About Me

My photo
My passion is genealogy and family history. I host a podcast about Australian family history, Genies Down Under. In my day job, I work as a lecturer and a researcher in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

Follow by Email

Search This Blog

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Who on earth is William MONTGOMERY?

This blogpost is just a place to record a weird little thing I found out recently, along with a lot of questions and, as always, a list of possibilities to investigate in the future.

So, here's some background information about one of my great-grandfathers, who I tend to refer to as Walter William NORTHCOTE or "the mystery man".

My mystery great-grandfather used many first names but he always used the same surname. His varied names were recorded on a variety of records that were left behind after he died in 1888. After his death, various forms of his first name were also recorded on the marriage and death certificates of his children.
  • Walter NORTHCOTE, 1872 (Gerigeree Creek), recorded on a list of unclaimed letters in the New South Wales Government Gazette
  • William NORTHCOTE, 1876 (Bodangora Creek), recorded on his son's (Alfred) birth certificate
  • William NORTHCOTE, 1878 & 1880 (Warialda), on NSW land grant records
  • Walter Henry NORTHCOTE, 1879 (Dubbo), recorded on his son's (Carew) birth certificate
  • Walter Henry NORTHCOTE, 1881 (Warren), recorded on his son's (Percival) birth certificate
  • Walter H NORTHCOTE, 1881-1882 (Macquarie River, Gillwarna), recorded on Dubbo electoral roll
  • William NORTHCOTE, 1883 (Dubbo), recorded in Police Gazette, auctioneer's licence
  • Walter NORTHCOTE, 1884 (Girilambone), recorded on his son's (Arthur) birth certificate
  • Walter Stafford NORTHCOTE, 1886 (Bourke), recorded on insolvency files
  • George Bede NORTHCOTE, 1887 (Bourke), recorded on son's (Leo) birth certificate
  • William Walter NORTHCOTE, 1888 (Bourke), recorded on his death certificate 
  • William Walter NORTHCOTE, 1888 (Bourke), recorded on Bourke cemetery records 
  • Walter William NORTHCOTE, 1904, recorded on son's (William Montgomery) marriage certificate
  • Walter John NORTHCOTE, 1910, recorded on his son's (Carew) marriage certificate
  • William Walter NORTHCOTE, 1927, recorded on his wife's (Margaret) death certificate
  • Walter NORTHCOTE, 1930, recorded on his son's (Leo) marriage certificate
  • Walter William NORTHCOTE, 1933, recorded on his son's (William Montgomery) marriage certificate
  • Walter John NORTHCOTE, 1954, recorded by on his son's (Walter John) death certificate
  • William Walter NORTHCOTE, 1970, recorded on his son's (Leo) marriage certificate
Apart from making it very difficult to research this ancestor with at least six (William, Walter, Henry, George, Bede, John) different first names, creatively ordered on many documents, I have been asking a question for almost 30 years, why did he change his first name so often? Did he have something to hide? Was he just casual with the truth? Was he just adopting new names as he felt like it?

Together with his wife, my great-grandmother, Margaret RILEY, they gave their 7 sons some interesting names:
  1. Walter John NORTHCOTE, born in 1871 at Bodangora, near Wellington
  2. William Montgomery NORTHCOTE, born in 1875 at Mitchell Creek or Bodangora, near Wellington
  3. Alfred Joseph NORTHCOTE, born in 1876 at Bodangora Creek, near Wellington
  4. Aloysius Carew Standish NORTHCOTE, born in 1879 at Dubbo
  5. Percival Phil Ernest NORTHCOTE, born in 1881 at Warren
  6. Arthur Francis NORTHCOTE, born in 1884 at Girilambone
  7. George Bede (aka Leo Bertie Bede) NORTHCOTE, born in 1887 at Bourke
According to our verbal family history, this family of NORTHCOTEs worked along the train line, as it was opening up between Orange and Bourke during the 1870s and 1880s.

NORTHCOTE boys' birthplaces (1871-1887)

When I looked up the dates when the nearby train stations opened, the birth of their seven sons lined up with these dates:
  • Orange train station opened in 1877
  • Wellington (close to Bodangora) train station opened in 1880 (first three children born at Bodangora, near Wellington from 1871-1876)
  • Dubbo train station opened in 1881 (fourth child born at Dubbo in 1879)
  • Nevertire (close to Warren) opened in 1883 (fifth child born at Warren in 1881)
  • Girilambone train station opened in 1884 (sixth child born at Girilambone in 1884)
  • Bourke train station opened in 1885 (seventh child born at Bourke in 1887)

Opening years of train stations above sourced from: NSWrail.net (Main Western Line): https://www.nswrail.net/lines/show.php?name=NSW:main_west [accessed 14 September 2019]

Introducing William MONTGOMERY

A few weeks ago, I visited the NSW Archives at Kingswood in Sydney. I looked up a the Registers of applications for auctioneers', hawkers' and other licences. Because these records are not indexed, I browsed through the book, page-by-page. I was looking for a record of my great-grandfather who apparently worked as an auctioneer in 1883 in Dubbo, as recorded in the NSW Police Gazette. Although I didn't find my ancestor, I did find someone whose first and surnames were exactly the same as my great-grandfather's second son, William Montgomery NORTHCOTE. The man I found referred to in this index had the name of William MONTGOMERY and he was living and working in the same area near Wellington in NSW where my NORTHCOTE ancestors were living - that is, Mitchell's Creek, near Bodangora, not far from Wellington.

I found William MONTGOMERY in the 1872 and 1871 sections of the book below, Registers of applications for auctioneers', hawkers' and other licences (1865-1873).

I thought this was a bit of a coincidence that this man, William MONTGOMERY, was living in the same small area of NSW that my ancestors were living.

Yet more questions:

Was the NORTHCOTE family friends with William MONTGOMERY and his family in Mitchells Creek at Bodangora? Did they name their second son after him? Or was he a relative?

DNA questions

When I told this story to one of my genie friends, Janelle, she suggested that I consult my DNA results to find out more. "Were there any MONTGOMERYs in your DNA matches?" she asked me.

The short answer is YES! While the MONTGOMERY name only pops up at the 5-th-8th cousin level, it certainly comes up when I search for this name more than the NORTHCOTE surname comes up. I'm still not sure what this means but it sure is interesting.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Going back to 1902: Visiting the birthplace of my maternal grandmother, Lily KINGSBURY

Lily Ann KINGSBURY, my grandmother, was born on 25 November 1902 in an upstairs bedroom of no. 10 Red Lion St, a little terrace house in Balmain South (an area of Sydney now known as Rozelle). She lived in this home with her family for the first three years of her life.

10 Red Lion St, Rozelle
Source: Google Maps, 19 January 2019

Lily's father's name is recorded on the 1901 census as "Jas KINGSBURY" (James Walter KINGSBURY) who was living with three females. I think they were:

  1. his wife, Catherine KINGSBURY (nee CARRICK);
  2. his daughter, Essie KINGSBURY, born in 1891 (from his first marriage to Elizabeth CHESWORTH who died in 1893) 
  3. his daughter, Mary Elizabeth KINGSBURY, born in 1900.
The sister of Catherine KINGSBURY (nee CARRICK), Hannah STAPLES (nee CARRICK), was living next door with her husband, Edgar STAPLES, in no. 8 Red Lion St.

Excerpt from 1901 Australia Census

No. 8 and no. 10 Red Lion St are part of a set of terrace houses that were built in the 1880s, known as "Mary's row". The outside of each of these homes has probably not changed that much since they were built. Here is how they look now:

No. 8 Red Lion, Rozelle

No. 10 Red Lion St, Rozelle

Today, over 116 years later, three of Lily's descendants visited the terrace house where she was born. Along with my Mum (Lily's eldest daughter), my Aunty Mary (Lily's niece) and my Uncle Brian, we all visited the house and walked in the footsteps of our ancestors.  It was a very moving feeling to walk over the threshold of this house into the space where the KINGSBURY family lived over 100 years ago and where my lovely Grandma (my Mum's Mum and my Aunty Mary's Aunty Lil) was born.

The bottom floor was made up of two living rooms, a kitchen/laundry/toilet and a courtyard.

And the two bedrooms were upstairs. Lily KINGSBURY would have been born in one of these two bedrooms in 1902.

According to a few records I have found (1901 Census, Sands Directory of Sydney, Birth Certificate), it seems that the KINGSBURY family lived at no. 10 Red Lion St for about five years from 1901 through to 1905.  By June 1905, when Lily's brother, James Thomas KINGSBURY, was born, the family had moved to Merton St, Balmain South (now known as Rozelle).

Excerpt from 1901 Sands Directory, page 230

Excerpt from 1902 Sands Directory, page 232

Excerpt from 1903 Sands Directory, page 229

Excerpt from 1904 Sands Directory, page 226

Excerpt from 1905 Sands Directory, page 230

Thanks to a Google Alert that let me know that no. 10 Red Lion was available for rent, and thanks to the real estate agent who allowed us to look through the house this morning, we were able to walk back into the past to an important time in our family's history. We enjoyed walking on the floorboards, climbing the stairs, touching the doors and imagining the lives of our ancestors in this house.

Lily KINGSBURY as a young child

Essie KINGSBURY as a young child



Sunday, 30 September 2018

Holy Hannah! Found you at last. The burial place of Hanorah STAPLES (nee CARRICK), aka Hannah, Annie

 After searching for the grave of my great-great-aunt, Honorah/ Hanora/ Hannah/ Annie STAPLES (nee CARRICK) for almost a decade, I found it yesterday at Rookwood Cemetery. With the help of the GPS coordinates on the Deceased Search on the Catholic Cemeteries website, and just a bit more time, I came across her grave. It was quite a lovely moment, especially when I realised she had a headstone, was buried with two of her young sons and was in sight of the graves of her four other siblings who arrived with her in Australia in 1880.

In the blog post below, I will refer to her as Hanorah as this is the name on her gravestone records.

Hanorah was the sister of one of my great grandmothers, Catherine KINGSBURY (nee CARRICK). She is my 2nd great-aunt.

Who was Hanorah STAPLES (nee CARRICK)?

Hanorah STAPLES, nee CARRICK approx. 1900
[Photo courtesy of Catherine Elder, one of Hanorah's descendants]
Hanorah STAPLES was born as Hannah CARRICK on 20 December 1872 in St George, Lancaster in the County of Lancaster, Lancashire England. Her parents were Thomas CARRICK and Catherine HIGGINS, both of whom were from Tuam, in County Galway in Ireland. Thomas and Catherine moved to England from Ireland and married at the Church of St Philip and St James, Chapel St, Edgeley in the District of Stockport in the Counties of Cheshire and Lancaster on 19 November 1859.

Hannah's parents, Thomas and Catherine CARRICK, had a number of children in England after they were married:
  • James, born on 1 February (or 18 January) 1861*
  • Mary Ann born on 3 July 1865
  • Thomas born about 1868
  • Patrick, born on 24 February 1870
  • Hannah, born on 20 December 1872
  • Catherine, born 15 February 1877
* It seems that James did not travel with his family to Australia.

Hanorah arrived, wither her parents and four other siblings, in Sydney from England on 27 October  1880 on the ship, La Hogue.

She married Edgar Nathaniel STAPLES in Sydney in 1900 and had a number of children between 1901 and 1916, including:

  • Mary Agnes Madeline (also known as Madeline) born in 1901
  • Thomas Nathaniel Anthony born in 1902
  • Martin Edward (or Edward Martin) born in 1904
  • James Rowland born in 1908
  • Catherine Margaret or Margeurite born in 1910 or 1912
  • John or George J born in 1916

When did she die? Where is she buried?

Hanorah STAPLES died on 13 May 1916 and was buried on 15 May 1916 at Rookwood Cemetery. Five years before her death, one of her young sons, James Rowland STAPLES died on 23 October 1911 when he was only 3 years old and was buried in this grave on 24 October 1911. The other son buried with Hanorah was her little 6 month old son, John G STAPLES. He died on 25 November 1916 and was buried in the grave with his mother and elder brother on 27 October 1916. It seems that Hanorah died soon after the birth of this last child, John.

Hanorah's grave is located in a beautiful spot at Rookwood Cemetery.

Some help with finding her grave

I had been looking for Hanorah's grave for many years. I did get close a few times but, because I'd visited the cemetery on such a hot days in the past, I hadn't persevered in my search. Some of my notes about my searching records show comments like "Think I got close today but it was too hot to keep searching". Before the cemetery visit yesterday, I found the latitude and longitude coordinates of her grave, according to the Deceased Search on the Catholic Cemeteries website. When I typed these into Google Maps on my phone, this didn't take me straight to the exact location of her grave, but I was taken to within 50-80 metres of her grave. This was enough to get my preconceptions out of my head about where I thought she was. I had also searched for a few of the names of other people buried nearby (William John HUTTON, grave no. 588; Lucy MARTIN, grave no. 589; Robert BUTTERS, grave no. 595), so when I found these nearby graves, I knew that I was close to Hanorah's grave.

Because I had had so much trouble with finding Hanorah's grave in the past, I had assumed that she did not have a headstone so I was especially surprised when I did find her grave that she did have a headstone. It was quite an emotional moment because I felt I had let her down in the past by not finding her grave. That sounds a bit silly when I type this but I'm sure other family historians will understand this sentiment.

Close to her siblings in life and death

Hanorah travelled with her parents and four other siblings, Mary Ann, Thomas, Patrick and Catherine, from England to Sydney in 1880. They all lived around the areas of Rozelle, Balmain and Auburn in Sydney. At one stage, Hannah lived at no. 8 Red Lion St, Rozelle, next door to her sister Catherine and her family at no. 10, and just around the corner from her parents and her eldest sister, Mary Ann.

Hanorah's grave is in sight of her four siblings' graves who are also buried in Section M2, Catholic Section N at Rookwood Cemetery. Their grave numbers are:

  • Mary Ann McLISTER (nee CARRICK)
    Section Grave Mortuary 2, Area N, Grave no. 887
  • Thomas CARRICK
    Section Grave Mortuary 2, Area N, Grave no. 888
  • Patrick CARRICK
    Section Grave Mortuary 2, Area N, Grave no. 888
  • Catherine KINGSBURY (nee CARRICK)
    Section Grave Mortuary 2, Area N, Grave no. 887
  • Hanorah STAPLES (nee CARRICK)
    Section Grave Mortuary 2, Area N, Grave no. 591

The photo below shows the location of the five siblings' graves.

Although her life was short, it appears to have been lived close to her other family members. In death, she is not alone and is close to her dear siblings and some of her children.

P.S. Thanks to Janelle for the nudge to come along to the cemetery yesterday for the Rookwood Tour Day.