One of my fifth great grandfathers was William Duff (1754–1795), the second natural son of James Duff, later Earl Fife of Banffshire (1729–1809).
William Duff was baptised on 16 March 1754 at Fordyce. His mother, Margaret Adam of Keith, was the personal maid of the Countess Fife, the mother of James Duff, that is, the mother of William’s father.
James Duff acknowledged William and his brother James and sister Jean as his children and all three received a good education at his expense. Care of the children was entrusted to William Rose, the factor (agent) of Lord Fife . The correspondence on this matter between William Rose, Lord Fife, and the three Duff children is extant, some being published in the 1925 book Lord Fife and his Factor.
William Duff was educated at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich in southeast London, a training college for commissioned officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers. There is a letter from William in 1770 when he was about 16 years old describing his course of studies:
Rise at 6 and go for a walk. Breakfast 7.30. Study from 8 to12. After dinner, military exercises. 3 to 6 study.
The book of the Duffs Volume 2 page 516
On 11 December 11 1770, William obtained a commission as Lieutenant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, and in September 1771 he wrote from Chatham Barracks to his father at Duff House :
Since I wrote your Lordship last I have been detailed, with twenty men, for a week, to Upnor Castle, a place about four miles from here. This is a duty we take by turns. All this marching about of late has been very expensive to me, and within these two months (during which time I have never been settled in one place) it has cost me upwards of eighteen pounds. Our regiment, I believe, will remain as it is for the winter, but it is generally thought we shall march some other way before February next. My brother sets off for Scotland, with the first ship. I wanted to get to London, for a day or so, to see him before he went, but I really could not get leave. We are now so thin, that I have the Sash every other day almost. I understand your Lordship is killing the Deer just now, and I dare say you will have good diversion. I have just got another step in the Regt., so that there is now five under me.
The book of the Duffs. Volume 2 page 517
Eighteen pounds in 1771 is probably equivalent to more than 30,000 pounds today. The website MeasuringWorth states to compare the value of a £18 0s 0d Commodity in 1771 there are four choices. In 2020 the relative:
real price of that commodity is £2,413.00
labour value of that commodity is £32,180.00
income value of that commodity is £35,310.00
economic share of that commodity is £273,500.00
On 15 April 1773, William Duff embarked with his regiment for Canada, the journey taking 11 weeks. He was still in Canada in 1775, when the American War of Independence broke out. He wrote to his brother, Sir James Duff of Kinstair, on 21 May 1775 from Quebec. The 7th Royal Fusiliers were stationed with the 26th Foot in Lower Canada; the two regiments were loosely scattered among frontier posts, and both were at very low strength, together mustering only seven hundred men.
At the time of the American invasion of Canada in 1775, most of the regiment was forced to surrender. The 80 man garrison of Fort Chambly, Quebec, attempted to resist a 400-man Rebel force but ultimately had to surrender in October 1775 and the regiment lost its first set of colours.
William Duff was taken prisoner by the Americans, probably at Fort Chambly in October 1775. Though it was hoped he might be returned in an exchange of prisoners, he was not released until early 1777.
In February 1777 he wrote to his father from Staten Island about the purchase of a company in the Regiment. William foreshadowed the expense stating “There is not a Company that has sold for less than Seventeen hundred pounds.” He asked his father to confirm that his father would purchase it for him and requesting security.
Seventeen hundred pounds in 1777 was probably equivalent to three million pounds today . From the website MeasuringWorth:
real price of that commodity is £224,600.00
labour value of that commodity is £2,858,000.00
income value of that commodity is £3,110,000.00
economic share of that commodity is £22,870,000.00
William left the 7th Regiment and was promoted to captain in the 26th Foot on 9 April 1777.
On 4 January 1786, William Duff now Captain of the 26th Regiment of Foot was promoted to Major; at the time he and the regiment were serving in Ireland.
In May 1787 William wrote to William Rose from Cork :
We expect to sail to-morrow for Quebec. After various delays we reached this place a fortnight since. I am, as you often told me I should be, happier than ever in possession of a real, confidential friend. Everyone likes her. Were we richer it would be better.
The book of the Duffs. Volume 2 page 522
The headquarters of the regiment in July 1787 at Quebec was under the command of Major William Duff. The regiment moved to Montreal in 1789, and then to the frontier posts along the Niagara River in 1790. It moved to St. John in 1792.
William took his wife Dorothy to Canada. They had one daughter, Sophia Henrietta, born about 1790. It seems likely she was born in Canada.
William Duff retired from the army in March 1793.
William Duff, major in the 26th foot, died on 5 July 1795 at Fulford near York. He has a memorial in the Duff House Mausoleum at Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The inscription reads:
Sacred to the memory of William Duff of the 26th Regiment, a meritorious officer, a most sincere friend, an affectionate husband, an indulgent parent. He lived esteemed and respected. He died regretted and lamented in the 41st year of his age in the year of the Lord 1795.
“The Annals of Banff.” New Spalding Club, 1893, Issue 10, page 369.
William’s daughter Sophia was about five years old when her father died. Sophia and her mother stayed in contact with William’s family.
