Stony barriers

This blog is the final of four blogs written for National Family History Month 2016 and describes volcanic stony barriers that are a little more than they seem.
A land of sweeping plains? Thousands of years ago my favourite place may have been part of a verdant plain. Thousands of years ago before the volcanoes were active. Then my favourite place may have looked like the freshly mown lawns and the avenues of elms that are just a short walk across the tram lines from my home.
My place may look world worn, of plants that appear to struggle to survive in the stony rises in summer and the tussocky swamps in winter.
Once my place was part of the wide open plains fed by small streams and rivers that meandered and flowed through the gentle slope of the Western Plains and on to the sea. Then the volcanoes became active. It was lava, not water, that flowed from Mt Rouse, Mt Napier and Mt Eccles to the sea.
The volcanic activity left behind a functional ecosystem if not a pretty one. Barriers of rough stone that act as shelter for new born lambs from the bitterly cold sou’westerlies rolling in directly from the Antarctic. Springs in the bottom of the Horse Paddock flow into Kangaroo Creek and thence the Shaw River providing fresh water for stock. The lava flows blocked or dammed the streams and rivers leaving behind expanses of fresh water. The Fitzroy River wetlands became home to an ibis rookery and our own four leaf clover, the elusive nardoo. The Swamp or Lake Gorrie or just the Eumeralla Swamp was created by just one barrier damming the Eumeralla River. The Cockatoo, a swamp on the Shaw River, is often underwater in the winter but excellent summer grazing. Well until a squatter practiced using dyamite, opened up the blocked river and drained a great deal of The Cockatoo swamp.
It’s not the swamps alone along the rivers and streams that make my place special. The plains that escaped the lava flows are also special. A friend once asked my father if he used a level to determine which way he ploughed a furrow. No said my father. It just depends which way the wind is blowing. Better still were my great uncle Stan’s instructions to the new ploughman. See that hill over there he said pointing to the nearest stony barrier. Just plough the drain straight into the side of the it.
That’s the secret of the barriers. When the lava cooled the gases were replaced by water. The barriers now contain large reserves of fresh water. My place may not have the lush appearance of city gardens but it has something else -a continuous supply of ground water.

DNA – More than just matches

Next time you log in to your FamilyTreeDNA test check your Family Finder matches. There are now four tabs under the Family Finder – Matches screen.
Just as I haven’t stopped purchasing birth, marriage and death certificates I am sure that I am far from finished purchasing DNA kits. Particularly when I am excited about Family Tree’s DNA new phased Family Matches analysis. But not just now. I need to plan and budget first.
DNA tests for family history purposes only work when my DNA test matches with someone else’s DNA test.
But that’s not where it ends. Who is the ancestor we have in common? Do I have that person in my family tree or do I know where I expect them to fit in my family tree? Suddenly I am finding that my family tree is no longer confined to my direct ancestors. I need to also include evidence of matches for future reference and for further analysis.
Also, why is there a match? On which chromosome? What segments on what chromosomes, what single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and/or short tandem repeats (STRs) do we have in common?
Purchasing DNA kits has become the new purchasing certificates. I’ve spent oodles on certificates over the years and, together with many other family members who have shared their certificates, we have put together our family tree. DNA kits are more expensive so let’s make the best use of our results when we receive them.
Why are DNA matches important? Don’t we already have evidence of these matches already in our written genealogy? Yes. Mostly. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that my parents are my parents, my grandparents are my grandparents, my great grandparents are my great grandparents. And so on. It’s comforting to have another source to support my family tree. Also, DNA matches are important in confirming parts of my family tree that have come to me through family stories but which I haven’t yet been able to confirm using paper sources.
Of course I still have my brick walls that I hope a DNA match may knock down. For example, my three greats grandfather Charles Baulch married Ann Beddlecombe at Muchelney, Somerset in April 1799. Initially I thought that Charles was born to Roger Baulch and Betty Gaylard and baptised on 25 Jan 1767. But a Charles Baulch was buried was buried in Muchelney six weeks later and I only have one possibility – the infant Charles Baulch.
Image-2I am not entirely sure, though, that it was the infant Charles who died. His older brother, Henry, was a witness to Charles Baulch’s marriage to Ann Beddlecombe. Is this just coincidence?
Furthermore, I have a DNA match in AncestryDNA with Hannah Baulch, a cousin of Henry and Charles Baulch. How could this happen if Charles Baulch died as an infant? Or is it not a match by descent but just a match by chance? Further analysis is required.
Image-3Chromosome analysis isn’t currently available on AncestryDNA. The value in having an AncestryDNA test is that, at the moment at least, it’s database is twice the size of Family Tree DNA’s database. And growing. So AncestryDNA may be a good place to find DNA matches that require further analysis outside AncestryDNA.
But first there are two things to be done in AncestryDNA.
I narrow my matches by searching for surnames I have in my Ancestry family tree attached to my AncestryDNA tests. For example, I found my match with Hannah Baulch by searching my matches for the Baulch surname.
Shared matches are also worth looking at in AncestryDNA. For example, matches I share with my paternal first cousin will bring up any AncestryDNA matches I have with relatives on my father’s side of my family. My maternal relatives will be omitted. As may be any potential AncestryDNA matches which don’t have a family tree attached.
Image-4Further analysis requires that my AncestryDNA results need to be downloaded. To do this I went to Help > Get Help > DNA and selected Downloading Raw DNA Data. Of course this downloaded Raw DNA data acts as a backup of the data I have on AncestryDNA.
Once data has been downloaded it can be uploaded to GEDmatch for free. This is a good site to start analysis and I match with many DNA tests in GEDmatch that were conducted somewhere else other than the current AncestryDNA. But I want to leave any consideration of GEDmatch analysis for another time and progress to FamilyTreeDNA.
When we start our family history research we are often advised to start with purchasing our own birth certificate as well as those for our two parents.
Similarly, a good place to start our autosomal DNA searches is with a test of our own autosomal DNA as well as a test for each of our parents. Then we can categorise any further tests as being
• on my paternal side if there is a match with me and my father but not with my mother,
• on my maternal side if there is a match with me and my mother but not with my father or
• one of my siblings if there is a match with me, my father and my mother.
I haven’t done any of this analysis in either Gedmatch or FamilyTreeDNA because of one insurmountable difficulty. My parents are long dead and buried.
But now FamilyTreeDNA is able to extend this analysis to other close relatives. Provided of course that I have close relatives who have tested.
Next time you log in to your FamilyTreeDNA test check your Family Finder matches. There are now four tabs under the Family Finder – Matches screen. One tab for all matches followed by three tabs that correspond to the categories above.
Image-5If you are like me and have no living parents who are you going to substitute so that you can use this phased family match analysis? I have one paternal cousin and one paternal second cousin who have tested. Perhaps I should take advantage of FamilyTreeDNA’s sale ending shortly and invite some of my maternal second cousins to test.
However, there are two limits to purchasing further DNA tests. Just as there are in purchasing BMD certificates. The first is definitely the dollar cost in purchasing DNA tests. But it is the second that I am finding more limiting. I should ensure I have analysed the DNA tests that I already have access to. For I need to make sure that I am ordering the most appropriate tests next.
For further information see:
Family Tree DNA
Kitty Cooper’s tools

Gunner Holmes Part 1


On 15 August 1914 the 1st Division was initially formed as the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
In the August offensive a year later the 1st Division’s role was to hold the front line and conduct a diversion at Lone Pine.
A further year on in August 1916 Gunner Holmes, recovered from injuries incurred at Lone Pine, embarked for France.

In these two years Louis Aaron Holmes (1886-1960) saw less than two month’s active service. I remember my great uncle Lou as quiet and a man to be respected in the way great uncles should be. Comments by repatriation doctors paint a different picture. And when I look at the record of his military service I begin to understand why.

Louis Aaron Holmes enlisted on 1 October 1914 having emigrated to Victoria from Woolwich, Kent just a year beforehand. He was taken on with the 1st Division Ammunition Column Reinforcements and was to become a gunner in the 4th Battery of the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade.

There is a glimpse of his service and the possible effects in his military personnel records. What Uncle Lou did in the war and afterwards is better understood on reading his repatriation records as well as exploring relevant World War I unit diaries.

Uncle Lou sailed from Melbourne on 22 December 1914 and arrived in Egypt two months later. Here the Divisional Ammunition Column Reinforcements underwent further training in Egypt. Some were taken on strength for the Anzac campaign but Uncle Lou did not get to Gallipoli Peninsula until the middle of July 1915. And perhaps I would never have known just precisely where he was if it weren’t for mention of his first misadventure to the repatriation medical staff.

In establishing that his injuries were war related Uncle Lou mentioned to Repatriation that his hernias were due to placing the two three pounder Hotchkiss guns. These guns were taken over by his battery on 29 August 1915 and placed on Russell’s Top. It seemed from Uncle Lou’s recollection that a horse took fright or some part of the gun carriage snapped leaving Uncle Lou taking the full weight of a Hotchkiss gun.

A few days later 15 effective rounds were fired from one of the Hotchkiss guns before its sights were damaged and the gun pit badly damaged. The Lieutenant and seven other ranks were evacuated by the Medical Officer. I believe that Lou Holmes was one of those other ranks. While his most severe injuries were received in placing the guns he also received some shrapnel wounds when when the gun pit was damaged.

That period from the middle of July 1915 to the beginning of September was the total of Uncle Lou’s active war service until he joined his unit a year later on the Western Front.

He was evacuated from Gallipoli Peninsula by the Hospital Ship Nile to Malta where he was recorded as having dysentery, piles and rupture. The more badly injured men were returned to Australia from Malta but Uncle Lou was transferred by the Hospital Ship Hunslet bound for England. Here started his journey to recover from his wounds, to get fit, train and join his unit preparing for the war on the Western Front. His journey included seven months in London hospitals and periods at the Monte Video Camp at Weymouth Dorset, Perham Downs near Salisbury, Wiltshire and finally Bulford Cam, also on the Salisbury Plains, before undergoing further training in France in August 1916.

Selected Bibliography:
National Archives of Australia, NAA B2455 Louis Aaron Holmes Service Number 3434
National Archives of Australia, NAA B73 H34661 and M34661 Repatriation personal hospital medical case files, World War I Louis Aaron Holmes Service Number 3434 4th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade
Australian War Memorial AWM4 Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-1918 War including Subclass 13/10 Headquarters 1st Australian Division Artillery, Subclass 13/30 Headquarters 2nd Australian Field Artillery Brigade and Subclass 13/66 4th Battery Australian Field Artillery diaries.

Image courtesy Australian War Memorial A driver guides his pair of mules and AT (artillery transport) cart up a slope near Anzac Cove.

Wool staplers and wool classers

The 1891 shearers’ strike is just one consequence of the many pressures applied to the wool industry which has been in decline since Hargreave’s invention of the spinning jenny. some of these pressures include:

  • the mechanisation of weaving through the use of power looms,
  • the mechanisation of shearing through the introduction of powered hand pieces and the introduction of wide combs,
  • the decline in the demand for wool to cloth armies against severe winters,
  • the introduction of alternative clothes made of cotton and synthetic fibres and
  • the periodic government regulations applicable to the selling of wool.

The 1891 shearers’ strike is not a unique response by those least able to respond to the contraction of the wool industry. More widely, not only has my immediate paternal family experienced changes in the wool industry but, on reflection, so have some of my more distant ancestors.

Nottingham was one of the worst slum areas in England – particularly at the time of the depression in the early 1800s. Work in the weaving industry was uncertain, the more so when mill owners introduced mechanised weaving and the use of wide frameworks. Nottingham was the centre of riots by weavers directed at the mill owners. It is easy to imagine that 20-year-old George Watts, without work in Nottingham, would have participated. The ring leaders were sentenced and transported to Tasmania. George avoided transportation by enlisting in the 19th Foot Regiment. He spent the next twenty years in Ceylon and returned home to be discharged suffering from exhaustion. Maybe Tasmania would have been a better option.

Simon Uncles Salter, a little younger than George Watts, was a clothier in Wiltshire, as was his father before him.

A clothier is a maker or seller of woollen cloth or clothing. In particular, a clothier treats cloth after weaving.

In a better position than George Watts, Simon Uncles Salter was able to take advantage of the changes occurring in the wool industry. When Francis Hill, owner of a clothing factory in Malmsbury, Wiltshire, died litigation delayed the finalisation of his estate for some years. Eventually, Simon Uncles, in conjunction with his brother Isaac, was able to purchase Hill’s factory in which they installed a steam engine in 1833. In his later years Simon Uncles Salter sometimes described himself, in addition to being a clothier, as a wool stapler.

A wool stapler is a dealer in wool. The wool stapler buys wool from the producer, sorts and grades it, and sells it on to manufacturers. This is done by assessing parts of a fleece, the wool staples. A wool staple is a naturally formed cluster or lock of wool fibres.

Simon Uncles may have still accepted cloth from weavers for further processing. Now with a factory requiring wool (and therefore bypassing the weavers), he may have had control over the fleeces he accepted. For that he needed to be a wool stapler as well as a clothier.

Not long after Simon Uncles Salter commenced working his Malmsbury, Wiltshire factory William Learmonth went broke in the 1837 Tasmanian depression. With Victoria opening up there was a rush to obtain land suitable for large flocks of sheep. A family story is that William helped Thomas and Somerville Learmonth bring some of their flocks across Bass Strait to Victoria.

The Australian wool industry was a vastly different industry to the weaving industry in Wiltshire. The flocks were large but there was difficulty in finding skilled labour. Particularly at shearing time.

Before the 1891 shearers’ strike, Pearson, managing Dunmore, was able to start shearing at the beginning of November 1888 with a full board of 18 shearers. They were non-union men and Pearson paid them 15 shillings per hundred (whereas Samuel Baulch on next door Glengleeson had advertised for shearers at 12 shillings the year before).

some years following the 1891 shearers’ strike, Samuel Baulch, now at Dunmore, lost a costly court case. Partly because he refused to sign the shearers’ award agreements and partly due to a disagreement over whether the sheep were too wet to be shorn. The case shows that the owner, Samuel Baulch, ran the shed with his sons Walter and Bert classing the clip.

A wool classer is a person trained to produce uniform and predictable lines of categories of wool.

Running the shed changed 1954, if not before. That year a contractor was used to run the shed. The contractor hired the shearers and the shed hands. The shearers hired their cook and the owner engaged the wool classer. The difference between a wool stapler and a wool classer is that a wool stapler, such as Simon Uncles Salter, takes the risk in working for themselves. A wool classer removes that risk by working for someone else.

Political factors seem to bedevil the wool industry. There was a scheme during World War I to help through the disruption of supply to Britain. This was continued post war by the British Australian Wool Realisation Scheme. And followed up by reserve or floor price schemes introduced in the 1950s and the 1970s – each ended with equally disastrous results.

The 1891 shearers’ strike is one of many ways in which the decline of the wool industry has manifest itself. Riots, strikes and government schemes. Each have risen out of the inherent ability of the wool industry to respond appropriately to a changing and declining industry.

Census records – one of my gateway sources

I call some of the sources I use my gateway sources. I find them critical to breaking down brick walls. Do I stand at the gateway afraid to go any further? Do I stand in the open gateway thinking about how to approach a completely new set of sources that may contain family stories?
Passenger lists are one of my gateway sources. Before a family member embarks on their journey to Australia I focus on British sources. Once a family member arrives in Australia I search for my family stories here in Australia.
Census records, particularly those that form part of the 1841 English census collection, are one of my favourite gateway sources. They set a point in time for setting aside Australian collections and turning to English collections. Furthermore, information contained in an 1841 England census record may confirm information I already have or may give some clues about which other English collections I should look at.
For example, the 1841 England census records are pivotal in telling the story of my paternal two greats grandfather Francis Baulch and his wife Ann Bowles. The census records establish that the family was still living in Pitney, Somerset at census time. The census records also contain hints as to why the family emigrated to Tasmania with other Pitney, Somerset families not long afterwards.
There is no doubt that Francis’s family was in dire straits by 1841. As were many such families following the enclosures in the area several years beforehand. The Pitney churchwardens were concerned about the debt owed to them by Francis’s mother. Francis couldn’t help. He had a young and growing family to provide for. And Francis had difficulty getting sufficient work to sustain his own family let alone help his mother in her difficulties. One year he did manage to win the contract for hauling stone for the roads but was unable to retain the contract. Francis’s brother, Enoch, in common with many other young agricultural laborers, also had difficulty in obtaining work. And when he did have work Enoch was paid a pittance.
The 1841 England census was held on the 6th of June. It was summer harvest time and may well have been one of those times that Enoch Baulch had work. It’s likely that Enoch was one of the unnamed men recorded in the census as living in sheds.
The Baulch men, and other men like them, would have been receptive to Henry Dowling’s search for experience agricultural laborers in 1840/1841. Tasmanian farmers had appointed Dowling as their agent in the farmers search for workers to replace men who had left Tasmania for the opportunities in the new Port Phillip district.
In the autumn following the 1841 Census the Pitney churchwardens gave Francis Baulch and Charles Bartlett, both with young families to support, funds to purchase clothing and other necessities to help them emigrate. By late November 1841, the two men, their families and some closely connected families sailed for Tasmania. They were avoiding facing another bleak winter in Pitney.
But some family members didn’t come. The census records give clues as to why.
For example, Francis’s brother William Baulch was living next door to his mother at the time. No doubt to help his mother when needed. His mother remarried in 1845 so William and his family was then free to emigrate. There is a clue there in the 1841 census records that helped find William’s new home. In 1841 William Baulch and Martha Cook had a ten-year-old boy, Edward or Edmond Perrin, staying with them. There they all are emigrating to the United States in 1850 and can be followed in the US censuses from thereafter.
Others weren’t of the right age or otherwise not qualified for assistance to emigrate. Some of the children later emigrated with many of Henry Baulch’s descendants emigrating to Queensland.
Charles Edgar, one of Ann Bowles’ younger half brothers, went to Ontario, Canada.
Frances-Fletcher-TreeWhich brings me to a source that I think may become another of my gateway sources. I have a DNA autosomal match with a Canadian cousin. On my side of our family tree the match comes about because I am a descendant of Henry Bowles and Frances Fletcher, Ann Bowles’s parents. On the other side of our family tree the match comes about because my Canadian cousin is a descendant of William Edgar and Frances Fletcher, Charles Edgar’s parents. The ancestor we have in common is Frances Fletcher. The chromosome segments where we match, therefore, must have been passed down from Frances Fletcher. But which segments on which chromosomes?

