Saturday, 14 July 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 26, Black Sheep


Are there truly people who are black sheep ? Isn’t that label just a judgement we have cast upon someone who chose a different path to the norm, or to us ? Do they see themselves as misfits and rebels ? Or as progressive and adventurous ?

Anyway, I can’t think who to write about for this. My brickwall people aren’t really black sheep, they are just secret keepers, or actually too normal and not attracting attention to get themselves documented and more easily found.

So, I’m going out of the box again, way out on a lateral tangent with this topic. I saw something recently that said about 7% of American adults (16.4 million !) actually thought chocolate milk came from brown cows.

Black wool comes from black sheep, white wool from white sheep; are there actually rainbow coloured sheep out there somewhere in a paddock I’ve not yet found ? I don’t believe so. But now that I have segued myself to where I want to be, let’s talk about knitting.

People have been knitting for a long time, fashioning items of clothing, working on a frame and making blankets and the like. Soldiers knitted in the trenches and in past centuries many men knitted alongside their womenfolk.

My Bartlett forebears were glovers & sailmakers from Somerset. My Coopers were tailors – did they knit too ?

I remember both my grandmothers knitting and crocheting. My mother and my aunts all knit too. Skills they all learned while young, passed on by their mothers. I learnt to knit too although I have never been a great producer of knitted garments. It is something I do sporadically. Scarves, jumpers, cardigans, baby booties, bonnets, dresses and hats, blankets.

I remember my first attempts which involved either lots of dropped stitches and holes needing to be rescued and repaired by my patient teachers, or rows where extra stitches seemed to multiply exponentially when they didn’t need to.

Sadly it is a skill which I haven’t successfully passed on. I’m still working on that. Kids don’t wear knitted homespun garments now, like they used to. Perhaps the children of hipsters and eco warriors will once more, in the future.

Here in Australia, there seem to be woollen mills everywhere. The wool industry is alive and well. In New Zealand it seems to have become very artisan and expensive, sheep farming appears to be not be as common as it was when I was younger. Dirty dairying is on the rise. (Seriously how much milk does a tiny country need ?)

Anyways, thanks for passing on these skills to me, Mum and Nana. Maybe one day I will be a super knitter too. Maybe I’ll start a knitting club, or classes to teach others. Although I do remember once attempting to teach my Brownie pack to knit and nearly tearing my hair out, so maybe not 20 students at a time ! Perhaps I should have learned this rhyme

In through the front door
Run around the back
Down through the window
And off jumps Jack.

Maybe that would have made the task clearer for them all. Meantime, I’m off to finish a jumper I have taken over and dream about one day when I’m feeling more settled and I can knit (and craft) to my heart’s content.

Baa baa black sheep
Have you any wool ?
Yes sir ! Yes sir !
Three bags full.
One for my master, one for my dame,
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 25, Same Name


Who to choose ? The repetitive use of the same small pool of names was one of the first things to captivate my interest in family history. That and the custom of naming subsequent children with the name bestowed on their non-surviving elder siblings. I've picked three, all slightly different examples of "same name".

My 2x great grandfather James Davys, coincidentally born 193 years ago this week (26 June 1825), was the 4th James Davys in a row of direct ancestors. He broke the pattern, only giving his name as a second Christian name to one of his sons. But it was back a generation later, when his son Francis named his eldest son James and started it again. That James has a namesake in every subsequent generation and was my Dad’s uncle. So although the same name continued it was no longer part of my direct line.

In 1870 my great grandmother’s aunt Harriett started something I bet she never expected. She named her second daughter Minnie Mildred. Six years later Harriett’s elder brother George named his eldest daughter Minnie Mildred. In 1880 Minnie was #32 on the top 200 names for girls in Britain and Mildred was #106, so relatively popular I guess. The first Minnie Mildred emigrated to New Zealand with her parents and named one of her own daughters as her name sake in 1896. George’s family however took the name to a whole new level. His daughter Minnie Mildred bestowed her name, including her maiden surname on one of her daughters in 1895. George’s son William named one of his daughters Minnie Mildred in 1905, and included the surname of the first Minnie Mildred. Then George’s son Arthur gave the name to his fourth daughter in 1910. There was another, just Minnie, in 1898; granddaughter of George and Harriett’s elder brother Henry. William’s daughter Minnie (1905) went on to give one her daughters a different variation in 1934. His son William emigrated to the USA and named one of his daughters Mildred Langford in 1922. Maybe it is still carrying on…who knows ?

