H is for
Homes Hats Harold.
If you've checked out the tab headed April 2012's A to Z Blogging Challenge Details you will have noticed the list of the topics I have written about/plan to write about. You're then probably wondering how on earth I have changed from 'Homes' to 'Hats' to 'Harold'?
H was going to be for the various houses our ancestors called home but that will be more fun when I have photos.
H was then going to be for 'hats' as Pa was a hat salesman, as was his father but I don't have enough detail yet so I'll save that topic for another time.
So now H is for Harold. As in Captain Torquil Harold Urquhart (more commonly known by his middle name than his awesomely Norse-sounding first name).
I should note that this post is not so much about what I know of Harold, rather how I found him and why this finding is so important (I'm very excited by this finding. I know. I need a life!).
He first came to my attention a few years ago thanks to a reference on the Stockton Historical Society's old webpage next to our Robert's name as partner in the Flying Cloud. A few lazy searches then didn't turn up anything more about this Mr Urquhart (not even a first name!) so I left him alone. That is, until more recently, when I was sifting through the treasures on Trove relating to the Flying Cloud. I found that Mr Urquhart was Captain Torquil Harold Urquhart, and the captain at the helm when the Flying Cloud was wrecked.
Enter my friend Google. Searching this long full name returned a small post made by a Melbourne-based genie requesting information anyone might have had relating to such a named person and his marriage to an Elspet Cameron who had also been married to an Alexander Mearns. Elspet hadn't come to Australia, had she?
A faint little bell rang... there was a very short mention of a wedding at our Robert's residence in Wickham in 1886...
The names of the blushing bride, a Helen Mearns, and groom, James M'Lauchlin, were completely unfamiliar at the time of first reading. That our Robert was the 'uncle of the bride' though meant it was probably a married sister's daughter walking down the aisle. By a process of elimination: Jane married a Horn and had remained in Scotland, Jessy died in infancy... of course! The newest dead rel, Elspet! Coupled with the suggestion she had married a Mearn and then Harold meant that a whole new branch began flowering. More exciting is that I hadn't realised that Robert had any family from the old country join him in Australia and here he was, living in the same area as his little sister!
A few more searches on Trove, Ancestry.com.au's assisted immigrant lists and NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages and I worked out the following:
Elspet emigrated to Australia in 1857 onboard the Monica.
She married Alexander Mearns in 1960. Their only child, Helen Innes Elizabeth Mearns, was born in 1861. Sadly Alexander died in 1864.
Not long after, in 1866, Elspet married Torquil Harold Urquhart.
When Flying Cloud wrecked off the coast of South Australia on 4 April 1870 not only was Capt. Urquhart at the helm but he was onboard with his family - a Mrs Urquhart and Miss Urquhart. (I have jumped to the conclusion that this is Helen Mearns as Harold and Elspet didn't have any children together).
Elspeth died aged 42 in 1871.
Not long after it seems, Harold stopped sailing and moved to Launceston where he remarried and remained until his death in 1894.
I have to say a massive thanks to the Melbourne-based genie who I emailed in response to his post and who so quickly and generously shared his research and documents with me, and so has splashed a bit more colour and shed more light to an otherwise dark and unexplored corner of the family line. With his permission I will hopefully share these findings in due course!
And, this whole discovery - that Elspet came to Australia and began her own family and therefore branch of a tree - goes to show that exlineal family are just as important as direct ones!