Monday, October 16, 2017

Genealogy Rockstar Voting is Open ....


Image Sharn White Chicago 2015
REID ALL ABOUT IT...(apologies to John D. Reid for the pun). Seriously, you can read all about the Genealogy Rockstar award on John's blog Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections HERE.

John D. Ried's 6th Genealogy Rockstar Award is now open for voting! You can access voting through a google account. (This limits the voting to one vote per person to make it fair). If you haven't already signed up for a Google account it is simple and you can do it HERE.

VOTING closes this Saturday so don't delay. If you have a favourite genealogist who you think deserving of a ROCKSTAR AWARD VOTE HERE.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Nominations for Genealogy Rockstars

Genealogists can be Rockstars!

Image from "The Great Aussie Invasion" (A family reunion) 2015 Chicago

John D. Reid of Canada's-Anglo Celtic Connections has announced that, by popular request, he will be conducting his Genealogy Rockstar Poll for the 6th time. I think that John deserves a Rockstar Award himself! The Genealogy Rockstar Award 2017 is underway now and nominations are open. If you would like to add your won favourite genealogy personality to John's selected list of nominees (below), you can read about The Rockstar Poll on John's blog.

Image from my blog from previous Genealogy Rockstar Awards

Jill Ball, Australia/NZ
Nick Barratt, UK
Blaine Bettinger, USA
Angie Bush, USA
Peter Calver, UK
Pauleen Cass, Australia/NZ
Else Churchill, UK
Audrey Collins, UK
Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Israel USA
Gail Dever, Canada
Brian Donovan, Ireland
Lisa Louise Cooke, USA
Bruce Durie, UK
Dick Eastman, USA
Roberta Estes, USA
Janet Few, UK
Fiona Fitzsimons, Ireland
Heather Garnsey, Australia/NZ
Maurice Gleeson, Ireland
Chris Goopy, Australia/NZ
Jan Gow Australia/NZ
Kirsty Gray, UK
John Grenham, Ireland
Celia Heritage, UK
Shauna Hicks, Australia/NZ
Kathryn Lake Hogan, Canada
Yvette Hoitink, Netherlands
Daniel Horowitz, Israel
Cyndi Ingle, USA
Debbie Kennett, UK
Thomas MacEntee, USA
Jane MacNamara, Canada
CeCe Moore, USA
Dave Obee, Canada
Lynn Palermo, Canada
Michelle Patient, Australia/NZ
Chris Paton, UK
David Pike, Canada
Mike Quackenbush, Canada
Judy G Russell, USA
Claire Santry, Ireland
Lorine McGinnis Schulze, Canada
Helen V. Smith, Australia/NZ
Megan Smolenyak, USA
Diahan Southard, USA
D. Joshua Taylor, USA
Alona Tester, Australia/NZ
Judy Webster, Australia/NZ
Sharn White, Australia/NZ
Katherine R. Willson, USA
Christine Woodcock, Canada
Glenn Wright, Canada

Image Wikipedia ©©

I am most honoured to be on the above list of nominees, especially since serious heart problems forced me to slow down on my genealogy blogging and speaking over the past year. Recently, however, I made a return to the genealogy blogging world and have added a fourth genealogy blog to my list of blogs as well as giving my others a complete makeover!

If you happen to have a favourite speaker, blogger or genealogy personality who you think is deserving of a Genealogy Rockstar award then please nominate them for the award now. Nominations are open until Ocotber 14 2017, and voting will start around October 15. Stay tuned to John's blog for more details.

Once again, many thanks to John D. Reid for his tireless efforts to promote peer recognition for contributions to family history and genealogy. Best of luck to all and no matter who wins remember that ALL Genealogists are Rockstars!

Image from "The Great Aussie Invasion" (A family reunion) 2015 Chicago



Family Convictions - A Convict Ancestor

Sharns Genealogy Jottings

Where 'er I Wander - Journeys of a Genealogist

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Tower in My Grandparents' Garden - Places in our Lives

The Heritage Listed Paddington Water Tower, Brisbane

Paddington Water Tower,  Sharn White 2015 ©

When I was growing up in Brisbane, I thought nothing extraordinary about my grandparents having a 70 foot high water tower in their garden at 16 Garfield Drive, Paddington Heights, Brisbane. Many years later, looking back on my childhood, I realised that I had not understood the significance of the tower as a city landmark or as a fragment of the city of Brisbane's history.  knew as a child, that my grandfather was employed by the Brisbane Water Board and that his job was connected to the Brisbane water supply. On many occasions, he took me with him to show me how to check the  water levels in the various city water reservoirs. 

Perhaps I have misplaced a childish awareness of the water tower's purpose over the years. Although the Paddington Water Tower is interwoven in the fabric of my childhood memories, I don't recall knowing anything about its history. What I do remember clearly is that the tower presented a significant personal challenge to me, since I was determined to climb to the top! When I was found scaling the ladder, my grandfather cleverly clad the lower section of the ladder in slippery sheet metal. As I grew older (and even more determined to climb the tower), the metal cladding was added to, higher up the ladder. My grandfather must have had the patience of Job! He never once scolded me, as he repeatedly placed and removed that metal covering in order to climb the tower for his work. I see now the depth of my grandparent's love.

 Sharn White 2015 ©

The concrete water tower stood to the side of, and overlooked the Queenslander house in which my grandparents lived in. I know now, that the house was provided by the City Metropolitan Water Board for my grandfather to live in because my grandfather had the responsibility of taking care of the water tower. In my childhood, the house at 16 Garfield Drive, with a huge mango tree magisterial in the back garden, a  panoramic view of much of the city and the water tower beside it, was simply my grandparents' home. I was close my paternal grandparents and I spent many school holidays staying with them. For a year, when I turned 7, we lived beside the water tower at number 16 Garfield Drive with my grandparents, while we built a new home at The Gap.  

The Paddington Tower, sits affectionately among my childhood memories - sometimes it was an imagined fort, other times a castle. Its strong concrete columns were perfect to hide a child playing hide and seek. The tower was an integral element of the garden, beneath which and around the columns of, my sisters and myself, cousins and neighbourhood children played.

As a young child, I was unaware that the Paddington Water Tower was a prominent Brisbane landmark. Its wonderment to me was that it simply existed my grandparents' garden, monumental among the fruit trees and frangipanis. I never thought to ask why it was there.

 Sharn White ©

In 2015, I returned on a brief visit to Brisbane and I took a drive to 16 Garfield Drive to revisit the house and garden which had afforded me many pleasant childhood memories. The tower and the land on which it stands had been fenced off from the house. The house, now numbered 14 Garfield Drive, was undergoing significant renovations. Places of the past are significant to me as a family historian, and on this visit, as  I looked at the water tower, I saw it with a different perpective to my childish view. While it had always existed as an important part of my own life and identity, I suddenly realised the tower as a significance  element of the history and identity of  Brisbane City.

Sitting in my hire car, parked beside the water tower, with time to spare before my flight back to Sydney, I wondered why I had not thought to research the water tower before this. I googled the Paddington Water Tower on my iphone and  discovered that the tower had been State Heritage Listed on June 23, 2000. Obviously, it had long been regarded as a significant Brisbane landmark. Reading government websites and blogs, it occurred to me that while I remembered the the water tower as a place of significance in my childhood, I had overlooked its valid place in the city of Brisbane's history.

The Queensland Heritage Register informed me that the Paddington Water Tower was constructed in 1927, (the important interwar period) and was State Listed on June 23 2000, based on the following criteria: [1]

Criterion A

The place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland's history. 

Paddington Water Tower is important in demonstrating a phase in the history of Brisbane's water supply and the technological difficulties of providing reticulated water to elevate sites.

Criterion B

The place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland's cultural heritage,

The Paddington Water Tower is a rare example of an elevated reinforced concrete water tank. It is probably the only one of its type in Queensland being a reinforced concrete tank elevated on concrete columns.

Criterion E

The place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The Paddington Water Tower is important for its aesthetic qualities as a readily recognisable landmark. It is one of Brisbane's most prominent landmarks.

The Telegraph, 26 January 1929, Trove [1]

If you are interested in Brisbane City's history, you may read a charming account of the Brisbane suburb of Paddington, "Paddington - Its Charms and Contrasts", from the Sunday Mail, 6 January 1929, [2] from the National Library of Australia's digitised newspaper website, Trove. This article declared that 'Even the Paddington Water Tower, perched on a hill near the tram terminus, is a rather handsome structure, as reservoirs go, giving the impression that the Water Board and the Sewerage Board felt the attractiveness of this portion of the district, and took exceptional care not to disfigure it by erecting the usual ugly structure that makes an artificial water basin an eyesore instead of an attractive acquisition to a district.'

Image Sunday Mail 6 January 1929, Trove

My grandparents moved from the Paddington house in 1968 and my grandfather passed away in 1969. I left Brisbane in the 1970's and the water tower was no longer a part of my life. When I returned to visit in 2015, with the intrigue and curiousity of a family historian, I realised that as much as the Paddington Water Tower had been a part of my childhood, it must have occupied a much significant role in my grandfather's life. As an adult returning to this place of my childhood, I felt remiss, that I lived with this fragment of Brisbane City's heritage right beside me, and I knew so little of its history. 

The Paddington Water Tower from Macgregor Terrace, Brisbane 1929.
 Image Unknown - Macgregor Terrace in Bardon, ca. 1929[3],
 John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1929, Wikipedia Public Domain.

Newspapers are filled with a wealth of historical information, so I turned to the National Library of Australia's website, Trove [4] to find information about the Paddington Water Tower. In my search, I came across a construction drawing, (pictured below), that appeared in the Brisbane Telegraph, 7 July 1927, in which is shown a small pumphouse below the tower. Memories flooded back from my childhood, of a small building that sat below the water tower, and from which I recall a persistant humming noise resonating. I do not remember understanding that little building encircled by my grandmother's cumquat trees was a pumphouse. Perhaps I was told and I have since forgotten, for as children we are apt to take much for granted. The little pumphouse, perched among the spreading cumquat trees, was simply the place where I helped my grandmother pick fruit for making jam.

"Water Tower for Padington", Telegraph, 7 July 1927, Trove

The news article accompanying the plans for the tower's construction provided the following  information about the water tower itself:

'In a few months the skyline of Brisbane's Western Range of hills will be broken by a huge water storage tank, which the Water Supply and Sewerage Board intends placing on top of a tower over 70 feet high, now being erected on the crest of Rutledge's Hill, Paddington. It is expected that the work, which commenced in January, will be finished in September. The top of the tank will be 342 feet above sea level. The object of the tower is to give an adequate supply of water to residents living on and around Paddington Heights. At the present time the pressure in the mains is too weak. Consequently, if water is being freely used in the lowlands, a supply cannot reach the higher levels. The cost of the tower and tank, which will have a capacity of 100,000 gallons, also alterations to the mains will be about 12.000 pounds. The water will be pumped into the tower from the ordinary mains, the machinery for this being installed in a building at the foot of the tower. The tank, which will be constructed of reinforced concrete, will rest on 12 pillars of the same material. The highest structure of the kind hitherto constructed by the Board is only 202 feet above sea level.'[5]

The Paddington Water Tower was clearly unique as a water tower, in its design and height.

 Sharn White 2015 ©

The Queensland Government website where I found the Water Tower's Heritage Listing provided me with a comprehensive history of the tower,[3]  I discovered that the house my grandparents had lived in was especially built beside the water tower, for the Water Board's turncock to live in. The turncock was the person who had the responsibility of maintaining the water level in the tank. The Oxford Dictionary definition of a turncock is - 'A waterworks official responsible for turning on water at the mains.' [6]  

This job description brought to mind a story that my grandmother had told me many years ago when she explained to me why my grandfather had not fought in World War II. According to my grandmother, he was prevented from  enlisting in the army, although he had attempted to, because he was needed in Brisbane for the important role of keeping the city supplied with water. My grandfather was accordingly unhappy that this was his only contribution to the war effort, particularly as he had brothers overseas fighting. Consequently, he arrived home regularly, with American soldiers, having met them over an after work beer, and having invited them to enjoy my grandmother's home cooking. My grandmother never minded, and somehow managed to make the meals extend to the unexpected guests. I began to see that there were layers of significance that the Paddington Water Tower had for my grandparents as well as for Paddington and the city of Brisbane. 

The Paddington Water Tower, Sharn White 2015 ©

Newspaper reports covering many years, tell the story of a continuing problem of water supply to Paddington in Brisbane. The earliest account I found was in the  Brisbane Telegraph, which published a letter written by Arthur Rutledge, a resident of Garfield Drive, in which he complained about the lack of water supply to Paddington. This letter, of 16 January 1882,  provides some insight into the problems that existed with getting a water supply to the elevated suburb of Paddington Heights. Sir Arthur Rutledge, a Queensland barrister and politician who lived in Garfield Drive, (alternatively known as Rutledge's Hill and Archibald's Hill) was the author of the letter below, addressed to 'The Board of Waterworks'. [7]

The Telegraph, 26 January 1882, Trove

Below, is the reply to Mr Rutledge  from Lewis A Bernays, Secretary of the Board of Waterworks, detailing the intended solution to the problem of extending the water supply to  Paddington Heights. The intention was to replace an existing 3 inch main with a 6 inch one on Petrie Terrace. 

Reply to Mr Rutledge, The Telegraph, 26 January 1882, Trove [7]

It appears from further news reports, that little success was achieved by the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board to improve the supply of water to the affluent elevated Brisbane suburb of Paddington Heights after Mr Rutledge's public complaint in 1882. In 1911, 29 years later, another notable resident of Paddington Heights, Sir Arthur Morgan, also corresponded with the Board concerning the same issue. [8] The Brisbane Courier published an article pictured below, in which it was explained that 'A communication was received from Sir Arthur Morgan [9] complaining of the board's failure to supply water to his residence at Upper Paddington.'[10]

The Brisbane Courier, 19 April 1911, Trove [10]

Just how severe the water shortage in Paddington and surrounding elevated areas of Brisbane was, can be seen in a news article which the Maryborough Chronicle carried on February 17, 1912. Here it was stated, with regard to the residents of Paddington and Red Hill in Brisbane, that 'Those people of Brisbane have no hope of water through the day. Only at night is there any possibility of supply, and even then the actuality often ends in expectation.'[11] 

Maryborough Chronicle 17 February 1912, Trove[12]

More than 40 years later, the article below, the Brisbane Water Board was still responding to complaints to the water crisis in Paddington Heights. The following report which appeared in the Daily Standard, on 3 June 1925, shows that water supply problems to Paddington had still not been resolved and that Paddington Heights 'residents could not get enough water for a showerbath'.[9] Residents of Paddington had been fighting for an adequate water supply to their homes for over 40 years.

Daily Standard, 3 June 1925, Trove [11]

 "PADDINGTON WATER SUPPLY, The Engineer stated that the question of an improved water supply to Paddington was a very complicated one. He had not been able to get on with this work, but he anticipated that full plans and particulars would be ready by the end of August."

Telegraph, 15 July 1925, Trove [13]

If the residents of Paddington, who were unable to take a warm 'showerbath' in the middle of the July winter were happy to read the above news, their joy was to be short lived. In December of 1925, the Brisbane Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board was still making promises with regard to the 'urgency' of improving the water supply to Paddington. [10]  The news items I have presented here are just a few of the numerous articles which appeared regularly in Brisbane and other Queensland newspapers year after year, all filled with complaints about the difficulties of supplying water to Paddington. These and other news reports found on Trove, have provided me with a timeline of events leading to the construction of the water tower at 16 Garfield Drive.

The Telegraph, 9 December 1925, Trove [14]

It must have been with considerable relief that Paddington residents finally witnessed the commencement of construction of the Water Tower on the top of Rutledge's Hill at 16 Garfield Drive in 1926. "The New Water Tank at Rutledge's Hill, Paddington Heights" promised to "increase the water supply of Paddington and adjacent areas." [15] The Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board had been promising this service for over 40 years while residents endured little or no water supply to homes in an otherwise affluent suburb of Brisbane. The Brisbane newspaper, The Telegraph, [15] proudly displayed the water tower under construction in September 1926 (pictured below). The article further below, in March 1927, from the Daily Standard, proclaimed the tower to be a  'new landmark' for Brisbane city.

The Telegraph, 4 September 1926, Trove [15]

Daily Standard, 5 March 1927, Trove [16]

My grandfather, Colin Hamilton McDade, arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, from Glasgow in mid 1923 on the ship Largs Bay. Along with his father and brothers, the 21 year old had left behind a hard life as a Scottish coal miner. He settled in Brisbane finding work with the Metropolitan Water Board as a labourer.  I found my grandfather in the Australian Electoral Rolls on  and discovered that while the water tower at Paddington was being constructed, he was living in Bellevue Street, Milton only 2.3 km down the hill from Garfield Drive, via Fernberg Road. It is very likely that my grandfather watched the water tower being built. Working for the Metropolitan Water Board, in 1927, he would surely have understood the the tower's significance to the Brisbane city water supply, although in all likelihood he would not have known that he three decades later, would be living beside it, and responsible for it as well as a number of Brisbane's other water reservoirs.

Garfield Drive to Milton.  Google Maps

Paddington Water Tower from Fernberg Road, Google Maps

To learn more about my grandfather's career with the Brisbane Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board I am planning to visit the Queensland State Archives where the Board's records are held [17]  and so that story awaits a future blog post.

  Queensland State Archives Website [17]

The Paddington Water Tower was officially opened in March of 1927 with a "ceremony of importance to the residents of Paddington".[18] 
"A marquee had been erected on the gounds upon which refreshments were provided and a number of toasts honoured." [18]

Finally, after a struggle spanning almost 50 years, by residents of Paddington to have a water supply to their homes, "the power for the motor which hoists the water into the tank was then switched on by Mr. J.J. Roberts, who referred to Paddington Heights as the dress circle of Brisbane,"[18]

The president of the Metropolitan Water Board, Mr. E.J.T. Manchester declared that 
"it had always been the aim of the Water Board to afford facilities to the residents on elevated land to be given a full water supply,"[18]

The following news report which appeared in the Brisbane Telegraph on 5 March 1927, dates the construction of the house in which my grandparents lived, to after the opening of the tower itself.[19] 

The Telegraph, 5 March 1927, Trove [19]

"It is proposed to erect a caretaker's cottage beside the tank, a tender for this work having been accepted. The surroundings will be beautified by gardens."[19]

 My grandparents moved into the house, numbered 16 Garfield Drive, Paddington Heights between 1954 and 1958 when they appear on the Australian Electoral Roll residing there. Prior to the move to Garfield Drive, and after their marriage in 1930, my grandparents lived at 49 Lewin Street, Bardon. Google Maps calculates the walk from Lewin Street to the nearest shops and the tram stop, in Macgregor Terrace as 12 minutes. I know from my grandmother's anecdotes that she regularly caught the tram from Macgregor Terrace to the city to do her shopping, so the water tower in Garfield Drive would have been a familiar sight to her long before she lived in the house beside it. Each time she caught a tram to the city and back she would have seen the water tower at the top of Garfield Drive. I can only assume that she never once imagined that she would one day live in the 'dress circle' [18] of Paddington Heights, Brisbane right next to the tower.

View of the Paddington Water Tower from Macgregor terrace heading towards Brisbane CBD, Image Google Maps.

A closer view of the Paddington Water Tower travelling along Macgregor Terrace towards the City

The places where we and our ancestors have lived and belonged to are an inherent part of our own identity - of who we are. Understanding the history of the places we relate to, helps us to have a better sense of belonging, and some understanding of our own place in history. When I visited the Paddington Water Tower in 2015, I was visiting a place I had belonged to in the past. By researching the water tower I have been able to place myself, my family and my grandparents within an historical context of the the city of Brisbane where I grew up.

