Our Bell Family in Australia-George and Sarah Bell in the 1840s.

When we are researching our family history, most of our energy goes into finding the documents that show the events of birth, marriage, and death of our ancestors. However, to build a picture of the lives of our ancestors we need to research the time, place, and the people involved in these events.

In a former blog, I wrote about the marriage of my ancestors, George Bell and Sarah Sargent at Sutton Forest in 1844. [See blog Our Bell Family in Australia-George Bell’s Marriage 1844‘ posted 9 August 2020].

Now I needed to research the place, Sutton Forest; the church, All Saints Church of England; the Minister, Rev William Stone and the witnesses, Robert Wallace and Mary Thomas as well as George and Sarah themselves.

Sutton Forest

The graveyard and All Saints Anglican Church (1861).

Sutton Forest

Sutton Forest was named by Commissioner Bigge when he traveled through the area in 1820 with Governor Macquarie. It was on the edge of ‘settlement’  on the Great South Road. It was named after the Speaker of the House of Commons in England. Political motives were always in mind when naming places in New South Wales in our early history.

A private village grew up here in the late 1820s when the land was made available for a church and cemetery in 1828. By the following year, a weatherboard chapel had been erected and was in use. This was where George Bell and Sarah Sargent’s wedding took place in 1844. [See blog  Our Bell Family in Australia- George Bell’s Marriage 1844′ posted on 9 August 2020).

The neat stone building standing today was built in 1861 to the plans of the Colonial Architect, Edmund Becket.

More information can be found at https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/sutton-forest-ns

Rev William Stone

The Rev William Stone was appointed to Sutton Forest in 1843 to replace, Rev George Vidal.  He served there many years until he retired in 1858. He remained living at Sutton Forest and died there in 1870. He was buried in the churchyard and has a headstone.

The first school at Sutton Forest was opened in late 1830 with 18 pupils, under the instruction of John Eyre, a convict who had arrived that year. It had been built adjacent to the church. It was a church school and the local families continued to support it and it stayed in use until 1880 when the public school was opened.

A small cottage near the school was where the teacher and his family resided.

Robert Wallace

In the early 1840s, Robert Wallace was appointed as a teacher. He is believed to have been a friend of the Sargent family and that is how he became a witness at the wedding of George Bell and Sarah Sargent.

Mary Thomas

The other witness to the wedding was Mary Thomas the wife of James Thomas. They too were farming in the area and believed to be friends of the Sargent family. They later moved to The Oaks area near Picton, and in 1849 two of their sons were baptized at St Marks Church of England, Picton.

Sargents

The Sargent family, Thomas, his wife Alice (also spelled as Ellis in many records), and their four children emigrated on the Woodbridge in 1838. [See blog  ‘Immigration -“Woodbridge” Voyage-1838 posted 28 July 2017.]

They settled in the area soon after arrival. Four more children were born there and were baptized in All Saints. Sarah was the second daughter and had been born in Beckley, Sussex in 1827.

Bells

James and George Bell emigrated as sailors on the convict ship Asia in 1837. [See blogs

See “A Window in Time-My Bell Family in East Farleigh, Kent, England“, posted 30 April 2014 and,” My Bell Family Ancestors-George Bell (1817-1894)-Sorting Red Herrings“, posted 3 July 2014.

SONY DSC

A Jack and Jill Sussex Mill

Found at http://www.windmillworld.com/millid/2614.htm

After marriage George and Sarah Bell moved to Picton. In those days nearly fifty miles away over a rough and dangerous track. It is believed that Thomas Sargent was employed to help build a windmill on what was known for many years as Windmill Hill, which overlooked Picton. This was for the Larkin family, who were also of Sutton Forest. George and his brother James assisted him. It was built in wood and was in the ‘Sussex Style’. It was not successful as it was too far from the village and the wind was unreliable. George and James Bell made bricks and later assisted in building a steam-powered mill down on Stonequarry creek.

George and Sarah Bell’s children were all born at Picton. They were baptized there too. However, although George and Sarah were married in the Church of England at Sutton Forrest when it came to baptize their children, they took advantage of whichever minister was visiting the village at the time.  Their children’s baptisms can be found in the Church of England, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan records.

More information on the Picton Windmills can be found at

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageap/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2690285

Information on the time period can be found at

https://myplace.edu.au/decades_timeline/1840/decade_landing_16_1.html

Most of all have fun with your research.

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Our Hodgetts Family Saga-Mary Hodgetts,1795, Sydney.

The seventh document for our Hodgetts family in Australia was the burial entry of Mary Hodgetts, the eldest daughter of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts.

I found the first mention of this record in John Cobley’s Sydney Cove 1793-1795 Vol IV. The entry states:-

“Burials

April 24 Hodges, Mary    Child       Sydney” [1]

I then checked for references in the online index of the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages in Sydney at https://bdm.nsw.gov.au/

HODGES MARY    1160/1795 V17951160 2A     INFANT

HODGES MARY     708/1795 V1795708 4           INFANT

Using these references I was able to search for these entries in the Archives Authority of New South Wales (now State Records) Genealogical Kit (1988) for burials 1788-1855.

The early colonial baptism, marriage, and burial records of some 164 volumes cover the time before civil registration in New South Wales. This includes Victoria and Queensland which was part of New South Wales at that time. These are held as Government records by the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for New South Wales in Sydney.

Many of these records were microfilmed and released to the public in the Archives Authority of New South Wales Genealogical Kit in 1988. Of the 164 volumes copied, only 123 volumes were released in the kit covering the time frame 1788-1855. Volumes 124-164 were not included in the kit.

This was because some of the records contained in the volumes were after 1855 so fell outside the parameters of the historical project and were subject to state privacy laws. Other volumes were not included because they were so fragile and the handling of those volumes would have destroyed them.

Returning to our Hodgetts research I found Volumes 2 and 4 were in the above-mentioned records and I was able to view microfilm copies of the original records on AO Reel 5001 and 5002. These were Rev Richard Johnson’s original burial register and the chronological list he sent to the Governor’s Office.

Although you can view these records at your library you cannot make a printout as it is a condition of use of these records and is stated at the beginning of each film. The copyright belongs to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages.  At the time I was able to make transcriptions and add appropriate notes.

HODGES,Mary,1795,Sydney,Burial Transcription 1

HODGES,Mary,1795,Sydney,Burial Transcription 2

We do not know the cause of death of little Mary. It could have been a fever from teething or perhaps diarrhoea. It would be another sixty years before civil registration and cause of death added to the certificate.

You will note this burial was recorded as taking place in Sydney so we know that Thomas and Harriet were still residing in Sydney.

From earlier research we know that Thomas Hodgetts was sentenced in March 1788 to seven years transportation and he came on the Second Fleet, arriving in June 1790. So doing the calculations, by March 1795 Thomas had served his sentence and was, at last, a free man, in theory at least.

It would have taken some time for the Governor’s Office to confirm his status, but how would his life have changed?

Sydney Cove c1794-96

View of Sydney Cove / painted by Thomas Watling1794-1796?

From <https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/collection-items/view-sydney-cove-painted-thomas-watling>

 

In a later blog I will show you how you can take these documents and use them as a timeline to research the mass of colonial documents to build a possible daily life of our ancestors.

My share documents for this burial can be found under the  Resources and Examples Tab on this website under-

HODGETTS, Mary,1795, Sydney, Burial Transcription 1

HODGETTS, Mary,1795, Sydney, Burial Transcription 2

[1] Sydney Cove 1791-1792 (Volume IV), John Cobley, Angus & Robertson Publishers,1983, Sydney, p250

 

Our Hodgetts Family Saga – Harriet Hodgetts,1790, Sydney

In this blog, we are going to look at the third document for our Hodgetts family in Australia. It is also the first document for our Harriet Hodgetts. This was when she was a witness at the marriage of James Bird to Mary Dismon on 29 December 1790.

One could be forgiven to think in the early days of the convict colony, marriages only took place on Sundays after the obligatory service, but that was not so. The 29th December 1790 was a Wednesday.

Government House,1790,Sydney

My first reference to the above marriage was in John Cobley’s book, “Sydney Cove 1789-1790”.[1]

I followed up by finding the actual document references from the online Marriage Index on the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney at  https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/ .

There were two references and I knew I needed to see both. Using these references I consulted the microfilms in the Archives Authority of New South Wales, (now State Records of New South Wales), Genealogical Kit 1988. Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1788-1855, AO Reel 5002.[2]

Although due to Copyright restrictions I could not print these out, I could make transcriptions. You will note these documents are not the same. One was from the Rev Richard Johnson’s Marriage Register, and the other the chronological list he sent to the Governor’s Office.

BIRD - DISMON,1790,Sydney,Marriage Transcription2

BIRD - DISMON,1790,Sydney,Marriage Transcription1

When researching I always go through the process of trying to answer a number of questions. In this case, I wanted to know- Why was the marriage on a Wednesday, and where was it? Who were James Bird and Mary Dismon? Who was John Hunter the other witness to the marriage? How did Harriet (Hodgetts) know these people?

After asking similar questions for the marriage of George Fry and Elena Sandwick, (See former blog Our Hodgetts Family Saga- Thomas Hodgetts,1790, Sydney), I now knew who Rev George Johnson was. I also knew that the marriage was likely to have been outside or in a tent as there was no church building. However, because it was on a weekday without the church crowd, it may have been a more private affair at or in George Johnson’s home. A wattle-and-daub hut near Government House in Sydney.

Although the banns for the marriage would have been called on three Sundays previously there was no requirement that the marriage must take place on a Sunday. Note it was high Summer and the days were long, so there was still plenty of light, late into the evening. Each of the parties would have had permission from their overseer to be out of their place of residence after sunset.

Now we look at the wedding party.

James Bird was transported on Alexander in the First Fleet. He had stolen in the company of others,1000 pounds of saltpeter from a warehouse, and was sentenced to 7 years transportation. It seems he was often in trouble with the authorities in the early years of his sentence, but I have found no mention of his name in records after his marriage. He signed the register so he could at least write his name. [3]

Mary Dismon was believed to have been born in Ireland. She was sentenced on 9 September 1789 at the Old Bailey with Mary Butler after an incident in the Convent Garden Markets. She was held in Newgate Prison until she was sent to the Neptune to be transported to NSW on the Second Fleet. It is believed she became friends with Harriet on board the ship and remained so in the colony. She signed the register with an X as her mark, so she possibly had no education.[4]

John Hunter had originally been sentenced to death at the Old Bailey in 1784 for theft. However, he was reprieved and sentenced to transportation for life. He was sent to the prison hulk Fortune at Portsmouth. He was placed on board the Scarborough in the Second Fleet, so it is likely that he may have been a friend of Thomas or at least known by him. He signed the register so he could at least write his name.[5]

Harriet (Hodgetts) is believed to have been born in Staffordshire in 1765 and to have arrived onboard the Neptune in the Second Fleet, as a free woman. She claimed to be the wife of the convict, Thomas Hodgetts, although we now know this was not true. There were other free women on the Neptune who claimed to be the wives of convicts too. There appears to be no document of arrival in the colony to support the claims of these women. However, there was a letter to Governor Phillip which noted that the offer of passage had been made to wives of convicts, and a few had taken up the offer. Phillip was instructed to give them the same rights to food and clothing as convict women.[6] Harriet and the other ‘wives’ claimed the ‘free’ status and the Neptune as the ship of arrival on all subsequent colonial musters.

Harriet signed the marriage register with an X as her mark, so she possibly had no education.

I found no other marriages where Harriet Hodgetts was a witness.

Copies of my share documents for this marriage can be found under the Resources and Examples Tab on this website. See BIRD-DISMON, 1790, Sydney, Marriage Transcription 1 and 2

[1]Sydney Cove 1789-1790, John Cobley,1963 (Reprint 1980), Sydney, Angus and Robertson,p225

[2]Guide to the State Archives of New South Wales: Information Leaflet No 35, Attorney General and Justice- Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages: Microfilms of copies Registers of Baptisms, Burials and Marriages 1787 – 1856, Sydney,1984. p 9, Reel 5002

[3] Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, Mollie Gillen, 1989, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p 35

[4] The Second Fleet:- Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790, Michael Flynn,1993, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p244

[5] The Second Fleet:- Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790, Michael Flynn,1993, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p350

[6]Sydney Cove 1789-1790, John Cobley,1963 (Reprint 1980), Sydney, Angus and Robertson,p225.

PS-  Richard Hodgetts mentioned this marriage in his book, “The Brave Old Pioneers 1788-1988.” This book is still available from Richard. If you wish to have contact details please leave request in comment box below. This is to protect Richard’s private email address being harvested by scammers.

Our Hodgetts Family Saga – Thomas Hodgetts,1790, Sydney

In my last blog I wrote about the first document I had found concerning our ancestor Thomas Hodgetts in Australia which was his entry in the Transportation Register for the Second Fleet. This time I’m writing about the second document I found for Thomas in Australia. This was the marriage of George Fry and Elena Sandwick on 7 November 1790, when Thomas was recorded as one of the witnesses.

52ba87069567100df1ee3e0bdb8b6ea558548903

West view of Sydney Cove taken from the Rocks, at the rear of the General Hospital 1789 [from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales[a4635001 / DG V1/14] (Dixson Galleries)

I found the above-mentioned reference years ago when I was reading books on the early settlement of Sydney for the background to put our Thomas in context. I came across a series of history books written by John Cobley. I was amazed when I looked at the index of Volume II and not only saw references to Thomas Hodgetts (Hodges) but Harriet as well. These were in connection to early marriages in Sydney where they were recorded as witnesses.[1]

At the time all I could do was note the references as I had no way of looking at the original record. Later I was able to actually look at the microfilmed record of the marriages which had been released by the Archives Authority of NSW (now State Records of NSW) as part of their Genealogical Kit in 1988.

Although you can view these records at your library you cannot make a printout as it is a condition of use of these records and is stated at the beginning of each film. The copyright belongs to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages. You can purchase a copy from their office.

At the time I was able to make a transcription and add appropriate notes of each of these marriages. There are in fact two references for each in the online index at the Registrar of Births, Death and Marriages website. You should consult both as they are different.

FRY-SANDWICH,1790,Sydney,Marriage Register Transcription1

FRY-SANDWICH,1790,Sydney,Marriage Register Transcription2

This was only the beginning, not the end of my research when I transcribed these records.

How did I use these records to further my research into the lives of our Hodgetts ancestors?

Remember our ancestors lived complex lives and their family and friends played an important part. As Sydney was a convict settlement the Government officials also played a part and greatly influenced where and how our ancestors lived.

At this stage, I already knew that Thomas had arrived by the Second Fleet in June 1790. However, I needed to know who was the Rev Richard Johnson? Where did the marriage take place? Who were George Fry and Elena Sandwich, and the other witness, William Frazer? How could Thomas Hodgetts have known them?

 Rev Richard Johnson.

He was a Church of England clergyman ordained in England in 1784. In 1786 he received a Royal Warrant appointing him chaplain to the new colony in New South Wales. Shortly afterward he married Mary Burton at Islington, London on 4 December 1786. They embarked a few months later in the Golden Grove in the First Fleet.

Soon after arrival the Rev Johnson held his first service and continued to do whenever and wherever he could. These he carried out in tents, barns, or even under trees when a building was not available. He also carried out baptism, marriage, and burial services and entered them into his private register. Later he sent a list to the Governor’s Office  of all baptisms, marriages, and burials.

Johnson was known for his care and interest in the convicts and often gave articles and food for their comfort from his own stores brought out from London in a private capacity.

Although Governor Phillip required the convicts to attend Sunday service, he was reticent to build a church as he felt all the Government building projects should be to house and feed the colony.

By 1793, Johnson was so frustrated by the lack of progress towards the building of a church that he undertook this project himself and paid for the materials and labour for the church to be built. It was a wattle and daub construction at what is now Richard Johnson Square at the intersection of Bligh and Hunter Streets. Unfortunately, this was burned down in 1798. The Governor had it replaced with a larger and more substantial building.

Johnson was also concerned about the lack of facilities for the education of colonial children and established schools in Sydney and later Parramatta. He also travelled to Norfolk Island when he could for the spiritual care of the convicts there.

Johnson and his family remained in the colony for nearly ten years before he asked to be returned home to England citing ill health. The family left by the Buffalo in September 1800.[2]

Where and when did the marriage take place?

The 7 November 1790 was a Sunday, so it is most likely to have taken place after the obligatory Sunday Service.

As Johnson had not built his church and the parish of St Phillip’s had not been established in 1790, the ceremony most likely took place outside or in a tent in the settlement of Sydney.

George Fry

George Fry had been sentenced to death on 18 March 1782 for stealing 5 yards of cloth in Exeter. He was given a reprieve to be sent to the African Colonies. However, he was later sent to a small prison in London. On 19 April 1785, he was sent onto the Censor a prison hulk in the Thames. He stayed there for nearly two years before he embarked on the Scarborough in the First Fleet.

