Friday, 5 December 2014

Is this thing on?

Um hello. Yes, it has been awhile, but my Masters project was submitted last week and suddenly my time is once again my own. Well except for job hunting and hausfrau-ing, the latter of which I am unbelievably terrible at.  It runs in the family ;)

Of course now that I am ready to pick up my research again I have found myself in a bit of a pickle. My notes are in absolute chaos and I cannot remember exactly what it was I was working on. Not to mention the build up of untagged and unfiled documents and photos. And my favourite genealogy program; The Master Genealogist becoming obsolete.

Where should one start?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Is it really July?

The year has been creeping away from me. Not much genealogy has been done in the past few months as I have been head down and concentrating on my Master's but with recent contact from various relatives and a couple of weeks break I am enthusiastic and ready to dive in again

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Family History and Writing

Last night I attended a 2 hour session on Writing Interesting Family Histories by Carol Baxter at Hornsby Library.

Carol is a fabulous speaker and the information she imparts is invaluable. Her intent is to encourage and help family historians break away from the habit of listing dry facts and dates and instead create engaging narratives, to write histories. I just wanted to hug her, because she encourages people to do all the things that, due to my history training, I am almost desperate for people to do: read widely, understand the context and properly cite your bloody sources!

I know the gentleman sitting behind me will probably ignore the latter message [oh the snarky comments I could make about some of the overheard conversations and audience questions] but if even half the audience internalises these 3 things as the take home message, I shall be happy.

So, what was my take home message? How to approach the happy medium in writing. I have spent so long in academia that when I write, I often default to academese. I know I write well. In an academic setting. I want to broaden my horizons so to speak. Be able to engage with a different kind of audience. Learn not to shun adjectives as superfluous.

In any case, Carol's advice on approach, structure and prose has give me a lot to think about and a way in which to start.  Annotated timelines here I come!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Trove Tuesday: Highway Robberies on the Great Northern Road

Well it appears I may have found the antecedent to that bushranger anecdote passed along by my father:

"HIGHWAY ROBBERIES ON THE GREAT NORTHERN ROAD."The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893) 22 Dec 1863: 3. Web. 26 Feb 2014 <>
Mrs Friend being Mary Maria Friend (nee Baker), my 4th Great Grandmother and the outlaw she met none other than Captain Thunderbolt or at least someone purporting to be him.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Family Anecdotes and Gossip

I often joke that I am related in someway to half the people in the town that I grew up in, and with my maternal grandmother's family having been in the region since the 1840s it is pretty true. So it is no surprise that when Mum and Dad came to visit this weekend Dad had plenty of family anecdotes and gossip to share. He'd been to have his hair cut and the barber is his second cousin.

They talked a lot it seems about their mutual great-grandmother Julia Christiana Boss later Winter then Bird. I have a bit of a fascination with this part of the family due to the lashings of scandal that make life interesting. In any case I now have the following tidbits:
  • Julia was, according to our cousin, born in Australian waters and as such was an Australian Citizen. Now this is something I have been having trouble proving, she is not listed as one of the births on the Commodore Perry.
  • The family was questioned as enemy aliens during WWI. As such I really hope I can find the file!
  • Julia was a staunch Nazi supporter. This I already knew, Dad has a Nazi pin tucked away in his box of family bits that belonged to Julia. We can only be glad that she died in '37 given the rest of the family's stance on the matter. 
  • Julia owned a lot of property around town. It will be interesting I think to start looking at land records, Dad is keen to map out exactly who owned what so it looks like another father-daughter history project is in the works (we seem to do a lot of those)
  • Julia was not a very nice person. Ok so this is a cleaned up version of how she is generally described by the family. Let's just say I am yet to hear anything complementary. Although the Nazi thing is kind of a clue there.
Dad also remembered hearing that someone in his mother's line had been mixed up with a local bushranger. The reference to Captain Thunderbolt on the Michael Caton episode of Who Do You Think You Are? reminded him. Tantalising, but given the number of relatives we have and the plethora of 'local' bushrangers, not that easy to trace. Still, I like a challenge.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

I think they swam

because I'm not having any luck finding an arrival for Patrick Lynch (b.1832, Ireland d. 1891, NSW) his wife Bridget nee McGraie/McGrail or his children Mary (b. 1856, Scotland?) and John (b. 1857, Scotland?). I have a marriage record for 1855 in Scotland and a birth record for a daughter Annie in 1859 in Wellington NSW but between that...

Yeah. They swam.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Geneameme: Australia Day 2014

Pauleen Cass over at Family History across the seas has challenged Aussie geneabloggers to an Australian themed geneameme for Australia Day/Invasion Day/Survival Day, The questions are really interesting so I hope my answers are as well :)

The Family Tree:
My first ancestor to arrive in Australia was the convict William Chapman aka Peter Brett Adnum on the Neptune in 1818

I have Australian Royalty, the above mentioned William Chapman, John Fibbens Marquess of Hastings 1825, Robert Muffett Bussorah Merchant 1828, John Brown Asia 1828,  Mary Ann Holgate Roslyn Castle 1830, Sarah Ann Watkins Burrell 1832 and Robert Bird Bengal Merchant 1838.

James Fibbens the brother of John was transported with him, the pair having engaged in a spot of unsuccessful highway robbery and Robert Muffett's younger brother James was sent out on the James Pattison in 1837 for theft. My research so far also indicates the increasing likelihood that John Green arrived as a convict and it is certain that his son Thomas became one whilst in New South Wales, being sentenced to 15 years transportation for Dray Robbery in 1845 and subsequently sent to Hobart on the Waterlily. John's daughter Ann also married a convict, Benjamin Taylor Eliza 1820. His daughter Louisa married Robert Muffett.

My partner's family went for quality over quantity. The only convicts to be found in his tree so far are Henry Kable and Susannah Holmes, true Australian Royalty!

I’m an Aussie mongrel, my ancestors came to Oz from England, Ireland, The Shetland Isles, Guernsey & Sark, Germany, and France via North Africa and the Middle East.

Did any of your ancestors arrive under their own financial steam? My paternal side consists of assisted immigrants and those who travelled at his majesty's expense, although I remain unsure about the family of John Green on the Enchantress 1833, they were not assisted but as it is likely that John was sent out as a convict who fronted the money for their passage?

On the maternal side of South Australian settlers, only Charlotte Lose, Holmsdale 1879 and William & Betsy Tozer William Stuart 1853 had their passage assisted and Lawrence Tulloch traded his labour for passage on the City of Adelaide 1882.

So the Black family Cormomandel 1837, the Rendall's John Renwick 1837, the Warren's Asia 1839, William Creaton Eland Hoogley 1846, Walter Le Pelley Marian 1861 and my grandfather on the Orsova 1954. My grandfather's father was also a seaman and had been in Australia a number of times before he settled, his last voyage here was as a passenger not crew.

How many ancestors came as singles? 7 convicts, Grandpa, Walter Le Pelley, Charlotte Lose and William Creaton Eland. So 11, or does John Green count as well?

How many came as couples? The Sinclair's only on the Ayrshire 1841, although Samuel's two children from his previous marriage were to follow on the Sir Edward Parry in 1848

How many came as family groups? On my paternal side the Reader's Earl Grey 1841, the Clifton's John Gray 1852, the Boss's Commodore Perry 1855. The Lynch's as well but so far their actual arrival has been elusive. The Friend's Neptune 1839 arrived as an extended family group. The Friends were part of a group of Sussex natives who had their fare's paid for by the local Poor Law Union. On the maternal side the Black's, Rendall's, Tozer's and Warren's all arrived in extended family groups.

Did one person lead the way and others follow? It is assumed that the Green's were following their transported patriarch, and Samuel Sinclair's two children did later follow as did his brother and sister in law. Jesse Friend Snr followed his children after the death of his wife and my great grandfather settled after my grandfather and his aunt emigrated with her English husband later still.

What’s the longest journey they took to get here? You know, this is not something I have really considered.

Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place? The Lynch's and the Sinclair's went first to Scotland from Ireland although whether this counts as two step is debatable really. My grandfather went from one part of the French Middle East and North Africa to another before embarking in Marrakesh. His Aunt married in the newly formed Israel and I believe her and her husband lived in  England for a time before emigrating. Walter Le Pelley came to Australia via Ceylon where his eldest sister and her husband resided.

Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive? New South Wales and South Australia. Walter Le Pelley did first arrive in Victoria and made his way overland to South Australia.

Did they settle and remain in one state/colony? For the most part yes, no one really started moving around until the 20th Century. Although some of the Tozer's went to Victoria for awhile in the 1880s and 1890s but returned to South Australia before long.

Did they stay in one town or move around?  A rather mixed bag on that account, some families remained rather stationary but others moved.

Do you have any First Australians in your tree? Not that we have found so far.

Were any self-employed? Most were farmers so yes.

What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in? Sailors, Farmers, Publicans, the Black's were Saddlers. And public servants ;)

Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation? Still plenty of farmers amongst the cousins.

Did any of your ancestors leave Australia and go “home”? Not as such. My great grandfather married a Greek woman and they returned to her homeland in the 1960s/70s, but he was born in Egypt and was of French extraction so not 'home' for him really.


What’s your State of Origin? New South Wales

Do you still live there? Yes

Where was your favourite Aussie holiday place as a child? My maternal grandparents in Townsville

Any special place you like to holiday now? Townsville is still my favourite

Share your favourite spot in Oz: Oooh That's hard, although the National Park beaches here on the Central Coast are up there

Any great Aussie adventure you’ve had? In 1988? 89? My Grandma, Mum and I went on an epic road trip from our home in NSW to Melbourne and then all the way to Townsville. I only remember some of it but it was fantastic and something I'd love to one day do again. I wonder where the photos from that trip ended up?

What’s on your Australian holiday bucket list? Tasmania and the Top end.

How do you celebrate Australia Day? I've studied enough history that overt displays of nationalism tend to make me uncomfortable. We tend towards the quiet of unpopular beaches and family bbqs.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Deciphering Old Handwriting: Take 2

Yes, once again I am crowdsourcing transcriptions, in this case because I want to be really sure about what it says particularly the top right and the information under remarks. I know what I think it says but I'd like a second, third and fourth opinion as it may help to sort out the mystery of John Green.

The original, full sized image can be accessed here, courtesy of the Archives Office of Tasmania 
Any Suggestions?

Monday, 6 January 2014

13 March 1958

I am at the State Library today to do something I am afraid to admit I have been avoiding for years.

The day started well enough, a quiet carriage that was actually quiet meant a rather enjoyable trip in to the city. The weather was pleasant enough to make the walk up Macquarie Street enjoyable. I reached the library in good time and proceeded to futz around with books on the history of Maitland and Camden I'd preordered in order to see if I could shed some more light on John Philip Gail. I looked through the pioneer registers on the open shelves and lamented that the one I was after was not on the shelves. Then I could procrastinate no longer. I put in my microfilm request slip and ducked off to the cafe for a sandwich and a fortifying cup of tea.

A half hour later and the microfilm was waiting for me on the collection shelves.

Scone Advocate January to June 1958.  General unease as I slipped the reel onto the reader, I spent some time reading advertisements. "Oh look there is H. Sinclair & Co! I didn't know Uncle Nip was the local Landrover dealer! There's an ad for Uncle Arch and Auntie Lorna's Nursery..." The closer I got to March the greater the feeling of dread.

You see, on March 13th 1958, my grandfather Walter Muffett was killed in an accident at work. Academically I know this. I've *always* known this. As a rule however, it is something that as a family we avoid. It is no skeleton in the closet or great family secret, but it is uncomfortable and upsetting and while everyone loves to talk about Wal, the circumstances of his death are pretty much avoided. As such I'd never gone looking for an obituary or a news report or such. Until today. I decided I should just bite the bullet and look. I don't think I was quite prepared for the sadness I would feel when I saw it as a front page story.  

But I have a copy now and shall tuck it away for awhile until it is time to reconsider it.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


I'm not one for making resolutions, rather at the start of each year I like to think of things I am looking forward too and hope to achieve during the year. Much less pressure.
So without any ado in 2014 I am looking forward to:

  • The digitisation of the Scone Advocate and Wellington Times on Trove.
  • Chris Paton & Thomas MacEntee downunder, I've booked in for Sydney
  • Meeting some imaginary friends at the above
  • My new research laptop finally arriving (Hurry up Kogan!)
  • Spending time out of the house and in libraries and archives
  • Working on my Masters (but first defining a topic for it)
  • More GeniAus Hangouts
  • Participating in Julie Goucher's WorldwideGenealogy project
  • DrBen (my other half) finally taking some time off work and having an actual holiday (yes I can hear all of you who know him laughing yourselves silly)
  • Making time to work on the transcriptions I volunteered to do for the Biographical Database of Australia
 I am hoping:
  • To perhaps come to some conclusion regarding John Phillip Gail
  • and John Green
  • To trace my tree outside Australia. I've followed all my lines to arrival, so it is time to step off these shores.
  • To bring a little more order to the chaos that is my office/sewing room
  • To find more family photos and record more stories
  • To be more active. I've become a little too sedentary since I broke my arms (yes both of them) at the start of 2012. 
  • To start knitting again now that my arms are on the mend.
  • To spin the yarn for and knit a Hap shawl. According to the 1861 Scottish Census some of my female forebears were Shetland Knitters, I'd like to do something to honour that. 
  • To read more non-fiction, I've fallen out of the habit.
  • To write more! Again I have fallen out of the habit.
  • To enjoy the journey :)