The Rise of the Davidson Family- Part 1

Ancient Laws

In 1606 the Anent Coalyers and Salters Act was passed in the Scottish Parliament. This Act ensured that “colayers, coal-bearers and salters”[1] were in permanent bondage to their employer. This created a situation whereby people in these professions were effectively slaves. If they were absent from their employer or sought to work with another employer they could be punished as a thief. They had different conditions to other workers and became an underclass within Scotland.

In 1775 another Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament. This Act was written to redress the wrongs of the previous Act[2]. As a result, miners and their families were gradually released from servitude over a number of years.

This story is about the impact these laws had on the Davidson family over four generations.

Robert Davidson, the son of John Davidson and Mary Dalrymple was born on the 4th of September 1856[3]. He had quite a remarkable life that was full of many interesting events, but in this case, it is the life of his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents that are of interest, but finding that information starts with the search for Robert Davidson. The information about where Robert had been born was in a newspaper article about notable citizens of Port Macquarie, many years after his death giving a place to start the research into the Davidson family.

Using the details from the article about Robert Davidson it was possible to get a copy of Robert’s birth certificate. He had been born, on the fourth of September 1856 in Mauchline, Scotland. Exactly as the news article had said. His parents were John Davidson box manufacturer and Mary Davidson, maiden name Dalrymple[4].

Robert Davidson Birth Certificate. Scotlands People Statutory Register of Births 604/ 46

This birth certificate confirmed a number of details. Robert’s eldest daughter was Mary Calderwood Dalrymple Davidson and it was understood in the family that the Dalrymple name had come from Robert’s mother’s maiden name. So given the date, the name and the fact that the place all matched up with the information from the news article it was probable that this was the correct birth certificate for Robert Davidson.

Further research lead to the marriage of Robert Davidson and Mary Davidson nee Dalrymple in 1883. They had been married at 196 Bath Street in Glasgow on the thirty-first of August. Under the details of Robert’s parents were John Davidson, Fancy box manufacturer, deceased and Mary Davidson nee Dalrymple, also deceased. Mary’s parents were James Muir a commercial traveller and Mary Muir nee Calderwood[5]. This finally confirmed the Mary Calderwood Dalrymple full name. Interestingly this was the first indication that Robert had ended up in the Church, as his profession was noted as Rev Church Probationer.

Marriage of Robert Davidson and Jane Logan Muir. 1883. Scotlands People- Statutory registers Marriages 644/9 365

On researching the life of Robert Davidson it was time to go looking in the census records from before Robert arrived in Australia. In 1871 and 1881 Robert was living in Glasgow and studying Theology at the Free Church of Scotland. The College was established in 1856 in Thistle Street Glasgow[6]. Later the College was to become known as Trinity College, part of, but detached from, the University of Glasgow. The College and University later became re-integrated.

  • John Davidson    45 Snuff Box Manufacturer
  • Mary Davidson   42 Wife
  • William Davidson  20 Clerk in Box Manufactory
  • George Davidson 17  Box maker
  • Jane Davidson 15
  • David Davidson  12 Scholar
  • Alexander B Davidson  11 Scholar
  • Agnes Davidson  8 Scholar
  • John Davidson   6 Scholar
  • Robert Davidson  4 Scholar 1861 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.

All of this had some interesting elements to it. There was an early theme around fancy box manufacturers and around the town Mauchline. So further research was needed backwards looking at additional census details. From there it was possible to see that in 1861 Robert as a young baby was living with his parents and siblings. His father was at this stage a Snuff Box Manufacturer. His older brothers George and William were both working in the same industry. William as a Clerk in a “Box Manufacturey” and George as a box maker[7].

At this stage, a basic google search for Mauchline and Fancy Boxes lead to a local industry in box work and tartans. Resulting in finding out all about Mauchline ware and the origins of the souvenir industry. By then there was enough information to start to get a hold on this family and some of the events that had changed their lives.

Rise of the Davidson Family- Part 2

[1] (Records of Trinity College, college of theology, Glasgow, Scotland, n.d.)

[2] (1861 Scotland Census, 1861)

[3] (Marriage- Davidson, Robert and Muir, Jeanie- Logan, 1883)

[4] (Laws relating to Coalworkers in Scotland, 1609- Act)

[5] (Laws Relating to Coalworkers in Scotland, 1775 Act)

[6] (Robert Davidson, 1979)

[7] (Birth Certificate- Robert Davidson, 1856)

Golden Anniversary

Emma looked around the room. Here she was fifty years after she had married Frederick in 1879 and he was still here with her, standing by her side.

It had been a cold, sunny, winter’s day when she had walked down the aisle looking towards Frederick and her new life. Emma had walked arm in arm with her father, Edward Atkins. Her father had already given away more than one daughter and had seemed quite an old man to Emma. She had looked at him, fleetingly, as he clasped her arm. But in reality, her focus was almost entirely on the young man waiting for her down the other end of the church nave.

Two Brides Maids had preceded her down the aisle, their long dresses swaying gently as they walked, their skirts looped back into bustles, much like her own. The church was dark inside with the pews on either side a shadow of darker wood that helped to make all of Emma’s family and friends blur into the dimness of the interior. It didn’t matter much anyway, she had had eyes for no one except Frederick, in his stylish frock coat and waistcoat, as she walked closer towards him.

In a daze, she had responded to the ceremony, and then they had been out of the church and off to the reception in the beautiful coaches that had been built by Frederick, with their detailed gold filigree work on the doors. Looking back now the gathering had seemed to be one long round of congratulations, and she had time to consume very little food or drink. She had felt dizzy with the excitement of it all. She had wondered, at the time, what would it be like being Mrs Lockwood?


Fifty years later and now she was one of the older ones, the matriarch of a large family. Around her, dressed in their finest, were her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Instead of wearing white, for a wedding, she wore a black, gold satin with a gold and black embroidered coat with fur trimming.  Gone were the bustles of the 1870’s and the top hats and long coats that the men wore. When she had married her white dress symbolised virginity and purity, now her black and gold dress represented the fifty years that Frederick and Emma had spent together. Gold for their golden anniversary.

Many of the people who had been at her wedding were at her anniversary. Rachel Nobbs, who had been her bridesmaid was here, cutting the cake for her and Frederick, just as she had done fifty years ago, although of course she hadn’t been called Rachel Nobbs back then. She had been Rachel Small, a member of Ryde’s preeminent family. Many of Emma’s sisters and brothers were present, although not all of them had survived the last fifty years. Still, there were others to take their place, her children, grandchildren and even her great grandchildren. Not all of her family had made it either, but then, not everyone did.

The laughter rose, shaking Emma out of her reverie. There was a mock wedding playing out before her with the younger ones all recreating Frederick and Emma’s wedding at St Anne’s Church in Ryde. Their costumes looked funny in light of today’s fashions. Clothes today were slim and svelte, no longer the restrictive corsets of the 1870’s and 80’s. Instead just a simple girdle. Gone were the huge skirts with their layers and layers of petticoats and their bustle cage. A skirt was one or two layers at most with a single slip underneath it. It was an entirely different time, the War and time had created changes she could never have foreseen when she first married.

Funny how things come in full circle. Once they were married, they had moved all around New South Wales and Queensland, and now, here they were, back again, just down the road from where they were married.

Looking back Emma could be pleased with her life; she and Frederick had complemented each other. He had been in business; she had been in her own business. Many times they had helped each other out, but many times they had gone their different directions with their working lives and done their own thing. Not many women could say that in this day and age. Not many women had run their own businesses, but she had. Through the good times and the bad times, Frederick and Emma had stuck together. When one was falling the other picked them up, and together they had both moved forward. Now here they both were, back where they had started, but with fifty years and a lifetime of experience behind them.


