Wednesday, February 3, 2016

James Taylor's aunties

I have written a little about my grandmother's grandfather here. His name was James Taylor and he lived forty years in Eldorado in the Ovens Valley, Victoria where he was a gold miner. He died there in 1916.

James was born in 1831 in the beautiful city of Durham in Durham county, England. His father, a woolcomber, was John Taylor and his mother Ann Coultman. By 1851 they were living in Back Lane, Durham. Quite a few family events, baptisms, marriages and burials, occurred in St Nicholas Church. We visited Durham, and had a coffee in the St Nicholas drop-in centre, several years ago and we thought this loop of the River Wear and the buildings it encloses very beautiful.

Old postcard of the beautiful Durham Cathedral
Back Lane, Durham, England. A loop of the River Wear encloses the cathedral and the
castle as well as the market square and the little St Nicholas church.
Many of the Taylor and Coultman families lived in the St Nicholas parish. 
Durham market square and St Nicholas parish church
Community Coffee Centre, St Nicholas Church, Durham in 2010.
James, aged 20, was working as a hand loom weaver but about that time gold was discovered in Australia and he decided to join in the goldrush. His death certificate states that he arrived in Victoria about 1852 but I haven't been able to confirm that because there are so many 'James Taylor' arrivals about that time.

The next ten years of James' life are a blank but I assume he was mining gold somewhere in Victoria. In 1864 he was mining at Beaufort when he married Ann Chellew (nee Chaundy) there. She was widowed when her husband was suffocated by bad air in a mine. Ann's sister Leah (Raby) was living in the Ovens Valley in northern Victoria and three of her sisters also moved into that area - Emily (Young), Alice (Cameron) and Ann (and James) who were at Eldorado in 1869. James and Ann never had any children (although James had a son with Ann's sister Emily but that's another story).

James Taylor's mother was Ann Coultman, daughter of Richard Coultman and Elizabeth Shafto  I had done some research on her family, who also lived in Durham city, but one day recently I was searching the name on the public family trees on Ancestry and discovered that two of Ann's sisters, James' aunties, had also migrated to Victoria. Well, stone the crows!!!

As we all know, the public family trees on the web are notoriously inaccurate, so I was cautious in accepting the information. Several of the trees claim that Elizabeth's surname was Weaver rather than Shafto but I'm convinced that Shafto is correct. I checked the sources and attached documents and will continue to check as well as try to contact living descendants, but on the whole I think it's probably right.

The two aunts who came to Victoria are Camilla and Elizabeth.

Camilla Coultman was born in 1809 in Leeds and married William Close at Durham city in June 1840. They had six children in Durham before migrating to Australia some time after 1852. They lived at Williamstown across the river from Melbourne. Camilla Close died at Douglas Parade, Williamstown in 1889 and William died there the following year.

Elizabeth Coultman was born at Durham in 1815, married James Thompson at Durham in July 1840 and had four children. They migrated to Victoria about 1852. Elizabeth was widowed in November 1853 when James Thompson died at Maribynong near Williamstown. She remarried the following year, in Melbourne in June 1854, to John Petty. They were living at Sandridge (now called Port Melbourne) across the river from Williamstown when Elizabeth Petty died in 1868.

So, I have a lot of questions.

  • Did James know his two aunts and his cousins were in Victoria? I think he must have done because his parents, his Coultman grandparents, his uncle William Coultman and his family, and his other aunt, Hannah (Baker) and her family were living in the same lane, Back Lane, in Durham in 1851. (Back Lane is called Back Silver Lane on Google Maps.) 
  • They all arrived in Victoria in about 1852 so did they all emigrate on the same ship? 
  • Was he in touch with them or did they ever visit each other? 

I have some work to do.

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