Week 13 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Sisters

Week 13 (29 Mar – 4 Apr) prompt is Sisters

As I only have a brother, I decided to write this weeks story about sisters who married brothers or at least had a baby with one in my Shingles family tree!

Shingles/Alford connection

The closest sister/brother relationship to myself was my 2nd great grandfather having a child out of wedlock with his sister-in-laws sister!  This led to first cousins marrying and not just one but two.  Let me explain!

Frederick Shingles , the third child of James & Mary Ann, married his bride Mary Alford on 5 May 1881 in Maffra, a small country town in the Gippsland region of Victoria.

Frederick & Mary on their Wedding Day

Arthur Shingles, the fourth child and my 2xgreat grandfather, had a relationship with Elizabeth Jane Alford (Mary’s younger sister) which led to the birth of a child in 1884.  Although the birth certificate of that child read as though they had married, no record has ever been found. 

Elizabeth went to Tasmania to stay with her uncle Henry Alford, and gave birth to Georgina on 2 February 1884 in Launceston. In July 1885 Elizabeth married a local boy, James Goodwin and by the time they had their first child, they were living in her home-town of Maffra. 

Shingles/Goodwin connection

Fast forward many years to Frederick and Mary Shingles, daughters Maude and Doris marrying Elizabeth and James Goodwin sons, Walter and Norman.  Although it was nearly not the case for Maude as she had been engaged to a man who unfortunately died in World War 1.

Maude and Walter (left) married in February 1917 while Doris and Norman (right) followed in April 1920.

The Shingles/Goodwin connection did not stop there.  An affair between John Robert Shingles (brother of Maude and Doris) and Mary Elizabeth Goodwin (sister of Walter and Norman) led to the birth of Norman Leslie Goodwin in May 1926. Norman was unofficially adopted by his aunt and uncle, Maude & Walter.  

Shingles/Davies connection

It seemed the Shingles brothers like to marry or have a relationship with sisters!  Like the Alford sisters, the Davies sisters saw one being married and one having a child out of wedlock! 

Alfred Shingles, the eighth child of James and Mary Ann, married Grace Annie Davies in April 1898. 

Meanwhile Harold Shingles, the thirteenth (and last) child was courting Grace’s younger sister Sophia Mabel Davies. In 1906 the relationship led to the birth of a son Harold Jnr. Just like Arthur and Elizabeth they didn’t marry either. In fact Harold fled to New Zealand!  The whole sordid tale was reported in the local paper in April 1906 when Sophia took Harold to court for pre-maternity expenses.

I suppose relationships like this are bound to happen when you live in an extremely small town where it would be slim pickings to find a partner who isn’t related to you in some way!

Week 12 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Joined Together

Week 12 (22-28 Mar) prompt is Joined Together

Well this one was pretty much a no brainer this week as I recently had the pleasure of watching my first born marry the love of his life.

Jaidyn Thomas Payne and Claire Cassandra Gurney were married at the Old Stone House in Bungendore on Friday 18 February 2022.

Having met through a friend, Maddie (one of the bridesmaids) they became official with a midnight New Years Eve kiss in 2018.

By November that year they were living together in Wentworth Falls, a beautiful little town in the Blue Mountains near Sydney.  Jaidyn was working at Coles in Katoomba and studying with Macquarie University while Claire was also studying and working in Richmond at a before/after school center.

As a result of the devastating NSW fires over Christmas of 2019/2020, Jaidyn and Claire moved to Nowra to live with us in April 2020. Not long after moving in Jaidyn had a brush with illness which was luckily ‘cured’ quickly.

While visiting Canberra for a weekend, Jaidyn popped the question and they became officially engaged on 1 August 2020. 

In order to take up the opportunity of becoming a nurse, Jaidyn and Claire moved to Canberra in November 2020 living in Isabella Plains.  Claire was working as a medical receptionist and Jaidyn eventually got a full-time position with The Butcher Shop at Erindale Shopping Center.  Deciding to swap to Occupational Therapy, Claire started with Canberra University in February 2021. They moved to Crace in July 2021.  

