Saturday, 2 July 2011

The ties that bind the two families together ... or not!

We are at the point of sifting through the ties that bind the two families together in the hope of finding more evidence that the two Edward's are in fact one and constitute our Edward Atkins.

I have been discussing it with Kylie and Luke and our exchanges follow:

HI Ros

The marriage record you have for Ann, from the SAGHS Marriage Index it think is, has an error in the year, 1887.  This is the one from  Clearly she fits in with the rest of the girls, making it 5 daughters.

Ann Atkins
Father's name:
Edward Atkins
Spouse Name:
John Pole
Spouse's Father's Name:
Richard Pole
Marriage Date:
23 Dec 1867
Registration Place:
Frome, South Australia
Page Number:
Volume Number:

I also did a bit of research on the marriage witness at Elizabeth wedding, E Greenslade and found the attached gazette.

This is a list from the South Australian Government Gazette, May 30, 1867 for applications for the renewal or transfer of publican's licences including, Esther Emily Greenslade, Stanley Arms, Watervale.  The Stanley Arms Hotel opened in Watervale, in the heart of the Clare Valley in 1847. It burned down in 1914 and was rebuilt as the Watervale Hotel. 

This could be the same person and may explain what Elizabeth was doing up there in the first place.  With her experience she may have gone up to work in a pub.  This is years later but still interesting.

I think that is a reasonable assumption. The E. Greenslade on the marriage record looks like a woman's hand-writing and it has no Trade or calling as does the other witness, Abraham Cundall, farmer. And we know that Mary Cann Mashford worked as a publican, as did Josiah Labbett Mashford later in Victoria, so one presumes Elizabeth might have had some experience. And perhaps she knew the Greenslades through Josiah who would have travelled through the area to inspect his timber licences.

I have also had a thought on the death notice.  If you count living and dead,  Edward and Hannah had 5 daughters, 2 sons, one of which may have died before any of the others were born leaving them unaware of him, and 47 grand children, counting those from the birth certificates only and not those from SA bio index.  I have attached the spreadsheet, the ones in red are the ones not counted. 

Yes, this also makes sense and is an argument that the Edward married to Hannah McLeod is very likely to be the Whyte Park Edward who died in 1891. The task is to fit him to our Edward. I was looking at some earlier blog posts and I mentioned our Edward dying in 1891 some time before we got the death notice for Whyte Park. Now I am wondering where this information came from.

This leaves our children out of the picture completely.  If you came across this death notice and the family lived in a more built up area you would ignore it.  It just would not fit.  The death indexes on are not complete and I have not gone through the SAGHS death indexes for Edward Atkins.  The notices in Trove are far from complete and Trove does not yet include the country papers for the area. So not having another record proves nothing if we have not searched extensively.  I have ordered the CD’s of the Death Indexes so will go through them when I get them.  I understand it is a small area with a small population but I lived in a town of about 2500 people and there were two different people with my father’s name (Leslie Gibbs) to which we were unrelated, and there was one with my mother’s name (Elizabeth May Gibbs) who was not related to either us or the other Gibbs in town.  Looking at a “common surname site, Atkins ranks 281 and Gibbs 488th.  It happens.

I am sure it does happen and may have done so. I think at this stage of the game getting more information on the Hannah/Edward children and their descendants might throw up some information. A father for Edward called Joseph would help enormously.

If you ignore this death notice what evidence is there of a rift.  Elizabeth transferring property in 1875 may indicate Edward was dead, it may indicate it was property from her side of the family, or from the Lewis side and therefore transferred to her oldest son. 

Absolutely, except in those days it was unusual for women to keep property in their own right. I know it happened but usually the husband controlled everything his wife brought into the marriage. Women had few legal rights in the 19th century. It does make me think though that if you are correct 1875 could be a significant date perhaps for the death of Peter Lewis.

Mary leaving out her father on one copy of the marriage certificate looks more like carelessness, the age and witness addresses are also missing or incomplete.  

Yes and no. One could argue that the certificate Mary got did not have her father's name because she did not want it there but the church or State record had it because the priest and clerks knew what it was and knew it had to be there.

Mary’s marriage cert doesn’t say Edward was deceased as it normally would but I have wondered if that is because the fathers occupation wasn’t on the form at that time.

