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John SQUIRE 1881-1952

In my first four narratives, I am writing about my parents' families, and that of Anne SQUIRE. The selection of these men is that they arrived in Adelaide, or in some cases, elsewhere in South Australia. The first is of John SQUIRE, and you can see his details on my website, at https://jansquire.com/tng/getperson.php?personID=I21&tree=squire.

  "What would be needed in 1911 for John SQUIRE to leave his work in Bristol and hop on a boat to South Australia? There were certainly adverts in all the Somerset and Gloucester papers advertising for servants and labourers to come to South Australia for guaranteed work. John was a qualified wheelwright, and it seemed that he arrived in Adelaide, and went at once to Port Wakefield to work for the South Australian railways. Three years later, his girlfriend, Ethel GILL, followed. Ethel was a first cousin to John, so is that why they came to live half way around the world? John and Ethel never returned to Somerset to see their family, but they did make a satisfying life for themselves here.

The earliest ancestral SQUIRE I can find is Symon SQUIRE, born 1721 and baptised at Uplowman, Devon on 20 July 1721. Uplowman is a small village near Tiverton, Devon, and south of Wiveliscombe, where later generations lived. Symon and his descendants were probably agricultural labourers. His son, Robert, was born in 1751, in Uplowman,  but Robert’s son John, also born in Uplowman, had moved North to Wiveliscombe in Somerset, where his children, including Isaac, were born. It is interesting to ponder how they moved the 15 or so kilometres to Wiveliscombe, whether they walked, or had a horse and cart. How many belongings would they have had?

The SQUIRE family were in Wiveliscombe from about 1805 till 1880, when they moved even further north, to Alcombe, near Dunster. Isaac senior was born in 1806 in Wiveliscombe, and his son, also Isaac, was born in 1846. Isaac junior married Emily GILL, beginning a generational connection between the families. Emily had left home in Alcombe to work as a servant in a nearby rectory, and married Isaac in 1877. Emily’s mother Mary died in 1886, so Isaac, Emily and family moved to Alcombe to support her father, James GILL. At this time, Emily’s brother William GILL, lived nearby, and his children included Ethel, soon to follow cousin John to Adelaide. I was fortunate to visit the area in 2003 and in 2007, and have photographs of Isaac and Emily’s house, Staunton Cottage.

Isaac and Emily had five children, and had the SMITH family as neighbours. When Charlie SMITH’s mum died quite young, Isacc and Emily fostered young Charlie for a few years while dad looked after a very disabled sibling.

John SQUIRE was born at Alcombe in 1881, on the Dunster Castle estate, and by the 1901 census, he was described as a coach builder. In 1911, he was living in Bristol as a boarder. He is listed as departing London in September 1911, on the ship Athenic, bound for Port Hobart. He clearly disembarked in Port Adelaide, and seems to have made his way quite quickly to Port Wakefield, where he worked for the railways.

Ethel GILL, almost 30 years of age, left London in September 1914 on the ship Orsova, alighting in Adelaide. Once John and Ethel married (the day she arrived in Adelaide), they settled into Port Wakefield life, living at 16 Edward Street with their only child Ken, born 1917. The house looks like it should be condemned, and it seems that no-one is living there. But at least it still stands, and I have a recent photograph. John appears to have become a blacksmith,  identified as such in the Sands and Mac directories, and they were both involved in their local Methodist Church. John may also have been the local undertaker for a while, because of several notices in local newspapers (accessed from Trove). Interestingly, one of the witnesses to John and Ethel’s marriage was Maude RANN, later mother to Connie RUNDLE, who married Ken SQUIRE in June 1944. I suspect Maud was a person roped in by the Port Adelaide Methodist Church church minister, but who remained lifelong friends to Ethel and John.

John retired around 1941, and moved to Torrensville, Adelaide, where they bought a house in Stephens Avenue. Sadly, my grandmother Ethel, died in April 1943, before I was born. However, Ken carried on the name as an only child, so our Adelaide family is rather small. There are anecdotal stories that Ken was ‘a bit of a lad’ in his youth, but he certainly settled down after marriage. There are plenty of other SQUIRE families in Adelaide, but I have not yet found any connection to any of them. I have a project to explore this further, but it is not top of the list.

Ken and Connie (RUNDLE) lived with John SQUIRE till he died in 1952, unfortunately on brother Jeff’s birthday. As a six year old, I remember that morning well. Ken and Connie brought three children into this world, Graham in 1946, (later to become and live as Jan), Jeff in 1949, and Val in 1956. with six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Structuring my book; bringing 'A Country Squire' to life

I have thought hard about how my book should look and be structured. I did not want a traditional book, but something that was more of a collection of stories and able to tell about the lives of our ancestors. There are some twenty ancestors who came to Adelaide with their families, plus many more surname lines in England and Scotland who contributed to the gene pool, and many branches of these families in the generations after arrival. It is easy enough to write about these families in a chapter structure, but I also want to make it easy to switch between these groups as a reader follows their own particular journey through time.

On my family history website (https://jansquire.com/tng/), I have a database with each person having a page of information about themselves, with links to parents, partners and children. These pages contain key dates, anecdotal stories, newspaper articles and obituaries, and transcripts of source information. Unfortunately, there is no simple automated way to collect this information into narratives for my people, so I have chosen to write stories about each person/family one by one.

The easy part is that I will have a Chapter for each surname group, in alphabetical order. In the initial writing, there is around one page of the basic story of the key person who arrived in Adelaide, but including their origins from the other side of the world. I also am including an ancestor list and a descendant list of these people from my family history website. Later, I will revisit my work to add maps, source information, newspaper clips when appropriate, and any new information I discover or is provided by others.

Stage two will continue with written narratives about each family that has a connection to my existing narratives.This could add hundreds of new surnames to my list of narratives. One of my challenges that is not yet fully resolved is how I will be able to provide linking information to connect the many different surnames so that it is easy to track lineages from a distant ancestor to one's parent or grandparent. Each of my 20 key arrivals will have thirty two great great great grandparents (640 surnames), and those 20 people could each have more than one hundred living families. The size of my project is terrifying.

The Idea Behind 'A Country Squire'

I set the name decades ago when I created my first family history website in the late 1980’s, written in html, one page for each family. I wanted to use a twist on my surname, and ‘borrow’ an old English phrase. Later, when I bought a rural property of 85 acres near Harrogate in the Adelaide Hills, and then built a house thereon, I felt I had earnt this label. I have always wanted to write my somewhat unique life story, and weave it around my ancestors. I struggled with the idea of writing a boring narrative of my life, although it may not end up being boring. Over the past year (2018), I slowly developed the format of writing about our key ancestors that came into Adelaide, and now I have the plan.

I am including the family of my partner and companion of some 50 years, to deliver around 20 men (there is one woman included), who brought their families half way round the world to start a new life. My goal is to write one A4 page on each of them, and so far five narratives have been written. I am adding an ancestors' list for these people, and a full descendants' list too. This simply is a report printed from my Family History website, at https://jansquire.com/tng/. The website is solely on the internet and is available for anyone to find and read. Living people are hidden though. I get regular messages from people searching for their ancestors who find my site, and discover new family and relationships.

Coming soon:

  • writing structure
  • more about Jan Squire (skills, experience, qualifications inc PLCGS)
  • South Australian research
  • family surnames
  • my other social media space
  • seach narrative in full
My Blog is Launched.

In 2019, I set myself the task of starting to write something about our family history. So far, I have written five narratives of one page each about familiy lines that have arrived in Adelaide, South Australia. These have already been published in Facebook, but now they will also appear as my blog. I plan to set the scene in a few blogs, to explore my plans, discuss surnames and locations, and publish each paper.

Watch this space.