Recently my grandmother (thanks Nanny P.!) sent me some documents relating to her grandmother, Lucy Grayson. Nanny P. asked if I would write about Lucy and her parents and siblings on my blog, so here goes!
Lucy Grayson (my great-great grandmother) was born in 1874 in Middlesbrough. Her parents were John Myers Grayson and Emma Stephenson. John Myers and Emma were married on February 15, 1862 and subsequently started a family. By 1876, they had four children: George, Susanna, John, and Lucy. 1876 was a momentous year for the Grayson family. What was so momentous about that year, you might wonder? Well, on August 31st, the entire family boarded the S.S. Fitzroy and immigrated to Australia! Here they are listed in a document from the Archives of Perth State Library:
If you look closely at that document, you will notice an addition to the family in 1876. Ernest Fitzroy Grayson was born on November 14th while the S.S. Fitzroy was sailing in the Indian Ocean! When the Graysons left England in August, I wonder if they were resigned to the fact that Ernest would be born on the ship or whether they were hoping to make it to Australia before he arrived? In either case, as it happened, Ernest made an appearance a good three weeks before the ship docked in Fremantle on December 8th. Luckily though, although the voyage lasted 99 days, it appears from the description below that it was quite a good journey:
I don’t know much about the Grayson family’s life in Australia, due to the fact that I don’t have computer access to any Australian archives. I do know, however, that they added another son to their family in 1879; Joseph Henwick was born in Canning, Australia (near Fremantle and Perth in Western Australia) on August 5th, 1879. Here’s a photo of Joseph in 1918. At first glance, you might think he went to prison and that this is his mug shot, but, you’ll be happy to hear that the photo is actually part of his official Merchant Navy Seaman record!
The Grayson family expanded again in 1883 when youngest daughter, Emma, was born. Was Emma born in Canning like her older brother? NO! Emma was born in Middlesbrough, England!!! Sometime between 1880 and 1883, the family must have decided that Australia wasn’t the country for them and they emigrated from Australia back to England. I wish they’d left a diary so I could know what precipitated their decision to head back home . . . but the following article about the immigrants of the S.S. Fitzroy may offer a glimmer of a clue: it seems some of the immigrants on board were disillusioned by their new surroundings within a week of arrival:
I have no way of knowing, of course, whether the Graysons were one of the families to express initial concerns over their new surroundings – but it does seem like a distinct possibility given the fact that they sailed back to England a few years later!
Perhaps there was one Grayson who had slightly more charitable feelings towards Australia: John Myers and Emma’s oldest daughter, Susanna, got married in Australia in 1882 and had a son, George James Burns, with her husband in 1882. She did not sail back to England with her parents, brothers, and sisters, but instead lived the life of a true immigrant and settled in her adopted country. I wonder if she ever saw her parents or siblings again? The journey from Australia to England or England to Australia would have been quite a lengthy one to undertake for the purposes of just a visit. Hopefully I’ll be able to find out more about Great Great Great Aunt Susanna and her family in the years to come when more family history resources appear online; she is, after all, my earliest (as far as I know!) Australian relative. On the other hand, her parents and siblings (including my great-great grandmother, Lucy) are most certainly not Australians – but rather Brits who went on a grand adventure!