Thursday, July 17, 2014

Where did the Worgan journal come from?

I recently wrote a review of 'Journal of a First Fleet Surgeon', by George B. Worgan (1757-1838), surgeon on the 'Sirius'. The journal is in fact a long letter to his brother Richard, describing the journey and establishment of the settlement, in which George copied entries from his diary for the first six months and appended these to the letter. Worgan states in his letter that he is including these journal entries to sate the curiosity of family and acquaintances till Watkin Tench's work came into print in London.

The letter
That notion has really caught my interest, as has the origin of the letter held by the State Library of New South Wales. The original manuscript along with a full transcript can be viewed digitally at the State Library of New South Wales site.

The foreword to the published transcript 1978 states how the manuscript was acquired. It states that the letter was was donated to the Mitchell Library in 1955 by Mrs. Margot Gaye of Guildford, Surrey who found it amongst the possessions of her Aunt, Miss A. Batley, after her death. Nothing is known of the earlier history of this manuscript.

Curiously, the library catalog notes for the letter state "Presented by Mrs Margot Gaye for her deceased aunt, Miss A. Batley, 1955. The relationship between Miss Batley and the journal has not been discovered." It is surprising to me that the library did not speak to Mrs Gaye in 1955, or ascertain her relationship to her aunt.

Reading closely, it is also clear that Mrs. Gaye was of Guildford, Surrey, but the residence of Miss A. Batley is not stated.

In an attempt to clarify this, I wrote to the State library of New South Wales asking whether the library holds any information on Mrs Gaye's connection to A Batley from the initial gift, or whether any correspondence shows how the family came to decide to send it to the NSW State Library, and what the correspondence revealed about Mrs Batley.

I have received a response and it is a little confusing:

Response from State Library of NSW
There is no additional information regarding this relationship available. Miss Batley was not married and was considered to be Mrs Gaye's maiden aunt. Miss Batley did not have a husband and was therefore not a widow.
George Worgan had two sons and a daughter and each of them is recorded as having "no spouse".
Apparently the two sons migrated to Australia to live but there is no information available.

It would be extremely useful to know if Miss A. Batley was descended from the recipient of the letter Richard Worgan, George's brother. Worgan had 2 sons, both of whom emigrated to Australia, and one has to think that such a manuscript would have quickly surfaced there. As such, his daughter who remained in his village of Liskeard would presumably have retained the journals. If they weren't lost in a house-they may well be sitting unappreciated on a bookshelf somewhere in Cornwall or elsewhere in England right now! Who knows what insight they would throw onto early Sydney.

So a few simple things I'll say at this point:
- There are obviously many A. Batley deaths in England during and immediately prior to 1955, but i cannot find a likely Australian death.
- I can no reference to a Margot Gaye in any genealogy site that looks like it may have a bearing, except for an article in a Canadian newspaper (Quesnel Cariboo Observer) about a Margo Gaye living in Belcombe Court, Bradfor-upon-Avon, Wiltshire, England who died around 1973. Is this her? Her granddaughter Amanda Gillcash was based around Quesnel, Canada at the time. It is hard to know if this could be a lead.

I will summarize the Gaye and Batley leads in my next entry, and hope I can find a connection. Or at least a country to work with!

The journal
One implication of the letter is that a complete journal, covering a great time period, was created by George Worgan and may still exist somewhere. Worgan was born in London, the son of a prominent musician/organist, joined the Navy at 18 and trained to be surgeon, and joined the Sirius in 1786, sailing for Sydney with the First Fleet in 1787. After returning to Britain, he served in the Navy till about 1800, married and lived in Liskeard, Cornwall, and died in 1838. In theory, the journal returned to England, more specifcally Cornwall, with Worgan. That the journal existed is mentioned in the 1978 transcript foreword, with the statement that Worgan's son confirmed holding a 2-volume journal in the 1830s - but no reference was provided! I need to find this reference.

I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, but I am going to dig forward and backward in the Worgan family trees to try and understand where the journal may have moved in the immediate years after Worgan's death.

I am amazed at how little we actually know about where this journal came from.

Breakthrough reading through BATLEY probate indexes - note the connection to GAYE:

England Probate Indexes
BATLEY Agnes Emma of 52 Latymer-court Hammersmith London W6 spinster died 10 February 1953 Probate London 11 June to Louise Margaret Clayton Gaye widow. Effects 2947 pounds.

Her death: Name:     Agnes E Batley
Birth Date:     abt 1862
Date of Registration:     Mar 1953
Age at Death:     91
Registration district:     Hammersmith
Inferred County:     London
Volume:     5c
Page:     1139

Buried Seaborough, Dorset 14 Mar 1953, 91 years

'Margot' was widowed by 1953, but her marriage was in 1914: Russell      Louise M C      Gaye      Bedford      3b     742
Gaye      Arthur D      Russell      Bedford      3b     742  

No comments:

Post a Comment