Thursday, December 6, 2012

The house in Little James Street

Just when you think you know it all something else pops out of the woodwork.

In 1850 William Chaundy was living in Victoria, Australia. (He had been jailed in Oxford, sentenced to transportation and arrived in Geelong in February 1849 -- but that's another story.) His wife, Rachel, and six children were living in Oxford, England and were a drain on the resources of their parish so when she applied to the Poor Law Commissioners to join her husband they agreed. The whole family arrived in Melbourne late in 1850.

The Electoral Roll of 1856 records that William had a house and land in Little James St, Richmond and working as a porter. He was still living there when he died in 1863. Rachel died there three years earlier.

Richmond Rate Book, 1862.
It describes the house as made of wood with two rooms.
Probate on William Chaundy's will in 1863 describes the property as having a frontage of twenty feet, 
a depth of eighty four feet and a three-roomed house in a bad state of repair. It was valued at 90 pounds.

Little James St, Richmond as it looks today - a narrow back lane with garage access for
 houses fronting other streets. (Google Maps street view)
William left the property to a son and two daughters and I have a copy of the paperwork generated in January 1878 when the son bought out the daughters' shares for ten pounds.

Now I hadn't actually been able to determine when William bought the property and I wondered how such a poor family could even afford it by 1856. I thought perhaps the gold rush that began in Victoria in 1852 may have been a factor but couldn't prove it.

So I was delighted yesterday to find a reference that filled in a few of the blanks. Early in 1852, just before the gold rush, one of William and Rachel's sons, William Henry Chaundy, sent a letter to a friend in Oxford and it was published in a newspaper there. He described how he was working on a large farm property near Ballarat and mentioned quite a few snippets about the family, including this:
My father, through our joint efforts, has a large piece of land, and a house built on it, at Collingwood, one mile from Melbourne.
[Extract from a letter written by William Henry Chaundy, in Victoria, to a friend in Oxford, England. Published in Jackson's Oxford Journal, Saturday, April 17, 1852.]

It appears that several members of the family were earning enough to contribute to the purchase of the property some time in the prior year or so. (It was actually at Richmond not nearby Collingwood.) William also explained that he and his brother were heading to the goldfields and we know from other sources that they were quite successful.

William CHAUNDY, son of Richard CHAUNDY and Jane ATKINS was born on 09 May 1806 in Stokenchurch, Oxfordshire, England (Stokenchurch was transferred to Buckinghamshire in 1896.). He died on 20 Jan 1863 in Richmond, Victoria, Australia. He married Rachel GREEN, daughter of Edward GREEN and Elizabeth HERRING on 06 Nov 1829 in St Lawrence, Reading, Berkshire, England. She was born on 25 Jun 1810 in Eastrop, Highworth, Wiltshire, England. She died on 20 Dec 1860 in Richmond, Victoria, Australia.  


  1. What a great find! It's always good to be able to join those dots in a story.

  2. Hi Lorraine, I'v just found your blog today. I am a direct descendant of William via his daughter Alice. Thanks very much for creating and sharing your work. COuld you please tell me how you accessed the 1856 Electoral Rol. I didn't even realise it existed and would love to use it for other branches of the family. Thanks!

  3. Hi:)
    I know quite a bit about the Chaundy family and would love to have a chat. Could you email me?
    You should be able to access the 1856 roll in the computer section of most public libraries, but only people with a certain amount of property were allowed to vote, and no women!
    Cheers, Lorraine

  4. Hi Lorraine, sorry I didn't mean to be so mysterious - I thought my name would come up! I'm not sure any of my family would have owned any property - although you probably thought the same thing researching old William. I'll drop you a line in the next day or so. Regards, Meredith


I love to read your comments. Thankyou for your interest.



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