Monday, June 19, 2017

Dear George, I am coming to get you.

Courtesy of Pixabay
George Griffith is one of my few ancestors who stand out from the crowd of agricultural labourers in my family tree. He described himself as a Professor of Music, and was able to play complex orchestral and liturgical pieces.  He played and taught violin and piano, but was not above leading a goldfields “N****r Band” when the circus came to town.

He was very consistent in giving his native place as Liverpool, and his birth year of 1824.  He was very inconsistent in giving a date and place of his marriage to my great great grandmother, Susan Rochester, from which I was forced to conclude that they had never married.   I also concluded there was a fair chance he had been married before.  Susan was just a girl off the boat from England, and there are no indications she was already married.

Because George and Susan never married, the occasion never arose where George stated his parents’ names. When he died his daughter could not name her Griffith grandparents, but made a stab at her grandfather’s occupation as bootmaker.

While George might have been born in Liverpool (and there are several christenings that might be him), there is no certainty that he stayed in Liverpool - but I don’t really have much to go on if he spent his youth elsewhere.  A musician would have to be fairly mobile to make a living.

 I have not identified with any certainty what ship he arrived on, though I have selected the George Griffith, 28, clerk, who arrived on the Panama from London in October 1852 as the most likely candidate.  (And yet, why not direct from Liverpool?)

I went fairly exhaustively through census records years ago when they were only on microfilm, going through all the printed indexes without coming to a conclusion, but I will now go through them again on Ancestry and compare them with later censuses and marriage records to figure out whom I can eliminate.

I have purchased marriage certificates to compare signatures with documents signed by George - eliminated them.

There is always the possibility that George gave his native place as Liverpool while in Australia in the same way I might give my native place as Melbourne if I was in England – but in fact I wouldn’t appear in any Melbourne records – I would appear in suburban records.

But here is the big news George.   I have had my DNA tested and I am coming to get you.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Budd St, Collingwood

There is nothing faster than thinking of a question that can be answered by a Victorian birth certificate, and having the answer shortly afterwards. (Overnight, in fact, because the Vic BDM was down for maintenance last night).  A tiny bit of bad luck ensured that the twins were registered on different pages, but I obtained little Charlotte's certificate, showing her to be the younger of twins.  The birth occurred on 22 November 1867 at around 2 pm at 20 Budd St, Collingwood.

Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works detail plan, 1237,
 City of Collingwood, 1900.  
Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria collection.

This little snip of an MMBW plan of Collingwood shows 20 Budd St a few doors from Sackville St.

Was Mrs Charlotte Broadley present at the birth?  No.  The attendant was Mrs Mahaney, a midwife.

Was George Griffith the informant for the births?  No.  The informant was Susan Griffith of 20 Budd St, Collingwood.   The twins were a month old when she registered their births.  Her other children still living were Mary Jane 10, Annie 7 and Louisa 5.

In the 1871 Sands & McDougall Directory, the Griffiths and the Broadleys were shown to be neighbours, with the Grifith family at number 10 and the Broadleys at number 8, not far from the Johnston St corner.

Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works detail plan, 1237,
 City of Collingwood, 1900. 
 Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria collection.

Who was Charlotte Broadley?

McGregor & Macuire, Grocers, 107 Wellington Street, East Collingwood, Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection, H694.  Charlotte may have done a bit of shopping here, as Budd St where she lived is only one block over from Wellington Street.

First the good news - this blog has been selected by the National Library of Australia to be perpetually preserved in Pandora Archive - you will see the new Pandora button to the right. The preservation of one's work is a great thing for bloggers, so I didn't want the occasion to pass unremarked.

After the Griffiths returned to the Melbourne suburbs, the family continued to grow, with the birth of George Henry Griffith in 1865, Alfred John Griffith and Charlotte Broadley Griffth, twins, in 1867.  Another two children arrived in 1873 and 1876 - Emily Frances Griffith and another George Henry Griffith, but I want to press the pause button at 1867.

Many, many years ago when I first learned the names of the Griffith children, I was convinced that Charlotte Broadley was the name of a relative of either Susan or George.   I had done enough of the Susan Rochester tree to rule out that side of the family, but George is still a complete unknown,  so I decided to have a red hot go at discovering whether there was a Charlotte Broadley,  or a Broadley family, in Liverpool that could be related to George Griffith.

I went through Censuses and birth, death and marriage records in Liverpool, all to no avail.  There actually *were* Charlotte Broadleys to be found, but I could not connect them in any way to the Griffith family.  Eventually I put that theory into the tested but unproven pile, and moved on.

At some stage I had gone through the Sands & McDougall Melbourne Directories tracing the various addresses of the Griffiths, and found them to have stayed mainly in the vicinity of Collingwood and Fitzroy.  I had a list of addresses gleaned from the alphabetical section, and was happy with that.  However, at a later time I thought I might pay a visit to some of these addresses and take a photo if the houses were still standing.  It was when I was looking through the suburban streets listing for the Budd Street, Collingwood East address to establish the position of the house in the street that my eye fell on a Mrs BROADLEY.   The unexpectedness of it was a bit of a shock.  Could this Mrs Broadley be Charlotte Broadley?

It took a fair bit of sifting through Victorian BDM *microfiche* (yes, it was that long ago), but I did eventually establish that a Charlotte Jones married Allen Broadley in Melbourne in 1856. Tonight, many years later,  I thought I would pop her name into an Ancestry search to see if someone had done her family tree, but what turned up was actually more interesting - Charlotte Broadley as a ratepayer in East Collingwood.

I sifted through the various years, and in 1868 found a ratepayers listing for Budd Street, East Collingwood, with Allan Broadley tinsmith and George Griffiths (sic), violinist listed sequentially. 

Broadley was shown as the owner of the property he occupied - a five roomed house of wood - and he was also shown as the owner of the 3 roomed wooden house occupied by the Griffith family.

I have discussed before the absence of George Griffith in New Zealand  in 1866 and 1867, and expressed some doubt whether George was the father of the twins.  He might have travelled back and forth to make it possible, but I don't know the answer.   But what the naming of the child Charlotte Broadley does suggest to me is that Mrs Broadley was very kind to Susan at this time, and the naming of the infant was a gesture of gratitude or admiration on Susan's part.

Arriving at this point, I realise that the birth certificate for Charlotte could resolve that question - was Charlotte Broadley senior present at the birth? And was George Griffith the informant, or was he missing in action?

Stay tuned.