Saturday, 29 September 2012

U is for Uniform

Originally the "uniform" of this post was the khaki kind. Given the proud involvement of Cam and various members of his family, both past and present, in the military I planned to provide some history for you all. But plans changed when this post just dropped in my lap, as the saying goes. 

The uniform now the subject of this post is white - or rather blue and white striped (see below)!

Not only do we have four generations wearing khaki in the family,  there are three generations wearing the white of registered nurses. To celebrate our most recent generations' progression through their training, Didi was asked to share her recollection of her training. In her own words...

Nursing.LC001.FinalYear1947 by Preciousmetal_au


I had come from Stoneleigh, my parents’ home at Ando, on 30th January a very excited 19 year old to begin a career I had wanted to start for years!

I well remember my Uncle Archie, a dear man, quite old and not driving any more, offering to take me out to RPA the next day. Bless his heart, he and I carried my huge suitcase with a walking stick through the handle by train all the way to the Hospital! We were to start at the Preliminary Training School the next day (alias PTS).

As World War II had not finished and the American soldiers were still in the Nurses’ Home and various other parts of RPA as well, we were to be lodged in a block of units in Summer Hill, a suburb not far away, and commute daily to the Hospital by train morning and evening. What a blow!

We soon settled in to lectures and hands on practice with dummies or other nurses for patients!! We soon learned how to take temperatures, take a pulse rate and how to bathe patients in bed. To do so we had to find a basin, fill it with water and sponge the patient with a warm washer – hands, arms, torso, as far as “possible”. Then hand them the washer for them to wash “possible” themselves! We also had to “rub a back” to avoid bedsores, “carbolise a bed”, clean a bedside locker, make beds with top sheet turned down to an exact measurement, give an injection etc etc.

Six weeks later we graduated from PTS and were to start real nursing in the wards. First of all we were housed in huts specially built for us as the soldiers were still in large parts of the Hospital. These were rather crude and small but we didn’t mind – we were about to start real nursing.

My first ward was a Men’s Medical with rather sick patients. Two new nurses went together to our first ward. There I saw my first “Red Cross”, a man had died. It was very emotional but we soon learned with a senior nurse how to lay out a body and prepare it to go to the Hospital Morgue.

In First Year we were called “Probationers”. Our uniforms were blue/white striped dresses, our white caps had to cover all the hair on our heads which was very difficult with long blonde hair. We had one star on our caps to denote First Year and each year gained another star. We didn’t get our white aprons till much later and stiff cuffs and belts and that was what we wore for the 4 years, with black stockings.

We felt we had good training as we were sent to a different type of ward every few months including Theatres and Psychiatry, Neurosurgery, Children’s, Central and Dressings Autoclaving.

We were also very disciplined. If Matron came into a ward to ‘do rounds’, we had to quickly take off our cuffs, put them under our apron and with hands behind our backs say “Good Morning Matron” and wait till she had finished doing rounds with the Ward Sister and we were dismissed!!

Most of our intake of 32 girls was from the country – only a few were city girls and as we had very little money to go into town to shop on our time off we made very good friends with each other. Those friendships have weathered 68 years and the few of us left meet regularly to lunch in the city. We have minded each others’ babies while new ones were coming and our children are friends and so we cherish all that.

During our training we were in the wards by 5am to make beds and get our patients ready for the day. We usually had a 4 hour pass most days: 9am - 1pm or 10am – 2pm. Some slept through it but sometimes I would get on a tram to the city just to look around!! Evening duty was 1 or 2pm – 7:30pm. Night duty 8pm – 7am for several weeks.

Our final exams took place in the Great Hall at Sydney University, not far from RPA. When our results were out we had a Ball (where Jim and I, having that day bought a ring, felt we were engaged though I couldn’t wear it on duty – I had it on a string around my neck!).

Soon after we knew we would be called to Matron’s Office to find out results and be told where we would go as Junior Sisters with Veils.

I was very surprised to find out I had been 2nd in NSW in my Practical Nursing Exam so Matron wanted me to teach in PTS. With great courage I declined that posting and was sent to King George Hospital, the Gynae and Obstetric part of RPA.

It was the happiest time of my career as my job was to admit patients for surgery, take their history and when they were taken to Theatres I would assist the surgeon and get to know what they had had removed or otherwise tampered with so I could know how to nurse them through their time in Hospital. I stayed there about 18 months, went home to Ando for a time and was married in 1949.

After a time I did some local nursing in patients’ homes and also a while at a Hospital in Gordon owned by a nurse who had been Senior to me and loved to have PA girls on her staff!

After that no more nursing, just babies but I ran a Dental Clinic at the Spastic Centre for 12 years!!

Melodie and Skye, I hope your careers will be as happy as mine was. I am so proud of you both and what you have already achieved and thrilled to have 2 more “Sisters” in my extended family.

All my love,

Sunday, 3 June 2012

T is for Tartan

You remember that little challenge I started in April... I still have a few letters left and after the below message from cousin Helen:
hey steff, would you know the Cameron Clan Tartan by any chance? ive googled and you get a few..thanks so much! Hel
it seems a good time to continue on with the planned topic....

Today T is for Tartan. As in the patterned cloth that most associate with Scotland. As in the ties, kilts, tea towels and scarves that anyone with Scottish surname has received as a souvenir from a friend visiting Scotland!

There are 4 Cameron tartans (described best on the Clan Cameron website...)

From left to right: We commoners can wear this 'basic' Cameron tartan but not the second, the Cameron of Lochiel tartan, which should only be worn by members of the Chief's family. The third, Cameron of Erracht is more a regimental / military tartan and the last is the Hunting Cameron tartan because the basic Cameron tartan, with its fetching green squares on a red sett with its golden line is considered a little bright!

In anticipation of this post I did a bit of reading and found that tartan doesn't seem to have originated in Scotland. According to Wikipedia (who summarises everything so neatly I do tend to hit there first when looking for information on a new topic...) tartan as we know it wasn't a Scottish thing until sometime in the 16th century. Before this it was a more central European thing and tartan material has also been found on a 3000 year old mummy in western China. Who knew...

Once tartan was introduced in Scotland though it became quite the fashion for Highlanders. Not to differentiate between the different clans as Hollywood suggests in Braveheart but rather different types of tartan developed to different regional tastes and of course, resources. And because the tartan was associated with the Highlanders (who in turn were the majority of Jacobites who gave the English crown a bit of a scare in the 18th century) the wearing of tartan was outlawed in 1746 except by army regiments. When the Act was repealed in 1782 tartan wasn't just a Highland fashion anymore but representative of Scotland generally. Eventually various tartans became associated with each clan and were we to meet on the field in battle today it would probably be a little easier to tell friend from foe.

Emma Watson doesn't look too common in our tartan! :op

T is for Thanks

Thank you so much for your patience...  Nothing posted for a whole month but not without reason. I started a new job on 1 May and my attention and energies have been somewhat diverted. I'm slowly getting into the rhythm of the new role so stay tuned for more regular updates.

A BIG THANK YOU too to Maria from Genies Down Under for mentioning this little blog on her May podcast. Very much appreciated. That reminds me, time for the June episode!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

S is for Sea Spray

This post could also have been entitled 'S is for Shipping' or 'S for is Serious Accident' or the long-winded and tongue-twisted, yet descriptive, 'S is for Serious Shipping Accident on the Sea Spray'. 

The Sea Spray is another of the handful of ships owned at some stage by our Robert. From what little research I have done in preparation for this belated S posting (yes, I am aware that the AtoZ Challenge was supposed to finish on Monday but I am determined to complete it, date be damned!) it appears the 296 ton brig was built in 1864, purchased at some point by our Robert and then put on the run between Newcastle and New Zealand delivering coal, timber or even expensive champange! During one such ditch crossing, having disgorged one load of cargo and while being filled with another, our Robert who not only owned the ship but also worked in the capacity of boatswain, suffered yet another serious accident which saw him knocked unconscious, mostly buried under ballast and assumed dead. 

