Marriage Certificates

When you first hear about marriage certificates when learning about genealogy you just sort of think Oh yes I know about them. They give a bit of information but are they really useful for anything aside of figuring out the next step in my research? The answer is of course both a yes and a no. The answer also ranges depending upon when and where your marriage certificate comes from.

For example, some of the early marriage certificates I have give just a line saying the name of the two people, not much more than what is on an index in later years. More recently still I get a little bit more information like this one between John and Sarah Gransden.

John Gransden and Sarah Wood marriage registration.

John Gransden and Sarah Wood marriage registration.

Even this registration gives some details. The fact that both are from the Parish of Strood in Kent, the date, of course and two people who were important to the couple in some way. This can always lead to extra places to research.

So what about a more modern marriage certificate. In the UK these give useful information like the parents of the couple about to get married and their birth dates. In Australia we get even more details. We get things like a place of abode, parents and a bunch of different bits and pieces. All of which can be used to take your research just that little bit further. For example, you now have the parents of both parties, you can go and look them up. You also have a place of abode, that is a whole area of research all together that can be totally fascinating. In Australia try putting some of the address details into Trove and you never know what you will come up with.

Elizabeth Carter and Edward Weston marriage 1866

Elizabeth Carter and Edward Weston marriage 1866

Then there are the odd little bits and pieces that you only get every now and then. That marriage certificate that comes back with the word divorce scrawled across the top of it. When you have that one you know you have a marriage certificate that is going to reveal more to you about the people that you have been researching than you expected.

On the rare occasions that you get the word divorce on a marriage certificate, don’t let it go. Divorce records are held in all different locations. In Australia they are usually held by the Archives for that State. It is worth following up on this information and going and checking out your State Archives because it is rare that a divorce goes through, particularly the further back we go, without some information about the family going to the Courts. You may find names of children, you may find good things, you may find bad things. What you will find is more things.

Always remember with a divorce, prior to 1975 there was no ‘No Fault Divorce’ so often you will get only one side and you will get a negative experience. After all one or more people are trying to get out of a marriage and that was not easy. So you may only hear one side of a story. Don’t forget that is always a second side to that story and it is worth keeping an open mind.


Today I sat in the NSW State Archives and shivered my way through 9 different documents to get a sense of what my family have been up to.

Up until 1975 there was no ‘No Fault Divorce’ in Australia. That meant that for a divorce to occur one party had to prove to the other that divorce was necessary. There were a number of specific categories that could result in divorce, they included; desertion, separation for five years in certain circumstances, adultery and cruelty, habitual drunkenness, insanity and imprisonment.;fileType=application/pdf#search=%22A%20question%20of%20%20a%20short%20history%20of%20Australian%20No%20fault%20divorce%20law%20since%201959%22 

But it was not enough to just state one of the above categories without proof of fault, a divorce would not be granted. Fault divorce meant that only the ‘innocent’ party could apply for a divorce, and fault by the other party either had to be admitted or proved by the applying party before the court. If fault was admitted or proved, it would be open to the court to award a more favourable property settlement and/or alimony to compensate the spouse who was the victim of fault.

So when going to look at divorce files from the archives from prior to 1975 you know one of two things. Either what you are going to look at is probably not going to be nice, OR the couple colluded to come up with a way to get divorced. The most common one of these was for the couple to agree to live separate for a length of time and then have one member of the couple sue for ‘restoration of conjugal rights’. The other individual would then refuse the Court Order and the person who requested ‘restoration of conjugal rights’ would have a reason to get a divorce. All of this of course works unless one person wants the divorce and the other person doesn’t. When this happens it all just gets nasty and lots of ways of faking divorces happen.

Lilian, Lyndol, Linda, Percy, Unkown, Tony Bean

Lilian, Lyndol, Linda, Percy, Unkown, Tony Bean Happy family members at a happier time

However, in the case of Ray Bean and Linda Bean nee Pratt it seems that divorce was real enough. Family stories say that the issues between Ray and Linda were far from one sided and that in fact both could be violent. But, it was Linda who filed for divorce and so only her side is heard in the Courts. Linda used sustained abuse for the period of one year as her reason for requesting a divorce. Ray did not contest the divorce at all and I believe that he was as happy for a divorce to occur as Linda was. It is noticeable that in the entire time that Linda claimed that the abuse was happening the police were called once and she refused to press charges when Ray said that the abuse would stop. According to the documents, the abuse did not stop.

Divorce was an extremely difficult thing in Australia, and many other countries, prior to 1975. This left many people trapped in loveless marriages from which they were unable to easily escape. Ray and Linda were another two in this situation. When people are trapped they do horrible things to each other and in many cases to the rest of the family. It is noticeable in the divorce proceedings that Linda claims that Ray will not pay her any maintenance for the children, that she has gone back to work, as a nurse, and that she is unable to afford to look after the children without help on her salary. There was very little in the way of child care at this stage for working parents, even if they could afford it, so it is easy to imagine the impact that a low income and the main carer having to work would have had on the family.

Divorce is never nice, prior to 1975 in Australia it could devastate a family.

Ethel Butterfield

I have a photo of a person called Ethel Butterfield. She is supposed to be the sister of Annie Bean nee Ball who immigrated to Australia in the Abegeldie in 1881.

Ethel Butterfield

Ethel Butterfield

Every now and then I delve into the Bean family and then decide to go back to my more major interests, but at the moment I am doing a large amount of Bean family research, maybe it is an attempt to catch my Bean family up to my Gransden family.

I found Annie years ago, she married Leonard Bean and they came out to Australia with their eldest son when he was just two years old, Percy. There was probably another child at some stage as well, according to death and marriage certificates, but to date I have not been able to find out who that child is and when it was born.



Over the last few weeks I have gone back over some of my Bean family research. Found amazing information about Ray Bean, as detailed in earlier posts, and then started to follow information further back. I have done a little bit on Percy and his siblings. I have chased up Leonard a bit more and have gradually been fleshing out a bit of my research. So today I decided to tackle Annie Ball.

My information for Annie tells me that her father is Thomas Ball and her mother Ann Smith. She had at least one sister, Alice Ball who married Harry Butterfield, thus the Butterfield connection. All good and I now know where the photo belongs as Harry and Alice had a daughter name Ethel- thus Ethel Butterfield is a Bean cousin and that fits nicely with the family stories I had of Ethel Butterfield who used to write to the Bean children in Australia and was a cousin.

All good, but then I did a bit more digging. The Ethel Butterfield connections stands up, as does the Thomas Ball connection but where on earth did I get the Ann Smith and is it correct? I have an 1881 census for the Bean family who have Alice living with them just weeks before the Beans leave to come to Australia. Then I found the most amazing 1871 census.

Thomas Ball     Head                M           44        Leicester, Leicestershire           Bricklayer

Mary Ball          Wife                  F           43        London, Middlesex

Annie Ball         Daughter          F           18        Leicester, Leicestershire           Hoisery Worker

Mary Ball          Daughter          F           15        Nottingham, Nottinghamshire    Hoisery Worker

Elizabeth Ball    Daughter          F          14        Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

Zadock Ball      Son                  M           11        Nottingham, Nottinghamshire    Scholar

Alice Ball          Daughter          F            7          Nottingham, Nottinghamshire    Scholar

Emma Ball        Daughter          F           6          Nottingham, Nottinghamshire    Scholar

Eliza Ball          Daughter          F            5          Nottingham, Nottinghamshire    Scholar

Louisa Ball        Daughter          F           3          Nottingham, Nottinghamshire    Scholar

Lillie Ball           Daughter          F           0          Nottingham, Nottinghamshire    Scholar

“England and Wales Census, 1871”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 February 2016), Mary Ball in entry for Thomas Ball, 1871.

This gives me so many more family members for Annie. Seven previously unknown siblings. The dates and places are totally correct and fit in with my prior knowledge of the family, the professions fit in with my prior knowledge of the family the siblings between Annie and Alice make sense and I have been expecting to find more children for this family for a long time. But, there mother/ wife is a Mary. So where did Anne come from? Was she a first wife, in which case Thomas moved very quickly between Annie and Mary Ball, but it would certainly make sense of the names with Annie named after her mother and Mary named after her mother. Or, did Ann Ball nee Smith not exist at all?

My original research for this family is so old that I don’t know and can’t be sure if I made sound decisions in the first place. I have found a possible birth registration for Annie, but I can’t be certain. So I have sent off for the marriage certificate of Annie Ball and Leonard Bean. I know I am on solid ground with this one. So it is time to do the right thing and take it one step at a time, making sure I have the correct documents the whole way.

So Annie, who is your mother really. She is not on your death certificate and I have no real information for her. So your life is about to come under the microscope, as much as I can do that from this distance in time and space.

Leonard Bean and Annie Bean nee Ball, grave

Leonard Bean and Annie Bean nee Ball, grave

Diploma in Family History

The University of Tasmania is offering a number of free courses in Family History. The first is an introductory course, then there is a course on convicts and writing up your family tree. Even though I have been doing my family tree for years I have no formal qualification in this area. So I have decided to go back to Uni and do the free courses which are all part of the Diploma in Family History. I hope to finish the complete Diploma by the end of 2017.

So far the introductory unit has mostly been about familiarising ourselves with the layout of the unit as it is all online. We will then be working on researching and referencing. This is an area that still confuses me after two degrees and years of family history research. When doing family history research there is so much to do, so many different places that stuff is kept, so many different people who own information and who often open up their houses, their photo albums, their family diaries and so much more plus so many people who give me their time. All of these people should be part of the referencing chain so that if I ever need to track down anything I can go back to it. But so often, particularly in the early days when I was just learning, or when others new to family history are learning, the referencing is just not comprehensive enough. I have been doing much better over the last 10 years or so but it is time to actually do it in a really comprehensive way.

So, even though I think this course will cover a lot of what I already know, I want it to formalise what I know and to fill in the gaps with what I don’t know and should.

For the introductory unit there is a research assessment task. I need to present a research outline to research one particular ancestor. I don’t know if I should continue on with one that I am already doing like Ray Bean, Edwin, Robert of Mary Ann Gransden or if I should go for a new person. There are so many options. It would be nice to see if I can locate one of my missing ancestors, so maybe that would be the best option- while I have the help and support of the course, do the really difficult ones.

In the mean time, I have met another blogger who is also doing their family tree and a family history blog. Genealogy Boomerangs  I am sure I will meet a heap more people.

Really looking forward to moving forward and gaining more insights with this part of my life. I am sure this course will help to make take my family tree research to the next level and will hopefully figure out my best options as far as some of the research I have already done.

Dunc’s Diary- Part 1

Today I read through part of the diary of Winifred Eva Duncombe (Dunc). Dunc was one of a party of walkers that went down the Colo River in early 1934. The trip was lead, as much as it was lead, by Niann Melville. The rest of the party comprised Rene Brown, Iris Rockstro, Wal Melville, Ben Fuller and my grandfather, Ray Bean.

History of the Colo River

The original inhabitants of the Colo River and surrounds were members of the Darug people. The Darug people are a nation of people that are divided into smaller clans who tend to live in a particular geographic area, the members have a common language. Each clan consisted of 50-100 people and inter-marriages within clans was common. Thus the clans were interrelated in a physical sense as well as through a united language. Approximately 70% of the Darug nation were wiped out post first fleet due to Small Pox and other diseases. Today the language is being revived and is now spoken by some members of the Darug languages.

The vast majority of the Colo River flows through the Blue Mountains National Park and the Wollemi National Park. The River itself seems to alternate between hurriedly flowing rapids and deep pools.

Governor Phillip undertook the first white person expedition up the Hawkesbury and into the Colo River in June of 1789. He was accompanied by Captain Hunter, Captain Collins, Captain George Johnston and Surgeon White. The party rowed 12kms up the Colo from the Hawkesbury and named the Colo River ‘Second Branch’. Settlement started in the 1800’s with the first grants of land in the area occurring in 1804. Additional grants were made in 1833.

The first full survey of the Colo River was done in the early 1830’s by Frederick Rover D’Arcy.  With another Survey conducted in 1883 for a possible railway to go West from the Richmond via the Colo Valley. This survey was conducted by George William Townsend. This initial survey was then complemented with a more complete survey, once again conducted by George Townsend between 1883 and 1887. George Townsend recommended the Colo River route as a good option for a railway, however The Engineer in-Chief Mr Whitton, disagreed with Townsend’s analysis and thought that the cost of the proposed railway would be too high. At the time T. H. F Griffin commented on the Colo …is amongst the most rugged and impassable to be found in the colony…” (

Angorawa Creek to Wollemi Creek

Angorawa Creek to Wollemi Creek

A later survey was conducted by Lt Col. Hugh Powell Gough Clews, according to the History of the Colo River website ( this survey was conducted in the 1930’s. At this time Lt. Col Hugh Powell made multiple attempts to survey the area of the Colo River and ended up nick naming the area- ‘The bad bit across the River’.

In 1931 an earlier walking trip down the Colo River was undertaken by Max Gentle and Gordon Smith in―an atmosphere of terrible wilderness to quote Max (The Sydney Bushwalkers- The First 60 years).

