Monday, 18 February 2013

Making a fresh start down under

I'm aiming to include here some stories I've come across in the course of my CLOSE one-name study, and to start off, here's a brief history of John CLOSE of Bourne, Lincolnshire, who made a bad start in life but seems to have done pretty well for himself in the end! 

born           1816                  Bourne, Lincolnshire
married      16 Nov 1835     Esther SMITH,  Bourne, Lincs
married      21 Jul 1848       Sophia SMALL, Camden, NSW
died            19 Apr 1873     Bob's Range, Camden, NSW  

John Close, labourer, of Bourne, Lincolnshire, was tried at the Kesteven Sessions, Bourne, on 3 April 1838, aged 23. [England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1838, County of Lincoln, F559] He was accused of three offences: 
  • stealing one earthen pancheon, the property of John Phillips 
    [listedwebassets/JCBourneItems.GIF in 1841 as a grocer] of Bourne;
  • breaking and entering the shop of William Watson of Bourne and stealing 5 loaves of bread, a pound's weight each of cheese, tobacco, tea, sugar, candles, "and other articles";
  • stealing 13 fowls, the property of John Osborn  [Probably the farmer living at Austerby, Bourne, in 1841]
and convicted of "burglary, simple"  [ England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1838, County of Lincoln, F559] . He was sentenced to 10 years' transportation.

webassets/prisoner.GIFHe was held awaiting transportation in the prison hulk Ganymede [prison hulk: a decommissioned ship used as a floating prison - see]. This was originally the French frigate Hébé, captured in 1809, converted into a prison hulk in 1819 and broken up shortly after John was moved on in 1838. The Ganymede hulk records state that John was "received from the gaol at Lincoln on 3 May 1838, having been convicted of stealing soap, candles etc.".  It was noted that he was a labourer, had a wife and one child, and could read, although there was no indication that he could write.  The 'gaoler's report' describes him as having been "several times convicted of poaching, character very bad, connections very indifferent."

It is believed that John's wife, Esther, died [GRO Death Index 1838 Q3 Bourn 14 163 - Esther CLOSE] while he was awaiting transportation. The child was possibly Louisa CLOSE, b 1835, recorded in the 1841 census [HO107/615/21 F47 P35]  living with William and Ann SMITH and family, who may have been Esther's parents. 

John was transported to New South Wales on the convict ship John Barry, which set sail on
12 November 1838. [Australian Convict Transportation Register 1837-1838 HO11/11 F192]  It was a 520-ton sailing ship, on its 4th voyage as a convict transport, captained by Mr John Robson.  It arrived at Sydney Cove, NSW (located between the present-day Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge) on 22 March 1839.
Things seem to have looked up once he reached Australia.  Convicts who stayed out of trouble could be eligible for Tickets of Leave, similar to today's parole or probation arrangements. John received a ticket of leave [44/1134 and 45/1396] to remain in the Camden district of New South Wales.  

webassets/NSW.GIFOn 21 July 1848, at the age of 32, having completed his 10-year sentence, he married 16-year-old Sophia SMALL at St John's, Camden, New South Wales, who presented him over the next 22 years with 11 children, 10 of whom survived into adulthood and married.  As a result John and his descendants have made a substantial contribution to the population of New South Wales. 

John died on 19 April 1873 at Bob's Range, Camden, New South Wales, aged 57.  The CLOSE one-name study has records of 127 of John's descendants in Australia named CLOSE - and his five daughters and many granddaughters added even more branches bearing other surnames to the family tree.
John's wife Sophia lived to the grand old age of 89, and when she died in 1920, her obituary [Obituaries Australia -] mentioned her origins (born in Sussex, emigrated as a child) but was understandably silent about her husband's early life, saying only "Both were very highly respected residents."  So it seems he turned out well in the end!


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Here's a brief report on how far this CLOSE one-name study has progressed so far.  England & Wales data collection so far includes complete census data from 1841, 1851, 1871, 1891, 1901 and 1911, and BMDs 1837-1950.  I also have almost 3,000 England & Wales christenings, over 700 pre-1837  marriages and around 300 burials in my database.

When it comes to the rest of the world, my collection looks much more sparse, compared to the amount of information out there.  Co-researchers in other parts of the world - particularly the USA, Australia and New Zealand - are urgently needed!  Let's crack this together!

It's my intention to post here not just statistical information, but some stories about notable CLOSEs from various locations and historical periods. Pictured here is James CLOSE (1900-1971) of Horwich, Lancashire. If there's someone you think deserves a mention, then do let me know!

Have a look at my Guild of One-Name Studies profile page here: