Wednesday, 18 April 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 15 'Taxes'

Week 15 Prompt:  Taxes

This is more of an American prompt - so I will be creative and write about an ancestor who has been particularly ‘taxing’ to me.

I had an ‘Uncle Dudley’ when I was young, I remembered that I met him once when I was 12 years old. He was captain of an oil liner LOF ‘London Resolution’ that was visiting Port Melbourne, docking at the Shell Refinery in 1958.
The Pearce families went down from country Victoria to meet with him on the ship. My sister and I thought he was just wonderful - such a good looking young man with a wonderful accent. He showed us all over the ship and the sailors were saluting him and smiling at us. I have a blurry photo of him taken on my box Brownie camera coming down the gangway and being blown in the wind.


I realized a few years ago that I had never come across him in my genealogical studies.
So the chase was on.

I don’t know why but I had the thought that he came from the West coast of Scotland somewhere - I think from something Aunty Tib said ( My Aunty TIb is in the previous blog - 'The Maiden Aunt'.)  So much time has gone that Uncle Dudley would be pretty old now – getting on for 90’s maybe.

I contacted other Pearce relatives in Australia, England, and Scotland. After a few months, I had some replies. But they were few and far between. One from the UK said: Sorry I can't help you with Dudley it's not a common first name in Scotland but might have been passed down from the families’ English roots. A couple of others in Australia remembered him and that they had also gone to Melbourne for the visit. One gave me his surname: Hepworth. As soon as I read it I remembered - ‘yes, of course that was his name’.

So now I had something to work with.
I searched online for oil liners and found shipping lists with the ships he was on and the crew names. I saw how he worked his way up the ladder. From being a cadet aged 19 in October 1942 to being a 2nd Officer as late as 1950 and then "Master" of "London Pride" in Jan 1961. I discovered a website for the shipping line’s past crews (L O F News) I heard back after a year or so from 1 ex-sailor who remembered Dudley as a great Captain but hadn’t seen him for a long long time.

In the meanwhile, I found a Captain William Dudley Hepworth born 11 Mar 1923 in the UK, who (sadly) died in November 2000 aged 77, in Exeter, Devon, England. I felt very sad that I had missed being able to talk to him if this was our Uncle Dudley. His names are uncommon and fitted as did his date of birth.  I couldn't find any other information about him in Exeter nowadays.

I notified relatives in Australia of this new information and asked if anyone had anything to add. I had an email from a cousin’s wife who heard from my cousin Isobel. She had discovered some old letters from Dudley to my Aunty Tib and one was written from the 'London Victory' on the 14th Jan 1957 and signed with 'W.' Dudley Hepworth.

Hurrah - So a 'W' initial has appeared. That fitted with the details of the ‘William Dudley’ that I found. Another letter gave the matching birth date of Dudley as 11th March, but no year or place, unfortunately.  

I sought help from a Facebook genealogy group where I have a friend in England. She was happy to help and said:
" Now, your Uncle Dudley sounds an interesting man! Yes, I can imagine the welcome he got from family whilst visiting Australia, how lovely for him and them. So, I shall put on my thinking cap and see what I come up with.
I took a quick look and could only see his death details, nothing in the births in the UK, so maybe he was born somewhere else.   I think that William was born in Scotland, possibly Glasgow, as I saw he sailed on a ship out of there as a young man aged 19.  Although ‘Scotlands People’ website has absolutely nothing on him. Of the voyages he is listed in, on Ancestry he puts his first nationality as being English but on all the other years, he says he is Scottish. It appears he was about 5ft 10 ins and weighed about 145lbs, to give you an idea of what he was like back in the 1940’s."

and later:

"There is one mention of him travelling with family back in 1933, but can we be sure it is him? He was just shown as Dudley Hepworth so I have my doubts. It shows his mother as Beatrice Hepworth born 1882 and his father as John Hepworth born 1879, a plumber. On the 1933 sailing of the 'SS Themistocles’, Beatrice is just traveling with this Dudley Hepworth, having got on the ship at Melbourne. It shows Beatrice as a housewife, who has been living in Australia but to take up residence in Scotland. Their address in Scotland is listed as Lower View, Craig Row, Edinburgh. She then checked the Merchant Seaman's Records on the National Archives to no avail and emailed the local papers in Exeter asking the archivist librarian if they could look up any mention of his death, obituary, and marriage."

The Beatrice Lumsden's in my tree did not match the birth dates for this Beatrice.
In the meanwhile, I started trawling through those ships passenger lists, I found one where Dudley was only 2 years old sailing with parents John and Beatrice to and from South Africa. Their address last resided at was: ℅ Mr. A Lumsden, Ormiston, East Lothian, Haddingtonshire, Scotland.

