Pioneering Families of Australia


Secrets and Mysteries

Piecing together any family history is a time consuming and painstaking task, often heading in a wrong direction for generations, following the wrong name in a line, but when the various strands fall into place, there is a huge sense of achievement and often an emotional response such as "gotcha" or "Finally, I've found you."


But along with the frustrations and achievements has been the sadness of uncovering the secrets that have been kept for so long.  And in uncovering some of these secrets I have had many mixed feelings not the least of which has been a sense of unfairness in the hypocrisy shown to more recent generations.  But one cannot help but be devastated when a birth record is traced to an unmarried mother and then is quickly followed by a death record.  I have been reduced to tears on several occasions.

The Births, Deaths & Marriages registers maintained by the various churches and government agencies during the 19th Century provide the diligent researcher with a wealth of information both from what is contained in the record and to a certain degree in what is not contained therein.


The omissions are often as telling as what is actually recorded.


It is not my intention here to hang out the family's dirty linen, but questions need to be asked and hopefully some of the mysteries will be solved.


Wilhelmina Campion married Arthur Fiennes Burrowes in 1889 and together they had 4 children, 3 of whom survived.  In 1901 Arthur died.  


In 1904 Wilhelmina gave birth to John with the register showing "father unknown".  She gave birth to 2 more sons over the next 4 years.  In 1909 she married Cornelius Kersley.  The marriage register does not detail these three boys.


We have no way of telling how long Cornelius had been on the scene and whether he fathered the three boys.  What we do know however is that in 1917, he reregistered all three boys at the same time showing their births respectively as John in 1904, Roy in 1905 and Henry in 1908.  He also showed himself as the father to all three.


Was this an early form of adoptions (adoption laws did not come into effect until 1928).  Did the boys suddenly require birth certificates - perhaps for school?  Was there a government push to have all children registered, maybe a census was due?  


The question is still unanswered at this time, but I am working on it, however I recently received  this response from the Genealogical Society of Victoria:

Another mystery I have not yet been able to solve is that on the birth register of Oliver Percival Devlin the first child born to Marion and Oliver, one previous child is recorded, Mary.  I have been unable to find any other reference to Mary.   No previous children are listed for either Oliver or Marion on their marriage certificate and no birth certificate has been located for either a Mary Devlin or a Mary Stokes or a Mary with either of these parents listed, during the years 1860 to 1878.  Nor did Mary accompany Oliver on the Great Tasmania, in 1860.





In loving memory of


Victoria Christeen Gennett Jackson


Daughter of the late


Frederick Campion


Naturalist of Melbourne


Who died 25 July 1904, age 23 yrs


Erected by her husband, Arthur T Jackson


Who died 4 December 1908

aged 33 years

"It is not unusual to see a group of late registrations of the birth of children. It is interesting that the exact place of birth and the people present at the birth are all different and remembered.


The parents may have been prompted to register the births as the eldest boy, John was approaching his 14th birthday. The school leaving age was 14 years and many jobs eg Railways Department, required a birth certificate or evidence of age. That WW1 was in progress is another factor, not sure how this would affect them except the parents may have wanted to be able to produce evidence of his age to prevent him enlisting."

Why would a grieving husband give such prominence to his father-in-law on his wife's headstone?  Frederick himself had been dead for 18 years!!


Frederick gave his occupation on several documents as "bird dealer" or "healer".  He had premises in Royal Lane, Burke Street, Melbourne, however I cannot find any other reference to him.


He died intestate and probate of his estate shows he died with total assets of  138 pounds and liabilities of  343 pounds, leaving his wife Isabella in debt to the sum of  205 pounds.


Frederick was one of my great, great grandfathers.



Who was Frederck George Campion?


While conducting research through various cemetery records (and later in Melbourne General Cemetary)  I found the following  inscription: