Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Tilikum … a Trove Tuesday post.

This post is one I have had in mind for a while now, but has finally been prompted into existence by a recent discussion on a Gippsland History group about the changing entrance to Shallow Inlet.

Fred Pilkington recorded in his “Memories of Sandy Point” that, after some years of gradual tidal undercutting, a new channel had broken through the sand spit, creating a new entrance to Shallow Inlet.  In the process, Fred writes that 100 acres or more of the best of the Reserve were lost.   The new entrance was found on 27th August 1901.

Some months later, on Saturday 1st March 1902, Fred and his brother Dan took advantage of a perfect late afternoon and the company of two neighbours, to take some time off from farm chores and go fishing.  The four men rode down to the Inlet, tethering their horses in the shade of the manuka scrub, before clambering over the loose sandy dunes to their desired spot.  To their surprise, when they crested the dunes, before them was a small three-masted sailing vessel of unusual appearance, aground in the channel just inside the new entrance.  The men watched in some trepidation as the sea was breaking over her decks, until a wave on the incoming tide lifted her clear of the sand and into calmer water.

The unexpected visitors proved to be the Tilikum under the command of Captain John Claus Voss, and his mate Hamilton.  The Tilikum was a Canadian Indian war canoe, carved out of a single piece of cedar 40 years previously, and had been fitted out by Captain Voss to sail around the world in an attempt to win a 500 wager. 
The expedition had started from Vancouver in May 1901, traversing the Pacific Ocean via the islands  to Sydney, and was now en route to Melbourne.  They had encountered severe storms on entering Bass Strait, during which the vessel had sustained damage to its rudder. 

The Argus Thursday 13 March 1902, page 6

Full article can be found at 

The Pilkington men provided hospitality to Captain Voss and his mate for a week while repairs to the rudder were effected, after which the Tilikum proceeded to Melbourne where she was put on display at the Exhibition Building as part of the Eight Hours celebrations.  Ironically, after narrowly escaping disaster on the Shallow Inlet bar, the Tilikum’s  voyage almost ended on dry land when a block and tackle gave way as she was being lifted onto a lorry at the close of the exhibition.  The resulting fall caused extensive damage, splitting the timber lengthways in several places.

The Age Wednesday 23 April 1902, page 4.

Lengthy repairs, sea trials to prove her seaworthiness, and court proceedings to recover damages meant that it was November before Captain Voss could resume his voyage around the globe. 

The Age Tuesday 1 July 1902, page 4.

Captain Voss’s own account of his voyage was published as “The Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss”  in 1913.  The book can be found on internet archive:
Chapter X11 relates the Shallow Inlet episode, and gives a great account of crossing the bar. 

There is no doubt from Fred’s “Memories” that the arrival of such a celebrated visitor was an exciting interlude in the life of the small community of Sandy Point and surrounds.   The Pilkington men continued to follow the voyage of the Tilikum with great interest, and Fred maintained some communication with Captain Voss over the next couple of years.  His diary does indicate he was a little put out when Voss’s “Venturesome Voyages” recorded their name as Pinkerton instead of Pilkington!

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 17 September 1904
London. From British Newspapers at
CRUISE ROUND THE WORLD. (1902, March 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 6. Retrieved June 12, 2018, from

NEWS OF THE DAY. (1902, April 23). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved June 12, 2018, from

NEWS OF THE DAY. (1902, July 1). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved June 12, 2018, from

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

In the Service of his Country…

My Anzac Day tribute this year is in honour of my husband's grandfather.  The following piece was written for "Families at War", a unit in the University of Tasmania's Diploma of Family History.

                                               JAMES JOSHUA PERRY
                                   1889 - 1934

The physical and psychological injuries sustained by so many Australian men returned from World War 1 (WW1) changed the course of not only their own lives, but those of their families too.  His children grew up believing that James Joshua Perry died as a result of being gassed in the trenches of France.  In reality, 44-year-old Jim died from aortitis resulting from syphilis contracted while convalescing in England after being wounded.  Jim was one of an estimated 60,000 Australian troops treated for venereal disease during WW1.
The fourth child of James and Catherine Perry, Jim was born in 1889 near Jugiong in rural New South Wales.  He left home as a youth and spent several years as a sailor on trading vessels. Jim enlisted for service in Melbourne on 6th October 1914.  There is no record of what motivated him to enlist, but he was subsequently posted as a  deserter from the steamship Marere on 16th October. The Marere had spent the previous month in Sydney being converted to a troop ship, and was in Melbourne en route to Albany, Western Australia, where she joined the first convoy of Australian Imperial Forces.  
After enlisting, Jim would have spent a few weeks at the Broadmeadows Training Camp north of Melbourne. Initial training consisted of instruction in the use and care of weapons, entrenching tools, and instilling military discipline into the recruits.  Jim was assigned the rank of Driver in the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade Reinforcements, a role for which his family background of breeding horses would have suited him well.  In WW1, Driver was an equivalent rank to Private and was responsible for a wagon and team of horses used to transport weapons, ammunition and supplies to the Front, and transport the wounded back. Drivers were responsible for the care of the horses in their team.  Although not directly involved in fighting, they were often a target for enemy fire because of the work they performed.
Jim embarked from Port Melbourne on 22nd December 1914, on board HMAT A30 Borda.  The ship then sailed from Albany, Western Australia in convoy with 16 other vessels on 31st December 1914 as the Second Detachment of the Australian and New Zealand Imperial Expeditionary Forces.  On arrival in Egypt, Jim was transferred to the 2nd Field Company Divisional Engineers.  It is uncertain what part he played in the Gallipoli campaign, as his record does not reflect this.  Field diaries reveal the 2nd Field Company didn’t land at Gallipoli until 7th November.  Jim’s record shows that after the Gallipoli evacuation in December 1915, he was transferred to Maadi, the Cairo camp of the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, so it is possible he was with them. 

