Choose someone who lived in Australia (preferably one of your ancestors) and tell us how they toiled. Your post should include:
- What was their occupation?
- What information do you have about the individual’s work, or about the occupation in general?
- The story of the person, focussing on their occupation; or
The story of the occupation, using the person as an example
I’m looking forward to taking part. Last year’s Twigs of Yore challenge – to write about the earliest document you have found relating to an ancestor – was what started me blogging regularly (I wrote about Nicholas Delaney’s 1799 trial transcript).
But who to choose? And which occupation?
Most of my Aussie ancestors were farmers. Then there’s another great-great-great grandfather, John Simpson, who was a tailor. Or I could stick with Nicholas. He ended up farming, but before that he was a roadbuilder, both as a convict and a free man, and an innkeeper. In Ireland, before the Rebellion of 1798, he was a landless labourer.
And there are the false leads, the family myths and cover-ups. Before we started to look closely at Nicholas’s life, we’d heard a few of these, the results of misinformation and the shame that used to cling to having convict ancestry. They can’t be blamed – it was all part of the idea of the ‘Convict Stain’. How times have changed.
We’d been told that he’d been the Lord Mayor of Belfast (highly unlikely!). In Australia, family stories had him as a gardener and a butler at Government House in Sydney, where he had met his wife, Elizabeth Bayly, who was a maid there. Or he was a carpenter working on an extension to the (‘Old’) Government House in Parramatta.
All very respectable. But in researching family history there are often false leads. And there is no written evidence to support these stories. So, tempting as they are, they go into the bin.
So – a tailor, a roadbuilder, an innkeeper or a farmer? What’s it to be? Do come back on the 26th January and find out.