Family History – Derivation of the Name Mewett

– Mew Gull  Larus canus




“He’s a Mewett, alright. Look at his nose!” –

This posting is based on a similar article published in 1976 in A Digest of Mewett Family History for the Mewett Family Reunion held at Williamstown and Kersbrook, South Australia. The Digest was prepared  by Alan Mewett and was based on the research of the late L Robert (Bob) Mewett who fired us with curiosity and enthusiasm for our family history.

MEWETT probably comes from the surname MEW in the same way that Annette (meaning “little Anne”) comes from the name Anne.  The addition of the English “-ett” and the French “-et” (masculine) and “-ette” (feminine) to names is called the diminutive and it designates “a small thing of its kind”.

Imagine that John Mew, a villager of the 12th century, had a young son also named John, a not uncommon practice in families to name the eldest child after his father in bygone times.  Other persons in the village might have referred to the son as John Mewett meaning “little John Mew” or “John the little Mew” to distinguish him from his father John Mew.

A similar diminutive is used in modern English by the addition of “ie” or “y” so that John becomes Johnny, Liz becomes Lizzie, and Smith becomes Smithy.  At school I was called “Mewie” by some of my classmates who, without realising it, were corrupting my surname in the 20th century in the way that villagers might have done hundreds of years ago.  In earlier times these corruptions of a name stuck to the person, an easy thing to happen when there was little or no formal written record of villagers’ names.

The name Mew is thought to be derived from two sources.  One is the Old English word “maew” meaning a gull or seabird.  The other is the Old French word “mue” meaning a cage for moulting hawks or falcons. Modern dictionaries list the modern version of these words as “mew” with both meanings.

Names such as Bird (or Byrd), Hawk(e), Wren, Parrot(t), Sparrow, Crow(e), Lark(e), Fox, Swallow, Bull, Eagle(s) and Swan(n) were added to the given name of a person, particularly if that person was supposed to have a resemblance to the bird or animal, and these names eventually became permanent family surnames.  The way that the prominent Mewett nose is seen in branches of the family could be the clue to a common ancestor whose beak-like proboscis prompted his neighbours to refer to him as, say, John the Mew.

Other names were given to persons according to their trade, hair colour, place of origin, stature, or behaviour.  A person in charge of the mews where the hunting falcons were kept whilst moulting might have been identified at the manor as John of the Mew(s), John the Muer, John de la Mue, John Meweman, and other variants of the word “mue”.

Again, imagine our 12th century village where several males have the first name of John. The other villagers probably distinguished them  in this way:  John the baker (Baker), John with black hair (Black), John who is small (Small), John in charge of the mews (John Muer or Mewer), John with the beak-like nose (Mew), John the son of John Mew (Mewett).

It is interesting to read actual names recorded in the 12th and 13th centuries: Alan le Muer (1195), Robert Meu (1275), William Meweman (1279), Richard Mewot, William Mew (1284), William le Mew (1296, from Sussex records).

To return to the 21st century, it is also interesting to read that there are 21 entries of Mew, 8 entries of Mewes, 39 entries of Mewett, and 11 of both Mewing and Mews, and one Mewette in the online White Pages telephone directory of 2011 for New South Wales which included some entries for Queensland and Victoria.

Mewett and Mewet were the two common forms of the spelling of the family name found in the records of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.  Mispellings are common enough today as they have been in the past; most of us have had our name erroneously entered somewhere as Muet, Mewitt, or Mowat.  Mewett has been adopted by me as the standard spelling in this text.

Forty years ago I received an invitation to an engagement party for a young man named Mewett. Not knowing the family I phoned to decline the invitation but they insisted that I should attend. At the party, while discussing the possibility that we might be related some generations back in time, I noticed an uncle of the fiance edging around to view me from the side; he could contain himself no longer and exclaimed with some enthusiasm:

He’s a Mewett alright, look at his nose ! ”

– almewett

Published in: on June 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm  Comments (3)  

Family History – The Giddings of Gumeracha

                                                 Mrs Wm Giddings (nee Ann Lee)

The only great-great-great-grandparents of mine to emigrate to Australia were John Giddings and Mary Whitwell who were married on 26 May 1811, at Sawtry, an English village in the county of Cambridgeshire – a bicentenary I failed to observe recently on this weblog!  (You might notice my practice of naming married women by their maiden names in these histories; I do this to indicate the spread of families as we go back through the generations, the sources of our present-day genes and DNA.)

John and Mary’s son, William, was married to Ann Lee in 1834 at the same village church in Sawtry. Twenty-one years later John, aged 67, and Mary (64), and their son, William (42) and Ann (37), emigrated aboard the Punjab bound for South Australia. Accompanying them were their eight grandchildren/ children: Rhoda (19), Mary Ann, William, Elizabeth, John, Benjamin, James, George Butler . The One Pound cost of their passage was paid by Edward McAllister, a landholder in South Australia, the grandparents’ fare being 11 pounds each.

William and Ann first settled at Kersbrook but later moved to close-by Kenton Valley. It was here that he carted the stone used in building the Methodist Church at Gumeracha of which he was one of the first trustees. From Kenton Valley the Giddings family moved to North Gumeracha (Forreston) where they rented land from the South Australian Company. In 1872 they purchased an adjoining farming property upon which they remained until their retirement to a cottage in the township of Gumeracha.

Since their arrival in South Australia in 1855, another daughter, Sarah, was born; and the eldest daughter, Rhoda, was married to Jesse Mewett in 1856 at Samuel Mewett’s property, Park Farm, near Kersbrook..

The Giddings family was held in high esteem in the Gumeracha district, and they took an enthusiastic interest in church matters. William possessed a mighty faith in God and the ‘Good Book’ which led him to a heated debate with William Hicks in the saddler’s shop when he was most emphatic that Pharoah’s heart was actually hardened because the Bible said so. William was also involved in some heat generated by an incumbent minister’s plan to instal a communion rail for the chuchgoers to come forward and kneel while receiving the Sacrament as they would have in High Church and the Catholic church.

At this point in the story I must quote in full from Gumeracha 1839 – 1939,  A Centenary History edited by J. E. Monfries and published by Lynton Publications in 1939, and from which the previous paragraph was extracted:

  • And what of this old pioneer’s wife? The writer altogether fails to imagine what that dear old lady would think of the representatives of so many of her sex today, with their painted lips and lacquered fingernails and their cocktails!  The writer readily recalls the picture of that fine specimen of her race in her little home in Murray Street, where in snowy white apron she busied herself in a kitchen that was spotless in its cleanliness, and where upon the mantelpiece coffee and mustard tins shone with a brilliance that lacked nothing by comparison with a jeweller’s shop of today, and where there was unshakeable character and absolute thoroughness in everything that had to be undertaken. 

I am proud to claim Mrs Wm Giddings, Ann Lee, as my great-great-grand-mother; in spirit, she lived on in her great-granddaughters, my Mewett aunts, one of whom, Monica, was so fastidious that my uncle Will Weaver claimed you could have eaten your dinner off the kitchen floor. Hark back to my weblog posting where I described my aunts as girls scrubbing the kitchen table, cleaning the silverware and thoroughly sweeping the floors under the strict supervision of their father, my grandfather Ted Mewett.

If you should visit Gumeracha and nearby towns on a pilgrimage, then see the old cemetery behind the Methodist Church in Kersbrook.  John and Mary were buried there in 1864 and 1871; William and Ann in 1897 and 1899. The inscription on the latters’ headstone reads:

The forms we used to see / Were but the raiment they used to wear / The grave that now doth press / Upon the cast off dress / Is but the wardrobe locked.                        They are not there.

                                                                                                                                          – almewett

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Family History – South Australian Origins

               Jesse Mewett                                                              Rhoda Mewett (nee Giddings)

The birthplace of Edward John (Ted) Mewett was Mount Pleasant, South Australia, where his father, Jesse Mewett, was working as an agricultural labourer in June 1863. Generally, family activities were more restricted to an area comprising Kersbrook, Chain of Ponds, Gumeracha and Forreston (North Gumeracha), about 30 kilometres north-east of Adelaide in the Torrens valley.

Jesse was born in the English village of Willingdon, near Eastbourne in 1835. His parents, Samuel and Martha Mewett and their five children were emigrating to South Australia on board the Platina when Jesse turned three years of age. After a short stay in Modbury, the family was moved to the Gumeracha-Forreston district as tenant-farmers for the South Australia Company. Meanwhile, four more children had been born into the family. In 1852 Samuel purchased 80 acres of land to farm at Kersbrook and the family settled there permanently.

On 7th February 1856 at the Mewett property, Park Farm, Jesse, aged 21, was married to Rhoda Giddings, also aged 21; she had arrived in South Australia with her parents, William and Ann Giddings, and family in the previous year on board the Punjab. This extended family included grandparents, John and Mary Giddings, daughter Rhoda, and seven younger siblings.

Jesse and Rhoda lived at Park Farm with his parents until 1861 or 1862. Two surviving children, Sarah Ann and David William had been born in 1859 and 1861. The first-born child was David who died at 9 months from dysentry. It was a custom to name a later-born child after a deceased child. After Ted, five other children were born to Jesse and Rhoda.

The research into the Mewett family history by my cousin Bob Mewett in the 1970s revealed to me the names of our great-great-grandfather, Samuel, and my great-grandfather, Jesse, and I suspected they were biblical characters. I approached a fellow worker who was something of a Bible student, asking him where could the names of Samuel and Jesse be found. Without hesitation he replied, Samuel 1, chapter 16.

In this passage God tells Samuel, a prophet, to go to Bethleham, to a man named Jesse, because God has chosen one of his sons to be king of Israel.  Jesse calls each of his seven sons in turn to face Samuel, but God through Samuel says “No” to each of them. Then the youngest who is out tending the sheep, is called in. God says to Samuel, “This is the one – anoint him!”  Samuel takes the oil and anoints David.

– almewett

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 10:28 am  Comments (5)  

Family History – My Grandfather Mewett


                                          Ted Mewett and first wife, Emma Lloyd

Edward John (Ted) Mewett, born in South Australia in 1863, fathered 7 children with his first wife, Emma Lloyd, in Victoria; and 9 children with his second wife, Elsa Ruslena May, daughter of George Christian Geiger who came from a wine-producing area called Grantschen in Wurttemberg, Germany to work at St Hubert’s vineyard near Yering and Lilydale, Victoria. It was there at St Hubert’s that Elsa was born in 1887 to George’s wife, Caroline Geiger.

Ted was what we now would call a control freak, a hard, dominating father. As a railway ganger he won prizes for the best maintained line in the district but was an exacting overseer of his gang. If a worker reported for work but was too ill to carry on, Ted would threaten him with the sack if he did not get on the rail trolley to travel up the line. Approaching lunchtime the men would watch Ted closely because he was in the habit of downing tools after glancing at his pocket watch and starting his lunch without them.

At home he would set tasks for his daughters, to scrub the wooden kitchen table, to sweep the floors especially the corners where dust accumulated; he would leave a list of jobs to be done before he returned from work. And there would be no excuses! His young sons once evened the score by using a gimlet to introduce ants into his locked tool box where he kept his own delicacies, such as butter, denied to the rest of the family.

He was unreasonably jealous of his 22-years-younger wife and it was in the railway town of Wycheproof, their home town for years, that the retired railway worker threatened Elsa with a gun in a fit of jealousy. His sons rebelled and threw him out. The rejected father travelled to Melbourne and lived with each of the married children from his first marriage. On the farm with Ruby and Will Weaver he spent his days sitting on the ground under the gum trees facing the east towards the Sydney Road (now the Hume Highway) 2 miles away, and the main north-south railway line 3 or 4 miles away where he could hear the steam trains, perhaps knowing from the sounds if they were passenger or goods trains, the type of locomotive, the speed, the condition of the tracks, and whether the trains were on time. But Will was a hard-working farmer and expected others to help with jobs on the farm. Ted came to Seddon, a suburb of Melbourne, to stay with his eldest son, Perce, my father. My mother thought him a strangely quiet old man who was content to sit on his own under a tree and not talk. He then travelled to Bendigo where he stayed with his daughter Emily for a time, correcting his son-in-law’s gardening practices, a day-to-day battle to heap soil up at the base of plants only for it to be raked away next day.

Finally, nobody really wanted him; the love he denied them over the years was, in turn, denied him, perhaps when he needed it most. He died of senile decay and heart failure in a Salvation Army Old Men’s Retreat in Blackburn at age 71 and was buried in an unmarked grave at Springvale cemetery. The death certificate was as uncommunicative as he was in life: parents, unknown; if married, unknown; issue, unknown; birthplace, Mount Pleasant, South Australia. Just one clue to research his family history. We now know it all and future postings on this weblog will give the details, the knowledge that Ted denied his family.

– almewett –

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm  Comments (7)  

Family History – William McGuigan of Kanumbra

Top: Mrs Wm McGuigan nee Margaret McMinn  1826 – 1910  

Top right: Wm McGuigan  1827 – 1909

Below: Martha, a daughter of Wm and Margaret McGuigan,

“Hey! McGuigan!”

The ploughman turned to see who was calling to him across the paddock, reined his horses in, and cupped his ear towards the buggy stopped on the road.

“McGuigan! Do ye know what day it is?”  The caller was Fox, a neighbour from down the road. McGuigan looked down at his hands and slowly counted off the days. Then, without a glance back, he moved alongside his horses, unhitched them from the plough, and led them back towards the farmhouse. Fox continued on his way, a broad smile on his face; he had caught McGuigan working on the Sabbath!

William McGuigan was a God-fearing man, a churchgoer, and after dinner each night when the dining table had been cleared of dishes, the family bible was placed before him and he would read a passage from it to his assembled family. He and his wife Margaret were from Baillieborough in County Cavan, Ulster, Ireland. They had attended the established Church of Ireland there, and here in Australia they became Church of England, the equivalent of the church in Ireland.

They lived and farmed at Kanumbra in north-eastern Victoria, and attended St Paul’s C of E at Yarck, a small town a few miles down the main road (now known as the Maroondah Highway).  A church was later established at Kanumbra on a 1/4 acre block donated by McGuigan. After one morning service McGuigan could not contain his fury and as he filed out of the church he ignored the handshake proffered by the cleric, Michael Francis Cahill, and staring at him, hissed: “You’re nothing but a Papist! I’ll not bring my family here again!” And the McGuigan family was marched out to the buggy for a furious drive back to the farm. Something in the liturgy of the C of E service had offended McGuigan’s protestant beliefs.

McGuigan wanted a local church for his family to attend, so he donated the 1/4 acre block of his land next door to the Methodist Church and the two churches stand side by side to this very day as monuments to the strong religious views of my great-grandfather, William McGuigan. But, churches no more are they; judging by their appearance in 2010 they are weekenders abandoned to the wattles that shield them from the roadside view.

Postscript: (i)  My grandparents, William Hendry Pollock and Mary Ann McGuigan were married at St Paul’s, Yarck, on 1 June 1887.

(ii) Papist was a derogatory term used to describe a member of the Roman Catholic Church as an adherent of the Pope.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  – almewett 

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 10:44 am  Comments (6)  

Simmons Reef to Gobur to Bonnie Doon

Harold and Lenore Snook (nee McLauchlan)

Hey! Remember the two girls we saw at Bonnie Doon? Well, I met one of them at Tom’s Hamburgers last night.

It was Sunday morning when my older brothers were enjoying a lay-in after their Saturday night’s outing. It was my eldest brother’s voice I heard calling from his room to his three-year-younger brother in the adjoining room. This one-way conversation was my introduction to a new phase in our family’s comings-and-goings. Gradually, thereafter, a track was worn between our home in Chatsworth Road, East Prahran, down Malvern Road, to Surrey Road, South Yarra where the the two girls, being sisters, lived with their parents, Harold and Lenore Snook. Around the corner from Surrey Road was the Prahran Congregational Church close by Tom’s Hamburgers, and it was at this church that my brothers married the two sisters, but of course, not at the same time.

In a previous blog about my half-uncle Jack Pollock I mentioned that my brothers’ father-in-law, Harold Snook, had told me about Jack’s untimely demise in the Doutta Galla Hotel at Newmarket. Harold and his family were living then at Bonnie Doon in the 1930s when the Pollock tragedy was unfolding.  Mrs Lenore Snook was the postmistress and Harold worked for Mitchell & Evans’ store; his specialty was in hardware and building materials. He was a handyman and his expertise has been passed on to his grandsons; he also played football (we call it Aussie Rules these days) for Bonnie Doon and had played previously for Fremantle.

Recently my wife brought home a paperback from book-sorting at Lifeline for me to look at and buy if interested. It was titled Dolly’s Creek, its subject: archaeology of a Victorian goldfields community. My interest was lukewarm until I noticed that the front cover illustration was a picture of Elizabeth Shepherd’sSimmons Reef, Mount Blackwood, Victoria. My hazy memory had me looking in my family history files and, sure enough, there it was: Simmon’s Reef, Blackwood, the birthplace of Catherine Josephine Bell in 1861, daughter of Robert Bell, miner, and Joanna Bell (maiden name Ellicot).

Who were they, you might ask. Well, Catherine was married 20 years later at Simmon’s Reef to Donald Dow Mellies McLauchlan of Red Hill, Blackwood, a miner aged 28. His father was Donald McLauchlan, a sailor from Portland, Victoria, and his mother was Margaret McLauchlan (maiden name McKenzie). At some time Catherine and Donald moved to Gobur in north-eastern Victoria in the region of Alexandra, Yarck, Kanumbra and Bonnie Doon. Their children included daughters Margaret (Mrs Neal), Beatrice (Mrs Davis), Robina Lenore (Mrs Snook), Lily May (Mrs Terry) and a son Donald. We often heard our sisters-in-law speak of Aunty Marge, Aunty Beat, and Aunty May, and we ourselves spoke of Nanna and Poppa Snook, grandparents of our niece and nephews.

The tenure of memorials at Springvale cemetery were limited to 50 years and my sisters-in-law and I agreed to transfer those of our two sets of parents together with their ashes to the cemetery at Bonnie Doon. From there Harold Snook would have been able to kick a football into the sports ground where he had played for the Bonnie Doon team and another to the site where Mrs Snook had been active as postmistress eighty years ago. And my mother? Nearby are the graves of her parents William and Mary Ann Pollock, and her sister Lily Black. I hoped it would be a case of Welcome Home for her.

(On the advice of my own grand-daughter I have omitted names of the two sisters and my brothers to protect present-day identities.)

– almewett

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Family History – The Inquest

At the inquest on 18 August 1933 into the untimely death of John Campbell Pollock, Lucy M gave evidence that she was the cook at the Doutta Galla Hotel at Newmarket, Victoria, and she had known the deceased as a lodger for about 9 1/2 months but there had been no relationship between them. His room was about two yards away from her room but on the opposite side of the passage. She last saw him alive about 2.30 pm on Thursday, 20th July 1933, and he appeared as if he had been drinking; he was addicted to drink, mostly spirits, she said. She had retired to her bedroom at about 3 pm and did not hear any reports, adding that she was not a heavy sleeper. That afternoon he had come to her room holding a revolver out in his hand, she grabbed his hand and called out to Ruba G who, at the sight of the revolver, ran downstairs. He dropped the revolver and Lucy fled into room 25. A few minutes later she returned to her room with other persons. She placed a chair under the knob of the door when she retired for the night and did not leave the room again until morning.

Ruba G, waitress at the hotel, said that when she heard Mrs M call out, she went to her room and saw the deceased holding a revolver close to Mrs M’s head. He said “I will do for you yet”. Ruba ran downstairs to Mrs O, saying “Quick. Mr Pollock has got a revolver at Lucy’s head.” She next saw the deceased at 7 pm when he came to the dining room for dinner. He said that he wanted to see Liz and apologise. Ruba retired to bed at about midnight and did not hear any reports during the night. Next morning some time after 9 am she heard a noise which she thought was made by the deceased pushing up his window. On the previous day she had overheard Lucy M tell the deceased to get out of her room as he was driving her mad. Occasionally the deceased and Mrs M had arguments with each other.

James O, manager of the hotel, said John Pollock had resided at the hotel since December 1932. He last saw him alive in the sitting room when he left the room to retire about 10.30 pm. The deceased was a late riser and Mr O went to room 26  at about 11.20 am and found him lying on his back on the floor near the foot of the bed; there was a revolver lying on the floor at his feet, and he noticed a wound to the forehead. He called a doctor who attended and pronounced him dead. Mr O then called the police. He had not heard any shot fired during the night or that morning.

The deceased was a fairly heavy drinker and attended race meetings frequently, often putting as much as 50 or 100 pounds on a horse. The deceased had shown Mr O a revolver three months before, similar to the one found in his bedroom, and he had assured Mr O that he had a licence for it. The deceased had not paid for his board for some time and still owed 14 pounds 6 shillings.

When Mr O was told that Mr Pollock had pointed a revolver at the cook’s head, he could not find him in the hotel. Later, Mr O asked him for the revolver but he replied that he had chucked it away. The manager had not advised the police of the scuffle with Mrs M.

First Constable A R Doyle said the five-chamber revolver had two live cartridges and two empty shells in it. The bed had been slept in and the room had not been disturbed in any way. There were no powder marks on the deceased’s forehead and the bullet wound was in the centre of the forehead. From letters and papers found it appeared the deceased was in financial trouble and his cheque book showed that large amounts had been paid out and his bank account had been cleaned out.  None of the occupants of the hotel had heard shots fired although passing trains might have drowned the noise of a shot. There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of John Campbell Pollock. On recall by the Coroner, Doyle thought that the body had not been moved prior to his arrival at the hotel.

Well, dear reader, did Jack Pollock shoot himself, did Mrs M fire the fatal shot, or had Squizzy Taylor and friends executed him for non-payment of gambling debts and covered their tracks expertly? Was my mother right in saying he was too much of a coward to shoot himself. Am I right in saying my uncle Jack was too much of a coward to face up to the situation he had created for himself? You be the judge.

– almewett

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm  Comments (2)  

Family History – Uncle Jack

Maggie Pollock, half-sister of Jack Pollock: “He was too much of a coward.”

Having inquired upon the part of our Lord the King when, where, and how the said John Campbell Pollock came by his death,  I say that on the 21st day of July 1933 in Bedroom No. 26, on the 3rd Floor of the Doutta Galla Hotel, Racecourse Road, Newmarket in the said State, the said John Campbell  Pollock died  from a bullet wound of the head there wilfully self inflicted on the 20th or 21st day of July 1933.  – David Grant, Coroner, Melbourne 18 August 1933

Many years later I heard of the untimely death of my unknown-to-me Uncle Jack and I asked my mother about it. Her reply was short and sharp: “He was too much of a coward to shoot himself ”. Mention of her halfbrother had been infrequent but enough for me to gain the impression he was a selfish bully. It was his younger brother Robert Wilson Pollock we knew about, our Uncle Bob, married to Jean (Ginny), father of Clyde, Norma, Nancy, Joyce and Bill; he was a weighbridge clerk who lived at Moonee Ponds and who died at age 72 from lung cancer. These Pollocks were part of our extended loving family.

My grandfather, William Hendry Pollock, died of influenza in November 1928, aged 80, four months before I was born. Before his death William was still farming his property variously described as being at Woodfield, Brankeet, or Bonnie Doon. William’s Last Will and Testament appointed Robert (Bob) as joint trustee along with the bank manager, and provided that after payment of legacies to his daughters, the residue of his estate was to be equally divided between his wife, Mary Ann, and his sons Bob and Jack, allowing for the postponement of the sale of the estate so as to carry on the property as it had been carried on in his own lifetime, with Jack as manager.

Within five years of Jack’s management the farm had been sold, Mary Ann and her unmarried daughter Marion and her unmarried son David were relocated in Benalla, and Jack was living at The Doutta Galla Hotel in Newmarket, gambling at the races, drinking heavily and owing money for his hotel lodging and his gambling debts.

To paraphrase my mother I would say that Jack was too much of a coward to face up to the mess he’d made of his life and suicide was the easy way out, quick and final! However, there were other personal opinions at the time that Jack had not shot himself. My cousin, the late Neil Black gave me his father’s opinion that gangsters, probably the infamous Sqizzy Taylor and company, had executed him for non-payment of gambling debts.

My brothers’ father-in-law, the late Harold Snook, who was living at Bonnie Doon at that time, told me that the rumour was that a barmaid had shot him. Neil and I agreed that it seemed unlikely that Jack could have fired the revolver pointed backwards directly at his forehead, especially as there were no powder burns to the skin.

In the next posting I will include some of the evidence given by the hotel-keeper, the cook, the waitress, and the police. It should be interesting reading and throw some light on how low Jack had come from “retired grazier” to impoverished gambler.

– almewett

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Family History – The Pollocks of Bonnie Doon

 William and Mary Ann Pollock

The one grandparent not born in Australia was William Hendry Pollock who accompanied his father, John Campbell Pollock, and mother, Margaret Hendry, on the Commodore Perry from Liverpool arriving at Launceston, Tasmania, in April 1855. They were from Govan, near Glascow, Scotland, and were brought out as assisted immigrants on the application of an Alexander Learmouth. William was then 7 and, like his parents, was Presbyterian and could read but not write although his parents could write. His father, aged 27, was a ploughman.

By 1875 John Campbell Pollock, farmer, had settled on and was ploughing his own 80 acres of land west of the town of Bonnie Doon in Victoria, now famous as the holiday haunt of the Kerrigan family in the film The Castle. The small town was known as Doon in 1875 but confusion with Dooen near Horsham led to the change of name to Bonnie Doon. More land was acquired by the Pollocks in 1880, 1883, and 1891.

In the meantime, William had grown to manhood and had been married to Georgina Wilson in 1876 at her father’s Pagewood Farm, Spring Creek near Alexandra.  She was Welsh-born and lived with her parents, Robert Wilson and Margaret Rowan.

After their marriage William and Georgina lived on the Pollock farm, Meadowbank, near Bonnie Doon. Their first child was born in 1877 and named John Campbell (Jack) Pollock after his grandfather. Robert Wilson Pollock was their second child, born 1878, named after his maternal grandfather. By this time the location of the farm was described as Brankeet, name of the creek on the northern side of the Mansfield Road, which flowed east towards the town. Agnes was born in 1881 but she died five months later from dysentry. Next year a boy, William Hendry, was born but he died two months later from tuberculosis. In 1884, aged 27, their mother Georgina died of tuberculosis.

My grandfather, William Hendry Pollock, remarried in 1887, his second wife being Mary Ann McGuigan, (my grandmother), of Kanumbra. Her parents, William McGuigan and Margaret McMinn had sailed from Baillieborough, County Cavan, Ireland in 1855; Mary Ann was born at Whittlesea in Victoria. The Pollocks had six daughters: Lilian, Margaret (my mother), Alice, Ann, Marion and Martha; and one son David.

Jack Pollock, at age 25, married Dorothea Prowd, a local girl, in 1902. Sadly, she died three years later. There were no children and Jack did not remarry. His father, William, continued to acquire adjoining land for farming in 1902, 1904, and 1905. But my story for now remains with Jack and I will return to him with my next posting.

(Postscript: I should point out to readers that I use a wife’s maiden name instead of her married name in the text so that we might see the spread of the families involved as we move back through the generations; no reflection on their marital status is intended.)

– almewett –

Published in: on June 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm  Comments (2)  

Ruby and Will Weaver


Published in: on June 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment