Monday, 27 August 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : P is for...

This week I changed my mind three times. First of all I was going to write my P post about Putney, where my great-grandparents were born. Then I decided that I wanted to include Perth, Australia in my post. Then came my third choice. A post dedicated only to Perth.

My relatives came to Perth from the early 1970s through to the late 1980s. I assumed that we had no known ancestry living in Australia before that time until I began seriously delving into my family history. That was when I discovered that I had two distant great-grand uncles that landed on Australian soil well before we did. One lived in what is known today as Melbourne (it was known as Van Diemen's Land when he arrived off a convict ship in 1847) and the other emigrated to Queensland in the 1960s (and later lived on Magnetic Island).

Before European colonisation, Perth was inhabited by the Whadjuk Noongar people for over 40,000 years. Evidence of this was discovered through archaeological findings along the Swan River. The area where the city of Perth now stands was called Boorloo by the Aboriginals living there at the time of their first contact with white people in 1827. Perth was named by Captain James Stirling in 1829 after Perth, Scotland (in honour of British Army Officer, Sir George Murray 1772-1846). Queen Victoria announced the city status of Perth in 1856.

St Georges Terrace, circa 1903
Perth's main CBD street
St Georges Terrace today
Trinity Church still stands amongst the skyscrapers
Forest Place or Chase, once a thoroughfare with Boans
Department Store on the left
(My Mother & Aunt worked at Boans
when they first came to Perth)
The GPO Building can just be seen on the right,
halfway up the street
Today Forest Chase is closed to traffic and Boans has
long since been demolished.
The GPO Building (the brown building) still stands
Swan Brewery, circa 1879
Swan Brewery today, following redevelopment in 2001
Perth Skyline 1935
Perth Skyline c. 1945
Perth Skyline 1964
Image courtesy of J McCall

My grandmother Lilian in Kings Park
City Skyline in the background, 1982
Perth Skyline 2012
Perth Skyline at night
My favourite way to see the City, from Kings Park

My favourite reasons for living in Perth are its historical buildings and early twentieth century architecture, its Aboriginal heritage and diverse 21st century culture, the Swan River and City foreshore, Kings Park and Botanical Gardens, the endless stretches of white, sandy coastline, Fremantle, the black Swans and the National Parks from Mundaring to the Darling Scarp. Perth is still growing, still changing, still developing and re-developing. We may be isolated from other cities in Australia but we're lucky for it. We might be thought of as selfish or snobbish to some outsiders but we are staunchly proud of our City.

Perth's state symbol, the Black Swan

Acknowledgements and thanks to Battye Library Perth, West Australian Museum, Royal West Australian Historical Society, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and author Tom Austen.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : O is for...

For this week's Alphabet Challenge I chose a topic which I especially love about genealogy. When you find an ancestor in the census return or a GRO certificate, are you like me? Do you feverishly avert your gaze to the occupation column? Finding out what my ancestors "did for a crust" is an all important aspect to finding out so much more about what sort of life they really led.

This is a personal A-Z of my ancestors' occupations (I was quite surprised to find that most of my ancestors had occupations which started with the letter 'P'). There are a wealth of books in local libraries, genealogy societies, and online shops which can help you piece together what your ancestors working life would have been like. Costume books, meticulously researched and written by C.W & P.E Cunnington, Catherine Lucas, and Christabel William-Mitchell also help to put the "meat on the bones" of your ancestors social and occupational history.

Coachman c. 19th Century
I am so proud of my ancestors for their chosen occupations. It conjures up images of hard graft, inner pride, community satisfaction, and physical endurance in all weather conditions.

Agricultural Labourer (or 'Ag Lab' as we genealogists like to call them)
Blacksmith         Bricklayer       Bookseller          Baker
Coachman/Cabman        Carpenter      Clothier        Charwoman
Draper              Domestic Servant       Dairyman       Dustman
Enumerator (Census)      Errand Boy
Fishmonger      Fisherman    French Polisher      Farmer         Factory Hand
Gardener         Glazier          Groom
Horse Hair Curler/Weaver      Harness Maker      Hawker      Hay Carter        Housekeeper
Innkeeper         Ironmonger         Instrument (Musical) Seller
Letter Carrier     Labourer       Laundress
Mattress Maker     Music Hall Attendent       Music Teacher
Nurse          Newsagent
Omnibus Conductor       Ostler       Organist       Overseer
Photographer     Painter     Plumber     Police Constable     Printer    Picture Frame Maker
Projectionist       Professor of Music (Teacher)         Paper-hanging Dealer
Railway Gate Keeper      Railway Plate Layer       Rate Collector
Steward     Shepherd      Saddler       Solicitor       Soldier       Stationer       Seamstress
Tallow Chandler (Candle Maker)      Timber Merchant
Upholsterer     Upholder
Verger       Victualler
Waterman (Thames)     Wheelwright       Weaver

Thames Waterman

Footnote: This blog post marks twelve months since I started blogging here at "A Pocket Full of Family Memories" and I would like to give special thanks to Gould Genealogy and all of my regular readers for coming back again and again to read, leave comments and give me positive encouragement and continuing enthusiasm for my posts.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : N is for...

