A natural conclusion

In a memoir of his sister Theresa Poole formerly Walker nee Chauncy (1807 – 1876), Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy (1816 – 1880), who was my third great grandfather, wrote:

[Her grandfather] William Snell Chauncy was the proprietor of the Winkfield Estate in Berkshire, where he resided for many years ; he was also possessed of slave estates in Antigua and St. Kitts, in the West Indies, of house property in Sackville Street, Dublin, and of considerable funded property.

Her father was his only son, born in London, on the 14th August, 1781, and died at Leamington on 1st August, 1845.

In giving this information, however, Philip Chauncy neglects to mention that his and Therese’s father was illegitimate, the natural son of William Snell-Chauncy (1756-1829).

Here was the explanation for something that had puzzled me: why had published pedigrees of my Chauncey forebears failed to include Philip Chauncy’s father William (1781-1845)?

On 14 August 1781 William Brown, the son of Eunice Brown and William Snell-Chauncy, was born in London.

Eunice (1753 – 1836) was the daughter of Captain Robert Brown (1713 – 1769) and his wife Margaret Brown nee Cosnahan (1718 – 1769). The Brown family was from the Isle of Man. Eunice was the seventh of nine children. William Brown was brought up on the Isle of Man by his mother’s family, with financial support from his father.

On 6 June 1783 William Snell-Chauncy married Sarah Toulmin (1757 – 1834). William and Sarah had two daughters, Sarah (1786 – 1841) and Catharine (1788 – 1858). William Snell-Chauncy and his wife Sarah separated in 1789. The Deed of Separation, issued in 1789, stipulated that William should not have the management of his two daughters.

Philip Chauncy’s father, William, married Rose Therese Lamothe on 5 May 1804 at Malew on the Isle of Man. Marriage records give his name as William Snell Chauncy; it appears William had adopted his father’s name. William’s children were all known by the surname Chauncy.

Philip wrote that his sister Theresa was “sent on a visit to my grandfather at Wingfield, where she rendered us good service by watching and partially defeating the intrigues of another branch of the family who were using every exertion to obtain an undue share of property from my grandfather in his old age. I think Theresa must have been at Wingfield for several years”. This would have been in the late 1820s.

William Snell-Chauncy died in 1829. In his will he named his son as William Brown, later referring to his “natural son William Brown”. The children of William Brown were also provided for, as was Eunice Brown, William’s mother. Only after providing for the Browns does William’s will turn to his daughters Sarah and Catharine. He made no provision for his wife Sarah, stating he had provided for her in his lifetime.

In 1831 William Snell-Chauncy’s daughter Mrs Catherine Snell Burke challenged the legal validity of the will and its codicil on the grounds of insanity of the testator. One of the executors was a man called Robert Westwood; the case was named ‘Westwood against Burke and Others’. The challenge was put forward in June 1831 and the case came to court in November and December 1831. The bulk of William Snell-Chauncy’s estate of £25,000 had been left to his natural son.

Martha and Theresa Brown [sic], Philip Chauncy’s sisters, were noted as having lived with the deceased, their grandfather. The court heard evidence alleging that William Snell-Chauncy’s behaviour had been childish, that he was a habitual drunkard, and that he had conducted himself in an insane and irrational manner. It was also alleged that the signature on the will was not in his hand-writing. The counter allegations were that the deceased, though eccentric, was not of unsound mind; he had conducted his own affairs, had received and paid money, played at cards, spoke French; that he was charitable and benevolent; and that he entertained great regard for his natural son and his family.

On 19 December 1831 The Times reported the proceedings of the Prerogative Court for December 17. The King’s Advocate on behalf of the executors observed that the party opposing the will was really Captain Burke on behalf of his wife and her unmarried sister and that Captain Burke’s difficulty with the will was not that the testator was incapable of making a will but only a will more in favour of the legitimate children. The King’s Advocate noted that previous wills made by William Snell-Chauncy in 1799, 1816 and 1820 had all provided for his natural son. Given that the 1789 deed of separation from his wife had stipulated he should not have the management of his two daughters, it followed that there was less intimacy with his legitimate family. But he had had constant interaction with his natural son and his family.

Dr Lushington on behalf of Captain Burke stated that in the course of evidence there were “charges brought against the Misses Brown [Theresa and Martha Chauncy] [which] were not a substantial part of the case, but solely with the view of discrediting the testimony of a witness.”


Portrait of Sir John Nicholl (1759-1838), Welsh politician and judge. Artist William Owen Collections of St John’s College, University of Oxford Retrieved from https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/sir-john-nicholl-223355

The Times of 5 January 1832 reported the decision of Sir John Nicholl, judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. More than 50 witnesses had been examined and there were depositions from more than 100 witnesses. There was a larger body of evidence on the case than in any case of the records of the Court. Nicholl found that no act of insanity had been proved and that the whole conduct and history of the testator naturally led to the conclusion of the probability of the dispositions in the will. The judge

“referred particularly to the charges alleged against the Misses Brown, in an interrogatory address to a witness named Gould, and which he had positively denied. Where, he asked, was the necessity of attacking the character of these two young women? It was an act of justice to them that the Court should declare thus publicly, that the character of these young women had been attacked without any just cause, and that the single witness by whom the charge had been attempted to be supported, was unworthy of any sort of credit whatever.”

Mr and Mrs Burke were condemned to all costs as it was deemed unfair that the estate should bear any of the costs.

From the judge’s summing up it appears that Martha had most certainly earned the comment from her brother that “…she rendered us good service by watching and partially defeating the intrigues of another branch of the family who were using every exertion to obtain an undue share of property from my grandfather in his old age”.


  • Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy (1816 – 1880) wrote a memoir of his sister Mrs Poole, Theresa Poole formerly Walker nee Chauncy (1807 – 1876). It was first published in 1873 as Memoir of the late Mrs G.H. Poole by her brother. It was republished in 1976 together with a memoir of Philip’s second wife as Memoirs of Mrs. Poole and Mrs. Chauncy.
  • Tucker, Stephen, 1835-1887. Pedigree of the Family of Chauncy. Special private reprint, with additions. London: Mitchell and Hughes, 1884. Viewed online at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89062913470 [see printed page 10]
  • Will of William Snell Chauncy Esquire probated 26 March 1832 PCC  Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1795
  • “Prerogative Court, Tuesday, Nov. 15.” Times [London, England] 16 Nov. 1831: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 30 Sept. 2018.
  • “Prerogative Court, Saturday, Dec. 17.” Times [London, England] 19 Dec. 1831: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 30 Sept. 2018.
  • “Prerogative Court, Wednesday, Jan. 4.” Times [London, England] 5 Jan. 1832: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 30 Sept. 2018.

Related links

  • The Gazette (London Gazette) Publication date: 12 December 1780 Issue: 12144 Page: 4 William Snell, later William Snell-Chauncy, was born in 1756 at Wingfield, Berkshire to William Snell (1716 – 1779) and Martha Snell nee Chauncy (1720 – 1765). Martha was the daughter of Charles Chauncy (1673 – 1763). In his will, Charles Chauncy specified that his grandson William Snell should take on the name Chauncy when he was twenty four years old and that he should quarter Charles Chauncy’s coat of arms with his own. Charles Chauncy’s three sons had no male issue and William Snell was the oldest of Charles Chauncy’s three grandsons by his daughter Martha. William Snell of Edmonton was granted license in accordance with the will of his late grandfather Charles Chauncy late of Newington to add Chauncy to his name in December 1780.
    • Will of Charles Chauncy probated 28 February 1763 : The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 884
  • ‘William Snell Chauncy ne Snell’, Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146645369 [accessed 1st October 2018].
  • From MeasuringWorth.com
    • In 2017, the relative price worth of £25000 0s 0d from 1831 is:
      • £2,160,000.00 using the retail price index
      • £2,450,000.00 using the GDP deflator
    • In 2017, the relative wage or income worth of £25000 0s 0d from 1831 is:
      • £20,200,000.00 using the average earnings
      • £30,900,000.00 using the per capita GDP
    • In 2017, the relative output worth of £25000 0s 0d from 1831 is:
      • £114,000,000.00 using the GDP
  • UK National Archives: it seems the court records are available: Reference: PROB 37/883 Description: Westwood v Burke and others Testator or intestate: Chauncy, William Snell formerly of Bishopsgate Common, Surrey; afterwards of Windlesham, Surrey; late of Winkfield, Berks.; esq. Date: 1830-1832 Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Related post

Samuel Pepys and the Crew family

The diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was well connected; conversely, many people were and are connected to him.  Pepys to me was the first cousin once removed of the husband of my 10th great aunt, Jemima Crew (1625-1674), daughter of John Crew (1598-1679) and Jemima Crew née Waldegrave (died 1675), my 10th great grandparents.



Samuel Pepys portrait by John Hayls 1666. The portrait now hangs in the UK National Portrait Gallery


Jemima Crew the daughter married Edward Montagu, later 1st Earl of Sandwich, (1625-1672). Montagu’s mother was Paulina Pepys (1581-1638), sister of Samuel Pepys grandfather, Thomas Pepys (died 1606).

In 1654-5 Samuel Pepys entered the household of his first cousin once removed Edward Montagu, who became his benefactor and patron. In his diaries Pepys often mentions Edward Montagu and members of the Montagu family, including my tenth great grandparents and ninth great grandmother Anne Wright nee Crew (1637-1708).

Pepys Montagu Crew Wright tree

On 22 May 1661 Pepys noted that Anne Wright sang songs to the harpsichord with her sister Jemima Montagu. On 20 November he described Lady Wright as “a witty but very conceited woman and proud”.  On 3 December 1661 Anne Wright dined with her sister Jemima Montagu. Pepys joined them and found the conversation was “about the great happiness that my Lady Wright says there is in being in the fashion and in variety of fashions, in scorn of others that are not so, as citizens’ wives and country gentlewomen”. On 9 December he again met Anne Wright: “dinner to the Wardrobe [Royal Wardrobe]; where my Lady Wright was, who did talk much upon the worth and the desert of gallantry; and that there was none fit to be courtiers, but such as have been abroad and know fashions. Which I endeavoured to oppose; and was troubled to hear her talk so, though she be a very wise and discreet lady in other things.”

In July 1665 Pepys stayed with Lady Wright at her house Dagenham in Surrey when seeking to arrange the marriage of Jemima Montagu to Philip Cartaret. On 16 July he said he “walked in the gallery an hour or two, it being a most noble and pretty house that ever, for the bigness, I saw.” On 17 July the party, including Anne Wright, played billiards. During the visit on 16 July there was effort made to let the young couple get to know each other, however proprietaries had to be observed so they were left in a room with the door open. “… and lastly my Lady Crew come out, and left the young people together. And a little pretty daughter of my Lady Wright’s most innocently come out afterward, and shut the door to, as if she had done it, poor child, by inspiration; which made us without, have good sport to laugh at.” The child was probably Anne Wright who would have been about seven years old – she later married Edmund Pye and was my 8th great grandmother.

On 17 January 1666 Pepys visited Dagenham again. “Lady Wright was very kind”, he wrote. Of her mother, he observed that she was “the same weake silly lady as ever, asking such saintly questions.”

There are at least 20 mentions of my ninth great grandmother in Pepys’s published diaries. From Pepys I have learned she could sing, play cards, and play billiards. She saw her family quite often, was very interested in fashion, and deplored the what she regarded as a lack of proper gallantry in men’s behaviour.

Sir Henry Wright (1637-1664), my ninth great grandfather, husband of Anne Wright nee Crew, is mentioned by Pepys at least 16 times. On 10 December 1663, “…calling at Wotton’s, my shoemaker’s, today, he tells me that Sir H. Wright is dying”. A couple of months later, on 5 February 1664, Wright passed away.

In the nearly ten years he kept his diary, Pepys spent much time with the family of his patron Edward Montagu. He often dined with John Crew, father-in-law of Edward; John Crew is mentioned at least  141 times. In 1665 Pepys helped to arrange the marriage of Edward’s daughter Jemima to Philip Cartaret.

I am delighted to have learned more about my forebears through Pepys observations.

Resource: A most useful website on the Diary of Sir Samuel Pepys: https://www.pepysdiary.com/about/

Related PostBurke’s family records can be wrong

Burke’s family records can be wrong

Edward Mainwaring ad Jemima Pye

Double portait of Edward Mainwaring and Jemima Pye by Michael Dahl. The portrait hangs in the front hall of Whitmore Hall. Image from the book by Christine Mainwaring: From 1066 to Waltzing Matilda page 71

Many family historians rely on published pedigrees such as John Burke‘s 1833 Genealogical and Heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland. Unfortunately sometimes Burke got it wrong.

My Mainwaring forebears are included in Burke’s 1833 family records, a genealogy of the junior houses of British nobility, which records family origins, surnames, events, and locations of about 300 British families; some are accompanied by coats of arms. The records have been digitised and indexed by Ancestry.com. The incorrect relationships are included in at least 28 public family trees on ancestry.com, presumably based on Burke’s error.

