Monday, 23 May 2016

Poor little chap

So far in my family history research I have not used DNA testing. Document-based methods give me more than enough to go on with.

However, today I decided to order DNA kits to learn about DNA methods.  There are three brick walls in my husband's family tree that perhaps DNA might get me past:
  • Henry Sullivan (1862-1943), a great grandfather of my husband, was admitted as a state ward in Geelong in 1866 about the age of four. His parents had deserted him.
  • George Young (1826-1890), from Liverpool, a great great grandfather of my husband,  provided no information about his parents.
  • Caroline Clarke (1835-1879), wife of George Young and a great great grandmother of my husband,  was not specific about her birth and I have been unable to trace her parents, perhaps John Clark(e) and Hannah Sline. She said she was born about 1835  in Tumut. But she also said she was born in Sydney.  I've got nowhere with this.
Having ordered the kits I thought I might look again at these brick walls. More newspapers and other records have been digitised since I last looked. I thought there might be more material.

I didn't get any further with the Young and Clark puzzles. However, I think I have made some progress with Henry Sullivan. The story I have found seems plausible, and more information may turn up, but a DNA link would be very useful to confirm my guesses.

Henry Sullivan at his house, "Navillus", in Bentleigh, Victoria with his wife Anne Sullivan née Morley (1861-1946) and daughter-in-law Florence Sullivan née Hickson (1898-1983) and grandaughter Elaine Sullivan later Priest (1933-1987). Photo from Elaine's daughter.
 Henry Sullivan (1862 - 1943) was a neglected child and was committed as a State Ward in Geelong on 11 June 1866 for seven years. He was said to be a native of Victoria. He was a neglected child. At the time of his committal, both his parents were said to be living but he had been deserted. His parents' names were not given on the Ward Register. He had lost the sight of his right eye. Family stories say he was struck by a magpie. We have not been able to find a birth certificate.

Sullivan Henry VPRS 4527 OS 1 no 1768.
VPRS 4527 Ward Registers [1864 – c.1890] are records of children in State care. Records held by the Public Records Office Victoria.(click on image to enlarge it)
In 1873, when the first seven year committal period expired, Henry, aged 11, was recommitted. At the time of his recommittal it was again stated that both parents were living and that they had deserted him in June 1866.

Sullivan Henry VPRS 4527 OS 8 no 7003

I had earlier looked, without success, for records of court cases in Geelong in June 1866 to find reports of Henry Sullivan being committed as a State Ward.

Today I reviewed newspaper reports from May 1866.

I found a report on 28 May 1866 of a Mary Sullivan appearing before the Central Police Court in Geelong on Friday 25 May accused of stealing. (CENTRAL POLICE COURT. (1866, May 28). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1926), p. 3. Retrieved from )

Mary Sullivan was unmarried. She had three children of her own and one left in her care to support. The magistrate took into consideration 'the position of the unfortunate children', and Mary was given a mitigated sentence of 14 days imprisonment.  An old woman told the court that she lived in the same house as Mary Sullivan and was left in charge of the children and the 'little one' who had been abandoned by another woman named Sullivan.  The newspaper stated that 'The decrepit and indiscreet creature walked off with the child clinging to her.'

I think that small child was Henry Sullivan.  Fourteen days after Mary's appearance in court on 25 May was about the 8th of June. I suspect that when Mary Sullivan was released from gaol she decided she could not cope with an extra child not her own.

