The Longevity of My Mewett Ancestors

Samuel Mewett, my great-great-grandfather, died at Kersbrook, S.A. on 26 January 1888, aged 85. Judging by his death certificate entry he was thought by his family to be 86; the memorial at Kersbrook cemetery, installed in 1976 by family descendants, gave his age as 84. However, Samuel was baptised at Willingdon in England in September 1803 so we might assume that he was born in that year (civil birth registrations were not kept until decades later). This explains why I have dared to contradict the death certificate and the headstone memorial in stating that Samuel died at age 85. Why is this so important to me? Read on.

Another of my great-great-grandfathers, William Giddings, died at Gumeracha, S.A. on 26 July 1897, also aged 85. I accept this age because it was given on his death certificate and again on the headstone of his grave at the Kersbrook one-time-Methodist church, his birth date being recorded thereon as 1812.

Jesse Mewett, my great-grandfather, son of Samuel and Martha and husband of Rhoda Giddings, died at Parkside, S.A. on 20 March 1911 of bronchitis and asthma, aged 75 years. Other great-grandfathers included William Lloyd who died at Horsham in 1906 aged 65, John Campbell Pollock who died at Woodfield in May 1897 aged 69, and William McGuigan who died in Melbourne, though a resident of Kanumbra, in 1909 aged 81.

Ted (Edward John) Mewett, my grandfather, died at Blackburn, Victoria in 1934 aged 72. My grandmother, Emma Lloyd had predeceased him by 30 years after the birth of her seventh child.  William Hendry Pollock, my maternal grandfather died at Woodfield, Victoria, in 1928 aged 80.

My father, Percy Edwin Mewett, died of lung cancer at Prahran, Victoria in 1959, aged 67.
(My mother Maggie Pollock died at Kew in 1979 aged 90)

This week I celebrate my 85th birthday (28 March 2014) thanks to the marvels of modern medical practice and the loving care of Mary, my wife of 59 years. But I think back to my great-great-grandfathers who both lived to 85; they were born in England in the early 19th century, and as poor emigrants they brought their families to Australia on sailing ships, worked for the South Australia Company as tenant farmers, settled on the land in the Kersbrook-Chain Of Ponds-Gumeracha districts, and survived drought, bush fire, flood and other hardships without the help of modern medical science or government assistance. They were the tough and true pioneers of our families in Australia; I’m proud to claim them as my ancestors and I acknowledge and honour them by publishing this tribute to them.

I haven’t forgotten the women pioneers of the Mewett family but I will have to wait until I reach 90 to write in similar vein about their longevity and the roles they played in supporting their menfolk!

Published in: on March 28, 2014 at 10:47 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for your lastest post. Jesse Mewett was my Great Great Grandfather. Laurel Eva Mewett – his grand daughter (daughter of David Mewtt) was my grandmother. Lovely to be learning about the family I didn’t know I was part of until last year. Keryn Coulter

  2. Thank you, Keryn, for reading my blog and leaving an interesting and encouraging comment; you are a long-lost cousin, a second cousin once removed, meaning a generation off being a second cousin. David and Ted were brothers, Laurel and Percy were first cousins, and I am a second cousin of your parent. Best Wishes from Alan Mewett.

  3. Hi Al, what a beautifully written blog. Samuel Mewett was my husband’s great, great, great Grandfather. His great, great Grandmother was Harriet Mewett (Doman). May you have good health and longevity! 85 is a marvellous age to get to but perhaps you will be the first to become a centenarian in your line! Thank you for all your good work. Regards, Judy Doman.

  4. Congratulations on your 85 years, and a thank you on behalf of our section of the Mewett family – Ivan ‘Paddy’ Mewett (fatther, died 1981), Mavis(mother, died 2006), Kay(me) and sister Lyn (Yallourn).
    I have copies of ‘A Digest of Mewett Family History’ and Newsletters from Bob Mewett. I have taken great delight in reading the articles you have produced as stories under the title ‘Who Were They? I was particularly interested in the story of our grandfather, Ted Mewett. It explained the impact he had on my father and his brothers.

    My husband, Peter Hall, has just retired as a Minister in Victoria’s State Government, after serving over 25 years as a parliamentarian. I note that you are a keen bush walker. I am guide at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Garden. I can recall you visiting us in Yallourn, probably in the 1960’s. I have a card you sent my father’s closest brother, George.
    You wrote it while you were flying on a DC8 between Stockholm and Munich. You had played a series of concerts in Sweden and were heading to Innsbruck. I wonder if you ever played with Yehudi Menuhin. He was the great uncle of my son, Simon’s wife, Angela Nicholas. Hephzibah Menuhin was her grandmother.

    I wish you many healthy, happy years, and I look forward to more stories, including the one for your 90th.

    Cheers……..Kay Louise Hall (Mewett)

  5. Happy Birthday! Wendy Gray Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2014 23:47:11 +0000 To:

  6. HI I also very much enjoyed reading you blog, and have gone back through some of the earlier entries, which make fascinating reading. When I have a bit more time on my hands I will definitely spend a bit of time working out how my branch fits in. My grandfather was Alfred William Mewett and my father is John Mewett. Both of London
    It is fascinating that many branches of the Mewetts travelled world wide and I still live less than 30 miles from the start of it all!!

    Vincent Mewett

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