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52 Ancestors - Another Language

This week's theme in #52ancestorsin52weeks is Another Language.

My paternal great-grandmother Cecelia Morley was born in County Mayo, Ireland; my paternal great-grandfather Charles Parsons was born in Papanui, New Zealand, but his father was from Dorset England. Susannah Freeman (paternal), Fred Martin (maternal) and Elizabeth Jennings (maternal) were all born in the Tamworth area in Australia. Arthur Hardwick and Emma Morton were both born in Manly, Sydney. So all very Australian/Irish/English and certainly all English-speaking.

There is one exception to the English-speaking great-grandparents is my father's father's father - Gaspar Sedgwick.



Gaspar is variously recorded as "Gasper", "Jasper" and "Jaspar" - goes to show how they rarely wrote their own name and the person recording it just wrote down what they thought they heard.

Gaspar married in Australia twice. The first time was in 1882 to Catherine (Kate) Morley (or Marley, depending on the document), when he was 27.



The certificate lists Gasper Segwick as being as Seaman from Austria, his parents were Jacob and Mary Sedgwick and Jacob was a Shipwright.

My mum has this photo - we are assuming it's Gaspar on a ship. It's undated.

After having 8 children, Kate died in 1894. He then married her sister Cecelia, who came out from Ireland with her brothers, sponsored by Kate, in 1896. Apparently, they needed special permission from the Catholic Church to get married, but we haven't been able to get any records of that (yet). By then, he was working as a fireman.


Ann Cecelia (Celie), Gasper and Cecelia Sedgwick

For years, I assumed that he was born in current-day Austria and I imagined myself as having Sound of Music genetics and swirling around the snow-capped mountains singing Edelweiss! 

Gaspar was naturalised in 1900 and the certificate also states he was from Austria, and that he came out on the Lady Belmore in 1874 when he was 25.


I have searched extensively, but have been unable to find a record of a Gaspar Sedgwick (or anything remotely close) coming out in 1874 or in any year on the Lady Belmore.

Now, a Sedgwick relative was able to find out that he was from Cherso, Austria, which turns out to be the Italian pronounciation of Cres, an island in Croatia (and there goes my dreams of the hills being alive).


It was known as Istria at the time and actually was ruled by Austria, but has also been in French, Italian and Yugoslav rule. In the 1850s, many Croatians came to Australia as seaman, but jumped ship for the goldfields of Victoria. They were recorded as being "Austrian" because it was part of the Habsburg empire. I still haven't been able to find a record of him arriving in Australia, but I will keep trying!

My brother took this photo of Cres when he visited in 2007
But this information makes searching further back a bit easier! Because the Croatian church records have been digitised and you can search through them. You can't "search" them, because they haven't been indexed, but you can read through them, page by page. Which brings us to "another language" because at first, they are in Latin, then as you go further back, they are in Italian. Fun times for this family researcher, because I can read neither! But - there is Google translate! What did we do before the internet? I would have to travel to Croatia (wouldn't that be a shame)

Estimating his birth date of being 27 in 1882, brings us to 1855, his parents were Jacob and Mary and I guessed that he was Catholic from his marriages as well. So I started reading pages of records and finally found this:


Gasparus Aloysius Sigovich was born on 24 February, 1855 to Jacobus Sigovich and Maria Bolmarcich in Cres, Croatia. Aloysius is a Latinised name for Leo or Louis and Gasper and Kate's son Gasper Leo, reflects this.

I was then able to work back and find Jacobus and Maria's marriage on 24 November, 1844:


Jacob is listed as being a "navium magister" which translates to Master Navigator, so the seafaring tradition is quite strong. We are also able to find their parents on this record - Joannes Sigovich and Jacoba Duncova, and Antonius Bolmarcich and Andreana Coglievina.

I have been able to find Antonio and Andreana's marriage record - we are now back to 21 October 1812! The records aren't as neat and easy to decipher:


I had to call in the big guns for this one! There is a fabulous Facebook group that translates documents from other languages. This one came back as:

"21 October 1812 After 3 wedding proclamations prescribed by the Holy Council of Trento, first at 1st October, 2nd at 8th October, 3rd at 15 October and having discovered no impediments, D.Francesco Mons. with my license D.Giuseppe Bolmarcich has interrogated Andrea Coglievina son of the deceased Mattia and Antonia daughter of the living Bolmarcich son of Antonio, living in this town and having obtained their consent I married them according to the rites of the Holy Catholic Roman Church"

So, I am able to trace back our "Sedgwick" part of the family tree to Croatia in the early 1800s. It will take quite a bit of reading through Italian parts of Croatian church records to go further back, but when I have a spare few hours, I will keep going.

So, I'm not really a Sedgwick, I'm a Sigovich from Cres, Croatia (and also a Morleys from Ireland, Parsons from England, the Freemans from probably England or Ireland, the Hardwicks from England, the Mortons from Scotland, the Martins from England, and the Jennings from England).

We think Gaspar probably anglicised his surname to better fit in his new country and maybe to be much more acceptable to the Morley family as he married their daughter. Imagine coming from a Mediterranean island to Australia, learning a new language, gaining new employment and almost re-creating your identity. 

I find myself actually quite fascinated by Gaspar more than any of the other grandparents, maybe because it is all so foreign. One day I hope I can post more about that branch of the family tree (in fact, Cres has been inhabited since paleo-lithic times, so maybe I do have a lot of work to do!). My DNA results say I'm 10% European East, so it will be interesting to go further back.



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