Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Unlucky or what - Trove Tuesday

Was William Adams unlucky or what? 

In May 1846, an unfortunate accident was recorded in the township of Windsor. 

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that "William Adams, a man employed in Cadell's brewery, was, on Thursday last, riding through George-street, when a dog lying in the road, just opposite Mr Laban White's, tripped his horse, which threw him with great violence on the street. The poor man damaged his head, and cut his side to a serious extent the horse, too, was nearly killed." 

But wait there is more...

"The same man is he who about twelve months ago, was thrown off Messrs Cadell's dray on the Sydney road, and hurt himself so severely that amputation took place of one of his arms. The want of the arm tended to make his late fall more serious, because of his not being able sufficiently to save himself."   

NEWS FROM THE INTERIOR. Sydney Morning Herald 4 May 1846 p. 2. 


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Devastating bushfires - Trove Tuesday

As the devastating bushfires head towards Bilpin (as I type), burning thousands of hectares, it brought to mind some of the horrific bushfires that have taken place in the Hawkesbury's past, so I turned to Trove to find more information from the digitised newspapers.

Looking towards the Kurrajong Hills today from Wilberforce © M. Nichols 2013  

In early December 1944,  bushfires wreaked havoc over the Hawkesbury district. Two lives were lost as a result. The Windsor & Richmond Gazette reported on the 13 Dec 1944 the "nightmare picture of roaring flames, choking smoke and blistering heat, succeeded by a calm night of macabre beauty from millions of twinkling lights of burning trees and posts, and a new day of black desolation and silence broken only by shots as burned and blinded animals were put out of their misery.

Another destructive fire occurred in the Kurrajong district, around Comleroy Road. The newspaper reported on the 17 Dec 1926, that it was on of the "worst bush fires experienced" for over 50 years. "Thousands of acres of grass and standing crops, together with several buildings" were destroyed, with over 300 fire-fighters fighting the fires.

There was a close call when a fire in the Londonderry area head towards South Windsor in December 1951. On the same day there were also fires in Springwood and the lower mountains. The temperatures were extremely high and the wind blew from many directions. The Windsor & Richmond Gazette 12 Dec 1951 recorded that only a change of wind saved South Windsor. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Hawkesbury in print - Trove Tuesday

210 years ago the first newspaper in Australia was published. The  “Sydney Gazette” is a very important source of historic material on early life in the colony and for the first few decades of the settlement, it was the only printed record documenting the day to day activities. It was originally published weekly by Australia’s first newspaper commenced in 1803 and was established by  George Howe (1769-1821) and the editor stated in its first edition "We open no channel to political discussion or personal animadversion [criticism]; information is our only purpose…" Howe was allowed to use the Government's press & type for the publication but it was accomplished out of his own pocket. Due to the cost of ink and paper, newspapers were often very small. In the early years, the Sydney Gazette averaged about four pages per edition and because of this, articles were kept to a minimum. Despite the limitations on the paper the Hawkesbury features in this historic issue.

The first mention of the Hawkesbury district appears in the first issue 5 March 1803 p. 4 and records the death of a settler, Mr Withers and that of Maria Wood and the fate of her orphaned children.

 The Sydney Gazette 5 March 1803 

The Hawkesbury went onto be recorded in the media many many more times over the years. In fact Trove Australia records at 327,845 mentions of the word in at least 525 newspapers in states and territories all over Australia. Hopefully as more newspapers are digitised and transcribed this number will increase tenfold.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sale of a Windsor wife: a disgraceful transaction - Trove Tuesday

This enlightening tale is well-known by many residents of the Hawkesbury but I thought it was an excellent story for Trove Tuesday. Remember if you were married, divorce and remarriage was almost never an option, and many couples went on and lived in de-facto relationships. Legislation was not introduced in Australia until the latter half of the nineteenth century. There was much debate surrounding this disgraceful transaction however it seemed a win-win situation for all involved, yet the authorities did not see it this way and all involved were punished.

In mid-1811 an "account of a most disgraceful transaction" which was published in the Sydney Gazette newspaper.  Ralph Malkins tried to sell his wife. He led her around the streets of Windsor, by a length rope tied around her neck, offering her for sale. Thomas Quire decided Mrs Malkins was worth purchasing, paying £16. The wife suggested Thomas would "make her a better husband." 

Sydney Gazette, supplement. 14 September 1811 p. 2

The article appeared in p. 2 of a supplement on 14 September 1811:

"A person (for a man I cannot call him) of the name of Ralph Malkins, led his lawful wife into our streets on the 28th ultimo, with a rope round her neck, and publicly exposed, her for sale; and, shameful to be told, another fellow, equally contemptible, called Thomas Quire, actually purchased and paid for her on the spot, sixteen pounds in money, and some yards of cloth. I am sorry to add, that the woman herself was so devoid of those feelings which are justly deemed the most valuable in her sex, agreed to the base traffic, and went off with the purchaser, significantly hinting, that she had no doubt her new possessor would make her a better husband than the wretch she then parted from. This business was conducted in so public a manner far outraged all laws human or divine, that a Bench of Magistrates, consisting of Mr. Cox, the Rev. Mr. Cartwright, and Mr. Mileham, had it publicly investigated on Saturday last, and all the odious circumstances having been clearly proved, and even admitted by the base wretches themselves, the Bench sentenced this man to receive 50 lashes, and put to hard labour in irons, in the gaol gang Sydney for the space of three calendar months; and the woman to be transported to the Coal River for an indefinite time.      
The public indignation at so gross a violation of decency was most unequivocally expressed by the acclamations with which the sentence was received by a numerous concourse of people who assembled to know the event of so extraordinary and unprecedented a business -- Their feelings were worthy of Men, and judging from them, I trust with confidence   that the recurrence of such a crime will not take place here at least for the present generation.- The laudable promptitude with which our Magistrates took up the business, and the quantum of punishment (still less than they deserve) which they pronounced, will, I have no doubt) produce the most salutary effect throughout the Colony, and check the progress of a crime, which if persevered in, would degrade the Inhabitants, and intail perpetual disgrace on their children and families."      

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Dr Parmeter & his severe afflictions - Trove Tuesday

For Trove Tuesday, I am looking at one of the Hawkesbury's memorable characters, Dr Thomas Parmeter c.1790-1836. Parmeter was sentenced to transportation, arriving in Sydney in 1816 as a convict. He studied medicine, then trained with a surgeon. He served in the army and then appointed to a nobleman’s household as a surgeon. He married a second time when he believed his wife from his disastrous first marriage was dead, however he was still officially married. He was charged with bigamy in 1815, and sentenced for seven years. 

On arrival, Dr Parmeter was given approval to resume his medical profession and was appointed as the Assistant Surgeon at the Lunatic Asylum 1817-1819 in Castle Hill. 

Between 1818 and 1825 he practised medicine whilst living in Windsor. He claimed this was one of the happiest period in his life. Thomas had a relationship with Jane Meredith, and they had several children. He assisted with problem births, performed complicated operations as well as autopsies. He was associated with the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society which was established to help others. In the early 1820s he suffered several tragedies that affected his livelihood, including my severe Afflictions (for I broke my Leg, lost my right Eye, and got Palsy in my limbs).

Classified Advertising. Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser 5 May 1825 p. 1.  

Whilst travelling from Wilberforce to Windsor in 1820, he was thrown from his horse and sustained a broken right thigh. Tragedy struck again when in 1823, Thomas experienced loss of vision and palsy resulting in some paralysis. 

On his departure from the Hawkesbury in 1825, the community presented him with a gift. He was rather pleased that the gift was a horse and not a plate. He advertised his medical services despite his inflictions. 

Dr Parmeter was also a prolific writer and compiled many articles and letters, some of which appeared in the Sydney GazetteIn one article he described a woman living in deplorable conditions at Cornwallis, giving birth. He amazingly penned a history of New South Wales and also wrote poetry including the poignant poem about his daughter Harriet playing on the Green in Windsor. 

He eventually took up land in the Hunter Valley in 1826. Jane left Thomas in the mid-1820s for Walter Rotton, and later married him. Thomas continued his writing pursuits and perusing the digitised newspapers on Trove shows numerous articles. He also supplemented his income with a few patients to keep him solvent.

Dr Parmeter died at Cockfighters Creek on the 14 July 1836, he was only forty-eight years old. His obituary recorded in the Sydney Gazette he was, a kind-hearted being, who was never more happy than when he was doing a kind and good act.