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Topics - McGroger

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Could I please have some help with the image below. There are a couple of words I’m not sure of (Tumour and jodhpurs) and a couple I can’t work out at all. Thank you.

Leonard Donley
Nov 16—1887-
(?) [initials]
20 yrs
Arkona Ont[ario]
Tumour [?] in the head several years-
?? ??????? ??
Rev Joseph Deacon
Nov 18—1887
??????  ????????
The slip for this regis-
-tration was brought
me by the father of de-
ceased in July/88-having
found it in one of his jodhpurs [?]
almost worn out-   ? [initials]

Handwriting Deciphering & Recognition / Charles Ford's Cause of Death
« on: Wednesday 09 June 21 08:36 BST (UK)  »
I think I’ve got most of this one; just looking for confirmation, and help with the first word in the third line ('owing'?) and the last word of the fourth line ('head' or 'heart') of the marginal note. (Damage to a 'head' makes more sense in a scuffle but 'heart' makes more sense being 'already diseased'.)

‘Found dead on Knoyle Down, after having
been drinking for some hours at Hindon, &
ow[in]g to scuffle in wh[ich] there was no intention to
do hurt, but wh[ich] produced an effect upon his head/heart
already diseased—caus[in]g death.’

(Tragic family, this one. Too-young deaths in addition to Charles (aged 26) include: his mother aged 31, one brother aged 6, another brother (George, my ancestor who went to Australia) who got drunk and was run over by a train at age 48 after his wife a few years earlier fell into a fire causing a week-long agonising death at age 28. After the premature deaths skipped a generation, George’s granddaughter (my grandmother) died in 1919 from the Spanish flu, aged 23, leaving three young kids.)


Australia / What does this “Surrender” instrument mean for Ben SINGLETON?
« on: Monday 13 April 20 04:55 BST (UK)  »
I’m gradually working my way through a large amount of images from the early NSW Registrar General, Registers of Memorials now available on ancestry involving my ancestor’s brother, Ben Singleton. They’re a bit of a tangled web but I’m understanding what most of them mean. I’m not sure about this one:

Date: 01 Jan 1823;
Nature of Instrument: Surrender;
Names of Parties: James Norton, Cyrus McArthur Doyle and Roger Murphy to Benjamin Singleton;
Witnesses: J[?] F Josephson, Walter Smith;
Description of the lands or property conveyed: [abbrev.] 300 acres at Patricks Plains;
Consideration and how paid: One thousand three hundred and forty three pounds six shillings and eight pence;
Any other particulars the case may require: [blank]

For people with access to ancestry, the image is here:

(For people not aware of it, Ben Singleton was the founder of the town of Singleton, centred in Patricks Plains, NSW.)

I’m thinking what it means is that a portion of the (leasehold) land originally granted to Ben Singleton he later sold (re-leased) to the three people in the “Surrender”, and for some reason they failed to fulfil the conditions of that re-lease so they had to surrender the land back to him. The “Consideration” I’m thinking is the amount still owing to Ben: that is, the original price of their re-lease less the amount they had already paid to him (and perhaps plus any interest on arrears of payments?).

Could you tell me if my interpretation is correct, or otherwise set me on the right track, please.


Fermanagh / What is that native place of Isabella Johnston?
« on: Friday 15 March 19 11:53 GMT (UK)  »

My ancestor, Isabella Johnston arrived in Australia in 1850. She was a steerage passenger on the ship, “Anglia”, that first landed in Hobart, Tasmania then went on to Sydney in February 1850.

I’ve posted a snip from the list of passengers arriving in Sydney. I think I can read all the detail about Isabella but her native place has got me stumped.

This is what I think it says:

“Johnson, Isabella  25 (age) Dairymaid (calling) Rotherstown (?) Co Fermanagh (native place and county) William & Fanny both decd (Parents and if alive) C of E (Religious Denom) both (Read or write) none (Relations in the Colony) good (Health) none (Complaints re treatment) 2 pounds (Remarks)”

To me the place looks like “Rotherstown” (the formation of those letters looks like other examples on the page) but I can’t find anything like that on lists of place names or on old maps of Ireland.

Any help in locating the right place would be very much appreciated.


Australia / Multiple Murder at Cockfighter’s Creek: A Christmas Mystery
« on: Thursday 13 December 18 05:11 GMT (UK)  »

On Saturday, December 28, 1867, my ancestor, John Harborne, working as a stockman on the NSW Hunter Valley property, Wambo, found some human bones that turned out to be those of a young family murdered about thirty years earlier. The story was told in the Maitland Mercury of January 2, 1868:
with a follow-up on January 14  noting that the murder victims were probably an itinerant hawker, his wife and two small children, murdered by convicts who were building a bridge across the local creek.

Your mission, dear Rootschat detectives, should you accept it, is not to find the murderer/s but to find which one of two possible John Harbornes was the discoverer of the bones.

My great great grandfather, John Harborne (1812-1882) was born in Birmingham, England and transported to Australia in 1828 for burglary. He had a defacto relationship with Alice (nee) Clarke who was officially married to Edwin Baldwin (who was serving time on Norfolk Island for being extra naughty). John and Alice stayed together until Alice died in 1863. John then married for the first time, aged 53, at Warkworth,  a 22 year-old Elizabeth Sleath with whom he had 8 more children, the last born in 1880 when he was 68).

