Alexander DAWSON Junior

Alexander Junior was the third of eleven children born to Alexander Senior and Hannah Dawson nee Sutton. He was born on 11 February 1884 at Gladstone in the Ringarooma district in Tasmania.

Alexander’s siblings were:

  • William John Alexander  1882 – 1884 – died by drowning in Gladstone
  • Albert William 1883 – 1981
  • Catherine Mary 1886 – 1973
  • Henry George 1891 – 1916 – died in WWI
  • John McKay 1892 – 1915 – died in WWI
  • Olive Maud 1894 – 1972
  • Myrtle Amy 1894 – 1975
  • George Byron Matthew 1896 – 1982
  • William Percy 1898 – 1945
  • Frederick Roy (James) 1900 – 1982
  • Half sibling Eileen Blanche CAREY 1905 –

On 27 March 1884, his Lordship Bishop Sandford visited Gladstone. One of his duties there was to administer rites of baptism to Alexander Dawson’s infant child. This was probably Alexander Junior.

The Dawson’s were a mining family first at Gladstone and then they moved to Queenstown.

At age 17, Alexander’s father passed away .

Alexander senior passed away from inflammation of the lungs due to working multiple extended shifts in succession. This was not normally permitted due to the poor quality air in underground mining known to cause lung complaints. But in this case it was overlooked because they’d lost all their belongings in a housefire associated with the nearby bushfires. Alexander was trying to rebuild his home and contents for the family. They lived in a poorer area of Queenstown known as The Pigsty, adjacent to the current football ground. [1]

His wife was left to bring up 10 children of which only one was an age to get a job at the mines. Hannah married again fairly quickly as she had five children under the age of seven when her first husband passed.

At some stage in late 1908, Alexander spent at least one evening with Irene Nellie Somers/Clark and in July 1909 his daughter, Irene was born on Bruny Island. This has been proved through DNA matches. Alexander had no knowledge of this daughter as far as I know.

Married life and children

His marriage to Sarah Jane HAWKINS occurred on 17 July 1912 in Queenstown, Tasmania.

Their first child Alexander Charles was born in September 1912 but unfortunately died three weeks later on 7 October at Preston Street, Queenstown.

Just five days later Alexander was involved in the famous North Lyell Disaster. A Royal Commission into the disaster was held in December 1912 and Alexander was called as a witness.

Alexander Dawson deposition about 1912 Mt Lyell mining disaster

Two of Alexander’s brothers were also involved in the disaster – Albert and Henry.

Alexander and Jane’s second child Ronald was born in 1913 and their first daughter Eileen in 1916 at Austin Street, Queenstown.

Alexander was still mining at Mount Lyell North in 1917 when he was brought up on charges of personal negligence in endangering the safety of two miners working in the mine.

In October 1923, their second daughter Olive was born in Queenstown.

His wife, Jane (also known as Jenny), died on 7 November 1924, from an allergy to a bee sting. [2]

Two weeks later Alexander was charged with indecent behaviour in Little Orr Street, Queenstown.

After Sarah died, Alexander continued to work to feed & clothe the family. The eldest son Ron (Adrian’s grandfather), from age 11, looked after his two sisters in his father’s absence. Alexander was known to ‘touch the bottle along’ after Jenny’s death. After Alexander’s death, Ron continued to care for his sisters until they found their own lives as adults. [3]

Ron with his sisters Eileen and Olive

Alexander died in 1933 from fatal injuries after falling at a sideshow and not regaining consciousness when taken to hospital. A fantastic obituary was written in the local paper. An inquest was held and the coroner gave the verdict of accidental death.

Both Jane and Alexander are buried in the Queenstown cemetery

Sources:

  1. Adrian Dawson, email received 7 December 2021
  2. Adrian Dawson, email received 7 December 2021
  3. Adrian Dawson, email received 7 December 2021

The Scots in me

misterfarmer / Pixabay

The last week has been interesting for me. Firstly our twitterchat was about Scottish ancestors. I mentioned two that I have found on dad’s side of the tree.

  • Catherine McKay tried in Edinburgh in 1848 and came to Van Diemens Land as a convict
  • Her future husband William Dawson tried in Edinburgh in 1847 and sent to VDL as well.

I have not researched these two people yet, as I am trying to write biographies of each grandparent and then great grandparents etc. I know more about mum’s side of the tree so normally look for the information for their stories first.

But after our twitterchat on Scottish ancestors, I learned about so many resources, I think I might have to quickly get onto that work. Then I got an email from One Place Studies about a presentation by Chris Paton who is well known for his Scottish research. So I watched this and found out so much more about resources to use prior to 1800.

One of the participants in the chat was Scottish Indexes which has been holding regular conferences since April 2020 and all free. The website also has a fantastic learning zone to help you research your ancestors in Scotland.

They mentioned there was a lot of information on Scottish convicts so, of course, I went to the indexes and put in the names of my two convicts.

WOW, information on both of them.

Both had been convicted with other people but not all had been transported. Apparently you can buy the records for the High Court – Crown Office  precognitions and High Court of Justiciary Trial Papers. These will detail the trial and evidence from both sides.

I think I might make October my Scotland month and get onto those Scottish ancestors. According to my Ancestry DNA test I am 34% Scottish this being inherited from mum with 27% and dad with 27% mainly from the highlands and islands and in particular South Sutherland.  My brother also inherited 35% from our parents.

Now I wonder who these Scottish ancestors are from mum’s side of the tree? I do have one convict from County Donegal near Londonderry so maybe her parents came over from Scotland at some time before the 1830s when she was born.

Oh well, I need to start researching more!!

Readers: Do you have Scottish ancestors? What resources did you find useful for researching them?