52 Ancestors Wk9 – Cornelius Clutterbuck

Fuschias in my garden

Fuschias in my garden

I find Cornelius Clutterbuck fascinating. I know very little about him yet he has an intense appeal. Why? His name! Cornelius Clutterbuck. It’s fantastic.

Cornelius was born in c 1769 to Elizabeth Clutterbuck. According to parish registers of Stroud (cited at The Clutterbuck Blog) he was baptised 7 April 1769. It is to be assumed that his mother, Elizabeth, was unwed as his father’s name is not given and he shares the same surname as his mother.

He married Sarah Keen on 19 July 1791 in the parish church of Stroud. By the 1793, Cornelius and Sarah appear to have joined the Rodborough Tabernacle. The Rodborough Tabernacle was built around 1766 by Thomas Adams who had been influenced by the preaching of George Whitefield. The baptisms of their children (Mary, James, Elizabeth and Sarah) were noted in the Tabernacle records.

In the 1841 Census, Cornelius and Sarah were living in Denmark St in St Giles in the Fields parish. Cornelius was employed as a porter. Denmark St was situated in what was known as ‘The Rookery’. It was the most notorious slum in London. The people were living in poverty without sanitation and complained in 1849, “We live in muck and filth. We aint got no priviz, no dust bins, no drains, no water-splies, and no drain or suer in the hole place.” (‘London parish’s descent from glamour to grime charted in exhibition’, Maev Kennedy, The Guardian, 2011).

Cornelius died in Sept 1842 and was buried in the Non Conformist cemetery Bunhill Fields. His burial record states that he was living at 26 Coppice Row, Clerkenwell. He was 73 years old.

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52 Ancestors Wk8 – Elizabeth Snedden Pt 2

Camellia in my front yard

Camellia in my front yard

I received an email this morning from a distant cousin in New Zealand. She found me through the post I wrote on Elizabeth Snedden in August 2012. I love it when I meet new family members through my blog as it highlights that something is working. Even if it is my tagging ability.

The email prompted me to go back to Trove and search again for Elizabeth. I had tried to find her death in the newspapers two years ago but had had no luck. Since then I have noticed that more Newcastle newspapers were being added and the email prompted me to try my luck. Success!

The circumstances of Elizabeth’s death were described in an article of the Maitland Weekly Mercury on 3 Feb 1912. The article is difficult to read so I have transcribed it below. It is a very sad story and continues to raise questions. As you will see, we still do not know why Elizabeth poisoned herself but do begin to feel how others around her felt.



Elizabeth Snedden, 18 years of age, a well known resident of Cessnock, died at her home on yesterday morning from the effects of drinking a quantity of Lysol. It appears that between 5am and 6am that morning the young woman went to her mother’s bedroom and said, “Mother, I have drunk a bottle of lysol.” She gave no reason for the rash act, and before her mother could ascertain anything the girl went into convulsions. The mother immediately sent for a doctor, and, in the meantime, administered emetics, but to no purpose. Dr Walker Smith arrived quickly, but the poison had done its work, and the girl, who was then beyond human aid, expired in a few minutes. The police have made inquiries but have been unable to ascertain any reason for the girl’s action. She was rather short tempered, and of somewhat peculiar disposition; but, so far as can be ascertained, she was not in trouble of any kind, and the parents are at a loss to account for the act. The sister of the deceased purchased the lysol the previous evening for deceased to use in the bath. It is said that she had a bath, using some of the lysol, and she evidently drank the remainder. Deceased was single, and had been in service at Cessnock for some time. Her parents who reside at King Street, Cessnock, are highly respected throughout the district.

An inquest was subsequently opened at the Cessnock Courthouse yesterday by Mr R Owen, district coroner, concerning the death of Elizabeth Snedden, which occurred at her parent’s residence at King Street, Cessnock yesterday morning.

Janet Smith said she knew deceased. She was her sister, and lived with her parents at Cessnock, where she was also staying. Deceased was a single woman, 18 years of age, and had no property. Her life was not insured, and she always enjoyed good health.  At five o’clock yesterday she asked witness for the loan of six pence and witness gave her half a crown. Deceased told her that she wanted to buy something to put in her bath and to wash her head. Deceased sent her sister, Esther, to the chemist for the antiseptic and about fifteen minutes later deceased was given the bottle. The bottle produced resembled the bottle purchased from the chemist, and was found on the chest of drawers in the deceased’s room. The bottle was full, but when found that morning was nearly empty. Deceased had a bath on the previous night before she went to bed. After having her bath, deceased had her tea. Deceased was in good health, but very quiet. At half past five o’clock on friday morning deceased came into the room where witness and her mother were sleeping and said she had drunk the contents of the bottle obtained from the chemist. She turned around, and went out on the verandah, and deceased’s mother followed her out. They tried to give her mustard and water, but failed as she kept her mouth closed. Witness went for Dr Walker Smith, who came back with her. Witness was with deceased until she died at half past seven o’clock that morning. She never spoke after telling them she had taken the poison. Deceased had a very bad temper but she could not account for her action. She was not in any trouble, and had no love affairs. Deceased was in service at Anstey’s Hotel, and had given notice that it was her intention to leave.

Dr Walker Smith said that when he saw deceased at six o’clock that morning she was suffering from poisoning, and was in such a weak state, that he could do nothing for her. Her physical condition was perfect.

Esther Snedden, nine years old, said that she purchased the antiseptic at her sister’s request. Deceased told her she wanted it to put into her bath.

The coroner returned a verdict to the effect that deceased died from the effects of a poison administered by herself.

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52 Ancestors Wk7 – Dorothy Aldington

Dorothy working as a volunteer at the library in Springwood

Dorothy working as a volunteer at the library in Springwood

The beauty of the 52 Ancestors challenge is how it is stretching my blog posts to cover some of my ancestors that I have been avoiding writing about. Previously I have procrastinated, become lost in research and struggled to write a post a month. It’s now week 7 and I haven’t missed a post. I’m incredibly pleased with myself and am venturing to write biographies of those I have some knowledge and yet not enough.

It occurred to me that I should write more biographies about the women in my family and try to find their voices. Dorothy Aldington was my great grandmother. From what I can gather, she was fascinating and lived a very full life navigating the highs and lows that she was presented with.

She was born in 1891 to Henry Aldington and Jessie Brown in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Henry was a customs officer and met Jessie in Scotland while working in Falkirk. The family moved to Much Wenlock and lived there for the first five years (give or take) of Dorothy’s life. The family then moved to London prior to 1896. Henry & Jessie left London for NSW in 1909 with Dorothy, Ralph and Marjorie. Dorothy was 18. Thomas and Jessie arrived later. The family settled in Cremorne, Sydney.

In 1921, Dorothy married Frederick Lemon at St Stephen’s Church in Sydney. The Goulburn Evening Penny Post states that the church “was decorated with festoons of white roses” and Dorothy wore “a cream gabardine costume with a large black transparent hat with a pink rose resting on the white brim. She carried a posy of white carnations and roses.”

Fred and Dorothy on their wedding day

Fred and Dorothy on their wedding day

Dorothy and Fred settled in Fred’s hometown of Goulburn where he ran a General Store with his brother, Robert. Dorothy and Fred had two children and were married seventeen years. Fred died in 1938 after being ill with pneumonia.

Fred’s will was finalised in 1941. By 1943, Dorothy was living in Bathurst Rd, Springwood. I am not sure where the family was living between 1938 and 1941 but can make some assumptions from what I have been told by family over the years. I believe that their daughter was boarding at school and that Dorothy and her son were living in the Blue Mountains near her mother. It is my understanding that Dorothy had little access to funds during this time. Her life had altered drastically. She was no longer a wealthy wife of one of Goulburn’s premier business men. She was a single mum struggling to support her children.

In 1949, Dorothy married Edward Joyce, known as Teddy in our family. The electoral rolls for this same year show Dorothy and Teddy living in Green Parade Valley Heights. There are three listings, two of which are for Dorothy. In one she is listed as proprietor. When I was a child, my grandparents lived at number 4 and Teddy lived next door at number 6. I believe that Dorothy bought Tusculum (as number 4 was named) with moneys she received from Fred’s estate.

When I look for her through the documented facts, photographs and memories shared, I see a very modern woman. She was listed as one of the executors in her husband’s will, she was very active in Goulburn’s society, she was a volunteer and seems to have had a personality and intelligence that drew other’s and their respect.

Dorothy died in 1966. I have not been able to find her obituary but do hope that one was written of her. I do not feel that I have done justice to her memory and perhaps that will be left to someone who knew her. For me, it impossible to express the affection that I feel for a lady I never met.

Affection that has been passed down through the memories of her children (my grandfather and great aunt) and my mum, her granddaughter.

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52 Ancestors Wk6 – George Lane

George Lane is the first Lane in my family line. He is sitting on a branch up towards the top. I can see him peaking out between the leaves but can’t quite make out his features. He is my great grandfather’s great grandfather or my 4th great grandfather.

The earliest record I have of him is his marriage to Sarah Brown in 1809. They were married at St Dunstan’s in Stepney (pictured above) on 5th March. The London Metropolitan Archives have scanned many of their church registers allowing me to see the mark that George and Sarah made. There were several witnesses to their marriage including an Elizabeth Lane – his sister? mother? aunt?

George and Sarah were married for twenty years and had nine known children. It is possible that there were others and I have not yet found them. Their eldest child was born on Jan 10th, 1810 and she was called Sophia. Sophia was baptised 4th Feb 1810 at All Hallows, Tottenham. They then had William (born 29th Dec 1811) and Jane Battle (born 23rd June 1814) who were also baptised in Tottenham. George’s occupation is listed as labourer at Jane’s baptism.

A second son was born to George and Sarah on 22 June 1816. He was baptised in September and George’s occupation is listed as Porter. By April the following year, the family have moved to Tower Hamlets and baby John was buried at St Dunstan’s.

On March 24th, 1818, my 3rd great grandfather, Thomas (and the first Lane to move to Australia) was born. Curiously, the family’s abode is listed as Ratcliffe Cross yet Thomas was baptised in Tottenham. George’s occupation is listed as labourer.

Between 1820 and 1822, three boys were born to George and Sarah. Two boys christened George and one, John. The first George was baptised on 3 Sep 1820 at St Dunstan’s. The second George was born in 17 May 1822 and baptised on 11th August at St Dunstan’s (the family appear to be living in Barrow St, Limehouse). I have yet to find a death record for the first George but is seems that he did not survive infancy. I believe the second George did not live long either as there is a record for a five year old George Lane’s death from drowning in 1827.

John was also born 17 May 1822 and christened at St Dunstan’s on 11 Aug. He appears to be the second George’s twin. What is strange is that the records are written in different formats or possibly different record books. John died in December of 1822 aged 6 months.

On 7 June 1825, a daughter, Susannah, was born to George and Sarah. Susannah was baptised in July and died in May 1827 at the age of 1 year and 10 months. Two years later, Sarah died.

Up till now, what we know about George is a list of births and deaths spanning a twenty year period. We know that he was a labourer with a brief stint as a porter. The family is from the Tower Hamlets but did spend several years in Tottenham.

And then George met Ann.

On 11th July 1830, George married Ann Woollard at St Dunstan’s. Ann is listed as a spinster and she could write her own name. This is the event that turned George from common labourer to licensed victualler. Through his marriage to Ann, George came to own an Inn called The Ship in Ratcliffe.

George and Ann had no children together (that I know of) and I have been unable to find any reference to The Ship Inn. I still know very little about George.

I think the evidence points to George and Sarah living in poverty evidenced by their children’s inability to survive. Of the nine children born to them, I have evidence for only three making it to adulthood. However, at the time of his death, George was able to leave property and effects to his wife, Ann. I strongly suspect that they were hers to begin with.

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52 Ancestors Wk5 – Hans Ernst Aeschbacher

My Great Grandfather

In the middle of the Emmental Valley there is a little village called Lutzelfluh. I visited about eighteen months ago with my family. It was so wonderful to be there with my Mum and see the town that her grandfather’s family hailed from. There are no longer grave stones proclaiming the names of my ancestors. There are no known relatives still walking the village. There was no ancestral abode to visit. However, there was a church. There were fields. And I was in Switzerland which was green, beautiful and bursting with springs blossoms. There also was a strange metal version of lucifer … very weird.

I don’t feel Swiss and have little connection to the country. It was fun, though, to walk through the village, walk through the streets of Berne and to experience a little of the culture my great grandfather left behind.

His name was Hans Jean Ernst Aeschbacher but he was known as Jack. He was born in 1896 in Berne, emigrated to Australia in 1925. He married my great grandmother, Molly Miles in 1926 and died in 1943 at the age of 46. His life was short. He left behind a wife and three young daughters.

I believe that he left Switzerland due to his health. By 1925, both his parents had died and he had been living in Thün (based on information on his emigration papers). Having visited Thün, located on the banks of Lake Thün, I can only assume poor health was a reason to travel across the world where he had no family or connections. Thün is beautiful.

