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.

Eleanor Isabella Welsh

Eleanor was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 1857. Her father James Welsh was a Master Mariner and her mother was Ellen Mary Chamberlain. They had five children together.

The family moved back to Adelaide, South Australia, from whence they came, in about 1860. Her father, James died in November of that year.

When Eleanor’s mother Ellen, married John Patton he had six children from his first marriage and then had another six children with Ellen. Thankfully all seventeen children didn’t live together at the same time.

In 1874 Eleanor married George Chapman at the St Saviour Church at Glen Osmond, Adelaide, South Australia.

George and Ella’s (as he called her) life is recorded in George’s diaries which are in the process of being transcribed.

Eleanor is my 2x great grandmother.

A Quaker Wedding In 1841

William Harding Birchall sits on a distant branch of my family tree.  We aren’t blood relatives however when one of his descendants contacted me with a question my interest was piqued.   The Birchalls were Quakers and these are the first Quaker records I have come across in my research.

This marriage record is very hard to read so I downloaded it and opened it in the graphics editor I use called GIMP.

Thanks to Tim Banks, a direct descendant, for the certificate. He owns the original which is a large document he has framed and hung above his computer.

Using the automatic white balance feature and adjusting the brightness and contrast made the image readable when enlarged.

This is the transcription:

William Harding Birchall of Leeds in the county of York, Stuff Merchant, son of Edwin Birchall of the same place and occupation, and Elizabeth his wife, and Lucy Hutchinson of Bishop Auckland in the county Palatine of Durham, daughter of the late John Hutchinson of Helmsley in the county of York aforesaid and Hannah his wife, having declared their intention of taking each other in marriage before the Monthly Meeting of Friends, commonly called Quakers, of Darlington in the county of Palatine of Durham aforesaid, the proceedings of the said William Harding Birchall and Lucy Hutchinson, after due inquiry and deliberate consideration thereof, were allowed by the said Meeting, they appearing clear of all others and having consent of surviving Parents.

Now these are to certify that for the accomplishing of their said marriage, this twentieth day of the tenth month in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty one they, the said William Harding Birchall and Lucy Hutchinson appeared at a public assembly of the aforesaid people in their meeting house at Bishop Auckland; and he, the said William Harding Birchall taking the said Lucy Hutchinson by the hand, declared as followeth: “Friends, I take this my friend Lucy Hutchinson to be my wife, promising, through Divine assistance, to be unto her a loving and faithful husband, until it shall please the Lord by death to separate us.” And the said Lucy Hutchinson did then and there in the said assembly, declare as followeth: “Friends, I take this my friend William Harding Birchall to be my husband, promising, through Divine assistance, to be unto him a loving and faithful wife, until it shall please the Lord by death to separate us.”

And the said William Harding Birchall and Lucy Hutchinson, as a further confirmation thereof, and in testimony thereunto, did then and there to these present set their hands.

We being present at the above said marriage have also inscribed our names as witnesses thereunto the day and year above written.

It appears that everyone present at the wedding signed the certificate, at the bottom on the right hand side there is a separate column where relatives have signed.

I love their simple vows, short and sweet.  Do you have Quakers in your family?  Is this a typical marriage certificate and ceremony?

Shipwreck Survivor, Ellen Mary Chamberlain, An Incredible Woman – Part Two

Since publishing this two part post on Ellen’s life I now have photos of Ellen and her husband James.  I don’t know how old either of them are in these photos or where they were taken.


Ellen had only been married ten years when her husband, Captain James Welsh, became sick.  The newspaper said it was a long and painful illness, to which he succumbed on 22 Nov 1860.

James and Ellen’s daughter little Clara Elizabeth, born in 1860, passed away on 4th Jan 1861 just two months after her father died.

The following years must have been terrible for Ellen on her own with the three children.  Yet in August 1867 she enters into a new phase of her life. Ellen marries John Patten at her home in Rundle Street, Adelaide.  John, a widower, had four children of his own and with Ellen’s three makes seven children. They went on to have another six children together.  So it was a real case of yours, mine and ours wasn’t it.

John was a storekeeper and postmaster in Harrogate, South Australia with his first wife Mary they lived there for approximately six years.


Harrogate, South Australia

Ellen, John and family must have moved to Woodside shortly after their marriage as this newspaper advertisement in November 1867 is seeking tenants for Harrowgate Store and Post Office. The contact person is John Patten of Woodside.

Ellen and John’s first child, Alfred John Patten, was born in Woodside, South Australia in 1868.  Woodside is a lovely town in the Adelaide Hills now, but how was it for Ellen back then?  She now has a large family and is living in the country instead of the city she’d become accustomed to.

Newspaper records show that John continued as a storekeeper in Woodside.  Alice Patten is born in 1869, and died shortly thereafter in March 1870.

A newspaper record of 14 Dec 1870 shows that there were two storekeepers in Woodside at this time.

Could this small country community support two stores?
On 4 Feb 1871 “A Serious Accident” is reported in The Advertiser newspaper. John sustains a broken arm and dislocated collar bone while exercising a young horse.

I wonder what the treatments would’ve been back then? John must have been out of action for some time as it is only the following month that he is brought to the position of making assignment to his creditors. The newspaper account said that he had succumbed to the bad times.

25 Mar 1871 made assignment to creditors

Ellen and John return to Adelaide where next we find the family living in Glen Osmond where John is once again a storekeeper and postmaster.

There are many newspaper references to the Patten’s in Glen Osmond where Ada, Ernest, Percy and Mabel were born.


View of Glen Osmond taken between 1869 and 1889.

The last record that I’ve found of Ellen and John in South Australia is their daughter Mabel Eva’s birth in 1877. At some time they moved to Western Australia where their son Ernest Edward Patten married Mabel Louise Cargeeg in 1898.

John passed away on 18 July 1902, in Perth, Western Australia and it was some time after that that Ellen moved back to South Australia.

Ellen passed away on 8 April 1908 in Adelaide, South Australia.

This is my tribute to my great, great, great grandmother.  What an amazing life she had!

How To Download Your Family Tree From


This is the pedigree view of my family tree.


Near the top left hand corner of the screen next to the name of my tree, ‘Willison Family Tree’ is a menu titled Tree Pages.  Click on Tree Pages and then click Tree Settings.


Near the bottom right hand corner of the screen it says, “Export your family tree data, as a GEDCOM file, to your computer.”  Click on the green button Export Tree.  Depending on the size of your tree this may happen quickly or it might take a little while.  It’s a good opportunity to make another cup of tea.


When it has finished you will see the above screen and the green button has changed.  It now says Download your GEDCOM file.  A GEDCOM file is a standard file for family tree software programs.  If you have a family tree software program installed on your computer you can use it to open your GEDCOM file.  Even if you don’t have a family tree software program on your computer it is still a very good idea to keep a copy of your family tree on your own computer as a back up.  I’ve spent years creating my tree on and I would be devastated if I lost it.  Please be aware that this process does not download the photographs or stories you have uploaded to Ancestry.

When you click Download your GEDCOM file, make sure you know where it is being downloaded to on your computer.

Youtube Subtitles Suck But There Is A Solution

If you make any videos for online please consider people who are deaf or hearing impaired and put subtitles in your video.  If you’re uploading your video to Youtube please don’t rely on the youtube subtitles.  They really, really suck.

Here are some examples;


Bad subtitles on youtube video

Bad subtitling


Bad youtube subtitles

Bad Subtitling


Bad youtube subtitles
Bad Subtitling

If you have a youtube channel you can create an account and link your channel to it.  Amara volunteers will subtitle your videos for you or you can do them yourself using their easy subtitling interface, Universal Subtitles, for free.

Connect your Youtube channel with your Amara account

My Youtube channel connected to my Amara account


It took me about 15 minutes to subtitle one of my videos.  Here it is

There are also share buttons for Facebook and Twitter and an email button so that you can quickly and easily share your videos with your social networks.  You can also get an embed code to embed your videos in your blog or web page.

Even if you don’t make videos or have a Youtube account you can still make subtitles for other people’s videos by joining a team at

Please consider subtitling your videos so that myself and others can utilise them to the full.  Thanks 🙂