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Alexander STEWART (1831 - 1900)

Alexander STEWART was buried in the Presbyterian cemetery, Rookwood (described in Wikipedia as 'the largest multicultural necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere') in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on 3 September 1900.

He died the previous day in the Rookwood Benevolent Asylum, having succumbed to 'senile decay'. He is described in the death certificate as being 80 years of age and seems thus to have led a hard life for he was in truth only 69.

Alexander was born in the parish of Fodderty, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, on 26 April 1831 and the parish register lists his parents as George STUART and Nelly STUART, residence Cnocknain. Over the years George seemed to move up in the world: a carter (1841 census), a cattleman (1851 census) and an innkeeper (Alexander's wedding registration in 1861) and the 1861 census indicates that he was the hotel keeper at the Admiral Napier Hotel in Cromarty; however, his son's death certificate reduces him to a game keeper.

Alexander appears in the 1841 census, aged 10, living with his parents at Caul Wood in the parish of Contin, Ross and Cromarty. (His parents' marriage on 9 July 1830 is recorded in both the Contin and Fodderty parish registers; it seems George was a native of Contin and Helen (Nelly) of neighbouring Fodderty.) Alexander's siblings are listed as John (8), Margaret (6) and Catherine (3).

At this point it is not clear where Alexander STEWART resided when the 1851 census was held but a groom of that name, aged 19, born in Dingwall (a larger village near Fodderty), is included in the household of John Wilson at 70 Church Street, Inverness. In the same census, his parents resided at Knocknain in the parish of Fodderty, with four of Alexander's younger siblings: Margaret (15), Catherine (13), William (7) and George (5).

The next census was held overnight 7-8 April 1861 and the household at the (Admiral) Napier Hotel in Cromarty is recorded as: George, Hotel Keeper, 60; Helen, 46; Alexander, 26; John, 24; Catherine, 18; William, 16; and George, 14.

It appears that no great care was taken in reckoning one's age for the census.

Later that year, on 27 November 1861, Alexander married Elspeth MUNRO in Inverness. Maybe because the marriage is recorded in a statutory register, Alexander's age is correctly stated as 30. His profession is given as coachman, as it was earlier in the year for the census. His parents are listed as George STEWART, Inn Keeper and Helen STEWART (married surname STEWART). The only oddity is that his usual residence is shown as South Knapdale, which, it would appear, is a parish in Argyll. No other evidence has been found of him leaving Ross and Cromarty to this point.

Shortly after their marriage, Alexander and Elspeth began their long journey to the far side of the world.

George Alexander STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Elspeth (m.s. MUNROE) at Gadgirth in the parish of Coylton, Ayrshire on 28 December 1863.

John STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Alice [sic](m.s. MUNRO) at Cargan in the parish of Troqueer, Kircudbrightshire on 10 October 1865.

At some point in the next three years Alexander and Elspeth left Scotland, for aye.

Jessie STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Elspeth MUNRO on 9 October 1868 and was baptised in the Belgrave Chelsea Presbyterian Church on 24 January 1869. Her parents resided at 11 Rutland Gate Mews in Kensington, London.

Ellen STEWART was born to Alexander, coachman, and Elsped (formerly MUNRO) at Bournside, Hatherley Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on 25 May 1871. The 1871 census was held seven weeks earlier, overnight 2-3 April. The occupants of the coachhouse at Bournside are listed as Alexander, coachman (34), Elspet (32), George Alexander (7), John (5) and Jesse (2). Jesse is identified in the census record as a son, rather than the daughter she later certainly proved to be. The English air seems to have had a remarkable effect on Alexander, for according to the calendar he was nearly 40.

The STEWARTs left England, either from London or Plymouth in April 1872, aboard the clipper Queen of Nations, arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 29 June. The passenger list records them as Alexander (30), Appy (32), George (7), John (5), Jessie (2) and Ellen (1). Again, the voyage seems to have rejuvenated Alexander.

And there, the STEWARTs seem to fade into colonial obscurity. About the only consistent feature of Alexander's journey through life is that he was a coachman (he is even identified as such on his death certificate). One imagines that a coachman could be either like a chauffeur, employed by a household, or a taxi driver, plying for hire, and certainly in the Old Country Alexander seems to have been the former, working his way from estate to estate.

It remains to be discovered how, or even if, he practised his profession in the colonies.

William John JAMES (1866 - 1941)

William John JAMES was born at Wombat Hill, Daylesford, Victoria, Australia on 26 October 1866.

He was the son of Christopher Oates JAMES and Elizabeth nee POLLARD who had emigrated to Australia from Cornwall in the 1850s and joined the gold rush.

William John married Ellen STEWART in Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 21 July 1890 according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church. The JAMES family were Methodists and this suggests a certain calling of the shots by Ellen's side of the family. The STEWARTs were highland Scots and Presbyterians. William John and Ellen had their first child, Elsie May JAMES, on 1 December 1890 so one may assume there was an element of urgency to the marriage. The marriage register records that "The consent of Alexander Stewart Father of the Bride was given to the marriage of Ellen Stewart and William John James the said Ellen Stewart being under the age of Twenty-one years". (She was 19.) A. Stewart and John Stewart (presumably Ellen's father and brother) were listed as witnesses.

At this stage William John is recorded as a grocer.

Elsie May Stewart JAMES died in Enmore, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 6 March 1892. William John is recorded in the death registration as a commercial traveller. A second daughter, Muriel Gladys Munro JAMES, was born in St Kilda, Victoria, Australia on 12 December 1892. William John is recorded as a traveller.

Marjorie Jessie Draper JAMES, the third child, was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia on 7 November 1895. William John is a grocer again.

William John at this stage becomes somewhat settled. He appears in news reports in the local newspaper, the Newcastle Morning Herald, between May 1896 and May 1898. He was president of the Newcastle Shop Employees' Association and president of the Early Closing Movement.

The Newcastle Morning Herald for 21 December 1897 carried a court report in which William John emerges as a "grocer in the employ" of George Henry Ball. William John had pursued a thief and recovered a side of bacon stolen from the shop on 18 December.

[A feature article about Newcastle commerce in the Sydney Mail for 18 September 1897 includes an image of the Ball Bros grocery store in Newcastle. Five men stand at the shop front and two on a balcony above. It is highly probable that one of the five below, four of whom are wearing aprons, is William John.]

According to the Newcastle Morning Herald for 13 July 1898 William John had left the district. Not long before, on 6 March 1898, a fourth child had arrived, Stewart Christopher JAMES.

Then William John vanishes.

In March 1916 Helena JAMES (nee Ellen STEWART) married Ernest HEINER, a solicitor, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. According to the marriage registration Helena was a widow. The marriage was conducted according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church (the HEINERs were Lutherans and Ernest's father had been a well regarded Lutheran pastor in nearby Ipswich). Evidently Ellen was one to get her way. William John and Ellen's second daughter, now known as Gladys (not Muriel) and her husband Alfred Gunn CRAWFORD were witnesses.

Much more happened after that, needless to say. But the most intriguing outcome was the registration of a death at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on 28 July 1941 of a William John JAMES, aged 74, a grocer, born in Daylesford and son of Christopher Oats James and Elizabeth Pollard. His children are listed as Elsie and Marjorie, there being no mention of either Gladys or the son Stewart Christopher who at the time was a prominent citizen of Brisbane.

There are 43 years to account for.