Saturday, February 26, 2011

Samuel Dawson Once More

I have written a couple of posts about Samuel Dawson in the past few weeks. After publishing a letter written by him in 1878 I decided to see what else I could find out about him.

I have followed up with an email to the Maritime Museum in Liverpool seeking information about Samuel. Last week I received these images from John Winrow, the assistant curator.



I now have more information to include in Samuel's story.

He attended the Swords Endowed School which I will have to research further. Under terms of admission it states the fees were £42. It looks as though his father Richard Dawson had to pay for Samuel to become a Conway cadet. Both his naval and school reports while on the Conway were outstanding. In one of my earlier posts I surmised that he won a telescope for either the Chairman of the Conway Committee Prize or the Royal Geographical Prize. I now know his prize was in Geography.

Samuel's report comments read:
1877 Gained? class prizes in Geography and History. Honorably mentioned for Mathematics, Scripture, History and for General Proficiency.
1878 Gained the Queen's Medal and the Horsfall Prize for proficiency in Geography. Appointed midshipman in the Royal Naval Reserve.

What became of the Queen's Medal? Samuel didn't marry. My search begins!

Scottish Ancestors Anyone?

If you have any Scottish ancestors you might be interested in listening to The Scots: A Genetic Journey. In this series Alistair Moffat explores the history of Scotland. In the first episode he talks about the spread of population from Iberia to Scotland and the discovery of possibly the oldest house in Scotland build  around 7600 BCE.  At the end of the episode Alistair has a DNA sample taken to discover his genetic history.

This first episode is available to listen to for another couple of days. Episode 2 is also online.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Western Australia Reverse Marriage Index

 I have just enrolled in the National Institute for Genealogical Studies Australian Records Certificate course.

The first subject I've enrolled in is Australia: Births, Deaths and Marriages. As I have direct ancestors from each Australian state except South Australia, I have searched many different indexes. Last night I was reading the module about Western Australia and although I had heard of the Western Australian Reverse Marriage Index before I had never used it.  I now can't believe I haven't used this index before.

I've now filled in a few more names in my family. I did have some of the names after using electoral rolls but didn't know the women's maiden names. So last night was a successful evening.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our Daily Bread

Last night I ordered a copy of Our Daily Bread: German Village Life, 1500 - 1850 by Teva J Scheer. I'm hoping this book will fill a definite gap in my knowledge of German social history. I know a lot about Irish history but my knowledge of German history is minimal.

The book is set not too far from where my husband's ancestors lived so I'm hoping the picture painted by Scheer will be very similar to that of the Scheefs and Glocks.

You can read the first chapter here online.

Will post again after the book arrives.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Letters from Germany

Amanuensis Monday was started by John Newmark in his blog Translyvanian Dutch and encourages family historians to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes and other historical artifacts. An amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

My husband's family are very fortunate. They have a series of letters written from Germany to Jacob Frederick Scheef who lived at Rocky River, near Armidale and later at Tilbuster and Puddledock. These letters date from 1859 until 1894. It's a shame we can't read German! There is also a diary Jacob kept and the letters he wrote home when he returned for a holiday to Germany in 1885. At least these are in English! Currently these documents are housed at the University of New England and Regional Archives, in Armidale, New South Wales.


Letter sent from Stuttgart to the Rocky River diggings.



It went around the world!



Appears to have been written from Steinheim



Add caption
The following places are mentioned: Steinheim, Unterturkheim, Moreton Bay, Armidale, Rocky River Diggings and Wurttemberg.
The letter mentions Glock. Jacob had married Christina Glock the previous year.
The date 11th September 1858 is quite clear.
Towards the end of the letter two words are written in the centre with writing underneath. This is repeated 3 times.
It looks like Mou Christian, Mou Gottlieb and Mou Roble. It could possibly be information about these three. Under Christian there is something about a Barbara Smidt.

Does anyone know where I could get these letters translated? I have 113 pages.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Have you considered smell?

Last year I was fortunate to be able to visit both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. While there my mother and I went to Cootehill, Co Cavan and were fortunate to be shown through the Church of Ireland at Ematris and the temple on Black Island at Dawson Grove.


Looking back towards Inner Lough

As I took this photo, looking back towards Inner Lough I could smell something. Our guide said that it was wild garlic.

I was certain I had read something about wild garlic in this area. When I returned home I found this reference in Ordnance Survey : 1834 - 38: Cavan, Leitrum, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo.

Inner Lake, an arm of the above chain, occupying nearly the centre of Dawson Grove gardens, and rye-grass and clovers have been introduced into several farms around with great advantage.  The rough stalked meadow grass, trefoil and timothy grass, and the sweet scented venal grass, are in full cultivation. The "graumph"a spontaneous garlic, strongly taints the air in some localities with its offensive perfume. p. 113

Some things never change!

Book Review - Murder Trials in Ireland 1836 - 1914

I was alerted a couple of months ago by Trevor McClaughlin from Macquarie University in Sydney and author of From Shamrock to Wattle about an book Murder Trials in Ireland 1836 - 1914 that had been published in 2009 by an Irish colleague, W.E. Vaughan. Trevor thought I would be very interested in the book as my ancestor James Agnew and his brother Henry had been convicted in Londonderry in July 1836 for having employed Patrick Toghill to take away the life of Henry McWilliam.
I immediately ordered the fairly expensive book from The Book Depository and eagerly awaited its arrival. I have not been disappointed. Although I haven’t read all the book yet, it is littered with post it notes and markings throughout the book (I never used to write in books!). It has really helped me to gain a better image of Ireland at the time and how the legal system worked.
Vaughan’s chapters include: an introduction discussing the scope of the study, apprehending a suspect, committal, indictment and arraignment, empanelling the jury, the Crown’s case, the prisoner’s defence, summing up, the verdict, judgment, prerogative of mercy and death by hanging.
And what does Vaughan say about the Agnew brothers?
There were cases that were not obscure, but where the commutation of sentence was surprising. James and Henry Agnew should have been hanged, if principle, precedent, and expediency had been any guides: they planned the murder of Henry McWilliams, they brought in assassins to beat him to death, but they were not hanged.
If you have an interest in the legal system of Ireland at the time, the book is definitely worth reading. If you have an ancestor who escaped death by hanging then definitely get a copy of the book.
Future posts will perhaps offer a reason why the murder of Henry McWilliams took place.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Social Media for the Wise Genealogist

Many thanks to Geniaus for alerting us to this free course run by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. I have now enrolled in Social Media for the Wise Genealogist beginning March 15, 2011.


The course covers social media tools vital to today’s genealogical research including social networking sites, RSS, bookmarking, and more. This course utilizes Drew Smith’s book Social Networking for Genealogists.

The internet is changing rapidly, social media is the mode of communication commonly used to connect genealogy researchers around the world.

By completing this course the student should become “Social Media Genealogy Wise”! 


More about Samuel Dawson

Last week I posted a letter written by Samuel Dawson to his aunt Emma Dawson in Melbourne. The letter gives names of many family members but also mentions other significant information. As a family historian I need to examine the letter for information that can fill in more of the story of Samuel and his family.

From his letter the key points included:
  1. Samuel was a Conway cadet
  2. Going into Merchant Service with the ship British Envoy
  3. His sister was studying at Queen's University
  4. The potato crop failed in Ireland in 1878
  5. Brother George often leads the deer hunt
  6. Samuel goes to the races
  7. He mentions a rifle match at Wimbledon
  8. Two sisters were staying at a fashionable watering place in Ireland
  9. Exhibition in Paris
  10. HMS Euridyce had recently sunk
I didn't know anything about the Conway so last week, I spent some time finding out what I could about HMS Conway and Samuel Dawson.

The HMS Conway 1859 - 1974 website was a gold mine of information. 

In 1864 Queen Victoria instigated the Queen's Gold Medal and annual prizes of £50 for the cadets. Samuel Dawson was therefore the 14th winner of this prestigious award.

I was fortunate to find a photo of the Queen's Prize List.

Queen's Prize List - 1878 - S. C. Dawson
My thanks to Alfie Windsor, author of HMS Conway 1859 - 1974 for allowing me to use the image in this blog.

Samuel's letter mentions that he also won a telescope. He would have won either the Chairman of the Conway Committee Prize or the Royal Geographical Society Prize.

I don't think life on the Conway would have been as easy as life back on the farm.

The 'Teaser' probably derived its name from the rope ‘Starters’ used historically in the RN; short lengths of rope used to strike, encourage or "start" any crewman who did not respond promptly to an order. The Teaser was a vicious little weapon made from 3/8" tarred hemp maybe 18" overall with an eye-splice at one end, and a 6" back splice at the business end. The back splice thickened and strengthened the rope. The back splice was also "whipped" using a very thin twin to give it further strength and make it less flexible. It was stored in a bottle of salt water which gave it the consistency of a metal bar. Sometimes there was metalwork in the whipping. This rope was then used to beat cadets as a punishment. In the early years it was wielded liberally by anybody with the slightest pretence to petty authority. Over time it was used far less and in more controlled circumstances. It was an extremely painful punishment which very few Conway cadets avoided.


Cadet records are housed at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock in Liverpool. Guess who walked past its closed doors one evening last April? Little did I know what I was missing out on. The Conway Chapel is now at Birkenhead across the Mersey from where I was staying. Perhaps I'll have to go back!

This is the only photo I have of Samuel.

Samuel Dawson and friends, Dublin. I'm not sure which one is Samuel.
If I look at my key points above, I've really only scratched the surface of number 1. 

National Institute for Genealogical Studies

Last week I took the plunge and enrolled in the Australian Records Certificate through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies  who work in affiliation with the Continuing Education Division of the University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto.

I have paid for the basic level section of the course - a total of 9 subjects, with another 9 to follow in the intermediate and then 11 in advanced sections. I can then choose several electives. Of course, it is the electives that interest me most, but I thought I should start at the beginning.

I have only enrolled in one subject this month - Australia: Births, Deaths and Marriages but think I'll try 2 next month. My Australian research so far has not lead me to South Australia, so already I've learnt a little about the history of South Australia.

I hope it does't mean I won't get my own research done!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Samuel Dawson 1878

Amanuensis Monday was started by John Newmark in his blog Translyvanian Dutch and encourages family historians to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes and other historical artifacts. An amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.
Each Monday I hope to transcribe one of the many letters or diary entries in my possession. 

Today's letter was written by Samuel Dawson of Cloghran, Co Dublin, Ireland in 1878 to his aunt Emma Dawson in Melbourne, Australia. Emma's late husband, William was the brother of Samuel's father Richard. 













Kilronan House
Cloghran
Co Dublin
Ireland
Friday 19th July 1878
Dear Aunt
Having your last letter I determined to take advantage of the wish you expressed that some of us would write to you it is indeed with great pleasure I write this my first letter to you with the hope that I will either hear from or see you before this time twelvemonth.
I am at present at home for my holidays. I am a Conway cadet and went aboard that ship on the 10th of November 1876 & will complete my time on next November. While there I have been very successful. The Queen annually gives a gold medal to the ship for it five or three of the boys is chosen by the Captain, who are supposed to be the best boys in the ship that is in the performance of their duties, etc, etc, then the other boys vote for him whom they think most deserving of it, & the boy that gets the greatest number of votes is declared the Queen's medallist & also gets an appointment in the Naval Reserves, when all the Boys had voted it was found I was the successful one having a majority of 98 out of 163 boys.
I will join my ship again on the 8th August next, and will then be senior Petty Officer, which is the highest post any of us can obtain while on the Conway. I also got a prize of a telescope.
I am going into the merchant Service and have got a ship belonging to the British Ship Owners Company, her name is the British Envoy. I don't exactly know where she is bound to, but I think it is either Melbourne or Calcutta (I hope it is Melbourne). She will sail about the 1st of December. If it is to Melbourne she is going I will drop you a line before she sails.
I think Father told you all about our family which is very large, the eldest Elizabeth married to a Mr Sneyd, & has a son of about 3 or four years old, my eldest brother is at business with my father, Sarah who is about a year older than myself is studying in the Queen's University, Dublin, where she has been rather successful, having obtained a scholarship last Xmas, I am a little over 17. I daresay you have often heard Uncle Will describe Kilronan. If he could see it now he would hardly recognise it, my Father has made so many & great improvements, we have been very fortunate in the choice of menservants as we have some 13 or 14 yrs in the place.
Father owns a couple of vessels which give him a good yearly income & of course a much better position than formerly among the merchants of Dublin.
A short time ago he got a third farm & is at present looking out for a large farm & house for my eldest brother, who is now about twenty five.
My second youngest brother lives with Uncle George, he fell out of a tree lately and knocked out his ankle, he is only a little past twelve he rides splendidly & very often leads the deer hunt near here it is considered one of the best in Europe, possessing about the finest pack of hounds.
The Potatoe crop is a great failure with almost every one in Ireland this year, but the general run of the other crops is good.
An old uncle of ours who lived in Wicklow died last March. My mother's brother (Sam) got married a second time last November, to a Mrs Waters. George the other brother is still a bachelor. My two eldest sisters at present are staying at a fashionable watering place in Ireland.
I was at a Horse Races on Wednesday & Thursday last. The heat is something awful. In the House of Lords yard yesterday, the heat was 133º in the shade. There is a great Rifle Match or Matches I should say in progress at Wimbledon in England at present, where the Irish Rifle men are very successful.
There is a great exhibition at Paris, to which persons from all parts of the world are flocking. At it England has excelled all nations in her goods, etc.
H.M.S. Eurydice capsized in a squall & all her crew of 320 hands with the exception of two were drowned in sight of land.
I must now close with most affectionate love to you my cousins, all hear (sic) send their love.
From your affec nephew
Samuel C C Dawson

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Waitangi Day Blog Challenge - Charles Thomas Seabrook

The Waitangi Day Blog Challenge from the Auckland Research Centre challenges us to write a post about your early New Zealand ancestors.

What stories can you tell about their lives?

I have a few members of my family who have moved from Hobart to New Zealand and will write about one of them today.

Charles Thomas Seabrook (1844 - 1912) caused problems for many years as he simply disappeared from his home town of Hobart Town. Eventually I discovered that he hadn't moved very far at all and had in fact left Tasmania in 1865 for the town of Hokitika on the west coast of the south island of New Zealnd

The West Coast Times of 26th September 1865 reported that a Mr Seabrook was one of ten cabin passengers on board the William Miskin.

Like his father Henry William Seabrook and 3 of his 5 brothers, Charles was a builder and soon entered the building trade on the west coast. He was in partnership for some time with his brother Henry William Seabrook, who later returned to Australia.

The 1898 publication Industries of New Zealand gives the following details:
  • Arnott and Seabrook, builders, contractor, monumental masons, Greymouth.
  • Prominent buildings include: Greymouth Hospital, the State School, the Roman Catholic Church, Dawson's Hotel at Reefton, the Post and Telegraph Offices at Westport, Lyell and Kumara.
  • Seabrook managed the ironmongery department and looks after the financial portion of the business.
  • The firm is one of the oldest one in the contracting and building line on the Coast, and do an excellent trade.
Industries of New Zealand, illustrated: an historical and commercial review, descriptive and biographical, facts, figures and illustrations. An epitome of progress: business men and commercial interests. Arthur Cleave Publishing Co: Auckland. 1898.

Charles married Sarah Elizabeth Johnston in 1868. They had two children, Florence Adeline in 1872 and Frederick Charles in 1878. Descendants of Frederick still live in New Zealand today.

Headstone of Charles Thomas Seabrook, Karoro Cemetery, Greymouth, New Zealand

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Grave Look at History

Last week when I arrived back from holidays my copy of A Grave Look at History - Glimpses of a Vanishing Form of Folk Art by Lionel Gilbert had arrived from AbeBooks.

I am a frequent visitor to AbeBooks both for work and my genealogy research. For those who are not familiar with AbeBooks it is a fantastic source for used, rare and out of print books. Wikipedia states that AbeBooks lists books from 12800 booksellers in 57 countries. I often purchase books for my school library for students who are completing individual research projects, particularly in history.

My latest purchase is a book I remember looking at years ago - A Grave Look at History - Lionel Gilbert (1980) (NLA catalogue).

Of particular interest are the chapters titled, Styles Symbols and Skills,  Letters and Figures, Epitaphs and Rails and Pickets.

What clues can you interpret from your family headstones? The Victorians loved symbolism and many headstones in our cemeteries have many symbols in their designs. Is their profession represented symbolically? What does a torch mean? Why is the column cut in half? Did you know that a poppy represents sleep?

There are several sketches which illustrate Norman, Gothic, Victorian, Edwardian and Celtic monuments and the book also has a large number of photographs each with an accompanying description which can assist you in "reading" headstones.

A very handy book to help you analyse your family headstones.