Well, it has literally been months since posting to my blog – how did that happen! So – to get back in to the swing of things I have chosen to start with a piece about my Easter celebrations.
Our family is not a religious family and to us Easter has become much more about spending some fun time together. It has almost become a tradition to sit around together in the sunshine, laughing whilst the children play in the backyard and enjoying the gorgeous weather of autumn. It is such a joy to see the four generations – great-grandparents, grand-parents, parents, and grand-children – enjoying time together. Typically, the weather will change in Tamworth any time from the end of April, becoming increasingly cold as our winter draws in, and Easter is our last chance to get together and enjoy the outdoors for a few months.
Just such a day happened yesterday – Easter Sunday 2017 – a day of perfect sunshine, warm temperatures, a few fluffy clouds in the sky and the hint of a breeze. We had a lovely time together with lots of laughter and games with Cooper and Charlotte – my two eldest grandchildren – and of course – there was plenty of chocolate!
As with any “Preston” get-together, one of our focuses was food, but this Easter I kept it very simple. This gave everyone the best chance of having time to enjoy themselves. The menu was as follows:
Nibbles – Just a bought dip and crackers (I love Coles supermarket)
Main – American Hamburgers with Potato Crisps (the recipe book said it was American, so I guess it was)
Dessert – Chocolate Cake with Cream (thanks Donna Hay)!
I put the burgers together in the kitchen and Cooper & Charlotte delivered them to the adults sitting at the table outside – and they did an excellent job. As we were eating, our newest grand daughter Lexie (just 3 weeks old) made her presence known from her capsule, but went back to sleep again quite quickly, allowing her mum and dad to finish their lunch.
It was a lovely time together; a great opportunity create memories and gather more family photo’s which are just so important, I think.
I think everyone loves to look at wedding photo’s! No matter the time in history, every bride and groom shines on that one special day in their lives.
It came as a small shock to me when I started to research the tradition of the wedding gown to find that a “white wedding” is a relatively recent addition to the customs of a wedding day.
Prior to and during the medieval period brides of high social standing wore gowns of bright colours and rich fabric. The less wealthy groups of society still saw the marriage bond as sacred and dressed to whatever their budget would allow
The person widely credited with starting the tradition of wearing a white wedding gown was Queen Victoria who married on 10 Feb 1840, a mere 176 years ago. One hundred and seventy six years is but a snap of the fingers in relation to the length of time that the marriage bond has been around. However the tradition of a bride wearing white spread slowly and they still tended to be worn by the elite classes of society for many years.
Of course the type of gowns worn are sometimes dictated by history itself. During the Great Depression, when both material and funds were limited, brides once again returned to wearing their best outfit, light or dark, as evidenced by one of the above photographs.
We have free reign over our choice of wedding gowns these days, but whilst the style and fabric of the gown are still dictated by available funds, white is worn by women of all classes. The choice of wearing a coloured gown is still the brides and for my own wedding I chose to be married in cream rather than traditional white.
I simply never realised that the ritual of wearing a white wedding gown had not emerged until such recent times.
The only thing I know about this absolutely stunning birthday greeting, which was sent to Ines Maude Bailey nee: Smith by her sister Ruby May Jeffrey nee: Smith, is that it would have been sent in late October between the years of 1900 and about 1910, so that the card reached my Grandmother Ines by her birthday on 2 November. It is in the collection of postcards kept by Ines, and her husband Edward Thomas Bailey.
The front of the birthday greeting postcard is decorated with multi-coloured glitter which seems almost as bright as it would have been over 100 years ago. My grandmother must have thought it beautiful to have kept it in their collection.
In 1900 Grandma’s sister Ruby would only have been 11 years old and I believe her handwriting suggest someone just a little older – perhaps Ruby sent it closer to 1905 – 1910.
I thought that the wording on the front of the card also suggested that Ruby may have been older when she sent it to Grandma Ines.
Ruby was 6 years younger than Ines, but they seemed to share a close sisterly relationship.