When it comes to the letter N there is no contest about my subject matter. My great-grandmother was Ellen Jolly, but everybody knew her as Nellie.

I was blessed to grow up near and get to know my great-grandmother. Nellie was truly amazing. She was caring, warm-hearted, and fiercely devoted to her family and her religious beliefs. When I was very young I remember staying at her flat in Bungay and sleeping with her in her bed. She would kneel by her side of the bed every night, holding her rosary beads and she would pray for everybody in the family. It was a long list of names and it took her almost ten minutes to get through them all but we couldn't get into bed until she had named everyone who meant something to her.

Nellie (taken in 1916)

Nellie was a very loyal person, as a daughter, a sister and as a mother and grandmother. She was close with all of her brothers and her eldest sister Alice. She also became firm friends with her one-time neighbour Alice Kent (who married my great-grand uncle Herbert Ward in 1911). When Nellie's father contracted influenza and broncho-pnuemonia in 1916/17, she took him in to her home and nursed him for several weeks until he passed away in the January of 1917.

Nellie with her brothers Herbert, William and Fred
(taken abt 1930)

When The Great War was well into its second year, Nellie's husband enlisted in the Army (due to a recent change in the conscription age) and soon after was posted to France. By this time they had one son (my grandfather) and, during her husband's absence, Nellie clung to her son and they formed a strong bond which would see them through some extremely tough trials and challenges during World War Two. In June 1940 Nellie's son was reported missing and for several months she did not know whether he was alive or dead. When he finally sent word that he was a Prisoner of War in Germany, it tested her very resolve yet it further strengthened her relationship with him.

Nellie was widowed by the time she was forty-two years old. She never re-married. During the 1940s Nellie opened a Boarding House for Single Working Men. She would run this house in Lower Olland Street, Bungay for at least ten to fifteen years until she retired. My mother has vivid memories of the layout of Nellie's house and all the blood, sweat and tears she put into running everything like clockwork. Nellie baked, washed, ironed, sewed, and cleaned and she did it all single-handed. When my mother was old enough she used to stay with Nellie and assist her with small chores but she was never allowed to go into the men's bedrooms. Nellie always ensured that her grand-daughter was downstairs at all times, to help her in the kitchen and at the dining table.

Nellie and Deb (taken in 1976)
Check out the television behind us!
I remember Nellie most of all for her kindness, her soft voice, her prayers and rosary beads, her flat in Bungay with its tiny kitchen and curtained off cupboard, her hard mattress, her jug and bowl on her wash-stand, her clothes (which were almost always navy blue) and her devotion to her friends and extended family. She never said a cross word about anybody, and always encouraged us to see the good in people. Nellie was such a lovely mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and I will always remember her with tenderness. I know she is proud of me for recently writing a book about her son's Army life.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : M is for...

Oh my goodness, tell me it isn't true. Are we really halfway through the History Through the Alphabet blog challenge? Is there really only thirteen more blogs to go? The letter M means three very important things to me, the more obvious one being my mother. The other two things are Music and Medicine, so let's get started.

When I was growing up, music was all around me. My mother contstantly played her 45s and my father used to play guitar in a local group. When I was around seven or eight years of age I started to take notice of music that I liked. Being fed healthy doses of Elvis Presley, The Shadows, The Hollies, and 70s Glam Rock I became quite a fan of popular music. I had no idea then that music was a vital part of my ancestry.

I will never forget the first time I saw my 3xgreat-grandfather's occupation in the census - the woman who was helping me to read it proudly proclaimed across the room that he was a Professor of Music. I still remember how both of us gushed with enthusiasm. Music ran in my family! As time (and more research) went on, I discovered that my ancestors played and sold musical instruments, gave garden party concerts, accompanied silent films (see my blog about Fred Bowes), and also taught music to school age children.

A group of school boys from Holt
Image courtesy of Keith Entwistle
Medicine was another vital part of my ancestry, and I am proud to say that I inherited the love of nursing, pharmacology and first aid from them. When I was a child I was a St John Ambulance Cadet and with my school friends, we attended the Beccles First Aid Training Centre every week. After drifting aimlessly from one job to another in my teenage years, I decided to go back to school and train to become an Enrolled Nurse. When my passion for genealogy took over my life, I discovered that my maternal grandfather was in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War Two, and two of my great-grand Uncles were in the RAMC during The Great War. Again, with Fred Bowes I found out that, as well as serving in the RAMC, he also worked in a Chemist.

My great-grandmother worked as a Domestic Servant for a London physician during the 1890s through to her marriage in 1909. Dr Thomas Grigor Brodie was an emminent physiologist at Kings College and St Thomas Hospital, London and published many articles relating to his experiemental findings. He died in 1916, having served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps as Captain and had enjoyed a professional life both as lecturer and physiologist, in his homeland and overseas. I have just found this memorial on the Kings College website:

Royal Army Medical Corps during The Great War
Image courtesy of

I am extremely proud of my musical and medical ancestors and I thank them wholeheartedly for giving me such strong humanitarian values and an appreciation (and good ear) for music of all varieties and genres.