Month: June 2014

Hallidays In Australia

My previous post introduced the Halliday family via my 4 x great-grandmother, Ann Halliday. She was the oldest child – and only daughter – of John Halliday and his wife Elizabeth Angell. After marrying in Sherston Magna, Wiltshire on 12 October 1815, John and Elizabeth would have a total of four children.


Descendant Chart for John Halliday

Descendant Chart for John Halliday

Whilst many families ‘lost’ children to emigration, all 3 of John’s sons left their lives as agricultural labourers in Gloucestershire to make their way in Australia.

The first to make the journey were the younger two brothers – John and Thomas – on the Duke of Wellington, which departed from Deptford on 4 July 1849 and arrived at Port Adelaide on 7 November.

John married Martha Williams – who he knew back in “the home country” – in October 1850. After an eventful life that included striking gold in Bendigo and Eaglehawk, and starting the first market garden in South Australia, John passed away in August 1919, aged 91. Martha would follow in November 1923.

Men of the Halliday family. Left-right: Charles Arthur, 59 years; Maurice Vernon, 5 years; Herbert Arthur, 35 years; John, 90 years.

Men of the Halliday family. Left-right: Charles Arthur, 59 years; Maurice Vernon, 5 years; Herbert Arthur, 35 years; John, 90 years.

Obituary taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 15 August 1919

Obituary taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 15 August 1919

Thomas had a somewhat shorter life in Australia. He was married on 25 July 1863 to Ann Halliday nee Sherwood, and the two of them went on to have two daughters – Emily and Ann – with Ann dying in infancy. (Emily would go on to marry her cousin William Francis Halliday, son of James and Hester.) The family moved from Woodville to the Adelaide Hills where Thomas was a gardener at Biggs Flat, as well as a woodcarter. According to a report in the The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser on Friday 6 May 1881, Thomas was found dead in the road to Echunga on the morning of 1 May 1881 by a drover. The inquest, held at the Aldgate Pump Hotel on the same day, heard from various people regarding the incident. The landlord of the hotel stated that Thomas had been intoxicated the previous evening and that he was often seen “under the influence of drink”. A fellow gardener at Biggs Flat similarly attested to Thomas liking a drink. John, Thomas’ brother, also said the same.

The final verdict of the jury was: “That deceased met his death by concussion of the brain, caused by a fall from his dray while under the influence of drink”.

Ann herself is a bit of a conundrum. She was probably born in Owlpen, Gloucestershire in 1838. A woman by the name of Ann Sherwood marries a George Halliday in the Tetbury district of Gloucestershire in the first half of 1856. It is my assumption (and I have no proof as yet, but some strong supposition!) that this George Halliday is, in fact, George Marsh Halliday, illegitimate son of Ann Halliday and George Marsh – and half-brother to my 3 x great-grandfather Thomas Halliday Hurcombe. Two children are registered in Adelaide in 1859 and 1862 (Loveday Henry Halliday and Albert Halliday) with the parents of George Halliday and Ann Shorwood. I can’t find a passenger listing for George and Ann between 1856 and 1859. Some sources believe that she is the same Ann Sherwood that is listed in 1854 onboard the Time and Truth – but this seems unlikely given that this Ann gives her place of residence as Ireland and her age is out by approximately 3 years, and marries Thomas as Ann Halliday, not Ann Sherwood.

George disappears from the records at this time, and Ann reappears when she marries Thomas in 1863. She is listed as deceased in a newspaper article from the time of Thomas’ death, but no mention of their surviving daughter. Then an Annie Halliday marries William Allen Waples on 21 February 1880 in Adelaide. She died 26 August 1880 from peritonitis rupture – presumably following the accident alluded to in the 1881 article.

Article regarding Thomas' death, taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 6 May 1881

Article regarding Thomas’ death, taken from The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 6 May 1881

In 1856 the eldest brother, James, his wife Hester (aka Esther), their 6 children and an 11 year old Elizabeth Cottle (possibly a niece of either James or Hester) left for Australia from Plymouth  aboard the Hooghly, and reached Port Adelaide on 25 July.  During the crossing Hester had given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. Oddly, the ships list of the time lists the baby as male. James and Hester would have 11 children in total, including the William Francis who married his cousin Emily. Two of William’s children – Charles Edward and Maurice Roy – would go on to marry two of their cousins – Annie Myrtle Halliday and Elva Joyce Halliday – who were both children of Albert Halliday, the son of Ann Sherwood and George Halliday.

Somewhat of a tangled web woven by the members of the immediate Halliday clan in Australia!


Who’s The (4 x Great-Grand) Daddy?

On 14 January 1852 my 3 x great-grandfather, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe, was born.

When I was first researching my family history – apart from putting out feelers regarding my American grandfathers – the Holborow/Hurcombe lines of my mother’s ancestry marked my initial steps into this world. My mother was very close to her maternal grandmother, Edith May Holborow nee Hurcombe, and also to Edith’s parents, Alfred William Hurcombe and Harriet nee Robins, so it seemed fitting that I started here.

Back row, l-to-r: Eva, Edith, Ver.  Front row, l-to-r: little me(!), my brother Alex

Back row, l-to-r: Eva, Edith, Ver.
Front row, l-to-r: little me(!), my brother Alex

I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers (especially about 2am when the lights come on, but that’s a different story), and starting the genealogy journey I was somewhat suckered in to the use of other people’s information over finding things out on my own with the actual records. Consequently, I was happy enough when I found information regarding Alfred’s father, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe.

Alfred & Harriet Hurcombe, near Devizes

Alfred & Harriet Hurcombe, near Devizes

Thomas’ mother was quickly identified as Ann Hurcombe, formerly Halliday, and his father as Stephen Hurcombe. Stephen was somewhat older than Ann, being born on 13 January 1799 in Leighterton, Gloucestershire. In fact, records show that he had been married before. On 13 December 1823 he first married spinster Jane Davies and they had two children: David (27 February 1825 – 8 May 1857) and Mary (10 December 1826 – 12 May 1846). Four months later, in April 1827 Jane died.

After several years, the 36-year-old Stephen married 19-year-old Ann Halliday on 12 October 1835 in Leighterton. Ann brought another child into the family – a one year old son, George Marsh Halliday. Ann hadn’t been married before Stephen, but there was a prominent farmer in the village called George Marsh. Whilst I can’t prove anything, it may be a case that George senior fathered a son on the young Ann who then named the son after the purported father.

Stephen and Ann went on to have a number of children:

  • Elizabeth: 21 Aug 1836 – 1918
  • Emanuel: 03 Feb 1839 – 1922
  • Emily: 11 Apr 1841 – 08 Jun 1851
  • David Henry: 24 May 1845 – 10 Jan 1919

…and it was during this research, after tracing the Hurcombe line back a further couple of generations, that I came upon the death entry for Stephen: 28 March 1850.

As Thomas wasn’t born for another almost two years, it would be extremely unlikely for Stephen to be his father – as so many people had presumed and slavishly copied down (and, in fact, Stephen can still be found listed as Thomas’ father in online trees despite this glaring error in mathematics – and I doubt that Ann concentrated on the wallpaper that hard for two years …).

Other than using both her maiden and married names in her son’s name, there is no additional clue as to the identity of his father. Ann would go on to have another illegitimate son, Alfred Thomas Halliday, in 1859. Despite having been registered as a Halliday at his birth, in 1889 when Alfred married, he did so under the name Alfred Hurcombe, and appears in all of the relevant census as such. His children were all baptised with the surname of Hurcombe.

Aged almost 60, in January 1876, Ann married a Chelsea pensioner named Peter Adams – who was 13 years her junior, reversing the earlier age difference with her first husband!

Descendant Chart for Ann Halliday

Descendant Chart for Ann Halliday

So who was the father of Thomas (and Alfred)? His birth certificate simply has a line in place of father’s name. Contact with other Hurcombe/Halliday researchers mooted that at least one of the fathers may have been a younger brother of Stephen’s called David – but that is sheer speculation, and without anything such as bastardy papers we will perhaps never know how much of a Hurcombe Thomas and his (half) brother Alfred were.

