View Full Version : Q re: NSW records

14-11-2006, 12:54 AM
Hi everyone,
I am trying to find a marriage that occurred in about 1844 in Sydney for one of my lines. I have 3 seperate documents of Victorian origin (2 deaths, 1 a birth for the youngest child of the couple I am looking for) which state the marriage information. On the deaths the marriage date is about 1844, on the birth it's specifically dated 28 March 1850 which is closer to the birth of the first child but this document - the informant was someone I don't know of in the family, it was not either parent and the only person with the name that I have is their 10 year old daughter (now I don't think a registrar would allow a 10 year old girl to register the birth of her sibling alone??).

I am trying to find the marriage on the NSW BDM search engine, but not finding anything, and I was wondering if the NSW documents of the period may be like the VIC ones, where a lot of records for this period are missing or unregistered?

I don't have any other evidence of the family living in NSW, all children were born/all deaths were in VIC, shipping records indicate each parent arrived seperately in VIC, I can't find them in the shipping online indexes for NSW.

Anyone have any suggestions of what else I may try?

With warm regards,

14-11-2006, 4:33 AM
Hi Bridget,

The birth certificate would be the most accurate as to the marriage date - sometimes the death ones just have a wild guess. If the informant is the same name as the 10 year daughter, then she is probably a family member - the relationship is usually recorded on the certificate.

BUT - unfortunately - they did lie sometimes to cover up the fact that they did not marry at all, else predate the marriage to be more respectable time prior to the first child.

An 1850 marriage would technically be in NSW as Victoria didn't really exist yet - I think the marriage for that date would appear in either or both BDM indexes, depending on what church they married in.

It could be worth getting another birth certificate, to see what information is given on it. (after 1st July 1853) If a different date and place is given again, then you can think it might not have happened when they said. I have one lady who always gave a different date - and once a different place - over a period of 20 years to cover up the fact that they married just before the birth of their second child!


14-11-2006, 4:34 AM
And then again, you can post the names here, and we can see what we can do :D


14-11-2006, 4:50 AM
Hi Bridget

It is probably worth posting named details as sometimes that gives clues as to what else might be searched.


14-11-2006, 4:58 AM
Hiya Christine, thanks for the reply!

That's a good point, buying another birth certificate may be the way to go. I've just purchased 3 in two days so not so eager to do that again this week. :)

I've been over the VIC and NSW records with a fine tooth comb, but another pair of eyes may pick up something I may have missed. So, I am looking for the following family:

John WATKINS b. about 1819, County Cork, Ireland d. 9 March 1901 in Geelong West aged 76, buried 10 March 1901 in Euroa (this is one of the certificates I purchased, the informant was the undertaker's assistant in Geelong, it looks like with the family's permission, wife named as Julia THOMPSON, correct children, correct birthplace, marriage as Sydney, at age 25, lived 50 years in Vic.). He was a farmer. Have not found any definitive shipping record for John.

his wife:

Julia DESMOND (found it spelt various ways but most commonly DESMOND & DASMONT) b. about 1816 also from Cork, Ireland; d. 13 August 1902 in Euroa, Vic., aged 86, buried 14 August 1902 in Euroa. (This is the other one I purchased, informant was son, who stated she lived in NSW for 2 yrs, Vic. for 50, married John Watkins in NSW at age 24, 5 children correctly listed, correct birthplace). Julia was a servant. She came to Vic. on the ship alone, no parents or siblings with same surname, assisted immigration -
DESMOND, JULIA arrived -19 DEC 1839 ship- WESTMINSTER book 2 page 47

Children were:
1) Catherine b. 1851 at Seven Creeks, Euroa, no birth registered in Vic or NSW d. 1942 (my ancestor) she married Peter BEATON (purchased this marriage certificate nothing new on it).

2) George b. about 1854, cannot find his birth or death.

3) Mary b. 1857 in Euroa 1857/3049 she married Alexander Robert JOHNSTONE, haven't found her death yet.

4) John b. 1859 in Euroa 1859/21930, haven't found his death, he married Elizabeth ANSELL, informant on mother's death certificate.

5) Henry b. 1861 in Euroa 1861/10647 (purchased this)
Birthdate 9th May, 1861 in Euroa
Father John Watkins, aged 42, birthplace County Cork, Ireland
Mother Julia Desmond, aged 41, birthplace County Cork, Ireland
Parents married 28th March 1850 in Sydney, New South Wales

6) Missing?? No idea who this is as referred to on Henry's birth, no evildren correctly listed, correct birthplace). Julia was a servant. She came to Vic. on the ship alone, no parents or siblings with same surname, assisted immigration -
DESMOND, JULIA arrived -19 DEC 1839 ship- WESTMINSTER book 2 page 47

14-11-2006, 11:18 AM
struck by the dreaded repeating text bug :D |computer|

good idea that, to put it in quotes!

I'll have a look.


14-11-2006, 12:01 PM
I couldn't see anything, but didn't really expect to after you said you had been over the BDMs pretty well.

A few thoughts...
You will not find birth registrations for the early births, you will only find anything if there are surviving baptism records. Bear in mind that they might not have been baptised, or else done in a job lot at a later date which will not show up in BDMs - but might be in church records. At the time of their births, Euroa would probably not had any ministers let alone churches for quite some time. I have the same problem with nearby Avenel - children born and died that have no record and not mentioned on the mother's death - but are counted on births, and again counted on a second marriage so I have no doubt there were three other children who died in the very early days.

It is good that it says in 1861 that none of the children are deceased. The mystery one probably died later, as an infant, which is why he/she hasn't been mentioned on the parent's death certs. Pity you didn't have later births where the ages and names are recorded. :D


14-11-2006, 12:40 PM
John b. 1859 in Euroa 1859/21930, haven't found his death

Digger - Death Index. Victoria 1921-1985
Father: Watkins Jno
Mother: Julia UNKNOWN
Death Place: EUROA
Age: 79
Year: 1937
Reg Number: 18085

:) found something

his wife Elizabeth died 1931, reg Euroa, 4955
aged 73 (Thomas ANSELL, Elizabeth MILLWOOD)

14-11-2006, 10:49 PM
Good morning,
thank you Christine, I appreciate it - thank you for finding the death of son John, can't believe I missed it! |jumphappy|

I forgot to say, on the father John's dc it said he was a "Gentleman" what does that mean exactly??

My main concern at the moment is working out the parents marriage in the hope of finding out something about how they came to Australia and their parentage, because both dc's stated parents unknown. Which was my main reason for the original question whether or not there are NSW records missing/unregistered in the same fashion as what happened in Victoria for the same period. Otherwise I will be on a wild goose-chase without much hope trying to work out the family in Ireland (slim hope I know).

If Julia Desmond came out in 1839, that's before the Irish Famine orphans were shipped out here - I've already tried looking for her in those lists. I'm hoping she is not another orphan on my line from Ireland, to add to my other 3 girls. *sigh* It would be nice to have an EASY *cough* line to work on for once. |shakehead| I found another person online named Sally Ann Currie who is researching the same line, but all her email addresses where she listed her interests are dead. :(

Oh well, will keep plodding along. Thanks for your help, Christine and Helen. |hug|


14-11-2006, 11:17 PM
A "gentleman" is one who didn't have to work, had income.

Sometimes you can fluke finding a sibling who married later on and work back from there.


15-11-2006, 1:26 AM
Thanks Christine, I thought that may be the case. It would make sense for John to be retired at time of death, being a farmer - not sure about the money situation.

OOH just had an idea, what about trying to find a will for John or Julia?? Would that have any extra information about them in it?


15-11-2006, 4:36 AM
Farmer? of course - land records. I have heard that they can hold lots of lovely information especially with their dealings with government. It has been explained to me how to go about it, but I haven't ventured in that direction as yet.

