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Did he swim to Australia?

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Peppercorn, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn LostCousins Member

    I am having trouble locating the shipping records for Alexander MILNE's voyage to Australia. When he died in 1888 in Horsham, Victoria, his mother-in-law stated that he had been 44 years in the colony. Alexander's wife had predeceased him, and I don't know how accurate the information provided by his mother-in-law would be. I don't know anything about his life in Australia until his marriage in Dunkeld, Victoria in 1871.
    As I believe that Alexander was born in Hertfordshire in 1833, he must have only been 11 years old when he emigrated. I've checked convict records, Parkhurst Boys and assisted immigrant records. His father was gardener to the Chauncey Snell family in Dane End, Herts and I've checked to see if he travelled as a servant to one of that family. Family legend has it that Alexander was a convict, but I can't find him in those records. Can anyone please offer a suggestion for a new line of enquiry.
  2. JenC

    JenC New Member

    If you know the names of his parents it would be best to track down as many siblings as you can who came to Victoria. That way you may find several things:
    1/ a narrow time frame in which they arrived (hopefully) as a family unit where they should be easier to identify
    2/ an obituary for a sibling which may give a ships name or other information about arrival
    3/ Consider that he may have come out with his parents but they went home (assuming you know they died in England)
    4/ Consider that his mother-in-law may have had no idea (as you suggested) or the year may have been transcribed incorrectly
    Have you trawled though Trove newspaper for mentions of Alex or his siblings?
    Also try Alexanders probate & will to check you have all his children.
    If he didn't marry until 1871 that was a bit late for a first marriage (although not unheard of, of course). And make sure you have his 1871 marriage certificate which 'should' tell you if it was his first marriage , although that, like mothers-in-law were also open to lies and corruption.
    Good luck!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2015
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn LostCousins Member

    Thanks for your suggestions.
    As far as I can tell none of his family came to Australia. That's what makes his age on arrival so strange.
    He gave his status as bachelor when he married but also gave his age as 35. I've always assumed that he deliberately reduced his age as his bride was 17!
    He wasn't with his family for the 1841 census or any subsequent census'.
    The marriage certificate and his death certificate are the sources I've used to identify his birth.
    I've tried Trove and found details of his later life. He didn't make a will - nothing to leave.
    His employers papers were deposited with the University of Melbourne and I've been able to look at diaries etc. But this is all later. Still don't know when he arrived or where he was until he married.
  4. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    No doubt you have looked at various spellings of the name Milne?
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It may have been a guess, it may have been a wrong calculation. It's unlikely she had firm evidence for the answer she gave.

    Information on death certificates, even modern ones, is often wrong (and Australian certificates are clearly more likely to contain errors because they have so much more information). Obituaries are another great source of myths.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn LostCousins Member

    Thankyou Margery and Peter, for your comments. I've checked alternate spellings of MILNE. It's unfortunate that most MILNE families have an Alexander. It's also unfortunate that my identification of Alexander is based on the detail from his death certificate. This little problem has been exercising my mind for the last 40 years. I hope that's not giving away my age!
  7. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    It does depend when he came over, as prior to 1852, the passenger lists for a lot of the colonies were adhoc at best. So there is some chance that they will appear on passengers lists prior to 1852 but it is a little doubtful. I myself had a similar problem for a family who emigrated in 1850 and had a few discussions with some members of the Victorian society (Genealogical that is) about ways to find them.

    Victoria is considered the best colony for having correct information for years in the colony on death certificates, so you can probably consider 1844 as around the correct time for his arrival. The other option beyond passenger lists is to check the Trove for newspaper entries for arrivals into Melbourne (the Argus & Port Phillip Herald - Port Phillip Herald has lists to 1846, the Argus from 1846 onwards) around this time. (That's how I was able to identity possible individuals for my own family who were missing from the passenger lists). I've had a bit of a look at the Victorian Genealogical Society search page (for their own databases which include this sort of information) for any possibles and while there are quite a few different Milnes and A Milnes & Alexander Milnes, you'd need more information going forward to search their databases and Trove's more effectively.

    You can also see if you can find if his grave was used for other burials - depending of course if you can search the cemetery, as a lot of graves in Victoria were re-used (as it were) to add other members of the family.
  8. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn LostCousins Member

    Thanks jorghes for your suggestions. You've grasped my problem well. There is not much to go on, so identifying Alexander is very difficult. Most Alexander MILNE's are Scottish however and I am able to rule them out, but apart from that exclusion, I feel I have to consider any of approximately the right age as possibilities.
    Your suggestion regarding Alexander's grave is an interesting one. Alexander and his wife are not buried in the same grave, same cemetery though, three years apart. I've never wondered why until now and that will be something I'll look into.
  9. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    I've had the same sort of issues with some of my emigres, so I know what a problem it can be when they don't appear where you think they should! I've been searching for a death cert for the father of the family for ages and he doesn't seem to be anywhere! (Well, not in Victoria, or NSW... or QLD... or SA.... so I've no idea where he went!)

    Are Alexander and his wife in adjacent plots? That is something that some families do if they have the money to purchase more than one plot in the cemetery. But I can completely agree - when there is so little to go on, it can make it really hard to find what you're looking for!
  10. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn LostCousins Member

    I had a family disappear from Australia in the 185o's. They'd come for the gold and when the father's citizenship papers were bungled, they headed off to the US. I found them there by leaving messages on forums all over the place. Fortunately, the family name was not very common and a descendant contacted me to let me know where they'd turned up.

    Alexander and his wife aren't located near each other, in fact they were buried by different denominations. They were poor people and I think may have been buried by local authorities. His mother-in-law is in a pauper's grave at the same cemetery.
  11. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    This particular family hasn't vanished anywhere - the mother died 5 years after emigrating and the daughter married and lived in Ballarat for a while and according to her marriage register, her father gave permission for her to be married (although I've since decided this might not be a sign that he was still living necessarily). But I am unable to find his death certificate and I can't think of a reason if his only child was married and providing him with grandchildren, that he'd go back to the UK or head off for more parts unknown. I'll keep searching for his name, possibly misspelt, in the records.

    That is very different. For one plot that I know of, four members of my father's family were buried in it, although not all directly related to each other. So your supposition that they might have been buried by other people sounds plausible.
  12. Karen1

    Karen1 New Member

    The daughter birth certificate will give the age of the father and where he was born and occupation. This should be more accurate as it will be most likely registered by the father himself or the mother of the child. Finding his birth/christening record in England with this information will help you determine if any other family arrived here. Also you might find him in 1841 census and then check for 1851 to help determine if he had left by then. Don't forget to look for a christening record, for the daughter as godparents if recorded and witnesses to the marriage maybe friends from England or family that he could have come out with.

    His occupation might give you a clue, some people came out to fill skill/labourer shortages. Shipping in the 1850's after the gold rush started in Victoria is poor due to the number of people arriving too many for authories to cope, shipping records can be reduced to just numbers, surnames or initial and surname. Some ship crew jumped ship to stay. Newspapers on Trove are a good source not just for shipping Records but for unclaimed mail and people posting ads for missing family and friends.

    If he had a mining licence(for gold) by 1855 he might be listed as able to vote in the 1856 roll for Victoria. Then you know he arrived before this year.

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