Saturday, 31 August 2013

Fathers' Day: first Sunday in September in Australia

The first mention of Father's Day in the Australian press seems to be nearly a hundred years ago in  a mention in the Adelaide Register of 10 December 1913 based on a search of the National Library of Australia's Trove newspaper database using the keywords "Fathers day" and "first Sunday".

It is a very bah humbug approach buried on page 12 and referencing the new creation of the United States and quoting the New York Post:
FATHER'S DAY. (1913, December 10). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 12. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from

There is a slightly earlier article along the same lines in the Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930) Sunday 7 December 1913 on page 8.

The next article coming up on my search of Trove is from The Daily News of Perth in November 1922:

CONGREGATIONAL. (1922, November 4). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), p. 8. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from
There seems to be no explanation as to why the first Sunday in November was chosen.  From the Wikipedia article on Father's Day, it seems that currently nowhere in the world chooses to celebrate Fathers on the first Sunday in November though there are a great diversity of days used for the celebration.

In 1927, the Cairns Post among other newspapers advised that New South Wales had chosen the first Sunday in November to be Father's Day:

FOR MATRONS. (1927, June 14). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from
It seems that it was a Country Womens' Association Conference of 1927 that adopted this date. (FATHERS' DAY. (1928, October 26). The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 15. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from

There was no consistency however as the Adelaide Advertiser reported a church in Balaklava would be celebrating Father's Day Service on Sunday 5 August 1928. (CHURCH NOTES. (1928, August 4). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 26. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from Similarly a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald in 1931 advises that the Methodist Church in Dulwich Hill had celebrated Father's Day on the first Sunday in August for the past 4 or 5 years. (FATHER'S DAY. (1931, September 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from

1935 is the first mention I have found for the adoption of our current date of the first Sunday in September for celebrating Father's Day in Australia.

S.A. Fathers' Day Kept For First Time. (1935, September 2). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from
 I haven't found any mention in my searches of Trove of the state of Victoria having adopted the observance earlier than this.

I wasn't looking for advertising - another search for another day - but I came across this via advertorial text in the middle of the page:
TRADERS' GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR FATHER'S DAY. (1941, September 3). Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved August 31, 2013, from
No power tools but slippers, ties, shirts - some things remain the same in the commercialisation of such celebrations.

Without fathers we wouldn't be here - so to all the past and present fathers in my family tree, Happy Father's day for tomorrow.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 192 : John Chauncy Champion de Crespigny (1908 - 1995)

From SATURDAY WEDDINGS IN TOWN AND COUNTRY CENTRES. (1947, June 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 8. Retrieved August 29, 2013, from

This is my first post following the Sepia Saturday theme.  The prompt for this week was a photograph of musicians in 1947. While the musicians were in their shirt sleeves, I chose this photograph as it was taken the same year.

John Chauncy Champion de Crespigny was born on 25 August 1908 at Royal Park Melbourne to Philip, a journalist, and his wife Birdie. He was the youngest of four surviving children:
  • Annie Frances born 1903
  • Lorna Blanche born 1904 
  • Philip George born 1906
There had also been a baby who died at birth in 1901.

John's father enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1918 and was killed in Palestine in July 1918. (My earlier bog post from April 1913). John was only nine years old.

John enlisted in World War 2 and was a prisoner of war of the Japanese. He was captured in Java and imprisoned in Thailand where he was ADC to "Weary" Dunlop in camp number 4. Twenty years later John wrote about celebrating Mothers' Day while a prisoner of war. (AN ECHO FROM MOTHER'S DAY, 1943— IN A POW CAMP. (1967, June 28). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 14. Retrieved August 29, 2013, from .)

Summary of service in World War 2 retrieved from 29 August 2013

The wedding pictured above is John's second marriage.  His first marriage of 1932 ended in divorce in 1939. At the time of his divorce he was an advertising specialist of Dawson Street, Ballarat. DIVORCE COURT. (1939, April 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 2. Retrieved August 29, 2013, from ) John's second wife, Margaret Nicol (1909 - 1998), was the widow of Esmond Bernard Serisier (1905 - 1945).

John died on 7 February 1995. His wife Margaret died three years later.

John does not look nearly as relaxed as the musicians: weddings are not relaxing and it is not long after his experiences as a prisoner of war.

Reverend Thomas Kemmis (1774 - 1827)

The Reverend Thomas Kemmis was the father of my 3rd great grandfather's first wife, Charlotte Kemmis (subject of a separate blog entry).

