Saturday, 17 February 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 7: 'Valentine'

Ooh !  I thought when I saw this one.  Our family has never really done 'Valentine's Day'.
I have no-one named Valentine and no-one was born or married on that day.  What can I come up with ???

I started to think what the celebration is all about and thought well really it's a chance for people to express how they feel to the love of their life.

Then I thought I think I have a love letter between ancestors - but you guessed it - I couldn't find it :(
So stretching my mind further I thought I could tell a story about my parents meeting - the first flicker of love which lasted until they died. It is historical fiction, so it has facts in it but I have woven them into a little tapestry of their own.

“Mum how did you and Dad first meet?”

Lilian was breathless  “Lucy you’ll never guess what?  Tonight I was so late for choir practice I ran in the back door, tripped over a felt hat and hit the floor.”
Lucy interrupted:  “Oh no.”
Lilian continued: “Well, this new man was there and he’d left it on the floor. He was so apologetic and… so sweet.  He had this strong Scottish accent, a twinkle in his blue eyes and he called me ‘lassie’ as he helped me up.  My stomach dropped and I felt so shaky and strange.  Lucy, I couldn’t think what to say.”

“This is so exciting Lil.  Sounds like you were knocked off your feet in more ways than one. Now tell me more about this young Scotsman.” 

“Oh Lucy...My heart was racing and I’m sure my cheeks were red. I wasn’t brave enough to look towards the tenors, where he sat.  I felt guilty singing in church with the stained glass figures, the cross and Mrs Webb on the organ watching.  I knew I shouldn’t be thinking of anything but the words, the music and of course watching the conductor.  But my mind kept wandering as we practiced Sunday’s hymn list.
After choir, he was off home on his gig before I made it outside.  The girls were chatting about him and said he comes all the way in from Orrvale and he’s an orchardist there.“

Lilian finished up: “I doubt that he thought any more of it though as he has such a pure voice and I’m just one of the chorus. The lead sopranos will all be noticed well before me.”

William and Lilian on their wedding day

Resource: Personal Knowledge of my family:
Lilian Agnes Cottam (my mother) b 24 Aug 1913 Kew Victoria Australia d 02 Aug 1996 Tweed Heads, NSW
Lucy - girlfriend who lived with the Cottam family for awhile, maiden surname unknown.  Married Ross Thomas Martin.
William Louden Pearce (my father) b 29 May 1904 Peebles Scotland, d. 20 Apr 1982 Tweed Heads NSW

Choir at Scots Church, 134 Maude St, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia
Photo: Author's Personal properety. Marriage 23 March 1940, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia

Monday, 5 February 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 6: Favourite Name

I had a little laugh when I discovered the names of two of my ancestors who married on 12 February 1733.  They are my 5 X Great Grandparents on my mother’s side.

Richard COWMEADOW and Hannah BULLOCK.

I wonder was it an outside wedding on the lawn ? 

Just kidding – actually they were married in St Nicholas Church of England in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England.

The church is a well known architectural structure as the tower is not straight.    Some call it ‘The Leaning Tower of Gloucester’.

St Nicholas Church, Gloucester, England. Photo Permission: Sue C Smith.

I have put some documents in – for interest – but also because I love that old writing, particularly when you can read it !

Hannah’s Baptism on May 08, 1705 (

Richard’s Baptism – Jan. 22, 1705 (

Richard’s marriage entry on February 12, 1733. (

Hannah's marriage entry with transcription - a more legible reading.

 Now, a little interesting history about English names. 

The feudal nobility and gentry were named in preparation for the Domesday Book in 1086, following the Norman conquest.
However early European names for families developed over time from the use of nicknames. They were reference to different occupations, personal characteristics, physical appearance, resemblances to animals and birds, ways of dress, etc.   
Eventually when the Poll Tax was introduced in England in 1275 people required a surname.

‘Bullock’ and variations of the surname  
Bullok/Bulloc/Bulluc/Bullocke are of Anglo-Saxon origin. Early mentions of the family name are: Walter Bulluc, 1170, in the ‘Records of Hampshire’ during the reign of King Henry II; Robert Bulloc in the 1195 ‘Feet of Fines’; and Richard le Bollocherde (as in bullock herd) in the Eynsham Cartulary, Oxford, 1281.
 Source: Name Origin Research 1980 -2017,

‘Bullock’ Name Meaning
English: from Middle English bullok, bullock and Old English bulluc, referring to a young bull rather than a castrated one, probably applied as a nickname for an exuberant young man, or an occupational name for a keeper of bullocks.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press,

‘An exuberant young man’ - This could have been a worry.

Memorial Stone, Toby Bullocke, 1641, St Nicholas Church, Gloucester, England. Photo Permission: Sue C Smith.

‘Cowmeadow’ - variations of the surname and meaning
It is a harder name to track down.  It appears to be English and could be from an area called ‘CowsMeadow’ that is now one of the ‘Lost Mediaeval Villages’.  When these places disappeared they only left behind a surname with a local family.

Some thoughts though are that the prefix ‘Cow’ could have come from the Norse ‘Kaus’ meaning Tom-cat, and so ‘Kausmeadow’.

The earliest finding stated on this website is John Cowmedow at St Olaves, Southwark, London, 21 Feb. 1733. Different spellings include Cowmeadow, Cowmedow, Cowmadow and Cowmedon.

Source: Name Origin Research 1980 – 2017,

NB:      On some of the documents for my ancestors the name is spelt Cowmedow.
            Hannah was born in 1705 and her parents are listed including her father John Cowmedow – earlier dates than listed on the website.

Sometimes names come together that make one smile as these two did for me.

Question is: Did the family way back, live in CowsMeadow? 
keep cows in the meadow?
or was it a Tomcat camping there?  

Thursday, 1 February 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 5: 'In the Census'

Week 5 Prompt:   In the Census

I will use the Australian Electoral Rolls, as it was through them that I made quite a family discovery that no-one knew about.

Arthur Samuel Palmer married Eleanor Wells in 1872 at Port Fairy, Victoria, known as Belfast at the time.  They are my Great Grandparents - my mother's grandparents.  I was interested to research Arthur, as Mum's mother had told her she didn't know anything about him after she went to work. All of the family distanced themselves from him and he seemed to have disappeared.  He wasn't home much when they were younger and when their mother, Eleanor died in 1898, they all went to live in different places, with relatives
The only clues she told me were  he was a horse's groom and needed 'protection'.”  She could not embellish on that.

Checking the 1903 Electoral Roll, I found him listed as a groom and living alone in Burwood in the Kooyong district of Victoria. So I felt sure I had the right man.  He was the only Arthur Samuel I could find.
The 1909 Electoral Roll had Arthur Samuel Palmer living at Barkly St, Mentone and working as a Cab driver.  I presume this means a horse drawn cab. Then I had a big surprise - there was a Julia Martha Palmer (Home duties) living at the same address.  Again I couldn't find any other Arthur Samuel Palmer's.
The 1914, 16, and 17 Rolls had Arthur and Julia still at the same address

So who was this woman - living in the same house as Great Grandpa?

Checking further - In 1919 they had moved to Mitchell St, still in Mentone and Arthur's employment is listed as Nil. He was 73 years old and had probably retired by then

In the Electoral Roll of 1921 Arthur is once again alone.  He has moved to George St, Mordiallac by 1926, and is still listed there in 1927 and 28.
After that I could not find him on the Electoral Roll.

I searched for his death and found on the Death Index that he died aged 81 years in 1928 at Malloc, VictoriaThis is the abbreviation for Mordiallac

On the purchased Death Certificate it says he was married a second time in Mentone, other information unknown.  His second wife pre-deceased him - this would mean that they probably married between 1903 and 1909 that Julia probably died between 1919 and 1921, when she disappears from the Electoral Roll

I found that Arthur had married Julia Martha Deverell (nee Babb) in 1907, and that she died in 1920.  

Arthur died in Mordialloc and is buried at The Necropolis Cemetery Springvale  - it is difficult to read the details on his death certificate, though he is listed as a farmer. (Which he had been when he first came to Australia)

Later I contacted a relative I had found online and she sent me photocopies of photos of some of the Palmer family, including the ones attached of Arthur Samuel Palmer. Apparently, Arthur had a show horse and took care of others  He travelled a lot to shows and the races.  I just wish my mother was here now to show and tell her my research results.
PS I never found out about the 'protection' he was said to need.

Arthur Samuel Palmer

Arthur Samuel Palmer with his show horse 'Percheron'



Arthur and Eleanor's Marr - Marriage: Australian BDM Register, Schedule D, No 24, Marriage Copy of Entry.
Eleanor's death - Australian BDM Register, Schedule B, Victoria, Death Copy of Entry.

Electoral Rolls - 1903, 1909, 1914, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1921, 1926, 1927, 1928
-; Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980.

Arthur's death -  Third Schedule, 1928, Death Certificate, District of Mordiallac, Victoria, Australia.  No 734.  Reg. No. 11722.

Arthurs Second Marr. to Julia -; Australian Marriage Index, 1788-1950 Reg No 1628.

Julia's death  -; Australian Death Index 1787-1985. Reg. No. 10585.

Arthur's burial - Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Victoria, Australia; Necropolis Cemetery, 1928.