26 December 2011

2011 - The year in review

So much has happened this year - I've found out so many new things about my family history - that I thought I would review my research, and highlight the most intriguing and/or amazing bits.

Best Performance in a Television Series:
Thomas Wickham (1888-1973)

Thomas Wickham was my great great uncle. He was a policeman in Sydney and worked as a detective sergeant in NSW's first drug squad. He was portrayed in the television series Underbelly: Razor. I didn't watch it, but as far as I know, he's my only relative who's been dramatised in a television series!

Story That Still Leaves Me Gobsmacked That I Uncovered It:
Charles Nicholas Weiss (1789-1845) and Gaspard Weiss (1739-1815), flute virtuosos

Charles Nicholas Weiss (my great great great grandfather) and his father Gaspard Weiss (my great great great great grandfather) were both very talented flautists. Both born in Mulhouse (now part of France), they both trod a path through Italy and Geneva to England where they achieved a level of fame for their musical skills. Gaspard retired back to Mulhouse, Charles joined the British Army and died young in India.

I still am amazed at what I uncovered on Charles Nicholas Weiss. The family had a vague idea that he was born in Prussia (wrong), and was in the army and died in India. I don't think anyone really realised that he was a (then) famous flautist, who joined the British Army as a bandmaster because of his musical skills.

Plus, I've never explained how I found out about Gaspard Weiss, his father. I had worked out that Charles had been born in Mulhouse, so I found a local Alsace genealogical society (Centre Départemental d' Histoire des Familles) and sent them an email asking if they had any information on him. A few weeks later I received an envelope in the mail from them, containing all they had on him: a photocopy from "Nouveau dictionnaire de biography alsacienne", which had a short biography on him. However, the startling thing was that it noted that Charles Nicholas Weiss was the son of the entry before: Jean Gaspard Weiss. And that is where I discovered his possibly even more famous father, Gaspard Weiss. Just because I happened to send an email to a family history society in Alsace.

Ancestor I Would Have Most Liked to Meet:
Caroline Beringer (c1857-1896)

Caroline was my great great grandmother. She came to Australia from Germany with her husband and two young children. She had more children once they were here, but Caroline tragically committed suicide when only 39 years old. I imagine it was a combination of loneliness, homesickness and post-natal depression that drove her to it. I would like to think that, had I been alive, I would have been able to befriend her.

Ancestor I'd Most Like to Find Out More About in the Coming Year:
Margaret Kirkwood Macindoe (1883-1929)

Maggie was my great great aunt. She was born in Scotland and came out to Australia with the rest of her family at a very young age. She died in Callan Park Mental Hospital in Rozelle, NSW, aged just 46, having been hospitalised a number of times in her life. I'm not expecting to get access to her medical records because there is a 100 year restriction on access to medical records, but I'd love to find out why she was in the mental hospital. I can't imagine that it was a good place to die.

Death Bed Message That I'd Love to Read:
Thomas Macindoe (1841-1901)
Thomas Macindoe was my great great grandfather. He was a difficult man, who'd been brought up by an alcoholic mother, and whose wife also turned to drink. Upon his death there was a death bed message that was supposed to published in the newspapers. His children went to court over his will and frittered away all the inheritance, apparently leaving no money for the publication of the death bed message. I'd love to know what it said! It is supposed that it was probably about the evils of drink, but that's just guessing.

Relative Who Met the Most Unusual Death:
Theophile Augustus Naudin (c1845-1880)
Augustus Naudin was the first husband of my great great grandmother. After Augustus died she later married the man who was my great great grandfather. Augustus was eaten by cannibals in Papua New Guinea, leaving behind two wives (whom he bigamously married) with 5 or 6 children as well. They were possibly better off without him!

20 December 2011

Who was the Rev James Dunlop married to?

I have been going through an old photo album of my great aunt's, scanning the photos, as well as trying to work out who they all are. Apart from having many many photos of my ancestors in the Paterson and Macindoe families, it has produced some puzzles for me to solve as well.

The latest puzzle I've been working on is "Rev Dunlop" and his wife "Mrs Dunlop". According to the photos, the Rev Dunlop was married to one of my great great grandfather Thomas Macindoe's sisters. As far as I know Thomas had four sisters: Mary McIndoe (it seems that Thomas used the "Macindoe" spelling of his surname, but the rest of his family generally used "McIndoe"), born 7 April 1826, Margaret McIndoe, born about 1838, Jane McIndoe, born about 1840, and Jeanie McIndoe, born about 1843.

Of these four sisters I know that the youngest sister Jeanie McIndoe married Thomas Weir, from a marriage notice in the Glasgow Herald:

"At Albion Cottage, Helensburgh, on the 12th inst., by the Rev. James Dunlop, Motherwell, assisted by the Rev. John Lindsay, Helensburgh, Mr THOMAS WEIR, writer, Glasgow, to JEANIE, youngest daughter of the late WALTER MACINDOE, Esq., of Ashfield." Glasgow Herald, 13 August 1875.

I don't think it is too presumptuous to assume that the Rev James Dunlop who married Thomas Weir to Jeanie McIndoe was the Rev Dunlop who was married to Jeanie's sister, especially considering he was "imported" in from a different parish to celebrate the marriage. So, clearly, his first name was James.

Searching historical newspapers, I hoped to find a marriage notice for Rev James Dunlop. No such luck. However, I did find his death notice:

"MOTHERWELL. - DEATH of a U.P. MINISTER. - Yesterday morning the Rev. James Dunlop, U.P. minister at Motherwell, died in the 60th year of his age and the 36th of his ministry. Mr Dunlop, through failing health, found it necessary lately to resign his charge. He was born in Irvine in 1823, and was educated at Glasgow University, where he took the degreee of M.A. He laboured at Biggar for nineteen years prior to being called to Motherwell." Glasgow Herald, 26 January 1883. [U.P. stands for United Presbyterian.]

Googling him, I found out he had two ordained brothers, the Rev Hugh Dunlop and the Rev William Dunlop, and he himself was ordained on 14 April 1847, and he accepted a call to the Motherwell parish in 1866. Still no mention of a wife though.

I am guessing that the wife could be Mary McIndoe, mainly because she's the closest in age to James Dunlop. A search on FamilySearch revealed two options: two marriages between a James Dunlop and a Mary McIndoe - one a marriage in Biggar, Lanarkshire in July 1851, the other a marriage in Kilmaronock, Dunbartonshire on 4 July 1851. My hunch is that this is the same event, registered in two places, probably each person's home parish. I could check on Scotlands People, but I would have to pay then, and I prefer to do my genealogical research for free if possible. It must be my Scottish heritage!

Further searching on FamilySearch revealed children of the marriage, the first being named Walter Macindoe Dunlop. I think that clinches it - the first son named after Mary's father. Finally, I've worked out that the Rev James Dunlop was married to Mary McIndoe!

17 December 2011

William Rich married his cousin

...at least I think so. I wrote about William Rich recently, and said I was going to send away for some transcripts of marriage and death records. They arrived today. And I learnt quite a few new things!

  1. William Rich was not from Devon, England, but instead from Bridgwater, Somerset. His marriage record for his marriage to Lavinia Bennett neé Huxley says he was from Bridgwater. His death record says Devonshire. Considering he wasn't present at the time his death was registered I'm inclined to believe he was from Bridgwater. Unless he lied at his wedding, but we have no reason to think he might have.
  2. His mother's maiden name was Milton. Which is interesting, because the name of the house he lived in at Rose Bay was "Milton". And the maiden name of his first wife's mother (Susannah Maria Bindon) was Milton. Furthermore, Susannah had a lot of siblings, one of whom was named Elizabeth. Was this William Rich's mother? Evidence from the 1851 English Census suggests she was: William's sister, Avice, was staying with her uncle at the time of the census - Benjamin Milton, in St Decumans, Somerset. Susannah and Elizabeth had a brother Benjamin, and the birth dates for the brother and this Benjamin Milton match up. So it would seem that William Rich married his cousin Mary Jane Bindon.
  3. William was listed as a gold miner on the marriage record, though his usual residence was recorded as Sydney. So he clearly was no longer working in Peel River. On the death certificate he was listed as a farmer. Where? None of the directory listings I have found for him list an occupation. Is that what he was doing at La Perouse when his wife Lavinia was in Bondi? There are market gardens in La Perouse that have been there for about 150 years...
  4. The death certificate says that he was in NSW for 73 years. Considering he died aged 95 in 1927, this suggests he arrived in NSW in about 1854, when he was 22. Narrowing this down still doesn't help me work out how he got here - there's no records that I can find that match that.
  5. The other thing I learnt is that William Rich was buried in Waverley Cemetery. Waverley Cemetery is the only major cemetery in Sydney that I can think of which does not have a deceased search function on its website. You have to go to the actual cemetery to find out whether the person in question is buried there, and where exactly. That William is buried there also gives me a clue why I've never been able to find his wife Lavinia's burial information either - probably because she is buried there as well. Considering she died in Katoomba it doesn't seem the first place to look for her, but for the fact I now know her husband was buried there.

So now I just need to try and sort out the confusing tangle of Riches, Miltons and Bindons. It may take a while!

The Weiss Gene

Being the Christmas season I thought I should write about my most memorable Christmas dinner, mainly because I feel the story needs to be preserved for future generations!

