MILNE, Little Munden, Circa 1840

February, 2004

Desley Reid (highbury @t of Melbourne, Australia, writes: Alexander MILNE bp 1833, was the son of Alexander MILNE who was the head gardener at Dane End House (Little Munden). I believe Alex the younger,  arrived in Australia unaccompanied in 1844. He was missing from the family on the 1851 census. Family legend has it that he was transported as a convict, but I have checked all the states which were accepting convicts at  that time and he wasn't on any list. He is not on any of the ship's  passenger lists to Australia that I have searched. His father died in 1852 and after that I have found no trace of the rest of the family in the parish  registers. A George MILNE of Buntingford signed the death certificate. The problem is, how and when did Alexander MILNE get to Australia and why did he go alone and so young? Do you think you can help me with this problem?

Desley also provided the following additional information: The earliest info I have on Alexander MILNE is when he married at Dunkeld, Victoria  in 1871. He married Sarah Ann FRENCH, daughter of George FRENCH from Peters Green and Emma PURTON from Great Gaddesden, Herts. At that time he was working for Charles ARMYTAGE, a wealthy squatter, on his two properties at Balmoral and Dunkeld, Victoria. He was employed as a gardener. He died in 1888 and his death certificate was signed by his mother-in-law Emma, (his wife & FIL had predeceased him). She said that he'd been in the colony of Victoria for 44 years and was from Herts

I looked at the IGI and found the birth of Alexander MILNE at the appropriate time (1833) in Dane End, Herts. I've looked at the parish registers and the births of the MILNE children are correct according to the 1851 census. There is only one MILNE family in Dane End in 1841. The 1841 census has the names and ages of the children quite wrong but they are correct in 1851, but Alexander is missing. If he came to Australia when his mother-in-law says he did in 1844, he was only 11 years old. This seems unlikely, but I have been unable to find any information which would seem to be correct. As the family gossip has Alexander as a convict, but this is not the case, I wonder if he left England voluntarily, but under a cloud? I find the mystery of his arrival in Australia quite perplexing. 

One must always be aware that you may not have identified the right Alexander Milne in England (see Right Name, Wrong Body), or he used a different name in England to the one he used in Australia. (see What did your Ancestor call himself) However I will comment on the assumption that you have the right man and that the year he went to Australia is at least approximately correct.

I have had a look in Transported beyond the Seas, and it was rare, but not unknown, for pre-teen children to be transported from Hertfordshire. For instance 12 year old John Ambrose was transported in 1821, 11 year William Henry Andrews sentenced in 1845 (but was not sent to Australia), 12 year old William Brown was transported in 1842. 9 year old Adam Chalkey was sentenced (but not sent) in 1827, while 11 year old Thomas Chalkley was sent in 1827. The youngest I spotted who was actually sent, and not just sentenced, were 9 year old Thomas Warner and Charles Groves who was sent in 1842 and 1847 respectively. While Alexander Milne is not listed, it is clear that a small number of pre-teen boys were being transported from Hertfordshire at relevant dates, and presumably from adjacent counties.

I have no idea how many pre-teen children went to Australia unaccompanied (Australian records are likely to be the best source of this information). All I can do is to make a few suggestions:

I am afraid this is not very helpful, but if you have the right person there are unlikely to be any records at this end, except perhaps workhouse or overseers of the poor account books (try HALS). If we knew what he was doing in Australia between 1844 and 1871 it might help.

September, 2004

Desley Reid (highbury @t  writes: Since I last wrote to you, I have found evidence of Alexander MILNE being involved in a land scandal in Victoria. Unfortunately, the details do not advance my knowledge of his movements prior to 1871. I wonder if anything has turned up which might give me a clue to the date he departed England?

In general adults leave far more records than children, and the departure of "normal" emigrants to Australia is unlikely to be recorded in England (particularly  in Hertfordshire, which is the subject area of this site) while their arrival is more likely to be recorded in Australia. As far as I can see virtually everything depends on the accuracy of the statement by his mother-in-law on Alexander's death certificate. Was this based on something said in 1871, when he married Sarah? Or was there significant contact between Alexander and the French and/or Purton families prior to 1871 and possibly before any of them left England? Your priority must be to find what he was doing in Australia before 1871 - and a study of the French and Purton families in Australia (and Hertfordshire) might turn up something about Alexander

There is a web page for Little Munden

If you can add to the information given above tell me.