Jim re-joined the 2nd Field Company Engineers at Tel El Kabir at the end of December 2015.  This was a training camp set up in the Egyptian desert for recuperation and re-organisation of troops, with intensive training in preparation for transfer to the Western Front.  Three months later he proceeded to Alexandria, embarking on S.S. Simla, to arrive at Marseilles on 30th March.  
From Marseilles, the unit had a grueling three day train journey to the village of Steenbecque in Northern France, arriving at 0200 on 2nd April only to find they then had a twenty mile march to their camp.  Although tedious, several diarists commented on the contrasting beauty of the landscape compared with Egypt.
Throughout April, the men moved north to the battlefields. Jim was re-mustered as a Sapper, and the remainder of 1916 was spent working to reinforce trenches, create new dug-outs for gun crews and road-building works.   The appalling weather conditions of the 1916-17 winter hampered progress as the men faced freezing temperatures and constant mud & snow.

On 27th January Jim took a gunshot wound to his left thigh. He was treated at the 45th Casualty Clearing Station at Edgehill (Dernancourt), before being transported via Rouen to 2nd Birmingham War Hospital, England on 1st February 1917. 
                                             Figure 1: Description of wound

‘Gas’ was the dreaded gas gangrene, caused by the bacteria Clostridium Welchii, which thrived in deep wounds and often led to amputation.  Prevention included leaving the wounds open to allow oxygen circulation and minimise the infection.  This delayed healing time compared with suturing wounds closed.  Jim spent two months at Birmingham, where he probably met his sister Eleanor who was stationed there with the Australian Army Nursing Service.  
 After six weeks convalescing at 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, Jim had 3 weeks furlough, following which he spent time at various command depots and training camps in preparation for returning to the Front.  However on 25th July, Jim was admitted to hospital diagnosed with venereal disease. He was treated for both gonorrhoea and syphilis at 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital at Bulford for 2 periods of 20 days and 22 days during the months of July to September.  Treatment was complicated, painful and not guaranteed to be effective.  In Jim’s case he was deemed to be cured, as evidenced by a negative screening test obtained in March 1918. 
The next eight months were spent in training camps recovering and building up strength before returning to France in May 1918, to the Australian General Base Depot at Le Havre. There is no record of where Jim went from there, or if he saw any active service again. As a 1914 enlister, Jim qualified for six months ‘Special 1914 Leave’, and left for Australia on 13th October 1918.  When the Armistice was signed on 11th November, he would have been at sea.
Back in Australia, Jim returned to his former life on the trading ships, until his brother’s wife introduced him to her cousin Mary Forristal. They married on 10th February 1923, and Jim took employment with the Tramways.  The following year, they became parents to twin daughters Theresa and Patricia, followed in 1930 by son Jack.

In September 1933, Jim presented to his doctor with pain in his left leg, shortness of breath, and swelling of his face.  He was referred to the Alfred Hospital where his heart condition was diagnosed. His application to the Repatriation Commission for a pension in November 1933, when he could no longer work, was rejected on the grounds that his condition was not due to war service.   Two appeals were also rejected.  It was not until Mary Perry notified the Repatriation Commission of her husband’s death, and requested a pension for herself that the Board relented and granted approval in September 1934.

James Perry died in the Alfred Hospital on 12 July 1934.  The War pension enabled Mary to bring up their young family, and provide them with a good education.  Jim was as much a victim of his war service as anyone else who served.  He was one of an estimated 38 men and 1 woman from Jugiong who enlisted, but surprisingly there was no war memorial raised in Jugiong after WW1.  In 2014 a memorial was erected to mark the 100-year anniversary, but although his brother John is listed, Jim and his sister Eleanor are not mentioned.  His many grandchildren and great grandchildren are a testament to his sacrifice and service.

