Memories of Time Spent in Apt 3C

Els with the kids circa 2008

The section below was written in Dec 2019. I had plans to add to it however, today is not the day.

I’ve been asked to put some thoughts together for my great aunt Els. As I write this, her health is in decline and we anticipate her passing. That’s hard to write – strange since it is an anticipated event (her health has been of concern for several years). I’ve not spoken to Auntie Els for many months, possibly even a year. Last time we spoke, it was over the phone and she struggled to know if she was talking to me or my mum – however, she was still the same … interested, to the point, and short of time.

Auntie Els was a minor celebrity in my life – she lived in New York, she flew around the world, she had a prominent career, she sent us postcards from all over the globe, and was very glamorous. In New York, she was an actual celebrity however, here in Australia and among her family, she was Auntie Els. She was a source of fun – when Els was in town we would be doing something whether going out to dinner, off to see a show, or the entire family (and there were many of us) just being together. 

Last night, I looked through my collection of photos looking for pictures of Els being with us. Initially it felt like a chore however, as I flicked through the very many pictures, I was overwhelmed with the many instances that I had caught on camera of the love Els felt for us. Els loved family but children especially.  There are candid pictures of her with her nieces and nephews, her great nieces and nephews and her great, great nieces and nephews – holding them, hugging them, being close to them.

Another time, I will write about Els’s youth and her life in general but today, I’m going to remember the 4 years between 2003 and 2007 that my little family were based in New Jersey and we were able to pop over the river and visit.

In 2003, we were living in Shanghai and my husband was seconded to New Jersey for 3 months. Off we went with our 12-month-old for an adventure. New Jersey was strange to me and New York City at times seemed overwhelming. I was a new mum with no supports, trying to entertain herself and a 1 year old. Auntie Els was a touch point of home – someone who I could visit and just ‘be’. Auntie Els was no fuss and, like all my family in general, didn’t have time for wallowing in self-pity. There was empathy and an ear to hear however, once the feelings have been let out … time to move on and get on with it.

Auntie Els was an organiser and a born delegator – qualities that more than likely made her brilliant at her job. When we would visit, she would get Chuck to organise drinks, get me to set out the food, eat, chat, play with the kids, chat and “let’s go for a walk”. It doesn’t sound very relaxed but it was. Her apartment was incredibly tiny, tidy and full of beauty – books, her tapestry, throws, beautiful bowls full of beads. Her unit was a neurotic mother’s worst nightmare. Thankfully I was not a neurotic mum and yet there were times of immense tension as my daughter (and later my son) would waddle and teeter amongst the delicate furniture, ceramic plates and ‘everything’ as Els said it was fine even when it clearly wasn’t.

Auntie Els was eccentric at times. For instance, when she would let my two-year-old play with her make-up. Auntie Els had small built-in wardrobe full of make-up, jewellery and every mother’s nightmare. So Els said it was ‘ok’ to leave the two-year-old, unsupervised, to ‘play’ in this cupboard. Amy was allowed to sit on a chair and pretend she was the Queen of Sheba to her hearts content. Her mother, and any other voice of sanity, was ushered out of the room. Of course, there was a disaster (deep red lipstick drawn deep into beautiful, expensive wallpaper), there was horror (on my part), there were tense words (Chuck) and there was Els saying it was ok and Amy delightfully happy. They (the eccentric adult and the child) were both allowed to do it again. Why? Well because it was Els and as Els calmly explained to Chuck, the wallpaper was already ruined – no more harm could be done.

That was Els in her world. Sometimes she would come to visit in ours and those times were equally special. There was no structure, she ran to our timetable and it was unique. At key times in my life, Auntie Els has been there to lift me up when life has been a little bit tough. When I was in my late teens and unable to find a part time job, Els gave me $20 to keep in my purse and explained that if I always kept $20 in my purse, I would always have $20. The concept was completely lost on me – what’s the point of having $20 if you can’t spend it? After weeks and weeks of stress (days and days perhaps), I did spend the $20 and now I have no cash in my purse but a well-worn credit card.

