Monday, 27 January 2014

Australia Day Challenge 2014: C’mon Aussie

Pauleen Cass of Family History Across the Seas blog has set a geneameme challenge for Australia Day.  She wants to see how deep your roots go into our Aussie soil.  It is supposed to be quick & easy, but it has taken me all day, all night, & now into the next morning to complete it – I guess this just goes to show my research (& software databases) aren’t as organised as they should be!  Jackie from Jax Trax you are so lucky that you did an "Arrivals" table - I spent a long time writing an informal one to refer to.

The geneameme comes in two parts: one to test whether your family is ridgey-didge and the second to show us how Australia runs in your veins, without any flag-waving and tattoo-wearing. Shout it out, be proud and make everyone wish they lived in this wide brown land of ours.If for you Australia Day is Survival Day, tell us your family’s story and show up our Johnny-come-lately status.Feel free to add and subtract and even add a short story at the end. The world’s your oyster, so have a go! C’mon Aussie C’mon C’mon. - Pauline Cass.
Here is my response:


My first ancestor to arrive in Australia was: I’m not 100% sure which order the First Fleet ships arrived in, but according to sources the Alexander arrived first, so my first ancestor was William Douglass, per Alexander, which arrived at Botany Bay on 19 January, 1788.

I have Australian Royalty (tell us who, how many and which Fleet they arrived with): I have 3 ancestors who arrived on the First Fleeters & one on the Third Fleet.  William Douglass, Alexander; John Nichols, Scarborough, First Fleet; Mary Groves, Prince of Wales, First Fleet; & William Bailey, Matilda, Third Fleet. 

These are my 18 direct line convicts (only the first three are from my mother's side):

John Nichols                                     Scarborough  (First Fleet)          1788
Ann Pugh                                           Earl Cornwallis                            1801

Alexander Philp                                 Globe                                           1819

William Bailey                                    Matilda (Third Fleet)                   1791
Ann Archer                                          Indispensible                              1796

Mary Holland                                       Indispensable                             1796
Thomas Cooper                                 Barwell                                         1798

Samuel Perkins                                  Pitt                                                1792 ?
Eleanor Williams                                Britannia III                                   1798

John Anthony Fernance                    General Hewitt                             1814

Matthew Thompson                           General Hewitt                             1814

William Douglass                               Alexander (First Fleet)                1788
Mary Groves                                       Prince of Wales (First Fleet)      1788

Daniel Jurd                                         Perseus                                        1802

William Guyatt                                    Earl St Vincent                             1820
Mary Mullally                                       Elizabeth II                                    1828

Michael Sweeney                              Rodney                                          1853
Mary McQueen / McQuain                Martin Luther                                1852

Where I have listed a convict immediately after another convict, e.g. John Nichols & Ann Pugh, indicates a couple who married.  As you can see almost all of my convicts married other convicts!  Of the four who didn’t, two were already married before they were convicted & transported.  Only two married non-convicts, both of who were currency lasses & the daughters of convicts.

I’m an Aussie mongrel, my ancestors came to Oz from: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany & Prussia.

Did any of your ancestors arrive under their own financial steam? Yes.  All of my German & Prussian ancestors paid for their own passage, arriving in SA from mid 1840s – mid 1850s.  There are some ancestors who arrived in SA & WA that I’m not sure whether were assisted or not.  George Hall arrived in NSW with his family as a free settler on Coromandel in 1802.  William Edwards arrived with his family in WA on Rockingham in 1830 as a settler. I have a few other ancestors that I know of, but I’m still tracing several.   

How many ancestors came as singles?  Very few, now I’ve spent the day analysing them for this blog post.  Three sets of 3rd great grandparents.  I have two widows, Susannah Belshire & Elizabeth Ketch, (both 4th great grandmothers) who arrived with their child/ren, & one widower, Edward Blanch (a 4th great grandfather).  I also have an ancestor who appears to have been pregnant when she arrived in South Australia (whether she was pregnant when she boarded the ship isn’t clear), one of the sets of 3rd great grandparents already mentioned.

How many came as couples?  None

How many came as family groups?  18 of my ancestors arrived as a married couple with children.  There 2 family groups that I haven’t been able to trace – the Vonthien / Vonthein / von Tien / von Tein family, & the Lindner family.

Did one person lead the way and others follow?  Only a few seem to have, but I haven’t traced all of my ancestor’s siblings.  Daniel Curran (3rd great grandfather) arrived on his own, but other siblings appear to have followed him, though some of them seem to have later travelled to the US.  Bridget McCann (3rd great grandmother) arrived with her sister.  My 3rd great grandfather, James Blanch’s whole (& very large sibling-wise) family seem to have immigrated to NSW.  The older siblings came with their own wives & children on the same ship & were followed by the younger, unmarried siblings with their elderly father a few months later.

What’s the longest journey they took to get here?  I honestly haven’t researched enough to know how long each journey took.  It was probably the early Prussian immigrants.  They were Lutherans who were trying to escape their homeland for religious reasons, & I know that some of them were stranded in a German port for months.  They had travelled from their Prussian village to Hamburg to make their voyage, & their permission to emigrate was revoked & then regranted, meaning that they had to reorganise their transport to Australia.

Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place?  As far as I know, only the Prussians.  Most arrived via a German port.

Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive?  Most of my ancestors arrived in NSW.  I have three groups who arrived free in WA during the 1830’s & 1840’s, two convicts who were sent to Tasmania.  All of my German & Prussian immigrants seem to have arrived in South Australia.

Did they settle and remain in one state/colony?  Most of my ancestors did arrive & remain in the same state.  One ancestor from WA moved to Tasmania.  Several of my German / Prussian ancestors migrated from SA to NSW through Victoria.

Did they stay in one town or move around?  Some of my ancestors moved up & down regional New South Wales before settling, mostly farmers.  My SA ancestors moved all around that state.  Some others stayed around Sydney.

Do you have any First Australians in your tree?  Does this mean Aboriginals?  No.

Were any self-employed?  Several ancestors were farmers / landholders.  Daniel Curran, being a publican, was self-employed.  His son was a self-employed coachbuilder.  His grandson, my grandfather, was a bit of an entrepreneur, owning a few businesses during his life.

What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in?  Most were farmers, a few carpenters, miners, a nursemaid, and a needleworker.  I have a two enlisted soldiers from the earlier days of the colonies – Joseph Fleming, a sergeant with the NSW Corps, arrived in NSW on William and Ann in 1791; James Telford, a private in the enrolled pensioner guard, arrived in WA on Ramilies in 1854. Two police constables – completely different sides of the tree & sides of Australia.  A postmaster, mail carrier, & sanitary inspector.  I also have a publican & a coachbuilder. One direct line teacher (her son was also a teacher).

Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation?  My father is an electrician by trade & his father was an electrical fitter.  My maternal grandfather was an orchardist & his ancestors were all farmers.  My 2nd great grandmother, Catherine Whitelock Curran was a teacher, as was one of her sons & I am a teacher, but almost 50 years went by before I became a teacher, & I didn’t even know she existed until a year ago.  What is coincidental though, is that another of Catherine’s sons was a teacher while another was a journalist – my son is studying Journalism at University.

Did any of your ancestors leave Australia and go “home”?  Not one of them!

What’s your State of Origin?  NSW

Do you still live there?  Yes

Where was your favourite Aussie holiday place as a child?  Probably Terrigal, visiting my grandfather.

Any special place you like to holiday now?  I haven’t travelled enough yet to have a special holiday place.

Share your favourite spot in Oz: Ditto above.

Any great Aussie adventure you’ve had?  None yet, hopefully there are lots to come.

What’s on your Australian holiday bucket list?  Um, everywhere!

How do you celebrate Australia Day?  I don’t do anything special on Australia Day.  I remember as a child we’d spend the day in Darling Harbour.

Doing this challenge has made me realise how many of my relatives made sacrifices to come to our country for a new life with better opportunities.  Even the convicts, once they had earned their freedom, had a new life with better opportunities.  I especially admire my ancestor who arrived on her own, pregnant, in SA.  How difficult life must have been to take on the challenge of coming to Australia, but she too was rewarded with a new life, a husband & family, & opportunities galore.


  1. Wow, so many convicts! You are definitely descended from Australian 'Royalty'.

    1. Yes, there are quite a few convicts - all but 3 are on my dad's side, too. Learning last year that I had three First Fleeters really made me appreciate Australia Day.

  2. This was quite a challenge and you've made a brilliant effort.

    I have enjoyed reading about your background.

  3. Eighteen convicts!! I'm of my families came on the General Hewitt (if same ship) 40 years later, but they were assisted.

    You've certainly got committed ancestors to be very proud of. I agree that young woman must have been strong. I'd love to hear the story of the Germans who had their emigration revoked, and how you found out about it. Another post on that?

    Thanks for all the work you put into this challenge -it turned out to be more work and trickier than I envisaged.

    Cheers, Pauleen

  4. Thanks for the comment Pauleen. I would love to know more about the Lutheran Prussians/ Germans: their life back home, their life in SA, & more about them in general. Information about the Prussian emigration would be interesting wouldn't it - thanks for the idea.