Saturday, 5 December 2015

More Darned Australian Distractions

I don't know what it is about the Australian branch of the Cockram/Cockrem family, but somehow they keep distracting me.  I'm supposed to be concentrating on great-granddaddy George getting from Devon to Canada, but I keep finding myself poring through Australian records about his brothers and their descendants.  One big reason for this must be the fact that it's so easy to find intriguing things about people in Australia, via Trove, a website that brings together a whole lot of Australian newspaper archives, seachable in all kinds of ways, and is 100% free.  (If only there was a similar site for Canadian newspapers... sigh).

from the Cairns Post, 17th February 1934, page 6
This time it was the story about Louisa (Lee) Cockrem's death in 1934 that sent me off on a tangent.  The story mentions her son-in-law, F Gayton of 53 Gatton Street, Cairns.  That name didn't ring a bell, and when I checked Louisa's two daughters, Ada and Daisy, I found that neither of them married anyone called Gayton.  And taking a second look at the news item, I noticed that it said that Louisa had three grown up daughters, not two.  Uh oh, another puzzle to solve! 

I searched Trove for other stories that mention F Gayton, hoping to find out who he married, but all I discovered were lots of references to Mr and Mrs Frank Gayton, often in the same stories as various Cockrems, going off on interstate trips, winning prizes, and attending parties and funerals. No mention at all of Mrs Gayton's first name.  So I searched for Frank Gayton on Ancestry, and found his marriage, to someone called Victoria May King, in 1919.  Was this the right Frank Gayton?  I thought so, so I kept looking for more information, and soon found Frank and Victoria May Gayton in the electoral rolls, living at the address mentioned in the death notice.  But who was she before she married Frank and how did she get to be Louisa's daughter?

Eventually I found a birth record for Victoria May King Yeen, born in Queensland in 1901.  Her mother was recorded as 'Beatrice Mary King Yeen', and her father as 'King Yeen'.  But it soon became clear from other records that 19 year old Beatrice was an unmarried mother, and that she was the daughter of Albert King Yeen, a Rockhampton businessman.  So was Victoria the product of incest? Was Beatrice forced to give the baby up and keep her existence a secret?  I haven't been able to discover what went on, but at some point, Victoria seems to have been adopted, legally or otherwise, by Louisa Lee, and either Herman or Frederick Cockrem.

But where's the evidence that Victoria May King Yeen is the same Victoria May King who married Frank Gayton?  I'm coming to that....

Beatrice, Victoria King Yeen's biological mother, shows up again in 1920, getting married in Sydney.  She and her groom, Harold Chippindall were both 38 years old and neither had been married before.  I haven't bothered to search for details of their lives - but I found Beatrice's death certificate.  She died in Sydney in 1963.  Her husband had predeceased her, and her sister, Jessie King, supplied the information for the death registration. She said that Beatrice had 'no issue'.  Was Jessie, who lived with Beatrice when she died and for some years before that, really unaware of the existence of Beatrice's daughter Victoria?  I doubt it. (Reminder: Don't believe everything you read on 'official' documents.)

Once again, I went back to Louisa Cockrem - this time I had a look at a news item about her funeral, which includes a long list of names of people who sent flowers and messages.  Among those names is 'B Chippindall (Sydney)'.  So there's the evidence that Beatrice and Louisa were connected somehow, and it would be highly unlikely that the connection had nothing at all to do with Victoria May King.  Okay, that's not exactly 'proof' of anything, but in this genealogy game, we often have to make assumptions based on the evidence we find, plus common sense, and continue to look for more evidence that proves we're right, or wrong.

The only other information I've found about Victoria was that she was apparently a keen gardener, often winning prizes in local flower shows; and she was known as 'Queenie'.  With a name like Victoria King, I guess that's not surprising.  I discovered that little tidbit via Trove, in Daisy Cockrem Sullivan's death notice, which names Queenie Gayton as one of Daisy's beloved sisters.

from the Sydney Morning Herald Death Notices, 5th July 1961, page 34


I also learned a thing or two about Frank Gayton along the way, but that's for another time - the point today is this:  When you're reading newspaper accounts of marriages, parties, deaths, funerals etc, don't ignore the details!  Those names that seem unconnected may lead you along a whole new branch of the family.

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