Identifying Photos

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Wedding Ring

When my mother passed away a few years back I inherited her jewel case. She never had a lot of Jewels but she did leave her engagement ring, she also had an eternity ring and Nana's engagement ring. I was to have first choice of these then my sister Maureen had the next choice and my sister Erin was to inherit the last ring.

I did not know which I wanted to keep, Mum's engagement ring or Nana's. I asked Maureen to make the choice but she could not decide either. That was until she contacted me and asked if I had decided.


She had a dream the night before and was having a conversation with Nana who asked where her ring was. Maureen told her I had it, and Nana said well you get it off her. This took my choice away, who was going to argue with Nana!

I have no idea of the value of these rings but both were pretty rings and both had sentimental value. However there was the jewel case and in this  was a small plain gold ring. I thought at first this may have been Mum's original wedding ring as the one she wore was not the original one. I do not know where that went but I remembered her wedding ring and this one was not it either.

I then remembered Mum saying that she had her grandmother's wedding ring but I still did not know if this was it. On closer examination I noticed the ring had some kind of marking inside. It was so small it was impossible for me to see it so I took it to a Jeweller who told me it was an old ring, probably made in England and was 15ct rose gold.

This information did not help as Mum's grandparents, Patrick William John Murphy and Mary Ellen Josephine Woodhead were married in Melbourne.

Then I found a site on the internet that gave the opportunity to put up a photo of antique jewellery and find information about it. I had a macro lens for my iPhone so took a photo of the markings inside the ring and posted to

within no time at all I had the information I was looking for:-

I think it's more likely that your antique wedding ring was manufactured in Victoria, Australia in the late 19th early 20th century.

The "pretzel mark" that you mention, that we can see in first in the series of three impressions is the member jeweller of the Manufacturing Jeweller's Association of Victoria


Then a few days later 

yes, you are lucky indeed to have the ring marked, 
because apart from documented pieces, and those still accompanied by their original receipt, most items of Australian Jewelry are unmarked as to their maker and often show only the quality mark of their silver or gold content. Other markings provided are the exception rather than the rule. 

Insufficient attention has been given to these various marks found on some pieces of Australian Jewelry. These marks can include hallmarks like that are found on British gold and silver, pseudo- British hallmarks, initials, a single surname with and without initials, 
business name and a variety of symbols including registration numbers and trade marks. TheTrademark is the practice of marking an item made from ANY material with signature or logo of the maker, jewelry manufacturer or sponsor. So the "knot" in the first impression could be described as the trademark or more befitting in early Australian jewelry terminology - Member's stamp. 

The hallmark in Ellen's wedding ring is 15 and this was one of the country (Australia's) sanctioned guarantee of quality. This standard 15 was a relatively new standard mark in the late 19th century, and fits in with the British hallmarking system because in 1854 three lower standards were introduced in England, twelve, nine and fifteen carats.

The animal in the third impression is a sheep and 15 carat gold quality symbol for 15 carat gold (for Victoria) - In NSW the 15 carat, 9 carat and 18 carat quality symbol was a kookaburra.

This is what I needed!
It all fitted my great grandparents were married  in St John's Church, Clifton Hills on 24 February 1897. By Father Richard Collins. Their witnesses were Patrick's brother James and Ada, possibly a friend of Mary Ellen's.

My plan is now to frame the photo above, or a copy of it, and pop the ring in to the frame with the photo to sit where I believe it now belongs.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mamouth Search

