Sunday, January 13, 2019

52 Ancestors - Unusual Name

In this week's post, we have been asked to look behind an "unusual name" and I've chosen my great-aunt's husband, Frederick Nay, because it's not a name you hear every day and it is a great example of the challenges of searching for your family, because it turns out that names can change (quite a lot!).


Fred was born in Warialda, in north-west NSW in 1902. He is the father of my Aunty Yvonne, who is actually my 1st cousin, once-removed. 

Fred's father was George Nay, who was born in Mudgee in 1849.

George and Mary Ann Nay
George Nay and his wife, Mary Ann Peglar

George's father was Robert Nay, who was born in Shoreditch, England in 1817. In 1832 at the age of 15, he was convicted of larceny and sentenced to 7 years and sent to Australia on the convict ship Waterloo in 1833.

Mary Fleming & Robert Nay
Robert Nay and his wife, Mary Fleming

Robert's father was James Nay, who was also born in Shoreditch, England in 1789. His father was Francis Nay, born in 1756, also in Shoreditch. 

The only thing I know about Shoreditch is that it is included in the English nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons", which refers to the bells of several churches close to the City of London:

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells at Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells at Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell at Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead

Ah, they don't make 'em like they used to!

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, Francis Nay's father was Lewis Nay, born in London in 1733. But it turns out he was actually Louis Nez when he was born and by the time he married, he changed his name to the anglicised version. 

His father was Jacques Nez or Neé, born in the Spitalfields area of London in the early 1700s. His father was Jean de Neu, also born in the Spitalfields area in 1652.

We then have a series of Jacques de Neu's - born in London in 1627 and 1597. Jacques de Neu was born in Warneton (or Waasten) in Belgium, but got married in the French Church in Canterbury, Kent, England.

His father was Phillipe De Noeud, from Brevillers, in France, born about 1530. I scored this tidbit of information from another Ancestry researcher:

The family appears to have dispersed in France and the Low Countries prior to their arrival in England - one son was recorded as being from Flanders, and another from Orleans. Two sons and one grandson are known to have been weavers, a common occupation for the Protestant immigrants, so it is likely that Philippe was a weaver as well. His wife (her first name was not recorded) died in Canterbury in 1590. He remarried twice, in 1592 and 1597 - both wives were from the Low Countries. Philippe was described as 'vieul homme' (old man) when he died in 1605. 

They ended up in the Spitalfields region of Canterbury:

The Huguenot settlement in Canterbury in Kent, South England, started when the authorities considered the community in Sandwich, Kent, to have grown too large. 100 families were accepted in 1575. Its numbers continued to swell in the years following the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in France and the second revolt in the Netherlands, and it came to represent the largest foreign population outside London.

The welcome extended to Huguenot refugees in part reflected the perceived benefit to the English economy, particularly the potential for developing the textile industry. Using the textile processing and weaving techniques learnt on the continent, New Draperies were established in textile towns such as Canterbury. They produced lighter fabrics, made from a mix of fibres, suitable for export to Europe, rather than making traditional woollen fabrics. The benefits led the Privy Council to protect Huguenot weavers in Canterbury when they were attacked by locals. Many successful Spitalfields weavers established the viability of their businesses in Canterbury. As Spitalfields weaving flourished in the 18th century, the Canterbury industry went into decline, ceasing entirely in 1837 as a result of mechanisation.

So while, the Nays (Nez, Nee, de Neu, De Noeud) are not my blood relation, I think it is really interesting to see how names change over time; anglicised, morphed, aduterated! And I learnt another little piece of history from tracking down a branch of my family tree - I really do find it fascinating to think that here we are in Australia, but we've come from convicts and then silk weavers from France. The world is an amazing place.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

52 Ancestors - First

FIRST - a new year and another attempt at recording some of my family history via the 52 Ancestors prompts!

This week, the prompt is "First" and I'm delving deeper into my first Ancestor to arrive in Australia - Samuel Freeman. He was my 4th Greatfather and his offspring eventually led to my maternal Grandmother and my Dad.

I think he was born about 1799 in Hertfordshire, England, but I have no definitive records of that (more research to do - Freeman is a very common name!).

At age 21, he was working as a millwright (a high-precision craftsman or tradesman who installs, dismantles, repairs, reassembles and moves machinery in corn mills). At about 5pm on 10 October 1799, he was caught stealing out of the chamber room of Thomas Bigg of Kimpton Mill. He stole a "scarlet printed Kersymere waistcoat (worth 10 shillings) and one pair of dark-coloured breeches (worth 15 shillings). He also stole from the sleeping room of Joseph Bigg one Bank of England note of 20 pounds and 40 and one-half guineas.

He was found not guilty of breaking and entering, but was nevertheless sentenced to death by hanging at Hertfordshire on 3 March 1800 (Public Records Office Chancery Lane, London; ref; ASSI 35/240). The sentence was commuted to life.

He travelled to Australia as a convict on the Earl Cornwallis in August1800 with 296 convicts (average sentence - 8 years; 77 convicts with life sentences). He arrived at the colony of New South Wales on 12 June 1801.

He would have arrived into Sydney Cove (the picture below shows Sydney in 1802). There were government buildings and convict huts located at what is now known as "The Rocks", but there were no prisoner barracks - the sea and bush were considered adequate prison walls.

According to the Sydney Living Museum, the convict's days would have looked something like this:

"At sunrise each day the men went out to begin work at 7am in their government gangs, working outdoors or in lumberyard workshops or serving private masters. At 8am, they took a break and continued their work from 9am, cutting trees, sawing timber, pulling carts, splitting shingles, making bricks, tools and nails, making wheels, doors, windows and furniture, making rope, forging tools and leg-irons, tailoring and shoemaking, quarrying sandstone and building."

In the convict muster of 1806, Samuel Freeman was listed as working for the Government at Castle Hill:

At some stage, he ended up at Windsor, the Hawkesbury Valley. In September 1809, he was discharged from the Hawkesbury Stores:

On 28 February 1811, he was given permission to marry convict Elizabeth Smith, who had come out on the Canada in 1810, aged about 18 and who had been in the colony for about six months.

They were married on 4 March 1811, at St Mathews Church in Windsor.

They had their first child, William, in 1812, followed by John in either 1813 or 1815.

In 1813, after Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson had found a route across the Blue Mountains, which was surveyed by George Evans. William Cox had volunteered to construct a road along that route and on 14 July 1814, Cox received a letter from Governer Macquarie, accepting his offer to superintend the making of the road from a ford on the Nepean River, near Emu Plains to a centrical part of Bathurst Plains. He was given 30 labourers and a guard of eight soldiers. The 30 men included 13 convicts who were "skilled artisans" and Samuel Freeman is listed as a "rough carpenter". The men were selected as being accustomed to field labour and supposed to be best calculated to undergo the fatigue of hard work and sleeping on the ground.

As rough carpenter, Freeman would have been responsible for the team that built dozens of bridges in the 6 months covering the 160 miles.

Work was begun on 18 July 1814 and it was finished on 14 January 1815 (27 weeks). Cox kept a diary and Samuel Freeman was referred in it several times, mostly because he was sick! The conditions sounded really tough:

August 2.
The workmen go on with much cheerfulness and do their work well. Gave them a quantity of cabbage as a present.

September 8.
Men at work as yesterday. The wind has been very high and cold from the west since Sunday last, and last night it blew a perfect hurricane. Saw a few flying showers yesterday, but we got scarcely any rain, and it appears the wind will carry it away. The country about here very barren. No kangaroos to be seen. Shot one pheasant, with tail complete; shot two others without tail, It appears to be too early in the season for them, as their tails are just shooting, and others not at full length. Scarcely any small birds to be seen.

September 25 (Sunday).
Went up the mountain; examined it, and fixed on the way to make a winding road up. This is the highest mountain on the whole range we cross. From it Windsor houses, etc., are distinctly visible, as are the wheatfields, farmhouses, etc. There is a river running to the east about a mile south of this, the banks of which are so high and steep it is not possible to get down. This river empties itself into the Nepean about four miles higher up than Emu Plains.

October 24.
Set all hands to work road-making, including blacksmith, carpenter, stonemasons, etc;, being extremely anxious to get forward and ascertain if we can descend the mountain to the south before we get to the end of the ridge. Tuesday and Wednesday the men continued the same work, and getting on extremely well. Wrote to the Governor for a further supply of gunpowder, to enable us to blow up the rocks in our way; as also rope and blocks, to expedite us in building bridge and getting off the mountain.

November 8.
Employed the same hands in the same manner. Light rain as before. The men very wet and uncomfortable, their clothes and bedding being also wet.

November 11.
Rain commenced before daylight, and continued the whole day. Wind S. and very cold. Sent T. Raddock to Windsor, being very ill. S. Freeman, the carpenter, laid up with a cold and swollen face.

14 November 1814 - Sick list: S. Freeman, cold and swelled face; 
The extreme wet weather we had for a fortnight before we arrived here has given most of the men colds, but as they are now dry lodged, and, in addition to their large ration, have fresh kangaroo at least three times a week, it is to be hoped they will soon recover. So many men sick, and chiefly very useful ones, breaks in on our working party much, and the continuous rain also prevents so much work being done as I could wish.