He most likely did have a Will. There is an index to Wills and Probate. Wills can be viewed and copies at the Public Record Office in North Melbourne. Personal visits only, or a friend, or researcher - but can be ordered ahead online by registered PROV users. (My William Mutton died young, and he actually referred by name to his mother in law, as a widow from Jersey in the Channel Islands. She was next in line if his wife and children predeceased him.)

Some other ideas - Have you been able to look in the local papers of the day to see if there are obituaries? Do you have headstone inscriptions? Do you have burial records, to see if there are other interrments in the grave that you do not know about?


15-11-2006, 4:49 AM
Your George's marriage? I would say so, had a few kids, one girl called Julia.

Digger - Pioneer Index. Victoria 1836-1888
Surname: WATKINS
Given Names: George
Event: M
Spouse Surname/Father: WILLIAMS
Spouse Gvn Names/Mother: Jane
Birth Place: EUROA
Year: 1876
Reg Number: 981

15-11-2006, 5:16 AM
Hi Christine,
Land records - hmm. Impossible for me to get, my family all live too far away or too incompetent to ask to do that for me. That leaves a researcher (I've been looking at the local society in Euroa to contact them perhaps).

Will - I don't have access to the index, I've asked my local library but they aren't being very co-operative in ordering things for me, so will have to tackle that next time I go to Melbourne (got a big list to search for! hehe).

Burials - I don't have anything other than the dates of the parents burial from their dc... I am going to write to the secretary of the cemetery and see if they can give me a location, and then ask my father to take a trip from Echuca to Euroa when he gets a chance and take some photos for me. :)

Newspapers - don't have access to those either. :( It can be so frustrating living in this area sometimes!! The locals only care about their own little piece of turfs history, hence all the trouble with the library...

As to George, yes - thank you! Now I have found his death in 1907, Violet Town, 12 kids wow!!

|hug| I'll let you know how it goes, if I get any answers.

Regards, Bridget.

18-11-2006, 11:44 AM
Hi Bridget,

I've written a long treatise on your research problems, so I think I'd better split it up so that it gets through ok.

I would certainly contact the experts in research in Euroa – the Euroa Historical Society, which has a webpage if you do a Google.

I want to go back to the passenger index entry that you found for Julia Desmond on the Westminster which arrived in 1839. You need to be wary about records for people of the same name who might not necessarily be the person you are seeking. I was doubtful of that record being the correct one when Julia's death certificate indicates that she had been in Victoria 50 years and NSW for 2 years. With a death date in 1902, that gives her an approximate arrival year of 1850, not 1839. Likewise, with her approximate age at death being 86, and an approximate birth year of 1816, she would have been 23 in 1839, not 19 as indicated in the index.

You should never accept a record as being one relating to your family unless you have looked at the original document – indexes are only indexes, they usually don't include all the information available.

Because I was dubious about the shipping record being your Julia Desmond, I had a look at the Victorian Pioneers Index and found that a Julia Desmond died in Melbourne in 1840, aged 30, buried by St Francis RC Church, Melbourne. The age doesn't match the age of the woman in the shipping record, but there could have been a transcription error in the 19, which perhaps might have been 29. Again, there was a marriage for a Julia Desmon in 1840 to a William Thomas, at St James in Melbourne. So there were possibly two other Julia Desmonds to account for that early shipping record.

Your early comment about the other possible marriage date of 1850 being close to the date of the birth of the first child, Catherine, who was born approximately 1851 is where I would be focussing. Christine also remarked about people make false statements to cover up little peccadillos. This might also be relevant in the case.

Civil Registration did not commence in Victoria until July 1853. Prior to that you have to rely on Church Records. Very few Early Church Records made it into the Victorian Pioneers Index because of non-compliance by the churches when the Registrar asked them to send in their registers some years later. So if certain events occurred in Victoria in the period prior to July 1853 (or even for some time after), you would quite typically not find them in the Victorian Pioneers Index. The only way you can get hold of early church records is to track them down church by church (or archive by archive).

Best wishes,


18-11-2006, 11:49 AM
Now, the records you have are pointing quite firmly at Euroa, so I would spend some time finding out what records are available for Euroa. I dont know when the first church opened there, but it would not be unusual for a gaggle of children from one family to be christened all at once, because they hadn't had the opportunity early.

Another suspicious item you reported about information in John Watkins death certificate – that his wife's name was Julia Thompson. This may be totally wrong, being provided by the undertaker, but it does raise the possibility that Julia had been married previously.

And if she had been married previously, it does raise the possibility that neither Catherine nor George, for whom birth/christening records have not yet been located, where the children of John Watkins. Which means that you should expand your horizons when seeking a shipping record for him. If the first provable birth for a child of John Watkins is Mary in 1859, that means that you might find him in the shipping indexes much later than you think. That is quite a gap between George and Mary. But when they come to filling in details about their marriage, they would have been obliged to accommodate the fact that there was Catherine born in 1851, so natually they couldn't have given a marriage date any later than 1850. Whether or not John Watkins was already in the country. They would probably say Sydney to save them having to be able to describe the inside of some Melbourne Church, or its minister, when they had never set foot in one, perhaps.

I noted that there was a shipping arrival in the Victorian Assisted Passenger Index for a John Watkins in 1852, aged 29. (Your bloke would have been approximately 33 based on his age when Henry was born, but 27 based on his age at death.) Also, there was a John Watkin who arrived in 1851, aged 31. In addition to that, there are a swag of John Watkins who arrived in Victoria as unassisted passengers. You would need to spend some time in PROV working through all those John Watkins, taking into account the fact that you don't really have evidence at this stage that he was in Australia earlier than that 1859 birth (or at least the conception nine months earlier.)

But before you spend
than you think. That is quite a gap between George and Mary. But when they come to filling in details about their marriage, they would have been obliged to accommodate the fact that there was Catherine born in 1851, so natually they couldn't have given a marriage date any later than 1850. Whether or not John Watkins waswas Catherine born in 1851, so natually they couldn't have given a marriage date any later than 1850. Whether or not John Watkins was already in the country. They would probably say Sydney to save them having to be able to describe the inside of some Melbourne Church, or its minister, when they had never set foot in one, perhaps.

18-11-2006, 11:52 AM
But before you spend time on that, you should work from the known to the unknown, and get serious about locating every record that you can about the family. Obituaries in local newspapers, Wills, Probates, burial records, notices of weddings.

If your Dad is up to driving to Euroa to take pictures of headstones, maybe he is up to driving to the nearest regional library with newspapers on microfilm for you. You have the dates of the deaths, so it wouldn't be hard to go through a few editions of newspapers. If you do a bit of a Google you should find the local regional library, and work out whether any of the branches has newspapers on microfilm. A friendly librarian is sure to respond to an email enquiry. All regional libraries now have their catalogues on line, so do use them.

You may need to get some more birth certificates. Catherine and George may only have thought they were born in Euroa, but if they weren't and someone in the Euroa Registrar's office knew they were comparatively new arrivals, they could have given some other birthplace. It is possible they came down from Sydney – Euroa was on the overlanders route, I think. The historical society will tell. They'll also tell you whether John Watkins' name is on the Parish map – if he purchased land, it may give you a clue as to whether he was an unassisted passenger.

I've mentioned notices of weddings. Country wedding reports in the papers often included an entire list of the guests and the gifts they gave the happy couple. You could discover other relatives you didn't know about. It was quite usual for emigrants to have other relations in the colony – that is why we learnt all about Chain Migration at school (well, I did, anyway, though I suppose that was in the Dark Ages when they still taught Australian History in schools.)

I hope that gives you some food for thought, and some leads to follow up.

Best wishes,

18-11-2006, 1:19 PM

a time line here for Euroa.

:) C