More Australian Shenanigans!

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

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"

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

Martha Smith with husband/nephew William Romans


Charles Victor Hurcombe

I thought I’d follow up last week’s ‘Ancestor Of The Week’ with another that was inspired by his hair (although I have to say that although he isn’t an ancestor – he’s my 2 x great-uncle – the photo beautifully illustrates the power of genetics).

I have inherited many things from my parents – a widow’s peak and passive-aggressive arguing from my father, trick knees and bad ears from my mother – but looking at the wider family on my mother’s side and one thing becomes apparent. Hair. It tends to be thick, wavy, dark and lustrous. (Two of my brothers are blond, but have the thick waves when it is allowed to get long.) Mine, too, has a propensity for the … if I’m being kind then we’ll go for Mr. Darcy curls … if I’m being less kind then we’ll go for Don King.

I used to call this ‘Holborow Hair’ after my maternal grandmother and her father’s family. However, upon finding the below photograph it has now been altered to ‘Hurcombe Hair’.

Charlie Hurcombe

Charlie Hurcombe

Now that’s some hair.

Charlie was born in the small Gloucestershire village of Tresham, located between the National Arboretum at Westonbirt and the village of Wotton-under-Edge, on o3 February 1909. He was the eldest son and second child of my 2 x great-grandparents – Alfred William Hurcombe and his wife Harriet Robins.

Alfred was a shepherd, as can be seen on the family’s 1911 Census return.

1911 England Census

1911 England Census

Other than his sister, Edith (my great-grandmother), and his parents, Charles also shared his home at that time with a William James Meacham. There is no (known) connection between the Meacham and Hurcombe or Robins families, and I believe that little William is the brother of a Wilfred Harold Meacham who was also born in Tresham in 1910. In 1911 Wilfred is living with his (presumed) father, Frank Meacham, less than 20 miles away from Tresham in Coates, Gloucestershire. Frank was a cowman so perhaps he knew Alfred from the farming community, or his wife (Elizabeth Jane nee Clarke) knew Harriet. As to where Elizabeth is in the 1911 census, there is an Elizabeth Meacham listed as a patient in the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Given a lack of other options, I strongly suspect that this is William and Wilfred’s mother. (To set your minds at rest, there’s no death registered for an Elizabeth Meacham in that area for quite some time!)

Alfred worked for Richard Holborow at Burden Court Farm in Tresham for many years. In 1922 the family moved to Heddington (near Devizes) and he became a shepherd at Nether Street, a nearby hamlet/collection of farms. Given the proximity to Devizes, it is likely that Charlie met his wife, Violet Muriel Brewer, there. They married in 1931 and went on to have 3 sons.

Charlie & Vi

Charlie & Vi

Charlie passed away in 1994, with his wife following 2 years later. He’d worked for the ambulance service in Devizes for many years, and in his spare time started a small garden near the ambulance station. After his retirement he still visited the station and tended the garden. Following his death the other guys decided to honour him and his green fingers by creating the Charles Hurcombe Memorial Garden.

Charlie Hurcombe Cup

Blogging 201: Day 14 – Events

Before I start on the final assignment, I should like to point out that Day 12 is here and Day 13 didn’t get a look in as it was about advertising, and I’m not in a position to pay for that kind of thing. So … Day 14:

Create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a blogging conference.

Now, I’ve taken part in a few blogging challenges in my time, and am currently a member of Foodie Penpals, so there’s nothing new there for me. I have often thought of running some kind of event – either literary or genealogical in nature – and then I realised that I’ve done this before.

I was a member of deviantArt for many years, which was great fun for a while but then wasn’t so much any more, but whilst I was there and it was fun I ran something called The 12 x 12 Challenge (at least one person reading this should be chuckling to himself right now) so perhaps that can be picked up and dusted off at some point this year.

I also love the idea of having some kind of Wiltshire Bloggers Conference. But I’ll need to have a think about that. A quick Google has shown that there are no events like that in any of the directories I’ve seen, and it’d take a bit of organising and marketing but possibly do-able …


Just continuing my use of Futurama-based meme type things

Blogging 201: Day Eight – Social Schedule

I have to say, after yesterday, I ummed and ahhed about even writing up today’s assignment:

Create a 30-day plan for how you’ll grow your presence (and your blog) on the social network you selected yesterday. If applicable, create a profile on the network just for your blog.

The main reason for this is that my main blog (i.e. this one that hopefully somebody other than me is reading) publishes to various different platforms and I’ve never expressly considered the need for a distinct ‘brand’ presence for this blog on them. Which may beg the question of why sign up for a ‘course’ on branding, traffic and growth – but we’ll ignore that for the time being!!

However, I recently decided to split the gardening aspect of this blog out into another one – and so created A Wiltshire Garden. As its so new, I thought I’d hit it up with a specific Facebook Page and connect the two. Very early days yet, but I’d appreciate any visits and Likes on both! No pressure …!

As for a 30 day plan on how I’ll grow the presence of AWG on Facebook … I think it’ll mainly be through sharing other Facebook posts of a similar theme, joining some Groups and cross-posting. I’d be happy if the Facebook page got 25 Likes in 3o days, but we’ll see! Is that a plan? More like a vague idea than a plan, but there we are!

List of Garden Plants

So I’ve finally done it.

For no reason other than my own …er … enjoyment, here it is:

List of all the plants in my garden

I also wanted to include a list of all the ‘weeds’ that grow in the garden, including the lawn. Whilst I do remove certain ‘weeds’ from the centre of my beds and borders, there are areas where I let them happily do their things – mostly for the wildlife reasons. Also, I don’t buy into ‘lawn culture’ – partly because we’re on heavy clay so waterlogging in the lawn is a major issue, and scarifying the crap out of it to remove the moss is only going to give me bare patches, not perfect greenery. Plus, who enjoys monoculture? Not me. And certainly not the countless insects that love the extra flowers.

So, yes. The list is about … 95% complete as at this moment. There are some plants where I know nothing more than the genus, and some where I know the species but not the specific cultivar name.

My thanks to my mum, the internet (or at least Google and Wikipedia), and The Royal Horticultural Society Gardeners’ Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers (the ultra-modern 1989 edition…)

Lamium purpureum, Red deadnettle

Lamium purpureum, Red deadnettle

99 Problems And My Garden Ain’t One Of Them

I have a problem.

Okay, I have many problems, but the one I am referring to in this instance is my ability to procrastinate.

Especially where writing is concerned.

I am currently undertaking a … how to describe it? … writing challenge (not the correct word but right now it will suffice) with an author friend of mine.

Week One was 3 pages. Not a problem. Blasted it out of the park with five pages (and two Rocky Horror references). Not too difficult when your inspiration looks like Brian Mazza.

Week Two was another 3 pages and a plot outline. Week Two technically ended on Sunday afternoon. As it happened, both of us had somewhat shitty weeks so we agreed to extend for another day. Currently my ‘3 pages’ is standing at one and a half (of stink).

You’d think, therefore, that an afternoon spent at my keyboard would be wise, even necessary, especially as I am the setter of the Week Three exercise.

This did happen. For a short time. However, I spent an hour outside in the garden. (The 90 minute phone call afterwards helping my mum register an email address and set up her tablet wasn’t exactly my fault.)

But an hour well-spent all the same, with general tidying and preparing and weeding and whatnot.

I now have three irises in flower.

2014-02-24 14.50.10

The more exposed clematis is shooting strongly in three places. (It did this early last year too – and then it got knocked back by frost.)

Compare to a picture taken on 05 March last year:


Currently no more blue Anemone blanda in flower, but I did give a whoop (yes, a 34 year old, 6’4″ man can whoop) when I spotted that the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) are breaking ground and flowering!

2014-02-24 15.05.41

I also have an allium coming on nicely. No idea if its the Album or Purple Sensation (what do you mean, label things??).

2014-02-24 15.09.52

The hyacinths also remain strong and are coming along very nicely indeed, as do the tulips.

2014-02-24 15.09.21

And because I think they are quite lovely … more oxslip/primrose pics.

And my 3 pages?

Still 1 and a half pages of stink …

Garden Birds …

I thought I’d do a quick run-down on the birds that I’ve seen in my garden this year. This is not helped by the fact that I have a memory like a goldfish and can’t remember last week, let alone anything I might have seen in the garden over the last 12 months!

My garden is moreorless a rural one. Although we live in a terrace, the gardens are fairly large and not immediately overlooked. The rear of the garden backs onto a small lane, the other side of which is one row of houses and then open farmland, leading to mixed woodland. There is a river nearby, although far enough away that we don’t get any waterfowl in the garden (but there was one rainy night when we were walking the dog and I rescued a duck that had wandered into the road, stopping a lorry and several cars in my mission to herd it back to the river – which I eventually managed to do).

As a child I wasn’t particularly interested in garden birds. That said, in childhood gardens we always fed birds over winter and provided nest boxes of differing sizes, and saw a few species that are considered rarities now, such as the Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) and Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) as well as all kinds of warblers, finches, tits and a whole host of others. It wasn’t really until an adult and I really delved into ‘birds are dinosaurs’ that I began to appreciate birds for what they are to me – beautiful bundles of evolutionary perfection.

Our previous house had a tiny garden and neighbours both sides would feed the local birds. One side was nuts and feeders. The other was … great chunks of bread scattered on the lawn. There was also a roost of starlings nearby. Consequently the only visitors were either pigeons or the starlings.

Despite the prevalence of cats in the area, we’ve not done too badly for feathered visitors since we’ve been here – although none have a whiff of the exotic about them, I do still get a bit of a thrill when I see them on the feeders or bobbing about on the grass – especially when I can recognise them! I dare say that this list is not exhaustive and I’ll keep a better eye out throughout next year and take a bit of a note about the visitors we do get. Maybe buy some kind of spotters guide that I can tick …

Although maybe slightly updated ...

Although maybe slightly updated …

  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus

  • Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
  • Great Tit Parus major
  • Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
  • European Robin Erithacus rubecula
  • Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
  • Common Blackbird Turdus merula
  • Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
  • Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  • Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
  • Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
  • Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
  • Rook Corvus frugilegus Clearly not a Rook. Tis a Jackdaw.
  • Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula
  • European Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
  • Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
  • European Herring Gull Larus argentatus (Never fed in the garden, but present overhead due to proximity of rubbish dump just over half a mile away – which sounds worse than it actually is.)