52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors (2014) #47 John Harley

In 2014, Amy Johnson Crow introduced the challenge “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” on her No Story Too Small blog.  As I didn’t start this challenge until June, my series has continued into 2015.  This week, I have chosen for my ancestor John Harley.

When I first started researching the family history, my cousin sent me an extract from a book a distant cousin had been writing about the Harley family.  Although most of the information sent to me was for my great grandfather Alexander Alexander Harley, the extract also gave some information about Alexander’s father Robert Harley, and Robert’s brother John.  The two brothers had come to Australia from Scotland.

Using this information, I found the death entries for Robert and John, on the Victorian death indexes, which listed their parents as John Harley and Agnes Moncur.  I then found the baptism entries for Robert and John, as well as the marriage entry for John and Agnes, on the International Genealogical Index (which back then was on microfiche).  John Harley and Agnes Moncur were married 16 February 1817 in Longforgan.

Later, I was sent information about the brothers’ sister Elisabeth, who had also come to Australia, and since three of the four children had been found in Australia, I decided to check if the other sister, Janet, and their father had also come to Australia, and found that they had.

I was then able to get the death certificate for John Harley, which showed he died 11 June 1864 at Williamstown, and buried 12 June 1864 at the Williamstown Cemetery.  His daughter Janet, and most of her family are also buried in the same grave.

John Harley death certificate
Victoria Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, death certificate 5107 (1864), John Harley; Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Melbourne.

In searching the parish registers for Longforgan, I had been unable to find an entry for John – the 1851 Scotland Census provided the reason why:

John Harley, age 56, birthplace Forres, Murreyshire, address Village of Longforgan, occupation: labourer.  His daughter Janet, age 16, was also in the household.

This showed that John was born in another county.  The IGI has an entry for a John Harreld born 18 Sep 1792 and christened 23 Dec 1792 at Dallas, Moray, Scotland. His parents were Robert Harreld and Jennat Mcaish.  On John’s death certificate, his parents are listed as Robert and Janet, and the burial records for Longforgan include entries for Robert Harley, and a Janet Harley nee M’Kay.  There is a marriage entry of a Robert Harrald to Janet Hay on 27 June 1786 at Kinloss, Moray, Scotland.  This baptism entry therefore may be for our John, but more evidence is needed to confirm this.

So far, I had a possible baptism for John, his marriage, details from the 1851 census, and his death certificate. The next thing to do was to find him on the 1841 census, and to try and find an immigration record for him – his death certificate shows he had been in Victoria for 9 years, so this indicates an immigration year of about 1855.

The 1841 Census shows John Harley, age 40, was an ag lab living in the Town of Longforgan. Also in the household was Agnes, age 40, and Janet age 6.  Agnes would be his wife, Agnes Moncur, and Janet his daughter.

At this stage, I have been unable to find an immigration record for John. There are a few entries on the Unassisted Immigrant lists at the Public Record Office Victoria website, although the ages don’t match. The Unassisted Immigrant lists have been known in the past to have incorrect ages, so a look at the original entries is needed to see if any of these may be for our John. At this stage, these images aren’t available online.