Wednesday, 12 July 2017
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
We have come a long way in tracing his wife, Mary (Polly) Atkins Ross's family, but the absolute facts about Charlie Ross are still few.
1. He was born in Greece in 1849. He went to sea as a young man or boy, sometime between the ages of 11 and 23. The earliest date would be 1860 as young boys often did join ships, or were commandeered to do so.
2. He became a sailor and spent some years at sea 'roving' and having adventures - minimum of five, maximum of twelve.
3. He settled in Port Pirie after arriving in Australia. The earliest date would be 1871 and the latest, circa: 1877, for enough years to be 'remembered.'
4. He moved to Gladstone circa. 1886 and worked there as a fishmonger as he had in Port Pirie.
5. He married Mary Atkins in 1888. He gave his father's name as Christie on the marriage certificate. This is most likely Christos or Chrysantheus.
6. He had five children to each of whom he gave at least one Greek name.
7. He anglicised his Greek name or adopted an English name after arriving in Australia or the Port Pirie report would have included another name for 'old Pirieans to recognise.
8. The Greek names he chose for his children, Constantinus, Anastasia, Vangelios, Chrysantheous, Christus and Spiro are likely to have family connections.
9. He died in 1907 and was buried in an Anglican cemetery.
10. His grand-daughter Flora RossSwincer was said to be the spitting image of him.
11. He had a very strong accent given the poor phonetic spelling of some of his children's names on birth records.
12. He was obviously an amiable and personable character, as stated in his obituary, given the fact that the death notice was reprinted in the Port Pirie newspaper more than twenty years after he had left the town, for the benefit of those who had known and remembered him fondly.
13. There is no record of him ever taking up citizenship. (Perhaps evidence that he did jump ship.)
Other possible facts drawn from family history are:
1. He was born on Ithaca, one of the Ionian Islands.
2. He 'jumped ship' at Port Germein and so entered Australia illegally.
3. He came out on his 'uncle's ship.'
4. He spoke a number of languages.
So the questions which still need to be answered are:
1. What was his Greek Christian name and surname?
2. Was he born on Ithaca? If so where?
3. Is his English name an anglicisation of his Greek name or something he adopted?
4. On what date and just how did he arrive in Australia.
The answers are still out there and may remain so but efforts will continue to find what we can.
Saturday, 11 March 2017
Image: Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins and her son by Edward Atkins, James Haynes Atkins.
Ancestry research involves bringing together the threads and knots of information and conjecture in an attempt to stitch together a full picture. Sometimes it just leads to more tangles and holes in the story.
What is heartening is how often we have been staring into such a 'hole' and then, later, find the information which fills it in. The plan now is to see if we can get some additional information from a professional researcher in Gloucestershire.
In the meantime, researcher, Luke Harris has some more thoughts on Elizabeth Mashford, and I post information as it comes to hand so that others might access it, even if we have not confirmed points made in the discussion:
"As for bigamy, I have looked into the laws at the time. There would have been enough evidence for the Police to investigate the matter, and for all we know if they saw the notice they may have questioned both Elizabeth and Edward.
However, if the Police laid a charged of bigamy the Courts more than likely may have found her not guilty. It all depends on what defence Elizabeth Atkins had. She could honestly claim she believed her husband was dead or believed he was dead because they had been no contact at all.
It happened a lot of time to many women in the 1800's, because even though divorce was available it was only on every narrows grounds and they was no legal aid and the cost of lawyers forced many men just to leave their wives especially during the gold rush era. As a result, the police were exposed to lots of cases of deserted wives.
However, common law expected that women should wait seven years before they decided to remarry and Elizabeth Lewis did not do this. As a result, it becomes a grey area of law and even if the police knew about the matter, they may have decided to do nothing about it.
When Josiah Mashford remarried, it was a clear-cut case because the police knew about his first wife and where she was. Nobody knew where Peter Lewis was or what happened to him, and Elizabeth Lewis was crafty because she said:
It may have been a case of him saying to Elizabeth, “you stay in Melbourne with the two kids and I will go to the gold fields” and he just never returned. It may have taken Elizabeth some time to work out she was a deserted wife.