My Nan, his daughter, believes he moved to Australia with ‘the French bank’. One of the delights of family history is the oral snippets that give you a hint but leave you remarkably clueless. Thankfully, I managed to find his emigration papers which show that he moved to Australia with Berner Handelsbank. The Berner Handelsbank was the Bernese Merchant Bank. It was established in 1862 and was involved in the financing of railway projects. The bank was bought by the Union Bank of Switzerland in 1938.

After his marriage, Jack and Molly lived on a farm south of Morisset in the Hunter Valley. The farm was owned by Molly’s father, W H Miles, and had been purchased several years before their marriage. On their marriage certificate, Jack’s occupation is listed as farmer and his residence Morisset. Molly was residing in Katoomba.

Throughout his time in Australia he suffered from tuberculosis. My Nan was given the impression (from her Auntie Bess) that he left the bank due to poor health. The fact that he was living in Morisset as a farmer within a year of his arrival supports my theory that he left Switzerland due to poor health. The farm was fitted out with dairy cattle and equipment.  I assume that Jack managed the farm and employed workers. I could be wrong. By 1935, the family was no longer living at the farm but had moved to the suburb of Cardiff. This is the same suburb that my father grew up in – it’s a small world.

Beyond his death, there is little record of Jack in the Australian records. I did manage to contact the Swiss Embassy but they no longer have records for him as they are destroyed after a certain period.

What information I do have is from his daughters. Pamela was born in 1930 in Sydney although her mother’s address is listed on her birth certificate as Morrisset. Elsa was born in 1933 at Cooranbong, near Morrisset, at the 7th Day Adventist Clinic. Between 1933 and 1935 (when Carmen was born in Cardiff, a suburb of Newcastle) the family had moved from the farm at Morrisset.

Below are the notes I received from Pamela.

Jack was an accomplished pianist and violinist and had a good tenor singing voice. Pamela recalls that he performed as a pianist at public events during this time but has no idea if he received income from his performances. Mollie had an adequate income from her father to keep the family.

About 1938-9, just before WWII broke out, Jack suffered a lung haemorrhage and was hospitalised at Wallsend Hospital, also in Newcastle. He was registered as an alien – as Swiss not as an enemy alien. Later he was transferred to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, which specialised in caring for tuberculosis sufferers, and then to Waterfall Sanitorium, Waterfall. His death certificate states that he died at the Randwick Auxiliary Hospital in Randwick on 21st June 1943. He was admitted to the hospital on 18 November 1942 with Pulmonary Tuberculosis. He was buried on 22nd June 1943 at the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood. His occupation at time of death is listed as clerk.

Jack kept in touch with the Swiss Consulate and registered his daughters at their births. Carmen recalls that the Swiss Consul visited her father in hospital.

At the time of Jack’s death, Pamela was 12, Elsa was 10, and Carmen was 7. Their memories of their father are those of little girls. They never knew him as adults, and if they were anything like me, never asked the questions that I would like answered.

I wish we all knew him a little better.

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52 Ancestors Wk4 – Eliza Johnston

Eliza Johnston his my great great grandmother and the first of her line to immigrate to Australia. I was sent a photo of her recently and it was the first time I had seen her face. It is not one that I know well and she doesn’t appear to resemble anyone close to me. All this picture indicates is that her life was hard. She is wearing a dress with no form or shape – a sack. Her hair is pulled back into a bun. There is no smile of her face and she looks stoic – not worn out but ready to get on with whatever is next. She stands beside her husband Robert and it is difficult to decide what type of people they are from the picture.

Eliza was born in 1870 in Greenhill, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to her Irish parents, Charles and Mary Ann Johnston. I think they may have been Ulster Scots. It seems likely given their religion and their place of birth – Antrim. I do not know if the family was transplanted to Ireland under Cromwell and it is one of my aims to determine this.

My understanding is that Greenhill is a village within the parish of Shotts.

Thanks to the Scotland’s People website I have found the record of Eliza’s birth. From this I confirmed that her mother’s maiden name was Brown and her father, Charles, an Iron Miner. Eliza (or Elizabeth) was the eighth child of nine. (Note that I am only aware of children who I can find records for. No doubt both Eliza and Mary Ann lost children whose names we may never know.)

In the 1871 census the family are living at 20 Greenhill in Shotts and Charles is listed as an Ironstone Miner. Eliza was ten months old. Her brothers, Alexander (15), Charles (13), and Thomas (10) were also Ironstone Miners. Brother Hugh (8) was at school while the three youngest William (4), Mary Ann (2) and Eliza were at home.

