52 Ancestors ….. Week 5.

the subject for this week is Oops.

I had finished a family history book and published it with Blurb. Luckily I only ordered one copy. A cousin, proof reader par excellence, noticed a discrepancy in the Preview on Blurb and also asked if I could include a little more information which had arrived too late to be included originally. So I fixed everything, wrote a better Acknowledgement, and as a final touch decided to move the title of a painting on the back cover to the inside, to go with the description of the painting on the front cover.

On the back of the book is a painting of the Tamar River in early Tasmania, painted by my grandfather. Off to Blurb went the corrected pdf, and in due course a new edition of the book arrived. Some weeks later my cousin contacted me again. Errrr had I noticed the spelling of the river’s name? And sure enough somehow it had morphed into the “Tamara” River. …

52 Ancestors …. Week 4.

The subject for this week is Education.

There are many schoolteachers in my extended family but one was a real trailblazer – my Great Aunt Fanny Elizabeth Hunt 1863-1941. In 1888 Fanny became the University of Sydney’s first woman Science graduate and only the second in Australia. (Fanny was a perfectly acceptable name in those days, despite what Bradley Walsh thinks!)

She taught at a number of girls’ schools in Sydney for some years then became the inaugural headmistress of Ipswich Girls Grammar School just outside Brisbane, Queensland in 1891. Later she founded another school, Girton College in Toowoomba Queensland, in 1903.

I was to follow in her footsteps many years later, proudly wearing Fanny’s academic hood at my own graduation.

52 Ancestors …. Week 3.

Theme for this week: Out of Place

Herbert William Hunt (1913 – 1937), always known as “Wibb”, was my Grandmother Lily Hunt’s uncle (genealogically speaking my 1st cousin once removed). He was born in country Wedderburn, NSW to Bank manager Edwin Herbert Hunt and his wife Lillian Josephine Harrison, the seventh of eight children all but one of whom survived to adulthood.

All Wibb’s brothers became Accountants and/or Managers but he was musically gifted and wanted to devote his life to music. He was said to have been able to attend a concert then return home and play the music he had heard from memory. But family circumstances forced him to work in his father’s Bank, which he hated.

According to family lore he died of a broken heart – he was so miserable not being able to devote all his time to music. Officially he died of septicaemia following a throat infection and/or pheumonia.

His sole sister Mary was also musically inclined, but as a female she was ” not important and not considered Bank material (!).

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 2.

The theme for this week is – Favourite Photo.

Because my paternal grandfather Alexander Johnston (1868 – 1952) hated having his photo taken, I only have a single photo of him, which he permitted his adored granddaughter to take with her little camera.

The photo shows:
My grandfather Alexander Johnston (1868 – 1952)
My brother Barry Arthur Johnston (1944 – 2017)
My father Warwick Lyle Johnston (1912 – 1998)

Taken about 1950 with my first camera, a little Baby Brownie. Made of black Bakelite, it took a roll of 12 black and white film, and the shutter was worked by a little lever at the centre bottom. The film was wound by hand.

Granddad was a journalist, artist and violinist. Born in Launceston Tasmania, his father was a librarian who “died in harness” but Alexander had the wanderlust from an early age. He spent some years in Fremantle and also on the Coolgardie goldfields in Western Australia in the 1890s, not as a miner but as a journalist working for the “Coolgardie Miner”. He made several trips to the Orient, as shown by some wonderful paintings, mostly in a series of sketchbooks which I treasure:

He also edited an English-language newspaper in Shanghai for a time, as evidenced by this scrap I found hidden among the pages of a book:

Granddad Alex was a private man who never spoke of his childhood family or earlier life to his son Warwick, who would have been astounded to learn all I have discovered. Ann Kerr who I wrote about in Week 1 was his Great Great Grandmother.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 1.

A “do something with your genealogy instead of letting it sit in your genealogy software” challenge. Started by Amy Johnson Crow (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/): “You’ve worked hard on your genealogy. You’ve made some fantastic discoveries. But what do you actually do with it? Those discoveries don’t do much good just sitting in your file cabinet or on your computer. That’s where 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks comes in. It’s a series of weekly prompts to get you to think about an ancestor and share something about them. The guesswork of “who should I write about” is taken care of”.” 

So I’m going to try and do it … I have so many stories, some already published on this website and some in the three (almost four) family history books I’ve already published. And there’s some more research I want to do.

The theme for Week 1 (January 1-7) is “I’d like to meet”.

I’d like to meet my Great Great Great Great Grandmother (ie, 4xG Grandmother) Ann Kerr.

First some background, mostly from my published book about the Cochranes (https://au.blurb.com/b/11115249-cochrane-and-lyle): Ann was born on 21 April 1733, most likely in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. She was the daughter of John Ker(r) (born about 1700) and his wife Margaret. She had three brothers John, Patrick and one other boy. John left an elaborate will, very helpful in identifying the correct family!

Ann married Thomas Cochran(e) on 16 April 1756 in Paisley. When Ann married she bought a huge bible in which she gradually recorded the names of all their children.

‘Thomas’ and ‘Ann’ being such common names, the bible entries have been absolutely crucial in identifying their children (and also in trying to correct numerous incorrect entries on websites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage and Genenet). The bible is a large ornate volume with gold-stamped leather spine and richly embossed cover, not something a poor family could afford. Most likely the Kerrs were an affluent family, perhaps her father was a merchant or manufacturer. If only Ann had recorded her parents’ names and dates as well! It is possible they originally came from Campbelltown, Argyllshire where Ann’s nephew (named in John Kerr’s will) resided. In the 18th century there was a great influx of people to Paisley following the Highland Clearances.

Thomas Cochrane is thought to have been a master weaver, quite a prestigious social position in those times.

Ann and Thomas had ten children, almost all of whom reached adulthood. After their marriage in 1756 Ann and Thomas Cochran(e) most likely resided in or near Paisley. The baptismal records of some of their children show that they were living in the village of Eaglesham to the south of Paisley and Glasgow at least between 1765 and 1771. Eaglesham was noted for handloom weaving, at least until the establishment of a water-powered cotton spinning mill in 1791. (It is also famous for being the landing place of Rudolph Hess during WW2 when he mistook Eaglesham House for Dungavel House near Srathaven.)

At some time before 1785 our Cochrane family moved to Paisley. Ann (Kerr) died there in 1789. She was 56 and had borne 10 children in 19 years. That was the same year the Seven Year War with France began, when George II was the reigning monarch.

In 1785 a coach ran from Paisley to Glasgow 6 times a day. Didd Ann ever take advantage of this to visit family, particularly her daughter Margaret born 1760 who married weaver Peter Stewart Donald in 1780 in Glasgow (I share some DNA with a descendant) or her daughter Ann born 1763 who married weaver John Houston in 1787?

Two of her sons emigrated to America some time before 1798 as they are not mentioned in the will of their uncle John Kerr. John born 1758 died in Savannah Georgia in 1799 aged 41 and Thomas born 1774 died “in easy circumstances” in Patterson, New York in 1850 – both facts added to the bible by Ann’s grandson Dr. Thomas Lyle.

Ann did not live to see two of her grandchildren marry each other on 31 May 1821 in Glasgow – Dr. Thomas Lyle (son of Mary born 1765) and Margaret Cochrane (daughter of James born 1771). Such cousin marriages were relatively common in those times. Three of Margaret and Dr. Lyle’s children emigrated to Tasmania, Australia in the 1850s. I am one of the descendants.