Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The Mystery of a Philip Rerden in Australia
Those of us researching the family history have long been interested in a Philip Rerden whose name appears in the Victorian Register of Deaths as having died in 1885. He was not one of James' and Eleanor's children and yet he died in Kilmore where some of the children were born in 1870. So was he related, and if so, how?
The index gives no details and so this year I bought the full schedule that records the registration of his death. It reveals that Philip Rerden, a baker, was 58 years old when he died at 2pm on 12 January 1885 at Kilmore after a stomach disease of six months, described as probably cancer. His parents are recorded as Philip William Rerden, a carpenter, and Eliza Rerden, formerly MacKenzie. The death was registered by James Rerden, brother of the deceased, of Melbourne. It records that he was buried in Kilmore Cemetery on 13 January 1885 as a Presbyterian. It also records that he was married in Kilmore at age 49 to Eliza Dixon and they had no children. It states that he lived in Victoria for 32 years and was born in Messina? (this is a guess because the word is very hard to read).
These details raise some interesting points about Philip - he was born around 1827, but possibly not in the Channel Islands, and he arrived in Victoria around 1853. This means he may well be the first Rerden to arrive in Australia, but I have not been able to find any ship records to confirm that. He has the same father as James Rerden but a different mother, so they were half-brothers (there is some work to do in the Channel Islands on this). Was he part of the reason that James and Eleanor chose Australia, if so, was he in Queensland at the time or in Victoria and they intended to come down to Victoria all along? He was a baker like James, so they may well have worked together at some stage or operated a bakery business together.
With the details from the death register I visited Kilmore and found his grave (shown in the photo here). I also checked with the Kilmore Historical Society and found his obituary in the Kilmore Free Press on 15 January 1885. It describes him as "...a resident of Kilmore for many years and was sober, inoffensive and industrious." Maybe he wasn't a Rerden after all!!