Sunday, 7 November 2021

A liitle more information about William Armitstead 1786-1815

 What a surprise I had the other day. As my traveller card with 44 pounds stirling left on it is about to expire in June this year and the  prospect of travelling overeas getting less probable by the day I decided to use the money to collect more English birth, marriage, and death certificates. My first order of UK certificates arrived and I was expecting the death date, address and cause of death but Ellen Armitstead's certificate from 1853 in Kendal provided an interesting extra.   Unceremoniously it declared she died of old age at age 71 in Longpool Kendal. It listed that she was the widow of William Armitstead, cordwainer. I did not expect to find William's occupation or anything about him seeing he had been dead since 1815.

In 1841 Ellen was listed in Wildman St Kendal as a knitter. I was Googling Wildman St Kendal to see what I could find and here is what came up  Cordwainer building for sale  Well I can't be sure it was William's but it is in the same street where Ellen lived in 1841. I checked the census enumerator's collection path and it looks like she lived further up the street and not in  the current 3A Wildman St that is for sale. Still it was interesting to see Wildman Street on Google Street view.

Now you may ask what was a cordwainer? According to Wikipedia   a cordwainer is a shoemaker who makes shoes with new leather as opposed to a cobbler who mends shoes or makes shoes from old leather. Cordwainer is an archaic term and is only used in the name of trade guilds or associations now.

I love shoes so perhaps William passed down his love of shoes to me.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Jack Armitstead - UK travels

 Well what a time I've had over Easter. Sometime ago in the Facebook Lancashire Genealogy Group someone posted a photo  and asked if anyone knew where it was. One of the members suggested that they put it in the  Unidentified photographs of the British Isles Facebook private group.

Grandfather Jack Armitstead had 3 photo albums that Dad had very carefully kept. Unfortunately Jack did not name, date or place any of the photos. He also mixed the photos on the page so there might be an Australian one with an American one and as well as a British one.

These photos have intrigued me for quite a while so when this Facebook group was mentioned I ventured to post my first photo on April 3. I had a reply within the hour with a corresponding view of it to prove it. I have now added 20 and only 1 remains to be solved.

From the scattered photos it looked like Jack had travelled with 2 friends. So where did Jack and his friends travel? As Jack was listed in the 1901 census as a trainee chemist living in Ripon, Yorkshire and he left Liverpool for Australia in 1910 after having married in Liverpool. It looks like he did his travelling in the UK between about 1902 and 1910.

After getting the identifications of the photos I have tried to piece together where these adventurous fellows went.

UK places mentioned below

The Eastham locks are the beginning of their journey from Lancashire to Scotland. I assume that there were  3 of them. Jack is in this photo on board the boat with one other but in other photos it appears he is the photorapher and a fellow in a boater hat joins the other one with the cap. 

Eastham Docks Mersey River
 On board Jack is the one on the right.

The SS Setter plies between Liverpool and Glasgow so their voyage has begun,
SS Setter
If you are travelling up the west coast of England what will you see? You may see a steam coaster or collier and, of course, you would have to see the island Ailsa Craig.

Steam coaster or collier

Ailsa Craig

The Steam coasters were used for shifting cargo before land transport was in common use. Ailsa Craig provides the rock for making curling stones and  Mauchline on the mainland has the only curling stone factory left in the world. This information was supplied by members of the group

Now that they have reached Scotland they are off to the highlands. There is no indication as to the itinerary of the trip so I'm guessing they travelled by train from Glasgow.

Places in the Scottish Highlands

We have them at Taymouth Castle in Perthshire having probably travelled  on the train. They visited  Kenmore to see Taymouth Castle

The 2 travelling companions outside Taymouth Castle near Kenmore.

They also visited the village of  Killin  that is at the other end of Loch  Tay and here are his 2 mates again.

Lyon Road, Killin

They have to go to Edinburgh as it wouldn't be a visit to Scotland without Edinburgh or Edinburgh Castle. They were a bit early for the Edinburgh MilitaryTattoo as it didn't  officially start until  1950. So they were about 45 years too early.

Edinburgh places

Outside Edinburgh Castle

Outside Edinburgh Castle

Now they head off to visit Holyrood Abbey, John Knox House in the Royal Mile and then Calton Hill

John Knox House, Edinburgh
Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

As we have no dates on the photos we have no way of knowing how long he was away from home. To get home did he go by train or coach? Probably didn't swim!!!

However he has travelled again and remains dedicatd to photography.
Look at the pubs and flint church in East Anglia.