Selected Bibliography:
The National Archives (TNA): HO 107/955 f4 p1 Census Returns: 1841
Canada Census 1851 -1861 [database ]
United States Census, 1860 – 1870, [database & images]
St John the Baptist Church of England (Pitney, Somerset, England). Parish chest material.
AncestryDNA [database].

Trove Tuesday: Simpsons at Squattleseamere

Outside the Squattleseamere dining room door
Outside the Squattleseamere dining room door

My first home was on a Squattleseamere Closer Settlement block. Squattleseamere had initially been taken up by Thomas Browne but the second owners of the licence, George Simpson and his younger brother Crawford, are the subject of this article.
Although the Crawfords’ purchase of the pastoral licence and their sale later on are not officially recorded in the surviving pastoral run archives I have known for many years that the Simpsons were definitely on Squattleseamere. This is because a story has been passed down of how Crawford was gored by the imported bull Exhibition and subsequently died of his injuries.
Charles Macknight, one of the partners on Dunmore, regarded the Simpsons as proprietors of Squattleseamere. Furthermore, whenever Macknight writes of the Simpsons he writes of them as equals, as fellow squatters. Indeed whenever one of the Simpsons visited Dunmore it was generally in the company of other nearby squatters as such Medley (formerly of Snakey Creek), McGregor (of Ardonachie) or Phillips (of Tarrone).
When Dunmore mustered cattle for market in March each year those belonging to neighbouring squatters, including the Simpsons, were drafted out. Later in the year mares were accepted from neighbours and Dunmore mares were sent to horses owned by other squatters, including the Simpsons at Squattleseamere.
George Simpson was born in Old Deer, Aberdeenshire in 1830. In 1853, five young men, including a George Simpson, emigrated from the nearby port of Peterhead to Port Phillip. Two years later, George’s younger brother, Crawford, arrived in Melbourne aboard the Marco Polo. It’s not only the official passenger lists that confirm these voyages but associated newspaper entries at the time.
It seems that the Crawford brothers initially worked on Cato’s run where Crawford’s misfortunes started. In 1858 Crawford fell from his horse but his foot was caught in a stirrup and he was dragged. One of Cato’s shepherds found him unconscious. Crawford was so severely injured he wasn’t expected to live.
So perhaps the brothers were taken in by the claim in the sale notice for Squattleseamere and Snakey Creek stations that the cattle were quiet. Thomas Brown had first advertised the sale of his runs in 1857 but it wasn’t until June 1859 that J H Clough and Co finally reported the sale. Unfortunately, the purchaser wasn’t mentioned.
In October 1859 George Simpson married Jane Lyell, a sister of John Cato’s wife Margaret. On the same day another sister, Alison, married a John Simpson.
Then tragedy struck. On 10 Nov 1859 Macknight recorded that Mr Simpson was nearly killed by the bull. George was also injured. George recovered but Crawford died of his injuries three days later.
The runs were sold in 1862, presumably by George Simpson although no mention of the vendor is reported. He had been on Squattleseamere and Snakey Creek runs for just over three years.

