You Can Research Your Home

If you live in an older home in South Australia you may be able to find out about it by following the tips from the State Library and State Records of South Australia, you don’t need to be a historian to find things out.

You will be surprised by what you can find out about the home you live in.

The State Library has a downloadable guide for Researching your locality in the collections of the State Library of South Australia which covers

Almanacs and directories
• Architecture in South Australia
• Mapping sources for South Australian history
• South Australian newspapers

as well as Tracing the History of a House

State Records has House or Property History which takes you through how to use their Archives Search, the South Australian Integrated Land Information System (SAILIS), Location SA, Maps of the Surveyor General’s Office, 1808-1946, land tax assessment returns and more.

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.

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?

Destruction Of Graves

In Western Australia’s Karrakatta cemetery as well as Payneham Cemetery in Adelaide, South Australia and other cemeteries across Australia, headstones are being removed and grave sites re-used. I’ve written about the destruction of headstones at Payneham cemetery previously;

What Can Be Done About It?

Sandra Playle has started a petition asking the Western Australian government to bring an end to the clearing of headstones in Western Australian cemeteries.  I’ve signed it and I hope that many more people will too.  Sign the petition!

Cleared headstones and monuments at Karrakatta cemetery

Cleared headstones and monuments at Karrakatta cemetery


Thanks to Chris from That Moment In Time for this poem.


I went to visit Grandma
Her stone it wasn’t there
I thought I made an error
But I did look everywhere
It was then I noticed rubble
Right against the fence
And a dumpster full of rubbish
It really was quite dense.
Then I saw my Grandma’s name
As if she was calling me
“Please help me darling granddaughter
Will you please help me be free
For crushing is the next step
Road base they say they need
I suspect that that is just a cover up
It all comes down to greed.
The land here’s rather valuable
I heard the workmen say
My lovely stone you saved for
Will be destroyed today.”
(c) Crissouli

Cleared headstones at Payneham Cemetery

Cleared headstones at Payneham Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia

Removal Of Headstones Payneham Cemetery, South Australia

I was surprised by my distress today in seeing large areas of Payneham Cemetery being prepared for reuse.

Payneham cemetery, Adelaide

Payneham Cemetery, Adelaide

I hope that everyone was contacted before the headstones were moved.

Payneham Cemetery, Adelaide

Payneham Cemetery, Adelaide

Payneham Cemetery, Adelaide

Payneham Cemetery, Adelaide

It seems such a shame to move headstones at all, we are loosing so much of our history.  I think that at the least all headstones should be photographed, the inscriptions recorded and all of the information and photos put in an online database for everyone to access freely.

I just want to encourage everyone to keep taking photographs and videos of everything around them- our families obviously, our flora and fauna, historical buildings, homes, churches, parks, the streets where we live and the cemeteries and headstones.  If we don’t record what we’ve got we’ll loose it.  I want to be able to show so many things to my grandchild who is due in October!!

An old family farmhouse is possibly going to be demolished and the property used for housing.  I don’t want to see it go.  It’s Willison’s Farm, Lot 5o Golden Grove Rd, Modbury, South Australia.  If you would like to know more please leave a comment here or on our Facebook Page.

Willison's Farm and Historic Vineyard

Willison's Farm and Historic Vineyard

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!