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.
The story of Megan’s and my shared ancestors can be found in our article Shared Ancestors and Shared Experiences. Whilst this is fascinating, it does not show all the complexity of our family linkages. Mere descriptions cannot adequately portray the extent of the complexity which was impressed on me when I tried to construct the family trees that I used in the article. I was forced to keep only the simple and direct lines of connection and present only those people who I discussed. But I still needed multiple descendant charts just for the main family connections.
I wanted to put everything together so that the true complexity and extent of the interconnectedness could be seen at a glance, but the family tree applications are not up to the task, and the online services are even less useful. There are just too many cross linkages in our families: cousin marriages; multiple children of a marriage separately linking to us; these children linking at different generational levels; people marrying multiple times with children from each family linking to us; these linkages being at different generational levels.
I turned to a package that is used for genetic mapping and analysis. This suffers a little from the opposite problem to the family tree packages in that it is designed for analysing massively complex networks and doesn’t have the most elegant charting interface. Nonetheless, it was able to arrange the families and generations into optimised layouts with the least overlapping which I could then adjust to get more readable images.
I have constructed two layouts. The first replicates, as far as possible, the standard hierarchical network that is usually used to show ancestral lineages. Megan and I are at the top with earlier generations in layers below us getting wider and wider as we go down thirteen generations. The second shows us at the centre (more or less) of a spider web of ancestors clustered in families with the earlier generations further and further from us. The first is better for visualising the generational linkages. The second is better for visualising the familial linkages.
Both trees are too complicated to lay out for a web page so they are presented in PDF files. If you click on the links below, they will open in a browser window and allow you to see the overall structure. Most browsers, however, will not allow you to zoom in far enough to see all the detail. For this you will need to download the file to your computer and then use Adobe Acrobat Reader (PC or Mac) or Preview (Mac). You can do this by saving the image open in your browser. Every browser does this differently so I leave it to you to figure it out. You can also right click on the links below and select the Save/Download option.
The hierarchical family tree
can be found HERE (PDF)
Right click to download
The clustered family tree
can be found HERE (PDF)
Right click to download
The information is presented in successive layers of Parents/Couple/Children using boxes and arrows as below.
Dates are birth years.
Red stars highlight interesting ancestors who appear in the discussion.
The grey ellipses highlight individuals who were either slaves, people of colour, or illegitimate. The detail is in the square brackets:
* – a parent of colour
S – a Slave
I – Illegitimate.
Megan’s and my mothers are just shown as “wife” because their maiden names are used as security questions. (The times we live in?!)
The layout is pyramidal rather than the usual square layout because it goes down to thirteen generations before us. The lower levels would be far too wide with a square layout. The structure is quite well ordered down to Level 8 below us when connections start crossing generations and linking the right (Megan’s ancestors) to the left (my ancestors). Levels 9 and 10 are then a spider-web of cross hatchings which thin out in Level 11, mainly due to us not being able to trace all the ancestors back to this level.
The complexity of the interlinkages can be seen by considering the Snyman family that is used in the example above. If you open the hierarchical family tree, you will find them at the bottom in the middle. Their story is here. Christoffel Snyman was born illegitimately as a slave to Catharina van Paliacatta. He was freed when his mother was freed and he was legitimised when his mother then married. He, in turn, married the aristocratic Marguerite de Savoye and they are shown at Level 12 with connection lines radiating upwards cutting across the ordered structure.
Their daughter, Elsje Snyman (born 1697) connects to both Megan and me. She married Jacobus Botha (born 1692) and their daughter, Catharina Botha (born 1714), married Marthinus Jacobus van Staden (born 1706). The Van Staden’s linkage to both of us is discussed here. Their daughter, Catharina Maria (born 1739) links to me via the Ferreira’s making Elsje Snyman my 8th great-grandmother by this route.
Their older daughter, Aletta Maria (born 1731), links to Megan via her marriage to Johannes Lombard (born 1725). He was the son of Elsje Snyman’s younger sister, Johanna Snyman (born 1699), who had married Anthonie Lombard (born 1693). One sister’s son married the other sister’s granddaughter. Aletta Maria and Johannes Lombard link to the Bruwers, the Van Eedens, and Megan’s Ouma via their daughter Aletta Lombard (born 1752). Johanna Snyman is Megan’s 7th great-grandmother by this route, and her sister, Elsje Snyman, is Megan’s 8th great-grandmother.
Their youngest sister, Elizabeth Snyman (born 1706), interestingly, is Megan’s 5th great-grandmother via her marriage to Jan Hendrik van Helsdingen (born 1696) and the marriage of their daughter, Anna Susanna (born 1740), to Christman Joël Ackermann (born 1728) and then on to Megan’s Oupa.
As a result of this, Christoffel and Marguerite Snyman are independently Megan’s 6th, 8th, and 9th great-grandparents, and my 9th great-grandparents! Lots of cross links just from one couple.
This layout does not attempt to keep track of the generations. It is designed to show the linkages within and between families. Linkages that span the breadth of the hierarchical chart, like Elizabeth Snyman, are frequently close to each other in this chart format.
The software has arranged the family groups around the end point – Megan and me – with the minimum of cross linkages across the chart. We can be found towards the bottom left with a red circle to highlight us.
The high level view shows that the connections within the family groups are fairly well ordered as are those between families that are closely associated like the Rossouws and Van Eedens, and the Mullers and Ferreiras. My ancestors are mainly down in the bottom right while Megan’s, much more extensive group, fills the top half of the diagram.
The more complex interlinkages criss cross across the centre of the diagram. For instance, the Potgieters near the middle who link to the families on both the left and the right. The Bothas and Van Stadens are also key linkage points and do the same.
Megan and I are 8th cousins because of our shared 7th great-grandparents, Johannes (Jan Harmensz) Potgieter (1674-1733), Marthinus Jacobus van Staden (1706-1746) and his wife Catharina Botha (1714-1781). As I indicated in my last post, there is more to tell because there are interesting people with colourful stories associated with these ancestors. I have spent a few weeks putting those stories together.
The stories go back to the earliest years of European settlement at the Cape in the mid 1600s for which there are surprisingly good records. The records required some hard work in order to extract the stories because quite a few are in Old Dutch script and use an antiquated Dutch language. The perseverance was worth it and has revealed a rich group of characters.
The most impressive amongst them are the young slave women taken to the Cape from India, Madagascar and Africa. Yes, we have slaves as ancestors. Some died young. Most survived their enslavement and went on to prosper and to found a number of prominent Afrikaans families. Also impressive were the contemporary attitudes that allowed these ex-slaves to take their place in society. One was granted a block of land on what is now Castle Street in the middle of the Cape Town CBD. One owned Camps Bay. Another owned Groot Constantia.
There is the free settler from Cologne who received one of the first grants of land, but was murdered just outside the Castle on what is now the Grand Parade.
There is the rifleman from Rotterdam, with a green thumb, who married the murdered man’s thirteen year-old daughter, but only after he had fathered a child with a slave at Groote Schuur. You guessed it. He was a Van der Merwe. But not a Koos.
There is the young man, born a slave to a slave mother, who married an aristocratic Huguenot woman and had to rescue other Huguenot ancestors from a murdering soldier who took them hostage.
There is the young man’s father, a soldier from Germany, who kept running foul of the law and was banished to Robben Island.
There is the young man’s mother who washed Jan van Riebeeck’s clothes.
There is adultery and divorce and some very choice language.
There are ancestors that we don’t share, who jointly helped an Empress grieve the death of her son.
The stories are intertwined and complicated in places, but I have provided them with references and links to maps that hopefully help explain them and put them in context. Thanks to the internet, I was also able to source a number of fascinating old maps and pictures from the Netherlands Rijksmuseum and Nationaal Archief that provide a contemporaneous flavour to the stories.
Please have a look HERE and let me know what you think.
The old Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk at Glen Lynden built in 1828 by Thomas Pringle.
Despite my distinctly British heritage, my great-grandmother’s ancestry provides a link to the earliest settlers in South Africa; some European; some not; some free citizens; some not. My great-grandmother was baptised Catharina Louiza Norton in the Dutch Reformed church at Komga in the far Eastern Cape province. Her father, Benjamin Norton, was born in South Africa to Jewish 1820 Settlers. He converted to Christianity and married Aletta Maria Muller, a young woman with a long Afrikaans pedigree. Tracing this pedigree has been fascinating, but quite complicated.
