According to her birth certificate, Nellie SOMERS was born on 20 May 1889 to Thomas Somers and Alice Somers nee O’Keefe. Alice was living at Georges Bay area in the north east of Tasmania. No marriage has been found for Thomas and Alice though.

Nellie had many siblings but it is not proven yet if they are full siblings or half siblings as the father is not mentioned on many of the birth certificates.

  • Kate Clarke born 4 Feb 1893 parents as West Clarke and Alice O’Keefe Clarke then baptised as Kate Clarke on 28 March 1893 with parents John Clarke and Alice Clarke
  • William Henry Somers born 6 Dec 1894 mother Alice Somers at Lottah, but baptised as William Henry Clark on 28 Jan 1895 parents as Wes Clark and Alice Somers
  • Jessie May Somers born 15 May 1897 mother Alice Somers but baptised as Jessie May Clark on 14 Dec 1898 parents as John West Clark and Alice O’Keefe
  • Joseph Edward Somers born 30 Oct 1898 mother Alice Somers but baptised as Joseph Edward Clark on 14 Dec 1898 parents as John West Clark and Alice O’Keefe
  • Herbert Francis Somers born 4 Feb 1901 with mother as Alice Somers O’Keefe and her having been married in 1885 in Melbourne but no father for Herbert.

West Clarke was a contractor in Gould Country in north east Tasmania. The following was reported in The Mercury in May 1897.

At some stage in the next twenty years, Nellie moved to Queenstown. It was here that she met Alexander Dawson and had a daughter with him. It is unknown if he knew he was a father at that time. This has been proven through DNA.

This daughter, Irene Ellen Gertrude born in July 1909 on Bruny Island, was brought up by Nellie and her husband Robert Edward SMITH. No marriage has been found for Nellie and Robert but in the Hobart birth records for Robert Edward Ivan Smith in 1910, a marriage for his parents is mentioned as 16 April 1908 at Gormanston on the west coast of Tasmania.

Married life and children

  • Irene Ellen Gertrude 1909-1988
  • Robert Edward Ivan 1910-1910
  • William Henry Basil 1911-1988
  • Madelene Constance Victoria 1912-1999
  • Myra Isobella (Pat) 1913-2003
  • Olga Phyllis 1915-1969
  • Jack 1918-2000
  • Sarah Ellen (Sally) 1919-1968
  • Thomas Allan 1921-2003
  • David 1923-2010
  • Mervyn Leslie 1925-2002
  • Ruby Margaret 1927-2010
  • James Henry (Tony) 1929 –
  • Maxwell Brian 1931-1993
Nellie with two of her children Ruby and Max.

We can follow the family’s moves by looking at the electoral rolls.

  • 1914 – living at Ramsgate in the Esperance municipality and Robert was a  sawmiller.
  • 1919 – living at Garden Island Creek near Port Cygnet and Robert working as a mill hand.
  • 1922 – living in Scottsdale with Robert working as a sawmiller.
  • 1928 – living at 4 Antill Street, Hobart. Robert was a wharf labourer and Nellie home duties.
  • 1937 – living at Oyster Cove and Robert earning a wage as a labourer.
  • 1949 – living at 307A Liverpool Street. Living at home with Nellie and Robert were David (a trainee), Jack (plasterer) and Mervyn Leslie (labourer).

Nellie died on 4 June 1952 and it was reported in the papers.

A bereavement notice was put in the local paper in July by her husband and family who were still living at the same address.

An inquest was held into the death of Nellie. She left home about 2pm with the intention to visit her daughter Irene Ellen Wyatt at the Albion Hotel where she worked. But Nellie did not visit her. She was found the next day, floating near the Domain Slipyards. The coroner found her death to be asphyxia by drowning but no idea how she came to be in the water.

Irene Nellie and her husband Robert Edward Smith (died 1964) are buried together at Cornelian Bay in the Church of England section B53

Memories of Irene Nellie from my father, her grandson. 

When his mother, Irene Ellen Gertrude Smith was walking him home to Goulburn Street, they would sometimes drop in to the house at Liverpool Street to visit his grandparents.

How Irish am I?

Leamsii / Pixabay

After taking part in the twitterchat this week about researching our Irish ancestors, I decided to check out how Irish I truly am via my DNA tests.


  • Sue is 96% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 13.5% and 6.3% Ireland
  • Mum is 100% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 14.9% and 2.3% Ireland
  • Dad is 100% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 3.2% and 24.8% Ireland
  • My brother is 100% British and Irish. Out of that, Northern Ireland and South West Scotland 15.1% and 17.2% Ireland


  • Sue is 32% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 10% Ireland.
  • Mum is 19% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 7% Ireland.
  • Dad is 39% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 19% Ireland.
  • My brother is 31% Scotland and Northern Ireland and 11% Ireland.

We have all tested with Ancestry but I am the only one tested with LivingDNA. I uploaded from Ancestry to LivingDNA for mum, dad and my brother.

From these results, looks like my brother is a bit more Irish than me (LivingDNA). I’m also wondering where my 4% from Basque came from. Maybe if I uploaded my Ancestry result at LivingDNA, it would then tell me 100% British and Irish.

From all my research so far I only have the following names and places: Convicts highlighted

Maternal side:

  • 1830’s – Jackson family in Donegal around Garshooey and Carrigans area possibly St Johnstown area as well – Rebecca, father William  senior, brother William Junior, Nellie Jackson,  Jane/Sarah Steele, Ann Jackson who then emigrated to Quebec with two children – she died on Ile Grosse, Rebecca’s mother possibly Catherine Campbell

Paternal side:

  • 1830’s – McCrewney? family in Newry parish, Down, Northern Ireland – Mary with father Francis, brother Thomas also sent to Van Diemens Land
  • 1810’s – Dawson family near Berwick upon Tweed or Eyemouth – William, a brother at Eyemouth
  • 1830’s – McKay family in Cowgate area in Edinburgh – Catherine, father John, siblings Elizabeth, George and Mary
  • 1810’s – Somers family near Wexford – Patrick, wife Johanna nee Cullen (blind), sons John and Thomas – these three then came to Van Diemens Land between 1841 and 1851 as free settlers, Father John in America, brother John and sister Mary Catherine in Wexford.

Now I know a lot more resources to check out for my Irish ancestors, I might spend more time on those especially on dad’s side of the tree. The convict records give some good information including religion, age, trade, literacy level and parents and siblings often. But where does mum get her 20% total from Scotland/Ireland?

Readers: How Irish are you?

Irene Ellen Gertrude SMITH

Irene was born 23 July 1909 on Bruny Island as the eldest child of Edward Robert Smith and Irene Ellen Somers or Clark. Through DNA testing, it has been proved that her father was actually a son of Alexander and Hannah Dawson nee Sutton who lived in Queenstown, Tasmania.

Tasmania, Civil Registration of births 1899-1912, Port Cygnet

Irene had 14 younger siblings born between 1910 and 1931. The family mainly lived in Hobart, Tasmania but from 1918-1921 spent some time in Scottsdale, Tasmania where her father was a sawyer.

In December 1918, Irene and her younger sister Madeline won prizes at the Scottsdale State School annual concert.


In early 1932, Irene became pregnant and married William Alan Wyatt on 11 April, later giving birth to her only child Robert Wyatt in November 1932. By late 1934, William (whose first  Tasmanian wife had died in September 1931) had deserted Irene and baby Robert, and headed to unknown destination (later found in NSW married for a fourth time).

Irene worked as a cleaner and general housemaid at Heathorns Hotel then later the Albion Hotel. This involved living on the premises, so Robert was looked after by a foster mother for most of the time, Mrs Avery in Goulburn Street, Hobart. Irene did not have much furniture in her little room but there was a small carved black table that is now owned by Robert (Bob). She also had an Hawaiian steel guitar under her bed and many songbooks that she collected throughout the war years.

It was while working at Heathorns that Irene met Ernie Bond who lived in a home in the Rasselas Valley near Adamsfield. Irene wrote a diary about her trip on horseback along the track to Adamsfield. This diary is held by her son Bob.

Irene sought a dissolution of her marriage in 1945 due to desertion. A decree nisi was granted on 21 March 1945. A decree absolute was granted in October 1945.

In 1954, Irene married a second time to a Polish immigrant Mikolaj Hrydziuszko, who had arrived in Australia in 1948 after World War II.

Irene and Mike travelled to Japan on a cruise returning with lots of little mementoes. They are buried together at the cemetery in Pontville, Tasmania where many Polish graves can be found.

Memories of Irene

These are from her son Bob (B) and grand daughter Suzanne

  • Always well dressed and usually wore her hair up high in a bouffant style
  • Loved going for walks around Hobart
  • Kept her house immaculately clean and smelling fresh
  • Went downhill quickly once her blindness stopped her walking everywhere
  • Took lots of photos of her with her sister Madeline and her children – have her photo album with these
  • Was concerned about her brother Jack or Bomber as we knew him – he sent occasional letters or postcards often censored by the army (B)
  • She was a smoker and always smoked Turf cigarettes (B)
  • Would often call into her parent’s house in Liverpool Street while taking Bob home to his foster mother (B)
  • Hated picnics, sand, ants, cold! (B)
  • Had a steel guitar, but I never heard her play it. Did crosswords, I still have her well-thumbed dictionary. (B)
  • I never saw her really upset. I wagged school and was expelled from Lansdowne Crescent School, sent to St. Virgils, must have cost her a lot. (B)
  • Mike (her second husband) found she left the stove on, would get up at all hours and wander about. I insisted that she be cared for in a nursing home, it was too much for Mike. Went into a nursing home in Star St. and was well cared for there. Was almost blind, and hated the dog at the home that would come close to her picking up crumbs. Mike used to take her out most days and give her sandwiches. He persevered with her taking her to the domain or the Waterworks. (B)
  • I used to visit her in the home during my lunch hour when I worked in town. She would be just sitting in a chair. Often told me that no-one ever came to see her even though I knew Mike had taken her out that morning. I confess that I was often in tears walking back to work. She died peacefully in the home. (B)
Ernie Bond’s residence at Rasselas Valley
Bob, Irene and Jack before heading off to war
Nan's birthday
Irene’s birthday with her sister Pat and her husband Eric Gates from Adelaide.
Nan and Mike ready for trip overseas
Mike and Irene ready for their trip overseas