Sunday, 30 October 2016


Country News. (1883, July 7).
Logan Witness (Beenleigh, Qld. : 1878-1893)), p.2
The 1984 work Place Names of the Tweed, Brunswick and Upper Richmond Regions recorded the meaning of the village name Tumbulgum as "small-leafed fig". Twenty years prior, Some Aboriginal Place-Names in the Richmond Tweed Area interpreted it as "large fig". Perhaps both were true, but it is a distinctive name unlikely to be confused with anywhere else. 
(1886, January 16,).
Australian Town and Country Journal
(Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p.17.
Ironic then that its earlier nineteenth century European name, The Junction, was preferred by The Logan Witness, a Queensland newspaper which concerned itself with NSW border settlements very closely as postal and transport services developed north of Grafton. Such interest was described as being "queenslandised" by the Australian Town and Country Journal in 1886.

Still a village, the longtime locals call it "Tumble-gum" and in November 2016, they gathered together to acknowledge its 150 years of settlement. Two of the village pioneers have remained there fore more than 100 of those years, resting in the North Tumbulgum Cemetery. There is no headstone to mark their lives, but Eliza Baker (nee Alexander) and her husband William are remembered through the documentary fragments of officialdom. 

William Baker died on 6 June 1901, aged 68. He had married in Grafton 42 years earlier, in 1859, and there were no children from the marriage. His birthplace was given as Bristol, England.
NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages - death Certificate #6130/1901
William's will left all of his property to his nephew Thomas Baker, with the exception of a place for his wife Eliza to live. Thomas, wife Harriett and their five daughters already enjoyed the generosity of his Uncle William - the family lived at Duranbah on a farm block owned by William. This generous nature extended to the care throughout childhood of his other nephew James Baker.

Eliza Baker died only nine months after her husband, on 22 March 1902, aged 66. Her birthplace was given as London. Eliza's will also granted her full estate to her husband's nephew Thomas. How did this come about?
NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages - Death Certificate #2226/1902
The Marriage certificate of Eliza Alexander and William Baker furnishes an additional interesting clue: the service was conducted according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. 
NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages - Marriage Certificate #1709/1860 [late reg'n]
GRAFTON. (1858, December 17).
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p.5
Nineteenth century marriages were usually conducted in the religion of the bride, and in Grafton in 1859, there was already a functioning Presbyterian Church under the stewardship of the Reverend James Collins. So this was not just a convenient location. 

EARLY HISTORY OF GRAFTON. (1904, September 13).
Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1839 - 1915), p.2
The lack of detail in the three certificates made a search for more information less clear cut. However, there was an approximate year of arrival in Australia, for both Eliza and William. 

Advertising (1882, June 17).
Australian Town and Country Journal
(Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p.4

Of course the fact that William had a nephew living not far away from Tumbulgum also made it easier to find his family. The presence of Thomas' father James in Grafton and later on the Tweed River made it easy to find a connection to William's background. After a sale at auction, it was James' land which became The Junction. 

(1985) St Mary's Church, Almondsbury, with
graveyard containing Baker family graves
As young men, James in 1852 and then William in 1857 made the journey to New South Wales from another small village, Almondsbury, in Gloucestershire. The closest port to Almondsbury is Bristol, William's birth registration place.

For his emigration form, William stated that he was 22 years old, had a brother James "in the colony", and like his brother was a (farm) labourer.

List of Emigrants sent to Sydney NSW on board
the Marchioness of Londonderry, Captn. J. Williams
by the Family Colonization Loan Society
[State Records NRS 5323/9_6173]
Eliza's origins, on the other hand, are less certain. Her death certificate implies that she was born in 1836. Her marriage suggests she was Scottish, and indeed, searching the gargantuan family history websites indicates that her name was more likely to be from a Scottish source.

So was it possible, as per many Australian certificates, that London was her point of departure from the UK, rather than her hometown? Emigration records with a reasonably close match to Eliza's age suggest she arrived in December 1854 on the Marchioness of Londonderry, one of 32 single servant women and 101 immigrants on board. [1] 

[State Records NRS 5322/4_5037]
Eliza paid £12 for the journey. As their first stop, the passengers were required to spend several days at Q station because of a smallpox outbreak. The Loan Society must have been alarmed by this outcome. 

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1854, December 13).
The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser
(NSW : 1843-1893), p.2
There were no other passengers on board with the surname Alexander, suggesting that Eliza had travelled to Australia without family. 

The purpose of the Family Colonization Loan Society was to: "...lend to the emigrant one-half of the cost of the passage, after he has paid to the Society a sum equivalent to the other half, we take from him a note of hand payable on demand for the amount lent, at the same time undertaking to give him two years in which to repay the amount, provided he conforms to certain simple regulations laid down by the Society." [2]

In 1852, the virtues of settling in such faraway places were extolled by Caroline Chisholm during a trip throughout the UK. One of her stops was the city of Glasgow. She had spent more than a decade encouraging emigration and reinforced it by overseeing the funding of several ships. Less than two years later, one Eliza Alexander made the journey.

This sesquicentenary reflects the tenacity of a village to survive, an echo of the hopes of two pioneers who became Tumbulgum locals. That it thrives is a testament to their determination to forge lives in a reimagined Australia.

[1] Kiddle, Margaret Caroline Chisholm, Melbourne at the University Press, 1950
[2] EMIGRATION. (1854, November 28). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), p.2

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