In Search of a Title

The story of one journal's quest for a sensible font size


March 31st, 2011

Summary @ 05:31 pm


I didn't pick these women out specially to make any point, or I would have included Ellen. (To read something like.... when the man who'd been sharing her bed left her with an infant child, she took him to court to make him pay maintenance, and won (and immediately afterwards was arrested for riding "furiously" through the town in apparent celebration), sort of ruins any preconceptions you might have about women of her time.) No, these were just women who I'd come across while reading. No one special. Just ordinary people doing what had to be done, or what suited them to do.

Your fool man gets his head cut open while attempting to rob a house, do you
a) faint
b) hope someone else will turn up to deal with it
c) sew him up and go back to looking after the campfire.

Obviously there's more each woman's story than I've presented with my "simple" posts. I reckon any of them could be the basis of a good bit of fiction (or non-fiction) told from their point of view.
 

March 29th, 2011

Maggie @ 10:36 pm


What I'm doing

Let's see what I can do with Maggie. She married William Skilling/Skillion in 1873. They had two children. Then a few years her later, her husband is arrested and sent off to gaol for six years, and at the same time, her mother is also gaoled. So at 21, Maggie is left looking after her own children, her mother's young kids, and running the property; with the help of her teenage sisters. Of her adult brothers, one is in gaol and the other two get into trouble with the police. OK so the older one shoots some of them. So along with looking after the family, she takes on providing for her now-fugitive brothers, while avoiding the police and media.

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And that is the last in my series, except for a summary post.

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March 22nd, 2011

Mary Ann @ 02:28 pm


What I'm doing

I am cheating here, but all I know of this lady is what I've read on other web pages and I don't see any point in regurgitating what other people have said better.

Of the many web pages about Mary Ann, the Wikipedia article does seem the most comprehensive. Althuogh the best thing to read would be The Captain’s Lady: Mary Ann Bugg written by Kali Bierens as an Honours thesis.

To add some content to my post, this is from Charles White's "History of Australian Bushranging, Volume 2"

One person knew all his secrets, sympathised in all his troubles, sheltered him, watched for him, and proved a faithful friend. That person was a woman, and it is questionable if ever bushranger had a 'mate' more serviceable or more devoted.

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And now, unless there is someone I have overlooked, I shall head south to see what I can do with someone is possibly the most interesting but has had relatively little attention. (And no, not Kate.)
 

March 20th, 2011

The Maids of the Mountains @ 07:14 pm


The Maids of the Mountains

In the wild Weddin Mountains
There live two young dames;
Kate O'Meally, Bet Mayhew
Are their pretty names;
These maids of the mountains
Are bonny bush belles;
They ride out on horseback,
Togged out like young swells.

They dressed themselves up
In their brothers' best clothes,
And looked very rakish
As you may suppose.
In the joy of their hearts
They chuckled with glee--
What fun if for robbers
They taken should be.

Just then the policemen
By day and by night,
Were seeking Frank Gardiner,
The bushranger sprite.
Bold Constable Clark
Wore a terrible frown,
And thought how Sir Freddy
By Frank was done "brown".

They sought for the 'ranger,
But of course found him not,
When suddenly Katy
And Betsy they spot.
"By Pott!" shouted Clark,
"That is Gardiner I see!
The wretch must be taken
Come boys, follow me."

"Stand!" shouted the bobbies
In accents most dread,
"Or else you will taste
Our infallible lead."
But the maids of the mountains
Just laughed at poor Clark,
And galloped away
To continue their lark.

The troopers pursued them
And hot was the chase,
'Tis only in Randwick
They go at such pace;
Clark captured the pair,
Then, to show his vexation,
He lugged them both off
To the Young police station.

The maids of the mountains,
The joke much enjoyed
To see their brave captors
So sadly annoyed;
Next day they still smiled
As they stood in the dock;
Their awful position
Their nerves did not shock.

But Constable Clark
Did not look very jolly,
He had no excuse
For such absolute folly;
He admitted the girls
Were just out on a spree,
And hoped that His Worship
Would set them both free.

And so the farce ended
Of Belles versus Blues,
Which caused no great harm
And did much to amuse;
But the Burrangong bobbies
Will place in their cells,
No more maids of the mountains--
The bonny bush belles.


Kate was a sister of Johnny O'Mealley (who worked with Gardiner, Gilbert & Hall)
 

March 19th, 2011

Ellen, Bridget & Kate @ 07:48 pm


I thought this would be easy. I could do a brief summary and then link to a web page. Of course that required finding a suitable web page. Ha ha.

So then I thought I'd just do a short post with the little that I already knew, and that would do. But first, it wouldn't hurt to have a quick run through the newspapers. And then I had to read through and "correct" each article, and then read through them again once I'd copied them to check for errors, weird formatting. So it's gone a bit long, but as I've had to read everything 2 or 3 times, I can assure you, it's interesting. With footnotes too.

So, to NSW in the 1860s.

Ellen

I was undecided on whether to include Ellen. She married John McGuire, and lived "happily ever after". But it felt unbalanced to leave her out, and she does appear in various narratives as Maguire's wife or Mrs McGuire.

EllenCollapse )


Bridget

The second sister, Bridget, married one of her father's stockmen. It's her absence that matters, so isn't there much written about her as such, because she's not there to write about.

BridgetCollapse )


Kate

The youngest sister married John Brown. For all that's been written about Mrs Brown, not much has been said about her, in books.

I did find this, in a newspaper at the time everyone was talking about her:

Catherine Welsh, the wife of one Brown, a native of the colony, was born of humble but respectable parents, and is now nineteen years of age. Some years ago she came to Yass to be educated, and was a scholar at Mrs. Staniforth's school, remaining at one of the most respectable hotels in the town during that time. She left for home, and subsequently contracted marriage with Brown. Her late career is well known. We have been told that her father still lives, but that her mother died some eighteen months ago. 5

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March 17th, 2011

Interlude @ 08:53 pm


What I'm doing

A slight detour on the way to NSW. I found this account in the back of a book, of the capture of Captain Melville. So, Victoria 1852...

"Having had a good dinner at the Corio Street pub, Melville and hie mate, leaving their horses in the stable, strolled along past the police. station, down a cross street, and so to a cottage, at the door of which they knocked. Seemingly they had learned the open-sesame, three sharp raps and two slow ones, because the door opened at once, and a voice within bade them enter.

"In a small front parlour they were greeted by two ladies, to whom Captain Melville, ever courteous, bowed ceremoniously. These ladies were somewhat of a contrast. The fairer one was stout, and though not exactly plain, was certainly no Helen of Troy. She was about 30. The other was younger, slimmer, fairly dark, vivacious, and definitely attractive.

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March 13th, 2011

Eliza; Part III @ 04:37 pm


What I'm doing

Part I: Meeting
Part II: On The Run

Conclusion

"I informed my mates [Jones & Kavanagh] that I should have the pleasure of introducing them to an old acquaintance of mine who lived on the Dromedary, named Mrs B----n, and that in all probability they might shortly, while there, see Mrs Cash. Jones immediately exhibited a silk dress, which he had taken from Mrs Cawthorn's, and expressed his intention to present it to my companion, but I told him that I would much rather he would give it as a present to Mrs B----n. On the night following we all three repaired to the house, where we were most hospitably received. The family lived at a place named Cob's Hill on the Jordan side, they were very poor and rented a small piece of land, which barely maintained them, having neither horses, cows, nor pigs, and were in all respects in the most abject poverty. They were all, both young and old, natives of the colony.

"We found Mr. and Mrs B----n at home, together with other members of the family, and after partaking of some refreshment we spent a very pleasant evening, chatting over times past. Early next morning Mrs B----n was on her way to town for a fresh supply of necessaries, also bearing instructions for my companion to return with Mrs B----n, but as I did not know the address f the latter I told Mrs B----n to call at the residence of Mr M----t, opposite the Angel Inn in Argyle Street, where she would learn all the particulars, and being of opinion that the police were on the watch we did not consider it prudent to await their return. We therefore concealed ourselves about a mile from the house, where we remained until the afternoon, returning by a different route.

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And that done, it's time to move onto NSW.
 

March 12th, 2011

Eliza: Part II @ 05:32 pm


What I'm doing

Part I: Meeting

On The Run

[A few months of wandering about, working in various places]
[Being arrested over a stolen watch, but as it was apparently planted "I and my companion were therefore acquitted".]
[Punching out the traps and getting compensated for it]
[Then things turn a bit more serious...]

"One evening after work, and while in conversation with Mr Kane [former employer], I was accosted by a man named Miller, who requested that I would let him stop at my place for a night or two as he was out of employment but expected work on the following day. My knowledge of this man was very limited, Mr Kane having some few days previously employed him in clearing away the rubbish from the new building at which I had been at work. I took him home that night and permitted him to remain the night following. The next day I went into the township with a view of paying my landlord (Mr Hamilton), the rent, leaving Miller in charge of the house until I returned. I had scarcely concluded my business before I was arrested by a party of constables who, it appears, had searched the house in my absence and found the articles which Miller had stolen, the later have decamped on seeing the constables approaching the house, leaving me, as the occupier of the house, to answer for his delinquencies. I was fully committed and arraigned at Launceston, Mr Mulgrave being then Chairman, where I was sentenced to seven years' transportation, and forwarded to a station known as Malcolm's Huts, distant some two miles from Richmond."

[From which he escapes.]

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Eliza @ 09:38 am


What I'm doing

I'm letting someone else tell this story, by pulling the parts from his biography* that relate to her. It got a bit long, so I'm splitting it over three posts. Still, I find it interesting, so if you only read one of this series, I'd make it this one (or this three).

I hope it makes senses. It does to me, but I've read a lot of missing bits. If it doesn't, I can add notes to clarify things

(The conventions I've used: I put quote marks around each extract. So the closing quotes mark effectively means "there's something missing after this". Sometimes that's is a few sentences, sometimes pages, but using ellipses was getting messy. Although I've used them within a paragraph where it's only part of a sentence missing. I added some comments in [] to clarify the passage of time or summarise missing bits. Italics means it's a passage from the latest version, which has differences to the original published text.)


