Friday, 18 April 2014

P is for phthisis (tuberculosis)

My fourth great grandfather (4*great) John Plaisted (1800-1858) died of phthisis, more commonly known as tuberculosis.

In early colonial days the disease was a part of daily life and few families were lucky enough to avoid it. There was no cure. The usual medical advice was a move to a warm, dry climate, a nutritious, nourishing diet, and complete rest. 

According to the 1841 census, John Plaisted was a wine merchant in Camberwell, Surrey, England. But in 1847 he sold his business and retired to South Devon.  In 1849 he sailed to Australia on the Rajah arriving in Adelaide in 1850 with his wife, six children and his sister-in-law. His wife's brother and sister had already emigrated to Adelaide. Although we don't know for sure, it seems quite possible that he came to Australia as the climate would be better for his health. (Hudson, Helen Lesley (1985). Cherry stones : adventures in genealogy of Taylor, Hutcheson, Hawkins of Scotland, Plaisted, Green, Hughes of England and Wales ... who immigrated to Australia between 1822 and 1850. H.L. Hudson, [Berwick] Vic. Page 58)

Adelaide was recommended as a good climate for tuberculosis sufferers. Charles Hill, for example, who emigrated to Adelaide in 1854, came in the hope the climate would be beneficial.  (Goldsworthy, Kerryn (2011). Adelaide. NewSouth Publishing, Sydney page 68 retrieved from Google books

The Plaisted family moved to Melbourne. They were living at 100 Collins Street when John finally succumbed to his illness.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium. The most common type is an infection of the lungs.  A common symptom is a persistent cough and later coughing up blood.  The patient loses his appetite and then weight. Other symptoms include a high temperature, night sweats and extreme tiredness. Tuberculosis was a slow killer; patients could waste away for years.

Tuberculosis was often seen as a romantic disease. In 1821 most famously the poet John Keats died aged 25. In 1828 Lord Byron wrote  "I should like to die of consumption. The ladies would all say, 'Look at that poor Byron, how interesting he looks in dying!"

John Keats in his Last Illness, engraved after the sketch by Joseph Severn, from the book The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, May to October, 1883 By Joseph Arthur Palliser Severn 1842-1931 image retrieved from

The graph below shows that the death rate from tuberculosis was 4,000 deaths per 1 million people in 1838 fell to around 3,000 per million in 1850. In the 1800s nearly a quarter of all deaths were due to tuberculosis. In Australia in the late nineteenth century tuberculosis was the leading cause of death, "20 times deadlier per capita than all cancer conditions today put together." In Australia there are still about 1,200 cases each year but it is relatively under control. However, worldwide 1.7 million people still die of the disease each year. (Britton, Warwick. "TB in Australia." Infectious Diseases. Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology, 14 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. <>.)

Graph of Death rates from respiratory tuberculosis in England and Wales from Integrating nutrition into programmes of primary health care, Food and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 10, Number 4, 1988 (United Nations University Press, 1988, 74 p.) retrieved from  "Death rates from respiratory tuberculosis in England and Wales shows the fall in tuberculosis in England and Wales before BCG or therapies such as isoniazid and streptomycin were available. Similar declines were observed for the other common infectious diseases. McKeown concludes that improvement in food supplies and nutrition is the only reasonable explanation for these declines in mortality. Similar trends are occurring in developing countries today in areas in which some nutritional improvement has occurred despite little or no access to medical services."

Other blog entries about the Plaisted family  and their relations:

Thursday, 17 April 2014

O is for Old Bailey records

I have written once before about the proceedings of the Old Bailey, London's Central Criminal Court, which are online at in a useful searchable format.

In my previous blog entry, at, I wrote about the theft of a pocket handkerchief from my fifth great uncle, Claude Crespigny. The thief was transported as a convict to Australia, which seems a very harsh punishment for a minor theft. It appears he did not survive the voyage.

In 1789 Claude Crespigny's son, William (1765-1829), accused his former coachman, William Hayward, of stealing some used harness from him. (Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 15 April 2014), January 1790, trial of WILLIAM HAYWARD (t17900113-104).)

The Old Bailey Sessions House by John Ellis, 1790. Image from
William Crespigny had dismissed his coachman and then travelled from London to his country house in Berkshire. Some weeks later he sent to his coach house in Little Portland Mews in London for the harness. The harness did not come. The harness, which had William's crest on it, was probably about two or three months old.

The question in the trial was what arrangement he had made with his coachman.

When this coachman was engaged, did you make a bargain with him? - I did of course.

Does it happen to you, among the coachmen you have employed, to recollect the terms of that bargain? - Perfectly.

I will trouble you to state them: I believe at first he asked twenty six guineas? - I do not recollect.

This will be very important; I must trouble you to tax your recollection; I believe in the end, the standing wages agreed on, was twenty two guineas, together with other articles? - Yes.

One guinea for boots? - My memory does not serve me.

One guinea for breeches; does your memory serve you to that? - I cannot say.

Do you recollect whether he was to have the old wheels, in order to make up this sum? - I perfectly recollect he was not to have them; I never allowed either old wheels or old harnesses to any coachman; I do not remember that any thing was said about it.

Was any thing said about the old harness? - Nothing to my recollection; I can venture to say, to the best of my recollection, upon oath, that nothing was said; I mean to swear that if any thing was said, that I never agreed to it.

Explain to me what these articles were that were to make up the twenty-two guineas, to be twenty-six guineas? - I believe I gave him twenty-five guineas a year, to the best of my recollection; I do not keep such a very minute recollection.

I must not compliment away a man's liberty? - I think it was twenty-five guineas a year.

Court. I understood you, the agreement was twenty-two guineas a year wages; what other agreement did you make besides? - I believe there were boots and breeches, and a number of et cetera's which the coachmen generally have, but I will not say on my oath.

Mr. Garrow. Pray do not be in a hurry, Mr. Crespigny, the boots and breeches we know all the world over, are two guineas; and the old wheels, though they cost us eight pounds, sell for one? - I know nothing about the old wheels; I never made any agreement for them.

Did your former coachman account for the old wheels? - No, never: I believe they were the first wheels I had ever wore out.

The trial was a trial by jury. William Hayward was found not guilty. There seemed to be reasonable doubt as to whether Hayward was entitled to the old harness as a perquisite, as much his right as his wages. However, the court was at pains to point out that Hayward's acquittal was not setting a precedent: "it is by no means to be understood that servants have a civil right to lay hold of the property of their masters and keep it as wages."

William Crespigny's memory issues are similar to those of Arthur Sinodinos at the recent ICAC hearings, represented in this cartoon about Arthur the bilby at .

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

N is for Naval husbands

In 1895 my great-great-grandmother, Ellen Jane Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1845-1920), wife of Wentworth Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1822-1895), was widowed at the age of 49.  Of their ten children, six were daughters and five of these were unmarried. She saw all of them married before she died, even the youngest, Kiddie.
  • James Gordon (1865 – 1938) 
  • Eva Mainwaring (1867 – 1941) 
  • Mabel Alice (1868 – 1944) known as May
  • Wentworth Rowland (1869 – 1933) 
  • Orfeur Charles (1872 – 1890) 
  • Kathleen Mary (1874 – 1951) known as Kate
  • Hugh (1875 – 1953) 
  • Helen Maud (1877 – 1918) known as Nellie
  • Alice Mainwaring (1879 – 1952) known as Queenie
  • Gertrude Lucy (1882 – 1968) known as Kiddie

Ellen and her daughters were all born in Australia. In 1891 the family moved to England and lived at Southsea near Portsmouth when Ellen inherited the Whitmore estate in Staffordshire after the death of her brother Frederick (1859-1891). The estate was leased, hence The Cavenagh-Mainwaring family could not live there until the lease expired.

