Saturday, 20 July 2013

Have you read it all?

In a recent post, I stated that I knew that Jane Davies traveled to Queensland with three sisters. To be entirely honest, that is both a simplification and an exaggeration.

It is a simplification because the passenger list for the Corona includes others. The document shows that the party included her father (John), step-mother (Elizabeth), brother (William) and half-sister (Mary, who died on the voyage).

The exaggeration is because that page of the list actually does not show Ellen. And I "know" that she came, only after having exhausted all avenues for confirming my original inference that the oldest daughter was not part of the family emigration. I scoured UK census and marriage records for confirmation that Ellen did not travel.

Eventually, I admitted defeat on my left-behind theory and returned to examine the passenger list more carefully. A line-by-line review of every page revealed that while Ellen was not listed as part of the family group, she was included elsewhere among the single women. (And, of course, her surname is recorded as Davis.)

It seems that the passenger list was intended to reflect the organisation of the passengers on the ship not their family relationships. So perhaps I should say that Jane, Susannah and Sarah arrived with their sister Ellen, rather than traveled with her.

And the lesson to be learned? Read the whole of every document carefully. The first piece of relevant information that you find may not be only important evidence it contains.

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