The entry for my seventh great grandparents reads:

Edward Mainwaring, of Whitmore Hall, bapt. 25 Aug. 1681, m. 1st Jemima Pye, second dau. of Edmund Pye, of Farringdon, Berks (see Burke’s Landed Gentry), by Anne , his wife, dau. of Lord Crewe, of Stene, and by her, who was buried 22 August 1721, had issue, …

When I started to look at the text of the marriage settlement for Edward and Jemima I became a little confused. Burke’s has combined mother and daughter into one person: Jemima was the daughter of Anne Rider formerly Pye nee Wright (c 1660-1731) and granddaughter of Anne Wright nee Crew (1637-1707); Jemima was thus the great granddaughter of Lord Crewe of Stene, 1st Baron Crewe.

The settlement was dated 15 March 1708 and was between four groups of people:

  • Edward Mainwaring of Whitmore, only son and heir of Edward Mainwaring deceased by Bridgett his wife, of the first part;
  • The Right Honourable and Right Reverend Nathaniel Lord Crewe, Baron of Stene, and Bishop of Durham, Henry Pye of Faringdon Co. Berks Esquire and John Conyers of Walthamstowe Co. Essex Esquire, Executors of the will of Dame Anne Wright of Dagenham, of the second part,
  • Anne Rider late wife of Edmund Pye Esquire of Faringdon and Jemima Pye, the daughter of the said Anne Rider and Edmund Pye of the third part, and
  • the Honourable Edward Cartaret of the Middle Temple and Carew Hervey, alias Mildmay, of the fourth part.

Dame Anne Wright of Dagenham was the daughter of Lord Crewe of Stene. She was the sister of the Right Honourable and Right Reverend Nathaniel Lord Crewe, Baron of Stene, and Bishop of Durham. She died in 1707 and her will was proved on 24 March 1708. [The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 508]

Anne Crew, born about 1637, married Henry Wright on 23 March 1658. Wright was a physician, son of Laurence (Lawrence) Wright, also a physician, at one time physician to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. Laurence Wright died in 1658. Shortly afterwards, on 10 April 1658, Cromwell made Laurence’s son Henry a baronet. This honour was disallowed – it didn’t seem Wright – when the monarchy was restored in May 1660, but on 11 June 1660 Henry Wright was AGAIN created a baronet by King Charles II. Henry and Anne Wright had two children, Anne and Henry (1662-1681). Henry junior died unmarried and on his death the baronetcy became extinct.

Anne Wright, the daughter, married Edmund Pye on 4 March 1678/9 at St Giles in the Fields. Pye was a medical doctor, the son and heir of Sir Robert Pye of Faringdon, Berkshire. Edmund Pye was born in 1656 and died about 1703 of smallpox at Knotting, Oxfordshire. His wife Anne remarried, to William Rider or Ryder. She died in 1731. [Edmund Pye’s will probated 3 January 1704 PCC Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 480. Anne Rider’s will probated 2 March 1731 PCC Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 650]

Crewe Wright Pye tree


Edward Cartaret was Jemima Pye’s second cousin. He was youngest of four children. His mother died at the time of his birth. Edward’s father, Philip Cartaret, was killed in the Battle of Soleby when he was six months old, along with his maternal grandfather, Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich. Edward Cartaret, together with Carew Harvey, were provided for in the marriage settlement of Edward Mainwaring and Jemima Pye in the case of failure of male issue of the marriage.

Battle of Solebay

The Burning of the ‘Royal James’ at the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672. Painting by Willem van de Velde the Younger. Edward Montagu and Philip Cartaret were on board the ‘Royal James’ which was attacked by fire ships. Image retrieved through Wikipedia.

While I understand the family connection of Edward Cartaret, I am not sure how Carew Harvey alias Mildmay is related. He was a neighbour of Anne Rider formerly Pye nee Wright in Essex and was appointed Sheriff of Essex in 1712. Perhaps her estate of Dagnams was encumbered in some way to him.

I have not been able to find out much about William Rider. When Anne Rider formerly Pye nee Wright made her will in 1722 she described herself as the wife of William Rider and left him an annuity of one hundred pounds per year during his lifetime. She bequeathed one thousand pounds to her grand daughter Jemima Mainwaring as promised her son in law Edward Mainwaring. There were other bequests but her residuary legatee was her much esteemed friend and relation Edward Carteret, that is her first cousin once removed.

William Rider / Ryder and his wife Anne were involved in several court cases.

Plaintiffs: Jemima Pye, Mary Pye, John Pye, Penelope Pye and Isabella Pye.

Defendants: William Ryder, Anne Ryder his wife, [unknown] Pye and others.

Subject: personal estate of the deceased Edmund Pye of St Margaret, Westminster, Middlesex, Bedfordshire.

Plaintiffs: Emery Argus and another.

Defendants: William Ryder, Anne Ryder his wife, [unknown] Pye and others.

Subject: property in Westminster and Grafton, Middlesex and Oxfordshire.

Plaintiffs: Anne Rider (wife of William Rider, esq of Knotting, Bedfordshire, and formerly widow and sole executrix of Edmund Pye, esq deceased late of Knotting, Robert Packer, esq) and Henry Pye, esq of Faringdon, Berkshire (eldest son and heir of said Edmund Pye and Anne Pye).

Defendants: William Rider, esq, Edward Carteret, Carew Hervey alias Carew Mildmay, Thomas Watford senior and Thomas Watford junior

Plaintiffs: William Rider, esq of Knotting, Bedfordshire and Ann Rider his wife (late widow and executrix of Edmund Pye, esq deceased, late of Farrington, Berkshire).

Defendants: Edward Carteret, esq, Thomas Watford senior, Thomas Watford junior and Carew Harvey alias Carew Mildmay.

Plaintiffs: Ann Rider (wife of William Ryder, a defendant, by Robert Parker, esq) and Edmund Pye, esq.

Defendants: William Rider, esq and others.

William Rider was also involved in several other court cases.

Although John Burke’s genealogy made a small error in confusing the generations, overall it is a very useful source and a terrific starting point for tracing the family trees of the families he documented. The genealogies would have been painstakingly compiled and of course without the databases and digitised records we rely on today. As with anybody’s research, Burke’s genealogies need  to be verified against available documents which for this period include marriage settlements and wills. Perhaps also court cases.


DNA testing two years on

Two years ago I sent off a sample of my DNA for testing. When I first received the results, I was unable to make any connection between my tree and the trees of people with whom I shared DNA.

I have made some progress since, however, speeded up by more testing: I persuaded my father to have his DNA analysed by Ancestry.com. His results are interesting and will be very useful to my family history research.

He, of course, is one generation closer than I am to the ancestors revealed by DNA matches. The difference in the numbers of matches, however, is greater than I expected.

My father has 219 matches estimated to be 4th cousins or closer. Estimates of how closely a person is related to someone is based on how much DNA they share. I have only 74 matches  where I am estimated to be a 4th cousin or closer. I share 56 of these matches – 76%  – with my father. (AncestryDNA provides a tool to filter matches shared with your father.)

I am not surprised that the great majority of my matches are on my paternal side, for my mother’s family is from Germany, where DNA testing in family history research is comparatively uncommon.

My father has 546 pages of matches on AncestryDNA. I have 305 pages. He shares DNA with about 27,275 people on the AncestryDNA database. I share DNA with about 15,225. Assuming that the overall ratio of paternal to maternal matches is proportionally similar to matches for 4th cousins and closer, about 11,500 of my matches are paternal. This means that my father has more than twice as many matches as I have with people who descend from the same forebears.

In the inheritance process segments of DNA are divided unevenly. Sometimes a complete segment is inherited; sometimes no part of the segment at all is passed on. (The genetic genealogist Roberta Estes explains the difference between how much of an ancestor’s DNA we could share and how much we do share in a blog post at https://dna-explained.com/2017/06/27/ancestral-dna-percentages-how-much-of-them-is-in-you/)

No matter how children’s segments of DNA are divided when they are inherited, their parents have larger and more complete segments, and as a result have more matches, of better quality.

AncestryDNA identifies people with whom you share DNA and whose family trees include the same forebears. It may be that you and your match have inherited the matching DNA from these forebears.  AncestryDNA calls these shared ancestor hints. I have twelve shared ancestor hints on AncestryDNA. All these are paternal. One of these hints is with my father. Of the other 11,  two are not in common with my father. The tree matches are paternal but my father is not shown as having the same DNA.

Shared DNA matches June 2018

Family tree (Sun Chart generated through MyHeritage) showing the most recent common ancestors of shared DNA matches with Rafe and Anne (red text), with Rafe only (green text), and with Anne only (blue text).

Looking more closely at these matches I have but my father does not, I see that I share with one of these matches 6.1 centimorgans of DNA across one segment and with the other match I share 6.3 centimorgans across one segment. For one cousin we share 6th great grandparents and are 5th cousins once removed. The other cousin we share 4th great grandparents and are 5th cousins. Sharing 6 centimorgans is a very small amount of shared DNA. A centimorgan is a unit used to express the distance between two gene loci on a chromosome and it measures how likely the segment is to recombine as it passes from parent to child. I higher number of shared centimorgans means greater confidence in the match.

It is possible that I share DNA on my mother’s side with these two cousins and have the same people as ancestors on my father’s side, but the more likely explanation is that the AncestryDNA algorithms may have truncated the segments: these are in fact paternal segments. Examining the data for these two matches through GedMatch, FTDNA or MyHeritage could help provide some answers. These other three sites provide better information on where a person and a probable match share DNA.

My father has 22 shared ancestor hints: one hint with me, 9 shared with me and 12 hints where he has DNA matches with cousins and I do not. There are 12 cousins who have researched their family tree to the extent that they and I have identified shared ancestors. They are shown to share DNA with my father but they do not share DNA with me.

One of these shared matches is a third cousin once removed on the Chauncy line (my 4th cousin). My father and this cousin share 20.8 centimorgans shared across 3 DNA segments. AncestryDNA suggests I have no shared DNA: this match disappeared in one generation.

DNA Chauncy shared ancestor hint

(This cousin’s tree has only 11 people in it. We are lucky to have a shared ancestor hint.)

I have corresponded with several of my father’s matches. The smallest match with a shared ancestor hint has 6.4 centimorgans across 1 segment. She and my father are 5th cousins once removed. She grew up in the village of Caithness, Scotland, where our mutual forebears lived. Her father still lives there. She has researched further back on that line, and I look forward to learning more about these of my forebears from her.

Unfortunately, very few of my father’s matches with hints have uploaded their DNA elsewhere, and this limits our ability to make new discoveries. Uploading the DNA data from ancestry.com to these other sites (GedMatch, MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA) is free and is not hard to do.

One of the nice things one can do with the information one gets from these other sites and not through ancestry.com, is you can attribute segments of your DNA to particular matches. For this attribution you need information about your shared ancestors and the numerical information provided by the testing company for each match so you can visualise it on your chromosomes. The application is called DNA Painter (https://dnapainter.com )


DNA Painter Profile 2018 06 26 for Rafe de Crespigny

Only a few matches have uploaded their data or tested with sites that have details of how the DNA is shared. I have managed to paint, ie attribute inherited DNA to particular ancestors, for just under 10% of my father’s DNA so far using DNA painter.


Despite the limited data provided by ancestry.com, there is still much more analysis for me to do within the AncestryDNA database.

Trove Tuesday: Arrival of Francis and Sarah Tuckfield

One of my husband Greg’s fourth great aunts was a Cornishwoman, Sarah Tuckfield née Gilbart  (1808-1854).

Sarah and her twin sister Thomasine were born on 22 July 1808 at St Erth, a sand and clay mining town about 5 km from St Ives. They were the seventh and eighth children of John Gilbart (1761-1837) and Elizabeth Gilbart née Huthnance (1774-1847).

John Gilbart was manager of a copper rolling mill at St Erth. He had been a member of the first Copperhouse Methodist Society (Copperhouse was a foundry and its associated district in east Hayle), and in 1783 he had founded the St Erth Methodist Class, the local Wesleyan group meeting.

Francis Tuckfield (1808-1865) was a miner and fisherman, who at the age of 18 was convinced by the truths of  Methodist nonconformism. He became an active local preacher and in 1835, at the age of 27, was accepted as a candidate for the Ministry. He received two years training at the Wesleyan Theological Institution in Hoxton in London. On the completion of his studies Tuckfield was selected to be a missionary to the Aboriginals of the Port Phillip District (later became the colony of Victoria, Australia).

On 13 October 1837, less than a month before his departure, Sarah Gilbart and Francis Tuckfield were married at St Erth. They were then both 29 years old.