Extra Reading

The Rockhampton, Morning Bulletin published  An Historical View of Brisbane's water supply on 8 March 1828.


1. The Telegraph, "Water Towers", 26 January 1929, p 4., Trove, National Library
    accesed 19 September 2017.

2.. Sunday Mail, "Do you know your Brisbane - Paddington its Charm and Contrasts", 6 January
    1929, p. 4., Trove, National Library of Australia,  
   accessed 19 September 2017.

3. Photograph, "The Paddington Water Tower from Macgregor Terrace, Brisbane ,1929"
    Image Unknown Macgregor Terrace in Bardon,  ca. 1929[3], John Oxley Library, State Library 
    of Queensland, 1929, Wikipedia Public Domain.

4. Brisbane Telegraph, "Water Tower for Paddington", 7 July 1927, p. 16., Trove, National Library 
    of  Australia,

5. Queensland Government Website, Heritage Register, "Paddington Water Tower," History,
     register/detail/?id=601831# / accessed 20 September 2017.

6. English Living Oxford Dictionaries, "Turncock",
     accessed 29 September 2017.

7. Telegraph, "Paddington Water Supply", 16 January 1882, p 2., Trove, National Library
    followup=8fe039342cad2ae9bc05e21baae3caf3&print=true / accessed 30 September 2017.

8. Brisbane Courier, "Water and Sewerage Board, Upper Paddington Water Supply", 19 April
    1911,  Trove, National Library of Australia,
    searchTerm=paddington%20water%20supply&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# accessed
    18 September 2017.

9. Australian Dictionary of Biography, "Morgan, Sir Arthur", (1856-1916) / accessed 2 October 2017.

10. The Brisbane Courier, "Water and Sewerage Board, Paddington Water Supply", 19
    April 1911, p. 3., Trove, National Library of Australia,
    searchTerm=paddington%20water%20supply&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# /
    acessed 17 September 2017.

11. Maryborough Chronicle, "Water Supply," 17 February 1912, p. 5., Trove, National Library of 
    2 October 2017.
12. Daily Standard, "Paddington Heights, Water Supply Problems", 3 June 1925, p. 1., Trove, 
    National Library of Australia,  
    searchTerm=paddington%20water&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# / accessed 1 October 2017.

13. The Telegraph, "Paddington Water Supply", 15 July 1925, p. 16., Trove, National Library of
    earchTerm=paddington%20water&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# / accessed 3 October 2017.

14. The Telegraph, "Paddington Heights, Water Supply Urgency", p. 15., Trove, National Library of
    searchTerm=paddington%20water&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# accessed 30 September

15. The Telegraph,"Improving Paddington Water Supply", 4 September 1926, p. 14., Trove, National    Library of Australia,      
    followup=e33ab58d7d2dbaa28aff2477c13f1014&print=true / accessed 1 October 2017.

16. Daily Standard, "New Landmark, Water Tower on Paddington Heights", p. 6., Trove,
    National Library of Australia,
    searchTerm=paddington%20water%20tower&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# /
    accessed 17 September 2017.

17. Queensland State Archives, Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Agency ID 1385,
    accessed 1 October 2017. 

18. Brisbane Courier, "NEW WATER TOWER, Paddington to Benefit", 5 March 1927, p. 7.,
    Trove, National Library of Australia,
    searchTerm=Paddington%20water%20tower&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# /
    accessed 1 October 2017.

19. The Telegraph, "New Tower at Paddington, The Official Opening", 5 March 1927, p. 9.,
    Trove, National Library of Australia,
    searchTerm=Paddington%20water%20tower&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland /
    accessed 4 October 2017.

Other Sources 

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bernays, Lewis Adolphus (1831-1908),  / accessed
    1 October 2017.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Morgan, Sir Arthur (1856-1916), / accessed 2 October 2017.

Morning Bulletin, City of Brisbane, "The Water Supply, An Historical Review", 8 March 1928,
    p.4., Trove, National Library of Australia, 
    searchTerm=Paddington%20water%20tower&searchLimits=l-state=Queensland# / accessed 1
    October 2017.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Rutledge, Sir Arthur (1843-1917), / accesed 2 October 2017.

Queensland Government Website, Queensland Heritage Register, Significance, "Paddington Water Tower"
  register/detail/?id=601831# / accessed 20 September 2017.

Your Brisbane: Past and Present,  Paddington Water Tower, / accesssed 25
    September 2017.

Wikipedia, Paddington Water Tower, ,
    accessed 19 September 2017.

Wikipedia, Sir Arthur Morgan, Queensland Politician, / accessed 29 September

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Butcher of Bearsted - Dispelling the Family Myth

The Butcher of Bearsted - Dispelling the Jeremiah Dunster Family Myth

Holy Cross, Bearsted, Kent Imahe Wikipedia ©©
Once upon a time, great great great grandpa Jeremiah Dunster, a butcher of Bearsted, Kent, married Mary Kedwell at St Margaret's Church, Canterbury. His ancestry went back to William the Conqueror. So the story goes...Or does it?

