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.

Finds On Facebook – James Heeps

I was browsing through Facebook today and came across this picture in a genealogy group I’m part of.  Thanks to Karen for posting the photo.

Farmers Union of Victoria, Delegates At The First Conference, October 1879.

Farmers Union of Victoria, Delegates At The First Conference, October 1879,

This piqued my interest as a number of my ancestors moved from South Australia to Victoria, Australia and sure enough my 3x great grandfather James Heeps is in the picture.


James Heeps 1879

James Heeps 1879

James was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England circa 1834 and came to South Australia with his parents and siblings in 1847.  He married Tamar Bodger on 11 May 1854 and stayed in South Australia until about 1860 when he moved his family to Victoria settling in the Tylden area.  Between 1876 and 1879 James moved to the Rochester/Elmore area in Victoria.  He farmed and opened a grain merchant business in Elmore.  It doesn’t surprise me that James was involved in the early days of the Farmer’s Union as he was very active in public service.  In 1887 he was made a magistrate, in 1890 he was part of the founding of the Elmore Progress Association and stood for the Victorian General Election in 1892.  He died in 1902 and is buried in Elmore cemetery with his wife Tamar.

Here is my profile for him on

This is the only photo we have of James.  For me it is worth being on Facebook not just for the family fun and friends but for genealogy too.

The Dawn – A Journal For The Australian Household New On Trove

I’ve been interested in the Digitise The Dawn project from the time I first heard about it.  This newspaper is a historian’s and genealogist’s delight.

Louisa Lawson

“The Dawn” was published monthly in Sydney, Australia from May 1888 until it’s final issue in July 1905. Touted as a journal for the Australian household, it was filled with recipes, dress patterns, beauty advice and household hints, much like you might expect in any women’s magazine. It also contained articles on more serious matters of women’s right to vote, their struggle for equal pay and divorce law reform. But in an age where women around the world were struggling to gain the right to vote, and ask for equal pay for equal work, what set “The Dawn” apart was the fact it was produced, printed and published by an all woman team, under the leadership of the formidable Louisa Lawson.  Taken from an article by Donna Benjamin, you can read the rest of the article here.

Today all the issues of The Dawn are available on Trove in honour of International Women’s Day.

Article From the Front Page of the First Issue

I’ve read a few articles and done some searches but haven’t found anything relating to my ancestors but it has given me a greater understanding of the times they lived in.  I will certainly be reading and searching some more!