Friday, 26 May 2017

Oh My, Miss Mary Prince: Part 2

Last year, I told you a story about Mary Alice Helena Prince, my 1st Cousin, 3x Removed.

Here is a brief summary -

Mary was born in 1894, Macksville, New South Wales to parents Harriett Helena Gill (1869 – 1953) and John Charles Prince (1855 – 1930). After her youngest sibling was born in 1912, she relocated to Melbourne with her parents. However, by 1930, she was back in New South Wales and living at Little Billabong Station, near Holbrook in New South Wales. She remained there until at least 1949; the last Electoral Roll I found that has her living at Little Billabong. 

Location of Little Billabong Station
[Source: Google Maps]

I had also discovered, thanks to Trove, that in 1953 Mary was suing John James McLaurin for breach of promise. John was a grazier at Little Billabong and to whom Mary was engaged for 21 years. In the end Mary was granted $1000 in damages for McLaurin's breach of promise. 

One of the many articles about the court case.
[Source: WOMAN SUES GRAZIER (1953, May 14). National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954),
p. 4. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from]
At the time of writing about Mary last year, I had learned that in 1963 Mary was living in Castle Hill, Sydney, except her surname was Lawson. In 1968, she was living in Swansea, Newcastle. In both electoral rolls there was no other Lawson at her address. I had not been able to find a marriage in Victoria or New South Wales. I wondered if she really married or changed her surname for some sort of protection. The court case was very publicized in newspapers all around Australia. Mary passed away in 1971 and I was not sure where she was buried either.  

Last month, I finally got around to ordering Mary's death certificate. 

Snippet of  a transcription of Mary's death certificate ordered from NSW Family History Transcriptions

What information am I most interested in? 

Name of Spouse: Christopher Bernard Lawson. A likely explanation as to how she changed her surname to Lawson.

Age at Marriage: 60. If Mary passed away at 76 years in 1971, her approximate marriage year is 1955. 

Place of Marriage: Box Hill, Victoria. Unfortunately, the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages historical index currently has marriages until 1942, which would explain why I could not find a marriage record for Mary.

Conjugal Status: Widow. This provides the assumption that Christopher passed away before 1971.

As Mary was living in New South Wales when she passed away, I searched the New South Wales BDM Index for a potential death record for a Christopher Lawson, including other spelling variants. Conclusion: Negatory.

I searched the Victoria BDM for a death record for a Christopher Lawson and was given the following result:

Name: Christian Bernard Lawson.
Death Year: 1966
Age: 77
Place: Mont Albert, Victoria. 
Father: Frederick Lawson
Mother: Mary Catherine Lyons

I immediately ordered his death certificate to find out more.
Cause of Death: Effects of injuries received when he was struck by a motor car. 
The verdict was declared at an inquest held by the coroner. 

Where Married: Mont Albert, Victoria.
Age: Unknown
To Whom: Mary Uren
Conjugal Condition at Death: Married
Children: No

Is this him? I am not sure yet. The informant was the coroner, so perhaps he did not know the correct information about this Mary Uren? I found Christian's birth record for the year 1889, but could not find a marriage before 1942 for a Surname Lawson to a First Name Mary. 

I found two Victorian Electoral Roll records for a Christian Bernard Lawson.
1 - 1949, Scott St, Vermont. 
2 - 1963, View St, Subdivision of Surrey Hills.

In 1963, Mary is listed in the electoral rolls as living in New South Wales. Both were living on their own. Keep in mind that sometimes people forgot to update their address when they moved. 

The Victorian BDM says that marriage certificates can be applied for without identification documents if the marriage occurred more than 60 years ago, and both parties are deceased. 60 years ago was 1957, and Mary and Christian are both deceased. I wonder if the Vic BDM will be able to help me? I would love to know if this Christian is indeed the Christopher Bernard Lawson on Mary's death certificate.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Janet Mackay, Is It You?

This past week, I have been researching the descendants of my 4x Great Uncle Hugh McKenzie Mackay. His son Angus (1857 NSW - 1929 QLD) had 2 marriages and 16 children. Angus' 3rd child, Janet Mackay, according to the baptism record, was born in New South Wales in 1887 to his first wife Jane. I had a number of leafy green hints for Janet which I had a look at. 

This led me to another tree that had Janet listed with two marriages - Richard Daley in 1911 and Harry Walters in 1945. But hang on a minute, I had just read her sister Sarah's obituary on Trove. Sarah had died in 1938 before she was 50, and I was hoping Trove would provide me with some clues as to why. I got more than that though - Sarah's obituary wonderfully listed all her siblings! Her sisters first names AND married names were given.  

Obituary of Sarah Stone, nee Mackay.
[Source: Mrs. Sarah Stone. (1938, July 12). The Wingham
Chronicle and Manning River Observer
(NSW : 1898 - 1954)
, p. 2.
Retrieved January 29, 2017,

Can you see Janet's name in the list of Sarah's siblings?

"Janet (Mrs J H Geelan, Elands)."

On the New South Wales Births Deaths and Marriages Index, the only marriage for a Janet Mackay & male Geelan is to a James Samuel Geelan in 1936, Taree (#3184/1936)

James passed away in 1947 – there’s an inquest and everything! And yep, his wife Janet is mentioned. 

If you are interested, here is a link to an article detailing the inquest - it is very long!

And his obituary...

I found a death on the NSW BDM for a Janet Geelan in 1954, with parents listed as Angus and Jane (#8318/1954). I guess it is time to order the death certificate and find out if this is her.

But what about this other tree?

Well, I checked it out and they are not a direct descendant of Janet, but of a sibling of Angus' first wife Jane. I guess this is another case of not believing in other public trees on Ancestry until you have done your own research. I would not want someone else coming along and taking the information from my tree to be 100% correct. We all make mistakes.        

So, will this death certificate tell me what I want to know? Is this Janet Geelan the Janet Mackay I am looking for? 

Time to play the waiting game.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

William Gow's Shares

Do you have shares in companies? I do not yet, but my Dad has been talking about setting me up with some shares. My Great Grandfather William Gow had shares in the North Central Broken Hill Silver Mining Company. Try saying that really fast 5 times in a row! 

Form confirming William Gow's purchase of 50 shares
[Personal Collection]
Finance and shares are not my forte at all. My understanding from this form is that on the 20th of December, 1895, William bought 50 shares in the company. If you look at the top of the form, you will see "dissolved in 1939" written. My Grandfather wrote that when, I assume, he was doing his own research. 

I jumped on Trove to have a look at what information there was about the North Central Broken Hill Silver Mining Company. 

[Source: Advertising (1891, August 14). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 3. 
Retrieved January 22, 2017, from]
It seems that the North Central Broken Hill Silver Mining Company started in 1891 and was an off-shoot of the Central Broken Hill Silver Mining Company.

[Source: I, THE undersigned, hereby make application to register The North Central Broken Hill Silver-mining, Company (No-Liability) (1891, December 1). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 9441. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from]

A month before William bought his shares, the company had them available for three pence per share. 

(1895, November 22). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900),
p. 7626. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from]

18 September 1900. I wonder if this was for purchasing another 50 shares in the company?
[Personal Collection]
Fast forward to 1939, and the company is in liquidation.

[Source: COMPANIES ACT, 1936 (SECTION 323 (5)). (1939, December 15). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 5811. 
Retrieved January 22, 2017, from]
I would hope that the company going into liquidation did not affect William that much. Did he even still have shares in the company in 1939? Who knows.

Did your ancestors have any shares? 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Ancestor Count 2017

A new year. A new set of goals.

Every January I ask myself the following question - Which ancestors am I going to research this year? I reflect on the ancestors I researched the previous year, and those I wanted to research but did not get around to. 

The past few months, I have seen a few geneabloggers post their Ancestor Count. Doing an Ancestor Count involves counting the number of ancestors you have identified in each generation, compared with the total number of people in that generation. It is a great way of displaying the number of known ancestors you have, however, it also highlights the generations that may be lacking your attention.

When I see people post their Ancestor Counts, I always think about doing one, but then I never do. It was Michael Dyer's Ancestor Tally last week that got myself into gear. If you would like further instructions on how to create your own Ancestor Count, Deidre from Twisted Twigs On Gnarled Branches Genealogy has a great how-to. Alona Tester's Ancestor Count has just popped up in my news feed too. 

What is my current Ancestor Count? Well, I did two. My Maternal Grandmother was adopted, so one includes her adoptive ancestors, and the other her biological ancestors. You will be able to tell which one I know more about.

You can see that once I hit the 7th generation - 4x Great Grandparents - the trouble begins. I do have names for a number of people in the 9th and 10th generations, but I have not proven them yet, so I chose to leave them out.  

When I include my Grandmother's biological ancestors, then numbers decrease. We know who her biological father is, but not her biological mother - the missing Great Grandparent. 

For most of 2016, I was working on the descendants of my ancestors' siblings. I was working my way forward as much as possible. In 2017, it is time to go back to the past. Hopefully, when I do my next Ancestor Count in 2018, the numbers will have increased.   

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Mum's Collection of Badges from the USA

This morning, while thinking about what to do for my next blog post, my Mum brought out her collection of badges. You might remember last year I shared photos of my Great Grandfather's police badges. Well, these are a different kind. I had not seen these before either - where have you been hiding them Mum?! These badges are of a political nature - Presidents, people running for President, and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). I have decided to show you them because I think they are interesting, and I think it is neat that my Mum has kept them. They are a part of history. My knowledge of American Presidents is not that great, so this was an education lesson for me as well when Mum was explaining who was who. I had not even heard of the Equal Rights Amendment either!

Please keep in mind that these are old badges. Some of the badges belong to my Mum, some were given to her, and some belonged to my Grandma. They do not reflect current politics in any way. As I said before, I just think it is pretty cool that Mum has these, and I will definitely be keeping them for future generations. I don't even have any badges representing Australian Politics/Prime Ministers!

Clinton & Gore 1996
Mario Cuomo, 52nd Governor of
New York State

Bush & Quayle
Dole & Kemp
President Ford
Ford & Dole 1976
Mondale & Ferraro 1984

Nixon & Lodge 1960

Collection of Political Badges

Equal Rights Amendment

Collection of ERA Badges

And finally, Rice University (Houston, Texas). Why does Mum have this badge? She went there! 

All the badges!
Does your family have any badges or other political memorabilia?  

Monday, 10 October 2016

An Immigration Assault Trial

I am in the process of writing about my 4x Great Grandparents John Walker and Mary Wiseman. They left England and arrived in Sydney on the ship Carthaginian on January 28, 1842. I thought I would search Trove and see if I could find any articles about the ship…and that I did!

The Hunter River Gazette reported that 243 immigrants arrived with Captain Robertson and Superintendent Dr Nelson.

SYDNEY SHIPPING. (1842, February 5).The Hunter River Gazette; and Journal of Agriculture, Commerce, Politics, and News (West Maitland, NSW : 1841 - 1842), p. 3. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from
I was surprised to discover that soon after arriving, Captain Robertson and Dr Nelson were taken to trial for assaulting female immigrant Margaret Ann Bolton during the voyage, by way of throwing buckets of water over her. Below is the beginning of a very lengthy article describing the trial and evidence, which you can read by clicking the link in the caption.

TREATMENT OF EMIGRANTS. (1842, April 19). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 2. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from
The verdict? Guilty. Captain Robertson and Dr Nelson were both sentenced to prison for six months and fined 50 pounds. I like this article published in The Sydney Herald as it assured future emigrants the possibility of obtaining compensation if they experienced ill-treatment.

ILL-TREATMENT OF IMMIGRANTS. (1842, April 23). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from
I wonder if John and Mary were acquainted with Margaret Ann Bolton during the voyage and were aware of the trial? 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Trove Tuesday - A Madman

For today's Trove Tuesday, well, the title of the article says it all. 

A Madman at Pennant Hills. (1890, November 15). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate
(Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950)
, p. 8.
Retrieved September 20, 2016,

On Monday last a man unknown in the district was noticed running about in a wild and aimless state at Thornleigh and Galston, and on the following day he turned up at Pennant Hills, near Thompson's Corner. A good deal of alarm was caused in the neighbourhood by the strange behaviour of the man, several of the residents undertaking to watch him while another (Mr. Allen) went into Parramatta for the police. Mr Allen was informed that the police could do nothing without a conveyance was placed at their disposal, and owing to this strange piece of Fosberryism the man was left to knock himself about as much as he liked. The messenger properly pointed out that it was not his place to provide conveyances for the police. The messenger returned without the regular custodians of the public safety, and the man afterwards commenced to knock himself about with huge pieces of rough stone which he held in his hands. Mr Gallard and others who had been watching him moved forward to disable the unfortunate man; but the threatening attitude of the man warned them to be careful, and they had to look on the terrible spectacle of the poor fellow battering his hands and face beyond recognition. The sickening sight of blood spurting from the man's face made them shudder, and at last he fell down from exhaustion. Those who had been looking on rushed forward to secure the man; but he was up again in an instant and raced madly across the field until he came to a waterhole, into which he threw himself. Almost drowned he was recovered from the water, and placed in Mr Gallard's cart in an unconscious state and driven into Parramatta to the lockup. The police sent him to the Hospital but he was denied admission, on the assumption that he was either mad or suffering from the effects of the drink and his conduct might injuriously affect some of the patients. He was again taken back to the lockup, but after a time Sergeant Megarvey secured his admission to the hospital. 

Wow! Pennant Hills is the suburb in Sydney where my Grandparent's lived, and is where I stay whenever I'm in Sydney.