Chapter 5 of The Family of Thomas and Mary Beswick, 1992, revised 1998
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Beswicks of Derby: Later Generations
ANNIE AND RICHARD
Richard Thomas Beswick was "the first boy on Derby".(1) He had been born at Patterson Plains on 1 October 1862 and arrived with his father at Brothers Home, as Derby, Tasmania, was then called, on New Years Day 1877. He was employed to carry the mail through the bush to Branxholm Estate, originally the Scott's property, five miles away. That was before there was any town of Branxholm. From that early farming development there was a track to Scottsdale, and of course there the mail would then have been taken on to Launceston by his uncle Sam who ran the coach service. Young Richard also used to mind his father's shop.(2) The family tradition is that Thomas II had a butcher's shop and bakery and general store, much as he did at Lefroy and Mathinna. Thomas II preferred commerce to mining, but his son Richard soon became a miner and advanced to be mine manager for one of the smaller companies The Brothers Home Extended Tin Mining Company by the time the Tasmanian Cyclopedia was written about 1899, which gave the following description(3):
The Brothers Home Extended T.M. Company's (No liability) mine fronts the Ringarooma River at Derby, County Dorset. Mr. Richard Thomas Beswick is the mining manager. This mine was discovered by Mr. William Hawkes about seventeen years ago, and was formed into a company called the North Brothers Home Tin Mining Company, and was subsequently amalgamated with the Triangle Tin Mining Company.....the company's property was bought by a local syndicate about six years ago and registered as the Brothers Home Extended Tin Mining Company, whose system of working the mine has proved successful.... new head race from Main Creek.... Two races, one from the Upper Ringarooma, which is 20 miles long.... Mr. Richard Thomas Beswick, mining manager of the company, is a native of Tasmania, and was born in 1862. Since leaving school, up to the present time, he has been connected with tin mining, besides being a director of various mining companies in Tasmania.
Later, he worked for the larger Briseis company formed by amalgamation of several smaller mines, but he was not in management. He looked after the sluice boxes where the tin was finally separated from the mixture of sand and water in which it was mined from the aleuvial deposits. The mine following the tin extended from the Krushka brothers original site in the Cascade valley across the Ringarooma River to the farm land Richard's father, Thomas Beswick, had taken up. Eventually the open cut was about 500 feet [150 metres] in height from nearly 200 feet below the river to basalt rock and chocolate soil 300 feet above. About 20 acres of the farm on the hill was eventually mined away, and a similar area was enclosed for protection. The family had some benefit from the two 21 year leases it had with the mining company but it did not have a stake in the profits of the mine and each individual in the extended family gained very little from it. Richard David son of Richard Thomas bought the farm, "Florence Vale", from the Estate of the late Thomas Beswick (his grandfather) in 1949, selling the part containing the then closed mine to a consortium of mining interests; it was added to the adjoining "Claremont" of which he had acquired full ownership a short time before. It later passed to Richard John, the younger son of Richard David.
When the daughters of Thomas and Catherine Beswick were going to school at Mathinna before coming to Derby they were friends with a girl named Annie Dick who was later to become their elder brother's wife. She was the daughter of settlers from Scotland, Helen and David Dick, who had arrived at Launceston on the `Lady Egidia' on 19 April 1862, having left Glasgow shortly after their wedding at Auchtow, Balquhidder, on 27 December 1861. Helen was a MacGregor, a descendent of `Rob Roy'. We still have their Bible in which is pressed a sprig of Scottish heather they brought with them, and Helen's Gaelic New Testament, the box in which they carried their belongings and other relics which are in various homes of the family. It would take us too far from our theme of following the descendants of Thomas and Mary Beswick to diverge into the Scottish ancestry and colonial life of the Dicks, but it is clear that their daughter Annie Sarah was a major influence through her marriage to Richard Thomas. Theirs was the first wedding in the new Methodist Church at Derby (Brothers Home) 9 April 1888. A little of the Dick family history, however, will give some further insight into how the later Beswicks at Derby came to live the kind of lives they did.
Annie's parents lived for some years at or near Derby, at one time at a place called `The Springs' (that name again) in the bush somewhere between Derby, Morinna and Weldborough that we have not been able to locate. The greater part of their time was spent at Mathinna, where David Dick was a miner. We have a photograph of him with his partner William Stevens at the windlass over the shaft of `The Miners Dream'. That mine, the site of which can still be found at Mathinna, is part of the tradition that is too good a story to let pass. We have often been told of how David dreamed three times that he found gold in a certain place and of how they went there and dug, and when they were about to give up they found gold. I fancy he was a dreamer in other respects too; nevertheless, despite his reputation in that regard he had some of the Scottish elements of discipline about him: he was capable of hard work and made his living for many years as a miner. Even in his old age my father could remember him setting out to walk from Derby to Mathinna, a distance of some thirty miles over the mountains. There is evidence too that he valued personal discipline: my grandmother, Annie, once told me herself of how he had punished her when she was a girl, for fooling around when he had asked her to bring him a shovel.
The poem `Echos of W. McMullins Ghost' is attributed to David Dick. Whether he wrote it or not, it came to us mainly in his handwriting, dated 14 August 1917.(4) It illustrates the kind of mythology that was celebrated among the pioneers. One of the books from the original `Claremont', still at Derby, entitled `Conversations on the Bible', is inscribed `David Dick, Brothers Home, 1892'. I suppose he bought it for Bible study, but he used it to support another interest also. Throughout the book there are pressed cuttings of wild flowers and plants that grow in forests of North East Tasmanian. I imagine him thinking deeply about many things as he worked in the bush. My father told me he gained his interest in birds from his mother, who I guess learned it from her father. Dorothy Russell, the youngest of the children of Annie and Richard, and the only survivor of her generation in this branch of the family at the time of the 1992 reunion, recalled David Dick with affection. She said `I loved him. My sisters said he let the money slip through his fingers. Mum said that ...'. `He used to call me his "wee lassie"'. Of course little girls often love their grandfathers. She remembered his Scottish accent, his warmth and his ability at arithmetic. She said, `He was brilliant with figures. The boys, Dick and Alan, would write down a long list of figures and he would go straight up them and get the right answer'.
Richard and Annie lived in the town of Derby until 1905. Their house was next to the path up the hill to the Methodist Church near where the main street forks where the present Derby Town hall was later built. The next street westward off the main street was named Beswick Street, but street names have long since been forgotten in the remnants of the old mining town -- at least they had until tourism inspired more attention to the quaint remains of the "Historic Town of Derby", and some signs have been erected in recent years. They were living there when Thomas II had his fatal fall down the stairs of the Federal Hotel not far away on the opposite side of the main street. It was remarked later that `they' had not immediately informed Richard, who was the eldest son and was working on the mine not far away, but had gone first to tell two sons-in-law Charles Fardon and Thomas Weir. One explanation could be that association of the accident with the hotel removed it from the normal world of Richard and Annie, for they were both Rechabites, members of a worldwide friendly society of total abstainers from alcohol.
As will be seen, other members of the family of Thomas did not share Richard's views about the best way to deal with alcohol, which was being seen by increasing numbers at that time as a genuine social problem. Some of the family profited considerably from hotels, especially in Western Australia. John Warry's account of their ventures is included later in this chapter. They would certainly have been aware of Thomas's pioneering example at Scottsdale, and it has emerged that some at least had knowledge of the occupation of Thomas the convict's father in London, whom we have called Thomas the publican. (Richard's elder son, Allan told his children of "The Royal Oak", but it was not generally known in that generation when the convict origins of the family were not talked about.) Annie who married Richard, however, was one of the foundation members of the local Methodist Society at the time when it was being influenced by the temperance movement, although Methodists had not previously been total abstainers. The Methodists would have included Presbyterians and other non-Anglican Protestants in their fellowship. They met in the new church where Annie and Richard were married. Richard must have been an adherent. His name does not appear on the old members roll.(5) When the Methodist Church of Australasia was formed in 1901 from the union of the Wesleyan Church and three other related churches, `unswerving hostility to the liquor traffic' was its uncompromising stand, and that was the position normally observed in the family of Richard and Annie.
Richard Thomas is remembered as a warm hearted and kindly man, with a good sense of humour. Annie was a contrast in that she had no sense of humour, although she was also a kind and, indeed, exceedingly generous person. I asked my mother, Kath Beswick, to describe David and Helen Dick's daughter, my grandmother, Annie, her mother-in-law. She said, `She was a very dignified woman. I never heard her say a word out of place ... a very fine person ... well organized ... careful in a Scottish way'. She said of my Grandma that her husband did not have a high income from the mine and that she worked hard to add income by milking cows, and, of course, later she was widowed while she still had young people in her care. Ada Gandy remembered one uncharacteristic remark by her from an earlier period on Florence Vale when as a young woman she said to her mother-in-law, Catherine, `At least the Dicks came to Tasmania of their own accord'. Those words might not have been in the circumstances, `out of place', but they were rather too true for comfort.
That remark dates from the time after Thomas died in 1905, when Richard and Annie lived for about a year on Florence Vale. It may be that Richard had expected to inherit the farm, but it did not work out that way. As we have noted, Thomas died without signing his will, but we do not know now what difference that would have made. There is evidence, apart from Annie's uncharacteristic remark about the convict background which was otherwise systematically suppressed, that all was not well between Catherine and the younger family: `Grandma was difficult', they said. In any case Richard and Annie had other plans. Shortly afterwards, they moved to their new house high in the brow of the hill overlooking the town on the first part they owned of the farm `Claremont'. The marvellously warm, open, generous and well ordered character of their home is attested by many. It is described in detail by Richard Gandy in Chapter 6. My own memory of the warm hearth and busy people accords with the witness of others, but I must add one other emphasis concerning her stewardship of time: the kitchen clock was always set half an hour fast, and Annie was heard to observe a little anxiously, `Today's Monday, tomorrow's Tuesday, the week's half gone and nothing done.'
Richard died relatively young in 1921 after a long illness which made him too sick to enjoy a normal life for some years before he died. There were no social services to aid such invalids in those days and his wife, Annie, and her six children, had to do the best they could. He continued to work on the mine as long as possible but was at home for a long time before he died. The two boys, Allan and Richard David, left school as soon as they could and worked on the farm when it had scarcely any cleared paddocks, and they knew practically nothing of farming. I remember my father telling me how a neighbour showed them how to dig potatoes. Let me record one detail from the last days of Richard Thomas remembered by my father. They asked him if there was anything he would especially like to eat and said he would like a bronze winged pigeon. My father, Richard, who was sixteen at the time went out with a gun and after searching nearly all day he managed to find one and bring it home.
Annie was undoubtedly the dominant figure in the general life and business of the farming family until she died in 1949. A letter from a cousin in South Africa(6) brings `praise of those wonderful, intrepid Beswick women of my childhood:
One remembers vividly their warmth and generosity of spirit.
A writer friend of mine in South Africa was looking at my family album and said of Grandma `They don't make them like that anymore; what a face!' Of course Grandma was a Beswick by marriage, but she had a great influence as the matriach of a large family - 6 of her own, 3 nephews were also brought up on the farm, numerous grandchildren, especially. I must add the 6 Gandys who spent so much time with Grandma and the 2 aunts, Ila and Dorrie.
Grandma has always remained on a lofty extra-terrestrial pedestal in my heart. I adored her soft, white hair, her thin body and dignified bearing, always so correctly and soberly dressed, her straight back and quiet air of authority. She was of course a Victorian - how amazed she would be to see this 70 year old grandmother yachting in our wild South Easterly gales. She would perhaps say `Tut, tut, my child'. Above all Grandma had the highest Christian principles and an excellent brain.
I particularly loved to see her come inside and stop working, not easy for her to do that. She'd go to her bedroom and wash her feet in a basin, tidy up and then come down in the dining room, so quiet and peaceful and sit by the light of the window her dear little face silhouetted in the light from the garden. Sometimes Marje and I would sing her favourite Scotch (Scottish) songs. Then we'd have one of those wonderful afternoon teas - with Dorrie's sponge cake (as light as a feather) and Ila's scones and homemade raspberry jam and cream.
Well, enough of that! There are many others. Richard and Annie's family was only one of those of Florence Vale origins that developed in different ways and in widely scattered places as the other nine children of Catherine and Thomas moved off to make their own lives. Richard Thomas, his son Richard David and grandson Richard John, known as John, carried on the family connection with Derby until recently, and John still owns the farm including both Claremont and Florence Vale, but no Beswicks live there now although the home of Richard David and his wife Kath, my parents, is still used as a holiday house by members of the family. John, busy in government, until he retired in 1998, had his home at Scottsdale while a share farmer has occupied the new home he built on Claremont not long before the original home of Annie and Richard burned down. Allan who started farming on Claremont, went to work on his own at Branxholm shortly before his marriage to Bertha Collins, a descendent, incidently, of the first governor of Tasmania. Two of Allan's sons, Col and Doug, carried on their father's farm and added to it significantly. A newspaper article on their successful agricultural business is reproduced later in this chapter as one of the personal sketches to give a few glimpses of the most recent generations.
We are not following the later generations in detail at this stage, but to conclude this section we recall that Richard and Annie's eldest daughter Olive(7) married Jim Edwards who farmed at Telita near Derby, and lived in Derby in the later years of his active working life in the same house that had previously been the home of the Gandys, that is of her sister Ada and George and their children, the eldest of whom was Richard, Rhodes scholar of 1936, former scientist and senior British civil servant, and opera singer. The other two daughters of the original Claremont are remembered mainly as maiden aunts. A tribute to Ila is included here. Dorothy married Harry Russell late in life and her mark is on this history as one of the primary sources of the family tradition at the time when most of the work was being done.
THE SCATTERED CHILDREN OF FLORENCE VALE
By the time Thomas II died in 1905 his daughters had all married and moved away. The first was the beautiful young Catherine who in 1885 married Oscar Bottcher, so in the post card we took note of earlier her daughter Thora wrote to her aunt Ada in 1908 from Branxholm. Next, Blanche married Richard Williams in 1886; they lived not far away near where the Derby railway station was built a good many years later, and they were the parents of Doss Ranson who recalled her grandmother Catherine for me. Then other weddings followed through the nineties. At least three of them, Amy in 1890, Angelina 1899, Ada in 1900, had their weddings at the rambling old Florence Vale house. The ten children of Thomas Catherine who grew up, and whose births we have noted along the way as they marked the progress of the family from one point on the frontier of development to another, are listed again here. Their dates of birth and marriage are given as they appear in the family Bible.(8)
Richard Thomas b. 1.10.1862 m. Annie Sarah Dick, 9.4.1888
Alice Ada b. 25.5.1864 m. Thomas Weir, 4.12.1900
Blanche Helen b. 17.9.1865 m. Richard Edward Williams, 11.10.1886
Catherine Elizabeth Frances b. 11.3.1867 m. Oscar W. Bottcher, 4.12.1885
Amy Gertrude Sarah b. 12.4.1868 m. Leslie Dublesse Martin, 23.12.1890
Florence Alma b. 16.11.1869 m. Harry Dowsett, 2.11.1894
Thomas b. 23.7.1871, never married, d. W.A. 10.12.1913
Angelina Mathinna b. 3.8.1873 m. Thomas Bennett, 30.4.1899
Grace Miriam b. 18.7.1877 m. Charles Henry Fardon, August 1897
Maude Ethel b. 14.6.1881 m. Albert Coombes, 22.12.1904, W.A.
My father, Richard David, lived practically all his life on the farm. That was unusual. Earlier generations had moved around a good deal as have many who have been young in the second half of the twentieth century. One day in August 1991 my wife, Joan, and I spent a few delightful hours at the home of my cousin Richard Gandy and his wife Veronica in England, as we have on other occasions over the past thirty years. This time we met them together with Richard's sister Noeleen who was visiting for a few weeks from Hobart and two of our sons, Robert and Bruce, who had travelled to Britain independently from Melbourne. That is not strange today, but there has been a tradition of mobility among the majority of our people while a small part of the family maintained a more settled rural way of life. The people who were on the farm at Derby even in the middle years of this century and earlier would have been aware of family members in several states of Australia, and they would have continued to share in the lives of others who became permanent settlers in distant parts of the World.
When the young people were growing up and marrying at Derby in the 1880s and 90s they had several aunts and uncles and two families of cousins at Scottsdale, only 20 miles away. The Hardy children of Mary Ann Peck, were older and many had married earlier. Their Grandmother Mary (née Mackenzie) lived with Mary Ann and later Charlotte before she died in 1886 and would have been known to the Derby children quite well. (Their grandfather, the original Thomas, had died a few weeks after Thomas and young Richard arrived at Derby. I wonder how long it was before word reached them in the raw mining camp, of his being found dead sometime after he died alone at a distant place.) Their Uncle Sam too and his wife Ada were at Scottsdale, but moved away at about the same time as his mother died. The children of Thomas's sister Charlotte and Alex James were younger and as surviving correspondence testifies, they were well known. The McIvers were apparently in touch too from Melbourne. Distant cousins, the Kerrs and Emerys were known, if not remembered clearly by the next generation, as were the Bushby, Monds and Tyson descendants of the first Samuel. Catherine's father Henry Peever, who is remembered as working on the garden at Florence Vale, and at least one of his sons were at Derby and, Mrs Jordan, the widow of Richard Jordan after whom Richard Thomas was named, was also as a visitor to Florence Vale.
From Florence Vale married daughters and the second son went off in all directions, while the eldest son, Richard Thomas, remained at Derby. The Weirs went to Queensland and returned although one of their sons went North again later; some of the Martins settled in New South Wales; the Fardons, the Coombes and Thomas III were in Western Australia; and the Dowsetts lived in Melbourne. From the previous generation, most of the Newmans went to Victoria and Queensland, while the family at Derby still visited Tom Newman at the Don; the McIvers were in Melbourne as well as some of the James and Harris descendants. Later generations from all lines are scattered widely beyond the range of our ready comprehension, but from the `Claremont', Derby branch we were aware of some Edwards in New Zealand and Gandy descendants who have been living in England and South Africa for many years.
The point is to emphasise that this pioneering family clearing the Tasmanian bush in what must be regarded objectively as an isolated part of the world was by no means isolated themselves. They were very well aware of the rest of the world, and this awareness is apparent in the generations that followed. It is significant even that Richard and Ann gave their son Allan the second name of McKinley, after the President of the United States who was assassinated. We hear of how children and grandchildren were fascinated by books and talk of the wider world, as seen for example in the experience of Richard Gandy as he tells of it in the final chapter. How the children of Florence Vale moved off to different parts is told now largely from the memory of Dorothy Russell.(9)
The eldest daughter of Thomas and Catherine, Ada, or Alice Ada, was the last except the youngest, Maud, to marry. Her life was a tragedy. She married Tom Weir who had been a policeman in Dublin before coming to Australia. They were engaged for 18 years while he was mining near Derby. She was 36 when married in December 1900. They had a fine house built in Derby. It was the Anglican Rectory in recent years. After their marriage Tom lived a gentleman's life until the money ran out, then went to Queensland hoping to get work as a mine manager. They must have stayed there for 7 or 8 years when he died of "a heat stroke". Ada's sister Flo went to Queensland and brought Ada and her boys back to Melbourne. Then they returned to Tasmania and lived for a short time at Branxholm Estate in the `cottage'. The Bottchers were there in those days. Ada died soon - a broken woman. The Bottchers took in Bill Weir until he went to Melbourne as a young man. The Williams had Joe: he went to school at Derby and got a job in the mine office and then Maud came home and took him to W.A. where he worked for her. She wouldn't let him join a union and he couldn't work where he wanted to. He eventually went to Sydney where he was working in a hotel when he fell down a stairwell and died. Ada's other son Tom who, as they would say today, was intellectually handicapped, was looked after by Annie and later by Richard David and Kath. He delivered milk from the farm around the town of Derby and did odd jobs on the farm. Ruth Youd (granddaughter of Blanche) has written a piece in memory of Tom which is included later in this chapter.
Blanche and Richard Williams remained quite close to the Beswicks at `Brookside', near Derby. Richard had a long association with the mine which has been mentioned already. Their children were known as `aunts' and `uncles' to the Beswick children of the next generation. That was especially so of Doss and Kate (a third Catherine, and there were others too) who married two brothers Norm and Frank Ranson who worked neighbouring farms, so they moved only a few hundred yards. Their brother Tom Williams farmed land that bordered Claremont. There were others. One of them, Len, was killed in the First World War, and there is quite and interesting story to tell about that and his brothers (to be written later). There are details of the descendants of several Williams lines in the family tree which includes two branches of the Carins family who also farmed nearby.
Kate (Catherine II) married Oscar Bottcher from Sweden whose interesting family background has been described by their eldest daughter Thora Burton.(10) When Oscar, went home after ten years roaming the world as a teenager and young man and estranged from his family, he was offered a share again in the family estate if he would not marry `that foreign girl'. They lived for a time at Mathinna and had a hotel there. Later they had the Branxholm Hotel before moving to Branxholm Estate. It was there that Oscar died. Kate had a holding with her son Carl at New River before his marriage to Rose Dwyer, after which they lived near Derby along the road from `Brookside'. Carl Bottcher's family lived at Scottsdale in the 1940s. Thora's descendants include children of the Hey family and the Hoopers. Then from Kit (another Catherine) there are Williamsons as well. There are Bottchers from Carl, the Cleary, Haslock and Cooper families, etc., as shown at least in part in the tree of descendants.
Amy married a teacher 12 years older than herself, Leslie Dublesse Martin. He was the son of John Saffery Martin and Ann Murray and was born at Evandale 30.11.1856. He was a teacher in numerous country towns. After marriage they were at Fingal, and also lived at Branxholm, Alberton, Tunbridge, Mangana, Bothwell, Hagley and Northdown (near Latrobe). They retired in Launceston, where they lived at 2 Cato Street, which remained home to their unmarried daughters Kath and Frances. Their home was a meeting place for many of the Beswick clan. Lindsay Douglas was the only one to marry. He went to the mainland in the depression years to an unknown place remembered as `The Rock'. After marrying Violet May (Dolly) Hawkins they moved to Temora N.S.W. where he remained until 1970. His descendents include the Giles family. On retiring he returned to live with his sister Kath whose health was failing and was unable to live on her own. Then in 1979 they both went back to Temora where they remained until the deaths of Lindsay Douglas in 1988 and Kath (Sylvia Kathleen) in 1989. Amy and Leslie's eldest son Eric Stanley was wounded at Golygan Wood in France and died in Kent, England, in 1917. Amy died in Launceston in 1934 and Leslie in 1932.(11)
Florence worked as a dressmaker in Launceston for a few years during which time she met Harry Dowsett. After their marriage they had a shop at Mathinna. From there they moved to Melbourne where they had a very successful business at Middle Park with a drapery-clothing shop. None of their four children married. Frank was an excellent pianist, and also played the ukelele. Eileen and Daisy, who lived in Melbourne, are remembered as another pair of maiden ladies. Like Frances and Kath Martin and Ila and Dorothy Beswick (who did eventually marry late in life) they were sisters who lived together and whose home was another meeting point. I have mentioned two of their cousins who were killed in the First World War. It has often been said they were amongst the women of their age group who did not find husbands because of the terrible losses of that war.
Thomas III went to W.A. during a gold rush with another man from Derby. He first worked at Coolgardie de-salinating water then had a hotel at Northam with Maggie Young. The move to the west is given in more detail below. Thomas never married. He had an interest in horses and is remembered as having a champion racer and a champion jumper, Donnybrook, whose photo hung in the hall of the old `Claremont' house at Derby. Thomas died in 1913. The story I was told was that it was following an accident with a horse, but in more recent times we have discovered that like his father he fell down the stairs of a hotel.
Angie married Thomas Bennett whose sister was Mrs. Scott of Branxholm Estate. After marriage they lived for a while on the West Coast, where he may have been a butcher. After that they had a farm at Penguin, then he worked for the council at Westbury. Their son Tom worked in a bank probably at Queenstown as a young man, and his son John, a lawyer, was much later in the State Parliament for a time and a minister in the Gray Government as were second cousins John Cleary and John Beswick. There are Green descendants of Tom's sister Connie, as shown in the tree.
Grace married Charles Fardon, an Englishman, who had been a bank manager at Moorina. We are told that he thought the salary was not enough for a married man and built the shop we knew as Gormley's at Derby. He was the first warden of Ringarooma Municipality. The three children, Phyllis, Roland and Joe were born there. He took a trip to England to study knitting mills, came back to Launceston and set up a mill there. He got the flu followed by pneumonia caused by a chill and died when Grace was only 31. She ran a shop in Launceston for a while after his death and was then persuaded by her brother Tom to go to W.A. After working for Tom, she began her own successful business by running boarding houses in Perth and eventually, the Federal Hotel in Fremantle which her son Joe ran for her later. (See the account below of the Beswicks in Western Australia for more details of this part of the story as told by her grandson John Warry.) While in W.A. she married Rupert Thompson and went to Melbourne where her husband had a hotel at Flemington. The rumour is that she was told by her sister Flo that she should be with her husband. She had a block of flats built in South Yarra-Toorak, which she sold and then built another in Orrong Rd., South Yarra. By this time she was of course quite well off, and I can remember her generosity. After Rupert Thompson died, she was persuaded by the family to go back to W.A. where she bought a house in Nedlands and died aged 87. Among others there are Fardon descendants through Joe (Joseph Bell) and his son Ralph, and Warry descendants of Phyllis.
Maud did some teaching at the Derby School (as an untrained pupil-teacher, it seems) and then went to W.A. with brother Tom. She married Albert Coombes and ran hotels around Perth.(12) See John Warry's piece for more. Her only child Connie married Norman Fletcher who was knighted for service to the beef industry. Like `Auntie Grace', our `Auntie Maud' was quite helpful and provided financial assistance for special family projects such as helping to meet the cost of setting up a room for Tom Weir at the second Claremont house at Derby.
One of the significant family links with Western Australia was Maggie Young. She was the business partner of Thomas Beswick III in his hotel at Northam in Western Australia, and related activities which included horse racing, but she was there before the others. She was member of the Kerr family, descendent from Ann Clarke. When Samuel Beswick II (Thomas III's uncle) died, Maggie took his widow Ada Beswick (née Kerr) from Warrnambool, Victoria, to live in W.A.(13) There is a story about her rescuing another relative in the Kerr branch, this time from a cruel husband.(14) It was suggested that the poor woman's husband did not believe that a child was his son and was ill treating his wife. Maggie, Ada's sister, `came from W.A. and horsewhipped her brother-in-law - quite believable', says June Parrott, `as she was larger than life, had been, it is said, a barmaid on the gold fields and was at that time owner of at least one hotel, the Shamrock, in Northam, Western Australia - and took her sister and nephew back to Western Australia'.
John Warry tells of the Western Australian Beswicks in an essay which follows.
BESWICKS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
by John Warry, July 1988
Thomas Beswick III was the first to come to W.A., some time in the 1890's. He was preceded by Maggie Young a distant cousin who was a great-granddaughter of Ann Clark and not a descendant of Thomas I. When Samuel Beswick II (Thomas III uncle) died in Victoria, Maggie took his widow, Ada Beswick (nee Kerr) to live in W.A. Thomas III was however the first Beswick descendant in W.A.
The goldrush was probably the reason for his move west. He might have prospected or worked in the mining industry but I recall my grandmother saying she thought he operated a water condenser in Kalgoorlie. There was very little fresh water and all underground water was saline.
My grandmother also told me Thomas met up with Maggie Young when she was working as a barmaid at the time in the Palace Hotel, Kalgoorlie. It was a very flash hotel and all the barmaids wore evening dresses. He must have prospered for he later operated the Cuballing Hotel in the early 1900's. Later in partnership with Maggie Young he operated the Shamrock and the Transcontinental Hotels in Northam up to the time of his death in December 1913. Thomas is supposed to have died after a fall from his horse but my grandmother told me he fell down the stairs of the hotel.
My mother Phyllis was seven years old when her father Charles Fardon died and as she was born in 1900, I believe my grandmother Grace Miriam (nee Beswick) came to W.A. between 1908 and 1910. This was possibly at Thomas' behest, but I recall her telling me she was also in contact with her aunt Ada who may have been an influence as no doubt was her sister Maud Ethel (nee Beswick) who was already in W.A.
Prior to coming to W.A. she (Grace) operated a baby clothing shop in Moonee Ponds (Victoria) for a short period.
My grandmother and Aunt Maud were at the Cuballing Hotel together working with or for Thomas. She told me they were known as the "Merry Widows". Evidently the business was not able to support them all as Thomas moved to Northam to the Shamrock Hotel with Maggie Young.
Aunt Maud preceded Grace in coming West as she married Albert Coombes in 1904, a daughter Connie was born about 1907. The marriage did not last long as my grandmother had Connie stay with her whilst Maud was away working. I'm not sure what came first but I think it was Peake Hill, a goldmining town in the Murchison district where Maud worked as a barmaid followed by the Club Hotel Brookton. Evidently the hotel was owned by a Mr. Mauritzen who was impressed by Maud as she became manageress of the Club Hotel and I have a confirmed date that she was there in 1912.
Mr. Mauritzen (of whom my grandmother spoke well) evidently financed Maud into her own hotel, the old Cremorne. She later operated the Metropole. Whilst at the Metropole Hotel about 1925 Maud decided to give one of her sisters children a better start in life. He was Joe Weir(15) the son of Alice and Tom Weir. Alice [Ada] was evidently widowed and Maud offered practical assistance and the young man came to live with her - I have a photograph of Connie and Joe. Evidently he proved to be a difficult young man perhaps "spoilt" by Maud and caused her some considerable anxiety which culminated when he fell down a city building lift shaft and was killed. Maud died around 1957 and before that she had the Royal Hotel, Perth (leasehold) Leederville Hotel (leasehold) Goomalling Hotel (freehold) and the Claremont Hotel (half share freehold but her business). I had numerous holidays at the Goomalling Hotel in the 30's and 40's and was very fond of Aunt Maud, she was at our wedding in 1953. Her daughter, Connie sold the hotels on her mothers death. Before her marriage to Norman Fletcher she assisted Maud in the Hotel Royal. After Connie's marriage Maud financed Connie and Norman onto a farm at Keysbrook, where they established a successful Hereford Cattle Stud. They had one son only, Alan. Norman Fletcher, although assisted by Maud's money nevertheless worked very hard and became a successful farmer and businessman. He was later knighted but as the family agree for little reason other than he was the President of the Royal Agriculture Society. The government of the day was relatively generous with knighthoods.
Connie was the first Beswick born in W.A. about 1907 and I was the second 1929.
Unfortunately I do not have confirmed dates but I believe my grandmother whom I shall refer to as "Nan", my name for her, was only at Cuballing for about 2 years. Thomas must have sold the business because she came to Perth and opened a good class boarding house in Haveloch Street, West Perth, possibly only for another 2 or 3 years for she later operated the Manly Hostel in Cottesloe and was there during the war years. She worked very hard and made a little money and from there assisted by the same Mr. Mauritzen took on the Windsor Hotel in South Perth in the early 1920's. My father Clarry Warry insurance company employee was transferred to W.A. from Victoria 1921. He lived in a boarding house in South Perth and married my mother Phyllis Grace Fardon on 19/2/25 and at that time Nan had the Windsor Hotel. Whilst at the Windsor Nan married Rupert Thompson, a draper formally of Northam and Newcastle N.S.W. "Uncle" Rupert was a gentleman and I have fond memories of him. He then worked with Nan in the hotel and they used to go to the horse races together. Nan told me the Windsor Hotel was not the best business - too many civil servants who wanted credit till pay day. Following Mr. Mauritzen's advice, sold the Windsor and purchased the leasehold of the Federal Hotel, Fremantle in the late 20's.
The Federal proved to be a steady business enabling Nan to weather the Great Depression. Joe and Roland worked there for a little more than "keep" to get through the difficult period. She later helped all her three children considerably to get them established. In the mid 30's Nan and Rupert left Joe to run the Federal and operated the Racecourse Hotel, Flemington. I know she was there in 1936 because Mother and I stayed there on our way to Derby, Tasmania, (where I had my seventh birthday) and I recall Uncle Richard Williams staying there for a few days whilst in Melbourne. They did not keep the Racecourse Hotel for very long; just prewar she build a block of 4 flats in Williams Road which she soon sold and built another block of 4 at 29 Orrong Road Armadale which she called Laredef - Federal backwards. Nan moved back to W.A. approx. 1954 after our wedding in `53. She had a house in Canning Highway Mellville for a short time till moving to Vincent Street, Nedlands, where she lived till her death on 9-11-1965.
I had the greatest admiration and happy memories of Nan. She took me and my cousin Ralph Fardon to Melbourne for a holiday when I was about 18 and me again when I was 20. We went to Tasmania and stayed with Norman and Doss Ranson where I met many of the family. The family is well represented in W.A. Aunt Lily Fardon is our senior, just turned 80 and very bright and I am the oldest (59) of the blood line, my count subject to losses and additions is 20 decendants from Grace and 3 from Maud living in W.A.(16)
SOME PERSONAL SKETCHES
To conclude this account here are some selected descriptions by different authors of certain aspects of the lives of a few individuals illustrating some of the variety seen in the later generations from Derby.
A Tribute to Ila May Beswick (21-11-1898 to 20-8-1981)
by R. John Beswick, New Town Uniting Church, 24-8-1981
Ila May Beswick, known to many of us here as Auntie Ila, was a person to whom one can apply with absolute conviction and rich meaning that text which is so often read on occasions such as this, "whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die".
For although she is no longer physically alive, we who have been privileged to know her can be in no doubt that her spirit is still very much alive. Hers was a life of strong belief, unshakeable faith and firm convictions; of devotion and self-giving service to her Church, her fellow-human beings and her extended family. Such a life cannot be brought to an end by the expiry of a physical body, and as we have known Auntie Ila in the twilight of her life it has been abundantly clear that it was not her frail body but her indomitable spirit that kept her alive. That same spirit is surely with us today, and will just as surely go with each of us for ever.
But let me go back and briefly review that earthly life whose passing we mark today.
Born at Derby in its days as a raw tin-mining town just before the end of the last century, Auntie Ila was brought up, educated and lived there for just over 50 years of her life.
While she was still quite a young child her parents took up land and established a home at the top of a steep hill overlooking Derby. An extensive garden was developed around the home and a farm gradually cleared amongst the heavy timber. Our grandfather was a pioneer of the tin-mining industry and continued to work on the mine during those early years, but it was not very long before his health deteriorated to the point where he could not work.
The making of a living and development of the farm was then a true family effort to which Auntie Ila and her mother and brothers and sisters applied themselves with great diligence. But they were not content to just live for themselves and to themselves, as they may well have felt justified in doing when times were hard.
Auntie Ila, from an early age, was a tireless and totally committed member and worker of the Methodist Church to which the family belonged. At about 15 years of age she became a Sunday School teacher and for 35 to 36 years this work in the Sunday School was a most important part of her life. For at least ten years she was superintendent, but throughout the whole period she gave herself unsparingly to weekly Sunday School classes, while at the same time doing all she could for the Church in other ways.
She was responsible for starting up the Ladies Guild, and was its mainstay for several years. Whatever she did was done with tremendous enthusiasm and total commitment. She was also one of the original members of the Derby Branch of C.W.A. and held office as treasurer for some years.
Meanwhile, at home on the farm she was helping with the milking in the dairy, in the days of hand milking and also after the first machines were acquired, as well as doing household and garden work. This was a household which almost continuously accommodated and cared for people who were not members of the immediate family, so there was always much to do. In Auntie Ila's case all this work was done in spite of physical frailty rather than with the ease of physical strength.
But perhaps the characteristic for which we will remember her most is her unbounded interest and great devotion to her nieces and nephews and all their children. Having been brought up in a home where the extended family was a very real entity, having unfortunately missed out on the joys of marriage and children of her own, and having a great love of children, she virtually adopted all her nieces and nephews. As they grew up, married and had families of their own she kept in touch with them all and maintained a keen interest in their growth and development. She was proud of their achievements and shared deeply in their progress through life.
The Gandys and the Edwardes, the Allan Beswicks and the Dick Beswicks were all dearly loved to her, and she was dearly loved to them.
Even towards the close of her days one could learn of the doings of practically any member of this large family simply by going to see Auntie Ila. In fact she showed an extraordinary amount of interest in all people, not just her own relatives. When she and Auntie Dorrie moved to Hobart after the death of their mother she made new friends and became a regular worshipper and supporter of this New Town church. She adopted a new family, including the wider family of this church, while continuing to maintain her existing links.
As her health deteriorated she suffered a great deal of physical discomfort, but was always ready to greet people with a cheerful attitude. She did not dwell unduly on her discomfort, but upheld the positive approach of gratitude for the blessings which she enjoyed. Her mind never lost its clarity, and her spirit never lost its strength.
Because she was such a practical and positive person, because she used her gifts to the glory of God and in the service of humanity we give thanks for her life and can count ourselves fortunate to have been a part of it; for indeed she made us all a part of her life.
Col and Doug Beswick's farm at Branxholm
`Cattle property runs to full capacity' - "Tasmanian Country" 25-7-1986
The heavy chocolate soil at Branxholm is enough to make any Tasmanian farmer envious of those fortunate enough to be living off it. But this day and age of farming requires even the most fertile properties to be run to their maximum capacity.
Brothers, Colin and Doug. Beswick, are two farmers running an efficient operation at Branxholm.
Between them, and two farm hands, they operate a 410 cow dairy herd on their 900 hectare property, "Sunnyside".
The long rectangular-shaped property has a herringbone dairy shed at each end, and the middle of the property is used for the dry cows.
As well, the brothers run 100 Angus cattle, and crossbreds of Friesian and Angus, with the total cattle herd ranging between 950 and 1,250 each year. They breed their own Angus bulls which are used over the Friesian heifers to ensure ease of calving, and according to Doug. Beswick, the Friesian Angus crosses sell well in the market.
About 160 calves are bucket-reared each year. The calves are fed on whole milk for eight weeks, then put on to a grain and hay diet. This year, 450 Friesians will be calving, starting next month.
The Beswicks attribute much of their success to two large irrigation systems, each operating on a 60hp motor. The first was installed five years ago, at a cost of $60,000 each.
The systems pump water from the Ringarooma River and Legerwood Creek, and irrigate a total of 240 acres from mid-November to the Autumn break, usually occurring around March.
The irrigating system works around the clock with watering for 23 hours and shifting pipes for one hour, and waters the dairy pastures on a 12-day cycle. If the watering falls behind, some of the area is excluded.
According to Doug. Beswick it is better to water a smaller area properly than a large area insufficiently. The system provides a plentiful feed supply all year round, but hay is fed during winter.
About 300 acres of hay are cut each year, and while silage is not yet being made, Mr. Beswick says that it probably will be in the future.
As well, 70 acres of turnips and 80 acres of rape have been sown this year for extra feed. Rape is sometimes used as a cover crop for new pastures.
About 150 acres is cultivated to pasture annually, but Mr. Beswick says they are behind in the programme. "We try to keep up with the pastures. Although behind, we are trying to keep full capacity," he said. All grazing areas get 3cwt per acre (376kg/ha) of standard fertiliser, and a mixture is applied to the irrigated areas.
The dairy cattle are strip-grazed and the older fences are gradually being replaced by electric fences all over the property. Mr. Beswick has no plans to strip-graze the beef cattle. He says there is currently not enough labour on the property to start such an operation.
Pastures of English cocksfoot and Wild White clover, as well as Tamar and other ryegrasses are grown.
After an eight-week spell, the dairy herd begins calving at the beginning of August.
The dairy operation is carried out on 550 acres, and the balance of the cleared parts of the property supports the beef cattle and hay cutting operations.
There are 500 acres still covered in bush, and a clearing programme is being carried out that will be finished by next Autumn. Mr. Beswick says the area will be put straight down to pasture, and he aims to have it sown by mid-March.
The steers are turned off at two or three years of age, depending on how well they do. According to Mr. Beswick, the Friesian animals usually take longer to reach prime selling condition.
When the Beswick brothers first took over the property about 25 years ago, they did a lot of cropping to improve the pastures. About 70 acres of peas were grown each year, and pasture was sown down after the pea crops. But since then, the operation has changed to what it is today, predominantly dairy and beef, and it is unlikely that it will go back to cropping.
by Ruth Youd
We couldn't have a Beswick reunion without mention of a descendant of Thomas Beswick II - namely Thomas Henry Weir. Tom was the first born son of Ada (the eldest daughter of Thomas and Catherine Beswick) and Thomas Weir. Ada was engaged to Thomas Weir at l8 and married at 36. A year later Tom arrived followed by two other sons - Billy and Joe. Dr. von See was the doctor who delivered Tom and my mother told me how he was concerned for him from the time of his birth.
There followed numerous stories of his early childhood one of which was how he put a live hen in the oven to cook for dinner. Poor chicken when it was discovered was beyond the fowl house and also the dinner table.
Hard times followed and the family moved to Queensland where I think their father died, who Tom always assured us was "6'2" out boot or shoe". Ada and the boys came back to Tasmania and she died when Tom was 14 leaving 3 orphaned boys. In those days there were no pensions or social welfare. Tom was taken into the home of his mother's brother Dick and his wife Annie, where he lived until after Auntie Annie's death, many years later.
During this time he delivered milk to Derby walking down a goat track to the town - handling the money from his customers. At this time he is said to have become annoyed and frustrated over some small detail and he said "Damn Damn". Auntie Annie who was a very strict Methodist said "Oh dear me Tom. Dear me." Tom replied "Yes, Auntie Annie I said Damn, but I'll say buggar next". During these years he came to our home every Sunday alternating for lunch between Auntie Doss, Auntie Betty and us. He always boasted to us of what Beswicks had and we believe went home and in turn boasted of what Ransons had.
After Ila and Dorothy moved to Hobart, Tom lived with Uncle Dick and Auntie Kath. About this time Auntie Kath was expecting Rosemerry after a gap of 14 years. Luckily Tom was very innocent and when we enquired how Kath was he said "Oh she's good - she's in good nick."
We could go on and on with lots of funny stories - how my brothers and Ron hypnotised him and then couldn't wake him up.
Although Tom was mentally handicapped he was indeed fortunate in many ways. Firstly I pay tribute to Auntie Annie who took him into her home at such an early age and secondly to Uncle Dick and Auntie Kath who cared for him lovingly in later years. Also Tom had a wide family circle who were all very fond of him. His death notice said it all when it read - `Loved by his many cousins'.
A Glimpse of the Hobart political scene
In November 1985 I had been looking forward to the next annual conference of a research association because it was to be held in Hobart. My plan was to take a week or so of annual leave following the conference to visit family and friends and to explore family history in the Tasmanian Archives. At that time I was working in the Faculty of Education at the Univeristy of Melbourne as Professor and Director of a research centre.(17) It just so happened that my brother John, a member of the Tasmanian Government, had been transferred from Primary Industry to become Minister for Education, and so it was his privilege to open the Australian Association for Research in Education conference. The chairman of the local organizing committee, when introducing the Minister, made a point of observing that there were two Beswicks on the program, and that while it is not true that all people in Tasmania are related, if members tried they might be able to work out the relationship between these two. After he had spoken there was not any doubt, although of course one would not expect the politician and the professor to have exactly the same things to say.
Afterwards, someone said to me, `You're one of those! I thought it was all ability and hard work!' `Well', I replied, `Someday, I must tell you my story', for it seemed to me that, while we must have inherited something of value, we have come from an ordinary Tasmanian family with no advantages of influence through wealth and power in previous generations. My London cousin, Richard, challenged this claim of `ordinariness' later when I circulated the progress report `Tasmanian Roots', and I will comment on that in closing. Sceptics might in any case have found it difficult to accept, for a few days later, I might have been observed having dinner in the Parliamentary dining room with John and another member of the Government, the Minister for Health, John Cleary, who was also a relative, and then later in the Speaker's Gallery in company with the Director-General of Education observing question time in the House presided over by yet another distant cousin, Max Bushby, the Speaker, who is a descendant of Samuel Beswick I.(18)
At the next election John Cleary was defeated, but another second cousin descendant of the Florence Vale family, John Bennett, was elected. John Cleary returned to Parliament again soon afterwards and John Bennett has since retired after serving as Attorney General of Tasmania. After a few years in opposition their party was returned to power at the election of February 1992, and at the time of the family re-union in 1992 John Beswick has just sworn in as Deputy Premier of Tasmania, having elected been recently Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.
The point on which I was challenged was that while it is true that there was no advantage gained by inheriting wealth and power from previous generations, this family is as Richard put it `archetypical of those who benefited from the emancipist policy favoured by Governor Macquarie and from the best aspects of the old Assignment System which gave convicts a better chance than they might have had in England', there is nothing ordinary about the people whose lives we have been researching. `When I think of Thomas and Catherine and their great family I am still amazed', said Richard, `In their time and circumstances they were a phenomenon not ordinary at all but extraordinary.' I have tried to show the transformation of life in Tasmania by such as these: from the hell hole of Van Deimen's Land to an open generous and knowledgeable civil society of the twentieth century. Richard knew many of their children well. `They were lovely people, proud in an admirable way, ...., and above all they had a wonderful warmth of affection, outgoing and spontaneous, for each other and for each other's families to the last generation they lived to see. We all know how well this warmth of family feeling was carried on in the next generation and that it survives in our own.' So be it.
1. According to my father Richard David Beswick.
2. According the Dorothy Russell.
3. The Cyclopedia of Tasmania Vol.1. Latest information dates from 1899. Copy belonging to `Richard Thomas Beswick, Derby, Tasmania.' p.539 [photo on p.617 of R.T.B.] [p.508: The mines at present working the Cascade Lead are the Krushka Brothers, New Brothers Home No.1., and Briseis on the south side of the Ringarooma, and the Brothers Home Extended on the North.]
4. It is clearly not the original version. Some lines are missing, and some are in a different hand. It had apparently been copied several times by hand and included what appears to have been copying errors which have been corrected. As reproduced here, the spelling and punctuation result from our editing. Some of what was missing was known to family members who remembered hearing it from the time when David Dick, who died 21 February 1921, was still alive.
5. John Beswick has a copy of this and other documents from the Methodist Church, which became the Uniting Church in 1977 and was closed at the time of its centenary celebrations in 1987. A large proportion of the congregation at the final service were Beswick family members, who had come back to Derby for the occasion. John Beswick, lay preacher and local representative in the State Parliament led the afternoon session of the celebrations in the Town Hall, and I, David, the only ordained minister to have come from the parish, gave the final blessing.
6. From Mrs. Philip Nankin (nee Eraine Gandy, daughter of George and Ada nee Beswick) born 1921 at Derby. `After 45 years away from my beloved Tasmania and our closely knit family; and blessed with a good memory; I would like to recall briefly some of the magical precious memories of these outstanding ladies of our large family and pay tribute to them.'
`We, THE GANDYS, were blessed to be surrounded by love from our dear Mum, Grandma, great-aunts like Blanche, Ila and Dorrie who helped to shape our very characters and lives - dear Aunties Ol, Birdie and Kath: and then these other "Aunties" - Mum's cousins, Doss and Katie, the Martins and Bennetts in Launceston, the Bottcher family - always stay close to me; and finally those shadowy rather mysterious "Grand dames" who lived in Melbourne and Perth.'
`After we lived in Hobart our arrival at Derby for the Christmas holidays was a great event. Those were halcyon days - wonderful visits all round and always such excitement - a great welcome.'
`I can still smell the heady scent of catmint and hear the bees in Auntie Doss' garden and taste the homemade ginger beer.'
7. The eldest who survived infancy. The first, Melita, died at the age of 14 months.
8. Some of the dates given in the Bible do not agree with the official registrations. It is hard to know which is right, but Dorothy Russell remembers birthdays being celebrated on the dates in the Bible rather than those in the registers. Kate James has noted the following registrations:
Catherine, dau. Thomas and Catherine, born 25/3/1867 Adelphi, not 11/3/1867.
Amy Gertrude, dau. Thomas and Catherine, born 2/4/1868 not 12/4/1868.
Florence Alma, dau. Thomas and Catherine, born 14/12/1869 at Launceston, not 16/11/1869 at Scottsdale.
Thomas, son of Thomas and Catherine, born 25/7/1871 not 23/7/1871.
Angelina, dau. of Thomas and Catherine, born 20/8/1873 not 3/8/1873.
We might have date of registration rather than date of birth in some cases and there appear to have been some transcription errors. The births in isolated country districts might not have been reported until some days or weeks later, and sometimes by a person such as a friend of the family who might not have known the details with certainty. On the other hand the birth entries in the family Bible were made a long time after the events, and in at least one instance, the date of the marriage of Thomas and Catherine, there appears to have been a deliberate error, apparently backdating to bring the conception of the first child to a time within the marriage but still getting the arithmetic wrong!
9. As recorded by Elaine Dobie, with some additional material from D. Hooper's recorded interview with Thora Burton (nee Bottcher), and some notes from Marie Giles (nee Martin).
10. In a tape recording by D. Hooper and interviews by Richard Gandy and others.
11. Sylvia Kathleen (Kath) born Branxholm 1.8.1895, taught and then nursed for many years. She died at Temora 24.8.1989. Marie Giles says she also wrote the most wonderful letters.
Frances Gertrude (Biddy) born at Alberton 13.12.1900, worked at the Commercial Union 73 St. Johns St. Launceston for 28 years. Died as the result of a stroke at Temora 3.9.1967.
12. It appears that Albert was an alcoholic and finished up living apart from her while she ran the business, but we do know very much about it.
13. Informant, Dorothy Russell
14. From June Parrott, whose mother was Ada Eveline Brittain who married Frederick Parrott. June told me that Maggie Young was the godmother, and great aunt who had "rescued" June's grandmother (Ada Elizabeth Brittain née Kerr) from a cruel husband and taken her also to W.A. June's grandmother had died not long afterwards in 1903.
June wrote that when her mother died in 1979 they received a letter from a William Plummer Brittain who said he was her mother's youngest brother. Earlier, as a child she and her sister had seen a photograph of a soldier they were told was their Uncle Bill, but then her mother told them afterwards that they had no Uncle Bill. It appeared from family hearsay that her grandmother Ada Elizabeth Kerr married Henry Brittain and they had three children, Eva, Harry and Ralph, aged 12, 10 and 5, and when William was born it was suggested that her grandfather did not believe William was his son and was ill treating his wife. Maggie, Ada's sister, 'came from W.A. and horsewhipped her brother-in-law - quite believable', says June, 'as she was larger than life, had been, it is said, a barmaid on the gold fields and was at that time owner of at least one hotel, the Shamrock, in Northam, Western Australia - and took her sister and nephew back to Western Australia'. After his mother died 'Uncle Bill was farmed out to "the lady who did the washing at the hotel - called Euphemia Plummer" ... they may have been relations'.
Maggie was remembered less well in the Beswick family at Derby, Tasmania, for when Thomas III died, 10 December 1913, in W.A. as a result of an accident, there was trouble with his will. The names of Thomas' two sisters in WA (Grace Fardon and Maud Coombs) had been crossed out and replaced by the name of Margaret Young, and the executors refused to act. This involved shares in the Florence Vale property the ownership of which was complicated by the fact that Thomas II had died in 1905 without signing his will. Dorothy Russell told me that in 1928, her Auntie Grace wrote to my Grandma, Annie Beswick, of a settlement she had negotiated with Maggie Young, 'a tough customer', and so Thomas III's will was finalized 15 years after he died.
[For the record I might add, in regard to Thomas III and his legacy, that my father told me that when he was a young man some years after his father had died he opened a letter addressed to Mr Richard Beswick (the name he shared with his father), which was apparently intended for his father, from a man calling himself Beswick who claimed to be an illegitimate son of Thomas in WA. The family rejected it as a "begging letter", and nothing further was heard from the man. DB.]
15. John wrote `Bill Weir' at this point but we have good evidence from the memory of family members and photographs that it was Joe.
16. John Warry concludes with the reservation, `These notes are from memory, there may be variances but I believe it is a reasonable resume of the Beswicks in W.A.'
17. I have since retired from the University and returned to my previous work full time as a minister in the Uniting Church, and a decade later then retired again.
18. We might add that John Beswick was first elected immediately after Bill Beattie retired leaving him in position to pick up the votes Beattie normally attracted in the Scottsdale area. Bill Beattie's name appears in the tree in the Hardy line.
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