Monday, May 22, 2006

Giddy grannies and devils on horseback

I've been on a roll with family tree discoveries over this weekend.

With my trip to Ireland only a few days away, I thought I'd make another effort to trace or place some of my Irish ancestors. At current count I have about 9 such ancestors appearing in NSW prior to 1860, but I only know the birthplace of one of them: Honoria McCann from Nenagh in County Tipperary.

I ran some searches and quickly located a list of those who left Tipperary for NSW in that period. She appeared on that list, accompanied by a sister and brother-in-law on the same ship in 1841. The latter are recorded as having left two young children behind. It's not clear from the records (yet) whether the children joined them in the colonies at a later time.

This was the first set of useful passenger data I had ever come across in my researches. However, I couldn't locate anything for the other suspected Irish ancestors, so turned my attention to some of my Scottish forebears, who'd migrated to Melbourne in the 1850s. I very quickly found a free source of passenger data from the Victorian Public Record Office . That showed 7 members of the Wood family arriving on the Wanata in October 1852. This not only confirmed my earlier discoveries of individual Woods in the Victorian records, but indicated that even more had arrived. I had thought some of these family members had either elected to stay in Edinburgh or had died earlier. Certainly there were some children not listed on this ship. I haven't yet identified marriage or death records for all those who did migrate.

Head of the family was John Wood, a joiner by trade, but recorded as a family servant in Scottish census reports. I infer he died between his appearance on daughter Alison's 1854 wedding to mariner Charles Clark and the death of his widowed wife in 1870. Alison & Charles are my ancestors, and their wedding certificate shows Charles' father as being a Commander in the Royal Navy. So I have some more military records to investigate.

I made a rough chart [top] of where my ancestors came from over the last 5 generations, colouring each person according to birth country.

Google's rep emailed to say they enjoyed my phone interview last week, and would like to meet me in person this week. Unfortunately such short notice means I will likely have to defer until I return from Ireland.

On Saturday night, we went to a birthday party for David, an Australian friend of Chris, living in Tooting. Bondi was quite a hit, and he managed to polish off half a tray of oven-burnt sausage rolls. I got to sample some of my first "devils on horseback" (oven-cooked prunes wrapped in bacon) in years. I caught some pieces of the Eurovision song contest final, including Finland's Klingon-rock effort that ultimately won over a field of even cheesier songs. Finland needs to find a better balance between pony- and star- trekking.

When we got back from the party, I had a message waiting for me on the Genes Reunited website, asking me about my most distantly known Welsh ancestor Griffith Ellis, with enough detail to indicate we were talking about the same person. I excitedly wrote back, and today shared a few more emails and then a phone call with Alison in Pembroke who would be a 5th cousin or thereabouts. We were able to correct and extend some of each other's Ellis family data. Alison is descended from Griffith's eldest child Gwen - married 4 times and known as the "giddy granny". Gwen's sister Sydney is my ancestor, and seems to have had another illegitimate child after the birth of my illegitimate gg-grandfather and his twin brother. I think the giddiness was not confined to Gwen. I wonder if they ever visited Chiswick.

One of Gwen's grand-daughters is rumoured to have been the result of a distaff liaison between either a son of Lord Hardinge or of playboy Prince Bertie, later King Edward VII. This family history was explored in a BBC documentary earlier this year, and is described in this article. Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike;

    Looks like you are having an awesome time with Bondi. Is he also good at pulling the chick.

    Anyway, just surfing around and found your blog.

    My name is Mike King and I am a Window Cleaner for many Sydney High Rises overlooking the awesome views of this city.

    I have a shot on the front page of my site abseiling over Luna Park . The Sydney Harbour really is awesome and excellent to be able to work over.

    Anyway, have a look for yourself.

    Bye guys.