23 December 2013

The naming of the Baumgarten children

It's interesting to see if it is possible to work out who the children in a family were named after. You can surmise who might have been a beloved relative or a treasured friend. Of course sometimes it's completely impossible to work out who (or what!) ancestors were thinking of when they named their kids! However, the children of Samuel Christian Frederic and Mary Baumgarten née Joynes seem to have names that were honouring friends and relatives.

Name of child Date of birth Date of baptism Parish of baptism Possible namegiver
Elizabeth Mary 16 Feb 1753 22 Feb 1753 St Martins in the Field The middle name of Mary is probably after her mother, but I'm not sure who the Elizabeth honours. I haven't found an Elizabeth amongst the Baumgarten or Joynes relatives so maybe she was a family friend. It's possible that it was for family friend Elizabeth Worrall - see Lucinda Worrall Baumgarten below.
Marie 21 Jul 1755 15 Aug 1755 St Margaret Westminster Probably named after her mother.
Charlotte 24 Feb 1757 28 Mar 1757 St Margaret Westminster Probably named after her maternal aunt or maternal step-cousin - her maternal uncle Samuel Joynes was married to Charlotte Tully, who had been widowed by the death of her first husband Stephen Downes. Charlotte and Stephen had at least three children, including a daughter, Charlotte, and a son, Tully.
Tully c1759 19 Dec 1759 St Andrew Holborn Probably named after his step-cousin Tully Downes.
Thomas c1761 7 Feb 1761 St Andrew Holborn Probably named after his maternal uncle Thomas Joynes.
Henry c1761 7 Feb 1761 St Andrew Holborn Probably named after his maternal uncle Henry Joynes.
Frederick c1762 20 May 1762 St Andrew Holborn Either named after his paternal uncle, Frederick Baumgarten, or after his father's second middle name.
William c1764 2 May 1764 St Andrew Holborn I've no idea who William was named after!
Frances c1765 2 Jun 1765 St Andrew Holborn Probably named after her paternal aunt, Frances Baumgarten.
Lucinda Worrall 30 Sep 1766 16 Oct 1766 St Andrew Holborn Lucinda Worrall's middle name was in honour of Elizabeth Worrall, spinster of Kensington, who was her godmother (noted in Elizabeth Worrall's will). The reason for the choice of Lucinda as her first name is unknown.
Joynes Philip c1768 7 Dec 1768 St Martin in the Fields "Joynes" is clearly derived from his mother's maiden name, no idea where "Philip" comes from!

It was a very helpful exercise to put all this information into a table - firstly, I had an idea that Thomas and Henry were possibly twins, but realising that they were both baptised on the same day, when none of their other siblings were baptised with another, makes it more probable that they were twins. I wonder if they were identical or fraternal (fraternal being hereditary).

Secondly, I originally had a problem with Lucinda Worrall Baumgarten - I had her birth year down as 1756, and yet she was baptised 10 years afterwards, unlike any of her siblings. Plus, based on that birthdate, when she died in 1859, she would have been 102 - which I felt was highly unlikely in that day. Add to that the fact that she was baptised at St Andrews Holborn, when the two siblings apparently on either side of her - Marie and Charlotte - were both baptised at St Margaret Westminster. However, if we assume that 1756 was a transcription/typing error, and in fact she was born in 1766, that all works much better.

Edited on 12 January 2015 to add: Lucinda's death certificate from Mulhouse states that 30 September 1766 was in fact her birthdate.

13 December 2013

The Baumgarten brothers and the military

I am still intrigued by Samuel Christian Frederic Baumgarten (c1729-1798) and John Henry Baumgarten (?-1770), brothers, most likely of German origin, who lived and worked in London, England. The fact that so little is known about them makes me want to search and search to uncover as much as I can on them. I like the thrill of the chase!

I know from John Henry Baumgarten's will that he was the Quartermaster in the Royal Horse Guards Blue. I've been doing a bit of research on the Royal Horse Guards, and in 1782 the full pay salary for an officer at quartermaster level was £155 2s 6d - this seemed to be around the middle of the pay rates for officers. John Baumgarten died 12 years before that, but it gives us an idea of the pay rate he was on. There is every chance that John might have seen overseas service with the Royal Horse Guards - they were involved in the Seven Years War in Germany. Likely being a native German speaker, this may have made him quite useful during the unit's service in Germany. What made a foreigner like John Henry Baumgarten join the British Army is an interesting question...

Samuel Baumgarten was a professional bassoonist, but I discovered the other day that he also had military involvement. According to Daub's Music at the court of George II (1985) the noted bassoonist Samuel Baumgarten was one of seven hautbois (oboes, which in this context also included bassoons) from the First Regiment of the Foot Guards who signed for new liveries in June of 1755. Apparently there were a number of groups of musicians from military units who were called upon to participate in royal functions, including drums and hautbois. Interestingly, there were also musicians from the Royal Horse Guards who were involved as court musicians - I wonder if John Baumgarten was involved in this, considering there was definite musical talent within his family... Which makes me wonder if it was the military that appealed, or whether it was a means to an end, in having a salaried job playing music. It was most likely a more regular pay cheque than playing in professional concerts.

Daub also notes there was a "Baumgarden" who played the bassoon at King George II's funeral - most likely a misspelling of "Baumgarten". Presumably this was as part of Samuel's military musician duties.

On another note (pun intended), I have discovered that Samuel Baumgarten played in the performance of Handel's Messiah at the Foundling Hospital on May 3rd, 1759. He is once again noted in the list of performers as "Baumgarden", and was paid 10d 6s for the performance. He was one of the more senior bassoonists (the other was Miller) as there were two other bassoonists, Goodman and Owen, who were paid only 8d. (Cusins, W.G. 1874. Handel's Messiah: an examination of the Original and some contemporary MSS. Augener and Co., London.)

12 November 2013

Trove Tuesday: Miss Mary Merrick

I've been researching some of the Merrick relatives recently, particularly James William Merrick, whom I will write about in a future post. Today I've been trawling through Trove, finding out what I can about James William Merrick, and then I sort of strayed onto other Merricks as well. Including Miss Mary Merrick.

Mary Merrick's birth is not recorded in the NSW BDM, although there is nothing to suggest she wasn't born in New South Wales. Her parents were John Thomas Merrick and his wife Margaret (maiden name unknown). Mary Merrick is my first cousin, three times removed.

My great uncle told me ages ago that she worked for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, and he thought she was on the board. My research says that she was a librarian and stenographer, so it is unlikely that she was on the board! However, as I myself am a botanist, I was absolutely delighted to find that in 1925 J.H. Maiden (a big name in NSW botanical circles) and W.F. Blakely named a eucalypt in her honour.

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Aug 1925

The plant was named Eucalyptus merrickiae, a name which is still current. It is native to Western Australia, in the Esperance region, and is considered vulnerable because it is rare. Take it from me, having a plant named after you is a very special honour. She must have been well liked and good at her job. According to the paper in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1925, issue 59) in which the name was formally published, "This species is named in honour of Miss Mary Merrick, who, in her capacity as librarian and stenographer, Botanic Gardens, Sydney, has been of very great help to us in our Eucalyptus work".