Jim & Mary Perry with Theresa & Patricia c1928

  © Katrina Vincent 2018. Written for Families at War unit, University of Tasmania. A fully referenced PDF of this work is available on request.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Grandmother’s Teapot …

Shortly after I married in 1979, my aunt passed on to me a silver teapot which had belonged to my grandmother. At the time, she told me that it was not a valuable piece, but that it had been well-used in her childhood home. My aunt was quite fastidious when it came to making a cup of tea. There was a definite ritual which had to be followed, which involved warming both the pot and the teacups prior to use, and using only freshly boiled water. I imagine she learned this ritual as a child from my grandmother.

  My grandmother Eve Pilkington (seated) presiding over
                                     afternoon tea on the verandah of her home “Ennisvale”.
   Pilkington Family Collection. 1908, digital image, personal collection.

While making a cup of tea in my household today involves simply tossing a teabag into a cup of boiling water, it wasn’t always like this. Ever since the 17th century when tea was introduced to the Western world by the Dutch East India Company, the ‘pot of tea’ has been integral to family meals and social occasions. For generations, people have celebrated life and shared troubles over a cup of tea. Whether it was a finely crafted silver vessel used for special occasions, a humble ceramic pot for everyday use, or even a tin billy over an outback campfire, the teapot and its contents was part of the ritual of daily life.

Grandmother’s teapot, 2017, digital image, personal collection

My oval-shaped teapot stands 14 cm tall. It is wider at the base, measuring 14.5cm x 12cm, and tapering to 12cm x 9cm across the top. The lid has a concealed hinge and an oval-shaped ivory finial on top. The sides are decorated with crossed branches of foliage, one with a butterfly and the other with a bird in flight. The lid is encircled by a wreath of foliage. The spout is fluted and tapers to a plain opening, with evidence of a soldered repair at the base. The hollow handle has a squared top incorporating a thumb rest for ease of pouring, and contains tiny holes at the top and bottom to dissipate heat. To minimise transition of heat, the handle is constructed with two expanders made of an unknown black material which I first thought was Bakelite. However, Bakelite was not invented until 1907, and I think my teapot is older than that. Some of the silver plating has worn off where the handle is gripped, and there is a small spot of corrosion on top of the handle. Two small dents and a superficial scratch on one side indicate that the teapot may have been dropped at some time.

Grandmother’s teapot, top view, 2017, digital image, personal collection

Grandmother’s teapot, Base markings, 2017, digital image, personal collection

The base of the teapot contains markings stamped into the metal. The first is what I initially thought to be the number ‘6’. In American silverware, this is a standard measurement for teapots, indicating a capacity of six half-pints = 1800ml. Besides the fact that my teapot is English, it only has a capacity of 1200ml so I knew this couldn’t be what the mark meant. On enlarging the photograph, it became evident that the mark was the number ‘5’, but as capacity this would equate to 1500ml; again not correct, unless it indicates capacity as five standard tea-cups. Another possibility is that as a mass-produced piece, this could be the journeyman’s mark, stamped on as a means of identifying how many pieces were made by a particular worker.

Foy & Gibson was a department store which first opened in Collingwood, Victoria in 1883. The Western Australian branch was opened in 1895 at 765 Hay St, Perth.
The number ‘2080’ is a pattern number, and was used to identify the design in sales catalogues. Pattern numbers were required to be registered, and would allow accurate dating of manufacture. I was unable to find any on-line listing of registered pattern numbers.
Made in England. The process of electroplating was first patented in England in 1840, and made silver tableware affordable for the growing middle classes. It involved applying a thin layer of silver over a base metal through the process of electrolysis. The industry became established around Birmingham and Sheffield in England, with numerous companies producing silver plated items that were usually marked with the letters EPNS (electro-plated nickel silver, plated onto a base alloy of copper, zinc and nickel) or EPBM (electro-plated Brittania metal, plated onto a base alloy of tin, antimony and copper). Each company stamped its products with its own registered maker’s mark.

My teapot contains no maker’s mark and is not stamped as EPNS. The wear on the handle and absence of hall marks makes me confident that it is silver plated. I suspect that it is probably the cheaper EPBM, due to the grey colour of the base metal showing through the worn handle. My conclusion is that it was a mass-produced piece made exclusively for Foy & Gibson by an unidentified manufacturer, in the late 1890’s or early 1900’s.

There is a picture of a similar style teapot in Foy & Gibson’s 1902 catalogue, advertised for 24 shillings.  According to the Reserve Bank calculator, this would equate to $166.46 in today’s terms.

Victorian silver plated teapot. Source: Foy & Gibson 1902 Winter catalogue, University of Melbourne Library Digital Collections accessed 2 May 2017.

I have speculated on how the teapot may have come into my grandmother’s possession. I know that she lived in Perth between 1901 and 1904, initially housekeeping for her brother and then after he married working as a housekeeper for others. Did she buy the teapot herself to add to her ‘glory box’ in anticipation of one day keeping her own house? Or perhaps it was a departure gift from a grateful employer when she returned to Victoria in 1904. Another possibility is that it was sent by her brother as a wedding gift when she married in 1907.

In terms of resale today, I don’t think the teapot has any monetary value. Similar Victorian teapots which include a maker’s mark are advertised on eBay for $30-$50. However, the value of the teapot to me lies in the connection it provides to the grandmother I never knew, who died only a few months before I was born.

This article was written in 2017 for assessment as part of the unit 'Place, Image, Object' in University of Tasmania's Diploma of Family History.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2017

This is the second year I have taken part in this challenge, put out by Jill Ball at Geniaus.  It is a great way to review the year and celebrate the successes and discoveries in family history research.  So here is my list of positives from 2017:

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was:  My 4th great grandfather Matthew Grant was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in about 1793.  He married Janet Yates / Yetts in Edinburgh in 1815.  His son, my 3x great grandfather John David Grant was born c1820 and came to Australia in about 1827.  For years I have not been able to find definite records in Australia for Matthew & Janet.  There are 21 separate public trees on which give Matthew’s death as 8th June 1863 in Brighton, Victoria, but no-one has a source to back this up.  I happen to know that this death date & location applies to John David Grant, and have a copy of the death certificate to prove it.  Now I have always been sceptical that father & son had the same death date, although theoretically it is possible if, for example, they had both died in an accident or even in an epidemic.  But if that was the case, I would have expected both to be buried at the same time, and there is no burial record for Matthew.  In 2017, thanks to a tip off from a fellow researcher, I found Matthew’s death record in Scotland in 1827.  Mystery solved!  It seems that Janet and her three children emigrated to Van Diemans Land after Matthew died.

2.  A great newspaper article I found was: Not one in particular, but I have been enjoying searching through the Irish Newspaper collection available through Findmypast.  Lots of BDM’s, obituaries, reports of land transactions, livestock sales, local crime and political life – all add context to the lives of our ancestors.

3.  A geneajourney I took was:  No travels in 2017.  But I did journey back to the mid-1800s via the journal of my Great Aunt Charlotte.  Actually my third great aunt, Charlotte Keane was the younger sister of my great-great grandmother Anne Keane, who I have previously written about in Kilbaha – here and there.  Charlotte kept a diary from about 1830 when she was quite a young girl, up until the late 1880’s.  I had previously read some typed extracts of her journal, but this year had the opportunity to read it in its entirety.  What a great story of the times it is.

Charlotte Keane's diary 1831

4.  An important record I found was:  Late in 2017 Findmypast added the Crossle Genealogical Abstracts to their already excellent collection of Irish records.  These are the notebooks of father & son Francis & Philip Crossle, containing transcriptions of early Irish records the originals of which are no longer in existence.  I found fragments of the 1821 Irish census relating to my family, as well as copies of several land deeds and marriage settlements relevant to my research.

5.  A newly found family member shared:  a handwritten document written by my 2x great grandfather Alfred Haughton in 1835.  The document was shared with me by a previously unknown 3rd cousin 1x removed who contacted me via, and describes several significant family events including the birth of my great grandmother Mary Haughton.  What a treasure!

6.  A geneasurprise I received was:   In October I was contacted via my blog by someone who currently lives on the farm at Mullaghmast, county Kildare, Ireland, where my 4x great grandfather Benjamin Haughton lived from about 1740.  She very kindly shared with me a photo of a stone engraved with the Haughton name dated 1853 from the wall of a shed on her farm.

7.   My 2017 blog post that I was particularly proud of was:  Transported for 10 years.  This post was originally written as an assignment for the Convict Ancestors unit in the Diploma of Family History at UTAS.  Not having a confirmed convict ancestor of my own, I chose to research and write about Richard Pilkington, who could well be a distant ancestor as he came from the same West Clare location as my own Pilkington family.  I loved following his story!

Welcome Wall - transcript of Richard Pilkington's entry

8.   I made a new genimate who:  is helping me try to make sense of my DNA matches.  She is my 3rd cousin x1 removed, and we met on Facebook when someone else posted asking if anyone had McKenzie ancestors.  I replied that my 4x great grandmother was Benjamina McKenzie, whose baptism record in Scotland in 1801 noted that she “was begat in the honourable bed”.  Sharon immediately replied saying she was a relative too! Great to make the connection.

9.  A new piece of technology I mastered was: Master of nothing, but working my way through the intricacies of Gedmatch, and learning to use Excel for genealogy.  Still a long way to go!

10. I joined: the Clare Roots Project on ftDNA.  Hoping to make some new connections and trace my family lines in county Clare, Ireland and beyond.

11. A genealogy event from which I learnt something new was:  No events this year, but learning all the time!  Love reading what others are writing and picking up tips along the way.

12. A blog post that taught me something new was:  I’ve been enjoying reading Roberta Estes blog DNA eXplained – Genetic Genealogy.  Lots of great information for getting my head around genetic genealogy.

13. A DNA discovery I made was:  Last year in my 2016 post for this Geneameme I wrote about meeting Tom Pilkington in Ennis.  I’ve long suspected a connection between our families but have not found the evidence to confirm it.  Until now! Tom did a DNA test with ftDNA, and matches both my brother and myself at the range of 4th cousins or more.

14. I taught a genimate how to:  I don’t think I have taught anybody anything this year!

15. A brick wall I demolished was:   I haven't demolished anything yet, but have certainly put a good few chips in one particular brickwall.  See #4 & #13 above.  I am determined to find the actual link between these two Pilkington families.  The story will be a blogpost of its own one day!

16. A great site I visited was:  One of the best sites I’ve used this year is the website.  This site contains the civil registrations of births, deaths and marriages in Ireland from commencement in 1864 up until current law allows (ie 100years for births).  During the past year they have begun digitising the images, so the actual registration entry is now available for viewing and downloading free on the site for most of the registrations.  They are still doing the older ones, so a work in progress. 

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was:  I haven’t finished reading it yet, but “On Blue Water – some narratives of sport and adventure in the modern merchant service” written by John Fryer Keane and published in 1883.  John Fryer Keane was my 1st cousin 3x removed, and he lived a very interesting life which I will be featuring in future blog posts. 

18. It was exciting to finally meet:  Well, I had actually met her once before, a few years ago, but it was lovely to catch up again with my 2nd cousin Kathie.  She lives in Queensland and for several years we have been exploring our Dewar ancestors together, after making contact via  We had a lovely day exploring the area where her mother had grown up in bayside Melbourne.

19. I am excited for 2018 because:  I’m hoping to complete the last three units for the UTAS Diploma of Family History.  I started out by doing the two units on writing family history in 2016, and loved them so continued on in 2017 to do 2 units on convict ancestors and another titled Place, Image, Object which I really enjoyed.  This year will be Families at War, and two other units presently undecided.

20. Another positive I would like to share is ...  I love the networks I’ve made through different groups on Facebook.  There is so much to learn from so many people and it’s great to be able to help others along their way as well.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Ancestral Placenames Geneameme

Just managing to get this National Family History Month post in before August is finished.  This is an activity suggested by Alona Tester at:

Sounds like a fun activity to sort out which places are important to our family history!

Atherstone, Warwickshire, England – Elizabeth Arnold, my 4x g-grandmother was born here in 1788. She married Thomas Jennings in 1806. (maternal side)

Arctic Circle – William Frederick Pilkington, my 1st cousin x3 removed was lost and died here in about 1850. (paternal side)
For more see my blogpost Lost in Arctic Expedition.

Ardreigh, co. Kildare, Ireland – Alfred Haughton, my 2x g-grandfather, owned the mill on the River Barrow. (paternal side)

Ardreigh Mill

Brighton, Victoria, Australia – John Grant, my 3x g-grandfather, settled in Brighton in the 1840’s. The Grant family became significant property owners in the area. (maternal side)

Clare, Ireland – home of my Pilkington family since at least the early 1700’s. Seven generations of Thomas Pilkington’s. (paternal side)

Cumberland, England – Abraham Postlethwaite (1831-1910), my 2x g-grandfather, was born and grew up in the village of Camerton before arriving in Australia in 1852. (maternal side)

Cork, Ireland – birthplace of Henrietta Osburne, my 2x g-grandmother.  The Osburne family were a long line of medical men in Cork throughout the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries. (paternal side)

Dublin, Ireland – various family members have lived in Dublin over the last few centuries.  Mt. Jerome cemetery is the resting place for several ancestors including my great-grandmother Mary Haughton Pilkington, and 2x great-grandmother Anna Keane Pilkington. (paternal side)

Pilkington grave at Mt. Jerome Cemetery, Dublin

Edinburgh, Scotland – Matthew and Janet Grant (nee Yates), my 4x g-grandparents, were from Edinburgh.  Matthew was a plasterer. After his death in 1827, Janet and her three children emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania.  (maternal side)

Forres, Moray, Scotland – William McKerras, my 5x great-grandfather was born here in about 1753. (maternal side).

Greymouth, New Zealand – Charles David Gardner, my great-grandfather, was born in Greymouth in 1872.  His mother Mary Emily Way had arrived there from Melbourne earlier that year. (maternal side). I have written about this at: Mary Emily Way

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia – Hobart was the beginning of a new life in Australia for several branches of my family.  Grant (1827), Humphries (possibly 1820), Arpin (1832), Way (1852).  None of them stayed in Tasmania, moving across Bass Strait to Melbourne, or across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. (maternal side)

Inverness, Scotland – My 4th great-grandfather John McKerras (maternal side) was born in Inverness in about 1789. (maternal side).