The Age (Melbourne) 17 Nov 1859 p3
The Argus (Melbourne) 12 Jul 1855 p8
The Argus (Melbourne) 5 OCT 1858 p4 c3 Fearful Accident
The Argus (Melbourne) 30 July 1857 p8
Ballarat Star (Ballarat) 24 Jun 1859
R V Billis and A S Kenyon, Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip, Second Edition (Melbourne, Victoria: Stockland Press, 1974)
Charles Hamilton Macknight, “Dunmore Journals” (MS, Melbourne, Victoria, 1840 – 1873); State Library of Victoria. (Copy of Macknight sisters transcript 1929 held privately).
FamilySearch (
Find My Past (
Public Record Office of Victoria “Index to Unassisted Immigrants from the United Kingdom 1852-1923” (
Scotlandspeople (

Baulch Y DNA mutations

DNA ribbons
DNA ribbons

When did mutations occur in the Y DNA in our direct paternal line?
Perhaps the Colac branch can help in my new DNA search for when a change or mutation on an STR or short tandem repeat marker on the Y chromosome occurred in our Baulch branch.
I remember with great affection one of my very early visits to Baulch family members was to the late Clarrie Baulch of Colac who introduced me visit to his wife as his first cousin on the Warry side but his second cousin on the Mitchem side. Perhaps this visit foreshadowed the challenges that were to come as part of my family history research.
It’s not that long ago that it was believed that the DNA on the Y chromosome was just a lot of randomly repeated junk.
So why did I ask my brother to undertake a DNA test? And why did a second cousin as well as my brother agree to do so?
Because we have a brick wall on our paternal line. We descend from the Charles Baulch who married Ann Beddlecombe on 1 Apr 1799 at Muchelney. Charles was born to Roger Baulch and Betty Gaylard on 25 Jan 1767. But my sister that it is more than likely that Roger’s son died in infancy on 8 Mar 1767. No other mention has ever been found of another Charles Baulch. Yet it is telling that Henry Baulch, Roger Baulch’s elder son, was a witness at the wedding of Ann Beddlecombe and Charles Baulch.

Extract from Free Reg

Yet even more telling is that my brother has an autosomal match with Hannah Baulch, a cousin of Henry and Charles Baulch.
Then again, the Y DNA results of my brother and our second cousin indicate that, at least, our Baulch line is another branch of Baulchs.

Baulch Y DNA mutations
Baulch Y DNA mutations

Our second cousin’s Y DNA results confirm a branch mutation on marker DYS710 as both he and my brother have a value of 31 on that marker.

STR Marker Mutations
STR Marker Mutations

No other Balch, Sims or Washburn men have that value and are all 32 or higher. This means that somewhere from our nearest common ancestor, our great grandfather Samuel Baulch on up, one of your Baulch ancestors mutated from 32 to 31, and that mutation was passed on to my brother and to our second cousin.

Trove Tuesday: Old Roads

Old-TrackThis is a little family story about old roads. A couple of stories just for Trove Tuesday. I wouldn’t have remembered them if Inside History hadn’t organised the cloud funding of the earliest editions of the Hamilton Spectator. It was just a small entry in the Hamilton Spectator that reminded me of two stories my father told be about roads. A small entry that had been overlooked when I first searched the paper version of the Hamilton Spectator many, many years ago at their office. And which I had overlooked in searching microfilm at the State Library of Victoria. As part of the launch of the introduction of the Hamilton Spectator to Trove Newspapers I was invited to submit an initial search. A no brainer. Both my great grandfather Samuel Baulch and my two greats grandfather William Learmonth were in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the release of Crown Land in Victoria.
But it was a line about Samuel’s brother Alfred that caught my eye. G Payne and Alf Baulch of the parish of Macarthur were absent from the Local Land Board sitting in Portland on 15 September 1870.

The Hamilton Spectator, 17 June 1870, p4, c2.

Now there may be many reasons as to why these two men didn’t go to the Land Board sitting.
One may have been the difficulty of actually making the journey for Macarthur parish sits in between Hamilton and Portland and between Hamilton and Port Fairy (or Belfast). So they had some distance to travel. But the roads weren’t same as they are today.
For example, my father told me the story of how he and his father drove the truck to Heywood to pick up or deliver a load. They decided to go by the direct route – following what is now the Woolsthorpe – Heywood road. Travelling directly west from Dunmore. But there was no road and the track beyond the gate into the Dunmore forest to Ettrick was so bad that they travelled north to Myamyn and came east to Macarthur before travelling south home to Dunmore. A lot further but apparently quicker.
So the track through the stones may have been so bad that Alf Baulch was unable to attend the Land Board meeting in Portland. Certainly his older brother James paid his rent in Belfast from time to time rather than travel to Portland to do so.
Of course the first tracks which later became roads went from one run to another. For example, there was a track from Harton Hills south through Dunmore to the crossing place at Orford. But it was the track out of the Dunmore Pre-emptive Right (PR) to Macarthur that is the source of my next story. When the Heywood – Woolsthorpe road was eventually proclaimed it not only went through the forest but it also passed through the Dunmore PR. This meant that some old roads were closed and others opened. That some land became part of my grandfather’s holding and some returned to the Crown.


Certificate of Title Vol 5118 Folio 441

Years later it was discovered that the areas had been miscalculated with a consequent effect on the rates levied. My father visited the Shire Office for half a day. Without any resolution as far as I can remember. There was another consequence too. By financing the power to the Dunmore Woolshed my grandfather helped bring power to the Macarthur Butter Factory. With the changes due to the making of the Woolsthorpe – Heywood road there is now a title plan to show “transmission of electricity” across what was the old road but which is now private land.


Title Plan TP 551Y

So even just one line in a Trove search can remind me of family stories that may have so easily been forgotten!

Land – Laverton

At the corner of Landers Lane
At the corner of Landers Lane

My methodology for researching land ownership is not necessarily the only way to do land research.
Where and when we start with our research depends on the information we have or don’t have.
For our current home that is easy. We have the date. We have a place.
There is always an element of truth in family stories but often the truth is sufficiently different to make research difficult. Have I said that with enough feeling? For example, there is a story in our family that my great grandfather Samuel Baulch owned a hotel in Cavendish – some distance from his home in Kirkstall. A visit last year to the Hamilton History Centre confirmed Samuel was indeed a publican in Cavendish for a short while after the previous publican, his brother-in-law, had died. I found extra information recently when some of the Hamilton Spectator was added to Trove. Information I had missed when I visited the Spec office some thirty years ago!
If your family was here in Victoria very early on then another place to start may be at the Registrar of Titles General Law Library at Cherry Lane, Laverton. Susie Zada has written an excellent blog about using this resource. You will note, as I didn’t, that the indexes to the first series of vendor books are at the END of those books. Down the bottom.
Also, if you are going out to Laverton, think about taking the opportunity to look at aerial photographs. It may be worth looking at the University of Melbourne Map Collection first though.
I haven’t personally looked at aerial photographs. Because, until the hot rock geothermal pilot went in nearby, there was nothing to indicate that Landers’ block was hotly disputed over by the occupying squatter and the family of selectors when it was opened for selection under the 1869 Land Act.

Melbourne’s laneways

Image courtesy State Library of Victoria
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria
This is not a story of my family home but of my volunteer home – the Genealogical Society of Victoria. This is a story about the GSV’s home in the lower basement, or cellar, of 257 Collins Street in Melbourne.
Sometimes I am so engrossed in searching for stories amongst the books and memorials of various archives and family history societies that I neglect to look at the family history around me.
So it was a year or so ago I was in one of Melbourne’s small laneways off Flinders Lane. That day Flinders Lane was closed to vehicle traffic. As I had my coffee I watched a very large crane load an equally large and heavy duty truck close by with several combination safes.
I never thought more about it at the time. Should I have? Yes.
Should I be viewing my surroundings with a family history frame of mind? Yes.
I had never given much thought as to why there was cellar beneath the car park at 257 Collins Place before. If questioned I may have replied that the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney added it when they redeveloped the block in the early 1970s. But 257 Collins Street has been a bank premises for a very long time – from the 1840s and right through the Victorian gold rushes.
257 Collins Street
257 Collins Street