And then I happened upon another one as well! Acacia merrickiae, known as Merrick's wattle, was also named in Mary's honour in 1927.

Mary's biography on the Australian National Herbarium website sheds a little further light on Mary's life - she was born 8 April 1897, and early staff records for the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney indicate she commenced work there in July 1921 as a librarian and stenographer, and then became a clerk in July 1922. According to records she was still working there in late 1925, and Hall (1978) says she still there in 1927. The National Herbarium of NSW records indicate that they have two plant specimens she collected in their collections, both from the Central Coast of NSW.

In 1933 Mary married Charles Harborough Thomas Taylor and her working career apparently came to an end. In December of the same year she gave birth prematurely to their first child, John Charles Harborough Taylor. They had at least one other child, Alan William Taylor.

Mary died on 10 August 1981 in a nursing home in Belrose, after spending her married life in Forbes, Avoca Beach and Chatswood. Did she continue with botanical interests throughout her life? I'd love to hear from anyone who is more closely related to her than me.

15 September 2013

Church records at the Mitchell Library

I spent the day in the Mitchell Library Manuscripts Collection yesterday, looking at microfilmed church records. The records have been microfilmed by the Society of Australian Genealogists, from the original parish registers. If you can find the record you are looking for (not always) it's a cheaper option (free!) than ordering a transcript or official record from NSW Births Deaths and Marriages, though it's not nearly a comprehensive collection of the records of every single church in the state. Obviously the information for birth and death records will be not quite the same as for a baptism or burial record, but the marriage information is pretty much the same.

I was looking for information for St Paul's Church of England, Redfern (now a Greek Orthodox church and theological seminary), and St Thomas' Church of England, North Sydney.

For St Paul's Redfern I was looking for information on the Merrick family. My aunt has a prayer book that was awarded to my great grandmother, Ethel Sarah Merrick, by her teacher at St Paul's Sunday School, when she was 19, for "Answers to Scripture Questions".

It's a bit intriguing that she was still attending Sunday School at that age, but it does at least suggest that the family worshipped there. I was looking for a marriage record for James Merrick and Eliza Jane Ball (my great great grandparents), and for baptism records for any of their children. I would have looked for burial records too, but there were none available - presumably because there was no cemetery attached to the church? Unfortunately, I was unable to find the marriage record, and the baptism registers from July 1879 to October 1891 are missing - they were never received at St Andrew's House (head office for the Sydney Diocese) from the parish - and this covers most of the births of the Merrick children. Although the birth of Susanna Jane Merrick should have been in the registers (born about 1876), it wasn't there. It suggests to me that her parents were married in a different parish, and she was baptised elsewhere also. The only baptism record I could find was for Esther (Essie) Louisa Merrick.

  • "Esther Louise Meyrick (sic)" was baptised on February 3 1878 at St Paul's Redfern, born on 5 January 1878 to James and Elizabeth (sic). Her abode was Vine St, Redfern, and her father's occupation was listed as Government Employee. That he was a government employee is very surprising to me - James Merrick was a bootmaker - so I'm not sure what the government would have employed him to do!

For St Thomas' North Sydney I was looking for records on the Smith family. There's quite a bit I don't know about the Smiths, partly because they were on the poorer side of society and didn't generally put notices in papers, nor did they get themselves into newspapers for any other reason. And then there's the fact that their surname was Smith... not the most unusual of surnames! So I was hoping that the church records might shed a little more light on them. I already knew that James Smith and Sarah Ann Adamson (my great great great grandparents) were married at the Wesleyan Methodist Princes St Chapel on 28 June 1853. However, I also knew that some of the family were buried in the St Thomas' Cemetery, so there was a good chance the family attended St Thomas'. Although there was a Methodist presence on the North Shore, it was struggling, and this is perhaps why the Smiths went to St Thomas'.

  • Ann Jane Smith (my great great grandmother) was baptised in the Sydney North Circuit (of Wesleyan Methodist church) on 11 November 1854, born to James and Sarah Smith on 20 October 1854. The family's abode was "North Shore" and James Smith's profession was recorded as "labourer". This particular information was actually obtained from the family history section of the State Reference Library, from the Registers of Baptisms, Burials and Marriages 1787-1856 microfilm. These are early records from before civil registration began in 1856.
  • Eliza Annie Smith was baptised on 1 February 1863 at St Thomas', born to James and Sarah Smith on 11 January 1863. Their abode was "Willoughby" and James Smith's profession was "labourer".
  • Susan Smith was baptised on 24 September 1865 at St Thomas', born to James and Sarah Smith on 1 July 1865. Their abode was "St Leonards", James' profession was "laborer", and the witnesses were Wm. Sparkes, Ann Jane Adamson, and Eliza Anne (Barker?).
  • William Mark Smith was baptised at St Thomas' on 4 June 1871, born to James and Sarah Smith on 20 April 1871. Their abode was "St Leonards" and James was a "quarryman". This is the first time I have seen William's full name of William Mark Smith.
  • Maria Smith was buried on 30 November 1861 at 4pm in St Thomas' Cemetery. She died 29 November 1861, her abode was St Leonards, and she was 8 months, 3 weeks old when she died. There is a note that she had been baptised by Mr Hurst, and was a child of James and Sarah Smith.
  • James Smith was buried in St Thomas' Cemetery on 6 July 1879. He died on 4 July 1879, aged 49 years 7 months. His abode was St Leonards, and his profession was quarryman. I wonder where the quarry was?
  • Susan Smith was buried in St Thomas' Cemetery on 23 December 1881, having died on 2 December 1881. She was 16 years old, and her abode was St Leonards.

So I still found no reference to the 2 deceased males recorded on the death record of James Smith in 1879. Interestingly they were not noted on their mother Sarah's death record. I can only assume that they were never baptised and their births were not officially recorded. They must have died young. Which makes me wonder what they did with the bodies of the two little boys whose births and deaths were never officially recorded... I'm not suggesting anything sinister here, I'm just wondering!

I also browsed through the other reels of microfilms and found some for the Scots Church Sydney (Presbyterian), relating to Rev Dr John Dunmore Lang. I knew that one couple amongst my relatives had been married by Rev Dr Lang, so I dug deep in my memory (and my smart phone!) and found it was Samuel Harper and Susanna Ball, sister of Eliza Jane, who married James Merrick, and daughter of James and Susanna Ball (my great great great grandparents). So I also found the marriage record for them.

  • Marriage of Samuel Harper and Susanna Ball on 23 September 1865 at Botany Rd, Sydney, by John Dunmore Lang. Samuel Harper was a bachelor, born in Sydney, NSW, a Custom House Officer, 24 years old, from Botany Road, Redfern. His parents were John Harper, ironmonger, and Charlotte Styles. Susanna Ball was a spinster, born in London, living with her parents, 22 years old, living in Redfern. Her parents were James Ball, bookbinder, and Susanna Smith (no relation to the Smiths above). The witnesses were Geo. West and Louisa Ball.