 EUREKA !!!

A male Lumsden married a female MacIntosh in my family tree and they came from Ormiston. So now to work out where mother Beatrice fits. The records show the family left Scotland for South Africa but were returning to reside in England.

After sending this information to my historian in England she tried the Ancestry Telephone Directories and found an entry for a William Dudley Hepworth in 1984, apparently the last of the directories.

GREAT - we now had an address in Throwleigh.

She explained:
" There is plenty of info on the village of Throwleigh, Devon online,  and the local church is called St Mary The Virgin Church.  I would not be at all surprised if William was buried there. I came upon this website that lists people buried there but I think it only goes up to 1996.  Worth a look at as there are other Hepworths buried there.
I also tried 'Google Earth' for the address but nothing.  I have come across a Church members' group based in the village where I think he lived and have emailed them to see if he was known in the village and asked if they had any information on him."

Then an extraordinary piece of luck - I received an email from England telling me that a lady from the ‘St Mary The Virgin Church’ has contacted a daughter of Dudley's (she was a church member) and she would email back.

WOW! So the thrill of the chase has hit.

Receiving the message here in Australia from England I quickly responded to Uncle Dudley’s oldest daughter.
And she gives me another surprise/shock - Dudley was the 'adopted' son of Beatrice Lumsden and John Hepworth. They had not had children and Beatrice was 56 years old when Dudley was born - although on the ship listing in 1925 it lists Beatrice as 49 yo and Wm Dudley 2yo.

My tree has Beatrice born 1866-7 (not validated) as one of the 8 daughters of my Great grandparents. If this is correct then Beatrice would be 59 yo and Wm Dudley 2 yo on the ship in 1925, which matches Dudley’s daughter's information.
Interestingly I see that Beatrice’s oldest brother Alexander born in 1858 married Jessie Burns and lived at Ormiston for a while – so I think this might be the address Beatrice and John gave as their home address In Scotland when they left for South Africa in 1925. This could be the Mr. A Lumsden of Ormiston listed on the Hepworth's passenger list.  On the return journey in 1925, they said they were going to live in England. (Maybe this time to the Hepworth families locality ?)

On looking further to find where another brick wall relative Aunty Elspeth fitted in (she lived in Sydney, Australia, and we visited her occasionally,) I came across the fact that the last born child – young brother of Beatrice - Richard McIntosh Lumsden (born 1880 died 1939) was married to Dorothy May Lambert and she had died in 2000 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe.)


GOODNESS - WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

This is where William Dudley was born in 1923 (According to daughter.)   Beatrice and Isabella Pearce nee Lumsden (my Grandmother) were close sisters being born only 18 months apart in the middle of the Lumdsen siblings – This could account for another story from Dudley’s daughter - that when John Hepworth died, Beatrice and little son Dudley came to live in Australia with Grandma Isabella Pearce. She said they lived on a fruit farm. Our families were orchardists who settled in Victoria, after emigrating from Scotland. I recall no knowledge about this – but it could account for the closeness of Uncle Dudley to my father’s generation here in Australia.  Mother and son left in 1938.





I received this photo after I had done the research. 
It shows Beatrice with baby - William Dudley.  
It does look like they are seated under a gum tree - 
but as he is only a baby they would have still have been in South Africa.  


Dudley’s daughter told me that her dad was an only child. It seems that his mother Beatrice when on her deathbed, told him he was adopted.  Dudley was about 15.  From her passport etc, she was 56 when Dudley was born which could explain why I thought the two Beatrice's I found were not likely to be Dudley's mother.
The family in England do have some letters written by my Aunt Tibby and Dudley's daughter told me:

"Dad spoke fondly of her but really did not talk about his family much at all, I think it was the source of real pain to him, finding out he was adopted.  Our understanding is that Dad was born in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, that his dad died when he was 7 and that our dad (Dudley) then moved to Australia with his mother (Beatrice) to live with cousins on a fruit farm. Dad moved to Scotland as a teenager we think, to finish his schooling before going to sea.
Dad met our mother Margarita, known as Rita Shields in about 1953, they married 7 years later.  It took so long partly because of Dad's absence at sea and partly because she was a Roman Catholic and neither of them felt able to make a cross-faith marriage but their love got the better of them!  They then had us three."

SO -  This explains why we could not find a birth for Dudley Hepworth in England or Scotland - he was born in South Africa.

I sent off emails to South African Genealogy groups about Feb 2015 to see if anyone could help me with information. I explained that my Great Aunt and Uncle in Scotland adopted a baby boy in South Africa. He was born 11 Mar 1923 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia. At that time there was a younger Great Uncle and wife living there. (Richard and Dorothy Lumsden previously mentioned.)    My aim was to establish if Uncle Dudley was born to relatives or born to other people living there. Maybe even a family Richard and Dorothy knew.   The replies were not successful. Apparently getting into adoption papers especially in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe is very difficult and you have to pay a lot of money. They suggested hiring a professional Genealogist for Zimbabwe.

As Dudley is not in my direct line It doesn’t feel right following it up further, with his daughters alive.

However, I now know my 'Uncle' Dudley is my first cousin once removed, (by adoption.)
I find it interesting that his parents went to South Africa to adopt in their later years, and I wonder if he was born to a Lumsden family living there and could very well be a blood relative. This will probably remain an unknown. But I have found some lovely cousins in England now, who I hope to visit in the near future.

Friday, 30 March 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 14: 'The Maiden Aunt'

Week 14 Prompt: 'Maiden Aunt'

My Auntie Tib is my maiden Aunt.  Her real name was Isabella Macintosh Pearce. She was an IMP just like me !   Tib or Tibbie is a Scottish nickname for Isabella.



Auntie Tib was born on 08 November 1899 at home in Miller St, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, Scotland. This is in the area called The Border Country on the River Tweed and close to the English border.






Family photo of Sarah (Ray), Bill, & Isabella (TIbbie) Pearce, C1906, Scotland


The Pearce family emigrated from Scotland in 1912 and Tibbie was 12 years old when they sailed on the ‘Demosthenes’.  Father - Francis George Pearce wanted to give the family a new start in a new country and applied for land to grow an orchard in the irrigation areas of Victoria.  He was given a block in Orrvale and eventually, when the family next door walked off their land he was able to add that block on as well.

Although life was hard work, all the families in the orchard areas became very good friends helping each other out in difficult times. There were socials, concerts, a debating society, young peoples’ clubs, church groups, sports and plenty of home-made amusements.

On their new block, the family lived in a tent until the two-roomed house was erected.  Tibbie and her sister Sarah (Ray) managed to complete schooling taking correspondence lessons from Melbourne High School and were passed as Sewing Mistresses.  Tibbie worked at the local country school (Orrvale) teaching for a few years.  She then worked as temporary relief school staff taking charge of small country schools. Always Tibbie was to return home to the orchard to help out in her holiday periods.

In 1922 Grandad Pearce died when he became sick and developed pneumonia. Tibbie returned home for a while to be with Grannie Pearce.  It may have been at this time that she had a suitor – a local man.  A boy whom she had known at primary school whose family had come from America. The family myth is that Tibbie and he got engaged but her brothers did not think he was suitable for their big sister and somehow warned him off. 

In the thirties, TIbbie changed jobs and worked as a Sub-Matron in the Presbyterian Children’s Home in North Melbourne.  This gave her a taste of nursing and she enrolled in training. On completion, she also did the Midwifery course.  Tibbie joined the Melbourne District Nursing Society and practiced midwifery with them for 3 years.  She said these were some of the happiest days of her life, as she made so many friends.

Tibbie’s siblings all married apart from George the youngest – he was in the militia and was called up for World War II. Sadly he was killed in New Guinea on the Kokoda Trail in 1943.  His death was announced in the paper the same day as the news he had been awarded the Military Cross.

After the war, and her son’s death, Grannie Pearce was not managing so well, so Tibbie resigned her position and came home to care for her.  Of course, Tibbie helped out on the orchard as well, but she was able to fit in local community activities like CWA, Sunday School teaching, playing the organ at church, etc.  I think at this time that she was also working as an Infant Welfare Nurse.

In 1954 Grannie Pearce aged 84 years, died, and Tibbie’s brothers Bill and Jim arranged an overseas trip for her to visit all the relatives in Scotland and Canada.  Though the families were spread around the world, they had kept continually in touch through the mail.  Tibbie decided to lengthen the trip to over 2 years and nursed in a hospital in Saskatchewan in Canada.

On her return, Tibbie bought a block of land in Kialla over the road from her sister Ray.  She busied herself planting native trees and encouraging the birds to her home.  The gum trees grew tall and she loved to listen to the magpies and join in whistling the chorus.  Late in her life, Tibbie went overseas with a niece and husband and visited ‘a dear friend’ who we believe was her ex-fiancĂ©.  She said they had a lovely time, that it was wonderful to catch up after all this time, but she was glad to get back to her own home on return.

Around this time my father, her brother Bill donated land to the Infant Welfare group and they built an office and centre.  It was named ‘The Isabella Pearce Child Centre’.

Once she could no longer manage her little block Tibbie moved into the ‘Miller Homes’ in Shepparton.  She gave up her car but could still get around utilizing the bus stop out the front of her cottage.  Tibbie was never left out of things.  She took it upon herself to become the Matriarch after Grannie Pearce died.  All the nieces and nephews visited her and took her to places and to family gatherings.

I remember my Auntie Tib as a very strong-minded woman with a Scottish accent.  She was intelligent and knowledgeable about so much, being very well read.  She had very fine frizzy hair that she braided and tied around her head.  At night she would put her plait into rags and wear a night bonnet on top.  My mother told me that she had a soft spot for my brother Bill as he suffered from eczema when born and Auntie Tib was always telling Mum how she should be treating him, etc.  Until one day Mum refused to visit and demanded that Dad speak to her about her interference. He was to tell her that Mum was the boy’s mother and knew what was best for him.  Things cooled for a while but then came right again.  Auntie Tib always kept in touch with my brother, writing regularly to him when he as at boarding school for 7 years.  She also attended his graduation from University just like a proud mother.

Tibbie was the keeper of our family history and was very involved in the local Family History Society.  She was a keen writer and poet.  She also interested my brother Bill in genealogy and research.  He passed it on to me.

We all loved Auntie Tib and remember her fondly, but I still feel very sad for her missing out on the chance of a married life with her fiancé and struggle to believe that her brothers would do that to her.



Auntie Tib was almost 91 when she died 26 September 1990 in Shepparton, Victoria.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 13: 'The Old Homestead'

Week 13 Prompt: 'The Old Homestead.'

The Orchard is how we refer to our old place at Grahamvale, Victoria.  I think our family moved out there from town (Shepparton) when I was about two so it would have been around 1948.  Our family of five - Mum - Lilian Agnes (nee Cottam) and Dad - William Louden Pearce.  My older brother - William Joseph and older sister -  Frances Elizabeth and then me - Isabel.

The house was an old weatherboard with a big verandah at the back and the ‘Big Room’ as we called it -  built on as a spare room and playroom.  There was a fireplace in there with openings in the wall to put the wood into the woodboxes from outside.  We kids played Monopoly in there for hours in the school holidays. The big wooden table was so handy - it was also used for table tennis.  When we had visitors it was the meal room and it was decorated especially at Christmas time for the big meals. Photo Family Christmas in the 'Big Room.'

Fran and I shared a bedroom and Bill had his own.  We had an inside toilet which had an outside door as well to the verandah, so you had to make sure you locked both when in there so nobody burst in on you.

Mum and Dad’s room was verboten to us, but we would sneak in there sometimes.  Their room was along the passage up the front of the house and next to it was the front door (never used) which had stained glass panels that the sun shone through.  In their bedroom was a large chest of drawers which I now have and in the top little drawers Mum would hide gifts.  We were always trying to sneak in and see what was in there.  On top of the chest there was a cute little weather barometer with a little girl and boy that swung in and out of the little house dependant on the temperature.

There was a smaller dining room inside the house,  a very dark room only ever used by the adults - not so much as a dining room but as a card room.  Especially when Grandpa Cottam lived with us.  Grandpa used to sit out on the verandah in his cane chair and we would love to comb his snowy white hair.



Grandpa Cottam (L) in his cane chair with his walking stick, on the verandah 

Outside the house my brother had a hut which was just his - and he had a note on the door “KEEP OUT”  He had a crystal radio set he spent a lot of time with.  We girls always tried to get in - but maybe I never did as I can’t remember it inside.  Then there was the Shed - a big shed for the orchard doings - grader, packing, cases, trucks, tractor, etc.  Under the shed there was plenty of room for playhouses and hiding spots.   

In the early days we had 2 lovely old draught horses for pulling the plough and other jobs.  Fran and I loved the horses - and occasionally were allowed to sit on their backs for a wee ride.   Jean was Dad’s worker and she was a quiet woman and extremely hard worker.  Unusual to have a female, but in reality Jean dressed as a man and spoke like a man.  We were all taken aback when later on she married and had children.

I have so many happy memories from the orchard - it was an ideal place for children to grow up.  


Monday, 26 March 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 12: 'Misfortune'

Week 12 Prompt: 'Misfortune'

The one person who appeared to have bad luck follow him during his life that immediately springs to my mind was Rees Coventry REES. 
Rees was born 11 March 1842 in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales, United Kingdom. His parents were Thomas and Mary nee Jones.  On the English 1851 Census, his father is occupied as a Beer House Keeper in Plymouth Street, Glamorgan.

Rees emigrated from England leaving Plymouth on 05 Sep 1863  on board ‘Sir John Lawrence’, a ship of 700 tons with George Ellery as Master.  Rees was 21 years old - no doubt looking for adventure and a different life in a country on the other side of the world.  He arrived in Adelaide, South Australia on 14 Dec 1863.

