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Many thanks both Geoff and Bruce for your tips about the McLeans. Surely together we’ll even pin down Eliza Boak or Bolk eventually! Meanwhile I’m doing some more circling around her by finding out all I can about her eldest step-son James McLean.

Our James McLean was certainly the son of Edward McLean and Mary Jane Gordon. He arrived from Ireland on the Sarah Botsford with his parents Feb 15th 1842 aged one year. Was he the James McLean of Penrith who married Mary Ann Willcock (or Wilcox) 9 Feb 1867, then moved to Bathurst where he was a Saddler, father of four surviving children and died in 1916? I think so, although a few things make it very difficult to tell for sure.

Death of James MacLean, Saddler of Bathurst, New South Wales aged 76, 3 Jan 1916

Death of James MacLean, Saddler of Bathurst, New South Wales aged 76, 3 Jan 1916

Firstly, this death certificate is for James MacLean, not James McLean. I think we can ignore that though, as all of the children listed here were born McLeans according to the BDM records, including the informant, Hector E. L. MacLean. His father is Edward, though Hector didn’t know the name of his own grandmother – sadly not that unusual. He was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery at Bathurst, and we know that our McLeans were Presbyterians. He was married in Penrith aged 27 years to Mary Ann Wilcox. Their 1867 marriage certificate spells her surname Willcock, but she signs her name there with an X, so probably wasn’t too fussed about the spelling. He arrived in New South Wales aged 2, whereas our James McLean was only 1 year old upon arrival. The biggest problem is that the death certificate says he was born in Glasgow! On the other hand this news article says he’s from the north of Ireland. [Thanks Geoff for finding this!]

Death of James MacLean, Saddler, of Bathurst, Jan 1916

Death of James MacLean, Saddler, of Bathurst, From National Advocate, Bathurst 4 Jan 1916 via TROVE

It’s certainly the same James MacLean as in the death certificate. As well as him being a Saddler of Bathurst, the news report comes just the day after the actual death and there are the same sons and daughters. Can we assume that the informant for the news item just had different place of birth information to the son who registered the death? If so, 2 years old on arrival is very close to our James who arrived aged 1, and we know that both the parents of our James were from the north of Ireland.  In 1853 when James’ father died the family were in Balmain. In 1869 when next heard of, James’ elder sister Margaret, his step-mother Eliza and half-sister Jane were living at Regentville House, Penrith. It seems likely that James would be near his family before his marriage in Penrith in 1867. Maybe it’s also worth noting that Margaret Sheils, James older sister, moved to Bathurst in 1873 after the apparent loss of her husband.

Another James McLean was a suicide at Bondi in 1896. He’d have been the right age, but wrote a highly literate farewell note and was a Tutor! I don’t think our relation, whose mother was illiterate, would have been so erudite. What a relief. I think ours is almost certainly the Saddler, and have put him in my family tree!. What do you think?

I’m sure now that Mary Jane McLean (and probably her mother nee Eliza Boak) lived at Woodford House in 1869 with Janey’s elder half-sister Margaret Shiels and her husband John Shiels. I don’t think they owned it but managed the house for the owner. This is also where William Mark Forster married Mary Jane in 1869. You need to imagine the shingle roof though apparently the building hasn’t changed much otherwise.

Woodford House (now Woodford Academy) Built in the 1830s in the Blue Mountains of new South Wales, owned by John and Margaret Shiels in 1869 and where William Mark Forster married Mary Jane McLean the same year

Woodford House (now Woodford Academy) Built in the 1830s in the Blue Mountains of new South Wales, managed by John and Margaret Shiels in 1869 and where William Mark Forster married Mary Jane McLean the same year

Here’s my reasoning: Towards the end of the inquest report into the fire at Shiels’ house at Regentville near Penrith we read “Thomas Ellison, sworn: I am a licenced publican of Seventeen-mile Hollow, Bathurst Road. I know John Shiels; he lives at Bass’s (Woodford), about three miles from me”. I could find nothing about a Bass’s, but lots about Buss’s at Twenty-mile Hollow on the Bathurst Road. Here’s a quote about the history of Woodford House

“In 1855 Hogan sold the property to William Buss of Cowra, who was an ex-convict transported for life on the ‘Phoenix’ in 1828 for horse stealing. Buss was granted a ticket of leave in 1836, and a conditional pardon in 1843. The inn became known as “The King’s Arms”. Buss was a colourful and popular publican, and the inn was also known as “Buss’s Inn”. The Gold Rush brought an increase in traffic travelling west to the Turon and Bathurst gold fields. The King’s Arms was one of a series of wayside inns providing accomodation and refreshments far travellers. Buss retained the property until his death in 1867. He bequeathed all his properly to his wife Bridget. In August 1868 Bridget Buss sold the property to Alfred Fairfax. Fairfax renamed the building “Woodford House” and lived there intermittently. The main use during the late 1800’s was as a mountain retreat or fashionable boarding house.”

