Author Archives: Merron Riddiford

Ellen’s Incarceration

A welcome addition to Trove newspapers has been the Geelong Advertiser, first with just some early issues and now from 1857 to 1918.  With many family members having links to Geelong I was reasonably hopeful the  Advertiser would have something for me.  There were some useful Combridge “Family Notices” and land applications, but the most insightful articles were those about my ancestor who frequented the courts.  That’s right, my ggg grandmother Ellen Gamble (nee Barry) of Colac was in the news again.

Links to earlier posts about Ellen are at the bottom of this post, but in short she was an Irish immigrant who, when intoxicated , was a loud, carousing and sometimes pugnacious drunk.  Any occasion was a good occasion for Ellen to partake and as she once told the court in her Irish accent, she needed a drink for a bad cold, to “put her to rights”. The frequency of her drinking often met with serious consequences.  Aside from the neglect her children suffered, by the 1870s her encounters with the law had reached an alarming number.

At the time of her death in 1882, a tragic result of her drinking, Ellen was living apart from her husband Thomas Gamble.  From the Geelong Advertiser of January 15, 1866, I found their troubles started long before 1882.  In 1866, 40-year-old Ellen faced charges for various offences occurring outside Bradley’s Hotel in Colac. Still intoxicated the following day, she appeared in court blaming Thomas for her misdemeanors.  To prevent a recurrence she was locked up for three days. Feeling vengeful, Ellen immediately charged Thomas with failure to support her and the children.  Although Thomas was able to show cause and the case dismissed, the revelations in the Colac Police court revealed much about the Gamble family’s troubles.

COLAC POLICE COURT. (1866, January 15). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147563098

COLAC POLICE COURT. (1866, January 15). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1857 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147563098

Ten years on and little had changed.  By 1876, 50-year-old Ellen had faced the Colac Police Court 33 times.  For her latest charge of drunkenness, Ellen was sentenced to seven days imprisonment at the Geelong Gaol.

TOWN TALK. (1876, June 14). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148911495

TOWN TALK. (1876, June 14). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1857 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148911495

Joining Ellen on the 46 mile trip to Geelong was Mary Lennon, herself a regular at the court.

 

"COLAC POLICE COURT." The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918) 13 Jun 1876: .

“COLAC POLICE COURT.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 13 Jun 1876: .

The magistrate recommended that in future, Ellen and Mary should face more serious charges to ensure a longer prison term.

"NOTES AND EVENTS." The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918) 13 Jun 1876: .

“NOTES AND EVENTS.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 13 Jun 1876: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91997448&gt;.

 

So, at the expense of the state,  the “two dames” were sent by coach to the Geelong Gaol.  And what a formidable place awaited them. I visited the Old Geelong Gaol about two years ago, then unaware that Ellen too had been behind those same bluestone walls.

 

IMG_1406
Geelong Prison

 

IMG_1400

The following You Tube clip has further information about the history of the Old Geelong Gaol and the conditions endured.

 

 

It’s not the first time I’ve come across Ellen’s accomplice Mary Lennon.  She gave evidence at the inquest into Ellen’s death.  Now knowing a little more about Mary, it makes me wonder how seriously her evidence was taken on that occasion.

 

"DEATH BY BURNING." The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918) 27 Jan 1882: 2 Edition: .

“DEATH BY BURNING.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 27 Jan 1882: 2 Edition: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91455765&gt;.

Mary’s life did not improve after her time in jail. Some of the articles I have read about her bring to light  poverty, brutality, neglect and alcoholism .  The saddest came only months after Mary’s imprisonment in 1876.  On November 1, 1876 she and her husband  Patrick were charged with vagrancy and imprisoned. Their neglected children went to an Industrial School for a year.

Ellen didn’t learn her lesson from her imprisonment.  Three years later, the court kept a promise and Ellen was sentenced to twelve months at Geelong Gaol.

"COLAC POLICE COURT." The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918) 25 Mar 1879: 4 Edition: Mornings..

“COLAC POLICE COURT.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 25 Mar 1879: 4 Edition: Mornings..

Twelve months of drying out did not help Ellen in any way.  Two years after her release she was burnt to death at aged 55 because alcohol had taken its hold on her again.

Ellen and Mary’s antics conjure up comical characters from a Dickens’ novel,  but sadly they were real characters.  Pitiful and unfortunate characters attesting to the realities of poverty in Victoria’s country towns during the 19th century. However, Ellen’s presence in my family story has given me a glimpse of another side of life at a time when most of my ancestors were self-sufficient temperate church-goers who only set foot inside a court if called as a witness.

 

Previous posts about Ellen Barry:

A Tragic Night

Ellen’s Inquest

 


Trove Tuesday – Cup Off

The postponement of the 1916 Melbourne Cup due to days of heavy rain that deteriorated the state of the track upset the plans of racegoers taking advantage of a public holiday to attend the great race.

"MELBOURNE CUP." The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933) 7 Nov 1916: .

“MELBOURNE CUP.” The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) 7 Nov 1916: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20106876&gt;.

But it was the caterers who suffered the most having prepared much of their food in the days prior.

"POSTPONEMENT OF MELBOURNE CUP." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 8 Nov 1916 .

“POSTPONEMENT OF MELBOURNE CUP.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 8 Nov 1916 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129389399&gt;.

 

"THE POSTPONED CUP." The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) 8 Nov 1916 .

“THE POSTPONED CUP.” The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929) 8 Nov 1916 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59904012&gt;.

 

The first article, from The Brisbane Courier, stated the 1916 postponement was the first in the Cup’s history.  But it wasn’t as in 1870 the race was postponed, again due to rain.

"No Title." The Bacchus Marsh Express (Vic. : 1866 - 1918) 29 Oct 1870 .

“No Title.” The Bacchus Marsh Express (Vic. : 1866 – 1918) 29 Oct 1870 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89700967&gt;.

The 1916 Melbourne Cup was eventually run on Saturday November 11  and the winner was Sasanof.

"MELBOURNE CUP WINNER FACES THE CAMERA." Winner (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1917) 15 Nov 1916:   .

“MELBOURNE CUP WINNER FACES THE CAMERA.” Winner (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1917) 15 Nov 1916: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154552058&gt;.


Passing of the Pioneers

Most of the pioneer obituaries found in the newspapers are for men which is unfortunate because we are always searching for more information about our female ancestors.  For the month of October the obituaries for pioneering women outnumber the men.  And great pioneers they were, making great contributions within their communities and all living to a very old age.  But none lived longer than Margaret Walker (nee Brown) of Hamilton.  Passing away in 1939, Margaret reached the age of 104 and remained healthy  almost to the end

Mark Nicholson – Died October 27, 1889 at Warrnambool.  Mark Nicholson was born in Gloucestershire in 1818 and arrived at Port Phillip in 1840.  Rather than practice his profession of law, Mark chose to run cattle at various stations across the colony.  In 1848,  Governor LaTrobe selected him to act as a Justice of the Peace at Warrnambool and in 1853 he was elected as the Warrnambool and Belfast (Port Fairy) representative in the Victorian Legislative Council.  In the following years, Mark spent time in England but returned to Warrnambool to settle in 1873.  A full biography of Mark Nicholson is available at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

John BEST – Died October 9, 1907 at Portland.  John Best was born in Ireland in 1835 and arrived at Portland in 1857 aboard the General Hewitt.   He travelled with his parents William and Letitia Best and his six siblings.  The family settled at Heywood and John took up work as a carrier.  Later he built bridges and roads for the local Shire. He purchased a farm at nearby Mt. Clay and he remained there until his death.  He left a widow and seven children.

William SCOTT – Died October 7, 1909 at Wallan.  William Scott arrived in Victoria for the gold rushes and settled in Camperdown around 1860.  He took an active role in local politics, serving on the Hampden Shire Council.  He was also secretary of the Camperdown P&A Society.  There was barely an organisation around Camperdown that did not have William Scott on the committee.  His obituary read,

In him has passed one of the rugged pioneers who came magnificently equipped physically, and with the indomitable energy and capacity for sustained effort responsible for the remarkable development that has marked the brief history of this country.

Williams remains were returned from Wallan by train and he was buried at the Camperdown Cemetery.

Euphemia McLEOD – Died  October 3, 1914 at Purnim.  Euphemia McLeod was born in Scotland around 1826 and travelled to Australia on the Edward Johnston around 1854.  She eventually settled at Purnim with her husband George Crowe and she lived there for 50 years.  Euphemia left three daughters and a son.

