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Matilda Stewart Barns, nee Gordon

Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing information about the family of Matilda Stewart and Charles Gordon.  This week, I will be sharing what I have found about their youngest daughter, Matilda Stewart Gordon.

To begin with, I had the following information for Matilda.

Matilda was born about 1852.  I haven’t found a birth or baptism record for Matilda. You can refer to my post Trove Tuesday – More About Matilda Stewart Gordon for how I established that she was probably born in 1852.

Matilda married Anthony William Barns (or Barnes) in 1874, and she died in 1921 at Footscray.

I decided to look on Trove for a death notice, to narrow down her date of death.  Although I didn’t find a death notice, I did find this article:

Matilda Barns probate notice
Classified Advertising (1921, August 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 3. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

Since this didn’t provide a date of death, I then turned to the Wills and Probate collection on the Public Record Office Victoria website, and found the entry for Matilda S Barns, Widow, residence Footscray, date of death 27 Jul 1921.

I then decided to see if the will was available to view online, to see whether it mentioned any of her children at all. The first item was only available to order to view at a Public Record Office reading room, but I could download the second item, which included her will.

The following is a transcript of her will

This is the Last Will and Testament of me Matilda Stewart Barns of 35 Droop Street Footscray in the State of Victoria Widow. I hereby revoke all testamentary dispositions at any time heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last will and testament. I appoint my son Anthony William and my son in law Robert Livingstone Dick of Neerim Road Murrumbeena in the said State Butcher (hereinafter called my trustees) to be the executors of this my will and trustees of my estate. I give devise and bequeath unto my youngest son Royland Watson the furniture contained in the front bedroom at my residence aforesaid unto my son Harold Norman the piano and the furniture in the front sitting room and the extension table in the dining room at my residence aforesaid and unto my sons Anthony William and Charles Farquharson Gordon and Albert and my daughter Emily Dick the rest of my furniture in equal shares between them. I give and bequeath to Ellen Maude Bassett the sum of ten pounds. As to the rest and residue of my real and personal property including my lands and houses situated in Bute Street and Droop Street Footscray I give devise and bequeath the same unto my trustees Upon Trust to sell call in and convert the same into money as soon as conveniently after my decease as may be and to stand possessed of the nett proceeds of such sale calling in and conversion after payment thereout of my debts and funeral and testamentary expensves and probate and estate duties in trust for such of my children Anthony William and Charles Farquharson Gordon and Albert and Harold Norman and Royland Watson and Emily Dick as shall be living at my death and the children then living of any of the above named my children then deceased who attain the age of twenty one years or being female may marry under that age if more than one in equal shares as tenants in common but so that the children of any such deceased child of mine if more than one shall take equally between them as tenants in common only the share their parents would have taken had he or she been living at my death and attained a vested interest. And I declare that it shall be lawful for my trustees to postpone the sale calling in and conversion of the said rest and residue or any part thereof so long as my trustees shall in their uncontrolled discretion think proper and I empower my trustees during such postponement to make out of my general estate any outlay they may think proper for the benefit of my said estate and I declare that the share of residue hereinbefore bequeathed to each of my children shall be in addition to and not in satisfaction of any sum or sums which I in my lifetime may have covenanted that I or my executors after my death will pay to or for the benefit of such child or his or her wife or husband or issue. In witness whereof I have hereunder set my hand this seventh day of May One thousand nine hundred and nineteen

From this will I now knew that her husband Anthony William Barns had predeceased her.  I also now knew the names of her children:

  • Anthony William
  • Emily married to Robert Livingstone Dick who were living at Neerim Road Murrumbeena.  Robert was a butcher
  • Royland Watson
  • Harold Norman
  • Charles Farquharson Gordon
  • Albert

The will also mentioned an Ellen Maude Bassett, but there was no mention of how she was related, or in what capacity Matilda knew her.

I then turned to the Victorian Birth Death Marriage website, and searched for any entries for the surname Barn*s (I used the wildcard to pick up any with the spelling Barnes, as well as Barns), father’s name Anthony, mother’s name Matilda.  I then sorted them by year.

  • Matilda Stewart Barns, born in 1875 (reg. no. 10939)
  • Emily Barns, born in 1876 (reg. no. 24561)
  • George Barns, born in 1878 (reg. no. 24247). George Barnes died in 1879 (reg. no. 2370)
  • Jno Maynard Barns, born in 1880 (reg. no. 3807), John Maynard Barnes died in 1882 (reg. no. 2665)
  • Anthony William Barns, born in 1882 (reg. no. 17668). Anthony William Barns died in 1965 (reg. no. 21569)
  • Chas Gordon Farquharson Barns, born in 1884 (reg. no. 18887). Charles Farquharson Gordon Barns died in 1947 (reg. no. 7191)
  • David Fowler Barns, born in 1887 (reg. no. 5060)
  • Albert Barns, born in 1889 (reg. no. 12417)
  • Harold Norman Barns, born in 1891 (reg. no. 12761). Harold Norman Barns died in 1955 (reg. no. 3036)
  • Royland Watson Barns died in 1975 (reg. no. 13061), at age 81

Since David Fowler Barns and Matilda Stewart Barns weren’t mentioned in their mother’s will, and I didn’t find death entries for them with parents Anthony and Matilda, I decided to try Ancestry.

David Fowler Barns died in 1891 at Footscray, age 5 (reg. no. 15253). His mother’s name was listed as Matild.