He survived with nothing more than concussion, thankfully, but the accident underscores the seriousness and risk involved in many occupations and in particular, shipbuilding and/or sailing as many other seamen aren't so fortunate to return from a journey. Two of Robert's brother included. 

[1] Auckland Star, Volume VI, Issue 1680, 7 July 1875, Page 2. Found on NZ's answer to Trove, Papers Past

Monday, 30 April 2012

R is for Robert

As in our Robert. The reason we're here and that we're Australian.

I have a list of names, dates, events and places to fill in Robert's past but, as I decried in my previous post, what I really want to know about Robert (and all our other dead rels) is why? Why Australia? Why Betsy? Why Newcastle? etc.  If someone were kind enough to build a time machine I could go back and ask him.... 

Until such time though, I've tried to put together a creative way of viewing the facts and dates I've collated regarding Robert. I found a cool (but sometimes slow) website called Dipity that has awesome interactive timelines and have put together the below for Robert. Have a play... it's fun! 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Q is for Questions

Genealogy to me feels like a never-ending attempt to answer the question Where did I come from? or perhaps the more existential Who am I? I attempted to answer the first question in this blog's infancy with the creatively titled Where do I come from? Obviously a very literal answer! The second question is a little harder and may take a lifetime.

Q therefore is for Questions. As in an ever-growing and seldom-ending list of questions that begin:

Who is?
What was?
Where is?
Why did?
How much?

The questions that are in the forefront of my mind whenever I time travel through documents, websites, articles and photos, (and the ones that can't really be answered with facts and dates, or names or numbers) tend to begin WHY?

Why did Robert come to Australia? Why did he marry Betsy? Why did three of his four daughters not marry? Why did Elspeth come to Australia? Why did their brother Alexander stay behind?

The talk I attended at the beautifully housed Society of Australian Genealogists on Kent Street last Saturday threw up a handful of reasons to help answer why Robert and Elspeth may have come to Australia like: greater opportunities for their kids, better pay and economic conditions, encouragement from family or to join family, financial incentives like their way being paid, and perhaps landownership that would otherwise escape them. All very reasonable answers... But short of finding a diary, or letters, (or creating a real time machine to ask them myself) the answers I formulate are purely speculative.

And so the journey continues...

*the cool image above was created thanks to Wordle which I heard about on Genies Down Under!

P is also for Podcasts

I mentioned the National Archives Podcast that I enjoy listening to as I delve into our past. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg, or one tree in a forest of podcasts available to an amateur genealogist. Or, anyone really. There is pretty much a podcast available for every subject, language, topic, interest, point in history, science... you get the message! Even more amazing is that every podcast I have ever come across is free! The passion that people have for their area of expertise means that they are incredibly generous is sharing their knowledge and so for geeks like me, it's a feast.

One podcast that I really must mention though is Genies Down Under expertly put together by Maria.

Released monthly, Genies Down Under is an hour or so long podcast with tips and tricks for enhancing your search or presenting your results. All with an Australian bent. Almost all of the other genealogical podcasts I have found tend towards an American accent. As a result the records and techniques being related are slightly different. She has definitely filled a gap in the market in an interesting and informative manner.

So, if you're looking for a companion while doing your search - put Maria on in the background!

P is for Photographs

Aunty Tine's Photos, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

O is for Occupations

A friend likes to find out what someone does for a living by asking "What do you do to keep the wolves at bay?" This can elicit any number of responses, from "I'm a teacher" or "I drink" to "I'm a lawyer" (and yes, I know that some may say that the lawyers are the wolves that people are working so hard to keep away!).