This summer the Carlton Clydesdales will again be delivering kegs to Melbourne’s hotels. Will this be more a show than an imitation of how beer was delivered in the early days of Melbourne’s settlement?
I grew up on a farm where the front door was rarely used. All the action on the farm went on out the back. It wasn’t until I looked at the parish plan for Melbourne that I paused to think. City businesses operate the same way.
Parish of Melbourne map
Parish of Melbourne map

There were no laneways as I know them. Just allotments facing Collins Street but also running right the way through to Flinders Lane. Next time I walked out the back door of the GSV I crossed Flinders Lane and turned around. The rear view of 257 Collins Street is quite different to the front view. Firstly, there is access to the carpark, not directly from Flinders Lane but from a laneway off Flinders Lane.
Lassi map
Lassi map

What had Governor Bourke intended when he visited Port Phillip with surveyor Robert Hoddle in 1837?
Bourke and Hoddle laid out Melbourne with wide streets and wide footpaths.
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria

However, Governor Bourke recognized that if there was to be no encroachment onto the footpaths then lanes were required behind the buildings facing these wide streets and footpaths. So he requested that there be lanes between the streets. Flinders Lane between Flinders Street and Collins Street for example.
Even so, the blocks were quite deep and at just under half an acre quite large.
With an ever increasing population outstripping the ability to provide accommodation for them. For those fortunate enough to acquire land in one of the early Melbourne sales there was the opportunity to lease portions requesting the lease payment up front. Then the purchaser had the balance of the purchase price to be paid to the government by the due date.
So it was that Michael Carr leased portion of Allotment 15 Section 4 – the allotment on which the GSV is located.
Michael Carr had arrived in Port Phillip in November 1835 and operated the Governor Bourke Hotel in Little Flinders Street half way between Market and Queen Streets – on land he also purchased in the first Melbourne land sales.
It is interesting to note that the first person who leased part of the block from Michael Carr was the brewer Oliver Adams. He didn’t stay long before moving to the fledgling Geelong.
So how did a brewer and a publican get their supplies delivered to each in Flinders Lane? Not from carts coming down Collins Street but from carts coming down Flinders Lane as Governor Bourke had intended.
However, Michael Carr had a problem accessing Flinders Lane. Having leased the rear of his block he had no access to Flinders Lane for supplies. So he retained a carriage access or laneway which remains today as Flinders Way.
Furthermore, the two sub allotments became separated over time – the one part facing Collins Street and the one part facing Flinders Lane. The divisions can be seen quite clearly across Flinders Lane.
It was not until the CBC acquired the two in the late 1960s that Michael Carr’s allotment became one again. Well almost. The laneway is now the property of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. What is interesting to me is that the laneway hints at how deliveries were made to Oliver Adams’ brewery and other businesses in Flinders Lane.
Often when I am walking about in Carlton and Fitzroy I come across a grate in the footpath. These grates can be lifted to give access to the cellar in the adjoining hotel. The grates also give light to these hotel cellars.
Where were the supplies to a publican, or a brewer, kept? Not at street level as this was valuable retail area. But in a cellar. The MMBW maps of Melbourne (accessible online from the State Library of Victoria) indicate that most of Flinders Lane had cellars, including the rear, at least, of 257 Collins Street.
MMBW-Sewerage (State Library of Victoria)
MMBW-Sewerage (State Library of Victoria)

But were they cellars in the manner I think of modern day cellars? Were they entirely below street level?
When I look at the building on the Swanston Street side of the GSV carriage access, or laneway, it seems to me that there is a foundation of bluestone underneath what would have been the bluestone walls of the cellar. This cellar has windows above the ground. Certainly to give light.
Window in Bluestone Wall
Window in Bluestone Wall

But the windows aren’t all that far above the level of Flinders Lane. Just far enough that the cellar ceiling would be high enough, or low enough depending upon your perspective, to have a loading dock above at the level of a cart or wagon used delivering or loading supplies. Probably not says my brother. It was more likely to have been done manually.
Window in Bluestone Wall
Window in Bluestone Wall

Nevertheless, it seems that Governor Bourke’s intention to keep the streets and footpaths wide and uncluttered is still the case. The purpose of Flinders Lane as a delivery access remains. Possibly with the same difficulties for complex deliveries. And our laneways seem to be a consequence of Governor Bourke’s recognition that to keep a clear front entrance requires more a complex network of landways to service all the buildings facing the main streets.