Thomas was the oldest son of Thomas Kemmis (1753 - 1823) who was appointed Crown Solicitor for Ireland in 1784.

The family is listed in A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland (1863)

Burke, Bernard Sir (1863). A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the landed gentry of Great Britain and Ireland. Harrison, London, volume 2 pages 804-805 retrieved from Google books on 30 August 2013
This entry does not give details of the second marriage of the Reverend Thomas Kemmis and his two children by that marriage: Charlotte and Edward.  It seems unusual for Burke to make a mistake of that kind.

The will of the Reverend Thomas Kemmis dated 23 August 1827 and probated 31 May 1828 clearly names Mary Humphrys and their children and provides for them.
The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO) PROB 11 Prerogative Court of Canterbury and related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers PROB 11/1740/381 Will of Reverend Thomas Kemmis, Clerk of Brockley Park , Queens Count, page 1 of 3.  The will was proved at London on 31 May 1828.

A careful reading of the will suggests that Thomas did not marry Mary.  He states
Whereas Mary Humphrys formerly of Grotton [illegible] who has lived with me several years and by whom I have two children namely Charlotte & Edward and who are totally unprovided for it is my wish in the first instance to [illegible] a moderate provision & hereby authorize and empower my Executors ....
On the second page of the will, he continues to refer to Mary as Mary Humphrys and thus it seems clear that they had not married.

Thomas's son Henry made some notes in 1889 when he, Henry, was in his 78th year.  He wrote of his father:
My father was the eldest son, and consequently heir to a vary large property and though unsuited to the profession, entered the church in order to keep the livings, as I suppose, as much as possible in the family, and many of these were in his father's gift.
My father then was a pluralist - a man of the very highest breeding, natty to a degree and in dress was most scrupulous (took two hours to dress every morning) and ranking of first order in those beau Brummell days. The celebrated Hoby of London was his bootmaker of whose specimens he always had racks full and so with his gloves and all other articles of dress. (Kemmis, Henry & Macintyre, J. Keith. The wreck of the Loch Ard (1889). Copy of notes made by Henry Kemmis; page 2. Copy held by the State Library of Victoria)

Thomas Kemmis died at Woodside Cheshire, opposite Liverpool, in 1827.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Response to Geniaus: The Bloggers' Geneameme

  1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s? I have called my blog Anne's family history - not a very inspiring title but I couldn't think of anything useful that covered the diversity of stories from my husband's and my forebears. The blog can be found at
  2. Do you have a wonderful "Cousin Bait" blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question. Most of my links to cousins also researching their family history has been through my online tree at The blog posts on the Green and Plaisted families were a write up of a collaborative research effort with two cousins to whom I connected through ( and ). One blog post ( )has been found by a previously unknown cousin 😊
  3. Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging? I have been very inspired by the Legal Genealogist blog by Judy Russell at . Among a diverse range of topics, she tells beautiful stories about her family members. My daughter wanted me to give her more information than just names, facts, dates and I really wanted to write down what I have been uncovering.  A blog seems to be a good way to do this incrementally. Also some of the facts I was researching, particularly the stories about the Green and Plaisted families needed a narrative to explain the research conclusions .
  4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s? Mostly it is based on the name and dates of the protagonist of the post. I want it to be a useful heading for people searching their family history and I think the most useful thing is to tell them who the post is about.
  5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they? I am composing this on my iPad. But although it is useful for starting a blog, most of the time I need to finish the blog on the desktop PC as the iPad application is not flexible enough. On this occasion though I have completed the post using the iPad's Blogger app.
  6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post? I usually plus one to my Google profile. Sometimes I email my immediate family if I think they will be interested.
  7. How long have you been blogging? Since April 2012 but it was a very slow start. It is only over the last few months I have really started adding posts. 
  8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog? I really think we should say how we know the facts that we relay in the blog - I consider references essential.
  9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience? I wanted to do more than document dates and facts on a tree. It isn't very accessible unless you are very interested in family history. My daughter was the main prompt, she asked several times for me to tell her about her forebears - not just the names and dates. My main audience is my immediate family and any interested relatives.
  10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of? Too hard to say! I don't have a favourite. There are some I feel more frustrated with than others; I don't feel I have told the stories adequately. I know I need to improve but feel the best way to do this is to keep writing.
  11. How do you keep up with your blog reading? Blogger does have a blog reader for blogs I subscribe to but I find it much much easier to keep up by receiving posts by email. I have recently subscribed to Merron Riddiford's Wester District Families blog at . It is an absolute delight when her posts appear in my mail box, as it is to read posts by the Legal Genealogist. They are always interesting and well written.
  12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s? Google's Blogger
  13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging software? I would really like a useful way to add footnotes. There is an HTML work around but it is very clumsy. I have now resorted to putting references in brackets and small font within the text. I think it is really important for family history blogs to give readers the detail as to how you know particular facts.
  14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers? To date it has been A toxophilite - Mary de Crespigny née Clarke (1749 - 1812) at
  15. Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog? A sole blogger
  16. How do you compose your blog posts? Slowly!  It takes a surprising amount of work to write down what I already know. I go back and check each fact and underlying source and often get caught up in more research.
  17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. No
  18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers? Yes
  19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging? Having a tree on the computer with almost all my sources linked has been very important. It is fundamental to maintaining track of my family history research. I have been inspired by the National Library of Australia's Trove resource since it first launched. I want to share more of what I have found also from court cases, inquests, land records and wills.
  20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger? Just start trying to tell some of the stories you have discovered when doing your research.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Trove Tuesday: Obituary for John Young (1856 - 1928)

From OBITUARY. (1928, November 3). Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved August 27, 2013, from

John Young was my husband's great grandfather.

He was the oldest surviving son of George Young and Caroline née Clarke. He was born at Dunolly on 27 August 1856. His father was a gold miner and the family moved around the rushes until settling at Lamplough as can be seen from the birth places of the children:
  • George born and died at Beechworth about 1854
  • John born 27 August 1856 at Dunolly
  • Alice born  1859 at White Hills near Maryborough
  • Charlotte and Harriet, twins, born 1861 at Lamplough
  • Maria born 1863 at Lamplough
  • Rachel born 1865 at Lamplough
  • Caroline born 1867 at Lamplough, died 1876
  • Edmond born 1870 at Lamplough died 1876
  • Annie born 1872 at Lamplough and died 1873
  • Laura  born 1874 at Lamplough and died 1876
  • William Robert born 1876 at Lamplough
  • James Ernest born 1878 at Lamplough

With the birth of the twins at the Lamplough rush of 1860, the family didn't move on. George bought land and the family settled in the district.

John worked as a miner.

He travelled to New South Wales and, according to his death certificate, spent six years there.  In Parkes he met a widow, Sarah Jane Whiteman née Way. They married in Melbourne on 26 September 1894 at 430 Bourke Street according to the rites of the Church of Christ.   Their residences stated on the marriage certificate was that he was living at Bowenvale and she was at the Mechanics Hotel, Bourke Street.

Sarah Jane had two children by her first marriage, Robert born 1883 and Mary Ann Whiteman, Mary Ann was born on 19 August 1884, seven months after Sarah Jane's first husband died of pneumonia. Sarah Jane had a third child, Jack Walsh Whiteman born 13 August 1894 at Parkes, just weeks before her marriage to John Young. The child was born to an unknown father and stayed in Parkes to be brought up by Sarah Jane's parents and sister. He was renamed Leslie Leister; Sarah Jane's sister Eliza marrying Robert Leister and the two of them brought up the boy.

John and Sarah Jane had three children together:
  • Caroline born and died 1895 at Timor (near Bowenvale)
  • John Percy 24 August 1896 at Bowenvale
  • Cecil born 5 July 1898 at Rokewood

Sarah Jane died of following the birth of Cecil on 6 July 1898 at Rokewood.

The two young boys were brought up by John's sisters. In particular by Charlotte who had married George Wilkins and lived at Homebush, near Avoca. The boys also spent time with Harriet who had married William Richards and lived at Clunes.  The era was not one where widowed fathers brought up their children.  John continued to work as a miner at Bowenvale and Betley just south of Dunolly.

Sarah Jane's oldest two children stayed very close to the Young family; for example visiting Charlotte and writing frequently to their two young half-brothers (we have a collection of post cards from the young Jack Young which he collected through his child hood).

At the end of his life, John Young lived with his step daughter Mary Ann and her second husband, Henry White Nichols, in Henry's house in Seddon, also known as Yarraville.  According to the electoral rolls, John was still living at Betley in 1924.  I do not know of any connection to Beveridge as mentioned in the obituary.