Thanks go to my aunt for the above photos of the prayer book.

10 September 2013

Trove Tuesday: Obituary for John V. Beringer

I discovered an obituary for my great great great uncle John Valentine Beringer, via Trove, in the Catholic newspaper Freeman's Journal (4 June 1931, p13):

It is a great comfort to me that he clearly became such an esteemed member of the Uralla community. He and his brother Adam (and sister-in-law Caroline) came so far, all way from Germany, and settled here in Australia, and made a new life for themselves. Although John Valentine had his share of tragedy - the death of his first wife Catherine, and their son Thomas - he really seemed to find his feet here.

I'd love to see some of his carpentry work... Anyone? Anyone?

01 September 2013

James Ball, Redfern Municipal Councillor/Alderman

I spent a bit of time at the City of Sydney Archives last week. I can't remember where I first saw it, but a little while ago I discovered that a James Ball was a councillor of Redfern Municipal Council. Was it my James Ball, my great, great, great grandfather? No one in my family knew anything about it...

Redfern Municipal Council no longer exists but I was able to work out that the Redfern council records that do still exist (many do not) are held by the City of Sydney. I contacted their archives and they were able to tell me that a James Ball was indeed a councillor of Redfern Municipal Council between 1865 and 1867. I made an appointment to look through the Redfern Municipal Council Minutes books, held at the City of Sydney archives.

The minutes show that on Thursday 16th February 1865, Mr. James Ball of Botany Road was elected a councillor of Redfern Ward with 79 votes (with a majority of 23). He was proposed by Mr. Robert Ellison, who was elected councillor of Surry Hills ward at the same meeting.

So, my great great great grandfather was in local politics. He was quickly co-opted onto the Finance Committee, which is interesting considering he had been bankrupt back in London! The meeting minutes show that they were sticklers for getting the processes of the meetings correct, moving motions and seconding and debating etc. However for all the legalism, the council certainly did some good, as most of the correspondence to the council at the time seemed to be about petitions to upgrade street drainage and roads, which they generally approved, unless there weren't enough funds available.

The councillors (later aldermen) seemed to have a rotation of three years on council, so in 1867 James Ball was up for election again. It was a two-horse race, between James and Mr. Henry Hudson. James received 129 votes, and Mr. Hudson 175, so my great great great grandfather's reign on Redfern Municipal Council was at an end. He was never re-elected to council.

04 August 2013

The quote on Samuel Merrick's gravestone

On my trip to Rookwood Cemetery the other day we visited the grave of Samuel Merrick, as I knew there was an inscription in italics that I previously hadn't been able to decipher, but I thought my aunt and I together might have more success.

The engraving on this section of the gravestone was very worn, and very difficult to read, but in the end we managed to pick out enough words to work it out, with the help of Google!

Now the labourer's task is o'er
Now the battle day is past
Now upon the farther shore
Lands the voyager at last.
Father in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servant sleeping.

The inscription is the first verse of the hymn "Now the labourer's task is o'er". It seems a very appropriate verse to have on Samuel's gravestone - he was a labourer - a bootmaker. I also like the imagery of the farther shore - this refers to heaven, but it also alludes to Samuel's own journey from Sligo, Ireland, to Sydney, Australia.

03 August 2013

The grave of James and Susanna Ball

The other day my aunt and I visited Rookwood Cemetery to see if we could locate the grave of James and Susanna Ball. They are buried in the Anglican cemetery, section B, in graves 274 and 275. Until recently, there were no good markers in the Anglican section to give you any idea of what the grave numbers were, but a little while ago someone went through and put in little white stakes, with numbers on them at the ends of the rows. SOOO helpful!

We located the right row and walked along but it didn't leap out at us. Closer inspection found it, with the headstone fallen onto the actual grave, though it was at least right-side up, and completely overgrown by grass, bulbs and a couple of camphor laurel saplings. We cleared away the grass and leaves as best we could and attempted to transcribe it. It was very weathered in places, so it took us quite some time to work it all out - we think we've got it all correct!

Sacred to the Memory 
the beloved wife of 
James Ball 
of Botany Road Redfern 
who departed this life 
October 23rd 1871 
aged 57 years 
She hath done what she could. 

Now in a nobler sweeter song 
I sing His power to save, 
Whilst my poor lisping stammering tongue 
Lies silent in the grave.

Also to the memory of 
her four children who died in the City of London 
Thomas John aged 3, Emma aged 2 
Mary Ann aged 2, Arthur Henry 1

Also the above 
James Ball 
who died 7 May 1879 
aged 66 years 
The memory of the just is blessed.

Louis Affriatt 
infant son of 
Henry A and Louisa Wilson 
and grandson of the above 
Died 2nd June 1879 aged 13 months 
Thy will be done

Elsie Louisa Wilson 
Died 27th October 1883 
Aged 16 months

"She hath done what she could" suggests a woman who had a hard life but did her very best under often trying circumstances. Considering Susanna Ball lost four infant children, her husband was in debtors prison for at least two months, and she travelled with her family all the way to the other side of the world to begin a new life in a foreign land, never to return "home", I certainly think she faced some hardship.

The quote in italics is from the hymn "There is a Fountain" by William Cowper. It gives us some idea of what Susanna believed, that once her mortal body died she would be in heaven, singing the praises of her saviour Jesus.

29 July 2013

James Ball, bookbinder AND carpenter

The Ball family in England is one of the parts of my family that I have found frustratingly little about. But every now and then I try all my usual searches on them to see if any new information has been loaded onto Ancestry, Findmypast and FamilySearch.

Yesterday I was looking up James Ball, my great great great grandfather, and discovered something new. Even though I knew he died in Sydney, after emigrating from England in 1857, I was looking under the British parish records collection for burials. For some reason they have details of some Sydney burials in there (I don't quite understand why), and I happened upon the burial records for James and his wife Susannah. I've looked for them before out at Rookwood Cemetery, but had not been able to locate the graves, as the Anglican section of the cemetery at that time was completely unmapped.

However, I discovered yesterday that with the graves for James and Susannah is also a memorial for four of their children "who died in the City of London": Thomas John, aged 3, Emma, aged 2, Mary Ann, aged 2, and Arthur Henry, aged 1. Although it didn't note the children's dates of death, this was a starting point as I previously had no knowledge of their existence, apart from Thomas John!

I already knew that Thomas John had been buried in the Middle Ground of the New Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, Islington, on May 2, 1844 - this was known from the London Non-conformist registers. I then managed to find that Mary Ann was buried at St Gregory by St Paul, aged 15 months, on 28 March 1850, her abode given as 20 Little Carter Street. I still cannot find anything in relation to Emma and Arthur Henry, but at least I'm aware of their existence now!

