Lorna Downing

I found this post in my drafts which I didn’t finish last year. At the time I didn’t have the words to say what Lorna meant to me growing up and I really wanted to do her justice but reflecting on someone’s life and their passing a year later gives a lot more perspective. I don’t have to write the best blog post ever, I just need to write it.

Lorna was my Sunday School teacher, guide and mentor. Her mentorship wasn’t a formal role it happened naturally over the years and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wanted to emulate Lorna to some degree. She reminded me of my maternal grandmother in her deportment. I wonder if it’s because they both studied elocution.

It seemed to me growing up that Lorna was everywhere in the community of Flaxley, South Australia. She was a pillar of the local Uniting Church and Ladies Auxiliary at the Flaxley Memorial Hall, the CWA, the tennis club and I’m sure there was more.

Here are some of the results from my brief research into her early life. If there were digital copies of more recent newspapers I’m sure there would be a lot more newspaper clippings but as the digitised newspapers stop at 1954 there aren’t.

Lorna Muriel Chennell, born 17 Jul 1929, married Leonard John Downing 7 Jul 1951, died 25 Jan 2020

1929 ‘Family Notices’, The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), 25 July, p. 8. , viewed 05 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article35751727

1934 ‘BAND OF HOPE COMPETITIONS.’, Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 – 1951), 23 November, p. 2. , viewed 05 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108394430

1935 ‘KAPUNDA FLOWER SHOW.’, Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 – 1951), 1 November, p. 3. , viewed 05 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108397389

1937 ‘NORTH BEACH PICNIC.’, The Kadina and Wallaroo Times (SA : 1888 – 1954), 6 February, p. 2. , viewed 05 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110498221

1948 ‘STUDENTS RECITAL AT NAIRNE’, The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 – 1954), 8 January, p. 1. , viewed 05 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148080352

1951 ‘WEDDING BELLS’, The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 – 1954), 26 July, p. 2. , viewed 05 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147884808

Greyhounds In The Family

Warning – historical content 1940 to 1980, racist dog name and cruelty to animals – greyhound coursing with live animals.

Nine years ago I adopted a retired racing greyhound named Squizzy. Her racing name is Tears and Rain. She’s thirteen years old now and finished racing when she was four. She loves her retirement, sleeping on my bed or the couch or maybe even her own bed. She also has a staffy best friend named Tess.

Squizzy and Tess asleep on my bed

This is Squizzy’s pedigree from www.greyhound-data.com

Squizzy has some good greyhounds in her lineage but that didn’t translate to success on the race track for her. Her paternal grandfather Brett Lee is one such greyhound.

Both my Dad and his brother, Bill, bred and raced greyhounds. Several years ago I got a large stash of family photos which included a photo of my Nan (paternal grandmother) Daphne Willison with two greyhounds – Favorite Chris and Lightning Larry.

Daphne Willison circa 1946 to 1950

In February and March 1948 Lightning Larry and Favorite Chris made it into the newspapers for their wins in coursing. Coursing is not something I agree with however this is part of my family history.

There isn’t a pedigree for Lightning Larry anywhere online that I could find, he may not have been a purebred or perhaps was only involved in coursing. Someone with more knowledge of the sport and the times may be able to tell me why this is so.

Other greyhounds they owned were:

  • Beau Cavalry 1948 – Favorite Chris dam, Cossack Cavalry sire – D.B. Willison
  • Nina Cavalry 1948 – Favorite Chris dam, Cossack Cavalry sire – W.H. Willison
  • Rotisserie circa 1968 – 1970 – dam and sire unknown D.B. Willison
Dad’s dog Beau Cavalry didn’t do very well after several attempts at coursing in 1950
Uncle Bill’s dog Nina Cavalry

Rotisserie was a racer and as far as I know wasn’t competing in coursing. I haven’t been able to find a pedigree for Rotisserie so I don’t know what his lineage was like. Dad always joked about him, saying he was “always getting slowly done” (as in beaten). Rotisserie’s pet name was Nigger. Again, this (using a racist name) is not something I endorse now.

Kylie and Dave Willison with Goldie and Nigger (Rotisserie) Christmas Day 1972
Passenger Lists For South Australia

Passenger Lists For South Australia


Finding when your ancestors migrated to South Australia can be a hit and miss affair. This is relating to those who came to South Australia from around the world or from elsewhere in Australia. There are many websites with passenger lists for ships arriving in South Australia. You may know several of them but not necessarily all of them so if your ancestors were on a ship which isn’t recorded on your favourite genealogy websites then you won’t find them.

Many wonderful volunteer created, commercial and government websites have a range of passenger lists but there isn’t one definitive site, so you need to check all of the sites possible.

I’ve created a list of the websites I know of which have passenger lists for South Australia. Passenger Lists For South Australia

*Thanks to those who have contacted me I’ve had updates already! Please download the new, updated list above.

