Monday, September 11, 2017

The Butcher of Bearsted - Dispelling the Family Myth

The Butcher of Bearsted - Dispelling the Jeremiah Dunster Family Myth

Holy Cross, Bearsted, Kent Imahe Wikipedia ©©
Once upon a time, great great great grandpa Jeremiah Dunster, a butcher of Bearsted, Kent, married Mary Kedwell at St Margaret's Church, Canterbury. His ancestry went back to William the Conqueror. So the story goes...Or does it?

Many years ago when I was new to family history, a relative handed me the 'completed' genealogy of my husband's DUNSTER family (I'm sure alarms bells are sounding for many of you already). Cousin Bernice* (*not her real name) had years earlier, travelled from Australia to Kent in England, where, from her diligent gathering of parish records, she had compiled the Dunster family tree. Other family members had contributed to the tree also. New to researching family history, in the days before I wrote blogs about finding evidence and the necessity for genealogical proof, I assumed that every family tree was the result of thorough research. Way back then I made a huge mistake  - I accepted the Dunster tree without questioning the research that supported it. 

Nothing beats thorough genealogical research! Image Nick Youngson, The Blue Diamond Gallery  ©©
As time went on and I studied genealogy courses and progressed as a researcher, the Dunster ancestry troubled me more and more. As exciting as it would be to descend from Charlemagne and Alfred the Great, to to trace your lineage back through the Queen Mother's Bowes-Lyon family and to be a 23rd cousin to Prince William and Harry, and while there are Dunsters whose lineage does go back to famous names in history, I suspected that our Jeremiah Dunster had been attached to the wrong parents and so the wrong family tree. 

Image Pixaby ©©
Many years ago when I was training to be a teacher, my Early Childhood Education lecturer taught me to view children's mistakes as a learning tool. This is a lesson I have carried with me throughout my life. The mistake I made with this family tree was a huge learning curve for me as a researcher. It demonstrated to me the importance of finding evidence through thorough research. In this blog post I will show why my research conflicts with the royal version of the Dunster descendancy and in doing so, I must dispel the myth about the origins of Jeremiah Dunster, butcher of Bearsted. 

Image Pixabay ©©
My husband David descends on his mother's side of his family from Sophia Dunster, whose family of Dunsters emigrated from Kent to NSW, Australia in 1838. This family descends back through Joseph Dunster [1788] and James Dunster [1764] to Jeremiah Dunster born circa 1730 in Kent. Thus far in her research of the parish records in Stone in Oxney, Kent, cousin Bernice was very thorough. Somehow, Jeremiah's parentage and his ancestry has since become - as I recently saw it described on a genealogy chat site - a "car crash".  I can only assume that the writer of this comment has seen the number of incorrect Dunster family trees online. The simple mistake of giving Jeremiah the wrong parents has led to many family trees affording this Dunster family a royal heritage that is not its birthright.

"Oh dear... are we not Royal after all?" Image Wikipedia ©©
I do not know how the myth began that Jeremiah Dunster was the son of William Dunster Esquire and his wife Ann Vanderput (spelled Vandeporte on their marriage record). When I was given this tree in my novice days as a family historian, I accepted the information without questioning it and without researching the facts for myself. I added William Dunster and Ann Vandeput/ Vandeporte to the family tree as Jeremiah Dunster's parents - if so many people believed this then it must be right - yes? In those beginner days, I researched backwards from William Dunster and Ann Vanderporte and in doing so I contributed to the myth of my husband's 'royal' heritage. This mistake was possibly my best learning tool as a genealogist, since it taught me very quickly, the importance of finding evidence.

The person named incorrectly as Jeremiah Dunster's father is William Dunster (c 1669 London), the son of Henry Dunster and Mary GARDINER. This Dunster family hailed from Somerset. Mary Gardiner was the daughter of Henry Gardiner of Hertfordshire and through various marriages this family boasts surnames such as HOWARD, DE BEAUMONT, DE NEVILLE, BOWES and so on... lines of heritage connected to Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror - in short, a most royal ancestry. I have researched William Dunster's lineage and I am going to declare that William Dunster and Ann Vanderput or Vandeporte were NOT the parents of Jeremiah Dunster, butcher of Kent. (There is always the possibility of course that DNA might connect the Kent Dunsters to the Somerset Dunsters and even to royalty - but it would be somewhere further back in the Dunster ancestry than Jeremiah.) 

