phill on Family Tree Circles
Journals and Posts
The lineage of the Thomas family of Palmerston North, New Zealand: Audrey, Arnold, Neville, Jean, Claude
The Thomas family were fostered by the Mills family of Palmerston North probably in the late 1920s or 1930s
Sorry not enough info in the first post:. The names of William Mills parents in Gloucestershire 1815
WILLIAM was baptised 26 February 1815 in Hampnett, Gloucestershire, England. He married ANN HARRIS and the pair migrated to New Zealand on the Grasmere in 1855 with 5 children disembarking at Lyttelton.
Who am I?
Who am I that peers out through these eyes upon substance, space and time?
Who am I that is aware of my own existence, of being in a particular place and era?
Who am I that is conscious of being unique and distinct from every other object past, present and future?
Who am I that is this mortal state defined by shape and feature with capabilities and limitations?
Who am I that with another contributes to the heritage of generations?
Who am I that is the combination and distillation of generations: the names of some I bear?
Who am I that is aware of a past that has preceded me and a future of which I shall be not be a part, save for a fragment of memory, a photo, a letter in a shoe box, an intimate artefact in a drawer?
Who am I that can imagine an existence beyond this existence?
Who am I? What is my purpose here? Is it more than to fill my belly and propagate?
What is that part of who I am that drives a curiosity to know the past and guess at the future?
Who am I?
Aspects of I.(Ira?) A. Cohen's semi-poetic reflection (possibly even an entreaty) on the nature and substance of self is in my mind a reasonable starting point to consider the question of "Who am I and where did I come from?"
Most of the questions that Cohen poses are unanswerable in an empirical sense. These questions drift towards the discipline of philosophy and perhaps even metaphysics so this is not the place to explore them. At an abstract level the best these questions can hope for is to be translated to the more tentative question of "Who do I think I am?" which relies on the internal process of thinking, the products of which may be less amenable to direct verification.
At a more tangible level "Who do I think I am?" is an apt starting point for a genealogical study so Cohen's questions that do resonate well with the study of family are those relating to the "...combination and distillation of generations: the names of some we bear" and "... with other contributes to the heritage of generations?"
Part of the answer to Cohen's question "Who am I?" can be found in the study of family and the narratives we build although applying the research and parsimony that sound study demands we proceed with caution because we did not experience their times or observed their lives directly or find the means to verify some of the official and unofficial records they left us.
Our ancestors will also have felt their uniqueness and possibly pondered the question of "Who am I?" and I'm sure our successors will do likewise. In one sense with memories, artefacts and DNA our ancestors are with us still. Their legacy lies within our cellular makeup, in the photographs they leave, the family anecdotes, official records, newspaper cuttings and so on.
On the 18 January 1943 a boy was born in a nursing home operated by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, Christchurch, New Zealand. The boy was named Phillip Alan PRIEST (Certificate of Birth issued by the Order of Sisters). His given name of Phillip was from his father Stanley Philip William PRIEST who in turn may have been named Philip after his step grandfather Philip Coffin, (ref.,"The Wake of the Steadfast", a family history volume 1981, contents organiser, Jenni Pashby). The name Alan was from his maternal uncle, Alan Mills.
Departing for awhile from a straight genealogical account I pondered the birth that placed this boy within a particular family, at this time and in that place. I found it interesting to consider the series of "accidents" which gave rise to this boy in a certain family line and vaguely considered the statistical probabilities associated with these accidents which I am unable to calculate except to say that they would be infinitesimal. To put it another way the challenges to viability starting at the cellular level on the way to birth and life as a separate and distinct being named "Phillip" would compare with the world's largest lotteries.
Consider that each of us exists, biologically speaking, as the result of an amazing and magnificent "lottery" where a couple of people meet at random and one gamete from a female from among thousands that she will produce in her lifetime is fertilised by a single gamete from a male from amongst millions. This meeting of gametes progresses from zygote, embryo, foetus to neonate. But this progression may not be straightforward or without mishap.
The lottery of life continues when one considers that even in the western world the viability of the organism may be challenged by agents as it develops e.g., chromosomal anomalies and the invasions that can occur within, say, the foetus's environment. The statistics regarding miscarriage may vary according to who is being cited but amazing pregnancy.com gives the following guides. "Almost 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the majority occurring during the first twelve weeks." These figures analysed more closely suggest that there is a 75% chance of miscarriage in the first two weeks from conception, a 10% chance in weeks three to six dropping to 5% during weeks six to twelve. After twelve weeks the chance drops to 3%. From 20 weeks onwards it is no longer considered a miscarriage but a spontaneous abortion.
The lottery doesn't stop at this point either because where you live in the world may be considered a product of chance. The fortunate few, relatively speaking, are the ones born in societies with comparative affluence, accessible sources of energy to operate appliances, accessible education to an advanced level, efficient public health measures, modern acute remedial health practices and facilities, efficient transport and communication infrastructure, the production and access to fresh produce.
The lottery continues in terms of the temporal dimension (being born in the twentieth century offers a longer life expectancy than say being born in the sixteenth century) and where we lodge in the birth order.
The final stage in this lottery are the family lines/names we assume as part of our birthright. Even then we are unique in that gamete pairings from the same sources produce different physical results. We only need to observe our siblings to ascertain this from their sex to skin and hair colouring.
So each of us is here, the outcome of an amazing lottery, having conquered enormous odds just to be born; and that one step further, within a particular family line.
In Phillip the combination and distillation of DNA and names stretch back through his paternal side from Stanley Philip William(father), Stanley Evered Priest and Selina Isabella Jarden (grandparents), William Priest and Catherine Ellen Hammond (great grandparents), Philip Coffin (step great grandfather, [Catherine married twice]), Elizabeth Anne Harris and James Hammond (great great grandparents), Robert Harris and Mary Anne [also known as Mary Elizabeth] Hall (g/g/g/grandparents).
Elizabeth Anne was the eldest child of Robert and Mary Harris.
Robert and Mary Harris seem to have lived in Middlesex and more specifically South Hackney. The fact that their last child born in London, Richard, was born in a workhouse indicates a family of very humble means. And typical of the times they were illiterate. The Harris family migrated to the Banks Peninsula, New Zealand in 1851 on board the "Steadfast" which anchored off Lyttleton on the 9 June,1851. Robert is buried at Governor's Bay and Mary at Little River. Both graves have been restored through family subscription.
It is interesting to note that James Hammond and Elizabeth Anne Harris had the banns of marriage published for the last time on board the "Steadfast" on the 25 May 1851. The ship's surgeon, Dr Gundry kept a journal and amongst his duties was to read the morning service in steerage at 1100 a.m. It seems that when Dr Gundry was approached about the possibility of marrying the loving couple he refused. His journal reads "... I must refuse to do so , as if I read the service it would mean no marriage in the light (author's note: could this be "sight") of God and, having no legal authority by man to do so, the marriage would itself not be legal, and would be causing two people to sin."
A steerage passenger by the name of Smith but dubbed "Commodore" and something of an eccentric, albeit an educated one, wrote the following verses which may have summed up life as experienced on the "Steadfast" at least by those who travelled in steerage:
FAREWELL TO THE STEADFAST
Farewell to the Steadfast, for ever farewell!
I leave with pleasure, that no tongue can tell;
In the new homes we seek, may we all happy be,
From malice, and slander, and misery free.
They say there is pleasure, on land and on sea,
But on sea, such has not been allotted to me,
But, the petty tyrants we've met, will soon be on shore,
Where I hope they and I, shall never meet more.
The wile of kind Providence, ordained I should roam,
In a far foreign land, to seek a new home;
With pleasure I hail it, and the truth I will tell,
Farewell to the Steadfast, for ever farewell.
It should be added that the "Commodore" often asserted that Captain Spencer was sailing in the wrong direction and made his own calculations as to their position and once was found by them to be sailing across Central Africa and at another time somewhere near the South Pole.
Know very little about William Priest at this stage but it is thought that "Whittaker" and perhaps "Leslie" were names that were passed down and it is believed, but by no means confirmed, that a Francis Whittaker Priest, mariner of Yorkshire, was an ancestor.
Researching into Phillip's paternal grandmother's line starting with Selina Isabel (as spelt in a copy of the marriage certificate, "Isobel" in the family history "The Wake of the Steadfast" and "Isabella" on a copy of her birth certificate) Jarden was the daughter of James Jarden and Catherine Elizabeth Rogers. Catherine was born in Kent, England and James in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I know little of this side of the family at present but there are some Jarden family researchers who also subscribe to Family Tree Circles and I shall be following their efforts.
A footnote is that one of the Jarden researchers cites Catherine and Isabella as names in the family tree so it could be that "Isabella" is the correct spelling of Selina's second name.
The maternal family lines of Phillip are Rita Muriel Mills (mother), Frank Henry Mills and Effie Muriel Scadden (grandparents).
Following the Mills line and their spouses from Frank Henry are George Mills and Alice Maria Smart (great grandparents), Charlie Pope (step great grandfather [Alice Maria married twice]), William Mills (born abt 26.2.1815; died 27.10.1904) and Anne Harris (born abt.8.2.1918;died 7.10.1890)(great great grandparents).
William and Anne Mills arrived at Lyttleton on the "Grasmere" in 1855 and George was born in Christchurch and Frank Henry at Styx, north of Christchurch.
Following Frank Henry's mother's line viz. the Smart line, Alice Maria was the daughter of Edmund Smart and Sarah Jane Cox (great great grandparents), Frances (Meek) Pentecost (step great great grandmother [Edmund married twice]), William Smart and Sarah Willson (g/g/g grandparents), William Smart and Sarah Page (g/g/g/g grandparents).
There is a little puzzle here as it seems that Edmund's second wife's son (a Pentecost) married a Smart, possibly one of Edmund's daughters.
William Smart (g/g/g grandparent) born about 1805 in the town of Moulton, Northamptonshire is coincidentally the county where the Hunt line of my wife's family came from, in Ashton. Moulton is on the outskirts of Northampton to the north and Ashton is a few kilometres to the south of the same city.
Following the maternal grandmother's (Effie Muriel's) line on her father's side and their spouses are George William Scadden and Phoebe Hutching (Hutchins? The spelling of the name appears to have changed over time) (great grandparents), George William Chard Scadden and Elizabeth Hodges (great great grandparents), William Warren Scadden and Elizabeth Chard (g/g/g grandparents), Robert Scadden and Sheba Warren (g/g/g/g grandparents).
