Friday, 19 May 2017

Picking it all Up Again - The Sutherlands in Sydney

It has been many many years since I last blogged about my ancestors.  But I have not stopped adding to my family tree and now I have a bit more time on my hands - children left home, retired, etc etc, I can devote a lot more time to the project.

I spent this afternoon idly Googling my 2xGGrandfather  Robert Sutherland, Merchant, NSW and came across the following entries in Trove, the digitised newspaper collection from the National Library of Australia

The most relevant entries included:

some notices re bankruptcy:

15 May 1894  in the NSW Government Gazette
[Notice under Section 11 of the Bankruptcy Act, 1887]
In the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
Re Robert Sutherland, trading as Sutherland, Son, & Co. of No. 5, King Street, Sydney, also of Raglan Street, Mossman's Bay, near Sydney, general importer and manufacturers agent.
30 August 1894 in The Australian Star
Bankruptcy Court:
In re Robert Sutherland, Manufacturers' Agent, Mosman's Bay.  Mr Giblin, the official assignee, expressed the opinion that this was the case of an honourable man seeking the protection of the court.  The certificate was ordered to issue.
[I don't think the bankruptcy affected Robert too adversely - The business seems to have still been operating in King Street in 1900 and the family home in Raglan Street was rather nice so the family were not destitute by any means]

and some family notices:
Died November 1884 at 80 Victoria Street of Typhoid - James aged 27 years
Married December 1884 at 80 Victoria Street, Annie Dillworth-Simpson to John Scott, son of John Scott of Bruntsfield Cescent, Edinburgh.
Married October 1885 Christina Middlemas Dickson, second daughter of Robert Sutherland to  Frank Weston Syer
 Sad to find the next entry
Died April 1886 Christina Middlemas Dickson Syer, aged 21 years
Died September 14 1887 at Lawson, Thomas Middlemas aged 29 Years - Son of Robert Sutherland

Just to put this in context....

Robert Sutherland was born in 1826 in Lybster, a village on the east coast of Caithness in Northern Scotland.   He was a sailmaker by trade, and went on to work as an agent for a roperie company and later a commission agent.  he spent some time in Dundee (possibly during his apprenticeship) then moved to Edinburgh where he married Christina Middlemas.  They had nine children:
James (1857-1884)
Thomas Middlemas (1859-1887)
Annie Dilworth Simpson(1862-)
Christina Middlemas Dickson (1865-1886)
Catherine (1867-)
William Morrison (1869-1915)*
Georgina Alexandrina McIntosh (1871-1927)
Robert (1877-)
Eliza (1879-)

The family left Scotland in 1883 on the ss Ben Cruachan and settled in Sydney, where Robert ran his general importing and manufacturers agent business, Sutherland, Son & Co.

* My Great Grandfather was William Morrison Sutherland.  He was a government clerk in Tonga, married to Naeomai Mahe, a high-born Tongan woman.

The above information is covered in more depth in previous posts.   I've managed to put together a fairly substantial family tree over the years and I'm currently pondering how to proceed...Bear with me... I'll think of something

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Welcome Back

I don't know what's happened to the time - over a year has past and although I've been doing a little bit of research - I've really just been tinkering and nothing substantial has come of it.

My NY Resolutions for 2009 are to:

Work on the family history in depth
Write up my blogs faithfully.

watch this space......

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Disappearing Acts

I've been thinking about James Sutherland (1857), whom I seem to lose in 1883 when the rest of the Sutherland family emigrated to Australia. I wonder whether he perhaps died on board ship. It's possible, as deaths did occur on the emigrant ships and I can't think of anything else that would have happened to him.

There is no record of him marrying
There is no death record
I can't find anything in any of the gazettes.

And now I can't find the record for Ben Cruachan, the ship they travelled on.

Hmm - a mystery

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Ned Kelly Connection

My father always used to make a joke about my mother's uncle having been shot through the letterbox by Ned Kelly at Glenrowan.

I think he was alluding to the uncle having been postmaster or something at Glenrowan during the Ned Kelly business.

I never thought too much about it until I came across a Robert GIBBONS on the list of hostages at Glenrowan. I found another couple of entries for Robert Gibbons - He married Margaret Liddle in Glenrowan in 1871 and their daughter, Ellen Gibbons was born on 31/1/1875 (died 9/2/1875) in Wangaratta - near Glenrowan. I still didn't think too much about it because Robert wasn't a name that came up on any of my family lists.

However... Because I have a couple of fairly tight deadlines, I've spent today doing family history research - ah! there's nothing like procrastination for wasting time!. Anyway, I came across an old post on the Rootsweb board. The message asked for information about Robert Gibbons who was born in Buckinghamshire in about 1846 and died in Australia in 1914. Apparently Robert's father was John Thomas Gibbons and his mother was Eliza Susan something. The message then went on to say that John Thomas Gibbons had been married twice - the other time to Emma Hatche(?) and that Robert and his Step sister Ellen were buried in the same plot.

