Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lest We Forget - Reginald Sydney Merrett (1895-1917)

Reginald Sydney Merrett was the only son of my grand aunt Maria Antoinette Tissott and her husband John Thomas Merrett. He grew up in Mepunga, Victoria and enlisted in the AIF on 29 Jan 1915 at Melbourne, Victoria. After training for a year he left for Suez on HMAT A69 Warilda, arriving there on 08 Mar 1916. He spent 3 months in Egypt training before being sent to join the 12th Battalion in France, arriving there in Jun 1916. On 9 Apr 1917 he died with gun shot wounds to the chest and back and was buried at Pozieres British Cemetery (Plot II, Row J, Grave No 28), Ovillers-La-Boisselle, France.

AIF 12th Battalion, 14th Regiment, 1916
Australian War Memorial Negative Number DAX1124

After the war his family asked the Australian Red Cross for more details surrounding his death and burial however there was no new information.

Reginald died intestate, his will never being found in any of his service records.  There were bequests to him from his uncle, Alfred Tissott, his grandfather, Thomas Henry Merrett, and his father, John Thomas Merrett and this correspondence is available in the digitised copy of his file at The National Archives of Australia. His estate finally went to probate in 1939 with probate being granted to his half-sister Grace Teresa Merrett of Brunswick, Victoria.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In the beginning (or how I became obsessed with genealogy)

After my father, Eric Henry Lindsay Tissott, passed away in 2006 I was sorting out some of his papers and came across an envelope labelled "Genealogy". Now, I had no idea that he had started to pursue an interest in his family's history. Included in this slim envelope was a letter from his sister, my Aunt Ida, describing what she knew of their grandfather Henry Tissott. 

Ida's words are:
"Dad's father was born in Wolverhampton I think he said and was sent out as a boy of eight as a convict for pinching a cow and later a rabbit. Eric I forget the name of the place where convicts were sent. Evelyn and I went & saw the jail & where convicts were put in chains etc well he was there till he was 20 odd, then went to the mainland."

These few words started me climbing around the family rosebush.

My father's family grew up in Western Australia; from Tasmania, the rest of Australia is known as "the mainland" which means that my great grandfather, Henry Tissott, had been sent to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (now called Tasmania) sometime during the 19th century. The gaol that my aunts Ida and Evelyn had visited was Port Arthur.