Family Names

Saturday, 29 April 2017

A to Z Challenge - Y is for Y chromosome

Snippets from the life of Martha Sarah Ellis.

Walter Todman & Martha Sarah Ellis were married on the 16 Jan 1892 - All Saints Church, Saint Kilda, Victoria, Australia; both were living in Hawthorn at the time of the nuptials.   But there are still so many things that we don’t know?

Photographer Unknown, untitled, Source: Free Photo Puzzle Mosaic Riddle Secret Mystery Mixture - Max Pixel collection. Accessed 29 April 2017,, CC0 Public Domain. Cropped.

Mystery 1

Where did the couple meet? 

The possible locations where they met:-

  1. Western Australia - where Martha was living and working in 1891. Walter could have been following the gold rush that occurred in WA around the 1890s.  Later after marrying Sarah in 1895, he did register a patent for an improved machine for saving gold, indicating that at some stage he had been involved in the search for gold.
  2. Sydney, New South Wales - where Walter was living and working in 1891/1891.  Martha’s brother had immigrated to Sydney on the SS Orient in 1887, perhaps she had left WA after her sister Kate got married and had gone to join her brother in Sydney and while there had met Walter.[i]
  3. Around Melbourne, possibly in Hawthorn where the couple got married. – both having migrated from the states where they had previously lived to Victoria, both in search of a better future.

Mystery 2

Did Walter have a child before he met Martha? And if Walter did have a son this would mean that she had a stepson, did she know?

We know that Walter was an inventor and tinkerer.  His first patent was registered in NSW listing his home address as 9 Bailey St, Newtown, in 1890.[ii]  In that same year, a baby was born at that address, with the name of Walter Todman[Walter2].  Walter2 was born 25 Oct 1890 in Newtown, New South Wales, Australia.  According to the birth certificate, his parents were Walter Todman, a blacksmith (aged 25 years) & Jane Levy (aged 31 years) of 9 Bailey Street, Sydney, the couple were unmarried.[iii]  The father’s address was also listed the in the local 1891 Sands Directories for Sydney.[iv] In 1891 the NSW Census, taken on 16th April 1891, 9 Bailey Street Newtown was uninhabited, indicating that both Walter and Jane had moved away, which is confirmed the following year [1892] as there is neither a Jane Levey nor a Walter Todman listed at that or any other address in Sydney.[v]

In 1892 we find that Walter Todman is getting married to a Martha Sarah Ellis in Victoria.
No further trace has yet been found of what happened to the baby Walter Todman or his mother Jane Levey.  In 1907 a Jane Todman shows up on Sand and MacDougal directory in Coburg, Victoria but only for a single year. This may only be a coincidence - but if this was Jane Levy, her son Walter would have been about to turn 18.

Did Martha ever meet Walter2 or Jane?  Did Walter ever reunite with his son?

Photographer Thierry Ehrmann, DDC6285, 3 January 2008, digital image, “Know your futur for only 999$ with DNA test” filkr Album, Accessed 29 April 2017  CC 4 

We may never know. The paper trail for both of the Walter Todmans parentage has not yet been confirmed.  Walter was certainly a mysterious man.

The first Y-DNA swab has been taken by a confirmed Todman descendant of Walter Todman & Martha Sarah Ellis in an effort to confirm the following theories:-
  1. Walter Todman was born James L.T. Willoughby on 1 Nov 1865 in Bermondsey, Surrey, England and christened on the 11 May 1870 in Greenwich, Kent, England [vi]
  2. That Walter born 25 Oct 1890 Newtown, in New South Wales, Australia is the son of the Walter Todman who married Martha Sarah Ellis.[vii] 

Now we are looking for male descendants of James L.T. Willoughby born in England and Walter Todman born 1890 in New South Wales, who would be willing to participate in our search for the story of behind both Walter Todman & his wife Martha Sarah Ellis.

And so the search continues ... so much more to learn ...

Partners and Children of Walter Todman

1. Jane Levey (Yet to be confirmed) This couple did not marry - Children:

  1. Walter Todman (Not yet confirmed) (1890- )
2. *Martha Sarah Ellis (31 Dec 1870 - 10 May 1950)
Marriage: 16 Jan 1892 - All Saints Church, Saint Kilda, Victoria, Australia
  1. Martha "Ruby" Todman (1894-1956)
  2. Ivy Florence Todman (1895-1953)
  3. Walter Victor Todman (1897-1964)
  4. Hazel May Todman (1903-1964)
  5. Lincoln James Todman (1906-1938)
  6. Charlotte Mary Todman (1908-1908)
  7. Alma Dudley Todman (1910-1970)

To Read more about Martha's life for articles previously posted for the A to Z Challenges click the Letters below:-

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 


[i] Passenger List for the Ship the Orient which sailed 23 June 1887
[ii] NAA: A4618, 2663
[iii] Birth Certificate for Walter Todman (New South Wales Registration # 26005 Year 1890). 
[iv] John Sands Ltd (Printers and Stationers), Sands Sydney, Suburban and Country Commercial Directory 1890 to 1899, 1891- part 3: 289; digital images, City of sydney accessed 10 Oct 2015
[v] John Sands Ltd (Printers and Stationers), Sands Sydney, Suburban and Country Commercial Directory 1890 to 1899, 1891- part 3: 289; digital images, City of sydney accessed 10 Oct 2015. 
[vi] England, birth certificate for James Lincoln Temple Willoughby, born 1 November 1865; citing 1d/74/275, 4th quarter 1865, Saint Mary Magdalan Bermondsey Surrey registration district, Saint James in the county of Surrey sub-district; General Register Office, Southport; Ancestry, "London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906," database and images, Ancestry ( : accessed 14 Jan 2017); Baptism of James Lincoln Temple Willoughby & Eliza Burdett Jane Willoughby, baptised  11 May 1870,  Greenwich, East Christ Church Register London page  66, entries numbers 527 & 528; citing Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906 and Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1906. London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[vii] Birth Certificate for Walter Todman (New South Wales Registration # 26005 Year 1890).  


  1. OHMIGOSH!! I love that Walter Todman Jr mystery! Thanks to modern genetic testing, I certainly hope you get to lay these mysteries to rest.

    --Her Grace, Heidi from Romance Spinners

    1. Not too sure about genetic testing, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. I really just love find the "facts" and constructing a story of possibilities. Thanks for dropping by Heidi.

  2. God luck with that. It seems a lot of people escaped the paper trail of births and deaths. I have a Willoughby in the family. She was born in Andover before she came to Australia.

    1. Escaped the paper trail but have left just enough clues to make us want to find more. Andover, interesting. I think my Walter/james came from Millwall but who knows

  3. I found a stepson of my great-grandmother mentioned in old census files. I have no idea who the man was who was his father. Mystery.

    1. A wonderful find, one day you might be able to find another clue. it's what we researcher's live for.
      Thanks for dropping by Denise.


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