Meeting new Green cousins

Last Saturday we met some cousins on the Green side of the family that we had not met before when we met Rupert and Sarah McKerron for coffee. Rupert is Val’s fourth cousin on the Green side of the family, and though we had been in correspondence with people from that side of the family, it was good to meet some face to face.

Val Hayes with Rupert & Sarah McKerron 14 May 2016

Val Hayes with Rupert & Sarah McKerron 14 May 2016

Rupert and Sarah have a bush cottage that they named after the Green brothers, and we met to swap stories about them.

The Green family came to the Eastern Cape about 1846. The paterfamilias, William Goodall Green, who was born in Quebec in 1790, was in the Commissariat Department of the British Army based in Newfoundland, when he was transferred to the Cape Colony, probably as part of a boosting of British military strength because of the War of the Axe (1846-1850). William Green’s wife Margaret had died a couple of years earlier, and some of their 15 children died young, but quite a number of them seem to have come to southern Africa at that time.

Henry Green, the eldest, and Rupert’s ancestor, had followed his father into the commissariat department, and accompanied a British force led by Major Harold Warden to what was then called Trans-Orangia (now the Free State province). After establishing British authority and defeating the short-lived Republic of Winburg at the Battle of Boomplaats Warden was appointed British Resident of what became the Orange River Sovereignty, and he established a capital on the farm Bloemfontein. Henry Green succeeded Warden as British Resident in 1852, but his post lapsed in 1854 when the Sovereignty was abandoned and the republic of the Oranje-Vrijstaat was established.

Another of the Green brothers, Edward, joined the Cape Mounted Rifles, took part in the War of the Axe, and was wounded in the thigh. He married Emily Ogilvie of Grahamstown, and after having two children they left, Emily to stay with family in England, and Edward to India, and later to China, where he took part in the Opium Wars, the aim of which was to persuade the Chinese government to lift its embargo in the importation of drugs. Edward Green never returned either to the Cape Colony or Canada, but eventually settled in New Zealand.

Three other brothers, Charles, Fred and Arthur, went to Bloemfontein. Arthur, the youngest, got a job in his brother Henry’s office, while Charles and Fred, aged 25 and 21 respectively, set out to the north-west on a hunting expedition. In those days elephant hunting and the sale of ivory must have seemed like an easy way for young men to earn a living. Charles and Fred Green returned to Bloemfontein as their base after each hunting season, and spent their holidays playing billiards and cards with the soldiers, and taking them on hunting trips on nearby farms. Fred (Val’s great great grandfather) seems to have planned to settle there, because he bought a plot of land in Bloemfontein.

Charles and Fred were friends with the Bakwena chief Setshele (his name is sometimes spelt Sechele), and left cattle in his care when they went west up the Boteti (or Botletle) River to Lake Ngami, where tsetse flies were bad for cattle (follow the links to read more about their journeys). On their return they found that their cattle had been looted by Boer raiders from the Transvaal, who had also wrecked David Livingstone’s house in Kolobeng, and abducted hundreds of women and children as slaves.

Charles and Fred took Setchele with them to lay his complaints before the British government, in the person of their brother Henry, but he was told by his superior, the Governor of the Cape Colony, that since the signing of the Sand River Convention in 1852 the British government took no official interest in events north of the Vaal River. Charles Green may have accompanied Setshele back home, and then possibly went to Australia, perhaps with his sister Agnes, whose first child, Caroline Wilson, was born in Sydney in 1854.

After reconnoitering trade routes to east and west, Fred Green seems to have decided that the western route was safer, and made his base in Damaraland, later called Hereroland, and now part of Namibia, and spent the rest of his life there. Charles joined him a couple of years later, but was drowned in the Okavango River when his boat was upset by a hippo in the early 1860s. I don’t think Fred ever saw any of his siblings again.

Fred married three times. We know nothing of his first wife, other than that her name was Dixon and they had no children. The second was Sarah uaKandendu Kaipukire, a Herero princess. They had a daughter, but parted when the Hereros did not want her to accompany him to the Cape Colony. One of her descendants, Mburumba Kerina, is credited with the invention of the name Namibia.The third wife was Catherine Agnes Anne Stewardson, They had seven children, of whom four died young. Of the surviving ones, Fred Vincent Green was Val;s great grandfather.

Henry disappeared for 6 years, married his cousin Margaret Aitchison in England, and returned to the Cape Colony in 1860 as Civil Commissioner and Magistrate of Colesberg. His wife and two children died soon after their arrival, but she still lives on as the family ghost. He married again to Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, and had several children by her, and many of the Green descendants in southern Africa come from them. When diamonds were discovered near Kimberley Henry Green went with a syndicate to work them, became a member of the legislative assemby for Griqualand West, and then retired to his farm near Barkly West, where he died in 1884.

Arthur Green became a photographer, and achieved some fame as a pioneer in that field. His daughter Agnes married twice and had children, some of whom were born in Canada, but eventually returned to South Africa. We met one of his descendnats some years ago, Doreen Armstrong of Pinetown, who was also interested in the family history.

Agnes Green, who went to Australia, married four times (twice to the same man). Her first husband was William Wilson, who drowned in the Tuross River in New South Wales. She next married Alfred Dawson Francis, who may have caused a stir in Durban  as Alfred Francis Dawson. He committed suicide, and she then married William McLean Thwaites, once bigamously in Sydney, and the second time after the birth of their four children, in Adelaide. Though she never returned to South Africa, some of the grandchildren of each of her marriages did. Caroline Wilson, the eldest daughter, went to New Zealand to stay with her uncle Edward Lister Green. She married  Roy Ashley Warre Brathwaite, and one of their children, Frank Brathwaite, came to South Africa and made a name for himself as a racing tipster. Arthur Walpole Francis, a son of her second marriage, lived at Langlaagte, near Johannesburg, and made contact with several of Fred Green’s family, who had moved to the Transvaal after his death. One of his daughters married a coffee planter from Tanganyika, and was caught in Germany diring the first and second world wars. One of her sons was killed in the German army during the invasion of Poland in 1939. Her letters to her sister in Sydney provide a fascinating insight into the history of that side of the family.

Another member of the Francis side of the family was Peter Bridges, whom we met in Johannesburg, and whose granddaughter Jenny was at the same school as our daughter Bridget for a while. Peter discovered that on his mother’s side he was descended from another of the Green siblings, Caroline, who married Robert Leslie Cowan and died of cholera in Shanghai in 1863.

So the Green brothers had interesting lives, and seem to have spread the family to many different parts of the world, with quite a number from several branches still living in South Africa and Namibia.

Linking the Growdens

When we started researching our family history more than 40 years ago, one of the things we soon discovered about the Growdon or Growden family was that everyone said they came from Cornwall, and that they were all related. Louise Deragowski of New Orleans, one of the first Growden researchers we made contact with, quoted another relative as saying that “they lived so close, they traded roosters”.

My mother was Ella Growdon, and her father George Growdon came from Cornwall in 1876 at the age of three, when his father, William Matthew Growden, came to work in the Cape Government Railways, building the rail line inland from East London. We soon traced his ancestry though is father Matthew Growden, and his father William Growden, who married Elizabeth Saundercock, and there we were stuck. It took a couple of years to be fairly certain my my relationship with Louise Deragowski (she was my 4th cousin). She was in contact with lots of others, including Sylvia Reebel, who researched the Pennsylvania Growdens, and we all owe a great debt to those two, because much of what we know comes from them, though they never did manage to discover how they were related.

We discovered some other Growden families, who came from the same area of Cornwall, but no links between them. We made a Growdon family web page, and invited members of the various Growden families to help us find the links between them. Then Marguerite Growden, who was originally from Australia, and is now living in Canada, discovered some Growden baptisms in Withiel, Cornwall, that seems to provide the missing links that draw all these families together.

Withiel, Cornwall, where the Growden family lived in the early 18th century.

Withiel, Cornwall, where the Growden family lived in the early 18th century.