December 28.
Cloudy, unsettled morning; Wind east-south-east, and cold. Sent two soldiers to mark some trees across the river on a ridge to the west that I saw yesterday. The two carpenters came forward this morning, having finished the last bridge on the road from the mountain to this place (10 in number). Lewis reports the men getting on well at the road, but that they will not complete it to this place before Saturday.

The diary abruptly ends on 7 January 1815, but work was completed a week later on 14 January. In April, Governor Macquarie drove his carriage on the road from Sydney to Bathurst. 

All the men who worked on the road were given pardons. Samuel Freeman was emancipated with a convict pardon on 5 June 1815. Listing his height as 5 foot 7 inches, his complexion as fair and ruddy, light brown hair, hazel eyes and "good looking"!

On 15 July 1815 at Eastern Creek stockyards, he was given 15 head of horned cattle for his work on the mountain road.

The 1822 Convict Muster listed him as a landowner at Richmond and the 1825 Muster as having 5 acres there. In the 1826 Census, he was listed as being aged 42 with a Conditional Pardon and working as a millright.

By the 1828 Census, Elizabeth has left him and was living with a William Wilmott at Concord with William 17, John 15, Sophia 8, Elizabeth 5 and Sarah 2. John 13, Emmanuel (George) 12 (my 3rd Great Grandfather), Samuel 10 and James 8 were listed as staying with Samuel.

In 1841, he is listed as living at the Parish of St Mathews, County Cumberland, which is Richmond.

Samuel Freeman lived an amazing life. He died on 18 August 1855, as noted by his memorial at Round Swamp Cemetery on the Mudgee Road near Capertee, next to his son Samuel. The Round Swamp property was initially owned by John Freeman, who was a farmer and son of Samuel. While Samuel isn't buried in the Round Swamp Cemetery, his son John erected a memorial to him. It is not known where he died as there is no record of his death.

Samuel Freeman is also remembered in the street name Freeman Road in Agnes Banks, where he worked as a millwright.

Family legend has it that Freeman's Reach, near Wiseman's Ferry on the Hawkesbury River was also named after our Freemans, but alas, this turns out to be false:

I have to say, I didn't expect to find this much detail on my "First" ancestor! I just had a browse through my direct ancestors and found which one came to Australia first. I'm so glad I'm able to uncover a relative who was so important to Australia's history!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

52 Ancestors - So Far Away

This week's #52ancestorsin52weeks is Father's Day - but of course, it's not Father's Day in Australia, so I'm going to do the theme we had a couple of weeks ago when I was away - So Far Away.

When you first start doing your family tree, it's exciting to see how "far back" you can go with your branches. Until last weekend, the furthest back on my direct line was Benjamin Broome, my 9th great-grandfather born in 1646 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England (grandfather of John Broom in my carpet story), which I thought was a long way back!

Last weekend, I was searching back to see if I could see a link between the Freemans on my Dad's side and the Freemans on my Mum's side (spoiler alert - not yet). Anyway, I was having a search on Joseph Freeman (my 5th great-grandfather born in Gloucestershire, England in 1765) and his wife - Sarah Arkell (my 5th great-grandmother also from Gloucestershire, England, born in 1767). Well, I had her father John Arkell (born 1730 in Gloucestershire, England) and then I found his father Henry Arkell (born 1682, also in Gloucestershire) and his father Thomas Arkell (born 1639, also in Gloucestershire) and we are back to my 8th great-grandfather and the early 1600s!

Screenshot of the pedigree from Mary Ann Pegler (my maternal great, great grandmother) to Thomas Arkell

Well, things were starting to get a bit boring with all this Gloucestershire business, when up pops his father, Thomas Walraven van Arkel Heukelom - who was born in 1613 in Ammerzoden, Gelderland in the Netherlands! He must have migrated at some stage because he married Mary Willets in (you guessed it) Gloucestershire in 1638. I wonder what made him move?

Those Netherlands people keep good records because this opened up a HUGE branch of the family tree and links us back to medieval nobility because it turns out the van Arkels were a medieval noble family from Holland! Was I excited? You bet I was! I can trace the van Arkel paternal line back to good old Herbaren van Arkel II born around 1200, somewhere in the Netherlands. He is my 20th great-grandfather!

This post could get bigger than Ben Hur (and possibly I am related to him too), but it gets too confusing and too hard to keep track of everyone. So I'm just going to run through the most exciting branch (and there are lots more posts with other branches just waiting for their story to be told too).

Thomas Arkell through to Otto van Arkel Heukelom IV
I kept going back along the branches, amazed there was so much information going so far back. 

Johan van Arkel Heer van Heukelom en Lienden III through to Floris van Lynden II

My good friend Google informs me that the van Lynden's were nobility too, one of the oldest Dutch noble families!

As an aside, if you can see Lady Agnes van Herlaer in the diagram above (my 18th great-grandmother), she is also Princess Diana's 18th GG, Winston Churchill's 18th GG and some other royals who aren't as famous 18th and 19th GG!!! Me and Diana - blood relatives!

Anyway, I kept going, tracing, finding lots of coats of arms and counts and countesses...

Floris van Lynden II through to Thierry de Montbelliard von Pfirt Graf in Althkirch II
...and going, where lo and behold old paintings of Dukes start popping up and we start to get a French and German flavour happening:

Thierry II through to Kunigunde de Francs de l'Ouest

Kunigunde de Francs de l'Ouest (Cunigunda of France) was born in Aachen, Germany in 886. Her mother was Ermentrude of France was born in about 870. Her father was Louis the Stammerer, King of Aquitaine and later West Francia, born 1 November 846.

Louis the Stammerer

His father was Charles the Bald, King of West Francia, King of Italy AND Holy Roman Emperor, born 13 June 823. Guess I'm a good Catholic after all.

Charles the Bald

His father was Louis the Pious (also known as Louis the Fair and Louis the Debonair), King of Francs and also co-Emperor, born in 778. Debonair. Of course he was.

Louis the Pious

And for today, we come to the end of this line - he was the only surviving adult son of Karel I de Grote der Franken - otherwise known as Charles I or Charles the Great or simply Charlemagne, born 2 April 742. He was King of Franks, King of Lombards, and Holy Roman Emperor. He united much of western and central Europe in the early Middle Ages and was also known as the "Father of Europe". He is my 35th great-grandfather!


I know we can go back at least another generation, but for now, I am happy to be related to this famous figure of history and to be back to 742 AD and 35 generations! That is So Far Away, I think!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

52 Ancestors - Going to the Chapel

This week's theme for #52ancestorsin52weeks is Going to the Chapel. Behind every good wedding is (should be?) a good love story. This week we are are close to home in terms of ancestors, but the Chapel certainly wasn't...

...Once upon a time, there was a young woman called Heather Hardwick. She was working at King George V Memorial Hospital at Camperdown, in Sydney, as medical record librarian. Mutual friends from the hospital invited Heather out of drink in a pub down at Circular Quay. It was here that she met Ted. They went out for a couple of dates, but it wasn't Ted that would walk her down the aisle!

A 21-year-old Heather

Ted was friends with Laurie Butler (or "Butts", as we know him). The boys were very excited because "Stiffy" was coming home on leave from New Guinea. Now I have it on good authority that Terry Sedgwick gained the name Stiffy at school from Butts because of his propensity for drawing skeletons. If you thought any different, get your mind out of the gutter!

Terry, Heather, Margaret (from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) and Butts

Anyway, they all went over to Butts' place at Carlton, where Heather met Terry. They got on well and saw each other a few times until it was time for Terry to go back to work at the Post Master General's office in New Guinea. Heather wrote to Terry for over a year, until her holidays came up.

Terry asked Heather to come and visit her. "I can't go to New Guinea! I've never been out of Australia!" she protested. Terry must have worked his charms because next thing you know, Heather had met his mother Cora and then was being seen off at the airport to head off to the wilds of Rabaul in New Britain, Papua New Guinea (March 1963).

He was bit alright, wasn't he?

Things must have gone well up in New Guinea, because when it was time to go back home, Terry's friends up there implored Heather not to leave him alone, because "he needs you up here!" And so a wedding was planned!

Cora was a dressmaker and asked if Heather would like it if she made her wedding dress and Heather agreed. Cora made a toile mock-up of the dress from a pattern and sent it up to New Guinea, where adjustments were made and then it was sent back and the final dress sent back. Heather still has the pattern and a bit of the lace (side story - her kids wrecked the dress using it as dress-ups when they were little!).

Anyway, the big day arrived and the dress was ready. There were no relatives at St Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral at Rabaul on 18 May 1963, which, quite frankly, is an impressive 'chapel' for the back blocks of New Guinea in the 1960's!

Despite the lack of relations, the wedding party went off without a hitch and a good time was had by all.

Heather and Terry lived in Rabaul until October 1963 and then Port Moresby until they returned to Sydney in January1965 (when things started to deteriorate).

In a case of things travelling full-circle, I went to New Guinea on a cruise in May 2017 and we stopped in Rabaul. I got the tour bus we were on to detour to St Francis Xavier's and despite the time difference of almost exactly 54 years and the ravages of volcanic explosions that damaged much of Rabaul in 1994, the Cathedral still stands (albeit with new roof). It was surprisingly very emotional being in the exact spot Heather and Terry got married all those years ago:

Heather and Terry are my Mum and Dad (just in case you hadn't worked that out). I love their love story and you'll be glad to know they were happily married for 46 years before Terry died in 2009. They continued to be adventurous, living on a houseboat at Cammeray, a caravan in Coffs Harbour as well as Blacktown, Kogarah, Brighton-Le-Sands, Tasmania, Batemans Bay and Ulladulla! I think their love can give us all hope for love!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

52 Ancestors - Military

This week's theme in #52ancestorsin52weeks is Military (because it's Memorial Day in the US). Pretty sure I have no ancestors who fought in the American Civil War, so this week I'm going to explore my Step-Grandfather Wilfred "Bill" Norman Saunders, who fought for Australia in World War II.

Bill was born in Bingara on 16 December 1911 to Walter George Saunders and Ivy Pearl Harris.

He had 3 sisters and 5 brothers and grew up in Bingara and lived there until at least 1936 (from the Electoral Rolls).

He enlisted in the Australian Army on 29 May 1940 age 28. He was listed as being single and was sent as part of the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion, which was comprised of men mostly from New South Wales.

In June 1940, the battalion went to the army camp at Greta, then Dubbo. At the end of September, it joined a convoy to the Middle East, reaching the Suez on 2 November. They travelled by train to Palestine.

2/1st Battalion on parade in Palestine
In January 1941, they moved to Tobruk, where they helped restore the port, repair roads, and reclaim engineering material. For the next five months, the Battalion helped defend the "fortress" by manning various posts and fighting as infantry. In May it was involved in fighting in the Salient, with 37 men killed in action and seven mortally wounded. Nine became prisoners of war while another 68 were wounded. The Battalion was evacuated from Tobruk in September 1941.

After a time in Palestine, the Battalion left the Middle East in early March 1942 and returned to Australia, to conduct engineering tasks in Brisbane At the end of August 1942, the Battalion went to Papua, arriving on 5 September.

After two days in Port Moresby, A, B and C Companies moved to the base of the Kokoda Trail and up the track through Uberi to Ioribaiwa. The Battalion patrolled and manned defensive positions along the Imita Ridge. It also helped the 14th Field Regiment move their 25-pounder guns up the track to the foot of Imita Ridge.

Moving 25-pounder guns

In November 1942, they moved to 9-mile Quarry and for the next seven months, they worked as miners and labourers to produce crushed metal used to surface airfields and roads.

9 Mile Quarry

Bill was promoted to Corporal on 10 April 1943 and the Batallion returned to Australia in October 1943 for leave. They spent time on the Atherton Tablelands doing Infantry training.

Perhaps during this time, he met my Grandmother, Martha Pearl Martin, because they were married on 9 February 1944 (she was divorced from my Grandfather, George Arthur Hardwick on 11 January 1943).

Also at some stage, they had a child, William, born in 1944, who sadly was stillborn. They never had another child, and my mother only found out about this after their deaths.

Towards the end of the war, operations aimed to reoccupy areas of the Netherlands East Indies, and the 2/1st came ashore at Balikpapan, Borneo on 1 July, the first day of the battle. They consolidated the beachhead and then defended Balikpapan Harbour. Bill was injured at some stage during this battle and this artist sketch is found in the Australian War Memorial archives.

Japan surrendered on 15 August and the war ended. The men was discharged or transferred. Bill embarked Balikpapan on 11 October 1945 and was discharged from the Army on 9 April 1946.

My Great-Grandmother Elizabeth Jennings, my Mum, Pearl (Martha) Martin, and Bill

Bill and Pearl lived in Sefton, in southwestern Sydney until their retirement, where they lived in Gorokan on the Central Coast then back to Bingara.

My Aunty Yvonne, my Dad Terry, my Mum, Bill and Pearl on Mum and Dad's houseboat, the Cooma

Bill was always my "Poppy". I never knew my biological grandfather, George Hardwick, but Poppy was always there. He was the kindest, gentlest man, who had a lovely collection of ditties at the ready ("I like bananas, because they have no bones").

52 Ancestors - Unusual Name

In this week's post, we have been asked to look behind an "unusual name" and I've chosen my great-aunt's husband, Fred...