Lost in the City of London-the Baxter Family

My mother, Margaret Nola Baxter was born in Murwillumbah in 1924, the fifth child of Arthur and Harriet Baxter (nee Bell). My grandparents had married at Thirroul in 1913 and came to settle at Kunghur, on the South Arm of the Tweed River soon afterwards.

 Arthur Baxter had been born at Picton in 1888, the sixth child of James and Margaret Baxter (nee Kennedy). He had been raised on a farm at High Range in the Picton District. His bride, Harriet May Bell had also been born in Picton, where her father was a blacksmith.

 Arthur’s father, James Baxter, had been born at Spring Creek near Picton in 1851, the eldest son of Thomas and Mary Baxter (nee Mather), who had married at The Oaks, on 30 December 1850.

Thomas Baxter arrived in Sydney onboard the Roslin Castle on 15 September 1834.He was a native of London and had been convicted of ‘pickpocketing’ on 2 September 1833, and sentenced to seven years transportation. In the 1837 Convict Muster he is listed as working for George Brown at Camden. He remained in the Camden area after the completion of his sentence and received his Certificate of Freedom in 1840.

 Thomas and Mary had nine children: James, 1851; Elizabeth, 1853; Mary, 1856-1860; George Thomas, 1858; John, 1860; Charles, 1862-1863; Mary Ellen, 1864; Robert, 1866 and Thomas Henry, 1869. All were born and raised in the Picton area.

 Thomas and Mary Baxter later retired to Sydney where Thomas died on 5 February 1889. He is buried in the churchyard of St Mark’s, Church of England at Picton. His wife Mary who died in 1907 is also buried there.

 On Thomas Baxter’s death certificate it is stated that his father ‘was believed to to George Baxter, a bookbinder of London’.

London has always been a very big city, and Thomas Baxter is not an unusual name, so for a while it seemed an impossible task to find where to start.

 Searching for new clues I followed up on Thomas Baxter’s convict records and found that on 16 February 1832 in the proceedings of the ‘Old Bailey’ he was convicted of larceny and was imprisioned for one month.

 I then used a map of London to identify the parishes around where he was apprehended for his crimes. Having made a list of these parishes I then consulted the International Genealogical Index (1978 and 1988). This is a research aid prepared by the Latter-Day Saints Genealogical Department. I then made a list of ‘Thomas Baxters baptised about 1812 to 1816, which were found in the parishes of interest. I also noted the marriages of all ‘George Baxter’s’ in the area 1800-1815 who might be Thomas’s father.

 I then consulted the catalogue of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and ordered the microfilms of the parish registers of all the parishes in London which were of interest to my research. These were sent to the Grafton Family History Centre where I could visit and read the films.

 After searching through several sets of films I found the baptism of ‘Thomas George Baxter’ at St Bololoph Without Aldersgate on 17 April 1816, the son of George and Mary Brayne Baxter. The father, George’s occupation was given as ‘bookbinder’. I was able to find the baptisms of all the other children of George and Mary Brayne Baxter. I was also able to locate the marriage of George Baxter and Mary Brayne Kington at Christ Church Greyfriars Newgate, London on 13 August 1809.

 All this was before the internet and the advantages of researching on-line. However as the new technology became available I used it where I could to advance my family history. When the scanned images of the London parish registers were available I downloaded and printed the baptism and marriage entries, which I added to my folder system for quick reference.

 By using the clues suggested by the family naming pattern revealed by the baptisms I was able to ‘guess’ that ‘George Baxter’s father’ was probably a ‘James Baxter that had possible married a Miss/ Mrs Dixson. The on-line search facilities enabled me to find a ‘James Baxter who married Elizabeth Dixon in London in 1766. I was able to find a number of children born to this couple as being baptised in London.

 I was then able to find a reference to a Will of ‘James Baxter, a Claspmaker in London’, on the National Archives website in England, which I was able to purchase and download immediately. This gave not only a great deal of information about his business, but also confirmed the names of his wife and eight children.

 A further search of the National Archives website led me to Court cases in 1810 involving George and Mary Bayne Baxter, as well as Mary’s half-siblings, step brother and mother. My present challenge is to sort this out and continue to research the lives of these ancestors.

 

Across the Sea to Ireland-The Growcock Family of County Meath..

On my paternal line I’m only second generation in Australia. My paternal grandfather, William Growcock emigrated from County Meath, Ireland in 1891 on the ‘Jumna’

While many Irish went to USA and Canada, my grandfather emigrated half way round the world to Queensland. Although he was the only member of his family to emigrate, he already had three cousins, William, John and Michael Growcock, in Queensland.

William Growcock, spent some years in Queensland before he settled at Zara on the North Arm of the Tweed River. He can be found there on the Householders Returns of the 1901 Census among a number of settlers. He was still residing there when he married at All Saints, Church of England, in Murwillumbah, on 23 March 1910. His bride was Olive Pearl Vidler, the daughter of Thomas Nathaniel and Margaret Jane Vidler (nee Goodwin).

William and Olive Growcock, had a dairy farm at Zara, and three daughters, Myra, Doris and Merle were born while they lived there. In 1916 the farm was sold to George Angel James Vidler, a younger brother of Thomas Nathaniel Vidler.

The Growcock family then moved to another dairy farm at Tygalgah, on the river flats just out of Murwillumbah. Olive, William, Myrtle, Ailsa and Robert were born when the family lived there. Sadly their daughter Merle died of diptheria in 1920, and was buried in the Church of England section of the Murwillumbah Cemetery.

My father, William (always known as ‘Bill’) was only eight years of age when his father died suddenly,of a heart attack, on the 18 April 1929. Bill was present at the time and could recall the event in graphic detail, until his own death more than seventy years later. Although the informant on William’s death certificate, A C Pratt, was not a member of the family, he was able to give details of William’s parents, James and Elizabeth Growcock (nee Anderson). The place of birth was stated as ‘ County Meath, Ireland’ and his age as 54 years. His marriage certificate confirmed his parents as James and Elizabeth Growcock (nee Anderson), but gave no clues to where he was born in Ireland.

William Growcock’s immigration records in the Queensland State Archives only gave ‘Meath, Ireland’ as his place of origin.

The fact that we had no idea where in County Meath to look for the birth certificate of William, the son of James and Elizabeth Growcock was a stumbling block for our research for some time. Then in 1973 my brother, Allan, was sent to Dublin for work. He searched the whitepages phone book and was able to identify one person, living in the County of Meath with the surname,and set out to meet with him. George Growcock, knew little of his family heritage, but he was able to give Allan his sister’s name and address and Allan then went to see her. Sarah Buchanan (nee Growcock) was delighted and most interested to hear about the Australian connections. She was able to tell Allan, the Growcock family had been settled in the parishes of Rathcore and Rathmoylan since before the 19th Century and the original parish registers had survived and were still held in the local church. Although the parish minister was not residing the parish, Allan was finally able to contact him and make arrangements for the extraction of details on the persons with the Growcock surname. Sarah Buchanan’s daughter, Mary who had children about the same age as our children started corresponding with me and we are still in touch today.

Then as often happens in the ‘family history’ research a chain of serendipitious events was set in motion. Within three weeks of Allan’s visit, George Growcock, had another visitor, Mary Turner (nee Growcock) who was also seeking her Growcock ancestors. Sarah Buchanan was able to give Mary my address and we have continued to correspond. Sarah and Mary had addresses of Canadian Cousins, William Bosworth, Robert James, and Margaret Growcock ,which they passed on. I corresponded with William’s daughter until her death.

I was also able to trace and make contact with the families of John and Michael Growcock, the Queensland cousins of my grandfather, William Growcock.

After Allan’s visit to Ireland we were able to apply to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in Dublin and get our grandfather, William Growcock’s birth certificate. We found he was born on 12 January 1867 and he was some years older than he let be known in Australia.He was actually 62 years at the time of his death in 1929, not 54 as stated.

Over the years I have able to get birth, marriage and death certificates of many other Growcock family connections in Ireland.

So having collected family documents and photos from all over the world I am now putting together the family story.