Saturday, 21 July 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 31, Prompt - ‘Oldest'

Week 31:   'Oldest'

I decided to write up what little I know of my earliest ancestor.  
So here he is - the furthermost person back in my research, so far.

Meet Nicol Dewar DEWART (Dewer) born in 1543 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.  He would be 478 years old if he were to raise his head now.  
Nicol is a 9th Great Grandfather on my paternal line.
In 1562, Nicol married Helen HORNE/ HOONE born 1542, Dunfermline and they had a son named Robert in 1564.  (Probably named after Nicol's father)
(See below: SSB&B 1564-1950.) 

Nicol lived well into old age and was 80 years old when he died in 1623 
as shown in this cropping below, from 'FindMyPast'.

And that's it - Oh,  if only I could find some more about Nicol to tell you  :(

According to  
Surname meaning for Dewar:

DEWAR is from Gaelic deoradh,  meaning ‘pilgrim’, ‘stranger’. 

The occupational name for a custodian of holy relics (which was normally a hereditary office), 

The habitational name from Dewar, a place near Dalkeith, of uncertain origin. 


Dunfermline (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Phàrlain)
is a former burgh and current town in the county of Fife, Scotland. It is just near the bridge,  the Firth of Forth.

The town grew under the influence of Queen Margaret to be an important ecclesiastical burgh (a town with special privileges). 
Until the 17th century, the town was the royal capital of Scotland.


On reading a timeline of the history of Scotland one can see just how many battles occurred between the two countries in the Anglo-Scottish wars of the 16th century and how much animosity continued on over the years whilst Nicol and Helen were going about their daily lives.

Nicol was born the year after the death of King James V.;  Birth of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Linlithgow. She was six days old when her father died and she became Queen.

1544 - The "Rough Wooing" - England, pushing her territorial ambitions through a proposed marriage and alliance, was sharply rebuffed, and thus resorted to that more aggressive policy known as the "rough wooing" and aggression towards Scotland.  
NOTE: Following its break with Rome, England decided to attack Scotland, partly to destroy the Auld Alliance, and prevent Scotland being used as a springboard for future invasion by France, partly to weaken Scotland, and partly to force Scotland to agree to a marriage alliance between its child Queen Mary and the English heir apparent Edward, son of King Henry VIII. An invasion of France was also contemplated. War was declared by Henry in an attempt to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between Edward and the infant queen, thereby creating a new alliance between Scotland and England. Edward, crowned king in 1547 at the age of nine, continued the war for a time under the direction of the Duke of Somerset before Somerset's removal from power in 1549 and replacement by the Duke of Northumberland, who wished for a less costly foreign policy than his predecessor.   

Scot/English Border wars and conflicts, already present, reached their height during this time as bloody Border conflicts and reiving (raiding and feuding) abounded.
1546 - Murder of Cardinal Beaton.
1547 - Battle of Pinkie. 15,000 English under the Duke of Somerset defeated by the Scots.
1557 - The first Covenant. (Secret Scottish Protestant group).
1558 - Mary marries King Francis II (Dauphin) of France.
1559 - John Knox's sermon at Perth - regarded as the start of the Reformation in Scotland.
1560 - Treaty of Edinburgh; King Francis II of France died.
1561 - Queen Mary returns to Scotland from France. (r. 1542-1567)
1562 - Queen Mary visits Inverness; castle besieged by rebels.
1563 -Mary's WitchCraft Acts passed in Scotland condemning "witches" to burning as heretics.
1565 - Mary marries Henry Stuart Lord Darnley.
1567 - 2 years later Darnley Murdered. Abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots.
James VI (r.1567-1625) becomes King of Scotland.
1567  - Knox’s Liturgy translated into Gaelic by Bishop Carswell.
1568  - Battle of Langside. Moray and 45,000 men defeated Mary with only 4,500. Mary flees to England to seek help from Elizabeth I, who imprisons Mary in various Keeps, Castles, and Towers.
1570 - The murder of Regent Moray by nobles.
1571 - Regent Lennox slain.
1572 - Death of John Knox.
1573 - The final defeat of the Queen's (Mary's) party.
1579 - Bible printed in Scotland for the first time.
1581 - Regent Morton Falls.
1582 - Raid of Ruthven.
1582 - University of Edinburgh founded.
1587- Mary, Queen of Scots executed at Fotheringhay.
1587 - Act passed for quieting the clans of the Borders, Highlands, and Isles.
1594 - Battle of Glenlivet; Massacre of the MacDonalds by  the MacLeods in a cave on the Island of Eigg.
1597 - The future James VI of Scotland writes the definitive works on witchcraft and demons called "Demonologie" which results in hysteria about alleged "witches" and many witch burnings.
Also - 
Highlanders give assistance to Queen Elizabeth I of England. 
1598 - Highland Landowners ordered to "prove" their right to possess titles.
The Isle of Lewis granted to Lowlander "Adventurers", the Crown. Results in much feuding and problems.
1600  - The Gowrie conspiracy. 
1601 - Lowland "Adventurers" in the Isle of Lewis are soundly defeated.
1602 - Battle of Glenfruin.
1603  - Union of the Crowns
James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England, bringing about the Union of the Crowns. This was not an altogether welcome move in much of Scotland or England.
1605 - Renewed attempt to colonise the Isle of Lewis by Lowland "Adventurers".
1607 - MacKenzie of Kintail aquires Lewis from the MacLeods of Lewis by no MacLeod heir and by marriage to a MacLeod of Lewis. Macleods of Lewis are displaced to the mainland.
1614 - Islay granted to Campbell of Cawdor by Crown.

1617- James VI (on his only return to Scotland) tactlessly lectures his countrymen on the "superiority of English civilisation".
1618 - The "Five articles of Perth".
James VI imposes Bishops on the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in an attempt to integrate it with the Church of England. This move was deeply unpopular with the Scots.
1625 - Death of James VI and I of Britain. (James VI of Scotland). 

Charles I becomes King on the death of his father. Although born in Scotland, Charles had no interest in the country and dealt with Scottish affairs with even less tact than his father, causing discontent.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 30, ‘Colourful’ - Historical Fiction

Week 30 Prompt: 'Colourful’

I have used historical facts and events as they occurred and painted a colourful fictional story.  

‘Green Thumbs’ 

“Sam, where is your mother?”  I asked
“Outside in the garden, where she always is, Nana,” Sam replied … “she loves it and reckons she finds peace and quiet there”
“True Sam, but there is another reason.  It’s in her blood.”
“What do you mean by that Nana?”
“First, bring me the photo of the little old timber house with the rose and lavender garden please, Sam.  
Now that was where your - (counting on my fingers) great, great, great, great grandparents Thomas and Eleanor Wells, lived 165 years ago.” 

I proceeded to tell Sam and his mother Fern about our gardening family history whilst Fern slipped off her gumboots and washed dirt from her hands and knees.

Thomas Wells had been taught gardening by his father in Tunbridge Wells an early tourist location in England.  Beautiful gardens attracted visitors and the wealthier owners employed gardeners like Thomas.   
Then one day Thomas shocked the family with an announcement. 
“We’re going to Australia for a better life and better weather than here.”
They sailed on the ship ‘Ann Milne’ with their four surviving children and arrived January of 1853 at Belfast (now called Port Fairy). 
Although moving across the globe was challenging for a young family, Thomas settled in quickly being easy to please so long as he had some earth to work with.  Finding the soil here much sandier than the sandstone/clay loam in Tunbridge Wells, he added organic matter to help it bind.  
Luckily it was a cooler Australian summer which helped the family to acclimatize. 
Belfast grew rapidly, and Thomas became a paid gardener once again.  Meanwhile, he developed his own flower beds and propagation areas with cuttings, bulbs, and seeds he had brought from England.  Roses had always been a favourite of Eleanor so they planted many in the front beds.  He set gooseberry cuttings in handmade boxes in the backyard.   When his flowers bloomed and plants were large enough, he sold them from their front gate.  Apparently, he could get anything to grow.

However, it was much harder for his wife Eleanor who struggled.  
‘I miss visiting the children’s graves back home’, she fretted as she rubbed her pregnant belly.


Three months later she gave birth to Edward, who sadly died at nine months and Eleanor’s grief intensified. Over the next eight years they had four healthy children, but with Thomas away from home so much, their relationship disintegrated and the family struggled. 


“Could you help me run a tea-garden?” Eleanor asked her oldest daughter (also named Eleanor).  Young Eleanor was thrilled as she had followed her father around learning as much as possible. Her favourite was the lavender which grew so well here, and you would always see her with a stem or two tucked into her long brown hair. 


In 1871, when young Eleanor married Arthur Palmer, a farmer, they moved to Jindivick on Arthur’s farm next to his brother. This area was the last in Victoria to be settled, delayed by the dense Great Gippsland Forest, but now areas were being cleared for the much-needed railway line.  Eleanor cultivated flower beds near the house, adding the easily obtainable horse manure to boost the dark grey-brown fine sandy virgin soil.  She planted flowers and cuttings given by her mother and neighbouring sister-in-law and lined the pathway with her favourite lavender shrubs. 
‘Will my garden survive in this bush?’ Eleanor worried.  Unfortunately, rabbits and wallabies enjoyed almost everything Eleanor grew. 
“Arthur, three times I’ve re-planted - please build me a fence to keep the foragers out,” Eleanor begged. 
Arthur complied, and the garden was finally safe. 


Eleanor and Arthur had six children, the fifth being my grandmother who was named Violet. She was born in 1879 and when miners were digging for the first silver in Broken Hill, little Eleanor was digging for worms in Jindivick.

“Mumma, come see the pretty coloured birds,” Violet called.
“Like rainbows” her mother replied.
“They are my garden friends, but not the brushtail possums  - they hiss and grunt in the roof at night.”
“Oh don’t mind them, Violet, they are just talking to each other”
Violet loved picking a flower for her mother to put in a glass on the wooden kitchen table.

 Unfortunately, Eleanor’s husband Arthur was like Eleanor’s own father in that he often disappeared, the family not knowing where he was. 


When Violet was twenty-seven she too married a farmer - Joseph Cottam.  Violet was a natural gardener, growing flowers, vegetables, and fruit.  She designed a rose arbour where she also grew her scarlet runner beans.  She provided most of their veggies, bottled fruit and made jam for the family.

My mother, Lily, was the fourth of Violet and Joseph’s six children and I can remember her saying,
“When I was a young girl I loved escaping to the garden, working to the seasons - hoeing, planting, weeding, and pruning, but picking was the best.  Peter my pet magpie and I whistled away together whilst I worked and he caught worms. 
In the Great Depression, a low time for many, we often had swagmen work the veggie patch and help on the farm in exchange for a feed, bath, and bed.”

My mother gardened until she was eighty years old before she moved into a unit, and even then, she would say,
“Come, see my beautiful African Violets they haven’t stopped flowering."

Looking at my daughter and her son Sam, I continued,
“My mum gardened with love just as her mother Violet did and the families before.  

So you see Sam - it’s in our blood, running right through from your ancestors.”

My photos - taken in 2014 of the cottage where the Wells family lived in Port Fairy.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 29 - Prompt: 'Music'

Week 29 -  'Music'

Music was a big part of our family background.  My mother and father met at choir practice for Scots Church in Shepparton, Victoria. They must have sung in church choirs for the rest of their lives.  
Dad’s sisters Tibbie and Ray were both organ players at the church in Orrvale.  Ray’s daughter Isobel took on the task later and is still playing for functions around the district. 

Dad would sing a lot of the time when he was working outside or in the car driving.  When we asked Mum to sing something she would always start with: 
             ‘Sing, sing, what shall I sing 
              The cat ran away with my apron string.’

Mum was a good whistler and often you could hear her whistling away around the house, whilst she worked.
When Mum was young she had a pet magpie (Peter, I think was his name) she would sit with him outside and they would whistle away together for ages. 
Also at that time her brother Phil had whittled a flute and played it beautifully.  

My brother Bill and sister Frances both had lovely voices and took lead roles in school musicals. I remember Fran practicing her singing role for one of the ‘three little girls’ in ‘The Mikado’.  Bill was away at Haileybury College in Melbourne.  We went up to listen to the performances such as ‘Aida’, Pirates of Penzance. Others were The Gondoliers and HMS Pinafore.

One of my lovely memories from childhood is extended family around the piano singing all the old Scottish songs.  Many still had strong Scottish accents.  This happened whenever we visited relatives and after dinner, someone would head for the piano and everyone would join in.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 28 - Prompt: 'Travel'

Week 28: 'Travel' - A Sad Time.

A lot of my ancestors have travelled, and some continued to do so throughtout their lives. But for this prompt, I will write about my Great Uncle Richard Pearce known as 'Dick'.  He was born 05 November 1873 in Innerleithen, Scotland to William Pearce and Sarah nee Clark.  He was a younger brother of my paternal grandfather - Francis George Pearce. 

In the 1881 Scottish Census, he was seven years old, a scholar living with his famiy at Miller Street (Tory Block) Innerleithen. 

In the next census in 1891 he had left school and at 17 yo was working as assistant aerated water manufacturer for his father.  They all now lived at High St, Innerleithen.
By the 1901 census, Dick is 27 (although listed as 24)and is married to Janet nee Bruce and is listed as retired Water assistant.

On 07 September 1907 he left Glasgow and boarded the ‘Athenia ‘ (ship) for Canada. The family story is that he went to join his brother Jim (JA) but apparently it didn’t work out.  (I am not sure what they meant by this, but maybe it was to do with work, relationship with Jim or that his wife and family was still back in Scotland.  The ship passenger list states he is 33 years old and a farm hand.

He was only there for about two years when he left to return home to Scotland. 
However on his return journey, he collapsed onboard suffering from pneumonia and died at Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada on 02 Oct 1909, only  35years old.
His body must have been brought home as he is buried with family at Traquair Road Cemetery, Innerleithen on the Scottish Borders.

What a shock his death would have been for his family - wife Janet (known as Jenny) and the children Elizabeth (Bessie) 8yo, Sarah 6yo and William about 4yo.

Map showing hometown Innerleithen in Scotland (green dot on right) and Saskatchewan, Canada (black dot onleft) where he joined his brother Jim Pearce.

The Gravestone for Richard Pearce (Dick) who is buried with his parents, brother Joseph Henry and sister Mary Elizabeth (died at birth).

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 27 - Prompt: ‘Independence'

Week 27   'Independence' - Historical Fiction

Independence - I have chosen to go with a young male ancestor seeking independence and bravely moving across the globe to find it.
'Brothers Farewell'

“Oh, James I will miss you so,” John says. “To think my brother will be on the other side of the world and I won’t see you, it grieves my heart.”  

“I feel the same,” James says.  “But remember ‘tis my big opportunity.  I shall have my own land and farm without father’s and Elizabeth’s ridicule.” 

“ ‘tis hard for me to understand your love of the soil, we are so different,” John says.

James is quiet for a moment thinking about John and his passion for trains and the railways compared to his own bent for growing and harvesting.  

James lowers his voice, 
“Nothing can come between us. We have a special bond, being of the one mother.  Not like Mary Ann who shares our father only.”

“True,” John says, handing James a package. “Here is some writing paper.  Promise to send news as soon as you arrive.  I want to picture where you are and what you’re doing. There is also a Bible to remember your God with comfort.  Our daily prayers will always include you, dear brother. Once you are established, Rebecca and I hope you meet a good woman, ‘tis pure enjoyment to chat by your fireside with the woman you love.”

James agrees in his mind that he would be overjoyed to experience that same love, but replies –– 

“I think my hours will be taken up settling in and working.” 

As the brothers share a final hug, James wonders, ‘will we ever be together again?’


Reflective Statement

My Great Grandfather, James Cottam laboured on his father’s farms in Lancashire. His younger brother John was a railways worker at Sheffield. They never met up again. Both died in accidents.  James was forty-four when killed in a rockslide. He arrived in Victoria in 1852 and married eight years later. He left a wife in-child and six children.
John, twenty-nine, was killed in a shunting accident. He left Rebecca and five young children.

I wish I’d known them and that they’d come together again.  I decided to bring them to life in my story. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 26 - Prompt: 'Black Sheep'

Week 26.  ‘Black Sheep’

There would have been 'black sheep' in our family I am sure, but the only ones hinted at I don't have sufficient information for a story, so I am covering a bit of social history to do with sheep and wool instead.

In the English language, ‘black sheep’ is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within a family. The term stems from the genetic effect in sheep whereby a recessive gene occasionally manifests in the birth of a sheep with black rather than white coloring; these sheep stand out in the flock and their wool was traditionally considered less valuable because it could not be dyed.
The term has typically been given negative implications, implying waywardness.
 In 18th and 19th century England, the black color of the sheep was seen as the mark of the devil.  In modern usage, the expression has lost some of its negative connotations, though the term is usually given to the member of a group who has certain characteristics or lack thereof deemed undesirable by that group.