Gathering information from later records of his life in the colony it is believed he worked as a blacksmith at the time of his marriage. [3]

Elena Sandwick

Elena Sandwick, also known as Ellen and Eleanor Sandwich was sentenced to 14 years transportation at Carlisle (Cumberland) Assizes for receiving stolen property. Her son and three others were tried for the burglary. In 1789 Eleanor was sent to London to embark on the Neptune. It is more than likely Harriet and Eleanor became friends on board and continued as such in the colony.[4]

William Frazer

William Frazer was sentenced with his wife Ellen or Eleanor Frazer to seven years transportation at the Manchester Quarter Sessions in 1787 for the theft of several pieces of cloth. The couple petitioned to be transported together and a copy of their marriage certificate – William Frazer to Ellen Redchester was appended with the petition when it was sent to Evan Nepean’s office.  The gaoler at Lancaster Castle reported he had signed the contract for the removal of Frazer with other convicts for the embarkation of the First Fleet in 1787. In several early colonial documents, he was recorded as a blacksmith.[5]

Thomas Hodgetts

Thomas Hodgetts was implicated in a robbery in 1787 in Staffordshire and was sentenced to 7 years transportation. He embarked on the Scarborough in the Second Fleet in 1790. On arrival, he is believed to have been housed with the colonial blacksmiths from the First Fleet, including George Fry and William Frazer. He became friends with the same.[6]

It is possible that Harriet was also present at the marriage, but it was the groom’s friends William Frazer and Thomas Hodgetts who stepped forward to be witnesses to the marriage.

Something unusual for this marriage was that all parties could sign their name.

Comparing the signature of Thomas Hodgetts on this marriage certificate and that of the Thomas Hodgetts who married Ann Duce in Wednesbury, Staffordshire in 1783, helps to support our claim that this is the same person.

I hope I have shown you how extending and following up some of these clues about our ancestors can not only help with your overall research but add richness to the story.

Copies of my share documents for this marriage can be found under the Resources and Examples Tab on this website. See FRY-SANDWICK, 1790, Sydney, Marriage Transcription 1, and 2.

PS-  Richard Hodgetts mentioned this marriage in his book, “The Brave Old Pioneers 1788-1988.” This book is still available from Richard. If you wish to have contact details please leave request in comment box below. This is to protect Richard’s private email address being harvested by scammers.

 [1]Sydney Cove 1789-1790, John Cobley,1963 (Reprint 1980), Sydney, Angus and Robertson,p296.
[2]Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, Mollie Gillen, 1989, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p 195.
[3] Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, Mollie Gillen, 1989, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p 137.
[4] The Second Fleet:- Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790, Michael Flynn,1993, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p518.
[5] Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, Mollie Gillen, 1989, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p 134-5.
6] The Second Fleet:- Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790, Michael Flynn,1993, Sydney, Library of Australian History, p335.

Family History Class Notes – More Help Using Newspapers in Family History Research

 

As much as I love those early Sydney newspapers, it is the Provincial or Regional newspapers I am most passionate about, as it is those newspapers which hold within their pages the more personal history of an area and its people.

Although a newspaper had begun in the Hunter Valley in 1841, it was the Maitland Mercury which began in January 1843 that became a great success story. It began as a weekly and became a bi-weekly in 1846 to a tri-weekly in 1856. It was so successful that in 1893 it was a daily. It covered the news not only of the whole Hunter Valley but it had its own ‘correspondents’ reporting throughout the whole of northern and western New South Wales. Later when many of these towns began to produce their own newspapers the Maitland Mercury continued to spread the news by publishing ‘extracts’ from these publications. This becomes a very important consideration when the ‘original’ issues of these publications have not survived.

The Provincial newspapers of NSW to follow the Maitland Mercury were:

Brisbane Courier-1846:

Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal-1848;

Goulburn Herald- 1848:

Armidale Express-1856;

Newcastle Chronicle-1858

Clarence and Richmond Examiner-1859.[This later became the Daily Examiner]

It is from the last of these I propose to examine more thoroughly and give examples from. This newspaper has recently been digitized and made available through Trove. However, a much more complete set of newspapers survive in hardcopy and are housed at Grafton. In an extensive study of this newspaper between 1859-1869, I found there were more than 160 issues not microfilmed and made available on-line through Trove. Of those microfilmed nearly 200 issues were missing a supplementary page that has survived in the hardcopy.

Other newspapers for the Grafton area included:-

  • The Grafton Argus
  • The Observer
  • The Grip
  • The Clarion
  • The Clarence Advocate (Maclean)

Only short runs and occasional copies have survived. All known surviving copies of the these newspapers have been microfilmed. Some of these can also be found on in the Historical Newspapers on Trove.

Please also note many other North Coast newspapers can be found on Trove, including those for Casino, Kyogle, Lismore, Murwillumbah, Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby.

From the earliest days newspapers were in the business of information and were organized in an orderly fashion under ‘headings’ rather than ‘headlines’, so that a pattern emerges which allows researching newspapers easier than one at first might assume. In each issue the headings usually appeared on the same page and in the same column which allows for scanning with the eyes rather than reading every word in print. These headings could roughly be grouped into:

  • News of events and places
  • Personal Notices and Items
  • Trade and Commerce
  • Land
  • Legal
  • Social

All these to varying degrees have value to the family historian. To illustrate this I propose to take some of these headings and show the scope and value of each to the family historian.

News of Events and Places- This is of course is always of interest to the local and family historian and includes a wide range of topics such things as flooding, mining and shipping disasters or gold discovery, launching of a ship, opening of a school, or railway line and station.

Personal Notices- Birth, Death and Marriage Notices are perhaps one of the most valuable sources sort by family historians. These fall into three kinds.

Firstly an event which took place locally, secondly of an event somewhere in Australia, and thirdly of one overseas in another country which had some family connections in Australia.

Even if you have a baptism and or birth certificate; marriage certificate or burial and or death certificate it is always worth checking to see if there was a corresponding notice in a newspaper. Very often extra information is given which is important and not likely to be found in other sources. Let me show you an example

You will find other notices and items of value around the wedding particularly in the early to Mid 20th Century. Reports of ‘Tin-kettling, Kitchen teas, Wedding receptions, etc. Are you fortunate enough to have a black and white or sepia wedding photo of an ancestor’s wedding group? Have you found a report in a newspaper that named and described the clothes of the wedding party, including the colour of the fabric? No colour photos in those days and this may be the only way you can find the colour of the bridesmaid’s dresses. Often there was also a list and description of the wedding gifts and who gave them.

Other useful newspaper items and notices concerning death are obituaries, death reports, inquests, funeral notices, and probate notices.

Of course, Obituaries have always been of value to the family historian and are much sort after. The true obituary as we know it didn’t really appear until the second half of the 19th Century except for the wealthy. Sometimes an obituary was not entered for the husband, but was for the wife, especially if she died many years after the husband. Sometimes circumstances concerning the husband’s death were given, which is very valuable if the death was before 1856.

Some interesting ones in Grafton were those of Mrs. Mary Greenwood (formerly Bawden) who died in May 1873 her husband having died in 1841, and Mrs. Mary Matilda Hann, who died in June 1882, whose husband died in 1857.

After 1900 obituaries became more frequent and during the period 1920-60 were usually very good. However, it must be noted that ‘convict background’ was ‘covered-up and be aware that sometimes information in obituaries can be misleading to the researcher.

Trade and Commerce

I’m sure everyone would be aware how useful advertisements can be when researching local and family history. They cover a wide range from listing goods for sale, the opening of businesses, business partnerships, the opening of new stores, etc.

One of the most useful sections is the Shipping Intelligence and Shipping News sections of the newspapers.

Shipping-Immigration

 

For those who have a maritime connection, the Shipping Intelligence sections of newspapers can be useful in tracing the history of ships and some of their crew.Shipping-Settlement

Or it can help find when people arrived in an area. The above list for Herbert Eggins certainly implies he was settling in the district.

Legal

Then there are Legal items such as – Police and Court Proceedings, Probate notices, divorce cases, formation and dissolution of business partnerships, advertisements of bailiff sales, police, and court proceedings.

Legal-1

Legal-2

Legal-3

Land

For those who settled on the land, there are notices of -Land Grants, Pre-emptive Leases, Conditional Purchases, Conditional Leases, Land Wardens Courts, Property names. Mining Reports

Land-Free Selection

Mining

And for those who had Gold fever there were Mining ReportsMining-1Social

There were the social aspects of the area in reports and advertisements about – dances, association meetings and gatherings, visitors, and general gossip columns. The Sports Team fixtures, reports of events, team lists, sporting career biographies

Finally, we touch on the education opportunities and reports in the newspaper pages with concerts, P & C Meetings, prize-giving ceremonies, class lists, examination result lists (Leaving Certificate).

I have prepared indexes from Clarence River newspapers to assist family and local historians to find material in these newspapers. These are now out of print but can be found in libraries and family history and local history societies.

They include:-

Clarence River Register No 1 1859-1869: Births, Deaths, and Marriages from the Newspapers

[Nola Mackey,1994,72pp,ISBN 959263144]

Clarence River Register No 2 1870-1879: Births, Deaths, and Marriages from the Newspapers

[Nola Mackey,1994,103pp,ISBN 959263160]

Clarence River Register No 3 1880-1889: Births, Deaths, and Marriages from the Newspapers

[Nola Mackey,1995,134pp,ISBN 959263187]

Clarence River Register No 4 1890-1899: Births, Deaths, and Marriages from the Newspapers

[Nola Mackey,1996,120pp,ISBN 1875840001]

Clarence River Register No 5 1900-1905: Births and Marriages from the Newspapers

[Nola Mackey,1998,36 pp, ISBN 1875840028]

Clarence River Register No 6 1906-1910; Births, Deaths, and Marriages from the Newspapers

[Nola Mackey,1998,114pp,ISBN 1875840044]

Clarence River Register No 7 1900-1905: Deaths and Burials in the Clarence River District

[Nola Mackey and June Kepper,1984,141pp, ISBN095926311X]

Clarence River Register No 8 1862-1869: Land Selection on the Clarence and Richmond Rivers

[Nola Mackey,1998,148pp,ISBN 1875840079]

Clarence River Register No 9 1860-1865: Passengers and Crew In & Out of the Clarence River

[Nola Mackey,2000,Set 3 books 78pp,74pp,36pp,ISBN 1875840095]

Clarence River Register No 10 1866-1869: Passengers and Crew In & Out of the Clarence River

[Nola Mackey,2000,Set 3 books 106pp,108pp,48pp,ISBN 1875840117]

Clarence River Register No 11 1870-1879: Conditional Purchases of Land on the Clarence River

[Nola Mackey,2004,142pp,ISBN 1875840567]

Clarence River Register No 12 1911-1915: Births, Deaths, and Marriages from the Clarence & Richmond Examiner (Grafton)

[Nola Mackey,2005,192pp,ISBN 1875840613]

However again I need to remind you to think about the following when you are assessing the information in these newspapers.

Do not automatically take the published word as gospel, and proof of what happened. Look at the evidence and how it was presented. Reports of Inquests and Court Proceeding are likely to be correct as the evidence is taken under oath, but an obituary or biography of a person’s life may contain untruths and exaggerations.

If there were more than one newspaper being published in the area in a time period look at them all. You will be surprised to learn they will not report the same event exactly the same. There may be more information in one than the other.

Not all newspapers are equal- and there is good reporting and bad reporting and much depends on the editor of the paper at the time.

Newspapers have always been in the business of selling news, but they have always come under the Crown laws concerning slander and misrepresentation of facts. Some owners/editors stretched these boundaries and have found themselves in Court. There have been several newspapers who were sent to the wall and insolvency through court cases concerning slandering opposition newspapers.

Good hunting everyone.

 

Family History Class Notes, Marriages in NSW – Transcription Agents

In our class about the Marriage Index for New South Wales Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, I solved a little problem of the place and date for the marriage for my Great-Uncle, Henry William Bell, by finding an article about this marriage in a newspaper.

Should I leave further research and be content with these two references for this marriage? Remember newspapers may not be correct for an event either.

I need more references to enter onto my datasheet of the marriage event for this individual.

In this case, I decided to seek a more solid reference for information by using a transcription agent for the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages for New South Wales. If you consult the web page for this office you will see there are three such licensed agents.

 

I have used each of these agents from time to time and have been happy with all of their services. I used a transcription agent because  a transcription is about half the cost of obtaining a certified copy of this certificate from the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages Office. All family historians know just how quickly these costs can add up when you are seeking documentation of your family tree.

This transcription is not a certified copy and cannot be used in any legal transactions. This is stated in the transcribed document supplied by the agent.

 

The transcription agent actually looks at the official copy of the marriage certificate held by the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages and carefully extracts all the information into a transcription form. Although there is a possibility of errors in transcribing I have found none to date.

We family historians can be a generous lot when it comes to sharing information and we might be tempted to photocopy or scan one of these transcriptions and share it with family and friends.

Legally we should not do this. That document is copyright to the agent who produced it. You actually purchased the information on this transcription not the copying rights of the document.

When I want to share this information I transcribe the information onto my own marriage transcription form clearly giving full credit for where I got the information and adding any notes I wish to add. Here are my sharing documents for this marriage.

Marriage Certificate Transcription

 

 A pdf download of this marriage transcription document can be found on this website under the Resources and Examples Tab.

 

My transcription copy of the marriage report in the newspaper.

Marriage Report Transcription

 

A pdf download of this marriage newspaper report transcription document can be found on this website under the Resources and Examples Tab.

By doing my copying in this format there is no confusion about the source of the information and when I obtained it.

Over time when collecting information it becomes difficult to remember who gave you the actual information and when. If you get into good habits early on in your research you have fewer problems on this front.

 

Family History Class Notes – Using Newspapers in Family History Research

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and people are staying at home, many have found time to pursue their hobbies and there is a world -wide upsurge of interest in family history. Most are using online resources, including newspapers.

I believe that in the past, newspapers were the most under -utilized genealogical resource, but new technology is now changing that.

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, the early 19th Century British poet, historian and Whig politician once stated that ‘the only true history of a country is found in its newspapers’.

When you consider the first Australian newspaper began in Sydney just fifteen years after the arrival of the First Fleet, just imagine how much history of Australian families and their overseas connections must be buried in Australian newspapers.

We can read all the political, economic and social history books available for background context of our ancestors, but we can certainly better understand the lives of these ancestors when we find their stories, items and notices in old newspapers.

Types of Newspapers

  • National
  • Regional
  • Local
  • Ethnic and Foreign Language
  • Religious
  • Political
  • Literary
  • Military

Access to Australian Historical Newspapers

In Australia, the National and State Libraries have the responsibility of tracking down and collecting newspapers published, even today. They have many volumes of bound hardcopies of both Overseas and Australian newspapers. These can be located through their catalogues.

 

Regional and Community Libraries, historical societies and museums may also have original hard-copy or microfilm copies of newspapers, particularly those of the local area. You may have to travel to these local institutions to access these newspapers or you may be able to make arrangements for someone to view them on your behalf. There may be costs and fees associated with this service.

 

On-line Digital Access

In the past, it could be said that local and family historians did not use newspapers in their research because of poor accessibility, but this is no longer the case. Over the last few years, millions of pages of newspapers throughout the world have been scanned and digitized, and made available on-line to the public, through commercial ventures of subscription web sites, such as ancestry.com and findmypast.com, as well as historical document programs in National and State Archives and libraries.

Perhaps the most important source for Australian 19th Century and early 20th Century newspapers on-line are through the National Library of Australia, in their Historical Newspapers program, 1803-1954 at :-

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper and the historical journals, and magazines program through the Australian Periodical Publications 1840-1845. This is part of the Australian Co-operative Digitization Project, which can be found at http://www.nla.gov.au/ferg/.

Between these two sites hundreds of titles are offered. These are in pdf format and can be searched by word or phrase, which makes them a very accessible resource. However one important warning- not all surviving issues of newspapers have been microfilmed, digitized and put on- line.

 

The first newspaper in New South Wales was the Sydney Gazette which first appeared on 5th March 1803 and was printed by George Howe, a convict. It was published for many years, ceasing in 1842.

As well as including functions many of us associate with a newspaper it also carried official governmental orders and proclamations, serving as the government gazette until 1832 when the New South Wales Government Gazette was inaugurated. Several other newspapers were published in Sydney over the years including:-

  • The Australian-(1824-1848);
  • Sydney Monitor (1828-1838);
  • The Sydney Herald-(1831-1842) (later the Sydney Morning Herald);
  • The Colonist-(1835-1840);
  • Australian Chronicle-(1839-1843)
  • Sydney Chronicle-(1846-1848).

I have had extensive experience of these Sydney newspapers and using them in local and family history, and have spent many hundreds of hours compiling selected indexes. Although all are now out of print they can be found in Libraries and Family History Societies.

 

These include

1. Index of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Sydney Newspapers Vol 1 1830-1832

[Nola Mackey,1996,65pp, ISBN 1875840133,Out of Print]

2. Index of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Sydney Newspapers Vol 2 1833-1835

[Nola Mackey,1996,107pp,ISBN 187584015X,Out of Print]

3. Index of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Sydney Newspapers Vol 3 1836-1837

[Nola Mackey,1996,91pp,ISBN 1875840176, Out of Print]

4. Index of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Sydney Newspapers Vol 4 1838

[Nola Mackey,1994,65pp,ISBN 18758409192,Out of Print]

5. Index of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Sydney Newspapers Vol 5 1839

[Nola Mackey,1994,67pp,ISBN 1875840214,Out of Print]

6. Index of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Sydney Newspapers Vol 6 1840

[Nola Mackey,1995, 64pp, ISBN 1875840230,Out of Print]

 

Here are some examples of Birth, Death and Marriage Notices and Reports in newspapers which allows you so see the range and type of information given.

Birth Notices

Marriage Notices

Marriage Report

Death Notice

 

Death Notice 2

 

Death Notice3

Death Report

 

In Memoriam Notice

Inquest Report

As wonderful as it is having this electronic access to newspapers family historians need to remember. One document or newspaper item concerning an event is not proof.

Assessing Newspapers as a Family History Source

  1. Do not automatically take the published word as gospel, and proof of what happened. Look at the evidence and how it was presented. Reports of Inquests and Court Proceeding are likely to be correct as the evidence is taken under oath, but an obituary or biography of a person’s life may contain untruths and exaggerations.
  2. If there were more than one newspaper being published in the area in a time period look at them all. You will be surprised to learn they will not report the same event exactly the same. There may be more information in one than the other.
  3. Not all newspapers are equal- and there is good reporting and bad reporting and much depends on the editor of the paper at the time.
  4. Newspapers have always been in the business of selling news, but they have always come under the Crown laws concerning slander and misrepresentation of facts. Some owner/editors stretched these boundaries and have found themselves in Court. There have been several newspapers who were sent to the wall and insolvency through court cases concerning slandering opposition newspapers.

Family History Class Notes- Searching the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages On-line Indexes for NSW

 

In our former classes we looked at Birth, Death and Marriage certificates and the registration of these events in Australia. We noted the on-line indexes for each of the states was a little different in the information given. The New South Wales Indexes do not have the dates of the event, only the registration year. They do not give the maiden name of the mother either. This can present difficulties in using these on-line indexes.

IMG_9364 (2)

Collection of Birth,Death and Marriage Certificates for New South Wales,Australia

The New South Wales website for the on-line indexes is found at – https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/

If you open the Home page of this website you will note tabs across the top of the page. On the right-hand side, you will note a ‘Family history research’ tab.

When you click on this tab it will open in a new window. On this page, you will note this list:-

  • Start searching
  • Or ask a transcription agent
  • Tips for family history research
  • Contact us for help

 

Click on the ‘Tips for family history research’.

Please download and read the “Family history search help guide” (Pdf format) found here.

This will help you get started on your search.

However, I know some of you will still have problems. I have prepared a more in-depth guide, which I hope will help with some of the more specific problems. This is also in pdf format. You will find it under the Resources & Tips Tab above.

This guide includes:- Historical background
Other States websites for Birth, Death & Marriages
Accessing the on-line indexes for NSW
Transcription Agents
A Basic search for:- Birth Certificates
                                    Marriage Certificates

Death Certificates

Problem-solving using Advanced Techniques with ‘Wildcard Options.
 Problem with:-Surname
                             Christian Name

Place and Time period

 

You will see listed on the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for NSW website the Historical Indexes range from 1788 – 1989. ( Plus part of the current year)in this way. Baptisms 1788 – 1855, Births 1856 – 1919 +; Marriages 1788 – 1969 +; Burials 1788 – 1855 and Deaths 1856 – 1989 +.

[In the list above you will note Baptisms 1788-1855 and Burials 1788-1855. These are before the official registrations came into effect on 1 March 1856. They will be explained in another class.]

Good hunting to you all. If you are still having problems please contact me.

 

Family History Class Notes – Death Certificates, Australia – 101

In previous classes, we looked at birth and marriage certificates in Australia. We also used our own birth certificate to gather clues to assist us to step back to another generation in our family history.

However, birth certificates seldom help with finding our ancestors’ death certificates. Occasionally if one of the parents is deceased at the registration of that birth the fact may be noted on a certificate but not always.

Death certificates are probably the most difficult of the three events of birth, death or marriage to track down. The information on them may be the most unreliable too. The person whose death is being registered may not be known by the informant or little more than their name. The fact that they were married or had children or the names of their parents may not be known.

There is no central place for the registration of deaths in Australia. Each state has a Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in their capital city. Until recently the deceased’s family and friends were responsible to register a death.

Now the undertaker needs to supply information on a death to obtain a license to bury or cremate. Once people were able to bury where they wished, but after the beginning of registration of deaths, all burials were to take place in a designated burial ground. The friends and family had a specific time to register a death with the Registrar’s Office-usually at the local Court House, but for various reasons, this didn’t always happen.

In recent years each of the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and marriages in each state has built a website where you can search for free their indexes. These can be found at:-

 

https://www.familyhistory.bdm.qld.gov.au/

https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/

https://www.justice.tas.gov.au/bdm/home

https://www.sa.gov.au

https://bdm.justice.wa.gov.au

https://nt.gov.au/law/bdm/search

However, just as there are a hundred years for births and a fifty-year rule for marriage certificates, there is a thirty-year rule for deaths. That means you cannot get a death certificate for a death that took place less than thirty years ago.

Be aware that each of these indexes in each state is a little different. For example in the death index for Queensland, the actual date of death is given but in New South Wales only the year of registration is given.

On each of these indexes, the name of the deceased, date or year of registration of the death is given as well as the parent’s names if known.

Of all the certificates, the information on a death certificate is possible the most unreliable. The informant of the death may have known very little about the deceased particularly the names of parents, spouse or children. For this reason alone it is important to get further documents that may confirm the information given on a death certificate.

Just as you may not be able to find a reference in the indexes for a birth or marriage you may not be able to find a death registration.  Sometimes this is because you are not using the spelling of the names used at the registration. However, the death may not have been registered in the first place.

Remember you are looking for information for the death event. There are many records that give you information on a person’s death. Some of these you may be able to get even if the death took place less than thirty years ago. You may find a death certificate; death certificate transcription; Church burial register; Church/Civil burial memorabilia; church/civic funeral order of service; photographs and/or video of funeral/burial service; photographs and/or video of interment of ashes; undertakers records/municipal burial records; newspaper death/funeral notice; obituary; newspaper memorial notice; memorial cards; memorial plaque or headstone; inquest report; original and /or copy of will and testament; probate/letters of administration notice/ family register in bible or prayer book; letters and diaries/ oral and personal recollections by family and friends.

This is not a definitive list and you could possibly think of others. You will not be able to get all these records for each death. They are just a guide.

I have used the above list to make myself a datasheet to put in my files on each individual.

MALHN029177 004

 

A pdf download of the data-sheet can be found on this website under the Resources and Examples Tab.

Many of these records you may find in family papers. I have found a number of these for my mother’s death and have entered them into my data sheet below.

MALHN029177 002

If someone shares these documents with you, please record them as the source of the document with their name, date, and address, on your document copy. Back or front depending on your skills and preference. Just because you now have a copy, please remember this is not your document to scan and put up on the Internet.

It is good family history manners even if you create your own document, such as a transcription, which is quite legal, you should get permission from the original owner to share the information and give them credit for originally sharing with you. Later down the track, they are then likely to share more with you, and you will feel comfortable sharing with them, as you will expect the same courtesy.

Now just a word of warning about using indexes. They do not have the full information a certificate has. If you only use an index make sure it is the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages website. Transcription errors often creep into copies, which can put your research away off track.

Continue to be very careful and diligent in your research.

 

 

 

Family History Class Notes – Marriage Certificates, Australia -101

In our last class, we looked at Birth Certificates in Australia. We looked at our own full birth certificate and made note of the information it gave to step back another generation.

Remember when researching your family history, you start with yourself and move back generation by generation with documentation.

We learned that on modern full birth certificates the parent’s names, age, and place of birth are recorded. Also on the certificate, you will usually find the date and place of marriage of the parents. Due to the cost of the certificates and with the actual date and place stated on your birth certificate you might be tempted to assume the information is correct and you can skip getting your parent’s marriage certificate.

My answer to that is ‘maybe’, but only if you can find other records which all lead you to the same conclusion.

The parent or the informant on a birth certificate is not required to offer proof of marriage when they register a birth. The information is taken in good faith, but it may not be correct.

In the last class, I said that the parents were responsible to register a birth. However, they are not, nor ever have been responsible for the registration of a marriage.

In Australia, you can only be married by a licensed celebrant. These are ordained ministers or priests, court magistrates, and state celebrants. They obtain their ‘license to marry’ from the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in the state where they reside, not the church authority. It is the licensed celebrant’s duty to register the marriage with the Registrar of Births, Death and Marriages offices.

However, just as there is a ‘hundred years rule’ for births, there is a fifty-year rule for marriage. That means you cannot get a marriage certificate unless the marriage is more than fifty years ago.

In Australia, there is no central place for births, marriages, and deaths. Each state has its own Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriage in its capital city.

In recent years each Registrar’s office has built a website where you can search for free the indexes to their historical documents.  These indexes are free to consult. The large subscription sites use ways to link and use these free sites. They do not have access to any more information than is on the free government websites.

Be aware each of these indexes is a little different. For example- In the Queensland Index for marriages, which took place over fifty years ago, it actually gives the date of marriage, while on the NSW Index it only gives the year of registration.

Here are the websites for these indexes.

https://www.familyhistory.bdm.qld.gov.au/

https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/

https://www.justice.tas.gov.au/bdm/home

https://www.sa.gov.au

https://bdm.justice.wa.gov.au

https://nt.gov.au/law/bdm/search

Just as you might not be able to find a reference in the index for birth, you may not be able to find a marriage in these indexes, even if the date and place are stated on a birth certificate.

Sometimes this is because you are not using the spelling of the names as given on the registration, but more often or not it is because for various reasons the marriage did not actually take place.

Remember you are looking for information concerning an ‘event’ in the person’s life. There are many records that give information on a person’s marriage or leading up to the event. Some of these you may be able to get even if the marriage is not fifty years ago.

Remember one document is not ‘definite proof’ of an event. You can only get a reasonable proof by a range of documents all pointing to the same conclusion.

Here is a list of records you may use to build a reasonable case for the marriage information for an ancestor:- Certified Civil Marriage Certificate; Marriage Transcription; Church Register Entry for Marriage; Church certificate of Marriage; Banns Register Entry for Intended Marriage; Banns Notice in a Church Newspaper; Statement of Intention to Marry Register; Newspaper Engagement Notice/Kitchen Tea; Newspaper Notice/ Report of Marriage; Photographs of Marriage Ceremony/Reception; Family Register in Bible/Prayer Book; Memorabilia-bucks and/or Hen’s Party/Wedding; Newspaper Report of Tin-kettling/House Party; Official Divorce Papers/Report in Newspaper; Letters and diaries and Oral Stories-Personal Recollections of marriage by family and/or friends.

This list is not definitive and you could possibly think of more. You will not be able to get all these records for each marriage. They are just a guide.

I have used this list to make myself a Data Sheet to put in my files on an individual person.

MALHN029177 003

[A pdf download of this Data Sheet can be found on this website under the Resources and Examples tab.]

Many of these records you may find in family papers and memorabilia. If someone shares these with you please record them as the source of the document with their name, date, and address on your copy of the document. Back or front depending on your skills and preference. Just because you now have a copy, please remember this is not your document to scan and put up on the Internet.

It is good family history manners even if you create your own document, such as a transcription, which is quite legal, you should get permission from the original owner to share the information and give them credit for originally sharing with you. Later down the track, they are then likely to share more with you, and you will feel comfortable sharing with them, as you will expect the same courtesy.

If you have been one of my students in the fifty years I have been teaching family history you know I actually practice what I preach when it comes to records. Here is the Evidence of Marriage Data Form for my mother.

MALHN029177

Now just a word of warning about using indexes. They do not have the full information a certificate has. If you only use an index make sure it is the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages website. Transcription errors often creep into copies, which can put your research away off track.

For example- My Maternal Grandmother Harriet May Bell only had one brother, Henry William Bell. According to the index on the Ancestry.com website, he married Hilda Annie Peck at Broken Hill in 1915. If you check the index on the website of the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for New South Wales, the marriage was registered at Bulli in 1915. These two places are approximately 1100 kilometres apart. Which is correct? By making a search in Trove Historical Newspapers on the National Library of Australia website you will find an account in the local newspapers for 1915, which states the marriage took place in the Methodist Church at Thirroul on 21st April. Thirroul and Bulli are less than three kilometres apart. Be very careful and diligent in your research.