Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A better life (Part 1)

Before leaving England in 1866, Philemon COLEY was a labourer on the canals that snaked through the Black Country. His wife Sylva TRUMAN had grown up working with her siblings at the nail forge that her mother maintained behind their home. Little wonder that they took up the offer of a new life in Queensland.

By November of 1879, Philemon and his family must have considered themselves "landed gentry" running cattle and growing crops on their own property at Mount Walker in the Fassifern Valley. While their five children must have worked hard on the farm, they would never again know the extreme hardship that had taken two of their brothers in 1864 in Worcester.

On 26 May 1883, not yet 24 years old, our 2xgreat grandfather Philemon Lewis COLEY registered a brand that would distinguish his cattle from those of his father. On 15 November that year, he sought a lease over 120 acres of Crown Lands described as Portion 148 in the Parish of Rosevale. He paid a £6 survey fee and £3 rent for the first year for the Homestead Selection.

Philemon Lewis must have been able to quickly convert the lease (by demonstrating significant physical improvements and paying 5 years rent) because in the 1884 Electoral Roll for the Ipswich/Fassifern District, he is recorded as being qualified to vote as a Freehold land owner like his father. By contrast, his brother Cephas is listed as a mere "resident" of the district.

On 6 February 1887, P L COLEY married Margaret HARLEY. By 1890, they were living on, and working, their own farm in one of the Colony's most productive areas with two daughters, Margaret Lucy and Beatrice Olive.

Life in Queensland was good for the Coleys — for a time.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Can you spell that?

In the course of Friday's (excellent) seminar on Shipping Records, discussion turned to the many and varied versions of ships' names that may be found. The Rajahgopaul was cited as one example of a name that is often mangled by family historians.

This is a vessel close to my heart because it was the birthplace of Catherine Corry. So I was interested to find the definitive answer to how it should be named.

A Google search [rajahgopaul] produces an immediate suggestion that I may have it wrong; followed by an array of "hits" on different spelling forms.

Employing the time-honoured maxim that he who agrees with me must be correct, I went to the New South Wales State Records result first.

There I found that the image of the passenger list includes (in a beautiful copperplate hand) yet another spelling.

So the name could be one word (with two internal variants) or two capitalised words (with or without a hyphen)!

When you need a definitive ruling, you should seek an authoritative source and what could be more authoritative in the maritime field than Lloyd's Register, available for search through Google Books.

The 1855 edition includes our vessel and the issue is resolved — one word, with a "u".

Now to confirm that fact by referring to the 1860 edition of Lloyd's (because you cannot have too many supporting references).

And the conclusion? The ways in which the names of ships are recorded are no more (or less) reliable than those of the names of the people and places we seek out.

Take care that you consider all the obvious variations (and even some not so obvious). The obituary of Mrs Maria Holgate (eldest sister of Catherine Corry) in The Central Queensland Herald of 5 October 1933 reported that she had "come to Australia with her parents in the ship, Rajah de Paul".

Friday, 27 July 2012

Down to the sea in ships

I am looking forward to spending today in a seminar Shipping Records for Family Historians with staff from the Archives.

It is difficult to over-state the importance of shipping records to Australian family historians when so many of our ancestors came here by sea.

In the case of our family, we have confirmed connections with 15 vessels:

  • 1852 Rajahgopaul
  • 1855 Pacific
  • 1861 Persia
  • 1866 Wandrahm
  • 1866 Southern Ocean
  • 1870 Indus (shown at right)
  • 1882 Dorunda
  • 1884 Corona
  • 1887 Duke of Bucchleuch
  • 1887 Waroonga
  • 1919 Beltana
  • 1924 Hobson's Bay
  • 1926 Orama
  • 1928 Demosthenes
  • 1929 Themistocles

and at least five more are under investigation.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The farm boy and the daughter from the manor

John WILKINS grew up on the farm of Thorpe Hall in Peterborough. He later married Eva Elsie THORPE. Was this an upstairs-downstairs romance that stemmed from idyllic romps in classic English gardens?

Rear gardens of Thorpe Hall, circa 1915

Sadly, no. John and Eva did not meet until after they had migrated separately to Australia. Eva's family was from Nottinghamshire and if they had any connection to Thorpe Hall, it was a very distant one. There is no evidence that Eva had ever seen the Hall before she and John made a return visit to the UK in the 1960s.

