Wednesday, 20 February 2019

2019 - #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks; Week 9 Prompt:’At the Courthouse'

 'At the Courthouse'

I couldn’t find any court dealings in my family history and wasn’t sure what to write for this prompt, until I read this story below, which Chris Goopy included in her ‘Collection of Convict Captures’, on the blog TROVE TUESDAY, 19 February 2019. HEADLINESOFOLD.BLOGSPOT.COM  


I loved the story and thought I would transcribe it for my blog. Although there isn't a court case described here, no doubt you can picture them with the 'Giant' Morgan facing the Judge.
‘Pursuit of a Convict’ is a story that appeared in the ‘Beverley Times' (WA: 1905-1977) Thursday 16thJanuary 1958. Page 6.  It comes from ‘Trove’ National Library of Australia.

‘Our Strange Past’

It is hoped that Captain John Hindmarsh had a nice trip out from England on the ‘Buffalo’, in 1836, to become the first Governor of South Australia, because he had an absolutely miserable time after he landed.

Convicts escaping from Van Diemen’s Land all seemed to want to live in and around Adelaide, and they caused the new Governor no end of bother.  They kept breaking into the Government stores to steal guns and ammunition with which they shot at law abiding citizens.

To stop this sort of nonsense Governor Hindmarsh appointed a Sheriff, Mr S Smart.  This had an immediate result: escaped convicts decided to shoot the new official.
Leader in this school of thought was an arrogant giant named Morgan. Selecting two associates, he crept up to Sheriff Smart’s bark hut, one dark night, pushed open the flimsy door and Bang!
Fortunately, the shot missed, and Sheriff Smart rushed to the door firing his musket and shouting appropriate sentiments.


All this scared the three bad men so badly that they ran considerable distances.  Dark though the night had been, the keen eye of the Sheriff had identified the killer squad. Governor Hindmarsh agreed that the three men should be hunted down and punished, but there was one serious complication.  South Australia didn’t have a police force.
“I’ll call for volunteers” decided the Governor. A very mixed group answered the call, but there was one particularly lively looking fellow in the form of Mr Henry Alford.  This man wasn’t very big, but he had a conscientious look about him. 


Governor Hindmarsh selected him to lead a party of three in pursuit of the wicked giant, Morgan, who rumor said hadn’t stopped running until he had reached the whaling stations at Encounter Bay, 68 miles from Adelaide, as the crow flew.

Constable Alford didn’t know the way to go, so a ‘blackfellow’ was supplied as a guide.  Rations for 10 days were gathered and an arsenal of 1 musket, 1 horse pistol and 1 pocket pistol supplied.  The first full-blooded manhunt in South Australia was underway.
At the end of the first day’s march, the black guide discovered that the party’s aim was to capture a desperate ex-convict. Without further ado, he resigned on the spot and was last seen racing back through the brush towards Adelaide.
Constable Alford ordered his two assistants to press on regardless.

Seven days later the party staggered into Back’s whaling station in an exhausted state.  Their boots were completely worn out, they were covered in scratches and blisters, and they were convinced that the man who had calculated the ten days rations must have been catering for mice not men.

A lesser man than Constable Alford, might have retired from the police force at that point. But our hero was still full of fire. 


He announced to the whaling people that he and his mates were cattle dealers and had come to Encounter Bay to take delivery of a shipload of cattle that would be arriving there soon.
It was a ratbag story, but it was accepted because only convicts on the run only ever came to Encounter Bay and they all told similar tales.  Most of the whaling crews were escapees.  After a few days, Constable Alford learned that Morgan was definitely living in the district and was probably camping further along the beach and probably near Wright’s whaling station.

“The ship may bring the cattle in near Wrights,” said Constable Alford craftily and led his men up the beach.  At Wright’s, they had a bit of luck.  There they sighted a well-known but highly nervous runaway convict.  Cornering him, they fiercely whispered that if he didn’t find out and show them where Morgan was hiding, they’d take him back to Adelaide.  
This convict must have been a born stool pigeon.  He eagerly cooperated and by night led the police party to a hut hidden deep in the bush.   Alford and associates rushed in and grabbed Morgan before he could wake and grab a gun. Well, they had Morgan, but how were they going to hold him on the long trek home?  The fellow, as mentioned before, was a giant. 
Quick thinking Alford was the first to provide a solution.  We will handcuff him to one of us.


His two assistants immediately agreed and voted that the honor go to Alford himself.  This did not delight Alford at all. He was only a small chap and Morgan was so big.  But as senior man he had to take the responsibility.  And so it was that Alford and Morgan became bound to each other with links of steel.
Before starting the march back to Adelaide, it was necessary to drop in at Wrights whaling station to get some supplies.
The wicked Morgan began shouting: “Help, help, the cops have got me”.  This appeal touched the hearts of many of the whalers who began assembling a rescue party. Extra forces were rushed over from Granite Island, where particularly bad lads resided.  Constable Alford was now in real bother, his party surrounded by vicious types with no respect for authority.

He levelled his musket and ordered his men to make play with the horse pistol and the pocket pistol. 
“We are well armed” he snarled “and we will sell our lives dearly”
It must have been a convincing bit of acting. The wolves fell back. Constable Alford then pulled a winner.  He sighted two young men whom he happened to know were wanted for mild offenses back in Adelaide. He shouted that they were under arrest and amazingly the scamps surrendered like lambs. 

There was no more interference and the tramp home began. The party consisted of Alford and his two sides, Morgan the giant and the two young prisoners.  It seemed to Alford that the safest way home would be along the coastline.  But Morgan who was in a perfect position to catch his ear, said that he knew a super shortcut over land and would be delighted to act as guide.  So meek and mild, Morgan had become that Alford decided to accept the offer. 

 For two days the convict led the way through forest and fen.  He moved at a fast pace, and curiously enough, small Mr Alford dragging at his wrist, was somehow forced into every thorn bush and hole along the route. 
At the end of the second day the party found itself near the lakes at the entrance to the Murray River.  Morgan had been playing false!  He had been leading away from Adelaide and towards a region where escaped murderers lived. 

“We’ll make back to the coast” decided Constable Alford.  Morgan who to this moment had been hale and hearty announced that his health had collapsed, and he couldn’t move another step.
For a day the party waited for him to recover and food began to run short.  Morgan suggested a solution, that he be freed.  Next morning Alford took a firm stand.


“Get up and walk, Morgan” he demanded. 
“Shoot me if you dare” Morgan snarled back.
Alford said he would shoot
And Morgan said: “Go on”.

No-one was getting anywhere. The party didn’t have the strength to carry the convict.  Morgan grinned happily.  He was winning right down the line. He had the amateur cops licked.  They’d have to leave him behind whilst they made a rush to get food for themselves.  

But the smart Constable Alford wasn’t beaten yet.  He selected a nice big tree and handcuffed Morgan’s arms round it. 
“You can stay there until we return for you” he threatened.
More laughter from the giant.

The party moved off and when well away from the tree rested for two hours.  Then it returned to see if Morgan had softened. He hadn’t.
“This time we really will have to leave you.” Alford warned: “Please be sensible and come with us”
Morgan obviously didn’t believe it.  “Go on” he sneered.

The party went on, and by forced marching got through to Adelaide in two days, where Alford reported to Hindmarsh immediately. The Governor was sorely troubled, he didn’t want a prime scandal this early in his career – man chained to tree by officials in new colony dies of hunger.


He called a council meeting and passed a resolution establishing a police force.   A superintendent was appointed on the spot and one horse purchased at great expense. (There were few horses in S.A. at the time.)
The new superintendent with Constable Alford, another man and the horse were then sent away at the double to bring Morgan in.

The trip back to the gum tree took two days. Morgan was still alive and kicking. The kicking was being aimed at wild dogs which kept prowling round him. Never was a criminal happier to see police arrive. Of his own volition he promised that he would do anything asked of him.  After a feed and a night’s rest he eagerly marched towards Adelaide and was the freshest man in the party when it arrived.

Found guilty of trying to murder the Sheriff, he was transported back to Tasmania for life.  Down in Tasmania, Morgan awoke to the shameful fact that he had been taken by an amateur cop.  His anger rose to such a point that he escaped and fled to Victoria where he began a horse-stealing business. 

A South Australian policeman passing through the colony heard a description of him; identified him as Morgan, and, marching out into the bush captured him quick smart.
Once more Morgan went back to Tasmania, and as far as is known, remained there for the rest of his days.


Thanks to Chris Goopy who first shared the story cuttings on TROVE TUESDAY 19 February 2019 - Collection of Convict Captures:  HEADLINESOFOLD.BLOGSPOT.COM

Monday, 18 February 2019

2019 - #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks; Week 8, Prompt: ‘Family Photo’


‘Family Photo’

Pictured are my father and his two older sisters.  There would be two more boys born after this was taken.

In the picture are Sarah Elizabeth (Ray) 1902-1988, William Louden (Bill) 1904-1982 and Isabella MacIntosh (Tibbie) 1899-1990, Pearce.  

This is one of the photos from a box inherited from my father William Pearce.  I always liked the photo.  It is a very clear one of the children as they pose in their set places.  
Aunty Ray (L) looks happy, my Dad looks inquisitive and Aunty Tibbie the oldest seems to be putting up with it.
I love that the two girls have matching coats and skirts and their hair is brushed shiny with ribbons.  My dad looks elegant in his frilly shirt and shorts. The photo was probably taken in 1906-7 before Jim was born.

Interesting as I write this, I notice that they died in the opposite order to birth.  In fact, the whole family did – James Finlay (Jim) 1907-1972 and the youngest George Edward 1909-1942 killed in action New Guinea WWII.

Their parents were Isabella McIntosh Lumsden and George Francis (Geordie) Pearce of Scotland.   I would think that there was a complete family photo also taken, but unfortunately, I don't have one.  Except for Sarah, the children were born around the Innerleithen/Peebles area in Peebleshire.  Sarah was born at Dumbarton Road, Whiteinch, Partick, Western Glasgow.  
(I do not know why – I shall try and find out) Here is a link showing a photo of Dumbarton Road Partick, 1904

The Pearce family migrated to Victoria, Australia 07 August 1912, their ages then ranging from twelve down to two & half.  
I imagine it would have been quite some journey for their mother and father.
They settled on land they built up into an orchard.  The men became orchardists and both married and had families.  Tibbie became a nurse and teacher. Sarah married Horatio Richards an Englishman and had two children. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

2019 - #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks; Week 7 Prompt: ‘Love’



One instant that has always stuck in my mind is a story of motherly love.
My own mother told me about my Auntie Bessie Mackay (nee Elizabeth Walker Pearce) who was my father’s cousin.  (My 1st cousin X 1 removed)
With her first pregnancy, she delivered twins. They were both so tiny that she was told to keep them in the kitchen, with the kettle boiling continuously and the doors shut. The only hope for either to survive.  A mammoth task – both day and night.  She did this lovingly and along with the extended family praying for the new babies, one baby was able to survive.  He grew into a healthy very tall man and would be about 85 now, as he was born around 1934.
Auntie Bessie and her husband Uncle Willie (William Alexander Mackay) both had very strong Scottish accents that they never lost.  They went on to have three girls and another boy.  Later when researching, I learned that Uncle Willie had twin sisters 13 years younger than him - Willamina and Margaret, who were born on 04 Apr 1909.  Only Willamina survived and she lived until 1999, dying at 90 years of age.
Auntie Bessie was a darling and when I had my first child she came up and lived with us for a while helping Dad and Mum prepare the market garden produce for the Sydney Markets and local sales.  She loved my baby daughter and sang and rocked her for hours.  
Auntie Bessie was a prolific knitter and had a big suitcase where she kept pre-knitted items. She would let me select an item for my girls when I visited her.  We called her Gran Bessie, as she was just like a grandma to the children.
I also remember that she always bicycled everywhere she went,  and even when she was elderly, she had an exercise bike to ride.  She made real Scottish shortbread that we all loved.  At the side of their house in Drummond Rd, Shepparton was a blood -plum tree.  How I relished those delicious dark juicy fruit - the best plums I have ever had.

I do have a better photo tucked away somewhere - when I find it I shall replace this little one taken in about 1954,

RIP Gran Bessie.  
28 Apr 1901 – 01 Feb 1994. Died age 93.

Monday, 4 February 2019

2019 - #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks; Week 6 Prompt: ‘Surprise’

 Week 6 Prompt:  ‘Surprize’

I was trying to think of something in my ancestry/research that was a  surprize but everything that came to mind I had already written about or the people were still alive.

When low and behold my surprize hit me in the face this morning!!

I was doing some research on my paternal side of the family and needed an old photograph to check people and names.  I took the photo back to my desk and realized I had picked up the wrong one.  This one was a family photo on my maternal side - same generation.  I started to look at it closely and as it was not labeled, I thought I would mark who the family members were.  
There was Mother (Eleanor Wells) and Father (Arthur Samuel Palmer) with 5 sons and 1 daughter. 

What a shock – I only have 4 boys and 1 girl in my tree !!  
This is not counting the first-born child - daughter Edith Agnes born in 1873, who sadly died when only one year old.

So the children I know are:
        Names                                     Birth (Photo position)
    1.    Arthur Ernest (Ern)         1874 (? Mid Centre)
 2.  James Edward                   1876  (? Mid Back)
   3.  Percy Richard Frederick  1878  (? Back right)
4.  Violet Maude                      1879  ( * Back left)
  5.  Claude Laidlaw                   1881   (? Front right)

So, who is this other boy in the family photo - possibly kneeling on the Front left?  

None of them look like twins.
I checked on Ancestry the other matching Palmer trees and they had the same information as me.
I checked Arthur Palmer and Eleanor Wells marriage and the date was 1871. 

Ref: Australian BDM Register, Schedule D.  No 24  Marriage copy of Entry. Reg no: 1175  
(given to me by relative Lesley Holt, 5 Aug 1981)

This could mean there was an earlier child. 
However, I could find no sign of one on the Birth Register or in Trove Newspapers.

I recognize Violet as she is the only daughter in the family alive and is my Grandmother.  I have other photos of her at that age, labelled. 

I also checked to see if I could find photos of the men to compare. I had photos of the four men - but they were all as adults, and it was hard to tell.  I have marked the boys as I think they could be placed in the photograph, in the list above.

There is no record available of wills for Eleanor or Arthur. None of the children are marked on Electoral Rolls that I have found so far.

However I did find on Eleanor’s Death Certificate the list of children from her marriage and it does not include any other son, to those I already know. (Crop from Death Certificate)

So this 'Surprize' extra boy in the photo will remain a mystery for now.

Friday, 1 February 2019

2019 - #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 5, Prompt: ‘At the Library’.

2019 - ‘At the Library’.

Our local – Gold Coast Family History Society Inc. in South East Queensland has a brilliant library.  
It covers local, national, and international books, magazines, maps, collections, CDs, DVDs, etc.  Many are donated by volunteers and some are bought as suggested or when seen at family history conventions and the likes.
The group provides research facilities to help with family history research both in Australia and overseas. 

(Approval by GCFHS Inc to use logo)

There are many experienced family historians who are willing to help you to work your way through your family history research.  Some have also compiled records of graves in local cemeteries and newspaper family notices.

Computers are available to do online searching also and there is free access to quite a few of the major genealogical sites. 

They hold regular monthly evening meetings there on certain subjects such as – Irish families, Scottish families. Computer research, use of Ancestry, Legacy,  writing family history, etc. 
The group also holds introduction lessons for ‘Use of the library and how to research ancestors’. They hold a successful annual convention with great speakers as well as guest speakers during the year. 
There is a website for the group:
and a Facebook page:

So, all in all, a fabulous resource centre at a cheap annual membership cost.