In 1881, the family are living at 26 Greenhill Village and Charles Snr and his sons are working as miners (except Hugh who is a labourer) at the coal mine. Elizabeth and her younger brother, John, are at school. Eliza’s sister, Mary Ann had died in 1877 of tabes mesenterica (tuberculosis of the lymph glands in the abdomen) which is caused by drinking the milk of cows infected with tuberculosis. It appears to be a wasting disease. Mary Ann suffered for five months before she died at the age of 9.

In December 1885, Eliza emigrated to Australia. She was 15 and travelling (as far as I can gather) alone. She is listed as a domestic servant travelling on the Plymouth. (It is interesting to note that you were considered an adult from the age of 12.) Eliza is listed as an assisted immigrant who was Presbyterian and could read and write. Eliza’s brothers, Hugh and Thomas, had arrived in April 1885. I assume Eliza met up with them when she arrived. Her father, Charles, also emigrated as he is recorded in the 1891 census in Greta.

In March 1887, Eliza married Robert Snedden, a miner from Carnbrae, Lanarkshire. They had eleven children: James (b 1887), Janet (b 1888), Mary Ann (b 1889), John (b 1891), Elizabeth (b 1894), Agnes (my great grandmother; b 1896), Christina (b 1898), Esther (b 1902), Charles (b 1906), Alexander (b 1910) and Margaret (b 1913).  Their daughter, Elizabeth died at the age of 18 from lysol poisoning. Her story is here.

The family lived in the Hunter Valley, primarily around Greta. I suspect that they moved when required for work. Robert appears in the 1891 census living in Hunter St, Greta. I am told that Eliza ran are boarding house in Greta.

By 1931, Eliza and Robert are living in the Rocks in Sydney. Eliza owned a shop at Susannah’s Place. I am am curious to know why they moved away from the Hunter Valley to Sydney. Susannah’s Place is now a museum.  The museum webpage has photos of the the house that they lived at.

It is difficult for me to feel affection for Eliza as I had (and received) little affection for her daughter, Agnes, who died when I was 11. However, she has always intrigued me.  As I type this, flicking back and forth between this screen and the photo, I realise that there is a look in Robert’s face that reminds me of my great grandmother, their daughter. I suspect that some of my memories of her may reflect Eliza and Robert’s personalities, however dimly. Agnes was not a warm woman. I suspect that her parents were practical and hard working with little room for sentiment or emotion.

Eliza’s life was unquestionably difficult. The circumstances of a miner’s daughter living in Lanarkshire during the nineteenth century were brutal and full of hardship. It is no wonder that at the age of 15 she opted to travel south to Plymouth and voyage across the world to join her brother’s in the hopes of a better life.

Yet that life would still have been difficult. She was married at 17 and by the time of her 20th birthday Australia was in the grips of a depression. She suffered not only the loss of her sister when she was 7 but one of her daughter’s committed suicide when she was 18. Her husband lost his leg (I am sure I have the details somewhere but can not find them) and mining disasters were common in the community in which they lived. Another depression in the 1930’s when she was running her own business in Sydney …. times were tough.

No wonder there was little room for sentiment.

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52 Ancestors Wk3 – Ethel Lemon

Ethel Lemon (from family archives)

Ethel Lemon
(from family archives)

One of my favourite places to spend my time on the web is within the pages of The Goulburn Evening Penny Post (accessed through Trove). Who would have thought that having a distant uncle who worked at a local newspaper would be so handy for the budding family historian. How else would I know that on 1 Nov 1927, my great great aunt, Ethel, was recuperating from a sore throat at her mother’s house in Manly? Or that she wore ‘old gold satin’ to the Diggers Dance in 1922? My great grandmother, Dorothy, wore rose taffeta.

Ethel May Lemon was born in Goulburn on 24 Nov 1891 to J T Lemon and his wife, Mary Jane Faulder. She was the second of seven children. My great grandfather, Fred, was her elder brother.

Ethel is recorded in the electoral records of NSW, living in Goulburn and Manly. Her occupation is listed as home duties. She appears to be an accomplished socialite of Goulburn society. She probably was. She was also much more.

She came from a privileged family. She went to a private girls school and received music lessons as a child receiving first class honours in the junior exams she took in 1904. She travelled to London and to the US. She kept a correspondence with, and eventually met, a distant cousin, Nettie Blean in California.

Family was important to Ethel. She kept scrapbooks of photos and newspaper clippings that have been passed down. Through Ethel we had memories of the family and their accomplishments decades before Trove arrived.

Ethel died on Christmas Day 1973 .. the year before I was born.

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