Norfolk places

The Kings Head pub was identified in 7 minutes from when I put it up-amazing. The church one had been languishing waiting to be identified. As there were a lot of Scottish photos going up one fellow said he dared to suggest East Anglia for the church as it was a flint church and there are no flint churches in Scotland. Once the pub was identified as King's Head in Heathersett Norfolk I asked if the church could be there too. It took a little while for a suitable reference photo to be found but there it was St Remigius in Heathersett, Norfolk.

The Kings Head, Hethersett, Norfolk

Lychgate St Remigius Church, Hethersett, Norfolk

Then another photo that I didn't think  had enough identifiable features. Guess what? Again this only took minutes to be identified as  Queens Head pub in Hethersett, Norfolk.
Queens Head Pub on L, Norwich Rd Hethersett.
 He definitley liked the pubs in Hethersett.

Two photos took a bit longer to identify and they weren't in Scotland. It had been suggested to me a few years ago that this photo might be from the Lake District. Here he was off in a different direction this time to the Lake District in Cumbria near Kendal  where his father  was born. Shortly after the father's birth they left to live in Preston. Once his father married they moved to Radcliffe where Jack was born in 1880.

Waterhead, Ambleside Cumbria.

Cumbria place

The next one took much investigation. There were all sorts of suggestions but it turned out to be a skew viaduct and as you can imagine I didn't know what that meant. Because of that feature it narrowed the field down but it still couldn't be recognised until I looked for disused ones. Healey Dell 
viaduct is near Rochdale in Lancashire. So more or less, it was a local for grandfather not far from his family's home in Bury.  It is now a walking track.

Healey Dell viaduct Rochdale, Lancashire

The one yet to be identified is also of a viaduct with another bridge in the background. Watch this space to see if they are able to identify it.

So if you have unidentified photos from the British Isles then answer the joining questions for the Private Facebook group "Unidentified photographs of the British Isles."  Just remember they do not identify people.

They are so responsive and very helpful.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

The Hat Box

Now you might wonder why the hat box.  This box has been with me for many important parts of my life.
THE hat box
You can see by the rusty catches that it is getting on in age now. It was once a part of a set of suitcases that my mother insisted that I needed when I left home to go to University. Yes, I was the eldest, so I was the first to leave home and I guess that was a terrifying thought for Mum & Dad. Here was their eldest leaving home and they didn't know what might befall her in the wide world of the big city, but they needed her to be prepared for any social occasion that might present itself.
This started off with hats for church as any self-respecting woman in the 1960's had to wear a hat to church. They got discarded fairly quickly as fashions changed.
In the 1980's siblings were getting married and I was working with a lady whose mother made hats. For my sister's wedding I was bridesmaid so no hat. A brother was next to marry and when the lady saw the dress that I was making to wear she offered to lend me one of hers as it was the perfect colour for my dress.

So the hat box was getting lonely, no new hats yet. Well, things were about to change as the other brother was getting married. This time she did need to make a hat for me. and a lovely red hat matched the red in my dress perfectly.
Being in Sydney a couple of days before the wedding I went into Grace Bros at Chatswood and was greeted at the makeup counter by a fellow in a lovely salmon pink jacket who asked if I wanted a free makeup done. Of course, I did, and I told him I was going to a wedding on the Saturday. He wanted to know what colours I was wearing, and I explained navy with white and blue red (not an orange red). He did a great job and the free make up ending up costing me $85 as I then needed to buy the makeup to look the best for my brother's wedding. Off I went to the wedding feeling pretty good and one of my aunts and I were the only ones wearing hats. They were just coming back into fashion. Then a cousin came up and said, " oh it's you, I wondered who the good sort was?" So, the hat box wasn't lonely anymore. it had gained a lovely red hat.
Next I was getting married and as I was not a 20 year old anymore I didn't want a very expensive wedding. I asked my sister could I wear her wedding dress but make it a ballerina length. She very kindly agreed.
Then went to my milliner with the piece off the bottom of the dress and she made my wedding hat. This put another one in the hat box.