Thomas went on to marry Emily Raines in the Tetbury Register Office on 17 February 1974, and the pair had 7 children – their third child (and third son) was Alfred William, my 2 x great-grandfather. He passed away on 13 March 1927 in Leighterton, with Emily following on 26 January 1938.

Gravestone of Thomas Halliday Hurcombe

Gravestone of Thomas Halliday Hurcombe


Writing 101: Character Building

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

Thankfully the subject of yesterday’s assignment can be fictional in nature.

I’ve ‘met’ several new people (i.e. bloggers) since taking part in Blogging U this year. However, I don’t feel that I know them well enough to turn them into a character study – and I don’t have that much of a life that I regularly meet new and interesting people. In fact, most of the people I do meet are more likely to be faintly irritating if not down right annoying than interesting or beguiling. (Which may say more about me than about them, but there we are.)

Continue reading

Writing 101: Brevity

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


I know.

Writing 101: Loss – Part 1

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Generally speaking I’m a pretty phlegmatic guy. I take most things on the chin. If you hurt me I’m more likely to shrug and turn away. If you’ve decided on a course of action already then I’d rather focus my energy on something that’s more beneficial to me. Please don’t misunderstand – I’ll fight for something if I feel that it needs it, but something I’ve learned over the years is to not waste time on that kind of negativity.

During my teenage years I was introduced to the mantra of reason, season, lifetime – you know, the now somewhat hackneyed, and very 1990s, aphorism that some people are in your life only for a short time to fulfil a particular need, some are in it for longer to help you grow and learn, and the final bunch are there for the long-haul to help lifelong lessons and the building on emotional foundations.

At the time I was going through somewhat of a tumultuous time (okay, as a teenager most of it seemed tumultuous where in reality it probably wasn’t) dealing with my own sexuality and exploring various different spiritual avenues as well as trying to figure out who I really was, and the mantra resonated with me. It still does. I’m not a neo-hippie, or even a hipster, I just consider myself emotionally mature enough to see things for what they are.

But that’s all now.

Its taken me some time to get here, and losing people still affects me deeply. I may be able to accept it, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. I’m not talking about losing people through traumatic death. I’ve never been confronted with that. All my grandparents died (fairly) peacefully and/or when I was quite young – or at least young enough that I didn’t quite understand it all. I’m talking about the other sort of loss – that of somebody wrenching themselves away from you, the ones that tear and claw at your heart and at your soul – at your very core – and leave you wounded and breathless, grasping for sops and stubble where there used to be feasting and harvests of love and beauty.

The road was somewhat … bumpy, and I’ve lost my fair share of important people over the years – some of whom still affect me in odd ways and at odd times.

So buckle up … the next couple of parts will be looking at these events and people …

Keep your hearts away from your sleeves.

But maybe at the end we’ll all feel a little better.

Writing 101: Three Songs

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Twist: Commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

Important songs aren’t quite the same as favourite songs, are they? After all, the list of my favourite songs probably changes on a daily basis, depending on what I’ve listened to recently. But important songs are they ones that stay with you and resonate inside of you, that make your heart giddy and your mind swoop and soar.

I don’t remember the song that played when I had my first kiss – or any of my first kisses – or when I first had sex, or when I first made love (very different things), or when somebody died, or … just about anything. There are songs that are associated with me reading a particular book. There are songs that remind me of particular people, or times in my life that seemed to change me – possibly for the better. There are songs that I remember playing in the background when I was a child, or that I’d listen to with my mum, or that I’d sing along to (and with my voice … wow …), or that seemed to be soundtracks to a summer or a drunken night out … A song can be important for all sorts of reasons, I suppose.

It doesn’t particularly help when you have a memory that’s suspect at best and has a habit of dropping out on you with no notice.

One of my all time favourite (yes, yes, I know what I said about favourite vs. important) musical artists is Darren Hayes. Oddly, its his solo work – following the disbanding of Savage Garden – that has had the most impact on me. Perhaps its because as a fellow gay man I feel his music has something to say to me that isn’t about endless rutting or getting off your face or being a bitch or being faaaaaabulous. I should point out that not all gay artists sing about these things – I happen to think that Will Young’s album Echoes is amazing for all the same reasons that I rate Darren Hayes. Bright Light Bright Light’s Make Me Believe In Hope is also right up there on my eternal playlist.

Its not just the music. Its not just the lyrics. Its not just his voice. Its not just the emotion. Its all of it, I think, that conjoins to make one powerful whole.

There’s a certain lyric in the song Perfect taken from the 2012 album Secret Codes and Battleships that just floors me every time.

Cause I felt it; it cut deep.
It left a scar in my memory.
But your love was burned into me.

Second song … This is actually a song that I only heard a few months ago, despite it being a little older. I was chatting online to a friend and got talking about films and he recommended one from 2007 called Shelter. As its available on YouTube in its entirety, I checked it out and was sucked in, completely. Part of that was down to the soundtrack, featuring several songs by Shane Mack. One of these, More Than This, is fantastic in its simplicity.

If this is all, if this is all we ever were,
At least I loved enough to hurt,
Enough to hurt.

Final song … This is one that can make me smile or make my guts turn in on themselves. I guess that makes it important, right? Alanis Morissette’s It’s A Bitch To Grow Up appeared on her 2008 album Flavors of Entanglement. 

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
and all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’m not entirely sure how the twist actually fits in with today’s assignmet … But, yes, I commit to writing for at least 15 minutes every day outside of blog posts.

Writing 101: (A Room With) A View

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

You walk out into the field – quite a normal, every day pasture with short grass and grasshoppers that cloud into the air as you move your feet – and ahead you can see that the earth just drops away, you can see trees and the other side of a small valley.

Turning to the left, you come to the edge of this cliff and see that once there must have been a path or a stream leading down the side of the ridge and your eye follows the long depression in the ground before it gets lost in the heat-browned vegetation. Sat on top of this part of the ridge is a square stone structure – for you could no longer call it a dwelling. The brambles and scrub have claimed what must have once been a shepherd’s croft. Walls have tumbled and any woodworking has long since rotted away. The lintel stone still stands over the doorway, but even this portal is choked with bramble.

You can slide down the ridge at this point; the sheep and cattle have made a sloping pathway. There are large boulders, like icebergs you are sure, peeking out of the side of the cliff as you descend the short distance. It soon becomes obvious that this is not a site that was visited only by shepherds. In front of you, several concrete pillars mark the site of what can only have been some kind of ancient temple. Roman perhaps. Gallo-roman would be an educated guess, as a very few kilometres to the northeast there lies a site which includes a Gallo-roman bathhouse and villas.

There are no notices to tell you what these pillars make, but the lines and rows spell temple. The temple site itself is set in a kind of natural amphitheatre. The cliff edge and old path or streambed delineate one side, and at the other side of the temple the bank curves around the rest of the semi-circle. At the open end of the depression lies some kind of rocky stream – the sound of falling water seeps out between the oak trees that line the bank.

You walk towards it, wondering if this amphitheatre was once the beach of part of this stream when the climate was wetter and the river ran higher. That must have been a pre-Roman beach, as the temple site was built on the beach itself, albeit high up at the back, so flooding was a problem?

You reach the tree-lined stream, and you are glad that you chose this spot for viewing. Looking up and down the banks, all you can see are trees and shrubs crowded tight against the margins.

Near to your feet lies an old root system, blackened and gnarled with age, slippery and moss-encrusted by the damp conditions. Your eyes take in the other roots that twist into the water from the ancient oaks. But those are not what arrest the eye.

The riverbed itself is the commanding view here, not any bankside vegetation. The mid-summer drop in flow accentuates the fact that the rock here is hard. To say the streambed is strewn with rocks would be wrong. For all intents and purposes, the boulders are the streambed. Giant boulders, some flattened, some characteristically tear-dropped by the water, all huge. The water cascades through them, under them, around them. Slightly to your right there is a pool. You are in no doubt that the dark colour is not caused merely by the lack of direct sunlight. Something tells the primitive part of you that that pool is deep. Perhaps primordially deep, perhaps only hip-deep. But there are depths there that maybe ought not be plumbed.

The higher boulders that escape all but the worst ravages of the winter floods are covered in green moss, growing like baize across the stone. On the lower ones, the moss has turned into black slime, now dry and crinkly in the August heat.

Across the bank, you can see what looks far too regular to be a natural outcropping of stone. You take a second look, perhaps hopping onto a stone or two to garner a closer look. Under the moss and branches of trees – for across the river the woods are still holding strong – there are walls. A hole that can only be a window. Another shepherd’s croft? Unlikely situated so close to the riverbank and in woods. A hunting lodge? Perhaps. Something to do with the ancient castle that once stood at the nearby lake, of which only a tower and part of the moat remain? More than likely. It is said that Le Coeur de Lion stayed at that castle, and held property close by. Is it possible that the famed Lionheart himself spent time here, when this ruin was in its hey-day? It is pleasing to your mind to muse on these possibilities.

You cross the river, using the giant boulders as stepping-stones. You cannot help but feel that, as you near the other shore and the wild and moss-dripping trees, in some way you are leaving behind a world of security and all that is homely and all that you have come to know as ‘real’. Here, on the other shore, perhaps an alternative reality exists alongside, yet separate from, your own.

You scan the surrounding countryside quickly. What is behind that tree? Is there anything behind the walls, waiting to stare out of the window? You are but a visitor in this other realm, the realm of fairies and elves, where fairy tales are not fables but truths, where changelings and goblins cavort freely.

You jump back across the boulders and reach the open shore with ease. You turn back and stare at the walls and at the woods. You feel slightly foolish for turning tail like you did. You know that those creatures don’t exist. You know that. Don’t you?

You turn away and step out from underneath the cover of the trees and back into the sunshine. The temple is in front of you. The path back up to the top of the ridge and the croft to the left of that. You turn sharp left, the path that takes you immediately below the ridge. You can see from here that you chose the right path in coming down. If you had tried to go down the front of the cliff, it would have been near impossible.

You continue along the path. You wonder where it leads. Perhaps another beach? Another dead building? To your right and left tall ferns grow wild, shading out all other weeds and grass. The ferns grow up the side of the ridge and over the top, encroaching onto the pasture.

Ahead of you, the path narrows, the ferns now caressing your bare arms and legs. You thank the deity of your choice that they are not sporing at the moment, as the slightest touch would have sent clouds of carcinogenic microbes into the air. As it is the air is hot and dry, but at least it is not dusty.

The trees that have followed the stream along its course cut sharply in a few hundred feet in front of you. You spy a path through the fern to your right that will lead you back up to the top of the ridge. You decide to take it. Again you are struck by how primeval the landscape looks – boulders, ferns, sharp drops, streams and rivers. As you plough through the fern and up the steep incline, your eyes constantly scan the ground in front of you for snakes. Now is not the time to get bitten by an adder or an asp. DOA are not your three favourite letters when placed together.

Puffing and slightly out of breath you reach the clifftop. You know that, as you heave yourself up the last metre, you have left another world behind you. A world that you entered as soon as you walked around the shepherd’s croft, a world that invited you as you touched the concrete temple marker, a world that welcomed you as you stood at the stream side, a world that scared you as you closed in on the dead building, a world apart from your own.

You make your way back across the high pasture land and back out of the gateway onto the trackway that you came in on. Still, as you glimpse around, that world is not as distinct and separate as you once would have believed. That world is everywhere, existing within, around and through our own.

You were scared, but not rejected. You know that that world would welcome you any time that you entered it again. Some part of your brain asks you if you would ever leave it.

Writing 101: Unlock Your Mind / Free Write

I said I wasn’t going to, but now I am … The next module (?) from Blogging U that aims to promote some better blogging habits and to stretch some writer-y muscles. Each week day between now and the end of June there will be an assignment, and each assignment will come with a ‘twist’ which can be used or ignored as the author sees fit.

Which is all to the good.

You can find out more here at the Daily Post.

The first assignment is a 20 minute free write – whatever it consists of. Stream of consciousness, baby.  The ‘twist’ is a simple one: Publish it.