The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

After many, many years I have finally cracked the case of my mysterious ancestor Edward Douglas - the first Douglas of my family line to arrive in Australia.

Edward was the son of James Douglas - the only recorded child to James and his unknown wife. He was born in 1824 

Records on ancestry.com suggests that Edward was born in Birmingham. Evidence on this same site suggests he lived in the Warwickshire until the age of 19. 

It appears that life at that time for him was difficult. At the age of 18 he was convicted of Larceny and sentenced to 14 days. Unfortunately for Edward he didn't learn from that experience and the following year, 1839, he was convicted of Housebreaking and he was sentenced to 10 years - to be served in the colony of New South Wales. His indenture at Warwick recorded him as a Blacksmith - a rewarding occupation at the time. So it seems strange he turned to stealing. 

And so, on the 31st of July 1839 Edward and 336 other convicts sailed aboard the Barossa, never to see their native land again. They arrived at New South Wales on 8 December 1839.

Edward must have been a model prisoner and only served five of his ten year sentence. On the 18th of June 1844 he was granted a 'Ticket-of-leave'. One telling clue to his movements in Australia was recorded on his ticket that he was allowed to remain in the district of Mudgee (about four hours drive north-west of Sydney).

This suggests that he was employed as a farm labourer - a common practice by early settlers to use convict labour to clear the land, build homes, tend to animals and crops.  

I must have been during this time that he learned the farming trade and soon after securing his release he took up a selection of land north of Tamworth at a locality known as Bendemeer. It was here on the 26th of July 1859 Edward married Susannah Miller.

Edward and Susannah went on to have ten children (three died in infancy).  My Grandfather George, like most of rest of Edward and Susannah's surviving kids enjoyed long lives and many children too. This entire branch of the Douglas family featured heavily throughout the New England District between Tamworth and Armidale culminating in a street in Armidale named Douglas Street.

In fact literally hundreds of people owe their lives and existence in Australia to Edward and Susannah. 

Sadly Edward took his own life on 14 July 1883. The details of which remains a mystery for now. 

But what of his father James Douglas? The only record about him indicates that he was born about 1800 at Maidenhead, Scotland.


Now I know that 'Maidenhead' doesn't exist in Scotland. In fact it is a city just to the west of London. But this sadly is what has been passed down from word of mouth for perhaps over a hundred and fifty years.

I'm extremely relieved to have this mystery solved about Edward. Now to dig deeper and discover James......

 

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Comment by Andrew Douglas on Tuesday

Thanks William. Peter Douglas is my cousin and has done a great job researching. He has cracked the enigma that led to this story. 

As to which 'Maidenhead' James comes from (if the story is true) is now the mystery to solve. 

Comment by William Douglas on Monday
Comment by William Douglas on November 13, 2017 at 11:31

??? Maidenhead Bay, Wigtonshire, Scotland - just north of Port Logan, 

Taken from this map: http://maps.nls.uk/view/74431150

Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?


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