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Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

The Greenwood Tree – December 2020

Migration Down Under is the theme of the December issue of The Greenwood Tree. Members flooded us with stories of ancestors who undertook the long journey to Australia or New Zealand, whether transported against their will for mostly petty crime or as an escape from the grinding poverty afflicting West Country agricultural labourers in the 19th century.  Editor Paul Radford previews the edition which will be mailed to members at the end of November and which SDFHS members can already view or download from the Members’ Area of the Society’s website.

Greenwood Tree Dec 2020

      The front cover shows a painting by Ford Madox Brown called The Last of England. It was painted in 1855 and shows emigrants leaving for Australia with a last view of the white cliffs of Dover in the background. It was inspired by the departure for the Antipodes of Brown’s friend, sculptor Thomas Woolner.

      Joyce Draycott tells the story of a photo of her Sheppard family, taken in 1903, which features the oddity of her great-grandmother appearing seated on a chair within the group even though she had already died. Most of the dead lady’s children emigrated to Australia and all kept a copy of the family photo which was produced when Joyce and her husband travelled Down Under for a Sheppard family reunion in 2007.

Sheppard family
Sheppard Family
Arthur Hull
Arthur Hull

      Margery Hookings has poignant memories of her grandfather Arthur Hull who emigrated before the First World War to work on sheep farms. He enlisted with an Australian regiment, and fought at Gallipoli and The Somme before returning to Somerset to marry his childhood sweetheart.

      Perhaps the strangest tale is told by Rachel Hassall of a man named Greenslade who was transported to Botany Bay, won his liberty by helping recapture an outlaw on the run, returned on the same ship he went out on and had the irony of being arrested again shortly after his arrival for a crime he had not committed.

Herbert Crumpler
Herbert Crumpler

       Garth Matthews provides the intriguing adventure of Herbert Crumpler who emigrated to Australia to escape an unhappy family situation, returned to Dorset to marry the rector’s daughter from his home village and then emigrated to Florida. But dogged by bad fortune, he decided to go back Down Under again, this time for good.

      Other members with emigration stories include Jane Ferentzi-Sheppard, Helen Doble, John Wilson, Pauline Every, Andrew Suter, Brian Luxton, Janet Lute, Ken Hando, Peter Harrison and Sue Boughton.  

       There are other topics too. Jeremy Pyne tells how he conducted his one-name study, Bob Kelley gives us the forgotten history of the Dorset button and Jon Cozens reminisces about the old days on Taunton’s East Street.  Chris Caswill relates the life of his great-grandmother who lived through the entire reign of Queen Victoria, Peter Meech follows the career of his grandfather who worked for the Co-op in various West Country locations and the editor does a mixed bag analysis of Ancestry under the title “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”.

Cozens shop in Taunton

      Regular features include Somerset Spotlight, this time on Holford, the SDFHS Photo Project with some Dorset entries, What the Papers Said and Letters to the Editor.

Dodington Manor in Holford

      The first issue of 2021 will also have a theme. This time members will be invited to send in stories and pictures on the topic of House Histories.

Paul Radford
Editor, The Greenwood Tree

Member and Guest Blogs Welcome

We welcome guest and member blog posts on any topic with a family history connection and invite you to send your contributions, which should include photo/photos, to the editor Barbara Elsmore