Women’s History Month.

March is National Women’s History Month. So here is a very good article to celebrate Women’s History Month.

It is important to realise that women are often not heard in history. They were there and they participated in history but history mainly focusses on men. This is because men were the ones who were allowed to participate and also because how women participated and what happens to them is often missed out entirely. Men write the history or have in the past, thus men are the ones who are focussed on in history. This is changing but we have centuries of women’s history to make up and we will never have more knowledge of Women in History than we do of men in History.

Women’s history if often called ‘Little history’ because it is the history of day to day life and not of great events. But that does not make it any less valuable. I hope you enjoy some of the many stories about women in history below.

Some interesting articles about women and their role in history can be found below;


The Thrill of the Hunt: Or going the round about route to find ancestors.

Today I found another branch of the family.

Every now and then every Genealogist hits a brick wall. Over the years I have hit many. One that has taken a very long time to break down is what happened to the siblings of Percy Bean. One married a Mtichell, one married a Brown and Horace of course kept the Bean surname and married Elsie Maude Payne. None of these surnames is exactly uncommon and try searching for Bean on most databases and see how many types of edible beans you have to exclude.

Many years ago through round about methods I found one child, Valerie, for Horace and Elsie. Unfortunately because of when births deaths and marriages get released I could find no details for this family other than the name of the daughter. I found that through a newspaper cutting of Elsie Bean nee Payne’s fathers death. It happened to mention his granddaughter Valerie, daughter of Horace and Elsie Bean.

I looked for Valerie and for a death for Elsie but without the relevant birth, deaths and marriages available I just wasn’t getting very far. So I left it. Last night I started looking again on Ancestry. I came across a family tree on Ancestry.com that had some limited details of Elsie and even a photo of her and her family from when she was young.

Family portrait of the Payne Family Front row in order: Florence , Hilda, Ada, Walter snr Back row: Walter jnr, Vera, Elsie and Violey. Shared by trishandjeff 16 Jun 2013 on Ancestry.com

Family portrait of the Payne Family Front row in order: Florence , Hilda, Ada, Walter snr Back row: Walter jnr, Vera, Elsie and Violey.
Shared by trishandjeff 16 Jun 2013 on Ancestry.com

On contacting the family that had shared the original photo they were able to get me a death date for Elsie Bean nee Payne. Interestingly enough it was right there easy to find on Ancestry but somehow I had managed to miss it repeatedly. However, for some reason that death was what I needed. It didn’t give me much information but it helped me search outside the box. I started looking for Valerie and her husband who had an unusual surname. I came across more and more and finally found Valerie’s death and that for her husband who died just last year in 2015. I even found a photo of him receiving an Honorary Doctorate.

 Honorary Doctorate UTS August 1988 newsroom Ronald Werner.

Honorary Doctorate UTS August 1988 newsroom Ronald Werner.

From there I was able to locate and contact a son of Ronald and Valerie and I have sent them lots of information about the Bean family in the hope that they will also have some information to share that will help me shed some light on this family.

After such a success with Horace’s family I went searching for Lily and Ethel’s family. My search has not been as successful but I do have additional information coming for both families and I did manage to build up my family tree further. It is amazing how sometime just going at things from a different angle can make so much of a difference to what we find.

Good luck finding your ancestors- remember sometimes searching for siblings or children can be more enlightening than searching for the person themselves.


As a child I remember my grandfather, Ray Bean, telling me about his time during the War. He was unable to join the armed services because he only had one eye, the other was glass, so instead he stayed in Sydney. However, he then made the choice to serve in a way that worked best for him.

Ray Bean was a professional photographer and he had an artists eye for detail, even if it was only one of them. So like many artists of the day he helped with Camouflage. Stories that he told me included being aware that in the air to camouflage something like an aerial is not what you expect. You don’t just camouflage the aerial because that is already very hard to see in the air, what you have to camouflage is the shadow as that is very distinctive. So he described making what would look like trees from the air but on the ground were just a jumble of wire with green material stuck in it. This would be placed around the base of the aerial in a circle large enough to disrupt and distort the shadow as it went around on the ground.

Grandpa also talked about hiding things like tanks and aircraft by building fake buildings around them. In once particular case he was engaged in hiding the shadow of an aerial and he and the men he was working with were thirsty. So grandpa decided to go down to a farm house they could see a couple of kilometres away. However, as he walked closer and closer he realised that there was something wrong with the farm house. It turned out that it was a fake and that it was there to hide an aeroplane.

Recently there was a documentary on the ABC about camouflage in WW2. A group of Sydney artists got together and were lead by a person called Dupain who formed a Camouflage group to work with the Armed Forces to camouflage anything that the Armed Forces needed to Camouflage. This sounded very like what my grandfather may have done. However, on writing to Ann Elias from Sydney University who has published a book and a number of papers on this subject it appears unlikely that my Grandfather was part of that group. So back to the drawing board.

If you are interested in Ann Elias work there are some good articles;

Wednesday Wills- people who are disinherited

Two in one week. I have come across two Wills this week where a son has been disinherited in their parents Will.