Laurence Growden married Elizabeth Vanson in Withiel in 1719, and had four children, Laurence, Matthew, Joseph and Elizabeth. Most of the Growden families in the world today are descended from Laurence and Joseph.

Laurence Growden the younger (1721-1787) married Joanna Thomas, and they are the ancestors of the South African, Australian, Canadian, Lancashire, Tennessee, Louisiana and Alaska Growdens,

Joseph Growden (1726-1811) married Grace Jeffery and they are the ancestors of the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, California, and Yorkshire Growdens.

The exception to this is the New Zealand Growdens, who are descended from Edwin Williams alias Edwin Growden, who was the stepson of Thomas Growden who married Edwin’s mother Charlotte Hawke. Edwin took his stepfather’s name and passed it on to his descendants.

Louisiana Growdens: Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden and Lori Growden Murphy at Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

Louisiana Growdens: Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden, Lori Growden Murphy, and Thomas Bradley (Brad) Growden at the Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

Some of these links are based on circumstantial evidence, but they seem the most likely explanations of the relationships that we have been able to find.

Grave of George Growden and Ann Maynard, ancestors of the Australian Growdens, in Wallaway, South Australia.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Grave of George Growden and Ann Maynard, ancestors of the Australian Growdens, in Wallaway, South Australia (click to enlarge).

Marguerite Growden, who found these links, has also written a book on the Australian branch of the Growdens, and so when it comes out a whole lot more people can find it interesting, knowing that she is writing about our cousins. Though some of the other branches of the Growden family have descendants in Australia, most of those bearing the surname Growden are descended from George Growden and Ann Maynard, who emigrated from Cornwall to South Australia in 1864.

Most branches of the family seem to have used the spellings Growden and Growdon interchangeably, and a few earlier records have the spelling Grouden. But most seem to use the Growden spelling. Our South African branch seems to have used the Growdon spelling almost exclusively.




Growden siblings

Brad Growden of New Orleans just discovered that today (or was it yesterday?) was world sibling day. He’d never heard of it, and neither had I, but it was a good excuse for posting this photo of himself and his siblings on Facebook. Trouble is, stuff posted on Facebook is often impossible to find after yesterday, and this one was too good not to share, so to all Growden and Growdon cousins out there, here are your New Orleans cousins.

Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden and Lori Growden Murphy at Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden, Lori Growden Murphy and Thomas Bradley Growden at Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

For those who want to know the details, Thomas Bradley GROWDEN (& siblings) and Stephen HAYES are 4th cousins 2 times removed.  Their common ancestors are William GROWDEN and Elizabeth Couch SAUNDERCOCK, who were married at St Meubred’s Church, Cardinham, Cornwall, England on 26 November 1792.

Brad is descended from William, the eldest son of William Growden and Elizabeth Saundercock (or Sandercock), who, with his son Henry, emigrated from Cornwall to Australia. Henry Growden later moved to New Zealand, and his son, the Revd Arthur Matthew Growden was a missionary who travelled all over and eventually settled in Tennessee, USA. One branch of his descendants moved to the New Orleans area of Louisiana, while another went to Alaska. Brad’s great-aunt, Monica Louise Deragowski, who collected much of this family history, said someone had once told her that in Cornwall the Growden families were so close that they traded roosters. That certainly isn’t the case today, where the different branches are widely scattered.

My own branch are not so widely scattered. Matthew Growden, the fourth son of William Growden and Elizabeth Saundercock, seems to have stayed in Cornwall all his life, and died in the Bodmin Workhouse at the age of 83. His son William Matthew Growden (my great grandfather) emigrated to the Cape Colony in about 1876, where he became a platelayer on the Cape Government Railways, eventually rising to the rank of permanent way inspector.

So, does anyone know if there is a world cousins day?


