S is for Suky

One of my fifth great grandmothers was Susannah Lamothe née Corrin (1741-1803).

Susannah was the daughter of Henry Corrin (1713-1769) and Susanna Corrin née Quay (1713-1784). In 1763 she married Dominique Lamothe (1731-1807), a former French prisoner-of-war.

Lamothe Corrin wedding 1763

The marriage record of Dominique Lamothe and Susannah Corrin at St George’s Liverpool on 6 April 1763 retrieved from Liverpool, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1659-1812 Reference Number: 283 GEO/3/1 through ancestry.com

Lamothe had been a surgeon on the St Lawrence, a privateer  brig, which was captured by the English and brought to Douglas, the Isle of Man, on 31 October 1760. England and France were at war, in what was later known as the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). After their capture the officers and men of the St Lawrence were held in Castle Rushen as prisoners of war.

Two weeks after their capture the French officers of the privateer St Lawrence applied to the Governor of the Island for their liberty, and joined themselves in a bond to Messrs. Ross, Black, and Christian, of Douglas, merchants.  They were freed from gaol on parole.

In January 1761 the Lords of the Admiralty sent a British ship to take the prisoners of war off the island. All prisoners were delivered up except for Lamothe and Lieutenant Lessenne, who were exploring the island. Lessenne turned up on the evening of the next day, Lamothe later that night, but the tender for the boat had gone so Lamothe was placed back in Castle Rushen. Because of adverse winds the ship had been unable to wait. It seems that Lamothe was again freed from Castle Rushen, though there is no detail as to how this came about. There is a family story that Lamothe “attended the Governor’s wife as her medical man, and acted with great skill, and was thereupon released.”

In a letter of 30 September 1763 to Basil Cochrane, Governor of the Isle of Man 1751-1762, John Quayle ( Clerk of the Rolls for the Isle of Man and the Duke of Atholl’s Seneschal), reported on some local Manx happenings  :

the French Doctor was no sooner released from being a prisoner of war than he became captive to Suky Corrin (the daughter of his landlord, Hall Corrin). He went to France for his prize money, bought a cargo of Brandy to Dublin & this day returned to his spouse.

Dominique Lamothe and Susanna had eleven children. They lived in Castletown, Isle of Man, where he practiced medicine for 47 years.

Susanna died on 9 November 1803, aged 62. Dominique on died 8 January 1807 aged 74. They are buried at Castletown.

Their youngest daughter Rose Therese Lamothe (1784-1818) married William Snell Brown later Chauncy. She had three children:

  • Theresa Susanna Snell Chauncy 1807-1876
  • Martha  Maria Snell Chauncy 1813-1899
  • Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy 1816-1880 my 3rd great grandfather.

Rose died shortly before her son’s second birthday. In his memoirs, Philip Chauncy wrote  “Having always resided at a distance from the Isle of Man, I have never known much of my Mother’s relations.” He knew his grandfather had been a prisoner of war and had been in correspondence with his cousin John Corlet LaMothe who had compiled the history of Dominique and Susanna from the records in the Rolls office of the Isle of Man.


R is for Rosina

One of my husband’s maternal great aunts was Rosina Doidge née Sullivan formerly Saunders (1889-1969).

She was the second child of Henry Sullivan (1863-1943) and Anne Sullivan née Morley (1861-1946). (Anne had two children before her marriage to Henry.)

Rosina was born at “Navillus”, the family home in Evelyn Street, East Bentleigh, Victoria.

In 1910 she married John Henry Saunders (1891-1948). They had four children.

John Saunders worked as a linesman, installing and maintaining electrical power, telephone, and telegraph lines. On Christmas Eve 1948 he was killed when he fell through the roof of the North Melbourne Locomotive Depot.

Alfred Doidge (1890-1964), one of John’s work-mates on the railways, went to Saunders’s house to pay his condolences  to the widow. To his surprise he discovered that his mate’s wife Rosina was a girl he had “kept company with” for four years from 1905.

It hadn’t worked out, because Alfred and Rosina had quarreled.

One Saturday evening in 1909, Rosina dyed a white dress black, and spoilt it. ‘Look what’s she done,’ Rosina’s mother said to Alfred. ‘What a shame,’ said Alfred. ‘You didn’t have to pay for the dress,’ said Rosina. There was quite a row, and Alfred and Rosina stopped keeping company …
Alfred  married a different girl and had three children, but his wife, Helen, died in 1930 and he had been a widower for 18 years.

Widower and widow, both of them now 60,  the former sweethearts Alfred and Rosina married on 8 June 1949. Their wedding and the story behind it was reported in newspapers around Australia.

Doidge wedding 1949

Rosina Saunders marrying Alfred Doidge 8 June 1949 at St Silas Church, Albert Park, Victoria


Tiff Over Dress (1949, June 6). Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1950), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95732387

The graves of my husband’s family are quite often just bare earth. Rosina, however, erected a substantial gravestone at her parents’ grave in Cheltenham cemetery.

Sullivan headstone Cheltenham

The headstone on the grave of Rosina’s parents at Cheltenham cemetery

Related post

I am grateful to our cousin Mark Schmidt for the photo of Rosina and Alfred on their wedding day

Q is for Queenie

My great great aunt Alice Magee née Mainwaring formerly Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1879-1952) was known as Queenie.

Alice was the ninth of ten children of Wentworth Cavenagh (1822-1895) and his wife Ellen Jane Cavenagh née Mainwaring (1845-1920).

The family lived in Adelaide, South Australia, two miles from the city centre in the suburb of Marryatville. Wentworth Cavenagh was a member of the South Australian Parliament, elected in 1862 to represent Yatalapart of the Adelaide metropolitan area north of the River Torrens. He served as Commissioner for Crown Lands and Immigration from 1868 to 1870 and Commissioner of Public Works from 1872 to 1873.

In 1887 Alice and some of her sisters attended a children’s fancy dress ball. A photographer took pictures of many of the children in their costumes. Alice, aged 8, was dressed as “Wee Wifie”. (Wee Wifie was a novel for children by Rosa Nouchette Carey first published in 1869.)

Queenie Wee Wifie B-7723-72

Queenie Cavenagh : age 8 dressed as ‘Wee Wifie’. Part of Children’s Fancy Dress Ball, 1887 Collection. Image from the State Library of South Australia B 7723/72


In 1892 the family surname was changed, and the name and arms of Mainwaring was assumed in addition to Cavenagh in acknowledgement of Ellen’s inheritance of the family property of  Whitmore in Staffordshire. In 1892 when Alice was 13 the family left Australia for England. Whitmore was leased and the family settled at Southsea near Portsmouth in the south of England.

A cousin has told me that Queenie and Gertrude, known as Kiddie, the two youngest children were sent to school in France, possibly because it was cheaper than England.



My grandmother wrote on the back of the photograph that it was taken in 1908 and the names: Back row, left to right: Queenie Magee; Kate Cudmore; Nellie Millet Middle row, L to R: Eva Gedge; May Gillett Front centre: Kiddie Bennett


In 1911 Alice and Gertrude, neither of whom had yet married, were living with their mother in Southsea.

Alice married William Edward Blackwood (Bill) Magee (1886-1981) on 14 August 1913 at St Simons, Southsea.

In December 1910, W.E.B. Magee gave his future mother-in-law a book of the first two operas of the Ring Cycle.

In 1917 and again in 1918, as Lieutenant Commander, William Magee was mentioned in dispatches as part of the honours for the Destroyers of the Harwich Force. In 1920, for services in the Baltic in 1919, Lieut.-Cdr. William Edward Blackwood Magee, R.N. was made Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, for distinguished services in command of H.M.S. Watchman.  William Edward Blackwood Magee became a Captain in 1929.

Alice and Bill had two children, Richard (1915-1937) and Jean, known as Moll (1917-1996).

Between the wars Alice and Bill lived in Dinan, France.  Dinan, a spa town in Brittany, had a thriving colony of English expatriates. Alice and Bill’s daughter Moll wrote a book about their time there.

On 20 January 1937, Richard Magee, a sub-lieutenant on HMS Anthony, was
lost overboard and drowned in the Gulf of Lion. He was only 21.

In 1939, at the outbreak of World War 2, the National Register, a census, was compiled in the United Kingdom. At the time of the 1939 register, Bill, by then a retired Naval officer was in Hastings, Moll was a volunteer and living with her aunt May Gillett and May’s children in Dorset (Mabel known as May 1868-1944 had married Francis Gillett but had been widowed in 1938.)

Alice is not on the 1939 register, presumably because she was still in France in 1939.

During World War 2 Bill went back into the navy.

Robert Capa, the war photographer was on board the Magee’s ship when he was in command of a convoy crossing the Atlantic. Magee was the commodore in charge of the convoy.

Magee from Gay Scan-10

W.E.B. Magee photographed by Robert Capa. Magazine of 13 June 1942 annotated “Mrs Magee”.

Commodore Magee DSO, RNR first greeted me with “Now, don’t expect any scoops for your blasted photography on this trip! Our job is not to fight but to run and dodge. We’d rather have a hundred freighters safe in port than a hundred Victoria Crosses any day”.

Capa continues Commodore Magee retired in 1933 and in August 1939 he was figuring on redecorating the little house in Dinan where he had lived for eight years and meant to settle there indefinitely. Bill asked how it felt to be back at sea said – “After eight year’s retirement, the first time I was on the bridge I felt just like Toscanini would feel if, after eight year’s rest, he returned to the concert platform – looking around, discovered an orchestra responding as well as any he had conducted before”

In 1945 Captain (Commodore second class, R.N.R.) William Edward Blackwood Magee, D.S.O., R.N. (Ret.), was appointed Commander of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire for Distinguished Service in the War in Europe.

On 6 April 1952 Alice, of Rosecroft, Titchfield, Hampshire, died aged 76. She outlived seven of her siblings.

On 3 April 1981 Captain William Edward Blackwood Magee, CBE, DSO, RN, retired, died at Fordingbridge, Hampshire. He was 94.

Related posts


  • Name change from Cavenagh to Cavenagh-Mainwaring London Gazette March 4 1892 page 1274
  • 1911 census retrieved through ancestry.com Class: RG14; Piece: 5551; Schedule Number: 147
  • William Magee’s career:
    • London Gazette 22 June 1917 and Edinburgh Gazette 25 February 1919
    • Edinburgh Gazette 10 March 1920
    • London Gazette 7 December 1945
    • 1939 Navy List
  • Death of Richard Magee: “Deaths.” Times [London, England] 27 Jan. 1937: 1. The Times Digital Archive.
  • 1939 register retrieved through FindMyPast
    • William E B Magee 09 Jul 1886 Male Capt Royal Navy Retired Married schedule 93 sub schedule 16 address 28, 30, 31 Eversfield Place , Hastings C.B., Sussex, England
    • Jean M Magee [Moll] 26 May 1917 Female Volunteer W 2061340 Dorset C St A Single 114 4 address Conygar , Dorchester R.D., Dorset, England. At the same house were Mabel A Gillett [nee Cavenagh-Mainwaring] Anne M Barrett [nee Gillett] and Michael C Gillett.
  • Death of Bill Magee: Brief obituaries Times, 11 Apr. 1981, p. 14. The Times Digital Archive, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6MW6n6.
  • I am grateful to my cousin Gay Doggart for the images of the photo album of Queenie Cavenagh-Mainwaring and some pictures of Queenie from within. Also for the image of Commodore Magee on the cover of the Illustrated magazine.

Further Information



P is for Penelope

Last year I wrote about how the children of my sixth great grandparents Constantine Phipps (1746-1797 and Elizabeth Phipps nee Tierney (1749-1832) were stranded in France during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.

Constantine and Elizabeth Phipps had fourteen children:

  • Mary Ann Phipps 1772–1779
  • Frances Phipps 1773–
  • Elizabeth Phipps 1774–1836
  • Penelope Phipps 1775–1814
  • Constantine Phipps 1776–1794
  • James Phipps 1777–1795
  • Pownoll Phipps 1780–1858
  • Lucy Elton Phipps 1781–
  • Anna Maria Phipps 1782–
  • Weston Phipps 1785–
  • Maria Jane Phipps 1786–1822
  • John Lyon Phipps 1788–1819
  • Charlotte Phipps 1790–
  • Elvira Phipps 1791–1875

My sixth great aunt Penelope Phipps (1775-1814) was the oldest of the eight children left behind. She was 17 1/2 when her parents travelled away from their home at Caen, France temporarily. The next oldest child was Pownoll aged 12. The Phipps parents took with them their two oldest living daughters Frances and Elizabeth, who was about to be married, their second son James, and one small daughter, either Lucy or Anna. Penelope’s brother Constantine had obtained a post with the Honourable East India Company and had left for Madras.

So from November 1792 Penelope needed to care for:

  1. Pownoll Phipps aged 12
  2. Lucy Elton aged 11 or Anna Maria aged 10 (not sure which accompanied her parents to England)
  3. Weston aged 7
  4. Maria Jane aged 6
  5. John Lyon aged 4
  6. Charlotte aged 2
  7. Elvira Jane aged 1

Nine emigrés are executed by guillotine, 1793

The children were watched over by family friends, in particular two bankers surnamed de la Fosse who loaned money. In June 1793 private property in France – including Caen, of course – began to be seized by Commissioners of the Convention. The house leased by the Phipps was threatened. The children were to be evicted and imprisoned. People in the town protested on their behalf and the children were allowed to remain under confinement with a sentry to guard the house and the stables given over to the military. Through this the Phipps children luckily gained some shelter from the violence of the Terror.


It was only in May 1795 that the children were allowed out of the grounds of their house. Pownoll had previously been granted some freedom and had helped to gather food as well as exploring Caen at the time.

The children knew neighbours who were arrested and executed by the guillotine, including the de Beaurepaire family. Pownoll later married their adopted daughter, Henriette de Beaurepaire, who survived although she was arrested and imprisoned in Paris.

About the same time as Pownoll became engaged to Henriette de Beaurepaire, Penelope became engaged to James Chatry de la Fosse, nephew of the bankers who supported the Phipps family.

In 1797 five of the younger children were affected by smallpox and Penelope nursed them through it.

In 1798 the Phipps family were set at liberty and the children returned to England. Their father had died while they had been in France.

Their mother, Eliza Phipps, disapproved of the engagements of Penelope and Pownoll. James Chatry de la Fosse and Henriette de Beaurepaire were Roman Catholics and French and the English generally disapproved of  such marriages.

Pownoll was found a cadetship in the Bengal army and sent abroad.

In 1799 Henriette de Beaurepaire followed Pownoll to England. Some members of the Phipps family, seeking to prevent the marriage of Pownoll and Henriette, arranged to have Henriette arrested as a spy. Penelope found out about the plot and came to the rescue of Henriette.

In 1802 Penelope travelled to Calcutta with Henriette and met her brother Pownoll there. Permission to travel to India and avoiding her family finding out required an elaborate plan. Instead of waiting for her fiancee Jacques to come to England, Penelope chose to help her brother and Henriette. She wrote to Jacques breaking off her engagement.

Pownoll married Henriette on 10 August 1802 in Calcutta.

In October 1806 Penelope, aged 31,  married Daniel Johnson (1765-1835) at Allahabad. Daniel was from Great Torrington, Devon and was a surgeon with the Honourable East India Company 1805-1809. Daniel was later the author of “Sketches Field Sports as followed by the Natives of India” (1822) .

Penelope’s nephew, Reverend Pownoll William Phipps (1835-1903) said in his book (page 79) that she was never happy after her marriage and died broken-hearted.

In February 1814 Penelope died aged 38. She was buried at Great Torrington, Devon on 27 February 1814. There appear to have been no children although Daniel had a daughter Jane born about 1799.


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O is for Orfeur

Although “Orfeur” is an unusual forename, I have seven in my family tree, honouring my fifth great grandfather Captain John Orfeur (1695-1753)

1 Captain Orfeur, father of Catherine, Mrs Matthew Cavenagh

John Orfeur was a Captain in General Phinias Bowles’ regiment of horse, later known as  “the Carabiniers” or 6th Dragoon Guards.  His career is summarised by Charles Dalton in George The First’s Army 1714~1727 — Volume 2. Page 362

Son of Philip Orfeur and Mary, dau. of Col. Richard Kirkby, of Kirkby Ireleth, Lancashire, was gazetted lst Lieut, to his uncle (i.e. Maj.-Gen. John Orfeur) 10 Jan. 1708/9, in Visct. Shannon’s Regt. of Marines. In 1724 he joined Lord Shannon’s Regt. of Horse, the 3rd Dragoon Guards, on the Irish Establishment, now the 6th Dragoon Guards or Carabiniers. Retd. as Capt.-Lieut. in 1745. Settled in Ireland, where he d. in 1753. He married Juliana, dau. of Col. Thomas Palliser, of Portobello, co. Wexford.”—(Communicated by Col. W. O. Cavenagh.)

Captain John Orfeur was the father of Catherine Hyde Orfeur (1738-1814) who married Matthew Cavenagh (1740-1819) in about 1769.

Catherine and Matthew Cavenagh had fifteen children. Their fourth child was named Mary Orfeur Cavenagh (1779-1823). Their tenth child was Orfeur John Howard Cavenagh who died sometime before his father’s death in 1819.

James Gordon Cavenagh (1770-1844), the oldest child of Matthew and Catherine, had seven children. His fourth child was named Orfeur Cavenagh (1820-1891).

Orfeur Cavenagh had two sons, the elder was named Orfeur James Cavenagh (1849-1931). He in turn had a son named Orfeur.

My great great grandfather Wentworth Cavenagh-Mainwaring named one of his sons Orfeur. I have a second cousin once removed with the middle name Orfeur.

Orfeur diagram

Family tree showing those with the name Orfeur

Gen Sir Orfeur Cavenagh

General Sir Orfeur Cavenagh

Sir Orfeur Cavenagh gives his own account of his career in a letter of 1868 included in his private letter book number 11:

Statement Of Major General Cavenagh’s Service

Passed the examination at Addiscombe on the 12th June 1837 and early in 1838 joined the 32nd Regt. N.I. In 1840 passed the prescribed examination at the College of Fort William. Appointed as Interpreter and Quartermaster to the 41st Regt. N.I. Attached to the Force employed in watching the Nepaul frontier 1840/41.

In 1842 appointed as Adjutant to the 2nd Regt. Irregular Cavalry employed against the insurgents in the Saugor and Nerbuddah Territories. Susequently transferred to the 4th Regt. Irregular Cavalry.

In 1843 engaged at the Battle of Maharajpore. Left leg carried away by a round shot, and otherwise severely injured by his charger, which was killed, falling on him.

For upwards of a year compelled to use crutches. Continued however to perform all his duties even those of parade, being placed upon his horse and taken off again by his orderlies. During this period compiled the Abstract of General Orders, for a long while the standing book of reference for the Army, the profits of the compilation made over to the Lawrence Asylum. Appointed 2nd in command of the 4th Regt. Irregular Cavalry, and, for a short time officiated as Pension Paymaster at Meerut.

In 1845-46 employed with the Army of the Sutledge, and, at the relief of Loodianah by the Division under Sir Harry Smith again severely wounded losing the partial use of his left arm. Whilst still on the Sick List and unable to sit on his horse without being held, at the particular request of the late Sir Hugh Wheeler, took charge of the whole of the native sick and wounded, many of whom were in great distress, owing to the want of proper food and clothing. Drew and issued the requisite advances, visited the hospitals and personally conducted the accounts of several hundred of men of various corps.

Appointed Superintendent of the Mysore Princes and subsequently of the Ex-Ameers of Scinde [Sindh] and Seikh Sirdars, as well as of the Ex-Governor of Kerman, the Persian nobleman, Agha Khan Mehlatee.

In 1850 selected for the political charge of the Nepaulese Embassy. On his return from England accompanied it to Kathmandoo, and afterwards prepared a report on the State of Nepal. Received the thanks of the late Court of Directors and of the Supreme Government.

For many years a Director of the military and Orphans Funds. Compiled and edited the Bengal Army List, containing the services and dates of commissions of every officer — the profits of this work made over to the Orphan Society.

In 1854, at the special request of the then Governor General Lord Dalhousie, accepted the appointment on his staff of Town Major of Fort William [the fort in Calcutta]. In this capacity as the Governor General’s representative, recommended the numerous alterations in the European Barracks and other buildings as well as general sanitary improvements, which have led to the ordinarily satisfactory state of health of the Garrison.

On the 26th January, 1857, frustrated the design of the Mutineers to seize Fort William (vide statement of Jemadar Durrion Sing, 34th Regiment, N.I.).

Throughout the Mutiny discharged all the arduous duties connected with the command of Fort William and Calcutta, including the charge of the state prisoners, the raising a Corps of Volunteers, the organisation of a body of Native Servants for the use of the troops arriving from England, the management of a large Military Canteen, the protection of the town, the control of all Public Departments, Military Buildings, Hospitals, etc., and the entire charge (arming, clothing and victualling) of all European invalids and recruits, numbering several thousands, of the company’s service. On four occasions received the thanks and commendation of the Supreme Government.

At the close of the mutiny, appointed Governor of the Straits Settlements. In addition to the ordinary duties connected with the Government, specified in the report forwarded to the India Office, obtained from the Sultan of Acheen an apology for the insult offered to the Governor General’s Envoy, Major Haughton; prepared a special report upon the resources of the State of Sarawak and carried out the secret instructions for preventing the exportation of arms and ammunition to Japan and the North of China. For the efficient performance of these duties received the thanks of the Secretary of State and the Governor General of India.