Many years ago when I was new to family history, a relative handed me the 'completed' genealogy of my husband's DUNSTER family (I'm sure alarms bells are sounding for many of you already). Cousin Bernice* (*not her real name) had years earlier, travelled from Australia to Kent in England, where, from her diligent gathering of parish records, she had compiled the Dunster family tree. Other family members had contributed to the tree also. New to researching family history, in the days before I wrote blogs about finding evidence and the necessity for genealogical proof, I assumed that every family tree was the result of thorough research. Way back then I made a huge mistake  - I accepted the Dunster tree without questioning the research that supported it. 

Nothing beats thorough genealogical research! Image Nick Youngson, The Blue Diamond Gallery  ©©
As time went on and I studied genealogy courses and progressed as a researcher, the Dunster ancestry troubled me more and more. As exciting as it would be to descend from Charlemagne and Alfred the Great, to to trace your lineage back through the Queen Mother's Bowes-Lyon family and to be a 23rd cousin to Prince William and Harry, and while there are Dunsters whose lineage does go back to famous names in history, I suspected that our Jeremiah Dunster had been attached to the wrong parents and so the wrong family tree. 

Image Pixaby ©©
Many years ago when I was training to be a teacher, my Early Childhood Education lecturer taught me to view children's mistakes as a learning tool. This is a lesson I have carried with me throughout my life. The mistake I made with this family tree was a huge learning curve for me as a researcher. It demonstrated to me the importance of finding evidence through thorough research. In this blog post I will show why my research conflicts with the royal version of the Dunster descendancy and in doing so, I must dispel the myth about the origins of Jeremiah Dunster, butcher of Bearsted. 

Image Pixabay ©©
My husband David descends on his mother's side of his family from Sophia Dunster, whose family of Dunsters emigrated from Kent to NSW, Australia in 1838. This family descends back through Joseph Dunster [1788] and James Dunster [1764] to Jeremiah Dunster born circa 1730 in Kent. Thus far in her research of the parish records in Stone in Oxney, Kent, cousin Bernice was very thorough. Somehow, Jeremiah's parentage and his ancestry has since become - as I recently saw it described on a genealogy chat site - a "car crash".  I can only assume that the writer of this comment has seen the number of incorrect Dunster family trees online. The simple mistake of giving Jeremiah the wrong parents has led to many family trees affording this Dunster family a royal heritage that is not its birthright.

"Oh dear... are we not Royal after all?" Image Wikipedia ©©
I do not know how the myth began that Jeremiah Dunster was the son of William Dunster Esquire and his wife Ann Vanderput (spelled Vandeporte on their marriage record). When I was given this tree in my novice days as a family historian, I accepted the information without questioning it and without researching the facts for myself. I added William Dunster and Ann Vandeput/ Vandeporte to the family tree as Jeremiah Dunster's parents - if so many people believed this then it must be right - yes? In those beginner days, I researched backwards from William Dunster and Ann Vanderporte and in doing so I contributed to the myth of my husband's 'royal' heritage. This mistake was possibly my best learning tool as a genealogist, since it taught me very quickly, the importance of finding evidence.

The person named incorrectly as Jeremiah Dunster's father is William Dunster (c 1669 London), the son of Henry Dunster and Mary GARDINER. This Dunster family hailed from Somerset. Mary Gardiner was the daughter of Henry Gardiner of Hertfordshire and through various marriages this family boasts surnames such as HOWARD, DE BEAUMONT, DE NEVILLE, BOWES and so on... lines of heritage connected to Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror - in short, a most royal ancestry. I have researched William Dunster's lineage and I am going to declare that William Dunster and Ann Vanderput or Vandeporte were NOT the parents of Jeremiah Dunster, butcher of Kent. (There is always the possibility of course that DNA might connect the Kent Dunsters to the Somerset Dunsters and even to royalty - but it would be somewhere further back in the Dunster ancestry than Jeremiah.) 

Bowes Lyon Crest. Image Wikipedia ©©

At the time of his marriage to Mary KEDWELL at St Margaret's Church Canterbury, in 1751, Jeremiah Dunster was working as a butcher in Bearsted, Kent. This fact, recorded on their marriage record, presented the first problem for me. Why would the son of William Dunster Esq, of Leytonstone, Essex, have been employed as a butcher in Bearsted, Kent? Of course, people did move around even in the 18th century, and I have learned during my years of researching family history to expect surprises. In addition to the problem I had with Jeremiah's occupation, was the name Jeremiah itself. In a family of Lords, Earls, Barons and Kings, I discovered long tradition of names such as Henry, William, Robert and Edward. Of course I realised it was not impossible that Jeremiah belonged to this royal family - in an also very long tradition of Scottish naming patterns in my own McDade family (John, James, Robert and Andrew), my grandfather, Colin Hamilton, was named after the doctor who delivered him when the family simply ran out of names!

