Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for James - a Scotsman and a Convict

The reason I have chosen James as my J word is that I have two ancestors called James who were both travellers of the world - one chose to travel and one had travel forced upon him.  As someone who wants to see as much of the world as I can, it gives me a connection to my past to think of others travelling before me.

The first James is my maternal grandfather, James Forbes who at the age of 20 left his home in Aberdeen, Scotland and boarded a ship bound for Australia.  We've been to Aberdeen and found the house my Grandfather grew up in, but unfortunately it is now flats so we were unable to go in and see how it once was.  It did feel very special walking the streets that my grandfather had walked.  I stood and looked out over the view and wondered what thoughts went through his head when he was making the decision to go to Australia, and if like me coming to the UK, he was only going for a limited time?

The outside of the house that James grew up in.

This is the boarding list for the ship James travelled to Australia on.
What's the saying, the best laid plans of mice and men?  James ending up falling in love with an Australian girl and staying for the rest of his life - they had 7 children with my mum being the second oldest.  It's ironic, because I left Australia and travelled to the UK for a year and ended up falling in love with a Scotsman and staying - that was 20 years ago this year.  Even more interesting is that my beloved's ancestors are also from Aberdeenshire, so there is the possibility that somewhere in the past our family's were linked.

The difference between me and granddad is that he never went back to Scotland whereas we try and go home to Australia every couple of years.  Granddaddy died when I was 5 years old so I don't really remember him, but I do remember his Scottish accent which I like to think led me to my own Scotsman.

James Forbes
James and Helen
The second James is my paternal 4th Great Grandfather, James King alias Smith.  He was born in Lincolnshire, England and after stealing a tankard from a pub he was transported to Australia as a convict.  As luck would have it he ended up in Tasmania and after he gained parole he became a publican of a pub in Perth, Tasmania.

It's so true that the decisions we make in life shape our future and through a petty act of crime James ended up in Tasmania and became a useful member of society.  I can't imagine the fear he must of felt when he was told he was being sent to the other side of the world to everyone and everything he knew.  I'm very glad that I didn't have to break the law to see more of this world we live in.

I don't have a picture of James but I do have a picture of the grave of one of his sons, William, who moved to the area of Tasmania in which I grew up.  His grave is in the old Wynyard cemetery, overlooking the Inglis River with Eucalyptus standing guard overhead.

Perhaps my need to travel is in my genetic makeup. I love learning about my ancestors as it gives me a sense of belonging to the world.

Until next time be good, stay safe, and take a moment to think about why you like the things you do and if they have any links to your ancestors.

Pamela and Ken


  1. I really enjoyed this. I firmly believe our makeup is a mashup of all our ancestors, but more than just genetically. I have found too many times in my research likes and dislikes I share with ancestors I've never met -- obscure things that I cannot disregard as coincidence.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Stephanie. I guess it all comes down to that nature vs nurture debate and I agree, I think a lot of what we become is inherent in our make up.

  2. I come from a family where James is the middle name for all the males for several generations - going back to Scotland too. Obviously these Scottish men had a thing for moving to Australia! Leanne @ cresting the hill

    1. Lucky for us they did end up in Australia.