But there is an intriguing twist to their story. John WILKINS emigrated in 1925 under a State Government scheme to encourage British boys and young men to take up agricultural pursuits in Queensland. Upon arrival, each farm lad was allocated to a local land-holder for employment and training.

What must John have thought when he was directed to travel to Rosemount in the Maroochy River Valley to begin work for farmer Frederick THORPE and his family who had come from England in 1919?

John and Eva (our great-grandparents) eventually moved to Brisbane and (among other employment) traded as retail tobacconists in George Street. But in the 1950s, they returned to the land and took up a pineapple farm at Buderim. On that property they maintained a cottage for Eva's father, Fred, and for a time took care of one of their grand-daughters.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Transcription challenges

The current buzz in some high-profile American blogs concerns the allegedly high error rate in the 1940 Census Indices published by Ancestry.

This reminded me of a puzzling aspect of the 1911 England Census for our 2xgreat grandfather Frederick THORPE. The transcript available on line listed the family's address as 300 New Sunnyside Worksop. But the neighbours appeared to live at numbers 16, 15, 14 and so on. Why the sudden jump in numbering?

At the time, I was more worried about what seemed a strange change of occupation. In 1901, Fred had been a Spindle Setter. How was it possible that in 1911 he was called a Naturalist?

When I saw an image of the 1911 form, I realised that my two concerns were one and the same. Fred had indeed become a naturalist and dealer in animals and, as a result, the locals regarded his home as being like those new "Zoological Gardens". What had been interpreted as a number (300) was actually a word written in script (Zoo).

As we move to on-line completion of census forms with built-in error checking, our descendents will be deprived of the thrill of making these wonderful little discoveries in our returns.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

How organised are you?

The worst thing about investigating your family history is that everything you find is so fascinating.

You start the day with a really clear idea of what you want to accomplish. On the way, you stumble across a snippet of information that is off-track but really interesting. Before you know it, the day is gone. You have lots of new insights to show for it, but almost no progress on what you set out to do.

Never mind, there is now no need to develop a work plan for tomorrow. I have a perfectly good one already — barely used!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

How many of us are there?

As you turn back from researching a blind alley after finding that yet another person is not the ancestor you are seeking, you might be inclined to say "Well at least we don't have any Smiths in our tree." Which prompts the question How common are the surnames of our family?

There are a number of websites that enable you to compare the occurrence of a particular name across countries and (in some places) within a single country. The World Names Profiler enabled me to look for BURTONS across the world and within the United Kingdom.

This site reports a measure of FPM (frequency per million people)and other mapping tools provide similar. But it is rare to find one that exposes the underlying raw data.

For the United States, FindTheData does just that, by drawing upon the Social Security Administration database. At first glance, you appear to be limited to searching on one name at a time. However, the "Compare" button in the results allows you to collect the data on up to ten names and view them as a table or in various charts.

With a little copying and pasting into a spreadsheet, I was able to extract data on each of the 30 unique surnames that occur in 6 generations of our tree and create a column chart showing how many US citizens share them with us.

While the ANDERSON name clearly dominates, there are 11 more popular surnames in the database. (For every Anderson, you can find 30 American Smiths. "Well at least we don't have any Smiths ... )

Considering our geographical origins, we find a top ten made up of:

  • a Scottish group Anderson[1] Cameron[6]
  • an English group Cook [2] Lloyd [4] Wilkins [5]
  • an Irish group Burton [3] McAllister [10]
  • a German group Kuhn [8] Cramer [9]
  • and one Welsh name Davies [7]

Restricting the data to the 8 surnames found in 4 recent generations, the chart looks like this.

I was surprised that there is not a single entry for SUDDABY in the US database. Hidden in the scale of the first chart is the fact that there are no MEDWELL, HEATHWOOD or BARGH either.

On the other hand, the raw numbers for even the low frequency names are huge. More than 9000 NOYES would create quite a few blind alleys to explore. In moments of frustration, perhaps we should say "Well at least we aren't working on the USA."

The ready availability of all these American data highlights the apparent difficulty of obtaining comparable information on surname frequency in Australia. The site British Surnames has a list of the 100 Top Australian Surnames that suggests raw data may be able to be extracted by someone sufficiently determined. But that may have to be a task for another day.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Living at Granny's house

If we are to believe the 6:30 tabloid television, there is now an unprecedented demand upon older people to take responsibility for raising their grand-children. So it may be surprising to find instances of this supposed scourge of modernity in times past.

The great thing about census data is then when you look for where ancestors lived, you get bonus information about who they lived with. While investigating the homes in Durham occupied by 3xgreat grandfather Thomas LLOYD, I came across the fact that in 1871 he was living with his mother Cecilia and a 10-year-old child, Cecilia Shevels.

After exploring a number of possible relationships, I confirmed that young Cecilia was the grand-daughter of the older one. Her mother (also Cecilia, just to complicate matters) was a daughter from the first marriage of Cecilia BROWN, and hence Thomas's half-sister.

This was not the only case of grand-parenting in our tree. In 1911, great-grandfather John WILKINS was 6 years old and living at Thorpe Hall farm with Aurelius and Ann MEDWELL (his grandparents) and Cornelia Church (aged 16). Cornelia was also the name of John's mother.

It turns out that young Cornelia was the daughter of the older one's sister, Annie. She and John were cousins living at Granny's house. Fortunately at ages 63 and 70, our MEDWELL 3xgreat grandparents had a domestic servant to assist them in caring for the children of two of their absent daughters.

Family historians are not all surprised to find evidence of three, or even four, generations living in extended households. We assume that is how things were. Perhaps we should look more closely for cases where the "middle" generation is missing.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A mysterious death

Today (14 July) marks the 114th anniversary of the death of Bertha Spragg (a sister of our 2xgreat grandfather, Philemon Lewis COLEY) at Silverdale. The Brisbane Courier reported it as a "supposed case of suicide".

The event itself raised a number of questions for investigation. Who was this "adopted son" never before mentioned within the family? Did the reference to "Ipswich Hospital" mean the same in the 1890s as it did in the 1950s — a mental health facility? Who believed that "she did not appear to have anything the matter with her" on the day before her death?

The nature of the newspaper story added further layers of complexity. Had it not included a reference to her father (Mr P Coley), the document (which twice mis-spelled her husband's name) might never have been found. How could the paper's "Ipswich Correspondent" have got the name and place of residence wrong but included so much other detail.

Any reader of the depositions sworn at the inquest will form a good idea of which witness was the source for the news story, and cannot help but wonder how or why he would misreport his own address.

On 21 July 1898, Mr Sealy JP concluded that Bertha died by her own hand and that there were "no suspicious circumstances". And there the matter rested.

But modern family members, brought up on a diet of television crime series, would love to ask several of those who gave evidence about the sequence of events, about times and distances, and about the purported reasons for some actions.

Perhaps most of all, we would like to ask Philemon COLEY (the family patriarch) why he did not attend the inquest to report on the events of the week before Bertha's death when was living at her old home,but sent her brother John Thomas instead?

If it is true that every family tree contains at least one dark secret or impenetrable mystery, then the tragic death of Bertha SPRAGG looks like ours.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Born on Black Friday

It is tough to write a witty topical blog when your ancestors just will not cooperate.

What could be more appropriate on Friday the Thirteenth than to write about all those family members who were born on that day? After all with over 500 people in the database, if birthdays are distributed evenly throughout the month, there should be 17±2 that fall on the 13th.

Six! Just six people born on the thirteenth of anything on any day of the week. And only two of them were direct ancestors. The rest were siblings. So the chance of finding even one Black Friday Birthday was shrinking.

Perhaps it would be necessary to find some other odd coincidence to rescue the planned post. How likely is it that the two ancestors with birthdays on the 13th were a married couple? Well, not as impressive as the couple whose birthdays fall on the same day and month; so back to calendar checking.

13 January 1902 was a Monday, so great grandfather is no help. Which means that 13 October 1905 will be three days later. No wait … 1904 was a leap years so …

Great grandmother Isabel Corry SUDDABY was born on Friday the Thirteenth! Perhaps I could schedule this post to appear on 13 October 2017 when the 112th anniversary of her birth on a Black Friday falls on a Black Friday. Or I could just concede that this attempt to force topicality just does not fit our tree.

I did want to avoid the inclusion of anniversaries of death because of the ghoulish association with horror movies and other nonsense. And because, of all the known dates of death in the database, we have just one that falls on the thirteenth — Saturday 13 November 1852. [SIGH]

Thursday, 12 July 2012

What price free information?

The increasing availability of on-line resources has transformed the practice of family history. There are now thousands of people calling themselves genealogists who have never unwrapped a bundle in an archive or trudged hopefully through a graveyard.