"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" is an English nursery rhyme, the earliest surviving version of which dates from 1731. The words have not changed very much in two-and-a-half centuries. 
Uncorroborated theories have advanced to explain the meaning of the rhyme. These include: 
- it is a complaint against taxes levied on the Medieval English wool trade  imposed by King Edward I,  where profit from the sale of wool was divided into thirds - one for the Crown, one for the Church and one for the farmer, 
- it is about the slave. 
Did you know that over 350 years ago, people were buried in Wool ?
Taken from an Article on History House,  Reference:                                       

When researching your family history you may come across references in a parish register to an ancestor being 'buried in wool' or 'woollen burial'. What did this mean?
Acts of Parliament were passed from 1666  to 1678  with the aims of  "lessening the importation of linen from beyond the seas, and the encouragement of the woollen and paper manufacturer of the kingdom."
The Act said that any corpse buried must be dressed in a woollen shroud or woollen garments.
Only those who died from the plague could be buried in anything made of other materials.
The woollen trade was so important to England’s wealth that the concern was any new materials or foreign imports could put the woollen industry at risk.  It was important that the high demand for wool was continued. 
Those who did not comply with the ruling were sentenced 5 pounds. 
For legislation of the Act, see:  The Justice of the Peace, and Parish Officer, Volume 5, 1814 on Google Books.

NB: The Act was repealed in 1814, after quite a while of it being ignored.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 25: 'Same name'

Week 25 Prompt: ‘Same Name’

I thought I would look back on the name ‘Francis’ and 'Frances' in our family.  I knew it came down through the PEARCE family as a male name - my father’s line.  
My sister was named Frances Elizabeth and I was interested as to where that came from - to change it to a female name.

So looking at my ancestral tree I see the earliest one I can find is a male Francis PEARCE.

Francis PEARCE (Male). 24 May 1730 - 21 Oct 1799.
His parents were Richard Pearce and Martha BRITCHER. (Richard was a brother of my paternal 5th Great Grandfather - William).
Francis was born in Headcorn, Kent, England and resided there all his life, working as a carpenter. 
He died in December 1799 and was buried on Christmas Day.  
Francis was our 1st cousin X 6 times removed. All descending from Thomas Pearce born about 1680. (unverified)
Francis married Ann FLEET on 21 Oct 1755. 

Source: Entry from UK Register of Duties paid for Apprentices' Indentures, 1710-1911. Francis Pearce, Carpenter for apprentice- Adam Christian.

Francis and Ann had ten children including a girl Frances their fifth child.  

Ta-dah!!       So we have the first mention of a female Frances.
Frances PEARCE (Female). 30 Mar 1766 - 12 Oct 1842.  
As above - her parents were Ann and Francis PEARCE.
Frances married Thomas OTTAWAY in Headcorn, Kent on 11 Feb 1793 .
Frances and Thomas had four children that I know of but no Francis or Frances.

Frances (Pearce) OTTAWAY is buried in the St Peter & St Paul churchyard in Headcorn Kent, but sadly there is no headstone.

So it was another 100 years until our next Francis or Frances PEARCE came into the world. 

Francis George PEARCE (Male). 08 Mar 1870 - 30 Jun  1922.
Our grandfather - I have a photo of him as a young fellow, maybe 16 to 18 years old.
Although we never met this grandfather as he died before we were born, we can remember his face by the large portrait of him on the lounge wall at the Orrvale orchard house. Dark hair and a smart moustache.

When we were young, his wife, our Grandmother lived in the old orchard house with her oldest daughter (Auntie Tibbie) and next door was our Uncle Jim  Pearce and family. 
Francis George was born 08 Mar 1870 in Innerleithen Peeblesshire Scotland.and baptized on the 20 March.  The family had moved away from East Peckham, Kent and up to Scotland in about 1840 and were caretakers for St Ronan Wells and Gardens.
Francis married Isabella McIntosh LUMSDEN on 30 Dec 1898.    The family had emigrated on the ‘Demosthenes’ to Australia 07 Aug 1912 and Francis was listed as groundsman/orchardist.  He set up an orchard in Orrvale, near Shepparton.
Isabella and Francis (known as Geordie) had 5 children, missing out the name Francis/Frances again, instead passing on the George his second name he was known by.
Francis George died of pneumonia on 30 Jan 1922 in Orrvale, Victoria, Australia.

Frances Elizabeth PEARCE (Female). 09 Aug 1943
It was only twenty years later, Francis and Isabella’s son William Louden (our father) and mother Lilian COTTAM named their second child (1st daughter) - Frances Elizabeth when she was born on the 09 Aug 1943.

Frances (Back L) leaving Australia on the ‘Oriana’ with nursing girlfriends C 1966. Mother Lilian  next to Frances.
Frances settled in USA.

A more recent one of Frances in USA. - although she looks not much different !

So as far as I have managed to trace Francis/Frances Pearce - I have two males and two females. Maybe more will turn up as I research further.