Going through the News Papers

I have been going through the British Newspapers from 1600 to 1900. The State Library has access to the British Newspaper collection so long as you have a readers card. This means that I can search those News Papers for free. They are a fantastic resource.

One thing that I picked up over the weekend was a notice from Robert Gransden saying that his wife Mary Ann Gransden was no longer living with him and that he would no longer be responsble for her debts. This was in the mid nineteenth century. At this time there was no real viable option for divorce. So this was a couples way of making it clear that they were no longer together and that they were only responsible for themselves. This went very well for families where this worked for both partners but if for some reason one partner was happy with this and the other partner was not it could be a big issue. Particularly if the male decided that he wanted his wifes property as for a long time women had no rights to their own property they were subject to their husbands will so if a woman left the man was within his rights to turn up later and take anything that she had earned or owned as his own.

This website gives a good overview to what divorce and or seperation meant for both men and women in the nineteenth century http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/agunn/teaching/enl3251/vf/pres/hurvitz.htm

When a couple wanted a divorce all of the advantages if any were for the men and all of the disadvantages were for the women and children. A divorce would also mean that children were declared illegitemate. Women needed to be able to prove adultury plus abuse at quite an extensive level. A man need only acuse a woman of adultury.

This meant that finding an actual decleration that a couple were seperated was quite a find.

I had known that Mary had not died until after the 1861 census but had not been able to find her in the 1861 census. I had gone looking a bit further but had never found her so had just assumed that she had not participated in the census for whatever reason that year. All the rest of her family had been present at that census and missing someone is not actually that unusual. However now knowing that Robert and Mary had seperated and after talking to another family members who had said that she had found Mary on the 1861 census I went looking. Finally I found her. Mary was living in a housing estate nearby and was working as the Principal at a local school. This means that Mary was independant and at least reasonably well educated. Finding this is quite a departure of my understanding of the education level and the background of this family so it is a very welcome and interesting addition to my family tree.


Things that Stopped me 3

The other day whilst driving home from a trip to get a loom we turned a corner and ran into a scene of some distress. There were about a dozen flustered ducks making a break for it across a road with two ducks lying in the middle of the road very obviously injured if not dead. As we drove past and pulled up it became very obvious that one of those ducks was not dead and that whoever had plowed into them had driven straight on and just left them there.

Myself and the other occupants of the car got out and found one duck dead and then went on the chase for the other duck with my jacket. After a little bit of stumbling around the rather rattled duck wound up under a tree where I was able to grab it with my jacket. The movements of the duck made it very obvious that it was in shock and that it was injured.

Once I had hold of the duck we sat in the car trying to hunt down a local vet. The duck was unusually patient and quiet while all this was going on which also suggested that the poor thing was rather overwhelmed by being hit by a car and was probably in shock. Eventually we managed to find a vet that could take her in and we drove her there and dropped her off. I was pretty glad to be getting to the vet by that time because as the heat of the car was affecting her she became more and more active and I was eventually having trouble holding her. All of which bodes well for the duck in that she was obviously not substantitally hurt or she would not have been moving about so much but made the outcome for my jacket rather smelly.

It shocks me that people will happily drive through a flock of ducks and not stop for them. It upsets me that people still do this with people and or property as well and that they think that this is OK. I have never understood why people have so little disregard for others and for life in general.

Things that Stopped me 2

Today for the fist time in ages I took some time to sit in my chair and really just look at the pictures above my desk. One of them was painted by my grandfather and it is of a river that we used to go to when I was a small child. The colours of the trees are very autumnal and they are reflected in the dirty murkiness of the river water. The exception is a very green tree and bush that are rather central in the painting. The scene itself is one of serenity but it is the colours that have always attracted me with their pinks and deep purples and the contrasting yellow green of the grasses near the farther bank of the river. There is also a gnarled and twisted tree trunk in the foreground. It looks like it was probably burnt out at one stage and would have been a great place to play in, although of course the chances are high that there would be a huge ants nest in it.

The painting was given to me for one of my birthday’s. I always felt guilty about asking my grandfather for one of his paintings but I loved the few that I got from him. Now they are virtually the only things that I have left of him. I rarely even notice his paintings any more but every now and again I stop and I just look at them and am back in his study looking over all of his paintings again choosing which one I would like for my birthday.

The other picture on my wall that drew my eye today was one of my 3 times Great Grandmother Catherine Selina Lees. The photo I have of her is black and white on a sepia toned background. It has been hand enhanced because it is from the very early days of photography. Catherine was obviously wearing her best outfit with a lace collar and lovely dropped ear rings. Catherine has a mildly masculine or square face with rather deep set eyes but that could be because of the shadows that were added in the enhancing process. The photo used to live with my other grandfather and was damaged when he had a house fire. It was one of the few things that was rescued from the fire and although it has been cleaned and restored it still shows some murkiness that is probably smoke damage.

My grandfather remembered his father talking about his grandmother Catherine, my grandfather never met her personally as she died well before his time. However his father described her as a woman of considerable strength who used to work at a pub and would lift kegs and bags of flour off a dray as willingly and as readily as any man in the area. Catherine also apparently had a strongish Irish accent which was a hang over from her own grandmother.

Things that stopped me

Just a bit of musing. Whilst going to Rowany Festival http://festival.lochac.sca.org/ the other day I came across an add to phone in for The Minutes Silence for ANZAC Day. I later found the detail in a news paper http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/rsl-to-sell-a-minutes-silence-on-anzac-day-to-raise-funds-for-veterans-and-their-families/story-fnihsrf2-1226893215122

My instant reaction was why phone and pay money for something that you can get anyway just by not phoning or not even participating. I still think that.

I always find ANZAC day very conflicting. It is of course a way to remember war and the people who have fallen fighting for their country. But it is also a way of glorifying war and I don’t agree with that. I also feel that men and women who have fought for their country during other conflicts are forgotten because the focus is so much on the first and second world wars. I have never understood why these two wars have such a high focus when wars both before and after seem to lack that focus.

I could go on for ages but the thing that struck me is that I just do not believe that my Grandfather, who was in the Second World War would have thought much of someone phoning in for a minutes silence. If I am going to give money to the RSL I think I would like to see them ask for it through different means and through the filter of helping all of those who have been to war, any war, all sides not just as a special event on ANZAC Day. I do of course realise that this can happen anyway but for me this was cheapening what is important about remembering conflict and that is the people.