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Dadswell Family History

Dunbar and related families

Ulrica (Rita) Mary Ann Dadswell married Robert Francis Dunbar at Horsham, Victoria, on 22 August 1889. The ancestors/descendents of Robert Dunbar were -

Dunbar family tree

John Dunbar (1780-?)

John Dunbar was born at Leith, near Edingburgh, Scotland, in 1780, the son of Charles and Margaret (Law) Dunbar. He lived his adult life at Leith South working as a carrier. John Dunbar married Sarah (Sally) Gardiner, daughter of Thomas and Ann (Gellatly) Gardiner on 16 June 1805 and they are thought to have had 11 children. John Dunbar would have been 41 when his 9th child, his son Peter, was born in 1821.

The children of John and Sally (Gardiner) Dunbar included:

  1. Peter Dunbar (1821-1862) - see below

Peter* Dunbar (1821-1862)

[* Peter Dunbar was named as 'John Peter Dunbar' on the marriage certificates of his two sons, but he was identified only as 'Peter' on his own birth, marriage and death records].

Peter Dunbar was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, on 23 September 1821, the son of John and Sarah (Gardiner) Dunbar. By the time of his first marriage in 1843, Peter Dunbar was a rope and sail maker living at 6 Laurie Street, Leith, near Edinburgh.

At Leith South, near Edinburgh on 17 May 1843, he married Agnes Hunter, daughter of William and Alison (Richardson) Hunter. Her father was listed as a cow feeder living in the same Leith South parish. Agnes was born on 19 December 1820 at Liberton, Edinburgh. According to the certificate from Peter Dunbar's second marriage, the couple had four children, two of whom died when young. At the time of the 1851 Scotland census, there were three children - Sarah, William and John - living with their parents at 5 Merrilees Close, Leith South. Their mother Agnes may well have been the Agnes Dunbar who died in Middlesex, England, in 1853.

The known children of Peter and Agnes (Hunter) Dunbar:

  1. Sarah Dunbar (born 1844 at Lanark, Glasgow)
  2. William Dunbar (born 1848 at Leith South, Edinburgh)
  3. John Dunbar (born 1851 at Leith South, Edinburgh)
Marriage record of Peter Dunbar and Agnes Hunter

In the 1861 Scotland census, William 12 and John 10 are shown as paupers in an institution. Both are listed as scholars.

It is unclear when their father Peter Dunbar migrated to Australia but in 1860 he married (2) Julia Gorman in a Wesleyan ceremony at Ararat, Victoria, on 21 February 1860. Julia was the daughter of John and Catherine (Keane) Gorman, who had married at Kilkenny, Ireland, on 20 June 1836. According to Julia's marriage certificate, she would have been born in Kilkenny about 1839. John and Catherine Gorman and 4 children (including one born during the voyage) arrived in Australia aboard the sailing ship Conrad in 1855.

The first child of Peter and Julia (Gorman) Dunbar was named Charles Dunbar. He was born at Ararat in 1860 but died at the age of 4 months. A second son, John Peter Dunbar, was born in 1861.

Ararat was experiencing a gold boom and Peter Dunbar described himself as a miner. He probably worked in one of the area's early alluvial or underground mines. But in June 1862, he died at the age of 40 of respiratory complications. He was buried at Ararat cemetery. Information on his death certificate was provided by a Thomas Smith, described as a friend of Peter Dunbar. The certificate did not record any wife or children.

No birth certificate has been located for a third child, Robert Francis Dunbar, but the information on Robert's marriage certificate says he was the son of Peter and Julia (Gorman) Dunbar, and it is believed Robert would have been born at Ararat late 1862 or early 1863, some months after his father had died.

At some stage, the two surviving children and their widowed mother Julia Dunbar shifted from Ararat to nearby Stawell. It was there that Julia died from burns suffered in a house fire in October 1877. She was buried in Stawell cemetery. She was 38 years old although her death certificate gave her age as 50. The Ararat and Pleasant Creek Advertiser of 12 October 1877 reported:

An old woman named Dunbar was burned to death at Stawell on Monday night. She was living in a bark hut in Patrick-street, and "it is rumoured that she was lying asleep in front of the fire while under the influence of liquor, and that her clothes caught fire." The deceased was the mother of two sons, who were not at home at the time.

A Stawell miner, Peter Donnelly, told the inquest on 9 October 1877 that at about half past 11 the previous night he "saw the bark hut in which deceased lived was on fire. I ran up to the door and called out to her son who lived with her. I did not know he was away from home. I called out was there anybody within but got no answer. The place was then all in flames - some people came up - the roof soon fell in and we then discovered the deceased was inside. She was lying on her back close to fireplace. She was quite dead and the body was dreadfully burnt. I had seen the deceased alive lately."

The inquest jury found that Julia Dunbar had accidentally burned to death through her house catching fire but that there was no evidence showing how the fire occurred.

The children of Peter and Julia (Gorman) Dunbar:

  1. Charles Dunbar (1860-1860)
  2. John Peter Dunbar (1861-1947) - see below
  3. Robert Francis Dunbar (1863-1950) - see below

John Peter Dunbar (1861-1947)

John Peter Dunbar, second son of Peter and Julia (Gorman) Dunbar, was born at Ararat in 1861. He was a 25-year-old blacksmith when he married Margaret Dunbar, daughter of John and Ellen (Hassett) Dunbar, farmers of Stawell, in 1888. His brother Robert was one of the witnesses to the ceremony at the Catholic Church in Horsham. John Peter Dunbar and his wife Margaret would be witnesses at the wedding of his brother Robert the following year.

John Dunbar had many jobs - linesman, timber splitter, blacksmith and labourer. When young he also played football and was a member of Horsham Fire Brigade.

His wife Margaret Dunbar died at Horsham in 1909 when aged 49. John Peter Dunbar then left Horsham and moved to Melbourne to live with his daughter Ellen in Footscray. At the age of 86 he died at Ellen's home at Port Melbourne in 1947 and was buried at Springvale Cemetery. John and Margaret had three children:

  1. Ellen Dunbar (1889-1948)
  2. Julia Dunbar (1891-1913) died in Melbourne at age 22
  3. John Peter Dunbar (1894-1966)

Robert Francis Dunbar (1863-1950)

Robert Francis Dunbar was the third child of Peter and Julia (Gorman) Dunbar. No birth record has been located but he is thought to have been born at Ararat in 1853, some months after his father, a miner, had died of lung complications.

He and his brother John Peter Dunbar lived with their widowed mother Julia Dunbar and at some time after 1853 the family moved to nearby Stawell. When Robert was aged 14, his mother died when the family's bark hut in Patrick Street, Stawell, burned down.

Robert was a blacksmith in Horsham when he met Ulrica (Rita) Mary Ann Dadswell who was born at Pleasant Creek (now Stawell) on 11 December 1868, the youngest child of Thomas William and Helena Aurora (Scheer) Dadswell.

Rita, 20, worked in the First Commercial Hotel in Horsham, and on 22 August 1889 she and Robert Francis Dunbar, 25, married in the Catholic Church.

Indications are that the couple lived with Rita's father, Thomas Dadswell, in Wilson Street to 1892, Urquart Street to 1895 and Darlot Street to 1898 when Thomas probably left Horsham. The first of the couple's eight children, Charles Thomas Dunbar, was born in 1889.

By 1898, the couple had had four children - all born in Horsham - with one dying as an infant. In that year, the family sailed from Victoria to Western Australia to live in May Cottage, located in the Subiaco railway yards, just west of the city.

Robert worked as a railway fettler and later the family moved to a home in nearby Churchill Avenue, Subiaco. By 1906, the couple's eight children had been born.

Robert, remembered as a large bearded man, and Rita both lived into their 80s. Robert died in 1950 aged 86, and when Rita later became frail she lived with her daughter Helena (Mrs George Brown) who also lived at Subiaco. Rita died at the family home on 7 June 1955, aged 87. The couple had eight children.

  1. Charles Thomas Dunbar (1889-1916) - died in France during World War One
  2. Thomas William Dunbar (1891-1923) - married Emma Hammond at Coolgardie, WA
  3. Robert Ernest Dunbar (1894-1894) - died aged six months
  4. Helena Florence Dunbar (1895-1984) - married George Brown in Perth, WA
  5. Eileen Mary Dunbar (1898-1970) - married Peter Nissen in Perth, WA
  6. Norman Robert James Dunbar (1901-1992) - married Maisie Evelyn Duncan in Perth, WA
  7. Jack Dadswell Dunbar (1903-1904) - died when aged one year
  8. Ronald Clement Dunbar (1906-1975) - married Mary Christina Resiness in Perth, WA

Further information

Robert and Ulrica Dunbar's children
Ulrica Mary Ann Dadswell


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