Two years later he has moved to Victoria. Rees is a stone cutter of Melbourne and is married when 32 years old to Eliza WELLS on 21 Feb 1874 in St. John’s Church of England, Belfast (Port Fairy) where Eliza’s family lived.  Eliza was my mother’s mother’s cousin.

Their first child Mary Eleanor was born on 28 May 1875 in Richmond Victoria but sadly died a year later in Dec 1876  in Adelaide, SA.  In the meanwhile, they had their second daughter Alice Adelaide born in Adelaide in June 1876.  They went on to have seven more children.

Rees Coventry Rees was a builder who is first heard of in Adelaide in 1876. Trove Newspapers have supplied quite a bit of information about Rees and what happened and didn’t happen in his building career. 

He was in court for leaving his employment on 16 Jun in Adelaide, SA. Rees Coventry Rees, Stonecutter, was charged on the information of Messrs. Brown and Thompson, with leaving his hired service without lawful excuse. He was ordered to return to work.  Apparently attending a strike which he was involved in.  NB: This is in the same month that his second daughter is born.

In 1877 he put in a tender of £451 to the Govt Architect’s Dept. to build a fence wall at the North Airing Court, Parkside Lunatic Asylum, (for the Government Architect’s Department).  He missed out - another tender beat him by 16 Pounds. 

A year later Rees advertised for two bricklayers to meet with him between 6 and 7pm at his business address in Page Street, off Grote Street, near Victoria Square, Adelaide. 
He must have got his bricklayers and finished the build as he advertised For Sale or To Let, a First class Three room COTTAGE, with passage; half-hour’s walk from King William Street, in West Adelaide.
Next, he placed a notice for Masons – Wallers and Cutters; Carpenters (Stair Hand) and Laborers. Society men preferred.

August 1878 - Another residence built and advertised -  for the letting of a three-roomed house, with passage, about a mile from town, on Henley Beach Road.

Three more sons are born in Adelaide  - Thomas Jacob in 1878, Henry Sidney in the suburb of Thebarton in 1879 and Herbert Watkin in 1881.

His advertising now changed to wanting a Smart Carpenter for putting up Iron Sheds.

Then there is an Auction sale advertised for Mr. R. C. Rees as occupant and owner of a substantially built Cottage of three rooms and passage, being at Allotment 89, corner of Jervois Street and Carlton Parade (western Adelaide suburb - Torrensville).

Next Rees and Mossison, Marble and Slate Merchants, Wakefield Street, Adelaide were dissolving their partnership by mutual consent, as Rees was leaving the business through ill health.  (Specifics unknown)

Rees uses Morrison’s address - Morrison & Co., Marble Works, Wakefield Street to sell: 'a First-class Cottage, with a passage, in the quick rising suburb, New Thebarton (west of Adelaide), cheap.'

In October 1879, bad luck struck again when Rees missed out on another contract, this time for the erection of a school and teacher’s residence at Dry Creek (a northern suburb of Adelaide). 

At last, he had a win when he was the lowest tender out of six for a Government Tender of the Terowie Passenger Station. Interestingly the notice also mentions R.C. Rees Architect-in-Chief. - he seems to now be named as the Architect.  Terowie is a small town in the mid-north of South Australia located 220 kms north of Adelaide.
Railway buildings at Terowie 2016

Following on from this job he does more in the country areas. 
He advertised for a smart Working Foreman (Carpenter) for the country. He gives his address as New Thebarton or still (care of ) Morrison & Co., Wakefield Street.

In early January 1880 he advertised for three carpenters, and ironworker that can do Plain Painting, for the country.  

Rees missed out on three  Government contracts for the erection of a post-office and telegraph station at Port Pirie, Ororoo [sic] and Mallala (country towns north of Adelaide) as well as for the erection of a public school and teacher’s residence at Stockwell (a small town north of Adelaide), and a Police Station at Norwood (a suburb to the east of Adelaide).  However, he was eventually the lowest tender for a Post and Telegraph office at Yongala (a northern township) in 1880.
This may have taken up much of his time as we only hear about him next in reference to being the contractor for fencing in Victoria Square – “This long-pending, much-debated work has been at long last begun, the contractor (Mr. R.C. Rees) having this morning commenced to place the granite blocks into position.”

1881: 7th Sept - Extract from South Australian Police Gazette - Missing Persons.  Information is requested as to the whereabouts of Rees Coventry Rees, a builder, who left his home, at Eastwood, on the 30th ultimo, and has not since been heard of.  
Description - 39 years of age, 5 feet 5 inches high, fair complexion, light brown hair, moustache and goatee, blue eyes, first joint of left forefinger missing; wore black cloth coat, black and white plaid trousers and waistcoat, and brown hard felt hat. 
He isn’t missing for too long though as on Friday 20th Jul 1883 it is announced that he won a big contract to build the North Adelaide Institute at a price of about 3,500 pounds. And then on 27th July 1883 from the Architect-in Chief’s Department that the “Building Post-Office, Telegraph Station, and Institute, and also including lecture hall, at North Adelaide, R.C. Rees, £6,942.”

1883: 22 Aug - In the Adelaide Police Court Rees Coventry Rees and James Cooney were each fined 20s and costs for keeping an unregistered dog. 

1884: Rees builds North Adelaide Institute.  This (now) heritage listed building was opened in 1884. The Nth Adelaide Institute was built on the original ‘High Street’ it now (2010) houses the City of Adelaide Tyne St Library and North Adelaide Community Centre.

The North Adelaide Institute built by Rees Coventry Rees. Photo taken 2016

In November 1884 the Corporation of Thebarton advertised that voting for the Torrens Ward could be undertaken ‘In Mr. R.C. Ree’s Cottage, near Post Office, Mile-End.’
The Institute build must have been more expensive than Rees thought as his business is up for Insolvency on 07 August 1885 (Rees Coventry Rees, Mile-End Builder)

In September 1885 we read a report of the Police Courts before W. Bundey (and others) that ‘James Morrisson (his former partner) was charged with threatening to blow out the brains of R.C. Rees and inflicted sundry other injuries upon him on September 22.'  Both witnesses information were dismissed, and each party was to pay 5s costs.  NB: I wonder if this threat is to do with the insolvency problem?

In 1886 under instructions of the Mortgagees, an advert was placed to sell by auction Lot 1. ‘New six-roomed house at Mile End, on Henley Beach Road, with stabling, coachhouse, and Man’s Room, and known as belonging to Mr. R.C. Rees.’

The family may have temporarily moved back to Victoria to family in 1886 as Rees’ next son Victor Eric Hawthorn is born in Hawthorn, Victoria in 1886.  
But they then moved to Broken Hill, NSW sometime from 1886 to  1889.  

A huge silver-lead-zinc ore body was discovered at Broken Hill in 1883 and by 1886 a township was developing rapidly, bringing many opportunities in the building industry.




Photo of Rees and Eliza REES taken in Broken Hill (in my possession)

Son Francis Sidney Willyama is born in Mar 1889 in Broken Hill.

Rees ss an architect called for tenders for making shop fittings for Murton and Buck.  Plans to be viewed at his office in Argent Chambers.

By 1890 Rees had built up his finances somewhat, sufficient to propose building a hotel.  February 1890 Rees applied to the licensing magistrate in Broken Hill for a conditional license for a hotel which he proposed to build at Mulga Hill. The hotel was to consist of stone and brick and cost £1100. The licensing magistrate granted the application on the condition that the building was strictly in accordance with the plans and specifications.
In January 1891 the electors of Wills Ward in Broken Hill were invited to hear an address by John M’Lennan Sutherland at Mr. R.C.Rees’ Residence (part of the future Tydvil Hotel).
On 05 Feb 1891, ’The Merthyr Tydvil Arms' was established at 318 Oxide Street, Broken Hill with Rees Coventry Rees as the Licensee.  NB: The hotel still stands in Oxide Street Broken Hill (2011). 

Rees had named the hotel after his birth town.  Merthyr Tydvil is a town in Wales, 37 kms. north of Cardiff, and was once the largest town in Wales. According to legend, the town is named after St Tydfil, who was slain at Merthyr by pagans around 480; the place was subsequently named Merthyr Tydfil in her honour.

Photo taken in 2016 of bar in Tydvil Hotel, Broken Hill
Tydvil Hotel Broken Hill in 2016

Not sure what would have brought on the following advertisement when on the 23
rd February 1891, tenders were called for the purchase of the Tydvil Hotel, Oxide Street, comprising 13 rooms, stables, &c.; land 83 x 132. Stock, furniture, licence, &c. at valuation. Alternatively, tenders were for Goodwill of 5 year’s lease and weekly rental of said hotel, with stock, licence, furniture, &c., at valuation.  Was the Hotel not bringing in enough money or did Rees have a change of heart about following in his father’s footsteps?

In June 1891 it was still being referred to as Rees Tydvil Hotel, but there was a new Licensee by the name of William Cole listed in 1892. 

In Feb 1892: Eliza gave birth to a little girl Violet May, but sadly Eliza died aged 37, after childbirth. About a month later little baby Violet died also, in March 1892.  Violet was not a family name but was my grandmother’s name. She had been born in 1879 and I like to think that this little one was named after her.
When Eliza died friends were invited to attend her funeral which left their residence, Thomas Street, Broken Hill, for interment in the New Cemetery.

Rees was now a widower left to bring up his family of five sons ranging down in age from 14 to 3 years old and one daughter, Alice who is about 16 years old. 

Four years later in 1896, a valuable freehold property was advertised for sale. In Oxide Street, close to Tydvil Hotel and under instructions from R.C. Rees, a good stoneshop, with two rooms attached in a splendid position that must increase in value. He then heads off to WA looking for work. He is now an unemployed architect.  He leaves the family in Broken Hill (? where were they living) with three older sons working and providing for their siblings and the oldest daughter Alice Adelaide (20yo) in charge of the house. He sends money over to them also.  In 1899 Alice married - so what happened - did the children go to live with her and her husband Francis LORD? 

In the 1903 Census, Rees is listed as a Miner in Bulong WA  with his 25 yo son Thomas Jacob.  But three years later n 1906 Thomas has left and  Rees is now alone at Bulong.

In 1918, Rees has returned to Broken Hill and whilst living at  Morgan Street West, he was officially informed that his son, Private F.S.W. Rees of the 10th Battalion had died of his wounds, after previously reporting that he was wounded and missing. 
Francis Sidney Service No: 1974, (Pte) 27th Battalion, 10th Battalion. Served in Egypt & France. Wounded in action twice - 23 Jul 1916 & 03 Mar 1918. Died aged 26, in the First World War and buried at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, France.  He left a wife Eliza nee HOSSACK.  Frank was a  cook prior to enlisting on 16 June 1915.


Whether Rees was sick and tired by now or looking to retire - on the 14th January 1920 he placed an advertisement for the Auction Sale in the Premises, 92 Morgan Street, between Kaolin and Gossan Streets, a good wood and iron shop, with dwelling room attached, an acre of freehold land and all household furniture and effects – everything. It is unknown where he would have moved to live, but he ended up back in Victoria by the end of the year. 

Rees never married again and died aged 78 on 10 Nov 1920 in the Alfred Hospital, His death certificate is sad to read. He died of Gastric Carcinoma and Exhaustion.  Rees is listed as an Architect and it says he lived 15 years in WA, 10 years in NSW and 9 years in Victoria, a total of 34 years, although he lived in Australia for 57 years. 
It doesn’t say how long he was treated there, maybe he was seen just that day by the doctor and died later.  It states his parents are Thomas and Eleanor REES of Wales ( Not Alice).  Lived 15 years in West Australia, 10 in South Australia and 9 in Victoria. 

His children are listed according to their ages of death.  Mary Eleanor dead, Alice Adelaide 44, Thomas Jacob 42, Henry Stanley dead, Herbert Watkin 38, Victor Ernest 24, Francis Sydney dead & Violet May dead. It looks like none of them were around at the time or were unaware of his illness and death. 

Rees was buried on at the 12th Nov in a grave at the Brighton Cemetery, Victoria without a headstone - in contrast to all the stones he would have laid as a stone cutter, mason, and builder.


Rees Coventry REES Grave at Brighton Cemetery

Sunday, 25 March 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 11: 'Lucky'

Week 11 Prompt: 'LUCKY'

Mum’s Uncle Claude had a ‘boy’s adventure’ life and many lucky escapes. 
Claude Laidlaw PALMER born 04 Feb 1880 in Jindivick, Gippsland, Victoria. Australia.  
However, he must have been born with a rambling spirit.
When his mother died in 1898, Claude was 18 and he went to work with a baker to learn the trade - but Claude had his eyes set on seeing the world. 

Whilst the Boer War was on over in Africa, Claude signed on as a deckhand on the ‘Thetis’ of Dundee, Scotland,  a sailing ship loaded with wheat, bound for Valparaiso, Chile, South America.  As Claude said: “My first time on salt water.”

After a rough trip, they arrived and then had the slow work of unloading using hand winches causing blisters, cuts and bleeding.  In off times they were lowered down in the punt/barge to clean, chip and scrape the iron rust off the ship.  Here Claude met Jack, another Australian lad of similar age and together they plotted to get away from the ship.  The Ship steward overheard them and demanded they include him too.  So on Sunday morning they lowered the punt and landed safely.  However, as soon as they beached they were arrested on suspicion of smuggling.  They were freed and a West Indian Negro rushed them out into his cab and whipped the horses to go fast.  He explained that the court could change its mind quickly and they needed to get away to somewhere safe.  They arrived at a sailor’s boarding house and had a good sleep.  The Boarding Master was impressed with the two young sailors behaviour and shouted them attendance at a bullfight and all meals.  Claude said he enjoyed it although it was a cruel sport. 

