14 January 2011

Why did the Beringers come to Australia?

As I learnt more about the Beringers I often wondered why it was that they came to Australia. At that time, the vast majority of German immigrants went to America - it was much cheaper, and the journey was much shorter and less perilous - going south and east to Australia, round the Cape of Good Hope was usually no picnic.

I felt that it would be logical that a relative (or perhaps a family friend) might have come out first and encouraged them to come. But try as I might, I couldn't find a Beringer who preceded them (apart from a convict who was born in London). They were almost certainly the first free Beringers in NSW.

It wasn't until I took a trip to the State Library of NSW that I stumbled upon a vague sort of answer. I came across a CD-Rom that they had in the Family History section, which gave the details of people who had made deposits for (sponsored if you like) immigrants to come to Australia. In that index (Index to the N.S.W. immigration deposit journals 1853-1900) I discovered that a "Philip Post" had made a deposit for Adam, Caroline and [John] Valentine (named as Valtin). Adam and John Valentine were noted in the index as having useful occupations - they were a locksmith and a cabinetmaker respectively. As I noted on my scribbled piece of paper in the library "Who was Philip Post?"

Once I was home again in front of my own computer I did some searching. Not really knowing what I was looking for, from the internet and from Ancestry, all I could find was a Philip Post, who seemed to be some sort of farmer, living in the Armidale area. Considering the close proximity of Uralla, where John Valentine eventually settled, I concluded that must be the Philip Post I was looking for. I still didn't know why he made the deposit though. "Post" doesn't sound a particularly German name so I concluded for the time being that somehow Philip Post had been contacted by the Beringers and had agreed to sponsor them out here - perhaps so that they could work for him - all wild supposition on my part, but it was all I had.

Then a number of months later, by the time I had taken up a subscription with Ancestry, I was going through adding supporting evidence for all the people I had in my tree. I was linking up the ship's passenger lists that Ancestry had images of to the Beringers. I discovered then that there were two different passenger lists for the ship they came on (the Abergeldie). And the second list, the one I hadn't seen before, had some extra information, including a column of "Relatives in the Colony". It was filled out for the Beringers! They had a relative! I tried to decipher the appallingly messy scrawl. "Uncle [in] ????" - so they had an uncle here! But the place name just seemed like an illegible squiggle to me. I traced the word off the computer screen.

I stared at it for minutes before it dawned on me. Uralla! The uncle lived in Uralla! Was Philip Post the uncle? Certainly there were no other Beringers up there.

Doing some more research on Philip Post I found that the surname Post did indeed come from Germany. George and Catharina Post came out to Australia in 1849. They came from Eltville in the Rhine Valley, Germany - a region renowned for its wines - as part of an initiative to establish a wine industry in NSW. There were a good number of "vine dressers" who, with their wives, came out from the Rhine Valley for this. George and Catharina settled in the Uralla/Gostwyck area of the New England region. One of their sons was Philip Post - presumably the one who sponsored the Beringers' passage. However, given his age, it was more likely Philip was a cousin and George the uncle referred to by the Beringers. I have not yet been able to establish any definite family links between the Beringers and the Posts, but I'll keep looking.

As time went by and more pieces of information were uncovered, I learnt from his death certificate that John Valentine was born in Wiesbaden, and his father, a miller, was also named Valentine Beringer, and his mother's name was Elizabeth (maiden name Bridal). The surname "Bridal" surprised me but I guessed this was possibly wrong, the details given by John's grieving widow who had never actually met her mother-in-law.

I despaired of ever finding out the name of Adam's parents (I knew he came from Rauenthal from his naturalisation papers) because they weren't listed on his death certificate. It wasn't until I got in touch with another distant Beringer relative here in Australia that she gave me the details of his parents - from the marriage certificate, when he remarried, after Caroline died. And lo, Adam's parents were Valentine (Valentin) Beringer, a miller, and Elizabeth (Elisabethe) nee Bredel - a much more German sounding name, but understandably confused with "Bridal". So Adam and Valentine were brothers. I found it quite comforting to know that they, as brothers, journeyed so far to a foreign land, together.

1 comment:

  1. The surname Post is indeed a German surname. I have done considerable research into the Post surname and I have gone back, with help from an archivist in Germany - Sebastian Post, as far as 1490's to a Jakob Post who was given land near the village of Eltville in the then Duchy of Nasssau, to grow a vinyard for the supply of wine to the Prince of Nassau's cellars. The Post family still live in the Uralla district to this day -desendants of Phillip Post. Good luck on your research and have fun exploring your ancestors. Kind regards, Nathan Post