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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

An Australian coincidence

While researching the family of my Metropolitan Police ancestor, Ernest Ellisdon (read more about him in my post The Whitechapel Murders - a family connection) I discovered that his son, Charles Baldwin Ellisdon had travelled to Australia in 1900 and worked as a clerk.

Sadly, it seems, poor Charles died two years later, aged only 24, in the historic inland port of Echuca, in Victoria (pictured above), hundreds of miles up the Murray river. The cause of death was "seros [sic] effusion on the brain" and "pulmonary consumption".

Australian death certificates are generally very detailed and much can be learned from the information recorded but it seems little was known about Charles. In the column labelled, "Name and surname of father and mother (maiden name)... with Rank or Profession" are written the words "Not known".

Where it asks if the deceased was married and requires the names of his wife and children, the information is patchy. The length of time he'd been married is "not known", but his wife is recorded as Minnie Tepeldale and it seems they had a daughter of 2 years old, also called Minnie.

From my initial research, I've found a marriage of a Charles Baldwin Ellisdon to a Miriam Rippengale in Shoreditch, London, in 1898. That sounds close enough to "Tepeldale" to be a match and it's not so hard to image Miriam might have been known as Minnie. As to his daughter, there's a birth record of a Winifred Hilda Ellisdon for February 1900, less than 8 months before Charles left for Australia. Could "Winnie" have been misheard or mis-transcribed as "Minnie"?

So why had Charles travelled to Australia? Was he intending that his family follow later? Did he plan to return after "making his fortune"? Or had he abandoned his wife and daughter for a new life on the other side of the world? Or perhaps I have the wrong family completely - though it seems unlikely there was more than one Charles Baldwin Ellisdon fitting the dates and time-scale. But such coincidences do happen in family history research, so I shall keep digging.

But on the subject of coincidences, there's one that I do know about. While travelling in Australia in 2008, we actually visited the town of Echuca. As we stepped off the historic dock and on to the wonderful restored paddle steamer, the Emmylou, for a trip down the river, I had no idea that an ancestor of mine was buried in the cemetery, only a few hundred yards away!

Echuca Cemetery only a short distance from the historic port.

Me on the Emmylou, waiting to set off for our river trip!



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