When I was a mum with two young kids, Els would be there for a l little respite – not all the time but often enough for the gestures to be felt and appreciated. She filled the spot that my mum would have filled had I been home in Australia. Most of all she loved my kids – she gave them gifts; she gave them ice-cream; she took them to her favourite spots; she bought them books from the museum; she took them on the carousel. She never overdid it – she could have but she didn’t. In reflection, she was always very much herself.

And Els introduced me to Thanksgiving and I will always be thankful that it was Els who did. She told me it was her favourite celebration – it was about food, friends, family and recognising and appreciating what you have. There were no demands, no restrictions on who could come, no presents, no expectations.

I do miss Auntie Els and not for the reasons the outside might think. I miss the elements of Auntie Els that remind me of her sister, my Nan. For two people who might seem to be so different they are similar in so many ways. I love their differences as much as I love their similarities. They are both strong, intelligent women who I have always loved talking to.

There is only one way to end … “love love, kiss kiss”. xxxx oooo.

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James Lane

James Lane is my great grandfather. I have been reluctant to write about him because I know very little about him. However, today’s the day – this post may not be eloquent and will almost entirely be based on what the records say … not a lot of warmth and insight. Wish me luck.

Relaxing at Seaford

Some things I think I know about James, or Jim, as I am fairly certain he was known. He was largely law abiding. In searching the historical newspapers, I haven’t found any news articles dedicated to his life of crime, infidelity or mishap. There are some photos that have been passed down from my grandparents – Jim stands up straight with no smile or softness about him. In one, he stands next to my grandfather – they stand beside one another like statues. There is a similar photo with Jim, his wife and my aunt. My aunt is a cute 2 or 3 year old with curls. My great grandmother smiles. Jim stands straight and looks straight at the camera with no smile. Unfortunately for Jim, my father’s other grandfather was a smiling man – the photo I have of him, he’s beaming.

Jim was a middle child – the seventh of fourteen – the son of Thomas Lane and Mary Ann Dawson. James was born in 1884 at the Dangar property, Paradise Creek. The family lived in this area through to the death of both Thomas and Mary Ann.

Between Jim’s birth and marriage, his parents had five additional daughters and two additional sons. When Jim was 10, James’s older brother, Thomas, was married in Maybole (near Paradise). The following Dec, he passed away while searching for a horse in the paddock.

When Jim was 12, his older brother, George, married in Glen Innes. George lived in the area till his death in 1956.

The following year, Jim’s older sister, Annie, married in Inverell District. Annie would later move to Queensland where she passed away in 1939.

When Jim was 15, his older sister, Charlotte, married in Inverell District. Charlotte would later move to Taree and passed away in Wallsend in 1953.

When Jim was 16, his older brother, Joseph, married in Glen Innes. Joseph lived in the area till his death in 1945.

When Jim was 18, his older brother, Alfred, married in Glen Innes. Alfred would move to Brisbane where he died in 1955.

When Jim was 21, his younger sister, Mary Ann, married in Glen Innes. Mary Ann would eventually move to Queensland where she died in 1963.

In Nov 1910, Jim married Edith Butterworth in Cooma, NSW. I have yet to determine why Jim was in Cooma – I am assuming he was following work opportunities and had decided to move away from Glen Innes. The majority of his siblings married in Glen Innes and, if they moved, moved north, not south. Jim was a blacksmith and it may be that he was in the Cooma area working alongside the railroad development.

In 1910, Jim was 25 and Edith was 15. Edith had been travelling with her father. In 1911, Edith gave birth to their daughter, Mary, in Nimmitabel. In 1912, the railway arrived in Nimmitabel.

By 1913, the family were in the Hunter Valley and the registration of their son’s, James Thomas, birth in West Maitland.

A distant cousin, provided me with the information that in 1914, James was working on the railway between Dubbo and Werris Creek with his brother, Alfred.

In 1915, their second son, Norman was born in Dubbo. The family were still in Dubbo when Alfred was born in 1917.

By 1919, the family were in Campbelltown for the birth of their daughter, Rachel. By 1921, the family were in Victoria (Edith’s home state) for the birth of George in Preston – the electoral roll of 1924 has the family living in Edwardes St; James is listed as Blacksmith. They were in Mentone, Vic for the birth of Gordon in 1926. In the 1928 electoral roll, the family is living in Collins St, Mentone and Jim is listed as a labourer.

Looking through the marriage records of Jim and Edi’s kids and the electoral rolls, we learn the following:

  • 1930, Mary marries in Collingwood, Vic. I am assuming that the family is still in Victoria.
  • 1934, Thomas is enlisting in AIF (enlisted in Jan; discharged in Nov).
  • 1935, Rachel marries in Parramatta.
  • 1936, Jim and Edi are living in Windsor Rd, Northmead and working as a blacksmith
  • 1937, Thomas is a taxi driver living in Wentworthville
  • 1938, Norman is a labourer living in Wentworthville.
  • 1940, George enlists in WWII – Jim is living in Marylands
  • 1941, Norman enlists in WWII – Jim is living in Marylands
  • 1943, Jim and Edi are living in Springfield Rd, Gosford and Jim is a construction foreman
  • 1943, George marries in Gosford
  • 1944, Norman is discharged – Jim is living in Marylands
  • 1949, Jim, Edi, Gordon, George and his wife, Pauline are living at 310 Main Rd, Cardiff. The men are all engaged as carpenters

In 1950, James passed away. He was living at Vena St, Cardiff with Edi.

That’s everything I know about Jim. The things that I know about James aren’t very exciting. Outside of birth, death and marriage records he is largely not present. However, I know that he was involved in his children’s lives as he was listed as next of kin on their enlistment records. I know that he was married to his wife for forty years. I think he kept in touch with his family, at least his brother, Alfred.

But that’s all I know.

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Elizabeth Snedden – pt3

An orchid in my garden

Following my previous articles on Elizabeth Snedden and her passing at the age of 18, I stumbled on messages placed in the local paper the year following her death.

What I discover is that she was known as Lizzy, she had a close friend also name Lizzy and she was sorely missed by those who knew her.

Previous posts:
Elizabeth Snedden
52 Ancestors Wk8 – Elizabeth Snedden Pt 2

 Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 
 Sat 1 Feb 1913
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“Slavery in Manchester”

Flowering Gum on my street

The Faulder family is known to me through pedigree tables, older family reminisces and heirlooms. I don’t know that I have ever met a Faulder – only their descendants who speak of them with a degree of awe. Oral family history tells me they were wealthy and somewhat connected.

I have never quite understood the awe and deep respect and that is likely due to being so many generations removed from the relatives that are always spoken of. Which is possibly why I have no compunction to write of the flaws I find when searching newspaper archives – and that’s what happened today.

Frederick John Faulder is my fourth great uncle. For those who are interested – he’s my mother’s, father’s, grandfather’s uncle … I think. He was the son of William Faulder and Mary Jane Moorby; younger brother of Joseph Thomas Faulder who emigrated to New South Wales.

He was born in 1817 in Oswestry, Shropshire – by my records, he was the youngest of nine children. His father, William, was an Excise Officer – a distant relative’s research states that he is listed in the Pigot’s Directory in 1818 as an Excise Supervisor and in 1830 as Superintendent of Excise. In 1851, he is retired and listed as a gentleman annuitant. William was a man of some means.

He married Sarah (possibly Taylor, possibly Wareing) and by 1851 he was living in Manchester when his eldest son was born. On his son’s baptism record he is listed as a Merchants Clerk. By 1854, he is listing himself as a silk mercer.

He is still pursuing this line of work when we find him before the Manchester Police Court in 1878. The case was reported in several newspapers however, the headline that caught my eye was in the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle – “Slavery” in Manchester.

Frederick is described as owning/managing one of the largest millinery establishments in Manchester employing approximately 30 “young persons” and women. According to the article, Frederick’s employees worked a twelve hour day – from 8am to 8pm five days per week and till 4pm on Saturdays.

Frederick was before the court for breaching the Act that modified the Workshops Regulation Act – possibly the Factory and Workshop Act 1878. The new Act allowed proprietors the ability to apply for approval to employ “young persons and women” for “24 days, two hours extra each day”. The Act required that a notice denoting permission granted to be hung in the shop which had not been done. In addition, Frederick has extended the work day from 8pm to 10pm however, the employees actually worked till 1am the following morning.

“This was the most flagrant violation of the law that [Mr King] had ever had to bring before the court.”

An employee gave evidence stating that she had worked on 4 Nov 1878 from 8am till 4am on 5 Nov 1878. She resumed work at 8:45am on 5 Nov 1878. Frederick stated that he was not aware that work had continued after the hour he had given in evidence (namely 10pm).

This was the first complaint that had been made against Frederick and his defence was that he had not known nor had any intention to violate the law. The magistrate instructed Frederick to engage more “girls” if he was unable to “do his work” with the current number. The work practices at his establishment was denounced as slavery and he was fined for each of the six counts plus costs – a total of 21 pounds 19 shillings.

Frederick died 10 or so months later in Aug 1879 at the age of 62. His estate, under 5000 pounds, was left to his widow, Sarah.

Huddersfield Daily Chronicle, 21 Nov 1878, pg 4
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Who is Bernadette Copsey??


Middlesex County Times – Wednesday 15 April 1914

In the endless quest to find Elizabeth Miles who owned a corset business, I stumbled across Bernadette Weare – a lady who owned her own corset business in 1930’s London.

I first became aware of Bernadette when she was known as Bernadette Copsey marrying Frederick Weare in London in April 1893. Continuing to click around the Ancestry search screen, I found Bernadette in 1891 working as an assistant to Ann Drake, a 64 year old corset maker located half a mile from Buckingham Palace, born in Bristol, with a 26 year old son, Frederick Weare. Ann Drake’s business was situated alongside a butchers, a dressmaker, a trunk maker, a tobacconist, a blindmaker and a chemist.

Ann Drake, was twice a widow, the daughter of John and Mary Ann Groves, the sister to Elizabeth Groves and aunt to William Henry Miles and fourth great aunt to myself. In 1851, Ann was living in Clifton Rd, Bristol with her sisters Mary and Elizabeth working as a stay maker. In 1861, Ann was living with her sister, Mary a dressmaker in South Molten St, Mayfair and working as a stay maker. Elizabeth Adams and her daughter, Emma, were dressmakers living in the same building. Emma was the of a similar age to Mary and born in Bristol. I’ve yet to find Elizabeth nor Emma in records relating to Bristol but can only imagine that the Groves sisters had known the Adams family in Bristol and found opportunity through them when they moved to London.

Bernadette and Frederick were married in the months following Ann’s death and in the 1901 census they are living in Ann’s house continuing Ann’s business. Ten years later they are in their late 40’s with no children continuing the corset making business. After Frederick’s death, Bernadette continued the business operating in different addresses in Kensington and retiring (possibly) in Blyth, Suffolk according to the 1939 England and Wales Register.

This all appears relatively straight forward and doesn’t warrant the title of “Who is Bernadette Copsey?” That is until I began delving into her past.

In 1891, there was an additional assistant to Ann Drake also bearing the surname Copsey. Her name was Alice and she was 15 (thirteen years younger than Bernadette) and one supposes she was Bernadette’s sister. However, when I went searching for Bernadette and Alice’s family, I could find Alice’s but not Bernadette’s. Furthermore, all the hints suggested records for Emma Copsey. In addition, searching for Bernadette resulted in no success.