Bowes Lyon Crest. Image Wikipedia ©©

At the time of his marriage to Mary KEDWELL at St Margaret's Church Canterbury, in 1751, Jeremiah Dunster was working as a butcher in Bearsted, Kent. This fact, recorded on their marriage record, presented the first problem for me. Why would the son of William Dunster Esq, of Leytonstone, Essex, have been employed as a butcher in Bearsted, Kent? Of course, people did move around even in the 18th century, and I have learned during my years of researching family history to expect surprises. In addition to the problem I had with Jeremiah's occupation, was the name Jeremiah itself. In a family of Lords, Earls, Barons and Kings, I discovered long tradition of names such as Henry, William, Robert and Edward. Of course I realised it was not impossible that Jeremiah belonged to this royal family - in an also very long tradition of Scottish naming patterns in my own McDade family (John, James, Robert and Andrew), my grandfather, Colin Hamilton, was named after the doctor who delivered him when the family simply ran out of names!

Image Wikipedia ©©
Suspicion is a starting point to finding the truth, but thorough research and evidence is needed to support any theory. I knew that I could be wrong. Jeremiah, the butcher of Bearsted, may well have carried the bluest of bloodline and simply have had a passion for carving up and selling meat. His mother might have broken with family tradition and given her son a biblical name or even named him after the local doctor, as happened in my own family. I doubted this, and with the Dunster family's ancestry troubling me, I set off on a quest for evidence to prove once and for all, whether Jeremiah's parents were William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vanderput. 

I must say that cousin Bernice, did a splendid job of trekking around Kent years ago, collecting parish records, and as far back as Jeremiah Dunster the family tree was solidly researched. When she travelled to Kent many years ago to gather information, it was before the age of the internet and Bernice collected copies of original documents from parishes which she visited in person, To do this she had to know which parishes the family lived in. Although in my opinion, nothing beats seeing original old documents and transcribing them oneself, the internet does have the advantage of presenting a wider picture of more than just the parish records in the few parts of Kent that our Dunster cousin visited. I can search for records in Archives and Record Offices in Kent, and in fact all over England, for Jeremiah Dunster's birth and for records relating to William Dunster Esquire and Ann Vandeporte. But although it has benefits for research, the internet is also responsible for the explosion of car crash Dunster family trees copied from each other. On my family tree, Jeremiah Dunster has remained parentless while I searched for evidence, but still he remains perched on many incorrect royal family trees.

I will explain the evidence that I have found to show that William and Ann Dunster were not the parents of Jeremiah Dunster.

Image National Library of NZ, Wikipedia ©©
London born William Dunster Esq., an English politician, and Ann Vanderporte were married at St Olave, Hart Street, London on May 1, 1712. The couple's first child, a daughter Mary, was baptised at St Mary's, Leyton, Essex on March 17, 1712 (apparently before their marriage although this could be a mis-transcription and I have not seen the original document). A second daughter named Jane, was born the following year and was also baptised in St Mary's church in Essex in February 1713. 

In 1748, along with two other prominent Leytonestone residents William Dunster Esq. built a new chapel on the High Road (now the church of St John the Baptist). This chapel, was in part for the benefit of the local poor, and was needed because the increasing population in the area meant that the exisiting church of St Mary's  had become too small.

St Mary's Church, Leytonstone, Essex, Image Wikipedia ©©
William and Ann Dunster both died in Leytonstone in 1754 within several months of each other. Their daughter Jane had passed away before her parents. William and Ann's daughter Mary Dunster, married a wealthy Leyton merchant named Samuel Bosanquet in St Mary's Church, Leytonstone on November 6, 1733. She lived with her husband and children in Leytonestone until her death in 1765. The families of Dunsters and Bosanquets were active members of the Leyton community in Essex, for several generations, if not more.

There is no record of the birth or baptism of a son named Jeremiah, in Leytonstone, Essex or anywhere else in England to William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vanderporte. Lack of a birth or baptism record of course, does not prove or disprove parentage, but this negative evidence further supported my theory. I have created a timeline of events for the lives of William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vandeporte and their two daughters whose baptisms I found in Leytonstone, Essex.

1712 Baptism of Daughter Mary - March 1712, Leytonstone, Essex
1712 Marriage - 1 May 1712, St Olave, London
1713 Birth of Daughter Jane - 1713, Leytonstone Essex
1733 Marriage of Daughter Mary to Samuel BOSANQUET, 6 November 1733, Leytonstone, Essex
1748 Construction of a new Chapel in Leytonstone by William Dunster Esq.
1750 Opening of the Church built by William Dunster Esq.
1754  4 May Probate Granted for William Dunster of Leytonstone
1754 6 September Probate Granted for Will of Ann Dunster, Widow, of Leytonstone, Essex
1765 Death of Mary Bosanquet, daughter of Willam Dunster Esq. and Ann Vandeporte,
         Leytonestone, Essex   

Baptism of Jane Dunster, Leyton Image
In May and August of 1754 probate was granted for William and Ann Dunster's Wills. They were both living in Leyton, Essex at the time of their deaths. These documents are now available to read on, but years ago I paid to have them copied and posted to me by 'snail' mail in Australia from the National Archives in Kew, England.  