Back in January I contacted a lady about her family Tree. She had this on ancestry but not a great deal on it. Even though her family was not directly connected to me I had a number of family members who were.
In 1894 my Great Grandmother's brother Charles WOODHEAD m Bridget STACK in Fitzroy, Victoria. In 1912 Bridget's niece Gertrude HOWSON (nee STACK) died leaving her husband with 3 young boys to look after. My Great Grandparents Mary Ellen (nee WOODHEAD and sister of Charles) and her husband PWJ MURPHY took in the eldest of these boys and he lived on the farm at Arthurs Creek with them. He grew up to be a Jockey and my grandmother stated that he learned to ride on the farm by tying up the calves on his way to school in the morning so he could try and ride them on the way home.
PWJ found one of these calves one day, it was fretting and dehydrating because it could not get to the mother. Needless to say Bill HOWSON was not popular over that one.
Then in 1925 Les MURPHY, son of PWJ and Mary Ellen married Bill's cousin and another descendant of the STACK family.
So, although I am not a descendant, there are cousins of both my grandmother and my mother  are cousins of STACK descendants.
Last week the lady contacted me back, because of health reasons she had not been near the computer and had not seen my post. She was quite excited as she had not a lot on this side of her family.
In 1898 James STACK married Catherine Mary SCULLY.  Their Granddaughter is trying to find out where her grandmother had come from. Catherine's mother Margaret Scully had lived with them until her death. There was never a husband that Margy remembered and when her  father mentioned it was all hush, hush. There did not appear to be a birth certificate for Catherine and she had a sister Eleanor.
She also knew that her ancestors Michael and Bridget Scully came out on the "Great Britain" in 1868. She had been to see the ship with her mother once.
A search of the Victorian Pioneer Index shows nothing given the year of birth or anything close.
I then tried my favourite "Trove".
I searched for Margaret Scully. Bingo. She was in court with Joshua Cowell who was applying for insolvency. She had been implicated as all of his assets had been transferred into her name as he claimed he owed Margaret £500. There was a full story of her journey to Australia from Liverpool, how she had gone to live with Joshua as his housekeeper then eventually as his mistress. It described where she had supposedly obtained the £500 and that she had sent for her parents.
The case had been heard in court over almost 2 years and Joshua was an ex MLA, and there is mention of the case in Parliament.
Joshua spoke of his son going somewhere with him and an advertisement appeared in the paper saying that Joshua had mentioned his wife being dead these last 15 years. However the advertisement is written by a John Scully who claims Joshua as his father and says his mother is still well and truly alive and that Joshua if married to Margaret should be arrested for bigamy.
A check of the records shows that Joshua Cowell had married Louisa Saunders and for a time was living at Steigliz and Browns Diggings. He mentions his niece living in Ballarat and it appeared Joshua was moving all over Victoria.
I sent these details on to Joan Hunt as she had studied the area around Browns Diggings and Smythesdale and wondered if she had come across Joshua at all. It was her that noticed that the ages of the sons did not match up with Joshua and Louisa. But there were too many co-incidences for it not to be him.
I then sat down and went through the newspaper articles in order of date. Sure enough things started to look a bit skewed. I also found that Joshua put a notice in the paper when his wife died and then there was a notice when he died saying he was a pioneer travelling salesman.
I sent for the death certificate and suddenly all fell into place. Margaret was living with his father, of the same name. I had a death for him in England but this was obviously the wrong man.
Further research has now found that Joshua snr had moved over to New Zealand, Margaret followed him and they married and had further children. After his death Margaret came back to Victoria leaving children (grown by now) and went back to her maiden name.
Since then I have been able to find others who were researching this family and put them all in touch. There was a lot more research and some of what others had was incorrect but we have been able to put that together.
I wonder if our ancestors ever realised that those papers that usually only lasted a day or two would come back to help put stories together 100 or so later. How often have we been stuck on a family for many years but now with TROVE and Paperspast (New Zealand) these stories are becoming easier to find these stories that unlock so much for genealogists.

It has now come apparent that Margaret in fact did not come back to Australia. She passed away in New Zealand. It has now come to light that there were two Margarets.
Seems Margaret Mehan, (or variations of) had a son Robert Hutchinson Mahern, born and died in 1876. She then had a daughter Catherine about 1878. It seems she was not registered however Margaret claimed to be married to Michael Scully, the father of Margaret Scully m Joshua Cowell. To date we have not been able to find a death for Michael's wife Bridget but family believe she arranged his funeral. Margaret's baby Robert who died the same year as his birth is buried with Michael, meaning there is definitely a relationship of some kind with the family but was he the father of Catherine?
Margaret Mehan also had a daughter Eleanor about eight years after Catherine was born but this was after Michael had died so the father again is not known.
Margaret died in 1921 and her father is listed as Thomas Mahon. There is no marriage for Margaret and Michael and no death for Bridget Scully.
Another Line Discovered.
As many already know I was handed down a photo Album originally belonging to my 3x great grandfather or at least he and his wife, my gg grandfather's step mother who reared him.

There were many photos in this Album mostly of people unknown. Some had hints written on them, such as initials, dates or even a first name. These along with the name of the photographer and his address is helping very much to identify the photos.