George William Chard and Elizabeth landed at Wellington on the "Forfarshire" in 1873 as part of an assisted immigration scheme, moved to Masterson to live and where they are buried.
Tracing Effie Muriel's family on her mother's side is Stephen Hutching and Maria ? (parents of Phoebe) (great great grandparents), William Hutching (mispelling of Hutchins probably) and Anne Brown (g/g/g grandparents). William and Anne were illiterate and their marriage certificate is marked with crosses in place of signatures.
Phoebe and her family sailed to New Zealand on the "Helen Denny".
The above family names will appear in different family chapters but they are listed here to provide a sense of Phillip's ancestry. the rest of this chapter will focus more on the Priest, Hammond and Harris lines.
The following is Phillip, the author's, version of the family narrative.
First, the etymology of the name "Priest". The Penguin Book of Surnames...
One of the certainties of life is there are no certainties; just probabilities and some may say that we aren't even certain about that. This observation seems particularly apt when considering the BRUSEY family for this narrative. Little that is related here is done with any certainty or confidence in the veracity of the material presented.
The BRUSEY and HUNT families became linked when Eliza Ann BRUSEY became the second wife of George HUNT, widower, father of four (one deceased) and senior partner in the drapery firm of Hunt, Corry and Co., Adelaide, with branches in Western Australia.
First, the name BRUSEY is uncommon in this region to the extent that it is not listed in the Adelaide telephone directory of 2010. It has been suggested that the name originates in Devon, U.K., and more precisely, Brixham, (Yorvick, RootsChat) a coastal town with its major commerce split between fishing and farming with tourism being a more recent addition.
Eliza's parents were likely to have been Samuel BRUSEY and Mary Ann BICE. Samuel was born about 1826 and Mary about 1831.
Samuel and Mary Ann were married at St Pauls Church, St Vincent Street, Port Adelaide on the 31.5.1852. Samuel was 26 years and Mary Ann 21 years. It seems the couple had a son, John, in 1852 and Eliza in 1854. Since neither John's nor Eliza's births seem to have been registered there could have been other children similarly unregistered and possibly a brother called Samuel for reasons that will be clearer later in this narrative. Mary Ann is listed as BRICE in the Kindred Konnections website at the marriage of her and Samuel.
There is the possibility that Samuel and Mary Ann were not the parents of the Eliza Ann who married George HUNT.
The records that I hold indicate that Eliza Ann was born in Balhannah, a small village in the hills above Adelaide, South Australia.
While Samuel's occupation was stated as being a mariner domiciled in Port Adelaide there is a question of what his occupation would have been if he was living in Balhannah, this being a rural community with primary production and ancillary services being the major occupations on offer. The less likely possibility would have been that Samuel remained in Port Adelaide to pursue his occupation while Mary entered domestic service in Balhannah.
Being a mariner would probably have equipped Samuel for manual or semiskilled work in a rural community if he had chosen to live in Balhannah and where his wife could also find work if need be.
The records contain little of Samuel's origins. His parents' names appear to have been Thomas and Mary (maiden name unknown) and that he was born in Devonshire. When he arrived in South Australia is unclear. As he probably arrived in Adelaide as a seaman his name would not appear in the ships' passenger manifests of the time.
There is a Samuel BRUSEY recorded in the census, year of registration 1849, in the district of Newton Abbot in the county of Devon (vol 10 page 10). Newton Abbot is a market town and civil parish in the Teignbridge District of Devon on the River Teign. If this is the Samuel BRUSEY who is the father of Eliza Ann it would suggest that he came to South Australia at about the same time as Mary Ann (1849) perhaps even on the same ship where he possibly served as a seaman and after his name was entered on the census of 1849 in Devon.
As for Samuel's forebears and taking a rather long shot there is a Thomas BRUSEY who appears to have been the son of Richard BRUSEY (b. abt. 1805) and married to Mary (b. abt.1804) and listed in the civil parish of East Ogwell, Devon (census of abt . Richard and Mary had a number of children James 18 yrs, Thomas, 11 yrs, Arriot, 5 yrs (disregard this para for the time being need to find out if Richard and Mary were 46 and 47 respectively in 1805 or were born about that time).
However this Samuel BRUSEY may not be the Samuel BRUSEY who married Mary Ann. There is a Samuel BRUSEY in Victorian records of deaths (specifically in Springdallah) who was listed as a miner and died as the result of an accident 24 May 1867. He is reported as being the son of Thomas and Mary of Devonshire, married to Elizabeth Bryce in Adelaide at the age of 28 years and with a child whose name and age is unknown.
Now it is thought that Eliza's mother was Mary Ann not Elizabeth which could suggest a number of alternative explanations: that this was not the Sam BRUSEY who fathered Eliza; that the Victorian records were not accurate when it came to recording family details and had mistakenly entered Elizabeth and not Mary Ann; similarly the name Bryce was entered instead of Bice and the lack of certainty about any children and their names.
If this is the Samuel BRUSEY who was Mary Ann's husband it would appear that he left his family in South Australia. In the Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, U.K., N.Z., and Foreign Ports 1852-1901 there is a listing in the name of BRUSEY, S. 27 years, on the "Cleopatra II" departed Melbourne April 1853 for Adelaide. Samuel BRUSEY also appears to have spent some time in hospital (Ballarat Hospital Admissions Register 1856-1913)from the 12 July 1860 aged 37 years, labourer.
Intriguingly, "The Argus" Melbourne 2 May 1855 lists under the heading "List of non-returnable letters detained for postage, to be applied for at the Dead Letter Office" item 3386 a letter "Brusey, Saml, Ballarat 6d". This would indicate that Samuel spent periods in Victoria working, perhaps mining, in Ballarat and commuting to Adelaide periodically.
The dead letter is tantalising. We can apply our imaginations here and suggest that the letter commenced with interspousal pleasantries, endearments and an indication that the distance between them was painful and then moving on to news such as confirming a pregnancy or announcing a birth, a request for money or a plea to return to Adelaide or there may have been a less pleasant exchange as it may have been the case that Mary and Samuel had separated.
Peter Matthews, a family researcher, informs that Samuel was buried at Smythesdale cemetery.
The mines around Springdallah were deep lead mines i.e., the mining of ancient deeply buried river beds. It involved sinking a shaft till it hit the old riverbed gravels and the gravels were mined horizontally until the distance from the verical shaft made the mining too difficult whereupon a new vertical shaft would be sunk and the mining recommenced. The work was carried out in wet conditions as these were old riverbeds and often the rock would be soft and hence falls of earth would be common.
The following is supplied Joan E. Hunt, Councillor, Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Amongst providing detail it also indicates the altered spellings of names entered on records and hence the difficulty in tracking records of individuals.
"Samuel BRUSEY is entered in the index to burials at Smythesdale cemetery as Samuel Brusy. He is 42 years of age, and lived at Piggoreet. He was a miner, and his religion was Church of England. He is buried in section 1 which is the Church of England section in grave number 121. The date of burial was 26 May 1867. His parents were Thomas and Mary Bruty (sic) according to the Burials CD compiled by the Smythsdale Cemetery Trust last year (2009). So that's the entry in the index which was taken from the burial register, with reference to the Pioneer Index for his parent's names which also shows that he was born in Devonshire (reg. no. 7079).
In the index to coroner's inquests, Samuels' inquest is entered as Samuel BENSEY. He died from a fall of earth at Piggoreet (ref. 388).
Piggoreet and Springdallah are one and the same. In 1860 the names were often interchangeable. Piggoreet no longer exists and the site is about midway between Scarsdale and Cape Clear. The general district is now known as Springdallah, although there is not now or ever has been an actual township called Springdallah except for a few years in the early 1860s when Piggoreet was called that. The townships in the Springdallah area were Golden Lake, Happy Valley, Lucky Woman's, Grand Trunk, Derwent Jacks, Piggoreet and Dreamer's Hill."
It appears that Mary Ann was a widow at 39 years and married Thomas LEITCH, aged 52 years at the residence of James CRAWFORD, Port Adelaide, 25 December 1869.
Mary Ann's origins seem a little clearer. A Mary Ann and Johanna "BRICE" appear in the steerage passenger list of the "Himalaya" which left London on the 1.8.1849 arriving at Port Adelaide on the 16.11.1849. It seems probable that the name "BRICE" was a misspelling of "Bice" and given that illiteracy was a common feature of the time it therefore would not have been noted and corrected by the young ladies in question. It is further noted that Johanna's first names were Johanna Dorothea Christiana.
Johanna BICE'S name appears in the Cornwall baptism records of 1830/31, 30 May as being the daughter of Archelaus and Mary Ann. Her sister, Mary Ann's name, appears in the baptism records of 5 June 1832 although there seems to be a change in the father's name to Hercules (Gwennap-opc.com). Whether Archelaus and Hercules were one and the same is unclear but in either event the parents must have had a heightened sense of the heroic, applying names that attached to one of the Herods of Judea in the former name and a part-god of Greco-Roman mythology in the latter.
It seems that the girls' father was deceased by 1851 and their mother remarried in 1869.
The sisters had older brothers: Hercules baptised 10.10.1824; John baptised 20.11.1825.
It is surprising to consider that two teenage girls would set out, leave family, travel unescorted, knowing that, in all likelihood, they were on a one-way trip to the Antipodes but this does appear to be the case. They must be regarded as having resolve, a sense of adventure, self-assurance and possession of competent life skills. One could draw an expansive comparison with other precocious teenagers such as Jessica Watson who sailed single-handedly nonstop around the world at age 16 years.
What is known is that during the time of the girls' migration there were big campaigns featured in newpapers encouraging people to migrate. Free passage or reduced fares were offered to able-bodied young people. Often certain occupations were targeted. As South Australia was not a penal colony it was a sought after destination and people jumped at the chance of a better life. Johanna and Mary Ann more than likely answered one of these advertisements. Female servants were always in demand (krisesjoint, Rootschat).
Upon disembarkation in Port Adelaide reference to Johanna seems to fade from view although this could alter upon further investigation.
The conundrums around The BRUSEY family have not yet been exhausted. Eliza Ann BRUSEY is recorded as marrying George HUNT at the residence of Samuel BRUSEY, Adelaide on the 13.4.1876. This is nine years after the death of Samuel BRUSEY in Springdallah and seven years after Samuel's widow married Thomas LEITCH.