1929 ‘GOLDEN WEDDING’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), 18 July, p. 6. , viewed 22 Jul 2017,

1929 ‘Personal’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), 1 August, p. 7. , viewed 22 Jul 2017,

1929 ‘GOLDEN WEDDING.’, The Southern Mail (Bowral, NSW : 1889 – 1954), 6 August, p. 3. , viewed 22 Jul 2017,

1937 ‘MR. F. N. LOCKWOOD’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), 29 July, p. 14. , viewed 22 Jul 2017,


Reflective Statement

I wanted to mirror the similarities, but also the differences between two lifetime events experienced through Emma’s eyes. That of her marriage and her Golden Wedding Anniversary. I also wanted to give a sense of a life lived between those two events, not just one event and then the other. I am not sure if I have succeeded in this or if my last paragraph, in particular, feels sort of stuck on and like it does not fit the rest of the narrative.

Feedback from my last piece was that I needed to fit the events more completely into a period and place. I hope that this piece has given a better feeling of both age and time and place than my previous piece did.

This piece made me reflect on the visual changes of the life of someone who had lived during the period that Emma and Frederick had lived. Until I started to write up the descriptions of these two events I had not associated the fashion of the 1870’s with that of the 1920’s. It was quite an eye opener to see one of my ancestors living through such a substantial fashion change. Which was, of course, only an outward manifestation of the many other changes that happened in society over that same length of time. I touched on those by mentioning the war but did not feel that a piece of this length would have the scope to examine this more carefully. Weddings are so often about what people wore, so I chose this to focus on, rather than the many other changes that the family would have experienced.


Lilian and her daughter, Ivy, entered the ballroom. As they looked around they could see the flash and glitter of men and women dressed in their finest as they swayed to the music. The room was a buzz of activity and excitement. This ball was to celebrate the great strides that groups like theirs, The Women’s Social Committee, had made in establishing the rights of women. Tonight they would be celebrating women finally being able to receive an endowment if they had children and their marriage broke up, or if they were deserted.

In 1902 women had achieved the right to vote in New South Wales. Now, a quarter of a century later they finally had a way to make ends meet if their marriages broke up, or dissolved in any way, and they had children. Lilian put her shoulders back and stepped forward into this brave new world. No woman would be left in the situation that her mother had been left in. Looking after young children with hardly any income and a husband who could take anything she earned.

The music was loud, but not unbearably so. As the night wore on, a number of competition dances were held. Neither Lilian nor Ivy won any of the competitions but they both joined in enthusiastically. This was a celebration of how far they had come, but there was so much further that they needed to go for women to truly have equality in New South Wales. Now to focus on education. After all, there was nothing like the Rhodes scholarship for outstanding women!


1927 ‘FOR WOMEN. NATIONAL VICTORY BALL.’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 3 December, p. 12, viewed 18 February, 2016,

I have focused on the side of the family that I have not researched as well for this unit. For this reason, I find this family much harder to write about as I know less of them. I also find it difficult to add in a sense of when to my writing. I find specifying when makes it much harder for me to get into a flow for a story. So this was a considerable challenge for me.

Get out!

“Get out, get out you bitch. Leave here and never come back you whore, you cowering, snivelling crazy old woman. How dare you come to this house?” George ranted on as he grabbed for Mary and swung out at her.

“If you come near me again I will shoot you!”

Mary shook as she looked imploringly up at her daughter, Lillian. Lillian was grabbing at her father pulling him back inside the house and trying to calm him down. At the same time she called out to Mary. “Don’t worry mum, I’ll come around to your place. Go home, I will be along as soon as I can get him to settle down. Just leave it for a day or two, please.”

Reluctantly Mary retraced her steps to the house she lived in. It was so rare for her to see her daughter these days. Her husband George had been living with Lillian and her husband for a while now and it meant that Mary was unable to see her or five year old Leonard, her Grandson.

For a while Mary collapsed in a chair thinking through what had just happened. What could she do, was there anything that could be done? All she wanted to was to spend some time with her daughter and her family. She wanted to see little Leonard as he grew up, not just these fleeting moments of time squeezed around times when her husband was no longer in the house, or when Lillian was able to get away.

This time, maybe this time, she should take the abuse to the police and see if there was any way she could get some help.


1903 ‘A TANTALISING TART.’, Truth (Sydney, NSW : 1894 – 1954), 1 March, p. 5. , viewed 14 Apr 2016,


The newspaper article around this particular incident was a triumph of misogyny. The story accused Mary of bringing the incident upon herself because she went to her daughter’s house when she knew that her husband didn’t like her to be around. I felt that I really wanted to show the emotion behind her decision to go to the house. I also wanted to explore the outcomes that her initial decision, to move away from her husband, had had on family members.

The Argument

Outside water glinted off the pool and the breeze wafted gently among the bright pink flowers. The air was scented with the smell of newly cut grass and Ray’s pigeons made their characteristic coo of contentment as they nested in the box over the shed. The day was beautiful and calm and she wanted to stay there all day to avoid what was happening inside.

Inside the rooms were dark. The study in particular painted with a bright red that accented the argument that was going on. The self-portrait of Ray hung on one of the walls with his eyes made out of the lenses of cameras hiding his thoughts in the painting just as much as they were hidden in real life.

There was arguing going on inside, an argument between Ray and his son Tony. They were always arguing. This time, like many others, it was about Tony’s mother. She had been sending Tony packages again. This time she had sent the package to Tony’s family, including his two young girls and refused to send anything to his young son as she believed that he wouldn’t live long so it wasn’t worth sending anything to him. Tony was after his father to intervene but he had left his wife many years ago and did not want to get involved.

Maybe she should stay outside for longer until it started to get cold. She didn’t want to get caught up in the argument inside.


This is a description of my grandfather, Ray’s, house. Outside always seemed so cheerful whereas inside was always cool and dark and was the setting for any emotional upheaval when we visited. It was very hard to focus on having some sort of a story while incorporating a place. However, this particular place is the one that is associated with family, more than any other, in my mind.

The Teeth Broke in version 2

The teeth broke in through the wall. “They tore the walls down like paper as they came crashing through them”. That was how she described the experience.

For months now neighbours had been complaining. The smell pervaded the atmosphere outside the unit as people passed on the walkway. Glimpses through the door and the grimy windows showed years of old newspapers, documents and garbage spilling out of the rooms into the hallway, or off surfaces and out of cupboards. The unit was a fire trap and the neighbours worried about insects and small animals, such as mice, living in the garbage. At night they could hear scratching and screeching within the walls. If they went too near the doors of the unit cockroaches would run out from under the doors and up their legs.

Complaints to the authorities finally resulted in the arrest and forcible detention of Linda for being a danger to society, as a result of her hording and filth. Linda was to be taken to hospital for a mental health assessment.

The police arrived one morning, knocking at the door and calling out to Linda to let them in. She didn’t answer, she never answered. You never knew who you would get when you answered the door. So after a short wait the police broke through the door where they arrested her and had Linda taken to the nearest hospital.

Linda saw it differently. In her confused state she did not recognise police. She saw gigantic teeth, with huge hats on, bursting through the walls. Not the police coming through her door. She didn’t hear what they had to say. Everything happened so fast and with a sound that assaulted her ears. Screaming, she tried to fight off the giant teeth and protect her house and all of the history that she had acquired over years of collecting. But the teeth had their way and she was dragged out of her home. The home that she had known for decades.


The walls were bare and stark, it had the antiseptic smell of an institution. Someone had tried to liven it up by placing a Monet print above the bed that Linda sat in. All it did was highlight the contrast between the colour in the picture and the drabness of the rest of the room.

Linda was sat up in bed, held up by plain white pillows propped behind her. Shaking she described her experience, the teeth, a sound like thunder as they broke through the walls. As her story progressed her hands started to shake and the tears in her eyes gradually wandered down her wrinkled face onto the bed cover. In turn, her granddaughter sat in the only chair, by the bed, looking at the frail woman. She caught her breath as she listened to her grandmother and tried to make sense of the story.