India – My grandfather, Charles Osburne Pilkington (1866-1947), spent seven years in India from 1890 until 1897, serving with the 16th Lancers.  I’d love to know what he actually did during that time, as there was no military conflict in that period.  (paternal side).

Johannesburg, South Africa – My grandfather again.  As a reservist in the 16th Lancers, he was called up to serve with the 12th Lancers for 3 years in the Boer War 1898-1902.  Part of this time was spent serving in Johannesburg.

Kincardine, Perthshire, Scotland – The home of my Dewar ancestors.  Great grand-father James Dewar was born in Kincardine in 1829. (paternal side).

Limerick, Ireland – 3x great-grandmother Margaret Bridget Moloney was born in Limerick in 1827.  She left Ireland in the famine years for London, where she met and married Henry Way before migrating to Australia. (maternal side).

London, England – Birthplace of Louisa Jane Arpin, my 3x great grand-mother (maternal), as well as the mysterious Margaret Hill, my paternal great-grandmother about whom I have very little information.

Morankie, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland- Home of the McKenzie’s, where 4x great-grandmother Benjamina McKenzie was born in 1801, after the death of her father. A fact which prompted the priest at her baptism to note that she “was begat in the honourable bed”.

New Ross, Wexford, Ireland – the Elly family were Quakers and lived at New Ross, where they were merchants. Sarah Elly, my 3x great-grandmother was born here in 1761. (paternal side).

Oxfordshire, England – Henry Way, my 3x great-grandfather was from the village of Woodstock in Oxfordshire. (maternal side).

Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia – emigration destination for various family members.  Most notably my 3x great-grandparents William & Louisa Humphries, who were among the first settlers to Port Phillip.  They came across from Launceston on John Pascoe Faulkner’s ship ‘Enterprize’ in 1837. (maternal side). I've written Louisa's story in an earlier blogpost.

Queen’s County, Ireland – my 7x great-grandfather, John Pim, who was born in Leicestershire, England in 1641, moved to Ireland and settled in Queen’s county (county Laois). The Pim’s were Quaker merchants. (paternal side)

Raphoe, Donegal, Ireland – William Duffy, my 2x great-grandfather, and his wife Jane came from Raphoe before settling in Melbourne. (maternal side).

Somerset, England – 3x great-grandparents Thomas Tucker & Elizabeth Dunstone came from South Petherton in Somerset as assisted immigrants in 1848. (maternal side).

Shropshire, England – birthplace of William Humphries in 1796, 3x great-grandfather.  He may or may not have been a convict. (maternal side).

Texas, U.S.A – my grandfather Charles Osburne Pilkington originally went to Texas in 1885.  He spent about 4 years there before returning to Ireland and enlisting in the British Army.

United Kingdom – homeland of many of my ancestors, who at some point made the decision to emigrate to Australia.

Victoria, Australia – they came from all over Great Britain and Ireland, some via Tasmania & some via other places, but all ended up in Victoria at some point in their journeys. Earliest arrival 1837 and most recent arrival 1903.

Westmorland, England – Place of origin of my Quaker Haughton ancestors.  Isaac Haughton, my 5x great grandfather, was born here in 1663.  Sometime after his marriage in 1686, he moved to Ireland where he settled in King’s County (now county Offaly).

Walkerville, Victoria, Australia – Formerly known as the township of Waratah, Walkerville was settled in response to the establishment of the lime-burning industry. My grandmother grew up in Waratah, where her father James Dewar was manager of the lime kilns.  I've written about the story of Walkerville here.

Township of Walkerville & Kilns

X - representing various forebears whose exact place of origin is unknown.

Yallourn, Victoria – my birthplace.  The town of Yallourn no longer exists, it was demolished in the 1970’s to make way for expansion of the open cut  brown coal mine.

Zzzzzz – that’s it from me for Family History Month!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Mary Emily Way - my 2x great-grandmother…

Mary Emily Way (1851-1935) is my 2x great-grandmother on my mothers side of the family. The following is a story I wrote, based on the known facts of her life, for the ‘Writing the Family Saga’ unit at University of Tasmania last year.  Today is her son Charles David Gardner's 145th birthday.

Mary Emily cradled her newborn son and looked across at her husband, the man who would be father to this baby. They had married just two weeks ago, a mutually acceptable arrangement. She needed a ring on her finger and a name for her child, while he needed a housekeeper. Little Charles David would grow up in a respectable home, thanks to this man.

Mary thought nostalgically of her Irish mammy; how she wished she was here now to help and advise her in her new role as a mother!