After a big lunch with another branch of the family, the extended family was having dinner with my maiden great aunts. Because we generally don't eat too much at Christmas dinner, there was a reasonably small first course. I seem to recall there was some Christmas ham, some sliced and probably lavishly buttered bread stick, some canned beetroot, some tomato, and some cheese, chopped up from a block of cheese. So after that, and after lunch, we were probably full already.

And then my great aunt brought out the dessert. Desserts actually. Nine in total. I have absolutely no recollection as to what they each were, apart from a vague memory of a chocolate and mint something-or-other in a bowl - it's the green of the mint flavouring that I remember. My brother-in-law and my grandmother's cousin decided to try all of them - just because then they could say they had tried nine different desserts at Christmas dinner - which took them quite some time! They probably didn't feel so well afterwards either!

And I feel that Christmas dinner sums up my great aunt, a Weiss, very accurately. She thought it was wonderful - after all she organised it! She's always had a sweet tooth, which is known in our family as "The Weiss Gene". I'd be interested to hear from other Weiss' whether this is a trait in their branch of the family too!

13 December 2011

Postcards from the war

My mother has two postcards which were passed on to her from her own mother. They were sent in 1916 to an unknown female relative, from her father, who was away at war in France.

From the details written on the cards we could tell it was a young girl because her father called her "girlie", but we knew it wasn't my grandmother because her father, Adolf Beringer, didn't go to war. We wondered if it was someone on my grandfather's side of the family - but looking at all the men in those families there was no one who seemed to fit. So we looked at ancestors in the Rich family - my grandmother's mother's family.

And we had a possible contenter: my grandmother's favourite cousin - Cousin Dorothy - her father went to war. In Dorothy's family there was her father, Harry Radley, her mother, Emma Radley nee Rich, Dorothy, and her brother Kenrick. So, with no sisters, it was quite likely that Dorothy might be her father's "girlie". One of the postcards was a birthday postcard, and it read "Wishing my dear little girlie many happy returns of 9/2/17". The only problem was that we didn't know Dorothy's date of birth - we only knew it was about 1913 - the NSW BDM birth records in the online search are only up until 1910 at the moment, and this was after that. Googling didn't come up with any birth dates either. I was looking up Harry Radley's service records at the National Archives of Australia when I discovered that Dorothy also had one. Although her actual service record is not yet available online the available information had her date of birth: 9 Feb 1913! So, quite by accident, I confirmed that the postcards were sent to my grandmother's favourite cousin, Dorothy Radley.

I suppose that the reason why my grandmother had them was that Dorothy never married and had no children, so there were no descendants of her own to pass such treasured belongings on to. To give them to your favourite cousin would be quite logical. I only vaguely remember Cousin Dorothy. I didn't meet her many times, but I remember she was a lovely kind lady.

Oh, by the way, the cards both have quite a bit of foxing on them. Are there any paper conservators out there who could tell me a good gentle way to clean them, without damaging them?

12 December 2011

André de Beranger's war service

André de Beranger, silent movie actor, was actually my great great Uncle George - born George Augustus Beringer. I have previously written about him here.

A relative, Bryony Cosgrove, has done quite a lot of research on "Uncle George", and has just had an article on him published: "Missing in Action, Caught on Film: Silent Film Actor "André de Beranger" Goes to War".

11 December 2011

Andrew Paterson

Andrew Paterson was my great great great grandfather, born 12 Jan 1803 in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, to William Paterson and Lillias Welch/Welsh.

He married Margaret Kirkwood in Barony (a parish of Glasgow), Lanarkshire, Scotland on 23 Jun 1826. They had nine children, the youngest of whom was my great great grandmother Ellen Paterson.

Andrew Paterson was a stonemason. I don't know exactly when Andrew moved to Glasgow, but he was working there as a mason when he got married in 1826, aged 23. Presumably he did an apprenticeship, but I haven't located any Scottish apprenticeship records available online. So whether he did it in Clackmannanshire or Glasgow I couldn't say. I do know that his wife's father, Alexander Kirkwood, was also a mason, so perhaps he learned the trade from his future father-in-law - pure speculation on my part though!

I shall give a timeline of all the events of Andrew's life that I have been able to establish, and then discuss my issues after that:

    12 Jan 1803 - Born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire
    23 Jun 1826 - Married Margaret Kirkwood, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Andrew noted as a mason.
    28 May 1827 - Daughter Margaret born in Gorbals, Lanarkshire
    1829 - Son William born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire
    6 Jan 1832 - Daughter Lilias born in Barony, Lanarkshire
    19 May 1834 - Daughter Janet (Jessie) born in Dunoon and Kilmun, Argyll. Birth record lists Andrew as a stonemason.
    18 Aug 1836 - Daughter Ann born in Barony, Lanarkshire
    Abt 1841 - Daughter Jane born in Lanarkshire
    31 Jan 1841 - Daughter Mary born in Barony, Lanarkshire
    6 Jun 1841 - Living in Blackhill, Lanarkshire in the 1841 Census, working as a mason. Other members of the family on the census are: Margaret (wife), Margaret (daughter), William, Lillias, Janet, Ann, Jane and Mary.
    19 Nov 1842 - Son Alexander Kirkwood born in Barony, Lanarkshire. Birth record lists Andrew as a stonemason.
    11 Nov 1845 - Daughter Ellen born in Blackhill, Lanarkshire. Birth record not located.
    14 Dec 1846 - “At Blackhill, on the 14th instant, Mr. Andrew Paterson, Manager of the Monkland Canal.” Glasgow Herald, 18 Dec 1846

It is believed that Andrew Paterson, although he was a mason, was the manager of the Monkland Canal, which connected Monklands to Glasgow and was an important trade route. There was a lock at Blackhill, which was rebuilt in 1841. I wonder if this is how a mason came to be the manager of the canal - locks would presumably have been built with stone and wood in those days, and I guess that Andrew's masonry skills would have assisted with managing the rebuilding of the lock at Blackhill.

Because of the seemingly unlikely idea of a mason managing a canal I had wondered if there were two Andrew Patersons - one a mason, the other the canal manager. However in the post office directories of the time there is only one Andrew Paterson listed, and so I can only conclude that either one of them wasn't listed, or they were the same person. The rebuilding of the locks in 1841 gives me more reason to believe they were the same person. As well as this, there were no more children born in the family after my great great grandmother Ellen, which fits with a father no longer being around to contribute to more children. So although I can't say with complete certainty that he was, it would seem that my great great great grandfather was the manager of the Monkland Canal.

06 December 2011

The importance of reading handwriting correctly

I have previously written about the Wickham family and the sheet of paper, written by an unknown hand, which records dates of birth for the family members, and also other important dates.

One of the most mysterious pieces of information on that sheet of paper regards an apparent stay in Mackay by Thomas Wickham (patriarch of the Australian branch of family, not Thomas Wickham the policeman, who was his grandson). Here's an excerpt:

"Married Dec 7th 1835, sailed for Sydney Dec 20th 1852, arrived at Sydney April 29th 1853, left for Mackay Jun 29th 1867, returned to Sydney July 1878. Died at Summer Hill 13th Sept 1897."

I had no idea why Thomas went to Mackay, and could only assume that Rachel, his wife, went with him. I searched and searched for indications of why he was there - for 11 years no less - but to no avail. I contacted the Mackay Family History Society and they (for a small fee) checked everything - electoral rolls, post office directories, the local paper in case it mentioned his leaving in 1878 (unfortunately they didn't have the relevant issue of the paper), and histories of the local churches but there was no mention of him in any of them.

So that mystery remained unsolved.

And then I showed the piece of paper to my mum and she took one look and said "Macleay". Oops. Yes, it did look like "Mackay" but it also looked like "Macleay" - the Macleay River region, up near Kempsey. I looked at Thomas and Rachel's kids and yes, some of them lived in the Macleay River area - Kempsey, Macksville...

So that solves that mystery. [Feeling a little bit sheepish here].

04 December 2011

William Rich

William Rich was my great great grandfather. My mother and I have done a lot of digging on William Rich but there are still a lot of questions about his life.

He was born in somewhere (there's a possible contender in Sutcombe) in Devonshire, England(1) in about 1832 to William and Elizabeth Rich(2). He apparently had at least one sister, Avice(3). At some stage he came to Australia, by means unknown, though presumably he didn't swim! His sister Avice also came to Australia, with her husband Robert Bindon.

The first we hear of William in Australia is when he married Mary Jane Bindon on 19 April 1860 at the Scots Church, Sydney(1). William was noted in the marriage notice as a goldminer from Peel River (near Tamworth). On July 22 1861 Mary Jane gave birth to a son, William H Rich, at their residence at Dernon Point, Peel River diggings(4). William jnr died in Sydney the following year(5). It would appear that the marriage produced no more children. Mary Jane died, aged 34, in 1872 in Victoria(6). Why was Mary Jane in Victoria? Was William with her? When did they leave Peel River? I have not been able to find Mary Jane's death record in the Victorian BDM index (which I find quite irritating to use at the best of times), otherwise I might have more information on this. Perhaps there were more children born to Mary Jane and William in Victoria, but I can't find any records regarding that either, possibly because there may not be any!