Thomas John and Mary Ann were buried in different graveyards, under different Christian denominations (St Gregory by St Paul is Church of England, non-conformist churches were other protestant churches, such as Methodist, Baptist etc) and I wondered why this was. Checking the known baptisms for all the Ball children, I found some previously undiscovered ones: Susannah, Louisa and Eliza (Eliza Jane) were baptised together at St Jude's, Bethnal Green (Church of England) on 11 May 1856, with their actual birthdates noted (Susannah: 27 May 1843, Louisa: 22 August 1845, Eliza Jane: 30 July 1847). When they emigrated to Australia, their religion was noted as Independent, however James and Susannah were buried in the Church of England (now Anglican) section of Rookwood Cemetery when they died. When their children married in Australia, they were married by Presbyterian and Wesleyan Methodist ministers. I tend to think that they gravitated to the nearest church wherever they were, but perhaps had a soft spot for non-conformist denominations.

The baptism records for the three girls also noted their father James was a carpenter, and that they lived at 1 Johns Place, Essex Street. I have puzzled before over James as a carpenter - the only reference I had previously found was in the immigration records when they arrived in Australia, despite the fact that I know he worked as a bookbinder in Little Carter Lane, London, and also in Redfern, Sydney. So it made me wonder what it might be that made him change profession before leaving for Australia. I wondered if his bookbinding business might have gone bankrupt. After some searching, I found that's exactly what did happen.

The first I can find of it is a notice in the London Gazette that he was to appear at the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors on 7 January 1854: "James Ball, late of No. 23 Lambeth-hill, Thames Street, London, Stationer and Bookbinder - in the Debtors' Prison for London and Middlesex." Another notice stated that he was formerly of 20 Little Carter-lane, then and late of 23 Lambeth-hill, Thames St.

He was imprisoned because of his debts. What happened to his family while he was in prison? If he was unable to pay his debts, I'm sure he wouldn't have been able to afford the rest on the house they were living in, so where did they live? According to immigration records, James' wife Susannah was a house servant, and possibly her meagre income was what they lived off during this time.

The Morning Post of 27 February 1854 contained a small article about the case:

This insolvent, a bookbinder, &c., applied under the Protection Act. Mr Sargood opposed. The case created some laughter. The insolvent attributed his insolvency to the removal of his business from Carter-lane in consequence of the City improvements. He got 200l., having asked for 400l. He heard it was usual to get half of what was asked. (A laugh.) He then went to Lambeth-hill, hoping another line of improvement might be made, so that he might make a speculation, but he had been disappointed (laughter). The case adjourned to serve a creditor."
It rather suggests that James was slightly naive in his business dealings...

On March 24 1854 the Morning Post reported:

I don't understand half of that article, nor really what the outcome was, but it apparently left James in the position of no longer having a bookbinding business, so he clearly took up carpentry instead, and worked as a carpenter until the family emigrated to Australia. At some stage he then was able to buy some more bookbinding equipment and he took up bookbinding again in Redfern, Sydney.

16 July 2013

Tom Wickham, retired policeman

Recently a reader (Graham Sciberras - thank you so much Graham!) sent me a link to a 1962 ABC Four Corners report on the gentrification of Paddington, an inner-city suburb of Sydney. The report is interesting to watch because of the hilarious English accent that so many of the reporters of the day affected, but also, and most importantly, because my great great uncle, Tom Wickham is featured in it. I've seen a few photos of him before, but never seen film of him, so this was brilliant to see!

Mum was visiting my grandfather recently, who is Tom's nephew, and though he is quite unwell, when Mum asked him, my grandfather did remember his Uncle Tom. So today Mum and I visited my grandfather again and showed him a still photo of Tom from the Four Corners report, and also some of the footage from the story. Sadly, the other day my grandfather must have been more lucid because today he just kept looking at the photo and shaking his head. Because of his illness I don't think he could get his head around the fact that this was someone he once knew.

However, should you be interested in what Tom Wickham, retired policeman, looked like in 1962, pop over here and take a look - he's about 2 minutes in. There is a big resemblance to my grandfather. And then compare him to how they imagined him in Underbelly: Razor - slightly different!

Tom Wickham, interviewed for ABC Four Corners, 1962 
Steve Le Marquand, as Tom Wickham for Underbelly: Razor

21 June 2013

The short life of James Arthur Wilkey

James Arthur Wilkey was my great grandfather. He was born in Burwood, Sydney in 1877 to John and Mary Ann Wilkey. Comparatively little is known about my great grandfather, because he only lived to 30 years of age. For him there was no sitting around with the grandchildren, regaling them with stories of "When I was young...."

James Arthur, known just as "Arthur", was the seventh of nine children of John and Mary Ann Wilkey, though he only knew two of his older siblings because the others died in infancy or childhood.

James Arthur Wilkey on his wedding day.

The next event that history records in Arthur's life was his marriage, aged 25, to Ellen Paterson Macindoe in 1902, at Petersham, Sydney. They lived in a house in Wyatt Avenue, Burwood, and started a family - their first child, Helen Genevieve, was born in 1904. Arthur worked as a clerk. Then, in 1907, when Ellen, known as Nell, was newly pregnant with their second child, named James Arthur Macindoe Wilkey (known as Arthur, like his father), tragedy befell the family.

Evening News, 16 Sep 1907. Accessed via Trove on 21 Jun 2013. Note that Arthur's name is quoted incorrectly.

The accident occurred at about 8am on Monday 16 September. Nell sat up all Monday night, praying for her husband, with her mother, sister Maggie, brother Norman, and a few friends. I cannot begin to imagine her emotional state at the plight of her husband, especially in her pregnant condition, but her brother Norman described it thus in his diary: "Remained up all Tuesday night sharing Nell's heart agony, also portion of Wednesday night". Tragically, Arthur died the day after the accident at about 1pm. He was buried at Rookwood Cemetery on 19 September 1907.

Witnesses at the inquest into his death described how, after his train had left Burwood Station on its journey towards Sydney, as he stood on the platform of the train, his hat blew off when another train passed, and in a effort to catch it, he fell from the train. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Life for Nell after her husband's death was hard, though her family was there to help her. She gave birth to their son Arthur in the following April. Some of Nell's brothers took a particular interest in young Arthur as he grew up, to provide him with a father figure.

I've often wondered how the family survived financially after Arthur's death, as there was no longer a breadwinner in the family. This question was answered when I looked at Arthur's deceased estate papers at State Records: on the 31 Dec 1898 when he was 21, Arthur took out a £100 life insurance policy with the Australian Mutual Provident Society. When he died, the policy paid out £111. That would certainly have helped provide for the family.

29 April 2013

A not necessarily comprehensive guide to English family history research in the 1700s

The further you go back in history, the harder it is to find much information that might be useful to your family history research. Parish records can be incredibly useful for researching more recent generations, but as far back as the 1700s the parish records don't contain much. With a baptism record you're likely to get the parents names of the baptised child, but that's about it - if you're really lucky you might get a date of birth as well. Places of abode and occupation of the father were not recorded. Burial records will only give you the date the person was buried, and if you're lucky, they might list the age of the deceased.