There was also a Public Member Tree on Ancestry with a story attached to David Fowler Barns. The story was a death notice.

I wasn’t able to find the death notice on Trove using the search “David Barns”, so I used the details from the Public Member Tree to browse the newspapers and find the entry.

David Fowler Barns death notice
Family Notices (1891, October 24). Independent (Footscray, Vic. : 1883 – 1922), p. 2. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

I decided to retry my search for this death notice, this time using “Matilda Barns” as my search term, and came up with the death notice for their daughter Matilda.

Matilda Barns death notice
Family Notices (1902, August 30). Independent (Footscray, Vic. : 1883 – 1922), p. 2. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

This explained why I hadn’t found her death in the Victorian indexes – she died in Western Australia.

I was then able to find her entry on the Western Australian indexes.  Matilda Stewart Barnes, age 27, died in 1902 (reg. no. 660). Her parents and birthplace were unknown.


In this way, I found David’s death notice again, as well as the death notice for John Maynard Barns.

John Maynard Barns death notice
Family Notices (1882, January 30). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

This notice not only provided his death date, but allowed me to calculate his date of birth – 24 January 1880.

I still needed to find death entries for Albert, and the birth entry for Royland.

I used Ancestry to find the birth entry for Royland: Royland Watson Barns was born in 1894 at Footscray – his mother was listed as Mtlda Stewart Gordon (reg. no. 119).

I found a death entry for Albert at Ancestry

Albert Barns
in the Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985
Name:  Albert Barns
Birth Year:        abt 1890
Age:     90
Death Place:    P??, Victoria
Father’s name: Antho Albert
Mother’s name:            Stema E Matilda
Registration Year:        1980
Registration Place:       Victoria
Registration Number:   00591,

Since the person transcribing this entry for Ancestry seemed to have some trouble, I then went back to the Victorian BDM website, to see what the entry there was:

Event registration number591
Registration year1980
Personal information
Family nameBARNS
Given namesALBERT
Father’s nameALBERT ANTHO
Mother’s nameMatilda Stewa
Place of birth
Place of deathPRAH
Spouse’s family name
Spouse’s given names

The next thing was to find the death entry for Emily.  Emily Dick died in 1950 at Hughesdale (reg. no. 3282). Her place of birth was also listed – Melbourne West.  Her parents were Anthony Barns and Matilda Stewart Gordon.

And, finally, I searched for Matilda’s husband Anthony’s death entry. I couldn’t find a death entry that seemed to match, so I decided to see if he left a will.’I found an entry for Anthony Barns, wheelwright, residence Footscray, death date 14 February 1894.

I now had a death date, and place of death, so I decided to go back and see if I could find the death entry, and found Anthy Barns died in 1894 at Footscray (reg. no. 1802). His parents were Geo and Emily (Maynard).  He was 44 years old.

I was then able to find his funeral notice

Anthony Barns funeral notice
Family Notices (1894, February 16). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from

The following is the descendant report I generated using Legacy Family Tree.  I haven’t added all the sources to Legacy yet, and I still need to go back and look at each of the birth and death entries, to add places to the events.

  1. Matilda Stewart Gordon, daughter of Charles Gordon and Maidy (Matilda) Stewart,1was born about 1852 and died on 27 Jul 1921 in Footscray, Victoria, Australia2 aged about 69.

Matilda married Anthony William Barns in 1874. Anthony was born about 1850 and died on 14 Feb 1894 in Footscray, Victoria, Australia aged about 44.

Children from this marriage were:

2   F         i.         Matilda Stewart Barns was born in 18753 and died on 22 Aug 1902 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia at age 27.

3   F        ii.         Emily Barns was born in 1876 in West Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and died in 1950 in Hughesdale, Victoria, Australia at age 74.

Emily married Robert Livingstone Dick.

4   M      iii.         George Barns was born in 1878 and died in 1879 at age 1.

5   M     iv.         John Maynard Barns was born on 24 Jan 1880 and died on 29 Jan 1882 in West Melbourne, Victoria, Australia at age 2.

6   M      v.         Anthony William Barns was born in 1882 and died in 1965 at age 83.

7   M     vi.         Charles Gordon Farquharson Barns was born in 1884 and died in 1947 at age 63.

8   M    vii.         David Fowler Barns was born in 1887 and died on 17 Oct 1891 in Footscray, Victoria, Australia at age 4.

9   M   viii.         Albert Barns was born in 1889 and died in 1980 in Prahran, Victoria, Australia at age 91.

10   M     ix.         Harold Norman Barns was born in 1891 and died in 1955 at age 64.

11   M      x.         Royland Watson Barns was born in 1894 in Footscray, Victoria, Australia and died in 1975 at age 81.

Source Citations

  1. “Wills and Bequests,” Melbourne Punch, 9 Feb 1888, p. 16, col. 4; digital images, Trove ( : accessed 1 Oct 2016), Digitised Newspapers and more.
  2. Victoria, Australia, Wills and Probate, 179/452, Matilda S Barns, 27 July 1921; digital images, Public Record Office Victoria, Public Record Office Victoria ( : accessed 26 Oct 2016).
  3. Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria, “Family History Search,” database, Victoria State Government Justice and Regulation ( : accessed 26 Oct 2016), birth entry for Matilda Stewart Barns; Registration no 10939 of 1875.