Ann Rebecca EAGAR – Died October 12, 1917 at Hamilton.  Ann Eager was born in Devon, England around 1832 and sailed to Adelaide in the mid 1850s.  It was there she married George Rowe and they made their way to Victoria, settling at Wickliffe.  They remained there for around 30 years before taking up residence at Hamilton.

Only six months before her death, Ann and George had celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.  An article appeared in the Ballarat Star of April 14, 1917 reporting on the couple’s anniversary.  It  told of George’s work as a builder.  He worked on several notable buildings in the district including the Coleraine Catholic Church and the Argyle Arms Hotel in Hamilton.  During the war years, Ann supported the cause, knitting socks for soldiers and by the time of her  wedding anniversary, she had knitted 120 pairs of  socks. Ann and George had three sons and two daughters, 28 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Margaret BROWN – Died October 1939 at Hamilton.  Margaret Brown was a great Hamilton pioneer living until the grand age of 104.  In her last years, her life was documented as she reached milestone birthdays  Margaret was born in Launceston in August 1835 with her parents having come from Scotland in 1830.  The family sailed to Victoria around 1840 aboard the City of Sydney and in 1852 Margaret married Thomas Walker at Portland.     In the mid 1860s they settled at Hamilton where they remained.  They had eight children but two died as infants.

When Margaret was 98, she was given a walking stick but she had not used it by the time of her 99th birthday in 1934.  That was also the year of the Portland Centenary and Margaret attended the town’s celebrations. During that year she had also produced 17 pieces of eyelet linen work.  In 1935, Margaret’s 100th birthday celebration was held at the Hollywood Cafe in Hamilton with the Mayor of Hamilton, Cr. Stewart, in attendance.  She also planted a commemorative tree for Victoria’s centenary celebrations.  For her 101st birthday, 25 friends and family gathered at Margaret’s home at 5 Shakespeare Street.  The highlight was a birthday cake with 101 candles.  The next three birthdays were celebrated quietly at home but Margaret continued in good health.  That was until only weeks after her 104th birthday when Margaret became more fragile, eventually passing away in October.  During her life, Margaret saw the reign of six British monarchs.

Margaret’s birthday articles 90th Birthday    99th Birthday  100th Birthday   101st Birthday   104th Birthday

Elizabeth SILVESTER – Died October 7, 1940 at Noorat.  Elizabeth Silvester was born in England around 1852 and arrived in Cobden with her parents as a two-year-old.  She ran a business in Cobden for 50 years and attended the Cobden Methodist Church.  Married to William Gilham, Elizabeth left two sons at the time of her death, one of who she had lived with at Noorat for the last year of her life.  She was buried in the Cobden Cemetery.

Robert Thomas SILVESTER – Died October 7, 1943 at Portland.  Robert Silvester was born in Merino in 1862 but as a young man he moved to Portland and trained as a solicitor.  He worked in the partnership Lynne, Silvester and Fielding before going in to practice alone.  From 1910-1920 Robert was president of the Portland Racing Club and was also president and captain of the Portland Golf Club.  Robert was also a member of the Portland Bowling Club and the following link is for a obituary from the club –   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64386872

Catherine McLURE – Died October 29, 1952 at Camperdown.  Catherine McLure was born at Mepunga in 1866, the daughter of James and Eliza McLure, early pioneers of the Warrnambool district.  In 1885, Catherine married  Benjamin Jeffers at Warrnambool and they moved to Strathbogie.  They later returned to the Western District and lived at Timboon, Kellambete and finally Chocolyn were they resided for 40 years.  Catherine enjoyed making toys with her five grandchildren and 10 great-children and telling stories of days past.


Trove Tuesday – Yellow Cake

Hamilton has always grappled with its identity, from “education town” and “cathedral city” to the most enduring (and endearing) tag “Wool Capital of the World”.  But  Mayor Cr. William Ferrier Hewett’s vision in 1955, published in The Argus of June 10,  really takes the cake…

tt

"THE STATE of VICTORIA: Home town news from everywhere." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 10 Jun 1955: 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71887433>.

“THE STATE of VICTORIA: Home town news from everywhere.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 10 Jun 1955: 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71887433&gt;.


Called by God

While writing the history of the Harmans of Byaduk, I immersed myself into the family’s daily lives and at times felt as though I was there with them.  With my ggg grandfather James Harman, I was among the congregation at the Byaduk Methodist Church and traversed the countryside as he conducted his Local Preacher duties. I attended sheep and Pastoral and Agriculture (P&A) shows and learnt the finer points of tilling the soil at ploughing matches.  I  felt James’ pride in 1907 as he stood with his fellow pioneers and friends for a photograph before his beloved Byaduk Methodist  Church and shared his satisfaction when he won a Lincoln ram at the Hamilton P&A show.

