|Emma pos on her 90th Birthday|
Described as 4 foot nothing and strong as an Ox, her granddaughter once said "you daren't offer to help carry a suitcase or push a wheelbarrow full of wood for her or you would get what for!"
When I first started my family history I was told that Emma had 3 daughters to her first husband and when he died she had 3 sons to my great grandfather. My mother was surprised as she had only met 2 daughters and then we were told that one separated herself from the family and never seen again. No one seemed to know where she went.
The girls were the daughters of Robert Conroy who was a merchant seaman who went back to England to gain an engineering certificate and died on the way. However after years of research I was never able to find this marriage, nor the birth of the girls. I also was not able to find the marriage of Emma to Peter Johnson (My great grandfather) but I did find the birth of her youngest son. When I purchased this certificate I found that he was registered to Peter Johnson and Emma Royle (Known as Johnson). Peter was the youngest of Emma's children and yet no other children were mentioned on this certificate.
I mentioned this to Uncle Jim (James Johnson and Emma's second son) and made the comment that I don't think they were ever married, to which he replied "I don't thing they were either." (now why didn't he tell me that years earlier, did he think I would just give up and never find out?)
This upset Jim's daughter at his funeral with her saying "well I have their marriage certificate!" She never did send it to me.
Later I was to find the birth certificate of my grandfather, he was registered John Royle, no father listed and no other siblings, but the son of Emma.
As for Lena (the daughter that disappeared) she was supposed to have married a musician, and one of her husband's was Les, she divorced when she failed to have children.
Uncle Jim told me he had found her just before he died living at a nursing home near him and he attended her funeral. People there were surprised to learn she had siblings.
I later found a death for a Mabel Stella Kerridge, mother listed as Emma Royle. She had died in a nursing home and her death certificate mentioned 2 husbands. I could not work out how people got Lena from Mabel but then this was not uncommon. Everything except her age pointed at her being Lena, she died in a nursing home, had married twice, one being Les, and of course her mother was Emma.
I stopped looking for Lena.
Not long ago I had contact with two of the granddaughters of one of Lena's daughters. This was exciting as it was the first contact I had from any of Emma's other descendants that were interested in the family history. And Cassie had in fact used a lot of my material handed to her by one of her aunts, whom I had sent it to years earlier. I am always happy for family to pass this on to other members and this is one that had paid off.
She had Lena as the youngest child and had her name as Eileen, which would make sense given her name. One thing I had failed to do was look under Emma Royle in the New South Wales Register. I had done in Victoria hence finding my grandfather. But Cassie had and had found Doris and Eileen both registered, she could not find Sylvia.
One thing that stood out was that Doris Manay was in fact registered Doris McGeagh Royle. No father for either girls, so once again Emma had not married the father of her daughters. It was also noted that there was a Sylvia McGeagh registered the right year, to Robert McGeagh and Mary.
Robert McGeagh was a baker, and had married Mary Phoebe Collins. They had 2 daughters, one died as a baby, and after a gap had Violet, all in NSW. I then went to the Victorian Registers and found that Robert and Mary had moved to Sale in Gippsland Victoria, where Emma lived, and Mary gave birth to a son Alfred. I sent for his birth certificate and found that the midwife was Maria Royle, Emma's mother. Also this was the year before Emma had given birth to Mabel. So now we had 4 daughters for Emma, and it seemed no one knew of Mabel before I found her.
I also found that Robert had done his baker's apprenticeship on a ship (Merchant Seaman). There were a number of puzzle pieces starting to fall into place. I then found that Alfred McGeagh served in the WW1 and he died a few years after returning to Melbourne. Looking at his war records I noticed his mother had written asking if he was entitled to a scroll for his grave. The War department had written back asking for the name and address of Alfred's father, I turned the page to find that she had written back, "I have not seen nor heard of his father in 32 years! " This took us back to the birth of Mabel.
Further search found that Lena had been born at Sydney Benevolent Asylum. Further when records were obtained, Emma named the father, Robert McGeagh.
We may have gone the long way about finding these facts, as they were on the Asylum Records anyway but we had all gone in the right direction and came up with the right details. It was a combined effort from Cassie and Julie and myself but we got there and found the illegitimate father. It appears he disappeared before Lena was born and we do not know where he went but at least now we know who we are looking for and have a name for the Conroy? Girls.
Some time later I found the divorce records for Robert and Mary. That was an interesting read, there seemed to be a number fibs told, Mary saying she had hired Emma to take care of Robert while she took the children to Sydney after a doctor told her she needed to take one of them on a voyage for his health. Mary would have known Emma from when they were living in Sale in Gippsland. But these papers did tell a lot that showed our research was correct.
We are yet to find out where Robert went, and it seems he may have even changed his name as a posting looking for Robert McGeagh, or McGreggor was found. Mary Phoebe remarried, but no further children.
Emma died at Cockatoo in 1960 just after celebrating her 90th Birthday.