Searching for William
Updated from my July 2015 Blog
William travelled to the Gold Coast, immigrating to Perth, Australia in 1925. He married a school teacher. William left his family when his son was 5 years old. During World War Two William’s wife sent food parcels to William’s family in London. After the war the families lost touch.
This is the story that has survived in my family history for 3 generations; one I can remember from being a small boy. When I started my research into the family back in 1990 it continued to intrigue me.
What happened to William?
What happened to William’s wife and son?
The first step I took was to trace William’s birth. Using his parents as a starting point I traced their marriage. Edward William NASH (1876-1969) married Mary Ann Elizabeth MORRIS (known to the family as Polly, 1871-1947) 1. Using the date of marriage as a starting point I traced the birth certificate for William George, 1904 in Greenwich, London 2. He was baptised on 3 August 1904 in Greenwich, London, United Kingdom 3.
Taking the scant facts I had for his birth and parents, plus one photograph of a young boy, with a name, I continued the search…
Researching with the help of a number of publications I contacted The National Archives of Australia 4. I came across a war service record for William George NASH. The service records contained further information; the first news I and indeed the family had received since World War Two. I now had William’s date of enlistment, his army number, unit and date of discharge (due to the requirement for maintaining essential dairying supplies). I also gained some personal details about him; hair colour (grey), eye colour (grey) and distinctive marks. Best of all the war record contained a photograph of William.
I was able to reveal more facts through Army pay records; letters written by William’s wife and a transcript of their marriage certificate. The marriage took place between William George NASH and Hazel Sophronia Dowell on 2 November 1942 in Freemantle, Western Australia.
Accessing the Western Australian Post Office Directories 5 I found evidence of William as a dairy farmer in 1946-1949; a fact listed in his army records. I had now placed William in Wellard, as a diary farmer!
My next step was contacting the State Library of Western Australia 6, I tracked down William’s wife (as she had the unusual middle name of Sophronia 7). This has been perhaps the biggest and most rewarding piece of research and evidence to date. I contacted Hazel by letter, in November 2006 detailing who I was and my interest in William. Hazel wrote back confirming she was a relation and that she separated from William in 1945. Almost immediately William left the area and she hadn’t heard from him since. She was able to provide further details on William, and just as importantly for his son.
Another contact, which proved to be very useful was Rockingham Museum 11. They kindly agreed to ask their local visitors and volunteers if anyone had memories of William George NASH. Frank, who was 16 years old in 1943 when helping his father in the Wellard area remembered William. Frank’s father ran a service that picked up the milk and cream from the dairy farms. He remembered William as a tall man, very strong and quite abrasive in manner. His farm was on Young Road, second lot close to Dog Hill Road.
In June 2014 the mailing list Rootsweb proved it’s worth again. A student contacted me after tracking down my interest in William and his son. He had brought a box of items at an auction, which contained papers on William and his son. Although there was some useful information, there were no major finds that led to further information on William.
Local family history societies and museums, dairy farmer organisations and archives have provided further data on William and the search to answer further questions continues…
Did I find William?
So I have an interesting family story. William George NASH, born 1904, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom. Travelled to Australia via the Gold Coast and became a diary farmer in the 1940’s.
+ What else might I be able to find in my research?
+ What about the title of this Blog; ‘Searching for William’; did I ever find William?
This story also featured in my July 2015 Blog ‘The Search for William’. It has been updated for this blog entry with new information.
Robert Parker is a Genealogist and Trainer, based in Kent. He delivers courses, guidance, talks and research services for those interested in tracing their ancestors. See https://myfamilygenealogy.co.uk/guidance/ for his 5 steps to discovering your ancestors. Contact Robert to discuss your requirements without obligation.
What stories might your ancestors tell?
1 Source: Freebmd.org.uk, Marriages Sep 1903, NASH, Edward William, Greenwich, Vol: 1d, page: 1943
2 Source: Freebmd.org.uk, Births Sep 1904, NASH, William George, Greenwich, Vol: 1d, page: 1093
3 Source: Ancestry.co.uk, London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906
4 Source: www.naa.gov.au/, National Archives of Australia, series B883, item number WX21541
5 Source: http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au/find/guides/wa_history/post_office_directories; accessed June 2015
6 Source: http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au/
7 See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sophronia or http://www.behindthename.com/name/sophronia for the meaning of the name