14 July 2014

The character of Auguste Naudin

I have written about Auguste Naudin (Augustus Theophile Naudin) before - he was the first husband of my 2x great grandmother Frances Turnbull. However I've been doing some more digging on him, and have uncovered a new source of information on him - the notes from a voyage of the Allier, a French steam ship taking troops from France to New Caledonia in 1878-9. After stopping in at Java along the way, people aboard the ship started coming down with some kind of illness (malaria/typhoid/smallpox) with 21 deaths occurring before they reached Cooktown, Queensland on 9 Feb 1879. The captain of the ship begged to be allowed to stop in at Cooktown, so they were allowed to stay on the north shore where there had previously been a quarantine station. The ship stayed there for several weeks until the quarantine was lifted and they were able to continue on to New Caledonia.

Notes on the voyage written by C. Milleret, entitled "Une Épidémie a Bord" were published in La Revue Hebdomadaire in June 1895.
"Vendredi 14 fevrier. En même temps que les provisions est arrivé à bord un particulier mal vêtu, autorisé, comme représentant de la municipalité cooktownaise, à s'installer chez nous en qualité de "surveillant". C'est un Français nommé Naudin. Ses fonctions sont d'une utilité contestable. Je ne nous vois pas essayant de forcer l'entrée de la rivière ou allant nous promener à terre incognito. Il y a un dessous, Naudin est un pauvre diable venu en Australie pour y chercher fortune. Après avoir tenté d'infructueuses expéditions en Nouvelle-Guinée, essayé plusieurs métiers confinant, je le crains, à la traite ou à la piraterie, il s'est échoué à Cooktown où il meurt de faim, peu s'en faut. Pour lui trouver une occupation, en même temps qu'un salaire lucratif et ne coûtant rien à la bourse des contribuables australiens, on n'a rien imaginé de mieux que cette place de surveillant dont les émoluments demeurent, comme de juste, à la charge des surveillés. Tout le temps de la quarantaine, Naudin sera nourri à la table du carré et recevra, au compte du gouvernement français, une demi-livre ou 12 fr. 50 par jour." pp.101-2.
Roughly translated (and no, I don't speak French, so its quite rough and possibly inaccurate - I welcome suggestions) this says that Naudin arrived, badly dressed, with provisions, as the authorised supervisor of the quarantine. They weren't at all sure that he'd be of much use to them - "of questionable usefulness". He was a Frenchman, who came to Australia to seek his fortune, and after trying some unsuccessful expeditions to New Guinea, where he tried several jobs, bordering - they feared - on trafficking and piracy, at which he failed, he returned to Cooktown, nearly dead from hunger. So that he wasn't employed at the expense of Australian taxpayers they gave him this job of supervisor of the quarantined, fed and paid for by the French government, at a half a pound or 12 francs 50 per day. Much of the narration doesn't mention Naudin, but the entry on Monday March 10th was a gem:
"Ce Naudin est un vrai type. Sur ses nouveaux appointements, il s'est fait envoyer toute une garde-robe. Ce n'est pas trop tôt. Il a usé toutes nos vieilles culottes. Si le quart de ce qu'il nous raconte est vrai, ses mémoires auraient du succès. Quelle mine pour Boussenard ou Jules Verne!" p.239.
The rough translation: "This Naudin's a real dude. On his new salary, he is getting an entire new wardrobe - not before time though - he's used all our old pants. If a quarter of what he says is true, his memoirs would be very successful. What a wealth of material for someone like Boussenard or Jules Verne!" And, at the end of the period of quarantine on March 18:
"La garde de police qui surveillait le camp est levée... Naudin aussi est licencié, "pour cause de suppression d'emploi". Sans rancune, nous lui offrons de conserver son couvert au carré jusqu'au départ définitif; avec empressement il accepte." p.240.
Translation: The police who guarded the camp have finished up. Naudin was also dismissed because of job cuts. There were no hard feelings, they offered to pay him until they departed, and he eagerly accepted.

Perhaps its a little harsh but Naudin comes across as a badly dressed fast-talker, full of stories, always out to make a buck. It's worth noting that he had previously been married, in NSW, to Charlotte McMunn, and left her with their three young children, to follow the gold rush to Queensland. He never returned, never divorced Charlotte, and then married his second wife Bridget Murry (also known as Frances) on 14 February 1877, with their first child born in December that year. Which means that it is quite likely Naudin was off galavanting around New Guinea looking to make his fortune while his poor wives were at home with their children, waiting for him. And again, while he was off supervising the quarantined Allier at the expense of the French government. Of course, it must be said that this was probably the norm for the time. I get the impression he was looking for adventure and didn't like being tied down to one place or family for too long. So that's a little bit more about Augustus Theophile Naudin and his character. 

10 July 2014

Finding Thomas J Thompson

Thomas J Thompson was married to Mary Ann Wilkey, the sister of my great grandfather, James Arthur Wilkey. Mary Ann was born in 1864 in Canterbury, married Thomas in Burrowa (Boorowa) in 1885, and died on 29 April 1937 in Bankstown. They had seven children (I think), and lived in Railway Parade, Thornleigh in 1906 when their eldest daughter Ada died, aged 20 (SMH, 23 July 1906).

Apart from knowing where he was married, and where they lived when Ada died, I could find nothing on Mary Ann Wilkey's husband Thomas J Thompson. Nothing on his birth, no date of death, nor where he was buried - he wasn't buried with Mary Ann, who was buried at Rookwood Cemetery with her parents, John and Mary Ann Wilkey. I suspected from family death/funeral notices, including his own wife's, that he had died before her, but had no actual proof.

I searched and searched. I didn't know what he did for work, so that didn't help. Days later, it suddenly occurred to me that I knew that Thomas and Mary Ann's daughter Ada was buried in Rookwood as well - perhaps if he wasn't buried with his wife then maybe he was buried with his daughter. BINGO!

Thomas John Thompson was buried in the Methodist section of Rookwood Cemetery, with his daughter Ada May. He was interred on 1 July 1911, and the record notes he was 49 years old. From his date of interment I could look more accurately for a death record, and from his age at death I knew he was born in about 1862. I was completely unprepared for what I found in Trove (Barrier Miner, 1 July 1911):

An utter tragedy, compounded by the fact that Mary Ann's own father, John Wilkey, had died earlier that year (15 Jan 1911), and one of her brothers, James Arthur Wilkey, had been killed in another freak accident four years earlier. I can imagine Mary Ann at home, getting dinner ready, waiting for Thomas to get home from work, the time getting later and later, until there was a knock at the door...

However, putting aside the awful story of Thomas' death, I also learnt that Thomas was born in Victoria and was a bricklayer. I don't know if he was a bricklayer all his life, or just did different labouring jobs over the years. I've had a brief look at the Victorian BDM, but there's a few candidates that could be Thomas' birth (though only as Thomas Thompson - there's no Thomas J or Thomas John Thompson in the right range of years). I'm too cheap to go looking through them all, and I'm not sure I'd be able to work out which one he was anyway.

So that's a little about Thomas John Thompson. Not much, but more than I knew before.