TroveTuesday – Frederick Arthur Roberts, Driver

Where or when my grandfather, Frederick Arthur Roberts, learned to drive is a mystery to me, but drive he did, both during and after World War 1. The first record I can find is from 12th February 1916 when he enlisted in the AIF as a Motor Driver.

Perhaps he was the driver for bread deliveries or supplies when his father moved the family from their 10-acre selections on the “Olinda hill” in 1910 and built a bakery in Monbulk? This seems very unlikely to me on two grounds: affordability and the likely state of the roads in Monbulk at the time!

Fred served as a driver in France in the 3rd Australian Ammunition Sub-Park till early in 1918 when he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Divisional Mechanical Transport Company. His Service Record gives few personal details of his experiences during the war: two weeks leave in February 1918 and the “crime” of driving a lorry at excessive speed in June of that year – deprived of 3 day’s pay!

Drivers were obviously needed to move people and supplies for some time after the War was over, so his return was delayed till the end of 1919, six months after his anxious mother had written asking whether the F. A. Roberts returning home at that time was her son. It obviously wasn’t!

After returning to Australia, Fred presumably spent some time with his family. I have heard that he also spent some time in Queensland, cutting sugar cane. For how long, I have no idea. Perhaps it was to earn sufficient money to buy a car? In any case, it appears that he was back in Monbulk in possession of a brand new car during October 1922, when The Argus reported on this mishap:

Report of Fred Roberts' car accident in 1922
COUNTRY NEWS. (1922, October 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 25. Retrieved December 20, 2015, from
"MONBULK - Mr. F. Roberts, of Monbulk, was driving a new motor car from Monbulk to Ferntree Gully across Zercho's bridge at Upwey on Wednesday night when the car struck the side rails of the bridge. But that the rails are strong and withstood the shock of the impact, the car must have fallen over the embankment into the gully below. The front of the car was considerably damaged. Mr Roberts escaped injury."

I have not been able to find any reference to Zercho’s bridge but, from the description in the article, assume it must have been the one pictured below where the old Main Road crossed the railway line before turning left and down the hill towards Ferntree Gully. The present Burwood Highway bypasses Upwey township on the far side of the railway line, the section going down towards Ferntree Gully often being referred to as the “mad mile”.

This might be Zercho's bridge where Fred Roberts had a car accident in 1922
THE BRIDGE LOOKING EAST, UPWEY, VIC.; Rose Stereograph Co; c1920-1954

Car accidents are a great shock and bother today, but at least, most of the expense of repairs is covered by our insurance. I have no idea if there was such a thing as car insurance in 1922. Having what must have been a very expensive car at the time being damaged would have been a great disappointment. The added expense of repairs would have been quite a burden I suspect.

Next post: Fred Roberts – Car for Hire



Trove Tuesday: How Old is Elderly?


My great great grandfather Benjamin Alfred Smart LATTER (1834-1903) was mentioned in newspapers many times. This is the only time that I have seen him called “elderly”. The fact that he was lifting a wagon out of the mud when injured makes this description rather surprising.

No title. (1888, August 21). The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), p. 2. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from
No title. (1888, August 21). The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924), p. 2. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from

52 Ancestors #3 Mary Davey

Mary Davey (c1826 -1904), my greatMary to Me great grandmother, was the third of my direct ancestors to migrate to Australia. This makes her the third of my ‘boat people’.

Mary was one of 235 “assisted” immigrants on the barque “Elizabeth” which sailed from Plymouth on 11th April 1849 and arrived in Port Phillip on the 23rd July 1849.

The ‘Nominal List’ of the passengers on the “Elizabeth” listed her as Mary Davey; a nursemaid aged 23, from Truro, Cornwall. Her religious denomination was Independent, and she could both read and write. Continue reading “52 Ancestors #3 Mary Davey”

Trove Tuesday: Who was the Mrs. Ferris who lost £300?

Most searches for family information on Trove have at least one unexpected and intriguing result. Sometimes it brings up previously unknown (to this generation, at least!) information about a family member. Other interesting side-paths result from the combination of our search parameters and the limitations of the OCR software in dealing with unclear images of old newspapers.

A recent search for ‘Ferres 1898’ looking for responses to the death of John Ferres brought up this unexpected article from the Bendigo Advertiser quoting the Argus as its source. It caught my eye due to the mention of two surnames of interest (Ferris and Ferres) in connection with losses due to the massive bush fires in Gippsland during the early part of 1898. Continue reading “Trove Tuesday: Who was the Mrs. Ferris who lost £300?”

52 Ancestors #2 John Ferres

John Ferres (1818-1898),John to memy great great grandfather, was the second of my direct ancestors to migrate to Australia. This makes him the second of my ‘boat people’.

John was one of 203 “assisted” immigrants on the barque “Aurora” which sailed from Plymouth on 17th August 1848 and arrived off Point Henry, Geelong on the 7th December 1848.

The ‘Nominal List’ of the passengers on the “Aurora” listed him as John Ferries (or Fernes?); a carpenter aged 30, from Bath, Somerset. His religious denomination was given as Baptist. John could both read and write and owned a Bible. Continue reading “52 Ancestors #2 John Ferres”

52 Ancestors #1 Esther Chancellor

Esther Ferres, nee Chancellor (c1784-1865), Descent - Esther to Maureenmy great-great-great-grandmother, was the first of my direct ancestors to migrate to Australia – at the tender age of 64.

This makes her both the first of my ‘boat people’ and the oldest!

Esther was one of 278 “assisted” immigrants on the barque “Cornwall” which sailed from Plymouth on 28th April 1848 and arrived in Port Phillip on the 11th August 1848. Continue reading “52 Ancestors #1 Esther Chancellor”

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Accepting the Challenge

I have decided to take up the challenge of writing blog posts about “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” that was proposed by Amy Johnson Crow on her No Story Too Small blog a few days ago.


“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

I will start with as many of my family ‘Boat People’ (ancestors who emigrated from England to Australia in the 19th Century) as I can find information about Continue reading “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Accepting the Challenge”

Accentuate the Positive 2013 Geneameme

Here are my responses to the end of year challenge posted by Jill Ball (GeniAus)

An elusive ancestor I found a snippet about was my great grandfather Arthur William ROBERTS. I never met him as he died before my mother was born. Details about his early life are undeniably hard to find/hard to pin down so he certainly fits the definition of ‘elusive’. Last year I managed to find his address in London just before he married Ellen Louisa BENNETT and they emigrated to Australia in 1889. This year I searched through land selection files at PROV and found many details about Arthur and Ellen and their family’s housing and farming activities as very early settlers in Monbulk, Victoria. Unfortunately there were no clues about his date and place of birth. Continue reading “Accentuate the Positive 2013 Geneameme”

Thankful Thursday – some new records

It is not often that I am pleased (thankful is probably a bit too strong a word!) to have a cold. But, because I stayed home from my usual session at the gym and watched Jill Ball’s Online Resources for Australian Research Hangout on Air, today has turned out to be one of those days.  Thanks to Jill and her guests, I have an extra record and a new lead! Continue reading “Thankful Thursday – some new records”

Trove Tuesday: Solving the Mystery of That Photo – almost!

I always enjoy reading other bloggers Trove Tuesday posts so it is probably fitting that my first family history post relates to the fabulous resources on that site.

This photo has puzzled me for some time. It was obviously an important occasion as most of the people depicted are quite formally dressed. Many of the individuals are difficult to distinguish, unfortunately.

Picknickers at Clontarf, Middle Harbour, Sydney 2nd June 1870
Picnickers at Clontarf, Middle Harbour, Sydney, 2nd June 1870

The letter on the back provided some clues, the most important of which was the date of the picnic: 2nd June 1870

The very formal style of the letter seems to indicate that the writer and the recipient were acquaintances rather than family or friends.

My dear Sir
I send you a photo, not certainly a very perfect one, of our picnic held at Clo?lar? Middle Harbour on the 2nd inst.

Thos Ri?h?? Continue reading “Trove Tuesday: Solving the Mystery of That Photo – almost!”