Received through the Secretary of State, the thanks on two occasions of the Emperor of France for assistance rendered to French vessels, and also the thanks of the Secretary of State for the Colonies for the valuable aid afforded in effecting the transfer of the Straits Settlement.

An account of the Indian Mutiny by Colonel G.B. Malleson described the part played by Orfeur Cavenagh in 1856 and 1857 in frustrating the mutineers efforts to seize the fort:

Major Orfeur Cavenagh, an officer of great shrewdness and perspicacity, who filled the important office of Town-Major of Fort William in Calcutta, visited, October and November 1856, the districts just beyond Agra. He had been struck everywhere by the altered demeanour of the sipáhís [sepoys], and loyal natives had reported to him the great change which had taken place in the feelings of the natives generally towards the English. Disaffection, he was assured, was now the rule in all classes. To the clear vision of this able officer it was evident that, unless precautions were taken, some great disaster would ensue.” … “one of the sergeants attached to Fort William reported to Cavenagh a remarkable conversation, between two sipáhís, which he had overheard …

Cavenagh, who, as Town-Major, was responsible to the Governor-General for the safety of Fort William, took at once measures to baffle the designs of which he had been informed, and then drove straight to Lord Canning to report the circumstance to him. Lord Canning listened to Cavenagh with the deepest interest, and sanctioned the measures he proposed. These were to transfer from Dam-Dam, where one wing of the regiment which was responsible for the safety of the Presidency, the 53rd Foot, was located, one company to Fort William. For the moment the outbreak was deferred.

In recognition of his services during the Indian Mutiny Orfeur Cavenagh was offered the post of Governor of the Straits Settlements (Singapore, Malaya and Penang): he governed there from 1859 to 1867. Cavenagh Bridge in Singapore is named in his honour.

In 1881 Orfeur Cavenagh was appointed KCSI, Knight-Commander of the Order of the Star of India.

On 3 July 1891 Sir Orfeur Cavenagh died in Surrey, England, aged 70.

General Sir Orfeur Cavenagh

Sir Orfeur Cavenagh


N is for Nellie

One of my first cousins four times removed was Eleanor Mary (Nellie) Niall (1858-1891). She was the first cousin of my great great grandfather James Francis Cudmore (1837-1912).

Her father was James Niall (1823-1877), son of Daniel James Nihill (1761-1846) and Dymphna Nihill nee Gardiner (1790-1866). The Nihill family emigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1835, settling first in Tasmania, then moving to South Australia.

James Niall was an auctioneer and pastoralist. In 1857 he married Eleanor Mansfield (1833-1883) at Trinity Church, Adelaide.


They had eight children:

  • Eleanor Mary Niall 1858–1891
  • James Mansfield Niall 1860–1941
  • George Franklin Niall 1862–1875
  • Alice Louisa Niall 1863–1876
  • Charles Arthur Niall 1864–1888
  • Robert Gardiner Niall 1870–1932
  • Dymphna Niall 1871–1871
  • Margaret Rebekah Niall 1872–1875

Eleanor Mary, known as Nellie, was the oldest.

Her brother James Mansfield Niall (1860-1941), who became a successful pastoralist, was the only child who married and had children.

In 1875, at the age of 13, George died from what was described as “anaemia“. His illness and death were noted by his aunt Rebekah Nihill (1817-1901) in her diary:

2 Jul 1875 : George Niall very ill of swelling in the glands of his throat.

28 Aug 1875 : Rec’d a letter from Nelly Niall telling us dear George Niall died last Tuesday the 24th inst, whilst taking a drink of water. We feel his loss much as he was a very intelligent boy and extremely clever and cheerful.

4 Sep 1875  :  Our brother James and his wife came. They both looked sadly cut up after the loss of their dear children, particularly their dear boy George.

Alice died in 1876 aged 13 of tubercular phthisis, also known as tuberculosis.

Charles died in Sydney as a young man aged only 24. I am not sure what caused his early death.

Robert went on to the land as a grazier and station manager in Queensland. He died in Sydney, unmarried.

Dymphna died aged 5 months of convulsions. According to the diary of her aunt Rebekah Nihill, Margaret Rebekah, known as Rebekah, died when she was 3 of scarletina and diphtheria.

In 1877 Nellie’s father James died at the age of 54. Nellie’s mother died in 1883 aged 45 years.

On 13 November 1891 Eleanor Mary (Nellie) Niall died of typhoid. She was 33. (Typhoid is a bacterial disease, spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated by the faeces or urine of patients and carriers.)

Niall Nellie death

Family Notices (1891, November 14). South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1895), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91566625


The authorities kept a close watch on infectious diseases. There was no major outbreak of typhoid at the time, but Eleanor’s death was noted by the South Australian Board of Health, as was one other death from typhoid in the same week.


BOARDS OF HEALTH. (1891, November 20). Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912), p. 3 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198423918 (Click to enlarge)


Eleanor was buried on 14 November at the cemetery beside St George’s Anglican Church, Magill, a suburb of Adelaide  close to where she had lived.

Niall Nellie funeral

Advertising (1891, November 13). The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 – 1922), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article208577463

NIALL, James & Dymphna & Margaret Rebekah & George & Alice & Eleanor & Eleanor Mary

The gravestone of Nellie, her parents and some of her siblings at Magill St George cemetery. The photograph is courtesy of “Gravesecrets at your Fingertips!” and reproduced with permission.


I am sorry to say that I have not been able to find out more about Nellie and her siblings. She is not mentioned in any digitised newspaper reports that I have seen. I have not found any photograph of her or mention in any family papers I have access to. I know almost nothing about her.


I am grateful to my cousin Robert Niall for sharing his information about the causes of death of Nellie’s siblings and providing extracts from the diaries of Margaret and Rebekah Nihill, the sisters of James Niall, Nellie’s father.

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M is for Mary

My husband Greg’s great aunt was Mary Ann Nichols, formerly Lack nee Whiteman (1884-1945). She was the daughter of Robert Henry Whiteman (1839-1884) and Sarah Jane Young formerly Whiteman nee Way (1863-1898).

When I first started researching our family history Greg and I looked through a postcard collection that his father Peter Young (1920-1988) was given by Greg’s grandfather Cecil Young (1898-1975). At first we didn’t know who the people mentioned on the cards were. Nor did we recognise the place names. When we saw ‘Timor’ on one of the cards we thought it was a reference to the island of Timor to the north of Australia, not – what it was – a gold mining town in central Victoria!

The notes from our research 25 years ago show some of the things we learned from  reading the cards carefully and looking carefully at the postmarks and addresses.

Conclusions from the transcribed postcard collection. This collection was passed from Cecil to his son Peter. The postcards were mainly addressed to Cecil’s brother Jack. From at least July 1906 to after 1911, Jack and Cecil lived with a Mrs GE Wilkens in Lower Homebush. Bob Whiteman (Jack and Cecil’s half brother) referred to them as Aunty and Uncle. He also referred to Lora (a daughter?). Mr George E Wilkens is a teacher at Lower Homebush school from at least 1899 to at least 1916 according to Wise’s Victorian Post Office Directory. In ‘Avoca the Early Years’ a George Wilkens is mentioned playing the cornet. Cecil and Jack’s father, John Young, was not living with his sons. In 1907 he was in Barringhup, Victoria. In 1909 he was at Burnt Creek or Middlebridge. After 1911 Jack and Cecil moved to Clunes. At one stage they are with or near Aunt Harriet and her children. At another stage Jack lived in Service Street Clunes. According to another post card Cecil lived with a Mr Thomas, Fraser Street, Clunes. Bob Whiteman (Jack and Cecil’s half brother) was living at Moriarty in Tasmania at least between 1906 and 1911. Jack and Cecil’s half sister, Mary, lived at Homebush in 1909.

We have since learned much more. We now know that Mrs G.E. Wilkins was Charlotte Wilkins nee Young (1861-1925), who was married to George Wilkins (1857-1944), a schoolteacher at Homebush, Victoria, not far from Avoca. Charlotte was the sister of John Young (1856-1928), father of Cecil and Jack. She was the twin sister of Harriet Richards nee Young (1861-1926) who lived at Clunes.

Mary Ann Whiteman was born 19 August 1884 at Parkes, New South Wales, the second child of Sarah Jane and Robert Henry Whiteman, a miner. Robert Henry Whiteman had died of pneumonia in February 1884, six months before Mary was born. Mary had an older brother, Robert Henry (Bob) 1883-1957).

In September 1894 Sarah Jane married John Young, a gold miner, in Melbourne, Victoria. Mary was then aged ten and her brother Bob aged 11. Sarah Jane had earlier given birth out of wedlock to another child (Leslie Leister) in 1894, but left him in Parkes to be brought up by her mother and sister. It seems that Bob and Mary came to Victoria to live with John Young and Sarah Jane.

John Young and Sarah Jane had three children together:

  • Caroline 1895-1895 born and died at Timor aged one month
  • John Percy (Jack) 1896-1918 born at Bowenvale near Timor
  • Cecil Ernest 1898-1975 born at Rokewood, Victoria

Sarah Jane died of postpartum haemorrhage the day after Cecil was born.

John Young was left a widower with two step-children, Bob aged 14 and Mary aged 13, and two infants: Jack, almost two, and the newborn Cecil. It appears that John’s sisters looked after the children. Jack and Cecil grew up mainly in Homebush, cared for by their aunt Charlotte.


John Young with his step children Bob and Mary Whiteman and his sons Jack and Cecil Young. Photograph taken 1898-9. A copy of this photograph came from the Tunks family (relatives on the Young side) but a copy is also held by the Way family (relatives of the children’s mother).

postcard album

The post card album

There are four postcards in the collection signed by Mary. It seems that Mary called Charlotte ‘Aunty’ and spent time at Homebush.

It is hard to tell in what order the postcards were sent. Mary, it appears, was living with a Mrs Thomas in Stawell (75 kilometres west of Homebush and Avoca). She was presumably Mrs Thomas’s servant.

postcard 1 picture

Silver Creek Weir is in Kinglake National Park 260 kilometres east of Stawell

postcard 1 writing

My address c/o Mrs Thomas Childe Street Stawell

Dear Jack I am sending you this to let you see that I have not forgotten you, I do wish the you Cecil would write me a letter and tell Aunty to write also I do wish I could see you. I hope to come down at Xmas time. Love to all your loving sister Mary.

Addressed to Master J Young c/o Mrs Wilkins Post Office Lr Homebush


postcard 2 picture

postcard 2 writing

Dear Aunty Just a line to let you know that I will be coming down to see you on Friday morning. Mr T is in Avoca and Mrs T is going down so she is going to pay my fare and I am coming down to see you. Hope all are, love from Mary.


postcard 3 picture

postcard 3 writing

My dear brother Jack. Just a card hoping you are all well as it leaves us all nicely at present, how do you like being at Clunes. I think that you will like it better than Homebush. It will be livelier for you, give our love to Harriet and all the children, how did you spend Xmas. Well dear wish you all a happy new year, with love from Jim and Mary.

[In 1911 Mary married James Theodore Lack (1887-1971) at St Arnaud, 60 kilometres north of Avoca. I assume this is Jim.]


postcard 4 to Eva picture

Postcard 4 to Eva writing

The fourth card is to Miss Eva Hogan (1889-1913). She lived at Homebush and in 1910 married James John Cross (1886-1963), also a relative of Greg’s, his great uncle, but on a different branch of the family.

Dear Eva Just a line hoping you all are doing well, & did not get washed away. Tell dad Gus wrote to Charlie to give him a show if he gets it, that is all we know at present. When are you coming to see us. Give love to all from all yours Mary.

Addressed to Miss E Hogan Bromley near Dunolly and postmarked 6 August 1909.

[I have not yet worked out who Gus and Charlie are or what “give him a show if he gets it” could refer to.]



Mary and Jim Lack had three boys.

In 1925 she and Jim Lack were divorced. In the same year she remarried Henry White Nichols (1873-1959), a widower. They had one daughter.

John Young lived with the Nichols family in Melbourne for the last years of his life. He died at the age of 72 in 1928.

In 1945 Mary died aged 63.

John Young and Mary Nichols are buried together in  Footscray cemetery.

Footscray cemetery

The unmarked grave of John Young and Mary Ann Nichols, Church of England section, Footscray Cemetery FO-CE*D***755


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L is for Lilian

My third cousin four times removed, who was also the sister-in law of my third great uncle, was Dr Lilian Helen Alexander (1861-1934), one of the first woman doctors in Australia.

Lilian was the second of three children of Thomas Alexander (c. 1820-1888) and Jane Alexander nee Furnell (1818-1908). Their oldest daughter was Constance (1858-1913) and they also had a son, Albert Durer Alexander (1863-1933).


Cudmore Alexander tree

Family tree showing the Alexander and Cudmore cousin connection


The Alexanders lived in South Yarra. Thomas was employed as a printer for the Government but lost his job in the Victorian Government political crisis of January 1878. In 1878 and 1879 he operated a bookselling business. From 1873 Jane, Mrs Alexander, ran a Ladies’ College, which took boarders, called “Lawn House”. This began at William Street, South Yarra. From 1879 the school advertised that the principals were Mrs Alexander and the Misses Alexander: Lilian and Constance were teaching too. In 1883 the school moved from William Street – Lawn House was required by the railway – to Springfield House, 13 Murphy Street, South Yarra, later renumbered to 17.

Lilian was educated at her mother’s school and then for one year at Presbyterian Ladies’ College. In 1883 she entered the University of Melbourne as one of a small group of women who studied Arts. She was the first woman student of Trinity College. She gained her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1886 and her Master of Arts in 1888. The 1887 advertisement for the school proudly announced her achievements.


Springfield College January 1887

Advertising (1887, January 29). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11588121


In 1887 Lilian applied to study medicine and was one of the first women medical students at Melbourne. She obtained her Bachelor of Medicine in 1893 and her BCh (Baccalaureus Chirurgiae or Bachelor of Surgery)  in 1901.


Women-Medical-Students 1887

First group of female medical students at the University of Melbourne, 1887. Description: Standing (l. to r.) Helen Sexton, Lilian Alexander, Annie (or Elizabeth) O’Hara. Seated (l. to r.) Clara Stone, Margaret Whyte, Grace Vale, Elizabeth (or Annie) O’Hara. Retrieved from https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/librarycollections/2011/07/12/237/


In 1895 Lilian was inaugural secretary of the Victorian Women’s Medical Association, and later its president. Her first appointment was at the Women’s Hospital in Carlton, and she was one of the inaugural staff members of the Queen Victoria Hospital for Women and Children, which was established in 1897.

In 1891 Lilian’s sister Constance (1858-1913) married their third cousin Milo Robert Cudmore (1852-1913). Milo was the brother of my great great grandfather James Francis Cudmore (1837-1912).

Milo and Constance had four sons:

  • Francis Alexander Cudmore 1892–1956
  • Ernest Osmond Cudmore 1894–1924
  • Arthur Sexton Cudmore 1897–1974
  • Wilfred Milo Cudmore 1899–1965

In January 1913 Constance Cudmore died at the Alexander family home in Murphy Street, South Yarra. In July, six months later, Milo also died at South Yarra. Lilian, still living at 17 Murphy Street South Yarra, assumed the care of  the four orphans,  then aged between 14 and 21.

Lilian practiced medicine until 1928. She died on 18 October 1934.

Alexander Lilian obituary Argus 1934 10 20

OBITUARY (1934, October 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 24. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10983054


In April 1936 Arthur Sexton Cudmore and his two surviving brothers, Francis Alexander Cudmore and Wilfred Milo Cudmore  presented a bas relief sculpture by the notable Australian sculptor Web Gilbert to the University of Melbourne in honour of their aunt Dr Lilian Helen Alexander.

Wheel of Life at Melbourne Uni

The sculpture “Wheel of Life” by Web Gilbert in the foyer of the Medical Building Grattan Street, University of Melbourne.

Alexander memorial plaque



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K is for Kenneth

One of my third great uncles was Kenneth George Budge (1842-1878), the son of Kenneth Budge (1813-1852) and Margaret Budge nee Gunn (1819-1863).

Kenneth Budge the father was a seaman who married Margaret Gunn in 1840. Kenneth and Margaret lived in Wick, Caithness, in the far north of Scotland. Their five children were:

  • Daniel (1841-1895)
  • Kenneth George (1842-1878)
  • Alexandrina (1844 – before 1851)
  • Margaret (1845 – 1912) my great great grandmother
  • Alexandrina (1851-1911)

In August 1852 Kenneth Budge senior, who was trading between Scotland and the Baltic, died of cholera at sea, in the Øresund, the strait that separates Sweden and Denmark.

On 10 June 1854, Margaret remarried, to Ewan Rankin (1825- ?). With her four surviving children she emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia, sailing on the Dirigo. The ship departed Liverpool on 10 July 1854 but returned because of a cholera outbreak. Sailing again on 9 August, they arrived in South Australia on 22 November. Kenneth George was then 12 years old.

In 1863 Kenneth’s mother Margaret died at Bookmark station on the River Murray near present-day Renmark. Margaret was 44.

In 1867, in Adelaide, Kenneth’s sister, Margaret, married James Francis Cudmore (1837-1912).

In 1870, in partnership with his brother-in-law James Francis Cudmore, Kenneth bought Gooyea, a cattle station, on the Bulloo River near the Barcoo River, Queensland. In 1875 Kenneth’s brother Daniel joined the partnership.

Barcoo River near Blackall 1938

The Barcoo River near Blackall photographed in 1938

Milo station

Musterers on Milo station, probably in the 1890s. Milo station was formed from several stations including Gooyea


In October 1871 Kenneth was in charge of a mob of 600 cows and 16 bulls travelling from Paringa, a Cudmore station, to Dowling’s Creek, at Gooyea. A herd of cattle this big could travel only about ten miles a day, so the journey from Paringa to Gooyea would have taken nearly three months.


Evening Journal October 1871

Latest News. (1871, October 18). Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912), p. 2 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197660614

Paringa to Gooyea map

It is 1,224 kilometres from Paringa to Gooyea via Wilcannia or 765 miles



A mob of cattle crossing the MacIntyre River from Queensland to New South Wales. Image retrieved from Wikipedia.

From the Wikipedia article on Drover (Australian):

Movement of large mobs of stock was traditionally carried out by contract drovers. A drover had to be independent and tough, an excellent horseman, able to manage stock as well as men. The boss drover who had a plant (horses, dogs, cooking gear and other requisites) contracted to move the mob at a predetermined rate according to the conditions, from a starting point to the destination. The priorities for a boss drover were the livestock, the horses, and finally the men, as drovers were paid per head of stock delivered. Drovers were sometimes on the road for as long as two years. The drovers who covered very long distances to open up new country were known as “overlanders“.

Traditional droving could not have been done without horses. The horse plant was made up of work-horses, night-horses and packhorses, with each drover riding four or five horses during a trip. The horse tailer was the team member responsible for getting horses to water and feed, and bringing them to the camp in the morning. A good night-horse was highly prized for its night vision, temperament, and its ability to bring animals under control when a “rush”, known elsewhere as a stampede, occurred at night.

The standard team of men employed to move 1,200 cattle consisted of seven men: the boss drover, four stockmen, a cook and a horse-tailer. Store cattle were moved in larger mobs, of up to 1,500 head, while fat bullocks going to meatworks were taken in mobs of about 650 head, i.e. three train loads. The stockmen will ride in formation at the front, sides and back of the mob, at least until the mob has settled into a routine pace. Cattle are expected to cover about ten miles (16 km) a day, sheep about six miles (10 km), and are permitted to spread up to 800 metres (half a mile) on either side of the road. A short camp is made for a lunch break, after which the cook and horse-tailer will move ahead to set up the night camp


A report in November 1874 mentioned 2,200 cattle head of cattle had been purchased and were en route to Gooyea.

Riverine Grazier November 1874

HAY SHIPPING. (1874, November 11). The Riverine Grazier (Hay, NSW : 1873 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141197711

In June 1878 a newspaper article discussed the effort Kenneth Budge and J.F. Cudmore were making to establish a quality beef herd.

SA Advertiser June 1878

The Advertiser THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 1878. (1878, June 6). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article29603079


In April 1878 Kenneth Budge was appointed a Queensland magistrate.

On 6 November of that year, only 36 years old, he died suddenly of heart disease at Gooyea. He was buried at Gooyea, but two years later his body was exhumed, brought to Adelaide, and re-interred in West Terrace Cemetery.



Kenneth Budge grave West Terrace cemetery

The grave of Kenneth Budge at West Terrace cemetery photographed in April 2017

Kenneth Budge headstone


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J is for John

One of my husband’s great great grandfathers was John Way (1835-1911).

When he died on 11 June 1911, in Parkes, New South Wales, John Way was buried in  Parkes cemetery with his wife and son. His gravestone noted the death of his grandson Leslie Leister, killed World War 1.

The local paper, recording John Way’s death, provided a  brief obituary.

John Way obituary

MR. JOHN WAY. (1911, June 16). Western Champion (Parkes, NSW : 1898 – 1934), p. 16. Retrieved December 4, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111914465


Sadly, the headstone of John Way’s grave was broken in two by vandals in 2010 (after this photo was taken).

Because the marble is too soft and hollow to drill and pin, it could not be completely restored.

As a community service, J.T. Cock & Sons, a Parkes monumental masonry firm, repaired the headstone as best they could, picking it up off the ground and laying it flat. Unfortunately, some of the lead lettering, fractured in the damage, has come away, making the inscription harder to read.

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