Ann Eloisa French (1787-1835)

On this day, October 13 in 1835, Ann Eloisa (or later Eliza) French, who is believed to be my 3rd great-grandmother died in Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Eliza Thomasina’s Baptism, St. Catherine’s Parish Church, Spanish Town

I say ‘believed’ because although it can not (yet) be proven conclusively all indications, including the advice from a professional Jamaican genealogist, are that this is the right person who was the mother of my 2nd great-grandmother Eliza Thomasina Walsh. This Eliza was born in Spanish Town on March 3, 1808 and her mother was A.E. French.

Ethnically, Ann Eloisa was a quadroon, being of mixed race, the grand daughter of an African who was undoubtedly a slave. Her parents were Jane Charlotte Beckford, a free mulatto and George French, one time Crown Solicitor/Clerk of the Jamaica Assembly and later the High Court, Assistant Judge, Solicitor for the Crown and Clerk of the Peace in Spanish Town. Jane was George’s mistress and they had six children together.

White Church and Ellis Streets, Spanish Town

Eliza Thomasina’s father was Thomas Walsh, an Irish officer in the 56th Regiment of the British army serving in Jamaica and who acknowledged Eliza as his daughter in his 1809 will. In that will Thomas had requested that Eliza Thomasina should be returned to Ireland when four years of age. Thomas had returned to England by 1809 and he died in an accident the following year but his wishes regarding Eliza were carried out and she eventually married Henry Harrison Briscoe in Ireland in 1830. It is not known what part, if any, Ann Eloisa had in this decision or in Eliza Thomasina’s life before her return to Ireland.

The old Lodging House is now the Freemason’s Hamilton Lodge Meeting House

Jane Charlotte ran a lodging house on the corner of White Church and Ellis Streets in Spanish Town. This was later known as Miss French’s Lodgings presumably after Ann took over running of the establishment when Jane Charlotte died in 1825. The building that stands on that corner today I likely to be the same

Excerpt from Lady Nugent’s Diary, wife of Gen. George Nugent, Governor of Jamaica

Ann Eliza French (as she was then known) was the administratrix of her mother’s will and presumably also the beneficiary.

Currently no more is known about Ann’s life except that she died in 1835 and was buried in St. Catherine’s churchyard in Spanish Town.

Elizabeth (Warren) Briscoe (1859-1917)

On this day, October 7 in 1917, Elizabeth Briscoe died at her home in Leonard Street, Bankstown, New South Wales.

She was born Elizabeth Warren on January 5, 1859 at Huntly, Victoria, to parents Richard Robins and Annie (Livingstone) Warren. Richard was a native of Bristol in England while Annie was born in Argyllshire, Scotland. Both the Warren and Livingstone families arrived in Australia during the Victorian gold rush days and were miners in the Sandhurst (Bendigo) area.

Elizabeth Briscoe (c1894)

At the age of 24, Elizabeth was working as a domestic servant at nearby Lake Leaghur where she presumably met the 45 years old Henry Harrison Briscoe. The couple were married in the registry office in Hoddle Street, Collingwood in February 1883 while both were living at Smith Street, Fitzroy. In August of that year Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, Elizabeth Caroline Thomasina Marion Briscoe at Elgin Street, Hawthorne. The family lived there for a couple of years during which time another daughter, Emily Alice Isabella Livingstone Briscoe was born. However by the time a third child arrived the family had moved to Cobar in New South Wales where Henry had taken up the position of caretaker of the Government’s 64 Mile Tank on South Road..

Over the next 16 years Henry took Elizabeth and the growing family to other Government water tanks at Mulya near Bourke, The Rock near Wagga Wagga and Tooloora Bore near Walgett. During this period Elizabeth had five more children, so that the Briscoe family was:

  • Elizabeth Caroline Thomasina Marion

  • Emily Alice Isabella Livingstone

  • Alfred Edward Henry Harrison

  • George Albert Ernest Sidney

  • Arthur William Boultbee Torrance

  • John Robins Warren Low

  • Livingstone Eugene James Alexander

  • Doris Daisy Mary Devereux

Of her children, only Alfred did not reach adulthood, dying as an infant at The Rock (see a previous post).

