Passing of the Pioneers

After the chore of moving house, I’ve finally had a chance to write a Passing of the Pioneers post.  I had good intentions for a December edition and started a post but it was soon January.  Not wanting to let another year go by until I had to chance to post about some of the “December” pioneers, I decided to write a combined December/January post.  As time went on it was obvious I wasn’t going to finish by the end of January, so now it has become a combined December/January/February post. 

There are only seven pioneer obituaries in this edition, two each from December and January and three from February, however, due to the amount of extra information about some of the subjects, their entries are longer than usual. Most are long overdue in finding their way to the Pioneer Obituary Index.  Among them is one of our great female pioneers along with two men who were pioneers of Victorian horse racing one of whom still has a leading race named after him.  And there is a woman who by marriage became linked to three well known Hamilton district families, the Learmonths, Laidlaws and Thomsons and learnt Spanish along the way.

COLDHAM, John – Died 2 December 1882 at Grassdale. John Coldham arrived in Tasmania from England around 1840. Having heard of good land in Victoria, John sailed for the colony, taking up the Grassdale Run, west of Branxholme where he remained for the next forty years.  In 1850, John was appointed a Magistrate in the district and in 1853 he married Josephine Lane and they went on to have five sons.

John was active in community affairs and early horse racing in Victoria.  From a horse called Bobby he raced at Portland around 1848, he went on to own two of the runners in the first Melbourne Cup in 1861, Grey Dawn and Twilight.  Grey Dawn was the progeny of Western District sire King Alfred.  Break O’Day out of Grey Dawn won the 1874 Ballarat Cup for John.

Along with horses, John was a breeder of fine sheep and in his later life took up breeding Alderney cattle. In 1882, John’s health was failing and he took a trip to the sulphur springs of New Zealand in search of relief.  Knowing death was impending, on his return, he sold his stock.  He didn’t see out the year and was buried at the Merino Cemetery.  Further reading about John Coldham’s racing and farming successes was published in The Australian in 1881 after a visit to Grassdale and you can find the article on the following link http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225486595

MINOGUE, Jerome Joseph – Died 31 December 1928 at Edenhope.  Jerome Minogue was born in Clare, Ireland around 1840 and arrived in Portland as a baby with his parents Simon and Johanna Minogue aboard the Agricola. The Minogues lived at the property Wattle Hill at West Portland.  Jerome remained in Portland for more than thirty years working as a stockman for the Henty brothers, including time as the head stockman at their property Cashmore. He was known as an expert horseman and his tracking abilities saw him find missing children in the bush on two occasions.  Jerome married Jean Edgar of Harrow in 1871 and then bought a farm near Edenhope. Jerome was survived by Jean, two sons and three daughters.

FFRENCH, Acheson – Died 29 January 1870 at St Kilda. Acheson Ffrench was born at Monivae Castle, Galway, Ireland in 1812. As a young man, he left Ireland and travelled through Europe and the Holy Land before landing in Australia.  In 1841 at the age of twenty-nine, Acheson was appointed Police Magistrate at Hamilton, the same year he took up a large run of 17,000 acres to the south of Hamilton. He named it Monivae after his Galway home. On 8 February 1842, Ffrench married his fiancé Anna Watton and children began arriving at a steady rate with six boys and six girls born in the following years. In 1847, a homestead was built at Monivae located on what is now the eastern side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.

In 1864, Acheson put Monivae up for lease for a term of three years and moved his family to Melbourne where they remained for two years before returning to Monivae in 1866. Ffrench continued to visit Melbourne and he was in town on 29 January 1870. Feeling like a swim, he visited Kenny’s Gentleman’s Bathing Ship (below) at St Kilda.

Kenny’s Baths, St. Kilda by Thomas Clark,artist. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/84320

Acheson plunged into the water and hit his head on the bottom of the pool.  With his neck broken, Acheson died at the scene.  For more about Acheson Ffrench go to my post Strong in Faith, a story of Monivae Estate.

GRAY, Charles – Died 27 January 1905 at Kensington, London.  Charles Gray was born in 1818 at Anstruther, Fife, Scotland a son of Major George Gray of the Royal Marines.  In January 1839, Charles sailed from England to Hobson’s Bay on the ship Midlothian, meeting William P. Scott and John Marr on the voyage. They parted company on arrival, with Charles making his way to Glenormiston. Hearing of a flock of sheep for sale, Charles wrote to his shipmates Scott and Marr and proposed they squat together.  They agreed and the three men took out a squatters licence further on to the north-west at Green Hill Creek near what is now Glenthompson. The site Charles first camped on Green Hill Creek in 1840 was marked with a stone obelisk. The inscription on the obelisk read,”Charles Gray Camped Here September 1840″.

CHARLES GRAY c1855. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294252

The trio stayed in partnership until 1845 when Scott retired. In 1850, John Marr and Charles dissolved their partnership, splitting the property and stock.  John Marr named his share Burrie Burrie, later becoming Brie Brie while Charles named his share Nareeb Nareeb.  He set about building a homestead by the Green Hill Creek and improving the property for sheep farming.  In 1855 Charles was appointed a Magistrate in the Portland Bay district.

THE HOMESTEAD BUILT BY CHARLES GRAY AT NAREEB NAREEB ON THE BANKS OF THE GREEN HILLS CREEK. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294239

At the age of thirty-nine in 1857, Charles married Elizabeth Sharp. Elizabeth was a watercolour artist from Dublin, Ireland via Sydney.  She arrived at Portland from Sydney early in 1857 and married Charles on 19 March that year.  A daughter Annie was born the following year and another daughter Emily was born in 1860.

ELIZABETH GRAY AND HER DAUGHTERS ANNIE, (right) and EMILY (seated with Elizabeth) c 1862. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294254

In 1862, a boy was born to Charles and Elizabeth but he sadly died before he could be named.  The following year on 13 February, a daughter Elizabeth was born at Neptune Cottage at Queenscliff.  The pride Charles had in his daughters comes through in the photo below.

CHARLES GRAY AND HIS DAUGHTERS ANNIE (right) and EMILY (left) c1862. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294247

Charles spoke fondly of his girls, evident in his memoir Western Victoria in the forties: reminiscences of a pioneer, published posthumously in the Hamilton Spectator in 1932. Charles mentioned his oldest daughters particularly Annie who he taught to ride on a Shetland pony and by “ten years of age was a good and fearless rider”.  He recalled Annie helping him reduce kangaroo numbers on Nareeb Nareeb and an adventurous trip to Glenthompson with Annie and Emily who were fully exposed to pioneering life.

Amid the isolation of life at Nareeb Nareeb, Elizabeth continued with her art.  In 1864 she sent five paintings to the Annual Exhibition of Fine Arts in Melbourne and in 1866, she exhibited watercolours at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, including views of Queenscliff such as the work below.

QUEENSCLIFF BEACH by ELIZABETH GRAY (1963) Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/401523

In 1867 when Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the colony, he spent time at neighbouring property Hopkins Hill, the guest of John Moffat. Charles and Elizabeth were invited to lunch with the prince and Elizabeth presented him with vases adorned with etched Black Swan eggs.  The Prince was most impressed with Elizabeth’s work and commissioned her to make similar ornaments for his mother. Elizabeth produced four vases including two smaller vases each with carved Black Swan eggs including one of the Wannon Falls near Hamilton, seen on the right in the illustration below. A larger vase featured Mount Sturgeon near Dunkeld carved on an emu egg.  The four vases given to Queen Victoria are now part of the Royal Collection and are located at Osborne House, the summer house of Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight. A photograph of the vases in the illustration below is available on the link to the Royal Collection.

“VASES PRESENTED TO HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN.” Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875) 15 August 1868: 12. Web. 7 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60450420&gt;.

In 1873, Elizabeth exhibited in the Victorian Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne and the London International and by December that year, the Grays had decided to move to England. Charles sold the household furniture and harness and the family left Australia in February 1874.  Two years later Charles travelled from London to New York and then on to the Philadelphia Exhibition before embarking at San Francisco for Sydney. He then made his way south to Nareeb Nareeb. The women in his life extended their stay in England.  On his return, Charles was appointed a Justice of the Peace. In 1881, Charles’ eldest daughter Annie married Charles Rowe in Kensington, London.

Charles may not have been the easiest person to get along with according to a description of him by Billis & Kenyon in 1942.

“Nareeb Nareeb—One of the Famous Western District Fine-wool Stations” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 3 May 1941: 37. Web. 3 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article142429106&gt;.

However, a reporter from the Hamilton Spectator visited Nareeb Nareeb in 1876 upon Charles’ return from London to report on his “Model Wool-Growing Estate” describing him as most hospitable and not one to turn a passer-by away.  I turned to the journalist  The Vagabond to see if he, as a keen observer of human character, had an opinion of Charles. Unfortunately, he did not pass by Nareeb Nareeb while writing his series Picturesque Victoria in 1885 but in his account of his visit to Hamilton during that series, he mentioned he wanted to visit Charles in the future.  Little did The Vagabond know by 1886 Charles was feeling the loneliness of life at Nareeb Nareeb.  Missing his family and approaching his seventies and no son to pass the property on to, he returned to England.  In 1903, Elizabeth died in England with Charles living a further two years, dying in 1905 at the age of eighty-seven.

While I was searching for The Vagabond’s thoughts on Charles Gray, I found a reference to Charles from an article by The Vagabond written after a return visit to Hamilton in 1893.  On that occasion, he met with Hamilton’s Alexander Ingram.  The Vagabond wrote Ingram had said Hamilton’s main street Gray Street, “… was not named from Commissioner Gray…but from Mr Charles Gray, the squatter…”. However, Ingram went on to refute that with a Letter to the Editor of the Hamilton Spectator on 28 November 1893 as seen below.

“THE “VAGABOND” IN HAMILTON.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 28 November 1893: 3. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225780345&gt;.

PACE, Jane – Died 3 February 1906 at Hamilton. Jane Pace was born on 8 February 1816 at Stokesley, Yorkshire, England to Walter Pace, a captain with the East India Company and Elizabeth Fennie.  In 1832 Walter, on hearing of good land in Western Australia, left his family in Yorkshire and set off on an exploratory trip. Finding Western Australia to his liking, Walter built a stone house for his family and wrote to his wife Elizabeth he would return to collect her and the children. However, Elizabeth was an independent woman, a trait later seen in her daughter Jane, and without telling her husband she boarded The Quebec Trader with daughters Jane and Ann and travelled to Western Australia.  After a treacherous voyage, broken with a visit with friends in South Africa, Elizabeth and her daughters arrived in Fremantle much to Walter’s surprise.

Elizabeth also proved herself a resourceful woman having a contingency plan in case Walter had already left to collect them.  From England, she carried a letter of introduction addressed to Stephen George Henty, a young trader who had frequented the Swan River area since 1829.  With Walter still in Fremantle, the letter wasn’t required but an introduction to the twenty-two year old Henty did take place leading to his marriage to sixteen year old Jane Pace.  They were married on 14 April 1836 at Fremantle.  They soon set off for Portland Bay where the Henty brothers had a whaling station and were establishing themselves as sheep farmers.  The newlyweds arrived on a Sunday evening and under moonlight, Jane was carried ashore by a sailor, the first European woman to land on the shores of the Port Phillip District.