William Rich next appears in the public record in 1875 in Sydney, when he married widow Lavinia Bennett (neé Huxley, grand daughter of Thomas Huxley)(7). Lavinia seemed quite flexible with her name and she was also known as Laurina, Lawina, Laura, and possibly other names as well. William and Lavinia had eight children: Lily (1877-1912(8)), Avice (1879-1973(9)), William Milton (1881-1950(10)), Laurine (1883-1952(11)), Emma (1885-1958(12)), Florence (1887-1977(13)), Christina (1889-1971(14)) and Ethel Louisa (1891-1971(15)).

In 1908 when William's sister Avice Bindon (neé Rich) died, they were living at "Mount View", 82 Gordon St, Paddington(16). They were still there when their daughter Lily died in 1912(17).For some reason in 1915 William and Lavinia seemed to be living in separate locations, as shown by their son William Milton Rich's military service records - William snr was listed as living at La Perouse, whilst Lavinia's address is 7 Jackaman St, Bondi. The Sands Directory for 1916 gives William's address as 9 Jackaman St, Bondi - is this next door to his wife, or is she with him?(18). By 1922 William was listed as living at "Milton", O'Sullivan Rd, Rose Bay, where he appeared to live until soon before his death(18). He died on April 25 1927 at his daughter Avice's house in Willoughby, but the death notice states he was late of Milton, O'Sullivan Rd, Rose Bay(19) - perhaps Avice nursed him in his ill-health until his death. Lavinia died two years after William in 1929 in Katoomba(20).

William Rich's death notice also says that he was a Crimean veteran(19). Unfortunately I am unable to access British Crimean war records without either visiting the British National Archives in England or paying someone to research it for me. I guess that he must have come out to Australia soon after the war was over.

The most mysterious thing about William is what he did for a crust. The only occupation I have for him was as a goldminer in Peel River. I have not found any directory listings (or anything else) which list any occupation for him. Did he find a fortune in gold and live off that for the rest of his life?

I think I probably need to order a transcript of William's marriage record to Lavinia, and also his death record. That might shed a bit more light on him.

  1. Marriage notice in Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 21 Apr 1860.
  2. NSW BDM death record 6651/1927.
  3. Funeral notice for Avice Rich Bindon, SMH, 18 Nov 1908.
  4. Birth notice, SMH, 3 Aug 1861.
  5. NSW BDM death record 307/1862.
  6. Australia Death Index (Ancestry.com.au).
  7. NSW BDM marriage record 344/1875, Lavinia listed as "Lawina".
  8. NSW BDM birth record 3508/1877, listed as "Lilly". Interestingly there is no father recorded.
  9. NSW BDM birth record 779/1879, listed as "Avis".
  10. NSW BDM birth record 3953/1881.
  11. NSW BDM birth record 8741/1883.
  12. NSW BDM birth record 10431/1885.
  13. NSW BDM birth record 9422/1887.
  14. NSW BDM birth record 5147/1889.
  15. NSW BDM birth record 38803/1891.
  16. Funeral notice for Avice Bindon, SMH, 18 Nov 1908.
  17. Funeral notice for Lily Rich, SMH, 17 Apr 1912.
  18. Sands Directory (Ancestry.com.au).
  19. Death notice for William Rich, SMH, 27 Apr 1927.
  20. Death notice for Lavinia Rich, SMH, 21 Jan 1929, Lavinia is listed as "Laurina".

29 November 2011

The graves of Matthias and Catherine Von Holst

"April 11, in London, aged 86, Matthias Von Holst, the celebrated composer of music." Liverpool Mercury, 25 April 1845.

A while back I found that Matthias and Catherine/Catharina/Katherina/Katharina Von Holst were both buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London. Thinking particularly of Matthias, I wondered if there was an inscription on the grave so I decided to send an email and ask. I have found in my family history research that there are people who ignore email requests for information or assistance (I probably get answers to 1 in 5 of my emails) and people who go out of their way to help you.

On this occasion I got a reply from a wonderfully helpful lady who told me the grave number (4671, square 118, in the Church of England section) and said she would have to go out and find the grave to see if the memorial still existed. She sent a photo the next day, which showed a very old grave, with the stone grave covering on an angle and no obvious headstone or inscription.

I also enquired of her whether Matthias' wife was buried in either of the graves beside him. No, in fact Catherine Von Holst was buried in a public vault, Catacomb A, vault 50 (ref 1092). She advised that for various reasons the catacombs cannot be visited.

I am so grateful to this lady for her assistance. That she even went out of her office and took a photo for me amazes me. It just goes to show, you should always ask - you never know how helpful the person is willing to be!

28 November 2011

Useful family history sites - A vision of Britain through time

Never having been to the UK, I don't have a brilliant understanding of where everything is in Britain, though it grows as I do more and more research into my British ancestors. Plus, sometimes locations given in censuses and the like don't appear on Google Maps, which can be very frustrating.

One website which I have found incredibly useful is A Vision of Britain Through Time. Covering 1801-2011, it has maps, historical descriptions, census reports, etc for lots of little places across Britain. Although the website can be quite general in the information given, I've found it terribly helpful to get an idea of where places are/were and what they might have been like.

23 November 2011

An epidemic in Mulhouse?

My very astute mother pointed something out to me, from my recent post on the children of Gaspard Weiss.

Looking at the last five children in the family:

  • Paul, born 1791, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was seven years old i.e. 1798.
  • Fréderic, born 1792, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was six years old i.e. 1798.
  • Jean Antoine, born 1794 in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was four years old i.e. 1798.
  • Guillaume, born 1797, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was only one year old i.e. 1798.
  • Rosine Angélique (she appears to have been known as Angélique), born 13 April 1798 in Mulhouse. Her mother [Marie] died four days after the birth of Angélique, presumably from complications from the birth - in 1798.

All apparently in 1798. This suggests that perhaps they all succumbed to an illness, and that possibly Marie did not die as a result of childbirth itself, but perhaps weakened after childbirth, succumbing to an illness... I've looked and haven't found any references to any epidemics in Mulhouse in 1798 but we live in an age of antibiotics and so it is possible that they might all have succumbed to an illness which would be considered relatively minor these days. We'll never know, but it's something to ponder.

I wonder whether it is possible to get something like a death certificate for Marie? It would be just my luck that it wouldn't specify a cause of death!

21 November 2011

Useful family history sites - historical directories #2

Last time I wrote about historical directories it was about English and Welsh directories. I have just, in the course of my research, found a great website for Scotland historical directories, offered by the National Library of Scotland. A great website, seemingly very easy to use, however it does not cover the whole of Scotland.

Now if I could actually find any of my relatives in them that would be brilliant!

17 November 2011

(Jean) Gaspard Weiss

Ages ago I wrote about an article that I had found which showed that at least one other person in the world was interested in Jean Gaspard Weiss. Tobias Bonz is a German cellist who has rediscovered the music of Jean Gaspard Weiss, through works held in the British Library. He has also found an autobiography of Weiss, held in the archives of Mulhouse.

One of the things I have learnt from Tobias is that Jean Gaspard Weiss called himself Gaspard Weiss, dropping the "Jean". This has been hard for me to get used to, because my research first found him as Jean Gaspard Weiss, but from now on I shall try to refer to him as Gaspard Weiss.

Tobias leads a baroque ensemble called Antichi Strumenti, which has been playing some of Gaspard Weiss' music. They have recently made a recording of some of his works, which I hope to get a copy of, as I have not yet heard any of his music!

Tobias has given me the names of all fifteen of Gaspard and Marie Weiss' children which is fantastic new information - previously I only had names of eight of them. Tobias believes that the information I have found on the son Gaspar Weiss actually refers to Willoughby Gaspard Weiss. I'm not yet convinced, but he's read the autobiography and I haven't, so I guess that trumps me!

The children of Gaspard and Marie Weiss were:

Charlotte Mary, born 30 June 1776 in London. It is believed Charlotte died young, probably while the family was still in England. Charlotte is portrayed in a painting of the family.

Gaspar, born 12 September 1777 in London. Tobias believes Gaspar also died young.

Mary Ann (Marie Anne), born 6 September 1778 in London. Mary Ann married Godefroi Hofer in Mulhouse, and died in 1839.

Sarah Elizabeth (Elisabeth), born 19 May 1780 in London. Details and the date of her death are unknown.

Willoughby Gaspard, born 12 May 1782 in London. Although it is extremely likely that Willoughby Gaspard travelled with the rest of the family to Mulhouse when they returned there in 1783, at some stage he did return to England and worked as a music dealer, and in 1814 he married Ann Hunter at St Oswald, Chester, in Cheshire, England. Willoughby and Ann had six or seven children, including the famous opera singer Willoughby Hunter Weiss. Willoughby Gaspard died in Nantwich, Cheshire on 25 March 1853.

Jacques, possibly born 1784 in Mulhouse.

Jean Georges, born 12 June 1785 in Mulhouse. He married Barbara Blech in 1809, was briefly mayor of Mulhouse in 1843, and died 26 February 1874 in Mulhouse.

Martha, possibly born 1786 in Mulhouse.

Samuel, born 1788, presumably in Mulhouse.

Charles Nicholas, born 20 June 1789 in Mulhouse. My great great great grandfather. Moved to England, and married Benigna von Holst in London on 9 September 1828. He was a flautist, worked as a Professor of Music, and joined the British Army to serve as a bandmaster. He died in Bombay India, whilst stationed there, on 14 June 1845. Charles and Benigna had six children, the youngest of whom I am descended from.