On the 15th May 1866 there had been another report of a child and a young woman called Sullivan.
The attention of the Bench was again called, yesterday, to the case of the young child left in the care of a woman named Sullivan, who now seeks to shift the responsibility she undertook to Mr Hughes, the stepfather of the mother. Mr Hughes appeared in the Court and refused the charge of the child, who, he said, had been placed collusively by the mother with the woman, with a foregone intent to abandon it. He had undertaken the care and education of an elder child to save his step daughter from shame; but her subsequent career had been of a nature to preclude any further favourable consideration of her conduct. She had been twice married, and her husband had left her, and was supposed to have gone to New Zealand, whence no tidings were heard of him, and she had recently left Geelong with some man with whom she had formed an intimacy, and had deserted her children, leaving the one in question with the woman Sullivan, who had been pre paid for its keep for a fortnight, at the end of which time it was planned that the child should be left with the stepfather, a scheme that was defeated by Constable Collins, who saw the woman depositing the child at the stepfather's premises, and warned her of the consequences of the act. The Bench refused the application of the woman Sullivan, who avows that she will not keep the child any longer.  A warrant will be issued for the apprehension of the mother, who, it will be remembered, was the parent of the infant upon, whom an inquest was held at Ashby some time ago. (CURRENT TOPICS. (1866, May 15). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1926), , p. 2. Retrieved from )

I think in the court case this child is the 'little one' and the woman Sullivan is the Mary Sullivan who, less than two weeks later, was found guilty of stealing. There were two clues to follow up. The step-father of the mother was surnamed Hughes and the mother of the child was the parent of the infant upon whom an inquest was held at Ashby some time previously.

I had some trouble finding the inquest. I dashed down to the library to look at the index of inquests. The surname Sullivan produced nothing likely and inquests held at Ashby also didn't seem to produce anything. I returned to searching the newspapers.  Deaths of infants and consequent inquests were unfortunately quite common.

I found an inquest in November 1865 where the grandmother was Mrs Hughes.  I believe this is the inquest to which the Geelong Advertiser of 15 May 1866 referrs.

Margaret Maria Sullivan aged six months starved to death. She was in the care of her grandmother Matilda Priscilla Hughes, the wife of David Hughes. The parents were William Sullivan and Matilda Frances Sullivan.  The Geelong Advertiser of 23 November 1865 reported the surnames as Sutherland but the Mount Alexander Mail of 24 November 1865 gave the surname as Sullivan. The birth and death indexes confirm that the surname was indeed Sullivan.

In her evidence Matilda Frances Sullivan stated
The mother of the child, Matilda Frances Sullivan, who was in service twelve miles from town at the time, was examined, and admitted having had an illegitimate child before marriage, three years ago. Her husband left her six months after marriage, and she had had another child beside the deceased since then. She swore that her husband visited her twice during that period at her mother's house, and that deceased was his child. She paid to have her first child taken care of in the country ; the other two she left with her mother. (CHILD KILLING. (1865, November 24). Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 - 1917),p. 3. Retrieved from )
 The Geelong Advertiser reported the mother's evidence:
Matilda Frances Sutherland, wife of William Sutherland, sworn - I do not know what my husband is. The deceased child is mine. I was married on the 6th October, I think, as near as I can remember, 1862, by the Rev Mr Appleby, at Herne Hill. I cannot tell when my husband left me. I have seen him twice since he went away first. The first time he left was about six month after the marriage. Do not know when I saw him again, or how long we lived together. I do not know how long he was with me on either occasion. On my oath, the child is my husband's. The child is not a love child. I do not know the reason why my husband left me six months ago. I had a child before I was married. He knew before marriage that I had the child. I have two children beside the child. The one born before marriage is four years old. When my husband came back is more than I can tell you. I saw him only on two occasions. My first child was born in July 1862. I have not seen my husband during this year 1865. Saw him last year on the two occasions I allude to. The deceased child was born on June 12th, and is six months old. Made no effort to find my husband I suppose he knows that the child is born. I can't as I do not know where he is, nor anybody that does. He has given me no support whilst he has been away, and I get my living by going out to service. My mother supports one child and I the other, for which I pay L1 a month. Gave nothing toward the support of the deceased child. (CURRENT TOPICS. (1866, May 15). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1926), p. 2. Retrieved  from )
The grandmother's evidence was also detailed in the Geelong Advertiser:
Matilda Priscilla Hughes, wife of David Hughes - I took the deceased child when she was born, in Autumn street, on the 12th June. 'My daughter has three children, one at nurse in the country, for which she pays 5s a week, and the other I keep as well as the deceased child. The elder boy is five years old. The second one is going in two years and the third is six months old. It was delicate from birth, and was fed from the bottle with farinaceous food. I waited on you (the coroner) on Thursday, and said I came to show you the baby. You told me I ought to get a wet-nurse. I did not say to you "I want you to see the child in case any thing should happen afterwards." On Monday I sent the undertaker for a certificate from you of the death of the child. I don't know the father of the child. My daughter's husband has not been seen by either of us for some months before the birth of the boy who is three years old. ... (Geelong Advertiser 15 May 1866 p. 3)
The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against the grandmother, and also against the mother as an accessory to the child's death.

The Victorian birth, marriage and death indexes confirm the evidence given at the inquest.
  • birth Eleazar Hughes, no father, mother Matilda Hughes. Registration 1861 / 8434 born CHERHAP (this is probably Gheringhap, a Geelong street name but also a village at the junction of the Geelong-Ballarat (1858-62) and Geelong-Maroona (1913) (to Ararat) railways. There were large numbers of navvies and associated construction workers in the area during both those periods.).
  • marriage 1862 William Hughes and Matilda Frances Hughes. Registration 1862 / 4376.
  • birth Ebenezer Henry Sullivan, father William, mother Matilda (Hughes) Registration 1863 / 14440 born GHER (again probably Gheringhap )
  • birth Margaret Maria Sullivan, father William, mother Matilda (Hughes). Registration 1865 / 8809 born ASHB, probably Ashby, a locality in Geelong West.
  • death Margaret Maria Sullivan, father William, mother Matilda Frances (Hughes). Registration 1865 / 8836. Place of death ASHB.
There seems to be no other record of Ebenezer Henry Sullivan in the Victorian Birth, Death and Marriage indexes..

Eleazar / Eleazer Hughes married in 1881, had children and died in 1949. There are a number of family trees on which include him.

I believe, based on the coincidence of the court reports and the committal of the small child as a State Ward in 1866, that my husband's great grandfather Henry Sullivan, was Ebenezer Henry Sullivan, the son of William Sullivan and Matilda Frances Hughes.

Should any descendants of Eleazer, Henry's half-brother, be willing to help, DNA testing might be able to confirm this.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

2016 A to Z wrap up


This is my third year participating in the A to Z blogging challenge.  Looking back to my 2014 wrap up post, my experience in 2016 was much the same.

I found the A to Z challenge busy - it consumed much of my time through April even though I had planned out what I would write about beforehand and drafted some posts.  I found during the month I changed my mind on some topics and, despite preparation, was writing each day.

I enjoyed the challenge of finding 26 new aspects of family history to research and write about.

I enjoyed other AtoZ blogging participants posts and discovered some new fellow family history bloggers. It would be great if we could have a category that identified us on the sign-up list.

Sepia Saturday 329: shepherding near Murrumburrah, New South Wales

This week's Sepia Saturday image is of a shepherd, photographed by Joseph Gale in the 1890s. The title of the photograph, Ninety and Nine, refers to the Parable of the Lost Sheep told in both Luke 15: 3-7 and Matthew 18:12-14. In the parable a shepherd leaves his flock of ninety-nine sheep to search for one that is lost.

John Way (1835-1911), my husband's great great grandfather worked as a shepherd in New South Wales in the 1860s.

We know from the birth and death certificates of his children what jobs John Way had.

In 1859 when his daughter Mary Jane died in the Melbourne inner city suburb of Collingwood,  John was a labourer.

In 1865 when his daughter Elizabeth was born at Brittons Dam Station, Kitticara near Murrumburrah, John was a shepherd.

I have been unable to find a birth certificate for the birth in 1863 of Sarah Jane Way. All other documentation states she was born at Barbara / Bobbarah Creek near Murrumburrah. I suspect that John would have been working as a shepherd then too.

Bobbarah Creek is probably close to Binalong.  There is a Mount Bobbara just under 7km from Binalong.

Mt Bobbara near Binalong July 2007
the road near Mt Bobbara July 2007

In 1868 when his daughter Emily was born in Grenfell, New South Wales, John was working as a sawyer.

