Ancestors Arrivals in Australia

Our ancestors arrived in ships during the 1800’s and early 1900’s. They came from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and the United States of America, hoping for a better life in the new colony of Australia.

During these past months of lockdown in Victoria Australia I have continued to research and compile the family history for myself and my husband.

As Caucasian Anglo’s we knew our ancestry originates in the United Kingdom. The first ship I was aware of was the Hampshire that brought my grandfather and family to Australia in 1887. Although he was just a toddler at that time, he remembered the name of the ship and told me many times when he was alive, and I was a girl.

He ignited my curiosity that has stayed aflame all of my life. So began my family history research journey.

As I delved further into each branch of the family tree, I discovered more ships that brought our ancestors to Australia. Here is a list of those ships and the ancestors that sailed on them:

  1. 1819 Prince Regent departed London 17/9/1819 Plymouth to Sydney. Richard Roberts was convicted at Old Bailey for stealing one coat to the value of 5 shillings belonging to William Payton. Sentenced to 7 years transportation. Occupation noted as ‘Whitesmith’.
  2. 1826 Sir Charles Forbes departed from Plymouth to Van Diemen’s Land. Hannah Holland was convicted in Stafford for larceny of cloth and 4 shawls. Transported for 7 years. She was a member of the “Pottery Gang of Thieves”. The ship departed on 31/8/1826. Hannah gave birth to a daughter Mary Ann Plant while on board the ship. On 6/1/1827 they were hospitalised in Hobart Town. The baby died on 17/1/1827.
  3. 1827 Asia I London to Van Diemen’s Land. John Wesley was convicted for burglary at Nottingham on 15/3/1827. He was sentenced to life and transportation as a 19-year-old.
  4. 1829 Lord Melville II departs London on 5/1/1829 and arrives in Port Jackson 6/5/1829 with 170 convicts Dublin Ireland. John Higgins from Dublin, Ireland, was convicted on 5/11/1827 at Lancaster Quarter Sessions for a sentence of 14 years.
  5. 1837 Adam Lodge departed from Londonderry Ireland to Sydney arrived on 13/7/1837. James Morrow was a 12-year-old boy from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and travelled with his parents Joseph Morrow and Phoebe (nee Jamieson), and one other sibling.
  6. 1838 Palmyra England to Sydney 26/9/1838. On board were John Parker 38 (carpenter) and wife, Hannah Parker 38, and children Tryphena 11, Jane 15, Miriam 9, Keziah 5, another 3, and Mahala 1. They were from Brede, Sussex, England.
  7. 1841 Helen departs Liverpool on 4/4/1841 and arrives in Port Jackson on 21/7/1841. On board were Jonathan Weir (34-year-old carpenter) and Ellen Weir (29) with 7-year-old daughter Eliza.
  8. 1842 Robert Benn departed Greenock Scotland 20/9/1841 and arrived in Melbourne on 26/1/1842. Nathaniel Simpson travelled with wife Dorothea and daughter Ann and son William. They were from Downpatrick, Ireland.
  9. 1842 Arab London 7/11/1841 to New Norfolk Tasmania 31/3/1842 George Burt was 17 years of age travelling with his father, mother, and five siblings. They were from Walton, Somerset, England. They then travelled aboard the Shamrock to Melbourne on19/4/1849.
  10. 1844 Elizabeth departs Liverpool on 3/10/1843 and arrives at Port Jackson on 20/1/1844. Aboard was Maria Morrow with her family, father George, mother Elizabeth, and siblings. They were from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
  11. 1848 Marchioness of Douglas departed from Greenock Scotland and arrived in Melbourne on 27/1/1848. James Fleming was 37 and arrived with his wife Margaret 34, and sons Peter 9, William 5, and James an infant. They were from Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
  12. 1848 Aurora Plymouth to Geelong 7/12/1848. On board was William Hartley a 22-year-old laborer emigrating from Devon, England.
  13. 1851 Stebonheath Plymouth to Geelong arriving 16/12/1851. Mary Kerr was a 16-year-old girl travelling with her sister Flora who was 14 years old. They were from Inverness, Scotland.