Christine Cavenagh-Mainwaring, writing in 2013, suggests that Ellen Jane, following her inheritance of the Whitmore Estate in 1891,
didn't feel that Staffordshire offered sufficient suitable young men as potential husbands for her daughters, so being a very sensible and pragmatic woman, promptly took a house in Southsea, near to the naval base of Portsmouth where there were a considerable number of young naval officers and installed her bevy of girls there. (One can almost feel the approval of this strategy of Jane Austen's Mrs Bennet. ) The girls duly obliged and in due course five of them married naval officers. (Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine and Britton, Heather, (editor.) Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013. pages 117-118)
This Jane Austen view of a bevy of girls needing husbands, on the marriage market, provides a misleading image of the Cavenagh-Mainwaring daughters. When the Cavenagh-Mainwaring women married they were not young. Eva married at the age 25 to a 41-year-old lieutenant, not a successful career officer. My great grandmother Kathleen was 27 when she married.  Helen was 25 when she married, Mabel was 37, Alice was 33 and Gertrude was 37. Perhaps their colonial Australian background hindered their marriage prospects, perhaps they were not interested marrying as quickly as possible, perhaps not all Victorian women married young and our assumptions are wrong about this aspect of Victorian  life.

My grandmother wrote on the back of the photograph that it was taken in 1908 and the names: Back row, left to right: Queenie Magee; Kate Cudmore; Nellie Millet Middle row, L to R: Eva Gedge; May Gillett Front centre: Kiddie Bennett

In 1892, the oldest daughter Eva married a naval officer, Herbert James Gedge (1851-1913). There were reports of the wedding in English and Australian newspapers. (For example A LADY'S LETTER. (1892, November 26). South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1895), p. 18. Retrieved April 14, 2014, from .)

Launch of HMS Agammemnon at Chatham Dockyard from the Illustrated London News of September 27 1879

In September 1892 Herbert J. Gedge was appointed lieutenant and joined the Agamemnon. ("Naval & Military Intelligence." Times [London, England] 24 Sept. 1892: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.) He retired from the Navy as captain on 3 May 1904. (1912 Navy List page 645) He became an adviser in Egypt with the title of Pasha, a title denoting high rank or office. In 1913 Herbert Gedge died in Alexandria, Egypt. 

Eva and Herbert had two children: Norah (1894-1971 and Edward 1895-1991).

Kathleen, my great grandmother, married Arthur Murray Cudmore (1870-1951) in Melbourne, Australia in 1901. He was the only husband of these six daughters who was not in the navy. He was a doctor, a colleague of Kathleen's brother Wentworth. Arthur would have known the Mainwarings in Adelaide, South Australia. He went to England to study. The Cudmores had two daughters, Rosemary (1904-1987) and Kathleen (1908-1913).

In 1902 Helen, known as Nellie, married Thompson Horatio Millett (1870-1920) in Hampshire.

Thompson Millet was appointed Fleet Paymaster in September 1909. (Navy List 1918 page 130) In the 1919 King's Birthday Honours he was made Commander of the Bath (civil division). He then held the rank of Paymaster Commander (acting Paymaster Captain). ("Birthday Honours." Times [London, England] 3 June 1919: 18+. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.) In recommending him for the post-war award Admiral Commanding 3rd battle SquadronSir E. Bradford wrote
Paymaster Captain Thompson H. Millet, was my Secretary throughout the period of my command of the 3rd Battle Squadron, from June 1914, to July, 1916. Being almost always detached from the C-in-C's Flag except at sea, and generally having addition battleship and cruiser squadron and a flotilla under my orders was a source of increased Secretarial work, and Paymaster Captain Millet performed his duties with untiring zeal and an admirable punctuality. ( from
Helen died in 1918 and Thompson in 1920. They had had three children, Hugh (1903-1968) and Guy (1907-1978), and a third child, who died in infancy.
"Deaths." Times [London, England] 14 Apr. 1920: 1. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
Mabel married Owen Francis Gillett (1863-1938) on 16 April 1906 at St Paul's Church, Valletta, Malta.

"Marriages." Times [London, England] 23 Apr. 1906: 1. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.

Elevation drawing of St Paul's Valletta by the architect William Scamp in 1842. Retrieved from
In 1924 Owen Gillett retired as Vice-Admiral, and was promoted to Admiral on the retired list. His obituary in the Times mentioned his World War 1 service at the Cape, where he was senior naval officer at Simonstown for over three years. ("Admiral Gillett." Times [London, England] 23 Mar. 1938: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.)

Mabel and Owen had two children, Michael (1907-1971) and Anne (1911-?).

Alice, known as Queenie, married William Edward Blackwood Magee (1886-1981) on 14 August 1913 at St Simons, Southsea.

In December 1910, W.E.B. Magee gave his future mother-in-law a book of the first two operas of the Ring Cycle.  I wrote about the book at

In 1917 and again in 1918, as Lieutenant Commander, William Magee was mentioned in despatches as part of the honours for the Destroyers of the Harwich Force. ( London Gazette 22 June 1917 and Edinburgh Gazette 25 February 1919) In 1920, for services in the Baltic in 1919, Lieut.-Cdr. William Edward Blackwood Magee, R.N. was made Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, for distinguished services in command of H.M.S. "Watchman.". (Edinburgh Gazette 10 March 1920) In 1945 Captain (Commodore second class, R.N.R.) William Edward Blackwood Magee, D.S.O., R.N. (Ret.), was appointed Commander of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire for Distinguished Service in the War in Europe. (London Gazette 7 December 1945) William Edward Blackwood Magee became a Captain in 1929. (1939 Navy List).

Alice and William had two children, Richard (1915-?) and Jean (1917-1996).

The Harwich Force Leaving for Sea by Philip Connard 1918. A view from the stern deck of a Royal Navy warship looking back at a convoy of warships arranged in two parallel lines. Four sailors stand on the deck. The foremost ships visible include light cruisers and a destroyer. The coastline is visible in the left background. © IWM (Art.IWM ART 1318)retrieved from

Gertrude, known as Kiddie, married Edward Morden Bennett (1878-1941) on 30 April 1919 at St Thomas's Church, Portsmouth.

In January 1919 Commander Edward Morden Bennett, R.N. was made Officer of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire. (London Gazette 1 January 1919) At the time of his death he held the rank of Captain. 
"Deaths." Times [London, England] 28 Apr. 1941: 1. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Kiddie and Edward had one daughter, Jean (1921-2009).

The six daughters of Ellen Jane Cavenagh-Mainwaring had a very different experience of marriage and motherhood to that of their mother. Ellen Jane married aged 19 and had ten children. Her daughters were aged between 25 and 37 when they married and had none of them had more than three children.

In the middle of the nineteenth century the mean age of women marrying in the United Kingdom was 25. (Woods, Robert (2000). The demography of Victorian England and Wales. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge ; New York page 82) Recent figures have age at first marriage in the United Kingdom as 28.5 for women in 2005 and in Australia at 27.7 as at 2009. (Age at first marriage. (2014, April 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:56, April 16, 2014, from Historic figures for the United States show that the median age at first marriage for women was about 22 between 1890 and 1910, declining in 1920 and lowest in the 1950s and has climbed higher over the last decades to over 26 years old today. (US Census Bureau graph of Median age at first marriage by sex: 1890 to 2013 ) The earliest figure I have for Australia is that the median marriage age for spinsters in 1921 was 25.2. This figure is not useful to compare to the Cavenagh-Mainwaring women as it is after World War I. (Vamplew, Wray (1987). Australians, historical statistics. Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, Broadway, N.S.W., Australia page 46)

In composing this blog post I have realised how little I know about young women 100 years ago and my great grandmother and her sisters. I am unable to assess whether they were eager to be married or content to wait until the right person was there. I suspect they were financially able not to marry. Perhaps there was pressure on the youngest daughter not to marry and keep her mother company.

A related post  five of the girls attend a children's ball in 1887:

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

M is for motor cars

Two of my great grandfathers, Arthur Murray Cudmore (1870-1951) and Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny (1882-1952), owned motor cars quite early in the twentieth century.

They both lived in Adelaide, South Australia. The website has published indexes of early South Australian car registrations from 1906-1927 and a list of 1910 car owners and members of the South Australian Auto Club.

Arthur Murray Cudmore registered an 8 horsepower Darracq in 1906. He received the numberplate SA 4. He passed the numberplate on to his daughter, my grandmother, Kathleen (1908-2013). This number plate stayed in the family until 2012. It was sold because no member of the family lived in South Australia any more.

Kathleen wrote an article in 1967 about number plates and her father's early cars.
from the South Australian Motor, March 1967, by Kathleen de Crespigny. Click image to enlarge.
In the article, Kathleen writes that her father had a car before registration numbers were introduced that was known to the family as "the little red car". When the car was new her parents drove it to Torrens Park, a grand house and now a school in the suburb of Torrens Park which is 8 km (5 miles) from the city.
It was considered both luck and good management that the car did not hit either of the gate posts as it came in. However, it did run into the garden bed just inside.
The Darracq owned by Dr A.M. Cudmore was painted with vertical stripes, one and half  inches wide, in black and green.
This Darracq photographed in Queensland in 1909 would have looked similar to the one owned by A. M. Cudmore. Image retrieved from
A famous Darracq was "Genevieve" which featured in a 1953 film about the veteran 1904 car in the annual London to Brighton car run.
screenshot from the film "Genevieve" retrieved from
Arthur Murray Cudmore took part in hill climbs just outside Adelaide.
AUTOMOBILE HILL CLIMBING CONTEST. (1905, December 18). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 7. Retrieved April 13, 2014, from
A. M. Cudmore completed the climb in 16 minutes 35 seconds.His Darracq had only 8 horsepower compared with the 15 horsepower of Mr E. S. Rymill's Darracq which made the fastest time of 9 minutes and 30 seconds.

In 1912 Dr A. M. Cudmore was fined for speeding along South Terrace at 26 miles per hour (41 kph).
LAW COURTS. (1912, October 12). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 7. Retrieved April 13, 2014, from
My great grandfather Trent de Crespigny registered his first car on 1 June 1914. It was a 20 horsepower Ford with the number plate 4562.

The Ford Model T, colloquially known as "Tin Lizzie", was an automobile that was produced by the Ford Motor Company from 1908 to 1927.Image retrieved from
Within a fortnight he had crashed it.

MOTOR CAR "BOLTS". (1914, June 16). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 - 1924), p. 6. Retrieved April 13, 2014, from

In a History of the Royal Adelaide Hospital a short biography of Sir Trent de Crespigny remarks:
It is said that he was very interested in motoring, but that driving with him could be a rather hair-raising experience. (Hughes, J. Estcourt A history of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The Board of Management of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, [Adelaide], 1967. page 166)
In 1929 Trent de Crespigny had another car accident that was reported in the newspapers.
MOTOR CAR, HIT BY. TRAM, OVERTURNS. (1929, October 19). The Register News-Pictorial (Adelaide, SA : 1929 - 1931), p. 3. Retrieved April 13, 2014, from

Monday, 14 April 2014

L is for Eliza Leister

I have decided to continue the story of Leslie Leister by writing about his aunt, Eliza, who became his foster mother.

Eliza Way was born 22 August 1865 on Brittons Dam Station, Kitticara, near Murrumburrah, New South Wales. Her father John Way (1835-1911) was a shepherd. She is named Elizabeth on her birth certificate.

Eliza was the sixth child of John and Sarah (1837-1895). The birth certificate stated three males living and two children deceased. There was a mistake on the certificate, Eliza in fact had three older sisters, and a boy and a girl had died before she was born. There were also four younger siblings.
From the birthplaces of her siblings we can see that the Way family had moved to Grenfell by 1868, when Emily was born. John's occupation was then as a sawyer. In 1870 Harriet was also born in Grenfell, "near Reece's foundry" ('The European Iron Foundry'). John was still a sawyer. In 1872 his son John was also born at Grenfell. In 1874 when Martha was born in Parkes, John Way's occupation was as a miner.

 By the 1890s, and perhaps earlier, the Way family were living at Bogan Street Parkes.

Eliza's sister, Sarah Jane, married Robert Whiteman, a miner on 12 July 1882 at Parkes. They had two children: Robert Henry, born 1883, and Mary Ann, born 19 August 1884. Six months before Mary Ann was born, Sarah Jane's husband Robert  died of pneumonia after an illness of four days. Sarah Jane probably relied on her parents and sisters for help in bringing up her two infant children. Sarah Jane remarried on 26 September 1894 in Melbourne to John Young, a miner, who had spent some time in New South Wales, presumably including a period in Parkes.

On 13 August 1894, just before her second marriage, Sarah Jane gave birth to a boy, Jack Walsh Whiteman. The father was not named on the birth certificate. The birth was registered on 21 September, with Sarah Jane the informant. Her mother had been a witness, assisting at the birth. There was no doctor and seems to have been no other nurse or midwife.

It appears that Sarah Jane left her baby Jack behind with her mother in Parkes when she went to Melbourne to marry John Young.

Sarah Way, the mother of Sarah Jane and Eliza, died on 7 April 1895 of what is described on the death certificate as biliary colic and an impacted gallstone. The length of her illness was described on her death certificate as chronic. Four of Sarah's daughters were married: Louisa in 1873, Mary Ann in 1883, Sarah Jane in 1894 and Emily in 1892. Four children had died. Eliza and John junior were unmarried and probably still living with their parents. It would seem to have become Eliza's responsibility to care for the grandchild Jack.

On 1 July 1896 Eliza married Robert Watson Duncan Leister at her father's residence in Parkes. The witnesses were Hugh Leister and Caroline Harrison.

Robert Leister was 25 years old, a blacksmith, born at Maryborough, Victoria. His father was a carpenter. Eliza was 29 and her occupation was given as "living with her father".

From Leslie Leister's war record, we know that Eliza was his foster mother. We don't know when Jack's name was changed to Leslie. There were no formal adoption laws in New South Wales at this time. The first legislation in NSW to regulate adoption was the Child Welfare Act 1923. (Releasing the past : adoption practices, 1950-1998 : final report / Standing Committee on Social Issues. [Sydney, N.S.W.] The Committee, 2000. – 1 v. (various pagings); 30 cm. (Report 22, December 2000) (Parliamentary paper; no. 600) retrieved from$FILE/Report.PDF 12 April 2014)

Robert and Eliza continued to live with Eliza's father John at Bogan Street, Parkes. When John died in 1911, Robert Leister is given as the informant on his death certificate. John's will left his estate to his daughters Eliza and Louisa and appointed Eliza as his executrix.

Taking load of wheat to silos by horse - Corner of Bogan & Dalton Streets, Parkes, NSW. , 1925-26. Image from the State Library of New South Wales retrieved from The Way and Leister families lived two blocks away on the corner of Bogan and Church streets.
Robert Duncan Leister died on 31 March 1925 at Bogan Street, Parkes. He was 56 years old. His occupation was upholsterer. He had been ill for several years with chronic nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) and for 24 hours with uraemia (the illness accompanying kidney failure). He had been 26 years in Victoria and 30 years in New South Wales; he had arrived in New South Wales about a year before he married Eliza. Robert and Eliza had no children of their own.

In 1929, William Charles Waine, husband of Eliza's sister Mary Ann, died in Orange. By 1930 according to the electoral rolls, Eliza was living at Byng Street, Orange. She had no family left in Parkes. Perhaps she was helping her sister or perhaps they enjoyed each other's company.

Eliza died after a car accident in February 1940. She was hit by a car when walking to church.

Eliza is buried at Orange. The grave at Parkes beside her husband remained empty. Parkes is 100km from Orange and there were no other members of the family living in Parkes at the time of Eliza's death.

grave of Robert Duncan Leister at Parkes Cemetery

grave of Eliza Leister at Orange Cemetery

Saturday, 12 April 2014

K is for King and Country

When writing on F is for Fromelles, I wrote about Leslie Leister, my husband's great uncle who was killed at Fromelles in 1916. This blog entry is looking at the official
correspondence which survives in his World War I dossier, NAA:B2455, Leister Leslie, between the next of kin and the Department of Defence following the death in World War I of Leslie Leister. Ten years after his death, his aunt and foster mother, Eliza Leister, was receiving correspondence from the War Office concerning her son.

When Leslie Leister died in 1916, he was first reported missing.  The day before the battle on 19 July he had written to his adoptive parents, His aunt and uncle Robert and Eliza Leister. They received that letter in September.

On 5 October 1916 Robert Leister wrote seeking further information about Leslie. (NAA:B2455, Leister Leslie folio 56)
NAA:B2455, Leister Leslie, folio 56

Robert Leister received a reply dated 11 October 1916 advising that
no further particulars are yet available regarding this soldier. You will be promptly notified upon receipt of any later information. (folio 55)
On 15 September 1916 the Deputy Post Master General wrote to Base Records seeking news of Leslie having seen that he was reported missing in the 199th casualty list of 28th August. (folio 58) Before enlisting, Leslie had been employed at the post office in Newcastle.
CASUALTIES. (1916, August 28). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from

On 13 March 1917, Leslie's casualty record was amended that he had previously been reported missing but was now reported killed.  The authority for this change was a letter from the war office. (folio 22)
DIED IN GERMANY. (1917, March 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from

Family Notices: Roll of Honour. (1917, March 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from

On 3 April 1917 the Deputy Post Master General wrote seeking information about Leslie's death:
With reference to your communication of the 23rd September last, stating that No. 4840, acting Corporal Leslie Leister, 55th (late 3rd) Battalion, was officially posted "missing" on 20th July last, I have to intimate a paragraph appeared in the "Roll of Honour" Sydney Morning Herald, of the 31st ultimo, stating that Private Leslie Leister died of wounds in Germany on 4th November last. Will you kindly advise me whether this refers to the soldier mentioned above, and if the date of death given is correct. (folio 54)

On 17 April 1917 the Mutual Life and Citizens' Assurance Co. Ltd. wrote to base records seeking a certificate of death and identification particulars  for Jack Walsh known as Leslie Leister as he was insured with the company. (folio 52)

On July 10 1917 Robert Leister signed a receipt for a package of the effects of the late No 4840 Acting Corporal L. Leister, 55th Battalion consigned ex "Beltana".  These effect comprised motor goggles and a card. (folios  46 and 49)

Connellan & Pearce, solicitors of Parkes, wrote several time to the Base Records office seeking a certificate of death. Their letter of 3 October 1917 referred to a letter on 4 September and another on 24 September. Probate of his will could not be obtained without the death certificate. (folio 39)

On 29 July 1921 the War Records Office wrote that they had been unable to find any trace of the last resting place of Leslie. The office requested
to have on loan any letters or communications that contain any reference tot he circumstances surrounding his death, particularly the exact locality at which it occurred, or where he was last seen alive. Of course any information you may have received as to his burial would be of the greatest assistance. (folio 33)
Robert Leister replied
I am unable to find the letters I would have liked to send you. One letter lost from the Sydney Red Cross & told my nephew was killed at Fromelles July 20th 1916 & that his name was on the German list. One letter was from a soldier that knew him well. They had reached the German's Front-line at Fromelles & early in the morning of July 20th 1916 he saw him killed with a shell. Our boys was then retreating. My Nephew would be buried by the Germans.(folio 33)
On 28 November 1921, Robert Leister wrote in response to a query by the War Records Office on behalf of his wife advising that Eliza was the only person entitled to the War medal as she was his foster mother and aunt and his will was left to her. (folio 32)

On 7 August 1922 Robert Leister wrote to Base records acknowledging receipt of the Memorial Scroll but advising that the King's Message had not been enclosed. (folio 30) The receipt for the Memorial Scroll was signed February 14 1922. (folio 31) 

Eliza Leister signed a receipt for a Victory Medal in connexion with the late Pte. L. Leister on 27 February 1923. (folio 26)

From the record below, the final folio of Leslie's personal dossier, Eliza was sent information in 1926 about Leslie's name being listed at V. C. Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial in France. This was ten years after Leslie had died.

NAA:B2455, Leister Leslie, folio 62

Friday, 11 April 2014

J is for Jacobite rebellion

My sixth great grandfather was Edward Mainwaring (1709-1795),  who lived at Whitmore in Staffordshire.

Edward Mainwaring is mentioned in A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank: But Uninvested with Heritable Honours, Volume 3, 1836 by John Burke republished as an ebook by Google at
Edward Mainwaring inherited, together with the possessions, the principles of his protestant ancestors, and signalized himself by his great zeal in repelling the invasion of Charles Edward in 1745, against whom he marched to Derby, at the head of his tenantry.  ... (page 592)
The invasion of Charles Edward in 1745 is better known today as the Jacobite rising of 1745, or "The 'Forty-Five". It was the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie, to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart.

My great grand uncle James Gordon Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1865 - 1938) wrote a history of the Mainwaring family back to the entry of Whitmore estate in the Domesday Book of 1068. (Cavenagh-Mainwaring, James Gordon The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford. An account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent; with special reference to the Manor of Whitmore. J.G. Cavenagh-Mainwaring, about 1935.) He says of Edward:
In the Scottish Rebellion of 1745, Edward Mainwaring showed great activity and marched at the head of his tenantry against the invaders. Ward in his "History of Stoke-upon-Trent" quotes a contemporary writer, who, in a letter to a friend in London, stated "I was at Whitmore with Squire Mainwaring, the day before Christmas Day, and he told me we had taken about a hundred of them and killed about thirty, and they had killed about ten of ours; and we look every day when the Duke overtakes the whole body of them." (page 87) 
 The history to which Gordon refers is probably John Ward History of the Borough of Stoke on Trent, Simpkin Marshall, London, 1838. There was also an edition published in 1843.

portrait of Edward Mainwaring (1709-1794) from The Mainwarings of Whitmore, opposite page 87

The Jacobites entered England on 8 November. They besieged Carlisle for two days until they surrendered on 15 November. On 23 November the defence of Manchester was abandoned. The Jacobites reached Derby on 4 December. Derby is over 170 miles south from the Scottish border and less than 40 miles east of Whitmore. More importantly Derby is only 127 miles from London.

From Derby the Jacobites retreated. It was probably not due to Mainwaring's intervention. Prince Charles and his advisors decided to return to Scotland because of rumours that they were about to face a huge Government army.The Jacobites had good reason to be afraid of an English offensive.

Carlisle was besieged from 21 to 30 December and the Jacobites lost control of the city.

The Jacobites were finally defeatedby the Duke of Cumberland, the son of George II, at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746.

I don't know if Edward Mainwaring fought against the Jacobites after their retreat from Derby.