Tuesday, 7 December 2021

The Callanan Family ... a Trove Tuesday post.

A recent theme regarding Government officials on the Gippsland History Facebook group prompted me to post about one Michael Callanan (1832-1920) who was a Government Surveyor here in Victoria from the 1860's until his retirement in 1895.  In turn, writing about Michael prompted me to write here about the ties between the Callanan family and our Pilkington family.

Here is my Facebook post about Michael:

Michael Callanan 1832-1920 District Surveyor based at Cranbourne in the 1870's. Involved in surveying land throughout South Gippsland. He was appointed Surveyor-General in 1894, a position he held until he retired the following year.
The Callanan family were great friends of my Pilkington family, the two families having known each other well back in county Clare, Ireland. They took my great uncles under their wing, so to speak, when they arrived in Australia in 1890 & 1895 respectively.

Michael Callanan, Victorian Government surveyor
photo from Pilkington Family Collection

MR. MICHAEL CALLANAN. (1920, August 12). Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 - 1954), p. 13.
Retrieved December 2, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article171049903


Michael Callanan was the son of Edmund (Ned) Callanan and Bridget nee Connelly.  They were a prosperous Roman Catholic family with a farm in Kilmacduane Parish between Kilrush and Ennis in county Clare, Ireland.

The first indication of the friendship between the Callanan's and Pilkington's is in 1838, recorded in Charlotte Keane's diary.  My 2x great grandfather Thomas Pilkington, who lived at Waterpark in Ennis, had been out to his property at Kiltrellig in the west of Clare.  On the ride home he felt unwell and stopped at Ned Callanan's house at Dangananelly to rest.  Recognising his friend was not well, Ned sent a messenger on to Ennis to ask for a cart to be sent to collect Thomas.  When the message arrived, my great grandfather, then 16 year old Thomas junior, saddled his horse and went on ahead to meet his father.  Unfortunately, the message was too late and by the time young Tom arrived his father had died.

Here is a short piece of narrative fiction I wrote about the event for UTAS Family History course.

A Man’s World

Ned Callanan clapped his hand on the boy’s shoulder.  “I’m sorry, lad.  He’s gone, God rest his soul.”

Tommy looked at the still form of his beloved father.  How could this be? Papa had always been so full of life, so indestructible.  Only three days ago, he had said goodbye to his family before riding out West to check on some property.  He hadn’t been expected home for some days yet.  No-one imagined they would not see his laughing face again. 

Late as it was when the messenger had arrived, 16-year-old Tommy had set off from Ennis with the covered car* immediately.  Ned told him his father had decided to come home early because he was feeling unwell.  He had stopped at the Callanan’s for a break, intending to wait only long enough to give his horse a rest.  Obviously ill, and with 24 miles still ahead of him so late in the day, Ned had persuaded him to stay and sent the messenger on.

And now Tommy had arrived too late.   He thought of Mama, and his four younger sisters, anxiously waiting at home for news.  Baby Charles, not even a year old, would never know his father.  What would happen to them all now?

With a quivering lip, young Tom took a ragged breath.  “Thank you, sir” he said to the older man beside him.  Squaring his shoulders he thought, I’ll have to be the man of the family now. Mama is going to need me.

*covered car – a jaunting car with oiled canvas sides to protect the passengers from the weather.

 Charlotte Keane’s diary – private family collection 
 Obituary from Clare Journal 26 March 1838, Clare Local Studies Centre.

Fifty-two years later, in 1890 young Tom's own son, my great uncle Fred Pilkington, left Ireland for Australia. Michael Callanan was by then well-established as a Government Surveyor, and would have been a good contact for a young lad newly arrived in the colony.  Fred spent his first few years in Australia working with survey parties throughout Gippsland.  

In 1895, Fred's brothers Dan and Alfred also arrived in Australia.  Dan joined Fred surveying, but Alfred had become ill on the voyage over and stayed in Melbourne for treatment, being looked after by Michael Callanan's family.

Unfortunately, Alfred succumbed to his illness and passed away only a couple of months after arriving. With his brothers both away in the bush, the Callanan's took care of all the arrangements, and that's how my Protestant great-uncle Alfred came to be resting in peace in the Roman Catholic section of the St. Kilda Cemetery.

Over the years, for Fred and Dan, and later my grandfather Charlie, a visit down to Melbourne would often include a trip out to Essendon to visit the Callanans.  