It seems that for some years between 1859 and 1868 John Way worked as a shepherd on properties near Murrumburrah, New South Wales. At 560 km north-east of Melbourne, it was a long way from Collingwood.

Perhaps John and Sarah Way answered an advertisement like this one, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in September 1859 seeking a married couple, Scotch or English, to shepherd two flocks.

In the early 1860s there were few fences, and men were employed as shepherds. Fencing became more widespread during the decade, and by the mid-1880s, over ninety-five per cent of sheep in New South Wales were in fenced paddocks. The use of wire fences was spreading rapidly, and the cost of fences was falling.

A shepherd's hut in South Australia

Sweet, Samuel White (1869). Shepherds hut.Retrieved from Trove

"Shepherding" in Australia. Wood engraving published in The Australian news for home readers 25 May 1864. Image from the State Library of Victoria.

Gill, Samuel Thomas & Hamel & Ferguson (1864). Homeward bound. Printed in colors by Hamel & Ferguson, Melbourne. Retrieved from the National Library of Australia.

Further reading

Related post

Sunday, 1 May 2016

lifespans of 2nd great grandparents

This week genealogy blogger Randy Seaver has invited followers to look at the lifespans of their second great grandparents.

The mission:
1)  We each have 16 great-great grandparents.  How did their birth and death years vary?  How long were their lifespans?  

2)  For this week, please list your 16 great-great grandparents, their birth year, their death year, and their lifespan in years.  

I maintain an ancestor table spreadsheet using the Ahnentafel numbering system of my own and my husband's forebears.  Sometimes it is very easy to get distracted by the breadth of the family tree. It is useful to look back at the main trunk.

Mine and my husband's great great grandparents are the 3*great grandparents of my children.  They are numbered 32 to 63 on the table

Name Ahnentafel number age at death lived
George Edward Young 32 64 1826-1890
Caroline Clarke 33 44 1835-1879
John Way 34 76 1835-1911
Sarah Daw 35 58 1837-1895
James Cross 36 54 1828-1882
Ellen Murray 37 64 1837-1901
John Plowright 38 79 1831-1910
Margaret Smyth 39 63 1834-1897
Sullivan 40 I do not know anything about the parents of Henry Sullivan
? 41
John Morley 42 65 1823-1888
Eliza Sinden 43 85 1823-1908
Isaac Dawson 44 42 1831-1872
Eliza Skerrit 45 65 1834-1899
Francis Gilbart Edwards 46 65 1848-1913
Caroline Ralph 47 46 1850-1896
Philip Champion de Crespigny 48 77 1850-1927
Annie Frances Chauncy 49 25 1857-1883
Edward Walter Hughes 50 68 1854-1922
Jeanie Hawkins 51 79 1862-1941
James Francis Cudmore 52 75 1837-1912
Margaret Budge 53 67 1845-1912
Wentworth Cavenagh 54 72 1822-1895
Ellen Jane Mainwaring 55 75 1845-1920
August Bolz 56 76 1840-1916
Wilhelmine Bamberg 57 82 1844-1926
Karl Bertz 58 78 1854-1932
Henrietta Ritter 59 80 1862-1942
Mathias Manogg 60 74 1851-1925
Agathe Maria Lang 61 74 1852-1926
Gustav [Alfons] Waldemar Karl Peters 62 44 1860-1904
Agnes Helene Louise Stern 63 57 1861-1918

The average lifespan is 65.8. The median, middle of the range,  is 67 to 68. The average lifespan for men was 67.3 (median 68)  and for women was 64.3 (median 64).

My great great grandmother Annie Frances Champion de Crespigny née Chauncy (1857-1883) died at the age of 25 of pelvic cellulitis after a 3week illness.

Greg's great great grandmother Eliza Morley née Sinden (1823-1908) was 85 when she died of asthenia (weakness) and cancer of the pharynx after an illness of 10 week.

This generation was born between 1822 and 1862. The most recent death of this generation of our family was 1942: my great great grandmother Henrietta Bertz née  Ritter (1862-1942).

My mother with her great grandmother Henrietta Bertz née  Ritter Easter 1941