Alternatively, in 1853 Jane Mashford married George O'Brien, in Melbourne and the Lewis family may have gone to Melbourne for the wedding and Peter Lewis took an opportunity to take off because The South Australian Police could not enforce any laws in Victoria. Nevertheless, Elizabeth Lewis returned to Adelaide very pregnant with Henry Lewis and without a husband.
Image: The overgrown gravesite in the Gladstone cemetery, of Elizabeth's daughter, Mary (Polly) Atkins Ross and her husband, Greek sailor, Charlie Ross.
The first piece of evidence that Elizabeth was in Gladstone was 1872 when she purchased the block of land so she did not leave him at the time of the notice, as far as we can tell. I think James Atkins, along with George and John Lewis, did get a block of land as well.
I use that term with a pinch of salt because they were urban working class people and victims of the Industrial Revolution, as so many were. The social conditions in the cities for working class people were terrible and as soon as a husband died they was no income and people could not pay the rent etc etc. There was a lot of poverty and Ann Atkins was on poor relief in 1861 and living as a lodger with her daughter Mary Ann Atkins.
It seems her other children were not helping her which suggests the family was not very close or the family bonds had broken down. Two sons, George and David ended up in gaol at different times. The oldest son Charles just suddenly dropped dead one day and there was a Coroner’s investigation.
However, the most interesting fact is Mary Ann Haines Atkins was committed to Gloucester County Lunatic Asylum and died there. I know you have to be careful about mental health issues and mental health hospital in the 1800's as many people were committed when they did not have a mental health problem, but two of Edward Atkins grandson ended up in Parkside hospital in Adelaide.
However, if she had a mortgage she would still have to find the money to pay the Bank. A good book about the history of welfare in South Australia in the 1800's is called “Rations Residence Resources: A history of social welfare in South Australia since 1836” by Brian Dicky.
Another good book which has helped me is about women and the Law in South Australia in the 1800's and is called “In her Own Name Women in South Australia History” by Helen Jones.
One way of proving the link between the two men would have if Geoff found any letters of support from Joseph and Ann Atkins making an appeal to have the death sentence changed to that of transportation. Geoff stated in your email that the appeal documentation was in a bad state and not good enough to transcribe.
As a result, any letter from Joseph Atkins is now impossible to prove. However, in his profession opinion he stated:
“Re Edward Atkins being one and the same are that they are indeed the same, more evidence point towards this than against.”
That is how I found out that Mary Ann Atkins was in the Asylum (and the 1871 census record) and what dates etc, and that George Atkins died as a Pauper in the Cheltenham Union Workhouse. However, the website did state that there were no other details e.g. family members etc."
Saturday, 4 March 2017
Fellow researcher, Luke, has gathered some more information on Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins, which show that she was a woman of property, following the deaths of her brother, George May Mashford and her mother, Mary Cann Mashford, in 1850, barely eight weeks apart.
She may also have married Edward Atkins without proof that her first husband, Peter Lewis was dead, and in fact, knowing he probably was still alive. Alternatively she was a little dim although there does not seem much evidence for that explanation.
And according to the notice published in 1865, within three years of the death of her much loved brother and mother, Elizabeth and her children were left destitute in Melbourne after being abandoned by Peter Lewis. Although, if Elizabeth had inherited money from her mother, since her brother's Will was not finalised until 1856, she must have had enough money to get back to South Australia with her sons.
George Lewis was born, July 8, 1848 in Kensington and so in 1865, when the notice regarding his father was published, was seventeen, and while underage in law, was not so young. Perhaps Elizabeth feared that if Peter Lewis was alive, she would be revealed as a bigamist.
But that doesn't work, given that she put the notice in the newspaper warning about contact being made with her son. Another possibility is that the notice revealed to Edward Atkins that his wife was probably a bigamist and if he had 'found' or always had religion, that marked the beginning of the end of their relationship. Although Elizabeth did not move to Gladstone until around 1878, some thirteen years away, at a time when her youngest daughter, Mary Atkins, later to be Ross, was pregnant with an illegitimate child. The theory is a little thin to say the least, but conjecture is the way of ancestry research.
