Tuesday 3 July 2012

Taphophile Tragics - an addiction

Every so often th e plot number is chiselled into the concrete foundations of the tombstone.

I first met Emily Amelia Puckeridge on 22nd May this year. "Met" is probably stretching it; became aware of her existence is more like it. I have, you see, a "bucket list". And on that list is the aim of completing my family tree of deceased ancestors. And my starting point has been to try to trace all the lines of my tree back to the United Kingdom. It all becomes a smidge tenuous much earlier than that, I justified to myself. I took the Cole line back past its arrival in Melbourne in 1860. I traced the Tonkin line back past its disembarkation in Melbourne in 1857. I knew that my maternal grandmother had emigrated from Wales to Sydney as a war-bride in 1920. So, just one line to go: the Selby line.

This bunch of lily fronds grow above Amelia's last resting place. Using the Rookwood Deceased Search, I proved the plot next door for John Mangnall was plot 1040

Using a combination of Ancestry.com, the NSW Births, Deaths & Marriages, and the Rookwood Deceased Search I drilled down into my grandfather's past. His mother had died in childbirth in 1904, when Cecil Roy was 6, his father, John William, dying in 1939. But what of his parents? Well Thomas James Selby died in 1917, with his wife, Mary Ann, dying in 1921. Thomas James arrived with his parents and older brother in 1839 on the "Spartan" under the Bounty Migration Scheme. Tick off another one.

How about Mary Ann? She was born a Puckeridge in 1839 in Sydney to Richard and his wife Emily Amelia. So down further I drill. Pretty soon, I discover that Richard was born in Sydney in 1812. My heart did a flutter! Born in Sydney in 1812! Something similar with (Emily) Amelia, his wife. Born in Sydney in 1815! Bloody hell, methinks. Am I stumbling onto something here? If these two were born THAT early on in the life of the new colony (born during the governorship of Lachlan Macquarie) how did THEIR parents get to Sydney?

Richard Puckeridge's father, Joseph, was sentenced to 7 years transportation to the colony in 1801. His wife, Ann Maund, accompanied him, but their two young children perished on the journey. A convict! Yeehah! I have convict ancestry.

But what of Amelia? She was born in 1815 to Susannah Smith who had been transported to Sydney for 14 years penal servitude in 1812, arriving on the "Wanstead" in 1813. Heavens to Betsy! Another one!

And Amelia's father? He was one Thomas Hughes sentenced to 7 years for theft, arriving on the 'Surprize" in 1789. Could I believe what was unfolding before my eyes? A third convict ancestor, and this time one who came over on The Second Fleet. Be still my heart ...

The map from the Anglican Trust proved essential. Section G is down the bottom extreme left.

So, may I introduce to you (Emily) Amelia Puckeridge (nee Hughes) born in 1815, who died in 1895. My great-great-great-grandmother. Who resides in the Old Anglican area of Rookwood Necropolis in Section G, plot 1041. No tombstone, but I rarely expect one now that I am more savvy. Penury runs in our genes. Penury, and a certain disdain for the religious sensibility.

Left: the plot for the Mangnall family was a double check.
Amelia Puckeridge. The photo is undated, however, there is also one of her husband, Richard, and he died in 1881 aged 69. In 1881 Amelia would have been 66 years of age.

This is my contribution to the Taphophile Tragics community.


Thérèse said...

I can understand the addiction.

Gemma Wiseman said...

O how exciting! It feels so good to go on a voyage of discovery and find such incredible connections! There's a real feeling of being an intrinsic part of public history!

Anonymous said...

I love walking cemeteries, especially old ones...

Jim said...

Interesting post.

Joe said...

Good on you Julie. Family tree research is engrossing.

VioletSky said...

I am laughing at your excitement of discovering your convict ancestry!!

Julie said...

Yes, yes. I know. However, it is now regarded as a badge of honour. HOwever, I know my mother, whose line this is, would have been mortified at the very idea. HOw attitudes change in just a single generation.

hamilton said...

I think the further one is from the dubious claim to fame, the more one can embrace it.
Congratulations on your findings!

Deb said...

Delighted your skill and tenacity as a researcher has paid off on your personal journey back in time.

Leeds daily photo said...

It is I think rightly regarded as a badge of honour these days. You cannot I think judge others at a very different time and place. John Smith was transported for 7 years in 1801 for stealing one handkerchief when he was 19, today that would most likely not go to court.

Julie said...

I agree, and I think that is why it is regarded as a badge of honour. It was the well-off getting rid of th hoi-poloi.

I am still trying to unearth what my three convicts were charged with. I know Thomas got 7 years, Susannah 14 years and Joseph 7 years. I am now trying to search for the burial place of Susannah who died in 1820. She was married and died within the records of St Phillips CofE, and I suspect she was interred in the Old Burial Ground as one of the last before it closed. But need proof. Totally engrossing this. As though she is on my shoulder egging me on to discover it all and rejoin here to her family. Amela was 5 when her mother died. Cannot get a bead on her father either. Shall have to go through the Convict Musters in at the State Library. Micro Fiche ... yikes!!

SeaThreePeeO said...

What a fantastic story and a lot of research. I'm sure my husband has some transported convicts in his ancestry too.

Herding Cats

Francisca said...

Your enthusiasm aka addiction is infectious, Julie. Looks like you'll soon be striking this one off your bucket list. Well done!

CaT said...

wow, going so far back... finding those graves. amazing... !
i had to laugh that you are proud that you have convicts in your family.. :D

freefalling said...

Oh far out!
Sooooo jealous.
Convict forefathers!
I don't have any.
Just chinese shepherds, half starved irish and a violin teacher.
Sooo jealous you can go right back to the second fleet.

diane b said...

You are a real Aussie, going back so many generations. Congratulations on your interesting find. You must spend hours researching these histories. I wish I had your tenacity and brains. I love the name 'Emily Amelia Puckeridge" she sounds like a character out of Jane Austin.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Fantastic! I was thrilled when I found one in my lot too. And one who arrived as a free man but turned to crime. Might be more yet.

What is more fascinating is how in a few generations everyone became upright citizens.

My mum was also a tad concerned at what I might find when I started researching family history ... "Remember my family were not Christians" she said with worried voice.

Unknown said...

Hi Julie,
I am descendant from Amelia and Richard. Nice to meet another cousin :)


Julie said...

Hrllo Melinda

I am descended from Mary-Ann Puckeridge (1839) who married James Thomas Selby. She is the older sister of your Sarah (1842). I have visited some Drennan graves in Rookwood.

I would be in contact with you, but cannot find an email address. Mine is easy to find on this blog, so please be in touch.