Thursday, 18 October 2018

James Dewar …

                                   James Dewar 1829-1907

James Dewar
                                                                 from Pilkington Family Collection

My great-grandfather James Dewar was born in the village of Kincardine, on the Firth of Forth in Perthshire, Scotland on 20 April 1829. He was the seventh of eight children born to James Dewar, a baker, and his wife Margaret Abercrombie.

In times past Kincardine was a prosperous sea port and major ferry point for crossing the Firth. In the early 1800’s it comprised major ship-building yards and associated industries, salt-mining works, a distillery and collieries.  In 1819 Kincardine village had a population of 1200, although many more people would have lived in the surrounding area.

By 1841, James senior had moved his bakery business to Dunfermline, ten miles away in the neighbouring county of Fifeshire. Only James junior and his younger brother Alexander were still living with their parents.  Later, the family moved again, to the village of Calderbank in Lanarkshire, where Margaret Abercrombie had come from. The 1851 census recorded James (senior), Margaret and Alexander living at Pettigrew’s Land, Calderbank.  James was still listed as a baker, while 19 year old Alexander was employed as a puddler in the local coal mining industry. There is no record of great-grandfather James with the family at this time, and I have been unable to conclusively identify him in the 1851 census in Scotland.

The circumstances surrounding James’s emigration to Australia are subject to speculation as I have been unable to establish with any certainty when and why he arrived. His death certificate states his time in the colony as 51 years in Victoria, giving an arrival year of 1856.  The closest match I have found is 20 year old James Dewar who sailed from Glasgow on the Brooksby, arriving in Port Phillip on 14 October 1852.

The 1850’s were the height of the Gold Rush to Victoria, and it is reasonable to assume the goldfields would have been the destination of most single young men arriving in the colony at this time. In 1856 there is a James Dewar on the Electoral Roll listed as having a Miner’s Right at Golden Point near Castlemaine. The following year, a newspaper report of a land sale at Castlemaine records James Dewar as having purchased 28 acres on Golden Point Road for the sum of £36.10.0. There are newspaper listings of unclaimed mail for James Dewar, held at the GPO Melbourne between 1852 and 1854, and at Castlemaine Post Office between 1855 and 1857.  Although this scenario would fit with what we know about James’ life, there is no certainty that this is the same man.

Golden Point diggings 1852
Ham, Thomas, and D. Tulloch. GOLDEN POINT, MT. ALEXANDER. [picture], 1852.

The first conclusive evidence of James in Victoria is his 1859 marriage to Margaret Hill in Geelong.  English-born Margaret arrived in Port Phillip in 1856, giving her occupation as housemaid.  According to their marriage certificate, James was a quarryman. They settled in the Geelong area, where six children were born between 1860 and 1870.  At the time that daughter Rosa was born in 1866, James was a ratepayer in nearby Batesford.

James was a member of the Corio branch of the Sons of Temperance Society between 1867 and 1869.  This was a brotherhood movement founded to support its members in resisting the evils of alcohol, spread the temperance message and provide assistance in times of distress.

By 1871, the family were living at Tootgarook on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, where James was appointed to the Primary School committee.  In 1872 a seventh child was born, and in 1874 my grandmother Evelyn completed the family.  On both birth certificates, James’ occupation is Limeburner. Lime was an important ingredient for Melbourne’s building trade, and lime kilns were established in the area from the 1830’s.

In 1874, reports appeared in the news about a potential site for development of a lime industry at Waratah Bay on Victoria’s southern coast.  By 1878 James was appointed manager of the new works, a position he held until his death. The settlement of Waratah, later renamed Walkerville, grew around the kilns on the foreshore, with access only by sea in the early years.  (I have previously written about the history of Walkerville in another post.) Additional civic duties James performed were Post Master, Electoral Registrar and Assistant Inspector of Fisheries. Throughout his time at Walkerville, James held the contract for maintenance of the wharf and jetty lights, being paid an additional £15 per annum.  Family stories suggest he also acted in the capacity of Undertaker. Margaret undertook teaching the children of the settlement until a teacher was appointed.

In a memoir of her life at Walkerville, grand-daughter Hope remembers her grandfather’s broad Scots accent and sometimes lurid language as he supervised the loading of bagged lime into the ships at the jetty.  The loading required meticulous attention because of the combustible nature of lime should it come into contact with water during the voyage to Melbourne.  Hope also recalled James spending time in his extensive vegetable garden behind his home.

In his later years, James had a leg amputated after a wound became infected, a potentially fatal condition in the years before antibiotics.  On the 4th October 1907, the men working on the jetty noticed smoke billowing from the bedroom window of the manager’s house. They hurried back to find the old Scotsman unconscious on the floor. Apparently he had been lighting a candle and suffered a stroke.  The burning mattress was dragged onto the beach, where Hope remembers it smouldering all day.  James lingered for 6 days, passing away on 10th October 1907.

James was interred beside Margaret, who had died in 1899, in the cemetery on the hill above the bay where he had lived and worked for 30 years. His estate valued at £2438 was divided equally between his eight children.

Dewar graves - Walkerville Cemetery 
                                                                                                        © Pilkington Family Collection

Today, Walkerville is a quiet and picturesque place, popular in summer for boating and fishing. A few holiday homes dot the hillside behind the remains of the kiln chimneys, and a single timber pillar remains of the long jetty which once curved out into the bay. The wall containing the fireplace of James Dewar’s home has been incorporated into a retaining wall along the roadside leading to the beach.

This work was originally written for the "Introduction to Family History" unit, University of Tasmania's Diploma of Family History.  A fully referenced PDF of this biography is available on request.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Doondahlin …

Amongst the treasure trove of memorabilia belonging to our extended family is the following picture, painted on a thin sheet of masonite.  It is labelled “Doondahlin” and bears the artists initials of ‘A.E.’.  An identical picture hangs on the wall at a cousin’s beach house.  These pictures would have been a reminder of home to my Irish relatives.

Doondahlin, date unknown, by 'A.E.'
 from Pilkington Family Collection

Doondahlin was one of the homes associated with my family back in Ireland, and which in present times is a ruin.  I had no idea who ‘A.E.’ might be, as the initials did not relate to any known family. 

The painting  was brought to mind again a few months ago when I received an email from a man in Ireland, seeking information about Doondahlin for a local history group.  So back to the family archives I went, to see what I could find out.

Doondahlin was the summer home of the Keane family of Beechpark, in Ennis, county Clare, Ireland.  It was built for my 3x great-uncle, the infamous Marcus Keane, probably in 1854.  An entry in his sister Charlotte’s diary in October of that year reads:  “Marcus is building a fine lodge on the cliffs at Kilbaha”.  Kilbaha is a small village by the shore of the Shannon Estuary on the Loop Head Peninsula in Clare.  These West Clare lands were the ancestral home of the Keanes (formerly O’Cahane, or Ó Catháin in Irish), and previous generations of the family had been well-respected in the area.

Doondahlin, sketched by Sarah Haughton in 1859

from Pilkington Family Collection

Marcus inherited his father’s land agency business, raising himself up the social and financial ladder by marrying the daughter of a wealthy absentee landlord, and taking on the management of his father-in-law’s extensive estates.  He became notorious during an Gorta Mór (The Great Famine) for his ruthless evictions of poor tenant farmers and the destruction of their homes. 

Doondahlin took its name from an ancient Irish hill fort, the remains of which were located on the same cliff top.  Dun Dahlin was one of four hill forts along this stretch of Loop Head Peninsula, the origins of which are based in legend.

Ring-Forts in the Barony of Moyarta, Co. Clare, and Their Legends
by Thomas Johnson Westropp

Part I.—From Loop Head to Carrigaholt
(Clare Library)

Marcus Keane considered himself something of a scholar on the subject of Irish antiquities, and wrote a book published in 1867 titled “The Towers and Temples of Ancient Ireland: their origin and history discussed from a new point of view”.  Perhaps it was this interest which led him to choose this site for his ‘fine lodge’.

In his book “The Houses of Clare”, Hugh Weir describes Doondahlin as a plain L-shaped, 2 storey house, with 3-bay front, and 4-bay wing along the east side, and a single-storey 3-bay wing on the west side.  According to this newspaper advertisement, there were 3 sitting rooms, 7 bedrooms and dressingrooms, 3 servants rooms, plus kitchen, pantries, and closets. I’ve also been told that the construction of the building included a layer of turf stacked between the double brick walls to act as insulation – probably necessary protection from the Atlantic gales blowing across that exposed cliff top.

Freemans Journal 2 June 1873
from Irish newspapers at

The house was used as a summer residence for Marcus, his wife Louisa and their children.  After Marcus’s death in 1883, Doondahlin passed to his son Marcus junior, who owned it until it was destroyed by fire in September 1921.  Marcus the younger’s daughter Helen has written some memories of her family’s life in Clare, and she writes of vividly remembering being at Beechpark one morning when a message was brought to say Doondahlin had been burnt the previous night.  This was during the War of Independence, during which the countryside was engulfed in trouble between the Republicans and the British troops including the dreaded Black and Tans. Doondahlin was targeted presumably in retribution for the actions of Marcus Keane during the previous century.
Marcus Keane filed a claim for compensation to the Irish Grants Committee in 1929.  I haven’t seen his claim myself, but I am told that it outlines a previous attempt at firing Doondahlin a few months earlier, which was thwarted by the attention of the caretaker.

So, back to the picture.  While searching for information to pass on to my Irish correspondent, I did a google search for “Doondahlin” and was surprised to find the following in an on-line art catalogue – a third copy of the very same picture, together with another of the view from Doondahlin across the Shannon to Mt. Brandon in Kerry.  Both pictures were surrounded by ‘folk art frames of oystershell’.  The pair of pictures had sold for $100 just a few months previously in October 2017.

The Australian Art Sales Digest, published by John Furphy Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, Australia.

According to the catalogue, the mystery ‘A.E.’ was an Irish/Australian artist by name of Annie Eldridge. Written on the rear of this picture was ‘Mrs. Eldridge, Rosehill, Buffalo Creek, South Gippsland’.   Buffalo is in the same district in South Gippsland where my family members from Ireland settled.

After some more investigation, I came up with two possibilities.  The first was Annie Eldridge nee Farrell, an Irish woman from county Galway, who was married to a William Eldridge. The couple ran a hotel in Wodonga for many years.  This one was promising, because a Farrell family were long-standing friends of my extended family in Gippsland, and the Eldridge family of Rosehill had a son named William.  It all seemed to fit perfectly – except that the Rosehill William Eldridge was married to someone else, and this Annie didn’t fit into the Farrell family we knew.  Additionally, I could not find anything linking this couple to South Gippsland.

The second possibility was Annie Eldridge the sister of William of Rosehill.  Although this Eldridge family were of English origins, not Irish, Annie married into a family with Irish connections.  She was born in 1866, making her a contemporary of my grandfather and his brothers, and she was definitely in the right location to be acquainted with my family.  I’m still unable to connect her to Doondahlin though, so not sure what opportunity she would have had to do the painting.  

All three pictures shown here - painting, sketch and photograph - are taken from a similar vantage point on the shore of Kilbaha Bay in front of what was Kiltrellig Lodge, home of my Pilkington family.  The Pilkington sisters who lived there took in paying guests to help make ends meet.  It is not unreasonable to imagine that IF Annie Eldridge had travelled to Ireland she may have sought accommodation with the family of her friends in Australia.

The ruins of Doondahlin, 2007
© K. Vincent 2007

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!