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Letters to Frank…

February 22, 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.

51 Ward St  –  4-4-52

Dear Frank

aint you the one for finding out things? or trying to & sure enough the only way to find out is to ask.  Well the only man I ever knew to use the compass was my own father – he came to Australia from England perhaps 86 years ago – he was sent out to survey the ground for 2 parks – just out from Sydney town.  My mother & he (would they be your great-great-great grand parents? – anyhow after he made the parks they went back to England & brought back three ender girls they had left in Yorkshire England & when  he got back here again he was given the job of surveying the route for the first line of telegraph poles to Queensland – he had got to Queensland & had got Mother & us 3 youngest children up there when he was lost in the bush & died of sunstroke.  His name was John Peck.  We should have a few silver trowels with which our Mother was presented at various times after he or before he finished his jobs.  I remember she had 2 given her to lay the first sod in the 2 parks but like a lot more mementoes she had & did not value they disappeared.  Quest a story isn’t it?  He left a Diary about his trips to various coutnry’s but that too disappeared.  I know he brought Mother a few nice things from Japan – Silver Filagree & basket chains but they too went.  When he took mother back after making the parks after landing from the boat he got a special train to Yorkshire – couldn’t wait for the ordinary train.  Money no object – all this was in his Diary – even Auntie remembers it – but moving over here to the west things got destroyed. Good night.


John Peck

I have heard about the silver trowels from other family members.  I wonder if they ‘disappeared’ to help support the family after their father died in the bush near Wellington in March 1873?  Mary Ann Malthouse was left with seven children to support when her husband died – the youngest only a few months old.

It is interesting (to me) that two of my great-great-great-grandfathers died suddenly, in tragic circumstances, within three months of each other – John Peck and John Kirwan – from the maternal and paternal sides of my paternal family tree – and therefore totally unrelated to each other at the time. John Kirwan shot himself on new years day 1873 in Edeowie, South Australia, only a few weeks after his youngest daughter’s wedding.  John Peck died of ‘privation and intemperance’ according to his death certificate on 6 March 1873 near Wellington NSW, only a few weeks after his youngest child was born on Christmas day 1872.


Click on the image to go to the original article at TROVE

Francis Malthouse and Mary Groves with granddaughters Kizzie, Jennie and Annie

This photograph was taken when the family returned to Leeds, Yorkshire to collect the three eldest girls who had been left behind with their grandparents when John and Mary Ann first went to Australia.  The grandparents had the photo taken just before the family returned to Australia.

The girls in the photo are Keziah “Kizzie”, Mary Jane “Jennie” and Ann “Annie” Peck – in age order.

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