Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Robert Forrester, First Fleeter - Descendants of Susannah Jane Forrester?

Help, please! An intriguing question needs an answer.

Most people connected to the First Fleet period of Australian history are aware of Mollie Gillen’s ‘bible’, The Founders of Australia, published nearly 30 years ago. Mollie’s book is currently being revised by Michael Flynn, the author of another ‘bible’, The Second Fleet: Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790. Some families have compiled lists of the descendants of their particular First Fleeter and the numbers exceed 25,000-30,000 in some cases. Michael has asked me ‘how many Australians can trace their roots in this country back to Robert Forrester?’, but I don’t know the answer.

It would seem useful for us ‘Forresters’ to amalgamate our various sets of records and try to tally up Robert’s numerical impact on Australia. Many of us would be interested to know. Does anyone have a head-start on my own set of 2,534 names, an inflated figure because it includes spouses? Next time I run the calculation I'll exclude spouses! My list basically stops around the year 1900, apart from my own ‘line’, so thousands of additional names are needed to bring the list up to the present day.

Robert had nine children. Only six of them produced offspring, with Robert Jnr and his daughters Margaret, Ann and Isabella having large families. Of Robert’s 49 grandchildren, 11 died ‘without issue’, leaving 38 branches with descendants.

It will be overwhelming to receive everyone’s competing versions of the entire tree, starting with Robert, so for each grandchild I’m looking for descendants who would be willing to send me their data, the reply message headed with that grandchild’s name. The intention is not to publish the data, on the internet (or elsewhere) but to use it for statistical purposes. All living descendants are of interest, as well as forebears. I believe I've established a sufficient level of credibility over the years that you will trust me with your confidential information. 

I have minimal records for nine of the grandchildren, and I will list these separately over the coming days, beginning with Susannah Jane Forrester (a daughter of Robert Jnr). 

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 Fiona 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. And many thanks if you can help. I'll post some progress reports from time to time.

UPDATE, 17 Mar 2018: My tree has grown to 2,598 descendants, excluding spouses, but there is still no word from any of Susannah's descendants. If she happens to be one of your forebears and if you are on Facebook, you'll be excited to know that a special FB group has recently been established for 'Robert Forrester and his descendants'. You are very welcome to nominate yourself as a member of this group.

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