Michael's son Ernest was a dentist in Leongatha for some years, and served as an Honorary Lieutenant in the Australian Army Medical Corps during World War 1.  Sons Frank and Jack settled in the Cranbourne area, where Frank represented the community as a shire councillor for many years. 

Here is another picture from the family collection, of Ernie Callanan, axe in hand and looking very much a "chip off the old block".

Ernest Septimus Callanan
Pilkington Family Collection

Note: Ernest Septimus was sometimes recorded as Ernest Sebastian

Friday, 19 November 2021

What's in a name?

 What's in a name? 

One of the things that intrigues me about family history is the way names have been used throughout the generations.  The same names passed down the generations, the use of mother's maiden surnames as second given names for children, the so-called traditional naming patterns found in Ireland & Scotland and the patronymic naming system historically used in Scandinavia.

One example in my family tree is Marcus, so I thought it might be interesting to trace the various Marcus's back through the generations.  

MARCUS - according to Wikipedia, Marcus is an ancient name of Roman origins, most likely deriving from Mars, the Roman god of war. 

The current owner of the name is my nephew, my sister's son.  In the interest of privacy, I'm not going to elaborate on him. My sister named him in honour of our "Uncle" Mark, in reality my father's 2nd cousin Marcus Griffin (1921-1997).  His daughter and my sister are close in age and have been great friends since childhood.

In turn, Uncle Mark was named for his own uncle, Marcus Harvey Griffin (1867-1899), my 1st cousin twice removed. This Marcus was born in Ireland, the youngest in a family of 10 children.  He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in South Africa during the Boer War, where he died aged 32 in a railway accident at Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal.

                                            The Transvaal War, Casualties at the Front. 
                             Illustration for The Illustrated London News, 30 December 1899.

                                                                      London Morning Post 8 December 1899

Going further back, it's reasonable to assume that Marcus Harvey Griffin was named for his mother's uncle Marcus Keane (1815-1883), my 3x great uncle.  At the time of her marriage in 1851, Marcus Keane gifted to his niece a cottage in Kilbaha, county Clare, which is still owned by her descendants today.  Marcus Keane is remembered for his role as a land agent for the extensive Conyngham and Westby estates, among others. His actions during the famine years in evicting tenant farmers from their small holdings made him very unpopular with the local people.  There are at least 7 other Marcus's who descend from the Keane family.


                                                                   Marcus Keane of Beechpark 1815-1883
                                                                      photo from Pilkington Family Collection

Marcus's mother, Jane (nee Delahunty) had an uncle Marcus Delahunty (circa 1750-1814), my 5x great uncle.  I don't know much about him, but there are another 5 Marcus's down the line in the Delahunty family.

Once again, Marcus Delahunty appears to have been named for an uncle - his mother's brother Marcus Paterson (1712-1786), my 6x great-uncle.  This Marcus was a lawyer and politician. He became Solicitor General for Ireland, and Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas.  
Marcus Paterson - Wikipedia gives details of his career.
Marcus Paterson had a son and a nephew also named Marcus, from whom at least another three Marcus Paterson's descend.  

There is a Rev. Marcus Paterson who is a contemporary of this Marcus's father Montrose Paterson, and very likely his brother, but I have been unable to locate positive confirmation of this relationship.

So, there it is - just over 300 years, spanning nine or possibly ten generations and including at least 24 babies named Marcus.  That's quite a tradition!

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Epidemics across the years...

The inspiration for this post came while I was researching my Quaker ancestors in Ireland. The comprehensive records kept by the Quakers have allowed me to trace back to my 7x great grandmother Mary Sparrow who married in Wexford in 1662.  The marriage record tells me her father was Richard Sparrow and her mother Jane.  Searching for further information on the Sparrow family led me to the records for St Stephens parish in Norwich, England, where a Richard Sparrow, baker, and his wife Joan/Joane/Jane began baptising their children in 1644.  I don't think these records belong to 'my' Sparrow family, but they may do.

Norwich, England 1666 - Bubonic Plague

May 15 - the burial register for St. Stephen's parish in Norwich records the first death attributed to "the plague".  