Ann Elizabeth Downey was apparently widely know as Elizabeth. She was the first child of Alice and George Downey and was born in 1895 in Tamworth, New South Wales. It’s interesting to note that Alices’ mother’s name was Ann nee: Orman and George’s mother’s name was Elizabeth nee: Arney/Harney, but it is only speculation on my part to suggest this child had been named after her grandmothers.
Ann Elizabeth was simply putting the kettle on the fire when her life, and that of her parents , was changed for evermore when her dress caught alight. Her burns must have been significant and treatment of severe burns in the early 1900’s would not have met her needs. Prior to the 1950’s it was expected that a person would not survive burns if they covered 20% or more of the body. Ann Elizabeth may have been treated with topical medicines perhaps in the nature of lard, honey, butter, eggs and milk, flour, vinegar, turpentine or plant oils – general treatments that had been used for many years prior to her accident. She would almost certainly have succumbed to infection of her open wounds, as this was the common cause of death amongst burns victims of the era.
How terribly sad to loose a child.
I wonder if there are any surviving pictures of her amongst the family?
As always folks, family history is a fluid thing. It can change dramatically with the discovery of just one document! And thus – I must admit to a mistake.
It would seem that our John may have lived in much more comfortable circumstances than first thought with my discovery of his fathers will. Thomas Fuller was a Yoeman which essentially means that he was a commoner but held and farmed his own land. During this period (late 1500s – to mid 1600s) the size of the land holdings varied considerably, but he may have held as much as 100 acres. The family’s social standing was considered to be above that of peasant, but below castle royalty and gentry. John would still have worked hard on the family land, but the family would certainly have been able to afford better quality food, including meat.
When Thomas died in 1615 he bequeathed Forty Pounds to each of his sons John and James at age 20 years, and Twenty Pounds to each of his daughters – Mary, Ann, Suzan, Martha and Sarah at age 20 years. John was 25 at the time of his fathers death so would have been well established by the time of his marriage to Joan/Joane Moth on 10 Nov 1619. He would have been able to provide a comfortable home for his wife and future children.
During the first years of Johns marriage to Joane the Mayflower left England arrived on the shores of America, Maffeo Barberini is elected as Pope Urbane VIII and St. Peters Bascilica at the Vatican is completed. John and Joan had 5 children and they were:
John – baptised 20 Oct 1520, Nicholas – 1625-1625, Edward 1631 – 1638, Joan 1633 – 1681, and Elizabeth b. 1640, and of course with all the years standing out as gaps between the children their were probably others born to the couple.
So, I thought we could learn about what it might have been like to be a child in the 1590’s.
During the first ten years of Johns life Elizabeth 1 is still the reigning monarch, but I wonder if John ever knew that! In 1599 A number of Shakespears plays are performed for the first time including Much A Do About Nothing, and Oliver Cromwell is born.
It’s very interesting to me that some children’s games that we know and grew up with were being played by our ancestors hundreds of years ago. Until the age of 5 or 6 years John would have played hide and seek, tag, and ring around a rosy with his friends and siblings, just as we did as children, just as our own children have done. I fancy that if I had been John’s mother, and was living in a one or two bedroom home, tending to the garden and cooking over an open fire, that I would have taken a great deal of joy in sending the children outside to play tag or hide and seek in the surrounding country side. And really – how many hiding places could there be in a dwelling so small? I can almost hear the children’s voices and laughter tumbling through the tree’s and fields as they chase madly after one another. Other pastimes would have included swimming and fishing – pastimes well known to all children throughout the ages.
John and his siblings were probably bare footed in warmer weather although in the winter snow they may have had the luxury of a pair of plain leather shoes, rounded at the toes and laced up the front. Our John would have been dressed in a scaled down version of male adult clothing and this would have consisted of breeches, an over shirt with long sleeves and a doublet (fitted jacket/vest).