John Mashford Lewis, born at Marryatville December 10, 1850, a few months after Elizabeth lost her mother and brother, was Fifteen in 1865. Henry Lewis, born January 22, 1854 died in 1855, in Adelaide.
Elizabeth made an application in Adelaide to the Destitute Board for relief, in 1853, and so it seems that when Peter Lewis deserted her, she was pregnant with her third son, and could not work. Even if she had inherited money from her mother, it may have been very little and not enough to live on while she was pregnant, and supporting a five and three-year-old.
Or indeed, if there was a legitimacy issue, she may have inherited nothing from her mother, or had been prevented by her sisters and surviving brother from claiming it, and was in dire straits until her oldest brother's Will was finalised in 1856.
Whether or not she and her sons lived in the Destitute Asylum, we do not know. Although little Henry's death may well have been the result of living in the poor conditions, away from his mother, which such places demanded. After such a loss, it would be even less surprising that Elizabeth would do whatever she had to do, perhaps marry the first man who asked, knowing that her husband might still be alive, in order to provide a better life for her children.
The history of this institution has been written by Mary Geyer, Behind The Wall - The Women of the Destitute Asylum
Image: Children of the Destitute Asylum.
As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men. The reality was very different. Almost from the start the South Australian Immigration Agent had to provide assistance to those in need. In 1843, barely seven years after the colony was established, the government passed its first legislation to deal with poverty. It now became law that relatives were responsible for the maintenance and relief of deserted wives and children.
And of course, Elizabeth Mashford Lewis had no relatives in Adelaide who could help her and possibly none interstate or overseas who would or could, and not only was she deserted but pregnant with two small children to feed. With George May Mashford's Will still not finalised one presumes she could not live in his house and with no other relatives in South Australia, is most likely to have been forced to live in the Asylum. Although researcher, Luke, seems to think that she could have lived in her late brother's house. Wherever she lived, times were tough.
And perhaps it was to the goldfields that Peter Lewis went. Wherever he was, Elizabeth was alone.
If she was in the Asylum it was hardly a pleasant place. It was, like the Poorhouses of England, a place of last resort and nowhere that anyone would live by choice. Men and women were segregated by a stone wall of nearly three metres. Once admitted, inmates were only allowed to leave for five or six hours once a week, although pregnant and towing a toddler and a small child, if indeed she was allowed to take them out, dressed in the Asylum uniform, one presumes Elizabeth did not take up the offer of 'time-out.'.
There was little compassion for destitute pregnant women although Elizabeth did have a record of her marriage and as one of the many abandoned wives due to goldfields fever, may have had an easier time.
For a woman, abandoned by her husband when pregnant, destitute with small children to care for, marrying Edward Atkins, even with his brood of motherless children, may have seemed an offer too good to refuse.
She was tough, but then one had to be in the 19th century, or, as my mother often said: 'It's a great life if you don't weaken, once you weaken you'r gone.' And 'gone' in those days was literally into the gutter.
And perhaps it was because she had been abandoned by her first husband that she chose not to fully trust the second and kept knowledge of her property and wealth a secret from him - just in case. As it happened, for reasons we do not know, that second marriage also ended in separation, although, from the look of it, this time Elizabeth did the leaving when she moved from Wirrabarra Forest to Gladstone in 1872, which is when the records show her purchasing land.
Whatever the reasons for the 'ending' of her second marriage, it seems clear that Elizabeth was resolute in regards to caring for her children, no matter what, and that is a heritage which stood her in good stead and no doubt does for her descendants.
Image: Burnside/Marryatville, Council chambers, 1865.
It would seem from the assessment books for the property which George May Mashford had, the owner of the property and the person paying the rates was "Mrs Lewis" This implies she must have paid her two sisters out and the house belonged to her. What is even more interesting is Elizabeth Lewis, not Elizabeth Atkins, is paying the rates up until 1877.
