Saturday, 24 June 2017

S S Somersetshire

Looking for a few clues about the SS Somersetshire, the screw steamship that brought George Hutton to Australia in 1869 I decided to have a look in Google and found a 'goldmine'.

Christchurch City Libraries in New Zealand have digitised the log book kept by one of the passengers - W C Walker. There is only a brief reference to George - Mr Hutton an inoffensive young fellow - but there is a wealth of information in Walkers's description of the voyage.

Log on board the S S Somersetshire from Plymouth to Melbourne

The second reference was a link to The Somersetshire News: a ship newspaper issued on board the S S Somersertshire on her voyage from Plymouth to Melbourne.

One of the passengers on board the ship was Dugald McDougall (of Sands and McDougall) who collected the weekly copies of the weekly newsletter read to passengers and had them printed in one publication when they arrived in Melbourne. Copies were then made available for any passengers who wanted a momento of the journey. The State Library of Victoria has a copy which has been digitised and made available online.

Somersetshire News: a ship newspaper

I did find a web page specifically on the Somersetshire. Not only does it have a picture of the ship but it also includes information about when the ship was built, details of the ship plus a timeline of voyages including significant incidents that took place on voyages.


A search in Trove provides an article published in the Australasian on the arrival of the Somersetshire in Melbourne.
The magnificent screw steam clipper Somersetshire, of Messrs Money Wigram and Sons'  fleet, entered Port Phillip Heads early on Monday morning from London and arrived in the bay in the course of the forenoon. The present voyage of this fine ship is the most rapid and successful which she has ever yet accomplished, and it is highly gratifying that the prestige which she has acquired on her last run home from this port has been amply sustained by her present achievement. Notwithstanding the difficulties she had to contend with at the outset of her career, there were not wanting those who had faith in the good ship, and who fearlessly asserted that she would yet distinguish herself, and make for herself a name second to no vessel of her class trading to these colonies, and their confidence would appear to be by no means misplaced. But for the Royal Mail steamer putting in the appearance she did on Sunday, the Somersetshire, it may be stated, would have placed us in possession of at least a fortnight's later English papers. On her present trip she has brought out about fifty saloon passengers and 140 in the second and third cabins, and the opinion expressed by them relative to the ship and her commander, Captain Atwood, and his officers, was almost enthusiastically favourable. Previous to leaving the vessel, a very flattering address was presented by them to Captain Atwood. The Somersetshire left Plymouth at midnight of July 1, and had S. E. winds for two days after sailing. With but slight exception, variable westerly winds prevailed to the equator, which was crossed only July 19, and some steady running was made to the Cape of Good Hope, the meridian of which was passed on 4th August. From the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Otway, which was made on the 29th ult., the ship bowled along beautifully, and the distance from the Leuwin was accomplished in four days, the greatest day's work, as shown by the log, being 322 knots. Alter the bustle incidental to arrival is got over, the Somersetshire will be thrown open for public Inspection, and there is little doubt but that opportunity will be taken, as heretofore, by hundreds to inspect this splendid ship.
Australasian Saturday 4 September 1869 page 15
I also found another article about Herr Bandmann, an actor, who was a passenger on the Somersetshire plus an article mentioning some of the other passengers.
Monday, August 30.
Herr Bandmann the great German actor, came out by the Somersetshire to-day. He was not received as great stars should be. The sudden arrival of the mail kept people so much occupied during the forenoon, that the Somersetshire was at the Heads and well up in the Bay before anybody was aware of it. Those who had seen his portraits, however, could not mistake him as he landed on the pier, and if I am any judge of faces and physique, I should say Mr Harwood has not made a bad selection.

Amongst the arrivals to-day, in the bay, was the steamship Somersetshire. This fine ship proves herself a formidable competitor to the Great Britain, in the swiftness of her passages, as on this trip from England she has come out in 58 days which is the quickest passage she has yet accomplished. Among her passengers are Mr Smythe of the Melbourne Press; Mr W.
C. Smith, of Ballarat: Colonel Thompson, of New Zealand: and Mrs G. C. Levey, wife of Mr G. C. Levey, formerly member for Normanby. Captain Atwood, under whose command she is this trip, deserves the greatest credit for the manner in which he has again brought this favourite ship into these waters.
Geelong Advertiser Tuesday 31 August 1869 page 3
With all this new information I have now changed the focus of my next assignment for Writing the Family Saga unit.
I now have to concentrate on doing some writing.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Women in business

In her book, Minding her own business, Catherine Bishop writes about women who ran their own businesses in Colonial Sydney. I wrote a brief review of this book in my Reading and other pursuits blog. So far in my family history research I have found a number of determined women in the family who certainly did more than just look after the home.
Mary Hyde (1779-1864)
Mary Hyde (1779-1864) managed her husband's many business concerns after his death. Mary arrived  in Sydney Cove as a convict in July 1798 and in 1814 married former convict Simeon Lord (1771-1840). When Simeon died in 1840 he left a number of successful businesses enterprises including a woollen mill at Botany and a number of properties.

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has a small collection of artefacts known as the 'Simeon Lord and Mary Hyde collection'. An article about Simeon and Mary can be found on the Powerhouse Museum website. Part of the article states:
Under the terms of the will Mary was made executor of the estate making her one of the wealthiest women in the colony. She continued to manage Lord's affairs after his death and employed many people in the Botany factory before it was closed by the flooding of her land as a part of the Sydney Water Board's development of the area. Mary took them to court to get compensation and four years later won the case and was eventually awarded over £15,000, a sum measured in the millions by today's standards.
Trove contains a number of articles describing Mary's attempts to ensure that she and her family received the maximum amount for the annexation of the land and water rights. According to articles in Trove, between 1855-1859 Mary Lord pursued the matter in the courts until successful.
Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser 7 May 1859

Catherine Ellen Mant (1827-1903)
Catherine Ellen Mant (1827-1903) arrived in South Australia with her husband, John William Hillcoat (1828-1907) in 1852. John had experimented with a number of projects but was unsuccessful. The family returned to England and then travelled to New South Wales in 1859. Until the family was financially sound again Catherine assisted the family finances by setting up a school for young ladies in Maitland. There are a number of advertisements in the Maitland newspapers about the school. While running the school, Catherine gave birth to three more children. In 1868 the family moved to the goldfields of Queensland and the school in Maitland closed.

