The Journey Begins

East Perth Cemetery

The image is of the East Perth Cemetery and the Purkis Family tomb

Welcome to Down Rabbit Holes.

Our site is called Down Rabbit Holes because I have been fascinated by family history for many years and the process of finding out who is who, what they did, where they did it and who they knew is much like exploring a rabbit warren.

We already have a lot of information about our families and will be posting it as we convert it to a format suitable for publication on WordPress.


©Megan Stevens 2018

Descendent Charts

Megan’s family history database now holds information on over 13,000 people including the wider interconnected family and people important to their stories. It is not possible to make this information available in the form of family trees and the like because these require programming and other infrastructure beyond the scope of the blog hosting service we use.

Nonetheless, understanding how all the people link up between generations and within generations is important to appreciating their stories. We have therefore constructed Descendent Charts for selected people in the Drake, Marshall, Benthall and Ayliff families using the Reunion genealogical software that Megan has used since the 1980s to hold her information.

These charts show summaries of the parents and children of various generations of these families. The families have been selected so that the charts follow the generations. The charts can be viewed concurrently so that the generational linkages can be explored.

The Stevens charts will come at another time.

The charts can be found under the new “CHARTS” item in the menu or you can click HERE

Glengallan Orchard being re-created

The following post has just been made to the Glengallan Homestead Facebook page. It will be lovely to see an orchard again similar to what was laid out in the 1850’s.

It will undoubtedly take some years before we see the fruits of their labour, but we look forward to the result.

NewsMail also published a story about the orchard on 4 September 2018 which can be found HERE

The Drakes in London

Having returned to England following the end of the Crimean War, the Drakes settled down to enjoying the many attractions of the centre of empire. They visited the big attractions of the time – the Crystal Palace, Wyld’s Great Globe, and Kew Gardens.

They also met and entertained their many acquaintances and friends from Western Australia, Tasmania, Canada, and the Crimea. They attended concerts, shows, and exhibitions. They attended lectures, including two by Henry’s friend, William Howard Russell of the Times, about his experiences in the Crimea.

Henry took an interest in the preaching of Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a popular, but controversial Baptist preacher of the time.

Their son, John, wrote to them telling them that he was getting married. His fiancé was Matilda Elizabeth Ormiston, whose grandmother, Elizabeth Fulloon, had been the first superintendent of the famous (in Australia at least) Parramatta Female Factory.

Their daughter, Charlotte Augusta Dring, also married during this period, to Charles Henry Marshall. There was much engagement between the Drakes and Marshalls, and the family even travelled to Devon to meet Charles’s relatives.

Not long after the Marshalls left for Australia, Henry was informed that he was to be posted to Gibraltar. While he waited, he managed to fit in attendance at the wedding of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, and the family enjoyed the annular eclipse of the sun. Henry, Louisa, and their youngest daughter, Laura, even attended a lecture to prepare themselves for it.

The military eventually came through and the family left for Gibraltar on 27 April 1858.

 

Megan has done an excellent job of researching all the events, places and people that Henry refers to. She has assembled a lot of information including contemporary pictures, photographs, and commentary of the events the Drakes attended. Together they provide insight into Victorian life, but with the added interest of a family connection. There is also a lot of information for those interested in the Marshalls of Glengallan.

This is a big article, but worth the read. It can be found HERE

Comments welcomed.


©Alun Stevens 2018

Another Glengallan Picture

The Australian Town and Country Journal printed an article on Glengallan on 19 June 1875. The article was accompanied by an engraving showing the homestead and the then new wool shed.

Someone clipped the engraving out of the Journal and carefully coloured it with what appears to be water colours to produce a very attractive view of the property.

The article provides a good description of the property and its workings so I have kept them together. Interesting reading. Good descriptions of the layout of the wool shed and the facilities for the cattle stud.

The painting has been included with the Martens, Lloyd and Marshall pictures and can be seen HERE.

The pictures are in chronological order so this one is at the bottom.


©Alun Stevens 2018

Did Charles Henry Marshall go to the Turon goldfields?

Nehemiah Bartley (pictured above left) was the brother-in-law of Edmund Barton, the first Australian Prime Minister. He travelled widely across Australia and in August 1851 went to the Turon goldfields in New South Wales. There he met “Marshall … and his West Indian friend, Davson.”

