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.