Finding a Family Tree Branch

December 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

In researching my Paternal Great Great Grandfather, I have recently discovered a branch of his family living in Queensland. Details I had previously known, are as follows, Richard PILLAR (Reference: Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885) Born 1 Aug 1820 Down, Nth Ireland, Died 9 Jul 1903 and was buried South Alma, South Australia. He and wife Susan arrived 1855 on board the “Coromandel” his occupation listed as a labourer. The shipping record of the Coromandel gives his age as 37 which would make his birth abt. 1818. A copy of a funeral card I have, gives his death as 9 Jul 1903, aged 83 years, and his death certificate stated aged 82 years. A transcript from SA Cemetery Inscriptions has Birth year as 1821. I have been unable to find his Irish Birth record. From LDS, Film No 101343, Registration District Banbridge, a Marriage solemnised at the Parish Church of Scarva, Down, Ireland of Richard PILLAR, 9 Sep 1853, Full age, Bachelor, Occ. Weaver and Susan SEFTON, Full age Spinster, his residence at time of Marriage, Drumiller (just outside Banbridge, County Down) Father: Thomas, also a weaver.

Last year in reading through some research notes from Dad’s brother now deceased, who had been interested in Family History, I discovered he had noted that a cousin was in possession of a letter written to Richard PILLAR of Boundary Farm at Barabba, South Australia from his sister Mary RUDDELL in Bundaberg, Queensland written in 1866. It concerned the death of her son William somewhere in the vicinity of the Red Sea en route to Queensland. He had left behind a wife and eight children. In the last 12 months, while internet browsing, I stumbled across a website with a Family tree entry which showed a Mary RUDDELL (nee PILLAR) who had arrived in Queensland in 1871 and had a son William born in Armagh, Ireland who had died 9 Oct 1886 on board the ship “Jumna” age 51. I therefore left a comment on this website, to say I think we may have a connection. Later an excited email reply, said “looks like we are fourth Cousins, as Mary is my Great Great Grandmother & her son Thomas, was my Great Grandfather”.   My new found cousin also mentioned that the death of Mary’s son William RUDDELL on the voyage had caused so much heartache. He had been married 3 times and was coming to Australia with his third wife, their children and the children from his previous marriages (though one of his daughter’s had arrived earlier with James PILLAR, sibling to both of our ancestors). The youngest child, an infant boy named Samuel also died, 3 days after his father.

After several discussions with this lady we were both hoping to prove the connection was correct and wanted a copy of this 1866 letter. Fortunately I was able to find a contact email for the family member mentioned to be in possession of this source, and he was happy to scan & send me a copy of this very interesting letter, including the envelope with a Bundaberg postage mark. The top of the letter is dated Nov 29 1886, which is 12 days after the Arrival of the Ship “Jumna”, on which the RUDDELL Family had been travelling. The Letter opens with the words “My Dear Brother it is with deep sorrow of heart that I sit down to write you these few lines to inform you of my son William’s death which took place on his way out to Queensland. The sad event took place while the vessel was passing through the Red Sea, the heat was so great that he was quite overcome and died”! Mary Pillar  The photo here is of Mary RUDDELL. Mary had arrived earlier with another son Richard who was aged 25 at the time and Mary was 62. They came on the Royal Dane which arrived in Brisbane on the 2 Dec 1871. That would mean that Mary was born about 1809 or 1810. Buried with Mary in Bundaberg are her sons, Thomas, Richard (former Mayor of Bundaberg) and Richard’s wife Caroline. Queensland Archives, Index to Registers of Immigrant Ships – Arrivals (1848-1912) confirms the death of William RUDDELL & his infant son and lists the wife Rose and the other 8 children. William was expected to join his mother, Mary a widow, who had gone to Queensland as four of his siblings were all ready there. I have also now found the various records of the arrivals of Mary’s children. The other interesting arrival recorded, in that Eliza RUDDELL, daughter of the deceased William, and granddaughter of Mary age 17 had also arrived beforehand on board “Otago” 5 Apr 1883 with her great uncle James PILLAR. This James is also mentioned in the letter, as “Brother James is in the very best of health and wishes to be remembered to you all”. Mary RUDDELL died 11 Jul 1900 in Bundaberg, Queensland, her death certificate gives her parents’ names as Thomas PILLAR & Elizabeth HUTCHINS, therefore, we now have the name of our Richard’s mother! Not surprised then to find that great great grandfather Richard had used his mother’s name for his first daughter Elizabeth, three of the sons are Thomas, James and Richard and also a daughter Mary Jane. Further details of his now discovered Brother James PILLAR then ascertained as born about 1830 Scarva, Co Down, Ireland died of Influenza in the General Hospital, Bundaberg 20 Jul 1898, he was in Queensland for 15 years. His name spelt as PILLER in Queensland Death records & the parents’ named as Thomas & Elizabeth HUTCHISON. Though the South Australian Death Certificate I had purchased for Richard, did not give any parent details, looks like I now have them.

Carolyn Wheat (nee PILLAR)

Entry filed under: Blog.

Researching Abroad: Finding European & British Isles Ancestors

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