Saturday, 24 February 2018

A letter - answered!!

When I wrote a note to Arthur McArthur, I never thought I would get a reply. But, very recently, I did get a reply .... from the other side.

Yes, I know, it's a bit unreal. I had the opportunity to see a clairvoyant recently and out of the blue, Arthur barged his way into my session indicating that I was looking at the family tree. At first I was confused about an Arthur because I personally have no Arthur's in my family but then I realised that it could only be Arthur McArthur.

So, with great hesitation, I asked him some questions (through the clairvoyant of course) and here are his answers and my thoughts:

DP: What happened to you?
AM: Ship Madagascar although this was said as a sort of word game and the letters could be jumbled. There was also Madeline.
I have since found that the Madagascar ship did sail from London to Melbourne in mid 1853 but Arthur would only have been 13 years of age. There were plenty of 'children' on board ships in those days so it is not unrealistic to think that Arthur could have been on this ship. There is also the conundrum that his parents cannot be found in the 1851 England Census - there was a cholera outbreak in London in 1849 when some 14,000 Londoners were killed and there were mass burials. His parents could have died then which would have made him an orphan. However, there is a family story that Arthur walked the halls of Guys Hospital in London - his father was a tailor and Arthur may have done this as a very young boy, delivering clothing to the hospital. It is certainly possible. It is also possible that he may have been on that ship. More work is needed.

AM: Arthur then indicated a date circa 1898.
Well, it was around 1900 that I have 'lost' Arthur which was around the time of the death of his father-in-law who's Will stated categorically that Arthur was not to receive anything from his Estate.

DP: Why did you leave?
AM: To escape the tyranny of injustice. He also said he feels remorse about leaving.
As mentioned earlier, the injustice could have been with regard to the Will.

DP: Can you give me some names? (I thought here that he would say Esther, his wife)
AM: Adelaide. Josephine Montgomery. Bethany, Ann, Joseph. He also said "Unrequited love".
I can understand the Adelaide reference as this comes out also in his son, George's life. George enlisted in Adelaide and we don't know why. Perhaps he was with his father in Adelaide? Certainly there are McArthur's in Adelaide but we haven't established a link or found anything else here.
With regard to the names, they are names I have never heard before and I will do more research to see if I can find anything. But...

It's still a mystery to be solved - I hope.

ON THIS DAY (27 Jan) in 1833, John Pendergast passed away

ON THIS DAY in 1833, John Pendergast passed away in Windsor and was buried in the Windsor Catholic Cemetery which is a large family vault (see photo in comments). He was the 3xgreat maternal grandfather of Lachlan Brown.
Our first convict! Also known as Prendergast and Pender.

Born on 7 June 1769 in the Coombe area of Dublin which was known as the weavers’ district. John Prendergast was tried, along with others, on 24 April 1798 with felony of receiving stolen goods from Alderman Lyndon. He was found guilty and sentenced to transport beyond the seas for 7 years – he was 30 years of age. It is unclear whether this was the same person who had previously been arrested in Kildare for Irish rebel offences.

The Minerva left Cork on 24 August 1799 bound for the new colony of NSW. John Pendergast was on board, listed as a weaver. The Minerva was the first transport to arrive in Sydney with United Irishmen on board, transported for their role in the 1998 rebellion. This is the reason there are thoughts that the Pender arrested for rebel offences, may just be the same Pendergast on board the Minerva. The Rebels were transported with a note to say that they were not ever to go back to Ireland but there is evidence that some did indeed go back to their homeland. The Minerva arrived at Sydney Cove on 11 January 1800, the journey having taken 139 days, and all prisoners were then sent to Parramatta and Town Gabby for distribution. (see extracts and notes from John Washington Price, surgeon on the Minerva.)

Although John was still technically a prisoner, by the 1801 Muster he was working land in what was then known as Mulgrave Place or the Windsor district as we now know it. He had also had a child named John with his partner Catherine – there is no record of either a marriage, the birth of John, or of the death of Catherine so we presume Catherine’s death was soon after the birth of their son.
John travelled to Parramatta to have a housekeeper assigned to him to help with the child and presumably to feed him as he was tending his lands and crops. Whether by coincidence or by planning, the transport Nile had arrived at Sydney Cove by the end of December 1801 and had sent her convict women to Parramatta to be indented as domestic servants which was a common occurrence in that early time of the colony as the settlers and released convicts were able to have newly landed convicts assigned to them if they agreed to house and feed them, thus releasing the colony from having to house and feed the new arrivals ‘on stores’ or from the stock brought into the colony from each transport. Jane Williams was a convict from the Nile and she was indented to John as his housekeeper - more about her mid year.

John and Jane were never legally married although they certainly lived as husband and wife and had 7 children. They lived on land John procured or purchased in Cornwallis which is across the river from Windsor on very flat land which was, and still is, prone to flooding. It would have been a very basic, crude way of life for Jane who came from the bustling city of Bristol in the UK. What a culture shock it must have been! In March 1805 John was “free by servitude”. He also had land at Upper Half Moon Bay where there was an orchard – the orchard still stands on that land to this day. He was known to transport his produce (wheat, grain, hogs, goats, corn etc) to Sydney town by barge on the Hawkesbury River so he would have been away from home for many many days at a stretch. John had also acquired land with both Grants and by purchase at Kurrajong, Windsor and Wollombi.

Shortly before his death, John transferred several properties to his sons John, James and William and to Thomas’ son John (Thomas had already established himself and had substantial property of his own in the Monaro district). John died intestate and just four days after his death, his son William called on his mother and John Pendergast’s next of kin to show cause why the remaining estate should not be handed over to him, William. Letters of administration granted by the NSW Supreme Court for the estate suggest that the arrangement was amicable.

It was a tough life in the far reaches of the Hawkesbury but John Pendergast prospered through hard work and possibly good luck as nothing in those early days of the Colony was certain.
 From the Journal of John Washington Price, Surgeon, on the "Minerva" which left Cork on 24 August 1799 and arrived at Sydney Cove on 11 January 1800.

ON THIS DAY (26 Jan) in 1965, Lachlan Hugh Brown passed away

ON THIS DAY (26 Jan) in 1965, Lachlan Hugh Brown (Grandpa) passed away, aged 67.

He suffered a heart attack as a consequence of suffering from emphysema for the previous 10 years. He was a heavy smoker. He was born on 23rd May 1898 in Condoblin to Henry James and Annie (nee Lynch). His birth certificate named him as Hugh Lachlan although his Will and his Death Certificate, all state he was Lachlan Hugh and he signed his name Lachlan. You can’t rely on even original sources to get it right!

He played a good game of tennis in his youth and was once doubles champion at Manly Tennis Club. He loved going to the movies on a Saturday, usually by himself, and spent a deal of time reading critiques of every movie, keeping a note of everything in his little black book. He enjoyed going to the rugby union at North Sydney Oval, sometimes taking his daughter Janet along but she spent the time on the swings in the park next door.

At the age of 31, Lachlan married Ida Florence Homan on 19th June 1929 at St James Church in Sydney. They had two daughters, Pamela Maud and Janet Isabel and the family lived in various homes in Mosman until the start of WWII when they had to sell their own home and move to 1 Silex Road to look after Ida’s grandmother, Jane Wilson Chapman (nee Sanderson) who was known as Nanny. During the War, German nationals were interned as they were classed as enemy aliens and as Nanny’s German maid was one of those interned, Lachlan and Ida had to look after Nanny who was around 95 years of age at that time.

Lachlan joined the Voluntarily Enlisted Army during WWII on 27th March 1942 at the age of 43 years 10 months and was discharged on 14th May 1944 as “unable to attend parades”. That was possibly after one route march he went on which started at Spit Junction and finished at the Blinking Light intersection – now known as Wakehurst Parkway/Warringah Road intersection. He was totally wrecked after that march which is not surprising as that’s some distance.

After Nanny passed away, Lachlan and Ida purchased 64 Muston Street, Mosman, where grandchildren can still remember visiting and staying overnight in large old fashioned bedrooms which had big beds and dark drapes at the windows. They can also remember their Grandpa as a small “slim” man, he was only 5’ 6”, who sat on the steps of the room at the back of the house, rolling his own cigarettes, watching his grandchildren playing.

He was a quiet man and never spoke about his family, or anything really. He was only 66 years old when he passed away.

The Silly Grasshopper poem

The Silly Grasshopper

This is a poem which was recently recited at Bon McArthur's funeral by his granddaughter, Sarah.
This was a poem taught to the three McArthur children Monica, Joan and Bon by their mother, Beatrice (Birdie) and it has been passed down through the generations.

The poem is actually known as The Conceited Grasshopper and it has been found in newspapers in Australia, NZ and America from early 1881.

We presume that Birdie was taught the poem by her parents as a child back home in Somerset but we can't be certain.

ON THIS DAY (3rd Jan) in 1935 Grace McLean passed away.

ON THIS DAY in 1935 Grace McLean passed away in Sydney, aged 59 - 3rd January.

The Colony of Fiji became a British colony in 1874 after many years of unrest amongst the Fijian Chiefs, the Tongan Chiefs who had claimed much of what we now know as Fiji, and the British Parliament, the Colony of Fiji was formed in 1874. Then, in 1875, Fiji suffered a catastrophic measles epidemic with about a third of the population succumbing to the disease.

This was the Fiji that Grace was born into in 1875 to William and Isabella Graburn (nee McInnes). Grace’s siblings were: Mary Isabella, Ossella, Nelson and Arthur and Agnes.

Grace married Farquhar Frederick McLean in 1900. They had three children: Marjorie Graburn (born 6/6/1903 who married Roy Stanley Fenton); Malcolm Graburn (born 1905 who married Kathleen Quayle); and Ian (born 1906 who married Lillian Louis).

During this time, Farquhar was working at Morris Hedstroms in Suva and during the depression he started his own business selling fabric. A fire in Suva in 1923 engulfed the entire street including 8 tailors, 18 refreshment rooms (grog shopos) and many other retailers. Farquhar rebuilt the drapery business but then a hurricane hit Suva and destroyed all the new stock.

At the beginning of 1935 Grace and Farquhar moved to Sydney to live with Marjorie and Roy Fenton. However, Grace was suffering from hydatids from eating rabbits in Fiji. She went straight into hospital for an operation but suffered surgical shock (low blood pressure) and died a few hours later. It was 3rd January 1935.

DEATH NOTICE in Sydney Morning Herald:
McLEAN – January 3, 1935. Grace (nee Graburn), dearly beloved wife of F.F. McLean and loving mother of Marjorie (Mrs R.S. Fenton), Malcolm and Ian, late of Suva, Fiji, aged 62 years.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Darby and Joan of Bath – Happiness and Heartbreak

It was a cool, crisp September Autumn morning in 1935. The photographer moved around the backyard looking for the perfect spot. He moved two seats in front of the rose garden and set up his camera.

Oliver and Harriet Butt were celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary the next day (30th September) and the Bath Chronicle had asked for a photograph to go with a story about the Butts. Oliver was a well respected Police Constable, having lived and worked throughout the Somerset county, and they were both very active in the local Methodist Church.

Oliver had bought a new suit for the occasion, had a rose from the garden in his lapel and his hands were crossed softly in his lap. Harriet was in her Sunday best and she gently held a large bunch of roses in her lap.

Although they looked to be comfortable in front of the camera, it would actually have been a very unusual and out of character position for them to be in. Oliver and Harriet had an air of happiness and contentment about them with shy smiles on their faces. And so they should after 50 years together.

However, Oliver had not always been happy as heartbreak had plagued him throughout his life.

