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Bridging The Past & Future Sydney 2018

Looking forward to this conference at the brand new International Convention Centre in Sydney in March 2018.


Places of interest

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks, tying up loose ends in my research. Of which there are so many! And also reflecting on the places that were the birth place of many of my ancestors. Here are just a few places of interest to my family history and the surnames associated which each place.

Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire – Taylor and Lloyd

Glenshiel Ross-Shire  – Morison
Lanarkshire – Louden

Inver, Donegal – Boyle
Kilkenny – Ireland
Cork – Ahern

Bedfordshire – Waters
Guilden Morden, Cambridgeshire – Izzard
Gamblingay, Cambridgeshire – Waters
London – Jones
Kent – Lowe
Steeple, Ashton, Wiltshire – Cox

Jamaica – McEwan/McQueen

As you can see, most of my acestors originate from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Except for the Jamaica connection. My great great grandfather, Thomas James Jonathan McQueen was born in Jamaica, but his father was born in Scotland.





Researching Abroad Roadshow #utproadshow17

UTP home page roadshow banner3

I posted here recently,about Researching abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors being presented by Unlock the Past.

As an ambassador for this event, I will be attending both days. I’m very excited to hear the international guest speakers Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder.

I’m a huge fan on Chris, as I regularly follow his British Genes Blog which is a wealth of information about English, Irish and Scottish research. I’ve also attended his seminars previously and read a few of his books. Meet Chris in the video below.

I will be attending the Melbourne Roadshow, on 18 and 19 August 2017.

I’m not so familiar with Dirk Weissleder, so am looking forward to hearing him speak.  Meet Dirk in the video below.


Tickets can be booked at TryBooking



My Bastille Day baby

CRAIG GEOFFREY DEMPSTER  14.07.1977 – 02.11.1995

My son, Craig was born on Bastille day at about 2pm. I remember very clearly that the day was very wet and wintry and while I was in labour the power went out at the hospital. Of course the hospital had a generator, so that wasn’t a problem.

Craig weighed 9lbs at birth and due to the cold he was put in a premmie humidicrib.  His body took up the entire space, with his legs, which they covered with blankets, hanging out openings at the end. I will never forget that sight.

The following is a repost from 15 July 2015.  The only change made is to update the number of years that have passed since Craig’s death. Craig is my second son and the middle child of two boys and a girl.

Yesterday was Bastille Day and on that day 40 years ago, my son Craig was born. I’ve posted previously about Craig  here


This photo is bad quality as it was taken from a VHS tape featuring Craig just a few days before his death

005 (3)


This song of Nat King Cole’s  says it all. I heard it on radio recently. It says everything about how I feel about losing Craig, and living the past 22 years without him.

I’ve spent those 22 years trying not to think every day about the way Craig died or the fact that he died. When I think of him, I try to think about the good times and how much joy he bought to my life, and how lucky I was to have him for 18 years.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve always been sad for the past 22 years. That isn’t the case at all. But there is a tiny piece of me that will always be just a little bit broken.

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Early Whittlesea

My great great grandparents John and Martha Taylor, and their two small boys, James and John, arrived in Australia from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, in 1841/1842.

So far I haven’t been able to find their immigration records, but do know that they left Wales after the census in June 1841, and were living in Diamond Creek in October 1842, at the time of the birth of their third son William, my great grandfather

John started out his life in Australia as a shepherd at Diamond Creek. I was interested to read in this article that white settlement began in this area in 1837/38. So this was a very new settlement at the time of John and Martha’s arrival 1841/42

They had 12 children, eight boys and four girls, born between 1839 and 1859.   All except two, lived long lives into old age, which is an exceptional result for the times.  The family moved to Whittlesea in about 1850.

The following article gives a picture of Whittlesea in those early years.

from: The Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic: 1922-1939), 8 October 1937 page 3

Whittlesea early years


In view of the approach of the Whittlesea Centenary Celebrations, the following article will be of interest. It has been written from material supplied by the Rev. J. H. Duffy, who has conducted a painstaking research into the early days of the district.

Nestling cosily at the foot of the Plenty Ranges, the site of the present township of Whittlesea must have appealed to the early pioneers of Victoria, for settlement began very soon after Batman pitched his tent on the banks of the Yarra. It has been difficult to find the exact time of the first settlement, but it is known it took place about the end of 1837 or the beginning of 1838.

The first settlers took up land to the east and north of the Yan Yean reservoir, then known as Ryder’s Swamp. This was the home of the Yan Yean tribe of aborigines, an aggressive and warlike race, who resented the intrusion of the whites, and many battles were fought in the vicinity of Ryder’s Swamp.

Lives were lost on both sides, and the remains of a burying ground may be seen on the north-east of the reservoir, not far from Bear’s Castle. Even when the settlers and aborigines were not at war, the natives could not resist the temptation of spearing cattle and sheep, and threatening the lives of those who tried to prevent them from decimating the flocks. This was the reason for the erection of the old castle as a place of refuge for the shepherds when danger threatened.

Among the earliest settlers was Mr. Bear, who took up land adjacent to Ryder’s Swamp, and extending to the northward. His holding included Bear’s vineyard, the wine cellars of which are remembered by some of our old residents, but they no longer exist. The greater part of Bear’s original holding is now embraced in the Metropolitan Board of Works reserve. The spacious old homestead has disappeared, but the home of Mr. Babbington stands on the exact spot.

About the same time, Dr. Ronald took up an area of land, slightly to the west of the reservoir, and this property remained in the hands of the family until quite recently. Captain MacPherson took up the property known as “Strathnoon” and this was successively occupied by Mr. Geo. Sherwin, JP., Mr. Alex Serrell, Cr. James Morris, and the late Major R. G. Tyilson. The homestead was burned down in 1904.

“Rosley Vale” the adjoining property was originally taken up by Mr. Thomas Morley, who sold out to Mr. T. Boadle. Mr. Boadle built the Rosley Vale flour mill on the main road, which was a familiar sight to coach travellers for many years.

Mr. T. Wills settled on the adjoining property, which embraced the hills to the west of the Whittlesea township, some land to the north, and also part of the present township site. It is believed that Mr. Wills was responsible for bestowing the name of “Whittlesea” on the spot, where the people from the surrounding district met to exchange gossip and goods.

The first market-place and show ground was situated on the corner opposite the State school, and it extended into the present railway reserve. It was first known as the Whittlesea Fair. From this modest beginning, it has continued without a break through times of prosperity and of deep and dark depression, until the present day.

The first post-office, and the office of the registrar of births and deaths was situated in Beech street, to the west of the old Willow Tree Hotel, on the spot where a galvanised iron shed now stands.

Always having been keen sportsmen, it was not long before the. residents of Whittlesea established a racecourse. The original course encircled the town, the starting point being near the present police station, and the finish near Mrs. Gibbs’ store.

The first school was opened in 1854, the ruins of which are still standing near the railway station. A son of the first master (Mr. Cookson) is still living at Alexandra, while a son of his successor (Mr. Stubbs) is now a member of the State Parliament of Western Australia, and was last year Mayor of West Perth.

When the authorities of Melbourne began to look, for a place from which to supply the growing city with water, they fixed on the Plenty river, and this served until the Yan Yean Reservoir was constructed. (This will be dealt with more fully in a later article).

Late in 1889 the Melbourne-Whittlesea railway was opened, this being the outcome of a movement which had been energetically carried on for many years. The records show that the agitation for a railway was being carried on at least ten years earlier.


In memory of my Dad – Thomas Lloyd Jones

Today is the third anniversary of the death of my Dad 25.01.1926 – 04.07.2014

lines-of-wisdomDad appeared in an article , written by my daughter, in the book ‘Lines of Wisdom’, published by Affirm Press in 2008. The book features young writers, writing about the lives of ordinary elderly Australians. I can remember at the time of publication, being very proud of both my Dad and my daughter.



020This is the photo that appeared in the book. I do love this photo, but I have always felt that Dad should have been photographed with his Richmond Football Club Scarf as the club was his life-long passion.







Hollow – a drama #threelostchildrenofdaylesford

lost children

The world wide premiere of Hollow, a drama depicting the story of  Three Lost Children of Daylesford was performed at the Daylesford Town Hall over the past weekend.

There is no way I would have missed seeing this performance, as I was involved for a short time when research was being done, having had an interest in this tragic tale for a few years now. When I first stumbled across it, my three grandsons, brothers, were about the same age as these boys who became lost. I can’t help but think  of what it must have been like for three little boys of this age to be lost in the Wombat Forest in June when the nights are extremely cold.  Over the past few nights, temperatures have got down to -4 and -5. Can you imagine a small child being lost in the Australian bush in those low temperatures?

The play was performed by Tripwire Theatre Inc with Megan Riedl the writer/director.   The following paragraph is taken from the Director’s Note that appeared in the program for Hollow. Megan’s words convey better than I could, the angle that the play took to tell the story.

From the first time I read about the disappearance of three little boys in Daylesford in 1867, I knew this story had to be told in theatrical form.  An idea to stage a historical re-enactment of linear timeline of the events on June – September 1867 was floated to me, but it was the behind the scenes moments, which don’t make the newspaper, which interested me more.  What would the mothers be thinking while their husbands went to search every day?  What would happen to a normal neighborly friendship when one woman’s son was spared and the others were lost?  What was the real reason the boys never heeded the advice to return home, given by two neighbors that fateful Sunday?  Why did the community continue to search for weeks, knowing the cause was lost?  The lack of detail about the women – their lives, their reactions and even their first names – was striking and saddening.  I wanted to recreate this story with a shift in focus to those usually left behind from Australian history – women, children and indigenous people. 

Big congratulations have to go to Tripwire Theatre Inc and especially Megan the writer/director, for the sensitive and touching approach taken. The roles were also perfectly cast.  The despair and sadness of the two mothers really touched my heart. I found myself trying and not succeeding, to hold back the tears more than once. I did hear a few other sniffles around the theatre also.

I was surprised to feel quite emotional to see this story that I have researched for so long, being played out in front of me on the stage.

If you are interested to follow this tragic tale I have a Facebook page dedicated to the Three Lost Children.

Three Lost children

The three lost boys

Graham parents

Parents Sarah and William Graham

Burman parents

Parents Elizabeth and Benjamin Burman

Sarah Graham – Nell Jeandet
William Graham Snr – Thomas Aston
William Graham Jnr – Drusilla Dickenson-Bray
Thomas Graham – Pepper Eisner
Elizabeth Burman – Liana Skewes
Benjamin Burman – Paul Pearman
Alfred Burman – James Dawson
Missy Burman – Kira Dawson
Mrs Griffiths – Emily Wilden
Griff – Quinn Le Fevre
Councillor Bleakley – Darcy Oliver
Reverend Main – David Mark Farrington
Geo H. Jamieson / Dr McNicoll – Mark Collins
Tommy Farmer – Jacob Honeychurch
A Bush Spirit – Perri Eaton
A Traveller – David Elias

source and photos: Tripwire Theatre Inc and the official Hollow program

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

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