I suspect that Emma is Bernadette and Bernadette is Emma .. however, I can not know for sure. In any case, Bernadette is a peer of my very great aunt, Elizabeth. A woman who pursued a career with success.

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An Accident in Port Adelaide


Port Adelaide, looking from the Company’s Basin. This photo was taken on July 31, 1867. (Mr. A.T. Saunders’ information.).

My research techniques can best be described as unique and without any form of discipline. Random clicking that follows a path with very blurred boundaries yet curious and open to almost any possibility. So on the back of seeing the results of my Nan’s DNA results, I started focusing on the outer edges of the Miles family located in Bristol during the mid 19th century (previously visited in “Letters to Gentlemen“,”Elizabeth Miles” and “W H Miles“). I found myself in the profile of Philip John Miles (uncle to W H Miles) and his extended family finally clicking on his son, Philip.

Glancing down the list of facts, I saw that I had linked him to a birth record in 1859, Port Adelaide, Australia. Clicking my tongue, I wondered what I had been thinking and set about double checking the documents. In the 1861 census, I saw a record for Philip Jnr and when opening it, the census had recorded his birth as Australia and he’s aged one living with his mum at the home of his maternal aunt. So now my curiosity is piqued. Why had Philip Snr been in Port Adelaide in 1859 and what had happened that his wife and son had returned to Bristol by 1861?

My first thought was that he may have been a convict. There are criminal records for a Philip Miles in Bristol for minor theft in the 1860’s however, there was nothing definitive linking these to Philip Snr. Frustrated, I began searching Trove.

In July and August 1859, there are several items in the classifieds stating the following:

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Classified Advertising (1859, August 3). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), p. 1. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from

I was engaged … Philip’s name was Philip John and he had a brother Henry – although I don’t know a great deal about him … yet! (I’m nothing if not optimistic).

As I continued to scroll through the newspaper articles my search criteria had identified, I found the one article that answered a great many of my questions about Philip including his demise and why his family were to be found in Bristol within two years of his son’s birth in Port Adelaide.

The Henry Miles and Philip John Miles mentioned in the classified do appear to be two of my very great uncles.

In December 1856, Philip, a mariner, married Elizabeth Tucker at St John’s Parish Church, Bedminster (Bristol). They must have left England shortly after as the journey was usually 2-3 months in length and they had arrived in Adelaide in February, 1857 (per the ‘Adele’).

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SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1857, May 23). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), p. 5. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from

In August 1858, they celebrated the birth of their first child, Edward although this was short lived as he died at 3 weeks of age.

Throughout July and August 1859, Henry Miles placed advertisements in the the South Australian Advertiser seeking contact with his brother.

In December 1859, Philip and Elizabeth celebrated the arrival of their second son, Philip.

It appears that Elizabeth and baby Philip left for England in November, 1860 for reasons unknown.

Three months later, Henry and Philip managed to catch up when the ship, the “Asa Packer” Henry was captaining arrived in Port Adelaide.

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SHIPPING NEWS. (1861, February 18). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), p. 2. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from

On Tuesday, 19th February 1861, Henry and Philip had spent the evening together. They had tea onboard the Asa Packer and then left to go visit a friend. They were chatting as they returned and were boarding the ship at about 10pm, when Philip missed his footing and fell between the wharf and the ship. Henry also fell in as he attempted to save his younger brother. He managed to pull himself out of the water and began looking for his brother but was unable to see him as the night was very dark. Philip’s body was not able to be recovered till 7am the next morning. At the inquest, the verdict by the jury was one of accidental death.

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No title (1861, February 21). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), p. 2. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from


Philip Jnr grew up in Bristol and became a seaman himself just like his father and his uncle. In the 1911 census, his occupation is listed as Master Mariner.

Elizabeth remarried in 1867 – this time to a publican.

As for Henry, I have a theory that I am working on. We do know that he was not the captain of the Asa Packer when she sunk off the coast of Port Nepean in June 1861.

I believe that he may be the Henry Miles that died in Narrabri in 1924. There are articles in the papers of shipbuilder based in Narrabri (odd, I know) … this could be him. If this ship builder in Narrabri is my very great uncle, Henry Miles it might explain why his nephew, W H Miles was in Girilambone (approx 360 kms away) in 1884 mourning the death of his first wife and son.

Stay tuned.

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Brothers Who Have Sacrificed Their Lives for the Empire

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I have been wanting to write about a member of the Dawson family for a long time. The first Dawson in my tree is four generations back – so far back that the information I have is through research and connections. No one I know ever met a Dawson we were related to. In this circumstance, I find it difficult to find a hook to draw me into the family story … and then I found the pictures above in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1916.

Losing a son in the war is tragic. Losing three sons is beyond belief and, I would think, beyond what a heart should have to bear. And yet, Rachel Cameron (nee Dawson) did suffer and bear her loss with grace.

Rachael Charlotte Dawson was the younger sister of 2nd great grandmother, Mary Ann Dawson. Mary Ann was 7 when her younger sister was born – similar to the age difference between my sister and I. However, unlike my family, the Dawson girls were 2 of 12 siblings – 6 of each.

Rachael was born in 1863 in Ollera, north of Armidale, NSW. Her parents (Thomas Dawson and Mary Ann Garner) were from Bedfordshire and had arrived in New South Wales in 1848. Thomas Dawson emigrated with his parents, siblings and family creating an extended family community.

At the age of 18, Rachael married John Cameron. Over the course of fifteen years, Rachael gave birth to 8 children – 5 sons (one died in infancy) and four daughters.

In 1897, when her youngest son, Norm was 2 years old, Rachael’s husband, John, died. The Glen Innes Examiner and General Advertiser reported on 23 July that John had been hanging a loaded gun “on a nail and loop on the wall in his bedroom when by some means it fell to the floor stock downwards.” A bullet went through his right arm just below the elbow almost severing it. A message was sent to the doctor who decided that there was little chance of John surviving his injuries and decided not to attend to him. Neighbours organised themselves to assist however, John had died by 8:30 am the next morning. Rachel placed a thank you in the The Armidale Express and New England Advertiser on 21 Sept, thanking the residents of Wandsworth for their assistance.

In 1903, her daughter, Isabella died at the age of 19.

In 1914, when Rachael’s youngest son was 18, the first World War began. On 29 Sep 1914, Rachael’s another son, John, enlisted at the age of 20. On 22 Dec, he had embarked for Europe.

On 4 Jan 1915, her second eldest son, Hughie enlisted. On 13 Feb he embarked for Europe.

On 11 June 1915, her youngest son, Norm enlisted – five weeks after his elder brother, John, died at Gallipoli. Norm embarked for Europe on 30 Sep.

Norm died from wounds in May 1916 and Hughie died in battle in France on 1 June 1916. Of her four living sons, three had gone to war and three had died.

Rachael died in 1924 at the age of 62. Her obituary is as follows:

An old and highly respected resident, in the person of Mrs Rachel Cameron, passed away in Glen Innes Hospital on the 11th inst. at the age of 62 years. The cause of death was Bright’s disease. She enjoyed good health up to twelve months ago, but continued to fail gradually till the end came. Her husband, Mr John Cameron, predeceased her by some 28 years. She was ever of a kind and genial disposition, and will be greatly missed in our little community. She was born at Ollera, and had resided here for about 43 years. She had three sons, Hugh, John and Norman, in the Great War, all of whom made the supreme sacrifice. It is rather a singular thing her husband met his death by a gun accident.
The remains of the deceased lady were interred on the 12th inst. in Ollera Cemetery, in the presence of a large assemblage, proving the respect and esteem in which she was held. – Guyra Argus (NSW : 1902 – 1954), Thursday 21 August 1924, page 2

Beyond the births and deaths recorded, there is little else I know about Rachael’s life. It intrigues me that her name appears in several articles promoting universal conscription and I wonder how she would have felt about this. What her thoughts were at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the war. Whatever her thoughts, the evidence shows her to be a generous woman (she contributed 5 shillings to the YMCA’s ‘Red Triangle Fund’ in 1917 *) who was well liked and respected by family and friends alike.

* “WANDSWORTH COLLECTIONS.” The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser (NSW : 1856 – 1861; 1863 – 1889; 1891 – 1954) 5 June 1917: 8. Web. 26 Apr 2020 <;.



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A Fatal Wrestling Match

Greta CourtHouse

Greta Court House credit: Google Maps

The man John Rylatt, who was injured at Greta last Saturday in a wrestling bout, died in Maitland Hospital yesterday… Rylatt was 31 years of age, and leaves a wife and two children.
– Singleton Argus, 24 Dec 1898

It seems unfair to post a picture of the old Greta Court House as the main picture to a person’s blog post … in this case it seemed fitting. Almost every newspaper article featuring John Rylatt mentions a session in court. In direct contrast to his father, Alderman John Rylatt – the comparison is not favourable when their names appear intermixed in a list of articles in Trove.

To me, John never really stood a chance. He was the corespondent in the divorce proceedings between my 2x great grandparents – never the hero of the story … always the rascal.

John Rylatt was born to John and Isabella Rylatt in Durham approx 1867. The family travelled to NSW aboard the “Earl Dalhousie” and arrived in 1877 when John was ten year of age. The family appear to have travelled directly to the Hunter Valley and settles in Greta where John’s sister, Mary, was born the following year. Isabella continued to have children every 2-3 years until 1894.

1894 is about the same time that John met Ellen Scarlett. Ellen was married to Henry Scarlett however, he had left Ellen to pursue work in Wollongong and later Queensland (possibly due to the tensions between the miners and mine owners and the hopes of the goldfields). While Henry was away, Ellen gave birth to a daughter. By 1897, Henry had filed for divorce having found Ellen cohabiting with John.

During the 1890’s, John was a miner working in the Greta mines – I assume the Anvil Creek mines as there is a record in the NSW Gazette showing a John Rylatt living at Anvil Creek (though this could be his father). This period was also the time of the Great Strikes and the 1890’s depression.

On 23 January, 1894 the following two excerpts were published in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate giving details of the arguments on both sides of the conflict in Greta:

Greta Miners 1

and a few paragraphs later,

Greta Miners 2

Twelve months later, the condition of the miners was described in the Maitland Daily Mercury:

Maitland Daily Mercury 21 Feb 1895

Maitland Daily Mercury, 21 Feb 1895

Times were tough in Greta during this time. There was civil unrest in the form of strikes, conflicts between union and non-union workers and assaults on individuals. During this time, John appears before the courts for drunken behaviour, obscene language and leaving his horse to wander in the street – he was convicted of all of these several times between the years 1892 – 1898 and each time incurred a fine.

By the time of his death, he was likely unemployed (possibly due to his father’s sympathy’s with the unions or even his own), with four children and a wife dependent on his income. (Although the article at the beginning states he has two children, it is to be assumed that Ellen’s children, born during her marriage to Henry, were also living with them).

The manner of his death sums up his personality for me … he was reckless, careless and not entirely responsible, in my opinion. He may have been a better man in better times.

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Hannah Allsop

Previous to this morning, the most remarkable thing I knew about my 3x great grandmother, Hannah Allsop, was that she had born 16 children of which my 2x great grandmother, Charlotte, was number 11.

Hannah was born abt 1823 in Geddington, Northamptonshire. (Her death record states that she was 90 in 1910 giving her birth date as 1820; the 1841 census states she was 18 giving her a birth date of 1823.)

Hannah was the daughter of William Allsop, a labourer. In 1841, William is living in the Kettering Union Workhouse in 1841; his wife, Sophie is living with her children in West St and Hannah appears to be living with her aunts and young cousin (although I may have this incorrect).

Hannah sparked my interest again when I realised that Geddington is the home to an Eleanor Cross. The erection of elaborate crosses in dedication to Edward I’s wife, Eleanor, struck a chord in me when I first learnt of it at university. To know that my ancestors lived in a town where one stood – in fact was at the end of the street in which Hannah was born … well! Was Hannah aware of the history or was the cross merely a landmark she walked past each day.

How the Allsop’s felt about living so close to such an elaborate an expensive structure, I will never know. What I do know is that the family were poor and had been for generations. Hannah’s father, William is living in the Kettering Workhouse in 1841. Hannah’s mother, is living with her grandson in 1851 and described as a pauper. Her great grandfather’s baptismal record states that the family were poor in 1702.

No wonder that Hannah and her husband, John, decided to emigrate to South Australia in 1848.

In the biography I wrote on John West, I described the area in which they settled in South Australia. It was populated by the ‘rough and ready’.

Hannah was pregnant for roughly 35 years of her life her eldest child was born in 1845 prior to them leaving England. Her last, was born after 1879. In notes that I have received from another descendent, Hannah is described as a midwife – what better profession to adopt as she obviously had the experience.

With so little on record, beyond the vital statistics of herself and her children, it is difficult to surmise what Hannah thought of her new environment. Whether the infinite blessings we take for granted were recognisable in the new colony. Whether she missed the culture and landmarks of her home or was happy to participate in the building of a new one.



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Staring at the Harbour


(photo my own)

Sydney Harbour is possibly my favourite place to just sit and be. I love the smell, the air, the peace.

I visited Susannah’s Place Museum in the Rocks earlier this year and stood in a room that I suspect my great, great grandfather spent many an hour. It was a room with great views to the Harbour.

After touring the museum, we asked the tour guide if they knew of the Snedden’s who had operated the store at number 64. They were able to tell us a little of Robert’s last years.

Robert & Eliza likely responded to this advertisement (or one similar) from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1930. They had previously run a store in Martin’s Creek and perhaps wished to be closer to their daughter, Margaret who was living in Botany.

Grocery Tender - Snedden

1930 ‘Advertising’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 17 December, p. 11. , viewed 16 Oct 2017,

I was told that Robert, who had one leg due to a mining accident, lived on the top floor of number 64 (pictured below). The stairs to the top floor are at a steep angle – Robert would have been unable to manoeuvre them without assistance. In essence, he was trapped staring either at the street below or across the rooftops to the harbour. Dependent on his wife who was running a business during the tough days of the Great Depression.

I imagine in these circumstances, the harbour loses much of its appeal – although it must have been interesting to watch the Sydney Harbour Bridge take shape.


64 Gloucester St (photo my own)

In the year of Robert’s death, Walter Jago romanticised Gloucester Street in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Old people at their windows, with the last rays of life meeting the morning sun, see the younger people go by. Occasionally one stops. There is a gift from a better-to-do neighbour; a cloth-covered tray. Such a tray is always beneficent; the white, smoothly ironed cover inspires anticipation, quickens the heart, and evokes gratitude. The formality of bellringing is unnecessary; the windows open to the street; the people outside brush past the people inside or stop to greet them, When they brush past they do so in a sociable fashion, without envy or disdain. There is no class-pride in this street, for here is the equality of heart; here is the outer church of humanity; here is the flesh and blood of self-cultivation.” 

(1934 ‘GLOUCESTER-STREET.’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 5 October, p. 17. , viewed 16 Oct 2017,

In July 1934, the following advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Snedden Selling SMH 6 Jul 1934

1934 ‘Advertising’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 6 July, p. 17. , viewed 16 Oct 2017,

On 31st March, Robert had passed away. His death certificate states that he had been suffering from endarteritis obliterans (an inflammation of the artery wall so says Google) for ten years and a died of a stroke an hour before.

The death certificate says that the informant was Alexander Snedden whose address is also given as 64 Gloucester St. I like to hope that he was living with them and assisting his parents in his father’s last days.




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