VIEW OF PORTLAND BAY 1835-1836 BY GEORGE JACKSON. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/288641

Jane found the Henty brothers had built a comfortable homestead and were awaiting her arrival with a fire burning, a hearty meal of bread, butter, eggs, and tea.  As Jane entered the homestead Francis Henty said, “Welcome, Mrs Henty” to which Jane replied, “My name is Jane Henty, your sister”.  Jane got along well with her brothers-in-law and in her memoirs published in 1902 and reproduced in part in 1934 by Table Talk newspaper, she looked back fondly on those times albeit tough. In August 1837, a son Richmond was born, the first of eleven children Jane would bear.

JANE HENTY ca. 1872-1880. Photographer Batchelder & Co. Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales. File no. FL3317680 http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110343890I

In time, the Hentys moved to Tarrington Station, just east of Hamilton.  It was there in December 1872 Stephen died at the age of sixty-one.  In 1874, Anna Henty, one of Jane’s daughters married Hamilton stock and station agent Robert Stapylton-Bree and Jane went to live with the couple. A sad time came in 1904 when Jane’s eldest son Richmond died in London. Jane spent her last years at Bewsall, Hamilton the home of the Brees (below). She died there on 3 February 1906 only a few days short of her ninetieth birthday.

BEWSALL, HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

Jane was buried with Stephen at the Hamilton Old Cemetery. A memorial to Richmond was included on the headstone.

GRAVE OF JANE HENTY

Jane was a woman of strong religious faith and a great supporter of St Stephen’s Church in Portland and the Christ Church Hamilton.  It was there a memorial pulpit to Jane was dedicated on Sunday 4 November 1906.

INSCRIPTION ON JANE HENTY MEMORIAL PULPIT, CHRIST CHURCH HAMILTON,

A report on the pulpit’s dedication by the Hamilton Spectator read as follows,

“CHRIST CHURCH.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 6 November 1906: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). Web. 7 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226123438&gt;.

And yes, today more than a century later one can visit Hamilton’s Christ Church, view the pulpit and remember Jane a great pioneering woman of not only the Western District but Australia.  March is Women’s History month and I will be posting more about Jane as part of the series, Wonderful Western District Women.

WIMBLE, Clara Augusta – Died 3 February 1912 at Cavendish. Clara Wimble was born at Northcote in 1860, a daughter of  Lands Department officer Nehemiah Wimble and Edith Hewett. On 30 August 1887, Clara married Stanley Learmonth at the Northcote Wesleyan Church. Stanley had returned from Mexico where he and his brother Allan had run the family property La Mariposa since 1881. Soon after their marriage, Clara left with Stanley for Mexico, her home for the next fourteen years.  Clara at least had some female company from home when she arrived because her brother-in-law Allan Learmonth had married Annie Thomson from the Hamilton district a year earlier and made their home at La Mariposa. Clara learnt Spanish enabling her to better adjust to her adopted country. Children were born to Clara and Stanley in Mexico including in 1890, 1891 and 1892. It was 1892 when Allan and Annie Learmonth returned to Australia but Stanley and Clara remained in Mexico for another ten years.

On their eventual return in 1902, they took up residence at Horsham where Clara was involved with the Horsham Golf Club and the Horsham Ladies Benevolent Society.  They left Horsham in 1906 moving to Eulameet, Cavendish. Clara did suffer from illness through that time but still managed to get out and about.  Around 26 January 1912,  Clara, Stanley, a son, and daughter travelled in Stanley’s car for an afternoon visiting the Carters at Glenisla.  When Clara stepped from the car she suffered a stroke and died days later on 3 February.  During her last days, Clara was attended by Dr David Laidlaw of Hamilton, married to Stanley’s sister Mary Simpson Laidlaw.  Clara was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery (below). A Hamilton Spectator article the day after her burial recalled stories unfolding from the funeral including that of Stanley Learmonth’s return visit to Mexico in 1908. At La Mariposa, he found Clara’s Spanish name of Dona Clarita was known by all and many people sent messages to her via Stanley.

GRAVE OF CLARA LEARMONTH

MANIFOLD, Edward – Died 14 February 1931 at East Melbourne.

“The Late Mr. Edward Manifold.” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 17 February 1931: 5. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27389306&gt;.

And so begun the obituary of Edward Manifold, the fifth son of John Manifold and Marion Thomson of Purrumbete Station, the place of Edward’s birth in 1868.  John Manifold with his brothers first took up Purrumbete in 1838 and bred Shorthorn cattle.  When Edward was nine in 1877, his father John died.  Young Edward completed his early schooling at Geelong Grammar and later Melbourne Grammar. He then went on to study at Cambridge University, England.  In 1894, Edward’s mother Marion died followed by the sudden death of his brother Thomas in 1895. From Thomas’ estate, Edward received and took up the first option to buy Thomas’ property Wiridgel and each of Thomas’ brothers inherited a share in the homestead where Edward went on to live.  He already owned the Dandite Estate inherited from his father.

“NEWLY-ELECTED MEMBER OF THE V.R.C. COMMITTEE: MR. EDWARD MANIFOLD.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 18 August 1906: 30. Web. 2 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139174270&gt;.