Some biographers have claimed that this was Charles Henry Marshall and that his efforts on the goldfields yielded the capital that allowed him to prosper at Glengallan where Bartley definitely did meet him and Charlotte in July 1858.

The link between the two meetings seems to have been made because Charles’s brother, William, was a cashier at the Bank of England, and the Marshall at Turon claimed to be the son of the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England.

The Chief Cashier of the Bank of England at the time was indeed a Marshall; Matthew Marshall (pictured above right). He was not related to Charles and William. So, did Bartley meet Charles? Or did he meet someone else?

It took some digging by Megan, but the true story is HERE

©Alun Stevens 2018

The Drake Family Bible Etc.

In our last post we indicated that we had been contacted by an antique dealer who had come into possession of a a collection of Drake family memorabilia including the Drake Family Bible. We bought the collection and it has now arrived.

We are slowly working through the material – collating, organising, photographing and scanning. There is quite a lot of stuff so this will take some time to complete. We have started with some of William Henry Drake’s awards and the family Bible.

The Bible is a lovely old leather bound book printed in 1747 in Oxford. A King James Bible in old English script and still in very good condition. The pages are still white and the leather is still smooth and flexible.

The fore and aft pages have been used to record births, deaths and marriages from 1743 through to the early 20th century mainly related to the families of the eldest sons of each generation. The fore pages are not in as good a condition as the rest of the book as they have become detached and worn where they have stuck out from under the cover. Nonetheless, they are legible and present some interesting genealogical information for those interested in the Drakes.

I have photographed and transcribed all of the fore and aft pages and have put them together here. Have a look and let us know what you think.


I have also photographed the “Warrant granting to Deputy Commissary General William Henry Drake the dignity rank and privileges belonging or appertaining to … Companions of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath.” Another interesting document. In flowing Victorian prose and prominently signed by Victoria herself (naturally), and also by Albert. Rather than create a new web page to display the document, I have added it to the existing page that discusses the award when Henry was in the Crimea. The award can be seen on the updated page here. If you click on the images, they will expand to full size.


©Alun Stevens 2018

Drake Collection

We having been watching the traffic to Down Rabbit Holes with some interest. Visitors from all over the world following up on our blogs and also now finding us via online searches and the links on the Crimean War Research Society web site. Visitors as expected from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States, but also from France, Greece, China, India and Canada amongst others.

On Tuesday we had an interesting visitor. Instead of just reading our material, he also contacted us to tell us that he had a collection of Drake family documents from a deceased estate and was looking for a home for them. The collection includes:

  • The Drake family Bible dating from 1747 with records of births and some deaths
  • The warrant from Queen Victoria granting William Henry Drake the rank of Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath
  • Photographs
  • Family letters
  • Many other things.

This was all too tempting so we have bought the collection and will know its full extent when it arrives in the near future. From what we have seen, there will be some interesting new information to add to the family story which we will publish in due course.

It is good to see the web site helping uncover these hidden collections because without it we would not have been visible on Google.

As we say on the Home page, family history is like exploring rabbit warrens.

Partridge and Walford

Banner is Cornelius Walford; Witham House; and grandfather Arthur Partridge Stevens’ serviette ring.

My grandfather’s name was Arthur Partridge Stevens and my great-grandfather’s name was Richard Walford Stevens. Why Partridge and Walford?

It seems likely that the second name, Walford, was derived from Cornelius Walford who was Richard Walford’s uncle and married to his mother’s sister at the time of his birth. A not uncommon naming practice at the time was to give a child its godparents’ surname as a second or third name. The likelihood, therefore, was that Cornelius (2 April 1827 – 28 September 1885) and Jane (neé Malyon; 1827 – 1 January 1863) Walford were Richard Walford’s godparents.

Cornelius was a very interesting person. He was clearly talented with a wide range of interests and aptitudes. He was involved with building societies and insurance in Witham and had an abiding interest in shorthand. He went on to become a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries (as I did 120 years later) with a significant career in insurance, including managing some significant companies of the day. He was also a Fellow of the Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Historical Society and a barrister. He published work for both Societies and the Institute including a year book on insurance.