Seppings 1838 arrival Hobart Tuckfield

SHIP NEWS (1838, March 20). The Austral-Asiatic Review, Tasmanian and Australian Advertiser (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1837 – 1844), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article232476273

In March 1838 after a long sea voyage Francis and Sarah Tuckfield landed in Hobart, Tasmania. In July the Tuckfields crossed Bass Strait to Melbourne on board the Adelaide. Sarah’s first child, a daughter, was born at Geelong on 12 August 1838.

Tuckfield made several exploratory trips about the Port Philip district looking for a suitable place to establish a mission station. (He is said to have employed William Buckley as a translator on these journeys. Buckley was an escaped convict who for a time had lived with Aboriginals. He had since been pardoned and given a job as a government interpreter.)

In 1839 he chose a site near Birregurra, 10 km east of Colac. Governor Gipps granted the mission 640 acres, a square mile.

The Birregurra experiment, however, was rapidly deemed a failure by the Victorian Government. In 1848 it was abandoned, and in 1850 the mission grazing licence was cancelled.


Geelong Advertiser 1848 07 01 pg 2

SATURDAY MORNING, JULY 1. (1848, July 1). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1847 – 1851), p. 2 (MORNING). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91457661


Francis Tuckfield was afterwards appointed to a succession of churches, first in Victoria and later in New South Wales. On 6 June 1854 Sarah died at the age of 45 in West Maitland, New South Wales. She and Francis had eight children.


Tuckfield Sarah death Maitalnd Mercury 1854 06 07 pg 3

Family Notices (1854, June 7). The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article690022


In 1857 Francis remarried, to Mary Stevens (1823-1886). Eight years later, in 1865, he died at Portland, Victoria.

Portraits of Francis and Sarah Tuckfield are held by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

With only the bare facts of her life to draw on, it is very difficult to form an impression of Sarah Tuckfield the person. A history of the Birregurra mission portrays her as a dutiful daughter, devout Methodist, and devoted and capable wife and mother:

Sarah shared not only her father’s love of music and deep Christian conviction, but also his generous strength of character. She was a practical girl, who made an excellent teacher in the Sunday School, and was thoroughly trained in the housewifely arts by her mother. She also took an interest in the sick and incapacitated people in St Earth, who loved her for her kind ways and skills in nursing.

Le Griffon, Heather and Orton, Joseph Campfires at the cross : an account of the Bunting Dale Aboriginal Mission 1839-1951 at Birregurra, near Colac, Victoria : with a biography of Francis Tuckfield. Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, Vic, 2006. page 18.

But this – no doubt well-meant – encomium gets us no further. ‘Love of music’ to a Methodist meant hymn-singing; ‘deep Christian conviction’ covers everything from humble faith to pharisaical self-righteousness; ‘generous strength of character’ sounds suspiciously like stubbornness; ‘thoroughly trained in the housewifely arts’ might mean a drudge; and her kind ways with the sick and infirm makes her look like the village Lady Bountiful.

Sarah’s marriage at the age of 29 to a penniless Methodist preacher and her willingness to endure the hardships of missionary life on the far side of the world seem rather noble and self-sacrificing, but these were the usages of the times. She was getting no younger, and her prospects, probably never great, were shrinking. Wives followed their husbands, and she perhaps found some satisfaction in being able to help with his missionary endeavours.

Sometimes, of course, images delineate character better than words. The National Portrait Gallery painting of Sarah Tuckfield conveys a certain measure of self-assurance and sense of purpose, especially when her image is viewed with that of her husband. The artist has drawn them with much the same mouth, giving her an air of steadfastness and strength of will; he looks feminine and ineffectual. He looks coyly at the viewer; she stares beyond, into the future.

We’re left wondering. Could it be that it was Sarah who turned the Cornish miner into the Methodist preacher, urged him to attend the Hoxton Institution, encouraged him to emigrate, and supported him in his mission?


Gabriel Crespigny and Thomas Caulfeild

My 8th great uncle was Gabriel Crespigny, a Huguenot refugee from Normandy.

Born in 1666, he was sent to England by his parents when he was just twelve years old, and had joined the army in 1686 at the age of twenty. In 1691 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the First Foot Guards – later the Grenadier Guards – with effective rank as a Captain. Serving in Flanders against the armies of King Louis XIV of France, he was wounded in 1695 during the successful assault on Namur in present-day Belgium.


A soldier of the 35th Foot in 1742; the basic style of uniform was little changed from the beginning of the century. Image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

In 1701 Gabriel transferred to be Captain in a newly formed regiment commanded by Arthur Chichester the Earl of Donegall. Raised at Belfast in Ireland and numbered as the 35th Foot, the regiment was a strongly Protestant unit and had authority from King William to bear orange facings on the uniform.

The Nine Years War against Louis XIV – essentially the War of the English Succession – had concluded with the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, but conflict broke out again with the War of the Spanish Succession in 1702, and the Earl of Donegall’s Regiment was designated for “sea service” – amphibious attacks on enemy ports and shore positions. Following an unsuccessful raid on Cadiz in August, it was engaged in the West Indies but returned to Spain in 1704. In 1705 the regiment joined the garrison of Gibraltar under Spanish attack, and later that year it was engaged in the capture of Barcelona. On the following 9 April the Earl of Donegall was killed in the defence of that city; his place was taken by Sir Richard Lord Gorges, another Irish Peer, and the name of the regiment was changed accordingly.

Having taken part in the capture of the port of Alicante later that year, the regiment was brought into the main British-Portuguese field army, but in 1707 the allies were heavily defeated by the French-Spanish coalition at the battle of Almansa; Gorges’ Regiment lost its colours and many of its officers and men were killed or captured. The remnants were brought back to Ireland, where the regiment was re-formed; Captain Crespigny had escaped the debacle and was one of the officers in the new arrangement.


La Batalla de Almansa, Museo del Prado. The Battle of Almansa, 25 April 1707, landscape by Filippo Pallotta, figures by Buonaventura Ligli 

Forerunner of the present-day Army Board, the Board of General Officers of the British Army was established at the beginning of the eighteenth century, gathering men of that rank to deal with matters of discipline, disputes, recruitment and the provision of supplies.

At its meeting of 9 February 1708, however, a letter written by Captain Gabriel Crespigny had been presented in which he complained to Colonel Phineas Bowles, commander of another regiment, that, after the colonel of Gabriel Crespigny’s regiment,  Colonel Lord Donegall, was killed at Barcelona on 10 April 1706, Thomas Caulfeild, Viscount Charlemont, had appropriated a quantity of Donegall’s goods and papers. It appears that this matter had come to the notice of Lord Peterborough, leader of the English and Dutch armies in Spain, and was the initial reason for Charlemont bring summonsed to discuss his position. The minutes of the meeting then record that

After which all Persons being ordered to withdraw, as they were passing out, Mr Caulfeild, Son to the Lord Charlemont, gave Capt Crepigny several blows over the Face and Head with a Cane. Whereupon Mr Caulfeild was sent Prisoner to the Guard, to be kept there until Her Ma[jes]tys or the Princes Pleasure should be known.
The Disorder being then over….

At its meeting on 5 May 1708 the Board took official notice of the quarrel between two officers, Captains Gabriel Crespigny and Thomas Caulfeild. Captain Caulfeild had insulted Captain Crespigny, and the matter was considered extremely serious: the Prince Consort George of Denmark, husband of Queen Anne, was advised that “to Repair so great an Injury and Affront to a Gentleman’s Honour,” Captain Caulfeild should be required

In the …Guard Chamber, during the [next] Sitting of the Board, on his knees, to ask pardon of Captain Crespigny, who is at the same time to have a Cane in his Hand, with Liberty to use it, as he please.

The background of Gabriel’s opponent was very different. Thomas Caulfeild was the second son of William, second Viscount Charlemont in the peerage of Ireland. A strong supporter of William of Orange against James II, in 1701 the Viscount was rewarded with command of a newly-formed regiment – later to be known as the 36th Foot. Like the Earl of Donegall’s Regiment, Viscount Charlemont’s was sent on sea service, and the two units took part in an attack on Cadiz and the campaign in the West Indies in 1702 and 1703.

Born in 1685, and thus twenty years younger than Gabriel Crespigny, at the age of sixteen Thomas Caulfeild had been commissioned as an Ensign in his father’s regiment at the time of its first formation in 1701. He took part in the attack on Cadiz, but received permission, with his father, not to join the enterprise in the West Indies. Rejoining the regiment on its return to Ireland in 1704, he accompanied it to Spain in 1705, where it took part in the siege and capture of Barcelona alongside the Earl of Donegall’s unit. When the city was attacked by a Franco-Spanish force in April 1706, Charlemont’s Regiment formed part of the relief force.

Viscount Charlemont had been made a Brigadier-General in 1704, but in May 1706 he was replaced as Colonel by Thomas Allnutt, and the name of the regiment was duly changed.

This gave cause for controversy. During an assault on Fort Montjuȉc at Barcelona, several men of Charlemont’s regiment had taken to flight, though he himself maintained the attack and did his utmost to bring them back to order. The fort was captured, and the Earl of Peterborough, commander of operations in eastern Spain, congratulated him on the success. Later, however, a document appeared, said to have come from Queen Anne herself, which ordered his dismissal, and Peterborough compelled him to relinquish his command. Charlemont subsequently appealed to the Board of General Officers, which found that he had properly carried out his duties and that the Earl of Peterborough had been deceived by a forgery and made a mistake – an elegant compromise. Charlemont was soon afterwards promoted Major-General, but the regiment remained under Allnutt’s command.

In the following year the two regiments – the 35th Foot commanded by Lord Gorges with Gabriel Crespigny serving as a Captain, and the 36th commanded by Thomas Allnutt with Thomas Caulfeild probably serving as a Captain – were part of the main field army which suffered defeat at Almansa on 25 April 1707. Like Gorges’ Regiment, Allnutt’s was all but destroyed, and Colonel Allnutt himself was wounded and taken prisoner. Released on exchange in September, he was commissioned to rebuild the regiment; enlistment, however, was no longer in Ireland but was based upon Cheshire.

Since their regiments were rebuilding separately, the 35th in Ireland and the 36th in England, one must assume that the quarrel between Thomas Caulfeild and Gabriel Crespigny had arisen while they were together on campaign in Spain. Though we have at this time no details, it was very likely related to some aspect of the defeat at Almansa, and the most obvious accusation which one officer could levy against another was that of cowardice.

One may wonder why the insult was not followed up by a duel between the two men: though duelling was formally outlawed, it was common at this time, particularly – as might be expected – among military men. Again, it is possible Caulfeild refused the challenge.

Caulfeild may have refused to regard Crespigny as a gentleman of appropriate rank: though both were commissioned officers, Caulfeild was of noble birth and Crespigny was foreign born and of uncertain heritage (Gabriel Crespigny and his brothers Pierre and Thomas had had their gentry lineage and pedigree certified by the College of Arms ten years earlier, but this may not have been enough for all whom they encountered in British society).

Alternatively, if Caulfeild was convinced his opponent was a coward, he may have refused to meet such a fellow on equal terms. Men of lower rank were unworthy of swords or pistols, and should be dealt with by the horsewhip or a cane.

In any event, the Board of General Officers found Thomas Caulfeild’s accusations and his conduct of the quarrel to have been quite unjustified – and the reference to his potential punishment with a cane makes one suspect the second explanation is most likely.

Prince George died in October 1708 and it seems that without his support the direction lapsed. Perhaps the humiliation of Caulfeild was held to be sufficient without Gabriel Crespigny actually using the cane. The minutes of the Board of 26 October 1708 record

Capt Crepigny [was] called in on his Petition for Satisfaction from Mr Caulfeild, and [was] told that Lt-Gen Seymour not being at the Board, who presided when the matter was first under Consideration, and had attended the Prince. Therefore the Pet[itioner] could not be then informed what Directions His Royal Highness had given therein.

Lieutenant-General William Seymour was Colonel of The Queen’s Regiment of Foot, now
part of the Royal Marines. He had presided at the Board Meeting of 5 May, but later joined his regiment in Spain; in September he and his men had taken part in the capture of the Mediterranean island of Minorca. Since there had been no written reply from the prince, nor any report of what he might have said, the matter was left to lie.

We may note that at this time Captain Crespigny was forty-two years old and had been on active service for more than twenty years. Captain Caulfeild was twenty-five; he had seen combat at Cadiz in 1702, followed by two years in Spain and the defeat at Almansa.

It does not appear that the two men had any further dealings, and their subsequent careers were very different.

Gabriel Crespigny returned to his duties with Gorges’ Regiment, but three years later he was wounded in a riot when engaged on recruitment at Wigan, north of Liverpool. With any system of regular conscription, recruitment – either voluntary or forced – was essential for any unit of the army, but it was often resented by the civilian population, and especially by friends of those who were tricked or compelled to join the colours. Gabriel was so seriously injured that he was obliged to leave the army, selling his commission to pay his debts, and was eventually granted a pension at half-pay. He died in Ireland in 1722.

For one reason or another, perhaps associated with the Crespigny affair, Thomas Caulfeild transferred his commission to the marines; since his original regiment had been involved in sea service, the change was not inappropriate. In 1710 his new unit, numbering four hundred men, was sent to America to militia regiments from the colonies of New England in an attack on the French base at Port-Royal in Nova Scotia. Having distinguished himself in the campaign, Thomas Caulfeild was named Lieutenant-Governor of the newly-acquired province of Nova Scotia, and had charge of the territory until his death there in 1717 at the age of thirty-two.


My Most Recent Unknown Ancestors

This week in his regular post ‘Saturday Night Genealogy Fun’ Randy Seaver asks “Who Is Your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor (MRUA)?”

The mission:
1) Who is your MRUA – your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.

2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don’t you scan it again just to see if there’s something you have missed?

3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?

The starting point for my ahnentafel list is my children, the list formed by combining my tree with that of my husband Greg.

I know all the names of our children’s 3rd great grandparents.

In the next generation, however, I don’t know the parents of George Young (c.1826-1890), Greg’s great great grandfather. George is number 32 on the index; I don’t know the names of his parents, numbers 64 and 65.

There’s no help from his death certificate; the informant does not name his parents. Other information about him is scanty. From his death certificate I know that he was born in Liverpool, and this corresponds with details that he provided on the birth certificates of his children, but I have not found his marriage certificate. The reason may be that he and his wife Caroline Clarke were married before compulsory civil registration was introduced in Victoria in 1855, or perhaps they never formally married. I have not found a shipping record for him, and I have no evidence that he had any near relations in Australia. Land records, and I have several that concern him, give no relevant information. George did not leave a will. Frustratingly, the name Young is too common to identify George from the many other births in Liverpool about the same time or from people with the same name listed on the United Kingdom 1841 census.

I feel my best hope in identifying George’s parents and finding out more about his life before he emigrated to Australia is through DNA. Several of Greg’s cousins descended from George have tested their DNA. I hope that DNA will lead me to one or more of the descendants of George Young’s siblings.  Their research might get me past the dead end I have come to with George himself.

Greg has a number of shared DNA matches (shown in green on the chart). I have not yet identified anybody descending from a brother or sister of George Young.

Young DNA tree

I do have some DNA matches from people with the surname Young who were born in Liverpool, descendants of Philip Young (1840-1910). I have not yet found the parents and grandparents of Philip to allow me to make the connection between our two trees, although we have several DNA matches. However, having an additional line to search, which appears to be connected by name, place and shared DNA, gives me a better chance of finding the family of George Young.

Sister Minnie Goldstein

Looking at some paintings by Nora Heysen recently, I was delighted to discover that one was of a relative of mine, my second cousin twice removed, Minnie Sutherland Goldstein (1908-1984). She was my grandfather’s second cousin, one of the children of Selwyn Goldstein (1873-1917) and Minnie Waters Goldstein née Sutherland (1883-1952).

Minnie’s father Selwyn was a mining engineer, manager of the Mount Cattlin Copper Mining Company near Ravensthorpe, a couple of hundred kilometres west of Esperance in Western Australia. Minnie was born there on 13 August 1908.

On 13 October, with Minnie only two months old, the family moved to England, sailing on the Runic from Albany to Plymouth.

In 1909 the Goldsteins moved to Mexico where for two years Selwyn managed a large mine. They were forced to return to England, however, by the upheavals and danger of the Mexican Revolution.

On 9 November 1915 Selwyn Goldstein enlisted in the 173rd Company of the Royal Engineers. On 8 June 1917, during the Battle of Messines, where he had a part in blowing up the ridge the day before, he died of a gunshot wound, self-inflicted.

In 1922, Minnie’s mother and her four children – Minnie was then 13 – returned to Australia, where they settled in Perth.

Goldstein Minnie Western Mail 1927 03 17 pg 4

THE DAUGHTER OF MRS. M W. GOLDSTEIN, OF WEST PERTH, MISS MINNIE GOLDSTEIN. from 17 March 1927. Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 4  Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38002701

Digitised newspapers and other records held by the National Library give us glimpses of Minnie’s life. In November 1922 Minnie wrote to the Children’s Page of the Perth Daily News. In 1923 Minnie played lawn tennis for her school, but she lost the game. She was at school at St Mary’s Church of England Grammar in year V and won a prize for divinity; her sister Isobel was in the same year and won prizes for divinity and languages. In 1926 she was at many events including a party, a dance at the rowing club, the Children’s Hospital Ball.

By December 1926 Minnie was training as a nurse at the Perth Hospital. The social whirl seems to have continued, and Miss Minnie Goldstein was often mentioned in the society columns.

In 1930 Minnie became engaged to Jack Round-Turner. The marriage did not go ahead.

Minnie Goldstein enlisted in the Australian Army on 28 August 1942. In 1944 she was painted by the war artist Nora Heysen in Alexishafen, Papua New Guinea while working in the blood bank of 111 Australian Casualty Clearing Station.

Goldstein Minnie by Norah Heysen 1944

Sister Minnie Sutherland Goldstein, WX32605, of the Australian Army Nursing Service working in the blood bank of 111 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Alexishafen, New Guinea. She is working on medical equipment relating to blood bank services such as blood transfusions. She was painted by Nora Heysen, official war artist in 1944. The painting is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial ART23921

Alexishafen map

Map showing Alexishafen, 23 kilometres north of Madang on the north coast of Papua New Guinea

AWM 3871745

South Alexishafen, New Guinea. 1944-08-08. Officers and members of the nursing service on the staff of the 111th Australian Casualty Clearing Station. Identified personnel include WFX32604 Sister M.S. Goldstein (8). From Australian War Memorial photograph 075085.

AWM 3987777

South Alexishafen, New Guinea. 1944-08-08. Walking patients find humour in another patients getting a blood transfusion at the 111th Casualty Clearing Station. Identified personnel include:- WFX32605 Sister M. Goldstein (1) Australian War Memorial photograph 075083

AWM 3871746

South Alexishafen, New Guinea. 1944-08-08. Sisters of the 111th Casualty Clearing Station enjoying a walk along the shores of the bay in the cool of the evening. Identified personnel include:- WFX32605 Sister M.S. GOLDSTEIN (7) Australian War memorial photograph 075087

AWM 3923873

South Alexishafen, New Guinea. 1944-08-08. Sisters of the 111th Casualty Clearing Station outside their quarters. Identified personnel include:- WFX32605 Sister M.S. GOLDSTEIN (7) Australian War Memorial photograph 075086


Sister Goldstein was discharged from the Australian Army on 17 February 1947 with the rank of Lieutenant. Her posting at discharge was 2/1 Australian General Hospital.

Minnie returned to work as a sister at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth.

In 1956 Minnie married Maxwell Percival Rose (1915-1973). Minnie died in Perth on 5 April 1984.

Related Posts


Progress on my tree

One way to measure how far you’ve got with your family history research is to count how many forebears you can name at each generation.

I know the names of all my great great grandparents and all my husband’s, Greg’s, great great grandparents.

A useful statistic is the number of forebears you can name in the previous ten generations. The possible maximum, including yourself, is 1,023 individuals. [Cousins sometimes marry, so there might be duplicates.]

On my side of the family I can name only 22%, 230 of the possible 1,023. On my husband’s side I know the names of only 13%, 138. If I look at our tree from our children’s perspective the figure is 31%, 319.

When I did these sums two years ago I could name only 25%, 253, of our children’s forebears back 10 generations. Since then I have documented the names of 66 more. There’s a lot left.

Family tree 2018-05-14

Chart generated by MacFamilyTree8. A larger version of this chart is available. Direct ancestors back to the tenth generation whose names I know are coloured; blanks represent those whose names are unknown to me. 

Generation Possible number Me Greg Children me % Greg %
1 1 1 1 1 100% 100% 100%
2 parents 2 2 2 2 100% 100% 100%
3 grand parents 4 4 4 4 100% 100% 100%
4 great grand parents 8 8 8 8 100% 100% 100%
5 great great grand parents 16 16 16 16 100% 100% 100%
6 3rd great grand parents 32 24 30 32 75% 94% 100%
7 4th great grand parents 64 35 32 54 55% 50% 84%
8 5th great grand parents 128 45 22 67 35% 17% 52%
9 6th great grand parents 256 49 19 67 19% 7% 26%
10 7th great grand parents 512 46 4 68 9% 1% 13%
Total 1023
Score to generation 10 230 138 319
as a % 22% 13% 31%

Some of my progress has been helped by DNA testing. I think DNA matching with cousins will be an important tool for finding my missing ancestors.

Several bloggers have reported on the completeness of their family tree as measured by this counting method. Among them are:

The wreck of the “Casino”

My third great aunt Helena Gill was drowned in a shipwreck in 1932.

Helena Lucy Gill née Hughes (1866-1932 ), seventh of the eight children of my 3rd great grandparents Samuel Hughes (1827-1896) and Sally Hughes née Plaisted (1826-1900), was the younger sister, by twelve years, of my great great grandfather Edward Walter Hughes (1854-1922).

Recently I came across a transcription of her headstone (in the Ancestry.com series ‘Victoria, Australia, Cemetery Records and Headstone Transcriptions, 1844-1997’), which reads:

Name Helena Lucy Gill
Death Date 10 Jul 1932
Burial Place Victoria, Australia
Cemetery Melbourne
Section B
Religion Baptist
Transcription In loving memory of dear mother Helena Lucy GILL died heroically helping others in shipwreck of “Casino” at Apollo Bay, 10 Jul 1932, age 65 Duty nobly done.

Helena married Luther Albert Gill in 1892. They had two children:

  • Gwendoline Ruby Phyllis Gill (1893-1977) who married Henry Vincent Budge in 1910
  • Vera Ila Gill (1903-1986), known as Ila, who married Charles Dudley Care in 1926.

In 1909 Helena, then living in Maribyrnong Road, Moonee ponds, sued her husband in the Prahran Court for maintenance. His address was Chapel Street, Windsor. The court found in her favour.

From 1914 Helena appears on the electoral rolls as ‘stewardess’ with her address ‘SS Casino, Prince’s Wharf, S.M.’ On the 1913 roll her address was 68 Maribyrnong Road, Moonee Ponds, and her occupation home duties. It seems that when her daughter Ila turned 11, Helena went to work as a stewardess.


The Belfast & Koroit S.N. Co’s S.S. “Casino” . Image from the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H92.302/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/195620

The SS Casino, 160 feet, was an rivetted-iron coastal steamer, based in Port Fairy on the south-west coast of Victoria, owned by the Belfast and Koroit Steam Navigation Company (Belfast was the early name for Port Fairy).  The company was formed in March 1882 and took delivery of the Casino the same year.

The ship, built in Dundee, Scotland and launched in February 1882, was intended to service the north coast of New South Wales and was named for the town of Casino, New South Wales. The owners of the new company successfully bid for her when she was travelling through Warrnambool, Victoria, and the Casino arrived in Port Fairy on 29 July 1882.

She carried cargo and 25 passengers between Melbourne and Portland, stopping at Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy, over the next five decades making around 2,500 voyages.

South west coast Victoria

South-west coast of Victoria from Google maps

Casino saloon

The saloon of the SS Casino with “swivel chairs that were bolted to the floor to allow passengers more comfort when the ship was moving through rough seas”. Image from the Port Fairy Historical Society retrieved from https://victoriancollections.net.au/items/5555779e998fc21654210769

Early on the morning of 10 July 1932 the SS Casino sank in Apollo Bay while trying to secure a mooring. There was a south-easterly gale and a heavy swell. Coming alongside the jetty the Casino grounded on its anchor, fatally piercing the hull. The captain first tried to get an offing, but realising the vessel was sinking, turned to beach her. A few cables from the shore she was overwhelmed and sank in three or four fathoms.  Captain Middleton and nine other members of the crew were drowned, Helena one of them.

S Casino wrecked

S. CASINO WRECKED (1932, July 11). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article203804052

Melbourne Herald 1932 07 11 page 1

(1932, July 11). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page26392479

Gill Helena Melbourne Herald 1932 07 11 page 1

Drowned Stewardess (1932, July 11). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article242973343

Helena’s body, with the bodies of four other crew, was recovered. She was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery.

Gill Helena burial Herald 1932 07 13 pg 6

STEWARDESS OF CASINO BURIED (1932, July 13). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article242978243

The wreck of the Casino, now a scuba diving site, lies in nine metres of water 400 metres from the shore. Her propeller and bell are part a memorial to the ship at King George Square in Port Fairy. The ship’s wheel is displayed in the Apollo Bay Hotel.


The name “Franklin Gill” is transcribed with the dedication on Helena Gill’s gravestone. I do not know who he was or how he was related to Helena. I have since visited her grave at Melbourne Cemetery and there is no mention of Franklin Gill – apparently a transcription error. I have amended my copy of the transcription above.

Gill Lucy headstone 20180606_134536

Headstone on the grave of Helena Lucy Gill at Melbourne General Cemetery Baptist section B grave 731.