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.