Tag Archives: Riddiford

Stretching My Genealogy Muscles

If you’ve read my recent Bloggers’ Geneameme response,  you would know I often work on blog posts in my head while completing mundane tasks such as cooking dinner.  It must have been the child friendly Macaroni Cheese last night that allowed me to switch my mind off the job at hand and consider in-depth, a couple of the benefits of blogging for me.

For 10 years, I used The Master Genealogist (TMG) software. The Narrative report was my favourite because I like to see my family history in story form as it gives me a better perspective of dates and events.  A perfect example of how that format works for me is the post I wrote on September 15 for the Riddiford Centenary.  I have looked at the various dates for my great grandparents and their children time and time again.  But when I put them down in narrative form for the post, there staring me in the face was the fact that my oldest great-uncle was born only 5 months after his parents married.  Further on in the post I mention the birth of the last child in the family when my great-grandmother was 43.  I then wrote there was an age span of 26 years from oldest to youngest child.  Hang on a minute…43 take away 26 is…OMG Caroline was only 17!

With the TMG Narrative report, I could alter the wording of the built-in text plus add extra narrative.  It was fun, for a while,  but it was never right for me.  I switched over to Family Tree Maker about five years ago. While I missed TMG, the user interface with Ancestry. com.au ,my main reason for change because I’m lazy, was a big plus for me when it came to transferring vital records.  But I haven’t been able to present my data in the same way I did with the TMG Narrative report.

Also, I’ve always wanted to see the “big picture” of my ancestors’ lives, where they lived, what they did, the history of their towns and the events happening around them at the time of their lives.  That resulted in 100s of web page bookmarks about villages in England, histories of occupations and the like.  But what could I do with them?  I tried to write a history of the Harman family a couple of times trying different formats but  it didn’t feel right.  I felt it was a lot of work for little gain, in that it would sit on my hard drive and go nowhere.  I lacked motivation.

Circa 1930. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H84.165/1 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/197430

Circa 1930. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H84.165/1 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/197430

That’s where blogging comes in.  With this method I can write my family history in parts, swapping between branches to keep it interesting.  I can include the “big picture” and someone else gets to read what I write regularly, other than me.  Also, and this was the main theme behind my mind wanderings, it has stretched me.  It has forced me to dig deeper and think laterally, forced me to tidy up vital records on my software that I hadn’t followed up and be more aware of my genealogy time management.  Now, after just over two years and 245 posts,  I have collected stories about all branches of my family and posts relevant to the times and places they lived.  This would have been unachievable for me if I didn’t act and take up geneablogging.

Physical training at P. T. & R. School (ca 1942) Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria,Argus newspaper collection of war photographs. World War II. Image No. H98.105/4467  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/197430

Physical training at P. T. & R. School (ca 1942) Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria,Argus newspaper collection of war photographs. World War II. Image No. H98.105/4467 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/197430

As my mind wandered further,  I thought of something that has stretched me, or at least my genealogy muscles, more than blogging and that is the Diploma of Historical Research I’m currently undertaking.  It includes writing  a 20,000 word family history.  My stretching regime has had some changes and I am finding muscles I had forgotten about or didn’t know I had:

  • I am now forced to record my sources more accurately (I can’t link through to a website to prove my sources as I do here).
  • Now I have to get the more difficult to access records (for me anyway) that won’t tell me anything new, but will support my evidence.  My aforementioned laziness has not been the issue here but rather the barriers of work, child rearing and distance.  Now there are no excuses,  I have to stretch myself beyond those barriers.
  • Organization is now key and for me, that is a real stretch.
  • I have realised that even after researching the Harmans (the subjects of my thesis) as long I have, there is still so much more to find, so many gaps to fill.
  • There is a strict deadline.  While I have loose deadlines for my blog posts, I can move them a little.  I can’t do that with the Diploma and I keep having visions of my Uni days, pumping out assignments with only days to spare before the due date, simply because I had left it to the last minute.  A lot more work on that muscle is required.

One of the benefits of this extreme stretching will be that I will have written that Harman family history I have not been motivated enough to write before.  The extra exertion will be worth it for that reason alone.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Photographer William Henry Freeman (1946) Image No. 126994 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/126994/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Photographer William Henry Freeman (1946) Image No. 126994 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/126994/

So, if you want to start stretching your genealogy muscles start a blog.  Geneablogging was exactly what I was looking for but if you really want to stretch those muscles, complete a course or maybe  write a book.   Whatever your choice, get stretching, it feels good.


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.

RIDDIFORD

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.

IMG_1478

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.

IMG_1487

MEMORIAL STONE OF PERCY & MAVIS RIDDIFORD, BALLARAT CREMATORIUM

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


Z is for…Zero, Zilch, Zip

The Gould Genealogy Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge has reached its zenith and I have nothing to offer.  My main purpose of this post is to thank Gould Genealogy  for running the challenge for the past 26 weeks and although I have only contributed four posts, they have all been great fun to write.

Congratulations must also go to those who were able to offer a post for every letter from A-Z with such zest.  A fantastic effort and I have enjoyed reading many of them.  All the posts are at Gould Genealogy & History News under each individual letter.

I possibly could have come up with a few more myself, but with time constraints I thought I would just highlight a couple of letters that meant the most to my family history.  Initially that would be letter “H” and “R” but  two other letters inspired me along the way.  In case you missed, my posts were:

“H” is for …

“I” is for…Investigation

“M” is for…Methodist

“R” is for…Riddiford

For the letter “Z” I did consider Zumsteins, a lovely little place in the Grampians known in the past for its kangaroos.  I enjoyed visiting as a child but it is only a small part of my family history.

I will take this opportunity, however, to mention that Zumsteins celebrates 100 years of settlement this year.  Sadly, because of  bad flooding in the Grampians during the early part of 2011, birthday celebrations are postponed until 2013.  Zumsteins was badly damaged and a culture heritage overlay has, apparently, delayed restoration plans.

The exciting part is the Horsham Historical Society are producing a book to mark the occasion.  They are looking for photos and memories of Zumsteins.  If you would like to share, please contact the Horsham Historical Society


Trove Tuesday – From the Heart

Not only do I have Western District families, I have West Gippsland families.  The Combridges, Hunts and Whites resided around Grantville and Wonthaggi.

My great great grandfather was Culmer Thomas White, born in Thanet, Kent, England in 1857.  Culmer  descended from the Culmer and White familes, well-known in Kent for their boat building businesses at Broadstairs.  The two families came together around 1714 when John White married Mary Culmer.  Culmer’s father, great grandfather and and gg grandfather were all named Culmer White.  There are several other Culmer’s including my gg uncle Culmer William White and William Culmer White, Culmer’s 2nd cousin 1 x removed, who also immigrated to Melbourne, and his son Culmer Reuben White.

Almost everything I have found in the newspapers about Culmer Thomas White has been a treasure.  None more so than this heartfelt letter written to Reverend Henry Howard in 1927 which was then passed on by the Reverend to the West Gippsland Gazette.  Culmer was 70 at the time of writing.

Rev. Henry Howard. (1927, July 5). West Gippsland Gazette (Warragul, Vic. : 1898 – 1930) , p. 1 Edition: MORNING.. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68643758

It is a touching letter as Culmer gives his thanks to Reverend Howard, shows his pride in his children and expresses his feelings at that time in his life, happy but at times lonely.

Culmer’s wife, my great great grandmother, was Alice Elizabeth Hunt, daughter of  William Henry Hunt and Margaret Beatty, immigrants from Middlesex, England.  Alice was born at Chilwell, Victoria in 1857.

Culmer died in 1938 at Wonthaggi and Alice in 1940 at Bass.  They are buried together at the Grantville cemetery.

Culmer and Alice’s youngest child, Myrtle Rose White, married Les Combridge in 1919.  They had five children, four daughters and one son.  One of those daughters was my Grandma, Mavis Combridge, later to marry Percy Riddiford.

Grandma passed away in 2007, but I did get to ask her about her grandparents Culmer and Alice, prior to her death.  She told me the story of how she and her three younger sisters would stay at their grandparent’s house.  Culmer would pick them up in a horse and cart and they would sit in the back as he drove them to his house.  He was a “lovely man” according to Grandma.  As is the way, there is still so much I would like to ask her about them.

I am very lucky as I still have a living link to Culmer and Alice, via my great Auntie Jean.  I have also spoken to her about her grandparents and she reiterated Grandma’s words that Culmer was a “lovely man”.  When I found this letter, I printed it out and sent it to Auntie Jean. She was thrilled.  I have sent her some of the other articles I have found about him and she has enjoyed being taken back in time.  I wish Grandma could have seen this wonderful letter.


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!


Trove Tuesday

a collection or store of valuable or delightful things

(Oxford Dictionary)

No better words could be used to describe the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.  If you have read a few of my posts, you would know I’m a big Trove fan.    A recent post by Jill Ball at her blog Geniaus, mentioned an initiative by Amy Houston which interested me.  Amy on her blog Branches, Leaves and Pollen, told how she too is a fan of Trove and invited Australian bloggers to join her on Tuesdays each week to blog about the treasures we have found at Trove.

I have many Trove treasures and a lot of my blog posts are about those.  At first I thought I would not take part merely because I didn’t think I could choose just one a week.    Where would I start?  That is much like asking me to name my favourite book or film of all time.  I just can’t do it.  But, as Amy suggests  the treasure don’t always have to be about a family member it could be anything of interest.

I can do that.  How often have you found a newspaper article about a family member, only to find the article, above, below or beside  just as interesting.  I’m into advertisements too and I always read them.  There are some absolute gems, so expect to see some of those on Tuesdays.

Due to time constraints this week, I thought I would begin with a recap of some of  my posts that highlight the benefits of Trove to family historians, particularly the digitised newspapers.   Without the newspapers, there is much that I wouldn’t know about my ancestors. Even hours of record searching couldn’t unearth what I have found.

In fact, the papers lead me to the records.  Whether it is records from courts or cemeteries, sporting clubs or churches, Trove has led me there.  Not only is it a time saver, many of the leads I have found come from places I would never have thought of searching.

These are some of my treasures to date:

Witness for the Prosecution – The story of three of my relatives who were witnesses in murder trials.  I believe two of those stories, that of my ggg grandmother Margaret Diwell and my grandfather Percy Riddiford, would have remained hidden if it wasn’t for Trove.

Alfred Winslow Harman – Stepping out of the Shadows – I knew little about Alfred Harman before I starting an intensive search for him in the Trove digitized newspapers.  Now I know so much more.

Nina’s Royal Inspiration – The story of Nina Harman and her carpet really is delightful.  As Nina is not a close family member, I possibly would not have known this story without finding her direct descendants.  Instead I found it in a Women’s Weekly at Trove!

To Catch a Thief – Ordinarily,  to find Jim Bishop’s brush with the law, I would have had to search the Branxholme Court Registers held at PROV‘s Ballarat Archives Centre.  Not too hard, but with so many people to research and so many towns on the Victorian court circuit, it may have been a long time before I found it.  Thanks to an article in the Border Watch, that time in Jim’s life is now known to me.

All Quiet By the Wannon – The Mortimer family of Cavendish kept to themselves.  Articles I found at Trove finally gave my ggg James Mortimer a voice.

Mr Mortimer’s Daughters - Another Mortimer puzzle solved thanks to Trove.  From Henry Mortimer’s death notice in the Portland Guardian, I was able to establish the married name of one daughter and a second marriage of another daughter.

There are list of Western Victorian newspapers available at Trove on my Links page.

Don’t forget there are other great treasures that can be found while searching at Trove.  Look beyond the newspaper matches as you never know what might come up in the other categories.  I have found photos of family members and some great early photos of Western Victorian towns while searching.  Trove is also great for tracking down books.

I will try to post something each Tuesday.  Thank you to Amy for the idea and I hope other Australian geneabloggers get involved too.

Show us your treasure and celebrate Trove!


Surname Saturday Meme: Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

Following the lead of U.S. genealogist Thomas MacEntee and  in turn Australian genealogist Jill Ball, I decided to take part in this meme.  It interested me more than others I had seen, because not only would I get my names “out there”, I also got the chance to do a stocktake.  What an interesting exercise it was.  With some names, I did not have to look up the details as I knew them so well, others I had to refer back to my tree, and for one name, I had basically nothing.

It’s easy to develop favourite families, with some just oozing information making them more compelling to research.  The Harmans are an example of that.  The Riddiford line was probably my least favourite  and despite it being my family name, I tended to pass it by. When I did starting seriously researching them, I found loads of information.  This avoidance was probably due to them being 20th century immigrants and my history interests lie in 19th century Australia.  I had no choice but to delve into 18th and 19th century English history and I have really enjoyed it and learnt a lot and I continue to do so.  I am glad I got over my previous mindset.

I also have more Irish links than I normally given myself credit for and I can now clearly see the branches I have been neglecting.

I have included the surnames of my great great grandparents, but I have taken the places and dates back a little further.  If not, I would have had entries with just a single place in Australia with no indication of where the family originated from.

To take part, just do the following at your own blog, then post a  link in the comments at Thomas’ blog post

1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:

[SURNAME]: Country, (State or County, Town), date range;

2. At the end, list your Most Wanted Ancestor with details about them.

MY NAMES, PLACES AND MOST WANTED FACES:

BISHOP:  England (Dorset, Weymouth) 1825-1850; Australia (South Australia, Adelaide) 1850-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Byaduk)1854-1950

COMBRIDGE:  England (Huntingdonshire) 1833-1855;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong 1855-1935);  Australia (Victoria, Grantville) 1900-1950

DIWELL:  England (Sussex) 1825-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Casterton) 1852-1893;  Australia (Victoria, Hamilton) 1893-1940

GAMBLE:  England 1808-1840;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1840-1850;  Australia (Victoria, Colac), 1850-present

HADDEN:  Scotland (East Lothian) 1823-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1852-1865;  Australia (Victoria, Cavendish) 1865-1975;  Australia (Victoria, Hamilton) 1900-present

HARMAN:  England (Cambridgeshire, Melbourn) 1800-1854;  Australia (New South Wales) 1852-1857;  Australia (Victoria, Port Fairy) 1852-1863;  Australia (Victoria, Byaduk) 1863-present

HODGINS:  Ireland (Fermanagh) 1816-1853;  Australia (Victoria, Colac) 1853-1940

HUNT:  England (Middlesex, Poplar) 1834-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1854-1865; Australia (Victoria, Collingwood) 1867- ;  Australia (Victoria, West Gippsland) 1880-1936

JELLY:  Ireland (Down, Drumgooland) 1815-1845;  England (Lancashire, Manchester) 1845-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Casterton) 1854-1900

KIRKIN:  England (London, Lambeth) 1859-1940;

MORTIMER:  England (Berkshire, White Waltham) 1823-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Cavendish) 1865-1930

PIDDINGTON:  England (Buckinghamshire, Cuddington) 1700s-1880

RIDDIFORD:  England (Gloucestershire, Thornbury) 1600s-present; England (Buckinghamshire, Cuddington) 1846-present;  England (London, Lambeth) 1896-1913; Australia (Victoria, Ballarat) 1913-present

WEBB:  England (Surrey, Clapham) 1845-1878; England (London, Lambeth) 1878-1900

WHITE:  England (Kent, Broadstairs) 1857-1876;  Australia (Victoria, Grantville) 1876-1950

WYATT:  ???

MOST WANTED ANCESTOR:

When I started this I thought my most wanted ancestor would be gg grandmother Mary Jane HODGINS.  She was born in Ireland around 1849, immigrated with her parents West HODGINS  and Martha BRACKIN in 1853 aboard the “Marion Moore” . She married Matthew GAMBLE in 1871 at Colac.  That is all I know except for the accident which saw Mary Jane loose the top of her finger, as mentioned in the post Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses.

However, when I looked at the completed list it seemed clear it had to be Jane WYATT, another gg grandmother and second wife of Herbert John COMBRIDGE.

I had previously found a birth for a Jane Wyatt born 1882, St Arnuad but this did not really add up, mainly because my Jane Wyatt married Herbert Combridge in 1895 in Gippsland.  If I searched the Australian Death Index 1787-1985, I find the death of Jane COMBRIDGE in 1909 at Grantville but with no approximate birth year or parents.

As I was writing this post, I decided to have a look around for Jane again.  I checked for people researching Combridges at Ancestry.com and found a reference to Jane’s birth in 1873.  I searched again with this birth date and that threw up something interesting.  There is a Jane Wyatt listed on the Victorian Index to the Children’s Register of State Wards, 1850-1893.  Her birth date is given as 1873, but no birth place.  This could be my Jane and it could explain the lack of parent names  and birth year on the Death index.

So, thanks to this exercise, I may have come a step closer to finding Jane Wyatt, but if she was a ward of the state, I may not be able to find anything else about her.  So if anyone has information on Mary Jane HODGINS and her family, I would love to her from you!


Witness for the Prosecution

Searching old newspapers has uncovered three family members who were either mentioned or were witnesses at three separate murder trials.  They were my ggg grandmother, a cousin and to my surprise, my grandfather.

The earliest of these was known at the time as the “Casterton Murders” . My ggg grandmother Margaret Ann Turner, (Mrs Diwell)  was mentioned at an inquest in February 1860, which ended with Casterton man, George Waines, being placed on trial for the murder of Robert and Mary Hunt, also of Casterton.

The Hunts had not been seen since 1858, with many believing they had left the colony.  George Waines claimed he had brought furniture off them, but rumours  spread around the town that George may have been responsible for their disappearance.  The local police investigated and where unable to find the Hunts in the other colonies or New Zealand.

Margaret was mentioned in evidence by Dugald Campbell -

THE CASTERTON MURDER. (1860, February 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64513414

This was a gruesome murder, but it captured the attention of people around Australia.  I found 60 articles from four states.  Many are detailed, including  forensic evidence, a letter to the editor from the autopsy surgeon and George’s confession.  He was eventually hung at Melbourne Gaol.

The second murder trial had it all.  Small country town, married Methodist preacher, a young, single,  grazier’s daughter and arsenic.  A search at Trove for “Omeo 1928″ brings up hundreds of articles.  There is also a Western District connection.

Ronald Griggs moved to Omeo to take up the role of Methodist minister, moving into the residence with wife Ethel.  Originally from Tasmania,  Ronald and Ethel were welcomed into the community by the elders of the church including John Condon and his wife Frances.

OMEO MURDER CASE. (1928, March 8). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 9. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57042062

GRIGGS NOT GUILTY. (1928, April 21). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1228707

After meeting John and Frances’ daughter Lottie, Ronald (right) was a regular visitor to the Condon property.  Ethel was pushed to the outer and after giving birth to their first child, she returned to Tasmania  spend time with her parents.

Ronald and Lottie’s “meetings’ became more frequent, but Ethel (left), inconveniently for Ronald, returned to Omeo.  Only days later, she fell ill and died after several days of severe pain.  Thanks to a suspicious local policeman, the case was taken further and Ethel’s body was exhumed for an autopsy.  Arsenic was present in her body.  Ronald was charged with murder.

Henry Harman was the son of Walt Harman and grandson of Joseph Harman.  He was a well known Ensay grazier and Omeo Methodist church elder.  He was called to give evidence against Ronald Griggs, described as a friend.

OMEO WOMAN'S DEATH. (1928, February 29). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 24. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3914287

I  found a photo of Henry, along with some of the other key witnesses, in the Barrier Miner, a NSW paper which continues to reward me with articles about my Western Victorian family.  It is becoming a reliable but most unlikely source.

S. (1928, March 2). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46008416″%5D

WITNESSES AT THE OMEO INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH OF MRS. ETHEL CONSTANCE GRIGGS

After two trials, the jury retired to decide its verdict.  According to the Canberra Times, thousands waited on the street outside the court to hear the decision.  Ronald Griggs was acquitted, however his infamy dogged him.  He changed his name and continued to preach, but as his photo had been seen around the country, he was found out.  He struggled to find work and the newspapers followed him for months after.

The Western District connection? Henry was born in Byaduk in 1880 as was his sister Susannah Nash Harman.  She  married  William Condon, cousin of Lottie’s father John.  The Condons first settled in the Portland area, before some of the family moved to Omeo.  Lottie’s mother Frances Ethel Huggins was born at Macarthur in 1883 and her family moved to the Omeo area around 1888.  This  is around the time Henry’s father Walt Harman took his family to the High Country

For more reading about the case there is a book by Reg Egan,  Lottie: A love affair with a man of God and the cruel death that shocked Australia with Henry Harman a key character.  Murder case aside, it offers an insight into life in a small Victorian town in the 1920s.  I have also a public list of newspaper articles at Trove on the case under the heading “Griggs murder

Finally, the “Body under the staircase” trial of fish monger Thomas Garrity, charged with the murder of widow Rose Harvey on April 28, 1931.  Rose had met up with Garrity for a few drinks at a local hotel and they returned by tram to the residence adjoining Garrity’s shop in Port Melbourne.  Police later found Rose’s body stuffed in a cupboard under the stairs of the residence.

Percy Riddiford was a 27 year old, single man from Ballarat,  boarding at his brother’s home in Port Melbourne.  He worked on the trams, based at the Camberwell depot and happened to be working the day Thomas Garrity  and Rose Harvey travelled his route.  As a result, he was required to appear as a witness to assist in determining the movements of Garrity on that day.

BODY UNDER STAIRCASE. (1931, May 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 9. Retrieved August 10, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4400320

Garrity claimed that unknown men had visited his home on that night, proceeded to get him drunk then robbed his till.  He claimed that they must have killed Rose.  The judge considered that Garrity could not have put her body under the stairs without help and reduced his charge to manslaughter.  He received 18 months jail with hard labour.  Garrity pleaded his innocence after sentencing.

This was an event in my grandfather’s life that he kept to himself.  The first my father and uncles had heard of it was when I told them of the articles I had found.  He was one to keep things to himself,  so it was good to find out something of his early life.


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