Category Archives: Riddiford

Riddiford Centenary

In 1846, the Bristol Mercury reported that Aaron Riddiford of North Nibley, Gloucestershire had died aged 92.  He had lived his entire life on the farm where he was born and only ever travelled a few miles from his home.

That same decade a young cousin of Aaron, my ggg grandfather Charles Riddiford,  said goodbye to Gloucestershire and moved to Buckinghamshire.  He married Elizabeth Richardson Cooke and started a family, but he was looking for more.  By 1851, he had taken the family to Clerkenwell, London and worked as a tailor. Shortly after he was off to Bedfordshire as a Police Constable.  After his discharge for poaching, he packed up the family and moved back to Buckinghamshire, joining the Haddenham constabulary.

A son of Charles, Thomas Cooke Riddiford inherited the wandering gene.  In 1872 he took his family to Ontario, Canada looking for the promised land.  He didn’t find it and three years later the family returned to Buckinghamshire.  They spent some time in London and then back to Bucks.  His wife Emma Piddington died in 1883 and by 1891, Thomas had left his children aged 13 to two at the time of Emma’s death, and moved to Lancashire. He remarried twice and remained in Lancashire until his death.

Thomas William Cooke Riddiford, my great-grandfather, a son of Thomas snr. and Emma Piddington was born at the Crown Inn, Cuddington, Buckinghamshire in 1875  and was eight when his mother died.  Like his father and grandfather he was looking for something more.  That desire took him to Canada, back to England and finally Australia aboard the “SS Commonwealth“, with his wife Caroline and four sons, including my grandfather Percy, 100 years ago today, on September 15, 1913.

Thomas jnr. followed in his father’s footsteps and took up butchering.  In 1891 he was living at the Plough Inn, Haddenham, Buckinghamshire and working as a butcher’s assistant.  He then made his way to London.  At Lambeth, London on  February 7, 1896,  he married 17 year-old Caroline “Queenie” Celia Ann Kirkin,  daughter of railway worker Frederick John Kirkin and Amy Maria Webb, at St Barnabas Church.

It may have been a short courtship prior to the marriage in February, as the birth of first child William, was registered in July 1896 at Lambeth.  His baptism was at St. Barnabas on August 2, 1896 .

Over the next 17 years, the Riddiford family lived at all points of the compass around London.  Thomas may have followed work or was looking for the perfect place to raise his growing family.  The following Google Map shows the four different residences of the Riddifords during that 17 year period, from Lambeth to Notting Hill, to Leytonstone and finally Edmonton, the last known residence before their departure to Australia.

The family suffered a loss in 1903 with the death of two-year old Horace.  The year 1906, was the only time the family were apart when Tom took a trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, presumably with the thought of moving there.  He didn’t find what he was looking for and returned to London.

In 1913, the Riddifords took their chances and joined other assisted immigrants aboard the “SS Commonwealth” and sailed for Australia via South Africa, dropping passengers at Adelaide.

ASSISTED IMMIGRANTS. (1913, August 8). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 6. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60056064

ASSISTED IMMIGRANTS. (1913, August 8). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), p. 6. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60056064

SHIPPING NOTES. (1913, September 10). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 - 1924), p. 6. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105592344

SHIPPING NOTES. (1913, September 10). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 – 1924), p. 6. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105592344

GENERAL NEWS. (1913, September 12). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 18. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5801205

GENERAL NEWS. (1913, September 12). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 18. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5801205

They docked at Victoria Harbour, Melbourne on September 15.  The family then consisted of five boys – William Thomas Frederick (17), Cyril Victor (15), Ernest Arthur (14), Percy Ronald (10) and Reginald Leonard (3)

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1913, September 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 14. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7233086

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1913, September 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 14. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7233086

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1913, September 16). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 6. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91019708

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1913, September 16). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 6. Retrieved September 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91019708

SS COMMONWEALTH.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia.  Image No, b69878  http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/70000/B69878.htm

SS COMMONWEALTH. Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. Image No, b69878 http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/70000/B69878.htm

By early 1914, the Riddiford’s had settled at Smeaton, a small town north of Ballarat.  Thomas took up work as a farm labourer and was later the pound keeper.

SHIRE COUNCIL. (1915, December 3). Creswick Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119523460

SHIRE COUNCIL. (1915, December 3). Creswick Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119523460

After London, life must have been very different, especially for Caroline who had spent 34 years living in London, most of that time in Lambeth, with smog, pea-soupers, crowding, slums and noise.  Imagine how quiet it must have seemed for her…ah the serenity.