Bubonic plague is a bacterial infection transmitted by fleas which live on small mammals such as rats. It was Bubonic Plague that was "The Great Plague" of London in 1665, estimated to be responsible for the deaths of up to 100,000 people.  Norwich, a provincial city situated between London and the Norfolk coastal town of Yarmouth also succumbed to the plague.  The crowded streets and lack of sanitation typical of the times meant that the plague spread rapidly.

There is no marriage record for Richard and Joan in the St. Stephen's register, but the first baptism for a child of theirs is for Mary in 1644.  If Joan was from a neighbouring parish then it is likely that the marriage took place there. I also suspect that there may have been an older child also named Mary, as there are two burials for Mary, daughter of Richard Sparrow the baker in 1644 and 1645.  There was also another Mary born to the couple in 1659. This is why I think it unlikely that this is the family of my Mary Sparrow.

By the time the plague hit Norwich in 1666, Richard and Joan were the parents of six surviving children. Unfortunately the highly infectious disease hit their little family hard and in the space of three weeks four of their children were dead. The first was 12 year old Margaret on the 20th October, followed by 7 year old Mary on 3rd November, 14 year old Rose on 5th November and 2 year old Thomas on 7th November.  Only James aged 16 and Richard aged 11 and their parents survived. It is impossible to imagine the heartache and grief Richard and Joan must have gone through at the time.

Page after page in the St. Stephens register records the deaths of townspeople, with the notation 'of the plague'.  At the end of March* the Church Wardens recorded in the register: Buryed this year, of the plague 246. Of all illnesses 291. 

* at that time the calendar year commenced on 1st April, so March 1666 was later than December 1666.

from the burial register of St Stephen's parish, Norwich
for the year 1666

Ennis, Ireland 1832 - Cholera

August 16 - Dr. Charles Keane lay on his death bed in his rented rooms in Ennis, county Clare.  With him were his young wife Sarah, and various family and friends including his younger sister Charlotte. It is thanks to Charlotte recording the events surrounding his death in her journal that we have this record.

Waterford Chronicle 9 June 1832
(from Findmypast.com)

Charles Robert Keane was the eldest son of Robert Keane of Beechpark, county Clare, and brother of my 2x great grandmother Anne Keane Pilkington. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin before graduating with his medical degree from University of Edinburgh in August 1831.  Back in Ireland he commenced practice in Limerick at the Nunnery Hospital. 

The cholera epidemic of 1832 had spread across Europe over the preceding couple of years, with the first cases recorded in Ireland in March.  Charlotte records the first case in Ennis on the 8th June, when she writes of driving in to Ennis that day and being turned back. She reports seeing the Miltown road full of cars laden with luggage - all fleeing the cholera.  

On the 10 June, the Board of Health sent a delegation to Dublin requesting doctors to come and assist in Ennis. Charles Keane met up with the delegation when they stopped in Limerick to change coaches.  He caught the return coach to Ennis to investigate the situation in his home town first hand.  On his arrival he went directly to the fever hospital where he found 6 dead bodies and no physician to care for the living and dying.  Newspaper reports of the day state that the local physicians refused to attend the hospital, so Dr Charles Keane took charge himself. 

For the next 2 months, Charles spent every night at the hospital tending to the sick and dying, returning to his rooms to snatch a few hours sleep each morning.  On the 10 July he visited his family at Beechpark.  Charlotte writes when he said good bye, little did they know it would be the last words he would speak in the family home.

On Sunday 12 August Charlotte went in to Ennis to attend church, after which she called to see Charles and Sarah. She had received a message saying Charles was ill.  The following day, word came that Charles was very much better.  Plans were commenced to arrange a break at Miltown to allow Charles to rest and recover.  However this was not to be - on the 15th her brother Giles came and told Charlotte that Charles had taken a relapse that afternoon and was now very ill. Charlotte went to him at once and finding him very unwell, stayed all night.  Her graphic description of that night is harrowing, it being obvious to all that he was dying.  She writes of his unquenchable thirst, severe stomach cramps, and the cold beads of perspiration which she constantly wiped from his brow.  

Charles was visited throughout the night by a steady stream of family and friends, some staying for a while, others too upset at the sight of him to remain.  Charles took great comfort from the presence of the minister Mr. Young, as he made his peace with the world and prepared to meet his Maker.  He dictated messages to Charlotte to pass on.  He even shared a last pinch of snuff with his brother-in-law Tom Pilkington, my 2x great grandfather.