Edward was a good all-around sportsman excelling at cricket, football, athletics and was a member of the Trinity College rowing team while at Cambridge. However, his first love was polo and he was a member of the Camperdown Polo Club and represented Victoria, captaining the team on a tour of New Zealand in 1901.  He is seen on the far right below, along with his brothers John Chester Manifold and William Thomas Manifold, and Hexham Polo Club member, Robert Hood all members of the 1899 Victorian team.

“INTERCOLONIAL POLO MATCH.” Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 – 1900) 18 May 1899: 21. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article180224372&gt;.

Another equine interest for Edward was racing.  He was involved with the Camperdown, Terang and Warrnambool Turf Clubs and he sat on the committee of the Victorian Racing Club.  With his brother John Chester Manifold, Edward won the 1893 Grand National Steeplechase with the horse Dugan and again in 1896 with Mysore (below).

“SATURDAY’S RACING IN MELBOURNE.” The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912) 22 July 1899: 212. Web. 10 Feb 2018 .

As the years went on, Edward’s racing successes continued including the 1904 Australian Steeplechase with Airly. Such was his involvement in Victorian horse racing, since 1932, the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes is run over 1600 metres for three year old fillies at Flemington Racecourse during the Spring Carnival.  His brother Chester also had a race named after him, the listed Chester Manifold Stakes over 1400 metres run in January at Flemington.

In May 1900, it was announced Edward was engaged to Beatrice Mary Synnat Anderson, a daughter of Andrew George Anderson and Elizabeth Mary Synatt Manifold, daughter of Edward’s uncle Thomas Manifold.  Edward and Beatrice were married two months later on16 July 1900 at Christ Church, South Yarra.

“STELLA’S LADIES LETTER” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 19 July 1900: 15. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145935546&gt;.

Edward and Beatrice went on to have three sons, Peter, Andrew and Robert.

Edward was a councillor with the Hampden Shire Council from 1909 and was president on three occasions.  He was also chairman of directors of the Camperdown Cheese and Butter Factory.  Edward Manifold and his brothers were great philanthropists.  Edward supported St Pauls Church of England at Camperdown and the Anglican Diocese of Ballarat.  He also funded various scholarships at Geelong Grammar.  As a collective, the brothers funded the Camperdown Hospital and the equipment within. Edward was also a large landholder having an interest in a number of properties in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.  One of his properties was Boortkoi at Hexham (below), which was taken over by his son Andrew.

BOORTKOI, HEXHAM. J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/231806

Edward died at a private hospital in East Melbourne in 1931 and cremated at the Melbourne Crematorium.  He was sixty-three and the last surviving son of John and Marion Manifold.

“DEATH OF MR. E. MANIFOLD” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 21 February 1931: 9. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141418767&gt;.

 

Trove Tuesday – Whispering Wedding Bells

An interesting piece for Trove Tuesday this week.  From February 4, 1882, The Portland Guardian reported on some hush-hush weddings in the district with the information provided by an “esteemed occasional contributor”.  The weddings were happening but the wedding bells were not ringing.  Not only that, one groom baked his own wedding cake.

An article such as this is most useful to the researcher.  It has names, place names, marriages and religious denomination

weddings1

weddings2

The Guardian. (1882, February 4). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNING.. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63403448

I think Father O’Donoghue might have been ready for a lie down.  All those weddings and he was doing his own housework after his housekeeper, Miss Lavery was also “united in the holy bond”.  In case you were wondering, Miss Lavery’s new husband, John Quinlivan, did not bake the wedding cake just because he fancied himself as a cook… he was a  baker.

PORTLAND PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS DIRECTORY. (1890, January 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63626245

PORTLAND PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS DIRECTORY. (1890, January 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63626245

R is for…Riddiford

I had considered “R’ week of the Gould Genealogy Alphabet Challenge  an opportunity to trot out my Riddiford family as they are, strictly speaking, not a Western District Family.  However, after initially being excited at the prospect of bringing together their rich history,  I soon realised I had too much information to give a summary while still doing justice to the many stories I have found.

Now how am I going to tell you about the family of fabric workers from Gloucestershire, dating back to at least the 1500s, who spread across England, into Wales and then Canada, United States and Australia.  I really want to tell you about the criminals, including Dinah Riddiford, the oldest woman to hang in England in the 18th and 19th century and the convicts transported to Van Diemens Land, Sydney and Norfolk Island.

Then there is the story waiting to be told of the Riddifords of New Zealand, original settlers in the country, with Daniel Riddiford arriving in 1840 and making a large contribution to the pastoral history of the country.  Descendants of the Wellington pioneers  have gone on to climb Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary, sit in the New Zealand parliament, play cricket for New Zealand  and  direct, write and produce for film and television, just to name a few.

NINE GAMBLE DEATH TO SEE ROOF OF THEY. (1952, February 23). Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved September 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52848815

Or there is the Riddifords that  immigrated to Australia arriving to South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.  These included one of the most renown  Australian Riddifords, Walter Riddiford of Broken Hill.  The former miner and mayor of Broken Hill  had the Riddiford Arboretum in the town named in his honour.

MAYOR 7 TIMES ALD. RIDDIFORD WINS HONOR AT £1000 A YEAR. (1954, December 17). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved September 5, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49976381

I also would like to tell you about my Riddiford line including my ggg grandfather, Charles Riddiford, a tailor and policeman who died in the Saunderton Union Workhouse  at Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. And his son Thomas Cooke Riddiford, a some time publican and butcher who immigrated with his family to Canada in search of a better life, only to return to Buckinghamshire a few years later.

I will, however, get the chance to tell you the story of my grandfather and great-grandfather, Percy and Tom.

Thomas William Cooke Riddiford, the fourth of eight children, was born in 1875 at  the Crown Inn, Aylesbury Road, Cuddington, Buckinghamshire not long after his family had  returned to England from a failed venture to Brant County, Ontario, Canada.