It had been years since she had seen her grandmother. Linda had been isolated from the family, due to her mental illness, for a very long time. So here she was now listening to her grandmother’s story and trying to figure out what it meant. What teeth? Why were they coming through the walls? Why would her grandmother think that teeth had broken into her home? She stayed trying to talk to Linda, trying to find out more. After all, this was the first time in a very long time that anyone had been able to talk to Linda. There were so many stories that Linda may be able to tell. So many memories.

It was as Linda looked at her Granddaughter and said “you look so like your photo” holding up a magazine picture of Princess Diana, that she finally realised that Linda was not capable of remembering reality as it truly was. Instead, she was still living a life outside of the world, one that was hidden by those pale weeping eyes. Not the real life that others knew.

Even with the realisation that Linda was not living in the same world as others, it took a long time for her to equate the story of the teeth with the reality of a woman being forced from her home by the police.



Linda had severe schizophrenia. For many years she was able to live by herself in her own unit. However, gradually her hoarding and the squalor that she lived in resulted in increasing complaints from people living in the same complex that she was living in. This led to her being arrested for being a danger to society and being assessed as schizophrenic. Linda was never allowed to go home, she was medicated and looked after in a locked nursing home from that point on.

Writing this story was difficult. It is an emotive story that needs a lot of back story for it to make sense. I tried playing around with the pace and feel that by doing so I have slowed down the initial action at the beginning of the story, decreasing the hook and the impact of the story. However, overall I felt that this story really lent itself to a very descriptive style of writing with a focus on Linda in her room and the confusion, starkness and loneliness of her life.



Bean, C. 2005. Interview between C. Bean and L. Bean nee Pratt. Hand written notes.

John Carter

“John, John where are you”? She screamed.

He was gone, just like that he was missing. John had been with Edward Hope and now he wasn’t anywhere to be found. Maybe it would be easier once it was light and they could see what had happened.

The ship had struck Lonsdale Reef early in the morning and was now sinking fast. The whole family had been rushed off the ship and in the process, John had been separated from the rest of them. The last thing Ann could recall seeing of him was as Edward Hope had grabbed him saying that he would help to get him to safety. Edward was here, but where was John?

Ann looked for John for as long as possible the next day. Everyone was loaded onto drays and taken to Queenscliff. She waited as long as possible, checking all of the drays as they were loaded up. Trying to find John. She had the other children to watch out for including the young ones Joseph and Elizabeth, so she could not wait much longer. James was getting much older now, he was searching for his brother, as was her husband.

How could this happen? Here one minute, gone the next. They had spent all this time on the Sacramento, the ship that was to bring them to Australia, only to be ship wrecked in sight of the coast. All of the children made it safely half way around the world and now, at the last, John was gone. What had happened to him?

1854 ‘Advertising’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 14 September, p. 6. , viewed 18 Jan 2017,

Victorian Index to Registers of Assisted British Immigrants 1839-1871 Record Series Number (VPRS): 14 SACRAMENTO April 1853.

I found this story much harder to write than the story for last week. The e-tivity didn’t just jump out at me like the previous one did meaning I had to struggle a lot more for a sense of what I was going to write. As it is, I am not happy with the story. I feel that the third paragraph, in particular, needs a lot more work.

The Fractured Family

He wasn’t in the Will. Percy Bean had been in his father’s Will but when his mother died a few years later Percy wasn’t mentioned at all. Instead, she left what little she had to “her three children, Ethel, Lily and Horace”. Percy was still alive but he wasn’t mentioned.

The family were shattered. Raymond and Ivy Bean, children of Percy, kept in contact, but Lancelot had committed suicide and Leonard had little to do with the family.

His children wanted nothing to do with him! Raymond spoke to his eldest son but his other children wanted nothing to do with him.

