Family Names

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

February Photo Collage Festival

Photo Collage for John Ebbott
Here is my offering for the February Photo Collage Festival.  I am doing my Family History Writing challenge on John Ebbott so the photos fit nicely in with that theme.  Stay tune as I work my way through the collage and hopefully reveal some of the secrets locked in the images.  Lets hope I can keep up the pace.

Staying fresh with old data

On the 23 January 2013 I wrote a post entitled “Crunching the Numbers in preparation for Australia Day”, it helped me to observe very familiar data in a very different way, leading to the possible discovery of the arrival of one my ancestors into Australia, someone who had eluded me for a long time.    I thought I might run a series based on “crunching numbers” from my database to get a bird’s eye view and consequently a new perspective on my ancestors, hopefully leading to different avenues of research and understanding.

My plan – as grand as it is – is to represent the data graphically perhaps using graphics such as graphs or picture grams.   

Just as I was going to post this I received news from Julie at  Angler’s Rest Cassmob at  Family history across the seas about a new February Photo Collage Festival  looks like I’m not the only one working with graphics. 

So now I'm off to create my collage.

Meanwhile here is my first graphic in my series called “Crunching the Numbers” a picture gram based on places were my ancestors were born and died, the larger the type the greater the number of ancestors that were there.

Created using Wordle at 
As you can see there is a strong influence from both England and in particular Cornwall and Australia.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

2013 Australia Day Challenge - Finding Martha Sarah Ellis

Today I was going to join Helen’s  2013 Australia Day Challenge  and tell the story of my first Australian ancestor - Thomas Crump who arrived in Australia in Botany Bay in 1842 on the "Marquis of Hasting”. But true to Myrt’s wise description of the pinball approach to genealogical research I soon ricocheted off into a different direction. 

The only thing that I can say in my defence is that since diverging I managed to pull my self back on tract albeit it a different track!! So I am still joining the Challenge but instead of discussing my first arrival I have to talk about my most recent find, and just so you know I'm trying to remain calm and focused now that I've found myself in new territory.

So you ask what’s all the fuss about? It’s about my great grandmother Martha Sarah Ellis, born in 1870 in Camberwell, England, I think I may be on the way to locating her arriving into Australia, today I think I may have made a break though, how appropriate given that it’s Australia day.

Recently I had lunch with my 3rd cousin, Yvonne, she had a found reference while doing research in Queensland to both Martha and her sister Kate Ellen Ellis coming out to Australia. She had told me ages ago but I had never been able to duplicate the research so I hadn’t taken much notice but over lunch she showed a scanned copy of her source the indexed cards that she was using as the basis of her assertion. OK I know it’s not the original shipping records but it’s a little more solid than a vague rumour.

That gave me an idea perhaps I should search the newspapers not for Martha Sarah Ellis but for reports on the ship coming to Australia, perhaps there was something in the newspaper that would help unravel the mystery. To see what I found on TROVE and now I've made a list of the 14 newspaper articles called is  S.S. Nairnshire 1889 after the name of the ship.

1889 'Advertising.', The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), 16 September, p. 2, viewed 26 January, 2013, 
From what I can gather there was, on this particular voyage 48 unnamed servant girls on board under the watchful eye of Miss. Monk. The newspaper don’t reveal the girls names or if they were assisted passengers but there are indications that they may have been sponsored by the government as I found an advertisement in the newspaper asking for application for people wanting the services of these immigrants. I know the evidence isn't yet definitive but it’s given direction for the next steps, So now let me see…. I now need to ……  but then that would be the subject of a different post.....

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Crunching the Numbers in preparation for Australia Day

After reading two interesting blog posts by Sharon that were written almost a 4 months  apart the first in October 2012 entitled  - Individual arrivals in Australia and the second just a week ago called Family statistics it got me to thinking.  What does the “big picture” view of my ancestors look like, I think of myself as Australian but how deep does that really run, for how many generations?

So I decided to crunch the numbers and see what they looked like.


After some analysis I can say that my grandparents on both side of the family were born in Australia, and that the bulk of my family has been in Australia for more than 3 generations.

I have lived in Victoria for most of my life with a short stint in Queensland and New South Wales as a child, however I have always assumed that my grandparents and their ancestors had always lived in Victoria.  It’s interesting ponder why I would assume that my relatives were more or less static particularly when they had come an enormous distance to get to Australia. 

So what was their point of arrival?

As you can see above for those individuals that I have managed to pin point coming into Australia, only half came to Victoria initially, maybe they eventually came following work or seeking gold.  They had all arrived in Australia by the 1895, one coming as early as 1816.  It makes you wonder why they chose to come into certain ports, particularly if they turned up in Victoria within in 6 to 12 months later. Was it cheaper to go another state first, or was it the advertising that they say back in the home country,  or was it easier to get tickets to other ports, or were there already  relatives  waiting for them in those places?  Hmmm, lots of unresolved possibilities.
Looks like I need to revisit the data....but where to start?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tombstone Tuesday – John Williamson & Louisa Walker

Figure 1. Sandra Williamson, Headstone of John & Louisa Williamson, St Kilda General Cemetery, 2006, digital image.
Transcription of headstone
Louisa / In memory of / her beloved husband / John Williamson / Born 23rd January 1832 / Died 7th June 1872

Interred in this site plot #832:-
John Williamson Buried on the 09/06/1874 at the age of 42, he died of Chronic disease of liver & kidneys
Louisa Williamson Buried on the 07/09/1901 at the age of 72
Lydia Williamson buried on the 20/06/1887 at the age of 21 years, daughter of  John and Louisa Williamson.
Lydia McFarlane, buried on the 15/05/1889 at the age of 7 months old, daughter of Miriam Williamson and James McFarlane and granddaughter to John and Louisa Williamson.
Interred the next site plot#830:-
(no headstone)
Aaron Williamson buried on the 22/11/1891 son of John and Louisa Williamson; he died of Phthsis asthma, which he had for 13 months. (Death Certificate Aaron Williamson, 20 November 1891, Reference #15639, Registry of Birth, Death and Marriages, Victoria, Australia)

Newspaper Announcements
The Argus 9 June 1874, also repeated on the  15 June 1874
Anon, 'Deaths', The Argus, 7 June 1874, p.1.
Anon, 'Funeral Notices', The Argus, 9 June 1874, p.8. 

Note:- I have not been able to locate notices for the other people in this grave plot.

Edit History

Originally posted on the 22 January 2013
Updated and revised on 3 December 2016


Anon, 'Deaths', The Argus, 7 June 1874, p.1. [Retrieved 3 December 2016,; Anon, 'Deaths', The Argus, 157 June 1874, p.1. [Retrieved 3 December 2016,]

Anon, 'Funeral Notices', The Argus, 9 June 1874, p.8. [Retrieved 3 December 2016,]


Figure 1. Sandra Williamson, Headstone of John & Louisa Williamson, St Kilda General Cemetery, 2006, digital image, personal collection

Monday, 21 January 2013

Converting research into stories is it possible?

Last year I created one of my first “lists” on the State Library of Victoria TROVE  website entitled Ebbott, John (Junior) bornCornwall, son of John Ebbott & Sarah Bone it now contains 250 items arising from Australian newspapers and other resources that I have linked in.

© 2013 Pixabay - Public Domain Images
I have discovered all sorts of unknown things about my 3x great grandfather that I didn't know; cleared up old mysteries and discovered some new ones.  It has been a very rewarding process, I am very fortunate to have so much information but it has also been overwhelming.

So now I have decided that using the resources that I have drawn together in my TROVE list. I am going to join “The 2013 Family History Writing Challenge” which begins on the 1 February 2013 and runs for 28 days.

My chosen narrative will be to write in blog form, and the focus will be John Ebbott and his family, as a blog is “means of sharing their stories with the world but also for seeking out distant cousins” according to 3rd Annual Family History Writing Challenge  newsletter I received yesterday.   

I invite anyone who is interested to come and watch my progress at my blog The Life Of John Ebbott and to check out the associated list at My Trove List for John Ebbott  or if you feel so included join me in the challenge at The Family History Writing Challenge  but don't visit me at in the blogosphere cheer me along and let me know how I'm going - during the month of February 2013 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sorting Saturday – sorting current photos

In an era where we are inundated which digital images from the present and the recent past it is difficult to work out what to keep, what to organise and how to organise it.

We are the keepers of the present for the future.

So  I thought I’d share something that I did for grandmother when she was alive and that I now for my mother in law at the moment and once I get that up to date I hope to do one for my own 78 year old mother.
I create descendant scrapbooks/picture books as gifts for special occasions, for the elders in  my family.   

These books are not fancy they are pictures mounted on plain card using family photos, (I found  our elders do not like photos on angles or too many embellishments as it makes the pages too busy and distracting, although patterned paper is find)

I made my first one for my grandmother for her 90th birthday .  I worked my way through each of her descendants stepping down through each generation.  I included wedding photos of every marriage (it gave me an excuse to get the photos, and organise those that I already had) and I used copies of invitations that I had and for those that I didn’t I asked people to send me copies.  I also including the wedding notices that I kept over the years.

Then I grouped photos of all the families, where there were gaps I requested them from the families (this took quite a bit of time to organise, but they didn’t have to be formal photos, and there had to be one of the current year and then as many as they had of their children together in a photograph over the years). 

The overall layout of the Album
I did the gift recipients wedding first and then her family following the same pattern as outlined below.
When I was laying out each family I would do the following pages:-
  1. Wedding page or commitment page if there was no wedding for the couple
  2. A page to show the descendants of the wedded coupled in a 2 or 3 generation descendant tree (so not very big) then I would only include a few who family photos (must include parents and offspring) on that page 
  3. Then one or two following pages photos (that would have the title weeding couple 1 and the kids) which included all the couple’s children in a photograph from when they were born until the present day.   The trick was to get current photos of the that year (in this case 2007)
  4. These families were then arranged in the album according to the mains person descendant tree which was at the front of the album, with each of her children’s family line photos being mounted on different coloured paper stock to try and give the album some sort of coherency.

The overall album was set out as follows
Section 1
Introducing the main ancestor
Introducing Mr & Mrs “main couple”
Then the family of Mr & Mrs “main couple”
Then a page of shared memories things/events that I knew Mr & Mrs “main couple” thought were important and where there were lots of family in the photos, but not too many you can always do a live story album at another time.

Section 2
The next generation down (and I moved sequentially through her children’s children(grandchildren)) using the same format

Section 3
The beginnings of the 4th generation

The back section
I list all the current postal addresses of all the descendants, and I also list everyone birthdays organised by calendar month, with a notation on how these descendants are related to the gift recipient. 

In Summary

These albums are simple and valued by the gift recipients as memory keepers and brag books to show friends.  
At family functions they come out and the children search through them pointing out their own images and looking at their aunts, uncles and parents weddings.
At funerals they become talking points and people flick through them and share memories with each other and talk with fondness of times past.
And yes it is the same album that was given initially updated every  five years.  And yes I have scanned the images , and the resulting pages, so if someone does spill cake or coffee on the original it doesn’t matter I’ll print out a copy.
What’s important is that it’s being used and history has being both created and shared and the muddle mess that I used to have I can now share or give to others.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Tombstone Tuesday – John Williamson & Margaret Jacka

Kalbar Cemetery, Kalbar, Queensland, Australia
Transcription of Headstone
Across the top - Williamson / Left hand side - John Palmer / Born York / Western Australia / 28-4-1892 / Died 30-6-1982 / Right hand side - Margaret Edith / Born - Castlemaine / Victoria / 28-11-1899 / Died 28-6-1984 / Across the bottom - Loved parents of John, Margaret and Dorothy

Interred in this site 
John Aaron Palmer Williamson
Margareth "Rita" Edith Williamson

Newspaper Announcements
The Sydney Morning Herald p. 16, 2 July 1982

WILLIAMSON, John Palmer - June 30, 1982 at Boonah Hospital, Queensland, formerly of Kalbar, Queensland, and Wyoming Road Gosford, Loved husband of Rita, father of John, Margaret Hamilton and Dorothy Normoyle.
Funderal Directors, Boonah.

The Sydney Morning Herald p. 19, 29 June 1984

WILLIAMSON, Margaret Edith - June 28 1984 of Boonah Queensland formerly of Gosford and Northbridge NSW widow of John Palmer Williamson loved mother of John, Margaret and Dorothy
Somerville Bros Boonah

Note:- Margaret Edith Williamson was born Margaret Edith Jacka and was commonly known as Rita.  According to the Victoria Federation Index 1889 - 1901 (Produced by Macbeth Geneological Services P/L, Coherent Software Australia Pty Ltd) she was born in Brunswick not Castlemaine, which is where her father was born, Chewton his birthplace is near Castlemaine.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The scandal of it all!!

For a long time I had assumed that Hezekiah had only married one wife whose name was Mary, the second marriage certainly wasn't mentioned on his death certificate which was filled out by his daughter, Rebecca, so one would have assumed that she would have known about her step mother – am I detecting some disapproval for his second marriage here?

The death certificate for Hezekiah’s first wife is filled out by a friend, which is consistent with Hezekiah not being able to write.  It is interesting to note that the certifying doctor for Mary (first wife) has the same surname as the woman that Hezekiah eventually marries.  Was there a connection between the doctor and the second wife – it boggles the mind but would perhaps explain why Rebecca didn't acknowledge the second marriage on her father’s death certificate.

Three years almost to the day Hezekiah remarries another Mary.  This marriage happens in a private residence, none of the family were witnesses …. Interesting.

In the intervening period between the marriage and his second wife dying it appears that Hezekiah's daughter Rebecca moves away so when the second wife dies it is his grandson not his daughter or son-in-law who helps fill out the paperwork.  It would also seem that Hezekiah moves to live with his daughter in Clifton Hill before he dies.

It looks like I will be hitting the electoral rolls to find out where everyone was during these years perhaps Mary Malcolm is living with her son the doctor (?) in main street Chewton in 1876/1877.  I haven’t managed to find any in the newspapers at TROVE either, any mention of any of these events.

If only the walls could talk..........

Source Documents

Death Certificate Mary Bennetts
Transcription of Marriage certificate (#2051 yr 1878)
When and where died – 15th August 1875, Mont Street, Borough Chewton, County Talbot
Name & Profession – Mary Bennetts
Sex & Age – Female, 70 years
Cause – Old age, worn out, not known for how long, last seen by Dr. J.B.Malcolm on 5th August 1878
Parents – Thomas Nance Farmer, Rebecca Nance M.N not known
Informant – Philip Hitting, Friend, Chewton
Signature of registrar, date & where registered – James R Nicks, 15 August 1878,Chewton
Burial –18th August 1879, Chewton Cemetery, K.  Dennis
Name of minister & witnesses – J. Carey, Wesleyan Minister, Joshua Jacka, R. Pollard
Where and how long in the colonies – Perranzubla, Cornwall, England, 22 years in Victoria
Married where, at what age and to whom  - Perranzubla, Cornwall, England, age not known, Hezekiah Bennetts.
Children names in order of birth & age – Mary Jane died,  ?? 36, Mary Jane died, Rebecca 29, Mary Ann 26

Marriage Certificate of Hezekiah Bennetts & Mary Bullus
Transcription of Marriage certificate (#4877, 1878)
Schedule D
1878 Marriages solemnized in the District of Castlemaine in the Colony of Victoria
When and where married – The fourteenth day of November 1878, St Simple home, 6 Bant St, Chewton
Groom – Hezekial Bennetts, widower 16th August 1818 Children 2 living, 4 dead Birthplace  Perron, Cornwall, England, Profession Quartz miner, age 60, residence Mount Street, Chewton, Parents Philip Bennetts, farmer  and Nancy Bennetts maiden name unknown
Bride – Mary Malcolm Bullus, widow 21st May 1814 Children 4 living, 2 dead, birthplace ??, ???, Scotland, Rank – Lady, age 66, Residence Main Street, Chewton, Parents David Malcolm, profession ??  Mary Malcolm, maiden name unknown.
I George Hollinghorn, being a Congregational minister do hereby certify, that I have this day, at the Bridegroom’s house, Mount Street, Chewton duly celebrated the marriage between Hezekiah Bennetts Quartz miner of Chewton and Mary Malcolm Bulls of Chewton after Notice and Declaration duly made and published, as by law required.  Dated the fourteenth day of November 1878. 
Marriage by License, was solemnized between us according to the Rites of the Congregational Church Hezekiah Bennetts X his mark, Mary Malcolm Bullus X her mark. Witnesses George Denin’s, ?? Hocking.
Death Certificate Mary Bennetts (second wife)
Transcription of death certificate (#1082 yr 1895)
When and where died – March 22nd 1895, Shields Street, Borough of Chewton, county Talbot
Name & Profession Mary Bennetts, Domestic
Sex & Age – Female, 87 years
Cause –  Old Age Debility for Years, Dr Wolley last seen 12 January 1895
Parents – particulars unknown
Informant -  Edwin Knight Jacka, stepgrandson, Chewton
Signature of registrar, date & where registered – Eliza Johnson, March 28th 1895, Chewton, Victoria
Burial – March 24th 1895, Chewton Cemetery, Undertaker Thomas Odyess
Name of minister & witnesses - Thomas Odyess, Weslyan, John Lamb, Henry Dyers
Where and how long in the colonies – Paisley, Scotland, 40yrs in Victoria
Married where, at what age and to whom  - Chewton, Victoria, aged 72 to Hezekiah Bennetts
Children names in order of birth & age - Nil
Death Certificate Hezekiah Bennetts
Transcription of death certificate (#1198, yr1900)
Deaths in the District of Clifton Hill in the Colony of Victoria
When and where died - 26 January 1900, Parslow Street, Clifton Hill, City of Collingwood, County of Bourke
Name & Profession - Hezekiah Bennetts, miner
Sex & Age - Male 82 years
Cause – Arthemia(?) 3 months, Dr. F. Laylar Downie last seen 18 January 1900
Parents - William Bennetts, Miner & Nancy Unknown
Informant - Rebecca Jacka, Daughter, 4 Parslow St, Clifton Hill
Signature of registrar, date & where registered - Mary Brookes, 27 January 1900, clifton Hill
Burial - 28 January 1900, Melbourne Cemetery, Undertaker - ?. Fergurson
Name of minister & witnesses -Gill. G,G.A.G. Clowes, James Arehitala
Where and how long in the colonies - Cornwall, England about 45 years Victoria
Married where, at what age and to whom  - Cornwall, England, about 21 years, Mary Nance
Children names in order of birth & age - Mary Jane - dead; Mary dead, Rebecca 50 Mary ann dead

Comparing Marriage Banns and records for the same couple.

In the past when accessing original parish records was a lot more difficult I would settle for the marriage entry as proof of the event, not bothering to locate the banns considering them of little real value.  A flawed strategy I know but one dictated by lack of time and money.  These reasons however are no longer valid now that the Cornish Parish records are freely available online; I am now revisiting my previous research.  I didn't really expect to find any further information however to my surprise I have found precious titbits that I had previous missed. Looking at both the banns and marriage record has given me further clues for my ongoing research that I didn't expect. 
Below are the results of investigating 2 marriages for Mary Nance. I have also included the links so that if you can see the original parish entries.

I originally believed my 3 x grandmother Mary Nance was born in Perrazabuloe however after visiting the banns it looks like she has come from the adjacent parish of Kenwyn, Cornwall. As a result of comparing both the banns and marriage entries,  I have now concluded that Mary Nance aka George was not born in Perranzabuloe because in the marriage banns of her marriage to Hezekiah Bennetts she  is identified as a sojourner

A sojourner “means someone who is a temporary resident, but in Parish Registers its meaning is a little more precise. When the Hardwicke Act was introduced in 1754, clerks were required to enter the parish for each party to a marriage. If they had been resident for more than 3 weeks then they were shown as “o.t.p.” (of this parish). However, for someone who had only taken up residence in lodgings to avoid the necessity for banns fees, this was frowned upon and the word “sojourner” was added to the entry to indicate that they had met the letter of the law but didn't really belong.”( Found in the Glossary of the website belonging to West Penwith Resources at
In contrast in both the banns and marriage of her first marriage to Henry George she is identified as “being of this parish” which is Kenwyn, Cornwall.  So now I have both her father’s name “Thomas Nance” and her possible place of birth Kenwyn, Cornwall, and she was born in 1802.  Stay tuned for further developments.

Links to original parish entries

(FamilySearch. England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010, Marriage Banns from Peranzabuloe parish records Marriage banns, 1823-1844 page 180 for Hezekiah Bennetts & Mary Nance (image 93))
I PUBLISH the banns of Marriage between Hezekiah Benne(unable to read in the crease of the page, so I am assuming when I cross reference the entry on the CORNWALL ONLINE PARISH CLERKS (Genealogy) website that is the entry for Hezekiah Bennetts) of this parish Bachelor and Mary George Sojourner in the Parish Widow.If any of you know cause of just impediment why these two Persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it.This is the first time of asking --- Dated 10th day of March 182This is the second time of asking --- Dated the 17th day of March 1839This is the third time of asking --- Dated 24th day of March 182
(FamilySearch. England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010, Marriage Entry for Hezekiah Bennetts & Mary Nance Page 24. (Image 26))
1839.  Marriage Solemnized in the Church in the Parish of Perranaluloe in the County of Cornwall.No. 47When Married March 28Name and Surname Hezekiah Bennetts, age 21, Condition Bachelor, Rank or Profession Miner, Residence at the time of the marriage Chiverton, Father's Name and Surname Philip Bennetts, Rank or Profession of Father HusbandmanName and Surname Mary George, age 26, Condition  Widow, Rank or Profession Husbandman   Residence at the time of the marriage  ????, Father's Name and Surname Thomas Nance, Rank or Profession of Father
Married in the Church of Perran according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church after Banns by me.  George Bellamy.This marriage was solemnized between us Hezekiah Bennetts sign Mary George's sign in the Presence of us, Edward Searle Symons, & Francis Veall
(FamilySearch. England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010, Marriage Banns Kenwyn parish records Marriage banns 1836-1844, Page 36 (Image 21))
I PUBLISH the Banns of Marriage between Henry George and Mary Nance both of this Parish.If any of you know cause or just impediment why these two persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it.This is the first time of asking dated 4th day of Dec 1836This is the second time of asking - Dated the 11the day of Dec 1836This is the third time of asking - Dated the 18 day of Dec 1836
(FamilySearch. England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010, Marriage entry from from Kenwyn parish records Marriages, 1829-1841 page Page 194 (image 100) for Henry George & Mary Nance. )
MARRIAGES solemnized in the Parish of Kenwyn in the County of Cornwall in the Year 1836Henry George of this Parish and Mary Nance of this Parish were married in this Church by Banns this nineteenth Day of December in the Year One Thousand Eight Hundred and thirty six
By me George CornishThis Marriage was solemnized between us X Henry George mark Mary Nance markIn the Presence of X Richard George's Mark  X Margaret Con?? Mark

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The finding the parents of Martha Carbis

On Martha Carbis’ death certificate it states that her father’s name was Richard Carbis and her Mother was Ann unknown.  Her father was a Mariner according to the death certificate.
However we couldn't find a Richard Carbis as a father of a Martha Carbis who would fit the profile we needed.  As death certificates are not reliable source of information we looked further afield to the Marriage entry in the parish register for John Bassett and Martha Carbis of Paul. 
 Transcription of wedding banns“The Banns of Marriage between John Bassett and Martha Carbis were duly published without denial.  John Bassett Sojouner of this Parish and Martha Carbis of this Parish were   Married in this Church by George  ??this 15th Day of March in the Year One Thousand eight Hundred and twelve by me Warrick (maybe Warwick) (unable to decipher) George - Curate (unable to decipher). This marriage was solemnized between Us {the mark XXX of John Bassett, the mark XXX of Martha Carbis. In the presence of Daniel Drew and R. Pentreach”

The witness on those Banns was a Daniel Drew caught our interest.  On investigation a Carbis family whose mother’s maiden name was Drew was located.  The husband of this Ann Drew was a William Carbis.
The fact that the death certificate stated the father’s name to be Richard was not discounted until we came across certain evidence[1] as to why Martha would change her father’s first name came to light.
We have now accepted that Martha’s parents were William Carbis and Ann Drew of Paul Parish, Cornwall.

[1] Convict in nature

Two John Bassetts – Barking up the wrong tree

On John Bassett’s death certificate (died in Eaglehawk) in 1868 at the age of 80 and the parents given on his death certificate were William Bassett and Mary Unknown.  

Therefore it was deducted that he must have been born in circa 1788.  Research turned up a John Bassett christened 27 March 1788, St Izzey, Cornwall his parents were William Bassett and Mary Symons.  At this point we felt very excited that we had found our John.  However, after further research a descendant was found in Roma, Queensland who refuted our claim of kinship – in the nicest way possible. 
The following information was forwarded for us to digest:-
John Bassett [son of William Bassett (1761-1831) & Mary Symons (1767-1832)]Christened  27 Mar 1788 in St Izzy, Cornwall who died 7th Oct 1851 in Fairwater House, Taunton Somerset.  John was a lunatic confined to Fairwater House Lunaic Asylum for many years admitted July 1828 having previously been a patient at a similar establishment near Tauton, Fivehead House since 25 Oct 1822.  This was a wholesale move and transfer of licence from the one to the other asylum by the same surgeon/owner.  Private patient.  Cause of death peritonitis and effusion in the chest (Somerset RO 1/5/87)
 And so it was back to the drawing board.

