Thursday, July 4, 2013

A letter home to Oxford

You know those tricky years, the 1850s, when it's so difficult to find any paper trail to prove where your ancestors  were living and working? In Victoria it was a time of extreme flux as thousands of people, including a number of my ancestors, arrived from interstate and overseas to look for gold and moved around the state following rumours of more productive goldfields.

Well I had a little piece of luck. My Chaundy family arrived several years prior to the gold rush because the father, William, had been sent out here for stealing money. His family were left destitute and relied on their parish in Oxford for support. The parish eventually paid to send them out to Australia to join William.

The letter below was written barely a year after the family arrived, by the oldest son, William Henry Chaundy, and was published in the Oxford JournalThis part of the letter describes his father's house (I wrote a blog about this earlier) and what the various members of the family are doing. I wish he had gone into even more detail of course but am thankful for the snippets. William Henry Chaundy was about 21 years old when he wrote this letter and appears to have somehow received a good education despite the poverty of the family.

To the EDITOR of the OXFORD JOURNAL
Dear Sir, - The following letter, received on the 6th instant from the Chaundy family, who left Oxford to join their father in Australia in the spring of 1850, may not be altogether uninteresting to your readers.Your's respectfully.             
W.B.St. Aldate's, April 14, 1852 
Mount Misery, Fairview, Wardy Yallack,Geelong, Port Philip, August 9, 1851.My kind Benefactress, - I am happy to avail myself of this opportunity of again addressing these few lines to you, trusting your father and your kind sisters are in the enjoyment of excellent health, and may the Almighty grant them that blessing till a peaceful grave is their lot, which one and all must come to, sooner or later. I trust your health, my kind friend, is again restored, and may you live long and happy to enjoy it. I am glad to inform you that my father, mother and all my brothers and sisters are quite well; and as my sister wrote to me the other day, in her usual joking style, she thought all their fortunes were being made. My father is in an excellent situation in a large establishment in Melbourne; my sister Elizabeth is in a very comfortable situation in a clergyman's family in Newtown; my brother George, and also little Anne, are out in service, and all of them earning good wages. My father, through our joint efforts, has a large piece of land, and a house built on it, at Collingwood, one mile from Melbourne. I am far away back in the bush, 120 miles from Melbourne, as stock-keeper on a large station...Jackson's Oxford Journal Saturday, April 17, 1852

William (junior) gives his address as 'Mount Misery, Fairview, Wardy Yallack'. I haven't been able to pinpoint this exactly. West of Rokewood there is a Mount Misery Creek and a Woady Yaloak River nearby, and I can't find a reference to 'Fairview'. In 1851 Ballarat didn't exist and neither did the highways and minor roads. The land was shared between several hundred squatters trying to run sheep on unfenced land so they employed shepherds like William to look after the flocks.

The area where Mount Misery Creek and Woady Yaloak River meet in western Victoria. Google Maps
Further on in his letter William describes his life on the sheep station, the excitement of the discovery of gold in the state and his plans to go goldmining with his brother, but I'll write about those another time.


1 William CHAUNDY b: 09 May 1806 in Stokenchurch, Oxfordshire, England; Stokenchurch was transferred to Buckinghamshire in 1896., d: 20 Jan 1863 in Richmond, Victoria, Australia.  Transported to Geelong, Victoria on 'Eden' 4 Feb 1849

... + Rachael GREEN b: 25 Jun 1810 in Eastrop, Highworth, Wiltshire, England, m: 06 Nov 1829 in St Lawrence, Reading, Berkshire, England, d: 20 Dec 1860 in Richmond, Victoria, Australia, Migrated: with children Sydney, New South Wales 11 Aug 1850 on 'Ramillies' to join William.

......2 William Henry CHAUNDY


......2 Elizabeth CHAUNDY

......2 Ellen Selina CHAUNDY 

......2 Frances CHAUNDY

......2 George CHAUNDY 

......2 Hepzibah Anne (Annie) CHAUNDY 


......2 Leah CHAUNDY 


......2 Emily Rachel CHAUNDY 

......2 Alice Julia CHAUNDY


......2 Richard CHAUNDY 

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Lorraine