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.

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