Family Names

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.....


  1. It's always so exciting to make a breakthrough isn't it? I thought if they arrived in Qld they'd be on the new digitised shipping records for Qld archives so was going to send you a link. While there is a Kate and a Martha on that list, they're not together, not on the Nairnshire and not in 1889. So my link was going to be of no use to you. I wonder if there were two ships called Nairnshire (I usually search by ship rather than SS, just in case it brings up more options). Also if they landed in Fremantle, they should appear on the indexes in WA and Vic as well. I use the PROV unassisted pax and outward pax indexes to pick up some of my people of interest who went on to Qld, because it sometimes gives me different results. Shall leave you to have a play with that and see if it's helpful or not. I must admit I'm also a bit surprised by a ship going to Qld coming via Perth at that time, as my rellies who immigrated to Qld in the 1880s came down the coast of Qld...but that's probably not universal. Anyway sorry to be a busy-body: sometimes I suffer from pinball-itis too :-)

    1. They came into Freemantle my cousin found the reference to the Western Australian passenger list when she visiting up in Queensland and doing a spot of research in a library up there. (I can see that I'm going to have to practice more clarity when I write!) I've never used the WA indexes so it's something that I need to look into, and I also need find out if I can get a copy of the original records and I'm sure if they have been involved in an immigration scheme there should be some records relating to that if there hasn't been a fire etc.
      I don't consider you a busy body it's nice to share with someone who's interested if I wanted it to be a secret I wouldn't have made the post - it seems very indulgent to talk to some I haven't meant about something that I'm so passionate about - thanks for making that possible!!!

  2. How exciting. You now have a clue and who knows where it will take you.

    1. Thanks Sharon, I've contacted the WA state records for advice on where to go next, I might be able to make an update post in a few months time - ashame that WA is so far away.....


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