to marry Aelfthryth himself, telling Edgar that he would not be interested in Aelfthryth. When Edgar realised the true story about Aelfthryth's beauty he arranged to go on a hunting expedition with Ethelwold and killed him. Edgar and Aelfthryth then married. Some versions of the story record that Edgar and Aelfthryth's relationship began before the death of Ethelwold. Ethelwold died in 962 and as Edgar and Aelfthryth did not marry until 964 the story of their implication in Ethelwold's murder may not be true. We will never really know.

What is known that this was a lasting marriage with Aelfthryth being interested and involved in the political and religious reforms being undertaken at the time. Edgar and Aelfthryth had two sons, Edmund (965-970) and Ethelred (968-1016).

As well as being known for achieving and maintaining relative peace between the Saxons and the Danes in England - including his neighbours in Wales and Scotland - earning him the name of Edgar the Peaceful, Edgar was responsible for strengthening the power of the church and thereby forming a strong alliance with the church during his reign.

Alfred the Great had created a strong navy to protect the coast from the Vikings. Naval power was strengthened during Edgar's reign building a navy of 3,600 ships. However Edgar was also known for reordering English currency so the same coins were used and were readily available throughout the country.

Edgar died unexpectedly on 8 July 975. He was not yet 32 and was buried at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset.

Aelfthryth was determined that Ethelred would be the next king  instead of Edgar's eldest son, Edward, and became involved in the factional fighting that occurred when Edgar died. The apparent peace that had existed for a short time unfortunately disappeared.

[Edgar was my 32nd great grandfather].

The United Kingdom - the period of the Scandinavian invasions - Encyclopaedia Britannica article

Alfred the Great - Encyclopaedia Britannica article [access to full article via State Library of Victoria or other libraries with a subscription to Encyclopaedia Britannica.]

Edgar King of England - Encyclopaedia Britannica article

Edgar the Peaceful - English Monarchs  

Timeline of Edgar the Peaceful - Totally Timelines  

 Norton, Elizabeth. England's Queens: the biography.

Coins - Anglo Saxon Law and Order  

Athelstan King of England - Encyclopaedia Britannica article

Eric Bloodaxe - BBC History