Monday, 11 January 2010

John Doveton and Margaret Doveton - Part 1

The suburb of Doveton was established in the mid 1950s by the Housing Commission to provide housing for the employees of the 'Big Three' Industrial companies, International Harvestor Company, H.J Heinz and General Motors Holden. The area was originally known as Grassmere or Eumemmerring, however in September 1954 the new suburb was named Doveton after Captain John Doveton. This is an interesting choice given that Captain and Mrs Doveton were only in the area for ten years and there are other families with a much longer or much earlier connection to the area. However it is a pleasant sounding name and is a variation of the name Dufton which means ‘Farmstead where doves are kept’.

Very little is known about the Dovetons, so I thought I would see what I could find out about them, using freely available resources and the best thing is, you can do the same sort of searches to find information on any of your own ancestors. You don't even need to have the Internet on at home, you can use the Internet, free, at any of our Libraries. The only money I spent was on obtaining a copy of John Doveton’s death certificate and a copy of their marriage certificate, but they gave me so much new information it was well worth the money, plus it gave me confirmed or official information.

There is a lot of Family History information on the Internet and some of the information I have come across on the Doveton Family I know is untrue, even from my own basic research on the family. I started my search by checking out the Indexes to the Victorian Birth, Death and Marriage (BDM) records. To obtain certificates you need the Registration numbers and the BDM Indexes give you these. You can access, for free, the Indexes to the BDM records at our Narre Warren, Pakenham and Cranbourne Libraries. For information about purchasing certificates follow this link to the Victorian Department of Justice

These are the signatures of John Doveton and Margaret Doveton from their Marriage Certificate. We don't have any photographs of them, so it is the only physical connection we have to them.

The marriage certificate told me that John Doveton married Margaret Elizabeth Doveton on October 8, 1873 at All Saints Church in St Kilda. The certificate also told me that his parents were John Bazett Doveton and Harriet Fenton and that her parents were Francis Crossman Doveton and Margaret Bostock. He was born in Saltford and his occupation was listed as Master Mariner. His father’s occupation was listed as “Clerk in Holy Orders”. Margaret was born in Tasmania and her father is listed as an “Officer in the Army”. On his death certificate I found out that John died, at the age of 61, on April 7, 1904 and that at the time he was living at Atherton Road in Oakleigh. He died of throat and liver cancer and was buried at the Oakleigh Cemetery. Once again it lists his parents and the name of his wife, and also the fact that they had no children. We also find out that he has been in Victoria for ‘25 years’. His age at death also gives us an approximate date of birth of 1843.

The Doveton marriage was announced in The Argus newspaper of Saturday, October 11, 1873, page 4.

Now we can have some basic information, we can start working back and I looked at the Ancestry database, available free at all the Casey Cardinia Libraries, and searched for his father, John Bazett Doveton, in the United Kingdom Census Collection. It is a fairly unusual name and I found out that in 1851 the family was living at Burnett and his occupation was Rector of Burnett and that he was 44 and his wife Harriet was 32. There were five children, Catherine (aged 9), our John (aged 8), Bazett (aged 6) Caroline (aged 3) and Ella (aged 1). The household also had a Governess and four servants so it was a fairly comfortable household. John’s birthplace on the Census records is listed as Saltford, so that all ties in with the information on his Death and Marriage certificates. His age in 1851 is listed as 8 years old, which makes his year of birth 1843, which ties in with the date we worked out from his Death Certificate. In the 1861 Census, John Bazette Doveton was still the Rector of Burnett, but we find that there are two more children in the family, Mary Harriet aged 9 and Henry aged only 10 months.

This is from the Oxford University Alumni, 1500-1886, available on the Ancestry database

Ancestry also has an interesting database the Oxford University Alumini 1500-1886. We can find John’s father and grandfather listed as Alumni. John Bazett Doveton is the second son of John Frederick Doveton, of Blagden in Somerset, who obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law in 1804. John Bazett Doveton matriculated in 1825, aged 18, received his Bachelor of Arts in 1831 and his Masters of Arts in 1834. He is also listed as being the Rector of Burnett, Somerset – this ties in with the Census information, plus both the Census and the Alumni information both indicate that John Bazett Doveton was born around 1807. So you can see how we are building up a picture of John’s early life and solid upper middle class family back ground.

I thought I would see what I could find out about his life in Australia by searching the newspapers available through the National Library of Australia's Australian Newspapers Collection. The National Library of Australia ( has digitised major Australian newspapers and they are a wealth of information. I found a notice of John's marriage to Margaret in The Argus of October 11, 1873 (reproduced above). There was a report in The Argus of September 22, 1876 about the new steamship Durham which had just arrived from London after 50 days of sailing. Mr John Doveton is listed as the Second Officer, but he did not sail again with the Durham when she left port, as he had ‘elected to remain in the Colony’. In 1879, John Doveton, as the Chief Officer of the Julia Percy, gave evidence at an Inquiry into a collision between the Julia Percy and the St Joseph. The Argus has various reports, in the Shipping Intelligence column, of Captain Doveton arriving and departing Melbourne as the Captain of the Julia Percy, then the Tamar and then the Southern Cross.

The Hobart Mercury, Monday, 8 May 1882, page 2.

A report in the Hobart Mercury of May 8, 1882 (reproduced above) said Southern Cross, under Doveton, run ashore on the Vansittart Shoals between Babel Island and Cape Barren in Bass Strait. Captain Doveton was suspended from the Command, pending an enquiry. Another report in the May 23, 1882 said that Captain Doveton had resigned. After this, the only reports I could find about Captain Doveton involved him supervising work at the Wright, Orr & Co. floating Dry Dock and later at Dukes Graving Dock.

We now know something about John Doveton’s family life and his working life – and the next step is to find out about his connection to the area which eventually bore his name. The Library has the Shire of Cranbourne Rate Books from 1863 and the Shire of Berwick Rate Books from 1875 on CD-Rom. You can use these at Narre Warren, Cranbourne and Pakenham branches. The first listing for Captain Doveton was in the 1893-94 Shire of Berwick Rate books. He owned a house and 2½ acres at Lot 53 in Grassmere. The following year he had another 2½ acres at Lot 56, so five acres in all. From 1900 it was leased out and was sold on August 21 1903 to Robert Skinner. Even though Captain Doveton was listed as the ratepayer, according to a copy of the Title we have in the Archive, the property was actually purchased in Margaret's name. The house, which is now demolished was located around Gumbuya Close, off Doveton Avenue. In our Archive we also have a copy of an article from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of April 10, 1896 which says that Captain Doveton had erected a 70 foot high flag pole in front of his ‘cosy residence’ where, on Sunday and high holidays, a 10 foot flag was flown.

This is from the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954, available on Ancestry database.

One other source of information we can use are the Australian Electoral Rolls on Ancestry database. The 1903 roll, for the Division of Kooyong, lists John and Margaret Doveton living at Ferntree Gully Road in Oakleigh and his occupation is listed as Poultry Farmer (see above). The death notice in The Argus on April 9, 1904 says that he died at “Burnett’, Atherton Road in Oakleigh, his property obviously being named after his childhood home. (see below)

The Argus, Saturday, April 9, 1904, page 9.

By using all these freely available sources we have built up a picture of Doveton’s life. In the next post we will look at Margaret Doveton's life and discover a connection to Royalty!

No comments: