A Travellerspoint blog


Day 33 - What to do about boat people?

William Henry Hewton

overcast 18 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

Back in 1909 William Henry Hewton jumped ship at Brisbane and took up with Dora Hopp and we have been plagued with Hewton boat people ever since! Tony Abbott should really focus on this particular group of undesirable boat people (Just joking).

And so it was in Birkenhead (Rock Ferry), just a short ferry across the Mersey from Liverpool that young William grew up. WWII did a pretty good job of flattening the place, so not much of the old place to see now. I suspect it was a bit rougher in the day, than what it is today.

Rock Ferry has touches of struggle street and other parts of ordinariness, without being what I would call middle class. First of all we went tost Paul’s Church, Tranmere which was the church that Henry Hewton married Alice Griffiths in 1883. At first the church was closed, but we came back later just before the 10am church service. So we were allowed to take a few shots before the service started. I think the Rev was keen for us to join the congregation, given the age of his parishioners, we would be spring chickens.

After that we went to various places that William, Henry and John all lived in and around Rock Ferry. Nothing remains today as all of these places have been demolished and redeveloped mainly after WW2. Even so we are not talking fancy houses. And after walking around the place it is not hard to see why William jumped shipped when he docked in Brisbane. Today, being a summer day, who overcast, winding and cool. You have small dark dwellings that would have been quiet old at that time and not really fit for comfortable living conditions. Then he arrives in Brisbane, brilliant bright sun, wide open streets and housing (while basic) would have been miles better than that at home. I said it before and I say it again – it is the lack of space that I find difficult to accustom to. Every inch is contested and prized. Even the simple act of pulling the car over to get your bearings or get something out of the boot is an exercise in finding space to park or turn off. That feeling of space alone would be a big attractor (at least for me).

Then we went to St John’s Church Liscard, which is where John Hewton married Jane Jones. It is an impressive building that is now closed, but would have been very elegant in its day.

We then went to a memorial in central Birkenhead that listed names of people from the district that died in the two world wars. There was a listing for a Hewton who died in WW2 and it is a record that I only discovered in my travels, so I don’t know the exact relationship, but I am certain that he is related.

Family history matters finalised we went to Chester, which is about 30 minutes south of here. Chester is a wonderful town. Ancient roman town that has many buildings that date around 1600’s. After a traditional English Sunday lunch we went off to explore the town. 4 hours later we made our way back to Rock Ferry.

Tomorrow off to Ireland.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Day 32 - Mini-moving day

rain 18 °C
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Today was a mini moving day. We needed to travel from Minchinhampton (in the south west) to Birkenhead (next to Liverpool). A distance of some 302.km

I had originally plotted a scenic route through the Cotswold and then onto Birkenhead. I must say that I was very under whelmed with the scenic route through the Cotswold. It was a very overcast day with light showers, so that had detracted from the general view, but it was the lack of view that was the thing. Lots of green forests on either side, but not longer distance view to rolling green fields with sheep gazing contently set against stone walls and buildings.

Lee-ann spotted a sign pointing to Stratford on Avon, so as the saying goes – happy wife happy life. So I pointed the car in that direction and drove. Another thing that amuses me is that 95% of the population haven’t read Shakespeare (except what was required at school), yet we all feel a compulsion to visit the place of his birth. So dutifully walked through the respective houses of his wife and the great man himself.

After that it was the drive to Birkenhead that occupied the rest of the day. Mainly along the motorway, so not much to see of any scenic amenity.

Arrived at Birkenhead around 18:30 and immediately went to the Rock Station Hotel (http://www.rockstationhotel.co.uk/) which is a hotel that Lee-ann’s grandfather possibly drank at some stage before jumping ship and heading to Brisbane. Unfortunately there was no “award winning restaurant” so we had a nasty pizza across the road and went back to the hotel for a drink. It is a funny area with many of the local lads looking like extras from the show “shameless” and other areas looking comfortable. The hotel had a few people of our vintage dress up for karaoke night and even the barmaid asked why we were staying in Rock Ferry (Birkenhead). Anyway that scene is possibly played out in many bars around the world on a Saturday night.

Accommodation is interesting! Airbnb.

Posted by Neileeann 13:57 Archived in England Comments (0)

Day 31 - A bit of theiving

The big one - stealing a length of cloth

overcast 18 °C
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It was a frosty morning that only started to warm up by late afternoon and I don’t mean the weather.

First stop was to Stroud to visit the place where I believe the offence that got John Newman Holdman transported took place. The offence was stealing a roll of cloth from the cloth room of Thomas Ellary in August 1821. I believe that Ellary’s cloth room was located across the road from the present day Old Crown Inn, which I believed existed at that time. So my assumption is that John made have had one too many drinks and said “I will have some of those cloths” and went across the road to do a bit of thieving.

This may had been the end of John’s luck to date, as he was certainly sailing very close to the wind in previous crimes in not getting transported. Maybe it was his intention all along to get busted – only John could answer that one. Well he got caught and the rest is history.

After that we drove out to Bibury which has been described as the most beautiful village in England. Well it was a lovely Cotswold village (http://www.bibury.com/). After numerous pictures and some rain we made our way back to Minchinhampton where we just bummed around.

