In order to try and redress the balance a bit, today’s blog is dedicated to the other side of our family tree – Mirinda’s side.
Today I found a very handy resource. It’s a website which houses the contents of lots of Australian newspapers dating from 1803. It’s mostly the national papers but also has a few smaller, local publications. I was just fiddling around with it and decided to enter Job Lee, one of Mirinda’s ancestors who lived in Bathurst.
Job Lee was a convict who, convicted of stealing a bag, arrived in Australia in 1831. He managed to settle down in Bathurst and, as far as I know, did well for himself. In 1849, due to the fact that she was an Irish potato famine orphan, Johanna Flynn arrived in Sydney and was locked away in Parramatta hospital because they figured she was a bit mad.
Job popped down to Parramatta a-looking for a bride. For reasons no-one will ever know but which I’d like to think had something to do with love at first sight, he chose Johanna to be his bride. I assume the staff at the hospital were more than pleased and released her to be married.
All went well and Johanna had lots of kids, including Charlotte, who leads the historical and genetic path to Mirinda. When his time came in 1862, Job shuffled off his mortal coil and joined the choir invisible (I’d love to make claim to that phrase but it’s actually a Monty Python quote). Johanna was left, a widow with kids in George Street, Bathurst.
Enough background! I’d like to take you back to the night of 22 October 1863 at about 11:30pm. It was dark and Johanna was settled down for the night when there came a loud bashing at her door. Naturally she was a bit frightened as she asked who it was. A voice came back, gruff and insistent. It was a policeman who wanted to search her house.
Uncertain she sobbed that she was a widow, all alone but for her kids and a young person, and that it was an improper hour to call. In reply, the policeman thudded all the louder, claiming she was an improper lady, keeping an improper house! He had a warrant to search her premises. If she didn’t open the door directly, he would be forced to break it down. Johanna opened her front door and the policeman charged into the house, grabbed a candle and started searching the bedroom for someone he didn’t tell her about. Not finding the person, the man came back and started swearing at Johanna.
The young woman who was with Johanna rushed out into the street calling for help, followed by the intruder (who was drunk). She managed to attract the attention of a policeman on duty who came running. This was Constable Sewell. He confronted the other chap who, when confronted, punched the poor constable in the face and kept running off up the road. Sewell dragged himself to his feet and started shouting for someone to stop the running man. I like to think he blew his whistle as well.
Three chaps stepped from the shadows outside a pub and grabbed the running man, holding him until Constable Sewell caught up to them. Hopefully, Sewell gave the prisoner a bit of his own back, but the news report doesn’t elaborate.
According to the reporter for the Maitland Mercury, the fellow was not convicted and, presumably, was given a slap on the wrists. He demands an inquiry!
Wow. What a night that must have been in George Street!