Alfred Smith

The first was Alfred Smith. His father John Smith, aka Gentleman Smith was born James Sidebottom, probably in Manchester or the surrounds. He was convicted in 1809 and sentenced to Transportation in Australia. The court details for his conviction in 1809 do not detail what he was convicted for. However, within the family there is some thought that he may also be the James Sidebottom who was convicted, and sentenced and then reprieved in 1806 for stealing a waistcoat. There is also mention of being sent to Australia because of duelling. Based on his later activities and extremely good handwriting, it is certain that James Sidebottom was a very well educated man.

After arriving in Australia James Sidebottom escaped and managed to get back to England. Obviously this didn’t suit him as only a few years later James Sidebottom, then calling himself John Smith, was convicted again and sentenced again to Transportation. Once in Australia James Sidebottom, now calling himself John Smith, eventually became a pillar of Society, to some extent and amassed a fortune in land, hotels and other property.

So you would think that this man, who had the most chequered of chequered paths would be sympathetic to a son who was a bit of a hell-raiser. But no, instead John Smith writes his son Alfred Smith out of his Will. How can we tell then that Alfred Smith is John Smiths son? Because he writes him back in a codicil at the same time as he changes his will to limit another one of his sons inheritances. However, by writing Alfred back in, not all is forgiven, he writes him in only in the enjoyment of an allowance during his life and all of the property that provided his allowance is then Willed away from Alfred’s children when he dies. So, not only does John curtail his son but he then inflicts his sons punishment, not so much on his son, but on his descendants.

Codicil, last page of the Will of John Smith. This section re-instates Alfred Smith under certain conditions.

Codicil, last page of the Will of John Smith. This section re-instates Alfred Smith under certain conditions. Source- Norma Warnecke, photo copy and transcription of original Will.


Percy Bean

For years I have had my suspicions about the Bean family and Percy Bean. I don’t know what made me wonder but there seemed to be a conflict between Percy Bean and the rest of the Bean siblings and family. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. He seemed to be missing from a lot of the records of the family when they were together as a whole. This is odd because he is my direct ancestor so I would have expected to find more information with him specifically because he was the person I was looking for. But no. When Percy’s father died there was an immediate response in the paper from Leonard Beans wife and other three children. Percy’s response came three days later and was very muted. But maybe he was in another part of town or away etc?

Then I came across Annie Bean’s Will. Annie Bean was the wife of Leonard Bean and she died a considerable time after Leonard. In her Will Annie refers to her beloved children and she names her three younger children. Her eldest son Percy, his family and children are not mentioned at all. He was obviously at least present for his fathers burial but by the time his mother died he isn’t even in her Will.

Annie Bean must of at least known of the birth of her four Grandchildren by Percy as they lived just over 5km apart. Yet Annie does not mention Percy or his children in her Will. Although our branch of the family have one surviving photograph of one of Percy’s siblings we are not in contact with any of the others. I do not know if we will ever find out what caused the split and why Percy was written out of his mothers Will.

Annie Bean Will 1928.

Annie Bean Will 1928. NSW State Archives. Annie Bean – Date of Death 10/12/1928, Granted On 14/05/1929 Series 4-158736


Death Certificates

I love Death Certificates. Just like marriage certificates and birth certificates they can come up with all sorts of surprises. The most recent one I have found had those lovely words- inquest held and a date on the certificate.

Inquests could be held for a whole heap of reasons including; sudden or unnatural deaths, deaths in police custody, homicides, suicide or acts of violence and a number of other situations. If you want to find out more about inquests you can go here https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/guides-and-finding-aids/archives-in-brief/archives-in-brief-4

So the other day I received a couple of death certificate transcriptions and on one, under reason for death was this startling piece of information;-


This of course lead to the next question- what happened at the Inquest? Normally I would answer this question by sitting at my computer and hunting on Trove- http://trove.nla.gov.au/ but in this case there was nothing. Not all inquests were reported so this is not surprising. So my next step was to go to the NSW State Archives website. There to my joy was an index to the inquest I was after and the contents of the whole document were kept at the Archives. So off to the Archives for me.

At the Archives I ordered a copy of the inquest. This was a slender document that held only a couple of pages but all of them were very relevant. They included the depositions of witnesses including the wife of the deceased.

Inquests can have photos so if you go looking for them be prepared. Frequently they do not have photos and they just have descriptions but you never know what you are going to find. In this case there were no photos, but there were some graphic descriptions.

The person who had killed himself had done so by cutting his own throat with a cut throat razor. Although there were no photos there were references to the ‘bloody razor’ that had obviously been presented in Court as part of the evidence. There were accounts of the police man who had first arrived at the scene, the apprentice who had tried to help the deceaseds wife and the wife who the deceased had tried to smother before she climbed out the window to safety.

As a document this inquest was full of very useful information, as  a piece of family history as recent as 1953, this is a document that should be viewed and commented on here with respect and without impact on the family members it concerns most deeply. So, no names on this one and no tags to the relevant family.

Enjoy looking at your death certificates, they can hold all sorts of surprises.

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 trove.nla.gov.au 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. http://www.family.org.au/afa-journal/114-afa-journal-vol-33-no-1-2012/190-reforming-divorce-law 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. http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/library/prspub/F4TB6/upload_binary/f4tb65.pdf;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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VRJP-N41 : 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 http://barbs01.blogspot.com.au/  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.