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!

04 August 2011

Weifs vs Weiss

Some Weiss relations believe that the surname was previously spelled "Weifs" and then changed, roughly around (apparently) 1865, to the present spelling of "Weiss". Let me be clear - this is hogwash. It's just the way it was written - both the typeface used and the way they handwrote it.

Firstly we'll look at the typeface. They often used a different typeface way back when - in 17th and 18th century English newspapers I've seen "English" written "Engli∫h" and "witness" written "witnefs". Have the words changed? No, just the typeface used to represent them.

Secondly we'll look at the handwriting. Even after the newspapers started using the usual typeface characters that we use today, people were still handwriting it the old way, with an "f" style character. When he was married, in 1828, Charles Nicholas Weiss signed the marriage register like this (I've traced it): So was his surname "Weifs?" No. It was transcribed as "Weiss", and all newpaper references to him before and after this give his surname as "Weiss". It's just the way it was written.

Hopefully that settles it. The surname of Weiss was always Weiss and was never Weifs.