Between January 1869 and 23 Oct 1869 the following advertisement repeatedly appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Advertisement for Woodford (late Buss's), Blue Mountains: from Sydney Morning Herald 6 Oct 1869

Advertisement for Woodford (late Buss’s), Blue Mountains by J. Sheils: from Sydney Morning Herald 6 Oct 1869

There was little else at Woodford in the 1860s in any case. Even the new railway station wasn’t called “Woodford” until 1871.

A footnote to this is the disappearance after Oct 1869 of not only Eliza McLean but also John Sheils. His wife Margaret is evidently managing properties in Bathurst without him by 1873. Does anybody know where he went?

CHANGE of AIR, BATHURST - Mrs. Sheils (late of Regentville and Woodford) has opened a place for the above...Smith's Cottage, Russell St., Bathurst. from Sydney Morning Herald 24 May 1873

CHANGE of AIR, BATHURST – Mrs. Sheils (late of Regentville and Woodford) has opened a place for the above…Smith’s Cottage, Russell St., Bathurst. from Sydney Morning Herald 24 May 1873

What do you think? I was going to post about James McLean, but this is already too long.
Thanks so much to a couple of you who got back with comments regarding my previous post. It encourages me to peg on!

I’ve been writing up more details about the early Forsters of the Coquet River valley in Northumberland (in the chapter on “The Forsters of Rothbury” – see link in right hand column), and think I’ll draw a map to make their movements around the valley in the 18th century a bit clearer. I’m also about to add a few paragraphs about the McLeans, and have just spent a couple of days trying to find out more about the mother of Mary Jane Forster. We do actually know a bit more than we did, thanks to Bruce and the wonderful TROVE. She was living with her eldest step-daughter Margaret (who had married John Shiels in 1856) at Regentville House near Penrith in 1869 when it burned down. There is a lot of detail in the Inquest report, including “Eliza McLean, sworn, states: I am Mrs. Shiel’s mother…” and “John Sheils, sworn, states: I principally reside at Regentville. I go up into the mountains occasionally as I have had a house at Eighteen Mile Hollow at Woodford which I keep as an accommodation house for the public. My Sister-in-law Jane McLean was up when I returned [to Woodford]”.

We know a few things about Eliza from this. Firstly she was obviously still alive and fit in 1869. Secondly, when her husband died in 1853 leaving her with four step children as well as her own 3 year old daughter Mary Jane, Margaret the eldest was only 14. Sixteen years later Eliza and Janey are living with Margaret, very much part of the family.

I concentrated on trying to find her death details rather than where she came from as we’re not even sure of her surname from the two documents we have – her marriage certificate where she is “Eliza Bolk” and signed her name X so was presumably illiterate, and the birth certificate of her only child Mary Jane McLean, where she is Eliza Boak. The death certificate should tell us where she came from. Except I still can’t find it!! This isn’t 19th century Ireland where many records have been lost. In late 19th century Australia when anybody died the death was registered! We’re probably not talking about a homeless person where identity might have been a problem but somebody with a family. I can’t find an Eliza (or Elizabeth) McLean who died in the Blue Mountains or Bathurst where her step-daughter Margaret is known to have lived. Her stepson Robert lived in Ashfield.   She died at 29, and was born in Middlesex, the daughter of a Joseph Millard McLean, bricklayer, and Louisa Stevens.

Trawling through TROVE hasn’t helped either. Should I send away for more certificates? There are a couple of possibilities. Could she possibly have remarried after 1869? You’d think if she was going to she would have already! Could she have gone to Melbourne to be near Mary Jane? If so there’d most likely have been a death notice and I can’t find one. Any suggestions?

On another note, does anybody know what happened to James McLean the 2nd son of Edward McLean and Mary Jane Gordon and who came from Ireland with them?

Update 14 Jan 2016: The James McLean mystery is now solved at least- see later posts.

Update 18 Jan 2016: To save others wasting time and money, and in case it’s useful to other families, here are some details from each fruitlessly purchased death certificate for Eliza McLean.

  1. Eliza Jane McLean died in Ashfield in 1900 in a private hospital aged 29. She was born in Middlesex, England to Joseph Millard, Brickmaker, and  Louisa Stevens. She was married  in Leichardt aged 24 to Donald Allan McLean and had a 4 year old daughter, Louisa.
  2. Eliza McLean died at Emu Plains in 1922 aged 80. She was born at Williams River NSW to Samuel Gibson, a Farmer, and  Mary Ann Russel. She married Donald Hugh McLean in Manning River in about 1900 and had 8 children.
  3. Eliza Heath McLean died in Woollahra aged 80. She was born in Hobart, Tasmania to John Heath, Lawyer, and Mary (surname unknown). She was married in Hobart to Robert Anthony McLean and had 9 children still surviving and 4 dead.
  4. Eliza Grace McLean of Emu Plains died in Lewisham Hospital (death registered in Petersham) in 1901 aged 4 years. She was born in Liverpool NSW, the daughter of Samuel Mclean, Constable and Colina Burges.

