Thursday, September 29, 2016

Legacy of Andrew Goodwin & Lydia Munro

Books about Australia’s earliest days of European settlement are becoming thick on the shelves, so it’s rewarding to find one containing a new angle on the accepted version of events.

The Legacy of Andrew Goodwin & Lydia Munro by Patricia Kennedy corrected my understanding of the supposed foundation 'orgy story' of 6 February 1788 and, after meeting the author at an event in Melbourne in May 2016, I wrote a blog post about it. On pages 22-25 of Patricia’s book, the conventional views about Lydia Munro and her rape charge against William Boggis in September 1788 are also challenged, if briefly.

Writing family history is perhaps the most difficult genre for any writer to tackle. In part this is because its story line usually does not begin with a coherent overview but emerges in bits and pieces, as research progresses. Then comes the challenge of deciding on a meaningful structure. Patricia has settled on the structure I used in 2008 when writing about my Dennis forebears from Cornwall, this being to start with the founding couple, move to a chapter on all of their children and then select the child of personal interest to the author and repeat this process down through the generations.  This approach somewhat limits the eventual ‘market’ for the book, but works if the opening chapters appeal to all descendants of the founding couple.

This book should please all Goodwin descendants, as a lengthy chapter covers the Goodwins’ nine children, the first born in Sydney in 1789 and the others born on Norfolk Island. With only two sons and seven daughters, the Goodwin surname, with any number of spelling variations, struggles to survive in subsequent generations. Patricia, researching her husband John’s family, chose to follow the Goodwins’ second child Sarah, born on Norfolk Island in 1791, and then the line Sarah and her husband Benjamin Briscoe created through their son William Briscoe.

The book interested me because my own forebear Robert Forrester came with Andrew Goodwin on the First Fleet vessel Scarborough, and also went to Norfolk Island, but returned to Sydney after 18 months. This meant that my knowledge of the settlers’ enforced move after 1807, from Norfolk Island to the newly-established settlement around Hobart in Van Diemens Land (Tasmania), was rather sketchy.  It was helpful for me to read Patricia’s summary of Collins’ attempt to settle Port Phillip Bay at Sorrento in 1803 and the change of plans dictated by the lack of its supply of fresh water, with Collins moving south to ‘create’ Hobart.

The Goodwin family’s adventures in Tasmania then become a series of ‘Days of Our Lives’ cameos, with multiple marriages, name changes, some divorces, children born to different or unknown fathers, most of whom were fresh convicts arriving from England, activities on the wrong side of the law, drinking problems and stories of gritty, often long-lived women making their choices and enduring everything that life could throw at them. Tracking all of these events through the various name changes was clearly challenging and quite an undertaking.

Should there ever be a Second Edition, some of the detail in the Family Charts, so valuable to readers in following any family history, needs to be slightly amended. While the correct names are there, dates and places do not always match the written text.

Patricia describes her genealogical credentials on the inside back cover of her book, which fulfils all of the requirements for the Alexander Henderson Award offered by the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies. It contains a ‘pre-Australia’ chapter on Andrew’s and Lydia’s lives in England, a clear table of contents, family charts, some interesting illustrations,  eight pages of appendices, a five page bibliography, twelve pages of endnotes and a seven page index. 

The research effort involved, its cost and the time expended is not for everyone, and descendants of Andrew Goodwin & Lydia Munro should be very grateful for Patricia’s hard work and the clear presentation in her book, available here.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bullocks, not Bollocks

Sometimes it takes a while before a 'brilliant idea' for a post becomes a reality. But, as the cliché goes, 'better late than never'. And another cliché tells us that 'a picture tells a thousand words'. It's true. I want you to know there's now a 'moving picture' version of the word picture I struggled to convey back in 2012 in my book Southwark Luck, although I tried my best in the 'Sawyer' chapter.  It involved bullocks.


Last summer, on ABC TV, a wonderful modern-day depiction allowed me to step back in time to Charlie Martin's strenuous life as a timber-getter, bullock-wagon driver and bush sawyer in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s of New South Wales. It's hard to conceive of a man raised in the heart of London at Southwark, conscious of fashion, with the bright lights of the Royal Circus round the corner, becoming such an isolated worker during his long years of exile in Australia.

He worked with a few mates (usually his brothers-in-law) in the forests of the lower Blue Mountains, in the area extending behind Wilberforce towards Kurrajong. Via claims made in the Court of Requests (pp 80-82 of Southwark Luck), there are hints that he was contracted at one point to help clear the track up the steep escarpment to Kurrajong Heights, prior to the construction of the Bell's Line of Road. 

My time travel came courtesy of a repeat showing of that wonderful ABC program, Landline. The scenes showed, more than my words could manage, the whole process of Charlie's bullocky (muscle-bound) occupation and the skill involved in training and managing a team of bullocks. Watch it here. It's well worth it. Definitely not bollocks.

Note: If you're a descendant of the Charles Martin who arrived in Sydney Cove on the General Stuart on 31 December 1818, and you don't yet have a copy of my award-winning book Southwark Luck: the story of Charles Homer Martin, Ann Forrester and their children, then you should have a copy. Of course you should! Get it here.

As a descendant of Charlie's you're also the descendant of a First Fleeter, Ann's father Robert Forrester of Scarborough fame, and you'll need his story too, available here. Postage costs are cheaper overall if you order both at the same time.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Revisiting Robert Forrester's 1794 Grant

It’s seven years since Robert Forrester, First Fleeter was published. In that time technology has overtaken our lives and Google Earth has become a godsend to many, including family historians. I love Google Earth even if it has proved me wrong in my understanding of Robert Forrester’s first land grant of 1794

I have to fess up. Robert’s first land grant was not where I thought it was. It did not lie alongside Deerubbin Park but was further along Cornwallis Road. 

I was alerted to this fact by that excellent researcher Michael Flynn, as he compared the old parish map with today’s view from space. Here’s the original parish map: 
And here’s much that same view today, courtesy of Google Earth. The view is slightly extended at the bottom edge to show the location of St Matthew's Church, just to the left of the word Google. It's hard to get your bearings when you drive along Cornwallis Road, but close examination of the Google Earth map of Robert’s original land grant reveals a shed complex close to its northern boundary. Michael Doyle’s old grant has a shed complex with a shiny roof relatively close to its southern boundary. My objective was to find this combination of features at ground level.
Recently I spent a fascinating hour of detective work, simulating a drive down Cornwallis Road, Windsor, NSW while sitting at my desk in Melbourne. It was fun. I could turn my imaginary car around and drive back the other way, and turn sideways to look at individual properties.  Amazing stuff.

What was I looking for? As explained above, I wanted to locate adjoining properties with the correct building configurations as viewed from space. Eventually I worked out that the address of Robert’s property today is 104 Cornwallis Road.

Next I asked myself - by what landmark can this property be identified when driving along Cornwallis Road from Windsor?  Here's an easy guide. Drive past the avenue of palm trees and the ‘Windsor Turf’ sign on your left, and stop when you reach the large spreading tree seen in the background of the following picture.
Opposite the tree is the sign commemorating members of the Eather family drowned in the 1867 floods.  The sign fronts their old block (originally the Lachlin Ross grant). Next door, beyond the Eather farm gates, was Robert’s land, the property with the green grass in the middle distance of the next photo.
Drive on a short distance down Cornwallis Road, either in reality or via Google Earth, across the land which was once Robert’s original grant. His northerly boundary is marked by the fence post between two driveways leading towards the Hawkesbury River. The property on the right hand side of the fence post belonged to Robert in 1794.
Robert’s original grant was always bisected by Cornwallis Road. Turning 180 degrees from the fence post and looking across the road, the remaining section of his property faces the lower Blue Mountains. The whole property is now as level as a bowling green and apparently used for growing turf.
Beyond the large green shed on his former block, another section of the paddock is screened from the river by a high levee bank. Oh for that degree of flood protection in his day! 