Oliver’s parents were John Butt (born 18th May 1818 in Burnham, Somerset) and Susan Dampier (born c1826 in Yarcombe, Devon) who married on 20th May 1851 at Burnham On Sea, Somerset. By 1861, John was listed as a Chelsea Pensioner in the England Census and in January 1865, John passed away and was buried on 11th January 1865. Oliver was only 6.5 years old when his father passed away. Susan then remarried (George Emery) in the December of that same year. By the 1871 England Census, Oliver was working in the local silk factory and living with his mother and step father at 1 Albert Place “Rose Cottage” Taunton.

At the age of 20, Oliver married Emma Tuck at the Parish Church in Aisholt, Somerset. Emma was 5/6 years older than Oliver and there appears to be no issue from this marriage. The next tragedy struck with Emma passing away in the February of 1882. She was buried on 20th February in the Parish of Aisholt. Three years later, Oliver married Harriet Normal Bourne on 30th September 1885 at Rook Lane Meeting, United Methodist in the District of Frome, Somerset. By this time, Oliver was a police constable. Oliver and Harriet had three children: Gilbert George who migrated to Canada and died there in 1915 aged 28 years; Beatrice who married George Kirby McArthur, migrated to Australia, and died there in 1931 aged 41 years; and Rowland who migrated for a while but returned to Bath and died there in 1922 aged 29 years. Oliver and Harriet had survived their three children. Heartbreak indeed.

Through all of this, Oliver and Harriet enjoyed a loving and stable marriage and tomorrow, 30th September, they would be celebrating with the rest of their extended family, brothers and sisters and, of course, they would go to Church to give thanks.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

A Letter – Never to be Sent, Never to be Read ...

Dear Arthur

I have been looking for you for about 9 years! Please help as I’m sick of looking frustratingly at the computer and doing hundreds of searches of every database I can find. Seriously though. I know a lot about you but I don’t really know you. So, it’s really quite simple!

Who are you?
Where did you go and what happened to you?

Were you born Arthur McArthur in 1840 at 12 Robert Street, St Andrew, Holborn (above the Bars) in London and baptised on 18 May at St Andrew Western, Holborn? This is the only reference I can find of an Arthur McArthur who was born in London between 1835 and 1855. If this is you, then your parents were Sechibald McArthur and Martha Morris – did they ever marry and where were they born? Sechibald was a tailor and you all lived Above the Bars in Holborn which I believe was a place where solicitors had their offices. As a tailor, did your father work for the solicitors. Did he also make suits and clothes for doctors at Guys Hospital because a family story says that “Arthur walked the halls of Guys Hospital”. Were you delivering your father’s wares?

If all this is wrong, then who were your parents and where/when were you born?

When did you come to Australia and why? I cannot find a shipping record of when you arrived in Australia, or none that I’m absolutely certain is you.

You were on the Electoral Rolls for The Bogan in 1876 with a residence in Forbes. But you were not on the Rolls for 1875. Were you living at Esther’s place in 1876? If so, how did you meet and why was Esther in Forbes?

You married Esther Kirby on 18th August 1877 at Esther’s residence In Forbes although your Marriage Certificate gives me no clue as to who you are. You and Esther had three children:
·      Florence, born 1 December 1871 in Stokes Hill, Forbes (3.5 months after your marriage)
·      George Kirby, born 28 January 1880 in Forbes
·      Victoria Sylvia, born 3 March 1886 in O’Connell Street, Parramatta
When Florence was born, you gave your age as 39 years and born in London which would give you a birth year of 1838. But when Victoria Sylvia was born 9 years later, you said you were 35!! For a bookkeeper, your figures leave a lot to be desired.

There is a family story that you abandoned your family after your father-in-law’s Will was read in mid 1894 as he left quite a bit of real estate and personal estate to his daughter Esther, his son and his grandsons for their sole use. Is this true? Did you leave your family because you were not to inherit anything?

You disappeared off the face of this earth! Where did you go and what did you do? What were the circumstances of you leaving the family?

Your living family would really like to know about you. There are just so many questions that we would like answers to. So, please come and sit on my shoulder and have a chat! It’ll be quick, just a few questions. Maybe 4 to 5 hours!!  That’s not much time to ask for.
Thank you.