Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A sad end in the tale of Joseph Dickinson's life..

Last week I posted about the Cameron's and McIntyres, this week my story is about Joseph Dickinson who was the father of Sarah Ann who married Alexander McIntyre. Here is what I knew until Trove gave me a hint.

Joseph was a plasterer, he is mentioned in Errol Lea-Scarlett's book "First light on the Limestone Plains". He lived in the Queanbeyan area, at Bungendore, Braidwood, Garryowen, Micalago and at one point at Willaroo, Lake George. From what I have discovered Willaroo was a homestead owned by the Cooper family - maybe he was employed there ? But that apparently is where his family was living when Sarah was born around 1846. Not that I have been able to find a birth record for her. From Sarah's marriage certificate in 1862 I also learned that her mother was Ann, nee Blackman. So I had two names to try to find a marriage for the next step backward - but no luck. I've not been able to find any births for other children of Joseph and Ann either, using various spelling options for Dickinson. Judging by the size of all the other families on this side of the tree I felt sure she must have had siblings. Sarah went on to have 15 children of her own, from her marriage at age 17 until after the arrival of her first grandchildren 27 years later.

Ann Dickinson's death certificate in 1870 gave me her place of birth - Hastings Kent, and marriage place Sydney (whatever !) plus children - two daughters and one son. Names, I want names. A couple of years after Ann's death, Joseph remarried Sarah Ann Davis nee Finnegan, a widow. From this certificate I learned Joseph's parents names and his birthplace, London. With all this, I still cant find any record of either him or Ann arriving in New South Wales prior to Sarah's birth in 1846. I had a bit of a look for his death, but there was nothing obvious, so I had put him into the "one day" basket.

Then "one day" wiling away the hours searching on Trove for different surnames I came a cross a few accounts of him in the Queanbeyan Age. It would seem that Joseph was a bit of a drinker as 3 out of 5 of the articles about him comment on this.

The earliest mention of him (and possibly Margery McIntyre nee Cameron from last weeks blog) was on a list of subscriptions or donations towards assisting the Irish and Scots to emigrate to Australia in 1847. This was around Famine time in Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. I knew about the Irish one from history at school, but the Scots one was new to me.

Sydney Chronicle (NSW 1846-1848) 11 Sept 1947 article31753309-3-002

The next article (so far) in 1864 found him mentioned in the inquiry into the death of a bullock driver Thomas Tinham of Charnwood. This article was the first mention of Joseph's relationship with alcohol "Dickinson was very drunk at the time of making this enquiry and could scarcely sit his horse"

Queanbeyan Age 30 June 1864 article30634852-3-001

Then in 1872 he seems to have had more trouble sitting on his horse again, as well as being nibbled on by some form of wildlife as he lay incapacitated on the road.

Queanbeyan Age 28 Mar 1872 article30582753-3-001

Since Sarah is the only child I know anything about, I wondered if she was the "lucky" daughter who had her father delivered to her doorstep. With six children under 11 and another on the way, I cant imagine she'd have been very impressed. About three weeks after this incident Joseph married the Sarah Davis, I wonder what she thought about the whole thing ?

I remember being pleasantly surprised to see Edwin and Harriet Tandy as witnesses to Joseph's wedding in 1872. Harriet (nee Jenner) was a half sister of his son-in-law Alexander McIntyre, so the marriage certificate was helping to build their story too. Joseph also appears in Greville's Post Office directory in 1872 as a plasterer in Queanbeyan.

In 1874 he was in court giving evidence about a former employee who had forged his signature and taken an order to the store to purchase items of clothing for himself.

Queanbeyan Age (NSW 1867-1904) 22 August 1874 article30596596-3-001

The Queanbeyan Quarter Sessions held on 21 October were reported in the Queanbeyan Age 24 October 1874. Charles Colman entered a plea of not guilty, after listening to the testimonies and seeing the evidence "His Honour, in passing sentence, said it appeared to him that the prisoner had had a very bad example set to him at home, but that his conduct whilst in jail had been very good. He had been in custody since the 20th August. Considering these circumstances, and the youth of the prisoner, he would pass as mild a sentence as possible - which was that he be imprisoned in Darlinghurst jail for two years. If, however, at the end of six months prisoner's conduct was found to be good, he would promise him, in the event of his presenting a petition to his Excellency, and that petition was referred to him, as in all probability it would be, he would recommend a remission of his sentence from that time"

The next article I came across was at the end of Joseph's life. It was a detailed account of his demise and included the testimony of his wife Sarah, although they were at this point estranged. But at last, thanks to finding this article with its tragic story I had a death date for him.

Queanbeyan Age (NSW 1867-1904) 7 December 1878 article30674671-3-002

To make it trickier his widow Sarah had registered his death with an extra christian name to try to throw me off track again. But I duly ordered the death certificate for GEORGE Joseph Dickinson, hoping it might gift me the names of at least one of his other children. But no, all I got was "No issue this marriage" and "2 children by a former wife" - what happened to the 3rd child mentioned on Ann's death certificate ?

So I'm still a little lost - but I do know a bit more about him than I did a couple of months ago. I wonder if the descendants of his other children are stuck in the same place as me trying to be found.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen.

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