Alistair Tayler & Tayler, Helen Agnes Henrietta, 1869-1951, joint author (1914). The book of the Duffs. Edinburgh W. Brown. Volume 2 pages 516-524 retrieved through archive.org
Who were the parents of Thomas Edwards 1794 – 1871?
Thomas Edwards was one of the 3rd great grandfathers of my husband Greg. He died suddenly, of “congestion of the brain”, on 7 January 1871 at Bungaree, near Ballarat, Victoria. An inquest was held two days later. The coroner, who seems to have been advised by a member of the family, was the informant on Thomas’s death certificate.
Thomas Edwards, born about 1794, was 77 years old when he died. He had been a wheelwright. His parents are recorded on his death certificate as John Edwards and Jane Edwards nee Gilbert. Thomas’s father was a labourer. Thomas had been born in Cornwall and had spent 22 years in Victoria. He had married Mary Gilbart at the age of 33, in about 1827. Eight children – 6 boys and 2 girls – are noted, but their names and ages are not given.
There is only one baptism for a Thomas Edwards about 1794 in south-west Cornwall: Thomas, son of John and Jane Edwards, was baptised on 6 July 1794 at Towednack, a village 5 miles north-west of St Erth.
Thomas Edwards married Mary Gilbart on 14 March 1826 in the parish church of St Erth. If he was 77 when he died in 1871, he was about 32 in 1826 when he married Mary Gilbart. The witnesses to the marriage were John Gilbart and Sarah Gilbart, both of them probably relatives of the bride.
The dates on Thomas Edwards’s death certificate are consistent with those on the Lysander passenger manifest and the marriage record.
Marriage of John and Jane Edwards, parents of Thomas
I am unable to find a marriage for a John Edwards and a Jane Gilbert or Gilbart. Some online trees have John Edwards as the husband of Jane Harvey, with their marriage on 21 June 1788 at Breage. On that marriage John is from Breage and a tinner by rank or profession, Jane Harvey is from Germoe. The witnesses were Thomas Edwards and Thomas Johns. Germoe is less than three miles west of Breage. I think this is the likely marriage of Thomas’s parents and that Thomas’s death certificate incorrectly gives his mother’s maiden name.
Siblings of Thomas Edwards
As stated above Thomas, child of John and Jane Edwards was baptised 6 July 1794 at Towednack, Cornwall. Between 1788 and 1820 there were only two other children baptised at Towednack to parents named John and Jane Edwards:
William baptised on 7 August 1796
Honour baptised on 21 October 1798
It seems unlikely that the John and Jane Edwards who were married in 1788 had only three children and that the first, Thomas, was born six years after marriage. I looked for other baptisms in south-west Cornwall for parents John and Jane Edwards in the period 1788 – 1820.
The neighbouring parish of Lelant also records baptisms of children with parents John and Jane Edwards. However, because some of these are in 1794, 1797, and 1798, thus overlapping with the children born to the Towednack family, it appears that the Lelant baptisms are for a separate family.
On 26 December 1805 there is a baptism of a Sarah Edwards to John and Jane Edwards at Breage, 7 miles south-east of St Erth and 12 miles south-east of Towednack. It is also the marriage place of John Edwards and Jane Harvey.
There is a baptism of Charlotte Edwards on 4 May 1810 at Gulval. Gulval is just under five miles south of Towednack and just under 6 miles south-west of St Erth.
Some online family trees suggest a James Edwards born about 1805 is also the child of John and Jane Edwards, however I have not located a baptism for him with a mother named Jane in the indexes of the Cornwall Parish Records (Online Parish Clerk OPC) database. I have found a baptism for James in Germoe on 4 March 1804 with father John and mother Jenifred; Jenifred is possibly a variation of Jane. There was also an Anne Edwards, daughter of John and Jenifred baptised at Germoe on 2 May 1802.
I am puzzled though that there were apparently no children born to that marriage before 1794. However, the list of all Cornish baptisms on the OPC database to parents John and Jane Edwards has no other likely candidates for these baptisms in the period 1788 – 1794.
But there is a John Edwards baptised in Gulval on 23 November 1788. His mother’s name is not given. On 28 November 1790 there is a baptism at Madron, a village two miles west of Gulval, for Francis Edwards son of John, also without the mother’s name. On 24 June 1792 Jane Edwards, daughter of John, was baptised at Madron, again without the mother’s name. On 9 May 1806 Elizabeth, daughter of John (no mother named) was baptised at Penzance. She appears on the Madron register. I think it very likely that these four children are siblings of Thomas.
To summarise, the possible family of John Edwards and Jane:
23 November 1788
28 November 1790
24 June 1792
6 July 1794
John and Jane
7 August 1796
John and Jane
21 October 1798
John and Jane
2 May 1802
John and Jenifred
4 March 1804
John and Jenifred
26 December 1805
John and Jane
4 March 1810
John and Jane
Two of Thomas’s siblings, James and Charlotte, emigrated to Victoria, arriving in Portland on the Oithona in 1855 with their spouses and some of their children. Unfortunately, the death certificates for James and Charlotte give no details of their mother.
John, Francis, Jane, William, Honour, and Anne Edwards died in Cornwall. English death certificates do not record information about the deceased person’s parents and so will not help to confirm details of John and Jane Edwards.
I am yet to trace whether Sarah Edwards married or emigrated, and when she died.
Deaths of John and Jane Edwards
In May 1817 there was a mining accident at St Ives which killed John Edwards and injured one of his sons. The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 31 May 1817 reported:
A few days ago, John Edwards, of the parish of St. Erth, was killed, and his son for the present deprived of his eyesight by the untimely explosion of a hole in a mine near St. Ives. A person who called at the house of the survivor, was informed at the accident was occasioned by the use of an iron tamper, the powder and quills and a little rubbish had been put into the hole, but it had not been wet swabbed. It is to be hoped that this distressing event will deter all others from the use of such dangerous implements, and induce them to adopt such means of safety as [article ceases]
John Edwards was buried 24 May 1817 at Gulval. His residence was St Erth and he was 54 years old [so born about 1763].
On the 1841 census a Jane Edwards age 75 was living in St Erth in the household of William and Charlotte Thomas; Charlotte was Jane’s daughter. On 10 May 1842 Jane Edwards, age 76, was buried at St Erth.
The 1871 death certificate of Thomas Edwards seems reliable, though his mother’s maiden name appears wrong, possibly confused with his wife’s maiden name. His mother was probably Jane Harvey who married Thomas’s father John Edwards in 1788. John and Jane Edwards lived in the area of Gulval, Towednack, and Germoe in south-west Cornwall. They had ten children .
Shortly after their marriage William’s regiment was posted to Canada and Dorothy accompanied him there. William retired from the army in March 1793 and the family returned to Yorkshire.
Major William Duff died aged 41 on 5 July 1795 at Fulford, near York. He was survived by his widow and only child. His inscription in the Duff family mausoleum (at Duff House, Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland) stated:
Sacred to the memory of William Duff of the 26th Regiment, a meritorious officer, a most sincere friend, an affectionate husband, an indulgent parent. He lived esteemed and respected. He died regretted and lamented in the 41st year of his age in the year of the Lord 1795.
Dorothy and Sophia stayed in touch with William’s family. A letter written by Dorothy to her father-in-law in London mentions a visit to William’s sister, and that Sophia was visited at school by her paternal grandfather.
Dorothy Duff (William’s widow) to Earl Fife Richmond, Yorkshire Dec’r 23rd, 1801. My Lord,— I have to thank you for a letter which yu were so good as inclose me fr Lady Duff before you left Duff House, and after being so long without hearing fr your Lordship, was glad to have so good an account of you which was confirmed to me by ye Miss Whartons who wrote me after ye Ball you gave them and that they seemed to have much enjoyed. I have to thank you, my Lord, likewise for your visit to Sophia at Doncaster, where, she tells me, you were so kind as to call upon her notwithstanding a very bad day on which you walked up to ye School, and by which she was much flattered. I had ye pleasure of receiving her a few days ago in perfect health when I returned home after being near three months with my friends at Redmoss Hall. Sophie is wonderfully grown, and is now nearly as tall as I am. When she was with me in Summer I had her at Scarborough two months for ye sea bathing, which gave us an opportunity also of being wt Miss Duff who we had not seen for a very long time. She is by this time gone to Ly Norcliffe. I hope ye much wished for Peace will be ye means of bringing Sir James and Ly Duff soon to England. Your Lordship may perhaps have heard that my Brother is married. It took place here a week ago, before I came home, and he has entirely left ye army — in which he has relinquished very flattering prospects. Your Lordship would be sorry for ye death of poor Ld Adam Gordon — in whom I lose an affectionate relation and friend. I was deeply hurt at ye event- Sophia and I were to have spent this coming Christmas wt him at ye Burn. It was so settled when he was so kind as visit me here in ye summer, but our plans formed so long have proved vain. Sophia sends her duty to your Lordship.— Wh my respectful good wishes I remain, My Lord, your much obliged, etc., etc., D. Duff. The Earl of Fife, Fife House, London.
from Alistair Tayler & Tayler, Helen Agnes Henrietta, 1869-1951, joint author (1914). The book of the Duffs. Edinburgh W. Brown. Volume 2 page 523 retrieved through archive.org
The letter mentions :
Sophia, who was about 11
William’s sister, Jean Duff,
William’s brother, Sir James Duff and his wife Basilia, Lady Duff nee Dawes
Dorothy’s brother, Gordon Skelly, who on 15 December 1801 married Elizabeth Newsome
Dorothy’s great uncle, Lord Adam Gordon, the brother of Dorothy’s paternal grandmother. He died on 13 August 1801.
Sophia’s school at Doncaster was probably the school of Mrs Ann Haugh on Hall Cross Hill, which opened in February 1797, accepting 12 young ladies. Mrs Haugh was the wife of the painter George Haugh, who taught his wife’s pupils.
Dorothy Duff nee Skelly, widow of Richmond, Yorkshire, remarried to Captain George Tobin of the Royal Navy on 13 June 1804 at St George, Bloomsbury, England. Her daughter Sophia was then about 14 years old.
Two children were born to Captain Tobin and Dorothy: George in 1807 and Eliza in 1810.
On 10 August 1939 Katherine Lucas, future first wife of my step-grandfather George Symes, embarked on the Strathallan at Port Adelaide, bound for London. At the time, it was widely believed that another war was inevitable, and indeed, scarcely three weeks afterwards, World War II began with Hitler’s invasion of Poland on 1 September and the British response two days later.
ON BOARD the Strathallan yesterday, Mrs. Peter de Peterson passed through Adelaide on her way home to Bombay, after spending three months in Melbourne with her parents, Colonel and Mrs. P. W. Vaughan. Her husband will meet her at Colombo. Travelling in the same ship is Miss K. Lucas, who is bound for England.
Built in the previous year, the Strathallan was one of 5 ‘Strath’ liners designed for the Australia run. They were known as the ‘White sisters’, for P&O had them painted white with buff funnels, a colour scheme made possible by the fuel they used: coal had been replaced by oil, and though black paint had usefully concealed the dirt from coal-smoke, white was clean, modern, and much cooler in the tropics.
RMS Strathallan was the fifth and final vessel of the Strath-class liners, launched in September 1937 with her maiden voyage in March 1938. She was 23,722 gross registered tonnes, 664.5 feet long (202.5m), and could carry for 448 1st Class and 663 Tourist Class passengers.
… on their way to Suez when war was declared and the steamer had to return to Aden and await orders from the Admiralty. They left Aden on 2nd September, and that night all the passengers had to transfer to the first class cabins—as the ship was “all black out” it was rather an ordeal, but the passengers made the best of it and enjoyed the fun of bumping into each other in the dark with their goods and chattels. They had to attend boat drills, first aid classes, wear life belts, carry emergency outfits, practise disappearing below when the air raid and gun warnings were given and not returning until the “all clear” signal sounded. The men passengers, eight on each deck, kept two hourly watch from 6 p.m. until daybreak, the life boats were kept in readiness, and each passenger had his own appointed place therein, so that everything possible had been arranged for their safety.
The Strathallan did not arrive in London until 9 October. When the letter was written, on 12 September, the ship had “been touring continuously without sighting land” for 10 days.
It seems Katherine Lucas may have already disembarked in Bombay in late August, perhaps intending to continue her voyage later or to defer the trip to England because of the anticipated announcement of war.
THE ENGAGEMENT is announced of Miss Katherine Bellairs Lucas, second daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. C. de N. Lucas, of Hyde Park, to Brevet Lieut.-Colonel George William Symes, of York and Lancaster Regiment, India. The marriage will take place in Bombay on December 11.
A WEDDING of interest to Adelaide folk was that of Miss Katherine Bellairs Lucas, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Claude de Neufville Lucas, formerly of South Australia, which was celebrated at the Afghan Memorial Church, Bombay, India, on December 11.
The bridegroom was Lieut.-Col. G. W. Symes, M.C., York and Lancaster Regiment, attached to the General Staff of Bombay District Headquarters. He is the son of Mrs. G. Symes, of Swanage, Dorset, England.
Vice-Admiral H. Fitzherbert. Flag Officer commanding the Royal Indian Navy, and naval officers and their wives, officers attached to Bombay District Headquarters and military units in the garrison and their wives, the Bishop of Bombay and other friends of the bride and bridegroom filled the church, the sanctuary of which was simply decorated.
The bride walked to the altar on the arm of Major-Gen. G. de C. Glover, officer commanding Bombay District.
She wore a white chiffon dress with long sleeves, a full skirt, with flared godets, and an attached hood coming half-way over the head. She was attended by Mrs. P. de Peterson, who wore a dress similar to the bride’s but ice-blue in color.
The Rev. J. W. F. Ruddell, chaplain of Colaba, officiated.
The bride and bridegroom left the church, under an arch of swords provided by brother officers of the bridegroom.
A reception was held at the Gun House, Colaba, where Major-Gen. Glover proposed the health of the bride and bridegroom.
The honeymoon was spent in Agra and Delhi, and the bride wore a going away frock of powder blue flat crepe.
I notice that the bridesmaid, Mrs P de Peterson was mentioned as travelling on the Strathallan at the same time as Katherine.
Helena was the second youngest of eight children of my third great grandparents Samuel Hughes (1827-1896) and Sally Hughes née Plaisted (1826-1900); she was the younger sister, by twelve years, of my great-great-grandfather Edward Walter Hughes (1854-1922).
In April this year Greg and I went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road. We visited Apollo Bay and had lunch at the Apollo Bay Hotel. The hotel has a memorial to the Casino, which includes the ship’s wheel.
The Casino carried cargo and up to 25 passengers between Melbourne and Portland, stopping at Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy, for almost 50 years, from July 1882 to July 1932. She made more than two thousand of these coastal passages.
From about 1914 Helena Gill worked on the Casino as a stewardess. Her bravery in the shipwreck is recalled in a newspaper clipping, part of the display at the Apollo Bay Hotel.
Tomorrow there will be a small ceremony to mark the anniversary of the sinking. A service will be held at the Casino memorial in Gipps Street at 10 a.m. on Saturday 10 July.
William Pulteney Dana, one of my 4th great grandfathers, died at the age of 84 on 29 June 1861, 160 years ago today.
William Dana was the 7th of 13 children of the Reverend Edmund Dana and his wife Helen Dana nee Kinnaird. He was born in Wroxeter, in Shropshire, on 13 July 1776.
Dana married twice, first, in the United States, to Anne Frisby Fitzhugh about 1800. They had two children: a son, who died in infancy, and a daughter, called Anne . When Dana’s wife died in 1804, he returned to England, leaving his infant daughter to be brought up by her maternal relatives.
In England Dana joined the army, serving in the 6th Royal Garrison Battalion in Ireland. There he married again, to Charlotte Elizabeth Bailey in 1812. They had 12 children. In 1815 they settled in Shropshire.
To supplement his Army half-pay William went into business as a printer but was declared bankrupt. He was briefly imprisoned in the jail named after his father.
In later years William Dana lived with his daughter Anna Penelope and her husband W.H. Wood in Shrewsbury.
Captain William Pulteney Dana, who died on the 29th of June last, at the residence of his son-in-law, W.H. Wood, Esq., Holywell-terrace, Shrewsbury, was descended from a family of some eminence which emigrated to America in 1640, and which was among the earlier settlers at Cambridge, in Massachusetts, where many of its members have, from that time to this, held high position in the legal, political, and literary world. His grandfather, the Hon. Richard Dana, and his eldest uncle, the Hon. Francis Dana, were Chief Justices of the State of Massachusetts in the reigns of the second and third Georges. The American branch of the Dana family still resides at Boston and Cambridge, in Massachusetts, and occupies a very distinguished position. Its present representative is Richard Henry Dana, Esq., a poet of note ; and his son, Richard Henry Dana, a leading barrister at Boston, is the author of “Two Years before the Mast.” William Pulteney Dana, the subject of this notice, was the second surviving son of the Rev. Edmund Dana, Vicar of Wroxeter, Shropshire, by his wife, Helen, eldest daughter of Charles, sixth Lord Kinnaird. He was born on the 13th July, 1776, and married, first, Anne, only daughter of Colonel Fitzhugh, by whom he had one daughter ; he married, secondly, Charlotte Elizabeth, third daughter of the Rev. Henry Bayly, Rector of Nenagh, in the County of Tipperary, Ireland (second son of John Bayly, Esq., of Debsborough Hall, in the same county, and a younger branch of the house of Anglesey), by which lady, who died on the 13of May, 1846, he leaves a numerous issue.
When the over all gold [alluvial gold] was booming, the squatters’ drovers became restless and left to go gold digging, and the squatters in desperation imported Chinese by the thousand, at one time 100,000 Chinese were here and they also left for the gold. They were paid by the squatters per month and keep. The pastoralists advertised In China and the Chinese paid £3 boat fare and brought their own food.
In 1862 the bill was passed to open up the land and started the selected going north. And in 1874 with his brother Thomas and a little money saved, James came to Charlton and pegged out two 320 acre blocks adjoining making the square mile. An Act passed in 1862 allowed a selector only 320 acres at £1 per acre with conditions such as, the selectors had to build, fence and clear with 10 years to pay off, which the selectors could not do, and the payment was extended from time to time.
James Edwards went back to Geelong after selecting land in Charlton and married Elizabeth Ann Nicholas on 29th December 1874 and started making preparations to come to Charlton. They got together 4 horses, a buggy, a light wagon and bare necessaries and started off in the late autumn of 1875. It took two weeks to arrive at Charlton and heavy rain slowed the travel, it took three days to go from Charlton to the selection 12 miles out. It was a big trial especially for James Edwards’ young wife who had not been out of Geelong, she had known her husband quite a few years. She had three brothers and one sister Ellen, who married a Shire Secretary at Wagga and lived there all her life and reared a big family. Her own mother corresponded regularly and I remember how the letters were looked forward to. Our mother was a stout strong woman, as her father who, tradition says held the belt for wrestling In Cornwall.
The coming to Charlton, and the prospect of a home, allowed them to look forward to their future life. Her parents said to her when leaving, in 10 years you ought to be able to retire back to Geelong, little did they know the hardships of Pioneers. The first job after arriving at the selection was to build a home, which consisted of logs and mud, the roof was the tent and the house consisted of one room. With improvements to this they lived there three years, and during that three years they were building the home which we know. There were plenty of straight pine trees which were stood up 3 feet apart with slabs across and filled with mud.
I have often heard our mother say how lovely it was to get into this new house, bark of a big tree and flattened with weight was used a lot for roofing. A poem by Tom Murphy would fit in here
Wattle and Dab formed the walls of the hut From gumsucker saplings the highbeams were cut And the roof over the heads of my parents and I Was the bark of a box from the gully near by The furniture crude in the old fashioned shack Was the pine from the pine ridge a mile or so back And the hole still remains not far from the door Where they puddled the clay for the old earthern floor The flesh of the roo for mutton did pass And faces were washed in the dew laden grass This beautiful towel was the bright morning sun And the moon gave them light when the daylight was done Our porridge a corn twint, the wheat and the oat Whilst we coloured our tea with the milk from the goat But although they were days of trials and fears They but used them as steps did our old pioneers.
Our mother was a wonderful woman and took her part in the pioneering of the district. A little woman named Jane Prichard came up with her and stayed with her for 10 years, a grand little woman. The first 10 years being the hardest for the pioneers. Our mother’s first born arrived in November 1875. She journed to her old home in Geelong for the event, the rest of her family were born at ‘Lamorna’. Ada the second girl was born in the tent, there was quite a big population coming there by that time, and a few of the old women acted as maternity sisters and the friendships in the District was a wonderful help to those old pioneers.
The Narrewillock school had 60 on the rolls and the families of those old pioneers always had 8 to 10 children, in fact 3 families adjoining us had 13 children. Within a few miles of our parents home there were a dozen big families, amongst the neighbours were the Douglass family of 12 only 1/2 mile away. Alec Coote, W. Coote and Tom Coote, O’Callaghan, O’Mearers, William, and a few others, all good neighbours and would all help one another.
For the first 10 years clearing the land carting water, and sinking storages was the big worry, the years 1875 to 1907.
The dingo gave them a worry, I have heard our father speak of the last dingo shot, he hid in a big bush one bright moonlight, expecting the old man dingo he came back to the kill of the night before and shot him. His 4 paws and tail were hanging up in the barn for many years. Kangaroos and Emus were all gone and driven back by 1880. About the early 80’s the rabbits put in their appearance, our father came home excited one day with a young rabbit and in a few years there was a plague of them. I caught the first fox in about 1890 with the sheep dogs. That was their first appearance and of course that pest will be always here now. The Shire gave a bonus of £1 a scalp and I got the £1 for the skin we kept for many years.
The native wild life that was on the Lamorna farm In the 1870s are now gone. Kangaroo, Emu, Native Cat, Wood mice, Curleu, Woodpecker, Ground Pluver, Chatterona Brown Bird, twice the size of a starling. The fox, rabbits and house cats, gone wild, are responsible for their disappearance.
Schooling for myself and four sisters was at Narrewillock five miles from home, the school had a few rooms attached, and an old man lived there named Brightwell, he kept the Post Office. Our eldest sisters did all their schooling there, later there was a school built one mile away from home called Hallam school, myself and youngest sister went mostly to this school. All walking was the order of the day. A teacher called Os Derrick stayed at Hallam four years and this was really the only schooling I received. Our parents lost one of the family, a girl they called Mary Beatrice who died of quinsy in 1880 which was a heavy blow to our parents. Two of the biggest worries was the shortage of water and money, and carting water was a constant job and sometimes from the Avoca River 7 miles. This worry was not realised [relieved] till 1921 the year I tapped the Marmal Creek and filled our dam, when the creek ran in the winter time. This creek ran eight years out of ten, the farmers are now served by a channel from Lake Lonsdale, in 1948.
On the 640 acres there were two patches of about forty acres without trees and these patches got more than their share of cropping, as the clearing of this was a big job. Our father bought a mower with two horses to pull in 1877 and a little peg drum thrasher to thrash the barley, and in about 1882 bought a stripper and winnow from South Australia which was wonderful in those days.
This type of stripper was used till the turn of the century. Our father bought the first H. V. McKay harvester in 1906 and from then on harvesting became much easier.
The horses named Darling and Jess were two good mares, they bred from them and their breeding was carried through right to the time the horses were discarded on the farms in about 1935, some farmers favoured horses earlier and some later. The prices for grain were too low for the farmers to prosper, the prices were controlled by spectator [speculators] being about 2/6 for wheat and as low as 1/- for oats, lambs 10/-. On less [Unless] a compulsory pool was established in 1916 but still no price fixed. In 1928 the Wheat Growers Association was formed which I was a foundation and executive member and from then on we gradually took control. The stabiliasion [stabilisation] scheme has been paying 12/- for quite a few years. I stayed on the State Council of the Victorian Wheat Growers Assoc. for five years and for the work and enthusiasm I put into the Association in the pioneering days, the Association at the Annual Conference in 1964, I was made a life member.
The season in this part of Victoria was uncertain, sometimes a very wet year and sometimes a drought. 1902 was the big drought and the next year 22 inches of rain. The big drought that I remember was 1902, 1914, 1920, 1929, 1940, 1944. I Frederick James took over the control of the farm in 1907. Nell the eldest married in 1902 to J. Findlay. Ada was music teaching in Ararat and Jean the youngest sister was with her, and Beatrice married P. Toose in 1909. I married in 1910 and had our 5 children there and for a while drove them to Narrewillock school but in March 1920 bought this house in Charlton and have lived there ever since. My wife Anne died 9th January 1963. Our family all turned out well they were all big, strong and good sports. Gwen (4 daughters) now Mrs. Richards, Bob married Joyce Parker (3 daughters) and is now at Beaumaris, Freda (1 son & 1 daughter) now Mrs. Piccoli and is now at Barraport. Joyce with two sons is on the farm, Nan (2 daughters) now Mrs. Nagel and lives at Black Rock.
The following is from my father James Edwards Diary.
1874. Met the surveyor from St. Arnaud and pegged out the two blocks at Narrewillock, the ground looks good plenty of grass but no water. I was married on 29th December 1874.
1875. Spent a few months in preparation in coming to Charlton, left Bullarook on 22nd May having lived there 14 years. My father has recorded they were very happy there. Arrived at the farm having spent 16 days on the trip. Very wet which made the travelling hard. First child born in November (Nell).
1876. Sowed the first patch of wheat, carting water.
1877. Second child born (Ada) .
1878. Drove to Geelong — one horse and buggy. We shifted to the new house having lived in a tent for 3 years.
1880. Rabbits were in plague proportion. Brought first stripper which proved a success.
1881. Lost two fingers, a sad event. Father suffered severely and was in St. Arnaud hospital for awhile.
1882. Started a Sunday school at Narrewillock which he kept on for 25 years.
1883. Shortage of water is causing hardship, sold 150 sheep 7/-.
1884 Received £11/7/3 as fathers share of Will B. Gilbart (London).
1885. Very bad year, 167 bags (4 bushels) total cheque £115/11/11.
1886. Another bad year 94 bags from 150 acres. Sold 61 bags for £34/19/6.
1887. First plague of Locusts.
1888. Sold 220 bags wheat price 2/10 ½ per bushel. Rev. Kirkwood started preaching at Narrewillock, he stayed there 20 years. Bought 125 sheep at 6/5d. , wheat price this year 1/9d.
1891. Sent two trucks of sheep and lambs to Melbourne, price £87/5/- for 226 sheep.
1892. Later sent 165 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £54/4/10. Bought stripper and winmower, the winmower is still at the farm. Bought cow and calf for £3.
1893. Sold 163 bags for 1/9 a bushel some at 1/7 ½, sold 115 bags oats @ 6 ½ d.
1896. Wheat price rose to 4/6 ½. 696 sheep were shorn, shearing cheque £5/2/- for shearers.
1897. Sent 130 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £41/1 2/10.
1898. Rented Howards 1200 acres for 3 years, £150 per year, this land is held now by Hillard, Blair, McGurk and L. Douglass.
1900. Ordered first seed drill, Massey Harris £45.
1901. Very dry, carting water takes the whole time.
1902. The first big drought, practically no rain for the year, horses went to Lang Lang and sheep sold, this from now on is written by F.J. Edwards.
1903. The year was good and from now on the farming system very much improved.
1905. We bought a H.V. McKay harvester which made harvesting from now on much easier.
1907.  Uncle Tom died, he had been a great help mate to father all his life – age 81
1908. Our mother died, she had been in Ararat with Ada, but came home when she became sick – age 65.
1909. Sister Beatrice married P. Toose
1910. Myself married to Annie Morcon of Bendigo.
1914. Another drought, no wheat, the first big war started.
1916. Our father died this year aged 81 both he and our mother are buried in Terrappee cemetery.
1920. Been having good seasons, my wife and self bought our home in Charlton, we have five of our family.
1921. I sank the big dam at the farm 9000 yds it took three five horse teams about three months, a big job.
1925. Ken McPherson took wheat growing on the shares, he and his wife stayed five years.
1929. Another drought, sent 24 horses to Tatura on swamp country, Gerald Buckley property, stayed 6 months.
1930. The Wheat Growers Association was formed this year the first big move to organise the wheat growers as a foundation member. I stayed on the State Council five years. The next ten years was the depression years, fair seasons but low prices.
1931. Bob 21 was now working the farm, I made over Pratts and Howards 560 acres to him.
1941. Son Bob married and built the new home at the farm, costing about £3,000.
1944. Very bad drought, Bob Edwards took over the full management and bought O’Mearers land 500 acres @ £7 per acre.
1948. Bob bought 2,000 acre property at Ballan and left the farm.
1949. Joyce and Bob Chambers left the Bank and gradually took over the whole farm, bought Bob Edwards’ land for £20 per acre.
1963. 9th January mother died and is buried in Terrappee Cemetery, her passing has left a blank in the family.
1964. Another good season, the Chambers have two good boys, one 19 and the other 13, these boys should and I think will carry on and uphold the tradition of the Pioneers, and who will carry on the farm at Narrewillock.
A week ago I received an email about a photo in a family collection: “I have come across a photo of Peggy Champion De Crespigny with my mother, Ruth Smith, circa 1942, both in Army uniform.
They enlisted in the army around the same time and were good friends. I don’t know if this friendship pre-dated the war, but mum used to talk about the Champion De Crespigny’s with great affection. I don’t think they ever met up in future years even though they both eventually lived in Adelaide – mum since the mid-1950s. Mum passed away in 2005. [Peggy died in 1989.]
Mum has written on the back of the photo: Peggy de Crespigny and Ruth coming from the Torrens Parade Ground along King William Road near Govt. House, Adelaide.”
The Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) was formed in August 1941 to release men from less important military duties so that they could serve with fighting units.
Isobel Ruth Smith (Service Number – SF64955), 23 years old, enlisted at Adelaide on 21 May 1942. Her occupation was clerk.
Margaret Champion de Crespigny (Service Number – S65003) enlisted at Adelaide on 26 May 1942. Her occupation was coding and deciphering, she had just started the signals course the day before.
From 25 May 1942 to about August Ruth and Peggy attended a communications course called the Australian Signals Course No. 41.
On 13 August 1942 Ruth was transferred to a special wireless school at Bonegilla near Albury. Ruth was graded as a Group 1 Wireless Telegraph Operator and later promoted to Sergeant. She was discharged in January 1946.
Ruth’s son sent another photo of Ruth “Also a photo of my mum, Sgt. Ruth Smith, who served in signals with the Australian Special Wireless Group a somewhat secretive outfit who were told that they were never mention their role, or mention the Aust Special Wireless Group, and were never to march in ANZAC Day parades (and she didn’t). Interestingly the ASWG became the Defence Signals Directorate.” He also recalled that his parents “would talk fluently in high speed Morse code, especially if they didn’t want [him] to know!”
On 17 August 1942 Peggy de Crespigny became a Sig [Signaller] Wm Gp 2 with SA L of C [South Australian Line of Communications Area]. In July 1943 she attended the LHQ [Land Headquarters] School of Military Intelligence at Southport, Queensland. In December 1943 she was discharged at her own request on compassionate grounds. Peggy’s mother Beatrix had died 11 November 1943.
I was interested to see that the attesting officer on Peggy’s forms was Captain May Douglas. I met May Douglas many years later. She was a friend of my grandmother Kathleen—both played golf—and she was also much involved in the Girl Guides.
Skelly’s journal has the title “A Journal of two Voyages to North America. In his Majesty’s Ship ye Devonshire, From June 1757 to December 1759. Containing the Expedition against Louisbourgh under the Admirals Holburne and Boscowen; with the Reduction of some places of less note after the Surrender of Louisbourgh in the year 1758. The transactions during the winter at Hallifax in 1759–The arrival of Admiral Saunders with a Fleet against Quebec…to the Surrender of Quebec, and our return to England….“. Skelly recorded the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, also known as the Battle of Quebec, on 13 September 1759. Just outside the walls of Quebec City, “the whole line of the enemy soon gave way, ours pushing on with their bayonets till they took to their heels and were pursued with great slaughter to the walls of the town.”
Gordon Skelly passed his lieutenant’s examination on 5 August 1761 and was commissioned as lieutenant on 1 October 1761. He served on several ships, among them HMS Baltimore, where from 10 October 1762 to 3 December 1762 he kept the Lieutenant’s logbooks.
On 10 January 1771 Skelly was appointed commander of the Royal Navy 10 gun sloop Lynx, stationed at Shields in north-east England. He and seven others were drowned there when the ship’s longboat was overturned by breakers when crossing the harbour bar.
Gordon Skelly married Dorothy Harrison on 6 June 1766 at Yarm, Yorkshire, the ceremony conducted his father the Reverend John Skelly, Vicar of Stockton.
They had three children:
Dorothy 1768–1840, mother of Sophia Mainwaring née Duff
His granddaughter Sophia née Duff (1790 – 1824) married Rowland Mainwaring (1783 – 1862).
Yesterday Greg and I drove to Charlton to look at the Wimmera land selected in 1875 by his great great uncles Thomas Edwards (1826 – 1908), James Edwards (1835 – 1916), and John Gilbart Edwards (1829 – 1912).
Last week I had found the properties on the parish plans, through the website of the Public Record Office Victoria. Thomas and James were in Narrewillock Parish north-east of Charlton. Comparing the plan to Google maps I discovered the road adjacent to the property was named—conveniently for us—‘Edwards Road’.
John Gilbart Edwards settled at Yeungroon southwest of Charlton.
We first found the property at Yeungroon, on Five Mile Road. The countryside nearby was in splendid condition after the rain. We stopped to look at a mob of sheep. They had a lot to say, much of it ‘maa’ rather than ‘baa’. Perhaps they were maa lambs, not baa lambs, a different breed.
Afterwards we looked through the Charlton Golden Grains Museum. The volunteers there had sent me a comprehensive list of newspaper articles about the Edwards, including obituaries for Thomas and James. At the museum we saw photos of the Charlton H.E.S. (Higher Elementary School) Basketball team of 1925. A couple of the photographs had the granddaughters of James Edwards Gwen (1910 – 2006) and Freda (1913 – 2008) Edwards in them .
Thomas died in 1908 at Charlton and was buried in Charlton cemetery. James, who died in 1916, was buried in Terrappee cemetery. We found their graves.
Charlton Cemetery is a mile west of the town. From the obituary published in the East Charlton Tribune, which had been shared with us by the Charlton Golden Grains Museum, we knew that Thomas was buried there. At the cemetery is a directory of the site, erected by the Rotary Club, which lists all the graves and their location. The grave of Thomas Edwards has no headstone, but we were able to determine which plot was his by confirming the location of the neighbouring headstone. It is rare to find such a useful finding-aid at a cemetery.
Afterwards we visited the grave of James Edwards at Terrappee Cemetery, about 10 km northeast of Charlton. We knew in advance from FindAGrave that James’s grave there has a headstone.
James’s son Frederick James Edwards is buried next to James. Strangely, his gravestone has the wrong date of death. Frederick James died on 15 December 1974, the date confirmed by his death notice in The Age of 16 December.
Terrappee cemetery is a small bush graveyard, peaceful and calm, surrounded by enormous cultivated paddocks. It has a large peppercorn tree.
Then we found their property, formerly known as “Lamorna”, which had been selected by James and Thomas Edwards. A new crop of wheat had sprouted. James Edwards’s diary recorded that he sowed his first patch of wheat in 1876, a year after his arrival.
From Terrapee we came back to Charlton and after a pleasant roast lunch sitting in the sun on the verandah of the Cricket Club Hotel drove home to Ballarat.