Image Wikipedia ©©
Suspicion is a starting point to finding the truth, but thorough research and evidence is needed to support any theory. I knew that I could be wrong. Jeremiah, the butcher of Bearsted, may well have carried the bluest of bloodline and simply have had a passion for carving up and selling meat. His mother might have broken with family tradition and given her son a biblical name or even named him after the local doctor, as happened in my own family. I doubted this, and with the Dunster family's ancestry troubling me, I set off on a quest for evidence to prove once and for all, whether Jeremiah's parents were William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vanderput. 

I must say that cousin Bernice, did a splendid job of trekking around Kent years ago, collecting parish records, and as far back as Jeremiah Dunster the family tree was solidly researched. When she travelled to Kent many years ago to gather information, it was before the age of the internet and Bernice collected copies of original documents from parishes which she visited in person, To do this she had to know which parishes the family lived in. Although in my opinion, nothing beats seeing original old documents and transcribing them oneself, the internet does have the advantage of presenting a wider picture of more than just the parish records in the few parts of Kent that our Dunster cousin visited. I can search for records in Archives and Record Offices in Kent, and in fact all over England, for Jeremiah Dunster's birth and for records relating to William Dunster Esquire and Ann Vandeporte. But although it has benefits for research, the internet is also responsible for the explosion of car crash Dunster family trees copied from each other. On my family tree, Jeremiah Dunster has remained parentless while I searched for evidence, but still he remains perched on many incorrect royal family trees.

I will explain the evidence that I have found to show that William and Ann Dunster were not the parents of Jeremiah Dunster.

Image National Library of NZ, Wikipedia ©©
London born William Dunster Esq., an English politician, and Ann Vanderporte were married at St Olave, Hart Street, London on May 1, 1712. The couple's first child, a daughter Mary, was baptised at St Mary's, Leyton, Essex on *March 17, 1712. (*many thanks to my friend Jenny Joyce for reminding me that until 1750, new year's day was celebrated on 25 March. If this couple were married in May 1712 then the baptism in March 1712 would have been ten months later).  A second daughter named Jane, was  also baptised in St Mary's church in Essex in February 1713. 

In 1748, along with two other prominent Leytonestone residents William Dunster Esq. built a new chapel on the High Road (now the church of St John the Baptist). This chapel, was in part for the benefit of the local poor, and was needed because the increasing population in the area meant that the exisiting church of St Mary's  had become too small.

St Mary's Church, Leytonstone, Essex, Image Wikipedia ©©
William and Ann Dunster both died in Leytonstone in 1754 within several months of each other. Their daughter Jane had passed away before her parents. William and Ann's daughter Mary Dunster, married a wealthy Leyton merchant named Samuel Bosanquet in St Mary's Church, Leytonstone on November 6, 1733. She lived with her husband and children in Leytonestone until her death in 1765. The families of Dunsters and Bosanquets were active members of the Leyton community in Essex, for several generations, if not more.

There is no record of the birth or baptism of a son named Jeremiah, in Leytonstone, Essex or anywhere else in England to William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vanderporte. Lack of a birth or baptism record of course, does not prove or disprove parentage, but this negative evidence further supported my theory. I have created a timeline of events for the lives of William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vandeporte and their two daughters whose baptisms I found in Leytonstone, Essex.

1712 Baptism of Daughter Mary - March 1712, Leytonstone, Essex
1712 Marriage - 1 May 1712, St Olave, London
1713 Birth of Daughter Jane - 1713, Leytonstone Essex
1733 Marriage of Daughter Mary to Samuel BOSANQUET, 6 November 1733, Leytonstone, Essex
1748 Construction of a new Chapel in Leytonstone by William Dunster Esq.
1750 Opening of the Church built by William Dunster Esq.
1754  4 May Probate Granted for William Dunster of Leytonstone
1754 6 September Probate Granted for Will of Ann Dunster, Widow, of Leytonstone, Essex
1765 Death of Mary Bosanquet, daughter of Willam Dunster Esq. and Ann Vandeporte,
         Leytonestone, Essex   

Baptism of Jane Dunster, Leyton Image
In May and August of 1754 probate was granted for William and Ann Dunster's Wills. They were both living in Leyton, Essex at the time of their deaths. These documents are now available to read on, but years ago I paid to have them copied and posted to me by 'snail' mail in Australia from the National Archives in Kew, England.  

Will of William Dunster 2 May 1754
The Wills made by William and Ann Dunster were of great importance in my search since it was here that I finally found  evidence that Jeremiah was not their son. Both Wills are extremely detailed and are many pages long. Both Wills name their ONLY HEIR as MARY BOSANQUET, married to Samuel Bosanquet of Leyton, Essex. Jane assumedly had died prior to these Wills being written.  Ann Dunster's Will is particularly detailed and names nieces, nephews, many family members, friends and even her servants. There is no mention of a son named Jeremiah in William or Ann Dunster's Wills in 1754.

There is further confirmation that the only surviving child of William Dunster Esq. and his wife Ann was a daughter named Mary (Bosanquet). St Mary's Church, Leytonstone has the following memorial on the west wall of the church. 


David Ian Chapman has written a fascinating guide to the memorials in this church in his book,  A Guide to the Interior Memorials in The Parish Church of St Mary's Leyton. A pdf version can be found online here.  The following memorial to the son of Mary Dunster and Samuel Bosanquet is located on the west wall of St Mary's church. I have highlighted the crucial wording in the memorial below -"Mary... sole daughter and heiress of William Dunster Esquire." 

On the north wall of St Mary's church is another memorial to Mary Dunster's husband, Samuel Bosanquet where again it states that Mary was the 'daughter and sole heir of William Dunster late of this Parish Esqr.'.

Samuel Bosanquet, of Forest House. Sacred to the Memories of SAMUEL BOSANQUET of Foreft Houfe in this County Efqr who Died the Fourteenth Day of January 1765 Aged 65 Years And of MARY his Wife (Daughter & Sole Heirefs of WILLIAM DUNSTER late of this Parifh Esqr ) who Died the Fourth Day of Sepr 1765 Aged 53 Years Leaving IfSUE Surviving them two Sons & two Daughters SAMUEL, WILLIAM, ANNA MARIA and MARY Let me Die the Death of the Righteous and Let my last End be like his. Numb XXIII. X

 St Mary’s Church. Grade II* Listed building. Leyton parish church dating back in parts to the mid 17th century although much altered. Domesday book records two priests in 1086, so the current church probably occupies the site of a much earlier building - 35 Church Road, Leyton, London E10 5JP Image ©©
William Dunster Esquire of Leytonstone Essex and Ann Vandeporte both stated in their 1754 Wills that Mary Bosanquet was their sole surviving child. This claim is supported by testimonies in the local church of St Mary's. The Dunsters and Bosanquets of Leyton were great benefactors of the poor. Ann Dunster (Vanderporte)left amounts of money to charitable causes and to her servants. William Dunster cared so much for those less fortunate than himself, that he built a church for the poor of Leyton in 1748. These Dunsters were not the kind of people to leave a son out of their estate when they died. Mary Bosanquet, their only surviving daughter and heiress to their estate, died in 1765 and her own Will made no mention of a brother.

St John the Baptist, Leytonstone, Essex Image Wikipedia

It is important to consider PLACE when searching for PEOPLE. 
William and Ann Dunster and their daughter Mary lived their entire married lives in Leyton, Essex. Jeremiah Dunster lived and worked in Kent. When Jeremiah Dunster married Mary Kedwell in 1751  he was working as a butcher in Bearsted in Kent. By 1756, he was living in Stone in Oxney also in Kent. Jeremiah Dunster and his wife Mary had five children in Stone in Oxney and remained there for their lifetime. Since males sometimes moved to the parish where their bride resided, and vice versa, this discrepancy alone was not sufficient evidence to dispute Jeremiah Dunster's parentage. Alongside other attestations, however, it produces a strong argument that Mary Bosanquet, daughter and heiress of William Dunster Esq. and Ann Vandeporte of Leyton, Essex, most likely did not even know of the existence of Jeremiah Dunster, the butcher in Kent. 

A search throughout all of England for the birth of a Jeremiah Dunster, shows that six people with this name were baptised between 1680 and 1740. Five of these baptisms took place in Kent.  No Jeremiah Dunster were baptised in Essex or was born to parents named William and Ann.

1683 Devizes, Wiltshire [Jeremiah and Susanna]
1701 Biddenden, Kent [John and Elizabeth]
1724 Hawkhursrt, Kent [James and Susannah]
1731 Tenderden, Kent [Jeremiah and Judith]
1738 Charing, Kent [Jeremiah and Mary]
1739 Charing, Kent [Jeremiah and Mary]

I have now researched the lives, marriages and families of each of these Jeremiah Dunsters. By a process of elimination and finding evidence, I have reached a conclusion as to which of the above parents should be on our Dunster family tree. In the near future I hope that DNA will confirm my theory. Out of a mistake will come the truthful ending (albeit less magical than the royal one) for the story of Jeremiah Dunster, the butcher of Bearsted. While writing this post, a song has been playing over and over in my mind. The song is an old favourite of mine called * "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" . The story of my Jeremiah will not end, however, with a frog turning into a prince. Quite the reverse and who his parents are is a tale for another time...

* Originally written by Hoyt Axton and named "Joy to the World". Sung by the band, Three Dog Night. 


Baptism of Jane Dunster,, England Births & Baptisms 1538-    1975,

Baptism of mary Dunster,, England Births & Baptisms 1538- 

Baptism of Jeremiah Dunster, 1756, Stone in Oxney, England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,

Marriage of Jeremiah Dunster and Mary Kedwell, The National Archives; Kew,  England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate    Jurisdictions: Will Registers;  Class: PROB 11; Piece: 810, England & Wales,  Prerogative Court of Canterbury  Wills, 1384-1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:  Operations, Inc., 2013.

Will of William Dunster Esq.,The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of  Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11;  Piece: 808, England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384- 1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013/ accessed 2 September 2017

Will of Ann Dunster, The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 810, England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013/ accessed 1 September 2017

Chapman, David Ian, A Guide to the Interior Memorials in The Parish Church of St Mary's Leyton,