Sepia Saturday 210: Award-winning relatives

This week’s Sepia Saturday focuses on old books and the treasures (photographic or otherwise) found in them.Sepia Saturday 210

I don’t think I’ve ever found photos tucked away in old books but we did find a group photo behind another picture from my Grandparents’ house and I talked about that in my Moustaches and Mystery post recently.

Instead I thought I’d share a few book inscriptions with you. Over the past year I’ve acquired some of the family’s old books, including my childhood books, thanks to Mum’s move to an independent retirement unit.

Book inscriptions can be interesting I think as they reveal otherwise hidden parts of an ancestor’s or relative’s life. Back in the days when books were expensive and only rarely bought by families who weren’t affluent, they were often gifts or even school prizes.

Two of the books I have included prizes awarded to family members. One was for Mr Cassmob’s grandmother, Katie McKenna, for writing in 1901.

Katie McKenna

Another was for my grandmother’s brother, Duncan McCorkindale, who was awarded the prize for passing second stage physiology and physical geography in his Glasgow school.

Duncan McCorkindale

In fact it was something about Duncan that was one of the few things I found tucked away in a bible: the notice of his rather gruesome death in Sydney. Which makes me realise that I’ve never written about that story, or his role in the building of the nation’s capital, Canberra. I need to put that on my blog post list.Irish book

I’m curious who this book belonged to as there’s no inscription, and no publication date. My best guess is that it belonged to my Irish grandfather or one of his children.

A while ago I wrote about a prize that my grandfather’s young brother had won, but I’ve no idea what his prize was. I wonder if it too was a book.

Have you found prize inscriptions in books you’ve inherited, either from your family or a used-book store?

To read the stories other Sepians have submitted this week you can click here.

Australian convict history in London – a memorial (aka Plaque in park)

Towards the end of 2010, my husband and I were in London for the final week of an overseas holiday. We had made various plans for the day ahead, but a beautifully clear and sunny day caused us to revise our plans and we decided ultimately to stroll across Vauxhall Bridge towards Westminster. Shortly after crossing the Thames we came to this unprepossessing park and happend to notice a plaque on a ballard which we stopped to look at. We were so surprised to discover that it commemorated the departure point for “all” prisoners who were transported to Australia  -departing from nearby Millbank Prison.

The plaque states:

London County Council

Near this site stood Millbank Prison which was opened in 1816 and closed in 1880. This buttress stood at the head of the river steps from which until 1867, prisoners sentenced to transportation embarked on their journey to Australia.

This was especially exciting for my husband since he had a young convict ancestor, James McKenna, who had been transported after the relatively “modern” and tolerant re-training at Pentonville Prison.

James McKenna’s mother, Elizabeth and his siblings emigrated to Australia almost immediately after his transportation so it seems they may have made arrangements to come as soon as his sentence was passed. Although the family originated in Ireland, they had been living in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire for some time previous to his offence.