There’s a tongue-in-cheek saying in Australia, that if you can trace your ancestry back to your early family members who were transported from Great Britain in the 1800s to the convict settlements in and around Sydney, then you can claim to be “Australian Royalty”.
I live in California, but Christine one of my daughters and my two grandchildren Eromon and Ruby-Ose live in Sydney, Australia. I believe they can make claim to that dubious honor.
Our family line on my mother’s side goes back to the Anderson family of St. Andrews, Scotland. A family well known to anyone familiar with the history of golf.
Tracing the line back from Christine, her great-great grandfather was David Anderson, founder and owner of the golf club making company of D. Anderson and Sons. His older brother was Jamie Anderson, the three times winner of the British “Open Championship” in 1877-78-79.
Jamie’s and David’s father and Christine’s great-great-great grandfather was David “Auld Daw” Anderson. He was a maker of feathery golf balls, a clubmaker and caddie. As the keeper of the greens at the “Old Course” he is credited with establishing the “Double Greens”. In his retirement years he set up a refreshment stand by the 4th hole on the “Old Course” and sold lemonade, ginger ale and glasses of milk. However my grandmother told me, hidden in the refreshment stand he had whiskey, gin and brandy for those golfers needing courage as they played bad golf, or to keep them warm as they battled the cold North Sea winds. He is considered to be a St. Andrews legendary figure and the 4th hole is named the “Ginger Beer” in his honor.
Going back another generation to the father of David (Auld Daw) and his older brother James, records show he was James Anderson, (born -1789-1857). His occupations were listed as a “Slater and Vinter”. As the following story will tell he was quite a character and undoubtedly the black sheep of the Anderson family. He married Elizabeth Alexander in November 1820. They had four children, James, David (Auld Daw”), Emelia and Nancy (Ann). However, James had been born in 1817 and David in 1819. James and Elizabeth seemed to have escaped the usual censure from the church with a payment of money, as the only records found at St. Andrews under “Marriage Contracts” reads:
“…. and betwixt James Anderson and Elizabeth Alexander and gave twenty pence to the Poor”.
Both James and David’s births were then recorded at the end of November 1820.
By 1819 James had developed a reputation for avoiding his creditors, and there were three cases recorded in which we was taken before the Bailies of St. Andrews for non-payment of bills. These claims were eventually settled but not before James was threatened with incarceration in the St. Andrews Tollbooth, (jail). Also one creditor describes him as “James Anderson, a character now sufficiently noted in Your Honour’s Court”.
Although a slater by trade, James also operated a public house in St. Andrews and by 1822 became indebted to 56 creditors for the amount of £831-8-0 (eight hundred and thirty one pounds, eight shillings and no pence). A huge amount of money for that time. James was incarcerated in the St. Andrews Tollbooth on November 6th 1822. He gained his release by making a proposal to his creditors to pay them four shillings on the pound. (There are 20 shillings in a £-pound).
Also one of the creditors was his landlord and served James an eviction notice that read, “Remove himself, family and servants, goods and gear and gea furth from that house lying on the north side of Market Street on the term of Whitsun Day.”
Later it was alleged that James had been untruthful under oath at the meetings with creditors and was charged with fraudulent bankruptcy and perjury. He had failed to disclose that the owned large quantities of lead, whisky, ale and other spirits. All these were hidden in various places. At one location 38 gallons of whiskey were found, at another 150 gallons of whiskey and four hundredweight of lead. Subsequently he was arrested and sent to trial at the Perth Circuit Court where he was found guilty. From there he was sent to jail at the Edinburgh Tollbooth, to await sentencing. There, because of sentencing delays he petitioned for release and in November 1823 was liberated and declared “forever free from all question”.
James seems to have remained in St. Andrews and out of the public records until June 1830, when in the company of his oldest son James age 12, he was arrested in the town of Coupar, in Augus for “uttering base coin”. This followed a number of complaints from “change houses” where ale was sold. They complained about a tall stranger in a black coat and checked trousers, accompanied by a small boy who had paid for ale with sixpenny coins and been given change of fourpence on each occasion. After the pair had left, the hosts found they had been paid in counterfeit coins. One witness was a woman who testified she suspected a coin and cut a piece from it to see if it was genuine. Because of their suspicions, she and other victims called on James Bruce, the Messenger at Arms.
James Bruce arrested the pair and when they were searched, a mix of genuine coins and counterfeit sixpences and shillings were found in their possession. They were put in hand-cuffs, kept in custody and taken by cart to the city of Perth, where they were incarcerated in the Tollbooth. At trial on November 17th 1830 James snr. entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to be transported to Australia for seven years.
James sailed from London on the ship Camden on March 21st 1831 and arrived at Sydney Cove in New South Wales four months later on July 25th. Australian convict records tell something about James’ life in Australia. On leaving the ship, he was assigned to the hospital and worked for some time as a butcher. He was granted a “Ticket of Leave” in March 1836 and a “Certificate of Freedom” in January 1844, although he was entitled to apply for this earlier. Prior to this in May 1839 this scoundrel made a bigamous marriage to Betty Agnew, also a seven year transportee. The initial application for permission to marry was denied because he was recorded as already married. Later it was granted after James Beatton, a former resident of St. Andrews, gave an affidavit stating that James’ wife Elizabeth Alexander had died before Mr. Beatton migrated to Australia. In Fact Elizabeth was still alive and living in St. Andrews.
James died at Cumberland Street, Sydney on June 29th 1857 at the age of 66. An inquest concluded his death was due to “Disease and neglect – intemperance (excessive drinking of alcohol)”. A bank book in his possession showed a balance of £69. The cost of his funeral was £7-10-0.
The most precious item found in his belongings was a letter dated November 1st 1852 from his son James jnr. describing his own life and the health of his mother and siblings. He writes that his mother is “living comfortably in St. Andrews with his brother David (Auld Daw)”. He also begs his father to write a letter in reply. It is not known if that happened.
When Elizabeth Alexander died on February 13th 1853 she was described as “The widow of James Anderson, Slater of Botany Bay”. That suggests that she and others did not know that James was still alive.
So now you know something about the life of the “Black Sheep” of the Anderson family. Hope you found it interesting. And so, maybe my daughter and grandchildren living in Sydney are “Australian Royalty”.