  14. 1852 approx. Unknown ship. Henry Bentley was about 22 years of age when he travelled to Australia. He came alone leaving behind his family in Kent, England. It is not known the ship he arrived on or the exact date.
  15. 1853 Bride Plymouth to Melbourne 17/5/1853. Catherine Fitzgerald was a 23-year-old domestic servant from Tipperary, Ireland, and one of the many single young Irish women who came to Australia to become a bride. She married Henry Bentley soon after arriving in Melbourne.
  16. 1853 Helen Lindsay Plymouth to Melbourne arriving 17/7/1853. Edwin Hammond arrived with wife Elizabeth (25), son Edwin (3) and daughter Sophia (1). They were from Chichester, Sussex, England.
  17. 1853 Wilhelmsburg Hamburg to Melbourne arriving 24/8/1853. Aboard was the 29-year-old single man John Backmann from Stralsund, Germany.
  18. 1854 Ameer London to Melbourne 2/2/1854. William Catchpole was aboard travelling as an 18-year-old single man leaving his hometown at Aldgate, London, England.
  19. 1855 Shand Plymouth to Portland, Victoria 20/1/1855. Thomas Smith (a tailor) arrived with wife Sarah and five children from Gloucester, England.
  20. 1855 Epsom Plymouth to Geelong arrived 27/4/1855. On board was Mary Ellen Mullins (20-year-old) and Judith Mullins (22-year-old). Mary was the daughter of Patrick Mullins and Mary Higgins, and she was born in 1835 in Galway, Ireland.
  21. 1856 Ocean Chief departed Liverpool on 8/10/1855 and arrived in Melbourne on 25/1/1856. On board was the 20-year-old Edward Harris from Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England.
  22. 1857 Admiral Boxer arrived in Geelong on 9/3/1857 having departed from Liverpool. On board was the 26-year-old housemaid from Gloucester, England, Harriet Bushell.
  23. 1857 Beejapore London to Sydney 19/3/1857. Alexander Black arrived alone as a 23-year-old man. He left behind his parents and siblings in Kinross, Scotland.
  24. 1858 Parsee arrives in Melbourne on 14/5/1858. Matilda Colee arrives with her younger children, to meet up with her husband Henry who had arrived six years earlier. They were from Shoreditch, Middlesex, England.
  25. 1861 Prince of Wales London to Melbourne, 23/8/1861. George Newman 27-year-old arrived with Henry 62 (trader), brother James 20, and sister Sarah 24. They were from London, England.
  26. 1864 Champion of the Seas departed England 4/8/1864 and arrived in Melbourne 15/11/1864. 45-year-old Daniel O’Connor was aboard with his wife Mary 38, and children, Mary 22, Cornelius 21, Michael 17, Ellen 16, Kate 14, Hannah 12, Bridget 10, Daniel 8, and Patrick 6. They were from Cork, Ireland.
  27. 1871 Star of the Mersey Calcutta to Melbourne 25/6/1871. Aboard was the 37-year-old Henry Colee, son of Matilda and Henry Colee who had arrived earlier. They were from Shoreditch, Middlesex, England.
  28. 1887 Hampshire Portsmouth to Fremantle. John McKinna and wife Jane McKinna travel with six children to Fremantle. Then in 1888 they travel aboard the South Australian from Fremantle to Melbourne 6/2/1888. They left behind extended family in Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, Scotland.
  29. 1908 Marama Vancouver to Honolulu then to Sydney. Arthur Gregory Duncalfe arrives with wife Beatrice. They left behind extended family in Spokane, Washington, United States of America.

These ships that brought our ancestors to Australia form just part of the story. From these arrivals I document the families as they settle here in Australia and become Australians. I feel humbled by these stories that show courage and tenacity. They left behind difficult circumstances, only to have to toil harder in a harsh developing colony.

Finally, after many years of gathering stories, photographs, and documents, I have finished compiling the Bentley-Smith family history. It is 280 pages in length listing as many facts that I could corroborate. I hope it is a lasting legacy for family members. But I will keep on looking for that ship that brought Henry Bentley to Australia.

Lockdown Life

Since we have returned to “normal” life, after our adventures, we have been in lockdown with the rest of Melbourne and Victoria. My husband misses his weekly golf games with his mates and looks forward to when he can do that again. I am quite happy and occupied at home. We are both fully vaccinated.

Images during lockdown life 2021

These are some of the things I have been doing:

  • Family History Research

After decades of saving bits of information, stories, and photographs, I am finally compiling it all and see an end in sight. A bonus has been the remote access to the Ancestry Database. This has allowed me to fill in lots of gaps and extend my tree.

So far, I have found 22 ships that our ancestors arrived on, mostly from England, Ireland, and Scotland, one American, and one German. Three convicts on my side and one convict on my husband’s side.

Some of the ships my ancestors arrived on emigrating to Australia

I have one mystery that I cannot solve, and he is a key ancestor. I have found him in England and found him in Australia, but I don’t know when he arrived exactly somewhere between 1851 and August 1853. Perhaps there is a major misspelling somewhere that has not translated well into the digital files.

The excellent course I completed online through Future Learn has added a richer dimension to my research. I know what I am doing. Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree, Future Learn UK.

  • Exercise
    • Walking within the five-kilometre restriction. This can include a solid upward walk with views of the bay. Logging these on Strava gives an added interest.
    • Cycling along the foreshore track now and then.
    • Unfortunately swimming at the local pool is not allowed at the moment. We look forward to when we can go back there regularly.
  • Creating
    • I finished an oil painting that I had on my easel for too long. Marg’s elephant at Salvia Court. And started a new painting.
    • Cooking lots of yummy food that we then have to share between the two of us. Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue Pie, Apricot Sour Cream Tart. Practicing for when our family can get together once again.
    • I practice playing my piano occasionally.
  • Media consumption
    • Reading The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. His interpretation of those early years offers only stories of flawed humans, on all sides of the equation, trying to survive on this Earth. There are no heroes in this tale.

Stories in Sepia

‘History’ at High School bored me. Learning about old kings on the other side of the world felt so removed from my young life that I quickly grew to loathe history classes. The teacher did not help to bring life or relevance to the content….yawn!

But as an adult my interest in history has developed from reading books like: Into the blue: boldly going where Captain Cook has gone before by Tony Horwitz (also known as Blue Latitudes); Beethoven’s hair; an extraordinary historical odyssey and a scientific mystery solved by Russell Martin; and other books where historical stories and facts are given further relevance and detail through a contemporary lens.

Delving into my own family history over many years has drawn me in and I am now intrigued by the many lives that were lived before – people who are now dead and buried. A grim description; but yesterday I discovered a podcast titled Dead and Buried that “showcases underground history and true crime from the streets of Melbourne.” It is part of the Melbourne Ear Buds Network.

“Dead & Buried is a podcast about Melbourne history for people who don’t yet realise they like Melbourne history.”

This podcast series is well presented and edited by Lee Hooper, Phoebe Wilkens, Carly Godden, and Robin Waters. The additional comments by others provide credibility, depth and interest to the stories. I am really enjoying listening to these vignettes of days gone by and hope they release series two soon.

My own family history has grown in recent months with the help of the My Heritage software and the Ancestry Library Edition database. The My Heritage app is easy to use and free to a point. Putting in your own family tree is very easy and then ‘matches’ are found to link with others who have provided research in linking trees. Some of this requires payment, but the wealth of information that can be seen is amazing and has enriched my own research and legacy scrapbook.

Photos in particular can be seen and while it is important to make sure the photo is correctly assigned to the right person, these images are real treasure. Unfortunately I did find two photos of my paternal grandparents incorrectly assigned to others in the previous generation who happened to have the same first names. I tried to contact the person who placed the images into Ancestry but it went to a broken link. Most probably the person does not use the account anymore. It is a shame to see this kind of error published as fact, especially when I know it is incorrect. Once checked and validated though these sepia images are gorgeous and give beautiful illustration to my family history.

