thomas & hart buck – spirit merchants – 1822

Following my last post hart buck – spirit merchant – 1833  I was contacted by Laura in England who owns a very interesting piece of BUCK family history.

Laura is a collector of old bottles. She has an impressive old spirit flagon in her collection which is hand inscribed with the letters “T & H B G”.

T&HB Grantham_1_HR

Two gallon tapered waisted type spirit flagon hand-inscribed with the letters “T & H B G”

Laura has done some research and believes the initials link the flagon to the business of Thomas and Hart Buck, Spirit Merchants of Grantham, Lincolnshire. She provided me will the following information:

Hi Susan

After doing some research at The British Library in London I have found the earliest reference to Thomas and Hart Buck at Market Place in Grantham in 1822-23. See my photos below taken from Pigot & Co’s Commercial Directory.

The flagon itself is a two gallon tapered waisted type spirit flagon. And is manufactured in a ‘Sgraffito’ style i.e. the lettering is hand-scribed by a skilled artisan with a sharp instrument. This, as well as it’s age, makes it a highly desirable item amongst bottle collectors.

We don’t know if the flagon was produced during the period at the business was at Market Place or from when they moved to the High Street in 1833? But would be able to date somewhere between 1822 (as the directory) to 1842 at Thomas Buck’s death.

Hope my photographs are of interest to you and your family.

Kind Regards,

T&HB Grantham_2_MR

‘Sgraffito’ style – lettering is hand-scribed by a skilled artisan with a sharp instrument.

Thank you Laura for sharing your treasure with me. It’s wonderful to see this piece of family history in such good condition at over 195 years old.

Pigot and Co’s Commercial Directory of 1822-23 lists Thomas and Hart Buck of Market Place, Grantham trading as Spirit Merchants. Also listed is William Smith, the publican of the White Hart Hotel in High Street, Grantham.

T&HB Grantham_Pigots 1822-23

Thomas Buck and his son Hart are listed as Wine and Spirit Merchants in Grantham, Lincolnshire. [Pigot and Co’s Commercial Directory of 1822-23]

Hart BUCK (1787-1858) had a draper’s business in Market Place, Grantham when his first wife Jane SMITH died in February 1824.

The Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury – Friday 13 February 1824
DEATH: At Grantham on Thursday the 5th inst. Mrs Buck, wife of Mr Hart Buck, of that place, aged 33, leaving seven small children, with a disconsolate husband, to lament the loss of a most valuable wife and tender mother. Her remains were interred at Grantham on Sunday and six of her children were christened at the same time.

Thomas BUCK (1763-1842) was Hart BUCK’s  father. I believe Thomas had a business of some sort in Epperstone, Nottinghamshire in the 1780s before moving to Grantham. Thomas was a witness on the church register when Hart married his second wife Mary SMITH (nee HALL) in Grantham on 7th November 1824.

The Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury – Friday 12 November 1824
MARRIAGE: On Sunday last, at Grantham, Mr Hart Buck, draper of that place to Mrs Smith, daughter of Mr Hall grazier of Pointon, near Folkingham.

It baffled me for a long while how Hart BUCK, a draper of Grantham, took on a spirit and wine business. Then I found some newspaper articles relating to his wife Mary’s first marriage:

The Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury – 20th October 1815
MARRIAGE: At Brussels on the 4th instant Mr William SMITH, army saddler to Miss Mary HALL, third daughter of Mr William HALL, grazier of Pointon in this County. The ceremony was performed in the Chapel Royal by the Rev Mr TUNNEY, Chaplain to the Forces.

William SMITH was Mary HALL’s first husband. He served with the Duke of Wellington’s forces at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Or, he arrived as part of the occupying forces based in Brussels soon after the victory over Napoleon’s forces. Mary may have been living in Brussels as a governess or a ladies companion, she was 28 years at time of her marriage to William who was 26-27 years.


English artillery officers at the battle of Waterloo [Original drawing after George Jones.]

William and Mary SMITH settled in Grantham after the war and William was the publican of the White Hart Hotel in the High Street, as listed in Pigot & Co’s Directory of 1922-23.

I have found a curious legal notice in the The Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury dated 9th April 1824. William SMITH, innkeeper of Grantham assigns over all his estate to Hart BUCK and two other executors Lawrence WYLES and Edward JACKSON.


1824-04-09_Stamford Mercury_Buck_William Smith

The Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury – 9th April 1824.

It is curious because it is not worded as a formal bankrupt notice and William SMITH does not appear in the list of bankrupts published in the newspaper of that time.

It might be a case that the executors of William SMITH’s estate stepped in to manage the business before it was declared insolvent. Another possibility is that William, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, was not well. Did he have physical wounds or did he suffer from battle shock?

There are no records of William’s death in or around Grantham in 1824, but I found a parish burial of William SMITH at St Paul in the Bail, Lincoln on 15 October 1824:


William Smith burial 1824 page22

Extract of burials in the Parish of St Paul in the Bail, Lincoln 1824. [Lincolnshire Archives]

William was most likely committed to the asylum in Lincoln in early April where I imagine he suffered greatly for six months until his death and burial on 15 October 1824 at the age of 35 years.

His widow Mary married Hart BUCK three weeks later in Grantham on 7th November 1824. The marriage was, no doubt, advantageous and a comfort to them both. Hart was widowed in February, lost his youngest son in July, and had six children under 10 years; and Mary lost her livelihood and her husband to the enduring impact of war. 1824 proved to be a very traumatic year for them all.

From information I have found in newspapers, directories and census returns it appears Hart and Mary and family lived a good life. Hart BUCK is listed as both a draper and wine and spirit merchant in Market Place, Grantham until 1833 when the family moved to High Street.

Buck_Hart_Spirit Merchant_Buck_18330628_Stamford Mercury

The Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury – 28th June 1833.

Hart BUCK’s father Thomas BUCK died in Grantham in 1842. Hart and Mary BUCK moved to Newark Upon Trent, Nottinghamshire sometime after the 1841 Census. They are in Newark in the 1851 Census and living back in Grantham and Little Gonerby by 1952.

In his last will and testament dated 1855, Hart BUCK also had the copy hold title to “The Wheatsheaf” in Long Bennington, Lincoln. Hart died in December 1858 in Little Gonerby.

The Grantham Journal – Saturday, 11th December 1858.

DEATH: At Grantham, on Sunday last, Mr Hart Buck senr; aged 71 yrs.

OBITUARYWe this week record the decease of the oldest tradesman in the town of Grantham – Mr Hart Buck – in the 72nd year of his age. For more than half a century in his business transactions he maintained the respect and esteem of the community amongst which he resided. His decease was somewhat unexpected, a circumstance which invariably adds to the grief of a bereaved family.

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Sources:The British Newspaper Archive website; Parish Records Lincolnshire Archives; photos of flagon and Pigot & Co’s directory by Laura Barton.


hart buck – spirit merchant – 1833

My last post on this blog was 11 months ago!

I am posting this newspaper snippet from 1833 which raises more questions than answers. 

Hart Buck Spirit Merchant advertisement [Stamford Mercury 28 June 1833]

Hart Buck Spirit Merchant advertisement [Stamford Mercury 28 June 1833]

HART BUCK, Spirit Merchant, Grantham, returns thanks to his friends and the public for the very liberal support, he has experienced for many years in the above business, and begs to announce to them that he has removed to a house in the High-street, opposite the Post-office, where he intends carrying on the same, and to serve his friends with an article of the best quality at moderate prices.

This advert, printed in the Stamford Mercury on 28 June 1833, popped up while I was searching The British Newspaper Archive website for great-great-grandfather Hart BUCK who was a draper and cloth merchant in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

It was a surprise to find he was also a spirit merchant. During the 19th century it was common for British wine and spirit merchants to buy their stock by the barrel and bottle it themselves.

Old rum bottles, Stage-coach and Tavern Days, by Alice Morse Earle,1900 [Project Gutenberg]

Old spirit and rum bottles of the nineteenth century came in many shapes and sizes.

Hart BUCK reports he has moved to “a house in the High-street“, not a shop, so I am wondering if his customers came to buy bottles to drink at home or maybe one of the front rooms in the house was set up as a tap room and folks stayed to enjoy a glass or two?

A Hart & Hound Tavern Jug which would not have been out of place in Hart Buck's establishment.

This stag & hound tavern jug would not have looked out-of-place in Hart Buck’s establishment.

This discovery definitely deserves further investigation.

POSTSCRIPT: Find further reading in my follow-up post thomas & hart buck – spirit merchants – 1822

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Sources:The British Newspaper Archive website; images Stage-coach and Tavern Days, by Alice Morse Earle, 1900 [Project Gutenberg Ebook #37272]

retouching family photos

I have been researching my family history for over 14 years now and have received some very old and battered photos from family members on various branches of your BUCK tree. It is always a great delight when they come to light as it appears no-one in the immediate family owned a camera until well into the late-1930s. Very early images are rare and they are all professional studio shots or taken by freelance street photographers.

My grandfather Ernest Clive BUCK (1895-1974) served at Gallipoli in WWI, [you can read more about him here]. I was frustrated for many years that I could not find anyone in our large family who had a photo of him in uniform.

At our family reunion in 2006 I was chatting with my cousin Peter and was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a small, faded and very scuffed photo of an Aussie soldier. I was over-the-moon to see it was signed E. C. BUCK. Woohoo! I was dancing around like a crazy lady.

Peter allowed me to take a high-resolution scan of his tiny original and I decided to create a portrait in honour of Private Ernest Clive BUCK, that I could frame and give to each of his children and grandchildren.

Thanks to my career as a graphic designer, working on complex photo retouching projects, I have the skills I need to bring my grandfather’s portrait to life. I set to work in Photoshop, adjusting tones, layering, recreating sections of his uniform and slouch hat, replacing the background and finally hand-colouring his portrait. This project took over 16 hours to complete. It’s unfortunate that the bottom of the image was so damaged that I had to sacrifice the signature, but the new proportions suit a standard 6×8 photo frame.


Private Ernest Clive Buck, circa 1914 – most likely taken in Sydney, Australia shortly after he enlisted and received his army uniform.

A couple of years ago my cousin Chris sent me a scan of this torn and battered photo he was given by our grandfather Ernest. Here is Private Ernest Clive Buck taken about 6 months after the one above, I think he posed for this photo when he was stationed with the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in Cairo on training manoeuvres in early 1915.

I retouched the large creases and scratches and the missing top corner, but decided to keep the age and character in this photo, so I retained the battered frame edges.


Private Ernest Clive Buck, circa 1915 – possibly taken in Cairo, Egypt before embarking for Gallipoli during WWI.

Next is a portrait of the BUCK family on holiday at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains in about 1915 or 1916. They are Ernest BUCK’s mother, brothers and sisters and friends. I believe it was taken by a street photographer who touted for business in vacation towns. He would have set-up his large format camera on a tripod in the street, taken the family’s portrait for a fee, and then sent them the prints by post.

This image was scanned from a modern colour 4×6 print owned by Honour Stroud, a cousin of my father. I don’t know if the badly cracked and discoloured original still exists. It would be interesting to see if the original has any photographer’s details on the back.

I spent about four hours working on fixing this photo, it was quite tricky repairing the large cracks running through faces.


Buck family at Katoomba circa 1915-1916 – Back L-R: William Buck, Ida Buck, a friend Lizzie Malloy, Jessie G Earls (Buck), far right back – Honor Stretton (formally Buck, nee Sutton). Front L-R: Bertha Legge (Buck), Jessie’s husband Arthur Earls, William’s wife Sadie, and Bertha’s husband Byron Legge.

The last image was emailed to me a few years ago by my second cousin, John Archer. This appears to have been taken in a family backyard in about 1926 using a hand-held Kodak Box Brownie camera or similar. It is a portrait of the daughters, daughters-in-law and two granddaughters of Robert BUCK and Honor SUTTON. Ida, Jessie, Bertha and Sadie are also in the photo above.

The only retouching I did to this image was adjusting the brightness and contrast, fixing a few scratch marks and recreating the section of brick wall and wooden fence at the torn right-hand corner.

Taken at one of the regular “get-togethers” of the Buck Sisters (L-R Standing: Mabel Hastings, unknown, Bertha Legge, Sadie Buck, Ida Archer, Agnes Earls; Seated: unknown, Gwen Archer, Jessie Earls, Betty Hastings. If you can fill in any of the “unknown” names, that would be appreciated.

One of the regular “get-togethers” of the Buck Sisters, circa 1926 – (L-R Standing: Mabel Hastings (Eggins), unknown, Bertha Legge (Buck), Sadie Buck (Roberts), Ida Archer (Buck), Agnes Earls (Buck); Seated: unknown, Gwen Archer, Jessie Earls (Buck), Betty Hastings.

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Original Photo Sources: Peter Stroud, Christopher Landers, Honor Stroud, John Archer. Retouched images by Susan Buck – I am happy to provide family members with high-resolution digital images of any of these photos for their family albums.

up in flames – 1897

I found an interesting bit of BUCK family history reported in The Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday 18 May 1897. I have transcribed the full news article below:

Extract from a report on a blaze at the home of Robert Hart BUCK. The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 18 May 1897.

Extract from a report on a blaze at the home of Robert Hart BUCK. [The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 18 May 1897]


Shortly after 7 o’clock last night considerable consternation was caused amongst the residents of Orange Grove, Leichhardt, by a fire which was discovered in a weatherboard cottage in the boulevard, owned and occupied by Mr Robert Hart BUCK. It is shown from the official report that a little fellow, aged three years, a son of the owner, went with another brother to procure some music, and knocked over a kerosene lamp, which almost instantly set the house in a blaze.


The Marrickville No 7 Branch of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, in charge of Mr LANGE, received the call first, and arrived on the scene simultaneously with the Balmain Volunteer Fire Company, followed by Leichhardt Metropolitan No 5 (with their steamer), Ashfield, and Newtown. Seeing that there was not the slightest hope in saving BUCK’s house, attention was directed to the weatherboard dwelling adjoining, occupied by Mr Henry DRYDEN, who, with the assistance of a number of neighbours, had removed his furniture into the street. The residence of Mr BUCK, which consisted of five rooms and a kitchen, was totally destroyed, and DRYDEN’s house, which is, owned by Mr Thomas SMITH, was partially destroyed.

This image shows the museum’s horse-drawn steam pump fire engine racing to the scene of a fire in Broken Hill, c 1905. This horse drawn fire engine spent all it’s working life at Broken Hill Central Fire Station in Blende Street, Broken Hill, from about 1897 until September 1921, when it was replaced by two motorised fire engines. Apparently Broken Hill Fire Brigade was called out more frequently to fires than any other single station in the State. When the alarm was raised, bells were set off all over the station, including the stables. This alerted the horses and the doors to their stalls automatically opened to let them out. They lined up under their hanging collars, which the firemen lowered and clasped in place before attaching the reins. Contemporary newspaper accounts advise that the two horses which pulled the steamer were called Prince and Kate. Prince worked with the steamer for about 10 years. It was said that Prince attended about 500 fires.

A steam pump fire engine racing to the scene of a fire, c 1905. This horse-drawn fire engine spent it’s working life at Broken Hill Central Fire Station, from about 1897 until September 1921, when it was replaced by two motorised fire engines. [Photo courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum online photo collection]

BUCK’s house was insured in the Commercial Union Insurance Company, but the amount is not stated. DRYDEN’s house was insured in the Mercantile Mutual for £100. The residence of Mr J. S. BAGGS had a very narrow escape from destruction, the windows being smashed in many places from the excessive heat, and it was only saved by continuous flows of water being thrown upon it.

An advert for the Commercial Union Insurance Company printed in The Catholic Press, Sat 222 December 1900.

It pays to be insured. An advertorial in a Sydney newspaper for the Commercial Union Insurance Company.  [The Catholic Press, Saturday 22 December 1900]

Last night in the Leichhardt Council, Alderman ANDERSON called attention to the fire he had witnessed that evening at which several cottages were burnt, and he regretted to say that difficulty was experienced in procuring a suitable supply of water. The matter was a serious one in a thickly populated area, and he hoped the Mayor would at once cause a letter to be written to the Water and Sewerage Board directing their attention to this matter. Alderman O’TOOLE also asked the Mayor to again emphasise the request of this council on the subject of fire alarms in the locality. There had also been serious difficulty experienced in giving an alarm at the fire, and it was hoped that prompt action would now be taken. The Mayor promised to have prompt representations made to the authorities on the subject.

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Below is an explanation on how these BUCKs are related.

  • Robert Hart BUCK (1868-1954), known as ‘Hart’, was the eldest son of Robert BUCK (1822-1895) and his first wife Sarah Ann COLLIER (1844-1876).
  • Robert Hart BUCK married Hannah Maria MONTGOMERY (1867-1953) in 1890.
  • In May 1897, at the time of the fire, they had three children: Phyllis Emily (1892-1964) was 5 years old. The little fellow who knocked over the kerosine lamp was 3 year old George Robert (1893-1943), known as ‘Robert’. Reginald Collier (1896-1957) was just 6 months old, and it is very fortunate that all the family managed to escape the inferno without loss of life or serious injury.
  • Robert Hart was a half brother to my grandfather Ernest Clive BUCK (1895-1974), whose mother was Honor SUTTON (1853-1926), the second wife of Robert BUCK (1822-1895). Honor was 31 years younger than her husband. She was only 15 years older than her step-son Robert Hart, and he was 27 years older than his youngest brother Ernest.
  • I’m not sure what Robert Hart did for a living, he may have been an engineer with the railways. I have found that he worked in munitions manufacturing during WWI.
  • The family relocated to the inner-city suburb of Waterloo for a few years then moved to the neighbouring suburbs of Marrickville and St Peters.
  • They finally settled in Lillian Street, Campsie. A notice of the death of Robert Hart BUCK appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 23 March 1954:
    BUCK Robert Hart. – March 22, 1954 of 34 Lillian Street Campsie, relict of Anna Marie Buck and loved father of Phyllis, Robert (deceased), Reginald, Dorothy, Henry and Hazel, and fond father-in-law of Perc, Grace, Adelaide, Jack, Myra and Norm aged 86 years. At rest.

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Sources: TROVE; NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages; Powerhouse Museum online collection.

anzac – lest we forget

Today, 25 April 2013 is the ninety-eighth anniversary of the landing of the allied forces at Gallipoli on the Turkish peninsula in WWI. It is a time for us to reflect on the sacrifice of the men and women who have served in our armed forces and who have fought on foreign soil to ensure our safety and protect our shores.

Private Ernest Clive Buck, 1914

Private Ernest Clive Buck (AIF Service No. 571).

My granddad, Ernest Clive BUCK enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) when he was 19 years and 5 months old, on 22 August 1914  – less than three weeks after the British Commonwealth of nations entered the war. Ernest was posted to the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade.

Ern Buck took part in the Allies landing at Gallipoli, coming ashore with the second and third waves on 25 April 1915 and was wounded in the head by a bullet receiving a slight scalp wound in 21 May 1915. Ern was shot in the abdomen and bayoneted in the chest by the enemy and left for dead during trench fighting about 5 June 1915. Thankfully he was found and evacuated from ANZAC Cove to the military hospital on the island of Malta, then by ship to the base hospital in Manchester UK.

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the 1st Battalion returned to Egypt. Ern was admitted to hospital in Tel el Kebir at the end of February 1916 when his chest wound became badly infected and he was evacuated by train to Cairo and later to hospital in Mudros. Private E C BUCK returned to Australia on the hospital ship HMAS Kanowna which left Suez 11 May 1916, he suffered from an irritable heart due to wounds received.

You can read more about his service in my post private ernest buck – anzac.

Tom Basil ‘Gunner’ Gascoigne – 1914 was a gunner on the Navy on HMAS Sydney

Thomas Basil ‘Gunner’ GASCOIGNE, AB, of the Royal Australian Navy on HMAS Sydney.

Ern’s future brother-in-law Thomas Basil GASCOIGNE joined the Australian Navy in 1912 at the age of 21. Tom was a gunner on HMAS Sydney and was wounded, losing an eye, in the Sydney’s celebrated victory over the German light cruiser Emden in the Indian Ocean in November 1914, soon after the beginning of WWI.

Tom also claimed to be the first, or among the first, Australian servicemen to set foot on enemy territory. This was immediately after the outbreak of war when a party from HMAS Sydney landed near Rabaul, the capital of the German colony of New Guinea, in order to destroy the radio station there.

When he returned home wounded in March 1915 he was given a hero’s welcome and presented with an illuminated address and a purse of sovereigns by the Wyong town leaders.


Private Roy Everett GASCOIGNE (AIF Service No. 7731A)

Tom’s younger brother Roy Everett GASCOIGNE joined the army on 13 December 1917, near the end of WWI. He sailed for England in February 1918 and spent several months training there before transferring to the 34th Battalion reinforcements. When the German Army launched its last great offensive in the spring of 1918, the 34th Battalion was part of the force deployed to defend the approach to the city of Amiens around Villers-Bretonneux.

Roy arrived in France in mid-August with the 34th reinforcements to aid in the Allies’ rapid advance, and he fought in the battle of St Quentin Canal – the operation that breached the Hindenburg Line at the end of September, and sealing Germany’s defeat. Roy remained with 34th Battalion until the Armistice on 11 November 1918 and disembarked in Sydney on 19 August 1919.

Roy GASCOIGNE joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1920 and served through the inter-war years at naval base HMAS Cerberas, as well as on board HMAS Marguerite. At the outbreak of WWII Roy served on HMAS Perth – thankfully he was transferred to another post before the ship was torpedoed and sunk at the Battle of Sunda Strait. You can read more about the Gascoigne family in my post the gascoignes of wyong shire.


RSM Harold Charles VENESS (AIF Service No. 3286)

Tom and Roy’s sister Muriel GASCOIGNE married Harold Charles VENESS. Harold was a 2nd Boer War veteran and served as Staff Sergeant Major for nine years training the 5th Australian Light Horse before he enlisted in the AIF on 16 February 1917.

Harold was appointed a Sergeant of the 1st Light Horse Brigade which was raised in response to a promise from the Australian Government to supply a division of 20,000 Australians comprising infantry, artillery and cavalry to be used at the discretion of Britain. The Brigade was recruited exclusively from the various New South Wales militia regiments including the 5th Australian Light Horse.

The 1st Light Horse Brigade reinforcements sailed on HMAT Port Sydney on 9 May 1917 for Suez and the troop bases in Egypt. Harold was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major and trained and led mounted troops in fighting to advance on Turkish outposts on the Palastine frontier. With the fall of Gaza on 7 November 1917 the regiments participated in the advance to Jaffa that followed and the operations to clear and occupy the west bank of the Jordan River. Harold was involved in the battle for Amman in late February 1918, and the raids on Es Salt from 30 April to 4 May, as well as the repulse of a major German and Turkish attack on 14 July 1918.

Harold contracted Malaria while in Africa during the Boer War. He suffered another severe case in mid-September 1918 and spent a month recuperating at the base hospital at Port Said, Egypt before returning to the field in Jordon just after the Turkish surrendered on 30 October 1918. The 1st Light Horse Regiment sailed for Australia in March 1919 without their horses, which were either transferred to Indian cavalry units or shot. Harold was discharged on 24 May 1919.

Halifax harbour on Dec. 6, 1917 shortly after massive explosion leveled much of the city. [Photo: Canadian Press]

Halifax harbour on 6 December 1917 shortly after the massive explosion leveled much of the city. [Photo: Canadian Press]

Richard Lionel PICKERING was a cousin of my grandad Ernest BUCK. Richard was the 2nd Officer on the British merchant SS Curaca. Richard died tragically from shock due to massive injuries sustained in an explosion of ships in Halifax harbour.

The cataclysmic explosion occurred on 6 December, 1917, when the city of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada was devastated by the detonation of the SS Mont-Blanc, a french cargo ship that was fully loaded with wartime munitions. The Mont-Blanc caught fire and exploded after colliding with the Norwegian SS Imo in a part of Halifax harbour called The Narrows. About 2,000 people were killed by the force of the blast and flying debris, or in fires and collapsing buildings. It is estimated that around 9,000 others were injured.

SS Curaca was docked at Pier 8 loading horses bound for the war in Europe. The force of the blast was so great the ship was blown across the harbour by the tidal wave and sank with the loss of forty-five of its crew. Until the test explosions of the atomic bombs, this was the largest man-made explosion in recorded history.


Pilot Officer Donald BUCK (CFA Service No. 79168)

Donald BUCK was born in Catford, Lewisham, England and emigrated to Canada as a young man. Donald joined the cavalry in Edmonton on 16 November, 1914 as a dragoon in the Alberta 19th Horse. He then went to Calgary to join and train with the 31st Battalion.

Donald saw action with the 31st in many battles including St Eloi, Ypres, 1st battle of the Somme, Neuville St Vaast, Passchendaele as well as the battle of Vimy Ridge. The brutal nature of the fighting is shown by the statistics – 941 fatal casualties in the 31st Battalion over the duration of the war (including death of replacements).

A friend in the British Flying Corps told Donald that they would be recruiting for a new air force. Donald joined the Flying Corps as a student pilot late in 1917 and trained in Sopwith Pup, Dolphin and Avro fighter biplanes. On 2 May, 1918 he resigned as a Sergeant of the 31st to join the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a Pilot Officer where he took further training in an SE5a, a single-seater fighter aircraft. He saw action in France and at the end of the war was flying close air support out of a field in Belgium.

After the war Donald stayed on as part of the Ruhr occupation force and flew out of a field near Cologne. He was very lucky to survive so much action with only relatively minor wounds to his neck and back. He was exposed to gas whilst in the cavalry, but was not hospitalised for it. Donald was demobbed on 4 December 1920.

Harold BUCK

Sergeant Harold Lambert BUCK, MM & Bar (CFA Service No. 86016)

Donald’s younger brother Harold Lambert BUCK was a Canadian National who enlisted on 8 December 1914 in Winnepeg. He was 21 years old and was assigned the rank of Corporal with the 2nd Divisional Signal Company, Canadian Engineers.

Harold quickly proved himself to be a brave and trusted soldier in battle and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant of the Signal Section of 5th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery (CFA).

The Canadian Corps participated in many battles and engagements against German forces throughout France and Flanders between 1915–1918. The 5th Brigade made a name for itself in the battle of Vimy Ridge which began at dawn on 9 April 1917. All four divisions of the Canadian Corps were ordered to seize the heavily-fortified seven kilometre ridge above the Douai Plain in France. The ridge was held by the German 6th Army and had a commanding view over the Allied lines.

To capture this difficult position, the Canadians carefully planned and rehearsed their attack. To provide greater flexibility and firepower in battle, the infantry were given specialist roles as machine-gunners, rifle-men and grenade-throwers. Soldiers underwent weeks of training behind the lines using models to represent the battlefield, and new maps crafted from aerial photographs to guide their way. Engineers dug deep tunnels from the rear to the front, in order to bring the men forward in safety for the assault.

Historians attribute the success of the Canadian victory in capturing the ridge to a mixture of technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support and extensive training. The Canadians earned a reputation as formidable, effective troops because of this victory. Harold won the first of his two Military Medals (MM) for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire during the four days it took to capture Vimy Ridge.

Harold died in Arras, France on 21 September 1918 during military operations near Marquion, when he was hit in the chest by a fragment of bursting shell and seriously wounded. He was attended by a medic in the field and evacuated to a casualty clearing station where he died. Harold was buried at Duisans Military Cemetery, Etrun, France, he was 24 years old.

The following is an extract from a letter to Harold’s mother from his commanding officer, dated 5 October, 1918:

Your son was a very fine chap and was one of my most valuable and trusted men. He was an exceptionally brave man and one whom no danger stopped him from doing his duty. I had recommended him for a commission and he was about to receive it. His loss is indeed a grief to me for many reasons, being one of my original men, I had got to know him personally and truly loved him for his own sake.

Sergeant Harold BUCK was the recipient of the Military Medal as well as a silver, laurelled Bar for subsequent acts of bravery and devotion under fire.

Marry Maxwell Clark's casualty record.

Private Harry Maxwell Clark’s casualty record. (AIF Service No. 1002)

Donald and Harold’s cousin Harry Maxwell CLARK was born in London, England but enlisted on 26 August 1914 in Sydney, Australia – just three weeks after Britain declared war on Germany. Harry was 38 years old when he landed at Gallipoli with the 2nd Battalion AIF as part of the second and third waves between 25 April and 2 May in what is known as the Battle of the Landing. Harry was reported wounded and missing in action on 2 May 1915 during heavy fighting to gain Quinn’s Post. His body was never found and he was finally pronounced killed in action by a Court of Inquiry ten months later. Harry is remembered with honour on the Lone Pine Memorial at Anzac Cove at Gallipoli.

The traditional recitation of the Ode on Anzac Day is taken from the fourth stanza of the poem For the fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869–1943).

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

In Flanders fields, by the Canadian officer Lieutenant Colonel J.M. McCrae (1872–1918), is another popular recitation. McCrae was a professor of medicine at McGill University before the war. He served as medical officer with the first Canadian contingent in WWI and wrote this poem at the second battle of Ypres in 1915. It was published anonymously in Punch. McCrae was wounded in May 1918 and died three days later.

Lest we forget.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sources: Australian War Memorial; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; National Archives of Australia; Nova Scotia Archives – Halifax Remembrance Book; The Regimental Rogue – Canadian battle honours; and thank you Geoffrey BUCK for providing his research on his father Donald and his uncle Harold.

fence sitting

My sister and I at a country sports carnival. My sis is not generally a fence sitter (metaphorically or literally). Not since she fell off a similar rail at the Hebel Gymkhana and hit her head.  Mum and dad had to drive 70km on gravel roads to the nearest hospital to get her forehead stitched up,

My sister and I at a district sports carnival in Queensland. Sis is not usually a fence sitter (metaphorically or literally), she is very decisive and a “go-getter”. I remember she fell off a similar rail at the Hebel Gymkhana and hit her head when she was about four-years-old. Dad and mum had to drive 70km for two hours on gravel roads to the nearest hospital to get her forehead stitched up. They left me (supervised) at the Gymkhana and I think I won a ribbon for third place in the barrel race.

I know the idiom “sitting on the fence” means not making a decision – not taking a stand one way or the other. What I’m really good at is “phaffing about” or procrastinating – not doing one thing or any of the other things.

I’ve lots to do and the time to do it, I’m just not getting it done. I have “several irons in the fire” so to speak; quite a few projects “on the go”, but they have all “broken down in the back straight”. I feel like I have lost my focus, kind of like all these mixed metaphors.

