Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bucket List 5 - Time and tide waits for no man

The Tonkin Line

JDT outside his first ironmongery in Lonsdale St, Melbourne

As detailed in my previous post, my 3*G-grandfather, Uriah Tonkin, and my 3*G-grandmother, Avis Dunstan, fell victim to Cholera in 1848 in Penzance, Cornwall. Their son, John Dunstan Tonkin sailed off to Melbourne in 1859 in the "Swiftsure". Eleven years elapsed, during which time JDT lived in London, married and sired 5 children. These are my father's direct-line ancestors.

The Selby Line
Manifest of the "Spartan", 1839

Swap over to my mother's ancestors, and the similarities are chilling. My 3*G-grandfather, John Selby and my 3*G-grandmother, Hannah Clift, brought their infant sons, John and Thomas to Australia aboard the "Spartan". They had been living in Lambeth on the south of the Thames when the younger son, Thomas, was born in September, 1837. They boarded the "Spartan" at Falmouth on 23rd February, 1839 and arrived in Port Jackson on 13th May. John, and his younger brother, Daniel, were sponsored to emigrate to New South Wales. They were "tradies", with a skill - carpentry - much needed in a quickly expanding metropolis like Sydney. They were 'imported' by a Captain Bull (I gather he paid the 'bounty') at a cost of £18 each adult, and £5 each child. John's 'native place' was Kent and Hannah's 'Campbell'. Both John and Hannah could read and write. Within 14 years (ie by 1853) John & Hannah Selby owned a freehold property in Franklin Place, Glebe, and along with it came a place on the electoral roll, and the right to vote.

What was the Bounty Scheme?
The "industrial revolutions" of the 19th century caused prosperity to pass the ordinary labourer by. Bad harvests led to an agricultural depression. The Corn Laws were passed so that food prices rose, wages fell, causing starvation to set in. In 1834 new Poor Laws led to the rise of Workhouses. The condition of village labourers continued to deteriorate until many reached such a state of despair that they were ready to revolt. This period became so distressing for agricultural labourers and tradesmen that parish officials began encouraging them to emigrate to N.S.W. In NSW there had developed a thriving pastoral industry where trained labour was in short supply. The Bounty Immigration Scheme was first suggested by Edward Gibbon Wakefield in the UK. The first set of Bounty regulations was gazetted by Governor Bourke in New South Wales in October 1835:
  • The persons accepted should be mechanics tradesmen, or agricultural labourers.
  • They should have references as to their character from responsible persons, such as the local magistrate or clergyman.
  • To prove their age they should have Certificates of Baptism.
Settlers in NSW were allowed to recruit their own workers in the UK, paying the emigrants' passages. Complaints from the settlers before 1841 were uncommon. The Bounty was refused on only about 1% of applications, mostly on grounds of age. This system lasted until 1845.

The final eerie similarity
John Selby & Hannah Clift unmarked in the Old Methodist section of Rookwood

In the summer of 1848, Lambeth was engulfed by a devastating epidemic of Cholera. Just as well that John & Hannah took their two young sons to the Colonies. John left with his brother, Daniel. The rest of his extended family was eeking out a meagre living in the papermills of Maidstone in Kent, where John (3*G-GF) had been born in 1812. John's father was also named John, and he had been born in 1782 in Sheffield in Yorkshire. His mother died young, and John joined the papermill drudge line young, moving from Sheffield, Yorkshire to Bolton-le-moors, Lancashire, where he was listed as a bleach seller. It was here that he married Alice Walker at St Peters. From Sheffield to Bolton-le-moors is about 50 miles. But the papermaking business was cut-throat with a surfeit of mills, producing low-quality product. John & Alice moved down to Maidstone in Kent to work in those satanic mills. And so John was born, and Daniel was born, and as with the way of things, they dreamed big dreams, and moved to Australia, leaving their parents and younger siblings to the squalor that camped around the gradually contracting mills in Maidstone. In 1841, John and Alice lived in Maidstone, with Thomas (13), William (10, and Emma (8). John and Alice both died in July 1849, and were buried together on 3rd August in the churchyard of St George The Martyr, Borough High St, London. Their death certificates state: John on the 28th after suffering for 5 days, Alice on the 30th after suffering for 13 hours.

I wonder if John & Daniel, way out in Australia, even knew this had occurred.


Joan Elizabeth said...

The layout on this one is fine. You have collected a wonderful amount of detail. I know at least one of my relies came out under that scheme.

diane b said...

As Joan says you have done a very detailed research here and the stories are similar and fascinating.

Julie said...

I am absolutely besotted with family history. Well, history of Sydney, too. They are so intertwined.

Kerry21 said...

Hello I too am researching John and Hannah Selby and wanted to thank you for your account.