A Staggered Emigration - The Bull Family

Walter Bull and Harriet Shadwell are my fourth great grandparents; I am descended from their daughter Amy Rosetta who married John James Weatherstone, grandson of one of my convicts John Weatherstone aka the "notorious runaway".

Walter Bull was born about 1831 in Wiltshire to James Bull, a labourer, and his wife Jane Todd. He was christened in Steeple Ashton on 17 July 1831.

In 1841, Walter was living in the village of Rowde with his parents and siblings Luke, James, Ruth, Thirza, Lydia, and Harry.

From findmypast.com's 1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census Image Collection from The National Archives, London, England.

A decade later, in 1851, Walter was still living with his parents in Rowde, Wiltshire, working as an agricultural labourer, like his father and brother Luke.

From findmypast.com's 1851 England, Wales & Scotland Census Image Collection from The National Archives, London, England. 

Harriet Shadwell was born about 1833 in Wiltshire to Henry Shadwell and Louisa Mead. She was christened in Melksham on 16 March 1834.

I haven’t been able to find the Shadwell’s in the 1841 Census, but in the 1851 Census, just months before her marriage, Harriet is found as a house servant to the Lyall family in Fulham.

From findmypast.com's 1851 England, Wales & Scotland Census Image Collection from The National Archives, London, England.

Walter and Harriet’s marriage was registered in the December Quarter of 1851 in Trowbridge, Wilshire. (Their wedding certificate is on my rather large “to buy” list, that at last glance would cost me well in to the thousands of dollars to finalise, and sometimes it is just too hard to prioritise which one I want next!)

According to their death certificates, Walter and Harriet had 15 children. I have been able to identify 11 of them (if the death certificates are accurate, there should be another two males and another two females):

  1. William S (b. c. 1852-3 - ?) (At this stage, I am unsure whether William ever made it to adulthood or immigrated to Australia) 
  2. Lydia (b. Dec. Qtr 1855, Wiltshire - d. bef. Dec. 1856)
  3. Lydia Elizabeth (b. 29 December 1856, Rowde, Wiltshire - d. Mar. Qtr 1857, Rowde, Wiltshire)
  4. Jane (b. Mar. Qtr 1859, Melksham, Wiltshire - d. bef. 1861)
  5. Walter Henry (b. c. 1862, Melksham, Wiltshire - d. 12 April 1936, Wallsend, NSW)
  6. Thomas John Joseph (b. c. 1865-8 - d. c. 1945, Granville, NSW)
  7. Edith Maud (b. Dec. Qtr 1867, Melksham, Wiltshire - d. 3 January 1946, Manly, NSW)
  8. Amy Rosetta (b. Mar. Qtr 1870, Kensington, Middlesex - d. 27 March 1949, Newcastle, NSW
  9. Albert E (b. c. 1872-3 -d. c. 1918, Wallsend, NSW)
  10. Alfred (b. c. 1874-5 - d. 20 February 1930, Hamilton, NSW)
  11. Arthur John (b. c. 1878-9 - d. 21 March 1942, Newcastle, NSW)

In 1861, Walter (an agricultural labourer), Harriet and their only surviving child after a decade of marriage, William (aged 9), were living next door to Harriet’s parents Henry and Louisa Shadwell in Melksham. Both Walter and William have their place of birth as Fulham, Middlesex.

From findmypast.com's 1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census Image Collection from The National Archives, London, England.

In 1871, Walter, Harriet, and four of their children ([Walter] Henry, Thomas J J, Edith M, and Amy R) have moved to Hammersmith and Walter’s occupation is that of “carman” (effectively a carter of goods) – interestingly, this is what his son Alfred declared as his occupation when he registered his father’s death 43 years later.

From findmypast.com's 1871 England, Wales & Scotland Census Image Collection from The National Archives, London, England.

When I find them in 1881, they are now living in Acton, and their household has expanded somewhat. There is Walter (whose occupation is now “Carman in Brick Works”), Harriet, and six children (Walter H, Thomas, Alfred, Albert, [Arthur] John, and Amy), and Harriet’s parents Henry and Louisa Shadwell. Henry and Louisa are aged 78 and 77, and since Henry is clearly no longer able to work as an agricultural labourer, they have moved in with their daughter.

From findmypast.com's 1881 England, Wales & Scotland Census Image Collection from The National Archives, London, England.

Unlike most of my immigrant ancestors, the whole Bull family did not emigrate at the same time, but most of them ended up here eventually.

Walter and Harriet’s daughters Edith Maud (aged 17) and Amy Rosetta (aged 15) came out to Australia together as assisted immigrants on the SS Belgic, arriving in Sydney on 25 October 1885. They cited their native place as Middlesex and their religion as Plymouth Brethren. There was only one other Plymouth Brethren member on the ship – Ruth Longhurst, of Kent, aged 31. All three of them were domestic servants and could read and write. It is possible Edith and Amy came to join their eldest brother William, although I can find no evidence to suggest that, so they may have been the brave young women who tested out the new land before the rest of the family followed.

From State Records NSW Online 'microfilm' of shipping lists; Passengers on the S S Belgic; Reel 2143, [4/4811]

Three years later Walter and Harriet arrived in Australia in December 1888, aged 56 and 55 years old, with their three youngest sons, Albert E (aged 16), Alfred (14) and Arthur (10), as unassisted immigrants. They arrived on the SS Gulf of Guinea.

Thomas John Joseph Bull (aged 25) arrived in Sydney on 13 September 1890 with his wife Eliza Golding (aged 29) and their two daughters, Edith Eliza (aged 3) and Sophie Elizabeth (aged 1), on the SS Murrumbidgee, as unassisted immigrants. Thomas’ occupation was declared as a brick maker.

From findmypast.com's Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960 Image Collection from The National Archives, London, England.

A decade after his sisters, Walter Henry Bull (aged 31) arrived on the SS Darmstadt, a German ship from Bremen, on 1 June 1895 as an unassisted immigrant. It was the Darmstadt’s first voyage to Australia, via Suez.

SS Darmstadt (photo from excellent website http://www.clydesite.co.uk/clydebuilt/viewship.asp?id=539)

Harriet predeceased Walter on 3 January 1908, and was buried two days later. She died in Islington at the age of 75 from cancer of the stomach and exhaustion, four months after her diagnosis.

Walter died six years later on 17 February 1914 in Northumberland Street, Maryville at the age of 83 from “senile decay” – which means he is likely to have had Alzheimer’s (see the very useful website Antiquus Morbus for more information about old death certificate terms). He was buried the day after his death.

The doctor that attended both Harriet and Walter on their deathbeds was a man by the name of Aubrey Crawley, who worked at Newcastle Hospital and in private practice in the area for a number of years. Harriet and Walter’s son Alfred, living in nearby in Power Street, was the informant on both occasions.

They are both buried Lot 25, Section 39 in the General Section of Sandgate Cemetery. William Young of the Plymouth Brethren officiated at both funerals. Four of their children, as well as numerous decedents, are also buried in Sandgate Cemetery - Walter Henry, Amy Rosetta, Alfred, and Arthur John.

This post is getting a little too long, so I am going to stop writing now! Besides, I am sure there are other decedents of Walter and Harriet in Australia who know much more about their story than I do, and I would love to hear from them. 

Sources for the facts and figures in the this article can be provided upon request.

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