St Saviours, Moorgate: the link between Monty Don and Cass ancestors

Yesterday for a bit of light relief we decided to watch the Who Do You Think You Are episode from a few months ago (here in Oz) featuring Monty Don, famous for the TV series Around the World in 80 Gardens, which I loved. Some comments on the episode were less than enthusiastic but I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and found him to be keen to learn, intelligently reflective, and genuinely enthusiastic about the discoveries to provide more balance into his family tree. What endeared me most was his emphasis on the fact that his female ancestry was an equal part of his tree.

The rather lovely organ at St Saviours. To its right is the edge of Monty Don's 2 x great grandfather's memorial. Unfortunately none of my husband's ancestors were baptised in this christening font.

However none of this is why I decided to post. There we were, happily relaxing, when the focus shifted to Monty Don’s 2 x great grandfather who was an Anglican vicar/minister/priest. Lo and behold he had been the vicar at St Saviours Church, then in Clarborough Parish at Moorgate near Retford, Nottinghamshire in the 1840s. “So what” you might say…well this is the church where Mr Cassmob’s 3 x great-grandmother worshipped. Not only that, but she would have been a parishioner (hopefully not one of the absentee ones) when he read a clerical riot act to his potential client base dividing them into church goers, chapel goers and nowhere goers. He really didn’t sound at all the pastoral type and I can agree with Monty saying he didn’t warm to the man.

Mr Cassmob with the graves of his 4xgreat grandmother, his 3xgreat grandmother and her sisters, Charlotte and Martha.

We were especially pleased when the camera panned around part of the churchyard, not quite reaching the gravestones we found for Mr Cassmob’s 3 x great grandmother and her sisters as well as his 4 x great grandmother. What a red letter family history day that was in 2006 as the snow-flakes started to fall.. We had no idea the family was there until, starting in West Drayton nearby, one trail led to another and we ended up at St Saviours.

Elizabeth Walker (d 1835) is buried with or near her daughters, Charlotte Linton (d1863), Susannah Cass (d 1868) and Martha Walker (d 1876). Susannah and Martha had run a school for young women in Grove St Retford for many years prior to their deaths.

Front view St Saviours Church, Moorgate Retford, Nottinghamshire March 2006

The next morning being a Sunday, we thought we’d take ourselves off to the church close to the time of the service so we could see the inside. St Saviours’ web page says “the most important thing about any church is the people. The members of St Saviour’s Church come in many different shapes and sizes, and range in age from 0 to 99. We put a strong emphasis on welcoming all people”. Now in many cases one might find this to be simply a nice mission statement (pardon the pun). Not so at St Saviours where the welcome was immediate, we were introduced around, taken to after-service morning tea and chatted to by everyone. Truly one of the highlights of our family history searches overseas in a number of countries.

So Monty Don’s own personal genealogy took him along the same path to the church linking his ancestor to my husband’s in such a strange but interesting way. And the nice touch was that while the Rev Charles Hodge was known to be a preacher but not a pastor, the 21st century ambience is completely different and welcoming. Not surprisingly this episode with such evocative memories of Moorgate and Retford and St Saviours is destined for a place in our TV archives.

Grove St, Retord where Susannah Cass and Martha Walker ran a school for young ladies for many years. Specific address is not known.

Introducing my family

Hello blog-world

This is my first posting on what I hope will be my family history blog, with occasional snippets about travel (another interest) and life in the Top End of Australia. While the research interests will be my own family and those from Dorfprozelten and Broadford which I’m researching, I hope to talk about the ways I go about finding new information and new discoveries that emerge, with luck and perseverance, like all family history.

My focus is more on the history of the families, their places of origin and their life history, rather than just their genealogy.

At different times I’ll be referring to my ancestral family – branches and individuals -but not to current-day people. So I thought I’d start by introducing the earliest members of my family who arrived in Australia, most of them in the mid-nineteenth century.

George KUNKEL who came from the village of Dorfprozelten am Main (on the River Main) in Bavaria. George married Mary O’BRIEN from Broadford in East County Clare, Ireland. They lived for about six years in Ipswich, Queensland before moving west with the construction of the railway line to Toowoomba. After a few years living on the Toowoomba range at Highfields, they moved down the range to the Fifteen Mile, an out-settlement of Murphy’s Creek, where they bought, and built, their own farm. Murphy’s Creek had been a major staging post during the railway’s construction. George and Mary were both working as servants when they married but in later years George was pork butcher, boarding house keeper, railway worker, and farmer. Both Mary and George were what we often refer to as “swimmers” as no record has yet been found of them in the records, despite 23 years of searching. It is believed that Mary O’Brien travelled with her sister, Bridget O’Brien, who later became Bridget WIDDUP and lived at Urana, New South Wales

William PARTRIDGE was born in London, but lived most of his early life in Coleford, Gloucestershire with his parents John & Eliza (nee Thompson).  He stated his occupation as “groom” when he arrived in Moreton Bay on board the Fortune in December 1855. He married Hannah KENT who arrived in Moreton Bay with her parents and siblings on the General Hewitt in December 1854. William Partridge was the brother of Lucy ROSEBLADE who emigrated with her husband John and family,arriving in Queensland on the Duke of Westminster in July 1866, first settling in Ipswich but later being pioneers at Yungaburra.

Also on board the Fortune in 1855 were Denis & Ellen GAVIN from Ireland (Wicklow, Kildare and Dublin) and their small daughter Mary. The family immediately went west out near Roma where Denis worked as a bullock driver.

Stephen Gillespie MELVIN and his young wife (Janet nee Peterkin) and child, Lawrence, arrived in Moreton Bay on the Woodlark in January 1877. Janet died while in quarantine soon after arrival. Stephen remarried in August 1878. His second wife was Emily Partridge, daughter of William and Hannah Partridge, and a first-generation Queenslander. Stephen and Emily lived in Ipswich and Charters Towers and after Emily’s death in 1912, he moved to Sydney. Stephen came from many generations of merchant seamen from Leith, the port for Edinburg, and had worked in that occupation himself after completing his pastry cook’s apprenticeship in Edinburgh. He was a skilled pastry cook gaining recognition in his new home for his sweets and cakes. Stephen’s mother, Margaret Gillespie (later Melvin, Ward and Wheaton) also emigrated and died in Charters Towers where she and her daughter-in-law are recognised with a large memorial stone. Margaret also came from a sea-faring family and indeed worked as a stewardess herself. She was born in North Shields, Northumberland.

Later arrivals included the McCORKINDALE family (in different immigration waves) who came to Australia from Glasgow but whose roots lie in Loch Awe and Kilmorich (Ardkinglas) in Argyll, Scotland. 

The SHERRY family emigrated from Gorey, Wexford and became two branches: the McSHERRY branch and the McSHARRY branch. The earliest identified origin for this family is Tullamore, Offaly (then King’s County) where James Sherry married Bridget FURLONG in the 1860s. James was a railway worker in Ireland and probably in Queensland but his home place is unknown. The surname is typically concentrated in the north of Ireland.  The McSherry/McSharry family worked on the railways of Queensland, building new lines and always being closely involved with the Catholic Church wherever they went.

My husband’s family, the CASS family, arrived in Victoria in the mid-19th century from Bath, England but the family originally lived in West Drayton and Retford in Nottinghamshire.

My wider interests are in emigrants from Dorfprozelten in Bavaria and Broadford in eastern County Clare. Although I’m primarily interested in those emigrants who came to Australia, I’m still keen to hear from anyone with connections back to those places.

As I dig further back into the records other names will come to light.

Happy hunting

Cassmob NT