Now the residence of a deceased Samuel would not still be known as the residence of Samuel BRUSEY. The most compelling theory would be that there was a son, Samuel, of Mary Ann and Samuel snr. If for instance there was a son, Samuel, it could be speculated that he was born around 1855-57 and hence would have been around 20 years of age at the time of his sister, Eliza Ann's, wedding. He may have had property at this stage and in particular the property where the marriage took place.
It may have also been the case that Thomas LEITCH had died by this time and the property bought by the young Samuel or willed to him by his stepfather with provision for Mary Ann to have a life interest in the property.
A further possibility is that both Thomas and Mary Ann were dead at the time of Eliza's wedding and the property passed into a young Samuel's possession.
At this point, the life of Eliza Ann becomes linked with the HUNT family of South Australia (formerly of Northamptonshire, U.K.). The outcomes of this relationship can be explored through entering "The HUNT family of South Australia (formerly of Northamptonshire, U.K.)" in a search engine.
Selina Isabel (Isabella? Isobel?) JARDEN was my paternal grandmother's maiden name. She married STANLEY EVERED PRIEST and they had six children: my father STANLEY PHILIP WILLIAM, NEIL, EDNA, OLA, QUONA, SHIRLEY. The family were resident in Christchurch, NZ, for a significant part of their lives, with STANLEY EVERED and SELINA ISABEL living just off St Andrews Hill Road, Mount Pleasant before gravitating to the North Island of New Zealand, principally Tauranga.
I know very little about the JARDEN side of the family. The only JARDEN known to me is RONALD, my father's cousin, who was an All Black winger in the late 1940s and early 1950s and founded a stockbroking house in Wellington in the late 1960s early 1970s.
Anyone who can advance my knowledge of the JARDENS I would be grateful to hear from
When nostalgia takes hold, it bites hard and invites slow rumination as the past is recommitted for contemplation and redigestion. (a note to myself: never let an ageing psychologist with novelistic pretensions write the family narrative.)
On a warm Saturday in midsummer, being the 14 January 1922, a couple were married and a new family line was begun. The bride was a widow and mother of three daughters and a son; the groom, a bachelor and man-about-town whose comings and goings were noted in the personal pages of "The Advertiser" newspaper, Adelaide, from time to time.
What was the mutual attraction against a background that would have possibly imposed some difficulties/obstacles during the courtship and probable family opposition to the marriage? (more on this later).
First it seems that the woman played the straight and serious character against the comic spirit of the man. Secondly, first hand accounts and observations describe a woman who was a competent home manager and organiser and, one suspects, a person of determined nature once her mind was set on something. The man on the other hand was perhaps less committed by force of circumstances to be too serious about anything regarding the unfolding of his life.
Remarkably however by the accounts I have received it was the start of a very contented union perhaps spiced a little by the "attraction of opposites". The one a little mysterious, shaped in the school of harsh realities, perhaps an adept schemer/planner and serious, the other carefree, open and humourous.
The bride was Mabel Annie CONWAY (nee RAGGATT) and the groom, Claude Leslie HUNT, the place; the residence of a Baptist minister, the Rev. W.G. Clarke at Unley Park (reg #290/98)(a posh suburb of Adelaide). It is recorded that the groom was 26 years and the bride 31 years although there may be some challenge to the accuracy of these ages as indeed to other points that will arise in this narrative.
Why marry in a Baptist manse when the bride was Roman Catholic and the groom a Methodist? Well, apart from some churches' reluctance or downright opposition to solemnise so-called "mixed marriages" and then only under very strict conditions as to where the ceremony could take place; the commitment to the particular faith the church required with respect to children of the marriage, this act of Mabs and Claude was possibly made necessary by family opposition, or was their own declaration of independence from any family constraints.
While Claude's background in summary can be found in the pages of the HUNT family history and appears straightforward, Mabel's (Mabs) is a little more tortuous and will require some delicate handling around a number of points.
But first it is thought useful to digress and sketch in some background about Mabs and her first husband, Herbert Ignatius CONWAY.
Bert and Mabs married on the 24 May 1906, when the groom was given as 20 years and the bride 19 years, at St Francis Xaviour Cathedral, Adelaide. The groom's parents were named as Patrick John CONWAY and Theresa (nee GOTTWATTZ). The bride's parents were named as Herbert Daniel RAGGATT and Alice Mary Gertrude (nee CONNOLLY).
The young couple appear to have had three children in South Australia ?? before moving to Victoria. The South Australian children born ?? in birth order were Mabel Teresa Alice, born 25 December 1906, Marie Genevieve born, 19 November 1908, and Herbert Vincent, 2 December 1910. The extended family seems to have no knowledge of Herbert Vincent who appears to have died on 7 December 1910 after five days.
Bert and Mabs moved to Victoria where according to electoral rolls they were living successively at Maribyrnong, Ascot Vale 1914; Maribyrnong, Newmarket 1919; 14 Wellington Street, Flemington, Victoria, also 1919. Bert died in Heidelberg, Victoria in a military hospital aged 36 years in 1921. It is quite probable that Bert did not leave a will.
While in Victoria the couple had two more children?? Desmond and Bonaventure (Bonnie). Some dates and places of birth for these last two children are yet to be confirmed.
Having come this far the family history becomes a little puzzling on a number of fronts.
First, Mabs' forenames. It seems that she was christened Sophia Annie Mabel RAGGATT. However when Mabs came to marry Bert she was titled Mabel Sophia RAGGATT; at her wedding to Claude she was Mabel Annie CONWAY, widow. There are a number of possible reasons why there are changes across these events.
It is very likely her parents wished to incorporate some of the names common to the families involved hence the three first names.
On the other hand Mabs may have thought that three forenames was a bit of a mouthful, even pretentious so shortened it to two. It seems that she liked the name Mabel which lent itself to the warm-sounding Mabs, so retained this as her preferred form of address. Her taste for the name Sophia over Annie appears to have diminished over time and she opted for Annie as her second forename in later life.
It, of course, may also have been a symbolic gesture to change to Annie when she married Claude effectively to mark the beginning of her new life with him. There are other reasons for name changes which are more subtle and would impute a degree of calculation of which Mabs may not have been capable, conscious of, or interested in performing.
Secondly, there is a little confusion over the issue of age in the official records. It would appear that Mabs was born 24 September 1887. It was recorded that she was 19 years when she married Bert CONWAY. While this birthdate loosely corresponds with that event it would be more accurate to say that she was 18 years.
When Mabs marries Claude in 1922 her age is stated as 31 and Claude's 26. Given that her birthdate is 1887 her age would be closer to 35 and Claude's, 28, suggesting a seven year gap rather than five.
I guess these anomalies around age were understandable at the time to soften the age gap between herself and Claude. In any event the age gap didn't seem to matter to Claude and that was all that was really important.
Thirdly, and this is the most puzzling of all, there is the birth registered of Herbert Charles Archibald CONWAY (29.11.1905) died 4.12.1905. The parents seem to be have been Mabel Sophie and Herbert Ignatius. Mabel would have just turned 18 years at the time.
The birth and death of Herbert Charles after five days and the apparent birth and death of Herbert Vincent in 1910 after five days must have seemed eerily disconcerting and distressing for the young couple.
Gathering the information about Mabs from first hand accounts and anecdotes reveals a woman with a quite remarkable bunch of qualities: mental strength, stoicism, loyalty, energy, artistic, inventive, creative, strong work ethic to name a few. A genuine "roll your sleeves up and get down to work" type of person.
These qualities seem to stand in contrast to the physicality of the woman. Mabs was of diminutive stature who blossomed into a more robust figure in later life partly due to the number of children she bore, the attentive support of a devoted Claude and her own skills in the area of food preparation.
One touching account which provides a summary attestation of her qualities resides in the anecdote about the young Mabs with four children, immediate post WWI years, her husband in hospital (presumably in the terminal stages of his condition) herself being forced to earn the family income which she did as a barmaid and only being able to afford to buy an orange to take to the stricken Bert. She also endeavoured to keep Bert supplied with cigarettes and tobacco.
To describe Mab's finanical situation as dire during this period seems to accurately describe the challenges she faced. One of her daughters outlines Mab's sewing a "twopenny" blouse for the purposes of being presentable in her workplace.
The occasion of Mabs' and Claude's meeting is uncertain but it appears that a mutual friend introduced them.
While we, two generations later, cannot know precisely the occasion of their meeting, what the courtship constituted and how they formed their decision to marry, we can speculate about what the nature of the mutual attraction may have been. These assessments being based on the sort of people they were.
We can look at the factors in Mabs' and Claude's backgrounds which would have shaped them and their lives i.e., their life experiences, behaviour, decisions, preferences, attitudes. It is possible to describe what each of them would have seen at the first meeting and gathered at subsequent meetings, what each of them assessed as the needs and qualities in the other as the relationship progressed and how these may have been calculated to complement their own. Granted, to you, the reader, the following owes more to the methods and imagination of a novelist than objectivity and parsimony of a scientist but this does not totally invalidate the commentary in my view.
Claude was comfortably placed financially, the seventh child of a second marriage, the son of Methodist parents (his father being a trustee of the Kent Town Wesleyan Methodist Church), had attended a private Methodist boys' school (Prince Alfred College), owned an automobile, had been orphaned at the age of 17 years (it is not known at the moment where he lived from about 19 years onwards or who acted as a guardian/protector until he reached 21 and perhaps beyond [possibly his half sister, Edith Guthrie fulfilled this function] or what his occupation(s) were/was), had experienced the commodious family estate being sold and subdivided, was a member of the South Australian Cricket Association (a reasonably prestigious body).
What is less clear is the nature of Claude's relationship with other members of his family (siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, particularly). (I am uncertain what the Methodist form of Protestantism meant in terms of taboos and expectations in Claude's day apart from attending services and Sunday School).
With regard to his ambitions in the area of occupation there is a suggestion that he expressed interest in wool-classing. He may have studied in this area and practised at it. Such occupation was not, I understand, a family-approved venture and this could have been a cause of friction with other members of the family who may have thought that his Prince Alfred College education was not being put to best use, amongst other reasons, such as the standing of said occupation in the community and perhaps the implications for the rest of the family in the opinions of others.
However wool-classing would have been an occupation with a future given that much of South Australia's economy was based on agriculture and particularly sheep husbandry. The firms of Elder Smith and Michell were two that would have provided scope.