Alfred Francis Dawson and Alfred Dawson Francis

One of the minor mysteries of Natal history in the 1850s has been the identity of a mysterious Alfred Francis Dawson, who is described in Shelagh O’Byrne Spencer’s British Settlers In Natal:

Wine merchant. Dawson and his wife Octavia (?c. 1832-24 May 1852, Durban) emigrated to Natal on the Dreadnought. There are many unanswered questions about this family. To begin with, it is uncertain as to what their surname was — Dawson or Francis. In the burial register of St Paul’s there is an entry for their son Frederick, dated Mar 1850. The child was buried under the name Dawson, but an asterisk has been put next to the surname and the annotation ‘Francis not Dawson’ has been added, and signed by Revd W.H.C. Lloyd. The other entries in the St Paul’s registers (Apr 1851, Jan 1852 and May 1852) all give the surname Francis. Despite this, Dawson went by the name Dawson in Durban society. The only inkling of anything different comes in a letter from Thomas Roberts, J.C. Byrne’s confidential clerk, to the Government in Nov 1850, in which he refers to ‘Mr Dawson alias Francis’ (Spencer 1989:93 ff).

When I read this a few years ago, I wondered if it was the same person who had married Agnes Green in Australia. It now seems probable that it is, and we can construct an outline of the life of Alfred John Francis, alias Alfred Dawson Francis, alias Alfred Francis Dawson.

Alfred John Francis was born in or near Liverpool, Lancashire, England, about 1820, and his father was John Francis. In 1842 he married Christiana Fox Dean, and their first son, Dean Francis, was born in 1843. Another son, whos name may have been Alfred, was born about 1844, but this is uncertain. A third son, Frederick Thomas Francis, was born in 1846, again, in or near Liverpool. Then in 1847 Christiana Fox Francis died.

Two years later, in about July 1849, Alfred John Francis remarried, to Octavia Cecilia Waring, also in Liverpool, and the following month they seem to have boarded the Dreadnought, sailing from London for Durban. The Dreadnought was an emigrant ship, carrying Byrne settlers to Natal, but Alfred and Octavia Francis travelled cabin class, which means that they must have paid for their passage, and not been part of the Byrne settlers party. They also travelled under the name of Mr & Mrs Dawson, and on arrival in Natal were known by the name Dawson, though, as Shelagh Spencer notes, some knew their real name.

The children do not appear to have travelled with them, and Shelagh Spencer notes that two Masters Francis arrived on the Hannah from  Cape Town in February 1850. These could have been Dean Francis, then aged 7, and Frederick Thomas, then aged about 4.  The third child may have been the mysterious Alfred, who would then have been aged about 6. The question arises, then, why these children did not travel with their father and stepmother, and where they stayed in the mean time. Who looked after three children under 10 on the voyage? Did they stay in Liverpool and leave later? Did they travel to Cape Town and stay there for a while? If so, with whom? Were Alfred and his new young bride wanting to enjoy a honeymoon voyage without the kids? The youngest child, Frederick Thomas, died in May 1850. Octavia then gave birth to Fairfax George Francis in December 1850, but he died just over a year later.

Dawson/Francis was cited in a divorce case by John Ross Melcolm Watson, who said his wife had committed adultery with Alfred Dawson of Pinetown. The Watsons had arrived in Durban on the Hannah, the ship that has brought the Francis children. According to Shelagh Spencer, Alfred Dawson/Francis had several other extramarital affairs, and may have left some illegitimate children when he left Natal. Mrs Watson, however, was more than a match for him. After Alfred Dawson/Francis had left Natal J.R.M. Watson went into business with my great great grandfather Richard Vause at Tugela Drift, which they named Colenso after the Bishop of Natal. The Watsons later moved to Ladysmith, and Mrs Watson also had an affair with Isaiah Solomon before eloping with Herbert Stanbridge from Ladysmith in April 1860, accompanied by her daughter Theresa who eloped with Frederick William Beningfield.

Octavia Francis was very ill in April 1852, and had no sooner recovered than she was drowned in a boating accident in Durban Bay on 24 May 1852. Spencer notes

Dawson was still in Natal early in July 1852. There is no sign of his departure from the Colony unless he was the Mrs Francis who with two children left in Aug 1852. They sailed for Algoa Bay in the steamer Sir Robert Peel.

Alfred John Francis then went to Australia, and on 9 January 1858 he was married to Margaret Agnes Anne Wilson, a widow, according to the rites of the Episcopalian Church, at Gundary in the district of Broulee, New South Wales. He is described as a farmer, and one of the witnesses to the marriage was his eldest son from his first marriage, Dean Francis, who would then have been about 14. Alfred is recorded in the marriage register as Alfred John Dawson Francis.

He was later a miner and storekeeper, and went insolvent in 1860. Four children were born to the marriage, though there is some doubt about the last, Louisa Francis, as she was born after her father’s death, and possibly conceived in his absence.

Alfred John Dawson Francis left his wife in the Bodalla district (on the south coast of New South Wales) and went to Sydney where he lived for four months before committing suicide by taking cyanide on 8 March 1864. He is buried in the Camperdown Cemetery, New South Wales.

One of their sons, Arthur Walpole Francis, went to Johannesburg, and after the First World War farmed at Mariental in what is now Namibia. Their descendants went to East Africa, Germany, South Africa and Canada, and possibly several other parts of the world as well.

Their daughter Edith married William Throsby Bridges, a soldier, who founded the Duntroon Military College near Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (and where his mother-in-law had been a teacher many years before). Their descendants live in Australia, South Africa and the UK.

Louisa, the youngest, whose parentage is in some doubt, has descendants in Australia, among them Bob Cowley, who has done much research on the Australian side of the family history, and to whom I am indebted for much of the information in this and other posts on this family.

Here is a summary of the information we have on the family:

Family Group Report
For: Alfred John Dawson Francis  (ID=  945)                      
Date Prepared: 11 Nov 2011 

NAME: FRANCIS, Alfred John Dawson, Born ??? 1820? in Liverpool,  
  England, Died 5 Mar 1864 in Sydney, NSW at age 44; FATHER:  
  FRANCIS, John; He married Christiana Dean and had three  
  children in Liverpool. She died and then he married Octavia  
  Waring, and almost immediately sailed for Durban on the  
  Dreadnought, with the children following later in the Hannah.  
  In 1852 he went to New South Wales, where he married Agnes  
  Wilson (born Green). 

MARRIED 9 Jan 1858 in Gundary, NSW, to GREEN, Margaret Agnes Ann,
  Born 8 Dec 1835 in Nova Scotia, Died 26 Dec 1902 in  
  Marrickville, NSW, AUS at age 67; FATHER: GREEN, William John  
  (Goodall), Born 28 Aug 1790, Died 9 Apr 1866 at age 75;  
  MOTHER: GRAY, Margaret, Born 18 May 1795, Died 11 May 1844? at 
  age 48; Witness: Dean Francis. He was a widower, she a widow,  
  both of Bodalla.; Came to Cape Colony at age of 11 with father 
  and brothers. Married William Wilson while still young and  
  emigrated to Australia. 

MARRIED 31 Jul 1849 in Liverpool, LAN, ENG, to WARING, Octavia  
  Cecilia, Born ??? 1832, Died 24 May 1852 in Durban, Natal at  
  age 20 

MARRIED 14 Jul 1842 in W. Derby, LAN, ENG, to DEAN, Christiana  
  Fox, Died Nov 1847 in W. Derby, LAN, ENG 

 1. M  FRANCIS, Dean, born ??? 1843, died ???; Married 24 Jan  
       1865 to BOOT, Eliza Angelina Hopkinson 
 2. M  FRANCIS, Alfred, born ??? 1844, died ??? 
 3. M  FRANCIS, Frederick Thomas, born May 1846 in W. Derby, LAN,
       ENG, died Mar 1850 in Durban, Natal 
 4. M  FRANCIS, Fairfax George, born Dec 1850 in Durban, Natal,  
       died Jan 1852 in Durban, Natal 
 5. F  FRANCIS, Ada Anne Angeline Fairfax, born 10 Mar 1859 in  
       Bodalla, NSW, AUS, died 9 Nov 1938 in Ashfield, NSW, AUS; 
       Married 1 Aug 1894 to WHITE, William 
 6. M  FRANCIS, Arthur Walpole, born 7 Jan 1861 in Moruya, NSW,  
       died 8 May 1921 in Mariental Dist. SWA; Married 2 Nov  
       1887 to DONOVAN, Ida Miranda Willoughby; 3 children 
 7. F  FRANCIS, Edith Lilian, born 20 Aug 1862 in Yarragee, NSW, 
       died 13 Oct 1926 in Melbourne, Vic. Aust.; Married 10 Oct 
       1885 to BRIDGES, William Throsby; 7 children 
 8. F  FRANCIS, Louisa, born 3 Nov 1864 in Queanbeyan, NSW, died 
       18 Mar 1943 in Tenterfield, NSW; Married 24 Dec 1883 to  
       COWLEY, Percy; 10 children

Some mysteries still remain:

1. Why they travelled to Durban under the name Dawson.
2. Why the children travelled separately
3. Who looked after the children (all under 10) on the voyage to Durban.

So research continues…


Spencer, Shelagh O’Byrne. 1989. British settlers in Natal, 1824-1857: a biographical register. Vol 5. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press.

Family history ups and downs

Over the last year we seem to have been jumping wildly from one branch of the family tree to another. Usually a breakthrough in one branch keeps us working almost exclusively on that for a month or two, and then a breakthrough in another branch gets us busy on that. For the last couple of months it has been the Ellwood family of Cumbria.

We had the family in Whitehaven, Cumberland, and have been chugging along finding a cousin here and a cousin there, going through microfilms of parish registers collecting all the people with names we were interested in, trying to reconstruct families and see what fitted. Then we discovered that the Ellwoods originally came from Westmorland, and that opened up a lot that we are still trying to catch up with.

Before that, in April and May, it was the Hannans. That was mostly because we went on holiday to the Western Cape, visiting relatives, and most of the relatives we saw were on the Hannan side of the family. And also managed to find a few of the Scottish relatives on Facebook, though we haven’t followed that up much yet.

At the beginning of the year it was the Mortons of Colchester in Essex. Val’s great great grandmother came from there and we knew her father’s name from her marriage certificate, and that was about all. Then we found her brothers and sisters, including two sisters who married on the same day as her and came to the Cape Colony, and an uncle Henry Morton who was transported to Australia.

And this time last year it was the Bagot and Cottam families of Lancashire,. where we found a whole bunch of ancestors and descendants we hadn’t known about before, including some who were interested in the family history, and with whom, we were able to share information.

For the moment we are still being kept busy with the Ellwoods, but I’m wondering what next.

Ellwood descendants in Australia

We have recently discovered quite a number of Ellwood descendants who went to Australia, and have made contact with some of these families. The family group sheets that follow show the emigrant generation, and, in some cases, the immediately preceding one in Cumbria.
Margaret Ellwood and Thomas Litster 

This is the one that is closest to us, since Margaret Ellwood was the sister of Val’s great grandfather Thomas Ellwood. They were children of John Ellwood and Bridget Anderson of Whitehaven, Cumberland. Thomas Litster had been married before, and had two children of his first marriage. Two children of the second marriage were born in Cumberland, and the remainder in Australia, where they emigrated in 1886.

Children of John Ellwood and Ann Bellas 

These are much less closely related to us, since the connection to a common ancestor lies several generations further back. Some of the children, and some of their children and some of their grandchildren emigrated. As with the Litster family, they seem to have initially gone to Victoria, and we wonder if they were in contact with each other there, and if they knew that they were related. We are in touch with some descendants of both families, and hope to learn more about the other descendants. See more details in the linked file. If you are related to any of these families, please get in touch with us. We would like to learn more about them.

EllAus1.pdf Download this file

Agnes Green – education pioneer

Margaret Agnes Ann Green (known as Agnes) would have been about 11 when her father was transferred to the Cape Colony from Canada. She was born in Nova Scotia, where her father, William Green, was in the commissariat department of the British Army, and her mother, Margaret Gray, died when she was about 9 or 10. Several of her brothers went on to make names for themselves in southern Africa, but she soon left for New South Wales.

She married William Wilson, presumably at the Cape, when she was about 15 or 16, and went with him to Australia in about 1853 on the Countess of Yarborough. Their first child was born at Sydney early in 1854. They moved to Moruya, about 300 km south of Sydney, soon afterwards, and her husband was storekeeper on the Kiora Estate. He was drowned in the Tuross River in April 1856, leaving her a widow at the age of 20 with two young children, one aged 2 years and the other 8 months.

In 1858, at the age of 22, she married again to Alfred Dawson Francis. Between them they had four children, and went on to have another four, and continued to live at Moruya.

Francis committed suicide in 1864. Agnes was then 28 years old, and had four young children, ranging in age from almost 10 to 18 months, and was pregnant with a fifth (her second child had died five years previously). There was not much chance of opening a school at Moruya, so she moved inland to Queanbeyan, New South Wales, and opened a school there, which later became the Queanbeyan public school. Perhaps it was because it would have been impractical for her to run a school and look after a toddler that she left the youngest, Edith Lilian, with the McLeod family of Bateman’s Bay (also on the south coast, just north of Moruya). Her assistant teacher was a Miss Goote, who later married her brother Alfred.

The new school was recognised as a National School in August 1864, but met with some opposition from local clergy, especially the Anglicans and Presbyterians. who preferred denominational schools. This, coupled with the fact that the school was just across the road from the Methodist Church, may be why she was a Methodist in later years. There were several incidents of harassment, with people prowling in the garden and windows being broken.

When the new baby arrived, she found it difficult to make ends meet, and Captain E.M. Battye, a former military officer turned policeman, persuaded her to leave the youngest child, Louisa, with them. Captain Battye had been stationed in Nova Scotia, and so knew Agnes Francis’s family, and no doubt knew her as she was growing up there (letter from Caroline Brathwaite to her niece Katie Pollock, see Cowley 1996:198). Caroline claimed that Captain Battye was with her grandfather (William Goodall Green) at the Cape Colony, but the dates make this seem unlikely, and it is more likely that they knew each other in Nova Scotia, since the Battyes went to New South Wales in 1847, about the time that the Greens went to the Cape.

It is possible too that Captain Battye was the natural father of Louisa, since Alfred Dawson Francis died 8 months before she was born, and had been living away from the family, in Sydney, for four months before his death.

Agnes Francis sent in her resignation in June 1865, barely a year after starting the school, and after an unsuccessful attempt to take private pupils moved to Sydney, probably before the end of 1865.

The family had not been in Sydney long when her eldest daughter, Caroline Wilson, was sent to stay with her brother Edward Lister Green in New Zealand.

In 1871 Agnes married Walter William McLean Thwaites in Sydney, and had four more children by him. She married him again in Adelaide in 1879, after the birth of their children (his first wife was still alive at the time of their first marriage – see Cowley 1996:82). In 1887 she was back at Queanbeyan, trying to open another school.

According to Bruce McLeod, a relation said she remarried “Napoleon Wilson in 1869, possibly a member of her family”). According to her death certificate, she was born in Nova Scotia, North America, and she had lived 3 years in South Australia, 4 years in Victoria, and 20 years in N.S. Wales. Her first marriage took place in Cape Town, South Africa, when she was 15 years old.

Her three years in South Australia were possibly at the time of her second marriage to Thwaites, though they do not seem to have stayed together long after that.

She was the “Arthur Francis’s mother” who had a letter from “Judge Wiekalet” (probably Gustavus Wicksteed, who married her mother’s sister). This letter, of which handwritten copies circulated among the family in South Africa, contributed to the legend of royal descent. Margaret A.A. Green also received a monthly pension from the Bank of Montreal, of which her grandfather John Gray was founder and first president.

She seems to have had a pretty tough life, and none of her three husbands seem to have been much of a support to her.

There is more about her on our Family Wiki site.

Much of the research on her life was done by Bob Cowley of New South Wales, who wrote a comprehensive (though unpublished) history of the Cowley, Green and related families of Australia. Agnes Green’s son-in-law was Sir William Throsby Bridges, who founded the Australian military college at Duntroon, near where she had opened her pioneer school.


This post is part of a Carnival of Genealogy on Women’s History. Click the link to read some of the other posts.