Which brings us to the walking party that included Ray Bean in 1934. The party started on the 6th of January with everyone in good spirits despite some terrible weather with lots of rain and lightning. The members of the walking party arrived in Lithgow where they me Mr Young and his Chevrolet lorry who was going to take them to Newness to start their walk. The road was extremely rutted and the trip uncomfortable with the members of the party sitting on the floor of the Lory. Ray and Wal seated in the back on what they had a first thought of as empty bags but which they very soon found contained tools, making them a very lumpy place to sit.

As the trip continued the boys and Mr Young had to get out of the truck on occasion to shift trees of the track and the truck had to dodge a land slide on one occasion. All the while Ray and Wal were leaning out the back of the truck with a torch carrying on “a lot of tomfoolery about being in a boat”. Every now and then the truck would go into a pothole and everyone would slide over to one side of the truck with their packs on top of them.

Finally the party reached the Wolgan, it was decided to drive the truck across the Wolgan and continue their trip. However the truck became stuck half way across the River. My Young and the boys tried all sorts of tricks to get the engine started but to no avail. Instead Dunc and Ray headed over to one side of the River to start up a fire. Everyone had dinner, put their tents up and went to bed. The rain continued to come down and a number of members of the party became very wet during the night. The next morning the walking party left Mr Young still in the middle of the River with his truck, and headed off to walk to Newness to start their walk.

Mr Youngs Lory, Colo River Walk 1934. Photo taken by R. Bean.

Mr Youngs Lory, Colo River Walk 1934.
Photo taken by R. Bean.

In Newness the party were regaled with stories of how bad the going was and how they would not be able to make the trip so they would be better off giving up now. They were also warned of dangers other than snakes and it was suggested that they take a gun. This they refused to do and the party continued on their way despite the dire warnings.

Part 2 coming.


In 1948 Ray Bean went on a 10 week trip around Western and Northern Australia. He was one of a party of people who went on the trip, the others being the novelists John Ewers and Arthur Upfield, Tasmanian naturalist Michael Sharland, a mechanic and cook. Ray was the photographer of the group, although Michael Sharland was also an accomplished photographer. Today I was at the State Library of NSW and was able to take photographs of some of the many hundreds of photographs that Ray Bean took, including many of the ones that he took on the 1948 trip.

The trek was undertaken in two trucks from Kalgoorlie through to Wilunda then onto Port Hedland. From there they followed the coats to Broom and Derby before trekking inland through Fitzroy and then onto Wyndham. The return journey then followed through to Port Headland again and then along the coast to Perth.

Western Australia Trip 1948. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

Western Australia Trip 1948. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

The trek was fast paced and exhausting however it provided material for the novelist, in particular Upfield to use for Walkabout magazine and also for the setting for the Boney novel The Widows of Broome and another part of he trek to the Wolf Creek meteorite crater was used as the setting for another novel, The Will of the Tribe. Ewers also made use of the trek in some of his travel work. Ray used the extensive photographs that he had taken for Walkabout magazine and in fact they comprise large amounts of the photographs in Walkabout magazine for the majority of 1948.

Western Australia Trip 1948. Wolf Creek Crater. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

Western Australia Trip 1948. Wolf Creek Crater. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

Upfield wrote about a half caste Aboriginal detective called Boney who was a detective in out-back Australia, it was this character he was researching for when he went on the trek in 1948. In the 1920’s Upfield had unwittingly provided a real life murderer with the perfect way to get rid of a body, through his research for the book The Sands of Windee. In the book he wrote about a murder with no body. He had initially had a lot of difficulty figuring out how the murder had rid himself of the body of his victim so he mentioned this to a colleague, George Ritchie. Ritchie came up with a disposal method; burn the victim’s body with a large animal, sift our all metal fragments and dissolve them in acid and then pound any remaining bone fragments into dust and discard them. However, Upfields problem then was that he couldn’t find the plot hole to enable his detective to unravel the murder. As a result he offered Ritchie £1.00 if he could figure out a plot hole. Ritchie was unable to do so. Gradually the difficulty of finding a plot hole in this type of body disposal got around as Upfield discussed his difficulties with friends and colleagues.


Shortly Snowy Rowles found out about Upfields difficulties. Upfield and Snowy knew each other and Upfield was talking to a number of people about his difficulties with the novel he was currently writing. Before the Sands of Windee came out but after the research was being undertaken Snowy Rowles used the method for body disposal that Upfield and Ritchie had come up with. In 1929 two men, James Ryan and George Lloyd disappear. Snowey Rowles had been the last person to see them. Less than six months later, another man Luis Carron also disappears, again Rowles had been in the vicinity.