Ben and John Woodhead both came to Australia with their wive's and children. Ben arrived first with his second wife Sarah (nee Clark) and her son John (who took on the Woodhead name). Ben's son Alfred (my ancestor who names Sarah as his mother) and their daughter Fanny. They arrived in Adelaide in 1851 but Ben did not like the climate (it was an extremely hot summer by newspaper accounts) so the family moved on to Melbourne a few months later.
John arrived with his wife Martha and their 3 children in 1858, they arrived in Melbourne where they settled.

Martha Woodhead (nee Wardall)  died in 1860 and John entered into a relationship with Margaret Savage and they had four childen, 2 died with days of their births, Fanny died aged 12 years but Walter did marry and have a daughter. John and Margaret parted ways and he married Jeanie Kirkland and they had five children.

From the photo album I was able to identify photos of the five children of John and Margaret. Names were written on the back and the photographer's name and address gave me approximate years the photos were taken so they all fitted into place.

There were also other photos that I eventually identified as John Clark and his family, these were Sarah's brother and his children and that of his mother Elizabeth Clark (Bell) who was born in 1806, the photo taken in Kendall in 1878. I though that was pretty impressive!.

The photos that really held my attention however were six that were taken in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. The Woodhead family came from Almondbury, which I liken to be a suburb of Huddersfield.
These photos consisted of two older ladies then four younger adults, again 2 ladies and 2 gentlemen.
I was sure these were the sisters of Benjamin and John and their children. My problem was I could not find marriages for these sisters. The younger people had the names, Frank, Tom, Louisa and Emily written on the back.

Months looking at possible marriages the following up with the census and the names of the children came to nothing but I was not willing to give up.

I was looking at these photos a few weeks back when I realised that one of the ladies was quite elderly. I then believed the photo of that of Fanny Woodhead and was more than excited by this.
A few weeks later I realised I had looked for John (Ben's Father) in the census but had not looked for Fanny. So I went looking, I put in Frances as this had been written on another document I had found. I found a Francis Woodhead living in Almondbury in 1871.
I checked this entry and found she was living with Tom Boothroyd. Tom was the name on one of the photographs. Next door was living Joshua Boothroyd, Ann Boothroyd and their children including, Frank, Louisa and Emily! these were the names on the photos.
From there I was able to check the 1861 census and again that Tom was living with Fanny Woodhead and was listed this time as her grandson, 1871 had him as a border.

I figured then that the older lady was Fanny, the other her daughter Ann (Hannah) and then four of Hannah's children. However I have now found that the photographer was not there in early 1870s but in the later part of 1870s after Fanny had passed away. So now not sure who this lady is. She looks far to old to be Ben's sister.
This is who I believed was Ann Boothroyd (nee Woodhead) she was born Hannah as her older sister was born Ann but she had died as a toddler. The name Ann and Hannah were often interchanged. Ann married Joshua Boothroyd and they had a number of children before she passed away.
I have now found the photographer was not around until after Fanny died so the photo above cannot be her. I am yet to find Mary Woodhead and now wonder if this is Hannah above and Mary is the younger sister.
Update yet again, Ann was the eldest daughter and I believe the photo of the older lady. I have since found the marriage of Hannah, she was older when she married William Heaton. This came about with the will of Fanny Woodhead. So Ann did not die as a toddler, but still have not been able to find Mary.

Australian Birth Death and Marriage records

This is an article written for the Ballarat and District Genealogical Society

How many times do we get told or tell people to always check original sources. Birth, Death and Marriages indexes are a wonderful source, however it is still very easy to be steered in the wrong direction with indexes. An example of this I found recently where a fellow who settled in the Western District had his parents listed on his death certificate. This was fine and both had rather unusual names so had to be them. This was also reflected on a number of trees on Ancestry and each had followed on from those parents, as they were also in Western District, in fact the same town. However, I was not convinced of this, something was not right, his age did not fit comfortably with these parents. He had married in Victoria so I downloaded his marriage certificate.
The name of his mother was not quite the same, very similar and could have been a spelling mistake, as they happen often, but a search of the English records found his birth in England along with his parents and census records.  The couple who were in the same town as he was in Victoria were different people.
Without the original source people were on the wrong track.

So where do you get these certificates. Australia has these state by state and the information differs as well.

While the Registry began recording births, marriages and deaths occurring in Victoria from 1853, it also holds records of church baptisms, marriages and burials dating back to 1836. These records are available for public access via VicHeritage™, the Registry's historical research unit. - See more at: . While the Registry began recording births, marriages and deaths occurring in Victoria from 1853, it also holds records of church baptisms, marriages and burials dating back to 1836. These records are available for public access via VicHeritage™, the Registry's historical research unit. - See more at:
While the records from 1836 - 1853 are from NSW, these certificates can be obtained from The Ballarat and District Genealogical Society Inc computers at Ballarat Library. The indexes are also available from the Library  or can be searched for online at .99c per page, and once you have your registration details from the index, certificates can be purchased at $20 each. These can be downloaded from BDM website, just go to historical certificates uncertified. Otherwise you are able to write to BDM for a copy of these certificates.

New South Wales  indexes are on line at
Family history certificates are unrestricted, so no identification is required for:
    Registry records from 1856 to ...
                     births over 100 years
                     deaths over 30 years
                     marriages over 50 years.
    Early church records (1788 - 1855 baptism, marriage, burial)
Search over 18 million records for free...
    ‪‪After viewing search results, your option is to purchase a certificate and obtain all the information available. By supplying a registration number, you get a discounted fee of $31.00 (normally $44.00).
    ‪‪We use the latest high security technology to protect your personal and financial details. On-line certificates are posted by standard mail and do not incur postage fees.
‪‪If you don't want to order online, you have the option to complete a Family history application form and mail it in. Again, if you supply the registration number, you receive the discounted fee.
Ask a family history transcription agent
Family history transcription agents provide full and partial transcriptions, or verification of details. A good idea if you only need the facts, and not full certified copies of certificates. For more details and fees, see below.
    Marilyn Rowan | Tel 61 (2) 4658 1206 | Fax 61 (2) 4658 1296
Email | Web
    Joy Murrin | Tel 61 (2) 9585 1187 | Fax 61 (2) 9585 1486
Email | Web
Laurie Turtle | Tel 61 (2) 4573 1559 | Fax 61 (2) 4573 0536
Email | Web

Here you can search the indexes free, and can also download a certificate on line for $20.
Available birth records
    1825 to 1890 images and certificates
    1891 to 1913 certificates
Available death records
    1825 to 1890 images and certificates
    1891 to 1898 certificates only
    1899 to 1915 images or certificates
    1916 to 1964 certificates only
    1965 to 1979 images and certificates
    1980 to 1983 certificates only
Available marriage records
    1825 to 1889 images and certificates
    1890 to 1938 certificates only
Western Australia
The registry offers free online historic index searching of births, deaths and marriages from 1841. At
If you successfully find an entry and would like to order a copy, click on the 'order' link alongside the search result. This will pop up a new window with an order form (PDF) pre-populated with the relevant details.
Birth, death or marriage certificate at least 75 years old, when the registration number and registration district are provided - $31
From here, either:
    enter the applicant's details online, save the application form to your local drive and print
    print the application form and complete the applicant's details offline.
    sign and post the form with a cheque or money order* to the postal address listed on the form; or
    sign, complete credit card details and post the form to the postal address listed on the form.
* Cheques or money orders should be made payable to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Overseas applicants must pay in Australian dollars using an international money order or bank draft.
Note: Orders cannot be submitted by fax, email, telephone or online.
South Australia
What you Can Search
You are about to search the following Genealogy SA databases:
    Newspaper Birth Notices Index from 1960 onwards
    Newspaper Death Notices Index from 1972 onwards
    South Australia Cemeteries Index
    Birth Registration Certificates Index 1842 - 1928
    Death Registration Certificates Index 1842 - 1972
    Marriage Registration Certificates Index 1842 - 1937
 The default name setting is for an exact search. An exact search will give a null result if there are leading or embedded blanks in the name, and also apostrophes or other punctuation symbols.
Potential clients need to be aware that a range of certificate styles have been used over the years, with each different version holding different amounts of information. The cost is $22 per transcription request, Member discounts apply.
Full certificate prices are $44.75 with no discounts for Family History.
To apply for South Australian certificates you can go to

These indexes are available at the Library in the Australiana Room Ballarat. These may also be available at your local Library. The certificates are also attached to these. Search in Tasmania is expensive so asking at your local library is best

Registration of births, deaths and marriages commenced in 1839 in Tasmania, the first Australian colony to take over the function previously conducted by the Churches.
The Registry holds and can produce certificates for:
    church records (burials, baptisms and marriages) from 1803 - 1839
    birth, death and marriage registrations from 1839 to date
Access to birth records is available to anyone after 100 years.  Access to marriage records is available to anyone after 75 years.  Access to death records is available to anyone after 25 years. .
Please Note:  The Tasmanian Registry does not have an online search facility to access birth, death and marriage records.