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09 March 2008 @ 03:29 am
solving the (evil?) twin mystery......(& convicts, tickets of leave)  
When I was a child there was always this myth in the family about "bad blood" being inherited. So that when any child did anything wrong (minor or huge)someone always hinted at some dark perhaps evil thing that had happened in the past, and that if you were not careful to improve yourself you would be tainted with it - or worse be already tainted. As a child the idea of it sounded quite ominous. My father would often say the family was cursed and relatives would mention one becoming "Chevalier d'Industrie" meaning "one who lives by his wits, specially by swindling", and more hints about convicts but nothing ever concrete. It was very mysterious to me. When I was a child, barely anyone admitted to having convict ancestors.

There were also hints of stories of the evil twin - and it also became known to me at a later date that twins ran in the family. My father was a twin (he didn't know till he applied for a new (full) birth certificate after losing his copy of an extract),(his sister's daughter had twins) and his father (my grandfather) was a twin. Anyhow the general supposition was that the twin/evil line ran though my grandfathers line. Over time I've managed to track down the twin mystery and it stems not from my grandfather so much as his father's wife's line.

My great grandfather Marcus and his wife Sarah Lawrence


Not until I got around to looking at maternal lines did the full picture become clear. I'd made ctc with the Kempsey Historical Society (NSW) and through them in ctc with one of Sarah's distant relatives. She had researched the Lawrence line and sent me a bunch of material including Sarah's father's Ticket of leave and copies of transcripts of his English court sentence.

Sarah's father John was a twin, & born in Gloucester UK in 1816. The other twin, William. It seems they did the usual thing twins do and play tricks and pretend to be each other etc. Often getting into trouble. In 1838 at age 22 they were arrested 3 times for minor offenses - the last being the theft & subsequent pawning of a ladies silk hankerchief. (And yes I know it's a common myth that all convicts were either Irish & stole food to survive or were criminals) but the transcripts do prove that many sent here were for fairly minor misdemeanors. In any event, William repeatedly blamed John as the instigator and this third time William was exonerated and John was sentenced "to transportation for a term of 15 years beyond the seas". (Meaning Australia).

John arrived in Australia on the transport ship "Barossa" in 1839 having sailed from London after nearly a year in the hulks at Woolwich. The hulks by that time must have been appalling. The journey to Australia took around 109 days and the convict ships just kept coming. There were 87,000 convicts who arrived into Port Jackson 1788--1849. John's father was a reasonably wealthy man and he rewrote his will when John was transported, actually cursing John and his descendants.
The curse is something that bothers me at times, since the line does have some terrible bad luck. But then if you go back far enough you are bound to discover deaths unusually strange. Fact is often stranger than fiction and in genealogy this is true.

John was fortunate to get a ticket of leave to work as a stockman, but he was never pardoned. You'll notice on the ticket of leave it was canceled in 1850 due to him being "absent" from the area he was supposed to be in. Regardless he married the daughter of an Irish settler couple (Rosanna Cartwright).

John's ticket of leave.

btw you can get a cd of all ticket's of leave, convicts etc from http://users.bigpond.net.au/convicts/page97.html though at $195 it's probably cheaper to just continue researching your line in the usual way (birth cert's etc) until you have concrete evidence an ancestor was a convict.

It's interesting how over time myths and inaccurate stories get passed down through perhaps ignorance or in wanting to cloud truths and pass the buck along. The Irish element in our family never had much good to say about the "English" and is probably an ingrained Irish trait these days (considering all the back history)..still it was a shock to find more English blood in our line than was told to me (even though it's a very mixed lot), purely from the point of view of the family covering the truth(s) up for so long. Families - you can't work em out. huh!

It's since come to light there were a few other convicts but more about them some other time. I'm currently still researching the other English line I've found on my mother's grandmother's side. Very very interesting, & involves a love story - the daughter of an English Knight Templar and a Miller's son, the daughter marrying below her "station" without permission and the family disowning & disinheriting her. So they set sail to Australia in a settler's party & their daughter later marries another well known Australian figure. Soloman Wiseman.

There's more on the evil twin & twin mythology below.

I can't help thinking of The Simpson's cartoon episode about Bart's evil twin, Hugo. :D

Current Mood: amusedamused
myrhiannmyrhiann on March 8th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
Fascinating story. How you manage to find time for this research at present is a mystery, but like photography it gives you time out. Hope life is treating you well.
velvets_bonesvelvets_bones on March 9th, 2008 05:48 am (UTC)
oh well I was lucky really to a lot of this info handed to me on a plate more or less. Getting in ctc with various local historical societies in different areas (that you know relatives might have lived near etc) is always worthwhile. Good to do check backs every few years as people donate stuff to the societies often when old relatives die etc. Often their donations of paperwork turn up lost info, old records, old newspaper articles that might be relevant.

This particular story has been on my mind a bit since just after xmas when my father got a call from a woman in Griffith whose husband was having a heart transplant. They think he is my father's twin. We're still checking out the info but seems likely.
velvets_bonesvelvets_bones on March 9th, 2008 06:20 am (UTC)
:P Since I was a teenager I've been madly in love with history etc..& the family stories etc..anyhow some of the older relatives tended to tell me things or gave me old photos etc because no one else was interested. An in the 80's another distant relative on my mother's side did a lot of family research so some of the hard work was done -

but the last few years I don't really have that much time. If I'm online I now and then do a search on one person or another, sometimes find something, mostly not. Usually these days I find things out inadvertendly reading about something else often gives me clues where to look. I find the detective like elements of it enjoyable, keeps my mind sharp.
Yathinyathin on March 8th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
I wish we had some kind of records in India... :(
velvets_bonesvelvets_bones on March 9th, 2008 05:56 am (UTC)
That must be terribly frustrating not to have things written down. I imagine there would be some records available from the time of the British occupation there but probably wouldn't be of benefit to every family unless they actually had some kind of work connected with the British or were conscripted as soldiers.

Even here where there are archives etc one has to rely on word of mouth stories from family to even get a clue where to look for information. And often the stories are like chinese whispers each time the info changes. ;o It's quite tiresome to be led down the wrong paths time and time again.
niyabinghiniyabinghi on March 8th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
That's fascinating :)
My aunt did my fathers' side family history, but we never saw it.....she did tell us there were some horse thieves out west somewhere. Wish I knew more.
velvets_bonesvelvets_bones on March 9th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC)
oh horse rustlers in the old west!!! wow. That would be interesting to follow up. Is it possible to contact the aunt or her relatives and ask again for info? I know sometimes that isn't possible but still you never know. If you know their names you might be able to do some research on your own, checking out old records, or books on the areas they might have lived. I've often found info about an ancestor in some of the old pioneer books written..of course they are a bit hard to track down but libraries are always good.
maelorin: misinterpretmaelorin on March 9th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
my families have their own misconceptions and family myths.

though so far, we're all free settlers.
velvets_bonesvelvets_bones on March 9th, 2008 05:42 am (UTC)
ha yes that's what I was originally told too....all free settlers. :p

maelorin: hackermaelorin on March 9th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
so far, everyone we've traced on my side has been a free settler into sa, or jumped ship at melbourne, or came after federation.

my ex's family is sprinkled with convicts.