BYADUK PIONEER DAY - March 27, 1907.  JAMES HARMAN (Back Row, 6th from right), JONATHAN HARMAN (Back Row, 5th from right), ELIZABETH OLIVER, widow of REUBEN HARMAN (Front row, 2nd from right).  Photo courtesy of the Hamilton History Centre.

BYADUK PIONEER DAY – March 27, 1907. JAMES HARMAN (Back Row, 6th from right), JONATHAN HARMAN (Back Row, 5th from right), ELIZABETH OLIVER, widow of REUBEN HARMAN (Front row, 2nd from right). Photo courtesy of the Hamilton History Centre.

Yesterday I “visited” James again and felt something I had not felt before.

The post False Alarm, revealed my ongoing frustration of not  having an obituary written about  James Harman, my favorite ancestor. One like those written for his brothers  Jonathan and Walt, lengthy, information packed tributes that told me much about the type of men they were.  An obituary for James in the Hamilton Spectator came close but I wanted more.

Just a few weeks before my thesis was due, the newspaper the Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne 1914-1918) came online at Trove and there was an obituary for James.  Unfortunately the article was still undergoing quality control checks so the wait was on.  My “Electronic Friend” would send  an email when the article was ready to go but no amount of checking my inbox made the article come.  The submission date for my thesis came and went and still the article was unavailable.  Yesterday it was ready.

The obituary was signed by W.H.G  and knowing something of the Byaduk Methodist Church helped me identify the author as the Reverend William Herbert Guard who presided over the church at the time of James’ death . His tribute answered one of my questions about James.  When did he become involved with the Wesleyan Methodist Church?  Was it when he arrived in Port Fairy in 1852?  Or when the family spent some time at Muddy Creek before going to Byaduk.  Muddy Creek had  a strong Methodist community of Wesleyans, Primitives and Reformers who had arrived via Port Fairy.  But, according to Reverend Guard, James’ commitment to Methodism began before leaving Cambridgeshire.

Reverend Guard visited James in his last days and recounted those visits but it was his recollections of James’ final hours that were the most powerful.  “I’m going home” a weakening James told him and then in his last moments James raised his hand and uttered his last word “Coming” and with that he passed away. James was ready to meet his God.   Many obituaries describe the last moments of a person’s life but often in a clinical fashion. W.H.G.’s description was spiritual.  Such was James’ devotion it could be nothing less.

James was not just “going home” to God, his beliefs gave him faith that  he was also going home to my ggg Grandmother  Susan Reed.  The obituary confirmed for me the bond he shared with Susan, forged over 64 years.  Susan died on April 10, 1916 and James on August 13 in the same year and I have always thought their the few months apart was too long a time for James. He had lost the woman who gave him the strength to go on and after only four months they were reunited at the Byaduk Cemetery.

 

TOGETHER AGAIN

TOGETHER AGAIN

There is little information about Susan’s life besides her birth, death and children in-between.  But she was with James when they left Melbourn, Cambridgeshire as newlyweds and endured a forgettable voyage on the Duke of Richmond.  She travelled with him from the port of Portland to Port Fairy for James’ first employment in Victoria and together they endured the pioneering life at Byaduk.  No doubt she sat up late into the night waiting for James to return from church meetings and sheep shows in neighbouring towns.

Reverend Guard brought to my attention something about Susan I did not know and it was sad to read of her blindness in her last years.  That is now obvious when I look at her in this treasured photo passed on to me by James and Susan’s great-grandson Mike Harman.

JAMES & SUSAN HARMAN.  Photo courtesy of Mike Harman & family.

JAMES & SUSAN HARMAN. Photo courtesy of Mike Harman & family.

On reaching the end of Reverend Guard’s tribute, chills had come over me and  tears filled my eyes.  Since that first reading I have thought often of those last hours of James’ life with sadness.  After the many emotions I have felt while researching James’ life, for the first time I was feeling grief.  It  is the only time I have felt that emotion about my long departed ancestors.  Usually such discoveries evoke feelings of jubilation such as the revelation  my ggg Grandmother Ellen Barry died in a house fire caused by her insobriety or  learning my gg aunt Ellen Harman dropped dead on the floor while cooking breakfast for her son.  While I did feel sad for their unfortunate passing, in the back of my mind was the thought “That will be good for the family history”.  But the tears that came to my eyes when reading about James was not because this useful information missed my thesis, it was because I felt like I was saying goodbye.

