In my previous post about Australian migration, I mentioned a lady who had (possibly/probably) married her (possibly/probably) deceased first husband’s (half) uncle. I don’t want to leave you thinking that this kind of thing was present in only one side of my family. Oh no. My father’s side has an interesting tale to tell too …
William Fisher and Hannah Perry were married in Collingbourne Kingston on 10 March 1806. They already had one son together before the marriage, but would go on to have another 10 children. I am descended from Jacob (3 x great-grandfather), born in 1813, but amongst his 3 younger sisters was Jemima, born c.1815 – she was christened on 24 March of that year in the parish church, St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s church, Collingbourne Kingston. © Graeme Harvey
On 05 October 1833, Jemima married William Smith in Collingbourne Kingston church. The couple had a daughter, Emma, born out of wedlock, and then another 10 (much like her own parents).:
- Emma Fisher
- George Smith
- Jane Mary Smith
- William Smith
- Henry Smith
- Louisa Smith
- Thomas Smith
- Martha Smith
- Jemima Smith
- Daniel Smith
- John Smith
In early 1855, Jemima and William left England aboard the Asiatic, bound for Australia – perhaps prompted by the gold rushes of the 1850s – as “assisted immigrants” (that is, people whose passage was subsidised or paid for through one of the several assisted immigration schemes which operated to New South Wales from the United Kingdom and other countries). They arrived in Sydney (or possibly Newcastle) on 25 May 1855.
They had travelled with a number of their children, but not Emma or Jane who were by this time married with families of their own. Emma married George Romans in Hounslow (then Middlesex) on 23 September 1860. Emma’s sister Jane married William Annetts on 29 May 1855 in Collingbourne Ducis.
It was Jane and William who were the next to travel to Australia. On 24 February 1857 the pair – and their two children, Mary Jane and Charles – left England. Approximately 90 days later the Herefordshire arrived in New South Wales.
Around this time a number of William Annetts’ siblings made the journey, including his brother Thomas. Thomas married Martha Smith, Jane’s sister, on Boxing Day 1864 in Gundagai, and they had 8 children before his death in October 1886.
LA HOGUE – From a painting by Jack Spurling illustrated in “SAIL: The Romance of the Clipper Ships”
By this time Emma, Martha’s eldest sister, and her husband George Romans and their children had arrived in Australia (on 21 October 1878 aboard the La Hogue). As you will see, 18 year old William Romans is present.
Three years after the death of her first husband, 42 year old Martha Annetts nee Smith, married her 24 year old nephew, William.
I feel that I need to reiterate that this is not a nephew-by-marriage. William was the son of Martha’s elder (half) sister, Emma. I am a firm believer in that we, sat here today, cannot truly judge the actions of our ancestors as we do not know them, their lives or their struggles. However, occasionally you come across something that truly makes you sit and wonder.
And I have to say, this is one of them. How did that happen? How was it received in the family? In the wider community? How did they overcome any ‘opposition’? Its one of the down sides of family history – especially when its half a world away! – that you’ll never know all the answers (unless you’re incredibly lucky) … which in this instance is a crying shame.
They went on to have two daughters (bringing Martha’s total number of births up to 10 – in league with her mother and grandmother!), Albertha Muriel and Letha Marion.
Martha Smith with husband/nephew William Romans