My 3xg grandmother - Catherine Gibbons - was the daughter of John Thomas Gibbons and Emma Hatch. Their children were:
John 1832 - died in infancy
John Thomas 1835-1897
Emma 1836-
Mary Ann 1836-1895
Ellen 1839 -1909
Catherine 1846-1930
Julindar 1850-died in infancy

Robert Gibbons, is therefore something of a mystery. The 1841 census shows John Thomas(1811), grocer, and Emma (1811), along with John Thomas(1835), Mary (1836) and Ellen(1839) living at High Street, Eton. Catherine is born in 1846 in Oxfordshire, Julindar is born in 1850 in Australia. Robert Gibbons was supposedly born in Buckinghamshire in 1843, so the dates just don't stack up. My guess is that the Ellen referred to in the Rootsweb post is actually the infant daughter, but I'd have to confirm that.

hmmm... watch this space.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Cousins for Africa

I was put onto another Genealogy website and it is fantastic. I had to pay $20 for a six month registration but it allowed me to upload the family tree I've been
working on and then it threw up matches with other people's trees.

I've had difficulty finding Sutherlands so I've cast my net to include the entire extended whanau - including Allan's family.

The upshot is that I've found cousins! Cousin Beryl from Australia replied. Her and my mother are second cousins - they share a great-grandmother - Catherine Gibbons was born in Oxfordshire, England and married Charles Edward Edwards, a gold miner, in Australia in 1868. He had found a huge gold nugget and married her that year.

Cousin Nick from England replied - we share a great-great-great-grandfather.

Allan's Cousin Christopher also replied - his father is Allan's great grandfather's brother

They're fairly distant as far as relations go, but it does mean that I have other sources of information about all these lines.

Needless to say, it might be a little early to start planning family reunions.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Where to now?

I seem to have hit a brick wall with regards to William Morrison SUTHERLAND and I don't know where to go now without physically travelling to Sydney and tracking down Robert and Christina's grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Outside the WPHC files, without going to Tonga (hmm, there's a thought...) information about Tongan govt servants seems to be sketchy.

My father tells me that Neomai MAHE was a lady in waiting to Queen Salote and on the Queen's visit to New Zealand, Neomai accompanied her. That's one thing I can look up.

I've done all the Sutherland sisters and brothers - There doesn't seem to be a lot about William Morrison's brother Robert apart from the information on his passport application -

BUT James, the eldest brother, is still elusive. He didn't go to Australia with his family, yet he doesn't seem to have remained in Scotland. There is no record of his death in Scotland. Perhaps he went to Canada or the United States. I think that might be the next thing to search for.

The other thing to do - and this might just require a trip to sydney - is to find out about Robert SUTHERLAND's business. this space

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


I've taken a bit of time to get back to the blog. I've spent some of that time going through the Archives of the Western Pacific High Commission at Auckland University Library.

The collection contains 600 linear metres of documents covering the period 1877-1978.

The WPHC was originally established to control the activities of the European traders and settlers, in particular the more unruly and illegal activities relating to labour, but over time its grew to include general administrative functions in the New Hebrides, Gilbert Is and Solomon Is covering health, taxation, communications, land policy and public works.

Solomon Is records from the WPHC were sent to Honiara, and Gilbert and Ellice Is material to Kiribati and Tuvalu, the remainder - the records of the Western Pacific High Commission, the British Commissioner and Consul to Tonga, and the New Hebrides British Service- were sent to Auckland University.

I knew William Morrison SUTHERLAND was a Tongan government servant, so I was particularly interested in Registers of Service and Personal files, as well as appointments of officials. I looked through quite a few other files and was about to give up before I found Case files Probate Jurisdiction. William Morrison SUTHERLAND's file was the first I came across.

Probate Jurisdictions are interesting documents in that they can tell a lot about the personal affairs of the deceased .

William must have died while he was away from home, because the Probate lists his home as Nukulofa, but he died at Haabai. Financially he was comfortably off. His estate passed to Neomai and contained:

Leasehold land and buildings situated at Nukulofa and Leased from His Majesty the King of Tonga under Lease registered No. 284. value 270 pounds
American Phaeton, Horse and Harness 25 pounds
Piano 20 pounds
Double bedstead and fittings 8 pounds
2 single beds and fittings 8 pounds
Iron cash safe 5 pounds
10 assorted tables 3 pounds 15 sh
2 chests of drawers 3 pounds
3 planters lounge chairs 3 pounds
3 stretcher beds 1.10
2 clocks 1.15
6 austrian bentwood chairs 1.10
1 rocker 1.5
kitchen utensils 15 pounds
Cash 9.7
Salary due from Tongan Govt 6.0
a total value of 382.2.0

I wonder what he was doing in Haabai. He seems to have been with Frank Wall, a trader, who is also a joint executor of his will - and is listed as witness to his burial.

When I started this, I had this romantic notion that my great grandfather had perhaps jumped ship and was making his was as an island trader, travelling around, buying and selling goods. The truth is, I'm afraid, a little more prosaic. But it's quite nice, really, to think of this scottish gentleman living quite comfortably in the pacific with his Tongan wife and six children.

It's also a little sad to think that he died so suddenly at such a young age - 46 - And away from home.