The long night finally came to an end, and with the dawn light streaming through the window came the sound of Irish keening for a man in the house directly opposite.  Throughout the morning, Charles lapsed into unconsciousness and by midday there was a large crowd gathered in the street outside, as the townspeople learned that their popular young doctor was dying.  Shortly before 2 pm, Charles roused briefly, then breathed his last and passed away.

Cholera continued its devastation in Ennis over the next few weeks, but by mid-October the worst had passed and the fever hospital closed.  Across Ireland, it is estimated that 50,000 people died during this epidemic.

Charles Kean Obituary
Limerick Chronicle 22 August 1832
(from Findmypast.com)

Melbourne, Australia 2020 - COVID-19

March 6th - almost eight months ago now, and actually the last time I went anywhere.  Anywhere, that is, other than going to work or to the local shops to buy food and household supplies.

On that day we went into the city for an appointment, catching the train in early to make a day of it. We wandered the streets amongst the crowds of city workers, shoppers and sightseers, enjoyed a leisurely lunch in an arcade cafe, then crossed the Yarra to Southbank, where we took in the spectacular 360-degree views of Melbourne and surrounds from Skydeck on the 88th floor of Eureka Tower. We spent a couple of hours in that confined space, packed with visitors from across the globe, as evidenced by the variety of languages and accents.  Along with everyone else we touched the glass as we pointed out landmarks, held onto the rails on the viewing deck, and bumped into people as we made our way around the room.  Leaving there we made our way home, standing room only on the crowded commuter train.

View from Skydeck
©K. Vincent 2020

Little did we know how quickly things were to change! Our news bulletins over December and January had been filled with the horrors of the summer bushfires, but in amongst these stories were reports of a mystery respiratory illness causing concern somewhere in China.  Living under a blanket of bushfire smoke, it didn't really seem relevant to us at the time, and hey - who'd even heard of Wuhan anyway?

February brought stories of the cruise ship Diamond Princess, quarantined off the coast of Japan with growing numbers of sick passengers.  Our nightly current affairs show brought us a video diary recorded by an Australian couple on board, telling the story of their isolation.  Poor buggers, we thought.

On the 11 March, the World Health Organisation declared the corona virus outbreak a pandemic, and on 16 March the Victorian Government declared a State of Emergency.  By the 20th, Australia had closed its national border to all except returning residents.  The advice from our state Health Department was to ensure we had enough food and supplies to last for 2 weeks, in case we had to self-quarantine. So began the panic buying, although it seemed that the item in highest demand was toilet paper, which disappeared off the shelves as fast as the supermarkets could stack it. 

Then the restrictions - if you can stay at home, you must stay home. Four reasons to leave home - food & essential supplies, seeking or giving care, work or education if it cant be done at home, and one hour of exercise per day.  Social media was full of hashtags #flatten the curve #stayathome, memes and song parodies based on corona virus. It was all mildly humorous and a bit of an adventure really.  Three weeks, they said. Three weeks to flatten the curve, and then we'd be right. Our Prime Minister recommended we all go out and buy jigsaw puzzles to pass the time.

©K. Vincent 2020

Well, here we are in October and it's not over yet, not anywhere near it.  We did indeed flatten the curve, but perhaps we got a bit complacent because then we got the 2nd wave.  Certainly there have been mistakes, and things that would have been done differently with the benefit of hindsight.  But amongst all the name-calling, back-stabbing and finger-pointing, one clear fact remains - if people could be trusted to follow the guidelines - ie self-isolate at home when required, we never would have needed hotel quarantine or security guards, and 905 people including dozens of vulnerable elderly in our community would not have lost their lives. If anything good can come out of this, it is the exposure of the absolute disgrace that is our aged care industry.

I'm one of the lucky ones - as a health care worker, I still have a job and I get to leave home each day and interact with people.  On the other hand, I am unlucky in that I am exposed everyday to other people who may not treat this as seriously as I do, and risk not only catching the virus myself but also transporting it home to my loved ones.  Telehealth, Webex and PPE are now part of our normal routine, as is communicating from behind a face mask and fogged-up plastic face shield across a distance of 1.5 metres while trying to use only your eyes to instil some meaning into your conversation.  Currently it is estimated 1.13 million people worldwide have died from Covid-19. Thank goodness we have not (yet) seen the horror of overwhelmed and overrun hospitals that we see from overseas.  I hope we never do.

© K. Vincent 2020

Monday, 27 April 2020

Family History Month 2019 …

I wrote this post back in August last year, which was Family History Month, but didn't post it because I was waiting for my certificate to arrive in the mail. Then, when it did arrive, I just forgot...

What could possibly be a better way to celebrate Family History Month than graduating with a Diploma of Family History?  Not that I ever set out to do the Diploma, it just sort of happened!

I’ve always wanted to write about my family history.  We have such a rich collection of family memorabilia in the form of letters, diaries and photographs, dating back 150 years or more.  With each successive generation though, these resources are becoming more scattered as they are passed down in various branches of the family.  I wanted to use these as a basis for presenting our family story in a format that would not only be accessible, but also informative and interesting to the reader. But where and how to start?

Back in about October or November of 2015, I heard of a free, on-line study unit at University of Tasmania, titled “Writing Family History”.  This caught my interest, and I enrolled. Over the next few weeks we explored different writing styles and were given a selection of topics for which we had to write a weekly 250 word piece. These were submitted and critiqued by our fellow students.  Our final assessment task was a 1000 word story.  I loved writing those short weekly stories.   Grandfather’s Violin and New Beginnings, previously published on this blog, are two of my stories. 
Six months later, another unit became available – “Writing the Family Saga”.  This followed a similar format, building on the skills learnt in the first unit, but requiring us to link different generations of family using a common theme. In  addition to the short weekly stories, there were two longer assessments.  Both of these have been previous blog posts – Kilbaha – Here and There and Mary Emily Way – my 2x Great Grandmother.

The following year (2017) another unit “Place, Image, Object” became available.  This was the unit I enjoyed the most, and  learned a lot from.  In reality it was three different subjects combined into one unit.  The Place component involved mapping skills, the Image part taught skills in dating old photographs, and Object required researching a family heirloom to trace history and provenance.  Grandmother’s Teapot is my assessment piece for this unit.

By now, I had been notified by University of Tasmania that they had combined these units with others to offer the Diploma in Family History.  I wasn’t really interested at this stage, but continued to enrol for units that interested me, or assisted me in my own research.
Next up was “Convict Ancestors”.  I thought this might be a good chance for me to prove conclusively whether my 3x great grandfather William Humphries, born about 1796 in Shropshire, England, was or was not the convict William Humphries who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1819.  Unfortunately, there is just not enough evidence to make a convincing argument either way.  Instead, I found Richard Pilkington from county Clare, Ireland, who might or might not be a relative, but was definitely a convict.  So Richard’s story became my assignment, in Transported for Ten Years.

Continuing the convict theme was “Convicts in Context”, the only compulsory unit in the Diploma.  The unit looked at the wider convict experience rather than just one person. Whether because I didn’t have my own convict relative, or because I subconsciously rebelled at ‘having to do it’, I found this unit an effort.

“Families at War” focused on the First World War. Once again, I didn’t have a family member of my own to write about, instead choosing my husband’s grandfather James Joshua Perry.  In the Service of his Country tells of his war experience and post war civilian life.  This unit was probably the heaviest in terms of the research involved and the volume of material available, but I really enjoyed it and learned so much from my research.

It was about this point that I suddenly realised I had completed 6 units and only needed 2 more to obtain the Diploma –  that was when I made the decision to actually keep going!  So then followed “Photo Essay” and “Oral History”, both of which gave me some useful techniques for recording and presenting family stories.  I also managed to sneak in an extra subject - “Introduction to Family History”.

Having completed all units by the end of 2018, it was a long wait until 17th August this year for Graduation Day.  I didn't travel to Tasmania to attend in person, so am now looking forward to the postman delivering my certificate in due course.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

1835 - Alfred Haughton's Eventful Year ...

One of the things I love about family history is finding previously unknown “cousins”, and sharing information.  You just never know what precious items might be tucked away in a shoebox at the back of a cupboard somewhere else in the world.

A couple of years ago, I connected with a third cousin. We share great-great grandparents Alfred Haughton (1808-1858) and Henrietta nee Osburne (1802 -1878). The Haughtons were Quakers, and lived at Ardreigh, near Athy in county Kildare, Ireland, where Alfred owned the mill on the River Barrow. I have written about my adventures exploring my Haughton ancestors in an earlier post.

