Day 3 Commonwealth Games 2018

I’m really enjoying the Commonwealth Games. I could rant about the Revenant of Oz’s outburst about the Opening Ceremony being “disgusting” and “too Indigenous” — but why would I bother? I did think it was too long, and the music didn’t exactly turn me on — but that Indigenous Smoking Ceremony was just brilliant! A side note though: The Revenant apparently thinks she is Indigenous herself — rather like the Cane Toad, the fox or the rabbit. I get so bored by (never OF!!!) that silly and not uncommon claim, sometimes made by people not nearly as objectionable as The Revenant. But let’s leave her in her box, eh! And Alan Jones in his! (Related: Family history and mystery–the Indigenous connection.)

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That Smoking Ceremony: magnificent!

My mind went back to 1970 and the thrill we Whitfields felt as we followed events in Edinburgh.

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Beverley Joy Whitfield (15 June 1954 – 20 August 1996)

Three gold medals in swimming at Edinburgh! 100m and 200m breaststroke and 4X100m medley relay. Much excitement in Dapto and Shellharbour at the time!  (My family and I were in July 1970 living in Dapto,)

One thing I love about the current Commonwealth Games is the way the “para” events have been integrated into the main competition. A brilliant idea which is working very well indeed.

Related (from 2014): Channel 10, the Commonwealth Games, and Ian Thorpe.

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My brother — one year on

Hard to believe! I really miss sharing memories with Ian. Because he was eight years older, he was a great source of information/confirmation about my early days in Auburn and Vermont Streets, Sutherland.

His son Warren posted this on Facebook earlier this week.

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See also Ian and Ian Jeffrey Whitfield 3/10/1935 – 5/4/2017.

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Too many Whitfields!

I have a lot of family history in my blogs, much now consolidated in Neil’s Family Specials and Memory Hole. Lately some potentially confusing comments have appeared in what is in fact my original (though revised) post on Whitfield family history. What a maze that comment thread has become over that past 10+ years! On the other hand much there is of value and interest to family members — or families members! There are, it appears, at least four Whitfield families floating around in Australia history.

One lot came from Hull. I noted them almost ten years ago.

There is a new series ongoing on Ninglun’s Specials: Looking for Jacob. Yes, I know I said I was dropping the series idea, but not the series tags, but a recent email from one of the Whitfield family historians set me off on a small expedition to record the area we now know held the convict Jacob Whitfield’s residence in the 1830s. I was just now reflecting on this: as a child I met, and remember, at least four of the children of William Joseph John Whitfield (born 1836), the grandson of the convict, none of whom ever mentioned their great-grandfather. In fact there was a story my father had that the original family member in the colony had been a shipwright from Hull in northern England – Dad even had a shipwright’s chisel in his tool kit that allegedly came from him. Curiously, there was a Jacob Whitfield in Hull around the time of the Battle of Waterloo, listed in Indentures of apprenticeship cancelled or discharged before the magistrates 1813 – 1821: “Jacob Whitfield, son of Jacob Whitfield of Hull, blacksmith to Thomas Stephenson of Hull, master mariner, 21 June”. Not our Jacob, it seems, though the general trades area is right: but how did my father make a Hull connection in his story? (See also Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days. Our Jacob came from Ireland.)

I noted that a family in Sutherland Shire traced back to the Hull Whitfields…

It turns out there is another Whitfield family altogether extant – and with Shire links.

Perilous Seas: The Whitfield Family – Ancestors & Descendants England & Australia 1605-2012

The Whitfield family farmed in the Tyne Valley of Northumberland before moving to iron works on the Derwent River in Cumberland where two daughters drowned in separate accidents. Descendants experienced contrasting fates. One, James Whitfield made a fortune on the Australian goldfields before becoming a successful entrepreneur in Workington. His siblings lived and worked in industrial towns and the youngest, William Whitfield became a master mariner in Australia, experiencing a number of misfortunes before returning to Hull, Yorkshire, leaving his Australian family behind.

Now that is interesting, because my father used to say his Aunty Jessie and one other family member had traced the family to Hull, and there was allegedly a lost fortune there… That must be this family, but there is no doubt there is no close connection.

Speaking of confusing, have a look at this! Jacob Whitfield (1759 – abt. 1851). Family historian Bob Starling was on the case:

In a 2011 comment on “About the Whitfields: Convict Days” Bob Starling wrote:

For some years I have been searching for Jacob Whitfield’s death. It was noticed that Jacob gave his religion as a Quaker on one of his applications to marry. With this fact the Quaker society in Sydney has carried out some research and came up with the following piece of information:

“In searching the incomplete records we have of burials in the Friends Burial Ground within the old Devonshire Street (Sandhills) Cemetery, I came across a reference to:
“Burial Notes missing of … Jacob Whitfield” Unfortunately, there is no indication of his date of death or burial. Burials took place in the Friends Burial Ground from about 1837 through to about 1880.”

Whilst we can now accept that Jacob died in Sydney, probably between 1851 and 1856 we cannot quite put him to rest until we find an exact date.

He was certainly around for a long time.

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From Bob Starling

Now going way back it would be interesting to see how all the Whitfield families link to Wikipedia’s Whitfield family.

The Whitfield family was a landowning Norman family in present-day United Kingdom; the family was seated at Whitfield Hall Northumberland in Northumberland. The area was granted by William, King of Scotland in the twelfth century. The family derives its name from the old English hwitfeld, meaning open white lands….

Quite likely the Irish connection began as part of the Plantation of Ulster.

Christmas snippets

This one just because I like it! Three of my grandnephews/nieces: Nathan, David and Lauren Parkes:

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I spoke to their uncle, my nephew Warren, who lives in North Queensland on Christmas Day. This is Warren:

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You might like to read A Guringai Family Story.

Since I came back to Wollongong it has become something of a custom to spend Christmas lunch, or in the case of this year Boxing Day lunch, with my cousin Helen Langridge and her husband Jim. See So, Christmas Day! (2016). This is Helen and Jim ten years ago on Jim’s retirement.

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Quite a distinguished fellow is Jim. As usual there was much great conversation, including among other things the fact that next month will be their 50th Wedding Anniversary! Here is a picture of my mum and dad at that wedding in January 1968:

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Jim brought out the wedding album which includes a photo of me looking SO THIN! And of course young.

Helen has a copy of her brother Ray Christison’s recently published book Shapeshifter. The strange life of John Hampton Christison, Professor of DancingThat is about our rather spectacular great-grandfather.  Ray’s book is beautifully done!

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See among my posts Neil’s personal decades: 14 – 1885 — Christisons.

You can read more about this rather amazing but tricky character in my post My great-grandfather: “morally dubious to say the least.”  My cousin Ray Christison is mentioned quite a bit on that post; he has written a book about John H: Shapeshifter – the strange life of John Hampton Christison, Professor of Dancing. Here is an interesting snippet by Ray from the comment thread on my post:

Neil, I have been trawling through my old notes and have begun writing a full biography of John Hampton Christison (currently about 5,000 words and growing). I will publish it as a small book. You asked about John dancing before Queen Victoria. John listed his major dancing awards in the 1882 Manual of Dancing & Etiquette. He stated this: “at Edzell Castle, 1873 I took first prize, a Highland dirk, at Balmoral Castle in 1875, second against thirty, most of them professional men”. Queen Victoria may or may not have been present when John danced at Balmoral Castle. Given John’s penchant for self-promotion I find it bizarre that he would not have specifically mentioned this in a work as important as his Manual of Dancing & Etiquette. I have a very vague memory of Kathleen Christison telling me that he danced there before one of the other royals, however I can’t find any notes to corroborate this.

One hundred years ago in Belgium: Dad’s cousin

It is rather appropriate that I am posting this on 29th September 2017 at City Diggers in Wollongong. Norman Harold Whitfield was my father’s cousin.

On 1st February 1917 Norman was awarded the Military Cross. The citation reads: ‘For conspicuous gallantry in action. He displayed great courage and skill in siting a communication trench under heavy fire. Later, he carried out a dangerous daylight reconnaissance. He has at all times set a fine example.’
Source: ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 116; Date: 25 July 1917.

On 29th September 1917 he was wounded in action but remained on duty.

On 17th June 1919 he was awarded a bar to his Military Cross for action on 29th September 1918.

The citation reads: ‘Near Bellicourt, on 29th September, 1918, he led his company through a heavy covering barrage to their allotted work, and was responsible for the initial success of the day’s operations. Later, when the enemy held part of Bellicourt, he took forward a portion of his platoon, under heavy machine gun fire, and drove the enemy out, thereby enabling the road to be got through. Later again, in the absence of infantry, he organized a party and silenced a machine gun, and also dispersed the crew of an anti-tank gun. His marked courage and devotion to duty were an inspiration to his men.’

See also my posts One hundred years ago or thereabouts…, 22 – Whitfields 1915 and 25 – more on WW1 soldier Norman Whitfield.

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Norman Harold Whitfield

And adding to the appropriateness of where I am posting this: see Trove. It describes Norman Whitfield’s welcome home by the members of the Wollongong Returned Soldiers’ Association.

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