  1. My last blog post was over three weeks ago. I have four draft articles nearly there, but not quite. Do I really need to rewrite tweak that paragraph again? I guess so.
  2. I’m taking on the Family History Writing Challenge for the month of February. Mercifully it’s the shortest month and I am committing to write at least 250 words a day for 28 days and post at least four articles a week. Ok, I know what you’re going to say: “it’s no longer the 1st of February in Australia.” But I’m sure it’s still the first of the month somewhere in the world.
  3. I should be completing the second draft of the layout and design of a book this weekend. It has a tight production schedule, why am I still “fiddle-farting about”?
  4. My dining room table is piled high with stuff I need to either sort out or throw out, e.g. the Christmas cards I didn’t send. Sorry folks, may I belatedly wish you a happy New Year, a beaut Australia Day, and send you my best wishes and good fortune for the Chinese Year of the Snake?
  5. Then there’s last year’s tax return which is way overdue, not to mention the one for 2007 that the tax department keep sending me gentle reminders about.
  6. I’m seriously turning into a freaky reclusive hermit. I need to answer my correspondence and call my friends while they still consider me a friend.
  7. There are second or third cousins, several times removed, who I connected with a few months ago and who have some really interesting family history to share. I should be updating my research and sending them the information I have.
  8. I have invited the amigos over next week for Mexican & Margaritas so the dining table needs to be cleared. But I can’t just clear all that stuff into a cupboard for the night, my cupboard is jam-packed with last year’s stuff {whimper}.
  9. And, I seriously need to exercise. I know I am always saying it and not doing it, but I have a goal now. I’m travelling to Vancouver, Canada in six months time and I need to be fit enough to keep up with the biking and hiking cousins on our sightseeing trips.
  10. Oh yes, and I’ve put my hand-up and volunteered to be on a committee planning the Wyong Pioneers Association centenary celebrations. I need to write up a marketing plan so I have something useful to contribute at our meeting next month. Thankfully the centenary isn’t until 2015. Plenty of time . . . right?

Ok, I know this post is boring and of no interest to anyone (except for the cute photo of me and my sister). I’m really writing it so I can get “all my ducks in a row” and end up with a solid “to do list”.

I think it’s working, “my arse is in gear”, I’m getting down off my fence and “hitting the ground running”. When I click the publish button I can tick “numero uno” off my list and will have started on “numero dos”.

Here I go, wish me luck with the rest!

trains, turkeys and tobacco – 1879

Letter from William Henry SUTTON to his son Frederick SUTTON – 4 April 1879

Letter from William Henry SUTTON to his son Frederick SUTTON – 4 April 1879

George St. Waterloo
4th April 1879

Dear Fred,

I have spoken to Mr Smith (head clerk in the manager’s office) respecting your leave of absence; and he promised me if you applied for it about a week before hand, he would arrange it. I forward a copy of application for your guidance, so that you have only to make a neatly written transcript, with no false spelling, and send it in due time, addressed as I have given.

I thought it better you should apply for a week’s leave at once, which of course will prevent your obtaining another week’s leave before the expiration of twelve months from the time of your getting it. We will make the best arrangements for yourself and Maggie that we can, George having Mr Saxon with him at present, and John and Mary having an old couple living with them.

The turkeys are splendid birds, especially the larger one; and if they get back in condition it will not be their fault, as they are famous gobblers. I expect one of them will be victimised when “the event” comes off (which I forgot to say is fixed for Wednesday the 23rd April), but as we shall be obliged to eat it cold, I fear we shall not have it in perfection.

There seems to have been some mistake about Mrs Cunio’s letter; Mary says she has received but one, which she has answered; and she means to rate you soundly for accusing her of neglect when she did not deserve it.

I propose forwarding your ring in a small package of tobacco by next Tuesday’s morning train – so look out for it. As you have so recently heard from your mother I suppose you know as much of the news as I can tell you. When you have obtained leave you had better let us know your intended movements.

With love to Maggie and kind regards to Mr and Mrs Cunio when you see them.

I am dear Fred,
Your affectionate father,
W H Sutton.

The Turkey Gobbler

A copy of this letter was given to me in about 2006 by Mrs Win BRANDER. Win’s late husband Robert BRANDER was a grandson of Frederick SUTTON (1851-1919), the person the letter was written to.

In 1879 Fred’s parents William Henry SUTTON and Jane Penelope WELLINGTON and his four youngest sisters were living at George Street, Waterloo – an inner suburb of Sydney, Australia. William Henry worked for the Great Southern Railway as a writing clerk in the parcels office of Central Station. His son Fred also worked for the railway and lived in southern NSW at Murrumburrah between Young and Yass.

Fred is applying for a week’s leave (the only leave he is entitled to within a twelve-month period) so he is able to attend “the event” – his sister Honor SUTTON’s marriage to Robert BUCK on 23 April 1879 at the Church of St Silas, Waterloo.

Fred’s father says; “We will make the best arrangements for yourself and Maggie that we can, George having Mr Saxon with him at present, and John and Mary having an old couple living with them.”

  • Maggie is Fred’s wife Margaret Madeline CUNIO (1862-1949).
  • George is Fred’s older brother George Wellington SUTTON (1846-1929) who was an engineer on the railways and lived in Union Street, Newtown.
  • John and Mary are John Simpson TAYLOR (1847-1927) the husband of Fred’s eldest sister Mary Jane SUTTON (1845-1928), they lived in Station Street, Newtown.
  • Mr and Mrs CUNIO are Fred’s wife’s parents, Antonio CUNIO (CUNEO) and Catherine BYE. They lived at Binalong between Murrumburrah and Yass.
  • Mr Saxon and the old couple are most likely renting rooms in the family homes.

Let us hope Fred’s ring arrived safe and sound in the tobacco pouch on Tuesday’s morning train and he enjoyed his one week leave with his family in Sydney.

The gobblers we can assume were fattened up and at least one of them graced the wedding banquet on the day.

This event would have been the last time Fred saw his father. William Henry SUTTON died less that four months later of disease of the heart and liver on 5 August 1879. He was 71 years old. You can read a little more about William Henry SUTTON in this post.

proof of life lived

What is the earliest record that proves you are who you say you are?
What can you produce that shows where you come from?

For most of us living in a western society it will be the registration of our birth. Or possibly, our adoption records. For some of you young’ens out there it might even be a black and white ultrasound snapshot of you inside your birth mummy’s tummy.

My earliest record of life is this telegram sent to my grandmother in England which pre-dates the formal registration of my birth by about a month.
It says a lot – the time, date and place I was born, who my parents were as well as my grandma’s name and where she lived. Most importantly it says I am part of a family. This little slip of paper is gold to me.

From the minute we are born our parents-slash-guardians begin filling in forms and registration papers in order to sign us up to the life we have entered. By the time we finish primary school our mums have worn out five ball-point pens (and their next-to-last nerves) dealing with all the paperwork involved in getting us kids enrolled in everything from local community and school groups to federal government programs.

Where does all this paperwork go?

We could assume that by the time we reach 18, and are required to fill in and sign our own forms, there is a massive filing cabinet in a basement of a government building. Attached to it is our name stamped out on a dodgy dymo label. The drawers are chock-full of all the “necessary paperwork” of our childhood. Immunisation records, old dolomite savings bank books, school excursion permission slips, as well as regional swimming carnival ribbons and Year 8 school reports (Susan has an aptitude for history, but needs to apply herself in maths).

I know of some keen parents who lovingly save all the treasures of their offspring – baby’s first hair cut, toddler’s first shoes, kindergarten drawings in scrapbooks, best and fairest trophy for under-ten soccer. Well, these parents tend to start out super-keen with the first child, but by the third one they are lucky to remember to bring a camera along to Billy’s Year 6 prize-giving ceremony.

Then at some point there is a clean-out. We grow up and move out, and our parents decide to de-clutter. They ask us if we want to keep any of this “stuff” and, as young know-it-all teens, focusing on our future and not our past, we say “get rid of it”, or we box it up and store it on the top shelf in our parent’s garage for ten years.

When we are ready to claim our early lives, we find the box got wet at some point and now everything smells of mildew, the head has fallen off our swimming trophy and a mouse has shredded our diaries and school certificates to make a nest for it’s family.