In 1901 at the age of 42, Elizabeth was also named (on the birth certificate) as the mother of Ethel Josephine Dorothy Agnes at Tooloora Bore, however it is understood the the baby’s mother was Elizabeth Caroline (mentioned as “present at the birth”). The baby was brought up as a little sister to Elizabeth’s other children and the truth remained a secret from many family members for many years. In 1905, Ethel (known as Sister) also had an illegitimate daughter and a similar secrecy arrangements prevailed.

Emily’s baby was born in Sydney and may have been part of the reason the family had moved to Sydney. Henry had retired and in late 1905 the family lived at Waverley and then Belmore, but by 1908 they had settled on a 13 acre property, Beaconsfield, at Tower Street East Hills, near the Georges River and Bankstown some 25 kilometres south-west of central Sydney.

Henry died at Tower Street in 1912 at the age of 74 years and shortly after Elizabeth sold the property and moved to Leonard Street, Bankstown and named the house Mulya. Elizabeth Caroline and George had already been married but the family remained very closely knit.

World War I saw several of the boys serving, and Elizabeth received the news that her eldest son, Alfred had died in Cairo in December 1915 after being evacuated from Gallipoli.

St. Saviour’s Church Cemetery, Canterbury Road Punchbowl

Elizabeth lived in Leonard Street until her death in 1917 at the age of 58 years. She had undoubtedly had a hard life moving often throughout country NSW while raising her large family. Her legacy was the close bond her children retained through the next generation. She was buried near to Henry, and a memorial stone to Alfred, in the small cemetery at St. Saviour’s Church of England in Canterbury Road, Punchbowl.

Arthur William Boultbee Torrance Briscoe (1892-1893)

On this day, October 2 in 1893, this young boy died at The Rock, New South Wales at the age of one year and 22 days.

If there is any significance in Arthur’s short life it is in the context of his family’s and Australia’s story. The hardships suffered by the pioneers in country and outback Australia during those years can be illustrated, in part, by such tragedies as this early death.

Arthur’s parents were Henry Harrison and Elizabeth (Warren) Briscoe and he was the fifth of their eight children. Henry was an Irish ex-British army officer who had arrived in Victoria some 27 years earlier. He had spent 17 of those years working on properties around the Darling River before marrying Elizabeth in 1883. Elizabeth who was 21 years younger than Henry was born in Huntly, Victoria of English and Scottish parents.

After their marriage, Henry settled down from his roving ways and became a caretaker of various Government water tanks around NSW including Cobar and Walgett. It seems certain that he owed his position to J. W. Boultbee, who had become Superintendent of Public Watering Places and Artesian Boring, and known from his early days in the colony. Henry named Arthur for Boultbee and also for another friend, Torrance.

Arthur’s Roadside Grave

Arthur was buried at The Rock in what was proposed to be the town cemetery. However that site was changed so that his grave, which has survived the years, lies adjacent to the Old Wagga (Collingullie) Road on the north bank of Burke’s Creek on the outskirts of the town.

A heritage study of the Wagga Wagga area referred to Arthur’s grave stating that:

This child’s grave is a poignant reminder of the hardship of life in the country during the 19th century.

It seems more than a coincidence, and probably a direct result of Arthur’s death, that his four siblings were christened (all together) later that year at St. John’s church at nearby Wagga Wagga.

However, to think that our pioneering ancestors had no social life is mistaken and can be shown by this newspaper article from the period the Wagga Wagga Advertised on Tuesday, March 20 1894.

Two aspects of family and Australian history.

Victoria BC

James Cook

The early ferry from Seattle landed us in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia at lunchtime. That gave us only a day and a half to get to know this delightful city, and this was nowhere near enough time to do it justice.

It enabled us time to walk around the eight block by eight blocks of the downtown area and take in the friendly relaxed atmosphere. We admired the architecture of its main buildings around the harbour front and smiled to see the statue of James Cook who claimed the island for England in 1778.

