Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding the Whittles in Australia

Reader Rod Van Cooten is providing a lesson in accessing Australian resources in the 1800 to 1900 time period - and he's working faster than I'm writing! The previous posts were I Found Rachel in the 1852 California Census and Jane's Birth Record, and more... From the latter, I found out that Jane's parents were Alexander and Rachel Whittle, not Joseph and Rachel.

Last night, Rod commented on the latter post that:

"A fantastic resource for Australian family history research is the online newspaper repository at

"Searching in this for Alexander Whittle, and restricting the decade on the results to the 1840s raises the possibility that Alexander was a publican."

It is a fantastic resource! I entered Alexander Whittle, limiting the dates to 1838 to 1855, and received 16 matches. Using Rachel Whittle and restricting years to 1838 to 1855, resulted in 6 matches. There were several interesting articles in those matches:

* On 14 September 1842, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Alexander Whittle had a house on Cumberland Street in Gipps Ward.

* On 13 August 1846, The Sydney Morning Herald ran a notice that Alexander Whittle and William Beach had dissolved their partnership in a business, and Mr. Whittle is assuming all debts.

* On 30 October 1848, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Alexander Whittle of Sussex Street, a publican, had Mr. Jones arrested for obtaining money and goods under false pretenses - he showed him a large amount of future money.

( On 31 August 1849, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that:

"The undersigned being on the eve of leaving Sydney for a short time, hereby requests all persons having any claims against him to forward them to his residence in Sussex-street, for examination and immediate payments; and all persons indebted to him are requested to pay their respective accounts at the same place, to A. Whittle or to Mrs. Rachel Whittle by whom the business will be carried on as usual in the home, and whose receipt will be a suffiecient discharge.
.........................ALEXANDER WHITTLE
N.B. The cedar, pine, pits, racks, turned work, lathe, office, and the business of the yard, will be sold by auction, together with two or three dozen chairs, two sets of bedsteads, tables, boxes, and other things, on the 3rd September, if not previously disposed of my private contract.
Witness Joe Makin ..................... A. WHITTLE
August 30"

* On 2 Apr 1850, the Sydney Morning Herald on 2 April 1850 provided a list of Publicans General Licenses for Sydney for the coming year, and it includes:

" #162 Rachel Whittle, Sussex-street
#163 Alexander Whittle, Sussex-street"

* On 6 May 1850, The Sydney Morning Herald listed several court cases, including:

"Application of Margaret Birmingham
The husband of this applicant had gone to California. The license was first applied for in the name of the husband, but an application had also been made in the name of the wife.The first having been withdrawn, the latter was now taken into consideration. It was admitted that the husband was absent in California. He was, however, shortly expected to arrive in Sydney."

Further down:

"The Attorney-General was of the opinion, that the presumption of law being that the husband was alive, the wife could not enter into recognizances. Several other magistrates expressed a similar opinion, but admitted that the case was a very hard one, and regretted that they were prevented by law from granting the application. The license was therefore refused."

And then:

"Application of Rachel Whittle
This was a precisely similar case, and was similarly disposed of."

To summarize the information from the Australian Newspapers, it appears that:

* The Whittles were residing in Sydney in September 1842.

* Alexander Whittle was a publican (owned and operated a "pub" - a public house - probably a restaurant and bar) in the 1848 to 1850 time period, and perhaps earlier. The pub was in their home on Sussex Street in Sydney.

* Alexander Whittle left Sydney in or after September 1849 after giving notice to debtors and creditors, and putting his personal property up for sale.

* Rachel Whittle was denied a publicans license in May 1850 because were husband was not residing in Sydney.

There are many more clippings, and some of them are similar to others.

This created a very fun evening for me, discovering more articles about the Whittles and trying to figure them out.

Now I wonder what happened to Alexander Whittle - did he come to California? Are there lists of passengers lost on ships between Australia and California? Did he come to California but die there before or after Rachel and the family came across to join him? If she knew he was dead, would she have migrated too? What happened to Rachel after 1852?

Rod Van Cooten has also provided leads, in more comments to my Jane's Birth Record, and more... post, about passenger lists to Sydney and a potential marriage in England.

My thanks again to Rod for providing the links, and doing enough research to point me to online records in Australia, and now in England. More to come!

1 comment:

A O'Brien said...

Trove is fantastic and getting better all the time (as they add more newspapers regularly). I have made some fascinating family history discoveries with Trove. Anyone with Australian ancestors (or anyone who suspects they may have had relatives who spent any time in Australia) should definitely search for their family names!