6. Past Belongings : a digital collection of historical belongings to share
One of the rewarding and magical parts of connecting with far flung descendants of William Bellingham Cairnes and Elizabeth Matthews is the unearthing , so to speak, of personal objects,belonging to past relatives, that are being held within the extended family. Sadly I don’t possess any myself, but creating this virtual collection to share is rewarding.
I thought it would be a good place to create a digital museum of these objects, in the hope that more will come to light and also be shared here. Anyone who may have items of interest are made welcome to share. Leave a comment or contact me.
Terry ( WBC was his Great Grandfather and his father was Jack Cairnes, middle son of WBC’s youngest son Thomas) and his wife Linda , of Melbourne have kindly allowed me to photograph some of their family mementoes and share them here.
They have an old cash box and a plaque from WBC, and an original copy of the 1906 H C Lawlors “History of the Cairnes”( which you can find digitised online), and an invaluable photograph album of WBC’s. Also an original letter from WBC’s brother to their father also named Montgomery.
Nita Burgess of Melbourne ( WBC was her Great Grandfather) has also sent photos of a plate with the family emblem, and the Writing Chest of Theresa , Mrs Montgomery Cairnes. Theresa was brought out to Australia, by WBC, when her husband died. Nita has shared letters and photos too.
Kay Bowman, Nita’s sister and also of Melbourne, has contributed some wonderful photographs and letters held in her care. Their father was Alan Edward Cairnes, 3rd son of WBC’s youngest son, Thomas William Cairnes
Richard Rawson , also from Victoria ( his great grandmother was Annie Irwin Cairnes) ( WBC was his Great Great Grandfather) has devoted part of his family history website to WBC and you can see a copy of WBC’s 1918 will and testament there. On reading this Will, made when WBC was 86, it seems he does not discriminate between his sons and daughters and shares everything in a fair manner. It also demonstrates a man with a tender heart and great care of his children and grandchildren.
Justine Dorval, from Western Australia, has also shared photos and invaluable information. WBC was her great great grandfather, and her great grandfather was Montgomery Cairnes , WBC’s second son. On his death his wife Alice took her 3 sons and settled in Perth, thus starting a Cairnes enclave in W.A.
Jacye Hargreaves, my 3rd cousin on my maternal grandmother’s side, was discovered quite accidentally, volunteering at the Mulwala Yarrawonga Museum the very day I arrived. She has kindly shared an enormous amount of information. There is photographic evidence of WBC, his wife and their lives at the museum.
Dr Marjorie Theobald, an historian, and a former secretary of Castlemaine’s History Society has also been helpful and generous with her information. It was she who flagged up that Mary Matthews, Elizabeth’s mother, was the 1st matron of the 1st Castlemaine Hospital. ( this was how I found their signatures on the 1891 Suffrage Petition). She also knew that WBC had been living in a tent near Robert and Mary Matthews mining cottage in 1854/55, thus falling in love with their only daughter and marrying her when she was only 15. Thankfully her 1st child William was not born until 3 years later! Looking at the photo of Elizabeth Matthews aged 19, she was obviously one of Castlemaine’s young beauties.
Jocelyn Brigden, whose mother was WBC’s grandchild, has shared a postcard sent to her family by WBC with a photo of Montgomery Cairnes and a message on the back.
Another thank you must go to Sue Welsman ( WBC was her Great Great Grandfather and her great grandmother was Emily Bellingham Cairnes. Emily’s daughter Helen had her 100th birthday this month -2013 !)
I hope that more descendants recall more stories or photographs to share with us.
A click on each photo will bring up a larger file to view.