Saturday, January 18, 2014

Voyage to Australia: the ship 'Magdalena'

The ship Magdalena left Southampton harbour 23 May 1853, bound for Adelaide, South Australia. Captain Brenton was in charge and, apart from the crew, there was a surgeon superintendent, a handful of cabin passengers and about 360 government sponsored (assisted) immigrants. It arrived in Port Adelaide on 25 August 1853 after a voyage of three months.

Southampton docks
On board were my ancestors, William and Ann Wyllie  (or Wylie, as they were listed on the passenger list). William was 25 years old and Ann (nee Cranston) was 23. They had married three years earlier in Ann's home town in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, Scotland. Ann was about five months pregnant when they boarded and their first child was born in Black Forest, Adelaide about a week after they arrived.

I'd be interested to know how they travelled from Ayrshire to Southampton. Did they travel to Glasgow and then board a coastal ship? It's quite a distance. Why didn't they travel directly from Glasgow or Edinburgh? Even Liverpool is much closer. So I imagine there was quite a lengthy lead-in time to the actual departure, and we'll never know the reasons prompting them to make the decision to emigrate but I think it would have been economic. It wasn't gold prospecting because they stayed in South Australia for several decades before moving the Victoria.


Anyway, I digress. Back to the voyage itself. An Adelaide newspaper published a list of the passengers on board the Magdalena as well as the cargo she carried.
South Australian Register, 26 August 1853
South Australian Register, 26 August 1853
South Australian Register, 26 August 1853
According to the above report there were nine births and eleven deaths on board during the voyage. But another source states eight births and fourteen deaths. You can find a full list of the names (as well as a detailed passenger list) on the TheShipsList webpage but the cause of death is not known because the surgeon superintendent was inept at keeping accurate records. He was charged and convicted in an Adelaide court as detailed in the following newspaper report.

South Australian Register, 27 October 1853
There was also a small newspaper report of a lost item of luggage. I wonder how often luggage was lost or stolen after it was taken off the ship.


I have in my home a wooden chest that we use as a coffee table. We have no way of knowing for sure but I believe it is a chest that one of my ancestors used to carry their luggage on ship - and the Wyllies on the Magdalena are the most likely. My father remembers that when he was a child in the 1920s it was kept in the boys' bedroom and used to store clothes. 


And, lastly, a little anecdote. My Uncle Jim Wyllie told me that he met a man who told him that his father was on the Magdalena with William and Ann Wyllie, and he remembered William winning a raffle on the voyage. The prize was a case of apples which was shared among some of their fellow passengers.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Flowers of the Holy Land



The theme for Sepia Saturday this week is photos found in old books. Well, I can't quite match that theme but I do have an object found in an old book.

My father-in-law has a book with the front and back covers made of wood with the title Jerusalem inscribed on the front. The frontis page provides the details - it is a book of flowers of the Holy Land - and there is a handwritten note that the covers are made of olive wood.


Frontis page
The surprising thing is that the flowers are real. They are pressed plants that still, 100 years later, retain their colour. There are about fourteen pages in all.

Flowers from Bethlehem
Flowers from Mount Zion
There are two cards inside the book. The first one tells us the provenance of the book. It was brought from Jerusalem by William Pook and presented to Mr John Gordon M.L.A. (Member of the Legislative Assembly) in August 1914. John Gordon (1858-1937) was a storekeeper and grazier at Nagambie and Euroa in north-eastern Victoria. He was a local councillor for twenty years (1896-1926) also a member of Victoria's Legislative Assembly from 1911-1927, including a term as Minister of Agriculture and Water Supply. 

John Gordon was a brother of my husband's direct ancestor, Christina Gordon, who married Daniel McKernan. In 1941 another note was added to the card. It's signed 'CG'. This is Catherine (Kate) Gordon. She was a sister of Christina and John. She never married, and lived with her brother John who also never married. She supported him in his very busy public life. A year before she died Kate gave the flower book to her sister Christina's son-in-law, William Phelan, with the added stipulation that it be then given to William's daughter, Ina Phelan and then her brother Gibson Phelan. 

I'm not sure that Ina and Gibson ever received the book because it is now in the care of Neil who is the son of William Phelan's other son, Roy. Ina never married and Gibson married but never had children.

Card inside the book of pressed flowers.
The second card in the book is an invitation. When the Duke and Duchess of York visited Melbourne in 1927 John Gordon received an invitation to the Parliamentary Reception to be held at Parliament House on the afternoon of the 22nd April 1927. John didn't have a 'lady wife' so maybe he took his sister, Kate, to the reception.

Invitation card, found inside the book of pressed flowers.
On Trove I searched the newspaper articles of the day and found quite a few. The Argus, Melbourne's main paper, wrote about the royal visit in great detail (the poor royals must have been exhausted but they still found the energy to dance at the ball that night) but the Sydney Morning Herald provided me with a summary that I could fit comfortably in this blog.

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Apr 1927
You could delve into the other 'found' treasures over at Sepia Saturday.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sepia Saturday: A bus holiday


In 1947 sisters Shirley (22) and Mary Alford (20) went from Victoria to Adelaide, South Australia on the Overland train. They stayed in a bed and breakfast place in central Adelaide and for two weeks toured to various spots around Adelaide, Mt Lofty and Victor Harbor by bus and tram every day. Shirley said they had a really good time and still remembers is vividly, including a great meal they had at the Victor Harbor Hotel.

The photo shows Shirley (left), Mary next to her and two nurses from Bendigo they met on the trip. I like the dresses they are wearing, very sweet and stylish, and their hair styles are similar as well. Today's young travellers are much more informal. Note the name on the bus, 'Miss Touralia', and the bus company is Cosgrove's.

Shirley and Mary Alford (left) with unknown friends, 1947.
Shirley married in January the following year and Mary several years later. Both were school teachers in country Victoria.