Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Victorian Trooper - A History Of Joseph Ladd Mayes.

There's a story I'm keen to tell that falls outside of my current focus as a writer of fiction. It's the story of my family's origins - at least as it relates to the Mayes side of my family. 

In the early days of the Internet, one of my first attempts at setting up a website was a somewhat potted history of the Mayes family, whose origins have been traced back to 17th century Ireland. There is some anecdotal evidence suggesting their origins can be traced further back - to the Huguenots of North Eastern France but, to date, nothing concrete has been established. 

One of the most interesting stories involves my great-great grandfather, Joseph Ladd Mayes, a man who has a not insignificant place in the history of the Victorian Police Force here in Australia. Joseph Mayes was involved in the hunt for one of Australia's most notorious criminal figures - Ned Kelly.

Edward "Ned" Kelly.

Given the time since I first attempted that website, family history research and the ability one has to reach a wider audience has grown exponentially. So I thought it would be useful to retell the story of my family origins here. In doing so, I'm hoping to make new connections and perhaps fill in the many gaps that still exist in the family story. 

What I'll present here and in subsequent posts, will remain liquid - as further information comes to hand, I'll update these entries. For now, I'll recall the details from my old website and push on. 

So, where to begin?

The town of Headford, on the western coast of Ireland, is located approximately 20 miles north of Galway on the road to Ballinrobe (County Mayo) about 2 miles east of Lough Corrib. The town and its environs are a popular fishing destination and the area is steeped in a rich archeological and monastic history. It is the site of the ruins of Ross Abbey a Franciscan friary, constructed in 1357. Lough Corrib was considered a place of reverence by the early Christian monks.

(Ross Abbey ruins, Headford Galway).

(Headford, County Galway).

My great-great grandfather Joseph Ladd Mayes was born in Headford, Ireland on the 20th January 1833, a child of market gardener Joseph Ladd Mayes (Sr). and Rebecca Lydon. It is unclear as to whether he was the youngest or oldest child - this remains a mystery.

(Joseph Ladd Mayes - my great-great grandfather - date unknown).

(Rebecca Mayes - nee Lydon - date unknown).

Not much is known of Joseph Ladd's early life as records have been almost impossible to track. One of the difficulties of Ireland's genealogical history is that due to disastrous famines that struck the country down notably the potato famine of the 1850's family records were often lost or destroyed.

What is known is that Joseph's father was a successful market gardener. My family has in it's possession, a sterling silver medal that was awarded to Joseph Sr. in 1834 at a country show in Headford for growing the best strawberries. One can only guess at the pride this simple gardener felt which possibly made an impression on young Joseph. One of Joseph's first occupations - listed when he first joined the Victorian Police in Australia years later - was that of a florist and gardener. And yet, there is evidence to suggest that young Joseph did not know his father very at all, since Joseph Sr. was reported to have died in Ireland not long after Joseph Ladd was born. The time line here is sketchy as I write this but this entry will be edited as more concrete information comes to hand.

While Joseph spent much of his early life in Headford, family's records show that Joseph and his mother (and possibly his siblings) made the decision to uproot their lives and cross the Atlantic Ocean to America in the early 1850's. The most tangible reason for this is the potato famine of the early to mid 19th century, which decimated much of the country and saw an exodus of Irish nationals to far flung countries like Australia and America. Many thousands of Irish immigrants left from bustling Irish seaports like Queenstown (Cobh) and we can guess such a seaport is where Joseph and his mother embarked on their long sea voyage.

(Ellis Island Processing Center, New York - date unknown).

(Ellis Island Processing Center - date unknown).

(Herald Square, New York City - circa 1900).

It is in New York City that reliable records of my great great grandfather can be found. It was here that Joseph met his first wife one Marrian Piquet. Marrian was an expatriate of Brassau, Switzerland the third daughter of a Churchman. There is tangible evidence that Marrian lived some of her early adult life in Boston and that she worked for the City of New York.

A certificate of marriage shows that Joseph Ladd married Marrian Piquet in New York on December 3 1855. They settled in Wilkes Barrie County and in 1857 welcomed their first child a boy named Charles. We know also that Joseph's mother died during their time in America is buried in Westchester New York. 

Whether the passing of Rebecca Mayes was a catalyst for Joseph & Mariann to reassess their life in America, one can only guess. However, sometime in those years shortly after their marriage, Joseph and Marrian took the decision to emigrate to the far flung colony of Australia.

Shipping records show that on February 22 1858 Joseph and Marrian Mayes with their infant boarded the steamer Mini Har Har and sailed for some two and a half months before arriving in the Port of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia.

In my next entry, I'll chart Joseph Ladd's beginnings in the Victorian Police Force and how his career trajectory would put him into the center of one of the most notorious periods of Victoria's history - one involving the bush-ranger Edward "Ned" Kelly.

Next: Becoming A Lawman.


No comments:

Post a Comment