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 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

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

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

Melbourne Herald 1932 07 11 page 1

(1932, July 11). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from

Gill Helena Melbourne Herald 1932 07 11 page 1

Drowned Stewardess (1932, July 11). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from

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

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.



Three little maids from school

3 schoolgirls Henderson Leslie 703607273

Three young women, dressed in school uniform. From left to right they are Marion Boyd Wanliss, Leslie Moira Henderson, and Joan a’Beckett Weigall. Marion, Leslie, and Joan attended the Clyde Girl’s Grammar School founded by Leslie’s aunt. Photograph taken in 1914 by Gainsborough Studio Photographers. The photograph belonged to Leslie Henderson and was donated to the State Library of Victoria: Accession no: H89.267.

Leslie Henderson (1896-1982), niece (and biographer) of the Australian feminist Vida Goldstein (1869-1949) , was my grandfather’s second cousin. Her paternal grandfather was the Presbytrian Reverend William Henderson (1826-1884) of Ballarat, and Leslie also  compiled and published biographical notes about her grandfather and his family.

Isabel Henderson (1862-1940), one of Leslie’s paternal aunts,  was the founder of the St Kilda  Clyde Girls’ Grammar School. The school later moved to Woodend, near Hanging Rock, Victoria.

The photograph above was captioned by Leslie as “Marion Wanliss, Leslie Henderson, Joan Weigall (Lady Lindsay)”.

Marion Boyd Wanliss (1896-1984) studied at the University of Melbourne (M.B., B.S., 1920; M.D., 1929) and conducted research into cancer as a postgraduate in Vienna. She practised as a physician at Camberwell, Melbourne, and later in Collins Street. She became an honorary physician at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital. A member (1928) of the Royal College of Physicians, London, and a fellow (1954) of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, she was also a prominent conservationist. She never married.

The 1913 dux of Clyde Girls’ Grammar School was Joan à Beckett Lindsay née Weigall (1896-1984) , who became a noted author and artist.  From 1916-1920 she studied art at the National Gallery School in Melbourne. In 1922 she married the artist Darryl Lindsay (1889-1976), who was later Director of the National Gallery of Victoria. Joan Lindsay’s most well-known book was a novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock,  published in 1967. The story concerns the disappearance of three girls and a teacher from a school near Hanging Rock. This was adapted as a film in 1975, and a television series is being released in 2018.


Henderson Leslie Lorne 1913 703014995

Seven young women at a waterfall near Lorne. Written on verso: Photo taken at Lorne, 1913. Standing :- Keila Dillon, (girl in white not known), Leslie Henderson. Seated :- [Mira?] Scott, Joan Weigall, Marion Wanliss, Doris Chambers. Photo from the Estate of Leslie Moira Henderson in the collection of the State Library of Victoria: Accession: H2013.229/14

Marion, Leslie, and Joan, with four other girls, pictured in 1913 near Lorne, a seaside town south-west of Melbourne.   Marion’s brother, Harold Boyd Wanliss (1891-1917), took up 295 acres (119 ha) near Lorne, Victoria, to plant an orchard. The Wanliss Falls, which he discovered close by on the Erskine River, were named in his honour.

Henderson Leslie 1913 703014987

Leslie Henderson at Mandeville Hall, Toorak in 1913. In 1913 the previously grand mansion was a boarding house. It 1924 the mansion became a school. Picture from the estate of Leslie Henderson and in the collection of the State Library of Victoria Accession no: H2013.229/9

When my great grandparents Beatrix Hughes and Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny married in 1906, Leslie Henderson was the youngest bridesmaid.

Ch de Crespigny Trent and Hughes Trixie 1906 weddingfromslvh2013-229-20

1906 wedding of Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny to Beatrix Hughes at Beaufort, Victoria.

Leslie Henderson chart

Family tree showing Leslie Henderson


A to Z 2018 reflections

A to Z reflection 2018

This is my fifth “Blogging from A to Z Challenge“. This year I wrote about 26 people in my family tree whose personal name starts with a different letter of the alphabet.

It was quite a task, but that’s the “Challenge”, after all.

I chose the person for each letter well in advance, giving me more time for research.   X was a bit tricky, of course, and I had only one U to work with. Other letters gave me more choice.

Half the posts were about women (“Women hold up half the sky”, declared Chairman Mao), and many of the stories – though not intentionally chosen for it – had at least a touch of religious colouring. I am pleased to have been able to include one of my German forebears.


A to Z 2018 chart

My family tree, with my husband Greg’s, showing the locations of the people I wrote about. [This   Sun Chart generated using MyHeritage.]

  • A is for Arthur
    • My husband Greg’s maternal grandfather Arthur Sullivan (1891-1975)
  • B is for Beatrix
    • One of my great grandmothers was Beatrix Champion de Crespigny née Hughes (1884-1943)
  • C is for Collier
    • My first cousin three times removed was Collier Robert Cudmore (1885-1971), the cousin of my great grandfather, Arthur Murray Cudmore. Collier won an Olympic gold medal for rowing.
  • D is for Daniel
    • One of my seventh great grandfathers was Daniel Dana (1664-1749), a New England Puritan.
  • E is for Eliza
    • One of my husband’s great great grandmother was Eliza Morley née Sinden (1823 – 1908). In 1853 Eliza and her husband emigrated to Australia from Sussex, England.
  • F is for Francis
    • One of my husband’s great great grandfathers was Francis Gilbart Edwards (1848-1913).
  • G is for Gustav
    • One of my great great grandfathers on my mother’s side was Gustav Waldemar Alexander Karl Peters (1860-1904)
  • H is for Henry
    • My husband’s great grandfather Henry Sullivan (1863-1943)
  • I is for Ichabod
    • One of my 8th great grandfathers was Ichabod Chauncy (1635 -1691), another dissenter and puritan
  • J is for John
    • One of my husband’s great great grandfathers was John Way (1835-1911)
  • K is for Kenneth
    • One of my third great uncles was Kenneth George Budge (1842-1878)
  • 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 women doctors in Melbourne and a carer of her orphaned nephews.
  • M is for Mary
    • My husband Greg’s great aunt was Mary Ann Nichols, formerly Lack née Whiteman (1884-1945)
  • N is for Nellie
    • One of my first cousins four times removed was Eleanor Mary (Nellie) Niall (1858-1891)
  • O is for Orfeur
    • My third great uncle Orfeur Cavenagh (1820-1891) was one of several relations named after my fifth great grandfather John Orfeur (1695-1753)
  • P is for Penelope
    • My sixth great aunt Penelope Phipps (1775-1814) was left in France by her parents during the Reign of Terror. She was only 17 and had seven younger siblings to care for.
  • Q is for Queenie
    • My great great aunt Alice Magee née Mainwaring formerly Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1879-1952) was known as Queenie.
  • R is for Rosina
    • One of my husband’s maternal great aunts was Rosina Doidge née Sullivan formerly Saunders (1889-1969).
  • S is for Suky
    • One of my fifth great grandmothers was Susannah Lamothe née Corrin (1741-1803).
  • T is for Theresa
    • One of my fourth great aunts was Theresa Susannah Eunice Snell Poole formerly Walker née Chauncy (1807-1876). Theresa was a sculptor and artist.
  • U is for Una
    • Una Elizabeth Dwyer née Sneyd (1900-1982), first cousin twice removed of my husband Greg. After reading this post Una’s son, Greg’s cousin, contacted us.
  • V is for Valencia
    • Cicely Valencia Lancaster (1898-1996), known as Valencia, was my sixth cousin once removed. She left a trust to preserve Kelmarsh Hall where many Champion de Crespigny portraits and family documents are held.
  • W is for William
  • X, her mark, revisited
    • My husband’s great great grandmother Eliza Dawson née Skerritt (1838-1899) was illiterate but protested successfully when somebody tried to take advantage of her by wrongly recording her vote.
  • Y is for Yannasch
    • Jacob Robert Yannasch Goldstein (1841-1910) was the husband of my third great aunt. Jacob was  ‘an anti-suffragist’ despite his daughter Vida Goldstein’s (1869-1949) being a noted feminist and suffragette; or perhaps Vida was a feminist and suffragette despite her father.
  • Z is for Zacharie
    • One of my eighth great grandfathers was Zacharie Fonnereau (1636-c. 1685), a Huguenot linen merchant from La Rochelle.

This year there were more detailed categories to choose and one of those was “genealogy”. Through the month I was pleased to follow some fellow genealogy bloggers and I appreciated their support and encouragement through the month:

During the month I followed some other entertaining blogs as well.

I look forward to participating next year.

Z is for Zacharie

One of my eighth great grandfathers, born on 10 February 1636 at La Rochelle, was a Huguenot linen merchant named Zacharie Fonnereau (also known as ‘Zacharia or ‘Zachary’ Fonnereau).

In 1674 he married Marguerite Chateigner, and in 1677 they had a son, Claude.

British (English) School; Possibly Zacharie Fonnereau (b.1636)

Possibly Zacharie Fonnereau (b.1636) Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service: Ipswich Borough Council Collection Retrieved from

Denner, Balthasar, 1685-1749; Possibly Marguerite Fonnereau as an Elderly Lady

Possibly Marguerite Fonnereau as an Elderly Lady by Balthasar Denner (1685–1749) (circle of) Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service: Ipswich Borough Council Collection retrieved from

La Rochelle is a seaport on the French Atlantic coast. From 1568, La Rochelle became a centre for the Huguenots, and the city declared itself an independent Reformed Republic on the model of Geneva. La Rochelle suffered religious wars and rebellions including the Siege of La Rochelle in 1627-8 (which resulted in a victory for King Louis XIII and the Catholics), the expulsion of 300 Protestant families in November 1661, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV who claimed to be entitled to do so because there were no more Huguenots in his kingdom and their special privileges were no longer needed.


Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle, by Henri Motte, 1881


In 1689 Claude, 12 years old, was sent to England. In 1693 he received his certificate of denization (granting permanent resident status and the right to own land) and was naturalised in 1698.

In 1698 Claude Fonnereau married Elizabeth Bureau (1670-1735), who was also from La Rochelle. Claude and Elizabeth had eight children, among them Anne Fonnereau (1704-1782), who married Phillip Champion de Crespigny (1704-1765). Anne Fonnereau was my sixth great grandmother.

British (English) School; Claude Fonnereau (1677-1740)

Claude Fonnereau (1677-1740) Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service: Ipswich Borough Council Collection retrieved from


Claude’s mother Marguerite Fonnereau née Chateigner died in England on 1 October 1720 and is buried in St Stephen Walbrook in the City of London.

I do not know when Zacharie died. There is no record of the death of Zacharie in England. It may be that the record has not survived or that he never emigrated there. There is also no record of his denization nor can I find a record of him in an English Huguenot church. It would be useful to have témoignages credentials, for example, which were certificates of sound doctrine and good behaviour from his previous congregation presented by a person moving to a new church.

While I have been able to find records which refer to Claude Fonnereau as the son of Zacharie, I have not been able to find records of Zacharie’s parents. I have found family trees which suggest that Zacharie was the son of a Zacharie. The earlier Zacharie may have been a notable watchmaker but at present I feel unable on the evidence to claim Zacharie Fonnereau watchmaker of La Rochelle as my direct forebear.


Fonnereau watch

A pre-balance spring gilt-metal and rock crystal crucifix watch signed by Fonnereau a la Rochelle in 1650 and sold by Sothebys at auction on 11 May 2008 for CHF133,000 ($Au177,688).


Sotheby’s gives a biography of Zaccharie Fonnereau the watchmaker: “Originally from Geneva, he was apprenticed in Lyon in 1618 and then became Compagnon in 1622. As a master watchmaker in 1641, he settled in La Rochelle.”

The watch auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2008 was displayed in an exhibition of watchmaking in Geneva in 2011-2012.

a watch made by the watchmaker Zacharie Fonnereau will also be displayed. Circumventing the ban on crosses decreed by the goldsmiths’ guild in 1566, he created, like other Genevan masterwatchmakers, this cross-shaped timepiece. Dating from 1620 and worn around the neck at the time, the watch is more a piece of jewellery than a precision instrument. The valuable case is carved from rock crystal.


Related posts

Y is for Yannasch

None of my forebears has a first name starting with Y, so the third personal name of Jacob Robert Yannasch Goldstein (1841-1910), the husband of my third great aunt, will have to do.

His name ‘Yannasch’, probably a variant of John, means “Jehovah has been gracious”.

Jacob Goldstein was born about 1841 in Cork, Ireland, only child of Isaac Goldstein (c. 1811-1887) and Mary Goldstein née Pulvertaft (c. 1811-1890). Jacob grew up in Belfast, where his father was a general dealer, that is a shopkeeper, and his mother was a dressmaker. In 1852 the Goldstein family lived at 12 King Street, Belfast. Isaac Goldstein was still living at King Street at the time of his death in 1887.

In 1858 Jacob Goldstein, then 17, emigrated to Australia, arriving in Melbourne on 29 April 1858. He could read and write, was a native of county Armagh, and his religion was Presbyterian. He had sailed on the Arabian, which left Liverpool on 27 January with 365 government immigrants. The Argus reported that she had experienced fine weather during the passage, that she was very clean, and that the passengers were in good health. When he disembarked Jacob stated he intended to be employed on his own account.

From the early 1860s Jacob ran a general store in Portland, a Victorian coastal town. We catch a few glimpses of him there over the next decade: in 1863 racing a horse; in 1864 playing cricket with the Portland cricket club; in 1867 a lieutenant with the Western Artillery, part of the Victorian volunteer artillery (he served for 30 years without seeing any active service, achieving the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel); in 1868 writing about birds and ornithology to the local paper.

On 3 June 1868, ‘at the residence of the bride’, Jacob Goldstein married Isabella Hawkins (1849-1916), eldest daughter of the pastoralist Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (1819-1867).

Jacob and Isabella had five children:

  • Vida (1869-1949)
  • Elsie (1870-1953)
  • Lina (1872-1943)
  • Selwyn (1873-1917)
  • Aileen (1870-1960)

His marriage and the births of his children were announced in The Belfast Newsletter, an Irish newspaper.

Much of the Goldstein family history has been documented in The Goldstein Story, by Jacob’s grand daughter, Lina’s daughter Leslie Henderson (1896-1982).

Goldstein Jacob

Jacob Goldstein: photographs in The Goldstein Story by his grand daughter Leslie Henderson.


Leslie argues that Jacob was not close to his father nor to his own children.

Both Jacob and his wife Isabella were interested in social service, devoting much time and effort to work among the poor.

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘Jacob Goldstein encouraged his daughters to be economically and intellectually independent’. With her more famous daughter Vida, Isabella was a keen proponent of women’s suffrage;  Leslie Henderson believes that Jacob  was less enthusiastic. [The ADB calls Jacob an ‘an anti-suffragist’.]

In Melbourne, the Goldsteins attended the Scots’ (Presbyterian) Church, whose minister the Reverend Charles Strong was forced to resign over heresy charges in 1883. When Strong later set up his own ‘Australian Church’ the Goldstein’s became members. In the late 1890s Isabella and her daughters, though not Jacob, became Christian Scientists, followers of the spiritual healer Mary Baker Eddy.

Jacob died in 1910 at the age of 71.

LIEUT. COLONEL GOLDSTEIN. (1910, September 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 7. Retrieved from




X, her mark, revisited

Second thoughts

On re-reading the ‘Grantham Journal’ piece of 9 December 1893, I find I agree with the interpretation of Linda Curry (in the comments, below). Although she favoured the Catholic candidate, Eliza was persuaded that she should not vote against her own denominational interests, ‘her own’ meaning Anglican. She was a member of the Church of England.

I have no forebears whose names begin with X, but ‘X, his mark’ on a document seems close enough.

Making an X is not a reliable way of identifying yourself, of course, and from time to time illiterate people were tricked into giving false endorsements of their intentions. One of these was my husband’s great great grandmother Eliza Dawson née Skerritt (1838-1899) who lived in Corby, near Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Though she apparently could not read and write, Eliza Dawson was a property owner and therefore entitled to vote for the local Board of Guardians. The Boards were committees that administered the Poor Law in the United Kingdom from 1835 to 1930, elected by owners and bona fide occupiers of land liable to pay the poor rate. The property qualification was abolished in 1894, but in 1893, Eliza, widowed since 1872, was an owner or occupier of land liable to pay the poor rate and so eligible to vote for the local Board.

In the 1893 election Eliza was canvassed by a Mr Walsingham on behalf of Mr William Harrison, the local butcher, who was a member of Church of England. Eliza, however, wished to vote for the alternative candidate, a Roman Catholic, the Reverend Canon Baron. Walsingham seems to have told Eliza that her children could not complete her ballot paper on her behalf but that he could. However, perhaps contrary to her wishes, he completed the ballot in favour of William Harrison. She later asserted that ‘…she did not give him any direct permission to record her vote for Mr Harrison’.

Eliza protested, and in reviewing the election, the Local Government Board  was satisfied that her ballot paper had not been completed in accordance with her intentions and that Eliza’s vote should be disallowed. This tied the vote and a fresh election was ordered.

Witnesses in the case included her sons William and Albert Dawson, and William’s wife Annie.

Grantham Journal 1893 09 30 page 6

Local Government Board Enquiry at Corby reported in the Grantham Journal 30 September 1893 page 6 retrieved from the British Newspaper Archive through FindMyPast

Two years before this, at the time of the 1891 census, Eliza Dawson was living at Stonepit Terrace in Corby with her sons George age 20 and Albert age 18, both farm labourers, and her grandson Arthur, age 12, still at school. The house previously enumerated on the Census was in Brown Road, with the occupants listed as Eliza’s son William age 31, who was a chimney sweep, William’s wife Annie, and a stepson, Frederick Munks aged 2.

Eliza presumably owned at least one of these houses, possibly both, giving her the legal status of property owner. (I haven’t been able to locate these addresses on a present-day map.)

I still have much to learn about the Dawson and Skerritt families. Until reading this article I had no idea that Eliza was a Roman Catholic [but see above, at ‘Second Thoughts’] or that she owned enough real property to qualify as a Board of Guardians voter.

A fresh election was held in January 1894. Canon Baron won the popular vote but the successful candidate was the Reverend Charles Farebrother, Anglican priest of Corby Vicarage. Depending on the value of his property, an elector had up three votes. It appears that the wealthier voters chose to vote for the Anglican clergyman.

Grantham Journal 13 January 1894 page 3

Grantham Journal 13 January 1894 page 3


I am descended from a long line of Huguenots – French Calvinists – on one side and German Lutherans on the other, supplemented by Anglicans (mostly) and various other Protestants. My husband Greg’s family were nominally Anglican, or if not, Non-conformist or, occasionally, followers of unusual creeds, not all of them trinitarian.

So it has been easy to assume that our families were Protestant Christians of one kind or another, and it was a surprise to discover a direct forebear who appears to have been a Roman Catholic.

The evidence is slight, however. To say that Eliza Dawson née Skerritt was described by an 1893 Corby newspaper as belonging to the Roman Catholic church reminds me of the cautious scholar who, seeing a mob of black cows, one of them white, reported that he had observed at least one cow white on at least one side.

There are very few facts, and they are difficult to interpret. Eliza Skerritt married Isaac Dawson in an Anglican Church, possibly before she changed her religious allegiance – if that’s what happened. I have not found her will or probate record, and I do not know whether she was buried a Roman Catholic. I know nothing about her husband’s denominational affiliation, nor her chilren’s.

Greg, raised in a sect which believes the Bishop of Rome to was accurately described by John in Revelation 17, will not be hurrying off to Mass on Sunday. I am waiting for more evidence before I can say with confidence that not all our recent forebears were Protestants.

Related post

W is for William

Today 25th April in Australia it is is Anzac Day, set aside to honour the men and women who served in the Australian and New Zealand armies in World War I and II and other conflicts, especially in remembrance of those who were killed and never saw their country again.

My husband’s first cousin twice removed was William Stanley Plowright (1893-1917). He was born in 1893 in St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, the seventh of the eleven children of William John Plowright (1859-1914), a policeman, and Harriet Jane Plowright nee Hosking (1861-1946).

William enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915 and fought at Gallipoli, where he was wounded. He was killed in the Battle of Lagnicourt in March 1917. William’s body was not found and he has no grave. The only local memorial of his death is his name listed on the war memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. This memorial was erected ‘to commemorate all Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during the First World War, to their dead, and especially to name those of the dead whose graves are not known’. I wrote about him in two previous A to Z series:

I have also written about a friend of his, ‘comrade of the late William Stanley Plowright’, named Johnna Bell, remembered by William’s family.



Australian War memorial photograph image id C00470. Photographer Ernest Charles Barnes, April 1917. Description: Two unidentified soldiers stand amid the shattered buildings in the French village of Lagnicourt, which was captured by the Australians in late March 1917 as the Germans withdrew towards the Hindenburg Line. The Germans heavily shelled the village as they retreated.


William is one of many in our family who died serving their country. This short list is of only our closest relatives:

World War 1

World War 2

  • Frank Robert Sewell 1905 – 1943
    • died 22 February 1943 in Queensland of illness and wounds having served in New Guinea

Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Photograph by Gerard4170 and published on

V is for Valencia

Cicely Valencia Lancaster (1898-1996), known as Valencia, was my sixth cousin once removed. Although ‘sixth cousin’ sounds quite distant, the acquaintance was a little closer. Because of our shared Champion de Crespigny family heritage,  my family knew her well and my father stayed with her in London several times when he was studying at Cambridge in the 1950s. In 1986 my parents visited her at her home at Kelmarsh Hall, Northhamptonshire.

Birley, Oswald Hornby Joseph, 1880-1952; Cicely Valencia Lancaster (1898-1996)

Cicely Valencia Lancaster (1898–1996) painted by Oswald Hornby Joseph Birley (1880–1952) (circle of). Portrait in the collection of Kelmarsh Hall.

Valencia was the oldest daughter of George Granville Lancaster (1853-1907) and Cicely Lancaster née Champion de Crespigny (1874-1946), who was the second child and oldest daughter of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny (1847-1935) and  his wife Georgiana (1849-1935). Cicely married George Lancaster on 19 March 1896 at Maldon, Essex, where the de Crespigny family lived at Champion Lodge. Valencia was born on 26 March 1898 at London and her brother Claude Granville Lancaster was born, also at London, on 30 August 1899.

At the time of the 1901 census, when Valencia was three, the family was living at Marston Hall, Shropshire. George Lancaster lived on his own means; the Lancaster wealth came from iron and coal. The household included ten live-in servants: a butler, footman, cook, housemaid, lady’s maid, two laundry maids, children’s maid and an under-nurse. At Marston Lodge, nearby lived a coachman and his wife and a groom and his wife. These too were probably associated with the Lancaster household.

In 1902 George bought Kelmarsh Hall and its 3,000 acre estate in Northamptonshire. There he established a herd of British white cattle. Cicely’s brothers took advantage of the hunting opportunities at Kelmarsh. Her brother Claude (1873-1910) kept hunters there.


Lancaster Jubie Valencia as children frm wwwKelmarshHall

Claude and Valencia as children

George Granville Lancaster died on 20 March 1907 at his rooms in the Albany, Picadilly, London. The Essex Newsman reported he had suffered a long and painful illness. Valencia was 8 and her brother 7.

Northampton Mercury March 29, 1907 page 9

Northampton Mercury March 29, 1907 page 9 retrieved from the British Newspaper Archive through FindMyPast


Northampton Mercury May 24, 1907 page 6

Northampton Mercury May 24, 1907 page 6 retrieved from the British Newspaper Archive through FindMyPast (Note George Lancaster had only two children although his will had provided for more)


At the time of the 1911  census Valencia was living with her mother in a flat in Bentinck Mansions, Marylebone, London. The household included a butler, cook, housemaid and German governess. Claude was at school in Kent

Bentinck Mansions

Bentinck Mansions from Google maps

Valencia never married, though it appears she attended the weddings of her friends and relations. There are a number of newspaper reports of her acting as bridesmaid at society weddings.

By 1921 she was driving a car. There is a newspaper report of an accident.

Northampton Mercury November 11, 1921 page 6

Northampton Mercury November 11, 1921 page 6 retrieved from the British Newspaper Library through FindMyPast


In 1939 Valencia received a large inheritance from her uncle Claude Philip Champion de Crespigny (1880-1939). A newspaper article describes her as

She is a cheerful countrywoman, in the middle thirties, who wins prizes at flower shows and, like her late uncle, takes a keen interest in racing.

Lancaster Valencia On Steps Wilderness frm wwwKelmarshHall

During the Second World War Valencia served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army. She was gazetted in 1940 with a seniority date of 24 November 1938. From 30 May 1941 she was promoted second Subs, the equivalent of second lieutenant.

In 1946 Valencia’s mother Cicely died.  It was reported at the time that for the entire war Cicely had lived with her daughter at North Audley Street, London. She was awarded the Civil Defence Medal for serving for five years as an Air Raid Precautions Warden (A.R.P.), in Westminster.



Kelmarsh Hall


When he turned 25 Valencia’s brother Claude inherited Kelmarsh Hall. For a time the Hall was rented out but afterwards he lived there and gardened enthusiastically. Between 1948 and 1953 Claude was married to Nancy Keene Perkins (1897-1994), who previously had been married to Arthur Tree (1897-1976). The Trees had rented Kelmarsh in the 1920s with a ten-year repairing lease and Nancy, who became a noted interior designer, had redecorated the Hall.

Claude died in 1977 and Valencia inherited Kelmarsh. In 1982 she established a charitable trust  to facilitate its conservation.

Kelmarsh Hall contains many notable portraits of the Champion de Crespigny family and documents. I am not sure when these were passed to the Lancasters. The baronetcy became extinct in 1952, Valencia’s uncles died without male heirs, and the baronetcy passed through cousins, but in the end there were no descendants in the male line.

The home of the fourth baronet was Champion Lodge at Essex. The sixth baronet Henry died in 1946 at Champion Lodge. By 1949 Kelmarsh Hall was sold and no longer in the family.  By then the former Champion Lodge was a country club. Amongst the family there were a few houses which could have been used to house the portrait collection.

On 29 November 1996 Valencia died, aged 98. Her funeral service was held at Kelmarsh on 9 December.

In 1997 it was reported that Valencia’s estate was worth over two million pounds. She left money to the RSPCA and other animal charities.


  • Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901. Class: RG13; Piece: 2551; Folio: 9; Page: 9. Retrieved through
  • 1911 England census Class: RG14; Piece: 524 Retrieved through
  • “The Death Of Captain Claude Champion De Crespigny.” Times [London, England] 20 May 1910: 10. The Times Digital Archive.
  • “Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Essex Newsman [Chelmsford, England] 23 Mar. 1907: 3. British Library Newspapers.
  • Valencia’s inheritance from her Uncle Philip: Edinburgh Evening News June 15, 1939, p. 8.
  • Kelmarsh Lady’s Death, Mrs C. Lancaster of The Hall Market Harborough Advertiser and Midland Mail June 28, 1946, p. 12
  • “Police Raid Country Club.” Derby Daily Telegraph, 12 Sept. 1949, p. 1. British Library Newspapers.
  • Valencia’s will is included in “Latest wills.” Times, 6 Mar. 1997, p. 20. The Times Digital Archive,

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U is for Una

Una Elizabeth Dwyer née Sneyd (1900-1982), first cousin twice removed of my husband Greg, was the daughter of Samuel Charles Sneyd (1863-1938) and Emily Sneyd née Way (1868-1952).

Usually in my family work I am able to find a considerable quantity and variety of information about the person I’m looking researching. I gain, I hope, some small insight into their circumstances and perhaps one or two events of their lives.

Una Sneyd and her family, however, managed to keep a very low profile. They didn’t write to the paper with bright ideas about burials in wicker baskets, weren’t imprisoned for bankruptcy, and weren’t exiled for their religious views. Thoreau said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation; the Sneyds apparently just led quiet lives, and left few traces of themselves for a family historian to work with.

Una’s mother Emily was the seventh of ten children of John Way and Sarah Way née Daw. She was born in Grenfell, New South Wales in 1868 but her family moved to Parkes, New South Wales, when she was about five years old.

In 1892 Emily married Samuel Charles Sneyd, a police constable, in Hughenden, Queensland. I don’t know why Emily, then aged 24, was in Queensland; Hughenden is two thousand kilometres north of Parkes. As far as I know, no other members of her family were in Hughenden. At the time of her marriage Emily was living at Hughenden.

Sneyd Way marriage 1892

1892 marriage certificate of Charles Samuel Sneyd and Emily Way

Emily and Samuel Charles had six children:

  • Lionel Walter Sneyd 1894–1976
  • Cecil Sneyd 1896–1954
  • infant daughter Sneyd 1898–1898
  • Una Elizabeth Sneyd 1900–1982
  • Ruth Dawes Sneyd 1904–1996
  • Jasper Samuel Sneyd 1906–1991

Lionel was born in Hughendon but the others were born in the Emmaville district of north-east of New South Wales. Samuel Charles Sneyd worked as a miner.

When Emily’s father John Way died in 1911, four daughters were mentioned in his obituary, so it would seem Emily was still in touch with her family. When her sister Mary Ann Waine died in 1938, Mary Ann’s obituary mentioned only one sister, Eliza: the family seemed to have lost touch with Emily.

The Sneyd family moved to Sydney sometime after 1913. In August 1915 Lionel Sneyd enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He gave his father as his next of kin. At the time, he was living in Marrickville, an inner-west suburb of Sydney

Lionel served overseas in France, was wounded in action in July 1916, and was repatriated with a fractured left ankle.

Only limited number of electoral rolls for New South Wales have been digitised. In these I have been able to find  Una Elizabeth Sneyd listed in 1930 as living at  39 Tupper Street, Marrickville. Her occupation was shop assistant. She was living with her parents and younger brother Jasper, who was also a shop assistant. Samuel was a carpenter. Emily’s occupation was listed as home duties.

In 1932 Una Sneyd married Patrick George Dwyer, an engine driver. In 1935 the Dwyers were living at 11 Audley Street, Petersham. Una’s occupation was given as home duties. Petersham is immediately north of Marrickville.

By 1936 the Dwyers had moved to 6 Brightmore Street, Cremorne. The suburb of Cremorne is on the lower North Shore in Sydney, 13 kilometres north-east of Marrickville, across the harbour. The Dwyers were still at the same address at the time of the 1980 electoral roll.

Samuel Charles Sneyd died in 1938 and Emily Sneyd died in 1952.

Sneyd Samuel death

Sneyd Emily death notice
I have not ordered her death certificate, but I notice from the index that Emily’s mother was named Ruth; her family appear to have known very little about Emily’s parents.

Patrick and Una seem to have had only one child, called John. He is listed on the 1958 electoral roll as living with them and is named in their death notices. As the voting age was 21, he was born between 1936 and 1937. I have not found a newspaper birth notice.

Patrick George (Paddy) Dwyer died 29 December 1981 in hospital. His death notice stated that he was from Cremorne, loved husband of Una. The notice names his son and two grandsons. Una died on 13 February 1982, also in hospital. Her death notice also named her late husband, son and two grandsons. In May 1982 there was a notice in the Sydney Morning Herald associated with the estate of Patrick George Dwyer, retired council employee.

In researching Una I have been able to verify dates, places and relationships with the aid of birth, death and marriage indexes, electoral rolls and notices in the newspapers. The Sneyd and Dwyer families, however, did not attract much notice in the newspapers and it has been hard to find any events that enable me to get to know Una Dwyer née Sneyd.

T is for Theresa

One of my fourth great aunts was Theresa Susannah Eunice Snell Poole formerly Walker née Chauncy (1807-1876).

Walker Theresa 1846

Theresa Walker in 1846 painted by her sister Martha Berkeley. Oil on metal. In the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Theresa was the oldest daughter of William Snell Chauncy née Brown (1781-1845) and Rose Theresa Chauncy née Lamothe (1748-1818).

Her brother, Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy (1816-1880), wrote a memoir of his sister, Memoir of the late Mrs. G.H. Poole by her brother, first published in 1877.  In 1976 it was reprinted, with a memoir of his wife, as Memoirs of Mrs Poole and Mrs Chauncy. Much of my information about Theresa comes from these memoirs and I quote from them below.

Philip Chauncy in wax

Philip Chauncy modelled in wax by his sister Theresa in about 1860. The model is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

Her father [William Chauncy] was sent from England to be educated by his relative, the Rev. Hugh Stowell, Rector of Balaugh, in the Isle of Man, and used as a child, to play with her mother [Rose Lamothe] when she was ten years old. In after years an attachment sprang up between them, and he frequently visited the island, where they were married in 1804 – the year in which the Bible Society was founded, and in which Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French.

In the course of time her father and mother went to reside at Keynsham, near Bath, and on the 19th February, 1807, was born the subject of this memoir, whom they named Theresa Susannah Eunice.

I believe her mother lost one or two of her first children in early infancy, so that Theresa was the only one living at her birth. On the 18th August, 1813, Martha, now Mrs Berkeley, was born. I [Philip Chauncy] first saw the light on 21st June, 1816, and our mother died after childbirth in 1818. Our father married again in 1819, and had five children by this marriage.

In November, 1820, we went to France, where we resided, chiefly in the south, for four years and nine months. We lived at Angoulême [between Poitiers and Bordeaux] for two-and-a-half years, and while there I became ill, and well do I remember how lovingly my dear sister attended to me.

Theresa’s education was conducted chiefly at home by our father. She was but a brief period at school, for he considered it injurious to the faith and morals of his children to send them to school in France. At Angoulême, M. Labouchér was her music master, but whether for want of taste or perseverence, she never continued the practice of music. She soon became proficient in the French language, and at Mont D’Or [near Lyons] took lessons in Italian.

The memoir goes on with other incidents including hearing the Reverend Caesar Malan [Henri Abraham César Malan (1787–1864), Swiss Calvinist minister] preach at Geneva and losing Theresa’s little Italian greyhound. Theresa was sent on a visit to her grandfather at Wingfield, “where she tendered 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 [Philip] think Theresa must have been at Wingfield for several years”.

In the 1830s Theresa lived in London.

While in London she and Martha became members of Mr Edward Irving’s [(1792-1834), charismatic preacher and prophet] church at 13 Newman-street, Oxford-street, and there, too, they studied the fine arts under good masters – painting, drawing, and modelling; in these, especially the last, she was decidedly clever.

In 1836 Theresa and Martha, who had very recently married Captain Charles Berkley (1801-1856), emigrated in the “John Renwick to the new colony of South Australia, arriving in February 1837, just weeks after its proclamation.

Unfortunately there was “an incompatibility of temper and disposition between the two sisters that rendered their further residence together undesirable”, so that in 1837, Theresa left Adelaide to visit some friends in Tasmania.

On 17 May 1838 at Launceston, Tasmania, Theresa married John Walker (1796-1855), a retired naval officer. They moved to Adelaide, where Walker carried on business as a general merchant and shipping agent. The suburb of Walkerville is named after him.

John Walker 1846 by Martha Berkeley

John Walker painted in 1846 by his sister-in-law Martha Berkeley. The painting is now hanging in the Art Gallery of South Australia.


Kertamaroo, a Native of South Australia, modelled by Theresa Walker in about 1840. This is possibly one of the two models of Aborigines exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1841.


Havering about 1839 pastel on paper by Theresa Walker. Havering was a farm established by the Walkers on the banks of the upper Torrens, Adelaide.

Theresa Walker abt 1840

A wax portrait by Theresa Walker in the Town of Walkerville Civic Collection is of the artist herself, made in 1840. From the Town of Walkerville Collections Policy 2014-2018 : This wax portrait of Theresa Walker is described as neo-classical in style and regarded as one of her finest works. While the association of the Walkers with the settlement of Walkerville was short lived, (as the unfortunate Captain Walker ended up bankrupt and in prison in 1841) nearly a hundred years later in May 1948, the great-nephew of Theresa Walker, Sir Trent de Crespigny, gifted these valuable and rare artworks to the Town of Walkerville. Sir Trent de Crespigny [my great grandfather] stated that these gifts were in recognition of Theresa Walker’s historical connection to the township. These works are of national significance because of their historical association with Australia’s first female colonial sculptor and because they are of great aesthetic merit and provide a rare and unique representation of the people themselves.

Philip emigrated to South Australia in 1839. When he arrived he found the Walkers were doing very well and entertaining in style. Unfortunately, in 1841 John Walker became insolvent, having “failed for a large amount”. He was imprisoned.

In 1846 John and Theresa Walker moved to near Sydney, New South Wales, and then to Tasmania where John Walker became Port officer at Hobart and later, Harbour Master at Launceston. John Walker died in 1855 aged 58.

Theresa had for some time fallen in with the religious tenets of Mr. George Herbert Poole (1806-1869), who was the founder of “The New Church” [Swedenborgian] in Adelaide. He [Poole] had returned from Mauritius, where he had been a professor in the Royal College, to Sydney in January 1850, had left Melbourne for England in 1852, and returned to Launceston in 1856, where they [George Poole and Theresa] were married.

The Pooles first had a farm in Tasmania bought, her brother notes, “with Theresa’s money”. About two years later they sold the farm and moved to Victoria where George Poole tried gold mining. In 1861 the Pooles joined a vineyard enterprise near Barnawartha on the Murray near Albury with, among others,  Theresa’s half brother William Chauncy (1820-1878) who was then at Wodonga. George Poole “was supposed to be a thorough vigneron, as well as a connoisseur of the best methods of tobacco growing.” He was appointed local manager. For a number of years all went well but the scheme collapsed in 1864.

While at Barnawartha Theresa collected some of the first drawings of the Aboriginal artist Tommy McRae (1835-1901) who was also known as Tommy Barnes.


Drawing by Tommy Barnes / an aboriginal of the Upper Murray / in 1862. Given to P. Chauncy / by Mrs G.H. Poole. This drawing showing Dancers with weapons; Hunting and fishing; European house and couple has been woven into a tapestry woven in 2001 for the Centenary of Federation and now in the collection of Museum Victoria.


Ocean perch coloured by Theresa Poole

Lithograph of Ocean Perch (Helicolenus percoides) hand coloured by Theresa Poole for The Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria. From Museum Victoria. in 1861 Theresa was commissioned to hand colour 1000 copies of this plate.

Annie Chauncy

My great great grandmother Annie Chauncy (1857-1883), daughter of Philip, modelled in wax by her aunt Theresa. The cast wax model is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. They believe the model was made about 1860. Annie would have only been 3. I think it possible the model was made in 1864 when Theresa stayed with the family and Annie was 7.


George Poole returned to Mauritius in November 1864 and Theresa followed him in April 1865. They lived there for about four years. While in Mauritius Theresa made wax models of eighty species of fruits. These were displayed at the Paris exhibition of 1867 and she was awarded a silver medal, even though some had been damaged in transit.

In late 1866 the Pooles both became ill with fever in an epidemic. They moved to India and, after a brief return to Mauritius,  in February 1868 moved back to Adelaide. George Poole gained a job as a teacher of a school at Navan near Riverton, South Australia about 100 kilometres north of Adelaide. In 1869 he became ill and died. This left Theresa almost penniless.

In 1870 she stayed for a while with William in Wodonga and then came to live with Philip and help with his children, his wife Susan having died in 1867. She lived with Philip for four years. In 1874 she visited friends in the Western District of Victoria, there taking up the position of Lady Superintendent at the Alexandra College in Hamilton. Later, ill with breast cancer, she went to Melbourne to live. In April 1875 she underwent an operation to remove her breast.

On 17 April 1876, Easter Monday, Theresa died at her house in East Melbourne.  Her brother Philip was with her when she passed away.

She was buried at St Kilda cemetery. Philip arranged for her to be interred, in accordance with her wishes, in  a wicker ‘mortuary cradle’ rather than the conventional coffin.

Theresa had written about mortuary cradles to the Melbourne Herald in September 1875 and apparently had ordered her own.

letter Theresa mortuary cradles

MORTUARY CRADLES. (1875, September 23). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from [Note from Greg: The reference to ‘a Mr Home’ in the “Herald” quote is an allusion to the spiritualist medium D.D. Home, who had frequently demonstrated his power to defy gravity. He could levitate at will, or so it was said, and would hover in the air to write on the ceiling. He once flew out a third-floor window, returning through the window of the next room.]

Theresas coffin

A Novel Coffin. (1875, September 20). The Herald (Melbourne), p. 3. Retrieved rom This was Theresa’s coffin as she referred to the article in her letter of 22 September. In his memoir Philip says he used the coffin for her burial.


Sir Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), an English surgeon and etcher, was a proponent of earth-to-earth burial. In 1875 he wrote a number of letters to The Times and held an exhibition of wicker coffins in London.

Seymour haden

A sketch from The Graphic 17 June 1875 illustrating wicker coffins on show at the London House of the Duke of Sutherland from

Theresa Walker is thought to be Australia’s first female sculptor. She was the first resident Australian artist to be shown in the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Sources and further reading

  • Chauncy, Philip Lamothe Snell Memoirs of Mrs. Poole and Mrs. Chauncy. Lowden, Kilmore, Vic, 1976.
  • Hylton, Jane, Berkeley, Martha, 1813-1899, Walker, Theresa, 1807-1876, Art Gallery of South Australia. Board and South Australia. Women’s Suffrage Centenary Steering Committee Colonial sisters : Martha Berkeley & Theresa Walker, South Australia’s first professional artists. Art Gallery Board of South Australia, Adelaide, 1994.
  • Transcribed journal of Theresa Chauncy of the first three months of her time in the Colony of South Australia digitised by the State Library of South Australia
  • INSOLVENCY COURT. (1841, August 10). Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 – 1844), p. 3. Retrieved from also related articles:
  • Roughley, Julianne, et al. “Design and Art Australia Online.” Theresa Walker :: Biography at :: at Design and Art Australia Online, Design & Art Australia Online, 1995,
  • National Portrait Gallery: Theresa Walker
  • The Town of Walkerville Collections Policy 2014-2018

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