Jan 262013

While I am only a first generation Australian on my Dad’s side on my Mum’s side it does go further back.

I believe my first ancestor this side to come to, at that time, the colony of Queensland, to be Ann Fenny/Feeney aboard the Everton arriving in February 1863, however as yet I can’t prove this. It is not an uncommon name and she came in as a single girl which does make it harder.

So I am choosing my next date which is the 18 May 1863. This is the date of arrival of James Rollason and his family aboard the Light Brigade into the colony of Queensland. Also James’ brother Charles and his family.

These are not my earliest relatives in Australia as Henry Plumridge came to Victoria aboard the Osprey in 1848. However he is not a direct line ancestor but is instead my fourth great uncle so I don’t think he quite fits the challenge. Two of his brothers also emigrated to Victoria. His niece, Annie Busby who is a direct line ancestor of mine emigrated to Queensland in 1882 probably because that colony was looking for emigrants at that time and her husband being a stonemason was considered someone with a desired occupation.

Anyway back to the Rollason family.

You could say that the reason the Rollason’s emigrated was due to taxation.

The whole Rollason family had been involved with the silk weaving trade in Foleshill near Coventry. There had been a successful silk weaving industry around Coventry for many years primarily making ribbons for hats and dresses. French ribbons were considered the best ribbons but were taxed quite heavily with import tariffs. The poorer and even middle class could not afford French ribbons or even ribbons from London so there was a good market. Fashion of the time also had many ribbon decorations on the clothes.

Then came the Cobden treaty and free trade and suddenly there was no ribbon industry around Coventry as French ribbons flooded the market at a reduced price. many people needed parish relief. Times were very difficult as whole families were involved in the trade being paid for piece work.

—      This is also the time of the Lancashire cotton problems due mainly to the American Civil War and the blockade preventing cotton being exported from the South. This meant the cotton mills of Northern England were silent. This caused great hardship including starvation.
      Reports of the distress of the cotton operatives reached the colonies and people raised money to help relieve the distress. There are lists of subscribers in the newspapers. Queensland offered free passage and the money raised was used to fund the essential kit required for the passage (bedding, mess kit etc). 
       Now precisely how silk ribbon weavers from near Coventry came out under the Distressed Cotton Weavers Scheme is interesting. Perhaps they were  not able to find enough willing cotton weavers? Under the scheme people came from Scotland, Lancashire Coventry from what I have discovered so far.
If your ancestors emigrated on these voyages it is possible they came out under this scheme. As can be seen from the numbers, some voyages had mainly “Distressed Cotton Weavers” while others only had a few weavers mixed in with other immigrants.
My Rollasons came aboard the Light Brigade.

 I descend via Richard John Rollason. He married Lucy Evans and had a large family as can be seen in the below image. In a newspaper report in his 93rd year (he lived to be 101) he said coming to Queensland was definitely the best thing they could have done. And if they hadn’t come I wouldn’t be here!

Richard John Rollason and family about 1914?.

This picture was made to include the whole family even the two members who had died.

Jan 172013
Leslie Smith & David aged 3

The 2013 Australia Day Challenge  is to tell the story of your first ancestor to come to Australia.

I have chosen to do both the male and female sides which will be in two posts.

On my Father’s side I have a very short Australian pedigree.

David Smith came to Australia in 1949 with his mother Lilian Maud Smith aboard the Asturias.  The exact date and name of ship was discovered in two days searching at what was the New South Wales Archives office at the Rocks going through every microfilm passenger list for 1949 (and there were quite a few of them!) Then the trek out to Kingswood to get a copy of the card file with two photos.

They came as Ten Pound Poms!  

It was a major change of life for David. He had come from a time of rationing, to on board the ship, where he saw white bread for the first time AND he could have as many helpings as he wanted! It got tot he stage the waiters just gave him double helpings. He had very fond memories of that voyage!

David and Lilian were sponsored by Lilian’s brother-in-law Frank who had himself emigrated to Australia in 1934 aboard the Largs Bay.

I found Frank’s shipping details from FindMyPast passenger lists leaving England. Luckily Frank’s address in England prior to the voyage was listed so that I was able to determine this was in fact the correct Frank Smith which is not an uncommon name! These passenger lists leaving England are now also available on Ancestry.

Leslie, Lilian and David

By arriving in June 1949 they were not automatically made Australian citizens, you had to arrive in Australia prior to Australia Day 1949 for this to occur. David however believed that he was an Australian citizen, served in the Army and became a Justice of the Peace. It wasn’t until he applied for an Australian passport in 1990 that he found out he was not an Australian citizen. In reality this did not cause him any issues to that point and only caused a issue in the late 1990s when he was on an invalid pension and Centrelink said they were revoking his pension as he had a gap in electoral enrollment and thus was not eligible. This gap was found to be a mistake on their part.

I have written about David before and the work he and Lilian did to survive and their trip back to England in 1954.


Jan 162013

It is amazing at times what we have that we don’t realise we have in our possession.

Michael Courtenay emigrated from Monaghan Ireland in 1865 aboard the Samarang. He was a carpenter and went to the Ipswich area working with the railway gangs. He took out a  land selection in 1868 which he had to release in 1887 as had been ill and unable to complete the required improvements.

He ended up in Brisbane and died suddenly at home 10 March 1912. s shown in this entry in the Courier Mail 11 March 1912

He was buried 11 March after a post-mortem in Toowong Cemetery. His death certificate was quite informative and for a change the question about how long in Australia and where was well answered.

Michael Courtnay Death Certificate

It helps to have an informant that actually knows the deceased, in this case his son Edward.

Michael has applied for the Queensland Old Age Pension in 1909 (actually it was 1908, Thanks Judy for the correction. I should have checked and not relied on memory for that. Judy Webster has done an index to the Queensland Old Age Pension applications on her page) when it was  introduced and was refused as he was not old enough so we know he did not have a lot of money. 

I have done a number of walk-throughs of Toowong Cemetery looking for family headstones and was not surprised to not find one for Michael.

Imagine my surprise when I was going through an old book that I had inherited from my Grandmother in 2001 to find this photo!

Also listed on the headstone was Michael’s little granddaughter Winifred Agnes Courtenay who died in 1913. This is interesting as when you do a Brisbane City Council Grave search you find that Michael and his wife Ann are buried in portion 15 section 9 grave 22 and that Edward his wife Mary and little Winifred are buried in the next plot Portion 15 Section 9 grave 21. It always pays to do a burial search and look in the cemetery and undertaker records when available.

I don’t know how long the photo had been in the book but I am very happy to have found it!

Jan 102013
I am honoured to have received a nomination for this award from Shauna Hicks who is an eminent Australian genealogist, speaker, author. 

Shauna writes Diary of an Australian Genealogist as well as being active on Facebook and Twitter.  Shauna is also the Co-ordinator for National Family History Week, which is an initiative of AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations). There is a Facebook page for National Family History Week and input is welcomed.

I do thank Shauna for this Award but also feel a bit of a fraud as due to my Mother’s terminal illness this is my first post since September last year. However a new year is here and receiving this award has given me the boost I needed, so thank you Shauna!

There are a number of blogs I would like to nominate for this award,These are not the only blogs I read and many would be very worthy of nomination.:Some of which are so high profile that I believe everybody knows about them such as Thomas MacEntee, Randy Seaver etc.so i have decided not to nominate them.

Have a look at Geneabloggers which lists nearly 3000 genealogy blogs. You are able to do a search on type of blog here. You are also able to search for blogs of interest using Google.

So today I am nominating ones which have touched me this past year and have made me think:

Genealogists for Families: This is a very worthwhile project initiated by Judy Webster in memory of her father. Judy has given so much to the genealogy community over the years and if you have Queensland research you really MUST look at her website which has a huge amount of information that will be of help to you in your research. Judy also writes a number of other blogs giving tips on research and a great one on episodes in her Father’s life (more installments please).

Pauleen Cass Family History Across the Seas Always a good read but her Beyond the Internet series is a great educational resource for everyone. Pauleen writes a number of blogs so put some time aside to have some reading pleasure.

Alona Tester of Lonetester HQ did the very successful Family History through the Alphabet series as well as many other interesting posts. Alona has some lovely family memorabilia about which she has also posted. There are also quite a number of convicts in Alona’s tree (in fact too many! I think she could share one or two with other less fortunate souls who don’t have even one, don’t you?)

Elizabeth Shown Mills now has a blog Evidence Explained which has some fantastic Quick Lessons on citation. We all know we need to cite our sources but sometimes working out how to do so especially for the less usual sources can be problematic. Elizabeth shows us how!

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
5. If you choose, you can now join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars… For further information on collecting stars, just click on the link provided in Rule 3.
Jan 102013

Australia Day, 26th January is a day we celebrate what makes us Australian. 

Regardless of whether your ancestor came 40 000 years ago or yesterday and regardless of where they were from, together their descendants are Australian.

Your challenge (should you choose to accept it) is to tell the story of your first Australian ancestor.

To make it fair to both the male and female sides of your heritage why not make it two stories? One each on the earliest ancestor on each side?

I wonder from how many countries the stories will come?

Please comment below with the link to your blog and together we’ll  “Advance Australia Fair”