So in the 1700s you have to look to other sources for further information. These include historical newspapers and wills. Of course, if your relatives were in the lower classes, you're unlikely to have much success at all - they didn't tend to publicise their hatches, matches and dispatches in the daily rag, and neither did they usually have much to will away. Sorry! However, if you had some rellies in the middle and upper classes, you may be in luck.

Over the past few days I have spent some time working on Henry James Davison (who happens to be the grandson of the wife of my 6x great uncle). All I knew from his baptism record was that he was baptised at St Marylebone Church, Marylebone, London on August 10, 1780. It also recorded his parents' names - James and Charlotte, and that he was born on 16 July 1780 (bonus!). I also had found baptism records for two of his siblings, James Tully Davison (1776) and John Davison (1777) in the same parish, which suggested that the family might have lived locally for at least 5 years.

To find out a little more, my next step was to see if I could find wills for either of Henry's parents. Of course there would only be one for his mother if his father died first - my understanding is that otherwise, in those days pretty much everything a woman owned was actually owned by her husband. Looking on the National Archives (UK) website, I found a will of Charlotte Davison, Widow of Saint Marylebone, Middlesex, dated 6 April 1833. It was the only one there that could possibly be her, so I took a punt and ordered it. And luckily it was her. And it happened to mention "Ann" (maiden name unknown), the widow of her late son Henry James Davison. So this meant he was dead by 1833. I couldn't find a reasonable likely option for a will of Henry's father James Davison, so I tried a different tack.

I searched some historical newspapers for Henry James Davison to see whether he made the papers at all. In June 1804 he was admitted to a Bachelor of Laws through Trinity Hall, Cambridge (from The Bury and Norwich Post, 20 June 1804). I also found his death notice (The Morning Post, 18 April 1822):

DIED - On Sunday last, at his mother's house, In Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, Henry James Davison, Esq. of Little Berkhampstead, Herts. aged 41.
It would seem that there can be a lot of variation in the spelling of "Berkhampstead". Interestingly, in his mother's will she had made reference to all her "printed books and prints whatever either at Berkhampsted or in London".

So now I had two places to google in relation to the surname Davison - Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, and Little Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire. The first combination on Google brought up a will at the National Archives (UK) - the will of a Henry Davison, of Chandos Street Cavendish Square, Middlesex. Being dated 1822, I realised that this was my Henry James Davison! In his will Henry left pretty much everything to his wife Anne, but also left 50 guineas apiece to each of his godchildren. Which suggests to me that he and Ann never had children, or at least if they did, they hadn't survived.

Then I googled "Davison" with "Little Berkhampstead" and a reference to "Ann Davison, wid." caught my eye. It appeared that in 1826, four years after the death of her first husband, Henry James Davison, Ann married William Horne, later Sir William Horne, a British barrister and politician. The fact that they named one of their sons Henry James Davison Horne clinched it for me that this was definitely the widow of Henry James Davison.

The Hertfordshire Archives has an online database, a search of which revealed a death notice for Henry James Davison published in the County Chronicle on 7 May 1822. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find access to this newspaper, so I don't know what hidden secrets the notice might reveal.

So that's about all I can find on him. But rather than just knowing when he was born, and to whom, I can build up a little picture of him. He was born to James and Charlotte Davison in 1780 and baptised in the family parish of St Marylebone about a month later. He studied law at Cambridge, receiving his bachelors degree when he was 24. His family had a connection to Little Berkhampstead in Hertfordshire, and he lived there, at least for a time, with his wife. Apparently they had no children - was there a medical reason for the lack of children? Henry died, aged 41, at his mother's house in Marylebone. That he died so relatively young, and at his mother's house instead of in his own home at Little Berkhampstead suggests to me that perhaps he was convalescing there and that it wasn't necessarily a sudden death. The extended family was not poor, having residences in both Marylebone and Little Berkhampstead (there is evidence that Henry wasn't the only Davison who spent time there - his parents appeared to have links there as well), which they apparently moved between from time to time, and 50 guineas for each of his godchildren wouldn't have been small either.

24 April 2013

A German gentleman

I was watching the Australian version of Who Do You Think You Are? recently, and was interested in some information I gleaned from the episode on comedian Adam Hills.

Adam had some ancestors in Germany and they happened to mention the meaning of the word "burger/bürger"- it actually translates as "citizen" or "townsman", but means "gentleman".

I knew from my translation of German parish records relating to my Beringer ancestors that there were some burgers amongst them. So I looked back through all my records and found that Valtin Beringer, my 3x great grandfather, was noted as "burger und müller auf der Lochmühle" in many parish records regarding his children, and I also found one record where my 5x great grandfather, Caspar Joseph Beringer, was also referred to as a burger (the death record of his son Lorenz, 14 Nov 1819).

19 March 2013

The baptism of Mary Baumgarten

I've been searching for some kind of birth/baptism record for Mary (Marie) Baumgarten, daughter of Samuel Christian Frederick Baumgarten (c1729-1798) and Mary Joynes (c1729-?), who was later the wife of Gaspard Weiss (1739-1815), for ages now.

I have a record (from the Burgerbuch of Mulhouse) which suggests that unlike all her siblings who were apparently born in London, England, she was from Nassau-Usingen (though perhaps not born there). I still was looking for some vital records for proof of this though. According to the marriage allegation for Gaspard Weiss and herself, she was born around 1755.

In the last week or so, Findmypast has released 3 million new Westminster records onto their website. I'd previously found lots of records for Baumgartens and Joynes and other related families in Westminster so I did some searching and hit pay-dirt! A "Mary Baumgarten" was baptised at St Margaret Westminster on 15 August 1755. She was recorded as the daughter of "Saml. Christian Frederick by Mary", born 21 July 1755. Mary's sister Charlotte was baptised in the same parish in 1757.

So the question is: was she born in Nassau-Usingen or England? I don't think there's likely to be a way to ever know that for sure, as I've never found any shipping records from that time, which could tell us that a (newborn?) Mary Baumgarten travelled with her parents across the English Channel to England... It does seem possible that there might have been enough time for them to get from Nassau-Usingen on 21 July to London on 15 August though. We'll probably never know...

12 March 2013

A trip to Waverley Cemetery

I recently managed to get to Waverley Cemetery to see some graves there. Waverley is a cemetery with a lovely setting - it is situated on the cliffs at Bronte, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean, so the "guests" there have a great view, if only they weren't so dead that they couldn't enjoy the scenery. There were two lots of graves I wanted to check out - the Rich graves and the Horsey graves.

I started off with the Rich graves. I asked at the office as I had no idea where they were. For a $15 fee (which I think is steep, considering some cemeteries don't charge at all for information, but I guess they have to pay for up-keep somehow) they gave me a whole lot of details about where the graves were, and also offered the family with the chance to take over the lease of the graves as there was still room available. For only about $1700 for a 25 year lease. Otherwise, they may be recycled at some stage in the future - which makes me glad that I photographed them while I had the chance!