Annie Wilson Hardwick Weston (1864-1924) was another determined woman. Annie married George Hutton (1850-1936) in 1889. They lived on a property near Parkes but when drought forced the family off the land Annie decided to take her two daughters to Sydney where she ran a boarding house for many years. George stayed in the Parkes area and worked as a rabbit inspector.

Annie ran the boarding house until 1916 when the house was sold to a neighbouring school. She then left for England with her eldest daughter to assist the 'home country' with the war effort. They returned to Australia in 1919.

These examples are only three of the many women in the nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia who were finding ways to support their families.

Mary Hyde was my great (x3) grandmother
Catherine Ellen Mant was my great (x2) grandmother
Annie Hardwick Weston was my great grandmother

Monday, 27 February 2017

Point of no return

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing Family History

Assessment Task 2: Write a short narrative focussing on one person, place time or event from your family history.
Word limit 1,000 words.

Point of no return

One silly mistake changed my life. It should have been easy. Just cut a hole in the window, retrieve as many items as possible, then take the goods to the Benjamin house.

When Mrs Benjamin suggested the idea to the three of us we jumped at the opportunity to earn a little money. Finding a job was not an easy task. For three years I worked for Henry Jacobs learning about glass, including how to cut glass with a diamond. But once I turned fifteen I was out on the street looking for work once more.  

The chosen time was six o’clock on Friday evening, 8 December 1798 to be exact. A date I will not forget. Being winter, it was totally dark as sunset was before four o’clock. Most people were indoors, especially in this Jewish community where the Sabbath was usually strictly observed. It was unlikely that we would be noticed. Cutting a hole in the window with a diamond rather than breaking the glass would also reduce the chance of anyone hearing us. 

What could go wrong?

I cut the glass and reached through the hole to collect items to pass to the other two lads who were my accomplices. It all went well until I misjudged the opening in the glass and cut my hand. There was blood everywhere. The other two disappeared into the night but I decided to finish the job. Taking as many items as I could carry I hurried to the Benjamin house as planned.

Mrs Benjamin ran a lodging house and I rushed upstairs to hide the items in the designated spot. I then set out to find Mrs Benjamin. When she saw my cut hand she cursed as she bandaged it quickly in an old, not too clean, shawl and told me to hurry to the hospital.

I managed to make my way to the river, crossed the bridge and finally arrived at Guy’s Hospital. My hand was cut in several places and there was a lot of blood on the shawl. I was in bed in a room with many other people when a constable arrived to arrest me. Mrs Benjamin had told him where I had gone.

Someone must have seen me leave Mr Holmes’ shop and followed me to the house where most of the stolen items were found. The constable asked me how I cut my hand and I told him that I had had a fall when crossing London Bridge. The teapot I was carrying broke when I fell and I cut my hand. He did not believe me.

When I arrived at the hospital I hid the one card of lace that I kept under the mattress. I did not see it again.

Newgate Prison was a dismal place. Although the prison building had recently been rebuilt, for those of us incarcerated within these walls it was dreary, crowded and dirty. And then there was the noise and the smell… So many people crowded together in unsanitary conditions. I was used to crowds in the streets and laneways in Whitechapel. I was used to living in crowded lodgings. But in here there was no escape from people. Occasionally we were allowed out in the prison courtyard for a short time and no matter what the weather it was good to have some fresh air. Food in the prison was also an issue. Prisoners with money were given better treatment and food while the rest of us had to exist on the slops provided.

It took a while for my family to find out what had happened and where I was.  My father visited me but I did not know what to say. We did not know what would happen to me but the future did not look good.

I had been in prison for a month when one morning a group of us was called to go to court. We were taken down a narrow passage connecting the prison to a dingy, crowded room beneath the court where we waited to be summoned.

The courtroom was a different world compared to the prison. The room was huge and from the high ceiling hung four chandeliers. I had never seen anything like it. I was told to stand where everyone could see me. Mrs Benjamin was there too.  A mirror was angled to reflect daylight on my face. During the trial there were lots of people talking about what had happened at Mr Holmes’ shop, at the Benjamin house and at the hospital.  They asked a lot of questions. When I was asked about events I said, 'I know nothing at all of it'.

Kitty Jacobs and three other witnesses were called to testify about my character. I don’t think that they knew that Kitty is my sister. Kitty said that I was honest when I worked with her husband. 

Then the verdict was given - Guilty with Death as the penalty. I stood there shaking and was hustled back to prison.

We had all seen prisoners leave down a narrow passage leading to the gallows outside the prison, never to return. We also knew that watching a hanging was considered a public entertainment. So this was to be my fate. I as only eighteen and would lose my life because I stole a few cards of lace and some cloth.

Then my luck changed. I was to be transported to another country for the rest of my life. I knew I would never see my family again but I was to be given a second chance.

Another year and the prison gates are closed behind us. Chains on, we are loaded into a cart. Our destination is a hulk in Portsmouth. Eventually a ship will take us to the other side of the world with no hope of returning to England, home.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Rosemount 2017

Why have a family history blog? 
It is amazing the contacts that can be made and additional information gained when people locate your blog posts in a Google search. 
Original Rosemount homestead
Yesterday I received a message from a Queensland real estate agent who is selling a property owned by my family in the 1950s and early 1960s. She had discovered my blog posts about Rosemount (from 2013) when searching online for information about the property and thought that I might be interested in seeing pictures of the property today. 
Out-buildings near the Homestead
Obviously there have been many changes to the property in the past 60 years. Some of the land has been sold, the old barn has gone to be replaced by a more modern building, the water tanks are much more substantial and do not look as if they will blow off the stand during a cyclone. However the original homestead, with alterations, still stands with newer accommodation built nearby.
Mount Archer
There are many images provided in the information about the property including some providing a 360 degree view. 
Neurum Creek - where we used to swim
There is also a map of the land of the current property.
Looking at the images brought back many happy memories of a child spending family holidays on my grandparents' farm.
If Annette from Cloud Real Estate had not found the blog posts and contacted me I would possibly not have had the opportunity to see what the property looks like today. Needless to say I have shared the link with other family members who may remember time spent at Rosemount.
The link to the real estate blog -

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Looking after special items in collections

For Christmas my family provided the money for me to order, from Archival Survival, some polypropylene boxes, polyethelyne bags, acid free card, photo hinges, tissue and labels to begin storing some of the special items in my family history collection.

The first project was to safely house copies of the Argus newspaper from the early to middle 1950s, some copies of the Australian Women's Weekly published around the time of the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956 plus a few copies of the new Smith's Weekly which made a short reappearance in the 1968. My father was a sports journalist on The Argus until its closure in January 1957 so the newspapers, especially the articles in the years leading up to the staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne, are an important part of his story.
I already had a few large polypropylene map bags that I had acquired for another project - not enough for individual newspapers - but I was able to store similar newspapers in bags. The newspapers in the bags are now stored in a large A2 polypropylene newspaper box.
I purchased one A2 box for the newspapers but also purchased five A4 boxes for other collection items. A label holder is attached to the outside of the box indicating the main contents of the box. In time a contents list of items in the box will also be prepared.
The first project with the smaller boxes was to safely store items relating to my father and World War II. One of the objects was a wallet that I used for one of the projects in Image, Place, Object, one of the subjects in the University of Tasmania Family History course. A copy of the piece that I wrote about the wallet can be found in my Exploring Military History blog. This post describes some of the other items now stored in this box.

The wallet, dog tags and negative wallet were wrapped in acid free tissue paper. Ephemera such as tickets were housed separately in small polyethelyne bags from another project as were telegrams and correspondence. Fragile items were supported by acid free card.
My father helped write the book, White Over Green, the history of the 2/4th Battalion. A collection of photographs was sourced for this project and Dad kept a few of them which have now been attached to acid free card with acid free photo corners. When information about the image is known I have added this in pencil. The sheets of photos are stored in polyethelyne sleeves and then placed in the box.

Project 2 will be to store other material relating to my father including his involvement on the Publicity Committee for the Melbourne Olympic Games and the the 1956 Olympic Games in general. The other three boxes will be used for storing material relating to other major family history projects I have recently researched. I will then need to order additional boxes and supplies from Archival Survival - maybe the family can fund this project for my birthday.

NB: If you have problems assembling the polypropylene boxes leave them in the sun for a short time, which makes them more pliable, and then assemble them. Apparently a hairdryer on low can also help, though I have not tried this.

Social media for family history part 2

When I recently ran a social media for seniors session at the library we discussed a number of well known social media sites that people may be interested in. As the session progressed it was obvious that most of the social media sites have common features. Once you are aware of these it should be relatively easy to navigate a social media site. The examples below are from Facebook but the features can be located on most social media sites.
To use most of these features you will first need to sign up to the social media site.
Posts not only provide information but also provide readers the opportunity to comment often adding to discussion.
Readers can like a post
Comment on a post or
Share a post
 There is a box beneath the post where you can write a comment and / or add an image.
You will also find a box allowing you to write a new post and add a photo or video.
In Facebook, once you start writing a post additional features appear including the Post button to post the message.
There is also usually a search box so that you can search for pages or groups of interest.
Some pages or groups allow you to search for specific content. Some groups also allow you to search for topics of posts of group members.

Enjoy exploring some of the social media sites mentioned in the previous post and determine how they may assist with local and family history research.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Social media for family history

For work I am preparing a presentation introducing social media to seniors. Although the presentation will deal with social media in general, social media can be a useful aid for family history research. This blog post therefore provides a brief introduction to social media for family history research but the principles apply for using social media for any topic.

What is social media?
Social media can be defined as 'websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking [Oxford dictionaries]. Social media is about sharing and communicating. This includes communicating with friends, family, peers, or just people with the same interests with you. Social media is particularly useful for the sharing of information within an interest group.
 Examples of social media sites include Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, blogs, podcasts and communication sites such as Skype.

Social media for connecting with people and organisations.

Facebook is the largest and possibly best known social media site. It can be used to keep track of friends and family. It allows family and friends to keep up to date with activities and it allows communication between people of similar interests.

In August last year I gave a presentation on using Facebook for Family History Research. This link will take you to a brief summary of that talk plus a selected list of Facebook pages that may be helpful when researching family history.

Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and read short messages of not more than 140 characters. Twitter is a blend of instant messaging, blogging and texting but with brief content and a very broad audience. Many organisations, including libraries and archives, have Twitter accounts where they promote or comment on events, resources or news items. Twitter also allows users to follow people of interest using Twitter to communicate their views.

Twitter is also often used by participants and speakers at conferences to promote and comment on papers and events. Twitter users the # symbol (hashtag) at such events so that tweets concerning the conference or activity can be grouped and easily accessed. An example is the Roots Tech 2017 conference where  #rootstech is the official hashtag though #rootstech2017 is also used. @rootstechconf is the user name sign for the conference.

Sharing media

YouTube is a free video sharing website that makes it easy to view and upload videos online. You will find a wide range of vidoes on almost any topic on YouTube.

Anyone can search for topics on YouTube. For example searching for terms such as 'genealogy' or genealogy and family history research' produces a list of 'how to' videos that may be useful, particularly for those starting out in their search for their family history. Of course you can also search for specific subjects such as 'First Fleet Australia' or 'Convicts Australia' or names of people and places. Have fun and investigate.

Flickr is a photo sharing resource where you can view and share images. If you want to upload photos to Flickr you must open an account. Uploaded photos can be shared with the world or just to a selected group

If you upload an image additional information and comments can be added to the image.Selected images can be added to albums created by the owner of the images. Links to an album or an individual image can be sent in an email to those who may be interested.

Group boards can be set up on Flickr relating to a theme. You can search for and locate images on almost any topic on Flickr.

Pinterest describes itself as 'the world's catalogue of ideas'. Users of Pinterest create a 'board' and then 'pin' relevant items to the board. The boards on Pinterest are classified into broad subjects which can be a starting point for searching Pinterest. You can also search for specific subjects such as 'Trove Tuesday' or a place such as 'Bath Somerset' or a building 'Westminster Abbey London'.

PC Magazine article 'How to use Pinterest for beginners'

The word blog is a truncation of web log. A blog consists of a series of articles called posts.In some cases it may act as a person's journal or diary. It can be used to express a person's thoughts or passiona in general or may be confined to one topic. Blogs are often used for publishing information about your family history. The use of labels is a useful way for connecting posts on a simialr theme.

Blogs are regularly updated and posts are arranged with the most recent post first. A person who writes a blog is called a blogger. Blogs can be set up so that more than one person can add posts to a blog. Blog posts can be made anywhere provided that there is an Internet connection. People can comment on blog posts and if there is a contact box they can contact the blogger directly.

The two main blogging sites are Blogger and Word Press.

There are many blogs useful for researching genealogy and family history and a list of selected sites is provided elsewhere in this blog. Typing a name in inverted commas followed by the word, blog, in a Google search can help locate information about people and places in blogs.

A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device. Typically podcasts are available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. Podcasts can often be downloaded via a subscription service such as itunes. In some cases they can be downloaded directly from a website. Podcasts are normally free. Search Google for free podcasts on any topic. A search for 'genealogy podcasts free' provided this list on Google.

Social Media for Communicating
Communicating with other people is an important feature of the Internet.
Email is now accepted as the accepted method of communication.
Text or Instant Messaging is another communication method used by a growing number of people.
The Internet also allows people to use Voice Chat and Video Chat to communicate with family, friends and for business. Voice Chat and Video Chat are sometimes used for providing information to a group, perhaps a lecture on a genealogy topic.

There are a number of ways voice chat and video chat sessions can be conducted via the Internet. Skype (owned by Microsoft) and Face Time (Apple) are two programs used by individuals to contact people from home.

To use instant messaging, voice and video chat you will need an Internet connection and a broadband account with an Internet Service Provider. To use Skype you will also need to download Skype from the Skype website and set up an account with Skype. People you wish to communicate with also need to set up Skype accounts. If the computer does not have an inbuilt  microphone or webcam these will be needed for voice and video chats.

The Help feature on the Skype website provides information for using Skype on different devices. When you search Help it automatically knows the type of device you are using.

It is important to remember that while Skype to Skype calls are free, there are charges if a call is made to normal phone.

For family history research, Skype and similar programs can be useful if you want to interview a family member or discuss a project with family members.

Another program for voice and video chats and instant messaging is Google Hangouts.No additional computer software is required to use Google Hangouts.

Other Social Media Sites that are often mentioned

Instagram is an online mobile photo sharing site allowing users to share pictures and videos on the app as well as via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. 
Link to a useful article on How to Use Instagram.

Google+ is a social networking site similar to Facebook. However it allows you to set up Circles of friends rather than one large group. It also has a section for Collections.

LinkedIn is a social networking tool specifically for the business community. LinkedIn aims to help people build a professional identity online as well as discover professional opportunities.

Tumblr is a microblogging tool enabling you to publish short posts containing images, text, audio and video. Tumblr posts are much shorter than traditional blog posts.

Tech Savvy Seniors provides useful information on social media and how to use social networking tools.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Christmas in Windsor

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing family history

Week 6 e-tivity - Inscaping the past

Inscape is the reverse of landscape: the incidental details that make our picture of the past detailed and nuanced. Using inscape details you have sourced from a past newspaper or similar, write a descriptive narrative about your person or place from your family history.
Word limit 250 words.

Christmas in Windsor

If we travel back in time to Windsor, New South Wales, arriving just in time for Christmas in the 1890s, where do we go for provisions? 

According to advertisements in the local newspapers, the place to go is the Hawkesbury Store in George Street.

Need provisions for Christmas cooking? The Hawkesbury Store ‘always keeps the best quality of Christmas Fruits, and general stock of Groceries, at the very Lowest Cash Prices.’

If a Christmas cake is required purchase an Arnott’s cake for 2/- or order a Christmas cake from the store bakery for sixpence a lb. ‘The Leading and Largest Bakery Establishment in the District’ also makes only the best bread and pastries.

All groceries are sold but the speciality of the store is Tea. Customers have the opportunity to purchase blends of China, India or Ceylon tea having ‘an advantage of at least 3d per lb’.

And, of course, there is a wide range of fresh confectionery available, perfect for the Christmas season.

The Hawkesbury Store sells much more than food. Need ‘cups and saucers, a kettle, a boiler to cook the Xmas pudding in’? Then go to the Hawkesbury Store. 

Other items sold include ironmongery, wall-paper, paints and brush-ware, corn and chaff plus seeds of all kinds. In fact everything you might ever need.

As an added bonus for customers, each day carts from the Hawkesbury Store travel through the district delivering supplies and collecting orders from those unable to make the trip to town.

Why would you shop anywhere else?

Eight of my convicts and their subsequent families lived in the Windsor district and it is not unreasonable to assume that many, if not all of them, would have shopped at the Hawkesbury Store.

The Hawkesbury Store was founded by Uriah Moses (1780-1847) and the business remained in the family for many generations. In the 1890s the proprietor was William Moses, one of Uriah's sons.

Trove shows a number of advertisements in the 1890s for the Hawkesbury Store in The Windsor and Richmond Gazette.

A detailed article describing the store can be found in  The Hawkesbury Chronicle and Farmers Advocate 16 October 1886.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

From sinking ship to hope

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing family history

Week 5 e-tivity - A whole new world
Write a narrative based on a moment when one of your ancestors arrived in a new place. What has brought them to this whole new world? What are they hoping to achieve and how did they feel?
Word limit 250 words.

From sinking ship to hope

As the Dubuc, laden with whale oil, sailed down the Derwent River to return to England the ship began to leak. Returning to Hobart Town, the precious cargo was off-loaded until another ship could be found to take the whale oil to England.

Thomas William Birch, the ship’s surgeon, had visited ports in many countries but had never seen one quite like this. The small settlement of roughly built huts haphazardly occupied land around the cove. The dock area where a few vessels were moored was noisy, smelly and dirty but the same could be said for other ports.

Looking around him, the landscape was very different from the landscape of England. The trees, in particular, were the wrong green and the general vegetation was far from lush. Hobart Town, settled four years previously, was a convict settlement. However there were some free settlers and attempts were being made to grow crops on small parcels of land.

Thomas knew that this settlement was on a large island waiting to be explored. Already whaling, fishing and sealing ships docked at Hobart Town. The new colony relied on trade with Sydney and the outside world for its supplies.  Timber was required to make a proper town with laid out streets and shops.

There was so much potential.

It was time to settle down.

This was the place to make a new life and, in time, possibly a fortune. Thomas William Birch therefore decided to make a new life in Hobart Town.

Monday, 16 January 2017

No. 11 Ainslie Place

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing family history

Week four e-tivity - Googling places past
Using Google Maps and or Google Street View, and cross-referencing with our own research into local and family history, we were asked to write a description of a place where one of our ancestors lived or may have visited.

11 Ainslie Place

Arriving in Edinburgh on a cold, wet August day our first destination was Ainslie Place in New Town. This block of Georgian stone townhouses was built towards the end of the 1820s on part of the old Moray Estate. 

Before leaving Melbourne I found the location on Google Maps so we knew how to find the street. Google Earth had shown that the two semi-circles of townhouses were still there and that the communal park for residents in the middle still existed.

When standing near the park we ignored the few cars parked in the street and were transported to another time.

It was easy to imagine a horse and carriage pulling up in front of number 11. George, Jean and their children alight from the carriage and climb the short flight of steps to the front door of their home which is opened by a servant. The carriage then travels to the stables at the back of the property.

Tall windows frame either side of the front door. Similar sized sets of three windows are on the two other floors. Decorative black ironwork features on the first floor windows while iron fencing protects the stairs leading to rooms below the main living area. 

There have been changes over time. Another storey has been added to the building and some of the townhouses have been subdivided into flats. However, from the street, it is easy to imagine the Ainslie Place of the 1830s where my great, great grandmother was born. 

 Once again, 250 words was the limit for this writing exercise.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Trial of Uriah Moses (part 3)

 London hospitals in the eighteenth century

The website, London Lives 1690 - 1800, contains an article on hospitals in the eighteenth century.

There is also a detailed article on Guys Hospital in British History Online.

Guy's Hospital was founded by Thomas Guy who in 1721 purchased land for the building in St Thomas Street opposite St Thomas' Hospital. The hospital opened in 1726 with 100 beds and 51 staff. In 1735 one staff member received an annual salary of £20 for killing bed bugs. In 1738-9 an east wing was added to the building. Many alterations occurred over the years, some necessitated after bombing during World War II. In 1993 Guy's Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital amalgamated. (The London Encyclopaedia, 3rd ed. 2008 p366)
Engraving from British Library collection
Reading the description of eighteenth century London hospitals in the eighteenth century they generally sound like places to avoid.

Uriah's accident
On 8 December 1797 Uriah Moses, who was seventeen or eighteen, was involved in robbing the premises of a linen draper and mercer in Whitechapel. It was approximately 6 o'clock on a Friday evening in winter so not only would it be dark there would not be many people around in this predominantly Jewish area. The trial notes from the Old Bailey Proceedings suggest that Uriah may have been one of three boys taking part in the robbery.

The robbery did not go to plan. As a lad Uriah had worked for three years for Henry Jacobs, the owner of a glass business in Petticoat Lane, so he was able to cut glass using a diamond. To gain access to the merchandise in the shop Uriah cut an opening in the glass. Unfortunately when he reached through the glass to retrieve some of the merchandise he cut the back of his hand resulting in considerable loss of blood.

During the trial William Holmes, the owner of the shop stated that a piece of diamond was left by the window frame and 'some of the glass remained in the inside of the window, and some out'. Mr Homes said that he did not hear the window being broken.

Items stolen according to William Holmes included 'four or five cards of black lace, some is what is called British lace, two pieces of silk handkerchiefs, and two pieces of calimanco, one was brown, the other drab colour; the whole of them were worth, I suppose, seven or eight pounds'.

Uriah raced to the nearby lodging house of Ann Benjamin and her husband where he hid most of the items, except for one card of lace, under a mattress in an upstairs room. He then looked for Ann Benjamin. She was out of the house during the robbery but returned shortly after to discover Uriah and his badly cut hand. She wrapped a shawl around the hand and told him to go to Guy's Hospital which was not far away.

Uriah had been in bed in the hospital for only a short time when he was arrested. According to the man arresting Uriah, the back part of Uriah's was cut in several places and the shawl which he found in the bed was 'very, very bloody'. There were a great number of other people in the room when Uriah was arrested. I hope that he had received some treatment for the cut hand. After Uriah was taken from the hospital a nurse found a card of lace in his bed.

The rest of the items retrieved from Ann Benjamin's house had blood on them.

The Old Bailey

The Old Bailey Online proceedings of court cases from 1674 to 1913. This is a great resource for family history research. I have found it particularly useful as three of the convicts in my family were tried at this court before being transported to Australia.

A brief history of the Old Bailey courthouse can be found on the Old Bailey Online website.

The Central Criminal Court is also known as the Old Bailey or the Justice House as it has been located on a street named Old Bailey since 1673. The street follows the path of the fortified wall of the old city of London, This wall was known as a bailey.
Portico of the Old Bailey (2011)
The inscription above the pillars reads Defend the Children of the Poor. Punish the Wrongdoer.

The building has been remodelled and rebuilt many times but the basic design of the court rooms remain the same.

In 1666 the courthouse was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. When it was rebuilt in 1673 one side of the building was left without a wall in an attempt to prevent the prisoners infecting other people with gaol fever (typhus) in the court.

In 1773 the wall was enclosed  to limit the effects of weather and probably also to deter spectators.

In 1774 the building was rebuilt by George Dance, the same person who was responsible for the rebuilding of Newgate Prison. In this rebuild a wall was built around the prison to prevent communication between the prisoners and the public. The passage between the Old Bailey and Newgate was enclosed by brick walls. A detailed description of this court room is provided in the Old Bailey history page. Damage caused by the Gordon Riots in 1780 was soon repaired though much of the furniture was destroyed.
View inside the court room c1809 - London Lives 1690-1800
This was the court room in which Mary, Uriah and Richard would have been tried. The court room and its furnishings were lavish, a sharp contrast to the accommodation for the prisoners in the basement when waiting to be escorted to the court. When the prisoner was in the dock a mirror was positioned reflecting daylight on to the face of the accused. There was limited seating for spectators in the court for those prepared to pay to watch the proceedings. It must have been a daunting experience for the prisoners in the dock as to most of them this would have been an alien environment which was very different from the cells in which they had been kept before the trial and to which many would return.

A second court room was built in 1824 followed by two additional court rooms over the next twenty years.

In 1877 there was a fire in the building forcing the City of London to start making plans to replace the courthouse. The decision was made to demolish the courthouse and the prison in order to build a new courthouse on the site. The new courthouse was opened in 1907. This building was damaged during bombing raids in 1941 requiring rebuilding. An extension was added in 1972.

London Lives 1690-1800 also has a detailed article about the Old Bailey Proceedings
This website also has articles on the courts,
the criminal trial in the eighteenth century,
and punishment in Criminal Justice section of the website.

Old Bailey Online also has a section on Crime, Justice and Punishment with a variety of useful articles.

Trial of Uriah Moses (part 2)

 On the surface the record of the trial of Uriah Moses and Ann Benjamin is just an account of the many trials heard at the Old Baily at the end of the eighteenth century. However when you carefully read the trial notes and investigate, where possible, some of the people mentioned in the trial it is possible to gain a better understanding of Uriah and his life so far.

We knew that Uriah Moses was Jewish and a closer look at the Old Bailey Online trial notes indicate that the area around Whitechapel, where Uriah appears to be living, had a large Jewish population at the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Reading the trail notes shows a number of contradictions, however there may be some clues providing information about Uriah and his family.

Kitty Jacobs
In a previous post I wrote about the possible connection between Uriah and Kitty Jacobs, one of Uriah's character witnesses. A major reason for the assumption that this Kitty Moses might be Uriah's sister is that her husband, Henry Jacobs, had a glass shop and she stated that Uriah had worked with her husband for three years. Uriah would have been about twelve when he started working for Henry Jacobs. Kitty stated that Uriah worked worked with Henry for three years. Uriah's ability to cut glass windows was probably the reason he was involved in the robbery. Unfortunately for Uriah his skills let him down on this occasion.

There are many references online, including forums, to the Jacob family and the glass business. British Genealogy and Family History Forums has a section Jacob's family, china and glass merchants.

Kitty married Henry Jacobs in June 1793 at the Great Synagogue. The marriage record (GSM 011/7) in Synagogue Scribes shows Kitty's Hebrew name as Keila and that her father's Hebrew name was Moshe Cohen.  Moshe is another form of Moses.

Family Search wiki provides information on Hebrew names in England at this time. The Ashkenazim Jews initially used a patriarchal system of names where a child was the son or daughter of the first name of the father. In this case Moses.

The actual transcription for the marriage of Kitty and Henry Jacobs reads:
Source: S2996 Title: Marriage: Henry Jacobs & Kitty Moses, London 1793 Type: Marriage Record Publication: Transcript in Marriage Records of the Great Synagogue, London 1791-1885, Lewin, H and M, (privately published, 2004)
Husband: Jacobs, Henry. Hebrew Name: Hirsch b. David Litsim (or Letson)
Father's Hebrew Name: David Litsim (or Letson)
Wife: Moses, Kitty. Hebrew Name: Kelia b. Moshe Cohen (daughter of Moshe Cohen)
Father's Hebrew Name: Moshe Cohen
Date of Marriage: 19th June 1793 NB: Other transcripts give the date as 5th June 1793.
Ref 94666/77/G115 Repository: #R75 Data Changed: Date: 21 JUN 2011 Time: 11:12:05

At the turn of the eighteenth century the Jews in England were forced to accept a more uniform naming pattern. Consequently tribal names were often used. Cohen was a form of Kohanin, a priestly tribe. Another common Jewish name, Levi, was chosen for similar reasons. Suffice to say researching Jewish names at the end of the eighteenth century for family history research is next to impossible.

Suffice to say researching Jewish names at the end of the eighteenth century for family history research is next to impossible.

Uriah's parents
During the trial the constable who had arrested Uriah reported that on asking Uriah how he had cut his hand he answered that he had been at his father's in Petticoat Lane and had cut his hand when he tripped, carrying a teapot, on London Bridge. Needless to say this information was not accepted as the truth by the judge but the mention of his father in Petticoat Lane may be true.

There is also mention of Uriah's mother during the trial. A character witness, Elizabeth Hicks said that she did not know Uriah but she knew his mother as ' a very honest hard working woman'.

This suggests that Uriah's parents were living in London by the time of his arrest and that they probably lived in Petticoat Lane. Petticoat Lane has been Middlesex Street since 1830. Prior to the early 1600s it was called Hogs Lane. This blog post in Londonist provides some information on the history of the street.
1720 map showing Petticoat Lane at the top
Middlesex Street (on left) and Whitechapel High Street (Google Maps)
Earlier today I located the Hambro Synagogue Register in the Susser Archive.

The Hambro Synagogue was an independent synagogue founded as an offshoot of  the Great Synagogue in the early 1700s. The Synagogue building, opened in 1725 in Magpie Alley, was demolished in 1892-3 and then rebuilt in another location in Whitechapel in 1899. It closed in 1936 when it merged once more with the Great Synagogue.

The register includes the following entry:
274 The widow of Moses COHEN THIRD FEMALE STRANGER buried on Wednesday 19 Iyar '570 [= 23 May 1810] Petticoat Lane

Could this be Uriah's mother? The name of her husband and the street where they probably had lived are the same. If so, Uriah's father died prior to May 1810.

The 'third female stranger' refers to the class of the person in the record. At this time Anglo-Jewish cemeteries ordered their seating and congregations into classes. Third class referred to strangers or guests and were usually poorer people who would sit at the back of the synagogue and have no regular seat. Jewish burials were also arranged in classes. The woman in this record was therefore buried in the poorer section of the cemetery.

Ann Benjamin
Another mystery in the trial notes is Ann Benjamin who was accused of being the receiver of the stolen goods.

Ann lived with her husband in a house where they let out rooms. The trial notes suggest that the boarders were women though Uriah appears to have known his way around the house. There is no suggestion in the trial notes that he actually lived there. Hannah Smith. Mrs Benjamin's servant, saw Uriah enter the house and race upstairs. She later said that Uriah wanted to speak to Mr and Mrs Benjamin who were not home at the time. Mrs Benjamin then arrived back home.

It is probable that Ann Benjamin was the organiser of the robberies. Once again, from the trial notes, it is suggested that Uriah was not the only boy involved in the robbery. Three boys are mentioned but Uriah appears to have been the only one to go to the Benjamin house.

Ann, when questioned, knew where the stolen items were hidden though initially she said she was unable to accompany the peace officer upstairs as she was observing the sabbath. Ann also admitted to wrapping Uriah's cut hand in a shawl and sending him to the hospital. At the trial Ann Benjamin was found guilty of stealing goods but she was not guilty of breaking and entering. She was sentenced to fourteen years transportation to New South Wales but stayed in England.

During the trial Uriah's defence was 'I know nothing at all of it'. Although his three character witnesses were all positive it is not a surprise that he was found guilty of stealing the goods and breaking and entering the premises of Mr Holmes. As a large number of items were stolen the sentence was the death penalty.

Fortunately, possibly because of his young age, this was commuted to transportation to New South Wales for the rest of his life.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Ken Moses' wallet

University of Tasmania course - Image, Place, Object

As part of the Place, Image, Object unit we were asked to write about an object important to our family. The object that I chose was a leather wallet that was one of the possessions of my father during the Second World War. This is a link to the post about the wallet in my Exploring Military History blog.

Thursday, 5 January 2017


University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing Family History

Week 2 e-tivity - Painting a picture
In this exercise we were asked to write 'evocative description' and to particularly pay attention to different senses. I chose to write about a settlement near Todmorden on the Yorkshire / Lancashire border around 1780. E-tivities are restricted to no more than 250 words.


The occasional bleating of sheep resounds through the quiet English countryside.

On top of one of the many green hills surrounding the small village of Todmorden, four stone cottages house the families who own and look after the sheep grazing on this hill. The green of the lush grass is the predominant colour though grey stone fences, forming enclosures near the cottages and sheds, also weave a pattern on the hill slopes. From the top of the hill rivers can be seen flowing through the valleys below.

It is 1780 and nine year old Simeon lives with his parents and four brothers and two sisters in one of the cottages. The cottages don’t just provide shelter for the families living in them. They also provide a workspace for the spinning and weaving of yarn, a cottage industry essential to the livelihood of people in this region.

The sound of laughter can be heard as Simeon’s older sister, Mary, looks after the younger children who are playing with a lamb in a small field near the cottage.

Inside the cottage a number of women, assisted by some of the children, weave woollen or the new cotton cloth. Next day a packhorse will carry the finished cloth along the narrow path winding through the fields to the market town.

The smell of soup and freshly cooked bread comes from the cottage stove. Shortly Simeon’s father and older brother will join the family for dinner after spending the day tending the sheep.

Useful references:
Todmorden and Walsden website
 Also posts mentioning Todmorden on this blog
The Fielden Trail: a ramble through Todmorden's past by Jim Jarratt, 1988
Fieldens of Todmorden: a nineteenth century business dynasty by Brian R Law, 1995

Horse racing connections

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing Family History

Week 3 e-tivity - The past interrupted
In this exercise we were asked to write about one moment in the lives of our ancestors. I chose to write about the first race meeting held in New South Wales in 1810. A great (x3) grandfather and a great (x4) grandfather, who probably did not know each other, both had horses taking part in the the three day racing carnival. E-tivities are restricted to no more than 250 words.

Horse racing connections

As we know, family history research can produce unexpected connections. What are the odds of having a third great grandfather and a fourth great grandfather both entering horses in the first race meeting in New South Wales? 

The race meeting at the new racecourse at Hyde Park was a great success attracting large, enthusiastic crowds who gathered to watch three days of racing. Governor Macquarie’s belief that horse racing would provide a place for all colonists to meet may therefore have indirectly impacted upon my family.

Among this crowd was Simeon Lord, a subscriber to the racecourse, who not only attended the races but also entered his horse, Tipsey, in the Ladies’ Cup. No doubt Simeon would have enjoyed watching his horse win the first two mile heat and being placed in the other two, though this effort was not sufficient to win the Cup. 

At the races Simeon may have met another race goer, George Guest, a resident of Van Diemen’s Land who frequently made prolonged trips to New South Wales. George had entered a horse to run on day three of the race meeting and I am sure would have attended the races on other days.

Simeon and George had different business interests and I doubt that their paths would have crossed prior to the race meeting but they certainly could have met at the races. We do know, however, that twenty years later the two families were permanently connected when Simeon’s son married George’s grand-daughter in Hobart.

Posts on horse racing in this blog

NB Horse racing has continued to be an interest in many lines of the family story.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Newgate Prison

Three of my ancestors, Uriah Moses (1780-1847), Richard Holland (1783-1867) and Mary Bateman (1773-1829) spent time in Newgate Prison in London before being transported to Australia.

When we visited London in 2011 we explored the area where Newgate Prison once stood. The prison buildings were closed in 1902 and demolished to enable the rebuilding of the new Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey).
Part of Google map showing Newgate Street- Old Bailey
Corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey,  former site of  Newgate Prison
Newgate Prison is where the convicts waited to be tried at the Old Bailey and were then kept, often for months or in some cases years, before being taken to the ship that would carry them from England to Australia.

Mary was arrested on 19 April 1788 and tried at the Old Bailey 7 May 1788. She then returned to Newgate until 12 March 1789 when 108 female prisoners were transferred to the transport ship, Lady Juliana.

Uriah waited in Newgate from 8 December 1787 until his trial on 10 January 1788. He then returned to Newgate until 14 February 1799 when he was removed to a prison hulk, Lion, in Portsmouth.

Richard was arrested on 24 May 1806 and was tried at the Old Bailey on 2 July 1806. On 2 January 1807 he was transferred to the prison hulk, Captivity, at Portsmouth.

 Newgate Prison building was situated on corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey. The original prison was built in the Newgate, the fifth gate built into the wall around London. The prison was rebuilt and extended many times from the end of the twelfth century.
Old Newgate - Wikimedia Commons
In 1666 the prison was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. It was rebuilt and extended in 1672 but the conditions for the prisoners remained appalling. The water supply to the prison was poor, there was inadequate ventilation and there were frequent outbreaks of disease within the prison. New prisoners were put in chains where the weight of the chains depended on what the prisoner could pay the jail keeper. The conditions in which the prisoners lived depended on what they could pay for bedding and food.

Between 1770 and 1778 a new, larger prison designed by George Dance the Younger was built. However, during the Gordon Riots in June 1780, the rioters stoned and set fire to the new prison allowing prisoners to escape. The prison was rebuilt between 1780 and 1783.
Newgate Prison end of nineteenth century - Historic Prisons
The new prison was therefore only a few years old when Uriah was imprisoned there in December 1787 and Mary in April 1788.

During the later years of the 1770s there was a movement to improve conditions in prisons. John Howard (1726-1790) worked for prison reform. He visited prisons throughout England and was not impressed with the conditions. In 1774 he gave evidence to a select committee in the House of Commons before the Gaol Act was passed. The Act was to abolish the payment of fees by prisoners to jailers as well as improve sanitary conditions in jails.

Conditions within English prisons improved but were still not good. Although Newgate Prison was designed to look impressive on the outside conditions inside were basic as prisons were still designed primarily as a detriment to crime.  It was not long before Newgate Prison once again became overcrowded.

The new prison was divided into sections and had three exercise yards. Common prisoners were housed in a different area from those who could afford to pay for better food and conditions. Female convicts were housed in a separate area.
Plan of Newgate Prison - Wikimedia Commons
Within the prison was the chapel. There was also a passage that led to the courtroom where prisoners were tried at the Old Bailey. Another passage led to the place of execution. There was also a burial ground for executed prisoners. The prison structure was altered again in the 1850s.

Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) worked to improve conditions for female prisoners.

During the nineteenth century authors such as Charles Dickens wrote about conditions at Newgate as well as including descriptions of the prison in some of their books.

A quick search in Google provides a number of sites providing information about Newgate Prison. A sample appears below.

Wikipedia article on Newgate Prison

There is also a short article in Wikipedia on the Newgate.

Last Mile Tours - Newgate Prison

While many of the prisoners were in the prison awaiting trial, others were waiting to be executed. Many prisoners were hanged at Newgate.

Images of Newgate Prison in the 1890s.

Historic UK has an article on Newgate Prison including images of part of the remaining wall.

Knowledge of London includes a photo of the only part of a prison wall that remains. The wall can be viewed in Amen Court at the back of the current Old Bailey building. 

London Lives 1690-1800 has an article about prisons including Newgate Prison.

British History online includes pages from the book, Old and New London (volume 2 published in 1878) about Newgate Prison.

The State Library of Victoria also has a number of titles on Newgate Prison which I will check.
The English Bastille: a history of Newgate Gaol and prison conditions in Britain. 1188-1902 by Anthony Babington 1971.
The gaol: the story of Newgate - London's most notorious prison by Kelly Grovier 2008.
Newgate: London's prototype of hell by Stephen Halliday 2006.
The Old Bailey and Newgate by Charles Gordon 1902.

The London Journal: a review of Metropolitan Society Past & Present vol. 9 (1) 1983 has an article 'Reconstruction of London's Prisons 1770-1799 an aspect of growth of Georgian London.This is also available in the State Library of Victoria.