Friday, December 30, 2011

Why were the Keough children were admitted to the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children?

Annie Nicholson was the third child of Fanny Norman and Henry Nicholls, two convicts who had been transported to Hobart in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania, Australia); and a younger sister of my Great, Great Grandmother, Louisa Nicholls. 

Note: Some of Anne's siblings were given the "real" surname of her father, Henry Nicholls, and other's had their name given as Nicholson. It seems ex-convicts commonly changed their names to remove the stigma of being a transported criminal.

Anne was born on the 16 March 1858 in Maitland, after her parents had left Tasmania and resettled in New South Wales. In December of 1874, Anne married William Keough aged 18 in Elizabeth Street Sydney, at the residence of James Fullerton L.L.D., a minister in the Presbyterian Church, who was occasionally sanctioned for performing "Quick" marriages.

Four children were born to this couple:

  • William Henry Albert George Keogh in 1975
  • Florence Annie Matilda Keogh in 1977
  • Victoria Ellen May Keogh, aka May in 1880
  • Annie Louisa Keogh, aka Louisa in 1882

In September of 1885, three of the children, William, Florence and Victoria were admitted to the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children by their father, William. The reason recorded by the asylum was that "[Their] Mother deserted. Father cannot look after them" William had to pay 7/6 (7 shillings and 6 pence) for the board of his children.

From the records of the Randwick Asylum of Destitute Children

The children stayed for many years in the Asylum until they were old enough (around 13 years of age) to be "Be Transferred" to wealthy households as servants, having done one years apprenticeship to the Asylum, training for their new duties.

My question however is why the youngest daughter was not sent to the asylum? Did her mother take her with her? Or was it because their mother was very ill? Anne died 8 years later in 1893, aged only 36 of "Chronic Brights Disease", a kidney disease, and described in terms of the day at the link provided.

I have the records, but not necessarily the real reasons or answers. I have a theory that the children were sent to the asylum as Anne was too ill to look after her children, rather than deserting her family, or so I would like to think!

  • New South Wales, Australia, Registers for the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children, 1852 - 1915; NSW State Records
  • Certificates from the NSW Register of Births Deaths and Marriages held by self

Thursday, December 22, 2011

William Clarence Morgan : Christmas in waiting

My Great Grandfather's brother, William Clarence Morgan, a member of the 20th Battalion A.I.F. was wounded in France during WWI, on the 27th July 1918,  suffering a gunshot wound to the stomach. Many letters were exchanged between my Great, Great Grandparents  and the War Office as they were justifiably concerned about the welfare of their son. Below is a sample of the correspondence Will sent to family members during his convalescence and in anticipation of getting home in time for Christmas.

Will is in the last bed on the left
The verso reads:
Dear Niece, (26.9.18)
Just a P.C. to let you know I am getting on well now, and that I received your parcel which pleased me very well indeed. I suppose by now you have all heard the news of me being wounded. I am presently in our own [Australian] Hospital at Harefield Park, having being shifted from Bath Hospital on Saturday last. Well, I hope to be on my way home before Christmas. I have been marked for home, but don't know when I will be leaving here. I hope you are a good girl & getting on well at school, and that [your] Mother and Father are well & that you visit Grandma & Grandpa often. No more this time, so I will close now

With love & Kisses from Uncle Will

"Christmas Compliments"
from wounded Australian Soldiers, UK, 1918
However, Will was a very resilient young man, who after being transferred through many hospitals, both in France and the UK, was eventually deemed fit to return to Australia. This card sends his Christmas Greetings to his family. He was a prolific letter and postcard writer, and seemed very fond of his nieces, including my Grandmother and her sister, as I still have many of the cards he sent. 

This photograph was sent to my Great Grandfather, Thomas Morgan, and it reads:

My Dear Brother, (9.11.18)

I am doing A.1. at Lloyds now & looking forward to getting home. We should have  left here yesterday, but once again the boat was postponed. Never mind, we will all be home shortly & peace will be signed before XMAS. Keep a pint of Tooths XXX [brand of beer] should I be late in arriving old boy. Last word I had from Bert [another brother], he was doing O.K.  You will pick yours truly out in this Photo; doesn't look  as if I have just done 14 weeks in bed. Takes more than a hard headed "Fritz" [slang for  a German soldier] to kill a Morgan, although I had a narrow squeak. Love to Fran [my Great Grandmother]  and children.

Your affectionate Bro, Will

Will eventually returned home to Sydney and was discharged as "Medically Unfit" on the 19 July 1919, He had travelled from Weymouth, UK aboard the Hospital Transport Ship "Czar" which firstly arrived in Melbourne on the 16th May 1919. 

From the photograph below, it seems the whole family turned out to greet him and I'm pretty sure that there was more than one cold beer put aside for him! 

Morgan Family gathered to welcome home William Clarence, Lidcombe NSW, 1919
Surrounded by flags of the World