Emigration from England to South Australia in the 1800s...

The “Mayflower” is ‘the ship’ in US history. The first ship to transport passengers from England to the United States in 1620. 102 people, all hoping to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. Well, in South Australian history the “Buffalo” is the equivalent. It was one of a fleet of ships to arrive in the colony at the end of 1836. Once it arrived at Glenelg, Governor John Hindmarsh who was on board, proclaimed the establishment of government in South Australia as a British province. From then on, there was a big push to get skilled labourers from England to emigrate to the new colony, and as an enticement they were offered free passage (assisted passage). Of course there was still the option for anyone who wished to emigrate to pay their own way (known as unassisted passage), but many took up the offer of the emigration scheme, and as a result these pioneers helped make South Australia what it is today. But as with anything that’s free, there were some rules and regulations. I came across this list of rules for those wanting assisted passage in the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, dated 27 February 1839, and it’s truly fascinating. RULES FOR EMIGRATION The Act of Parliament declares that the whole of the funds arising from the sale of lands, and the rent of pasture, shall form an Emigration Fund, to be employed in affording a free passage to the Colony from Great Britain and Ireland for poorer persons; “provided that they shall, as far as possible, be adult persons of both sexes in equal proportions, and not exceeding the age of 30 years.” With a view to carrying this provision into effect, the Commissioners...

The Top Hat, the Riot, and the £500 Fine...

On this day 220 years ago, 15 January 1797, something lifechanging happened. The world of fashion changed on that day. Top hats were created. Yes, that right. The fashion icon of the upperclass and gentry in the Edwardian and Victorian eras, and a must have accessory for anyone who’s into Steampunk style, was created. But not all went smoothly for the creator John Hetherington, as his newly designed head attire caused a riot. The condensed version of story is as follows … The first Top Hat was worn by haberdasher John Hetherington on 15 January 1797, in London, England. When Heatherington stepped from his shop at 11am wearing his unusual headgear, a crowd quickly gathered to stare. The gathering soon turned into a crowd crush as people pushed and shoved against each other, resulting in a broken arm for one person there. As a result, Hetherington was summoned to appear in court before the Lord Mayor and fined £500 for breaching the peace. He was also charged with appearing “on the public highway wearing a tall structure of shining lustre and calculated to terrify people, frighten horses and disturb the balance of society”. However, within a month, he was overwhelmed with orders for the new headwear. Trove has many articles detailing the “origin of the Top Hat”. Here’s a few of the longer versions of the story if you wish to check them out. – How the First Silk Hat Startled London, Launceston Examiner, 17 February 1899 – The First Silk Hat, Evening News Sydney, 25 February 1899 – The First Top Hat, Canberra Times, 10 June 1927 Personally I’m totally thankful to John Hetherington, as I’m a lover of the Victorian era style, and really LOVE top hats,...

Postman’s Park: Every Name Has a Story...

As a family historian I believe that every name truly has a story. But it is true that some have more story than others. Today I would like to introduce you to “Postman’s Park” which is in London, England. This is a place that I visited while I was in England back in 2014. And I admit that it wasn’t a place I knew of the prior to my visit, but to say it’s sobering is an understatement. It gave me the same feeling that you get when you visit a war memorial. Yes, you know that feeling. Anyway Wikipedia describes the park as … “Postman’s Park is a park in central London, a short distance north of St Paul’s Cathedral. Bordered by Little Britain, Aldersgate Street, St. Martin’s Le Grand, King Edward Street, and the site of the site of the former headquarters of the General Post Office (GPO)” But what makes this park special? “Postman’s Park apart from being a beautiful park which contains headstones, also contains 54 memorial tablets (or plaques) that commemorate 62 individuals (men, women and children), each of whom lost their life while attempting to save another. It is a park that has memorials for heroic self-sacrifice.” The park idea started back in 1887 when Victorian artist George Frederic Watts wrote a letter to The Times newspaper entitled ‘Another Jubilee Suggestion’. In this letter, he put forward a plan to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee by erecting a monument to commemorate ‘heroism in every-day life’. It took until 1900, but this idea was eventually realised and his Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice came to be. The memorials are printed on tiles, and mounted on a wall. And each one of those plaques most certainly...

Discovering Links: 25 FREE Links for English Genealogy and History...

Here’s another of my “Discovering Links” post. These posts consist of a collection of links that I have discovered, or found useful, and want to share with others. But rather than simply giving you a whole batch of random links each time, I am grouping them by Australian state, country or topic. You can see my previous Discovering Links posts here. For this one I’ve decided to share my English links (together with a few covering specific counties). It is not intended to be an exhaustive collection of links (not by a long shot), but they are simply ones that many will find useful, and it may include some that you may not have known about. And while many people think that genealogy costs a lot of money, let me tell you that all of the links below are free. Personally I find that it’s often a matter of knowing where to look beyond the big-name websites, and hopefully this will help with that. === ENGLAND GENERAL === PORTRAIT AND STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHERS IN THE UK: 19th AND EARLY 20th CENTURY A work-in-progress site, this site has a database collection of details of portrait and studio photographers from a number of English counties. GEOGRAPH This is not a website with historical content, but rather one that is recording the present for the future. The Geograph Britain and Ireland project aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland, and you can be part of it. GENEALOGY DOCUMENTS This is a website that has grown out of a passion for collecting and transcribing historical documents. With a comprehensive place and surname index it makes it easy to see if there is any name...

The Castle, the Gatekeeper and the Inn Keeper!...

This story starts back in 1829 in Lancashire (England), but my introduction to it was actually less than year ago. When I was over in England in August 2014 with some of my family, one thing that my dad really wanted to do, was to visit Lancaster Castle in Lancashire, as his great great grandpa (William Todd Hayhurst) worked there as a warden. This was a story I’d vaguely heard before, but not followed up. Afterall there’s only so many families that you can trace at once. But on going to the castle, I thought I’d better do some digging. After all, a ancestor who worked at a castle is kinda cool, eh? My first surprise when researching this family was to find out that Lancaster Castle, which is most certainly is a castle, wasn’t actually used as one. Well, not for the past 900 years or so anyway. In fact it’s been used as a jail, housing many thousands of people who were debtors, petty criminals, murderers and witches. The tour of the castle was amazing, even if we weren’t allowed to go in ALL parts. It was incredible to think that this 1000 or so year old mega-structure is even still standing. And that people lived and died in this prison – including many hangings – which by the way, were a public attraction of the day, even in the late 1800s. Now back to 1829. William TODD, born to Margaret TODD was christened  on 25 October 1829 at Cockerham, Lancashire. Note: no father mentioned. However less than a year after that, I find that Margaret Todd was living at Quernmore in Lancashire … as was Thomas Hayhurst, whose wife had died a little while before, leaving him...

Randell/Randle Headstones at Berry Pomeroy, Devon...

Have you ever been to a cemetery and transcribed headstones? Who am I kidding … of course you have! Well I had too, but just to local cemeteries around my own state of South Australia. But on my trip to England earlier this year I got to not only visit so many ancestral towns, but also find and transcribe a bunch of ancestors headstones too. In this post I want to share with you the photos that I took at the little town of Berry Pomeroy in Devon, but first here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the town …  “Berry Pomeroy is a village, civil parish and former manor in the former hundred of Haytor, today within South Hams district of Devon, England, about two miles east of Totnes. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 973.” This is a town that my Randell family has connections to, and as you would expect all genie-nuts to do, we made a bee-line straight to the local church looking for graves. Before I get into the graves themselves, I should start off by mentioning that my emigrating Randell ancestors all had their surname spelt as RANDELL. However their baptism records from Devon all clearly show RANDLE. And just to confuse the issue, the passenger list they’re on to me looks like RANDALL (you can view the “Hartley” passenger list from 1837 here). I don’t know why the change in spelling, but at least it’s been consistent since they came out. Now back to the headstones … this was a very cool cemetery. Lots of old graves that surround the church as I guess many are in England. Some were angled facing downwards, and while I thought that...

The Postie Arrived!

Are the days of impatiently waiting for the postman to deliver a letter that you’re eagerly awaiting over? Sadly I think they ‘almost’ are. Thanks largely to email, the days of receiving a letter in the post has almost completely died. Honestly I cannot remember when I last received something that wasn’t a bill, a letter from the bank offering me a new credit card, or details of what’s happening in my area from my local council. But for the past two weeks I have been eagerly checking my letterbox daily. So what has got me so excited? Certificates of course. What genienut doesn’t LOVE certificates? I recently splurged and ordered nine certificates from the General Register Office (GRO) in a bid to verify the children on my 3x great grandparents – well at least those from the first marriage. And after 20 days of waiting (the GRO offer the quickest service), they arrived today. This stash of certificates all relate to my HAYHURST family from Lancaster in Lancashire, which I’ve recently started researching. Hayhurst. it sounds like a cool name. Not too hard. Afterall it’s not like Smith or Brown is it. Wrong! At least when you get to Lancaster! Apparently the name in that region dates back hundreds of years, and of course every family has a William, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth and Margaret and a John. So rather than rely on the transcriptions which have been fabulously transcribed by the Lancashire OPCs, I decided to get copies of the originals to verify everthing. While this research is still a work in progress, what I have found so far indicates the following: William HAYHURST b. abt 1830 m1. 1848 Jane JACKSON d. 1869 1. Mary Ann HAYHURST b....

Planes, Trains and Automobiles … And a Big Ship As Well...

Planes, maybe a train, and no doubt buses and taxis, as well as a big ship are what I will be experiencing soon, as in a few days time I’ll be on my way to London to go on Unlock the Past’s 5th cruise. So the suitcase is out, the passport is packed, and so are my European plugs, and my Unlock the Past cruise t-shirts. The rest I need to work out this weekend! This is Unlock the Past’s 5th history and genealogy cruise, and it will be first real international one, as all their previous cruises have left from either Australian or New Zealand ports. This one starts from London, then goes up to Scotland, around to Ireland, stops at the Islands, touches on France, and then heads back to London. So it’ll be quite a trip! There will be plenty to see, but what I’m REALLY going for is the conference onboard. I mean afterall we have speakers such as those listed below. And  who wouldn’t love to go hear them? – Lisa Louise Cooke (United States) the queen of podcasts – Marie Dougan (Scotland) – Jackie Depelle (England) – Paul Blake (England) – Eileen Ó Dúill (Ireland) – Sean  Ó Dúill (Ireland) – Rosemary Kopittke (Australia) – Helen Smith (Australia) – Mike Murray (Australia) – Lesley Silvester (Australia) There’s 40 or so talks scheduled, with pretty much any topic you can think of covered. Don’t believe me? Just check out the program! As people who know me know, I am rather internet-addicted. So being on a boat for 10 days without any internet just isn’t an option – and it’s why I was willing to pay big dollars for internet use on the previous cruises I’ve...

My Favourite Cornish Genealogy Websites (and They’re Free)...

While my own overseas research has taken a back seat for a little while, as I concentrate more on my Australian emigrants, and their families out here, I do have a strong connection to Cornwall with a number of my families hailing from there, as well as a few of Mr Lonetester’s gang too. As my Cornish roots are ones that I have traced reasonably extensively, I became familiar with a number of free websites that are useful for researching your Cornish ancestors. I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, just someone who’s researching their family history and came across a bunch of websites that I found useful. Anyway  thought I’d share my favourite ones with you here. This did start out as being a “top 10 list”, but as you can see it grew, and grew as I went through all the sites I have bookmarked under Cornish Genealogy <grin>. For this post I have chosen to exclude commercial data websites such as findmypast.co.uk, www.ancestry.co.uk, and thegenealogist.co.uk all of which I have used at various times, but those listed below are all free. A2A (Access to Archives) http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/advanced-search.aspx?tab=1 The A2A website is a seriously awesome website. It is an amazing resource not just for Cornwall, but for the whole of the UK. Archives and repositories around the UK have indexed much of their holdings, much of what you won’t actually find online. Cornwall Family History Society http://www.cornwallfhs.com/index.php Since its beginning in the mid-170s, the Society has aimed to become a ‘centre of excellence’ by encouraging Cornish family history research. Along with publishing a quarterly Journal, the Society has co-ordinated the transcription and indexing of over 5 million original records so far, as well maintaining a...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: A is for … A2A (Access to Archives)...

You might think hang on, what is she doing. Is she starting the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge again??  In short no, but let me explain. As I never actually did the letter A thanks to a lack of inspiration which lasted until about the letter J or so, and I really would like to complete the whole alphabet, I am doing it now. And I figured it was better to do it at the end, rather than right in the middle. So for my A post … A is for … A2A (Access to Archives) Some of you may have heard of the A2A website, others may not have. But for me it is one of the most amazing sites around. As part of the UK’s National Archives, the A2A database contains indexed listings of items and documents that archives throughout England hold. These records date from the eighth century to the present day. While it contains an impressive 10.3 million records relating to 9.45 million items held in 418 record offices and other repositories, the estimate is that this is still only about 30% of all records that the archive repositories hold. Even with only 10 million records (who am I kidding, 10 million records indexed is 10 million more than I would have known about had it not been for this site) this site is awesome. On the opening search screen, you can type in a keyword such as a name or a place, and see what comes up. However if you click on Advanced Search you can narrow it down to include “all these words”, choose a date range, choose a place, select a repository, or select a region. I nearly always just do...