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An experiment with research on genealogy

By Dan Byrnes

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It seemed to me (by 2005) that Australia's family historians have been and remain somewhat slow with presenting genealogical websites, as compared with work available from New Zealanders, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

Whether this is the case or not, I set to work to do something different for genealogy in Australia in general ... which is to develop a set of pages treating the timeframe 1750-1850... the 1850s being the time of the Australian gold rushes.

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These pages treat genealogies for North America, England and Scotland, and then, Australia, roughly 1750-1850, the period of course embracing the establishment of European Australia from 1788. I call the effort, "exercises in long-range genealogy"...

The basic idea presented here is that from the time of the American Revolution, members of a few families of particular interest felt obliged to ramble right around the changing territories of the British Empire. These families are difficult to track down, but it is possible to regather information on them, and I feel, that they present a few surprises... as follows, and by way of a recontextualization of the general subject matter.

European Australia was established from 1788... as we know, as a brand-new British convict colony. Guards, convicts and free settlers arrived by ship. But unexpectedly, the convict shipping proposes a problem for Australians. What I propose is that for Australians, the convict shipping itself, as a topic, becomes a decided distraction - partly as a considerable number of free settlers arrived on ships which also carried convicts.

Various questions here are treated at length on my website - The Blackheath Connection - at http://www.danbyrnes.com.au/blackheath/

In contrast, the shipping carrying emigants to North America before 1775 was mostly "free shipping", and any convict shipping sent to North America can be treated sepearately without violence being done to the usual subject matter arising to be later considered by American family historians. This is not the case for Australians.

Today, many family historians in the US can trace their ancestors back to the famed Mayflower pilgrim ship, and other ships arriving early to North America, between 1620 and 1660.

It is also more than evident by 2005 that a good many Americans find it entertaining to compile information on their ancestors in America, who arrived before 1700, and they then set to work to find information on the ancestors of their ancestors. With this game, the prizes go to those few family names which apparently arrived to England with William the Conqueror - or "probably" arrived with William the Conqueror - 1066. Part of this game in the USA is to identify the ancestors of as many US presidents as possible.

This back-to-William-the-Conqueror research game seems not to entertain Australians or New Zealanders at all, although a few Australasian family historians might be eligible for the prizes of this game. Without asking, why not, it is relatively easy to notice that with Australasian family historians, some can press their research back to 1750, or 1650 (about the time of the English Civil War, to Cromwellian times; or earlier, to Tudor times, or, to 1350 or so. (No one in my own family has ever pressed research back than about 1798, for either Ireland or Southern England/Kent as the case may be.)

While of course, anyone in Australasia with Scottish ancestors may find it relatively easy to press research back to 1450 or so...

Noticing this, and aware of maritime history questions as above, I pressed on with research in order to reconsider questions arising in British India from 1750 or so. Here, it is interesting to consider various people with links to the East India Company (before 1840 or so) who might have had family members later settling in Australasia.

But here arise problems associated with Australia's convict shipping... a few merchant names associated after 1800 with British India ("East India Company merchants") were also associated with convict shipping arriving to Australia. Here arise more questions than answers, and any research can become complicated.

The result, anyway, is difficult to render, but it is possible. As to the work of recontextualizing, I conducted an experiment with providing notes for as many individuals as possible, to give the reader extra information on where to conduct further research. Around the world by now, many family historians placing material on the Net fail to provide contextual information on their ancestor's activities or situations. Sometimes, this is because the genealogical database being used makes it difficult to provide notes to the data being output from the database to webpages.

This is not a problem with the software I have used (see below), so I decided to make best use of this software's notes-handling facilities. Commentaries long and short can be provided, and notes can be provided on insightful books or archival material.

The result then is a set of web pages treating aspects of many family istories between 1750-1850. Where possible, I have provided means of cross-linking information on selected family histories as to historical circumstances. And of course, there arises the question of intermarriages, which inspires the cross-linking of information on family histories.

With comparing North American family histories (1620-1775) and Australasian family histories, it is easy to find a noticeable density of intermarriage. Families on Nantucket Island, north of New York, intermarried with noticeable density, giving the impression of a healthily thriving community. The more elite families of New South Wales, Australia, also intermarried densely, thrivingly and healthily, but over a far greater territory. It remain quite extraordinary, as well, how the banker families of nineteenth century Britain intermarried so densely as their British Empire grew. This was "class behaviour" in pursuit of the integrity and advance of power, influence and assets, which has still not been commented enough by historians; Marxist historians or otherwise. Australians, I feel, could view these British banker intermarriages very fruitfully.

For many reasons on today's Internet, it is far easier to research on Northern American eastern seaboard families than to research on Australasians. This is why I have provided more information on North Amerian families than an Australian might be expected to do.

As to Australians, particularly in New South Wales, we now find that Mowle's Genealogy is now out of copyright.

During the 1940s, author Mowle compiled information on noted Nineteenth Century Australian families, though he was aware his choices for inclusion in some ways were somewhat arbitrary.

The genealogical database used for these webpages is Personal Ancestral File V5, which is excellent software and much to be recommended. It is a free download, well-supported, wisely-used by other researchers, suitably inter-operable, always backs-up reliably and is flawlesly comfortable and convenient to use. In fact, of all the different kinds of software I have used on a range of computers since 1993, it is the best-behaving and most reliable software I have ever encountered. I could not possibly or realistically give PAFV5 more praise than this!

PAFV5 must remain I think as a world-reliable benchmark of excellent software development, with its developers continually working on it to advance the purposes of all kinds of users of the software.

If all software developers had the useful, responsible and positive attitudes of the programmers of PAFV5, today's computing world would be far better off! (And may that time come soon!)

Backgrounds for the webpages

Note on backgrounds used for this presentation:

Immigrants disembarking in Sydney Cove

The background used for North American topics here, a creek/pool with trees beside, has been lifted from the Internet. Somehow it seems to me to be a North American scene, not "Australian" at all.

The background used for Australian topics (as at right) is taken from Rex and Thea Rienits, A Pictorial History of Australia, Sydney, Summit Books/Paul Hamlyn, 1978; "Immigrants disembarking in Sydney Cove", from an original painting (no dating indicated as to the period) by Oswald Brierly.

(Thanks to Shane Muldoon, who years ago gave me this book as a gift - much appreciated once again.)

The background used for British-Indian scenarios is adapted from an image (at right below) originally presented by "new-wave" Indian art-and-cultural historian, Shishir Thadani on his excellent website accessed 3 September 2005 at:

non-dated Indian sculpture

Thadani's is a website devoted to art history of India; the image presented here not being dated, named, or identified as to period on his website, but obviously it is traditional and is many centuries old, and as such it can help to represent "timeless India".

Notice for netsufers

A message similar to the below is posted with each major family grouping treated in this presentation...

These genealogy pages are gathered for netsurfers' FYI purposes, not for any purposes of promoting "patriotism-via-history", of which the world has probably seen too much.
As compiler, I am simply an Australian/New South Welshman here interested in our colonial history, more economic/maritime than other kinds of history. The basic purpose of the sets of pages is to present family histories grouped in terms of a history (of some kind) of "economic operators" in colonial Australia, 1788-1900. Or, on economic operators living outside Australia who nevertheless had some impact on Australian commercial/business activities. (Anyone curious as to the emphasis given here [basically, Sydney] should read for more detail on economic operators, any book by the noted NSW historian, D. R. Hainsworth.)
Thus, the pages are more for purposes of helping to assess economic history, not for family history or genealogy as such. Hopefully, the information presented will enable the user more conveniently to filter information on the commercial folk of Australian colonies and their links to folk in India, London, or England and Scotland generally, much as is already possible with the use of websites concerned with business histories, variously, for London, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Newport Rhode Island,and so on. In general, I have tried to press genealogies as far back into the past as is possible. Children have not been found in their proper birth order as the database grew, so in some cases I have noted their birth order with notes text.
It is simply not possible to find the correct birth order of children in so many families as are listed.

The notes to individuals are given in the order in which the information came to hand - which is why many notes seem to have been gathered willy-nilly - they were! And often gathered in haste due to time pressures. But also willy-nilly at times, contributions from correspondents and emailers are often noted (with gratitude).

Generally, the book titles referred to in notes to individuals - book titles often highly abbreviated - will be listed more fully in my bibliography pages available on other websites on the Internet. As to book titles: "Burke's Extinct" refers to: John Burke and John Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland. Second edition. London, John Russell Smith. [Facsimile of the 1964 edition].
"Burke's P&B" refes to any one of many editions of Burke's Peerage and Baronetage I have consulted. Burk'es LG = Burke's Landed Gentry (various vesions). Re "GEC" - the page number(s) given are to the page numbers of the volume in question, which are alphabetical for the title name, not the actual surname, in: Vicary Gibbs, (Ed.) (GEC), The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. [Extinct, extant or dormant]. London, St. Catherine's Press, 1910. Where, we note, Gibbs, GEC, was a member of a noted family of British bankers!
Many of the sources used here were found in university libraries. Presumably this means that they will not be easily available to anyone living distant from a university.

As to abreviations used in the notes:
"Mowle's Genealogy" refers to a basic set of genealogies for Australians - L. M. Mowle, A Genealogical History of Pioneer Families of Australia. Fifth edition. Sydney, Rigby, 1978. "NSW" is New South Wales, the compiler's home state in Australia. Stenton refers to a compilation by Stenton. Valentine, Estab, refers to a treatment by Valentine on the British establishment, circa 1775 and later. Namier.Brookeand Namier/Brooke refer to compilations supervised by Sir Lewis Namier, the British historian who unfolded "family history" in British politis in a way which for a time was controversial.
Christie on non-elite mps, refers to a book of that name. DNB/EDNB refers to the English Dictionary of National Biography.
Mostly, re abbreviations various: "http" or "http loose" refers to a website with URL not noted, which just happened to provide extra data on an individual or family.
"DC" refers to Duncan Campbell (1726-1803), the overseer of the Thames River Prison Hulks. "Bligh" refers only to William Bligh, Captain of HM Bounty and later a governor of New South Wales. As to first name abbreviations: Jas = James, Wm = William, Chas = Charles, Thos = Thomas, Eliz = Elizabeth. Abbreviations other: Hodson's List refers to a noted list of British-based families active in British India. ADB = Australian Dictionary of Biography, volumes various. See also re American (USA) Dictionary of Biography = ADB. "findzzzzz" means find more information is needed on a given individual/nuclear family. "EICo/HEICo" = English/British East India Company at whatever period. "Dir EICo" means a director of East India Co. "Dir BoE" means Director, Bank of England. And so on for noted directors of other noted organisations.

Here, "dr" = either daughter or doctor medical (Dr MD) as suggested by context. "fr" = father. "br" = brother. "sr" =sister. And so on.

I have not by any means read all book titles itemised in these web pages. However, the user of these web pages will find continued use of the Internet a valuable resource for rounding out any points of interest found here.

As presented, each family group begins with a "dummylink", a hypothetical progenitor, or similarly, a "Surname senior". The hypothetical/unknown wife of a Progenitor Smith has a "surname" for the database, beginning, eg, "SNotknown Miss", so that the database does not generate an overlong list of names given as "Notknown Miss" - and so on through the alphabet A-Z.

Lastly, apologies are offered in advance for any errors present here. Errors will be amended and corrections made when time and better-quality information permit.

Dan Byrnes/The Blackheath Connection at http://www.danbyrnes.com.au/blackheath/
NB: These webpages can easily be regarded as an adjunct to The Blackheath Connection website.

A Note on Mowle's Genealogy for Australian Pioneers

Lastly, a note on a major source of information used here, "Mowle's Genealogy".

The editor of Mowle's Genealogy was "P. C." See P. C. Mowle, A Genealogical History of Pioneer Families of Australia. Sydney, Angus and Robertson, Edn 4, 1948.

Mowle's compilations were issued in multiple editions in the 1940s, when he must have been an old man, and are worth some questions. What made families eligible or ineligible for inclusion? Or as one of the family-history minded friends of the present compiler once said, Mowle's work (by Australian standards) is "snobby". True. P. C. was apparently, and during wartime, one sort of "Australian patriot".

Mowle nevertheless had several ideas in mind. One was that by sometimes providing only an outline of a given family lineage, he would attract interest in genealogy, and in time, find improved genealogies to present. (There were several families Mowle did not include, which might well have been included, for example, the descendants of William Charles Wentworth.)

P. C. Mowle presumably attracted cricitism due to his criteria for inclusions/exclusions (and quite well-deserved, I think), as in his 1948 edition he restates that his compilations would strictly follow the male line (the British system of primogeniture). Hence, descendants of daughters-only would not necessarily be included or followed up. Mowle does seem to have emphasised the careers of pastoralist families, but he certainly used a sense of Australian history that I cannot agree with.

P. C. Mowle intended that his genealogical work would be continued by his son, L. M. Mowle of Malvern, Melbourne, Victoria, but L. M. does not seem to have been interested in "the somewhat tedious job" of keeping the work up-to-date. L. M. in the 1948 edition (cited above) reprinted the prefaces to his father's previous editions, which variously stress the following:
P. C. was aware in the 1940s that the 200th anniversary of the settle of Australia would arrive in less than two generations -
that his work would "serve to show the close bonds of kinship which exist between the families in Australia and those of the Mother Country" [which his work certainly does!] -
the decision was made to include (pioneer) families establishing themselves in Australia between 1788 and 1838, the first 50 years -
but a family might be included if a settler had married a daughter of a pioneer (but the families of the daughters that settler might not be included) -
P. C. worked with the assistance of at least one member of any family he did include.

P. C. also observed that the initial work of discovering the descendants of his chosen pioneers had not been easy, and that corrections to records had been made where necessary. He had hoped that an increasing number of families who fitted his definition of eligibilty would contact him and provide their information; and he was aware that his compilations represented only a small proportion of families actually eligible for inclusion.

The latter remark has been taken seriously by the present compiler, who intends to widely expand presentations on the Internet, since Mowle's works are now out of copyright.

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