Monday, 2 April 2012

Blogging A-Z - April Challenge - B is for .....

B is for......Bellasis & Butcher

These are two of my genealogical surnames that have links to Australia.

The Bellasis stands for George Bridges Bellasis and his wife Ester, nee King. They have been well documented on this blog previously, but without a doubt, they were fairly early transportees to Australia, with a difference. 

Their story goes back to the values and understandings of the late 18th Century. George Bridges Bellasis married the eldest daughter of a family of 9 children, of which only one was a boy. So at this point think Pride and Prejudice! In turn, the majority of Esther's sisters would find their way to India, where Esther and her husband lived, as George was in the Honourable East India Company. One of the sisters was offered and accepted a proposal of marriage, which would effectively mean job done! except than in the morning the offer was retracted and that in terms of the time meant a slur to honour. A dual ensused and a man died as a result. George Bridges Bellasis was sentenced and transported to Botany Bay for 14 years. Esther accompanied him. 

The story does not end in chains and rages and never to be seen again. George received a pardon and remained in the Colony for about 2 years. He is mentioned in early Freemason papers and eventually returned to India via a visit to England to see his family and for his wife to pass away. George later returned to India and married on of Esther's sister's who had been widowed.

A discovery of this wonderful drawing in the Mitchell Library, at the State Library of New South Wales is a true treasure. 

This was painted by Esther in around 1802. As far as research shows it is the only piece that was either left in Australia or that has survived. What it means to me, is that Esther was a women of resilience. It is well known that she was of weak stature and often ill and one that claimed her at the time, but through what has to have been a stressful time she still found time to loose herself in this painting and I am so glad she did.

It was by pure chance that I established an ancestor by the name of John Hunt Butcher had migrated to Australia - Richmond Tasmania in 1821. Initially, I knew little of his time in Australia or what prompted him to travel such a distance. John had inherited an estate in the rural village in Hascombe called Park Hatch. In 1814 he sold the estate and 7 years later set sail with his family to Tasmania. 

Once in Australia he added to his family and made a name for himself. He was a Magistrate and as readers of this blog will see in later posts this week he seemed to think well outside of the box! with great influence I am sure from his brother in law, the well known William John Burchell. This line of research was discovered through another researcher who mentioned something to me, which made me look again at the original data that I had from John's time in England. 

John died in Tasmania in 1839 aged just 58 years. His wife lived another 33 years in the Colony. From research I can see that Sarah had planned to return to England to live, for whatever reason she did not return to England to live, but did return to visit and there are various mentions of the complexities of wills and property in the Surrey Records Office.

The link for the A-Z Challenge 2011 post is HERE


  1. Hi Julie - good to meet you .. these stories sound fascinating and I shall enjoy your tour around Australia - I've never been there .. and the fact that so many of the transportees survived and built wonderful lives for themselves - these two are fascinating and I love that picture she drew and painted ..

    Love the West Country - my mother used to live in Penzance .. so we've been down there all our lives - I'm now in Eastbourne ..

    See you - must dash .. cheers Hilary

  2. Anonymous1:42 pm

    I love the elegance and deceptive simplicity of the drawing by Esther. What a great find! Sounds like you've been very fortunate (and no doubt determined) to find such wonderful sources around the globe. BTW I signed up but I'm already a day behind to catch up.

    1. Thanks Pauline. I can see my cheering from the sidelines inspired you to join! I guess I am determined to establish what I can. I came across the painting simply by Googling - after Esther Bellasis and a few other combinations simply typed in Mrs Bellasis+Botany Bay and bingo!

  3. What a cool story, albeit a historical one. I love stuff like that - it makes me want to research into my own genealogical surname. I really like your challenge theme!

    Happy A-Z blogging!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I tried to keep the post short, but there was so much I could have put into the post. Go one have a go at researching your own ancestry - starting from yourself and they your parent and grandparents. Ask relatives, before it becomes to late.

  4. Always great to know about ones roots. I wish I could trace my heritage,too!
    great A-Z post!

    1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by. You can trace your heritage. Starting from yourself and they your parent and grandparents. Ask relatives, before it becomes to late.It is a fascinating project and I guess I should apologies to you for when it becomes an obsession! lol

  5. This is an awesome post about your ancestors. very interesting.


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