We initially struggled with tracing the ancestors. The Suid-Afrikaanse Geslagsregister (South African Genealogical Register) (SAG) proved very helpful. SAG was the product of a project of the Department of Home Affairs to map the familial connections of the Afrikaans population of South Africa using church records. This showed Aletta Maria’s parents as Cornelis Johannes Muller and Agatha Catharina Ferriera and provided links from them right back to the original Muller and Ferreira settlers in the early 1700’s – the Stamvaders. With Megan having links to the same founding families, we established that we are in fact related.
This was wonderful, but problems soon began to emerge with the narrative. Agatha Catharina could not have been the second wife of the Cornelis Johannes nominated for her, because his first wife was reliably recorded as having married a second time, as a widow, and having a second family whose descendants clearly exist. There were also doubts as to Agatha Catharina’s parentage. Generations of Ferreira descendants show her as being the daughter of a different Ferreira father and mother than SAG does. All very confusing and annoying and would Megan and I still share ancestors?
I had researchers photograph documents in the South African National Archives. I visited all the websites – eGGSA, Ancestry, Geni etc. I interrogated the people who maintained family trees and profiles. None was able or willing to provide solid documentary evidence to support their propositions. Agatha Catharina’s parentage, however, began to firm up as being Thomas Ignatius Ferreira and Aletta Maria Potgieter. Naming conventions would have seen Aletta Maria Muller named after her maternal grandmother so this seemed quite probable, and there was a convenient gap in the family tree in SAG. This link, however, brought the quandary of Agatha Catharina’s sister, Susannah Elizabeth, who is well documented everywhere as also marrying a Cornelis Johannes Muller, but with some commentators suggesting that this Cornelis Johannes was actually the one who had married Agatha Catharina. This was just more confusion.
The second is the death record for Cornelis Johannes Muller who died in 1844 on the farm Mak Fontein in the Somerset district of the Cape. It shows that he was married to Agatha Catharina Ferreira and was born in 1812 to Cornelis Johannes Muller and Johanna Catharina van Rooy(en). This is the Cornelis Johannes Muller who is shown in SAG and on virtually all the websites as having married Susannah Elizabeth Ferreira. They all have it wrong.
The third is the marriage record for Susannah Elizabeth Ferreira and Cornelis Johannes Muller who were married in 1841. This provided the second confirmation that the Cornelis Johannes Muller everyone was showing as Susannah Elizabeth’s husband could not have been so. The record shows that both parties to the marriage were Minderjarig (Under Aged) – ie less than 21 years old. On the wedding date, the nominated Cornelis Johannes, born as he was in 1812, would have been almost 29 years old and therefore definitely not Under Age. Susannah Elizabeth’s husband was clearly one of the many other Cornelis Johannes Mullers living in the area at the time.
We knew that Agatha Catharina’s and Cornelis Johannes’s second child, Cornelis Johannes, was baptised in the Anglican church at Port Elizabeth. The collection yielded the baptismal records of their younger children; all at the old church at Glen Lynden (near modern day Bedford) where they would have been baptised by the Scottish dominee, Alexander Welsh. These showed an extra daughter not recorded on any of the websites or on Cornelis Johannes’s death notice. She clearly died as a young child.
Their oldest child, Aletta Maria, was born in the Gamtoos River area south-west of Port Elizabeth on 3 October 1832 – ten days before her parents were married with her mother just 15 years old!
The confirmed marriage and parentage of Agatha Catharina has allowed us to revisit the connections between Megan and me. Looking back over twelve generations we have a number, because there was only a small population pool which intermarried extensively – especially amongst the French Huguenots to whom we are both connected. Our closest common ancestors are our shared seventh-great-grandparents, Johannes (Jan Harmensz) Potgieter (1674-1733), Marthinus Jacobus van Staden (1706-1746) and his wife Catharina Botha (1714-1781).
We are officially 8th cousins.
More to come. There are some interesting characters.
After posting this, I examined all the death notices for Cornelis Johannes Mullers and found one for 1860 showing Susannah Elizabeth Ferreira as his wife. The notice named his parents and gave his age, which enabled me to find his baptismal record. He was born in April 1822 which would have made him just 19 at his wedding in April 1841. His father was also Cornelis Johannes Muller and his mother was Anna Margaretha Vogel. So we had two Ferreira sisters who both married Cornelis Johannes Mullers each of whose father was also Cornelis Johannes Muller. To make it even more complicated, my Cornelis Johannes’s grandfather was yet another Cornelis Johannes Muller. No wonder there was confusion as to who was who.
I can’t fix SAG. I have fixed the Geni website and have tried to fix the Ancestry website, but to no avail.
Megan came upon a blog post by Philip Boys regarding an intriguing side-story to the Crimean War. The image is a photograph by Roger Fenton taken during the siege of Sevastopol in 1855 of two Russian boys with Colonel Brownrigg. The boys were nicknamed ‘Alma’ and ‘Inkermann’.
The one standing holding the tent pole, ‘Inkermann’, real name Simeon Paskiewitch, was taken back to England where he adopted the surname Sinca. After this photograph was published in 1901, Simeon’s son came forward and this resulted in Simeon being interviewed:
“I remember quite well that photo being taken; it was before Sebastopol, forty-six years ago.”
“After the battle of Alma, when the English, French and Turkish soldiers got into Balaclava, the Russian farmers became frightened, and ran inside the walls of Sebastopol, leaving the grape crops behind them. We boys got out and began picking the grapes, but one day we saw some English soldiers in front of us. We all ran away, and I and the other little one in the picture got under a big tub. Here we had to stay in fright all night and part of the next day. In the afternoon one of the soldiers came across our poor old tub and knocked it over, and there was a surprise for him to see us two frightened little nippers.”
Mr Sinca (or Paskiewitch) went on to tell how they were let go, and were chased and ill-treated by Turks, and finally got into English hands again, and were taken care of by Colonel (then Captain) Brownrigg.
Mr Sinca says he was brought to England and educated at St Mark’s School, Windsor, eventually entering the service of the Earl of Pembroke, where he has been for thirty years.
It is this reference to St Mark’s School (“the Working Class Eton“) that provides the interesting link for us because St Mark’s was founded by Rev. Stephen Hawtrey M.A. who was Vicar at Holy Trinity Church, Windsor, and eventually Head of Mathematics at Eton College. He also took Simeon, and other boys, on trips to HMS Pembroke and the Suffolk seaside.
Stephen Hawtrey was also the person who Charles Henry Marshall and Charlotte Augusta Dring Drake chose to marry them in 1857. The Hawtrey and Marshall families were linked over many generations and Charles and Stephen were second cousins. Charles and Charlotte named their second son Hawtrey.
I have also found another point of connection. Simeon Sinca was a seaman in his early years. He was an apprentice aboard The Florence Nightingale from 1863 – 1868 and his first voyage was to Melbourne. The interesting link is that Charles Henry Marshall in a letter dated 4 March 1874 indicated that he was shipping new wool bales to his partner at Glengallan “per ‘Florence Nightingale’ for Brisbane”.
The fascinating story of ‘Alma’ and ‘Inkermann’ can be found HERE
Charles Henry Marshall and his siblings had eventful early lives. Their parents, William Marshall and Louisa Bentall, married in 1810, just prior to moving to Cape Town where they had four children. They then moved to Mauritius where they had five more children. Only six of the children lived to adulthood, and the family story was that three of those born in Cape Town, Mary, John and Charles, died as infants.
Louisa died in 1823 in Mauritius, after which the family relocated to Leith, Scotland, where William also died in 1828 without leaving a will. The family stories were that this left the children destitute and they had to be supported by their wider family.
William’s probate documents revealed a very different story and prompted further research that provided a lot more information on the family’s time in Cape Town and Mauritius, their return to England, and the support the children received from their wider family after being orphaned in 1828.
From this we see that, although Charles Henry Marshall had travelled the world by the time he was ten and had suffered a great deal of family upheaval, he was still given a solid foundation for life. And there is a link to Burke and Wills.
The probate documents (with transcriptions) and the corrected family story, including some fascinating documents from the Benthall family archive, can be found HERE
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 Descendant 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
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
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.
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