Black Sheep Sunday

Hobart Town from the New Town Road by J.S. Prout (1844)
Carrying on from last week’s Black Sheep Sunday post. I have managed to have find some more snippets of information of my Black Sheep duo – George WHITE and Elizabeth ALLEN.
World Vital Records offered free records until the 18th (tomorrow) so I took them up on their offer. I must say, I do find the site a bit of confusing. Searches for records of specific places (such as UK, Australia and New Zealand) tend to also include the American records in the results. This may be something an experienced user can combat but for me, time is of the essence!
Tucked away in the Hobart Town Gazette of 1844 were 2 references for each of my beloved convicts.

Hobart Town Gazette – 8 March 1844
Elizabeth Allen, Margaret, to Zachary Pocock, Hobart

Hobart Town Gazette – 16 August 1844
George White, George III., from J. & R. Meikle, Murray-street,
to Thomas Allcock, Hobart Town.

Hobart Town Gazette – 12 November 1844
George White, George the Third, by Thomas Allcock, Liverpool-street,
2 months, 21st ditto [October]

Hobart Town Gazette – 8 October 1844
Elizabeth Allen, Margaret, by George Lewis, Restdown, 1 month, from 10th ditto [September].

These snippets refer to whose private service they entered as a passholder.

From 1840 convicts usually served an initial period of “probation” in government work gangs, before becoming “passholders” who competed in the labour market. In the context of high unemployment, this meant that thousands of serving convicts joined ticket-of-leave holders and emancipists to roam the island in search of work. The sight of these workers, who by necessity or choice often lived rough in the bush, horrified and frightened the free settlers… (Source: Van Diemen’s Land by James Boyce – found via Google Books).

Next steps:

  • Search for other issues of the Hobart Town Gazette
  • Research the employers listed for some background information
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Curious George

I have returned from my holiday/family history mission in Devon. While there, I located the homes and farms of my ancestors, visited their churches and in some cases burial grounds and generally got a feel for the layout of the places they lived.
I also got to spend some time in the West Country Studies Library in Exeter – 4 and a half hours worth of time to be precise! I looked through parish records to firm up some sources and dates and browsed through some microfiche of the Exeter Flying Post to get a bit more detail.
I’ll be posting my findings over the next few days to help me collect all my information and thoughts. To start, I think I’ll flesh out the story of my bankrupt ancestor George WREFORD.

Exeter Prison (August 2009)
George may have been an inmate here in 1861

Last month, I discovered my 3rd great grandfather, George, was not found in the 1861 census partly because he was in jail for bankruptcy. You can read the story so far in my post Ancestor Found (almost).

Unfortunately, I have still not been able to locate him on the 1861 census. After eventually finding Exeter Gaol in the census records, I also found the prisoners were listed by initials only. ‘A-ha!’ I thought, ‘That explains why I couldn’t find him through a name search’ – but I couldn’t find any prisoner with the initials G.W. Not to be deterred, I then combed the entire list of prisoners by their age and birthplace looking for suitable or even approximate matches but I have still not found George WREFORD.

I am aware there was a debtor’s prison in Cowick Street but I learned on the Exeter Memories site that “the last prisoners were moved to the County Gaol in January 1855 and the facility was closed” – 5 years before George was held.


But I did find some nuggets of information in the Exeter Flying Post.

Exeter Flying Post – 10 April 1861

Another reference to his upcoming hearing at the county court at first seemed identical to the notice in the London Gazette EXCEPT, it claims he was a journeyman baker in Chulmleigh – this may be another lead or a Victorian typo. (The London Gazette referred to him as ‘Journey-man Butcher’, which is more likely).

More importantly, upon rereading, I noticed that it mentioned George was “to be holden at the Castle of Exeter”. This could explain why he was not in the County Gaol on the 1861 census! Census night was 7 April 1861 – this excerpt was from the 10 April 1861 edition of the newspaper.

The next ‘clipping’ concluded what must have been a very difficult time in my ancestor’s life.

The insolvent was supported by Mr. Laidman, and, being unopposed, he was declared entitled to the benefit of the act, and ordered to be discharged.

I am aware that the laws surrounding bankruptcy changed in 1861 but if anyone can explain simply to me what the change was, I would love to know. I would also like to know what being supported by someone meant. I have a feeling, old George was quite lucky to have his case heard in this particular year.

Exeter Flying Post – 24 April 1861

Next steps:

  • Search the 1861 census for ‘the Castle’ and its inmates
  • Find a simple explanation for the Bankruptcy Act
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Black Sheep Sunday

Some more details of two of my family’s black sheep:

I first mentioned George White and Elizabeth Allen in my post, Woman of my Conviction. Both were transported to Tasmania, Australia (then known as Van Diemen’s Land) for their respective crimes in the early 19th century.

Convicts in Tasmania were not allowed to marry each other or a ‘free’ person without approval. I discovered that the Archives Office of Tasmania has a free record service for records not available online and requested a copy of the original page with George and Elizabeth’s Convict Application to Marry.

George White & Elizabeth Allen – Convict Application to Marry

The entry gives their names, and the ships they arrived on – George the 3rd and Margaret. It tells me the application was sent on the 22 March 1845 and was approved.

George White & Elizabeth Allen – Marriage Record

The pair were subsequently married the next month on the 28th of April. Nothing is mentioned about their convict status and I wonder how long they had to answer to the authorities.

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From Peterhead to Grave

Northern Cemetery Dunedin
Otago Harbour from Northern Cemtery Dunedin

Sometimes as genealogists we have to wait years for answers.
Waiting for the required records to become available.
Waiting for the chance to visit somewhere that may hold the key. Waiting for some kind of miracle.

But by some extraordinary stroke of luck, I didn’t have to wait long at all (or do much work) to find the answers to the puzzles I listed on my Emigrating to New Zealand post.

As I searched for more information on the Rimutaka (there were a few ships with this name), I came across The Northern Cemetery site. This site, I’m told on the home page, “brings together information from many different research sources to offer you a unique view of one of New Zealand’s most interesting cemeteries”. On this site I found excerpts from the book “From Peterhead to Passchendaele” written by Roy Buchan, who also turns out to be one of my distant relatives.

It also contains the following transcribed monumental inscription for some members of this family buried in the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin:

Monumental Inscription
In memory of
1830 – 1910
and Wife
1830 – 1915
1888 – 1908
1858 – 1926
and Wife
1860 – 1910
Arrived in NZ on ship Rimutaka, 1893
from Peterhead, Scotland

and lie buried here.

In loving memory of

Died 5th June 1988

Aged 41 years.

In loving memory of

Dearly loved wife of ROBERT
And loved mother of
Died 22nd March 1972.
Died 4th January 1995
Aged 90 years.
“Keep a green bough in your heart,

And God will send you a singing bird.”

In loving memory of

Dearly loved husband of LORELEI
Loved father of ROSS, MURRAY & ALISTAIR
17-11-1926 – 6-1-1999
1894 – 1978
The information I found on this site allowed me to answer the questions I had on my Emigrating to New Zealand post :

* Which Jessie and John are recorded above Alex’s family and how do they link to my family?

Jessie is Alex’s sister and John Buchan is her husband – I would now like to find out if John’s family were closely connected to Jessie’s.
*What happened to Alex’s sister Jessie (is she the Jessie mentioned above) and brother Charles?


Jessie also travelled to New Zealand on the Rimutaka (see answer above). It appears Charles stayed in Scotland:

“Four of their children were: Peter (1858), Jessie (1860), Alexander (1862), and
William (1872). These sailed with their parents to New Zealand, but there is
thought to be at least one other who stayed behind”.

* Which Jessie Buchan is buried in the family grave with Charles and Jessie (born Janet RITCHIE)?

“Their daughter Jessie died at the age of twenty in 1908 of meningitis and is buried in the same plot with her mother, who died two years later in 1910”.


* Who is Master John? I’ve had no record of this person so far – is he Charles and Jessie’s son?


He is John & Jessie’s son, apparently just tagging along with his grandparents.


I also now have more family members to fit into the tree.


NOTE: I did find an error in this information, which should be a warning to all of us NOT to accept all that we’re given without question. It appears the author confused Janet/Jessie Buchan (1833) with her daughter Jessie Buchan (1860) when he writes that her maiden name was also Buchan. I have much evidence to prove that her maiden surname was RITCHIE.


Thank you to all the people involved in sharing the information I found on The Northern Cemetery site – it is VERY much appreciated.
Image on left: “From the Road to the Northern Cemetery” by George O’Brien found on Auckland Art Gallery
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R.I.P. Rose

On Thursday night at 9pm, my husband’s grandmother Rose died.

I only knew her for a few years but would have liked to have known her more. She had a great sense of humour and many stories to tell.

Although she was 83 and having some health problems lately, it came as a surprise to us. Mainly because she never really complained about how she was. My husband joked that they probably asked her how she was at 5 to 9 and she would have replied, ‘I’m fine’.

Goodbye Rose – you’ll be missed.

Rose Ebbans (nee WHEELEY) on right.

Rest In Peace

26 Mar 1926 – 6 Aug 2009

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