The wi-fi connection here is terrible, so I will upload photos when we get to Birkenhead.

Posted by Neileeann 02:42 Archived in England Comments (0)

Day 30 - I've think I have done a terrible thing!

Retracing the crime scenes for John Newman Holdman

sunny 23 °C
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Still on the trail of John Newman Holdman and this morning I set off for the adjacent town of Nailsworth. If the information provided to me yesterday is correct that John Newman Holdman lived in Watledge (and this is only a possibility) then he would have looked down at the village of Nailsworth from his home.

Nailsworth itself does not have a lot of charm or places of interest. For family history purposes there are still a number of mills that would have been the reason for the towns existence in the days of John. Nowadays it tends to be a small town that serves as a bit of a through road. Back up the valley there are some nicer areas, but few buildings remaining from the time of John. So had a brief drive and walk around before setting off to Falfield.

Falfield was the place where John was charged, but ultimately acquitted, of horse thief. It is both a hamlet and a district. The hamlet itself had nothing and I only stopped to take a photo of the name plate to prove I was there. However I believe that the crime took place within the wider district. I had previously identified a likely spot, so I headed for that. We are talking about a small hamlet with one road and a scattering of houses. While walking around I found an old fellow out in the garden and I started to talk to him about his knowledge of the place. From what I gathered from him it is likely this was the scene of the crime, mainly because there was some local history associated with a house owned by a person who disposed against John in the court case. Given John was listed as a groom at the time it is more likely that the crime occurred in the country, rather than in the hamlet.

So from here I drove to Glouster, the main town of the shire and the place where he was tried, convicted and imprisoned of the crime that got him sent to Australia. The original court house (1804) still stand and while modernised the court itself still has the original woodwork used for the bench, dock and witness box excreta, complete with built in ink-wells. I was allowed in to see the courts, but I was not allowed to take any photos. The security guard was only too happy to chat and fill me in on the courts and current crimes. He also said that the holding cells are original (again with modifications) . However because they still had a prisoner down there – he could not show me that part. So took some more happy snaps from outside and I was preparing to leave for my next destination.

At that point times went a bit pear shape. I got a phone call from the London rental agency that we needed to vacate the London apartment ASAP (Lee-ann had stayed on for a few extra days while I was doing my thing). This was the second time this happen where I got the dates wrong (I blame the different words they use to describe days staying and when you book out, but then again it could be old man’s disease setting in). It happened in Paris, but we were able to extend our stay. But in this case Lee-ann had to vacate and vacate fast. Rather than find another room she decided to catch the train out to here (she was due to arrive the next day). I knew I was in for a bollocking from the moment she stepped off the train. Mainly got the silent treatment, who knows what tomorrow holds? Maybe I too will be sentenced for my crimes!

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Day 29 - Newman, Oldman or Holdman?

The town of John Newman Holdman

overcast 16 °C
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Today is the start of my family research and in this particular instance, my mother’s side of the family. So this post would most likely be of interest to my Newman relatives.

Left London early to catch the train to Swindon and pick up the car. Got a fright when they wanted £66 for the train fare. Apparently they have time based fares, so peak hour cost more. Decided t wait 30 minutes and pay half the cost. Picked up the car and soon I was used to the English driving style and headed out to Minchinhampton.

My great great great grandfather John Newman Holdman was living here between 1798 and 1822, when he was eventually transported to Australia for stealing a roll of cloth.

Just like the show “Who do you think you area”” I had arranged to meet a local historian, Di Wall, to show me around the town and fill me in on a bit of history. Well Di went above and beyond the call of duty and did so further research on the family for me. She provided me with books on the history of the town and she had extracts from church records that she passed onto me. (Bubsy, I will send these home from here on Friday – keep an eye out for it).

So things of note that she found / told me:
1. John’s father (John Holdman) could write and it is possible that he was in the military. So the story of John (Jnr) being born in St Domingo (Haiti) may be more a story of his father serving there at the time, but John (Jnr) was more likely to be born here in Minchinhampton. He was definitely baptised here, but her was about 6 years old at the time.
2. Di seems to think that they lived in Watledge (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday/dblock/GB-384000-198000/page/16) which was a small hamlet of buildings occupied by weavers just north of Nailsworth. I don’t recall what her reasoning’s were, but it may help explain the references to Nailsworth Parish on his convict records (notwithstanding that Nailsworth Parish did not exist until 1890). But he may have related to Nailsworth more than Minchinhampton because it was much closer and accessible.
3. The eastern part of the church would have existed at the time of John. The western half of the church was constructed in the 1840’s. The christening (whatever) was the original and would have been used for John’s christening.
4. The actual township of Minchinhampton was quiet small at that time and was mainly focused on the cross road and Friday Street. The agricultural (wool) areas came right up to the town houses.
5. She could not find any further information on John Holdman (Snr) before or after his birth. So she seems to think he was not from this town.
6. Sarah Newman most likely lived in the Alm Building in West End (which is a castle shape building in one of the photos). This was a house owned by the church and whould have been used to house people of limited means. At the time of the 1841 Sarah Newman was listed as a pauper (or some other term), so it is highly likely that she lived here. Now the same building sells for £500K

Spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the town and I travelled out to Watledge taking lots of photos.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in England Comments (1)

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