Claude at 27 years (about the age Claude met Mabs) may have become a little jaded by the social scene, preoccupations of his contemporaries and the young women who formed the set from which marital selection would be expected to be made. (It is probable that when Claude finally decided on his marital partner there would have been a few disappointed women amongst his social set or to put it another way a few dispirited maidens/women when he exited the single life). (There appears to be no knowledge about any previous love interests that Claude may have had).
Mabs was possibly the fourth child of six of Herbert and Alice. It seems that she was one of two daughters of this union. Her sister, Millicent was known as "Mil" (listed in the family tree). At some point Herbert and Alice divorced and Herbert married Myrtle and had another six children. At this stage it is not known what effects these circumstances had on Mabs but it has been suggested that the relationship with the stepmother was a little taut.
An aside is that Aunty Mil, according to two of her nieces, was a bit of a rough diamond, extremely forthright and with a colouful vocabulary and with little patience for those who populated her world.
Mabs' family was Roman Catholic and so divorce of her parents, if they had been faithful adherents, would have been viewed as a major catastrophe and remarriage unthinkable. It seems therefore that Catholicism would have been a nominal faith in this family circle given that priests had significant sway among the faithful and only muted (if any) influence among the less committed.
Mabs married at a young age, 18 years (perhaps not so unusual for the time). She appears to have had six children with four surviving infancy. Her husband, Bert, seems to have contracted tuberculosis which at that period was largely a terminal condition and so the burden of care and raising four children would have been great. Mabs would have been very much fashioned by these grave difficulties. In addition to these responsibilities she needed to have employment to sustain her family and provide a modicum of support for Bert who eventually entered a hospital towards the end of his life.
Mabs at the time of meeting Claude would have been recently widowed and may be described as being in poor financial circumstances to the point of being labelled impecunious or indigent. However her creativeness, flair and style probably would have allowed her to cover her circumstances with a resolute grace and distinction.
At the first sighting of Claude, Mabs would have observed a tall young man (well over six feet by reports), perhaps coming across as not being too hard-pressed by life's exigencies. A young man who enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle. Perhaps a little bored by his social milieau, standing on this occasion a little apart from the social group. Perhaps he was puffing on his pipe and the aromatic smell of Arcadia tobacco wafted around the vicinity where he stood. There may have been something of the "lost boy" about him which aroused some nurturing feelings. This is not to say that Mabs was looking to add another child to her family.
Anyway Mabs was impressed by this young fellow at first sight and asked a friend who Claude was. Apparently this question was followed up with the friend, who was a mutual friend, obliging Mabs with an introduction.
Claude, for his part, would have seen a diminutive woman. Not necessarily classed as a physical beauty but imbued with an attractiveness and vivaciouness which made her interesting. Upon opening up conversation with her, he would have detected a woman perhaps quite a bit different from the ladies who usually populated his set.
He would have noted a woman with a considerable life experience behind her and one who could tackle life's challenges as they came, whereas the women who populated his set would not have been confronted with anywhere near, if any, of the same challenges or hardening experiences that life could throw at them (these days we refer to such experiences as "character building"). These differences in the woman that stood before him could have been a little tantalising to the young Claude. Perhaps there was a little bit of the "mothering" about her which Claude may have warmed to and of which he may well have been in need as his older half sister to whom he seemed close i.e., Edith Guthrie HUNT (m.1 Albert George Scrymgour; m.2 Henry Charles Wilson Pearce) had died some years earlier in 1920.
Claude possibly became aware that Mabs was recently widowed with four children, the eldest being about 16 years. He also may have realised that she was a bit older than he. It is thought that these details may not have emerged during the occasion of their first meeting but on the other hand Mabs may well have been game enough to risk it by revealing these details.
Moving from the physical aspects of each which would have impressed at first meeting, one can speculate about what each was looking for, maybe subconsciously, as part of any future personal scheme. And further it is possible to estimate or suggest what financial and other physical resources, skills and attitudes each had and thus assemble a picture of what each brought to the relationship. That is to say what these attributes would have encouraged in each.
Mabs could have been looking for a partner who would bring security or certainty to her own circumstances as a widow and mother of four, as well as being a congenial companion for her. Claude would have received ticks on both counts.
Claude's reaction to Mabs' circumstances may have been along the lines of a small woman who could use some protection and support; a situation with which he could relate from his own history but at the same time the perception of a resilient "tough" woman who knew her mind and could supply a steady supportive home environment and a kind of security that Claude could well have been looking for at this stage of his bachelorhood.
What each of them brought to the relationship is already implicit, if not explicit, in the narrative so far. A very telling point recalled by one of their grandchildren is that they were both "warm" people and this above all else may have been the essence for their successful relationship which spanned 36 years and ended when Mabs died of colorectal cancer in 1958.
Mabs would have brought a steadiness and practicality; she had already managed a household, cared for a sick and dying husband. These qualities would have offset the somewhat rarified atmosphere, easy going and if not directionless lifestyle that we suspect Claude and his cohort lived in. Claude we guess was ready for a change.
Claude for his part was attracted to Mabs and brought some physical security and by the age of 27 some masculine companionship and personal maturity.
The fanciful picture as painted above of Mabs and Claude aside, they seemed to have come to a rapid conclusion about their compatibility. Given that there was less than a year from the death of Bert to Mabs marrying Claude we can assume that from their first meeting they soon became engaged and set a date to be married.
The family myths manifest themselves in anecdotes but one is worth mentioning at this point: Claude's marriage proposal. One family member recalled that Mabs related that Claude asked her to marry him one afternoon. Mabs, ever the practical one; not one to become "dewy-eyed" at the proposal and deducing that Claude may have been affected by a little more than the woman that was holding his interest, suggested that he go home and phone her in the morning if he still felt the same way and repeat the proposal. Claude with a clearer head in the morning did indeed phone and repeated the proposal whereupon Mabs accepted.
Now for another presumptuous departure into the realms of the novel not knowing any of the parties mentioned here first hand; relying on guesswork about the conventions, mores that operated at the time of Mabs and Claude's meeting; the moods and feelings they may have personally experienced and those of their families and friends.
Two aspects may have added a further note of irritation to the families, particularly Claude's. First that Mabs had proceeded with what, some at the time, would have considered disrespectful/undue haste following the death of Bert and secondly that the courtship with Claude was indecently short, not allowing Claude time to properly evaluate his suit. That Mabs had, as the older, more experienced person in the relationship, somehow schemed, beguiled and "trapped" Claude into the marriage. Even the less charitable amongst the observers, of course behind closed hands and in whispers, may have suggested that lust over sound judgement had been exercised. And the least charitable may have suggested that she was just gold digging and stepping out of her allotted place in life. This is all pure conjecture of course. (There is some evidence that the RAGGATTS or least some branches of the family were also very comfortably placed in terms of their material wealth).
It seems that whatever wealth had come Claude's way had attenuated after the first few years of marriage. It is hard to fathom whether it was dissipated through an extravagant lifestyle, unsound investments but the family circumstances did require that Claude seek employment.
What did become of Claude's undoubted considerable inheritance is a question that must often pose itself in the minds of the family. Upon marrying Mabs it would appear that he did invest some of this in his stepchildren's and children's education.
(There is a saying that is descriptive in nature rather than explanatory: The first generation of a family starts an enterprise, the second generation expands and consolidates it and the third generation dissipates it. Claude would not have known hardship in his early years and would have perhaps taken his fortunate circumstances for granted.)
Desmond attended Prince Alfred College as did his stepfather and the girls attended Cabra College (a Dominican school).
An interesting aside here is that in the case of so-called mixed marriages an unwritten convention seems to have been that the boys of the marriage would attend schools nominated by their protestant fathers while the girls would be enrolled in schools aligned to their mother's Roman Catholic faith, in this case Prince Alfred College and Cabra, respectively. The converse may have been true where fathers were RC and mothers protestant.
For most of their life together Claude and Mabs managed hotels in various parts of the state. It is not certain at this stage whether they owned the licensed premises they managed or not.
The list of hotels that they called "home" at various stages and roughly in chronological sequence are
In the 1950s Claude worked at "City Holden", a new car dealership owned and managed by the Clutterbuck family. By this time Mabs and Claude would have been classed as elderly and I guess had reached the stage where managing hotels was felt too physically demanding. It may have also been the case that Mabs was experiencing the early stages of the cancer that eventually ended her life.
Claude's duties at "City Holden" seem to have ranged from chaffeuring Mr Clutterbuck and occasionally his wife to sweeping the showroom floor. Despite their different stations in the business, Claude and the Clutterbucks seem to have been on first name terms. One can only imagine that there was some "old school tie" connection between them and that in frequently occupying the same vehicle (Claude as driver and Clutterbuck as passenger) that an intimacy developed. They would have had the opportunity to discuss, compare and comment on their personal circumstances and life in general. I suspect also that Claude was very congenial company.
One family member has suggested that Claude's work ethic was not as well-honed as it might have been and this may account for the diminution of his inheritance over time and the need to engage in steady employment to maintain an income. Claude's attitude to wealth and work is understandable seeing that his early years were spent in an affluent household where there were servants and gardeners and that there seemed little need for constraint on his spending.
There is a family story that reflects the love and respect that Claude had for Mabs and for Mabs' part the loving leverage that she applied to Claude on occasions. There was an instance when he considerably overindulged in the matter of liquor and transported himself and the children home in the car. Mabs chastened him for being irresponsible and from that time onwards he did not touch alcohol despite managing hotels for most of his life. On the other hand there is also the version that she threatened to leave him, taking the children, if he ever did that again. If this is the case he more than complied with her non-negotiable request.
Claude's sense of humour comes to the fore in one account although looking back one wonders whether he was employing a pun or there was a hint of disdain in his tone. He apparently refered to the RAGGATTS occasionally as RABBITS presumably because of that family's fecundity but there may have been a little more to it than that.
It would appear that the many of the succeeding generations of HUNTS and RAGGATTS have not formed close family ties. One HUNT descendent incorrectly suggested that RAGLESS was Mabs' maiden name and hence her relatives were RAGLESSES.
Moving into the RAGGATT family history it is possible to trace them to the early eighteenth century when Richard RAGGOT b. 1730 in Chipping Sodbury U.K. married Ann (shall proceed with this later)
For a more detailed account than this journal provides and with photos I can be contacted through this web site and I can furnish a PDF copy.
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