I have one friend who, in response to such a question, would most like say that she is professionally unemployed. For me, I get to say that I'm a travel agent (or if I'm feeling particularly poetic, that I make people's dreams come true). Formerly, it would have been that I was a wolf lawyer having managed to try out these two very different careers so far (out of the average three that we Gen Xers are supposed to have in our life time).

I still don't really know what I want to be when I grow up but I think I get to say that I am the first travel agent in the family, at least I think I do. I know though that I wasn't the first lawyer in Cam's Fam (or on my paternal line for that matter). Having been staring at a number of census responses recently, which often notes the occupations of those being 'census-ed' (that's word, I'm sure) I thought I would share with you how some of our forebears kept the wolves at bay!

And so today O is for Occupations. As in:

Seaman - like John and James Cameron, Robert's younger brothers
Master Mariner - like Torquil Harold Urquhart
Fenar* - like Janet Cramond
Domestic servant - like Janet Ann Crighton, Jessie's recently discovered daughter
Miliner - like Janet Ann Cameron, daughter of Alexander, brother of Robert (so our Robert's niece)
Scholar - like pretty much every family member who grew up in Scotland and went to school
Journeyman hatter - like Pa
Nursing Sister - like Didi, Mum, Aunty Tine and a few others!
Baker - like Betsy Murdoch before she married our Robert
Teacher - like our Robert's daughter, Margaret Sim Cameron
Farmer - like Didi's dad, Stan Clark
Accountant - like Didi's mum, Violet Jowett
Bootmaker - like Thomas Clark, Didi's great grandfather
Baptist Minister - like Didi's paternal grandfather Rev. Henry Clark
Painter - like Albert Jowett, Didi's maternal grandfather
And, as is most common amongst the men in Cam's Fam who at some stage were born or lived in Garmouth:
Shipwright - our Robert, his father Alexander and his brother Alexander.

*In the 1871 census Janet Cameron (nee Cramond) was referred to a "Fenar". In the 1861 census she had been noted as a House Proprietor, which is basically the same thing. As best I can tell, a fenar is an old word for someone who is in the actual possession of or entitled to receive the rents of lands.  

Monday, 23 April 2012

N is National Archives

Both Australia, England and Scotland have National Archives. Mahoosive great buildings that store thousands upon millions of documents/records pertaining to the Nation's past. We are so lucky that so many of these documents are being digitised - it's a slow, expensive project but it has already made my job easier. The National Archives of Australia (NAA) has a searchable online database, through which I have found and ordered (for a sum) records relating to the family.

What I have found, though, that are fantastic are podcasts on iTunes created and published by the National Archives of the United Kingdom. Each podcast provides background to topics are varied as "Anxiety, Dread and Disease: British Ports 1834 - 1870", "When a Woman is not a Woman" (something to do with pensions?) and Nineteen Century merchant seafarers and their records". 

Free for all, I strongly recommend checking them out:

M is for Mistake

Soooo, I have to admit to an error. They happen. Because I'm only human, M is for Mistake.

There are a few cardinal rules of genealogy which include [1]:
5. ALWAYS have at least two separate sources of proof for each event...
6. REMEMBER that everything is only speculation until verified...
You remember Jessie Cameron? The younger sister of our Robert? Born 1839 and mentioned in the 1841 census as a 2 year old?  

I didn't find any mention of a Jessie in the 1851 or 1861 census. Coupled with the inscription on Cameron Family gravestone in Urquhart Old Graveyard that reads "Jessie who died in infancy" I jumped to the conclusion that Jessie (born 1839) died young and didn't follow her line any further. I  had what I thought were the two necessary separate sources of proof...

Confusion was the state I was living in when I read the 1871 and 1881 census for mum Janet who is noted as living with her granddaughter "Jessie Ann Crighton". Which daughter married a Crighton? I have Elspeth in Australia and Jane marrying a Horn and Jessie buried with her father... And our Camerons, steeped in tradition, probably weren't progressive enough to have the boys take a wife's name!

And therein lies the problem - names! I assumed that a. Jessie on the tombstone was born a Jessie and that b. the Jane Cameron I found who married a John Horn in 1845 was our Jane because, well, they were both living in Garmouth and our Jane, if the bride, was at the very marriageable age of 22 years! 

And, of course, the universe has made an ass out of me because I now have evidence which suggests that little Jessie born 1839 and presumed dead actually lived long enough to marry and have a daughter! 

The next reasonable conclusion then is that the child born Jane in 1823 is the child referred to as Jessie on the tombstone, (because Janet = Jane = Jessie and they seem to be used interchangeably) and Robert's older sister Jane therefore died in infancy.  

Let me rewrite history then and note the following:

Jane Cameron born 1823 died in infancy

Jessie Cameron born 1839 married Philip Crighton in Garmouth on 14 December 1864 [2].  

On 27 August 1866 they had a lawful daughter named Janet Ann Crighton (aka Jessie Ann) [3]. 

Sadly, Jessie died on 5 Aug 1867 when she was only 28 and Janet Ann was about 1. I don't have any record (yet) of what her dad was up to until his death in 1909 aged 69 while Janet Ann lived until 71, dying on 7 Apr 1938. [4]

[1] Thanks to U3A Lismore Inc
[2] 1864 Marriage record for the parish of Urquhart for Jessie Cameron and Philip Crighton duly records the mother of the bride as Janet Cameron (Crammond) and the father as Alexander Cameron (Shipwright). And the bride is aged 25 which means she was born in about 1939.
[3] 1866 Birth records in the parish Urquhart including Janet Ann Crighton. Father is Philip Crighton (Seaman) and mother Jessie Crighton (Cameron) married 14 December 1864. Informant of the birth is Janet Cameron (grandmother).
[4] Monumental Inscriptions: Urquhart Old Churchyard edited by Helen Mitchell and Bruce B Bishop p. 24, ref. 147

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

L is for Language

My mother tongue is English (Australian English to be precise). Je parle un peu francais[1]. Och jag kan  svenska [2]. I have studied Latin and Japanese but remember very little and like many travellers, I can order a beer in Russian, Spanish and German! Notwithstanding, I have had a learn a number of new terms and phrases to assist my genealogical journey that I didn't know before.

And so, L is for Language.

When I do come across an unfamiliar word or phrase I happily look it up. I've never shied from dictionaries and Google is a my best friend, providing answers to questions just as quickly as I can think of them. Knowledge is power and some words and phrases are tiny windows into the past.

I've already noted some words, including "exlineal" (that I'm determined to get back into common usage!) and most recently "kirk". In that same post was "antenuptial" which is probably self-evident but which I looked up just to be certain!

Some other phrases and terms that had cropped up in my journey include (in no particular order and thanks largely to Wikipedia):

banns: the public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage between two specified persons. 
a burgh of barony: a type of Scottish town. They were distinct from royal burghs as the title was granted to a tenant-in-chief, a landowner who held his estates directly from the crown. They were created between 1450 and 1846, and conferred upon the landowner varying trading rights (for example the right to hold weekly markets or to trade overseas). 
apoplexy: used to describe "bleeding" in a stroke or also to describe any sudden death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness, especially one in which the victim died within a matter of seconds after losing consciousness
shipwright: an old-fashioned term for a ship builder or ship carpenter which may involve anything from physically constructing or repairing a ship to being involved in its design.
brig: a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts
Laird: a member of the gentry; historically Lairds rank below a Baron and above an Esquire and is a heritable title in Scotland. The title is granted to the owner of a substantial and distinctive landed estate in Scotland, not part of a village or town and that lies outwith a burgh. 

[1] I speak a little French.
[2] And I can speak Swedish.

Monday, 16 April 2012

K is for Kirk

Kirk is not just a guy's name. In Scotland it is both a general word for "church", which is derived from an ancient Greek word (according to Wikipedia) and also "the Church". As in the Church of Scotland.

The Church of Scotland was responsible for the formalisation of relationships and recognition of births in most cities and towns in Scotland two centuries ago and most Scots were members. Certainly, our family was no different as all of Alexander and Janet's children were baptised in the Kirk and Robert and Betsy were married "after banns according to the forms of the Church of Scotland". I only know this (and have been able to trace as far back as I have) because the Kirk's agents were in the practice of noting the major life events of its members well before it was required by law. It wasn't mandatory to note important things like births, death and marriages until 1855 and even after then it was generally the Church clerk who continued this practice.

I began my search for Cam's Fam through digitised parish records on Scotland's People and it's the first place I go to locate and confirm the existence of dead rels.  The Kirk's records often contain juicy information like parents' names, occupations, area of residence and of course dates of birth. They note whether it was a "lawful" birth (ie. in the parents were married) or, in the case of John Horn, barely!

John Horn is the husband of our Robert's sister Jane [addendum: our Jane died 'in infancy' so John Horn is not related but married a different Jane Cameron - see post M is for Mistake]. Jane and John were married on 28 June 1845 and as best I can tell, had three daughters. According to census records, he was a ship's carpenter in Garmouth and was born in Banff (a neighbouring shire) in about 1819. Last night I threw out a net to fish a little more for details about John and came across what I believe is the parish record of his birth:

It reads:  
July 18th 1819: Alexander Horn servant at Braes has a child by his in antenuptial fornication, by his wife Christian Grant, baptised and named John. Witnesses, John Grant, and Adam Thomson. 
While John's parents were married, the Church was very bothered by the timing of conception... If I can get a hold of the Kirk Session records it would probably indicate the fine they had to pay for their fun...

Thursday, 12 April 2012

J is for James

J is for James. As in the name meaning 'supplanting' or 'seizing by the heel' in Hebrew (originating from something biblical). As in the 16th most popular baby name for boys in Australia in 2010. As in the name shared by my brother, my grandfather, my great great grandfather, my third great grand uncle, my fourth great grand uncle...

Cam's Fam is pretty traditional in the naming game. Not only do we have Alexanders populating the tree in every generation but also James. There are Jameses in every generation, sometimes two, and in each different branch of the tree. It makes researching challenging and reinforces the need to have at least two sources for each 'event' that you're claiming as fact. Even more complicating is that James is a popular name generally and then add a little more confusion with a common surname like Cameron!

Just some of the 26 Jameses that I have in our family tree are as follows (yes - twenty-six, including blood and marriage connections) :

1. My brother James

2. James Murdoch Cameron (aka Cam, Jim or Pa)

3. James Alexander Cameron born 1864 (Pa's grandfather and Robert's eldest son)

4. James Cameron born 1833 (our Robert's brother)

5. James Cameron born 1856 (Robert's nephew, son of his brother Alexander)

6. James Cameron born 1787 (Robert's uncle, brother to his father Alexander)

7. James Murdoch born abt. 1790 (Robert's father-in-law, Betsy's dad)

8. James Moir born abt. 1787 (husband of Jean Cramond, sister of Robert's mum and so his uncle)

9. James Sim born 1769 (Betsy's grandfather)

10. James Badenoch born before 1740 sometime (Betsy's great grandfather and so my 4th great grandfather)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I is for Internet

'I' should be for Immigration but it's probably a little premature to write about something I know very little about! I'm attending a talk entitled Scottish Immigration to Australia being presented by the Society of Australia Genealogists next Saturday and hope that I will informed enough afterwards to share more information with you then. 

Instead, I is now for Internet. As in what I spend waaay too much time on (or is it more accurate to say where I spend too much time?)! As in this intangible 'thing' rocks my world daily and has revolutionised communication and information-sharing on a global scale. As in the greatest weapon in a genie's arsenal.

I honestly don't think I would be as active in my investigations if I had started B.C (before computers). My compliments to all the genealogists, amateur and professional, (like Didi) who did it old school: writing letters to distantly related family members or local historical societies and waiting weeks or even months for responses; visiting Births, Deaths and Marriages offices to inspect and photocopy original records; heading to local libraries and fighting motion-sickness on the microfiche machines to view old newspapers. While I was one of those kids who had pen friends all over the world, who asked a lot of questions and who loved looking up encyclopaedias or dictionaries (just to know "why" or "how" or "who"), it makes me impatient just thinking about having to wait!

I'm not Gen Y - definitely Gen X - but I have become very used to information being immediately accessible and the convenience of it  literally being at my finger tips. I love the instant gratification of typing "robert AND cameron AND (newcastle OR wickham)" into a site like Trove and seeing the results appear. Of websites such as,, Scotland's People and with their vast repositories of history (my history) available for me to search at any time convenient to me. Of being able to email people like the Melbourne-based genie and, within 24 hours of first contact, have a full bio of a previously little-known ancestor complete with photos and primary source material. Many of the sites I find useful are listed to the right, filed under the original heading "Useful Links" and I am continually adding to it. 

Not everything is available online so I know I have a few pilgrimages in my future. In the meantime I will continue digging through cyberspace for the little pieces of our family's history that have been electronically fossilised. 

H is for Harold

H is for Homes Hats Harold. 

If you've checked out the tab headed April 2012's A to Z Blogging Challenge Details you will have noticed the list of the topics I have written about/plan to write about. You're then probably wondering how on earth I have changed from 'Homes' to 'Hats' to 'Harold'? 

H was going to be for the various houses our ancestors called home but that will be more fun when I have photos. 

H was then going to be for 'hats' as Pa was a hat salesman, as was his father but I don't have enough detail yet so I'll save that topic for another time. 

So now H is for Harold. As in Captain Torquil Harold Urquhart (more commonly known by his middle name than his awesomely Norse-sounding first name). 

I should note that this post is not so much about what I know of Harold, rather how I found him and why this finding is so important (I'm very excited by this finding. I know. I need a life!).  

He first came to my attention a few years ago thanks to a reference on the Stockton Historical Society's old webpage next to our Robert's name as partner in the Flying Cloud. A few lazy searches then didn't turn up anything more about this Mr Urquhart (not even a first name!) so I left him alone. That is, until more recently, when I was sifting through the treasures on Trove relating to the Flying Cloud. I found that Mr Urquhart was Captain Torquil Harold Urquhart, and the captain at the helm when the Flying Cloud was wrecked.  

Enter my friend Google. Searching this long full name returned a small post made by a Melbourne-based genie requesting information anyone might have had relating to such a named person and his marriage to an Elspet Cameron who had also been married to an Alexander Mearns. Elspet hadn't come to Australia, had she?

A faint little bell rang... there was a very short mention of a wedding at our Robert's residence in Wickham in 1886...

The names of the blushing bride, a Helen Mearns, and groom, James M'Lauchlin, were completely unfamiliar at the time of first reading. That our Robert was the 'uncle of the bride' though meant it was probably a married sister's daughter walking down the aisle. By a process of elimination: Jane married a Horn and had remained in Scotland, Jessy died in infancy... of course! The newest dead rel, Elspet! Coupled with the suggestion she had married a Mearn and then Harold meant that a whole new branch began flowering. More exciting is that I hadn't realised that Robert had any family from the old country join him in Australia and here he was, living in the same area as his little sister! 

A few more searches on Trove,'s assisted immigrant lists and NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages and I worked out the following:

Elspet emigrated to Australia in 1857 onboard the Monica 

She married Alexander Mearns in 1960. Their only child, Helen Innes Elizabeth Mearns, was born in 1861. Sadly Alexander died in 1864.

Not long after, in 1866, Elspet married Torquil Harold Urquhart. 

When Flying Cloud wrecked off the coast of South Australia on 4 April 1870 not only was Capt. Urquhart at the helm but he was onboard with his family - a Mrs Urquhart and Miss Urquhart. (I have jumped to the conclusion that this is Helen Mearns as Harold and Elspet didn't have any children together).
Elspeth died aged 42 in 1871.  
Not long after it seems, Harold stopped sailing and moved to Launceston where he remarried and remained until his death in 1894. 

I have to say a massive thanks to the Melbourne-based genie who I emailed in response to his post and who so quickly and generously shared his research and documents with me, and so has splashed a bit more colour and shed more light to an otherwise dark and unexplored corner of the family line. With his permission I will hopefully share these findings in due course! 

And, this whole discovery - that Elspet came to Australia and began her own family and therefore branch of a tree - goes to show that exlineal family are just as important as direct ones!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

G is for Gravestone

I referred earlier to a selection of books I recently ordered from overseas with such engaging titles as The Forgotten Tombstones of Moray that I can't believe you haven't all asked to borrow them! [*] 

Reading such stimulating subject matter lately G is, therefore, for Gravestone

Genealogy today is so much faster and easy thanks largely to the internet. Not all records are digital though and we then rely on the hard work of people who visit out of the way places and publish their findings. As our funny genealogist shares in Rule 4 of the Rules for Genealogy:  
"The ceme­tery where your ances­tor was buried does not have per­pet­ual care, has no office, is acces­si­ble only by a muddy road, has snakes, tall grass, and lots of bugs … and many of the old grave­stones are in bro­ken pieces, stacked in a cor­ner under a pile of dirt."
That was certainly the experience Mum and I had driving around Garmouth looking for Old Urquhart Cemetery which we found next to an empty house and a few paddocks just off Station Road in Urquhart. One mob of hard-working people busting axels down muddy roads and fighting the bugs is the Moray Burial Ground Research Group (MBGRG). Their hard work transcribing the gravestones in Morayshire helped us to not only locate where our Robert's parents were buried so Mum and I could visit them but also identify/confirm the identity of a couple of his siblings: John and James. (See the post about Jessy for more detail on the gravestone and its inscription). 

Deaths weren't often recorded in parish records because of the cost involved to the family in paying "mortcloth dues", so gravestones are sometimes the only record of death and manner of death. They also give us more clues to occupations, locations etc...

My readings through the loving inscriptions left on the gravestones of the residents of Garmouth and surrounds haven't thrown up any earth-shattering discoveries (yet) but I have found reference to a few exlineal family members including Betsy Murdoch's sister (our Robert's sister-in-law): 
Erected by ANN MURDOCH in memory of her beloved husband
JAMES BRANDER, Shipmaster, Garmouth
who died 8th November 1880 aged 50 years.
Also of the said ANN MURDOCH
who died 10th January 1929 aged 89 years.
who died 4th April 1944 aged 64 years.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" [1]

[*] The delivery included:

The Lands and People of Moray (Part 14): Garmouth, Kingston, Essil, Lunan and Newtown by Bruce B Bishop
Monumental Inscriptions: Urquhart Old Churchyard edited by Helen Mitchell and Bruce B Bishop
The Forgotten Tombstones of Moray (Vol 4): Lhanbryde Old Churchyard, Urquhart Churchyard, Spynie Old Churchyard by the Moray Burial Ground Research Group
The Lands and People of Moray: Mortcloth Dues and Miscellaneous Death Records by Bruce B Bishop
Speyside monumental inscription pre 1855 edited by Alison Mitchell
The Forgotten Tombstones of Moray (Vol 1): Dipple and Essil and Kirkhill by the Moray Burial Ground Research Group
Monumental Inscriptions: Essil Old Churchyard edited by Helen Mitchell and Bruce B Bishop

You know, just in case you'd like to read them!

[1] The Forgotten Tombstones of Moray (Vol 1): Dipple and Essil and Kirkhill by the Moray Burial Ground Research Group, page 30, Old Essil Churchyard, ref. 337.