Eventually the issue was solved slowly by comparing signatures in the parish marriage registers. It was a long process but now we think that our John Bassett is the son of William Bassett & Jane Mathews. 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Inside the “Lower Westcott” homestead

We were thrilled to be invited inside the homestead as the owners showed us their renovations.
Lower Westcott is part of the British Listed Buildings, and is identified as  “Westcott Farmhouse on South Side of Settlement at Westcott,  Tremaine”  (English Heritage Building ID: 1105875)   this list includes buildings that have been identified as having of special architectural and historic interest, so as you can see it’s not just me who is interested!

The owners have spent considerable time and money renovating the buildings and property, even so it is still a home and as such incorporates creature comforts such as an inside toilet, electricity and a modern kitchen but none of which has been done at the expense of the original style of the building.
Our main interest was the areas of the house that reflected the original style of the building, remnants of which could be most readily seen in the kitchen and the upstairs sleeping areas.

The Kitchen

The kitchen it almost divided into the modern area which is blended into the “older” kitchen.  The current stove is set in the alcove of the old kitchen fireplace.  To one side of the alcove you can see the old bread oven, which is identified by its original door covering.  
Bread Oven door - close up
When they were renovating they found the oven door strewn on the ground outside amongst the debris in the backyard  and didn't know what it was and were about to dispose of it until someone identified its original purpose, and as a consequence it was not longer classified as rubbished.  The bread oven door has now been reinstated into its rightful place put back in the kitchen where it belongs.


The stairs leading to the top floor are narrow and steep, with the cobb walls seemingly to bow in slightly.  The walls are very thick and solid and we mused about what could be hidden in them.  The bedrooms were simple affairs which fitted not much more than a double bed and a small wardrobe but what caught my eye the most were the old exposed beams which were still holding up the ceiling,

Close up ceiling beams in the bedrooms

The exposed beams were not covered over during the renovations.  The picture on the right hand side shows the older beam in amongst the relatively newer beams, although most of them are quite old.
We finished up our visit by having splits (translated into Australian means scones) and boiled fruit cake and tea with milk serve in cup and saucers not in mugs as we serve it back at home in my house hold, my grandmother would have approved with this touch of servility. 

Further information for those interested can be found at:-
Listing for Lower Westcott Cottages - List entry Number: 1105875
Details of the house and property on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

A closer look at Westcott

While visiting Westcott (see previous post for more details) we were shown an aerial photo that had been taken years before the current owners took possession, many of these buildings no longer exist.

Note the main house has no small portico over the front door as it does now.  The house and the "renovated shed" which was more like a garage had traditional English cob walls.
English cob is not something that I'd ever seen in Australia, it is made by mixing the clay-based subsoil with sand, straw and water. The earthen mixture is then ladled onto a stone foundation in courses and trodden down into the wall by workers in a process known as cobbing. I understand the construction progresses according to the time required for the prior course to dry. After drying, the walls would be trimmed and the next course built, with lintels for later openings such as doors and windows being placed as the wall takes shape.  The type of building has a long life span even in rainy climates, provided a tall foundation and large roof overhang are present.
Sandra being showed the newly renovated cobb wall of the shed
The top part of the cob wall which stands on a brick section of wall is covered on one side with weather boards for protection from the weather.
The exterior of the main house at Lower Westcott
Although it is hard to appreciate from the photos the walls are very thick (about 24”), so the small window is correspondingly deep-set giving a sunk back appearance.  Cob walls form great insulation from the changing outside temperature
As you can probably tell I really enjoyed hearing and seeing all this detail, it's amazing to think that I was walking on ground that both my fifth grandfather as a farmer and his wife plus my fourth great father as a child would have walked.
In my next post I will show you what I saw on the inside of the house, particularly the things that point back to the past!!  If only the walls could talk!

In search the Ebbott family Ancestral Home

There are two quite substantial houses on what was once the Westcott property.  Tim owns the small farm next to both of the houses which are now owned under separate titles.  Tim explained that of the two houses that could be my ancestors’ potential home that he felt that the “Lower Westcott” was probably the one most likely to be the Ebbott residence. Upper Westcott is lot newer in building style.

Driving into the settlement you pass the original farming land of Westcott now owned by Tim Hopper, the next structure on the right is unknown but next to it is Upper Westcott and then further on and at the end of the road on the left had side is Lower Wescott, which is now owned by Tom and Gloria Gunn and no longer part of the surrounding farming land.   

There are two quite substantial houses on what was once the Westcott property.  Tim owns the small farm next to both of the houses which are now owned under separate titles.  Tim explained that of the two houses that could be my ancestors’ potential home that he felt that the “Lower Westcott” was probably the one most likely to be the Ebbott residence.   

In my next post we’ll look at the outside of the Lower Westcott, which has been lovingly restored by its current owners who were only to pleased to show us around.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Back to be beginning (of my research)

Inadvertently I began my genealogical journey in the mid eighties. My grandmother Myrtle Sharp was born on the 2nd June 1906, in country Victoria to a mining family in Eaglehawk.[i] Her home in Mulgrave in the 80s was not far from where I was doing my Applied Science degree.  Studying allowed me to visit her during the day between classes.
Figure 1 Unknown Photographer, Portrait Myrtle May Sharp, c.1980
She told earnestly during one of these visits that she would be dying soon. After all at the age of 70, she was very “old”. I realized that her old tin full of photographs which had no labels or names on them would become pictures of mostly unknown people when she passed away. With a sense of urgency I began to visit her once a week helping to sort and label her photos.

Figure 2 Sandra Williamson, Myrtle's Photo Tin, 2016, digital image.
Each time I visited Myrtle we would work a little more on our project.  I began by laying the photos out on the lounge room floor in what I guessed were chronological rows. She would sit in her large recliner chair and oversee my efforts and answer questions.  Repeatedly I asked: who is this?, where’s that? Did this happen before or after that? The photos were then re-organized, according to her responses and labels added once they were sorted.
One day when we were been working together she brought out a new tin that I had not seen before.  It contained more photos and other papers. We began the same process of sorting through them, adding where appropriate to the photos already sorted. Suddenly she leapt out of her chair clutching a folded and very yellowed piece of paper to her chest, and disappeared into the next room. I was flummoxed and no idea what was going on. I followed her into the next room where she refused to show me the piece of paper; she tucked it into her pocket and came back out to begin working once again on her photos. I was intrigued by her actions but decided to respect her wish for privacy and focused on other things.

After several weeks I summoned up enough courage to ask her what was on the paper. She tilted her head sideways and peered at me and finally said that blood was thicker than water. That we don’t speak to people outside the family about our personal business.  The story about my family had begun, I had inadvertently uncovered my first family skeleton.

Figure 3 Photographer unknown, Myrtle, William, & Doris Bassett , circa 1909, Cabinet Card
It must have once been in a frame but only my grandmother knew who the people were in the photo.  You can imagine the delight I felt when I found this little gem!!  The photo must have been taken in 1909 after her brother William had been born, when the family were living in Tasmania. Perhaps it had been taken to send back to the grandparents who were still living in Eaglehawk, Victoria.

Figure 4 A Google Map of Dundas, Tasmania to Eaglehawk, Victoria
Grandma celebrated her 100th birthday on 2nd June 2007, with almost all of her descendants celebrating with her.
Figure 5 Glen Watson, Myrtle at her 100th Birthday Party, 2007, digital image
She passed away on 19 June 2008. Her photos leave a wonderful legacy for future generations.


Image 1 Unknown Photographer, Portrait Myrtle May Sharp, c.1980
Figure 2 Sandra Williamson, Myrtle's Photo Tin, 2016, digital image.
Figure 3 Photographer unknown, Myrtle, William, & Dorris Bassett , circa 1909, Cabinet Card
Figure 5 Glen Watson, Myrtle at her 100th Birthday Party, 2007, digital image


[i] Victorian Birth Certificate, District of  Eaglehawk, 1907/10223, Myrtle May MANDERSON

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Originally posted on the 3rd January 2013
Updated and revised on 15th August 2016