John died at Wambo aged 69. However, the informant was his son, John (then 36), who is also described as “of Wambo”. John senior is variously described in records as a farmer or as a labourer.

My great grandfather, John Harborne (1845-1919) was born at Cockfighters Creek, (part of Wambo) Parish of Warkworth, to John Harborne and Alice Baldwin. John married Sarah Wyburn in 1878 at Singleton. In later life his home was alternately given as Doctors Creek and Boggy Flat (close together so perhaps the same home but given different descriptions by different people and/or at different times). John owned at least two small portions in this area (no.s 110 and 89, SE of the village of Warkworth).

John junior was also variously described as a farmer or a labourer.

At the time of the discovery of the bones John senior would have been 55, and John junior, 22.

William Durham had managed Wambo, then inherited the property from his stepfather, James Hale (1780-1857) an ex-convict who had amassed a large number of properties of which he was an absentee landlord. Durham died in 1891 and Wambo was sold out of the Durham family in 1894.

It seems that for at least part of the time, both Johns were living on the Wambo estate, at least until John senior died (1882).

So far I haven’t been able to separate the two John Harbornes during the period in which the discovery of the bones occurred.

I am leaning towards it being John senior. For these reasons:
James Hale was in the habit of employing ex convicts to help run his burgeoning enterprises.
John Harborne appears in the papers a number of times as a witness regarding thefts of stock from Wambo. It is probably more likely that the 50 something John would have had that responsibility rather than the 20 something John.

But it would really be great to get a bit more evidence.

As always, should any of you be caught or killed, the other Rootschat members will disavow any knowledge of your actions.


[I’ve posted a couple of map portions to show the localities involved. On the first, “Wollombi Brook”  (underlined in white), between Wambo and Warkworth, is the newer name for the old “Cockfighters Creek”. The murder took place somewhere near that creek.
On the second map, John junior, in later life, lived at Doctors Creek/ Boggy Flat, SE of Warkworth village, marked by the white X. ]

Scotland / Rare 1922-23 ROB ROY Movie Now on Youtube
« on: Wednesday 26 September 18 05:00 BST (UK)  »

A couple of years ago while writing a book on my branch of the McGregors I stumbled across mention of an old Rob Roy film which I said in the book: “may be lost”. Well, if so, it is now found.

The British Film Institute National Archives has restored the film to 86 minutes of silent black and white glory, and have made it available on Youtube.

While much of the movie is just what you might expect of something made early last century, it is also an ambitious and remarkable rare gem, most notably for the on location filming in the Trossachs.

As I understand it, although the film may still be in copyright, it is classified as an “Orphan Work”. That is, the BFI National Archives, unable to find any true owner, would have applied to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to preserve and restore the film, and to make it publicly available.

There are three copies of the film on Youtube, the BFI copy and two from Spanish sources (the EUIPO is domiciled in Spain). BFI calls it a 1923 movie (release date), the others 1922 (production).

I think it is a must-see for anyone interested in Rob Roy or, indeed, for anyone interested in seeing how Rob Roy country looked almost 100 years ago.

Here is a link to the BFI version and a screen shot from the opening of the film. (I haven't watched it all yet; I wanted to shout if from the rooftops first. ;D ;D



I recently came across a digital copy of a photo of my paternal great-grandparents - which makes me very happy! ;D I’ve cleaned it up a little to make the details clearer. I think I’m close to a date for it and possibly the occasion, but it would be great to see whether the experts agree with my estimate.

John (Mar 1852-1949) and Mary nee Brickley ( Dec 1853-1901) were married in Glasgow in 1874 and migrated to Australia in 1883.
I’m thinking this photo may have been taken to commemorate their 25th wedding anniversary in April 1899 when they would have been living in Sydney where John was a train driver. John would not necessarily have been fashion conscious, while Mary (a cotton weaver before marrying John) would have made her own clothing. They would have been 47 and 45 at the time. Sadly, Mary died (probably of appendicitis) barely two years later in June 1901.


Free Photo Restoration & Date Old Photographs / Odd Santa of 1954
« on: Tuesday 05 June 18 01:44 BST (UK)  »
Just wanted to share this one.

I’ve been cleaning up some childhood photos and this one stood out because of the rather strange looking Santa in it.

Have you ever seen a Santa Claus with a Groucho Marx-type mask under his beard? And - this is the really odd bit - with boots that are cut off above his ankles to make way for a pair of sandals?

It’s no wonder I look a bit worried about this bloke, his hand on my back and all…


Free Photo Restoration & Date Old Photographs / NIK SOFTWARE UPDATE
« on: Wednesday 17 January 18 22:58 GMT (UK)  »

Posting this here to catch the  eyes of as many as possible.

If you are even vaguely interested in this software please read my update to Gadget’s post in the Tips sub-board, here:;topicseen#new

The guts of it is that this once very expensive software, free for the last year or so, may not be free for much longer.


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