Sharing Family History With My Grandchildren-Burra, South Australia

Inside Redruth Gaol, Burra, South Australia

We recently went to Burra, South Australia. It is about 2 hours from my home in Adelaide, South Australia. Burra is renowned for its copper deposits and the Cornish people who came to South Australia to mine it.

My Cornish Scadden ancestors did things a bit differently from others who came to South Australia. They were miners but they came later than the main influx of immigrants and chose occupations other than mining when they got here.

My Wigley ancestors from Nottinghamshire came to Burra to work in the mines however when gold was discovered in Victoria, Australia they moved there and settled in Bendigo. Here is my blog post about our visit to Bendigo.

Catherine Daglish nee Plunkett (my 2x great Aunt) was born in Ireland and came to South Australia with her family when she was very young. In 1880 records show that she was sent to Redruth Gaol for idle and disorderly conduct. She was sentenced to fourteen days hard labour. There is a lot more to Catherine’s story which I may cover in another blog post.

Newspaper Clipping from The Areas Express
Redruth Gaol, Burra, inside one of the exercise yards

I didn’t go into details about why Catherine was in gaol but my oldest grandson Mr 8 understood that it was an awful place to be, even for a short time.

Gaol Layout, download and zoom in on the photo for greater detail

Sharing Family History With My Grandchildren – Bendigo, Victoria

Poppet Head of the Central Deborah Mine
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

On a recent trip to Bendigo we visited the Central Deborah Mine and Museum to show my grandchildren a little bit about what mining was like there. We were unable to go underground but explored the above ground exhibits and parts of the old mine buildings above ground thoroughly.

My Wigley ancestors went from Nottinghamshire, England to Burra, South Australia and then to Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. In Bendigo they worked at many different mines and in different jobs.

Central Deborah Museum Trying Out The Drills

The kids were fascinated by all the mine equipment.

Central Deborah Mine Museum

Outdoors at the Central Deborah Mine Museum

As well as visiting places of family significance the grand kids like looking at our family tree too because they can see where they fit into the family. They also like the photos of the family members they know and the older photos of the ones they don’t know. I try and keep the family stories I tell them short and to the point.

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,

1934 ‘BAND OF HOPE COMPETITIONS.’, Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 – 1951), 23 November, p. 2. , viewed 05 Feb 2020,

1935 ‘KAPUNDA FLOWER SHOW.’, Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 – 1951), 1 November, p. 3. , viewed 05 Feb 2020,

1937 ‘NORTH BEACH PICNIC.’, The Kadina and Wallaroo Times (SA : 1888 – 1954), 6 February, p. 2. , viewed 05 Feb 2020,

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,

1951 ‘WEDDING BELLS’, The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 – 1954), 26 July, p. 2. , viewed 05 Feb 2020,

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

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.