I think this is important. If records normally state a parent as being deceased then would one not assume that Edward was in fact alive in 1888 which makes him a bit more likely to be the Edward who died in 1891? Also, if he were deceased and was not on Mary's marriage certificate, would his name still be required for the church and state records??? I don't know. I am presuming you or Luke would know.

The death notice of John Lewis fits with him being Elizabeth’s son and not Edward’s, it also fits with Edward being dead by then. 

We know that John Mashford Lewis is not Edward's son because we have his birth records showing Peter Lewis as the father. He was the second son of the three Elizabeth had with Peter Lewis. I am not sure it fits with Edward being dead. As a stepfather he may not have been included in the death notice anyway. It does not however suggest Edward was alive and living elsewhere. Do we have a death record for John Mashford Lewis?

Also Ros I can’t find where Edward is at Booleroo station.  Where did that come from?  I have mention of both George Lewis and James Atkins working at Booyoolie and Booyoolie station, perhaps Edward worked there too, explaining Elizabeth’s presence in Gladstone, without suggestion that there was a separation.

Edward working at Booleroo is an assumption on my part. In 1862 he is listed as a shepherd on James's birth record and living at Charlton which would later be re-named Wirrabarra and which was the settlement near Charlton Mine where no doubt he previously worked as a blacksmith. Booleroo is about 15km from Wirrabarra so it is highly likely that he worked there at times and almost a given that he knew other shepherds, like John Pole, who worked and lived there.

By the way, I sent off for a record of Edward Atkin's death and realised after the second time that I had already done it. Both came back no death recorded. The first one was general and as I said, around the date of 1891 which appeared earlier and the second one was very specific and came from the Whyte Park death notice - both came up with nothing. I find it interesting that South Australian records have nothing on Edward Atkins whether he be two or one, despite the obituary clearly stating when and where he died.

Anyway until we have more info there is no way of telling, just good fun speculating.

It certainly is and easy to forget, despite maybes, how far we have come.

And talking to Luke who says:

I have been reading all the emails with interest and have read your latest blog this morning Ros and I am also coming to the point that there is no absolute in this mystery of Edward Atkins. I would like to think that Edward Atkins had 7 daughters and three sons. Why, because  like you Ros, I am writing his life story and have now about 110 pages with maps and photos etc. It makes his life so much more interesting if he did have 7 daughters and three sons. However, Kylie you make me think about things. My first professional job was with the Legal Aid Commission in Perth Western Australia and I was trained by lawyers. This has always served me very well in the past because when I am unsure of things I apply legal principles to a mystery.

In criminal law the standard of proof is” beyond reasonable doubt”. If we were going to take the mystery of Edward Atkins having 7 daughters to a criminal court, the Judge would have to look at the evidence applying the principle of “beyond reasonable doubt”.

I think this is a good way of approaching it Luke. While we can never claim something as fact unless it is I suspect that the civil law approach is a more sensible one for ancestry research.

If we took the same mystery to a civil law court the standard of proof is different. The standard of proof if the “likelihood of something happening” or “the possible probability of something happening”.

Applying these principles, I agree with the both of you that if we took the argument that Edward Atkins had 7 daughters and three sons to a criminal law court, we would not be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt.  There is no direct proof that the Edward Atkins, who was the father of the five daughters, was the same Edward Atkins who had Elizabeth, Mary and James Atkins. The counter argument, from some lawyer, would be that we cannot establish a link that Elizabeth, Mary and James Atkins were the half sisters, and brother, to Margaret, Jane, Sarah, Ann, and Emily Atkins. As a result, we would lose the case in a criminal law court.

Our circumstantial links are however quite strong in terms of time-frames, areas and oral history.

We have a case that the father of Margaret, Jane, Sarah, Ann, and Emily Atkins was Edward Atkins, and Hannah Atkins nee McLeod was the mother for Emily, Henry Edward, and Joseph Atkins only. With this we can imply that she was also the mother of the rest of the daughters. And there are links that establish that all the 5 daughters were sisters. BUT, no direct proof that they were related to Elizabeth, Mary and James Atkins.

This is true. The only common link is a father, Edward Atkins and the name of one male child born to Edward/Hannah named Joseph when we know our Edward's father was Joseph. If we could find a record of Hannah's Edward with a father Joseph it would be a solid piece of evidence.

If we took the same argument to a civil law court, with the same evidences, a different standard of proof would be applied by the judge. That is “The possible probability of something happening”. I think we would win the case outright that the parents of Margaret, Jane, Sarah, Ann, and Emily Atkins was Edward Atkins and Hannah Atkins nee McLeod. Even without knowing who the mother was of Margaret, Jane, Sarah, Ann, and Emily Atkins was, we could, I think, convinced the judge that the 5 daughters could very well be sisters? However, I think we would still be in trouble that the 5 daughters were related to Elizabeth, Mary and James Atkins. When I think about it, there is not a lot of evidence that they were related. So what are the links we have:-

(1) All the children, Henry Edward. Margaret, Jane, Sarah, Joseph, Ann, Emily, Elizabeth, Mary and James Atkins had a father called Edward Atkins.

(2) All of the people listed above lived near by one another, that is the lower mid north of South Australia.

James Atkins: He lived at Wirrabara and Gladstone.
Mary Ross nee Atkins: She lived at Wirrabara and Gladstone.
Elizabeth Cox nee Atkins: She lived at Wirrabara and Gladstone and Terowie.
Emily Puddy nee Atkins: She lived at Melrose, Wirrabara Bangor and Whyte Park.
Jane McKinnon nee Atkins: born at Clare, married at Penwortham, lived and died at Clare.
Margaret Newberry nee Atkins: Born at Clare. She lived at Melrose, Wilmington, Port Germein and Glenorchy.
Sarah Stacy nee Atkins: Married at Penwortham. She lived at Belalie, Bundaleer Springs, Bangor and Jamestown.
Ann Pole nee Atkins: She lived at Wirrabara, Booleroo, Wongyarra, and Glenorchy.

Families lived close together in the 1800s because the family unit was the only support system that each family had to rely upon when life became difficult.

That's right and it is probably why Elizabeth Mashford Lewis ended up in Clare Valley/Rocky River given that her brother Josiah had timber licences in South Australia and this was a major timber cutting areas.

(3)Twins run in the Atkins family tree. James Atkins had twins, Ann Pole had two set of twins, and Jane McKinnon nee Atkins had twins. Margaret Newberry nee Atkins and Ann Pole nee Atkins may have been twins.

Now this is interesting because it takes the family connection further. The grand-daughter of Mary Atkins and Charles Ross, Betty (Hillard) Branson, daughter of Georgina Anastasia Ross Hillard, had twins. I also have a feeling but would have to check that there were twins amongst the grandchildren of John Constantinus Ross. The 'twins' link is actually one of the strongest pieces of evidence that these people are related. Twins are not common, well they were not prior to IVF procedures and they are definitely genetic. Two of our possible daughters, Ann and Jane had twins with a father Edward Atkins - Margaret and Ann with father Edward Atkins may have been twins - James Haynes Atkins with OUR Edward Atkins father had twins - the great-grand-daughter of OUR Edward Atkins had twins and there are I think twins amongst the descendants of OUR Edward Atkins. I wonder what the statistics would be of 'twins' being present in two separate families both with fathers called Edward Atkins? Slight I suspect.

I cannot think of any other fact, than what is above, which links the 5 daughters to the 3 children of Elizabeth Atkins nee Mashford. There could be two different Edward Atkins. However, on the other hand, using the principle of the standard of evidence used in civil law, the two people who are called Edward Atkins could very well be the one and same person, and the Edward Atkins in the obituary could be the same Edward Atkins who was the husband of Elizabeth Mashford. We just cannot prove it one way or the other. However, it can be implied.

When I was a young boy, years ago now, I started on the Atkins family tree. I was told the oral history by my grandmother Eileen Atkins nee Bishop. She married Roy Ambrose Atkins my grandfather. He died a long time ago when I was very young and I just only remember him. But any stories she told me would have came from him and his brothers and sisters who were the children of James Atkins and Annie Atkins nee Clavin. One of my grandfather’s sisters was Ella Sexton nee Atkins. I remember her very well. She was the last of the children of James Atkins to die and was the twin of Uncle Sonny or Cyril Atkins.

Both of them told me that Edward Atkins came from England; he arrived very early after South Australia was founded. He married women whose name they could no longer remember. He married Elizabeth Mashford who was previous married to a man by the last name of Lewis and had a son called George who died of an accident. He had three children to Elizabeth Mashford, Elizabeth, Mary, and James. Mary Atkins had a child out of wedlock called Edward Atkins before she married Charlie Ross. That was all they told me beside Elizabeth Mashford being send out to South Australia because there was a scandal of who her parent’s were.

I think this bit of oral history saying Edward Atkins arrived shortly after South Australia was founded is another piece of information which links him to the Whyte Park Edward whose death notice clearly shows he was amongst the earliest settlers in South Australia. When you say you were told our Edward married 'women' whose names could not be recalled, do you mean this in the plural or should it be singular? Not that it matters because here is another piece of evidence that our Edward may well have married a Hannah McLeod first.

How does this fit in with what we know? Well not a lot. I do not know how to provide a link between the 5 daughters of Edward Atkins and the 3 children of Edward Atkins and Elizabeth Mashford. Except they all had a father called Edward Atkins. I agree that searching country newspapers may give us more evidence (I so wished I was in Adelaide to do more research) However, when I search the name of Edward Atkins on Trove or elsewhere I cannot find any other Edward Atkins who lived in Wirrabara. We know the Edward Atkins who married Elizabeth Mashford lived at Wirrabara. But as you Kylie have pointed out, there could be a possibility that they may have been another person called Edward Atkins who lived at Wirrabara. But as yet, we have not come across another Edward Atkins who live at Wirrabara. As a result, it can be argued that it is the same person. On the other hand, it cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt. So where does it leave us with this mystery?

I suppose what I am trying to say to the both of you, and to myself, is that do we as individual people want to test the evidence of Edward Atkins in a criminal law court or a civil law court? That I suppose is up to us as individual people to make a decision. I myself would like the idea that all the children are related, but I have also stressed in my family history journal, as you have done Ros in your blog, that I cannot prove it, and it is up to the reader to decide for themselves. Hence we do have to keep a open mind.

Now as to the other things.

·        To throw another spanner into the works, so to speak. What if, and I just say “If,” that Edward Atkins had a bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Mashford. Could he have left Hannah McLeod and married Elizabeth Mashford and either family know about it. Thus the reason why the obituary only mentioned the five daughters from the first marriage and no wife because Hannah had died and the son-in-law (who I think is Edward Puddy) did not know about Edward Atkins other family from Elizabeth Mashford.????

I don't think this is plausible. There were so few people living in the Clare Valley in 1857 that I am quite sure everyone would know everyone's business and there would be no way that Edward Atkins could marry, particularly in an Anglican church, with witnesses, if he had a living wife.  It just would not happen. The fact that we know he was in this area from 1849 means even if our Edward is not husband of Hannah McLeod, if there were a living wife everyone would know.

·        If the obituary is our Edward Atkins and it cuts out all the children of Elizabeth Mashford then the surviving son has to be Henry Edward Atkins, Joseph Atkins or another son which we know nothing about.

Yes, and I think this suggests that an important focus of research is both of these men. If we could find death notices for them as children then clearly they are not the son mentioned in the obituary for Whyte Park Edward.

·        Kylie as for the count of all the grandchildren.  I agree with you that we cannot prove or disprove who the grandchildren belonged to.  The attachment is the latest information I have on the grandchildren.

·        PS Kylie have you cited the death certificate of John Mashford Lewis. I am curious to know what he died of to see if he died as a result of an accident. Thus the oral history had become confused and it was not George Lewis who died of an accident (as we all now know) but was John Mashford who died as a result of an accident.

I had in an earlier blog that John Mashford Lewis died in an accident but as I said, a lot of my files have gone missing and I don't have the actual record which states this. I am going to have to make sure that when I put information on the blog I also put the record.

·        Also Kylie thank you for the death certificates for John, George and Mary Mashford. Thank you very much.

·        Hi Ros I am also confused. Where did you get the information that Edward Atkins lived at Booleroo because I have not come across that one before. I also like your idea that Elizabeth Mashford may have travelled north with her children to be with Josiah Mashford because he worked up north as a sawyer.

This was and is an assumption on my part. We had Edward listed as a shepherd on the birth record for his son James, and logically I presumed he worked in the area. It was possible he worked on the Wirrabarra run but Booleroo Station is about 15km from Wirrabarra so he may well have worked there during shearing season and given the fact that Wirrabarra is probably the closest town he is likely to have known the people who worked on Booleroo Station, including John Pole.

It is interesting to ponder the exchanges and to consider what we actually do have which ties these two Edwards together as one.

Our Edward had a father called Joseph - Hannah's Edward had a son called Joseph.

Our Edward is listed as a blacksmith at his marriage to Elizabeth Lewis - the Edward Atkins who married Hannah McLeod is also a

Our Edward lived in the
Clare Valley and Wirrabarra areas - Hannah's Edward lived in the Clare Valley. The Whyte's Park Edward lived in Wirrabarra.

Our Edward married Elizabeth Mashford Lewis at the same church,
St. Mark's Penwortham, where two of the daughters of Hannah and Edward, Jane and Sarah were also married.

The children of Hannah and Edward Atkins were baptised at St. Barnabas Church which is in the
same parish as St. Mark's Penwortham in the Clare Valley.

A number of Edward and Hannah's daughters ended up living in the Wirrabarra/Gladstone areas.

Our Edward was a
shepherd living within reasonable distance of Booleroo Station where John Pole lived and worked as a shepherd and where two of Edward and Hannah's daughters were married.

There is
no death notice so far from Elizabeth Mashford Atkins or any of her three children for our Edward's death. This is odd because clearly they were capable of such things. Someone put in a notice for the death of John Lewis and Mary Atkins Ross put in a notice for the death of her mother. If there were two Edward Atkins it is also more of a stretch that there is no death notice for either of them. When I first enquired without the Whyte Park details I gave a broad time-frame and yet nothing came up. When I asked for a search on the Whyte Park Edward Atkins, still nothing came up.

And then we have a record of
twins which is a link, but probably slight given genetics are not the only reason for twins being born. However, there is a connection and it needs to be borne in mind. There are twins in the descendants of Hannah and Edward and there are twins in the descendants of Edward and Elizabeth. We have gone quite a way back with the Mashfords and from what I can see there are no twins so the link looks like Edward. Of course it is possible that two Edward Atkins, living in the same area at the same time, had the genes for twins, but it is not likely. What is also possible is that there were two Edwards and they were cousins.
And there is a time-frame where oral history handed down through the family of Edward and Elizabeth Atkins says Edward was one of the earliest settlers in South Australia - as was the Whyte Park Edward Atkins as recorded in his death notice.

Evidence for two marriages is found in the oral history of the descendants of our Edward Atkins.

At this point I think there is more evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to suggest there was one Edward, not too. That however is not fact and so the search continues.

And I think we need to keep in mind that the obituary makes it clear that one son and five daughters were living at the time of the Whyte Park Edward's death:

“Atkins.-On the 15th November, 1891 at the residence of his son-in-law, Whyte Park, Wirrabara, Edward Atkins, aged 84 years. A colonist of over 50 years, leaving 1 son, 5 daughters, 47grandchildren and 3 greatgrandchildren to mourn their loss. Gloucestershire papers please copy.”

Clearly any deceased children could not be counted because  if they are 'left to mourn their loss,' they cannot be dead.  We need to find death records for Joseph and Henry Atkins who are the other likely children of Hannah and Edward Atkins. If one of them is alive in 1891 then we have our 'son' but if neither are alive we do not. 

There is a record showing the birth of  Henry Edward Atkins, on 17 November, 1843 in Adelaide to father Edward Atkins and mother Hannah McLeod. Edward and Hannah had married on January 3 of the same year. 

By 1845 Edward and Hannah are living in the Clare valley with their daughter Jane baptised in Clare in 1845, followed by Margaret 1847, Sarah 1850, Joseph 1851 and Emily 1854.

Finding the name of Edward Atkins's son-in-law who lived at Whyte Park, Wirrabarra would also be useful. Whyte or White Park as it is called today is a homestead about 10kms from Wirrabarra (formerly Charlton).

I am also willing to bet, human nature being what it is that the phrase  'a colonist of over 50 years' means he had been in South Australia for not much more than 50 years. If it had been 52 they would have said: over 50 years sounds better than 50 years 6 months or 50 years 11 months. This would have Edward arriving in 1840 which is the year an E. Atkins arrived on the same ship as a Hannah and Daniel McLeod. I don't think there is much doubt that the Whyte Park Edward is also Hannah's Edward but we do not yet have any evidence that it is also our Edward.

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