The first photo shows the double grave for the assorted members of the Rich family buried there (Church of England, Section 15 Ordinary, graves 6206 and 6207), along with my little helper. The inscription that my little helper was sitting on said "Erected by Avice", Avice being one of William and Laurina's daughters.

The inscription on the headstone says:
"In Loving Memory of
Our dear parents William Rich, late Crimean War, died 25th April 1927, aged 95 years, and Laurina Rich, died 21st Jan 1929, aged 79 years.
Our dear sister Lily Rich, died 16th April 19112, aged 35 years.
Also our dear brother William Milton Rich, late 1st A.I.F., died 11th Aug 1950, aged 69 years."

On the lower section it says:
"Also Laurina Garrett, daughter of the above [William and Laurina], died 11th Nov 1962, aged 69 years."

Also buried in the grave is Laurina Garrett's husband Maurice, although there is no inscription bearing his name (though there is space for it next to his wife's details - clearly no one ever got around to it). He was buried there 23rd Aug 1956.

This photo is of the grave of Sarah Horsey, and members of her extended family - James and Selina Baker, Charles, Selina Grace and Harriett Eliza Baker, and Frederick and Maria Ruth Horsey. The details of these graves are Church of England, Section 2 Ordinary, Row 10, graves 235-238.
Selina Horsey was Sarah and Josiah Horsey's daughter. She was married to James Baker. James' brother Charles was married to Selina's sister (and Sarah and Josiah's daughter) Sarah Ann, and Selina Grace was their daughter, with Harriett Eliza being Charles' daughter from a previous marriage (his first wife died). Sarah Ann, Charles' wife is not buried in this grave as she remarried after the death of Charles, and so is presumably buried with her second husband elsewhere. Frederick Horsey is a son of Sarah and Josiah Horsey, and was married to Maria Ruth.

The inscription on this headstone is:
"In Loving Memory of Sarah Horsey, native of Somersetshire England, who died June 21 1880, aged 64 years.
In such mournful visitation
On this sweet assurance rest
Whatsoever the dispensation
God's decree is always best"

There is definitely space at the bottom of this headstone for details of further burials, but apparently there were none. Josiah, Sarah's husband, was buried in the Devonshire Street Cemetery, which closed in 1867, thus explaining why Sarah wasn't buried there with him. The Devonshire Street Cemetery was  resumed in 1901 to make way for the building of Central Station, but I've never been able to work out where Josiah's remains were moved to. Perhaps he was moved to Waverley and buried with Sarah, but the information never recorded on the headstone. If I was over that way again (it's a bit of drive from my place) with another spare $15 I could get them to look up the burial information for those graves, but as I had what seemed like most of the information at the time I didn't do it on this particular visit.

10 March 2013

Who was the rich uncle?

Reading through the autobiography of Gaspard Weiss today I rediscovered something intriguing that I had read once before.

"Les enfants Baumgarten avaient hérite d'un oncle chacun environ £1500, soit 36000 francs. Cette ennuyeuse affaire, si importante pour les hommes de droit qui me réclamèrent 51 Guinées, retarda notre mariage jusqu'au mois d'août; de plus, par contrat, nous nous engagions, au cas où je retournerais dans mon pays, de placer ce capital en Angleterre au nom de mes enfants. M. Baumgarten vit au bout de quelque temps que cette clause était injuste et il fit tout ce qu'il put pour la faire modifier, afin que cet argent nous fût rendu." Weiss (2012).

Roughly translated, it says that each of the children of Samuel and Mary Baumgarten (née Joynes) inherited £1500 after one of their uncles died, and it was right before Gaspard Weiss and Marie Baumgarten were married in 1775. I'm pretty sure £1500 was a large amount then (the National Archives UK's currency calculator puts it at a value of £95500 in 2005's money), and considering at least four of them made it to adulthood (out of eleven children in total) that's a substantial amount of money to be passing on at the uncle's death.

On the paternal side I only know the date of death of one of Samuel Baumgarten's brothers - John Henry, who died in 1770. Having read his will, he left all his money to his siblings and not to nieces and nephews. I don't know of the wealth of any of Samuel's other brothers nor when they died. I do, however, suspect that the uncle in question lived in England, of which none of Samuel's other brothers did.

Of Mary Joynes' brothers, Bartholomew, Samuel, Thomas and Henry, I assume Bartholomew and Henry died young (likely in childhood) as they weren't mentioned in their father Henry Joynes' will - written in 1754, Thomas died at age 28 (1750), when he probably wouldn't have had time to amass a large fortune, but Samuel was a prominent lawyer who worked in the Middle Temple and had a number of high profile and/or high society clients. He certainly could have left a fortune of the magnitude left to the Baumgarten children. According to his will, Samuel Joynes, after divvying up most of his belongings amongst friends and family, left the remainder in equal shares to his sister's children - Mary and Samuel Baumgarten's children.

Samuel Joynes died on June 10, 1770, which fits with the uncle in question dying before 1775 when Marie Baumgarten and Gaspard Weiss married. So I don't know for certain, but I believe it was Samuel Joynes who left £1500 to Marie Baumgarten.

10 February 2013

Why the Beringers switched from Catholic to Protestant

Yesterday I had a lovely morning meeting five of my Beringer cousins. I worked out our relationship - I am second cousin once removed to them (and them to me), they are all siblings. They are descended from Charles Joseph Wilfred Beringer (their grandfather) and I am descended from Charles' brother Adolf, known as Jim (my great grandfather). We had a great time, sharing photos and stories.

I realised quite some time ago that, way back, my Beringer ancestors were Catholic - back in Germany. I was surprised at this because in my family we are all Protestant and I had assumed that they always had been. However, when I delved into it I found that Adam and Caroline Beringer, my great great grandparents, the ones who emigrated to Australia, were definitely Catholic. But I also knew that pretty much all the next generation had switched to Protestantism. Why?

I knew that their mother Caroline had committed suicide, and that therefore she had not been able to be buried in a Catholic cemetery, and instead was buried in the Presbyterian section at Rookwood Cemetery. Knowing that your beloved mother was not allowed to be buried in her own denomination's cemetery might well have been a reason to reject the denomination you were brought up in, except that I was pretty sure that the children never knew that their mother had committed suicide. So what brought about the change was a mystery to me. I also knew that their father, Adam, had not converted to Protestantism, as he was buried in the Catholic Cemetery at Rookwood, with his second wife, Elizabeth. I believe they also married in a Catholic church. So it was definitely something that caused the children, but not their father, to switch.

And so, yesterday while talking with my cousins, I found out the reason. It all had to do with Adam Beringer's second wife Elizabeth.

My Beringer cousins were talking with great affection about their Auntie Mary, who was the youngest of the Beringer children - she was only one year old when her mother committed suicide. My cousins were brought up Catholic, as their mother Dorothea had married a Catholic. Auntie Mary went along with them to some family event at their church and one of them offered to sit with her and help her through the service. Auntie Mary cheerfully said that she had been brought up a Catholic, so she was very familiar with everything happening. Auntie Mary later explained to them that her family's governess, Miss Elizabeth Gates, who was their father's second wife, was Catholic. She has always been portrayed to me as the archetypal wicked stepmother, which according to Auntie Mary's stories, was completely true. The way she treated all the children was so bad that they all decided that if she was a Catholic and treated them like that, they wanted nothing to do with Catholicism. Apparently her throwing them all out when they turned 14 (after they had finished school) was a mutual thing - the children (independently of her) decided to get out as soon as they had finished school, to get away from her.

