Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A little insight into Charlie Ross puts form on the phantom!

Photo: Port Pirie circa. 1880.
Fellow researcher Luke has been busy digging through records in the search to find out as much about the Atkins/Ross family as possible and in the doing has come across a little ‘snapshot’ from the past which gives some insight into the ephemeral nature of the long lost Charlie Ross.

From the Areas Express and Farmers Journal Friday September 13th 1907:

“It is with sincere regret we have to report the death of Mr Charlie
Ross, of this town after a protracted illness from asthma etc.
Deceased was born 58 years ago, and when a young man left his native
land-Greece-and after a roving career during which he had his fair
share of adventures came to South Australia and settled in Port Pirie. Eventually he came to Gladstone
where for more than 20 years he has carried on his vocation as a
purveyor of fish etc. Although taking no part in public affairs, he by
his unostentatious, but genial manner won a large circle of friends,
who sadly deploy his death which took place on Sunday. The remains
were interred in the Gladstone Cemetery on Monday, the Rev J Raymont
officiating. The greatest sympathy is felt for the widow-a daughter of
Mrs Atkinsen (Atkins) and her five children."

This says that he sold fish in Gladstone for 'more than twenty years' so he must have moved from Port Pirie sometime between 1887 and say, 1885ish. He married Mary in 1888 which is nineteen years before his death and if he was a purveyor of fish in Gladstone for more than twenty years it means he was living in the town for a few years before marrying and perhaps before meeting. If he had moved to Gladstone to marry Mary then the epitaph would have said 'nearly twenty years' not 'more than twenty years.'
There is a poignant note to this – my grandfather and his name-sake, another Charlie Ross was also a most unostentatious and genial man who won a large circle of friends. My father was a rather more complex character, at least at home although in that way of ‘social angel and home devil’ he also was seen as an unostentatious and genial man who won a large circle of friends. Perhaps my great-grandfather was the same. It is nice however, to know that he was so respected and widely loved.
And I would love to know what his adventures from his roving life were? It sounds as if he was a seaman and travelled the world for quite some years before arriving in Australia and deciding to stay.
The other unexpected piece of information is a nice bit of synchronicity – yet again – which has him initially settling in Port Pirie, where I also lived for four years in the early seventies. This makes me think I might be able to find out more about him, important information such as date of arrival, place of birth and Greek name, from Port Pirie records.
It is highly likely that Charlie originally set up his fishmonger business in Port Pirie and continued it once he moved to Gladstone. Perhaps he met Mary Atkins when she visited Port Pirie. There must have been some sort of connection between the time he arrived in Australia and when he married her in 1888.
If Charlie was born in 1849 and left Greece as a young man then he could have arrived in South Australia as early as 1870. That is eighteen years before he married Mary so there is every chance that he had an earlier marriage and possibly children. The other alternative is that he left as a young man but spent ten or more years as a sailor before arriving in Port Pirie sometime in the early to mid 1880’s. If I can find some sort of record of his arrival in Port Pirie it will be invaluable. I have written to the Port Pirie History Group to ask for help with the research.
Once again there is a Port Pirie connection, the town having appeared a number of times in ancestry research on my mother’s side and there I was in the early seventies, knowing none of it, and with four years to do ‘on-the-ground’ research. But, as they say, here is where we are at and slowly but surely the pieces of the past drop into the present to put together a better picture than we had of Charlie Ross, whose specific origin and Greek name I have yet to find.
I am also wondering if the family story about jumping ship was true given that he settled in Port Pirie, where he could have been easily found as a deserter. Given his accent and the way stories are transferred one wonders if the story he told his children was about his life on board ship, arriving in Australia – although we were told Port Germein, then again, it could have been and he travelled down to Pirie and settled – got mixed up with a story about someone else who had jumped ship.
However, there will either be something more to be found about Charlie Ross in Port Pirie or there will not be.
Photo: Smelters Port Pirie circa 1900
 Luke also came across a few other pieces of information regarding Elizabeth Mashford and Peter Lewis. He writes:
I had a look at the records of the Royal Adelaide
Hospital located at the South Australian Genealogy Society. I found
the following:-

Name:                                     Peter Lewis.
Age:                            32.
How Long in Colony: Brought in by the Police
Occupation:               Servant Male.
Circumstances:                      Delirium Tremens.
Adm:                          12/4/1848.
Discharged:                12/7/1848.

Delirium Tremens is the result of alcoholism which may explain the violence which we know was a part of the marriage and which extended to Elizabeth’s brother, George.  What seems strange is that he was admitted on April 12 and not discharged until three months later! That seems a very long time to be in hospital. One wonders if the date is incorrect or whether he was actually hospitalised but in police custody.
Name:                         Eliza Lewis.
Age:                            23.
How Long in Colony:           Direction of his Excellency
Occupation:               Emigrant.
Circumstances:                      Dysentery.
Adm:                          2/5/1848.
Discharge:                              1/6/1848.

Elizabeth, from the record, also appears to have been in hospital for nearly a month which seems a very long time for dysentery, a disease which usually takes its course within days and not longer than a week. This is something I unfortunately know first-hand having suffered from it while living in Bombay, India, more than once.
I do not think we can say 100% that these people are our Peter and
Elizabeth Lewis. There is an age difference: I.E If I am wrong Kylie
let me know, but Peter Lewis was born c1812? If the above person is
our Peter Lewis and he was 32 in 1848 then he was born c1816 so there
is a difference. However, he was a servant, but then again so were a
lot of people so it does not really proves anything. What “Brought in
by the Police” means I really do not know unless they found him
somewhere? The one about Eliza Lewis also show an age different.
However we all know that there is sometimes an age different. I know
Kylie if it is our Peter Lewis it does not really help you to trace
him back any further, but all information can be useful. I also do not
understand what “Direction of his Excellency” means?

I also found a burial record for Henry Edward Atkins. Edward and
Hannah’s first son, but there is a small problem with it. The record
just states:-

Parish Records
St Barnabas C of E

Henry Edward Atkins
Buried 2/1857
Age 7 years.

If this is ours Henry Edward Atkins and he was 7 years of age in 1857,
according to the above record, it means he was born in 1850. However
his birth record states he was born in 1843 therefore he should be 14
years of age when he died in 1857. This is a gap of 7 years between
the two ages which is quite a lot which would be difficulty to
explain. However, in the light of any other records for a Henry Edward
Atkins existing EG marriage etc this person could be our Henry Edward
Atkins. If it is him then he died after Edward Atkins and Elizabeth
Lewis nee Mashford were married. Also how many other Henry Edward
Atkins were living as a young male in the Clare Valley around the same
time. If this is out Henry Edward Atkins then the one surviving son in
Edward Atkins’ obituary is James Atkins or there is another son which
we just do not know about. If this is the case how do we find another
son because I cannot no longer think about how another son can be
tracked down.

This may actually be a second Henry Edward Atkins given the habit of the time of naming a second son after a first who had died.  
And Kylie added a bit more clarity: 

This fits with my Peter Lewis, a drunk picked up by the police!!  The age
fits with the marriage pretty much, only 1 year out.  He was 30 when married
Nov 47 and 32 here, only 5 months later.  1812 was from the possible death I
found in Victoria, and I think that was a professional estimate by the
hospital staff, probably older than he really was due to aforementioned

I am more doubtful of the Eliza Lewis, the age is out by a few years and the
occupation, Emigrant, is strange for a married woman.  It sounds more like a
new arrival, straight off the ship.  A quick search of the FamilyhistorySA site shows the name is fairly common.

The Henry Edward Atkins is interesting.  One explanation I could think of is
that this is a second Henry Edward.  They may have 'reused' the name.  It
could be a transcription error etc but such inaccuracy in a child's age is
very rare. 

As for George's children, he had nine.  The attached pages are from the
bible I have.  All those up to Eva are his, the last three are
grandchildren.  I had this list, and could find all except the 2nd child,
George Wilson, on the SA registers.  When Ancestry came up with the whole of
Australia's indexes I found him in Queensland.  Registered as George Lewis
Lewis, and the mothers name was Sarah Barbara, but the date was right so I
ordered a certificate.  

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A few more small pieces from the past to paint the picture

Map from 1865, from "Bailliere's  South Australian Gazeteer

and Road Guide which shows Booyoolie Station where Elizabeth Mashford Lewis worked and probably met Edward Atkins..

In painstakingly putting together the pieces of the past in order to put together a more accurate picture of our ancestors the latest small 'sherds' to emerge from the dust have come from fellow researchers Luke and Kylie.

Booyoolie, which was obviously a challenge for the times, unused as they were to non-English names, was an Aboriginal word said to mean 'boiling up the smoke cloud' or 'foggy place' which pretty much amounts to the same thing.

It appears in records in a fantastical assortment of phonetically inspired spellings including: Bouelee, Beauewele, Boyley, Booyooloo. The original spelling was Booyoolee but it ended up Booyoolie. 

 Luke found the latest death notice for Elizabeth in the local Gladstone newspaper for 1908:

"We have to record the death on Monday last, at the residence of her
daughter, Mrs Ross, of Mrs Atkins, one of our oldest residents. The deceased
arrived in South Australia on March 17th, 1847 in the "Princess Royal" and
went to Booyoolee Station in 1856. She leaves one son Mr George Lewis and
two daughters Mesdames Ross & Cox. The old lady was nearly 90 years old."

The interesting thing is that it gives us a date for Elizabeth's arrival in the Gladstone-Booyoolie area. As Luke writes:

It would more than likely that Mary Ross nee Atkins gave the information to
the newspapers. Most of the above information we already know. However,
knowing that Elizabeth Lewis nee Mashford moved to Booyoolie Station in 1856
is revealing I think. She must have applied for a job on the station as a
maid or domestic servant. (Just as well they did not do Police check in
those days as she would not have got the job as a result of her two days in

I assume Peter Lewis was not around when she moved to Booyoolie Station, and
she would have to had taken young George and John with her. It is more than
likely that she met dear old Edward Atkins at Booyoolie Station. It would
not surprise me if he worked there as well knowing his trade as Blacksmith,
Bushman and Shepard. Of course they were married in 1857 not long after she

Knowing she moved from Adelaide to Booyoolie Station fills in a bit of a
mystery for me because I wondered about how the two of them must have met if
Edward Atkins was up north and Elizabeth was in Adelaide.

The other thing about this article is that it lets us know exactly where
they may have lived before moving to Wirrabara. On their marriage
certificate their place of residence was just listed as "Rocky River" I
always assumed that it must have been somewhere along the Rocky River near
Wirrabara because that was where Elizabeth, Mary and James were born. If
their place of residence was Booyoolie Station, when they got married, I
would think it would have been listed on their marriage certificate as place
of residence. May be they lived outside the boundaries of the station
somewhere along the Rocky River outside of Gladstone?

The other interesting thing about this article is that there is no mention
of Edward Atkins. A lot of the time the papers would state something like
"wife of the late Edward Atkins" or "a relict of the late Edward Atkins" The
omission of this is not prove itself that there may have be a split in the
families of Hannah McLeod and Elizabeth Mashford, but in conjunction with
all the other clues, that there may have been a split, I think it adds more

 And I can only agree. The omission of Edward's name, given the times, is strange. We can explain the omission of Elizabeth's name from his death notice because it was put in by the children from his first marriage but to have no notice given by Mary Atkins Ross, to her father, when she 'writes' her mother's death notice, suggests there is a mystery here which is yet to be solved.

 Perhaps as Luke has previously suggested, the 'bastard' child which Mary had while still a teenager may have been the result of incest and the reason why Elizabeth moved to Gladstone with her children.

 Kylie responded with the map seen above and some of her own thoughts:

I have been trying to sort out who owned what and where
each lease was.  I have begun to realise that following the Hughes family
may give us some extra information on our family.

It is likely that there was an outstation named Rocky River at the time on
Booyoolie Run and that is what is referred to on the marriage certificate.
From other research I have done I have worked out it was likely Booyoolie
had about 36000 sheep on it and that each shepherd looked after 2000-3000
sheep.  The sheep were taken out each morning and brought back into a yard
at night where a night watchman looked after them.  So there would have been
at least a dozen different shepherds plus the night watchmen spread over the
Run.  (which fits with the 12 wells and dams below) I have worked out the
Run went up to Wirrabarra area.  Laura was excised out of the Run to
establish the town. 

The family seems to have had a fairly consistent connection with the Hughes
family. Edward, George and James definitely worked for them.  I think John
Lewis may have also.  George went to Nockatunga station that JB Hughes owned
in Queensland in 1875. .  

This site raised my curiosity: .  I have emailed the page owner but have had no reply.  There was either two George Lewis's up there, including a brother John, or he is mistaken.  I know my George was up there as one of his children was born there in May 1875, so I am wondering
if this guy is correct.  I also know that as a boundary rider my George
would have been an experienced fencer so it fits that he would be sent there
for a fencing project.

I am guessing the reason that Edward left Bundaleer is that HB Hughes sold
it in 1854 and moved to Booyoolie.  Charlton/Wirrabara was owned by HB
Hughes' father-in-law, before he established White Park.  I suspect that
Edward always worked for the family and the sons got their jobs with them as
soon as they were old enough. 

Elizabeth moving up in 1856 fits with the suspected death I have for Peter
Lewis in 1854. 
Anyway this is the Bailliere's entry on Rocky River:

Rocky River (County Frome and Victoria) is a fine stream rising in the S. of
mount Remarkable, near Melrose, and flowing in a S. direction through
pastoral country into the Broughton River, on its N. Side.  In the
neighbourhood of this river are belts of finely timbered land, wooded with
large gum and pine.  The country is very fine and forms magnificent sheep
runs.  A singular variety of the wild duck has been observed in the
locality, being only half web-footed, and having the power of perching on
the boughs of trees.  There is a resident magistrate in this neighbourhood -
H. B. Hughes, Esq, J.P.

[so it was not a single place in 1865]

The entry for Booyooloo Run:

Booyooloo Run (county Victoria) lease No. 38: occupier, H.B. Hughes; area
194 miles; grazing capability, 50,000 sheep or 255 per mile; old rental and
assessment:  Pounds 502 5s 11d,; Mr. Goyder's valuation, Pounds 2716,
excluding improvements valued at Pounds 2387.  This run is situated on the
Rocky river and on the N. road via Clare, 20 miles E. of Port Peri (Pirie) - the
shipping port, 45 miles N.W. of Clare, and 130 miles N. of Adelaide.  It
contains about 7000 acres of good purchased land, and consists of well
grassed undulating and hilly country with gum flats.  It is watered by the
Redbank creek, the Rocky river, and 12 wells and dams, and has good roads in
all directions.

So we now have a date for Elizabeth's move from Adelaide to the mid-north and an ongoing connection with the Hughes family.  John Bristow Hughes had been born in England in 1817 and arrived in South Australia around about the same time as Edward Atkins. Although Hughes would go on to have a far more notable career.

He went first to Tasmania however, in 1840 and then came on to South Australia the following year. He married In 1847 at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide where Edward and his first wife, Hannah McLeod had been married and where Elizabeth Mashford would marry Peter Lewis the same year.

Hughes and his wife moved north to Bundaleer shortly after their marriage and his lease also included the Booyoolee and Gnangwea areas. His brothers Bristow and Herbert Bristow - Bristow clearly an important name in the Hughes family - developing these areas.

In 1854 Hughes sold Bundaleer and moved to Adelaide to live. He lived in Woodville, where my husband's family settled and was a member of the Legislative Council and then a member for Port Adelaide in the first House of assembly in 1857. He became treasurer shortly after but resigned within a year to return to England - under medical advice.

He returned to Australia two years later, no doubt cured of whatever ailed him and was back in Adelaide by 1875. He was one of the original founders of St. Peter's College - a school my son would attend many years later. He died in 1881, drowning at Point Lonsdale while on a visit to his Victorian properties.

Edward Atkins would outlive his former employer by ten years and would die in the mid-north of South Australia where he had worked for so many years and no doubt, had grown to love.

Luke went on to explore further on Rocky River:

The map started me thinking about Rocky River as an outstation. I had a look on
Trove and found that the newspapers referred to Rocky River as a river
EG near the Rocky River or along the Rocky River. However, they also
referred to Rocky River as some sort of place. Below are a few

TENDERS. Post Office. May 27th. 1851.
Scaled tenders will be received at this office until Tues day the 17th
of June next, at noon, for the conveyance of Her Majesty's mails, once
a week, between Clare Village and the Police Station at Mount
Remarkable, passing through the stations of Messrs,…at Rocky River,
and of the Messrs. White at Charlton, for the period from the 1st July
to 31st December, 1851, both days inclusive.
South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA: 1839 - 1900)

Friday 30 May 1851

A dividend of twenty shillings in the pound will be payable on and
after Saturday, Dec. 6, to those creditors of George Gosling, late of
Rocky River, stock keeper, deceased, who have proved their debts. A
dividend of seventeen shillings and sixpence in the pound will be in
course of payment on.

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA: 1839 – 1900

Friday 5 December 1851

BIRTH. On the 6th instant, at Boeulee(varied spellings for Booyoolie), Rocky River, the lady of
Herbert Bristow Hughes, Esq., of a son.
South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA: 1839 - 1900)

Wednesday 16 May 1855

The nearest Magistrates are Mr. Herbert Hughes, of Rocky River, about
thirty-five miles; and Mr. Grant, northward of Frome, twenty-seven

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA: 1839 - 1900)

Tuesday 4 November 1856

ROBBERY IN A BROTHEL.-Three girls of the town, named Copley, Saqe and
Brown were charged with robbing William Murdock Mackinnon, in the
employment of Mr. Stephen King, of the Rocky River

The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1858 – 1889

Wednesday 22 February 1860

Herbert Bristow Hughes; Residence, Rocky River

 South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1858 - 1889)

Tuesday 26 April 1864

It seems clear that Rocky River was some sort of place especially if
Mr Hughes was a Magistrate there. However, I cannot seem to find a
place called Rocky River. Do you think that Booyoolie Station was
called Rocky River before it was called Booyoolie Station? Or did
people called Booyoolie Station unofficially as Rocky River?

Also the papers referred to a spot or a crossing on the Rocky River
where people could cross it and there seems to be some sort of housing
around this crossing.

Also do you both think that it may be worth while to write to the
present owners of Booyoolie Station to see if they have any old
records? With George Lewis, Elizabeth Mashford and James Atkins
working there, and more than likely, John Lewis and Edward Atkins
working there, some old records or even old photos may still exist.
How we would find an address for them I really do not know. Would you
two have any ideas on this?

I am also thinking about this because there may be a private cemetery
on the station and it could be where Hannah Atkins nee McLeod could be

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The work is in progress

All may be silent but all is not stopped. I have two researchers in the UK looking into our Gloucestershire Atkins's. Such things take time but I hope to get results now that we know we have the same Edward Atkins as the one who married Hannah Mcleod.

Beyond what we can discover about the origin and family of Edward Atkins, if indeed much at all, the original focus of the book was Charlie Ross and that is not likely to get much further until I can get to Ithaca for a few weeks. The plan for 2012 at this stage.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Time in gaol for Elizabeth Mashford but it was a petty 'crime', very petty....

 It seems great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Mashford spent time in gaol, although to be fair, it was hardly for a crime which we would recognise and only for two days, and within weeks of arriving in South Australia.

The Adelaide Gaol had opened in 1841 so we can presume that is where she spent her 48 hours. Little could she know that her grandson, my grandfather, Charles Vangelios Ross would later work as a warder at the same prison. 

Still, our ancestor has a record. Luke found the following in Trove records:

 The South Australian Tuesday 30th March 1847 p 5

Elizabeth Mashford, aged 25, Was charged, under the Masters' end Servants' Act, with having broken her agreement to eater the service of J. B. Montefiore, Esq. The young woman had been engaged on board the Princess Royal, as housemaid, for one month, and was to have come to her place in two or three days after the agreement, but did not do so. Her wages were to have been £16 per year. The mother of the defendant stated that she had sought an engagement for herself also at Mr Montefiore's, and not succeeding in her application, induced her daughter not to go. His Worship, after some comments on the law between master and servant, told the defendant that, in consequence of the intercession of Mr Montefiore, he should award to her a much lighter punishment than it was within his discretion to do, viz., two days imprisonment.

So, after arriving on March 16, Elizabeth, having given her word, was meant to take up employment with a family on arrival. One could presume that she had met them on board but that was not the case. From the look of this report of the case, her mother had talked her out of it when she also failed to gain employment with the same family.

Given that Mary Cann Mashford had younger daughters I am not sure why she wanted to stay with Elizabeth, but it seems she did. And given that Mr Montefiore interceded on Elizabeth's behalf and as a consequence she received a lighter sentence, it sounds like he was a reasonable sort of bloke. Perhaps he thought Mary was a bit too dodgy to employ, given her experience in the rough and tumble world of English pubs.

Although the Montefiore's had their own 'shady' past having made their fortune in Barbados, no doubt through slavery. However, given the times, they were hardly orphans amongst the wealthy.

Elizabeth had crossed the path of someone with very different origins and future to her own. Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide is named after a member of this family, which played a major role in the development of South Australia.

But the J.B. Montefiore who wanted to hire Elizabeth and who did not want to hire her mother, had not been on the Princess Royal with them. He had come out to the colony a year earlier. One can only presume he had an agent on board ship seeking to hire before arrival in order to get the 'pick of the crop.' The fact that Elizabeth was chosen perhaps says something about how she presented and what sort of a young woman she was. Or maybe it doesn't.

Joseph Barrow Montefiore, 1803-1893, merchant and financier, had emigrated to New South Wales in 1828.

In partnership with his brother Jacob (1801-1895), who in 1835-39 was a member of the South Australian Colonization Commission in London, he made a large fortune in real estate, helped to found the Bank of Australasia and was one of the channels through which English capital contributed to the pastoral expansion and speculative boom of the late 1830s. Joseph B. Montefiore was one of the sponsors of the bill, which became known as the Forbes Act of 1834, advocating interest rates free from statutory limits to encourage the flow of capital into the colony: 'restrict the rate of interest', he warned a sub-committee of the Legislative Council, 'and you at once destroy the stamina of the colony'. After the depression the Montefiore firm in Sydney went bankrupt. The London firm had suspended payment in 1841 and Montefiore had returned to England.

By 1844 the Montefiore brothers, were back in business and Joseph B. Montefiore decided to try his luck in South Australia. He arrived in Adelaide from London on 27 July 1846 bringing with him his wife, nine daughters and two sons, two servants, 'a harp, a piano and 300 packages', and soon set up in business with his nephew  as importers and shipping agents. Joseph invested heavily in copper mines and served on the board of a number of mining companies, notably the Royal South Australian Mining Co. He was a member of the stock exchange, a committee member of the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce and an original trustee of the Savings Bank.

In 1851 he stood for election to the East Adelaide seat of the Legislative Council as a 'good friend of free trade and moderate, unhurried reform and an opponent of state aid' but was roundly defeated. He retired in 1860 and returned to London.

Photo: Cells at Adelaide Gaol. 

Or perhaps Elizabeth had met Peter Lewis and did not want to commit to service. Although given that she and Peter did not marry until November 9 of the same year, I doubt that.

There is another Mashford cited in a court case in August of the same year but we are not sure if it is one of ours. If it is then it is likely to be Josiah, the youngest son who seems to have had a knack for ending up in court records. That however at this stage is assumption.

The South Australian Friday 27th August 1847 p 3
For wages, £6 15.; and cash, 5s. Debt denied, and set-off for clothes, &c, to £4 ls. lld. Mr Poulden, for defendant, objected that plaintiff was not of age. He said he was so far of age as this, that he had no one to take care of him, and had to support himself. His Worship That makes you no older. You had better apply under the Masters and Servants Act. Plaintiff, by advice of Mr Milner Stephen, agreed to make a settlement out of Court if possible. The amount in actual dispute was only two days' wages.

