Australia Day Challenge – A Conditional Purchase Application

Shelley at Twigs of Yore has set herself a task for Australia Day, and a challenge for the rest of us:

Find the earliest piece of documentation you have about an ancestor in Australia. If you don’t have an Australian ancestor, then choose the earliest piece of documentation you have for a relative in Australia.

On Wednesday 26 January 2011 post your answers to these questions:

  1. What is the document?
  2. Do you remember the research process that lead you to it? How and where did you find it?
  3. Tell us the story(ies) of the document. You may like to consider the nature of the document, the people mentioned, the place and the time. Be as long or short, broad or narrow in your story telling as you like!

What document to choose? Which ancestor? The first one in Australia, or the first one born in Australia?

I’ve decided to go with one of my first arrivals into the colony of New South Wales but ignore the very first documents, which are the assisted immigrant passenger lists. These lists are easy to find – you search the online index at the State Records NSW website, and then you look up the microfilm. There are two lists, and if you are lucky your ancestor will appear in both. I posted a story a few years ago about how I found my Richard Eason’s mother’s mother from the ‘relative in the colony’ Richard gave when he immigrated, so I won’t repeat that here.

Instead I’d like to focus on what Richard did when he got here. He eventually became a farmer, and the first document I have for him that he actually signed is his application for a Conditional Purchase.

Conditional Purchases were introduced in 1862 as a way of getting small landholders on the land. They paid an initial deposit of %10 of the value of the land, and had to pay it off. The conditions were that they had to reside on the property, and they had to improve it – build a house, fences, etc. They could select land before it was surveyed, so by the time the surveyor came around there was often some improvements already built, which the surveyor often marked on the plan.

The land is 40 acres in the Parish of Graham, County of Bathurst, which is just north of the town of Blayney.

Conditional Purchase application form

State Records NSW: NSW Lands Department, Conditional Sales Branch, Correspondence files 1877-1951, NRS8103. Letter no. 71/5977.

I am inclined to think that Richard filled out this form himself, product of the Irish Education system as he was. He said he could read and write when he arrived in the colony in 1850, as did most of the people on the Oriental with him. The handwriting looks similar throughout, except for the signatures of others.

The form was also signed by Robert Ewin. Robert was Richard’s brother-in-law, Richard having married Esther Ewin in 1862. Robert also had land in this area, and Richard bought some of it from him later on.

When the survey was done the land was found to be slightly larger than the 40 acres, and Richard agreed to pay the extra.

Richard built a house on this land and raised his family in it, even though his wife died not long afterwards. His son John raised his own family there. John’s son Richard, my grandfather, sold the land and took the materials for his own building.

The process of finding this document was made easier by the fact that the Conditional Purchase number and Richard’s name was recorded on an old parish map:

Graham Parish map 1884 detail

NSW Lands Department, Historical Parish Maps. Bathurst County, Graham Parish, 1884. Detail showing Portion 199.

Once I had the Conditional Purchase number, CP71.252, I could go to State Records NSW at Kingswood and ask to see the Conditional Purchase Register for that year. From there I could trace the correspondence through the Correspondence Registers to find the documents. It sounds easy but it is quite time consuming, and easy to make mistakes.

On the map you can see many other names of the people that Richard must have known. Robert and William Ewin were his brothers-in-law. A sister-in-law married a Thornberry. All of them came from the same couple of parishes in County Tyrone in northern Ireland.

A couple of years ago I visited this land and saw the remains of the house. I have written about this previously. I met the current owner of the property, who gave me a photo of Richard’s son John Eason, my great-grandfather, that I had never seen before.

Fernside

Remains of the house at 'Fernside' near Blayney

I’ve traced many conditional purchases since then, but none have been as exciting as this first one!

Further information:
State Records NSW Archives in Brief No 93 – Background to conditional purchase of Crown land

My DNA results have arrived!

I have previously written about beginning my DNA adventures with a test with 23andMe, a company that focuses more on the health aspects of genetics than the genealogical aspects. They had an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I didn’t!

When I got up this morning there was an email to say that my genetic profile was ready. I had to go out and so couldn’t give this interesting news the attention that it deserved, until now. I’d like to write down my impressions as I go through the results.

The menu is split into three headings:

  • My Health
  • My Ancestry
  • Sharing and Community

The first thing I did before I left the house this morning was look for my mtDNA haplotype under My Ancestry. This is the one that sorts  you into migration groups from 10-50,000 years ago. Mine is X2b:

According to 23andMe haplogroup X2 is mostly found in southern Europe, Central Asia, and North America, with a few scattered populations in places like the Orkney Islands in Scotland. It is relatively rare in most of the populations in which it is found.

It’s nice to think that my haplogroup is relatively rare. We all like to think of ourselves as a bit special! I can trace my direct female line back five generations to Agnes Allan, who married William Stewart in Paisley, Scotland, in 1827, and died before William remarried and took his family to Auckland, New Zealand in 1842. So perhaps she was descended from the people who ended up in Orkney.

Other headings under My Ancestry are:

  • Relative Finder, which won’t have results for another week or so. Disappointing!
  • Paternal Line which is no good to me since I am not male and the paternal line can only be traced by the Y chromosome, which women do not have.
  • Ancestry Painting, which makes no sense to me at the moment. It has a diagram of some chromosomes and a key that shows different colours meaning different things if the chromosomes show those colours. My chromosomes show no colours, only grey bits, and apparently “Gray segments indicate regions where 23andMe’s genotyping chip has no markers.”
  • Global Similarity shows your similarity to groups of people from around the world. Check it out:

Global similarity map

Global similarity graphI am slightly more similar to the people of Oceania than to any of the Europeans. Apparently Oceania includes the people of Australia (ie, Aboriginals), New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, including New Zealand, but the sample only includes those from New Guinea. The sample dates from January 2008, which is a bit disappointing.

There is the opportunity to see the graph for others who have shared their profile with you, and those I can see have predominantly Northern Europeans and very little Oceania. That makes sense. Most of us in Australia, aside from the Aboriginal people, come from Europe.

My father, however, is a part-European Fijian. The Fijians are Melanesian, with some Polynesian where they associated with people from Tonga and other islands. So this result makes some sense.

When I have some time I will delve into these results in more detail to work out how they arrive at the conclusions they have.

Under the heading Sharing and Community are the tools for comparing your genes with those of relatives. So far I have shared my profile with two people, and I have no similarities with either of them. I will look at this category in more detail when it has something to show me.

The first heading, which I have left until last, is My Health. First up is Disease Risk.

The results for Parkinson’s Disease are locked, so that they can explain what the results mean, and don’t mean, before you see them. I think that’s a good idea. I have a scientific background and know that the percentages they are talking about are very small, but others may be unnecessarily concerned.

The other results are displayed in a long list, with the increased risk first, followed by decreased risk and then typical risk. The ones on the top of my list are no more than double the very low average incidence, which is heartening. I can then click on each one to find out more. Here are some of my ‘typical risks’:

Health typical risk

Where the results show a red and green arrow there are multiple markers associated with the condition, and I may have one or more of them.

It would be easy, I imagine, to use these results as an excuse to do nothing. If I see a graph that shows my risk of heart attack is greater than average I might resign myself to the fact and keep living on fatty foods and no exercise (which I don’t – it’s hypothetical). Or I could make some changes to counteract the predisposition in my genes.

Each item on the list also gives a ‘confidence rating’, the stars, based on the number of studies that have been done and the number of participants in the studies.

I have a slightly higher risk of developing asthma, based on one of three markers for which studies have been done. The studies are listed and described, with the type of population and numbers of subjects described. I actually do suffer from asthma.

Carrier status to certain conditions has a similar layout. I’ll have a good look at that later.

Drug response will also take some time to digest. I am likely to be a fast metaboliser of caffeine, which I gave up some years ago, and I have typical results for most other items on the list.

Traits looks interesting. I don’t have the muscle performance of a world-class sprinter, nor am I resistant to malaria or HIV/AIDS. I am likely to have brown eyes (correct) and to have straighter hair (correct, despite my father having frizzy black hair).

That’s enough for now. It will take some time to go into this more thoroughly. My initial reaction is positive, and I’m glad I spent the $99.

Image courtesy of Chris Harvey at Dreamstime.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Home

Week 4: Home. Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today?

I wonder how many of us lived in the same house all through childhood? I didn’t. I lived in four different houses from when I was born until I finished school and left home. I don’t remember one of them; I was too young and we weren’t there long.

My first houseThe first house that I remember was in Carss Park, in southern Sydney. It was underneath the flight path and I remember planes flying over and scaring my younger sister. It was close enough to the local school that we could walk, and we had to climb up a lane through to the street behind to get there.

I don’t remember much about inside the house, except for the front hall, where I lost the key to my teddy bear in between the floor boards and the front step. I was devastated! I also remember the lounge room with a green sofa. I vaguely remember the doors to the bedrooms but not the rooms themselves. I shared a room with my sister and remember her waking up in the night. The front of the house was a verandah that had been closed in, according to my Dad. I don’t remember it being anything other than the room where my Nanna lived, although she didn’t always live there.

It had a great backyard for young kids to play in, and a patio with crazy paving that we used to roll marbles on. There are lots of photos of us in the backyard, and I’ve just realised that this one, of my Nanna and three of us kids, is back to front. I scanned it from a negative and I couldn’t tell which way it went, but I’m pretty sure there should be a shed in the back corner.

Looking at the house now on Google Maps I can see it has a swimming pool and most of the yard is gone. It seems to be a much bigger house than it was, taking up the full width of the block, although I can see the flat roof of the garage so that must still be there in some form.

My house on Google Maps My husband and I drove by there a few years ago and the strange rounded front of the house had been built over. Now I can see it on Street View and it looks a bit run down, as do the others in the street. The house next door that the strange old lady lived in has been replaced by a castle that looks totally out of place. The house is only a couple of blocks from the beach on Kogarah Bay so I’m a bit surprised that the areas looks as depressed as it is. Perhaps the houses are too small. Ours must have had only two bedrooms until Dad closed in the front verandah, and who wants a two-bedroom house?

I prefer to remember the house as it was.

When I was six we moved to Dubbo, to the house I showed in the previous post. This is the house I think of as The House I Grew Up In. I still dream about it.

Our house

Dubbo is hot in summer and that house was sometimes unbearably hot. The room I shared with my sister was built on after the rest of the house and had a tin roof that made it hotter than the rest of the house. I can remember lying in bed at night with the curtains pushed aside waiting for the slightest breeze to come in the window.

In winter it was cold, and we had a fire, and later a oil heater. It had three bedrooms and one bathroom, smaller than the house I live in now, although the rooms were bigger. My brothers shared one room and my mother had the master bedroom. My brothers’ room had two entrances so you could walk through from the dining room to the bathroom and Mum’s room. Houses are designed differently now and it is rare to walk through a bedroom to get to other parts of the house, but I remember other houses with similar layouts.

It had a large front verandah and a huge back yard that my brothers played cricket in. We had chooks and a succession of dogs, and a cat who lived inside with us. She used to lurk under the armchairs and pounce on my sister and me as we went past in the morning.

The house is still there, also looking a bit run down on Google’s Street View.

The last house I lived in was outside Dubbo. I don’t seem to have any pictures of it that don’t show people who may not want to be displayed here. My Mum bought a farm with her brother. He bred race horses on it, and we lived in the house. I lived there for a grand total of three months. The family moved house in November while I was doing my Higher School Certificate exams, so I stayed at a friend’s place until they were over. I was accepted into the University of Sydney and started in early March, so from then on I had my own place in Sydney and just visited Dubbo on holidays. It was a big farm house with high ceilings, bits built on to the main house, a verandah around one side, and metal kitchen cupboards.

Mum moved back into town a few years later. She bought my friend’s house that I had stayed in while I was doing exams. What are the odds?