A long, long time ago (or at least that’s what it seems like to me) I mentioned in passing one George Marsh Halliday, the (half) brother of my 3 x great-grandfather, Thomas Halliday Hurcombe. I know I’ve talked about Thomas and George’s mother, Ann Adams otherwise Hurcombe formerly Halliday before now (on more than one occasion, I’m sure!), but George has remained a footnote … until now …
Way back in the mysterious depths of time (aka 2002) when I was still something of a newbie and early on in my family history journey (following a move from the UK to France where I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands…), I was in correspondence with a distant relative based in Queensland, Australia. Brian had spent many years compiling what he called The Halliday Heritage, a story of our combined family, which he very kindly shared with me. Sadly, I took what I immediately needed (yep, I admit to being a harvester of names back then …) and ignored the rest. Going over it again and giving this rich seam of information the attention it deserves has thrown up some interesting titbits …
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.