And following in Luke's footsteps I found a couple of other items on Trove which are interesting. I wrote earlier about the incident between Peter Lewis and George Mashford but it seems Trove has a bit more detail on the case. It sounds like Peter Lewis was a violent sort of man and if Elizabeth did leave him, she had good cause. There is still the possibility that Elizabeth was a bigamist when she married Edward but then there's a chance he was also which makes it a moot point.

POLICE COURT. Thursday. 7th December,
Peter Lewis was charged with threatening to shoot George Mashford, his brother in-law, at Kensington, on the 3d instant. ' George Mashford made a long statement, from which it
appeared that his sister (the prisoner's wife) was afraid to live with him, he having repeatedly threatened her, and -even on one occasion attempted to choak her. On last Sun day evening he came to witness's house demanding to see his wife. He then went to the Chapel looking for her, and created a disturbance there. He made use of the threats complained of on that occasion, and he had circulated the most abominable stories of witness and his sister. Mrs Lewis stated that she feared her husband would some times put his threats into execution, particularly as he was in the habit of getting drunk purposely to increase his violence. She was willing to support herself and child without troubling him. The prisoner admitted having called and asked to see his child, which was denied him. He declared he had no wish to hurt his wife or her brother, but hoped his Worship would order them to let him see his child. His Worship could say nothing to that. He would require him to give bail to keep the peace for six months. And to the wife he said she should endeavour to soothe the violence of her husband's temper. Her bargain might be a bad one, but she should make the best of it After entering into recognizances, the man again applied for an order to see his child. His Worship declined to give it, and admonished him not to resort to any violent means to effect that object.

From the sound of it Elizabeth was a chapel goer although being married to someone like Peter Lewis she no doubt needed any support that she could get. However, clearly they made up because she went on to have two more sons with Lewis.

I also found the following court record and I am wondering if it might be the first-born son of Edward and Hannah. The age is about right - thirteen. It is conjecture of course but we are still looking to find evidence that Henry Edward survived to adulthood and is the one son mentioned in Edward's death notice.

 March 13, 1856
Mail-Coach Manaqemest. — Peter Jewell, one of the firm of Haimes & Co., was charged with an assault upon Henry Atkins, at Crafer's Inn, on tho 23rd ultimo. A counter-information charged Atkins with abuse and insolence to the passengers. Mr. Ingleby, for Mr. Jewell, wished to alter its wording so as to bring the case under the Masters and Servants Act, and the hearing was adjourned for a week to enable him to do so. It transpired that Atkins, a young lad, was engaged in some way about the Mount Barker mail, and that Mr. Jewell, hearing he had been very insolent to the passengers, met him a day or two afterwards at Crafer's and gave him a sound thrashing. Upon this issue will be joined on Wednesday next.

In that synchronicitous way of things, or connections across the years, if this is our Henry then he was working in an area I know well.... we have a farm at Hahndorf, half-way between Crafers and Mount Barker. It is one of the prettiest parts of Australia.

Mount Barker was first sighted by Captain Charles Sturt in 1830, although he thought he was looking at the previously discovered Mount Lofty. Captain Collet Barker fixed this error when he surveyed the area in 1831. Sturt named the mountain in honour of Captain Barker after he was killed later that year by Aborigines, at the Murray Mouth.

Mount Barker was first surveyed in 1839 by Duncan McFarlane, who was hoping the area could be used for wheat and grain farming. The land was divided into lots of 80 acres (320,000 m2), although farmers didn't settle until 1844, when John Dunn built the first steam flour mill outside of Adelaide.

Crafers is a tiny town these days and was not much more than a place to change horses and get something to eat on the journey between Adelaide and Mount Barker in the 19th century. 

Friday, 30 September 2011

Trying again, a clever friend has removed the formatting.....and I am wondering if our Edward was a bigamist!

Apart from the fact that we have gained a horde of new rellies, it does give us a place of origin, which, without this confirmation would have been difficult, perhaps impossible to find.

So our Edward is from Gloucestershire and he was married twice, as Luke’s oral history attests, and my great-grandmother had another half a dozen step-sisters and step-brothers about which we knew nothing.

The unsolved part of the mystery is now focussed on the death notice 'numbers’ which do not look to include the children from his marriage to Elizabeth. But that is a far smaller mystery in reality although it may prove to be a more interesting one should we ever establish the why of the what. And I am now wondering if the why is that Edward was a bigamist.

Cherrielee Sherriff, our co-researcher from the Puddy side, and now confirmed relative raised an issue about an age discrepancy with Edward and Kylie replied:

Don’t forget the age on the death notice is not from Edward but his family.  There is a tendency to put age down at 50 and to put it up at 80.  It was also common for families to use the 84 year i.e. he was 83 plus a bit.

Elizabeth  was baptised in Oct 1820, so 36 is probably correct in Jan 1857.  If you do a quick calculation 1857-1820 = 37 but in reality it is just  1857.  Unless she was born in the first 12 days of the year she is 36  still.
If you use a date calculator on the marriage date, say Edward was 44 years 11 months, his birth date comes out at 1 Feb 1812.  Unless he was born in the first 12 days of the year it is 1812.

The same on his death, say he is exactly 84, date of birth is calculated as  15 Nov 1807.    These dates are 4 years on 2%2B months, not quite so different. 

It takes 84 years and 11 months gets you to Dec 1806.
So basically you’re looking for a baptism between 1807 and 1812.

 So now I can get back to the Gloucestershire researcher with some information which is relevant to our search. Interestingly the name Atkins does look like Aitkins on the marriage record for Hannah Mcleod. And the name has appeared as Aitkins in some records so I shall give both options to the researcher.

It has been a week of talking about handwriting in regard to a variety of issues so it is synchronistic that final resolution should come from that source.

Kylie also resolved the question as to whether or not Henry Coches was the Henry Cox who married Elizabeth Atkins, and it seems he was.

The researcher in Adelaide wrote:
There is no record of burial of Henry Edward Atkins in West Tce Cem in 1843 or to 1846.
If he died at Hutt River Clare he may be buried anywhere in the district but with no record

The marriage certificate of Elizabeth Atkins in District of Clare shows Henry’s surname as Cocks
the same handwritten letter is used for k in his X mark, her X mark and in Atkins so the registration reads -

Henry Cocks 31y tradesman, son of Charles Cocks
married 9 Feb 1880 in St Johns Church Laura by James Corvan
Elizabeth Atkins 22y daughter of Edward Atkins
both signed with an X

witnesses  J Lucas tradesman at Gladstone  and Mary Atkins her X mark at Gladstone

The handwriting discussion arose because this piece of information made me think again about earlier discussions we had from oral family history that Mary  Atkins Ross was illiterate. Given that Elizabeth is also illiterate one  would presume that James was as well although perhaps as a son he might have had more education.

What I find puzzling is that if Elizabeth Mashford was literate, as we  have come to believe, then why are at least two of her daughters able to  sign only with an X?

There were levels of literacy and with a literate  mother (and now we know father) I find it hard to believe that these children would not at least be able to sign their  names. An X suggests total illiteracy.

Perhaps I am more of a cynic, but it seems to me that a lot of ancestry  research is like a lot of archeological research.... it is conjecture.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it draws upon our intuitive skills in a  bid to better understand something which does not make sense.

But the explanation of it not being fashionable to sign one’s name, which has been given as a a possibility, does  not make sense to me given the hierarchy of society at the time and the  snobbery associated with the class system.

Writing was a sign of one’s status.... illiteracy a sign of  inferiority... I can accept that a woman who could sign her name might  use a mark if her husband was illiterate so as not to embarrass him but I  don’t see why a witness would.

More to the point, the oral history in my family had Mary as illiterate.  Given the shame associated with illiteracy I don’t think that is the  sort of story which would be made up and handed down through  generations.

And Mary’s signature on her marriage certificate is so shaky and badly  formed .... it is not the signature of someone who is literate. The  George Lewis signature as witness on the other hand is well formed and  is actually very similar to Kate Clavin so if he put a mark on his wedding certificate I am wondering if someone wrote  their signatures. I might see if I can find a handwriting expert to ask  about this because it could be an important source of information.

And there is certainly time for Mary to become semi-literate before she married eight years after Elizabeth.

It makes me ponder again an earlier rumination as to whether or not  Elizabeth was literate.

Kylie replied:
I  have always wondered about this.  I have found places where the same  person has signed their name and others where they used a mark and it confused  me no end.  However I was reading a book on English records for tracing  the family tree and he made the point that using a mark was common even  in the literate and that you should never use that as an indication that the ancestor was illiterate.  It seems  they considered the signature and the mark as interchangeable and that  it did not reflect on their intelligence or education to use a mark.

Also,  at one stage, it was considered unlucky for a girl to sign their name on a wedding certificate if the man used a mark.  I wonder if this just  became unlucky to sign on a wedding certificate at one stage.  If this  is the case, it could explain why they have used marks on this wedding  certificate, whereas Elizabeth’s generation seemed to use their signature.  It may just be a fashion.

Mary  could sign her name, she did on both copies of her marriage certs.  It looks like George signed his name on her marriage cert but he put his  mark on his marriage certificate in 1872.  This marriage took place in  1880, 8 years before Mary’s marriage.  Perhaps the fashion had changed  by then, or she was old enough not to bother with the fashion.

All  history is conjecture and interpretation.  I can’t find the exact page and it is not indexed but the author was talking about wills and other  documents such as letters that were known to be written by someone,  competently in their own hand, then finding they had done a mark only on  other documents, such as wills, marriage certs or witnessing documents.  Having come across a few examples myself now,  it struck a chord with me. 

You  wondered if Edward was illiterate, and that was why the children  weren’t taught.  I don’t think so as his signature on Elizabeth’s cert is very  confident and well formed.  It is definitely in a different hand to the  rest of the cert so I presume it was his signature. 

Anyway  these are the two certificates with Georges mark and signature.  NB: When the site lets me upload images again I will post these. You are correct that sometimes the clerk would copy the certificate but he  was supposed to do the mark or signature as a facsimile, so it is hard  to tell what’s what (and it should have been marked as a copy).

 I have  wondered if the mark was actually Sarah’s as her sister only gave a mark as the witness.  I can’t imagine the clerk  doing one mark but not others, so I assumed that George couldn’t read or  write.  However it certainly looks like he signed Mary’s certificate.   Also attached is the bible front page.  I wondered who filled this out.  If you check the letters are the same as  his signature on Mary’s cert.  Fancier and neater but formed in the same  basic way.

And as I now can see from the signature on the two marriage  certificates, Edward Atkins had a well-formed hand as Kylie pointed out,  which looks like that of a literate man.

So the issue of handwriting can prove fruitful if not conclusive in such research. If Mary and Elizabeth were illiterate it does raise questions which could bring important answers.

Such questions prompt ponderings. Perhaps Edward was a bigamist and spent little time with Elizabeth given the size of his family with Hannah. Left on her own Elizabeth would have been busy with her two sons from her first marriage and three more children in quick succession with Edward. If Elizabeth were literate but spent much of her time alone it would not be surprising that her children did not learn to write, if indeed that were the case.

It would also explain why it looks like Elizabeth and her three children moved to Gladstone, some time before 1880, when Elizabeth Atkins marries and Mary is her witness and lists her place of residence as Gladstone, while Edward remained at Wirrabarra.

Did Hannah stay on at Bundaleer while Edward worked at Wirrabarra, only to re-appear years later as the first wife? Her son Henry, if he lived, would have been fourteen in 1857 and the oldest girls around twelve and ten. Bundaleer (Jamestown) is some 50km from Wirrabarra and probably a day and a half’s journey.

Could this be why Elizabeth and her children, from what we can see, did not put up a death notice for Edward and were not mentioned in the death notice which the children of his first family published? Clearly by the time Edward Atkins died at Whyte Park, Wirrabarra, at the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Hannah would have been dead or she would have been mentioned.

 Or perhaps it was her death, sometime in the 1870’s, which brought Edward Atkins’s children from the first marriage to Wirrabarra where they discovered his second family and Elizabeth learned the truth?

The fact is that Edward Atkins was married twice and when he died we know his second wife was living but she did not get a mention. Neither, by the look of it, did the children he had with her. The daughters mentioned fit with his marriage to Hannah and there is every chance that Henry Edward who was born in 1843, survived.

If a woman discovered her marriage was bigamous in the late 19th century and her children were illegitimate, would she wish to hide that fact by leaving her husband and moving her children far enough away to keep the secret? Gladstone is some 30km from Wirrabarra and a good day’s travel by horse.

A bigamous marriage could explain why they moved away and why there was no death notice for Elizabeth Mashford and her children.

It is of course all conjecture but there is food for thought? My hope now is that I will be able to trace Edward Atkins to his Gloucestershire roots.

The two marriage records...

The marriage record of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.

Above: The marriage record for Edward Atkins and Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

We have solved the mystery of the 'two' Edwards - and he was a Gloucestershire lad

Being thwarted at a moment of breakthrough seems to be the way of things with ancestry research and the long post I did yesterday turned into unreadable format. I am in the process of getting help to fix it or will rewrite.

But for those who were frustrated by the headline with no information, the breakthrough is that the two Edwards are one. Kylie has received the marriage certificate for Hannah Mcleod and Edward Atkins and Edward's signature, which is quite distinctive, is exactly the same as that on the marriage certificate for our Edward and Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

So, he was married twice. We have hordes of extra relations. And he was a Gloucestershire lad.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Another dead end in the process

I won't say that hopes were high but there were hopes that the Anglican archives for Wirrabarra might throw some light on our ancestor, Edward Atkins and whether or not he and Hannah Mcleod's Edward are one and the same.

But it seems we have found another dead end. The response from them is as follows:

Your request for info re your great-great grandfather came to me in a roundabout manner from Joan Reed and Janelle Shephard.  The early records from our area were kept at Clare. While doing research for Yet Still They Live -- Wirrabara's Story  in 1972 - 74 I made a note of baptisms in Wirrabara,Wirrabara Forest (Whites' Forest), Charlton, Bangor, Stone Hut from 1855 to 1877, which were  listed in the St Barnabas' register, and also those listed in the Seven Hills Jesuit College Register.  

The only reference I have to Atkins is the baptism of James Haines on 28/10/1862 son of  Edward and Elizabeth Atkins -- occupation of father - Bushman.  I haven't any records for Edward and Hannah Atkins.  It seems that this is another  family.
Some of the records for this area could be listed in the registers at Holy Trinity Church, Melrose.  These would go back further than Wirrabara's.

However, one door closes and another opens for I have the name of a contact at Melrose who might be able to help. However, I will have to phone when I am next in Australia so that will delay the process for a couple of months. If one does not have patience beginning ancestry research then it is a skill which must be learned. 

Apart from the incorrect spelling of Haynes (often Haines) and the registering of Edward as a bushman... not sure what that means and it may be another name for shepherd... there is no new information to hand. 

At this point it is safe to say that we simply do not know if our Edward is Hannah's Edward although if one were to lean in any direction it would be toward there being two families, not one. That is however conjecture and so we need to keep an open mind at this point and continue to pursue a death record for Hannah or any information about her family which could help us make a decision once and for all, either in the positive or the negative. 

And Kylie has responded to the latest tidbit of information with a comment I find heartening:

Disappointing but if the register only dates from 1855 then I wouldn’t have expected anything, although where are the girls?  Perhaps not that accurate?
I do hope that the marriage certificate from Holy Trinity is readable.  It now seems the most likely to help.  Beryl did warn me that they are very scratchy etc (the microfilm I presume).  More waiting……..
And it is a good point. It is too easy to become disheartened when information must be assessed in context and if the source is not so accurate then neither are the results. The search continues.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

An education in life and times as well as family

There is no doubt that ancestry research is educational and not just about one's own family. In trawling through the past one ends up researching general as well as personal history.

It is in fact an important part of the process in terms of understanding the material which is uncovered and gaining greater understanding of the lives our ancestors have lived.It can also be quite sobering if not depressing which is why I have chosen the image of a flower to head my post, to balance the images of death which come later.

Kylie and Luke are far more seasoned researchers than I am and have a wealth of knowledge to offer to the process, but, as with many things, we see the world differently and don't always agree. And that's a good thing because it means the focus of research covers a variety of bases instead of just one or two. 

Having more than one person involved in this process is absolutely invaluable and I am sure increases the chances of making progress just because there is more minds and more time involved. 

Our latest discussion has been about the death notice for the Edward Atkins who died at Whyte Park. My sense, and that is sourced in common sense and gut feeling, is that the wording should be taken seriously, absolutely seriously, but Kylie is not so sure and neither is the researcher who has been doing some work for us. 

Kylie writes:

.....they seemed to make up the lists including dead and alive, sometimes a rough estimate, sometimes an exaggeration, and then seemed to choose any form of wording to go with it. She  (the researcher) laughed at the idea of taking it too seriously.

Think about how it would actually happen. Someone would write up the list, most probably one of the daughters in this case. They would do a rough draft of what they wanted to say but they may not know how many words or how the words were counted. They would give it to someone to take to town when they were next there, maybe a week or two later.

This would probably have been one of the men or even a neighbour. The wording was chosen in consultation with the newspapers agent, often the owner of the local paper, or the general store, using one of a selection of currently used ‘phrases’, to fit to size allowed. The person approving the final wording may not remember the list includes dead or alive, so the wording was entirely appropriate to them. 

They may have to reduce the wording of the original they were given or have words to spare. The ‘to mourn their loss” looks like such words, as do the “Gloucestershire papers please copy” (even more so when you see the “English papers please copy”). Some people take these things seriously, some don’t.

Luke is right about how there are different conventions at the time too, and these are very hard to pin down, even today, but I also think that even in Victorian times these things varied greatly from family to family. Some families never complied with the forms of the day, others were horrified by the smallest variance.

If you read the etiquette books of the day you would get a very different view of behaviour from the actual behaviour of the day, just as if anyone followed some of the modern etiquette books today we would think them pompous and unnatural. Things change with each decade, each generation and vary from area to area, from one social set to another, from family to family, even between two people in a marriage. Some people always talk about their dead as if they are still alive and others never mention them.

The Victorians were no more homogenous that we are. I think this notice is more about being proud of taking part in and surviving the settlement of South Australia, noting the mark their father had left on such a project, his part in building the Empire.

That is the thing I find strangest about this notice, it is saying look what a difference Edward made, he was 84, a pioneer of over 50 years and “leaving one son, 5 daughters, 47 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren” in SA, a significant contribution. 

The leaving could have merely referred to leaving that many children, grandchildren, making their mark on South Australia, even if that mark was a small grave. They were there, they were South Australian, they counted.

The real question, when advertising your contribution, is why not include all the children, your total contribution? It was when I realised that the total in this death notice was only the first family and almost certainly did not include Elizabeth’s children, that I started questioning what links we did have between the two families. Even if we find Hannah died before 1857, we are still left without a definite link. Cherrie’s comment that she has seen this sort of separate notice before is interesting, a rift is another explanation, but we are still left with a question mark.

Luke, the reason I doubt that James is the “1 son” is that his children are not included in the grandchildren, I can’t think of why they would miss them. Unless we find Henry lived past 4 or 5 years, I would assume it was Joseph, he would be remembered by the oldest girls, Henry may not have been remembered even if he lived to four or five.

I don’t think these people were of a social class who could afford too great a degree of mourning.  Anyway our rituals never reached the heights of Victorian England. 
In Australia, funerals were less extravagant and mourning rituals less strict - especially in rural areas. From the 1870s, funeral reforms in both Britain and Australia resulted in a move toward more modest and cheaper funerals, and encouraged recycling or adapting old clothing for the mourning period rather than purchasing new outfits

We’ll have to wait and see if (the historian) can find any mention of him. There is certainly no marriage or death in the indexes for him.

Anyway, we’ll just keep chipping away at it and we may end up with an answer, one day.

I think Kylie's position is sound in general but I still have misgivings about not taking the wording of the death notice too seriously.

I agree with Kylie that I doubt James would have been included and my guess is that Henry lived to adulthood. I do think it is a bit of a stretch to have younger sisters in adulthood, including brothers who have died as very young children, in a death notice.

As to how seriously one takes the death notice, I am not sure that differences of opinion matter too much at this stage because the only thing which needs to be pursued at this point is a death record for Hannah. Finding more children or a death record for Henry would help but at this stage of the game the Whyte Park family does not include our ancestors and the most important thing about linking our Edward to Hannah's Edward is the link to his place of origin.

However, I think it is certainly highly likely at this stage that Hannah's Edward is our Edward and there was a rift between his first and second families... there are enough clues so far to make that a likely possibility. I also feel it is a bit of a stretch to make things 'fit' better by not taking the death notice seriously.

In terms of 'not taking it too seriously,'  this runs counter to every instinct and all of the knowledge that I have about human nature. Death in those times was taken very, very seriously indeed, partly for religious reasons and partly because there was so much of it.

In eras past, people were actually more homogenous because they were bound by religious and social tradition in ways we are not. This applied to everything from how they dressed, how they wrote, how they talked etc., but it applied to death more than anything.

They took death so seriously that I actually found myself trawling through photographs of the dead, many of them children, which were sourced in Victorian funeral traditions. There was and is something very, very sad, if not traumatic about looking at the face of a dead child.

In many cases these children were propped up next to a living sibling; lying on a bed or couch behind living siblings, 'sitting' on the lap of a parent or in their agonisingly small coffins. Needless to say the parents looked utterly traumatised and no doubt they were. 

I wonder if it comforted them to have an image of their dead child or baby? Somehow it seems so much worse than just a tombstone but that is a modern view of death and I am projecting my own values onto it.
Death, in Victorian England, was a grand and complicated business. There were many social rules in the classes who could afford it about mourning clothes, degrees of mourning, and the length of time for which different mourning colours were to be worn.

In fact, if anything they were obsessed with death which makes it more likely that death notices, even if they had to save words to save money, said exactly what they were meant to say. There are so many ways of writing a death notice without using the words 'leaving to mourn.'

In fact the notice would have been cheaper if it had said: One son, five daughters etc. in mourning. There is in fact no need for 'leaving' and if it was a penny a word, the less words the better. These families would also have had to count every penny and that suggests greater, not lesser attention to such things.

The 'death' industry of Victorian times was massive. The death notice was one of the most serious things anyone ever did. People in the colonies travelled hundreds of miles to send letters and to register deaths and notices, when they could.The Victorians had quite rigid rules regarding death and I find it hard to believe that at this time, those living in the colonies were much different.

Ridiculous as it sounds and as it was, even my parents generation, born in Australia in the 1920's and often to parents who had also been born in Australia, would talk about England as home. Immigrants often hold more tightly to the traditions of 'home' than those they have left behind ever do. 

there is no doubt that the poorer classes  in England and Australia could not afford to take part in this commercialized notion of death, although they continuously desired to replicate the mourning etiquette of their social superiors. As such, during times of hardship they would often dye their own clothes black to create a similar effect.

In the  Victorian age, however,  death was more likely to be embraced rather than feared. No doubt there was an aspect of the, 'if you can't fight it, join it,' at work.  In comparison to today's secular society, Victorians held stronger convictions to the teachings of the Bible - the doctrine of the eternal soul and an eventual bodily resurrection. With so much death, particularly of children, no doubt they needed such comfort even more.

I suspect this is why religion tends to have a far more powerful hold in the Third World than the First. When death is ever-present you are going to be looking for answers or comfort of some kind. In these times the working classes in particular had a very short life expectancy mainly because of poor nutrition and poor sanitation. The prevelance of syphilis also caused high numbers of deaths of babies and children.

I suppose it is a given that when one is doing ancestry research you are dealing with the dead most of the time. It just makes their lives more real when one sees images such as those above.