Friday, 26 October 2012

For a Pittance photos

At the Easter weekend last year I had the privelige of being chosen by Mine Konakci to be photographed for her "For a Pittance" gallery of work, and the results are below. Mine's photography skills are amazing, if you want to check them out see . She had advertised in the Australian Family Tree Connections magazine for anyone with convicts in their family who might be interested. Seeing as I have 5 of them (Australian Royalty - hand chosen by the finest judges in England!), I thought I'd honour one of them in this way.

Here's what she wrote about her inspiration for the project:

“Most convicts transported to Australia were convicted of petty theft, the majority of which were considered to be minor crimes by today’s standards. Stolen items varied from shoes to fabrics, coats to pocket watches, purses to sheep, and jugs to yarn. More than 160,000 people, an overwhelming number, were transported ‘beyond the seas’ between 1787 and 1868 to serve their sentences, which were usually seven or 14 years.

As a photographer, what interested me was the impact that the theft of objects—most of a relatively small value—could have on people’s lives. As a result, the photographs depict the descendants with a representation of the item that their ancestors had stolen; with the items providing a link between the ancestor and descendant.”
Mine Konakci

My ancestor chosen was my 5x great-grandmother, Esther Spencer, who I have blogged about in an earlier post. According to the Old Bailey she was “indicted for stealing, on the 17th of July [1794], two silver salt holders, value 18s. two silver salt spoons, value 2s. two silver pepper castors, value 1l [sic. Shilling maybe?]. a silver table spoon, value 14s. the goods of Jacob Ruffy.”  Initially she was sentenced to death, but that was thankfully reduced to transportation for life instead. Lucky for me!!

The bottom photo includes my daughters, Kate, aged 7 (on the right) and Georgia, aged 4.
We don't have the items that Esther stole at the time - they would have been returned to their Mr Ruffy I presume -  so we improvised with various other bits of silverware.
Thanks to Mine Konakci for permission to use the photos in this way.
PS Next time I have such an important photo taken I'll make sure my fringe is cut straight ;)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Third Fleet Transport - Albemarle

If I could make any sense of how to post this message to the Ancestry message boards I'd put it there, but seeing as it's like navigating blind, I'll post here instead:

I've just bought a copy of a book called:

Third Fleet Transport
An Alphabetical Listing of Convicts, Masters, Crew, Naval and Military
Compiled by Merrilyn Minter (RIP)
Published by the Newcastle Family History Society Inc.

Anyone who wants a look-up from the book, just message me any time.
My own ancestor is listed: Thomas Stubbs.

Nothing wrong with this picture!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My favourite convict, Esther (Salamon) Spencer

I have 5 convict ancestors, and following is my account of my favourite, Esther Spencer (nee Salamon), who was a most remarkable woman. I hope someone out there knows more about her story and can fill in some blanks for me!

Esther was born sometime between July and October 1775, presumably in England. Sadly the UK census doesn’t start until 1841, by which time she is in Australia, and it’s impossible to find a missing person gap in a census. I have no details of her baptism because she was Jewish, and the birth of Jewish girls wasn’t usually recorded. Consequently I have had 20+ years of fruitless searching for her parents.

Sometime before she turned 19 she married a Mr Spencer (the marriage record can’t be found, either), and then was convicted of theft on 16 July 1794 at age 19, and tried at The Old Bailey. She was “indicted for stealing, on the 17th of July, two silver salt holders, value 18s. two silver salt spoons, value 2s. two silver pepper castors, value 1l. a silver table spoon, value 14s. the goods of Jacob Ruffy.” The Newgate Prison entry book describes her as being “19, 5’4”, dark hair, dark eyes, dark complexion, London, married woman Jewess”. Originally she was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to transportation to Sydney for life. In her appeal against the death sentence she said she was pregnant (as you would!) but this may have been a fabrication. She spent a couple of years in Newgate before sailing.

Esther arrived in Sydney on the Indispensable in 1796 where she had quickly took up with fellow convict John Fitz, with whom she had her first two children. She had her first child, Susannah, baptised twice, a year apart, and with a different father listed each time! Her second child, Joseph, died as an infant and was buried in the cemetery where Sydney Town Hall now stands. Fitz then disappears from the records and in 1800 Esther takes up with fellow convict and builder, Englishman Thomas Stubbs. They have nine children together, the first being my 4x great-grandmother, Mary Anne (Marian) Grace Spencer Stubbs. Their second son, Thomas, was a well renowned auctioneer, composer and musician.

Governor Hunter gave Esther land in Phillip Street in 1797, not long after her arrival, where she ran a boarding house. She and Thomas were also known as “dealers” which involved selling goods from arriving ships.

Esther and Thomas Sr were never married, presumably because Esther was still considered married to Mr Spencer, even though they were to never see each other again. Esther and Thomas had a colourful life in the centre of Sydney, being involved in a few court cases, one where Thomas allegedly threatened to strike a man with a tree branch who was stealing quinces from their tree.

Thomas died at the young age of 41, and within a year Esther started a relationship with Joseph Bigge, who had been the coachman for Elizabeth Macquarie. He arrived as a free man in 1809 on the Dromedary. They had two children together, and “Joe the Coachman” as he was known also apprenticed one of Esther and the late Thomas’ sons to him at the livery stables. Sadly Joe died at age 65 in 1833 of horrific burns after falling into his bedroom fireplace at their house above the stables in Phillip Street, Sydney, where the old Police Station building is, down near Circular Quay. According to newspaper reports he had been insane for some time prior to this.

Esther sold off the livery business after his death and used the proceeds to establish the first bathing house in Sydney for ladies and children, at the site of the Andrew “Boy” Charlton Pool at Woolloomooloo Bay. She charged “1 pound per quarter for a lady and three children – for a single lady ditto 10s, and a single baths 6d.” The site was a natural rock shelf into the Harbour where Aboriginal people have been bathing for centuries. As well as providing a bathing service there was also a religious need being met by these baths, as it is Jewish custom for the bride to bathe in sea water on the day of her wedding or the day before, as a form of purification before the ceremony. So Esther was helping keep alive her Jewish traditions in a predominately Christian Sydney. All of her children were baptised in the Anglican Church, presumably as there was no other option available to Esther at that time.

Esther was never granted a Pardon, or Ticket of Leave, and died at age 80 in 1855 and was buried in the Jewish section of the Devonshire Street Cemetery. In 1901 the cemetery site was needed for Central Railway Station, and Esther’s remains were re-interred at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park, known then as Bunnerong. Unfortunately there is no headstone to mark her grave.

She had a very long and colourful life and I’m proud to be descended from such a strong and resilient woman.

Hopefully there are some researchers out there who see a gap in their Salamon family tree and realise now who fits in the spot!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How to Calculate the Cousin Relationship

Having made contact with a few distant relations this past couple of months has always resulted in the question: "So how exactly are we related?"

Here's how to figure it out.....
  • First cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you.
  • Second cousins have the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.
  • Third cousins have in common two great-great-grandparents and their ancestors.
When cousins descend from common ancestors by a different number of generations they are called “removed.”
  • Once removed means there is a difference of one generation. Your mother's first cousin would be your first cousin, once removed. She is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents.
  • Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. Your grandmother's first cousin would be your first cousin, twice removed because you are separated by two generations.
Still confused??