There were two main highlights of Victoria for me, a family reunion and the Butchart Gardens.

A Morrison Reunion

This was a reunion, if that is the right word, at least 400 years in the making. Using one of the latest tools to family historians, DNA testing, I had some time ago been able to make contact with a very, very distant cousin. Like me, my Morrison cousin also had his roots in the Isle of Man however the available written records going back to the 1700s were not enough to provide a family connection, but Y-DNA testing was. It showed that we are related but it seems our common ancestor must have lived in the 1600s or even the 1500s.

Isle of Man Flag

As part of our trip we arranged a lunch get together with Gary, his wife Vicki, Jenny and I and we got to know each other a little and will definitely stay in contact.

The Butchart Gardens

A short bus ride from Victoria is the Butchart Gardens, the most popular tourist attraction on the island.

Here I was intrigued to discover a civil engineering connection and, considering my own career in that area, it made our visit even more meaningful to me. We learned that Richard Butchart was a Canadian pioneer in the manufacture of Portland cement, the main component in the manufacture of concrete. He purchased hundreds of acres of land on the Saanich Peninsula because of its limestone deposits; limestone, in turn, being the principle ingredient in Portland cement. Once the limestone had been exhausted the site was left with ugly scars on the landscape and deep quarries. It was then that Richard Butchart’s wife Jennie started what was to became her prized gardens.

The Sunken Gardens

Over many years, and originally for her own benefit, she was able to transform the site (of 55 acres) into an amazing array of mass planting of flowers, the original Japanese garden, a large rose garden and the impressive sunken garden in the former quarry, complete with its display water spouts. As the gardens were progressively developed, more and more visitors were eager to look at them and eventually through popular demand a commercial enterprise came into being.

The gardens definitely lived up to all our expectation and even exceeded them. It was a most relaxing couple of hours. Our day was topped off with a boat ride into the adjoining waterways of Tod Inlet on the sunniest day we have had so far on tour.

 

 

 

 

Ellen Louisa Cole (1874-1943)

On this day September 28 in 1943, my great-grandmother Ellen Louisa was buried at Woronora Cemetery, New South Wales. Although born a Cole she had been married twice, firstly to my great-grandfather, Alfred Charles Bray, and sometime after his death to Walter Clark, but that is part of her story.

Ellen Louisa was born on January 22, 1874 on the large rural property, Gidleigh, near Bungendore NSW. Both of Ellen’s parents, Frederick William Cole and Ellen (nee) McFarlane were also born in NSW and were married at St. Phillip’s church in Bungendore. Ellen Louisa was the tenth of their nineteen children, although not all of them lived to adulthood.

Frederick was a sawyer and labourer who worked on several properties in the area near Bungendore including Foxlox and Carwoola as well as Gidleigh. We can only imagine that both his wife and children would have been engaged in work in those properties. As quite large rural stations these supported sizeable communities and facilities such as a school which Ellen Louisa would have no doubt attended.

Ellen Louisa Bray

By the age of twenty years Ellen Louisa was to be found at Balmain in Sydney when she married Alfred Charles Bray at St. Thomas’s church in Balmain South on February 15, 1894 with the permission of her father. At the time Alfred was a sorter at the General Post Office but later became a mail train guard and as a result the young couple moved several times while raising their family. Hurstville had become the Bray family home where they had settled with their eight children when tragedy struck.

Alfred Charles Bray – Funeral Notice

On the foggy night of March 16, 1914, the mail train on which Alfred was working collided with another train at Exeter in the Southern Highlands killing 14 people including Alfred. At the time it was the worst rail disaster experienced in the country. Ellen Louisa was left with several children still at home but was eventually granted some compensation for herself and the younger children. She continued to live at Hurstville and was remembered as a strong woman that is no doubt a result of her early years in the bush.

In 1923, at the age of 49 years, she married widower and tramway employee, Walter Clark at Redfern. It is believed that she outlived Walter because she was again living at Hurstville when as Ellen Louisa Clark died at the age of 69 years. She was buried next to Alfred Charles Bray at Woronora.