I was able to give my new-found cousin some Haughton photographs from my family collection, and in return she shared a document recently found among some old family papers. What a treasure that turned out to be!

Alfred Haughton
photo from the Pilkington Family Collection, kindly shared by Tom Pilkington

1835 was an eventful year for the Haughton family. At the end of the year, Alfred sat down and wrote his review of the year’s events.  How amazing that we are able to read his own words now, almost 185 years later.

Review of the year 1835, by Alfred Haughton
Oh help me dear memory to count over the Lord’s love to me during the past year – & may my gratitude be daily increased & shown both by obedience to His commands & acceptance of His love.

In the Spring of the year a ruffian came into my house at night and would have killed me, but the Omnipotent enabled me to trust in Him and gave me courage & firmness, & made the other a trembling coward & no harm happened for the Lord protected me & mine

In the Summer when going to the sea with my wife and child, the horse fell under the car. I was thrown off with my boy in my arms but no harm happened for the Lord protected us. The same season I went to bathe, saw what I deemed to be deep water, dived down, came with force against a rock – but no harm happened for the Lord protected me.

In the Autumn my wife after giving birth to my daughter was on the brink of expiring but the Lord turned from the fierceness of His wrath – no harm happened for the Lord had mercy on me!!!

The same season the Lord put it into the hearts of my three brothers to make me a present of some hundreds of pounds – “for the silver and gold are His and He gives them to whomsoever He pleases” – and he tries every way to win me to His love. ----- -----

In this month Dick my first born, my darling boy was seized with fever – my beloved wife was so uneasy about him the milk she was nursing my baby daughter with became poisonous & had she given it her any longer my baby would have died – the dear infant suffered much from the want of the nourishment the Lord had so tenderly supplied. He shewed me His love by sending quickly a proper nurse for my child – my darling boy is recovering – no harm has happened in this chastening – Therefore “what shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me. I will take the cup of Salvation and call upon the Lord.”


Alfred was the youngest son of Samuel Pierson Haughton (1748-1828) and his third wife Mary Pim (1762-1832).  The three brothers he refers to were likely his full siblings James, John and William, although he also had two older half-brothers.  All three were well established in their chosen careers by the time Alfred wrote this review. ‘Some hundreds of pounds’ would have been a considerable sum in 1835.

James Haughton (1795-1873)                 
Merchant and noted social reformer,     
active in the Temperance movement 
and anti-slavery cause. Often referred 
to as ‘Vegetable’ Haughton due to his 
vegetarian lifestyle.
By BPL - James Haughton, Public Domain,

John Haughton (1796-1845)                               
Miller – owned Barrow Mills in Graigue, 
Queen's county, (now county Laois).  
John Haughton’s wife was Louisa Courtauld 
Osburne, sister of Alfred’s wife Henrietta.

Silhouette picture of John Haughton. 
Kindly shared by Anita Hansen, Iowa, USA

William Haughton (1799-1877) 
Partner with his brother James in 
Haughton Merchants & Flour Factors 
based in Dublin.  Also Chairman of 
Great Southern & Western Railway 
Company of Ireland.

William Haughton. Picture shared on ancestry.com by Theo Haughton 2008

The baby daughter born in Autumn was my great grandmother Mary Haughton, who I have written about in Ordinary Women.  Her birthdate was 29th August, according to her baptism record.  Her brother, the little boy sick with fever, was named John, so perhaps Dick was a nickname used within the family.  John, Mary and their younger brother Henry were all baptised together in Painestown, Carlow on 7 March 1838.  

my great grandmother, Mary Haughton
photo from the Pilkington Family Collection


2 May 1835 - Belfast Commercial Chronicle - Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland 
From Irish Newspapers at findmypast.com

It was also an eventful year for the ‘ruffian’ identified as Henry Rainsford.  As reported in the newspapers, Henry was charged and convicted on 9th July 1835 at the Kildare Assizes.  According to the harsh justice of the times he was sentenced to death by hanging, but records show that was later commuted to transportation for life. 

16 July 1835 - Mayo Constitution - Castlebar, Mayo, Republic of Ireland
From Irish newspapers at Findmypast.com

                                                                                                  14 August 1835 - Athlone Sentinel - Athlone, Westmeath, Republic of Ireland 
                                           From Irish Newspapers at Findmypast.com

Henry Rainsford (sometimes recorded as Ransford) was transported to New South Wales on the ship Hive, departing Cove on 24th August with 250 male convicts on board.  At least poor Henry didn’t have to spend months or years in prison before departing.  He left behind his wife Bridget and two children – 4 year old Elizabeth and 1 year old John. I wonder how Bridget fared with 2 small children to bring up on her own?

Henry’s arrival in NSW was a dramatic one, with the Hive running aground in the sand near Jervis Bay south of Sydney during the night of the 9th December.  After making it to shore with the loss of only one crew member, the remaining travelers had to await rescue from Sydney, finally reaching their destination on 24th December.

ANOTHER SHIPWRECK. (1835, December 14). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 3. 
Retrieved July 6, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28654515

The story of the convicts on board Hive has been told in the book “The Luck of the Irish” by Babette Smith (Allen & Unwin 2014)

From the convict records, Henry was 36 years old, married with 2 children.  He was Roman Catholic and could read and write.  His former employment was as a boatman and labourer.  His convict record appears unremarkable, achieving a ticket-of-leave on 15th April 1844, the conditions of which confined him to the district of Penrith.  This was amended on 8th June to allow him to travel between Liverpool Plains and Penrith in the service of his employer Mr. John Single.  Henry was granted his conditional pardon on 9th June 1849, after which I have found no further record of him.  He may have moved to another colony, or even changed his name to conceal his convict background.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

A Picnic When Cars Were Few ... a Trove Tuesday post.

If the internet had been around 50 or 60 years ago, I’m sure my mother would have been a blogger.  She loved to write, and for a few years when we children were small, she wrote a weekly column in a national church newspaper chronicling our family life.  I intend to share extracts of those in future posts. 

In 1961, mum had an article published in the Literary Supplement which came with The Age newspaper every Saturday.  She received a cheque in the amount of £6/6/- as payment, a sum which would have been a welcome addition to the household income.  Here is her story, a recollection of her own childhood days in the 1920s-30s.


by Dorothy Pilkington

It is generally accepted as the prerogative of double chins, walking sticks and snowy hair to reflect upon bygone days.  The excusable exception is surely when one’s eight-year-old pride and joy naively inquires, “Mummy, did you live in the olden days?”  “What olden days?” I exploded, as a plate I was wiping crashed to the floor in profound sympathy.  Yes, what indeed?

Much later, when the child had long since forgotten the query, it remained with me, an impression searing into my consciousness the realisation that there is now another generation which has the audacity to relegate a 38-year-old to “the olden days” in precisely the same manner in which we regarded our parents in days of yore!

Never will my family experience the thrill of a large family picnic, held twice yearly (Boxing Day and Easter Monday, rain or shine), in horse-drawn furniture vans rattling along the Point Nepean Road to the mecca of all picnic parties of the era, at the Mordialloc Creek.

There were aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and in-laws of all degrees; everyone highly attuned in eager anticipation of the day ahead.  The flappers pioneering the “new look” of the Charleston period, giggling in innocent delight at their daring.  The mothers dressed sombrely in blouse and long skirts, with parasols and big, floppy hats with fly nets attached; the older men with their droopy moustaches and beards, wearing hairy tweeds, heavily steeped in a combined aroma of pipe tobacco and beer.

For the female members of the family the day was the culmination of many weeks’ culinary preparations.  The delightful unpacking of lunch baskets, full of delectable mysteries, never failed to make our child eyes goggle, and set our salivary mechanism working overtime.

We children were critically appraised by the various aunts, while our rate of growth since the last occasion appeared to provide them with much comparative material to aid their wholesome exclamations: “My, hasn’t she grown. She’s getting so like you, dear!”

For the afternoon activities, races of all descriptions were organised by the younger men, with the elder sitting on the sidelines contentedly drawing on their pipes and dozing in the sunshine. Huge quantities of boiled lollies were consumed by the youngsters, vying with each other for the most colorful patterns.

Sunset was the curfew for our departure, tired, sticky, full beyond measure with a sense of happiness complete; snuggling upon the laps of grown-ups in sheer exhaustion; the lusty singing of nostalgic airs to the accompaniment of a piano accordion, wafting us to sleep with the gentle clip-clop, clip-clop of the faithful horses’ shod hooves.

Curses upon the motor car, even then finding favour; spewing oil and grease upon the road until the fateful night when one of the horses slipped …

As I speed along the Nepean Highway today in all the splendour of gleaming chrome and superbly sprung luxury, keeping apace with the modern tempo of living, I hark back in wonder to those leisured days.

Would that my children could experience but one facet of the life we once glimpsed – yet so briefly.

published in The Age, 22nd July 1961.

Mordialloc appears to have been a popular destination for a day at the seaside, being easily accessible by train, or by the Point Nepean Road (now Nepean Highway).  Not only family gatherings, but Sunday School picnics, annual trade and company outings were popular, regularly reported in the newspapers of the day.

"WHERE TO SPEND A HOLIDAY." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 
23 December 1924: 7. Web. 28 Apr 2019 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2090237>. 

Mordialloc was also noted for its annual carnival held over the summer holiday period from 1924 through to 1939.  It featured parades, amusements, side-shows, sporting events and other activities and was a popular holiday attraction.  The history of the Mordialloc Carnival has been written about here in the Kingston Local History website.

"HOLIDAY RESORTS." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 
10 January 1927: 15. Web. 28 Apr 2019 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3831327>. 

Mum’s mother, my grandmother, was one of five daughters of John Grant and Elizabeth nee Duffy.  John’s own grandfather, also John Grant, had settled in Brighton in the 1840’s, and ran a successful carrier business.  The extended Grant family were well established in the district, with four generations all raising families there.  The younger John, and his brother William, both had carrier businesses.  It was likely company vans which ferried the families to their bi-annual picnics.  I have tried to find a newspaper reference to the accident involving the horse slipping on the greasy road, but without a specific date range it has proved unsuccessful.

Postcard of Mordialloc Creek 1919 

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Somebody’s Darling …

In keeping with what seems to have become a tradition for my Anzac Day posts, I thought for this year I would use this poem which I found in an album belonging to my grandmother’s sister, my great-aunt Belle Dewar.  

We stumbled across Aunty Belle’s album only a year or so ago, tucked into a bookcase at my brother’s home.  No-one recalls ever seeing it before, and no-one knows how it got there, but it must have been passed on at some time by an older family member.  The album is dated 1884, when Belle would have been about nineteen.  It contains poems and writings which obviously struck a chord with her, as well as sketches and autograph-style entries from family and friends.

This particular poem was entered in the album on 26/09/1885 by “Madge”, who I think was the wife of Belle’s eldest brother Jimmy.  Although it pre-dates the Anzac era, the sentiments expressed are just as relevant today, highlighting the tragedy that is war.  Somebody’s Darling was written during the American Civil War by Marie Ravenal de la Coste, a nurse in Savannah, Georgia whose own fiance had been killed while fighting with the Confederate army. It was first published in 1864.


Into a ward of the white washed walls,
Where the dead and dying lay,
Wounded by bayonets, shells and balls,
Somebody’s darling was borne one day.

Somebody’s darling so young and brave
Wearing yet on his pale sweet face,
Soon to be hid by the dust of the grave,
The lingering light of his boyhood’s grace.

Matted and damp are the curls of gold
Kissing the snow of that fair young brow;
Pale are the lips of delicate mold –
Somebody’s darling is dying now.

Back from the beautiful blue-veined brow
Brushed all the wandering waves of gold;
Cross his hands on his bosom now;
Somebody’s darling is still and cold.

Kiss him once for somebody’s sake,
Murmur a prayer soft and low;
One bright curl from it’s fair mates take;
They were somebody’s pride you know.

Somebody’s hand has rested there;
Was it a mother’s soft and white?
And have the lips of a sister fair
Been baptized in the waves of light?

God knows best! He was somebody’s love,
Somebody’s heart enshrined him there.
Somebody wafted his name above,
Night and morn on the wings of prayer.

Somebody wept when he marched away,
Looking so handsome brave and grand;
Somebody’s kiss on his forehead lay;
Somebody clung to his parting hand.

Somebody’s watching and waiting for him,
Yearning to hold him again to her heart;
And there he lies with his blue eyes dim,
And the smiling child-like lips apart.

Tenderly bury the fair young dead,
Pausing to drop on his grave a tear;
Carve on the wooden slab at his head,
“Somebody’s darling slumbers here.”

Marie Ravenal de la Coste,
Savannah, Georgia 1864