Friday, January 31, 2014

Per Mare, Per Terram

A story about a common enlisted man in the Royal Marines who experienced some rather remarkable sights and events in his 21 years of service. From Africa to the Arctic the lad from Suffolk saw an extraordinary diverse world.

According to his attestation forms, Daniel Bloomfield was born in Stradbrooke, Suffolk, in March of 1818. I have had no luck finding out any information about his parents so he is the terminal end of one branch of my family tree. The name Bloomfield is a medieval English name, perhaps originating in France, long associated with the Norfolk and Suffolk areas of England.

Daniel enlisted in the Royal Marines on the 9th of April, 1840. He is described as being 5' 7" tall, with a dark complexion, hazel eyes, and dark brown hair. His occupation is listed a labourer and he was unable to read or write. He was enlisted by Corporal James Kiffen for a £3 bounty.

In 1841, an expedition known as the Niger Expedition of 1841 was undertaken with the support of the British Government. Private Daniel Bloomfield was assigned to the vessel Wilberforce, under command of William Allen. The Wilberforce was a paddle steamer with a displacement of 340 tons that was built in 1840 as a survey ship.

The expedition was organized by the "Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade Society and for the Civilization of Africa". Speaking at the meeting that set up the expedition was Sir Robert Peel. It's overt purpose was to sign treaties with tribes living along the River Niger and tributaries banning slavery. Covertly, there was an expectation of tying up trade treaties. English missionaries also accompanied the expedition in the hopes of converting the local populations.

After departing Plymouth and by way of Madeira, Tenerife, and Porte Grande, St Vincent, the Wilberforce arrived in Montserado Roads on the coast of Africa.

While meeting some of its objectives, the expedition was regarded as a failure, having paid a terrible price in lives lost. Of the 150 Europeans who took part, 42 died early in the expedition. Fever was a major cause of illness and death. Among the lucky ones were the African participants and Daniel Bloomfield. Somehow he was one of the few white Europeans who avoided disease or misfortune. I'm hoping those hardy genes have made it to his 3rd great grandson!

A full description of the expedition may be found in "A Narrative of the Expedition to the River Niger". Charles Dickens also provided literary commentary in his novel Bleak House.

After returning from the expedition, Daniel served on the HMS Acheron until 1846, shortly before it began a surveying trip of New Zealand (the first after Captain Cook's voyage). This was the second ship to carry the name HMS Acheron. It was a 2-gun, wooden paddle sloop, built at Sheerness Dockyard and launched 23-Aug-1838. It was 150ft long, 33ft wide and of 722 tons. The vessel was armed with 2 x 9pdr guns. 

I have not been able to locate any logs or narratives describing where the Archeron may have traveled during Daniel's service aboard. 

Following his service on the Archeron, Daniel was promoted to the rank of corporal. He began service on the HMS Flamer the day after signing off the Archeron on 21 July, 1846. This vessel was under the command of Commander George Lavie and was active in the Mediterranean. The Flamer was another paddle steamer built in 1831, armed with 6 guns, and with a displacement of 510 tons. It was wrecked off the west coast of Africa in 1850. Daniel, fortunately, had left the vessel on 21 June, 1848.

Between ships now, Daniel found time to meet, court, and marry Emma Goodhew in Hoo, Kent in 1849. They were to have nine children (as far as I can tell), one of whom was my 2nd great grandmother Emma Lucy Bloomfield. The 1851 census has Daniel, Emma, and Emma Lucy living in the Royal Marine Barracks in Chatham, Kent.

The HMS Rattlesnake was the next ship to host Daniel. HMS Rattlesnake was an Atholl-class 28-gun sixth-rate corvette of the Royal Navy launched in 1822. The ship was made famous before Daniel's stint on it, when it was under the command of Captain Owen Stanley (of the "Owen Stanley Range" fame). In December, 1846 Stanley sailed from Portsmouth in charge of HMS Rattlesnake, with the purpose of surveying the seas around the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. The ship called at Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Simon's Town and Mauritius, arriving in Sydney in July 1847. A full narrative of the voyage was written by John MacGillivray in his two volume "Voyage of the Rattlesnake". 

Daniel joined the Rattlesnake on January, 1852, not long after he had been
promoted to the rank of sergeant. Unlike the previous few years, it doesn't appear the Rattlesnake was destined for the warmer climes as he is listed as a recipient of the Arctic Medal for service on the Rattlesnake. A paper by the US Geological Service "Geography and Geology of Alaska - A summary of existing knowledge" reports that:

"In 1853 H. M. S. Rattlesnake, Commander Trollope, wintered at Port Clarence, on the south side of the Seward Peninsula, which some of the crew crossed during the winter.

Further information comes from a short biography of the captain: 

'Promoted commander after the expedition, he was appointed to the command of HMS "Rattlesnake" on the British Naval Supply Voyage, 1853-1854, instructed by the Admiralty to deliver supplies to HMS "Plover" in Bering Strait and to serve as a depot for other vessels engaged in the search for Sir John Franklin's missing expedition. Sailing from England in February 1853, "Rattlesnake" entered the Pacific via the Strait of Magellan, reaching Port Clarence, Alaska, where the expedition wintered after transferring supplies to Plover. After the search for Franklin in Bering Strait was abandoned in August 1854, Trollope returned home. He later retired from the Royal Navy as captain.'

Daniel began service aboard the HMS Wellesley on 15 August, 1857. HMS Wellesley was a
74-gun third rate, named after the Duke of Wellington, and launched in 1815. She captured Karachi for the British, and participated in the First Opium War, which resulted in Britain gaining control of Hong Kong. Thereafter she served primarily as a training ship before gaining the distinction of being the last British ship of the line to be sunk by enemy action and the only one to have been sunk by an air-raid in 1940.

By the time Daniel was aboard, the Wellesley had become a guard ship at Chatham.  At least it gave him time to be with his family. He served on this vessel until April, 1858. It was perhaps during this time Daniel was promoted to the rank of Colour Sergeant.

After this brief duty, Daniel began service aboard the HMS Hydra on 19 June, 1858. It appears Daniel was once more to venture to Africa as the log of the ship shows the following activity during his time of service:
  • 9 Jun 1858 Commissioned at Sheerness.
  • 12 Aug 1858 At Deal. Sailed for the westward.
  • 25 Aug 1858 departed Spithead for the West Coast of Africa, touching at Tenerife, where the American slaver the Nancy was at anchor, discharging her cargo of rum, tobacco and plank, before sailing for the South Coast (i.e. the Congo and Angola) for slaves.
  • 22 Sep 1858 when 50 miles from Sierra Leone a sail was sighted and chased. She was not displaying any colours and had altered her course a number of times for no apparent reason, so an officer was sent over to ascertain her nationality, and from her papers it transpired that she was the French vessel Chance, from Marseilles. An offer was made to note the visit in the ship's log, but this was declined.
  • 2 Oct 1858 at Sierra Leone.
  • 16 Aug 1859 returned to England from the West Coast of Africa.
Daniel retired from the Royal Marines on 9 April 1861 with the rank of Colour Sergeant. He had been at seat for over 13 of those 21 years. The 1871 census shows him living with his family in 2 Ordnance Road, Hounslow, Middlesex. This road is no longer in existence.

Daniel died in 1875. His son Daniel George also joined the Royal Marines at the age of 10 as a drummer. He was later to emigrate to Australia where he was to join the Queensland Naval Brigade (forerunner to the Australian Navy). He had attended the Royal Musical College and was a talented cornet player and conductor. He was responsible for starting bands in the Brisbane area including the Brisbane Metropolitan Band which is still going to this day. His daughter Emma Lucy married George Douglas an emigrated to Brisbane in the late 1880's, where her daughter Helen Mitcheson Bloomfield met and married Adam Kobaroff - the subject of an earlier blog posting. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

You're French so you must know wine

Another family history story although I've taken liberties as this particular individual is not of my bloodline (father-in-law of my 3rd great grand uncle), but his story is so good and so very Australian that I couldn't resist.

Antone L'Andre was born in Nantes France in 1771. His father was Antoine and his mother Maria de Rivieau (keep this name in mind for later). It appears that Antone was captured when the vessel "Comte D'Artois" was captured by the British. On board this ship was 1st lieutenant John Poulden (take note of this surname too).

On 23 May 1800 the Royal Admiral sailed from Portsmouth, England bound for NSW. On board were two French prisoners of war: Francois de Riveau and his cousin Antone L'Andre. They were permitted to come to Australia from England on condition that they spent three years working in the vineyards and giving instructions on winemaking.

"The Landers Vine", by Peter G Christian, reports:

'Governor King received the following from the Duke of Portland that ..."as it appears the soil and climate of New south Wales are favourable to the culture of the grape, there will go out by the royal Admiral, two Frenchmen who were prisoners of war here, and who appear to have a perfect knowledge of the cultivation of the vineyard and the whole process of making wine..." (Ref. Historical Records of Australia).

'Governor King replied to the Duke on 10 March 1801. "The two Frenchmen arrived by the Royal Admiral, who, I observe by your Grace's letter, are sent to cultivate the vine, and making wine, not only for the Crown, but also promoting it on the part of individuals... I have directed the Commissary to pay them Sixty Pounds per year each, for a term of three years.)'

How they got this reputation as vignerons extrordinaires is open to speculation. Granted they were from Nantes on the Loire River and Nantes is famous for its Muscadet wine. However, since they had been languishing as prisoners in Portsmouth Castle, rumours of the newly discovered continent and the settlement of both prisoners and free persons must have been very attractive to the incarcerated. It's not hard to imagine the two cousins coming up with this (plausible) story and planning their future in a land thousands of miles from the cells of Portsmouth.

On that same voyage to Australia was a recent widow Ann Cook (nee Poulden) and her young son. It appears she may have become a widow on that voyage, such were the hazards of marine travel at that time. In any event, romance was somehow kindled on the voyage and two were married by the Reverend Samuel Marsden on 7 February, 1801 shortly after their arrival in the colony. His cousin Francois was a witness at the ceremony where he was listed Francois Durinault (Francois appeared to go under a number of names including de Riveau, Girault, and Durinault).

"The Landers Vine" also describes the cousins' progress with their vineyard:

'For three years Antoine and Francois tended the vines, and during that time several letters about the Frenchmen and their work, were written by King to the Duke of Portland and others. The first letter on 1 March 1802 said in part,"Referring your Grace to my former communications, respecting the two Frenchmen...they have planted one vineyard in as favourable a position as can be found - the plants are doing very well, but unfortunately those vines, that have been sometime planted, have been entirely blighted."

'On 30 October 1802, Governor King wrote to Lord Hogart: "As one of the Frenchmen is sufficient to manage the vines until enough grapes are produced to make wine, which cannot be for two or three years to come (if they succeed), I have employed the other (L'Andre, who is a good cooper) making casks... upwards of 12000 vine cuttings are planted on the side of a hill at Parramatta, formed like a crescent, facing the north which is the best exposition."

'In 1804 Governor King wrote to London: The two Frenchmen, natives of Nantz, who came out in 1800 to manage this object (making wine form grapes) knew very little of the business. They attempted last year to make wine from some of the best grapes that could be collected, but it turned out so bad, that I shall not trouble Your Lordship with the sample I entended sending; and as the Frenchmen had a promise of settling, or having a passage to England, altho' their conduct has not merited that indulgence, I have given one of them (Francois) his choice, the other with his own consent, I shall retain a year longer to see if his progress when left to himself, is better, as he last year made some very good cyder, from peaches, which are now getting very plentiful".'

So, perhaps, we have one of the earliest examples of the great Australian practitioner called the "bullshit artist". Although, to be fair, the terroir of the colony probably didn't resemble the Loire valley. It is noted that Antone was a skilled cooper, so his viticulture credentials may have been more valid than first suspected.

While Francois had to flee the colony, leaving his family behind, due to his participation in the Castle Hill Rebellion, Antone remained and thrived. He took up a land grant of land in the Prospect area, sold it, and bought another in the Parramatta area. His family flourished and established themselves as part of the young colony. Antone makes an appearance in the local newspaper after he was the victim of centipede's bite.

"On Tuesday last Mr. Landrin, of Parramatta, was stung on one of the fingers of the right hand by a centipede. In about an hour the wound festered and inflamed ; the finger began to swell : In the course of the following day several other festers made their appearance, the hand and arm swelled prodigiously, the inflammation hourly increased, the whole hand is now covered with an open wound, and the patient is in a most agonizing condition. We have before unfortunately had occasion to take notice of accidents proceeding from a similar cause; and we have as often prescribed a remedy, easy of attainment and efficacious in its operation. This a remedy universally applied in the West Indies to the sting or bite of this noxious reptile ; consisting of an embrocation made by putting centipedes and scorpions among spirits in a phial, a few drops of which rubbed well upon the affected part soon after the infliction of the wound, removes all pain and danger." 8 October, 1809 edition of the "Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser".

Antone survived his wound and died in 1811 at the age of 40, one month before the birth of his fourth child, Jane. After a service at St Phillips, Sydney, was interred in the Old Burial Ground (now the site of the Sydney Town Hall).

Postscript - The 18 March,1804 edition of the Sydney Gazette reported the departure of Francois owing to his involvement with the rebellion:

"Francois Girault, a Frenchman, in obedience to HIS EXCELLENCY's positive Command quitted the Colony in His Majesty's Ship Calcutta, having been charged on evidence strongly presumptive with secretly abetting and encouraging the late Revolt. "This man resided at Parramatta, and had for several months past devoted much of his time to trafficking as a pedlar to and from Castle Hill, during which intercourse he too probably obtained an undue influence among the people at that Settlement, and availing himself of an unhappy credulity, dessiminated gradually the seeds of dissention and discontent, but ingeniously in the end found means to avoid open detection and to escaped condign punishment."

Coincidentally, I have another relative who was on the other side of the Rebellion.

Coming to Australia

Ironically it took migration from Australia to get me started on researching my Australia roots. How much easier it would have been to capture the oral and written history if I'd have started while still down-under. Nonetheless, start it I did and quickly discovered the Internet was built for the budding genealogist.  A recent article by a friend that described one of the stories of her family history prompted me to enter the archives and bring to life the story of one branch of my family.

Most of my lines come from fairly stereotypical sources: those transported from Ireland after the rebellion of 1798; those transported for petty theft in the early 1800s; assisted and unassisted immigrants from England and Scotland looking for a better life in the mid and late 1800s. There are plenty of interesting stories amongst them that tell about personal grief, struggles and triumph. However, there is one line that is out of the ordinary.

Helen Mitcheson Bloomfield was born in Cheshire in 1878 to Emma Lucy Bloomfield. The Bloomfields were originally from Suffolk and included a soldier in the 12th Regiment of Foot and a Colour Sergeant in the Royal Marines who'd participated in the disastrous expedition of the River Niger in 1841. Emma Lucy and family migrated to Brisbane from Middlesex sometime between 1884 and 1889 where they settled in the Toowong area of the city under the family name of Douglas.

Adam Nicolavich Koboroff was born to a Russian soldier Nicholas Koboroff and Swedish Mother Mary Grendalt (Maria Gröndahl) in the Bulgarian city of Varna (or Varnya) in 1872. Bulgaria was then under the protection of the Czar's government following a period of war. Interestingly some of the paperwork refers to Varna being in Southern Siberia. However, other documentation from his naturalization file confirms the city by the Black Sea as his place of birth.

Adam was a cook on the SS Polynesien when he jumped ship in Melbourne in 1902. He eventually made his way to Brisbane continuing to act as cook on local vessels run by AUSN plying the coastal trade.

It appears he taught himself English by way of a pair of English-Russian and /Russian-English dictionaries that I now possess. It contains many hand written notations that, unfortunately, don't shed much light on the man, but mainly concern the meaning and use of certain words.

At some stage he took a job as a handyman at the Douglas residence where he met Helen. Although unmarried she had given birth to a daughter Gladys. Rumour has it that the local pharmacist was the girl's father. Helen had returned to England to allow the scandal to dissipate before returning to Brisbane. Somehow the Russian migrant hit it off with the fallen Helen and in 1907 the two were married at the Methodist Parsonage in Toowong.

My grandmother was the second born in 1911 in Toowong. Shortly after the family moved to Sydney. Why this move was made has not made it through the passage of time. Adam took work at the Auburn Meatworks in Lidcombe. He stayed at this job until after WWI broke out. Not having been naturalized he was unable to stay on at the job and was also not fit enough for service with the military. He was able to find some work at the Liverpool Army Base but the pay was not enough to keep a family of six.

Beginning in 1916 he undertook the steps necessary to obtain citizenship which included verification of his original citizenship, advertisements in local newspapers announcing his intention to be naturalized, and the obtaining of character references. Like all bureaucracies the wheels of Department of External Affairs (which later became the Home and Territorial Affairs department) moved painfully slowly.

Given this was wartime then it's not unreasonable. However, for Adam and family there was no income and food was even rarer for them than the general populace during the Great War.
In 1917 the Czar was overthrown and in October, following the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviet Union was formed. Unfortunately, this meant that Adam's application was now invalid and a fresh application had to be made. Once again the required forms were filed, the references obtained, and the police reports completed.

After almost three years of waiting he received a reply stating that since the overthrow of the Czar and the establishment of the Communist state by Lenin, it was an Australian Government policy that applicants from the former Russian nation would be denied admittance to Australia. Adam responded with several desperately pleading letters including the following (spelling errors have been left in):

Dear Sir,

In November 1916 I have had the honor to make the application to you for naturalization but have got your reply dated by 1 December 1916 N 16/30502 by which you have informed me that at that time the certificates of naturalization have not been issued to Russians under fifty years of age according of the agreement between thier Majestys of the British and Russian Imperial Governments as the Allys in the war in that time.

But since then the present Russian Government (if it is right to be called a Government which is in the clutches of the usurpers) who brake all the treatys and agreements which have been made by the Government of his Majesty the Czar of Russia with her Allys.

So now wehn no any treatys or agreements between British and New Russian Goverment between British and new Russian Government I hope that His Majesty Australian Government would not force me to remain still a Russian subject notwithstanding that I have had nothing to do with my birth country ever since I emigrate to this country seventeen years ago. I came into Australia at 1902 as you can see it in my application mentioned above, and I have married at Brisbane to Australian in 1907 and have now six children who by the law of this country are the British subject by the birth.

From time of my landing in Australia I have been working for the A.U.S.N. Co. for eleven years on a cook, then three years for Sydney Meat Preserving Co works and when the war broke out I have tryed to enlist for the active service but was rejected for the reason of deficiency of Eye sight and after that in September 1916 I have enlisted as a privet for the Home Service at Liverpool Camp N.S.W. and was at service in there up to 27th of December 1918 (some time after demobilization of the troops)

So now I have the liberty to trouble you again with the request to grant my application for naturalization as I am in very difficult circumstances at present time not being naturalized for I can not get a proper employment without a certificate of naturalization notwithstanding that I have Military discharges because it is a general rule now in all Companys of the works (of the Land and Sea) to employ only the British Subjects so for this reason I have been without work ever since I left the Liverpool Camp and nearly spend all what I had safe for a rainy days, and now all my family and myself are on a eve of starvation but for my own self I donot care what will happen to me but I can not see my family starve for the sake of that I am the alien. So now I see only one way if my application can not be granted then I must beg of you Sir to do with me as Government is going to do with the prisoners of the war to repatriate me as I will sooner go to back and to try to do some thing for my wife and children because that is all what I have and love in this world sooner to be there than here to see them starved after all these long years of labour and over two years of the service to the King and the country. I was trying hard to get a job every where but it is no use. I can not get a employment without the naturalization papers and untill I will get them I won't be able to do any good for my family I must have a work to earn enough to keep my family and myself with food and cloths.

I hope Sir that you will let me know the result soon.

I remain your obedient servent Adam Kobooroff Lord Street Cabramatta N.S.W.

Supporting submissions came from local citizens who knew the family and took the time to write to the department.
  1. In April, 1919, a final recommendation was made via the following memorandum: Adam Victor Kobooroff, a Russian, 47 years old, and resident in Australia since 1902, applies for naturalization. In 1907 he married an Australian woman and has 6 children by her. Worked for A.U.S.N. for 11 years and for 3 years was with a Sydney meat preserving company. When the war broke out he tried to enlist, but was rejected by reason of deficient eyesight. After that in September 1916 Kobooroff enlisted for Home Service at Liverpool, New South, Wales; and served till 27th December 1918. He adds that he is in very troubelous circumstances. Through not being naturalized, he cannot obtain proper employment, not-withstanding his military discharges, only British subjects being employed. He has been out of work ever since. All his family and he are on the verge of starvation. If his application cannot be granted he asks that he be repatriated. 
  2. The police report is favourable. They say he has been most loyal and that he is an honest, hard-working man.
  3. The Defence authorities state while there is nothing recorded on their files against applicant, it would not appear desirable except in the case of returned soldiers with clean records and undoubted loyalty, that persons of Russian nationality should be granted naturalization at the present stage.
  4. Submitted
<signature illegible>

Case is one of service as a soldier, and  desire to go to the front.

Determination  [?] of Loyalty: no evidence of ever [illegible] of disloyalty


So finally Adam was able to swear allegiance to the crown and discard his Russian citizenship and his family was remained in Australia where the family of six grew over five generations to number over one hundred people. Several went on to serve in World War 2, some took to the land, many remained in Sydney, one was awarded an OAM. Adam discovered religion and founded a church that sat in the front yard of his Cabramatta home for several years when his fervour waned. His wife died in 1945 and he went on to live until 1951. His oldest daughter and my grandmother lived in that house until she was 97 before moving to a nursing home where she died just 5 months short of reaching 100.

You can read Adam's entire naturalization file on the National Archives web site. Just enter the keyword Kobooroff in your search of the site.

Hello and Welcome

I've been meaning to start a blog for some years now and have finally got around to it. The name comes from the realization that while I want to write about topics such as travel and ancestry, I'm sure it will end up with lots of pictures and stories about our cats (and the occasional dog). Thus the title should reflect that reality.