Friday, 1 December 2017

Jack Armitstead- First Aerial photograph of Warwick Queensland

First aerial photo of Warwick, Queensland 10th May 1920
 This photo was hanging in the Warwick State High School for many years. As with many places they decided to have a clean out and this was put out for rubbish. Fortunately one of the older members of staff realised what it was and gave it to the Warwick and District Historical Society Inc. They have a museum at 83 Dragon St Warwick. They have a public Facebook page at  where you can get more information about their opening hours. This photo is now on display in the Museum in Dragon St, Warwwick, Queensland

Why am I writing about this? My grandfather Jack Armitstead who owned a chemist shop in the town  took this photo. As well as being the chemist he was also an optician and had a photo developing business.
He wrote about his experience in the local paper. It was his first experience of flying so I am amazed he could take the photo and have it focussed while the plane was moving and probably bumping around.  See Aerial photography
From this piece in the Warwick Daily News on May 17 1920 he says that the above was the only photo to come out, successfully. Others he tried to take were blurred from the vibrations of the plane.
In loose leaf pages from his photograph albums there are the following photos of Warwick and these must have been taken another time but still in the early 1920's as the one looking south does not have the Roman Catholic Cathedral which was built in the mid 1920's.
Looking south along Palmerin St Warwick

The Post Office is the building on the left with the arches.
Possibly looking north in Palmerin St

Sunday, 8 October 2017

More of my mystery man George Laws's life filled in

For many years George Laws born 1826 in Surrey to John Laws & Hannah Murray remained a mystery man.  What had I found about him? He was born and he died. I needed to find out more about this elusive character.
He was baptised on September 28, 1831 at St George in the East in Middlesex England  along with  3 siblings ( Selina, Amelia and William). His father John was listed as a mariner. (1)  By 1841 Hannah was living in James Place Stepney with Selina, Amelia, George, William( my great great grandfather),  another daughter Hannah as well as Priscilla Heby aged 6 years. Hannah was a seamstress and the 2 older girls were servants.(2)
Then we have a gap in George's story as I couldn't find him in the 1851 or 1861 census but I did have a death certificate for 1872  (3) and that he was buried in Dalbonie Queensland and had a wife Maria Laws and one deceased female child and parents John Laws & Hannah Murray. I searched and searched for a marriage to Maria in London in 1850 that was recorded on his death certificate( and here too as we know not to trust everything on records as being true.) and immigration records for Australia seeing as the death certificate said he'd been in the colony for 19 years and nothing came to light.
However my friend Trove  did shed a little light on his life. He had  a publican's licence in 1871 at Hurley's Rush but wanted to change it to Native Bee Rush just 12 miles from Clermont, Queensland.(4) It looks like the publican's licence was the death of him as he died of alcoholic poisoning.
On Feb 23 in 1872 he paid 10 shillings for a miner's right (5)for the Peak Downs goldfields so perhaps he was going to look for gold there as he had had a miner's right for Clermont issued in 1871(6) as there had been a discovery in 1861. Perhaps he was unsuccessful in Clermont and wanted to try his luck at Peak Downs. He mustn't have found any as he died on March 25 1872 just one month after getting the licence.
The years rolled by and I was contacted by a distant cousin in California. He said "We haven't got much on Uncle George have we?" So we both looked again and still nothing to add.
Last Christmas my husband gave me an Ancestry DNA test. A few weeks ago I was checking the new matches and there was a potential 4th cousin who had a George John Laws as an ancestor who seemed to be born in the same year and in the same place as our George but he was listed in the 1851(7) census at 15 Alfred St Mile end Old Town London as having a wife Mary Ann and 2 children-Elizabeth and John George and he was working as a gas lighter. Next stop was to check the 1861 UK census. Mary Ann & 3 children now were listed-Elizabeth, Harold and George but no husband George John Laws (8). Couldn't find a death for him in England either. Did he sail away to Australia and have a different wife?
Again friend Trove gave me a hint. In 1868 George John Laws was named as executor of the will of John Russell (9)and then another entry later had George John Laws commonly known as George Laws (10) . It seemed like George John Laws had deserted his wife Mary Ann. Well  it was said she was his wife in 1851 but no marriage certificate has been found yet. Likewise his marriage to Maria Hopwood has not been found either.
Now I felt confident enough to make contact with the DNA match. She agreed with me but had a family story that had been handed down that told that George John had gone to Australia and never came back. Isn't it amazing that the family story just tied it all together.
It doesn't look like George married either woman and left Mary Ann to bring up the surviving 3 children and guess what?  I now have another branch to add to my Laws tree.

1. London Metropolitan Archives, St George in the East, Register of Baptism, p93/geo, Item 014 London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Viewed 30/8/2015
2. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1841. HO107: Piece: 714; Book: 1; Folio:38; Page:22.
3. Death certificate 66839  25 March 1872 Dalbonie Queensland held by me
4. Rockhampton Bulletin and Central Queensland Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1871)  Tue 27 Jun 1871  Page 4  Advertising
5. Queensland Government Gazette 1872 Miner's Rights and Business License George Laws
6. Queensland Government Gazette 1874  Miner's Right George Laws
7. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851. Class: HO107; Piece: 1553; Folio: 787; Page: 24; GSU roll: 174784-174785 
8. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1861.Class: RG 9; Piece:297; Folio: 48; Page: 42; GSU roll 542609 
9. SUPREME COURT. (1868, August 25). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 3. Retrieved October 7, 2017, from
10. Advertising (1868, July 29). Northern Argus (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1865 - 1874), p. 3. Retrieved October 7, 2017, from

Friday, 28 October 2016

Jack Armitstead's family

Now for more of the stories of my grandfather Jack Armitstead. After marrying in Liverpool, Lancashire in September 1910 he and his new wife Edith left Liverpool on December 25 1910 on the SS Medic of the White Line  bound for a new life in Australia.
Edith's brother, Louis Samuel Blackledge had already arrived in Brisbane Queensland Australia having left Liverpool on 25th February 1910 on the SS Essex. Perhaps he encouraged the family to come for a better life.  So when the Armitsteads accompanied by Edith's mother, brothers Herbert and Ernest and her sister Elsie arrived in Sydney on the 6th February 1911 they needed to get to Queensland to join Louis.
 The next record we have of the Armitsteads is when Dorothy Florence is born is Mackay, Queensland on  March 24 1911. Perhaps they travelled steerage to Mackay on a coastal service as I have not found a record of their travel to Mackay yet. At that time Mackay did not have a port so the ship would be offshore and passengers were transferred by sling onto the small craft to take them to land. Can you imagine a 7 month pregnant woman enjoying the sling?
Jack, Edith and daughter Dorothy Florence


Jack, Edith, Dorothy Florence, and baby Elsie Kathleen
Edith, Dorothy Florence and Rene Helen
After moving to Warwick  another daughter, Elsie was born on 20th May 1913. Unfortunately she contracted meningitis, gastroenteritis and asthma and died on November 27 1913. From all the official records she was Elsie but family had it that she was Kathleen. The only  record to have Kathleen included in the name was the burial record card on
In May 1914 Rene Helen arrived to make it a joyous time for the family.

By 1917 it was time for a holiday at Redcliffe.
Edith with Rene and Dorothy and her mother in the background at Redcliffe
Life was prosperous as seen by this lovely rocking horse that Dorothy and Rene were riding.
Dorothy & Rene

Then in October 1917
at last, a son, John Harley Leeson
( known as Harley)
was welcomed to the family. Doesn't he look like he's going to be a tough character? By the way he's holding the hammer he probably isn't going to be a carpenter.

The family enjoyed picnics at local creeks and this started a family tradition as we all like picnics even to this day.

Dorothy, Harley and Rene about 1920 on a picnic at Deuchars Creek

Rene, Harley and Dorothy at Deuchars Creek about 1920

Rene & Dorothy with family friends Allan and Ethel Durante at the Washpool

Rene, Dorothy, Aunt Elsie and Harley
Now tragedy struck Jack's family in November 1920
 when Edith died leaving Jack with 3 children under 10.
 Fortunately Edith's mother and sister Elsie came to
 Jack's rescue and helped look after the children for some time.

The Etheridges, family friends, purchased a Buick and all got aboard for a Sunday outing. What a treat that was.

 In July 1922 Jack married Florence Janet Gillie in Sydney and they welcomed a daughter Elizabeth in April 1923.
Florrie, Rene, Harley and Dorothy 1922

Harley, Betty, Dorothy and Rene 1923

 Now with 4 children they had fun times on more picnics
Dorothy, Harley and Rene perhaps near Stanthorpe
Harley, Jack & Betty 1927

 Notice no 4WD's in the bush
Armitstead with Durantes, about 1928

By 1930 the children were growing up and Florrie's brother Ken Gillie and his family lived in Sydney so the Armitsteads drove to Sydney for a visit and no visit would be complete without a visit to the beach and Taronga Park Zoo.
Betty at the beach-possibly Cronulla

Elephant ride at Taronga Zoo

 and  another trip to Sydney in 1935. Life continued for the Armitsteads but they were growing up and needed to leave home and that will be another installment.
Harley, Jack, Dorothy and Betty in Sydney 1935


Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z is for names beginning with or containing Z AtoZ challenge 2016

Z, of course,  is a difficult letter to use as a prompt.
I looked in my family tree to see how many times I had names  with a Z in the beginning or within the name and I was quite surprised to find the following:
  Zed -1
  Zoe -1
  Kezia -1
  Elizabeth - 120( and I didn't count the times it occurred as a second name)
  Eliza- 20
  Eliza Jane Hepzebah-1 ( 2 Z's-Wasn't she lucky?)

and I had one family name beginning with Z
and others containing Z
  It's been great participating  in the challenge and I've made it to the end again. Yeh!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Y is for You. AtoZ Challenge 2016

Have you written your story for your descendants? Wouldn't it have been nice to have your great grandfather's story written down for you. It would have saved you a lot of time and trouble trying to work out which "John Smith" he was and did he really steal the pig. Be kind to your descendants and write your story now.
Where were you born? Is the place still there? If so take a photo.
Where did you go to school? Do you have school photos?
What did your parents do? Did you live in different places?
What about funny family stories. These are the things that records don't give you. Help your family out.
When & where did you get married? Do you have photos of the wedding and some of the relatives that attended?
I hope I've given you enough questions for you to think about for your descendants. Perhaps you have some other information that they might like to have.
Don't delay, start today.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

X is for names beginning with X AtoZ challenge 2016

I was really scratching my head to have something to write for this one. Then I remembered I should look to see if any of the family had names beginning with X. I knew I had a Xanthin but I also found Xavier. There are only 2 X's in the whole tree.
When the organisers' said write short blogs well here is a short one.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W is for William Blackledge

William Blackledge is one of my great grandfather's younger brothers. He was born on August 20 1866 (1) in St Helens Lancashire. In 1881 he was apprenticed to the sheet and plate glass manufacturers Pilkington Brothers of St Helens. It is interesting to read the apprenticeship indenture papers to see the conditions of the day. He was apprenticed for 6 years and one calendar month.
As part of his conditions  he shall obey the company's reasonable commands and will not waste, neglect, embezzle or spoil their goods and he must not frequent taverns, inns or alehouses nor play cards, dice or any other unlawful game.(1)
His conditions  and pay rates are set out in great detail.

He'll be paid 7/0 per week for the first month  and then 8/0 per week for the first year, 10/0 per week for the second year, 12/0 per week for the third year, 14/0 per week for the fourth year16/0 per week for the fifth year and 18/0 per week for the sixth year as long as there is enough fuel for the pits. If not, then he will be suspended from work and paid two-thirds of his wages. If he is not able to work at any time then he will not be paid.
Another interesting bit is that his father must "provide good and sufficient meat, drink, lodging, and washing. And also sufficient wearing apparel and medical and surgical attendance when necessary". (1)

He continued to work at the glass works as in the 1891 census he is listed living at home with the family at  112 Peter St Eccleston St Helens and working as  a glass works warehouseman (2) and in 1901  he was married, living at 248 Dentons Green Lane St Helens with wife Elizabeth and a 2 year old daughter Doris  and listed as Manager, glass works (3)
By 1911 he is living at 23 Hard Lane St Helens and is manager of the warehouse of the sheet glass manufacturer. (4)
 Sadly he died aged 58 on January 3 1926  (1) and is buried in the St Helens Cemetery.

(1)Contract of Service: William Blackledge with Pilkington Brothers, St Helens  20th July 1881)
(2) 1891 census of England, 112 Peter St, Eccleston, St Helens, Lancashire, folio 79, page 7 , William Blackledge; digital images, ( : accessed 24 Apr 2016); citing PRO RG 12/3021

(3) 1901 census of England, 248 Dentons Green Lane, St Helens, Lancashire, folio 50, page 22, William Blackledge; digital images, ( : accessed 24 Apr 2016); citing PRO RG 13/3519. 
(4) 1911 census of England, 23 Hard Lane, St Helens, Lancashire,  William Blackledge; digital images, ( : accessed 24 Apr 2016); citing PRO RG 14/22760