Friday, June 29, 2012

Could this be the same Catherine Murphy?

Sometimes one small piece of information can open up a multitude of possible links to follow. I've just purchased a transcript of the death certificate for John Mason in Adelaide in 1857. It gives me three new pieces of information that I didn't know before: he was a labourer, he died of 'disease of the heart', and the Informant for the registration was a Michael Murnane.

This intrigued me - who was Michael Murnane? I found two Michael Murnanes mentioned in the Adelaide newspapers around this time, a father and son, but I couldn't find any connection with the Masons, and neither seemed to hold any sort of official post that might be the reason for signing the certificate. A Michael Murnane arrived in South Australia in 1848 and the older Michael died in 1868 aged about 80.

A search on Google led me to a family history website which said that Michael Murnane had arrived in NSW from Ireland in 1837 on board the Lady McNaughton (or McNaghton). The passenger list for the Lady McNaghton (in the NSW State Records) showed that along with Michael Murnane and his family the passengers included a Catherine Murphy, aged 21.

Co-incidence? Possibly. It's likely that almost any ship carrying passengers from Ireland would include a Catherine Murphy. The name Michael Murnane seems to occur less frequently, and I've found two other family history sites that connect the 1837 arrival with the Adelaide Murnanes, so I'm more confident that this is the same family. Perhaps, since the Murnane's owned land in South Australia, they employed John Mason and that is the connection.

The other problem is Catherine's age, which is given as 21 in 1837. (Her age at death would suggest a birth about 1822). But it's quite possible that this is a 'rounded' figure, if she was travelling as a single woman.

The Lady McNaughton was famous (or notorious) for two things - it carried many single women looking for marriage, and an outbreak of typhus on the journey led to the deaths of over 60 passengers and to the ship being quarantined for weeks on its arrival in Sydney. But that's another story.

UPDATE: see  Not the right Catherine after all

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thomas Henry Ward

Thomas Henry WARD
John WARD (1842-1905)
Mary Ann CRAGG (1843-1916)

Individual Facts
27 Dec 1882
Littleborough, Lancashire12
1891 (about age 9)
Lower Newlands, Rastrick, Yorkshire1
1901 (about age 19)
Clog maker; Milnrow, Lancashire3
1901 (about age 19)
17 Clifton St, Milnrow4
1911 (about age 29)
Boot repairer; 17 Clifton St, Milnrow5
Apr 1911 (about age 28)
17 Clifton St, Milnrow5
1952 (about age 70)
Milnrow, Lancashire6

1. Rosina BEALES (1895-1972)
1921 (about age 39)
Colchester, Essex7

        1. 1891 census (UK).
        2. Lancashire bmd online.
        3. 1901 census (UK).
        4. 1901 census (UK), RG 13/3831.
        5. 1911 census (UK).

More about Thomas Henry Ward:
Rememberance Day - Thomas Henry Ward
At last - a regiment for Thomas Henry Ward

Rosina Beales

William James BEALES (1868-1945)
Elizabeth WHYBREW (1869-1949)

Individual Facts
11 Feb 1895
Colchester, Essex13
1901 (about age 6)
16 Albion Grove, Colchester1
1911 (about age 16)
54 Spring Rd, Ipswich4
1911 (about age 16)
Domestic servant; Ipswich, Suffolk4
1972 (about age 77)
Rochdale, Greater Manchester2

1. Thomas Henry WARD (1882-1952)
Children 4

        1. 1901 census (UK).
        4. 1911 census (UK).

More about Rosina Beales:
From Essex to Lancashire

Some thoughts on census keeping

Having access to the UK census results from 1841 onwards has been invaluable in tracing this family history. Parish records and national registrations of births, deaths and marriages provide a lot of information, but the census records often help to confirm relationships, fill in gaps and sometimes provide unexpected information.

For instance, I discovered that Frances Ward (nee Dickinson) remarried when I was looking for information about her daughter, Esther Ward. I found an Esther Ward on the 1841 census living with a William and Fanny Tomlinson in Salford, along with a sister, also named Fanny Ward, who I hadn't known about previously. A little research showed that Fanny Tomlinson was previously Fanny Ward, a widow, who married William in 1829. This explained  why I couldn't find a recorded death for Fanny Ward.

So I was surprised to discover this week that since 1901, all Australian census data has been routinely destroyed once the statistics have been extracted, to protect people's privacy. Only some very partial records are available from the 19th century. I knew that there was little census information on line, but I'd assumed the records themselves were still in storage somewhere. In 2001 people were asked for the first time to tick a box on the census return if they were happy for the information to be kept and released in 99 years time. About 50% of people ticked 'yes'. 

This contrasts with the United States, where census information is released after 70 years. The 1940 census has just been released, causing much jubilation among genealogists. Perhaps 70 years was once the life expectancy of Americans, but there must be many alive today who were children in 1940. Perhaps the British embargo of 100 years is more realistic if privacy is a concern. But I wonder what it says about the relative cultures of the three countries that they handle the census information so differently?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Catherine Mason - widowed and destitute

In 1857, at the age of 42, John Mason died (cause unknown). This left Catherine Mason, then 35 years old, to bring up eight girls on her own. As this newspaper article from The South Australian Register, Tuesday June 2 1857 shows, she was soon in a desperate plight:

This was her first application to the Destitute Board, which provided relief to those who had no other means of support. The family were still receiving relief in March 1858, and possibly again in August 1859, although there isn't enough information provided on this later occasion to tell if it was the same Mrs Mason.

Approaching the Destitute Board could not have been an easy thing to do. An editorial in The South Australian Register April 1 1857  gives an insight into the attitudes displayed by some members of the Destitute Board towards the applicants.

John and Catherine Mason - pioneers

John and Catherine Mason left Sydney on the brig Dorset, a few days before Christmas 1844. 

Shipping news from the Australian, Dec 23 1844
With them were their two young daughters, Mary Ann and Catherine. Christmas must have been spent on board the ship, which carried 23 adults and 7 children, along with supplies, newspapers and letters for the little colony in Adelaide. They arrived at Port Adelaide on January 7, 1845.

What did they see and feel as they stepped off the ship? No doubt the weather was hot and dry at that time of the year, and the landscape pretty barren. This image of Port Adelaide by painter George French Angus and this sketch of the York Hotel in 1850 give some idea of how it must have looked.

Adelaide had been established as a colony in 1836, and in 1845 the population was still less than 22,000, so it was a small town compared to bustling Sydney. However, it was becoming increasingly prosperous. Copper had been discovered in Burra, South Australia in 1842 and the colony was exporting increasing amounts of wool and wheat. It was also a place of social and political experimentation, free of the stigma of being a penal colony. John and Catherine were among 2,336 people who chose to settle in South Australia that year. 

I haven't been able to find any record of John's occupation in Adelaide, nor where they lived. He and Catherine went on to have 6 more daughters between 1845 and 1852 (Margaret, Rose, Eliza, Susan, Jane and Bridget). None of the births were officially registered, nor did they appear in the 'Family Notices' columns of the local papers, suggesting that they were probably of fairly humble social status. 

Nevertheless, they meet the Pioneers Association of South Australia definition of pioneers - those who arrived in the colony before the end of 1845. Although two of their daughters, Susan and Eliza, left the province, several of the other daughters went on to marry and have children in South Australia.

John Mason

Name:John MASON
Individual Facts
Birthabt 1815Limerick, Ireland
Misc1845 (about age 30)The family moved  to South Australia in or before 1845
Death22 Jan 1857 (about age 42)Adelaide, South Australia1–2
1. Catherine MURPHY (1822-1878)
ChildrenRosanna Mason (1841-1843)
Mary Ann MASON (1842- 1887   )
Catherine MASON (1844- 1917   )
Margaret MASON (1845-1879)
Rose MASON (1847- 1878  )
Susan MASON (1848-1921)
Eliza MASON (1850- 1900 )
Jane MASON (1852- ?1886  )
Bridget MASON (1854-    )

1Genealogy South Australia ( ) .

Catherine Murphy

Name:Catherine MURPHY
Individual Facts
Birthabt 1822Probably Monaghan, Ireland
Deathbef 1878 (before about age 56)Adelaide, South Australia
1. John MASON (   ~1815 -1857) Married 2 Feb 1841
Children1. Roseanne Mason
Born: 1 Dec 1841 Sydney NSW
Died: 1843 Sydney

2. Mary Ann Mason
Born: 19 Oct 1842 Sydney
Died: 16 Mar 1887 Adelaide SA
Married: Henry Atkin, 25 Jul 1865

3. Catherine Mason
Born: 25 Mar 1844 Sydney
Died: 6 Nov 1917 South Australia
Married: George Davis, 5 Jun 1865

4. Margaret Mason
Born: 20 Jul 1845 Adelaide
Died: 20 April 1879 Adelaide
Married: Thomas Atkin, 26 Feb 1866

5. Rosanne Mason
Born: 11 Feb 1847 Adelaide
Died: 23 May 1878 Lambton NSW
Married: William Morris, 11 Mar 1868

6. Susan Mason
Born: 6 May 1848 Adelaide
Died: 19 Nov 1921 Colchester, UK
Married: David Whybrew, 28 May 1869

7. Eliza Mason
Born: 1 Aug 1850 Adelaide
Died: 23 Nov 1900 Edinburgh, Scotland
Married: Jeremiah Murphy, 19 Mar 1869

8. Jane Mason
Born: 6 Jul 1852 Adelaide
Died: maybe Feb 1886 South Australia

9 Bridget Mason
Born: 6 May 1854 Adelaide
Died: unknown.

More about Catherine Murphy: