Thursday, 28 June 2012

A little Welsh girl

Our 2xgreatgrandmother Jane SUDDABY (nee DAVIES) lived in Queensland from 1884 until 1972 and throughout that time, no-one was ever in any doubt that she was Welsh. Specifically, that she came from Rhyl. Her attachment to Rhyl was such that two of her great granddaughters were given names based on that of the town.

So it was with surprise and some amusement that the family learned, after Nan's death, that she had been born in Salford. Her birth certificate (long tucked away) was unequivocal. Not only had Jave Davies not been born in Rhyl, there was only a slim possibility that she could ever have been there.

Why would someone go through life making such a patently false claim?

While a purely historical approach to the documents cannot answer that question, it does provide a context that may explain it. If, as I have noted elsewhere in my blog, home is where the heart is, then Rhyl was truly Jane's home.

Although the fifth child of John and Jane Davies was indisputably born in Salford in 1877, her older siblings Ellen (b 1868), William (b 1870), Susannah (b 1872) and Sarah (b 1874) were all born in Rhyl. This had been the home of her mother's family for at least three generations and where she met and married John (from Liverpool).

It was not until 1875-6 that the family moved to the Manchester region where a building boom created opportunities for bricklayers, John's trade. Salford was where the older Jane died in 1881 and where John remarried.

When the family set sail for Queensland in November of 1883, Jane was just six years old with a stepmother and a new baby sister.

The first few years living in the Rockhampton district must have seemed strange. It would not be surprising if, when looking out at a harsh dry landscape, Ellen or Susannah might say "Remember when we walked with Mam on the pier to watch the waves" or reminisced about the boating lake or the sand hills that made Rhyl a holiday destination. Jane, of course, could not remember those happy times because she had not been there; but desperate to preserve a connection to the mother she had lost, she might easily imagine it.

Rhyl, as described by her siblings, was the place they had shared the time with their mother that she had been denied. Little wonder that it took on a special meaning. Regardless of the geographical facts concerning where Jane was born, I have no doubt that Rhyl was where she was from.

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