22 May, 2010

who do you think you are?

i'm seriously lucky to have a mum with facebook. you put up a little comment about watching, 'who do you think you are?' and wondering what is lurking in your dna. this is what i got back.

my ancestors were a heady mix of several convicts, lots of thieves, a madame and that's just in the 17 and 1800s. a few more colourful characters since then but, according to mum, all lines lead to ireland. four leaf clovers, guinness, leprechauns, binge drinking and casual violence. add to this a 15 year old convict who came to australia on the second fleet. when he died, 1839, he was recorded to be worth 11 million pounds. that's a lot of money now, back then he was a venerable bill gates.

just one wonderful story: my grandmother used to visit HER grandmother (my great-great grandmother) every sunday and at the insistence of her great-aunties was not allowed to tell her grandmother that her mother (ellen) had died. four months later old grannie was dead too. now, this is where things get hilarious. turns out, grandma (aka. eliza stephens) in her youth was arrested for 'keeping a disorderly house' and in 1870 was sentenced to 3 years, which she served in the uk and then immigrated to australia. married a nice wealthy farmer and proceeded to pump out 5 kids, the eldest being ellen. the name 'ellen' (which is my and my mums middle name) came from this line. mr. wealthy farmer's mother died when he was 10 years old and his younger sister was 2 years old; they were reportedly close and her name was ellen. he named his first daughter after is younger sister and it has stuck through generations.

anyway, this whole line goes back to the 15 year old kid that came out on the famous ship 'the scarborough' with the second fleet. that kids name was jonathan griffiths. follow that link for details but the cut down version is he was arrested for stealing 5 pounds worth of stuff and sentenced to 'seven years transportation'. he arrived on norfolk island in 1790 and began learning how to build ships. he moved to sydney in 1795 and later began building ships to use in the carriage of grain up and down the nsw coast. his family later relocated to victoria were the began farming and (oops unpc alert) whaling. he died in his 80th year with two wives (not at the same time, thank god), 9 children, a small fortune and an island off the coast of victoria named after him. 12 generations removed from me.....i feel quite insignificant after all that.

i'm so proud. no really, a madame and a self made millionaire, how cool is that?! this is all just my mums side of the family. god only knows what we might find on my dads side....we dare not look.

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