Off to Cornwall

On our first day in England we collected our hire car and drove south to Looe in Cornwall via Southampton, Fordingbridge and Bridport.

We had been warned about the traffic but the roads were very easy although travelling into Southampton was slow.

In Southampton we admired the docks from which some of our forebears left England. They would have been much busier in the past. (My ancestors were never busy, I’m sure.)



Greg’s PhD thesis dealt with the writings of James Curtis, a Ballarat spiritualist who came from Fordingbridge in the New Forest. We saw the house where Curtis was born and raised.

We enjoyed afternoon tea in Fordingbridge.

My step grandfather George Symes grew up in Bridport in Dorset where his father, who had served in the army in India, ran a small pub. The pub still stands.

We crossed the Tamar into Cornwall

Our final destination was Looe in Cornwall. We had been warned about the narrow lane :

As you can see from the photos, we are lucky enough to enjoy a stunning view of the picturesque harbour from all the rooms on the front of the house and the front decking. However, it’s necessary to negotiate a very steep, narrow and windy private lane to access the house (you have to pay for those views one way or another!). … This very typically ‘Cornish’ lane [is] very tight and not for the faint-hearted.

The views were terrific but the warning was serious, our dashboard lit up and the warning sounds were very musical.



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Singapore visit

In April we stopped over in Singapore on the way to England.

Our flight took us over central Australia where we could see Uluru from the air. I managed to photograph the Olgas (Kata Tjuta).

On the drive to our hotel, we were struck by all the flowers lining the roads.

Our hotel room was on the 30th floor with most impressive views. Dachshunds were not welcome though.

The next day we had breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam which has been operating since 1919 and claims to be Singapore’s oldest existing Hainanese coffee shop.


Our activities for the day included




While there were glimpses of colonial Singapore I don’t think Orfeur Cavenagh would recognise the city. It has changed enormously since the 1860s.


The next day we continued our journey to England. The terminal at Changi airport was most impressive. We didn’t give in to retail temptations, but we admired the koi and the flowers. It was raining and the butterflies were staying out of the deluge.

Family history travels

Our holiday in Britain took us away from home for 40 days.

We flew 21,000 miles to London and back.

In our trip from Land’s End to John o’Groats and many places between we drove more than 4,200 miles.


We visited:

  • 23 National Trust properties
  • 8 cathedrals
  • 15 other churches and abbeys (at least)
  • 50 other places of significance (at least)
  • 45 places directly associated with our family history
  • 10 major art galleries

I took 8,946 photographs and bought 13.8 kg of guide books.


I met thirteen of my cousins.

Most of our trip went to plan, though I am sad to say that I got the date wrong and missed seeing some of my relatives at Henley on Thames. This was my fault entirely.

The preparation I did in researching places and the associated family history was invaluable.  Over the coming months I will write up our travels in more detail.

Marylebone 20190528_124138

A grave marker for my 8th great grandparents in Marylebone

Georgiana Caroline Barbara Mainwaring

The wife of my first cousin 5 times removed. A fascinating story retold by the Friends of Teignmouth Cemetery.

Teignmouth Tales from the Grave

What an incredible story we have unearthed today!

On 6 January 1842, 16,000 members of the British Kabul force, the `Army of the Indus’, fled from Kabul under a “shameful capitulation and the illusion of safe-conduct” promised by the eastern Afghan tribes. One week later, on 13 January, Surgeon William Brydon rode alone into Jellalabad, apparently the only British survivor. It has been described as the worst British military disaster until the fall of Singapore a century later and upto that time the greatest defeat ever inflicted on the British by an Asian enemy.

Grave of Georgiana Caroline Barbara Mainwaring

On 15th August 2017 Geoff Wood, a member of the Friends of Teignmouth Cemetery, discovered the overgrown grave of Georgiana Caroline Barbara Mainwaring. She was the wife of Major-General Edward Rowland Mainwaring of the Bengal Army. On her headstone she is decribed as “the last of the lady…

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A to Z 2019 reflections

This year was my sixth A to Z. Each year I always promise myself I will be better prepared and each April I am busy writing through the month. This year I was probably better organised.

I followed several blogs through the month and learned a lot about

I essentially write for myself and my family. I am pleased that cousins and others read my posts and find them interesting. I gain a lot from researching the posts. I find my husband Greg’s editing very valuable as he not only corrects my grammar, improves my style but asks important focussing questions.

This year’s posts were to prepare for our trip to England, Wales and Scotland via Singapore. The preparation has paid off 🙂 I am enjoying knowing some family history on our travels and what to look for.

I will write up our adventures in more detail when we get back but we have so far visited

A full list of my A to Z posts is at A to Z challenges

Z is for zealot

My ninth great grandfather Charles Chauncy (1592-1672) was a non-conformist Divine, at one time imprisoned for his views by Archbishop Laud, who emigrated to America and later became a long-serving President of Harvard College.


Harvard president Charles Chauncy

In “Highways and Byways in Hertfordshire” (1902), H. W. Tompkins mentions Charles Chauncy in connection with Ardeley Bury:

To mention Ardeley, or to think of Ardeley Bury, is to call to mind the Chauncys, a good Hertfordshire family, whose talents were exercised in several spheres of usefulness. First, though not foremost from the standpoint of literary or historic importance, was old Charles, somewhat renowned in his day as a Nonconformist divine. Where he was born I am unable to say ; he was baptised in the church here on 5th November, 1592. He was an indefatigable reader and student, and was eminent as an oriental and classical scholar. For some time he gave the benefit of his learning to the townsmen of Ware ; but managed to fall foul of Archbishop Laud, as so many pastors did, and was summoned to appear before the High Commission Court on two occasions. I believe the precise nature of his misdemeanours, theological or political, is known to the learned, with whom I leave them. However trivial we might deem them now, they were heinous offences in the eyes of Laud, and Charles Chauncy was deprived of his living and placed in prison. I am sorry to remember that he was but a weak-kneed brother, and presently, finding that to him, at least, stone walls did make a prison, he submitted in the most abject manner before the mitred bigot. For this humiliation he never forgave himself. In 1637 he landed at Plymouth in New England, where he became for a short time an assistant pastor, going from thence to a town called Scituate. There he preached for several years, and then, the Puritans having triumphed over their enemies, the men of Ware besought their pastor to return. But his work now lay elsewhere. He was almost on the point of embarking for England when he was invited to become President of Harvard College — a position for which he was eminently qualified — and in November, 1654, he was installed as the second President of that now famous institution. At Harvard he laboured for the rest of his life, and dying there in 1672, was buried at New Cambridge. He was a rare and racy preacher of the old sort, whose mouth uttered quaint sayings in abundance, and who kept tongue and pen alike busy. The Plain Doctrine of the Justification of a Sinner in the Sight of God, was one of his productions — doubtless a pithy, profitable, and long discourse, which probably no man or woman now in Hertfordshire has ever read, and which rests in a few libraries in a repose almost as deep as the bones of its author.

Charles Chauncy graduated from Cambridge in 1613, and became a fellow of his college, Trinity College, and professor of Hebrew and Greek. In 1627 he was appointed Vicar of Ware, Hertfordshire, and from 1633 to 1637 vicar at Marston St Lawrence, Northamptonshire.

Chauncy had Puritanical opinions that placed him in opposition to the church hierarchy, including its most senior member, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. He asserted in a sermon that “idolatry was admitted into the church” and he opposed, as a “snare to men’s consciences” placing a barrier – the altar rail – around the communion table. He was suspended by Archbishop Laud for refusing to perform his duty to read from the pulpit the “Book of Sports”, which set out permissible Sunday recreations. He was brought before the Court of High Commission in 1629 and again in 1634. In 1634 he was imprisoned. He made a formal recantation in 1637 which – it is said – he later regretted.

In 1638 Charles Chauncy emigrated to America. From 1638 to 1641 he was an associate pastor at Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, the Plymouth church community was dissatisfied with Chauncy’s advocacy of baptism of infants by immersion. From 1641 to 1654 he served as pastor at Scituate, Massachusetts. From 1654 until his death in 1672 he was President of Harvard College.

Charles Chauncy and his wife Catherine Chauncy nee Eyre (1604 – 1667) had six sons and at least two daughters. All six sons were said to have been “bred to the ministry and graduates of Harvard”. I have previously written about Ichabod, their third child and second son.

I think Charles Chauncy is close to the definition of a zealot: a person who has very strong opinions about something, and tries to make other people have them too. Chauncy only seemed to compromise reluctantly.

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I is for Ichabod


Y is for Yorks and Lancs

My step grandfather was George William Symes (1896-1980), a soldier, who retired with the rank of Major-General.

George Symes enlisted in the British Army in 1915 at the age of nineteen. In June he was commissioned with a war service commission (for the duration of the war) into the Durham Light Infantry as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was seconded to the Machine Gun Corps on 22 February 1916, and was sent to France and Belgium on 23 February 1916. On 1 November 1916 he was promoted to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant. On 21 June the following year George Symes was granted a regular commission in the York and Lancaster Regiment, with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.


George Symes during WWI

Between WW1 and WW2 George remained a professional soldier. At the outbreak of the Second World War he was rapidly promoted, appointed Major-General in command of the 70th Division in Africa and then in India. The 70th Division was broken up, however, to form part of the “Chindit” Special Force under Orde Wingate, designed to operate behind the Japanese lines in Burma. George became deputy, but was stationed at New Delhi. He held command of Lines-of-Communications divisions in France and later in Burma, and after the war he was commander of the South-West District in England.

In 1949 he resigned his commission and emigrated to Australia.


George Symes in 1941

George was colonel of the York and Lancaster Regiment from 1946 to 48.

In 1968 the British army was reorganised. The York and Lancaster regiment was one of two infantry regiments that chose to be disbanded rather than amalgamated with another regiment.

When the regiment was disbanded George purchased some memorabilia including a drum.

York and Lancs drum

On his death George Symes left a large sum to the Regimental Chapel for the York and Lancashire in Sheffield Cathedral, England. The ceiling of the chapel is a memorial to George and his first wife Katherine.


Screen of bayonets and swords in St George’s Chapel Sheffield Cathedral. Photograph from Wikipedia taken by user Oosoom license Cc-by-sa-3.0

Sheffield Cathedral memorial plaque

Memorial to George William Symes in Sheffield Cathedral. Photo from Wikipedia, taken by user Author Andrewrabbott and licensed CC BY-SA 4.0


There is a regimental museum and archives at Clifton Park, Rotherhamregimental museum and archives at Clifton Park, Rotherham.

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X is for excess exiting England

Almost all of my forebears and Greg’s came from England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales in the nineteenth century. My mother’s family immigrated from Germany to Australia immediately after World War II.


The Last of England by Ford Madox Brown, 1855. Oil on panel. Original in the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.

For many of them it is hard to say why they came; for some the reasons are easier to understand.

Below is a summary, arranged by decade, of what I know about our family’s emigration.


The first of my forebears to migrate to Australia was my fifth great grandfather George Taylor (1758 – 1828), who arrived in Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen’s Land, in 1823. With him was his wife Mary née Low (1765 -1850), three of his sons, and one of his daughters. My fourth great grandmother, his daughter Isabella Hutcheson née Taylor (1794-1876), followed ten years later, arriving about 1833. Other family members followed.

The Taylors had lived since about 1670 on a farm of about 700 acres near Abernethy, tenants of the Earl of Mansfield. In “Cherry Stones”, Helen Hudson wrote that the Taylors realised a considerable amount of money by selling various goods, stock, farm implements, and other property, and were granted land in Tasmania. George Taylor and the first of the Taylor emigrants sailed from Leith, the port of Edinburgh.


Greg’s 3rd great grandmother Caroline Clarke was born in New South Wales about 1835. We know nothing about her parents John Clark(e) or Hannah Sline. They were not probably not convicts, for convicts are well documented and I have not been able to discover anything about John and Hannah from the convict records.

My 3rd great grandfather Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy (1816 – 1880) arrived in Adelaide, South Australia on the “Dumfries” in October 1839, which sailed from London in June. Philip met his first wife Charlotte Kemmis (1816 – 1847) on board. They married in 1841.

My 3rd great grandmother Susan Augusta Mitchell (1828 – 1867) arrived in Perth, Western Australia, with her father the Reverend William Mitchell (1803 – 1870) and her step mother, William’s second wife. William’s three children by his first wife had been born in India. The family returned to England, where she died. William remarried and returned to India. There three more children were born. The family again returned to England and William left his employment with the Church Missionary Society. William later worked for the Western Australian Missionary Society, which became known as the Colonial and Continental Church Society. On 4 August 1838, the Reverend and Mrs Mitchell, four children, and a governess arrived at the Swan River colony, Western Australia, on the “Shepherd”. They had left Portsmouth at the beginning of April.

On 29 October 1839 my 3rd great grandfather Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (1819 – 1867) arrived in Melbourne on the “David Clark” from Greenock, Scotland. They had sailed on 15 June 1839. The voyage, via Rio de Janeiro, took five months. The “David Clark” had been chartered by the government to bring the first bounty immigrants from Scotland to Melbourne. Samuel Hawkins was aged 20, a storekeeper from Edinburgh. He had brothers in New South Wales but he made his own way in what was later to become the colony of Victoria.

Greenock 1838

Image of Greenock included in the Gazetteer of Scotland, 1838

In 1835 my third great grandparents Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore (1811 – 1891) and Mary Cudmore née Nihill (1811 – 1893) married on 15 January in County Limerick, not long before embarking on the “John Denniston”, which left Liverpool on 11 February. They arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on 7 June, after a voyage of more than four months. Other members of the Nihill family had sailed with the newly-married couple: Mary’s mother Dymphna Nihill née Gardiner (1790-1866), two of Mary’s six sisters,
Rebecca (1817-1901) and Sarah (1826-1915), and Mary’s brother James Nihill later Niall (1823-1877). Mary’s father Daniel (1761-1846) and Mary’s other four sisters arrived in Hobart separately six months later.


We don’t know when Greg’s third great grandmother Matilda Priscilla Mogridge (1825 – 1868) arrived in Australia. In 1842 she married John Narroway Darby (born 1821) One month before her death she married a second time, to David Hughes (1822 – 1895) with whom she had lived for several decades. She had a daughter born either in New Zealand or in Tasmania in 1845, and she had another daughter born in Geelong in 1850. According to her death certificate she had been 22 years in Victoria when she died in 1868 so it seems she had arrived about 1846. She evidently lived in New Zealand for about three years before she arrived in Victoria.

My husband’s third great grandparents Thomas Edwards (1794-1871) and Mary née Gilbart (1805-1867) from St Erth in Cornwall emigrated on the “Lysander”, sailing from from Plymouth on 21 September 1848 and arriving at Port Phillip on 13 January 1849. They were accompanied by their eight children. The youngest, Francis, was an infant born in January 1848; the oldest was aged twenty-two. In 1837 Mary’s sister Sarah (1808-1854), had married Francis Tuckfield (1808-1865), a Methodist missionary to the Aborigines at Buntingdale near Geelong. The Tuckfields had been in the colony since 1838.

On 20 January 1849 Samuel Hughes (1827 – 1896), one of my 3rd great grandfathers, arrived in South Australia on the “Gunga”, which had left Liverpool on 16 September 1848. His parents Edward Hughes (1803 – 1876) and Elizabeth Hughes nee Jones (1798 – 1865) came to Australia later but I have not been able to find their immigration record. Their arrival was after 1851. Elizabeth died in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, and is buried in Brighton cemetery. Edward returned to England and died 4 May 1876 at South Norwood near London. A death notice in the Melbourne Argus stated he was late of Sandhurst [Bendigo] Victoria.

My 3rd great grandmother Sally Plaisted (1826 – 1900) arrived in Adelaide South Australia in April 1850 on the barque “Rajah”, which departed London on 27 November 1840. Sally, twenty-three, was travelling with her parents, John Plaisted (1800 – 1858 and Ann Plaisted nee Green (1801 – 1882). Also on board were Sally’s five brothers and Ann Plaisted’s sister Abigail Green (1797 – 1880). John Plaisted’s sister Tabitha and Ann Plaisted’s brother and sister had already emigrated to Adelaide. Although I can’t be certain, it seems likely that the Plaisteds came to Australia for its better climate. John Plaisted was suffering from tuberculosis.

My 3rd great grandmother Jeanie Hutcheson (1824 – 1864) accompanied her widowed mother, Isabella Hutcheson nee Taylor (1794 – 1876) and youngest brother David Hutcheson from Scotland to Tasmania in about 1844. In 1846 Jeanie, her mother Isabella, and her three brothers, crossed Bass Strait to the Portland Bay District on the “Minerva”.

My 3rd great grandfather Gordon Mainwaring (1817 – 1872) arrived in Adelaide on 10 April 1840 on the “Eamont” from Calcutta. He was known in the family as ‘the remittance man’: his father sent him money to stay abroad.

My 3rd great grandmother Mary Hickey (1819 – 1890) came to Adelaide with her sister, and her brother and his wife and their small child. They sailed from Greenock via Cork on the “Birman”, arriving 27 December 1840. Mary’s brother died on the voyage and her sister-in-law and nephew returned to Ireland. I have DNA evidence that Mary’s nephew later emigrated to America.


George Edward Young (1826 – 1890), from Liverpool, had arrived in Victoria by 1853, probably in the rush for gold. In Australia he saw out his days as miner; I don’t know what his trade or profession had been in England. I don’t know anything about his parents and family.

John Way (1835 – 1911) and Sarah Daw (1837 – 1895) married only a few days before their departure on 6 March 1854. They sailed on the “Trafalgar” from Plymouth to South Australia.

James Cross (1828 – 1882) arrived in Victoria, probably for the gold rushes by 1853. He was from Liverpool. His brother Frederick Beswick Cross (1833 – 1910) arrived in Australia in 1856.

Ellen Murray (1837 – 1901) sailed from Southhampton on the “Persian” on 2 January 1854. With her was her sister Bridget (born 1830). Ellen and Bridget were from Dublin. It would seem that while on board she made a friend of passenger named Margaret Smyth (1834 – 1897) from Bailieborough, Cavan, Ireland. Ellen’s son and Margaret’s daughter, both born in Australia, married in 1886, thirty two years after the voyage of the “Persian”.

John Plowright (1831 – 1910) was a seaman from King’s Lynn, Norfolk. On his admission to Maryborough Hospital in 1873 that he stated that he had arrived in the colony on the “Speculation” from London about 1853 and that his occupation was mariner. He wasn’t listed as a deserter; perhaps he left legally. The “Speculation” had sailed from London on 19 May, arriving in Victoria 21 September.

My husband’s great grandfather John Morley (1823-1888), John’s wife Eliza née Sinden (1823-1908) and their two children, Elizabeth aged three and William aged one emigrated to Australia in 1853, arriving in Melbourne on the “Ida” on 12 July. The ship had sailed from Liverpool on March 25.

My husband’s great great grandmother Caroline Ralph (1850-1896) came to Australia at the age of four with her parents, Francis Ralph (1823-1915) and Caroline née Rodgers (1825-1893), and her brother, John Ralph (1848-1882). The family arrived in Portland, Victoria on 21 November 1854 on the “Bloomer” after a voyage of 124 days. They had left Liverpool on 20 July.

My 3rd great grandparents Philip Robert Champion Crespigny and his wife Charlotte Frances née Dana, together with two children, Ada and Philip, and a female servant arrived in Australia on the “Cambodia”, a 914 ton ship which had sailed from Plymouth on 4 December 1851. They left a seven month infant son behind with Philip’s
parents, presumably because they did not think he would survive the voyage. Philip and Charlotte probably came to Australia on the recommendation of Charlotte’s brothers, who were in charge of the colony’s native police force. Charlotte’s first husband was pursuing a legal claim against Philip which made it impossible for them to stay in England.

In 1854 my 3rd great grandmother Margaret Rankin née Gunn formerly Budge (1819 – 1863) emigrated from Wick, Caithness, to Adelaide, South Australia, sailing on the “Dirigo”. She had remarried, to Ewan Rankin (1825- ?), one month before their departure. Margaret and Ewen were accompanied by Margaret’s four surviving children, aged from three to thirteen, from her first marriage. 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.

My great great grandfather Wentworth Cavenagh (1822 – 1895) arrived in Adelaide, South Australia on 22 January 1853 on the “Queen of Sheba”. It was reported in 1892 when he left South Australia for England that

“when eighteen years of age [about 1840] he left home [Hythe, Kent, England or Wexford Ireland where his family came from and where he had gone to school] for Canada, where he was engaged for some years farming. He subsequently relinquished this occupation and started coffee planting in Ceylon. Afterwards he tried to obtain a Government appointment at Calcutta, but was unsuccessful. Attracted by a Government advertisement he came to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in 1852. Thence he went to the Bendigo diggings, and from there he came to South Australia and started farming at Peachy Belt.”


Greg’s great great grandfather William Sullivan (born 1839) was in Australia when he married in Geelong in 1862. He said he was born in London. We know nothing about his emigration.


Henry Dawson (1864 – 1929), my husband’s great great grandfather, arrived in about 1888. He travelled as a single man aged about 24; the rest of his immediate family stayed in England. I don’t know of any family he might have had in Australia nor why he emigrated.


Emigration ports: Greenock near Glasgow, Leith near Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Southampton, Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Cork

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W is for Windle

My husband Greg’s 3rd great grandfather James Cross (1791 – 1853) was from Windle, near St Helens, about ten miles from Liverpool in England.

Windle map

Map showing Windle, St Helens, Hardshaw, Eccleston, Prescot, Penketh, Hale, Halewood, and20 Grove Street, Liverpool

James Cross married Ann Bailey (1791 – 1861) on 28 December 1819 at Hale. Their marriage was announced in the Lancaster Gazette on 8 January 1820:

“Same day [On Monday se’nnight], at Hale, Mr James Cross, of Penketh Brewery, to Miss Bailey, Halewood.”

Their oldest son John (1820 – 1867) was baptised at Prescot on 28 December 1820, a year after their marriage. The family was then living at Penketh, on the upper Mersey. James’s occupation was ‘Brewer’.

The Penketh brewery was later acquired by a Methodist family called Parker. Not wanting a brewery in their village, it was turned into a tannery. The buildings were demolished in 1996.

Penketh tannery formerly brewery 1996 geograph-1239396-by-Brian-Balfe

Looking East along Tannery Lane Penketh,at the old Tannery buildings. Photographed July 1996.

Thomas Bailey Cross, the second son of James and Ann, was born on 21 April 1822 at Windle and baptised on 13 July 1823 at St Mary, Hale. On this occasion the occupation of his father James was given as ‘road surveyor’.

Ellen Cross was born 9 February 1824 and baptised at St Mary’s Hale. Her father’s occupation was road surveyor and their abode St Helens.

Ann Jane Cross was born 28 June 1826 and baptised at Prescot on 16 July. James was a road surveyor and their abode was Hardshaw.

Greg’s great great grandfather James Cross (1828 – 1882) was born 28 March 1828 at Windle. He was baptised 4 September 1828 in the parish of St Helens. He is recorded as the son of James and Ann Cross; his father’s occupation was given as Surveyor and the address as Eccleston.

William Grapel Cross was baptised at Liverpool St Peter on 19 October 1832, the son of James and Ann of Eccleston Parish of Prescot. James’s occupation was agent. Thirteen children were baptised there on that day.

Frederick Beswick Cross was baptised 12 August 1835 at St Helens, Lancashire. The family was living at Eccleston and James’s occupation was agent.

On the 1841 census James, Ann and their children James, Thomas and Frederick were living at Eccleston. The occupation of James senior is given as farmer. They were neighbours of a land surveyor named Sylvester Mercer, aged 60, and his family. ‘Mercer’ was used as a second forename in some members of later generations of the Cross family.

On the 1851 census James, Ann, and their children Thomas, William, and Frederick were living in Liverpool at 20 Grove Street. James was a retired farmer, Thomas was a coffee and sugar merchant, William was a clerk to a coffee and sugar merchant, and Frederick was apprentice to a Tailor [or so it appears; I am not sure of the transcription].

Cross Liverpool 20 Grove Street

20 Grove Street, Liverpool from Google maps


James died in 1853 and Ann in 1861. Their son James emigrated to Australia in the early 1850s.


    • Baptism records
    • 1841 census: Class: HO107; Piece: 516; Book: 5; Civil Parish: Prescot; County: Lancashire;Enumeration District: 14; Folio: 40; Page: 5; Line: 1; GSU roll: 306903
    • 1851 census: Class: HO107; Piece: 2183; Folio: 423;Page: 34; GSU roll: 87185-87187


V is for volunteer

Between 1914 and 1918, 350,000 Australians enlisted in the armed services to fight for their country and the Empire.

Among these were my husband’s grandfather, Cecil Young (1898 – 1975) and his brother, John Percy (Jack) Young (1896 – 1918).

Both men and both their parents were been born in Australia.

When war threatened in August 1914, Australia, a Dominion of the British Empire, knew she was bound to join in. On 31 July 1914 in an election speech at Colac in Victoria, the Opposition Leader Andrew Fisher (ALP) famously declared that ‘… Australians will stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to our last man and our last shilling’. A few days later, on 4 August 1914, Britain declared war against Germany. On 5 August, attempting to prevent a German ship escaping from Port Phillip, Australia fired her first shot against the enemy.

In October 1916 Jack Young, aged 20, signed up, becoming, as a member of the Australian Imperial Force, a soldier of Australia and the Empire.

The war was not going well for the Allies.

On 19-20 July that year Australians had suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Fromelles in France. The cost in Australian lives was the highest in any 24 hour period of the war. Among those killed in the fighting was Jack’s half-brother Leslie Leister.

From 23 July to 3 September 1916 Australian forces suffered badly at the Battle of Pozières in northern France. The Australian official historian Charles Bean wrote that Pozières ridge “is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth.” Among those killed were Wes Rowlands of Homebush, an acquaintance of Jack and Cecil.

The slaughter in France left the Australian forces under-strength, and it was widely believed that conscription was necessary to maintain troop levels. This was view of the Australian Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, which the losses at Pozières seemed to confirm. Not all Federal politicians supported Hughes, however, and the matter was put to a
plebiscite. After a divisive public debate and strong campaigning on both sides, on 28 October 1916, the “No” vote narrowly prevailed

Jack Young’s enlistment – he signed his attestation papers on 3 October 1916 – came at the height of this conscription debate.

Jack Young was not yet 21 and would not have been conscripted anyway.

After 6 weeks in the AIF Signal School Jack sailed on the ‘Medic’, leaving on 16 December and disembarking in Plymouth 18 February 1917. He was first at Hurdcott camp, 7 miles from Salisbury. A few weeks later he marched out to Sutton Mandeville, 15 miles west. There was a camp at Fovant nearby. From Fovant he was transferred on 7 April to Durrington 20 miles to the north-east; the military settlement of Larkhill is nearby. On 1 January 1918 he sailed for France.

Fovant badges AIF on right

Fovant Badges The badges were cut into the chalk hills near the miltary camp and originate from 1916. From the left:- The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, 6th London Regiment and the Australian Commonwealth Military Forces.

Fovant AIF badge

The Australian Rising Sun emblem cut in the side of a hill. Australian War Memorial ID number H13577


Group portrait of the Signal Section of the 10th Infantry Brigade, outside the Chateau at Querrieu, 7 July 1918. Pte J. Young is in the back row eighth from the left (fourth from the right). Australian War Memorial photograph E03830

On 26 August, wounded in a mustard gas attack, Jack was admitted to a Line of Communications hospital. On 28 August he was invalided to England and admitted to Beaufort Hospital near Bristol.

On 26 September Jack was discharged on furlough from Beaufort hospital, but on 6 November he was in hospital again, the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital Dartford. At 11:40 a.m. on 9 November 1918, two days before the war ended, Jack died of pneumonia. He is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey.

Brookwood cemetery January 1919 4168887

Wooden crosses mark graves in the AIF section at Brookwood Cemetery January 1919. Photograph from the Australian War Memorial Accession Number D00190

I have written about Cecil’s war experience at Cecil Young and family: Cecil’s early life up to end World War I . I have previously remembered Jack at John Percival Young (1896 – 1918).