 

 

“Enniscrone” 12 Trafalgar Street, Mont Albert. Home of Archie and Connie Beatty and family. Front and drive 1932

After wading through hundreds of (mostly unlabelled) photos, several years of Peg’s diary and various letters and other stuff, I’ve added two new chapters of our family story: see the links to them in the right hand column. Chap 11 deals with the family from 1930-1935 and includes the move to “Enniscrone”, Mont Albert. Peg’s diary records many visits to and from other branches of the Beatty and Forster family, and I’ve mentioned many of these. The Littleton family, particularly Ruth, Geoff and Gwen occur in many of the photos.  Chap 12 is mainly about Harold and his friends and their camp at Rye Back Beach on the Mornington Peninsula, which they called McBeatsome Town.

I have to say it’s a lot easier and more rewarding writing about this very well-documented end of the family story. It’ll probably take another visit to Ireland to tease out more about the early 19th century Beattys with no guarantee even then.

We know a lot about James Beatty, Draper, of Ballina, born Co. Fermanagh c1842, who came to Melbourne with his young family in 1878, but his father James Beatty the farmer/swimmer continues annoyingly elusive. Clutching at straws, I decided to investigate the Archibald Beatty, merchant, “Late of Lisnaskea” who appeared on the record in Ballina in 1861, about the same time as James is first mentioned there. With that name, and also from Fermanagh could he be a relation? It wasn’t hard to find out a lot about Archibald, mainly because he tended to put notices in newspapers, including his marriage to Eudora Tucker (though they misspelled her name)

Archibald Beatty, merchant of Lisnaskea. Marriage 17 June 1858

Archibald Beatty, merchant of Lisnaskea. Marriage 17 June 1858

Another thing that made him easy to track was his move to Liverpool in 1874 after about 15 years as a “well to do merchant” in Ballina. He and Eudora and their son Edward John (born in Lisnaskea c1859 and obviously named after his maternal grandfather) appear in the 1881 and 1891 census in Liverpool, though I don’t know what happened to the daughter whose birth was announced in Ballina in 1861. Archibald and Eudora evidently both returned to Fermanagh from Liverpool in the 1890s as they both died there, he aged 61 in 1897. Archibald left his estate to his son also a merchant. Here’s his will:

Archibald Beatty death, 1897 from Index of Wills

Archibald Beatty death, 1897 from Index of Wills

Archibald was about 6 years older than draper James, and his father was also a James Beatty. Could they be brothers? I even lashed out $40 to get Archibald’s marriage details as that would give the profession of his father. Now you’d think that someone who was a “merchant” by age 22 was probably the son of a merchant right? Well no. His father James Beatty was a farmer! Another coincidence?
A few months after Archibald died, his bacon factory in Enniskillen (near Lisnaskea) was broken into:

Archibald's nephew is a Joseph Beatty - Belfast Newsletter 9 July 1897

Archibald’s nephew is a Joseph Beatty – Belfast Newsletter 9 July 1897

According to this news article he had a nephew Joseph Beatty. Joseph is another name that has occurred in our family – Alfred Joseph was the youngest son of James the draper. I think this is too many coincidences. I’m going to track down Joseph now, in case he eventually leads back to the mysterious farmer James.

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Kinard at Landed estates Court from Belfast News-Letter, 27 June 1874

Oh Dear! No wonder the Pagets and Beattys emigrated in 1878. I have found James Paget’s will. He made our gg grandmother Hannah Dempsey (note use of her maiden name) the sole executor. Subsequently she sold all his remaining land in Ireland at the Landed Estates Court in 1874 to one of James’s second cousins John Paget Bourke for £6,225. Hannah continued living at Kinard Lodge with the children until they emigrated 3 years later. It’s pretty clear now that James and Hannah were not technically married.

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From Freeman’s Journal – Dublin, 16 February 1877

Also, I had wondered why James Beatty didn’t set up as a Draper in Melbourne and instead worked in clerical or travelling salesman jobs. Well he evidently wasn’t such a great businessman since his Ballina drapery business went broke! This fire sale was just a couple of months before Archie’s birth. I wondered why Archie was born at Kinard Lodge and not in Arran street, Ballina like his siblings James and Emma.

