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30 Aug 2016

Speculative Search in Australia: The Tale of Rosa Jones

From the helpful will of Jane Elizabeth Jones, I could piece together that her sister, Charlotte Jones had sailed for Adelaide in the 1860s and had married at the Mount Barker Inn (or very near) to Mr Tydeman, the innkeeper.  Great!  That certainly beat trying to second guess where Charlotte might have gone, and to then find her in that mystery location.

That meant I'd ticked off the following Jones children: Jane, Charlotte, Mary (a spinster), Amelia (in an asylum), Elizabeth (a grocer's wife), William (went to Tasmania), Edward (deceased).  Hold on, this was not a complete list. 

There was still REBECCA Jones unaccounted for.  Uh oh - she could have gone anywhere in the whole world, or stayed behind in St Peter Port.

Actually she couldn't have stayed behind in St Peter Port as I had combed through all the BMDs for that town and for Guernsey as a whole and there are no spare Joneses hanging around AT ALL.

What if Rebecca had made a similar journey out to Australia that her sister Charlotte had?  Time for another speculative search.

Rebecca Jones marrying South Australia some time around 1865 (give or take)

With this thought, all the hard work had been done.  As Iris Murdoch would say, the story has already been written - now it just needs to arrive on paper.

Her full name was given as Rebecca Rosa Jones, not her birth name, but indicating she preferred to be known as Rosa.  In fact it is as 'Rebecca Jones' that she crossed the oceans but as 'Rosa' that she appears in her last British census entry, at Redhill Surrey.

This might not seem much to go on, but the revelations didn't end there. Her first son was given the middle name of 'Welford', which when I found this (at around 1am) meant that the chances of sleep were going out-of-the-window. 

Welford was the cousin who took on the remote west Queensland valley lands and gave his name to Welford Downs out there, around the time Rosa was reaching Adelaide.  Unfortunately he'd been a little bit too trusting or lacking an understanding of the indigenous migration patterns and been killed.  The book Early Days in North Queensland gives a bit more background to the time.

We also learnt that Rosa's passage had been paid because she was from a family with lots of women in, and (this may be a non sequitur) Adelaide needed an awful lot of women to dilute the flagrant amount of testosterone out there in 1860.  The Archbishop of Adelaide was losing his hair over the problems with his wild flock and wrote asking for 'shiploads of women' to come out 'as soon as possible'.

She arrived on the Emigrant in Spring 1854 with 42 others from her native land (Guernsey) including a multitude of the promised single women of good character.  The Archbishop was delighted.

More about the period with some actual quotes are here:

Rosa has plenty of descendants from her marriage to a Devon shoemaker and unlike Charlotte's, a chunk of these are still in Adelaide.

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