NB: John Cann died in 1849, but it seems Elizabeth maintained links with his widow and her family.
This is the notice.I found it on TROVE. The notice really does have many ramifications because Peter Lewis could have been very much alive when Elizabeth Mashford married Edward Atkins. For somebody to write to George Lewis they had to have known the address where the Atkins family lived in 1865, how did somebody find out they were living at Charlton?"
In addition, Luke has been researching the position of women in regard to taking out loans in the 19th century:
Monday, 9 May 2016
Photo: Mary Atkins Ross (left) and Elizabeth Atkins Cox (right) with at back, Elizabeth's daughters, circa, 1935.
I had been planning a trip to Gladstone for a few days to pore over old copies of The Areas Express and Farmer's Journal, which was the paper covering Gladstone and the area where Charlie Ross lived and worked, when Trove began putting it online and thus saved me a little bit of travel and a great deal of work.
Trove is a godsend for research where instead of scouring page after page in a library, you type in a name and a time-frame and it brings it all up.
I have picked up a few snippets already and await further published notices, articles and advertising as the process continues and while I doubt there will be much that is substantial, given the low status of Charlie Ross, whatever comes will be appreciated and useful.
One thing which has become clear, and as the obituary suggested, was that Charlie Ross was very popular and much-liked in Gladstone, just as he had been in Port Pirie. He was also involved in the community, putting his name to a list supporting the Mayor when he sought re-election in 1901.
And beyond formal notices he was called Charlie. But the first mention comes in 1887, a year before he married Mary Atkins, where he is cited in a theft case, in Laura, a small town in the Mid-North.
This is perhaps an indication that Charlie Ross travelled far and wide selling fish. It seems Charlie had bought a gold pin which had been stolen, yet another indication that he was doing pretty well as a fish-hawker if he had five shillings, a goodly sum in the day and about a quarter of an average weekly wage, to buy a gold pin, and perhaps it was a gift for Mary. Or perhaps it was for himself, as the pin had been stolen from a man.
However, hearing it had been stolen, Charlie returned the pin to the owner, so a man of conscience or pragmatism, or sense, it seems.
MAGISTRATE'S COURT, LAURA.
Tuesday, January 4.
(Before I.J. Cook, JP, and W. Wilson. JP.
A nice fellow servant - Laurence Axon, bootman, at the Laura Hotel, was brought up in custody of Water Policeman, Gallanto, charged with having stolen a gold pin, the property of Ernest Collins, barman, at the same hotel.
Mister Collins identified the pin produced; had missed it for some time but did not say anything about it. Saw it at Gladstone last Sunday with Charles Ross. By the Court, He had not given it to anyone or authorized anyone to remove it.
Photo: Flora Ross Swincer, who was said to be the 'spitting image' of her grandfather, Charlie Ross, for whom we have no photograph.
It is also a reminder of how much we assume from our perspective of today. I had assumed, when I found that Charlie's business was listed with the Gladstone Council that he would have had a shop, but of course not, nothing so grand for someone of his social standing and even for the times.
Charlie would have taken the train to Port Pirie to buy his fish and carried it back, packed in ice, to hawk around Gladstone. One guesses, that even with ice available, as it must have been to make it possible to transport fish from so far and then sell it around the town, that Charlie probably had to make a couple of trips a week to Pirie to ensure the freshness of his fish.
Hawker's plied their various trades around towns, cities and country areas, and as has become clear, until ill health made it necessary for him to have a horse and cart, Charlie Ross, local fishmonger, pulled his own small cart around Gladstone, selling his fish. And no doubt this is how he met Mary Atkins and a relationship was made possible.
In many ways, they were both on the edge of the social strata, she as an unmarried mother of an illegitimate son, and he as a foreigner, and no doubt that played a part in their coming together, since options for marriage would have been limited, no matter how popular the Greek fishmonger might have been around town.
His accent, my aunt told me, was said to have been very heavy and no doubt it was more so then, before he married and set up home with Mary and had children. But, if he was popular around town and well-liked, as we can see he was, he must have had an engaging personality and Mary, feisty as she also appears to be, would not, I believe, have married him without liking him.
Each may have had reduced options in the marriage market, but finding each other was the foundation of my father's family. And none of it would have happened, without fish!
Perhaps more telling, was that four years before his death, a fund was set up to raise money to buy him a horse because his health had failed and he could no longer walk, pulling his cart, to sell his fish. Given that his death notice cited heart disease and asthma, it is pretty clear that he had failing health for quite some time, but, with the help of his fellow-citizens, continued to work as a fish hawker.
From The Areas Express:
Mr Charlie Ross, of this town requires a horse, and is not in a position to buy one. The charitably disposed are appealed to elsewhere, and subscriptions may be sent to Mr H Cox, or this office. He who gives quickly gives twice.
July 10, 1903.
Owing to the efforts of Mr Cox, of this town he sum of five pounds has been collected for the purpose of buying a horse for Mr Charlie Ross to enable him to enable him to carry on his business as a fish hawker. Mr Cox succeeded in getting a suitable animal for four pounds and the balance has been expended in chaff.
Mr Eley has kindly consented to put on the first set of shoes, free of charge so that the unfortunate Charlie will have a fair start. Mr Ross desires us to tender his sincere thanks to all who subscribed.
Henry Cox was married to Mary's sister, Elizabeth, and so Charlie's brother-in-law, which means helping him out is not surprising. However, it was the genera goodwill in Gladstone which made the fundraising successful.
In the same year, Charlie, perhaps unwell and feeling grumpy, put in a notice regarding animals straying onto his property.
Notice is hereby given that all dogs, pigs and poultry found trespassing on Allotment No. 39, (East Ward), town of Gladstone, will be destroyed and all horses, sheep and cattle impounded.
However, who can say what treasures might unfold as the Areas Express goes up online?
The Areas Express newspaper served the small towns and farming communities around Gladstone for over 70 years. It took a strong politically conservative stance, and included articles about a wide range of agricultural topics. The Express was a weekly through most of its existence, but was published twice-weekly from February 1878 to July 1886.
We know Charlie was in Gladstone by at least 1885 or 1886 because his obituary say he had spent 'more than twenty years' in the town and he married Mary Atkins in 1888. He died in 1907, at the age of 59, and so the focus of interest for him is the twenty or so years prior. Mary died at the age of 76 in 1937, so she had 30 years alone, before joining him in Gladstone Cemetery.
He is mentioned in a court report for 1889, when he and two others were charged with being the owners of unregistered dogs. His fine was substantial, some five shillings, probably a quarter of his weekly earnings, so one presumes he was making a reasonable living selling fish although in 1889 he had just been married a year and was not supporting children.
Saturday, July 27, 1889.
Before Messrs B.J. Knight and E. Coe, J.P's.
Henry Cralib, Henry Gaunt and Charles Ross were charged with being the owners of six unregistered dogs. The two former cases were dismissed and Ross who pleaded guilty was fined 5s.
He gets another mention in 1891 for 'not having lights on a vehicle' so one presumes it was his cart, which he pulled, when hawking fish.
Gladstone Police Court. Wednesday, May 6, 1891.
(Before Messrs. L. McDougall and A.O. Catt, JP.
Charles Ross for a breach of the Lights on Vehicles Act was fined 1s and costs 11 shillings in all.
His wife, Mary, also makes the papers in a court report for 1898 for smacking a neighbour's child.
The evidence went to show that defendant 'smacked the bottom' of the said boy and a fine was inflicted.
We have seen quite a few indications that Mary Atkins Ross was, despite her petite stature, a no-nonsense kind of person.
Photo: Ellen Street, Port Pirie's main street, where Charlie Ross would have gone to buy fish.
Like the newspapers in neighbouring districts during the 1870s and 1880s, the Express argued long and hard for the extension of the railway network to the districts it served. In 1877 a two page supplement was printed to cover a lively meeting about the subject held at Laura (14 July 1877). A second strongly held belief reflected views on making land purchase easier for intending farmers: '... in new countries railway construction should be carried out precedent to, or in company with, liberalized land laws ... ' (21 July 1877, p. 2). The newspaper suggested that Parliament needed to consult directly with the country people. 'It is rather amusing that while the House of Assembly, the press and the public are floundering about in the depths of the land question ... the only persons who could speak with authority on the debated points - the farmers themselves - are quietly ignored' (15 July 1882, p. 2).
From the start, the Areas Express had an outspoken editorial policy regarding political matters. The 19th century editors of the newspaper were keen analysts of contemporary politics. 'In the midst of the political stagnation which prevails, the Gumeracha election comes as a relief' (17 April 1880, p. 2). From 1905 there was a strong pre-occupation with the 'evils' of socialism. The Express fully supported the formation and activities of the Liberal Union - a conservative political organisation for women. Elections - local, state and federal - tended to be well covered, with profiles of the candidates and discussion of the platforms.
The Express did not focus as strongly on sport as did many country newspapers. The cricket teams of Gladstone are chronicled from 1878 and the local football club from 1880. In 1879 the newspaper reported on the first Great Northern Racing Club meeting in its 'Turf gossip' column (26 March 1879 p. 2). In 1882 the Express was outraged by a humorous article in Adelaide Punch suggesting there was not enough accommodation for visitors to the races, and that the 'palatial' Gladstone gaol could be used. The Express seemed to think the suggestion was a serious one (19 April 1882, p. 2). For a time from the mid-1880s regular sporting columns appeared. The bicycle craze reached Gladstone in 1898, leading to the formation of the Great Northern Bicycle Club (4 November 1898, p. 2).
While the information is not yet online there are indications that some of the Ross children are mentioned in the sports pages.
From 1902 the newspaper, like most country newspapers, began publishing more social and biographical articles. Detailed obituaries, descriptions of weddings and biographical sketches were printed. From 1924 to early 1925 a series of articles about old residents, titled '80 years or over', gave detailed information about the lives of ten elderly local men.
If only Charlie Ross had lived long enough to be included.
The pages of the Express strongly reflected the agricultural nature of the community that it served. Beginning with reports of the Belalie Agricultural Society Show and the local harvest (8 October 1881, p. 2), the newspaper reflected the advances brought by mechanisation and the application of scientific principles. There were advertisements for tractors to replace horses and discussions on the use of super-phosphates and subterranean clover and a variety of other issues. The meetings of the Gladstone branch of the South Australian Farmers' Mutual Association were reported regularly throughout the life of the newspaper. In the Express's early years a column titled 'The Farmer' was published.
Photographs first appeared in the Areas Express in 1910. This included photographs of floods at Gladstone in that year which caused the deaths of two men (9 September 1910, p. 2). In September and October 1924, when the Gladstone Football team were the local premiers, front page photographs of the team and an historical photograph of the 1885 premiership team appeared. For a time in the mid-1920s many photographs were printed in the newspaper, mostly of individuals. During the Second World War these gave way to syndicated war photographs.
The newspaper was established by JSJ Pengelley and WJ Trembath. From October 1878 the proprietors were brothers David and Andrew Taylor and their brother-in-law David Bews of the Wallaroo Times. David Bews withdrew from the company at the end of 1880 and in December 1882 the newspaper passed to Gordon Kearney. In July 1887 Charles D Southcombe became publisher and printer and in April 1888 William Hancock took over the newspaper. From 1910 he entered into partnership with Sam Osborne of the Port Pirie advertiser and Woroora producer. In 1928 Hancock sold to Lester Judell. In August 1945 Judell retired to the city and his three newspapers, the Express, the Jamestown Agriculturist and Review, and the Laura Standard, were then run by managers in the three towns. In 1948 Judell amalgamated the three newspapers into the new Northern Review at Jamestown.
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Here is another bit of info from a memorandum which I noted in the Coldridge Church Register which I copied out a couple of months back but it may be relevant.
Image: Elizabeth Mashford, baptism, Coldridge.
Below, birth/baptism records for Elizabeth's siblings.