Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

It’s hard to imagine what was going through Enoch Pearson Barratt’s mind as he sat in chains on the ship, William Jardine, en route to an alien land thousands of miles from England and thousands of miles from his wife and children.

Perhaps he wondered whether he’d ever see them again. Perhaps he feared for his future. And for theirs. Whilst his mindset will never be known, judging by his future success, it would appear that he was a man of good qualities, sound morals and positivity.

He arrived on 1 August 1852 and it’s likely he spent very little time in prison. He may‘ve at first worked on Government projects but perhaps his good work ethic meant that he soon drew the attention of the free settlers. Honest, hardworking men (despite the convict taint) were in demand.

Throughout the first year of being in Western Australia, it’s doubtful that Enoch had learnt to read and write and was sending letters home to his wife, Mary Ann. In any case, if he had learnt, she wouldn’t have been able to read them (being illiterate herself) without the help of someone else. He continued to think of his family and it’s likely he had some help when enquiries were made about them receiving assisted passage to join him in Perth.

An excerpt from a letter addressed to Thomas Marchant of St Pauls Deptford dated 10 June 1853 states:

I am directed by Viscount Palmerston to acknowle[dge] the rec[eip]t of y[ou]r l[ette]r of the 8th inst[ant], requesting to be furnished with information regarding the Grant of an Assisted Passage to Western Australia to the Wife and Family of Enoch Pearson Barrett, a Convict under Sentence of Transportation in th[a]t Colony.

There were no issues with the application and the assisted passage was granted. Enoch’s wife, Mary Ann, and his children, Elizabeth, James and Emma found themselves booked for passage on the ship ‘Victory’.


Originally advertised to depart England on 3 December, the ship didn’t actually leave until the 28th. The voyage itself appeared to be relatively uneventful and three months after their departure, on 24 March 1854, they arrived in Albany (the first port of call) in Western Australia.

It was while searching for Mary Ann, Elizabeth, James and Emma in the passenger lists that I came across a strange anomaly. Most of the lists are what you’d expect: Mary Ann at the top with the three children listed below her in order of their respective ages.
Certificate of Final Departure

Barratt Passengers

But on one passenger list, which specifically listed the families of convicts who had been granted assisted passage, there is an additional passenger written below Emma.

Who was Jemima

Who was Jemima Barratt?

It’s not an easily answered question. The record itself is found within the Western Australian Passenger Lists (Albany arrivals) but it’s not actually part of the same document that the previous list came from.

Could there have been confusion with a different Jemima? There was a Jemima Gibson listed on the same page of convicts’ families who were granted assisted passage but this Jemima was four years old and next to the family group, a note was scrawled stating that they had defaulted and, I assume, did not travel on the ship. We can easily discount this theory.

Could Mary Ann have given birth to another child before she embarked on the Victory? To check this theory, I searched through the list of birth registrations in England for a Jemima Barratt/Barrett born around 1853 and the one possible match (born in Greenwitch) looks to have died in the same year. A search for Jemima Fleming also yielded no results. Was Mary Ann already pregnant when she boarded the Victory? Did she give birth on board? If this was the case, given the timeline, it would mean that Jemima wasn’t Enoch’s child.

Was it all just a mistake that can be put down as human error? Perhaps Mary Ann was holding someone else’s child when they were recording the names and it was accidentally assumed that the child was hers. If that’s the case, why is there no other Jemima on the other list of passengers? Could it simply have been a recording error and no Jemima existed at all? This, seems like a rather strange error to make in my opinion.

Assuming Jemima was Mary Ann’s child – perhaps conceived at a time when she thought she’d never hear from Enoch again – I find myself pondering the next question, whatever happened to her? There are no early Western Australian death or marriage records for a Jemima Barratt/Barrett and a vague search of the name ‘Jemima’ shows that there’s barely a record of anyone who had that name. Could she have been given up for adoption (and given a new name) due to the fact she wasn’t Enoch’s child?

It’s all quite strange and given the lack of future evidence of any Jemima in Western Australia, I’m inclined to think it’s a mystery which may remain as such. It’s hard to conduct a search for someone who appears to not exist. Until I can conduct some more in depth research (possibly with records from the Victory) I’ll have to leave the question of ‘who was Jemima?’ open for a while.

Incidentally, the Fremantle Prison’s convict database lists Enoch’s marital status as “Mar 3 chn” and then under kin they state “Wife Mary Ann nee FLEMMING & 4 chn of Deptford.” Very interesting indeed.

Mary Ann

Mary Ann Barratt (nee Fleming)


  • The excerpt from the letter was obtained courtesy of Findmypast (Series: HO13 – Piece: 102 – Folio: 265).
  • Gale Newspapers online – STEAM to DUNKIRK, Lille, and Paris.-The The Times (london, England), Tuesday, Nov 08, 1853; pg. 1; Issue 21580.
  • SRO of Western Australia; Albany Passenger list of Assisted Emigrants showing names of emigrants and from which countries selected; Accession: 115; Roll: 214
  • Various facts obtained from Fremantle Prison’s Convict database (

On Saturday, 5 January 1833, one of the earliest Western Australian newspapers, The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, was printed and distributed to the Swan River Colony. Edited by Charles Macfaull, Volume I, number I, was four pages long and cost one shilling.

The Colony was still in its infancy (having only been established four years earlier) and the news reflects that which was foremost in the minds of the early settlers of Perth.

Perth Gazette

Government notices, advertising and shipping details covered the front page. Thomas Brown had applied for permission to leave the Colony with his family via the ‘Governor Bourke’ and had his request granted.

Thomas Brown

George Leake provided an extensive list of goods for sale at his Perth and Fremantle stores which included things such as window glass, cotton and worsted stockings, crockery, London mustard, white, black and green paint and London soap.

George Leake

A public auction was to be held at the Perth Jetty on 8 January with the auctioneer, William Sampson, presiding. Up for sale? The finest Sydney flour.

Sydney Flour

It was noted that William Booker and Benjamin Hinks had escaped from Fremantle Jail (the Roundhouse) within the last 24 hours and a £20 reward was offered for their capture. A description of the two men was further printed to aid with identification.


It’s not known whether the designer of the jail, Henry Reveley, was annoyed by the fact that his prison couldn’t hold its prisoners but it’s likely that at the time he was far too busy seeing to the design and construction of Perth’s first water mill which was located on St Georges Terrace. Considered of great importance to the Colony, the newspaper promised to provide more information in their next edition.

He also may have been a little preoccupied with trespassers.


Various snippets of news from the English papers (up to 13 August 1832) indicate just how far behind the Colony was on current events compared to the rest of the world. Napoleon’s son, Napoleon II, had died on 22 July 1832 and the Perth Gazette announced “So ends the race of him who so long kept the world in awe!

The cholera epidemic of 1832 had originally started in India, then slowly moved to Russia and had eventually spread to the rest of Europe as well as to England, Ireland, Scotland and then finally reaching Canada and North America. It was still raging at the time of print and claimed over 50,000 lives in Britain.

Pages three and four of the edition were mostly dedicated to the reporting of local civil and criminal court cases…

The Executors of Mr Gaze’s Estate took Mr Butler to Court to recover £40 for work completed prior to Gaze’s death. There may have been mention made in Gaze’s Will relating to the outstanding amount as the Will was noted to be an important piece of evidence required at Court. Much to the Civil Commissioner’s (George Fletcher Moore) annoyance, the Plaintiff had left the Will at home. The Commissioner, it seems, was in no mood to humour those who came unprepared.


Earlier in the week, Thomas Dent found himself brought before the Criminal Court charged with violently assaulting his wife. The opening address by the Chairman (William Henry Mackie) advised the jury to pay close attention to the evidence and further stated that Mr Dent had attempted to silence his wife through intimidation. Due to this, Mrs Dent did not come to Court and a witness, John Cleland, provided the reason why.

John Cleland

Thomas, of course, denied his wrongdoing. Mrs Dent was “in the habit of practising many petty vexations” and he put forward a letter she’d written showing that it was “without any of those endearing epithets, which might be expected, from an affectionate wife, addressing a beloved husband.” Considering it was written while he was in prison for a previous assault against her, it’s no wonder she didn’t address it to her ‘darling husband’.

Mr Dent maintained that his behaviour was caused by the vexations and then he promised not to assault his wife again. The Chairman would have none of it…


The reading of the deposition was not necessary and after retiring for a few minutes, the Jury came back and found Thomas Dent guilty. He was sentenced to three months imprisonment and upon his release, he was required to find security for his good behaviour.

Happy to have a newspaper once again in print after what he described as “unpleasant recollections” with regards to his previous publication, the final bottom right section of page four was dedicated to the editor, printer and publisher, Mr Charles Macfaull and provided all the details with relation to cost and obtaining a subscription.

Charles Macfaull


As I sat on the bus sucking on a Butter-menthol and hoping that the scratchy feeling in my throat wasn’t the onset of a cold (incidentally, it was) I got to thinking about the history of cough lollies which included (of course) historical advertisements.

Cough lollies (also known as throat lozenges – though I’ve never called them by this name) have been around since the time of the Ancient Egyptians but it was during the 19th Century that they became increasingly popular; largely due to the discovery that the addition of heroin and morphine to the lolly would supress the cough via the brain. Heroin and morphine weren’t the only extreme ingredients known to be in cough lollies and as you’ll see below, one company claimed that an American manufacturer listed formaldehyde in their ingredients. Although whether this is actually true remains to be seen.

These ingredients were eventually removed from cough lollies (thank goodness!) when concerns were raised about addiction and, today, most of them simply contain some kind of menthol. Though they do ease the throat and provide temporary relief from coughing, they do not serve as complete medication to cure illness. To illustrate my point, in Perth, they’re found in the lolly section; usually next to the chewing gum.

Though I am more familiar with brands such as Butter-menthol, Anticol, Throaties and Vicks, I am also curious about the other brands of cough lolly that existed and, for some reason or another, did not stand the test of time.

An early advertisement from 1892 for Keatings Cough Lozenges states that they cured coughs, asthma and bronchitis and stresses that no opium nor “any violent drug” is contained in the lozenge.


A “well-known shop” in Perth named ‘Mrs Harrod’s’ took advantage of the gold mining boom in the 1890’s and advertised a eucalyptus lozenge which was strongly recommended for miners to use in order to keep away sicknesses that were “so prevalent on the goldfields“.


In 1916 Throatoids decided to target their advertising towards people who regularly used their voice such as singers, soldiers and public speakers. The lozenges were available from Pleasance’s Pharmacy in Prahan, Victoria.

Throatoids 1916

Peps’ 1917 advertising described how their lozenges would loosen phlegm then clear the lungs as well as the bronchial tubes. In case you were wondering whether they contained any “drowsy drugs” they reassured you that they were as “pure as the pines they come from” and were hailed as the “greatest discovery of the age“.


