Canberra Congress – Emigration

The gate by the milking shed was left open. So just for a few days my horizons have changed from looking at land selection records in South Western Victoria – mostly within the triangle Portland, Hamilton and Warrnambool for that is where my ancestors settled.
The vista and the beckoning horizons were set there right in the opening address – by the story woven and told by Dr Mathew Trinca of the National Museum. From the keeper of Phar Lap’s heart no less. The tone and his example has been set for the rest of the Congress.
I have found a couple of themes to follow when possible.
It certainly is time to revisit the emigration stories of my ancestors who came to the colonies like Brown’s cows starting with Robert Ralston’s emigration scout, his niece and my first cousin four times removed, Agnes McClymont in 1823 and finishing with the emigration of my great grandfather Charles Salter fifty years later.
As I listened to Simon Fowler and Roger Kershaw and the voice at the back of the lecture room, I see that there is no avoiding it as I have been for the past decade or so. The circumstances of leaving is not common across them all. They are peculiar to each emigration journey and each deserves to have their story told.
That is, in the flavour of Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over, I should set aside what I have done so far and start again. This time considering the factors that caused them to emigrate. Was it just for the sense of adventure? Were they driven out, as was William Lord of Kilmuckridge in County Wexford, by difficulties with their landlords? And I am sure that William Newman’s journey from Westminster is still out there to be found.
Kerry Farmer’s two presentations on DNA were absolutely first class. I have been looking for ways to describe simply the results of an mtDNA search I requested. The presentation of Day 1 was spot on. But then I got completely confused on yesterday. I think, Thomas MacEntee, that these two sessions in particular require to be itemised separately in my further education!
And it is fortunate that we have a four generations chart of Charles Baulch’s descendants. I can see it will be much consulted as more Baulch cousins undertake DNA testing The chart finishes at the end of autosomal DNA searches so will be a good confirming link into further Baulch connections. Well at least I hope so.
But the land selection records never go away. My first discussion yesterday wasn’t about my genealogy software tool, Legacy Family Tree but about land selection around Tarrington (just south of Hamilton). Sure, some of the answers lie in government land records. But one of the best ways to begin is with the local paper, the Hamilton Spectator. Won’t it be great when the Spectator will be finally up there on Trove?

Assisted Emigration

Here I am in Canberra for the 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry. For those of you also attending, particularly if you are users of Legacy Family Tree software, do stop at the VicGUM stand and say hello.

Here at the Congress I am particularly looking forward to Day 1, Session 1 Simon Fowler’s session Shovelling out paupers: researching assisted emigration in English archives.

I have a handful of ancestors who were able to come to the Australian colonies because of assistance received from the government (mostly) or privately (one or two). Each have their own stories but I view their journey mostly from the prevailing conditions in the colonies and their experiences once they got here. Not from the point of view of the government who made it possible.

The most notable emigrants were my two greats grandparents Francis Baulch and his wife Ann Bowles. They, with their families, emigrated as bounty migrants arriving in Tasmania in 1842. Francis came with his brothers Charles and Enoch Baulch. Also aboard was Charles Bartlett and his family. Francis Baulch and Charles Baulch were granted funds by the Pitney, Somerset churchwardens to help them prepare for emigration. It was the Tasmanian landowners who sent Henry Dowling to select suitable agricultural labourers. It was as agricultural labourers that they later found success around Tower Hill in south western Victoria – when the labour there left for the goldfields in the early 1850s.

It is a no brainer as to why Lazarus Watts left his employment as a young chimney sweep in Nottingham after his mother died in 1858. He came with his sister Lydia and his brother in law William Porter. Both men found work in the goldfields – William as a shoemaker and Lazarus as a sawyer.

Similarly, Thomas Wild would have found his trade of blacksmithing useful in the Victorian colonies. But less so his brother in law, and my two greats grandfather, Brian Abbey a weaver from Elland, Yorkshire. He initially found work as a colporteur.

Which leads to a question. What part did religion play in the emigration of these families? Was it mere coincidence that couples may have met as part of the Methodist Church or did the Methodist Church play a more significant part in the lives of these very poor people?

Enabling my ancestors wasn’t confined to government assistance at the time of emigration. Following the death of his father my great grandfather Charles Salter was sponsored as a pupil of Christ’s Hospital Blue Coat School. This subsequently led to his employment with Royal Insurance Co initially in England but after 1873 in Melbourne where he spent the rest of his working life still with Royal Insurance.

Charles Salter’s experience as a beneficiary of private philanthropy has me wondering about the means by which my two greats grandfather William Newman may have emigrated to Victoria to marry Ann Cathcart, an Eliza Caroline Irish orphan, in November 1852. At the time of the 1851 England Census William was a lodger at the New Model Lodging House in Westminster and his sister Emma was a pupil at the Grey Coat Hospital School nearby. Did he receive government assistance to emigrate or was he the recipient of some private emigration scheme that helped him, and his sister, following the death of their parents?

Even after all these years of doing family history research it seems that I have only looked at the tip of the iceberg. Understanding the circumstances from which my ancestors came also includes understanding how they were able to, or were encouraged to, take advantage of, in particular, government emigration schemes.

Let the Congress begin.