Sunday, March 30, 2014

52 weeks of genealogical records - Week 9 - Inquests

This week is week 9 of  Shauna Hicks challenge for 2014.  Shauna said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

For me this challenge is an attempt to blog regularly. I'm not sure how well this will proceed as I am a few weeks behind already.

As I don't live in a capital city it is sometimes difficult to access some records. Yes, many are available online but others still require a visit to an archive or paying a researcher to do the work for me. Personally I prefer to discover things for myself. However, perhaps I should out source some work if it's something I really want.

I have information about several inquests in my family, mainly from newspapers but a few are official primary documents. I have previously written a series of blog posts about family members in my extended family who have died young.

These include :



I do, however, have more information regarding the unfortunate death of John McInerney, my great, great, great grandfather who arrived in Melbourne with his wife an family aboard the Truro on 31st January 1854. Eighteen years later, on 14th December 1858, aged 37, he was dead.

He came by his death in the act of felling and cutting up a tree and that such death in our opinion must have been instantaneous and was purely accidental. (Foreman at the inquest)

John McInerney's son John who was aged 12 was required to give evidence.

I am the son of the deceased John McInerney, (labourer). I was yesterday cutting wood with the deceased (my father) and my two brothers, between Alberton and Port Albert at about four o'clock P.M. I was working about a hundred yards away from where my father was. I went over to him for a drink, and I thought he was laying under a log asleep. I went up to him and I asked him "was he dead" and he did not speak, he was sitting down, with his heels in the ground, and a limb of a tree was across his back and another across the back of his next. I took up the axe which was lying before him and chopped off the limb of the tree which was over his neck, and I raised up his head and it fell down again, and I immediately ran over to my brothers who were where I had been working. Mr Charles Tyers was with my brothers when I went back and I told them that my father was dead they came back to where my father was and found him dead. I had not been about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour absent from my father who I then saw alive, until I returned and found him dead. Before I left my father (when he was alive) he had felled a tree which was resting against another tree, and a stump, and when I came back, the tree which my father had felled, had fallen and crushed him. I went home as soon as I could with my brothers. 

John was further questioned by the Coroner.

What property do you know the deceased to be possessed?

I know my father to possess two pigs and thirteen or fourteen cows, a few fowls, a house on half a acre of ground, which he leased at one time but I think he bought it.

Are those milking cows?

No there are six milking cows, four ? and three suckling calves.

Do you know whether your father has ?? on those animals for debt?

I do not know.

How many in family ?

Eight children.

Mr Charles Tyers also gave evidence.

..... I reside at Sea Bank, near Port Albert. At about four o'clock yesterday afternoon (the 14th instance) I was talking to two younger brothers of the last witness, when the last witness, John McInerney came and told me that his father was dead. I went over to the spot where he showed me, his father, the deceased was in a kneeling position with the toes on the ground, there was a limb of a tree across the back of the deceased and one which was across his neck was cut through but not ? I lifted the tomb off he ?? and found that he was dead. I immediately went and gave information to the ?

John McInerney's wife, Mary was to give birth to their ninth child, Thomas 6 weeks later on 28th January 1869. How much harder was life to become for her?

From re reading this inquest there are some further investigations for me to follow up.


  1. Did John McInerney own the house which his son mentioned?
  2. Where was this property?
  3. I need to investigate further local history of this area as it is one with which I am not familiar.
  4. Visit archives to collect more information about other inquests.






What excites a genealogist?

What excites a genealogist? Last week it was a colleague asking me if I might be interested in a book. It was called The Making of Women - a history of Mac.Robertson Girls' High School by Pauline F Parker.

I feel he may have been shocked by my exuberant reply. Of course I was interested. I think he was even more surprised when I told him I knew all about the Victorian high school.

I quickly flicked to the index and there was the entry I hoped would be there -  Seabrook Norman.

Norman Seabrook, the architect who won the opportunity to draw up the plans for the school in a nationwide state government sponsored competition in 1933, presented the Duke with a gold key to mark the occasion. (p. 60)

One sentence in the book, and of course I was interested. Norman Seabrook (1906-1978), an architect, worked in the construction industry like many of his family including his grandfather Daniel, several of his great uncles and great grandfather Henry William who were builders in Hobart.

Thanks Bill. I'll look forward to reading the rest of the book.







Sunday, March 9, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogical Records - Week 8 Diaries

This week is week 8 of Shauna Hicks genealogical blogging challenge for 2014. Shauna has said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogical blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected by own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world. I am hoping that this challenge will provide a focus for my blogging efforts this year.

This post could have an alternate title - Why I'm thankful for this challenge.

Just before starting this post I was holding one of my most valued possessions. It is compact, measures 11cm x 16cm x 2.5cm. The outside is a reddish, browny leather. There was once a clasp (possibly brass - naming metals is not one of my strengths) holding the ends together, but unfortunately over time part of it has broken off. There is a circular piece of leather on one side which once would have held a writing implement. The sides, although now quite discoloured have patterns of pink and blue. It was probably purchased some time in 1853 by my great, great grandfather William Lee Dawson at Weaklin of 91 Farringden Street, London. Frederick Weaklin was a stationery manufacturer in London.

Diary of Dr William Lee Dawson


It has been several years since I have looked at this diary and reacquainted myself with its contents.

It documents the time Dr Dawson worked as a ship's surgeon for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in 1853 and 1854 and his appointment as the ship's surgeon on the Mooltan taking emigrants to Hobart Town arriving on 1st November 1854. William Lee Dawson was called to give evidence at many inquests and his diary gives the names of those deceased and their cause of death. There is also a detailed list of the expenditure on his new house.

Of his personal daily life in Tasmania there is nothing except:

Came to live in the New House on Wednesday the 20th March 1861 and Fanny Harris came to live as nurse girl on Wednesday the 27th March 1861.

As I flicked through the pages this morning I came across an entry I had not seen before.



George Seabrook and Charles, & ???? came down to work on the 12th Nov 1860 and left on the 29th January 1861 £1 per week.  £33.0.0


George and Charles Seabrook were his brothers-in-law. I had never stopped to think if members of Emma Dawson's (Seabrook) family built the Dawson house. This should have been an obvious connection as Emma's father and at least 4 of her 6 brothers worked in the building trade. Now I know Emma's brothers, 22 year old George and 16 year old Charles built or at least assisted in building the house shown below.






William and Emma Dawson's residence in Franklin from 1861.

Thanks for this challenge Shauna. It highlights that we need to go back and look over all our sources with fresh eyes. We may be fortunate enough to glean new information. Now if only I could locate where this house was built in Franklin!



P.S. If anyone can read the name I can't interpret please let me know.









Saturday, March 8, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogical Records - Week 7 Local histories

This week is week 7 of Shauna Hicks genealogical blogging challenge for 2014. Shauna has said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogical blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected by own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world. I am hoping that this challenge will provide a focus for my blogging efforts this year.

For many members of my family I have been fortunate to gather detailed information which has allowed me to know these people much better. However, for others the only records that seem to have been left behind are simply dates of birth, marriage and death, where they came from, where they lived in Australia and how many children they had. At times some of these dates and places also allude me.

I made a conscious decision several years ago to make these people live too. Every couple of months I go to Abebooks and search for second hand copies of local history books from the towns and surrounding areas of my various families, both in Australia and overseas. I have thus been able to expand my collection of history books.

Some of my purchases have included:

My Lavey Childhood by John Hughes. Born in 1928, the author describes the first sixteen years of his life, spent in the rural parish of Lavey, South Derry. Although my families had all left this part of Ireland long before this date, many of the practices described were long standing traditions, so I now have a glimpse into life in this part of Northern Ireland.

History of Magherafelt, Ireland by W.H. Maitland. This book is a reproduction of a book published before 1923 and gives a detailed history of Magherafelt in the 1800s.

Castlecomer Connections - Exploring History Geography and Social Evolution in North Kilkenny Environs by Tom Long. This book is an amazing local history published in 1984. It is full of stories and photographs from early times up to the 1980s.

Old Stranraer and Cairnryan by Donnie Nelson - This book of photographs and simple descriptions shows places my McColm ancestors may have seen.

Kilraughts - a Kirk and its People by S. Alexander Blair discusses the history of the church where some of my ancestors are buried.

Each of these books and many others on my book shelves help to fill in the gaps about what life may have been like for my ancestors. There are images of buildings and places they would have seen, people they may have known, events they may have experienced and they help me to understand what life may have been like living there.

Who knows one day I may purchase a local history book and find family members mentioned!