Saturday, August 20, 2011

Liverpool to Melbourne, early 1850s

George and Susan Griffith's first registered child, Edward George, was born on 14 April 1855 in Wangaratta, so I will take the likely period of arrival for George to be 1851-1854.   Looking at arrivals for George/Mr  Griffith/s in the PROV indexes, I can find the following candidates:

Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923



Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871


 Going on the age usually given for George, he was probably born in 1824, which means that if he arrived between 1851 and 1854, he would have been about 27 to 30 years old on arrival.  The closest candidate by virtue of age would seem to be the 26 year old George Griffiths who arrived per the Hibernia in 1852.  However, any of the ages recorded may have been incorrect, and the transcription for the index could have been incorrect, so they would all bear examination.

The Hibernia, it happens, came to Port Phillip from Liverpool, so that does increase the chances of it being the right George Griffith - but I don't know where the other vessels originated.

"List of vessels in Hobson's Bay, Sunday 10th October 1852":  Hibernia from Liverpool.
LIST OF VESSELS IN HOBSON'S BAY. (1852, October 4). The Argus p. 6.

 The other 26 year old George Griffiths who arrived by the Panama in 1852 is less likely as the ship appears (from advertising in The Argus) to have been engaged in a run from Australia to San Francisco and return.

I haven't discounted arrivals in other ports, but as I haven't thoroughly eliminated the Victorian arrivals, I'll leave those until later.

Passage to New Zealand, 1866

Returning to the question of when George first left for New Zealand, which as discussed earlier, appears to have been in 1866, I can return to the PROV  "Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, UK, NZ and Foreign Ports 1852-1908"

I don't know where George landed, but if I list the possible George or Mr Griffith/s who went to New Zealand in 1866 from Melbourne, I am left with:

Griffiths, ---, aged 38  Departed June 1866 via ship Alma for Hokitika
Griffiths, Geo, aged 30 Departed Dec 1866 via ship Otago for New Zealand

Neither of those are any good because I know that George was in Hokitika by March 1866, so I may have to look in 1865.  However, searching for Griffith/s in 1865, there is no candidate for George leaving from Melbourne.

Passenger indexes to and from New Zealand

Having narrowed down a time frame where I know when George Griffith was in New Zealand, and when he had returned to Victoria, it is time to have another look at the available passenger indexes.

In the Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923, if I search for George Griffith/s returning to Melbourne in 1867 and 1868  I find:

Family NameFirst NameAgeMonthYearShipPortFichePage

I can eliminate the one who arried in January 1867, as George was advertising his services as a piano tuner and repairer in the second part of 1867.  I can eliminate the 23 year old and the 4 year old who arrived in 1868 on their age (though I should check the indents in case the age has been indexed incorrectly), and the two Adults who arrived via the Tararua are perhaps the most probable candidates.  The Tararua was a vessel on the New Zealand run in this period.

The full index for the Tararua shows a number of Griffith/s passengers arriving on that voyage:

Family Name First Name Age Month Year Ship Port Fiche Page

Further investigation in this passenger list should be useful.  If any of the Georges is my ancestor, he doesn't appear to be travelling with his wife or children.

The Panama, New Zealand, and Australian Royal Mail Company (Limited) will despatch the following favourite and powerful steamships to the various New Zealand ports :
4th.-OTAGO, W. J. O. Symons,R.N.R., 800 tons,
150-horse power.
12th.-RANGITOTO, W.H. Bax, R.N.R.,650 tons, 
140-horse power.
20th.-CLAUD HAMILTON, J. V. Hall, jun.,
800 tons, 180-horse power.
28th.-TARARUA, Jas. Hagley, 850 tons, 150
horse power.
The above sailing dates will be as strictly adhered to as the necessities of Her Majesty's mail service will admit.
Passengers and cargo booked to all ports at lowest current rates. In order to keep time and dates, in future no cargo (except green fruit) will be received, or bills of lading signed, on day of sailing.
For further particulars apply to:
CHARLES LEWIS and Co., agents, 4 Elizabeth street south.
Advertising. (1868, March 12). The Argus 6), p. 1.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Did Susan Griffith travel to New Zealand?

In the past I have assumed that George's wife Susan and their children did not travel to New Zealand with George, but the truth is that I have no evidence either way.  I thought it was time I examined this question again. 

So far I have managed to establish that George was in Hokitika from at least March 1866 until December 1867.  He doesn't reappear in the Melbourne directories until 1869, which is consistent with him being back in Melbourne by 1868.

There appears to be a second period of absence from Melbourne in the directories, from about 1872 to 1873.  He is back in the directories by 1874.  I have not discovered where he went, if he went anywhere.

Looking at the births of their children, the sixth child, George Henry, was born in Fitzroy in 1865, and died there in 1866.  After young George the next birth involved the twins Alfred John and Charlotte Broadley Griffith, registered in Collingwood in 1867.  That would appear to be a bit of a fly in the ointment when George can be shown to be in Hokitika from 1866 to 1867, so the question arises as to how Susan became pregnant.  Was she in New Zealand for a time and return?  Was someone else the father?  It doesn't seem likely that she could have been pregnant before he turned up in Hokitika in March 1866 and have her twins in 1867.  Had she been pregnant by March 1866, the twins would have been born before the end of the year.  Perhaps George came and went a couple of times?

After the twins there is a substantial gap before the next child was born - Emily Frances, born in Collingwood in 1873, a gap of five to six years.  This could have been a natural gap, but the directories do seem to indicate that George was absent from Melbourne in the period 1872 to 1873.

There are no children born or died in New Zealand.

I haven't yet been able to find a shipping record to New Zealand for George, let alone Susan and the children, so anything is possible.    However,   taking the view that Susan may still have been in Melbourne, but I hadn't spotted her in the directories, I did a special search in the digitised Sands & McDougall directories for Susan Griffith/s, and I was surprised to turn up several references to a Susan Griffiths living at St David Street, Prahran (next to the Windsor Castle Hotel)  from 1872 to 1875.

Whether that is my Susan Griffith I have yet discover, but it does introduce another line to examine, particularly if I could discover the children in school records somewhere.

George Griffith's last resting place, Melbourne 1878

When George Griffith was buried here in 1878, the Melbourne General Cemetery was on the outskirts of Melbourne.  Melburnians could enjoy the quiet walks and gardens when they came to visit family graves.  Over the next century the city crept towards the cemetery.

George died on 31 December 1878.  The gravestone records the death date as 21 December and reads: "In memory of George Griffith died 21st Decr 1878 aged 54 years.  Also his daughter Annie died 29th Novr 1884 aged 23 years and his dearly beloved son George died 1st Octr 1897 aged 21 years and 7 months".

The grave is in the Church of England Section, plot 537.

The ability to purchase a private plot in a cemetery and erect a gravestone was an indication of middle class respectability, and that the family had done well.  Those who had not the means were buried in common graves, and the destitute were buried in pauper's graves.   It might be interesting to discover who paid for the gravestone.

According to his death certificate, George died at 49 Little George Street, Fitzroy.  He was a musician by profession, and aged 54 years giving an estimated birth year of 1824.  He died of Bright's disease, a disease of the kidneys.  His eldest daughter, Mary Jane Griffith, was unable to provide the names of his parents, but she thought his father's occupation was Bootmaker.  He was born in Liverpool, England, and at the time of his death had 7 surviving children, the youngest George Henry aged two, later interred with his father when he died aged 21.

The death certificate also indicates that George had spent periods in Victoria and New Zealand.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Unknown Gentleman of Hokitika, circa 1868

This is another unknown gentleman from the Griffith family album, taken in Hokitika in the Revell St studio of Rudolph Haigh.  Haigh took over this studio in October 1868, and it was burnt down in early 1869. 

Again, there is no further information about this gentleman other than what is in the photo.  He appears to be about 40 years of age, curly hair, slightly thinning on top, wearing rimless spectacles, droopy moustache and a long, narrow goatee beard.

He appears to be reasonably well-dressed, though the jacket seems well worn, and warm. 

He seems to be of German appearance, and of all the unknown men in the album, the one who looks most like a musician - but undoubtedly that is my wild imagination.     Does anyone recognise him?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An interesting description of the Corinthian Hall is contained in this sale notice from the West Coast Times on 26 December 1866.  J Harding, the vendor, was described in an earlier article in February 1866 as a publican, and this advertisement confirms that the business was more than just a hall, but included  hotel accommodation and bar.                                           "The Hotel is substantially built of corrugated iron, and comprises Spacious Bar, Commercial Room,  Bedrooms, Cellar, large and commodious hall, well ventilated with windows, and capable of containing 700 persons, fitted with stage and all necessary theatre fittings".                                          The Hall was also in Revell Street, Hokitika where the Victoria Hotel, operated by J R Wright, and the London Portrait Rooms, operated by Rudolph Haigh were situated - places with which George Griffith was acquainted.

Research tip, Papers Past

This is a very useful tip received from Olwyn Whitehouse a little while ago about how to get the best out of the Papers Past collection - using Google and the following research parameters, with "G. Griffith" as an example:

"G. Griffith" 1862 -"l=mi" site:
The -"l=mi" excludes results in the Maori language.  I'm putting it here mainly so I 
can find it myself, but others may find it useful too.

George Griffiths, violinist, at the Corinthian Hall

Margaret of History House Greymouth  has very kindly sent to me this advertisement from the West Coast Times issued on 15 March 1866.    Once again, I know that my ancestor George Griffith was a violinist, and I know he was in this general vicinity in the period, so I feel it is likely to be my ancestor.

This is a further refinement of the time frame in which I know he was in New Zealand.  I now know that he was in Hokitika by 15 March 1866, and he was still there in December 1867 when he was advertising as a piano tuner and repairer.

This is consistent with one of the periods in which he was absent from the Melbourne post office directories.  He was listed in 1866, which would have reflected the year of 1865, and he was re-listed in 1869, which would indicate his presence in Melbourne by 1868.

The Mr Barlow mentioned seems likely to be the versatile entertainer known as "Billy Barlow", identified in the Austral Harmony directory of Colonial Musicians as Robert Barlow.