The sites I’ve included in the list aren’t all exclusively for South Australia but have some content relevant to South Australia.

Please download the list and keep it in your genealogy resources and if you know of any more sites with passenger information please let me know so that I can add them to the list.

For The Sake Of An Agonised Father

The story of Isaac Mepstead comes from a tree I’m researching for a customer.

Isaac lived in Hythe, Kent, England and was a fish hawker.  At the age of 19 he stole some lead and iron and was convicted and sentenced on 13 Apr 1846 at the St Augustine’s Quarter Sessions.  There isn’t any more description of what he stole except on one record it says he stole a fixture.

He was in Pentonville and then Millbank prisons before coming to Australia.  His sentence was 1 week and 7 years. His father, Thomas, wrote a letter and petitioned for Isaac’s full pardon or that he at least be able to remain in England but he didn’t fully succeed. 

Thomas wrote, “May I beg the favor most earnestly of your looking into the merits of the petition forwarded you and for the sake of an agonized father attend to the prayer thereof and prevent the youth leaving the country.”

Thomas Mepsted’s letter to Sir George Grey on 11 Aug 1847

Another impassioned plea from Thomas, “to her Most Gracious Majesty the mitigation of the sentence of the said Isaac Mepsted as it may be pleased to be ordered, but particularly requesting in an humble and supplicatory manner that the said Isaac Mepsted may receive some amelioration of his sentence that will temper justice with mercy or that at all events he may be ordered to remain in this country.”
Was this an act or was he genuinely in fear for his son’s life?

Isaac and others aboard the Marion were pardoned as long as they remained in Australia for the term of their sentences.  Many, including Isaac, never returned to England.  The Marion arrived in Port Phillip Bay on 25 Jan 1848.

Isaac went on to marry and have a large family, living and working in both states of Victoria and South Australia.

De-cluttering And Updating My Workspace

In February 2020 I posted about working across two windows on my laptop and it was suggested that I get another monitor. At the time it wasn’t possible but I recently got a new table through the trading group I help to run, Adelaide Local Exchange Trading System, so I now have room for two monitors, my printer and a spot for another person to work also.

As well as helping me when I’m researching alone, I’ve been doing some one on one training in genealogy research and this set up is working very well for that too.

I don’t play many games but one that I enjoy called 0AD is great to play on the larger monitor. It’s also good for watching tv or movies, I purposely don’t have a television so I watch a lot of Youtube and Netflix on here.

What is your home office or research nook like? Does it serve multiple purposes?

Aboard The Princess Louise

My Buring ancestors came to South Australia aboard the Princess Louise from Hamburg, Germany in 1849. They were part of the Berlin Emigration Society who chartered the ship. Carl Linger, music director, composer and teacher, was also aboard with his wife Minna. Below is an excerpt of a letter home which he wrote. It outlines the journey aboard ship.

We left Hamburg on 23rd March 1849 and were at sea next day. The first few days on board are the worst: you haven’t settled down; you can’t get used to the available space and there is much disorder. The food and other things are strange but all this changes after you have been at sea a while. On 27th March, at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon, my wife happily gave birth to a healthy girl. It was in the North Sea near the Island of Texel, latitude 53 – 50 North and longitude 5 – 4 East of Greenwich, whilst the seas were running high. The small creature was received with three hearty cheers by the passengers and crew, whilst the ship the “Princess Louise ” had to be festively flagged.


Without anything-noteworthy happening, we reached the South American coast on the day before Whit- Sunday, and towards evening, we entered the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro. I shall not embark on a description of the noble beauty and attraction of this spot, otherwise my letter might become many pages in length. Here we, passengers for the most part, left the ship. For ourselves, I rented a rural dwelling on the hills, from where I could overlook the city and the splendid Harbour with its bay. Here we lived for 10 days in the enjoyment of nature and went on short excursions into the hills. Up to now our journey had been rather
slow but from this point on, things moved all the faster and a strong wind carried us quite close to the tip of Africa. The Cape of Good Hope was doubled during a moderate storm. Without untoward occurrences, we sailed past Kangaroo Island and entered Port Adelaide on 7th. August. Ours was an exceptionally long voyage, for which the blame lay partly with the captain’s carelessness and partly with the quarrel between him and the helmsman. Other ships after us often made the journey in 90 days and even in 78 – 82 days from England.


Carl writes in a very matter of fact style, especially about his daughter’s birth. I feel sorry for his wife as she “happily gave birth” on a ship. I haven’t written much about the famous Carl Linger because I’m more interested in his account of the journey from Germany to South Australia. I had no idea that the passengers stayed in Rio for 10 days. It must have been a welcome break from ship board life. My 2x great grandfather, Heinrich Franz Rudolph Buring, and his brothers would have loved the time ashore so that they could run around and play.