After six boys, the family welcomed the first girl, Lillian Ivy, to the family in 1914.  Maybe it was the fresh air.  If Thomas was looking for wide open spaces, he had arrived. However the serenity was soon shattered with the onset of WW1.  If they were feeling settled, that would change.

Fundraising on the home front started and the first newspaper reference I have about Grandpa, Percy Riddiford, refers to a Belgian Fund Concert at Smeaton.  He, along with other children sang and conducted games as part of their performance.

SMEATON. (1915, April 20). Creswick Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119521368

SMEATON. (1915, April 20). Creswick Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119521368

Soon after,  the first of Thomas and Caroline’s sons would enlist.  While Thomas had unwittingly removed his family from the direct threat of war, over the next four years, three of his sons would enlist taking them into its midst.  Their decisions to enlist must have been different to other local lads, who may have been second or third generation Australian.  Bill, Cyril and Ern, had already had their adventures and travel, surely their greatest thoughts would have been of England.

Bill enlisted on September 2, 1915, and arrived in France in March 1916 with the 12th Battalion, but after just five months he was hit by an ambulance, suffering a fracture to his femur.  While in the 7th General Hospital his condition was listed as “dangerously ill”.  His injury resulted in a lifelong disability.

As soon as he was 18, Cyril enlisted, on April 4, 1916, joining the 8th Battalion in France in September that year.  Ern, a butcher, also enlisted as soon as he was 18,  on February 5, 1918 with the 59th Battalion.  He arrived in France on February 1, 1919.

Despite Bill’s injury, the boys returned home safely, their service remembered in the Creswick Shire Avenue of Honour, also known as the Kingston Avenue of Honour.

In 1922, at 43 years of age, Caroline gave birth to Stanley Gordon at Smeaton.  The family was now complete with an age span of 26 years from the oldest to youngest child.

Around 1927, the Riddifords moved into Ballarat, taking up residence at 619 Humffray Street South.  Thomas returned to the butchering trade, operating a business in Peel Street South.  The older boys were getting married and starting families.  The three boys that served were living in  Melbourne.  Ern and Cyril married Jessica Prideaux and Amelia Romeril, respectively, from Port Melbourne.  They had two children each.  Bill married Creswick girl, Florence Bowley but they lived in Port Melbourne near to Ern and Cyril.  Bill and Florence moved to Creswick in their later years where they remained until their passing.  They had no children.

The Riddiford family of Ballarat

The Riddiford family of Ballarat

The photos (above) and (below) have an interesting story that can be read in the R is for…Riddiford post.  The photo below has “Clunes” written on the back, but the date of the photo would be the 1930s by which time the Riddifords were in Ballarat.  The shop may have been in Peel Street South Ballarat and if so, it no longer exists.

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Aside from some time in Geelong, Reg also remained in Ballarat and followed his father’s trade as a butcher.  He married Mavis Goldby in 1932 and they had two daughters.

Stan enlisted in WW2 and on his return built a house next to his parents in Humffray Street, He married Amy McBain and worked as a carpet layer.  They had two children.

HOMES OF TOM & QUEENIE (left) AND STAN & AMY (right), Humffray Street South, Ballarat.

HOMES OF TOM & QUEENIE (left) AND STAN & AMY (right), Humffray Street South, Ballarat.

Lil married Ernest Horgan and had one son.  She remained in Ballarat.

Dad remembers family get-togethers in the 1950s with singalongs with songs such “Knees up Mother Brown” .  That song was recorded in the 1930s but thought to be an old Cockney song and was, for a time, sung at matches by West Ham supporters.  There were also visitors from England to Humffray Street, including Caroline’s parents and cousins of Tom.

The move to Humffray Street in 1927, in the suburb of  Mt. Pleasant, was Thomas and Caroline’s last move remaining there until their deaths in 1957 and 1962.  Thomas must have found the promised land, his Shangri- La.  Maybe if his father had travelled to Australia in 1876 instead of Canada, Thomas jnr. may have reached his destination earlier and Thomas snr. would too have found what seems to have alluded him.

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HEADSTONE OF THOMAS AND CAROLINE RIDDIFORD, BALLARAT NEW CEMETERY

My grandfather Percy, went on to work as a tram conductor in Melbourne and Ballarat.  He married Mavis McLeish in Melbourne in 1932 and they had four sons.  Mavis passed away in 1943 and in 1944  Percy married my grandmother, Mavis Combridge.  They returned to Ballarat and they had three more sons.

Dad recalls during the 1950s when they were living in Forest Street, Wendouree,  Grandpa would clear out the dining room and call square dances with up to 10 couples involved.  At one time the younger boys attended Redan Primary School and Grandpa was on the committee and worked there as a cleaner.  He also worked on the gate at the Ballarat trots and one of my last memories of him was there…as we called by the trotting track one night, on our way home to Hamilton, to say goodbye to Grandpa.  He died in 1974 when I was six.

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MEMORIAL STONE OF PERCY & MAVIS RIDDIFORD, BALLARAT CREMATORIUM

Tom, Queenie, Bill, Cyril, Ern, Percy, Reg, Lil and Stan…this one’s for you.


Gardeners in My Family

It was the Afternoons program on 774 ABC Melbourne that got me thinking about my gardening pedigree.  Presenter Richard Stubbs asked listeners how they came to take up gardening.  Was it passed on from someone else?

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I grew up in a gardener’s house and remember constant talk of  Spring and Autumn annuals, Marigolds, Petunias, Camellias, Dahlias, the constant moving of sprinklers and manure.

When Nana came to live with us in the late 1970s, the garden talk doubled and if my Great Auntie Rosie came to visit, well.  Auntie Rosie was Nana’s sister and they had other siblings that were keen gardeners too.

One was my great-uncle Bill Hadden.  Visiting his garden was special.  I remember fish ponds, orchids and a large television antenna tower that I had an urge to climb every time I went there.

This is a lovely photo of Uncle Bill as young man in his parent’s backyard at 78 Coleraine Road, Hamilton, planting seed in neat rows with help from his niece, Margaret.  It was about 1934.

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I too lived at 78 Coleraine Road.  Mum and Dad lived there when they first arrived in Hamilton after their marriage in 1967.  I came along in March 1968 and we lived there for about a year after my birth.  I wish I had have been older to remember the house, which was later pulled down, as that was the family home of my great grandparents, Thomas Hadden and Sarah Harman and where Nana and her brothers and sisters grew up.  Four generations lived in that house.

I showed Mum the photo of the backyard at 78 Coleraine Road and she was able to tell me more about it.  She said there was still a fence across the backyard when we there but it is was then made from  chook wire.   Auntie Rosie had lived there before us and she kept chooks.  After the photo, cherry plum and blood plum trees were planted and an apple tree, seen in the photo, was still there 33 years later.

Uncle Bill had his own home built after returning from WW2.  It was at 80 Coleraine Road, next door to his parents.

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The photo above, shows Mum and Nana, on the left, and Mum’s cousin Norma, right, in the front yard of Uncle Bill and Auntie Bess.  Although a reasonably new house, Uncle Bill already had an established garden and neat concrete and lawn driveway.  He later added a garage and sheds at the end of the driveway.

Alma, another of Nana’s sisters was also a green thumb.  When I visited her a few years ago, when she was in her late 90s, I was amazed at her beautiful potted cyclamen on her back porch. Despite almost no vision, she tended them with care.  She was often found pottering around the garden that she knew so well and was able to move around nimbly.

Advertising. (1876, July 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63316883

Advertising. (1876, July 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63316883

 

Before Nana came to live with us, she and my grandfather, Bill Gamble lived in Ballarat and I have great memories of visiting their house.  The backyard was small but  the space was well used .  Bill grew espalier apples, among other things, and had a shed with three sections lining the back fence.  From my memory, the left section was a fernery, the middle a utility shed that held grain to feed the occupants in the third section, the chooks.  I did like to admire the maiden hair ferns and their cool, soft foliage,  and the feed shed where I dipped my hands into oats in a large wooden barrel. But I did not go in the chook shed.

Advertising. (1936, July 30). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64273334

Advertising. (1936, July 30). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64273334

When I checked my memory against mum’s she told me the left side of the shed was interchangeable, depending on her father’s interest at the time.  He used to have budgies too and I can now remember budgie boxes in that part of the shed and attached to the fence.  She couldn’t remember the maiden hair ferns, but her father did grow Pelargoniums at one point.  That must have run in the family, as the following is a photo of one of Mum’s Pelargoniums.

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The next photo was taken looking across the Gamble backyard.  We have several photos taken from this angle.  It must have been the “photo spot”.  Nana (centre) is  flanked by Bill’s aunt, Jane Diwell and a friend of Jane’s from Geelong.  In the front is my Uncle Peter.  Hopefully the photo shoot did not go on too long as there may have been an accident.

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Of interest here is the espalier apple tree on the fence, the concrete garden edging my grandfather put in himself, the sack of oats and the Bergenia or “Elephant’s Ears” along the toilet wall.  Mum  used to call them “toilet flowers”.

Auntie Shirley, Bill’s sister is also a keen gardener.  We visited her in the past year and her garden was beautiful, a result of much hard work on her part.  She is now in her 80s.