A typical on-line service provides customers with instant access to a range of digitised official records and the opportunity to create and publish family trees. The happy intersection of those two modes of business enables them to sell information provided by one client to another when their "search" includes so-called user-generated content.

There is a certain authority attached to a BMD registration, a Census form, or even a passenger list; but how much trust can you place in what I publish online?

Well, not me, obviously. Everything I post is comprehensively researched and impeccably documented. But what about the contributions of mere mortals who are prone to error, to wishful thinking, or just plain fabrication.

These musing were prompted by a return to Mundia after an extended absence. Mundia is an arm of the Ancestry mega-corporation that aims to separate the two major aspects of the family history business model. It enables users to create trees from scratch or upload an existing GEDCOM file, but does not offer direct access to any official records.

Membership of Mundia is free (at least while it is "in beta") because each person who contributes anything to the site is providing stuff for Ancestry to sell through its subscription arms. I have no difficulties with that when the company is completely open about what it does. I do wonder, however, whether their ought to be some requirement for quality control.

Mundia employs the "wiggly green leaf" heavily advertised across Ancestry websites to indicate that its algorithms have identified some additional information about a person in your tree. In essence, the leaf says "Here are some assertions, made by someone you do not know, that have no citations or sources attached to them. Would you like to incorporate them into your file?"

At first glance, the hints may appear to be coming from multiple sources. The same information is being offered from several contributors. Then you realise that, if you accept the hint, your tree will be added to the list vouching for the authenticity of the claim.

So why do I refer to Mundia? Because used carefully, it can provide useful insights. I will not accept a date of birth or a place of burial just because it is offered. I will use that information to refine a search undertaken somewhere else that can turn up real evidence to support the assertion and justify adding it to my database.

But it can be so frustrating. I was reviewing what (little) I know about 3xgreat grandmother Margaret HEATHWOOD (died 1887 aged approximately 49). A search using just that on Mundia identified five potential matches, Four, named Atwood, died in the United States; so the site was working beautifully so far.

Then came the shock.

And even worse, I knew that I had contributed to that mess because I uploaded a fragment of GEDCOM when I was first testing how the site worked.

Of the 19 versions of Margaret's life, 11 assert that she was born in Queensland and 6 that she was born in Co Armagh, Ireland. A seventh site argues for Ireland but apparently confuses Armagh and Fermanagh into Armanagh. And the nineteenth? Well when I uploaded, I could not confirm place of birth (and still cannot) so left it blank.

I understand the reason for the two camps. Margaret's death registration is annotated "** born Queensland aged 49 years" but there is no corresponding birth entry. On the other hand, there is inconclusive evidence of Heathwoods travelling from Armagh to Moreton Bay.

How many of the contributors to Mundia care about, or are even aware of, that uncertainty? And how can I identify those who do, so that I can apply appropriate weight to the value of their work? One way will be to wade through 18 published trees and assess their reliability in other areas.

In the meantime, I simply need to rely upon caveat emptor; which I believe is Latin for "if an aegean offers you an animal without charge, then have a good equine dentist handy".

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Who was Catherine Corry?

When I was a small boy, I thought that (great) Aunty Corry had a very strange name. I said so to my grandmother, who told me that Corry was part of her name too; and that of Aunty Vi; and Uncle Tommy and even Uncle Henry. Who was the woman with such an influence that five of her grandchildren were given her name?

I have previously written about our 3xgreat grandmother Catherine CORRY having been born at sea on 9 September 1852 as the SS Rajahgopaul neared the (then) colony of New South Wales.

But the connection between that birth and the person we know to be our ancestor is by no means straight-forward.

We know that Catherine married Henry SUDDABY in Bundaberg on 21 March 1876. Their first child, Thomas Henry, was born at Cooranga Creek in the District of Darling Downs North, on New Years Day 1877. It was five weeks before Henry travelled into Dalby to register the birth. On the form he indicated that Catherine was 26 years old and had been born at Margathy in County Armagh, Ireland.

Catherine had a second child, William, on 26 April 1878 and she died seven days later (3 May). William lived for just two weeks after his mother's death (d 15 May 1878). The registration of Catherine's death lists her parents as James CURRIE and Mary O'DONNELL.

There is no record of either of these "parents" in Australia. Nor is there any record of migration by Catherine from Co Armagh either alone or as part of a family. I have been unable to locate any place in Armagh, or elsewhere in Ireland, with a name resembling Margathy. The lives of the family from the Rajahgopaul, on the other hand, are well documented and consistent.

All of the apparently incorrect information came from Henry Suddaby. You might argue that a man who had lost a young wife and been left with a toddler and a (dying) baby had every excuse for being an unreliable witness in May 1878; but that leaves the February 1877 errors to be explained.

I conclude either that Henry was unaware of his wife's family and origins, or that he deliberately concealed them.

Was Catherine estranged from her family? Had she kept the truth from her husband; or did he know it and supported her by keeping a secret beyond the grave?

One possible explanation is that the Catherine born on the Rajahgopaul was the child of Anthony CORRY and Catherine KENNY of Killmurray, Co Clare. Like her sisters Maria and Honora, she was almost certainly Roman Catholic.

Henry SUDDABY (and his brother John, who accompanied him to Australia) had been christened in the Church of England Parish of Eastrington, Yorkshire.

Whatever the truth, such matters were of no interest to little Thomas Henry SUDDABY. Left without a mother at eighteen months of age, he then lost his father three days after his fifth birthday. Tom must have had precious little to remember either of his parents as he grew up, but he held onto a name — Catherine CORRY.

Tom's first child with Jane DAVIES in 1897 was named Olive May. After that, he gave each of five children, boy or girl, the same second name — Corry. Today, I don't think that is strange at all.

Sunday, 8 July 2012


As I watched the cricket from England last night, my thoughts wandered to which of our ancestors might have seen the view over the River Wear in Durham that was offered during quiet moments in the match. I could recall at least one marriage that occurred in the parish, so there must have been other events in the same area.

Church of St Mary & St Cuthbert
Chester-le-Street, Durham
Marriage of Thomas Lloyd and Jane Cook
6 July 1872

Even though I subscribe to the view that our family history is shaped as much by the where as the who and the when, it still takes a determined effort to avoid always adopting a person-centred approach.

Fortunately my software of choice (Gramps) provides strong tools for collecting and managing information about places.

Once you have entered the latitude and longitude data, the software will call up a map (in your choice of service, such as Google or Open Street Map) centred on that location.

From there you can easily determine that from the church (pink marker) it is a scenic 15 minute walk to the Riverside (purple). Although in 1872 Thomas LLOYD and Jane COOK would have known the area as the grounds of Lumley Castle, since the cricket ground of that name was not established until 120 years later.

Census data provide important sources of location-based information. In 1871, Thomas had been living with his mother at Pelton Fell (green marker) approximately 4 kilometres west of the town centre. By 1881, he and Jane had three children (including our 2xgreat grandmother Mary Ann LLOYD) living at Twizell Lane (marked in red) nearly 7 kilometres from Chester-le-Street. This westward movement probably reflects the expansion of the coal mines in which Thomas worked.

Looking backward to Thomas' birth in 1851 at Felling, we find that he had not moved far in the first 36 years of his life.

What must he have thought of a journey that would take him to the goldfields of Gympie, retirement in suburban Brisbane, and finally burial at Bald Hills in Moreton Bay Region.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Happy coincidences

I got a real buzz listening to the July episode of the Genies Down Under podcast yesterday.

Apart from all the usual excellent features, my excitement was caused by the fact that Maria included an item that I had submitted from our family history. The theme for the episode was "Coincidence stuff for genies: Tales of genealogy flukes" and I wrote a short piece about the multiple appearances in our history of the ship SS Demosthenes.

At Christmas 1916, Charles COLEY and Reginald NOYES sailed on HMAT A46 Demosthenes from Sydney as reinforcements for the 25th and 26 Battalions respectively. There is no evidence that they ever met, but a decade later, Charles' nephew Alexander Clarence COLEY married Henry's niece Doreen NOYES and they became our great grandparents.

After the end of War War I, the Demosthenes was returned to the Australian Commonwealth Line and resumed service on the England-Australia route. In 1928, grandfather Robert Joseph MCALLISTER (from the other side of the tree) migrated to Australia with his mother and younger brother aboard the very same SS Demosthenes.

However much a family historian may claim that he spends hours poring over old documents and on-line databases for the intellectual challenge of solving real-life puzzles, the boost to the ego of having your work out in public is very nice.

Thanks Maria, for the opportunity to show my children that this "ancestor" is still productive.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A tale of two immigrants

On May 30 1866, Thomas Harlin, M.A. (a Fellow of St Peter's College Cambridge) arrived in Moreton Bay on his way to take up the position of Mathematics Master at the Ipswich Grammar School (which had been established as the first secondary school in the Colony in 1863).

Unfortunately, he had not enjoyed his voyage from England aboard the Southern Ocean. In a letter to the editor of The Brisbane Courier published on Wednesday 6 June 1866, he described fellow passengers as "the scum and refuse of the town populations of Great Britain".

This character assessment by such a distinguished English gentleman is of interest to me because among the "lower classes" conveyed by the Southern Ocean under the auspices of the Queensland Government Immigration Agency were our 3xgreat grandparents Philemon and Selva COLEY and their son Philemon Lewis COLEY (our 2xgreat grandfather).

Mr Harlin's letter was a long one as he had much to say on the character of the purported "railway artisans" who had been afforded free passage. He opined that "some ... are convicted thieves, and ... several of the rest are morally certain to swell the gaol charges of Queensland within twelve months of their landing".

It is not surprising that some in the Colony took exception to the views of Harlin and responded in (what we might now describe as) a robustly Australian way. Undeterred, the man (who, within a few years, would become the foundation Headmaster of the Brisbane Grammar School) contributed another lengthy letter on Thursday 7 June advising the Queensland government on how it ought to manage its migration program which included purported verbatim transcripts of conversations that occurred during the voyage.

On 8 June 1866, the Courier carried a letter signed an old resident of brisbane which included "I went to the depot to see and judge for myself as to the quality of the immigrants by the Southern Ocean. I have conversed with them, and believe them to be, almost without exception, a steady, hard-working class of people, and not as 'T. H.' describes them 'the scum of London.' For the future, I should advise 'T. H.' to mind his own business, and not trouble himself about people who, although they may have not had, perhaps, such a good education, and be able to put M.A., etc., at the end of their names, are quite as good as himself."

Despite his apparent lack of academic distinction, I find much to admire in the opinion of that "old resident", both with respect to our COLEY ancestors and their apparent accuser.

Both Philemon Coley and Thomas Harlin travelled from Brisbane to Ipswich to take up employment soon after arriving. Given the schoolmaster's views of his fellow passengers, it is unlikely that their paths crossed again. Nevertheless, it would be wonderful to know the opinion of the ship canal labourer concerning the Cantab Fellow; if indeed, Philemon deemed him worthy of a single thought.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Our house?

  • When I first began to investigate our COLEY ancestors, two questions demanded attention.
  • Did they have anything to do with Captain Coley's cottage in Brisbane?
  • Were they from Coleyville (south-east of Ipswich)?

The cottage which stood near the current Queensland Parliament House was reputed to be the first privately owned home in Brisbane. It was built in the late 1840s and said to be still standing early in the twentieth century.

Richard James COLEY (almost always referred to as Captain Coley, although his links to the sea are undocumented, except in his obituary) was a well-known merchant in the colony and was appointed the Sergeant-at-Arms of the first Queensland Parliament. This position has responsibility for keeping order in the Assembly and protecting the Speaker. Fortunately the role is ceremonial, because by then Captain Coley was over 60 years old and in failing health.

Any links I could find to such a prominent early citizen of Queensland would be a terrific limb for the family tree. Nevertheless, I reminded myself that manufacturing links to desirable ancestors is not acceptable practice.

Sadly, Richard James COLEY died from a gunshot by his own hand in 1864. The Coroner ruled that it was due to "temporary insanity". An examination of his financial affairs showed the Captain was close to penury and that the famous cottage was heavily mortgaged. His son, also Richard James, died in Roma in 1872, allegedly by taking strychnine.

Perhaps a connection to this COLEY group would not be well-regarded when the family gathered? However, I must press on.

Richard COLEY had arrived in Brisbane in 1842 from van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). He had lived there since 1835 engaged in farming (and perhaps, coastal trading) with his brother-in-law after migrating from Norfolk in England. He was born in London in 1797 to Ann BLINKERN and Richard James COLEY (who had been a merchant Captain).

Since I now know that our proven COLEY ancestors were labourers who left the Black Country of the Midlands to arrive in Moreton Bay in 1866, there is no possibility of a link to the Captain and his famous cottage.

Was the time spent chasing down a negative result wasted? Certainly not, when I have learned so much about the context of the new colony into which our real ancestors moved.

And Coleyville? As always, that is a tale for another time.

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