Saturday, January 5, 2013

Our photo of Hannah Hughan ISN'T Hannah Hughan

The photo above has for many decades thought to be a wonderful photo of Hannah Oakley least, that is what it was identified as on the back. It had the stamp of 'Davies & Co, Photographers' on the back, a company who operated in Melbourne from as early as the 1860s.
  Another photograph seemed to complete a matching pair...this one was of a man wearing lairy trousers with a bold look in his eye...and both photos appeared to be sketched rather than photographed.

 Today I discovered a brilliant forum for helping people date and restore their old photographs, so I posted this photo of "Hannah Hughan" and the corresponding one of the mystery man, and the wonderful people on's 'Photograph Restoration & Dating forum' had solved the mystery in under an hour.

  Well..the reason why Hannah Hughan bore such a strong resemblence to Queen Victoria is that the photo IS of Queen Victoria!!!!!!! And the other photo is of her husband, Prince Albert!!!! How on earth the distinctive-looking Victoria could be designated as Hannah Hughan is anyone's guess...I never even suspected, despite the resemblance, although I did some time ago have a poke around other images of Victoria for comparison purposes. I though our "Hannah" was less fleshy around the jowls than Victoria, and that her Albert wouldn't have been seen dead in the outfit being worn by the man in our photo. wrong I was!!!

   Prue, one of the experts on the forum, as well as stating that she thought the photos were of Victoria and Albert, pointed out that "As the picture of the lady is a photograph of an engraving, it is unlikely to be your ancestor unless she was illustrious or otherwise important enough to warrant having an engraving done and then copied...that would be very rare."

 This advice sent me back into the archives of photographs of Queen Victoria and Albert, and once I started searching specifically for engravings, the matching photographs were located. They were identical to my photos, and were engravings done by D.J Pound, from photographs taken by John Jabez Edwin Paisley Mayall, photographer of the first carte-de-visite photograph of Queen Victoria taken in 1860.

So....the mystery of the bold man is solved, and Queen Victoria's rightful identity has been restored, all thanks to a brilliant website and the kindness of others in contributing their time and expertise to help out others in need of assistance and guidance.

  I have added this to my blog because of the importance of correcting this case of mistaken identity. I have had this photo of Queen Victoria posted on this blog for several years now as Hannah Hughan, and presumably there are people who have copied it into their own research as Hannah. I am hoping that these people will see this blog entry and remove her from their work for the sake of accuracy. I am also going to have to remove the photo from my Ancestry tree and try to contact those people who have pasted Queen Victoria into their own illustrious families.

  It really is quite hilarious that a photograph taken in Melbourne in the 1860s of a photograph of an engraving of a photo taken in London in 1860  ended up being falsely identified as an important member of our Hughan tree who bore a strong resemblance to Queen Victoria when in reality she was the Monarch herself!!!
  I just hope that the other identifications on the backs of photos in our old 19th century family albums are correct.....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hannah Oakley Hughan's Family-The Oakleys of Essex.

I have been gathering information about Hannah's family for several years now, greatly aided over the last 12 months by the online availability of images of the parish registers from the county of Essex. I have not completed my Oakley research in Essex to my satisfaction as yet, but have decided to publish what I have discovered so far in an attempt to correct some of the misinformation that has appeared online re. Hannah Oakley's parentage. These mistakes appear on several family trees published on, and hopefully by revealing the facts as I have found them so far, these researchers may be able to either correct their information, or show evidence as to how they came about their conclusions.

  The only information as to Hannah's origins came from three sources....her death certificate and  two application forms for her sons Fergus and Allan to attend the Royal Caledonian School in London.

Of course, the information provided on the application forms must be favoured over that given on Hannah's 1860 death certificate. The forms were filled in by either Hannah or her husband Robert Hughan, and so contain first hand information. The informant on Hannah's death certificate was one of her son-in-laws, Henry Edmiston, who is known to have made at least one other mistake on the certificate when he neglected to name one of Hannah's children.

 Henry stated that Hannah Oakley was born at Ipswich, Suffolk, and that her parents were John Oakley, miller, and Hannah.

  The school forms nominated Hannah's birthplace as St.Botolphs parish, Borough of Colchester, Essex.

  Of course, both locations had to be investigated, so it was off to Suffolk first in an attempt to find any trace of a John and Hannah Oakley. Sure enough, there was one such couple...on April 24, 1786, John Oakley, widower of All Saints, Newmarket, widower, married Hannah Gardener, spinster, of St. James, Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk. No luck in finding a daughter named Hannah born around 1800, however.

  Switching direction to neighbouring Essex, I concentrated my search around the old city of Colchester. Not only was St. Botolphs Parish, Colchester, recorded as Hannah's birthplace on the enrolment forms, but several Hughan children were also reportedly born there.

Hannah's date of birth was recorded as November 5 1801, on her simple headstone marking her grave in the cemetery at Brighton, Victoria. The baptism entry shown above, and taken from the parish register of St. Andrews, Greenstead, Essex, is from June 1802...totally within the reasonable period in which to baptise a baby as Hannah would have been seven months old.
The father is correct- but the mother is Elizabeth rather than the supposed 'Hannah' as taken from Hannah Hughan's death certificate. Greenstead was a tiny settlement just outside the boundary of Colchester, so the location was also acceptable.

I searched for a will for John Oakley of Essex, and whilst it did not appear in the usual PCC will index that I use, there was a will for a John Oakley, 1796, who was from Ardleigh, in Essex, and who was a MILLER!!!!! It was soon established that Ardleigh was a stone's throw from Greenstead, and that it was actually a part of the parish of St. Botolphs, Colchester.

From that moment, everything fell beautifully into place, and soon I had Hannah's father, John Oakley, as the owner of a fulling mill that he had inherited from his father, the John Oakley in the fact, the John Oakley name went back as far as I could trace- Hannah's father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all named John Oakley or Ockly. Old wills proved to be a Godsend, providing clues to family relationships that I was not able to dig up anywhere else. I will be going into greater detail in subsequent blog entries, but very basically what I discovered about our Hannah's genealogy was as follows:

Her parents were John Oakley, a fulling miller and land owner from the Colchester district of Essex, and his second wife, a widow named Elizabeth Rebecca Frost. John's first wife was Susannah Wendon or Wynden, and soon after her death in January 1799 he married Elizabeth Frost. Elizabeth bore John two daughters, Hannah and Lucy, and I believe that she also had a family with her first husband. I have not been able to definitely pinpoint Elizabeth's maiden name and first husband, but I have my hunches and will present them later.

Above: Map of the district which was the home of Hannah Oakley's family for generations. Crockleford Mill, which was owned by the Oakley family, can be seen to be located in a detached part of St. Botolph's parish. St. Andrew's Church, Greenstead, is also visible.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Allan Hughan's Grave

Above: The iron enclosure that surrounds the grave of Allan Hughan.

Above: The mysterious second grave on the hill with that of Allan Hughan...old stories suggest that it was the place of burial of a "Chinaman".

Above: The final resting place of Allan Ramsay Cunningham Hughan.

Above: The second smaller grave that lies alongside Allan Hughan's.

Above: The two graves together.

Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of Max Shekleton, who followed up on the stories and rumours about an Englishman's grave in the wilderness of a local property, 2011 saw the rediscovery of Allan Hughan's final resting place.

His will, written not long before his death on November 16, 1883, at the age of 46, stated quite firmly his wishes regarding the final fate of his body after death:

"My great desire is that my body be buried at sea outside the reef, or at Tembea in some quiet remote corner, in the plainest coffin possible, the same to be filled with quicklime, Nature's slow corruption is horrible to think of. Would that my remains could be burnt."

It seems that his wish was granted in the form of a remote grave site at Tembea(now called Timbia, but referred to by Allan in various documents as 'Tembea') that overlooks a lagoon and reef.

Mysteriously, there is another small grave on the hill with Allan's. Could it be that of his daughter, Ruth Hughan Holworthy, who died just months before her father in May 1883, aged only 22 years? Or is there truth in the story that a Chinaman was buried on the hill beside "The Englishman"?

You would not think that Ruth would be buried in such a remote part of the property...her husband and later her small son would have surely wanted to visit her grave, so you would imagine that she was buried somewhere that was 'easy access' and not requiring a hike up a mountain!

The photos above, taken by a friend of Max's who most kindly made the trek to locate and photograph the graves, display both the large and small burial enclosures. There is no headstone or inscription on either grave, but it is most probable that the larger of the two is Allan Hughan's.

Maybe one day family of Allan's can visit this most beautiful, serene place and pay their respects to a most interesting and complex character.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Whooo Hoo...I found Malvina!!!

I just can't express the utter joy that I am feeling at the moment...only other passionate researchers would have any chance of sharing the exhilaration that I am experiencing after finding a piece of information that I have been seeking for years.

My great-great grandmother's eldest sister, Malvina Hughan, was an incredible woman who was deeply religious. She was also very intelligent, and could speak several languages. I knew that she married John Octavus Lord in late 1845 somewhere near Beirut, had two children who died, and died herself in the latter part of the 1840s. I could never find the details of her death, no matter what avenue I tried, and have always hated the fact that Malvina's story could not be finished until I discovered when and where she died.

Well....just minutes ago the big breakthrough was made, and all thanks to the brilliant British Newspaper Archive website. I have spent the weekend working on lookups for other lines of my family, and using the very last of my credits I decided to search for "John Octavus Lord" as I had not looked for him or Malvina since last year.

Only two hits came up...the Reading Mercury from March 25, 1848, carried the following report:

" DIED: On the 23rd of February, 1848, at Salonica, Turkey, in Europe, of consumption, Maloina (sic), the beloved wife of Mr John Octavus Lord. Her end was perfect peace."

Whoooo hooo!!!! That's my girl!!! Incorrect spelling, but my ggg Aunt, never the less. And not only did I discover that the gentle soul died just after her 26th birthday, but that it was consumption that claimed her young life, not typhoid fever as was the family story.

The death notice from the Berkshire Chronicle spelled her name correctly:-


My sense of relief is enormous...I feel as though the last piece of the vast Hughan puzzle has finally dropped into place. There are plenty more mysteries to be solved with this complicated bunch - enough to keep this researcher rolling along for years- but it was the last piece of crucial 'birth, death and marriage' information that I had to find for the nine Hughan siblings.

Aahhhhh (sigh of complete contentment) Although...I really wish that I could find out what happened to Malvina's paternal grandparents, Alexander Hughan and Agnes never ends!!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Photographs of Hubert Carl Hughan and family.

Above: Oscar Hughan's great-grandchildren, the children of his grandson Hubert Carl Cahill Hughan. Left to Right: Philip who has 4 children (Stephanie, Michele, Gaynor,and Philip), Grace (Hubert's eldest who had Judith and Jenny) Margaret (who had Robert and Karen), and Fred( the youngest who had Frances). This lovely photo and accompanying information was provided by Karen Dean, the daughter of Margaret Cahill, and was taken on the occasion of Margaret's 60th birthday.

Above: Hubert Carl Hughan/ Cahill, who served in both World Wars. (Source: Karen Dean)

Above: Hubert Hughan Cahill, WW2. (Source: Karen Dean)

Above: Hubert Cahill and his wife Ethel Burnett (married 1926) at the wedding of their son Phillip Hubert Cahill to Gloria Antoinette Prince in 1958. The young man next to them is their youngest son, Fred Cahill. (Source: Karen Dean)