Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Laundress and the Convict.


Elizabeth Mashford Atkins was it seems, nothing if not resilient, and would turn her hand to anything. By 1885, according to her tax returns, she is working as a Laundress.

At the age of sixty-six, with her previous occupation as a servant, perhaps taking in laundry is a less onerous way to earn some money. Although, according to the reports of the times, laundering was arduous and required degrees of resilience and strength.

Water had to be hauled to a wood-fired copper, for which no doubt wood had to be split. Large amounts of at least warm water would be required and more for the rinsing. None of which was likely to be coming from a tap in any laundry.

Bedlinen, table-linen, clothes, all had to be washed by hand, on boards, wrung by hand, which never gets out much water, leaving fabric heavier than we would know it, and then hung on a line.

One reason why those who could send out their washing, did, was because it took up so much time, space and effort.

Although we are used to a weekly wash, these days often daily, by the nineteenth-century it was considered prestigious to own clothing enough to put off laundering for several weeks, again because of the effort involved in getting things washed. In a “well-known chronicle of English rural life” by Flora Thompson it is said of the town postmistress in the 1890s that she:

kept to the old middle class custom of one huge washing every six weeks. In her girlhood it would have been thought poor looking to have had a weekly or fortnightly washday. The better off a family was, the more changes of linen its members were supposed to possess, and the less frequent the washday (24).

Back-breaking was a term often used for laundry work, but it was also something readily done by anyone, since the skills were widespread and the basic equipment readily acquired. The laundry mangle had been around since the late 18th century, but whether they had made their way to rural South Australia by the late 19th century is the question. Probably they had and Elizabeth did have access to monies following the deaths of her older brother and her mother, so we can only hope she had one to use, along with the help perhaps, of her now grown daughters.

Traditionally older women, widows, or divorcees, or married women short of money, were the ones who took up laundering. Washing was something which could be done from home and which allowed attention to be given to personal needs at least, some of the time.

It was an ongoing, sloppy, messy process, but it allowed a degree of flexibility which working outside the home did not. And it may well have been something which Elizabeth and Mary did together, in order to support themselves and Mary’s illegitimate son, since she was not to marry Charlie Ross until 1888.

Laundry work enabled women to remain at home to care for their children while still earning an income.
A laundress working at home would, in today’s vernacular, be an entrepreneur. As such, she was typically not the delicate Victorian lady. The Royal Commission on Labour reported the comment that laundresses were “the most independent people on the face of the earth.” Running a business required more than knowing how to iron a lace collar or having a back strong enough for heaving sodden linen about.

From the photos we have it is clear that Elizabeth was a solid woman and young Mary, a slight little thing. No doubt between them they could handle the demands of laundry work.

This description from Ronald Blythe’s, The View in Winter, of a servant’s life is revealing, although, Elizabeth and Mary at least had the benefits of a more benign Australian climate than British washerwomen had to endure:

She used to wash for the big house and all this linen was brought to her cottage in a wheelbarrow. How she used to manage all this washing in her cottage without the use of anything, I don’t know. She had an old brick copper. She said she’d stand up till two in the morning ironing with a box iron. Sixpence an hour she was paid. He husband was away in the army and she washed. (34)


Photo: Adelaide, in  1839.

Fellow researcher, Luke has been continuing to work on Edward/Edwin Atkins:

“The Police Gazette gave a description of Edward Atkins he was from Cirencester, aged c19 years, 5-foot tall and 6 1/2 inches, an oval face, grey eyes, brown hair, and Blacksmith.

This description matches the Gloucestershire Gaol record for Edwin Atkins.   From Cirencester, a Blacksmith, aged c19 years, 5 foot tall 6 ½ inches, brown hair, this time he has blue eyes, but in a dark prison room an easy mistake to make. Upon arrival in NSW the Convict Indent record gives the same description of 5 foot 6 1/2 inches tall brown hair, grey eyes, etc. it is all the same person.

While I was in Adelaide, recently, I went to the Supreme Court. I was told, or I read somewhere, that a person can go to the Supreme Court and they have an index database of all Supreme Court trials from the 1800’s. I found out where to go and I had a look at the database.

There is a civil matrimonial case lodged by Elizabeth Atkins in 1873. This could well be our Elizabeth Mashford because 1873 is very close to 1872 when she purchased some land in Gladstone.

If this is Elizabeth Mashford it may well be against Edward Atkins for some reason and will let us known why the couple separated. I doubt it is a divorce matter because their names do not appear in the divorce list from the State Archives divorce index list from the 1800’s.

However, to read the court case is not straightforward and may take some time. First of all I have to write to the Register of the Supreme Court and request permission to access the court case as all Supreme Court cases from the 1800s are still restricted.

If I get permission I then have to go to the State Archives and I can only do this in the first Thursday of every month. Secondly I have to then show the letter from the Register to a staff member and then they have to find the particular court case, which in itself is no mean feat. Sometimes they just bring out a big box and then you have to go through all the court cases to find the one you want which can take some time

I will write a letter to the Register and I will keep you informed about the outcome.
As for Edward Atkins there is a newspaper report (Trove) of how he got into a fight along the Para (Gawler) in 1839. The newspapers said he was allowed bail. However just because a person is allowed bail that does not mean they can meet their bail conditions and have to serve their time in Gaol.

 I went to the State Archives and due to the very bad sloppy paperwork which people kept it is not clear how long he was in the old Adelaide Gaol. The newspapers say he was released, but it also could mean with time served. He was in the old Adelaide Gaol it is just a matter of how long. It may have been for a good three months or just for a few days before the court case took place.

However, when I say the old Adelaide Gaol I do not mean the one next to the railways line in Adelaide. In 1839-1840 that Gaol had not been built. The Gaol he was in no longer exists and it use to be in between Government House and the military parade grounds on King William Street.”

This would be about two years after Edward Atkins completed his seven year sentence in New South Wales, which gives him plenty of time to make his way to the fledgling new colony of South Australia, established in 1836.

If he headed West for a new start, it was not a very promising one at this point.

The Trove report:


Thomas Fielding, Joseph Best, and Edward
Atkins, were charged with assaulting Thomas
Wilson at Mr Reed's station on the Para, on the
30th of last month. The Clerk of the Peace,
stated that this was so serious a case that he was
instructed to request his Worship to send it for
trial at the next general gaol delivery.

The 
prisoners were accordingly committed, but allowed
to procure bail. The complainants who presented
a shocking appearance, is an inmate of the in-
firmary, and a certificate from the Colonial
Surgeon was handed in stating that he was suf-

fering from compound fracture of the jaw.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The facts so far on Charlie Ross

The ancestry research to find Charlie Ross has not gotten far at all but the Greek side of things was always going to be difficult.

We have come a long way in tracing his wife, Mary (Polly) Atkins Ross's family, but the absolute facts about Charlie Ross are still few.

1. He was born in Greece in 1849. He went to sea as a young man or boy,  sometime between the ages of 11 and 23. The earliest date would be 1860 as young boys often did join ships, or were commandeered to do so.

2. He became a sailor and spent some years at sea 'roving' and having adventures - minimum of five, maximum of twelve.

3. He settled in Port Pirie after arriving in Australia. The earliest date would be 1871 and the latest, circa: 1877, for enough years to be 'remembered.' 

4. He moved to Gladstone circa. 1886 and worked there as a fishmonger as he had in Port Pirie.

5. He married Mary Atkins in 1888. He gave his father's name as Christie on the marriage certificate. This is most likely Christos or Chrysantheus.

6. He had five children to each of whom he gave at least one Greek name.

7. He anglicised his Greek name or adopted an English name after arriving in Australia or the Port Pirie report would have included another name for 'old Pirieans to recognise.

8. The Greek names he chose for his children, Constantinus, Anastasia, Vangelios, Chrysantheous, Christus and Spiro are likely to have family connections.

9. He died in 1907 and was buried in an Anglican cemetery.

10. His grand-daughter Flora RossSwincer was said to be the spitting image of him.

11. He had a very strong accent given the poor phonetic spelling of some of his children's names on birth records.

12. He was obviously an amiable and personable character, as stated in his obituary, given the fact that the death notice was reprinted in the Port Pirie newspaper more than twenty years after he had left the town, for the benefit of those who had known and remembered him fondly.

13. There is no record of him ever taking up citizenship. (Perhaps evidence that he did jump ship.)


Photo: Charles Vangelios Ross, Charlie's second son, in his First World War uniform. Charles looks to be a mix of both parents with the 'shape' from the Atkins side and other features from his father, if his daughter Flora was truly the 'spitting image' of her Greek grandfather and we have no reason to believe she was not.

Other possible facts drawn from family history are:

1. He was born on Ithaca, one of the Ionian Islands.
2. He 'jumped ship' at Port Germein and so entered Australia illegally.
3. He came out on his 'uncle's ship.'
4. He spoke a number of languages.

Photo: Charles Vangelios Ross in his fifties looking more like the Greek side of the family but with the Atkins shape face from his grandfather, Edward. Elizabeth Mashford also had a 'long' face.

So the questions which still need to be answered are:

1. What was his Greek Christian name and surname?
2. Was he born on Ithaca? If so where?
3. Is his English name an anglicisation of his Greek name or something he adopted?
4. On what date and just how did he arrive in Australia.

The answers are still out there and may remain so but efforts will continue to find what we can.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Bigamists and Paupers - some more thoughts on Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins.


Image: Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins and her son by Edward Atkins, James Haynes Atkins. 

Ancestry research involves bringing together the threads and knots of information and conjecture in an attempt to stitch together a full picture. Sometimes it just leads to more tangles and holes in the story.

What is heartening is how often we have been staring into such a 'hole' and then, later, find the information which fills it in.  The plan now is to see if we can get some additional information from a professional researcher in Gloucestershire.

In the meantime, researcher, Luke Harris has some more thoughts on Elizabeth Mashford, and I post information as it comes to hand so that others might access it, even if we have not confirmed points made in the discussion:


"As for bigamy, I have looked into the laws at the time. There would have been enough evidence for the Police to investigate the matter, and for all we know if they saw the notice they may have questioned both Elizabeth and Edward. 

However, if the Police laid a charged of bigamy the Courts more than likely may have found her not guilty. It all depends on what defence Elizabeth Atkins had. She could honestly claim she believed her husband was dead or believed he was dead because they had been no contact at all.

It happened a lot of time to many women in the 1800's, because even though divorce was available it was only on every narrows grounds and they was no legal aid and the cost of lawyers forced many men just to leave their wives especially during the gold rush era. As a result, the police were exposed to lots of cases of deserted wives.

However, common law expected that women should wait seven years before they decided to remarry and Elizabeth Lewis did not do this. As a result, it becomes a grey area of law and even if the police knew about the matter, they may have decided to do nothing about it.

When Josiah Mashford remarried, it was a clear-cut case because the police knew about his first wife and where she was. Nobody knew where Peter Lewis was or what happened to him, and Elizabeth Lewis was crafty because she said:
“If Peter Lewis who left his Wife and Children Destitute in Melbourne 12 years since, is still living, this is to caution him or any other person…” 
she did not say Peter Lewis who is still alive and she also threw doubt upon the matter by saying “or any other person.” I think she was trying to cover herself by careful use of words.
As for being in Melbourne -  I think the Lewis family was there for two reasons. First it was the era of the gold rush and thousands of South Australians left the state and moved to Victoria and Peter Lewis may have thought he would have a go at mining.

It may have been a case of him saying to Elizabeth, “you stay in Melbourne with the two kids and I will go to the gold fields” and he just never returned. It may have taken Elizabeth some time to work out she was a deserted wife.

Alternatively, in 1853 Jane Mashford married George O'Brien, in Melbourne and the Lewis family may have gone to Melbourne for the wedding and Peter Lewis took an opportunity to take off because The South Australian Police could not enforce any laws in Victoria. Nevertheless, Elizabeth Lewis returned to Adelaide very pregnant with Henry Lewis and without a husband.
You can go to the State Archive to see the Divorce list for the 1800's and there is no Elizabeth Lewis or Elizabeth Atkins. Divorce was not a simple matter in the 1800's and remarkably few people did it. Another reason why people did not like to get a divorce is because the Press would publish all the details and nobody wanted that.





Image: The overgrown gravesite in the Gladstone cemetery, of Elizabeth's daughter, Mary (Polly) Atkins Ross and her husband, Greek sailor, Charlie Ross.

The first piece of evidence that Elizabeth was in Gladstone was 1872 when she purchased the block of land so she did not leave him at the time of the notice, as far as we can tell. 
I think James Atkins, along with George and John Lewis, did get a block of land as well.
In addition, I have been researching Edward Atkins’ family in Gloucestershire and they seem to be in twenty-century terms “dysfunctional.”

 I use that term with a pinch of salt because they were urban working class people and victims of the Industrial Revolution, as  so many were. The social conditions in the cities for working class people were terrible and as soon as a husband died they was no income and people could not pay the rent etc etc. There was a lot of poverty 
 and Ann Atkins was on poor relief in 1861 and living as a lodger with her daughter Mary Ann Atkins.

It seems her other children were not helping her which suggests the family was not very close or the family bonds had broken down. Two sons, George and David ended up in gaol at different times. The oldest son Charles just suddenly dropped dead one day and there was a Coroner’s investigation.

However, the most interesting fact is Mary Ann Haines Atkins was committed to Gloucester County Lunatic Asylum and died there. I know you have to be careful about mental health issues and mental health hospital in the 1800's as many people were committed when they did not have a mental health problem, but two of Edward Atkins grandson ended up in Parkside hospital in Adelaide.
As for the Destitute Asylum, there were two forms of relief, Outdoor relief and Indoor relief. Elizabeth Atkins I think would have received outdoor relief, which means she would have received food etc because she had her brother’s house to live in.

However, if she had a mortgage she would still have to find the money to pay the Bank. A good book about the history of welfare in South Australia in the 1800's is called “Rations Residence Resources: A history of social welfare in South Australia since 1836” by Brian Dicky.

Another good book which has helped me is about women and the Law in South Australia in the 1800's and is called “In her Own Name Women in South Australia History” by Helen Jones. 

In terms of being sure that Henry Edwin Atkins and our Edward Atkins were one and the same, we cannot be absolutely sure, but there is strong evidence it is highly likely.

I have been going through my emails you sent me from a few years ago and at one stage, you hired a researcher in England, I think her name was Lynne Cleaver and she in turn, sub-hired, a person called Geoff Swinfield to look at the court case of Henry Edwin Atkins at the National Archives.

One way of proving the link between the two men would have if Geoff found any letters of support from Joseph and Ann Atkins making an appeal to have the death sentence changed to that of transportation. Geoff stated in your email that the appeal documentation was in a bad state and not good enough to transcribe.

As a result, any letter from Joseph Atkins is now impossible to prove. However, in his profession opinion he stated:

“Re Edward Atkins being one and the same are that they are indeed the same, more evidence point towards this than against.”

The other factor is all records for a Henry Edwin Atkins born 1812 Gloucestershire are lacking in England. Normally, what a person can do is find a baptism record for a person, and if there are no problems, follow that person through the English census records through from 1841, to 1851, 61, 71, 81, Census records etc until they die. There is no burial record for Henry Edwin Atkins and no census record for him. This suggests he emigrated somewhere, or some other factor, like transportation.

Your researcher made some further suggestions including a search of the Worcestershire Archives to see why Joseph Atkins moved from Gloucestershire about 1830, the same time Henry Edwin Atkins was charged. In addition, a search of the Gloucestershire Archives to look at records including the Cheltenham Poor Relief records in regards to Ann and Maryann Atkins hardship. He/She also suggested Regimental Records for Joseph Atkins at the National Archives.

As for the Gloucestershire Archives, I really do not know what a search will show. As mentioned, you can go to the Gloucestershire Archives Website and in their search field; I typed some names including Mary Ann Atkins and George Atkins. (Henry Edwin Atkins’ brother).

That is how I found out that Mary Ann Atkins was in the Asylum (and the 1871 census record) and what dates etc, and that George Atkins died as a Pauper in the Cheltenham Union Workhouse. However, the website did state that there were no other details e.g. family members etc."



Saturday, 4 March 2017

A woman of property and perhaps a bigamist.

Image: Destitute Asylum, Adelaide.

Fellow researcher, Luke, has gathered some more information on Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins, which show that she was a woman of property, following the deaths of her brother, George May Mashford and her mother, Mary Cann Mashford, in 1850, barely eight weeks apart.

She may also have married Edward Atkins without proof that her first husband, Peter Lewis was dead, and in fact, knowing he probably was still alive. Alternatively she was a little dim although there does not seem much evidence for that explanation.

And according to the notice published in 1865, within three years of the death of her much loved brother and mother, Elizabeth and her children were left destitute in Melbourne after being abandoned by Peter Lewis. Although, if Elizabeth had inherited money from her mother, since her brother's Will was not finalised until 1856, she must have had enough money to get back to South Australia with her sons.

George Lewis was born, July 8, 1848 in Kensington and so in 1865, when the notice regarding his father was published, was seventeen, and while underage in law, was not so young. Perhaps Elizabeth feared that if Peter Lewis was alive, she would be revealed as a bigamist.

But that doesn't work, given that she put the notice in the newspaper warning about contact being made with her son. Another possibility is that the notice revealed to Edward Atkins that his wife was probably a bigamist and if he had 'found' or always had religion, that marked the beginning of the end of their relationship. Although Elizabeth did not move to Gladstone until around 1878, some thirteen years away, at a time when her youngest daughter, Mary Atkins, later to be Ross, was pregnant with an illegitimate child. The theory is a little thin to say the least, but conjecture is the way of ancestry research.

John Mashford Lewis, born at Marryatville December 10, 1850, a few months after Elizabeth lost her mother and brother, was Fifteen in 1865. Henry Lewis, born January 22, 1854 died in 1855, in Adelaide.

Elizabeth made an application in Adelaide to the Destitute Board for relief, in 1853, and so it seems that when Peter Lewis deserted her, she was pregnant with her third son, and could not work. Even if she had inherited money from her mother, it may have been very little and not enough to live on while she was pregnant, and supporting a five and three-year-old.

Or indeed, if there was a legitimacy issue, she may have inherited nothing from her mother, or had been prevented by her sisters and surviving brother from claiming it, and was in dire straits until her oldest brother's Will was finalised in 1856.

Whether or not she and her sons lived in the Destitute Asylum, we do not know.  Although little Henry's death may well have been the result of living in the poor conditions, away from his mother, which such places demanded. After such a loss, it would be even less surprising that Elizabeth would do whatever she had to do, perhaps marry the first man who asked, knowing that her husband might still be alive, in order to provide a better life for her children.

The history of this institution has been written by Mary Geyer, Behind The Wall - The Women of the Destitute Asylum
Adelaide, 1852-1918


Image: Children of the Destitute Asylum.
It provides an insight into Adelaide's Destitute Asylum and the women who experienced life behind its walls. Until its closure in 1917 politicians and governments, Commissions and Boards of Inquiry tried to solve the problem and cost of destitution to the colony.

South Australia was a free colony, without convicts,  planned according to the Wakefield principles, where there would be no poor or destitute. According to this theory emigration of the correct proportion of capital and labour would create an ideal society free from social, economic, political or religious problems. It would be a self-sustaining society, prosperous and virtuous without the need to provide for paupers.

As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men. The reality was very different.  Almost from the start the South Australian Immigration Agent had to provide assistance to those in need.  In 1843, barely seven years after the colony was established,  the government passed its first legislation to deal with poverty. It now became law that relatives were responsible for the maintenance and relief of deserted wives and children.

And of course, Elizabeth Mashford Lewis had no relatives in Adelaide who could help her and possibly none interstate or overseas who would or could, and not only was she deserted but pregnant with two small children to feed.  With George May Mashford's Will still not finalised one presumes she could not live in his house and with no other relatives in South Australia, is most likely to have been forced to live in the Asylum. Although researcher, Luke, seems to think that she could have lived in her late brother's house. Wherever she lived, times were tough.
During 1849 the Board provided relief to 25 indoor and 114 outdoor destitute. By 1851 this had increased to 63 and 187 respectively. By 1855 it reached an all time high when it had to provide relief to more than 3,000 men women and children, one of whom was our great-great grandmother. 

This high number came about as a result of excess female immigration which resulted in lower wages being paid, a very poor harvest causing increased unemployment and the large number of wives who had been deserted by their husbands leaving for the Victorian goldfields. Deserting husbands were the chief cause of female poverty and it was suggested that these men should be flogged.

And perhaps it was to the goldfields that Peter Lewis went. Wherever he was, Elizabeth was alone.

If she was in the Asylum it was hardly a pleasant place. It was, like the Poorhouses of England, a place of last resort and nowhere that anyone would live by choice.  Men and women were segregated by a stone wall of nearly three metres. Once admitted, inmates were only allowed to leave for five or six hours once a week, although pregnant and towing a toddler and a small child, if indeed she was allowed to take them out, dressed in the Asylum uniform, one presumes Elizabeth did not take up the offer of 'time-out.'.

Each day the bell would ring five times, the fist in the morning to get out of bed, three times a day for meals and finally for lights out. Asylum women were expected to earn their keep and were involved in washing for outside customers, ironing as well as sewing hessian sacks, garment making or embroidery.

Orphans and children of destitute families were admitted but separated. Parents could visit them once a month but only for two hours. After 1867 this practice was ended when children were sent to industrial schools or boarded out to families. If Elizabeth spent time in the Asylum, she would have been separated from her small sons.

There was little compassion for destitute pregnant women although Elizabeth did have a record of her marriage and as one of the many abandoned wives due to goldfields fever, may have had an easier time. 

Elizabeth had experienced a traumatic few years, but, was resilient enough, it seems to survive and carry on. Her brother, George's Will would be finalised the following year, and within two years of losing her baby son, she would marry Edward Atkins.

For a woman, abandoned by her husband when pregnant, destitute with small children to care for, marrying Edward Atkins, even with his brood of motherless children, may have seemed an offer too good to refuse.

She was tough, but then one had to be in the 19th century, or, as my mother often said: 'It's a great life if you don't weaken, once you weaken you'r gone.' And 'gone' in those days was literally into the gutter.

And perhaps it was because she had been abandoned by her first husband that she chose not to fully trust the second and kept knowledge of her property and wealth a secret from him - just in case. As it happened, for reasons we do not know, that second marriage also ended in separation, although, from the look of it, this time Elizabeth did the leaving when she moved from Wirrabarra Forest to Gladstone in 1872, which is when the records show her purchasing land.

Whatever the reasons for the 'ending' of her second marriage, it seems clear that Elizabeth was resolute in regards to caring for her children, no matter what, and that is a heritage which stood her in good stead and no doubt does for her descendants.


Image: Burnside/Marryatville, Council chambers, 1865.

As Luke writes: 
" I made an enquiry with Denise Schumann from the Culture Heritage Adviser: City of Norwood Payneham and Saint Peters. They hold the rates assessment books which covers Marryatville from the 1850s.

It would seem from the assessment books for the property which George May Mashford had, the owner of the property and the person paying the rates was "Mrs Lewis" This implies she must have paid her two sisters out and the house belonged to her. What is even more interesting is Elizabeth Lewis, not Elizabeth Atkins, is paying the rates up until 1877.

She may not have told Edward Atkins about the property because under the laws at this time, as her husband, he had a legal right to her property. Thus she kept paying the rates under the name of Lewis.

In the period from 1859 to 1863 Samuel Heanes, who was John Cann Mashford's brother-in-law, is recorded in the town of Kensington council rate book as an agent or representative of Elizabeth Lewis.

NB:  John Cann died in 1849, but it seems Elizabeth maintained links with his widow and her family. 

From 1878 to1879 the owner was "Emily Lewis" which is believed to be an error and is a misreading of Elizabeth. In 1880 Samuel Heanes was listed as representing the owner of 14 Burwash Road, where George May Mashford lived, until 1884.

It was not until 1882 when the property was sold by Elizabeth Atkins (not Lewis) to Alexander Kauffmann.

I think this might be able to explain how she managed to buy some land at Gladstone because as a woman in the 1800s, the banks did not have to give her a loan, however if she used her house at Marryatville as security against the loan the bank may well have given her the money she needed.

If Edward Atkins knew about this house at Marryatville or not we will never find out, but if he did and this was the cause of the break up it would give Edward Puddy every reason to cut the family out of the obituary written when Edward Atkins died. 
Furthermore, about the house and where Elizabeth Lewis got the money from. I believe the following. Elizabeth Lewis got a quarter share of her brother’s house and something from Mary Cann Mashford’s share. She was married to Peter Lewis at the time and women in the early 1800s could not get a loan from the Banks unless they had their husband’s permission. Peter Lewis may have thought it was in his best interest to give his permission for her to get a loan. Whether the loan was under both names or just her name we will never know. However, they had a mortgage just like any other couple did and had to work to pay it off like any other couple in the early 1800s. As a result, Peter Lewis would have known all about the house as he was still married to her. Also after Elizabeth Lewis paid out her two sisters they took off to Melbourne for good.
If Peter Lewis was still alive, all he had to do was to go to the Norwood and Kensington Council and make some enquiries as to who the owner was and found out where Elizabeth Atkins was living.
It is interesting that Elizabeth Atkins does not seem to have changed her surname with the Norwood and Kensington Council until after she had left Edward Atkins. As a result, if Peter Lewis was still alive, Elizabeth Lewis made it easy for him to track her down to Charlton.
Of course, there was no Post Office at Charlton. I do not know where the nearest Post Office would have been located, more than likely at Melrose, about 15kms away. 
What Edward Atkins knew about the whole situation remains unknown. However, if there were any problems in the marriage this notice would have added to it and how Elizabeth Atkins explained everything to Edward Atkins remains unknown.
In addition, it may explain how she got the blocks of Land at Gladstone. She would have had a tenant in the house, thus paying off her loan and even though it was against Bank policy to give a loan to women in the 1800's they may have turned a blind eye because she used the house as security against any loan. I also think she gave a block to George and John Lewis because there was an agreement. They would build her a house on her block for free, in return, they each would get a block.  

This is the notice.I found it on TROVE. The notice really does have many ramifications because Peter Lewis could have been very much alive when Elizabeth Mashford married Edward Atkins. For somebody to write to George Lewis they had to have known the address where the Atkins family lived in 1865, how did somebody find out they were living at Charlton?"
“If Peter Lewis, who left his Wife and Children Destitute in Melbourne 12 years since, is still living, this is to caution him or any other person against sending or bringing private letters or messages to my son George Lewis, he being under age. Elizabeth Atkins (formerly Lewis), Charlton Mines, February.”

In addition, Luke has been researching the position of women in regard to taking out loans in the 19th century:







LUKE SCANE-HARRIS says:

Dear Ms Allen I was wondering if you could help me with a number of questions concerning the status of married women in 19th century South Australia. I have tried to find the answers myself, but to no avail, but then I came across this website during my research.
I am researching my Great Great Grand Parents Edward Atkins and Elizabeth Mashford. Both people separated, but there was no divorce. In November 1872, Elizabeth Atkins purchased five blocks of land at Gladstone SA. On 30 August 1873, Edward Atkins placed a notice in the newspapers stating he would not be responsible for his wife’s debts. I understand that under the SA Married Women’s Property Act 1883/1884 women in SA could for the first time hold, and dispose of any real or personal property. Before this Act, a married women’s property legally belong to the husband. I also understand that married women could not enter into a legal contract without her husband’s approval. However, would I be right in saying that before 1883/1884 the husband could be responsible for his wife’s debt? Would this be the reason as to why Edward Atkins placed the notice in the newspaper? Would such a notice back in the 1800s give Edward Atkins any legal protection if his wife could not pay her debts?
Secondly, I am having real problems in finding out any information regarding the status of women and banking in South Australia in the 1800s. I am under the impression that women could not enter into a legal contract without her husband approval before 1883/1884. Am I right in my thinking? If so, how did Elizabeth Atkins a married, but separated, women buy land under her own name? because she would have to enter into a contract unless she lied. Do not be worried if you have to tell me my GGGmother was a liar because it would not surprise me. She may have married Edward Atkins while her first husband was still alive and I believe that caused the separation.
Furthermore, If she did not have the cash she would have to borrow the money from a Bank. I am under the impression because there were no anti-discrimination laws that Banks could deny married women from opening up their own accounts in the 1800s. Would my thinking be right in this regards? I am also under the impression she would have to lie to the Banks to secure any loan.
Want is interesting about the certificate of title I have in regards to the land is in 1886 she transferred a block of land to her son George Lewis and I have copies of the Gladstone council assessment rates which show her other son, John Mashford Lewis , is paying council rates for another block of land which she owned. As a result, could it be possible that she never took out a Bank loan, but instead, her two sons took out the loan and as repayment, Elizabeth Atkins transferred some of the blocks of the land?
Any suggestion you have would be most helpful. I do have a copy of Helen Jones’ book “In her own name,” and Henry Finlay book about divorce in Australia 1858-1975. However, these books do not seem to cover in any details the information I am seeking. Are you able to recommend a good book on the history of women’s right in South Australia ,or a journal article, which covers the information I am seeking.






CATHERINE MANNING says:

Hi Luke,
You've been doing a lot of research there! I'm not sure about legal protection from the newspaper notice, you may need to consult a lawyer on that one, but since before the married women's property act a woman's property went to her husband it is reasonable to assume debt would as well. Your theories about the involvement of Elizabeth's sons also sounds reasonable, but without records of her bank loans and debts it's impossible to say for sure. You can search for further information on the land and title records here: https://www.sailis.sa.gov.au/home/auth/login You may also find information at State Records if you haven't already tried there: https://www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/family-history
Re. further books you might try: Elford, K, ‘Marriage and divorce’ in Eric Richards ed., The Flinders History of South Australia: Social history (Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 1986). Margaret Allen contributed this piece to the website but can be contacted directly at the University of Adelaide, where you will find a list of her published works. These may be of use for your further reading also - http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/margaret.allen

Monday, 9 May 2016

And finally Charlie Ross gets some mentions.


Photo: Mary Atkins Ross (left) and Elizabeth Atkins Cox (right) with at back, Elizabeth's daughters, circa, 1935.




I had been planning a trip to Gladstone for a few days to pore over old copies of The Areas Express and Farmer's Journal, which was the paper covering Gladstone and the area where Charlie Ross lived and worked, when Trove began putting it online and thus saved me a little bit of travel and a great deal of work.

Trove is a godsend for research where instead of scouring page after page in a library, you type in a name and a time-frame and it brings it all up.

I have picked up a few snippets already and await further published notices, articles and advertising as the process continues and while I doubt there will be much that is substantial, given the low status of Charlie Ross, whatever comes will be appreciated and useful.

One thing which has become clear, and as the obituary suggested, was that Charlie Ross was very popular and much-liked in Gladstone, just as he had been in Port Pirie.  He was also involved in the community, putting his name to a list supporting the Mayor when he sought re-election in 1901.

And beyond formal notices he was called Charlie. But the first mention comes in 1887, a year before he married Mary Atkins, where he is cited in a theft case, in Laura, a small town in the Mid-North.

This is perhaps an indication that Charlie Ross travelled far and wide selling fish.  It seems Charlie had bought a gold pin which had been stolen, yet another indication that he was doing pretty well as a fish-hawker if he had five shillings, a goodly sum in the day and about a quarter of an average weekly wage,  to buy a gold pin, and perhaps it was a gift for Mary. Or perhaps it was for himself, as the pin had been stolen from a man.

However, hearing it had been stolen, Charlie returned the pin to the owner, so a man of conscience or pragmatism, or sense, it seems.


1887

MAGISTRATE'S COURT, LAURA.

Tuesday, January 4.



(Before I.J. Cook, JP, and W. Wilson. JP.
A nice fellow servant - Laurence Axon, bootman, at the Laura Hotel, was brought up in custody of Water Policeman, Gallanto, charged with having stolen a gold pin, the property of Ernest Collins, barman, at the same hotel. 


Mister Collins identified the pin produced;  had missed it for some time but did not say anything about it. Saw it at Gladstone last Sunday with Charles Ross. By the Court, He had not given it to anyone or authorized anyone to remove it. 
 


Charles Ross, fisherman, Gladatone, had known prisoner a long time. Bought the pin produced from him at Hussey's Hotel, Gladstone, on January 1st, for five shillings. 


Afterwards heard that it had been stolen and gave it up to the owner, Ernest Collins, last

Sunday. 


J. Gallanto, Water Police, stationed at Port Pirie, from information received arrested 

the prisoner at the Central Hotel, Port Pirie. Told him the charge and cautioned him in the

usual manner. He said "I don't care a  fi_-—Tn if I get 21 years," and afterwards said " If you found a pin in your room would you not keep it " 
  


Photo: Flora Ross Swincer, who was said to be the 'spitting image' of her grandfather, Charlie Ross, for whom we have no photograph.

It is also a reminder of how much we assume from our perspective of today. I had assumed, when I found that Charlie's business was listed with the Gladstone Council that he would have had a shop, but of course not, nothing so grand for someone of his social standing and even for the times.

Charlie would have taken the train to Port Pirie to buy his fish and carried it back, packed in ice, to hawk around Gladstone. One guesses, that even with ice available, as it must have been to make it possible to transport fish from so far and then sell it around the town, that Charlie probably had to make a couple of trips a week to Pirie to ensure the freshness of his fish.

Hawker's plied their various trades around towns, cities and country areas, and as has become clear, until ill health made it necessary for him to have a horse and cart, Charlie Ross, local fishmonger, pulled his own small cart around Gladstone, selling his fish. And no doubt this is how he met Mary Atkins and a relationship was made possible.

In many ways, they were both on the edge of the social strata, she as an unmarried mother of an illegitimate son, and he as a foreigner, and no doubt that played a part in their coming together, since options for marriage would have been limited, no matter how popular the Greek fishmonger might have been around town.

His accent, my aunt told me, was said to have been very heavy and no doubt it was more so then, before he married and set up home with Mary and had children. But, if he was popular around town and well-liked, as we can see he was, he must have had an engaging personality and Mary, feisty as she also appears to be, would not, I believe, have married him without liking him.

Each may have had reduced options in the marriage market, but finding each other was the foundation of my father's family. And none of it would have happened, without fish!

Perhaps more telling, was that four years before his death, a fund was set up to raise money to buy him a horse because his health had failed and he could no longer walk, pulling his cart, to sell his fish. Given that his death notice cited heart disease and asthma, it is pretty clear that he had failing health for quite some time, but, with the help of his fellow-citizens, continued to work as a fish hawker.

From The Areas Express:

 
The Ross Fund.

Subscriptions- are hereby invited for tihe

purpose of assisting Mr. Charlie Ross of

this town. Owing to. a recent severe ill

ness and general infirmity Mr. Ross finds ;

it impossible to carry on his business as

fish hawker, successfully, on foot. He

has. a cart and: harness and requires a horse

to complete the outfit and give him

another start. The smallest donation, will



be acceptable.

And:

Mr Charlie Ross, of this town requires a horse, and is not in a position to buy one. The charitably disposed are appealed to elsewhere, and subscriptions may be sent to Mr H Cox, or this office. He who gives quickly gives twice.

July 10, 1903.

Owing to the efforts of Mr Cox, of this town he sum of five pounds has been collected for the purpose of buying a horse for Mr Charlie Ross to enable him to enable him to carry on his business as a fish hawker. Mr Cox succeeded in getting a suitable animal for four pounds and the balance has been expended in chaff.

Mr Eley has kindly consented to put on the first set of shoes, free of charge so that the unfortunate Charlie will have a fair start. Mr Ross desires us to tender his sincere thanks to all who subscribed. 

Henry Cox was married to Mary's sister, Elizabeth, and so Charlie's brother-in-law, which means helping him out is not surprising. However, it was the genera goodwill in Gladstone which made the fundraising successful.

In the same year, Charlie, perhaps unwell and feeling grumpy, put in a notice regarding animals straying onto his property.

GLADSTONE:

Notice is hereby given that all dogs, pigs and poultry found trespassing on Allotment No. 39, (East Ward), town of Gladstone,  will be destroyed and all horses, sheep and cattle impounded.

CHARLES ROSS.


Photo: Marriage certificate for Charlie Ross and Mary Atkins.