Minnie Mildred Langford b 1870
Minnie Mildred Kelsey b 1876
Minnie Mildred Kelsey Evans b 1895
Minnie Mildred Lang b 1896
Minnie Kelsey b 1898
Minnie Mildred Langford Kelsey b 1905
Minnie Mildred Kelsey b 1910
Mildred Langford Kelsey b 1922
Mildred Kelsey Wotherspoon b 1934

Harriett’s line / George’s line / Henry’s line (none of the abovenamed are living)

In this same family there are at least nine occurrences of William Henry as well. Hmmm.

Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth. The first two I understand – since Elizabeth #1 died in infancy. Why though name the third daughter Elizabeth as well ? I believe it is an error as the younger one later seemed to become Eliza. Just to make things slightly trickier to untangle Elizabeth #2 and Elizabeth #3 (Eliza) went on to marry brothers.



Thursday, 21 June 2018

Midwinter weekend on an island off an island surrounded by other islands

So, it is that midwinter time of year again. Always special to celebrate the solstice of shortest days and longest nights and look forward to when it happens again, but in reverse.

It is a pretty special day for a birthday too.

Anyway, this year we went to Hobart for the weekend. Not my idea - I'm all about NOT spending money at the moment, but Lauren had planned to go for the midwinter festival held there (Dark Mofo) as her treat to herself for her birthday. She said I could tag along, so I thought - why not ?

We'd been watching the weather so were prepared for the cold and rain - and it was such a refreshing change to the dry dry dry climate in central Victoria. It hampered some of our activities, but we had rented a car, so managed not to get too drenched or be constant icicles.

We had an early flight from Melbourne, so we had gone on a shuttle on Friday night and stayed at the airport. Not the greatest Holiday Inn we have ever stayed in, but convenient. The weather on arrival was crisp, but the sun was out and the rain clouds looked far enough away to not spoil our exploring.

We had a little wander around the Salamanca Market 300+ stalls selling food, drink, bric-a-brac and handcrafts - most locally made. Travelling only with carry-on makes you a discerning shopper though.

We were pretty hungry, no breakfast because of the early start, and you might remember we have had hangry travel experiences before. So we found somewhere - with the perfect name, and as it turned out perfect food.



We managed to get almost all the way to the top of Mt Wellington - part of the road was closed - but we got to the lookout anyway. By the time we walked back to the car the rain had arrived. Only a fine drizzle. The cloud and mist hung about the hills, it's a long time since we have seen that ! Scotland; Wellington.




On the way down the hill we stopped by the Cascades Brewery for photos, not tasting and then the Female Factory. We wandered about in the mizzle thinking about the women who had spent time there, sent to the other end of the planet mostly for petty misdemeanours centuries ago.




We stayed in Battery Point which looks so English you could imagine just being transported back to Georgian times. It is just a 10 minute walk to the city centre. 









I had coffee and cake with Christina Henri who is running a project to memorialise the 25000+ women transported to Australia as convicts between 1787 and 1868. It was wonderful to meet her and handover the bonnets I had made for the project.




Dinner was at the Winterfest on the waterfront - in the drizzly rain. Outside there were foodtrucks selling all sorts of deliciousness and inside there were more food and drink choices. Also inside was the seated banquet. Long, long tables adorned with candles and bathed in red light, people enjoying each others company. Such an awesome idea.








By now the rain had really begun to set in, so we braved the crowds to get some delicious donuts from Lady Hester Eats and an orange & cinnamon hot chocolate with coconut milk to take back to our private hotel.



 an iron for every adornment you could imagine (lace, frills, fluting) new admiration of laundresses

Sunday we went to an exhibition each which we enjoyed separately then set off for a drive. We had hoped to go to the miniature village Old Hobart Town in Richmond but the rain put paid to that. Then some poor navigating led us on a very roundabout journey to Oatlands. Had we been thinking more clearly we should have just taken the opportunity to drive to Launceston and explore there as well. (Next time). 

Carrington Mill, Oatlands

We'd thought about going to Bruny Island, so after a stop at the Old Kempton Distillery we carried on to Kettering. But it was late in the day, and the weather really was looking like a ferry trip might not be the most fun thing to do.

After a night time wander along the foreshore we found our way through the city to pick up pizza for dinner from Amici. Delicious. 





Monday we went back to Solstice for breakfast because it had been sooo delicious on Saturday, then drove to Port Arthur stopping at the Tessellated Pavement on the way. The tide wasn't right but we got some photos anyway.




 A fossil ? Or petrified wood ?







Port Arthur was a much larger site than I had thought, we wandered about on our own wishing there was a little more information on display. Pretty tricky holding an umbrella and camera while trying to read a foldout paper map. It is amazing that so much has survived there...but there is still potential to develop the experience further in my opinion; especially for independent visitors who don't want to join over-sized walking tours where you struggle to keep up or hear what the guide is saying. We didn't have time to spend in the visitor centre either as we had to get back for the flight home.




...and then we were home.



Friday, 15 June 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 24, Fathers' Day


I wrote about my Dad and my grandfathers as part of the #52Stories blog challenge last year, and also it isn’t Fathers’ Day in Australia or New Zealand until later in the year. I wrote about my great grandmothers for Mothers’ Day this year; so great grandfathers...these four are all DNA confirmed too.

Francis Davys 
was born 11 January 1854 probably at Hurstone Farm in Milverton, Somerset. He was the 3rd son in the family. His birth certificate gives his place of birth only as Milverton. I was hoping it would narrow down the date when his parents had moved from Nethercott Farm near Lydeard St Lawrence where his 2 elder brothers were born, and where they were still living at the 1851 census. But no.

His father’s family had been associated with the Milverton area and adjacent parishes since at least the middle of the 17th century. They were farmers, landowners or leaseholders, with connections to many other notable families in the district. When he was seven years old, Francis emigrated to New Zealand with his parents and five brothers. They arrived in Auckland in 1862, part of the Albertland scheme to settle at Port Albert near Wellsford. On arrival it became apparent that the information they had been given prior to leaving England was not at all what it had seemed. The land was not particularly arable, the transport options to travel from Auckland to the Hokianga were not entirely reliable and the settlement itself was floundering. Many settlers did not go and claim their land at all. It is unclear whether they made the journey, or whether they elected to stay in Auckland and not go to Port Albert at all. Auckland was still a fledgling city, but with a little more resource and infrastructure than Port Albert.

The family did stay in Auckland for a time and a daughter was born a year after they arrived. By the time he was fifteen and his second sister was born in 1869, they had moved to Tararu on the Coromandel Peninsula on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf. Here the older boys and their father were gold mining. By the late 1870s-early 1880s most of the family had moved again to the Waikato and taken up farming. Later some of his brothers ran a sawmill at Rukuhia, and one became a builder in Cambridge and owned a timber yard there. Francis lived in Papakura for some years after he married Sarah Hall there in 1885 before moving to Taupiri where he and his brothers had another sawmill.  

At the end of 1907 they moved again, to Tamahere, where they lived until the end of 1913 on the corner opposite the church. I believe they had a shop there and ran the Post Office. They moved to Hamilton in early 1914, where Francis died on 11 March that year.

William Cooper 
was born 1 February 1867 at Kekerengu, North Canterbury. He was the 9th child and 4th son in his family. His parents were both immigrants having arrived in Wellington with their parents in 1841 & 1842. William’s father was a tailor, probably employed at Kekerengu Station.  Some of William’s maternal uncles also worked on the station as shepherds and one as an overseer. They all had large families, so he would have grown up in a sizeable extended family with many cousins. When he was about four his family moved south to the township of Kaikoura where his father continued to find work as a tailor. His three youngest siblings were born in Kaikoura. When he was about nine or ten his mother left the family, taking with her the three youngest children.

William became a builder, learning the trade possibly from his brother-in-law Tom Cooke, the husband of one of his elder sisters. Tom had initially come to New Zealand with his cousin William who established a business as an ironmonger, builder and contractor. Tom left his young family and returned to England in the late 1880s though. So it may have been William Cooke then, not Tom, who taught this William his trade.

By the 1890s William had moved to the Horowhenua, perhaps via Wellington. He married Emma Bartlett in Manakau in 1894. Their first three children were born there before they moved to Levin in 1899 where he built the new Post Office which was opened in 1903. About 1910 they moved to the Waikato and farmed at Elstow near Te Aroha until about 1918 when they moved further north to Auckland, before moving to Hamilton in 1921. They spent most of the 1930’s farming again near Katikati, returning briefly to Hamilton where he had built houses. He also built a home in Mission Bay Auckland and they lived there for a couple of years, returning to live in Hamilton in 1943. Emma and William celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1944. Emma died in 1945 and a few years later William remarried.

He was reportedly visited by a man claiming to be his nephew from Australia, the son of one of his sisters who had left with his mother many years ago. This encounter was emphatically denied later, but was remembered by others who heard accounts of it at the time. He died 4 January 1961 in Hamilton.

John William Fuller 
was born 3 June 1866 in Christchurch, Canterbury. He was the 2nd and youngest son of immigrant parents who had arrived in Christchurch in 1860. His father was a miller by trade and worked at and built a number of mills in early Christchurch. They lived in Fendalton, Riccarton, Avonside, Sydenham and Waltham. John was baptised at St Luke’s on the corner of Kilmore and Manchester Streets. The church was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake and has since been demolished.

When he was almost twelve and his brother eighteen, his mother died. (So much for the story about her running off and their father needing to employ a wet-nurse ! Wonder where that story started ?) At this time they were living in Second Street, Waltham; sometimes described not as a street, but as a collection of houses. Today it is more Sydenham than Waltham and is named Sandyford Street and Byron Street. This location was close to the railway station and there were a number of mills and bakers in the area. In 1890 John appeared on the electoral roll at his father’s address in Stirling St Sydenham (now Cass Street). At this time his father also appeared on rolls for Ellesmere and Geraldine where he was working as a miller at Irwell and Pleasant Point. John was likely employed with the Railways by now, where he worked all his working life.

In the late 1890s he was living with his elder brother, his family and their father in Riccarton. It was here that he met his wife Edith Vose. They were married on 8 May 1901 in Sydenham. They lived their entire married life on the property which had been left to Edith by her elder brother Samuel and raised a family of five. John enjoyed photography and colourised pictures by hand. He was also a bit of an artist and some sketches survive that he made of the view from his window when ill in bed. He was also a fan of radio and would spend hours in his shed tinkering to receive a clear signal on shortwave. One afternoon his children hid outside and played a short recital to trick him – but that is another story. John died in Christchurch on 17 November 1942.

George Timms 
was born 20 August 1877 in Stamford Place Milverton, Warwickshire. He was the 2nd son and youngest child in his family. When he was 6 months old his mother died, responsibility for his care and for his elder brother and sisters mostly likely fell on his eldest sister. In 1881, his second eldest sister was living out of the family home, in service. Alice aged 18 and Mary 13 were probably managing the house, perhaps with some support from their maternal grandparents who lived next door, while their father worked. In 1883, his father remarried to a widow who lived across the lane, this probably relieved Alice and Mary of some of their household duties.

At least two of his sisters moved away from Leamington, and most of his siblings were married by the start of the 20th century. George followed a similar career path to his father and became a groom and then a coachman.  He was employed as the coachman at Cranford House, on Kenilworth Road when he married Laura Kelsey in 1901. The first two of their four children were born there before they moved back into Leamington.

In Leamington he became a motor car driver and later a taxi driver. Life threw Laura a few curve balls resulting in her becoming an absent parent and spending twenty years in an asylum. George raised his children mostly alone, depending on the eldest to help out in the home, in the same street where had had lived as a child. Life was strict though, if they saw him driving in the street they were not to acknowledge him at all. Since most of his sisters lived away from Leamington, and his brother lived some distance away it is unclear whether there was any other support available to the family. One aunt did live very close by, but from all accounts theirs was not a harmonious relationship.

His eldest daughters moved abroad to New Zealand in the 1920s. He died on 5 August 1939 from a fall down the stairs, perhaps a stroke.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 23, Going to the Chapel


Are you singing it ?
Those four words always make me start singing “Chapel of Love” – The Dixie Cups (1964).

Going to church every week, sadly hasn’t always been a “thing” for me. We did go as a family at Christmas, and for a time Mark and I attended Sunday School.

My most regular visits to churches were as a Brownie and then a leader with my own units meeting in church halls.

I have always loved the peacefulness though, the stained glass, the architecture (large and small) and smell of old books and timber.

I do go on lots of journeys to visit churches though, to rediscover them and walk in the steps of my forebears. There are some that are really special for me and which I feel connected to each time I pass.



St Catherine, Montacute, Somerset, England at the opposite end of Middle Street to the entrance to Montacute House, near the Kings Arms Inn, stands the parish church dating from the 12th century. It is Grade II listed. There has been a church on the site since before 1085. This is the church where my 3xgreatgrandfather Samuel Cooper married twice. In the margin of the record book next to the entry for his second marriage to my 3xgreatgrandmother in 1821, it is noted that theirs was the first marriage held since the refurbishment of the chancel. His family and hers are a little difficult to trace, his first wife’s family had been in the parish many years – the record books are filled with entries for them. His mother and a brother appear on the vestry minutes being supported by the parish and later doing some work and repair. Samuel appears too, receiving parish relief for his children after the death of his first wife.


St James the Great, Old Milverton, Warwickshire, England can be found at the end of Old Milverton Road, past the village hall and Park Farm. The site has been a place of worship since the early 12th century. The chapel of Milverton was included in the grant of Leek Wootton church to the Kenilworth priory. The current building though, only dates from the 19th century. This is the church where my great grandparents George and Laura (nee Kelsey) Timms married in 1901; where my grandmother and her elder sister were baptised. Possibly her younger sister and brother were baptised here too. I have never been inside, each time I have visited it has been locked. Next time maybe.


St Michael, Raddington, Somerset, England sits atop a hill near the county border with Devon. This church dates from 13th and 14th century and is Grade I listed. It has been closely associated with my Davys family since at least 17th century when my 7xgreat grandfather was in possession of the manor there. Generations have worshipped there and are buried in the churchyard. I have some more information about the church and some of the houses and farms connected to the family on an annotated map which I created for one of my diploma units. Check it out if you are interested in more.



St Andrew, Kemberton, Shropshire, England on Mill Lane opposite the village hall has a large churchyard, but not many surviving headstones. The church is Grade II listed and the current building dates mostly from the 19th century. The site though is medieval and remnants of a 13th century building remained until the late 18th century when a new church was built. Marriages, baptisms and burials took place here for some of the family of my 3xgreatgrandparents Thomas and Sarah (nee Hulett) Kelsey. His family had lived in the area since at least the late 18th century.



Parish church, Kilmonivaig, Invernesshire, Scotland is at the end of the road near the old school house above Spean Bridge. It was built around 1812 under the direction of the Reverend John McIntyre. He was also instrumental in the building of the school next door. It has a beautifully kept churchyard filled with large headstones, including one for Rev McIntyre placed by his parishioners. Still in use is the communion plate which was first used in the early 19th century. His father was also a Reverend of the neighbouring Kilmaille parish. One of his younger brothers Duncan was Lauren’s 4xgreatgrandfather who emigrated to Australia in 1836.



Old St Paul Cathedral, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand is a timber church built on the site of the Pipitea Marae. Bishop Selwyn purchased a parcel of land in 1843, but the church was not built until 1865-1866. An earlier church stood on the site now occupied by the Beehive in Parliament Grounds. Old St Paul’s is one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival in the world and is built from native timbers. It is Category 1 listed. By the time it was completed my branches of the Cooper and Barratt families had left Wellington for Marlborough. Their remaining family may well have worshipped there and celebrated family events. It was the cathedral for the Wellington Diocese from 1866-1964 when a new cathedral was built on Molesworth Street. Threatened with demolition it was saved by public campaigning.



St John in the Wilderness, Koromiko, Marlborough, New Zealand sits by the side of State Highway 1 near Picton Airfield. It was built about 1871 from locally milled timber at a cost of £131 and served the community of Waitohi Valley. It is Category 2 listed. It was opened by Bishop Suter the second Bishop of the Nelson Diocese and is still in regular use. Katherine Mansfield attended services there while visiting relatives in Picton. It is the church where my 2xgreatgrandparents George and Sarah (nee Laney) Bartlett baptised their third daughter, my great grandmother in 1875.

There are plenty more on my “hope to see one day” list too.