The view of the river when standing on this levee bank is today obscured by trees and tall shrubs, but it’s still possible to see the tower of St Matthew’s through the foliage. Robert spent the last few years of his life living back on his original grant, in the abode beside the river, enjoying this same view of the church tower. Don't forget that his son-in-law Charles Homer Martin was punished for his part in the building scam involving St Matthew’s Church. (More details are in my book Southwark Luck.)
Steep river banks, lush foliage and rampant weeds make life difficult for photographers, but here’s another view of the Hawkesbury River taken while standing on Robert’s old land. The river flows from left to right.
Should I ever get to revise the Forrester book, pages 114-117 will need to be amended in line with this 'virtual tour'. Meanwhile, copies of Robert Forrester, First Fleeter can be purchased through BookPOD.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Robert Forrester, First Fleeter - Descendants of Phoebe Caroline Lovell?


How many descendants does Robert Forrester have? This ninth and final post in the series explained earlier asks the question- are you a descendant of Robert's granddaughter Phoebe Caroline Lovell, who married William Schmidt at Geelong in 1853? Can you help put some solid branches on this stunted fragment of the Forrester family tree? Or even a few leaves and twigs?



Please send your info to me via email or contact me via Facebook. As explained in my previous posts, your information will remain confidential (to me) and will not be published online or elsewhere. The simple aim is to collect statistics. Our starting point (from my own database) is 2,534 descendants. Some progress reports on numbers will appear here from time to time.

Robert Forrester, First Fleeter - Descendants of Susannah Lovell?


How many descendants does Robert Forrester have? Continuing the search explained in an earlier post - are you a descendant of his granddaughter Susannah Lovell, who first married John Byrnes Marshall in Sydney in 1860 and then married William Weaver at Araluen in 1868?

If so, can you help put some branches on this part of the tree? Or even a few leaves and twigs? Sometimes we are a bit vague about the full names and dates for our relatives, so I don’t need to have every i dotted and every t crossed. If you know family members as cousin Mary or nephew Jack, that will do for the purposes of this exercise.

Please send your info to me via email or contact me via Facebook. As explained in my earlier post, your information will remain confidential (to me) and will not be published online or elsewhere. The simple aim is to collect statistics. Our starting point (from my own database) is 2,534 descendants. Some progress reports on numbers will appear here from time to time.

Many thanks if you can help. I'll post up another grandchild's 'call for details' tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Robert Forrester, First Fleeter - Descendants of Martha Lovell?


How many descendants does Robert Forrester have? Continuing the search explained in an earlier post - are you a descendant of his granddaughter Martha Lovell, who married David Bell in Sydney in 1855 and moved to Melbourne about ten years later?

If so, can you help put some branches on this part of the tree? Or even a few leaves and twigs? Sometimes we are a bit vague about the full names and dates for our relatives, so I don’t need to have every i dotted and every t crossed. If you know family members as cousin Jack or niece Amy, that will do for the purposes of this exercise.

Please send your info to me via email or contact me via Facebook. As explained in my earlier post, your information will remain confidential (to me) and will not be published online or elsewhere. The simple aim is to collect statistics. Our starting point (from my own database) is 2,534 descendants. Some progress reports on numbers will appear here from time to time.

Many thanks if you can help. I'll post up another grandchild's 'call for details' tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Robert Forrester, First Fleeter - Descendants of Sarah Isabella Lovell?


How many descendants does Robert Forrester have? Continuing the search explained in an earlier post - are you a descendant of his granddaughter Sarah Isabella Lovell, who married John Daley in Pitt Town NSW in 1846 and soon moved to Melbourne?

If so, can you help put some branches on this part of the tree? Or even a few leaves and twigs? Sometimes we are a bit vague about the full names and dates for our relatives, so I don’t need to have every i dotted and every t crossed. If you know family members as cousin Jack or niece Amy, that will do for the purposes of this exercise.

Please send your info to me via email or contact me via Facebook. As explained in my earlier post, your information will remain confidential (to me) and will not be published online or elsewhere. The simple aim is to collect statistics. Our starting point (from my own database) is 2,534 descendants. Some progress reports on numbers will appear here from time to time.

Many thanks if you can help. I'll post up another grandchild's 'call for details' tomorrow.