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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.

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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

Catherine KINGSBURY (nee CARRICK)

James KINGSBURY