There was a search on to find the boys and take them back to the ‘Thetis’ as Jack had been signed on by his mother and father and the Captain was responsible for him.  But the Boarding Master had arranged for them to join the ‘Holt Hill’ of Liverpool, a 4-masted barge and work there with the crew until the ‘Thetis’ had sailed.  Their pay had risen from $2.50 per month to $2.50 per day.  Claude learnt all about shipping in Valparaiso, as the other men were keen to teach him and he was very keen to learn. 

Claude had a fear of climbing the rigging which he overcame slowly.  Each evening he pushed himself to tackle the high climb and beat his fears.  After a couple of weeks, he was able to go up and down the mast as well as the yardarms and loved the exhilaration.  He was always first from then on to go aloft when the order was given which brought him an upgrade from ordinary seaman to able-bodied seaman. 
His next trip was on the full-rigged ‘Hollyrood” which travelled around Cape Horn on a slow journey to Rotterdam carrying saltpetre.  Claude enjoyed the sightseeing in Holland. 
He then boarded a small steamboat to London and on to Cardiff in Wales.  From there he joined the ‘Falls of Holladay’  and rounded Cape Horn again.  Claude deserted ship in Iquique, Chile, and later shipped out on the ‘Country Anglesea’ and returned to Rotterdam, and back to London and Wales on the Channel boats.

Next big trip was on the ship ‘Scerra Cadena’ bound for the Indian Ocean, East of Africa.  They had a gas blow up in the hatches to deal with and not long after, were almost hit by a typhoon.  Still, they landed safely at the island of Marrich out in the Indian Ocean and took down all the sails and some yards.  

Here again, Claude deserted ship along with three other men. They hid out in the hills and ate fruit, mostly bananas.  For three weeks they would sneak down to town at night to Abdul the storekeeper, and swap some of their clothes for bread, but one night they were caught. The court ordered they help the Captain till the ship was ready for sea, which took about a month.  The ship was filthy from unloading Welsh coal, and the next day the Captain told them they were bound for Rangoon, India to pick up a cargo of rice and he would cut a deal with them   If they cleaned the ship up to A-1 standard for the rice - he would not dock their pay from being onshore, and pay them off at the next port if they wanted. 

After a month’s rest, it took two more months at Rangoon to load 100 lb bags of rice to take to Rio de Janeiro, South America. Claude spent all his spare time watching the elephants at the teakwood sawmill ashore from the ship.  The elephants rolled the logs out of the river and up to the sawmill.  

Whilst at Rio de Janeiro they heard cannon fire and thought there was a war - but apparently, Yellow Fever had broken out and all the nations ships were leaving with the fort guns saluting them.   Whilst ashore one day Claude and three mates found they couldn’t get back to their ship as the warehouse access was locked.  A fight broke out locally and some the natives attacked Claude’s group.  They had to jump off the pier and swim from dock to dock, a block apart. Arriving at their ships dock they found the ship was gone and the dogs were released. So they had to fight off the dogs as they climbed up. One of the men drove a sheaf knife into Claude’s leg. Luckily some of the crew on board saw them and they lowered a boat and pulled them up. 

Leaving Rangoon they could see the reflections of the volcano at Sumatra and passing the island of Celone they saw the wreck of their sister ship ‘Cerra Cadena’ lost on a coral reef a year ago.   

In Brazil, they were all quarantined against Bubonic Plague. They struck rocks going into Rio as they passed a French warship.  Claude couldn’t do much for a week or so with his injured leg and was soon fed up. So come Saturday night, Claude lowered himself down a rope into a rowboat and deserted ship once more. At the sailors Boarding House he was hired by the Red Cross to drive a team of horses drawing a large wagon to collect the dead from the Yellow Fever Plague. He had 11 days work and chose not to be paid for it at the end. He was given quinine medicine.  Claude’s limp was much better so he took on the job of house runner. This entailed finding sailors and getting rid of sailors for the ships lists.  It was a hard time as so many men had died from the plague.

After a few months, Claude shipped out on a Nova Scotia barge - the ‘Austria’ for Barbados and eventually on to Pascagoula, USA.  Claude then picked up different jobs to pay for feed and accommodation as he worked his way around. He spent some time on a shrimp boat in the marshes, before heading off to New Orleans and joining a Spanish barge loaded with lumber for Argentina.  

Claude was offered a job as captain of a lumber barge and worked at that for a few weeks before realizing it was a con. So moving on quickly he got work building a small gauge rail line and then worked in Alabama in lumber yards and as a fireman on a locomotive until he went back to Biloxi, Mississippi for the shrimp.

On 16th April 1910, Claude married Theodora Celeste Desperate and they had a family of four boys and two girls. 

Claude finished up as a Paddle Boat Steamer captain on the Mississippi River.


Reference: 'Some of The Life of Claude L Palmer' autobiography.