Meeting

"Shortly after our arrival, we were introduced to the newly appointed store keeper's missis, who, by the by, appeared to be at the time the most beautiful person I had every beheld. She was a finely proportioned woman with a very fair complexion, light blue eyes, and dark auburn hair and appeared to be about twenty-two years of age. I could not take my eyes away from her, and I felt embarrassed on one or two occasions when she appeared to be conscious of my admiration, not having the presence of mine to conceal it. I felt completely lost in a reverie of blissful anticipation, building castles with a very unstable foundation, and imaging how happy I would have been in having such a piece of property as the residing goddess."

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March 5th, 2011

Harriett @ 01:15 pm


What I'm doing

Probably I shouldn't include Mrs Davis, because she doesn't play an important part in the story, but you can't expect me to pass on Brady & Co, and she is interesting -- for something it's claimed she didn't do.

This little notice appeared in the Hobart Town Gazette on the 8th July 1825:

Brady and McCabe made their appearance during the week, at the Farm of A.F. Kemp, Esq. up the country. They had previously been robbing some individual;--and it is supposed are harboured by a woman named Davis, who lives in the interior.

About five years after Lt-Gov Sorell managed to suppress his outbreak of bushranging, fourteen men escaped from Macquarie Harbour in a whale boat. Of course, within weeks of their escape, all but two were capture and dealt with. And at the time of that notice, L-Gov Arthur probably thought it just a matter of time until the last two were rounded up. Unfortunately for him, they went on to build up a gang of considerable size that terrorised the colonies for a few months to come.

Although McCabe's time was soon to come. By the end of the year he was in custody and awaiting his execution in January. The Colonial Times reported on his hanging, along with seven others, in some detail. Underneath that was this paragraph:

This morning, immediately before the Execution, the Rev. Mr. Conolly communicated to the High Sheriff, that M'Cabe wished to speak to him. Mr. Fereday went to him instantly. He stated, that it having been reported that Brady and himself had been harboured by a Mrs. Davis, near the Black Marsh, he declared, as a dying man, that such a report was absolutely false. He had never seen Mrs. Davis in his whole life.

(Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser 6 January 1825)

You think he protests too much?

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March 3rd, 2011

Mary @ 01:13 pm


What I'm doing

So let's go back to a time when bushranger meant bolter, bandit, runaway convict; and those that made the news were described with words like murderous, atrocious, vicious -- no outlaw heroes here -- and Mick Howe was the king of them all. Or should that be the governor of them all? Back to 1817, which is a long time ago in Australian terms. British settlement was in its early stage. Other than Sydney, the mainland capitals are vague ideas at best. Down in VDL, William Sorell had just arrived to try and make order from chaos, and the big growth in settlement that exacerbated relations between settlers and natives hadn't taken place. Not that there wasn't conflict, just not on the scale that was to come.

There aren't many primary sources from this time so we're mostly relying on folklore and oral tradition. So, to start with I'll pull out three paragraphs from James Bonwick's book (The bushrangers: illustrating the early days of Van Diemen's Land, which I'm just going to refer to by the author's name from now on.)
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March 1st, 2011

March @ 01:12 pm


Now it's March, which is Women's History Month so I'm going to write about bushrangers. Although not Mary Ann Bugg, or maybe I will. I see when I get there.

Nope, I want to look at the ladies in the stories, because they interesting but don't get the attention equivalent to that interesting.

(Gah. I have mentioned my mp3 player is evil?)

So the rules:
  • I'm sticking to the "usual suspects" (that is, the well-known stories)
  • I'll be doing it in chronological order until I get bored with it
  • I'll keep it simple, so I don't spend too much time chasing up references, although I'll probably end up including quotes form books, but there'll be links to more information.

So you've been warned.

The entries:



Before I finish, is it necessary to comment on the lack of female bushrangers? After all, women at the time were passive and accepting of their lot, and certainly unable to rough it.*

So I'll throw in some observations on "Female Bolters" from The bushrangers: illustrating the early days of Van Diemen's Land by James Bonwick (who was writing in the 1850s)

Though without historical records of a petticoated bushranger, cases of runaways are not unknown Dislike of the restraint of service, fear of impending punishment, and a love of daring and debauchery, have led women to flee to the bush though usually in company with those of the other sex. Bushrangers have not been indifferent to such society, and persons of more respectable social position have shown the same taste.

The home life of women exposed them less to the curses of convictism; in the opinion of most men, "when the judge passes sentence of transportation he opens an ulcer in the heart that neither time nor penitence itself can wholly heal." Before Sorell's time female prisoners were left to do as they pleased; then an order came out for "all women at large to give an account of the grounds on which they pretended to pardon." After this the law took more cognizance of them. Incorrigibles are to be found among the females as among the men."


*You don't really believe that, do you?