From an early age John would have had to work to help his family. As the child of a peasant there was most likely no chance of any formal education and so at the age of just 6 years or so John would have worked alongside his father in the fields or tending to the animals. Whether that was for themselves, or for someone else as tenant farmers is unknown. It is well documented though that during this period unemployment was high and roughly 50% of the population lived with barely enough food, clothing or shelter.
During the late 1590’s crops failed and food was in short supply so John’s diet would have been very plain. Breakfast would have consisted of bread made from rye or barley, some cheese and some onions. There was most likely only one cooked meal which would have consisted of water mixed with some type of grain, vegetables that were grown in their garden, and perhaps some strips of meat if the family could afford them. Just maybe the children caught a fish now and again. No chance of a croissant here!
John was actually lucky to reach the age of 6 years, as there was an extremely high mortality rate for infants and children. There were no vaccinations so of course childhood diseases such as measles and mumps were killers, as were dysentery, scarlet fever and whooping cough, small pox and pneumonia. One tenth of all children born died before their 1st birthday and a further 30% of children died before reaching the age of 15 years. Accidents were also a cause of death during this period and drowning was the most reported cause of death in children under 5 years, while accidents such as being trampled by horses and receiving cracked skulls from being dropped by older siblings were also recorded. No matter what the accident or illness the children were treated by their mothers with herbal remedies and often in highly unsanitary conditions.
The Church and worship played a huge roll in the lives of our ancestor’s living in Heathfield in England. The church where John, his sibling and parents, attended services was most likely the All Saints Church which was originally built in the 13th century and has a large churchyard. Because of the family’s peasant background they probably stood toward the back of the church during services looking toward the front of the church, which now displays a beautiful stained glass window. Only the wealthy were actually able to sit to listen to services. Our family would have faithfully worshipped and would have had a real fear, as did most people of this period, of going to hell should they not live a god fearing life.
There is no headstone in the adjoining graveyard for anyone with the name of Fuller, although that does not mean that ancestors have not been burried there.
It was our good fortune that John Fuller not only survived his childhood but went on to marry and have five children of his own, and we will learn more about that next time.
What the heck could I possibly know about a man who was baptised some time in 1590 and died in February of 1668.
Well, the answer is nothing! – and everything! The truth is that, whilst we don’t know the individual and there is no photographic evidence that he ever lived, we can learn about the documented times and conditions in which John Fuller lived, and follow the paper trail he left behind. Researching life in the Early Modern period will give us a glimpse into the man that was my 10 x great grandfather on my maternal side of the family, what he lived through, how he ate, worked and enjoyed life – so here goes.
Born in 1590, John Fuller came into a nation that was just a little less worried about witchcraft and evil spirits than his parents and grandparents were born into. The country was being ruled by Elizabeth 1 and it was also the year that Shakespear wrote Romeo and Juliet. But these things may as well have been a world and a lifetime away from the lifestyle of John’s family.
As far as we know, John was the first of five children born to Thomas and Jane Fuller who were living in or near Heathfield, England. There is no indication that the family was anything but a hard working peasant family; no wealth or prominent position within the community that I can find. I hope I am not assuming too much here. The life expectancy was very low with many, many dying before their 40th year.
What would family life have been like in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s for our John? It is likely that John’s parents were very young, especially his mother, as during this time there was no legal age for marriage . It was common at the time to consider a girl of 14 years to be too old for marriage. Jane’s role in life would have been to produce sons to carry on Thomas’s family name and help him work to provide for the family. This concept was held by royalty and peasant alike during theEarly Modern period of history. Birthing was a dangerous time for the woman due to having no formal medical treatment available to them. The risk of infection or death to the mother and/or baby was high, so John’s survival and his mother’s recovery would have been very happy news.
Johns father’s word as male head of the house was law – a view that was taught by both parents and the church at the time. John’s mother Jane would have had little to no say in the running of the family. The only education that Jane would have had would have been instruction on how to run a home, tend to a vegetable garden and cook, which she would have received from her mother. It is unlikely though, that Thomas would have received a formal education of any kind either. It is likely that neither of John’s parents could read or write.