It seems almost certain that Richard Walford named his son Arthur Partridge after his next eldest brother of the same names. Arthur Partidge died at the age of 22 in September 1878 on a steamer between Melbourne and New Guinea, at about the same time that Richard Walford arrived in South Africa. The question, therefore, is why Richard and Eliza Stevens named their third son Arthur Partridge at about the same time as Cornelius and Jane Walford named their first son Richard Partridge?

The likely source of the name is Robert Partridge who was a real estate and land agent of prominence in Witham. He and his wife occupied Witham House (57 Newland Street), a grand house with extensive land including a cricket pitch. He acquired the house from the Pattisson family who had built it in about 1750. Jacob Pattisson was a prominent merchant and well respected, but his great-grandson, also Jacob, was not of the same calibre. He was a solicitor and was, in 1852, publicly accused by Cornelius Walford of inappropriate dealings with the funds of the Witham Building Society. He survived this accusation, but in 1859 went bankrupt and fled Witham and Robert Partridge acquired Witham House.

Witham House is not far from Batsford (100 Newland Street, the Stevens family home) so it is probable that there was interaction between the families. The Partridge children were of similar ages to the Stevens children and later history shows a fairly close connection between the Stevens and Partridge boys involving cricket.

The likelihood, therefore, is that Robert and Jane Partridge were the godparents to Arthur Partridge.

©Alun Stevens 2018

The Drake Crimean Letters

My MA thesis was largely based on original letters written by William Henry Drake and his wife, Louisa, during the Crimean War. I also used a transcript of the Journal Drake kept during his time in the Crimea and after.

I have always felt that these letters should be made available to those who study the history of the Crimean War and to family historians interested in the Drake family. They provide a unique perspective on the conduct of the war from the viewpoint of a Commissariat officer, and also of the family interactions of that officer and the perspectives of his wife and daughter who joined him in the theatre of war.

I had toyed with the idea of trying to find a publisher, but wondered why any publisher would wish to publish such a large collection of letters, the subject matter of which has such a small audience, especially in this era of ebooks. That is why, having done all this work, I am thrilled to say that the Crimean War Research Society has agreed to publish them.

In transcribing the letters, I investigated all the places, events and especially people mentioned and have annotated the letters accordingly. I have also included ancillary documents, such as newspaper articles surrounding some of the events that occurred, as well as the evidence that Drake gave before the McNeill/Tulloch commission, and the Strathnairn committee of enquiry. These, I feel, provide context for the letters and will assist readers interpret and appreciate them.

The letters can be found here.

My thanks to web master Tom Muir for uploading the letters to the Crimean War Research Society web site.

©Megan Stevens 2018

More enjoyable times

On 21 February 1856, Henry was informed that he had been appointed a Companion of the Bath. He was justly proud of the award and in writing to his parents said, “I shall want a bit of ribbon, C.B. colour to put on my coat. So you see with my Red Ribbon, my Chevalier Cross and Medal & three Clasps, I shall make an imposing appearance!”

Louisa sewed “Henry’s Red Ribbon on his Coat” and wrote to Henry’s parents that she “thought it looked very well and I am not a little proud of it.”

The war was coming to an end and the Drake’s enjoyed entertainment, theatre and the Grand Races on the Tchernaya River which was a great festival reportedly attended by some 100,000 people.

Peace came with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 30 March 1856, but news only reached the Crimea on 2nd of April. Nonetheless, the Drakes attended the Great Ball on board the Bruiser on 31 March with Henry reported in the Illustrated London News as proposing the toast to the Captain and his wife.

More celebrations followed including an “excellent dinner” on board the Ottawa. The only sour note was that that night the Drakes’ stable burnt down singing Louisa’s horse, Jack.

The Drakes then went home via Kertch, but not before Louisa had “mustered Courage … to call on Miss Nightingale” who she regarded as “one of the Lions of the present day.” They stopped off in Constantinople, where Henry had some duties to attend to, and visited the tourist attractions. They eventually left on 21 July and arrived in London in early August and took up residence at 21 Regents Park Terrace where neighbours were to play a part in introducing their younger daughter Charlotte Augusta Dring to her future husband, Charles Henry Marshall.

The detailed description of these events can be found HERE

©Megan Stevens 2018

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