Snowy Rowles and James Ryan's car. Rowles was convicted of the murder of James Ryan. He disposed of Ryan's body using methods similar to those of a murderer in Upfield's 1931 novel The Sands of Windee. PhotographerArthur William Upfield. Out of Copyright- held by the National Library of Australia

Snowy Rowles and James Ryan’s car.
Rowles was convicted of the murder of James Ryan. He disposed of Ryan’s body using methods similar to those of a murderer in Upfield’s 1931 novel The Sands of Windee.
Photographer Arthur William Upfield.
Out of Copyright- held by the National Library of Australia

The police had also been very aware of the discussions around Upfields difficulties with the plot for his book, plus they were aware of Rowles activities with the missing men. Detective-Sergeant Manning also recognized Rowles as a John Thomas that was wanted for another crime in Manning where he had escaped gaol for burglary.


As it happened Rowles had followed the body disposal method for Ryan and Lloyd exactly but he had missed a step in the process for Carron, thus leaving metal evidence behind when he disposed of the body. Carron’s wedding ring was distinctive and thus it was able to be used to identify the fact that he was missing and his body had been in the area. It was also possibly to link Rowles to the area and to prove that he know of the Upfield and Ritchie body disposal method. Rowles would found guilty and hanged for the murder of Carron. Not enough evidence was found to confirm that he murdered Ryan and Lloyd so he was not tried for their murders, however, there was little doubt that he had done them.

Jeffrey Carter

Originally posted 28 Aug 2009, the day after Jeffrey Carters funeral.

Jade 1-6 months (398)

Jeffrey Carter 2006

My relationship with my grandfather really developed over the last six years. Our family had gradually lost contact, and while researching my family tree I came across some details suggesting that my grandfather was still alive. Through other family contacts I tracked him down and he was reunited with the majority of us. In the process I found out a lot about my grandfather and what his life had been like up until the day that we saw him again.

Grandpa was born in Manildra in 1924. His family had lived in Manildra for a long time and all his childhood memories are centred around growing up there. One of his most precious memories was of his father bringing home his first truck. Grandpa’s father was so proud of his new green 1928 Chevy truck and always kept it clean and shiny. Grandpa/ Jeffrey was about four at the time and thought he would help his father keep the new truck clean, so on the day it arrived as the rest of the family were celebrating, grandpa went out to clean it. It had been raining the day before so he used the water from the puddles near-by to wash the truck. He cleaned as high as he could reach, all the way around including the chrome and the emu on the front of the truck. Then he went inside as the truck dried. It was a few hours later as the family was saying goodbye to those that came to visit that they went outside to see the truck covered in muddy smears as high as a five year old boy could reach.

Being from a relatively poor family grandpa did not go onto high school. He moved to Sydney where his mother had moved before him and got work. At first he worked in a biscuit factory in Ashfield but during the war lots of workers that were considered to be doing non-essential work were moved onto other jobs. Grandpa was one of these and he was moved onto a condenser factory. As he was quite a pernickety man this didn’t really appeal to grandpa, in his own words “it was to oily”. However even here he saw the opportunity for a bit of a lark.

One of the workers who went by the name of Mick was known for going into the toilets for a nap each day. So one day they ran a copper wire to the toilet seat and attached it to a couple of condensers. Its not known how many volts hit Mick that day but apparently it was the last time he sat down at a toilet before checking around the bowl.

Not long after this grandpa went to war. Aside from a large amount of training he saw fighting in New Britain. It was here that he was injured by a daisy cutter, so called because they flew low and when they exploded they would trim the grass around them with the shrapnel with which they were loaded. The advice from older and wiser soldiers was not to drop when these came near as it was better for them to damage your legs than your face and head. Grandpa adhered to this advice and had reason to be glad. His leg was damaged badly but he lived to tell the tale.

Jeffrey Carter about 18 copy

Jeffrey Carter WW2

On leaving the war it was not long before grandpa married a girl that had written to him for some of the war. He always claimed that the three best things he ever did was as a result of that marriage, his daughters Sharon, Lyn and Narelle.

Unfortunately Jeffrey and Shirley’s marriage didn’t work out and so they separated. Grandpa later married the woman who was probably the love of his life, Mary. Together they travelled and spent many years together. During this time grandpa’s career took him into the corrective services, first as a prison officer and later as a senior facilities manager. Grandpa loved this work as it gave him many opportunities to go to courses to educate himself and to better his own situation. Grandpa thought that education was incredibly important and even if he could not have the formal education that he wanted he didn’t see this as a reason to stop learning. This was a characteristic that he showed throughout his life and his daughter Sharon attributes her love of classical music and history to evenings spent with him, as a young girl when her mother and sisters had gone to bed.


Jeffrey Carter and great grand-daughter

In later years as we got to know him, my grandfather would talk about his memories of his children and what they had been like when they were little. Of my mother he remembered a train trip when they played a game called mouse trap. The idea was to hit the others hand. My mother was very exuberant about the way she played this game and ended up giving my grandfather a blood nose. Auntie **** he remembered as gregarious and chatty never sitting still and always ready to go off and see the neighbours. I think that much of this is still characteristic of Auntie Lyn and like my grandfather I rely on her to keep me up to date with all the goings on in her side of the family. Auntie **** was much younger when my grandfather left, but he still had memories of her that he liked to share. One of his most fond memories was of taking her into a shop and looking around as he heard laughter to see her parading around in one of the wigs. (Names removed of people still alive).

My grandfathers memories of his life are very special to me and I am really glad that we were able share them and others. He was able to see his family grow to include not just his three daughters and seven grandchildren but also five great grandchildren. He loved to go out with me and my family and tell everyone that I was his grand daughter and to introduce them to his great grand children. I am sorry that he didn’t live long enough to hear that his family is growing even more and that another great grandchild is due. He would have been very excited by this news.

Linda Bean nee Pratt

Written on the 17th of November 2010 the day of Linda Bean nee Pratt’s funeral. She died on the 28th of October.
Linda Dorothy (nee Pratt) Bean     28-12-1918

Linda Dorothy (nee Pratt) Bean

I am 92 years old and this is my eulogy;

Linda was born on 28 December 1918 at Ariah Park in NSW. She was the third daughter of Emily and William Pratt.

Linda was educated at San Souci Primary School and later at Crown Street Girl’s School.
After leaving school, Linda worked in a variety of jobs including a position as a stock clerk with David Jones.

On 4th April 1942, Linda married Raymond Percy Bean. After the birth of her three children, Linda trained as a nursing sister at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital and also at the Rachel Forster Hospital at Redfern. In 1967, Linda took on post graduate training at the St George District Hospital at Kogarah, where she obtained her Geriatric Nursing Certificate, after which she spent six years in District Nursing.

Lilian, Lyndol, Linda, Percy, Unkown, Tony Bean

Lilian, Lyndol, Linda, Percy, Unkown, Tony Bean

When Linda divorced, she became involved in a series of staff nursing appointments, with the British Motor Company, David Jones production Unit and with Pye Industries where she looked after the health of some 1,000 workers.

In her more senior years, Linda displayed characteristics of paranoia which had the affect of alienating family members, friends and associates. This caused her to become increasingly isolated and withdrawn. She spent her last years in the Presbyterian Aged Care facilities at Paddington and Ashfield.

Linda’s family was not aware until recent years that she was suffering from mental illness including schizophrenia. They felt regret that if they had known earlier about her condition, they may have been prompted to find better health care for her. Lind’s experience shows that there needs to be a better understanding of mental illness in the wider community and how it can affect families and carers. Also there needs to be improved communication between health professionals and close family members when a loved one is suffering from mental illness.

Prior to her battle with mental illness, Linda was very caring towards her family and to those whom she nursed in the wider community. She was artistic and had a great love of art, music and politics. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Why is my eulogy so dry and lacking in warmth and family memories? It is because no one, even me, remembers my life. I have seen very few of my children and their children over the last 30 years. Every now and then one of them comes in to visit me, but they never do so because they want to they do so because they think the should.

I have done some amazing things. The things that are in my eulogy I did do. I worked with all of those people and I used to help so many people but eventually I was the one who needed the help and I never even knew it.

It started with the voices. Whispers at first and gradually growing louder until they were a clamour that I could not ignore. I tried to follow their warnings to make people aware of what the voices told me so that they knew, but nobody listened.

I told my kids which of their children would die young. None of them wanted to hear it and eventually they all just went away and left me. They didn’t want to know. So I never even knew if the voices were right.

Each year I would send packages to my kids. I didn’t bother sending things to the children that were going to die. What was the point of that? But I sent lollies and I knitted things for the other children. I wanted them to have something from me for Christmas. I sent letters too, I tried to tell my children what the voices were saying but I never got an answer and the voices kept on getting louder.

Finally I stopped. I had not heard from my family for years. They never came to see me and they never wrote back. Plus I had other things to do. I was working for the Queen. I never met her all my work was done through the voices. They would tell me what I had to do. It was amazing how they knew where I would be and what I needed to do but they were always able to tell me.