John died on 23 October 1928 after a three month illness from arterio sclerosis and cardiac failure.  He is buried at Footscray cemetery.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Charlotte Kemmis (1816-1847); first wife of Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy

In 1841 Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy (my 3rd great grandfather) married Miss Charlotte Kemmis.  They had arrived in South Australia together aboard the Dumfries on 11 October 1839.  Charlotte Kemmis was accompanying her half-brother and his family.

COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1839, October 19). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 3. Retrieved August 24, 2013, from

In his memoirs of his second wife, Philip Chauncy summarised his first marriage:
I will now advert to my own history from the time I left England in June, 1839. I landed from the good ship Dumfries, at Glenelg in South Australia, in the following October ; was married to Miss Charlotte Kemmis in Adelaide, on the 16th March, 1841, and removed to Fremantle, Western Australia, in the beginning of the following month. ... [Chauncy was appointed as assistant surveyor and went to live at Guildford] ... Six years had passed away, and on the 11th day of February, 1847, I was plunged into my first grief by the death of my much loved wife, who was the daughter of an Irish clergyman of the Church of England and a true Christian. I was overwhelmed by an agony of grief, and obtained six months leave of absence ... (Chauncy, Philip Lamothe Snell (1976). Memoirs of Mrs Poole and Mrs Chauncy. Lowden, Kilmore, Vic, page 28)
 The marriage of Philip Chauncy and Charlotte Kemmis was announced with the minimum of detail in the South Australian of 19 March 1841:
Married. - On Tuesday the 16th March, at Trinity Church, by the Rev. C. B. Howard, Philip Chauncy, Esq., to Miss C. Kemmis. (Family Notices. (1841, March 19). Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844), p. 2. Retrieved August 24, 2013, from
  Charlotte Chauncy was buried in East Perth cemetery.  Her age was given as 31; she was born about 1816.

Gravestone of Charlotte Chauncy in East Perth cemetery.  Image retrieved from Australian Cemeteries Index
Both Philip Chauncy and Henry Kemmis, Charlotte's half-brother, included an account of the voyage of the Dumfries in their memoirs which are held in the State Library of Victoria.

The memoir of Henry Kemmis  (State Library of Victoria MS 11774 Kemmis, Henry & Macintyre, J. Keith. The wreck of the Loch Ard (1889). Copy of notes made by Henry Kemmis.) has a section on the voyage of the Dumfries.  It does not mention that his sister was with him, nor does it make mention of Philip Chauncy as a fellow passenger.  Although he discusses his parents and his mother's death, Henry Kemmis does not mention his father's remarriage nor his half-siblings.

The notes for Philip Chauncy's memoir also held by the State Library of Victoria (MS 9287 Chauncy, Philip Lamothe Snell (1839). Papers.) also include details of the voyage.  Chauncy's comments indicate that he did not care for Henry Kemmis or his wife but found Henry Kemmis's sister Charlotte good company.  Charlotte was stated to be sharing a cabin with a child of her brother.

Henry Kemmis does not name his sisters in his memoir but does discuss his father. Philip Chauncy never named his wife's father but did say she was the sister of Henry Kemmis. The father of Henry Kemmis, the Reverend Thomas Kemmis of Brockley Park, left a will, and in it he names  Mary Humphrys "who has lived with me several years and by whom I have two children namely Charlotte & Edward". He also names his children Arthur, Henry and Mary as residual legatees and his brother Henry Kemmis as executor.

The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO) PROB 11 Prerogative Court of Canterbury and related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers PROB 11/1740/381 Will of Reverend Thomas Kemmis, Clerk of Brockley Park , Queens Count, page 1 of 3.  The will was proved at London on 31 May 1828.

Philip and Charlotte had no children.

I do not know what became of Charlotte's mother and brother Edward.  I have since been contacted by a descendant of Edward as a result of this blog entry :). Edward Rupert Humphreys (1820 - 1893) lived in Ireland, Cambridge (Magdalen Coll), Prince Edward Island, Edinburgh, Cheltenham and finally Boston. While Edward was living on Prince Edward island, the local newspaper, the Island Register, recorded on AUG. 06, 1847, DIED ON 11 FEBRUARY LAST, CHARLOTTE OF DYSENTERY, WIFE OF PHILIP S. CHAUCEY, SURVEYOR GENERAL OF WEST AUSTRALIA AND SISTER OF E. R. HUMPHREYS OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND. (retrieved from an index to "The Islander" Vital Statistics ) It seems Charlotte and Edward's mother married; Edward's Boston death record lists his mother’s name as Mary Berry.