My grandfather, Auntie Shirl and Auntie Jane were descended from a keen gardener, Richard Diwell, Jane’s father.  Richard was a member of the Hamilton Horticulture Society. His specialty was chrysanthemums.  The society often attended shows in nearby towns and the following  item is from 1896 when the Hamilton growers headed to Portland to show of their blooms.  Richard won three prizes in his class.

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

The chrysanthemums exhibited by the Hamilton growers were impressive, some a little too impressive for an amateur show.

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

Richard also liked ferns and apparently had a fernery.  He was a keen photographer too, and this is one of the photos we have that he “staged” and took himself with a camera timer.  A selection of plants are in the foreground including a maidenhair fern.

Richard & Elizabeth Diwell and family

Richard & Elizabeth Diwell and family

A garden photo that interests me is from the backyard of Richard’s daughter, Edith Diwell, my great-grandmother.  The photo is of three of her sons, including Grandfather Bill on the left.  This was either at a house in Mt Napier Road, Hamilton or Skene Street, Hamilton.  Either way, they would have only been in the house a short time before the photo was taken, so the garden layout was not the work of Edith.  However, it still gives an example of a 1920s backyard.  There is a vegetable garden, with wooden edging and the boys are standing in front of a Yucca.  A fruit tree stands in the background.

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My paternal side of the family, the Riddifords, did not have the same influence on my love of gardening.  Dad has never grown anything.  Well, at least that’s what I thought.  Mum told me how he thought cauliflowers could be a profitable venture, sometime around 1967, and planted them in the backyard at 78 Coleraine Road.  Turns out there was little market for his produce and that was the end of his gardening days.  We probably ate cauliflower with white sauce for some time afterwards.

Dad’s father, Percy Riddiford, did like to garden.  It was not until  recent years that I came to know how much.

Prior to her death, my Grandma, Mavis, gave me a binder of Your Garden magazines collected by Grandpa.  I knew he liked roses as they lined the perimeter of their front yard, but I didn’t realise his passion went as far as buying gardening magazines.  It just happened that the year the magazines were from was 1968, the year I was born.

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I did enjoy visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s in Ballarat.  A sign, “The Riddifords” hung proudly on the letterbox.   A terrace garden was at the back of the steep block.  Three large steps led to the top of the terrace and I recall that as a small child, I would haul myself up the steps and teeter on the top to look across neighbouring backyards to see Sovereign Hill in its infancy, sprouting up on a nearby hill.  I would cry out that I could see the “historical park”.

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I recently drove past Grandma and Grandpa’s old house to see if Grandpa’s roses were still there.  I do remember them there, but look old and gnarly, not the many years ago.  They are now gone, but suckers grow were the roses were.  A little reminder of Grandpa.

‘My gardening history started in a rented house, but now with a  home of my own, more passion is imparted.  In the 13 years we have lived here, I have gardened through a 10 year drought, dogs, goats, child and recently a plant shredding hail storm.  Inspired by Edna Walling and dispirited by Mother Nature and her creatures.

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My garden is probably not at the point I would like it, but it has changed over the years thanks, I suppose, to the drought.  I started with a range of cottage perennials, including some unusual varieties, but full water restrictions (no mains watering) did not help many of those thirsty English plants.  Anything that survived I have planted more of, and more natives and succulents have come in.

One of my favourite plants is the Aquilegia or “Granny Bonnet’.  It was also a favourite of Nana’s.

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One day my “Zephirine Drouhin”  roses will cover the arch they grow beside.  But every year, just as the juicy new shoots show, two white creatures manage to break into my garden and indulge in one of their favourite delicacies.

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Are We To Have More Fragrant Roses. (1930, September 5). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 - 1939), p. 8. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57763452

Are We To Have More Fragrant Roses. (1930, September 5). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), p. 8. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57763452

The Sedum is an underrated plant and one that dates back to 19th century Australian gardens.  It transforms itself throughout the year giving ongoing variety in its form and it can cope with dry weather.  I have filled my borders with different varieties and they never disappoint.  The following description of the Sedum is from 1911.

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NOTES. (1911, March 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15231478

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Advertising. (1894, August 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65395732

Advertising. (1894, August 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65395732

If you would like to get an idea of how your ancestors’ gardens may have looked or you would like to recreate a garden from earlier times, Cottage Gardens in Australia by Peter Cuffley is a beautiful book and an excellent resource for studying Australian gardens right back to Colonial days.

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R is for…Riddiford

I had considered “R’ week of the Gould Genealogy Alphabet Challenge  an opportunity to trot out my Riddiford family as they are, strictly speaking, not a Western District Family.  However, after initially being excited at the prospect of bringing together their rich history,  I soon realised I had too much information to give a summary while still doing justice to the many stories I have found.

Now how am I going to tell you about the family of fabric workers from Gloucestershire, dating back to at least the 1500s, who spread across England, into Wales and then Canada, United States and Australia.  I really want to tell you about the criminals, including Dinah Riddiford, the oldest woman to hang in England in the 18th and 19th century and the convicts transported to Van Diemens Land, Sydney and Norfolk Island.

Then there is the story waiting to be told of the Riddifords of New Zealand, original settlers in the country, with Daniel Riddiford arriving in 1840 and making a large contribution to the pastoral history of the country.  Descendants of the Wellington pioneers  have gone on to climb Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary, sit in the New Zealand parliament, play cricket for New Zealand  and  direct, write and produce for film and television, just to name a few.

NINE GAMBLE DEATH TO SEE ROOF OF THEY. (1952, February 23). Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved September 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52848815

Or there is the Riddifords that  immigrated to Australia arriving to South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.  These included one of the most renown  Australian Riddifords, Walter Riddiford of Broken Hill.  The former miner and mayor of Broken Hill  had the Riddiford Arboretum in the town named in his honour.

MAYOR 7 TIMES ALD. RIDDIFORD WINS HONOR AT £1000 A YEAR. (1954, December 17). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved September 5, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49976381

I also would like to tell you about my Riddiford line including my ggg grandfather, Charles Riddiford, a tailor and policeman who died in the Saunderton Union Workhouse  at Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. And his son Thomas Cooke Riddiford, a some time publican and butcher who immigrated with his family to Canada in search of a better life, only to return to Buckinghamshire a few years later.

I will, however, get the chance to tell you the story of my grandfather and great-grandfather, Percy and Tom.

Thomas William Cooke Riddiford, the fourth of eight children, was born in 1875 at  the Crown Inn, Aylesbury Road, Cuddington, Buckinghamshire not long after his family had  returned to England from a failed venture to Brant County, Ontario, Canada.

While still a baby, Tom’s parents Thomas Cooke Riddiford and Emma Piddington moved the family to Clerkenwell, London where Lily Beatrice was born in 1877.  Again, the move seems to have been another failed attempt to find a better life for the family, as they had headed back to Cuddington by 1879.  Thomas senior resumed his role as publican of the Crown Inn.  Emma’s father, a victualler, also had links to that pub and others in the district.  In 1883, Emma died aged 34 and Thomas was left with eight children to care for, with three under five.

How does a family manage after such a tragedy.  By the 1891 UK Census, consequences of Emma’s death had become evident.  On the night of the Census, the two youngest children, Ernest Arthur, 11 and William Leonard, 10, were at the Aylesbury Union Workhouse.  Youngest daughter Florence, 12, was living with her grandmother, Jane Piddington and Lily, aged 14 was a servant for a Aylesbury hairdresser.  My great-grandfather Tom, then 16 was boarding at the Plough Inn, Haddenham , working as an apprentice butcher.

Where was Thomas senior by this time?  He had moved on.  To Manchester in fact, working as a cab driver and living with his new wife, Sarah Browne and their four-month old son, Arthur.   The saddest part of this stage in their lives is that I have never been able to find any trace of Ernest beyond the 1891 Census and his time in the Workhouse.  My grandfather named a son after his younger brother.  A tribute maybe?

Tom junior got on with his life, making a move to London working as a fully qualified butcher.  He married 18-year-old Londoner Caroline “Queenie” Celia Ann Kirkin on February 7, 1896 at St Barnabus Church, Kennington, London.  By the time of the 1901 UK Census, the couple were living at 169 Cromwell Road, Kensington with three sons.  Tom was working for himself as a butcher .

In 1903,  the family suffered a loss with the death of two-year old Horace. Percy Ronald Riddiford, my grandfather, was born in Leytonstone in 1904 before a break of six years when Reginald was born in 1910 at Edmonton.  That is where the family were living at the time of the 1911 UK Census, 54 Raynham Road, Upper Edmonton.  Oldest son William was 14 and working as a metal polisher, Cyril 13, was attending school and working as an errand boy for a greengrocer.  Father Tom was still a butcher, working for Universal Stores.

The former Riddiford home, possibly their last in England,  is the cream house with red flower baskets.

Something must have nagged at Tom. A feeling like his father before had felt.  How could he make a better life for his family?  In 1906, he had travelled alone to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on what appears to have been a reconnaissance trip, but he returned to London.  In 1912, Tom’s cousin Aubrey Frank Riddiford immigrated to Australia, settling at Heyfield in Gippsland.  This may have been the catalyst for Tom to pack up the family and sail to Australia aboard the “Commonwealth” arriving in Melbourne on September 15, 1913.  Many of the passengers were Assisted Immigrants and I would assume the Riddfords were among them.

SLSA: B 69878

SS Commonwealth 1911 at a pier at Adelaide.
Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, B69878
http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/70000/B69878.htm

The Riddifords moved to Smeaton, just north of Ballarat.  Lillian Ivy, the only girl in a family devoid of women, was born in 1914.  War broke out and in 1915 Bill enlisted for his new country, followed by Cyril in 1916 and Ern in 1918.  Bill was hit by an Army ambulance in France and was sent home an invalid in 1917.

ALLENDALE. (1917, July 21). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 10 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved September 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73320328

In 1922, Stanley was born at Smeaton, 26 years younger than his oldest brother Bill.

By the end of the 1920s, the Riddifords moved into Ballarat, residing at 97 Humffray Street South.  Tom and Queenie then moved to 619 Humffray Street where they remained until their deaths.

The Riddiford Family of Ballarat circa 1929
Back: Cyril Victor, Lillian Ivy, Percy Ronald, Reginald Leonard
Front: William “Bill” Thomas Frederick, Thomas William Cooke Riddiford, Stanley Gordon, Caroline “Queenie” Celia Ann Kirkin, Ernest Arthur Harold.

This photo is very special because of the circumstances in which I came to have it.  Mum and I visited an antique shop at Newlyn, north of Ballarat. We spotted some old photos with the penciled name “Riddiford” on the cardboard frames.  There were three, including the family photo and a wedding photo of my grandfather and his first wife Mavis McLeish.  The shop owner was able to tell us how he acquired them, but it’s a long story.

Thomas passed away in 1957 aged 81 and Caroline in 1962 aged 83.  They are buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery.

The boys and Lillian married, and all but Bill had children.  But there were few descendants as the seven children produced only 16 grandchildren, seven of them by my grandfather!  Of those, there were five girls and nine boys.  Seven of those boys were my grandfathers!

The most successful of Tom and Caroline descendants to date has been Ern’s son Leonard Riddiford.  Len gained a scholarship to Melbourne  High School and then studied physics at Melbourne University.  During the late 1940s, he travelled to Birmingham to work on the world’s first synchrotron under Sir Mark Oliphant’s guidance, while completing his PhD at Birmingham University.

ATOM STUDY IN AUSTRALIA. (1952, August 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved September 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18278393

To think the Riddifords were the last branch I researched.  As they arrived in 1913 and with my main interest being 19th century Australian history, I considered them newbies.  But when I did seriously begin researching the name I couldn’t stop, not returning to research my other families for months.  The research experience was also very different from my other families.  While  I have little information on my Victorian pioneer families prior to their departure from England, I have easily found information on the Riddifords from a variety of sources.

I have also had the pleasure of tracking my grandfather and great-grandfather right through to the 1911 UK census, when my other families left soon after the 1851 Census.  It has also given me a greater understanding of English history, geography and records.

The Riddifords of New Zealand consumed a lot of my time and Papers Past got a work out.  There are over 54,000 “Riddiford” matches at the New Zealand newspaper archive compared to  3449 on the same search at Trove and I have spent months just on this branch trawling through articles and books about the history of New Zealand.

Although I still have some brick walls,  I can safely say that Riddifords everywhere are related.  Like a jigsaw all the pieces have come together to form a picture of a family who today can  trace their links back to those early Gloucestershire cloth makers and, if my theory is correct, back to the Flemish cloth workers who arrived in Gloucestershire from the  1300s-1500s.  That is another facet of the tale I had intended to share.

A book on the Riddiford family history would be the best way do the stories justice.  I have even considered a One-Name study or at the very least, a blog. I don’t think I can manage any of those options at the moment.  While writing Western District Families has given me an outlet to for most of my families, it has also presented a problem. My Riddiford research has fallen into a state of neglect.

RIDDIFORD TRIVIA

It is was not only genealogists who welcomed online records.  Tabloid newspapers soon became fans too. This was evident in 2010 when a journalist wrote on the ancestry of Kylie Minogue.  Numerous newspapers and magazines ran with the story chiefly because Kylie had not one but several criminal ancestors.  Who were they?  Well they were Riddifords!  Yes that’s right Kylie and Dannii Minogue are Riddiford descendants.

Many Riddifords knew this prior to 2010 and I had myself read that the Kylie and Dannii’s mother was a Riddiford.  It was actually her grandmother Millicent Riddiford, one of the Welsh Riddifords.  Millie arrived in Australia in 1955 with her husband Denis Jones and their children.  By my calculations that would make the Minogues my 7th cousins, as we share  6 x great grandparents Thomas Riddiford and Arabella Trottman.  Distant I know, but the 8-year-old research assistant is very proud of his link, even if the kids at school won’t believe him.

An article from the Daily Mail of February 2, 2010 describes the Riddiford/Minogue relationship – Hangings, Sex Assults and Deportation: Meet Kylie Minogue’s Criminal Ancestors…

I would like to trace the Minogue line to see if Kylie and Dannii descend from the Minogue family, pioneers of Cape Bridgewater in south-west Victoria.  They too may have Western District Families.

Call it a family myth, but another piece of trivia Riddifords like to hang their hat on, is the link between Ronnie Barker and L.E Riddiford Grocers in Thornbury Gloucestershire.  The story goes that while Barker was filming in Thornbury, he was so inspired by the grocers store in High Street that he created the show Open All Hours.  If you look at the L.E.Riddiford website you will understand how this comparison may have come about.

MY FAVOURITE RIDDIFORD

This would be Edward Joshua Riddiford, born in the Hutt Valley, Wellington,  New Zealand in 1842, son of Daniel Riddiford and Harriet Stone.  Educated in Australia at Scotch College, Melbourne, Edward spent time on cattle stations in Queensland.  He often visited Australia and on at least one occasion bought stock from the Learmonths of Ercildoune near Ballarat.

IMPORTATION of VALUABLE STOCK.
Evening Post, Volume X, Issue 134, 25 July 1874, Page 2
Papers Past – http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast

The reason I particularly like Edward Joshua Riddiford is for the relationships he forged with the Maori people.  This quote from Edward’s biography by Roberta Nicholls for Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand sums him up well:

“At Te Awaiti and Orongorongo Edward Riddiford interacted constantly with the local Maori population, as he had done when he was a child. He spoke their language, employed them, shod their horses, and bartered domestic products, foodstuffs and clothing for crops and wild pork. He played cards and drank with the men; he slept with the women. Out of admiration for his forceful leadership, commanding personality, and physical prowess the Maori called him ‘King’. Because of his influence, Riddiford was able to acquire Maori land for leasehold or freehold on favourable terms.” (from the biography of Edward Joshua Riddiford, by Roberta Nicholls, Te Ara – The Encylopedia of New Zealand)

THE RIDDIFORD FAMILY ON FACEBOOK

If you are a Riddiford descendant you are more than welcome to join our Facebook group. Search “Riddiford Family” at Facebook and you will find us. There are 130 Riddifords from all over the world.  Many have commented on how they thought were the only Riddifords, rarely coming across others with the same surname.  That’s what I used to think growing up in Hamilton in the 70s and 80s.  Mum, Dad and I were the only three Riddifords anywhere in the world except for Grandpa and Grandma Riddiford and my uncles in Ballarat.  How wrong we were!


They Were Not Alone

I used to imagine life for my great-grandmother, Caroline Kirkin, arriving in Victoria in 1913, with husband Thomas Riddiford and  five sons and the difficulties she faced as a woman in such circumstances.  Hardly pioneer times, but without siblings and parents, and living in the small country town of Smeaton, north of Ballarat, she must have felt alone.  She may not have had the companionship of other women at a time when she was raising small children with more on the way.  In time, she would have made friends, but  would that have been the same as having family to share memories of growing up in London, a long way removed from country Victoria.

I have also considered life for Susan Reed, my ggg grandmother and wife of James Harman.  She arrived at Portland in 1852, a new bride at 22.  As assisted immigrants, James had to work for a local property owner to repay their passage, and Susan would have been left alone.  Babies began to arrive in 1854 and James would have been busy establishing a life for them.  Images that would come to mind resembled a Frederick McCubbin painting.

Even Rosanna Buckland, who has led me on a merry chase, has evoked similar feelings within me.  I felt for her on her on the treacherous voyage to Australia on the “Bombay” and then living in the “bush” at Mt William station with her husband James Mortimer.

Later in my research, when I began to investigate the siblings of  these three women,  my picture of their lives in Australia changed.  I snapped out of my romantic imaginings to the reality that these women had a greater support system than first thought.  They were definitely not alone.

Susan Read left siblings, including a brother William, at home in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.  Searching the Victorian BDM’s for Susan’s death record, using just parent names, brought up a William Reed who died at Muddy Creek, in 1889 with the same parents as Susan.  I had found Susan’s brother living just down the road from her.  William married Sarah Burgin in 1866 and they had seven children mostly in the Warrabkook area.

Woman of mystery Rosanna Buckland, was not the only member of her family who could lay claim to the title.  Rosanna had a younger sister Elizabeth, who married Richard Myhill in Berkshire in 1851.  While browsing the passenger list of the “Bombay“, the Mortimer immigrant ship, I found Richard and Elizabeth Myhill also on board.  Elizabeth got off the ship, but where she went after that is unknown.  Richard Myhill shows up time and time again in the records and newspapers, but married to Isabella Ross (1860) not Elizabeth Buckland.  So at least for some part, Rosanna had the support of her sister, who may have been a welcome helping hand on the “Bombay“.

Caroline Kirkin had a younger sister Ada.  Ada married Frederick Sturdy in London in 1911 and  had three children by the time Caroline departed for Australia.  By 1914, Ada, Frederick and children were themselves sailing for Australia.  I first found this after a search of Frederick William Sturdy at Ancestry brought up a match on the Australian Electoral Rolls.  The record listed his wife as Ada Sturdy and they were living in Sturt Street, Ballarat, the same town as Caroline.  How could I have not known about Caroline’s sister and her family?  No-one had ever mentioned them. The Sturdys stayed on in Ballarat before moving to Melbourne sometime around the outbreak of WW2 as Frederick had enlisted.

Caroline Celia Ann Kirkin

But wait that’s not all.  I was researching Caroline’s father Frederick Kirkin, who lived and died in London.  He was from a family of ten children, so I proceeded to find out more about them.  I knew that Frederick’s sister had married a Henry Smith, and it was another search at Ancestry  which brought up a match for Elizabeth Rose Smith on the Australian Electoral Rolls in 1919 at Geelong.  A search of her death record showed she was in fact a Kirkin.  Elizabeth and Henry had three daughters, two I have confirmed came to Australia, but at the time I did not follow them up further.  All along Caroline’s aunt and cousins were living in Geelong.

But wait that’s not all.  Recently Dad told me he had thought of the two families he boarded with in Geelong as a teenager.  He had talked of them in the past, by name, but names I was not familiar with.  He thought maybe they were related to Grandpa, and I immediately thought of Riddiford relatives, although I thought I had them covered.  I completely overlooked a possible Kirkin link.   I worked back from the death and cemetery records of the couples.  To my surprise, the wives of each of these families had the maiden name Smith, none other than Emily Eliza and Elizabeth May, daughters of Henry and Elizabeth Smith.  They had married Fred Baverstock and Fred Harrison in Geelong.  Dad had been boarding with his first cousins twice removed and did not know it.

But wait that’s not all.  Whilst this research was going on, I found a UK Incoming Passenger List  record for Caroline’s parents, Henry and Amy Kirkin.  They had arrived in London in 1926 from Melbourne. Nothing unusual with that. They may  have visited daughters Caroline and Ada and sister Elizabeth, but what was that reference to their last place of permanent residency? New Zealand? A search for people researching the Kirkin name revealed one with a New Zealand email address.  I contacted him, asking if he had any clues. I mentioned a daughter, Ivy, who I had found no trace of in English records.  Could she have been in New Zealand?  He replied that Ivy did go to New Zealand, married and he was her grandson. His father had mentioned that Henry and Amy had gone to New Zealand on holiday to visit their daughter.   He was not aware of them living there for an extended period.   More research is required on Henry and Amy’s New Zealand adventure, as while they returned to England in 1926,  they were on the 1928 New Zealand electoral roll.  They both died in London, Amy in 1929 and Henry in 1935.

Suddenly I had Kirkin relatives in both Victoria and New Zealand.  A long way from thinking that Carolyn was the only Kirkin in the Southern Hemisphere.

So with my romantic illusions shattered, I am reminded that often the lives we perceive for our ancestors is not always as it was.  The more information we can gather goes a long way to creating a realistic picture of their lives.  Researching brothers and sisters of direct ancestors can help fill in some of the gaps and if you are like me, the brothers and sisters sometimes led more interesting lives.

While I cannot forget the many pioneer women who did suffer hardship from isolation, not seeing another woman for months, these three women were not in that category.  Aside from the arrival of a relative, in Susan’s case, she may have formed networks via the families’ strong links with the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Rosanna could have shared the company of the other station hand wives, living and working at Mount William station.  Despite feeling somewhat cheated by my discoveries that Susan, Rosanna and Caroline’s lives may not have been as I first thought, I am now compensated  by having Kirkin and Read/Reed links close to home.  Rosanna still owes me!


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