As peasants, his parents probably had a one or two room home made of wood by Thomas, with a small vegetable and herb garden close by. There would have been a fireplace in the house over which Jane cooked the family meals in a cauldron and prepared simple herbal remedies for illness, but it is unlikely that there was a fireplace . There was no glass in windows, only shutters to keep out the wind. A bed of straw, a table, a stool or bench, a chest to store clothing in, and perhaps a small box cradle would have been the only furniture. The floor was most likely compacted earth which, if they were lucky, was covered in straw for warmth and the family would have shared the house with their animals which would be cordoned off to one area. The house was most likely lit by rushes which had been dipped in animal fat, as candles were too expensive.
Into this house our John was born! In the next post we will find out a little of what John’s child hood would have been like.
Today (9/5/16) is Lola Gwen Preston nee: Allsopp’s 85th birthday and what better way to celebrate than to publish the last installment of the story of her life, so far. The years between her marriage and when her son’s were nearly grown men were busy and filled with all the joy’s and sorrow’s of marriage and motherhood:
Whilst Wayne (Lola & Teds middle son) was still living at home I took on house cleaning and he would drop me off to the house before going to work, then either dad or Wayne would pick me up on their way home for lunch. (Interview 5 Aug 2015)
In 1980 Lola listed the following things as her favourites:
Music – Rock and Roll especially Elvis Presley Films – Gone with the Wind and Western Films
Actors – John Wayne, John Weissmuler (Tarzan) and Jerry Lewis TV Programs – Quincey, Kaz, Chips and Eddie Capra Town – Toowoomba Food – Chinese meals, sweets, cakes & pastries, lollies Colour – Blue and Autumn Tones Sundries – Colgate Toothpaste, Palmolive or Lux Soap and Carnation & Honeysuckle Talcum Powder From Avon
In 1981 Lola and Ted went down to visit family in Singleton for the weekend and enjoyed themselves immensely. Whilst there she was given her Grandfathers (Michael Allsop) Bible by Leila Shade and Myra Crow (distant cousins) and they also gave her a photo of Michael Allsop which is printed on glass and is kept in a wooden box. The photo is approximately 130 or so years old (2015).
Lola often says that in 1990 when taking a trip to visit family in New Zealand, she was extremely nervous whilst waiting in the airport at Sydney, and this continued as she boarded the plane. Lola had never flown before. Mum was seated next to aisle with Ted beside her and her brother Gordon by the window. Ted and Gordon spent a good proportion of the flight trying to encourage mum to look out the window, but she flatly refused. Mum found the return trip much easier.
Lola and Ted visit their son Michael most years in about the September, but apart from these trips they didn’t venture very far except for a few day trips with Senior Citizens and Mick (Lola’s Brother) around the Tamworth area. The trips with Mick (Francis) were between 2004 – 2007.
On September 9, 2015 Lola and Ted went on a Day Trip with Oxley Community Transport with took them to the Lookout at Tamworth where they got out and had a really good look around. They hadn’t been to the Lookout in over 20 years and noticed a lot of improvements to the area. They could not believe how the city had grown. From the Lookout they boarded the bus and went out to The Pub on Gunnedah Road for Lunch. They really enjoyed the Pub as it was the first time they had been there and they found the food very nice. The menu was provided before the trip so that you could choose what you would like and The Pub had it ready for them. Lola and Ted both had the Roast Chicken and Vegetables. For dessert Lola had Passionfruit Cheesecake and Ice cream and Dad had Sticky Date Pudding with Custard. They both enjoyed a drink and then the bus returned them to their home. They were glad to see that they knew a few people on the trip and both of them enjoyed the trip immensely.
