Monday, July 20, 2009

Genealogy Update --- No Convicts, Sad to Say

Having taken his family tree back on both sides back as far as he could, the Old Scientist then turned to mine. I was of little help to him since my knowledge was so scanty. On my father's side, I knew my grandparents, immigrants from Scotland, although funnily enough not their Christian names. But he quickly had all that information, however he needs to pursue the Scottish records to find out more and that awaits him someday.

Of my maternal grandmother, again I knew very little. She was a widow and had been married to a policeman and I have the impression that her husband had died prematurely in the line of duty. She was Nana to me and died when I was a teenager and I didn't know her Christian name either. But the OS is pretty good at this now and he has traced my family on that side back to a certain James Bull, who seems to have been a very early settler in the young Colony of Australia.

Born in Staffordshire, England, in 1780, James Bull came to Australia in 1800, with his wife Ann and their two daughters, with one born on the journey. They "came free" on the Minerva and by 1809 had settled on land at Liverpool, which became known as Bull's Farm. Probably the most interesting thing about this man, was that he died of gunshot wounds in 1822, having been accosted by "ruffians" on the Liverpool Road.

James Bull seems to have been a man of some importance in the young Colony for a book describing the first couple of generations of the family in Australia, was written by one John Franklin, "The Bulls of Bull's Hill near Liverpool, NSW."

Sadly, no convicts have turned up in my family and the same is true for the OS, since his Australian forebear, Thomas Jenkins, born in 1826 in Kent, England, reached Sydney in 1857, on the Matoaka, accompanied by his wife and two children. His was an assisted passage so he must have had some skills which were considered useful and in fact he assumed work at the Berrima Gaol in an unknown capacity.

The Matoaka was a fully rigged sailing ship, built for the migrant trade. A mere 1092 tons, it carried a total of 192 men, 145 women, 91 children and 47 crew members in that tiny space on the journeywhich took many months. Small by today's standards, the ship was built in the USA and was considered the Boeing 747 of its day, designed to carry large numbers of passengers in relative comfort. Mmm. The ship later departed from Lyttleton, New Zealand for London in May of 1869, never to be seen again.

That is as far back as either of us goes in Australia and it seems we came from English stock ,although Thomas Jenkins married a French woman so there is a drop of that blood in the OS.

Like me, he now has a vast network of email correspondents whom he has never met and it would be the pot calling the kettle black if he were to think me odd for that reason.

I guess he may well be turning to my Scottish forebears for his next trick. My maiden name was Gray and while there is a Gray Clan, with the name a Norman one, Grays were also connected to the Stewart family, probably mucking out the stables if the truth be known. I wait with baited breath.


Carver said...

I enjoyed this post. I've never tried to trace my family back but it's interesting to read when people do.

I am interested in learning more about one ancestor in particular but have no idea how to start since I don't know her maiden name. She was an indentured servant from Germany serving a la de dah family in Richmond, Virginia. One of the sons in the lah de dah family married her and they were kicked out of the family and made there way to the NC mountains. She's the ancestor (the indenture servant) I'm most interesting in but probably the hardest to find out about.

Berni said...

Very interesting post. I don't know much about my mothers side of the family at all as her mother died young then her father remarried and then he died and I barely knew my step grandmother at all. My father alienated most of his family so there you go. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise you never know what sort of relatives you are going to turn up.

Ellee Seymour said...

I know someone who traced his ancestors and found a convict. I do have an interesting background on my Greek family side, we are related to the Onassis family.

jmb said...

Hi Carver. Apparently you don't need very much detail at all to start your search. There is lots of information on marriage certificates and death certificates so all you need to find is the marriage cert.

Maybe you are right and we don't want to know but it happened so long ago there is usually no emotional reaction to what you find.

Ellee, the convict in your family tree has become a sort of reverse pride thing with Australians and there is a lot of information now available. I guess you missed out on the money connection with the Onassis family. Too bad.

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

A very interesting family history, jmb. Shame about the lack of convicts!

trishread1 said...

How intersting I found this post as James Bull is my mother in laws
ggg-grandfather! Good luck with your searching, I have found it is a never ending passion for me!