Shortly before GeneticAffairs was asked to stop offering the AutoCluster analyses that employed Ancestry data, I ran Greg’s AncestryDNA matches through their autoclustering tool. AncestryDNA allows you to gather the same information, but I and many other users found the organisation and visual presentation offered by GeneticAffairs very useful.

I was looking at one of the smaller clusters – cluster 21 on the chart – and the associated notes, when I noticed that there was a small family tree of 22 people attached to one of the matches. Looking at the tree I noticed the Bell surname, which matched what I knew of the rest of the cluster. There was also a match with the Darby surname. Although I did not recognise Henrietta, the Darby surname did seem to fit the tree of the other shared matches where I did know how we are related, namely the trees of my Sullivan cousins.

small tree from Greg’s DNA match with a clue linking the match to the Darby family

This was exciting. Perhaps I had found a link to the elusive John Narroway Darby who I wrote about earlier this year.

I contacted Greg’s second cousin LB on Facebook to share the discovery, saying, “I have had a look at the tree [of SK]. She has a Bell marrying a Darby. Her tree has no details but I ran Vic BDM and found two births and the marriage.”

I dithered a little but decided to order the marriage certificate. The image of a Victorian historical certificate costs $20, not cheap, but there’s only so much you can do with just indexes.

1868 marriage James Bell and Henrietta Darby

It was indeed our family. At Creswick on 4 October 1868 Creswick James Bell, a miner, aged 22, married Henrietta Bell, no occupation, aged 24. Both were living at Creswick. They were married by a Wesleyan minister. The witnesses were Alexander and Agnes Pavina [I am not completely confident I am reading this correctly]. Henrietta said she was born in County Down, Ireland and her parents were John N Darby Compositor and Matilda Mograge.

I didn’t have Henrietta on our tree. If she was 24 in 1868 then she was born in about 1844.

I believe she is the child born in New Zealand, one of the two children of John Darby and his wife recorded on the shipping list of the Sir John Franklin, which left Auckland on 12 April 1845 and reached Hobart after what was described as ‘a tedious voyage of 25 days’. The other child was Matilda, who was baptised in Hobart in November 1845. She was born on 14 March 1845, less than a month before they set sail.

shipping list Sir John Franklin 12 April 1845

I had previously found no other record for the other child of John and Matilda Darby and had assumed it had died young.

I do not know why Henrieta said she was born in Ireland. Her parents were from Exeter, England and I am reasonably confident (if she recorded her age correctly) that she was born in New Zealand. Otherwise she was born in Australia. I ordered her death certificate which said she was born in Geelong and had lived all her life in Victoria. In 1896 her age was given as 47, which means she was born about 1849.

1896 death certificate Henrietta Bell

When John Darby married Catherine Murphy in Portland in 1855 he stated that his wife was dead and that he was the father of two children, one of whom had died. In fact, his wife Matilda was still alive and his second marriage was bigamous. I had assumed the living child was his daughter Matilda and that the unnamed child on the voyage had died. I now think that when John and Matilda Darby separated they kept a child each. Matilda junior stayed with her mother and Henrietta remained with her father, hence her knowledge of his name and occupation when she married. Her sister Matilda did not know her father’s name when she married William Sullivan in 1862.

Name John Darby Spouse Name Catherine Murphy Registration Place Victoria Registration Year 1855 Registration Number 2765

Henrietta and James Bell had five children before James’s untimely death
in 1884:

  • Annie Jane Bell 1872–1918
  • Agnes Estella Bell 1875–1961
  • Catherine Elizabeth Bell 1878–1929
  • James Henry William Bell 1879–1928
  • Francis Sinclair Bell 1881–1935

Greg and his cousins share DNA with descendants of Annie and James Henry.

There were several Bell families in Creswick. The family trees I have looked at have different parents and a different death date for James Henry Bell, whose birth was registered as James William Bell. To confirm my suspicion that he was indeed related to Henrietta Darby I ordered his death certificate, and yes, James Henry Bell who in 1904 married Edith Jane Hocking (1884 – 1963) was indeed the son of James Bell and Henrietta nee Darby. I was thus able to resolve several more DNA matches that had puzzled me for some years. James Henry and Edith had seven children. He served in World War I, was wounded and was a prisoner of war.

1928 death certificate James Henry Bell

Yesterday we visited Creswick Cemetery and Long Point. Henrietta and James Bell’s grave is unmarked. Long Point, where they lived, is a pretty area of bushland next to a small settlement just outside Creswick.

Creswick Cemetery Methodist section row 13
Long Point bushland reserve near Creswick

There are still unanswered questions about what became of John Narroway Darby and what Henrietta did before her marriage and how she came to be in Creswick.

I am pleased to have learned a little more about the family though. It’s fun to follow through the clues.

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