For years I worked for the Queen. I gave her the best years of my life. I worked for her and did everything the voices told me. I never got thanked, why did I never get a thank you? Nothing in mail and I had long ago given up even having a phone.

My life was going on happily. I had all the equipment that I needed for my covert operations all around my house. Things were hidden everywhere. I didn’t notice the smell. I don’t know why people complained. Why did they say my house smelled?

One day the giant teeth broke into my apartment. They took me away to a hospital. There they told me that I had schizophrenia. What is schizophrenia? I have been a nurse for years but I know nothing about this disease. I was a nurse right up until I started working for the Queen but have never heard of this disease.

They tell me it is a disease of the mind. So they drug me and stick me in a small room where they tell me that the voices are all in my head and that everything they say is a lie. I lay here on a bed in a room by myself hardly able to see, unable to get up without help and my memories, and now they tell me those are a lie. So what do I have left? Why did they give me these drugs why do they want me to live my last years in a prison of four walls having been told that years of my life are a lie?

Some of my family come and see me but not many. They don’t want to see me because they are worried that the voices will start telling me which of their children will die again and they don’t want to listen. So every now and then one or other person comes to see me. They used to come every couple of months, then once a year and now it is just now and then.

I have great grandchildren now. I don’t know how many but I have seen at least two. I have been in this room or one like it for year after year. Every now and then they change the room or I have a fall when being helped to a chair that I cannot see and so I go into hospital. I know that my life is a lie that I can only remember some of what my life really was. But I don’t know which part is the lie. How do I tell, how do I know?

So I sit in my room waiting to die. Unsure of what in my life is real and unsure of what is not. The only thing I know for sure is that when I die instead of grieving my family will feel only relief and guilt. They will feel relief that I am dead and that they no longer need to come and see me when they don’t want to. Guilt because they didn’t come and see me much and when they did they scurried away, from the mad woman who didn’t know what was real and what was not, as fast as they could. They will also feel guilt because they think they should have done something earlier or something more once they new. But really what could they have done, they didn’t know what schizophrenia was any more than I did.

So once again we come to my eulogy. It is dry it holds the bare bones that one family member has managed to dig up by asking others. They tried to ask me but all I could remember were the voices. So now that is all I am remembered for. I know I did other things but no one knows enough about them to write more. Even before I die I am dead, the real me does not live in anyone’s memory. There was a real me she was alive and vital but when the voices came she died. That dead me is the only me that anyone now remembers.

Land Titles and Sydney Records

This post was originally made in 2008 on a different blog site. I am not moving the essence, although not quite all the information, from that blog to this one.

I went to the Sydney Records office and looked up convicts, quarter session reports, probate records, colonial minutes and old newspapers. This gave me an insight to all sorts of particulars for the past of some of my ancestors and I now even have descriptions of some of my ancestors.
The convict, William Russell, who was described in barely legible writing as

“5’4″ sallow, fair, with hazel eyes a large raised mole on his left cheek, a woman on his left arm and a man and a woman on his right arm”

had me confused for a while as it was very hard to read the description and so it took me a while to get an idea that he had a couple of tattoo’s. At first I thought maybe he had been convicted with another woman- this was going to mean a lot more research, but happily no, he was probably just a particularly uninspiring person. It always amazes me just how particularly ugly some of my ancestors are- no wonder for years members of our family were though to be Maori- we have a photo of one woman who had the perfect Maori physique, but she wasn’t she was English.

So today, as I had to put the car in for service I thought I would catch the train to the city and go through the Lands Title Office looking for documents regarding land that some of my ancestors had purchase or been granted. This is an incredibly expensive exercise as I found out as a photocopy of any one document is $12.50 regardless of it being one page or twenty pages- all of mine averaged two pages each and one of those was half empty. Anyway suffice to say a number of documents later I came away with a smaller bank balance but extremely happy with a couple of hours to spare.

Right next door to the Lands Title Office is the Hyde Park Convict Barracks- having lived in Sydney most of my adult life but not grown up here I have never visited them so while I was in the area I just popped in to have a look- it was a really lovely experience- maybe not so much for the original inmates. However I got to see all the different phases of the building, including when it was used as the female immigration centre.
It is funny really for a person who has family who have been in Australia for as long as I have my family have missed all the land mark events and places. My kids have second fleet but not first, I have convicts, but they were quite boring and as it now appears ugly and once they got here they did nothing further wrong so they just sort of slip out of the records, my female ancestors came very early on in the female migration scheme so they missed being held at the barracks but they were not on the first ship to come out either so they don’t get studied very much. Then the ones that come here move around so much that they seem to be disconnected from the history of a place, occasionally they show up as a signature on a petition, or a photo, but they didn’t stay long enough to see anything go through- or they died. I guess like most families even now they just observed and let things pass them by only participating when events pretty much came up and knocked on their front door- they seemed to have had enjoyable lives though. I guess as Ray Bean says, no one pays any attention to history when they are too busy living it.

Shirley Guest nee Gransden Eulogy

Shirley clothes line

Many years ago I had another blog and I put a few Family History posts, mostly when family members died. I am now moving those posts across to hear so that they can become part of this blog.

My first memories of my grandmother are of the chicken coop she had out the back of the house in Byron Bay. My sister had a particular talent for getting into the coup and letting out all the chickens. So one Christmas Grandma gave her a necklace with a tiny bell on it. She said it would mean that she could hear Mandy going to the chicken coop so she would be able to stop her from letting out the chickens. I think this is the essence of how I remember my grandmother, always resourceful with a bit of a playful side and as my brother says, she could occasionally be a partner in crime.

Grandma was borne in Billimare, near Cowra. Her father was a share farmer and carter so large parts of her early life were spent moving around rural NSW as her father worked in different areas. Grandma’s early schooling took place at Eugowra, then later as the family settled down and became more stable she went to High School at Orange. Grandma used to describe the drive to school in a trap, travelling on dirty roads and getting very dusty. The trip would vary in length depending on where her parents were living at the time.

After she left school Grandma worked at a bakery in Orange. She always described herself as a bit of a rebel and it was at this time that she decided that she would like to move to Sydney. Unfortunately the war intervened and she ended up staying in Orange longer, however she was unable to continue working in the bakery and so she got another job working as a nurse in the local hospital. She saw this as her contribution to the war effort.

Shirley as bridesmaid

During the war Grandma met her first husband, Jeffrey Carter. They wrote to each other for a while when he was away and after the war they were married only months after he got back. This suited Grandma well as she had wanted to get out of Orange and Jeffrey was a local boy who had moved to Sydney.


While with Jeffrey, Grandma had three daughters, Sharon, Lyn and Narelle. Unfortunately Grandma and Jeff’s marriage did not work out and Grandma was left with three young daughters to look after on her own, in Granville, with no family support. It was during this time that she met Bill.

Jeff, Shirley, Sharon, Lynette__1455876235_203.158.62.55

Bill and Grandma lived together for many years and were able to share the care of Grandma’s three young girls, the two new babies Rodney and Graeme and Bill’s other children on the occasions that they lived with the rest of the family. Because of the flexibility of Bill’s shift work Grandma was able to take on some cleaning work. This worked well for them as it meant that they could usually share the care of the children. As the children got older and needed less care Grandma got work at Walton’s, a big department type warehouse. Grandma would do the sorting and ship clothes out to the stores.

On going on a holiday to Byron Bay Grandma fell in love with the area, and she and Bill decided to move. They packed up and moved up to Byron Bay where they bought a trucking business that was run from home. By this stage the older children had left home and the last remaining girl, Narelle, was to move out shortly after the family arrived in Byron Bay.

The trucking business was a success for the family and they ran it until Bill started having health problems and became semi retired. At this stage they decided to move to Coraki. The house they bought in Coraki was an old Queenslander type and was the embodiment of a dream for Grandma. She loved the house, especially the veranda and the feeling of familiarity that it gave her as it reminded her of her own grandmothers house that she had visited so frequently as a child.

During these later years Grandma watched her family grow as each of them first got married and then had children. She was very excited as even her grandchildren had children and she got to see her first great grand children. This extended family meant a lot to her and she loved to see all of us.


Grandma was extremely proud of all her children. She was proud of her daughters for their independence and although she felt that they were a great distance away from her she was very proud that they had felt able to build successful lives where they were. She also felt proud of her boys, as both had families and made their own lives both near and far from her.

Over the last couple of years Grandma had some times when she was very sick. To help her manage she had moved to a nursing home and this is where she had spent the last year or so of her life. Although I, and others from a distance tried to keep up with her during this time it was difficult. We called and she was out or people were over or she was off doing something. She seemed to be living life to the fullest and loving it. I am sad that I will not get a chance to talk to her again, but I feel it is a wonderful thing that right up to the last she was enjoying her life.

Grandma’s family was extensive and extremely important to her. She kept up with her family right up until the day of her death as was shown by the letter that her older sister Joan received on the Monday after she had died, wishing her happy birthday. She will be missed.

Optimized-Grandma without Bill