Paul, born 1791, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was seven years old.

Fréderic, born 1792, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was six years old.

Jean Antoine, born 1794 in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was four years old.

Guillaume, born 1797, presumably in Mulhouse. Possibly died when he was only one year old.

Rosine Angélique (she appears to have been known as Angélique), born 13 April 1798 in Mulhouse. Her mother died four days after the birth of Angélique, presumably from complications from the birth. Angélique married Jean George Schmaltzer in Mulhouse on 21 April 1826. They had at least one child, a daughter, who married into the Desaulles family. The autobiography of Gaspard Weiss appears to have been handed down through the Desaulles family until it ended up in the Mulhouse archives. The date of Angélique's death is unknown. The name "Angélique" was passed on down through many generations of her brother Willoughby's family - perhaps Angélique was Willoughby's favourite sister.

16 November 2011

The Macindoe family

The photo above was taken of the Macindoe family before they left Glasgow for Sydney. By my reckoning, which could be wrong, the people are as follows:

back row: Walter Walker (1866-1955), Andrew Paterson (1868-1956)

middle row: Stewart (1872-1944), Ellen (seated, 1845-1922), Ellen Paterson ("Nellie", 1876-1967), Thomas (seated, 1841-1901), Norman (1874-1956), Thomas (1870-1947)

front row: Margaret Kirkwood ("Maggie", seated on her mother's lap, 1883-1929), John (1879-1953)

10 November 2011

One mystery solved

... but plenty more unsolved!

When my parents visited Uralla earlier this year they were confounded by some flowers which had been very recently left on the Beringer graves at the Uralla cemetery. Happily, I have been contacted by a relative of John Valentine Beringer who was visiting Uralla at the time and left the flowers. I'm so pleased to know who it was, and to connect with another member of the extended family. To be able to share information is great!

If you are a relative and want to get in contact, leave a comment, including an email address if you like, and even if you delete the comment immediately I will still get the information and the rest of the world should only be privy to your email address if they happen to be looking right at that moment. : )

I've actually been contacted by three new distant family members this week, so it's all quite exciting. I've just got to make sure I remember which of them is linked to which part of the family and not get them mixed up!

08 November 2011

Allan Wickham's war

Allan Wickham was originally in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve before he enlisted, and upon enlistment was placed into the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train unit. The RANBT built piers and wharves etc to enable the landing of troops and supplies. Allan was well suited to this as he was a carpenter. The unit sailed from Port Melbourne on the Port Macquarie on 3 June 1915. On the voyage Allan noted that they lost 80 horses and they stopped off at Bombay on 29 June to unload the rest. He spent much of his time suffering from sea sickness until he noted on 11 July "First day I have been really free from sea sickness." They sailed on to Port Said in Egypt, where they took on coal and water and 3 British and 3 French seamen, and then sailed to Lemnos on July 18 with mounting war tension - "Everybody bitterly disappointed not going to England. Official. Armed guards put on. Sleep abreast our boats with arms and life belts. In the submarine area. All lights out, even steaming lights."

July 20 [1915]: Entered Lemnos Harbour pioloted (sic) by torpedo boat, the first I have seen. As we entered three destroyers were appearing on the horizon. Evidently our escort although we never saw them. Fine harbour. About 30 men of war, British and French, as well as torpedo boats and destroyers and twice as many transports. No town, small villiages (sic) scattered about. 120 000 troops camped around the shores. 4 large transports besides outselves arrived crowded with troops and 3 left. Do not know whether we land or not. A good object lesson to those who are crying out what is the British Navy doing. Only 30 mls from the Dardenells (sic).

July 23: Troops embarking and disembarking all day. Something definite at last. Orders to be prepared to land at a moments notice tonight or tomorrow morning. We are to do a fortnight's training and then to leave to build piers and suchlike for disembarking troops and guns. Where we are not told but surmise Dardenells (sic). Two monitors arrived from Dardenells (sic). Have been in action for 3 days. Marvellous how news travels around fleet. Fifty days out from Melbourne and only had 3 hours ashore. What with the uncertainty as to our destination are glad of the move, though all are disappointed at not going to England. But I'm confident we'll get there before it's all over. No mail from home yet.

They sailed on to Imbros to do their training there, and then on to Suvla Bay, where they landed under fire and got straight to work. He soon saw the awful reality of war: "Went for a walk over ground taken. Saw some of the Turk trenches and entanglements. Came across some of the Manchesters killed by shell fire. Awful sight. Ground very broken. Wounded arriving on beach all day. Terrible suffering among wounded for want of water. Turks reinforced and we are driven in. The Munsters and Royal Irish suffer heavily. Built two piers. Snipers busy round the camp. Very daring."

The camp was frequently shelled by enemy fire and killed a number of people, including Chief Petty Officer Edward Charles Perkins: "Shell fell in Perkin's dugout, struck him and wounded his mate. Buried him at 8 o'clock at night." Further details about CPO Perkins can be seen here. Allan himself was (on this occasion) luckier, on August 20: "Ships cannot find battery that is annoying us. Had a narrow escape this morning. Shell burst within 10ft of me, covered me with sand. Killed one and wounded two. Several others injured throughout the day", and again on December 1: "Hit in head with shell splinter. Lucky." I can imagine his mother weeping, reading those entries.

By December of 1915 the decision had been made to evacuate the area. On December 15 Allan was told that he was in a party which was to remain behind and destroy the stores. He was disappointed to find out two days later that others would be staying behind and he was to leave that day. They were on Lemnos for Christmas, and then from January 13 to February 4th the RANBT mutinied over (a lack of) pay, and they were placed under armed guard, under arrest. Allan was appointed as a representative to state their case to the commander who had just returned from a stay in hospital for malaria. Once the situation was resolved they carried on as normal.

In February they returned to the Suez Canal to work there. Allan applied to transfer to the 5th Engineers in March but his request was turned down, then on April 1 his request to transfer to the artillery was affected to the 12th Field Artillery Brigade, and he was posted to the 48th Battalion as a gunner. He was made an acting Bombardier on May 19.

On June 3, on the anniversary of his sailing from Melbourne, Allan sailed from Alexandria for France. "Ship pretty rotten, tucker worse." They arrived in Marseille on June 9/10 and left for Le Havre aboard a train on June 11. Arriving in Le Havre on June 13, they stayed a few days and then moved to a camp closer to the firing line, somewhere in the north of France (he didn't really give precise details). He transferred to the 24th Field Artillery Brigade on June 15, though this is not noted in his diary. The diary details the fighting in his area and he certainly seemed much busier there than he was in Suvla Bay, and the fighting much more frenetic. His diary ended on September 17 with "Came back to the guns last night."

Allan's service record then shows that he transferred, still in France, to the 11th Field Artillery Brigade on January 25, 1917, and was posted to the 42nd Battalion. He was killed in action on May 3, 1917, at the second battle of Bullecourt, France.

I don't know if his diary made it home before the news of his death - I have no knowledge of when he posted it home from London as his service record does not show any visit to London. That his diary made it home and he didn't must have been small comfort for his mother.

Further information on the RANBT can be found here, and the second battle of Bullecourt here.

Allan Wickham's war diary

Allan Wickham (born 1893, died 3 May 1917) was my great great uncle, and my grandfather was named after him. Allan Wickham enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces on 11 March 1915, service number 94. He was killed in action in the second battle of Bullecourt, France, on 3 May 1917.

I've just finished reading through his war diary. He was a very to-the-point sort of writer, and generally just wrote one or two sentences for each day's entry. Still, you get an impression, albeit quite objective, of the war he experienced. I shall give details of his war in another post. He wrote regularly in the diary from when he left Australia on June 3, 1915, until September 17, 1916. He then abruptly stopped writing, and a few pages further on he pinned this undated note:

According to his service records he never went to London, at least officially anyway. A mystery for another time perhaps.

Allan mentioned a number of his mates in his diary and there was one in particular I wanted to track down, because he died and I wondered if the exact nature of his death was ever made known to his family. I searched through many many service records yesterday, and eventually found the correct one. Allan's diary entry was:

June 18 [1916]: Left Harve (sic) at 12 noon for camp nearer firing line. Storey is knocked out of train by a horse in tunnel. Train stopped and six of us went back to pick him up. Terribly mangled, stopped another train and took the body back to Rouen.

June 19: Arrived Rouen at 2am. Handed body over to A.M.C. Our first casualty. Left Rouen to rejoin battery at 2:30pm.

The soldier he mentions was Bertie Storey, service number 2043. Bertie was a 21 year old unmarried dairy farmer from Victoria. According to Bertie's service records he was killed in an accident on a train, but doesn't mention how. It also details his injuries, which must have seemed strange for an accident on a train - fractured skull comminuted, fractured femurs, tibia, both legs and left foot. It makes much more sense when you understand he was knocked from the train. He was buried in Boisguillaume Cemetery in Rouen, France. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention this, just in case any of Bertie's relatives are ever searching for information on him and happen to come across this.

02 November 2011

A school workbook

My aunt has a few family treasures and Mum borrowed them from her recently - the war diary of Allan Wickham, my great great uncle, and a school workbook of Adolf Beringer's (below). I haven't finished reading the war diary yet, so I'll write about that soon.

Mum and I had no idea of the existence of the school workbook because my aunt had never mentioned it before. Adolf George Beringer, known as Jim, was my great grandfather. The workbook was from 1894 and 1895, when Jim was 11 and 12 years old, about a year before his mother Caroline committed suicide. Jim was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1883 and travelled here with his parents and older sister Matilda, when he was 1 year old. As Matilda died soon after they arrived in Australia, Jim was the eldest living child in the family. His youngest sister, Mary, was born in 1894. The family moved to a new subdivision of the Mildura Estate in Canterbury/Campsie probably sometime in 1895. Their new house in 18 Clissold Parade, Canterbury (now Campsie) was where Caroline died in May 1896. It is possible that once the family moved to Canterbury Jim no longer attended school, as most children attended school until they were 12 or 13. At the time the closest school to the Mildura Estate was at Croydon Park, about 4kms away.

In the workbook we see some of the work Jim was doing in class and for homework, aged 11 and 12. There are pages of poems, on history, geography, parsing, anatomy, arithmetic etc. They learnt about King Henry VIII and all his wives and some of his children, about the rivers of NSW, different classes of birds, etc.

It is interesting to note that the workbook starts in 1894 and carries on into 1895. Clearly the preciousness of paper and books meant that they didn't have today's comparatively frivolous practice of starting new books at the beginning of each school year. I expect that Jim would have practiced all his work on a slate first and then carefully copied it into his workbook. There are headings at the top of each page, in fancy gothic-style text. My assumption that all work was done in black ink was wrong - he also used red and blue ink as well. You can read a little more about school days in the time of Jim's workbook here.

I don't know which school Jim was attending when he worked on this workbook. I assume it was Newtown Superior Public School, for there is a page in the workbook where he has carefully written out his address: 7 Nottingham Terrace, Simmons St, Newtown. At the time Newtown Superior Public School was a very large local school - with over a thousand students enrolled - so it seems safe to assume Jim attended there.

The cover had come away from the pages of the workbook and I decided to carefully take the brown paper wrap-around cover off the book to see what was underneath. It was an exercise book called The Austral Exercise Book, with the same sort of arithmetic tables that you still find on the back of exercise books today. However, the surprise was that in the spaces on the front cover for Name, Address and School Adolf's details were not there, but instead his son Reg's. The name was Reg Beringer, Address: Balmoral, Liberty St, and School: Belmore South. So I doubt that this was the original cover, and also because, looking at it more closely, the staples of the book don't quite line up with the staple holes of the cover. It is curious that the younger book cover of Reg's has his father's brown paper wrapper on it.

Incidentally, I had always assumed that Jim was known as "Jim" because the name "Adolf" had negative connotations from World War 2. However, considering he was known as Jim at least from young adulthood (his school workbook gives his name as Adolf, but perhaps this was just because it was an official school workbook), and he died, aged 57, in 1940, this is highly unlikely, and it is more likely that he/his parents just chose an anglicised name for him to be known as in Australia.

01 November 2011

Thomas Macindoe, estate agent

Knowing that Thomas Macindoe placed a number of advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald in the year after they arrived in Australia, for the real estate business that he started up in Petersham, I decided to check whether he used to advertise in Glasgow as well.

It turns out that he advertised his real estate business in the Glasgow Herald very regularly from around the time of his marriage (1866) until just before he left for Australia in 1884. It would seem that he sold the business a few months before he emigrated (to a Mr Lauder?) because the name of the firm suddenly changed to "Thomas Macindoe and Lauder". But considering he advertised so solidly for many years in Glasgow, it makes me wonder if he stopped working after only about a year working here in Sydney - certainly he stopped advertising after 1885.

Interestingly, on a number of his children's birth records as well as his own marriage record he is noted as an accountant (and increasingly as a "house factor" i.e. estate agent as well). He seems to have slowly given up the accountancy and focused on the estate agency as time went on.

I also found a short article about Thomas Macindoe moving to Sydney:

PRESENTATION TO MR THOMAS MACINDOE - Yesterday afternoon Mr Thomas Macindoe, house and property agent, was presented with an illuminated address by a number of his friends on the occasion of his leaving Glasgow for Sydney, New South Wales. The presentation was made in the drawing room of the George Hotel, where cake and wine were served. Mr David Bannerman presided. In the address, which was beautifully illuminated, the subscribers recorded their high sense of Mr Macindoe's worth, and expressed their conviction that if he was spared, those qualities of perseverance and constant attention to business and to the interests of his clients, combined with integrity and promptitude in all his dealings, which had brought him success in Glasgow, would soon yield a similar result in his new sphere of work. They sincerely hoped that the main object which he had in view, viz., the benefit of his family's health, would be attained, and that there were in store for him many years of comfort and happiness. Glasgow Herald, 18 July 1884.

So they moved for the health benefits of living in Sydney. Was someone particularly unwell, or was it just that they wanted fresh air, wide open spaces and a new outlook on life? I do know that Thomas' wife, Ellen Paterson Macindoe became an alcoholic, but I'm not sure exactly when this became a problem. Perhaps it was for her benefit that they emigrated to Australia?

28 October 2011

The litigious branch of the family

My great great grandfather Thomas Macindoe (born 15 Oct 1841, Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland, died 8 May 1901, Ashfield, NSW, Australia) died a very wealthy man. His deceased estate papers state that he was a "Gentleman", and he owned 12 properties with the value of his estate amounting to £4746.

As far as I know, my living family did not really know how he came by such a fortune, and probably we all assumed that he was a just Scot who was very canny with his money. Certainly the Macindoe family had enough money to pay their way out to Australia, arriving as Unassisted Immigrants on the Liguria in 1884 - which wouldn't have been a tiny expense, considering the family consisted of Thomas, his wife Ellen, and their eight children. Yesterday I discovered, looking through historical newspapers, that within months of arriving in Australia he had set himself up as a house and land agent based in Petersham, and so a job like that certainly would have helped him come by quite so many properties. According to one advertisement he placed he was quite experienced in this profession:

"PETERSHAM - THOMAS MACINDOE (late of Glasgow, 19 years an extensive House and Property Agent), opposite Railway Station, Petersham, has every facility for selling of Houses and Land, and Letting of Houses. Instructions to dispose of Property will receive prompt and personal attention." Sydney Morning Herald, 14 March 1885.

After he died Thomas Macindoe's will and two codicils caused a lot of problems amongst his family. He had originally chosen his wife Ellen and four of his sons (W. W. Macindoe, Thomas Macindoe jnr, Stewart Macindoe and Norman Macindoe) as executors, but in a second codicil dated 2 Apr 1901 he revoked the appointment of W. W. and Thomas jnr. It probably didn't help the situation that he lent Stewart £250 (of which he paid back £95) and Norman £110 and then, according to them, released them from the remainder of their debts, due to "the natural love and affection" of their father. In the end the family took sides and everyone, apart from the two daughters, went to court - not to contest the will, mind you, just the appointment of the executors. In the end a settlement was reached, for the plaintiffs (Ellen, Stewart and Norman), and the court costs were to be paid out of the estate. The judge for the matter then noted that "he hoped this would be the commencement of more cordial relations between the members of the family". The most ridiculous thing about the court case was that the court costs sucked most of the money out of the estate, leaving not much left over.

Thomas Macindoe's will gave provisions for up to £100 to be spent on the publishing of a "death bed message". No evidence has ever been found that the message was published, so one must assume that the court case frittered away the money so that there was not enough left to publish it. Which is incredibly annoying because I'd love to know what that mysterious death bed message was!

The court case was all written up in the papers, and apparently later at least some of the family expressed regret that they had dragged the family name through the mud. However, some of them didn't learn, particularly Thomas Macindoe jnr, who went to court with his estranged wife over the amount of maintenance he was paying her, and then his sons went to court over a punch up and slander - one complained the other slandered him when he told a doctor that he was subnormal and should have mental treatment. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

20 October 2011

A letter from the Queen

Well, not quite.

Back in August I decided to send a letter to the Royal Archives to see if they could confirm for me that Jean Gaspard Weiss was Principal Flautist for King George III. I wasn't sure if they would be able to say yes as it depended on whether he was employed by the King or by the Court. But even if they couldn't confirm it I would still get a letter from the Royal Archives!

Here is the reply, received today. I've put a photo of the envelope as well, mainly because it has the Queen's stamp on it!

And the letter itself in detail:

The diary extract the letter refers to from my original letter is this:

The Diary of James Harris (1709-80) as Secretary to Queen Charlotte, 3 May 1774, notes: "When I came into the Japan-wainscot room, I found it to my surprise filled with all the capital musicians - Bach & Abel, Cramer the celebrated violin, five or six violins, Gordon, and another violoncello, 2 opera double basses, hautboys, horns, tenors, Beir the clarionet, Richter the bassoon, Weiss the German flute, Fisher the houtboy, Millico & Grassi, & the chorus singers. When the concert began, the royal children (the younger part) stood arranged in the same room with the music - the King sometimes came out, & the Queen also..."

16 October 2011

Thomas Wickham

Thomas Wickham (born 23 August 1888, Newtown, NSW, died 22 Feb 1973, Waverley, NSW) was my great great uncle. He was the brother of my Great Nanna.

Thomas was an officer in the NSW Police. I looked up the Registers of Police while I was at State Records the other week. Thomas' service number was 9094. He was accepted into the foot police i.e. not mounted, he was 5'11", 12st 2lbs, blue eyes, fair hair, fair complexion. It was originally noted that he was single, later this was crossed out and "Married" entered instead. His previous calling was wool packer, 6yrs. Religion: Church of England. District: North Eastern. He was made a probationary constable on 26 Apr 1910, an ordinary constable on 28 Apr 1911. He was moved to the Metropolitan District on 6 Jan 1911.

And that was all it had. I assumed that he'd stayed an ordinary constable for the rest of his police career. I was wrong.

Yesterday I decided to delve a little further into his police career because I have a family anecdote about him that I wanted to post. I thought I'd just see if he came up in the historical newspapers on Trove. Yes he does. A lot. It turns out that Thomas ended his police career in 1947, after rising to the rank of Chief Superintendent, and retiring from the position of Chief Superintendent of Crime, Vice and Court Staffs. So he wasn't quite just an ordinary constable for the rest of his police career!

It wasn't until 1921 that Thomas Wickham turned up in the newspapers in relation to his job as a police officer. I'm not sure exactly what path his career took until this time, but by this stage he was already a detective. In 1926 he was one of two detectives appointed to the newly formed Drugs Bureau. He appears to have been promoted to Detective Sergeant later that year. He worked for a good number of years in the Drugs Bureau, and made many many arrests, including Kate Leigh, known as Sydney's "Queen of the Underworld". By 1934 he was in CIB teaching police recruits about court procedures. 1938 saw him promoted to assistant to the chief of CIB, as an Inspector. He was made Chief Metropolitan Licensing Inspector in 1939, and then took charge of the Morality Squad in 1940. He was promoted to Superintendent and became the Chief of the Western Police District, based in Parkes, in 1942. He returned to Sydney in 1942 as Chief of CIB. In 1945 he became Chief Superintendent of Crime, Vice and Court Staffs and was awarded the King's Police Medal for distinguished service in 1946. He retired in November 1947.

After finding all this information on Thomas Wickham in the historical newspapers I decided to Google his name with "police". One of the results that came up was for Underbelly: Razor - my response: "You've got to be joking..." Yes, my great great uncle is being portrayed in the latest series of Underbelly! I haven't watched any of the Underbelly series, Razor being no exception. But apparently Sergeant Tom Wickham, as he is known in the series, is represented as an incorruptible police officer. Glad to hear it! The book from which the series was written, Razor by Larry Writer, gives him a pretty good wrap too. Incidentally, I am quite sure, from the description given in the Registers of Police and knowing the family facial features, that the actor they have playing him looks absolutely nothing like him!

So, finally to the anecdote that Mum told me which first got me looking into Thomas Wickham, NSW Police officer: he shot a hole through the ceiling of my Great Nanna's house at 2 St Clair St, Belmore, when his gun accidentally went off. I'll bet that's one story that wasn't told at his retirement!

14 October 2011

Josiah Horsey's will

As mentioned in a previous post I visited the State Records Centre at Kingswood the other day. My primary objective was to see original records from probate packets and deceased estates. I also looked up a few insolvency records and some correspondence to the Colonial Secretary.

One of the records I looked up was the probate packet for Josiah Horsey, and also his insolvency records (I have previously written about his insolvency here). Before I go into details on these, you need to know a little more about the family. Josiah married Sarah Irish in South Petherton, Somerset, England, and they had four children in South Petherton (Elizabeth Glyde, b 1840 d 1918, Rosetta b 1842 d 1927, Selina b 1844 d 1917, and Frederick b 1846 d 1925) before emigrating to Australia in 1849 on the Harbinger (which, incidentally, I think is a terrible name for a ship). After the Horsey family's arrival in Sydney, three more children were born: Sarah Ann (known as Annie) b 1849 d 1936, Samuel George b 1850 d 1906, and Josiah b 1856 d 1932. Neither Samuel nor Josiah's births appear to be recorded in the NSW BDM, however, we can guess their birth years from their mother's death certificate, which records their ages (and their existence).

So, back to the probate packet. It contained Josiah's will, and various other documents relating to the will, the witnesses, the executors, etc. Josiah's will is quite interesting.

The first thing I realised, reading through it, was that Josiah could clearly not read nor write, despite the fact that he is noted as being able to do both in the ships passenger list when he emigrated - there are spelling mistakes in his name throughout his will, and he signed it with his mark rather than a signature. Of course, it is possible that Josiah, making out his will on 28 November 1863 and dying the very next day, was too ill to read through the document, nor sign it with his signature. However, I'm not sure you would have a "mark" if you had a signature.

The next thing I discovered was that Josiah had a property down near the Cooks River, in the south of Sydney. It was still mortgaged (for £45) at the time of his death, and his instruction was that the money from it was to be drawn and expended on the education and apprenticeship of his son Josiah (jnr). I'm not sure that any of my living relatives were aware of this property - presumably because it was sold and not retained within the family. This is the only reference to this property that I am aware of. I have not been able to locate it on any parish maps, but as it was mortgaged it is likely that the parish map would have shown the name of the bank rather than Josiah's name anyway. I am also intrigued because this land was not noted in Josiah's insolvency papers - under "Particulars of Insolvent's Landed Properties" was written "I have none", and considering he was only given his certificate of conformity (i.e. meeting the conditions of the insolvency) on 10 November 1863 (19 days before he died) how could he afford to buy land whilst insolvent? Would a bank allow an insolvent to take out a mortgage? I have no answers to these questions as I do not know which bank the mortgage was with, only that the mortgage deeds were in the hands of a Mr Pennington - whoever he was - at the time of the writing of Josiah's will.

The other interesting thing about Josiah's will is the distribution of his assets. Josiah left everything to his wife - his estate was worth under £200 upon his death - apart from the £45 mortgage which was to be realised for his son Josiah's education and apprenticeship. To his other "beloved children I give my best blessings, requesting them to assist their afflicted mother in every way as it is the duty of good children." Did the other children feel ripped off?! So why did he single out Josiah? It is likely that the reason lies with the fact that Josiah was his youngest child, and was only seven years old at the time of his father's death. The next youngest, Samuel George, was 13 and would have been of an age to be working. Josiah (jnr) needed to be provided for so that he could continue his schooling and have a chance of getting a good job. So I don't think it was favouritism for his youngest son - his namesake - but instead a caring father looking after the interests of his young child, as he wouldn't be able to be present as he grew up. It seems to be a lovely picture of a father making sure everything was in order for his family before his imminent death.

10 October 2011

Parish maps and Thomas Huxley

In an attempt to try to solve the issue of Thomas Huxley and Tom Uglys Point/Bridge, I've been looking at old parish maps. I can easily find the land Thomas Huxley Snr (of purported Tom Uglys Point fame) and Thomas Huxley Jnr owned at Lower Portland Head. I helpfully had a description of the location of the land in letters to and from the Colonial Secretary which I read through the other day at the State Records Centre in Kingswood. The land was described as being right at the junction of the Colo and Hawkesbury Rivers, and this is exactly where I found it. Interestingly, right beside these two plots of land is a parcel of land of 70 acres which was owned by one Thomas Jones. "Thomas Jones" was one of Thomas Huxley's aliases... maybe it was also his, although it could have been a completely different person who just happened to be named Thomas Jones. Below is my hand drawn map based on the parish maps.

Over on the other side of Sydney there are no maps of Tom Uglys Point which show land owned by any of Thomas Huxley's aliases. The land the point is on was owned by a Robert Townson, so it doesn't sound like the point was named after him either. It is possible that the available maps do not cover times when Huxley owned land there, or it is possible the whole story is a furphy!

Incidentally, the way I found these maps was through the NSW Department of Lands. First I looked up the parish name using the name search on the Geographical Names Board website - in the case of Lower Portland Head it was "Hawkesbury". Then I looked at the Hawkesbury parish maps using the Parish Map Preservation Project webpage until I found one which had the junction of the Colo and Hawkesbury Rivers, and there was the name Huxley - Bingo!

09 October 2011

Tying up a loose end

Ages ago I was looking into Caroline Judith Hughes (nee Weiss) and was trying to track down her children. Caroline's husband was Henry Richard Hughes.

Mary Adelaide Hughes appears to have been their first child. She was born in Kurrachee (Karachi, then in India) on 22 Apr 1862. I had not been able to find any death record for her, but had assumed she died young because she was not listed with the family in the English 1871 Census. I tracked down her death record today: it turns out she died in Kurrachee, aged 3, on 17 Jul 1865.

I still haven't managed to locate a death record for Mary's brother Henry James Hughes. He was born in Kurrachee on 30 Mar 1865. He may have died in India or England - I don't know which - but he also was not listed in the 1871 English Census.

07 October 2011

Thomas Huxley and Tom Uglys Bridge

In the south of Sydney, on the Georges River, there is a bridge called Tom Uglys Bridge. It was named after Tom Uglys Point, which is found where the northern end of the bridge reaches land.

There is a theory that Thomas Huxley lived in the area and it was named after him, using the pronunciation of the local Aborigines - "Tom Ugly" instead of "Tom Huxley". Whilst this mispronunciation is possible, no records survive that show Thomas Huxley actually lived on the Georges River. All the surviving documentation shows that Thomas Huxley lived and owned land on the Hawkesbury River, which is to the north of Sydney, almost 100kms away.

I was at the NSW State Records Centre the other day and looked at some documentation regarding land that Thomas was requesting to acquire next to the 40 or 50 acres (it is unclear exactly which - the documents appear to contradict each other) that he already had at Lower Portland Head, on the Hawkesbury. He was granted the 40/50 acres by Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, and he wanted to purchase at least 40 more, next to it. This was granted by Sir Ralph Darling in 1831. There was nothing in the letters to the Colonial Secretary regarding land on the Georges River, only on the Hawkesbury River.

There is a possibility that land was purchased on the Georges River using one of Thomas Huxley's aliases - Jones, Huckles, Oxley, but I have not looked into those - I'll have to save that for another visit to the records centre. On the face of it though, my conclusion is that Tom Uglys Bridge is not named after Thomas Huxley.

30 September 2011

My family's shady past

So far, reading through this blog you could be forgiven for thinking that all of my ancestors were law-abiding citizens. However, in Australia, people of British heritage often have convicts lurking in their family trees. It used to be a shameful thing but these days it is seen to be quite a badge of honour. My family tree is no exception, I just haven't gotten around to mentioning them yet!

I can't think of any direct ancestors on my father's side who were convicts, but there are some on my mother's. My husband has way more convicts in his family tree, but this is about my ancestors, so I'm not going to tell you about them!

Mum and Dad were out and about the other day and did some grave hunting. They found the graves of two of Mum's convict ancestors: Thomas Huxley and Ann Forbes. I'm not going to give many details of Thomas and Ann here because many people before me have researched them and you only need to google their names with "convict" for pages and pages of information on them!

Thomas Huxley was born in 1768, in Middlesex England, died 4 Jul 1854, Richmond, NSW. Thomas was transported in the Third Fleet, for stealing a silk handkerchief, on the Salamander. He was buried in the cemetery at St Peter's Anglican Church, Richmond.

Ann Forbes was born in 1768, in England, died 29 Dec 1851, Sackville, NSW. She was transported in the First Fleet, for stealing some cotton fabric, on the Prince of Wales. She was buried in the cemetery of St Thomas' Anglican Church, Sackville.

26 September 2011

Auntie Alice

My great great aunt, Alice Mary Allen nee Merrick (born 1883, Redfern NSW, died 11 Dec 1967, Strathfield NSW), was quite superstitious. Being brought up in a Christian family didn't seem to have had any impact on this and there were a number of rituals that she would perform at times.

The one that has been passed down through family lore is about the new moon. At the time of a new moon she would go out into the backyard and say "Welcome New Moon, welcome New Moon, welcome New Moon" - I'm not sure of the reason why, presumably it ensured good luck. She also believed it was unlucky to look at the new moon through a window - I guess you'd need to keep the curtains tightly drawn! I think my grandmother and her siblings (Alice was their aunt) thought she was rather eccentric. Searching on the internet I found reference to both of these practises in "The peasant speech of Devon, and other matters connected there with" written by Sarah Hewitt, published 1892. Goodness knows how Auntie Alice came to hear about them!

Auntie Alice was a milliner who employed a number of people at her factory in Lakemba. I have tried to find advertisements in historical newspapers for the millinery business but without success. However for her to have employees it must have been reasonably successful. One advantage of having a milliner in the family was that my great aunt, Auntie Alice's niece, had a penchant for hats, and so upon her death there were a large number of once terribly stylish hats passed down for my children and their cousins to use for dress-ups!

Updated to add: I mentioned this to Dad the other day and he commented that the other strange thing Auntie Alice did was to put all the cutlery away in a thunderstorm. Mum said that had been done in her family too!

12 September 2011

Samuel Baumgarten, bassoonist

I have discovered that my musical pedigree goes back even further than I thought. And it makes me marvel at how the musical gene completely passed me by!

Samuel Christian Frederic (occasionally known as Christopher Frederick) Baumgarten (born c1729, location unknown, possibly Germany, died Jul 1798, London, England) was the father-in-law of Jean Gaspard Weiss, which makes him my great great great great great grandfather. He was a bassoonist and played in many professional concerts in London, was elected a member of the Royal Society of Musicians in 1750, and made a member of the Court of Assistants for the Royal Society of Musicians in 1790. Samuel Baumgarten should not be confused with another musician with the same surname who was working in London at the same time - Karl Friedrich (Charles Frederick) Baumgarten, who was a violinist, organist and composer, and was the leader at the Covent Garden Theatre. There is no evidence that they were related. I searched through over 600 historical newspaper articles with references to "Baumgarten". Many of the concerts listed only "Baumgarten" or "Mr. Baumgarten" so there are many that I am uncertain as to who it was, Samuel or Karl. Unhelpfully, some references actually mix the two of them together to create a conglomerate of a person who never existed as one individual!

Samuel Baumgarten married Mary Joynes on June 6, 1751 at St George's Chapel, Mayfair in London, and the marriage register notes they were from St James Westminster. St George's Chapel, Mayfair, was a chapel where clandestine marriages took place, without licence, banns or parental consent. The marriages were valid and binding, but were frowned upon. Goodness knows why Samuel and Mary were married there rather than at St James Westminster... Assuming that Elizabeth Mary was their first child, born in 1753, I shall infer that it wasn't a shotgun wedding! They had 11 children in total, including Charlotte (c1758 - 21 Feb 1837) who married Richard Huddleston Potter (10 Dec 1755 - Jun 1821), parents of Cipriani Potter, a composer, pianist and educator. Cipriani Potter tutored Matthias von Holst who was the nephew of the wife (Benigna von Holst Weiss) of his maternal first cousin (Charles Nicholas Weiss).

Samuel and Mary's daughter Marie, my great great great great grandmother, is one of their children for whom I cannot find a birth record. I have found information that suggests she was born in Nassau-Usingen, but I don't know what evidence that is based on. Certainly if that were the case she is likely to be the only one of the Baumgartens' children who was not born in London.

Samuel and his future son-in-law Jean Gaspard Weiss played in a number of concerts together in the years preceding the marriage of Marie and Jean Gaspard and it is reasonable to assume that they met through these music circles.

I have only been able to locate vital records (other than baptism records) for three of Samuel and Mary's children, all girls - Marie, Charlotte, and their sister Lucinda Worrall Baumgarten. All the other children seem to have disappeared without trace. There were many boys amongst the eleven children, but either they all died young, or didn't have jobs which caused them to advertise in the newspapers by name - of the historical newspapers I searched there were no notices that related to any children of Samuel and Mary's, apart from Marie's marriage notice.

02 September 2011

Mostly irrelevant, but funny

I found this in an article entitled Musical Intelligence in the Whitehall Evening Post, 17 July 1783:

Hayden [sic], next autumn, comes to London. Phlegm, and, in all pecuniary concerns, extreme caution, are among the leading characteristics of this great composer; insomuch so, that last winter he could not, without uncommon assurances, be prevailed on to send his new music over to Lord Abingdon's Grand Concert. Graaf, with Weiss and others, are gone to Germany and Switzerland for the summer; to return, however, to the Subscription Concert in Hanover-Square.

The "Weiss" it mentions is Jean Gaspard Weiss. Weiss returned permanently to Mulhouse in 1783, and considering the final subscription concert that I can find in 1783 was actually on May 21 (which, by my reckoning could be considered around the start of summer) I'm not sure that he actually did ever return to London for any more concerts that year. He certainly did not perform in any subscription concerts in London after 1783.

And I still have no idea why they were talking about Haydn's phlegm.

Update: Apparently "phlegm" can mean "calmness of temperament" as well as the mucus that comes out of the back of your throat. Who knew?!

01 September 2011

Jean Gaspard Weiss' marriage notice

I came across this today:

"Married:..... Yesterday Mr. Gaspar Weiss, of Greek Street, Soho, to Miss Baumgarten, of Craven Street, in the Strand." London Evening Post, August 24, 1775.

This is Jean Gaspard Weiss, marrying Marie Baumgarten. Before this I had found information that suggested they were married in Mulhouse, on September 20, 1775. The marriage notice above implies that the wedding took place in London, and was apparently actually on August 23, 1775.

30 August 2011

How the Merricks got to Australia

I logged on to Ancestry.com last night for the first time in a little while - I've been working on the Weiss' and there's not much information on Europeans there (well, not that I've found useful), and so I've been using other sources to track down information on them - it's helpful that they had a degree of fame!

Anyway, I noticed that Ancestry has a new source of information, one which I had previously only accessed from a CDRom at the State Library: NSW Immigration Deposit Journals, 1853-1900. I had a few family members who I'd been putting aside to look up the next time I went in to the State Library. So I checked them. And though many of them didn't come up in the journals (e.g. James Ball wasn't sponsored to come out, neither was Josiah Horsey) I looked up the Merricks. Though there was an entry for James and Samuel Merrick coming out on the Hotspur from Sligo, Ireland, I was finally able to confirm that they were not my relatives - they were sponsored by David Merrick, so I now know they were the other Merricks from Sligo - David was not one of my Merricks - I confirmed that a while ago.

So I looked at the other Merricks. And there was an entry for a deposit made by James Merrick on 16 November 1864 for Samuel Merrick, aged 15, to come out to Australia, with a note in the final column stating that he was a passenger on the Trebolgan. Looking up the ship's passenger list for the Trebolgan, which arrived in Sydney on 28 June 1865, I am puzzled by the fact that it says he was Roman Catholic when the name given for his reference in the deposit journal was the Church of England Clergyman in Sligo. I am guessing the person writing the list for the ship's passenger list was on a roll and just assumed Samuel was Roman Catholic like most of the Irish passengers aboard. I think this is my Samuel Merrick - his year of birth fits (1849).

Which means my great great grandfather James Merrick, Samuel's brother and immigration sponsor, had arrived in Sydney by November 1864. I still haven't worked out how he got here. I don't believe that he is listed in the Assisted Immigrants Passenger Lists for NSW. Perhaps he came out unassisted, though I'd be surprised if he could afford that, unless he worked as a crew member of a ship. I'm not sure how many ships would have needed shoemakers on their crews though!

24 August 2011

Jean Gaspard Weiss and his return to Mulhouse

Information I have recently come across (see my last post) gives me slightly more information on Jean Gaspard Weiss and his life upon his return to Mulhouse, after achieving great fame and wealth in England through his flute playing.

From 1347 to 1798 the city of Mulhouse was part of the city-state of the Republic of Mulhouse, independent from France and allied with Switzerland until the Grand Council of the Republic of Mulhouse voted to join the French Republic. During its time of independence the city of Mulhouse was a protestant (Calvinist) enclave which developed into a solid industrial city, based on the manufacture of Indian cottons, which were prohibited from importation, manufacture and use in France until 1759, despite and because of the enormous popularity of Indian cottons. So because they were prohibited but highly sought-after in neighbouring France, Mulhouse was well placed to manufacture them.

When Jean-Gaspard Weiss returned home to Mulhouse in 1783 he sat on the Grand Council of the Republic of Mulhouse, and later on the municipal council (presumably after Mulhouse joined France). Mulhouse's social and political elite had the Dollfus, Koechlin and Hofer families at the top. Of the three men who founded Mulhouse's first textile printing factory, producing Indian cottons, two were from these three families: Samuel Koechlin (who was the son-in-law of the one of the most distinguished mayors - bürgermeisters - of the Grand Council, Jean Hofer) and Jean-Henri Dollfus (who later became Bürgermeister himself) - this textile printing business led to today's internationally known embroidery thread company DMC (Dollfus-Mieg and Compagnie). When Jean Gaspard Weiss started his own textile printing factory he worked in partnership with Jean-Jacques Dollfus, Nicolas Dollfus and his own son Jean-Georges Weiss (which seems a little strange to me because the information I have on Jean-Georges says he was born in 1785...). However, it was clearly important to be well-connected, particularly with the Dollfus family, but despite this the business venture only met with marginal success.

It is interesting that Jean Gaspard Weiss was involved in the politics of Mulhouse. From March 9 to July 25 in 1843 a Jean Georges Weiss was interim Bürgermeister of Mulhouse - this may have been Jean Georges Weiss, son of Jean Gaspard Weiss. Certainly the son Jean Georges was alive in 1843 - he was born 1785, died 1874. Jean Georges Weiss also gets another mention in the history of Mulhouse - in 1805 he was was in command of the reorganisation of the "old body of gunners" (I think there may be something lost in the translation here... Réorganisation de l'ancien corps des canonniers, sous le commandement de Jean-Georges Weiss), and was in charge of the town fire engines, of which there were four. Of course, it is possible that this was a different Jean-Georges Weiss - Weiss was apparently a very common name in Mulhouse.

19 August 2011

Just keep on digging...

I've been searching French language sources such as Gallica and French stuff on Google for information on Charles Nicholas Weiss and Jean Gaspard Weiss. I don't understand French but Google Translator is extremely useful.

Anyway, I found this: "Les partitions musicales de Gaspard Weiss retrouvées" - see page 11. It seems that someone else is just as interested in Jean Gaspard Weiss as I am! We'll see what comes of this... I didn't think I'd exhausted the available information on him yet - it would appear that I was right!

November 2011 - Edited to add: Unfortunately this link appears to no longer work. It detailed about a cellist, Tobias Bonz, who had rediscovered the works of Jean Gaspard Weiss. See this post for further details.

18 August 2011

Constantia von Holst Tourrier (plus a little on her husband)

I have recently received in the post a copy of the catalogue of the Theodor von Holst exhibition, held at the Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham England, in 2010. It includes an illustrated essay on the Holst family, written by the curator of the exhibition, Laura Kinnear. It contains biographical information on many of the members of the family. This includes a little information on Constantia von Holst, who was born 11 Nov 1804, at St Marylebone, married a Frenchman Jean Furcy Tourrier on 20 Jun 1833, at St Pancras, and died in 1877, aged 73 at St Pancras.

The essay on the family background of Theodor von Holst states that "There are no indications that Constantia embarked upon singing or acting...". I've actually found evidence to the contrary so I thought I would present it.

We already know from this post that Constantia had an Academy for Singing. She advertised it many times over 1836-1838. Considering she had children from 1835 onwards (Alfred Holst Tourrier 1835-1892, Constantia Sophia Tourrier 1837-1842, Ida Sarah Tourrier 1841-?, Juliette Alicia Sarah Tourrier 1843-1853, Eleanora Georgiana A Tourrier 1844-1923, John Theodore Tourrier 1846-1829 and Gustave Leon Furcy Tourrier 1849-1922) they could either afford a nanny or she was very good at juggling students and her own children! I find it quite surprising that she worked at all - it seems like a very modern thing to do, but at least it was a genteel-type thing to be occupied with - teaching (presumably) well-to-do ladies to sing.

In June 1836 "Madame Tourrier" also performed in a concert - Signor Curioni’s Grand Morning Concert in the Concert Room of the King’s Theatre, no less. There are no reviews of the concert to gauge the audience's opinion of her performance. She was one of many performers, one of an "extraordinary combination of talent", according to the concert advertisement. I can only find one other reference to Constantia performing in a concert - Don Ciebra's Concert, held 10 June 1840, which according to the review, was well attended. "The performances were principally instrumental; there was, however, some very good vocal music... Miss Yarnold and Madame Tourrier were also amongst the performers..." One could surmise from this that although she was enough of a talent to get the occasional gig singing in a concert amongst a large stable of other musical performers, she didn't really have what it took to set the world on fire.

By 1853, when her youngest child was about 4, Constantia did some teaching at Cavendish College, in Wimpole St, Paddington, which was for the instruction of ladies in appropriate branches of learning. This included Constantia assisting F. Praeger, Esq. in teaching the piano (Mr. Handel Gear, Esq. got the job teaching singing), and her husband teaching French, Elocution, Geography and History. There is a rather long article in The Morning Post of June 24, 1853, about a lecture that Monsieur Tourrier gave at the college on The French Language. It sounds, from the account given, mind-numbingly boring, however I'm not a linguist so perhaps the "select audience, consisting almost entirely of ladies" enjoyed it rather more than I would have.

And that seems to be the extent of the surviving information on Constantia von Holst Tourrier's musical career.

07 August 2011

Carolina Helena Maria von Holst Friederichs

I've been researching Carolina Helena Maria von Holst. (A word about her name: there are variations on spelling, depending on whether she was using the English spelling or the German or whatever. Plus, the surname von Holst was either written with a capital "v" or a lower case "v" - the family members themselves apparently couldn't decide. As it was, the "von" was adopted by the Holst family when they were in England and there is no evidence they were actually entitled to it!) Carolina was born in Danzig, Prussia, in the early 1800s - information from the Holst Birthplace Museum gives her date of birth as 1802, however her age in the 1851 English census suggests she was born about 1815. In 1834 she married a Dane, Joachim Heinrich Christian Friederichs, at St Pancras Parish Church. Her husband was noted as a widower and was a number of decades older than her.

Carolina was apparently a talented harpist. She was a pupil of Robert Nicolas-Charles Bochsa who was a rather colourful character (who incidentally died in Sydney, of all places) and she appears to have achieved some degree of fame in musical circles. I'm not sure that she was always known by her first name of Carolina - I've found one reference to her that suggests she used the first name of Friederike professionally. She also used many variations of her surnames: von Holst, Holst, Holst-Friedrichs, Friedrichs-Holst and Friedrichs (Friedrichs is the German form of Friederichs).

Carolina did at least one tour of Europe, in 1835-6, playing in Dresden, Berlin, Prague and Vienna, and possibly other places as well. She received very good reviews though the reviewers would have preferred her to steer away from the music of her teacher Bochsa as they felt it wasn't very good!

"Mad. Friedrichs’ play is in every respect excellent. Her passages are beautifully turned, and roll along like so many pearls, while her shake, considering it is on the harp, is admirable. We have heard nothing equal to her; and in addition to these advantages, she is a pretty, modest and amiable young person. May she let us hear something, occasionally, not by Bochsa!" (Supplement to the Musical Library, 1836.)

Family legend says that Carolina was employed as a harpist in the Prussian Imperial Court in Berlin, though it is unknown when. I have yet to find any definite evidence of this. Certainly by 1851 she was living in London in Paddington. Was it before or after this?

Did she have any children? Nothing has yet come to light. It is also unknown when or where Carolina died. The last we know of her for sure is from the 1851 English Census, when she was between about 30 and 50 years of age, depending on what date of birth you use. I do have information that says she toured Russia in 1837, France, Italy and the Netherlands in 1838, and then returned to London to teach, however I have no concrete evidence of this. But I'll keep looking!