Saturday, 7 September 2013

Researcher, beware

We’ve all heard the saying ‘Buyer, beware’. Well, this is definitely a case of ‘Researcher, beware’.
In my quest to discover more about the 1300 or so volunteers with Coburg connections, I’ve become used to unravelling the mysteries of how names were spelled. Was it Johnson, Johnston or Johntone? Bartram or Bartman? Riley, Reiley or Reilly? Freudenthal or Frendenthal? Malcolmson or Malcomson? Kiernan or Kernan? Were their initials correct? Were they known by their first or second given names? You know the sort of thing.

In my first blog entry I mentioned that I was having difficulty tracking down Hector McKay, resident of Campbell Street, Coburg, 'son of the late Robert McKay and grandson of the late "Sandy" Ellis, the one-time famous jockey, and nephew to Mr Mat Ellis, well-known horse owner.' (Brunswick and Coburg Star, 28 August 1914)

In my second blog entry I listed the first Coburg men to enlist. Among them was a Hector Kay.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. It’s a case of you can’t always believe what you read in the newspaper and I fell for it!

I can now reveal to you that Hector was actually 2864 Private Hector Kay, a 25 year old driver of 35 Campbell Street, Coburg. He embarked from Australia on 20 October 1914 on board HMAT Shropshire as a member of the Divisional Ammunition Column. He survived the war and returned to Australia in December 1918.

An old type British torpedo head passing the HMAT Shropshire at Port Said in December 1914. Hector Kay was on board. Photograph by Phillip Frederick Edward Schuler.
Image courtesty Australian War Memorial, ID number PS0297


Giza, Eypt, April 1915. The pyramids overlook the tent lines and vehicles of the 1st Divisional Ammunition Column.
Image courtesy of AWM. Image P00211.022

Hector Robert Alexander Kay, son of Robert Mitchell Kay and Elizabeth Johnson Ellis, was born at St Kilda in 1888. His father died in 1896 and his mother remarried not long afterwards to William Wilson of Cardigan Street, Carlton. His mother was the daughter of Alexander ‘Sandy’ Ellis, a Scot who arrived in the Colony in 1847, married here in Melbourne in 1849. Hector Kay, his grandson, was married to Kitty, had a son Stuart and lived in Holroyd Street, Coburg until his death in 1953 aged 67.
Sources: Victorian Birth 1885/29183; Victorian Marriages 1849/3420, Victorian Deaths 1953/3041; Victorian electoral rolls, 1914-1949;  Argus, 20 March 1953, p.10)

I’m still very keen to learn more about the one-time jockey ‘Sandy’ Ellis and his horse owning son Mat. Hopefully someone will be able to tell me more.

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