Anyway, on the far side of the world nobody knew  (until now!) about illegitimate births or bankruptcies. Hannah was the widowed Mrs. Paget for the rest of her life and she and her eldest son James Paget both bought farms at Baddaginnie in Victoria while James Beatty and Marcella (nee Paget) were friends of the bishop in South Yarra, Victoria and all highly respectable.

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From Belfast News-Letter late July 1861

I did find out something that might be a good lead on the elusive Beatty ancestors though. At about the same time as our g grandfather James Beatty the draper (who was born somewhere in county Fermanagh) appeared on the record in Ballina, Mayo, an Archibald Beatty, merchant, appeared there too. Of course his name (Archibald) made me wonder if they were related even apart from their sudden appearance in Ballina at about the same time. The earliest mention of this Archibald in any source I’ve found so far was 1861 and he isn’t mentioned in connection with Ballina after 1871 and I don’t know where he went. [Update Apr 2015: He moved to Liverpool in 1874]. Anyway, look at this notice about the birth of his daughter in 1861. It would have been more useful if it had named either his wife or daughter, but it does have three VERY interesting words “late of Lisnaskea”. Where is Lisnaskea I wondered? Have you already guessed? It’s in County Fermanagh 🙂 The plot thickens!

Records are so sparse for nineteenth century Ireland that we may never know much about our Beatty ancestors before the emigration to Melbourne in 1878.

While awaiting the outcome of an upgrade from 37 to 67 markers on our DNA test which may or may not help find out more, I’ve been pondering the usefulness of the only surviving family anecdote about the first known James Beatty. HAP was told that his Great Grandfather James Beatty, father of the James Beatty who came to Australia, was a strong swimmer who “used to swim with Captain Webb”. HAP will have been told this by his father Archie because HAP himself was a strong swimmer and the school breaststroke champion. His proud father probably saw it as an hereditary trait. Sadly HAP was told (or remembered) nothing else about his Great Grandfather.  Archie has a credibility issue as he was the source of the (since debunked) rumour of our close relationship to Admiral Beatty. However I think the Captain Webb thing may have a grain of truth. Why would Archie have known otherwise that there was a west coast of Ireland connection to Captain Webb? At least one whole book (“The Crossing” by Kathy Watson) has been written about the famous Channel swimmer which doesn’t mention that he ever went to Ireland at all. David Elderwick in “Captain Webb : Channel swimmer” says “A trip to the Faroe Islands as Chief Officer of the ‘Ballina’ and a six-month spell as captain of the steamship ‘Emerald’ preceded Webb’s departure for new pastures … His employers were sorry to see him go. The rapid passages he had made between Liverpool and Ballina on the west coast of Ireland had boosted the company’s trade considerably.” Terry Reilly in “Ballina : a storied place…” says “Captain Matthew Webb became the first man to swim Killala Bay in 1874, from the Enniscrone (Sligo) side to the Kilcummin (Mayo) side. He boasted to fellow drinkers in McDonnells Pub on Bridge Street (now the Bolg Bui) that he would buy them all a drink after successfully completing his Channel challenge.” http://www.everytrail.com describing the “Yeats country drive” claims that “Captain Matthew Webb used the lake [Lough Gill] as part of his training for the feat [his Channel swim]. He was a friend of W.B. Yeats grandfather who lived in the area”. Lough Gill is close to Sligo town and it turns out that Yeats’ grandfather was William Pollexfen of Sligo town, one of the largest ship-owners in Sligo and the grateful employer of Captain Matthew Webb as mentioned above.

Anyway, for the lack of much other evidence I’m going to explore the possibility that our gg grandfather did know Captain Matthew Webb. It doesn’t matter whether he swam with him or was just a fellow drinker at the pub, this would mean that he was still alive in 1874 and lived a short buggy ride from either Lough Gill and Sligo town or (more likely) Ballina. Have a look at County Sligo in google maps to see what I mean. We know (from the marriage certificate of his son James who was born in county Fermanagh in 1842) that he was a farmer. By the dob of his (eldest?) son, he must have been in his 50s when he “swam with Captain Webb” who was much younger. HAP was a formidably strong swimmer into late middle age too though.

So James and his family evidently left county Fermanagh (in the 1840s or 1850s?) to farm near either Ballina or Sligo town. This probably isn’t surprising either as a lot of people moved around during and after the potato famine. HAP said the swim was “across Sligo Bay”, but, never having been to Ireland he may have meant Killala Bay. Whichever bay it was, that’s a smaller haystack to examine for our elusive ancestors. At the moment I think Ballina more likely. That’s where James’ son James set up his drapery business and his brother (or another son?) Archibald was a storekeeper/auctioneer in the 1870s. Also, Peg Beatty went to Enniscrone and Ballina in the 1950s expecting to find Beatty relations there. Surely this was because her father had lead her to believe they would be there?

What do you think? I think I feel another trip to Ireland coming on.