Having decided that they were going to stay in the area they purchased their first house on 20 September 2021 in Braidwood and moved in to 2/205 Wallace Street on 16 October 2021. Due to COVID-19, this was the first time Jaidyn had actually seen his future home.  Claire endured two weeks of lock-down just to have an inspection of the home before they purchased it.

Originally the wedding was set for 22 November 2021 but once again due to COVID-19 restrictions the date was moved to 18 February 2022. 

So on the beautiful sunny Friday morning, Jaidyn and the beautifully pregnant Claire said I do in front of family and friends at the Old Stone House in Bungendore.   I was honored to be asked to do a reading during the ceremony and selected the following poem by Wilferd Arlan Peterson.

The reception was held at the Norton Road Winery in Wamboin not far from the Old Stone House. 

In July 2022, Jaidyn and Claire will be joined together again by the birth of their first child!

Week 11 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Flowers

Week 11 (15-21 Mar) prompt is Flowers.

Firstly I have to acknowledge that this is the furthest along I have gotten since I started in 2018. Yeah me!!!

I could have written about the times I have gotten flowers from my husband but that would be a really short story.  I have only ever received flowers from him twice in our marriage so far.  Around 4 Aug 1997 and 15 Sep 1999 – the birth of our two children Jaidyn & Tahlia. LOL

So instead I just went to my family tree in Ancestry, clicked on the Tree Search button and typed in Rose. Because as we know, thanks to Shakespeare, that ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’  Mind you in this case I did want there to be a Rose!

The very first name that popped up was my maternal-great aunt although technically she was not born with the name Rose but she did die with it.

Ellen Maud McEwan was born in 1900 in Maffra, Victoria to Peter McEwan and Ellen Catherine McCausland.  She was the seventh out of twelve children born and the third daughter after my maternal great grandmother, Ada Ellen McEwan.

As the McEwan’s were the first family I researched I had created an excel spreadsheet with all the births, deaths and marriages information from the Victoria BDM website. It was then that I found the name Rose.  She was married under Maud Rose McEwan and then died under the full name of Rose Ellen Maude Flynn.

I was a little surprised to find that she was 43 years old when she married New Zealander Charles John (Jack) Flynn who was about 48 years old but that is debatable and another story!

I did get both their death certificates and it didn’t show any other marriages for Charles which would have accounted for their ‘late in life’ marriage.  Both certificates only listed the marriage to each other with no children.

Now I had the basic information for Rose it was back to searching Ancestry for the Australia Electoral Rolls.  Imagine my surprise when I found the earliest appearance of Rose’s name in the list was 1924, well that wasn’t the surprise as you had to be over 18 to vote, it was the surname – Flynn.  Although they were not formally married until 1943, Rose was using the surname Flynn from at least 1924 for the rest of her life.  

Charles died on 11 Mar 1970 at their home in Fitzroy and Rose died in Moe on 30 Dec 1976 so I will never know the details of their ‘defacto relationship’ or their marriage many years later. 

I only started researching my family in 2009 many years after Rose had  passed.  As Rose’s sister, Ada (my great grandmother) died two years after my grandfather John Shingles was born and John died a year before I was born.  I never knew that side of the family at all. I didn’t even know the family name McEwan existed.  The only surnames I knew growing up were Shingles and Snowdon from my mothers parents.

I was most intrigued when my mother mentioned that her grandmother’s surname was McEwan.  It started me down the road of genealogy and at the time I seemed to be the only one on Ancestry tracing that line. Years down the track there are quite a few people now researching and some even have the McEwan surname but unfortunately none of us could solve the mystery of why Rose and Charles waited so long to marry.  Like so many other details in the McEwan family tree that will just have to remain a mystery. 

Like why Charles is buried in an unmarked grave in Melbourne General Cemetery but Rose is buried with her brother, Allan Arthur McEwan in Yallourn Cemetery.