Plaistowe’s Particular Peppermints (P.P.P. Mints) were advertised in The West Australian as being extra strong and made with peppermint oil and cane sugar. Though sounding more like an actual lolly and less like a cough lolly, they were however described as lozenges which would disinfect the mouth, throat, nose and lungs and protect you from coughs and colds.

PPP Mints

Pixettes, sold by F. Warland Browne & Co in Launceston, Tasmania, were advertised in 1925 as being a “delightfully soothing” lozenge that “won’t let you cough.”  And in case you still weren’t convinced, they further stated that they would “keep out the damp.”


Hudson’s Eumenthol Jujubes were advertised in The Daily News in 1929 and included a handy picture of the lungs with the various parts labelled. Used for coughs, colds, sore throats as well as the prevention of consumption, they (somewhat disturbingly if it’s true) reassured consumers that no formaldehyde was contained in their lozenges.


Throaties (one of the brands still around today) were invented by Sweetacres in 1930 after several years’ testing in their laboratories. Their goal was to create a medicated lozenge which would provide relief for husky throats and would meet medical standards set by both advisors and chemical experts. They went on further to state that Throaties were “recommended not as a cure, but simply as a preventive of throat troubles and for the relief they afford.” Perhaps adding extra weight to my earlier statement regarding cough lollies being found in the lolly section, the inventors, Sweetacres, were the very same company who invented Minties. You might be interested to know that even after all these years, the Throaties logo still looks much the same.


There didn’t seem to be a lot of advertisements for throat lozenges throughout the 1940s but by the 1950s, Vicks had come onto the scene; advertising their product as a “6-in-1 relief for coughs and husky throats.” Judging by the amount of times they showed up in the search results, it would appear they launched a fairly aggressive advertising campaign.


Nyal advertised their medicated throat lozenges in 1958 stating that they checked infection, suppressed coughing and stopped soreness. While Nyal is a pharmaceutical brand that’s still around today, they have however appeared to have moved away from selling lozenges.

NyalSince eliminating those dangerous ingredients, advertising for cough lollies (apart from claiming they were a complete cure) is still quite similar to today’s advertising. They are still described as medicated; as a relief for sore throats and coughs and often contain menthol, peppermint or eucalyptus oil. One difference however is that today, cough lollies also tend to advertise the fact that they temporarily relieve nasal congestion. Why this wasn’t listed in past advertisements (despite the similarity of menthol ingredients) is beyond me.

What about you? Is there a particular brand of cough lolly that you remember that I haven’t mentioned?


Christmas of 1893 must’ve been a fairly trying occasion for Tilly. Heavily pregnant with her third child, she arrived at her parents’ farm ‘Greenwood’ in Collie Bridge on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by her husband, Thomas Crampton, and two small children, Daisy and Thomas Junior, the family stayed with the Hursts throughout Christmas and onto the New Year. As is common with Christmas celebrations, they most likely partook in Christmas lunch or dinner as well as the Christmas cakes which were baked about a week earlier. The Cramptons stayed for a total of ten days and finally departed on the 2 January 1894 with Tilly’s niece, Nellie (aged 15) in tow.

Looking at this with a pair of modern eyes, travelling whilst so close to when you are due to give birth does not necessarily seem out of the ordinary. If it were to happen today and you suddenly went into labour, there would be an ambulance (if needed) or (more likely) a car to drive you to the nearest hospital. So what about in 1894? Would a pregnant woman about to give birth travel across the countryside in a horse and cart? Despite my scepticism of such action, the fact is, I don’t know. Furthermore, I don’t know the details of the birth or of Tilly’s pregnancy. Perhaps she wasn’t heavily pregnant. Perhaps she gave birth prematurely. But, if that was the case, what would be the likelihood of a premature baby surviving in 1894?

There are a lot of questions raised by looking at the timeline obtained from the Hurst Daybook but one irrefutable piece of evidence (in the form of a birth certificate) remains. On 9 January 1894, a week after returning from her parents’ house (and perhaps with the help of Nellie) Tilly gave birth to my Great Grandmother. She was to be her mother’s namesake: Matilda Maria Crampton.

Born in Collie, the preference for many settlers to name everything after the Collie River means I’m not entirely sure in which Collie she was born. The most likely assumption was that she was born in Collie Bridge which was also known as just ‘Collie’ as this was where the Hurst family farm was situated. However, the fact that Tilly leaves the farm on the 2nd and isn’t noted in the Diary as returning or having given birth throws doubt over this assumption. The other option, is that she was born in the vicinity of the Collie coalfields which is where they may have been living at the time.

Only a baby, little Matilda was oblivious to all that was going on around her. Nellie had come to stay with the Cramptons and there’s no doubt that she would’ve doted on her new cousin as well as provided some support for Tilly. She stayed for a month and returned to her grandparents’ house on 6 February.

No further mention of Thomas or Tilly is found within the Daybook apart from the early January entries. It is my belief that throughout this time they were most likely living somewhere in the bush west of Allanson and somewhat close to the Collie coalfields. Why they were living in this area considering Thomas had built a house at Wokalup only six years before, is unknown.

They lived close to a gully and (most likely) close to a small branch of the Collie River. They were surrounded by the bush and were quite isolated. One of the nearest towns to the family was Brunswick and evidence shows that Tilly visited the town and on one occasion, went about in public wearing only her shift (underwear). Where was baby Matilda throughout this time? Was she left at home or did Tilly take her with her?

Tilly’s mental illness was becoming apparent not only to her husband but to the community as well. She had three children to care for (one a newborn) and also had to look after the house duties. By all appearances, she couldn’t cope. If anything strange was going on in the home at that time, baby Matilda would never remember it. She also wouldn’t remember the older brother who went missing in the bush on 16 September 1894. She wouldn’t remember the frantic searching nor the worry that had taken hold of her father, Thomas. She wouldn’t remember her mother (and most likely herself and her sister) being relocated to Greenwood and she wouldn’t remember the day her father and mother left the farm and caught the train to Fremantle where Tilly was admitted to the Asylum. Matilda would never see her mother again and being only a baby, she certainly wouldn’t remember her.

Motherless, it’s not known where exactly Matilda and her sister, Daisy, went to live in the few years following 1894. Whilst there is evidence of Thomas working hard for the Brunswick Roads Board, donating small amounts to various charitable institutions and competing in or umpiring cricket matches, there is little evidence with regards to the early years of Matilda. Small clues from later years allow us to draw conclusions as to where she may have lived following her mother’s admittance to the Asylum.

It seems she remained with her grandparents, Basil Hurst and Maria Hurst (nee Gardiner) at Greenwood in Collie Bridge. Despite their best intentions, Matilda’s grandparents were elderly and may not have been in the best of health to care for two little girls. To ease the burden, their own children and Matilda’s aunts and uncles may have helped and it wasn’t long before Matilda would become known to everyone as Kit, Kitty, Kate or Katie.

Growing up on the farm most likely meant that (despite her youth) she had to help her family in some way. She may have learnt early skills in cooking and sewing from her grandmother or perhaps her aunts. As she grew a little older, perhaps she helped with the cleaning or looked after some of the smaller animals such as the chickens. It would’ve been a beautiful spot to live; surrounded by the bush and close by to the stunning Collie River.

On 2 May 1901, Kitty was only seven when her grandfather, Basil, passed away at home after a long illness. She was at school age but at this point in time there was no school in the Australind area (it had closed in 1896 due to insufficient numbers). A school was desperately needed and in December 1902, a letter was written to the Education Department suggesting that a school room be built on Coast Road at a spot which would be at a somewhat equal distance for all the children needing to travel. On this list were the names Daisy Crampton (12) and Kate Crampton (7). They were noted as living at a distance of three miles from the proposed area and this figure places their residence as being in the vicinity of Greenwood near the Collie Bridge.

Just under a year later on 17 October 1903, Maria Hurst passed away suddenly from a heart attack which came on while she was moving an empty box in the dairy. Kitty was now nine years old and it appears her father remained unwilling or unable to care for his children. It’s likely however that the latter word is more correct. Thomas had to work to earn an income and caring for two little girls while out working would’ve been impossible. There is also the fact that traditionally men simply did not consider raising children to be a part of their job. The Hurst family was a very loving and caring family and when two of their own were left without guardians, they quickly stepped in and assumed the role themselves.

While it’s difficult for me to say where exactly Kitty ended up after the death of her grandmother, it’s possible that she continued to live at Greenwood for some time. The Hurst family farm remained in the family and it was the brothers, John (Jack) and Thomas (Tom) who took over running it.

By 1904, Kitty was noted as attending school. Perhaps frustrated at the lack of action in getting a school at Australind opened, she is recorded as having attended the Bunbury State School (now the Paisley Centre). She was in Grade I and was 10 years of age when the Christmas school holidays began on 16 December that year. The usual prizes and medals could not be given out as they had not been received from the Education Department but the certificates relating to the annual examination were nevertheless distributed. Kitty was recorded as having received hers.

On 31 March 1905 the annual presentation of prizes and medals (which may have been the previous years’ prizes which couldn’t be given out) were presented to the students. Kitty was listed as part of the Senior School in Grade I and received first prize for her sewing. This fact doesn’t surprise me. Despite not knowing her or how well she sewed, my Great Grandmother’s Singer treadle sewing machine sat in my Grandparents’ house for many years. I can even remember Grandma showing me how to use it.

Sewing Prizes

These instances are the only times Kitty is mentioned with relation to schooling. Children of this time period generally only went to school up until about age 12 so it’s likely Kitty’s school days would’ve soon come to an end. Despite her limited ‘formal’ education, she could still read and write well so it’s likely that in addition to attending Bunbury State School, she was also educated at home.

At age 12, on 25 April 1906, Kitty took part in the happy celebration of her sister, Daisy’s wedding to Joseph James Adams. The couple were married at Cookernup and Kitty had the honour to serve as one of her sister’s bridesmaids. The mother of the bride played an important role in greeting the guests who arrived at the reception and, without a mother to do so, it was Kitty and Daisy’s Aunt Minnie Woodley who filled the role and hosted the guests at her residence in Yarloop.

Marriage - Daisy & Joseph

It is unknown where Kitty was living around this time period. Though it’s possible she remained at Greenwood, the scant evidence from the following years as well as the close bond she shared with her cousins and Aunts and Uncles, suggests that she may have lived not only at Greenwood, but also spent time with her sister in Cookernup as well as with her Aunts who were all located in various areas around the southwest.


Cousins – Genesta Gibbs, Matilda Maria Crampton & Evangeline Gibbs

Certainly, sometime between 1909 and 1913, she spent a good deal of time living with her Uncle Abe (Abraham Hurst) in Argyle. It was here that she met and became great friends with Jessie Knight and it was also here that she met her great love, Charles Victor Barratt (known as Vic) who had moved to the area in 1909 with his family.

Though I don’t know when exactly or even how they met, it’s possible that Kitty and Vic became acquainted with each other from around the age of 16.

Their bond and love must’ve been extremely strong. It managed to survive even after Vic moved back to the metropolitan area and obtained a position with the Western Australian Government Railways in 1913. It survived throughout 1914 as well as 1915.

It wasn’t until 1915 (and under tragic circumstances) that we finally get a sense of Kitty’s life. She had been living at Greenwood with her Uncle Tom (Thomas Hurst) and had most likely been keeping house for him (he’d never married). On the 30th July 1915, Uncle Tom (who had been recovering from the flu) went for a walk to collect the mail from the letterbox which was fixed to a fence post near Australind Road. He returned home and was soon joined by Kitty who read him one of the letters that was received that day.

…and they were laughing over the contents. He then laid down on a couch to read the newspaper, when he gave what appeared to be a slight sigh, and without pain or the least sign of suffering he had gone to his long rest.

One can only imagine the shock that would’ve taken hold of Kitty. She may have initially tried to rouse him but, seeing that he couldn’t be woken, she quickly ran to the nearest house to get help. Dr Flynn was sent for and he immediately went to the Hurst family home. Sadly, there was nothing he could do. Uncle Tom had passed away as a result of heart problems caused by the flu that he was recovering from.

Everything happened quickly. Uncle Tom was buried the next day and about a week later, letters were sent between the siblings to organise what would happen to Tom’s Estate (he’d died without a Will). On 6 August 1915, Kitty’s Aunt Bina (Lavinia Gibbs) wrote from Greenwood to Aunt Lucy (Lucy Delaporte) advising of the arrangement that was thought to suit everyone best and in this letter, she made mention of Kitty.

Katie has been down to Aunt Minnies for a few days but she is here again for a while. I think she is going up to Daisy, for a while & then around amongst the rest of us till she can settle down. The poor child seems to be getting on wonderfully well considering the shock it must have been to her & she thinks she will go to Abe as soon as she settles down.

“Around amongst the rest of us” are the words that stand out the most and I can’t help but wonder if perhaps this hopping between relatives happened on more than one occasion.

Just as the letter stated, Kitty decided to make her new home with her Uncle Abe in Argyle. He had a farm and in particular, an orchard, and though Kitty was living with a relative, she was not going to simply ‘sponge’ off him. The Western Australian electoral roll from the election held on 13 May 1916 shows her as living at Argyle with the occupation “housekeeper”.

Uncle Abe

Uncle Abe

War had broken out the previous year and it may have been a source of pride and worry when she eventually found out that her sweetheart, Vic, had enlisted on 3 October 1916. They were still together and on 13 November she wrote him a letter stating:

You will see I am back at old Argyle again. I landed home today went into my sisters for a day. I’ve been wondering how you have been getting along or if you have been seasick. Cheer up my dearest. We did miss you old boy the place lost its charm after you left.

She had gone to Fremantle to see him off on the boat and it could be inferred, from the words written in the letter, that Vic had proposed to Kitty before he left Australia.

I did not see you on the boat. I looked and looked. Mum and Dad saw you. I was very glad they did. Wasn’t we lucky to see you at the train, I was never so pleased in my life and when we told Mum I had seen you, she said well that’s as good as 20 pound to me. She knew you would be so glad.

I got your letter on the Friday and Mum got hers. I looked forward to that letter although I knew what was in it.

Interestingly, she often refers to ‘Mum and Dad’ while she refers to her own Dad by the more formal ‘Father’. It’s in my opinion that Mum and Dad most likely referred to Vic’s parents and that she’d taken to calling them Mum and Dad due to the fact that they would eventually be her in-laws. The next paragraph shows her use of ‘Father’ and adds weight to my theory that she was engaged at the time.

Well dear old boy Father has come to see me at last got quite a surprise yesterday when I saw him at the train. Of course I told him everything and he said he would like to see you. Uncle Abe spoke up and said he’s a real good chap. I’ve known him since he was so high.

While Uncle Abe knew who Vic was, it would appear that Thomas Crampton, did not. His youngest daughter was most likely engaged and it seems as if he was the last to know and had perhaps visited her to fulfil his fatherly duties. The words “at last” further illustrates that Kitty’s visits from Thomas weren’t regular occurrences.

Kitty was still listed as living in Argyle and working as a housekeeper in 1917 and it’s likely that this continued until 1919 perhaps interspersed with visits to her sister, as well as to her other Hurst aunts and uncles. The return of Vic on 3 August 1919 would’ve been a great relief and may have also meant that Thomas Crampton finally got to see him. If this meeting did occur, it’s likely it was under a veil of illness. Thomas had pneumonic influenza and on 20 August 1919, he passed away.

Kitty & Thomas

Kitty and her Dad, Thomas Crampton

Two months later on 11 October 1919 and after many years of waiting patiently, Kitty and Vic were married in St Patrick’s Church in Bunbury. Kitty was 25 years old and was given away by her Uncle Jack. The wedding reception (just like when Daisy got married) was hosted by her Aunt Minnie. A few wedding photos were taken in front of the church and in one photo (just as it was throughout her whole life) she was surrounded by the Hurst family.

Wedding Photo


Prince Alfred

The people of Western Australia were in a constant state of excitement. The Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Alfred; the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) was sailing his ship ‘Galatea’ around the world and was planning to visit the Australian Colonies (the very first Royal to do so).

No news had yet been heard. It was a time before email, telephones and even the telegraph and the only form of communication was by letter. With travel being only by ship, it meant that letters could take months to arrive. Rumours were rife but as the east coast of Australia had not yet heard anything either, the people of WA seemed content to apply the saying ‘no news is good news’.

The newspapers soon turned to discussion about giving the Duke the best welcome possible for when he arrived. It was fully expected that all the settlers should come out to greet him but it was further stressed that perhaps something more could be done to entertain him. A careful provision was placed at the end of the article:

It will be seen that the visit is but a probability, nevertheless we should be prepared [f]or a reality.

Eager to please and desiring to show a visiting Royal just how loyal the people of WA were to Queen Victoria (and perhaps a little concerned at not being prepared should he arrive) articles began to take on a slight change of tone.

Prince Alfred Visit

Despite again stating that the visit was ‘probable’ the rest of the article implies that there was an awful lot of excitement despite the lack of confirmation.

Committees were soon formed and meetings were held for the purpose of superintending the arrangements for the Duke’s reception.

Every effort will be made to give the son of our beloved Sovereign a warm and hearty reception. Among the arrangements in contemplation are the formation of a Body Guard and the erection of a large banqueting room at Government House.

By early August the Committee had decided that a speech on behalf of the settlers should be given; that decorative arches be constructed and placed at points around Perth, Fremantle and Guildford; that arrangements be made to house members of the Duke’s staff who could not fit in Government House; that the expense of entertainment associated with the reception be paid for by the public funds and all other expenses be paid for by Governor Hampton; that banners be constructed; that a number of Aborigines be invited to hold a grand corroboree in the Duke’s honour and that as many children as possible be gathered in one spot to wait for his arrival so that when he went past them they could salute him and begin singing the National Anthem.

Furthermore, the new Causeway Bridge was nearing completion and it was decided that the honour of officially opening it should be given to the Duke of Edinburgh. It would mean waiting a little while longer before it could be used by the public, but all agreed that such an honour would make it worth the wait.

If the word ‘probable’ had raised any doubt as to whether or not the Duke would visit WA, a notice sent to the Governor sometime later providing instructions on how to receive the Duke (should he arrive) would likely have quelled such fears.

Government Notice

Days passed, preparations continued and the initial trepidation as to whether or not he’d visit WA, seemed almost to vanish. The papers began reporting on the Duke’s whereabouts in the world and the reception he received at that particular place. Such was the excitement that details of his life were published as well as anecdotes which illustrated the type of man he was. Royal fever had well and truly hit the Colony and various memorabilia commemorating the Duke’s visit began to show up in the advertising columns.

By September, construction of the arch on St Georges Terrace had begun and all were pleased with the preparations that Western Australia had undertaken.

The preparations for the reception of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh are nearly completed, and all things considered, they are truly on a scale that does credit to the Government and the loyalty of the people.

There was still an undercurrent of worry that WA would be missed completely and so (in the same article the above quote was obtained from) the newspaper sought to show just how bitterly the slight would be felt. It went even further and indicated that should the Duke stop at King George Sound in Albany, a Despatch would be given to him (stating that the people of Perth were expecting him) in the hope that such knowledge would induce him to make a visit (even if it wasn’t planned).

Sincere Regret

By late September, all the decorations were completed and the people of Western Australia had nothing more to do than to wait (and hope) for the arrival of the Galatea within the next fortnight.

Adelaide Terrace Decorations

Decorations on Adelaide Terrace

Prince Alfred Arch

The Arch on St Georges Terrace

September came to an end and October began. The days slipped away and October soon reached its end. The preparations had been finalised but the Galatea still had not arrived in WA. All were eagerly awaiting but in the latest mails there had been…

…no despatches to the Government, no letters for the Prince, his officers, or crew; and more, we had tidings of a rumour at King George’s Sound that the vessel had passed on her way to Port Adelaide…

Again the people of WA refused to accept that they wouldn’t receive a visit by the Duke and decided that, after all, such talk was simply rumour. Until they knew for sure, they would remain hopeful. It wasn’t until the start of November that all hope vanished with the receipt of a police express letter sent on horseback from Albany to the Government in Perth. The Duke had been in South Australia since the 29th of October. He had completely missed Western Australia.

Letter from Albany

All were disappointed and none more so, it seems, than those at The Inquirer and Commercial News who became rather melodramatic about the whole affair.

Our flags are half-mast high, and our decorations left to wither in the summer heat. There is but one course left to us, and it is a very simple one: — say nothing more about it.

Embarrassed, the reaction by the Government was swift.

Almost immediately on receipt of the intelligence from Albany that the Galatea had arrived at Port Adelaide, a large number of prisoners were at once detached to demolish the canopy in St George’s Terrace, over which so much labour had been expended to make it becoming the occasion.

After only a few hours the arch on St Georges Terrace was no more. Disappointment had turned into anger and what was left of the arch as well as the other decorations were soon set on fire as a demonstration of the resentment felt by some of the citizens in Perth.

So, what happened? Was Western Australia one of the places that the Duke was expected to visit? Or, was there some misunderstanding? As it turns out (and if you haven’t already guessed from the inverted commas surrounding the word ‘snub’ in the title) it was the latter.

The confusion, it seems, arose from the wording of the letter from the Admiralty which stated that the Duke would proceed to the “West Coast of Australia” and would be visiting “Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land and also Auckland and Wellington”. While ‘proceeding to’ and ‘visiting’ are rather different terms, the word proceeding in itself is quite vague. Coupled with the Governor’s receipt of various despatches (which apparently shouldn’t have been sent in the first place) it is understandable to see how the misunderstanding could arise. In a time where such matters couldn’t be cleared up with the sending of an instant text message, perhaps those in Western Australia (who also harboured doubts as to the wording) decided it was better to be sure than sorry. After all, what if the Duke had visited and no preparations had been made. That, too, would’ve been embarrassing.

Personally, I find the whole affair of 1867 to be highly amusing (and slightly cringe worthy). Western Australia has long been nicknamed ‘Wait Awhile’ and, for those of you wondering, the people only had to wait a little while before the Duke of Edinburgh would make an informal visit. In February 1869, just over a year after his first visit to Australia, he finally arrived in WA and WA finally had the opportunity to show just how loyal they were to Queen Victoria.


Lifebuoy soap (though not invented by them) was promoted by the Lever Brothers in England in 1895. It was propelled into the advertising world with ads claiming that it would save you from illness and protect you from germs (hence the name) due to its antiseptic nature. Early ads focused on the fact that it was carbolic (it contained carbolic acid) and would keep you healthy but later ads simply stated that it contained a “special health ingredient” that would protect you from the perils of illness as well as body odour. It is the latter claim which provides us with very amusing ads, mostly from the 1940s. Incidentally, Lifebuoy used the acronym ‘BO’ instead of the words ‘body odour’ and, it is believed, it was their ads which resulted in BO becoming a commonly used term.

While most of the ads appear to be targeted towards women, I have since found that men were not completely excluded. All kinds of storylines were used in Lifebuoy’s “comics” in order to incite fear and play on a person’s insecurities. If people were snubbing you, excluding you or didn’t want to date you it was because (according to Lifebuoy) you probably had BO.

Wondering why no one wants to go to the dance with you?

Lifebuoy, Advocate, 20 November 1945, Pg 6

Is there a reason you’re not married yet and, by golly, you’re 32!?

Lifebuoy, Canberra Times, 11 June 1941, Pg 2

Do people think you’re not as dainty as you used to be?

Lifebuoy, Recorder, 4 June 1945, Pg 4

Feeling a little hot under the collar because the chaps are snubbing you?

Lifebuoy, Recorder, 20 January 1941, Pg 3

Does your fiancé continue to put the wedding off?

Lifebuoy, Women's Weekly, 26 July 1947, Pg 22

Perhaps there’s another reason why your guests aren’t showing up…

Lifebuoy, Women's Weekly, 29 November 1941, Pg 15

When dancing is skipped there simply must be a reason…

Lifebuoy, Women's Weekly, 9 March 1946, Pg 47

The cake of Lifebuoy soap was coloured red and though I can’t be completely sure, I don’t believe it was ever used by my family (I certainly don’t remember red soap – we tended to use Imperial Leather). It’s possible however that my youth is against me because, to be honest, I don’t really recall the Lifebuoy brand at all.

I’d love to read about your memories though. Do you remember red Lifebuoy soap or the brand itself? Are there any other ads that left such a lasting impression that you still remember them?


Every now and then I’ll search through online catalogues for names that I’ve already searched for many, many times before. I don’t get my hopes up. And I certainly don’t expect to see anything new. Searching for anything relating to the Barratts is particularly unexciting. Being my own surname, it’s a name that I have searched for many times over. If there’s a record relating to them, I’ve most likely found it and added it to the collection. But, rather than designate some catalogues as having been ‘tapped out’ I continue to search them. You never know when something new may be added.

There’s no doubt that the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) employment records at the State Records Office of Western Australia have been in existence for much longer than I realised. With a tendency to rely on ‘name searches’ this valuable record would’ve been overlooked had I not happened to search for “Charles Victor Barratt” on one particular day.

Much to my surprise, a listing relating to my Great Grandfather popped up. I suppose, in the end, searching for just a name did have its benefits as it’s opened my eyes to a new resource which gives more depth to my ancestors’ stories and their working life.

Barratt Charles (far right) with railway workers - 2

Railway Workers [date and names unknown]

Vic first applied for a position as an engine cleaner sometime in 1913. He was 18 years old and met the minimum age required to obtain the position (the minimum age being 18). As part of the interview process, he had to bring along his birth certificate to prove his age as well as three certificates or letters testifying to his character. There was also a height requirement; potential candidates had to be 5ft 6 inches tall. Luckily for Vic, he was 5ft 8 ½ inches tall. Once he had all the documentation in order he went before the Selection Board and on 7 November 1913 he was deemed to have passed and was awarded the position.


Donnybrook. August 12th 1913. To those whom it may concern, This is to certify that the bearer of this, Victor Barratt has been employed by me for nearly two years, and that during that time I have found him trustworthy and industrious of good conduct, and in all ways reliable. Signed J P Parke.

Three months later, on 15 February 1914, he passed his medical exam and two days after this, he officially began his working life as an engine cleaner with the WAGR at Midland Junction.

As is often the case with first time employment, he started at the bottom and worked his way up. According to Michael Reynolds’ book ‘Engine-driving life: stirring adventures and incidents in the lives of locomotive engine-drivers’ (1881) the cleaner…

…is supplied with waste, oil, and tallow; and he comes on duty when the engine is due, whatever time that may be, either in the day or in the night.

Reynolds further states that a cleaner who his thorough and smart would first clean the engine (while it is hot and the grease is easily wiped away) then move onto cleaning the other parts and finally clean the wheels and framework (which are cold).

It was hard, tough, dirty work.

It takes ten hours at least to clean an engine. It requires no small amount of courage, perseverance, and endurance to clean an engine regularly all the year round…

The next step up from an engine cleaner was the fireman, who was responsible for tending to the fire which enabled the steam engine to run. Vic sat the exam and on the 31 August 1915 it was noted that he had passed and was issued with a Fireman’s Certificate. Despite having passed the exam, he continued to work as a cleaner.

With the world still at war, Vic decided (like so many other young men) to do his bit to help his country by enlisting to fight. His employment records reflect this fact. It had been just over a year since he passed his fireman’s exam but he was nevertheless granted leave on 27 September 1916 to serve in the Australian Imperial Forces. Vic left Western Australian on 9 November 1916 and would not return until 3 August 1919.

Between August and October 1919 Vic most likely recuperated, visited family and friends and was reunited with his beloved, Kitty. The pair may have been engaged prior to his departure in 1916 as wedding plans were immediately put in place. They were married in Bunbury on 11 October 1919 and eight days later it was noted in his employment records that he returned to work. For the next four years he was intermittently designated both a cleaner and fireman.

His permanency as a fireman began on 1 January 1924. While previously he was only located in Perth, this permanent position resulted in several moves. From 27 October 1924 to about 1928 he was located in Busselton.

Vic, accompanied by his wife, Kitty, young son, Ron (who was four) and one month old daughter, Pauline, moved into a home on Gale Street (which he had built himself). My Grandpa, Ron, was a young boy at the time but the happy memories associated with his time in Busselton must’ve left a lasting impression. Photos from this time were lovingly collected and placed together in a small envelope entitled ‘Busselton Days’.

Barratt Charles - Built this house in Gale Street, Busselton in 1924

The house Vic built on Gale Street in Busselton [1924].

Barratt Charles (third from left) in Flinders Bay with Busselton train crew [1927] - 2

Vic (third from left) in Flinders Bay with the Busselton train crew [1927].

After his stint in Busselton, Vic was posted to East Perth in 1928 and he and his family returned to 62 Wasley Street; the home that he had purchased in North Perth in the early 1920s. Throughout the next seven years he worked hard and strived for the next step in his employment at the WAGR. On 14 January 1929 he passed an exam relating to Driver’s Duties and was presented with a certificate. On 3 September 1931 he passed the ‘Timetable & Rostering’ exam (first year course) and scored a respectable 84%. A year later he sat the advanced ‘Timetable & Rostering’ exam and scored a very impressive 93%.

He was again relocated in September 1935 and spent a year in Mukinbudin before eventually being posted in Merredin on 21 September 1936. It was here that he remained.

Vic had a great love of the steam locomotives. He grew up at a time when railway lines were being built and steam trains were transporting people from all walks of life from one town or state to another. I’m unsure as to whether he had any particular aspirations with regards to working at the WAGR but certainly driving one of these majestic locomotives would be high up on the list. All his training and exams paid off and on 1 October 1936 he was designated a driver.

Train and floods near Merredin

An example of a train Vic may have driven in Merredin. This one’s surrounded by flood waters.

Perhaps it was this promotion which filled him with pride and inspiration that led him to contact The Meadmore Model Engineering Co. who specialised in model trains and other train related accessories. Vic placed an order and soon began construction of his model train; eventually finishing it many years later. See my previous blog post ‘Vic’s Model Train’.

Barratt Charles Victor's model train

Vic’s Model Train

For the rest of his working life Vic remained located in Merredin and continued working as a driver interspersed with the occasional stint as the acting shed foreman or acting sub foreman. He was granted long service leave in 1937, 1948, 1951 and 1956 with the last three times consisting of approximately 13 ½ weeks off each time.

On 23 May 1956 Vic was 60 years of age when he reached a milestone of having worked 40 years for the Western Australian Government Railways in adult service (adult back then was 21 years and over). To commemorate this anniversary, he was presented with a small medal.

Medal Front

Medal Back

He continued to work as a driver and acting shed foreman or acting sub foreman for four more years. On 18 May 1960, a week shy of his 65th birthday, his employment record with the WAGR officially came to an end with the word ‘retired’. All up, Vic had worked and served the railways and the Government for 46 years of his life.

Barratt Charles with another railway man in front of train

Vic (right) with an unknown railway worker [date unknown].

The records themselves are fascinating and have enabled me to confirm certain facts that I had only ever assumed. I knew Vic and his family had lived for some time in Busselton but I didn’t really know why. My assumption was that his work with the railways brought him there and it’s gratifying to have that finally confirmed with a record. Such confirmations also didn’t only apply to Vic. I have other family members who also worked for the WAGR and when I realised what gold was staring back at me from the computer screen, I eagerly began scrolling through the entire microfilm in order to hunt down other relatives with employment records (thank goodness for alphabetical order!). What initially started as a search for a record for one person eventuated in me obtaining records for four other people.

The Record of Service Cards can be found at the State Records Office of Western Australia on microfilm (Consignment: 3393). They can be viewed Monday to Friday during office hours or can be requested to be sent to the State Library of Western Australia for viewing on weekends or outside of office hours. For more information please visit:


  • State Records Office of Western Australia; Record of Service Cards; Barratt, Charles Victor (Service No.: 10812), Cleaner/Fireman/Driver 4th Class/Driver 3rd Class/Driver 2nd Class; 17 February 1914 to 1 October 1939; Consignment: 3393.
  • State Records Office of Western Australia; Record of Service Cards; Barratt, Charles Victor (Service No.: 10812), Driver C1/Actg Shed Foreman/Actg. Sub Foreman/Driver; 1 October 1941 to 18 May 1960; Consignment: 3393.
  • 1914 ‘Miscellaneous.’, Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), 19 April, p. 15, viewed 19 February, 2015,
  • Engine-driving life: stirring adventures and incidents in the lives of locomotive engine-drivers; Michael Reynolds; 1881;

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