Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rootstech Photo + Story Competition

There are just 90 days to go before RootsTech 2018 gets underway.  To get in the mood, why not enter the Photo + Story Competition

Brandon Stanton
This competition complements one of the Keynote Speakers, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York.  The RootsTech press release says "Recognized worldwide for his revealing photographs of everyday people and their stories, Stanton will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech, held at the Salt Palace February 28 to March 1. His personal glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in New York has set a standard for quality photo stories."

Brandon's web site has photos of everyday New Yorkers and their stories.  Why not write your own  story or a story of your family?

The competition is looking for photos and stories in one of four categories: Connect, Belong, Family, and Heritage. The objective is to use the power of both photo and story to share, persuade, inform, inspire, connect, and belong. This links back to the theme of this RootsTech conference:

Connect. Belong.

Me and my Teddy Bear
Everyone has stories. I have been using my blog to record some of mine, like the day my father blow-dried the cat, the story of my Teddy Bear, my grandfather's World War I experiences, and even the story of my chimney-sweep ancestor who hunted with the Duke of Badminton.

Why not write down your stories and enter the competition? You can submit one photo and story in each of the categories. Winners will receive prizes from Canon or Dell. The deadline is 31 December 2017. More information is available here.

You don't have to be attending RootsTech to enter, but it's a worthwhile experience. And until December 4 you can register for just $169, instead of the usual $279. Use the promotional code CYBER18.

Note: Entrants must be at least 18 to apply. No professional qualification, licenses, certificates, or certification is required. You to not need to be registered for RootsTech to enter.

Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Day my Father Tried to Blow-dry the Cat

I grew up being owned by two Siamese cats. They were mother and son, and the mother cat, Kiki, was really my cat, whereas her son owned the whole family.  Both cats have long since passed away, but I still have so many fond memories of them.  Like the day my father tried to blow-dry Kiki.

My family lived in a bushy area of Sydney, and one problem with that is that when the cats and dogs go out exploring they are very likely to get fleas. This is not any more pleasant for the animals than for the humans they inevitably pass the fleas onto, so it has always been necessary to try and prevent them from getting fleas, or to get rid of the little critters if your cats (or dogs) do end up with them. In the 1970s the first main option was to put a flea-collar on your cat. These strong smelling accessories were never terribly successful in tackling the flea problem.  Even when they were "fresh" they only seemed to reduce the number of fleas, not eliminate them completely, and as the toxins wore off, the flea numbers increased. 

My father discovered that far more successful was giving them a periodic bath with some anti-flea preparation.  As you can imagine, the cats did not like this, and considered it way below the dignity of a cat.  But the cats knew us, and knew we looked after them and wouldn't hurt them, so they accepted that the bath must be necessary. But each bath was accompanied by a constant low growl to protest the ignominy of the situation.

One winter's day Kiki's bath didn't take place until early in the evening.  My father was worried that a wet Kiki would be cold, or even catch a cold, if all he did was towel dry her after her bath.  The only thing they had that could be used was that old hair-dryer belonging to my mother.  You know the kind: a kind of shower-cap like covering that used to go over the hair rollers, connected to a source of warm air by a hose.  Dad just used the hose bit to blow dry Kiki.  She had no idea what was going on, and not only was there the constant growl, but also the tail flicking back and forwards that indicates a cat is not happy.  Then Dad decided that the easiest way to get her tail dry would be to put it down the hose. That was too much! A cat has to maintain her dignity at all times, and this was definitely undignified. With a yowl she jumped off his lap, raced to the other end of the house and hid under a bed.

He never tried to blow-dry her again.

Kiki on the day we got her

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Just who was Cordelia Knight?

On 27 Feb 1823 the Lord Sidmouth arrived in Sydney carrying a cargo of female convicts and stores for the colony. One of those convicts was Cordelia Knight.  She had been tried at the Old Bailey in the previous June and found guilty of stealing 20 yards of silk, with a death sentence being pronounced. Luckily for those of us who descend from her, her death sentence was remitted to transportation for life.

This was her second appearance at the Old Bailey. The first had taken place in April 1820, when she was found guilty (under the name Cornelia Knight) of stealing 11 yards of printed stuff and sentenced to one month in Newgate gaol.

On the voyage to New South Wales she took her four daughters: Sarah, born 16 Nov 1810; Lucretia, born 7 Jul 1814; Mary, born 7 Dec 1817; and Caroline (sometimes called Louisa), born 23 Apr 1821.  The eldest three girls had all been baptised in Hampstead, Middlesex, on 11 Jan 1818 as the children of John & Cordelia Knightes [sic]. The youngest was not baptised until 1828 in Windsor.

St John-at-Hampstead, where three of
Cordelia's daughters were baptised
[Chris Gunns, via Wikimedia Commons]

So the natural course of events would be to search for the marriage of Cordelia to a John Knight or Knightes. The only such marriage people have found is the marriage of John Knight and Cordelia White on 5 Jun 1810 in Bloomsbury.  The date looks reasonable, given the birth of their first known daughter, therefore many people have seized on it and used it in their family trees. Subsequently, more and more people have copied that information, so that it seems to many that it must be correct.

But there is a problem with this. 

Cordelia's first conviction, in April 1820, says she was aged 26.  This would indicate a birth about 1794.  At her second conviction in Jun 1821, she is still said to be 26, though she should have aged a year by then.  This would make her born about 1795. The 1828 census of NSW says she is 33, indicating a birth about 1795. Her ticket of leave, granted in  1830 says she was born in 1794 in Hampstead, and her conditional pardon in 1852 says she was born in 1795 in Hampstead. Finally, her burial record in May 1853 says she was 57 years old, pointing to a birth in 1796.

So most records point to a birth in 1794-95, with only her burial record – when she was unavailable to provide the information – gives a birth about 1796. And the convict records state she was a native of Hampstead, and these records are usually correct in this regard.

And here is where the problem arises. Why would someone born in Hampstead (and whose children were baptised there) go down to Bloomsbury to get married? And not only did they marry there by banns, they were both said to be "of this parish", which means that they were definitely living there at that time (though not necessarily born there).

Further, most online trees have decided that she was Cordelia Elizabeth White, who was baptised on 7 Oct 1781 in St Peter le Poer in London. This is 14-16 years before Cordelia Knight always claimed to have been born. And she was not born in Hampstead, as the convict records state our Cordelia was. And there is no single record showing the woman who was transported to NSW having a middle name of Elizabeth. Could this really be the same person? 

There are other online family trees that say Cordelia's surname was Rudd, but none of them give any source for this or place of marriage to check.

Just because only one event for a particular named person has been found, it doesn't mean that it is the correct one. Even now, not all records are online, and not all records have survived. It was not unusual for a parish priest or clerk to forget to record some of the events.  If other surviving records provide conflicting information to the one record found, then it should not be accepted as the truth without further confirming evidence being found.