On September 15, 2015 Lola and Ted decided to go on a Senior Citizens Mystery Trip, boarding the bus at the Community Centre in Darling Street about 8.00 am so they could get a good seat. The bus driver announced that they would be going to Muswellbrook. They arrived at Scone at about 11.00 am and had morning tea in the park. Then they continued on to Muswellbrook noting how beautiful and green the countryside was. There was also a lot of water – dams were full, creeks were full and flowing. The bus stopped at the Cheese Factory at 75 Aberdeen Street, Muswellbrook where they had a presentation and were given a cheese tasting. Dad didn’t really care for the cheese but mum thought two of them were lovely. From there they went to the RSL Club for lunch where Ted enjoyed a meal of Roast Beef and Vegies and Lola had Fish and Chips. They each had Apple Pie and Custard for sweets. The bus driver announced the departure time as 2.30 and returned them home to Tamworth safely. Lola and Ted enjoyed the trip immensely, although they were very tired by the end of it.
Back Row: Brett Marcus Preston, Courtney Amber Stein, Julie Preston nee Di Salvia, Terry Preston, Lucas Brent Preston, Alisha Jane Preston nee: Stubbs Front Row: Ted and Lola Preston with great grandchildren.
Lola and Ted both enjoy a weekly trip to South Tamworth Bowling Club on Thursday night where they sit with friends, have a drink and something to eat (Lola loves a glass of “red”), and try their luck at the raffles. Lola has always been fiercly protective of her children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren alike, and adores any time she can spend with them.
For Mothers Day 2016 we continue the story of the life of my husband’s mum:
After finishing Tech I started work at a mixed business called Money Savers. The shop sold groceries, men’s wear, home linens etc., and it was situated on the corner of Peel and Bourke Streets in Tamworth. I was put off from Money Savers just before my 21st birthday.
I was only out of work for a few weeks when I got a job at Penny’s Clothing Store. They also sold lollies, drinks, men’s, ladies, and children’s wear. I was Department Head for the babies wear section. I was only at Penny’s a few days when I was rushed to hospital by ambulance from work with appendicitis and was off work for about a month and I really believed that I would loose my job, but the boss Mr Hargraves kept the job open for me. Whilst I was working there I joined the Treloar Girls Marching Team and we did very well at a number of competitions in Tamworth, Goulbourn, Singleton and Maitland. We won 2nd place and received a medal.
When I turned 21 Mum and Dad threw a great birthday party for me at their home – Kerribrae – in Attunga. The party was held on the veranda which ran around 3 sides of the house. There was lots of food and I think that most people brought a plate and as always with Allsopp get togethers there was plenty of grog. A friend (the bus driver) Ray Flexman and another chap played the music for the party. He played the saxophone and flute and the other fellow played drums. There was dancing and singing with lots of family and friends. Mum and dad gave me a lovely soft pink tea set.
I left Penny’s Store in November 1955 and went to Sydney with Mrs Kirk to buy the material for my wedding gown and veil and make not only the bridal gown, but also the bridesmaids dresses. I had never been to Sydney and could not believe how tall the buildings were. Mrs Kirk’s daughter Barbara went cross on me and told me not to look up at all the buildings. It was the first time I had ever seen and escalator and I was scared stiff to get on it. The bridesmaids (Peggy Roach and Mavis Jones) bought their own material which was the same but in different colours. The colours were mauve and green so that I could have the girls carry my favourite flower – yellow daffodils. I made my wedding dress and the bridesmaids dresses cutting them all out on the lounge room floor of our home at Currububula. Peggy Roach’s mother, Bertha Roach, made our wedding cake which was 2 tiered and had a small silver vase sitting on the top, which has tiny flowers in it.
Our friends gave us a lovely kitchen tea, mostly thanks to Mrs Bertha Roach and there was dancing as well. We got lots of lovely gifts as the do was quite large. On the day that Ted and I got married we dared to have lunch together in a café in Peel Street, Tamworth and it caused an uproar with family, as you weren’t supposed to see each other until arriving at the church.
After our honeymoon we came back to live at Currabubula and work for Mr Kirk on Willowvale. We stayed there for 8 1/2 years and our first and second boys – Terry and Wayne – were born whilst living there. After buying our house in Churchill street in Tamworth we had another son – Michael. My mum and dad Cyrus and Florence Allsopp lived with us for a number of years. Around this time I starting sewing from home making quite a few school uniforms for customers. They would buy there own material and pattern and I would charge a set amount according to what was required in the making of the garment. The child would come for a fitting during the making and most of the uniforms were for girls. I did make a ball gown for Coral Moss and she actually won Bell of the Ball. I also used to make shirts for our three boys.
Lola Gwen Allsopp was born on 9 May 1931 at the Bungalow Private Hospital in Murray Street, Tamworth. The Bungalow lay between the current day (2016) underpass and Peel Street.
Lola explained to me “It was run by Mrs Weaver and at the time of my birth my family was living at Somerton, a small village about 22 miles from Tamworth. My father worked for Messers. J. F & S. Vickery.”
One bright spring morning in September of 2015, as Lola and I sat at the kitchen table drinking a cup of tea, she went on to tell me all about her early years.
“I was baptised in the parish of Manilla on 26 Jul 1931 at the Church of England Church and I had no Godparents.”
“My father was then shifted to “Bective Station” still working for Mr Vickery in about 1935, and I grew up playing with my four older brothers – Francis (Mick), Alan, Donald and Gordon (Pop). At the age of 4 years I fell off the veranda of our house, splitting my forehead open just above my left eye I was taken to the Tamworth Hospital and had my forehead stitched and was allowed to go home. The next day my face and forehead were very red and swollen so Mum and Dad took me back to see the doctor. When he took the bandage off the stitches were on the bandage. I had an infection in the wound which eventually left a scar over my eye. The scar is still there to this day”.
“I started school at the age of six. My brother Gordon had to double me to school on his push bike. We went to Bective School which was approximately 3 miles from our home. Our teachers were Mr Bendeich and his wife. Mrs Bendeich mainly taught the girls sewing. When Gordon left Bective School I had to ride an old horse named Maudie to school. To finish primary school I had to go to Byamee Public School and whilst there my girlfriend Lola Campbell brought some cigarettes to school. We climbed a tree and each had a few puffs, but I didn’t like it. During my time at Byamee School we played a fair bit of sport ie: ball games, running and high jumps. I was pretty good at running and high jumping but Lola Campbell was always a bit better. I remember getting the cane whilst I was as Byamee school, but I don’t remember why I got it – must have been very naughty though. It was the only time I ever got the cane”.
“From there I moved on to Tamworth High School. At that time the high school was situated where East Tamworth Primary School is today – at the corner of Upper and Brisbane Streets (2016). I attended high school until the end of 3rd year when I was 14 1/2 years old, leaving in 1946 because I disliked school so very much. My best subjects were science and religion (believe it or not!) and I also liked home duties and sport – especially running and hockey in the back position. I didn’t get my leaving certificate. I remember wagging school one day with a couple of friends and we went to the movies. I wrote my own absence note the next day and handed it in to the headmaster. A couple of days later some other kid went to the headmaster and dobbed us in. The headmaster made us go home and tell our parents and mum had to write a note to confirm what we had done that day. I don’t actually remember being punished for this though”.
“Upon leaving school I stayed home to help my mother until I was about 15 years old. We had a big home and a large family to look after. The chores included housekeeping, tending to the large vegetable and flower gardens and orchard, and cooking”.
“At that age I started attending Tamworth Technical College to learn dressmaking and tailoring. The Tech College used to be near where the Council building is today in Peel Street (2016). I did well with my dressmaking but failed my tailoring exam. I made a white linen suit for my tailoring exam and the teacher made me line it with muslin. I was told I failed the exam simply because of the muslin, which should never have been used. After the exam I took the lining out and was able to wear the suit. I was roughly 18 1/2 years old when I finished Tech”.