Smith_wedding_corrected

From left: Standing; Euphemia, Margaret, Alexander, Jeanie, Helen, Catherine. Seated; Lily, Jeanie (Granny), Daisy (possibly taken at Penshurst Victoria)

Some years ago I had been shown an enlarged photo of a family wedding in Penshurst Victoria. It is a beautiful scene, with the stern matriarch sitting centre surrounded by family, with the women wearing gorgeous ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’ style dresses. I had always wanted a copy of this image but it eluded me, until recently. I found a labelled version amongst some old files of my parents. So I had it all this time without realising. The stern matriarch Jeanie Fleming Black sitting in the centre is my great great grandmother if my family research is correct. Jeanie is my great grandmother I believe. I will need to refer back to my tree to confirm the details and find a date.

Beyond the story

Janelle McCulloch wrote the book, Beyond the rock: the life of Joan Lindsay and the mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock. While it is a biography about the life of Joan Lindsay, it is also an inquiry into the writing of Joan’s mysterious novel Picnic at hanging rock.

Beyond_the_Rock

 

I invited Janelle to be a guest speaker at our library and she gave an energetic and riveting talk about this topic to an audience of spellbound people. From the moment she entered the room, Janelle was talking, and she didn’t pause for an hour and probably could have continued. People were slow to leave, wanting more.

As a perennial mystery embedded in Australian culture, the mystery behind the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock, tantalizes us with the need to be solved. In Joan’s original unpublished forward to the novel:

            “…the story is entirely true.”

Janelle teased us who were in the room with the possibility of another book that does indeed reveal the truth. Her journalistic nose having uncovered parts of the story that, according to people who lived and live around Hanging Rock, “everyone knew”. We all responded with enthusiastic urging that she must indeed write it. How often does that happen to authors who are not J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or George R. R. Martin?

The process of journalistic research is of great interest to me, as I love doing that myself. I know the addiction of a good detective hunt. Genealogists know this well. Janelle prompted us to get to work as:

            “Everyone has a story that needs to be told.

So feeling enthused and having procrastinated long enough about getting my own family story curated, I started. I had already created a storyboard of sorts using PowerPoint. So I purchased a large sketchbook and a scrapbooking kit. I set up a space where I have all the photos nearby in boxes and photo albums and on file.

It is apparent from the moment I begin where the gaps are, so many photos missing. Do they even exist? Does someone have the ones I need? I phoned my husbands aunt not remembering how old she must be. We had a nice conversation and she agreed to look to see what she had. Yesterday I received an envelope with some gorgeous old photos of my mother-in-law and her sister, and their mother, and my husband’s parents. And there was an image of my husband’s late eldest brother as a 3 year old. His family didn’t have photos of themselves or their children; unlike my own father who was a bit of a photography geek.

Isabel_and_Val

As thrilled, as I am to receive these photos, there are still gaps. I have not found a photo of my husband’s maternal grandfather – Arthur William Duncalfe. Using the library member’s subscription to Ancestry, I have found the certificates online that give the details of his birth and death, but no photos. I have even located a passport photo of his father Arthur Gregory Duncalfe as he emigrated from the USA to Australia.

So as I restock the glue sticks and refill the printer ink, the hunt continues.

My Family History

Surrounded by piles of photos, prints and digital, and indebted with family facts and stories, I struggle to shape it into a sensible narrative.

IMG_7865

Curating the family history is a challenging exercise and yet I am enthusiastic to weave it together for prosperity and for anyone who might someday wonder.

This is something that has interested me for many years and I have been on some previous fact finding missions that revealed things we didn’t know. I love to find out about our origins and the lives of our ancestors. I can name three ships that brought different branches of the family to Australia: The Hampshire, The Shand, and The Niagara. I love to see the photos of ancestors to spot the family resemblances that crop up unexpectedly.

Not a ‘scrap-booker’ by nature I think that ultimately a hand crafted personal creative book would be a beautiful result. In the meantime I have begun to do a simple storyboard using PowerPoint to set out my narrative. There are obvious important gaps that need to be filled somehow.

So I think about others in the family who have compiled remarkable genealogies that are relevant and interesting to my story. One of my father’s cousins has passed away now and I wonder where that wealth of knowledge is now. Another cousin of my husbands father must be very old now if not also passed away – where is her lovely story and impressive pedigree charts now? Another – my cousin is contactable, but that branch of the family story is well documented already, so not as pressing.

Some of the old photos are gorgeous but without captions the identities are a mystery. ‘A picture tells a thousand words’ but also presents many questions; such a who, where, when, why.

This historic photo for example is of the family of Smiths who lived in Portland Victoria Australia. One of the boys is my paternal grandfather.

Smith_family_in_Portland_1920

Family members who knew them previously identified the others in the photo. A scribble on the back of a print states that this photo was taken in 1920 in Portland, just prior to the family being ‘separated’. The father and mother of this family are not in the photograph because they had both passed away. I know the story and it is a tragic tale that I will include in my personal family history when the time comes.

Meanwhile my investigations continue and I try to wrangle this precious pile of pictures into something interesting and useful.

Happy snaps

I have just studied the subject Creating and Preserving Digital Content through Charles Sturt University for the successful completion of the Master of Information Studies. And it has got me thinking….

All of those family photos held in a variety of forms in a variety of containers need some sorting. There are old printed photographs in photo albums and in boxes. There are digital photographs that reside in cameras, phones, devices, SD cards, CD’s, and computers. There are digital copies of photos sitting in random digital file folders on computers. And we keep producing more each day adding to the digital heap.

So now I know how to go about organising all of this stuff, I need the time to actually sit down and apply myself to the mammoth task of sorting it out.

Once I comprehend the enormity of the task I begin to ask myself – why? For what purpose? Who cares? How many photographs of wind-swept beach scenes are too many?

Then there is the question of the integrity of the captured image: if a filter is applied to an image from a Smartphone app then this should be noted in the metadata or description. But that adds another level of tedium to the task, and yet if it is not done then what does that say about the authenticity of the resulting image. Is it then art or photography? Or both?

The notion of transience emerges too when considering the purpose of such an exercise. With ease and speed of connected social media channels through smart devices, a photo shared across networks among friends and family is enjoyed for the moment, in the context of that moment, and then swept into the ever-moving stream of data creation. Sure it is still ‘there’ somewhere in the digital ether, waiting to be retrieved for future embarrassment; like a baby photo shown by smirking parents at their child’s 21st birthday party. Other than for nostalgic amusement, is there value in spending so much time and effort in sorting out the family photos for ‘the future’?

I can hear the archivists and historians stirring on their leather chairs, leaning forward, fingers cracking, ready to post a heart-felt reply. I welcome it because I need a good reason to justify this effort.

The term ‘digital dark age’ was used in Creating and Preserving Digital Content to illustrate a possible scenario where data is lost through poor preservation techniques. I get it. I wrote an essay about it, elaborately describing the scenes from the original movie version of The Time Machine, where the vacuous stares of the future Eloi people are the result of lost knowledge from crumbling pages in books left to decay.

I appreciate the words of former Prime Minister Harold Holt at the Stone Ceremony March in 1966:

We cannot understand the present or plan for the future without the knowledge of the past.

danielle_susan_margaret_alice_1984And yet significant family portraits containing four females spanning four generations might be worthy of preservation for sharing amongst immediate and future family members, but how many “selfie’s” must we have to delete before we gain a representative portrait of one individual.

My thoughts are a jumble between process, content, and value. The process is complex and needs to be worked out to establish some kind of system that works and fulfills preservation standards. The content contains so many variables and raises questions about authenticity. The value is difficult to judge because it is not easy to project into the minds of some future person and decide if this image is worth the effort of the time invested in preserving it.

This article about one family’s preservation project describes some of these issues with a heart-warming narrative and a positive outcome, but concluding that it is “never done.”

My aim is to begin. I have the relevant information about how to approach the task. I have a large external hard-drive. I will gather the photos in all forms. I will start sorting, naming, describing, storing, backing-up, and hopefully one day in the future I will have some kind of result that’s purpose will be apparent.

In the words of Francis Kilvert, as quoted from this article: Digital Curation and the Citizen Archivist by Richard Cox:

Why do I keep this voluminous journal? I can hardly tell. Partly because life appears to me such a curious and wonderful thing that it almost seems a pity that even such a humble and uneventful life as mine should pass altogether away without some record such as this.

Cox, R. J. (2009). Digital Curation and the Citizen Archivist. Digital Curation: Practice, Promises & Prospects. pp. 102-109. http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/2692/