Tony asks- “what is your problem, why won’t any of you talk to me?”

Is it our problem? Is it his problem? Does the problem stretch back much further than that? Four generations that have not wanted to talk to each other. Four generations of family history that have disappeared and that other family members know nothing about. Does the question “what is your problem” demonstrate the problem? Is that the best way to open contact with a daughter that is trying to reach across the divide and piece the family back together? Is it too late?

A family divided by mental health and divorced from each other. Each generation the family says, this time it won’t happen. This time we will keep in touch, this time it will work. But four generations say it hasn’t so far. The fifth generation is here. Will it work this time?


NSW State Archives Bean, Annie. West Kogarah 10/12/1928. Pre A 041103 [20/1345]

NSW BDM Bean, Percy. 12022/1954

NSW BDM Bean, Lancelot Sydney. 10426/1953

NSW BDM Bean, Leonard. 42017/1966

Family Stories and Oral Histories and personal knowledge and memory


I wrote another e-tivity before this one, I wasn’t happy with it. It seems that my father’s side of the family is calling in this particular unit. It was only after I wrote this that I realised that there was another generation that could probably be included in the dissociation that has occurred between each generation with this family. The first generation mentioned is the first one that arrived in Australia. Yet that generation did not talk to their parents once they arrived. Communication was all with the current generation of the time.

The teeth broke in!

The teeth broke in through the wall. That is how she described the experience.

For months now neighbours had been complaining. The smell came out of the unit as they passed on the walkway. Glimpses through the door showed years of old newspapers, documents and garbage spilling out of the rooms into the hallway. The flat was a fire trap and the neighbours were worried about their health living so close to a place that stank so much.

Complaints to the authorities finally resulted in the arrest and forcible detention of Linda for being a danger to society, as a result of her hoarding and filth.

Linda saw it differently. In her confused state, she did not recognise police. She saw gigantic teeth bursting through the wall, not the police coming through her door. She didn’t hear what they had to say. Screaming, she tried to fight off the giant teeth and protect her house and all of the history that she had acquired over years of collecting. But the teeth had their way and she was dragged out of her home, the home that she had known for decades.


The walls were bare and stark. Linda sat up in bed shaking as she described her experience. In her turn, her granddaughter sat by the bed, looking at the frail woman. She had tears in her eyes as she listened to her grandmother and tried to make sense of the story. It took a long time for her to equate the story of the teeth with the reality of a woman being forced from her home by the police.


At the end of her independent life, Linda was beyond being able to recognise daily activities. She was eventually arrested and forcibly detained for being a danger to society. This was due to the squaller that she was living in and the impact it could have on the health of others. Her story, told by her, was heartbreaking. She had no understanding of what had really happened to her and why and how she had ended up in a nursing home. Writing her story is a challenge as I am unsure if it will make sense.

A Tantalising Tart

“A Tantalising Tart wants her old man bound over”. That was the heading in the News Papers.

Case dismissed!

Years of being the punching bag and hearing herself described in vile and despicable ways by her husband and now she had finally gone to court. This time George had gone too far, this time he had threatened her with a gun.

Mary had gone to her daughter’s house because she wanted to see her daughter. She hadn’t seen her for months. She tried to go only when her husband, who lived with her daughter, was not at home. This time she had misjudged the time. George had been there and as soon as he saw her he started to swear at her. He swung at her and missed, he then went to get his gun. Her children had held him off and she had run back to her home shaking. This time she was going to do something about it. This time she was going to call the police.

The police came and took her statement and she told them that she wanted to follow it up. So the case went to court. It wasn’t even heard. The judge looked at her from on high, in that dark room with his wig on, making his judgment without even asking her what had happened. The Judge, Mr. Isaac declaimed, “on the evidence of the complainant, you have frequently gone to the house where your husband resides, even though you know your presence annoys him. It is ridiculous for you to come to court and swear that you are in bodily fear of him. You went to his residence, not he to yours. I will hear no evidence”.