So we’ve lost a few treasures of our youth, there are still the family photo albums, right? Sure, they’re full of fading “kodak moments” of birthday parties, family weddings, and class photos – none of them are captioned (who’s that guy? where was that taken?), most are not dated and there are just so many of them. In 50-year’s time when our parent’s minds have faded and we are doing a final de-clutter of the family home, no-one will remember who, what or when, and most will be tossed out.

And heaven help the descendants of the digital camera and email age. Does your grandma still cherish the SMS text message your dad sent her when you were born? I know you have thousands of family photos stored on that computer – but have you backed them up? What happens in a couple of year’s time when your computer’s hard drive fails? Where are your memories then – the proof of your life lived?

Yes there is facebook, blogging, “the cloud”, flickr and other electronic media. All exciting and easy-to-use methods of publishing. I’m a convert! They are great ways of storing your photos, publishing your journals, and sharing your life with your family and friends . . . and the rest of the planet. Whatever you do, don’t forget your passwords will you?

I understand not all of us are interested in keeping every treasure from our past – me neither. No, I’m serious! You’d be surprised at the amount of “my stuff” I throw out, give away or recycle. I live my life in the present and looking forward, I’m happy for my memories and life experiences to last as long as I draw breath, and hope I will be remembered fondly by those who knew me personally.

It’s just that I love social history, I like to collect “other people’s stuff”, to learn about their life experiences. That’s what I love about researching my family history, the detective work that brings an insight into how my ancestors lived their lives.

So at the end of my life what will there be to prove who I was? What will I have produced which shows where I came from?

My memories, my life experiences and my family history research.

the gascoignes of wyong shire

This is a transcript of the talk I gave as the guest speaker at the Wyong and District Pioneer Dinner on Saturday, 20 October 2012.

My earliest family connection with the Wyong Shire links back to the late 1890s when three GASCOIGNE brothers, Thomas, John and Robert would travel to Tuggerah Lakes for holidays – camping, shooting and fishing.

Gascoigne family photograph taken on the occasion of James & Frances’ 50th Wedding Anniversary, Sunday 29 May 1898.

They would travel to Wyong by train from Sydney to the new railway station at Wyong and then take a launch down the Wyong River.

The town of Wyong was beginning to grow with the expansion of the northern railway when a Sydney journalist, writing in 1896, left us with this account of the district and its potentialities:

Sometimes one wants to get away from the wear and tear of city life. Only two hours in the northern train takes one into the quiet solitude of the primeval forests, where the climate is as mild as that of Sydney. The Tuggerah Lakes are in close proximity to this dense forest, and the largest is a fine sheet of water where fish of several species abound. Wyong Creek is the backwater from the lake. Just where the railway bridge crosses Wyong Creek is growing up a small town or village named after the creek. A ferry is maintained here, as there is no bridge for traffic, other than the railway. 

A road bridge was built across Wyong River in 1901.

He goes on to say:

This district with its splendid forests and miles of rich soil is very sparsely populated. The people live chiefly by timber cutting for the sawmills, or by fishing. A few cultivate patches of land, growing maize, potatoes, etc. Nearly all kinds or fruits grow luxuriantly here, also every kind of vegetable, and all cereals but wheat.

The climate is superb, and the facilities for conveyance of produce to market most excellent, as there are both rail and water ways at hand. The land is capable of sustaining a large population, yet the district is almost as untilled as when Captain Cook sighted Australia. If a few enterprising men were to take the matter in hand the beautiful lakes would be surrounded with villa residences, and the place would throng with tourists.

I think this journo had very good foresight.

I’m going to go back a bit further in the history now.

For 25,000 years, before Europeans landed on Australian soil, Aboriginal people from the Darkinjung tribe inhabited the area around Wyong. The Darkinjung occupied land from the Hawkesbury in the south, Lake Macquarie in the north and to Wollombi in the west.

In 1825 William CAPE the headmaster at Sydney Public School became the first European settler in the Tuggerah Lakes district. He was granted three sections of land that he used for sheep and cattle grazing. Included in the grant was 500 acres for his eldest son William Timothy CAPE. This was called ‘Wyong Place’. However both William (senior) and William Timothy did not spend a lot of time on their Wyong properties as they were still teaching full time in Sydney. William CAPE reportedly had quite a difficult personality – he was harsh with his servants, quarrelled with his neighbours and had no love for the Aborigines.

In 1840 after constant difficulties with the management of ‘Wyong Place’, the property was leased to John Kerr WILSON, and in 1860 after the deaths of his father, mother, wife and son, William Timothy CAPE returned to England where he died in 1863.

William ALISON purchased the three CAPE properties at Wyong from William Timothy’s estate in 1875. This land covered the area from Wyong River in the south to Jilliby Creek in the west, and Wallarah Creek in the north to Budgewoi Lake in the east.

Alison Homestead was built, shortly after the land purchase, where it stood until recently as the Wyong District Museum & Historical Society.  With the support of many good people in the Wyong Shire I am sure it will be resurrected from the ashes in the very near future.

In the 1890s the ALISON family were affected by death duties and hit hard in the economic depression, and the property was mortgaged to pay off some of the debts. The Scottish Widows Fund and Assurance Society were able to secure the Certificate of Title from Alison and started selling off parts of the land.

In 1903 Albert Hamlyn WARNER bought 12,000 acres to the north and east of the Wyong township and subdivided the land into small farms, weekend blocks and shop sites.

By 1906 Wyong was officially classified as a town and among the first buildings erected were two small hotels, or rather inns. The Royal Hotel, built on the south end of the town in 1889 and the Commercial Hotel (later named the Grand Hotel) at the north end in 1892. Both of them were wooden structures.

In their trips to Wyong and Tuggerah Lake the GASCOIGNE brothers had seen the potential of the area and in 1899 John GASCOIGNE bought both the Royal and the Commercial Hotels. John managed the Royal and his brother Thomas was licensee of the Commercial.

The GASCOIGNE family came from the Ryde area of Sydney, they owned a great deal of land on the Putney foreshore where they had businesses building commercial boats and light racing sculls.

Robert GASCOIGNE remained working with the business in Ryde but he would come up to Wyong on race days and other busy times to help at the hotels. In 1904 a financial arrangement was made between the brothers – Robert bought the Royal from John and as part of the deal John took over Robert’s property at Ryde.

The Royal Hotel, Wyong – bought by John Gascoigne in 1899 and later owned by Robert Gascoigne in 1904. The hotel was rebuilt in brick in 1919.

At this time Robert left Ryde with his wife Marie and two sons (Robert Jnr aged 17 and John aged 15) and settled in Wyong where he remained for nearly thirty years.

As befitting a publican in a country town he soon became prominent in civic affairs – in the founding of Wyong Sports Club in 1905, in establishing the town band (in which his younger son John played the cornet) and also the Wyong Bowling Club in 1912.

Wyong Football Team, circa 1910. Robert Gascoigne Snr, back left (with white hat and moustache), Robert Jnr in front of him (with cap), John Gascoigne, 3rd from right in centre row seated.

For many years he was a leading member of both the Masonic Lodge and the Oddfellows Lodge. For Robert and his family it was a good time. He owned a private launch on the Wyong River, used mostly by his sons. He also owned some prize racehorses – trotters and pacers – which were driven in gigs by his younger son John who as well as being an outstanding horseman, was also a star winger in the local football team. Robert Snr was one of the first in Wyong to own a motor car – an imported American Buick.

In 1932 Robert retired from the hotel. He had a house built for himself in Byron Street, Wyong and he divided the bulk of his property between his two sons. Robert Jnr, was given property in Ryde and John was given the ownership of the hotel under a mortgage from his father. The gradual repayment of the mortgage constituted Robert Snr’s income for the rest of his life. He died in 1951 at the age of 90.

His son Robert Jnr had an unfortunate accident when he was 22 years old; a horse he was riding bolted and crushed him against a tree, breaking his leg in several places. For the rest of his life he was a semi-cripple with a badly deformed leg. In 1925 he married Lillian BRIDGE who came from a well-known pioneering family in Dooralong. For a few years he had a small farm on land adjacent to the Wyong River, then he took a job on the railways as a timekeeper and he left Wyong and for many years lived at Lidcombe.

In 1904, the same time his brother Robert took over the Royal, Thomas GASCOIGNE sold the Commerical Hotel and it passed out of GASCOIGNE ownership. Thomas had acquired 60 acres a Pipeclay Point in the 1890s in the area now bound by Howelston Road and Gascoigne Road, Gorokan. He went back to fishing and boat building and he built and operated the ferry ‘Wyong’ designed to carry about fifty passengers and with a draught shallow enough to negotiate the sand bar at the mouth of the Wyong River and the sea grass beds of the lake.

The Passenger Ferry “Wyong” – built by the Gascoigne family and owned and operated by Thomas Gascoigne.

Wyong was the gateway to the lakes and in what is now the riverside park there were wharves from which ferries carried passengers and goods to The Entrance and other places around the lakes.

Thomas made a good living fishing, farming his land and building boats for other fishermen. He had an orange orchard and also grew excellent grapes and other fruit. Thomas’s first marriage to Lydia MOON produced four daughters and his second marriage to Sarah PATERSON produced three daughters and three sons.

Don’t worry, I am not going to detail all ten of them but I will tell you about a few.

Of all of Thomas and Sarah’s children, the one who achieved the most fame was their eldest son Thomas, known as “Gunner” GASCOIGNE. As a member of the crew on the HMAS Sydney he was wounded, losing an eye, in the Sydney’s celebrated victory over the German light cruiser Emden in the Indian Ocean in November 1914, soon after the beginning of WWI.

He also claimed to be the first, or among the first, Australian servicemen to set foot on enemy territory. This was immediately after the outbreak of war when a party from HMAS Sydney landed near Rabaul, the capital of the German colony of New Guinea, in order to destroy the radio station there.

Tom ‘Gunner’ Gascoigne – 1914 was a gunner in the navy on
HMAS Sydney.

When he returned to Wyong in March 1915 he was given a hero’s welcome and presented with an illuminated address and a purse of sovereigns by the Wyong town leaders. Thomas married Mina DUNCAN and had two sons, he went back to fishing on the lake and in later life was a Fisheries Department inspector at the Sydney Fish Markets.

His younger brother Roy joined the navy at the end of WWI, he remained in it through the inter-war years and served on HMAS Perth in WWII. Roy married Eva BEDDING the daughter of Ernest BEDDING who was a builder and had a poultry farm and some lemon trees near where the Wyong hospital now is at Kanwal.

Gascoigne Wedding 1923 – Roy Gascoigne (groom), Thomas Gascoigne Snr,
Eva Bedding (bride), Sarah Gascoigne, Phyllis Bedding, Jimmy Gascoigne.

Madge GASCOIGNE (my grandmother) married Ernest BUCK in 1923. Ern grew up in Newtown in Sydney and had served at Gallipoli in WWI. Ern’s sister Bertha BUCK married Byron LEGGE and they settled at Tuggerah and raised their family. My dad told me that there were three families in Wyong around this time, named HAND, FOOTE and LEGGE and they all lived in the same street.

We think Ern first travelled up to Wyong to visit the Legge’s, but there is also talk he met Charlie CRAIGIE, who lived at Kanwal, when he was working at the Sydney Fish Markets and Charlie convinced him there were opportunities a plenty to be had at Tuggerah Lakes.

Ernest and Madge settled on land at Pipeclay Point, which was Madge’s division of Thomas’s estate. Ern was a builder and fisherman and they grew vegetables  – lots and lots of cabbages according to my dad and aunty Hazel who had to harvest them for market.

Madge (nee Gascoigne) and Ern Buck – 1962

Madge was a very generous and hard working person. I have heard reports from many of the folks around the district who know her, that she always had an open door and there was always a good time to be had at the BUCK’s Christmas parties.

An extract from her obituary in The Advocate in 1968 reads:

As a young girl Madge was one of the first pupils of the Kanwal Public School when it opened in 1911 and she later took an active interest in the school as a parent. Mrs BUCK formed the school’s Mother’s Club and was its secretary for 12 years. 

An honest, frank, forthright person, Mrs BUCK became a pillar of the local community. In March 1955 she inaugurated the Toukley Girl Guides and was elected as president, a position she held until her death. A strong supporter also of the Boy Scouts movement, she was elected a patron of the Toukley Boy Scouts five years ago and re-elected each year.

Mrs BUCK joined the Toukley RSL Women’s Auxiliary in 1953 and was a staunch worker. It would be impossible to enumerate all that Mrs Buck did for the local community. Hers was one of the most familiar faces at street stalls for many different charities. Whenever there was community work to be done, Mrs BUCK could always be relied upon as one of the “willing horses”. 

Madge’s youngest brother Jimmy GASCOIGNE will be familiar to some of you. He married Betty STACKMAN from the STACKMAN and WATERS pioneering families of the Yarramalong Yalley. Jimmy and Betty managed the ‘Top Pub’ at Wyong for a time, then moved over to The Entrance. They spent a brief time at Narrandra in the Riverina, then back to Wyong, first to Panania Road, then to their house in Jennings Street, where they lived for 45 years.

To show you the type of young person Jimmy was, his daughter Janice had a silver medal and certificate awarded to Jim in 1923 that recognises a deed of bravery. On the 6th November 1922, Jim along with Edna CRAIGIE saved several children from drowning at Pipeclay Point at Gorokan. One of the children was Jimmy’s little sister Gwen. In recognition the Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society of NSW awarded both Jim and Edna a medal and certificate.

Certificate of Merit awarded to James Gascoigne in 1923 by the Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society.

In Jimmy’s younger days he played Rugby League for Wyong, but really as those who knew him can all testify, his life long interest was fishing, fishing and more fishing – he had salt water in his veins.

For those of us who have lived in the area, fished on the shores of Tuggerah Lake and grown up and played on the beaches around Norah Head – we are ever grateful to our enterprising pioneers for taking a chance and staking their claim in the Wyong Shire.

[Sources: Gascoigne: an English-Australian Family History by Robert Mortimer GASCOIGNE; National Library of Australia TROVE ]

graveyard ramblings

I have a confession to make – I love wandering around in overgrown cemeteries.

You can rest in peace folks (both above and below), I have not gone all Buffy the Vampire Slayer or teamed up with the Scooby-Doo Gang. I love wandering in overgrown cemeteries in the day time.

Rookwood Cemetery 082

A brilliant summer’s day at Rookwood Cemetery, rambling through the marble, sandstone and wildflowers.

One of my favourite places to visit is Rookwood Necropolis (city of the dead) in Sydney, Australia. It’s the largest multicultural necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s estimated about one million people have been buried in the ‘suburb’ which covers an area of over 300 hectares.

In 1862 the government purchased a large piece of land for the new necropolis on the newly built railway line at what was then known as Haslam’s Creek, 17 kilometres from the Sydney CBD. It was planned out like a suburb with streets, avenues of trees, buildings for contemplation and divided into denominations according to their numbers in the 1861 census.

Rookwood was served by a rail spur from the main line from 1867 until 1948. The train carried mourners and the deceased in special ‘hearse’ carriages and left at 9.30am and 3pm from the small Mortuary Station (recently restored) at central Sydney. It stopped at pre-arranged stations on the journey in order to pick up mourners and coffins.
At the terminus inside the cemetery the coffins were unloaded by funeral directors and finally laid to rest with the appropriate rites and ceremonies.

Rookwood Cemetery 104

Great great grandfather William Henry SUTTON (1808-1879) is down there somewhere, along with his son, also called William Henry SUTTON (1844-1868). Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney
[C of E / Section A / Plot 175]

William Henry SUTTON and his son are in an unmarked grave in the very oldest section of the Anglican area of Rookwood. William Henry, Jr. died of tuberculosis aged 23 years. He was buried at Rookwood just four months after the cemetery was opened in 1868.
His mother, Jane Penelope WELLINGTON and sister Henrietta SUTTON are buried together in a plot with a small flat headstone a few sections away.

Rookwood_Cemetery 90

Jane Penelope SUTTON (nee WELLINGTON) (1818-1896) and her daughter Henrietta SUTTON (1858-1933) are buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney [C of E / Section CCC / Plot 1697].

In the old Anglican section I also found the family memorial of Robert BUCK. This grave is overgrown and rather crowded – 1 headstone covers 3 plots containing 9 souls:
1 husband, 2 wives and 6 young children. The fading inscription reads:

To the memory of Ann Emma Buck
the beloved daughter of Robert & Sarah Anne Buck
who departed this life December 22nd 1872 aged 10 months

also Sarah Anne
the beloved wife of Robert Buck
died 24th Jan 1876 aged 32 Years

also George Frederick
died March 7th 1876 aged 1 month 11 days

also Charles William
died 28th October 1876 aged 2 years 11 months

Blanch Honor Buck
died Dec 1st 1883, aged 11 months

Walter Sutton Buck
died Oct 20th 1886, aged 13 months

George Harold Buck
died March 7th 1890, aged 7 months

also Robert Buck
beloved husband of Annie & Honor Buck
died 4th July 1895, aged 72 years

also Honor Stretton wife of the above
died 1st March 1926, aged 73 years

BUCK Rookwood CE Section C plots 147-149

Together in life and in death. The close-knit family of Robert BUCK (1822-1895), a draper and
hat merchant who emigrated from Grantham, Lincs. to Sydney, Australia. Robert’s first wife
was Sarah Anne COLLIER (1844-1876), his second wife was Honor SUTTON (1853-1926).
Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney [C of E / Section C / Plots 147, 148, 149]

In August 2004 I went on holiday to England and enjoyed a couple of weeks driving around the counties staying in B&Bs and researching the branches of our family. I spent a lot of time in libraries, county archives and wandering about in parish churchyards.

The Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury” Friday 13 February 1824
DEATH – At Grantham on Thursday the 5th inst. Mrs BUCK, wife of Mr Hart BUCK,
of that place, aged 33, leaving seven small children, with a disconsolate husband,
to lament the loss of a most valuable wife and tender mother. Her remains were interred
at Grantham on Sunday and six of her children were christened at the same time.

There is no record of an enbloc baptism of BUCKs. The BUCK children’s baptism records are recorded as and when they were born and baptised between 1814 and 1824. Christenings were a different event to a baptism at that time.

Buck Grantham 286

Jane SMITH (1791-1824) first wife of Hart BUCK of Grantham, Lincs, England. Detail of a large granite headstone laying flat in the churchyard of St Wulfram’s, Grantham.

Memorialised on the same headstone are two of Jane and Hart’s children. The complete transcript reads:

to the memory of

Jane, the wife of
Hart Buck
who died 5th Feb 1824
aged 33 Years.
also Thomas son of the above who
died 19th July 1824, aged 6 months
and Emma daughter of the above
died 16th March 1829, aged 8 years.

Buck Grantham 305

Under the lichen covered slab tomb on the far left are the remains of Hart BUCK (1787-1855), his second wife Mary HALL (1787-1861) as well as two of Hart’s granddaughters Caroline (1851) and Annie (1855) who died in their infancies. A neighbouring plot holds Hart’s eldest son William BUCK (1815-1882) and his two wives, Charlotte SHARPE (1827-1873) and Louisa DICKINS (1832-1897) in Grantham Cemetery, Lincolnshire [Plots 10 / 12x].

William BUCK was the eldest son of Hart BUCK and Jane SMITH and brother to Robert BUCK who emigrated to Sydney, Australia. William was a tailor in Grantham for much of the nineteenth century. We was a well-educated man and very keen on writing and performing comic songs and skits. He was an amateur thespian and put on concerts in the town. I will write more about this life in a few months, but here is a snippet – a poem full of puns he wrote down in his scrapbook about a graveyard and its contents.

A Graveyard and its Contents
Published in Frazer’s Magazine, July 1850
There lies levellers levelled, duns done up in themselves,
There are booksellers finally laid on their shelves;
Horizontally there lie upright politicians,
Dose-a-dose with their patients sleep faultless physicians;
There are slave drivers quietly whipped underground,
There bookbinders done up in boards, are fast bound;
There the babe that’s unborn, is supplied with a berth,
There men without legs get their six feet of earth;
There lawyers repose, each wrapped up in his case,
There seekers of office are sure of a place;
There defendant and plaintiff are equally cast,
There shoemakers quietly stick to their last;
There brokers at length become silent as stocks,
There stage drivers sleep without quitting their box.

Sometimes I actually need to search inside a church to find family memorials. I found our chemists, George WELLINGTON (1781-1847) and his son George Edwards WELLINGTON (1807-1843), inside Yeovil Parish Church of St John the Baptist in Somerset.

Wellington Memorial 01

The stonemason has wrongly carved “1849” into the marble memorial to George WELLINGTON (1781-1847) [Yeovil Parish Church of St John the Baptist / West Wall of South Aisle]. George was a chemist and druggist, assistant overseer of the poor and a former town portreeve in Yeovil, Somerset. He definitely died in November 1847, I have his death certificate and an account of the coronial enquiry into his death – he was “found drowned”. Watch this blog for the full story.

Wellington Memorial 02

George Edwards WELLINGTON (1807-1843) a chemist and druggist was only 36 years old when he died of a heart attack. [Yeovil Parish Church of St John the Baptist / West Wall of South Aisle] His brother William Edwards WELLINGTON (1813-1850) also died at the age of 36 years. William died of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis).

South Petherton 177

George Frederick Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887) has a memorial etched in one of the beautiful stained glass windows of South Petherton Church, Somerset. Frederick was a pioneering chemist and druggist along with his father, brothers and several of his brothers-in-law. The glass shows the marriage at Cana in Galilee; raising of Lazarus; and the miraculous gathering of the fishes. Along the bottom of the three lights are the words:
To the glory of God, and in memory of F.G.N. Wellington, for 40 years a resident in this Parish who entered into rest May 25 1887 aged 62 years.

Moving on to Leicestershire and the rain set in. Hard to keep your shoes dry rambling about in soggy churchyards, but wet headstones are much easier to read.

Buck Lutterworth 395

George BUCK and Priscilla are from the Lutterworth BUCKs. I have not yet found where this branch connects to our branch, but I am close. St Marys Parish Church, Lutterworth, Leicestershire.

While I was wandering around the slate headstones in Lutterworth churchyard, looking for the Leicestershire branch of the BUCK family tree, I came across a couple of monuments I found interesting enough to copy and photograph.
In loving memory of
Frederick RAINBOW 
who died April 21st 1884 aged 73 years,
also Sarah, wife of the above
who died November 2nd 1893 aged 76 years,
and of Edwin Thomas, second son of the above
who died December 9th 1906 aged 58 years.
– He hath done all things well. Mark 7:37 –
Wouldn’t it be great to have the colourful name of RAINBOW? I have since found someone researching the RAINBOW family history who was happy to include these souls in their family tree. I’m glad I took the time to transcribe the headstone.
Banbury Lutterworth 1676

In Memory of William BANBURY Killed by Robbers upon Over Heath, Nov 23, 1676. A very old headstone found in Lutterworth parish churchyard.

Another intriguing find was a small slate stone covered in orange and pink lichens. It is a memorial to William BANBURY who met his maker in 1676 when he was murdered and robbed for half a sovereign on Over Heath. 335 years later I came across an enquiry about William BANBURY on a family history forum and was able to email this photo to one of his descendants.
Another mystery solved, maybe I could join the Scooby-Doo Gang.