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Letters to Frank…

January 9, 2011

I have a collection of letters that belonged to my Dad.  They were written to him by his grandmother and his great grandmother, mostly in the early 1950s.  It turns out my dad was curious about his family history when he was about 15 years old.

This is one of the letters.

Letter from Emily Bertha Eliza Peck to Frank McLeod Kirwan 1952/3

51 Ward St


Dear Frank –

Enclosed is the promised memento of your great-great-grandparents on the maternal side of your ancestors – you will see it was printed in 1870 – a long time ago isn’t it – a wonder it has lived so long & now you are getting it – & you can remember that your great-grandmother was once Emily-Bertha-Eliza Peck – a truly awful name.

About the apprentices Georgie had that you asked about I really can’t remember – but when you pay us a visit you can see the jocky’s names who rode a few of his winners. Now your grandmother is about ready. Love to you all



The memento referred to was a program for a celebration of John Peck and Mary Ann Malthouse’s wedding anniversary, that took place aboard the Commissary in 1870.

John Peck and Mary Ann Malthouse made several journeys back and forth between England and Australia (New South Wales) aboard the Commissary and they became well known to the Captain and crew.

The program was shown to me by my grandmother when I was a child, and from memory it was pink.  It was removed from her house at some stage – something she was very sad and disappointed about, and so it is either lost, or in someone else’s possession.  I hope it isn’t lost.

From the moment I discovered my great-great grandmother’s name – Emily Bertha Eliza Peck – I have thought it was a wonderful name.  On her birth certificate she is Emily Bertha Peck.  I don’t know when the Eliza was added or if there simply wasn’t room to write it on the birth register, but obviously she believed this was her name.  It amuses me that she thought her name was ‘truly awful’.

Georgie is George Jones – Emily’s husband who she married when Alice, my father’s grandmother was 9 years old.  Perhaps he was her biological father, and perhaps he was not.  There is no father registered on her birth certificate, and she bore her mother’s maiden name until Emily married George.

But he was considered to be her father and was a witness at Alice’s wedding.  However, he was always called ‘Georgie’ – by Alice and by her grandchildren.   But then, Alice was always called ‘Aunty’ by her grandchildren.

George Jones was a horse trainer. I wish my father had asked about more than just Georgie’s apprentices.  Georgie is one of my most difficult and oldest brickwalls.


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