Week 10 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Worship

Week 10 (8-14 Mar) prompt is Worship

This week was quite an easy choice.  When your 3xgreat grandparents donate the bricks for the building of a new Methodist Church in their home town then it’s a non brainer! Although after many hours of combing through articles on the Trove website, I have been unable to re-find the article I remember reading which reported that James donated the bricks.  I have no idea why I would not have saved the article like I have all the rest.  Hopefully I will find it again one day!

Although James and Mary Ann Shingles were married in St James Anglican church in Melbourne in 1853 once they moved to Maffra in country Victoria they were forever more Methodists!

James was also a member of the British and Foreign Bible Society.  Meetings were held in the various churches around Maffra.  One of the earliest recordings of James’ membership was in 1883 when they reported the meeting in The Maffra Spectator.  That meeting was held in the Presbyterian Church on 13 Jul 1883 with another set for the early part of September at St John’s Church.

Over the years, James and Mary Ann’s names appear in many articles regarding their tireless work for the Methodist Church. Below are just a few around the time of the building of the new church.

In The Maffra Spectator newspaper report on the laying of the foundation stone for the new church on Thursday 6 June 1912 the writer closed the article with the following:

In closing this report we feel constrained to say that it came as a deep disappointment to many who were present and to townspeople who were absent to know that in the above speechmaking there was no one to mention the names of Mr and Mrs James Shingles in the undertaking.  It is well known that for the past 39 years or more Mr Shingles and his good wife have been faithful and continuous workings in the Methodist Church, and in fact it’s main stay, and the promoters of the scheme of the new Church. 

 The Maffra Spectator reported on Thu 29 Aug 1912 the opening services of the new Methodist Church.

The accommodation of the new Methodist Church building at Maffra was taxed to its uttermost at both afternoon and evening services on Sunday last, the occasion being the opening services.  In the afternoon Rev W E Seccomb took for his text the 5th verse of the seventh chapter of St Luke:

“For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue” 

The preacher remarked that it was a happy omen that the new church was opened on the 59th anniversary of Mr and Mrs Jas Shingles wedding day, and after eulogising the good work done by them, offered them congratulations and good wishes.

Mr W J McLean on the occasion of James & Mary Ann’s 60th wedding anniversary which was reported in The Maffra Spectator mentioned in his congratulation speech;

During their long residence they had identified themselves with all that had the progress and welfare of the the town in view, and one of their latest and most commendable achievements was when they substituted a new brick up-to-date church for the small unpretentious wooden building in which Mr and Mrs Shingles had earnestly worked for 40 years.

Reported in The Maffra Spectator on Mon 3 Aug 1914 on the death of James – 

The death of Mr James Shingles, on Saturday evening last, removes a Maffra patriarch. He was the G.O.M of the Methodist Church and he and his descendants made up a major portion of the congregation that worshiped in the small wooden tabernacle, which has recently given place to a fine brick edifice.

In the Traralgon Record newspaper on Fri 20 Oct 1922 in the obituary for Mary Ann titled ‘Old Colonist Passes’ they mention

During her life the late Mrs Shingles was an active worker for the Methodist Church , and it was largely due to Mr and Mrs Shingles’ efforts that the present building was erected.

In 2013 I held my first Shingles family reunion in Maffra and due to a double-booking of the Mechanics’ Hall we had to move to the Maffra Senior Citizens Centre on the second day.  This building just happened to be the former Methodist Church. So on the occasion of James & Mary Ann’s 160th wedding anniversary we got to celebrate in the church they had helped build over 100 years before!

Week 9 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Females

Week 9 (1-7 Mar) prompt is Females

Women of today or even this century would struggle with the notion that you could be married at 16, be pregnant almost every year and die in child-birth at the young age of 43.  This was the life of my 2nd great grandmother – Elizabeth Witt nee Pragnell.

Elizabeth was born to Thomas Pragnell and Mary Ann Woods on 12 June 1860 in West Tytherley, Hampshire, England.  On 19 February 1877 at the Parish Church in West Tytherley at the age of 16, Elizabeth married Mark Witt aged 20. 

By the 1881 census, Mark, a railway porter and Elizabeth had moved to Wiltshire and were living at 72 Pain’s Hill in Salisbury with William aged 2 and Ernest aged 1.

Ten years later in 1891, the Witt family were now living at 44 Meadow Road, Salisbury with seven of their eight children. Ernest is now 11, Walter 9, Alice 7, Emma 6, Ada 3, Lucy 2 and Minnie 4 months. William (12) was living in West Tytherley with his mother’s brother-in-law Henry Baker.

c1899 – Back left – Emma, Middle – Charles, Elizabeth with Nellie on lap & Lucy –
Front right Harry.

In 1901 the family was living at 10 Highclere Terrace, Ashley Road, Fisherton Anger with nine children – William 22, Ernest 21, Emma 15, Lucy 12, Minnie 10, Charles 6, Harry 4, Nellie 2 and my maternal great grandmother Lily 1.

c 1903 Elizabeth with Lilian and Frederick (on lap)

On 20 April 1904, Mark, Elizabeth and family attended the wedding of their son Ernest Frank to Hester Yeates in Winterslow.  A group wedding photo was taken and includes seven of their children.  

Four short months later, Elizabeth aged 43 died at home, 10 Ashley Road, Fisherton Anger, on 19 August 1904 from placenta praevia, flooding, childbirth and heart failure. The child did not survive either and no record has been found to provide anymore information.

In 1911, Mark was living at 122 Devizes Road, Salisbury  with six of his children – Emma 25, Charles 16, Harry 14, Nellie 12, Lilian 11 and Frederick 9.  Thanks to Mark not reading the census instructions correctly he filled in the section regarding years married and children born/died which is normally only done for each married woman on the form.  Up until now, family researchers had only known them to have had thirteen children.  Listed on the form were 14 children born with 11 still alive and 3 deceased in 1911.

This new information sent me on a hunt to work out who this fourteenth child had been.  Obviously the child had been born and died in the 10 year gap between a census. Looking at the information I already had it was easy to work out that it must have been between Minnie born in 1890 and Charles in 1895.  Elizabeth had never gone so long between babies!

I immediately went to the UK FreeBDM website and searched for births between 1891 and 1895 in the county of Wiltshire and then deaths up until early 1901. I whittled it down to who I thought it might have been. Now, Ancestry includes Wiltshire baptism and burial records but at the time I was researching the missing child they were not available so I ordered the birth certificate.  It took ages to get to me from England but I was so happy when I opened it and found I had the correct child.  Elsie Ann Witt was born on 17 August 1892 in Fisherton Anger and died in the Jan-Mar quarter of 1894.  Once the Wiltshire records became available on Ancestry, I was able to also find out she was baptised on 18 September 1892 and was buried on 23 January 1894. 

I was so happy to be able to find Elsie to ensure generations to come have the complete list of children born to Mark and Elizabeth Witt!  

William Thomas (1878-1934), Ernest Frank (1880-1945), Walter Mark (1882-1907), Alice Hilda (1884-1977), Emma (1885-1960), Ada Jane Witt (1887-1895), Lucy (1888-1963), Minnie (1890-1982), Elsie Ann (1892-1894), Charles Leonard (1895-1964), Henry Harry (1896-1985), Agnes Nellie (1898-1984), Lilian Muriel (1900-1994) and Frederick George (1901-1984).   

Week 8 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Courting

Week 8 (22-28 Feb) prompt is Courting

As I could not think of any stories about courting in the romantic sense, I decided to look at legal ‘courting’.  I have already written about finding out that the new husband of my 2 x great grand aunt was a bigamist.  Then I remembered finding a court report showing that my great uncle had a child and that his grandchild is a friend of my aunts.  I also decided against that because the subject of my story today did court in the romantic sense of the word which led to the legal court which led to fleeing the country.  A much more interesting story!

Not long after starting my journey down the rabbit hole that is family history research, I was contacted by a gentleman, Harold Bentley, asking whether he thought my 2nd great-granduncle, Harold Flockhart Shingles, was the biological father of his grandfather, Harold Bentley!.  He himself had just started researching the family and was trying to find the birth registration for his grandfather Harold Bentley who was born in 1906.  He was most surprised when he found his birth registered under Harold Shingles Davis with no father listed.

The repetition of the name Harold swayed me towards the notion that it was highly likely.  When he mentioned that his grandfather’s mother was Sophia May Davis, the surname definitely rang a bell. I realised that Harold Shingle’s brother Alfred had married Grace Annie Davis.  A coincidence – I didn’t think so being that Maffra is a small country town!

Until this point, I had only known that Harold Flockhart Shingles was born on 2 Mar 1882 in Maffra, Victoria and died on 15 Nov 1957 in Hokitika, New Zealand.  He had married there in 1915 and had a daughter.  I had not found a marriage in Victoria so didn’t suspect he had a child. 

The birth registration alone seemed like irrefutable evidence that Harold Bentley was the child of Harold Flockhart Shingles.  What I found during a search of the online newspapers website ‘Trove’  provided further clues that we had been correct in our assumption.  

On Friday 6 April 1906, Sophia Davis took Harold Shingles to Maffra Court of Petty Sessions to claim for pre-maternity expenses. Harold’s lawyer asked for an adjournment as  Harold was unable to attend court. This was granted for 20 April but in Sale this time and at a cost of £5 5s to Harold.

The next article found on 23 April 1906 was more in depth and stated that Sophia and Harold had been keeping company for nine and a half years with a view to marriage (the other courting!). But despite many people telling Harold he should marry Sophia, a wedding never took place. It did however state ‘Defendant never denied his responsibility’  The case was closed and the Bench made an order against Harold for £10 to be paid over to the clerk of the court and held in trust for Sophia.  An order was also granted for £7 7s to cover costs from the previous court appearance.

Only a few years later, an article in the Evening Post newspaper showed that Harold was now living in New Zealand.  He married Nora Cecilia Boyle in 1915, had a daughter Colleen Cecilia Shingles in 1926 and was divorced in 1945. He died 12 years later and was buried in Hokitika Cemetery.

Sophia went on to marry Alfred Edgar Bentley in 1912 when Harold was six. She had three more children, Eliza (1913), Evelyn (1915) and Alfred (1916). She died in Parramatta Mental Hospital in 1955, seven years after Alfred passed away in Sale.

Whether Harold was officially adopted on the marriage of his mother to Alfred or not – he was then known as Harold Bentley.  The name Harold was then passed down from father to son to grandson. However ‘grandson’ Harold did not name his son Harold!

I was lucky enough to meet ‘grandson’ Harold, his wife Rhonda and his mother Pamela in 2019 when I held a Shingles reunion in Maffra. Funnily enough as my mothers family had done, Harold Bentley moved to Geelong and raised his family there too!

Week 7 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Landed

Week 7 (15-21 Feb) prompt is Landed

As I have already covered my other ancestors who ‘landed’ in Australia it was an easy choice to pick my 3rd great grandparents Robert Snowdon & Margaret Ann Young McGregor.  

Although at the time I was researching their voyage to Australia it definitely wasn’t easy!

Robert and Margaret were Scottish.  I had easily found their births, baptisms, census and marriage using both Ancestry and Scotlandspeople websites.  But numerous searches of the passenger lists for both the surname Snaddon or Snowdon showed no results.

They had gotten married on 16 September 1859 in Borrowstounness in West Lothian, Scotland and their first son, Thomas, was born on 20 July 1860 in Sebastopol, Victoria.  That narrowed down the search window but still no results.  I decided to leave it hoping that one day I might stumble across their names.

Unfortunately Robert passed away only five years after they arrived in Australia on 10 April 1865 in Beechworth Hospital from hepatitis.  He left behind Margaret and their four children, the youngest Euphemia was only eight months old. He was the first interment in the Milawa (Oxley) Cemetery.

I then turned to researching Margarets family and found the answer to how they arrived. I was very surprised to find that both Margaret’s parents, William & Agnes McGregor died in Australia.  I came across a passenger list with Agnes being listed with children Alexander and his wife Helen, David, Ellen and John. Her husband and son, William Jnr, had emigrated to Australia in 1854.

As Alexander was the first born I started researching him and found that he and Helen had never immigrated to Australia.  If they had, their first two children would have been listed on the passenger list but they weren’t. They went on to have more children in Scotland and I obtained a copy of Alex’s death certificate and his parents were correct.

So mystery solved!.  

Only eight days after their marriage Robert & Margaret Snowdon boarded the White Line ship “Hilton’ in Liverpool England, with the McGregor clan on 22 Sep 1859 presumably under the name of Alexander & Mrs McGregor. They arrived in Melbourne on 9 January 1860.

Six months later they had their first child Thomas who was quickly followed by Agnes in 1861, William in 1862 and Euphemia in 1864.  After Robert’s early demise, Margaret went on to marry Thomas Newton in 1872 and had four more children – Alexander (1874), Susan (1875), Helen (1877) and Samuel (1879). 

Obviously Margaret was grateful for the chance to immigrate, naming two of her children after her brother and his wife whose names they had traveled under to the land of promise!

Week 6 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Maps

Week 6 (8-14 Feb) prompt is Maps

One of the Assessments for a subject for my Diploma in Family History from the University of Tasmania was to produce an annotated map showing places of interest for one of our ancestors. I knew immediately that it would be about my 3xgreat grandfather James Shingles.

A few years earlier, while on one of many trips to James’s hometown of Maffra, in county Victoria, I finally made it to the library. I was shown a massive Parish Map of Maffra from 1903 showing the owners of every piece of land in Maffra.  It was amazing to see so many familiar names and where they had lived in the town.  My eyes were immediately drawn to a large parcel of land lots owned by James Shingles.  It was of course where he had his brick kiln and house. 

Unfortunately I only thought to photograph that one section instead of taking my time to get the whole map but it was my inspiration for my annotated map.

Taken from 1903 Parish Map of Maffra

Having been the main brick maker in the town while Maffra was developing, Maffra Bricks were used in a lot of buildings and homes. So the map didn’t look too crowded, I chose a few of the more prominent buildings and those special to James including where the kiln was located.

Today, only part of James’s selection from 1903 has dwellings on it. It was deemed unsafe to build on the part which had been the kiln so it is now just vacant land often used by the High School.

Week 5 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Branching Out

Week 5 (1-7 Feb) prompt is Branching Out

To branch out or not to branch out that is the question!  

I most definitely believe in ‘branching out’ as far as I could on my main four names to see how far back I could go. But I have decided that I am done getting lost down the black hole of a distant relative because I followed hints in Ancestry. Thank god for the ‘Relationship to You’ button so I could find my way back!

Don’t get me wrong, I have found some very interesting stories but I realised that I was spending hours and even days on people so far removed from my direct line.

I had originally started separate trees in Ancestry for each of my four lines – Shingles, Snowdon, Witt and McEwan.  A few years ago I decided to start a new tree which would include all four branches. It would also be easier to answer any messages I received because having to search the separate trees was very time consuming!  So far, I have most of the time, stuck to my ‘not branching out’ rule and only added the parents (no siblings) to anyone who married into the family.

A few years ago a friend of my dad asked if I could help him with his family research.  At the time I was up for a new challenge as all I was doing was copying over information from my separate trees into my new combined tree and it was a little boring! I do love to research a new line and see what I can find.

I eagerly started a new tree in Ancestry but soon discovered that I could have just joined it to my combined tree as my research surprisingly led to my uncle, the husband of my maternal aunt. I hadn’t gone any further than his parents in my own tree.

This is what I discovered about my 2 x Great Grandparents of the wife of the granduncle of the husband of my aunt!

John and Honor Bowman left Portsmouth, England on 7 November 1797 as free settlers onboard ‘Barwell’ with their children John, George and Mary.  They arrived in Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia on 18 May 1798.  By 1799 they had a grant of 100 acres in Richmond on the Hawkesbury River which they called ‘Archerfield’.

In April 1806 they flew a flag on their farm ‘Archerfield’ which became the first recorded use of the kangaroo and emu supporting a shield and which may be the inspiration for the current Australian coat of arms.

Representation of the original design. Available for purchase as a flag today!

The flag currently resides in the Mitchell Library part of the State Library of NSW in Sydney. Below is the description from the State Library of NSW’s website.

The Bowman Flag was flown by John Bowman and his family on their farm, Archerfield, at Richmond, near Sydney in April 1806. The Bowmans were celebrating the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. An account of the battle and victory (which occurred on 21 October 1805) was published in The Sydney Gazette on 13 April 1806. To commemorate the victory, a day of thanksgiving was ordered by Governor King for the following Sunday at which ‘all persons not prevented by sickness or the necessary care of their dwellings are expected to attend.’

According to descendants of the Bowman family, the flag was made using silk from Honor Bowman’s wedding dress. It is not clear whether the flag was sewn by John’s daughter, Mary Bowman (then aged nine), or her mother Honor. The painting of the flag appears to be the work of a professional sign painter, so is unlikely to have been done by Honor or Mary, although the Bowmans may have assisted in the design. The design incorporates the rose, shamrock and thistle – the traditional floral symbols of England, Ireland and Scotland, as well as the word ‘Unity’ and the motto ‘England expects every man will do his duty’. This message was signalled by Horatio Nelson from the HMS Victory at the beginning of the Battle of Trafalgar to rally the fleet.

The facebook page CAWB – Save Windsor from the RTA has a great post which explains its journey to the State Library.

*The Bowman Flag – the Nation’s First Flag was Hawkesbury’s Own*

Resting securely in the collection of the State Mitchell Library is an amazing emblem of our Nation’s history. It is a flag.

The main part of the flag is square with two pennants attached on the right and rosettes and ribbons on the left. It measures 91 cm X 220 cm.

It’s image is painted in oils on white silk and consists of a central Norman shield, scrolled, with a floral design of the rose, thistle and shamrock, supported by an emu and kangaroo, all resting on the words of Nelson’s last flag order, “England expects everyman will do his duty” and surmounted by the word “Unity”.

It was created in the Richmond area of the Hawkesbury, NSW in 1806 by John Bowman, his wife Honor and 9 year old daughter, Mary. The image itself appears to have been commissioned by John Bowman using a professional sign painter.

In October 1805 Nelson won the Battle of Trafalgar but it was not until 1806 that word reached the far our little Colony of NSW and the ears of John Bowman. Governor King declared a public day of celebration and thanksgiving and John Bowman decided to design and make a flag to mark the occasion.

John Bowman arrived as a free settler in Sydney Cove on the Barwell in May 1798 with his Cornish wife, Honor, plus their son and a daughter.

He was granted 100 acres at Hawkesbury and set up his farm “Archerfield” on the Richmond Lowlands near the site of what is today, the aerodrome.

It was here that Honor used the silk material from her wedding gown to make the famous flag.

The flag flew at Archerfield and was kept by the family as a precious heirloom until it was decided to allow the Bowman great-grandchildren to present the flag to Richmond Superior Public School in November, 1905. It was almost 100 years old.

The precious flag was secured in a heavy gold frame and glazed. It was kept in the school’s museum and was carefully overseen by the headmaster, Mr McCoy.

The flag was of central importance on Empire Day in Richmond, May 1908 when it was officially unveiled by by the Hon. Joseph Cook, M.H.R. who read it’s inscription and hoped that the flag which symbolized so much would continue to fly for another 100 years.

In November, 1916, the flag was “discovered” and held in great interest by trustees of the Mitchell Library because it is the earliest known object on which is shown the Emu and Kangaroo in support – now so commonly identified with Australia and it’s Coat of Arms.

Indeed it is this flag that inspired the design of Australia’s Coat of Arms as is now displayed on Parliament House.

The symbols of the flag, the Rose ( England), Thistle ( Scotland) and Shamrock (Ireland) stand for the origins of most of the Colony’s settlers and represent the heart of the then British Empire.

The presence of the Emu and Kangaroo places Australia as a part of that Empire, but not a dependent one, as the supporting attitude of the emblems denotes. It seems that as early as 1806 the free colonists had the larger vision which foresaw Australia as something better than a convict settlement.

The floral emblems looked back to and acknowledged the old world from which they had come, but the Emu and Kangaroo look forward to the Australia we know today.

In November 1916, a Mr Wright from the Mitchell Library, took the historic Bowman Flag from Richmond Public School to the Mitchell Library where it has sometimes been on public view.

It was reported that the condition of the flag was very good – “the gold lettering in as splendid order as the day it was done, the rosettes a little faded and the Emu and Kangaroo a little worse for wear”.

The flag was restored in 1977 and can only be accessed by appointment made through “Ask a Librarian”. State Library on NSW.

The local newspaper reported the move from the school to the library.

So I feel I can claim this very interesting piece of history I found in my research. Although it was accidental I choose to think of it as ‘branching out’ rather than just helping a friend!

Week 4 of 52 (2022) Ancestors – Curious

Week 4 (25-31 Jan) prompt is Curious

It was hard to narrow down a topic for ‘Curious’. I mean that’s why you get into genealogy isn’t it – you are ‘curious’!  I know it is certainly why I started. LOL

So as my last two weeks have been about photos I thought I may as well keep up that theme.  When I first started researching my family, we visited a cousin of my mother who had a box full of photos. She kindly let us borrow them so my mum could scan them for us. She couldn’t really remember where she had gotten them all and she has since passed so unable to ask again! Luckily most of the subjects of the photos are known but there are quite a few that are unknown.

The one I was most ‘curious’ about was a gorgeous photo of three ladies and two babies. By the gowns the infants are wearing, it was probably taken on the occasion of their christenings.  The only one known is my 3xgreat grandmother Mary Ann Shingles (sitting on right).  I have a photo of her in 1903 and 1913. This one looks like it could have been taken somewhere in the middle, maybe around 1908.

Neither of the other ladies look like her daughters (have photo of them in 1903) so have to assume they are a daughter-in-law and a grand-daughter and then the babies are great-grandchildren.  Even though the photo came from someone in my branch of the Shingles line, my 2xgreat grandfather only had sons. His first son, my great grandfather, didn’t marry until 1911 and the youngest lady is definitely not my great grandmother. 

So it seems to rule out it being from my direct line. As Mary Ann had 13 children, 8 of whom went on to have families it is a bit hard to narrow it down further and there are not many photos from around this time to compare it to!

Before I took up family research I was heavily into scrapbooking. So much so that I became a consultant in 2002.  I stumbled across a poem titled ‘Strangers in the Box’ which I used in my classes as a great reason to scrapbook.  In 2013, I organised my first family reunion and while looking at the photos I wanted to display to see if anyone recognised the subjects, I remembered the poem. I made up a poster and included a few of the photos. 

Unfortunately no-one was able to recognise anyone but Mary Ann. I am sure that absolutely every genealogist can relate to this poem and have a heap of photos of unknown relatives that they would love to identify. I am resigned to the fact that I am just going to have to remain ‘curious’ about this photo!.