Seven months previously, twenty year old Mary Way had arrived in Greymouth alone and pregnant, after crossing the Tasman Sea from Melbourne on the S.S. Gleaner. It had been a big step, moving from the familiarity of home to establish a new life in a strange place. But Mam had done the same, and made a good life for herself and her family. Mary hoped things would work out well for her too.

Her mother, Margaret Bridget Maloney, was a farmer’s daughter from Limerick. Faced with starvation in famine-stricken Ireland, she had left for London at much the same age as Mary was now. There she had met and married Henry David Way, a bootmaker from Oxfordshire. Mary had been born within a year, and shortly afterwards the little family had taken advantage of assisted passage to Van Diemen’s Land. Five more children were born in Hobart, before the family relocated to Melbourne in 1870. Life had not been without its troubles though; her youngest baby had died aged two and her eldest son at fifteen from an epileptic seizure. Now she had effectively lost Mary as well.

We don’t know the circumstances under which Mary left her family in 1871, or why she chose Greymouth as her destination. Was she pursuing the father of her child? Possibly she intended to stay with relatives of her father, living in New Zealand. She may have been banished in disgrace, a bad example to her younger siblings. Whatever the reason, her exile was permanent, and she never returned to Melbourne.

Greymouth in the 1870’s was a frontier town. The cold, wet and windswept harbour at the mouth of the Grey River was the point from which timber and coal was shipped. The discovery of gold brought an influx of those seeking to make their fortune. Charles Gardner was one of those men, and worked hard to provide for his young wife and child. The rough work and harsh conditions took their toll and his health suffered. The winter of 1878 proved too much, and despite Mary’s careful nursing over the long winter months, the miner succumbed to exposure, leaving Mary a widow and six year old Charles again fatherless.

Greymouth Harbour, New Zealand, 1885
sketch by Mr. Pentlelow, 
published 21 October 1885 in Australasian Sketcher by Alfred Martin Ebsworth     
                                          State Library of Victoria                         

Mary did what many women thrown upon their own resources did – she found herself a new husband. Six months after Charles’s death, Mary Emily Gardner and Arthur William Tew were married in the Greymouth Registry Office. In such a small community it is likely they had known each other for some time, and even possible that Arthur, a clerk, had handled Charles’s affairs.

Young Charles grew up in Greymouth with his mother and stepfather, joined by a baby sister Clara in 1882. At fifteen, greener pastures beckoned him. In a move reminiscent of those of his mother and grandmother before him, he left Greymouth to travel alone to Melbourne, where he eventually established a successful blacksmith business.

Charles Gardner's blacksmith premises in Bentleigh, Victoria c1903 
from private family collection.

As she stood on the dock fare-welling her son, Mary must have wondered at the irony of the situation. She had left Melbourne, perhaps turned out by her family, to make a life for this boy, and now here he was, leaving her behind and returning to what she had left. She worried about what awaited him in Melbourne and how he might be received. We know that Charles did connect with his mother’s family, as his uncle and aunt, John and Jessie Way, were the witnesses at his marriage in 1894.

Life in Greymouth went on for Mary. She was widowed for the second time at Christmas 1901 when Arthur died of heart disease. Six months later her daughter Clara, nineteen and unmarried, gave birth to a baby girl named Emily. Ever practical, Mary passed the baby off as her own “change of life” baby. In an ironic twist, Mary once again found herself facing life as a single mother, thirty years after first being in that situation.
©Katrina Vincent 2016
Charles David Gardner

Monday, 3 July 2017

Transported for 10 years…

The subject of this post is Richard Pilkington, born County Clare Ireland about 1832, the son of William Pilkington, a labourer.  He’s not a confirmed relation to my family, but given the name and location, there is a fair chance of a connection somewhere.  I was prompted to explore Richard’s story while studying a unit on Convict Ancestors with University of Tasmania.

County Clare Ireland in 1850 was still in the grip of an Gorta Mór, the Great Famine. The Kilrush Poor Law Union was one of the hardest hit areas, not only dealing with the effects of the potato blight, but also the mass evictions carried out by landlords and their agents. Some of the worst devastation was instigated by Marcus Keane, known as the Exterminator General of Clare, who happened to be the brother of my great-great-grandmother Anne Keane.  I've written about Anne in a previous post.

In February 1850, at the close of another cold wet winter, people were still being found dead from starvation and exposure. Whole villages lay deserted; their former occupants either dead or emigrated. The detailed reports of Kilrush Union Poor Law Inspector Captain Arthur Kennedy, who was responsible for the relief of the poor and destitute, reveal the suffering he regularly witnessed. Coincidently, Kennedy was to become Governor of Western Australia in 1854.

Not surprising then that people resorted to whatever means they could to survive. Livestock theft was a common occurrence, and the reason 18 year old Richard Pilkington was transported for 10 years.  On the night of February 25th 1850, eight sheep were stolen from the property of Thomas Browne at Cahermurphy.  At the Assizes in Ennis in July, Richard and five other men were convicted of the crime and sentenced to transportation.  We can only guess at their motivation. Perhaps they wanted food for their families, or maybe were hoping to profit from selling the meat at the nearby markets, where mutton was selling for 5 ¼ pence per pound.  Regardless of the reason, Thomas Browne would have seemed like a soft target. He was a well-off linen merchant from Limerick who farmed several parcels of land throughout West Clare.

Clare Journal & Ennis Advertiser 4 July 1850 page 2.

The long journey to Western Australia began in Ennis jail, described in 1845 as “a thoroughly commodious and well-conducted establishment” which had recently been extended.  Four months later, Richard and two of his co-accused were among a group of 20 prisoners transferred to Spike Island Prison in Cork harbour.  Originally built as a military fortress, Spike Island had been used as a convict depot from 1847 and by the time Richard arrived housed over 2300 prisoners.   Conditions in the prison were not ideal and many of the prisoners were unwell and debilitated as a result of the famine.

Clare Journal & Ennis Advertiser 18 November 1850 page 1.

Richard’s stay at Spike Island was of unknown duration. Although the convict ship Robert Small sailed from Spike Island for Swan River with two of Richard’s partners in crime aboard, Richard must at some point have been transferred to Dublin. His convict records in Western Australia reveal he came from Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison, where his conduct was recorded as “good”, although he doesn’t appear in the Irish Prison Records which include Mountjoy.

Built as a model prison based on the separation theory, Mountjoy was completed in 1850 and provided single cells for 450 inmates.  During his time there, Richard would have been kept completely separated from his fellow inmates, in the belief that it would promote “moral and religious improvement”. In fact, the practice was associated with significant deterioration in the mental health of the prisoners.  What a contrast it must have been for Richard to go from the isolation of Mountjoy to the crowded confines of the convict ship Phoebe Dunbar.

Sketch of the Phoebe Dunbar,
Source: R.D.Shardlow, Mitchell Families Online accessed 16 June 2017.

The Phoebe Dunbar sailed from Kingstown (Dublin) on the evening of June 3rd 1853, carrying 295 male convicts, and 93 others - pensioner guards and their families.  After a voyage of 89 days, she arrived in Fremantle on 30th August.  Sixteen lives were lost on the voyage, nine of them convicts, with three more dying soon after landing. Disease had been rife on board, with many people suffering from scurvy.  Although sailing a month before the Phoebe Dunbar, the Robert Small had been delayed in transit and had arrived only a few days before. The settlement was unprepared for the influx of almost 600 convicts, many of whom were unwell. Consequently, the convicts remained on board Phoebe Dunbar for three weeks while temporary accommodation was built.

The Perth Gazette & Independent Journal of Politics & News
Friday 2 September 1853 page 2

So began life in Australia for convict number 2449, Richard Pilkington. Described on arrival as being aged 22 and single, he was 5 feet 4 ½ inches tall, of middling stout build with no distinguishing marks. He had black hair, hazel eyes and an oval face with sallow complexion.  He was Roman Catholic and could read but not write.

Richard was assigned to public works in the quarries where constant exposure to dust and grit resulted in severe ophthalmia.  He had several admissions to hospital in 1854-55; the descriptions provided of his eyes leave no doubt that his sight must have been impaired.  The treatments recorded appear to be the standard recommendations of the period, and included green shade to reduce light sensitivity, application of leeches to the temples, and use of various preparations containing mercury, silver, potassium and opium.  Diet was a part of the treatment, and consisted of tea, gruel or broth, designed to keep the digestive tract empty. Richard’s notes show additional foods were introduced as his recovery progressed.

Richard’s progress through the penal system was uneventful, his conduct ranging from “good” to “excellent” when he obtained his ticket of leave on 7th September 1854.  He spent time at Port Gregory and Freshwater Bay convict depots, but no further record of location is available after his discharge from hospital on 19th July 1855.  As a ticket of leave holder, he was able to seek employment from free settlers. He received his conditional pardon on 3rd October 1859.

The next record of Richard is his marriage in Bunbury on 31st March 1870. Emma Burk(e) is recorded as a servant and he a labourer, both residing at Belvidere. They were married by Roman Catholic Chaplain Hugh Brady at the home of James Milligan.  Belvidere was a property originally established to raise horses for the British Army in India.  It seems reasonable to assume that both Richard and Emma were employees of the estate. They had at least three children - John, Maria and Edward, with unconfirmed reports of a fourth child, Patrick.

A lifetime of poor diet, isolation, harsh treatment and hard work finally caught up with Richard. Aged 46, he died from disease of the lungs at Bunbury on 28th October 1876.  He is remembered on panel 112 of the Museum of Western Australia’s ‘Welcome Wall’ at Fremantle.

©Katrina Vincent 2017. Written for the Convict Ancestors unit, University of Tasmania. A fully referenced PDF of this work is available on request.