Charlotte's half brother Henry died near Port Macquarie in 1894. One of his sons was a clergyman there. (Local and General News. (1894, March 17). The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 - 1950), p. 5. Retrieved August 25, 2013, from

Another half-brother, Arthur, had emigrated to Australia at about the time of his father's death in 1827 and died in 1842. He was a successful businessman and his obituary credits him as 'the "Founder of Steam Navigation" at Port Phillip'.(Family Notices. (1842, April 15). Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844), p. 2. Retrieved August 25, 2013, from
) ('Kemmis, Arthur (1806–1842)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 August 2013.) 

Charlotte's oldest half brother, Thomas, died in 1844 in Ireland. (Family Notices. (1845, January 28). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved August 25, 2013, from

Saturday, 17 August 2013

George Bowyer transported for pickpocketing

The proceedings of the Old Bailey, London's Central Criminal Court are online at in a useful searchable format.  My attention was brought to this resource by a talk given by Joshua Taylor in Melbourne which was sponsored by .

Browsing for my forebears, whether victims or villains, I came across an item where George Bowyer was found guilty of pickpocketing and sentenced to seven years transportation. (Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 17 August 2013), July 1790, trial of GEORGE BOWYER (t17900707-35).)

The trial was on 7 July 1790 and the victim, Claude Crespigny, described how he was alerted to the theft by a footman and pursued the thief.
On the 2d of June last, about noon, under Newcastle-house , a footman told me I was robbed, and pointed to the prisoner, and called to him; and in King-street I came up to him; I never lost sight of him; towards the end of Gate-street, a man caught him in his arms; and he had thrown my handkerchief into a passage; I saw him make a motion with his right arm, as he was running, before he was stopped: I stooped passing by the passage, and picked up my handkerchief; that was in the pursuit, scarcely stopping in my career: he was instantly stopped within a few yards of that passage: I saw my initials, and No. 14, on the handkerchief: the prisoner was taken to Bow-street.
Newcastle House  is a mansion in Lincoln's Inn Fields in central London, England. It was one of the two largest houses built in London's largest square. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1688.  In 1790, at the time of the crime, half the house was purchased by James Farrer ; the firm of solicitors Farrer & Co still occupy the building. (Newcastle House. (2013, April 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:10, August 17, 2013, from
Newcastle House in Lincolns' Inn Fields, London. John Bowles, 1754. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.  The building looks very similar today as can be seen from street view on Google maps.

From Google maps: the route can still be walked today.  In distance it equals 1/10th of a mile and would take 2 minutes to walk.

George Bowyer was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years transportation. He was transported with the third fleet setting sail in January 1791 sailing on the Albermarle. ( Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Third Fleet, 1791 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Home Office: Convict Transportation Registers; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO11); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.)

The Albermarle left Portsmouth on  27 March 1791 with 282 male convicts and six female convicts.  She was one of eleven ships in the convoy.  Not long after departure there was a mutiny, but it was foiled and the perpetrators executed.  In the mean time the ship fell behind the fleet.  The voyage lasted 200 days.  There were 32 deaths of male convicts on the voyage. (Convict Ship Albemarle 1791 from retrieved 17 August 2013).

It is not certain what became of George Bowyer.  I can find no further reference to him.  He may have been one of the 32 men who died on the voyage.  No lists of those men are available.

Transportation to Australia seems a very harsh punishment for the pickpocketing of a handkerchief, even a silk handkerchief.

Claude Champion Crespigny (1734-1818) was my fifth great uncle.  He lived at Lincolns inn Fields at the end of his life, and was Receiver of the Droits of Admiralty and Director of the South Sea Company.  He was the first Champion de Crespigny baronet, having been created baronet after entertaining the Prince of Wales, later George IV, at his house at Camberwell. At the time of the incident he would have been 55 years old.
Claude Champion Crespigny

Friday, 16 August 2013

Johnna Bell comrade of the late William Stanley Plowright

Family Notices. (1918, November 2). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 13. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from

This notice appeared in The Argus of 2 November 1918.  It was inserted by the mother of William Stanley Plowright who had been killed at action at Lagnicourt, France.

John Bell's family had inserted a notice on 30 October:
Family Notices. (1918, October 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from
The roll of honour circular completed by his family states he was 25 years old when he died (Born about 1893).  He had been born in St Kilda and gone to school at High Street, Prahran.  His occupation was labourer.

The Australian War Memorial has a picture they believe to be of John Bell:
Australian War Memorial ID number DA11506
Photographer Darge Photographic Company
Object type Black & white - Glass original half plate negative
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Broadmeadows
Date made c October 1915
Collection Photograph
Studio portrait possibly of 1357 Private (Pte) John Bell, labourer, of Prahran, Victoria. Pte Bell enlisted in the 29th Battalion on 23 July 1915 and embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Ascanius on 10 November 1915. The Battalion remained in the Suez Canal area training until 16 June 1916 when they embarked for France and the Western Front. Pte Bell was killed in action on 30 September 1918 near St Quentin in the Somme area, France, aged 25 years. This is one of a series of photographs taken by the Darge Photographic Company which had the concession to take photographs at the Broadmeadows and Seymour army camps during the First World War. In the 1930s, the Australian War Memorial purchased the original glass negatives from Algernon Darge, along with the photographers' notebooks. The notebooks contain brief details, usually a surname or unit name, for each negative.

John Bell signed up with the Australian Imperial Force on 23 July 1915 and joined 2 August.  He was aged 22 years one month, unmarried and a labourer.  He arrived in Egypt in December 1915 and at Marseille in June 1916.  His service seems entirely to have been with the 29th Battalion. (National Archives of Australia: B2455, Bell John : SERN 1357 : POB Melbourne VIC : POE Melbourne VIC : NOK F Bell George).

William Stanley Plowright had joined the AIF on 5 April 1915. He was aged 21 years 9 months, unmarried and a carrier or driver, who was training to be a printer.

William went to the Gallipoli peninsula from Alexandria on 30 August 1915.  While serving with the 24th Battalion, he was wounded at Anzac on 29 November 1915 and spent some months in hospital on Malta. He rejoined his unit in April 1916 and then later that month transferred to the 58th battalion.  He arrived in France on 29 June 1916.  He died 27 March 1917.

It seems that John Bell and William Plowright did not serve together.  They were the same age and presumably were friends from childhood.  Perhaps they met up while in Egypt and in France despite serving with different battalions.

John Plowright (1831 - 1910)

John Plowright was born 1831 in Kings Lynn, Norfolk to William Plowright (1791-1869) and Sarah Ann née Jackson (1796 - 1864). He was the fourth of eight children of the couple and in addition had an older half-brother from his father's first marriage.

He was three days old when christened at St Margaret's Church Kings Lynn on 29 November 1831 as the transcription of the parish register states he was born on 26 November.  His father was a mariner and the family was living at Austin Street, Lynn. (Transcription from retrieved 5 August 2013)

On the 1841 census John was aged 9 and living with father, half-brother and six siblings at Austin Street Kings Lynn in the Parish of St Margaret.  His father's occupation was labourer.  His half-brother William aged 20 was a plumber.( 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010. Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 786; Book: 5; Civil Parish: St Margaret; County: Norfolk; Enumeration District: 6; Folio: 9; Page: 15; Line: 11; GSU roll: 438868.)  None of the other children had an occupation stated.  John's mother was away from home, one of two female servants in the house of John Ayre a merchant living in Norfolk Street Kings Lynn with his wife. ( 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 786; Book: 5; Civil Parish: St Margaret; County: Norfolk; Enumeration District: 7; Folio: 20; Page: 2; Line: 7; GSU roll: 438868.)

Austin Street has changed significantly from the 1840s but remnants of an old wall are standing based on Google maps street view Norfolk Street was one block away from Austin Street (Google maps link ). More buildings from the 1840s would appear to survive although I have not identified Mr Ayre's house (Google street view link ).

In 1851 John Plowright was in London, a seaman boarding with a number of other young men also from Lynne in Shadwell in London.  He had signed on as a seaman with the rank of boy at the age of 17.
Merchant Navy Seamen 1835-1857: records of individual seamen that the central British government created to monitor a potential reserve of sailors for the Royal Navy.  Retrieved from
When he was admitted to Maryborough Hospital in 1873, John Plowright stated he had been in the colony for 20 years arriving on the Speculation.  His occupation was as mariner. The Maryborough hospital collected information on port of embarkation, name of ship, number of years in colonies. This information was collected apparently as part of a disease tracking program.

Shipping Intelligence from The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Thursday 22 September 1853, page 4 retrieved from

As there were no passengers I assume he came as crew.  There are no reports that I can find in the newspapers of crew desertion from the Speculation.

John Plowright married Margaret Smyth (1834-1897) on 19 November 1855 at his residence at Magpie near Ballarat.  Margaret had arrived on the Persian in April 1854.  She had been born in Bailieborough, County Cavan Ireland. Her father William Smyth was a farmer.  her mother was Mary née Cox.

There is a description of the Magpie diggings  from the perspective of James Davies born 1846 who arrived in Australia earlier in 1855 with his family and wrote about his experiences some time later:
Among the many fresh fields that were being opened about this time & they were numerous, was Magpie Gully about two miles south of Ballarat in the spring of 1855. This gutter, below its junction with the Chinaman’s Lead, proved to be the richest alluvial wash in Victoria, many of the claims washing up with an average of 8 to 10 oz to the tub. One claim that I knew went over a pound weight to the tub all through the claim. A town sprang up here in three or four days with a main street over a mile ling consisting of business places, hotels, theatres and restaurants, among the latter was one kept by the renowned John Ah Loo, whose table was appreciated by the diggers on many fields. The first hotel was opened by Teddy BRADSHAW, later a business man in Buninyong for many years, & partner at the crossing in the gully & did a roaring trade while the rush lasted. The theatre proprietors introduced an attraction in the shape of a tightrope walker named Madam De La Cass who used to walk a rope fastened at the height of 15 to 20 feet
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retrieved from Letter transcripts contributed by Jacqui Cunningham to the Ballarat and District Genealogy Society.
 John and Margaret had six children and also adopted one child:
  • William John born 1859 at Alma (four miles west of Maryborough)
  • James Henry born 1860 at Homebush (about 10 miles from Alma)
  • Ann Jane born 1862 at Four Mile Flat (Homebush)
  • Frederick Edward born 1865 at Avoca
  • Samuel Joseph Smyth born 1868 at Homebush
  • John Plowright born 1872 at Homebush and died the same year
  • Frederick Harold born 1881 was adopted. No birth record found. In the probate file of John Plowright he is described as adopted son and no blood relation.
In 1872 Margaret was admitted to Maryborough Hospital. John was admitted a year later in 1873 and again in 1884.

In 1878 tragedy struck the family when Frederick died while cutting down a tree.  He died on 24 April and a magisterial inquiry was held the day after.  The file of the inquiry contains statements from John and his daughter Ann Jane.
Statement by John Plowright to magisterial inquiry touching the death of Frederick Edward Plowright held at Avoca on 25 April 1878 from inquest file held by Public Record Office of Victoria VPRS 24 number 372 of 1878 (male).

Statement by Ann Jane Plowright on 25 April 1878 presented to the magisterial inquiry into her brother's death. Ann Jane was 15 years old. VPRS 24 1878/372 (male)
The death of Frederick was widely reported; mentions appeared in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, the Launceston Examiner as well as the Argus.

John's wife Margaret died of Brights Disease, dropsy and exhaustion in 1897.  She is buried in the Avoca cemetery.

Bereavement Card for Margaret Plowright.  The card was rescued by Lenore Frost and I found a mention of it on her site

In the last years of his life John continued to live at Lower Homebush and had a carrier business.

John died at Homebush Lower on 8 January 1910.  The cause of death was given as pneumonia syncope. Pneumonia is a "Lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection." Syncope is "Temporary loss of consciousness caused by a fall in blood pressure." He had been ill for six days and Dr Charles G Grimm had last seen him the same day he died.

The death certificate informant was John's son William John Plowright of 27 Hannover Street, Windsor.  He gave John's occupation as miner.  He stated that John's father was William, a tailor. He didn't know who John's mother was.  He knew John was born in Lynn, Norfolk, England and stated he had been 55 years in Victoria, that is arriving about 1855.

John was buried at Avoca cemetery on January 10th.  The undertaker was J. Classen.  The minister of religion was Reverend Tuckfield, a Methodist minister.  Coincidentally Tuckfield is related to another branch of the family tree.

John had made his last will in 1902.  He divided his estate into sixths.  Each child received a sixth except for Samuel Joseph Smyth Plowright who received two one sixth shares. His two oldest sons were appointed executors.  His estate did not have any real estate but personal effects amounted to £204 11 shillings one penny.  This was mainly in cash with the exception of furniture valued at £12.  Probate was granted 2 April 1910.   (Probate files held by Public Record Office of Victoria reference 114/702).