As I snap myself back it into reality, I remind myself that with this never-ending journey that is family history, new stories of James will emerge and I can once again join him on his life’s adventures.

james

jh3

"In Memoriam." Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 11 Oct 1916: .

“In Memoriam.” Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 11 Oct 1916: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154270437&gt;.


Trove Tuesday – Friends Wanted

It’s Trove Tuesday and this is my first TT post since June.  I’ve been looking forward to sharing this little find from The Australian Worker (Sydney) .  After coming across these two articles I must say I laughed about their contents for days and all because a typesetter used an “m” instead of a “p.”

The first excerpt is a letter written to the “Children’s Letters” column by my 2nd cousin 3 x removed,  Iris Olive Harman of South Ecklin.  Iris was the daughter of Arthur John Harman and Ellen “Nellie” Matilda Rodgers and was born in 1900 at Cobden,  She was 16 or 17 when she wrote her letter.  Her grandfather was Jonathan Harman of Byaduk.  She had three older brothers who she mentioned in her letter, Arthur Ernest, Frederick Reginald and Edward George.  They were around 20, 24 and 26 in 1918 and all unmarried. Iris’ father had moved to Byaduk to live with his father Jonathan four years earlier and I’m still yet to discover what happened to his and Nellie’s marriage.

Iris was a religious girl from a Methodist background but as an adult she was a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist church and taught bible studies in the churches’ Sabbath schools.  Iris was a spinster until at least the 1954 Electoral Roll and although some researchers have her married after that time, I am yet to confirm it myself.

Knowing that information about Iris, you too will be as shocked (and no doubt amused) as I was when I read her letter:

"CHILDREN'S LETTERS." The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1950) 26 Apr 1917: 11. .

“CHILDREN’S LETTERS.” The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 – 1950) 26 Apr 1917: 11. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145807620&gt;.

Oh dear, the scandal.  A young christian girl was in search of “men friends.”

It took three months, but finally an explanation was forthcoming:

"TO CORRESPONDENTS." The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1950) 12 Jul 1917: 13.  .

“TO CORRESPONDENTS.” The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 – 1950) 12 Jul 1917: 13. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145807931&gt;.

While I amused myself for days after, relaying the story to anyone who pretended to listen, I must consider the shame such a tiny slip caused as implied in the newspaper’s apology.   In the years following, Nellie, Iris and brother Frederick  packed up and left for Warrnambool for no apparent reason.  Now having found these articles, I’m wondering if the shame brought to the family may have prompted the move.


In the Social Pages

A former Melbourne newspaper  Table Talk (1885-1939), a weekly social publication, had its release online at Trove at few months ago.  It  quickly went on my list of favourite newspapers for the photos, the fashion and the insight into the social life of Victorians, particularly the upper classes.   There was no need for Facebook in those days.  Socialites just had to share their status with Table Talk and friends could read with envy of trips to London, extended stays in fine Melbourne hotels or a day at the local fox hunt.

In a Trove Tuesday post in June, I lamented that I had been unable to find any family members in Table Talk.  I dug a little deeper and finally I found a photo of a 2nd cousin 2 x removed, Pauline Florence Marchant.

 

GEELONG NOTES. (1933, November 16). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939), p. 48. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147259192

GEELONG NOTES. (1933, November 16). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), p. 48. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147259192

Pauline was the daughter of Percival “Percy” John Marchant and Elsie Annie Hughes of Geelong.  On her paternal side, Pauline was a granddaughter of Samuel Thomas Marchant, a well-known optician from Geelong and later Melbourne, and Emily Jane Entwistle.  On her maternal side, she was the granddaughter of Frederick Charles Hughes and my ggg Aunt Martha Harman of Hamilton.  Pauline was photographed at St Claire, her families’ residence near the Geelong Botanical Gardens.  St Claire is a lovely home and still stands today.  Pauline’s father Percy was also an optician as was her maternal uncle Russell Hughes of Hamilton.

Table Talk is full of Western District people so check it out.

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers

%d bloggers like this: