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Australia Day 2011: The marriage certificate of William Joseph Henry BATEMAN and a mystery solved

26 Jan

To celebrate Australia Day Shelley from the Twigs of Yore blog has issued a challenge to write about an Australian ancestor or relative, you can read the full details here.

As I have no Australian ancestors and to my knowledge only one of my direct ancestors ever set foot on Australian soil (and that was only for about week in the 1920s), it meant that my earliest relation with an Australian connection was William Joseph Henry BATEMAN (my 2x great-uncle). I have already written much about his life and my research, but I haven’t really discussed the earliest record I have for him in Australia, which would be his marriage certificate from the 22nd April 1905.

It took me a while to find this record, I knew that William had ended up in Australia (having been born in Brighton, Sussex, England in 1882) and had a family there, but had not been able to find a record of him actually travelling to Australia and didn’t even know when he had arrived in Australia, except if was after 1891 because he was still at home in the census that year. The marriage certificate not only gave me details of his wife and the marriage itself, but also solved the mystery of his arrival in Australia.

I downloaded the certificate from The Victorian Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website, having used the Electoral Rolls on Ancestry.com.au to narrow down the state and discover his wife’s christian name. I must admit I found the process of searching for the marriage to be somewhat awkward and clunky, and the end result was rather disappointing as the quality of the downloaded image left a lot to be desired, but at least I had a copy.

Eventually I was able to work out all the details (and there was more detail than on an English marriage certificate), confirm that this was the right man and solve the mystery of his arrival in Australia. His occupation was seaman and his residence was H.M.S. Katoomba, a Royal Navy vessel. His naval record confirmed that William had served in the navy and when his service came to an end he was in Australia. No wonder I couldn’t find him on any passenger lists.

But back to the marriage itself. It took place in Geelong, Victoria at the Parsonage, in Yarra Street. The ceremony was conducted by William Williams a Methodist Minister according to the rites of the Methodist Church. At the time of their marriage William was a 23 year old bachelor and his wife Annie Clark BALL was a 24 year old widow with one child from her previous marriage, living in Moorabool Street, Geelong.

Although the certificate was not much to look at it did this solve one mystery and provided plenty of avenues for future research (most of which I haven’t pursued yet) in their married life, Annie’s previous marriage and William’s naval service. Perhaps one day I get to visit Australia and will find myself wandering around the streets of Geelong.

Festival of Postcards: Locomotion – Partridge Green Station

19 Aug

The theme for the latest edition of the Festival of Postcards (hosted by Evelyn at A Canadian Family) is “Locomotion”. I don’t think there are any postcards in my collection that sum this up better than the one below of Partridge Green railway station in Sussex.

Partridge Green Station

There is no name of a photographer or publisher on this card, it was posted from Partridge Green on the 27th November 1907 and sent to a Miss B. Longhurst of Ashington, Sussex. Historic postcards of railway stations are eagerly collected and command high prices. I was lucky enough to get this one several years ago.

Partridge Green station was on the Horsham to Shoreham branch (or the Steyning Line as it was also known) of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. It was opened in 1861 and closed in 1966, and the route of the line now forms part of the bridleway linking the North Downs Way and the South Downs Way, known as the Downs Link and is one of my favourite places to walk.

I will give you a quick tour of the station before the train arrives. We are standing at the southern end of the northbound (or up) platform for trains to Horsham, with a small wooden shelter. To the right of that is via the footbridge linking the two platform. Behind the footbridge the road bridge can just be made out, this is the only part of the station that still remains, and even then it has been filled in and only one side remains visible.

On the other platform are passengers waiting for the down train (towards Brighton). Left to right from the footbridge we have the signal box, ticket office and waiting rooms, and the tall building is the station master’s house. To the right of those is the start of the goods yard and goods shed.

Anyway I must dash, I see the train is just coming in and I need to get across to the other platform or I will have to wait another hour. It looks like it’s going to be a busy train, I wonder where they are all going?

Festival of Postcards: Brighton District

26 Apr

I would like to thank Evelyn at A Canadian Family for hosting the Festival of Postcards and for choosing the theme Geography, which has given me a great excuse to combine so many of my interests in one post.

Brighton District Map

This card was part of The Wrench Series (No. 2715) and the map itself was produced by G. Philip & Son, Ltd. Neither of these facts help me come up with a date for the postcard (I am sure there must be someone out there who has documented all the cards of The Wrench Series).

My interest in both maps and postcards stems from an interest in local history, and now they are both an important feature of my family history research. Without a date it is not going to be a great deal of help in any research, but it contains some wonderful features and names so many places connected to my family history. I would list all the places that have a family connection or a personal connection, but it would take far too long.

Railways are another interest of mine, and this map shows the rail network in Sussex at it’s height. About half of the railway lines on this map were closed about forty years ago. Looking closer you can see that the stations are marked (Sta) and it even shows the line up to Devils Dyke beauty spot.

Another obvious feature of this map/postcard are the brown areas which indicate the hills of the South Downs. The South Downs are the most prominent geographical feature of the Sussex landscape (and a great place for going for walk). We can also see two of the main rivers heading for the coast, the River Adur on the left (west) and the River Ouse on the right (east).

Festival of Postcards: Struck by Lightning

21 Feb

The theme for the latest Festival of Postcards (hosted by Evelyn at A Canadian Family) is Light. As you can see I have taken a slight liberty with the theme for this edition.

Struck by Lighening

Rather than light I have gone for lightning, and this real photographic postcard from 1924 shows the devastation caused by a lightning strike on a tree (probably an oak, but hard to tell).

What really interests me about this card is the spelling of the word lightning. I can’t decide whether it was a mistake or not. I suspect it was case that it was spelt the way it sounded with a soft T, as in lie-ning rather than light-ning. Any experts on Sussex dialect care to help me out here?

Knepp Estate in Shipley, West Sussex is probably best known for it’s two castles, one ruined (and visible from the A24 London to Worthing road) and the other still a home (although nearly destroyed by fire in 1904). The estate is home to many nature conservation and preservation projects as well as a polo club and a fantastic lake.

Festival of Postcards: Eastbourne after the Great Blizzard

14 Dec

The theme for the latest Festival of Postcards hosted by Evelyn at A Canadian Family blog is white.

Given the time of year and the fact that there are rumours going around that we might have a White Christmas in Sussex this year (I very much doubt it!), there was only really one choice of card from my collection.

This is rather different to the usual seaside view of Eastbourne, Sussex showing the promenade and pier. There are a few figures on the beach, but no tourists enjoying ice cream in the sunshine. Although judging by the number of footprints it does look like there had been plenty of people out strolling along the promenade.

The “great blizzard” was on the 28th December 1908 and of course the heavy snowfall wasn’t confined to just Eastbourne or Sussex, but much of Britain appears to have been affected.

According to The Sussex Weather Book (Froglets Publications and Frosted Earth, 1991) in Eastbourne, “so fierce was the blizzard on the sea front that the snow and mist rendered the sea invisible”.

The Brighton Herald newspaper (quoted in The Sussex Weather Book) described the scene:

There is nothing that so utterly transforms a town as such a fall of snow as that of this week. It brings with it a rare witchery of beauty, yet a rare sense of desolation. The beauty is in the encrusting of the trees, the silvering of the bushes and the mantling of lawns in purest white. The effect of desolation was heightened by the profound hush. Indeed the strange effect of deep snow to the townsman is the silence that it brings”.

Ironically the ice skating rink at Brighton had to be closed because “snow was percolating through the roof and covering the floor”.

Festival of Postcards: Spotted Deer at Buxted Park, Sussex

18 Oct

The theme for the latest Festival of Postcards is Quadrupeds, I searched my postcards for animals, and to be honest most of my postcards are of rural nature, so there was no shortage of four-legged animals to choose from.

In the end I settled on these fine looking animals from Buxted Park in Buxted, East Sussex.

Spotted Deer close-up

I have not really been able to find out much about these deer beyond what was written on the back of the card. It looks like these may well be chital deer, but I am no expert on deer.

In case you can’t make out the handwriting the message reads:

My dear Arthur I thought you would like this card for your book there are no other in England like them they are never hunted I was quite close to them the other day as I often take a walk in the park They belong to Lord Portman and there are about four hundred they are very pretty hope you are quite well from your Aunt Lucy

The card must have been sent in an envelope or delivered by hand, so there is no postmark to help with dating it, and no clues as to who the publisher was either, but I would think it probably dates from the 1920s.

I was walking over at Buxted a couple of months ago, and I didn’t see any deer (only sheep). My great-grandmother Minnie HEMSLEY is said to have worked at Buxted Park, in the house which is now a very nice looking hotel.

In case you are wondering what they look like out in the open here is another postcard of the deer out in the park.

Spotted Deer, Buxted Park

Why I couldn’t live without the Sussex Family History Group

14 Oct

I decided it was about time I joined in the fun at the Carnival of Genealogy, the 82nd edition is all about family history societies. I have been a member of various genealogical and historical societies over the years, some have fallen by the wayside, due to changing interests or lack of money.

There is one society without which I could not have got as far I have in my research, and that is the Sussex Family History Group. I don’t remember how many years I have been a member now, certainly since I started taking my family history research seriously, when it became an obsession rather than just a hobby.

They provide all the services you would expect from a genealogical society, including a quarterly journal, an award-winning website, an email mailing list, numerous publications in print, microfiche and CD-ROM, they have library for members and also organise an annual conference as well as holding smaller local meetings around Sussex.

Given that over two thirds (probably nearer three-quarters) of my direct ancestors were born in the county of Sussex, England it is not surprising that many of their publications are sitting within arms reach of my computer.

There are two keys resources that I couldn’t work without, the first is the Sussex Marriage Index CD-ROM. This index is said to contain every recorded marriage in the county of Sussex (and some outside the boundaries as well) up to 1837 when civil registration came into force.

The software itself is a pleasure to use, unlike some other indexes I have used, it is quick and has the really useful ability to copy the selected marriage details to the clipboard, so that they can be pasted elsewhere.

The second resource is their members only data archive (provided by Frontis). This is quite a recent development, and whilst the website isn’t quite as professional and advanced as some of the online databases, what it lacks in appearance and search functionality is more than made up for by the wealth of data it holds.

It contains baptism records for most of the Sussex parishes, although it is by no means as complete as the marriage index. Also coming online at the moment are burial indexes for selected Sussex parishes as well.

A quick glance at the home page of their website will give you an idea of the wide range of services and publications the Sussex Family History Group has to offer. I haven’t even mentioned their range of monumental inscription CDs or their census indexes which pre-date the arrival of the census on the internet.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the chairman, officers, volunteers and members, both past and present, for all the hard work that they have put in (and continue to put in), which makes this group such a wonderful resource, without which my research would be struggling to get off the ground.

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