Will of William Dunster 2 May 1754
The Wills made by William and Ann Dunster were of great importance in my search since it was here that I finally found  evidence that Jeremiah was not their son. Both Wills are extremely detailed and are many pages long. Both Wills name their ONLY HEIR as MARY BOSANQUET, married to Samuel Bosanquet of Leyton, Essex. Jane assumedly had died prior to these Wills being written.  Ann Dunster's Will is particularly detailed and names nieces, nephews, many family members, friends and even her servants. There is no mention of a son named Jeremiah in William or Ann Dunster's Wills in 1754.

There is further confirmation that the only surviving child of William Dunster Esq. and his wife Ann was a daughter named Mary (Bosanquet). St Mary's Church, Leytonstone has the following memorial on the west wall of the church. 


David Ian Chapman has written a fascinating guide to the memorials in this church in his book,  A Guide to the Interior Memorials in The Parish Church of St Mary's Leyton. A pdf version can be found online here.  The following memorial to the son of Mary Dunster and Samuel Bosanquet is located on the west wall of St Mary's church. I have highlighted the crucial wording in the memorial below -"Mary... sole daughter and heiress of William Dunster Esquire." 

On the north wall of St Mary's church is another memorial to Mary Dunster's husband, Samuel Bosanquet where again it states that Mary was the 'daughter and sole heir of William Dunster late of this Parish Esqr.'.

Samuel Bosanquet, of Forest House. Sacred to the Memories of SAMUEL BOSANQUET of Foreft Houfe in this County Efqr who Died the Fourteenth Day of January 1765 Aged 65 Years And of MARY his Wife (Daughter & Sole Heirefs of WILLIAM DUNSTER late of this Parifh Esqr ) who Died the Fourth Day of Sepr 1765 Aged 53 Years Leaving IfSUE Surviving them two Sons & two Daughters SAMUEL, WILLIAM, ANNA MARIA and MARY Let me Die the Death of the Righteous and Let my last End be like his. Numb XXIII. X

 St Mary’s Church. Grade II* Listed building. Leyton parish church dating back in parts to the mid 17th century although much altered. Domesday book records two priests in 1086, so the current church probably occupies the site of a much earlier building - 35 Church Road, Leyton, London E10 5JP Image ©©
William Dunster Esquire of Leytonstone Essex and Ann Vandeporte both stated in their 1754 Wills that Mary Bosanquet was their sole surviving child. This claim is supported by testimonies in the local church of St Mary's. The Dunsters and Bosanquets of Leyton were great benefactors of the poor. Ann Dunster (Vanderporte)left amounts of money to charitable causes and to her servants. William Dunster cared so much for those less fortunate than himself, that he built a church for the poor of Leyton in 1748. These Dunsters were not the kind of people to leave a son out of their estate when they died. Mary Bosanquet, their only surviving daughter and heiress to their estate, died in 1765 and her own Will made no mention of a brother.

St John the Baptist, Leytonstone, Essex Image Wikipedia

It is important to consider PLACE when searching for PEOPLE. 
William and Ann Dunster and their daughter Mary lived their entire married lives in Leyton, Essex. Jeremiah Dunster lived and worked in Kent. When Jeremiah Dunster married Mary Kedwell in 1751  he was working as a butcher in Bearsted in Kent. By 1756, he was living in Stone in Oxney also in Kent. Jeremiah Dunster and his wife Mary had five children in Stone in Oxney and remained there for their lifetime. Since males sometimes moved to the parish where their bride resided, and vice versa, this discrepancy alone was not sufficient evidence to dispute Jeremiah Dunster's parentage. Alongside other attestations, however, it produces a strong argument that Mary Bosanquet, daughter and heiress of William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vandeporte of Leyton, Essex, most likely did not even know of the existence of Jeremiah Dunster, the butcher in Kent. 

A search throughout all of England for the birth of a Jeremiah Dunster, shows that six people with this name were baptised between 1680 and 1740. Five of these baptisms took place in Kent.  No Jeremiah Dunster were baptised in Essex or was born to parents named William and Ann.

1683 Devizes, Wiltshire [Jeremiah and Susanna]
1701 Biddenden, Kent [John and Elizabeth]
1724 Hawkhursrt, Kent [James and Susannah]
1731 Tenderden, Kent [Jeremiah and Judith]
1738 Charing, Kent [Jeremiah and Mary]
1739 Charing, Kent [Jeremiah and Mary]

I have now researched the lives, marriages and families of each of these Jeremiah Dunsters. By a process of elimination and finding evidence, I have reached a conclusion as to which of the above parents should be on our Dunster family tree. In the near future I hope that DNA will confirm my theory. Out of a mistake will come the truthful ending (albeit less magical than the royal one) for the story of Jeremiah Dunster, the butcher of Bearsted. While writing this post, a song has been playing over and over in my mind. The song is an old favourite of mine called * "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" . The story of my Jeremiah will not end, however, with a frog turning into a prince. Quite the reverse and who his parents are is a tale for another time...

* Originally written by Hoyt Axton and named "Joy to the World". Sung by the band, Three Dog Night. 


Baptism of Jane Dunster,, England Births & Baptisms 1538-    1975,

Baptism of mary Dunster,, England Births & Baptisms 1538- 

Baptism of Jeremiah Dunster, 1756, Stone in Oxney, England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,

Marriage of Jeremiah Dunster and Mary Kedwell, The National Archives; Kew,  England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate    Jurisdictions: Will Registers;  Class: PROB 11; Piece: 810, England & Wales,  Prerogative Court of Canterbury  Wills, 1384-1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:  Operations, Inc., 2013.

Will of William Dunster Esq.,The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of  Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11;  Piece: 808, England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384- 1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013/ accessed 2 September 2017

Will of Ann Dunster, The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 810, England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013/ accessed 1 September 2017

Chapman, David Ian, A Guide to the Interior Memorials in The Parish Church of St Mary's Leyton,

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Ancestral Places Geneameme

My Ancestral Places

Image Wikipedia ©©

Before our Australian National Family History month (August) ends, I have decided to participate in Alona Tester's family history blogging challenge of an alphabetical ancestral place name geneameme. Below are just a few of my ancestral places and some of the ancestral names associated with each place (I have added more names for Germany and Ireland than for other places). The only letters I could find no ancestral place beginning with is U and X athough I do have an ancestral Swiss first name of Xander from the 1500's. Thankyou for this fun geneameme Alona. It has given me the opportunity to reflect on the many and varied places where my ancestors lived and which collectively are all a part of my heritage and identity. This meme has also made me more determined to move forward with my One Place Study!

A - ARDBOE, also spelled Arboe in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland [WHITE, WATTERS]
      ALNWICK, Northumberland [GAIR, GLAYAHORN]
      AYR, Ayrshire, Scotland [MUIR]
      AUCKLAND, New Zealand [HOYES, MORLEY]

B - BINGHAM, Nottingshamshire, England [ RAILTON, NAWLE]
      BEUTELSBACH, Baden-Württemberg, Germany [SIEGLER, SIGLER, BELEKE, SEIDEL]
      BALLYCOMLARGY, Londonderry, Northern Ireland [ CLARKE]
                                         GEISSBUEHLER, KÜMMERLI]
      BROOKEND, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland [WHITE]
      BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia [MCDADE, REECE-HOYES, WESTON]
      BAUPLE, Queensland, Australia [WESTON]

Beutelsbach, Germany Image Wikipedia ©©
C - CRAMLINGTON, Northumberland, England [TAIT/TATE]
      CHADDLEWORTH, Berkshire, England [HIZZEY]
      COOROY, Qweensland, Australia [MORRISON]

D - DENNY, Stirlingshire, Scotland [GIBSON]
      DRAYTON, Darling Downs, Qweensland, Australia [NERGER]
      DOVER, Kent, England [BUTLER]
      DUBLIN, Ireland [FRAYNE]
      DUNDEE, Scotland [LOW]
      DARTFORD, Kent, England [WRATTEN]
      DALBY, Queensland, Australia [THOMPSON]

E - EMMENTHAL, Bern, Switzerland [RYSER]
      ESSINGEN, Baden-Württemberg, Germany [BASSLER]
      EMBLETON, Northumberland [ALLISON]
      ELSTON, Lincolnshire [BRAMLEY]
      EHINGEN, Baden-Württemberg, Germany [DEISS]
      ENSOR, Warwickshire, England [WOOD]

F - FARNSFIELD, Nottinghamshire, England [DAWSON]
      FALKIRK, Stirling, Scotland [CUPPLES]
      FIFESHIRE, Scotland [ADDISON]
      FARNDON, Nottinghamshire [COWDER]

St Peters Farndon, Image Bob Danylec ©©

G - GRANTHAM, Lincolnshire [BERRIFF]
      GYMPIE, Queensland, Australia [NERGER]
      GRUENEN, Switzerland [BURKHARD]
                              ALBRECHT, DIEMER,VEIT, AUGLE, AULT, BASSLER, BAUER, BELKE,
                              BENTZ, BERLI, BOLLER, BRUNNER, BURR, DEISS, DIEBOLD, DIEMER,
                              DOHNI, DOLDERER, DORR, EISELIN, EMENDORFER, ERHARDT,  
                              EUBERT, FAHNLINS, FETZER, FRITZ, GAPERS, GATTER, GEIGER,
                              KUEMMERLI, LAYER, MAUERER, MAYER, PETER, RAMSEYER, RAU, 
                              STERCH, VEIT, VOIGT, VOLLENWEIDER, WAGNER, WELT, WELTON,
                              WENDT, WERDER, WIDMER, WIEDENMANN, WOLF,  ZENDLER]

H - HOUGHAM, Lincolnshire, England [HARDY, MORLEY, SAXELBY]
      HOLBORN, London, England [MANTON]
      HEIMISWIL, Bern, Switzerland [GERBER, RAMSEYER]
      HOKITIKA, New Zealand [CALDWELL]
      HOUGH ON THE HILL, Lincolnshire [COSTALL]
I - IPSWICH, Suffolk, England [TURNER, OSBORNE]
    IPSWICH, Queensland, Australia [MORRISON]
    ITZELBERG, Heidenheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany [KÖNNIG]

      JINDALEE, Queensland, Australia [MCDADE]
      JONDARYAN STATION, Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia [NERGER]

Jondaryan Station c 1872 Oxley Library ©©

      KAIMKILLENBUN, Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia [ WHITE, THOMPSON]
      KILLYKOPY, Ardboe, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland [WHITE]

      LOUGHBRICKLAND, County Down, Northern Ireland [ CUPPLES]
      LEINZELL, Baden-Württtemberg, Germany [DOLDERER]
      LOWICK, Northumberland, England [WILSON]
                                                     DAWSON, HARDY, HARMSTON, COLLINGWOOD,
                                                     COOK, RICHARDSON, HUNTBY, MORLEY,]

M - MARSTON, Lincolnshire, England [MORLEY]
       MARGHERAFELT, Londonderry, Northern Ireland [THOMPSON]
       MARYHILL, Lanarkshire, Scotland [MCDADE, FERRIE, ]

N - NEWARK UPON TRENT, Nottinghamshire [HOYES]
      NEWTON, Auckland, New Zealand [HOYES, SPICKS, MORLEY, WOODS, BATES]
                                                               BONSER, RAILTON]
                                                               HENDERSON, GLAYAHORN, LAWSONN]

      OXNAM NEAR JEDBURGH, Roxburghshire, Scotland [FERRIAR]
      OBERKOCHEN, Ostalbkreis, Baden-Württemberg, Germany [FETZER]
P -  PUERTO CABELLO, Carabobo,Venzezuela [WESTON]
       POPLAR, London, England [BROWNE]
       PROSERPINE, Queensland, Australia [WESTON]
       PIMPANA, Queensland, Australia [WESTON]

Q -  QUADRING, Lincolnshire [BERRY]

Quadring, Lincolnshire Image Wikipedia ©©
R - ROTARUA, New Zealand [HOYES]
      ROSARIO, Argentina [EVANS, SEALY]
      RIVER, Kent, England [EVANS]
      REDDING, Polmont, Stirlingshire, Scotland [FEARNS/FARRINS/FARRENS]

S - STEPNEY, St Dunstan, London [ELLIS]
      SHEPSHED, Leicestershire, England [COOK]
      STRATHFIELD, Sydney, NSW, Australia [MORRISON]
      SEVENTEEN MILE ROCKS, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia [ WHITE]
      SUMISWALD, Bern, Switzerland [RYSER]
      SWAFFHAM, Norfolk, England [PETCH]
      SINGLETON, New South Wales, Australia [WILLIAMS, BUCKLEY, BIRD, FRAYNE]

T - TIEFENBRONN, Baden-Württemberg, Germany [SIEGLER]
      TOOWOOMBA, Qld, Australia [NERGER, SIEGLER]
      TANDIL, Beunos Aires, Argentina [EVANS]
      TAMLAGHT BY MONEYMORE, Londonderry, Northern Ireland [GALWAY]
      TETBURY, Herefordshire, England [SEALY]
      TAMNAVALLEY, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland [WATTERS]

U -

V - VENEZUALA, South America [WESTON]

W - WILLOUGHBY ON THE WOLDS, Nottinghamshire, England [DAWSON]
       WHATTON, Nottinghamshire, England [HEMPSHALL/ HEMPSALL, BONSER]
       WINTERBACHEN, Jagskries,Württemberg, Germany [SIGLER]
       WINNENDEN, Baden-Württemberg, Germany [AUGLE]

Willoughby on the Wolds Image Wikipedia ©©
X -

       YORKSHIRE, England [MILNER]

Z - ZURICH, Switzerland [HÄBERLING]
      ZANG, Heidenheim, Baden-Württemberg [VEIT]

Friday, July 28, 2017

BETSY BIRD - A Fabulous Find on Trove.

Betsy Bird - A Clue Found on Trove

BETSY BIRD! Such a great name! At first it was just a name among others mentioned in an old newspaper article found on the TROVE website while searching for my third great-grandfather, Irish convict Michael FRAYNE. Then one day, in a 'light bulb' moment Betsy BIRD became a significant clue to finding family.
Rice Bunting Drawing Image Wikipedia ©©

When searching for ancestors in newspapers I have found it rewarding to keep a research log where I record the people who are named alongside my own ancestors. I am a strong advocate of the principle of  FAN (Family, Associates and Neighbours) accredited to genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills and of keeping research logs.When I find a birth, death or marriage record or any source of information my ancestors appear in, I document the names of witnesses - in fact anyone mentioned. Sometimes these people, who appear to be completely unrelated, end up becoming a vital clue that confirms a relationship. So it was with Betsy Bird.


In the course of researching my convict ancestor, Michael FRAYNE, I found a wealth of information about him in newspapers on the National Library of Australia website, Trove.
Convicts had their lives officially well documented, much more so than the average ancestor. This is the upside to having criminal forebears. As an added bonus for me, my ancestor never managed to stay on the straight and narrow and as a result, he appeared in the news a considerable amount of times.

 In my quest to find information about my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary WILLIAMS, it was a newspaper report about her husband Michael Frayne that eventually led me to a significant discovery about Mary herself. The seemingly unrelated name of BIRD  in that article and in another later news account became a vital clue to finding Mary's family. Had I not kept these names in a research log, it could have been years before I linked the trail of clues together.

Some families are trickier than others to investigate. I have been led on a merry dance investigating my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary WILLIAMS. I have only Mary's word for the name of her parents, her birth year and place of birth.  I have never have found any official record of her birth or baptism. I have found no marriage for her to Michael Frayne and no marriage or immigration record for her parents. When researching convicts and their descendants one needs to keep in mind that people with criminal records often assumed alias's and were known to cleverly hide their criminal past in a bid for respectability.


The first record I found of Mary Williams was for the birth of her daughter and my two times great-grandmother, Sarah in 1878 in Brisbane, Queensland. Sarah's father was Michael Frayne.
According to the information Mary Williams gave on her daughter's birth certificate, she was born circa 1845 in Singleton, New South Wales, although to date I have found no record of her birth.

Mary Williams documented her birthplace as Singleton, New South Wales throughout her adult life, and consistently gave her parents names as Mary KELLY and Joseph WILLIAMS.
I have found no marriage record in Queensland or New South Wales for Mary Williams and Michael Frayne and curiously on their daughter Sarah's birth record in 1878, Michael stated that he was married in 1858 in Sydney though this was actually the date and place of his marriage to first wife Bridget Donelly..


I know that that Mary lived in Singleton, New South Wales since on January 26 1861 in that town she married James BUCKLEY. Her mother MARY BIRD gave consent to the marriage since Mary was stated to be under age. So by 1861 my 4th great-grandmother, Mary Kelly (if Kelly was her real name) had become Mary Bird. From newspaper accounts I learned that Mary Bird was a mid-wife working in Singleton and Maitland.

Image of Nurse/ Midwife in Public Domain, Wikipedia ©©
A number of sources confirmed for me that by 1864, Michael Frayne was also living in Singleton. In March of 1864, according to a news source Michael became the Licencee of The Golden Fleece Hotel in George Street, Singleton (he had been granted a conditional pardon in Sydney in 1862) and his wife Bridget died in Singleton in August 1864.

Fortunately for me, Michael found it difficult to stay out of trouble and was constantly mentioned in local newspapers being charged with one thing or another and appearing in the Singleton Police Court. People who frequented his hotel were often called as witnesses and their names were reported in newspapers as well.

Maitland Mercury Newspaper building. Image  WIKI ©©
Recently I found a news item about Michael Frayne which appeared on Thursday, August 25, 1864, in The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advisor, reporting that Michael was charged with breaching the Publican's act by 'allowing disorderly conduct to take place in his licensed public-house".  I didn't doubt the fact, and I recorded all names mentioned in the article in my research log.


The names I recorded apart from the judge, the constable and the legal persons were BETSY BIRD, MRS BUCKLEY and RUTH ROSE and in fact it was the alleged 'disorderly' conduct of these three women in Michael's hotel that had caused him to be charged. Witnesses including one Fanny Dawson however exhonerated the reputations of the three women and the charge against Michael Frayne was dismissed 'with a caution.'

Image Maitland Mercury and Hunter River Advisor, August 25 1864, p. 3.,Trove

The name that caught my attention, was BETSY BIRD. I knew that Mary's mother was calling herself Mary Bird by 1861 and the fact that Betsy was behaving in a disorderly way (or not) alongside a Mrs Buckley (the married name of my Mary Williams) gave me cause to think I might have just found an aunt or even a sister for my 3rd great-grandmother.


Try as I did, I could find no way to link Mary Williams and Betsy Bird. There was no marriage for a Mary Kelly to a man named Bird (in fact no one seemed to stand on ceremony in this family and actually get married!) . I found an Elizabeth Bird born in Sydney in 1847 to John Bird and Mary Reilly but no Mary Kelly or Williams as the mother. I had all but given up, when a newspaper search for 'Mary Bird in Singleton' resulted in the following artlicle - Singleton Police Court on August 29, 1865  for "Vagrancy - Elizabeth WILSON, Mary BIRD and Caroline EVERETT for being idle and disorderly characters, receiving each a sentence of three months imprisonment in Singleton with hard labour."
Female Convicts at labour. Image Wikipedia ©©


Because Elizabeth is often shortened to Betsy, in a 'light bulb' moment it occurred to me that Elizabeth Wilson and Betsy Bird could be one and the same person and perhaps she had married between court appearances in 1864 and 1865. Checking marriages for those years turned up nothing. When I widened the search I found her -  BETSY BIRD married GEORGE WILSON in SINGLETON on January 7 1862.

Consent for Betsy's marriage was given by her mother MARY BIRD since she was underage - it seems that marrying off her underage daughters was something of a habit for my 4th great-grandmother Mary!

The most convincing evidence on this marriage document linking Betsy Bird to my Mary Williams was the name of the witness - JAMES BUCKLEY - the brother-in-law of Betsy Bird and Mary William's husband.  I had found my evidence to support my theory that Mary Williams and Betsy Bird were sisters - in all likelihood half sisters sharing a mother named Mary Bird.

When Betsy appeared in the 1864 news report she was already married to George Wilson. Had her married name of Wilson been used I would never have connected her to the name Bird or to my family.


I may never know who my 4th great-grandparents really were other than to know that in the 1860's my 4 times great- grandmother went by the name of Mary Bird. They may well have been named Mary Kelly and Joseph Williams and it is quite likely that they were convicts. I will continue to investigate convicts with these names, however,  I suspect that that DNA will eventually be the only way to confirm whether Kelly and Williams are my ancestral names.

I am very excited to have a new 4th great aunt whose trail I can now follow and who knows, she may have descendants!

All this from two newspaper reports and the name BETSY BIRD.


Mary WILLIAMS - my 3rd great-grandmother
Michael FRAYNE - 2nd husband of Mary Williams and my 3rd great-grandfather
Mary / KELLY/BIRD - mother of Mary Williams  and Betsy Bird and my 4th great-grandmother
James BUCKLEY - first husband of Mary Williams
Betsy BIRD/ Elizabeth WILSON - half sister to Mary Williams and my 3rd great-aunt

Monday, April 25, 2016

In Flanders Fields....

In Flanders fields the poppies grow, Between the crosses row on row....

On or about the 26th of October, 1917. These were the words  which officially described the death of Private Ralph Gair , Service Number 203219, of the Northumberland Fusiliers (1/6th and 1/4th) who was killed in action at Ypres in Flanders at the age of 25 years. Information regarding his death can be found on FindmyPast in the GRO war deaths, army and other ranks, 1914 -1921 record set entitled British Nationals Armed Force Deaths 1796 - 2005.   Ralph Gair was my first cousin three times removed. This Anzac Day, 2014, rather than writing about an Australian military ancestor, I have chosen to remember this cousin from Northumberland, England,  who was killed during active service during World War One. 

Ralph Gair was born in 1892 to Ralph senior, the brother of my great great grandmother, Hannah Tait Gair.  Hannah whose married name  was Morrison. Hannah, along with her husband John Morrison,  was a pioneer of Cooroy in Queensland, Australia and was living in Australia in 1917, when her nephew Ralph was killed at Passchendaele in Belgium. His memorial as a soldier missing, killed in action, is in the Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium. Information about Tyn Cot and other World War One memorials for soldiers in the 4th Territorial Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers can be found here.

Tyn Cot Memorial Foto: Johan S 17:12, 1 December 2006 (UTC) Reproduced under Creative Commons ©© Wikipedia

The UK Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901 - 1929 shows that Ralph's personal effects following his death, were sent to his widow Gertrude Isabella Spark (known as Isabella), whom he had married in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1916. Ralph was killed in action barely a year after he married Isabella. I can only imagine the distress Isabella Gair suffered on receiving the news that her loved one had been killed on foreign soil and would not be returning home.

Image taken by Brooks during the Battle of Broodseinde, showing a group of soldiers of the 8th East Yorkshire Regiment moving up to the front, silhouetted against the skyline.Wikipedia ©©

The Army Museum website is an excellent resource for family historians researching UK soldiers, from the Army register of effects.

Ralph Gair's Receipt for Attestation which is listed as a British Army Pension record on, shows that in May of 1916, prior to his marriage, he was in the 6th battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. Ralph Gair's attestation form would have been completed at the time he enlisted and is dated May 8, 1916. Some interesting sources of information online regarding  British Attestation forms can be found here, (British) and here (Australian).
Ralph Gair, as a member of both the 6th and 4th Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers, participated in the following battles:

Battle of the Somme 1916 - This occurred in France from July 1 to November 18, 1916 on both sides of the River Somme. Information about this battle can be found via this link.

Battle of Somme, Image Wikipedia ©©

Battle of Arras 1917 April  9 - May 16, 1917

Third Battle of Ypres also known as The Battle of Passchendaele July to November 1917

Image taken at Chateau Wood near Hooge, Ypres October 29, 1917  Wikipedia ©©

Ralph Gair's wife Isabella never remarried and died carrying his name in Spetember of 1965, almost 48 years after his death in the First World War.


Flanders Poppies Image Wikipedia ©©

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A - Z April Blogging - B for a Beedle, a Bellman and a Bard

B is for a Beedle, a Belman and a Bard

I am running a little behind schedule in the April A-Z blogging challenge, however, I have a wonderful excuse, which is the birth  seven days ago of a beautiful new grandson. I am completely besotted with all 9 lb 11 oz and 59 cm of him! But a new baby in the family does mean for this Oma, less time for blogging and more time for cuddles so for my 'B' post today, I am linking here to a blog that I wrote in 2011 entitled "A Beedle, a Bellman and a Bard". I belive it is worth resurrecting a post from time to time if  the information contained within is still relevant. This particular post shows how and what I discovered about my 6th great grandfather, Edward Manton through a search of Google books.  For those who have read my post in the past, I hope you will enjoy the revisit and for those who are new to my blog I hope you are inspired to search google books for information about your ancestors. And now....grandmother 'duties' beckon.....

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A -Z 2016 Family History

A For Abbreviations and Acronyms

Image Wikipedia ©©

If the above image looks like something you view regularly, then there is a good chance that you are a genealogist! Family history records are filled with abbreviations and acronyms and until you becaome familiar with or have references for at hand, these often confusing terms can make researching your ancestors quite a challenge. Finding the abbr. (abbreviation) Ad.D or Ad.M or ds. on a record might leave you scratching your head, until you discover out that they are abbreviations for adopted daughter, adopted mother and deaths.  Family history research reveals a wealth of abbreviated language and one almost needs to be a linguist to decipher various records. Having a list of references at hand can be the key to translating the many abbreviations and acronyms used on the documents you read and understanding your ancestors' lives.

This blog post is the first of my contributions to the A -Z 2016 Blog Challenge .  For this week's challenge I am posting some links to references and resources regarding abbreviations and acronyms that I have found useful in my own research. Most of the following resources can be accessed online, through archives, libraries, organisations and blogs. I have also included links to some catalogues and books.

Along the genealogy journey you will encounter records containing commonly used abbreviations  for names, places, occupations, relationships between family memebers, medical conditions and legal terms, to name a few examples. A better understanding of the present accepted codes of abbreviations and acronyms as well as those unfamiliar and confusing ones in the past will enable you to make the most of the information you find on census, births, marriage, death, military, legal and other documents.

I hope these links will provide you with some understanding of the common and even not so common genealogical abbreviations and acronyms that can be road blocks on your genealogical journey. You are welcome to share any helpful references of your own that are not listed below.




Sunday, March 27, 2016

BIRTH PEDIGREE CHART - some genealogy fun!


A new craze has swept through the genealogy world over the past week or so, attributed to J Paul Hawthorne. His colour birth pedigree chart has become a bigger 'hit' than adult colouring books. It is an excellent way to visualise our ethnic backgrounds and I have finally done my own  colour pedigree chart. I am planning to do another one to take in further generations since I think it would look much more colourful. Many thanks to Paul for sharing his creative idea with the rest of we genies who can't resist some fun! 

I found it an interesting excercise to compare my colour pedigree chart with my autosomal DNA ethnicity. 

Below is my autosomal DNA ethnicity. Taking into consideration that my paternal line of Scots McDades originated in Ireland, I think my colour chart reflects my DNA origins quite well.

35 % Ireland
31 % East European
13 % Great Britain
9  % Scandinavia
5  % West European

My 5 generation colour pedigree chart