 
I had been hoping there would be a 'people piece' hidden somewhere, given that the paper began publishing more personal articles from 1902, and Charlie's obituary seemed to indicate that people would have greater knowledge and so details were omitted, but I am beginning to think that the reason why people had greater knowledge was because it was a small town and he was well known and people knew him and talked to him and knew about his life and that is why the obituary did not go into detail.

However, who can say what treasures might unfold as the Areas Express goes up online?

The Areas Express newspaper served the small towns and farming communities around Gladstone for over 70 years. It took a strong politically conservative stance, and included articles about a wide range of agricultural topics. The Express was a weekly through most of its existence, but was published twice-weekly from February 1878 to July 1886.
Booyoolie (later incorporated in the town of Gladstone) was specifically selected as the newspaper's base for its central position in the 'Areas' - newly opened agricultural lands in the mid-north of the state. Unlike most country newspapers of the time, the Express did not regularly print 'country correspondents' reports from nearby towns and districts until much later in its history. However, it did intermittently print news from a large number of towns and settlements. Most often covered (particularly in its early years) were Georgetown, Crystal Brook, Caltowie and Balaklava. News from Redhill and Port Germein was also regularly reported.

We know Charlie was in Gladstone by at least 1885 or 1886 because his obituary say he had spent 'more than twenty years' in the town and he married Mary Atkins in 1888. He died in 1907, at the age of 59, and so the focus of interest for him is the twenty or so years prior. Mary died at the age of 76 in 1937, so she had 30 years alone, before joining him in Gladstone Cemetery.

He is mentioned in a court report for 1889, when he and two others were charged with being the owners of unregistered dogs. His fine was substantial, some five shillings, probably a quarter of his weekly earnings,  so one presumes he was making a reasonable living selling fish although in 1889 he had just been married a year and was not supporting children.

Saturday, July 27, 1889.

Before Messrs B.J. Knight and E. Coe, J.P's.

Henry Cralib, Henry Gaunt and Charles Ross were charged with being the owners of six unregistered dogs. The two former cases were dismissed and Ross who pleaded guilty was fined 5s.

 
He gets another mention in 1891 for 'not having lights on a vehicle' so one presumes it was his cart, which he pulled, when hawking fish.

Gladstone Police Court. Wednesday, May 6, 1891.
(Before Messrs. L. McDougall and A.O. Catt, JP.

Charles Ross for a breach of the Lights on Vehicles Act was fined 1s and costs 11 shillings in all.

His wife, Mary, also makes the papers in a court report for 1898 for smacking a neighbour's child.

The evidence went to show that defendant 'smacked the bottom' of the said boy and a fine was inflicted.

We have seen quite a few indications that Mary Atkins Ross was, despite her petite stature, a  no-nonsense kind of person.



Photo: Ellen Street, Port Pirie's main street, where Charlie Ross would have gone to buy fish.

Like the newspapers in neighbouring districts during the 1870s and 1880s, the Express argued long and hard for the extension of the railway network to the districts it served. In 1877 a two page supplement was printed to cover a lively meeting about the subject held at Laura (14 July 1877). A second strongly held belief reflected views on making land purchase easier for intending farmers: '... in new countries railway construction should be carried out precedent to, or in company with, liberalized land laws ... ' (21 July 1877, p. 2). The newspaper suggested that Parliament needed to consult directly with the country people. 'It is rather amusing that while the House of Assembly, the press and the public are floundering about in the depths of the land question ... the only persons who could speak with authority on the debated points - the farmers themselves - are quietly ignored' (15 July 1882, p. 2).

From the start, the Areas Express had an outspoken editorial policy regarding political matters. The 19th century editors of the newspaper were keen analysts of contemporary politics. 'In the midst of the political stagnation which prevails, the Gumeracha election comes as a relief' (17 April 1880, p. 2). From 1905 there was a strong pre-occupation with the 'evils' of socialism. The Express fully supported the formation and activities of the Liberal Union - a conservative political organisation for women. Elections - local, state and federal - tended to be well covered, with profiles of the candidates and discussion of the platforms.

The Express did not focus as strongly on sport as did many country newspapers. The cricket teams of Gladstone are chronicled from 1878 and the local football club from 1880. In 1879 the newspaper reported on the first Great Northern Racing Club meeting in its 'Turf gossip' column (26 March 1879 p. 2). In 1882 the Express was outraged by a humorous article in Adelaide Punch suggesting there was not enough accommodation for visitors to the races, and that the 'palatial' Gladstone gaol could be used. The Express seemed to think the suggestion was a serious one (19 April 1882, p. 2). For a time from the mid-1880s regular sporting columns appeared. The bicycle craze reached Gladstone in 1898, leading to the formation of the Great Northern Bicycle Club (4 November 1898, p. 2).

While the information is not yet online there are indications that some of the Ross children are mentioned in the sports pages.

From 1902 the newspaper, like most country newspapers, began publishing more social and biographical articles. Detailed obituaries, descriptions of weddings and biographical sketches were printed. From 1924 to early 1925 a series of articles about old residents, titled '80 years or over', gave detailed information about the lives of ten elderly local men.

If only Charlie Ross had lived long enough to be included.

 The pages of the Express strongly reflected the agricultural nature of the community that it served. Beginning with reports of the Belalie Agricultural Society Show and the local harvest (8 October 1881, p. 2), the newspaper reflected the advances brought by mechanisation and the application of scientific principles. There were advertisements for tractors to replace horses and discussions on the use of super-phosphates and subterranean clover and a variety of other issues. The meetings of the Gladstone branch of the South Australian Farmers' Mutual Association were reported regularly throughout the life of the newspaper. In the Express's early years a column titled 'The Farmer' was published.

Photographs first appeared in the Areas Express in 1910. This included photographs of floods at Gladstone in that year which caused the deaths of two men (9 September 1910, p. 2). In September and October 1924, when the Gladstone Football team were the local premiers, front page photographs of the team and an historical photograph of the 1885 premiership team appeared. For a time in the mid-1920s many photographs were printed in the newspaper, mostly of individuals. During the Second World War these gave way to syndicated war photographs.

The newspaper was established by JSJ Pengelley and WJ Trembath. From October 1878 the proprietors were brothers David and Andrew Taylor and their brother-in-law David Bews of the Wallaroo Times. David Bews withdrew from the company at the end of 1880 and in December 1882 the newspaper passed to Gordon Kearney. In July 1887 Charles D Southcombe became publisher and printer and in April 1888 William Hancock took over the newspaper. From 1910 he entered into partnership with Sam Osborne of the Port Pirie advertiser and Woroora producer. In 1928 Hancock sold to Lester Judell. In August 1945 Judell retired to the city and his three newspapers, the Express, the Jamestown Agriculturist and Review, and the Laura Standard, were then run by managers in the three towns. In 1948 Judell amalgamated the three newspapers into the new Northern Review at Jamestown.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Tailors, tidbits and the times for the Mashford's in Devon.


Image: Marriage of John Mashford and Mary Cann, Coldridge.
Elizabeth Mashford's father was a tailor and so her life should have had a modicum of comfort, unless of course she was a 'poor relation' taken in and more of a Cinderella than a daughter of the house.

Although that remains conjecture, but we still have no answer as to why she appeared to be less literate than her siblings when the family was far from being the poorest of the poor.

A UK researcher , Peter Selley, came up with  a bit more information, including the following tidbits referring to John Mashford's apple tree,  and his 'seat' in the Church. He also said, tailors were often highly valued members in a village and taking it further, one can assume,  given their profession, involved across the social spectrum if their skills were good.

He wrote:

Here is another bit of info from a memorandum which I noted in the Coldridge Church Register which I copied out a couple of months back but it may be relevant.
 

Memorandum

The second seat under the gallery on the north side of this church for women next to the seat that belongs to Frost (?) belongs to John Mashford for the house adjoining the pound in the town. Being at his own expense for making it by the liberty of the minister and church wardens May the 10th 1817.

“Frost” is probably correct being a farm in Coldridge and I think that having a pew in those days was a perk of land owners who paid  tythes to the parish.

Just before I hit the send button i thought I ought to check out the apprentice registers on Ancestry and there is this entry:
 
Sept 18 1757 John Mashford of Coleridge sergemaker – Fran(ci)s Canne   (Coleridge transcribed as Cotheridge). Francis Canne being his apprentice.
NB: This brings in the connection for Elizabeth's mother, Mary Cann Mashford. 


Image: Elizabeth Mashford, baptism, Coldridge.
I would imagine that this would be JM the tailor’s grandfather. That this chap had an apprentice shows some social standing.


This may interest you – some of the glass is early 16th century

 http://www.cvma.ac.uk/jsp/location.do?locationKey=353&mode=COUNTY&sortField=COUNTY&sortDirection=DESC&rowsPerPage=20

 

A Remarkable Fact”

“On an apple tree belonging to Mr John Mashford Coldridge might be seen last week ripe fruit and full blow blossom”

The Western Times (Exeter, England), Saturday, October 11, 1834; pg. 3; Issue 354. British Newspapers, Part III: 1780-1950.

 

I found the following on another website regarding the 'life of a tailor, in Devon, at the same time John Mashford was plying his trade.

 

By 1881, William Hornsey Gamlen was a substantial figure in Devon. He was a Magistrate who had passed a lifetime as a farmer in Devon.

 

He was a member of the Devonshire Association and in 1880, gave an address to the members describing life on a mid-Devon farm in the 1820s . His style of writing is simple and direct and his listeners must have known that they were sharing the personal experiences of his youth as he took them back to the time when he was a teenager:

 

"The farm boys usually wore a fustian* jacket and waistcoat, leather breeches and shoes; boots were never worn; pieces of bag were tied round the ankles as a sort of gaiter and called "kitty bats" to keep the earth out of the shoes. These shoes, made of hide leather, were washed every Saturday night, and well-greased after being dried, and in time became almost as stiff and hard as wood.

 

The village tailor used to go to the farmhouses, and make and mend the boys' clothes with materials kept for the purpose, and received eight pence and sometimes a shilling a day and his food for doing this. He sat on the kitchen table at his work, and kept the mistress employed in supplying his requirements of more cloth, thread, buttons etc. till her patience was well worn. On one occasion, in hot weather, an apprentice girl whispered "Missus, missus, the tailor is asleep!" and received for answer: "Hush! for patience' sake don't wake him; I've had plague enough with him already."

In some places, the shoemaker too went to the houses and mended what required repair from a stock of leather kept for him."

In earlier time, tailors visited their clients in their own homes so the terrible conditions under which the actual work was carried out were seldom revealed. In this picture, we see an entire family huddled as close to the window as they can get, struggling to complete military uniforms for delivery in less than 24 hours.

 

Ready-made clothing is so easy to obtain today that we have forgotten how our ancestors coped with the problem of obtaining decent clothing. Old wills frequently show bequests of clothing.  

Until the end of the 19th century, working women would have made their own garments or, for special occasions, enlisted the help of the village dressmaker who also made stays and bonnets. Fabric was used and re-used and skilfully repaired if damaged, before being cut down to make children's clothing. Even so, women did visit men's tailors because they provided an essential service - they had the facility to bleach out colour and to dye garments black - absolutely essential following a death in the family.

Men's shirts were made at home. These were long garments, the back tails being drawn up between the legs as an alternative to modern underpants during the day. At night, the front and back tails were let down and the same garment was used as a night shirt. The village tailor provided suits for weddings (which a man would continue to use on Sundays for years after), working trousers and waistcoats. Stockings for all the family were knitted at home and boots, shoes or clogs came from the village shoemaker.

The 1851 census gives a figure of 599 for the population of the village of Atherington and its environs. No less than 5 tailors served the needs of this comparatively small population - Robert Gibbs, George Loosemore and Richard Slee all had tailoring businesses of their own, providing competition for George Stedeford, who in the absence of a son of his own, took his grandson Thomas Beer into partnership in his declining years. Two dressmakers - Mary Ann Govier and Sally Loosemore were on hand to cut down adult clothing for children or to provide finery or mourning clothes for the women of the village.

 
http://www.devonheritage.org/stentiford/Issue_29/Article1/4May1art3.htm

Below, birth/baptism records for Elizabeth's siblings.