Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Christmas Day in the mallee

Christmas day in Victoria's mallee 1925. Dave Larkin, young Jack, his father Jack, Will cutting hair.
Christmas Day is the perfect time to have a hair cut. It's the only day of rest in a busy farmer's life. Christmas Day is in summer in Australia, harvest time for grain crops. And you don't need to go to town, or pay a barber, because someone in the family is sure to have the necessary skills. I wonder if they all lined up for a haircut.

Posted for Sepia Saturday. You could wander on over to see what others have written.


Happy Christmas everyone.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Voyage to Australia: the ship 'Omega'

It was winter in London, 17 January 1855, when the ship Omega sailed down the Thames bound for Victoria, Australia. The Captain was Samuel Potter and the Surgeon Superintendent was William Arthur. After calling in and departing from the port of Southampton on the 30 January the ship had 334 passengers on board. The majority were 'assisted' migrants because the government of Victoria had sponsored their passage.

The voyage lasted for 94 days and appears to have been without major incident. Only two female adults died during the voyage. It arrived at Hobsons Bay (Williamstown), Melbourne on 4 May 1855.

On board were John Painter and his second wife Frances (Fanny), and his children George aged 14, Richard aged 11, Sarah aged 9 and Eleanor aged 17. Eleanor was with her new husband Charles Stokes aged 24. John was an agricultural labourer and the family had been living at Iwerne Courtney in Dorset.

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer 4 May 1855
Cornwall Chronicle (Tasmania) 9 May 1855
The ship also carried cargo and in the following week or so several advertisements appeared in newspapers.

The Argus, 5 May1855
The Argus, 18 May 1855
There was also a notice to prospective employers that the immigrants would be taken to the Immigration Depot.

The Argus 8 May 1855
John Painter (or Paynter as he was known in Victoria) was employed by Mr Arundel Wright of 'Beaudesart' station at Box Hill or Nunawading at 80 pounds for six months. His son George Painter, aged 14, was employed by George Dunbar of Dandenong at 20 pounds for 3 months and his son-in-law, Charles Stokes, was employed by John Affleck of Boroondara (Kew) at 60 pounds for 12 months with rations. All of these places are now suburbs east of Melbourne. None of the family stayed in Melbourne - within a few years they had moved north of the city to select land, but that's a story for another day.

The Omega sailed at the end of May with cargo and mail, bound for Point de Galle in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sarah has a mental problem

Sarah had a short life. Only 32 years.

We don't know very much about her as yet, just a few facts and nothing at all about her personality. She was born in about 1818 in England. We don't know where and we don't know who her parents were. We don't know if she had siblings.

But we know her name. It was Sarah, Sarah White.

In 1837, when she was about 19 years old, Sarah married a man who was 23 years old. John Painter was an agricultural labourer from Iwerne Courtney (also known as Shroton) in Dorset. John and Sarah were married at Child Okeford so I think it safe to assume that Sarah was living in that village and may have grown up there but there is no record of any White baptisms in that parish for that period. The villages of Child Okeford and Iwerne Courtney are not very far apart, only four or five kilometres.

Child Okeford parish church (2010)
John and Sarah had four children who were baptised in the parish church at Iwerne Courtney - Eleanor (1837), George (1839), Richard (1842) and Sarah (1844). John would have worked on a farm or farms around the village.

Iwerne Courtney (Shroton) parish church (2010)
Countryside at Iwerne Courtney, Dorset (March 2010)
In January 1848 Sarah was admitted as a pauper inmate to the Dorset Asylum (known as the Forston Asylum) at Charminster. She was there for six months and discharged on 22 June 1848. Presumably she went back to her family at Iwerne Courtney. Her children were young - Eleanor would have been about 10 and young Sarah only four years old. Who looked after them while their mother was absent or ill? Her husband would have had to contribute a few shillings a week to the asylum while she was an inmate so it would have been a drain on the family's limited resources.

Four months later Sarah was again admitted to the asylum, on 5 Oct 1848. This time she was there 16 months and died at the asylum on 7 Feb 1850. She was buried at Iwerne Courtney five days later. She was 32 years old.

The asylum's archives are held in Dorset and I have a plan to acquire a copy of Sarah's file. It is probably quite detailed. It would be interesting to know what form of insanity Sarah had. Was it as 'simple' as post natal depression? And what caused her death? The asylum was only about 22 miles from Iwerne Courtney but was her family able to visit her? The asylum was visited annually by a committee and their reports, published in Dorset newspapers, indicate that the inmates were generally well fed, housed comfortably (for example they had straw-filled palliases rather than just sleeping on straw on the floor) and worked in the garden, laundry, sewing room and so on. Anne Brown is an archivist at the Dorset History Centre. She said: "The treatment that the patients received at the hospital, through our modern eyes, was really quite harsh and not very humanitarian.
There were no anti-psychotic drugs, or medication like we have today. It was just a case of keeping people in secure accommodation away from the rest of society." 


John Painter (also known as Paynter) remarried a year after Sarah's death and migrated to Victoria in 1855 with his family. The youngest child (Sarah Yeaman) was the mother of my husband's great grandmother.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Ralph Alford is arrested

Remember when boys were enthralled by 'Cowboys and Indians'? Remember when the Saturday matinees in every town (before the era of TV) had serials like 'Hopalong Cassidy'. Remember when boys were given cowboy hats and holsters and guns for Christmas?

My husband's Grandpa Alford was happy to join in the fun when his grandsons, David and Roger Larkin, arrested him. Another little cousin, Joan Fisher, looks on. It must be about 1959. The place is Grandpa and Grandma Alford's dairy farm at Mologa in northern Victoria. All of the cousins have very happy memories of times spent at the farm.

"Hands up, Grandpa"
This post is in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo in which there is a child in cowboy costume has lassoed his father. What will other bloggers do with the theme I wonder?