It would appear to me that the children's relationship with their stepmother affected their relationship with their father very negatively. I believe that they rarely saw him, but at least some of them had some contact with him. When WW1 broke out Charles Beringer made a statement, now held in the National Archives of Australia under the ASIO files "Depositions of Enemy Subjects in the Public Service", as he was employed by the public service, but had a German surname - apparently it was to prove he wasn't a German sympathiser. In this statement he said "I do not know whether my father is living or dead. I saw him once in Parramatta Park about 8 years ago. He did not know who I was. He was an engineer. The last I heard he was at Merrylands ... just out of Parramatta" (NAA, A387, 43). This statement certainly suggests he was estranged from his father. When George Beringer returned for a 10 day holiday to Australia in 1927 he only visited his father the night before he left, though he spent quite a bit of time with his siblings throughout the visit. Plus there are some photos which exist of an elderly Adam with some of his children and grandchildren, definitely taken after the marriage to the wicked stepmother, though she is conspicuously absent. All this suggests to me that Adam's children had occasional contact with their father after they each left home, but probably as little contact with their stepmother as possible. I wonder if Adam ever realised how much damage his second wife did to his family, or whether he was blinded by love?

23 January 2013

The final resting place of Carolina Friederichs

I've been trying to work out what happened to Carolina Helena Maria Friederichs née von Holst for some time now.

Recently I've been working on the Tourrier branch of the family - Carolina's sister Constantia married a Tourrier, and I'd found that her husband Jean Furcy Tourrier may have been buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

I sent off a query and hit the jackpot:

Jean Furcy Tourrier was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in 1867 in grave 20207, square 105, row 10. Also buried in that grave were Constance Tourrier in 1877, Albert Charles Millet in 1878, Alfred Holst Tourrier in 1892, and Caroline Fredericks in 1884.

Constance Tourrier was Jean Furcy Tourrier's wife - baptised as Constantia - with Constance obviously an anglicised version of the name.

Albert Charles Millet was the husband of Ida Sarah Tourrier, one of Jean Furcy and Constantia Tourrier's daughters. I don't know where Ida was buried - she died in 1919, after three of her four children, so perhaps she was buried with at least one of them.

Alfred Holst Tourrier was one of Jean Furcy and Constantia Tourrier's sons. He never married.

Caroline Fredericks was Carolina Helena Maria Friederichs née von Holst. Realising that she might have lived under an anglicised version of her name I searched through the English censuses to see if I could find her. The last time she was listed under the spelling of Friederichs was in the 1851 census. But there she was in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, as Caroline Fredericks. She was noted as widowed, and lived with a servant, or boarded with another family. So she was buried with her sister and some of her sister's family. It suggests to me that her husband, Joachim Friederichs, died overseas, and then she returned to England to live out the rest of her life. I'm glad I finally tracked down where she ended up, and her final resting place.

19 January 2013

The Merrick family of Sligo

I've been contacted by a Merrick relative - my third cousin once removed - so I've been delving into the Merricks back in Ireland again.

William Merrick was my great great great grandfather. William was married to Jane, and they had at least seven children: James (1845-1911, my great great grandfather), Samuel (1849-1913), Anne Jane (1862-?), John Thomas (1864-1959), Mary Ellen (1867-?), William (dates unknown, but apparently died as a child), and Esther (dates unknown). Considering the early children were born around the time of the Irish potato famine, I can't imagine life would have been easy for the Merricks in those early years of their family.

I don't know when William Merrick was born or died, or even who his parents were, but he certainly lived in Sligo, County Sligo, Ireland during his life. The first address I have the Merricks living at was in 1845, recorded on son James' baptism record, in Ramseys Row, with William noted as a shoemaker. On the baptism of son Samuel, in 1849, and in 1862, at the baptism of daughter Anne Jane, the family was in Williams St, and William was again noted as a shoemaker. In 1858 William Merrick was noted in the Griffiths Land Valuations as occupying a house, office and garden of 17 perches on the south side of Georges St, Town of Sligo. There is also another record, the same year, for a William Merrick occupying land (no buildings) of just over one acre in Derrydarragh or Oakfield, Parish of St Johns, but I'm not sure that this is him. Again in 1867 the family was living in Georges St, at the time of daughter Mary Ellen's baptism. In 1870 William was listed in the Slaters Directory as a shoemaker, and also as the keeper of the Fire Engine Station, in John St, Sligo. William was also the village sexton at the time they lived in John St, apparently in the Sexton's House. I have found reference to the fire engine being kept on the premises next door to the sexton's house in John St, as the vestry was responsible for the repair and upkeep of the engine, being a public service. This certainly fits with William being both the keeper of the engine and the village sexton.

James and Samuel followed their father into shoemaking and emigrated to Australia. John Thomas was a carpenter and also emigrated to Australia. Both Anne Jane and Mary Ellen married. Esther also married but has also gone down in a corner of literary history. Apparently the Merricks were neighbours of the Yeats family. In his childhood the famous poet William Butler Yeats was taught spelling by Esther Merrick and she also took it upon herself to read poetry to him. Yeats' father later said it was Esther Merrick who made a poet out of young William, though he was kind enough not to credit her with his son's appalling spelling!

And that is about all that is known for certain of my Merrick family in Sligo. There were plenty of other Merricks in Sligo. My Merricks were Protestant though there were some in Sligo who were Catholic. Interestingly, a Samuel Merrick was the sexton in Colry (Calry) parish, Co. Sligo in 1860 - possibly a relation. I'm sure there were lots of Merrick relations in Co. Sligo, I just haven't been able to straighten out all the relationships!

04 January 2013

Jean Furcy Tourrier

Jean Furcy Tourrier was born in about 1799, apparently in Paris, France. He arrived in England some time before 1830, when he first advertised French classes:

METHODE-JACOTOT. - The great success that Mr. Jacotot's Method meets with on the Continent has induced Monsieur TOURRIER, Professor of French and Drawing, not only to give it a serious study, but to try it in one of his establishments, and from the rapid improvement, especially in the pronunciation, he no longer hesitates to adopt it, and intends forming CLASSES, either at home or abroad. He will form on the 15th of August an evening class in the city. Mr. Tourrier has in the press a Treatise, in which he will display verbatim la methode Jacotot. Apply at 41 Great Portland Street, Portland Place, on Mondays and Thursdays, till 12 o'clock; or at Mr. Price's 7 Cateaton Street. The Times, 2 Aug 1830, Issue 14294, p.2.
He married Constantia Eleonora von Holst at St Pancras Old, St Pancras, London, on 20 June 1833. Jean was about 34 years of age, Constantia 28 years old.

As well as teaching French, Jean Furcy Tourrier also wrote many books about learning French, the first one published in 1830, the last one in the 1860s, and many are held by the British Library. He was apparently known in France for teaching in London using the Jacotot method - a method of teaching languages devised by Joseph Jacotot. Jean Furcy Tourrier apparently built up quite a good career in London and taught at many different colleges (such as the Westminster School - apparently for 14 years, London Academy of Music, Cavendish College, Northumberland College for Ladies, and Notting Hill College for Ladies). He also taught day and evening classes in many locations across London (e.g. Islington, Highgate, Notting Hill, Kensington, Hammersmith, Richmond, plus his own residence) and offered private lessons, both in London and abroad.

Evidently a claim to fame, according to the introductory pages of a number of his publications, Jean Furcy Tourrier was French Master at Westminster School for 14 years, and reader to HRH Princess Sophia. I puzzled over this idea of being a "reader" to a princess for a day or two (what did it mean?) until I remembered something I had read about Princess Sophia - she was blind for over ten years before her death. Perhaps he was simply her reader - someone who read things to her because she herself could not. How he might have landed a job like that is an interesting question!

Jean Furcy Tourrier was also an artist and taught drawing. As far as I know, none of his works have survived. I have found that he exhibited a fair number of works in the exhibitions of the Royal Academy in 1838, 1839, 1843, 1845 and 1846. All the works were landscapes, most of them entered in the Drawing and Miniature category - I suspect they were all drawings. Two of his sons were also artists - Turban Holst Alfred Tourrier (known as Alfred Holst Tourrier, many of his works have survived) and Gustave Leon Furcy Tourrier (apparently not as well known or prolific as his brother). Both the sons painted in oils, though I'm sure their father would have given them a good foundation in drawing.

Jean Furcy Tourrier also seemed to be a bit of an inventor, and twice registered petitions for patents for wildly different ideas. The first, with his petition registered on 16 February 1859, was for the invention of "preventing oscillation of the last carriage of a railway train, and giving rigidity and steadiness throughout the train" (London Gazette, Issue 22236, p.1012). The second, the petition registered on 21 January 1862, was for the invention of "an improved method of, and apparatus for, warning adjoining houses by means of air chambers attached to grates in the party walls dividing houses" (London Gazette, Issue 22596 p.667). It makes me imagine him sitting at home, or on the train, thinking, dreaming up new ways to make things better.

Although Jean Furcy Tourrier was from France, it is possible he had a sister living in London at least for a time as well. Louise Aglaée Tourrier married Louis Charles Emiland Manneville at St Anne's Soho, Westminster on 16 December 1827. Louis was himself born in England, but possibly his parents were both French (Louis Athanase Manneville and Catherine Jauvet). Louise was born in France - I have seen a record of her arrival in England, returning after 5 years away, from Boulogne in France, and she is recorded as a native of France, her occupation "Lady". I have nothing concrete to prove this assumption that she is Jean Furcy Tourrier's sister, apart from the fact that the dates are similar, and a variation of her middle name was used for one of Jean and Constantia's daughters - Georgiana Eleonora Aglae Tourrier.

Jean Furcy Tourrier died on 26 January 1867, aged 68, and was buried in Kensal Green. He apparently worked right up until his death, as the Northumberland College for Ladies was still advertising him as their French teacher a week before his death.

01 January 2013

2012 - The year in review

I had thought that this past year hadn't been quite as successful as the previous one based on exciting finds, but in reviewing all my work for this post, I'm not so sure that's correct. True, there haven't been as many well-known/famous people popping up in the family tree, but I've still found out huge amounts, but with a lot more hard slog.

I thought for my review of this past year's research I would focus on the most useful resources I've used. Not the ones that anyone can plug a search into and find info - like Ancestry or Findmypast, but the ones where it takes much more patience, but in the end can be so much more rewarding because you discover a titbit of information which no one else has known about perhaps since the time the relevant person and their close relatives died.

I love research and have no problem trawling for hours through parish records or newspaper articles to find useful information. Often it involves the use of Google Translator to translate things from French or German, but that's just more of the fun! So here are the most useful resources that I've used this year for finding obscure bits of family history information:

FamilySearch microfilms
I am enormously grateful to Pauleen Cass for putting me onto this wonderful resource. Although on FamilySearch you are able to search for records online, the Church of the Latter Day Saints has microfilmed thousands, possibly millions, of parish records from across the world, which you can borrow for a limited time for a small fee, and access through your local Family History Centre. You can find the records available for borrowing through their catalogue search. Through this service I have searched through many for baptism, marriage and burial records for lots of Beringers this year, as well as some of the Baumgartens in Germany. There is no way I could have accessed all of those as easily if I were trawling through the same records in the local archives in Germany. Here, I can take down the information, go home and translate it, and then go back for more when I know who else to look for. As well as the vital records I also checked out a merchant navy record for someone who turned out to not be a relative. Looking through parish records takes a lot of patience, especially when they are written in other languages, but you can find out so much that you just can't get anywhere else.

Gallica is a search engine for French documents. Although you can choose to have the search page in English rather than French, the results are in whatever language the document was published in - most often French. From Gallica I have, over time, found an awful lot of information about the Weiss' and my research this year on William Baumgarten was definitely aided by Gallica. Usually when I use Gallica, I find any articles which appear to reference the person I am interested in (because I can't read French), then type the relevant paragraph(s) into Google Translator to work out if they actually are about the person I am researching. It's a slow painstaking process, but can be quite rewarding.

British Newspapers 1600-1900 (Gale)
These British newspapers are what I return to time and again when I am researching my English and Scottish relatives. As a resident of NSW I am eligible to be a member of the State Library of NSW, and in their e-resources I have access to this database (through a password), from the comfort of my own home. If your relative won any "biggest turnip" competitions at the local fair, got in trouble with the law, had possessions stolen, played in the local cricket team, advertised their business, etc, there's a chance they got their name in the paper. Once again it is a slow painstaking process checking through sometimes hundreds of articles to see if any of them actually refer to your own relative, but you can find some gems. I have found lots of references to my musical relatives importing instruments, advertising music lessons, their latest published music, or write ups of concerts they were in. If the felt they were important enough (or rather had the money to pay for it) they might also have placed birth, death or marriage notices. However I also have many other relatives who seemed to keep their heads down, out of mischief and never rated a mention. It can be a real mixed bag.

UK National Archives Documents Online
The UK National Archives can be a goldmine of information - well what would you expect?! Through their catalogue you can search all collections or just online collections. With the online collections, for a small fee you can download the document straight away. It is very useful for wills and military records. The family line that I myself have traced back the furthest - the Peisleys in the 1600s (through the Weiss', Baumgartens and Joynes) - it was mainly because of information in wills that led me back so far, as the parish records that far back don't contain much useful family history information. Be prepared to decipher difficult handwriting.

So there's my top options for finding obscure information about your ancestors. Happy 2013!