My cousin's son was getting married in Perth in Kings Park in the summer. It can be very hot in summer in Perth and yes it was. This time the hat had to survive being in a suitcase on the flight over. No, the hat box didn't travel as I was only allowed one piece of luggage. I was not in contact with the hat making lady anymore. This time the dress was  a clear red and I had scored a bargain at the thrift shop. When I visited a hat shop in the city the owner very carefully chose some for me to try on. They were very expensive, so I explained about having a second hand dress so he quickly guided me to ones on  a rack outside the shop. Yes, there was a white one and he could fit a red pleated removable band on it and it would survive being squashed. It still cost twice as much as the dress but more in line with my budget. The red hat now had a friend, so it was not lonely in the hat box.
Perth version
Spring Fair version

East coast wedding one

Next, one of my nieces was getting married and as the wedding was on the east coast of Australia the red dress got worn again but it gained a new hat as the other one had by this time been spray painted green and had flowers added to wear to our retirement village Spring Fair. Again this hat was white and as the  red band from the Perth one matched the dress it was carefully attached to the new hat.

One July at the Jumpers and Jazz Festival in Warwick  I went to a fascinator making function. So I have kept the only hat I have ever made.
To get away from the dressy head gear let's look at some other great memory jogging caps. I was working on a Project in Burundi in the 1980's and the members of the project team at that time were given a cap each. This is a short manufacturing run so there are few in the world. I doubt that it will bring money of the Antiques Roadshow type, but it has brought back many memories of that time.
On a trip to South America how could I resist this ear warming beanie?
Now the piece de resistance- an elephant cap that one of my brothers gave me for Christmas one year. This is a bit difficult to store with my collection of elephants, but the hat box looks after it well.
Now what about the hats my mother had? Unfortunately, I don't have photos of many of her hats but her favourite one before she died was the one she wore to our wedding.  The three others have now joined the hat box. This hat box has very happy occupants now.
Mum at our wedding.
One worn to a wedding

Turban style hat

Lovely warm fluffy beret style
What started out as a hat box to set me up for my life at University has turned into a box full of stories from my life since then. The original hats have long gone but what followed has been a lovely journey for me and the hat box. It is not lonely anymore as it stores all these amazing hats and memories.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Transfer of ownership of the shot gun of William Frank Laws

 Great great grandfather William Frank Laws was a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters when he was in England. You paid a subscription to belong and if you fell on hard times they would be able to help you. In November 1867 just before he was to leave for Australia they presented him with the gun.

A family story says he carried it with him  and slept with it close by while out contracting all over Queensland.. 

After William died it was passed down the Langham line and was with Michael until recently. He asked me to find a Laws family that would like it. He kindly offered it to a Laws family member as he had no one to leave it to. Now it is with another Michael but this time a Michael Laws.

The Langham men had been keen shooting sportsmen so have kept the gun in good order and managed to add  shot and powder pouches, shot moulds, cleaning brushes, wads for the gun and a leather bag to carry the accessories. There is also a letter from the Police to identify the gun as not needing a licence as it was made before 1901.  This was kindly done by Michael to ensure I would not have any trouble while I was transporting it.

It is so lovely to be able to hand it on to a family line where there are more Laws men  to be able to be custodians of this special gun.

Saturday, 5 December 2020

THE Brooch

Sarah Sophia Laws was my Great great grandmother. She was christenend in April 1835 and was the eldest child of Richard and Caroline Goodall of Fareham Hampshire England. After marrying William Frank Laws in 1858 in Alverstoke Hampshire and having 5 children they set out for Australia. William Camper Laws was born in 1859, Florence in 1860, Lilian in 1862, Ernest in 1864 and Constance in 1866, Sadly Constance died in 1867 and William was left in England with his Goodall grandparents. ( see a previous blog post William Camper Laws). On the voyage out she gave birth to my great grand father Lionel and then had Percy in 1873 and Frank in 1876 in Queensland.

Around about that time Sarah was given or purchased this lovely brooch in England. A jeweller friend has suggested that it was carved in Turkey as at that time many items were being made in Turkey and being exported to Europe. 

This is the 4 generation  photo of Sarah with her daughter Lillian and grandson Arthur Leslie Langham and great grand daughter Edith Madeleine Langham who was born in 1914.

If you look carefully you will see the brooch Sarah is wearing.

I now have the honour of being caretaker of Sarah's brooch. The centre has mice carved in the wood and then dainty little flowers carved in ivory and surrounded by engraved gold. Supposedly mice are a sign of neatness. Did someone think Sarah was  a very neat and tidy person?


Thursday, 23 July 2020

What was life like for William & Sarah Laws in Brisbane?

After arriving from England in 1868 they must have found life here so much different from their life on the Isle of Wight and Gosport in Hampshire.
Where they would have completed the formalities  (6)
Helen Butler kindly provided the following:
On 14 May 1868, William Laws and family landed in Brisbane  from the" Bayswater". William had paid for the passages out. So under the Land Act of 1868 he was entitled to select land for a farm, free of charge but with conditions attached.
On 18 May 1868, he obtained 76 acres at Brookfield.  This was Portion 183 Parish of Stanley,County of Mogill, District of East Moreton. It was named also Selection (or Homestead) Number 49. It was classified as Agricultural land.
By 1 May 1873, the conditions of residence and improvement were fulfilled.
On that exact date, William  obtained a statement that this was true from a neighbour, Charles Gregory, and another. The improvements were stated as 12 acres cleared and cultivated, and residence and outhouse built. So now William owned 76 acres of Freehold Land, no more conditions about it .  He could go and live somewhere else. He could rent the farm out.  He could even sell the land.
As the family has  a work reference from the Blue Mountain  tin mining company  that was in Stanthorpe dated 1873 he was obviously leaving Sarah to look after the family while he worked.
Being a ship builder no doubt William was a handy house builder too.  From looking at the 76 acres in Brookfield today it was not a very flat block so it looks like there was only a small flattish area next to Moggill Creek that would have been suitable for the house. Life would have been tough for the young family. The following story from  the newspaper  gives a glimpse of life then. (1 )
Brookfield. August 9 1875.
SINCE my last,  we have been favored with the kind of weather that maketh glad the hearts of the farmers, and as a consequence they are pushing forward the planting of their spring crop of potatoes, and at the same time reaping a plentiful crop of maize. The great difficulty with which we have to contend in this district is the fearful state of the roads by which we have to take our produce to the metropolis; and from the present appearance of the road estimates we are likely to remain in that predicament for some time to come—the total amount placed thereon for the various roads from Brisbane to Moggill, Brook field, and Wivenhoe, being some £260. Some time ago a meeting of the inhabitants of the left hand branch of the creek was convened, and a deputation appointed to wait on the Minister for Works, the result being that Captain Whish was sent out to report thereon, and I believe a promise given that some £200 would be placed on the estimates for the repair of that portion; not before it was needed, for that branch of the road is utterly impassable; but if £200, out of £250, is to be spent on this portion of the road, what becomes of the right hand branch of the creek, which has an equal claim, and which is in a worse state than the former, "if that were possible!" And what become of the various by-roads to other parts of the district ? As an instance of the extreme hardship I will just relate a fact for which I can vouch, of the difficulty of taking one load of maize to Brisbane. The owner yoked a team of bullocks and loaded a four-wheeled waggon with 100 bushels, or 60 cwt. From his barn to Brisbane is a distance of fifteen miles ; the first day he had to unload and reload twice ; the second day he capsized the whole concern twice, and had to unload once— thus necessitating the loading of 100 bushels of corn six times, and taking three days to reach Brisbane. If this is not enough to make a man forswear farming I don't know what is ; and the sooner there is a little of the money that is thrown away on ornamental works spent on the roads, where it would be of some use to the bona fide settler, the better for the colony. A public meeting was held on the 4th instant, to take into consideration a letter that had been received from the Board of Education, stating that if the attendance of children was not increased they would close the school for a time. A goodly number of the parents resident in the neighborhood attended, and the most of them had what they considered a serious grievance against the present master—a too liberal supply of the birch being the prevalent epidemic. If a really good master did find bis way to Brookfield the attendance of children, I have no doubt, could be easily increased to 50 or 60. A resolution was passed to the effect that a communication be sent to the Board that the parents will use their utmost endeavors to increase and keep up to the standard the attendance at the school. At the same meeting a vote of thanks was awarded to Mr. W. Laws, for his kindness in receiving and despatching letters by bag without remuneration of any kind. It is rather a strange thing that notwithstanding the fact that the population is some 200 we are yet without a post office. There has been a good deal of sickness prevalent during the last few weeks, and quite a chapter of accidents. One young man was thrown from his horse, falling across a log ; his life was despaired of for some time, but he is now in a fair way towards recovery. Another, a son of Mr. Bumblecomb, received a severe kick on the leg from one of his father's draft horses. Our penny readings are in full swing, and make up a very pleasant evening.

As William was a contractor he was often away. He was contracting to Mr Basford on railways, building lighthouses near Cooktown and was away often according to an affadavit he gave for Clements Tonic in 1902 that appeared in the Brisbane Courier. (2)
A Remarkable Narrative,
The Case of Mr. W. F. LAWS.
It is an ill wind that blows nobody good, and in the matter under notice below it will be found that, though the ill wind had been raging for a great length of time, still, it was succeeded by a serene and peaceful calm, and the good results to be acquired from the adverse experiences of Mr. William Frank Laws, of Bayne-street, South Brisbane, will be readily understood by those who read his remarks.
"Being a railway and bridges contractor," said Mr. Laws to our reporter, " I have had to forego many of the pleasures and comforts of life in order to pay strict attention to my business, and, of course, you know that we do not always build bridges and railways within such easy distances from home that make it convenient to go backward and forward for meals. On the contrary, a contractor in my line spends a great portion of his life under canvas, and I have had a fair share of it for I have been camping out of doors doing contract work on railways for about twenty years."
"A very healthy way of living," suggested the reporter, who gauged his opinion on the robust appearance of the gentleman he was addressing.
"Sometimes," replied Mr. Laws. "It all depends upon what part of the world you are located in. ' I have had a good deal of sickness in my time through working in unhealthy parts, yet now look so well that people can scarcely credit that I have seen seventy-two birthdays; but it is a fact, nevertheless, and I was very ill once with congestion of the liver, and, afterwards I suffered from fever and ague for fifteen years. '
" Your recovery from those complaints has evidently been remarkably complete," rejoined the interrogator. "How do you account for it ?"
"Well, when I had congestion of the liver I made the. acquaintance, of Clements Tonic, and it did me the world of good. I soon got all right again ; but after my long bout with fever and ague I was left in a frightfully debilitated, condition. I turned away from the sight of food, my appetite being so bad, and a most disagreeable taste was in my mouth. Of course I had to take a little nourishment of some kind to keep myself from collapsing altogether, but I always felt uncomfortable after it, with a sinking feeling in the stomach. I was so weak that I could hardly walk about, and my body was very deficient in flesh, besides which my nerves were completely shattered, there was no life or energy in me, for I always wanted to be lying down, and frequently I went to bed tor two or three days at a stretch; but even then I did not feel contented, as I was never otherwise than restless, the sleep I got being very sparse and unrefreshing, for I could not get rid of a distressing languid feeling no matter how long I laid up. My loss of strength was so pronounced that there did not seem to be sufficient resisting force within me to cause a pain, and my doctors could not understand why it was that I had no specific tortures to indure. They used to ask if I felt pain anywhere, and when I told them I did not they were perfectly astonished.' "My con-dition was probably all the more serious because there was no pain, because it showed how utterly run down and exhausted my system was, and this reflection made me lowspirited to a marked degree. The medicines which my doctors prescribed did not help me along at all well, so I fell back on my old friend, Clements Tonic, and then I effected a rapid recovery. As a stimulating medicine for the nervous system I consider Clements Tonic is pre-eminent, and it un-doubtedly made me sleep well, besides giving me a grand appetite and putting my digestive organs properly to work. All feelings of discomfort and fatigue were left in the lurch after I had taken a few bottles of Clements Tonic, and the strength I gathered from that medicine was really wonderful. My whole system was invigorated, and before long I was in the best of health, and felt like a man with an entirely new constitution." 
'.' You don't mind me reporting your remarks ""Not at all. I owe my health and strength to Clements Tonic, so publish what I say "
In 1880 perhaps they ventured to the city and climbed the Observation Tower( Now the Tower Mill) to see the view to the East (3)
From the Observation Tower  looking East 1880
or to the West (4)
From the Oservation Tower looking West 1880
They experienced the 1893 floods and it is a family story that William won the contract to refloat the 3 ships grounded at the Botanic Gardens  in the first flood but the second flood 2 weeks later refloated them. Supposedly he still got paid but I have never been able to find proof of this.
People inspecting the ships aground at the Botanic Gardens
( 7)

Over time maybe they saw funeral carriages such as these. (5)
1892 Funeral carriage  J.Hislop 
1910 J Hislop funeral hearse

1916 J Hislop funeral carriage
 South Brisbane Cemetery

South Brisbane Cemetery 1910
Then they were both buried in the South Brisbane Cemetery- William in 1911 and Sarah in 1916

What a different life they had  but built the foundations for the family today.

"Our Country Correspondence," The Queenslander, 28/8/1875, p. 6; digital images, National Library Australia (
(2) 1902 'FIFTEEN YEARS OF Fever & Ague.', The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), 19 February, p. 11. , viewed 23 Jul 2020,
(3) State Library of Queensland
(4) State Library of Queensland
(5) State Library of Queensland
(6) State Library of Queensland
(7) State Library of Queensland