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How to find your ancestors' early Victorian land records

Bill Barlow
18 November 2019
GSV News


If you are quick you can book in to hear from Ken Smith and learn how to go about finding early Victorian land records.


This coming Thursday 21 November 12.00 - 1.00 pm. at GSV Research Centre.

Go HERE for details and to book. Places still available if you are quick.


$5 GSV members. $20 non-members. FHC, RHSV and CAV members should contact the GSV for a 25% discount.

Bookings are required and can be made online, by email, in person or by telephone (Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Joint members please book in separately if both attending.


Our guest speaker Ken Smith OAM is a long-time member of the Port Phillip Pioneers Group (PPPG). Ken has researched early records of the Port Phillip District. He has scrutinised all the land transactions in the Port Phillip District from the time of the first land sales on 1 June 1837 until 1851 with the aim of finding where people lived.


Ken was involved in PPPG through his research into his great-great-grandparents, Godfrey and Miriam (Levy) Alexander. They were married in Geelong's first Jewish wedding ceremony in May 1850. Godfrey had arrived in Melbourne in 1837 as a free settler to join his older brother, Raphael. They established drapery businesses in Portland, Geelong and Godfrey was a leading member of the Jewish communities in both Melbourne and Sydney.


Ken's museum-related interests are in museum and collection management utilising volunteer resources and he has assisted the Museum services of NSW and Queensland. Since retirement, he has been involved with the Parramatta & District Historical Society and its 1824 Macarthur-built historic house museum, Hambledon Cottage. In 2004 he received a Certificate of Achievement from the Royal Australian Historical Society. Ken was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2010 New Years Honours for service to the community through the Parramatta and District Historical Society and through Museums and Galleries New South Wales. 


You can read more about the Port Phillip Pioneers Group https://portphillippioneersgroup.org.au



Correction to 'E partimmo!' talk and Vic/Tas Discussion Circle notice

Bill Barlow
13 November 2019
GSV News

CORRECTION to earlier post on 'E partimmo'

The coming talk on Saturday 15 November - 'E partimmo. We left' - at GSV International Settlers Group is, of course, open to all ISG members, even if not GSV members. Non-ISG, GSV members and others are also invited. See details about the ISG on the website.



Friday 22 November - 10.30 am-12 noon

One of the very active, new GSV groups is the Victorian Tasmanian Discussion Circle.

At their final meeting for the year the topic will be:


 'Where to find all the records you need for your research'

 with a small presentation by group participant Michael Considine.



Afterwards they will be having an End of Year Lunch.

Where: RACV Club 501 Burke Street Melbourne

All members of the Vic Tas Discussion Circle are invited to an end of year lunch in the bistro of the RACV Club in Queen St Melbourne. (Walking distance from the GSV). 

Membership of this Circle is limited to GSV members. (So join up quick).


The Circle Convener advises:

RSVP essential! Please email the convener at victas@gsv.org.au or ruthie.wirtz@gmail.com if you’re able to attend the lunch. A booking for 20 people has been made and all non-members of the RACV Club will need to be signed in. So we will meet at the rear entrance off Little Collins Street). 
All diets catered for and at reasonable cost. Please bring cash on the day to make for ease of paying the bill. 


I hope to see many of you there to celebrate the end of year.


Ruthie Wirtz




Two young boys sent back to England from India : an 1857 mystery solved

The 'Sutlej' by William Foster (Royal Museums Greenwich PAH 0600)
Bill Barlow
13 November 2019
British India

Mary Anne Gourley tells this research story from the GSV's British India Discussion Circle, of the return of two young boys from India to England in 1857.  

See more about this group for GSV Members HERE.



The August meeting of our group proved successful for Laurette McWhirter in overcoming a frustrating brick wall and finding long sort information regarding two young ancestors.


Laurette was anxious to confirm the arrival in the UK of the two young boys sent back from India at the beginning of 1857 after their mother’s death. I should add here that their father died in the fighting not long after their departure.


During the voyage the boys were under the care of a Mrs Balfour; also returning to England with her children. Confirmation came years later when the boys' maternal grandfather filed an affidavit in a family court case detailing their safe arrival.


In her research, Laurette had found information that two ships left India in February 1857 both carrying a Mrs Balfour accompanied by children: The Agamemnonwith Mrs Balfour & three children, the Sutlej with Mrs Balfour & four children.


FIBIS database list the Agamemnondeparting 8 February and the Sutlejdeparting 5 February. 19th Cen Periodicalsfound on NLA website also has this same information.


We solved this mystery using British Library Newspaper Archive(available at the GSV) and the newspaper Homeward Mail from India. Appearing on the same page are the passenger arrivals for May 1857: the Agamemnonwith Mr & Mrs Balfour and three children as passengers disembarking at Gravesend on 23 May and the Sutlej arriving three days later includes the name of Mrs Balfour and two children. 


But we knew from both the FIBIS database and 19th Cen Periodicals that there were four children accompanying Mrs Balfour. The mystery was solved when we scrolled to the end of the passenger list, which gives details of accompanying older children including ‘two Master McWhirter’.


Having succeeded in solving this brick wall for Laurette let’s see if we can solve others at our final meeting for 2019 on 19 November.


Mary Anne Gourley

Convener British India Discussion Circle




Image of the ship Sutlej, coloured lithograph by the artist William Foster, used with permission of Royal Museums Greenwich, UK. Object PAH 0600 [CC BY-NC-ND].

'E Partimmo. We Left'

'E partimmo'
Bill Barlow
11 November 2019



The International Settlers Group invites all GSV members to a talk given by Angela Scarino and Antonio Mercurio. Their book - E Partimmo. We left- tells the story of immigrants from one village in Italy from 1927 to 2004.


Saturday 16 November 2019 - 1.00 pm - 3.30 pm 

GSV Meeting Room, Level 6, 85 Queen Street, Melbourne.


Angela Scarino, Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of South Australia, and Antonio Mercurio, educational consultant, share the same background: Their parents came to Australia from the little town of San Giorgio La Molara, near Benevento. They have published a book dedicated to the community of Sangiorgesi, which started with the arrival of eight men back in 1927 and now counts around 4,000 people - more than the current inhabitants of San Giorgio.

We Left. E Partimmo was written by interviewing around 30 Sangiorgesi living in Adelaide and is a veritable labour of love.


This collection of narratives and photographs of the Sangiorgesi in South Australia chronicles the migration of hundreds of people who left their home, San Giorgio la Molara, a village in the Campania region of southern Italy, and settled in Adelaide, South Australia. 


This presentation is for ISG members, GSV Members and others.

Note the building is closed on Saturday but call 9662 4455 on arrival if necessary and a volunteer will come down to admit you.





Writing about our entwined lives? Hear acclaimed author Richard Broome Nov 15

Bill Barlow
2 November 2019
GSV News


An exciting event has been added to the GSV’s calendar. On 15 November Dr Richard Broome, the President of the Royal Historical Society, will talk about his recent book Entwined Lives, (David Donnan with Richard Broome) a family history story.


This presentation will discuss the post research challenge: how do we write to be read? What strategies do we adopt, what voice do we assume, what book do we imagine we might write?


Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Richard talk about translating family history research into a book that will be treasured by your descendants. Be quick to book!


Check the GSV website for details. Bookings are required and will need to be made in person at GSV, L6 / 85 Queen St Melbourne or by telephone (03) 9662 4455 (Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Joint members please book in separately if both attending. Maximum 35 attendees.


Nov 15 - 12.30 - 1.30 pm

At: GSV - L6 / 85 Queen St Melbourne



Our presenter


Richard Broome, Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Emeritus Professor in History at La Trobe University, is President of the RHSV, Chair of its Publications Committee, and Patron of the History Teacher’s Association of Victoria. He has authored fourteen books; two of them prize winners. He was the lead editor of the RHSV’s successful Remembering Melbourne 1850-1960(2016, 2017) and is leading another book project by the RHSV to be launched in November 2019 called Melbourne’s Twenty Decades. Richard’s last book published in Australia and India, Naga Odyssey: Visier’s Long Way Home (2017) was co-written with Visier Meyasetsu Sanyü. He has also just published Mallee Country: Land, People, History (2019) with co-authors Charles Fahey, Andrea Gaynor and Katie Holmes, and his fifth edition of Aboriginal Australians: A History Since 1788, is due in November 2019.


180 years on descendants of immigrants on the ship 'David Clark' are gathering next Sunday

Ship 'David Clark' coming into the harbour at Malta, 1820 by Nicolas Cammillieri (courtesy: Lance Pymble)
Bill Barlow
20 October 2019
GSV News
Scottish Ancestry



Many families arrange get-togethers of their descendants, but next Sunday there is a gathering with a difference. 


180 years later descendants of immigrants from the ship David Clark are gathering next Sunday October 27 to celebrate this anniversary.


Descendants of those passengers are invited to attend a reunion on Sunday, 27 October 2019 at Gulf Station, Yarra Glen, Victoria.


The David Clark was the first ship to bring assisted immigrants direct to Port Phillip in October 1839. All were Scots and many settled in the Upper Yarra valley including William Bell, who once owned Gulf Station, an historic National Trust farm.


As part of the welcome, a poem will be read that was written by Christine Mawdesley (a McEwin descendant) for the 1939 celebrations of the 100th anniversary, and a bagpiper will play “Lochaber No More” the lament that was played by John Arthur as the ship sailed from Greenock 13 June 1839, then a tree will be planted.


You can book by email now to davidclark1839@gmail.com or HERE https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=542336


We wish all descendants a great day.




Want to know more about the history?


This article was prepared from information provided by Irene Kearsey. Irene is a GSV Member, and a volunteer at PROV and Gulf Station. For more information you can read her article: 

'La Trobe's first Immigrants: Passengers from the David Clark 1839' by Irene Kearsey in Journal of the C J La Trobe Society. vol 17 no. 2 July 2018, pp 16-21 (accessed 20/10/2019 at https://www.latrobesociety.org.au/LaTrobeana/LaTrobeanaV17n2Kearsey.pdf


Were your ancestors aboard the David Clark?

You can search the list of passengers on the Public Record Office Victoria(PROV) VPRS 14 Assisted Passenger Lists 1839-1871 at website https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/assisted-passenger-lists. You may need to do more research to establish your descendancy, and the GSV can help you with that, but maybe not before next Sunday.



Were Australians assisting the Serbians in WW1 before Gallipoli?

Olive May (Kelso) King, in the uniform of an ambulance driver, Serbian Army, c.1917. [Donor E. King, AWM P01351.002]
Bill Barlow
17 October 2019
GSV News



When you start researching the lives of ancestors during the Great War you may become embroiled in the complex history of the 'Eastern Question' and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, which lead to the First World War. 


How did some Australian and New Zealanders come to be serving in support of the Serbian Army before the ANZACS landed at Gallipoli? 


Richard Cooke of Camberwell and Bojan Pajic of Glen Iris, discovered that they both had relatives who may have met in Serbia during World War One; Richard's grandmother, Ethel Gillingham, was an Australian nurse volunteer supporting the Serbian Army in 1915 and Bojan's grandfather and great uncle, who was wounded in 1915, were officers in the Serbian Army.


Australian doctors, nurses, orderlies, drivers and assistants, mainly women, volunteered to serve inBritish units that were sent to Serbia in 1914-15 and to the Salonika (or “Eastern”) Front in 1916-18, to assist the Serbian Army. Australian Army nurses were sent to serve in Salonika in the later part ofthe War. The exact number and identity of all Australian volunteers serving with various organisations in
support of the Serbian Army and people is unknown.


Bojan Pajic has traced over 100 descendants and relatives of Australians and New Zealanders who served in Serbia or alongside the Serbian Army on the Salonika Front and nearby seas in World War One. You can hear about the little-known story of ANZAC soldiers, airmen, medical volunteers and humanitarian workers who participated in the Serbian theatre of war in WW1 when Bojan Pajic will present:


"Our Forgotten Volunteers: 

Australians and New Zealanders with Serbs in World War One"


Thursday 24 October - 12 pm - 1.00 pm at GSV.


Bookings are essential. Go to our website HERE.


Our speaker


medium_pajic-book-233x300.jpgBojan Pajic majored in history at the University of Adelaide and served as an infantry officer in the Citizen's Military Forces/Army Reserve. He has served overseas as an Australian Trade Commissioner. 

As well as author of the book Our Forgotten Volunteers: Australians and New Zealanders with Serbs in World War One (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2018), he is also the author of Serbian Decorations through History and Serbian Medals Awarded to Australians, (2016).






'The World War One Australian Serbian Project', B. Pajic in Ancestor 33:7 Sept 2017, p.15. (GSV Members can view this on our website).


'Exhibition: Serbia in the Great War' at soc.org.au, website of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Australia and New Zealand (accessed 17 Oct 2019).


'Australian women volunteers with the Serbian army in World War One', Srpski Glas[newspaper] 24 Aug 2015 (website accessed 17 Oct 2019).


Winner of the 2019 GSV Writing Prize announced

Victoria Spicer, runner-up; Martin Playne, GSV and the winner, Louise Wilson (L-R. Photo: L. Loveday)
Bill Barlow
6 October 2019
GSV News

The GSV congratulates the winner and runner-up of its annual Writing Prize 2019 for a family-history article.

The successful entrants were announced at the AGM on Saturday 5 October.

The winning entry was 'Masters of the Road' by Louise Wilson. 

The runner-up was 'Finding Johanna' by Victoria Spicer. 


Louise Wilson's interesting story is about the role of the author’s ancestors in the initiation of the Royal Mail Service coaches in Great Britain in the 1790s.

'Finding Johanna' by Victoria Spicer revolves around Geelong, and was built on the author’s change of mind about an Irish bounty emigrant step-great-great-grandmother whom shehad once scorned for being intermittently jailed for vagrancy and drunkenness. 

There were a record number of entries including some from GSV regional Member Societies who were invited this year.

Entries were considered by a five-member judging panel. This year an external guest judge, Dr Val Noone OAM, joined Joy Roy FGSV representing the GSV President; and three Ancestor team members, Leonie Loveday, Margaret Vines and Martin Playne. GSV thanks Dr Noone and the other judges for their commitment to this successful competition to foster and demonstrate good family-history writing.


The winner receives a 12-month subscription from Ancestry.com to their Worldwide Membership and an Ancestry.com DNA test kit. Ancestry also generously gave a prize for the runner-up.


The winning entry will be published in the December issue of GSV's Ancestor journal. 


Congratulations to both winners and all entrants.




Were convicts sent to Victoria? Find out this THURSDAY.

Bill Barlow
16 September 2019
GSV News

This question of whether convicts were sent to the Port Phillip District (later known as Victoria) often invokes a statement that no convicts were transported to the district. Although Port Phillip was not one of the mainstream colonies for traditional convict transportation, there were in fact six distinct groups of convicts connected to the Port Phillip District.


On THURSDAY THIS WEEK 19 September 12 noon to 1.00 pm our guest speaker Susie Zada will definitively answer this question. 




Not too late to book! BOOK HERE


This presentation by Susie will highlight detailed sources and records for convicts in each of these six groups: the Sullivan's Bay Settlement 10 October 1803 - 15 May 1804; Western Port Settlement 24 November 1826 - February 1828; the Port Phillip Settlement 1835 - 1849; the Exiles 1844 - 1849; Convicted convicts 1841 - 1849; and the Free Settlers who were former convicts from 1835.


Records can be found in at least twenty-two different resources including the Archives Office of New South Wales (AONSW), The National Archives in the UK (TNA), the Public Records Office Victoria (PROV), and various web sites and publications.


$5 GSV members. $20 non-members. FHC, RHSV and CAV members should contact the GSV for a 25% discount.

Bookings are required and can be made online, by email, in person or by telephone (Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Joint members please book in separately if both attending. There will be a wait list available.

19 September 2019, 12:00   to   13:00 pm

Level 6, 85 Queen Street
Melbourne  VIC 3000



What is over the white cliffs of Dover?

White cliffs of Dover, photo by Immanuel Giel, 2012. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Bill Barlow
14 September 2019
GSV News

Behind what may be the most famous piece of coast in the English world, lies Kent - an ancient English county jutting out in to the sea and around which many of our forebears sailed on their journey to Australia. They may even have commenced their journey being loaded from the Chatham Hulks. Having cleared the Thames estuary hundreds of sailing ships often sheltered in The Downs awaiting favourable winds to take them through the Strait of Dover and westwards into the English Channel. The Kentish coast may have been their last glimpse of England.


On Thursday 17 October 2019- 10:00 am to 12:30 pm - the GSV is privileged to host a seminar that you should not miss if you have any Kentish links.


'Genealogy, History and Geography' plus 'Tracing your Kent Ancestors' 


Presented by David Wright,a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists and a member of the Kent Family History Society for over forty years.


History without geography is meaningless. This talk covers our ancestors' lives in context: how and why they moved and how such behaviour can be traced. It looks at county and other boundaries and the restriction of freedom they allowed.

Genealogically speaking, Kent is an important maritime county, which has played a prime defensive role in English history. It is large and diverse and replete with great houses, castles and other family homes, many with their own archives. It is also a fascinating area of research for historians. This talk is packed with vital information for anyone researching their own family history.


Bookings are required and can be made online, by email, in person or by telephone (Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm). Go to our website for details. http://www.gsv.org.au Maximum 35 attendees, and there will be a wait list available.

Our presenter


David Wright is a professional genealogist, historian and writer. He has taught at University College, London, and he is a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists.


David's career has covered over three decades of genealogical and historical research, by way of the study of classics and University lecturing, and he has written three books on Kentish records and the guide 'Tracing your Kent Ancestors'. He lectures widely on genealogy and allied subjects and has taught classical and mediaeval Latin and palaeography at the City Literary Instituteand, at both University College, Londonand the School of History at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He has been a member of the Kent Family History Society almost from its inception in the 1970s. In 2009, after nearly forty years’ membership, he was awarded a prestigious fellowship of the Society of Genealogists, and in November 2017 was honoured by being invited to sign the Fellows' Register of the Society of Antiquaries, London.