While still a baby, Tom’s parents Thomas Cooke Riddiford and Emma Piddington moved the family to Clerkenwell, London where Lily Beatrice was born in 1877.  Again, the move seems to have been another failed attempt to find a better life for the family, as they had headed back to Cuddington by 1879.  Thomas senior resumed his role as publican of the Crown Inn.  Emma’s father, a victualler, also had links to that pub and others in the district.  In 1883, Emma died aged 34 and Thomas was left with eight children to care for, with three under five.

How does a family manage after such a tragedy.  By the 1891 UK Census, consequences of Emma’s death had become evident.  On the night of the Census, the two youngest children, Ernest Arthur, 11 and William Leonard, 10, were at the Aylesbury Union Workhouse.  Youngest daughter Florence, 12, was living with her grandmother, Jane Piddington and Lily, aged 14 was a servant for a Aylesbury hairdresser.  My great-grandfather Tom, then 16 was boarding at the Plough Inn, Haddenham , working as an apprentice butcher.

Where was Thomas senior by this time?  He had moved on.  To Manchester in fact, working as a cab driver and living with his new wife, Sarah Browne and their four-month old son, Arthur.   The saddest part of this stage in their lives is that I have never been able to find any trace of Ernest beyond the 1891 Census and his time in the Workhouse.  My grandfather named a son after his younger brother.  A tribute maybe?

Tom junior got on with his life, making a move to London working as a fully qualified butcher.  He married 18-year-old Londoner Caroline “Queenie” Celia Ann Kirkin on February 7, 1896 at St Barnabus Church, Kennington, London.  By the time of the 1901 UK Census, the couple were living at 169 Cromwell Road, Kensington with three sons.  Tom was working for himself as a butcher .

In 1903,  the family suffered a loss with the death of two-year old Horace. Percy Ronald Riddiford, my grandfather, was born in Leytonstone in 1904 before a break of six years when Reginald was born in 1910 at Edmonton.  That is where the family were living at the time of the 1911 UK Census, 54 Raynham Road, Upper Edmonton.  Oldest son William was 14 and working as a metal polisher, Cyril 13, was attending school and working as an errand boy for a greengrocer.  Father Tom was still a butcher, working for Universal Stores.

The former Riddiford home, possibly their last in England,  is the cream house with red flower baskets.

Something must have nagged at Tom. A feeling like his father before had felt.  How could he make a better life for his family?  In 1906, he had travelled alone to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on what appears to have been a reconnaissance trip, but he returned to London.  In 1912, Tom’s cousin Aubrey Frank Riddiford immigrated to Australia, settling at Heyfield in Gippsland.  This may have been the catalyst for Tom to pack up the family and sail to Australia aboard the “Commonwealth” arriving in Melbourne on September 15, 1913.  Many of the passengers were Assisted Immigrants and I would assume the Riddfords were among them.

SLSA: B 69878

SS Commonwealth 1911 at a pier at Adelaide.
Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, B69878
http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/70000/B69878.htm

The Riddifords moved to Smeaton, just north of Ballarat.  Lillian Ivy, the only girl in a family devoid of women, was born in 1914.  War broke out and in 1915 Bill enlisted for his new country, followed by Cyril in 1916 and Ern in 1918.  Bill was hit by an Army ambulance in France and was sent home an invalid in 1917.

ALLENDALE. (1917, July 21). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 10 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved September 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73320328

In 1922, Stanley was born at Smeaton, 26 years younger than his oldest brother Bill.

By the end of the 1920s, the Riddifords moved into Ballarat, residing at 97 Humffray Street South.  Tom and Queenie then moved to 619 Humffray Street where they remained until their deaths.

The Riddiford Family of Ballarat circa 1929
Back: Cyril Victor, Lillian Ivy, Percy Ronald, Reginald Leonard
Front: William “Bill” Thomas Frederick, Thomas William Cooke Riddiford, Stanley Gordon, Caroline “Queenie” Celia Ann Kirkin, Ernest Arthur Harold.

This photo is very special because of the circumstances in which I came to have it.  Mum and I visited an antique shop at Newlyn, north of Ballarat. We spotted some old photos with the penciled name “Riddiford” on the cardboard frames.  There were three, including the family photo and a wedding photo of my grandfather and his first wife Mavis McLeish.  The shop owner was able to tell us how he acquired them, but it’s a long story.

Thomas passed away in 1957 aged 81 and Caroline in 1962 aged 83.  They are buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery.

The boys and Lillian married, and all but Bill had children.  But there were few descendants as the seven children produced only 16 grandchildren, seven of them by my grandfather!  Of those, there were five girls and nine boys.  Seven of those boys were my grandfathers!

The most successful of Tom and Caroline descendants to date has been Ern’s son Leonard Riddiford.  Len gained a scholarship to Melbourne  High School and then studied physics at Melbourne University.  During the late 1940s, he travelled to Birmingham to work on the world’s first synchrotron under Sir Mark Oliphant’s guidance, while completing his PhD at Birmingham University.

ATOM STUDY IN AUSTRALIA. (1952, August 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved September 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18278393

To think the Riddifords were the last branch I researched.  As they arrived in 1913 and with my main interest being 19th century Australian history, I considered them newbies.  But when I did seriously begin researching the name I couldn’t stop, not returning to research my other families for months.  The research experience was also very different from my other families.  While  I have little information on my Victorian pioneer families prior to their departure from England, I have easily found information on the Riddifords from a variety of sources.

I have also had the pleasure of tracking my grandfather and great-grandfather right through to the 1911 UK census, when my other families left soon after the 1851 Census.  It has also given me a greater understanding of English history, geography and records.

The Riddifords of New Zealand consumed a lot of my time and Papers Past got a work out.  There are over 54,000 “Riddiford” matches at the New Zealand newspaper archive compared to  3449 on the same search at Trove and I have spent months just on this branch trawling through articles and books about the history of New Zealand.

Although I still have some brick walls,  I can safely say that Riddifords everywhere are related.  Like a jigsaw all the pieces have come together to form a picture of a family who today can  trace their links back to those early Gloucestershire cloth makers and, if my theory is correct, back to the Flemish cloth workers who arrived in Gloucestershire from the  1300s-1500s.  That is another facet of the tale I had intended to share.

A book on the Riddiford family history would be the best way do the stories justice.  I have even considered a One-Name study or at the very least, a blog. I don’t think I can manage any of those options at the moment.  While writing Western District Families has given me an outlet to for most of my families, it has also presented a problem. My Riddiford research has fallen into a state of neglect.

RIDDIFORD TRIVIA

It is was not only genealogists who welcomed online records.  Tabloid newspapers soon became fans too. This was evident in 2010 when a journalist wrote on the ancestry of Kylie Minogue.  Numerous newspapers and magazines ran with the story chiefly because Kylie had not one but several criminal ancestors.  Who were they?  Well they were Riddifords!  Yes that’s right Kylie and Dannii Minogue are Riddiford descendants.

Many Riddifords knew this prior to 2010 and I had myself read that the Kylie and Dannii’s mother was a Riddiford.  It was actually her grandmother Millicent Riddiford, one of the Welsh Riddifords.  Millie arrived in Australia in 1955 with her husband Denis Jones and their children.  By my calculations that would make the Minogues my 7th cousins, as we share  6 x great grandparents Thomas Riddiford and Arabella Trottman.  Distant I know, but the 8-year-old research assistant is very proud of his link, even if the kids at school won’t believe him.

An article from the Daily Mail of February 2, 2010 describes the Riddiford/Minogue relationship – Hangings, Sex Assults and Deportation: Meet Kylie Minogue’s Criminal Ancestors…

I would like to trace the Minogue line to see if Kylie and Dannii descend from the Minogue family, pioneers of Cape Bridgewater in south-west Victoria.  They too may have Western District Families.

Call it a family myth, but another piece of trivia Riddifords like to hang their hat on, is the link between Ronnie Barker and L.E Riddiford Grocers in Thornbury Gloucestershire.  The story goes that while Barker was filming in Thornbury, he was so inspired by the grocers store in High Street that he created the show Open All Hours.  If you look at the L.E.Riddiford website you will understand how this comparison may have come about.

MY FAVOURITE RIDDIFORD

This would be Edward Joshua Riddiford, born in the Hutt Valley, Wellington,  New Zealand in 1842, son of Daniel Riddiford and Harriet Stone.  Educated in Australia at Scotch College, Melbourne, Edward spent time on cattle stations in Queensland.  He often visited Australia and on at least one occasion bought stock from the Learmonths of Ercildoune near Ballarat.

IMPORTATION of VALUABLE STOCK.
Evening Post, Volume X, Issue 134, 25 July 1874, Page 2
Papers Past – http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast

The reason I particularly like Edward Joshua Riddiford is for the relationships he forged with the Maori people.  This quote from Edward’s biography by Roberta Nicholls for Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand sums him up well:

“At Te Awaiti and Orongorongo Edward Riddiford interacted constantly with the local Maori population, as he had done when he was a child. He spoke their language, employed them, shod their horses, and bartered domestic products, foodstuffs and clothing for crops and wild pork. He played cards and drank with the men; he slept with the women. Out of admiration for his forceful leadership, commanding personality, and physical prowess the Maori called him ‘King’. Because of his influence, Riddiford was able to acquire Maori land for leasehold or freehold on favourable terms.” (from the biography of Edward Joshua Riddiford, by Roberta Nicholls, Te Ara – The Encylopedia of New Zealand)

THE RIDDIFORD FAMILY ON FACEBOOK

If you are a Riddiford descendant you are more than welcome to join our Facebook group. Search “Riddiford Family” at Facebook and you will find us. There are 130 Riddifords from all over the world.  Many have commented on how they thought were the only Riddifords, rarely coming across others with the same surname.  That’s what I used to think growing up in Hamilton in the 70s and 80s.  Mum, Dad and I were the only three Riddifords anywhere in the world except for Grandpa and Grandma Riddiford and my uncles in Ballarat.  How wrong we were!

Passing of the Pioneers

I enjoy finding stories of pioneer women, as they give me some idea of the lives lived by my own pioneering female ancestors.  March Passing of the Pioneers introduces a plucky pioneer, Elizabeth Cole.  Elizabeth and another pioneer, Annie Alexander both made their mark in roles not traditionally considered the domain of women. Among the passing gentleman, I enjoyed the story of John McClounan, a well-travelled pioneer.

Mr John Lang CURRIE: Died 12 March 1898 at St Kilda.  John Currie was born in Selkirkshire, Scotland in 1818.  He arrived in Victoria in 1841 to join his cousins who had taken up land near Melbourne and then later at Buninyong.  

JOHN LANG CURRIE 1872. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/18219

JOHN LANG CURRIE 1872. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/18219

 In 1844, John purchased Larra Estate (below) near Derrinallum with Thomas Anderson.  In 1850, he brought out Anderson’s share in the property and purchased the Mount Elephant run and two years later married Louisa Johnston.

"LARRA" c1859.  Photographer John Lang Currie.  Image no.  H2013.345/42 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/320299

“LARRA” c1859. Photographer John Lang Currie. Image no. H2013.345/42 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/320299

In 1886, John bought Tintanga and Gala estates near Lismore along with having interests in properties in New South Wales and Queensland. He bred merino sheep known for the high quality of their wool.  John died at his town residence Eildon in Grey Street, St Kilda.  

EILDON, ST KILDA.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151371

EILDON, ST KILDA. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151371

Not surprisingly, John Currie left a large estate and news of its value made news across Australia. John’s son Henry Alan Currie inherited Mount Elephant station.

"A Wealthy Pastoralist's Will." Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954) 21 July 1898:  .

“A Wealthy Pastoralist’s Will.” Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 – 1954) 21 July 1898: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114964506&gt;.

For more information, John Lang Currie’s biography is on the Australian Directory of Biography site.

John McCLOUNAN: Died 2 March 1902 at Green Lake. John McClounan was born in Scotland in 1832 but left when he was twenty-one.  But not straight to Australia.  He first travelled to America where he spent seven years and then on to New Zealand for around six years.  He and his brother, his travelling companion, then moved to the goldfields of N.S.W. and then to Victoria and Deep Lead near Stawell.  They gave up on mining and moved to Green Lake to farm.  It was on this property John died, forty years later.  He was unmarried.

Isabella SPALDING:  Died March 1907 at Warrnambool. Isabella Spalding was “another pioneer “Mother of Israel”” lost to the Western District.  Aged ninety-one, her husband, James Davidson had died forty-six years before and according to the obituary, she “trained up five sons and four daughters to man and womanhood”

John Henry OLIVER:  Died 23 March 1909 at Horsham. John Oliver was the brother-in-law of Jonathon and Reuben Harman. The obituary states John arrived in Melbourne with his family in 1848. It was in fact 1849 aboard the Courier.  John had spent time around Byaduk where his family settled, however, he bought land at Sailors Home near Dimboola in the early 1870s.  After a stroke, John did return to Byaduk trying to regain his health, but he eventually returned to the Wimmera to live out his last months.

William Snaith WARD: Died 14 March 1913 at Ballarat. On arrival at Geelong in 1857, William Ward headed straight for the goldfields of Ballarat. He mined the “Hit and Miss” shaft at Creswick before taking time of mining to run the coach on the Ballarat-Buninyong Road. The lure of gold was too great and he headed to the goldfields of N.S.W. and one time drilled for coal in Gippsland.

Margaret CAMPBELL: Died 10 March 1914 at Casterton. Margaret arrived at Portland with her parents in 1855 after sailing aboard the Athletae.  She married Donald Ross in 1857 when she was around twenty-six.  They moved to Hamilton, then Sandford before settling in Casterton on the corner of Jackson and Clarkes Street in the house both Margaret and Donald died about fifty years later.

James FERGUSON: Died March 1914 at Beulah. Scottish born James was one of the early settlers at Beulah and was known around the town as “The Laird”. He was one of the first representatives of the newly formed Karkarooc Shire in 1896.  In 1908, he travelled to England and visited the place of his birth in Scotland.

Dugald MAIN:  Died 9 March 1916 at Ballarat. Dugald arrived in Geelong aboard the Star of the East in 1854 and then settled in Ballarat.  He was a builder by trade and sat on the committee of the Ballarat Orphan Asylum.

Alexander McKAY:  March 1919 at Carlton. Alexander, formerly of Mortlake, was a Scot through and through and was a keen participant in Highland games throughout the district. He was an excellent player of the pipes and excelled at the heavy lifting events of the games, such as the caber toss.

Edmond DWYER:  Died 14 March 1930 at Condah. Edmond at ninety-two was the last of the pioneers to arrive on the General Hewitt in 1856. He initially went in search of gold near Beaufort at the Fiery Creek diggings, before turning to road contracting at Portland. He worked the road from Portland to Hamilton for many years.

Mary McDONALD:  Died 4 March 1932 at Hotspur. Mary McDonald was a very old pioneer when she passed away in 1932.  She was born in the Isle of Skye in 1838 and was a teenager when she arrived at Portland with her parents in 1853 aboard the New Zealand.  She married Archibald McLean in 1862 and they settled at Hotspur and raised eight children.

Mary Jane JONES:  Died March 1932 at Portland. Mary Jane Jones was born in Portland in 1859.  She first married a Mr Jennings and they had two sons before she married Alfred Fredericks.  They had a further six children.

Martha RIGBY:  Died 11 March 1934 at Hamilton. Born in Lancashire, Mrs Jackson arrived at Portland with her parents, John and Sarah Rigby, in 1859. They settled at Heywood where she married John Jackson.  They later moved to Hamilton.  Mrs Jackson left a large family of ten children, thirty-two grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren (this was reported as seven great-great-grandchildren, so they either forgot the great-grandchildren or it was meant to read great-grandchildren).

Emma HOLMES:  Died March 1935 at Drik Drik.  Emma was a knitter.  She knitted during the Great War for the troops and later for the Methodist Babies Home at South Yarra.  Emma arrived at Portland as a seven-year-old in 1852.  She married William Mullins and they settled at Drik Drik, with Emma considered to be the first white woman to settle there.  Surely a tough time for a new bride.

Annie Gray ALEXANDER: Died 14  March 1937 at Toorak.  Annie Alexander was born near Beechworth around 1861.  She married Henry William Witton in the early 1880s.  They took up residence at Dimboola in the 1890s.  After Henry’s death, Annie did something a little different to some of the pioneer women I have written of before. She published the Dimboola Banner newspaper until 1918.

Maria Jane TAYLOR:  Died 20 March 1939 at Portland. Maria Taylor was an active member of the Myamyn community even up until months before her death at aged ninety.  She was born at South Portland and later married John Treloar at Myamyn where they lived out their lives.  Mrs Treloar had a large family of thirteen, eight of whom were still living at the time of her death.

Elizabeth COLE: Died March 1942 at Bostocks Creek. What a great pioneer Elizabeth Cole was. Born at Poplar, London in 1845, she came to Australia with her parents in the early 1850s.  She married Alexander Dalziel at Lethbridge in 1862.  At the time of her death, Elizabeth and Alexander had 120 descendants including sixty-five great-grandchildren.  What got me about Elizabeth was she was that she had been a bullock driver and one with great skill.  She also had memories of Eureka, could recall Lethbridge as a canvas town and the slab huts of Port Fairy and considered kangaroo a delicacy.  In her later years, she enjoyed listening to that modern contraption, the wireless.

PIONEER DIES IN 97th YEAR. (1942, March 17). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26091631

Mary MURRAY:  Died 17 March 1944 at Hamilton. Mary’s father was an overseer for Edward Henty at Muntham where she was born.  At the time, she was the first white child born at Muntham.  At some time, she married Mr Hallam and had many great pioneering stories.

Jean EDGAR:  Died March 1947 at Harrow. Jean was another wonderful pioneer who had been in Victoria for ninety years.  She arrived aboard the Severn which carried another great pioneer, the thoroughbred King Alfred, one of Australia’s early champion sires.

OBITUARY. (1947, March 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64410609

In 1874 she married into the pioneering Minogue family at Harrow where she lived for the rest of her life.

Passing of the Pioneers

The Portland Guardian obituaries from August recognized several residents with very early links to the Portland district. It is well worth reading their obituaries in full.

Robert HEAZLEWOOD:  Died 3 August 1892 at Portland.  Robert was one of Portland’s oldest residents at the time of his death.  He had been in Portland for around 40 years arriving from Tasmania where he had resided since age 16.  Robert ran a farrier business and was considered the best of his trade in the town.

Thomas KEAN:  Died 8 August 1892 at Portland. Thomas arrived in Melbourne in 1843 and went to Portland in 1845 to take charge of the Customs boat.  He did leave for a time when he caught “yellow fever” and joined the hunt for gold.  Unsuccessful, he returned to Portland to resume his position on the Customs boat. and was also a Councillor on a few occasions.

Frederick SAUNDERS:  Died 11 August 1914 at Narrawong.  At eighty-eight years old, Frederick Saunders had been in Australia for eighty-three years.

Francis ROBERTS:  Died 5 August 1920 at Orford. Francis was born in Tasmania and came to Victoria as a nine-year-old.  He spent time at the Firey Creek diggings and selected land at Broadwater where he farmed for the most part of his life.

Eliza Ann MALSEEDDied 13 August 1920 at Myamyn.  Eliza Malseed epitomized the pioneering women of the south-west.  She arrived in Portland from Ireland with her brothers, later marrying a cousin, James Malseed.  She and her husband, along with a small group of pioneering families, forged a life on unsettled land around Cape Bridgewater.  She was remembered as widely read and extremely charitable.  She was eighty-five when she died.

John Read HEDDITCH  Died 12 August 1927 at Cape Bridgewater.  The Portland Guardian reported that John was a descendant of the Hedditch family who arrived in Adelaide in 1837 aboard The Eden.  Also, John was apparently the first white child be born at the Henty brothers’ Bridgewater run.  He was born in 1847.

William Henry MILLS:  Died August 1931 at Trafalgar.  William’s obituary is an interesting one, not only for its insight into early Australian history, but it demonstrates the need to check the “facts” presented.  William was born in Port Fairy in 1848 and remained there before moving to Gippsland in the late 1870s.  His father was credited as being one of the early discoverers of the south-west of Victoria, arriving in 1825, two years before the Hentys.  The obituary reports that William’s grandfather was the secretary to “Captain Blyth (sic) the then Governor of Victoria”.  Of course, the obituary writer was talking of Captain William Bligh, whose official title was Governor of New South Wales.  Captain Bligh did have a nineteen-year-old secretary by the name of  Peter Mills.

Arthur Harold SUTTON: Died August 1935 at Portland.  This is a most glowing obituary and includes a description of the funeral service.  Arthur was only fifty-three at the time of his death, which shocked Portland.  His parents were Strathdownie pioneers, where Harold was born.  He served in WW1, ran a successful wool export business and served on the Portland Council.  Over 500 mourners were at his funeral, with over 100 cars (remember this is 1935) following the cortege.  This is an extensive obit which includes details of his children.

Michael James MINOGUE:  Died August 1935.  Michael was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Simon Minogue early pioneers of Portland.  A natural horseman, he at one time trained thoroughbreds.

Frederick William BILSTON:  Died August 1935 at Sandford. Frederick was the son of Thomas and Annie Bilston who arrived in Victoria in 1836. Another son, George Yarra Bilston was reportedly  the first white child born in Melbourne.  A sister born in 1840, was claimed as the first white child born on the Glenelg river.  Frederick was born in Heywood in 1849 while his parents were running the Heywood hotel.  He trained horses in his early life with the likes of Adam Lindsay Gordon.  He then became a bootmaker and then a carrier.  An expert blade shearer, Frederick would ride to N.S.W to work sheds.  His obituary includes stories of the 1851 bushfires, bushranger Frank Gardiner and high-jumping.